*WARNING* - This story is going to be very dark. It deals with rape, murder, torture, foul language, and two very broken souls. NOT MEANT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. This will be my only warning.

A/N: That being said, I am so excited to start this new story. I am posting it exactly one year after my very first post on this site. This one is, of course, very different. I have wanted to write a dark story for a while because they are my favorite to read.

Oh! There is a time skip in this chapter so I italicized the first half to make it clear.

So yeah, I don't own Harry Potter. Everything belongs to JK Rowling.

Hermione fell back at the impact of the blast from Bellatrix and Mrs. Weasley's duel. They were going at it pretty strong and Molly was refusing the aid of anyone who tried to help. She wanted to finish this woman - if you could even call such a monster that - off herself.

"Mum!" Ginny cried as she jumped up after her own fall.

Hermione took a moment for her head to stop spinning before getting back to her feet. She scanned the room for Ginny, finding her just as Bellatrix sent her flying backwards again with a simple wave of her wand. Molly was livid. She tried to retaliate by throwing everything she had at her but Bellatrix was just too strong. The witch threw another Killing Curse and, this time, it hit directly over Molly's heart.

Molly's body went stiff, her eyes bulging as she had a small moment of clarity before toppling over. She landed with a thump, her eyes still wide open and lifeless, and aimed right at Ginny. Voldemort turned and looked, letting out an uproarious laugh as he blasted Kingsley, McGonagall and Slughorn backward.

"MUM! NO!"

Ginny tried to run to her but her brother, Charlie, grabbed her before she could and carried her kicking and screaming from the Great Hall.

"Hermione!"

Hermione turned to see Ron running towards her.

"Ron! Your … your mom! I … I'm sor -"

"I know. I saw," he said, cutting her off as he tried to hold back his tears. "Where's Harry?"

"I … I don't know. Where's V-Voldemort."

They both scanned the Great Hall, their eyes not stopping until they found Voldemort and Harry looking at each other. They slowly began to circle one another.

Hermione and Ron were just about to run to him when Harry loudly announced, "I don't want anyone else to try to help." They halted. "It's got to be like this. It's got to be me."

Just then, Yaxley successfully maneuvered George and Lee Jordan off of him. He slammed George to the ground and sent Lee flying backwards with a blast so strong it nearly split him in two. Hermione and Ron were close enough that his blood splattered onto both of them.

When Arthur and Percy turned to check on George, Thicknesse made his move and escaped from under them. He began dueling the two of them while Yaxley set his sights back on George. Ron and Hermione stepped in to help but the Death Eater had a newfound strength that they were no match for.

All around them, the Great Hall became chaos once more. Walden Macnair, who had been faking unconsciousness, jumped back up and began shooting Killing Curses at anyone who crossed his path.

People began to flee as the battle took a turn for the worse. Throughout it all, Hermione and Ron lost track of Harry. The only way they were able to find him was by following the eyes of everyone who was still frozen against the walls. He and Voldemort had not struck yet, a clear glimmer of panic was visible in Harry's expression as he realized how quickly they were losing control.

And then both wands lifted, aimed at each other as Harry put all of his hope into one final spell.

"Avada Kedavra!"

"Expelliarmus!"

A thundering bang echoed through the Great Hall as both spells collided, creating a bright burst of golden flames. Each wizard continued to hold their arm strong.

Right versus Wrong.

Good versus Evil.

Love versus Hate.

There was no question about who should have won that duel. The wizard with the strong heart should have prevailed. The one with his soul still intact.

But that was not how it happened that day. The green jet of light that shot out of Voldemort's wand wrestled for control with Harry's spell for a moment, before completely engulfing it.

The Hawthorn wand Harry had been holding went flying. He was blasted backwards, his own spell spreading outwards in a way that blocked the Killing Curse from hitting him, but did not protect him from the stone wall behind him. Harry knocked his head and landed in an unconscious heap on the floor.

"Harry!" Hermione screamed as Ron held her back.

Voldemort came for him again, but several witches and wizards stepped in his way, sacrificing their own lives to give Hagrid time to scoop Harry into his arms and flee with him into the corridors. Ron grabbed Hermione's hand and they quickly followed, running by Narcissa Malfoy as she picked up the Hawthorn wand from the ground.

"Hagrid, wait!" they called as he hurried away, but he did not hear him.

"AHH!"

Hermione and Ron both froze at the sound of the scream, recognizing it as Ginny's. They looked down one of the corridor's to see Fenrir Greyback back on his feet, pursuing her, Charlie, Bill and Fleur with a gleaming, hungry look in his eye.

Ron gulped before turning to the girl on his hand. "Hermione, I -"

"I know," she said, putting her free hand on his cheek and looking deep into his eyes. "You have to go to your family. I'll follow Hagrid and find out where he's taking Harry. Wait in the forest just outside of the gates and I'll find a way to get word to you."

Ron nodded before leaning in and kissing her. "I love you, Hermione."

She smiled. "I love you too."

"Stay safe," he said before letting go of her hand and running towards his family.

Hermione fought back a sob as she swiveled on her foot and took back off in the direction Hagrid had gone. She had barely turned the corner when she ran right into someone with such a force, they both fell backwards.

When Hermione sat up, she saw Draco Malfoy do the same. He put a hand on his aching head before looking at her, his eyes immediately widening at something behind her shoulder.

Hermione turned just in time to see Thicknesse shoot a Killing Curse at them. Both she and Draco rolled out of its path. When she looked again, Draco was crawling on his elbows and knees towards a body lying on the ground, searching it frantically for what she could only assume was a wand.

"Traitor!" Thicknesse called before shooting another Killing Curse at Draco.

Draco held up the body and used it as a shield.

Hermione jumped back to her feet and shouted, "Stupefy!" sending Thicknesse falling backwards.

"What are you doing?" said Draco, throwing down the body. "This is a bloody war, Granger! AIM TO KILL!"

"No!" she shouted back at him. "He's under the Imperius Curse. I will not kill the innocent!"

"Whatever," said Draco, climbing to his feet. "Your bloody funeral."

He glared at her before searching more lain about bodies for a wand.

"How many times do we have to save your life before you finally say thank you?"

"At least once more," he said, with a quick glance up and a wink.

Hermione rolled her eyes. She was about to run back after Hagrid when she realized she had absolutely no idea where he went. And with those giant feet of his, chances were he was long gone by now. She would never catch up.

As she stared blankly down the corridor Hagrid had gone down, Draco found a wand behind her. He tested it out but it was a horrible match. This wand would be of little use to him. Still, he held onto it, because a bad wand was better than no wand at all.

Giving up on finding Hagrid and Harry, Hermione had just turned to run back towards Ron when someone ran into the corridor.

"DRACO!" screamed Narcissa as she hurried towards her son.

"Mum!" he screamed back, getting to his feet and running to meet her halfway.

With the two of them distracted, Hermione tried to head for the corridor Ron had gone down but, before she got very far, Lucius appeared and nearly toppled her over to reach his embracing wife and son. She noticed Narcissa slip the Hawthorn wand into Draco's hand.

Hermione tried to run for it again but, this time, Bellatrix Lestrange turned into their corridor.

"Cissy!" she called, aiming her wand at her sister as she stampeded forward. "You have betrayed the Dark Lord! You have betrayed us all!"

"No!" Narcissa pushed Draco behind her. "Bella, you must understand -"

"I understand that you are a traitor! A filthy, lying, wandless traitor!" Bellatrix smirked before slashing her wand in the air, sending a jet of green light down the corridor and straight at her sister's heart.

Hermione slammed herself against the wall as the spell shot by her.

"MOTHER!" cried Draco as Narcissa collapsed into his arms.

"Cissy, no! My darling, my darling!" shouted Lucius, falling to his knees and cradling his wife's lifeless face. "What have you done?" He turned and snarled as Bellatrix continued to walk towards him.

"What I had to do," she said, finally turning her eyes towards Hermione, who was still pressed against the wall. "What do we have here?"

Hermione raised her wand but it was already too late.

"Expelliarmus!"

She and her wand went flying down the corridor. When she looked to see where it had landed, Lucius was just picking it up off the ground.

"Break it, Lucius! Break it and grab her!"

"Why?" he said evenly, his eyes lost somewhere between grief and anger as he stared at his wife's murderer.

"Because Harry Potter has fled! If you want to keep you and your son alive then I suggest you give the Dark Lord something that can lure him back out."

Hermione shook her head. She tried to look to Draco first, so she could plead with him to let her go, but his eyes were still blank and focused on his mother. She then looked to Lucius. He stared back at her, torn for a moment before glancing down at her wand.

It was clear what he wanted to do. Kill his sister-in-law and avenge his wife. But that was a risk and he had a son to think about.

Without any more hesitation, Lucius lifted his other hand and snapped Hermione's wand in two.

Hermione winced. "That was yours, you know?" she said, turning towards Bellatrix.

"Yes, I am aware. But I have no interest in repossessing a wand that has been held by a filthy Mudblood!" she spat. "Lucius, I will not tell you again! Grab her and take her to the Dark Lord!"

Hermione sprung to her feet and Lucius did the same. She was caught between him and Bellatrix with no wand and no exit in between. Still, she had to at least try to escape this.

Seeing Lucius as less of a threat, Hermione attempted to run past him but he shot a spell at her, causing her to fly and fall, landing just beside Narcissa's dead body.

"Ow!" she cried out in pain as she landed hard on her wrist.

Draco's eyes finally focused as he turned his head to look at her. She stared back at him desperately, pleading for him to do something, anything more than just sit there. But Draco did nothing. All he did was open his mouth like he was going to say something but, before he could, Lucius had Hermione by the hair and was yanking her to her feet.

"Draco, head home," he said. "Take your mother with you and stay hidden until I come for you. I want to get this all straightened out with the Dark Lord before you show your face again. You understand?"

Draco nodded slowly, his mouth still slightly open as he stared at his father, and then at Hermione. "What are you going to do with her?" he asked.

"That is for the Dark Lord to decide," said Bellatrix, using her wand to bind Hermione's wrists.

"No!" Hermione screamed as Lucius dragged her through the corridors. "Harry! Ron! Please!" She looked back at Draco with one last pleading look while he still sat on the ground, holding his dead mother in his arms. "NO!"

And then they were around the corner, her last hope out of sight as Lucius and Bellatrix forced her onwards, leading her towards their Master. Cheers echoed down the corridors as Voldemort and his followers celebrated their victory, knowing very well that not just the wizarding world, but the entire world was now theirs for the taking.

And Hermione Granger had just received a front row seat to the hell they were going to create.

XXX

Hermione awoke suddenly as the carriage came to a halt. Her heart began to race as she looked out of the small, barred window to see where they were. She knew the home but not well. The Death Eater who resided here liked his slaves fresh, and she hadn't been that way in a long time.

A girl whimpered in the seat across from her. Hermione looked at her unmarked skin and sighed. She was young. She was beautiful. He would love her.

The door to the back of the carriage opened.

"There aren't many this time," she heard the driver say as his face appeared in the bright shaft of light. "The Dark Lord has been disposing of more and more of them lately. Been in one hell of a mood since they lost track of that damn Potter again."

The Death Eater, Macnair, poked his head in and thoroughly scanned the goods. His eyes paused for a moment on Hermione. She stared back at him with cold, unafraid eyes that made many of the Dark Lord's followers look right past her, since they feasted on fear.

As expected, he quickly moved on from her to the whimpering girl, not even taking notice of the young man, two beaten and bruised girls or the elderly woman also in the carriage.

"What's this one?" he asked, pointing at her. "Muggle-born?"

"No. Just plain ol' Muggle. They found a bunch of 'em hidin' in the Underground. The Dark Lord had the others all executed on the streets, but Nott requested to keep this one. This is her first run since."

"Yes, I can tell. She's certainly in better condition than the rest," said Macnair, glancing slightly at Hermione. "Bring her out. It's been a long time since I've had such a pretty, young one in my home." He licked his lips.

The girl struggled and screamed as the driver climbed into the carriage and dragged her out by her bound wrists. He slammed and locked the door behind her. All of the prisoners sat and listened in silence as she continued to scream all the way to the house.

Hermione looked out of the small, barred window and watched her until she was gone. She had learned a long time ago that it was a waste of energy to struggle like that. The chains they wore would zap them dead if they traveled more than one-hundred feet from the carriage. She had seen it happen many times before. There simply was no means for escape. Of course, some might argue that death was the better option. She certainly thought about it often enough.

"Such a shame."

Hermione turned to see that the old woman sitting beside her was also staring out of the window.

"Only in these dark times could being so young and beautiful ever be such a curse."

Hermione nodded but she did not speak. She found that it was best to keep friendly words and names out of these carriage rides, since there was a fairly decent chance she would never see any of these people again.

This old woman she actually recognized from several carriage rides before. She had been a slave since the beginning, just like Hermione.

Suddenly, the doors burst back open and the driver shoved a different girl into the carriage. She was bloody and beaten, her left eye so swollen that you could barely see it behind the large, purple mark. She must have also been a Muggle, because Macnair always treated them the worst.

The girl settled into a seat and began sobbing into her hands as the carriage pulled back in motion.

"Looks like we're headed for the city," said the old woman, still staring out of the window. "That means you have at least an hour to rest." She looked at Hermione and smiled. "Come here, dearie. Go ahead and place your head on my lap. Out of all of our times traveling in this thing together, I have never seen you look so weary before."

Hermione glanced hesitantly down at the woman's lap before looking into her blue eyes, which still shined bright even after all she had been through. Hermione tried to smile back but it fell short. How long had it been since she had last genuinely smiled? And then she remembered. It was the last time she had seen Ron. When he told her he loved her.

"Thank you," she said weakly before laying her body down with her head resting on the woman's lap.

The old woman began stroking her hair, the gentle touch soothing Hermione enough to drift off into a shallow sleep. She didn't know how to sleep deeply anymore, since it was next to impossible when you always had to keep one eye open.

Hermione had no clue how long it had been since the war. It had definitely been several years, but she had stopped keeping track after the first. Mundane things like time only made her life as a slave all the more miserable.

They had these slave trades every two months or so, to keep those still fighting in the resistance from ever finding their loved ones. It was Bellatrix's idea. Hermione had been there when she came up with it. In fact, she was the inspiration. Some Death Eaters were given the choice to hold onto their slaves until the next trade, but not when it came to her. She was required to switch each and every time.

Sometimes Hermione would hear stories about Harry Potter's followers bombarding places she had once stayed, supposedly looking for her, but they were always too late. She had not heard about any of these rescue missions in a long time.

The rumor was that Harry Potter had forgotten about her. Her last owner told her that the Dark Lord had been considering disposing of her, preferably by way of a very public execution. They had meant to scare her, but Hermione had only found relief in their words. Yes, there were days when she still wanted to escape from here and fight, but on other days - most days - she thought of how much easier things would be if she just ended it all.

"We're close," the old woman whispered after what seemed like far too short of a rest.

Hermione sat back up and looked out the window, staring down at the bright lights of London. After Voldemort's defeat over the wizarding world, he had gone for the Muggle one. This city was the first he had taken over. His pride and joy. He resided here when he wasn't out taking over other parts of the world, in the Minister of Magic's old home. She had no clue where Pius Thicknesse resided, seeing as he was still the Minister and under the Imperius Curse after all of these years.

Most Muggle's had fled the city when Voldemort took over, but some were still trapped here, taking refuge in the sewers or the Underground. Many were kept locked in their homes, given only the bare minimum to survive, while others were made slaves. Not a slave in the same sense that Hermione or the other people in this carriage were slaves, but something more like a house-elf, only viewed even lower as far as the wizards and witches who owned them were concerned.

Hermione could only imagine the fear these people felt, finding out that magic existed, and having their entire world shattered and taken from them in one fell swoop. It was so horrible to think about. Even if Voldemort was one day defeated, the world could never be the same. Too much damage had been done. It was the same with her. No matter what happened next, Hermione knew she could never be the same.

There was suddenly something tickling at her ear. She automatically winced before pushing whatever it was away. As it turned out, it was only the old woman moving some loose hairs out of her face.

"You don't look well," the woman said with a frown.

Hermione looked down at her bruised arms that were hanging out of her tattered cloak and sighed. Over the years, she had always been tortured - that was a given - but this last place had really done a number on her. Apparently, the only reason the Death Eater had chosen Hermione out of all of the slaves was because their brother had recently been killed when Harry's followers had raided his home. Since they couldn't get revenge on who they wanted, they got it on Hermione instead.

"Nothing I can't handle," said Hermione, even though she knew she needed medical treatment. There just had to have been some internal bleeding. Her ribs hurt most of all. Sometimes the pain was so great, she couldn't even breathe.

Suddenly, there was something being shoved into Hermione's hands. It was covered by a thick, green handkerchief but she didn't even have to open it to know what it was. She turned to the old woman with wide eyes.

"W-what -"

"You need this more than I do. Get out of here. Find Harry Potter and help him set us all free."

"I … I can't take this," said Hermione, trying to hand the gift back to her.

"But you must," said the woman. "Many of us believe that Harry Potter has not attempted to fight the Dark Lord again because he fears for your life."

Hermione cringed. She hated to hear slaves call Voldemort that, but it started to come naturally after being around Death Eaters for so long. Even she let it slip from time to time.

"If you escape then he will have no reason not to fight."

"That is easier said than done," said Hermione, still staring down at the handkerchief.

"And I have complete faith that you will succeed."

The left corner of Hermione's mouth twitched upwards. "Where did you get this?"

The woman smiled. "Slaves like me are not watched quite as closely as ones like you. I simply slipped it out of the kitchen. Sometimes, Death Eaters forget that there are other ways to harm people than magic."

Just then, the carriage came to a halt. Hermione quickly slipped the item into her cloak pocket before looking up. Everyone in the carriage was watching her. Hopefully, none of them blabbed. That would be the end of her for sure.

As always, Hermione looked out of the window to see where they were. It was a rather large house in one of the oldest wizarding streets in London. She had been here many times before and knew instantly that this would be her last stop tonight. She was, after all, his favorite.

"I have an extra special treat for you, Sir," said the driver, opening the door to their carriage and letting the Death Eater look inside.

Rodolphus Lestrange poked his head into the carriage and did not look around for long before his eyes fell upon Hermione. They lit up as he smiled. "Well, if it isn't my precious Mudblood. You have returned to me at last. How long has it been? I would say at least a year."

Hermione had no idea how long it had been. It did not seem like an entire year had passed since she had last seen him, but she trusted his concept of time much more than hers.

Without waiting for him to say anything more, Hermione stood up and walked out of the carriage, not even bothering to wait for the driver to come and get her.

"Eager one you got 'ere," said the driver with a wink.

"Yes, she always is," said Rodolphus proudly.

Hermione tried to step down, but Rodolphus grabbed her by the waist and did it for her. Her body winced at the touch.

He frowned and stroked a bruise on her cheek. "Someone has not taken proper care of you."

Hermione moved away. She looked back at the old woman in the carriage one last time before the door was shut and locked. Following Rodolphus, with the driver right behind her, Hermione used her bound hands to stroke the Thestrals pulling the carriage as she passed them. How she longed for the days when they had been invisible to her. But the time of her innocence was long gone.

"Fanin!" Rodolphus called as soon as the front door was closed.

A house-elf instantly Apparated in front of them. "Yes, Master?"

"Go and fetch the other slave immediately. I want to get this trade over with quickly so the night can proceed."

The house-elf nodded and Disapparated.

Rodolphus looked at Hermione and scanned her from head to foot. "Remove the binds," he said. "I would like to get this cloak off of her so I can see the damage that has been done."

The driver did as he was instructed, even going as far as taking off Hermione's cloak and hanging it in the closet. She stared after it longingly, wishing she had kept the item on her instead of in its pocket.

Rodolphus walked over to her and rubbed his hands up and down her arms, making her shudder. He found his way to her hips and lifted her shirt slightly, taking a peek at the bruises underneath it.

"Clearly, your last owner did not know what they had. This cannot be fixed overnight."

Footsteps sounded in the hallways and they all looked to see Fanin walk back into the room with a haughty looking girl behind him.

"I thought you said I could stay?" she said, crossing her arms and giving Hermione a particularly cruel look.

"That was before I knew what was waiting for me in the carriage."

"Her?" said the girl with disdain. "This beaten whore?"

Rodolphus's eyes widened.

"Master, please, I am the better choice. No one can make you feel the way I -"

"Crucio!"

The girl fell back, screaming as the curse overtook her. All Hermione could do was watch as this stranger convulsed on the floor, trying hard to grab at Rodolphus' feet.

"Master, why?" she cried once the curse had passed.

"You will not speak to her in that manner again," he said through clenched teeth. "Do you hear me?"

"Yes," she answered, crying some more. "I am so sorry, Master. Please! I love you! Let me stay with you!"

"No. You will never stay in this house again."

"NO! Master!"

She reached for his feet again but Rodolphus stepped back and held out his wand, ready to curse her once more. The girl closed her eyes and waited for it to hit but, before he could cast it, Hermione reached out her hand and put it on top of his.

"That is enough," she said, carefully lowering his hand. "I take no offense. Can you not see that she is just hurt?"

Even though Hermione did not want to see this girl struck again, she felt little pity for slaves who fell in love with their owners. Of course, she doubted it was really about that. Out of all of the Death Eaters who participated in the slave trade, Rodolphus was, if nothing else, a safe bet. He did not torture the ones he took in, though he did do many other things to them. Things that some might consider just as bad, if not worse. But, as long as his wife was not there - and she so rarely was - his home was one of the better ones to be in.

"Fine," said Rodolphus, putting his wand away but still taking a moment to kick the girl off of his foot. "Take her away. I never want to see her face again."

The girl continued to cry as the driver put Hermione's old binds on her wrists. Rodolphus took Hermione's hand and led her into the drawing room as the other two exited.

"Fanin, please go into the kitchen and fetch our guest here one of our strongest Healing Potions. We must nurse her back to health immediately."

"Yes, Master," said the house-elf before heading towards the kitchen.

"Now then, let me get a good look at you," said Rodolphus, settling Hermione in front of him and trying to remove her shirt.

She quickly grabbed at the ends and pulled it back down. "Don't."

"But I need to see the extent of the damage, my precious Mudblood."

Hermione cringed as he spoke the name he always called her. She hated it. "No. I don't want you to see."

Rodolphus frowned. "Difficult as always." He grabbed her arm harshly, making her wince. His frown deepened. "Wait here," he said before exiting the room.

The moment he was gone, Hermione ran over to the closet with a slight limp and found her cloak. She dug through the pockets and pulled out the item the old woman had given her. After removing it from the handkerchief, she stuck it in the front of her trousers and pulled her shirt down to cover it. Then she shut the closet and went back to the drawing room.

Rodolphus returned a minute later, holding a small bottle full of a blue liquid. Hermione turned her back on him. She heard him open the bottle and pour its contents onto his hands. He came up behind her and began stroking her arms.

"What are you doing?" she asked, getting goose pimples in every spot he touched with the cold liquid.

"Numbing you," he answered. "There is no way you will be completely healed by tonight, and I still plan on reuniting properly." He moved her hair aside and began running his tongue along her neck.

"Stop it, Lestrange."

"Oh, my precious Mudblood. Won't you, just this once, call me Master?"

"Never."

Rodolphus chuckled lightly. "All of these years and you are still so impossible to break. I might admire you if you weren't so filthy and pathetic." He moved his hands into her shirt and started running them along her bare stomach, just missing the tip of the item poking out of her trousers.

Hermione grabbed his wrist and sharply pulled it away. "Remove your hands from me."

"And if I don't?" he asked, grabbing her other arm and twisting her around so she was facing him. "You forget that, for the next two months, you belong to me." He lifted his hand and used a single finger to stroke her cheek. "I have also spoken to the Dark Lord about possibly keeping you here permanently. If he decides not to execute you then he says he will consider it."

Hermione recoiled and moved her face away from him. He just smiled and ran his fingers through her hair.

How she loathed him.

Perhaps the only thing more pathetic than a Muggle-born who falls for their Death Eater master, is a Death Eater who falls for their Mudblood slave. Rodolphus would never admit it, but he was in love with her. He had been for a long time. And nothing revolted her more than having to see that yearning look in his eyes every time she was near him.

"I said, remove your hands from me," she repeated slowly and harshly. "This is your last warning."

He smirked and said, "Make me," before pulling her head inward and meeting her lips with his.

In the same swift movement, Hermione bit down hard on his lip while pulling the item out of her trousers.

"Ow!"

Rodolphus stepped back and readied his hand to slap her when he felt something plunge into his stomach. He gasped before slowing looking down, finally removing his hand from her arm to hold it over the bleeding hole in his center. His eyes moved to Hermione's hand, watching as the blood, his blood, dripped off of the small knife she currently held. Then they moved up to her face. Her eyes were flaring as she stared back at him with the fiercest scowl. He had never seen such anger before, or he had chosen not to notice it. Either way, until this moment, part of him truly believed that she cared for him just as much as he cared for her. But he had been wrong. So, so wrong.

"W-why?" he asked in a choked voice as blood continued to pour from his wound.

"I told you to remove your hands from me and you didn't listen. I don't want you touching me. I've never wanted you touching me. And, now, you will never touch me again."

With those final words, Hermione lifted her blade and used it to slash open Rodolphus' throat. He grabbed at the wound before falling to the floor, struggling to stay conscious as he bled out.

Hermione watched him until he stopped moving, only then looking down at the bloody knife she held. She didn't think she could do it, take someone's life in such a brutal and cruel fashion, but she had and she hardly felt sorry about it. He was a Death Eater. A murderer. She had probably saved dozens of lives by ridding the world of him, including her own.

"AHH!"

Hermione turned to see Fanin standing in the entrance to the room. The house-elf ran away quickly, dropping the potion he held as he did so.

"No!" shouted Hermione, darting to catch it, but she was too late. The bottle shattered. "Dammit!"

There was no time to stress over it. She quickly ran back to Rodolphus' body and searched it until she came out with his wand. It wouldn't be much use since, when they found out what she had done, they would put a trace on it usage, but it could at least help her get somewhere.

With the wand in hand, Hermione ran over to the closet and threw it open. At first, she was going to grab her own cloak but then she noticed how tattered it was. She would definitely stand out in a crowd while wearing that. So, instead, she grabbed a simple black one and put it on. She reacted a bit when she realized it smelled like her. Rodolphus' wife and the person she hated most in this world. Bellatrix. It was because of her that Hermione became a slave in the first place. Her and the Malfoys. How she loathed them. All of them.

Once the cloak was on, Hermione stuck her knife and the confiscated wand into her pocket. She opened the door and sprinted outside, not stopping until she was off of the property.

Pulling the hood of the cloak over her head, Hermione looked in every direction before walking off into the night, searching for a crowd she could get lost in.

The streetlamps and their enchanted flames shined the way for her like a golden path, giving her hope for the first time in who knows how many years. It was like they were leading her, guiding her towards what she desired most. To be reunited with her friends. With Harry. The Boy Who Still Lived. And Ron. Her sweet, sweet Ron, who probably blamed himself for her disappearance. Hopefully, they had found one another and were still fighting. For her. For everyone. For their future. And for their freedom.