Author's Note: This was my first slavery fic, and yes, I was aiming for a darker tone.
Hermione Granger could still remember hating him.
That thought always crossed her mind whenever she stopped to really consider her master.
She had been a spoil of the war, a gift from Lord Voldemort to his faithful lieutenant upon the celebration of their victory. She hated him, everything about him, with a passion she can now scarcely comprehend. Lucius Malfoy had once been the embodiment of everything she found wrong with the Wizarding World – with his prejudiced views and condescending concern over blood purity, he seemed outdated to the know-it-all teenager who dared to walk in the forefront of the battle against the Dark Lord.
Oh, how times had changed.
All these years later, she realized exactly how fortunate she had been. Lucius took her into his home as his personal assistant, or a "pet" as the elite called them. "Pets" were the body slaves, the ones who waited on their master's every need, including bathing them, helping them dress, even a sexual outlet if so desired.
Hermione had focused on survival, doing whatever she had to in order to live, but that didn't stop her feelings of hatred. She might have surrendered her body and will from the start, but her heart and mind walled themselves off behind a shield of hot, bitter hatred. During the subsequent years, however, that fire had cooled. She watched as other slaves suffered beatings, starvation, public humiliation, and every sort of degradation. In comparison? Her life was a dream world.
Nothing made it more obvious than a simple trip to the market.
Hermione followed Lucius as he moved through the stalls. They had come to find a laborer for the fields since his last one was being promoted to work as a "clerk," or office slave, but the selection was assuredly not up to her master's rather high standards. He never bothered to stop or give the selections more than a cursory look. They walked past a stall of servants, or house slaves, when a familiar voice came from the next stall over.
Lucius stopped, his eyes narrowing, before a small smile crossed his face. "Draco," he called.
"Good afternoon, Father," Draco smiled as they joined him. "How are you finding the market today?"
"A bit low on quality merchandise," Lucius noted with distaste. "Previous years contained much better crops."
"I must agree," Draco nodded. "The pickings have been quite slim. I haven't yet been tempted to take a second look at anything."
"It is to be expected I suppose," Lucius deplored. "The first few years benefited from the war's surplus. That has assuredly tapered off, and it will be awhile before new stock is available."
"Will the market be open to importation, do you think?" Draco asked. "That might keep the market active during these lean years as well as bolstering trade with our allies."
"It is a consideration," Lucius mused. He stopped and eyed the offerings of a brightly colored stall before curling his lip. "All I have seen is subpar offerings. Many of these should be given away or simply removed from circulation"
Draco glanced at her. "Your pet seems to be working out well enough for you."
"True," Lucius agreed. He turned a cool gaze on her as he played the leash through his fingers. "She was an unexpectedly good bargain. I had planned on snapping up Weasley as a laborer, but any idiot can pick crops."
"It would have been a good placement then," Draco mocked.
"Most likely," Lucius shrugged nonchalantly. "I admit to being a trifle disappointed when Bella managed to snap him up. She wanted a pureblood to play with, one strong enough to handle her. She's been taking him to play her little games." The corner of his mouth turned up. "I cannot decide if she is trying to break him or convert him."
Draco chuckled. "Wouldn't that be a sight? Weasley, best friend of Potter, taking the Mark?" He shook his head. "I would like to see that. Still," he commented, "you don't seem too put off."
"No," Lucius replied. "He would have been good in the field, but his cleverness and imagination are quite limited. Hermione, despite her Muggle heritage, has a great deal more to offer in terms of sheer intelligence and vision." His smile turned darkly sensual. "Her other attributes are more useful as well."
A flicker of cruel satisfaction lit Draco's eyes, but another wizard walked up before he could speak. Marcus Flint stepped up, a red leash wrapped in one heavy fist. He bowed to Lucius before turning to Draco. "It's done," he said, handing off the leather braid. "You should be able to run the exam to see if she caught in a week or so. She should have. The spell and potion are both highly potent." He shrugged. "If not, just bring her back and we'll put them to her again." He bowed once more and departed.
Hermione's eyes followed the line of the leash to see Ginny Weasley standing, silent and shaky, at the end of it. Her eyes glittered with hatred as she stared at Draco, but her face and body remained unnaturally still, drained of any vivacity.
"Bitter little creature," Lucius remarked.
Draco rolled his shoulders. "Her parents were too lax," he sighed. "It's proven difficult to train her and Astoria is simply too soft-hearted." He turned a considering look on her. "Still, she is a good breeder. Her offspring tend to be healthy, strong in both body and magic. Both births so far have been twins. The youngest are too little to be out of the ward, but the oldest set are in training. They should bring good money at auction."
"Excellent," Lucius approved. "Very good! And Flint?"
"We made a lovely little bargain," Draco answered smugly. "He's been looking for a broodmare to increase his stock. I negotiated her services for that villa in Tuscany Astoria loves."
"A nice bargain," Lucius agreed. "It seems a bit quick for a day's work."
"I dropped her off two days ago," Draco explained. "He chose his best males and put them to her. We shall see in a week. If she takes, he receives the young and signs over the villa."
"I look forward to hearing about your efforts in improving the stock," Lucius congratulated him.
The men finished their conversation and separated with promises to plan a family dinner sometime soon. Lucius continued browsing the marketplace, more from curiosity it appeared than any real expectation. He examined a few of the offerings, but never with enough interest to require a full inspection.
Hermione spotted an unexpected bargain. "Master," she whispered. He lifted an eyebrow at her and she nodded to small display half hidden in a nearby corner. "You should look at that one."
"Why?" he demanded, eyeing the dingy booth in distaste.
"The male being offered was the best student in Herbology when…" her voice trailed off as she caught herself. "When Master's son was a student there." Lucius disapproved of anything that might equate her with the purebloods.
A look of surprise filtered into his gaze. "Well, well, well," his lips lifted in a pitiless smile. "Interesting." He moved towards the booth.
A brutish looking man stepped out of the shadows. "Lord Malfoy," he gave a bow. "Somethin' I can do for you?"
"This male," Lucius gesture. "He is for sale?"
"Anything here with a collar has a price," the fellow replied. He ran an eye over Hermione. "Or I can do a trade." Lucius slid him a baleful look that had him backing down. "Yes, my lord, he is for sale."
"Let me see him."
The man pulled the male into the sunlight. Like everyone else, Neville Longbottom had been transformed by Voldemort's victory. His body appeared much tougher, accustomed to the heavy labors of the field, while a jaundiced experience replaced the naïve innocence that once presented in his eyes. The marks of work and harsh treatment lined his hands and back as he stood stoically through the primary examination.
Lucius rubbed his chin in consideration. "He is healthy? No physical issues?"
"Healthy as a horse, my lord."
Neville gave Hermione a look of acceptance as Lucius conducted a full examination, checking him over verifying he was whole and healthy. She returned a slow blink. They shared an understanding - both of them had chosen to survive, and pride had been one of their first sacrifices.
"Why are you selling him?" Lucius demanded.
"Debts, my lord," the fellow answered, looking away in shame. "He's the only one that'd have a chance at bringin' in what I need."
A calculating look entered Lucius eyes. "Let us discuss a price then."
Hermione and Neville waited patiently as the haggling went on. Eventually they settled on a price and Lucius paid the man as Neville pulled on a pair of trousers. Lucius accepted his leash. "Such a sad ending for the Longbottoms." Lucius shook his head. "Hermione?"
"Master?" Hermione stepped forward and took the leash.
"Come along now," Lucius ordered. "We can finally be going."
They began moving towards the center of the marketplace to catch a transport to Diagon Alley. People parted before Lucius, giving Voldemort's chief lieutenant a wide berth. Despite their fear, several of them tried calling out to him, trying to tempt him to view their stock. A sneer sent them scurrying back.
"Scaring the commoners, Lucius?"
Lucius turned to face the speaker. "Bellatrix, this is a surprise."
"I hate the market," she scowled, her glare causing people to duck and flee.
"Yes," Lucius drawled out. "I know. Why are you here?"
She rolled her eyes. "I need a new scullery maid."
"Did the Dark Lord not give you one last week?" he raised his brows.
"Stupid female," she grumbled. "Moan, cry, and whimper; it's all she could do." She huffed out a breath. "Female couldn't even scream properly. Could she, Weasley?" Bellatrix glanced over her shoulder.
"Not at all, Mistress."
Hermione bit her tongue at the sight of Ron Weasley as he came up to the group. The boy who had been one of her best friends, and might have been something more if everything had been different, seemed to have disappeared. In his place there stood a wild eyed figure wearing his face like a mask. A bestial light glowed in his eyes and sneer rested on his lips. Something red stained his fingers and his nails appeared almost black.
"Don't you ever clean your creatures up, Bellatrix?" Lucius eyed Ron with repugnance.
"We haven't had time," she replied airily. "We just got here." Lucius eyed her and she shrugged. "We ran into some lost Muggle female on the way here. It was too convenient."
Ron's eyes slid over Neville without much recognition. Something flared in them when he saw Hermione, but before it could spark any memory, something else seemed to push it aside, something dark. She stepped away, slipping behind Lucius.
He glanced at her before flicking a gaze to Ron. "Your creature is disgusting, Bellatrix."
"It makes him much more fun," she smiled before sailing away with Ron trailing after her. He cast a look back at Hermione before the crowd swallowed them both.
Hermione's body shuddered.
"Did he scare you, pet?" Lucius asked her curiously. "Your old friend?" A wave of horror ran through her and it must have reflected on her face. "I wouldn't worry too much," he told her. "You're unlikely to see him often."
"Thank you, Master," she replied fervently.
He patted her shoulder absently. "Good girl," he said inattentively. His attention turned towards the center of the marketplace. A wave of silence spread from there followed by soft murmuring and surprised exclamations. Lucius strode forward with Hermione and Neville just behind him.
He came to an abrupt stop and sank into a low bow. "My lord."
Hermione did not even bother looking. She dropped to her knees immediately, yanking Neville's leash as she did so to force him to do the same. She bowed her head, eyes focused on the ground before her knees.
A soft, hissing laugh greeted her ears. "Your pet is quite well behaved, Lucius."
"Thank you, my lord," Lucius replied with a trace of pride.
"Too bad some of your fellow Death Eaters cannot manage the same," Voldemort's voice sounded testy.
"I was quite fortunate in your gift to me, my lord," Lucius answered.
Lucius gave a humorous sniff. "She actually has some common sense," he explained. "She prefers to be pain-free instead of requiring beatings; she likes some freedom of movement to being chained up – she chose survival." He chuckled. "Hermione surrendered voluntarily."
A finger touched her chin and forced her to look up. Her eyes came up to meet Voldemort's cold visage. She trembled and he smiled. "Do I frighten you?" No sound came out of her mouth as her throat closed up. "Yes," he said approvingly. "Yes, I can see I do. Too bad about your blood – I might have been able to help a half-blood, but a mudblood? No," he ran his finger over her cheek, "no, I cannot make such exceptions. Then I would have people petitioning for their 'good' mudblood." He turned away. "Should you ever decide to sell your little pet, Lucius, do let me know. I might be interested."
"Of course, my lord," Lucius bowed once more.
Hermione's head bowed back down as Voldemort spoke with Lucius, but he had moved enough for her to see the nude figure crouched at his feet. The male seemed meticulously clean for such a groveling figure; the 'dogs', as they were called by the masters, tended to be filthy. The only time they usually got a bath was when it rained. Could this be a new purchase?
The dog turned its shaved head and met her stare. Her eyes widened. A lightning bolt scar stood in stark relief against the pale skin. Harry Potter's vague green eyes blinked as if he were trying to place her, as if something stirred in his mind. He ran out of time before he could connect the dots.
"I shall see you at the gathering in a week's time then," Voldemort ordered as he tugged on Harry's leash.
"Yes, my lord," Lucius agreed instantly.
Voldemort strode away, Harry following in a half-crouching, half-standing walk. Lucius waited until he was out of sight before gesturing for Hermione and Neville to rise. "A most profitable day," he smiled. "I have a new laborer with a gift for plants and I've been promised a new servant from the Dark Lord's private staff."
"May I ask, Master?" Hermione spoke softly.
"I believe you knew her, pet," he replied. "A Nymphadora Tonks, half-blood." Hermione's mouth dropped open slightly. "Yes," he smiled. "Bellatrix's little niece. I understand she is married to the werewolf, Lupin?"
"Yes, Master," Hermione nodded.
"How very delicious," he practically purred. "With her in the house as hostage, I can be assured of Lupin's continued service. My control of his wolfsbane potion will keep her constrained as well. A good day indeed." He began walking towards the transports once more. "Come along, my pet."
The journey home from the transport station was quiet. Lucius had little interest in interacting with his chattel in public; he believed it besmirched his reputation. He calmly read the Daily Prophet as they waited for their stop. Hermione perched on the armrest beside him, barricading him from strangers, as Neville sat at their feet. A separate car was always available for the transport of property, but Lucius enjoyed showing off his wealth. Most people, even amongst Voldemort's elite, could not afford many slaves, and having two on a journey equaled a silent brag about the numbers still at home.
"I have some paperwork to finish," Lucius announced as they entered the manor. "Hermione, take the new laborer to the field quarters. I'm sure even he can deduce the location of everything." He turned to face Neville. "I want you in the fields at first light. One of the servants can show you the way. You will find the rules posted in your room. Consequences for breaking them or failing to abide by them will be swift." He turned away, dismissing Neville from his mind as he looked back to Hermione. "As soon as you have shown him to the quarters, prepare my bath. I wish to wash the stink of the market away from me."
"Yes, Master," Hermione agreed. "Do you wish this to be a full bath?"
His lips curved into a wickedly licentious smile. "Yes," he affirmed softly as he reached up the play with a lock of her hair. "I could do with the relaxation of a full bath." He let the lock slide through his fingers as his hand drifted down to trace the low neckline of her top. "Wear the white today," he commanded. "I do enjoy how the water affects it."
"Of course, Master," she nodded.
Lucius turned away with a smile and she led Neville to the field quarters. He tried to speak at one point, but she held a finger to her lips and tapped her ears. He nodded in understanding. Lucius would hear of anything said or done under his roof, Hermione knew. Between the scrying spells and the house elves, every whisper would be heard.
She left Neville reading over his rules and hurried to the Master's chambers to prepare his bath. The day played through her head as she waited for the small pool-size tub to fill. Days like this drove home how lucky she truly was in her life. Walking through the market, seeing what had become of so many others? It reinforced the relative ease of her own situation. Lucius could be a demanding master, exacting and precise in his desires, but surely he felt some affection for her? He never farmed her out as a broodmare like Draco was doing with Ginny. She did not have to worry a capricious temper tantrum ending with her dead…or worse, as she would have to fear if she were in Bellatrix's possession. He even let her keep her own sense of identity, unlike Harry's devolution as Voldemort's dog. He kept her as his pet year after year, and she had watched as pets came and went with alarming regularity among the others.
That meant he had to feel something, right?
The door opened just as she had finished adding the bath salts. Lucius stood beside the tub, watching as she disrobed him in her quick and efficient manner. He stepped into the steaming pool and leaned back against the side, eyes closing with a sigh of relief. "Ah, yes, my pet, lovely as usual." His eyes opened a sliver so he could watch her. "Bathe me," he commanded.
Her fine white chemise turned transparent as she entered the water and she shivered as his gaze became heated. Her hands moved over him with soap and washcloth, cleansing away the day. As she worked, his hands drifted and played across her body, at one moment soft and teasing, strong and demanding the next. His smile swelled in both ferocity and ardor as her body responded.
Yes, Hermione decided as his hands drew her close to him, he had to feel something for her, something virtuous. Even as his mouth closed over hers and she relinquished into his rising passions, she thanked all the powers that be she had ended up as Lucius Malfoy's pet.