A/N: Sorry for the delay, folks. Real life is relentless and hopeless. Thanks to the few who reviewed last chapter, it means a lot. I think most reviews were because I bribed you all with a plush virtual mini Snape, though. In this chapter I offer you...this chapter. I'd really like to have some feedback, show me some love, ya know? Anyway, enough pleading and despairing, on to the story! Any lines recognizable to you, dear Reader, are from J.K. Rowling and not myself.


"Imagine losing fingernails, Harry! That really puts our sufferings into perspective, doesn't it?" -Deathly Hallows


Hermione awoke that morning with a cry on her lips. She'd been in that hall again, enduring Cruciatus after Cruciatus, with barely a break in between to have questions yelled at her.

"What else did you take, what else? ANSWER ME! CRUCIO!"

"We found it – we found it – PLEASE!"

Hermione knew begging would have no effect on a psychopath like Bellatrix Lestrange but pain had made her desperate and impulsive.

"TELL ME! CRUCIO!"

Hermione screamed, a long piercing sound, and faintly she heard a panic-stricken voice call out in answer-

"Hermione!"

Ron.

In her pain she could not even muster up a smile. Hell, she didn't even remember how to smile anymore. How long had she been laying here, succumbing to these awful knives of fire in her body and mind? It seemed like forever. Hermione felt the curse lift and took the time to steel her nerves. Before she could ready herself for the next bout of curses, a hand roughly gripped her chin and shook it.

"Mudblood, you test my patience," said Bellatrix with a sneer. "You will beg for your death by the time I am done with you!" She dropped Hermione's chin and it fell to her chest like a rag dolls'. Finally, a rest...

"NO SLEEPING ON THE JOB, GIRL!" she cackled and slapped Hermione so hard her nose started to bleed. Wonderful.

"Perhaps I need to loosen your tongue a bit..."

More begging. And then more screaming.

She'd jerked awake violently, her cries quickly muffled by a pillow as she lay there surrounded by sticky sheets. Hermione desperately wanted a shower but was as of yet unable to drag herself out of bed. She simply had to get ready and her hair was a mess of tangles from her restless sleep-

Her hair had been just like that.

With a shiver, Hermione recalled the terrifying hours she had spent inside the madwoman's skin; Bellatrix had a stronger left hand than her right, her wand hand, she had assumed. Her left ring finger had given a twitch every so often. Probably from all those torture sessions with various unfortunate victims. This was how it felt to be a murderer, she'd thought as she'd gripped the strange wand. I'm not her, she'd cried inwardly, this is NOT ME!

Her hair had indeed been tangled, in fact, this was a severe understatement. Lestrange's hair had been a rat's nest-something that Hermione hadn't dared to try and do anything because she'd been trying so hard to forget she was even in another body. Of course this was nearly impossible to do when she'd had to focus on acting the part of the person she hated and feared most of all.

Even now she could remember how her (hers) hooded eyes had blinked slowly, lazily as she spoke to the goblins in Gringotts; there was an almost seductive way about the woman in everything she did. Perhaps she had used her body as well as her magic to be the demise of those she had in her sights-no, nodontthinkaboutthat- Hermione had felt sick then and even now. A creature of darkness, she had been-and Lestrange's very being still haunted her.

She shook herself and pressed both hands to her eyes. The memorial. Merlin, she was dreading it. Ah, weren't there some lemon drops left on her bag-

She grabbed for it.

A/N: Next is Ron and the memorial! And I I changed my mind-I will give everyone that reviews a virtual plush mini Dobby that cries "Master!" sadly when you stab-just kidding-hug him.