Man. So I have been dying to get to this part of the story for like, almost over a year. Jesus.

Part Four: In the Company of Wolves

Chapter One: The Blue

Hermione comes to in the cargo hold of a quinjet.

Her arms are pulled back uncomfortably behind her, and they burn at the unnatural position. There is a fierce throbbing in her right shoulder, where they had thrown her unceremoniously to the floor, and her knees are a stinging ache that speak of torn jeans and skin. Her head feels as though something is trying to drill through her temple, and her mouth tastes like something died in it. The bindings cut painfully into the skin of her wrists; she is sure she's bleeding.

A kick to the gut puts a halt to any plans she may have had for magicking the bindings- zipties, judging by the feel of them- away. She cries out in shock and pain, and counts her blessings that it wasn't harder.

"I don't think that's a wise idea, Miss Granger." A mild mannered voice says behind her. She rolls painfully towards the voice, staring at the placid looking man that sits casually before her. Five other men sit in the hold, some strapped into their seats- others not. She recognises roughly half of them from the ambush. A seventh man- the kicker- looms behind her, silent and ominous. Her eyes linger on the spread wings of an eagle, just visible on the lanyard that lies around the speaker's neck. The other men wear the tac gear typical of SHIELD agents, the eagle insignia clearly visible on their shoulders. She breathes in sharply- regretting it a moment later as pain laces through her chest.

"I don't understand," she says. SHIELD is meant to be an ally.

The man smiles at her; it fails to reach his eyes. If anything he is more sinister than the man that lingers behind her with the threat of violence, "I am Agent Rainier, of SHIELD. You are being requisitioned. Your talents are highly valuable to SHIELD; it has been decided they are put to better use away from the Avengers."

She attempts to move into a sitting position and the goon behind her presses his steel-capped boot firmly against side of her neck. She heeds the silent message and keeps herself very still.

"I don't believe you."

Agent Rainier laughs and leans forwards, resting his elbows on his knees, "Believe what you want, Granger. It doesn't change the fact that you are the Baron's now."

"The… Baron?"

Goon's boot connects with the flesh at the back of her thigh. She bites back the scream, but can't stop the moan of pain that follows it. She'll be lucky if she can even walk in an hour.

"Agent Fisher." Rainier admonishes, sounding nothing of the sort, "You should know better than to harm the Baron's property. Remember the Spencer boy?"

Fisher withdraws without a word and Hermione keens silently into the criss-crossed texture of the steel floor. She turns her head to glare at the bemused face of Rainier, "You're not SHIELD."

He laughs and picks up his lanyard, wiggling it tauntingly, "But of course we are, Miss Granger. After all, only SHIELD knows of your abilities, am I right?"

He leers at her then, and Hermione comes to the sudden realisation that she is not fully clothed; the brief but brutal fight with the men hiding in the van (and honestly, how stereotypical was that. She should have seen it coming) had torn her button-down shirt wide open. At least her jeans are still mostly intact- though she can feel the roughness of the floor biting through their torn knees.

She juts out her chin and bares her teeth in stubborn defiance- not an easy task, considering, "I don't know what you're hoping to achieve, but they'll find me; Harry will find me."

Hermione wishes she could slap the smug, self-satisfied smile off Rainier's face. "No, I don't think so. Normally of course, I'm sure Tony Stark and your wizard friends could find you quicker than we'd be able to steal you away, but your pals in Stark's monument to himself have been remarkably busy. We've been quite pleased by how effective a distraction the release of Hammer has proven to be." His smile grows wider, eyes lingering on her chest in a way that makes her skin crawl, "By the time they realise you're gone, you'll be unreachable."

"I will give you nothing, you disgusting piece of sh-" She cries out an rolls onto her back as another vicious kick lands soundly on her thigh- right where the last one had been.

"We don't need your cooperation, you witch whore." Rainier carries calmly on as though he hadn't been interrupted, "You'll give us your compliance whether you like it or not. The Baron has ways of… persuading errant recruits." He motions to one of the men beside him and they pick up a small aluminium briefcase. She swallows nervously at the epi-pen like instrument that they pull out.

"What is that?" She breathes.

The unblinking smile does not waver, "None of your concern."

The man with the syringe stands and moves towards her; his face is as dead and expressionless as the other men in the jet and she makes a half-hearted struggle to get away from him. It's no use, and she knows it. Even if she managed to disarm him, she is outnumbered, without a wand and well and truly feeling the effects of her previous struggle. Fisher's boot returns, a heavy, crushing pressure on her exposed chest. She watches the epi-pen filled with god-knows what come down like a knife on a chopping block, stabbing into the soft skin of her stomach. She bites back a whimper.

For a moment, there is nothing, then the sensation is washed away by a floaty feeling crawling down her limbs and washing over her thoughts like the gentle crest of a wave. She shudders once- lets out an involuntary sound of fear- before falling silent, the drug taking root deep in her bones and paralysing her as well as any petrificus totalus. The screaming in her mind dies down as it creeps through her thoughts, making things foggy and indistinct.

The man rolls her onto her side so she's facing Rainier. It takes considerable effort to focus on him; he's tapping at something on a tablet, ignoring her momentarily. The man strapped into the seat on the other side of him tries to ignore her, but his eyes draw back to her time and time again. She can't tell if it's curiosity or greed in his gaze.

"I have to admit," Rainier says, his voice reaching her as if through water- or something thicker- treacle, perhaps, "Coming across you was a stroke of luck. We'd hoped to grab your companion- Potter. But we weren't sure how successful such a venture would be." Harry. She thinks through her paralytic haze, Harry stay away from them... "His regenerative abilities are of interest to us, you have to understand. But then there you were- walking straight past our humble van," he leans forward, the smile smearing across his face, "and I could never resist a pretty face."

If she could shudder, she surely would.

He gives her an assessing look, "I'm pleased the drug is a success. We weren't entirely sure how well sedation would work." He nudges her with a shiny black shoe and smirks. He writes something on his tablet, "Looks like you're having a similar reaction to the Soldier."

Who is the Soldier? She wants to ask. Who is the Baron? Who is who is who is?

She lies in a state of paralysis and shock on the floor of the quinjet for what feels like hours. After his initial interest, Rainier seems largely unconcerned by her presence in the hold, and none of the other SHIELD agents go near her once Fisher backs off. Most spare her only the occasional glance between conversations she can't find the mental capacity to keep up with. Whatever they drugged her with makes everything blurry and indistinct, and time seems only to work in stops and starts- some moments dragging on as if the people around her were in honey; other times, zipping past almost too quick for her to catch.

She's not sure what's worse. The stops and starts, or the way the drug won't let her fall asleep.

(At some point, Rainier pulls her wand out from somewhere and inspects it with far less care than she's comfortably with. She tries to gather the concentration to summon it with, but fails. She can count the number of times someone has handled a wand of hers without permission on her right hand, and it feels like a violation every time)

Finally, finally, she feels the dulled tremors of the plane landing. One particularly strong shudder has her rolling onto her back, her arms trapped uncomfortably beneath her body.

The air that comes in through the hanger doors when the open is cold and burns her sinuses. Goosebumps form up her arm at the change in temperature. The men stand, but none move to leave; they line the walls, gaze focussed outwards. Hermione tries to turn her head to see what they're looking at, but the drug is still pumping through her and all she manages is a frustrated huff of air. Rainier glances down at her once, but only for a second before his regard returns to something out of sight.

"Baron Strucker," comes Rainier's address, strained and warbled in her ears.

The sound of boots on metal- their vibrations hammer into her skull mercilessly.

"Hail Hydra." Another man says, German accent soft and unassuming.

"HAIL HYDRA!" the men reply, their shouts loud and almost mindless.

Hermione's blood runs cold.

She knows about Hydra- has done enough research on the topic, has heard enough about the WWII organisation to know that nothing good was attached to that name. And she knows that Hydra is not meant to exist anymore.

If Hermione could cry, it is very possible that she would.

A man draws into her line of sight, kneeling beside her effortlessly. Older than most on the quinjet, he wears a strange monocle over his right eye, and stares down at her helpless form almost curiously. He seems pale and washed out in his black suit, as though she were looking at him through ice.

"Agent Rainier, I was under the impression you were sent to retrieve the boy."

Rainier- just barely in her vision- shuffles nervously, "We were, Baron Strucker. However, she chose a pertinent time to walk past our station; she gave little struggle and we deemed her valuable enough to take instead. Her file states she is a valuable researcher, perhaps she-"

"I know what her file says." Strucker says dispassionately, "I suppose we will have to make do; there's little chance of getting the boy now. But initiative or not, Hydra does not take kindly to orders that are not followed, Agent Rainier." Rainier pales and draws out of her vision.

"Understood, sir."

He smiles down at her then, but it doesn't reach his pale eyes. "Welcome, Ms Granger," he says in his precise accent.

She stares up at him. It's not as though she can do much to reply.

Strucker chuckles. He kneels down beside her, "You're a very valuable specimen, Ms Granger. Perhaps not as much as your companion, but your talents will fit right in here, I am sure."

Screw you, she thinks at him as loudly as possible. As if sensing the profanities she tries vainly to send his way, he smiles at her again.

"How much longer will the sedative last?" he asks without removing his eyes from her. His gaze makes her skin crawl.

"At least another hour, sir."

An hour.

Strucker's mouth twitches, "Excellent. Plenty of time to test her loyalties."

He lifts something up into her vision- a staff of some kind, with a glowing blue gem inset below a long and sharp-looking blade. In her sluggish stupor, it takes longer than it should for her to recognise it.

That's Loki's sceptre.

She panics. Screaming fills her mind as the blade draw closer. She knows what it does.

Nonono please no not that don't make me lose myself please-

Above her, a light explodes.

Strucker freezes, wide eyed as the sparks dissipate. Whatever amusement had been on his face is replaced with a cold calculation.

"I thought you reported no magical response to the drug, Agent Rainier."

"I- I did sir. She had no such episodes on the flight here, sir!"

The older man grips her chin, turning her face this way and that, studying her, "An extreme emotional response then," he says finally, and lets go of her head- it thunks painfully on the metal floor, "that, or the drug is wearing off quicker than expected."

Rainier shifts just in the corner of her sight again. Desperately, Hermione tries to concentrate; tries to search for that well of power deep inside of her, but it's like wading through mud, and she catches only a flicker of it before she's drawn away. Whatever they injected her with is blocking any ability she could have used to help herself.

Strucker smiles down at her. "It is of no matter," he murmurs, "she'll be ours soon enough."

And then he lowers the staff down down down to her chest, and everything is lost to the blue.