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The October Hollow by Darkwing73181

Format: Novel
Chapters: 22
Word Count: 101,561
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Horror/Dark, Mystery, Angst
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Snape, Lucius, Voldemort, Draco, Ginny, OC
Pairings: Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, Draco/Hermione

First Published: 11/05/2005
Last Chapter: 01/15/2011
Last Updated: 01/15/2011

Summary:




Unexpectedly, Hermione is kidnapped and thrown before the Dark Lord. With two weeks until she is forced to make the choice between her own life and everyone else's, she is exposed to the terror of the unknown. With deceit in every word and a shred of truth in every lie, Hermione has to question what she really feels, and the true intentions of Malfoy before it's too late… and before she gives into the darkness that has started to overwhelm her. STORY NOW COMPLETE! 1/15/2011


Chapter 1: Cold October Frostbite
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Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Harry Potter characters. Get that through your head, and then put it back in and keep it there!

Attention: This story is Pre-HBP. Most of the things in here contradict Half-Blood Prince a lot, just like most other stories out there at the moment. Also, characters in here are a tiny bit OoC, because we know this story would never actually happen. However, I've tried my hardest to create situations and give in-character dialogue that helps to keep most characters in character. And this story is rated R for violence, sexual content, (NOT SEX, just heavy snogging in detail ;), and for swearing. I just write everything very descriptively, and people have told me that if I uped the rating, it wouldn’t be a bad thing. But I'm not because I don’t have too :)

So please read this story and enjoy! If you find anything questionable, please email me and I will answer it as best I can!

Chapter summary: Hermione Granger is sick and tired of turning the other cheek when Ron sneaks off to fool around with Lavender. When she confronts him about it, things turn out horribly wrong, and left in her most vulnerable state, Draco Malfoy comes along and latches down on his prey. Hermione isn't going to get away… not now, not ever.

-x-x-x-

The October Hollow
By Darkwing731


((-Chapter One-))
Cold October Frostbite

October 17

Where in the world could he be?

Really, it was the dance that the seventh-years had been looking forward to all year, the girls obsessing over their dress robes for months and the boys nervously counting down the days to date-asking time, and her date was missing! Hermione would not stand for this, and the minute walked into the room he was going to be lectured all the way to Hell and back, and it wouldn't bother Hermione one bit.

Many people were already dancing, swaying to the music with arms wrapped around waists, fingers clasped on shoulders and in hands, gazes warm and smiles flirtatious. Not Hermione; she was downright livid. She had made these plans with Ron a long time ago when the dance had been announced, and Ron promised that he'd be there, be her date and dance and have fun.

Hermione pushed through the crowd, eyes narrowed and seeking out Harry Potter.

"Harry, have you seen Ron?" she growled, quite unable to hold in her anger. Harry looked taken aback.

"He told me he went outside to get some fresh air with you," he said, slightly confused. He unconsciously took a tiny step backward when Hermione tensed in anger.

"I've been waiting here, in this stupid frivolous dress for the past half hour, for him to come in and find me! When did he tell you this?" she demanded through clenched teeth.

"Erm, I dunno, err…" She glared at him while he sputtered, "…a h-half hour ago."

Hermione's hands were trembling in rage. "He's avoiding me, I know it. I'm going to find him, Harry, I'm sick of this!"

Hermione stormed through the crowd, which was filled with couples and friends chatting, watching the dancing and attempting to find a partner for the next song. Just as she reached the side doors that led out into the inky night, they opened.

Ron entered his shirt buttoned clumsily, and his hair mussed. He paled when he caught sight of Hermione, heading toward him with a positively furious expression on her face, but he looked worse than dead when Lavender Brown came through the doorway behind him and walked into the corridor. Her dress was wrinkled a bit, and her hair trailed down in strands, sticking to her sweaty forehead.

Hermione noticed the look Lavender tossed at Ron before she walked off, and the peculiar scent she had. There was the same odor coming from Ron, and she couldn't help but wonder if one really could smell dishonesty in the air…

"Where were you?" Hermione demanded, arms crossed, glaring at both her boyfriend and Lavender's retreating back.

"I, erm, was…outside…I-I just stepped back in, you saw me!" he stammered.

"What exactly were you doing?" Hermione wasn't stupid. She could sense Ron's unfaithfulness a meter away, and she was sick of turning the other cheek and pretending it was fine. She couldn't let him get away with it this time, not when it was so blatantly obvious.

"Getting fresh air," he said at once, avoiding her eyes.

"With Lavender?" Hermione said sharply, eyes narrowing.

"She, uh… she just, uh, happened to be out there," he mumbled. He glanced at her, flinching at her icy look. "We weren't doing anything!" he burst out.

"Not doing anything, were you?" Hermione snarled, looking pointedly down the corridor the other girl had disappeared down. She grabbed his arm and dragged him outside, where the frigid night immediately raised goose bumps on her arms.

She wanted to stay relatively close to Hogwarts because it was dark out, and the wind had her shivering even in her blinding anger. She wished she had her cloak, but currently it was hanging on a seat in the Great Hall, and she didn't dare leave Ron alone for even a second; the castle could hide him away easily.

She stalked past couples smothered against each other, bodies attached at the mouth and while she felt the instant need to tell them all to go to Hell, or just assign them all detention, she was silent. After all, Ron needed to be dealt with, and this issue with him would be ignored no longer.

Ron was tense, and he tried to jerk his arm from Hermione's steel grip as he stumbled after her, his voice a light whine of worry that was barely audible over the deep echo of pounding music.

By the lake, frost was already consuming the edges of the water and most of the grassy foothills that led into the mountains. By the time the neon lights that had been burning into her eyes had faded into the night, giving her a world of black and grey, green merely a color lurking in the back of her pupils as the nighttime world was etched into her mind like the bright moon. This was deepest night, and the darkness that enclosed Ron and Hermione would hold their secrets and their sorrows. Her anger might be heard, but the devastation because would go unseen; not even moonlight could betray her this night, and the absence of the large orange harvest moon in the distance, the old face staring back down at her, made the night darker than she could bear. Her fingers were webbed, it seemed, and her body was part of the harmonic background of colder colors, slowly seeping to blackness.

"Tell me what's going on," she demanded, her voice wavering, as she stopped by the lakeshore and turned to face him, causing him to nearly stumble to a halt.

A pause, then, "I don't know what you're talking about." Ron's words sounded badly rehearsed.

Hermione's head whipped toward him, eyes narrowing to slits.

"What in Merlin's name do you think I am, Ronald Weasley? I'm not stupid! I can see what's happening!" she screeched at him.

This was anger beyond anger. They had only been dating around since the middle of summer, but this betrayal… when had it started? When had she started to notice this, when Ginny's frown had suggested that she say something, but Hermione would ignore her, breezily moving on to a new subject? When had her trust in him fallen into pieces, leaving her with the coat that protected their relationship that was burning up before her eyes? Where was the love that was once so real?

She knew that this night was going to end it all, all that she had wanted and spent nights planning for and cried about when things went wrong. She knew that the anger—hurting so harshly that it brought tears to her eyes, blood to her cheeks, her jagged breathing sounding so loud that Ron was visibly cowering—would end it completely.

"There's nothing going on," he mumbled, drawing a few steps back, pulling his wrist from her grip at last. The whole way to the lake, she hadn't let go in fear that he would run away.

"Stop denying it, Ron! I'm not blind!" she yelled. This was too much; he was incredibly immature to keep hiding the truth from her. She knew that she could accuse him all she wanted, even if she walked in on him and Lavender, and he would still insist that her accusation was wrong.

"I'm—I'm not denying anything, Hermione," he said, still trying to take inconspicuous steps backwards.

She watched him through narrowed eyes. "You're fooling around with Lavender, Ron! I know it, and I've heard her and Parvati talk about it all the way until dawn too many times! I've practically caught you two more than once! Why won't you just admit it?" she hissed furiously at him.

He mumbled something, turning away from her for the first time without attempting to run away. Despite the blackness pressing onto her pupils, she could still faintly detect that his ears were turning red.

"Say it louder." Her voice trembled, but she needed to hear this.

"I-I didn't want to lose you," he whispered, swallowing the fear in his throat and looking back at her cautiously.

His words, although quieter than she had ever heard his voice before, echoed through her head, anchoring her feet to the ground as if cementing them. He didn't want to lose her, so he committed this—thisadultery instead? It made her clench her fists, and squeeze her eyes shut in frustration. Her breathing was hard; she was struggling to keep her rage at bay.

What kind of logic did Ron Weasley really live by? It wasn't like she hadn't known about his impaired judgment before, but instead, she had just started ignoring it, just like she had the whole…thing between Ron and Lavender. When she committed herself to him, didn't she try to wipe away all the negative things she knew about him, attempting to put him in the best possible light?

She knew that she had, and she knew it had been a huge mistake. She regretted that she was blinded by the novelty of their relationship, how wonderful it had been. She could never see enough of him, yet it appeared that he had tired of her, rather quickly.

Maybe that was why he moved on to Lavender: she was willing to offer Ron things that Hermione couldn't, that she wouldn't. The mere mention of premarital sex not only gained her sniff of contempt, she thought it something almost evil. You married your lover, the one who had you swooning and had you flying off your feet. And sex was something that everyone was supposed to share with someonespecial, someone that they loved and were willing to spend a lifetime with. If you thought about it, a lifetime was a very long time indeed. They had to be truly special for Hermione to share that part of herself with them.

Hermione loved Ron, and she always had. But because of the confident feeling that she loved him, she wanted to wait. She wasn't exactly sure if her talk of 'waiting' had angered him, but it had driven him away. Otherwise, she wouldn't have found him—thank God not literally—tangled in the sheets with Lavender Brown.

She hadn't realized that tears were falling; of frustration or something else, she didn't know. When she had opened her mouth to speak, she had licked her lips, and the salty taste had been there. She had been crying without even knowing it, and it made her chest seize up, her muscles contracting into a tight something that made it difficult to breathe, when she realized she was crying for him.

She didn't want to break up with him, not so suddenly. She had been in love with him all along, despite the sugar-coated lie that she knew was staring her in the face. This tension that was building up inside her—what was it? Anticipation? Dread? Could she be hoping that he'd confess and they'd live happily ever after, or would he tell her off and live that fairy tale ending with Lavender instead?

Her thoughts were so twisted, so tangled like webs, with what was going on, trying too hard to process that he was staring at her face shining with tears and moving towards her; so overflowing with depressing, anxious woes, that she couldn't even feel his arms around her.

"Hermione," he murmured into her hair. Her reluctant, strangled voice sounded suspiciously like a sob, but he couldn't be sure. He pulled her closely, ignoring the guilt washing over him. It was his fault that her body was struggling not to shake, his fault that her face, lips trembling and eyes clamped shut, was smothered into his shoulder.

And most importantly, it was his fault for bringing all this upon her.

"I-I don't want—" But she had to stop. She couldn't go on. She wanted to stay with him, and make him promise his eternal loyalty, despite the fact that she could map out his escape routes to Lavender in the night when he was itching and needed a scratch. She knew he would continue on like he had been for what seemed like ages, barely making it back in time, but being overly relieved when she acted like nothing was going on.

She still wanted to live this lie, even though she knew that ultimately, it would hurt her incredibly. Anything just to stay with him; she'd fight him, the pain, Lavender, the world, just to keep it all tied together. She wanted him, needed him, and the desperate feeling to keep the mood positive tonight was going to be hard, she knew, but she was determined to do it.

"I-I still need you," she mumbled at last into his tear-stained shoulder. She hadn't realized how hard she had been crying those useless tears. And for what, so she could win his sympathy? So she could sway him out of sleeping with Lavender practically every other night? What was left to take from him, to change?

"I know," he said quietly. He held her closer and, despite his previous actions of utter fear (she was terrifying when she was livid), he sucked in a shuddering breath. His moments of mental practice would not come out exactly as he had planned, but would have the same overall effect.

"But I can't keep living this lie with you, Hermione."

The statement of his caused her to rear back her head and look up at him; her cheeks were stained and smudged, her lips chapped and parted. She looked confused, disbelieving. Had he really just spoken what she had silently forbade him to in her mind?

"Ron, don't." Her breath was quicker now, and her lips were pressed together in nervousness.

She couldn't understand how Ron could be brave like this with her, and so suddenly. He was nearly cowering at her feet when she had dragged him out here, so why was she at his mercy, instead of the other way around? Wasn't he supposed to be at her feet while her interrogation took its course, and all would be merry and bright afterwards?

Wasn't he?

"This is a lie, Hermione, you're right. We're falling apart," he said, voice shaking slightly.

"B-But we can work, I know it," she said, nearly begging, trying not to let her lip trembling or her eyes sting. Hermione clenched her jaw when they did; she couldn't cry over this, she had already shed too many tears. What use would it be? He had instigated the fight, and no matter what she did, she could only delay its course, not stop it.

"We can't," he argued softly. A strangled cough, which he suspected had originally been a sob, escaped her mouth.

She clutched his collar, squeezing her eyes together. This was too surreal, it just couldn't be happening. She would never let it happen, not tonight, not ever. And even if it was, she'd try desperately to change it somehow.

"I-I can change," she gasped out, trying to catch her breath. "We'll be like we were in the summer. I-I'll contribute more, I promise." He lowered his eyes to hers, and the fatalistic refusal in his eyes was evident.

"But you won't." He knew she wouldn't; Hermione would always remain the chaste, rule-abiding Head Girl she was now, and he suspected that when she married she would be just the same way. "I know you won't," he murmured, resisting the urge to look away.

"Lavender can't offer what I can!" she cried desperately. "I love you, Ron! She's just a one-night stand who likes to romp around between the sheets!"

"She offers what you can't," he countered, surprised at how firm his words were. "She offers what you won't," he whispered.

Tears rimmed her eyes, though neither of them could tell if it was from fury or anguish. "Is that all you really want, Ron?" she asked her, her face twisted up in something close to disgust, disbelief. "Or are you so sick of me that you figure she'll liven up your life a little bit? Let's not forget that getting away with fooling around is so exciting," she said bitterly, sarcasm dripping from her voice.

"Hermione, the end of my leash was at my collar! I needed freedom, and what I could get from you wasn't good enough!"

Both of them were surprised at his outburst. This night was too confusing; she had him shaking as she threw every accusation at him, which he so far hadn't answered with a yes or no, but the path of the conversation verified her suspicions. And somehow, he had mustered the courage to make her cry before her usual demeanor had suddenly resurfaced, only to be suffocated again. These tricks he was playing, they were all too familiar, and she felt like he was the one under control, despite the proverbial rope she had around his neck.

"Ron," she started weakly. She would not degrade herself even further by hanging onto his jacket, so she made herself pry her fingers off and step back, away from him.

"I-I can't keep doing this, Hermione. I hate lying to you and enjoying myself at the same time. I hate not being able to feel like we did when we started dating. But I hate how screwed up this is—I'm not supposed to be the one doing this." He took a few steps away from her too, so that they were spaced many feet apart, so any bodily harm she wanted to do to him would give him a moment's notice to run.

"I would never cheat on you!" she screeched, eyes suddenly tearing up again. How could he accuse her of something as atrocious as that?

"I didn't mean that," he said quietly. Her anger faltered for a moment, and she hiccupped.

"What did you mean, then?" she asked cautiously. He cast his eyes downwards.

"Breaking up with you." She sucked in her breath rather sharply, staring at him in a stunned silence. "You were supposed to get so mad at me, and stop—this. You weren't supposed to promise to change, Hermione." He looked up at her. "You can't promise something that's impossible."

"But it's not!" she cried. "If I wanted to—to have sex with you, I would!"

"Then why won't you?" he yelled, quite frustrated.

"B-Because I told you I wanted to wait, Ron! You never understood!"

"You're right, I didn't, and I still don't! You promise to change, and now you're yelling at me that you need to wait. You need to listen to me Hermione, I'm not stupid. I know you can't change your morals, and I can't change mine! We aren't compatible!"

"Stop saying that!" she screamed at him. "There are other things to do, if not sleeping together!"

"But you're so damned prudish that you'd scoff at every one of them!" he shouted back.

When had her sadness turned to desperation, and his anxiousness to anger? What was this night doing to her? It was a common fact that any kind of social gathering, there would be at least one female hysterical by the end of the night, for any reason whatsoever. But what in Merlin's name possessed this night to choose her?

"Liar," she cried, though her body was quaking. She knew Ron was right, and so did he.

"No, Hermione, you're the liar," he said softly, his voice bitter. "You told me that you loved me… and how you've treated me isn't love."

"You're such a hypocrite!" she screamed. "You cheated on me!"

"You denied me of the most important things when you're in love! That's just as bad!" he shouted.

She started to lunge at him in fury, but her frilled dress got caught around her ankles and she fell to the ground. Pushing her locks off of her sweaty face, she got up clumsily again, her ringlets of frizzy hair plastered to her forehead still.

"What we had was good, Ron. I deprived you of sex, the 'most important factor of love—'"

"It is!"

"—so you taint what we had with some whore!"

"Lavender isn't a whore, Hermione! She's fancied me since last year, and through the way you've treated me, it seems like she'd be much better."

Hermione gaped at him, too furious and too dumbstruck to sort one feeling out from another. She blinked several times, and closing her mouth resolutely she stuck out her chin.

It was bravado, and she knew this. She wasn't sure if Ron could tell or not, but she prayed to God that he couldn't.

"You know what, Ron?" she said, her voice oddly calm. She could feel her muscles tense, and her throat was steadily closing up. She needed to say this before she had to stifle the sobs again.

"Go be with Lavender. Make her bloody ecstatic. Just don't come crawling back to me in the end, got it? If you're going to be like this, I don't need it. It really hurts to do this when I think about it, but if you're going to treat me like shit—" He gaped: Hermione never swore; "—then you can get yourself into some with Lavender."

She couldn't exactly view his reaction to her statement; perhaps it was the rage flowing through her body. Fury was building up slowly in her veins, and her arms were steadily being deprived of feeling as numbness spread over her nerves and filled her flesh with icy fire. Her fingers tingled, and suddenly she felt like she could lunge at him, close her fingers around his throat and burn him to death.

Hermione had never like Lavender all that much. She gossiped, never did her homework and was constantly swooning over a boy whose identity changed every three weeks. She cared too much for her looks; every morning Hermione had to rush to wake up and then hustle in and out of the bathroom because Lavender insisted on special treatment to her face, hair, everything, and it drove Hermione bloody bonkers.

And the fact that she had Ron wrapped around her finger made Hermione all the more furious. Lavender was never supposed to be part of the picture, yet here she was, shoving Hermione out of the frame.

It burned up her arms and swelled in her chest, and Hermione couldn't remember the pain of this entire confrontation hurting so badly. Stabbing pains shot up her arms, pausing for second to give her a false relief before they struck again like lightning. Little bolts of white-hot electricity flowed from her veins and consumed her fingers, making her press her nails into her palms in agony.

She couldn't remember falling to the ground, or starting to cry again, but when the pain finally subsided and all that was left was a throbbing, dull ache, she found herself pressed against the cold, frostbitten earth.

Weakly, she pushed herself up, her arms like glass about to shatter under her own weight. She hastily wiped the tears from her cheeks, keeping her eyes to the ground. Her lips were trembling again, and she knew that if she looked up at Ron her crying would start, and would not cease.

"Hermione—"

"Just go, Ron," she interrupted bitterly. "Just go."

She watched his feet for a moment; he shifted his weight, and slowly, turned and started retreating until the night consumed him, and she could see him no longer.

She cupped her cheeks, struggling to keep her breath steady. She had to keep control, for if she didn't she'd betray herself. She didn't need Ron; all he did was make her feel degraded, like one of those poor house elves, and someone like that didn't deserve to be with her.

She was better off without him, she knew, and she had to put a stop to the furious, heartbroken protest that the rest of her body was shouting. Honestly, if someone she loved so much would do something like that to her, did she really want to be with him still? Did she really want to continue on with life knowing what he was doing?

After all, she knew watching it before her eyes and not being able to do a damn thing about it would hurt her much more than it did now.

She sat up, rather clumsily, and pushed against her knees to stand, but couldn't manage to get up. Even though it was the only thing she couldn't do successfully at the moment, it made her burst straight into tears.

She had gone and messed up the rest of her life, the rest of her friendships and the rest of… what was alive for Ron. She loved him; didn't that mean anything to him? But no; she had failed in keeping it together, keeping it alive, and it struck her down like an axe to the back of her knees.

She tried desperately to stop crying, tried to tell herself that she didn't need to because he wasn't worth it, but her emotions wouldn't stop raging. Ron was gone for good, and she knew that he wasn't going to come back anytime soon.

She just wanted to slit her own wrists and die on the spot; being with Ronald Weasley had been the best times of her life, and even though the fights they had gotten into, despite Lavender rearing her hatefully pretty head into their relationship, she and Ron had some fond memories that would make her chest pang, should she recall them. And she didn't want to, not right now, not ever.

She wanted the mere memory of him out of her head this instant; even thinking about the good times would bring her rushing headfirst into her own crying fits again.

"Ouch."

Putting aside the fact that she was still bawling her eyes out while trying to keep her emotions under control, the surprise, the fury that rose up out of her was almost instant. The echoes of her own sobs stopped, and she turned to stone as that voice, the sarcastic, spiteful drawl she could recognize in an instant spoke again.

"Really, you'd think Brown was a goddess or something. She's really not even that good in bed, to tell you the truth," Malfoy said offhandedly.

Hermione was standing and staggering like a drunk before he could blink, and she regained her balance quickly.

She was, quite frankly, upset that he had been around long enough to hear about Lavender; that meant he had heard practically the entire row between her and Ron. And here she was, unstable and looking like someone had died, she had been crying so much. Had there ever been a larger opportunity for him to jeer at her, to smirk in delight as he planned out his blackmail?

She hurriedly wiped her cheeks and eyes, rubbing her nose and pushing the unruly hair behind her ears; it stuck to her forehead in spite of her actions. Her dress was crumpled, covered in dirt and mud and bits of rubbish that had held onto the fabric from the ground.

"What do you want, Malfoy?" Her voice was thick, and it sounded as if she had a head cold. She winced at this obvious giveaway; she sounded like a wreck, and both of them knew that she was at the moment.

Hermione stepped back when he appeared out of the darkness. She couldn't see him before, only having heard his stupid voice. His figure was outlined in the darkness despite the black suit he was wearing.

She couldn't help but wonder where Malfoy, the worst Head Boy she had ever seen, had been before, and what he had been doing.

"Poor, poor Granger. I think we all knew this moment was coming, didn't we?" he commented idly, his words dripping with mock curiosity. Hermione narrowed her eyes at him.

"Just sod off, Malfoy," she hissed, her jaw clenched. "I don't need your oh-so-precious thoughts on what just happened, all right?"

"But why ever not?" Malfoy questioned, putting a hand to his chest and trying to appear sincerely hurt. "It's not like I'm the one telling lies. I'm not your dearest boyfriend—whoops, my mistake." He smirked at her cringe; he was going to keep bringing the tender subject up, and Hermione would have none of this.

"I'm leaving," she growled. She didn't want to stay here with Malfoy where he could see her hurt expression even in the fathomless darkness.

She started to storm away, but she hadn't gotten very far when Malfoy's fingers encircled her wrist, digging his fingernails into her skin, and with a yelp of surprise she was flung to the ground. He stood over her, towering against the blackness of the sky, and by what she could make out from the starlight he was sneering at her viciously.

"I wasn't done talking to you, Mudblood," he spat. He grabbed her arm and yanked her up so hard that she whimpered. She stumbled once on her feet, and wrenched her arm out of his grasp.

"Don't you dare put a finger on me, you stupid prat," she snarled. "And I don't care if you were talking to me or not—I've got duties to supervise the dance that is currently happening inside the castle. And so do you! So kindly refrain from touching me at all and shove out of my business."

She folded her arms defiantly across her chest, stuck out her chin and walked away. She knew he wouldn't grab her again—but he didn't need to stop her physically.

"You'll look like a fool, Granger," he said to her as she walked on. She slowed considerably. "Walking in all alone when everyone and their aunts have heard you screaming at Weasel and bawling your eyes out."

She stopped, heart thudding against her chest. His statement was true, and she didn't like to acknowledge that Malfoy was correct about something for once.

"They'll all be staring at you, and you'll sit in a chair, all by yourself and you won't dance, and by the end of the evening you'll still be stag and looking miserable," he called; she could hear the malice behind the nonchalance in his voice.

She turned around, her fists shaking, but her head streaming with thoughts.

"Congratulations, Malfoy, you kept me from going inside. I don't see how that's a terribly good victory, but if it helps you sleep at night, then bully for you. I can just go back to my quarters and tell the Headmaster I'm sick, he'd believe me. Now, unless you've a particular reason to keep insulting me, I'm leaving." She let out a hard breath, and turned back around again.

"You're going to cry yourself to sleep if you go back inside, you know."

She whipped around. "What do you want, Malfoy! Why do you keep acting like you bloody care what I'll be doing the moment I walk away from you?" she screamed at him.

"I'm just delaying your pain, is all," he said quietly. She was silent for a moment, rather stunned at the unexpectedness of his statement, and pondered its possible implications.

"No you aren't," she said after a moment; "You're just making it worse." She turned away abruptly from him; her face was twisting up, and she fought to shove any mention or thought of Ron back into the corners of her mind.

"I'm telling you what will happen; knowing how to stop it would give you an advantage, wouldn't it?" he told her. She remained silent. "I'm just trying to help you out, Granger."

"Why?" she demanded instantly, back stiffening.

"No one likes to see you cry, Granger." He paused for a moment. "Especially not me," he murmured.

Hermione could've fallen over. Unless she was going deaf, she definitely heard what he had said. These words of his summoned up her immediate suspicions; it was obviously insincere, but he would never go and actually say that to her unless there was something to be gained in the end. She was curious, to admit, and even though his words shocked her, she couldn't help but try to determine his motivation.

She took a careful step toward him, brushing her eyes as if she had been crying. The tears that had been there previously… well, they were only momentary and she pushed them back. But she gave a little sniff and stared at him.

"Malfoy? What—?" she started, falling off abruptly. She wasn't so good with subtlety, but she was going to give this a shot.

"Weasley was bound to hurt you, you know that?" he said softly, almost gently, moving forward to her. His voice was different, trained. It sounded as if he was accustomed to using it on females he was seducing.

The thought that he was trying to seduce her almost sent her into giggles, but she bit her lip and forced the amusing thought out of her mind.

"I g-guess I did," she agreed quietly, trying to figure out the direction he was going. He stopped a few feet away and looked at her. She looked down at the ground, away from his steely gaze.

"How does it feel," he questioned, "to know that you still love him, but you'll never be able to be with him again? How does it feel to know that you'll be watching him snog the daylights out of Brown, always imagining yourself in her place?"

That certainly struck the nail on the head. Hermione's face twisted up, in anger and in pain, and she wanted to yell that she knew what he was doing and run away. But she couldn't; she tried to keep holding onto the fact that Malfoy most likely did this to make her cry and distract her, and damn him, it was working.

He's tricking you!—He's right though… Ron and Lavender…Ignore it! Stop! He'll… he'll be so happy with her… he might fall in love with her, and I…I…

When had she fallen? When had her knees buckled, resulting in damp stains on her knees? She couldn't remember picturing Ron and Lavender attacking each other playfully, ending up in kissing and the exchanges of "I love you" from both of them. God, it hurt so bad for her to realize and to know that she would never have that again with Ron… that she wouldn't ever have it again at all.

Malfoy was standing next to her, looking down on her crumbling emotions. She pushed herself up, swaying, and hit him halfheartedly in the chest.

"Why did you say that?" she sobbed, her face crinkled and twisted, trying fruitlessly to stop the tears. "Why did you have to say that, you bloody prat?" she whispered.

He remained silent, but took her by the shoulders and pulled her closer, pushing her face gently into his shoulder. She fought him, only for a moment, before the comfort of another human being washed over her and she gave in.

She managed to stifle her sobs eventually, and tears silently slipped down her cheeks.

"You're such a bastard, Malfoy," she mumbled into his shoulder; it was ironic, however, because she was still clutching him, and he was holding her like a lover. It scared her to recognize this, but there was no other way to describe it.

He chuckled, running a caressing hand over her hair and laying it on her shoulder. "You're grateful for this, Granger," he whispered.

"You're taking advantage of me, Malfoy," she retorted in a muffled voice. He gave a little shrug.

"So I am; it wouldn't be the first time, would it?" he asked, though rhetorically. He wrapped his arms tighter around her back, and she started to squirm out of his grasp again.

"Don't fight me, Granger, you want this." He was answered with a little scoff. "We both want this."

"You're sick," she cried, pulling away from his arms. His expression turned stony, his eyes cold and hard.

"And you're beautiful." His voice was colorless and calm, dangerous even. He slowly withdrew his wand from inside his suit and pointed it steadily at her, his face detached and hard.

She was silent, taut and rigid at being so defenseless. The leftover tears were still trickling down her face, her cheeks slowly freezing, and her breathing was jagged and shallow through her open mouth. Another tear or two slid down her cheeks, and he walked to her.

She was petrified, frankly. What he had done to hurt her that night not only angered the living hell out of her, but scared the living hell out of her too. Draco Malfoy was always the stupid, snot-nosed jerk who lived to make fun of her and look down on her, Harry and Ron in the most condescending way he could. There was always something to ridicule about them whenever Malfoy was around, and it had somehow always hurt.

But never… never had he been like this. His wand was under her throat, and the way he was holding himself, so rigidly, made him seem as if he was dying to pounce on her, but withheld himself.

And she didn't like this situation, suddenly. She was wandless (why did she think nothing bad would come of this dance, so she was lured into the security that her wand was not needed?), at his mercy, and all of a sudden he seemed a lot more dangerous than he ever had before. His words dressed him up to seem like one who lurked in the shadows, waiting, wanting to jump out and clamp down on the neck of an innocent for the sheer pleasure of their terror. Or was it just for the sheer pleasure of hurting something, someone, he had been stalking?

Was he stalking her?

"P-Put the wand down, Malfoy," she instructed shakily. His eyes narrowed, and he thrust the tip deeper into her throat. She whimpered and jerked backwards, and in a rush she was toppling over and scrambling to run at her moment of freedom.

The night was so deep with blackness that she had no idea where she was going; curse the moon for being new, she could've used moonlight to manage her way around on this night. Instead, she was stumbling around like a blind woman, her nerves icy and fear screaming from her body.

She didn't know what was happening, how she had managed to escape from him unharmed. She ran as fast as she could, eyes bright with fear and her body alive and taut with terror. There was an angry cry, and the next moment he had an arm around her neck and was slowly applying more and more pressure. A sinewy, clenched hand and wrist appeared before her, and she could feel his muscles tighten.

"M-Malfoy stop!" she gasped, her fingers clawing at his arm, her vision clouding up, her whole body spinning out of control and falling into the black abyss that welcomed her. She fought to push the gray out of her eyes, the fog out of her brain and the welcome emptiness through her sore body, but it wasn't working.

Her body was limp, and slowly her scratching hands stopped clawing and fell, hanging loosely at her sides, swinging like the boneless arms of a puppet with no master. Her muscles relaxed, and her body was slumped against his, using his structure as a support to keep off of the damp, icy ground.

He removed his arm, and caught her before she could fall completely. She was slumped in what looked like an uncomfortable position, and he hitched her up and shifted her body. Her eyes were fluttering, gradually stopping, and her will to stay conscious dissipated as her eyes closed. Her lips were chapped and parted, and he could still hear her breathing shallowly until she lay still in his arms.

He brushed a lock of hair off of her forehead, and held her properly. He observed her face, impassive and calm, and he could feel the need to let his eyes roam when she was in such a vulnerable state. But this time would come later… 

Casting a wary look around, he cradled her in a coldly professional manner and slipped through the darkness into the Forbidden Forest, from which he would not return, not tonight, and hopefully, not ever.

-
-x-x-x-


Author's Note: well I hope you enjoyed that! Please continue reading on!
 



THANK YOU A ROSESINNOCENCE FOR BETA-ING THIS FOR ME!
Anyways, review if you wish it!


Chapter 2: Trapped
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Harry Potter characters. Ever heard of J.K Rowling?

For any of my readers that are Polish, I made up some stuff about the heritage of it and stupid stuff like that, so take no offense even though I don't think there's anything to be offended by.

This is the start of the edited version of this story! I found there are A LOT of mistakes and I'm editing and putting it all up at once!

Enjoy!

-

The October Hollow
By Darkwing73181

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((--Chapter Two--))
Trapped


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Sunday, October 18
Day one


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Many interesting things can happen when one person is asleep. Many events take place, unknown to the slumbering figure. But most off, many frightening, yet important things can happen while someone resides in their dreams. And that was what happened to Hermione Granger.

As she woke up, her head pounding from a bad migraine, she clamped her eyes shut and kept them closed, trying to escape the sunlight straining through her eyelids. She twisted her head around, feeling the muscles in her neck pull because they were tight from sleeping the wrong way. With a groan, she stretched her neck best she could to unknot her neck from the bad sleep, but she found she couldn't. She moved her hands to rub it, but— her hands weren't moving.

Suddenly her heart was pounding in her throat and all she could hear was her heartbeat. She jerked her hands back and forth, and still, they wouldn't move. She could feel some hard material tying them together to something, and it burned her wrists. Horrifically, she opened her eyes quickly and looked around, still jerking her hands frantically. From what she could see, which was only right above her and her peripheral vision, was mostly dark rock. The ceiling was rock, the floors and walls were rock. But she didn't know what she was on, but she could tell that since it was soft, and not hard like rock would be, it would most likely be a bed.

Suddenly, her mind snapped and she realized she was tied to a bed. She let out a scream that came out extremely muffled, and for the first time she realized something was tied in her mouth and around her head. She screamed again and tugged her whole body away from the bed, even though it wouldn't budge. She clamped her eyes shut again and felt like crying. She realized then, as she tried to wretch her body from the bed she was tied to, that she had been kidnapped. And as she suddenly stopped moving, she remembered the night before.

Draco Malfoy was the last person she had seen. And he was the one whole knocked her out with that vapory cloth. He had done it, he had taken her away.

And he tied me to a bed! Her mind yelled.

She basically put two and two together, and she screamed once again and yanked away from the bed harder than ever. She wouldn't let him do anything to her if it cost Hermione her life, because somehow she knew he hadn't touched her in any way since the night before.

After ten whole minutes of tugging, and twisting, and screaming, she eventually stopped and lied still. All the energy was drained out of her, and she didn't know what to do. But that was why she stopped. She never knew what to do when she panicked. But if she was calm, and could think, she could most likely get herself out of the ropes and off of the bed. She tried her best to relax, and even though her heart was going a million miles an hour, and her head was jammed full of thoughts, she stopped moving and stared at the ceiling. She needed something to focus on so she could clear her mind.

She eventually undid the painful knot in her neck, and she was able to look around. Mutely, she saw many different things. At the end of the bed, which she noted, were a table, a chair, and a medium sized dark violet bag. There was a book on the table, but Hermione couldn't read the title for it was too far away and thin-looking. From the table the wall went down towards the other end of the room maybe five more feet, and then it turned a corner. At the end of maybe a twenty foot long wall was a strong, sturdy wooden door. At first sight it looked old and rickety, but Hermione knew better. She observed the hinges, and tried to distinguish the type of wood. After a minute she decided it was maple, but she wasn't sure. But since the humidity in the room wasn't that bad, so she knew that the door would be strong.

Next, as she observed, was a stack of blankets and a large, wooden chest. She wondered what was in it, but she hoped that she would find out in time. After that, and after craning her neck to see, she saw that at the end of the wall was a window. A badly cut circle in the tough stone, and someone had placed metal bars through it.

If I had my wand I'd be out of here.... She thought indignantly as she observed the window.

The metal looked pretty old, and the hole for the window wasn't too small, so maybe she could get out if she could undo the ropes.

Slowly, after Hermione had observed and carefully noted everything in the room, she started to fumble with the ropes around her ankles. At first she never noticed, but she wasn't wearing any socks or shoes, and instead of her Halloween ball dress, it was her school uniform. At first, it kind of scared her to think how she could've been changed into her uniform, but then she remembered magic. With magic, a simple spell could transfigure all of her clothing into her uniform.

After she calmed herself down, she carefully moved around her bare ankles and feet against the rope. It burned, but after a minute, she was able to loosen it a little. She used her toe to pull at the knot in it, and after five minutes or so it came close to undone. Quickly, as the rope became loose, she pulled one of her feet out, moving her other heel so not to prevent the other from slipping out. As soon as it came loose Hermione breathed in relief.

Maybe she would get out of there.

Easily, she pulled her other foot from the ropes, and then flipped over so she was on her stomach. Her arms were twisted painfully, but she got on her knees and twisted her wrists to go the same way as her arms. She kneeled on the bed, observing the knot. It looked like a noose and a square knot together. So maybe, since there was a small extra rope, if she pulled the knot and the rope, then maybe she could undo her hands. She moved and sat Indian on the bed, and then with both her feet again she pulled the rope sideways.

After ten more minutes of struggling, and breaking a few toenails, she finally loosened it a little. She had to twist it several different ways to learn how and what would loosen it, she figured it out and carefully expanded the rope to make room for her wrists. After a minute, she slipped her wrists out noiselessly, and rubbed them. They had red burn marks on them from the stinging rope. She reached up behind her head and undid the tight cloth knot that was restricting her from talking properly. She pulled it away from her face and closed her mouth, still tasting the cloth. She threw it across the room, and then moved to the edge and stood up.

The ceiling wasn't that high, maybe seven or eight feet, and as she moved mutely looked at the window, she could tell that the window was extremely small and that there was a very slight chance she could fit through it. But she doubted she could. She turned and looked around carefully. Something she didn't notice was that there was almost a second room a few feet away from the window. She stepped into it, and it was barely anything. It was like a single two by two room, and it was really just a crevice in the large room itself.

Hermione stepped out of the second room and back to at the head of the bed. She looked down, and to her disgust it had a green blanket and more gray than silver pillows; Slytherin colors.

Yep, Malfoy's the one that kidnapped me, she thought sardonically as she moved towards the table.

She looked at the book, opening it and saw that it was empty, and she frowned and picked it up and flipped the pages. The book was blue, the pages yellow, and she saw that it was entirely blank as she looked through out the whole thing. There was a slight lump in the middle, and Hermione flipped to it and saw a quill.

"What is this doing here?" She asked herself aloud, wondering why the luxury of a book would be placed with her.

She picked it up and examined it. She put down the book and the quill, and cautiously moved towards the door. As she neared it, she placed her hands softly on it and felt the wood. She could smell it, and she was right, it was maple. There wasn't any doorknob, but there was like an eyehole at the top of it. She looked through its rectangular shape, and couldn't see anything. It was solid all the way through. Quietly, she knocked on the door, and could hear the hollow noise. It was a door that led to somewhere.

She backed away from the door and turned and examined the chest and the blankets. More green... She thought vaguely to herself. Slowly, she bent down and lifted the lid of the chest. Inside was almost like a cooler. Nothing else was around that. She lifted the lid and found bottled water. She grabbed a bottle and opened it, and then sniffed it. It had no smell. So unless it was something that had no smell, which water had the feature of, then she was safe to drink it.

Cautiously, she lifted the bottle to her lips and titled it back, and felt the cold, flowing water pour back into her throat as she swallowed it. She tightly placed the cover back on and tossed it back into the cooler. She closed the lid, and then the chest lid, and stood back up.

All she had left to look at was the window. But as she turned to move towards it, something caught her eye, and she immediately moved for it. It was the medium sized bag she saw earlier. She grabbed it, and then spilled its contents on the floor. It was just hygienic stuff; toothbrush, and everything else. She groaned and threw all of it back into the bag, and then flung the bag underneath the table.

She stood back up instantly and started to move towards the window, but a hard voice stopped her right in her tracks.

"Don't move, Granger," Draco said sternly as he pointed his wand threateningly at her.

She hadn't even heard him come in. Slowly, she turned to face him, her eyes glowing fiercely with anger as all the scared and confused emotions rose to the surface swiftly. She turned all the way, staring him straight in the eye with a vicious glare. She barely looked around for anything to defend herself. There was nothing, and to add to the glower, she immediately jumped back, away from him, in a fighting stance, ready to brawl. He smirked and lowered his wand, and she still kept her stance.

"Where the hell am I?" She growled. If he could just take a step closer, then maybe she could beat his brains out, she wouldn't mind.

He took a small step towards her, and she jumped back again.

"Somewhere. Out far in the middle of nowhere. Stuck, locked, inside of a mountain cave. That's where you are," he said quietly, lifting his wand again, taking a few more careful steps towards her.

This time though, he was closer to her, and the tip of the wand was underneath her chin, and rested before the top of her throat. She didn't flinch or blink. She didn't care if he was repaying her for third year. She didn't care if he was going to kill her. She was going to fight. And he knew it. He looked into her deep auburn eyes, and he could the fear and determination in her eyes. She wasn't going to make anything easy.

"You know, you should be scared of me. I've got a wand at the moment, and you don't. So why don't you make this easier for yourself and stop wasting energy," he sneered. She scowled.

"Just because you have a wand doesn't mean anything to me! I'll fight you no matter what! And I'm not wasting energy, Malfoy, if I'm standing perfectly still and not moving," she growled again.

She narrowed her eyes as he lifted his wand higher, moving her chin upwards. Thinking quickly yet rashly, she opened her mouth and moved swiftly and tried to bite it out of his hand, but he was too quick for her. He snatched it away as her teeth made an audible click as they closed on air. She was ready to do anything to get out of this situation.

"Impedimenta!" He yelled.

The light burst out of his wand, and she shrieked as the spell hit her in the stomach and sent her flying backwards into the wall and she fell into a crumpled heap. She rolled over and gave a painful groan as she sat up and pulled her legs underneath her. He reached down quickly, and grabbed her collar and pulled her up into a standing position, and wrapped his hand around her throat tightly. She winced and struggled for breath, and he shoved her against the wall brutally and tightened his grip.

Even with her air supply blocked, and her heart racing from fear, she somehow managed to open her eyes and glare daggers at him, even if he was inches away from her face with a deadly glint in his eyes.

"Your life is entirely in my hands. I could kill you right now and no one would stop me, so it might be best for you to stop being so insolent and shut your Mudblood mouth," he snarled softly, the hatred in his eyes getting more evil and rasher by the second.

"I don't-- care!" She managed to choke out. He gave her an equally evil smirk to match his glower, but he loosened his grip on her throat and she managed to inhale and stop the light-headed feeling she had.

"You can do... whatever you want to me but.... I won't stop...fighting!" She gasped.

With a growl and extreme force, he lifted her a few inches off the ground, putting all of her body weight on her throat and making her choke again, and then he threw her viciously into the adjacent wall, and she collapsed on her face on the floor again.

Instantly, he placed a foot underneath her and kicked her harshly in the stomach and flipped her over onto her back. She grimaced, but firmly told herself that she would not give him the pleasure of hearing her painful scream, even though now she had a few excruciating bruises. Once again he bent down and grabbed her collar and pulled her up and pushed her against the wall. She glared at him, yet held her breath.

"If you don't care for your life then stop fighting. You're just killing yourself faster if you fight against this," he growled. She narrowed her eyes.

"I could care less if I died, but I'm not fighting for myself you idiotic git!" She said angrily. "I'm only one trivial life that'll be lost in the war for what's right against bloody Voldemort and all of you stupid Dark wizards!" She stated fiercely. Draco actually laughed.

"Believe me, Granger, you wouldn't be here if you were trivial," he said ironically. "You may never know why you're here, but your death comes with a cost." He paused, "But like I said, you're just killing yourself faster if you fight," he snarled. She glowered at him, but she couldn't come up with something to retort back with.

So quickly many different thoughts, ideas and questions flew through her mind, not staying long enough to be answered or long enough to be even realized. But she knew one thing; she had to find out why she was so important in the long run. But there was that one small piece of information that Hermione couldn't resist. She wanted to see him mad. The idea was deliciously inviting to her and she knew that she would taunt him, despite her current situation.

"You said no one would stop you if you killed me, yet I'm so important that I can't be lost. Contradict yourself much, Malfoy?" She said viciously.

His lip curled and he narrowed his eyes, obviously not realizing he had canceled himself out before. He instantly raised his wand and prodded it sharply into the hollow of her throat.

"So what? Any more rubbish like that and I'll really hurt you," he said spitefully. "And if I don't hear you screaming I'll have the Dark Lord himself help me. Merlin knows he'd enjoy your pain," he added maliciously with a smirk. "Try not to get on my bad side Granger; it would do you a lot of good."

"Haven't I been on your bad side since day one?" She stated shrilly. "You've always been Mudblood this!', and 'Granger that!' Your whole bloody life seems intent on making my life as miserable as possible! Wouldn't you call that 'me being on your bad side'?" She demanded fiercely. Draco actually seemed to ponder her retort.

"Actually, no. Making you miserable is what I do for fun. If you really want to see my bad side, try living in Potter's shoes for a day. You're too easy to torment for you to be on my bad side," he derided. Hermione felt her eyes well up in angry tears, but just as easily as they came she held them back.

He would see no sign of her pain.

"That's not true. I'm not easy to torment," she said, though her voice wavered slightly with uncertainty. Draco laughed softly.

"Then I suppose that I'm the only one who really knows how to make you angry or hurt," he sneered softly. Hermione glared at him.

"You may think that! But you aren't the only one!" She said frantically without even thinking.

She knew that Draco wasn't the only one, but he was one of the only ones. And she didn't like that he knew the advantage he had over her. Draco snickered again.

"Silly me. I forgot Weasley could make you cry just by leaving you for someone who's easy. And he actually has a point too, you're a bit feisty," Draco added. Hermione glared at him, and her lip curled.

"Shut up," she spat dangerously, but her lip trembled severely. Draco smirked malevolently.

"Oh, and let's not forget how Patil is so much better than you," he mocked, while she started to shake with rage. "She's so much better in bed and so stupid in school and all she cares about is appearance. Maybe Granger, if you weren't so concerned with school, you wouldn't be here and you might actually be happy for once! But instead you have to make everyone around you resentful and that's why you're alone!" He mocked maliciously. Hermione closed her eyes and fought to keep herself from retaliating, but couldn't stop herself.

"Shut up!" She screamed at him.

Instantly she lifted her leg forcefully and kneed him powerfully in the groin. His face twisted in pain, and he let out a howl as he dropped her.

She jumped up angrily and shot for the closed door, even though she already knew somehow that she'd never get out. Just as she made it, he jumped on top of her and tackled her to the ground, shoving her face into the floor and grabbing her arms behind her back agonizingly. She fought not to whimper, but as he elbowed her painfully she let out a short cry of hurt and he twisted her arms, and she felt him tie her wrists together, once again.

Violently he grabbed her head and pulled her hair back, and she was forced to bend her neck and look back at him, both fearfully and angrily. The look of rage and impulsiveness on his face made her cringe inwardly, but she glared at him as meanly as she could. He grabbed the back of her shirt and stood, pulling her up and choking her as he went, and she gasped for breath. He threw her against the wall, and then shoved her shoulders backwards and glared vindictively into her eyes.

"I told you not to get on my bad side Granger, but you had to push my limits," he said softly, gripping her shoulders and shoving her harder into the wall. She clamped her eyes shut as her shoulder and arm bones twisted and painful tears came to her eyes.

Suddenly she felt the sharp blow of his fist on her face and she fell to the floor, feeling the sting of the hit beneath her eye, and the bruise welting up. Her throat closed up as she felt her will to not cry go against her, and she found it harder to breath. She squeezed her eyes tighter together as she felt the forceful kick to her stomach made her entire body shake. She couldn't stop the occasional tears start to leak out as he savagely kicked her repeatedly, but she would not cry out.

Even though he was wearing regular shoes, it felt to her as if he were wearing steel toed boots, and for each painful jab that his forceful kick brought, she felt her body shake more, and she felt her will grow weaker. To her, it seemed an eternity for every excruciating and mind blinding painful blow, but only ten minutes had gone by.

Finally, she forgot to hold her ground, she forgot to fight and she screamed, and broke down sobbing.

"Please stop!" She moaned, pulling herself into a ball as best she could, sobbing uncontrollably.

Draco was satisfied and stopped and backed away, looking indifferently down on her trembling body. With a quick change of mind, he savagely jumped forward and kicked her forcefully again, and she screamed out in agony.

With a malevolent, satisfied look he turned and left the room silently, without another word, leaving a shaking, bruised and bleeding Hermione.... alone.

-
-x-x-x-
-


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A/N: Well that's the second edited chapter. I do hope it isn't too violent for you!


I do also know that heroine undoing the ropes is virtually impossible, and I know that but hey, this is HARRY POTTER world we're talking about, and it's okay to make things happen that are among the impossible! Hell, I bet Dumbledore can lick his elbow! That's impossible to us Muggles!

THANK YOU A ROSESINNOCENCE FOR BETA-ING THIS FOR ME!
Please review!



Chapter 3: The Beginning of Fate
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: Hear me now; I DO NOT OWN Harry Potter. The genius that does is J.K. Rowling.

But I do own Troy Malfoy.

Also, if any of my readers are Polish, I just have some useless made up stuff about it, even though it may not be in this chapter it was in the first one, so please don't be offended even though there really isn't any material that can be offensive.

Okay, so let's go!

-

The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

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((--Chapter Three--))
The Beginning of Fate


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Monday, October 19
Day 2


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All Hermione could remember was that the next day of her life was extremely different.

When she woke after Draco had beaten her until she had passed out, she found, once again that she was tied to the bed in the same position as the first time. Though she made no struggle at all, her body ached tremendously. She could feel the tender and stinging bruises on her stomach, face and throat from the day before, and every time she attempted to move a little, she cried out in pain.

Like last time, she had the cloth tied around her head, preventing her from making a proper noise, and her feet and hands were tied, though this time she knew that Draco would not make the mistake of leaving them undoable. She didn't even try to move her wrists, and throughout most of the day she hovered between sleep and reality, yet the latter was worse for her. Anytime she was awake she could feel the presence of someone else in the room, whether it be Draco or someone else, she didn't know. But throughout most of the day she slept, gaining her strength and trying to replenish her energy that was lost in the fight from the day before.

The one time she was awake for more than ten minutes, it was in the dead of the night. Amazed, she found she was no longer tied, and she was actually curled up warmly in the blankets. She sat up with great difficulty, feeling the strain on her entire body, and she blinked and looked around. The only source of light was the glare of the moonlight outside pouring in through the small window, even though the beams had not yet entered the room. This time she felt that no one else was in the room, and that satisfied her enormously.

She pushed aside the blankets, and then stood up, or at least tried to. She staggered and fell to the floor with a short cry of pain, but managed, after a moment, to stand with only a wobble. When she regained her balance, holding out her arms, she moved slowly to the window, using the wall for her main support. She leaned against the wall and then looked out through the rusty bars down onto the scenery below.

From the moonlight she could see the valley below the mountain she was in; the steep slopes from the side of the mountain slowly fell into the place of a rolling meadow, and ended near an enormous lake that looked like the one at Hogwarts. She could see the massive forest across, and the breezy winds rippled the grass and then continued on to the water, making the moon's reflection wave out for a moment before going flat once again. Hermione breathed in the slight breeze, and smiled faintly. She looked up at the moon, which she could see easily, and observed the orange crescent; a small, newborn sliver.

The room was not yet lit up like the rest of the valley was, but Hermione carefully noted that the moonlight was getting closer to the window by the second as it began to rise completely into the heart of the sky. As they inched forward, and Hermione smiled, for she always used to love playing in the moonlight when she was younger, the door burst open, and she jumped and turned fearfully.

"How the bloody hell do you keep untying yourself?" Draco exclaimed angrily as he strode forward.

In an instant Hermione was near the head of the box-spring, shaking and recoiling away from him instinctively. He looked at her incredulously for a moment, before shaking his head and casting a glance out the window. He turned and looked at her for a moment in thought, and Hermione's heart began to race again.

Yes, she would admit that after the day before she was scared of him, but she swore to herself that she would lash out against him if he tried to hurt her again. She didn't like the feeling of waking up, tied and bruised and completely vulnerable to anyone.

She didn't like the fact that Draco Malfoy had done that to her either.

But he wouldn't this time if he tried.

She blinked and realized that he was moving towards her, and she cowered against the wall. For the first time she realized that Draco had left the door open. She didn't know where it led to, she didn't know who would be outside waiting for her if anyone, but she knew one thing.

She'd be running.

Draco reached out a hand to grab her, but Hermione shot away from him and made a wild dash for the floor, flying at top speed and not seeing anything at all. She amazed herself by making it to the door, jumping out and scrambling down the hallway as fast as she could. Draco was charging quickly after her, not left behind but not close enough to jump and tackle her to the ground with enough accuracy that would hold her down. Quickly, she flew around a corner, hitting the wall, yelping and pushing off to gather more speed, and Draco copied her and pursued closer.

"Troy, grab her!" Draco yelled suddenly, making Hermione jump and run faster, but no sooner she was tackled into the wall by someone.

She didn't know who, but quickly they slipped their arms through hers and put their hands behind her head and held her in a half-nelson and shoved her face first into the wall. She growled and struggled, determined to get away, but he was strong and didn't even let her budge. After a moment, she heard Draco jog up and pant for a moment.

"Merlin, Draco! Are you chasing her just for the fun of it?" The other person asked.

Hermione remembered that Draco had called him Troy, and she guessed that was his name. Hermione struggled uselessly again, and somehow he lifted his arms higher, making hers bend the wrong way, and she whimpered in pain and stopped moving.

"No!" Draco snapped defensively. "I was trying to bring her to a room without an east or west window, but before I could grab her she got past me," he said indignantly.

Suddenly she could see him from the corner of her eyes. "And if you do it again Granger, you'll pay," he growled. She couldn't glare at him from the position she was in, but she tried anyways.

"Whatever. What do you suggest I do with her?" Troy asked Draco, suddenly holding Hermione tighter.

"If you can, get her arms behind her back," Draco said slowly.

Hermione's heart raced and as soon she felt her arms go down a little, she moved swiftly to get away, but before she knew it, Draco had her in a headlock, and she fought with all her strength to get away but could not. She felt her wrists once again tied together with the burning rope. She suddenly had a burst of strength, and she squirmed to a great extent, making both boys grab her to make her stop moving, and even then she still moved.

"Why is she.... so aggressive?" Troy asked with difficulty as he tried to hold onto her. Draco did not respond.

Together they worked to stop her movement, but Hermione never stopped, stressing herself to fight even more.

Finally, Draco had her on her knees in a headlock, and she found no way to move except for tossing her head, which did nothing except aggravate her. Draco took a deep, relieved breath, and tightened his grip around her throat with his forearm, making her choke. Troy moved from behind them, and moved in front to look at her. As he stepped in full light, Hermione would've gasped if she could move her jaw.

He looked extremely like Draco, only instead of having his hair fall naturally like Draco did since third year, he had his slicked back. His eyes were dark blue, but they had a large ring of piercing light blue. He had the same pale, pointed face that all of the Malfoys did, and yet he looked different to her somehow. He seemed more dignified and established, while at the same time youthful and clever. He was taller, and wearing a dark green jumper and black pants, and a black cloak with white silver fastenings. He studied her differently than Draco did, without the malevolent smirk, and it seemed to her that he looked down at her like a person and not like a Mudblood as Draco and the rest of his family did. Hermione looked back at him, trying to take in everything that was seen and all that he seemed to be implying, she didn't realize Draco had stood her up.

"Watch her for me. She still might be as aggressive, so you may just want to stun her," Draco said with a thoughtful snicker. Troy shook his head.

"Somehow I don't think she'll be as energetic," he said slowly. Hermione felt herself turn, and Draco handed her tied wrists to Troy and turned and walked away down the hall, the blackness engulfing him.

There was somehow a tentative silence between the two of them, and Hermione stood still, scared and anxious. Suddenly she felt him let go of her wrists, but before she could make a decision he had her at wand point.

"Don't try anything," he said warningly, the tip of his wand at her throat. She gave a small, obedient nod, leaned against the wall, and looked down at the ground.

"What's your name?" he asked her quietly. She looked up at him, bemused that he even asked.

"Hermione. But careful," she warned, "I'm a Mudblood so you might want to stay away from me." He laughed, and she stared him.

"I could care less if you were pureblood. I may be a Malfoy, but that's really a subject that shouldn't matter. Oh, and I'm Troy, by the way," he said smoothly. Hermione looked suspiciously at him but answered him nevertheless.

"So I've heard," she said peevishly.

Suddenly a thought struck her, and she cast a glance down the dark corridor. There was nothing but the void blackness staring back at her.

She looked back at him. "Why am I here? Why am I so important?" she asked him urgently. He looked at her with a blank stare.

"Draco didn't tell you?" he asked her startlingly, at which she laughed dryly.

"The only thing that Draco did last night was manhandle me," she said viciously. "I've got bruises all over my entire body. He wasn't going to say anything even if I hadn't been clever and answered him back," she snarled. Troy looked taken aback.

"Wasn't expecting that..." he muttered. He shook his head. "If you really want to know why you're here, I'm not sure I'm the best person to tell you. However, since Draco didn't, I might as well let you know the basics.

"Well, since you're Polish…" he paused and snickered at her shocked face, "Oh please, everyone here knows it. Continuing... let's just say you're important because of the full moon on Halloween. You've got something that no one else had for over a few hundred years, and that's really the only reason. Oh, and also to lure Potter here so the Dark Lord can kill him." Hermione gasped.

"What?" she shrieked. Why was she the trap that would get Harry killed? And what was with this moon thing?

Suddenly, she looked at Troy with an amazed face. She knew what he was talking about completely, but she couldn't believe it. She had read it on Polish History and legends of the magic folk, who had an entire different background as Polish Muggles did.

True, the event and ceremony had truly only taken place once in the entire history of magic, and the witch had ended up getting killed from the backfire of an elixir from what Hermione had read. But it still fascinated her all the same. It had said that a prophet had foreseen another witch coming in the century Hermione was born in, but as she filled her head with everything she could on the subject she never imagined that it could be her.

"Wait… me?" she whispered, looking at him both nervously and excitedly. He smirked and nodded.

"Happy?" he asked, sounding almost sly.

Hermione smiled faintly to herself. She couldn't believe her luck, and for Merlin's sake she was happy in a cavernous mountain cave hallway only because she had been kidnapped there in the first place. This was truly amazing for her.

But then, a dark thought crossed her mind, and she tried her hardest to recall just exactly what the ceremony was for that was first held. Then she remembered a certain paragraph, and the smile slipped off her face quickly.

'.... And even though the Lumerous Witch was killed, the host managed to get a full flask of the immortal elixir, making him live forever even if he was cursed from the Killing Curse. To this day he remains living in the depths of the Norwegian mountains alone, yet powerful.'

Even though that was the main reason for holding a ceremony, it was significant to be a Lumerous witch because they had powers almost no other magical person in the world had ever even known.

She gasped inwardly. She knew exactly what she was being used for. Her face darkened and she looked at Troy angrily yet scared.

She glared at him. "I can't believe this! Why didn't I ever know! Was there any sign at all?" she asked him shrilly. He shrugged.

"Not that you could've pointed out yourself. The only person that knew you were Polish, and could monitor you, was Draco. And obviously he wouldn't tell you, because then Dumbledore and the Ministry would have tabs on you constantly and you'd never be alone. You've been so secretive about your nationality that it's done you harm, and now no one knows why you're gone, just that you are. And they may never see you again, either," he added, a tone to his voice that puzzled her. Hermione stared at him.

"Meaning what? They're going to kill me?" she asked sharply. He shook his head.

"No, but if the elixir backfires again you'll die from it. But I doubt it will. The only reason it happened last time was because the witch was illiterate. And obviously, since you're Head Girl, you aren't, and you're smart, so it doesn't matter," he said casually.

Hermione looked at the ground, thinking quickly. Troy did have a point, but then, he was a Malfoy, and obviously related to Draco. So could she trust him?

Never trust a Malfoy...

The thought drifted through her head, and she looked back up at him doubtfully. She told herself that she wouldn't take his word for it, and she thought nothing else. Even though, as a minute passed and the silence grew louder by the second, her mind raced with all kinds of thoughts.

"Let me see the bruise on your face," he said suddenly.

She looked up at him, eyeing him warily, but nodded and lifted her chin so the torchlight brightened her face. Troy walked slowly up to her, and he studied the finer details. Suddenly her heart pounded in her throat and she realized she didn't want him near her at all. However, as much as she wanted to scream at him to get away, she held her tongue.

Mutely he lifted his hand to her face, not yet touching her skin but tracing the bruise in the air. Gently, he put his thumb to the welt on her cheek, and a shock went through her entire body. A sharp intake of breath escaped her lips; he looked at her curiously, and then placed his hand on her jaw, lifted her chin, and looked at her neck, moving closer to look more carefully at them.

However, every few seconds he glanced into her eyes, and she found herself numb with an unexplainable shock. Somehow, his face was incredibly close to hers, and he moved his hand from her jaw down behind her neck and pulled her head a bit closer.

"You know, I don't know how or why Draco can despise you if you're so perfect," he whispered lustfully, looking deeply into her eyes.

Hermione started to tremble, scared that he would kiss her and scared that he wouldn't. She didn't like the situation. He reminded her too much of Draco, and she would rather puke than kiss Draco. But this is Troy, she reminded herself. But then, Troy was a Malfoy, and she didn't know him at all.

Just as his lips were nearly on hers, she spoke.

"Don't," she whispered hoarsely.

He gave a small smirk and brought both hands underneath her jaw and pulled her forward and kissed her intensely; inside she was pulling herself away, but in reality she just didn't move. She didn't know how to react. No one had ever kissed her when she had protested, not even Ron.

But even as he kissed her deeply, she found it wasn't so bad that she was kissing a total stranger, but somehow different. Was it because she and Troy were merely acquaintances? Somehow, she relaxed, and after a moment he pulled away and looked at her, staring into her eyes with a passionate look that she couldn't break.

"You can't tell me you didn't enjoy that," he whispered intensely, coming closer to her again. She opened her mouth to speak, but suddenly he looked fierce.

"You can't, and you won't," he snarled. Her eyes widened, and she found nothing to say back.

He pulled her strongly to him again, kissing her hungrily even as she squirmed. She fought to get away from him now as he pulled her head closer, concluding that she didn't like him or what he was doing; he angrily pushed her head back, breaking the kiss, and she glowered at him fiercely. He narrowed his eyes and quickly raised a threatening hand as she flinched and jerked away from him.

"Troy!"

Hermione jumped, and turned her head to look at the quickly approaching Draco. She instantly took a step backwards, but Troy jumped forward and grabbed her arm, holding her tightly, implying that he was indeed guarding her and not anything else.

"What?" Troy asked as Draco stopped in front of them. Hermione avoided his stare and looked down at the ground.

"We have to take her to the fifth room. It's got one small window to the south, and it's closer," Draco said as he strode forward, moved Hermione, snatched her wrists, and tugged her. She stumbled, and he stepped behind and pushed her forward.

"You're supposed to come too," Draco said over his shoulder to Troy. Instantly, he was by Draco's side.

"Why?" he asked. "The meeting isn't until later, and I've already talked to him twice," Troy said impatiently.

"No, father wants to talk to both of us. Something important but small for the ceremony," Draco said simply. Troy made an understanding noise in his throat, and for some reason it sent shivers up her spine.

They started talking about something she hadn't the foggiest clue about. They continued to talk back and forth in such a way that it made Hermione bored, and eventually she zoned out and simply walked along the darkened corridor as Draco pushed her. Occasionally she would listen, but it was just the way they were talking that bored her completely.

She kept thinking about what Troy had done. It scared her a little, and for some reason she had thought that he would be different from the rest of the Malfoys. Had she been entirely wrong?

The path slanted downwards, and it started to grow lighter even though it was night. Hermione knew it was from the moonlight, but she wondered how far they would be taking her.

Not a moment passed from that thought when Draco stopped moving. He pulled her backwards and let go and Troy grabbed her wrists quickly. She felt his thumb graze over her hand and then unhurriedly stroked her palm, sending shivers up her spine.

Once again, Hermione looked at the ground in fear and in shame and then felt her body pushed forward. She stumbled into a room that was completely lit, almost the same as the last one except without the small crevice and the window was in a different place.

"Hold it, Granger," Draco said gruffly. He grabbed her wrists, pulled a penknife from his pocket and flicked it open.

The blood rushed from her face, thinking he was going to slit her wrists or something, but he simply cut the rope. The extensions dropped to the floor and the skin by her wrists rose in goose bumps. She flexed her fingers and looked at Draco and Troy, who were wearing identical sly smirks.

"Why am I here?" Hermione asked quickly. The boys exchanged glances. Troy looked at her with a grin.

"You'll find out soon enough," Troy said reticently with a suggestive wink. The color rose in her cheeks as she looked back at him.

Quietly, Draco pulled the handle and closed the door with a soft click. Hermione groaned to herself, walked over to the window, and looked out at the moonlit hills. Yet, she could not see the moon, even as she strained her head to get past the bars to try and see it. She sighed dejectedly and slumped against the wall.

"I've got a feeling this is going to be a long night."

-
-x-x-x-
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I really didn't like writing Troy's character in this chapter when I edited it because it's so different from what I wrote in the many following chapters. Although Troy said that he looked at her as any other girl, he did unconsciously feel superior to her, like Draco does, except that he doesn’t really show it. But it leaked through when Hermione did something to upset him, (e.g. opening her mouth to protest, or struggling against his kiss) that made him show her who was boss, because supposedly, Purebloods are extremely superior and better than everybody else! (But we all know how that works out!)

Thank you A ROSESINNOCENCE so so MUCH for beta-ing this for me!

Please review!



Chapter 4: I Never Noticed Until Now
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. I do own Troy Malfoy.

Like I said in all of the last chapters, this is the edited version! Please, if you find any mistakes you can either review with it or contact me at my email! (It's in my bio.)

Not much to say except enjoy!

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The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

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((--Chapter Four--))

I Never Noticed Until Now


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Tuesday, October 20
Day 3


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As the night passed by slowly for Hermione, it was quite the opposite for the two Malfoy boys; time was going by quickly for them. Eventually, she lay down on the mattress and drifted off into a deep, troubled sleep. The two boys stayed in a well-furnished room, playing cards.

"Merlin, she's something, isn't she?" Troy asked Draco as he placed his cards in the right order.

The two Malfoy boys were first cousins. Although most thought that they were brothers, they weren't. Lucius, Draco's father, had a brother, who married a Black and had almost the same child as Lucius did, or it looked like it. Sometimes it was hard to tell Troy and Draco apart, but most time people could. Troy was taller and nearly three years older than Draco.

"Who?" Draco asked absently, moving a card around. They were playing a wizard game called Check, which is more commonly known as Poker in the Muggle world. Troy snickered.

"Granger, you idiot," Troy replied.

He laid a card face down, and sneakily drew a different one up from under the table. Draco noticed, but smirked and said nothing. Cheating wasn't a big mishap. Suddenly, Draco lowered his cards and looked at Troy suspiciously.

"What the bloody hell are you talking about? She's a Mudblood, and second off, she's annoying as a kneazle," Draco said, disgusted. Troy laughed.

"Have you ever just put aside the fact that she's a Mudblood, and pretended to block out everything she says?" Troy asked. Draco shook his head, and looked at a card in the deck before switching it with a card in his hand. He put down the cards in a neat fan.

"Never have, never will. It would take too much time and effort to be wasted on someone like her," Draco said with contempt in his voice. Troy rolled his eyes and slammed down his cards.

"But I meant if you put that aside, she's perfect! I can't believe you haven't ever thought of that before! Who cares if she's a Mudblood? She's bloody gorgeous!" Troy exclaimed. Draco looked at him, appalled. "Go ahead and try it, Draco. It's easy. Hell, I did it and I wound up snogging her, and it wasn't bad," he admitted, grinning slyly. Draco's jaw dropped.

"You kissed her? Are you mad?" he said. Troy smirked.

"And I bet you're jealous, too. All those times that you were alone with her, and insulted her and you could've got some, but no! You had to be a goody and stick firmly to your bloodline. For Merlin's sake, Draco! What have you been taking these last seven years? Everything you told me about her made her seem like a worm! But have you ever looked at her like you would a pureblood?" he demanded, both angry and excited.

"No," Draco said bluntly again.

He lifted back his cards again, and Troy shoved himself away from the table and knocked them out of his hands. Draco suddenly became furious, and he jumped up and whipped out his wand, just as Troy did the same.

"I am going to make you see her like a pureblood. And you'll be completely amazed," Troy promised in a soft, sly voice with a wicked grin. Draco frowned, and withdrew his wand and sat back down.

"Come with me," Troy said, and he walked to the door and pulled it open. Draco sat for a minute before jumping up and following.

What harm could be done? He walked off into the hall and slowed down next to Troy.

Draco followed him, mostly out of curiosity to see what he was going to do. He knew that Troy was bringing him to Granger's room, but what was he going to do? They stopped in front of the fifth door, where Granger was currently sleeping. Troy shot Draco a mischievous grin before muttering the spell to open the door. He pushed it open quietly, and smirked.

Although the moonlight wasn't occupying the room, it was illuminated slightly. There was also a dim torch on the wall that sent a flicker across her sleeping figure as the two boys stood in the doorway. She was mainly on her back, but she had one arm over her head, the other on her stomach, and her legs curled slightly. Troy stepped in, and walked over to the edge of the mattress. He sat down, and Draco watched him from across the room. She stirred in her sleep, her head moving slightly.

"Come here, and sit beside her. And look me straight in the face, after a moment, and tell me that she isn't attractive," Troy dared him evilly. Draco smirked; no Malfoy could turn down a dare.

Slowly, he walked across the room, and Troy stood, offering him the spot. Draco looked skeptically at him, but nonetheless sat down. He looked down at Granger's face in disgust, but, as Troy said, he put aside the fact that she wasn't a pureblood (with great difficulty), and he suddenly realized what Troy meant after a completely long moment. He wasn’t easily able to separate the feelings of lust from revulsion as he looked at Granger.

He reached out a hand, brushing aside the stray hair on her face and tucking it lightly behind her ear. He smirked to himself; he had been missing out those last years. He turned to say something to Troy but— Troy wasn't there.

"Troy?" Draco said. He jumped up and walked to the door, and went to pull out his wand but he felt nothing.

With a racing heart he quickly searched himself for his wand, but it wasn't there. Immediately, he knew that his stupid cousin took it. He pounded the door.

"You bastard!" He called through the wood angrily. The rectangular eyehole opened, and Draco looked into the mocking eyes of Troy.

"Have fun! I'll be back sometime before the meeting starts," Troy said haughtily. Draco glared at him, and the eyehole shut. He growled and pounded the door again.

"Let me out!" he yelled indignantly. He heard the cruel cackle echoing down the hallway fade out.

With a frustrated sigh, he backed away from the door. Taking a careful stance, he ran, jumped and threw out a leg that collided painfully with the door. He let out a howl and fell over onto the floor, and he grabbed his leg, gritting his teeth.

After a moment, the throbbing in his leg stopped, so he stood up and gingerly put weight on his leg. He drew out the chair at the table, sitting down. He frustratingly put his head in his hands as he thought of what to do. The meeting wasn't until five, and it was only 2:30! He'd be with Granger for nearly three hours. He let out an irritable sigh; if she woke up he'd be in for hell.

As the minutes ticked by, he just sat there. He couldn't get out of the room without a wand; the Dark Army had made sure of that. The window was too small, and there wasn't anything that could make it bigger or unlock the door. So, he sat there uselessly. He tried to keep his eyes away from Granger, but forbidding himself made his yearn even stronger; he couldn't help it.

Her skirt was hitched up slightly, exposing most of her legs and outer thighs. Draco had difficulty breathing, and he couldn't keep his eyes off of her; he knew that he would never look at her the same way again. His desire to get physically closer to her grew considerably, and he fought as strong as he could. The firelight flickered over her body, making her skin glow a tawny color that was so appealing to Draco, and suddenly, he couldn't take it.

He stood, hesitantly walking over and kneeling on the ground at the edge of the mattress. She turned her head, making her sleeping, content and blissfully blank face turn towards him. Troy was extremely right; she was beautiful, though it slowly dawned on him that he had always thought that. That was a reason that he made her life hell, because she was so attractive and even more out of reach. He remembered thinking early on that if he made her something that he would hate then he would no longer find her alluring. But now, with a quick simple conversation, and a flicker of light, everything he had ever felt for her came rushing back in.

Of course, he didn't know what he felt, exactly. It was something he had never felt. And it confused him.

He pushed himself up and sat down and leaned down next to her on his side, his elbows propping him up, his silvery hair falling into his eyes with elegance. The light was dim, casting shadows across her face, and she stirred once more and cast her head to the wall. From her jaw down was all bare neck. The two first buttons of her ruffled shirt were undone, the third was coming loose. He reached out a hand and flicked the button; it popped out of the small seamed hole.

Slowly, he moved his hand up and caressed her neck and collar bone, and she jumped due to his cold hands. He smirked, leaning over and kissed her barely, but softly on the lips and pulled back. He studied her for a moment: her eyebrows were creased, making it seem like she didn't understand even though she was still asleep. He chuckled to himself and leaned down again, kissing her more intensely this time, as he moved his body over hers, resting on her as he kissed her.

All at once, she started to come out of her sleep and into a light doze because of this. She was vaguely aware of what was happening, but her mind was mostly blank. She had forgotten that she had been kidnapped; she had forgotten that she was mad at Ron.

Somehow, she had a mental picture of Ron, and she thought it was he who was kissing her. She smiled to herself, and lifted her heavy arms, pulling Draco closer, which surprised yet pleased him. And still, she thought it was Ron. She pulled her arm lightly down his back and then back up again, gripping his shoulders, pulling him down, closer to her. He grinned inwardly and eased his arms underneath her, as she arched her back. He nudged his tongue between her lips, tasting every crevice in her mouth in the sweet passion he was feeling. She moaned from the back of her throat. He pulled back and kissed each inch of skin on her neck eagerly. She let out a heavy breath and gripped his shoulders again.

He pulled away and kissed her lightly on the lips again; unfortunately she opened her eyes. Quickly, he pulled off as the small smile slid off her face quickly. She let out a piercing scream that made him wince.

"OH MY GOD!"

He grimaced and jumped off of her, and she scrambled away, off the bed towards the corner of the wall.

"I can't believe you! You...you... you pervert!" she screamed at him.

He rolled his eyes and sat down in the chair once again, detaching himself of feelings. He stared at her with dark eyes as she gasped over and over, trying to calm herself down. She gagged to herself once or twice, but soon got over it, and she looked at him in disgust.

"Of all people!" she cried, revolted. Draco remained silent. She continued ranting on for several minutes to herself out loud, Draco listening without a thought.

"It wasn't that bad, was it? You certainly didn't seem to mind it," he said arrogantly. She stopped abruptly and stared at him.

Who was he to say that she minded it or not? Well he's wrong about it! she said to herself. She certainly didn't like it at all when she found out it was Draco, not Ron. But then, as she thought about it, what if she knew it was Draco? She shuddered.

It was like the previous day kissing Troy, only he didn't shove his tongue down her throat. She shuddered to herself again. The thought of Draco's tongue in her mouth made her skin crawl. She didn't want to know why he had done that, except she asked him anyways.

"What in the world gave you the idea to do that?" she asked him shrilly. Draco tapped his finger to the side of his face in thought for a moment.

"Troy," he answered. She sent him a suspicious, questioning look, and he sighed.

"He told me to put aside the fact that you're a Mudblood and advised me to look at you as a normal person. And seeing as he locked me in here and took my wand, I couldn't think of anything better to do," Draco stated simply. She stared at him, wide eyed.

"You mean... I'm locked in here with you?" she cried. Draco rolled his eyes and turned to the table. He picked up the one book and flipped through it, bored.

"Well thank Merlin he took your bloody wand..." she muttered to herself, though his sharp ears caught her words.

Draco's head snapped up and he looked at her. A wave of impulsiveness crashed over him; he stood up and took a cautious step towards her, grinning in a dark, malicious way.

"Why? Am I less threatening without it?" he asked her in a low growl as he continued walking to her at a painfully slow pace, the haunting grin still on his face.

The torchlight flickered, casting dim orange shadows over his face, making his eyes look sunken and his cheeks hollow. His silver eyes burned through the thin darkness, and Hermione was suddenly terrified. He looked maniacal and she was locked in here with him, alone and defenseless. He was a fierce, vicious wolf, his eyes gleaming, and she knew that she was his targeted prey.

She looked at him fearfully, and she stood and went to move away, but he took a step sideways, cornering her easily. He grinned spitefully and walked to her, and she paced on each foot and looked at him, her eyes reflecting her fright, when she started to breathe shallowly. She moved to one side to jump, but he darted in front of her. She went the other way, yet he blocked her once again.

By now, he was nearly three feet away, and she cowered against the wall, shaking. As he took his final step, she was pressed against the wall completely, on her toes and he was nearly against her.

"No need to be scared," he mocked with a cruel smirk on his face. He tilted his head, bringing his lips closer to hers, his breath brushing her cheeks in a whisper.

He decided to just let his mind take over. He wasn't going to hurt her physically, but emotionally. But then he would kiss her again, and she would be terrified of him. He knew exactly what he was doing. It was all in his experience.

Slowly, he reached up a hand, and put a finger lightly to her lips and then drew it down under her chin, down her neck and straight down the bare skin to the three undone buttons. He carelessly undid the next one, and the next and suddenly her hand flew. He caught it, gripped her wrist hard, and she winced at the pain.

"Unhand me," she snarled.

He smirked and let go of her, which shocked her, but in an instant he had his hand around her throat. But he wasn’t choking her. He was very closer to her, their noses touching and his forehead nearly against hers.

Although she stared at him, wide-eyed with fear, she still had some courage left. But that changed quickly when he reached into his pocket of his cloak and withdrew a knife.

His father had told him it was required for Draco to have it, especially in the situations he may be in and the people he was constantly dealing with.

He flicked it open effortlessly, and slowly let go of her but held it to her neck, the edge of the blade against her skin. She froze, and kept on her tiptoes. She was much more scared of a knife then of a wand. She guessed it was the Muggle in her. It was an instinct that she had grown up with.

He smirked at the frightened look on her face, and slowly lifted a hand back up. He caressed her cheek lightly, but she didn't seem to notice as she fearfully stared at the sharp blade that was jabbing her throat lightly.

"You know, Granger, Troy was right. Even though you are a Mudblood, you still are extremely attractive," he whispered smoothly into her ear as he lowered his lips to her neck in a light kiss.

"What the—hell—did you just say?" she squeaked. He stopped, raising his head slowly and looking her straight in the eyes, strands of his hair falling in front of his face.

"You heard me," he said, looking into her eyes, and he thrust his lips to hers and kissed her viciously, making her whimper and try to squirm away from him.

He flicked the knife closed, put it in his pocket, and in the same second his grabbed her wrists and shoved them against the wall, kissing her like it was the apocalypse. He forced his tongue into her mouth, and she grimaced and wriggled away, but could get no sympathy.

Suddenly, she bit down on his lip hard and he pulled back, flicked the knife open, and in one smooth movement, he slashed her left cheek open. She screamed. It was a long, shallow wound that could heal easily and barely bled, but it hurt nonetheless. He wiped his lip, which left a blood streak on his hand, and he brought the knife to her throat again. She froze again, and he smiled grimly.

"Best not try that again," He said darkly, his voice low and husky. She stared at him in fear.

He slowly lifted his hand again to her cheek, and lightly stroked it. She breathed unevenly, staring at him oddly, yet she was terrified. She was scared, shocked.

This was Draco Malfoy touching her face softly, her life long enemy that made her life miserable. And she couldn't believe that he wasn't hurting her; that he wasn't being mean to her, not counting the knife. She didn't believe that this was actually him and not someone else. But who else could it be?

He gently started to kiss her again, she clamped her eyes shut, trying to block it all out. But she couldn't. She couldn't handle the fact that he was being gentle with her. She trembled, and pressed against the wall, and Draco pushed his body up against hers, brought both hands to her face, and pulled her mouth deeper to his. She made a small noise of protest and she felt tears spring to her eyes.

Draco couldn't believe that he had never thought of this before. It would do no harm to him at all, and he loved the feeling of something new. His hands gradually left her face, and traveled down her neck and eventually he came to her shirt. He undid the buttons, and her heart started to race and all she could hear was the pounding of her pulse in her head. She was itching to lift her arms and stop him, but the knife was digging into her skin as it moved down her torso.

Draco was unaware that he had the knife in his hands; all he was concentrating on was getting her shirt off. Hermione realized, as he carelessly dropped the blade (narrowly missing her bare feet), that he only cared only about what he was doing.

Cautiously, she felt around the bare ground with her foot, her bare skin searching for the cold forgotten blade. Her small toe hit metal, and Hermione dragged her foot lightly across it and found the handle. She closed her toes around it with incredible difficultly, but managed after a minute or two, and carefully, she bent her leg and snatched the knife from her foot's grip as soon as it was within her reach.

She was tempted to use it to get away, but somehow she decided it was better to store it and use it in the future. She closed it and carefully put it in the belt loop in the back of her skirt. She didn't know how she managed to do all of this unnoticed as Draco kept kissing her, but she felt triumphant. He was a stupid git and all he could focus on was what he was getting.

Suddenly, she felt the last button come undone, and Draco slid his hands up her arms and leisurely moved her shirt off of her shoulders. It fell down her arms and dropped to the floor, and her entire body erupted in goose bumps. He pulled back from her lips and kissed her neck, nudging her head upwards. She looked up at the top corner of the room, fighting back frightened tears that had ceased for a moment before seeping back again. He placed a cold hand to her stomach, and she gasped sharply.

"Do you like this, Granger?" he murmured as he planted powerful kisses along her exposed neck and shoulders. She shuddered.

"N-not p-particularly," she stammered. He laughed softly, and he moved both hands to her back and lightly brought them upwards— towards her bra clasp.

As he started to fumble with it, she couldn't take it. He was violating her, and she was scared. She had a weapon, she could get away, so why wasn’t she? She had rights and this wasn’t fair, how he was treating her! She whipped a hand behind her back, grabbed the dagger and shoved it to his throat, and he took a step backwards and instantly held up his hands in a sort of surrender.

"Now who's the scared one?" She snarled, her fear suddenly forced down as her anger rose.

He glared at her, but she took a step forwards and held it to his throat. He glanced down around for the forgotten knife on the ground, and she smirked at him and gave the knife on his throat a soft movement. His lip curled maliciously.

"Go ahead, Granger. Kill me. Merlin knows you want to," he growled.

Hermione narrowed her eyes, gritted her teeth, and forced herself not to respond, however much she wanted to. He made a sudden movement, and she jerked the dagger to stop him and make the point that this wasn’t a joke.

"Give me a reason, Malfoy, and I won't hesitate to," she said coldly. Draco glared at her. He took a small step forward, and she didn't move at all.

"Don't. Move," she snarled.

With ferocity and cold determination in his eyes, he stepped towards her again, coming much to close, and she unconsciously took a small step backwards. Draco smirked, seeing the fear in her eyes and jumped forward, tackling her to the ground. She screamed, and in the heat of the moment, she pulled the dagger to her stomach and held it face up, hoping that if Draco reached for it he would just hurt himself in the process and would fail to retrieve it.

Draco fell onto her, and the sharp blade pierced through his skin, and slashed into his stomach. Blood pooled out onto his shirt, and onto Hermione. She felt the warm liquid spill over her bare stomach, not realizing what it actually was. He stopped breathing, the oxygen hitching in his throat. He looked at her with wide, shocked eyes as he lay perfectly still on top of her. His mouth was open slightly, and he managed to roll off of her and onto his back with a painful grunt. He clutched the bloody dagger on his stomach and felt the wound around it.

When Hermione saw it, she screamed.

"O-Oh... my God. I j-just... I just..." she stammered, wide eyed and shaking.

"I can't believe you kept your word, Granger," He said weakly. He put back his head to the ground, his eyes closed and his face etched in a sort of grimace.

And in a moment, he passed out.

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Fourth chapter! I hope you guys liked it! There really wasn't that much to edit but I added some small details!

Thank you A ROSESINNONCE so much for beta-ing this for me!

Please review and thanks so much!



Chapter 5: Discovered and Ready
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. I do own Troy Malfoy.

OK, so the only thing I'd like to put in here is the time frame thing. Uh, well this chapter, the last chapter, and I believe half of the next chapter is all on the same day. That may happen a few times. So don't say, 'hey, wasn't it day 3 last chapter?' No, I didn't screw up. But I just thought that the time frame would need addressing.

Enjoy!

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The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

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((--Chapter Five--))

Discovered and Ready


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Tuesday, October 20
Day 3


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Hermione stared at him, frozen in shock and fear as she looked down at Draco's limp, bloody figure. The wound itself was very deep, and went into his stomach muscles and she hoped only just that deep. Any major organs that the knife might've hit would mean definite death. It cut part of his shirt, and blood was already pouring out and staining all of the fabric of that and his thick winter cloak. A million things rushed through her head, but more than anything she felt responsible and guilty.

However, she knew how to try and save him.

She carefully pulled the dagger out of his stomach with great care, and she wiped it off. Thinking quickly, she took the dagger, cut the collar of his shirt and his sleeves, and ripped off the extra material so she wouldn't have to work on his stomach with a bloody shirt in her way. She put a hand to her mouth horrifically as she looked at the huge gory wound, but she forced herself to look, despite her sudden urge to vomit.

She jumped up, ran to the chest across the room and got two bottles of water that were in there, a blanket and her shirt. She put water on her shirt and wiped the blood away from the huge slash and cleaned the cut. She grimaced as the blood kept pouring out, but she put her shirt on the gash and pressed down firmly. It quickly soaked up the blood, but she knew it wouldn't last long.

She took a blanket and struggled to get it underneath Draco's body, and whence she did she tied it tightly over her shirt and pulled it tight. The blanket would hold down the pressure, keeping any extra blood from coming out. She unscrewed the other bottle of water, opened his mouth and tipped back the bottle; it flowed into his mouth, stopping future dehydration.

Strange... he looks so... innocent when he's passed out, she thought to herself, pausing in her work.

For the next ten minutes, she worked herself tired trying to move Draco onto the bed. Eventually, she got him up and onto it comfortably, and she was satisfied with herself. She would never be able to live it down if Draco died; therefore, she committed herself right then to do everything she could within her power to keep him alive. She had no idea why, but it was in her nature. If something was wounded, she had to fix it, heal it, give it kisses and make it better. She couldn’t ignore this wounded creature, despite her desire to kill him during his states of consciousness.

Nearly every five minutes, she checked his pulse, which stayed at a normal rate, and she saw a dim ray of hope. Maybe he wouldn't die. She would feel so guilty if he did. Sure, she hated him, but to kill him? No, she couldn't let that happen.

As the hour ticked by, and his pulse weakened, she began to fear for his life. It wasn't fair; she was just trying to protect herself. She didn't know why he would start to fade out, and she thought maybe that there wasn't anymore pressure. She carefully undid the blanket, and saw that some excess blood had leaked onto the cloth, but only a little. She lifted the completely bloody shirt and looked down at the wound. It had stopped bleeding, but it was gruesome and she feared that he would die.

A single tear slid down her cheek and dripped onto the gash. Slowly the wound shrunk. She didn't notice it at all; she had propped her head in her hands and started to cry.

Like phoenix tears, Hermione's had a healing power. For every tear that hit close to the wound, or onto it, it healed a little bit. It closed up the skin, stopped the bleeding and helped him to replenish the lost blood and energy. But she never noticed as she sobbed into her hands.

"How could I? I just killed him!" she sobbed; tears constantly flowing down her cheeks, dropping off onto his bare stomach.

After a minute, he came slowly out of his state of unconsciousness. He came back into a hazy reality, and the only thing he could distinguish was the sound of someone crying.

As he opened his eyes groggily, he made out the figure of someone hunched over, head in their hands, shaking and making that annoying sound. He blinked, and the night's events played through his mind. He knew he had been stabbed, but now...he was on a bed, waking up without any pain.

And Granger was crying?

"Granger...?" he muttered dimly. Hermione suddenly hiccupped and looked at him. Her eyes were red, her face flushed and shining with tears.

"M-Malfoy? You're alive!" she exclaimed as she hiccupped again. He struggled to sit up, but there was an excruciating pain in his stomach.

"Ah, shit," he groaned as he put hand to his stomach. He suddenly realized that he wasn't wearing a shirt anymore. "Err...where's my shirt?" he asked her, soundly slightly suspicious. She sniffed.

"I-I couldn't do anything to your stomach with a bloody shirt in the way," she said quietly, wiping her eyes. She determinedly avoided his gaze.

Draco stared at her. He couldn't believe that she had saved him. He looked at his stomach, and it was completely woundless, yet there was a long scar. He knew that would be a reminder to him to never mess with Granger again. He looked at her relieved, yet shaking figure, and she didn't have a shirt on. He smirked to himself as his eyes traced the full curves of her body without the slightest bit of shame.

"Where's your shirt?" he asked her, gaining his usual arrogant nature quickly. She sniffed and hugged her exposed torso shyly.

"I had to use it to stop the bleeding," she replied in a whisper, still not meeting his eyes. Now, her conscience was kicking her for even thinking about attempted healing the old-fashion way. He was being a prick about it and she should've let him die.

His mouth fell open partially. She had sacrificed her own shirt so he wouldn't die. And she saved him without a wand. He knew how, of course, but it was still startling to him.

"You healed me," he stated, looking at her, his demeanor shifting automatically. She looked up, confused, and he gestured to his stomach.

Her mouth opened, and she lightly ran a hand over the long scar. His skin tingled at her touch, his muscles contracted and she realized what she was doing and instantly withdrew her hand. She looked at him, her eyes begging him to tell her how. He sighed and pushed himself up into a sitting position, feeling annoyed but gritting his teeth anyways. It wasn’t like he didn’t know this moment wasn’t coming. After all, it had been instructed of him.

"You've got powers that wizards can only get by potions, and even then, they're only temporary. There's something about you that's different, and you're one of the only witches in history that had ever been blessed like this. That's why you're here, Granger. You're a Lumerous Witch."

She stared at him, her gazed transfixed in thought. He continued on with his well practiced speech.

"Basically, you're associated completely around the moon. Everything you do, feel and have ever known is because of it. The full moon on Halloween is when you hit full power. Yet, if the moonlight touches you before then, everything that we've done so far is useless. This is why you are in this room. No matter where the moon is in the sky at night, its light can never hit you."

"Are you serious?" she breathed. He nodded. "But what happens afterwards? Surely you aren't just going to let me go back to Hogwarts with a basket full of knowledge. I mean, I'll know too much by then!" Hermione said, waving her arms dramatically, almost to the point of hysterics. Draco nodded grimly.

"That's why we aren't letting you go back," he explained slowly. Hermione stared at him. She opened her mouth, but he cut her off.

"No need to worry about schooling, working, or anything. That's all taken care of," he said.

"But I want to go back to school!" she protested. He rolled his eyes. "I've still got friends back there. I've got the responsibility as Head Girl! And you have it as Head Boy! How is either of us going to manage?" she asked. Her voice caused her to sound desperate and scared, regardless of the fact that Draco was the last person she wished to see her in a vulnerable state.

"I'm perfectly content on not going back to school, and you should be too. Who would want to go back to Potty and Weasel?" he asked, wrinkling his nose. Hermione shot him a dirty look.

"Alright, you obviously. Well, stop hoping because you aren't going back. You aren't seeing them again— ever," he added, his words adorned by his malicious grin.

"B-But... but where am I staying then? You can't possibly make me life in this dreaded cave for the rest of my life!" she cried, her face twisting up.

She stood abruptly and got a blanket, wrapped one around herself and then thought for a moment before tossing one at Draco. She wanted a moment to think, a moment of peace where she could pretend this wasn’t happening. However, even the comforting warmth of the blanket couldn’t grant her that specific security.

"There's hardly any food! I haven't eaten since you kidnapped me!" she added as her stomach gave a large, low grumble.

She hadn't really noticed her hunger because she was used to not eating that much. She walked back over and kneeled on the ground in front of him, wrapped up in the blanket.

"Oh don't worry. We won't be staying here. You'll be living in my manor until the Dark Lord has had his say," Draco said, pulling the blanket around his shoulders. Her hands flew to her mouth, and she stared at him wide eyed.

"Li-Living with you?" she stammered. He nodded, smirking slightly.

He was actually looking forward to it a little bit. Before, he detested the mere idea, but as he looked at her differently, (his smirk widened) he knew he'd be having some fun.

"Some life I'll have," she muttered angrily. Draco laughed.

"Oh, you just wait, Granger. You just wait," he said slyly.

She looked at him suspiciously for a moment, and opened her mouth. She thought, and closed her mouth and continued thinking. If she was going to live with him, somehow, she'd be able to escape. She knew she could.

She looked at Draco, who was watching her carefully, but suddenly there was a loud scrape at the door as it opened. Troy pushed the door slightly closed and looked incredulously back at the both of them. Neither of them had a shirt on, but merely blankets around them and he eyed Hermione suggestively, and she blushed and looked at the floor. He frowned slightly but his lips curved into his attractive smirk as he looked at Draco.

"Have fun, Draco?" Troy asked as he threw Draco's wand across the room.

Draco caught it easily, and he immediately pushed back the blanket and drew up a shirt identical to his last and put it on. Hermione gave him a pleading look, and, rather grudgingly because he liked the idea of her not having a shirt on, he pointed his wand at her and she quickly pushed back the blanket while he muttered a spell and she had the same shirt on as before. She glanced at it, and smiled at him gratefully.

Troy watched them with an utterly perplexed expression. "What the hell?" Troy asked him as he watched Draco draw up a shirt for the woman. Draco walked over to him and thrust his wand at his cousin's throat.

"Thanks Troy, for locking me in here without a wand! I could've died if it wasn't for her. Some fucking cousin you are," he snarled viciously.

Troy looked at him befuddled but in a moment he was raging mad because Draco drew back a fist and punched him savagely in the face. Troy growled, tackled him and thrust a fist to his mouth, hitting him back.

Hermione watched them wrestle and throw punches continuously for over five minutes like immature little boys. She snuck a look at where their wands were, and she saw that both of them were thrown carelessly on the floor at they got into the vicious fight.

Slowly and carefully, she reached forward and grabbed one, moving cautiously against wall until she got to the door. Through the small crack she peered out into the hallway and saw that it was dimly lit. She pushed open the door slightly, making no noise loud enough for the two brawling boys to hear.

Clutching the wand tightly, she edged out into the hallway, and took a few quick steps to the right. Nothing happened, and she turned and took off down the hallway, unnoticed and alone.

She sped around a corner, repeating numerous spells and curses she'd be able to use if she encountered anyone in her mind. But after uncountable minutes of running down the hallways that got steadily darker, she slowed down to a walk, and looked around cautiously. There wasn't anything or anyone, but just numerous doors and continuous hallways.

Eventually, with no interruption, she became curious to what was behind each door. She pressed her ear to one, and heard nothing inside. She carefully reached for the doorknob and pulled it open and looked in.

"Lumos," she whispered. Instantly a bright light filled the room. There wasn't anything in it.

Just my luck, she thought dryly.

She continued on, trying to open doors and see what was inside. Some didn't open, some had noises inside (she didn't open those ones) and others were just broom closets. After a long time, she decided to open one last door before looking for a way out (not that she hadn't been already). She reached for the door, but pressed her ear against it, and hearing nothing, she pulled it open.

She gasped; it was a large, empty room. There was a large arched window and at the top of it she had a perfect view of the moon. The pale white moonbeams spilled onto the floor and stopped a few feet before her. She stared at them, entranced, fully tempted to see what would happen if she let them touch her bare skin. It was a mystery, but she had no idea of the consequences.

Cautiously, she stepped forward and stood on the brink of the pale rays, so tempted to step forth into them, yet so scared to ruin her chances at getting her full power. Sure, she had no idea whatsoever what her powers were, but she knew on full moon she'd find out somehow.

She stood for nearly five minutes, pondering whether she should step ahead or not, when she realized that the rays were moving forward slightly as time moved on. Instinctively, she took a huge step backwards to the doorway, far away from the rays, and someone grabbed around the middle from behind.

"Good girl, Granger," Draco whispered into her ear, his lips brushing her skin. She sucked in her breath and froze, the cavities of her brain suddenly filling with ice, her nerves shutting down.

"Give me the wand," he directed. She didn't know why, but she held it out obediently and he calmly took it out of her hand and stuck it in his back pocket, his fingers tracing her waist and falling to the small of her back.

"Let's go, we can't stay here," he said, sounding distracted, moving her around quickly. His arm fell from behind her, grabbing onto her wrist and he tugged it relentlessly.

He backed away, pulling her with him. She stumbled backwards, and he grabbed her to prevent her from falling as his hand slipped from her wrist. He stood her up properly and pushed her along the hallway quickly.

"Where are you taking me?" she asked him.

"I was going to take you back to the room, but after what just happened I think I've got some people to talk to..." he said, more to himself then to her.

She kept quiet and simply walked without struggle. She knew it was better not to fight him at the moment, for if she did, his quiet mood could be shattered and he might turned violent quickly.

He walked for at least ten minutes, and then the path started to slant downwards again. He stopped, and her heart raced as she wondered what they were pausing for. He took out his wand and muttered the spell and kicked open the door. Troy walked gloomily out, a large welt on his cheek and his eye black.

Hermione failed to suppress a snicker that rose instantly, and he shot her an unpleasant glare. "Well, let's go, we've got to get to the meeting," Draco said without hesitation, handing a wand to Troy. Troy glared at him.

"We're bringing her?" he asked, gesturing to Hermione.

Draco nodded, and he pushed her and the three of them walked down the hallway, Draco and Troy talking back and forth, occasionally insulting each other, making jokes, all of which Hermione found extremely crude and stupid. She wondered how Troy could forget his wounds so easily and act like best friends with Draco again.

After five or so minutes, they slowed to a stop in front of a door. Troy opened it, walked in, and Draco pushed Hermione in after Troy. She froze to the ground as she caught the sight in front of her.

Draco kept saying 'meeting'. Now, she knew what 'meeting' meant.

There was a long table with at least thirty people sitting at it that could easily seat plenty more, chatting to neighbors and as she slowly looked towards the head of the table in horror, she saw the Dark Lord himself talking quietly to Lucius Malfoy. The two of them looked up at the sudden entrance, and Hermione immediately looked towards the ground, feeling hatred burning on her neck.

After a moment, some of the talking ceased in the room, and Draco pressed down firmly on her shoulder.

"Get on your knee," he hissed at her.

Instantly she dipped down before Draco got on one knee behind her, his hand still on her shoulder, his fingers curling on her bone. Hermione started to tremble as she looked down at the feet of a new person. She didn't want to know who it was, but she already knew.

"Draco, why have you brought her?" Voldemort asked Draco as he looked down at Hermione with great distaste. Draco gripped her shoulder as she started to shake in fear.

"I brought her because I wanted to tell you, Master, that she is ready," he said obediently. Voldemort gave him a cruel smile.

"So soon? My, my Mudblood, you have surprised me. Look at me when I speak to you, Mudblood," he added viciously.

Shaking out of fear, she reluctantly looked up into the malicious red slit eyes of Lord Voldemort, and she whimpered and cowered against Draco. The Dark Lord sneered at her before turning and walking back to his seat. Draco stood and pulled her with him.

Voldemort held up his hand, and there was instant silence. "An announcement for you all!" he exclaimed, his voice ringing throughout the room. Everyone looked at him. He shot a brutal smirk to Hermione before looking at the members of the room.

"The never ending Harvest moon... has arrived."

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Alrighty now I'm done with that!

That little scene where Hermione miraculously saved Draco with like water and a blanket, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. I have absolutely no idea if that would really work or not, but I needed something to save him and it was working so far! :)

Erm, I've gotten a lot of people asking WHY oh WHY Hermione just handed over the wand to him without a second thought…. My only answer was that there were "other forces at work", so yeah, be all mystified but be happy I provided an answer.

So, thank you A ROSESINNOCENCE for being the wonderful beta and making this spectacularly awesome!

Please review!



Chapter 6: And You Thought You Knew
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, but I do own Troy Malfoy.

Also, more fluff and such about Polish, but to add my apologies (?) to those who are Egyptian and Greek. (No offense, but how could anyone take offense?)

Enjoy!

The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

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((--Chapter Six--))
And You Thought You Knew



Tuesday, October 20
Day 3


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"The never ending Harvest moon... has arrived."

Hermione looked up, completely startled by his words and oddly furious. How dare he! Her blood boiled for some unknown reason, and she suddenly remembered this was the Dark Lord she was dealing with, not Malfoy or Ron when they were being idiots.

She took a steady breath and looked down at the floor; suddenly she felt Draco grab her arm and pull her forward. He pushed her roughly and she fell into a straight-backed wooden chair. She sat rigidly and kept her eyes down, scared to look up yet so curious to look around the room at the Death Eaters.

When and if she got out of that mountainous place, then she could firstly name all of them and then turn them in by line up. But did Wizards have line up like Muggles did? She looked up and carefully avoiding eye contact, she listened to the Dark Lord speak.

"Many of you, I have yet to tell. Only those completely necessary were informed, and the rest of you I assumed would find out eventually.

"Since the beginning of time, and besides the Sorcerer's Stone, humans on this earth have searched for the drink of immortality. Well, during the twelfth century there was a ceremony performed with a witch who was born on a full moon. In fact, it was the first Harvest moon of that year.

"But something was different about the day she was born. All the planets and their moons were in conjunction, and even the sun and many of the asteroids in our galaxy was mysteriously pulled into a single perfect line. Not a single person, wizard, witch or Muggle, a mudblood, half-blood or pureblood has ever figured out why. But the ceremony revolving around this witch took place on Halloween where the planets were strangely aligned again. On that night, however, the elixir of life, the drink of immortality was produced.

"By taking careful risks and guesses, somehow that drink was fashioned. My goal for this war, wizards—" he paused and looked slyly at Bellatrix Lestrange who somehow had the courage to send him a disgruntled look; "—and witches, is to produce the second drink," he finished with a satisfied, superior tone and there was a mutter of quiet excitement around the room.

Hermione's mouth went dry and she clamped her eyes shut, keeping her head down. How much she longed to be back at Hogwarts. The last place a Muggle-born would wish to be is in the middle of a Death Eater meeting with the Dark Lord himself presenting her to the occupants of the room. She feared for her safety, but not for her life. Somehow, over the past few days, she gathered enough information to know that her life would not be in danger.

"I will not discuss the finer details of what exactly happened the first time, but I can assure you that in addition to my eternal reign, we will have a beneficial addition to my army to defeat Dumbledore and ridding the world of Mudbloods. Or that is, all of them except one," he added, his voice falling to a mysterious, dark whisper.

Hermione felt her stomach drop and she felt nauseous. She knew that, just to make her extremely uncomfortable and in a very unwanted situation the Dark Lord would point her out. Very reluctantly she opened her eyes and stared down at her knees, waiting for her fate to be verified.

"So raise your glasses in a toast for the one person, the one witch who makes this all possible for me. Hermione. Jane. Granger. A Mudblood," he spat.

She started to tremble and she kept her eyes on her knees, her head bent as low as it would go. There was an odd murmur of her full name through the room, and she felt herself flush with fear, but she determinedly kept looking down.

"Master, if you do not mind me asking again, and correct me if you do, but how is this possible? What is so special about her that we could not find in a pureblood child?" Lucius Malfoy asked, his voice disgusted. Hermione heard the distinct clink of glass on wood before he answered.

"That is an interesting story, now that you mention it, Lucius. Let us relive it... just for her," he said, mocking Hermione. She had great difficulty breathing. She knew she was in for the worst somehow.

"Eighteen years ago, on September 19, she was born to a pair of filthy Muggles. However that day during the birth, can any of you imagine what happened? The planets, the moons and the houses were aligned again. And it wouldn't be that way until this Halloween. Now, the Mudblood that grew up to be Granger here had extraordinary talent and knowledge, preferably just as much as my most loyal Death Eaters, if not more.

"It was a sad fact that I learned she was a Mudblood, and however desperately I searched for a pureblood of her nature, none were found. So, she would have to do. Now, another very fortunate trait that Granger has to offer is the fact that she is Polish. I know many of you ask why that makes her so special, but apparently those who do have no knowledge!" he said angrily, slamming his hands down loudly on the table and causing Hermione to jump in her seat.

She heard Draco snicker.

"The very first Polish people were very pure wizards and very advanced in magic before any other parts of the Wizarding World. They also had a great tie to the moon and much of time and space and knowledge, and one would almost say that they were Greek. In fact, most of the Polish were, in fact, Greek. But a very small percentage of the population of Wizarding Poland was also Egyptian to add to the Greek background. And who would have that little trait that is so important? Granger!" he snarled.

Instantly, Hermione looked up and straight ahead, obediently raising her head from her name. Perhaps it was because of the Professors doing so over the many years that she obeyed, she didn't know. She looked blankly ahead, seeing nothing yet taking in everything. She could see the many stares on her, the malevolent sneer that Lucius Malfoy had, and strangely the glare from Voldemort.

She could not understand why her roots would make him so angry, but then she didn't want to know why. What she did want to know is how the hell he knew she was Egyptian and Greek, when even she didn't know about it. She shuddered; how much did the Dark Lord know about her that she did not? And why on earth was this line of heritage so important?

From the corner of her eye she saw his figure angrily make his way around the table to her.

"You did not know of this, did you?" he snarled viciously next to her, slamming his hands down on the table. She jumped and looked down at her knees and shook her head frightfully, her body shaking.

"Filthy creature," he hissed.

He turned and walked back to her seat, but stopped abruptly. Her shaking from fear suddenly turned to rage and she breathed unevenly in irregular breaths. He suddenly smirked darkly as if he knew what was coming.

"Anything you'd like to add, Mudblood?" he growled.

Hermione did not know why she was so brave, but her streak of stubbornness always carried something bold (and sometimes, foolish). She found herself angry, all of a sudden, as if his insult was something she could retort without the fear of being tortured or killed. She felt as if… as if there was nothing stopping her. There was a splintery feeling coursing through her arms, carrying the uncontrolled anger that she hoped would leave hurriedly. She could not be held responsible for her actions when she had no control over herself.

"How could I know?" she asked him in a strange whisper, her face suddenly twisted and her arms burning with a sharp, stabbing throbbing of white-hot heat.

He accused her of being stupid, of being filthy and unknowing when she herself knew nothing of her immense and important background when he did and those around her did. Who was there to inform her of such matters when her parents probably didn't even know? She was not to blame for her ignorance in the matter, but if he was going to be furious at her about it she would stand up for herself.

Even if he was Lord Voldemort.

"What?" he asked her softly, dangerously. He turned and took a step towards her chair where all could see her quivering figure and her hair crackling with fierce electricity of some sort.

"How could I know?" she repeated in a shaking voice that rang throughout the room.

There was a tentative silence in the room instantly, as if all of the Death Eaters were waiting for her to be killed, waiting for the Dark Lord to laugh cruelly and state that another filthy creature was disposed of. But nothing of the sort came. He simply stood, looking somehow defeated and oddly furious.

"You should know from all of those signs and dreams I helped to show you, Granger," he growled finally.

Hermione suddenly paled and looked down back at her knees. She started to tremble, and Voldemort's lip curled in disgust as he looked at her.

And slowly, ever so slowly, the stabbing left her arms, giving her a sort of hollow feeling that brought misery with it. Her arms were aching and she felt tears prickle her eyes for a moment before all of it went away.

He turned and walked back to his head seat and glared at the occupants of the room, and then lastly at Hermione. "You are extremely lucky you are needed, Granger, or else you'd be dead," he spat, clenching a fist and glowering at her. He murmured something to Lucius, who nodded.

"Draco! Troy! Get her out of my sight now!" Lucius commanded.

Without delay, Draco grabbed Hermione's upper arm and nearly ran out of the room, dragging her, Troy following. They slammed the door shut and in a forced silence escorted her swiftly back to her room. Troy pulled open the door, and Draco threw her in. She collapsed on the floor where she lay perfectly still.

"I'll be back for you later, Granger," she heard Draco say to her before pulling the door shut loudly.

She started to sob and weakly made her way to the mattress to pull herself onto it. She grabbed the extra pillow and hugged it to her.

How she hated being Hermione Granger at that moment.

-x-x-x-


A while later, when Draco had come back and brought her food, she ate it ravenously since the lack of nutrition for a few days, and she sat against the wall underneath the window and looked at him watching her closely with an uncaring and sad expression.

He looked her over and studied her; the long thin cut across her cheek, the bruises on both her legs and arms, and the distinct apathetic face that sent shivers up his spine. Her cheekbones, high and red; the large dark bruise underneath her eye that made her sharp eyes stand out more.

She sat, hugging her legs to herself like that was all she had in the world, yet she was careless and relaxed. She stared back at him with a cold, piercing look that made him question his task, and yet even as he became awkward under her ice cold stare he forcefully looked back.

Unblinking, unseeing, unknowing.

Who did he think he was, trying to stare her down with his trademark Malfoy look? He couldn't do that anymore, he had long since grown out of it. But Hermione however had gotten truly cold beneath her fierce exterior; she knew the fires of Hell and the inferno, she truly knew what it was like to redeem something, and she truly knew that he was nothing and could never be anything and never was. And he was biding his time, acting superior and important while hiding in Daddy's shadow. He would never be his father no matter how much he tried.

Hermione knew that Draco was not evil like Lucius, but just simply malicious and cruel. Lucius Malfoy was evil, sadistic and ruthless to every extent. He was a manipulator, a killer and a cold heartless bastard that she could never understand. But she knew that he was like the Tom Riddle that once lived. But was he still completely dead? Wasn't he the Dark Lord now? Wasn't he the one with the amazing powers, killing her softly in her sleep since Merlin knows when?

Voldemort was every young girl's nightmare and every boy's worst fear.

For her, the Dark Lord scared her incredibly, filling her nerves and head with an irremovable shock that made her body freeze up like the pits of Hell. He was the one serving in the eternal torture and flames; he knew the secrets of fear and pain. He knew just what scared Hermione. But it was different for a male.

Yes, for Harry, Voldemort was an opponent now, nothing but the opposite king on the chess board that would simply be knocked down in time. Yet, he was a threat the made Harry worry; he was sneaky and vicious and had made the wonder boy cry out in mental pain when Sirius was killed by his followers. He had made Harry feel insecure, but never truly scared to the point of death.

In a wisp of smoke, he could be gone, and most times he was. But his presence still lurked in the dark shadows of the night, grabbing hold of innocent bystanders, sometimes a witch walking home after a nightshift at work, an innocent little wizard boy playing late night Quidditch. He would stop at nothing to change the shape of fear, and Harry knew it. And when Harry was scared, she was terrified.

And what do the words really mean when you cannot comprehend the slightest bit of language, when fear reaches from the deepest places and snatches your senses away? Who is there to protect you at night from the Bogeyman, or what has become more commonly known as Voldemort? Who is this savior we've all been looking for?

Besides Harry, they were doomed until the apocalypse came. Maybe then her soul would be forever happy, because it sure as hell wasn't now.

"Why were you put in Gryffindor?" Draco asked her quietly, though his voice rang through the room and she heard him clearly. She broke the iced eye contact and looked at the floor, her hair gently falling from her shoulders and curtaining her face.

"Because I know where I stand, Malfoy," she answered him coldly. He looked at her oddly, not understanding and yet knowing what she meant.

"I meant why not Ravenclaw? You certainly aren't brave," he sneered.

She continued to look at the ground, and his anger grew because hers was not. He studied her carefully, wishing he could tell what she was thinking but all he could see was her long slender, gleaming, divine white legs bent to hide the rest of herself.

Damn heaven and all it had.

"Well I can say the same for you," she answered him back smoothly, looking up and giving him a crude look that made him furious. She gave him an eerie smile before turning her head and hiding her face with her long locks.

"If you really think that bothers me, then bully for you. A Slytherin doesn't need to be brave," he answered her after a moment. She laughed dryly, her voice ringing, though it was seemingly malicious.

She looked up at him, an odd look on her face and her lips curved into a thin, upturned smirk as she held her head to one side, exposing her neck and some of her shoulder. Her body might have been pale but it was radiant, and he could not help but stare at the naked skin.

"Neither does a Gryffindor. I am not a brave person, Malfoy. But I'm loyal to what a true friend is, not that you would know what a friendship was ever like," she mocked. "But I know what needs to be done, and so Merlin help me, I do all the dog work and I am never repaid. But I never care because it's purely for friendship. And you, sitting there like you're so evil and better then everyone else and you're not," she said, sounding disgusted.

Draco narrowed his eyes, watching her move into a better position and staring him down again. He felt anger thrash angrily inside of him and move around, waiting to burst out and accuse her and throw her down, but he remained silent. Maybe the Mudblood had something to say after all. He cocked an eyebrow in interest and listened to the rest of her angry rant.

She was some witch after all.

"All a Slytherin has to be is a follower. All of you stupid Dark wizards who think you control the bloody world or whatever has never had any original ideas or thoughts in your head. Not even Voldemort. His most loyal Death Eaters though, Bellatrix Lestrange and your father all follow him. And who does Voldemort follow? The first Greatest Dark wizard ever. And it keeps going on. You follow your father somehow, though I don't see why anyone would want to follow that sadistic bastard, and he follows Voldemort and everyone follows everyone else when it comes to the Dark World.

"But Malfoy, you never stopped to think that I was the one ahead in life, did you? I know where I'm going and I know what side I'm on. I follow not one piece of advice and I do what I think is best. I am my own leader, and I stand up for what I believe in. I truly am a part of this Wizarding World. And I'm better than you, Malfoy. I'm so much better than all of you stupid purebloods that dirty the name of magic."

"Well Granger, don't sit there like you're all independent and whatnot. It may be true that all Dark wizards follow one another, but you'll be no exception," he drawled, nearly cutting her off from her sophisticated-sounding speech. Hermione looked strangely at him.

"No exception?" she repeated, sounding utterly confused. He smirked; she had gone to from High-and-Mighty to Miss Vulnerability; she had no idea what he was talking about.

"Didn't you hear him?" Draco asked her with a hint of excitement. "The Dark Lord said that in addition to his eternal reign he was getting a 'beneficial addition to his army to defeat Dumbledore and ridding the world of Mudbloods'. Who do you think he meant, Granger?" Draco asked her cruelly, smirking triumphantly.

Hermione looked at him, uncertain, not knowing whether to be scared or worried. He watched her, actually amused. How she sat there, her face lost in thought as she ran her hand through her hair. Draco suddenly wanted to jump on top of her and kiss her as a wave of desire washed over him.

So innocent she was, yet so determined to fight when she was just killing herself faster. She never knew what was to become of her; she would never know what exactly would be taking over her. She would never know, and no one would ever explain it to her.

Oh, what a tragedy it was for her to not know the pure life Draco led. It was cruel how he got what he wanted, and she was in a pit of despair. Granger was so naïve; he couldn't believe she didn't know. He smirked. It would be a task to teach her, to command her. And he couldn't wait.

"You're a liar," she said after a tense moment. Draco looked at her and laughed. He laughed like he never had, so cruel, cold and vicious. She looked at him in disgust. He was less then she thought.

"What did you think was happening after we left this place? I said you were never seeing Potter or any of your friends or family again, and staying in my manor for the rest of your life. What do you think you'd do, control the House Elves or be a maid?" he asked with another brutal laugh. "You're joining the Dark Lord's side whether you want to or not, Granger," he said, the mean smile still on his face from the laughter.

"I won't do it," she said, her voice shaking. "You can't make me do anything. I refuse to take any part in Voldemort's plans!" she hissed. Draco gave her a very dark smile.

"You don't have a choice," he hissed in an ominous way. Hermione glared at him.

"I've got plenty choice! I won't do it and no one can make me!" she said.

Draco shook his head and let out a short laugh. She was so stupid. She had no idea, none at all. He would love having the pleasure of tormenting her with that single piece of information.

"Oh Granger, who do you think your kidding?" he taunted. She looked at him, feeling small and out of place. "Your fate is being a main key to the Dark Lord; your destiny is fighting at his side, not against him. Your future is with those you see around you, not those from the past. Face it, Granger, you're going to have a whole new life and you can't stop it from coming," he said. She pursed her lips, her eyes shining with tears though none stained her face.

"I hate you," she said in a quivering whisper. He smiled grimly.

"The feeing is mutual, Granger," he said.

He stood from the table and walked to the door, pulled out his wand and did the funny spell Hermione still did not know and opened the door and walked out, pulling it shut without another word.

She stared at the door as if it were still him, still that vindictive vile person named Draco Malfoy, still that cold, arrogant boy who was trying his hardest to be his father. She stared at the tainted wood as if it was him, and she was killing him.

Killing the person that had sealed the true fate inside her mind.

She knew that Draco was right. She had no choice about her future, she had no say. She would most likely be living with the Malfoys for the rest of her life, never to see Harry or Ron or her parents ever, ever again.

How she hated it.

-
-x-x-x-
-


Author's Notes: I really like this chapter a lot. It has one of the first conversations that I really enjoyed writing between Hermione and Draco. I won't tell you why, but you might be able to figure it out on your own!

An important note: My beta pointed out to me that the whole 'Polish-Greek-Egyptian' thing was very random and very pointless. It does have an important meaning, but it will be explained a lot later on, as well as some other questions. You might be wondering why they're so important, but like I said, it's all explained later. This is a point in the story where Hermione is very confused at all this information she's given, and if the narrative part of the story is from her perspective, the readers won't know until Hermione does!

Thank you A ROSESINNOCENCE for beta-ing this for me! You did a marvelous job!

Please review!



Chapter 7: Everyone is Bleeding
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. I do own Troy Malfoy. (Wow, big gain!)

No notes this time!

Enjoy!

The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

-
((--Chapter Seven--))
Everyone is Bleeding


-

Wednesday, October 21
Day 4


For a day that felt like an eternity, she stayed basically in the same spot, sleeping, and questioning the reason why she was there, why she was even alive.

Any time she was awake she would sit beneath the window, singing and humming the old songs she could remember, but she couldn’t remember half of the words, making her sound like a nervous performer standing aside from the rest.

She had no contact with anyone else for that long day, saw nothing of Draco or Troy, and somehow longed for the quiet tones of another. One day of the usual and welcome solitary confinement was suddenly making her yearn for any other person in the world, for a companion. She hardly cared who it was; she just wanted to talk to someone. She wasn't used to this hollow feeling where anything she said would stay unheard, never reaching the ears of another. Everything she had said in her life had been contemplated, or at least listened to somewhat and now… one day of this loneliness overriding her confusion and she was desperate.

She didn’t know what was wrong with her, but the outside forces were pouring into her soul; she could do nothing to stop it since she barely even knew what was happening.

She wrapped herself up in ideas that would guarantee her escape, ideas that she would tell in passionate anecdotes, and the love that she would receive after escape of this hellhole would be immeasurable. Ron would be with her again, and no one would ever neglect her mind or take advantage of it ever again. People would admire her, and she would turn in the Death Eaters. She would be noticed and wanted, not like she was now: alone, abandoned.

Why weren't her friends looking for her? Why wasn't anyone trying to save her?

Where were they?

-x-x-x-


Hogwarts was chaotic, filled to the brim of hectic people pining for Hermione. They didn't know where she was, and the Order of the Phoenix was in a frenzy trying to locate her.

Harry understood why they were going frantic; Hermione was a magnificent witch and a really excellent friend, and it would be unimaginable to loose her. But while the Order went to all means to find her, even taking Dumbledore along on their escapades, Harry and Ron were forced to stay at school and go through classes. Not that they even bothered to pay attention without the reprimanding voice of Hermione Granger. Harry was always asking himself where she could be, and Ron.... well, he was a different story.

Ron blamed himself with such a passion and such persistence that it was alarming. He was the one who left her alone that dark, cold night out by herself, just waiting to be snatched away. He told himself that it was his fault; if anything should happen to her, the consequences would be his responsibility. It was because of his blunder that Hermione was gone. If it wasn't for him, she'd be here, sitting on the edge of her seat, waving her hand around energetically to answer the question Snape was asking them about some potion or another. But no; the seat to the right of Ron was completely empty. It had been for four days.

"Weasley!" Snape spat. Ron looked up and gave him a sullen look, plainly spelling out that he could care less. "Ten points from Gryffindor for failure to pay attention, and, as we all know, your grades leave no room for error, Mr. Weasley," he snarled. Ron looked at him square in the eyes, a purely deadened look in his eyes that simply told Snape to bugger off.

"Whatever," Ron mumbled as he lowered his eyes and looked at the table. Snape glared at him.

"Would you like to make it twenty? Your sob-stories are of no use in the class, so pay attention!" he said viciously. Ron looked up at him, a snarl twisted on his face.

"Well what do you suggest I do, professor? I can't help it if I worry about my... my... if I worry about her!" Ron shouted angrily at him.

He stood up, snatched his bag and stalked out of the classroom, despite Snape yelling at him to get back in and sit down. The door slammed shut with a loud bang, and Harry watched Ron's figure disappear behind the door.

He sighed; he wished he could do that at the moment and go to the common room like he knew Ron would. He lowered his eyes from the door, and it landed on the second empty seat in the classroom. Who usually sat there?

Then it dawned on him: Malfoy.

Draco Malfoy had disappeared the same night as Hermione. There was no sight of him, though rumor had it his father removed him claiming the school was 'unsafe' and 'liable to be attacked at any given moment.'

But Harry knew better than that; he could bet the Malfoy family had something to do with Hermione’s disappearance. The Malfoys were a bunch of notorious Death Eaters who put forth such a frightening enthusiasm for Lord Voldemort. No doubt Hermione's kidnap was on Voldemort's orders.

Nearly everything Lucius said was a lie, and this was no exception. Besides, Malfoy was part of a small group of people that weren't inside the school the night she was kidnapped, so it could've been him.

No, Harry thought to himself. He might've hated Malfoy, but he couldn't just choose a scapegoat. The real kidnapper was out there, and Harry was burning to find them and screw up their lives just as much as they had screwed up his.

"I can't believe you walked out of Potions. Smart move if you ask me," Harry said at dinner to Ron, who was eating gloomily. Ron shrugged.

"It doesn't matter to me anymore. Snape is just another git of those dodgy Slytherins. I just can't stop thinking about her; she's all that matters," he said bitterly. Harry nodded.

"I just wish there was a way to find out if she was alright. If she's dead, which somehow I doubt... I dunno I just figure she isn't, know what I mean?" Harry asked him. Ron nodded sadly and shifted the food around on his plate. "I just hope she's alright, wherever she is..." he said, trailing off.

Harry's thoughts kept going back to Malfoy. He just couldn't get the idea of Malfoy kidnapping Hermione out of his head. But he swore, whether or not it was Malfoy who kidnapped her, Harry would get revenge. He wasn't about to lose his friend, his unsaid sister. He would do something to get her back, anything to see her face again. He didn't care if it cost him his life, she seemed more important than anything. If only he could contact her somehow.

If only.

-x-x-x-


It was dark now, and she could hear the murmurs of the nighttime around her, even though she was inside.

Inside: not the first word that came to mind, but there was no other alternative, really. The black swirling darkness just outside her poorly cut window, closing her inside the prison she was in; she could almost reach out and grab it, the inky blackness feeling like smoke and slipping through her fingers like sand. She wanted to grab hold of the night, holding so many stars and the twinkling infinity of space; to swim in the milky galaxy spilled across the deep black sky.

And why couldn't she? Why couldn't she fly into the shadowy hours of darkness and never been seen by the likes of Voldemort again?

Why not? It was perfectly harmless, after all.

She sighed; this place she was currently residing in was killing her slowly. She couldn't stand it, not being awake in the day and not being able to see the moon at night. And she didn't have a single person to talk to. She didn't care if it was Draco or Troy, but she wouldn't mind accusing either one of them of something just so she could talk to someone, to vent her ever-burning frustration.

After nearly four hours sitting underneath the window and watching the sky and the shadow of the moon pass completely across the sky the light tint of morning started to creep onto the horizon, though she knew the sun was far from rising. She watched it momentarily, her eyes heavy with sleep, and the tempted slumber was closer than usual. She made her way across the room, collapsed down on the bed and almost instantly fell asleep, her hair spilling over her shoulders and face like a blanket.

She slept all day, the light filling the room and seeming to leave as soon as it came.

At dusk, almost chronologically, she woke up, her eyes opening groggily and looking around. She yawned, closed her eyes and curled her legs against her body. She embedded herself deep inside the blanket, keeping warm, just relaxing in her drunkenness. She wouldn't allow herself to sleep again; she needed to be awake for the night.

But mostly, she needed to be awake for anything that would happen. All the activity was at night. However, despite her determination to keep awake, she fell back into a light doze, the leftover sand from sleep wearing her.

Come to me.... you've no choice now.... you're under my control....

She jerked away, not moving but looking suspiciously around the darkened room. Was that whispering, or her imagination? She brushed it aside and closed her eyes, drifting off into a deep, haunted slumber.

-x-x-x-


She touched the petal, soft and smooth as silk would ever be. She rubbed it between her fingers, feeling the soft material of the plant slip like cream over her skin. She giggled and stood up, picking up the rose entirely and skipping off with it, plucking petals and singing childish songs. She bounded up the gravel path, the warm summertime sun shining down and blossoming over her hair. She stopped and sat down on the rock, humming to herself. After a moment, she looked over the light, flower infested meadow and at her house.

How she loved her abode: so silent at night, so familiar in the daytime.

She smiled and stood up and ran around the path, her bare feet leaving everlasting imprints in the dirt which rose up in a thin cloud as her heels hit the earth. She jumped over the grass; it tickled her feet and sent the occasional flower head flying off into the meadow. She never meant to hurt the flowers; after all, they had feelings too.

As she reached her home, she could smell cherries, the sweet smell of dessert after lunch. She slowed down and walked up the path, the pavement cooling her feet as she stepped on the shadow. She pushed open the door and looked inside. The cherry couch and the crystal clear table that had scarlet candles with a lavender aroma welcomed her. She grinned.

She heard her parents talking in low voices in the next room, and then the unfamiliar deep tone of someone else, possibly two. Who was that?

Curious, she inched through the opening room and jumped silently into the side hallway where it led to the kitchen. She peered around the corner, her bushy hair standing out and quickly catching the attention of her mother. She scurried over to Hermione, grabbed her shoulders and ushered her to the other end of the hallway. Hermione glanced at the stairs that led up to her room and to her parents. Would she be in trouble and sent up there?

"Hermione, go back outside," her mother urged in a whisper.

"Who's that man, mummy? What does he want?" she asked, her manner innocent and blissfully unaware of the danger. Her mother's eyes were wide and she was quickly glancing over her shoulder in panic, looked frightfully back at Hermione.

"It's no one, some of your father's friends. Just go out! And go play somewhere in the far garden. Go—go get me a bouquet of wildflowers from the paddock in the woods, okay?" she urged. Hermione smiled, oblivious of the fear and terror in her mother's voice.

She nodded, turned and went back outside, the presence of the strange person leaving her mind quickly. She had to get flowers for her mother, and that was more important than that silly outsider. She didn't know him; therefore, she didn't care about him any longer.

She pulled the door and running freely, she leaped down the path and across the field, the wilderness grabbing at her feet and brushing against her skin. How she loved summertime, how she loved the warm rays of the sun melting and pouring over everything.

Across the meadow and up the second path, she slowed to a pace that was barely a walk as she looked at the edge of the forest. She cast a glance in, unsure if she should proceed. Normally, she wasn't allowed. But her mother had told her to, so that was permission enough.

She looked over her shoulder quickly, giggled and started quickly down the path that led into the jungle-like forest, full of trees and shady spots wonderful for reading a book. She thought that it was better to be out in the meadow and by the woods at night, near twilight where everything was tinged in darkness, but not too scary. But she guessed the daytime was nice too.

She pushed the gate open and found a comfy spot on the middle of the paddock. She sat down, the short grass brushing her legs. The paddock wasn't shaded and mysterious like the rest of the woods, but more open and lighted. She liked it there. She chose the best flowers, making sure their color was right, they had enough petals and that they smelled good. A bouquet wasn't good if it smelled funny.

After she had a handful of wildflowers and one stuck behind her ear, she departed from the small enclosure and walked slowly down the path, looking down and examining her precious plants that she was sure her mummy would love. She picked a petal off.

"He loves me," she sang, giggling as she continued the well known words and pulling off petals slowly; "He loves me not..."

She looked up abruptly, the sound of loud and angry voices reaching her ears. She was nearly at the edge of the forest, still hidden by the shadows yet she was still able to see everything around her. She looked at her house as the front door slammed noisily, and she spotted two people coming out.

Some tall man with blonde hair; in fact, too blonde. She had seen some of the ladies wearing small bathing suits at the beach with hair like that, though their roots were very brown, sometimes black. The man's hair looked like it was naturally like that. Another man was behind him with dark hair, a long cloak on just as the first had.

Hermione narrowed her eyes. Who were they? Her first instinct was to run to her mother, but her mother was currently still in the house, and to get to her Hermione would have to go past these strange men. So, her second choice was to hide if they came near. She watched them, carefully moving behind a tree to hide herself, not wanting to attract attention. They stopped at the end of the walkway out of her front door, looking around and talking to each other. One of them, the one with the dark hair, pointed towards the forest where Hermione was. The blonde man nodded, agreeing.

Hermione suddenly felt like she was playing a game, some game she had never played before, yet this was different from hide-and-seek. She really did need to hide; she really did need to remain undiscovered.

She turned and fled down the path, past the ring she was in earlier and deeper into the woods. The path eventually stopped from the overgrown brush, and she hastily pushed it aside, jumping through the bushes, trying desperately to get to the small cave in the heart of the forest. Something caught hold of her dress and ripped it; she tripped and fell to the ground, scraping her knee. She whined for a moment, wishing her mother could be there to help, but she wasn't. She pushed herself up and ran.

The hill slumped downwards and she zigzagged across the underbrush to the clump of trees that held the cave underneath. She jumped down, slamming into the trunk and stopping momentarily from the dizziness, she squeezed through and jumped down. The roots gave way to a small hole, one she could only just fit. The hole let through to a wide cave underneath; the trees that were held up by rocks and the tangled tree roots.

She squeezed past the woods and down into the damp cave. But she didn't worry about nature, insects or spiders. This was her fort. She hid there, hoping she could not be found. She caught her breath and waited.

Soon enough she heard them, coming ever closer and pushing through the overgrown woods and vines.

"In there?" one of them asked in a cold voice. Hermione suddenly felt sick. Would they find her?

"No, too small a place to hide, even for her. The other side of these woods is a meadow. Probably skipping through that. Just wait, Mudblood, just wait," the other one replied. The first laughed.

Hermione frowned at these words, unsure of their meaning, and confused at the intent. Was harm meant to come to her? If not, who else could they be looking for? How did she even know they were looking for her?

She heard them walk away quickly, as if looking at her retreating figure into the meadow and chasing after her. How foolish they were. She carefully stood up, making her way to the opening and she squeezed out. She walked over the leaves and then pushed past the tree trunk. She cautiously stepped out, looking into the leafy landscape for any sign of trickery and their hiding figures.

But none could be seen.

She could swear she could hear them still walking away, though she doubted it. She turned around, ready to run to her mother when she stopped dead in her tracks, terrified.

The two men had not left after all.

They looked down on her small, cowering figure, a triumphant sneer on the face of the dark haired man, a malevolent and truly evil look for the other. She trembled, and as her eyes left their faces she saw they were pointing sticks at her.

Sticks? Why sticks? With a sudden rush of foolishness, she was tempted to bend down and pick up a twig and attempt to have a swordfight with them, but those were her cheerful memories, not her scared ones.

In a single second she decided she would run. After all, Hermione Jane Granger was the fastest runner in the world, no doubt. No one had ever caught her before... well her mother had before bedtime once... and that time for her bath the other night... but still!

She turned to dart away, but no sooner had her foot lifted from the ground she felt the painfully strong grip on her arm, and her body lifted off of the ground. She screamed, struggling to get away and kicking the air as if she were having a tantrum about cookies before dinner, instead of trying to get away from a potentially deadly stranger. She heard a shout, but did not understand it.

Suddenly pain bloomed from one shoulder, across her chest and to the next, it winding around her back, scarring and wounding her. She wailed in pain and was dropped to the ground, the warm crimson liquid staining her white dress steadily. She cried and struggled to get up, but she just felt more anguish than before.

Come to me... you've no choice now... you're under my control....

The voice rang through her head, and she screamed louder and pushed herself up, failed and fell over. She screamed again, scrambling away from them who were drawing ever nearer.

You're marked eternally.... you're mine now.... don't try to get away.... you can't escape....

"Stop it!" she shrieked, grabbing piece of loose earth from the ground and throwing it at them in attempt to defend herself.

"Stop it! Leave me alone! NO!" she screeched as the dark haired man bent down and grabbed her arm again, pulling her off the ground. Gravity pulled on her, putting all of her weight on her painful wounds. She cried and kicked, flailing her legs at the silent world around her.

"Crucio!"

A jet of sharpness hit her in the square of her back, causing pain to erupt all over her body, piercing her skin like hot knives. She let out a pained wail, her tears ceasing from pure shock. She withered in pain, feeling like she had stepped into a molten fire and slept in it.

It all stopped after a moment, she dropped to the ground, and the man let go of her. She sobbed, shoving her face into her hands and cradling her wounds. Someone called her name, to which she didn't respond. The call was louder, and though it wasn't something she was familiar with, she recognized it—

-x-x-x-


"GRANGER
!"

She felt like she had been slapped across the face. The present day Hermione screamed and sat up, painfully colliding with someone else. She looked at him, recognizing him for someone else instantly.

"Get away from me!" she screamed at him in terror.

Draco jumped back away from her, blood on his hands. She looked at him, blinked in comprehension and started to cry immediately. She felt warm liquid on her body, and she looked down to see her shirt stained in blood. She touched it, vaguely realizing what it actually was, until the disbelief overwhelmed her. She reached behind her, and her hand was crimson when she withdrew it. Tears continued to drip down her face.

Something terrible had happened.

"Why... why are you covered in blood?" Draco asked her, completely bewildered.

She looked at him, white from shock. She buried her face in her hands and stated to shake with silent sobs of confusion. He was silent, until he decided to do something about her present situation.

"Uh," he tried, though it was more of a low drone. He shut his mouth, swallowed and tried again, though nothing came out.

He reached forward and grabbed her shoulders to shake her; her head rattled like a dead flower on a stem, and she whimpered, falling out of his grasp back to her silently shaking position.

"What is wrong with you?" he asked in disgust. Hermione clamped her eyes shut and shook her head, lips trembling and trying to suppress the sobs that were threatening to come forth. He took a step backwards, looking at her with resent or curiosity; he didn’t know. He tried to help, but she remained silent. What else could he do?

He turned to leave, but unexpectedly she spoke.

"If you promised you wouldn't hurt me again, would you help me?" she asked. Her voice was thick with tears and a forced calm. He turned and studied her, clutching the pillow to her chest and unwelcome tears flowing down her cheeks.

"With what?" he inquired, more harshly than he had intended to.

She struggled to speak, and when she reached a hand and wiped her hair from her damp cheeks, a smear of blood marked its place on her face.

"All of this. No one... no one has told me anything," she started, straining to speak. "I don't understand what's happening to me... and you— you're the only one... that's here," she whispered, tears still pouring down her cheeks. "You know if I had my choice it wouldn't be you, Malfoy, but there isn't anyone else I know that I can trust. You've been a bastard to me my whole life, but you never once lied."

He lowered his eyes, thinking. This girl had made his life hell since second year, just as he had made hers. What had she ever done for him? Nothing. He was a pureblood, a Slytherin, the evil one, and she would not consent to a moment's empathy on him, because it would go to waste. Surely, he thought the same about her? She was a stupid little Mudblood; had she given in to the only one that had paid attention to her, she wouldn’t be in this mess anyways!

"No," he said after a minute. He raised his eyes and stared at her, his eyes hard. She was not getting away with anything.

She stopped her soft noises for a moment, closed her eyes and shoved her face into the tear stained pillow. He got up, making sure he left the book on the table and grabbed his wand. She said something too softly, and he didn't hear her or bother to ask what she said. She was too low in the chain for him to give her a moment's curiosity. He murmured the spell, pulled open the door and left.

"But I need someone," she whispered.

She felt like she was dying. Slowly bleeding, tears of warm salt rolled down her cheeks out of fright, as she was being denied the comfort of knowing what was going on. But she was still among the living; her mind was going slowly and she knew what was happening, somehow. She knew Draco had left, hadn't heard her and hadn't cared. She knew she'd be alone in this damnable place, stuck there without a friend. She knew it all, and she didn't like any of it.

She sat up, wiping her cheeks. She glanced down at her shirt, the blood drying quicker then she thought. She watched it, mildly interested and she watched in both awe and confusion as the blood started to fade before it entirely disappeared.

Why and how did it do that?

She looked down at the now perfectly white material a moment longer after the crimson had left, totally lost in thought. She had read something about that happening, though it was mentioned only to happen when a dark spell was used.

But Malfoy wouldn't do that to her, would he?

Thinking for a moment, she carefully undid a few of the buttons on her shirts and pulled down so she could only see her shoulders and neckline. Her eyes flew open in amazement; this couldn't be happening, it just couldn't. She watched in astonishment as blood embedded onto her skin slowly slipped back into the wound, as if the cut was sucking it back in to nourish her body instead of letting it go to waste.

The cut? A different story.

She touched it lightly, examining and wondering how it got there, just as the blood had. It went from the ball of her shoulder, across her neck and collar bone to her other shoulder, and it seemed as if it crossed her back too. She shivered to herself; how could this possibly happen?

-
-x-x-x-
-


Okay, so that's done! All nice and neat!

Thanks to A ROSES INNOCENCE that this chapter is so flawless!

Other than that, review please!


Chapter 8: The Notebook
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. If I did, I wouldn't be writing here. I'd be writing a book, and my child who can read would have no idea who the hell Harry Potter is. (I swear, that's what J.K. Rowling said!)

But I do own Troy Malfoy and Alexandre Lumerus.

Half of the stuff in this chap, like a reference to the thirteenth house, that's my info. But stuff about Greek Gods, planets, and all astrology references are totally true, okay? And any mention of the word 'drink', don't be confused. The 'drink' is the Drink of Immortality, so no worries.

Enjoy!

The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

-
((--Chapter Eight--))
The Notebook

-


Thursday, October 22
Day 5


She paced around the room, taking no notice to the quickly approaching dawn. Dim, gray light poured into the room, casting flickering shadows that faded away into the earthy walls. But she didn't care; she was too busy thinking.

She needed an explanation for the wound, now a pulsing dim white color and no longer red from the blood. The top three buttons of her shirt were undone because she kept constantly glancing at the long cut and its unnatural properties.

Why was it white?

It was all too confusing, but she was dizzy and could barely think straight. She had already eaten the food that was long left there, merely taking in the calories so she had something to steady her mind with. She never considered that if she wasn't important, then food would not be available to her. She had no idea how truly evil the Death Eaters were. She was considerably lucky, and she took it for granted without even knowing it.

Oh, how the tables would turn eventually.

She had seen the new book on the table that Draco had left earlier, but she took it for just something he left behind. She didn’t realize it could be important until the moment the possibility struck her mind. Maybe Draco left it there for a reason, maybe she was supposed to read it; maybe it held the answers that she was so desperately looking for.

Maybe.

She sat at the table. It was well past dawn, nearly 5:00 o'clock in the morning. She stared down at the book, unsure of what to do.

It was a faded blue, the stitching was coming apart and the writing was completely peeled off and gone, leaving no trace of the words that were once there. She didn't know what was inside the book, and she didn't even know if the information would be useful. And if it was, would it be wise to take notes?

She looked at the edge of the table. There was that blank, thin book with a quill inside. She grabbed it and the small ink well she spotted.

Oh, how she was spoiled.

She opened the blank book to a page, dated it how she thought it was. So far, she had been in that cave five days, she thought. If she was right, then it would be October 22 – a Thursday, if she was captured on Saturday.

Yes, I've got it right, she thought to herself, dating the empty parchment.

Carefully she opened the blue book that held mysteries within its pages. The first was blank, and she could smell the musty scent of the book, almost as if it had been left out in the rain; the binding was firm as if it had never been opened before. She flipped another page, and found herself glimpsing small, cursive writing. She had to struggle to read it because the writing was so tiny.

A collection of notes by Alexandre Lumerus.

Lumerus? Wasn't Lumerous the type of witch Hermione was? Maybe Alexandre was the person who performed the ceremony and named the witch after it.

She flipped the next page, and saw that it was dated sometime in the twelfth century, complete with pages of his writing. She started to read the undersized words, straining her eyes the whole time.

The first few entries were nothing but ideas that could help create the immortal drink that Voldemort had talked about, but it really had no other information. Hermione wrote down the fellow's name, and the main ideas and subjects for the first few entries.

She also recorded his thoughts that if he could find a witch and wizard with the two rarest blood types, and mix their blood with a certain potion that he would make, then he could somehow create immortality. He also had a very complex formula, and she wrote that down, and the outcome was not so pretty. It killed the drinker from the inside out, the person bursting into flames internally and no freezing charm could stop it, resulting in a slow, painful death.

She shuddered; trying not to imaging what it would be like if that was the potion to be used at the ceremony in two weeks.

Quickly recovering from the mental image, she read on, fascinated and curious. Did this hold her answers? So far, it hadn't. It had ideas and theories about the drink - the stupid, bloody drink. She didn't understand why Voldemort wanted it.

Only a raving lunatic would dream of immortality!

But then, Voldemort was a raving lunatic, so it made some sense to her. But the thought quickly fled from her mind as she became absorbed in the book.

Her eyes had adjusted quickly to the small cursive, and now her eyes were darting quickly across the page. She frequently came across divination references, which irritated her only because she dropped the class, but it was, after all, a load of hogwash.

For each entry, she took down at least four notes that she could look over afterwards. So far, she had come across certain names, none of which she could identify; Kronus, for example. It sounded familiar to her, like she had come across it in a book she had read often as a small child, but not so much anymore. She wrote down the name followed by a question mark.

She kept coming across theories for the drink, some religious, others quite possible and thoughtful that made her think she could make it herself. Some she wasn't really sure of because they seemed impossible to do. Some of them had a lot to do with mythology and beliefs of ancient civilizations, and some had to do with modern religions to that time, and lots of Muggle ideas. She wrote down the subject of those, but not the theories because they were not likely to be of any use. She didn't really know why she was copying the information she was, but she guessed it was because of the many years of doing hardcore research and studying. Taking notes was one of her skills, she mused.

As she pressed on through the many entries, she started to get bored with the stupidity of how to make an immortal drink. For Merlin's sake, she thought irritably. Couldn't Alexandre Lumerus be any more creative then to suggest eating an orange in a bucket of squid eggs for the sanity of his readers? She stopped taking notes on the brainless ones and just read on. Every now and then she came across something interesting and she read it carefully. One thing towards the middle of the book stood out in particular.

In my recent studies of a different type of magic called Wicca, I've made some interesting discoveries. Whence I had gone to America, I met a group of Muggles who told me they were in a coven. I asked what that was, and they told me it was magic. Obviously, I did not believe them, but I decided to stay around these women and partake in what they had to offer. For the month of October I followed them around, and after convincing them that I had been in my own coven, they sent me in search of more magic folk. They conducted a ceremony on Hallowe'en night that they had been preparing for since the start of the year’s first harvest moon. I found that in many cultures and religions, Hallowe'en is believed to be the day that the dead walked the earth. I was intrigued, and asked them if it was possible in any way that one could become immortal on this sacred day. They told me that the ceremony was precisely the reason that they were doing it, so they could achieve immortality. The leader of the coven, Michaela, an American, said that she was to find the souls of her coven and bring them back, telling me that when the body and the second soul meet with the first, the person becomes immortal. I was stunned, and I questioned more and more.

Finally on the night of Hallowe'en, the ceremony was started. Firstly, Michaela was not allowed outside because, as she told me, the souls in the underworld did not like those who were tainted with the light of the moon. She would not tell me why, but I noted somewhere in another journal to find out what exactly was so special about the moon itself. When she finally went outside, her hood drawn over her face and her cloak over her body, she drank from a jeweled golden goblet containing the blood of all those in her coven. Then she lay down in a pentagram surrounded by candles and burning serpent skin – I had no idea what these symbolized – she fell into a deep sleep almost instantly with the help of the coven’s chanting. In the end, Michaela never woke up. By the time the full moon had risen and the beams actually hit her, her heart stopped and she died. The coven told me that there was a great risk of death. Michaela had also been impure, and had not been spared by the great Artemis. I hadn't realized until I had gone home who exactly Artemis was.

These are the following notes for future theories from my days with the American Coven.

(1) Hallowe'en is the day of the dead whence the souls walk the earth.
(2) The ceremony to become immortal was instigated by the start of the first harvest moon.
(3) When the second soul and the body meet the first soul, one becomes immortal.
(4) Souls of the underworld did not like those who had been tainted by the light of the moon.
(5) Michaela drank blood of her entire coven from a goblet before she lied within the pentagram.
(6) The pentagram was surrounded by candles and burning serpent skin.
(7) Michaela was in a deep sleep, and when the moon beams hit her, her heart stopped.
(8) The coven told me she was impure (?) and had not been spared by the great Artemis.


Hermione's heart hammered in her chest as she finished reading that entry. She didn't know why, but she felt scared, very scared. She didn't know if her fate would mirror Michaela’s and this made her more anxious to find out what would eventually happen to her.

She needed to know several things; Troy had told her during her first few days that the witch in Alexandre's ceremony had died because she couldn't read. Was it because she had to read from a book or something like that? Another thing that bothered her was the drinking of the blood. If she was forced to help Voldemort become immortal, did she have to drink his blood? Did he even have blood?

She shook the disturbing thought from her head and listed different things that Alexandre had so carelessly left out from his notes. Michaela had specifically said Underworld, not Heaven or Hell. And the blood had been drunk from a jeweled golden goblet, and it sounded suspiciously like the Holy Grail from which Jesus himself had drank. It was rumored that if anyone drank from the Holy Grail that person was to also become immortal – but then why couldn't Voldemort just steal that and drink from it and leave Hermione alone?

Because she had something to do with all of it.

She had read a book on this rare subject about Lumerous witches when she was younger. Hermione had a fairly good memory, but she could only remember major details about what they were specifically. She knew that they were rare, they had special powers, and that was about it. She smacked her head in frustration; what else could she remember?

Hardly anything, that's what!

So with an aggravated sigh she wrote down all she knew about Lumerous witches. It hardly took up any space. She flipped to another entry, putting a star on the last one because it was important. Hardly anything had been important so far.

She was getting closer and closer to the end of the book, and so far she hadn't found anything else besides that one entry. Of course, there was always some little detail that she took down because she found it suspicious… and to her, suspicious meant important.

By noon, she was hungry and she was dizzy again, but she kept on reading. She didn't know, nor did she care, where anyone was with food for her, but she would have to think about it later. She flipped to the next entry and found a complete page of writing on divination that was complicated to understand. Though nearly half of the entry was smudged as if something had touched the ink while wet, she narrowed her eyes and read as much as she could.

If during October 31, or Hallowe'en, the day the dead walk the earth as the Wiccans said, wouldn't someone be able to go through the portal and retrieve souls...?

(After this there was a paragraph of smudged writing Hermione couldn't read.)

....Thirteenth house opens on October 31, Hallowe'en, leaving the chosen one able to repossess powers and souls of themselves or another. If they bring the second soul back to the living one and to the body, and whence they all meet, the person becomes immortal. This can only happen if the chosen one is untainted, pure, and born during the first harvest moon, making them able to switch over into the Underworld without dying.

She was very confused. Either the smudged writing explained all of it, or Alexandre had accidentally dumped a bottle of ink on his bloody page, because she sure as hell couldn't make head or tail of what the entry meant. There was hardly anything questionable, but all that was had been extremely complex. However, once she was in her studying mode, no one could take her out of it.

She dipped the quill in the ink and started to write all that she could make out or even remotely understand. She connected that the chosen one probably meant the Lumerous witch. Untainted meant not touched by moonbeams, and switching over implied death and staying in the underworld. Apparently, powers and souls were exactly what they were; powers and souls. She didn't know exactly what the powers were, but she didn't let the thought linger. She could wonder when there wasn't any light to write by.

But she couldn't figure out what pure meant. Did it mean pure blood? Pure soul? Pure what, exactly? The only thing she could connect it with was that Michaela died because she had been 'impure' as her coven had said. Was she, Hermione, impure too? Would she die? She sighed; she needed more clues to figure out all of the confusing mess she was in. But what exactly would it take?

More reading, she decided.

So, she kept going. It wasn't very hard, but it was tedious work. Stupid Alex, she decided to call him; he couldn't make any sense of the knowledge he had about the fact and legend of immortality. He had the right information, but he didn't know where or how to put it. She didn't like this Alexandre at all.

She flipped the page and read. It was pointless and boring, and now she didn't seem to have a purpose in reading the damn book in the first place. But she knew it had been left intentionally, although she didn't know exactly why. Maybe she was supposed to find that out. Maybe she was supposed to find a lot of things out. She wouldn't know. She still had no clue what was going to happen to her in the long run, she didn't know if Voldemort was serious when he said she was going to be a Death Eater, and she didn't know if it was true if she was going to live with the Malfoys. She didn't know at all, and she was very scared.

At well past seven, the sun had started to go down, casting dim shadows on the wall and the room slowly began dissolving into darkness. Hermione, still at the wooden table and writing furiously, took no notice to the lack of light. It didn't matter though, because she still had the torch. The torch had been growing weaker and weaker since the daytime, when it had still been blazing with strength, but she didn't care. She had finished the notebook nearly two hours before, but continued to read only because she had to go back and reread everything that was important, and then take notes.

After a moment, she threw down the quill and took a breath and smiled. She felt as if she had every puzzle piece she wanted to put together. She knew now that the answers she wanted weren't simple, and even if she got them, half the time they wouldn't make sense. She needed anything that could relate and be of use as background information so she could get a better picture.

So far, she had learned that the theories were based around astrological myths, gods, and facts. It had much to do with Greek Gods, and had a lot of references to Houses of the Earth, the Solar System, and planetary gods. She wasn't up to scratch on her astronomy and astrology, but she knew her basics. What she didn't know was that her basics were nearly genius compared to everyone else's. She thought she needed another time to do this, perhaps the day after to work everything out. She had been taking notes and reading all day and her brain had been worked to its daily limit. She needed sleep. And food. No one had come to bring anything to her. She was confused and hungry, thought what the hell, and tried to forget about it.

She lay on the mattress, not tired at all but thinking rapidly about everything she had read. The torch had died already, and at the moment it was inky black. She twisted the corner of the blanket absentmindedly, trying to take the frustrated stress out on something as she thought as hard as she could. She was trying to remember what the houses were and what exactly was classified into them. But she wasn't sure. She was positive there were twelve houses, she knew that. She knew the first one was something about the House of Self, and the second was... well she wasn't sure. That was all Divination stuff that she didn't know.

She hated Divination only because of the bat Trelawney. She didn't know Divination, but she knew astrology. Unfortunately, the subjects tied greatly together, so she was in trouble if she couldn't remember certain things. She had read the book that she had gotten in third year, but that had been about tea cups and crystal balls and a third-year curriculum, not the things she was looking for.

Of course, she had read Fred and George's Divination book in fifth year in the summer when there wasn't anything else to read at Grimmauld Place. They only took the subject because it was a joke to them, as well as the teacher was. They had a lot of fun in the class even though they didn't take it seriously. So she had read the book peacefully, finding things out that she never would have. She closed her eyes and tried to picture the page of the earth houses. The earth was divided into twelve pieces, all having a certain slice of the world to themselves for the sun to shine on.

She heard voices quite suddenly. She opened her eyes and stared into the blackness in the room, listening hard. Voices, she concluded, that sounded young, and they were boys. Almost instantly she knew it was Draco and Troy. Why were they coming now?

"Har, Har Troy, like that would ever happen," she heard Draco say sarcastically. Troy snickered. She heard them start to unlock her door, and for some unknown reason she clamped her eyes shut. She felt like she didn't want to be found awake or she'd be in for something bad.

"Yeah right, you know you would if you had the chance," Troy retorted. Draco snorted.

"As soon as that happens I'll switch to Gryffindor and be Wonder Boy's best friend," Draco said sardonically. Troy gave a short laugh.

"Whatever."

They were in the room now; she could hear them quite plainly. One of them moved across the room, towards the table, while she didn't know where the other was.

"Lumos," Troy said. The white glare of his wand light burned her closed eyes even through her eyelids, and she squeezed them together.

"Is she sleeping?" Draco asked Troy.

The light of the wand got brighter, and she heard feet shuffling across the ground.

"Yeah..." Troy said, and she realized that he was close to her.

She heard a silence before Draco muttered something darkly, and Troy chuckled. Tingles went up her spine as Troy brushed hair out of her face and behind her ear. He put a hand on her cheek, running his thumb over her skin and chapped lips, and she tried to stay as still as humanly possible.

"It seems Granger did a little more then we expected. Look at all this." She heard the flipping of pages, and suddenly her blood ran cold. She had been set up!

Troy moved away over to Draco and she took the opportunity to silently smack her forehead while neither of the boys were looking.

"How did she do this all so quickly?" Troy asked him. Draco laughed.

"Are you kidding me? The Mudblood has probably read the whole damn library at school," Draco said, a hint of disgust hidden in his voice, almost as if he were jealous. Hermione smiled to herself.

Serves him right! she thought proudly.

"The Dark Lord will be pleased," Troy said smugly. Draco laughed.

"We better bloody hope so."

They started to leave, and Hermione felt something inwardly fall on her shoulders in guilt. She took the time to hold her breath as they went, feeling like she needed to stay hidden, stay silent. As soon as the door closed, she let out a shuddering breath.

She felt humiliated, betrayed and used. She had basically just read that and got all the pieces out for Voldemort! How stupid could she be? Tears ran down her cheeks and pooled and quickly sunk into the pillow as she mutely cried. She was an idiot, she knew it.

She knew she wouldn't make it that far in her life if she didn't think everything through beforehand especially if she was going to be spending the rest of her life with the Malfoys. She just couldn't be stuck there, in a manor, trapped by the dark arts and Death Eaters and Merlin knows what else.

It would take a lot to make her go through with the bloody ceremony because she sure as hell wouldn't do it unless her life was in danger.

Let them kill me!

It was only one life lost in the war for freedom, and she would rather be dead if Voldemort stayed mortal. Harry was going to murder that bastard of a hypocrite once and for all.

She sniffed; she missed Harry, and Ron, and everyone. She missed their antics and annoying habits that bugged the hell out of her; she missed how they played chess, and she missed how they were always there for her, even Ron. They might have broken up, but she knew that in the future he would still be there for her, no matter what. She wanted them back, and she wanted to be back with them forever.

She cried harder. She cried from all the pain, and for Harry and Ron. She felt like all of this was her fault, after all, she had let Draco put his arms around her that first night. All because she felt like she needed the warmth of someone else around her. Ironically, she didn't even care if it was Draco Malfoy.

But she did now.

She was childish and vulnerable and she had to let her emotions get in the way of her safety, of everyone's. How stupid she had been, how incredibly stupid. But she swore she wouldn't let him win, she swore it on her life. She would not do anything for Voldemort even if they threatened to kill her, even if they tortured her, even if they used curses and hexes and jinxes, she wouldn't do it.

Silently she wiped her red, tearstained cheeks and closed her eyes, sleep overcoming her. She swore right then to herself, she would count the days until she would show that she wasn't weak, and that she wouldn't do anything. She would count the days until she would return home, to her true family and home, Hogwarts.

She would count the days.

-
-x-x-x-
-


Author's Notes:
Okay, so that's done! I just wanted to point out about the little journal entry that Alexandre wrote, it said that the Wiccan Coven drank blood. Now, the original chapter of this got a very angry review and said that Wiccans do not drink blood. I hadn't realized that, and for anyone that is also angry, please don't be. I only did that because in the movie The Craft the witches drank blood of everyone in their Coven and I thought it would be alright to write about.

Thank you A Roses Innocence for beta-ing for me!

Please review!


Chapter 9: The Dark Side of Her Dreams
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. (But God knows I wish I did!)
I do own Troy Malfoy and Alexandre Lumerus. So far, that's about it.

Note: the first section thingy is the continuation of Hermione's dream thingy from chapter seven.

Now, enjoy!

The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

-
((--Chapter Nine--))
The Dark Side of Her Dreams


-

Friday, October 23
Day 6


"Crucio!"


Something hit her square in the back, causing pain to erupt all over her body, like hot knifes piercing her skin. She screamed so loud her throat was hoarse, her body was arched and taut and the tears never came from the amount of pain. She withered, feeling like she had fallen into burning fire and coals. It all stopped after a moment, and she dropped to the ground, exhausted, when her captors released her. She sobbed, cupping her hands to her face and cradling the wounds that she could reach, that she could touch.

She was shaking tremendously, as if she was wandering around the artic without any source of heat. Tears poured down her cheeks from the pain, but the previous encounter had finally settled, and she realized that she had been hurt, and she was in danger of it happening again.

In a second she was on her feet and running as fast as she had never gone before, flying past them, ducking and darting under their legs and fleeing into the darkening forest. Her body’s screams did not delay her in the least, for her hammering heart urged her much louder than the pain ever could. She heard their yells of anger and surprise, but somehow she knew: no matter how fast they were running, no matter how many times they attempted to catch her, they would not. She would escape, and she knew it.

She sprinted through the thick path, soaring over bushes without hesitation as she ran furiously down the path. I don't know where to go, she thought anxiously as she reached the end of the brush. She kept speeding along, taking the necessary left at a subtle fork in the trees; if she had gone right, it would've taken her home. But she couldn't go home; they knew where her home was. She was in more danger if she went somewhere that they knew about, somewhere they could trap her.

She came to another fork and she took a left again; it took her down to the end of the brook that meandered around the forest. She sprinted down the path as it started downhill, and as she heard the loud gurgle of the stream she ran to it, jumped in the water that went up to her waist and waded across as fast as she could, ignoring the stitch in her side.

She struggled onto the bank, and from her terrorizing panic she sprinted away without even thinking of brushing away her tracks in the sand. She ran up the path, dirt sticking to her feet and picking up debris in the damp mud on her soles. She didn't stop to breathe, and she didn't stop to turn around and see if they were following her; she didn't (wouldn't) stop for anything.

Now, as she rounded a corner, she could see the second meadow that was nearly half a kilometer from her house. She had never run that far or that fast before, and she was briefly amazed with herself at her endurance. But she didn't slow down, she kept running, taking random turns and scrambling through brush that kept appearing.

When she reached the meadow, she stopped temporarily and looked at her surroundings; she had never played in this meadow before, and she didn't know anything about it. She spotted a clump of thick, dense trees and brush underneath them on the other side of the open valley, and it beckoned her. She had been running so far, so long, that if she could disappear for just a minute or so, she could rest properly, and get farther away from the danger.

She ran as fast as she could across the warm grass- and flower-covered meadow, and when she got close enough she dived for the bushes, scrambling through the scraggly foliage and prickling branches.

When she had caught her breath and rid herself of the screaming in her side, she looked around at her hiding spot. The bush rose high enough so it imitated a dome, and the bush itself was very thick that nothing could see in, but she could see out if she prodded the right leaves. There was dead, soft grass and leaves on the ground, and an indentation in the middle of the debris. Twisting around, she could also see recent animal prints.

This is a nest of some kind, she thought excitedly.

She sat still for quite a long time, catching her breath and relaxing her legs a bit, for they were quite sore from all her running. She sat still and examined her dress, which was now stained in her own blood. The massive cut had stopped bleeding miraculously fast, but from her shoulders down to her stomach her dress was completely stained. She touched the fabric; it was dry, the blood had crusted over made the material stiff. A putrid scent invaded her nostrils when she sniffed, and she grimaced.

As it started to get dark, the sun sank down into the meadow, casting brilliant colors over the grass. Hermione climbed out of the bush and walked cautiously out into the field, stepping slowly through the shadows. Everything was shadowed in gold, the landscape and the sky, with hints of scarlet and soft violet blended in streaks. There were no clouds; she gazed up, seeing the few stars that had already appeared. She walked quietly across the field, trying to remember how to get home. She hadn't really thought about how she had gotten there, and she felt scared without help. How would she manage to return without getting lost in the darkness?

She traveled quickly, stopping and turning around every few feet. Already she was in the heart of the massive forest, and she had absolutely no idea where in the world she was. The darkness was swallowing and deep, without the help of the full moon, there would be no sense of direction, no reason for continuing.

Right now, all she could focus on was how to get home; she wasn't thinking about escaping from the two men, who had left her mind ages ago. She wanted to be safe, somewhere warm, near her mummy and dad. She just wanted to see something familiar, anything, but at this time of night, with the spiraling darkness surrounding her, she would never find her way home.

She started to cry out in fear. "Mummy!"

She hugged herself and ran desperately around in circles, trying to look for something she could familiarize with, even though she didn't even know what it was, what it could be. She just wanted something she could hold onto, something that meant a good deal to her... something that would make her safe. She cried louder, frustrated and scared, and she sat down and leaned against a tree trunk, pulling her knees to her chest. She wailed out her for her mother and she burst into fresh, new sobs that echoed in the empty woods.

...Hermione...

Her head bolted up, and she was immediately silent, excluding the sudden hiccup that escaped her throat. She heard her name. She was positive someone had said her name. Her heart started beating wildly with hope; someone was here, to save her!

But a dark thought occurred to her, and her breath became jagged. What if it was them? The ones who had hurt her? The ones who were intent on hurting her again? The men she had escaped?

There was no telling which was truth and which was fantasy.

"H-Hello?" she stammered, her eyes wide with fear, the instinct that someone could hurt her much greater than the possibility of help.

...Hermione...

There it was again!
She trembled, trying to pull her wits together. An owl hooted in the distance, and she heard the rustling of leaves. Her blood turned to ice, and there was a painful scared feeling in her chest as she listened to the rustling growing louder. Her eyes darted quickly in all directions, and she squeezed her legs to her chest, trying to drain the fear out of her body. Her heart pounded in her throat, and she realized that even if she wanted to scream, she wouldn't be able to.

…Hermione... come to me now...

And there it was a third time!
She was getting more frightened by the second. She found no relief in holding herself anymore, for nothing she could do would stop her horrifying thoughts and severe trembling. She released herself with hesitation, and wiped her cheeks.

That voice, it both frightened and intrigued her at the same time. She found herself pushing her back against the hard bark and standing up, keeping a hand on the trunk for reassurance of some kind, as if the aged bark could protect her. There was a faint whispering in the woods, echoing back and forth and it kept getting louder. But she could hear it inside her head, louder than her ears could ever endure.

She felt all of the fear leave her as she curiously started down the dirt path in the darkness, her eyes dilated and grasping for anything that she could see. The voice, it assured her, nothing was wrong. She believed it without question, following its instructions to walk, to move steadily, to follow it.

Walking blindly, she stumbled down the path, then to the right fork, then down another. She had no idea where she was going, but only followed the voice that was calling. She knew it so well, she had heard it before. She needed to find them, and get the help that she deserved.

Soon the gurgling sound of the brook entered her ears, and she looked to the rose garden across the field outside of her house. Across the blackened field, there were no lights in her house. It was not a frequent character of her parents, meaning something might've happened to them… but she didn't stop to think about the possibilities. She sat down on a rock and tucked her legs underneath her. It was cold out; she shivered and rubbed her arms, creating friction and some warmth.

"Hello, there."

Hermione jumped at the sound of the sudden voice, and it was so familiar. She turned and looked up, and could only make out the looming figure of a person against the darkness. But she knew who it was, somehow. It was him, the one who had been talking to her, the one who had been guiding her, leading her.

"Who are you?" she blurted out. She had only followed his voice like a dog to a whistle, but never had she encountered his persuasive presence.

"But don't you know me? I've come to see you quite often," he replied quietly. She could feel the amusement in his voice inside of her head.

His charming aura kept her mouth shut, but still, her mind struggled to think. Some distant thought crossed her mind, and despite that she had never met this stranger, he seemed oddly familiar… as if he had always been in the back of her mind, always residing in her nightmares.

"Tom?" she asked suddenly. There was a soft laugh that made the hair on her neck stand on end, and it echoed louder in her mind.

"So you do remember me, I'm glad for it. Give me your hand, Hermione," he told her. She hesitated, trying to separate her thoughts from his voice in her head, and allowed herself a moment to think about the danger.

"Why?"

"Just give me your hand," he repeated, much firmer. She clasped her hands in her lap, ignoring the serpentine hiss of fury in her mind.

"Tell me why or I shan't," she said indignantly.

Then, without warning, there were a strong pair of arms grabbing her from behind, lifting her into the air. Fear blossomed in her chest in a rapid cloud, and her muscles were screaming faster! Faster! as she fought the restraint on her limbs.

"Let go!" she shrieked, her arms kicking furiously, her body trying to squirm out of its hold.

There was soft laughter in her mind, powerful and knowing. With a terrified gasp she realized they were the strange men she had been running from. He had called her back, and she foolishly walked into his grasp.

A light lit up her face, and she could see him quite clearly. She recognized him now as the dark-haired man with the black, bottomless eyes that swallowed her. The wand he had earlier, he had it now, and it was producing the light. He was watching her with a sly, malevolent look in his eyes as he withdrew something from his pocket. She started screaming again with a sudden boat of energy, the panic blinding her from all rational thought.

In the midst of her loud fighting, Tom withdrew a long, silver dagger from his pocket that was giving off an odd, liquid-like gleam. Her eyes widened with fear, and she tried desperately to pull back her hands, but the man behind her had the strongest grip on her wrists and refused to let go. Tom lifted the knife over his head slowly and she knew what was going to happen a split second before it did.

She closed her eyes and turned her head, but despite that she did not witness the act, she still felt it. She let out a piercing, painful scream that echoed through the valley and the woods alike. A searing, burning pain spread through her hand, then her wrists and arms, and she wailed. He brought the knife high in the air again… it moved swiftly through her second palm. Her hands were burning with such intensity she was surprised they had not turned to ashes; her fingertips were on fire, her hands bleeding and wounded. The bleeding gashes in the middle of her hands burned and stung so hard it made her whimper.

The man behind her let go of her, and she dropped to the ground, cradling her throbbing wounds.

"Run along home, Hermione, or your mother will be worried," Tom whispered in a cruelly satisfied voice. The two men roared with malicious laughter, and suddenly, as fast as they had appeared, they were gone.

Hermione sat on the ground, tears pouring from her cheeks, and she cradled her hands uselessly; she tried to disregard the pain, tried to pretend it never happened.

But in her mind, she knew it could never be ignored.

-x-x-x-


Her muscles contracted in fear, and she sat straight up, her body tangled in the sheets. That was the second dream she had encountered, or rather, the continuation of the first. She was breathing heavily, jaggedly, and her body was shaking from the cold sweat.

She withdrew her palms from underneath the blanket, and just like her first wound that occurred in her dreams, they were bleeding. A deep gash in the middle of her hands went through to the backside of them, both bleeding and hurting like nothing she had ever experienced. Her arms and hands felt like they were on fire, and she didn't dare try to move her fingers in fear of making the wound worse.

She gasped for breath, feeling like she had been running a mile in her sleep. Her face had broken out in perspiration, and she hastily shook the hair off of her cheeks and face that were damp from sweat. There was blood on her face, and she refused to let her mind think of an explanation for it.

She noticed that her hands didn't stop bleeding like the first wound had, and they didn't gleam a certain color. The first had been that horrible dream before, and the pain had coiled around her like a snake, marking her, making her bleed.

But this one? No, it was like they were normal, vicious wounds. She bent her fingers and she brought her hands to her face to examine them closer, hiccupping and gasping all the while, and she cried out in pain as the tendons moved around visibly in the gash.

Tears ran down her face as she tried to gain control of the excruciating feeling in her hands, but she could not. She started to sob, and she lowered her hands back down to her lap as she cried. She doubted she could even rip some blanket or something to make a bandage because it would hurt her hands so badly. But the blood was seeping rapidly from her wounds, and she didn't want to think of the possibilities that could happen if the crimson liquid didn't stop flowing.

Carefully she took the opposite end of the blanket by her feet and biting the edge of the material, she ripped two large strips off. She wrapped the material around the gashes and used her teeth to tie them. She frowned as she looked at the cloth, as if upset that the crude dressings hadn't stopped the pain.

For a while, all she could do was sit and try to control the feverish fire that consumed her hands. Each little movement brought a bolt of pain, a sharp gasp and tremble of her lip, before she twisted her face up in pain and pushed aside the hurting. Soon, they began to ache with a dull throb, slowly turning numb. In an amount of time so short she thought it impossible, she could no longer feel the wounds at all.

She had no idea what time it was, but it was in the daytime, sunlight pouring into the room and across the floor. She cast aside the blankets and went to the table to see if she was able to keep writing notes... but both journals were gone. She stood frozen, and suddenly she knew what had happened.

Draco and Troy, she remembered, had come in the middle of the night, and while she just thought they were looking at the books, they took them! She dropped into the chair and tried not to think what would happen. Would Voldemort get them? And if he did, what would happen then?

She realized with a gasp that if Voldemort didn't know any of the clues for anything about the ceremony, she had just handed them to him by writing down the clues in the blank journal!

God, I'm an idiot!

Now it would be her fault when whatever happened to her did. She was stupid enough to be lured into that trap that she could've so easily foreseen. She knew that Draco had the right elements though, so at the time she never would have thought that it was a trap.

She was stuck in that room, with nothing but a few items and she so curiously read the first few pages of something new that she hadn't seen before. And what did she find? Things about a Lumerous witch, things that she had questions about. There was the element of surprise, of temptation, curiosity, and so many things her head was now swimming.

Draco was a tricky bloke that couldn't be dealt with when you had only a second to think. You needed more time to think about what he could possibly be doing in the long run.

Either he had done it himself, or someone else had done it for him. Either way, he knew Hermione better than anybody, and he had set the bait and the trap and she played right into it.

He'll pay for that, Hermione said darkly to herself. Oh, how he'll pay.

-x-x-x-


"Any news yet, Professor?" Ron asked Dumbledore that morning immediately as they entered the Great Hall.

Hermione had been gone for nearly a week, and on the next day, Saturday, it would be officially that long. Dumbledore looked down on the two sad, hopeful faces of Ron Weasley and Harry Potter, and shook his head reluctantly.

"I'm sorry, boys, but not yet. We've found several clues, but we've come to no conclusion," he told them.

It had been an agreement between the Order of the Phoenix, the Weasley family, the Granger family, (who had been devastated and frantic after they were notified) and Harry, of course, to share any information that had been found out. From past years, Dumbledore had found out that keeping things from certain people led to dire and severe consequences.

"Thanks anyway then," Ron said sadly, and he and Harry trudged over to the Gryffindor Table.

Nearly the whole Gryffindor House had been grieving for her, wherever she was, and all of them wanted her back. It wasn't the same with the snappy, know-it-all Hermione that everyone loved in some way. It wasn't the same without her hand shooting into the air every three seconds, or scolding the boys for not doing their homework when they had the time. It wasn't the same with her beaming face every time she laughed or smiled at someone. Hell, it wasn't even the same when the Slytherins didn't hiss at them for being Muggle-born lovers. Nothing was the same without her.

It was amazing to both Harry and Ron that time still passed that week. Neither of them had been aware of anything except that Hermione wasn't there. They wanted her back. Everybody did.

However, with an honor to her, they did their homework when they had the time, they studied and paid attention, and they answered questions. They did it for her, even though she wasn't there.

Many people had their suspicions about who had kidnapped her, but their number one suspect in both Gryffindor and Ravenclaw was Draco Malfoy. Most of the Hufflepuffs couldn't point directly at one person. Most of them thought that the group who had been absent at the dance were all responsible for the kidnapping of Hermione Granger.

But whoever it was, the Slytherin's were hated more than ever. Even the teachers seemed to be colder towards the Slytherin's. McGonagall absolutely refused to call on any Slytherin in her class, and she gave them instant detentions for making any sort of disruption no matter how small or quiet it was.

Ron was moping and extremely sad about Hermione's disappearance, and it wasn’t a surprise when Ginny had whispered that he had most likely fallen into a depression. Harry, though scared and worried for Hermione Granger, had a few other things on his mind.

Lately he had been having weird dreams, and he kept seeing this girl in a meadow. It was strange: he could see the people talking, and he could see all of the people's faces, but he couldn't hear them. Yet he kept feeling a strange rush of emotions that he knew had nothing to do with him.

Several times the dreams had ended with the girl, whom he only saw at a distance, usually sitting somewhere in the field, watching the moon and the clouds pass over it. Sometime, she was the only person in his dreams. And however much he tried to run to her, he couldn't. Only twice had there been more people in the reoccurring dreams; he had seen a woman who looked oddly familiar, and then two other men whom he could instantly name.

Lucius Malfoy and Tom Riddle.

From the horrifying memory in the Chamber of Secrets in his second year, and from the numerous encounters with Lucius Malfoy, he knew the two bastards by face anytime.

And the strange thing was that Harry felt like he knew the girl that he kept seeing. He had never seen her face once, but he knew her. He felt like he had some kind of connection with that girl, whoever she was. He had felt the pain when he watched Malfoy and Riddle torture her; he had felt the fear flow through her body as she sat alone in the woods. The scariest thing was that he could hear her thoughts, and anything inside her head.

It had been that Thursday night that he had figured out that the girl was Hermione. The whispering inside her head was so familiar to him, he had heard that before too, mutters and murmurs floating through his own nightmares.

It was odd that Harry didn't tell anyone about these dreams he was having. Ron didn't know, and neither did Dumbledore. He didn't know why, but he felt as if they wouldn’t understand him if he shared his thoughts. They weren’t very personal, but even so, Harry seemed to think that he could comprehend the meaning in them much better than anybody else ever could.

But something was wrong: they weren't current or imaginary dreams like the ones he had of Sirius in fifth year, these had already taken place.

But then, why haven't I seen the scars on her?

The last two dreams he had had Hermione had been tortured and brutally cut with some type of spell, and he had seen the painful bloody wounds. So why had he never seen them? Two of them were on her hands, as he had seen in his last dream, and he had looked plenty of times at Hermione's hands for some reason or another. He was frustrated, and he couldn't figure anything out. He needed more clues, something to base a theory on and something to research.

So far, he had only a few things to ponder about. Why would Hermione sit at night in a field and watch the moon? And then, why would Malfoy and Voldemort hurt her? And why didn't she have the scars to show that what happened was real?

He sighed; he had time to think later. Right now, his day was dedicated to classes. After all, he felt like he had to keep the inward promise with Hermione to keep up with his studies, even if she wasn't there.

But he made a pact that he would do a bit of research later on after dinner and after his homework was done. He needed to find out what happened, what her invisible scars meant, and what Voldemort could possibly want with their beloved Hermione.

-
-x-x-x-
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Author's Notes:
Ooh, we're getting to the good part! In some future chapters, you will be attempting to bash Harry's head in for his stupidity. Also, you may hear my evil laughter. MWAHA!

Thank you to A Roses Innocence for beta-ing this for me! I owe you a hell of a lot because this writing is atrocious… heh.

Please review!


Chapter 10: Oh, the Possibilites
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, but I do own Troy Malfoy and Alexandre Lumerus.

Enjoy!

The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

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((---Chapter Ten---))
Oh, the Possibilities


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Saturday, October 24
Day 7


The Last Places to Find Ingredients

Lightest Seekers of the Century

Lightning Strikes! How to Heal Burns in an Instant


"Ugh, I'll never find anything," Harry muttered to himself.

That afternoon on Saturday, while everyone went to Hogsmeade, Harry stayed back, with the excuse that he needed to finish a hard essay. He had left for the library before Ron had noticed the necessary textbook that would've aided his homework was conveniently sitting on the table.

Harry had spent nearly an hour in the library already. First, pulling an extreme “Hermione”, he wrote down subjects to look under to find the books he needed. He had followed Hermione on her many expeditions to find school books for many things, and even though he never put the knowledge to use, he knew what to do. So far he was looking for anything on scars and things about the moon, since his strange dreams always had a moon in it.

Lunar Eclipses and Their Effects

Lunar! I'm close!


He scanned down a few more books until he found what he was looking for. He pulled out a thick book called A Lunar Phenomenon, and then stuck it in his bag. He continued down the shelf looking for similar subjects, but came across no other lunar-related ones. He ran his fingers slowly over the many bindings, some new and very sturdy, while others were peeling and faded away.

He found a book without a title on the binding, and he pulled it out. The book was dark blue, and in the bottom left hand corner it read in small, faded silver writing, The Lumerous Witch. He held the book and looked at it, thinking. Lumer sounded a lot like lunar, which meant moon in Latin. Was it possible that the book he held in his hands had something to do with the moon? Would it relate to his dreams?

After a moment's hesitation, he put it in his bag along with the other books he had found so far.

Better read something useless than pass up something important, he thought to himself with a shrug.

Even if it had nothing to do with the moon, whatever knowledge the tome held may help him in the future.

It was a long and boring afternoon while he read halfway through his first book, What You Didn't Know About Your Scars. He didn't find anything extremely useful except that a powerful (and difficult) spell could both hide and remove scars. He found some interesting subjects on scars themselves; like that certain scars meant certain things no matter how you got them. When he came to the page about lightning shaped scars, he immediately turned it without reading a paragraph.

I don't want anyone telling me what my scar means, thanks, he thought bitterly.

The only thing he associated with his scars was the constant reminder that he was the only one to defeat Voldemort. And after Sirius and the whole painful situation called Life, he wanted to avoid his fate as much as possible.

"Hi Harry," muttered Ron. He dropped down next to Harry, and Harry cast his redheaded friend a glance to see Ron's worried expression. Ron somewhat curiously eyed all the books Harry had selected, and inquired about them.

Flipping a page, Harry answered absentmindedly, "Nothing in particular." Ron cast him a slightly suspicious glance but shrugged and sat down next to him. He read the many titles about the moon and the others about scars.

"Uh, Harry, what are these for?" Ron asked him as he picked up a random book and read the titles. "We don't even have homework on these subjects. These are nearly all Astronomy or Divination topics," Ron said confusedly. Harry shrugged as indifferently as he could, and flipped a few more pages.

"Just... background reading I guess." He looked up at Ron. "I went to the library to find a book for the essay, I didn't find it, and I dunno, I pulled a ‘Hermione’ and checked out a few books that seemed interesting enough," Harry said quietly. Ron nodded and Harry went back to his reading.

Ron shot Harry a puzzled look. What could these books possibly be for? He sighed. Maybe it was for background reading just as Harry said. Though, somehow he doubted it. Harry wasn't the type of person to go and check out random books because they seemed interesting. Oh no, something had influenced Harry to check them out. The problem was, Ron didn't have the mental energy to give it a real care. All he cared about was Hermione. And as far as he knew, Hermione was somewhere far, far away.

Later, Harry and Ron went down to the Quidditch Pitch with the rest of the Gryffindor team for practice. They went down at six, when it was still light, and played until nine, just fifteen minutes after dusk. They practiced well, though not as excellently as they normally did. Everyone was worried and not focusing all that well as a result.

Harry kept catching the snitch in good time, but he had other things on his mind. He had read some of the scar book, and found some interesting things; spells that could both hide and remove scars, and he kept those in mind. Wouldn't their Hermione tell them about scars if she had them? Wouldn't she tell them the truth? Somewhere in the pit of his stomach he knew something was different about his dreams. It was almost as if they were normal, but turned into nightmares, intervened by someone, or something, horrible.

Lately he had been waking up sweating, his chest heaving. He tried not to remind himself that if Sirius was still alive, he would remind Harry to tell Dumbledore. But to avoid the pain, Harry tried not to think about Sirius, because the hurt was so enormous it could ruin days on end.

He was hoping that he didn't go insane with forlorn when he thought about Hermione. He wanted her to live, he needed her to. He didn't know what he would do if something happened. He was praying that wherever she was, she would live. If someone killed her, he knew he wouldn't be a person anymore.

There was already a large, gaping hole in his heart because of Sirius’ death, but Harry still had a small will to live. If Hermione died, he felt like he might just as well do the same.

Because then… there wouldn't be anything left to live for.

-x-x-x-


Noon.

Two PM.

Four PM.

Six PM.

No one had come at all. She couldn't tell the time, god no, but by the shadows on the wall from the sun, she could make a closely accurate guess. She was intelligent, after all.

She had paced the room, thinking of something to do. After the day before, all she could think about was that bloody journal of notes. She wanted it back, she needed it. It didn't answer any of her questions, but it had rhetorical statements, confusing sentences, important clues, things that all needed to be figured out. She wanted to figure it out. She wanted something to work her mind back into shape.

A claw was ripping up the inside of her stomach from lack of food, which now had been two days, nearly three without any kind of meal, and there was a desperate feeling some kind of fuel. She thought she might've just gone crazy had it not been for her constant muttering and pacing, forcing herself to think of other things than the food she was denied.

She couldn't sit still. Although she was burning precious calories that might have saved her from future starvation, she didn't care. There was a burning passion in her to keep moving.

Her ear was constantly at the door, waiting for the chance to scream at the first sound she heard, to demand the journal back. No one came near; not a sound was heard outside the wooden door. She was still trapped; starving, raging mad, wandless, and vulnerable. In this hell she was living through, the only thing she wished upon herself was death.

However, she knew that Voldemort and his bloody army wouldn't let her die. Voldemort needed her. She was powerful with or without her Lumerous powers. But she wouldn't do it; they'd have to force her into it somehow, and even if they threatened her with death, nothing could force her into giving up whatever was needed.

She hated this, she hated her life. Why was she so special? The Plain Jane, know-it-all, goody-two-shoes mudblood that was best friends with Harry Potter and now currently being held prisoner by the Dark Army. She would've given anything at that moment to trade lives with someone else, anyone else.

What was that?

She pressed her body against the door. She heard faint noises, growing louder. Footsteps maybe, but not voices. Someone was coming, she realized; maybe it was Draco, bringing food or something. Then she could scream and pester him for the journal. If she was lucky, he would kill her. That was what she wished.

The footsteps grew louder, and they were quick. As they grew closer, they were slower. She knew that the person was stopping. She jumped back from the door and watched it desperately, hoping it was Draco. As the door lock clicked, and the door swung open, Hermione simply acted on instinct. She flew at Draco in a rage.

"Give it back!" she screamed at him furiously.

She jumped at him, knocking him over and in a split second decided that smacking him would do quite nicely in her situation. Instantly, as her hands flew at him, he grabbed her wrists, threw her off, and tackled her down face first.
It seemed her lack of nutrition affected her strength and logic.

"Oh, do shut up, Granger. No one wants to hear your complaints," he drawled as he kicked the door awkwardly and it slammed shut. She struggled feebly underneath him but ended up sobbing silently into the dirt, her small amount of energy already spent.

"I hate you," she sobbed weakly into the ground as her frail body shuddered. He pushed himself off of her and brushed off his robes vainly.

"What else is new?" he drawled, taking a step back and observing her.

She had the strips of cloth tightly around her hands from her last nightmare; her hair was dirty, caked with both blood, and her face was streaked with blood and grime. Her body was still covered in bruises from nearly a week ago, after she first woke up and he was there. Her shirt was torn, as was her skirt; there were several cuts on her legs and arms, and there were white lines down her cheeks from her tears.

He looked down at her like he did a House-elf, condescendingly, contemptuously. Maybe four or five days ago, Troy was right in saying she was beautiful, but now she was completely covered in dirt and rubbish and absolutely despicable.

"Please, I-I just want it back," she mumbled, wiping her cheeks halfheartedly, smudging her tears across her face, smearing it into her skin. "I need it Malfoy, you don't understand," she pleaded in a desperate voice. His eyes, narrowed into disgusted slits, stared at her silently. He crossed his arms over his chest, not feeling anything but a vague sort of pity for her.

"No, I understand perfectly, Granger. But you aren't getting it back. You realize what you've done though, I assume," he drawled out almost amusedly. She glared at him but nodded.

"As soon as you and Troy left. It wasn't that hard to see how stupid I was, Malfoy," she snapped bitterly, sniffing. She seemed to have her anger back so quickly, getting over her tears easily. He smirked almost childishly.

"So you were awake, then. Wouldn't have put it past you to be feigning sleep, Mudblood," he sneered again. She laughed, her voice hollow and dull.

"Oh quit your day job and find another way to insult me, you prat! Mudblood this, Mudblood that, honestly, can't you come up with something better? I mean, come on ferret face, where's the Malfoy in you?" she mocked, laughing at him. The sudden change in her helpless demeanor to this cruel, shrewd being would've amazed him, would he be willing to admit it to himself.

"What next, going to call me a whore?" she snickered. She didn't know what was with her sudden courage to make him mad but it sure as hell got her mind off of everything else.

"I might as well, it's true enough," he spat back at her.

"For your information, Malfoy, in order to be a whore, one has to firstly sleep with someone, you dolt. Who taught you Sex Ed?" she asked scathingly.

"You're a virgin?" he sputtered incredulously. She suddenly wished she hadn't let her rash anger speak before her logic did.

"Why, did you expect me not to be?" she asked bluntly. He looked at her strangely.

"At bloody eighteen? God, I thought everyone at least lost it at least in sixth year, even you," he said, and she scoffed.

"Not everyone is a man-slag like you, Malfoy," she retorted, the edge of her voice laced in malice. She pushed herself against the wall and glaring at him. His lip curled and he glared at her fiercely. "And there are still proud virgins out there that'll you'll have to hunt down to find. They don't want to be seen by the likes of you."

However much he wanted to beat some obedience into her, he felt as if he couldn't. This wasn't a physical fight, this was matching her wit. He had to beat her at her own game, which he had started in the first place. He needed to touch a nerve, like she had done to him.

"Well Granger, I won't have to hunt. I can just ask your precious Weasel. It's apparent he's shagged every girl he comes in contact with," Draco said, a malevolent smirk playing on his lips. The mean smile from her face faded quickly. Her eyes narrowed, and she glowered at him. "I'll just do the ones he hasn’t been with yet."

Oh, he had touched a nerve, alright, and now he had to deal with a raging girl. But that (hopefully) wouldn't be too much to handle.

"If you say another word about Ron, Malfoy, I—swear—to—God—"

"You'll what?" he interjected quickly, silencing her quivering sentence.

Hermione was too angry to think, too frustrated to realize the stupidity of her actions: she jumped up and ran at him, preparing to knock him to the ground again, but she barely even came in contact with him. As soon as she was in reach he took careful aim and slapped her harshly across the face, stopping her in her tracks. She wobbled, took a few stumbling steps backwards, and glared at him through shining eyes.

"You certainly won't try to run at me again," he sneered.

She fell back against the wall, blinking away the tears and holding her face tenderly. She closed her eyes, seeing red and feeling humiliated. Why had she tried to run at him anyway? He had the advantage; he was stronger, and at the moment he hadn't been starving for nearly three days or laced in painful bruises and other wounds.

"Y-You think you’re so much better than everyone else Malfoy, but hitting a girl puts you right at the bottom. Why don't you go die, ferret face, everyone else could care less about you," she said viciously, glaring at him. It wasn’t the best retort she could summon, but the stabbing pain in her face required so much attention she could barely focus.

She was convinced that he had never hurt like she had; he had never felt so pained on the inside then the outside. For Merlin's sake, the little arsehole was bloody rich and got everything he wanted. He was a snob and she hated him terribly.

He gave a little scoff. "Please Granger, we aren't in grade school anymore. If you're a bitch, you get hit whether you're a girl or a boy, or in your case, a filthy insignificant Mudblood," he spat. He enjoyed the insult Mudblood; he reckoned he could still make her cry if he used it at the right time.

Her eyes narrowed to slits. "Oh, so if I'm a Mudblood I get my own gender? Goody, I've always wanted to be special!" she said sarcastically. "Just sod off Malfoy, go back to whatever hell you came from. You aren't wanted here."

He smirked. He was enjoying this, making her seething mad, her eyes bright with anger and her face contorted in rage. He had never seen her like that before, but he was keen on knowing he was the only one that made her flare up like that.

"I may not be wanted here, but I'm the one with the wand, remember? I stay if I want, and at the moment I'm not leaving," he said, sitting down at the rickety table. She crossed her arms, her brow furrowed.

"Even in the presence of a Mudblood? Wow, you sure fooled me. Usually whenever something dangerous is near you, you go running to dear ol' daddy. Are you sure little Mudblood Granger isn't going to hurt you?" she taunted.

The feeling was mutual. She had never seen such hatred in his eyes before, and she craved to bring it out and make him mad. It was deliciously satisfying to make him heatedly irritated, even though she was in potential danger.

"Have you honestly run out of things to make me mad to resort to mentioning my father? Seriously, I didn't think even you would run out that quickly," he said calmly, still able to keep his mind from blurting out.

He knew her tactic. The feeling they both had for each other was the same, fiery, passionate hate. When one got mad, the other was happy. He knew she was trying to get him angry like he had done to her. He watched her, amused, and she bit her lip and looked lost for a moment, obviously searching her mind for something to retort back with. Suddenly her eyes were bright with revenge.

"I only say anything about him because you model yourself after him. Yes yes, I know I've already said this before, Malfoy, but it's so entertaining to watch how you try to be him. He's an evil, cruel bastard who threatens and murders. And whilst you just act like a rich, snobbish prat you’re a little 5-year-old girl at heart. You pretend to be him. But you aren't anything like him and I find it amusing enough because you seem almost intimidated by your father.

"What's wrong, Malfoy? Competition for the family fortune? Well keep calm, I'm sure Voldemort will just kill both your parents off in the end," she said with a shrug, a smile tugging at her lips. Draco sat still, staring back at her, his face completely detached, but his eyes were boring dangerously into hers. Hermione was pleased with herself; she had accomplished her task.

"What's wrong, ferret face? Kneazle got your tongue?" she mocked lightly.

She didn't know how she did it; her body was weak from the lack of food and her mind had been buzzing with nothing but things about the bloody journal, but now she was working brilliantly and making her enemy mad at the same time. But mad wasn't the adjective strong enough to describe how he looked. He looked like he was literally ready to kill her.

She watched him as he got up, walking slowly over to her, pulling out his wand, his eyes flashing. Fear started to grow in the pit of her stomach and she felt as if maybe she had gone a bit too far.

"Internus flammo," he hissed through a severely clenched jaw.

A jet of bright blue light sprang from his wand and hit her in the pit of her stomach, making her jump like she had been punched. For a moment, nothing happened, and she looked at him with an almost smug expression of mockery. But from the triumphant smirk on his face, his eyebrows raised in anticipation, she knew something was going to happen.

Something bad.

Pain like she had never imagined started in her stomach, spreading out through her body in waves, through her veins, washing over her like wild fire, making her spine curl backwards in pain. She wasn't aware of anything anymore as the consuming pain spread, hitting every nerve in her body like a knife, stabbing, burning, constantly getting worse. She didn't know anything anymore except what was happening, the blinding pain that was clawing up her body to shred. The intensity of her agony got higher and higher, and she didn't know how much more she could take without going insane with the painful wrath Draco had unleashed on her. She was screaming, withering in unimaginable pain.

But as soon as it started, it was fading away, and whence it had gone there was a dull ache throughout her body that was still incredibly painful. She realized she was sprawled on the ground, tears down her face, her hands gripping her scalp tightly, trying to keep her focused on the matter at hand. She let go of herself, and with a deep shuddering breath she understood what happened after a moment.

Shaking immensely, she pushed herself back up and looked at him, now feeling quite small and extremely scared of him. She had to admit it, that one spell had hurt just as badly as the Cruciatus Curse, if not worse. Her head was throbbing tremendously, a migraine starting and spreading, and she longed to rub her temples but she barely had the energy to sit up, let alone lift her arms.

"Don't mess with me again, Granger," he hissed, standing over her, his wand still pointed at her, glaring down at her dangerously.

She looked at him, trembling, and she knew that he had a point. It might've just been for her sanity that he said it, but she took his warning, making a note never to say anything to him again even relating to his parents. She doubted herself that she would even be throwing insults at him anymore. She was terrified of him now, they both knew that. She looked away from him, shutting her eyes, her hair swinging in her face.

"Look at me when I'm talking to you, Mudblood," he growled.

She refused to even regard what he had said, and she kept her eyes on the floor, her body shaking. Like the crack of a whip, he grabbed her by the collar and pulled her up the wall, her back scraping painfully. He held her tightly by the neck a few inches above the ground, forcing her to look him square in the eyes.

"If you ever associate my parents, the Dark Lord, and myself again, I swear, I don't know what I'll do to you but you can bet you'll just barely be alive when I'm done with you. A bitch like you won't last long on the dark side, but I promise you, Granger, that I'll be there to laugh when you're screaming," he snarled viciously, his silver eyes cutting into her auburn ones.

With that, he let her go and backed away from her slowly, watching her sink to the floor and cry silently into her knees. She deserved it, he thought to himself finally. With a last look at her, he turned and left the room, not another word spoken. The door slammed shut, and he was gone.

Even after he had left she still sobbed; she was so scared, so alone, so helpless. She couldn't do anything anymore. She couldn't defend herself or fight back, and when she used words she felt like it might've been better to feel hurt on the inside rather than feel beaten. Draco was probably right, she wasn't likely to last all that long if she was to become a Death Eater.

But she was still mildly curious about that subject. How could they force her into it? And if she was supposed to live with the Malfoys, wouldn't she be able to escape somehow? How did they intend on making her do things for Voldemort? Even if she figured out how to use her powers that she knew lie dormant somewhere inside of her, what use would they be to him?

So what, she could do something that made an immortal drink, big deal. If Harry was dead, (which Hermione absolutely refused to even think it was a possibility) Voldemort would be ruling, and without her he could reign freely and control everyone again. The Ministry and many of the Aurors couldn't do anything about the Death Eaters, they were outnumbered and the Dark Army was extremely powerful. So what was her purpose now in life? What was she going to do?

What were the Death Eaters going to do to her?

The gaping hole of unknown information was scaring her. If only she were back at Hogwarts, she could research everything and prepare herself, but that wasn't an option anymore. She had to make due of the sources she had. So far, the only sources she had were Draco and Troy. She hadn't seen Troy in nearly three or four days, and the last time he seemed just a bit funny. But if she could get something out of him, then maybe she would know what was coming.

But honestly, she was afraid of the truth. What if she had to murder? What if she had to torture? What if they found a way to force her to create the Elixir of Life? And her scariest thought of all: the Dark Arts she would learn and possibly use, what if she suddenly started to enjoy it?

-
-x-x-x-
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Author's Notes:
I had fun writing this chapter! I'll tell you what the spell meant, but hardly any of the other times that use Latin, you'll have to look it up yourself!

Internus Flammo means Internal Flame, which is actually kind of obvious. So, there's your spell; it's another Dark spell.

Thank you to A Roses Innocence for betaing this for me.

And sorry about the wait folks!

Please review!


Chapter 11: Be Careful What you Wish For
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. But Troy Malfoy is my invention, thanks.



And more astrology stuff in here. If I'm wrong about it, someone correct me because I'm a bit of an idiot. And yes, the thirteenth house is deliberate, so don't correct me on that because I put that in there myself.



Enjoy the story!



The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

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((--Chapter Eleven--))
Be Careful What You Wish For




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Sunday, October 25
Day 8



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Hell was a place described in many books, in many theories. The inferno, searing flames, where the damned live; Hell.  



But no one knew, no one at all.



Searing flames was the Welcome mat of Hell when you stepped to its front door. It was only just the beginning. No one had lived long enough to get inside.



Souls: burning, disintegrating, disappearing all too quickly. Only those with the inhuman power to feel the fire licking at their soles and still want to go on went through, but never came back. It took more than just the Seven Deadly sins to realize the torment and excruciating nature of Hell. 



If one got in, they weren't demons. They weren't evil spirits, nightmares wandering the world, knocking over dream catchers and throwing bad dreams into the head of an innocent. They didn't do any of that.



Because of the rumors, the spitefulness of the angels, the mockery of Halloween, and the banishment by God, Hell was nothing anyone could imagine. One wasn’t who they thought they were – everything was a lie. Every bit of food that they miraculously tasted was sludge in disguise. One thought they were eating something delicious, but in the meantime they slowly wasted away, their internal organs dissolving, killing them from the inside out.



No one has any idea.



And once one died after they entered Hell, they left and joined the millions of other slaves working to create a bigger fire to shine at the Gates of Hell. The fire didn't hurt, oh no, but the ground was shining with the blood of the many sinners. The ground they would walk upon burns into the feet of many, pulling them deeper into the pit of the earth, the fiery molten lava slowly mixing, slowly burning, getting bigger, and threatening more and more life.



Hell isn't the fire and eternal torture everyone imagines. It was made from every bit of pain that anyone and everyone has ever experienced. If someone sinned, they felt the pain of the entire world, a thousand times worse. One could call it torture, but it was more the truth than anything.



They faced it, and it hurt more than anyone thought.



For every malicious remark, every snide comment and hateful insult thrown, the emotional pains create the burning apocalypse underneath the surface of the earth. For every slap across the face, sharp kick, punch and any kind of abuse, one felt it down there, in Hell. For every stab to the side, every blow to the face, every time blood trickled away, one felt it. No one can escape the pain.



One felt it forever.



They knew the truth, the ugliness of the world, the horrifying painting blazing before their eyes. They knew then who had deceived them, who had been trying to help, who acted a certain way and why, and what you did to deserve it. They found out the mortifying and horrific things about themselves that no one knew.



Sometimes, the truth hurts worse.



No one could get away.



No one would live.



-x-x-x-




"What are you doing here?" Hermione asked as Troy walked through the door, shutting it quietly.



He was carrying what looked like a paper bag; when he saw her interest he smirked and tossed it to her. She ripped it open to reveal two apples, and with a ravenous appetite, she devoured them within minutes. He sat down at the table and watched her, looking mildly disgusted.



"You look much better by wand light, you know," he said thoughtfully after a moment. She scoffed, crumpling the paper bag. The two pieced of fruit had not ended her hunger, but they had diminished it, breaking her dizziness.



"What a surprise," she said sarcastically.



Troy had a dark grey jumper on with a thick black cloak over it; his cheeks were flushed, his hair falling askew over his forehead but he looked joyful enough. Something apparently had him in a good mood. If he didn't resemble Draco so much, she would've said he was almost attractive.



Almost.



"In this light, you look dreadful," he said, no hint of guilt in his voice. She gave him a cross look but remained silent. "You're covered in filth, Granger. Really, do you just roll around on the floor all day?" He smirked at her wry look.



"I'm not a dog, for your information. But no, I guess a bloody week without proper washing would get a person a bit dirty, don't you think?" she snapped. He smiled.



 He actually smiled.



"No need to bite, Granger, I'm just saying—"



"Well don't. I can't help it if I'm covered in grime, but from living in this bloody place for eight days do you blame me? Either let me do something about it, or shut your mouth," she retorted angrily, crossing her arms over her chest, and ignoring the painful twinge.



She hadn't been in such a good mood when she had woken up, and her burning hunger hadn't helped either; but having him tell her that she was completely covered in rubbish just pissed her off.



"Do you want one? A bath?" he asked. She looked at him strangely. "There isn't anyone here today, everyone's off completing pla—, well just off doing things. Draco isn't even here. Just the minors today. But since I'm in such a good mood," he flashed a handsome smile; "I wouldn't mind doing something to your convenience. It isn't like its hurting anything, is it?" he asked mischievously. She continued to look at him in an odd way.



"Are you saying that you're willing to do something for me? But why?" she asked suspiciously. He shrugged.



"I dunno. I'm not as cruel as the rest of my family. Sure, we've all got the same impulsive behavior, but I don't keep being mean for the hell of it. It's too hard a job, being a bully," he said simply.



"Yeah, tell that to Malfoy," she muttered darkly to herself.



"Why do you call him that? Malfoy?" he inquired. Hermione thought for a second, trying to summarize why she hated him in as few words as possible. She realized she could do no such thing, and settled for something else.



"Because it's just a mutual thing. He calls me Granger, I call him Malfoy. He hasn't once called me Hermione in my life, and I'm trying my hardest never to say Draco," she said, and then shuddered. She didn't want to think about the day before when Draco had cursed her with the worse spell of her life.



Quickly pushing him from her mind, she said, "Okay, so getting back to the previous subject." She smiled hopefully.



"Yeah, that. So, how about an hour then? I mean, I reckon you could use it," he said lightly, running a hand through his hair. A gracious smile spread across her face.



"If you weren't a Malfoy, I'd tell you I loved you," she breathed. He started to laugh.



-x-x-x-




They were walking down the long, hollowed-out hallway in the midst of the mountain. Although Hermione barely had the energy to walk, Troy still kept a firm grip on her arm.



To her amazement, the hallway was lit up, almost bright, with the daylight. She guessed it was the afternoon, but wasn’t exactly sure. It could always be artificial light, just there to trick her. But why would they go through so much trouble just so she couldn’t determine the time of day?



"So why are you in such a good mood? I haven't seen you for a while, and you just kind of, well, turned up out of nowhere," she cautioned to say, unsure if this would provoke anger, or worse, trouble. She didn't know what could happen to her now, and anything she might do might make her forfeit her good fortune.



"Well, my girlfriend was in Russia for two months. She got back earlier today around eleven. I gave her a bit of a treat, if you know what I mean," he boasted, sounding impeccably proud.



Hermione rolled her eyes; apparently all the Malfoy minds worked alike.



There was a minute of tense silence before she said anything else, though it was completely off topic.



"So, is the plumbing any good here?" Hermione asked in quiet wonder. Troy pulled out his wand, and waved it in her face.



"A little magic never does anybody any harm," he said with a smirk.



Their path started slanting upwards, and for ten more minutes they climbed up the slowly ascending path. Finally, he stopped her in front of a door.



"Don't be afraid to gasp because I'm even surprised they got this working," he admitted. He reached for the doorknob, and just for the suspense he looked at her, his eyes taunting her, and she gave him an impatient look. He smirked, and swung open the door, and she peered in.



It was almost like a regular bathroom: a large, deep white marble bath, the sink with its mirror, and a toilet. That was about it, nothing spectacular about it. The pipes coming out of the wall looked like they could use a bit of fixing; several were leaking from the sink, and there was a small pool around the feet of the bath.



But to her, it didn't matter. She just stood there, frozen as a statue as she looked in. Subconsciously she felt Troy take the bag from around her wrist and look through it. He took out something long and thin, and instantly it caught her eye. She looked at it, both amazed and feeling extremely stupid.



It was her wand.



At least, it looked like it. The only difference was that it had three clear rings around it. Holding the counterfeit wand, (which Hermione figured was an imitation anyways) he murmured a spell.



"Siccus."



A quick burst of dim blue light hit the fake wand and it momentarily glowed blue, almost absorbing the color before returning to normal. Troy handed the phony one to her.



"It's what I call a one-use wand. See, it has the basic essence of a normal wand, but it can only perform one spell." he explained as she looked at him like he was insane. "Siccus is just a simple drying spell. Because I supplied a spell for it, it's the only charm it can perform at all, so you couldn't use it to stun me," he finished. She took it from him curiously, feeling suddenly overwhelmed.



He shoved the bag into her hands, pushed her into the room, and backed out. "I'll be locking you in here. An hour, at most, so try to keep the time in mind, Granger," he said as he shut the door. She nodded slowly, and as he sealed the door shut with a squelch and she listened as he walked away.



She turned and looked at her surroundings again. How had she gotten so lucky? Was it just an extremely fortunate coincidence, or was this planned? She tried to think about it, but she just couldn't. None of it seemed to matter more than sinking into hot water and relaxing.



Slowly, she walked over to the mirror over the sink and looked at her reflection and almost shrieked. Her hair was wild, frizzy and caked with blood and grime. Her face was streaked with both blood and dirt. She thought she still might've had the bruises, but she couldn't see them at the moment. Her shirt was ripped and dirty, and she could see the slight pulse of her original wound as it shined white.



She looked down at her hands, still wrapped up in the cloth. There were large blood stains on it, nearly brown with two days’ age. She glanced at her skirt and legs. The skirt was ripped, as was her shirt, and her legs were just as dirty as the rest of her face and body. She could also make out some faint outlines of bruises under the grime.



She frowned; it was worse than she could've imagined. She was treated like dirt, but now she was given the off-chance to clean herself up. She didn't know what to expect of it, and she wasn't sure of the outcome. But she figured she might as well just take the chance. 



-x-x-x-




An hour later Troy came back and knocked on the door. He waited until he had heard her say it was alright before unlocking it and stepping in. 



She scrubbed furiously every inch of her skin twice, some parts three times to get her body cleaner than it had ever been. She had washed her hair twice, and then washed all of her clothes.



The fake wand Troy had handed her could perform countless Drying Charms over and over, and since she had items in the bag to clean everything, she could clean herself and her clothes without being wet from the water. Her hair was long and sleek, easily tamed and pulled back in some string she had found. The bruises on her legs were dark, but fading quickly, and the one on her cheekbone was a light yellow, but nearly gone.



As Troy looked her over with an expression of approval, she smiled, her teeth brighter. She was grateful for all that she had been given, but still, she was extremely suspicious.



What was with the sudden gifts? Weren't the people that had kidnapped her all Death Eaters? Weren't they supposed to be evil? And yet, here were conveniences and personal items to her joy, all collected and waiting for her use. None of it added up, and she was still missing vital pieces of information before she could deduce a logical theory as to what the hell was going on.



She had removed the bandages from her hands. The deep gashes she originally had were gone now, but in their place were marks the size of dimes on both the backs and palms of her hands, pulsing dimly white. She wondered if she'd be getting anymore strange cuts like that from nightmares, but she hoped not.



Troy looked her over, commenting she looked good enough to fool around with, but she just rolled her eyes and laughed. She was in a good mood also; the steaming hot water helped her to relax.



Troy brought her back to the room with little conversation, and she somehow found her situation a bit brighter. It wasn't so bad at the moment; after all, she had just received a token of good luck. But even she knew better than to expect that for long. Even in Hogwarts if one or more days went unexplainably well, you were bound for something horrible in the future.



Troy opened the door noiselessly and pushed her in.



"Good luck," was all he said with a sly grin as he pulled the door shut. Hermione could hear him walking down the corridor.



"Good luck for what?" she asked herself, puzzled.



Still suspicious, she sat down on the edge of the mattress and stared at the floor. Now she had nothing to do. She had plenty of free time to herself, and silently she decided to just think about everything she knew so far.



What she knew about herself: she was a Lumerous witch, nothing more. Her only discovered power was her healing tears. And what did she know about being a Lumerous witch? She would most likely be making an Elixir of Life somehow for Voldemort, though she still had no clue how they would force her into it. She knew the ceremony had a lot to do with astrology and astronomy, divination and myths. It was confusing. She sighed; she wanted that journal back with all the notes about the ceremony. She could've occupied her time with that.



She was still wondering about the journal when a thought drifted across her mind. She remembered reading somewhere in the entry with the smudged writing that the thirteenth house opened on October 31, or Halloween.  But... there were only twelve houses on the earth. The Earth was divided into twelve sections, like a clock. There couldn't be any room for another house. So what could possibly be the thirteenth house? And what did it represent?



She realized she was getting too worked up over her thoughts. Calmly, she thought to herself how she could get answers, and at the moment the only thing to do was to rack her mind for what she knew about the houses. Houses were distinguished by where they were on the earth, when and how the sun dawned on them, and the house planets that rose with their dawn.



She thought hard about the information she had. Where else did the sun hit that wasn't already claimed as a house? What unnamed planets rose with the thirteenth dawn that wasn't already taken? How could she possibly figure this entire problem out?



As the day passed by, she got herself more and more frustrated over the subject. She just tried to stop thinking about it, because she had no evidence to help point her in the right direction. Although she had never let a problem alone before, this time was an exception. She had no books to help her along, no one to question and use their opinion to help her think. No, she had no one; she couldn't ask for theories, and she could barely think without proper information. So she let it go, like it was nothing, even though inside she was letting herself down immensely.



She leaned against the bars of the window, watching the sun sink into the hills, a blood red sunset quickly dissolving into the clouds. If she listened hard enough against the crickets and noises of the mass forest hundreds of feet below her window, she could hear voices, talking, laughing, and yelling. Voices of many people, their ages mixed from youth to mid-life. She didn't know who exactly they were individually, but together as a group she knew.



They were the Death Eaters, back from a day of their life, doing whatever they had to for the Dark Lord that day, carrying out plans, as Troy had nearly said outright. But she knew what he was going to say, there wasn't much to hide from her anymore, because her life was condemned. Even if she had secrets, they wouldn't be of any use to her anymore. She had no one to hide behind anymore.



She really was alone.



She laced her fingers around the bars and pressed her face between the shafts holding her in. There wasn't any use, the hole was too small anyway. The chilly breeze whipped lightly at her face, and she closed her eyes and relaxed. The rare moments like that were perfect: everything was serene, calm and peaceful. She wondered briefly whether Hogwarts was in a frenzy or peaceful with her absence. There wasn't anything to break the silence, or the quiet reverie she was in.



"Granger, think fast!"



Except him.



Hermione turned around just in time to duck and shriek as a paper bag flew at her. She shot Draco a glare, who had a smug look on his face. She snatched it, and like Troy had brought to her, there were two apples, though bruised. She sighed and grabbed one, devouring it while leaning against the window again. She was completely ignoring Draco for the time being, who had sat down at the table, a grin on his face.



Wiping the dripping apple juice from her cheeks, she tried to act as if he did not intimidate her. So she asked, "So where were you today? Troy said you weren't here."



She kept looking out the window as she said this, not wanting to look at him. The sun had completely gone down now, and the room flickered with the dim torchlight. Even if the hidden fear deep inside her was on her face, he would not be able to see it in this poor light.



"Lumos," he murmured, getting up from the table and walking towards her. "Nowhere in particular, just off doing things," he answered lightly. Still, his casual, slightly amicable words did not fool her; she could hear the deceit behind his voice, and she knew something would be happening tonight.



She noticed the wand light getting brighter, and she knew he was moving closer to her. Her heart hammered against her ribcage, in fear or something else, she couldn’t tell, but she determinedly kept her gaze out the window. She felt Draco put his hand on her shoulder, gripping it gently, and warmth started to spread down her arm. Unable to assure herself that her heart wasn’t as loud as it seemed to be, she turned and looked at him, finding him gazing intently at her, his face looming close to hers. If he listened closely, maybe he'd be able to hear her heart roaring.



"You look decent, Granger, what happened?" he asked. She couldn’t look at him, not into his intense gaze where he would rip apart her mind and find the answers. She looked away quickly, breathing jaggedly, but answered smoothly.

"Troy let me wash up, is all. He said it wouldn't do any harm." Draco had taken his hand off of her shoulder, but she could still feel his lingering gaze stronger than the cold spot on her shoulder.

"Well he was right. It did no harm at all. In fact..."

He moved towards her quickly, and Hermione knew at once what he was about to do. She shoved him away at once, not trusting herself to do anything but get away from him.

"Don't even try to touch me," she hissed, a storm of emotions rising in her chest. Confusion danced across his features for only a moment, before he was smirking again. He stepped up to her again, closer than before, and she watched him through narrow eyes.

He lowered his face to hers. "Who do you think you're joking, Granger? You want me," he whispered, leaning in to kiss her.

She swallowed the fear in her throat, and pushed him away.

"Stop lying to yourself, and listen to me," he said suavely, taking a step closer to her.

She gave him a horrified look as she realized his intentions. She knew this meant trouble; part of her had been starved for so long, and this primal fear of Malfoy ran so deep. She uttered a petrified noise and turned to spring away from him, but he had sensed her thoughts and stepped in front of her.

"I don't know why you resist me, Granger," he whispered, smirking. She shuddered, both scared and revolted, and tried to find a way to escape, but only backed against the wall.

"Just go away!" she shrieked, wanting to rush past him.



"Come on, stop being so finicky. There isn't anyone else you'll be seeing more than me. Why not just give it a try with me?" he suggested in a whisper. She trembled, and he saw it, but she only felt the disgust evident inside of her.

"Forget it Malfoy," she spat. He laughed softly, sending shivers up her spine.

"A bit more persuasion, then?" he drawled. This was challenge to him; he enjoyed a problem just waiting to be solved. And to his leader, she was the biggest problem of all.

He took a step closer to her, and her eyes became round. "Why not? Our relationship wouldn't change. I still hate you, you still hate me; no differences, none at all. You'd be getting back at Weasel-bee, making him jealous. There wouldn't be any ties to me at all, since it would be a way to spend your time. And since you've got a lot of time, I presume, we would enjoy ourselves," Malfoy whispered suggestively.

Hermione was stuck, and terrified. She had spent her energy, and now, she was trembling against the wall. She despised him, yes, but that wasn’t the matter at hand. He would be relentless, suggesting this until he found himself too impatient to wait, and he would force himself on her.

She could not respond, finding herself lost in confusion and fear, and some fiery feeling deep inside her. Malfoy wanted her, and she knew that. And Merlin how she hated him, how she did not want him or this subject anywhere near her. But it was in her face, and so was he. There was only one choice, and it was one that she refused to make. She was too weak to stop him, both physically and mentally.

He laughed softly at her quiet, sob-like noises of distress. She was determined to find a way out of this, but couldn’t.

"A purely physical relationship, nothing more," he repeated softly, whispering to her persuasively.

He took her hand, and lowered his face to hers. Hermione refused to look up at his looming face but not able to find the strength to pull her hand away from his.

"Think about it. Stop being such a goody," he said, sneering slightly.

It was all she needed. She ripped her hand away, and he looked almost as angry as she felt. He should've kept up with the niceties, she thought dryly to herself.

"It isn't about being a goody, Malfoy! It's about where my loyalties lie! I vowed never to do anything with you!" she said fiercely. He sensed her discomfort, and smiled darkly.

"So to whom are you still loyal, Granger? You won't be seeing anyone at school ever again," he reminded her sharply. She opened her mouth to protest, but he cut her off; "And don't even think about saying Weasley. He's probably getting it on with the Patil twins at the moment, so I wouldn’t pretend to dream that he still cares about you," he said harshly.

"Ron would never," she said in a low, trembling voice, staring angrily into Malfoy's sharp silver eyes.

"How would you know?" he sneered. "He ditched you because you're a goody! He wanted someone he could bed easily and apparently it wasn't even going to be you! If he loved you—"

"You don't know anything about love, Malfoy!"

"Whatever. Let me just say that from everything I've heard about it, most of the time, it's shit! You never end up happy! He claimed he loved you? Well, then why'd he ditch you for some floozy? Face it Granger, he didn't love you at all!"

Hermione's emotions were raging, and she felt too many things at once to pick out a certain feeling for the moment. "So don't tell me your loyalties are still with him, because both of us know it isn't true!" he spat, wishing he could shake her silly. She glared up at him, and he knew too that she still didn't accept it as the truth.

But she needed to believe it, and it was up to Draco, and Draco only, to make her consider it true. And the only way he could do this was to hurt her, bad, and blind the light from the truth.

"If he loved you Granger, he would've been here by now, don't you think?" he hissed sharply, cruelly.

The magic words.

The thought had been haunting her from some time now; was she ever going to be rescued? Weren't Harry, Ron and the Order going to come bursting through these cavern walls and bring her to safety? Was anybody even trying? She had no way to know, and yet, she realized the fact that just because they hadn't the opportunity to contact her didn't mean they weren’t looking didn't change how she felt: neglected. Abandoned. Alone.

In a split second she fell against Malfoy, sobbing miserably in acceptance. He gave her the small comfort of his arms around her, and she collapsed against his shoulder. He smiled to himself; he might've been forced to do this, but he felt like it was more of a fun challenge than anything. He soothed her strained noises with exact duplicity, and she sniffled a bit. With a finger under her chin, he lifted her eyes to his.

"So how about my proposition?" he whispered.

She shook her head; "No," and there was a spark of impatience in Malfoy's eyes.

Her voice was thick with anger and sadness alike, but no matter what, even if Malfoy caused her see the truth, she wouldn't be sucked into his seduction, no matter how enticing the foreign feelings were to her.

"I don't care if you confirmed what I already knew, but I won't take part in anything that involves you!" she snarled, now overcome with anger. He was deceiving her, and she was falling for this innocent, helpless façade, and she hated him for it, how easily he could trick her.

He was at the end of his rope, he truly was. Anger flaring from his eyes, he pushed her away in frustration. She stared up at him in fear, her eyes wide, as he came a step closer, a snarl on his lips, eyes bright with malice.

"How much more do you want me to put you through before you give in, Granger? There isn't any use denying me anyways; it isn't like you can run away," he said dangerously.

She was having difficulty breathing, or thinking, or anything at all, quite frankly.

But then he smirked, a brilliant thought blooming in his head. "How about a deal?" he asked, trapping her where she was weakest.

That certainly caught her attention… as he knew it would.

"What kind of deal?" she croaked, her voice slow and scared. The corners of his lips twitched into a sly smiled.

"I'll do something for you, if you partake in this with me," he explained calmly.

She swallowed, thinking. He wasn’t going to give up, not now, not ever. When Malfoy wanted something, he got it. She wouldn't say yes to him unless he truly had something good enough to offer.

And this deal sounded pretty close to that idea. An opportunity to secure facts for herself, to dam the helplessness that was gushing out of her. To give her hope, mercy, security.

Anything and everything, really.

"If I say yes, IF, then along what lines will you do for me?" she asked cautiously, still deep in meticulous thought. Obviously she knew she wouldn't be able ask him to set her free, but maybe, just maybe, she could get what she desperately wanted.

"How about answers? You seem pretty eager for those," he suggested offhandedly.

"Answers?" she whispered hoarsely, her attention caught. He nodded slowly.

She licked her lips nervously, still in uncertain thought. What she wanted most, answers to all of her questions, was right in front of her. She had the opportunity to reach forth and grab it, yet the only thing standing in her way was Draco Malfoy. And he was right; their relationship wouldn't change, they would still hate each other. There wouldn't be any ties to him at all, because frankly Hermione didn't think herself capable for feeling anything for this Malfoy.

Taking a deep breath to rid herself of the fearful feeling in the pit of her stomach, she looked up at him. He was closer than ever, his silver eyes poring into hers, a smug smirk on his face. He knew exactly what she was thinking, and he knew she was going to give in eventually if she got what she wanted.

With a shuddering breath she said, "I'll do it."



-
-x-x-x-
-





Author's Notes: That's done!



I know that this has moved pretty quickly, and it's barely only a week that has gone by and lookie what we have here! A lusty relationship with Draco already! I know this story just throws things in quickly, but from what I've heard people enjoy it. Please, I'd like YOUR input too!



Thank you to A Roses Innocence for betaing this for me! I wouldn’t have made it this far without her! Yaay!



Please review!

Chapter 12: I Realize This
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. I do however, own Troy Malfoy.

This chapter, err.... well there isn't any sex in it. But this is one of the extremely heavy snogging scenes, just for warning.

And now, I'll leave you with the story....

The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

-
((--Chapter Twelve--))
I Realize This


-

Sunday, October 25
Day 8


-

"Answers?" she whispered hoarsely, her attention caught. He nodded slowly.

She licked her lips, still lost in uncertainty. What she wanted most, answers to all of her questions, was right in front of her. She had the opportunity to reach forth and grab it; the only thing standing in her way was Draco Malfoy. And he was right: their relationship wouldn't change. They would still hate each other. There wouldn't be any ties to him at all, because frankly Hermione didn't think herself capable for feeling anything for this Malfoy.

Taking a deep breath to rid herself of the fear in the pit of her stomach, she looked up at him. He was closer than ever, his silver eyes pouring into hers, a smug smirk on his face. He knew exactly what she was thinking, and he knew she was going to give in eventually if she got what she wanted.

With a shuddering breath she said, "I'll do it."


-

Draco smiled in triumph, and she felt her skin begin to crawl, feeling as if he knew a very nasty secret about her. She felt nauseated, and surely she hadn't agreed, surely it was just a vision, a dream. Her sight was blurry, her blinking made the world fuzzier and her body started to weaken beneath her. But as she watched Draco in almost slow motion lean down to claim her lips, everything suddenly started flying back at her.

What had she agreed too? A relationship with him? Then the disgust, the overwhelming self-hatred started to seep through her, and she felt more violated by the proposition he offered than by his actions. He leaned down to kiss her, but with all the aversion in her body, she shoved him away.

"This is ridiculous, Malfoy. I—forget about it. I won't do this," she spluttered, shuddering.

"You won't, but I will," he spat. "You agreed, Mudblood, so don’t forget your place!"

"You can't make me do anything," she growled. "It was a moment of stupidity, and God knows that we all have them, maybe you more than others, Malfoy."

"We both know I can make you do anything I want," he said slowly, his voice cold and his face stony. "I've got a wand, and you're weaker than me. Don't argue."

"You're such a coward," she accused him, trying to shove all this self-humiliation on him. "Attacking lesser beings—what, did you torture bugs when you were young, too?"

Snarling, he grabbed her arm and with a thrust, she tripped and fell to the floor beside him. "We had a deal, so don’t be as stupid to think you aren't getting what you want out of this, Granger."

"I'm aware of that, but I don’t care," she retorted, glaring up at him. "I don’t need to know everything there is to know to stay alive in here. I know how to survive, and surviving doesn’t involve you."

He smiled, his eyes holding no humor but dark amusement. "So ignorance is bliss, now? To you, it doesn’t matter the way you die because, in fact, you'd rather not know? You’d rather stuff your head with so many possibilities that when your death comes you won't be able to sort them out in time to save yourself?"

She was still for a long moment, her eyes sharp but her heart faint. She ignored the quivering inside of her, and focused on keeping calm. "I'm not going to die, Malfoy," she said in a low voice at last. "Voldemort needs me; he wouldn’t kill me, so I needn't worry."

Malfoy's silver eyes gleamed. "There is more than one way to die, Granger. Death does not always mean dead," he said in a quiet voice, malice in his stare. She suddenly felt inferior to him, sitting on the floor in the dirt, and didn't like it. "Surely you must know that."

She stood indignantly and walked away from him, fighting her conscience. Malfoy had an annoyingly logical point; torture, both mental and physical, would eventually kill something inside of her, if not her life.

But then, Hermione had already suffered a great deal, and not only just there, in the hellish prison she was in. So many times she had to endure taunts and jeers, fights and arguments, that her mind was already well acquainted with dealing with things like torture.

Yet had she ever experienced pain at a higher level? Could she be in for a worse fate than she thought, a sojourn in immense, excruciating pain? Or would she be dangling from a thin thread between insanity and miserable pain, one she could not escape? The possibilities were endless, and she hated that. Staying here, she was at least aware that no matter what went on, she would be in a perpetually uncomfortable situation.

Could she actually take the chance to sidestep that, and be free of the pain she might experience?

She hadn't realized how violent her internal struggle had been; the raging twists of emotion had instigated a quake to take over her body. Unable to stop shaking, she clenched her body as tightly as she could and breathed, purifying herself from worried thoughts and clouded conclusions.

"Fine," she heard herself say, and wished that she could take it back. But she had agreed to his proposition, again. There was no turning back now and no matter how hard she tried to see the upside to this, she would never find her actions voided in exchange for reaching a certain destination.

A short chuckle escaped his mouth, and it sent a wave of disgust over her. He approached her slowly, and she grew tenser with each step he took. His fingers brushed her shoulder, tracing the contours of her starving skin, before latching onto her bone and forcing her to turn around.

Refusing to let him see the defeat in her eyes, she turned away from him, hating herself more with each passing second. He clamped his fingers down on her jaw and jerked her head up; he wanted her to know how inevitable it was, that he would win, no matter how she tried. She gave him a sharp look filled with disgust, and his lips curled into a wicked smile.

Prying her jaw apart, she let him ravage her mouth, with such ferocity that it was alarming, as self-punishment. If she had been stronger, cleverer than he, as she had always fought to be, then this wouldn’t have happened. It was her fault that this was happening, and she compelled her mind to be acutely aware of what was happening as punishment.

Malfoy was going faster and becoming brutal in his movement. He was not kissing her, he was biting. His claw-like hands pulled her body against his and then shoved her against the wall, leaving her no room for comfort. She did nothing to fight it, and instead let the strength she wanted to fight overcome her. He dug nails into her skin, scraping them over her sides and gripping her painfully.

He ran his hands up her arms, and she noted faintly the tiny calluses on his fingers. His palms rounded her shoulders, pulling at her shoulders blades for a moment before they went around her neck, as if to choke her. The breath hitched in her throat for a moment, before she strained for breath, unable to breathe due to his fierce kissing. His hands slid beneath the collar of her ragged shirt, and without understanding how he did it, her shirt was pooled around her feet.

She was shivering now, but unable to do a thing about it. Malfoy's hands were at work, his mouth pinning her down more than any other part of him, and her mind was in a panic. She hated him, but detested herself more for being so weak. Still, though, she knew the difference between accepting punishment and accepting abuse. His rough hands and strong will was dancing on the line between them, as faint as it was, and Hermione was at a loss of direction.

He broke the kiss abruptly, and Hermione almost thought he was done before he clamped down on her neck. She took to gasping right away, trying to gain back all the breath that she had been denied while he kissed her. Dizziness fogged her mind, and she steadied herself slowly. Malfoy worked on her neck like a vampire, biting, seizing as much throat as he could in a single bite; his hands kneaded her sides like a cat with claws sharp enough to slice metal.

She wanted to get away, she really did. But no matter how hard she willed herself to move, to just fight, some part of her came screaming back in protest of her decision, claiming that this was what she deserved, she had to allow his advances and take them with as much dignity that she could.

It wasn’t making any sense to her at all, none. She wanted out, and her mind screamed leave! but another part demanded that she stay. It was a furious battle inside of her, and she was shaking in rage at her inept ability to making decisions, before she suddenly came to a conclusion that somehow made sense.

She liked it.

With a gasp of horror Hermione yelped, and her spirit burst with terrifying energy. She threw Malfoy off, springing away from him once she was able to. She trembled, her knees weaker than they had been and her eyes wide and frightened. She clutched her neck, quivering on the spot, forgetting about preserving her modesty or what she could possibly do to keep him away for good.

Malfoy appeared impassive, but wiping his mouth, he glared at her with undeniable anger. He stared at her for a moment, and again Hermione was reminded of a cat, finally having caught its prey and deciding what way to kill it would be most amusing. She was breathing jaggedly, shards of panic creeping into her voice.

"Well?" She flinched at his voice, taking an uneasy step backwards. He grinned, cat-like and sly, and suddenly started flailing his arms. Hermione jumped away, her arms around herself protectively, shielding her torso as if to stop a weapon. Malfoy almost laughed at her edginess.

"It took you long enough to fight," he drawled, walking lazily toward her; she tensed up and was ready to scramble away from him at any moment. "In fact, it was so long that I think you might've enjoyed it."

"Liar," she blurted before she could stop herself. She gulped a shuddering breath. "You're just playing tricks with me, I'm not a fool," she snarled. "I hated it."

"Tell me, are you assuring me or yourself?" he asked in mock curiosity, eyes alight with entertainment.

"Stop it!" she screamed at him, shaking uncontrollably. Logic was escaping her mind and she was spinning out control; she was hanging onto the edge of sanity, nearly swallowed up by a monstrous vertigo. The impossible fact that she took involuntary pleasure his actions scared her to a point of deliriousness.

He took a step towards her, his fingers curling under her arm and pulling her against him, and she knew no more logic. Her mind went swerving out of her control and whether or not he proceeded to do as he liked, she was unaware. Nothing made sense, and she had no more recollection of any event that took place.

She was weak, and that was all that mattered.

-x-x-x-


October 26
Monday, Day 9


There were hours and hours, minutes on end, perpetual moments when all Hermione could do was mull over her thoughts, dark as they were. She was left to ponder herself, why she was alive, why she wasn’t dead, the hazardous position she was in. But most of all… why.

Why her? Why not some other girl, in a place she had never been, would never consciously go, had never heard of, would never hear of? Why did it have to be her, friend of Harry Potter and smartest witch of the century, as so many had told her?

The question seemed inexplicable and frustrated her beyond belief, and she cast her thoughts to another part of her brain that she would very much like to avoid: Malfoy.

Malfoy was coming today, and he would be here, and she didn't know what she was going to do.

He was going to carry out their deal, and she wanted to mull over that, the possibilities of it. Their previous encounter left her feeling weaker than any sort of helpless creature, and dirtier than the mud that they said was in her veins. She couldn't let that happen again, and couldn’t let herself feel like she did before. But how could she prevent such a thing that escaped her logic?

She had felt so disgusted with herself because he had complete dominance over her, and she had been weak; she hadn't been able to punish herself properly, and it resulted in this nasty situation.

She knew Malfoy was stronger than her. He had physical control over her, over the kissing, over the deal, and he would soon have control over her mind if she didn't fight him.

Fight... the word rang through her head like somehow had struck a bell, its resonance pure and ethereal.

Fight.

Fight; that was his game, they were fighting. It was all just a game to him. She had lost before, she had let him win. Malfoy had left bruises and bite marks on her as his symbol of victory. When he left that day, she would make sure he had the teeth marks engraved in his skin, not hers.

Her mind drifted automatically to the first few days of her stay. She remembered that when she woke, she had been fit and energized; she had fought Malfoy. Why hadn't she been fighting yesterday? Had she lost everything? She had no dignity, no friends, no love, nothing.

All of it was gone because of her weakness.

What more did she have? Faith? The will to fight? What could she have faith in? Ron and Harry weren’t coming, no one was. She was almost positive that Troy spoke the truth: they were using her as a trap for Harry. Because of Hermione, Harry would meet his death.

Harry would meet his death.

All because of her. It was all her fault. All her fault...

But she ignored the guilty stabbing feeling; turning her thoughts away, she found that she couldn’t handle anything at the moment; she could barely handle that fact that for once, she was beaten. Or the acknowledgement that Malfoy was stronger than her. She had to learn how to fight, and quickly. She would beat Malfoy at his own game, because seeing her lose, seeing her whimper and cower in pain was his amusement. Seeing him lose was her amusement. She had to beat him.

Malfoy would lose.

She was sure of that now. If she pushed herself hard enough, she would beat him. It wouldn’t take that much, and he knew not to mess with her. She had proved herself dangerous when she impaled him, and on several other occasions.

Why hadn't she thought of this sooner? Since when had she known Draco Malfoy to not be competitive against everyone? He was aggressive against Harry when it came to Quidditch, money when it came to Ron, and knowledge with Hermione. This game of his was no different, and it involved her intellect, her logic. Of course, Draco Malfoy had much more experience in this type of fighting, but she was sure, if she tried hard enough, she could overcome him…

Her sudden wave of determination was disturbed by the clicking and workings of the door. She stared as it opened slowly, watching Malfoy stride into the room, fingering his wand slightly as it twirled between his fingers; she gazed at it enviously.

Malfoy, seeing the longing on her face, thought otherwise.

"Been looking forward to seeing me again, Granger?" he drawled, a smirk on his face. Her eyes snapped up to his, and she stared at him, remaining silent.

He moved towards the table, drawing out a chair and sitting down. He fished something out of his pocket, and like the day before, pulled out a paper bag and tossed it at her. She snatched it from the air and grabbed whatever was inside.

The same cuisine: two slightly rotten apples. She grimaced as she ate one; it was sour. Malfoy examined her while she wolfed down the meal, leaning back the chair and propping his legs against the table.

"So Granger," Malfoy said lazily, inspecting his fingernails, "what've you been doing to pass all the time you've got?"

She took a loud bite out of the apple and threw him a secretive, almost sly look.

"Thinking. Not much else I can do," she replied colorlessly.

"About?" he inquired, not bothering to hide the boredom displayed in his voice. She smirked to herself.

"You." He quirked an eyebrow in interest. "Everything you've said, done, promised," she added in a growl. His face slowly changed into detachment.

"We made a deal, Malfoy. So far, I haven't gotten my end of it. I'll be asking, and you'll be answering. Got it?" she growled.

He laughed lightly in superiority. "And what power do you have over me?" he asked, leering at her. She narrowed her eyes, her lip curling in disgust.

"Let me humor you; what would you like to know?" he asked, the insincerity in his voice rather obvious. Hermione was aware, but she seized the opportunity while she could.

"That book, the one you purposely left out for me to read, the journal with the notes on the Lumerous witch: where is it now?"

"How the hell am I supposed to know? I returned it to its owner, so I have no idea," he retorted, sounding annoyed with her question.

"Tell me about the thirteenth house," she demanded. He rolled his eyes.

"Do I look like a divination Professor?" he asked scathingly. She frowned at him.

"You knew what I was talking about," she pointed out. "You must have some idea."

"Ah, but I don’t," he responded dryly. "Anything else?"

She held up her hands in reply and showed him the pulsing white wounds which she had looked at earlier. He looked at them in a strange sort of curiosity, as if staring at a bug so disgusting that he could not look away. His chair hit the ground properly and he leaned forward, looking mildly bemused.

"What the hell?" he demanded in disbelief.

"What are they?" she interrogated without a moment's pause. He gave her a look, one of irritation that seemed to say 'do-you-actually-think-I-know?'.

"Can we change the subject, Mudblood?" he asked impatiently.

As she started to ask another question, she stopped. She had forgotten the game. The fight. She needed to win.

She sighed, and nodded. His eyes seemed to flash with eagerness.

"About bloody time," he muttered. He moved off of the chair, and she immediately stood, meeting him halfway across the room. She preferred that she wasn't sitting or lying down for any part of their deal.

She was going to be in the lead, and she was going to win; she was going to beat him, override him, and shame him like he did her.

It was just another test. She was going to be victorious at last.

Just to show him who was in control, she grabbed him by the collar and pulled him forward, kissing him forcefully.

Taken by surprise, he staggered, then immediately started to kiss her back. Before their actions reached its pinnacle, she pulled away, an inch from his face. He looked smug, which was nothing compared to her expression.

"Just to let you know, Malfoy, I'm going to win."

-
-x-x-x-
-


READ THIS!:
I want to let you guys know that this is a combination of two chapters; next chapter will be Sunday, October 25, Day 8 again because it is a sort of flashback. I had to put two chapters together since I deleted a major part of this original chapter because it sucked. Thus, it was like, 3 pages long. So, this chapter consists of Day 8 and 9, and next chapter is completely Day 8. If you are confused, please email me!

I’m incredibly sorry for the long, torturous waiting that I put you guys through! I don’t mean to, but life gets in the way, editing really sucks, and I keep having problems with the ratings and stuff.

Anyway, you will be happy to know that we’re exactly halfway through the story, as of this chapter!

Thank you A Roses Innocence and Weirdly for betaing this for me!

KEEP READING! And be sure to keep reviewing!



Chapter 13: Dreaming About You
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

I do own Troy Malfoy, though.

And now, on with the story.


The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

-
((--Chapter Thirteen--))
Dreaming About You


-

October 25
Day 8


-

There were a large number of people in the room, sitting down at a long table, all waiting, anticipating the start of the meeting that would serve them with either relieving or disastrous news. The search was on, and with the dearth of evidence or ideas, the Order was straining. They needed a lead; they had a spy, plenty of Ministry workers, and inside help.

So why weren't they getting results? Why hadn't they found her yet?

"Ah, where is Severus? And Tonks?" Professor Dumbledore inquired, looking about the room. Many people had piles of research in front of them; others simply had their wands, fidgeting anxiously.

"Severus is on his way; Tonks is still at the Ministry. She said she'd be coming as fast as she could," Lupin answered, his tired voice like a sigh in the silent room.

Lupin had been one of those that grieved for Hermione's absence greater than most others; although they were not very close, he couldn’t help but reminisce fondly at her memory. They were alike; both in intellect and character, and Remus noticed that immediately after meeting her.

Dumbledore nodded. With a sad look in his eyes, he asked, "Has anyone has any other leads?" A murmur went through the room; everyone was uncertain as to who should speak first.

The meeting continued on for about fifteen minutes as everyone talked of the possibilities of where Voldemort had taken refuge. It was doubtless that Hermione had been kidnapped by Death Eaters. But why was the question. Halfway through the meeting, a particularly strange question came up.

"Albus, has Harry been having any dreams? Surely with all this excitement, Voldemort's emotions would've leaked through," Lupin mused. Dumbledore frowned.

"The thought occurred to me automatically, but I haven't had the chance to speak with him, unfortunately," Dumbledore said in a low voice, stroking his beard. "As soon as I return to Hogwarts, Harry will not go unquestioned."

Suddenly the door flew open. Tonks flew into the room, waving a piece of paper in front of her face. She looked flustered and grim, and her normally bubbly attitude and blindingly cheerful hair were dulled down to bland, grim shades.

"I just came from the Astronomy Ward," she said breathlessly. She moved towards a seat next to Lupin, talking fast, as if she had been waiting a long time to share this information. "Something important happened last night; it may have to do with Hermione." The room held its breath, and she continued.

"There was a great burst of energy in the chain of mountains nearly a hundred kilometers from Hogwarts. No one was sure what it meant because there isn't anything up there, though there have been some spurts of energy coming up now and then. But last night…"

Tonks trailed off, sitting down and looking uncertain.

"Last night, you should've seen the amount, Albus. It was incredible," she whispered. She put her hands into her face, cupping her forehead in worry. "What if she's there? We have to investigate!" she exclaimed, her voice transcending a sense of urgency amongst the other members.

"Don't worry, we will," Dumbledore assured gently. He began to talk of what the energy levels could mean when the door opened again. This time, Snape strode in, looking even grimmer thank Tonks.

"The Grangers have been murdered," he said darkly, standing at the head of the table. Without warning every participant started speaking, panicking even, shocked at the deaths and demanding from one another how this could’ve happened, why, what it could mean—

Dumbledore yelled for silence, and the room obeyed. He sighed; "There is quite a large significance to this," he deduced, giving a stern look to the room's occupants as if daring them to interrupt. "Kidnapping young Hermione apparently did not accomplish all that Voldemort wanted, and their death only means that they knew something that was imperative to this situation. Not only did the Dark Lord manage to find them in their safe house, but I can safely assume that will their bodies he set a large conflagration about the property. Evidence, then, is destroyed, and the hope of us finding something is narrow, but feasible."

He looked around, everyone was looking apprehensive. Suddenly, his grave voice was overridden by the strong, omnipotent voice of a Head General of war, a vanguard, a lieutenant. His fellow Order members snapped to attention at his words.

"I want three of you on the murder scene by tomorrow night; take anything that isn't in ruins. Seven of you, have Tonks show you on a map where the heightened energy levels were, and then prepare yourselves for a trip, because you'll be investigating that area. If we procure enough information, we might be onto something."

"Severus, were you at any recent meetings?" Dumbledore asked, switching abruptly onto another topic. Snape shook his head.

"No, I was unable to attend the most current one. However, I've heard from several of the Death Eaters in passing that Granger is being held captive. We knew the Dark Lord had her, but why or where I could not determine. However, there were a few pieces of information about the kidnapper; he was amongst the group missing from the dance, male, seventh year, but I couldn't get his name, sir," Snape listed.

Dumbledore gave a small frown, and Snape returned the smallest of nods that only Dumbledore could understand. Snape had been lying, but the precious information could not be distributed right away. Some with grudges may perhaps act rashly instead of as Dumbledore ordered.

"Thank you, Severus. All right, I think we should get started then with everything we have," Dumbledore decided, giving a nod of approval to his colleagues.

The occupants of the table stood and started moving all at once, either to Tonks or to Remus. No one seemed to notice Snape, so he had snuck over to Dumbledore. Snape looked grave as he stopped in front of his elder, a frown still occupying his old features.

"You can assume the rumors are true, sir. What the castle is saying…"

"So they aren't lying then," Dumbledore confirmed, sounding tired. "Indeed, most students had reasons for being absent, but I would never think… however, he may be my student, but not everyone is perfect. Just for clarification…?"

"Draco Malfoy, sir," Snape said heavily, unable to hide the disappointed, almost rueful scowl on his face. Apparently, he didn't like announcing to the Headmaster that his favorite student was the accused, and wanted, kidnapper.

"What will become of him?" Snape asked Dumbledore, who had been thinking deeply for several tense moments. Dumbledore sighed, and looked slowly at the Potions Master.

"Unless we are ready to share with the Ministry the information we have here, I'm afraid I can do nothing but keep a careful watch when he comes back. Until we find any more information, he is to be under constant supervision. I doubt he will have anymore Death Eater activity inside the castle after her kidnap," Dumbledore deduced, stroking his long silvery beard.

"Sir, he isn't a Death Eater. There's been no initiation," Snape said sharply. "That certain event takes place next year around this time."

"Indeed?" Dumbledore said with a hint of curiosity; Snape nodded. "Well… there is still hope then," he said quietly.

-x-x-x-


October 26
Day 9



"Please stop!" she moaned, pulling herself into a ball as best she could, sobbing uncontrollably.

Draco was satisfied and stopped and backed away, looking indifferently down on her trembling body. With a quick change of mind, he savagely jumped forward and kicked her forcefully again, and she screamed out in agony.

With a malevolent, content look he turned and left the room silently, without another word, leaving a shaking, bruised and bleeding Hermione.... alone.


"NO!"

Harry woke with a start, yelling out. His scar was burning fiercely; he ran his fingers over his hairline, feeling the permanent mark on his forehead cool quickly. That dream had been so real, so vivid. He wasn't actually sure if it was just a dream, but it seemed like a connection to something, something oddly realistic. He could hear her screaming, he could feel the sharp kick, muscles convulsing at the pain and bruises flowering all over her skin. He knew it was about Hermione, it had to be.

It must've happened to her already, or soon would, by some prick that found abuse entertaining. But the other person… he hadn't seen their face long enough. They hadn't spoken. All he could remember was the smirk…

"Ugh… Harry you woke me up," Ron mumbled groggily as he rolled over in his sheets. Harry picked up his glasses off his nightstand and looked over at Ron; he was rubbing his eyes and looking back at Harry.

"Sorry. Bad dream," Harry apologized quickly. Yawning, Ron blinked sleepily and rolled over, going back to sleep. Harry stared at his back momentarily, thinking.

He hadn't told Ron anything, but why not? Ron was the one that was in love with the missing girl. Ron should know, shouldn't he? Ron had broken up immediately with Parvati after the kidnap; Parvati had taken it hard, and she was constantly glaring at the Weasley, but Ron hadn't noticed at all.

Harry suddenly couldn't take it, being in the room with three other peacefully, untroubled sleeping boys; he felt guilty. He pushed himself out of bed, grabbed his cloak, threw it on, snapped the clasps and headed silently downstairs into the common room. The glowing embers of the fire throbbed with heat, gently pulsing and burning into ash. He sat down with a sigh, and knew he needed to do something.

He was the one who knew what was going on… somehow.

He had been having those dreams about her. The quiet time of her life, the secluded Hermione Granger when she was seven. Not the eighteen year old young woman she was now.

Except… that last dream.

That had been her, and was utterly realistic. She wasn't seven there, she was eighteen. It had been her, and it actually happened. But when? And who had done that to her? Harry tried desperately to hold onto the dream, despite the lingering images slipping away like sand through his fingers. The screaming, the horrible pain; it seemed as bad as the Cruciatus Curse.

He pressed his palms to his eyes and leaned back against the couch. He needed to do something, anything. Suddenly his eyes clicked open; he had been having dreams, the old, memorable ones. The wild, carefree childish dreams. Those… he knew something about those.

The moon, the scars, the two gits that had hurt her.

He looked over at his lumpy schoolbag that he had left on the couch earlier. He still had two library books left: Lunar Phenomenons and The Lumerous Witch. He reckoned he could read them within a few days if he skimmed it all, since he had skimmed the other books quickly, taking down the rarely hopefully useful information they possessed. He couldn't really think of anything else to do.

Dumbledore was doing Order business, and he couldn't talk to anyone else… Harry suddenly wished Sirius was there. Harry wanted him back, and it still wasn't fair that Sirius was ripped away so abruptly. He felt like his whole life had been washed away… and then Hermione was kidnapped.

Now he felt the loss, even though she wasn't dead. She was his knowledge, his left hand, a third of his life. She couldn't be gone, she just couldn't; his life wouldn't be complete without her. But he had a certain feeling that she was alive… beaten, sick, and starving maybe, but alive.

The first few chapters of Lunar Phenomenons were about the moon, what it represented and on what it had major effects. In all, there were thirteen chapters, seemed about 250 pages long, which was not a horribly long read; he had seen a lot more pages in a book before. He opened it, the binding pulling slightly due to the lack of ever being read.

He skimmed over the first few chapters, his mind wandering, his eyes heavy with sleep. He had to keep reading, he had to find something. But he was too tired… his mind was drifting… he was falling through fog…

"Milord, it has been finished," spoke a cold voice.

"Good. And you've destroyed the house to ruins?" inquired another voice that was high-pitched and hissing.

"Yes, milord. Nothing remains," the first answered obediently.

"And the documents?" asked the silky voice of Lord Voldemort.

"Forgive me, Master, but we weren't exactly sure of where the Muggles had hidden the documents. We burned the house and the forest around them," the first voice replied, a faint hint of apprehension in his answer.

"You didn't know where to look?" Voldemort repeated sharply. "Lucius, for a man of intellect, you are incredibly foolish. They wouldn't have the documents in the house or in the woods. They aren't even in the Muggle world, she being what she is."

"Then… the Ministry of Magic?" Lucius realized suddenly. Voldemort laughed softly.

"Indeed. You will have one last chance; I want those records destroyed by Halloween, before the ceremony. Nothing can be risked," Voldemort instructed.

"Yes, milord."

"Now, has your son started his menial duty?" asked Voldemort, his tone caught between amusement and clear indifference.

"Yes; he started yesterday. I've been informed that, because of the lack of mental stimulation, she is becoming a bit delirious. He finds it amusing," Lucius said, and the Dark Lord chuckled darkly. "He frightens her."

"And with reason too! But she will learn she has nothing to be afraid of as soon as Halloween…" Voldemort murmured.

"I agree, Master."

"Good. Now leave me, Lucius, and complete your plans."

"Yes, Master."


"HARRY!"

"NO! …What?" Harry dragged himself reluctantly out of the dream, remains of sleep still in his mind, sand still in his eyes.

It was morning. Harry was passed out on the couch, his face smudged into the open book, leaving little ink words on his cheek and face. Harry blinked and sat up, rubbing his eyes. Ron was standing over him, looking confused.

"You all right there, mate?" Ron asked suspiciously. Harry yawned and nodded.

He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, shut the book without trying to look too guilty and put it in his schoolbag, Ron watching his every move.

"Yeah, fine. I just couldn't sleep last night so I came down here," Harry lied without looking at his friend. Ron gave him a distrustful look.

"It looked like you were having a seizure; you were twitching and laughing and that sort of thing…" Ron broke off and looked strangely at Harry.

"I-I was laughing?" Harry repeated, stunned. Ron nodded, eyes still narrowed warily.

Harry looked down at his knees, running a hand through his hair. He had that weird dream, but if he was laughing, then surely…

"Ron, what time is it?" Harry asked quickly. Ron checked his watch.

"Dunno… like half past seven. Why? Hey wait! Where're you going?" Ron demanded as Harry scrambled up, grabbing his schoolbag and running out of the common room.

Harry needed to see Dumbledore as soon as he could. It couldn't wait, he had to tell someone everything he knew. So far, there were two dreams that he knew were both real. He skidded down the corridor to a halt and then sprinted down a hallway, down a flight of stairs—

"POTTER!"

Harry nearly fell over. He tripped, and jumping on one leg for a moment, regained his balance and looked around in alarm. Snape slammed a door shut and strode toward Harry, his black robes billowing behind him.

"What are you doing, Potter?" he asked coldly.

"Need—to see—Dumbledore!" Harry wheezed urgently.

He leaned on knees for a moment, catching his breath, before he looked back up at Snape, who was sporting a cruel smirk. Harry knew Snape was about to take points from Gryffindor and then tell him to get his arse back to the Gryffindor house.

"It's about Hermione!" Harry blurted before Snape could say anything.

The smirk slid of Snape's face quickly; he scrutinized Harry with a bizarre look on his face, giving the raven-haired boy a penetrating gaze that seemed to sink into his mind and probe his conscience. Suddenly, Harry understood Snape was using his Legilimency on his mind to determine whether he was lying or not.

"Fine. Come with me, Potter," Snape spat reluctantly, mouth twisted up as if he had eaten something sour.

He turned and started up a corridor, and Harry felt as if he'd been awarded the House Cup. He followed Snape down corridors, and then they appeared in front of the moving Gargoyle.

"Sugar Quill," Snape barked.

The gargoyle started moving, and as soon as the stairs appeared, Snape started up them. Harry moved to follow, but Snape held up a hand.

"The Headmaster may be sleeping. I shall inform you of his answer when I come back down, Potter." With only a cold sneer, Snape turned and ascended the staircase, leaving Harry behind.

He sat down on the stairs and put his head in his hands, rubbing his forehead. What happened to telling Ron? When, and if, Ron found out that Harry had been having dreams about Hermione, would he be mad? What would he do? And most importantly, would he still be on the same side with Harry?

Harry felt incredibly guilty; there was no doubt about that. But if he had to loose another friend, he wouldn't be able to go on.

He pressed his palms harder against his eyes, seeing swirling, spiraling colors. He thought hard about the dreams: Voldemort was present, and Lucius Malfoy. Voldemort had said something about Lucius' son's duty. Had Draco been assigned to do harm to Hermione while she stayed wherever she was? Was he the one who had kidnapped her? Harry was almost certain of it. His mind drifted deeper into the details of the dream.

Something about Halloween… a ceremony… but for what? And then, his mind snapped onto three words. Ministry of Magic. There was something in the ministry! Documents! They weren't in the Granger home because… because…

Harry realized in horror what had happened to Hermione's parents. They had been killed. The Death Eaters were after something… something stored in the Ministry of Magic. Those records! But what exactly were they for?

Hermione was different, Harry knew that. She was powerful, smart, determined and fiercely loyal. But there had to be something more that Voldemort wanted from her if he was to kidnap her. Hermione was an excellent witch, and she would make a superior warrior on either side of the war. So was that her purpose? No, Harry thought, he could feel there was something more… something big… something strange, important… maybe…

"Potter!"

Snape's cold voice cut through his thoughts, breaking his concentration; Harry looked up and glared at him. "The Headmaster wishes to see you during your class after lunch. He will inform Professor McGonagall of your absence. Go back to your dormitory until classes start," Snape drawled, turning and leaving Harry alone with another ugly look.

So that was it? Dumbledore wanted to see him after lunch, but he wished he could've missed the class after that, Potions. He could bet that Snape had requested that Harry missed Transfiguration instead, deliberately taking points off for his distraction because he was thinking about whatever Dumbledore had told him. Maybe it would be of everything that the Order had discovered during the nine day absence of Hermione Granger.

Perhaps Dumbledore would tell Harry everything that he knew about Hermione. Was it why she was so important? What was so incredibly special about her? Harry felt like the answer was right under his nose, but he was completely oblivious. He got up and started walking towards the Gryffindor House, thinking. Hermione had something special about her, no doubt. She was one special witch with something more than keen intellect.

But what was it?

-
-x-x-x-
-


Author's Notes:
Yeah! I'm finally done with this damn chapter! Hope you liked it! I know there are a lot of confusing aspects to consider, and from past experiences, I say, you'll have to WAIT TILL THE END. And there are approximately 23 chapters in this.

Thank you to A Roses Innocence for betaing this for me! Awesome!

Please keep reading without further ado, and please don't ever forget to review!

Chapter 14: The Tears We Shed
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any other JK Rowling characters.

Yet I do own Troy Malfoy. What an understatement, huh?

AND NOW! On with the story...

The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

-
((--Chapter Fourteen--))
The Tears We Shed


-

October 26
Day 9


"Hey, we have Transfiguration Harry," Ron informed his best friend as the raven-haired boy abruptly took a different direction by the stairwell. Harry shifted awkwardly on the steps.

"Yeah, I know. But I, erm… well, Professor Dumbledore needs to see me," Harry said quickly, not meeting Ron's eyes.

Harry felt terrible about not telling Ron about his abnormal dreams, or the almost helpful vision he had. Ron's suspicious look hardened to ice, knowing that Harry was telling him to sod off, before turning away and leaving for Transfiguration.

Ron knew something had gone awry with Harry; he wasn’t a complete fool. He turned and watched Harry quickly maneuver his way down the opposite end of the corridor, heading for the Headmaster's office through the throng of bustling students.

Did Harry know something, and was he informing Dumbledore about it? And could it be about Hermione? Ron narrowed his eyes, his mouth twitching with anger; of course it was about Hermione, why else would Dumbledore want to see Harry?

Ron grumbled under his breath and walked in the midst of the other Gryffindors, locating a seat and falling into it. Was there a reason why he, who was much busier worrying about Hermione than anyone else, wasn’t invited to speak privately? Ron had proven himself trustworthy many-a-time, and although Harry received special treatment all the time, this was different.

Transfiguration went by horribly slow. Ron sat there, doodling on his paper, ruminating the possible subjects the Headmaster would discuss.

But his thoughts strayed back to Hermione, back to the fateful night that he was terribly ashamed of; he had left Hermione because he wanted more from her, something she wasn’t willing to give up yet.

Ron put his head in his arms and pressed his forehead to the table, completely tuning out McGonagall. If Ron had given it a thought, he would've guessed that she was giving another lecture about N.E.W.T.s; he wasn't sure, and frankly, he didn't care. Towards the end of Transfiguration, while Ron was still halfway asleep on his desk, the door opened slowly. McGonagall's lecture ceased immediately, and she looked towards the source of the interruption.

"It's all right Potter, the Headmaster has already informed me. Sit down," McGonagall clipped. It wasn't until Ron heard the chair next to him move aside that he understood that Harry was sitting next to him.

Cautiously raising his head, Ron registered the fact that Harry's ashen face was not scared, but distant. He seemed absorbed in some fathomless thought, so deeply entwined he barely noticed Ron staring at him.

By the end of class, Harry hadn't uttered a single syllable, and Ron decided to do something about it. "Well?" Ron blurted finally. Harry twitched, flinched, and finally gave Ron an apologetic half-smile.

"Sorry," Harry mumbled, and kept walking. Ron, unsatisfied, glowered at the side of his face.

"So what happened with Dumbledore?" spilled out of Ron's mouth before he could stop himself. Harry swallowed nervously, his mouth as dry as parchment.

"We just talked…" Harry croaked, his voice raspy. Ron sensed that Harry wasn't about to admit willingly what had been discussed in the Head Office.

"About Hermione," Ron stated quietly, finishing Harry’s sentence. Harry shot him an uneasy look before returning his gaze to the ground. He gave a jerky nod, and Ron let out a quiet breath that noticeably contained repressed anger.

"He told me things…" Harry started, drowning himself in thought again, isolating Ron from the conversation.

"Like what kind of stuff?" Ron inquired hastily, before Harry shut down again.

"About… about… about her. That… that her parents… they're… " Harry broke off in a weird kind of whisper, he sounded as if the words were hurting but confusing him as if he still couldn’t grasp their concept.

"They're what?" Ron demanded, his eyes wide. Harry gave him a guilty, frightened look, and the fear in his vivid green eyes said everything.

"Dead?" It took all Harry's energy to nod; Ron's pulse picked up suddenly at the image of his parents suddenly dead as they walked wordlessly to Potions and as Ron slowly digested the new fact.

The silence between the two boys went unnoticed, each wrapped up in their demanding thoughts. Ron, after inhaling deeply several times and clenching his whole body, trying to make himself feel, spoke.

"Who?" Ron asked, his brain gradually starting to function. "Who did it?"

"The Order thinks it was the Death Eaters," Harry replied quietly. Ron's jaw twitched, and he clenched his teeth. "But they still aren't sure. But… Dumbledore thinks it, so it has got to be right."

"Harry, Dumbledore isn't always right," Ron snarled, a vicious tone to his sudden flare of anger. He didn't want to believe Dumbledore, because if Hermione's parents were dead, then Hermione's life would be destroyed, and Ron wouldn’t know what to do.

"He's right," Harry repeated heavily, and Ron glowered.

"How do you know he is?" Ron demanded with a bit of sneer. Harry inhaled loudly and let out a shaky sigh.

"Just because. There's evidence, OK? They think it, and they're right," Harry responded gloomily.

"You said Dumbledore thought it, and they weren't sure. What this about evidence if they don't know?" Ron snapped. Harry closed his eyes, muttering mutely to himself. He took a deep breath.

"You know this morning, when you woke me up?" Harry said in a rush. Ron nodded, and watched him suspiciously. "I-I was having a bad dream Ron. A really, really bad dream. It turns out… that the dream, it was more than that."

Harry kept his eyes firmly on the floor, grasping his schoolbag tightly. Ron looked at him, glaring, the anger bubbling inside of him quickly, like steam screaming shrilling as it escaped its confinement.

"More than just a dream," Ron repeated in a furious whisper. "It had You-Know-Who in it then… So it was real." Ron drew a shaky breath determined not to lose his temper though he was close to it. "And why didn't you tell me?" His voice wavered as he spoke.

"Err… Ron, I'm really sorry, but I just—" Harry started, but Ron cut him off with a scathing scoff.

"Oh please, Harry, whatever excuse you have is shit. Why didn't you tell me?" Ron demanded again, suddenly becoming more serious, more menacing than Harry had ever seen him. Harry remained silent but his pace quickened faintly as they traveled closer to the dungeons.

"I felt like I needed to deal with it alone," Harry murmured, though very, very quietly, and Ron barely heard him. But then, as the youngest male Weasley poured over Harry's quiet words, he fell back and halted, feet rooted to the ground as if encased in cement.

"OF ALL PEOPLE, HARRY! YOU WEREN'T THE ONE WHO WAS THERE! I WAS THE LAST PERSON TO SEE HER! IF ANYONE, I SHOULD BE DEALING WITH THIS! NOT YOU!" he screamed, his bellow so incredibly loud nearby people ducked as if a bomb had exploded, searching for the source of the noise.

Harry kept walking, clutching his book bag so tightly his knuckles turned white. He kept going but Ron would have none of it; the Weasley seized his arm and shoved him against the wall.

"SHE WAS MY BLOODY GIRLFRIEND, HARRY!" Ron bellowed, and whatever whispers of frightened curiosity abruptly died.

"YOU DITCHED HER FOR PARAVTI!" Harry roared back at once, shoving Ron away. Ron, livid and seething to the point that he couldn’t speak, glared as Harry threw a sad, regretful look at him and walked away.

Ron stood dumbfounded where Harry had left him, the color slowly rising in his face. The class was whispering animatedly, Slytherins were snickering; no one had known about “The Breakup” except for the Gryffindors, but it wasn’t that way anymore.

The two boys, who had always been best of friends, brothers, and only fought for a short while on occasion, separated and refused to speak to one another. It was exciting news for the school, but not nearly as discussed as Hermione Granger. However, it was apparent to all students that she was the reason the Trio had broken.

Neither of them had a very good day without their counterparts, though. Snickers, hissing, and hushed gossip followed them both everywhere. Ron was positively furious, both with Harry and with himself; his best mate —his brother for Merlin's sake! — had betrayed him. Not only that, but if there had been any hope at all for Ron about being privy to Dumbledore's information, it was gone now.

Harry, however, was not as severely affected by the rumors and by the fight as Ron was. No; Hermione, the perpetual worry in his mind had augmented to an entirely new level. Harry had tried to resist the gentle probing of the headmaster, but he cracked and had spilled everything to the old, wise man, concealing only the most recent dream that Ron had recently learned of. Why he held it in, he didn't know, but he felt as if he needed something that only he knew, that only he could explain.

Harry felt guilty however, the enormous pressure of keeping it all a secret, holding it inside like a ball of flame that fueled not him, but the War. The desire to keep it away was an influence from Voldemort, Dumbledore explained, and the feeling that the weight of the world, crushing and enormous, was still on Harry's shoulders was very natural. Something like Survivor's Guilt, Harry surmised afterwards.

Dumbledore had presented Harry with something special: a secret he could not share with anyone, not now. Harry was not forbidden, but the mere concept of it was just so mind-boggling that he still did not comprehend.

Something was going to happen, and Hermione would be a victim. Dumbledore explained how Tonks had seen the energy levels rise, how rare and astounding it was to see it in a millennium, less much a lifespan, and it provoked Harry's grim thoughts even more. The stunning news about Hermione, in addition to everything that Dumbledore had told him about the meeting, confirmed that was very wrong indeed.

-x-x-x-


That night, after everyone had gone to bed, Harry sat on the couch, gazing into the throbbing coals, shining vainly in the fire as they slowly died. He was so lost within himself, so consumed by the fear of Hermione's possible death. What was so essential about Hermione, so crucially necessary that she would actually be kidnapped? She was a talented witch; there wasn't a doubt. But, to put it simply, she was Muggle-born, a Mudblood, hated by Voldemort and purebloods alike.

So why was she gone?

Harry propped his head in his hands, rubbing the weariness in his eyes and ignoring the strain in his back. It was his fault, all his fault; he had only given a fraction of information to Ron about the dreams, he had neglected telling Dumbledore until now, and he had kept it to himself for far too long.

True, it wasn't his fault she had been kidnapped, but it was his fault that she hadn't been found yet. He choked down the sudden wave of tormenting emotions, clenching his face and hair, dropping his head into his hands, and quelled the urge to sob. If he had said something, anything to someone, she'd be here. They'd be laughing, and Ron and Hermione would be happy. But no, instead he had to be a selfish bastard and keep it all to himself. It if wasn't for him, then—

"Harry?"

Harry hastily wiped his cheeks free of tears with his sleeve and turned around as innocently as he could. Ginny stood uncertainly behind the couch, and she looked worried. She was wearing a dark crimson robe and her long mane of red hair glowed in the firelight.

"Are you alright?" she asked softly, moving around the sofa and sitting down next to him.

"No, not really," he muttered, his voice thick with suppressed emotions. He let his head fall into his hands again. "It's my entire fault she's gone," he moaned through his hands, and she put a hand on his shoulder to placate him.

"Don't say that, Harry, it isn't," she soothed. He let out a bitter scoff.

"But it is my fault, Ginny! If I had told someone, anyone, she'd be here! And I knew and I didn't say anything!" He found himself nearly screaming at Ginny, who seemed almost motherly at the moment, looking very concerned in the flickering firelight.

"What did you know, Harry?" Ginny asked tentatively. He glanced up with a desperate look, trying to see if she was being sincere or not, and slumped over, his head between his knees. She put an arm around him, trying to comfort him.

"I just knew," he mumbled.

His body was shaking with silent sobs again, and she pulled him upright and embraced him tightly, squeezing him to her as he shook. He buried his head into her shoulder, trying not to let himself cry, but he just couldn't stop it. Hermione… she was gone, it was entirely his fault… all his fault

"Harry," Ginny whispered, "It's all right. Calm down." She ran her hands over his back reassuringly. Harry latched onto her as if she were the only source of peace and hope he had seen that had a chance of convincing him that everything will actually be all right.

"It's not all right, Ginny!" Harry moaned as his voice broke, his head still on her shoulder. "She's gone and I could've done something about it!"

Harry began ranting on, spilling his feelings and sobbing into Ginny's shoulder. It felt good to just let it all out, but he felt weak, even weaker than he had before. It wasn't like him at all, but he found himself content in Ginny's arms; she was making soothing shushing noises, rubbing his back tenderly.

A tear fell onto his shoulder, and he realized she was crying. She gripped him, clutching him more closely now, and pressed into his neck, her tears sliding over his skin.

"It isn't your fault, Harry. It isn't your fault…" she kept saying, her voice progressively dying. He could hear her voice breaking, and soon enough, she was sobbing too. She kept saying it over and over, trying to make it true, but her tears forced her to accept that it was just a lie.

"I miss her so much, Harry," she whispered, tears forming again, pulling away from him at last. He gave her a half-smile, just as sad as she was, and wiped the tears off of her cheeks with the back of his hand.

"We all do, Ginny, we all do," he whispered, taking her back into a soothing embrace.

"I knew Hermione was special, but not like this. I-I never imagined she'd be kidnapped for it," Ginny voiced through sniffling. Harry nodded, running a hand over her head and pulling her closer.

He wanted someone, something, to hold onto. Ron had abandoned him; Harry could bet that Ron thought Harry was a traitor by now, he wouldn't put it past him. But even so, if Ron was still his best mate he couldn’t just break down in his arms and expect to be held like Ginny was holding him now.

"There's always been something special about Hermione, but only she truly knew what it was, Harry. I think… I think that whatever it was, that's why she's gone," Ginny predicted quietly. Harry pulled her closer, and she continued.

They sat there in silence, the only noise made from the crackling of the sighing fire, dying slowly. Something stirred deep within Harry's mind, something he couldn’t quite place, and without thinking about it he buried his face in Ginny's neck and let out a tense sigh, releasing all the fear he had buried deep inside him.

She pulled away from him slightly, though he still had his arms around her. "Thanks, Harry," Ginny said quietly.

"What for?" he asked obliviously, holding her back. He blinked, looking curiously at her.

"Just… just for caring. Ron… Ron loved Hermione, but he didn't know her like you and I. And from what I heard from Lavender about you and Ron screaming at each other today before Potions, then her kidnap has hurt you as much as me, if not worse. Ron lost his love, Harry, but you and me? We lost a sister," Ginny mused wisely, but the grief in her voice was evident.

Harry found no response for her statement except the indescribable, unexpected flare of passion that he had for the girl that he was holding. She knew what he was going through; she knew how he felt, on a level closer than anyone else did… it was incredible. Ginny, just sitting there, the youngest sister of his best mate that he had rowed with, knew exactly how he felt. His feelings were jumbled up, and he didn't have any idea what to do. All he could understand was that Ginny Weasley, with tear stains down her cheeks, had experienced the emotional pain he had.

He felt like he loved her. Slowly, he leaned forward and kissed her on the mouth.

Ginny looked surprised, but pleased, when he pulled back after a long, fluid moment. He wasn't exactly sure of what he had done, but he knew, somewhere, in the back of his mind, that he no longer felt the same way about Ginny…

"Goodnight Harry," Ginny said softly. She smiled shyly at him before pulling completely away from him, and seemed to float up the dormitory stairs to bed. Harry stared after her, a faint smile on his lips, lost in a fantasy that could be feasible.

And for a split second, Hermione Granger was utterly forgotten.

-
-x-x-x-
-



Author's Notes:
Okay, that's out of the way. I hope you all enjoyed it, and be assured that longer chapters are coming!

Ok, so sorry you guys for the hold up. But this chapter is long enough, eh? So, hope ALL of you read the reviews and the answers to the reviews 'cause it'll do you some help.

A huge round of applause to A Roses Innocence for betaing this for me! Luuurve you!

So read and review guys!


Chapter 15: I Don't Know Whats Worth Fighting For
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

But I do own Troy Malfoy. Super!

So on with the story I say!

The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

-
((--Chapter Fifteen--))
I Don't Know What's Worth Fighting For


-

October 26
Day 9



She was going to be in the lead, and she was going to win; she was going to beat him, override him, and shame him like he did her.

It was just another test. She would be victorious at last.

Just to make it clear who was ahead this time, she fisted his collar and snatched him forward, kissing him forcefully.

Taken by surprise, he staggered, and with a hard blink that assured him yes, this was happening, he kissed her back. Before their actions reached its pinnacle, she pulled away, hovering below his lips. He looked smug, but it was nothing compared to her expression.

"Just to let you know, Malfoy, I'm going to win."


Her statement caught him off-guard, and in the moment that he pondered its meaning she shot him a smirk before she pressed her mouth hard against his.

Bruises and marks he had left the previous day remained, flowering her skin; nothing would quell her desire for vindication more than hurting him the same way.

Hermione shoved him backwards, their mouths only breaking apart for a second or two while Malfoy stumbled, but she diverted the attention from his feet back to her mouth instantly. Kissing fiercely, energy throbbing through the pair of them as if it were a duel, she dug her nails into his bare skin, taking every possible second to breathe.

But she didn't want him to breathe.

If Malfoy could breathe, then he would be able to concentrate. If he concentrated, he would overcome her, and she would lose.

By the time Draco Malfoy managed to finally understand what the Mudblood was implying, Hermione Granger was holding him against the wall, her body pressed tightly alongside his, her mouth powerfully invading his, taking what oxygen he had left.

It took longer through to grasps the holes in what she had said, the contradictions in her own logic: why would Granger take part in this? Hadn't he, Malfoy, broken her successfully, cornering her into a situation she could refuse, gaining a shadow of trust and steering her in the wrong direction?

Instinct took over before his mind could find a solution; heat seeped through his veins in a powerful throb, and lust conquered logic.

Malfoy smirked against her lips, and clutching the balls of her shoulders, heaved her back with such force that she nearly fell over. Seizing her under the elbow, Malfoy swung her back to her feet, and grabbing a fistful of hair, slammed his mouth to hers before she could even gasp.

Hermione understood that Malfoy was now a worthy adversary again; she dug her hands into his shoulder blades, and her attempt to pull him away was shattered as Malfoy slid his hand under the remainder of her shirt. She acquiesced, and found herself up against the wall, almost willingly, moments later.

She and Malfoy had fought many, many times before this, but nothing was as demanding. The physical necessity in this particular fight though was almost exhausting, but the need to rise above him, shame him, was an adrenaline rush from the gods. It was a gift, granted from above, and even though Hermione had never been the best in this area of expertise, she knew how to fight.

Foot wedged between leg and wall, Hermione threw all of her body onto Malfoy, and it caught him off guard. Malfoy released her, but not unwillingly; he grabbed her arm and pulled her too, but Hermione resisted. Their kiss was broken momentarily, but like a cat, she pounced on him, knocking him to the floor and wreaking revenge on his mouth before he had a chance to breathe.

It wasn't kissing to her, it was fighting. Fighting for whatever there was left to take back from him; he had stolen her faith in everything, it appeared. Malfoy thrived to inform Hermione constantly about her flaws, basking in her humiliation afterwards.

Anger was something they each liked to provoke in each other. It was a mutual interest that was sure to bother her when she had a moment to wonder about it.

He made himself kiss harder, more viciously, anything to dominate her. But it seemed that Hermione felt content fighting, just as he did. She appeared in fact, more energetic than he was, though Draco couldn't figure out how that worked out when they gave her next to no food.

Their fighting moved back and forth as they threw each other off, against the wall, fell to the floor. Draco shoved her up against the wall what seemed like hours later, pressing her shoulders to the wall, taking a gasp before thrusting his tongue back to her mouth, through she met him halfway. Hermione growled, pressing her fingers around his throat and throwing her weight onto him again.

Malfoy was ready for this; he caught Hermione around the waist, and held her tightly as gravity and momentum forced their fall to the bed.

Due to the bounce on the mattress, their kiss broke abruptly; an involuntary gasp escaped her lips as he paused, hovering over her face. Her eyes were bright, but distant, little pants slipping from her throat as he breathed shallowly himself. Her body quivered beneath him, and he could feel every curve press against him as she gasped for oxygen.

She gazed at him, hair askew, lips parted as he adjusted himself gracefully over her, elbows perched above her shoulders, body resting comfortably, suggestively, over hers, and back arched so that he seemed to float over her, casting her into shadow. Whitish hair fell around his sculpted face like a curtain, but no amount of darkness would dim the gleam in his hungry silver eyes.

"Such passion for this sport," Malfoy murmured, voice husky, lowering so that their lips were only just apart. Her own brown eyes, flickering between his almost uncertainly, suddenly narrowed with anger.

Malfoy only had to tilt his head slightly to kiss her, but the ghost of a kiss was not harsh like the rest had been. He stared down into her eyes, his cool composure almost daring her to change it, to cancel out that this had been the first gentle kiss between them.

The other night, Malfoy had been brutal with his mouth but soft with his hands. Hermione couldn’t help but wonder if this, this tender kiss, would make the rest of his body because brutal and cruel. But the rest of Draco Malfoy was still, and Hermione was having trouble reading the situation before her.

She wasn't aware of Malfoy pulling away, but when he dipped his head and kissed her gently again, nothing she could do would stop her eyes from sliding closed. Things flooded through her, emotions she didn't want, a burning desire that ignited her skin that would mean tyranny if she dared to acknowledge it. Hermione's confusion kept her mind still, and her reluctant curiosity kept her body quiescent.

It was starting again. He was kissing her lightly, stroking her cheek and naked neck, and she felt all too aware of her feelings. A gush of self-disgust screamed for her to stop this, to make him return to the brutal kissing and his fighting disposition.

But he wasn't; Malfoy was being soft, kind, his hands traveling over her exposed body, making her shudder unwillingly in pleasure. She could hear him chuckling in the back of his throat, and the desire to have an answer burned her skull. Why was he being like this? Hermione would rather hear him sneering Mudblood! than have him do this to her, make her feel so… alive.

When his hands slowly began to cradle her jaw, lightly fingering the hollow beneath it, Hermione realized that wanting him too, craving his light touches and nimble hands enabled her to fight again, though in an entirely different way.

Perhaps her prize was reachable, after all.

Slowly, she encouraged his shoulders closer to her, sliding her willowy fingers beneath his shirt and across his taut chest. She started to kiss hard, fighting again, pushing lips against his mouth. Fingers gliding across every ounce of skin they could reach, she wound her arms around his neck, and pulled him closer, Hermione kissed as fiercely as she could. It would work, she thought, if he would fight back, but he wasn't.

So she tried harder: she was kissing so violently that she was biting; her hands were gripping his scalp, digging her nails in. She was being rough, she would admit, but only because he wasn't. Somehow, she found herself making up for his lack of effort.

All at once, Hermione sensed him pulling away. Was it for a breath? Was it to make a cruel remark? She wasn't about to let it happen. He tried pulling his mouth off hers but she wouldn't let him. Hermione pressed her palms behind his ears and held him firmly to her mouth as she kissed him, almost hungrily. He wasn't about to get away, she wouldn't allow it.

She had to win, and he was doing something to stop her.

In one almighty wrench, Malfoy broke away, severing their kiss. Hermione had underestimated her power, because his normally groomed persona appeared windswept and unkempt: hair stuck up and fell into his face, shirt pulled hard over one shoulder, so much that it ripped and left angry red marks in his neck.

And Malfoy's expression normally did not look like this. His smirk was gone, replaced by a wary, almost frightened look, lines by his mouth and breath gushing loudly through his nose, as if he were afraid to pant normally, for fear of Hermione attacking his mouth again.

Malfoy struggled to control his voice, though it came out hoarse and cautious. "Granger…"

Hermione Granger had been... positively wild. It aroused him more than exercising complete control over her, enjoying when she cowered against him, because this time Granger had been mean, aggressive, recalcitrant. Granger was almost... almost like him. Had it been Draco himself that had given Granger the idea to be so vicious?

And her behavior was not the only thing out of place: she was scowling, a hint of belligerence splashed across her face, eyes bright with malice. The remainder of her shirt was wide opening, throwing away all modesty, and she seemed not to care. In fact, Malfoy could almost swear that her back was arching unnaturally high as her breasts, round and full, rose against him as she rapidly regained breath…

"Surprised that I'm not so innocent?" Hermione said quietly, but Malfoy could see how angry she was.

"Why are you doing this?" He couldn’t stop himself from asking, he needed to know.

Hermione smiled faintly, but Malfoy saw the triumph in her brown eyes. "What, Malfoy, you don't want this?"

He hesitated, but then a smooth smile slid onto his face. "This and nothing else."

-x-x-x-


October 27
Day 10


It was an unusual day for Hermione, waiting almost patiently for Malfoy to come back. She sat in the brightened room when she guessed was around noon, fiddling with the corner of the pillow, thinking about what happened the day before.

Why the sudden urge to fight back? Why the unexplainable amount of energy? Why had she been so aggressive? And why, why, did Hermione have the feeling that she enjoyed it in such a way that it was indecent?

It was questions like these that she could not ask Draco. Hermione did admit to herself that she wanted answers that were about as likely to come from Malfoy as Ron. The Slytherin knew just as much as Hermione did about her current situation, or so it seemed.

The fruitless thinking forced her mind to switch to a different subject, something she could prepare for. Hermione Granger thought about the question-and-answer feature that was going to happen as soon as Malfoy walked into the room. Last time, before the first snogging session, any vital information she could've attained was lost because she questioned stupidly.

But this time would be different, she would see to it herself.

Hermione wanted answers to questions that she was sure she hadn't thought of yet. Hundreds of questions, all burning to be satisfied, all just important as the next. But there was something Hermione knew would give her a great deal of satisfaction, if not relief, to prepare for as Halloween drew ever closer: the Lumerous witch.

Hermione bit her lip, a sudden thought crossing her mind. What if he didn't answer? What rage would consume her then? What could she possibly do to get an answer, a reasonable answer that she could believe, from him? She couldn't throw a fit and cry, because all that the spilled liquid meant was weakness. It was just another match, another round of fighting that stood ahead. Maybe, if she stood up for herself, they would leave her alone.

It was a possibility, wasn't it?

Wasn't it?

Distant voices Hermione's head snap towards the door in mid-thought. A sudden desire to be alone with Malfoy made her think, and hope, that Troy wouldn't come. But something snapped down on the thought like a bear trap, the sound sharp and like a slap in the face. Hermione wanted Troy to arrive with Malfoy because then he wouldn't be able to carry out his stupid little deal.

There was a scrape on the floor as the door swung open. For a moment, Hermione's heart pounded in her throat, fire seeping through her veins as Draco walked in, grinning, guffawing at something Troy said. Draco turned, kicking the door shut, and looked directly at Hermione.

Her heart seemed to stop.

Hermione wrenched her eyes from him and stared at the floor, fighting away the blush in her face. She knew he was smirking, a stinging gibe already crafted. His eyebrow was probably quirked too, making him look even more appealing than he already was…

Wait...

Surely... surely she hadn't just thought that he—the arsehole, the git, the Slytherin cold-hearted jerk… was appealing? What universe did Hermione live in all of a sudden? Malfoy… appealing? Even slightly attractive?

No, there wasn't a possibility of that at all.

The drumming of her heart slowed, and she realized that Malfoy was speaking to her.

"Your enthusiasm overwhelms me," Malfoy said dryly, and when Hermione narrowed her eyes at him, he grinned.

"Forgive me if seeing you dampers my mood slightly," she retorted flatly, waiting for the comments that were sure to come.

He quirked a pale eyebrow and Hermione knew this was it, what she had been waiting for. "That didn't happen yesterday, did it Granger?"

She let out an annoyed sigh. "I cannot help if my sanity was affected by the dearth of nutrition." Malfoy was quick to reply, but Hermione cut across him before he could do so. "But then again," Hermione said as her eyes flickered momentarily to Malfoy's trousers; she smirked. "It probably isn't the only thing lacking, is it?"

"Mudblood knows how to play," Malfoy crooned mockingly, and Hermione's lip curled.

"I've always been playing, Malfoy, but you've always chose to ignore due to me being extraordinarily wittier than you are," Hermione sniffed. .

"Wittier than I am?" Malfoy laughed.

"Can't buy knowledge," Hermione said softly. "Best run along and inform daddy, shouldn't you?"

Malfoy's face darkened. "You’re a fool to still think I rely on my father," he hissed.

"Not what the Quidditch team said," Hermione shot back swiftly, and Malfoy snarled.

"You think—"

"Why yes, in fact, I do think," Hermione interrupted coolly. "Because I'm not a blithering idiot like you, Malfoy."

The slow, twisted smile that crept onto his face sent a shiver up her spine; Malfoy knew something, and whatever it was, Hermione didn't like it. "You’re scared, aren’t you?"

"Of what?" she asked scathingly. "There's nothing in this room more terrifying than the dirt under my nails."

"Facing yourself," Malfoy answered quietly. He did not need to smirk at her, but the pointed, knowing gleam to his eyes was enough. "Because I made you feel, didn’t I? Was it a nice upgrade from Weasley?"

"Shut up!" Hermione screamed at him. She quivered, hating how Malfoy revealed the truths that should've stayed buried.

"I bet you've never felt like that before," Malfoy said, and Hermione glared at him, but could not fight the scarlet in her face. "Never felt your skin heat up, come alive—"

"Stop it!"

"—Or your body ache, have you, Granger? An ache that only one thing can fill—"

"Shut up, Malfoy!"

"Or the longing to just plunge headfirst into the fire, anything to keep the throb going, to explode with desire—"

Hermione had clamped her hands to her ears and pressed her forehead to her knees, humming to herself, stating over and over into her mind that Malfoy was playing games with her, trying to mortify her, trying to belittle her… but even she could not ignore the urge inside of her, the ache that Malfoy had spoken of, and that fact that he was right, she wanted more.

Nothing she could do hid that she was hastily wiping tears off of her cheeks, a chagrin that would haunt her until the day she never saw Malfoy again. Hermione did not want to look at him, but found that her eyes moved against her will; Malfoy appeared contemptuous.

"Such a little virgin," he murmured, and Hermione flushed with humiliation and glared at the floor. "And it's all true, isn't it, Mudblood?" It was too much already to hear the glee in his voice, so she couldn't bear to actually look at him again.

"Some things," she managed to choke out, still gazing angrily at the floor, "come much later in life. I can't help it if I'm not a whore like you."

"I do what I can," Malfoy sighed. He paused, then chuckled. "Or who."

"You're disgusting!" Hermione spat, finally overcoming her feelings and glaring daggers at him. Malfoy cocked his head, smiling at her, and Hermione sneered at him. "You'll never be happy, not with the way you treat women!"

"Don't need love," Malfoy said offhandedly. "I'm filthy rich, remember?"

"Money does not buy happiness, Malfoy!"

"Oh, it doesn’t?" he questioned. Malfoy leaned forward in his chair, closer to her, and stared deadpan at her. "Why not?"

It took only a moment to register that Hermione had spit in his face; a moment of shock was followed with a howling disgust as he scraped the slime off of his face, jumping out of his seat.

"No amount of money in the world can make you forget that!" Hermione shouted triumphantly. "Nothing can make your life perfect, because you've messed it up from the beginning!"

"Don't preach to me," Malfoy snarled. "Mudbloods don't know anything."

"Then why do I know an amazingly large deal more than you, Malfoy?" Hermione spat back. "Why am I always ahead of you?"

But instead of becoming furious, like Hermione had hoped, Malfoy calmed as he sat down in his chair and regarded her silently.

"School means nothing in times like this," he replied flatly. "Are you ahead of me here, Granger?" Hermione remained silent, but her stomach filled with a dreadful, heavy feeling.

He was right.

"I have more questions," Hermione said abruptly, still glaring at him, wanting more than anything to move onto another subject. Malfoy smiled maliciously, and she knew he wouldn't let it go that easily.

"Admit that I'm right," he demanded, "or else nothing. And I'll just do what I want with you."

"You little—"

"Do you want answers or not, Granger?" Hermione struggled to handle his request; when it came to survival, was knowledge or pride more important?

"You know more than I do," she said quietly, and her blood boiled with the fury and indignation of saying that.

"That was surprisingly fast. I thought I'd be here all day," Malfoy muttered. "Now, what questions have your filthy, narrow-minded mind come up with?"

"Are you calling me narrow-minded?" Hermione asked, disconcerted, and Malfoy nodded. "You… how are you going to explain to the school your absence?" Hermione asked suddenly.

"Vacation," Malfoy said. "Anywhere we go, hiring tutors for the occasion is not out of the question. The rich can do what they please." Hermione grinded her teeth at the smugness on Malfoy's face.

"What about Azkaban?" Hermione shot at him. "When I get back I can send all of you to prison, because the Ministry knows I'm missing." Malfoy guffawed openly at her.

"When you get back?" he repeated with a jeering laugh. "You're never going to see your pathetic little friends again, Granger. You aren't going anywhere."

"You can't hide me here forever!" Hermione snarled. "And anywhere else, the magic is sensed! I can be found very easily!"

"Then why has no one arrived yet?" Malfoy pointed out, and Hermione's face fell. "We have plans. Informing you of them, however, is not one of them."

"That still says nothing of how you’re going to escape Azkaban," Hermione reminded him.

"They cannot send us if they cannot convict us," Malfoy drawled. "They'll be able to prove nothing, because no one will be able to find you, so therefore, you will just cease to exist."

"I'll be searched for until they find me!" Hermione yelled, almost hysterically. She was getting frightened now. "They won't stop looking!" Malfoy said nothing, but continued to smile maliciously at her.

Hermione hung her head. "Why am I even here? What good is—is a Mudblood to Lord Voldemort?" she asked weakly, ignoring Malfoy's twitch at the name.

"You're worth very much here, regrettably, because I would do so much more to you if you weren't." Hermione fought the heat that rose in her face, trying not to think about his most suggestive remark.

"And how does Voldemort know all of this? How does he know that I'm a—a…" Saying it just didn’t seem safe anymore.

"Just does," Malfoy grunted, now examining his nails. "I only hear snippets of important things, so I'm not very sure."

"Because you eavesdrop on your father, right?" Hermione asked scathingly, and Malfoy shot her an icy look.

"I think you've asked enough, Mudblood," he said coldly.

"No!" Hermione protested. "You're just being touchy because I'm right. I'm not being subject to anymore of your—Malfoy, what are you—Malfoy!"

Her back was flat on the bed all of a sudden, and Malfoy was on top of her, pressing her shoulders, and it struck her as so familiar that Hermione could do nothing to stop from thinking about the previous day, and her heart was squeezed painfully.

Hermione clutched for words that might save her… but from what? Malfoy was leaning over her again, and it wasn't harming her, wasn't scaring her… but doing something quite the opposite that she was almost scared to feel…

Malfoy's leaned down to just above her lips, and her throat closed up; pinned down by simply his eyes, their argument, her furious indignation and all the rage was forgotten. The Slytherin ran a fingertip along her jaw line, down the hollow of her throat and let his hand lay atop her breast.

"Do you really want to question the infinity of things that you don’t know?" he murmured, and despite that he was touching her, that all thought had left her except for the pleasurable knowledge that his hand was very warm, Hermione's mind buzzed back to life.

This was the moment that mattered most in her sojourn, and Hermione regarded it with a growing trepidation. Any answer she could've given him would lead her down unknown, superfluous path that inevitably came across the same destination. The fear in the pit of her stomach, boiling hot and vile, knew what Hermione's fate was.

"I—" Speech died in her throat as Malfoy's nimble fingers cautiously moved the tattered fabric from her chest, and he lowered his mouth. For a dizzying second, nothing mattered more in the world than this moment, than the uninterrupted actions that Malfoy would perform.

His silver eyes flickered to hers, seizing her soul, and Hermione just forgot. Logic slipped away, and the realm between good and evil, right and wrong, Gryffindor and Slytherin, vanished.

Malfoy lifted his head. "You were saying?" Her mind only chanted for him to continue what he was doing, instead of this, talking to her as if her consent really mattered. Yes, she wanted him to go on, make her ache, release the fires within her—

But then— 'do you really want to question the infinity of things that you don't know?'

"No," she whispered before she could stop herself, voice barely more than the smallest noise, more afraid than anytime before. Malfoy smiled faintly, and dipped his head to kiss her.

And as he kissed her, indecisiveness flowed through her like electricity. Should she fight him again? Give him the twisted pleasure of it? No, she shouldn't fight him if it was what he wanted... or at least not fight the same way.

Hermione recalled the day before, when Malfoy had been gentle, and she had been vicious. If her strange behavior confused him, should she not attempt to confuse him again, with even stranger behavior? Hermione smiled to herself, knowing how both to win, and to feel.

She knew how to fight.

All was not lost.

Ron was who she needed to imagine she was kissing, Ron when he hadn't cheated on her, when he treasured her more than his brand new broomstick, more than 50 galleons, more than life itself… not nearly as much as she cherished him, though.

If Hermione wanted to win, she needed a change of tact; Malfoy said desire drove her, but Hermione was going to counter with love, something she knew the Slytherin hadn't experienced before. If she could just pretend, from now on, that Malfoy was not above her, but that it was Ron, sweet, comical Ron, laughing, grinning, freckled and beautiful…

Eyes slid closed and Hermione found herself basking in the image of Ron. She could picture the red hair, the permanent smell of butter beer and firewood. His freckles, the infinite number that could look as if Ron had a tan, overwhelmed her mind for a moment. And his kind features; his smile... his smile that looked more like a smirk... a smirk...?

But there was something wrong. His eyes... they weren't the deep, lost blue Hermione loved. They were very light… grey almost... so grey in fact... they were silver...

It couldn't be happening, it just couldn't.

Who was she picturing in her mind?

Ron Weasley, or Draco Malfoy?

-
-x-x-x-
-


Author's Notes:
YEAH! Finally done with that chapter! It was fun, and my imagination told me to do it. Its name happens to be Satan.

I hope you all enjoyed this chapter! I'm so sorry it took this long!

And gosh, thanks Weirdly for betaing this for me! I absolutely adore you!

Please Review!



Chapter 16: Or Why I Have To Scream
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the character's of JKR's ingenious world!

And so um, sorry about the incredibly long absence? My bad!


The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

-
((--Chapter Sixteen--))

Or Why I Have to Scream


-

Tuesday, October 27
Day 10


She knew how it went now.

She knew how to fight.

All was not lost.

Ron was who she needed to imagine she was kissing, Ron when he hadn't cheated on her, when he treasured her more than his brand new broomstick, more than 50 galleons, more than life itself… not nearly as much as she cherished him, though.

If Hermione wanted to win, she needed a change of tact; Malfoy said desire drove her, but Hermione was going to counter with love, something she knew the Slytherin hadn't experienced before. If she could just pretend, from now on, that Malfoy was not above her, but that it was Ron, sweet, comical Ron, laughing, grinning, freckled and beautiful…

Eyes slid closed and Hermione found herself basking in the image of Ron. She could picture the red hair, the permanent smell of butter beer and firewood. His freckles, the infinite number that could look as if Ron had a tan, overwhelmed her mind for a moment. And his kind features; his smile... his smile that looked more like a smirk... a smirk...?

But there was something wrong. His eyes... they weren't the deep, lost blue Hermione loved. They were very light… gray almost... so gray in fact... they were silver...

It couldn't be happening, it just couldn't.

Who was she picturing in her mind?

Ron Weasley, or Draco Malfoy?



The unexpected combination of Ron and Malfoy sent her reeling into a vertigo of confusion; how could she be seeing them both at once? The thought that somehow head or heart confused one soul with another terrified her; consciously she aware that this white-haired earth devil was here torturing her, and the fiery red-head was somewhere else, somewhere safe. They was no mistaking one with the other... but then how did she? And what did it mean?

Any moral, any meaning, any sort of motivation to shame everything that defined Malfoy went spinning from her mental grasp; she was lost in the sea of darkness that had been slowly drowning her since the stay in this hollowed out hell. Hermione believed that picturing Ron would've given her an advantage because Malfoy had never felt such a thing, but instead of feeling incredibly wrong everything with Malfoy just felt right. She had no idea what was happening to her anymore.

Hermione hated how this devastating realization was forcing her to lose; it was panic and squirm at the thought of holding the thought of Malfoy dearly, or get over it and defeat him before anything else could be established.

The forced decision came in a moment; she tried not to focus on the thought of Ron that kept eroding into Malfoy's sharp face, but instead attempted to focus on the physical feel. She could taste Malfoy just as distinctly as Ron; she could touch him just as tenderly as Ron. She could put herself next to Ron as long as she didn't think she was with him. Worshiping a nameless god was simpler than fighting over a particular one, after all.

Fingers hard against skin, nails piercing into his scalp, Hermione knew the only way to conquer not only her own feelings but Malfoy also was to act as if he was Ron. But I cannot picture myself with him. I am not with him. I am alone. This is just a-- a dream, Hermione's mind reminded her; a very terrible dream.

Arms slipping around her waist, holding onto Hermione possessively was something Ron never did. The deviation of how Ron (not Ron, not Ron) was supposed to act shoved her off course for a moment. But she could pretend, she had to pretend. Every inch of her skin arched against his, tongue penetrating mouth, stealing what she wanted, what she needed. The desire, the lingering triumph that her tongue sought after was the right brand of heroin, the only kind that would pull her ahead.

Goosebumps erupted in silent patterns on his taut shoulder as her fingertips traced circles, and she felt victorious, proud that she could make his body feel. Her hand slipped down his back, encouraged the primal urges of his pelvic movements, and greedily lingered on his rippling muscles (Muscles that do not belong to Ronald, muscles that do not belong to Malfoy, the chant continued). The moan from the depth of his throat brought a slight smile to her lips; it was every intention of Malfoy's to make her want him, but now, he wanted her.

She was winning.

But her glory was short lived, because it seemed as if Malfoy had caught himself red-handed for giving into his desire, and in a quick movement gently planted kisses across her jaw and her neck, tracing deep circles under her ear with his tongue. Body on fire, Hermione couldn't restrain the responsive moan, the arch of her torso to his. More more more that she wasn't supposed to have but wanted; the touch, the feel, the kiss, the everything she wasn't allowed to have as everything gathered in an anxiously wonderful ball beneath her belly.

Malfoy's hand slowly worked their way down her exposed body to her skirt, tugging it slowly from her waist and down her legs, caressing the barely touched skin of her thighs, paying exceedingly close attention to what was always ignored. Because of this, Hermione had never felt so unsure of herself, torn in between loyalty and lust, logic and desire, right and wrong. Everything that was wrong just felt so good, a sin of the flesh she wasn't sure she wanted to be absolved of.

Clothes were shed, and the heated panting intensified, both of them caught up in the fire, both of them needing, wanting, taking, feeling what they shouldn't have been. Robes hastily tossed on the floor, skirt kicked away with an annoyed flick of her ankle, they pulled each other closer, mouths locked, hands intertwined in hair, body and heart swelling with much, much more than desire...

Trying to be this martyr, this fearless soldier, was too hard. All of a sudden, Hermione just gave up. She didn't care that it was Draco Malfoy, she didn't care that she had long since given up pretending it was Ron, and she didn't care that dangerously tender feelings for this arrogant Slytherin had slithered their way into her heart. And nothing was so obvious than her vulnerability, but even as that thought crossed her mind, she didn't care. Hermione wanted more of him, all of him; wanted never to leave him and wanted to always be there so she could feel this, this passion, this heat, this want, this love.

And as the thought had entered her mind, within moments it collided head on with her rationality, thrusting all desire out of her mind. Love and Draco Malfoy had just been associated willingly in her own mind. She ripped her mind out of the pleasured delirium that Malfoy had twisted around her, and rushed through what was happening. She was clutching his head to her neck, digging her fingernail gently into his scalp as she encouraged the delightful kisses on her neck. She was aware of her panting, her body beaded in perspiration and the quench for desire. His hands were placed suggestively on the naked skin of her breast, and the heat of her panties. Disgust poured over her as if the heavens had opened and rained mercilessly upon her.

But then, as soon as her self hatred had set in, Malfoy's lower hand began to work its magic, fingers moving so adroitly that she could do nothing else but choke on the crave for more that dried up her throat. Desire overcame her within moments and she forgot about everything that ever meant anything to her... except for this moment, and except for him.

What seemed ages later, Draco pulled away from the girl beneath him and caught his breath, looking down to her at the same time. Hermione seemed to share the same physical attributes at the moment; sweaty, bare, heaving and gasping for breath, chests rising and falling rapidly. Her exposure was a sort of victory for him, because she didn't care that her modesty had been forgotten. Her brown eyes were filled with defiance, yes, but at the same time clouded in lust, ready to pounce again just to fulfill her needs by using him.

In a fluid movement he pulled off his sweaty shirt, revealing the defined chest and arms that resembled that of a Greek god. With sly but arousing smirk, he slowly leaned down on top of her, and found his movement encouraged by the unusual behavior of Hermione Granger.

They kissing started immediately again. He ran his hands slowly over the curves of her body, letting her body tremble under his touch before he ran his hands through her hair. She arched her back as his hand rested on her thigh, gravitating slowly towards the juncture of her legs. Smirking against her skin as he listened to her suppressed pleasured noises, Malfoy took the small, delicate hands from his shoulders and guided Hermione's downward over his taut, sculpted body. Willingly obliging, Hermione's hands drank in the seductive skin, too caught up in the cloud of lust to realize what Malfoy was doing until her fingers found themselves winding through thick, short hair that could really only be found on one place of Malfoy's body.

“Malfoy, what are you--” Her concern for her hand was silenced as Malfoy slammed his mouth back onto hers. Noises of protest rose from her throat as she tried to wrench her tongue away from him.

Malfoy laced his fingers through hers and forced open her palm; her hammering heart seemed to drown out all of her other senses, and she could only feel the terrifying panic that was now gushing through her veins. Malfoy smiled against her skin as a stunned gurgle rose from her throat when he gentle enclosed her fingers around him.

This new sensation snapped Hermione back to attention; never had she felt this kind of heat, this kind of desire driven pulse, and with each throb that went through her fingers she was shoved towards rationalization, towards reality, towards control.

“Good girl, Granger,” Malfoy murmured against her neck, squeezing his hand harder around his; Hermione twitched underneath him and tried to muster up all the functional courage in her body.

“S-stop it,” she finally managed to whimper, and even that crushed all the energy she had, for now all she could do was tremble under Malfoy's control; a slow chuckle escaped his throat as he continued to have his way with her hand.

She was terrified, but nothing could escape her. Everything was quivering inside of her like fire, churning uncomfortably and waiting to burst and scamper away. Squeezing her eyes shut, Hermione tried to capture all the surging fear inside of her to push herself forward, to take control; it built and it bubbled horribly in her stomach, squirming like a snake, tearing away at her insides and ripping her apart.

And then, it combusted, and uncontrolled anger rushed through her, searing at her fingers and skin and throat. It sped through her, burning up her veins, boiling her blood, and the scream that echoed through the air was not her own but Malfoy's, a surprised pain that kept slipping from within him.

The painful fire that overtook Hermione's body slowed to a throb, and a new sort of fear crept into her lungs as she realized that had bit Malfoy's shoulder in an attempt to get away from him. His shoulder was ripped open, as if by a werewolf, blood dripping in rivulets down his sweaty chest.

Malfoy's shock echoed Hermione's, for it was apparent that neither of them had expected something so violent to derive from her. Malfoy touched the blood slowly, cautiously, as if it were acid. Hermione's heart pounded in her throat when it was clear his surprise turned to fury.

The fire in his eyes was more intense than any sort of fire she had in her body, and she could only flinch beneath his vicious gaze before she was flinching as his fingers enclosed around her throat and her back was slammed against the wall.

“Do you think that was funny, mudblood?” he snarled. “Was biting me a smart idea to you? Huh?”

There was no time for a response, only a weak cry of fear as he flung her body back to the ground; she huddled and tried to control the jagged breathing that accompanied the flood of tears, but it was no use. Malfoy grabbed at her legs and snatched at her skirt.

“Is this funny? Is it?” he spat at her, ignoring her screams of protest as he flung her skirt aside and started grabbing at her shirt. “Still going to bite me? Well?!”

Teared clothing fluttered in the air like snow as desperate sobbing bounced off the walls of her earthy prison; Malfoy pried everything from her body before he flung her away in disgust.

Hermione cradled her naked body in the corner, praying he would leave her be. He inched towards her, a hungry wolf to a helpless lamb, and she whimpered. “How would you like it,” Malfoy started in a slow, dark voice, “if I took something very precious from you?”

“P-Please don't!” she cried out hoarsely; Malfoy's face twisted furiously, unpleasantly, a lip curled in hatred.

“What if,” he spat, “you could never ever get it back?” He made a sudden lunge for her, stopping just sort of her bruised body. Pressing her forehead into her knees, she could do nothing but cry as he took a fistful of hair and yanked her eyes up to meet his. Only a sliver of a second passed before her brown eyes were pressed shut.

Look at me,” he growled, and when she disobeyed him, he roared at her. “NOW!”

Meek brown cowered beneath silver fire, and his eyes narrowed to slivers. “I could ruin you in a moment, Granger,” he whispered slowly. “I could rip you in half.”

Her lip trembled; “Please, no,” she uttered. “P-Please.”

With her plead, he snatched up her arm, hoisting her from her balled position and tossed her as easily as a rag doll back to the lump of cloth that could barely be called a bed. She had no time to preserve her modesty, she had no time to scramble away, because Malfoy had her pinned in a second.

Regarding her heaving sobs apathetically, he glared down at her, and she could nothing. White blonde shards of his hair fell before his eyes as he leaned down to her face, hovering over her eyes. Blood from his shoulder dripped in a crimson pool on her, but she was frozen beneath him despite it.
“I will ruin you someday,” he whispered, eyes narrowed. “I promise.”

And then, Malfoy gently kissed her chapped mouth, released her body, and left without a second glance at her.

Nothing in this world seemed real to her anymore; not the shredded clothes that she tried to put back on her body, not the cuts and bruises Malfoy was constantly inducing upon her, nor the tears that fell from her eyes.


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Wednesday, October 28
Day 11




Hermione awoke the next day by the stinging pangs of hunger, and their relentlessness kept her awake.

The memories of the previous day haunted her mind, the image of Malfoy hovering over her, the way he pressed his body into hers.

She hated it, but it was the right kind of heroine that she could never wean herself off of. Her body craved his; she wanted to feel him, wanted to taste him, smell him, touch him, hold him. This sick desire for the devil was ruining her, shredding her logic and loyalty and she hated how she wasn’t stopping it, hated how she wasn’t fighting him like she used to.

He was taking over her.

Too soon to her liking, dusk started to fall. Her solitude was now a burden, and Draco’s absence was just as tangible as the hunger in her stomach. She was anxious for his return, even if he had terrified her the previous day. That terror, that fear, drew her closer, because she knew his gentle moments amounted to more than anything else.

Sooner than she expected, heavy footsteps echoed off of the dirt hallways outside her prison room and she found herself hoping for someone that she shouldn’t have. The door swung open, and her heart hammered against her chest once more.

It was Troy.

He was wearing a thick black cloak accented by jade robes underneath. He was carrying a paper bag like Draco had the day before; he smiled and tossed it to her, but Hermione made no move to snatch it out of the air.

“Why are you here?” Hermione blurted before she could stop herself. Quirking an eyebrow at her, Troy smirked.

“Eager to see Draco?” Troy suggested slyly.

“No, I am not eager to see Draco,” Hermione answered with a sneer. “I was just asking out of curiosity.”

"No worries Granger, I won't tell Draco you miss him," Troy said with a dramatic sigh.

"But where is he, really?" Hermione persisted.

"He had to go back to Hogwarts," he answered with a heavy sigh, shrugging at her gape. "The Ministry has been accusing him of kidnapping you, and Uncle Lucius and my father have been doing everything they could to put an end to it. Well yesterday, they showed up at the Manor and no one was home. The Ministry made a huge fuss over that and Draco got accused and all that jazz. He had to go to a full trial with all the Wizengamot and all that stupid rubbish last night when he left here.”

“And?” Hermione breathed.

“And he got off, but only just. So now Lucius and my father said it was best if Draco returned to school because then it seems as if he isn't participating in anything illegal. So, since hardly anyone knows me, I'm here to watch you for a while since Draco had his fun and now he's back in school."

Devastation hit Hermione like a truck at full speed. He had everything she wanted, he was everything she wanted, and now he was gone. All of it was gone. He was a tangible reminder that Hogwarts was still there, that students still existed, that maybe she could still escape because he managed to escape anytime he wanted to.

It wasn't fair. It just wasn't fair.

"You miss him, don't you?” Troy murmured. Hermione looked him square in the eye and simply nodded.

“I'm such a fool,” she whispered. Cupping her face in her hands, angry tears welled up in her eyes. “I fell for all of it. For him, for all of his lies, for the thought that maybe he could get me out of here.”

“That's the truth, Granger. Congratulations,” Troy said quietly. "Once a Malfoy, always a Malfoy."

"And you can't trust the lot of them!" she cried angrily, wiping furious tears from her cheeks.

Troy started to speak slowly, almost cautiously. “I'm going to tell you everything he wouldn't. He fed you lies and you ate them like a starving animal, Granger.”

“Don't remind me,” she muttered.

"Everything you asked him about the Lumerous Witch, the thirteenth house, everything... he knew all the answers. You were too naive to not think twice about it." The pity in his voice was overwhelmingly evident, and Hermione hated herself for it.

“Somehow, I trusted him,” she whispered to herself.

Saying it aloud made the betrayal even worse; it was true, but only because she had no one else to hold onto it. It was trust his lies or go insane. Hermione couldn't decide now which one was worse.

Answers that she hadn't received before poured from Troy's mouth, and bitterly she listened.

“... Lumerous Witch is born, obviously, when the planets are aligned. When that happens another time in history, that witch can do a number of extraordinary things," Troy explained. “Anything that has to do with light, in one form or another, can be done.”

Musing about that, Hermione asked slowly, “So, I can manipulate forms of light?”

“I guess,” Troy answered. “Lots of thing derive from light. Heat, fire, magic, even more.”

“What about impurity? Is it as obvious as it seems?”

“Essentially. You're as pure as they get,” Troy said, then smirked. “Well not anymore, I guess. Still a virgin though, that's all that counts.” Hermione groaned in frustration, while he continued on. “There was something about that journal that mentioned Artemis--”

“She was a Greek Goddess that rewarded chastity,” Hermione mumbled.

“Yes, and that was why that other Lumerous witch died, because she shagged someone. It's a bit hard, isn't it? I mean, not being able to get any."

“Ugh! I wouldn't be in this mess if I had just given in to Ron in the first place!” cried Hermione angrily. “Just my luck.”

“Anyway, the Thirteenth House is located in the center of the earth, almost like Hell but not quite. The other twelve houses are located on the surface of the earth, designated by how the sun rises or something like that,” he informed her.

“It's attributes?” Hermione demanded.

“Erm, it hosts subconscious emotions, pain of all sorts and varieties, and the extremities of your emotions.”

“And?”

“... Lies, torture, and death, I think?” he replied uncertainly, ticking off his fingers as he listed the attributes. “Its The House of Magical Emotions because it is said that Magic comes from the earth, you know, and can obviously induce feelings you can't get anywhere else. Hecate rules the House. But for what reason I cannot tell you.”

After a moment of thinking about the astrological knowledge that had been quenched, she noticed her hands. Like the ring around her body below her neck, the wound has slowly healed into something like a burn scar. It was shiny and very smooth, more than her normal skin, and it blended exceptionally well. She lifted a palm to Troy.

“And these?” she asked quietly.

"The only information I am not allowed to release," he said with a sympathetic smile. She sighed dejectedly but nodded.

"Why me?" she whispered, looking up at him with sad eyes. He stared back at her silently. "I never wanted any of this.”

The realization that her life was now condemned, and there was no chance of release sudden swallowed her whole: there was no escape, there was no help, and there was no hope. Her helplessness was the only part of her that she could control, because Malfoy, this sullen prison, and the Dark Lord controlled everything else. Hermione no longer owned herself; she was a slave, and she knew it.

"When is this all going to end?" she sobbed desperately, saline dripping down her cheeks in a steady flow. He smiled sadly at her.

"I promise you, it will end soon enough."

-

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Author's Note:
Like my friends says, I had a Satan moment. This wasn't a cliffhanger, but I think there's enough of suspense in this chapter. Especially with this chapter! If you think I should up the rating, TELL ME.

A thanks and a scowl to Dylan for encouraging me to continue writing this, but for distracting me in the meantime.

I'm so sorry about the hiatus! Please keep reading and reviewing!


Chapter 17: It's a Never Ending Story
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
 
But I do own a bag of caramel kisses and Troy Malfoy!

 
The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

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((--Chapter Seventeen--))
 
It's a Never Ending Story

 
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The realization that her life was now condemned, and there was no chance of release sudden swallowed her whole: there was no escape, there was no help, and there was no hope. Her helplessness was the only part of her that she could control, because Malfoy, this sullen prison, and the Dark Lord controlled everything else. Hermione no longer owned herself; she was a slave, and she knew it.

"When is this all going to end?" she sobbed desperately, saline dripping down her cheeks in a steady flow. He smiled sadly at her.

"I promise you, it will end soon enough."


October 28
Day 11

 
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Things hadn't been this tense between Ron and Harry since fourth year, but things had never been this dangerously fragile either. Icy looks were shot between them, and as much as Harry desperately needed his best friend back, he stayed away. Ron's anger could be justified, but Harry knew more then anything that the rash redhead was more than likely to make a scene with the newly established information and the rift between the two best mates.

Harry seemed to be drowning, or rather, suspended motionless in midair as the rest of the world spun around him; people blended into color and noise, and only a few precious faces stood out to him. Hermione, the most prevalent thought on his mind was also the most confusing: for the last few nights, her presence haunted Harry's slumber and pieced together mysteries no one could be sure of.

Because of this, Harry felt more alone than ever.

Of course everyone was still worried and distressed about her disappearance, but it seemed like the shell shock had worn off a tad; life continued on in the castle, with whispers of disbelief and hopeful thoughts for her return, but it seemed as if people were pushing it from their minds. Harry refused to forget her. Even if he wanted to, it was impossible; she seemed to be haunting him.

Dumbledore, McGonagall and Snape had been absent since the day Harry revealed information to the Headmaster; the Order, unlike the castle, was still on high alert and doing everything they could to locate Hermione Granger. At least they still remember, Harry was constantly thinking to himself. He couldn't stand the idea of people forgetting her.

On a few rare occasions that were happening more and more frequently, a soothing presence calmed him whenever Ginny was around. He was becoming more and more aware of his attraction to Ron's little sister (who hadn't really looked like a little sister for quite a while) and the sickening guilt of Hermione's disappearance had stopped him from any sort of progress with Ginny.

After an exhausting night of forlorn thought and little to no sleep, Harry trudged down the common room stairs and sunk into the couch. He gazed into the fire, letting his mind slowly fill with sleep; he needed something, anything, to distract him from the depression he was falling into.

Ron was still on Harry-Hating mode, so it was rather clear that the Boy-Who-Lived would need to find other means of moral support, because this sort of pain and worry could not be kept inside.

He needed Ginny more than anything; just the thought of her countered his constant worrying with a blissful sort of feeling. The guilt that ate away at him for even wanting anything with Ginny now of all times was becoming unbearably sickening; Ginny was a painkiller, and he needed a much larger dosage.

Hermione would want me to be happy, Harry thought feebly to himself. But sure enough, the more he thought about it, the more he saw Hermione's beaming face encouraging him. So, as carefully as he could, Harry stalled time outside of the Gryffindor portrait, tying his shoe, then the other, and then leaned over the railing to pretend he was looking for someone. It was a long time before he even heard Ginny laughing.

The portrait swung open, and he caught the end of her laughter. “Yeah, yeah! And then she said, bloody hell I'm sorry! Ha! And he just walked away... Hello Harry!” Ginny chirped as soon as she saw him waiting awkwardly.

“Hello! Mind if I walk down with you?” he asked, trying to sound as pleasant and normal as possible (though it was in vain; his voice had surely raised an octave already).

“Not at all,” Ginny answered warmly, smiling.

It was admittedly uncomfortable as Ginny, Lavender and Parvati continued their giggly gossip about some boy in Ravenclaw, but Harry kept telling himself it was very worth it.

As they approached the great hall doors, the sounds and smells of breakfast enticing as ever, Harry tried to work up the nerve to pull Ginny aside.

Do it, Harry, just do it! Hermione's voice, more alive than ever, seemed to echo in his mind.

“Ginny, do you think I could talk to you for a tic?” Harry asked, rubbing the back of his neck and trying to cough subtly, as if to rid his body of nervousness. Ginny smiled, “Sure!” and parted from Lavender and Parvati, who seemed more giggly than ever.

Just as he was getting his wits about him, a sudden roar of noise came from within the great hall; Harry and Ginny, who had been looking at each other silently, glanced at the doors suspiciously before looking back at each other.

“So...” Ginny started slowly, smirking as if she knew where this conversation would eventually go. Harry now pulled at his collar nervously. His mouthed opened and shut a few times before he closed his eyes and groaned at himself aloud.

“Sorry, I just, erm...” Harry mumbled. Ginny gave him an encouraging smile, and suddenly, he felt better. “Do you—do you, I dunno, want to, err, be my—my girlfriend?”

“I would love to be your girlfriend, Harry,” Ginny responded calmly, as if agreeing that it was indeed cold outside. He released a heavy gulp of air he hadn't realized he had been holding, before laughing in relief.

“Don't know why that was so difficult,” Harry admitted honestly, and Ginny shrugged.

“It's like stage fright,” she said, taking his hand; “You get over it.”

Together they started into the great hall, fingers intertwined in a lovely warmth. Harry attempted to ignore the hundreds of thoughts rushing through his mind; mainly just how Ron would maim him for fancying his little sister and how awful it was to have someone else on his mind other than Hermione.

“Do you think Hermione would be happy with this?” Harry asked quietly; Ginny squeezed his fingers.

“Yes, I think she would be very happy with this,” Ginny answered. “Look, Harry, I understand that things are awfully sad right now, with Hermione missing and everything, but I know more than anything that she would want us to be determined and happy than miserable and moping around as we looked for her.” Harry considered her words thoughtfully, and nodded.

“You're right,” he answered.

“Well of course I'm right!” Her grin was contagious.

“Do you think Ron will be mad?”

“Oh yes.”

Breakfast was awaiting, and so the newly joined couple entered the great hall, discussing just how violently Ron would react. However, their pleasant moment was destroyed just as easily as it was created as they simultaneously spotted Draco Malfoy at the Slytherin table.

Rage like nothing else surged through Harry, electrifying him. The blinding fury took over his senses until he realized Ginny was trying to restrain him from sprinting to Malfoy. Ginny muttered something darkly under her breath and guided Harry forcibly to the Gryffindor table, pushing him into the seat before sitting down next to him. Harry noticed something immediately; every single Gryffindor was talking to the neighbor with looks of deep anger and disgust, frequently casting glares over their shoulder to a platinum blond across the hall. They clearly were not happy about Malfoy's return, Harry thought, and neither was he.

Harry observed Malfoy with daggers in his eyes. The Slytherin was sitting with his head propped up feebly, stirring the contents of his bowl, as if he were falling asleep. His normally nicely kept hair was askew and messed up like Harry's was, and he kept snapping at the people who were clearly badgering him with questions about his absence.

“I can't believe this,” Ginny hissed, glowering at Malfoy across the hall. “What is he doing here?”

"No idea," Harry growled, "But he isn't going to be here long. I won't let him.”

"I can't believe he came back! After everything that's been said! It's so stupid! Even for him!" Ginny exclaimed, picking up a fork and stabbing her breakfast angrily.

"Noticed, have you?" Dean asked darkly from a few seats down. Ron and Seamus were talking in low, vicious voices, undoubtedly about Malfoy.

"What is he doing?!" Harry burst out angrily. "Not after everything he's done! He should be in Azkaban!"

Breakfast was a sure sign that the rest of Harry's day would be downhill. For starters, he rarely saw Ginny in between classes, only catching a glimpse of her fiery hair in the hallways. Then, in Charms, Flitwick assigned Harry and Ron to be partners, which turned out to be an awful idea, for they nearly started dueling (but were threatened with detentions, so they stopped). Lastly, he received so much homework that it was going to be near impossible to finish by their due dates, and to top it off, he had Divination before dinner.

“Hello class,” murmured an eerie voice as students entered into the divination room. “I foresaw your arrival.” Trelawney entered and peered around at them with wide eyes.

"Here we go again..." Ron mumbled from behind Harry; the lack of enthusiasm in his voice was more than obvious. Seamus sat down next to the Weasley, while Dean dropped into a seat next to Harry with a grunt, understandably irritated with the class. It was a common theme for all Divination students.

"Today, we will, once again, interpreting the mysteries of our minds as they slumber. Often times, dreams occur when the mind is in its deepest sleep, although subconscious dreams happen just as often, and contain just as much meaning.” Trelawney cautiously paced between the tables, clutching her shawl protectively about her, staring with large eyes down at bored students.

After a great pause which was surely intended for dramatic effect, she continued. “After studying my crystal ball, I felt that it was safe for us to divide into partners and discuss those dreams in which you might have had; one from a deep sleep, and one from the subconscious state of mind.”

With a grumble of recalcitrance and disbelief, Harry flipped his divination book to chapter 27 that contained multifarious interpretations of the simplest dreams, ranging from one extreme to another.

Dean eyed the professor carefully before he said anything to his partner. "This is such a load of rubbish," Dean complained.

“Always has been,” Harry sighed. “I wish I could take something else instead of this flimsy topic.” Dean grunted in agreement as he also searched for the page.

“I think she's out to kill you,” Dean said in mock honesty, and the boys laughed. “I mean, all she tells you is that everything amounts to the Grim stalking you around!”

“Either that or I'll be eaten by a marshmellow,” Harry added.

“Now boys, have you discussed anything yet?” Trelawney approached Harry and Dean and the boys scrambled to muster up a dream.

“Quick, come on!” Dean whispered.

“You're the artist, Dean!” Harry hissed.

“Art as in art!”

“Art incorporates anything creative, Dean!”

“Does not!”

“Does too!”

“Now boys,” the divination professor uttered in a shaky voice that seemed more forced than natural; “what sort of images have haunted your mind as you dwell in slumber?”

Harry and Dean looked at each other. “Search me,” Harry said bluntly.

“I know, Harry,” an all too familiar voice piped up from across the room; Harry turned to glare at Ron, voice full of bravado and spite splashed across his face, “How about the dream where you were thrashing about like mad, Harry? You know, you were laughing like mad!”

A hot, seething feeling had risen in Harry's chest, boiling into his throat, but he kept calm. “I don't know what you're talking about,” Harry managed to say through gritted teeth.

"Who, Potter? Do tell! Have you had dreams like that?" she asked with great interest; most of the class had already lost interest in whatever they had been doing, easily distracted by the conversation that was quivering on the brink of combustion.

"No,” Harry said quickly.

"Oh yes you have!" Ron cried angrily, and Harry knew it was just to get back at him. The class was dead silent, eager to hear everything.

“Weasley, what--?”

"Professor, he was in the common room and I woke him up because he was laughing and thrashing like mad! And he's done it before, too!" Ron said with a malicious smugness only worthy of Malfoy. The class was now murmuring among themselves, excited and curious.

"What are these dreams about, Potter?" Trelawney asked quickly.

"Oh, he'll never tell you, he never tells anyone anything except the Headmaster," Ron sneered, shooting Harry and icy look.

It was too much for him to handle; this intentional humiliation had gone too far, and Harry was never one to keep himself under control. Fuming, Harry shoved himself away from the table, snatching his bag and heading straight for the exit, quivering with rage.

“Oh, now he's going to go cry to Dumbledore about it,” Ron said loudly; there was a general snicker throughout the room.

With a fluid movement, Harry whipped his bag aside and drew his wand, screaming, “Shut up!”

“Why should I?” the Weasley roared back. There was no hesitation, because Ron matched his stance, boiling with anger as uncontrollable and dangerous as Harry's.

“I never asked for any of this to happen! Merlin, you're such a thick headed git and all you care about is yourself! None of this is my fault!”

“Well maybe if you had told me what was going on--!”

“What is it, Ron?” Harry cut across viciously. “Are you jealous that I'm going insane with these—these nightmares?”

Ron was momentarily struck silent, dumbfounded.

"Jealous? Jealous?" he cried. "How could I be jealous of a maniac like you who has dreams about You-Know-Who? How could I be jealous when you're so insecure you don't even tell your best friend whatever the hell you know about Herm—her!” Ron seemed shocked at himself for his uncontrolled outburst, but a second later, he had exploded again. “About her! You knew, Harry! You didn't even tell me! You're the git!" Ron roared back, threatening to spill over with angry tears.

Harry clenched his hair with a furious noise, clutching his shaking head and body, frustrated that Ron could even manage to think that this had been done on purpose. The fact that the entire class, professor included, was watching him with alarm and excitement enraged him even more.

"It isn't my fault I have stupid bloody dreams like that! And I would've told you if you been trying to help instead of moping around like it was the end of the world! And don't make this my problem, I'm not the insecure one, you are!” Harry accused suddenly, a rigid finger pointed at Ron, leaving no room for mistake. “She was your best friend, too!”

Recollecting himself, Harry summoned his bag and slung it over his shoulder, chest still rising and falling rapidly with furious anger. “You could've helped her, but you just broke her heart instead,” Harry hissed, watching as Ron's eyes widened in disbelief.

Whipping around, he snatched open the trapdoor and started down it angrily before he heard the excited talk of the class again. His heart was pounding in his throat as he stormed down the corridor.

These past fews nights, everything was a terrifying reality that shadowed Harry like a rain cloud day and night. Hermione was all his mind could concentrate on, awake or asleep. His slumber revealed the night she had disappeared, the way Ron had so effortlessly broken her heart, the way her vulnerability encouraged Malfoy and both enraged Harry, and the way she didn't seem to ever really fight Malfoy until it was too late.

Something had been changed inside of Hermione, broken forever, and Malfoy had been the one to misuse it to his advantage. Yes, it didn't make any sense that Hermione could've been soothed by that Slytherin, that monster, but in a way, she needed someone, anyone, to help her. And Harry had to admit, however cowardly and vicious Malfoy could be, he wasn't stupid.

The miserable image of Hermione's kidnapping over and over again in his mind was interrupted by a familiar sneer. He halted in his tracks, withdrawing his wand before he turned the corner and observed.

"Give it back or I'll slug you!" Ginny snarled, waving a fisted hand at Draco Malfoy, who was holding Ginny's wand above her head and jeering at her.

"Come on, Weasley, jump for it, that's all you weasels can do anyway!" Malfoy sneered.

"Give it back, you-- you kidnapper!" Ginny snarled, making a wild snatch for her wand but refusing to jump.

"What did you just call me?" Malfoy hissed, his face now twisted in anger instead of the malicious glee it was before.

"I called you a kidnapper, you dolt!" she trilled, making another snatch. "And give me back my bloody wand!"

Malfoy, with a deadly look in his eyes, grabbed Ginny by the collar and threw her against the wall. A cry of pain echoed the hallway as she cradled her now awkwardly bent arm. Harry threw himself towards Ginny as Malfoy withdrew his own wand, ready to reap vindication.

"Don't you dare touch her, Malfoy!" Harry snarled, whipping out his wand and stepping in front of Ginny.

"Oh look, Weasley, your boyfriend's here to save you," the Slytherin said scathingly, a smirk tilted on his face.

"If you ever go near Ginny or Hermione again I will personally strangle you to death, Malfoy," Harry threatened softly, his eyes narrowed to slits, his wand in Malfoy's face.

"Granger?" Malfoy asked, taken aback. "Granger? What's she got to do with this?" Harry curled his lip.

“I know what you did to her. I know what happened the night she disappeared. I saw it, and I'm not stupid,” he uttered with a dangerous softness. The smirk that had once resided on Malfoy's face had disappeared, and suddenly, his expression matched Harry's.

"You think I kidnapped her? Think again, Potter, I haven't laid a finger on that Mudblood. No one has. I know about as much as you, which is, in fact, nothing," Malfoy growled in a low voice, glaring at Harry.

“You've never been a very good liar, Malfoy. You're a lunatic, and so is Voldemort. And you will pay for hurting her,” Harry promised spitefully. He helped Ginny up, and turned back to Malfoy one last time.

“Give me her wand back, and maybe I'll spare you,” he said coldly. Malfoy, surprisingly, handed it over, gray eyes narrowed to icy slits. Harry glared at him, not wanting to turn his back on the Slytherin for a single moment. Ginny, though clearly hurt, was just a furious at Malfoy as Harry was.

“You won't get away with any of this,” she whispered fiercely, and before Harry could even nod in agreement, she spat in his face.

You little--” Malfoy's wand made a slashing movement, but Harry reacted just as quickly, heart thumping in anger and in fear.

"Progoto!” Seconds later, the blonde was crumpled on the floor, a thin cut across his face and a menacing look in his eyes. Harry nudged Ginny down the hall and watched Malfoy carefully as they left, but he did nothing more than stare at them as they left.

“That was a little scary, I'll admit,” Ginny said a while later as she and Harry arrived at the Hospital wing.

“But you were great,” Harry said with a grin. Although Madame Pomfrey threw a fit at how Ginny had 'fallen down the Gryffindor stairs', the bones were mended quickly and efficiently.

“Do you think Malfoy will just, you know, forget that I spat in his face?” Ginny asked, and when Harry gave her a look, they both laughed.

“You'll just have to have four eyes instead of two, from now on,” Harry advised.

“Like you?” she counted with a flirtatious look, and he smiled.

“Like me. But he's going to figure out a way to get back at you for that, if anything.”

While dinner was short and uneventful, the normal heaviness that Harry had felt for the past week or so was lightened slightly with Ginny around; having her did not fix Hermione's absence, but made it considerably easier to bear, because Harry knew that his girlfriend felt not only the same sadness, but the same fierce determination to bring her back.

Traveling up to the library to finish some homework, Harry avoided the thought that normally, he, Ron and Hermione would be visiting the dusty place together for their essays. However, Ginny filled the void slightly, and he would rather have her than have nothing, and having Ginny at least made him happy.

“So this essay I have about werewolves,” Ginny began as they set their things down on wooden tables. “It's difficult, right? You had it last year?”

“If I recall,” Harry said slowly. “Although I only managed to finish most of my essays because of Her-- because I had a lot of help.” There was a slightly awkward pause, the the heaviness returned to Harry again. “But I remember some of what I wrote.”

“Really?” Ginny asked in excitement, but Harry shook his head and laughed.

“I remember nothing, actually,” he chortled. “But I'll help you if you want me to.”

And Ginny did want him to. She requested a specific book on Lycanthropy that he had to fetch while she went in search of research about the Wolfsbane Potion. As he crossed many dusty isles and peered at dim titles, words drifted into Harry's ears that at first had no more significance than a foreign language did to him, but then completely made sense. His heart seized up, his stomach twisting in an uncomfortable knot as he listened on.

“The daily update, I'm assuming?” Harry peered between the shelves to see Malfoy perched on a table with a huge book opened in his lap, but a letter opened on its pages. A tall, thin Slytherin Harry recognized as Theodore Nott glanced over Malfoy's shoulder at the letter while also making sure no one was around.

“It gets better everyday,” Malfoy drawled. “He could only be half as entertaining in the letters to my father.”

“You read those too?” Nott asked quietly, and Malfoy scoffed.

“What, and bore myself to death? No, these have got the real stuff. Troy would never mention half of the things to my father.”

“For instance?”

Harry could tell, very suddenly, that this Nott fellow was much more clever than Malfoy understood. Observing the Slytherin, Nott had his hands folded primly behind his back, and his dark eyes glowed down at the letter, not with excitement, but rather with intelligence. Every time Malfoy turned to glance at him, Nott looked bored, but when the grey eyes were elsewhere, Nott's eyes were pouring over the letter that Malfoy kept leaving unguarded in his lap.

“For instance, 'Granger said your name a few times, Draco, and not Malfoy, which has been quite a bit of improvement since day one, don't you think?'” Malfoy read in a smug drawl. “You must understand--”

“I understand well enough, I think,” Nott cut him off, and Malfoy raised a thin eyebrow. “No one in their right minds calls you Draco anyway, except for Pansy.” The two boys looked at each other and chuckled softly.

“He also says here, She's been asking about you, and it was more than obvious that she was disappointed with my appearance rather than yours. It seems you've given her something to miss, if you know what I mean.' Not so bad, I would think,” bragged Malfoy as he began to fold up the letter, but Nott stopped him.

“Let me just read it,” he asked politely, but Malfoy shook his head. Nott narrowed his eyes. “I just want to make sure that you're not making these things up as you go, Malfoy, because I've known you quite some time, and you do lie.”

“I do not lie about things like this,” Malfoy said indignantly, but just the same he unfolded the letter. Nott held out a hand, but Malfoy kept it back.

He began to read it in a low voice, and Harry had to take a step closer to hear him. “Draco . . . It seems as if all goes well here, with or without you. I think your father and mine will be pleased with the impression you've made on Granger, because she's very vulnerable and not nearly as harsh as when we started. She said your name a few times, Draco, and not Malfoy, which has been quite a bit of improvement since day one, don't you think? I mean, considering that she wouldn't even look at you without getting mad, which is quite the opposite now. And since--”

“What do you mean, quite the opposite now?” Nott cut across Malfoy, who smirked.

“I made a deal with the little Mudblood, and although it may seem disgusting at first, it wasn't so bad as you might think,” Malfoy said slowly. Nott quirked an eyebrow, and his face seemed sharp, and hooded, and to Harry, it seemed perfectly well that he knew what Malfoy meant.

“How far?” Nott said quietly.

“Not as far as I would've like, but the virginity thing is rather pivotal in what's going on,” Malfoy sighed. “That's not to say nothing happened, because that would certainly be a lie.”

After a moment of consideration, Nott gestured for Malfoy to read on. “Where was I? Ah, here . . . which is quite the opposite. And since you've left, she's been asking about you, and it was more than obvious that she was disappointed with my appearance rather than yours. It seems you've given her something to miss, if you know what I mean. I think the plans will fall rather nicely, considering she openly admitted to trusting you, and also admitted that she felt betrayed. What a fool, that Mudblood. The Hollow hasn't been very good to her, and I predict it won't be in the near future, either. You'll have to make it back at least once before the ceremony, just to tease her. Wouldn't that be cruel? I hope everyone believes you're innocent, though that's unlikely. Troy.”

Malfoy and Nott looked at each other, and after a tense moment, Nott nodded. “Impressive.”

“It's more than impressive, Nott,” Malfoy scoffed. “First off, Granger was the biggest prude I've ever met in my life, you have no idea how long it took me to convince her to do anything with me!”

“Well, seeing as she isn't a Slytherin, I expect just minutes after your proposal you were already impatient,” Nott drawled, inspecting his fingernails. Malfoy narrowed his eyes.

“I don't see you playing the dating game, Theo,” Malfoy said coldly. Nott glanced up.

“I don't play games like you, Draco,” Nott answered back just as coldly. At this, the dark Slytherin gave Malfoy a tight smile, and turned to leave.

“You should feel honored that I shared this with you, Nott,” Malfoy said in a low, dangerous voice.

Nott stopped, and without looking back, answered, “What gives you the impression that I'm not honored?” But after that, there was no exchange between them. Nott left, and Malfoy stared at the empty space that had previously contained his house mate.

“Harry?” Malfoy's blonde head whipped around, and although the Gryffindor fled the isle as fast as he could, he had a sinking feeling that Malfoy was all too aware of his presence.

Tearing wildly around a corner, Harry ran into Ginny and seized her by the shoulder. The redhead stared up at him with huge, surprised eyes. Harry shook her, and all at once what he had seen came pouring out of his mouth in a hushed, terrified whisper.

Any idea of what had gone on between Malfoy and Hermione, Harry had no definite way of knowing, other than inferring from Malfoy's all too clear words. It was obvious that something physical had been instigated between them, but Harry had a hard time grasping at that concept, or grasping at anything, to be perfectly honest. All he knew was that Malfoy had undeniably kidnapped Hermione, and if there had ever been any doubt before, there wasn't now.

By the time he was done, Ginny had paled considerably, and her freckles stood out against the white of her face. “A-Are you serious?” Ginny spluttered, clutching at her heart and gaping simultaneously.

“I know he's done something to her, but really Ginny, your guess is as good as mine, although Malfoy pretty much, well, spelled out what he did to her,” Harry said worriedly.

“Or what he didn't do,” Ginny added darkly.

“It's just that . . .” The moment of truth was now or never, to acknowledge the quiet fear that had become louder and brighter every passing second. “How could Hermione miss him? How could she stand to do anything with him?”

“I don't know,” Ginny whispered, eyes cast downwards to the floor. She grabbed Harry's hands, and looked up at him. “Whatever he did to her, Harry, it must've been bad, because we know how strong Hermione is. But no one is infallible.”

“I don't want to think about Hermione snapping under pressure,” Harry said quietly. “Especially for something like this. Even if they threatened her, I know Hermione better than that. She doesn't just . . .” But he couldn't go on from there, and did not want to, for fear of poisoning his loyalty and fierce belief in his friend. “I just wish I knew what she was thinking.”

“I have something of hers that might be of some help to you, Harry,” Ginny began. “I'm not really sure what it will do, but it's definitely a closer look into her head, if that will you figure things out.”

Harry was willing to do anything, so together they went back to the Gryffindor Tower as quickly as they possibly could. Harry waited anxiously below while Ginny dashed up to the girls' dormitory. He couldn't help but list off all of the problems that weighed him down: Hermione's kidnapping, this rift between him and Ron, and these persistent nightmares that could be either a blessing or a curse, or perhaps even both; and, of course, so much homework that if felt as if his head would burst from all the things he was supposed to be remembering.

However, when Ginny came down the stairs he felt a little sigh of relief, having hope that whatever Ginny was handing him was a key to fix one of these problems. She handed him a small book, but it felt quite heavy. Turning it over in his hands, he realized it was personal journal, and knowing Hermione, she had probably put a charm on it for infinite pages, which explained its weight.

He opened to a random page, and began to read the familiar neat cursive. Goodness, I've never been so stressed out in my life. All of these preparation for our exams, and it's only January. Of course, this must be expected, but it's useless to expect any help from Ron or Harry, regardless of the month. I don't expect they'll start studying until the week before exams. Sometimes I can hardly stand that pair. They weren't so bad at Christmas though, which was a relief since I spend almost all of my free time with the Weasley's anyway. It was rather nice, except Ron and I had another fight again . . . honestly, I think he's out to get me, I can't stand this much more . . .

“This was from last year!” Harry said, startling himself with his excitement. “I remember this from last year! Blimey, that was a bad fight . . .”

“I checked it, and it goes right up until the night before she was taken,” Ginny informed him quietly.

Harry closed the journal and stared down at its faded cover. Blue and peeling, Hermione had carved a heart into the back of it with the letters RBW scratched in the middle, and it made his heart squeeze up to recall just how much Hermione had loved Ron.

“I think this will help me a lot,” Harry said. “Even if it doesn't lead us straight to her, I think it will help my head, at least.”

Ginny leaned up and kissed his cheek gently. “Good. We can't have you going completely mental on us.” They laughed at this, but it was short lived, for the more Harry stared down at the journal, the more he missed Hermione, for this was a little piece of her soul organized neatly and honestly.

Later that night, Harry pulled his bed hangings around his bed and brought out Hermione's journal from his bag, and ran his fingers over it. Knowing that nothing would be accomplished if he continued to stare blankly at its cover while reminiscing, Harry opened it and began reading, unaware of the helpful information that was hidden between its endless pages.


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My goodness I haven't updated in like, a year or something obscene like that! I'm sorry to say that as a senior in high school, my infrequent updates will be getting less and less frequent, although I do want to get this story completely out, seeing as I finished it once before. I at least owe everyone that, right?

Please review, even if you hate me :)

Chapter 18: This is the Day
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, any of the characters or ideas that were ingeniously written by JK Rowling...  But I do own Troy Malfoy.

As a side note: I have been on a tremendous hiatus and writer’s block for a while. Sorry about that. That being said, I’ll try to pump out the last chapters as soon as I can, because we’re close. Anyway, editing this chapter killed me because, for the life of me, I cannot understand what the hell I was thinking when I threw some random Polish and Egyptian history stuff into the plot . . . all of that is completely unnecessary, and it makes me seem like an idiot. So, I apologize for that, because I know it doesn’t really make sense . . .


And now... on with the story!



 
The October Hollow
By Darkwing731
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((--Chapter Eighteen--))
This is the Day

 




October 29
Day 12

By the time Harry woke up for school the next morning, he felt like he would rather take a sleeping potion and stay in bed all day. He had spent all night trying to read Hermione's journal. He surfaced groggily from his turbulent dreams, sealing his eyes against the sunlight and hoping he could float back into slumber. However, the voices of the others boys pulled him from this desire.

"What's wrong with you, mate?" Seamus’ voice said.

"Nothing. I just didn't get any sleep last night. Ginny wouldn’t stop bickering with me and she wouldn’t let me come up here to bloody sleep,” Ron muttered.

"What was she yelling at you for?" Seamus asked curiously.

"You did all your homework,” Neville pointed out in Ron’s defense.

"And you practiced on the pitch for an extra half hour,” Dean piped up. “She’s got nothing to harp on about.”

There was a tense pause, where the silence was only penetrated by shuffling feet. "She wants me to apologize to Harry,” Ron admitted at last. “She says I don’t know the half of what’s going on . . . but he’s being an insufferable git.”

“You haven’t exactly been the cheeriest one on the block, either,” Dean reasoned. “Look. Hermione’s gone. You’re both miserable.”

“Well, I don’t think I should apologize to him!” Ron sniffed. “Ginny can’t make me, even if she wants me to.”

“Maybe not, but would Hermione want you to?” Neville asked. The girl’s name suddenly made everyone quiet, and Harry almost sat straight up in his bed to see if anyone was still there.

"I already feel guilty!” Ron burst out angrily. “Don’t you have a go at me, too!"

“Yeah, yeah . . .”

One by one, Harry heard all the seventh years shuffle out of the dorm, leaving Harry alone in silence. Catching Dean’s last remarks about Harry and Ginny, the Boy-Who-Lived forced himself out of bed, smiling in spite of the situation.

As Harry ambled down to breakfast, sitting next to Ginny, bits and pieces of Hermione’s journaling clung to the surface of his mind. Throughout the years, Malfoy had tormented Hermione with just as much relish as he did Harry and Ron; the Muggleborn knew that if she wanted to avoid tears she would just have to avoid Malfoy, because that was always the consequence of stepping in his way.

But that did not explain what he had overheard Malfoy bragging about to Theodore Nott; Malfoy and Hermione had done something together, something carnal and taboo and very unlike Hermione. Wracking the memory of Hermione’s writing, he tried to find some way to justify Hermione’s insanity.

His thoughts were interrupted by the great flock of owls that swooped into the Great Hall, and Harry’s hand automatically reached up to grab the Daily Prophet. Absentmindedly cutting up his omelet, he unfolded the newspaper with as much vigor as a tortoise, figuring that there would be nothing new to read.

One quick glance at the table of contents rendered him very, very wrong.

Flipping anxiously past reports on the minister of magic, Harry found Rita Skeeter’s article that detailed the one event that had been driving Harry towards the brink of hysteria: the kidnap of Hermione Granger.
 

Kidnap at Hogwarts

Although it has been said that Hogwarts is one of the safest places in the Wizarding world, this presumption was proved devastatingly wrong. On the night of October 17, it was rumored that the impenetrable tomb that was the safety of Hogwarts was broken, and in which one of the smartest witches of the generation was taken during early Halloween festivities.
Miss Hermione Granger, Head Girl and model student, appeared to be missing the next morning and was nowhere to be found. While many rumors that an outside force had taken Miss Granger, sources still agree that there is a Crup among the Kneazles at Hogwarts.






Although an interview with the headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, was demanded, it was impossible to book him for questioning. However, that did not stop the Prophet’s most loyal reporter; several people very close to Miss Granger were interviewed instead, the full extent of which can be read in my new book, Rita’s Reading. But regardless of the new book, all those who were interviewed agreed on one very dark thing: this kidnapped was by no means impulsive, but completely intentional. Several other rumors point fingers at another Hogwarts student that aided in the kidnapping of Miss Granger, but whose parents refused to give an interview and denied permission for their child’s name to be printed. Despite this, all those that have been questioned pine for Hermione Granger’s return as much as her parents.






"Hermione was a really good friend," says Susan Bones of Hufflepuff, "She knew a lot and she helped everyone with her homework. She knew just what to say when one of her friends was in trouble. Something like this shouldn’t have happened to her.”





Another student, whose name shall not be revealed, said this: "Yeah, everyone here misses her. It seems that, even in her absence, a lot of the things still remind me of her. Granger knew the answer to every question that any of our professor's asked us, being Head Girl and really smart. I almost miss her hand shooting into the air every five second to answer a question..."

Whether it was her classmates, strangers, loved ones or even school rivals, Hermione Granger is dearly missed and remembered by everyone in the wake of her absence.





Harry was in complete, utter shock. Not only did Rita Skeeter find out about Hermione, but also she had all of her information right! There were no exaggerations, no blatant lies, and no horrid rumors. Stunned, Harry did the first thing that came to mind. "Ron!"

Ron turned to look at Harry slowly, as if shocked to hear his name. "What?" the redhead asked flatly from a few seats down. Nearly throwing the Prophet at Ron, the Weasley took it, reading the page suspiciously. Next to him, Dean and Pavarti peered over Ron’s shoulder, and all at once their mouths were gaping, their eyes bulging with surprise.

"H-How did she find out?" Ron whispered, the color drained from his face.

"What I want to know is how and why she told the truth,” Harry said, throwing a dark look towards the newspaper. “There’s got to be something more in it for her.

"Let me see that!" Ginny demanded, snatching the paper from her brother.

Harry and Ron looked at each other for a split second; it seemed everything was back to how it should’ve been, Ron, Harry, and Ginny teamed up together to fight something together. But that moment passed just as soon as it came, and Ron turned back to Seamus and Dean. Still, Harry thought he saw the hint of an apologetic look on Ron’s face.
 
Now that they had been reunited in their common goal, Harry felt that his day was going better. Although they had not spoken a single word to each other that could be interpreted as ‘I’m sorry’, Harry sensed that on many occasions that Ron opened his mouth to apologize, but perhaps out of embarrassment, did not speak.

When the day came to a close, the unceasing gossip was about Rita Skeeter’s article: everyone wanted to know the identity of the mysterious person that Rita Skeeter interviewed. Many thought it was Draco Malfoy, but Harry and all the Gryffindor knew better. Malfoy would sooner eat a flobberworm than admit to missing Hermione. But it was agreed among most of the school that some Slytherin had spoken up truthfully, because no one else would call her Granger.

Spending his free period and a good portion of his night in the library, Harry poured over Hermione’s journal, hoping he would come across something significant. Yawning, he flipped a page and decided it would be the last entry he would read tonight, for his eyes were beginning to droop.

September 19... It's my birthday today. Ron got me a really pretty necklace with an opal in the middle. He said he heard about muggle birthstones and got me mine... I didn't have the heart to tell him my birthstone is a sapphire.

I've been having the weirdest dreams lately, and I have absolutely no idea what they mean, but I keep having the same ones over and over. I distinctly remember one where I think I'm the daughter of Helen of Troy, whose name was Hermione also. There was a huge battle and everything I saw was only in glimpses.

In another one, I am surrounded by sand and people on their knees, bowing to me, worshipping me. Their language is foreign, but I someone understand it in the dreams. Once or twice I recall someone calling me Nefertiti.

And in another, that happens so often, I am shrouded by darkness, and the only light is the moon, which seems to follow me everywhere. I have dogs at my side, running with me, a bow at my side, and a quiver full of arrows on my back. Sometimes I see two beautiful women with me, and somehow I know we are the protectors of something important, but what?

What do these dreams mean? Am I the long lost relative of Hermione, daughter of Helen? Or am I the last ancestor of Queen Nefertiti of ancient Egypt? Do they mean I am someone significant? Powerful or close to someone who is? I don’t really understand what they mean, and when I go to decipher them in the library, they seem to slip right out of my memory, as if they don’t want to be deciphered. They’re vivid and lovely, but sometimes it’s hard to wake up. Sometimes they seem so real, as if they’re really happening . . .

Harry slammed the book shut, his heart hammering, his mind racing. These odd dreams, it was almost if they had been put into her mind, reoccurring night after night, haunting her... The answer struck Harry so hard that he gasped; his eyes wide. It was so simple... so easy....

Voldemort.

The same thing happened to Harry in his fifth year. Voldemort had subconsciously projected the images of the Department of Mysteries into his head, trying to seduce Harry with the mystery that Voldemort himself had been so obsessed with. What if he had been doing the same thing to Hermione? It couldn't be possible, could it?

His head was spinning. He rubbed his temples in hopes of clearing the migraine now pounding behind his eyes. Somehow, everything started making sense. Everything he read on the moon, all of the dreams, everything he saw— the dreams. Harry realized with jolt that Malfoy knew something about Hermione that no one else did— she was Polish. Harry had no idea what that meant whatsoever, but he was determined to find out.

Ignoring the pounding headache behind his eyes, he searched the shelves for anything to do with Poland or Polish history. Thankfully, he found one book with everything he needed in the first few chapters. He skimmed, his eyes blurring as he looked for key phrases and words, and found them.

After reading certain paragraphs that stuck out, Harry now knew that the Polish were the first originating cultures and societies to hold magic in high esteem, thus making them the start of the most powerful wizards in the world, along with the Greek and the Egyptians who evoked the power and the mysteries of the heavens.

And suddenly it clicked.

Hermione had been having dreams about Nefertiti and Hermione and the Trojan War because she was Greek and Egyptian. Why else would she be having those? Was it because somehow, Voldemort knew what she was and wanted to show her? But then why would he want to show her? Harry was beside himself with confusion. Why would Voldemort frequently project the dreams within her head if they did nothing for him? But then, why would Voldemort kidnap her? Why would he go out of his way to do this for her?

Because he wants Hermione on his side, Harry realized as his stomach gave a sickening churn.

These heritages and backgrounds that made Hermione who she was were all centered on one important thing: they were the basis of the magical world, having firstly manipulated the powers of their world. One very important symbol in all of their magical cultures was the moon, although for different reasons; Harry struggled with this concept, trying to piece together this new information, everything that he had read himself, and the fact that Dumbledore admitted to Hermione having unprecedented powers. Could all of these things revolve around the one factor that tied everything together, the moon?

In one swift movement, Harry grabbed his school bag and snatched the last two library books that he had glanced at a week ago. Because of all his homework and the haunting absence of Hermione, he hadn’t the will to finish them, but that was something that was more important than ever now. He flipped to the chapters of Lunar Phenomenons and looked for an appropriate chapter titles to read under. His eyes fell on one almost instantly: Chapter 13Symbols of the Moon.

Harry couldn't believe it; his body seemed to be moving of its own accord as he flipped to chapter 13. Hermione... it all made sense.... the dreams he had about her. . .the moon.... the fear.... her unknown powers.... her secrecy....

Harry’s eyes raced over the first few paragraphs, but found nothing. He flipped a few pages, his eyes desperately looking for key words. But not once did he see anything that had cropped up in his previous readings . . . His heart sinking, Harry sighed and realized his epiphany was his mind desperately stitching together a solution to ease his worry.

But then, something caught his eye. Narrowing his eyes as he read the few sentences, shock hit him the hardest it had all night.

...And since the beginning of the Wizarding world, the most powerful beings came from Poland, a country with the strongest type of Wizard blood, along with the Greek and Egyptian. Because of the many phenomenal things produced from Poland, the moon has been its symbol. Perhaps this is because of the notable Lumerous witch in the twelfth century and the ceremony performed by the Polish philosopher and inventor, Alexandre Lumerus. However, whatever their reasoning, the moon has a great number of qualities and ties to many important gods such as the Greek goddess, Artemis....

Harry stopped there. His heart was beating furiously. Lumerous witch.... It pounded through his mind like a drum against his skull.... Lumerous witch.... he was stupid... so stupid...  Hands trembling, he reached for his school bag, and retrieved the small book with the silver writing in the corner. He read it, body shaking.

The Lumerous Witch by Alexandre Lumerus.

That was the book. It had been there all along and he never once looked at it. He opened it, not quite getting over the initial shock that he had been so incredibly foolish.

-x-x-x-





An hour later, Harry somehow managed to get back to Gryffindor Tower, although he was not sure how. The text of Alexandre Lumerus’ book was racing through his mind, blurring his vision and numbing his senses. He mumbled to himself incoherently, earning odd looks from people passing by, although he did not care. With all the information that he had just acquired, there was nothing more he could do than ramble like a madman, for the devastating truth was quick to eat away at any sanity he had left.

According to the book, the pure soul of Hermione would be sent into the Underworld unharmed and return with a chosen immortal soul to unite with its body. In order to get into the Underworld, however, the gateway had to be beckoned from the Underworld at precisely the right time or else all would fail. According to Lumerus, on the night of October 31, the heavens would line up, and the gravitational pull of all the adjacent planets would pull the deadly gateway out from the thirteenth house, allowing passage of only the purest soul.

But beckoning the gateway was a deadly event, for the rupture in Earth’s outer later instigated hundreds of mini earthquakes which were sure to kill. Upon the return of Hermione’s return, however, with the chosen immortal soul in tow, it called for her blood in order to seal the union between the soul and body for the chosen one. In the ceremony with Alexandre Lumerus, his beloved was the purest one, and willingly went into the Underworld so that she could grant Alexandre immortality, because she loved him so dearly. This ceremony, then, was not meant for dark purposes, but was based wholly on the foundation of love.

Harry knew better, though. The moment Hermione retuned with Voldemort’s soul and rendered him immortal, she would be killed brutally and savagely, because this ceremony had nothing to do with love, and according to Lumerus, drinking the blood of the fully sacrificed would transfer all of the witch’s powers into the chosen one. The devastating truth that somewhere, Hermione was spending her last moments alive without her friends was a punch in the gut; Hermione was going to be killed, and Harry would never see her again.

Still reeling from shock when he reached the Gryffindor Portrait, he muttered the password, ("Fireflies!") and stumbled into the portrait hole blindly. Harry glanced at the clock; it was 11:09. His conscience still in a state of quandary, he staggered over the couch, sinking into it and gazing into the glowing hot embers. His head was throbbing, much like the dying embers in the fire... he couldn’t believe it... he just couldn't believe it....

"Harry?" Ginny appeared from the staircase, immediately sensing something was wrong with her boyfriend. Tucking a stray hair of her beautiful flaming red hair behind her ear, she approached Harry with caution.

Without warning, Harry jumped up from the couch, seized Ginny by the shoulders and shook her as if he was trying to shake her out of a nightmare. Ginny seized up in fear, and stared wide eyed at Harry as he cried: "Ginny! Hermione's a Lumerous Witch!"

-x-x-x-





October 30
Day 13

"Are you telling me..." Ginny said slowly at breakfast, "that Hermione is not just super brain powered, but super powered as well?”

"Yeah, something like that...." Harry muttered, spooning his cereal around.

Harry had spent the entire night explaining everything to Ginny. This was necessary because they had silently teamed up when it came to the efforts of recovering Hermione, and because he would confess his worst fear: one of his friends dying or crossing to the dark side.

"But... then why isn't she here? She can certainly get out with all those powers she has,” Ginny reasoned.

“I don’t think it works like that. And besides, Hermione might not know anything about why she’s there. She might be completely oblivious to what’s about to happen,” Harry said in an undertone, hoping that no one could hear them. Ginny shot him a forlorn look but said nothing else.

All day, Harry was in a distant fog as he racked his mind for some kind of explanation or excuse for Hermione's misdemeanor of being ignorant of what was going on, but he could find none, and could also not prove that Hermione was ignorant. Perhaps she was entirely aware but could do nothing about it. . . but then again, why hadn’t she looked up these strange, reoccurring dreams while she was still at school?

It didn’t make sense. Nothing was making sense.

-x-x-x-





Over the course of the day, Harry slowly became consumed by one singular thought: saving Hermione. This, of course, posed many difficult problems. He had to find out where she was, how to get there, what time to be there, and how to save her from not only Death Eaters, but Lord Voldemort. And all of this had to happen within two days. And for once, he recognized that he could not do this alone.

As he mulled over these problems in the common room, he was suddenly disturbed. "Harry!" Ginny cried, stumbling through the portrait hole.

"What happened?" Harry asked at once, for Ginny was crying. Without a word she flung herself into his arms, and Harry tried to comfort her best he could, but his hammering heart had already assumed the worst: something had happened to Hermione.

Ron then slowly entered the portrait hole, looking quite on the brink of tears himself. Nearing Harry, the two boys looked at each other, and simultaneously blurted, “I’m sorry.”

After a tense laugh, Harry asked reluctantly, “What happened?”

Ron stared at his friend, and then down at his sister. His eyes, trying desperately to quell tears, clamped shut as he said, “Our cousins were just murdered.

“What?” Harry gasped. “Where?”

“At Beauxbatons Academy. But they tracked down the rest of her family back in Poland . . . and then destroyed half the country . . .”

“Poland?” Harry said quickly.

“Yeah. A lot of students were killed . . . and a lot of families . . . it was just a m-massacre,” Ron mumbled, his voice cracking from the force of holding back tears.

Recognizing that Ron was nearing a breakdown, similar to his sister, Harry proceeded slowly. “What was her name?”

“C-Cassie,” Ginny croaked, her crying subsiding for a moment, before she gave in again. Harry led brother and sister to the couch, where they were met with the glow of the fire.

“Cassidy,” Ron corrected quietly. “She was like our sister. The whole family used to visit every summer, but they had to stop right before first year because Beauxbatons started early… we haven’t seen much of them since . . . but still . . .”

Ron cupped his face in his hands, and Harry knew that Ron had finally given in to the tears that were cascading down his face.

"And the worst p-part is…" Ginny continued with a sob, "They haven't found her body yet! She might've been kidnapped, or—or—“

The three of them sat in a heavy silence, punctured only by Ginny’s sob, while Harry stared into the fire. Soon, after wiping his face, Ron joined him, eyes transfixed on the pulsating embers that were dying.

“I can’t believe this is all happening at once,” Ron muttered, sounding as if he had a head cold. “First Hermione, and now this.  I just wish I knew what was going on . . . I just wish I could help someone . . . somehow . . .”

“Well, err, there have been some recent developments, as far as Hermione,” Harry admitted, growing uncomfortable under Ron’s suddenly fierce gaze. “I would’ve told you sooner, Ron, but you wouldn’t even look at me. How was I supposed to relay this information?”

“You should’ve told me,” Ron hissed, eyes narrowed.

“I’ll tell you now, if you want,” Harry offered. Ron backed off, thankfully; he sank back into the couch with a nod, and glared into the fire.

"First, you’ve got to promise not to explode when I tell you all of this,” Harry warned. Ron shot him a scathing look, and although Harry did not want to continue, he did. “Malfoy kidnapped Hermione. I know it, because I saw it. All of these dreams I’ve been having, well, they aren’t mine.”

As Ron jumped up and began to release a furious roar, Harry whipped out his wand and silenced him. Ron began mouthing angrily, and Harry gestured for him to calm down before continuing. “Hermione was kidnapped on the night of the dance, after you left her by the lake. A lot of things happened to her before Malfoy showed up. She was devastated; she was completely broken down and she cried her bloody eyes out in a heap on the ground. That was when Malfoy showed up. He asked her questions, and goaded her for a bit. Then he kidnapped her the Muggle way after he—"

Harry stopped. Did he dare tell Ron how Malfoy and Hermione shared a content, peaceful moment? At his side, Ginny gave him a small nod.

"After he sort of—well, he sort of—held— her. I know it’s strange, but. . .  then he put stuff on a rag and shoved it on her face and she passed out. They took her. Somewhere. I don’t know where."

There were several moments of silence between them; Ron gazed into the fire, a sad, defeated look on his face.

"She did it to get back at me," Ron mumbled, putting a hand over his eyes in shame. "She did it because I broke her heart. Malfoy was acting all nice and she gave it a stupid go that ruined everything and put us in this situation. Malfoy… oh, I'll kill him." Ron growled, glaring daggers into the fire.

"She did it to get back at you… of course!" Harry exclaimed. Ron looked sharply at him; Harry waved an impatient hand at him as he began to pace, thinking rapidly. “Wait, I have to explain everything else first.”

Pacing around, he said, "Hermione. We know she's not normal. She’s smart and knows everything, but she isn’t just a really smart witch, Ron. There's always been more to her than just her smarts. Hermione is something called a Lumerous witch.

Hermione’s heritage is from all over the place but comes from magical countries that have a strong background, so even though she’s Muggleborn she’s got traces of magic all the way into her roots . . . anyway, a few centuries ago, there was this bloke that tried to make a sort of Elixir of Life by using a Lumerous witch, who had a very magic orientated background from the strongest of the magical countries and apparently was born during some planet thing. . . I don’t know. But that was one of the things that made her a Lumerous witch.”

The information that was being thrown at Ron began to bog Harry down as well, and his summarization of the Lumerous witch began to get more and more vague. “Anyway, in the life of that Lumerous witch, the planet thing happened again, and it was on a full moon, which opened the gate the thirteenth house, which allowed her to go into the Underworld and get a soul for this bloke, but she couldn’t because she wasn’t pure so she died, but he said that all of these things were going to happen—

This is what Hermione’s been kidnapped for!” Harry shouted finally and Ginny started at the volume. “Voldemort’s going to make her go through this bloody portal thing and get him his soul, and—and—“ Saying it aloud was going to make it much, much worse; “And Voldemort will be immortal. And Hermione will be dead.”

Ginny released a jagged breath and held herself. Ron was gaping at Harry as if he had never seen him before. His mouth was opening and closing like that of a goldfish, out of utter shock. It was several moments before he regained control of himself, in which he started muttering under his breath, his eyes closed, his fists clenched, mumbling, thinking.

"Why did that witch die?” Ron asked at last, his eyes still closed.

“It said because she wasn’t pure. Which I’m guessing means they, err, well you know . . .”

Ron looked up, a hint of a smile on his face. "Hermione'll live then! She— we— well, we didn’t do that,” Ron finished awkwardly.

Harry released a heavy sigh and turned around. “Because Hermione is a Lumerous witch, she’s got powers, and she can control things. And Voldemort knows this. Don’t you think that along with being immortal, Voldemort would want these new powers as well?”

“What does that mean?” Ron asked quietly, his eyes wide.

“The only way to get those powers is to… k-kill the witch,” Harry informed him, closing his eyes and holding back a dry sob.

Ron stared at him. “This is insanity,” Ron uttered, looking wildly around the room. He closed his eyes, his hands curled into fists. “This isn’t right!” he bellowed suddenly. “We need to stop it! We need to find her, get her out of wherever the hell she is and take her back because I am not letting her die!" Ron screamed, standing on his feet, his face red.

“I don’t know how!” Harry cried, feeling just as upset as Ron.

"Yes there is, you idiot! Tell the damn Order! Dumbledore will know!" Ron argued.

"Dumbledore is still searching for the damn records at the ministry—! No!” Harry yelled, jumping up. "I forgot! How the hell could I forget!?"

"Let's go! Get the cloak and let's go to the Owlery!" Ron exclaimed. Harry, seeing nothing else to help in the situation, nodded his head vigorously and fled up the stairs and rummaged through his trunk.

Ginny sobered instantly. Both boys gave her an exasperated look as she paused to grab a quill and parchment, but then the three of them tore out of Gryffindor Tower and sprinted to the Owlery. When they got there, the silence of the night was slightly unnerving; the floorboards creaked with a haunting sound, and round, fierce amber eyes of the owls looked down at them in distaste. Paying them no attention, Harry scribbled down a message that he hoped was full of indiscernible riddles to the common outsider, but clear to the Headmaster. Ron and Ginny reread the letter several times to make sure that it wasn't easily deciphered, and when they agreed it was fine, Harry tied the letter to Hedwig, who flew into the black night like a ghost.

As they silently made their way back to the common room, the invisibility cloak completely unused, there was a heavy silence between them. Harry couldn't stand it; he wanted to scream out, demand that Hermione was there with them, even if it meant sacrificing himself to save her. He loved her too much, and a loss such as this would cause permanent damage to his heart.

But whatever was to come, they had to face it. Whether alone or united, the horrific event that would soon be upon them was worse than any sort of torture. The truth of her death was inescapable, undeniable, and irreparable. It was the truth . . . and nothing could that.

-
-x-x-x-
-





Author’s Note: heeeey sooo sorry for not updating in like a year. My bad. I’m really very, very sorry about it. However, I will promise that it will be finished up quickly. By the end of August, definitely.

Anyway, the sole and complete dedication of this chapter, and the rest of the story, is to Chyrsta, who would not leave me alone until I updated this story!


Please review!

Chapter 19: One Last Chance
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

 Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. But I do own Troy Malfoy and that new girl Cassidy Valeska because I'm cool like that.

Sorry I take forever to update. I'm pretty much a terrible person.



This is dedicated to Chrysta, the girl who is cracking the whip so this story is finished!

  

 

 

The October Hollow

By Darkwing731

-

((--Chapter Nineteen--))

One Last Chance

 

-

 

But whatever was to come, they had to face it. Whether alone or united, the horrific event that would soon be upon them was worse than any sort of torture. The truth of her death was inescapable, undeniable, and irreparable. It was the truth . . . and nothing could that. 



October 31
Day 14
Halloween


Despite the fact that each of their nights was restless and turbulent, full of troublesome nightmares and gut wrenching thoughts, Harry, Ron, and Ginny were up very early the next morning. Dark circles under their eyes indicated their lack of sleep, but the lump in their throat was precisely the thing preventing them from dozing off.


That Saturday morning, Harry was up the earliest, staring blankly into the ashy fireplace, his mind elsewhere. Ron's heavy footsteps reverberated down the staircase only moments after Harry settled, and Ginny's equally groggy demeanor appeared shortly after.


It was very early, and the three Gryffindors sat silently, refusing to acknowledge the gnawing hole inside them, the burning desire to scream. The acute silence was interrupted by a tap on the window; looking over, Harry recognized his snowy white owl, Hedwig, carrying a letter.


All weariness was forgotten, as Harry was up in a flash to let Hedwig in. "It's from Dumbledore!" Harry shouted, his heart pounding as he ripped open the letter. Ginny and Ron were suddenly close behind him, reading over his shoulder.


Harry,

We have also found some discoveries about the subject you are concerned about. I will inform you, Mr. Weasley and Miss Weasley in precisely one hour before you go to breakfast. Bring any information you might have in writing and we shall discuss it then.

Professor Dumbledore 

Harry looked at his watch; it was 7:06. They had nearly an hour to wait before seeing Dumbledore, and each of those minutes were to be spent impatiently, nerve-wracking and anxious.


Glancing at each of his friends, Harry released a sigh that seemed to lift a heavy weight from his chest. "Why don't we get dressed and such before we go to his office?" Harry suggested.


"Good i-i-idea," Ginny said, stifling a yawn. She shot Harry a furtive smile before turning to slip up the staircase.


Making sure to avoid the suspicious look Ron was giving him, Harry made haste to his own dormitory as well. Soon after the hot water, the fresh clothes, and the gathering of written evidence, Harry and Ron waited for Ginny in the common room with fifteen minutes to spare. Harry fingered the three books in his hands uneasily, almost as if their mere existence carried a stigma that was to never be forgotten: Hermione was gone.


"I've got a question," Ron said suddenly, although his tone was cautious. The Weasley was also staring at the books in Harry's hands, but he looked confused.


"What?" Harry asked.


"How did you know?" Ron said slowly, eyes narrowing.


"How did I know what?" Harry reiterated, now bemused as well.


"What happened between Hermione and Mal—him— the night she was kidnapped?"


Aw clenched, Harry fidgeted awkwardly. There wasn't an exactly subtle way to put this, and anything could set Ron off.


"Remember that I said I've been having weird dreams?" Harry began, trying to ignore the growing trepidation in his stomach. After receiving a nod from Ron, Harry continued. "Well I had a dream . . . about that night."


Ron looked stony for a moment, but he sighed at last. "Like I said last night, Harry, she probably did it to get back at me. And speaking of which…" Ron started, breaking off. "When I said that last night, you said it made sense. Why does Hermione giving into Malfoy make sense?"


Oh no, Harry thought. This was going to be a difficult conversation to have with Ron. "Mate, I don’t think we have enough time to talk about that right now."


"I've got plenty time, Harry," Ron said flatly, crossing his arms over his chest. There was no way out now, Harry realized. Ron had to be informed one way or another.


"Err. Alright. Well, think of the situation Hermione is in. She's been kidnapped and lied to. She doesn’t know what's going on, and terrible things are happening to her. And, err, there's really only one person she actually knows. . ."


"Malfoy," Ron grunted, and Harry nodded quickly.


"Right, yes, him. Well, like I said, I've been having these, erm, dreams. And I see everything that's going on. And well, Hermione will do anything to have her questions answered," Harry summed up, wincing at his own words and their implications.


Ron stared at Harry, his eyes burning. "Are you saying that Hermione—"


"Well, wait," Harry interjected. "Since Malfoy is the only person she knows, and he is the one that is constantly in contact with her, it makes sense that she did what she had to do in order to get answers. So, they… struck a deal, so to speak."


"This is—" Ron spluttered, but Harry held up a hand.


"You wanted to know, Ron. I'm just telling you what I know."


"Alright," Ron said bracingly. "Go on."


"On Wednesday night, while I was in the library, I heard Malfoy bragging about something to one of his friends. He was saying that Hermione was so desperate to find out what was going on that she and Malfoy made a deal, and well, he was enjoying the benefits of it. It didn't make sense to me at all, but then, like you said, she did it to get back at you, I think. Which sort of, err, backfired in the end…"


Ron stared a Harry for a minute, his eyes narrowed and his brows creased. Dark comprehension gradually dawned on him, and he closed in eyes in a painful revelation.


"Harry," Ron said, eyes still closed; his voice was tight with emotion. "What kind of deal did Hermione and Malfoy make, exactly?"


"Ron, I don't think—" 

"Tell me," Ron said sharply, withdrawing an equally as sharp breath as he said it.


"It was something… sexual," Harry confessed, blurting the last word, cringing as he did.


"So did they—?"


 "No," Harry said immediately. "She didn't lose it to him, Ron. Malfoy said so himself." Ron deflated in relief. It was just then that Ginny arrived, thankfully distracting the two boys from the previous subject. Neither Harry nor Ron wanted to dwell on the idea of Hermione and Malfoy.


The three Gryffindors walked to Dumbledore's office in complete silence, each lost in dark, similar thoughts. Harry was questioning Dumbledore's ability to recognize danger, for this situation was not subtle; Ron was infuriating himself with the thought of Hermione with someone as foul as Malfoy, and Ginny was anxiously thinking of Hermione's return.


"Sugar Quill," Harry said once they reached the stone gargoyle. The statue rotated slowly, and the three students hesitantly ascended the steps. The spiraling staircase seemed more sinister than usual; the ominous sound of the creaking made the hairs on Harry's neck stand up, as if there was something wrong.


Once at the top, Ginny reached for the griffin knocker and thumped it three times. "Enter," said the clear, old voice. Harry, Ginny and Ron exchanged nervous glances and pushed through the wooden door and into the brilliant office.


Dumbledore sat at his desk, a quill in hand and his half-moon glasses perched on the edge of his nose. He looked up at the three teenagers as they sat down in front of his oak desk. Harry pulled out The Lumerous Witch and Lunar Phenomenon, as well as Hermione's sixth and seventh year journal.


"Good morning to you three. I trust you have received my letter at an appropriate time?" Dumbledore asked kindly.


"Yes, sir," Ginny said politely.


"It's all right here, the evidence you wanted." Harry pushed forward the three books onto Dumbledore's desk. The old man took The Lumerous Witch into his hands and smiled sagely, but sadly. 

"So you have worked out her history," Dumbledore said quietly. Harry nodded.


"Professor, since I found out about Hermione, and I read this book, it says something about—"


"The Halloween ceremony?" Dumbledore cut in, and Harry nodded once more. "Yes, I know all about that, Harry. So does the Order. Tonks found a way to locate where Voldemort is holding Hermione hostage. She's working out the planetary angle of the solar system conjunction as we speak. She'll be able to get there and bring Hermione back before the ceremony begins tonight."


"Really?" Harry's voice cracked, his face breaking out into a relieved smile. Dumbledore nodded, smiling also. Ron was laughing quietly to himself, holding Ginny as she sobbed in happiness onto his shoulder.


"Do you know what this means?" Ginny asked in a slightly breathless voice. "Malfoy's expelled!" she yelled in glee. Ron and Harry grinned at each other.


"How did you find out about Mr. Malfoy?" Dumbledore asked sharply, making Harry jump.


"I had a few more dreams while you were away. I saw the entire scene between Hermione and Malfoy before he kidnapped her," Harry said. Dumbledore, after a moment of deep, troubled thought, nodded.


"How did he kidnap her?"


"It was kind of by Muggle standards. He used chloroform," Harry informed him, twisting his hands anxiously.


Dumbledore nodded. "Very clever, that was. Wise of him not to use his own wand. That too, might've betrayed him." He sighed. "There is… something else we need to discuss."


Dumbledore was silent for a minute before he pushed back from his desk and rummaged through a cabinet a few feet from the window. Harry, Ron and Ginny exchanged glances, the smiles of joy fading from their faces. Were they in trouble? Was there bad news?


Shuffling papers in his hands, the headmaster surveyed Ginny and Ron silently for a moment; Ron and Ginny now looked positively frightened. Harry wondered what was going on; were his friends going to get in trouble for him telling them about Hermione?


"Your mother told me of the letter she sent," he said softy, and the color drained instantly from Ron's face. "Your cousin Cassidy Valeska was kidnapped during the attack that happened in Poland yesterday. She was kidnapped, but not killed, by the Death Eaters." Ginny let out a strangled noise, and Ron was stiff as stone. "For everything that happens, there is some reason. Your cousin Cassidy… like Miss Granger, she too, was a Lumerous witch."


"No!" Ginny said, breaking into dry sobs suddenly. "She never did anything! She was normal! Normal as they got! She isn't a Lumer-what's-it witch! She isn't!" Ginny wailed. Dumbledore smiled ruefully.


"I'm afraid, Miss Weasley, that she is."


Ginny broke down completely in Ron's arms, her brother embracing her. Ron was glaring at Dumbledore.  "Why didn't you tell someone then? If you knew she was a Lumer-what's-it witch, why didn't you say something or—or-- I dunno, write it down on a record?" Ron said angrily.


"We did not know until very recently, Mr. Weasley. By the time we went to tell her, it was too late."


"When did you suspect it?! It couldn't have been until just yesterday because then you would've been able to tell her!" Ron shouted spitefully. Harry, although he agreed with his friend, was unmoved by Ron's shouting, as was Dumbledore. Harry was reminded forcibly of himself two years ago when he exploded at Dumbledore for what happened to Sirius.


"We suspected it as soon as Miss Granger was kidnapped. But we did not find out until at least five days ago," Dumbledore explained calmly.


"Why did you start looking when Hermione was kidnapped? If you knew Cassidy was a Lumer-what's-it then you should've— been able— to tell!" Ron shouted, glaring at the Headmaster.


"As I said, I did not know about Cassidy until very recently. However, I told you that I indeed suspected it when Miss Granger was kidnapped," he reiterated colorlessly.


"Why?" Ron shot back, clutching onto his sobbing sister.


"That particular matter is out of my hands. It is not my place to tell you," he replied mysteriously, a truly apologetic look on his face.


Harry looked at his two devastated friends, and then back at the headmaster, anger rising in him like fire. Not his place to tell them?


-x-x-x-


As the three of them walked to the Great Hall, there was a mutual, mutinous feeling running through all of their veins. Dumbledore seemed to be futile, as he was supplying them with nothing but tragic clues and misleading words. His advice to owl Molly Weasley left them equally as mad, because it made sense for Dumbledore to inform them right then and there if they both knew what was going on!


 There was a tentative silence between them as they walked to the Great Hall, which was empty except for a handful of Ravenclaws. Since most students tended to come in much later on Saturday morning, the three were left to discuss whatever they pleased.


"What do you think You-Know-Who wants with Cassidy?" Ginny asked Ron, looking tearful.


"The same thing he wants from Hermione," Ron replied darkly, scowling at his toast. "I mean, if they're both Lumer-what's-its—"


"Lumerous, Ron," Harry interrupted.


"Okay! Lumerous witches," Ron corrected, shooting Harry an annoyed look, "then he's got to want the same thing with them."


"But he's got Hermione to get his second soul, so what's he want Cassidy for?" Ginny pointed out.


"Well think about it, Gin. Just because he's got one powerful witch to make him immortal, doesn't mean he won't want another to use their powers. Lumerous witches are extremely powerful," Harry said.


"You sound like Hermione." Ginny mumbled. Harry snorted, although he was suddenly reminded of his grief.


"But really, I mean. Could he possibly just want to use Cassidy's powers? He has Hermione," Ron said.


"Yeah, but we're getting Hermione back before the ceremony tonight, remember?" Ginny reminded him sternly. Ron looked dubious at her statement for a second before smiling hopefully and nodding.


"Yeah, I know. But I'm just saying… if he has both of them, what's the use for them? He's got enough powers to take from one of them—" Ron broke off suddenly and looked sick.


"What?" Ginny and Harry asked at once.


"I-If— If Tonks gets Hermione back, but not Cassidy… then she'll be killed!" he moaned, looking horrorstruck. Ginny paled.


"Tonks would never leave her there!" Harry said firmly.


"I hope you're right, Harry," Ginny whispered, looking petrified. He reached over and squeezed her shoulder reassuringly, but couldn't help but thinking, when will this end?


-x-x-x-


The news of Hermione's assured return was like Christmas come early; all three Gryffindors were in markedly higher spirits than they had been the last two weeks. Every now and then they were struck with the reminder that a potentially terrible tradeoff might occur, but Harry was always quick to reiterate that Tonks, a qualified Auror, would never leave an innocent behind.


Their Saturday went by quickly, spent in Hogsmeade, with friends, and without the trivial worry of homework. The ever constant silver lining hung over them, however, and not a single happy moment could be relieved from the instant thought that Cassidy Valeska might die.

After dinner, aHa Harry, Ron, and Ginny filed back up to the Gryffindor tower with the rest of their house, laughing heartedly at the jokes Seamus and Dean were telling. As they reached the main swell of students at the grand staircase, there was a distinct commotion.


"Oi!" What's going on?" Ginny demanded as some first years fell at her feet, giggling. 

But the problem revealed itself as students swarmed and fanned out suddenly; one of Professor Trelawney's crystal balls had dropped down from her teashop-like classroom, causing students to shriek in fear of the heavy ball hurting their feet. Sighing, Harry scooped up the crystal ball.


"I'm going to bring this back to her," Harry said. Ginny nodded, but Ron scowled.


"Honestly, you're barking mad. If she wants it so bad she can get it herself!" Ron told him matter-of-factly.


Shooting Ron an annoyed look, Ginny said, "I may be in the library when you get back, I've got some last minute homework to finish."


"I second that," Ron agreed with a sigh. Harry chuckled, turning away and starting his journey up the staircase.. 


A million stairs later, it seemed, he arrived at the seventh floor corridor landing at which Trelawney's step ladder descended upon. Like usual, the ladder was down, and Harry, struggling with the weight of the crystal ball, ascended into her room.


Once up, Harry called out for his professor. There was no answer, so he went forth and tried to decide on a place to put the crystal ball so that Trelawney might see it. When he turned to leave, however, a rasping voice stopped him right in his tracks.


"SOON, THE DARK LORD WILL RISE, GREATER AND MORE TERRIBLE THAN HE EVER WAS—"


Sibyl Trelawney's voice was raspy and foreign as she came stumbling out of the corner, her eyes rolling, her body shaking severely. Harry, frozen, stared at her, horrorstruck.


"SOON, THE DARK LORD WILL RISE ONCE MORE, GREATER AND MORE TERRIBLE THAN BEFORE— THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO DEFEAT THE DARK LORD STANDS IN THE WAY BEOFRE HIM UNKNOWINGLY—THE NEW SAVIOR IS TAKEN AND RENEWED— STOPPING THE POWER IN WHICH DARKNESS WILL CONSUME HER— THE NEW SAVIOR IS FOREVER TRUE AT HEART— SOON— THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO DEFEAT THE DARK LORD AND THE NEW SAVIOR SHALL JOIN AS ONE AND DEFEAT THE DARK LORD WITHIN TEN YEARS TIME— SOON, THE DARK LORD SHALL RISE ONCE MORE, GREATER AND MORE TERRIBLE THAN BEFORE—"


Professor Trelawney suddenly gave a deep, shuddering cough, her body shaking in a fit. As she was regaining her usual posture, Harry bolted from the room without another moment's hesitation.


Running as fast as he could, Harry Potter sprinted to the library, the rasping voice of the prophecy still echoing in his head. Blood was pounding in his ears, his heart beating against his ribcage— Trelawney had made another prophecy, Harry couldn't believe it!


Upon arrival, several people looked up in indignation as he burst through the doors loudly. Knowing exactly where Ginny and Ron he flew through the isles, and when he saw their flaming red hair, he resisted the temptation to scream out for them. Harry crashed onto their table, causing Ginny to shriek loudly.


"Have you gone mad?" Ginny hissed.


"What's wrong?" Ron asked when Harry sat down across from them, pantging. Harry's face was paler and whiter than normal.


"I-I just came back from T-Trelawney," Harry heaved. "She made another prophecy." Quickly, he reiterated verbatim what had been said.


"The new savior?" Ginny asked, perplexed.


"This makes no sense! Who's this 'new savior' bloke?" Ron


"That 'bloke' is a girl, Ronald. It says her, remember?" Ginny reminded him flatly.


"Maybe—" Harry began slowly, and Ginny and Ron both looked at him sharply. The idea forming in Harry's mind was so complex, yet so simple, but Harry doubted it was true— But was it—?


"Well, tell us!" Ginny demanded.


"It says her, right? Well, what if, since the savior is a girl, it's one of the Lumerous witches?" Harry said finally, his eyes wide. Ginny and Ron exchanged glances, frowning.


"Sorry, Harry, but that's too far-fetched for me," Ginny said simply, placing the paper on the table. "I know Hermione's a super genius, but the prophecy said only you can defeat You-Know-Who, even if you do team up with this savior girl."


"Yeah— I suppose so," Harry agreed, the excitement sinking away. Ginny was more likely to be right at the moment; her brain hadn't been shocked with another prophecy.


There were many minutes of quiet, untroubled silence for the Weasley's while Harry sat in mute distress, thinking about the prophecy and about Hermione. Who was the new savior? It was a girl, but whom?


Ginny was probably right with the Lumerous Witch idea being too far-fetched. He, Harry, was the only one who could defeat the Dark Lord, with or without help from someone else.


While two Weasley's worked quietly on their homework for another half hour, Harry dozed in and out of consciousness, the words of Sibyl Trelawney still playing though his head. Nothing seemed to make sense anymore.


Hermione was a rare undiscovered witch, while at the same time, so was the Weasley's favorite cousin, whom Harry had never even met and they were both kidnapped for that rate trait. Dumbledore was lying to him again, and Trelawney was spouting prophecies! Draco Malfoy, the kidnapper, was still in school without so much as a detention, when he, Harry, got one himself for attempting a duel!


A suddenly loud thump startled Harry out of his doze. There was a loud groan a few isles over, though out of eyesight. Harry looked curiously over his shoulder, and gave Ron a quizzical look. Pushing back in his chair, they easily abandoned their work in order to investigate. They pulled out their wands and crept softly over, peering down the aisle.


The boy Harry had recognized as Theodore Nott stood triumphantly over an unconscious Draco Malfoy. Nott laughed malevolently to himself and pulled an object out of his pocket, putting the object in Malfoy's hand. Standing back, he drew back his sleeve and stared at his watch. In less than a minute, Malfoy's body had disappeared from the scene, and Nott walked away, quietly cackling.


Harry gaped at Ginny and Ron, astonished. They moved down the aisle, almost reluctantly, to the spot where Malfoy's body was moments before. Harry looked around and saw homework, quills, parchment and books tossed about the table, and an empty flask. Ginny went to it, tipping it over; little blue liquid trickled out.


Sniffing it, Ginny said, "It's a sleeping draft!"


"He force fed Malfoy a sleeping draft," Harry said breathlessly. "And then…" Harry spun around to see them staring at the floor. A small book titled Quidditch of the Eighteenth Century was on the ground.


The book had not been there a moment or two ago.


Harry knew instantly what it was and where it went. "That's a portkey," he announced. "What are the chances it'll take us to Hermione?"


"Our odds are very good," Ginny said firmly.


"So we're going, then?" Ron asked quietly. "Even though the Aurors will be there tonight?"


"We are," Harry confirmed."We need to try. No more sitting around." Looking to girlfriend, Harry took her hand. "Ginny, when we get to wherever we're going, be careful, alright?"


Ron took Ginny's other hand, squeezing it tightly. The two Weasley's shut their eyes, almost as if praying, and Harry wished he could do the same. He had a bad feeling about this, but he knew it had to be done. This was there one and only chance to make a difference, and he wasn't about to let that slip by.


"Ready?"


They nodded.


"One."


Harry's hand inched closer.


"Two."


His finger was a fraction of an inch away from the cover—


"Three!"


All three of them gasped as the familiar sensation took hold of them; seconds later, they were screaming as their feet left the ground in a blur of colors and sounds—


And they were gone.


-

-x-x-x-

-


Author's Note: hey so who loves my mini hiatuses? Not me. Honestly, not me. Right now, I'm home from college until January 25th or so and I PROMISED I would get this friggin story out for you guys. It's pretty absurd that it's not already. It's not okay.


Thank you to those readers who keep sticking around! I appreciate it!





Please review!

 


Chapter 20: Love Conquered All
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

 Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter and any of the awesome characters relating to the name or world.

 

But I do own Troy Malfoy and that Polish girl Cassidy Valeska.

 

Also, I don't know what the hell is going on with the formatting of this chapter and the recent few. I don't understand. sorrys!
 

All right, let us continue with our story here peoples!  

 

 

The October Hollow

By Darkwing731

-

((--Chapter Twenty--))

Love Conquered All

 

 

October 31

Day 14

Halloween

 

The ebb and flow of Hermione Granger's breathing would imply to an observer that she was meditating, or perhaps might be sleeping in the awkward crouching position she had placed herself in. Regardless, it could be understood that she was calm, and certainly nothing about her could be in an uproar.

 

But of course, there was; Hermione was only crouched in such an uncomfortable squat because she was trying to distract herself. Her steady, concentrated breathing was to help her clear her mind. Yet nothing was working; every moment she closed her eyes, the same fiery, carnal images flashed before her, squeezing her heart.

 

Three days had gone by without the contact of another human being. Draco Malfoy had all but vanished, as Hermione had not seen him in several days to begin with. She would have though the same as Troy, but she knew he was around because food and water mysterious appeared each morning. For these things she was grateful, but they too were unable to distract her. The indelible images of Draco Malfoy, the irrevocable touches that sent shivers up her spine, were remembered with each flickering eyelid.

 

There was no escaping the memories, and there was no escaping Malfoy. Hermione knew in the depths of her frustrated mind that her defiance was futile; one must accept the notion of being fond of (perhaps in love with) another person or the heart would tear itself to bits and pieces. But love was something Hermione would not admit to herself when considering Draco Malfoy. His name in the same sentence as something to pure and holy was sacrilegious and evil, but it was undeniable. No matter how much she tried to deny it, she missed him, craved him, and wanted him back to fill the void he had suddenly created. She missed his adroit hands, his fierce tongue dominating her mouth; she missed his sharp silver eyes and the attractive smile that matched it. She missed the terrible, furious flood that rose up inside of her when she initially saw him, a flood provoked by hate and disgust, by passion and heat.

 

The nights without him were an eternity, though. She could not close her eyes without seeing his face, and her dreams were haunted by their previous escapades. Memories that were replayed far too easily, memories that she knew far too well; his colds hands had left a trail of fire across her torso, her shirt hanging open, revealing her breasts and stomach. All the buttons had flown off as he tore off her shirt. And as these images began to weld together, succumbing to the heat produced by their bodies, Hermione had to suppress a groan. What had she gotten herself into?

 

Each day progressed like this, and each minute blended into one another until there was no concept of time. There were only shadows, sunlight, and darkness, and a constant hum of her blood pulsing through her veins. Hermione kept herself from boredom by concentrating on all those things she knew aside from Draco Malfoy; she focused on spells she remembered and had perfected, she focused on Harry and Ron and Ginny, and she focused on the congenital trait that had brought her here.

 

Over and over again, Hermione reiterated to herself those traits of being a Lumerous witch, all of which were very few. Draco was always careful to never fully explain himself, only giving her clues and vague answers. This always frustrated her; whatever questions she asked were never quite met and he had always managed to distract her away from that pressing down on her mind.

 

Furious with herself as she relived the countless opportunities she had to squeeze questions from him, Hermione flung herself over to the window, pressing her forehead up against the steely, rusty bars. Staring out over the trees, she could see the splash of color against the horizon as the sun began to set. Voice from the valley below echoed up, loud and boisterous, and Hermione ignored the trapped feeling that was beginning to creep over her.

 

Just as she was about to turn away from the voices below, a terrified scream reverberated through her room, shattering the silence of her room.

  

"Hello?" Hermione called out, fear hidden in her voice, hoping she was loud enough to capture the victim's attention. Another scream was her reply, along with jeering laughter and an angry shout. The screaming continued. Horrified, Hermione backed away from the window, her gaping mouth covered by a shaking hand.

 

As terrified thoughts began to race wildly through her mind, the door behind her began to click. Jumping around, Hermione was met with the sight of Troy, who looked pale and grim.

 

 "Who was screaming?" she asked at once. Troy merely looked at her. "What's going on?" Hermione demanded, her voice several pitches higher, marked with fear. "Troy, answer me!"

"Do you know what the date it tonight, Hermione?" he asked her quietly, his silver eyes pinned to her. Troy Malfoy's body was rigid and unmoving, almost as if he were made of stone.

 

"N-No, I don't, and I—" but she remembered suddenly as Troy slowly drew his wand from his pocket. "It's Halloween, isn’t it?" she uttered in a broken whisper.  He gave her a sharp nod before taking a step forward, advancing on her.

 

"You have to come with me," he said in a low, cold voice, his wand raised higher.

 

"NO!" screamed Hermione, backing away from him.

 

"You don't have a choice, Granger," Troy growled, closer than ever.

 

"Please no, please don't—"

 

"Petrificus Totalus!" Troy bellowed, missing Hermione by inches as she dived to the floor. He was quick to stand over her as she rolled upright.

 

"Don't do this, Troy!" she cried, tears welling up in her eyes, cowering beneath him. He said nothing, his silver eyes cold and impenetrable. In a single movement, his wand was jabbing into her throat, and his fingers were latched onto her elbow like a steel clamp, dragging her upwards.

 

This was not at all how Troy acted; he seemed to be acting under the Imperius Curse, for Hermione had never imagined he could be so dark and foreboding. As he dragged her out of the room and down the black, endless hollowed hallway, her quiet sobs could be heard reverberating through the silence, accompanied by the occasional whimper.

 

Ignoring the painful grip on her bones, Hermione whispered, "Where are you taking me? Why are you doing this?"

 

"I'm following orders," he clipped shortly, his voice gruff.

 

"This isn't you," she protested, her voice cracking beneath the weight of her own fear.

 

"Just shut up," he hissed, squeezing her arm tighter. "Neither one of us can back out of this now, so just shut— up."

 

Up ahead, the end of the tunnel could be seen, and the flickering orange light revealed the monstrous fire they would soon be meeting. Hermione, her heart now racing with fear, began to squirm and revolt against her captor, her pleas growing increasingly louder and more desperate. Only once was she very still, but it was in terror and not regard for the rules. While she was being dragged forth, there was a very sudden, blood curdling scream that erupted, causing Hermione to flinch. But a moment later, when the shock was still jolting through her, Troy dragged her onwards.

 

Darkness was behind them now, gradually fading as they grew closer and closer to the fire. As Troy dragged Hermione out of the mountain, she could clearly see a wide circle of Death Eaters standing obediently despite the flood of tears leaking out of her eyes. Terrified, confused, Hermione stared around with huge eyes as Troy yanked her forward. She could not focus on anything in particular except the fact that her breathing was becoming jagged and fleeting, and her hammering heart was louder than anything she had ever heard in her life. Even as Troy pushed her to the ground, shackling her hands to the earth beneath her, she could not hold onto the reality happening in front of her.

 

It isn't real this isn’t real stop it stop it stop it go away it isn't real it isn’t—

 

And then, all at once, everything she ever knew was erased from her, like a slate suddenly wiped clean. All the fear, all the worry and grief and confusion was pulled from her, stolen, and thrown away as she was overcome by something powerful, something glorious, something pure and innocuous and wonderful.

 

Unable to speak, unable to think, Hermione's body began to convulse and twitch, and her skin ceased to exist, her body dissolving away, becoming nothing and becoming everything. Head jerked upward, her eyes were large and bulging at the sight of the full moon, opaque and luminescent, strong and beautiful and omnipresent in the night sky. The moonlight seemed to scorch her, but it was seeping through her veins, touching each and every crevice within her, healing her and soothing her, lulling her body to sleep with its gentle light.

 

Closing her eyes, giving into the only peaceful moment she had seen in two weeks, Hermione basked in the light, tears sliding down her face not from pain or misery, but from a disbelieving relief. There was no more pain, no more hunger, nothing. A weak smile was hinged on her face as well, a rarity as well during her sojourn. The moon above her was the All Mother, taking away her pain, cradling her, protecting her, warming the depths of her which had been frozen and forgotten. There was nothing more Hermione needed.

 

She was invincible now, unbreakable and unbeatable and unfathomably strong. With the moonlight etched in her very bones, there was nothing that could stop her, and nothing that would stand in her way. This heavenly orb was her shield, her armor, her protection, and she was untouchable. The scars on her hands gleamed the brightest, as if all the moon's power gathered there, ready to surge forward. The ring around her shoulders, a once thin and shallow wound, pulsed with energy, faintly so, but enough for her to recognize the power there. She breathed in deeply, feeling the energy course through her, feeling the moonlight boost eradicating all those weaknesses within her, and fortifying all those strengths she reveled in. She felt infallible.

 

"With each second, you grow stronger," said a quiet, sibilant voice, startling Hermione from the reverie she was caught in. She did not have to look, but could sense that Lord Voldemort was standing before her. "This is the moment we've all been waiting for, Mudblood. Your moment of truth."

 

"I won't do your bidding," Hermione hissed, a maniacal grin breaking out onto her face. She was hunched over on all fours, her fingers kneading the dirt, her body absorbing the celestial power that was surging through her, eyes still squeezed shut. Heat was gathering fast at her hands, her skin prickling, her blood boiling; her power was augmenting.

 

"Well, of course not," Voldemort replied, a cold chuckle in tow, his voice a spine tingling hiss. "Assuming that you would give in easily would be very foolish of me." Glaring at her with cat slit eyes, he now turned his attention to the loyal dark army that surrounded them. "Tonight's events have been carefully sought after and planned for a number of years. You all are aware of my desire to kill Harry Potter, but it is not a goal easily accomplished. This is why I have prepared for this ceremony for so long. With the useful aid of this Mudblood, one who possesses powers I know not, defeating Potter will be a much easier task."

 

Finally opening her eyes, a jolt of terror ran through her as she stared at Lord Voldemort; tall and skeletally thin, he was paler than a ghost, and yet more menacing than she had ever seen. Even in the darkness his cat slit eyes glowed ominously, a red more powerful than the blood running through her. The flickering firelight only heightened the sense of unease within her, for his thin face was thrown into sharp relief, and he looked deadlier than ever. In addition to this, he was standing at a stone pillar that rose a few feet above her, and she felt tiny and small and helpless below him. Eyes narrowed dangerously, with a spiteful, twisted smile on his face, Lord Voldemort turned back to Hermione.

 

"In a few moments, Mudblood, everything will be in place. The planets will be aligned, and the portal to the Underworld will be opened. You will go in and retrieve my immortality," he hissed, the cold smile bearing sharp, threatening teeth.

 

"I won't," Hermione spat, but her trembling body gave her away. She was terrified now, despite the moon's power radiating through her. For two weeks she had been held captive, secluded and alone and with little contact. And now… and now… everything was on her. Voldemort was threatening her, and what did she have left to fight for? If she refused, she would surely be killed… but then…

 

Voldemort would be mortal, she realized. And Harry would have a better chance of defeating him.

 

"You will do this for me," Voldemort snarled. "If not, someone will die tonight."

 

"Kill me, then!" Hermione screamed, bearing her own teeth at him, fighting the tears that were threatening to spill over. "I don't care if I die!"

 

The way the Dark Lord began to chuckle was unnerving; an unctuous sound, a laugh bereft of humor, Voldemort's cackle ripped through any armor she had left, and his insidious derision ruined her.

 

"Bring him out!" Voldemort called suddenly, a devilish grin still hitched on his face. As Hermione hunted for whatever persuasion that was to be used against her, terrified that it would be Harry or Ron, Voldemort continued his maniacal laughter. "Your defiance won't last long, Mudblood. I see into the very depths of your soul, I see the longing in your mind. Why would you allow an innocent to die?"

 

Hermione turned back to the Dark Lord with a sharp glare. "Nothing will change my mind."

 

Another cruel smile appeared on his upturned lips. "Not even Draco Malfoy?"

 

Her head snapped to the left, her gaping mouth horrified as she witnessed Malfoy's body dragged forth by a Death Eater. He appeared unconscious, as his body was rolling about and giving in to whatever way the Death Eater jerked him. A glow of red light from the nearest wand awakened him, however. With blinking, groggy eyes, Draco Malfoy came to.

 

"No," Hermione whispered, eyes wide. "No, I won't save him. He is not my responsibility—"

 

Malfoy began to mutter, "What the hell is going—" but gave a howl of pain when the Death Eater holding him hostage delivered a swift kick to the ribs.

 

"He may not be your responsibility, Mudblood, but he haunts your very thoughts, doesn't he?" Voldemort jeered, watching as Hermione gazed at Malfoy with horrified eyes. The blonde boy was sitting upright now, panting slightly and clutching his side. Unlike Hermione, his eyes were narrowed, but stared back at her.

 

"No—no, he doesn't," she replied, tearing her eyes from him and looking towards Lord Voldemort. "I don't care whether he lives or not!" she cried suddenly, sounding fearful. "I-I have to worry about myself, and Harry, and—"

 

"Potter will be destroyed regardless of your fighting!" Voldemort spat. "You cannot save him!"

 

"I will try my hardest, then!" shouted Hermione angrily. The Dark Lord stared her down, his infuriated silence tangible, his silhouette sharpened by the firelight.

 

"Fine," he clipped, red eyes narrowed. He turned to the Death Eaters, a single, spidery finger pointed at Malfoy. "Kill him."

 

Malfoy began to scream in protest as Hermione clapped her hands to her mouth, aghast as several Death Eaters scrambled to pin him down. His terrified shouting sent waves of guilt through her, and she had to turn away as a dagger suddenly appeared, hovering over Malfoy. The screams reached a new level, and she could hear him thrashing about on the ground, trying as desperately as he could to escape his fate.

 

"Granger, help me!" Malfoy screamed, crying out as the blade swooped down and pierced him.

 

"No, no, no…" Hermione moaned, hands around her eyes, looking at anything but Malfoy. There was a sickening noise as the blade struck him again, along with the fierce cries from the victim.

 

"Won’t you help him? Just a little?" Voldemort sneered at her, watching Malfoy's murder complacently.

 

"N-No," Hermione uttered, trying to quell the tears that began to leak. "N-No, I can't, it isn't my fault—"

 

"Just one word would save him!" Voldemort lashed out. "One word, and you can't do it? Then his death is entirely your fault. If you love him, you will save him."

 

"I don’t love him!" Hermione screeched, furious now. "This is absurd, how dare you accuse me of that!"

 

"You may not love him, but you love things about him, don’t you?" he sneered, grinning again. Hermione began to shake her head, but Voldemort continued. "You love the way he looks at you, the way he touches you, the way his hands feel on you, how he—"

 

"Stop it!" Hermione screamed. "That is nothing in comparison to love! Nothing!"

 

"If it is nothing, then why do you hesitate? Why do you turn away from his torture?" inquired Voldemort, lip curled. "You feel for him, you want to save him, I can see it in your worthless heart."

 

"Pity does not equal love," Hermione snarled, trembling in anger.

 

"Then face him! Look into his eyes as he calls your name! Watch as we destroy him, and then tell me you feel nothing!" Voldemort spat.

 

"I will not give into you!" Hermione shouted.

 

With an irate, furious growl, Voldemort withdrew his wand, faster than the speed of light. "Crucio!"

 

Hermione's insides now screamed in terrible anguish. Her body keeled over, her nerves on fire, her bones feeling molten hot, an angry flame licking at her soul made her wither in pain. She screamed, twitching and feeling furious, unbearable pain. Everything with her cried in protest, and she felt as if she was going to break into a million tiny pieces.

 

When it stopped, laughter was ringing in her ears. Trembling, Hermione uncurled herself and struggled to sit up, her arms weak and feeble. Tears were mingled with sweat and fright on her face, and once more, shaking with fear, she turned to face Voldemort.

 

He stood taller, a smirk on his face, with a vicious look to his darkly gleeful eyes. Voldemort raised his wand slowly, pointing it at her once more, and she felt herself tremble against the cold earth.

 

"Now, Granger," he said softly, a malevolent smile to match his horrific eyes. "You will do this for me. Do it, or Draco will die."

 

"No." Her voice was oddly hoarse and cracked, and tears were brimming in her eyes.

 

With an angry snarl, Voldemort commanded, "Finish him!"

 

But whatever murder was about to take place was suddenly halted; a terrible, deep and unearthly sound showered down upon them from above, and all those present looked skyward, mesmerized.  Out of the millions of twinkling stars, there seemed to be an illuminated line in the heavens, brighter and stronger than the light of the full harvest moon.

 

And without warning, her eyes were filled with a blinding white light that overpowered every space and every particle around her. The meadows were suddenly lit up as if it was noontime; the masked faces of all the Death Eaters were glowing as they all stared in awe at the incredible light, their faces lit with an unearthly color, gleaming onto their skin.  Next, there was an incredibly strong surge of wind and Hermione shrieked as her body was pressed down into the ground. The wind pulled her backwards and she was rolling uncontrollably over the ground as if the crashing sea was pushing her.

 

Screaming wind pounded against her eardrums, and shouting in fear at the monstrous sound, Hermione fell on her stomach and pulled her hands over her head and buried her face in the earth. There was a deafening roar, and other's screaming was added to the terrifying cacophony. Her hair whipped around in her face, and the wind was threatening to pull her off of the face of the earth. She let out a bloodcurdling scream as her body lifted into the air and was forced many feet in a different direction. She begged for unanswered help, trying to cling to whatever she could despite what little strength she had left.

 

For several minutes, the blinding white light pushed consumed her, while screaming and a sharp whistling filled her ears, force of the wind blowing into her and trying forcefully to push her over. Tears flooded down her cheeks, her body tumbling over as she clawed desperately to the stone pillar so she wouldn't be flung off the ledge of the mountain.

 

And then, just as suddenly, it stopped.

 

Face buried in her shoulder, Hermione was sobbing. Her hands clung to the few gaps in the rock, desperate for a crack in which to hold herself safely. Many of the Death Eaters were now rising to their feet, some still wearing their masks, others not, as if the wind had claimed them.

 

Hermione's body was shaking dangerously; she hadn't taken a beating as vicious as that for a long time. All of her strength was now gone, and if handed a wand she feared she would collapse rather than fight. Through her tears, she evaluated the Death Eaters, wondering whether or not she could outrun any of them, and then saw, to her great shock, that the Death Eater holding Draco's body was none other than Lucius Malfoy himself.

 

And then Voldemort rose eerily from behind his stone pillar, looking triumphant. He gazed past Hermione to the blazing fire. Several Death Eaters were murmuring among themselves, gazing wildly over Hermione also. Afraid of what she would see, she braced herself before turning around. And there was the most astonishing thing she had ever seen.

 

The bonfire, which had been huge to begin with, had augmented significantly to make room for what it was now holding. Out of the fire rose an old, cracked archway, with fluttering, tattered curtains, swaying as if someone had just touched them. A ghostly pale light was pulsing from the arch itself as it rose higher and higher. Flames were pouring from the stone steps that now rested in the embers. All at once, the blazing fire escaped its containment and surged towards Hermione, creating a trail that surrounded her, trapping her in, sealing her fiery fate.

 

As the old arch finally settled in midair, there came a great, deep rumbling from some unknown source. Hermione felt the earth shaking under her hands, and flung her arms over her head for protection as the earthquake began. Numerous Death Eaters were stumbling wildly and falling over, and then, fierce and falling boulders descended on the mountain in great thunderous roars. Boulders were collapsing atop the mountainside, falling dangerously, and as they fell near the circle, some magical force field reacted and sent the massive boulders skywards with an incredible burst of light.

 

And then, quite suddenly, she heard screaming from above her as the boulders stopped falling. She stared up towards the sky, and a sudden surge of hope rushed through her. A faint smile touched her lips, for Hermione knew she was saved.

 

"Do not think for a second, mudblood, that your friends are here to save you!" Voldemort snarled, quivering with anger. "You two!" he barked at the two closest Death Eaters. "Find them, and destroy them!"

 

"No!" Hermione screeched.

 

Whipping back to face her, Voldemort shouted to Lucius, "Now kill him! Finish this!"

 

Hermione watched in a slow, suspended horror as Lucius Malfoy lifted the dagger high into the air, and plunged it down into Draco's shoulder. Hermione looked away a split second afterwards, but she could not ignore the scream that broke through the night. Even if she was on the ground, she felt as if her body would give way beneath her.

 

Lucius lifted the dagger again—a few seconds later, a half-conscious Draco Malfoy screamed in utter anguish as he was stabbed brutally once more. Hermione covered her face with her hands and buried her head in her knees, trying her hardest to ignore the screaming.

 

But his desperate cries clawed at every single string in her heart. Hearing his voice brought back all the memories of their brief time together, the passion that blazed up between them, the heated moments she could never get rid of. It was true, Hermione Granger did not love him, but she needed him. There was a void in her that he had come to recognize, and it was a void that only he could fill. Yet, if she saved him… all was lost. She wouldn't let Voldemort become immortal because the world would be damned.

 

But it was love… or death.

 

She could not let him die, but she could not let Voldemort win. This was the bridge she had to cross, the fate she had to meet head on, for otherwise it would tear her apart. Hermione Granger was not meant to live, that she understood all too well. But she would not bring others down with her; if she was going to die, then so be it. But not Draco. Not anyone else.

 

Two other Death Eaters were restraining Draco as Lucius Malfoy stood over him, holding a bloody dagger high in the air. Draco's normally silver-blonde hair was stained crimson, as was his face and neck. His head hung limply from the cruel stabbings. Just as the dagger started down to emit the fatal blow, and Hermione screamed in protest.

 

"Stop!"

 

She was suddenly aware that she was struggling against the shackles holding her down. "Don't kill him," she whispered, defeated. Almost as if she was forced to, she looked at Voldemort, cowering beneath his triumphant gaze. She tried to remind herself that she was giving in not because she was in love with Draco Malfoy, but because there had to be another way to defeat Voldemort.

 

"Very wise, Granger," Voldemort said quietly.

 

An angry noise, like a sob, escaped her lips, her breath catching in her throat. She had fallen; she was disgusted with herself. Faintly grateful for his survival, Hermione watched briefly as his father dropped the boy to the ground, who was bleeding profusely.

 

"Now get up," Voldemort command, vanishing the shackles with a swish of his wand.

 

Seeing as there was nothing else she could do, Hermione stood on feeble legs, sniffing. Sickened and miserable, Hermione tried to think as fast as she could, desperate wracking her mind for an alternate solution. She had made her decision in saving Draco, and there was no turning back now.

 

"Through that doorway is the portal. Go forth, and retreat my immortality. If you return empty handed, Draco Malfoy will die, and whoever was here upon the mountain will perish alongside him. Now go," Voldemort hissed, his thin arm directing her towards the fire.

 

Lowering her eyes to the ground in shame, she began to walk into the fire. Several people laughed malevolently; Hermione Granger had been broken, at last. Her legs threatening to collapse beneath her, she noted how fierce the roaring flames were, and how they singed her very skin despite her distance.  With each step, her whole entire life flashed before her eyes. Her parents, Harry and Ron, Ginny, Hogwarts, learning how to ride a bike, how to read, and her letter to Hogwarts all flew by in a vivid blur. These people, these events, these things that had changed her, had shaped her, had made her, were all going to be without her soon. There was nothing left for them, and there was nothing left for her.

 

But I'm not giving up, Hermione told herself firmly as a bare foot ascended the first stone step. It was very cold, and seemed to sap all her energy away from her. But if she wasn't giving up, what was she doing, then? Was it love that drove her to act insanely, impulsively? What passionate, intense feeling made her brain cloud over, her heart flutter and all sense of logic wash out of her in moments? Was it love?

 

Hermione believed in love, and she had thought she had found it in Ron. He was always there for her, whether they were bickering or snogging, laughing or shouting, doing homework or eating dinner. In some ways, Ron was there more often than Ginny or Harry; somehow, he knew everything about her, he had a key to her soul.

 

But the key only opened the door halfway. Because whenever she was kissing Draco, running her hands through his hair or over his body, something opened up in her heart. All doors were open, all possibilities rendered promising, all logic washed away. Because somehow, with Draco Malfoy, her doors were open. Malfoy had the key. He had taken over her soul, giving her something to live for, to fight for. And the philosophers were right, weren't they?

 

Love conquered all.

 

Hermione stood still on the first step of the ancient archway, swaying on the spot, surrounded by fire. The curtains before her looked unreal, ethereal even, gleaming its ghostly color. This was the doorway to Hell, and she felt ice cold, frozen to the spot, even though the flames were licking at her heels, scarring her, burning her.

 

Holding her breath, she began her ascent up the first of many steps into the glowing portal of the archway. The blazing flames threatened to lick her feet, but did not. The beginning steps were old, cracked, decrepit. The next step was just as cold, through smoother, and the next, nearly the same, but it seemed younger. And so it went; every step up she took, the steps were freezing cold, yet smoother and newer each time. She was going towards Death, towards a new beginning. The flames pouring from the frame touched her feet, wrapping around her ankles like snakes, pulling her in, beckoning her.

 

At last, she stood on the top step before the portal. Up close, it was a swirling mist of colors. The portal seemed to be a translucent sheet of water; colors unlike those of earth swirled eagerly from this side to that, mixing and bonding, spreading out in fans and patterns. Hermione reached forth and touched it; it was cold on her fingertips, and yet fire spread through her fingers.

 

Taking a deep breath to expunge the terror within her, she plunged her entire arm into the surface of the watery portal. She gasped as freezing cold water instantly sunk through the heavy material and onto her skin, and then mewed in pain as fire consumed her arms. As she eased her body slowly through, she knew she had one chance to do this right, to atone her mistakes, to make everything alright.

 

Voldemort could not win, she wouldn't allow it.

 

With one final look at the scene before she, she noted how tense Voldemort seemed, and how rigid all of his Death Eaters appeared. The firelight illuminated all of their faces in the bleak night, and they all were holding their breath, waiting for her to disappear. Hermione looked up at the moon, and its promising, heavenly light filled her very core.

 

She knew what she had to do now. There was only one chance, and it was for Harry, for Ron, for everyone that she loved. With that thought in mind, and with the image of Draco in her mind, bleeding and nearing the brink of death, Hermione forced herself through the portal, promising herself right then and there that the people that meant everything to her would survive.

 

And as she sunk through the icy surface, she knew that somehow, she would be victorious.

 

-

-x-x-x-

-

Author's Note: hey so I hope you enjoyed that! The chapter when she's in the Underworld is sort of freaky! I'm going to enjoy editing that bad boy, aww yeah.

 

A huge thanks to all of those who continue to read this, I apologize for the terrible waiting in between chapters! And a huge thank you to Chrysta who is my main impetus to finish this!

 

Please review!


Chapter 21: Revenge of the Immortal
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

 Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter and the amazing characters that I wish were real (excluding a few, of course).

 

But I do own Troy Malfoy, and Troy's daddy, Lucifer Malfoy. And Cassie Valeska! The underworld is based off of Dante's Inferno, which I'm sure you're all familiar with!

 

Also I combined this chapter with the Ron/Harry/Ginny chapter! Hope you enjoy that!

  

So now, let us CONTINUE!

 

The October Hollow

By Darkwing731

-

((--Chapter Twenty One--))

Revenge of the Immortal

 

-

 

 

She knew what she had to do now. There was only one chance, and it was for Harry, for Ron, for everyone that she loved. With that thought in mind, and with the image of Draco in her mind, bleeding and nearing the brink of death, Hermione forced herself through the portal, promising herself right then and there that the people that meant everything to her would survive.

 

And as she sunk through the icy surface, she knew that somehow, she would be victorious.

 

 Whatever she expected, this was not it. It was only moments ago that she was forcing herself through an ice cold portal, leaving behind a terrifying and life altering scene. But… but… With a blink of an eye she was here, almost as if she had been dreaming all along, and she had finally woken up.

 

Hermione Granger was standing quite calmly on solid ground. Her eyes took in nothing around her, and yet, all at once, took in everything. Standing on ashen ground as gray as dead, forgotten embers, there were no rocks, no pebbles, nothing. The sky was a swirling mist of gray, red and blue, creating a tormented spiral of colors; the far off distant clouds were raging, unreasonable color and mist, swirling about madly. Hermione could just see the horizon line in the distance, which was dominated by fog and mist. Before her was a dirt path that snaked its way to a river, swirling terribly like the angry clouds above.

 

Behind the clouds, Hermione could see no hint of a celestial orb, whether moon or sun. This did not make sense, because all sense of weakness was gone. An invigorating energy ran through her, coursing through her like blood. She felt strong, able, and temerity overwhelmed her. The wounds which had inflicted her body was absent, along with any pain. But as she had just recently come to understand was that the moonlight brought all of these things upon her, and in this underworld, there was no moon.

 

Casting her eyes to the ground in confusion, Hermione happened to spot something curious in front of her, something that did not quite fit with the deaden world around her. On the ground lay a pulsing white stone, gleaming, translucent, and chatoyant. The moment she was intrigued enough to move towards it, her hands began to sear with a white hot pain. Releasing a surprise cry, she decided it was in her best interest to run to the river and plunge her hands in to cool them down. But the moment she began to pass by the stone, her entire body flung itself forward onto the moonstone, and like magnets, her hands enclosed around it, and the pain disappeared. The spot on her hands where the wounds used to be glowed suddenly, as if someone had slashed white paint on her.

 

And like her hands had been guided by the stone, now was her body; almost as if someone had pulled her to her feet, Hermione felt herself jerked forward. Complying, she followed the lead of the stone, trying to ignore the unease growing within her. In the distance, there was a terrible roar, followed by another before slow fading. Thunder crashed and lightning struck the river's surface; a loud splash echoed the now eerie silence.

 

As she walked, Hermione observed the landscape with narrowed eyes. There were bizarre, mangled trees and roots that rose angrily from the ground, their bark gnarled and twisted. The branches were thin and raggedy, and pointed accusingly at her. The ground among the trunk was broken and cracked, almost as if the earth was holding the tree against its will.

 

Hermione nervously walked faster. Soon, a bend in the road appeared. As Hermione rounded it, she saw that it ended quite abruptly, the bend sinking leisurely into the furious river. Near the end of the drop of the bank was a tall willow tree, gnarled and twisted like its other companions in old age. However, someone was standing beneath it.

 

Holding a long paddle-like pole stood a tall, thin man dressed in a flowing black cloak which brushed the ground. He had a gaunt face, his cheekbones sharp, his eyes sunken, his skin completely hairless. Hermione froze on the spot, not wanting to near the man in case he was any kind of threat to her. There was a long, rickety boat slashing the shoreline as the waves pounded its boards.

 

"Do not fear the unknown," said a quiet, calm voice in her ear. Hermione spun around, petrified, to discover the speaker.

 

The first thought to cross Hermione's mind was that this stranger, this woman, was beautiful. Like the moonstone between Hermione's hands, this woman emitted a faint, pulsing, gleaming light, something caused by both her pristinely white skin and her pure white clothing. A mane of lustrous black hair, captured by a silver headband drew Hermione's attention, however. There on her forehead, carved into the headband, was a crescent moon. And the more Hermione looked, the more it made sense; the woman had a sling of arrows hitched on her shoulder, and a fierce sword buckled at her waist.

 

"Artemis?" Hermione heard herself asking. It was a word, a name, that had escaped her lips without her even realizing. It was a word, a name, that she had known all along.

 

"Yes," the woman, Artemis, answered, a motherly smile now splayed across her lips. Almost hungrily, Hermione looked her over once more, noticing those things which had initially escaped her. The white robes adorning Artemis' body was that of a Greek goddess, a toga tucked and tied carefully. Only briefly noticing her stormy blue eyes, Hermione's eyes were glued to the stone dangling from Artemis' neck.

 

"I have that!" Hermione exclaimed, gesturing to the stone. "It's here—" However hard she tried, the Muggleborn could not pry her hands apart. "—between my hands…"

 

Laughing kindly, Artemis reached out and touched Hermione's hands, sending a shiver of electricity through the girl. All at once, Hermione's hands came loose, and she was able to see the jewel which she protected.

 

"I don't understand," Hermione said quietly, looking at the moonstone. "I don't know what it’s for. And these—these wounds, these little spots, why are they like this?"

 

Artemis did not have to look at the pulsing, circular wounds on Hermione's hands, but simply lifted her own palm in explanation. There, on the Greek goddess, were identical lesions, something that earned a gasp from Hermione.

 

"Then we are the same?" Hermione decided after a moment; Artemis shook her head, grinning.

 

"This is where our power gathers, Hermione. With our hands we can accomplish any magic, for all magic is a form of light derived and harnessed from the Earth," the goddess explained gently. "Your captors did not want you to retaliate against them."

 

"You knew about Lord Voldemort? And the Death Eaters?" Hermione rushed to ask, astounded.

 

"I know everything that happens in your life, Hermione. I have been watching your every footstep," Artemis replied quietly. Without waiting for Hermione to ask why, she continued. "I am your celestial creator. Every witch or wizard is born into a House, you see. The time of their birth echoes the place the sun or moon touches the earth. Yes, it would seem reasonable to say you were born under the Sixth House. However, you were born during the peak of a full moon, something that separated you, as that is a trait of the Thirteenth House."

 

"There are many full moons each year," Hermione interjected, almost meekly. Was she still trying to make excuses for what she was?

 

"This is true," Artemis agreed. "But your birth not only fell under the first harvest moon of the year, but corresponded with the birth of the last Lumerous Witch, despite it being centuries ago."

 

"I'm— I'm confused," Hermione confessed, trying to wrap her mind around this new information.

 

"It becomes much more complicated than it already seems," Artemis informed her gently. "Just know that I have chosen you."

 

"Are there any others?" Hermione asked.

 

"There was," Artemis murmured. "She was recently killed. She did not follow the congenital rules I had set for her, and she was sought out for what she was, just as you were."

 

"Is she here, then?" Hermione questioned, looking around as though the recently deceased witch would appear.

 

"She is not. This is not the true Underworld, but rather a limbo that souls dwell in. She had passed on to the afterlife," Artemis said. To this, the goddess turned and beckoned down the road. "Charon is waiting for us."

 

Hermione knew who Charon was; the ferryman for the River Styx, he ferried only the dead— and for a price. As Hermione followed Artemis to the skeletal man, she suppressed a chill, anxious with the thought of crossing the river of the dead.

 

"Take us to Hades," Artemis commanded, stepping into the boat. When Hermione went to follow suit, the man threw out a painfully thin arm.

 

"This one is not dead," he wheezed, glaring at Hermione.

 

"She holds the Stone," Artemis countered quietly, and Hermione opened her hands to reveal the moonstone. Charon immediately backed away, letting the girl come into the boat. Charon got in behind them, and took the long pole in his bony hands. With a great surge of power, he pushed the boat off from the bank and into the raging waters. Hermione noted, with a jolt of fear, that she could not see the adjacent shore.

 

As they moved into deeper water, Hermione gave a little mew of fear when she looked into the water. Floating corpses hovered there, their eyes white and unseeing, their hands bony and comprised of rotting flesh. It was a relief when the shore was finally in view. Looming above them at a great height was a gothic, distorted castle that seemed to blend in with the raging stormy clouds above it. Several towers stood in the air, dark and foreboding, thrusting their way into the dark clouds. The castle itself seemed like one massive, fierce willow tree as it engulfed the earth beneath it and rose triumphantly from an unfair battle.

 

"We are nearly upon Hades' castle," Artemis said, breaking Hermione's concentration. "There will be many frightening things, things you may never see in the upper world: Cerberus, and the many souls that bitterly await their damnation. You must remember one thing: never give into your fear. You must always rise above it, or it will destroy you."

 

The boat hit the shore, and the Greek goddess leapt out with ease. Hermione mimicked her actions, but tension was building up in her chest. Artemis sternly told Hermione to keep her head down as they walked the gruesome steps of the castle. Keeping her yes on the ground, she listened to the ear-splitting roar of Cerberus, the three-head dog that guarded the castle gateway. Hermione was numbly aware of Artemis's singing as she lulled the creature to sleep, and waited until the giant three-headed dog fell to the ground in a peaceful slumber before looking up.

 

"Come," Artemis beckoned, leading Hermione up the ancient, cracked stairs of the ghostly palace.

 

The castle itself was extremely intimidating, as were its doors. They were carved to depict horrible scenes of death and war, while the gods of Mount Olympus looked down on the events. Once in, the doors with a sudden snap, engulfing everything in darkness. To her left, Artemis' hand glowed, and an orb of light hovered in her hands.

 

"Remember," Artemis whispered. "Do not be frightened."

 

But what was there to be frightened of? No sooner than asking herself this question was she stiff with fear. Almost as if they were born of the dark, deathly pale cadavers began to approach them. Their skin peeling, their bodies rotting, Hermione tried desperately to look away and remain calm, but it was a hard task. The Greek goddess grabbed her hand, tugging her along so she might escape the walking dead. Up the stairs they went, and paused in front of a huge, towering doorway.

 

"Hades and Persephone are ready," Artemis whispered. She pushed open the door, and a rush of dim light greeted Hermione. The goddess tugged Hermione's hand once more, and she followed Artemis into the grand room inside the set of massive doors.

 

Hermione gasped as she looked around; they seemed to be inside a huge cave. The ceilings were high with treacherously hanging stalactites. The pair stood on a ridge in the midst of a sunken. From there was a raised platform, on which two thrones stood and deemed themselves righteous, along with their occupants. One was a girl that looked no older than fifteen, with long golden hair and blue eyes that looked particularly hollow and lifeless. Her clothing, a customary Greek toga, was made of thick white cloth, adorned with a light blue sash around her waist. The girl was leaning as far as she could away from her companion, almost as if he smelled of something foul. Knowing there was no other explanation, this girl had to be Persephone.

 

On the other throne sat a tall, thin man with dark eyes and equally dark hair, tangled and wild. His clothing was wispy and dark, almost as if a thundercloud had formed around him in the shape of a toga. His lipless mouth was frowning, and his sharp eyes were narrowed. Holding himself as if he was of the utmost important, he glared at Hermione and Artemis.

 

"Why have you disrupted me?" the dark man asked icily. This could be none other than Hades himself, lord of the Underworld.

 

"We come on a dire mission," Artemis replied coldly, eyes narrowed.

 

"You are not taking my queen from me. Any more attempts will be as futile as the last—"

 

"I have not come for Persephone," Artemis hissed. The young girl, who had sat upright at the mention of her name, deflated at this news. Hermione felt a tinge of pity for her, and wished that they could steal her from Hades.

 

"Then what do you want?" Hades demanded.

 

Artemis looked to Hermione, giving her an encouraging nod. Hermione, who had been listening to their exchange intently, was caught off guard.

 

"I-I am here to retrieve someone's immortality," Hermione squeaked, flushing with humiliation.

 

"What is their name?" Hades barked, retrieving a scroll from beneath his seat.

 

What was the name? It was on the tip of her tongue, trying to blurt itself before Hermione could control it. But no, she would not— could not— allow Voldemort to become immortal. All of the problems Hermione had left behind with the portal suddenly came swooping down upon her, and the weight that had been lifted with Artemis' presence fell upon her, crushing her.

 

"The name is—" Hermione choked out, trying to keep herself under control.

 

It was now or never. This was her one, and only, chance. Her words came out in a rush, an inarticulate mess that escaped her. But it was her only choice, her only option. There would be war raging soon enough, and even Voldemort himself could not stop the revenge of the immortals.

 

-x-x-x-

 

Before Hermione stood the portal, an ancient arch that was cracked and decrepit, and had seen an unfathomable amount of time. Glowing in her hands was the moonstone, pulsing with the soul it now encapsulated. Not a moment had passed where Hermione had asked herself, did I make the right decision? Have I done the right thing?

 

"I see the concern in your eyes," Artemis said quietly, touching Hermione gently. "You must never worry, you must never regret. This action was made for a reason."

 

"Voldemort will take it from me," Hermione replied, her face crinkling in tearful worry.

 

"He cannot use the stone without your help, Hermione," Artemis reminded her. "Only you have the power to wield it."

 

"But when—"

 

"The time will present itself one day," Artemis cut across her; her eyes were now glued to the portal. "You will know when it is the right time." Turning to look at the portal as well, Hermione realized that the light was getting smaller and darker. The humidity and temperature was rising quickly, and Hermione felt everything grow hotter.

 

The portal was closing.

 

"You have to go back," Artemis said, eyes wide with alarm. As she pushed Hermione towards the arch, she said, "Remember, Hermione, I am always with you. You may never see me again until the wielding of the stone, but until then, I shall watch over you."

 

Hermione nodded, feeling the fear start to grow in her stomach again. With a few well placed steps, Hermione forced herself through the ice cold portal, Artemis' forlorn look the last thing in her eyes, the knowledge that death would be swiftly upon her.

 

-x-x-x-

 

Earlier that night . . .

 

 Harry Potter, Ginny and Ron Weasley were all screaming as they flew through time and space before they finally hit solid ground. All clambering to get on their feet, they crouched low to the ground and hid themselves in the darkness. 

 

The ledge they had landed on jutted out at least twenty feet from where they were standing, before the cliff broke off. Light outlined the edge of the crooked edge, an eerie horizon in the pitch-black night. Behind them was a mountain; boulders perched precariously, threatening to fall at the slightest disturbance, the great mountain went as far as the eye could see before dissolving into the night.

 

Exchanging nervous glances, they pulled out their wands. "Lumos," was muttered simultaneously, and they crept quietly to the edge of the cliff to peer down. Above them, stars winked and the full harvest moon held nothing back, giving them away to any approaching enemies.

 

Ginny gasped slightly at they looked over the edge; from what could be seen nearly seventy feet below, there was a large circle of Death Eaters surrounding a massive fire. There was a stone dais inside the circle of cloaked figures, and shackled to the ground was a thin, motionless figure.  

 

Ron narrowed his eyes and scrutinized the person chained to the ground, realizing it was the only person within the circle. The figure had tattered clothing, no shoes, and messy brown hair that was far too large to be mistaken—

 

"Hermione," Ron croaked. Harry looked at him sharply.

 

"Where?" he demanded, following Ron's eyes.

 

"That person on the ground! That's her!" Ron moaned.

 

"Are you sure?" Ginny asked doubtfully, her concerned face matching Harry's.

 

"Who else would it be?" Harry asked in a quiet voice, although he knew there could be another. His suspicions were confirmed when Ron and Ginny exchanged a forlorn look, both worried for their missing cousin as well.

 

"Look at her! She's— she's glowing! And her hands, look at her hands!" Ron exclaimed, eyes wide with fear. "What's happening to her?"

 

"I don't know," Harry answered truthfully.

 

"It's the moonlight," Ginny answered quietly. The two boys looked at her, confused, but she said nothing more. The three students sat in a pregnant silence, watching Hermione's small figure tremble against the ground.

 

"What do we do now?" Ron asked after a tense moment.

 

It was several heavy moments before he answered. "We wait." Ron shot Ginny a nervous look, but both Weasleys remained silent.

 

An eternity passed, it seemed, before anything happened. Death Eaters stood stock still, their masks flickering in the firelight, while Hermione's strange movements continued, and they watched, puzzled, as her hands seemed to glow bright and strong, like a star she had captured.

 

And then, so suddenly that Harry and Ron jumped, Ginny cried out. Her arm immediately shot out over the ledge, pointing to a tall, robed figure appearing on the scene. Ginny was quivering, Ron's eyes widened, and Harry's body stiffened considerably.

 

"Voldemort," Harry uttered softly, and both of the Weasley children flinched.

 

They watched in utter terror and fascination as the Dark Lord walked to the stone dais. It was a moment before they realized he was speaking, but despite their best efforts they were deaf to his words.

 

"Look at that," Ron murmured as Hermione's movements were exaggerated, perhaps in fear. Voldemort then turned to his Death Eaters, and raised his voice slightly to address them. Harry, Ron, and Ginny could hear him now, although his words, which were not projected very much, still went unheard.

 

The skeletal figure of the Dark Lord turned back to address Hermione, who was now facing him. Ginny clapped a hand to her mouth as she watched Voldemort tense in anger, but the three observers gasped collectively as Hermione screamed, "Kill me then! I don't care if I die!"

 

Voldemort did not shout back, but instead called to one of his followers and waved a hand at them before looking back to Hermione. Harry, Ron and Ginny watched bemused as the Dark Lord addressed a trembling Hermione Granger, but were even more disconcerted when Draco Malfoy was pulled onto the scene. Hermione's head flicked back and forth between Malfoy and the Dark Lord, but whatever she said, they could not hear.

 

"Malfoy?" Ron scoffed, bewildered.

 

"What in Merlin's name is going on?" Ginny moaned, frightened.

 

Harry cautiously picked his words; "I think Voldemort wants Hermione to—"

 

"I don't care whether he lives or not!" Hermione's voice interrupted Harry suddenly, and he stopped short. She began to lose volume, but then—

 

"Potter will be destroyed regardless of your fighting! You cannot save him!" Voldemort's voice cut across her.

 

"Oh no," Harry whispered, horrified. "She can't do this. She can't—"

 

"I will try my hardest then!" Hermione shouted back, her defiant words audible even now.

 

And they knew it was coming before it had happened; Ginny covered her eyes as Voldemort's spidery hand singled out Malfoy, and both Harry and Ron grimaced as Draco Malfoy was pinned to the ground. Malfoy began screaming for Hermione's helped, and Ron was filled with a sick satisfaction that she did not reply, that she did not give in, even as his howls of pain began to fill the night.

  

"I don’t love him!" Hermione's voice snarled. Then, as Voldemort began to jeer at her, they heard his words, despite their best efforts to misconstrue them.

 

"You may not love him, but you love things about him, don’t you? You love the way he looks at you, the way he touches you, the way his hands feel on you, how he—"

 

"Stop it!" Hermione screamed. "That is nothing in comparison to love! Nothing!"

 

It was painful to listen now. None of that could be true, Hermione would never betray her friends— but some part of Harry recognized the truth. He remembered Malfoy reading the letter to Nott, and he knew how desperate Hermione must've been to have her questions answered. It was terrible, and revolting, and horrifying, but it was true.

 

Hermione would not stop there, however; she continued to fight the Dark Lord, to refuse him what he wanted, to disregard Malfoy's wellbeing. And then Voldemort plunged his hands into his robes, and without thinking, Harry turned to Ron.

 

"Silencio!" Harry cried just as "Crucio!" rang throughout the dark night. The echoes of Hermione's screams were matched in a furious writhing as Harry fought the restraints of Ginny and Harry. How dare anyone hurt her!

 

Finally, her screaming subsided. Ron stopped thrashing about and lay still, panting furiously. They released him cautiously, and when Ron threw Harry an enraged look, Harry half-smiled at him.

 

"They would've heard us," Harry explained before Ron could begin his rant, and Ginny agreed with a short nod. "We can't be caught. So please, Ron… Finite."

 

Ron cleared his throat, trying not to glare at Harry, before he turned back to watch the events below. Harry and Ginny followed suit, but they were shortly turning skyward to follow the mesmerized faced of their enemies.

 

They had no time to react before everything around them was an unearthly blinding white; it compressed the space between them, consumed them, and left no mercy. Ginny shrieked, and Ron and Harry threw arms over Ginny as the white light forced its way upon then.

 

Suddenly, there was a deafening roar, and wind pounded Harry and Ron so powerfully that it knocked them over. Harry collapsed on top of Ginny, and Ron was sent hurtling backwards into the as easily as a paper doll. Both screaming in fear, clinging to whatever they could, Harry and Ginny tried desperately not to fall off the edge of the cliff, as now their bodies were halfway over.

 

 But it was no use, as a gust of wind so strong sent both him and Ginny over the edge. Screaming, they tumbled over the side of the ledge and fell down to the next small ledge, where they landed awkwardly and painfully, and remained quite motionless otherwise. Ron was close behind them, however, as he was fighting the wind and trying desperately to save his best friend and little sister. Despite the wind pushing him to and fro, he clawed his was best he could to the cliff's edge. Once his fingers were curled around the rock, however, the wind abruptly stopped.

  

The eerie silence was all that was left in wake of the windstorm. Disregarding his new unease, he pulled himself over the ledge, tumbling downwards to their immobile bodies. Just as he pulled himself to his feet, however, there was a great ripping noise, as if the fabric of time and space were being pulled apart, and Ron gasped as he watched the massive bonfire grow at a monstrous pace. And out of the fire rose something unearthly and terrible; an ancient arch, towering and etched with cracks, stood tall and intimidating. Its tattered veil was fluttering, Ron noticed, despite being a considerable distance away. Hermione's astonished face matched his own, before the fire suddenly went wild and encircled her, trapping her, and her face was set with such fear that Ron's heart seemed to stop.

 

But he had no time to be worried, for just as he considered crying out for her, the earth began to shudder beneath his feet, and the great rumblings of the boulders up above him signaled their arrival. Scrambling to grab Harry and Ginny's unconscious bodies, he pulled them as fast as he could to the wall of the mountainside. Ron started screaming in terror as boulders landed all around him, each one falling with a deafening crunch that seemed to crack the very earth itself.

 

There were massive rocks all around him when it finally stopped, and although he and his two unconscious companions had almost been killed, they were alive. Ron was huddling against the wall, cradling Ginny and Harry's heads against him, knowing that the rest of their bodies could be repaired if need be. When all was at rest, he cautiously released them and crawled forward, slipping between the rocks that had slightly entombed them on the mountainside.

 

Wanting nothing more than to watch Hermione and make sure she was alright, Ron approached the ledge again, peering cautiously over it. He could hear the screaming of Malfoy once more, and realized with a grim thought that the Slytherin was about to die. Only a few moments passed before the hair on his neck stood up suddenly, and a foreboding shiver made him turn around hastily. To his horror stood two Death Eaters, wands up, ready to capture him. Ron did not move, but fear swept through him like no other time in his life.

 

It was only after a long minute that Ron broke his frozen position, and then there were rapid movements as Ron struggled to get his wand and avoid their spell. However, "STUPEFY!" struck him square in the back, and he was unable to escape.

 

Ron was awoken sometime later. Eyes blinking groggily, his head spinning, he was very aware of all the damage his body had recently endured that night, from jumping over cliffs to dodging boulders to being struck by a stunning spell. Just as he was regaining some levelheadedness, he was shoved down on the ground, restrained and gagged. In front of him, someone was pacing impatiently.

 

"But who is it?" said a high, cold voice, sending shivers all over Ron's body.

 

"It's a Weasley, I'm sure of it. But I do not know which one, my lord," replied a silky voice above him. His captor began to handle him roughly, turning him around so that other Death Eaters might guess. Then, Ron was suddenly grateful for the gag in his mouth, because it suppressed his frightened scream; lying next to him, and very much unconscious, was Draco Malfoy. His shoulder was completely ripped open, and crimson blood stained his silver-blonde hair, neck and face. His arms were tied behind his back, and he lay face down on the ground, skin pale and clammy.  

 

Someone was untying the gag from around his head. "You, Weasley!" snarled some cold, drawling voice above him. "What is your first name?" Ron did not answer. He kept both his eyes and his mouth shut, knowing his disobedience would not be taken lightly.

 

"Crucio!"

 

The pain that hit him was excruciating; he had never felt anything remotely like it. He screamed in agony, wriggling on the ground, his bones on fire. It was like death, he thought, or the Hell that plagued one through illness. His soul and body could not hold the immense pain any longer.

 

When it stopped, Ron gasped for breath, his body aching. Tears of shock had escaped his eyes, but with his face pressed into the dirt, he could care less. With each moment, he thought only of Hermione, and hoped that somehow, he was helping her. When they demanded his name again, and he refused, he met the same fate. Only this time, it was ten thousand times worse. When they released him from the prison of anguish, a soft moan escaped him and his eyelashes fluttered. Ron was barely conscious now, and he felt delirious with pain.

 

"Now, Weasley?"

 

"Ron," he croaked without hesitation. He did not want to experience pain like that again.

 

There was a mutter of indignation and a snap of fingers, and the next moment, Ron was being gagged again. He should've fought it, but there was nothing left in him to fight.

 

"This was Granger's old boyfriend, my lord," said a drawling voice off to his right. "Draco's told me all about him."

 

"And what has Draco told you, Troy?" hissed the high, cold voice again; Ron knew it was Lord Voldemort, and despite his lack of energy, he began to quiver in fear.

 

"Well Granger cried on and on about him. But he told me they're rather revolting, but nearly inseparable otherwise," replied the first, Troy. He sounded young and arrogant, much like Draco Malfoy himself.

 

"Excellent," said Voldemort quietly. "Precious time will not be wasted when she returns. She would not risk him for anything."

 

At these words, Ron felt sick to his stomach; Hermione, who would have died to keep Voldemort from his immortality, would be now faced with the fate of Ron's life. And Ron knew, however gut wrenching and miserable it was, that Hermione would do anything to keep Ron alive. This could only mean one thing—

 

Without warning, there was another blast of unearthly light that seemed to fill every particle of space. Ron clamped his eyes shut, yet the light forced its way through his eyelids. The Death Eaters around him were now very still, almost as if had hit them with a body binding charm, but Voldemort rushed to the stone dais, as if he had forgotten his post and was hurrying back. Raising his head a few inches off of the ground, twisting his neck dangerously to see what the commotion was about, Ron's eyes widened with dread and fear. Hermione Granger descended slowly from the stone archway, holding herself in a cautious fashion, and made her way to the end of the fire pathway. She stood before the stone dais, holding herself in a very cautious, erect manner, almost as if she was holding something very fragile and precious, and dropping it would be disastrous.

 

Casting her eyes upward, she faced Voldemort's triumphant gaze with hollow, cold words.  "Let's get this over with."

 

Hermione could barely see any divine feature of the night anymore; stars merely twinkled. The moon was full and orange, daring her to match its beauty.  She felt empty, void, cold and deadened; the absence of Artemis was an aching hole, burning inside of her, an acute reminder that she was forever alone now. She had only one job left to do, and she would be swiftly embraced by death. But, she thought to herself, perhaps death is not the thing I should fear anymore.

 

"Are you ready to complete this, Mudblood?" Voldemort hissed, casting a cruel smile at her. 

 

"Yes," Hermione uttered, her dead eyes cast in shadow.

 

"Show me what you've brought back," he ordered, scrutinizing Hermione as she lifted cupped hands into the air. The only thing that could be seen was a pulsing white light, as if she held an illuminated egg in her hands. This met Voldemort's satisfaction, however, for a victorious smile crept onto his face.

 

"There is only one thing left to do tonight," Voldemort said quietly, though his red eyes gleamed with malice. "And then, I shall dispose of you."

 

Dispose of me? she wondered. Was Voldemort aware that without Hermione, it was impossible to do anything with the stone? The soul that was trapped inside of the moonstone was only reachable by her hands, with her power, and by nothing else.

 

But if he killed her, then he would be condemning himself. And Hermione had been victorious thus far. She would say nothing then, and would die in order to help Harry, and in order to bring down the Dark Lord.

 

Death meant many things, and Hermione knew she should be angry, furious even. Times like this called for tears, tragedy, and grief. But she would have none of it, for she knew that it was useless now. As long as her death was not in vain, there should be no reason to fear death, and there should be no reason to dwell in misery about it.

 

"Give me the stone, Mudblood," Voldemort demanded, breaking Hermione's tragic thoughts. The Dark Lord held out his hand expectantly, and as if she had nothing left to fight for, she simply moved forward to hand it to him, but—

 

"NO!"

 

Her hand froze, only inches above Voldemort's outstretched hands. Her heart seemed to stop. Moments ago there was nothing stopping her death, there was nothing holding her to this living reality, she was ready to leave—

 

But Ron— Ron was here. Snatching back the stone and staring at the boy who had stolen her heart, Hermione gaped at Ron, thrashing about on the sidelines, desperately avoiding the Death Eaters who were trying to quiet him.

 

"Yes, Weasley here appears to be very concerned for you," Voldemort said, almost lazily. "But it is no matter, is it, Mudblood? You would never let him die, would you?"

 

"N-No," Hermione whispered, forcing back the tears and tearing her gaze from Ron. "I will do what I must to protect him." Her words met with a menacing laugh, and even though the icy hand of fear clutched at her throat, she pushed on, knowing she had to see her trickery through until the very end. She moved forward and handed the moonstone to Lord Voldemort, who clutched it protectively once in his possession.

 

"DON'T DO IT, HERMIONE!" Ron screamed, and she felt herself begin to tremble. Somehow, she had to block his voice from her head, or walking into the Valley of Death would be an impossible task.

 

Disregarding Ron's now muffled shouting, Voldemort withdrew a dagger from inside of his cloak, and held it forward for Hermione to take. The Muggleborn did so, fingers trembling. Next, he retrieved a silver cup, placing it on stone pillar at which he stood.

 

"I will give you careful instructions, Mudblood. You must follow them exactly. Or else, he dies," snarled the Dark Lord, eyes snapping on Ron's struggling figure.

 

Ron made an attempt to shout to her again, but with an angry protest was shoved down cruelly to the ground. Hermione watched him helplessly, her body quivering, as he was restrained. Her lip quivered and she fought the urge to scream for him.

  

Trying desperately to distract herself from Ron, Hermione inspected the blade she now held in her hands. Its smooth, liquid-like surface caught every flickering light of the fire. The handle had emeralds and diamonds on it, a snake winding its way around the handle and onto the very surface of the knife itself. The scales were etched in brighter silver, and the tongue protruding from the serpent's mouth looked deadly.

 

How could she be inspecting items when she was moments away from her death? When Ron was right there, begging for her to come to her senses? Why wasn't she cowering in fear? Because Artemis told me not to. And she is watching over me now, Hermione reminded herself firmly. No harm could touch her now, she was impervious to the evil that was about to destroy her. Death would only be a release.

 

The trouble was, how could Hermione convey all of this to Ron? How could she let him know that he had no part in this, he was not the one to make her die? He was a backup, and that was it, not collateral forcing her into a corner. If she died without telling him, he would be haunted by the guilt of her death the rest of his life. And Hermione didn't know if she could live with that thought.

 

What could she do?

 

"Take the dagger in your hands, and—"

 

"Wait," Hermione cut across softly, cowering slightly under the furious look of the Dark Lord. "I just— let me say goodbye to him."

 

Ron, who had been fighting the Death Eaters vainly for the past few minutes, stopped suddenly, his eyes round with fear. With narrowed eyes, Voldemort waved his hands to his followers, shooting Hermione an angry glare.

 

"I reward you this moment only because you have been so subservient and willing thus far," Voldemort hissed. "Make no mistake. I have no pity for you. Enjoy your last moments before death."

 

There was a quick scramble of ropes the quick thudding of feet before Ron and Hermione were suddenly in each other's arms, clinging to one another as if no else mattered in the world. Both their hearts hammered in their chests; the lovers had not seen each other for so very long, it seemed. And now was their last chance to reunite before death ultimately parted them. She buried her head in his shoulder, her arms wrapped around his neck, sobbing uselessly. The words that streamed out of her mouth were incoherent and not at all understandable, but he was nodding and trying vainly not to cry. He thought his heart would burst with sorrow and joy and regret all at the same time. Everything that had happened to Hermione had been his fault. If he had no left her, if he had loved her better, everything would be different. It had taken only moments to destroy her life, and there was only a moment to atone for his mistake, to soothe her, to rescue her, because after that moment, he would never see her again. Only a minute had gone by as they stood in a desperate, hungry embrace that only one another could fill, but it was an eternity of stained happiness, of bitter sweet perfection.

 

"I'm so sorry," he croaked, choking back a sob. "It's all my fault—"

 

"No it's not!" she cried, pulling him closer and kissing his cheeks, wetting them with her own tears. "None of this is your fault!"

           

"But if I hadn't—"

 

"Stop it!" Hermione sobbed, shaking her head defiantly against his words. "I have to do this! For you and Harry and Ginny and—"

 

"I won’t let you die," Ron hissed, his grief now mingled with fury.

 

"This isn’t your decision," she mewed, staring up into his blue eyes. It struck her suddenly how beautiful he was, and how she had taken him for granted.

 

But a moment later, Ron closed the small gap between them, and together they were caught in a greedy, frantic kiss. It was a moment that would remain in her mind, forever and eternally, and was something that could not be snatched away. It would calm her worries and soothe her fears. Ron was here, holding her, loving her, and that was all that mattered. 

  

Suddenly, a pair of strong hands grabbed her; she gave a painful, heartbroken cry of protest as she reached out for Ron's hand as he too was pulled away. He fought against the hooded crowd and threw out his hand to save her, to rescue her. His fingers curled, her fingertips brushing his, their attempt was ruined as their hands missed by mere inches.

 

"NO!" she screamed, trying desperately to grab Ron's hands. He cried out her name and tried to break free and run to her, but he was already being pinned down and restrained.

           

"HERMIONE!"

 

The pair of hands that had grabbed her threw her to the ground by the stone dais. She tried to disregard the burning hole inside of her, she tried to disregard Ron's screaming, but nothing seemed to work. Her indemnity was now gone, stolen, destroyed. She could only move on. She could only remind herself that her life, up until this point, had been good and whole and honest, and her death would not be wasted.

 

Without any hint of sympathy, Voldemort began once more. "Listen very carefully to me as I explain this." His voice was deadly soft. Mutely, she nodded, tears dripping off of her chin.

 

"Take the dagger that I have given you. Slit the wounds on your hands, and then slit the wounds by your neck, but only at the junction of your collarbone." Here, Voldemort paused, staring down at Hermione, who was standing stock still, awaiting further instruction. "When that is done, put your hands on top of one another and then onto your collarbone, making sure each mark of the dagger is aligned."

 

Hermione nodded, inhaling a deep, heavy breath before turning the blade over on her hand.

 

"Hermione, no!" Ron screamed. She could do nothing but watch as he struggled uselessly. "Let them kill me! I don't care what they do to me! Just don't do it!"

 

Clenching her jaw and on the verge of tears again, shook her head."I have to, Ron," she croaked. "I can't let you die! You can't! You have to help Harry!! You have to be there for your sister and Harry! They need you more than me!"

 

Before Ron could shout again, Hermione jabbed the pulsing white wound on her hand, suppressing a gasp at the sharp pain. Turning over the same hand, she nicked the skin, a shallow and innocuous cut.

 

But then—

 

Light burst forth from Hermione's hand, almost as if a continuous beam of light happened to surge right through her. Startled, her eyes wide with shock, she stared at the beautiful light that was escaping her palm.

 

"The next hand!" Voldemort snarled, annoyed with Hermione's fascination.

 

The metal was cold and smooth against her skin, and she felt it would have been easier to pierce her heart instead, for hearing Ron call out her name was heartbreaking. She pressed on though, wishing he would be silenced so that her actions were not hesitant. As she clumsily cut the skin on the other hand, the same thing happened: a beam of light soared out from both sides of her hand, and she felt as if she were wielding some celestial sword.

 

"And now, the last step," Voldemort hissed, grinning wildly. Fearful, she lifted the tip of the dagger—

  

"NO! Don't do it! STOP!" Ron bellowed. He was sobbing and fighting, quickly losing all of his energy. Hermione thought her heart would break and tried her best to ignore his screaming.

 

The tip of the blade was cold and sliced her skin with ease—

 

"DON'T! HERMIONE, STOP! DON'T DO IT!"

 

Her body was shaking worse than ever now as she blocked out his voice forcibly. Steadily, she moved her hands together, watching as the light and energy surged, and the beam doubled in size, escaping into the very heavens above them.

 

 "NO! STOP, HERMIONE!"

 

Her hands, sealed and locked forever, began moving slowly to that precious blood that dripped from her collarbone—

 

 

"HERMIONE! DON'T DO IT! STOP!"

 

But she could not listen to Ron, she could not pause and threaten his life—

 

This is for Harry. This is for Ron. This is for everyone I ever loved

 

As the surge of light touched the blood, it was as if there was no color, no sound, nothing; the earth seemed to explode in a fiery, instantaneous combustion, and that which had been Hermione Granger was now consumed in a fiercely hot white light, burning everything, ravaging the land, blinding those open eyes, destroying everything with its magnanimous light.

 

But despite this phenomenon, despite this unnatural light which stole everything there was to have, Lord Voldemort could be heard screaming with laughter, his wand rising high in the air, summoning all that he wished to take from the body of Hermione Granger, who was suspended in this light, caught, trapped, vanquished—

 

"The Order of the Phoenix is here!" came a tense shout through the light.

 

All at once, the earth was dark again, and the Order was falling like stones out of the sky, jets of light catching Death Eater after Death Eater. Loud spells and curses were flying everywhere as Voldemort's Army silently fled the scene when the Order of the Phoenix finally touched down on the mountain. Ron, watching Hermione's limp body fall to the ground, managed only a hoarse cry before he was stunned and abandoned. The Death Eaters, hastily pulling on their masks, fled the scene. Voldemort, still screeching with laughter, grabbed Hermione's arm and vanished into thin air.

 

-x-x-x-

 

"Where is he?" Lucius breathed, looking over his shoulder. The eldest Malfoy was currently attending to the wounds on Hermione's hand, though reluctantly.

Her body was tossed into the corner of the room, blood gushing from her hands. The light had ravaged her body, for her flesh had been ripped open by the powerful light. Blood was pooling and soaking the robe of the girl next to her.

 

"He should be here any moment," answered Lucifer apprehensively; he was Troy's father.

  

As if awaiting their words, the door burst open, and Voldemort entered, leading a group of Death Eaters. They quickly dispersed, talking in low voices and helping with whatever work was to be done.

 

"Well?" he snapped at Lucius impatiently.

 

"It shows no signs of stopping." Lucius answered quickly, casting his brother a nervous glance.

 

Voldemort looked down at the two women who lay on the floor. He narrowed his eyes at Hermione, debating briefly whether he should use his own magic to heal her. But no, he reminded himself; it can't be used. No magic could be used to heal her now.

  

Voldemort slowly kneeled down at the side of one of the girls restrained to the floor. Staring at them, smirking, he carefully contemplated his next move in consideration to his new prize. Both of their faces, identical in structure, were ghastly pale.

 

"Oh, do I have plans for you," he said softly, his eyes flashing in strategic preparation. Straightening up, Lord Voldemort surveyed the scene. Spotting the blood on Lucius Malfoy's hands, he beckoned his servant. "Draco must stay at Hogwarts. We cannot afford any more suspicion. Make sure he knows nothing and cannot be interrogated; the Ministry will be sure to question him."

 

"Yes, my lord," Lucius answered quickly. Lucius shot the motionless body an anxious glance. "My lord," he began uneasily. "How I am to keep her hidden? The ministry will surely find some way to use her survival against us."

  

The Dark Lord thought for a moment. "When the room is chosen, draw the shades in the house. In darkness she will be hidden—" He paused, eyes glittering darkly; "—And in darkness, she shall stay."

-
-x-x-x-
-


 

Author's Note: Um, so yeah?

 

A huge thanks to Chrysta, once again, for making me finish this! And to all those readers who stuck around!

 

Please review!


Chapter 22: Aftershock
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Disclaimer: I currently, and frequently, and in the past, so far, have never own Harry Potter. But BOY do I wish I had!

I do, however, own Troy Malfoy, his daddy Lucifer Malfoy and Cassidy, or Cassie Valeska. So far, that's about it.

Now, I think it's best we move on with the story?


The October Hollow
By Darkwing731

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((--Chapter Twenty Two--))
Aftershock


-

November 15
Fifteen days later


The cold, crisp air of October finally blew itself into the fierce, angry bitter winds of November. The chilly air held massive, swirling clouds that already threatened to sprinkle snow on the students of Hogwarts. On a few occasions, little flurries had touched upon the ground, accompanied by frost the morning after.

Quidditch now was a dreaded sport because of burning wind; the Seeker made a dive, or the Keeper fumbled a catch, each movement was haunted by the freezing cold knife of the wind. On November 15, such a day on the Quidditch field took place. Harry Potter sat on his Firebolt and scanned the game nearly fifty feet below him. Many haunting thoughts troubled his mind, but at the moment, he was forcing himself to focus on the snitch as it winded its way effortlessly through the numerous players. He couldn't afford to keep thinking about recent events.

At last, Harry spotted the heavenly glint of gold out of the corner of his eyes. He turned sharply on his broom, keeping stationary in air; the Ravenclaw Seeker was now diving for the snitch as it dashed to escape. The Seeker reached out to catch it and missed by inches. The snitch made a wild turn and once again, disappeared into the fierce November winds.

Harry sat motionless on his broom, unaware that Gryffindor had almost lost the match, for his mind had drifted elsewhere. He watched how the Seeker dived and the snitch fled the scene almost fearfully, not seeing the dive, not caring for the game suddenly. Without knowing how it happened, he felt a tear slid down his cheek.

He was instantly brought back to the present day as the cold air pinched his cheeks. Feeling almost disgusted with himself, he wiped the tear away. No news had come yet, they could be hopeful. He shouldn't cry when he knew she was coming back. He told himself as soon as Christmas, he would have no reason to ever cry again.

And yet, the situation he was in was a terrible one. After being rescued from the mountain, they had all been haunted by the events that had taken place. But Harry was not worse off than Ron. The Weasley, who had endured only minor injuries, was excused from school for what he had witnessed. Whatever it was, it was bad, Harry knew that much. Ron had become utterly silent for a few days, locking himself up. Harry could only be there for his best mate as best he could, unable to sympathize with the horrors he had seen. But he could imagine…

When Ron had started talking again, it was brief and dark, and he was very easily angered. Despite Dumbledore's reassurance that there was still a chance, that Hermione could potentially be alive, Ron had shut himself down. Nothing could convince him.

It was with this thought that Harry forced himself to be interested in the game; he turned and halfheartedly dove for the snitch, which he spotted near the base of the Ravenclaw hoop. He swooped down and almost caught it had it not been for the Bludger that had been sent his way. Dodging it easily, he sped back up to his spot above the crowd.

He watched Ron closely now; sitting in the stands, Ron watched the game glumly, glaring at the Keeper that had taken his place. Next to him were all the Gryffindor boys, cheering and clapping Ron on the back, trying to cheer him up. But nothing would work. Harry had tried his best to cheer his friend up, even blatantly saying that Hermione was going to come back, even though in the pit of his stomach, he knew there was something terribly wrong. He felt guilty, though; Ron was in such a desperate, vulnerable state that anything positive about Hermione would make him feel better.

Five minutes later, Gryffindor beat Ravenclaw 230 to 170. Gryffindor had been playing badly, and whence Harry caught the snitch and scored one hundred and fifty points, the game had been won. There was a small party in the Gryffindor Common room that night before dinner. The Gryffindors gathered inside the warm cozy common room; people were yelling and acting rambunctious. Girls were flirting and giggling, boys clutching onto butterbeer as they attempted to catch a date to Hogsmeade.

Harry had not been in the best of moods for the past two weeks since Halloween, but he assured himself that everything was going to be all right and fooled himself into fake cheerfulness. It was an action that had to be repeated for the party; Harry slid on the couch and put his arm around Ginny, his girlfriend. Ginny, who had been feeling the same way as Harry, tried her best to act normally despite the fact that she cried whenever she was alone.

"Hello," she greeted; he grinned in response.

"That was an excellent pass you made during the last five," Harry complimented. Ginny blushed, tapping his nose in affectionate response. The couple looked at each other, and they could both see the grief in one another's eyes. It had to be stopped, and now, or else they would both break down. Without further reasoning, she leaned in and kissed him on the mouth to distract them both.

Ron watched sullenly as Ginny and Harry began kissing. Although it did bother him that his little sister was snogging in front of the whole common room, he lacked the energy to do anything about it. Sitting at a quiet table away from the crowd, Ron was tipping a butterbeer to and fro as he observed the common room. Nothing could get him out of the depression he was currently in.

Nothing except her.

There was really no end to match how much he missed Hermione and how much he would sacrifice to get her back. He replayed that fatal night in his head, wondering what he could've done to save her, wondering how he could've stopped her, wondering how she could give herself to Voldemort so easily—

Calloused hands cupped his face, tears dripped between his fingers. Ron looked up when a hand clapped him on the back. It was Dean, who looked slightly embarrassed to have disrupted Ron crying.

"Everything will be alright, mate," Dean said, throwing Ron a halfhearted smile. Ron simply sneered at him, wiping the tears from his cheeks.

"Just think about the good times," Dean suggested. "She would want you to be happy."

"Easier said than done," Ron grunted, trying to picture Hermione's face in his mind. Each time he dreamt of her, she was more beautiful, more perfect, more innocent than he had ever imagined before.

"Well, what were some things she used to do? I remember you two fought a lot," Dean said, his voice dropping off at the end, sounding awkward.

Ron smiled ruefully. "She always got the better of me. Always right, she was. And she used to do this stupid thing— S.P.E.W.! Do you remember that? Dobby was always so fond of her after she started it…"

Suddenly lost in all the vivid memories of her, Ron's nostalgic smile was choked by tears. Hands cupped his face once more, and Dean patted his back with an uncertain, sympathetic hand. Wanting desperately to change the subject, Dean pointed out Harry and Ginny.

"Well, they certainly are… public," he said with a grimace. Ron shot him a withering look, but there was a small grin on his face.

"I sort of want to punch Harry," Ron admitted.

"Only natural, considering your sister is really—"

"Don't," growled Ron, eyeing the grin on Dean's face angrily.

"Don't lose your head, I'm only having a go at you," Dean laughed. The black boy eyed Harry and Ginny for a moment, and after giving Ron a mischievous look, Dean snatched Ron's butterbeer, approached the couple, and suddenly poured the liquid all over them

"SEAMUS! I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!" Ginny screamed, popping up from the couch. She plunged into the crowd, soaked in amber, frothy substance. Snatching up her wand, she scrambled to throw her infamous hex at Dean— the Bat-Bogey Hex.

Dean, grinning at Ron's honest laughter, suddenly screamed and dove under the table as the Hex flew at him. Most of the common room was roaring with laughter at Dean when he emerged, because his face was covered in great flapping wings.

Whipping out his wand, Ginny and Dean circled each other, much to the general amusement of the common room. Ron arrived at Harry's side, and both boys were chuckling.

"What is going on in here?" snapped a stern voice. Half of the common room scrambled to escape at the sound of McGonagall's voice, while the rest stood and awaited further instruction.

McGonagall came walking up to the crowd, looking suspiciously at each and every one of the Gryffindor students. Then, her eyes landed on Harry and Ron, and next Ginny, who was looking innocently at the ceiling. Lastly—

"Mr. Thomas!" she cried. "What happened to your face?"

Dean gave Ginny a sour look, who returned a smug smirk. "Nothing," Dean said bitterly. "I accidentally hexed myself, is all."

And for some reason, the Transfiguration teacher turned and looked at Ginny, her eyebrow arched. Ginny gave McGonagall a cheeky, innocent smile. McGonagall pressed her lips together and pursued her original intent.

"You three—" McGonagall clipped, gesturing to Ron, Harry, and Ginny; "Come with me."

Normally, there would be a simultaneous groan of oh no, what did I do now? But they had done nothing wrong. And if so, that could only mean one thing… Ginny and Ron looked at each other in a fleeting, scared look. As one, the three Gryffindors followed their Head of House into the hallway.

Professor McGonagall turned sharply once they were in the hall. Her eyes were unusually bright; not with happiness, but with tears. She looked incredibly sad, and one look for at the Weasley children was enough to tell them.

Although she began speaking out going to Dumbledore's office, not one of them heard her words. They were unaware of protocol; they were unaware that they were being beckoned. They were unaware of everything now. When she finished speaking, McGonagall gave each of them a long, regretful look. The silence screamed in Harry's ears; McGonagall looked into his eyes, and an awful shock went through him.

The silence was spiraling horribly; Harry felt the tension in the corridor become so tense that he could slice it in two. A tear dripped out of the teacher's eyes and she smiled sadly at them. Harry's body went completely rigid; his eyes shone with a mute, desperate plea for her to lie to him, to tell him nothing had happened, to tell them it was all a dream, a nightmare. The truth just made everything worse.

"I'm so sorry," she whispered, her voice oddly quiet. Her stern tone was lost in the sorrow in her heart. Without another word, she turned and left them, just as heartbroken as they were.

Harry was numbly aware that his cheeks were now stained with tears, and a furious howling was fighting to get out of him. He stumbled back into the wall, slowly sinking down to the floor, his head upon his knees. Everything he would miss about Hermione flashed before his eyes; her cunning, clever ways, her intelligence, her beaming smile, how she grudgingly let the boys copy her homework. Her face, so wonderful and bright and kind, loomed in his mind, etching its eternal spot, reminding him that she was gone forever.

His shoulders fell and rose with his sobs, tears falling freely and dotting his trousers. He let out an anguished cry and pressed his head to the wall, sobbing openly, the noise echoing off the corridors. A strangled wail ripped itself from his body and made his throat scream in agony.

He was not aware of Ron and Ginny standing perfectly still, holding onto each other, quietly remembering the girl they were so sure would return. Ron was completely past tears; the hollowness of his soul, the utter emptiness, was so incredibly vast, so bottomless, that the new sadness only deadened him further. He had known all along, after all…

But even in the depth of his icy heart a part of him broke further, a part of him cry out in misery. Yet he had to remain strong, just as Hermione had told him. Ron had to be there for his little sister, had to be there for his best friend, and he had to be the driving force when others fell behind. Holding Ginny closer than he ever had before, he let her quietly sob into his shoulder, tears soaking through his shirt.


Ron put aside everything he could to be there for Ginny, but one thing remained: it was the reminder that day Hermione Granger died was not only the end of the world— but of his world.

-x-x-x-


Many students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry initially questioned the reason for the black drapes, but it was not long before they realized the drapes were out of respect. The forlorn curtains hung sadly behind the staff table from the enchanted ceiling, a morose reminder of the tragedy recently faced. The Gryffindors had the saddest, palest faces in the hall; all those whose lives had been touched by Hermione wept, theirs tears unfiltered, their grief very real.

Harry had not stopped crying since McGonagall had revealed the truth to him. Ginny Weasley buried her face in his shoulder, her body shaking in anguish; she had lost her best friend and her sister, and felt no shame in crying. People wondered why Ron Weasley wasn't crying, although his face was set in a deadly, murderous look. He was seething and tormented at the same time, his eyes dark and secured, hollow and glittering with hate. He had made up his mind; he wasn't going to let anyone in now.

Ron glared at a certain Slytherin across the hall, who was looking particularly pale and panicky. Hurriedly whispering with those around him, Draco Malfoy looked shocked, uncertain even. A boy with dark hair sitting next to him replied, and Draco Malfoy paled even worse.

Malfoy had been in the hospital wing for thirteen days and had only just left two days before. His arm had been severed violently; he had been telling people who asked that he got in another fight with a Hippogriff over his short vacation. His arm had been carefully wrapped and put in a secure sling, and people knew that this time, the wound wasn't a lie.

Almost as if he felt Ron staring at him, Malfoy turned to the Gryffindor table, making eye contact with Ron Weasley. Without hesitation, Ron mouthed the horrible, dangerous truth to Malfoy: You killed Hermione. Disregarding the newly curled lip, Ron went on. I'm going to kill you, he mouthed, blue eyes now reduced to slits. Ron raised his finger to his throat and made an obscene gesture at Malfoy, his entire body quivering with utter hatred. Then he ripped his eyes away, anger burning in his throat, fighting the urge to scream at the pale-haired Slytherin.

"The cold month of November has finally arrived upon us," Dumbledore said quietly, rising from his chair. There was no need to call the great hall to attention, for it had been eerily silent to begin with. "Although many recent events have happened since the start of the year, one thing calls our precise and unmoving attention." The Headmaster's gaze turned to the Gryffindor table now, his old face mournful. "Before we begin our nightly feast, I would all of you to acknowledge the missing presence of a certain Gryffindor who should be here amongst us. I would like every one of you to stand and raise your glasses to the once Head Girl, Hermione Granger."

There was a simultaneous scrape through the hall as everyone stood, clutching his or her glasses and murmuring her name. When everyone sat, Dumbledore continued. "Hermione was an excellent student who excelled in all of her classes. She contained and demonstrated the fine attributes of the Gryffindor house with pride. She was an excellent friend and considerably kind to others around her. She was responsible, loyal and caring to anyone in need. Her death has made some impact on your life whether you realize it or not. For many of us, the thought of killing another person is unbearable. Yet… yet… her death was made without a second thought. Lord Voldemort has taken another student from these halls, and we can only hope it will be the last."

His clear old voice rang perfectly through the hall, and was met by numerous gasps and horrified noises. Dumbledore pressed on. "Hermione was innocent in many different ways. Because of this, Lord Voldemort hoped to corrupt her, knowing that her many academic talents would be a superior weapon to have. Being the person she was, however, Hermione refused, and was killed. She stood up for the name of what was good against the most powerful evil being upon the earth. Her death was made bravely and courageously, and saved a great number of lives whether she knew it or not."

Many of the people in the hall who had known Hermione very well were now crying as much as the Gryffindors. Sobs echoed through the great room from the many devastated and sad people who had befriended the Head Girl. How is it that a student could be taken from their masses? How is it that an innocent girl with such potential could be killed so effortlessly? How is it that Hermione Granger, the brightest witch of their age, was dead?

Ron stared down at the table, feeling disgusted and worthless, hating himself with every one of Dumbledore's words. Hermione was wonderful and perfect and all of these things, and Ron had just— had just abandoned her. No matter what his beloved had said to him, the weight of her death would forever rest upon his shoulders. Each and every moment alive would be wasted and fetid with misery, for his entire life would be a lie. Ron Weasley loved Hermione Granger more than anything… but she was dead. And what was left for him to live for?


-x-x-x-


November 16


Even if they had attempted to forget about the gut wrenching truth of Hermione's death, they could not. Everywhere they went there seemed to be a constant reminder of her absence, a void left unfilled, and the whispers of what used to be.

As Ron, Harry, and Ginny at their breakfast silently, they were apathetic to the daily owl post. With a great swooshing sound, hundreds of owls entered and hall, dropping parcels at their respective owners. The newspaper fell in front of Ginny, who sighed dejectedly as she unraveled it and paid the owl. But it was hardly a moment later before she clapped a hand to her mouth as if she might vomit.

The headline of the Daily Prophet was titled "The Body of Hermione Granger is Found". A moving photograph depicted several ministry wizards carrying a sheet covered body through a rural scene. A limp arm with a large, gaping wound on the hand slipped from beneath the sheet and hung there. Hermione. Harry took it front Ginny immediately, who had lost all color in her face. His eyes scanned over the words, their curves and ridges flashing through his mind, information passing through him uselessly, his heart seizing up.

Ron tried his best to keep his focus on the oatmeal in front of him, knowing that even seeing her name in the Daily Prophet might send him spiraling into an irreversible, miserable, self destructive rampage. He clamped his eyes shut as Harry began to utter words, horrified, just as Ginny was.

Harry was choking on his words, and neither Weasley had to look over to realize that he was about to cry. "They said… they said… she was found at the bottom of the mountain we were on. And— and there were wounds all over her—"

"Stop reading it," Ginny said firmly, still ashen faced.

"They said it appears she committed suicide," Harry whispered, a jagged, gasping sort of noise escaping his lips.

"That's not true," Ron growled at once; Harry and Ginny stared at him, unnerved. Ron had not spoken about what happened to either one of them. "Suicide is a selfish act," Ron hissed, glaring at both of them. "And she died for us. Not for her."

Neither Harry nor Ginny said anything, although Ginny began to tear up. She took the paper from Harry, folded it in half and ripped it so violently several people turned at the noise. Little pieces of paper floated down gently into her porridge. Tears welled up in her eyes as she released a strangled cry. A quick glance around the hall revealed that several other people were shocked at the front page.

The three of them had endured an enormous amount of tragedy in such a short time. They were confused, terrified, and miserable. Their best friend had been taken from them, a girl that they had all loved, and so violently had she been taken from him. Even though rage and grief ran deep in their veins, they were listless, immobile, and helpless. But what could they do if nothing would bring her back?

When Ginny finally looked up at Harry, she noticed that he looked awful; there were deep, purple lines under his eyes, his face unusually pale and etched in sadness.

"What are we going to do?" Ginny asked him, her lip trembling.

"We fight," Ron answered her, his face looking stormy.

"Ron's right," Harry agreed quietly. "She died for us, right? We can't let that rest in vain."

"What do you mean?" Ginny whispered, large eyes marked with fear.

The image of Hermione's lifeless face swam before his eyes, and he tried to block his heart from the horror of it.

"It means… the second war has just begun."



FIN

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-X-X-X-
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Author's Note:
so hey there. There is supposed to be a sequel. I have about nine chapters of it written, but like this story, I want to rewrite them before I post. Also, the sequel spans over a period of ten years, and much like this story, I fear that all chapters will come with great delay. For that, I apologize.

Thank you all so much for reading this and reviewing this! I'm on my way to becoming a published author, I promise you!

It was lovely writing this for you guys.
I appreciate all of your feedback and your support!
Sincerely,
Minnie



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