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Confinement by In The Shadows I Dwell

Format: Novel
Chapters: 2
Word Count: 4,602
Status: WIP

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

Genres: Horror/Dark, Romance, Angst
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco
Pairings: Draco/Hermione

First Published: 07/23/2011
Last Chapter: 04/23/2012
Last Updated: 04/23/2012

Summary:


 

In the confinement of a filthy cell in the now overcrowded Azkaban Prision, innocence and guilt mingle and become one. Hermione and Draco may share a fate, but is either truly innocent or guilty when there nothing but the raw truth left?

Brilliant banner by enchantress@TDA


Chapter 1: Isolation
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Chapter One: Isolation






Her world was isolated to a cell no larger than six metres in width and four metres in length. It was roughly halved and separated by a stone wall which crumbled when touched, but aside from the small toilet and bed which lay in opposite corners, Hermione Granger knew nothing more of her surroundings than a rough estimate of physical location of her cell in the long overcrowded Azkaban Prison. Her guess really was as good as anyone’s, very few people were privy to the geographic location of the Prison, as it had long ago been made unplottable and hidden in an isolated corner of the world to house only the worst of criminals.

The Prison itself was surrounded by a relentless, forceful and unsettled sea, the waves of which battered against the old building, even in the earliest hours of the morning – never ceasing. Azkaban was the last remaining sanctuary for the hopeless and desperate, for most who entered would die here without choice. The only difference between her and those who lived in the cells around her was she, unlike many of them, was innocent.


“It is with a heavy heart, and irrefutable evidence behind me that I place this ruling,” The Chief Warlock began slowly running his hands over his balding scalp accentuating the fact that there was very little hair there to begin with, “Hermione Jean Granger, you have been found guilty of being an accessory to the murder of your partner - Ronald Billius Weasley, on June 28th, 2003. Due to the circumstances surrounding this event, and the overcrowding of Azkaban Prison, you are to be sentenced to no less than four years confinement to your cell, with another prisoner. There will be no chance of parole before this period, you are to have no visitors and shall not, for the monstrosity of this crime, see light of day until this period is complete.”

Hermione let out a shrill cry, breaking free of the spell which bound her to the seat before the Wizengamot, the Interrogators eyes fluttered to where she had previously sat as she leapt to her feet. Their plum robes looked malevolent in the dim lighting of Court Room 10, but perhaps most malevolent of all was the nods of satisfaction from the public, many of whom had come to witness this event on the pure chance of seeing her imprisoned for the murder of an Auror. There were cheers of contentment, and many hands being shaken in the Ministerial seating. Within which sat practically all the available Auror’s under the newly shuffled department’s employment being present for this ruling.

“Please! You are making a mistake!” Hermione screamed immediately silenced by several of the Auror’s guarding her,

“I’m innocent! Please…” She added her lips moving but not a sound escaping them.


Her dreams were plagued with the memory of her sentencing to a crime she did not commit, however they were her only thoughts in the darkness of day also. The only light she could see was the small lamp in the corner of her filthy cell and the flickering light of the lamp in the opposite corner on the side of the cell separated by a partially standing wall. Barely able to see she crawled towards the door where the bland and meagre meal which awaited her lay upon the ground. She grabbed the small goblet of water and gulped it down thirstily pressing her hand to the tender bruised region on her chest where they had branded her a criminal forever.

She screamed as the wand tip was pressed to her skin, her limbs flailed about as the pain sunk into her body through her skin and the mark - her own personal reminder of her imprisonment was placed upon her skin. She did not pay attention to the numbers they had given her, nor the small symbol above them which signified her supposed crime, all she could feel was the burning sensation the mark they placed upon her chest had left pulsing through her body.

She screeched aloud as they forced the fraying striped robes onto her body and threw her old (and best) robes aside as though they were worth nothing. They removed her earrings from her ears, and the rings from her fingers, tossing them into a small bag with her name upon it, waiting for collection following the completion of her sentence.

She scraped the final grains of rice from the bowl before her, the last remnants of the only meal she would receive for the next twenty four hours. Already the robes they had forced upon her were beginning to loosen. Soon, there would be nothing left of her but the ghost of the woman who once existed. She had not walked for days, she doubted she would be able to if she tried – her strength had already begun to wane.She had already been reduced to nothing, her spirit broken beyond repair leaving her mind to slowly turn against her, encasing her thoughts and forcing them inwards to where no-one could hear them but herself.

The punishment for her crimes was isolation of the mind and the body, and soon with this confinement to nothing but this single room with no-one for company, her mind would become her own personal prison. It was the intention of the Wizengamot to push her to the brink of insanity, yet only six days in and already on the brink, four years seemed as though they would last forever.

The sound of dragging feet echoed through the corridor, there was no resistance from the prisoner the guards dragged into the other half of her cell. She crawled to her feet unsteadily, the curiosity of seeing the prisoner she would share her time here with too great to pass up. There was a moment of quiet hesitation as she reached over and peered over the cracked and decaying wall.

She could not see each figure entirely; the guards threw the body of her cellmate onto their rough bed, obscured entirely by darkness and left the cell without a word. She had not come to the cell as willingly, nor with her head bowed in silent acceptance. She had fought her fate until the very last moment that her limbs would allow her to do so; this person however, in comparison was quite the opposite, having come silently and without complaint.

“Let me go! Let go!” Hermione screamed, kicking her legs wildly as the two Aurors dragged her down the long, lifeless, winding corridors toward her cell.

“LET ME GO!” She screeched again. “I’M NOT A CRIMINAL!”

One of the Auror’s laughed darkly, “If ‘ya not a criminal, what are ‘ya doin’ here?”

“I was wrongly accused and sentenced!” She cried, managing to return her tone to something that resembled some form of sense and stability,

“That’s what they all say…” The other replied tonelessly pushing her head towards the ground so all she could see was the filthy stone floor beneath her.

From that moment onwards, the darkness had enveloped her, blurring her vision and encasing her within her own mind. She could not see where she was going as they placed her within her cell, there would be no escape from this place, this punishment had been designed to ensure that there would never be a chance of her escaping before the proper moment, the moment deemed to have done justice to the life of Ronald Weasley.


The world erupted around her as she sunk to the ground, her knees scraping upon the ground as she slumped to the floor, tearing the already ragged robes she wore at the knee. She gasped, the pain flooding through her now frail and long-tired body as her skin collided roughly against the floor, tearing open as a woman’s frantic scream pierced the air. Hermione’s body shuddered as the woman continued to scream, curling into a small ball she blocked her ears. The madness of the woman screaming would not end until an Auror placed a silencing charm upon her, and that would not happen until the very last moment, where there was nothing left of her voice but a broken and ragged screeching sound which reminded her so shockingly of the sound of nails being run over a coarse blackboard.

There was hardly a moment of silence in this place, the muffled and maddened cries of the prisoners wailed through the night. Women cried desperately for their children, men screamed, throwing themselves against the reinforced metal bars of their cell door screaming to be released. After several days, one became accustomed to their pleas for help, their screams fading into the background of hundreds of voices, like theirs screaming for their release. Others nervously paced the confines of the cell they had been given, scratching away at the walls and marking each day that passed. Others talked to themselves almost constantly, often only silenced by sleep with which a new wave of terror washed over the building, the hauntings of their crimes driving many to avoid sleep altogether. The first night for each prisoner was always the worst, the screams of anguish and the horror of what lay ahead was enough to drive anyone to the brink of insanity.

The sheets were thin and covered in a fine layer of lint which sat atop the thin fabric in a thick covering of small balled up fabric deposits. It scratched uncomfortably against what little exposed skin she had as she tossed and turned attempting to drown out the horrific screams of the woman in the cell opposite her. In the darkness of her cell she sobbed quietly, her chest heaving with the force of the muffled cries escaping her lips. She cried not for another, or for freedom, but for the man she had supposedly had a hand in murdering. She had cried for him that night as she had cried upon returning to their home to find him lying sprawled across the ground in a pool of his own blood. Death had taken him from her, just as his job had before it, and his increasingly unpredictable moods which followed his return from the continuing stresses of being an Auror.

It was hard enough losing him the first time, yet she remained by his side, convinced that he would return to her, but death had taken him for its own. There was no return from this. This was permanent in the rawest sense of the word. There had been talk of reinstating the Dementors to Azkaban, yet for now it was idle gossip. She shuddered violently remembering her few encounters with the creatures, she could barely imagine an Azkaban with Dementors if was this bad without. She heard the near silent footsteps of an Auror passing by her door, stopping for several moments, their ear most likely pressed to the door looking for any sign of remorse. They would never hear an indication of remorse from her, there was nothing for her to feel guilt over, they had not believed her when she pleaded her innocence, and now they had so cruelly taken four years of her life from her with very little evidence, no matter how damning it was. She had been dragged down to the lowest of low, reduced to nothing but the scum on the beneath the feet of the Ministry, for what purpose? To serve as a warning. No death would go unpunished, no crime un-sentenced, and it was clear that the Ministry wished to make this painstakingly obvious to the public through the sentencing of anyone who so much as appeared to cross them.


Hermione spat angrily upon the filthy ground as she crawled onto the small bed with which she had been provided. It seemed in these dark moments, there was no-one to provide comfort for her uneasy mind which wandered beyond the confines of Azkaban and back into the world she so desperately longed for. Never again would she be able to set foot into society without fear of judgment again, the Ministry having dragged her down as low as she could go and from here there would be no escape. Every way she turned she would be watched, judged for her crimes. They would point and whisper her name to one another, hissing the crime which had been so wrongly associated with her once clean name to their children, poisoning their minds against her. Never again would she know peace in the world she had sheltered in all these years, and never again could she find comfort in the Muggle world, deemed a criminal in their eyes also. For the records of criminal behaviour amongst the wizarding population were now shared amongst the two governments. Never again would she know home as she had once known it, there was nothing for her to return to.

Pressing her ear to the cool wall she heard the shuffling of feet in the cell beside hers, their endless pacing before the flickering lamp she could barely see through the wall only just beginning. Soon their strength would dwindle, just as hers had. Azkaban had a habit of ripping the humanity from your body, and it seemed as though the first step in this gradual process, one which rendered many beyond help, begun with the cutting of all strength.

There was no will to fight in any prisoner contained within these cells; all had long lost the strength to fight their fate before she had arrived. Many too, in the process had lost their sanity. It was a bitter and sickening taste in her mouth, the realisation that she would too someday share the same lack of will to go another day locked away, beyond the sight of the outside world. In time, she would be reduced to nothing but a frail body disappearing rapidly beneath ever loosening robes, the shell of a woman tied implicitly to a sentence that was not hers, but that would, nevertheless follow her until the end of her days like a sickening and foul odour that lingered within the air.

Screams pierced what she could only assume to be the night. She rolled over in her bed attempting to cover her ears from the torturous sounds of remorse and regret which seemed to flicker across her skin like lightning as each voice joined in the unending chorus of anguish. However, this time they were joined by another male voice, one which had not once before joined the symphony of regret and sorrow. The man who had been brought into his cell earlier had joined them, already beginning to crack under the pressure he faced attempting to find peace in this un-resting place and the all too familiar realisation that this was to be his punishment for the crime he had committed. It was too late for him, for them both; the isolation designated to them had already begun.


Chapter 2: Gratitude
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Chapter Two: Gratitude





 Draco Malfoy wished he could feel something, anything at all aside from the ever present, overwhelming gratitude to the murderous bastard whose actions alone had practically sentenced him to Azkaban. No words could describe how thankful he was for the last of the man’s noble and chivalrous actions prior to his slip into the corrupt void that had become the British Ministry of Magic’s newly reshuffled Auror department, for they had not only saved him, but they saved the life of the woman who shared the very same, partially separated cell that he would call home for at least, the next sixteen years of his already wasted life.
 
Many had already claimed that he had very little to lose, and that had essentially become true; he had now proven to the entire world that he truly was the man they had always believed him to be, his father’s son. There was nothing redeemable in his character according to the Ministry, and thus the public had come to believe so as well. His fall from grace had been swift, silent and mostly unnoticed, thankfully. The arrogance and smugness that had consumed the young Draco Malfoy’s life was but a distant memory. Now, it was something so much more than smugness which drove him now, a desperate longing, a last hope that he could survive despite the great nothingness which surrounded him.

There was a deafening silence in the ears of Draco Malfoy as he accidentally slammed his head against the hard, cold stone wall behind his head. There was not even enough will left within him to cry out in pain, as though the years had piled upon his back in such a short space of time, and his once drawling voice had all but dried up. The words he wished to speak became nothing but mere thoughts captured within his throat, unable to escape, just as he’d been unable to avoid fate strolling so easily through the front door of the shop from which he’d once operated.

“Get out, Weasley. Aurors aren’t welcome around here.” Draco sneered, not even bothering to look up from the crumpled copy of The Daily Prophet he held in his pale white hands.

“There’s no need to be rude, I’m here to offer you something you need, Malfoy.” 

You wish to hand me something useful, Weasley? Surely this should be the other way around.” Draco replied tersely, finally looking up at the man standing before him, placing the newspaper aside.

“I know you killed the Morans’ last night, I also know exactly how you did it. Clever, it almost looked like an accident.”

“Almost?”

“Muggle poison may be undetectable by most magical methods, Malfoy. But you’d do well to remember that I’m soon to marry a Muggle-born, she’s told me what to look for numerous times, though it’s a small miracle I noticed it.”

“I can’t say I’m surprised, about both really, you were always chasing after that Mudblood and you never really seemed to be able to remember one end of your wand from the other.”

“How dare you!” Ron screamed pressing his wand to Draco’s throat. “One more comment like that and the entire Ministry will descend upon this building in an instant.”

“Is that so?” Draco replied calmly, unphased by this revelation. “Funny, your appearance proved that they already knew I was here.”

“They don’t, I found you alone. You don’t cover your tracks all that well.” He noted.

“Whoever said I never wished to be found?”

Ron dropped Draco allowing him to fall to the ground. Springing back up on the balls of his feet Draco dusted the dirt from his once pristine black robes and once again, tightened the silver dragon clasp that held his cloak firmly around his neck. The statement itself had not been what had caused Ron to drop Draco, no; it had been the implications of what he had said. It was clear he could not help but wonder whether Draco Malfoy actually wished to be found, so much so that he would almost hand himself over to Ron. There was something terribly amiss about the whole situation, and Ronald Weasley was more than aware of this. He raised his wand once again, more a safety precaution than anything else, for who knew what this man, nothing more than a filthy murdering criminal, was capable of.  

“There’s a price out there, they want you dead or alive, though the first I assumed would be your preferred option, you would not wish to be found with what awaits you when the Ministry finally places their hands upon you.”

“It’s hardly of a concern to me, you won’t call them.” Draco deadpanned.

“How can you be sure?”

“You require a service, something the Ministry cannot know of; hence you wouldn’t reveal the location of a known criminal when you yourself have now been affiliated with. What do you want, Weasley? Someone tracked? Murder? Amputation? I’ll do it all...”

“For less than the cost of the Daily Prophet,” Ron finished. “This perhaps is a little less conventional than your normal services.”

“What do you require?”

“I need you to follow and protect Hermione.”

If he’d stopped think for a moment to what he was agreeing to, his better judgment might have guided him away from this task. For in the shallow mind of Draco Malfoy, all he could think was, what harm could such a simple task amount to? How wrong he’d been, had he known the true danger the stupid Mudblood faced he would not have even considered Weasley’s offer. For it was that offer that had ultimately led him to Azkaban, where he was sentenced to rot for at the very least the next sixteen years of his life for a crime he had been forced to commit. Had he not agreed to this, he would not be wallowing the darkness, left to ponder how he had been convicted for a crime the man had brought upon himself. If only the Ministry remembered, if only they could still recall why exactly the seemingly innocent Draco Malfoy the Ministry imagined had murdered an Auror one evening for no real reason at all, aided by the man’s fiancé.

His hand was intertwined with that of the blood traitor, Ronald Weasley. It was not the most pleasant of situations; however an Unbreakable Vow often required contact with some rather unusual and unexpected guests within his small shop in Muggle London. He’d thought it a stroke of pure genius, opening himself up for business in an abandoned police station, for who would think to look there of all places, yet it had its limitations. It was his home and his refuge in times of trouble, and it seemed more often than usual he found himself in the small store he’d set up where the transactions he’d built his life upon took place and it was not the sort of place he’d ever imagined himself calling home. It was the one constant in his life; he could hardly call Malfoy Manor home any longer the building was now his only shelter from a world which sought to hunt and destroy what little was left of his fragmented and destroyed life.

His mother would roll in her grave at the mere thought of what he was about to commit to, but it was not the money he was after. Which of course, as far as a Weasley went, was rather generous, but instead, it was the full pardon he offered, for each and every single one of the crimes that he’d committed in the past. His records wiped entirely and the minds of those who knew differently wiped entirely of any memory of his whereabouts and actions over the past seven years. It was the lifeline that no-one would have dared to even entertain the thought of strolling in the front door of the store. It was the first lifeline he’d been offered in years and he was in no position not to take it. This was his last chance at making amends for the life he’d created for himself, and he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to take it.

The task of course was simple enough, although if Weasley had been bold enough to request it of him he doubted it was as simple as it sounded. Perhaps much of the actual task itself had been omitted for the ease of the transaction, but the essentials themselves were nothing but his average work, only the opposite way around. He’d always prided himself in the careful planning he placed into his work, it was after all the only joy he had in his life. He’d never pictured himself as being obsessed with perfection, although it came swiftly following the first murder. It had been messy, unplanned and too quickly thought through to even be considered something more than an accident. He soon learned that there were tracks that needed to be covered, underground wandmakers that needed to be sought after in order to remove the risk of the spells used being traced back to his on wand.

It seemed, initially there was much about murder that Draco Malfoy had all but failed to consider. He’d only just managed to complete the task the Dark Lord had handed to him during his sixth year, but in doing so it had almost killed him. It had killed most of him in fact, there was nothing of the Draco Malfoy many had known during their school years left, he was left in the broken shell of a man. The war had absorbed what was left of his already fragile spirit and left him with only the fragmented pieces of a life he hated without the means to rebuild it.  

“I, Ronald Weasley, do hereby swear to the terms of our agreement in which you, Draco Malfoy have sworn to do whatever necessary to protect the life of Hermione Jean Granger, no matter the cost.”

“I, Draco Malfoy, do hereby swear to the terms and conditions of this agreement as already stated by Ronald Weasley, and agree to protect the life of Hermione Jean Granger, even at risk to my own life.”

With those final words; the final silvery rope wrapped around their entwined arms and their fate was forever sealed.


 It seemed, there was much that could have saved them both from their fates, but neither of them was smart enough to realise it at the time. There was so much that either could have done in order to avoid placing themselves in the situations that would bring about the death of one and the imprisonment of the other. They were ultimately victims of their own poor decisions and their inability to realise that the other was practically dragging them into a situation worse than the other could have ever predicted. Ronald Weasley handed the safety of the woman he loved to Draco Malfoy, a known criminal and murderer. Draco Malfoy vowed to save the life of Hermione Granger, the fiancé of a known Auror, wagering his own life in the process. Neither man stopped at the time to consider the consequences of the deal they were making, but if they had, they may have reconsidered the price each would have to pay.

Now sitting in the corner of his cell, Draco could not help but wonder about the woman who lay only a short distance away from him. He knew her to be innocent, but the world believed her to be guilty, and now they found themselves in a situation that would most likely not change for quite some time. He stood his legs unsteady beneath him as he stumbled across to broken wall which separated their cells. Running his hand along it he realised that time had been its downfall, left to rot away silently giving each a slight view of the other if only there were a little light. He had heard her crying, yet had said nothing. She knew he was a monster, she knew the truth, though perhaps the most important truth of all, that her imprisonment was his fault; a mixture of his own clumsiness and emotions which had clouded his judgement. While he knew himself to be guilty, there was a separate form of guilt bubbling away slowly within him, threatening to boil over, perhaps the worst of all: He was glad she was here, grateful that he would not be spending his entire sentence alone, and that, was the crime he believed himself to be most guilty of.


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