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We're creatures of the underworld. We can't afford to love.

Hermione jumped back in shock, into the arms of Draco Malfoy. Under the circumstances, she felt these were much safer than what was around her.

"Miss Granger?" A voice drawled from underneath one of the black cloaks. She didn't know how Draco knew who was who, they were all wearing the same cloak and the hoods fell over their faces.

Draco's arms tightened around her as he replied, "Yes. Where's the Dark Lord?"

"He's not coming." Another voice drawled from under a hood behind her.

"What?!" Draco asked in shock, or maybe it was indignation.

"He is unable to make it this evening." A voice from Hermione's left said. She noticed that Draco was shaking, in anger or fear, she wasn't sure, but a figure had just stepped forward towards them.

Thank Merlin Voldemort is not here . . . he would have seen my thoughts . . . he would have known . . .

"Our master is predisposed, it seems that oaf that runs the wizarding school is causing problems."

Note to self: hug Dumbledore . . . and buy him socks .. nice thick . . . wool.. no silk... silk socks....

The figure than threw back their cloak to reveal shimmering blonde hair. "Move aside Draco." Lucius drawled at his son.

Draco frowned at his father and stepped backwards, leaving Hermione to stand timidly on her own in the center of the dark room.

"This . . . inauguration. . . will begin with an initiation of sorts. Are you prepared Hermione Granger?"

"Y-yes" Hermione stuttered out, completely confused about what was happening. Malfoy had never mentioned an initiation. Her thoughts were interrupted by a cold voice.

"Cruicio!"

Then the most blinding pain she had felt in her entire life engulfed her as if it were a living flame. She collapsed on her knees and wrapped her arms around her abdomen, but could not keep from crying out.

This pain was unreal, parts of her body hurt that she didn't know existed. Tears formed at her eyes and poured down her cheeks. When would it end . . .

When the spell was lifted she sat on the ground panting. She groaned in pain because the discomfort did not lift immediately.

She hadn't seen Draco's eyes flash at his father . . .

Draco came to her side and helped her to her feet, slowly. She used his legs and arms as braces and pulled herself up. Shakily, she pushed her hair out of her eyes, and then pushed her shoulders back and her chin high, trying to regain some sort of dignity.

"Good." The cold voice of Lucius Malfoy reached her ears. "Come here now." She felt Draco's hold on her arm tighten slightly as she began to walk away, and then he let go completely. She walked to him, crossing the whole room and feeling the eyes of so many followers of the dark lord on her. She felt outrageously outnumbered.

When she reached Lucius, he grabbed her arm rather roughly and rolled her sleeve up. "This may hurt." He sneered. Hermione watched in fascination as he pointed his wand at her upper arm and muttered some words that she couldn't identify. A snake slowly slithered from his wand tip and landed on her arm. It circled and she watched it curiously.

But, when it sank it's fangs into her arm she shrieked in shock. Once it's fangs were deep it tightened it's grip and sank into her skin. Disappearing. She clawed at her arm, but the snake had simply disappeared, leaving a black mark in the shape of a skull. She watched in horror as the mark then formed a snake through the mouth as if it were a tongue.

She fought the bile rising in her throat.

"Very good. Leave." And just like that they were dismissed.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Draco waited until they had exited the alleyway to approach Hermione and as he did, she fainted. He rushed towards her and caught her before she could hit the ground, and almost as quickly she woke back up.

"Why am I on the ground .. in your arms . . " She looked around and then it must have come back to her because she covered her face with her hands.

"I'm sorry Hermione." Draco said as he got up and walked away, leaving a perplexed Hermione in his wake.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The next morning, Hermione woke up in her new bed, plagued still by the dreams that had haunted her all night. Today was not going to be easy. This part was harder to play than she thought it would be. She slowly rose from bed and dressed herself in her new green and silver robes and then made her way down to the common room.

Draco was waiting for her by the fireplace. He said nothing about the events of the previous night, only started out the door and headed towards the Great Hall for breakfast. Hermione, unknowing of the way, quickly scurried after him, absent mindedly running her hand over the mark on her arm underneath her robes.

Draco stopped in front of the large doors and waited for her. Without saying anything he took her hand and then continued through the doors. She took a deep breath and prayed no one would notice, but they were considerably late and luck hadn't been on her side for a while now.

She wouldn't say that the hall went silent and all eyes cast at her, but the Gryffindor table did. And the ones she felt burn the most were the ones that she loved the most. She held her head high and followed Draco to his normal spot at his table, where he knocked Crabbe off the seat next to him and she sat in his stead.

"They're staring at you." Draco said as he leaned over to whisper in her ear. "Is it because you look so much better in the colors green and silver?"

Repulsion . . . grossed out ... get away from me you animal . . .

She lifted her eyes and gazed at her old table. She was affronted by many cold stares and many turned backs, but her eyes were drawn almost instinctively to Harry's.

She felt an arm go around her and looked over her shoulder. Draco had pulled her to him as if it was second nature and continued talking to the person on his right.

This action was met with many more stares and she had to cast her eyes down at her plate. Dumbledore than stood and announced that due to recent events, Hermione Granger had been resorted into Slytherin.

Harry stood from his table, and ignoring the protesting of his house-mates, stormed out of the Great Hall, followed by Ron who gave Hermione a look of pure venom that tore at her heart.

Had they condemned her so quickly? Did anyone doubt what they heard? They had all abandoned her to fate. Why didn't anyone question it instead of condemning her? As she thought this Draco's hold on her waist became tighter.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Harry!" Ron called out as he chased his friend down. "Harry wait up!"

Harry didn't stop. A pack of DeathEater's could not have stopped him. His heart was somewhere back in the Great Hall. The turmoil, the pain, that had raged through him when he had seen her enter with Malfoy. . . He never could have prepared himself for that, and she acted as if it was so natural! As if she wasn't even considering having second thoughts. . .

It obviously wasn't tearing her up, so why was it tearing him up so much?

"Mate." Ron huffed out of breath, when he finally reached Harry. "She's a two timing tramp. She's traded sides. Forget about her. We were deceived for many years . . . this is who she really is."

Harry's body gave out underneath him and he slid down the wall.

"Harry!" He vaguely heard Ron call out, then all went black.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* When Harry woke up in the hospital wing he wouldn't speak to anyone. If someone came near him he turned his face away. Madame Pomfrey said she had no idea what was wrong with him, he was in perfect health. But Ron knew. Ron knew it was his heart. His heart was giving out on him. He was emotionally drained and no potion could heal him. When Dumbledore walked into the ward later that night to tell him that it was time, Harry rose like a robot. He didn't care. Dumbledore explained that Professor McGonagall had been kidnapped by the deatheaters as a blatant call for Harry to expose himself. It was time. Time to fight. **~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* "Hermione!" Draco came ripping into the dormitory out of breath. He grabbed the surprised girl by the arm and dragged her out of the school. "Where are we going Ma-Draco" She said, catching herself mid word. "It's time. The war has begun. The Dark Lord kidnapped Professor McGonagall." Hermione gasped in shock. "Is she alright?!" Draco didn't answer and Hermione demanded, "Is she alright Draco?!" "She's dead Granger." He said without looking at her. "No." Hermione whispered in disbelief. "What was that?" Draco asked. "Nothing." She answered back. "Where are we going?" "There's a portkey waiting for us, it will take us to the battle ground. The Order cornered the deatheaters in a forest somewhere." She took hold of the portkey, while noticing that there were others there from Slytherin, even a Hufflepuff and two Ravenclaws. She noticed Draco's arm holding her tight, and the next thing she knew they were in the middle of a forest. She was lost in the rage of battle instantly. People fell all around her. Spells shot haphazardly in every direction. She saw the faces, bloodied and disfigured, of people she knew. She did the one thing that came to her mind. She ran.

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