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A/N: We're nearly done peoples!! Hope you like this chapter and I hope it all flows smoothly. As I have said before, I don't think action is my thing...but i had fun writing this. anyways, here it is!



The cold was never ending, the chill incesent in its assault on her body. Shivering, Hermione clutched at her shirt, pulling the thin fabric closer to her freezing body. Her tears fell frozen on her cheeks, the warm salt water crystallizing instantly in the icy air. A sob escaped her battered body and she pressed herself closer to the wall, the cold stone biting into her back. The door to her tiny roofless cell opened, and Hermione lifted her face to the darkening sky, her body trembling. She had only been there a few hours, and she was not sure how much more of their treatment she could take.

The tip of a wand preceeded its owner through the open door, and Hermione shrank back with a small whine of fear as Blaise Zabini stepped fully into the room, his face and head hidden by his cloak, the long black folds of fabric shifting around his legs as he walked. He smiled at her, a flash of teeth in the shadows of his face, and she closed her eyes, a tear sliding from beneath her lids. Zabini chuckled softly, and closed the door.

“What do you want with me?” Hermione asked in whispered tones, her voice choked with fear. They had taken her wand, they had beaten her, threatened her, and cursed her over and over again. There was not much more they could do, save taking her life. She pressed her eyes closed tighter, and preyed for the others to hurry. She knew the Order had captured Pansy – she’d heard the Death Eaters raging about it a few hours ago, not long after she had been brought to her cold little prision.

Hermione opened her eyes as the sound of movement alerted her, and she braced herself for the blow. None came. Blaise had drawn up a chair with his wand and sat staring at her, his eyes moving over every inch of her body, slowly and deliberately, as if he were trying to commit her features to memory.

“I think I am beginning to understand what Malfoy turned his back on us for,” he leered, and Hermione shivered at the hungry look in his eyes. “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to screw a Mudblood,” he mused, and Hermione felt the blood leave her face.

“Don’t touch me,” she hissed, pulling her shirt even closer around her freezing body. Blaise threw back his head and laughed.

“That courageous spirit will just make breaking you all the more enjoyable,” he said softly. “Tell me, where is the Order of the Phoenix? Where is Harry Potter and your blood traitor boyfriend?”

“I don’t know,” Hermione spat, closing her eyes. Draco. Was he even still alive, or had Pansy killed him before the Order took her? How soon after the fight had they arrived? She screamed inwardly, knowing how much they would be worried about her, preying they did not do something rash in their determination to find her.

Zabini sighed. “I’m getting impatient, Granger, so why don’t you just tell me the truth.”

“I can’t tell you. I’m not their secret keeper,” she said coldly, wishing they had not taken her wand. She would murder the lot of them if they had killed Draco. Blaise stood up and approached her, his wand held high, and Hermione took a deep breath, knowing it would do nothing to stop the pain. He smiled and flicked his wand, a malicious “crucio” escaping his lips.

Hermione screamed, the sound echoing in her own ears repeatedly until she felt she had lost her mind. She curled her body into a ball, pain rippling through her in waves, her head feeling like it was being crushed in a vice. Every muscle, every bone and blood vessel in her body was on fire. A sea of blackness descended on her, and just when she felt like it would be best to give in to the unending pain, it stopped, and she was left panting and gasping for air on the cold stone floor, tears streaming down her face. She whimpered and pulled her knees closer to her chest, hugging herself. Her head sung and her body screeched in protest to her every move. Even breathing was painful.

Fingers caressed her cheek, and her eyes flew open. Blaise was leaning over her, his wand held high, vicious pleasure dancing in his eyes. “Just tell me, Hermione,” he whispered, stroking her hair so that she shied away from his touch. He grabbed a handful of her hair and hauled her to her feet suddenly, and she screamed as she felt hair being ripped from her scalp. Blaise pushed his face into hers and she could feel his breath on her cheek. Screwing her face up in disgust, Hermione turned her head as far out of his reach as she could, feeling like she would vomit. He laughed and released her, and she fell to the floor in a shuddering heap, crying. Hermione heard Draco’s name leave her lips, and Blaise laughed harder, mocking her.

“Oh he can’t help you now, my beauty,” he sneered, raising his wand, before casting the Cruciatus Curse on her again. Hermione succumbed to the blackness of unconsciousness with her screams in her ears.


***

Draco stood with his head resting against the wall, his eyes fixed firmly on the crushed figure in front of him. She sat with her back against the wall, her head turned away from him, her knees pulled up to her chest. Long dark hair fell across her brow, and her pale skin shone brightly in the shadowed cell. Draco let his eyes move around the small room – it was clean, the walls and floor scrubbed harshly, the mattress and pillow on the narrow trundle bed soft and fluffy, the blanket thick and warm. He suppressed a snort of irritation. Potter’s cell’s were more comfortable than some of the rooms he’d stayed in while traveling overseas. Draco shifted his weight from one foot to the other, the heel of his boot scraping over the floor, the sound echoing in the tense silence. Pansy turned her head, glancing at him quickly, before moving her body further away from him. Draco sighed wearily, opening his mouth to snap at her, annoyed at her silence.

The main door opened, and Draco twisted his neck, his eyes narrowing as Harry stepped into the hallway, closing the door quietly behind him. Draco watched the brunette walk the several metres towards him, passing a row of empty cells. Pansy was the Order’s only prisoner, and he had to admit that he was pleased she was being treated so well. There had been no more interrogations, no threats; nothing that would cause her any harm. She was warm and well-fed. Harry carried a tray in his hands, and Draco breathed in the intoxicating scent of fresh bread and soup. His stomach rumbled, and he realized with a start he had not eaten since before Hermione disappeared. As Harry came closer, nausea replaced appetite and he scowled, reaching out to take the tray from Harry, who simply raised his eyebrows.

“What are you doing down here, Malfoy?”

Draco shrugged. “I’m not entirely sure. I guess I just wanted to talk to her, to try and get her to explain why she did it…why she became one of them. It was never Pansy’s thing. Sure, she was a bitch at school, but she was never malicious and directly cruel. That was more my thing,” he replied, giving a soft, hollow laugh. Harry smiled sympathetically, his arms rising to fold over his chest. He indicated Pansy with a nod of his head.

“You really want to talk to her? Just promise me you won’t hurt her and I’ll let you in. You can give her that,” Harry said softly, motioning towards the tray. Draco nodded, and Harry took out his wand, moving to unlock the cell door.

“How did you catch her anyway?” Draco asked suddenly, and Harry turned to look at him sharply, before sighing.

“I’m not sure,” he began, scowling under Draco’s amused glance. “It was all easy – too easy. It was almost like she wanted to be caught.”

“What do you mean?” Draco asked softly, his eyes floating to the back of Pansy’s head. He could sense that she was listening to them; her back was rigid and her shoulders straight, the silence surrounding her body morphed into interest instead of animosity.

Harry turned to look at Pansy briefly, his eyes swinging back to Draco. “Angelina and Fred intercepted her. She was alone, not far from Hermione’s place. She had obviously taken Hermione to Zabini, and come back. I have no idea why,” he said, his voice rising. Draco knew what he was doing – trying to goad Pansy into speaking. When she did not reply, Harry shrugged, continuing his story. “She was easily apprehended. Did not put up any sort of fight. She may as well have turned her wand over willingly.”

Draco stood in silence as Harry unlocked the cell, pushing the door open. Draco took a deep breath, sliding cautiously into the room, the tray of food balanced in his hands. He set it down on a small table against the wall, taking a seat in a hard, straight-backed chair opposite the prisoner, never taking his eyes from her. Harry swung the door closed, and Draco waited until the other man’s footsteps had receeded down the hall before he spoke.

“Why Pansy? Why did you do it? Why turn yourself in like that? Why join Zabini in the first place?”

Pansy lifted her head, her eyes finding his face, and Draco swallowed, amazed at the depth of pain in the lines of her face. “He threatened to kill me if I refused to help,” she whispered, slowly swinging her body around so she was sitting facing Draco, her knees still tucked up, her head resting on her chin. Her long raven hair fell around her face messily, but she did not seem to care. “We have a daughter, you know,” she said suddenly, and Draco felt his eyes widen. “Blaise and I. She’s eighteen months old.”

“Where is she?” Draco asked gently. Pansy’s eyes filled with tears.

“With my family, in hiding. I didn’t want him anywhere near her, and he agreed to stay away as long as I did what he wanted. What choice did I have, Draco?” she asked softly, although he knew she did not expect him to answer her question. He nodded slowly in understanding, feeling his heart break for Pansy.

“Why give yourself up though? You could have disappeared and found your kid,” Draco said, sitting forward slightly. Pansy shrugged.
“I knew that once the Order was involved, I would be safer as a prisoner than a Death Eater. Potter won’t kill me, but Blaise would have,” she replied simply, closing her eyes.

“What are they going to do to her?” Draco asked, and Pansy looked at him quickly, understanding he was talking about Hermione.

“You should know, Draco. Why bother asking me that,” she said quietly, a faint trace of sympathy in her voice. “You really do love her?”

“I do,” Draco whispered, a lump rising to sit painfully in his throat. Pansy nodded, a slight smile on her lips.

“Then I hope you get her back,” she replied.

Draco sighed, pulling his fingers through his hair. “Me too, although, we all know how much of an expert Potter is at this rescue stuff…I’ll see what I can do for you, Pansy. I can tell Potter is not one to keep prisoners of war for long. If you can convince him you acted out of fear, then perhaps he will let you go. I can’t promise you anything though, but I will try.”

Pansy nodded. “Thank you.”


***

Draco danced on the spot, his nerves twitching. If they’d hurt her … He cursed Zabini and the whole useless lot of them under his breath, his thoughts fixed on death. Someone was tugging on his sleeve, and he spun around and looked into Harry’s eyes.

“We go in nice and easy, Malfoy,” he reminded Draco, who scowled and felt like a thunderstorm was about to erupt in his skull. He took a deep breath, trying to calm the rage in his blood. Harry knew what he was doing. Draco was lucky they’d let him come along at all. After his interrogation of Pansy, Ron had been all for leaving him at Headquarters, afraid his temper would get them all killed. Harry had said they better bring him, before his temper got them killed. Besides, Draco knew how much both men wanted to find Hermione, not to mention the other members of the Order crowded in the shadows behind him. His face was not the only one contorted with fury.

“Nice and easy, slow and smooth, cautiously … ahh screw it, Potter. I’m going to slaughter them!” he raged, pulling out his wand and striding towards the warehouse they were stationed outside, Hermione’s face in his thoughts. Ron and George grabbed him, pulling him roughly back into the shadows, George hissing angrily in his ear to do what they told him, or he’d be Stunned, tied up and left behind for the Death Eaters to find. Draco glowered at them, but fell back, his arms folded over his chest, his hands balled into fists. Everyone gave him a wide berth after his outburst, keen to stay away from his temper, and he was secretly pleased. Let the Order do what they wanted – once they got inside he was going to find Hermione, and anyone who stood in his way would get a one way ticket to hell, Unbreakable Vow be damned.

They waited until night had truly fallen, blackness engulfing the world around them in deep shadow, before making their way carefully towards the warehouse. A chilly breeze blew about their faces, rising from the river and tugging at their hair. Draco scowled. He hated everything with a dangerous passion at that moment. As they approached what they believed to be the main entrance, Harry signaled for them to split up and find different points of entry, not only for themselves, but to prevent any Death Eaters escaping in the middle of fighting. Fred, George and Lee silently cast an anti-disapparation jinx on as much of the building as they could cover without alerting the Death Eaters inside. Neville, Seamus and Ernie headed around the left side of the run-down building; Fred, George and Lee took the right. Draco made to follow Neville, but Harry tugged him back.

“You stay with me, Malfoy,” he whispered sternly, and Draco shrugged.

“Whatever. Let’s just get on with it,” he snarled back, glaring at Ron. The redhead had made no secret of the fact he thought Hermione’s capture was Draco’s fault. Twice already, they had almost come to blows over it, pulled apart by Seamus and Neville, snarling like a pair of warring tomcats. Ron glared back, his face twisted and Draco rasied his eyebrows, as if daring Weasley to do something with his hate. Harry wrapped his hand around Draco’s forearm, and he winced.

“Sorry, Malfoy, I forgot,” Harry said simply, gesturing pointedly at Draco’s pale arm. He had rolled his sleeves up as if preparing for a fistfight, and the Dark Mark stood out strongly against his pale skin in the dusty moonlight reflecting off the river. Draco shrugged, not really bothered. It still hurt, but he would think about it later. All his energy was on finding Hermione alive and in one piece. Harry marched up to the front door, pushing gently on the rusted metal. The door swung inwards slowly, a faint hiss echoing in the darkness around them. Draco sucked in his breath and stepped aside, his wand raised, ready for anything.

Cool air rushed out to meet them, and Draco let out his breath slowly, his body tense and on fire. Hermione was in there. He could practically sense it. With a low growl, he pushed past Harry and stepped inside the building, immediately surrounded in blackness. He blinked, waiting for his eyes to adjust, his wand held steady, his blood screaming, his muscles aching with the effort of restraining himself from tearing through the building like a madman. He felt Harry and Ron come up behind him.

“We split up,” Draco whispered, alarmed at how far his low voice carried in the empty room. Harry shook his head, a furious look on his face. Draco rolled his eyes. “Fine. You and Weaselbee go that way,” he gestured to the right, “and I’ll go this way.”

Without waiting for a response, Draco walked off into the darkness, ignoring Harry’s angry plea to come back. Bloody Potter, Draco thought contemptuously, frustrated with the dark-haired man he had come to consider a friend. He knew how much Harry cared about Hermione, and he had been trying extremely hard to toe the line, to do things Potter’s way, but when it came down to it, Draco preferred to operate alone. It was, after all, the Slytherin way. Towards the corner of the large room they had entered, soft light glowed from beneath a closed door. Expelling a great breath of air, Draco closed his eyes for a moment, concentrating, forcing his brain to remember every curse, every jinx and every hex he had ever learnt. They would not hesitate to hit him with everything they had.

Moving swiftly, Draco approached the door. He had no idea where Harry and Ron had gone, or where any of the others were, but at that moment he didn’t care. Something told him that through that door he would find Hermione. Pausing only briefly to make sure he had a firm grip on his wand, Draco squashed the butterflies in his stomach and pushed open the door. Inside was a sitting room of some sort, but it was empty. Relief flooded his veins and he glanced around quickly, making sure to stay alert. A set of rusty stairs snaked along the far wall, disappearing into the darkness. Draco squinted, noticing the door at the top of the stairs was closed.

Not wanting to linger, he ran lightly across the room and took the stairs two at a time, staying on tip-toe as much as possible, trying to muffle the sound of his footfall on the shaky metal steps. A voice raised in anger floated through the closed door, followed by a crash and a scream, and he grinned, thinking the Order were finally doing something useful. Draco flung the door open, ducking immediately as a bolt of red light flew over his head, shooting away into the dimly lit room below him. Neville and Seamus were dueling with three Death Eaters in the far corner of the room, Neville’s wand moving so fast it blurred. Seamus fell, hit by a Stunner, and Draco lifted his own wand, firing a Stunning spell across the room at the Death Eater about to take down Neville. Neville quickly disposed of the smaller of the two remaining Death Eaters, and the other one made a run for a second set of stairs reaching further into the heights of the building.

The door at the top of the stairs flew open, and the Death Eater fell under a barrage of spells from the Weasley twins. They grinned at the scene below them, giving Draco and Neville a quick nod, before disappearing again into the darkness behind them. Draco could hear more shouts and see a colorful display of lights bouncing off the walls of the room above them. He left Neville with Seasmus, and ran to join the others, his heart pounding with an exhilarating rhythm in his chest. He had not felt so alive since, well, as long as he could remember. This fighting the bad guys stuff is actually not too bad, he mused thoughfully as he ran through the open door. A burst of light flashed past his face, cutting his cheek deeply, and Draco swore loudly, looking around for his attacker.

George Weasley was sitting on top of a Death Eater while Lee bound his hands with Muggle rope charmed with anti-disapparation spells, something Harry insisted they carry on them. Draco had tossed his away outside. Fred grinned from across the room, his wand raised to shoulder height.

“Sorry, Malfoy, thought you were a Death Eater,” he laughed, lowering his wand and crossing the room. Draco scowled and rubbed at his cheek, his hand coming away red and dripping with blood.

“Hermione?” he asked, and Fred shook his head, a dark expression crossing his usually pleasant face.

“No idea mate. We haven’t seen head nor tail of Zabini either, the great bit git. Never did like him much, did we, George?” he asked his brother, who nodded. “Want me to fix your face, Malfoy?”

“Ummm no, thanks, Weasley,” Draco muttered, rubbing at his cheek again. “Is there another level to this warehouse?”

Lee nodded, jumping to his feet. “Yeah. They’ve blocked the door though; we couldn’t get through. I think there may be a basement level too.”

“Okay,” Draco sighed, fingering his chin thoughtfully. “I’m going to go up a level, see if I can get through this door. You guys go down. Hermione has to be in here somewhere.”

“One of us should go with you,” Fred argued, coming over to stand with his brother. “Just in case. We have no idea how many more of them there are.”

“I’m sure I’ll find Potter and Weasley up there somewhere; if there’s trouble, those two are bound to be right in the middle of it,” Draco replied, heading towards the next set of stairs. Draco heard a door open and close, and when he turned around, he was alone, save the bound and stunned Death Eater on the floor. He turned and rested his hand against the cold metal railing, trepidation tightening his stomach. Draco took a deep breath, gripped his wand, and climbed the stairs.



Well, what did you think?? please remember, if you read, review!!
Maji xx

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