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Chapter Ten

The victorious gleam in Draco’s eye faded the moment he entered Potter’s dilapidated cottage. It was clearly uninhabited at this point. He let himself inside and was repulsed by the state of the place; couches were worn down and broken, dirty plates were left out, and in a stint of morbid curiosity Draco opened the fridge, only to cringe back in disgust at the mouldy food inside.

He scoured the tiny house, looking for any hint or sign of where Hermione could have been taken, but found nothing. He was standing in the bedroom when his eyes landed on the glinting form of a ring.

The Potter family ring, to be exact.

Draco approached it slowly, his heart beating much faster in his chest than it had been mere moments before, and eyed it suspiciously. Deciding not to take any chances he went into the bathroom in search of a wash cloth or hand towel, but the state of both were disgusting enough for him to back away slowly. He saw a semi-clean roll of toilet paper on the counter and decided that was probably his best bet. He unravelled a bunch, wrapping it around his hand multiple times before approaching the ring. He picked it up carefully, trying not to touch it with any exposed skin. He didn’t think that it would affect him, but he wasn’t taking any chances after remembering Dumbledore’s hand in their sixth year of school.

He managed to pick up the ring with only toilet paper and he transferred it to his pocket, planning to destroy it the moment he got back to Hermione’s flat. He continued looking around Potter’s house for anything that could be a clue.

Anything at all.

There was nothing. There were no helpful documents in this abysmal house that would be of any use, so instead of spending anymore of his time in the probably disease infested area, he apparated away to deal with the ring.

/////

Hermione opened her eyes and let out a slight whimper, terrified beyond belief when she realized that she was being held in chains in a room that was pitch black. She had a moment of relief where she realized that she was clothed, but other than that she felt that every other aspect of her horrendous dreams were about to come true.

“Hermione,” she heard a low voice mumble, and jumped, her chains clanking on the stone wall behind her. “It’s about time you opened your pretty little eyes.”

The room flooded with light, and Hermione could see lanterns placed at strategic intervals all around the cell she was currently in.

“Let me go, Harry,” Hermione said in a commanding tone, “You don’t need anything from me, I have no information for you. It’s time for you to let me go, Harry.”

Hermione was desperately trying to take control and not allow Harry to know how frightened she was. She immediately regretted the tiny whimper she let escape when she opened her eyes, not knowing that Harry was standing off to her right, but she was trying to negate that now with her powerful tone.

“I don’t think I will,” he said, and Hermione watched him check his fingernails for dirt in a very ostentatious manner, almost as though he didn’t have a care in the world. At this point he seemed less crazy and more sociopathic, and she wasn’t sure what to think about the change in his demeanor.

“Draco will search for me, Harry.”

That seemed to be the wrong thing to say as Harry was immediately agitated, his collected demeanor dropping quickly to be replaced with rage.

“He won’t find you,” Harry said through a clenched jaw, “He will never find you Hermione, and you’re mine now.”

“I’m not yours,” Hermione said quietly, watching her old friend with barely suppressed fear.

Harry made the very sudden conclusion that Hermione would have to be completely broken before she would realize what he had known all belong: she was, ultimately, Harry Potter’s girl. She needed him almost as much as he needed her, because if he didn’t get to have her, he would kill her.

She just didn’t know that yet and he honestly really would prefer to not kill her; he had been having too many fantasies for too many years about the witch in front of him. He was determined to re-enact a few of them in case it came to the point where she had to be terminated.

But he wanted to fuck with her a little bit beforehand, almost the way a cat would to a mouse before going in for the kill.

“We’re going to play a little game, Hermione,” Harry said in a sinister way, standing before the girl with his wand held tightly in his hand, a look of concentration on his face.

Hermione shivered, the little hairs on her body calling to attention from the sound of his voice.

“I learned a neat little spell a few months ago.”

He wanted her to ask what it was, she just knew it, but she kept her mouth shut and glared at him. She wasn’t going to give in to his psychosis that easily.

Not happening.

“Fine,” he bit out harshly, his palm itching to slap the defiant look off of her face, “If you want to make this harder than it has to be, so be it!”

Hermione’s chin lifted with pride almost fractionally, very reminiscent of Draco Malfoy and Harry had to smother a growl.

In one swift movement he lifted his wand and pointed it directly at her face, “Pessimum somnum exterreri solebat” he grated out, and Hermione went limp against the chains holding her as a pale green light shot into her, her face a mask of fear even though she seemed to be unconscious for a fleeting moment.

/////

Draco was tired.

Not only physically, but mentally too.

He had been searching and pushing himself and his resources to the limit for two days, and with no sleep and barely any food he was hitting a mental wall. He was to meet with Pansy the next day for information, but she had already told him in her snippy response to his owl that she had no information he wanted.

He wanted to meet her anyway. She might know something that she wasn’t even aware of and he would try to get it out of her.

Draco burst into the Ministry frantically, mere moments after he had destroyed Harry’s Horcrux in Hermione’s living room. He stabbed the ring with the sword that was in his briefcase, ignoring the shockingly scary image of Harry that bloomed from the inside, assuring Draco that it was he Hermione loved and not the blond man.

He was in the middle of shouting at an Auror, and probably making no sense, when Molly and Arthur Weasley shoved their way into the room, Ron in tow.

Draco stopped his tirade immediately and took in the sobbing figure of Molly, confused. Had they heard about Hermione somehow, already?

“Why haven’t you found her yet?!” Molly screamed at the man behind the desk, and Draco was at a loss. How would they have found Hermione already when he was just reporting it now?

“I assure you, Mrs. Weasley, that we have been looking non-stop, but with the little information you have given us it will take some time to track her down.”

“I just want my baby back,” she said, succumbing to a fresh bout of tears. Her husband and youngest son patted her arm and back accordingly.

Draco turned his back on the family and continued barking at the man, screaming about how he wanted every available Auror on the case, searching for his beloved and the psychotic man known as Harry Potter.

“Hermione is missing?” Ron asked, stepping away from his family and closer to Draco, who cut off his yells and nodded to the red head.

“Ginny is as well. Actually, no one has seen her since her meeting with you.”

“With me?! That was days ago.”

“I know.”

Draco was speechless, he stared at the red haired family for a moment before realizing that he and Hermione had encountered Harry that evening.

“Oh, Merlin.”

“What?”

“Do you know anything at all?”

Ron’s parents were watching their exchange now, and Arthur shook his head, “As far as we can tell, she just vanished.”

“I think I have a pretty good idea where she is.”

He looked up into the hopeful eyes of the girl’s parents and felt his stomach clench, he didn’t think it was good news.

“I think she’s in the exact same place as Hermione. With Harry.”

Ron paled considerably and in unison he and Draco turned back to the Auror, determined to get Harry Potter found, which wasn’t going to be an easy task since no one really knew much about him, anymore.

Draco extracted himself from the Weasley’s and made his way to the Daily Prophet, where he bullied his way in to get a meeting with the editor. After fifteen minutes he was sitting in an office with the balding man and a fat reporter, who was taking notes in shorthand, never taking his beady eyes off of Draco.

They ensured Draco, after some gold changed fists, that they would have an article about the disappearances of both Hermione Granger and Ginny Weasley in the morning, afternoon, and evening editions of the Prophet by the next day. The article would also contain the news that Harry Potter had definitely abducted Hermione and was only suspected in the disappearance of Ginny, and Draco put out a fifty thousand galleon reward for information on Harry Potter’s whereabouts, as long as it resulted in finding either female.

Hermione was obviously his top priority, though, but he knew that she would want Ginny found as well.

Even though Draco was pretty sure that the witches were together, out there somewhere, probably being starved and tortured.

That mental image did nothing to make the tightness of his chest fade.

Draco sat alone in the kitchen nook of his manor, trying to force himself to eat some soup that his house elves had made. He was sure it tasted good, but to him it tasted like nothing. He rubbed his hands down his face and sighed loudly; he really didn’t want to be sitting alone doing nothing when his girlfriend had been abducted by a deranged psychopath, but he wasn’t sure what else he could do at the moment.

He was out of ideas.

He tapped his fingers on the tabletop a few times before giving up his attempts to eat and dragging himself to his bedroom, where he tossed and turned for an hour. He finally got sick of himself and apparated to Hermione’s flat, choosing to stay in her scent and surroundings until he had her back in his arms.

He pulled her blankets on her bed over his head, laying on his stomach with his face crammed into the pillow and breathed in her specific smell.

He slept like a baby.

He jerked awake after a few hours of rest because of the unusual dream he had been experiencing and left her bed quickly, watching it as though there was a monster beneath it.

And maybe there was.

Draco felt like a fool while on his hands and knees, looking beneath her bed while his heartbeat raced, but he let out a breath when it proved to be empty. He just had a bad feeling, an icky feeling that he was unable to place.

Then some of Pansy’s words about Harry floated back into his consciousness, “I caught him rolling around in your bed one day… naked, and it seemed like something he had done many times before.”

Draco had a sudden urge to shower in very hot water and scrub off as much skin as possible and he apparated to his manor to do just that, realizing that he had most probably just slept in Harry Potter’s sweat… and other unmentionables.

He was in the shower, his skin deep red from the heat of the water burning off his skin cells, when the fact that he may never get to see Hermione alive again hit him in the chest, like a sledgehammer to the ribs. He may not ever again see her smile, her sparkling eyes, and her head thrown back in passion while she writhed below him. He used every ounce of self-control that he possessed to keep himself from breaking down like some chick.

He needed to check the paper when he was out of the shower to make sure that the prophet had printed his advertisement.

He needed all the help he could get, at this point.

Draco just desperately wanted Hermione back.

He made sure that he was completely composed before heading for his meeting with Pansy; that insufferable twat didn’t need to see how torn up he was about everything. She would use it against him somehow, he just knew it.

“I found and destroyed the ring,” Draco told her, reaching out a somewhat trembling hand to pick up his cup of tea, his mouth twisting into a grimace at the taste.

Pansy nodded stiffly, but didn’t say anything.

“I need to know if Potter mentioned any dwellings that he owns. Other than his ridiculous cottage, that is.”

“I don’t know.”

“He didn’t mention anything about owning any other property?”

“No.”

Draco suppressed and irritated sigh. “Pansy, if you know anything I need to know. I really hope you aren’t withholding any information from me because you’re upset about my relationship with Hermione.”

“I’m not withholding anything, Draco, I just honestly don’t know. He never said anything about other properties, but it’s possible. I just don’t know.”

Draco growled in frustration, ducking his head into his hands.

“You’re very torn up about this,” Pansy commented dryly.

“I just need her back.”

“I’ve moved on,” Pansy said suddenly, changing the subject.

Draco nodded, at a loss of what to say, but then he came out with, “You move quickly.”

It had only been two days, after all.

“Marcus Flint,” Draco nodded, not overly caring about this tidbit of information, but glad that he didn’t need to worry about her being a problem in his life, and then Pansy said, “I saw your ad in the Prophet today, fifty thousand Galleons is a lot of gold, Draco, they are going to have all sorts of freaks coming out of the woodwork.”

Draco sighed again, “I didn’t know what else to do and if even one of those freaks leads us in her direction then I will be forever grateful and will gladly pay the gold.”

“You love her.”

Pansy sounded distinctly sad.

“I think I do,” he answered.

“I’m sorry I can’t be of more help. If I knew anything I honestly would tell you.”

The tone of her voice led Draco to believe otherwise. He didn’t think Pansy would help him anyway, but he was unsure that she had any helpful information. She was watching him throughout their entire meeting with a shrewd, knowing look on her face that was causing Draco to feel more than a little bit uncomfortable. He placed his vile tasting tea onto the table and stood to leave, watching her warily for a moment as she moved to stand as well.

“I need to go,” He said, walking away from the black haired witch without another word. He noticed on his way to the door that Pansy had three large suitcases in the foyer.

Taking a trip, he thought to himself as he walked away from her manor without looking back once.

/////

Draco went directly home from Pansy’s place, his face stinging with the realization that he was about to do something he hadn’t done since his mother passed.

Cry.

He almost felt ashamed about it but couldn’t bring himself to get there. He was an emotional mess, at this point, and the only way he knew how to fix it was to have his girl safe with him.

He composed himself as he dropped down at the kitchen table and his elves brought him all the fixings he needed to make himself a tea. He hadn’t been sitting there for more than two minutes when he heard knocking in the distance. He just sincerely hoped that Tippy had the foresight to turn any visitors away, he was obviously not in the right mindset to be entertaining.

He took another sip of his tea, grimacing at the fresh memory of the dreadful concoction Pansy had prepared for him when Blaise burst into the room.

“I just read the paper! Why didn’t you tell me beforehand?!”

Draco didn’t say anything. He would prefer not to point out how busy he had been the last few days.

“I haven’t had much time to make social calls,” Draco grated sarcastically when he realized that Blaise was indeed waiting for a serious answer.

He moved into the kitchen and joined Draco at the table, making himself a cup of tea as well, “I’m not going anywhere, now. Not until we find her.”

“We?”

“Yes. We. I’m not leaving you alone during this.”

“Go home to your wife, Zabini, I don’t need your pity.”

“I’m not here to give you pity, Draco, I’m here to help you find someone who’s very important to you. She went out of her way to help me, in a roundabout way, of course, with this curse business. It’s the least I could do to help you track her down. Now tell me everything you know.”

Draco stared at him.

“You want to help me?”

“Yes.”

“Then please go to Pleasure Bound in Diagon Alley and tell the employees working there what I’m about to tell you.”

“Hermione’s store? Maybe that’s something you should do…”

Draco was already shaking his head, “I won’t. Either you tell them or they stay out of the loop.”

Zabini sighed, staring at Draco. Then he realized that Draco’s eyes were reddened around the rims and that his voice had a distinctive catch to it and concluded that Draco had recently been crying. Maybe relaying the news would be too hard for him; Blaise knew that he wouldn’t want to break down in front of adoring female fans - that was for sure.

Blaise took a deep breath and nodded.

/////

Ginny Weasley was certain that Hermione had been captured by Harry as well, and as far as she could tell the poor girl was getting it worse than Ginny could ever have even imagined. She heard commotion a couple days prior, as much as she could ascertain in the continuous dark, and then everything was silent for a few minutes until she heard a girls voice yelling.

The yelling had quietened down, which Ginny was immensely grateful for at the time; until it turned into loud moans and sobs, which would then change to screaming and pleading.

She wished it was back to yelling.

Ginny had tried to call out to Hermione on numerous occasions, but the girl either couldn’t hear her or was totally out of it and unable to reply.

Harry had stopped coming to her cell and harming her since he had brought down his new captive and Ginny was grateful for that. Grateful other than the fact that it seemed as though Harry had completely forgotten she was there, and she hadn’t had a scrap of food or even a sip of water for a couple days. Her lips were dry and cracked and her throat was so dry that even breathing hurt, her stomach was passed the painful hunger now and was just dreadfully and achingly empty. Her eyes had long ago accustomed to the scant light and she was able to see even the smallest of movements throughout the dark, dank dungeons. She knew that even though it seemed like Harry had forgotten her, his snake continuously kept guard and sat near the door of her cell, watching her.

Ginny was weak and even trying to call to Hermione seemed to take too much energy.

She shivered, the only clothes that she had were her knickers, but after being down here for quite some time they weren’t very effective at all, anymore.

Fresh screams were suddenly overtaking the dungeons and Ginny cringed in horror when she first heard them. She became more horrified when she saw Harry slowly pass her cell without even a glance in her direction toward Hermione, looking as though he wanted to sneak up on the poor chestnut haired witch.

Like they weren’t going through enough terror as it was.

/////

Hermione gained full consciousness and was hanging from the manacles around her wrists; she had lost the energy to hold herself upright at least a day ago and her wrists were damaged and sore from the cold metal digging into them. After she had a specifically awful attack she would be able to feel blood dripping down her arms from her wrists chafing against the cold steel.

Hermione was tired. She hadn’t slept, except for some dozing on the edge of consciousness for a few blessed moments here and there, since she was forced into the dungeon she referred to as her own personal hell hole.

She was worried that she was going to lose her mind before she got out of there.

Hermione was so spent that she had to consciously use everything in her willpower to continue taking the next breath that she needed to survive, but she was going to get out of this because she was determined to see Draco again.

She needed to see Draco again, because she had to tell him something. She really didn’t think it would be fair on her part to give in to death before he had the pleasure of hearing her words.

Hermione stiffened marginally when she heard shuffling footsteps and her cell door creaking open, her entire body was weary and also so sore that she sometimes felt as though her skin was aflame. Despite the aching in her joints, she got her feet beneath herself properly and stood tall, almost like she was completely unfazed by the torture she had been subjected to for the last two days.

She would not let Harry see her fear in her lucid moments.

“Hermione,” he whispered, and she lifted her head marginally, trying to supress her fear and look him in the eye. Her cell was flooded with light again and she found herself wishing that it would just stay dark.

“What, Harry?” she asked, her voice weak and pitiful, scratchy from the screams and lack of water.

“Are you mine yet?”

She refused to answer this question; he posed it to her every single time he came into her cell. Instead she arranged her facial features into the most defiant look she could muster.

It was probably a sad sight to behold, considering the dried blood on her face.

“Want to tell me about your latest vision?”

She had enough energy in her to scoff and roll her eyes slightly.

“I’m pretty sure you already know what it was.”

“I don’t,” he said, staring at her in a way that was completely unnerving, “They’re based on your worst memories, fears, and nightmares. They take your memories and make them worse, take your fears and nightmares and play them out for you in the worst way possible, but I have no idea what they are.”

“And it will stay that way,” Hermione spit out, sneering at Harry. She wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of hearing the things he was putting her through and she had a tiny feeling that he wouldn’t be overly happy to hear that most of her visions featured Draco Malfoy being tortured, attacked or dismembered.

Harry was probably delusional enough to think that her worst fear or nightmare had something to do with his safety.

Hermione almost rolled her eyes again, just at the thought.

He took a step back at the sneer on her face and Hermione found herself oddly proud of the fact that she had learned to imitate Draco’s facial expressions. It was probably unnerving to see them displayed on her face in such a situation, and she knew from seeing the look aimed solely at her for a few years from her blond haired boyfriend when they were younger that the look was, indeed, demoralizing.

Anything that gave her even a sliver of feeling like she had the upper hand, at this point, made her proud. It was a sad reality that a mere look on her face could give her even the tiniest glimmer of power.

“You’ve spent too much time with him,” Harry said, glaring at her again. “I’ve had some time to do some thinking,” he began, and Hermione almost scoffed again. She didn’t think that Harry’s thinking was even nearly as sane as it should have been, “I’m thinking that you stole the stone after the war and have it on you at all times.”

“What?”

Had she heard him right?

“The stone!” he screamed, advancing on her while pulling a knife from his robes.

“I don’t have the bloody stone, Harry. It’s in the forest where you dropped it.”

“I’ve looked. It isn’t there.”

“So that means that I’ve stolen it?”

“Either after the war or at Hogwarts the other day. You still haven’t told me what you were doing there.”

“I’ve told you, I was visiting the Headmistress.”

“Liar!” he hollered, his voice ringing around the dank cell she was being kept in.

“If you tell me right now where it is, I won’t have to search you.”

“I don’t know where it is!”

As a testament to both of their muggle upbringings, Harry advanced slowly and began to cut her shirt off deliberately with the knife, bringing the point of it close to her body on too many occasions for her liking. She was whimpering before she realized that Draco would probably be disappointed if she showed Harry how afraid she was, so she immediately stifled any sounds from escaping her lips. Somewhere in the recesses of her brain she was upset that Harry was ruining her T-Rex shirt; it was one of her favourites, after all.

Her mind came back to the present when she felt the knife on her hipbone; she glared Harry in the eye from a foot away, but he wasn’t deterred in the slightest and cut her pants off slowly, leaving her in only her knickers, all the while mumbling about finding the stone beneath her skin.

Her eyes widened from his insane ramblings, but she stayed still since Harry was still holding the blade close to her.

“Now, where oh where would she hide it?” he asked himself in a sing-song voice. Hermione stared at him in surprise, his mind was obviously deteriorating with his isolation and fantasies, but to hear someone speak to themselves in such a way was incredibly daunting. Harry leaned forward without any other word or warning and sunk the tip of the blade into her forearm, twisting it around and removing a large piece of her flesh. She bit down a scream and as soon as the pain dulled fractionally she couldn’t help the words that spilled from her lips in contempt, even though she knew they would make Harry extremely angry.

Her own desperation disregarded the warning of pain that was about to come to her with what she said.

“I don’t have the stone, Harry, nor do I know where it is, but I think that you should know even if you did find the stone, you wouldn’t be the master.”

Well, that stopped him.

He removed the blade from her arm, causing blood to rush into her armpit and down the side of her body before pooling at her left foot. She hadn’t screamed and she found herself somewhat proud of her reaction to this situation.

She couldn’t wait to tell Draco about that feat.

“What do you mean?” he hissed.

She smiled, her dry lips cracking with the effort, and she was sure that she looked insane when it widened into a toothy grin.

“Draco has the Elder Wand.”

Harry snapped.

Hermione hadn’t anticipated the beating that she would receive from spouting off such words. Her nose was broken for sure and her jaw felt almost swollen. She had bitten her tongue at some point, and could taste the coppery tang in her mouth from that and her broken nose. Hermione was pretty sure that she felt a rib or two give beneath Harry’s fists, but in the rational area of her brain she knew her lungs were okay. She was still breathing, anyway, so they obviously weren’t punctured. Hermione felt numerous cuts join the bruises on her body, and she was on the cusp of consciousness when she heard Harry hiss the words that she had come to fear above all else. They did exactly what Harry had explained; took her memories, fears and nightmares and made them even worse than she could have ever imagined.

She had to watch them all play out in front of her and she desperately hoped that Draco made it to her before she completely broke and lost her mind. She finally told Harry about Draco having the Elder Wandin a fit of rage, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because he would surely track the blond wizard down. Hermione knew as soon as she saw the look on Harry’s face when she mentioned the wand that the moment he left her, he would try to find Draco.

Harry had lost his mind and was completely different than he was when they were children, he was hot-headed now; he didn’t think about his actions before acting; Hermione had every intention of using that against him.

Hermione only hoped that Draco would have his wits about him and follow Harry back to her, somehow.

That thought was keeping her sane, and her eyes fluttered as Harry muttered, “Pessimum somnum exterreri solebat”, and every sane thought flew from her mind for the time being; it was too busy being tormented, now.

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