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A/N - This chapter is the reason for the Graphic Violence warning. If that is something you’re not comfortable reading, I would suggest skipping this chapter.

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Hermione thought she heard someone breathing behind her. When she turned around, she jumped in surprise. There was a boy standing before her; a Slytherin. She vaguely recognized his face, as one of the current seventh years, but she knew that she hadn’t ever spoken to him before. She wasn’t even able to think of his name.

They both stood staring at one another for a moment. Hermione, for some inexplicable reason, felt the hairs on her arms begin to stand straight. That uneasy feeling that she’d felt before finding Crookshanks, earlier that evening, made a shocking reappearance. She went to reach for her wand slowly, and cleared her throat.

“You shouldn’t be out here wandering the corridors. It is way past curfew, Mister…?” she trailed off, hoping he would have given her his name.

He didn’t. Instead, the boy smiled at her. But it wasn’t a friendly smile, by any means. It was a smile that caused goose pimples to form on her skin, and chills to run down her spine. It was a sinister looking smile, that eerily reminded her of Voldemort.

This was not going to end well, she thought.

Hermione straightened her back, attempting to make herself look taller, and more imposing.

“You need to get back to your dormitory, before I take points from Slytherin,” she said, with a conscious attempt to keep her voice from wavering.

The pale, black-haired boy before her hadn’t moved. He snorted at her as he rolled his eyes.

“Oh no, don’t take points from me!” he exclaimed in mock horror.

Hermione’s internal warning bell was blaring inside her. Every instinct she had was telling her to run, yet the logical part of her brain was reminding her that this boy was just a student, and she was at Hogwarts. She was safe.

Her temper began to rise. “Fine. Ten points from Slytherin, then,” she hissed.

The boy shook his head slowly, and Hermione’s heart began beating faster when he took a deliberate step forward. She aimed her wand at his chest.

“Stay away from me,” she warned. She’d fought Death Eaters, so she had been more than confident in her skills against a random seventh year Slytherin.

Still, she hadn’t been foolish enough to think she wasn’t in a dangerous situation. She would have needed to find out his name, so she could have made Professor McGonagall aware of his inappropriate actions.

“I’m not frightened of you, Mudblood,” he spat.

Hermione’s breathing temporarily stopped.

Painful memories of being pinned beneath that lunatic Bellatrix, with her carving that disgusting word into her skin, came unbidden into her mind. Her eyes widened.

What did you call me?” she breathed out. Her hand tightened around her wand.

A humorless laugh expelled from the boy as he took another step towards her.

“Back away. This is the final time I’m going to say it,” she told him firmly.

The Slytherin shook his head at her again. An almost inhumanly evil glare filled his eyes.

“This may very well be the final time you do anything, Granger,” he told her, in a chillingly cool voice. A shiver passed through her at his tone.

Hermione noticed the slight movement of his eyes, fixing themselves just behind her, right before it happened. Someone else had been there, and she hadn’t known. She had just been a second too late; she didn’t have time to react.

Petrificus Totalus!” Another voice called out from behind her. Her entire body went rigid, and she hadn’t been able to move as much as a fingertip.

Now, she was frightened.

The other boy walked out in front of her, and stood next to his friend. His hair as light as his counterpart’s was black, and his cruel blue eyes glared at her frozen body. Hermione silently prayed that someone would have walked by. A professor, a ghost, Mrs. Norris… anyone.

“What should we do to her?” the black-haired boy asked his friend, still with the sick, twisted smile on his face.

The blonde boy lazily twirled his wand between his fingers. “I don’t know, Avery. Perhaps turn her head into a baby’s, as she did my father,” he growled.

Hermione’s panic continued to crescendo. These weren’t just any two Slytherins. They were the sons of Death Eaters. And not just any Death Eaters, ones who had both been killed. She couldn’t exactly remember, but she thought that she even might had been the one who had cast the spell which ended Avery Senior’s life.

Avery placed a long finger across his lips, looking to be very much in deep thought, as he circled Hermione like a shark circles its prey.

“I say we just kill her,” he finally spoke, after an uncomfortably long time.

They wouldn’t kill her, she thought. They couldn’t. Surely they wouldn’t have been so stupid as to actually murder a fellow student in the halls of the school.

“Obviously,” the other said. “But I thought we could maybe have some fun with it first.”

Her eyes began to water. Never again, did she think she would have had to endure being tortured. But seeing the bloodthirsty look in each of their eyes, she knew that the pain had not been far off.

Her eyes, the only part of her that had been able to move, scanned the halls, still hoping that someone would have come by to put a stop to this. But due to the lateness of the hour, she began doubting that anyone would have.

When the two boys pointed their wands at her, she closed her eyes, and pleaded to the heavens that whatever they did to her, it would end quickly.

“Well I can say one thing about that traitorous half-blood, Snape. He did come up with some pretty useful spells…” said Avery, before slashing his wand through the air. “Sectumsempra!” he shouted.

If Hermione could have shouted out, she was sure that she would have screamed so loudly, her throat would have been raw. Her blood sprayed out before her, as the feeling of her flesh being sliced apart, inch by inch, agonizingly covered her body. He slashed at her biceps, her thighs, her chest, rip after rip, all the while seeming to take care not to hit any major veins or arteries. It was clear he intended not for her to have died — yet, but for her to have suffered.

Hermione’s cheeks were soaking wet, with a mixture of her blood, and the tears falling from her eyes. The fact that she hadn’t been able to move as they mutilated her body seemed to have made the assault that much more painful.

Sickenly, the boys laughed as they magically cut away more of her flesh. They circled around, taunting her as the went, calling her Mudblood and asking where the famous Harry Potter was now to have saved her.

When they seemed to have had their fill with that spell, they stopped and admired their work, with grotesque satisfaction in their eyes.

Hermione’s blood pooled beneath their feet, and her head began feeling foggy from the pain and the blood loss. She knew from the spots they had chosen to attack that the hadn’t meant to have killed her at that moment, but the amount of wounds on her body were causing her to lose entirely too much blood. She feared if someone had not intervened soon, she would surely have died.

How mad it was that she had fought more experienced wizards twice their age, was on the run for eight months living off next to nothing, and had faced much more dangerous creatures and situations than these two young men, and survived it all. But a moment of reflection in the halls of Hogwarts could have potentially been the thing that would have costed her her life.

Hermione’s body felt as if it had been on fire, from the air hitting her exposed inner flesh. The two of them continued to say things to her, but from the intense pain, and the amount of blood still leaking from her body, she hadn’t been able to hear a word of it. The one thing she was conscious of, was the fact that still tightly clenched in her hand, was the piece of fish she had intended to bring back to Crookshanks. How terrible it was that she had only just gotten him back, and there was a very real possibility that she would never have seen him again.

Just when she thought that what they had done to her had been enough, through blurry eyes, Hermione watched them raise their wands at her once more. She scrunched her eyes closed tightly, and waited for the second round of pain.

She’d only felt the Cruciatus Curse once before in her lifetime, at Malfoy Manor last spring. It had been the worst pain she’d ever felt in her life, at the time. But now, with the curse being put on her, on top of the dozens of slashes all over her body, she actually prayed for death. It felt as if hundreds of white hot knives where now stabbing into her. Not just her skin, but into her organs, her very brain even. There hadn’t been an inch of her that was unaffected by the inferno.

Again, not being able to move or scream only seemed to intensify the pain. And soon it had come to the point where she hadn’t been able to see her attackers any longer. Her vision began to become spotty, and although the pain was still the most prominent thing she could feel, her other senses began to dull. Slowly, as if someone had been turning down the volume on life, the noise began to fade. Everything around her was starting to look as if it was being covered in black ink, spreading out and down the hallway. She could no longer smell the strong fishy odor, nor the copper scent of her own blood.

Her thoughts travelled to Harry and Ron, and hoped that they wouldn’t have tried to do anything foolish to avenger her. Because, she was acutely aware that she was, in fact, dying.

She thought of her parents, and how even though she was heartbroken to not have been able to find them and restore memories over the summer, she’d been grateful for that fact now. They wouldn’t have had to have ever known the pain of losing their only daughter.

She thought of Ginny and Luna, and only hoped that they would not be the ones to have found her body, since she was more than aware that it must have looked monstrous. She thought of Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, and how sad she was that she never had had the chance to truly thank them for accepting her into their home, just like she had been another daughter, when they’d already had so many of their own children, and Harry, to look after.

She thought of her cat, her companion that she’d just gotten back, and hoped that perhaps he would have found his way to Luna after she was gone. Luna would have been the best person to have looked after him.

Finally the pain began to also subside, and the tears continued to stream down her face. The last thing she saw, and it sickened her to her core, was the gleeful expressions on the two boys’ faces, before jets of green blasted out from the tips of their wands.

Everything went black.

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