Story Summary:
Lucius abducts Hermione. Slytherin versus Gryffindor - Pureblood versus Muggleborn - the old order versus the new. Two opposites, one room, no way out... no holds barred.

Chapter 01 - Pride

Chapter Summary:
Lucius abducts Hermione.
Author's Note:
This story crawled from the shadows of my Lucius PoV one-shot

~ Invictus ~
by Chthonia

Part 1: Pride

I land in darkness.

The book falls next to me with a thud.

W- what happened? Where am I?

I can't see.

Don't panic, Hermione. Don't panic!

I grip my wand. The smooth wood in my hand is reassuring, but I can feel my heart thumping.

Should I cast Lumos? What if someone's watching?

I can't hear anything except for my own breathing. I try to breathe more quietly, but it's still loud enough to drown out any other sound.

If there are any other sounds.

Deep breath. Hands on the ground. Okay.

I'm crouching on a rough stone floor, I can feel the cracks between the slabs running off at odd angles. I can't see anything, I can't hear anything. Can't smell anything, either, except maybe a little dust. It feels as if I'm in an enclosed space – the air is completely still. Not stale, but not fresh, either.

An enclosed space.

Oh God. Am I trapped here? How am I going to get back?

Breathe. Think it through. What happened?

The book.

I was in one of the dustier corners of the library, researching Professor Snape's essay on resisting Dark potions, checking to see if there was anything that we didn't have in the Room of Requirement. And then I saw that book, lying on a table. I thought one of the teachers must have left it there…

Of course I know enough to be wary of wizard books, especially that kind of book, but you don't spend as much time as I do in the library without learning how to detect the traps. I hadn't found anything odd about this one, and I had my wand ready with the countercharms... but I hadn't been ready for this.

A Portkey – it's so obvious, especially after what happened to Harry last summer. Stupid, stupid me! We've all been so careful about touching strange objects.

But this was a book. In the library. No one would suspect a book in the library, whatever the subject matter.

Which makes it the obvious thing to have used, doesn't it? Stupid, stupid me.

I should never have touched it. But I thought that it might help me understand how those kind of potions worked, and Dark magical theory is hardly the sort of thing I could ask Umbridge about, is it?

Too late for that now. Think, Hermione.

Maybe… maybe this is some foul trap of Umbridge's? I could kick myself – the evil toad's been trying to catch me out since the beginning of term, just because I know more about her subject than she does. Since when was it such a crime to study?

So… where am I? Would she just leave me here? After what she did to Harry, I wouldn't put anything past her.

I shiver. What is this place? It's so dark...

Part of me doesn't want to know. But I have to know.

I have to risk the spell. I don't want to advertise my presence here – wherever ‘here' is – but I can't stay kneeling on this floor forever. And I can't stand the feeling of darkness pressing in on me-


Whispered as quietly as I can, but it's still too loud in this absolute silence.

I'm in a room, about four metres by five metres. Stone walls, stone floor, even a stone ceiling tiled with irregular slabs like some bizarre crazy paving. Against the opposite wall, a desk. In the corner beside me, a bed, hung with green velvet curtains. No windows. One door.

I rush over and try every opening charm I know, but it stays closed, of course.

Think. There has to be a way out!

I turn back to the book.

That Cup brought Harry back again. Will this book do the same for me? Or is there something in it that could tell me how to return?

If there is, it's not obvious. There's just pages and pages of closely copied text, pretty dry stuff by the look of it. On Separating the Sixth and Seventh Vibrational Levels: Anomalies and Aberrations. I've no idea what that means – did I really think I could work out magical resistance strategies using this stuff?

I flip back to the beginning. On the Use of the Revenge Response to Drive Second-Derivative Hagalaz Vectors. This is more convoluted than advanced Arithmancy, and some of the later chapters even seem to be in Russian. If I have to rely on this to get me out of here, it's going to take me a long, long time.

There must be a way out! I slam the tome to the floor in frustration.

And find I am not alone.

"You really ought to treat that book with more respect. It is an antique, after all."

Oh God. I know that voice!

I whirl round, but he's ready for me.


He speaks it as a peremptory command – curt, controlled, with none of the wild shouted chaos of school duels. But it throws me back against the wall as my wand is ripped from my grasp. He watches with a twisted smile as I scramble to my feet.

Malfoy's father. I should have guessed. Stupid, stupid me.

He twirls my wand casually between his fingers. I try to ignore the sick fear that's gripping me.

Breathe, Hermione.

"It's a real pleasure to see you again, Miss Granger," he says in a tone that chills my blood. "I'm so glad you could drop in."

I find my voice. I try to keep it level.

"What do you want?"

"Hmm." His smile broadens and becomes even more twisted. "How about we start with what you want?"

What? What kind of sick game is he playing?

Say something. Anything. Don't just freeze up like you did last time!

I summon up all my determination. He has no right to do this. "I want to go back to Hogwarts. Now."

He tilts his head to the left slightly, as if he's actually thinking about it.

"I think not. Not after I went to so much trouble to bring you here."

His words shatter any hope that this is a random trap. As if I'd really believed that.

He picks up the book and inspects it carefully. "You know, you're very lucky you didn't damage this," he says. "It belonged to my grandfather."

Keep talking to him, insists a voice at the back of my head. That's what you're supposed to do when cornered, isn't it?

But what is there to say?

He closes the book and looks over at me. "But I'm sure he would have been very amused to see it back in Hogwarts' library, after he had so much trouble with the Ministry about the funding of the Dark Arts section." There's a mocking glint in his eye. "You could get into a lot of trouble for reading books like this, Miss Granger. It's a good thing no one else could see what you were looking at."

He flips it over, opens the back cover and lifts out a brown hair. "You really should be more careful about leaving these lying around. They can be used for far less... innocent purposes than Revealing Charms."

If only I had checked for that sort of spell! But that part of the library is always deserted at that time of day; there was no way I could have known that the book was only visible to me.

And he's right: Lavender is always complaining that I shed hair worse than Crookshanks, so it wouldn't have been too difficult for someone to obtain one if they'd really wanted to. Someone like Malfoy – the younger Malfoy, that is – for example. Not that it matters much right at the moment.

He's watching me, clearly relishing my dawning understanding of his plot.

Suddenly something snaps inside. I have done nothing to deserve this.

"Why can't you just leave me alone!"

He shrugs. "Your choice, Miss Granger. You took the bait. And why, I wonder, was one of Albus Dumbledore's favourite students tempted by a book on Dark Magic?"

He knows full well why I wanted to look at the stupid thing. If someone hadn't told him what I was researching, he wouldn't have known which book to use, would he?

"So," he continues, "the esteemed Hermione Granger has an interest in the Dark Arts?"

The mocking smile vanishes. "Well, Mudblood, you've certainly come to the right place!"

And at that moment I know that the masks Death Eaters wear at night are nothing compared to those they wear during the day. Lucius Malfoy's usual condescension may be vile, but it pales before the naked force of his hatred.

I feel like a rabbit caught in the lights of a runaway train. And he knows it.

"Which brings us rather neatly back to your original question, I think." He strides across the room, places the book on the desk, and turns back to face me.

"So you want to know what I want?" His words drip with malice. "You offend me. For the last four years, every time I've tried to act to protect the magical community from you stupid, overbreeding Muggles, you have been held up as a shining example of why I am misguided. Every governor's meeting, every Ministry function... Oh yes, Dumbledore made sure all the Muggle-lovers knew about you. You're a godsend to them, but you've been a complete thorn in my side!"

His voice drops. "So now we're going to find out what our little Mudblood prodigy is really made of. You want to know about the Dark Arts? I'll be only too happy to show you."

I close my eyes and lean back against the wall. This isn't really happening. That book must have one of those curses on it that pulls you into your worst nightmare and then twists it into something ten times more hideous. It's lunchtime soon. Someone will come to find me in the library, and get me out of this.

"Do me the courtesy of paying attention when I'm speaking to you!" He's standing three feet in front of me, his face contorted with hate. I don't want to hear any more. I really don't want to hear any more.

But I have to listen. I can't afford to miss anything that might give me a chance of getting out of this. I force myself to meet his eyes and immediately wish I hadn't – my sheer terror must be written all over my face.

"Not so sure of yourself now, are you?" he sneers.

The only thing I'm sure about is that I'm not going to cower in front of him. I return his glare. I wish I didn't feel as if I was about to be sick.

"You see," he says softly, "the trouble with you is that you're completely ignorant of what holds this society together, and yet you still think you can walk in and pass judgement. Your little house-elf crusade being a case in point."

House-elves? This is about house-elves? Well he can't tell me I don't know what I'm talking about there. I am not going to stand here like a quivering wreck!

"And I suppose you think that running a society on slave labour is something to be proud of?"

His eyes flash. "Can't you keep your mouth shut for one minute, you insolent little bitch?"

He stares down at me contemptuously. "Pride, Mudblood, is something of which you have no conception. Pride is what makes our society strong, and it is founded on everyone knowing their place. I know mine, the house-elves know theirs, but you, unfortunately, do not know yours."

He pauses.

"And I really do think that it's time you were taught."

He watches that sink in.

Right about now would be a really good time to wake up.

"You know," he says, mockingly conversational, "I was intending to let Draco have that pleasure, but I so enjoyed our last little chat that I couldn't resist taking the opportunity to meet you again. And I do want to make sure the task is carried out... thoroughly."

He looks straight into my eyes, daring me to make a response.

You're trying to scare me. And you're succeeding. That's what you wanted to see, isn't it?

He smiles with vicious satisfaction.

"So. Let's start off with a little lesson on your station in life."

He holds up my wand.

Eleven inches. Flexible. Good for Charms and Transfiguration...

"That you were ever allowed to touch this, Mudblood, is a travesty." He swishes it experimentally, and gives a mock sigh. "Such a waste of a good wand..."

Professor Lupin said I was the cleverest witch of my age he'd ever met.

He flexes it. A slender, pale piece of wood, held between two black-gloved hands.

I wait for the snap.

I am a witch. No one can take that away.

"On the other hand," he says thoughtfully, running a finger along its length, "I think I might be able to find a use for this after all."

He wants me to ask. I will not give him that satisfaction.

He puts it in his pocket. My wand.

Abruptly he turns, walks back across the room, and leans against the desk. He sweeps his gaze over me from head to foot, and there's a cold analytical quality to it that I don't like at all. There must be a way out of here! I scan the walls, the ceiling... if there was anywhere to run to, any window I could try to get through... but there's nothing but that one door and I know that won't help me. I'm trapped, trapped in this small stone room with a sadistic Dark wizard who can't accept that his world is changing and wants to take it out on me.

Somewhere out there the real Hermione must be slumped oblivious over her library book. Wake up! Please...

"I do not approve of this importation of Muggle fashion," he says, eyeing my plain Clarks shoes. "If you're going to pretend to be a witch, you could at least dress like one. I wonder how far you've taken your futile efforts to fit in?"

I really don't like the way he's looking at me.

"Perhaps we should have a look. Would you care to show me?"

I stare at him.

"Do I have to spell it out? Take off your robe, Mudblood."

Heat rises to my face as rage battles with shame.

No. No way.

"Well go on. I haven't got all day."

"No." It's half refusal, half flat denial. He's trying to drag me down a path that I will not follow. Why does he have to do this?

"No?" His eyes narrow, but he's smiling a horrible hungry smile. "But why ever not?"

Stop it. Stop.

"You don't think I'm about to molest you?" A harsh laugh. "I assure you, Mudblood, that I have no desire to touch you in any way whatsoever. So get on with it!"

"No." It's the only thing I can cling to.

He smiles at me. Pure condescension. He knows and I know precisely where the imbalance of power lies.

"But I hardly think you're in a position to say ‘no'."

He raises his wand. For a split second I know exactly what he is going to do.



And I smile and relax... as my thoughts float away...
...and I welcome that bliss... that just lets me drift... and wraps me in warmth...
there's a – slightly repelled? – voice in my head... that says I'm to place... my robe on the floor... and why not? I'm so warm...
And I've a nagging feeling that no, this is illusion. This is wrong.
...though that can't be right... because this feels so good...
I really don't want to do this
..but why would I choose... to think this is bad... I know all is well… so I stretch and I smile... and

Reality crashes in. I am standing in my underwear with a puddle of clothes at my feet. And he is standing there haughtily swathed in his black robes and cloak and gloves, grinning maliciously and... inspecting me.


I have never felt so exposed in my life.

And he was in my mind…

I shudder. I close my eyes.

"There, that wasn't so difficult, was it?"

I cannot respond.

I cannot respond.

"But it rather looks as if I was right, doesn't it? What ugly undergarments you Muggles like to wear. They're going to have to go, I'm afraid."

He wants me to... no. No, I can't. Can't even think it.

"Oh come on – I've given you a nice head start, after all. Pleasurable as it is to watch you blush, I do have other things to be getting on with."

I open my eyes.

I can't do it. Not won't. Can't. I'm frozen in those twin beams of pale-eyed hate and there is no way I can make myself move to further expose myself.

"Now, Mudblood." His voice like a knife against my throat.

I can't. End of the road.

If I tell him ‘no' he'll think I'm just refusing. Maybe I even would do it if I could. But I can't. I can't. I have to stall. Say something.


"Why?" He snorts incredulously. "Were you this irritating to your Hogwarts teachers?"

No, not were. Hermione is still at Hogwarts. She has a Potions class after lunch that she'd thought was going to be the low point of the day. She's in the library researching Curses and she's found a book that will teach her everything she needs to know about how Dark wizards make use of the paralysis of fear. Ron will come to look for her soon and they'll be teasing her about it for the rest of the week.


His spell hurls me up against the wall and pins me there. He walks across the room towards me. Now I do want to move, but this time it's not just fear that's holding me here... He's standing mere inches away and I can't even attempt to cover myself. Tears spring to my eyes, I can't help it. I try to blink them back but they roll down my cheeks. Liquid humiliation.

"Well, well, well." That quiet hateful voice so close, I can feel his breath on my cheek. "You're certainly living up to my expectations. Such a reaction already, and the real fun hasn't even started yet."

Ron, wake me up now!

"But I get the impression that you're being a trifle... inattentive. And that just isn't good enough, little Mudblood. I really don't like people who waste my time."

I can't move my head. I can't avoid those calm eyes that show so clearly that he knows exactly how to pull me apart piece by piece. And will revel in the dark joy of doing it.

He murmurs something I can't catch, and holds his wand over my left arm.

Oh my god

A juddering spasm arcs from my fingers up towards my shoulder. Electric shock, batteries not included.

I'm shaking, but I still can't move.

"Hmm." His dispassionate gaze doesn't waver.

He passes his wand to his other hand, never breaking contact with my eyes. I won't give him the satisfaction of seeing me react. I bite my lip, preparing to hide everything I can.

He touches his wand to my leg.

At first, nothing. Then a penetrating line of heat spreads down to my foot and up to my face with laser focus and I bite my lip harder in determination that I will not cry out. All I can see in his eyes is a calm curiosity which is too detached even to be called clinical yet seems to bore into the depths of my mind as the burning gets worse and I will not cry out but it feels as if I am being sliced through and I hear myself moan and

It stops. I wrench my gaze from his – except that I can't. So I close my eyes. I want to be sick.

He speaks with that same strange calm.

"Open your eyes."

I don't know why, but I do.

He smiles at me in a way that I can't define. Conspiratorial. Familiar. I shudder.


"Now that's most intriguing, little one. I think you and I are going to have some very interesting times together."

And I think you deserve to burn in hell.

He raises his eyebrows. "You didn't like that? Ah, Mudblood, you do disappoint me. But you're right. I shouldn't let you distract me like this."


He steps back abruptly.

"So, where were we?" The cold sneer has returned. "Ah yes, there was that little problem with your concentration. Are you always this inattentive in class?"

I'm concentrating. Concentrating very hard on reading what's coming. Not that it'll make one bit of difference.

"I have to say that it's not what I was expecting from Hogwarts' star pupil. But as you appear to have trouble staying focused on reality, let me show you something that will help."

He stands looking at me, his eyes alight with unholy anticipation. Now I do want to run, and I don't care if there's nowhere to run to. I try to tear myself away from the wall. But I still can't move. He smirks as I struggle in vain.

"No, I think we'll let you stay where you are. I don't want to waste time chasing you round the room, and this technique is a little safer if you keep still."

I freeze. Safer?

"Why so alarmed? This is what you came for, after all." He raises his wand, and grins.

"Consider this your first lesson in the Dark Arts."

I scream as a knife plunges into my wrist.

The pain is beyond words. Everything radiates from that overwhelming point of agony, piercing through me so that it's all I know, all I could ever know. He, with his wand and his terrible gaze, he is... outside this. I am dissolved in the pain. Pain... is.

It stops.

My breathing comes in shuddering gasps. I couldn't endure that again...

My wrist is numb. I don't want to look at what he's done. I can't move my head to see.

Words float through the haze of my mind, words from a book I read when we had to research Cruciatus last year...

Words cannot describe pain. Pain exists only in the realm of sensation.
Memory cannot hold onto pain. Pain exists only in the present.
Imagination cannot conceive of pain. Pain exists only beyond the limits of imagining.

Pain is its own dimension. It is accessible only through Pain.

I never truly understood it then. I do now.

I look at him. He is beyond comprehension. How could anybody do that?

"I do know what it feels like, you know." There's no hint of mockery now, just a calm, matter-of-fact imparting of information. "You can't learn to use it properly if you've never experienced how it feels."

Through my numb horror I feel a ripple of surprise. Is that how he learned to be so cold? But he couldn't possibly remember. I can't remember. The only thought I can hold is that I never want to feel anything like that again.

"Strangely," he continues, "that one isn't classed as Unforgivable. Even though – when used appropriately – it can be so much more effective than those. But then I have it on good authority that the Ministry finds it rather useful as well."

No. They wouldn't. I know Sirius said the Ministry used Unforgivables before, but they stopped that, didn't they? They wouldn't be so opposed to teaching us even defensive jinxes if they used something like that themselves. Would they?

"You don't believe me? Well, if you want to persist in seeing everything through that ridiculous Gryffindor nobility, have it your way. But real life isn't that black and white, Mudblood. You have a lot to learn."

He flicks his wand and I slide to the ground. I stare at my wrist. It's unmarked, with no sign of that piercing agony. Just the tingling of returning sensation. I stare up at him.

He raises an eyebrow. "No lasting traces, you see. You don't believe the Aurors mightn't find that rather... convenient?"

I draw my arms around my knees, and stare at the floor.

Logic, Hermione.

Yes, in theory anyone could use this and not be detected. And I've seen enough of wizard ‘justice' to believe that complaints wouldn't be treated too seriously, especially if the complainant were alleged to be a Dark Wizard. But in practice he would be as likely to make that accusation whether it were true or false. And I know who I'd choose to trust.

"You're not drifting away again, are you?" His voice cuts sharply through my train of thought. I keep my eyes on the floor. I don't want to look at him. I don't want to listen to him.

"It rather looks as if your memory is as bad as your attention span, if you need another little lesson already," he sneers. "Or do you perhaps want another?" He draws out his words. "Did you enjoy that, little Mudblood?"

Sick. I glare at him.

"No? Oh well. So let's finish what we started, shall we?"

I'd almost forgotten. I wish I had forgotten. I wish he had forgotten.

No such luck.

"You're not still going to be stubborn, are you?" He crouches down in front of me. I draw my knees in towards my chest. "Because that would leave me with two choices, you see. Either I could give you another little – incentive – to complete your assignment, or I could use Imperius. And I really don't like using Imperius on your sort. It's bad enough being in the same room as you – sharing your mind is something I'd rather avoid."

Like I asked to be in this room with you?

He stands up and aims his wand at me. "It's your choice. You can get up now, or you can let me show you another little spell. But you will do as I say. How easy you make it for yourself is up to you."

It may be impossible to truly recall pain, but I remember enough to know that I cannot choose to go through that again. I force myself to stand.

I hate myself for doing it. I hate him for taking such obvious enjoyment from watching me blush as I fight my instinct to curl up in a defensive ball.

He nods. "Finally, we have a little obedience. That's much better, Mudblood. But do continue."

Don't think about it.

Slowly, I reach behind me to unhook my bra but really I'm walking down the corridor from the library, away from a book I never even noticed. Is he really only making me do this because I bought my underwear from Marks and Spencers and not Hogsmeade? There's a Hogsmeade trip next weekend, everyone was talking about it this morning. Or does he just want to humiliate me? Because it's sodding well working. And I go into the Great Hall and Ron and Harry wave at me and a tear runs down my cheek as I drop the bra on the floor, and I reach down and I'm sitting down for lunch and the food smells delicious and across the Hall I see Malfoy sneering at something and through the blur of my tears his ghastly father is standing in front of me with exactly the same expression and... I cannot escape this.

He's looking at me as if I'm something the cat dragged in.

"Turn around."

I turn around. Move right foot, feel the roughness of the stone floor, move left foot...

"The hairslide too."

I remove it and drop it on the floor. It lands with a metallic clatter.

My hair falls across my face, and I feel it covering my neck. Even that infinitesimal reduction in exposure is a relief.

"You can turn back again now."

I hate following his instructions like an automaton. But if I think about it I'll freeze again and God knows what he'll do to me then. I just have to get through one moment at a time. Keep focused on the present – the past is another world. And the future is unthinkable.

"You've missed something." He points to my neck. My hand closes reflexively around the amulet. A gift from Harry after I told him about my Basilisk nightmares.

"You're not going to start being disobedient again, are you?" He tuts. "And you were doing so well, too."

I can't make my fingers uncurl. It's not as if I ever believed it could protect me from anything – especially not now – but it's my last link to my friends, to my real life.

Which is exactly why he wants to take it.

"Let me see that." He points his wand at me menacingly. I let go.

I'm sorry, Harry.

He walks towards me, hooks his wand under the chain, and lifts up the pendant.

"Hmm. A pretty trinket, but it hasn't been particularly effective, has it?"

I say nothing. He reaches out and takes it between his fingers.

"So I really can't see why you'd want to keep it." With a sudden wrench he pulls it away. The breaking chain stings my neck. Tears sting my eyes.

I stare at the silver clasp of his cloak, inches away. I don't want to look at that sneering face.

"Now that was a little more trouble than it should have been," he says, "but I'll overlook that for now. Go stand over there."

He points to the empty corner of the room, opposite the bed. I am only too glad to get away from him. I suddenly realise I'm shivering, and now it's from cold as much as fear. I wrap my arms around my chest.

He gives me a disgusted look.

"Did I say you could cover yourself?"

Oh, for God's sake! Can't he give it a rest?

"Isn't this enough for you?" The words are out of my mouth before I can stop myself.

His eyes darken. "Evidently not."

He lifts his wand.

No. I really didn't mean to say that.

I wince as that line of fire flares up my body again. He twists his hand slightly, and the pain intensifies relentlessly. I bite down on my lip. Is he waiting for me to cry out, or will he make it worse if I do?

"Isn't that enough for you?" he sneers.

Suddenly it is moving through me, a burning thread pulling against an unbearable friction and the pain is too much and I'm staggering against the wall and sobbing out for him to stop.

He watches me coldly for a further half minute before he does.

I try to stay upright. Deep breath, Hermione. Don't provoke him.

"Let me make one thing clear, Mudblood. I don't care how much they let you get away with at Hogwarts; I do not tolerate such insubordination. Should you wish to indulge in rebelliousness here, you will pay for it. Do you understand?"

I nod, numbly.

"So can I expect a little more co-operation in future?"

I nod again. Betraying myself. A Gryffindor shouldn't give in like this. But those heroic traditions never prepared me for this monster.

"I didn't hear that."

I open my mouth to speak, but I can't. Why is it so much harder to voice my capitulation?

He points his wand at me. "Answer me when you're spoken to, Mudblood. Are you going to persist in this childish waywardness?"

What would all those teachers who believed in me think of this acquiescence? I'm sorry.

"No." I'm burning with shame. As I should be.

"So, are you going to do as I say?"

Somehow, I drag the word out.


And one day I'll make you pay for it. I promise myself that much.

"Good. Now keep your arms down, and shut up."

He looks me up and down, very... thoroughly. And I'm letting him examine me as if I were an animal at market. I can't bear the feeling of keeping myself open like this. It's all I can do not to curl up on the floor.

And he's smirking at my furious blushes. Daring me to resist his scrutiny.

Just keep focused, one moment at a time... Suddenly I remember Sirius, talking about Azkaban. "...the only reason I never lost my mind is that I knew I was innocent," he said. "That wasn't a happy thought, so the Dementors couldn't suck it out of me..."

I've faced Dementors, and they're hideous. But at least they only suck in your emotions. Not like this black-robed creature that takes such pleasure in tormenting me, drinking in my responses and radiating them back as hate.

I will not let him suck out my soul.

So focus. One less-than-happy thought: I hate you.

I hate that hideous superior smile. I hate that too-pale skin and hair, as if he's spent his whole life down a dark hole.

I hate that horrid condescending voice.

"I really don't see what your problem is, Mudblood. This can't be the first time you've put your body on display. I thought all Muggles were obsessed with sex."

Don't react, Hermione. He wants you to react.

He chuckles.

"Oh, so I am the first to view your wares in all their naked charm? How sweet of you to save yourself for me."

Shut up. I hate you I hate you I hate you.

And he grins, feeding on my shame and my hatred.

He takes one more long lingering look, and then crouches over the pile of discarded clothes.

I'm cold. And I've just realised there's no fireplace in here.

He picks out my school scarf, and my shoes. He adds the hairslide to his pile. He holds up a sock.

"Dear me," he says. "I didn't realise the School's uniform standards had slipped this much." The sock is blue, with a pattern of quills woven in. A birthday gift from Dobby.

Dobby. Oh no.

He's looking at me with narrowed eyes.

"Something particular about this sock, is there?" He touches it with his wand.

It sparks, with an acrid burning smell. He stares at it.

"So there is magic in it. But if I'm not mistaken, this is elf-magic."

Don't ask. Don't ask.

He laughs. "Well, I suppose that's apt, given your affinity for house-elves. But I never thought I'd see the day when even a Mudblood would stoop so low as to accept clothes from an elf."

I don't miss his meaning, and I hate him for it. But at least his need to insult me has distracted him from seeking details about that sock.

He smirks. "Although perhaps the only real difference between you is that where a house-elf is ashamed to be given clothes, to strip away your pride I had to remove them."

A flare of anger battles with cringing embarrassment as he sweeps his eyes over me again. But I manage to hide the effect his words have on me. I hope. I don't want to think about what he's going to want of me next.

He smiles, and throws the sock back on the pile.

"Elf-magic," he sneers. "Very nice if you want to keep your feet dry, but nothing there that can be used to track you, I think. Still, it's best not to be careless."

He folds up my scarf and my shoes and my hairslide. Then he stands up and points his wand down at the rest of my clothes.


A brief bright blue flare, and nothing is left but a pile of ash.

Dobby's socks. Harry's pendant. Ron's mother's jumper. That letter from Mum and Dad in my pocket.

All gone.

God, it's cold in here.

"These, I think I'll hang on to." He's holding up the little bundle of scarf and shoes. "Or rather, I'll let them form a little trail of false clues to your mysterious disappearance. We wouldn't want anyone to come looking for you here, would we? Not that they'd have a hope of finding this place."

No. They'll find me. They won't leave me here, to this... No.

He raises an eyebrow. "So you think they care what happens to you? I doubt it, Mudblood. It's your little scar-faced friend everyone's worried about. I'm probably the only one who appreciates you for what you really are. You should be grateful to me for taking an interest."

I hate you.

"And besides, it's only fair that I'm taking on Dumbledore's uppity Mudblood, given that he appears to have taken in my uppity house-elf, don't you think?"

No. Please don't say that I've given Dobby away as well.

He chuckles. "What, you think I can't recognise my own servant's magic? Although I really should have guessed – no one but Dumbledore would be fool enough to humour the creature. Of course, I'm going to have to do something about that, now that I know where the little runt is hiding. I should have finished it off two years ago."

He smirks at my dismay, and turns away to put the clothes on the desk beside that book. Then he returns to stand in front of me. I look at the floor. I can't take much more of this.

"Now you, on the other hand..."

With one gloved finger he brushes the hair from my eyes. I shudder at the touch.


He twists his hand in my hair and pulls my head back. I can't avoid that malicious sparkle in his horrible grey eyes.

"Oh yes," he murmurs. "I was certainly right to let you live last summer. I am very much looking forward to finding out what other little secrets are locked in that overactive head of yours."

I try to flinch away. He tightens his grip. I can't stop myself gasping in pain.

He smiles. "Now don't go thinking you can hide from me, little Mudblood. I can read you better than one of your precious books… and you've been learning such a lot of interesting information, haven't you?"

He pulls me closer. I try not to look at him.

Don't think, Hermione. Don't think of anything.

"And you're going to tell me all about it – you're going to show me into every last corner of your mind. And I know I, at least, am going to find that process most... entertaining."


He releases me and steps away.

"As for your body," he says harshly, "I've seen as much of that as I ever want to see."

He conjures up a plain black robe and flings it at me. I clutch it tightly, grateful for some shelter at last from that penetrating stare.

He walks over to the desk, picks up my clothes and the book, and turns back to me.

"Oh, and do make sure you clean yourself up before I return. I know you Muggles aren't too fond of washing, but we're a little more civilised here."

Civilised. I can't believe he said that.

He taps the doorknob with his wand, and pushes open the door. From where I'm standing I can see a large white bath and a toilet.

A bathroom?

He chuckles. "What, you were expecting a way out? There is no way out, Mudblood. Not for you."

He Disapparates.

The light goes out.