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 17 - Respect

Chapter Summary:
Lucius abducts Hermione.

Author's note: I think this has gone beyond the point of being able to get away with a simple apology for the slow update; nevertheless, I am sorry – and deeply grateful to those of you who have kept faith. Barring catastrophe, I will finish this. That said, I'm still on medication that makes writing difficult, so I'm afraid I can't promise a miraculous increase in output, though I will do my best.
If you'd like to be notified when the next chapter is done, please join the Invictus mailing list. I also have a Livejournal as chthonya.
Thank you especially to my friend and beta-reader Kennahijja, who again applied a fine-tuned wand to even the unpleasant parts of this chapter.

~ Invictus ~
by Chthonia

Part 17: Respect

I'm trying to think, but the black holes in my mind suck every thought into nothing. Even the most innocent things... Did Malfoy's father really take memories of my primary school? Why?

But that's the least of the questions that yesterday I might have known the answers to. How, when, why did I come to be here? What does he want from me?

Maybe I could work it out, if only I knew what he's taken... But there's no point in trying to go down that road. This place, this darkness, this smell of dust and damp stone and fear – these I remember. There are flashes of light, too – a small stone room with a desk and a chair and a bed, and always him: sitting, standing, sneering, holding my chin with his fingers so I can't avoid his cold and empty eyes.

But if I follow those images I'm pitched into dizzying darkness. And if I cross those boundaries too often they might close over so nothing will fit properly...

So I try to think of something familiar, mundane. Hundreds of lessons, hours of Potions, Charms, Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, and a golden chain that flipped me through time in a way that seems almost normal compared to the disorientation I'm feeling now.

It works, as long as I concentrate on the details: the bare facts but not how they fit together, the theories but not the applications. It's more difficult than I'd ever have imagined, not to jump along those shimmering connections that should give information meaning but now just as often leave me hanging in space... Charms connects to a tangled blue glow that truncates to darkness, Transfiguration to a flashing knife that cuts out all reference to itself, History to Mr Malfoy wielding his wand and his sneer from the other side of a desk, and a blur of fire and stink and screaming that wasn't mine to remember anyway.

Perhaps it's safer to wonder about the future after all. Or to focus on the present... like how much my arms are hurting, bound by my side for God knows how many hours. Like how the hell he expects me to go to the loo like this...

Thinking about that isn't particularly helpful, either.

One thing I do remember clearly: the look on his face as his wand touched my hand to hurl me back here, his chin raised so he could peer down with that disdainful curl to his lip... contempt, I suppose. I was bothering him so he sent me away – I don't count for anything.

But in that case, why am I here?

I can't even try to guess. All I can do is wait.


It's no easier when he finally appears.

We stare at each other in silence: me sitting on the bed, him standing by the desk with a thin black book in his black-gloved hands. He's looking at me as if he's trying to work something out.

What does he know about me that I don't?

The strange thing is, it feels so familiar. Have I looked at him this way before, tried to figure out what he's thinking from the slight purse of his lips and the twitch in his cheek? And if so, was I more successful than I am now?

"Have you forgotten everything, Miss Granger?"

Well, he knows the answer better than I...

"Stand up when I'm speaking to you!"

I'm on my feet before I have time to think about it, as if he's got a direct line into my brain. This isn't me – I should be indignant, angry, as coldly contemptuous as he is...

What has he done to me down here?

He pulls out his wand and walks towards me.

I step backwards; the backs of my legs press against the bed. He glances down at the ropes round my waist, raises his wand. Then he lowers it.

"Maybe not," he murmurs.

And his wand is pressing up under my chin, forcing me to look up into those pale grey eyes.

I swallow.

He's done this before, I feel it.

"So," he says quietly. "Am I really to believe that the games have come to an end?"

What games?

And, more to the point, what end?

He frowns. "Didn't you tell me you were ready to co-operate?"

My instinct is to look at the floor, but with his wand under my jaw I'm forced to say it to his face.

"What do you want me to do?"

The corners of his mouth twitch. I wouldn't call it a smile.

"Sit down, Miss Granger, and I'll tell you."

He points at the desk. I have to turn my back on him to get to it, and I have to kick the chair out from the desk before I can sit there. It shrieks against the floor.

I wish he'd untie my arms, but I have a feeling that asking wouldn't get me very far.

I fight down an irrational stab of panic as his boots click against stone. But I manage to be almost impassive as he leans on the desk, gloating over me with the smuggest smile I've ever seen plastered across his face. The smuggest smile I can remember seeing, that is.

He places his book on the desk. The Black Book of Binding, according to the cover.

"Your first task, Miss Granger, is to read for me."

Somehow I don't think he means for me to tuck him up in bed with Goldilocks and a mug of cocoa.

He's watching my expression. "You're more wary this time, I see. But there's nothing to worry about – this time you're not going to be touching it, and I'm not going to be looking at it."

He takes off his right glove.

God only knows what he's going on about. He's shown me the book before, I suppose, but forgotten that he's made me forget.

Does that mean it's something I should be afraid of, or is it something that can save me?

He opens the book, his gaze fixed on me. "Tell me when I get to Chapter Twelve."

I watch as the chapter titles flip past. "There," I say quietly.

At the top of the page, in twisting black script, is written Chapter Twelve: House-Elf Enslavement. Immediately underneath, a picture of a House-Elf tries to back off the page.

This is sick.

The House-Elf contorts in a silent scream... but it's a picture, just an image, the pain isn't real and he ordered me to read, and if I don't I won't get my memories back and what good can I do for House-Elves then?

I force myself to scan the clipped précis of the differences between 'animate and inanimate objects'. Then I look up at him.

He turns the page.

This is knowledge I do not want. How will he expect me to use it?

A beast or a lower-order being can be effectively Bound by fear. It was Clarinda the Cruel, in 981, who first perfected the technique of infusing fear into a basic Ownership Brand. However, as fear is an instinct that can be triggered by a range of stimuli, a deeper Binding is required if specific personal loyalty is to be assured.

Horrible. No wonder poor Winky was so distraught last year.

I read on. It tells me how the Binding process developed to tap into the Bound creature's needs for security and belonging. It's fascinating, in a twisted sort of way – is this the key to freeing the House-Elves from their so-called contentment with their slavery? My mind races ahead of the words, frantically figuring how the process might be reversed. When I reach the end of the next page I nod – then look up at him in panic. What will he do to me for that presumption?

But he simply smirks, and turns the page.

This is strange... as if he is my hands and I am his eyes.

His fingertips press down on the book so hard, his nails show white.

"Read." His command grates through gritted teeth.

There's a faint prickle up my spine. I ignore it, and bend closer to the book.

The next subheading reads: Practical Punishment.

I really don't want to read this.

But the words on the page beckon, luring me in to their discussion of the best methods of instilling discipline, of how to inflict punishment that reinforces rather than destroys the Bound Elf's feeling of security, of how to nurture an instinct for self-punishment. There's something important here, I feel it; if only I could turn the pages for myself...

He snaps the book shut. I blink up at him.

He frowns, tucking the book under his arm. His wand is in his hand. I flinch away as he raises it-

The ropes disappear from around my waist. I rub my arms; for a minute I am aware of nothing beyond the agony of returning blood.

And then I see my left arm.

There's a wide white scar running from my elbow almost to my wrist. And I know it wasn't there before. What has he done? What else has he done?

It's... it's had time to heal. How long have I been here?

I stare at him in horror. He raises an eyebrow.

"Yes, Miss Granger. You may be unusually intelligent for a Muggleborn, but some lessons take a long time to sink in."


His fingers close around my wrist; he lays the end of his wand across my fingers. I bite my lip, waiting for my hand to burn or bleed or in some other way change.

But nothing happens.

I glance up at him. His mouth is set in a small superior smirk.

He gives the silver ring on my finger a sharp tap, and suddenly it seems too heavy, too cold, its runes too darkly twisting... and then the runes vanish and the ring is dull and loose on my finger. He pulls the ring from my hand and points to the bathroom.

"Go do what you have to do."

I scurry to the door, push it closed behind me, reach the loo and close my eyes in relief. I'm shaking.

I lean on the sink for a moment before I wash my hands and splash water on my face. When I look up I jump back in fright.

There's someone in here with me!

I spin round. The room is empty. But I saw...

Blimey, Hermione. You really are losing it.

My reflection.

Except it's not me, it's a hideously distorted version of me. Of course Malfoy's father wouldn't keep a normal mirror in his dungeon.

I steel myself for another look. I wouldn't have recognised myself. Well, I didn't, did I? I mean...

I lean my forehead against the glass. The girl in the mirror does the same. It's horrible – pinched face, straggly hair, hideous scar down one cheek. I touch my own cheek where the reflected scar would be – and turn cold as I realise that the skin does feel different. I close my eyes, try to follow the ridge with my finger. When I look again, my finger is still on the scar in the reflection.

It's not the mirror he's distorted, it's me.

Right, Hermione. And the only hope you've got of fixing that is to get him to give your memories back.

But I'm not sure I want to remember how I got that scar. Isn't it better not to know?

Not if you want to get out of here.

I straighten up, and open the door.

He's still standing behind the desk. His hand is resting on a piece of parchment; beside it is a quill and inkwell.

He's put his glove back on.

"Ready, Miss Granger?" He smiles. "Good. It's time for you to start earning your keep. I've borne the expense of keeping you safe for long enough."

Safe? I glance at my arm.

He shrugs. "Well. I can't protect you from your own wilfulness, can I?"

He's still smiling as he waves me to the chair. I sit, fixing my gaze on the quill. I can't look at him: something in that smile is making my flesh creep, and I'm not sure if it's something I remember or something I don't.

"I hope you took in everything you read just now," he says. "Because your next task is to summarise it."

I look at him. "Summarise Chapter Twelve?"

Like being back at school. Essay writing I can do.

"Summarise Chapter Twelve," he echoes. "In Dolohovian notation, please. With specific reference to Hagalaz Fields. For the purpose of the exercise you can assume the House-Elves are human."

With particular reference to what?

"No need to look at me like that," he says. "And you needn't pretend you don't understand. I know I didn't take those particular memories."

I think back. Hagalaz, Hagalaz... it translates as hail, symbolic of destruction or catastrophic change – I remember that from school. But Hagalaz Fields? I can almost see a meaning, like a shadow on the edge of vision, but it fades away every time I turn towards it...

He frowns. "I thought you said you weren't going to be difficult."

"I'm not." My mind's on the problem, not on him. If I assume he's telling the truth – big assumption, I know, but it's all I have to work with – he really expects me to know about Hagalaz Fields, or whatever they are, either because he saw it in my memories or because it's something to do with what's happened down here. And if it's true that he didn't take that memory out of my head, then it must be in there, somewhere...

But I can't find it. Perhaps that's the problem – having a memory stored is one thing, retrieving it is quite another. If he's taken away the links to those memories, I won't be able to access them.

And if I can't get to them I can't do what he wants and he'll think I'm trying to spite him and he won't give me my memories back-

Don't panic. Think.

But I can't help it. Is this what it's like for people who can't do exams?

Though most exams aren't set by people who've just sucked all the relevant knowledge out of your head.

I have to try to explain. It's all I can do.

"Mr Malfoy?"


"I- I can't remember anything about Hagalaz Fields. If you really want me to do this, you'll have to give me some memories back."

He folds his arms. "Oh no, Miss Granger, I'm not playing that game. Why should I go to the trouble of restoring your memories before you've convinced me you're willing to put them to use?"

"But I can't! It's not that I don't want to..."

He looks at me, eyes narrowed. Then he shrugs, and picks up the parchment. "Have it your way."

He turns his back on me. And that dismissal kills any hope I had of a future. What's he going to do: just leave me down here, mindless?

"All right," I say desperately. "I'll try."

He looks around, one eyebrow arched. He holds my gaze for a moment, then shakes his head as he hands me the parchment.

"You've lost your fire, Hermione."

Isn't that what you wanted?

Never mind that. I have to focus on doing the impossible.

Maybe if I ignore Hagalaz Fields for the moment, and just try transcribing the House-Elf information into runic equations? He seems to have left me most of my Hogwarts memories, at least, and perhaps using those will lead me to the right place.

But 'just transcribing' the information is easier said than done. I'm wasting too much of the parchment crossing things out, and the way he's sitting back and watching me with that sickly superior little smile isn't exactly helping.

Ignore him.

But it's all too easy to let my mind skitter away from the Arithmancy. Codifying instructions for House-Elf enslavement is hardly my top lifetime priority, after all. And though I can construct runic expressions for fear and security and loyalty, I can't see how they connect. If only I could understand it! At least then I might be able to see how to reverse the process and make some good come from this...

Perhaps this mysterious Hagalaz Field of his is the link, then.

That doesn't help. Have I really done this before?

I try to work backwards. If Hagalaz can translate as reshaping, I can write it in as a transformative operation between the formulae I already have... But that's only naming the process, not explaining it. I'm missing something.

I can't see it. I stare at each quilled rune in turn, willing them to spark off the memory I need, willing the equations to resolve into meaning.

They don't. I can't do this.

I must be able to do it.

Not if he's deliberately set me something impossible. For all I know he's making the whole Hagalaz thing up.

Is he expecting me to fail? I glance in his direction, but I can't read him.

His lip curls as my gaze meets his. I duck back to the parchment – but he snatches it away and scans down my workings.

Then he tears the parchment end to end, and throws it to the ground.

"What nonsense is this?" he snaps. "I've already told you not to waste my time!"

"I'm not! I am trying-"

"Did I ask you to try?" He stands, pushing back his chair. "No. I set you a task, and I expected you to complete it. But you couldn't even manage that one little thing. Or wouldn't!" He strides round the desk. "I've given you every chance, Mudblood! What do I have to do to get you to show some respect?"

He's standing over me, his eyes hard and glittering. I shrink back into the chair but there's nowhere to go. I'm shaking my head, I realise. He's looking murderous and I don't understand him at all.

"I couldn't!" I find myself speaking. "I mean, maybe I do have a memory about Hagalaz Fields, but I can't get to it if I can't remember anything it links to!" I'm babbling, he's raised an eyebrow in pretend disbelief, and in desperation I say, "Please! You don't understand-"

"Don't tell me what I don't understand!" Suddenly his hand is on my throat, pushing my head hard against the back of the chair.

I swallow. His eyes bore into mine. I can hear his breathing, loud and harsh.

I can feel my pulse, beating out under his fingers.

And then he smiles.

"Oh, I understand you, little one. So willing to play reasonable when you want something, so full of petty defiance that you'll even go against your own interests to prove a point..."

He releases his grip on my throat, raises his hand to the scar on my left cheek and traces it with a finger.

I don't move.

He leans in, so close that I can feel his breath as he murmurs, "So, what is it that you want this time?"


He's still smiling... I hate it. It's hard enough to guess what he's up to when he's frowning, but that smile is a mask that covers everything except its own falsity.

"Do you want to die?"

The question pins me like a poison arrow. But I manage to shake my head. An automatic answer. I'm not sure it should be.

"No," he says quietly. "I didn't think so. Which means we have a problem, you and I."

His gaze is locked on mine. I try to keep my expression blank.

"You say you want to live," he goes on, "yet every time I offer you a chance to make yourself useful you refuse. And as much as I've – enjoyed – our little sessions together, I cannot keep a useless Mudblood parasite forever."

I stare down at my hands. He wrenches my chin back up. I'm trapped. There's nothing I can say, nothing I can do...

"So, you're not even going to argue with me? What game are you trying to play, Miss Granger? Because it can't last for much longer."

That's so unfair! I'm not the one playing games! What does he want?

I breathe deep, trying for calm.

He's just looking at me, eyes narrowed.

And suddenly I find I can speak, as if the answer is written there in his gaze. I feel oddly peaceful – not trying to pierce the armour of his arrogance, not trying to defend myself, just stating the truth. There's nothing more I can do. Nor anything less.

"I was telling the truth, Mr Malfoy. I can't remember anything about 'Hagalaz Fields'. I can't make things join up in my head. And if I try too much, if I force memories to join up where they shouldn't, then the other memories won't fit. And then I won't be able to think properly, and I won't be any use to you anyway. Is that really what you want?"

For a moment I'm sure he's going to hit me. But then he chuckles.

"Bravo, Miss Granger. You're starting to think like a Slytherin. Do go on."

I don't want to think like a Slytherin.

Oh, for Heaven's sake! You want your memories, your mind, your self back, don't you?

And it's not about me at all. When it comes down to it, this is all about him.

"It's up to you, Mr Malfoy. I told you I'd do as you ask if you gave me back my memories, and I- I meant it. I can't make you believe it, but whatever it is you want me to do, you need to give me back my memories if you want me to do it."

This isn't negotiation – I have nothing to negotiate with. It's the simple truth. And the simple truth is that there's nothing I can do or say to persuade him.

Is that what he wanted me to admit?

He smiles. "Stand up."

I'm trembling slightly.

He points away from the desk. I walk across the room. He follows me.

Was that some kind of test?

And if it was, have I passed?

"Turn around."

I do as he says.

He looks at me, sweeping his gaze from my face to my feet. I stare straight ahead.

He paces round me; I can almost feel him inspecting me from every angle.

I take a long, shaky breath as he stops in front of me.

"So," he says, "at last we're facing reality. No temper tantrums, no insults, no stupid pride. Just an acknowledgement of the way things are. Isn't that so?"

I watch him warily. "Yes." If you insist.

"Yes what?"

I suppress a sigh. "Yes, Mr Malfoy."

He nods. "You know, I find that almost convincing."

What does he mean, almost?

"You see, Miss Granger, you present me with a dilemma. Let us say that I choose to believe that you truly cannot complete the task I set. Let us even say that you mean it when you say you would do it if I returned those memories to your empty little head. But how am I to know that, once I've gone to the effort of doing so, you won't go back on your word?"

He steps back, tilting his head to the side as he watches me. I frantically try to think of a response.

He raises an eyebrow. "That's right, Hermione. I have yet to see a demonstration of your good will."

I stare at him, bewildered. "But... I can't! That's the whole point of what I was saying!"

"Can't?" His mouth twitches. "I thought Gryffindors weren't allowed to give up that quickly."

"But I've told you, I can't do it without my memories! Why can't you see?"

Because he refuses to see. He's just standing there, eyes narrowed, utterly implacable. Is he just going to abandon me here?

Any calm I felt crumbles under a flood of despair. I run at him – it's wild, stupid, but anything's better than just waiting for him to do his worst.

"What do you want?" My voice breaks. "Why don't you bloody well get on with it!"

He catches my wrists, holds me at arm's length.

And we stand there. I can't hear anything except my gulping breaths as I stare at the floor, struggling for control. A tear escapes, rolling down my cheek. He grips both my wrists in one hand, reaches up and wipes the tear away.

And the worst of it is that part of me longs to respond to that crumb of comfort, to reach out, to be held – even though I know he hates me and would throw my weakness back in my face.

I look up at him, and his face is so hard that it's all too obvious he doesn't care at all, and that almost starts the tears off again. I blink them back furiously.

When I look again, he's smiling – a smug, predatory smile. "What I want from you," he says quietly, "is respect." His voice hardens. "I thought by now I had made that abundantly clear."

Respect. How can I prove I respect him when I don't?

He lets go of me. I rub my wrists.

He tilts his head to one side as he watches me. "I want you to demonstrate that you can keep your word," he says slowly, "even when you hate yourself for doing it."

Those last words chill me to the bone. He's never been that... explicit before.

Or maybe he has. Maybe he's been playing this again and again and again.

That's not helpful, Hermione. Think!

But I can't. That's the whole sodding problem, isn't it?

His smile widens.

"And come to think of it," he says, "perhaps that little test I set you wouldn't have been sufficient after all."

I feel sick.

"I- I don't know what you mean."

He's still smiling. "Oh, little one – I think you do."

I stare at him.

Oh no. Oh no no no no no no no.

My hands clench. I turn away.

A mistake.

His hand twists in my hair, and I'm staring at the ceiling unable to think of anything except the pain and the rough edges of the triangular piece of stone above my head.

"What's your problem?" he hisses. "Do you know how many of the highest-ranking witches in Britain have thrown themselves at my feet? And you, a Mudblood, dare to turn your back on me?"

He... What?

I gasp out a reply. "Would they throw their daughters at your feet too?"

His fingers go rigid against my scalp. I don't dare breathe.

"Ah." He's speaking almost directly into my left ear. "But I don't know their daughters nearly as well as I know you, now, do I?"

He slides his left arm under mine and pulls me back, holding my body against his – just like when he was taking my memories. Suddenly the smell of him is overwhelming.

He's warmer than I remember.

I shiver. My mind desperately scans for an escape I know isn't there.

He releases my hair, running a finger down to my jaw and curling it under my chin, holding my head in position as he lowers his until his cheek is almost touching mine.

I'm trembling, though I'm willing myself to turn to stone.

Or is it him that's trembling?

His left hand curls around my waist. "It could be so easy, you know..."

And for a brief crazy moment I could just lean back, let myself be held by his strength instead of fighting it, and let him carry me into oblivion and do whatever he wants because any sort of contact would make me feel less isolated in these blank places in my mind and though it's horrible and I know it's wrong, the wrongness feels right, somehow.


I claw at his cheek, push his head back as I struggle to be free of him. He pushes me away. I spin to face him. My hands are clenched. So are his.

"So go on then," I snarl. "Do it!"

There's no smile on his face now.

"I could have done anything to you from the moment you got here," he says. "But that would prove nothing. The 'doing', Miss Granger, has to come from you."

I stare at the ceiling.

All right then.

I can't.

It's that or die – and even if he'd use the Killing Curse instead of flaying me apart or just leaving me here to starve, I don't want to die. Perhaps I should, but I don't.

I look at him. And he understands, I'm sure of it. It's written in his smile.

Oh, God...

He points his wand at me. "So tell me, little one. Yes, or no?"

I close my eyes. Yes, he understands, but he wants me to say it.

For a moment, all I feel is pure hatred. I suppress it. Not useful.

My nails are pressed hard into my hand – any harder and I'd be bleeding. If I'm not already.

"Yes. Yes, Mr Malfoy."

"Good." The word comes out clipped, hard.

His robe rustles. I stand rigid, waiting.

But he doesn't touch me. The chair scrapes the floor. I open my eyes.

He's sitting with his elbows on the armrests, leaning back and calmly regarding me over the tips of his steepled fingers.

What now?

He says nothing.

Did I misunderstand him? What does he want me to do?

He just sits as if carved in stone.

I watch him, watching me, watching... until I can't look any more. But I snap my gaze back to him. I don't want to give him the excuse...

But he's still looking at me, as if he didn't notice at all.

I shift my weight from one foot to the other.

He blinks.

I try not to squirm, but I can feel my cheeks going red.

What does he want me to do?

Well, okay, I'm not stupid: I know what he wants me to do, at least I think I do. But I don't know what he wants me to do.

I take a step forwards, then stop myself. I don't want to do the wrong thing. Nor do I want to go near him before I have to.

He leans to the right, resting his chin on his hand, still gazing at me. Implacable.

I look at the ceiling. This is horrible, I hate it, I don't know what to do. Just thinking about it turns me to ice...

But I fight down that wave of hysteria.

When I look at him again, there are frown lines on his forehead.

Bastard. What the hell does he expect, anyhow? A sodding strip show?

Oh God. Help me.

Though standing here like an idiot is almost worse.


I look at him.

He looks at me. His left hand drums the armrest.

I look down at my hands.


I jump.

"What are you waiting for?" he says. "Begin!"

I open my mouth, but no sound comes out.

He lets out an exaggerated sigh. "I didn't realise I had to give you step by step instructions. You can start, Miss Granger, by taking off your robe."

I stare at him for a moment.

Sod you, 'Mr Malfoy'.

I pull off the robe and fling it to the floor.

He smirks momentarily, then points.

"I don't recall giving you permission to be slovenly. Pick that up!"

The bloody arrogant bastard! Who the hell does he think he is?

But I bend down to do as he says, folding the robe in my arms.

Fine. So now what am I supposed to do with it?

He's not giving me any clues, of course. And I refuse to stand in front of him stewing in uncertainty.

I walk to the desk, put the robe down, make sure it's folded so neatly even he can't complain, and walk back to my place.

He stares at me coolly for a full minute. It's hard to keep from folding my arms across my chest, but I resist. I will not give him the satisfaction of telling me not to.

I am me, I tell myself. I am me and I will not be ashamed just because he's looking at me.

Finally he nods. "Very well," he says, beckoning. "Come."

Just do it. Don't think.

I take a step towards him, and another-


He's holding up his hand.

Oh, what now?

He smiles lazily, crossing his legs.

"On your knees, Mudblood. I want to see you crawl."

I stare at him.

That twisted, manipulative-

"Why?" I cry. "I'm just a Mudblood, aren't I? Why do you want to..."

He raises an eyebrow. "Want? Who said anything about wanting? I require it, Miss Granger, which is something else entirely."

He points at the floor again.

I blink back tears. I will not be ashamed because of what you make me do.

I keep my gaze locked on his as I lower myself. And when I am kneeling, gripping my knees hard enough to hurt because at least the pain gives me something to focus on that's not him, I keep my head held high, matching his sneer with a cold stare of my own.

But... being in this position, looking up at him... it's too hard to keep pretending it doesn't matter.

I look at the floor.

"That's better," he drawls. "Perhaps Draco had the right idea after all."

Oh God. Has Malfoy seen me like this?

I can't look at him, I can't.

The chair creaks as he leans forward. "Come to me, Hermione."

Half of me wants to scream at him; the other half wants to curl up and sob. What I do is concentrate very hard on the rough stone beneath my hands and knees as I move towards him.

At least this way I can look at the floor instead of him.

I hate that he used my name. 'Mudblood' is his bogeyman, born of ignorance; 'Miss Granger' gives at least the illusion of distance. But when he calls me 'Hermione', it's as if he's clipped a leash to my soul.

He's pointing at the floor to his right. Good – easier not to have to stop in front of him. I reach the chair, pressing myself against its legs as if I could shelter under it.

I should stand up, face him, show him he can't take away my dignity.

But I can't.

The only thing I'm aware of is the pressure of the chair leg against my shoulder and the stone against my knees. Nothing else feels real.

I'm not here. It's not Hermione who's doing this.

I flinch as his hand touches the back of my neck.

He rests it there for a few seconds, or minutes, or hours, then traces along my spine.

It tingles.

I feel sick. I can't go through with this.

You don't have a choice.

He lifts his hand away.

And I feel it again: on my hair, moving over my neck and down to the base of my spine. As if he's stroking a cat.

I tense, waiting for the next touch.

It doesn't come.

He doesn't say anything.

What happens now?


My knees hurt.

"Hello, Hermione." His voice is quiet. It makes me shudder.

He'll want you to answer.

I can't.

"Charming as it is to watch you quivering at my feet, it's not going to get us very far, is it?"

I shake my head a fraction. Stupid: I don't even know if he's watching.

I wish he'd go away.

"So I think it's time for you to stand up, don't you agree?" There's a silver thread of menace running through his words.

I can't.

You have to. Don't think about it.

I'm not here, after all. It's not me doing this.

So I let that silver thread drag me to my feet.

He slides his hand onto the small of my back, holding me against the chair. I grip the armrest.

He smiles. It takes every ounce of self-control to stop myself from twisting away and running to the other side of the room.

"Now, that's much better, don't you think?" he says. "Now we can see each other."

Too close. I can see every pore, every line on his face. And he can see... everything.

I'm going to be sick.

Bad idea, Hermione. It probably wouldn't go down well.

He raises his eyebrows. I stare back, rock-like. He shrugs.

"I must admit, Hermione, I was expecting a little more participation from you. Do I have to take all the initiative?"

He stretches out the fingers of his left hand, reaching up towards my face. His sleeve slips down his arm.

And it's there: the Dark Mark, pulsing black against his white skin, twisting.

I can't!

I jerk sideways, desperate to get away.

But he grabs my right arm with his left hand. I try to pull away but he drags me in front of him. My legs press against his knees.

"Oh no," he says. "You don't get to change your mind now. You know what I am – I've never hidden that from you."

But knowing and seeing are two different things. I can't just... give myself to a Death Eater.

Like it would be any easier if he were unMarked?

He's right. It's not that he's a... one of them. It's that he's an evil sadistic bastard.

His right hand presses on the small of my back again, drawing me even closer until I'm standing between his legs. Trapped.

He lets go of my arm to lift his up in front of me.

"Take a good look, little one," he murmurs. "Let's not have any illusions."

I'm probably supposed to react, with that thing two inches in front of my nose. But my brain is numb. I look past the Mark to his face, his eyes. So many shades of grey, none of which combine to make anything human.

Familiar, though. Familiar at a level beyond memory. More familiar than his hand warming my back, or his robe scratching my bare legs.

Familiarity isn't safety, but I cling to it anyway.

He lowers his arm.

"So, Hermione," he says quietly. "Show me how much you want your memories back."


The thing is – oh God, this is embarrassing – I don't know what to do. Viktor tended to take the initiative when it came to... well. And he... he's had so many more years of experience. Whatever I do... What if he just laughs at me?

He raises an eyebrow. "Hmm?"

"I... What do you want me to do?"

The corner of his mouth twitches.

"Touch me."

I swallow. The twelve inches between us feels like a mile.

Act, observe, analyse: it'll stop you from feeling.

So part of me does, while the rest of me watches.

His fingers curl against my back as I raise my hand to his face.

I touch his cheek. He flinches. His eyes keep their hold on mine.

His skin is dry: not exactly rough but not smooth, either. Like touching my Dad.

I push the thought away. I can't think about that, that's somewhere else, someone else. Those grey eyes and the hand on my back define the limits of my world. The real me is outside it.

This me imitates his earlier action, moving my hand down his cheek, along his jaw, under his chin... and, not knowing whether to repeat the motion or to do something else, I hesitate.

What the hell am I supposed to do when he won't react?

I take my hand away.

And finally, he speaks.

"Well, that was scintillating."

I look down – no, not there – up, to my left, to the wall. He reaches up to my chin and turns my head back to face him.

"Come on, Hermione," he drawls. "You can do better than that. Or were you lying about your willingness to do as I asked? Perhaps you don't want your memories back after all?"

How dare he? As if I had a choice!

And I will not hand him the excuse to bury me here. This is not impossible. Horrible beyond horrible, but not impossible.

So I lean forward, with my hands on his shoulders and my fingers curled round to brush the back of his warm, soft, don't think about it neck. He jerks his head away.

I move closer, so that my nose almost touches his. All I can see are his eyes: wide, grey, cold, his pupils widening in my shadow.

His shoulders are tense under my hands.

"Is this better, Mr Malfoy?"

He can't quite hide a grimace.

No, somehow I don't think it is...

Ha! So he wanted participation, did he? I'll show the bastard!

And I can't believe I'm doing this lower my head, my lips towards his-

Our noses bump.

I blink.

And I cry out as he grabs my hair and wrenches my head away from his. Now he's the one leaning forwards and I'm bent back, staring at the ceiling and trying to remember to breathe.

His right hand slides away from my back. I take a half-step back but he twists his left hand in my hair, holding me just as surely and far more painfully than before.

And his fingers are on my breast, rolling my nipple-


He pinched it! That hurt.

"You are pathetic," he says. "Didn't your Bulgarian boyfriend teach you anything?"

"He's not my boyfriend."

He laughs, loosening his grip on my hair just enough for me to look at him.

"No," he murmurs, raising a finger to my throat. "He's not, is he?"

He traces a line down, between my breasts, over my belly...

I squirm. He smiles. His finger continues its path.


I beat at his hand but it's between my legs, thrusting up and oh God it hurts, hurts, hurts even to move and as I whimper with the pain of it he jerks my head to one side and clamps his lips over mine.

I freeze rigid.

He pulls back a fraction. "What was I saying about participation, Mudblood?"

I'm strung taut between pulled scalp above and the raw agony of his hand below. I have no choice.

I let my jaw slacken as he pushes his tongue between my teeth. Horrible, horrible, the taste of him as he slimes into every corner of my mouth.

Lavender's voice echoes in some corner of my mind, giggling: some joke about snogging older men.

But this isn't 'snogging'. This is invasion. A slow, deliberate staking of territory that he doesn't even want.

So he claims.

He sits back at last, his lip curled, his left hand reaching for a handkerchief and his right still painfully there.

"Well, well, Hermione. That was delicious." He smirks, then leans over and spits on the floor.

Oh, how I long to do the same!

He straightens, wipes his mouth carefully on the handkerchief.


He freezes me in his gaze. The black of his pupils is edging out the grey. I can see myself reflected there.

He trails his hand down my right arm.

"So, little one," he says softly, "shall we see what else you have to offer?"

He seizes my wrist, twisting it up behind me, forcing me to turn as he pulls his other hand out of me. He wipes a cold trail down my back.

And he's standing, pushing me towards the corner of the room. Where the bed is looming, its heavy curtains gaping as if waiting to swallow me whole.

But I don't have to feel fear now. I just need to get through it.


He's close behind me. I can feel his robe brushing the back of my legs.

He stops beside the desk, takes out his wand.


The darkness is absolute.

He holds his wand against my stomach. The wood is hard and cold.

Slowly, he moves it up, letting it absorb my heartbeat, pressing on my breasts so that I have to lean back against him. Finally he lays it across my throat.

I hear his breathing and my breathing, shallow and fast.

His robe is scratchy against my back.

"No magic, Hermione," he murmurs. "Not this time."

His breath warms my ear. I shiver.

He places the wand on the desk, a loud clear clack of wood on wood, then pushes me forwards so I stumble, barely keeping my balance.

And now there's just him and me, my legs pressing against the bed and the dark pressing in on us both.

"Well, get in!"

I jump at his tone, scramble to do as he says.

The sheets are soft under my hands. It doesn't feel right.

I'm going to wake up in a minute. This can't be happening. The first time was supposed to be with someone special, someone I loved and who loved me in return.

Not... this. Not his hard and clinical touch on my shoulder, back, legs, preparing for a consummation of hate.

He's not even taken off his gloves.

"Good girl," he says quietly. "You see? A little obedience doesn't hurt, does it?"

No. It just locks me up and throws away the key.

He speaks again, more quietly still.

"Lie on your back for me, Hermione."

I don't dare disobey. But Hermione won't have to. I'm sending her away, rolling her up into a little ball and pushing her into the back of my mind. Somewhere he can't get to her.

Every instinct screams at the rest of me to curl up, to melt into the wall or the darkness, but all I can do is lie here. Waiting.

The roaring in my ears can't drown out the silken rustle as something falls to the floor.

Remember summer at Grimmauld Place, joking with Ginny about what wizards wear under their robes?

I really don't want to know.

The mattress dips under his weight. I strain to watch what he's doing but it's impossible to see anything in this non-light.

"Don't move, little one."

Run! Get out now! Grab his wand from the table and go!

But the bed creaks – he's kneeling over me. His robe falls in heavy warm folds across my legs.

Too late.

I wouldn't have had a chance anyhow. Even if he hadn't ripped all the useful spells from my mind, getting away wouldn't give me my memories back.

He plants a hand near my head, close enough to warm my shoulder. I still can't see.

And his other hand is on my belly, immobile.

I lie rigid, trying to feel the sheets beneath me more than the heat of his hand. Half of me is screaming at him to just get on with it. The other half wants time to freeze for ever.

His fingers move, warm leather on cold skin. He traces circles around my belly-button, slides down my waist to make the sensitive skin there flinch.

And he's cupping my breast, holding me between thumb and forefinger as I hold my breath, waiting for him to pinch like he did before.

But he just pulls slightly, and moves to the other.

My hands twitch, longing to slap him away. But I can't. This is my only hope.

"I'm not keeping my little pet Mudblood waiting, am I?" He's trying for lazy amusement, but there's an odd angry tightness at the core.

He's not talking to you. He's not talking to you. He's talking to his image of you.

He laughs, and lifts his hand away.



And the layers of fabric on my waist are moving, pulled aside as his hand burrows under to where my legs are locked together.

No... no... no...

I let my inner voice moan away in the background. It's stupid, trying to avoid the inevitable, but it can't help it.

He's resting his hand on my tight-squeezed legs, one finger brushing the crevice between them.

I wait.

He waits.

Can I wake up now?

His breathing is slow, deep, trying to be steady.

I know what he wants.

'I want you to demonstrate that you can keep your word...'

I wonder how long he'd wait?

'...even when you hate yourself for doing it.'

There's only one choice. I just don't know how to make it.

'I must admit, Hermione, I was expecting a little more participation from you.'

Hermione isn't here.

Just me, him, his hand. Waiting.

'...even when you hate yourself for doing it.'

But I don't hate myself. I hate him. Hate him, hate him, hate him.

I won't let him win.

To stop him winning I need my memories.

I bite my lip, hard, and try to make my legs relax.

But it's so hard, harder than I'd ever have thought, to know the enemy is hovering there, poised for destruction, and just to... let him in.

Tears puddle in my eyes. I let them flow over. It's not as if he can see.

I can move my legs. I can. It's not as if they have to move far, just enough...

And it doesn't matter, anyhow. I'm not here, not really. He can't touch me.

I hear him exhale as he pushes his hand between my legs. And a quiet grunt as he rocks on his knees and hooks his ankles round mine to pull them out in a wide 'V'.

no no no no no

I twist, kicking to free my feet but he's trapped my legs under his and I can't move as he leans forwards and slaps me.

I gulp at silence.

He can hear that I'm crying, he must do, even if he can't feel my tears on his glove.

"It's hard, isn't it, to lose your illusions?" His voice grinds through the darkness. "To face the myth of control over your life for the hollow lie it is. To know that another's will matters more than your own..."

He trails his hand down my body.

Yes, I get the point: I can't stop him. But I can hate him – he can force me to do God knows what, but he can't take that away.

His hand brushes my legs again... I'm so, so glad I can't see the expression on his face as he touches me where he has no right to touch me, knowing that I know there's nothing I can do about it.

Get off me, get off me...

But he's leaning forward now, his hands on either side of my head taking his weight from my legs.

His hair brushes my shoulder.

And between my legs, I can feel...

I curl my fingers against the mattress, gripping the sheets as if they're an escape rope to a realer world.

"Relax, little one." That hated voice, purring venom right above my head. "I wouldn't want to hurt you now, would I?"

The bastard's right – about relaxing, that is. He wouldn't give a damn about hurting me. Probably he'd prefer it that way.

But this is just my body we're talking about, not me. I've sent 'me' away.

So I should keep her body safe. I can do this. I can let him do this.

And I can make him pay for it later.

I breathe in, slow and silent. Hold my breath and the quivering tension – and release them both.

He breathes out too, the air whistling through his teeth.

A split-second movement and OOooooooow oh my god help stop stop it hurts hurts hurts-

He grunts. Withdraws. Sandpaper, scraping, burning...

People do this for pleasure?

But people survive it, too. I just need to let him do what he's going to do.

But it hurts-

He thrusts in again and I hear myself whimper because it's pain like I wouldn't believe. It can't be right that it hurts like this, it can't!

I grip the mattress to lever myself away from that terrible penetrating pain but his weight on my legs keeps me trapped so I claw at his face crying out for him to stop stop stop-

He seizes my wrists and presses them down, stretching out my arms across the bed.

"Oho. So you do know how to make it interesting."

I twist and struggle but I can hardly move at all.

I can hear his breathing, fast and shallow.

Again, the scraping and burning and thrust forward – and I scream. I know I should lie here in frosty disdain but I can't separate myself from the pain-


He lowers his head, his cheek against mine, his mouth against my ear, his hair across my face...

"You are mine, Hermione. Don't you understand that?" His voice quivers taut. "I can do whatever I want with you. And I will."

He's on me, around me, in me. I can't see him but I can't breathe without smelling his putrid sweat.

"You belong to me." Hissing voice, surrounding me in the darkness. "Do you understand?"

I whimper my assent. Anything to bring this to an end, to get away, to put a distance between us. Anything to see his ugly face across a desk instead of having his ugly self on top of me...

"Say it!"

"Yes." My voice is barely there but sod it, he's close enough to hear. "I belong to you." But I don't. I don't. I don't!

"Again!" he snarls.

"I belong to you." In your sick and twisted dreams.

"And who are you?"

I squeeze my eyes shut, but the tears ooze out anyway.

"No one."

Scrape thrust scream

"Not good enough, little one. Who are you?"


'Me' isn't here. I sent her away.

"Have you forgotten your name? Who... Are... You?"

He makes me punctuate each word with a scream.

Bastard... bastard... bastard...

I know what he wants. I mumble the word through my tears.


Hermione isn't here. She isn't.

"Hermione," he breathes. "And who do you belong to, Hermione?"

No one.

"Y-you. I belong to you."

"You belong to me what?"

I drag the words out of God knows where.

"I belong to you... Mr Malfoy."

No I don't.

He lets out a long breath, eases himself out of me.

Is that it? Please God let that be it.

I'm shaking. I can feel him trembling too.

Then his hands grip mine and he pushes into me hard and fast, ripping a scream from the bowels of my being. Which he stifles, his mouth pressed onto mine, his tongue stabbing down to devour all of my pain, my hate, my fury...

My surrender.


He lifts his head. I gasp for air.

Oh God oh God oh God...

What's the phrase – lie there and think of England?

But this is England, this privileged bastard spouting platitudes in the public light of day and letting the ugly truth loose where no one can see...

He withdraws. I brace myself. And again I scream, but this time I jerk my head to the side, sucking in a mouthful of his hair as he tries to find my mouth and fails.

Then I feel his teeth on my neck.

Ohmygod. He's biting me. He's actually biting me. Too much, too much...

I'm shaking.

He lets go. But his stubble is still scraping my neck as he nuzzles under my chin-

I hold myself rigid as his teeth close on me again. I can't pull away – what if he doesn't let go?

His teeth clamp my skin – a long burst of pain sharpened almost to sweetness against the rough raw soreness below and the aching pressure on my legs and hands. I can't help whimpering, holding still only because any movement hurts so much more...

Stop snivelling! Don't give him the satisfaction!

I swallow, grasping for some self control, curling and uncurling my toes.

At last he lifts his head and I can breathe freely again.

It... it doesn't feel like it's bleeding.

I let out a shaky sigh of relief.

His head bumps mine as he scrapes out and in and the pain below swamps the pain above.

He's breathing hard, deliberate breaths. I'm trying to be still and silent.

He moves my hands above my head, pressing both wrists together into the mattress. And of course that leaves him with one hand free, one hand to trail down the side of my head, one hand to stroke my cheek as if he can actually feel something through his glove.

He lifts his hand away. So he can touch me anywhere, now, as if where he is touching me isn't enough.

I brace myself.

I am completely unprepared for the slap. I cry out as my head is wrenched to the side.

He spits on my face. "Shut up, you stupid Mudblood whore! Isn't this what you wanted?"

He convulses: I gasp in pain as he gasps for breath.

He's lost it.

I thought I was afraid before, but I was wrong. That was anger, shame, disgust. But this...

I didn't know what to be afraid of.

He grabs at my wrists with both hands, stretching my arms apart as he pushes in again.

"You forced me into this, you uppity little bitch." His voice is low, twisted almost beyond recognition. "You couldn't just accept your place like everyone else, no, not you. You had to make me prove it. Happy now?"

He's breathing quickly. Too quickly.

"Answer me!"

What the hell do you want me to say, you crazy inbred pureblood?

He pulls back, slowly, drawing out the pain. Pushes forward, as if to squeeze every last bubbling sob from my throat.

"You are disgusting." His voice shakes; he holds it tight-reined. "What makes you think I should bother with you?"

That pathetic whimpering noise is coming from me.

"Tell me!"

I gulp.

"I belong to you." It's the only thing I can think of.

He lets out a shuddering breath. I moan as he drives into me again.

His words come out in a hiss. "Say it again."

"I- I belong to you." No...

He thrusts; I scream.


"I belong to you."

"And what does that mean?"

"I... you..." I'm crying for real now, I can hardly get the words out. "You-can-do..."

"Say it so I can hear it, Mudblood. Like you mean it!"

"You can -" sniff "– you can do anything... Anything!"

The last word comes out in a howl as he forces himself into me again and again. I'm only dimly aware of his fast whistling breaths beyond the pain and the sobbing...

I lie limp, tears flowing down my cheeks. If he wants to see my pain, I'll show him my pain. He'll only make it worse if I don't.

But it hurts... hurts... hurts... hurts... hurts... hurts...

Until he grips my wrists hard enough to stop me crying, gives out a horrible high shuddering yelp – and is still.

Oh God...

It still hurts.

He heaves himself up; the rush of cool air makes me shiver. I curl up, away from him, holding my knees to my chest.

I want to forget this forever.

Only a few more minutes. Just wait for him to go...

But all the baths in the world won't scrub this away.

His robes swish; he's picking up whatever underthing he dropped earlier.

Go. Just go. Go away and leave me in the dark.

The bed sags. His hand is on my shoulder. I shudder.

"Oh, don't be like that, little one." His voice is low and quiet.

I curl up tighter, curl into myself, away...

He touches the back of my neck. But it's not his glove I can feel.

"Ah..." He bumps his naked finger down my spine. Revulsion mates with cold hard fear.

The bed creaks. He's leaning over me; I can feel the heat from his body.

"You thought we were finished, didn't you?" His finger reaches the base of my spine, nestles into the curve beyond.


His voice purrs in the darkness. "On the contrary, Hermione. We've only just begun."