Chapter beta: Dani
Chapter translator: Aivy
"Then you are worthless!" The icy hiss echoed in my head and I panicked. I did not let go of him, held him in my mind after he had shouted this loudly for everybody in the hall to hear, and pulled him deeper, groaning in pain as I mentally clung to him, like I had done to Severus before, showing him my inferi!
The act of strength made me squinch my watery eyes shut tightly, yet I offered him the memory: how I fetched two corpses, without scruples, how I modified them, how I awakened them cold-heartedly, the effort and will power it cost me, but also the success I had with it, my feeling of happiness when I was the mistress of these two beings!
He witnessed how I unscrupulously controlled them and how I skillfully gave them up again and sent them into the afterlife. I showed him everything, only changing the aspect that it was my parents who I let escape in this way. I cleverly hid behind my tall tale that this was only due to my curiosity and my morbid interest in necromancy.
After he had seen it all, I collapsed, dropped to my knees powerlessly as he left my mind, and I trembled slightly with relief that I had successfully kept my most important secrets from him, although I had to play my last trump card, my most despicable and horrible deed so far, I thought, because I had played with the dead, desecrating them for my own purposes.
When I opened my watery eyes again, I saw the Dark Lord resting his chin on his folded hands and looking down at me with his lifeless, cold eyes, contemplating. I glanced around briefly in the diffuse, dim light and saw interested faces looking at us with curiosity. My three men also watched us enthralled by the scene that played out in front of their eyes.
I tried to loosen my cramped fingers and pulled my nails out of the balls of my hands where they were embedded deeply in my flesh, which made me whimper with pain.
The ache in my head made me almost see double. I then touched my chin and looked down at my hand, saw the blood and took a handkerchief from one sleeve and wiped the blood from under my nose and from my chin.
The Dark Lord said nothing, seemingly lost in thought when I took a heart and addressed him.
"My Lord, I'm good and the last-"
"That you didn't want to show me," he hissed briefly and I nodded fearfully.
"Yes, but isn't it understandable?" I asked timidly.
"Don't the three of them know?!" he laughed spitefully and sparkled at my men with amusement in his red eyes.
Then panic overtook me again and I got up on all fours, pulled myself up by the pedestal and grasped the hem of his robe, which he allowed with a wrinkled forehead.
"My Lord, I am unworthy, but please, let this be our secret," I whispered desperately as I really didn't want anyone to know that I had mastered necromancy.
"Is it so unpleasant that you forget your pride?" He was amused.
"I have no pride, it left long before I did," I replied boldly in a harsh whisper.
He laughed maliciously as he struck just like the serpent he was. At a crazy speed, he reached under the hood that had half-slipped from my head and roughly grabbed my open hair, clawed at it with his spider-like fingers, which made me cry out softly.
When he straightened back up in his throne, he pulled me painfully and roughly by my hair, so that I ended up kneeling before him.
I had whimpered when he grabbed me so brutally and my hands had automatically twitched towards his hands, but at the last minute I had controlled myself and forced myself to lower them deliberately. Hurting everywhere by now, I clenched them into fists again, moaning bitterly and biting my lip bloody.
I felt the fresh blood running down the corner of my mouth.
Being so close to him now that I could see his marble-like, pale, strange-looking skin even more clearly, I swallowed hard as he pulled me closer and closer to him. His emotionless reddish eyes captured me. Now when I saw his slit nose up close, I got big, frightened eyes as he crept closer and closer, like a snake on the hunt, hypnotizing its prey. The absolute greedy longing that shone towards me had my heart pounding like mad.
Then I felt it and my absolute nightmare came true: the horrified gasping and disgusted cries echoed twice as loud in my ears as I witnessed the Dark Lord pressing his narrow-lipped, hard mouth against mine.
I felt the cold and stiffness of his lips and when he lasciviously licked his icy, disgusting tongue across my mouth and collected the blood that covered me there, I could no longer suppress the trembling that went through my body.
A second later, he was already detaching himself from me, leaning back with closed eyes, relishing, and I was still kneeling at his feet, my head strangely twisted with his hands in my hair.
That hadn't been a sexual kiss. I would have described the Dark Lord as asexual and androgynous; he probably had no use for human desires, but what the kiss was all about, I couldn't say.
My first desperate reaction was to wipe my mouth with my hands, to scrape it off, to banish the feeling of those callous, lifeless lips on me, and it was only with difficulty that I managed to suppress this crazy and suicidal desire.
The collective horror in the background calmed down and he now spoke softly, gently and that is why everyone became quiet again so that they could hear everything:
"If one knows it, it is even tastable," HE mused reverently, slowly and suggestively.
At his words, I gasped in shock, which made him open his eyes again and gleam at me with icy coldness.
"...in your blood," he breathed and licked with relish over his now blood-red lips. It sent shivers down my spine. "... Didn't you realize that everything has a price? Do you regret it?" His questions came in quick succession when he noticed my uneasiness and he stared at me in a dissecting manner.
I thought for a moment. Did I know there was a price to be paid for necromancy? Of course, I wasn't stupid! That it stuck to you like tar, I had known; that the Dark Lord enjoyed it so much, I hadn't! Did I have regrets?
"My Lord, I was aware. I never do anything without knowing the consequences! Regret? No, not really. I would do it again anytime," I admitted coldly now, even though my scalp was aching because he still pulled at it from time to time.
"Then the three don't know what a calculating, dangerous and deceitful creature they have caught. You know what? I wouldn't even let you go for Potter after that revelation. Do you know how valuable you've become to me in this second?" I heard startled cries at this whispered confession.
I knew HE was alluding to the fact that there was no one who would voluntarily play with the undead. In addition, few people could do it. It was a high art that required a lot of power and skill and since it was so frowned upon, not many people who could do it wanted to do it. If someone did not stand behind it from the bottom of their heart, either because they lacked the ability or the will, the magic ended deadly. With this knowledge, I had fully committed myself to this magic back then in the shed and won.
Most pure-blooded witches and wizards could not perform necromancy because a dislike for this form of magic had been instilled in them, and so we, who ruled over the inferi, were rare. His gaze was pure greed to have found me, and this had been my trump card, which I had brought in coldly, calculatingly, to make myself indispensable to him.
"That was my hope, My Lord," I kept playing along, since it was true. The inferi had been my ace in the hole.
"Is that true? Amazing... Well, I grant you your request! Let it be our secret," the offer came coldly over his thin lips and I happily closed my eyes, which made him remove his hands from my hair, almost tenderly.
"Lucius, the athame," he commanded and reached out his hand eagerly for the dagger.
"My Lord," Lucius answered in a controlled manner. As he stood beside us, I saw the hard glint in Lucius' eyes and I swallowed hard, still kneeling at the Lord's feet.
"What do I see, Lucius? You are displeased. Be pleased, but I command you, do not pry into the Mudblood. She will and she must not tell you what our secret is," he threatened playfully with the athame and I saw Lucius bowing his head stiffly.
"So, Mudblood, you will be mine now," he hissed possessively, and I almost felt sick at his greedy timbre. "Where shall I mark you? I cannot burn my Dark Mark on your arm. What if Potter or Dumbledore saw it? And I don't think my Death Eaters would like it if a Mudblood had their mark in the same place! Suggestions?" he enquired in a bored voice and I heard some horrified, incredulous protests about what he was about to do.
Following an intuition, I leaned back a little, pulled the hood off my head for good, uncovered my long hair and then put my head forward, brushing the hair out of my neck and offering myself to him in a very vulnerable way.
That I had branded Draco with my mark there had given me the idea. No one would suspect that I would wear it here!
"Someone who thinks ahead, a blessing." I felt the single drop of blood that landed on the sensitive skin of my neck, and then the Protean Charm he used, which brought me to the edges of my self-control. I squeezed my eyes shut in agony and bit my tongue to nip any whimpering in the bud; I would not show any weakness in front of Bellatrix and the Inner Circle.
Then, suddenly, the pain stopped and I breathed out the air that I had held, blinking tears from my eyes and throwing my hair back into my neck and looking up.
"Welcome to the Inner Circle, my Mudblood, you may feel honored."
At the moment he said this, a shrieking, long, loud scream sounded.
Me, the first Mudblood of all Death Eaters and then again, without much difficulty, accepted into the Dark Lord's Inner Circle; that had to anger Bellatrix, especially after she, a Black, had had to fight to accomplish it for so long. What I had to offer was unique. How good I was, I had yet to learn, which should frighten me more than all previous experiences, but at this point in time this was not yet apparent to me.
"Shut her up," the Dark Lord ordered unkindly whereupon the bloodcurdling scream was cut off by a spell Severus cast.
It had been Bellatrix. It seemed someone had released her from the Dark Lord's spell. I looked at her and saw her writhing like mad, rolling her eyes until you could see the white and then collapsed!
End of Hermione's POV
I was pissed, to say the least!
Why had she not kept to the arrangement, to the agreement that we would get her when the time came? How did she know about that secret passage in the first place?
I suspected she also knew about the peepholes and had wanted to observe Draco's initiation. Had the Dark Lord discovered her and had she come out of her hiding place because of that?
But still, how did it happen that after just over a month she knew her way around the manor so well, I pondered in irritation while I saw her delicate, small figure in the attractive, medieval-looking robe that suited her perfectly and accentuated her curves advantageously, even though the hood was hiding her face right now and she kept her head down.
If the Dark Lord had really discovered her in her hiding place, I knew why she was coming towards us, as he had probably just wanted to order me to bring her here.
The way I perceived her, she would rather step into her doom with her head held high than be dragged there by me. She was quite a strong personality, which sometimes, in our dangerous situation, could be a hindrance, because we had to function as a group, as a family, we, the Malfoys, even before the Dark Lord.
I was the patriarch, she had to obey me, full stop. I had noticed that the Dark Lord had seemed to be very captivated by the wall next to the fireplace, so I had endeavored to help him, seeing how he wanted to speak to me, but in the same moment the secret door had opened and my heart almost stopped. I had raised my brow in annoyance at her impudence, but then it had been too late for me to intervene.
Noticing the jewels she was wearing - she seemed to have received them from Draco - I had to say they looked good on her, the way the emerald laid on her chest, shimmering in the glow of the greenish-white light. It was distracting.
I was struck by how proud she wore my family's crest, I was impressed by the way she pointed her measured steps towards the lord, true to herself! The others were caught off guard and taken by surprise, but also unaware of who was coming. She belonged to us; I was proud of that, even if I wanted to wring her neck right now, ignoring the fact that her death would hit me, surely more than that of Narcissa.
I hated it when I was deprived of the opportunity to act and to steer everything into the right direction.
Now, when Bellatrix freaked out, as was to be expected, the three of us formed a wall without consulting each other, stopping her and covering Hermione's back.
When the madwoman, who was raving as always, stopped, a cold smile came over my lips, because I always found it exhilarating to watch her antics. If the crazy witch continued to flip out like that, the Dark Lord would soon snap. Seeing Bellatrix acting like that, I was grateful to be rid of Narcissa forever.
Severus immediately disarmed her with a nonverbal Expelliarmus when she loudly asked for the death of Hermione, but the Lord did not seem to notice her at all, obviously too spellbound by HER.
How Hermione slowly but surely wrapped him around her finger gave me goosebumps. It was close at times and I followed the proceedings very closely, ready to step in. I knew the Dark Lord too well not to see that sometimes it was a hair's breadth away from escalating and hence the three of us were on the verge of intervening.
When she offered him in a disgustingly cheap way that he should enter her mind, I was shocked but also very indignant. I wondered, was she as crazy as Bellatrix? No one let him in voluntarily, that was insanity, but she did and he seemed to like it to some extent that it was she who had cost us a Death Eater or two.
Even the attack on Narcissa seemed to amuse him and she stood up to him, whereby she managed to earn my respect, or rather increase what she already had.
When Nott came up with the idea of using her to get Potter, I thought maybe I should slowly but surely give him a leisurely, painful death. Nott deserved that; he was meddling in things that were none of his business. It was hard for me to keep up my blank expression.
But when she claimed that she could never, ever, deliver Potter to anyone, NEVER, we saw the Dark Lord brutally attack her, take her with his brute spirit and suddenly cry out angrily:
"Then you are worthless!"
At that moment, I expected the worst. I saw Draco tense up, ready to intervene, and so was I, for I would not let her die.
I was not sure how far I would go for her, my family member whom I had fully accepted, but I would intervene. But my tension level eased a little as the scenery shifted and made a complete U-turn in a way I had never expected and never seen before.
All who were present today not only seemed baffled, astonished and horrified, but they were downright shook that we, the Malfoy family, had taken in a mudblood, even though she was not normal, as I readily and generously conceded to her.
As I said, she would not only shock and dismay the others but also us that very evening and her talent put many a pureblood to shame.
After the Dark Lord had uttered these devastating words, we could see how she probably unconsciously straightened, caught in the struggle in her head, and held onto him mentally. She seemed to be forcing him to see something and the Lord, who was never too distracted to pay attention to his surroundings, showed his amazement by bending over slightly, willingly and then something happened that the Inner Circle had not seen since the prophecy fourteen years ago.
A cruel, intrigued smile slowly spread across the Lord's countenance and his red eyes began to glisten greedily. A murmur went through our rows as we all witnessed this firsthand.
She sank exhausted to her knees, the blood dripping from her nose over her chin onto the floor. I was deeply shocked to see Hermione, who had been so strong before, looking like that in front of the Dark Lord, but what probably shocked me most was the eager look he now gave her. I had never seen anything like it in him before.
"Don't the three of them know?!" was his question, which made us all stand up straight and take notice, whereupon she did something completely unexpected. She threw herself on all fours, crawled submissively towards him, grabbed his hem timidly but imploringly and whispered:
"My Lord, I am unworthy, but PLEASE, let this be our secret!"
This was so incredible, but what the Dark Lord did then was no less terrifying. His hand shot forward and reached under her hood, which had slipped a little, and pulled her up, close to him, while he sat down on the throne again.
That he, the Dark Lord, touched a mudblood outraged even me, but then my consternation knew no bounds as he bent over, held her in place with the hand he had buried in her hair and put his lips to hers.
My stomach turned. Those rosy, lovely lips I had already tasted and against these the Lord now pressed his cold lips. All around me everyone gasped collectively and indignantly, they were absolutely shocked and I was equally horrified, but disgust also rose in me.
When he now licked over her lips, you could see her back shaking. This was the first reaction that showed me that she did not like what he was doing. And I didn't like it, too. The Dark Lord should keep his fingers and mouth away from her! I wanted to flare up, but I cold-bloodedly forbade my temperament to take over and continued to persevere, even if doing that made me not only angry but also disgusted.
My gaze went briefly and furtively to Draco. Was I mistaken or was he paler than usual? Even though he wore his mask well, I recognized in his eyes the same rage and repulsion that I myself felt.
No, I would not be disgusted by her afterwards, not at all, it was rather the thought of what she was suffering at the moment that created aversion in me.
Suddenly, the Dark Lord sank back against the hard back of the throne, his eyes closed. For the first time since I had known him, he had a satisfied expression on his face, while still holding her by the head.
His whispered words echoed loudly in my ears as he spoke:
"If one knows it, it is even tastable..." He now opened his cold eyes, which now had a new brightness all of their own. "...in your blood!"
I did not think I could hear properly; my eyes became disproportionately large. What was he talking about? What happened here?
He licked his lips, red with Hermione's blood, disgustingly slowly but with great relish. That was unappetizing, even for me, who sometimes loved bloody games, but no one played them with her against her will.
The stark, poignant contrast of her youthfulness, her feigned feminine weakness, her fragility, next to the hard, unbending and no longer human features of the Dark Lord, who had her blood on his lips, was a repulsive image even for me. She simply did not belong here, not in this circle and I had to prevent her from being on the front line; she was not supposed to get that close to the Lord and his cruelty.
Yes, I myself was a man who loved being cruel, but she was under my protection, I would not risk anything. Yet at that moment, when I saw his greed for her, I feared that I could not protect her from him any longer, that it was too late. I would do what was possible to protect her, but if there was no feasible way that would not put us all in even greater danger, I would submit to fate.
The horror of all of us was boundless, there had NEVER been anything like that before, not with anyone! I saw the crazy jealousy flaring up in Bellatrix' eyes; that was something she had always desired, I knew that. As crazy and abnormal as it was, I knew Bellatrix had always been interested in the Dark Lord in all areas.
Hermione was sure of her vindictiveness to have received something from the Lord that no one had ever received before, although I was sure Hermione would have loved to trade. She was not like that, her quivering, trembling body had betrayed her in this respect!
The Dark Lord did not do such things; this was not about sex, that was clear to me. He had never been affected by or interested in anything like that before. No, I still knew from my father that the Lord had never, in the whole time of his lordhood, had had a sexual relationship, NEVER!
During his reign, year after year, his interest in interpersonal passions had waned. This was about something else, but did that make it better?
It was about taste... What flavour did he taste in her blood?! Okay, I did not like what happened here and he gave me the next shock by giving in to her request and making her secret his and forbidding me, Severus and Draco to question her!
What happened here? He never did that, NEVER! He never responded so quickly to a request!
What had she done?! What had she done that he desired so much that he ennobled her so; that she was more important to him than Potter?
She astonished me deeply, but it also horrified me, because something that drove greed into the Dark Lord's face must be something that even we, Severus and I, were not prepared to do and there was not much of that.
I was just trying to clear my head to concentrate with every fibre on what was happening in front of me, when he hit me with the next blow and demanded the ritual dagger, which I gallantly handed to him, and when he marked her neck, he burned a much smaller Dark Mark on her than ours and welcomed her into the Inner Circle.
This could not be true! There was nothing I could do about it, so I was about to lose my temper. This should never have happened!
I did not want her in the front, never, I wanted her in the back, hidden and now this! He had given her a drop of blood, which meant she was allowed to enter the Dark Manor.
Then Bellatrix went completely mad and I swallowed hard as well, but I caught myself and walked towards the Lord, smiling, playing my role of the blissful host until the bitter end, even though I was cursing inwardly at the moment, because in my eyes it could only have been worse if he had made a clear attempt to kill her, because then I would have had to intervene and thankfully I had no need to. Even what had happened bordered on a huge catastrophe, but well, we would have to live with that, she would have to live with that.
End of Lucius’ POV
When the secret passage opened and the minx appeared, I was not surprised that she could not and would not listen. This seemed to be a fundamental problem with Gryffindors: either they had impaired hearing or an impaired sense of perception!
Both, I thought spitefully.
She looked great in a very flattering velvet dress. With the wide silver border around her robe she looked very beautiful and I was not surprised how all eyes were glued on her. I saw the greedy, lustful expression in their malicious eyes as they assessed her youthful, well-trained body, which showed to advantage in the figure-hugging dress.
I dared them to try and get closer to her!
She also held up as expected and walked courageously and without shyness towards the Dark Lord. We had to stop Bellatrix, which I did without any effort. Whenever I saw her bird's nest of hair, I often felt like I was going to throw up.
Was I shocked by the coming events around Hermione, the minx?
No and yes, it always alternated between the two! She was so considerate as to ensure that I did not get bored, I was being sarcastic as always.
When she volunteered to allow him to enter her mind, I had to stop myself from rolling my eyes over this very Gryffindor-ian gesture.
As I had already tested her, I expected great things from her when she offered to admit him willingly and the performance was worth seeing. She held her own, I was pleased. She was devilishly good to take on the Dark Lord. It was daring, but so typical for her, I thought with contemptuous cynicism.
She also seemed to impress the Dark Lord against his will.
When Potter came into play and her answer to that, something she had already hinted at to me beforehand, I thought for a moment, when the Dark Lord announced "Then you are worthless," that I would have to intervene, but she surprised me by doing the same thing to him as she had done to me: she did not let him escape from her mind, showed him something that seemed to fascinate him.
I saw how hard she strove to resist the magic of the Lord, how much she fought. Blood was running from her nose, she trembled and hit her knees, as she collapsed from exhaustion.
All I could say was: she was good, a natural at mind magic.
I had never seen the Lord so ecstatic!
When he mocked her spitefully and gloatingly, taunting her with us, her reaction shocked me somewhat and I raised an eyebrow, for she threw herself on the ground in front of him in a completely humiliating manner and grabbed his hem pleadingly. How pathetic, I thought contemptuously.
When she asked him not to tell us and to make her secret their shared secret, she made me curious what could be so important to him and so important to her that she behaved that way. This was all very mysterious and exciting.
He said he would not even let her go for Potter anymore, that was shocking!
I was shaken, but out of anger towards her. What kind of inane deed was her back-up, plunging the Dark Lord into a veritable frenzy of emotion?! It was uncanny!
My tolerance level has been reached, though, when he grabbed her, pulled her towards him so that she crouched in front of him and kissed her roughly on the mouth. I was about to lose my composure.
While he lasciviously licked the blood from her lips, I clenched my hands into fists. The trembling, which ran in surges through her petite body, let cold rage rise in me. When the grotesque grimace of his face touched her face, I could only feel disgust, because the spectacle was really unappetizing and repulsive.
Eventually he sank back into his seat and the blissful and untypical expression on the Dark Lord's features really threw me off track, me, who was otherwise so controlled, at least externally. Still, even this time I kept my composure on the outside.
His words sent an uneasy feeling through my body; my brain was running at full speed when I heard him say:
"If one knows it, it is even tastable..." He opened his eyes and showed the feeling of greed that was inherent in them. "...in your blood."
There was a rush in my ears. What the hell had she done that the Dark Lord could desire?
As he licked her blood from his lips, disgust seized me again.
Whoa. I had not figured it out yet, not on the fly, but my instincts had been roused. And then, when he told us not to question her, it was over and I had to bury my opinions and prejudices. This dangerous witch even managed to get the Dark Lord on her side! What had I been worried about? I thought very sarcastically.
Then he even branded her with a miniature Dark Mark and welcomed her into our elite circle... I was unsettled!
Where would it all end?
She was an unpredictable danger and I was a fool, I drew the scathing, annoyed conclusion!
She was a danger to us all, including Lucius and Draco. The latter I inwardly scolded as the biggest fool of us all, because he had accepted her into the family and was still proud of it as his attitude had revealed to me earlier, when he had stepped in front of the Dark Lord and showed him where he had burned his own mark on her.
End of Severus’ POV
When she entered the hall, my heart almost stopped for a moment. What was that about? That was way too early!
She had to have a good reason not to stick to the agreed plans, but still, at that moment my nerves were strained to the breaking point and I was ready to intervene immediately if it should become dangerous for her.
The tension in the hall increased immediately; Severus and Father were also immediately much more alert. At that moment, I was incredibly grateful that she had wrapped them around her finger in such a way that they would stand up for her without reservation.
I wondered if she had watched my induction and the Dark Lord had seen her and that's why she came out already? She would hardly let herself be brought to him by force, so she preferred to walk into her doom with her head held high.
She looked beautiful in the dark, tight-fitting velvet dress and against her light skin and the dark fabric, the green glow of the emeralds on her neck and hand contrasted all the more and clearly showed the Malfoy crest. My Christmas present looked incredibly good on her and she could not have chosen a better time to wear it for the first time.
I was really proud of her, but I was also worried that she had to face this situation now. The sight of her was incredibly sexy and if the situation hadn't been so precarious, I would have liked to have given myself to it more. Inevitably my thoughts wandered to the evening after the celebration, how I would help her out of this dress, which was so incredibly good looking, and how I would hold her naked in my arms.
She was my Mudblood, my witch, and a truly good choice.
Good thing that she would surely have something up her sleeve and Father had assured me that he would make sure that she would not get the Mark, but would remain a sympathiser in the background like Mother, which was totally fine with me.
She should not be on the frontline, that was far too dangerous! Even if she formally belonged to us, to my family, she was still a mudblood for the Dark Lord and how he dealt with them was well known. Besides, she was a woman who had no place in our band of men; that had nothing to do with discrimination, I just wanted to protect her.
There it was, Bella's screaming, which was to be expected when she realised that Hermione was wearing our crest.
We formed a wall in front of her, held her back and quickly disarmed her. The three of us had a really easy time with her, especially because she was so distracted by demanding revenge that we could quickly take her by surprise and I could now turn back to the essential: Hermione, who had just reached the Dark Lord.
Of course, he wanted to know to whom he owed this 'honour', which seemed to displease him, making it more of a burden, and so it was my turn to approach her.
I lined up next to her, just had to stand at her side, because that way I could intervene faster, and I also got a much better idea of what exactly she was doing.
The Lord wanted to know who had managed to get her to stand in front of him and so I confessed that I had branded her with the mark of my family, showed him possessively where, could not resist the urge to put my hand on her body. For a moment, I sarcastically and melodramatically thought that hopefully it was not the last time I could touch her alive.
I knew that I had to hide from him how proud I was of what I had done, even if it was difficult, because Hermione was my pride.
A loud murmur went through the room when everyone recognised her and I confessed that I had accepted her into the family, everybody assuming that I had taken her into my bed as well, but I had expected that too; I didn't care.
Let them think disparagingly of her, think she was the Mudblood that she was. They would only underestimate her even more, misjudge her and that would be to their disadvantage. Their arrogance would bring them down, which suited me just fine.
It was good that Father and Severus kept Bella under control when the Dark Lord asked for Narcissa, but when Hermione offered to show him her memories, I almost gasped for breath.
I knew that she was doing this well-considered and that she was certain she could stand up to him, and I hoped that she wasn't overestimating herself this time. The short battle of wits that she had exchanged with him before, when she had answered him firmly, had already been impressive, but what happened then surprised even me.
I suspected that she had managed to show him what he wanted to see. It surprised me when he actually acknowledged afterwards that she had killed Narcissa and the others too, so that he believed her and the memories she had alluded to. His next words, however, were directed at me.
It was clear that he had also wanted to see her get the mark, so she had to show him how we had sex. She certainly didn't like to present such a private memory.
"But Draco, I'm disappointed in you. Why are you going to bed with a Mudblood?" the Dark Lord turned to me lasciviously, which I didn't like at all, but well, I had to give an answer.
"My Lord, she has much to offer," I replied coldly, emphasising much too strongly that I saw her as a bedfellow, which she surely didn't like either, but there was no other way.
Unfortunately, the Dark Lord also realised that both Father and Severus saw something similar in her, for they had behaved very differently than usual during the last weeks, after all, they had kept her identity secret.
But Nott, that idiot, couldn't hold back; when he called her to bring them Potter, I was seething. Such a presumptuous fool, but I knew Hermione had taken precautions, only hopefully this was not the point at which the Lord would demand her death.
I stood next to her with the utmost concentration after he entered her thoughts again, still holding my wand, ready to defend her immediately, even against the Dark Lord.
Loudly he exclaimed: "Then she is worthless!" My heart almost stopped, I was sure, now the time had come that I had to fight for her and saw our end very close.
Because let's face it, I was not stupid enough to believe that she and I could stand against the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters. And also with Severus and Father, who I wasn't sure if they were ready to die for her and me, we would have to fight hard.
But she just managed to turn the situation around, holding him, to my horror, in her mind. I was sure she played her last ace, after all she had hinted that she still had something I did not know, but I did not like the fact that she now had to do so.
A situation never worked out to my satisfaction when I had to play my last trump card and she certainly felt the same way.
It must have been damn good what she had offered him, because he was eager to take it. Violently he now penetrated deep into her mind and I did not like to see her suffering, fighting, but I was proud too, because obviously she managed to show him exactly what he should see. She was so good at what she did! Pride and worry struggled inside of me while I kept a close eye on her.
Almost possessively, his eyes lit up and I wondered, suppressing a shiver at his expression, what she might have shown him when he separated his mind from hers.
Then she surprised me once again immensely. She had already collapsed during his intrusion into her mind, blood was running from her nose and her hands had clenched into small, firm fists, but now she was almost crawling in front of him, begging at the hem of his robe like a subservient; she had never been like that before!
She was well aware of the danger she was in, had obviously thrown her pride overboard, but what could be so important, so transgressive and so impressive that it so captivated the Dark Lord and made her beg to keep it a secret? I was very worried about her, although I didn't show it openly.
Many things raced through my mind that I knew she had done, so they were no secret; even her friends knew about them. So what was so disgusting that even we wouldn't approve, but which would fuel the Dark Lord's greed?
I could only think of a few things, but I was not sure if she had really gone that far, I couldn't quite believe it.
If everything that had happened so far had worried me deeply, had made me tense with every fiber of my being to intervene, the following clearly threw me off track.
Suddenly, he pulled her up to him, looked at her eagerly, which sent a cold shiver of revulsion down my spine and then - I really wanted to throw up at his feet - he pressed his inhuman, disgusting lips onto the sweet, soft, seductive lips of my Hermione.
I had to exert an extreme amount of self-control, clenching my fists in anger and disgust. This was not about sex, I realised that, especially when he licked the blood from her lips, but still upset me tremendously.
The Dark Lord never engaged in such lowly desires like sexuality or lust. He had so little humanity left that he didn't give in to such appetites, but still, she was mine, he wasn't allowed to do that! Apart from the fact that I saw that she was just as disgusted, the trembling that ran through her body was clear enough to me. No one was allowed to touch her like that without her permission, not even the family, not even I, that really went too far.
Fortunately, he quickly took his lips off her again, but when he licked her blood from his lips with relish and then declared: "If one knows it, it is even tastable... in your blood," I had to suppress my gag reflex once more, even though I wondered what he tasted at the same time. Hardly that she was a mudblood.
Puking at the Dark Lord's feet was certainly not a good idea, so I pulled myself together violently, fought against my anger and nausea, tried not to show too openly how much I suffered with her, but I was sure Father had noticed.
I thought that it could not get any worse now. When he allowed her to keep her secret, I was almost tempted to breathe, because she had managed to convince him and he would now release her. But I was wrong and it got worse.
He asked Father to give him the athame, which could only mean one thing: he wanted to burn the Mark on her and that with blood, so that she would belong to the Inner Circle, but that could not be allowed.
I glanced briefly at Father. He shook his head almost imperceptibly, but clearly not pleased. He could not do anything either, not now that she had appeared in front of the assembled crowd. It was bloody awful, it should not have happened like this! I had never wanted her to become a real Death Eater, had never intended for her to join the Inner Circle.
Angrily, I clenched my hands into fists at my sides, pulled myself together not to intervene impetuously; my self-control was being really strained.
She shouldn't have so much contact with the Dark Lord, shouldn't be so close to him, no, not at all. Not even Father or Severus could help me and her now.
That I became a Death Eater, that there was no other possibility and that I was aware of the honour to be accepted into the Inner Circle was one thing, but she didn't belong there.
Bloody hell, she was a witch, she should not have to move in these circles! She was not a madwoman like Bellatrix, she was my Hermione! Bellatrix was the exception, damn it!
Very upset, but devoted to the fate that I could not avert, I watched as she offered him her neck for the mark, since he did not want to sully the other Death Eaters with burning the mark onto her arm; what a degradation of her abilities, just because of her birth, that too made me angry.
They would pay for her humiliation, as it not only affected her, but also me, for I had accepted her into the family.
Of course it did not escape my notice that she let him brand her in the same place where she had given me her mark. I wondered if that had a deeper meaning for her. For a moment, my thoughts strayed, but then I concentrated again on the matter at hand, only regretting for a moment that she would probably never again put her hair up so elegantly and beautifully, because then you would be able to see the mark. I saw that the mark became really small. Maybe the Dark Lord thought along the same lines, so nobody would discover it.
The Lord dismissed her, probably for the time being, and I slowly tried to control my anger and get rid of the horror and disgust.
By Morgana, if I could erase the images of the Lord kissing her from my brain, I would have done so immediately.
End of Draco’s POV