Holding on to what I don’t want to know
'Til the daylight turns to ash and blows away
Missing keys, bloody nose
Consequences of what I chose
Keep running into me; don't want my memory
It all comes so deathly
~lyrics from "Bar-ba-sol" by David Cook
"Well, wasn't that touching?"
I had stopped struggling. I stared off into the distance at where Ron had been. That was the last time I was ever going to see him. Those were the last words he would ever hear out of my mouth.
They were the perfect words.
All around me, the Death Eaters were cackling, calling me all sorts of horrible names, but I didn't care. All that mattered was that now he knew—however confused he was, he would never wonder about my feelings for him.
I glimpsed Alia in the crowd. Her eyes were watery, but she was trying not to show it. Surprisingly enough, she did not glare at me or seem angry in any way—just sad.
I gasped as I was turned around forcefully by Malfoy. He smiled wickedly and curled a lock of my hair around his finger. I shivered in disgust.
"Since you seem to have forgotten your poor husband," he said, smirking. "why don't you just kiss me too?"
As he aggressively moved in, my arm flew up and my fist met his nose with the greatest amount of force I could muster. He staggered backward, and I saw sixty pairs of wands immediately pointed in my direction.
Malfoy laughed. "Relax, everyone," he said, his eyes bright. "She's just trying to help me remember old times, aren't you, Hermione?"
I scowled at him. He had become a creature that I could not comprehend in any sort of way. I felt the blood rushing through my veins and had to restrain myself from punching him again.
His hand fell from his face, revealing a satisfyingly broken nose that was bleeding profusely. He must have seen my grin, because he laughed yet again.
"How did that feel, Mrs. Rollins?"
"Exhilarating," I replied.
"Good," he said loudly. "Now that you're in such a good mood, would you be willing to lead us to the items I asked you to get for me?"
"Here's the first one," I said, fetching the invisibility cloak from my purse and throwing it in his direction. It fell silently on the floor, and no one moved to pick it up. He smiled, obviously getting excited.
"Zabini, pick it up," he commanded, and the other responded immediately. "I'd rather not get any blood on it."
I watched as my first bargaining chip was placed into the hands of the enemy. One of the Death Eaters entered carrying a bowl filled with water and a small towel. Malfoy walked over to him and because cleaning the blood off of his face and hands.
"You certainly haven't changed, Hermione," he said mockingly.
"You have," I responded, still glaring at him. "The Draco Malfoy I knew would never have had the power or the guts to lead the Death Eaters, especially with his father around. Where is he anyway?"
His cheerful, sarcastic manner ended, and he practically ran to my side, seizing my arm and pulling my face inches away from his. His eyes were ice cold, filled with anger and contempt.
"Never think for one second that my father could have defeated me in a duel!" he sneered.
I inhaled sharply. "You killed him," I said in understanding.
His sarcastic manner returned, and he cackled at the surprised look on my face. "You really didn't think that I, the coward Draco Malfoy would be able to kill anyone, did you?"
"What changed?" I asked. I was no longer afraid of him. He wasn't going to kill me until he got all three Hallows. "Are you saying you could have killed Dumbledore yourself all along? Or are you denying the fact that you almost accepted an offer of help from him?"
His eyes narrowed threateningly. "Watch yourself, Mrs. Rollins, or I may have someone fetch your red-headed friend."
I shut my mouth tight. I knew that if they came for Ron, he would welcome it as an opportunity to maybe try and save me, in the process getting himself killed. I was not going to let that happen.
Malfoy smirked again. I was so tired of that smirk!
"Good choice," he said as he sat on his thrown. "If you must know, Mrs. Rollins, I found an object that convinced me I was meant to lead this organization."
"What was it?" I asked tentatively. I must admit, I was mildly curious.
"I'll tell you after you give us the next Hallow," he said, his tone now serious. "The wand perhaps?"
"It's where it was before your Lord stole it," I replied, feeling guilty for just giving these powerful objects to the dark side. I knew, however, that Harry and Ron would still be able to defeat them if they had possession of these objects, but if they were dead there wasn't much they would be able to do.
"In the old man's grave, then?" he asked, his eyebrows slightly raised. "Zabini, Goyle, go make sure she's telling the truth."
"Why not just let me lead them to it?" I asked as they ran out of the cave.
"Because, Mrs. Rollins," he replied, leaning forward in his chair. "I know you. Once out of this room, you would do everything you could to escape. Solution? Keep you in this room."
I sighed, knowing he was absolutely right. "You're logic has improved as well, Ferret."
His eyes blazed and he stood up. "One more word!" he threatened. He didn't have to finish his thought.
We waited for twenty minutes until Zabini and Goyle returned with the wand. Malfoy took it from them greedily, looking it up and down approvingly.
"Now, where's the stone?" he asked, handing the wand back to Zabini.
I raised my eyebrows. "You said you'd tell me about what convinced you you were good enough to lead the Death Eaters."
He sighed dramatically and sat back down. "Very well, Mrs. Rollins. It was on the same day you killed the Dark Lord before me. I had lost a ring and was looking for it in the Great Hall after all the partying was over and done with. I didn't find the petty thing I had lost, but I did find this."
He walked over to me and held out his right hand. I gasped.
On his ring finger was a very ornate engraving of the Dark Mark.
Almost as soon as he had presented it to me, he pulled his hand away, smiling in delight at my surprise. "Very nice, isn't it? I had seen it on my Lord's finger and, since I was a curious child, I tried it on. I felt somehow empowered, and aside from that, it was a perfect fit. I decided that day that I would take over the organization of the Death Eaters."
I held my breath, realizing what he was describing. It couldn't be true! We had destroyed all of them!
"You said that the moment you put it on, you felt empowered?" I whispered.
He shrugged. "Call it whatever you want, Mrs. Rollins. I assume you were right; it did change me, in a way. I wouldn't be a threat to you today were it not for this ring!" he laughed, finding himself humorous.
No, you wouldn't, I thought to myself, my pulse quickening. There was nothing humorous about what he had said. Had he never found that ring, my daughter would still be alive.
"I think that answers your question," he said, examining his ring as if he were bored. "Now why don't you answer mine?"
"It's in the Forbidden Forest," I said curtly.
His eyes narrowed. "I'm afraid we need a more exact location, Mrs. Rollins."
"I honestly can't explain it better than that," I said, my lips tight. "I guess you'll just have to take me along."
We glared at each other for a moment, then his face lightened and he cackled.
"Very well," he replied, standing. "We'll all go."
"That will hardly be inconspicuous," I said casually.
He raised his eyebrows. "Who needs to be inconspicuous? There are sixty of us. How many people are we going to come up against?"
Again, there was cackling heard from around the entire room. My arms were yanked behind me and my hands half-hazardly tied together. Zabini turned me around and smiled crookedly.
"Sure you're not in the mood for any snogging? You obviously don't care about Mr. Rollins."
I spit on him, but he did nothing but laugh and walk away.
I looked sadly at the mass of faces passing me on their way out of the cave. These people were some of the most disgusting people I had ever come in contact with, and yet I pitied them. They would never feel love, or have the joy of knowing someone returned your love. All they would ever know was lust; lust, killing, and filth.
As if confirming my thoughts, I felt Malfoy's lips touch my neck. My elbow instantly popped backward, hitting him directly in his stomach. He laughed, sending chills to my bones. I knew he didn't actually want to kiss me; he just wanted my reaction. He wanted to see me tortured.
"Let's get going, shall we?" he said, taking me by the arm. My eyes dropped to stare at his ring once more. If I could destroy that ring, I could end this reign of terror the Death Eaters were ensuing. Still, I could hardly believe that it was possible that there was another one, but there seemed to be no other explanation.
We missed a horcrux.
A/N: Tell me what you thought of this chapter!