Playing with Fire

Chapter 9: Pig for the Slaughter

Song: One Way Or Another - Until The Ribbon Breaks

After drying off with the towel Hermione was given, water still dripped from her damp hair, leaving her freezing in the unheated dungeon. Making her way across the cold, hard floor was like walking on ice just to get to her clean clothes.

Bopsy had informed her that she was required to bathe this morning, despite the fact that she had done so the night before. She supposed one bath in weeks must not have been enough to rid the stench of dirt and blood from her hair, skin, and under her nails.

She began to dress in the clothes Bopsy had brought her. A black jumper, leggings, and black socks that came just above her ankles. No shoes. She supposed she didn’t need them anyway - it wasn’t like she could run anywhere. There wasn’t anywhere to go...

Bopsy had taken her old and worn trainers days ago, which had been falling apart at the seams, leaving her barefoot - her toes turning blue if they weren’t under the quilt on her cot.

There was no comb or brush, so Hermione softly dragged her fingers through her curls to rid them of as many tangles as she could.

When Bopsy appeared again, she told her to put her hair up. “What for?“, she asked her.

“Bopsy is not to be answering questions for prisoner! Bopsy cannot! She-“, Hermione cut her off.

“Okay, okay, I’m doing it”, she tried not to roll her eyes. It’s not her fault she tried to remind herself. Bopsy handed her a black scrunchie, why all black? She swept her curls into a loose ponytail that swung against her back.

“Prisoner is to drink this!“, Bopsy said, handing her a vial of deep red liquid. She cringed. The vial was oddly warm, blood?

“Bopsy, what is-“, she could barely get the words out before Bopsy went into a frenzy all over again. She ran around the room in circles sobbing.

“B-bopsy c-c-cannot! S-she c-can’t! Bopsy-“, Hermione grabbed the elf by the shoulders.

“I’m sorry, okay? I’ll drink it. Just stop crying”, she told her. Bopsy sniffled and wiped away the remaining tears, staring at Hermione hopefully.

Hermione pulled the stopper out of the vial and smelled it - iron, parchment, lavender, and, peppermint? She couldn’t place everything. It was undoubtedly a potion of some sort. But none she had ever come across.

With hesitation and shaky hands, she downed the potion in one gulp, choking on the thick, warm liquid and cringing at the taste that the odd mixture left on her tongue.

Bopsy grabbed her hand, “it is time! Bopsy is to-“, Hermione cut her off, “yes, I know.” Bopsy frowned, but continued holding her hand and led her up the stairs, unlocking the door with magic when they finally reached it. She was finally leaving the dungeon. Finally.

~~~

After going up many sets of stairs, Bopsy knocked on a dark, oak door before turning the knob and opening it.

“Bopsy is bringing the mublood to Master Malfoy!“, she greeted Malfoy excitedly.

“Thank you Bops”, he called her. A nickname? Interesting.

Bopsy waved goodbye to Hermione - she wanted to hate Bopsy for calling her “mudblood” and “prisoner”, but she simply couldn’t. She had a good heart.

Malfoy gestured for her to take a seat next to the table he stood at. It had clearly been positioned there for her. As soon as she sat, ropes shot out and bound her wrists and ankles to the seat.

“Surely this isn’t necessary! Do you truly insist on being such an insufferable git all the while knowing very well that I won’t resist? It’s not as if I have my wand or anything!“, she shouted at him, struggling against the ropes.

He didn’t acknowledge her. Had barely looked at her if at all, since she entered the room. There was a tattered journal open in front of him, littered with chicken scratch writing. How could he even read that?

“Oh, so it isn’t enough for me to sit in solitary confinement all day and night, now you force me to sit here, tied up, while you refuse to speak?“, she was furious. They were former classmates. Was he as evil as they always thought? All she wanted was to wrap her hands around his neck and squeeze until his cold eyes popped out of his skull. Merlin, that was a dark thought even for her.

But she couldn’t help it. As far as she was concerned, he was responsible for this. The outcome of the war. All the dead. Even for his dead mother. He deserved all of it. He stood by and aided Voldemort, and now Hermione was here because of it.

In a sudden burst of anger she spat at his feet.

He disappeared the liquid from his shoe without so much as a glance. She huffed in frustration.

She began to look at the table. Aside from the journal, there was a cauldron bubbling - the aroma of charcoal, and - iron? Again?

“What is that?“, she demanded. “What the hell did you make me drink?”

Finally he pulled a knife from the table and began to walk towards her. Her blood went cold. She felt the color drain from her face. All of this for what? Just to kill her now? Slit her throat as she bled out in this chair, in his home? She wished she would’ve died at Bellatrix’s hand that night. It would’ve been easier.

He paused, glancing at the scar that read “mudblood” on her forearm. She couldn’t read his expression. But she couldn’t show her emotion either - she would deflect.

“Come to give me a matching scar on the other arm have you?“, she narrowed her eyes at him. His eyes looked dark, focused, as if he was trying to push something to the back of his mind.

He placed one hand to steady her wrist where she was shaking, and used the other to place a small slit over the throbbing veins. She winced and cried out as he held up a new vial to collect the blood escaping from under her skin.

He filled the vial about halfway with her blood, before slicing his own wrist, and filling the rest of the vial with his own. Mixing pureblood and mudblood? The irony. She almost snorted.

He poured the vial into the cauldron and it roared loudly, emitting a puff of red smoke in the shape of a dragon. She stared at it in awe.

He ladled some of the potion into the goblet and strode back across the room to her. His eyes finally met hers and she looked at him challengingly. “There are easier ways of poisoning me, Malfoy.”

“Believe me Granger, if I had any, it certainly wouldn’t be wasted on you”, he retorted with an uncomfortably stoic face. What the hell did that mean?

He held the goblet up to her lips and she quirked a brow, refusing to open her lips.

“For once in your life can you just not be so bloody insufferable?“, he said angrily, staring into her eyes with daggers.

She stared back with daggers of her own. “Insufferable? Funny coming from you”, she said, pressing her lips together tightly.

Without warning, his left hand shot up to grip her chin hard, fingers wrapping around her throat. The rings on his fingers were icy cold against the skin on her neck and jaw. His silver eyes bore into hers, sending an unfamiliar chill up her spine.

“I tried to do this nicely but make no mistake, I get what I want, and not even you can get in the way of that Granger. Now open wide, or I’ll make you”, he said with a growl.

She gulped hard with fear and obediently opened her mouth, allowing him to pour the contents of the goblet into it. His eyes remained on hers until she had drank every last drop. “Good girl”, he told her, turning to grab his wand from the table.

There was a strange stirring in her stomach and she didn’t like it. She attributed it to the unidentified potion she just downed.

He walked to her side until he was standing next to her, focused with his wand on her left bicep. She didn’t dare turn her head.

He began waving his wand in strange patterns she didn’t recognize, and began to speak in what sounded like latin.

A sudden pain shot through her entire body and she cried out in response. It lit up with a red light - blood red - and appeared to make a path cohesively and slowly to her left arm where Malfoy’s wand was pointed.

She felt a knife begin to dig into her arm and she gasped, turning sharply as much as she could while tied to the chair, to look at him. She was shocked to see he was still chanting and waving his wand, sweat forming at his brow, with an almost pained expression on his face.

She redirected her gaze to her left upper-arm and stared in shock as some invisible force carved into it, letting blood flow freely. It glowed in the dim room, as red as her blood, which she was sure was a surprise for Malfoy that it wasn’t as brown as mud. She would have laughed if she wasn’t in so much pain.

When his spell appeared to be finished, the wound stopped bleeding, leaving what appeared to be a blood-red dragon, wrapped all the way around her bicep like a cuff or tattoo. The same dragon that appeared to have come from the potion’s smoke earlier.

“Tell me how you feel”, he said hesitantly.

“I feel like I just got bloody carved into like a piece of wood! How the hell do you think I feel?“, she shouted.

He nodded slowly, strangely, as if pondering something.

He subsequently called for Bopsy to lead her her back to the dungeons but she planted her feet hard into the ground once her bindings were removed.

“Wait!“, he stared at her, waiting, “I...please. At least tell me...how long it’s been”, she begged.

He paused for a moment but then responded flatly, “Almost three weeks.“.

Her bottom lip quivered. Almost three weeks since she watched Harry die. Since they lost. She nodded softly and then turned to go with Bopsy, the house elf’s hand hanging in the air, waiting for her to grasp it.

And now she was branded. Like a possession. Like a pig for the slaughter.

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