Chapter 65: A Seat at the Table
A/N: I know I said I wouldn't leave any warnings, but I think this chapter needs one - it's a bit...graphic. Just be warned. Hope you enjoy!
Song: Castle - Halsey
“My Lord”, Hermione said as she bowed her head and kneeled on the floor in front of him. The silence was painful in the room of Death Eaters, echoing in her ears. Her former schoolmates all had their jaws to the floor, Draco gritted his teeth visibly. She was just grateful Bellatrix wasn’t there...she would have skinned the bitch without hesitation.
“Oh, ‘my Lord’ now, is it? From the lips of a mudblood at that”, his voice slithered into her ears, invading her senses in a slimy, nails-on-a-chalkboard type of way. An intruder in the chambers of her mind. The entire room laughed loudly, she smiled softly.
“While I loathe my lack of pureblood genetics, I’ve come to my senses and thoroughly regret my contribution to the resistance pre-war. I’d like to formally apologize, my Lord, and offer my assistance”, she said, meeting a set of grim, red eyes. The words tasted bitter on her tongue.
Voldemort tilted his head curiously at her, sizing her up. “And what exactly do you have to...offer?”, he asked as Nagini circled her like prey. She didn’t budge, didn’t flitch, didn’t even blink. Her insides were screaming but her outsides gave away nothing.
“I believe that the Incendiaries are related to the former resistance members, and I know you need to be rid of them. Sooner rather than later. I want to serve you, my Lord”, she stated. She had to play dumb, as if she didn’t know that the Incendiaries definitely were former resistance members. As if she didn’t know exactly who they were. But she couldn’t play too dumb, she had to make herself an asset. Indispensable.
“Doesn’t take a fucking genius to figure that one out”, one Death Eater commented before muttering, “filthy fucking mudblood”. The entire table burst into laughter...everyone except Draco, Pansy, Daphne, and Blaise.
“True, yes...I suppose my question is - why? What has changed in the past seven months at Malfoy Manor that you suddenly have changed your allegiance? You’ve been no more than a prisoner...with very poor conditions at that”, the room snickered, remembering her torment on Halloween.
“I can’t complain about my treatment - I’m aware my blood purity is well below anyone here and my past called for it”, knives raked the words up past her throat and flung them off her tongue. “But, Fore-Minister Malfoy was gracious enough to offer access to the one thing that mattered most to me - books. Education. The library. I studied for months, in detail, the history of wizardy. It’s clear to me now that the wizarding world is far superior to the rest of it. I was wrong”, she wanted to cough, to gag, to spit at his feet. But she progressed anyway. There were more important things than staying honest about your beliefs in moments like these.
Voldemort nodded, narrowing his eyes at her. “What is your offer then?”
“I can get them here. The Incendiaries. As one of the trio, I know I can draw them in. I believe that was your intention from the beginning - you are, after all, the greatest wizard of all time. I can get them here within the week. Of that I’m certain”, she stated confidently, eyes firm on his.
“Are you expecting to take the Dark Mark?”, he challenged. Her blood ran cold as ice, freezing in her veins and stalling her heart.
“If it is your will, my Lord, I would gladly do so”, she answered calmly. She fought the urge to flinch, to scream, to cry. How’s this for acting, Draco?
The entire room gasped at her response, but Voldemort flashed a set of small, decaying teeth. It was hideous, and wreaked of death as it flooded her nose.
“We’ve never had a mudblood with a Dark Mark...I’m afraid I can’t stoop that low, my dear, but I’m flattered by your...enlightenment”, he stated, toying with his frigid fingers. “However, I want proof of your allegiance...I’m sure you understand”
She couldn’t breathe...wasn’t sure she ever would again. What could he possibly want me to do?
“Warbeck!”, Voldemort shouted towards the door and a young Death Eater entered, very young. He couldn’t have been older than thirteen. Hermione imagined the nervous boy in his third year at Hogwarts before the bombing...she quickly wiped the sweat from her brow. No weakness. Don’t have it, don’t show it.
“Kill him”, Voldemort commanded. Hermione stared in shock, pupils blown wide and heart thudding in her ears.
“My Lord, I would...but I don’t have a wand”, she tried to excuse. He nodded in understanding.
“Ah ah ah, I can’t trust you with a wand yet. Will a steak knife do? Or would you prefer a fork?”, he asked, causing everyone to erupt in laughter. Her hand ached at the memory. She had a scar there now as well.
She nodded in agreement before turning to the boy. He was visibly shaking. His green eyes and dark hair reminded her so much of Harry, it made her nauseous. He was a child. But this was for Harry. For Neville. For Narcissa. For Ginny. For countless others. This was the only way. Right?
Hermione watched him take a few steps back, but she was prepared for that. Don’t think, just do. She waved her hands and ropes appeared out of thin air, binding him to the floor by his elbows and knees. He looked absolutely petrified, tears already forming in his eyes, skin reddening from the ropes.
The entire room gasped at her wandless magic. Oh, she had been practicing. And she quickly found she was much more powerful than she knew. She cast a quick glance at Lucius although she knew he couldn’t see her. She had him to thank for her new trick.
Voldemort smirked and chuckled - a gravelly, repulsive sound. “Interesting...very interesting”, he commented.
Hermione took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and willed herself to find the strength to do what had to be done. She opened them with deadly intent. Even Draco looked nervous. She strode to the table where all the Death Eaters sat and picked up a large, serrated steak knife.
Her eyes turned to the boy, but he went out of focus. Just a figure. No face. No green eyes. No dark hair. She walked up to him and swiftly plunged the knife into his stomach. The boy screamed, his voice cracking, tears filling his eyes. She ignored it.
Moving higher, she stabbed him in the chest - right in the center. Almost done Hermione. It’s a show. You have to make it a show. And then she remembered Draco’s method - all the bloody photos she had seen. That’ll do it. That’ll be enough.
She rose from where she had kneeled in front of the boy and walked around behind him. Placing a delicate hand on his cheek, standing where all the shocked faces could get a clear view, she pushed the knife sideways into the boys neck and sliced into it until blood splattered everywhere, coloring her face and clothes like paint. She closed her eyes, breathing deeply and casting a quick spell on the boy so he would simply pass out as he bled to death. It would simply appear he went into shock.
She wanted to do it before, but she needed him to scream, or they would’ve known something was wrong. But she couldn’t get past what she had done. Her heart pounded, threatening to jump straight out of her chest. Her eyes were dark, her body felt heavy, but her veins were thrumming with power. She risked a glance to Draco, he looked...she wasn’t sure. He looked horrified, turned on, impressed, surprised, disappointed. If there was a description of it, it fit. It was utterly unreadable, as if he was flickering through his own feelings and trying to determine one that fit.
Hermione scanned the rest of the table, finding variations of shock and laughter. Finally, her eyes met Voldemort’s. He laughed viciously, clapping his hands in amusement.
“Looks like you’ve learned a lot while at Malfoy Manor”, he remarked, “including ruthlessness. Well done, Draco. And well done my dear. I never thought I’d see the day a Gryffindor from the Golden Trio killed an innocent without hesitation under my command.”
Hermione grinned at him. I did it. I fucking did it. I killed a child...I fucking fooled Voldemort...but I killed a child to do it. She wasn’t a legilimens or occlumens, but she tried her best to push it to the side. Sacrifices had to be made. They had to be.
“Congratulations Miss Granger, I believe you’ve earned a seat at the table”