Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters: Hermione, Bellatrix, Griphook
Summary: Following the ordeal of Malfoy Manor, Hermione takes one last dose of Polyjuice Potion.
For seemingly the hundredth time that morning, Hermione reassured herself that, yes, this was absolutely necessary. For Harry. For Ron. For the entirety of magical and non-magical civilization, for Merlin’s sake!
Eying the flask where it rested on Griphook’s bedside table, she reflected on her morning thus far. Not ten minutes ago, she had slipped quietly out of bed, hesitating to watch the sheets gently rise and fall as Luna slept on in peaceful innocence, oblivious to Hermione’s departure. The moonlight shone iridescent in Luna’s tangled hair as the distant crash of the waves provided a solemn backdrop. There was something tragic about departing from the simple serenity of their borrowed bed-space and ducking out to face the uncertainty of the future, however necessary the task might have been.
And now she could not tear her eyes away from the flask, so insignificant and ominous in tandem. Within, she knew that the thick, muddy dose of Polyjuice Potion bubbled sluggishly, awaiting its final ingredient. It too rested on the bedside table, a single coarse strand of black hair which somehow seemed to scream of it’s mistress’s wickedness. Although Hermione would be the first to confess that this characterization was admittedly a bit illogical, adding this final ingredient was perhaps what terrified her the most. Much like Bellatrix’s slender, walnut wand, all of the Death Eater’s possessions sent shivers of revulsion down her spine.
So for the moment, she gazed on, struggling to beat back the memories of Malfoy Manor as Griphook observed impatiently from the doorway.
Blinking she was back there, bound by rope to her fellow prisoners.
“All except...except for the mudblood.”
From across the room, Fenrir Greyback gave a muted wheeze of satisfaction.
In that single moment Hermione felt her blood freeze. She was dimly aware that Ron was shouting, struggling against his bonds, but in that instant everything else seemed far away, at the end of a distant tunnel. In her mind’s eye she was remembering a blistery winter day two years previous in London. She remembered the blank stares of Frank and Alice Longbottom as they shuffled past their son, unable to truly recognize Neville as their own. She too remembered the witch responsible for their madness. Bellatrix paced before them like a lioness, the thirst for the kill gleaming hungrily in her eyes.
Abruptly, Hermione was thrown back to the present as Bellatrix lunged and slapped Ron across the face. The sound reverberated throughout the room, seemingly in time with the rapid palpitations of Hermione’s heart. In the ensuing silence, Bellatrix’s voice cut the air like a knife.
“If she dies under questioning, I’ll take you next.”
She didn’t remember much else after that. Except for the pain.
“I’m going to ask you again! Where did you get this sword? Where?”
“We found it -- we found it -- PLEASE!”
Fiendfyre coursed through her veins, burning every inch of her as Bellatrix sneered down from from above. She remembered writhing on the floor, her body contorting with each fresh wave of the Cruciatus curse. She bit her lip, fighting not to scream, but the sound bubbled forth seemingly of its own volition. Sometimes her screams seemed to commingle with the deep cries of another and in those moments she heard her disembodied name float out upon the air as though spoken by an angel.
Where were they? Where was Harry? Where was Ron? Why hadn’t they come?
The angel’s voice sounded desperate. She wished that it would stop making such a ruckus and come to take her already.
A sob. “Hermione....”
At some point the pain ebbed away and in its place came foggy, half-imagined nightmares. Flashes of light danced across her vision and all too soon there was nothing but darkness, a darkness that seemed to last forever.
She wasn’t sure how much time had passed before a gangly nose swam into focus and she found herself squinting into eyes of the deepest blue.
And here Hermione thought that she had escaped with her mind in tact. Now she wasn’t so certain. Hands trembling, she reached for the flask and added the hair. The second that it touched the potion, the thick liquid began to froth in earnest. She held it at arm’s length, waiting as it finally settled into a rancid shade of viridian. In the lamplight it gleamed like the carapace of a particularly repugnant beetle.
It looked absolutely nauseating.
“Granger!” Griphook barked, gesturing for her to get on with it. He continued to hover in the doorway, the expression on his pointy face mirroring the tone of his voice. He was right though. Already dressed in borrowed robes, there was no reason to hesitate.
Fighting back a wave of panic, Hermione took a deep breath and downed the potion. She gagged, slamming the flask down on the table loudly enough to make Griphook flinch; in the silence of cottage, the abrupt crack resounded throughout the room like a shot from a cannon. The goblin’s scowl deepened but Hermione took no notice.
Bellatrix tasted absolutely awful. Hermione didn’t have much time to reflect upon the taste though as she felt her limbs immediately begin to lengthen. Dark black curls sprouted from her head and in moments she was staring down at the hands which only days earlier had held a dagger to her exposed throat. She felt the sudden wild urge to scratch off this new skin before she calmed herself. She squeezed her eyes shut.
Take deep breaths, she reasoned. You’re not her.
Oh, but you are. You have to be.
She fought down the queasiness. She fought down the fear. When she opened her eyes, she took effort to hold herself carelessly, her expression half veiled and eyes heavy lidded.
“Let’s go,” she breathed. Even as the sound sent a bolt of pain through her chest, she shook off the surprise of hearing herself speak in the deeper tones of Bellatrix Lestrange.
Shaking her head, she clutched her beaded bag and they were off into the unknown.