The Sugar Quill
Author: Miss Gypsy (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: For Love Alone  Chapter: Chapter One: Taken
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For Love Alone

For Love Alone

 

Chapter One:  Taken

 

 

Disclaimer:  I own the following: zip, zero, zilch, zed, nada, nothing.

 

A/N:  Who has an absurdly fantastic beta-reader?  That would be me.  Felina Black, you are an excellent person to work with.

 

Also, this is my first attempt at a chaptered fic.  I marvel at those of you who write chapter upon chapter of fabulously entertaining action – how do you do it?  This will be nothing quite that spectacular, but I hope you enjoy anyway.

 

 

*          *          *

 

Ron Weasley sat bolt upright in bed.

 

Cold sweat ran down his face and he was breathing hard.  He glanced over at Harry’s bed and sighed with relief.  His best mate was, for once, sound asleep.  Ron saw no sense in waking Harry, so he took action on his own. He sprang out of the covers and fled from the dorm.  Visions of his nightmare pounded in his head, and he had to prove to himself that it had only been a dream.

 

Yet there was something about the feel of what he’d seen – something that left him afraid that it may have all been real after all.

 

He grabbed his broomstick from his trunk on his way out, because he knew that the stone chute would not allow him to enter the girls’ room on foot.  Alohomora!” he hissed, and the door sprang open.

 

His eyes scanned the room, searching for her. 

 

There was Lavender, lying in her bed, unnaturally still.  Parvati, in the bed beside her, was identically unmoving, and for a second Ron wondered if they were going to be all right.  But Hermione was his priority, and the bed in which she slept-

 

His mind went blank when his eyes landed on a terrifying scene.

 

“No,” he whispered, crossing the room as quietly as he could in an attempt not to wake the others.

 

The bed showed obvious signs of a struggle, just like in his nightmare.  The sheets were in great disarray and… Ron paled.  There was a large bloodstain on the slashed hangings. 

 

He stumbled away from the scene of the crime, turned on his heel, and sprinted from the dorm, crashing as loudly as he could in an attempt to rouse and warn the whole house.

 

“Professor!” he screamed as he distractedly stepped on the stone staircase.  It morphed into a treacherous slope and he stumbled down to the Common Room..  “PROFESSOR!  Someone has taken Hermione!”

 

*          *          *

 

She was bleeding, and her gaze was unfocused.  Her bushy hair was limp with a mixture of blood, mud, and slimy dungeon water, and she was shivering.

 

But none of this mattered to Hermione Granger, who was desperately trying to formulate an escape from her hold in the Dark Lord’s own private castle. 

 

She glanced around and took in her surroundings:  a dark, creepy, dungeon cell contained her by a magically locked door.  Her wand had been taken from her in the struggle to escape her kidnappers… and they had even slashed her arm open with some sort of slicing spell, after stunning Lavender and Parvati and placing a silencing ward around the room.

 

A chill spun down her spine, and she shook violently.  Her pain was dulled by the fear eating away at her heart, and her fear was numbed by the task in front of her.

 

A task.

 

Something that had to be done.  There was no choice… no possibility that she could ignore the challenge that lay before her.

 

Because if she did, she might be killed.

 

And if she was killed, she would never have had the chance to tell Ron how she really felt.

 

The thought struck her like a bolt of lightning.  What if she didn’t get a chance?  What would happen?  He would die alone and old and he never would have known…

 

She choked back a sob.

 

*          *          *

 

“Let me get this straight, Mr. Weasley,” said McGonagall, a gentle but firm look in her eyes as she stared down her nose at him.  “You say that you had a nightmare, in which Miss Granger was kidnapped-“

 

“And I went to check on her-“

 

“-and her bed was empty?”

 

Ron nodded, fighting his urge to throw himself at the professor and make her fix things.  She seemed to be delaying.

 

“Mr. Weasley, something tells me that this is much more significant than the abducting of a talented Muggle-born from our school.”

 

“Well, I think that’s a bit obvious,” he said, feeling a bit like Hermione himself.  “She’s one of Harry’s best friends, she’s a Muggle-born, and she’s bloody brilliant-“

 

“That will do,” McGonagall said sharply.  “Do not force me to dock points from Gryffindor at a time like this.”

 

Ron clenched his fists, still trying to keep himself from punching the walls.  “Where is Professor Dumbledore?”

 

“He is organizing a search party as we speak.  And Weasley,” she said, as Ron stood to leave the room, “Whatever you do, stay here.  I know that you would love to find Miss Granger…but…” she smiled sadly.  “Losing one is hard enough.”

 

Fury flared inside Ron at the look in her eyes.  Had McGonagall given up?  “Don’t you say that!” he snapped. “We’ll find her.”

 

“The Aurors may, Mr. Weasley, but you will stay here with Mr. Potter and help answer any questions they might have.  Do you understand?”

 

“Yes, Professor,” he said lamely.

 

“Very well, you may return to Gryffindor Tower.”

 

Ron left the room with a forced smile, and as soon as he was out of earshot, he took off running.  He was not sure what he would do next – find Harry?  Run into the Forest and start searching in every tree top? 

 

No matter what, he knew that there was one thing he would not being doing.  He had no intention whatsoever of staying inside Hogwarts when Hermione Granger was missing.

 

*          *          *

 

Footfalls down the hallway caused Hermione to fall back in her cell in an attempt to appear as though she had not been trying to escape only seconds ago.  A man with long, reddish hair approached her cell and smiled at her.

 

“Miss Granger, I presume?”

 

She straightened up, kneeling on the floor before him, and nodded.

 

“I would like to discuss an… important… matter with you, seeing as you have all the time in the world to do so,” he said, his eyes flickering maliciously onto the magically locked door.

 

“Well, then speak,” said Hermione, too exhausted to argue or come up with something clever to say.

 

The man conjured a gaudy cushioned chair and seated himself on the other side of her cell.  Then he leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands.

 

“Rumor has it, Miss Granger,” he began with a smile, “that you are the cleverest witch of your age, if not of the whole school, at Hogwarts.”

 

She said nothing.

 

“And, you know, a clever mind is worth more than its own weight in gold.  Brilliant people,” he said, his voiced lowering to a menacing sort of hiss, “have the power to do brilliant things.  You could do brilliant things, Miss Granger.”

 

Hermione stared at him.  Unless she was much mistaken, this man was trying to convince her to come over to the Dark Side because of her intelligence.  But his attempts would be in vain, for she knew that she would never go over to the Dark Lord’s side.

 

Never.

 

“Are you listening to me?  Miss Granger, can you not see it?”  He waved his hands in the air as if he were gesturing at some imaginary billboard.  “There is so much power out there, waiting, waiting, waiting, for those who can use it without being consumed by it.  When you become consumed by power, you effectively lose it.  Some Death Eaters…” he trailed off and glanced around nervously.  “Some get so consumed, they cannot get out-“

 

“I’ve had enough of this,” Hermione interrupted.  “All of you are consumed.  And not just by power.”  Her eyes flashed with fury.  “You are consumed with your hatred and your dreams of power, but you have nothing.  Hate is nothing.  Love is everything.”

 

The man chuckled a deep, throaty chuckle and smiled pityingly at her.  “If only you knew, Miss Granger.  If only you could see what the world holds for you… if only you would reach out and grab it.”  He wrapped his fingers around her cell door bars, and whispered, “Just give it a chance, miss.  We’ve been waiting a very long time for a witch like you.”

 

“Well, I’m sorry to say that I think you’ll be waiting a little bit longer,” snapped Hermione.  “Because I have no intention of joining your forces.  None.”

 

“Do not let what your Muggle-loving friends have pumped into your head rule your decisions,” demanded the man.  “Come with us!”

 

“Never!” she shouted, tensing, knowing what was coming next.

 

Crucio!”

 

Writhing and screaming, Hermione collapsed to the floor.  The pain was unfathomable, beyond anything she’d ever imagined.  And then it stopped.

 

Panting, she sat up, glaring at him.  “And how is that supposed to convince me to join you?”

 

“Well,” smiled the man, “If you won’t come quietly, I fear we have no choice.  My apologies, Miss Granger, but that will not be the last of things.”

 

And he stood and stalked back down the dungeon hallway, his blood-red cloak billowing behind him and leaving Hermione in his wake.

//
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