Author: blacksouledbutterfly (me)
Summary: Perhaps that is foolish, but have you ever loved someone so much, so completely that you stop existing because they are there? Hermione Granger's seventh year is about to get more complicated than she thought possible.
Chapter 1: Missing
Night passed in one quick motion, the hours bleeding together. Ginerva Weasley spent the rest of the night, after leaving her friend to visit her secret admirer, in a peaceful sleep. She had no idea what had happened out at Dumbledore's grave. Truth be told she didn't even notice anything wrong when awoke the next morning without Hermione's voice telling her to wake up like it normally did.
She was so oblivious to what was going on that she didn't even notice Hermione wasn't there. Until her brother mentioned something.
As Ginny made her way down into the common room to meet Harry and Ron, she could hear her brother's voice calling up the stairs. "Would you two hurry it up?"
Ginny scowled as the reached the landing. "What do you mean, 'you two'?"
"You and Hermione, of course."
"Hermione's not up there."
"What are you talking about? Of course she is."
"Um, no, Ron, she's not. I just came from up there. She's not there."
"Well, then where is she?"
Ginny placed her hands on her hips. "Do I look like I'm her keeper, Ronald?"
"No, you're her bloody friend. That means you should know where she is."
"Last time I checked, Ronald Weasley, you were her friend as well, and you don't know where she is either."
"She's probably down at breakfast already," Harry said, though he wasn't quite sure. Hermione usually waited for them before heading down. Then again, if she had an important matter to attend to, there was a possibility that she headed down without them. "Why don't we just go down there and look for her?"
Ginny glanced quickly at Harry, then shifted her eyes away from him. Even now, after all these months, the idea of him wanting to not date her, to protect him, stung. "That sounds like the best plan. Certainly better than yelling at each other." She glanced pointedly at Ron.
"Ginny, if you weren't my sister-"
"You'd what? Run and tell Mum I was being mean to you like the baby you are? Very mature Ronald."
For the most part is was a normal morning. Except for one small thing. Hermione wasn't walking down to the Great Hall with them. But to add to the mystery, once they reached the Great Hall and scanned their table, they found, to their dismay, Hermione wasn't in sight. Not only was she not there, but upon questioning the other Gryffindors it was found that none of them had so much as seen her all morning.
Ginny glanced back and forth between the two boys. "I think we should split up and look for her. She can't have gone too far, fight?"
Ron nodded his head, but only slightly as if not too convinced. "Right. I mean, she's smart, she can take care of herself."
Harry gave them his most encouraging look. "Right."
Still, despite their confidence, in the pit of Ginny's stomach something knotted. She had a bad feeling, one that told her something had happened to her best friend. She pit her lip and chastised herself for thinking such things. Hermione was a smart and capable witch. Surely she was just sitting in the library studying too hard like she always did.
But then, why did she have this terrible feeling in her stomach that she couldn't shake? Because I'm worried, she thought. I'm worried something happened to her last night. I sent her out there, and....oh, Merlin! If something happened to her I will never be able to forgive myself!
Her worst fears were only about to be confirmed: Hermione could not be found through out the castle. Even when they appeared in Professor McGonagall's office, asking if she had any clue as to Hermione's location, it yielded nothing, except for McGonagall promising to keep a sharp look out for her, and her asking the trio to inform her if Hermione did not show up within the next hour or so.
Upon realizing that Hermione was not going to be found any time in the near future, that cold feeling in the pit of Ginny's stomach grew to a three ton bolder made entirely out of a piece of a glacier shipped from Antarctica. She knew then that something had happened to her best friend, something terrible, something that she was the cause of, however indirectly.
The three of them returned to the common room, the two boys racking their brains to find out what may have happened to their overachieving friend.
Ginny sat in silence for a while, listening to the boy's come up with their theories.
"Maybe she went home. You know, to visit her Mum and Dad."
"No, Ron. She wouldn't just leave. We have a long parchment due on Monday. She would spend the entire weekend working on it. Not to mention that she would have to tell Professor McGonagall if she was going to leave school grounds." He took a deep breath. "Maybe she found a place to go to be alone and think."
After listening to the theories that Ginny could feel weren't true for what seemed like hours, Ginny sighed and took a deep breath. "I...I don't think any of those theories are right."
"Well, what do you think happened Ginny?" Ron seemed almost too worried to even snap at her.
She suddenly felt so weak. "I'm...I'm sorry. I should have told you earlier."
"Told us what?"
"I wanted to tell you, but I was afraid you would be mad at me-"
"What did you want to tell us?"
"-so I decided that telling you wasn't such a good idea, and at first I thought that she was just in the library but I realize now that she's not, and I-"
She closed her mouth with a snap. "What?"
Harry reached over and put his hand on top of hers. "Ginny, calm down and just tell us what you wanted to."
"Hermione went out last night."
"What do you mean she went out last night?"
"She went out...last night. She got...she has been getting letters from someone, someone anonymous. She was down here reading them, you know. She was...I don't know...she enjoyed reading them I guess. And well...she got a letter from the person last night...so...so she went to meet with them. It was like two in the morning...and she never...I guess she never came back...and...I'm so sorry."
The two boys just sat there in silence for a moment while Ginny shook, not with tears, but with fear and frustration.
"Gin," Harry started as calmly as possible. "Where did she go to meet with them? Do you know?"
She shook her head. "No....no I don't. I wish I did....but I don't."
Hermione Granger awoke with a splitting headache. She groaned softly, slowly regaining her senses. She could feel a cod, hard surface pressed against her cheek. As her mind slowly began to clear she came to realize that she was in fact lying on the floor of a basement.
She sat up slowly, groaning at the effort it took to do so. She was sore all over.
She glanced around the room. Nothing really. Just an empty basement and a staircase opposite her. Taking a breath she sighed. "This is bloody brilliant. What have I gotten myself into?"
She braced herself to try to stand, but found she couldn't. Her mind raced. What was wrong? Why couldn't she stand? Was she paralyzed? Poisoned? Was she still too out of it to realize she was chained up somehow? Each prospect frightened her in a way she had never felt before.
"Hello?" Her throat was dry, and it hurt to scream, but she wanted to be sure someone heard her. "Hello! Is anyone there? Hello! Somebody! Somebody please answer me! Hello! Can anyone hear me?"
The door at the top of the stairs opened and a beam of bright light shot down into the room. Hermione ducked her head to protect her eyes. "Bloody hell, would you keep it down? You're giving me a headache." The door creaked shut and Hermione listened as someone began their descent down the stairs. "You know you're loud enough to wake the dead, don't you?"
Hermione glanced up to find Draco Malfoy, sitting calmly on the bottom step of the stairs. "Well good! If I wake the dead then maybe someone will hear me and rescue me!"
Malfoy tilted his head to one side. "Rescue you? Rescue you from what?"
"But I haven't done anything to you that would warrant a rescue."
"You kidnapped me!"
Malfoy chuckled slightly. "Yes. Yes, I suppose I did, didn't I? Funny thing to forget something like that, isn't it?"
"This is not funny!"
"Granger, do yourself a favor and stop yelling. You're going to lose your voice if you keep that up. Just try to calm down a little bit."
"Calm down? Calm down? I will not calm down!" She glared at him. "I am locked in a basement with a killer in front of me! I will not calm down!"
Unfortunately that was the wrong way to say, because when blinked and then Malfoy was in front of her, face pressed close to hers. "I am not a killer. I did not kill Dumbledore, and you bloody well know it."
"You might as well have."
"Well, I didn't, did I?" He sneered at her. "And you think you're so smart. Don't tell me you don't know the difference between doing something and not doing it."
"Malfoy, you bloody git, you caused his death!"
"Did you stop to think that maybe Dumbledore would have been killed anyway?" He shook his head. "Granger, you are a dense fool. I didn't kill Dumbledore. Oh, believe me, I was supposed to. But I didn't. I couldn't."
"Too powerful for you, was he?"
"No. I didn't want to kill him."
She scoffed. "I don't believe that for a single moment."
"Your problem then I'm afraid." He shrugged casually, as if it meant nothing to him. "But either way I am not a killer, so if you would please keep your voice down that would be greatly appreciated."
"Keep my voice down? Why should I when you have me locked up in a basement?"
"Locked up?" Malfoy looked thoroughly perplexed. "What are you...oh, bloody hell! Granger, you aren't locked up! The effects of the spell are still wearing off! You can't move entirely yet, that's all. Please, give me a little credit. Locking a girl up in a basement is a little poor in taste, even for me."
Hermione frowned. He may very well have been telling the truth. "It doesn't matter. You won't get Harry here by keeping me here. He won't fall for that."
"Granger, you aren't bait. I'm not trying to lure Potter here. I don't want Potter here. I want you."
"Why? What can I possibly do?" He didn't answer her at first. "What do you want from me?"
"Your help, Granger. I want your help."