…hey realized she was human?

She kept her eyes on the wolf in front of her, not daring to spare Malfoy another glance. Any minute now he'd do something. Any minute now.

Oh please, oh please, oh please…

He was probably just waiting for the right moment… He was probably just…

She shut her eyes tightly against a wave of misery and steeled herself to look up at him, at the calm, unaffected way he crouched there, at the loose, lazy way he held the knife, at the way he casually refused to acknowledge her and she couldn't hold onto her denial any longer.

He was just going to let her die.

It came to her with intense clarity through the fog of mindless panic, she had no reason to expect his help at all. In fact she could probably bet money that he wasn't going to help her.

She started shaking and Alekos shushed her, looking concerned in a remote sort of way.

Malfoy wasn't going to help her. Why should he? She had left him with the monsters, she had deserted him in his hour of need and turnabout was fair play. This wasn't a rescue attempt. This was revenge. He was going to stay up there and watch whatever happened to her and enjoy every second of it.

She was sniveling in earnest now and she thought she might be hyperventilating but she wasn't even trying to fight it, " I can't be your pack sister," she stuttered between half-formed sobs, trying to keep from screaming when a cold wolf nose touched her ribs, " I'm a human."

One of them smiled, a younger male with yellow eyes and a shock of short gold hair. All of them seemed different, light and dark, blond, red-head, brunette, " We will make you not human." He assured her, affecting a tone of honey-sweet reassurance, not bothering to mask the underlying patronization, as if she were too stupid to tell that he was humoring her.

" I don't want to be one of you!" she lashed out, making him dart backwards with wide eyes and his companions shout with laughter.

" This is our land and you trespassed. We will do with you as we please." A black-haired male with red eyes rumbled.

" And it pleases us that you will be our sister." The green-eyed male finished, running his hands absently over her sides.

" You've been following me." She accused.

" This is our land." The first one repeated and went back to smelling her hair.

" Where did she come from? Perhaps there are more." The young, golden-haired boy said.

Hermione shook her head, trying not lose it, trying to ignore the hands, several pairs now, stroking her breasts. She was going to go mad, she was just going to start screaming and not stop, " I… I can't… I already have a…a pack!"

A young female, dark-skinned with a short cap of wild black hair, peered at her curiously and scoffed, " The little male? He is weak."

" I meant another pack. A family." She strained against the hands but they were gripping her like iron bands.

" Where are they?" the green-eyed male asked with what was probably supposed to be an air of disinterest but she didn't like the gleam in his eye, as if he were thinking that this was good news.

" Far away… I got lost."

He smiled at her patiently," If they lost you and we found you, then you are ours. We will take care of you. You will run with us, hunt with us, play with us forever."

In her peripheral vision she saw Malfoy stir and for a wild moment thought he would leap down and to her rescue. Instead, he only stood there for a moment and she saw the truth in the bow of his head. She begged him silently, casting as furtive glance as she could in his direction, but when he raised his head slightly and she knew he was looking at her, he only shook his head in a gesture that could not be misunderstood. He turned and walked away.

No. No no no no… Please…

Turnabout was indeed fair play. This was her reward. For betraying him. For letting her guard down.

Oh, he'd gotten her good, hadn't he. Bided his time and was presented with this lovely opportunity to get even. Maybe he'd even led her here for just this purpose. Why hadn't she thought of that? He'd been just so mindful of her comfort these last few days. This was his plan all along. This was why he'd thrown away the compass. This was why he never wanted to talk about the wolves.

It was her fault. She should have expected this. It shouldn't have come as a surprise. He'd shown her what he was capable of. She was so stupid, letting him catch her off guard like this, blindly following him because she was too lost in self-pity to notice her surroundings.

So why did it hurt so badly? Why had she thought for even a moment that he would save her?

She felt herself slump, shutting her eyes tightly, tears streaming down her cheeks.

The green-eyed wolf smiled softly, pressed his forehead to hers and whispered," He's not getting away."

Her eyes snapped open as a scream rang out on the hilltop. Everyone looked up as something careened over the edge of the hill. The wolves watched dispassionately as the glowing blade stabbed into the ground some distance from them and a blond boy tumbled down the hill, something huge on top of him.

Malfoy hit the ground hard on his back, screaming, fingers locked in the scruff of the giant silvery white wolf on top of him.

The white wolf, Hermione thought in a horrified daze. It was the white wolf. The same one. The one who had chased her and killed the gheiorn.

The white wolf was growling furiously, fangs bared, straining for Malfoy's throat, lathering jaws snapping inches from his skin. The pack only watched silently, not moving.

The green-eyed wolf leaned over to whisper in her ear, stroking her hair, " It's your new king. Raziel, Der Blitz König. Our Lightening Emperor."

The white wolf's teeth sank into Malfoy's arm and the blond boy screamed, jabbing wildly for the creature's eyes, then grabbing the wrinkled muzzle, mindlessly attempting to pry it off. The wolf shifted, melted into the crouching form of a smirking young man, teeth still locked in Malfoy's flesh. His eyes were ice-blue and his longish hair was all shades of red: rust-orange and blood-red and red-gold and darker things in the firelight.

Raziel tore his fangs out of Malfoy's arm only to grab both of the boy's arms and slam them down on either side of his head, holding the struggling boy effortlessly. He snarled, licking blood from his mouth and dipped his head for Malfoy's throat, ready to tear it out.

Malfoy surged upwards and fang clashed with fang. Raziel reared back with a surprised howl, scrambling off his victim and suddenly both boys were gone. Instead two white wolves faced off against each other, growling and snarling.

Two. There were two white wolves.

The second wolf was much bigger than a normal wolf but smaller then his opponent, its eyes were more gray then blue, its fur more white then silvery, and it favored a bloody front leg. It also wasn't completely white. There was a black mark low on the back of his neck, a mark that wouldn't be visible from the front, it was shaped like a diamond or a four-point star.

It was Malfoy.

Hermione let her breath out with a small sound.

An animagus. Malfoy was an animagus.

Suddenly every weird thing about Malfoy she'd casually shrugged off, or just hadn't thought too deeply about, from the beginning made perfect sense. Malfoy's ability to stay alive by himself, his lack of fear of the forest in general, his ability to hunt so successfully without the knife (how often had he brought her dead animals without a knife mark on them!), his ability to see in the dark, the way he could track her so well and find her no matter where she went.

It also explained why she had been chased towards camp once and away once. The Malfoy-wolf must have been the one to chase her back towards camp when she ran away in the rain. The second wolf, Raziel, would have chased her away from camp, away from Malfoy.

Raziel changed back to human, grinning a dark, eager grin as if Malfoy had just done a wonderful trick. Malfoy shifted back as well, teeth bared in fury. The boys stood slowly and sized each other up. Raziel looked older than them by a few years, he was an inch or two taller than Malfoy, healthily thicker and nicely muscled, but then he was probably well fed while they had both been living hand-to-mouth for a month.

He was wearing some sort of thin gold ornament in his hair and a string of feathers tied in back that hung down past his shoulders. He wore ear cuffs on one ear, and a moonstone in the other, a gold choker with straight vertical bones, polished clean, going around and two bones dangling with feathers on the end down his chest. He had a heavy fur cloak tied around his shoulders, metal cuffs twisted in a spiral up both arms and thick fur pelts around his waist. His pants were blue and made of something finer then leather, and his feet were bare.

" What do you want?" Malfoy hissed, clutching at his bleeding arm, grimacing against the pain.

Raziel's smile turned lazy and feral. His voice was a pleasant lilt," I don't usually speak to my food."

The statement was met with howls and nasty laughter from the pack.

" Kill him!" one of the wolves yelled and several took up the call," He will be our sister's first meal!" they jeered.

Oh Merlin, they were talking about feeding Malfoy to her.

" He looks kind of skinny. We should feed her something better."

" We will not feed him to our sister!" others protested, " He is spoiled meat. He reeks of the wyvern. He reeks of Drakhan."

" He has been marked by the God!"

" That does not matter, he is on our land! He is our prey!"

Raziel cast them a glance, " Shut up."

The wolves were immediately groveling on the ground, whining and showing their throats or bellies. The green-eyed man and the others in human form, bowed their heads low in reverence.

Satisfied, Raziel turned back to Malfoy, " I'll give you a sporting chance. Run and I'll hunt you. You might make it if you run."

" Fuck you." Malfoy bared his teeth, looking royally pissed.

Hermione could tell he was scared. There was a wild look in his eyes that said he knew his chances of coming out of this alive were slim. She should have felt happy about it but she didn't. She just felt sick.

" Then you mean to fight us for her?" Raziel's eyes turned to rest on her and she hated herself for cowardly looking away. His smile became smug, " I was thinking of keeping her for myself. If you want her back, you'll have to fight me."

" No." Malfoy stated coldly, glaring hatefully at the other boy, as he brushed himself off and examined his bleeding arm, the set of his jaw saying very clearly that he refused to look at her," Keep her."

Hermione felt her blood freeze in her veins, her breath hitching tightly in her chest. She couldn't believe he'd just said that. It had been bad enough to see him start to walk away but this was worse. There was no mistaking it now, he really meant to leave her here. She wanted to scream at him, to yell accusations and curses but she couldn't make the words come.

She deserved this and she hated him for that too.

The white wolf tilted his head, " You mean that." He seemed surprised.

" Yes. All I want is safe passage through your land. You said this is your land, right?"

The wolf nodded, " Yes. I rule this land."

" Then keep her and in return let me go on my way." His voice didn't even shake, he sounded so sure of himself," If not, I'll kill as many of you fuzzy bastards as I can before I die."

She was just something to be used at his convenience. How could he do this to her?

Raziel licked his lips thoughtfully, " I can taste your pulse from here. You're terrified."

" I'll kill most of you before you get me."

"I highly doubt that." Raziel's face darkened, "I can't let you go. I cannot allow the God to gain more followers."

" What are you talking about? What God?" he seemed very interested in the question. This wasn't the first time the wolves had mentioned a God but she hadn't really been paying attention.

" It does not matter to one who is going to die. You are nothing but meat."

" Quit the bullshit and answer me!"

" You bark loud for a puppy." Raziel smiled faintly, taking a step towards his quarry, " Run."

" NO!" Malfoy flinched almost imperceptibly but held his ground, it was obvious he was ready to fight.

" You're wasting your chance." Alekos sing-songed.

The wolf pack stirred, growling, heads lowered, hackles raised. Malfoy didn't move though his expression became even grimmer and, underneath, even more panicked. Raziel made a swiping motion and the wolves backed down with whines of apology.

The white wolf hesitated then turned back to the blond boy, " Alright." He said thoughtfully, " One on one. You have no chance against me but it is more…sporting…then you against the entire pack. If you win, you go free."

" Sounds good to me." The bravado was wasted.

Raziel gave a short laugh," Then defend yourself!" almost before he finished the sentence Raziel changed and leapt at Malfoy.

Hermione saw Malfoy's eyes widen, then two white wolves clashes together and the smaller one went flying with a yelp. The big wolf was on him in a heartbeat and they met in a tornado of growls, snapping teeth, and flying fur. The pack erupted into howls, raising the hair on her arms with their almost deafening cacophony.

And it was horrible. Watching two creatures tear each other apart was horrible. In a few minutes one of them was going to be dead. It was an execution, a violent, bloody execution. She couldn't bear to watch this.

" Stop it! STOP!" she screamed, trying to jerk free from the distracted wolves. Alekos only gently tightened his grip on her.

She could barely make out which wolf was which. They were ripping into each other with relentlessly ferocity and now white fur was spattered with red and jaws were oozing and they were a blur of deadly, brutal movement. But Raziel was bigger and stronger and probably a better fighter as well. It quickly became apparent that he was dominating the fight.

He'd told the truth when he said Malfoy didn't stand a chance.

The big wolf bowled Malfoy over, ripped his feet out from under him, rolled him, dove for his throat and spine again and again, huge jaws snapping for a one-bite kill. All Malfoy could do was try and fend him off.

One of the white wolves let out a piercing yelp and Hermione knew it was Malfoy. The pack roared. Raziel slammed the smaller wolf down and shook him like a rag-doll.

Shouldn't she be happy? Malfoy had sold her out and now his little plan had backfired on him. His brilliant betrayal had turned around to bite him in the ass. Literally. This was funny. It was hilarious. It was exactly what she wanted. Revenge against him for everything he had done.

" STOP IT! LET HIM GO!" her throat was going hoarse from screaming, she could barely hear herself over the fighting and the other wolves.

Another howl of pain from Malfoy as he fought his way free and staggered slightly to the side before Raziel was on him again.

" Our king truly is kind." Alekos said distractedly in her ear, " He could kill the young fool at any moment but he is giving him a chance to fight. It will not last much longer."

" You monsters!" Hermione screamed, shoving at him, " You don't need to do this! You kill for fun! Stop it!"

" You don't understand." Alekos said softly, eyes on the fight, " This is necessity."

The Malfoy-wolf shrieked in pain, lurching, legs barely able to hold himself up as he tumbled over and flopped onto his side and lay still, panting heavily.

This was it. Malfoy was too weak to bear any more. He looked so pitiful now, small and shaking, his fur wet with blood and wolf saliva. He was going to die.

She wanted to close her eyes but she couldn't. It was like she was frozen, just like when Moody made her look at the pictures. The same out-of-control feeling of completely helplessness.

It seemed to happen in slow motion.

Raziel lunged at the fallen wolf, arcing gracefully in midair, going for the kill.


The Malfoy-wolf shifted into a human, looked up at his killer…and grinned.

Raziel tried to check himself in midair but it was too late. Just as the two collided, Malfoy twisted and swung his arm around and slammed the blade straight into Raziel's ribs as hard as he could.

The huge wolf shrieked in mortal agony as he landed on Malfoy. The two rolled together and then Raziel pulled free, scrambling away weakly. He scuttled away from the boy unsteadily and collapsed, bleeding heavily, his heavy pants making the wet sucking sound of a punctured lung.

The pack stood in frozen horror. Hermione stared, jaw hanging open.

Malfoy was laughing wildly.

She'd forgotten all about the knife during the fight. Malfoy obviously hadn't. He'd allowed himself to be tossed to the side again and again during the fight, letting Raziel drive him closer and closer to the blade. He'd only acted like he was collapsing so he would have a chance to pull the blade from the ground without being noticed.

Malfoy sat up shakily, still grinning, blood smearing his face, staining his teeth, the knife upraised in his hand, pulsing strongly, humming with strange power. He spat blood.

" I may be human. I may be a wolf. But first and foremost, I'm a Slytherin." He rasped.

Deep growls of fury rose from the wolves and the entire pack turned on Malfoy with vengeance burning in their eyes. Malfoy stood unsteadily, blade clenched tightly, ready to meet them.

One of the wolves charged.

" STOP!"

Everyone froze and looked over at Raziel. He had changed back into his human form and two wolves in human form were helping him stand.

"You dare dishonor my word?" the wolf-king snarled, red hair spilling into his face, matching the blood pouring from his lips, " He won. Don't touch him."

The wolves hesitated, tails tucking down between their legs.

" But…" someone started.

" Silence!" Raziel doubled over, coughing blood and breathing harshly and his helpers braced him. When he looked up, he was grinning, " The boy won. I should not have underestimated him. I was careless."

He turned towards Malfoy and eyed him speculatively before bowing slightly. Malfoy just sneered, not returning the gesture, looking haughtier then he had in weeks.

" I was wrong to think you would be an easy kill, little brother." Raziel said ruefully.

" I am no brother of yours." Malfoy spat bitterly.

" Perhaps that can be changed. Join us. I would have you both in my pack."

" Fuck that. I'm getting out of here."

Raziel's smile died, " Then you have condemned yourself to worse then death. It would have been better for you to die by my teeth."

Silence as Malfoy struggled to understand the underlying messaging weighing heavily in those words," Who are you?"

" We are Sturmjäger. The Storm-Chaser Pack." Raziel carefully lowered himself down with a pained grimace to sit with his pack and the wolves began licking the blood off him, some of them whining softly in sympathy.

" That doesn't answer my question." Malfoy snapped, restlessly starting to pace.

" That's the only answer there is." Raziel cut him off with a low warning growl.

" Tell me about the God."

" We do not speak Its name. We call it Fresser. The Devourer. Though It has been calling Itself something different since you came here. Keep traveling the same direction and you will meet It before another day passes."

" Something tells me I don't want that to happen. This place…this place isn't normal. How do I get out of here?"

" There is no way out. Stay here with us." Raziel said very slowly and precisely, as if Malfoy wasn't listening.

" There was a way in, there has to be a way out!"

" The way in is through the God. The way out is likewise." The wolf-lord said impatiently, " It is a fools errand."

" Then show me to the other humans. There has to be a human village around here." Malfoy demanded.

" This place was never meant for your kind." Raziel patted one of the wolves and it wagged its tail happily, " There are no other humans here. You are the first in over two-hundred years."

" NO! I've seen other humans!" he raised his voice angrily and the wolves tensed, growling softly, " Stop fucking lying so I'll join you. I won the fight. Tell me where the humans are!"

" I do not lie, cub, hold your tongue." Raziel hissed, " What you have seen is the lie. Humans do not last long here. And they do not leave. Ever."

Malfoy stared at his feet, teeth clenched in fury," Then where do I go from here?"

He looked Malfoy dead in the eye," That is not my concern." Dismissing the boy, he turned his attention on Alekos, "Bring me the girl."

" Fine, I'll find my own way out. Thanks for nothing, Fido. Damn leg-humping, tree-pisser." He turned his back without so much as a glance at her and started to limp away.

" Get off my land." Raziel growled, showing his teeth at Malfoy's back.

Alekos pulled her to her feet and she tried as best she could to cover herself as he dragged her over to the wolf-lord. She gritted her teeth, wanting to scream and curse at Malfoy but knowing if she opened her mouth she'd just start sobbing uncontrollably. She wasn't going to cry in front of him. She wasn't going to go down bawling like a baby. Her pride was in shreds but she'd hold onto those shreds as hard as she could. A little sob escaped anyway and she heard Malfoy stop.

She glanced over and saw him standing at the edge of the trees, his back to her but he didn't seem to be going anywhere.

Alekos and several pairs of hands pushed her down and into Raziel's lap so she was straddling him. Her arms were held imprisoned by the other wolves which was smart of them because she probably would have gone straight for the wolf-king's eyes.

Raziel was so close now that she could smell him, pine and a dark, rich smell that reminded her of coffee and an undercurrent of fresh blood. He leaned close to smell her like the other wolves had and she kept her face carefully turned away, jaw clenched and eyes tearing, and burning with hatred at all of them. His hands moved over her sides, down her back very lightly.

" Don't touch me." She hissed, low and vicious. His eyebrows raised but his expression didn't change and he punished her by pulling her forward so that her breasts brushed his chest, " Stop it!" it came out a half sob, almost a pained cry.


Everyone went still at the sound of metal. Malfoy was still standing there, now playing with his knife rather agitatedly.

Raziel chuckled very softly and turned her face to him. She glared at him with all the hate and hurt and humiliation she had been dealt this night and his face softened minutely.

He kissed her forehead and leaned back, " Let her go." he said.

Alekos looked up in shock. Malfoy whipped around, " What?!"

Raziel rested his cheek against her naked shoulder and looked at his second," She is unhappy with our attentions. I would rather she choose to come to us. Let her go with the boy. He will not last long. And when he dies or deserts her, she will call on us and we will retrieve her."

Many of the wolves began wagging their tails.

" Yes! Let her choose!"

" Our sister will choose!"

Alekos and the others released her slowly and she wrenched out of Raziel's lap, folding her arms over her naked chest and hunching over as she stumbled away.

" So, little sister." Alekos said softly, " What will it be? Stay with us or go with the boy. Our Emperor has graciously given you the right to decide for yourself."

" I'm not going anywhere with any of you." She spat.

" Don't be stupid. Stay with them." Malfoy snarled.

Her head snapped up to bare her teeth at him," Don't you even speak to me. Don't you dare. Because I'm seriously wondering if Raziel would kill you if I asked him to."

Raziel looked at her shrewdly, " Is that what you want? Would you stay with me if I do you this favor?"

Hermione ignored him, her black gaze all for Malfoy. She faced him, head high and proud like a queen, " If I'm being given the right to choose, then I choose to go by myself. Don't any of you come near me ever again."

" So be it, Hermione." Raziel said with disappointment evident in his voice, " Remember, we will come to you when the boy dies."

She turned and jogged into the woods, arms tightly around her body. Behind her, she heard Raziel say one more thing in silky, almost airy tones.

" Malfoy… I have heard that name once before."

Hermione paused, listening.

"Re'loiuth Eedai Mevnox." The wolf-king hissed and even from that distance and not even directed at her, the words jabbed like an ice pick in her brain.

She didn't wait for Malfoy's response, she hurried on.

It was cold and goosebumps shivered up her arm and it was pitch dark but she didn't care. She just wanted to get away. She stumbled over roots and logs and fallen trees, unable to see, but that was good, she liked the dark. It was the only cover she had right now and lessened her feelings of horrible vulnerability.

It took her a few minutes to realize that Malfoy was following her. He was carrying a torch, the light chased away some of her shielding darkness and she hugged herself harder, wanting to pull the night back and fold it around herself. She stood and waited, her back to him. He slowed as he approached and there was a brief silence as he hesitated, then the crunch of his steps.

" Here." He said lowly, and she felt him place a robe over her shoulders.

She grasped it and tugged it around herself tightly, clasping it in place. Then she turned and slapped him as hard as she could. He hissed in pain and belatedly she remembered his injuries and wondered if he was bleeding badly but the thought only gave her savage satisfaction.

" You…" her voice shook, " You… I can't even think of what to call you. But it would be the worst, most vile thing I could imagine."

He said nothing.

" Did you enjoy your revenge? I bet you're disappointed that they didn't kill me outright but I'm sure having them strip me down and grope me was good compensation." Her voice broke and she fought to keep from crying, "Did you like the view? I guess I deserved it, huh? I should have seen this coming. I was stupid for letting my guard down."

He dropped his blood-stained hand from his sweaty cheek and met her eyes with calm plastered like cheap wallpaper over his blue-gray eyes," You're right, you did deserve it, you self-righteous bitch, but I didn't do it for revenge."

" No, you just used me as a bargaining chip for your own freedom. And don't you dare tell me you weren't just going to walk away and leave me if they didn't find you."

" You're right. I would have left you." Toneless, empty of emotion.

Her breath shuddered out, tasting like tears.

He continued on, each word carefully enunciated and bitten off," I didn't really have a choice. What was I supposed to do? Leap down into the pack and kill them all with my bare hands?" And now there was anger seeping into his tone, " If I used the knife, I would have only been able to kill one or two before it sucked me dry and they killed me. If I tried to fight them in animagus form, they'd have ripped me to shreds in a matter of moments."

It was her turn for silence.

" There was nothing I could do, not against an entire pack. I would have been throwing my life away, but that's what you wanted, isn't it?" his voice lowered, dripping with venom, " You wanted me to risk my life for you, die trying to save you, even though it was hopeless. No matter what happened to me at least maybe you could have slipped away while they were eating my corpse."

She shook her head, hugging herself again," You should have tried! You should have done something, not walk away!"

" Right, just like you did for me?" he spat, then looked disgusted with himself," Shit, this isn't about that. This is about the fact that I would have died no matter what I did and you would have been screwed either way. What good is it if we both die, huh? At least one of us should get home. If the situation is that fucked up, that hopeless, I expect whoever is still free to just walk away. Gryffindor heroics might work in your little fantasy world, but out here they just get everyone killed."

" You're a coward."

" And you're a hypocrite." He raised his voice, " If it was fucking Pothead up there on that hill, you probably would have been screaming your little frizzy head off for him to run, to save himself. You'd have been all self-sacrificing in order to protect him. But since it was me, you didn't care whether I lived or died as long as you got away. I'm just your tool and you're pissed that you couldn't use me like you wanted to."

His words made her squirm uncomfortably because that was exactly it.

He was right. If it had been Harry, she wouldn't have wanted him to try and save her. She would have done everything in her power to keep him from being noticed, to keep him from being caught. She couldn't say the same for Malfoy. She hadn't really cared whether or not he was seen or caught while she was being held by Alekos. She hadn't cared.

She had never thought of herself as the type of person who callously used others to their own advantage but her actions hadn't been any more honorable then his.

" Tell me," he sneered, " if it were me down there and you on the hill, would you have saved me? Would you have done anything?"

" I wouldn't have left you." She cried defiantly, " I wasn't even going to leave you that time with the water monster. I had just decided to go back when you found me. I was going to help you. I really really was."

He gave her a look of such utter disgust and condescension that she felt her face flush and she couldn't hold his eyes.

" I know you were going to go back for me." He said sweetly, mockingly, " I know exactly what you were going to do, I could see it in your eyes. You were probably going to wait another few minutes. Just another few minutes to agonize over your moral dilemma while in the back of your mind you were counting down until you were sure I was dead."

" No I wasn't!" She gasped.

He stepped towards her," You'd be crying the whole time because you felt horrible, and then your Gryffindor conscience would kick in and you would nobly decide to rescue me, only by then it would be too late. I'd be dead."

"Shut up!" she couldn't breathe. She didn't want to hear this.

He continued brutally, " You would have been just so sad that you were too late. You would have killed the water monster in your grief and told everyone back home that you had avenged me. That way it wouldn't be your fault. That way it wouldn't be murder and you wouldn't have to feel guilty. You would have gone on with your life saying 'I tried to save him. I did the best I could.' All the while knowing somewhere in the back of your frizzy little mind that you had done it on purpose."

" SHUT UP!" she screamed, crying uncontrollably now.

He laughed harshly," You are so fucking transparent."

The idea was horrible and she was suddenly terrified that he was right. Was that what she was like? Was that was she was capable of. She could swear the idea had never crossed her mind. But what if it had somewhere deep down?

She would have gone back to help him, she had already decided to do it when he found her. And she did feel a bit better about herself after making the decision to save him, but she wasn't deliberately waiting too long. She wasn't!

And if he had died, she would have fessed up to what she had done. She had no delusions about it being murder. She wouldn't have tried to hide it or pretend she was innocent. She wouldn't have…

" I wouldn't have… I wouldn't have…" she was sobbing, unable to get the whole sentence out.

" Then why are you so upset? Why are you so freaked out unless it's because you've realized you aren't the perfect little golden girl everyone thinks you are."

" I'm not a perfect golden girl." She cried, " I never thought I was. I wouldn't have tried to cover it up if I killed you. And I only decided to kill you so you wouldn't get me first."

" You're lying to yourself again, Her-mi-o-ne. You just wanted revenge."

" That's not true! Maybe I wanted revenge but I wasn't going to kill you for it! I just didn't want you to hurt me again. I was scared and I would have done anything to keep you from hurting me again!"

That seemed to give him pause," I never threatened you after… after that. I tried to apologize. I never gave you any reason to believe I was going to hurt you again. You being scared that I was going to hurt you is just an excuse. It was about revenge for you. Maybe you played it off like you were scared but really you just wanted to hurt me back." He'd started out skeptical but his voice hardened at the end.

" You know what? I don't care what you think!" she was screaming at him now, "You freaking tried to rape me! I was terrified and maybe I did want revenge but in the end I didn't care which one of us died as long as everything just stopped! I just want it to STOP!" she covered her face with her hands and turned away from him, " How dare you desert me and then try to turn it around on me! How dare you try to tell me that this is all my fault! It was you! All of it was you!"

He was silent for a long long time, when he finally spoke it was almost gently, " I can't really explain to you why I did what I did before and make you understand. But I couldn't go through with it and I didn't even want to." Then his voice was so low that she could barely hear it," And I didn't try to leave you with the wolves for revenge. I did it because you would have been safe with them."

Shocked, she looked over her shoulder at him, "What?"

His face was taut and pale in the firelight and she wondered if he was in pain," Those wolves rule this land. They're the top of the food-chain here. They would have taken care of you and nothing would have been able to hurt you, not the wyvern or the unicorn or the Rain Gorillas or whatever the hell else is out here. You'd have been safe because I can't really protect you that well from those things."

She stared at him uncomprehendingly and with a little astonishment.

Brilliant. He was so damn brilliant. Was this his contingency plan or something? Something sweet he could tell her if his plan failed? " What do you care whether or not I'm safe?" she bit out on a shuddering breath.

He seemed a little thrown by the question, finally he shrugged and muttered, " I dunno. I kinda feel responsible I guess."

For a minute she was completely shaken and she didn't know what to say, then she shook her head.

Snap out of it Hermione, we're not feeling gullible tonight.

" No, maybe you feel a bit guilty or something because you aren't totally desensitized yet but… no. I'm not buying your bullcrap. Besides, you have no right to make that kind of decision for me."

" I think I do."

" I think you're insane." And she meant every word fervently.

He looked a little mad, "Fine. I'm going to wash up. Are you coming with me or do I have to drag you?"

" So you're just going to start dragging me around again?"

" If I have to."

" I said I wasn't going anywhere with you!" She yelled and tried to leap back but he grabbed her arm and hauled her through the trees.

" You don't have a choice." He snarled.

They skirted their camp though it looked like the wolves were long gone and slid down a small muddy incline to the stream. Malfoy built a fire on the shore and then gingerly stripped down, his face strained, till he had just his robes around his waist.

Hermione gasped at the extent of the damage done to his body. His neck was ravaged, his sides were ripped. There were teeth marks up and down his back.

" It's not as bad as it looks." Malfoy grunted, " It's mostly punctures. He was trying to kill me with a single bite. He didn't really tear at all."

" You're going to need stitches." Hermione said, throat dry, " And I'm pretty sure if you don't stop the bleeding soon, you'll die."

" Oh goody." He muttered, rinsing water over his arms," Won't you just be thrilled."

He seemed weak now that she stopped to look. His arms were shaking and he breathed in small, hitching gasps like every movement hurt.

She frowned and grabbed his black bag, rummaging through it to see what kind of supplies they had. There wasn't much. She could have used cloth thread for the stitches but she didn't have anything close to a needle. If they had the time and the tools and the inclination, they might have been able to make a needle out of bone.

" We should have thought of this a long time ago and now there's no time." She muttered in disgust tossing the bag down, " Come here."

" What do you want?" he snapped, impatiently, " I'm kind of busy over here trying not to die."

" Just get over here."

He glared at her but obeyed.

She used what little they had to try and disinfect the wounds. She doubted wolf teeth were the paramount of clean which meant they were going to have to be extra careful of infection. She couldn't stitch him up so she used a combination of sticky yellow sap of a common ivy and long, thick Meiol leaves to close the wounds. She pinched the wounds shut as best she could and slapped the sap-covered leaf on top, holding it tightly until the sap sealed to his flesh. Then she used packing leaves for pressure and strips of robe as bandages.

It was primitive and he probably wouldn't be able to get it wet but it could have been worse.

Malfoy stared at her silently as she worked, his expression grim and forbidding with just a subtle bit of 'leer' mixed in. It wasn't like the last time she'd patched him up, when he'd been off in his own little world and she'd been alone with his body, free to touch him however she wanted to satisfy her curiosity. This time he watched her every move and made her feel like every touch was dirty. She tried to be detached and clinical but he was making her self-conscious and unsure. When she finished and stepped back to look up at him, his expression darkened.

" What ever made you think you were fit to touch me?" his eyes glittered with hostility.

She took another step back, refusing to acknowledge him until she was calm and she wasn't calm when she wanted nothing more then to jab his wounds with red-hot pokers, to hear him cry out in pain, " It would have been funny to watch you bleed to death."

There was not a single shred of comradery left between them and there had never been much compassion, only suspicion and anger, and the need to hurt each other was now the foremost drive in each of their psyches, but she would stay with him and she would help him and she had no illusions about why she would do it, and she knew he didn't either.

He proved it with his next words.

" Go wash up," he ordered darkly, " you smell like dog."

In a blind fury, she ripped the robe he'd given her off, threw it to the ground, and sloshed into the stream, bare-chested.

Malfoy's jaw dropped about a mile and she could have sworn he had a brain aneurysm or something because he just stood there twitching. Part of her couldn't believe what she was doing, but she was beyond pissed now and it was fiercely satisfying to see his reaction, besides he'd seen the show before anyway. She snorted in disgust and started washing herself furiously.

He must have realized she only did it to be a bitch, to get him to stare, because he looked away so fast he probably gave himself whiplash.

" What's wrong?" she mocked, suddenly near tears for what had to be the billionth time that night," It's your fault. You let them touch me and put their mouths on me. You swore you weren't going to hurt me and I knew when you said it that it was a crap promise but what kind of pureblood are you if you can't even keep your word?"

" Put your clothes back on." He demanded tonelessly, keeping his back to her.

" Make me." She hissed.

He walked into the trees without another word.

Running away, she should have expected that. Suddenly she was cold and tired and a little ashamed of herself and she finished up washing and wrapped herself in her robe to sit by the fire.

Malfoy was back all of two minutes later with the rest of the supplies they'd left back at camp. He sat down across from her, purposely not looking at her and it made her feel ornery, she resisted the urge to push him even further towards the edge and instead, dug some food out from his pouch. They both ate in silence.

" So what now?" she broke the peaceful silence just to be spiteful, staring into the fire, thinking that this entire situation was too surreal for words.

" I don't know where to go." He replied just as civilly.

See, they were going to have a nice calm chat now.

" Are you taking me with you?"

Maybe they'd talk about the weather.

" I won't leave you alone."

" Why not?" she asked disinterestedly, tired of the subject.

He shifted impatiently, uncomfortably," I told you."

" Oh right, you feel responsible." She replied blandly, and curled her knees under her, " Listen, Malfoy, tell me what the heck is going on."

He sighed, and was silent as he gathered his thoughts," Remember I told you about the boy who saved us from the Rain Gorillas while you were unconscious?"

" Yeah."

" Before he did, I heard a voice. It said 'The God has been waiting for you'. That boy I saw was a wizard but the wolves said there were no humans here."

" Maybe he wasn't a human. Just something…good…that took on human form."

" What about the old man we saw before?"

" I don't know. Maybe that wasn't real."

" Maybe. I also… I saw something else. It was like a vision. It was me but it was a different me. He told me to get rid of the compass, that it was taking us to the wyvern. It told me to go the direction we were traveling."

She sat up," But the wolves said that the God thing is that way."

" They also said the only way out is through the God." He countered.

She settled back," I don't like it."

" I sure as hell don't like it. I think it's a load of dogshit. But I don't see what else we can do."

" The wolves also said they'd heard the name Malfoy before." She said slowly, " How could that be if they haven't seen humans in hundreds of years."

He shrugged," Malfoy is an old line. I guess it's possible. I just want to know what the hell my name has to do with…those words. Those are… I would bet anything that's one of the old languages. One of the bad ones."

" You mean a Forbidden Language?"

He gave a snort of derisive laughter, " Trust you to know. That's why it hurts to hear it. It would hurt just as bad or worse to write it or see it written. I guess my family could have a connection like that to those Arts."

" I saw a picture of a Wizard scholar once who dealt in one of those languages. The hand he used to write with was all shriveled and black. The article said he was in constant pain and his hand fell off a few years later and caused all kinds of problems."

Malfoy cocked an eyebrow at her," His severed hand caused problems?"

" It sort of tainted everything it touched." she narrowed her eyes, " When were you going to tell me that you were an animagus."

He went rigid, " Never." He snapped warningly, " I don't owe you my secrets."

" You owe me something. And I know now. I could tell anyone. What are you going to do about it?" she asked defiantly.

" Are you starting a fight with me?" his tone was equal parts frustration and incredulity.

" I guess I am. It's just that I know something that could be used against you and I want to know what you're going to do about it. I don't want to avoid the subject for the next week while I slowly go crazy wondering if you're going to decide to off me."

" Damnit, Hermione."

" We're never going to trust each other." She cut him off softly, " Ever. It kind of even looks like we're the worst enemy, the biggest threat, either of us has." That struck her as funny for some reason, " I'm more worried that you're going to up and kill me then I am about any wyvern or wolf or…or God."

" You can't just…I don't know, trust me?"

Her head snapped up," You did not just ask me to trust you after you literally threw me to the wolves tonight. Besides, it works both ways. Are you going to trust me?"

His silence and blank stare were answer enough.

" I didn't think so." She said bitterly.

They were both silent for a long time, so long that she blinked in surprise when Malfoy suddenly stood up, his face set in lines of determination and something like pain.

" What are you…?" she started.

He pulled the knife clear of its sheath and she went utterly still at the sound of metal on leather. She watched him advance on her and didn't move, her lips parted slightly, her heart thudding in a sort of drugged calm, her eyes on the blade. He moved around the fire to her side, the blade pointed directly at her head, and she wanted nothing more than to lash out at him, to kick and shove and get away from him but she couldn't seem to move.

She just sat there like the proverbial duck and he looked down at her for a small eternity with a strange expression on his face and a struggle waging behind his eyes.

He was making a decision.

When he finally moved, she flinched automatically.

He knelt down beside her, facing her, and turned the knife in his hand, offering her the handle, his face taut and serious, " Take the knife."

" W-what?"

" Take it."

" What are you doing?" she repeated stupidly even as she slowly reached out and touched the handle, flinchingly because she almost expected it to shock her. She felt nothing but cool familiarity as she wrapped her fingers around it, felt the icy purr of welcome from the blade, and took it from him. There was a moment when they both touched it that the knife flared up brightly and she almost dropped it in surprise.

Malfoy said nothing but quickly withdrew his hand, still staring at her steadily with gray eyes as he knelt there and she gripped the knife tighter, suddenly realizing that he'd just handed the power over to her.

She narrowed her eyes, " I could kill you right now." She whispered.

" I know." He swallowed hard, and he looked afraid. He knew she was capable of it, " I'm trusting you."

Her mouth dropped open in utter shock and she sputtered disbelievingly, but then shook her head, and quickly pressed the blade to his throat with a snarl," You're so stupid. You think I won't?" she asked venomously, " You think I'm too weak to take this opportunity?"

" I'm trusting you." He repeated on a faint breath, eyes still locked on hers but almost looking past her. She could see his pulse fluttering beating beneath the skin of his neck. One slash and that would be it. She'd have his head before he even knew what had happened. And he knew it. He was terrified.

Her hand shook slightly and she faltered, drawing the knife away and looking down, " I don't understand."

He relaxed slightly when she didn't automatically kill him and held out his hand, palm up.

She wrenched the blade against her chest, panicked, " I'm not giving it back."

" No…" and he seemed to choke on the next words, his eyes skimming away from hers to a point above her head, she saw his throat work, " Cut my palm. A diagonal line from index finger to the opposite side of the palm."

" Why? What's the purpose of doing that? Why would…" she broke off as realization slammed down on her like a car dropped from a tornado. Her eyes widened," You can not be serious."

" I thought it would work out but it won't. We have to trust each other and this is the only way." He didn't seem too thrilled by the idea, in fact he looked a bit nauseous.

" I wouldn't do this with you even if you begged me." she put every ounce of her loathing and hatred into that sentence and saw him falter.

" I'm not asking for your friendship. I'm not asking you to forgive me. It's not forever and we'd still be enemies. That's kind of the point."

"You're serious! You're…you're out of your mind. Why would you want to do this with me? Mudblood, remember Malfoy?" now she was getting mad.

" You think I don't know that?" he snarled, reacting to her anger, palm still offered, eyes still staring at some distant point above her head.

" Purebloods don't do this with Mudbloods." She insisted.

He did look at her now," This is between us. You and me. That's how the Bangadh works. No one else and nothing else matters. That's how it was originally done and out here there is nothing else to consider."

She searched his eyes, speechless, but he only stared back with his jaw set mulishly. Holding his angry, half afraid, eyes, she reached out and cupped his hand, held it steady while she brought the tip of the blade to his skin.

" Haven't you bled enough today?" she asked quietly.

" It seems like all I do is bleed for you."

She pushed the tip in, surprised at how quiet the blade kept, she had half expected it to go crazy with bloodlust, and they both watched as she drew the steel across his hand. He hissed, tensing slightly. Blood welled up rich and red.

Pure blood, she thought bitterly.

His eyes locked with hers, and he said, steadily, almost reverently," My name is Draco Slade Malfoy. I am the last, I am the heir of the Malfoy Clan and all its honors, secrets and burdens but I am heir to something more, the ancient bloodlines of Fer obbee aiteam, which you share with me."

He reached out slowly and she reluctantly, guardedly, flipped the knife and let him take the handle. There was another small shock as they both touched it and she quickly relinquished it. Hesitating an instant more, she held out a wobbly hand. He cupped her hand the way she had his and she made a small sound as he made a delicate cut diagonally across her palm.

He looked at her expectantly and she wasn't sure what to say.

" M-my name is Hermione Sabriel Granger. I am…" she gave a small rueful smile as the words came to her, " I am one of many of the Granger Clan. I represent them, the ones who are not like us, who will never know us. I speak for them but I speak for something more, the ancient bloodlines of Fer obbee aiteam, which you share with me."

Malfoy smiled faintly back at her. " We are Fer obbee aiteam, the descendents of the Mage People. Witches and Wizards. There is magic in our blood, in every cell of our bodies. This power is inherent, we are born with it and it requires no wands or potions or other media to be called forth, it is our birthright and it sets us apart from all others. Though you may be a stranger, though you may be my enemy, by birthright we are connected and we call on this connection now." He was speaking slowly and carefully, making sure she caught every word. The air around them had grown still and quiet.

" This spell is sacred. It was performed by our ancient ancestors and it is performed now with utmost gravity. With fire, water, earth and air as our witnesses, I spill my blood for my enemy. My enemy spills her blood for me." He reached for her and she pressed her bleeding palm to his, intertwining fingers with his, they both flinched but held on. His fingers were cool and strong, "This blood is pure, it is the blood of Witches and Wizards. With the mingling of our blood, I accept a portion of my enemy's power and she accepts a portion of mine. We are bound together in a pact so powerful that none other can break it. Only we can break it. Are you getting all this, listen carefully Hermione, this is the important part." He took a breath. The air was so thick now it was hard to breath. Everything seemed to grow brighter as well, or maybe that was a trick of the firelight or her eyes getting used to the dark but she could see him better now.

" My enemy's life I will protect as my own until such time as I return her to her people, this is my pledge. If I break this pact, I will be subject to the old laws, which cannot be spoken by mortal tongue. A fate worse than death should I betray my enemy whom I am bound to. Now you."

She was breathless and had to think through a thickening force like a suffocating fog to stutter, " My enemy's life I will protect as my own until such time as I return him to his people, this is my pledge. If I break this pact, I will be subject to the old laws, which cannot be spoken by mortal tongue. A fate worse than death should I betray my enemy whom I am bound to."

" So mote it be." Malfoy whispered.

" So mote it be."

"So mote it be.." she heard the knife sigh with sweet contentment.

The Power broke around them like an invisible tidal wave. She yelled, feeling Malfoy jerk as it crashed over them and she squeezed her eyes shut tight and groped blindly, feeling as though she were in the middle of maelstrom. She caught his other hand and they held tight, until it all flooded away and they were left gasping clean, chilly night air.

" Wow." Malfoy huffed between pants, he released her to collapse back on his butt.

Shaking and awed, she carefully turned her hand over only to find the cut was clean, no sign of blood, only a line across one palm, pink and new, like a scar. She traced the mark lightly.

The Bangadh was an old and powerful spell. It was a celebration of inherent power, but everything Hermione had ever read about it said it was a spell not widely known, carefully guarded by the Pureblood families to be used among them and no one else. It was worse then scandalous for a Pureblood to perform it with a Mudblood, it was blasphemous.

It had probably been taught to Malfoy by his family when he was a young child but he'd most likely never seen it cast before…

She closed her fist and gave him a narrow suspicious look, " Did you even know what you were doing?"

He opened one eye, affecting blandness, " Well…yeah…I mean, not really…"

She gaped," You complete moron! You could have blown us to Kingdom Come. I can not believe you!"

He only smirked at her and, after a flabbergasted moment, she felt her lips twitch up in response.

Nothing was forgiven or forgotten, but their lives were now each other's responsibility, sealed with an ancient pact that was a common bond between them, and that was more then either of them had had that morning.

Maybe Malfoy had been right and this was the only way.

Next Time: Back to Hogwarts. Dumbledor's been a busy little man, Snape is ready to pull his own hair out or mass murder the occupants of Hogwarts, whichever strikes his fancy first, Harry's still dreaming of Hermione, Pansy better watch her step, Sky is practicing his Slytherin charm, and Lucius has no one to pick on now that Draco's gone and has taken up basket weaving to fill the empty void in his life…but that last part's a secret and we won't actually see it in the fic.

A/N: This chapter seems kind of weird to me. Not like weird in the traditional sense of weird weird but just kinda strange. Maybe it's just me. Anyway, had a lot of fun with words this chapter. I may have single-handedly slaughtered at least two separate languages.

First off, German. I know some of my readers speak German and I beg them not to kill me if I've warped the language beyond repair, I'd rather they send tips my way, that would be cool.

König- German for King
Blitz- German for lightening
Sturm- German for storm
Jäger- German for hunter or chaser
Fresser- German for Devourer
Special thanks to Arissa, Liar, Sunshine86, and JeanB (and anyone I missed) for helping me with the German.
Bangadh- type of Gaelic for Promise
Aiteam- type of Gaelic for people
fer obbee- type of Gaelic for wizard/warlock/sorcerer
Raziel is a shout out to my favorite video game character but I chose the name for other reasons too.

I had fits trying to think of a middle name for Draco but I'd already done like tons of looking up words and names trying to get other things right and Slade is just cool. I like it.

Other Notes:

Biatchofthecentury: Hermione hasn't killed Draco yet because she wants some lovin' before she decorates the forest with his intestines. That's my theory anyway.

Andrea: I'm hiding from someone named Andrea so when you reviewed and started your review with "GRR" I was like " AAAAGH! SHE'S FOUND ME!!" Almost gave me a flipping heart attack..

Chapter 18: Up in Arms
Oh, play the game so nicely
Oh, check, it's your move now
Yeah, we're standing in this jungle
Yeah, with some things I have found
Don't go looking for snakes you might find them
Don't send your eyes to the sun you might blind them
Haven't I seen you here before?
There ain't no heroes here
Excerpts from Metallica—Slither
They’ve crossed over.
A heavy mist shrouded the vast, ranging woodlands like a thick wool sweater. A pretty blanket of creeping fog thickening and thinning coyly through the trees and making it impossible to see very far in any direction, as if the world didn’t exist beyond those four or five feet. It was a cloud of illusion, a subtle and nasty trick of light and shadow, of wind and water, and everything under the dark trees looked exactly the same.
The mountains were cold and still, the birds quiet--perhaps in respect for the midmorning hush, or perhaps because every creature in the forest knew that someone who didn’t belong there had intruded on their home. Someone who had not been invited and who would not be welcomed when they were found out.
The distant ringing bay of a troll hound shattered the stillness, and a black-robed rider on a racing thestral cra… Продолжение »
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