Word count: 3,657 words
Warnings: Portrait voyeurism, scarification, AU
Summary: “What is that, Lord Voldemort, and why is it getting filth on my carpet?”
Notes: For a friend's birthday.
Abraxas adjusted his robes and stared down his nose, although he did not mar his aristocratic disdain with a grimace of any kind as he surveyed the young woman on her knees.
“What is that, Lord Voldemort, and why is it getting filth on my carpet?” Abraxas asked. He didn’t have to ask whether she was a Mudblood. The girl brought denim, of all the common things, into his Manor. She didn’t even have enough self-respect as a witch to wear robes.
Voldemort tangled his fingers in the Mudblood’s hair and pulled her head back to display her face to Abraxas. Young, perhaps just out of Hogwarts or in her last year, shadows under her eyes, her back slightly hunched from too many books – another sign that she was Muggle-raised, since any wizard worth his salt already knew to use magic to make the textbooks small or weigh nothing.
Mudbloods too easily forgot their own magic. That was part of the reason they were unworthy of it. No matter their power or knowledge, if magic was not their first love, they deserved none of it. It was an insult to those who knew their heritage and its value.
“Filthy or not, it is not your carpet anymore, Abraxas, and I have use for her,” Voldemort said. He arched an eyebrow at Abraxas, as though waiting for him to protest his ownership.
Voldemort and Abraxas had changed a lot since their years in Hogwarts. Voldemort had become something new, something greater, something terrifying to behold, a creature of magic alone – all filth from his blood purged away and replaced with something less human, but more than a man instead of less. It was why Abraxas could still worship him. There were magical creatures who belonged under the boot, and then there were magical creatures that were like demigods, worthy of a bended knee instead.
Abraxas had admired Voldemort even after he had learned unassuming but bright Tom Riddle was halfblood – poor threads once again, such a shame Muggles could not clothe their children. That had not changed. If anything, Abraxas continued to admire the way that Voldemort practiced the blood purity he preached,
Abraxas had changed. In appearance, he was as beautiful and haughty as when he had deigned to make Tom Riddle’s acquaintance and they had brawled – civilly, of course, with wands – in an empty classroom until Tom Riddle made him beg for mercy (and then for other things).
But that was because his memory had been preserved at its peak in the portrait after his death.
Now, he stayed quiet like a guardian over the library, bored to tears. His son was too insecure in his blood superiority, and he had thoroughly taught his grandson the same. Abraxas thought Draco was a good boy, but fragile, none of the Black resilience that Abraxas had wished made it into Draco’s blood after the Black and Malfoy alliance.
If anything else, Voldemort taking over Malfoy Manor made his post-death life a lot more interesting. At least someone came to the library now and then. Abraxas had little or no interest in the other portraits in the house – the dead did not concern him, except for himself. Only the living. Besides, his relatives were not much more interesting than his living family.
That piece of filth on the floor, sadly, was also more interesting than his family. At least it incited a spark of feeling within Abraxas’s cold, two-dimensional breast.
The man standing over her incited quite a bit more, but no need to reveal that before its time. After all, if Voldemort had brought the girl here to his library, he must have other intentions than making him mourn the state of his carpet. He guessed she would not appreciate that it was nearly four hundred years old.
“What you see here is a traitor,” Voldemort said. He softened his grip on her hair and stroked it lightly. The girl looked terrified, but resolute. She shivered under Voldemort’s ministrations, but she stayed on her knees and did not try to run. “Not of me, though. For me. She says she does not know Harry or his associates very well, in spite of growing up in the same Hogwarts House, but that she could be of use to me in other ways. Magical ways. Using her knowledge of magic, history, strategy.”
Abraxas huffed, scoffing at the girl’s misplaced pride but not engaging in anything as undignified as a snort.
“A Mudblood in the employ of the Dark Lord.” Abraxas clicked his tongue. “Either you brought her here to humiliate her for her presumption or she is more impressive than she looks.”
“Hers is not a name that is known,” Voldemort said. “Hermione Granger. Muggle-born.”
Abraxas shook his head. He was as unfamiliar with it as he was with the use of that strange writing instrument clipped to her pocket.
“There was rumor and whisper during the Triwizard Tournament that she was a lover of one of the contestants, but otherwise, she has escaped Harry Potter’s shadow. It seems she wishes to rise above it now. Poor chit must have suffered well in her House to come to me.”
The girl clenched her teeth. Abraxas could practically see her chewing on her tongue to hold back the fire blazing in her eyes. So there was the Gryffindor in the girl. If her intelligence was as useful to Voldemort as she claimed, Abraxas imagined that being smart in the lion’s den hadn’t gone over well. Gryffindors were not renowned for using the brains their mothers gave them. She would have been more appreciated in Ravenclaw – or even Slytherin, if the chit hadn’t been born on the wrong side of the magical sheets.
“I didn’t come to you because they were mean to me,” Hermione said. “What a horribly petty reason to be here.”
“Your reason doesn’t concern me, Mudblood,” Abraxas replied.
“It concerns me,” Voldemort said quietly, wrapping his hand with her hair and pulling her back to look him in the eyes. It was an honor the girl did not understand, an honor that he so often did not provide even his most prized Death Eaters, preferring that they grovel at his boots instead. Then again, Voldemort needed to remind those superior wizards that he was their superior. This girl would need no reminding that she was inferior to Voldemort. If there was one thing Mudbloods were better at than purebloods, it was humility. “Tell him why you are here.”
“I don’t agree with the blood feuds, of course,” Hermione said. Abraxas had to admire her self-control. She was clearly angry at being manhandled and insulted and perhaps at herself as well. “But I can’t sit back anymore. They think they’re doing right and good, but they’re really no better than you. At least you know what you’re doing. You have no illusion about what it takes to achieve power. At least you respect it. They’re using their magic blind, standing on the shoulders of giants and those they can step on on the way, and they don’t even know what they’re destroying, what they’re becoming.”
She shook her head out of Voldemort’s grip, and he allowed her to break free, sprawled on the carpet. Abraxas waited, his arms crossed over his chest. He liked her fervor, but it sounded like she parroted pureblood rhetoric without knowing its meaning. Or, if he was being generous, maybe she was trying to understand it.
“They won’t listen to me. I’m just the girl they cheated off of and used because he was the great Harry Potter with his chosen friends, and I just kept being in the way, ungracious because I wanted my work to be mine. They’ve survived this long by brute strength and sheer luck, and because I knew that if I waited, I might find the right way to stop them before they destroy everything with their bullish incompetence. They’re fast-tracking all the way to the top of the Ministry without any skill, coasting on his name and whatever knowledge and skill they could force out of me.” She sounded disgusted and furious in turns.
She looked up at Voldemort; her confidence was clear, but so was the way that she made her neck vulnerable to Voldemort’s wand. The chit had made a calculated risk, and even Abraxas could not be sure whether it would pay off for her. Voldemort’s cause held a handful of those with impure blood, but only a handful. The girl thus far seemed unprepared for the rigors and sacrifices of taking Lord Voldemort’s mark.
“You’re the only one that he fears enough, even though that fear doesn’t stop him from careening into danger and somehow emerging with barely a scratch while everyone dies around him. I could do it myself by now. I know ways. But the way I see it, aligning myself with you would be more advantageous than aligning with him just because bloodlines don’t matter to him. A lot of other things that matter to me don’t matter to him,” Hermione said. “And some of those things matter to you.”
“And you would bow to me?” Voldemort asked. “Swear your life to me? Your obeisance? Your very blood, should I choose to spill it?”
“I don’t want to,” Hermione admitted. She may not have caught Voldemort’s smile, but Abraxas knew Voldemort’s enigmatic expressions better than most. “But I will. The time comes when you have to choose a side, and I won’t choose his.”
“Why do you deserve the Mark?” Abraxas snapped. “A silly little chit such as yourself? Why do you deserve the Mark of our Lord just because you despise Harry Potter?”
Hermione glared at him with the haughtiness of any Black woman. “Have you met some of his followers? Half of them don’t have two brain cells to rub together. Why do they deserve a place over me just because they’ve purified themselves into inbred idiocy?”
Voldemort laughed, the high, cold, eerie sound a rarity, and either meant that he was very pleased or very dismissive, knowing she would be easy to dispose of when he so chose.
“Show him, Hermione Granger. Show him the spells you have done to yourself,” the Dark Lord said. “I admire a woman who takes responsibility for her magic, bettering herself, preparing for her future.”
Hermione froze, crossing her arms over her chest and holding her shoulders, suddenly unsure.
“My dear, I could have commanded you to disrobe before all of my Death Eaters when you walked into my viper’s nest and asked to join me,” Voldemort said. “If you wish to become my servant, it would be advantageous to your survival to cultivate a more obedient attitude. I sensed the spells immediately when you fell to your knees before me. I want to see them.”
The girl glanced up at the portrait also watching them.
“Would you prefer that I drag you in front of my Death Eaters and strip you of your clothes myself?” Voldemort asked. “Do this for me, and I will mark you and return your wand. Refuse, and we will see how merciful those inbred idiots are to one they know does not belong with them. Your modesty is neither useful nor virtuous. I already know what you have had to do in order to achieve what you hide under those clothes.”
Abraxas slowly seated himself on the armchair provided for him in his portrait. He watched the girl with hooded eyes as she brought her hands to the top buttons of her blouse. Thus far, Voldemort could have been toying with her, but Abraxas was beginning to think he was not. If there was nothing under her clothes but a passable female body, he would be sorely disappointed, because Voldemort was actually making him curious about what value Voldemort might see in the Mudblood.
A well-bred patrician, Abraxas was too controlled to gasp when he saw the first burnt edges of her scarred spells, but his false breath caught.
Dark spells, requiring human blood not the caster’s own - heart’s blood, every last drop, blood of an innocent.
Salamander fire alit on lines of blood paint. The ritual over the graves of traitorous fallen, foreshadowing her own betrayal, a committal to it.
She couldn’t go back to moralizing Gryffindors with unjustified blood on her hands, and she could never show her body to anyone who could not appreciate the sacrifices she had made.
Hermione hissed as Voldemort traced the alchemical lines and concentric circles and runes over her chest. Salamander fire was never quenched. It resided in her burn scars. She must have been in near-constant, low-grade pain, a perpetual fever under her skin. These were the lengths she was willing to go for her craft, for her knowledge, for her magic.
Her shirt fell to the floor, but Abraxas was no longer concerned for the integrity of his carpet. Hermione stepped out of her denim trousers and stood only in her practical, plain bra and knickers.
The spells extended down to her ankles, and when she turned to face Voldemort with determination not to show shame, Abraxas saw that they reached around her back as well. Only her head, neck, hands, and feet had been spared of the Dark spells that fortified her magic and sharpened her mind and memory, spells that made every part of her into a weapon if she chose to point herself in someone’s direction. The ones on her right hip also protected her against Cruciatus and Imperius. They wouldn’t protect her against any other curse that someone might send her way, but the aforementioned half of the Death Eaters would go to the Unforgivables before any other curse and wouldn’t even think to use anything more arcane when they didn’t work against her. The girl had a point on that matter.
The only thing that Abraxas could think was that a Gryffindor shouldn’t be casting such spells. He couldn’t think of a single one in history willing to go through the requirements of the spell and with the power and knowledge to implement it or find it at all. But this one did, and not recently. The scars were at least a year old. She had been planning to betray her peers for a while; throwing herself at Voldemort’s feet was not a plea for mercy and protection, but a strategic move that she had done with careful aforethought.
Voldemort’s fingers traced further down as he whispered the Latinate that Hermione had had to recite as she had endured the fiery torment of the salamander’s fire over the innocent blood. And Abraxas finally understood why the Dark Lord intended to grace the Mudblood with his favor.
“All of them,” Voldemort murmured in her ear. He brushed the straps of her bra off her shoulders. The girl shuddered, intelligent enough to fear him but also to obey. She unhooked her bra. It joined the rest of her clothes. Then she pushed down her knickers, self-conscious under the scrutiny of two men – one not quite a man anymore and the other only a memory, but men nonetheless, and watching her very carefully.
“Turn around. Show me.”
Hermione turned in a circle, showing not just Voldemort but Abraxas as well. Abraxas marveled at the intricacy of the scars that knotted her body, the dedication, the ancient knowledge. All she had needed to do was take off her clothes for him to respect her.
“I had not anticipated the extent of your devotion,” Voldemort said. Those fingers again, white and long and perfect, spidering over the lattice spellwork over her back. “I cannot mark you. It would interrupt the spell here.” He ghosts his palm over her left forearm. Perhaps it was appropriate that those scars were an arithmancy equation converted into an image that meant long life.
“But I can ensure that my people and the rest of the world knows your name, and that you belong to me,” Voldemort continued. “Do you belong to me, Hermione? Do you swear your allegiance? Enshrined in your spells, take care that your words, your promises, have power.”
Hermione closed her eyes, her breath passing through her lips in intermittent sighs – in pain and fear or pleasure and exhilaration, Abraxas could not tell, but he too held his breath and leaned in to hear her answer. She could never turn back from this. And she would never be accepted by the whole of the Death Eaters, but Voldemort had already accepted her, and that should be the only gift she would ever need. Abraxas knew what those light fingers on her skin meant. Voldemort was drawn to her, her unrepentant power his aphrodisiac. Abraxas awaited not just Hermione’s answer but Voldemort’s.
“I swear fealty to you, Lord Voldemort,” Hermione whispered.
“Yes, you do.” Voldemort caught her by the back of the neck and maneuvered Hermione to the large desk, lifting her up, and laying her on the mahogany. Abraxas did not object to her impure skin touching it or the promise of other things staining the wood. Voldemort had arranged everything so that he faced Abraxas, so that Abraxas could see both Hermione and Voldemort and enjoy the both of them, in honor of other times, times when his body and Voldemort’s body were more alive to the sights and sensations of the flesh. But just because Abraxas was limited to the somewhat flat sensation of self-stimulation did not mean that Abraxas intended to abstain, any more than Voldemort’s distaste for carnal pleasure meant that he denied himself every desire.
It was a matter of moderation – and the right partner.
Voldemort hissed snake spells into her collarbone, and Hermione arched her back, her scars sensing their meaning, although she could not know. Abraxas licked his lips when Voldemort’s robes peeled themselves back with a wordless spell from his white, marbled body, falling in a shadow onto the floor.
It wasn’t the body that Abraxas remembered, the unbearably lovely darkness that complemented Abraxas’s light. But behind the new man’s red eyes, unhealthy thinness, and deathly pallor, Abraxas recognized the Voldemort he had loved and to whom he had sworn his own loyalty. Voldemort had not returned the love, but he had returned affection, and for Abraxas, that had been enough.
Voldemort lifted her leg, followed the spells from her thigh to her calf with his thin, flexible tongue. He rubbed his cheek against the spell for fiery revenge near her ankle. He bared his teeth when Hermione wrapped her hand around his long erection, with its oddly tapered head. She propped herself up on her elbow and stroked him, biting her lip as she felt it pulse under her palm. It glistened with precome, his interest stoked by the sight of her enspelled naked body and fueled by her promise – the promise to be his secret, his weapon, to turn over everything to his will.
He hooked her leg over his shoulder and allowed her to position him. Hermione fell back as he slid in, her own unspoken desire for him apparent by his ease. She stroked up her stomach to the spells of pleasure circling her breasts, the declarations of the value of ancient knowledge, the supplication for that knowledge to find her and fill her, light and dark and everything in between. Her spell had succeeded, because her best resource was now fucking her on a mid-eighteenth century desk, and Abraxas frantically stroked at his own straining erection, no longer caring about her bloodline or the disrespect for the history of the furniture.
Abraxas wished he could swallow that girl’s moans, that the mouth that had recited every single Dark spell on her body would take in his cock, draw him in and compel new spells from his lips. He wished that he could press himself against that lean, unforgiving figure thrusting his hips into the girl without mercy – not that she asked for any. But he had to content himself to watch, imagine, remember, and Abraxas’s memory was good.
Voldemort pulled her up by her hair, her leg slipping down to the crook of his elbow. He kissed down her neck and over her shoulder, tasting the magic that he had sensed from her once she had made her presence known. Instead of reeling in horror or disgust, as some might upon being so close to such an unpleasant visage of a man, Hermione wrapped her arms around his bony shoulders, gripping him, pulling herself closer with each thrust. Her skin was flushed, the scars livid in comparison. The salamander fire would be igniting her inside out, and the Dark Lord had to feel it, too. His hissing became harsher, his thrusts more erratic. Then her head fell back, and she cried out the crest of her pleasure. Voldemort went dead silent in his release, digging his fingers into the meat of her thighs.
As they caught their breaths, they lowered themselves back down over the table, and Voldemort took Hermione’s mouth. She shivered and shuddered and surrendered as he continued to incite the power of her spells with his hands. Their tongues twined lazily, each capable of dark and dangerous spells, and each knew it.
When Voldemort released her and pushed himself upright, he gave her one of his uncommon, frightening smiles, one of pride and ownership. He caressed her cheek with a finger and tilted her chin up for her to watch Abraxas spend his painted come into his hand, momentarily ruffled.
“Satisfied, my servants?” Voldemort asked.
“Yes,” Hermione said. Voldemort helped her off the table. She quietly began to redress, and Voldemort conjured his clothes back around him. He then took her wand from one of his sleeves and handed it back to her without a word. He met Abraxas’s eyes.
Abraxas nodded. Impure blood or not, the girl had her uses.