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Redemption

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They say turnabout is fair play.

Hermione never expected to see Bellatrix fucking Lestrange chained at her feet, but she has to admit, she likes it. The woman looks up at her through a straggly tangled curtain of dark hair, eyes glittering, but she doesn't speak a word. She's learnt that much, after the last silencing curse. Her tongue's still burnt in spots, and Hermione doesn't want to imagine the damage done to the Death Eater's larynx. They'd discovered early on that the Cruciatus only made her laugh more. There were other ways to torture someone.

"Good girl," Hermione says in her most patronising voice. It's the only way to get through to this one, and a spark of satisfaction lights her soul at the way Lestrange's lips twist, the stiff slant of her shoulders protesting in the only way she can. "Even Death Eaters can be trained. Can't they?"

It's a controversial program, but one that's reaped great success. After Voldemort's defeat, the Ministry found themselves with loads of captured Death Eaters and nowhere to put them, with the dementors gone from Azkaban. The wizarding world clamoured for their blood, but even the Aurors couldn't find it easy to murder hundreds of people in cold blood, magic-less and defenseless.

So this happened instead. It was kept quiet, of course. Your average house witch didn't need to read in Witch Weekly that the Ministry was technically keeping Death Eaters as slaves in the hopes that they "reformed." Ron had ended up with the Lestrange brothers. Harry with Lucius Malfoy (and Draco, as well, a nice two-for that was keeping him rather busy!)

Hermione had ended up with the figurative-turned-literal leash of Bellatrix Lestrange.

"On your knees," she demands, the tip of her wand pointed between the dark-haired woman's eyes. She obeys promptly enough, her robes tattered and torn around her emaciated figure. Hermione knows that she shouldn't stare, but she can't help it, peeking at the slight swell of breast and the brief shadow of thigh. Later, she promises herself, licking her lips. They can do anything to their captives but permanently maim or kill them, and she's already learnt the benefits of Bellatrix's tongue.

The leash is clipped to the appropriate ring in Bellatrix's collar, and Hermione prods her to move out. Keeping them on their hands and knees reminds them that they aren't people yet, and Hermione rather likes the effect anyway, striding along in her well-laundered robes, her badge silver and shiny on her front, while the pureblood at her feet grovels and moves along in a halting crawl. Call me Mudblood, would you, she thinks viciously, in satisfaction. The twinge of guilt evaporates almost as soon as it comes.

She was horrified at the idea when it first came out, tentatively bandied about by Nymphadora Tonks and Mad-Eye Moody. Used in prior wars, Moody suggested, but how could that be? It was slavery, they were people, it was wrong.

It doesn't feel wrong anymore, Bella's leash looped around her hand. She calls her Bella now, to remind her of her place. It sounds romantic, a pet name you might call a lover. Hermione calls her "pet" instead and tries to hide the thrill when her Bella calls her "Mistress" instead, in that husky voice that used to commander her nightmares and now slithers through her dreams.

A routine walk, but Hermione can't let her guard down. Just last week, Antonin Dolohov attempted escape from the hands of Neville Longbottom, and he'd knocked down a wall and two doors. This week, Hermione smirks as she walks past Antonin and Neville, chained side by side on the parapet. Neville's cheeks flush as he watches them approach. He's lucky though. A few more days and he'll be let down. Never to hold another's leash, of course, but that's what happens when you fall derelict in your duty.

And it is a duty, Hermione fiercely reminds herself, as she tugs at the leash, and Bellatrix follows. It is a duty to the Ministry and to the world, and she will never lose sight of it. Others have. She has heard whispers of excess, of slaves taken to the Hospital Wing or St. Mungo's in the dark, broken bones and hexed minds laid bare for examination.

Hermione refuses to do that. She sticks to the protocols. So what if Bella has a new propensity for sticking her head between Hermione's legs, or taking off all her robes at inopportune times. Mind control spells have funny side effects, that's all.

"Hermione!" Harry's voice, and she turns, robes fluttering in the breeze, to see him stride up, eyes afire and hair messy as always. Draco's by his side, for once on his feet. "We have a problem."

"What is it?" she asks, sneering at the Malfoy boy, who at least knows better than to look up from the stones that make up the floor.

"Ministry inspection," is all Harry has to say before Hermione whips into action.

"Up, pet," she speaks sharply. Two taps on Bella's robes transform them into garments that rival Hermione's own, and three taps render the collar and leash around her neck invisible. A necessary invention, but practicality is the motherhood of it all, and Hermione is nothing if not practical.

"Seamus!" she summons him with a twirl of her wand. "Unchain Neville, his failure, and anybody else still done up. Ministry inspection. You know what to do."

Finnegan nods and races off, whistling to get Dean's and Lavender's attention. Hermione relaxes slightly. They've proven themselves more than capable in the past year.

"Again, though, Harry?" she can't help but complain with a slight rise of one eyebrow.

"Some of the new members of the Wizengamot are too sensitive," Harry sneers. The lightning bolt etched into his forehead catches the light, still as livid and red as the day he first got it. "They don't understand what it's like to have been through war. They want progress."

"We can show them that," Hermione laughs. Bella echoes it, and the thread of insanity chills Hermione's bones. "No, Bella," she hissed, grabbing the woman's jaw and pulling her face down. She is a few inches taller than her captor, but it means nothing anymore. "You will be silent unless spoken to, and you will be as polite and sane as you are capable of, or you will learn what it means to scream tonight."

"Yes, Miss Granger," Bella repeats in a dull voice, raspy from over-use, but there's a glimmer in those dark eyes, the familiar glint of rebellion. Hermione's used to it by now, and simply taps the woman's head with her wand, reinforcing the compulsion charms.

The Ministry inspection, despite being short-notice, progresses well. Hermione takes as much amusement as she can from the fact that every single appointee goes white when they see Bellatrix Lestrange, docile and presumably unchained. Hermione goes on for hours, producing reams of charts and graphs about "progress" and "reformation" and "dare she speak it-redemption," and as usual, they lap it all up. She is exhausted when they leave, but their guard remains perpetually up. It has to. One never knows when an enterprising bastard might try to double back and sneak in, trying to catch them off guard. It's only happened once, but never again.

"Mistress is tired," Bellatrix singsongs as Hermione guides them both into her private chambers, locking the door and layering as many silencing, locking, and warding spells as she can over the entire hall. They slip into place with practiced familiarity and she flicks her wand at Bellatrix, leaving the woman naked and visibly collared.

"Mistress is tired," Hermione agrees sharply, hiking her robes up to her middle. "Come here, pet. Please me." As the woman drops to her knees and nuzzles Hermione's thighs apart, Hermione sighs in appreciation. Kisses trail across one thigh, a breath of air across the bare, smooth skin between them.

It wasn't always this simple, this pure, Bellatrix's tongue nestled in her Mistress's folds, Hermione's hands caught up in her pet's hair. She used to fight. She used to spit curses at Hermione, taunt her in baby talk, until she learnt that Hermione could not be as easily manipulated as wee baby Potter, and that even "Mudblood" has lost its sting. The panic in her eyes made her vulnerable, and like any good student, Hermione studied and took full advantage of the fact.

"And yet," Hermione sighs after another shuddering climax, staring down into Bella's face smeared with her fluids. "I've broken you, haven't I." The woman stills, unsure whether to nod or shake her head, and Hermione laughs, the sound more than a little bitter. "You look so beautiful on your knees like that, Bella, but I'm lying to myself if I wish to claim higher morals."

"You've never had higher morals," Bellatrix laughs, and the laugh turns into a wheeze. She licks her lips hungrily, getting every last trace, and rocks back and forth, naked on the carpet. "Pretty little Mudblood Mistress, with her pretty pureblood pet."

"Shush it, you," Hermione replies, almost absently. The Cruciatus washes over Bellatrix like a benediction and she revels in the waves of pain that spasm through her, crushing her nerve endings and flickering through her limbs. When it lifts, she sits back on her haunches, panting, her tongue lolling out.

Seized by a sudden impulse, Hermione leans forward. Her fingers are shaking, but she can still work the clasp. The collar twangs as she lifts it free, baring the Death Eater's neck.

"There," Hermione says softly. "I can't anymore. This isn't-I'm sorry. Hurry. If you run fast enough, they won't catch you. I know you. You're too clever for that." A bitter laugh escapes and she sags in her chair, robes still hiked up around her thighs.

Bellatrix blinks, then starts to laugh, higher and higher until the sound feels like it will splinter Hermione's ear drums. She scrambles for the door, catching up Hermione's old robes as she goes, and Hermione can hear the slam of the door against the wall, the clatter of the doorknob as it releases. Her shoulders slump as she waits for the uproar.

A creak across the floor, and suddenly, a head rests against her knee. She opens her eyes. Bellatrix, nude once more, the collar lifted up and held in place by her shaking fingers.

"You won't win that easily," Bellatrix hisses, and as Hermione leans over the Death Eater's riotous curls to lock the collar back into place, no one can see the gleam of triumph in her eyes.