Hermione wakes when a voice reaches her ears, and, at first, she thinks the rat she shares her living quarters with is talking - it wouldn’t be the first time. Something moving in the corner of her personal hell supports her theory.
She’s been in this place...at least six weeks she calculates, having lived through the cycle of two days of darkness, followed by two days of blinding light, followed by three days of a regular circadian rhythm the appropriate number of times.
The witch only surmises she is counting days; it’s hard to tell when she had been robbed of her watch. Though, it could be longer, because she had a concussion after one ‘interrogation’ when she banged her head against the wall behind her, after receiving a slap, which caused her to hallucinate.
Thus, the thoughts about the rat. It had been a pleasant enough conversation. Steve had told her about his family. She had told him about hers. They shared a bit of stale bread.
It had been one of the entirely dark days, like it is now, when her environment was close to medieval. A dirty mattress, no window, no daylight. No toilet. Somehow, the latter circumstance degrades her humanity the worst, not the lack of proper food and clean water.
On the bright days, her environment is white tiled ceiling and walls, with a futon in the corner. She usually gets a tedious headache in these days because the ever present light won’t allow her to fall asleep.
On the ‘regular’ days, her cell has a real bed with a wool blanket. A cubicle in the corner with a sink and a toilet. A desk she has no use of. A window, charmed to show her a nondescript, lush landscape.
Hermione knows they want to mellow her, to break her and make her submit to the their regime after they’ve stripped her from everything she had and everything she was.
But Prisoner 24 is set on not being broken. She is aware of her situation: hopeless. She has no one outside of this hole to get her out of it. Or no one who would get wind of her imprisonment fast enough and with the realistic possibility to get her out of it. Ron and Harry are...
Her train of thought escapes her, as it so often does these days, when she focuses her eyes in the dim light of the cell and realizes the movement in the corner is caused by her own shadow. She chuckles drily at the absurdity of it all.
Hermione Granger, deemed the Brightest Witch of Her Age, jumping because her own shadow had moved. How the mighty have fallen. Yes, there had been a time where she had believed herself pretty invincible in her arrogant idealism. And look where it has gotten her.
Suddenly, she hears a noise. Only a soft shuffle against the stony silence. Vague. Undetermined? No, she tries concentrating on it; the noise has a pattern - it is a voice.
Just when she is about to give up, to attribute it to another round of hallucinations, she hears the voice again. Someone is indeed talking...through the wall? She presses her ear to itl. When she feels the rough stones against the cold skin of her cheek, she discovers that there’s a rush of air coming from somewhere. Instantly, Hermione sends her fingers and face into a desperate search of the source.
As she’s exploring the wall, her right hand meets a loose brick. Should she really be so lucky? Or is it another prank her mind plays her before she descends to insanity? Either way, she hears sounds from the other side - the next cell, presumably. Hopefully.
The woman flattens her ear against the gap. Then, her heart almost stops.
“Hello? Someone there?” Even though the voice is dimmed by the wall, the recognition sets in immediately, activating memories and triggering synapses not used for a long time, triggered by the unique voice.
Surely another hallucination. Still, “Malfoy?” she asks, her voice raspy from a mixture of crying and not using.
“Granger? Salazar, help me!”
Is she allowed to feel something akin happiness? No matter, she does.
“Draco Malfoy, is it really you?”