Title: Brave New World
Fandom: Harry Potter
Word count: ~1900 (chapter
Chapter: Prev | Next
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any related characters. Making no money here, as they all still belong to their prospective owners.
Summary: Partially DH compliant, most AU. Voldemort arrived at Malfoy Manor quicker than expected, and like that, the war was over. Now, Hermione is Snape's "assigned companion," and as determined as ever to stop Voldemort and save her friends. But that's hard to do in Voldemort's new world…
Chapter Two: Abandon All Hope
Hermione sat up as though ice cold water had splashed her. As it was, she was completely dry, but she was not where she had been. If she recalled correctly, her last location had been Malfoy Manor, and this place was, decidedly, not Malfoy Manor. It was darker, if that was even possible, and dustier, and much more common-place. But as her head turned to take in all that she could of her surroundings, to understand her situation, her eyes landed squarely on Severus Snape.
He was sitting in a plush, tall-backed chair mere feet from the sofa she had been stretched upon. She whirled her legs off of said sofa, her jeans making a scratching noise on the rough green fabric as she did so, as Snape stood.
"Traitor! Murderer!" Hermione screamed, reaching for her wand.
To her horror, it was nowhere to be found. That seemed impossible, unless one of the Death Eaters, particularly Bellatrix or even Snape himself, had taken it from her. Her eyes flew towards the exit, or at least where she presumed the exit to be. Even if she dashed, there would be no way for her to make it, she'd have to go right past Snape, and he'd be easily able to grab her. Honestly, she was still a bit unsteady from her torture session with Bellatrix. So, instead, she locked eyes with Snape.
"Where's my wand? Where am I?"
"Calm yourself, Miss Granger. I'll explain all, if you'll only listen," he said, hands held out plaintively.
A white-hot rage filled her. She moved to stand, wobbled, and fell back onto the sofa.
"I don't have to listen to you anymore. Not after you… Where's Ron? And Harry? Where are they?"
She was screaming at him, needlessly, given their close proximity. But it was quite cathartic, given the torture and fear and everything her and her friends had recently undergone.
"Actually, you do have to listen to me, if you wish to live," Snape snipped at her.
She narrowed her eyes, and with it, the volume of her voice. "Are you threatening me?"
Snape sighed and shook his head. He all but sunk back down into his own chair, and rested his face in his cupped hands. Somehow, that frightened Hermione more than anything else thus far. Here she was, wandless, friendless, and yet, she was unharmed by the man Harry had witnessed, firsthand, kill Professor Dumbledore. Why was she still unhurt, save for the remnants of Bellatrix's torturing—and even those were fading away?
"I won't hurt you," he asserted. "I just need you to listen."
"Fine," she replied, folding her hands in her lap. "I'm listening."
After all, what choice did she have?
Snape raised his gaze to hers. He released another sigh, this one a bit shakey, and sat back in his chair. He blinked, appearing to gather his thoughts, and finally, pursed his lips.
"What's the last thing you recall before losing consciousness? Of the events at Malfoy Manor?"
Hermione thought back. She remembered, most recently, writhing in pain as Bellatrix launched questions at her concerning the Sword of Gryffindor and what hers and Harry's plans had been for Voldemort. Before that, though…
"Harry had been hexed, stinging curse. I did it to hide his appearance, so no one would know they had Harry in their possession. We were all taken to Malfoy Manor, and several people—the Malfoys, the people who brought us—were arguing on whether to summon You-Know-Who or not. Bellatrix finally told them not to… she was freaked out over the appearance of the sword. Kept saying… kept saying they were all in danger. That's when they separated us. Me, to torture, Harry and Ron to the cellar. That's the last thing of note I can remember," Hermione said, not without a bit of sting in her voice.
Snape nodded. "Well, Lucius didn't listen. As soon as Bellatrix was out of sight, he summoned the Dark Lord to the manor. I followed just as soon as I felt the sting of the Mark. The Dark Lord… he knew it was Potter, without a doubt. He took control of the situation at once."
Hermione gasped, a hand clapped over her mouth. Tears began to sting her eyes. She fought them back.
"So they're… Harry, he was wandless… They're dead?"
She was close to sobbing. But Snape shook his head.
"No. They're still alive. The Dark Lord… he seemed unwilling to kill them just yet."
Hermione's eyes narrowed. "What? That's… I don't understand."
"The Dark Lord was on a personal errand when he received the call of the Mark. I'm unsure what happened, but perhaps it had a part in changing his mind."
It looked like Snape was holding something back, something he seemed unwilling to say. Hermione supposed that was probably a lot, considering. But, for the moment, she needed more answers to the problems at hand. First of all…
"Where's my wand, then? I still had my own."
Snape fidgeted in his seat. She had never seen the cold, cruel Potions master look so uncomfortable. Something was horribly, undeniably wrong.
"I broke your wand, Miss Granger. To save your life."
Hermione's eyes threatened to fall right from her skull. Her jaw dropped open, only to close again so her mouth could form a proper scowl.
"What? My wand! You… why? How in Merlin's name did that save my life?" she screeched.
At this, Snape stood. He loomed over her, his black robes casting an even blacker shadow over her form on the sofa. It was suddenly made horrendously clear to her that she was, presumably, alone in a house with a known murderer… wandless. She was not one easily cowed, but without her magic and no visible weapon within arm's reach, she felt as though she was sinking into the very sofa itself.
"It saved your life because it bound you to me," Snape explained.
He didn't sound as angry as Hermione had expected. Actually, it seemed to be more the sound of shame that was creeping into his voice. He wouldn't hold her gaze, darting away every few seconds. Was this really the same man who had murdered Albus Dumbledore in cold blood?
"What's happened?" Hermione all but whispered.
Snape collapsed back into his chair, his elbow resting on the arm, his face back in his hands.
"We lost. We lost it all, that's what happened. Dumbledore… he had such hope for Potter, for the Golden Trio, but because of a stupid mistake, we lost."
Hermione arched a brow. So many questions, but one jumped to the forefront.
Snape took a deep breath, turning back to Hermione. "Albus was dying. It was due to the ring he found. It was killing him. He knew of The Dark Lord's plan for Draco Malfoy, and asked me to step in and kill him in Draco's place."
For the second time, Hermione's jaw fell open. "No. You're lying."
"Sadly, I am not. I've been working on Potter's behalf this entire time."
"B-but, no. George's ear!"
"A well-crafted argument, Granger. I applaud your skills as an orator, but that was merely an accident."
"An accident?" Hermione squeaked. "You cut off his ear!"
"I was aiming for the head of the Death Eater about to kill Lupin. Would you have rather I'd not tried?"
Hermione glared down her former teacher. "How can I believe you?"
"You are alive, and, for the most part, safe within my home. For now, that's all the proof you need."
Hermione frowned. Without a proper defense, without knowing the state of her friends, she really had no other choice. Snape had not harmed her, yet, and that was going to have to be enough. Instead, her mind wandered for a moment. Snape was right about one thing. If Voldemort had Harry, then they had truly lost. This was something she had never considered. Never, once, had she ever truly believed that they would lose. Of course, she had taken precautions in case, but that still didn't mean she really believed it.
"The Dark Lord, before I departed, told me that he would be holding a ball in Malfoy Manor to celebrate the victory over Potter and the Ministry," Snape said, interrupting her thoughts. "He told me that he wished to speak to me again at that time. I believe he intends to lay out his plans to rule."
Rule. Voldemort had gone from a single enemy to the ruler of Hermione's known world. How could any of this have possibly happened? Devastated didn't seem like a big enough word to describe how Hermione was feeling at the moment. Annihilated was closer.
"He intends to take it all, doesn't he?" she asked.
At this, Snape shrugged. Such an incredibly human move for a man she was still not so sure she should stop thinking of as a monster.
"It will only get worse from here, of that I am sure. I'm not sure what He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named wants to include in his self-made empire, or what that means for what he doesn't want included. But, as I have said, with me, you are safe."
"And why is it that I'm with you? How is it that breaking my bloody wand saved my life again? I don't believe we quite got to that part."
Snape sat straighter now, leaning forward as if he were about to deliver the news of a lost loved one. Conversely, it made Hermione press her back farther into the sofa. Whatever explanation that was coming, she wasn't going to like it. Something was all wrong, like the universe had a tear in it. All in a matter of hours.
"I asked the Dark Lord to spare you… and he presented me with some ideas for muggle-borns and half-bloods."
"… And they were?"
"He called them… assigned companions. They would be put under the… care and rule of purebloods, to follow their every command. They won't be permitted to do everyday magic or any sort of defensive magic. Anything that could potentially harm a pureblood. And apparition is only for use when approved by the pureblood in charge. I even had to put up an anti-apparition barrier around my home to follow along."
"So, in other words… I'm a slave… and so are any other person without a pureblood line!"
Hermione glowered at him. "I know that includes you, you know."
Snape's eyes narrowed in the first truly hateful look he had given her here. "And, for both of our sakes, I'm going to assume that you will keep that to yourself!"
Hermione pursed her lips into a thin line. A long silence passed. Finally, she pushed a breath through her tightened lips.
"When is this ball?"
"Two week from now."
"I want to go. I know we can stop him still. I know it!"
"Don't worry. You'll be attending as my… assigned companion."
Hermione firmly placed a scowl on her face. "You mean, as your slave?"
Snape lowered his eyes.
"Sadly, Granger, yes… that is the situation."