Title: Brave New World
Fandom: Harry Potter
Word count: ~1200 (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 Four: A Fate Worse
Aghast, Hermione stared on as Voldemort continued to speak. She didn't hear most of what it said—it all sounded like propaganda speech—since she was so entranced with Harry. He looked slightly malnourished, a little bloodied, and his clothes looked like they were covered in a thin layer of dirt. He was trapped, in every sense of the word.
He'd never been able to apparate, and even if he could, the cage was probably spelled against it. He was wandless. Harry was just so completely helpless. Hermione felt her heart seize a bit, and she bit her lip, hard, to hold back tears.
The Death Eaters around her erupted into laughter at something Voldemort had said, which yanked her focus back onto Voldemort.
"Now, I hate to tear you away, but I would like to discuss a few things with my inner circle. So, if you would follow…"
A handful of people—Snape included, Hermione didn't fail to notice—rose and tailed after the Dark Lord. Once they were out of the room, Harry met Hermione's eyes from across the room. Everyone had gone back to their own conversations. She waved, lamely, at him. He managed the smallest of grins, mouthing, "You're all right?" at her. She nodded. They were cut off from their silent conversation then when a small group of Death Eaters arrived at the stage, presumably to mock him.
"He is alive, then," Hermione said, breathing the words like the small relief that they were.
"If you can call that living," Ginny muttered.
Hermione nodded. Then, she was plagued with another question. One she felt she shouldn't ask, but knew that she had to.
"But… why? Why is Harry still alive? I thought You-Know-Who—"
"The name isn't Taboo anymore," Ginny put in.
"Thanks. I thought Voldemort wanted nothing more than Harry's death. I hate to even wonder about this, but, Ginny… why? What's the plan?"
Ginny shrugged. "Humiliation? Harry's life now is just torture, ridicule, and only enough food to survive. He's treated worse than an animal in a bad circus."
Hermione gazed at her friend. She knew how she knew some of these things, she had Snape as her "master." But how did Ginny know about what goes on behind the Death Eaters' closed doors?
"Where did you learn all that from? And how are you okay? I mean, Voldemort's demanded something from all the purebloods that have opposed him, but you were known to have dated Harry. You figured he'd have something 'special' in mind for you."
Before Ginny could answer, Draco Malfoy, followed by Crabbe, came to stand at Ginny's side.
"I was excused from the meeting," he huffed like a petulant child, clearly speaking to Ginny.
"So sorry," the youngest Weasley remarked without the merest hint of sympathy.
It seemed as if he had just then caught sight of Hermione. His nose stuck high into the air, he sneered at her.
"Ginevra, once we're married, you'll not be permitted to socialize with a filthy mudblood such as Granger, you know that?"
Hermione's eyes threatened to fall out of her head.
Draco grinned triumphantly, lifting Ginny's left hand to show the huge silver, diamond, and emerald engagement ring on her finger. Crabbe guffawed.
"Jealous, Granger?" Crabbe said, stepping forward. "If you'd like, you could spend some time with me. It wouldn't all be torture, I promise."
"Shove off, Crabbe. I may not have my wand, but I won't need it. Ask your boss here. I got him right in his stuck-up nose."
Crabbe's eyes darkened. "You think you're so special, because the great Severus Snape claimed you? Tell me, does he put you to good use?"
The implication wasn't missed, and Ginny shook her head.
"Just because your dad isn't a member of Voldemort's inner circle doesn't mean you have to snivel to everyone about it," she snipped.
Like a flash, Draco's hand rose, landing a loud back-handed slap across Ginny's face. Hermione gasped, her arm pulling back, ready to revisit that punch she had landed on Draco four years ago, when she felt a hand wrap around her wrist. She tried to wrench free as she looked back to see who had her.
Snape glared down upon her.
"We're leaving. Now."
This spectacle was not missed by Voldemort, who glided in to stand beside Snape. He laughed, staring at the scene in approval.
"Well done, Severus. You have an exceptional mastery over this girl. And, while you're here, Miss Granger, I'd like to hear your opinion," the Dark Lord said, turning his red eyes to her.
She waited for him to continue, and he did a second later.
"How do you like your new station in life? After all, I've heard you called… oh, what was it? Ah, yes… the 'cleverest witch of your age.' Do you feel you've fallen far?"
Draco and Crabbe were chortling. Hermione drew herself up, still very aware of Snape's hand on her wrist.
"Well, I've still not reached your level, so I've not fallen so far."
All mirth vanished from Voldemort's face, and Snape yanked her back, hard enough that Hermione wondered if he'd pulled something out of socket.
"She'll pay dearly for that, I assure you, my lord," he said, bowing slightly.
Voldemort smiled. "I'm sure she will. Enjoy the rest of your evening, Severus."
Snape muttered his thanks as he shoved Hermione a few steps away from Ginny, Draco, and Crabbe. She still wasn't quite out of earshot enough to miss Crabbe saying, "Oh, maybe he'll punish her real good. Filthy mudblood."
Hermione's face burned with anger and embarrassment. Snape strode ahead of her, leading her back out of the manor. They met no one as they continued down the drive, and once they were sufficient enough distance away, the former Potions master grabbed her arm—just not as roughly. In a pop, they were back at Spinner's End, and within the actual home in even less time. Hermione whirled on her captor.
"You're a monster! All of this… Harry in a cage, Ginny and Ron being forced to marry… Pansy and Draco of all people! And people being forced to join the Death Eaters? You're in his inner circle, aren't you? Aren't you? How many people have you watched die, Severus? How many?"
She was practically shrieking at him now, and Snape stood there, a hard glare in place. He was no doubt incensed over her behavior at the ball, but at the moment she couldn't possibly find it in herself to care.
"So what did you talk about in your little meeting? What orders does your master have for you? More laws to oppress those not of pureblood, those like us? Is there a legal requirement on torturing mudbloods, now?"
"It's the world, Granger," Snape said, interrupting her with a voice of forced calm.
Huffing and puffing, feeling like there should be smoke pouring out of both ears, Hermione replied, "What?"
"He wants the world. That's what the meeting was about."