Title: Brave New World
Fandom: Harry Potter
Word count: ~1,500 (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 Seven: Life, as We Know It
To say that her life had taken a strange turn would be a dramatic understatement for Hermione. Years ago, when receiving her Hogwarts letter, she surely thought that that would be the strangest day of her life. But, no, this life now—as a virtual slave to her former teacher—was the strangest thing to happen thus far. And while the situation was indeed part of the unusual-ness of it that was truly not what made it the weirdest. No, it was Snape that made it odd.
She was his slave. No matter what language Voldemort used to describe her situation and that of an untold number of witches and wizards of "impure" blood that was the fact. She couldn't use magic in any form, unless given permission to apparate. And she never had that permission, since Snape never let her leave the house—for her safety. The only concoction she was allowed to brew was tea—with no magical properties, just normal tea—and charm work of any type was strictly forbidden—and difficult to do besides, without her wand.
Hermione had heard enough and seen enough to know the situation amongst others of her blood-kind. They were treated as rubbish, ready to be disposed of at the precise moment they proved useless. Even purebloods—if they had not supported Voldemort—had it rough. But… Snape never harmed her. He never struck her. In fact, he hardly spoke to her. She had always imagined that Snape, outside of what she knew of him at Hogwarts, would be something of a talker. She didn't know why. Well, honestly, it was because she always thought he rather liked the sound of his own voice, especially when putting down Harry and pretty much any other Gryffindor.
But, no. Most days, the amount of words that passed between the two of them numbered probably less than twenty-five. She had seen the marks on some of the half-bloods and muggle-borns that had accompanied Death Eaters here to visit Snape. She knew they were beaten. She expected it herself, honestly. After all, who knew if Snape was really telling the truth about Dumbledore's murder? He'd murdered a man, a man who had vouched for him to the Ministry, what was to keep him from slapping around a wandless witch?
It never happened. The house was quiet, deafeningly so. Honestly, it was driving Hermione a little mad. The last they had spoken in more than just a few, necessary sentences—have you seen this, are you hungry, etc.—had been right after Voldemort's Victory Ball, before Hermione had snuck out for the resistance meeting. Snape still knew nothing of that, which was just the way she would like to keep it. Again, she had no idea how trustworthy the man actually was.
He was Headmaster of Hogwarts, a fact that Hermione kept forgetting. So there were stretches where Snape was not present at Spinner's End. The temptation was never greater to leave than in these times. But she needed to keep the resistance in mind. Without her being here, they had no direct line to Voldemort and his plans. And that was the reality of it. Snape was Voldemort's direct line. They were even shutting the school down earlier so the two of them could "rework" certain policies regarding those not of pure blood. Snape had assured her, the last time he had left for the school, that he would not be gone long this time.
It wasn't that she didn't enjoy being without her captor. She had not really explored the house much, despite having been in it now for about a month. She knew it had many rooms more than what she had visited, but she had typically kept to the kitchen, the lounge, the downstairs loo, and her bedroom. She knew where Snape's bedroom was, and there were at least three other doors on the second floor alone—where their bedrooms were—that she had no idea what they were. So, when Snape left this final time—usually he was gone for days, which led Hermione to believe that there was some sort of charm on the house to alert him if she left or to stop her from doing so—she decided to explore the house.
She found a library behind one of those upstairs doors, an upstairs loo (useful), another bedroom, and a small office. She had torn through the books in the library and raided the drawers of the desk in the office, but she found nothing. Nothing of interest, nothing to help her situation, just… nothing. She dared not enter Snape's bedroom—the only unexplored area of the house by day three of Snape's absence—in case he had that booby trapped too.
By day four, Hermione was seriously wondering if all these charms on the house were all in her head. She sat in the chair in the small lounge, staring down the front door of the home. After all, this was a muggle neighborhood. Could he really have charmed everything? Also, she had snuck out successfully. Was she just being paranoid?
By day five, Hermione was convinced. This house was dark, dusty, and while she enjoyed the fact that books seemed to cover every available space, she was starting to go a little stir-crazy. She could just leave. Just walk right out the door.
She then remembered, one of the few times in the past several times Snape had spoken to her while he was there, him discussing why he required that she did not leave without him.
"Voldemort is considering abolishing the Statute of Secrecy," he had said.
"There are those within the Death Eaters on both sides of the argument. But those that are for it have gotten a little brazen about using their magic in public, muggles or no. This neighborhood will not keep you safe. Stay inside."
She had tried to argue, but he had gone from quiet, awkward host to former teacher in a heartbeat, ordering her to remain indoors for her "safety."
By day six, Hermione knew there had to be something he was keeping her from. Perhaps there was some news? Maybe the resistance had made a move? She barely got to see the Daily Prophet anymore, and when she did it was all propagandist rubbish about Voldemort—most in support, since he apparently had the paper now, as well as the Ministry. It was nearly time for the next meeting of the resistance, and she was going, come Hell or high water. She couldn't risk missing meeting with her only real connection to the outside world.
She had about convinced herself, as she stood in the kitchen, staring out the singular window there. She was going to leave. She had to know. Sure, Snape had spent time like this away before, but not quite like this. He usually checked in in about three days, but this was six days in, practically a week. Surely something was wrong, on one side or another. She was in complete isolation here, and she was going to lose her mind if it continued much longer. She had to know.
That was what kept playing in her mind as she turned, heading out of the kitchen. Over and over.
Have to know. Have to know. Have to know!
She barely made it into the lounge when she thought she heard two pops, like the kind that usually follows apparition, from somewhere outside the house. She paused, turning around and dashing back into the kitchen. She ran straight to the window, which was facing the point where Snape usually apparated in. She saw no one. She pressed her face against the glass, feeling just a tad silly, trying to stretch her field of vision as far as possible. It wasn't until she heard the front door open and shut that she drew back. She exited the room once more, halfway into the lounge when the new arrivals made themselves know.
Snape had returned, but not alone. Beside him, in robes of dark gray, with that cold, unfeeling smile plastered on his lipless face was Lord Voldemort.
"Ah, Miss Granger. So lovely to see you again," he greeted.
Hermione was sure that, in that moment, her heart had stopped beating.