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 Eight: Tea with the Enemy
"Granger," Snape said, his voice now back in its domineering tone, "fetch the Dark Lord some tea."
She didn't move. She could feel her hands start to shake, that familiar rage building up inside her again. She clenched her hands into fists, holding them stock-straight at her sides. Her knuckles were white, she was sure, and her face felt like it was burning. Voldemort gave a single chuckle, just under his breath, and that seemed to be enough to incite Snape into action.
"I said tea, Granger. Now!"
He strode forward, snatching her, hard, by her upper arm. He dragged her back to the kitchen, all but throwing her inside. He shut the little wooden door between the two rooms, and Hermione could hear him speaking some spew of niceties to Voldemort. She couldn't hear the reply, if any, from Voldemort.
She was still standing still, her arm throbbing just slightly from where Snape had grabbed her. She wanted to scream, wail, rage and tear the house down. So long of Snape being nothing but awkward and polite, talking nothing of her safety, days with him gone, and now this? Right back into the lordly master role without a thought. No matter how necessary it was, Hermione still hated it.
Tea. She had to make Voldemort tea. Was Harry getting tea, locked up in his gilded cage like some exotic songbird? And what about the others? Was Ginny having to serve Malfoy at his every beck and call? And Ron with Pansy?
Hermione felt a sting of pain and realized she'd been biting her lip this whole time. She hissed, swearing just a bit under her breath, as she rubbed her bottom lip. Her eyes cast about the room, staring at the cabinets and knowing—mostly—their contents. She had to serve Voldemort tea… maybe she could poison him.
She knew it wouldn't kill him. After all, she knew about the Horcruxes. But just maybe it would slow him down enough to stop him. She rushed to the cabinets, throwing them open. She found the tea quickly, knowing just where it was, but as she continued her search through all the other available spaces in the kitchen she found no poison. Not even a nightshade.
"What kind of Potions master are you?" she hissed, putting on the kettle.
Okay, fine. If she couldn't fight Voldemort head on, then she would have to think of something else. She was patient, and she was smart. There was a way to do this, and she would just have to figure out how.
It wasn't long before the tea had finished seeping in the pot. She found a serving tray—a serving tray, but no poison which made no sense to her, being the type of man she supposed Snape was—and quickly set the teapot and two matching cups—all plain black ceramic pieces—on the tray. She opened the door to the kitchen, lifted the tray, and tried to remember that she was supposed to be a humble servant as she moved out into the lounge to serve the tea. She held it steady with both hands, breathing deeply to keep those same hands from shaking the teapot and cups right off the tray. She was Hermione Granger. She had once fooled Dolores Umbridge into thinking Hermione knew some secret that Dumbledore was keeping, making it all up on the fly. This wouldn't be that different.
She approached the wing-backed chair—which Voldemort now occupied—and Snape, who sat across on the sofa, in mid-conversation.
"—unsure of the feasibility of this plan, my lord, if I may speak so," Snape was finishing as Hermione approached.
Voldemort did not immediately reply, catching sight of her. She set the tray on a small table at the end of the sofa closest to both men. She carefully—steadily—lifted the teapot, pouring the first cup and handing it to Voldemort, of course. He took the cup, laughing openly as he did.
"My, my… how well you've trained this one, Severus. It is to be commended," the Dark Lord commented.
"Well, this one did have a mild intelligence. She is well enough aware to know what will happen if she disobeys," Snape responded.
Hermione gritted her teeth, hoping her closed lips keep the gesture hidden. Traitor or not, she knew that Snape had enjoyed that last comment. Voldemort laughed again.
"True enough, I suppose," he said, then, turning to Hermione, added, "I'll ask you a similar question as that I asked you at the Victory Ball… how do you like your new position of servitude?"
Deep breaths, she told herself. Take deep breaths and play the role. Think of the resistance. Think of the information.
Think about Harry.
"It suits me just fine… my lord," she grunted.
The laugh that followed was high and cold, and it sent a chill down Hermione's spine like a cube of ice sliding down her back. Snape snickered behind her back. She turned, seeing that he had not gotten his own tea. He arched a brow at her, gesturing lazily to the remaining cup. She bit the inside of her lip, trying to remind herself that this was the role, just the role.
But it was also Snape being a bit of an arse.
She served him tea. He sipped it, once, and sighed in satisfaction.
"Excellent. Now, leave. At once."
Hermione nodded her head, and scurried-without-scurrying from the room. She made her way toward the staircase just outside of the lounge, but instead of mounting it, she cast her eyes about. There had to be a place to hide within earshot. She was not going to waste this opportunity.
It took only a moment but she noticed a door in the side of the staircase. A cupboard under the stairs. She tiptoed over to the door, praying that it wouldn't creak or squeak when she opened it. She did so gingerly, finding it blessedly silent. She squeezed inside, finding it was filled with mostly books and coats, pulling the door just to. Then, she turned, pressing her ear to the sliver of opening she had left.
"Hogwarts is closed," Voldemort spoke. "Now that that is achieved, we must be doing more to separate those filthy mudbloods from our precious purebloods."
"I agree, of course, lord. I am just… unsure of the method."
"The method doesn't matter in the end, Severus. It only matters that they begin their education on subservience rather than usage of magic."
More slaves. Hermione's heart thudded against her chest. She thought of all those young, potential witches and wizards out there in the world who had no idea what they were coming into. She thought of herself, at that age, and tried to imagine what would have happened if this was the way the world had been. She would have been terrified, and her parents would have been heartbroken. After all, she supposed Voldemort did not intend to let any witch or wizard with muggle heritage to revisit their families after he had them in his grasp.
"More… slaves, then?" Snape said, shocking Hermione's thoughts away.
He sounded as wounded by the thought as she did. Then again, once his own muggle-related heritage was considered…
Voldemort made a noise somewhere between a laugh and choke.
"I detest that word! That is not a word that we should associate with our system, should we wish it to achieve!"
"Of course, my lord. I beg your forgiveness. Assigned companions, yes?"
Hermione was sure that punching the Dark Lord would accomplish nothing but her death, but just thinking about it was very cathartic. "Assigned companions," her left foot. Merlin's beard, half of the wizarding world was being enslaved and there was nothing being done about it! Where was people's gumption? Their sense of right over wrong? Their need to fight?
The resistance, she gently reminded herself. The resistance was all of that, just in its infant form. Deep breaths.
"I am putting this problem in your hands, Severus, as I have another… project, I'm working on."
"Oh? What project is that, my lord? If I may ask?"
Another chuckle. "Oh, you may, but I will not be sharing my little secret with you yet."
Snape apparently looked hurt—Hermione couldn't really see either man from her vantage point—but Voldemort let out another little laugh.
"You are my most trusted Death Eater, Severus, never mistake that. But no one but myself knows of this plan just yet. I'm… playing it close, as they say. I wouldn't want to raise hope just to have it dashed if it proves to be… impossible. But I am confident that it will bear fruit."
Snape sighed. "I offer my assistance in any way necessary, I hope you know, my lord."
"But… if I may inquire, at least, about its nature? Perhaps I can assist you now."
"In time, Severus, you may very well be helping me with this. I am aware of your supreme capability at potions. That may prove to be very useful. But its very nature? It's a weapon. One that I can use when I ready myself to expand my influence over the rest of wizarding kind."
There was the shuffling sound of people coming to their feet. Hermione readied herself to pull the door completely shut.
"My many thanks, my lord, for sharing so much with me. I will be working on our problem with those not of pureblood."
"Of course, Severus. I will be speaking with you again soon."
Then, without a word of goodbye, Voldemort swept out of Spinner's End, Hermione just barely closing her cupboard door in time to conceal her location. She counted to five, just to make sure Voldemort was truly gone—she was sure she had heard the front door open and shut, but just in case. She opened the door, stepping out beneath the wide alcove that separated the small hall containing the stairs and the rest of the downstairs rooms from the lounge.
Snape still sat on the sofa—or had returned to his seat after Voldemort's departure, Hermione couldn't be sure. He stared straight ahead at the chair that had once occupied the now departed Dark Lord. For a moment, no one spoke. Then, still without making eye contact, Snape sighed.
"I assume you heard all of that?"
Hermione could only nod in response.