Ron Weasley watched as Lucius Malfoy stood in the center of the now black room and glowed. His magic swirled out in waves and pinned the healer to the wall. The small, vicious elf danced around him with some weird smoke dogs and cackled with glee while Kreacher bowed slightly to him.
This was all far too much beyond frightening. Ron swallowed and glanced towards Hermione. She looked so powerless and so weak. He blinked back tears. He reduced her to this. His actions had started all of this mayhem.
"Don't kill the healer just yet." The grey haired wizard smiled at Lucius. "We may need him to fetch things."
"I wouldn't trust him to do that." Draco shook his head. "He didn't even bother to examine Hermione before he came at us with a potion. It was ridiculous."
"Incompetence?" Lucius hummed and approached the man. "Or did he have some issue with caring for my daughter?"
"It's all political." The healer mumbled.
"I didn't catch that." Lucius tilted his head slightly and the hounds stopped their baying. "Did you say it's all political? Whatever do you mean?"
"You want special treatment for your beloved, mudblood pet." The healer struggled against the magic pressing him against the wall and blinked. "Everyone knows she's just a brood mare for your son and his intended. You can dress it up in all the furbelows you want."
"I do see what you mean, Draco." Lucius smiled and raised his wand.
"Don't bes killing him, most honorable father of my Lady." The small elf bowed low before him. "Death bes too quickly. I can hurts him so much more."
"You are a servant of my daughter's house?" Lucius watched the elf blush and nod. "Serve her well, little one."
Lucius gestured toward the healer and the elf surged toward the wizard; cackling with glee. He begged and screamed as she began writing on his skin with her tiny nail blade. She twitched an ear and the wizards screams and her taunting were sealed behind a ward.
"I had forgotten how lovely the elvish language is when written." Astoria grabbed Draco's and observed the little elf. "I suppose Hermione can read it."
"Yes." Harry nodded. "Dobby taught her. He loved her, you know. It wasn't the weird devotion he had for me, but it was real."
Ron pushed himself back against the wall. Mentioning Dobby was sure to set this alight with spell fire. Harry had lost his mind.
Narcissa instructed the Malfoy elves to erect a warded perimeter. They surrounded the hospital in a quick succession of pops and a glowing blue shield formed a dome over the hospital.
"Only those that belongs will be allowed in." The elf bowed to her. "Please be telling Kreacher that we is here to helps."
"He will be well pleased that you lend your power to the line of Fryct." Narcissa nodded her head. Aunt Walburga's obsession with tradition was finally paying off.
"We be family." The elf stood taller and held its iron blade high. "Mistress Hermione be of House, but she is the daughter of ours. We loves and keeps her."
"You are loyal and brave." Narcissa blinked back tears. "She will thank you."
"She will stop knitting." The elf nodded. "We will let her say thank yous."
Narcissa nodded and managed a small smile.
"I have to go." She cupped the elf's shoulder. "I will hide her knitting needles. I promise. Thank you."
She turned and made her way down the black corridor knowing that it would lead to her daughter.
Severus watched the ghostly figures surrounding Andromeda. It was both disconcerting and perfectly natural to see them. Lily waved at him like she had done when they were both young. He blinked.
"They have her at Mungo's." Andromeda patted his arm. "Draco and Lucius will keep her safe."
"I would imagine so." Severus smirked. "Your sister would make them suffer for eternity if they failed."
"Just remember that when she starts negotiating your marriage contract." Andromeda smiled. "You'll get to enjoy more of your second life if you do."
"We had best be on our way." Severus extended his arm to Andromeda. "My elves are unhappy with the delay."
He swirled them through time and space to the hospital. The baying of hounds greeted them and quickened something inside him. Andromeda released his arms and his elves surrounded her protectively.
"I don't suppose much of anything is getting done here, tonight." Severus rolled his eyes. "Why must Lucius indulge his flair for the dramatic?"
"He's a Malfoy." Andromeda smirked.
"Why don't you just go in there and get Ron?" Ginny glared at her father and Kingsley. "I'm sure Lucius Malfoy would prefer that to another trip to Azkaban."
"Beyond the fact that the Malfoy elves have created some kind of barrier around the hospital, he is the Lord of an Ancient and Noble House." Kingsley shifted his weight uncomfortably. "He is protecting his daughter. If we interfere with that, there are consequences."
"What consequences?" Ginny threw her hands in the air. "He's holding Ron hostage."
"Which is his right." Arthur sighed. "Ronald has put himself in a terrible position."
"Ron is a war hero being held hostage by a dark wizard." Ginny snarled. "How's that going to play in The Prophet."
"It doesn't bloody matter." Kingsley spun around. "Worrying about what The Prophet will run is not my concern. Keeping our world safe is."
"What are you talking about?" Ginny looked toward her father.
"Before Merlin and the Founders, before the Wizengamot, the Fey ruled. They were and are extreme beings limited only by their immortality. We descend from them, but they did not care for our mortality. We were viewed as weak things, servants." Arthur slumped a bit as he stared off in the distance. "They liked to hunt and revel in their power. Four of our kind were set to care for their hunting creatures when they were not in use. They were Dark Wizards to be sure, but they were not evil."
"Dark wizards are evil." Ginny crossed her arms over her chest. "We just fought a war with one."
"Dark wizards are necessary." Kingsley frowned. "Grindelwald and Voldemort were playing at being dark. It turned them evil. True darkness isn't evil. It merely is. Night to our day."
"So, we're supposed to stand aside and let Lucius Malfoy do whatever he wants to do with my brother?" Ginny shook her head. "He's hurt our family enough."
"If Hermione dies, it won't matter." Arthur sighed.
"Why not?" Ginny looked from her father to the Minister and back. "Why are you both giving up?"
"Hermione is Malfoy's daughter. She's his greatest treasure." Kingsley licked his lips. "If she dies, he will ravage the world. Voldemort practiced a corrupted, dirty form of magic. Lucius isn't some hopped up dark lord. He is the darkness."
"Then why did he follow a hopped up, dark lord?" Ginny turned to walk away.
"He's human." Arthur sighed. "We make mistakes."
Harry watched Narcissa fuss over Hermione with the other witch. They weren't speaking or making any trouble, but he wanted them to stop. He wanted it all to stop. Hermione had suffered enough. She'd stood by him through it all and he'd let Ron do this to her.
"I should have known he was up to something." Harry took a deep breath. "I was so happy to have her back. I was so happy that he wasn't being a complete prat about it for once. I should have been paying attention."
"You like to take the weight of the world on your shoulders, don't you?" Astoria rolled her eyes. "Ronald Weasley made his own bed. Don't crawl into it with him."
"What should I do then?" Harry ran a hand through his hair. "Hermione was always the sensible one."
"You are a grown man. You've been ignoring Hermione for quite a while." Astoria rolled her eyes. "It is past time for you to be sensible. You've chosen that cretin over Hermione time and again. Maybe he has some good points, but he seems selfish enough to me. Love potions are nothing more than long term rape. He was planning to force my future sister into a relationship she did not want. How can that be justified?"
"It can't be. I know that." Harry rubbed the back of his neck. "They've both played such large parts in my life, and I thought I was doing the right thing by not picking sides."
"You were picking his side again and again. When he attacked Draco, he didn't even face a hearing." Astoria pointed at Ron. "If you'd done the right thing then, we might not be here now."
"The Malfoys and the Weasleys don't get along. It's not my job to punish people for some lingering hatred spawned generations ago." Harry took a deep breath. "I don't understand it. None of this makes any sense."
"You don't know, but she does." Astoria gestured towards Hermione. "You let Hermione do all the learning. You just used her brain when you needed it and left her twisting in the wind when you didn't. Your loyalty to her has only extended as far as your needs have forced it. What made Ronald Weasley so bloody, damned important?"
"I'd love to hear the answer to that one, too." Draco frowned. "He's a wastrel that does more harm than good, but you've chosen him over Hermione so many times. She was tortured for you. What did he do that was more devoted than that?"
"She was tortured in your house, by your family." Harry took a step towards Draco. "How dare you act superior? You were part and parcel of the whole situation."
"She needs you, now." Mariposa Aiza spoke softly. "What happened in the past does not matter now. Leave it."
Harry looked up at the woman and nodded his head. There was something deep in her eyes that frightened him. She reminded him of Hermione. There was power at their cores that would not be ignored.
Hermione could hear them arguing. Draco and Harry both turned belligerent when they were afraid. It wasn't a good idea to have them in the same room. knowing that didn't mean a thing though. She had no ability to communicate. Her brief moments of lucidity came and went to no avail.
"There is still some of the potion in the bottle?" An unfamiliar voice spoke from beside her. "I need it. She is trapped. A curse breaker might be of assistance. Someone that trained in Egypt."
"Bill Weasley trained in Egypt." There was eagerness in Harry's voice.
"You want me to trust a Weasley?" Her father's anger made him sound so severe. "You want me to let his kin in here?"
"Go get him, Potter." Draco sighed. "I doubt he will come, but it is worth a shot."
Severus stalked toward the hospital. The wards protecting the area had forced him to land two blocks away. Andromeda paced beside him. He ignored the specters pacing slightly behind her. Her husband had ordered Sirius, Remus, and Tonks to hush, and they had.
He had not been so blessed with Potter, Lily, and the others. She shouted questions at him nigh constantly, and Potter just egged her on. The Prewett twins were hopping about with Fred Weasley. Regulus kept them from encroaching on his personal space and Moody kept them from wandering off. He was thankful Albus hadn't bothered to appear.
He considered sending them all away, but something stayed his hand. It was as if Hermione's kind heart was holding him in check. He could feel her all around him and through him. She had given him his freedom. She had set him free, but he only wanted to be at her side.
The familiar red capes of the auror choir were everywhere. Severus bit back the urge to hurt them. It might serve him best to be pleasant.
"Severus Snape?" A young man gaped.
"I thought he was dead." Another whispered none too quietly. "This can't be good. what with Malfoy losing his mind and all."
"Please tell me that there is someone more capable than either of you with whom I can deal?" Severus forced a smile. He knew it wasn't pleasant, but he was trying.
"It might be easier to knock them about." Andromeda watched as the group stood about with their mouths hanging open. "I am feeling rather like a Black witch tonight." She flexed her fingers and quirked a brow. "Shall I?"