A/N: Yeah, so... it's been ages. I know. The plunny burrowed deep underground and didn't want to play. But it's back, I hope. Thanks for all the reviews. Pretty sure we cleared 2000 after I posted the last chapter. You're all so sweet and so generous with your love. I adore each and every one of you. I'm a bit nervous about sharing this chapter. It's not... let's just say that when I began it I had one thing in mind, and then SOMEONE came along and turned it into something else. I hope you like it. I know it's shorter than you're used to for this story, but don't worry, the next chapter is also begun and being drafted even as you read this. Much love!
Chapter 24: Dissociation
..."I know you got the best intentions,
just trying to find the right words to say.
I promise I've already learned my lesson,
but right now, I want to be not okay."...
-You Don't Know (Katelyn Tarver)
"Don't look at me like that, kid," Thorfinn warned Draco when he snarled a little more ferociously, as though that alone would express his feelings on the matter of Hermione shagging the Viking wizard. "You don't own her yet and we've all got a little too much to gain from mind-blowing sex and its ability to distract from ugly recollections."
Hermione arched against the wizard as he continued shagging her even while Draco began stalking toward them. He looked like hell, if she was being honest. His platinum hair was streaked through with red that she didn't doubt was blood, along with a grey sort of tinge as though he'd gotten ash in it during the raids. He was shirtless too – or rather, he might as well have been. What little remained of his shirt hung in tatters as though he'd raked his own claws through the fabric, or as though he'd been fighting with the other werewolves.
He was covered in blood and fresh scratches too. Hermione frowned at him.
"Did I miss the full moon?" Hermione asked of the werewolf while the Viking wizard continued fucking her.
"Ah, shit," Thorfinn exclaimed, stilling against her once more. "No wonder the kids looks like hell. Draco, mate? You in your right mind, right now?"
He lowered Hermione back to the floor, lifting her off his cock and setting her on her feet before the werewolf could reach them.
"Mine!" Draco snarled when he was within reach, his hands - which still bore blood encrusted claws instead of human fingernails - shooting out to catch hold of Hermione's shoulder as though intent on tugging her toward him.
"Aye, she's yours, mate," Thorfinn agreed. "Or she will be when the Dark Lord's plans unfold. Until then, she's free to do as she likes. And I reckon she likes me."
"Mine!" Draco repeated.
"Share, you bloody git!" Thorfinn retorted, laughing at Draco's mindlessness in his possessive, moon-induced haze. "Mina, love? You don't mind being shared, do you?"
"Are you suggesting the two of you double me?" Hermione asked, one eyebrow arched in challenge when she met Thorfinn's gaze. Her pussy twitched when he smirked wickedly at her in return.
"You got a better idea?" he asked. "I'm not done with you, but I don't think Wolf-Boy here is too keen on voyeurism without participation."
"Mine!" Draco repeated. Hermione almost rolled her eyes at the mindless way he seemed to be stuck on that idea. She was thinking Draco was going to have to get used to the idea of sharing her with more than just Rabastan if she was going to get through this entire ordeal unscathed. And she didn't just mean the shower. One of the fastest ways to endear the other Death Eaters to her was through sex and if she could win over a few of them by shagging them - like she felt she was winning over Thorfinn Rowle - Hermione was thinking she'd be willing to do it. Her memory was hazy from the days she's spent doing the Dark Lord's bidding, but what she did remember far surpassed the idea of shagging a few people. She'd tortured people. Merlin's boots, she'd bloody killed people! What was mindless sex compared to that? Moreover, if the sex helped her to forget some of her heinous crimes, what was the harm?
Draco and Rabastan might not like it much, but if she was expected to be shared at Revels, they could get fucking used to the idea of sharing her with whomever she chose to shag when the mood struck her. Even if it wasn't one of them. She wasn't sure what Snape would have to say on the matter, of course, though she doubted he would approve. He'd specifically told her not to go making too many close alliances or friends with anyone outside of himself, Rabastan and Draco, and even then to be wary and careful about each interaction. The idea of forming anything of any kind with another Death Eater would likely annoy him and earn her a sound scolding just as soon as he reappeared. That being said, she had no way of even knowing if he was alive.
She also knew she ought to be trying to telepathically contact Remus to find out if he and the other members of the Order – her real friends - had survived the raid. She needed to know if Harry and Ron had survived. Merlin, she needed to know how well Ron had handled his first full moon as a werewolf. She really needed to talk to Remus if she wanted to find out, but he was likely as mindless as Draco right now, so that seemed out, and besides, right this minute there was sex to be had. Hermione wanted to have it and worry about everything else later.
"Yank him in, would you?" Rowle instructed, shifting slightly under the water and nodding at Draco, clearly planning on making sure the werewolf was clean before anymore shagging commenced.
Hermione did as she was told, pulling Draco by the hips until he'd squeezed into the shower cubicle along with them. It was a tight fit as she stripped him out of the tattered remains of his shirt before yanking his trousers down his legs. Rowle was big enough to make the generous space seem small all on his own, let alone adding an irate werewolf to the mix.
"You distract him while I try and get some of this filth off," Rowle told her, smirking when she had to squat at Draco's feet to remove his pants and toss them free of the shower before they clogged the drain and flooded the bathroom. She bumped his cock in the process, but he didn't seem to mind.
"You're going to bathe him?" Hermione asked, raising one eyebrow, thinking he didn't seem the type. When she glanced up to meet his gaze she nearly got both eyes poked out by the pair of cocks in close vicinity to her face and Hermione wondered if she would ever get used to the idea of seeing men naked, let alone coming face to face with all their glory on such a regular basis.
"Don't give me that look, witch," Thorfinn warned her when he caught her curious and amused expression over the idea of him bathing Draco like a lover. "Just distract him before he rips my throat out for touching you, alright? Let me worry about my own affairs, yeah?"
Hermione smirked at him and he narrowed his eyes on her in return before picking up the bar of soap and using it to lather Draco's blood-soaked skin. Having no idea when he'd last bathed, Hermione didn't much fancy the idea of performing oral sex on the werewolf and so her distraction of the grumpy sod came in the form of her fist wrapping around his rapidly hardening cock and pumping her hand up and down.
Draco stopped growling quite so much after that and Hermione blinked, looking up at Thorfinn when he nudged her with his knee, handing her the bar of soap and reaching for the shampoo bottle to do something about the blood in Draco's hair. The werewolf apparently enjoyed the attention, no matter where it was coming from when he was so mindless after the full moon and Hermione shook her head to herself, wondering what her friends would say if they could see her now. She could just imagine Harry's gobsmacked expression if he spotted her naked in the shower with two blond wizards, soaping one up even as she gave him a hand-job while the other straddled her from behind as she knelt on the shower floor to better wash Draco's hair. The git was poking her in the back of the head with his cock while he did it, too.
The idea of her friends seeing her this way tickled Hermione when she thought too much on the topic. Ron, she knew, would be furious, but for some reason the idea of having Harry spot her right at this moment amused Hermione a little bit too much and she began to giggle. The image of him dropping into that armchair at the Burrow to hide his bottom from the idea of anal sex sprang into her mind and Hermione almost choked when she drew in a gasping breath to laugh, inhaling water as she did so.
"Shut it, Princess," Thorfinn muttered, obviously thinking she was laughing at him because he was assisting her to bathe another man when he was such a he-man of a wizard that it seemed beyond comprehension that he'd ever be naked in the vicinity of another bloke.
"I wasn't aware you'd be so open minded, Rowle," Hermione told him.
"You didn't even know my name until half an hour ago. What would you know of my mind?" he challenged, making Draco garble out a half-drowned protest when he pulled the younger wizard under the spray and held him there until all the shampoo washed from his hair.
"I suppose I wouldn't," Hermione conceded, shrugging slightly and twisting between the two wizards until she could use both hands in tandem to bring them both pleasure. "Swing both ways, do you?"
"Not really," he grunted, his eyes briefly closing at the renewed stimulation as though he had to focus to remain bathing Draco rather than tunnelling his hands into her hair and begging her to suck him off. "You haven't been to a revel, yet, so I don't blame you for not understanding how things work among the brethren."
"I've heard tales of how wretched they are. Lust Potion, I'm told, is a key component."
Thorfinn shot her a dark look.
"Yeah," he muttered. "Among other things. With that shit in your system you don't tend to care so much who you're burying your cock inside of, to be honest. Do I prefer blokes? Nope. Have I fucked a few? Unfortunately."
"Have you fucked Draco?" Hermione asked curiously, wondering if he would tell her; if he'd done so.
"Not yet," Thorfinn admitted. "More time I spend with the lot of you, though, and I'd say it'll end up happening eventually. Welcome to be a fucking Death Eater."
He was frowning as he said so, his tone bitter and heavy with sarcasm, and Hermione wondered if he didn't enjoy being a Death Eater all that much, like Draco didn't, or if he was fishing to find out how loyal she might be to the cause when she was still such a new recruit. Especially since she was female and therefore much more liable to be raped at any given moment in the presence of the brethren should her fellows forget to fear her own quick wand and ruthlessness, and should they overlook Snape's likelihood to come to her defence.
"And such a delight it's proving to be," Hermione agreed with him quietly.
They all looked up at the sound of the bathroom door being thrown open with enough force that it banged off the wall and Hermione squinted, cursing when she got shampoo in her eye. Severus Snape looked like absolute hell when he stalked into the bathroom with all the dramatic flair of an avenging angel. He was covered from head to foot in blood and ash and what looked suspiciously like gore. Hermione frowned, paling when he began to strip out of his robes, apparently having just returned from raiding.
He stopped, mid-unbuttoning, at the sight of the three of them inside the shower.
"Out!" he barked, his eyes sweeping over the scene and glittering with annoyance and no small degree of anger.
"Papa?" Hermione asked, frowning at him and standing quickly, finding herself sandwiched between Draco and Thorfinn.
"Out! Out of my fucking shower. Now! Rowle, take Draco to the Manor and give him a Sleeping Potion before he passes out when his humanity resurfaces," he snarled, looking very much like he wanted to murder them all just for existing.
She wondered what it said about Snape that despite being mid-coitus – Hermione's hand still on both of their cocks – and despite Draco being practically brain-dead, both wizards jumped to obey his commands. They didn't argue; they didn't try to offer an alternative idea; they didn't goad him; they didn't even speak. They both simply exited the shower without a word or even a look in her direction, and held still when Snape flicked his wand to dry them both; leaving Hermione standing there, dripping and a bit confused.
Not that she didn't understand why they complied. It was Snape's house, they both believed she was Snape's daughter, and they both obviously knew of his foul temper and his vindictive nature. They didn't want to risk antagonising the man – especially not after three hard days of raiding when he was liable to slaughter them where they stood for simply breathing too loud. Hermione didn't even want to imagine how deep inside of himself he'd had to bury his humanity and she wondered if any of it had resurfaced yet or if maybe she needed to be on her guard, too.
"Papa, really?" Hermione sighed, pretending exasperation rather than feeling the exhaustion rushing up to engulf her when – still naked – Thorfinn steered Draco towards the doorway of the bathroom before Disapparating them both with a sharp crack.
Snape eyed her for a long moment like he was still considering murdering her and Hermione put her hands on her hips, raising her eyebrows in silent challenge. She was in no mood for bullshit, no matter where his humanity had taken a hike to, and she didn't at all fancy the idea of duelling him, but neither was she in the mood to just lie down and take his abuse.
"Where the bloody hell have you been, Miss Granger?" he hissed dangerously, returning his attention to his robes as he continued stripping once more, now that their guests had left.
Not entirely sure she wanted to be stuck in the enclosed space of the shower cubicle when he was so obviously volatile, not to mention annoyed, Hermione turned off the taps and reached for her towel, moving over to stand on the bathmat by the sink instead. She sighed heavily as she did so, her body feeling heavy and her mind sluggish, as though the exertion of simply existing was too much after however long she'd been running on nothing but adrenaline, fear, and an utter lack of humanity.
"Honestly?" Hermione asked. "I'm not really sure, sir. According to Rowle, I came at him out of the fire at Morgana's Fields sometime last night, leading a string of witches by the hand, before I put them all on a portkey and then latched onto him and brought him here."
"You fucked him?" Snape demanded, peeling open his robes when he managed to unbutton his many buttons, revealing the white undershirt her wore. Hermione grimaced at the sight when she noticed that, much as her own clothing had been, his were dripping with blood. She didn't even want to think about whose it might be.
"I think so," Hermione nodded, regretting the action when the movement made her head ache dully in a way reminiscent of a hangover. She supposed that if she'd been raiding and murdering and slaughtering people for three days straight without recall, she might not have bothered to stop at any point and hydrate herself.
"You think so?" Snape demanded, his brow furrowing with both concern and anger, if she was reading his face correctly. It was a little more difficult than usual – and already a tough job – because much like his clothing, his skin was covered with blood and gore. Indeed, much of it had dried and begun flaking off. Hermione suspected he must be very itchy.
"I don't remember much," Hermione admitted, shrugging her shoulders with another sigh, hoping he wasn't about to lecture her. She'd been very much for the idea of shagging away her troubles and didn't fancy hashing them out and thinking in depth about her actions over the past few days. She just wanted to soar through an orgasm or two – enough to exhaust her so that she could sleep for a week and forget all about the horror she'd witnessed and the heinous things she had done. "All I can recall are snippets and flashes. I didn't know it had been three days since the Ministry until Rowle told me just now in the shower before Draco arrived. I remember the torture at the Manor and being ordered to hunt down the Order. Lots of snippets after that. Blood. Murder. Torture. So much death… but I don't know where I've been and couldn't tell you the names of anyone I killed. I know I put several people out of their misery after they were left broken by the others, but that's about it."
Snape eyed her for a long time, finally managing to peel himself out of his clothing, dropping his robes to the floor, stripping naked and climbing into the shower without taking his eyes off her. He seemed morbidly curious as he watched her and Hermione wondered if she would win any points with him for the fact that she was too tired to even trace her eyes over his naked form as he moved.
"You…don't remember?" he frowned slightly, looking almost as though he were torn between being worried for her and perhaps, not believing her.
"Rowle called it a Berserker state. Said something about the magic ruling and thus, not remembering. Felt like my humanity shut off. I suspect it might be more along the lines of dissociative amnesia, if I'm being honest. I might've discovered a little Bad wolf inside myself, but we both know that at my core, I'm a good girl. And good girls don't murder or brutalise others. Goods girls don't torture. My conscience can't reconcile what my brain knows I did, so it's being repressed. Poorly, based on the snippets slipping through. But that's not the point. Is… how bad is it out there, Severus?" Hermione asked fearfully, leaning against the sink with her towel wrapped around her like it might hold her together should he deliver bad news. "Did we… is the Order safe? Is Harry alive?"
She held her breath as he turned the faucets, the hot water spraying down over him and making the water run red as the blood dripped from his skin. He didn't answer for so long that Hermione's eyes filled with tears, fearful that he didn't know how to break it to her that her friends were all dead and the war was lost.
"I am… uncertain," he admitted finally. "I have been unable to contact Lupin – what with the full moon. Then again, this was Weasley's first full moon, so Merlin only knows if they're both even alive. They might've killed each other."
Hermione paled, realising she'd almost forgotten about Ron being bitten. She'd forgotten that last night he'd have endured the harrowing transformation and the terrible agony of the lycanthropic curse. She felt even worse to realise that she'd been so lost inside her own head, committing heinous acts, that she hadn't even remembered that the boy she loved would be suffering in agony.
"Oh, Gods," Hermione muttered. "You don't think they…"
"It is unlikely that they'd have killed one another, though I suspect injuries abound for the pair of them, wherever they are. As for Potter… I can only assume that he is alive. If he had been killed by any among the Death Eater ranks they would be punished. As you know, the Dark Lord has claimed the right to murder the boy himself and any who touch him will pay with their life. As the Dark Lord was not jubilant and cheerful when I left him to return here and bathe, I suspect he will have survived. The rest of the Order… it is unclear. We raided for three days, Miss Granger. I suspect, by the end, they were aware of our violence and that they were fighting us."
"How many are dead?" Hermione asked.
"From amid the Order?" he asked. "I have no way of knowing."
"I meant in general," Hermione clarified. "I… Rowle said something about slaughtering all the muggles in the western end of London. He said hundreds of thousands of people are dead?"
Snape's head jerked up, his dark eyes clashing with her own bloodshot pair and Hermione simply knew.
It was true.
She felt ill.
Her knees hit the tiles, but she didn't register the pain as she grappled for the toilet, vomiting up bile.
"How?" she choked when her stomach cramping after the third heave when there was nothing more to come up.
"Fiendfyre, mostly," Snape admitted, his voice devoid of any emotion whatsoever. "As you know, it's a difficult spell to control at the best of times. Death Eaters out of their mind with anger, pain, and grief – all of whom were given license to wreak absolute havoc – were uninterested in bothering with control. We had word that there was a safe-house for some of the Order's sympathizers hiding there. Some of us went to find out and things…. Got out of hand."
Hermione heaved again, the motion turning to a shriek of pain at the way it pulled at already abused muscles and the way it ached deep inside her soul. She recognised that particular ache as a compounded sting upon the already ripped part of her soul that bore Charles Torball's name and the Dark Lord's magic. That part of her was the fracture, broken, tattered remnants left behind when she committed the brutal and vile act of murder.
"Out of hand?" she choked. "Literally hundreds of thousands of muggles were killed, Snape! I'd call that a little bit more extreme that 'out of hand'! Our world is exposed!"
"We were already exposed," Snape sighed, scrubbing one hand over his face under the water to better remove the blood upon his flesh. "The Dark Lord's reign of terror has been effective at shattering the Statute of Secrecy. It was actually, potentially, a good thing that this happened. Such a large scale loss of life points toward a more logical reason than magic. The muggles will call it a terrible tragedy – a gas leak or an explosion in the Tube system, or some other, normal reason for mass death. They won't immediately think 'wizards'."
Hermione vomited again at how positively blasé he sounded about the entire thing.
"How can you… just… shrug it off?" Hermione wanted to know. "Hundreds of thousands of people are dead. Innocent people who had no part in this and didn't sign up to die just because some twat-waffle with a God-complex is furious over his failure to achieve immortality!"
Snape looked over at her when he finished scrubbing his face, his expression still carefully blank and devoid of any emotion. A chill ran down Hermione's spine to know that he truly had buried his humanity so deeply that it might be gone for good. He looked like he didn't care. Couldn't care. He looked like the idea of emotions was a foreign concept he had to grasp of. Hermione shook her head slowly in denial, in horror, in utter terror.
Was this to be her future?
"If you allow yourself to be so affected, Miss Granger, then you will go mad," he informed her coolly. "Have I not yet taught you that the things you must do and the things you see are all beyond reprehension? Have I failed to remind you that you agreed to this? You had your chance to walk away and you didn't take it."
"Bullshit!" Hermione hissed, staggering to her feet to point an accusing finger at him. "I suggested that you just let me go back to the Order and you refused. You wanted to follow Dumbledore's orders and drag me into this mess knowing it would destroy me and you didn't care one iota that it would affect me this way."
Snape's lips twisted into a cruel smile.
"Did you imagine, after you were branded, when I sent you on back to the Burrow, that it was merely a means to deliver them Wolfsbane potion?" he asked cruelly. "Did you think I just wanted you to suffer in the knowledge that taking the Dark Mark changed you as surely as fire changes everything it comes into contact with? Did you think it wasn't a test?"
Hermione blinked at him, her brow furrowing further.
"I don't understand," she shook her head.
"You had your chance to walk away," he said. "You were right there in the Burrow. You could've stayed. You could've run. You could've chosen any other life for yourself but the path of a double-agent Death Eater. I gave you a way to get out of this, Miss Granger. And you returned."
"As though the Dark Lord wouldn't have hunted me down?" she challenged. "I know he can track us via these."
She flung her arm in his direction, showing the ugly black stain of the Dark Mark upon her pale flesh. Today it leaked no ink from its surface. Today it was raised and almost pulsing with the power that so much blatant murder had granted it.
"Some still run," Snape shrugged. "You are powerful enough and clever enough to have found a way to cloak its effects – to purge it from your system – to end its control over you. You could have left this life behind."
"How?" Hermione demanded, clawing against the sink to pull herself to her feet without ceasing the glare she levelled at him. "You know how it felt to stand in their presence and feel dirty. You know how it feels to know what you know and do as you've done, only to return to the company of those you don't understand. How could I have stayed?"
"You could have run. You had a choice, Miss Granger. I let you go knowing you might throw a wrench in Dumbledore's plans for you; I insisted to him that this had to be your choice, as surely as taking the mark is a choice for all Death Eaters."
"You didn't give me a choice about taking the Mark," Hermione argued.
"I gave you a choice about living up to its promise," he retorted coldly. "And you made it. Do not presume to stand there and squawk or sob over that which you have done. You chose this. You returned. You could have gone anywhere in the world after you were Marked. And yet I found you crying on a swing in Spinner's End, waiting to be found and led back down this devil's pit. You made that decision and you will live with it for the rest of your days. No matter how numbered they might be."
Hermione felt sick and her bottom lips trembled, tears stinging her eyes as they spilled over to run down her cheeks. He was right and she knew it. She could have run. She couldn't have stayed with the Order, but she didn't have to come back, either. She'd done it for them. She done it for him. She'd done it for any number of reasons that meant the Dark Lord's reign of terror might end. She'd done it knowing that things would only get worse, before they could get better.
But she'd done it, nonetheless
Unable to stand the sight of him when he looked at her without pity, without remorse, and without sympathy, Hermione tightened her towel around herself, squared her shoulders, and left the room. She didn't see the way Snape's head shook ever so slightly from side to side. She didn't see the way one of his fists clenched against the urge to call her back and offer her comfort. She didn't see the glitter of sadness in his obsidian eyes as she went.
All she saw was her own anger, her own remorse, and her own self-disgust. For now, it would have to be enough.