A/N: This is it guys, this is the very last chapter for this story, I hope you have all enjoyed this fanfic just as I have enjoyed writing it. This story started out as a way of helping a friend deal with an unfortunate situation and she is now doing much better and has been able to pick her life up and is going strong. The second half of this story was all my imagination and it has been fun for me to be able to explore different relationships, friendships and different storylines.
A/N: Chapter Warnings – Potential mentions of sexual assault, abuse, violence, bad language, other sexual situations and dark themes.
The Final Chapter
Sirius Black was sat in his small prison cell in the most heavily guarded part of Azkaban. Moody had told him that he was going to be in that cell until his trial began, which wasn't going to happen until at least the end of August. He had tried to contact Dumbledore many times to get assistance but, there was nothing Dumbledore could do for him now. Moody was adamant that he was to remain in prison for the rest of his life and that Moody would die before he would allow a rapist and a potential murderer to walk the streets again.
Sirius sat in his cell, thinking about the differences between the choices he had and the choices he made. In regards to Hermione Granger, Sirius Black had felt that she was something that he wanted but would never be able to have. So, he had taken matters into his own hands and forced her into a situation that had nearly destroyed her. Sirius knew that his chances of escaping Azkaban, again, were highly unlikely and he knew that his chances of being cleared at his trial were practically nonexistent. As he looked around the tiny, dark, damp and rotting cell, all he could think about was how familiar this all was. It was as if the walls were saying 'welcome home old friend, welcome to the rest of your life'.
Many miles away, in a magnificent castle in Scotland, Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley were sat in front of the common room fireplace. They had been told about what had happened, that Hermione had been taken and both the boys were feeling numb. Harry felt most guilty, he had treated Hermione awfully over the last few weeks. He had acted as if she were a complete stranger to him. Harry couldn't help but think that if he had been a little more understanding of his sister, then maybe none of this would have ever happened. Harry couldn't help but think that Hermione's best chance at survival right now was Severus Snape. Harry hated Snape but knew deep down that if anyone was never going to give up until he found her, then it would be Snape. Ron was thinking about how much Harry had driven Hermione away in the recent weeks, but he would never admit that to Harry, not yet. They both needed each other at the moment and Ron was not going to start having a go at Harry until they knew what was going on with Hermione.
Naturally, the whole school knew about Hermione's capture by the following morning of the event itself. The Gryffindors were in a solemn mood and were easily riled by some of the comments the Slytherins had been making. Neville Longbottom spent more and more time with Harry and Ron as a means of support. As the days slowly passed, the boys began letting Neville in a little bit more. One day the three of them had been sat around the fireplace when Ron looked at Harry.
"Do you think we should tell him the truth about everything?" Ron had asked quietly.
Harry paused for a moment and thought about it before slowly nodding. There had been so many rumours and awful stories going around, about how and why Hermione had disappeared and Harry felt that if one other knew the truth, it would make things a little better for Ron and him. Also, Harry felt that Hermione would not mind Neville knowing the truth, after all Neville had been there for her since the beginning and he never asked questions or demanded the truth from her, Neville had just listened. Something that everyone should have done for Hermione right from the start. Harry turned to Neville.
"It all started last August..." Harry began.
Draco Malfoy woke up, he was disorientated but could tell he was in the hospital wing.
He groaned when he tried to move his head, he felt like his head was made of lead. As the memories came back to him and he fought hard not to blush, embarrassingly enough, he had been taken down by essentially air.
"Ah, Mr Malfoy, back with us I see" Madame Pompfrey smiled at him.
"You did well Mr Malfoy" she said.
"What happened?" He asked.
"Death Eaters broke into the school but don't worry, the Order sorted it out...well, for the most part anyway" her expression turned sad.
Draco wanted to ask but Pompfrey beat him to it.
"There were no deaths, well we are not entirely certain on that yet. Antonin Dolohov captured Miss Granger, there is a likely chance that he has killed her by now" Pompfrey said, trying not to cry.
"Granger?" Malfoy gasped. But she hadn't even been anywhere near the tower, he had seen her make her way back to her common room, minutes before he climbed the tower.
Pompfrey just nodded and then cast a diagnostic spell on him. She was satisfied that he was alright and gave him a pepper up potion and officially discharging him.
Draco wanted to get out, he wanted to go and see Severus. As soon as he was out of the hospital wing, he practically ran for the dungeons.
On his way down he nearly crashed into McGonagall.
"I apologise..." he said.
"What the devil are you doing running in the corridors?" She exclaimed.
"I..." he tried again.
"Don't worry Mr Malfoy, I see you are feeling better. Off to your dormitory?" She asked him.
Draco shook his head.
"I wanted to speak to Professor Snape first" he said.
McGonagall shook her head.
"I don't think now if the best time dear, he..." she hesitated.
"I know, I know exactly what he is going to be like which is why I want to see him" Draco said.
"I don't think you understand..." Minerva started but was rudely cut off.
"Excuse me for being rude Madame, but he is my godfather after all, I know exactly what has been going on in his private life recently so I shall say it again, I intend to see my godfather" he stated.
Minerva looked stunned, she knew Severus had always favoured Mr Malfoy but she never realised that Severus was Draco's godfather. She backed down and nodded.
"Just be careful, he's volatile and still has his wand. Look after him, see if you can talk some sense into him" she said as she patted his shoulder and continued her journey.
Draco raced the rest of the way to his godfather's private rooms and knocked. Upon receiving no answer, he let himself in. The wards recognised him after all.
The place was dark, Severus was clearly not here. Draco moved to go and sit on the sofa, he would wait until Severus returned.
Draco lit the fire in the fireplace and turned to sit down. Upon turning, he let out a frantic, terrified, high-pitched, super girly scream.
Severus had been there after all, he had been sat in his chair, in the dark, drowning himself in fire whiskey.
"You're up" Severus slurred.
Draco gulped at his godfather's deadly tone but moved to sit down anyway.
"He took her" Severus said bitterly.
Draco didn't know how to reply but a thought suddenly occurred to him.
"How long was I out?" He asked.
"Five days" Severus growled.
Draco winced, he'd been out for five days. Hermione had been at the hands of a notorious Death Eater for five days.
"I'm sorry" Draco said.
"I've been looking, thinking and wondering but there was no trace and no one knows where he is or where he might have taken her" Severus replied, still in that deadly tone.
"I will help you look" Draco whispered reassuringly whilst gently rubbing his godfathers forearm, hoping to be comforting.
Severus let out a sarcastic chuckle.
"It was her you know" Severus said.
Draco stared at him.
"She cast the stunning spell on you" Severus said.
"What! Why?" Draco exclaimed, he was shocked to learn that.
"She did it because she had Potter's map and knew that the Order was on its way. Had the Order seen you casting the cruciatus curse..." Severus informed him.
Draco nodded, knowing exactly what would have happened had he been caught.
"I never thought I'd want to torture someone before, then Black walked in instead of Weasley and I have never felt a desire quite as strong to harm someone as I did in that moment" Draco admitted.
"I know" Severus replied.
"It saved your skin though" Severus said.
Draco nodded thoughtfully.
"I was instructed by the Dark Lord to harm someone close to Potter. I expected that in the end, it would have been Granger or Dumbledore that I would have to harm, as they were both aware of the situation and would have agreed to it. Sentimental Gryffindors. But then Black strolled in, the Dark Lord is still convinced that Potter was on his godfathers side so, harming Black would mean that I succeeded in my task" Draco said out loud. It felt good to say it and it felt even better to be free from the task that had been looming over his head since Christmas.
"Agreed, you have been successful and have survived for now" Severus said.
"Although, I am pissed that you got to do it first" Severus chuckled darkly.
Draco gave him a sympathetic smile and squeezed his godfathers arm.
"Anyway, you could probably do with some sleep. It's late, go to bed" Severus ordered his godson.
"Only if you do" Draco said.
Severus agreed although Draco definitely did not believe him but decided not to press the issue.
Draco left and headed for bed. On his way to the dormitory, he saw Dumbledore heading for Severus' rooms. Draco tried not to laugh, the headmaster should probably be saying his prayers right now.
Dumbledore noticed Draco heading for his dormitory and guessed that Severus was now alone. Although Severus was in one of his dark moods and had been for days, there was still much more important matters to discuss.
"Severus?" Dumbledore said hesitantly as he entered.
"What?" Severus snarled rudely.
"Now Severus..." Dumbledore chastised.
Severus growled and it made Dumbledore back up a bit.
"Perhaps what I have to say can wait. The students will be sent home tomorrow, two weeks early, but at least they won't be around and we can process all of what has happened. But I really must speak with you Severus. Preferably not here at school, too many eyes and ears" Dumbledore said.
Dumbledore paused waiting for a response. He got none.
"Would it be acceptable if I came to see you at your family home Severus? Perhaps tomorrow evening?" Dumbledore pushed.
Severus growled again. He'd had enough of the old coot and he wanted to spend all his waking hours searching for his Hermione. Alive or dead, he wanted her home, where she belonged.
Severus decided to bite the bullet and agree to the old coot's request. The sooner he dealt with him, the sooner he would leave him alone.
Upon seeing Severus' agreement, the headmaster stood and let himself out.
"Thank you Severus. I will see you tomorrow" Dumbledore said as he left the room.
Severus was left alone to his thoughts, thinking woefully about his Hermione. He knew now he was alone and for the first time since it had all happened, he allowed himself to cry.
Meanwhile, Hermione groaned as she opened her eyes and took in her surroundings. The place still just as prison like as the first day she arrived. She was covered in cuts and bruises, she was in pain, everything was painful now. But she was still alive, she wasn't sure yet if that was a good thing or not.
She looked down at the cut on the top of her arm and at the top of her thigh. She grimaced at how deep they were, she thought she could even see the bone and was slightly worried about infection.
The best she could do was try and keep the wounds as clean as she could but she couldn't heal them, obviously. She couldn't use magic in here anyway, something was stopping her from using even wandless magic.
She had been waiting, for days, but no one had showed up. She was worried that she would be stuck here forever if no one came to help her soon. She could barely stand up with her thigh as cut up as it was and she couldn't move without the pain making her dizzy and forcing her back to the floor.
She had managed to find some old, dirty sheets that had been here for far too long and were stained with god knows what. But she had no choice, she had to wrap her wounds so they could begin to heal.
The more movement she made, the more the wound reopened.
She wasn't sure how many days she had been here as she kept drifting in and out of consciousness due to blood loss. But every time she closed her eyes, she saw her Severus and she wished nothing more than for him to be with her right now.
She lay down, she could feel herself drifting off again and she allowed sleep to claim her. Hoping that tomorrow would be less painful than today.
The Gryffindor common room had been silent for nearly a week, everyone had been informed about what had happened and they all decided to respect the sombre atmosphere that came with a small bunch of fifth year students.
The three boys, Harry, Ron and Neville, spent most of their time sat on the couch in front of the fire, they had hardly moved. Only to eat and use the bathroom. If one shed a tear, they all started crying.
Harry had been more volatile than ever. He was so angry that Hermione had been taken, it was his fault. If he hadn't turned his back, then he and Hermione would have gone to that tower together but no, Hermione had put herself in danger, for him, again, and this time she had payed the price.
All students were being sent home today. Exams had already been done and over with but there was still two weeks left of the school term left. However, out of respect to Hermione, the governors had agreed to allow the students home early.
Ron, Harry and Neville had laughed humourlessly at that. The school was closing out of respect for Hermione. When the reality was, had Hermione been here, she would have been angry at the unfairness of missing two whole weeks of school. Then again, had Hermione been here then the school would not have been closing early at all.
As the students packed and headed towards the train, the remaining Weasley children, Harry and Neville were heading to McGonagall's office. They were spending the summer at Grimmauld Place. Harry, Ron and Neville were unsure how they felt about that, knowing that this had also been a personal hell for Hermione. Harry and Ron had needed a confidant after Hermione had been taken and the two boys eventually broke down and told Neville everything, from the previous summer and everything that had happened since, and Neville had promised to spend the summer with his friends, hoping he could be there for them. They knew ghost's existed and if Hermione was dead, she wouldn't be at peace visiting Grimmauld, which meant that, either way, they knew they wouldn't see her.
Severus had packed up just enough of his belongings to last him the summer. He had prepared himself for a long and difficult holiday. He was going to be spending most of his time with the Death Eaters and praying for any news that he could get regarding his Hermione. He was determined to have her home.
He was probably already late for his meeting with Dumbledore at his own home. The old coot had never specified a time but Severus knew he was late anyway. Nothing he did would ever satisfy the old headmaster.
Severus sighed at the imagery set in his head.
Dumbledore would be sat on the sofa, in Severus' lounge, with a glass of alcohol and some bloody lemon drops, fiddling with his television in fascination and just generally making himself at home. Severus would enter his own house and be invited to 'take a seat' with Dumbledore.
He chuckled at the notion of being invited into his own home. Alas, Dumbledore was arrogant like that. He always knew where he wasn't wanted but he showed up anyway.
Severus gritted his teeth as he left the silent and dark castle behind him. He was always the last to leave the school grounds.
He headed for the apparition point and apparated to the point nearest to his home.
He walked towards his home and was unsurprised that Dumbledore had already made himself at home. From outside the house, Severus could see that Dumbledore had already turned on his electricity and was mucking about with his television. The television had always intrigued the old man.
Severus sighed and mentally prepared himself. He needed to get this over with.
Severus unlocked his front door and let himself in. He turned and closed the door and was locking it. He, was buying himself time to mentally prepare himself still.
"Severus, are you home?"
Severus' heart lept into his throat and his whole body froze for a fraction of a second before he dropped all of his belongings on the floor and spun back round to face the lounge and paused upon looking at the sofa.
Severus Snape promptly burst into tears; he was positively sobbing and snivelling as he rushed towards the sofa.
He had to touch to believe.
He collapsed on his knees and looked up into those eyes. He reached out to cup her pale, concerned face.
"You're real" he murmured through his tears.
Hermione grabbed his hand and kissed it.
"Severus?" She questioned still looking worriedly at him.
"I thought you were dead" he whispered as he picked her up and held her.
He squeezed her so tightly as he spoke.
"I thought he had got you, how the hell did you escape?" He asked as he kissed her all over whilst still sobbing.
Hermione let out a soft moan of pain and Severus froze.
He then looked at her, properly looked and noticed her body covered in bruises and then he noticed the old, torn linens, wrapped around her upper arm and upper thigh.
"You're injured" he stated, immediately rushing her upstairs to the room she had stayed in only weeks before.
"What happened?" He asked her softly as he whisked about the room grabbing bandages, his potions kit and bruise paste and began to heal her.
"I was falling, from the astronomy tower and I could see Dolohov reaching out to grab my ankle. I knew I needed to do something; I was honestly prepared to die before I let him capture me. Then, my mind went blank and it cleared. Then I thought, 'Destination, Determination and Deliberation'. I know we had practiced apparition but as I was falling, I think my magic sensed it and helped me save myself. I was surprised to learn that the headmaster had lowered all the wards but greatful all the same as it meant I could escape" she hissed as Severus started mending her muscle tissue in her thigh.
She had thrown up many times in the last few days when she accidentally caught sight of the bone that could be seen in her thigh. She couldn't believe she had managed to do that.
"There was a loud crack and the next thing I know, I'm lying on the ground, splinched in bloody Manchester. I knew I had been injured but I didn't look at how bad it was, I had your door key, on a chain around my neck which is where it has been since the day you gave it to me, and knew that I only had to make it to your home and I knew it wasn't far. It was dark so I knew it wouldn't be too difficult although, I must say I had forgotten that Manchester was a major red light district. After being asked several times how much I charged, I made it here. I passed out as soon as I had locked the front door. I didn't even make it to the lounge" she said.
Severus let out a shaky breath. He couldn't believe he had been sat at the school moping for nearly a week when she had been here the whole time, injured and suffering.
"I'm sorry" he stuttered out.
"For what?" She asked.
"For not coming sooner" he said.
"It's alright Severus, I understand. I wanted to tell you but then I remembered your 'no magic' policy, I was injured and my magic was so depleted from the apparition that I don't think I would've been able to summon a patronus anyway. So I waited, knowing that you'd come here eventually for the holidays. I was prepared to wait" she said.
"After you fell from the tower, we all thought Dolohov had got you. We didn't know if this was going to be a rescue mission or a body recovery" Severus choked on the last couple of words.
"Everyone thinks you're dead. Potter, Weasley, Longbottom, the Order and Draco, everyone" Severus said.
He had never felt so relieved before and he grimaced at her injuries.
"I can heal these but your body and magic have already begun the natural healing process. You're going to have a couple of vicious splinching scars" Severus warned her gently.
"That's fine, scars are fine. I will look at them and will always think how badass I was apparating in mid-air whilst falling to my death from over a hundred feet" she declared looking at her wounds proudly.
"I love you" Severus said.
"I love you too darling and I'm sorry I worried you so" she said as she leaned up and kissed him.
Severus moaned into the kiss, an hour ago he was convinced that he would never feel her beautiful lips against his ever again.
Hermione slowly started to pull him on top of her.
"You're injured" he stated, breaking the kiss and slowly starting to pull away from her.
"There is nothing wrong with my lips" Hermione replied, pulling him back in for a snog.
They were busy snogging when a cough interrupted them from the bedroom doorway.
Hermione shrieked at the unexpected company whilst Severus cursed at his forgetfulness.
Albus Dumbledore stared thoughtfully at them.
Hermione was trying to cover herself as she was literally only wearing a pair of knickers after Severus had to remove the rest in order to heal her.
"You've know Miss Granger's whereabouts this whole time?" Dumbledore asked.
"Don't be dense old man, of course I didn't" Severus snarled in return.
"Then how did she get here?" Dumbledore asked.
"I gave her a key to my home back in April" Severus replied.
Dumbledore just stared at Severus, a rare moment of surprise graced his features.
"April?" Dumbledore questioned.
"Did you really believe Minerva when she told you that Hermione was staying with her at her private home?" Severus asked, smirking that Dumbledore had truly been fooled for once.
Dumbledore looked like he was about to argue when he noticed all the bloody bandages and Severus' potions kit and healing apparatus.
"You're injured Miss Granger?" Dumbledore looked slightly worried.
"I managed to apparate whilst I was falling but splinched myself in the process. My magic was depleted and I couldn't get a message sent to you. I apologise for the concern I have caused" she said.
"I should have protected you from the situation in the first place and for that it is I who must apologise. If there is anything I can do for you Miss Granger, please ask" he said.
"Well there is one thing..." she trailed off.
Dumbledore looked at her expectantly.
"Severus and I are free to choose how we conduct our lives in regards to our relationship. I am seventeen and therefore regarded as an adult in the wizarding world. You will not interfere and will keep your opinions to yourself. This has been going on for nearly a year now. My learning has not been affected, nor has anybody else's, my grades do not reflect anything other than the work I have put into my studies and Severus and I have never been anything short of highly discreet and professional when it comes down to my education" she said firmly.
Dumbledore stared for a moment before nodding his head in acceptance to her terms. It was the least he could do for the misery he had put her through for the year. Also, there was nothing in the rules against a teacher and a student being together as long as both parties were of age.
"Anything else?" He asked.
"You will never breathe a word about Severus and I to anyone. I will not have his reputation pulled down because he dared to love once more. I will not allow you to paint me as the scarlet woman either sir. I will want a no loop hole wand oath when you are away from this home. I will be checking the next time I see you sir" she stated.
Dumbledore nodded, he understood Severus' 'no magic' rule and knew that he would have to make a wand oath for the girl was thorough when it came down to it.
"Anything else?" Dumbledore asked.
"Just one more thing. Tonight, I take it that you are here to speak to Severus about something important. However, after you are done here tonight, you will leave Severus and I alone to enjoy the rest of our summer. No demands to meet with him, no showing up at this home unannounced and no forcing Severus to come and see you every time he may or may not have been called to a meeting" she stated.
"If Severus feels that the information he has is of the utmost importance and it is something the Order needs to know there and then or if there is something you need to tell him, then of course you do not have to uphold the promise. But I do want Severus to have the break he deserves this summer, I have a feeling that everything has changed now and the war will begin very soon. Severus needs to relax and rest so he is prepared. He is your best warrior, your only hope and I will not have him anything but healthy" Hermione finished.
"Understood Miss Granger. I will try to oblige to those requests for the sake of Severus. I can see that you will look after him well" Dumbledore said, looking thoroughly chastised in the doorway.
"Well she told you off" Severus finally said, looking stunned at his love's fierce protectiveness over his well-being.
"Indeed she did. Like I said, it's the least I can do for her, for the both of you. However Severus, if I may have a word and then I shall leave you to tend to Miss Granger and hope not to inconvenience anymore of your summer than necessary" Dumbledore said.
"I will be back shortly love" he said as he kissed her cheek.
Hermione was starting to feel sleepy again and her eyes closed.
Her eyes opened again when she heard movement in the bedroom.
She immediately saw Severus.
"Has he gone?" She asked him.
"He's gone" he grinned at her.
"Come to bed love" she said to him, in a husky voice.
"Now darling, you're still injured and you know full well that, that tone of voice weakens my self-control" Severus said to her as he undressed for bed.
Hermione just grinned up at him as he climbed into bed next to her.
The two of them settled down, snuggling together whilst avoiding Hermione's wounds.
"And I still cannot believe they closed the school two weeks early" Hermione said as the pair of them began falling asleep.
Severus chuckled at her, still the same Hermione.
"Goodnight love" he said to her as he kissed her cheek.
"I love you Severus" she said and kissed him back.
"I love you too sweetheart" he whispered back.
Everything was alright, for now anyway. The help Hermione had asked for, had finally been given.
A/N: I will write an afterword, which I will put up in a couple of days as there are some personal thank you so I wish to say. I may also write a sequel, if you guys would be interested. Please let me know. If I do write a sequel, it will take me awhile to put it up. So don't expect anything sooner than September and I might start a new story after the summer holidays. I just want to say a thank you to all of those who have read, commented, reviewed, followed and favourited this story. I wish you a happy summer. I hope you enjoy the ending.