A/N:This ficlet expands on a scene that can only be found in the movie.


Severus lowered himself into the chair behind the massive desk in the Headmaster's Office and sighed. There was an inordinate amount of new paperwork to attend to. He picked up the parchment on top of the pile: another request for extreme and needless disciplinary action, signed by both Carrows. He sighed again. Gone were the days of simply steering a misguided Filch into a better decision. Now, he had to manage two bloodthirsty lunatics to keep them from outright torture.

Fucking hell.

As he glanced at the request, pain screamed through his bond, driving it deep into his being.

Merlin, she she was hurt. Badly.

He dropped the parchment.

He had to go.

0o0o0o0

An overcast sky and icy March wind greeted Severus as he arrived outside the front gates of Malfoy Manor. Using his Mark to gain entry, he forced the wrought iron aside, startling several of Lucius's prized peacocks. They looked as ragged as their owner did as of late: dirty, disheveled, and quite likely abandoned to whatever fate awaited them. Severus shivered, and pulled his frock coat tighter around him.

Merlin, what had happened? Why the hell is she here?

He felt drawn to the main ballroom.

His boots clicked on the nearly endless marble as he wound his way through the massive home, striding as quickly as possible while doing his best to appear calm. Suddenly, an enormous crash vibrated the walls, punctuated by the sound of Bella's screeches.

He ran.

Severus rounded the last corner to enter the ballroom and stopped abruptly.

The mess, the blood, and the bodies initially confused him. Greyback was unconscious near the wall; the room's colossal chandelier was lying in pieces on the floor in the center of the room; Weasley was dragging Hermione's unconscious form toward a house elf…and a CRACK of Apparition began to twist them away.

Severus watched as Bella's silver blade tumbled point-over-hilt toward Hermione, and he steeled himself for the pain.

It never came.

He didn't need the brief aroma of sand and surf to know exactly where they had gone.

0o0o0o0

Severus suppressed his terror and reached out through their bond. Hermione was alive—but she was still in crushing, eviscerating pain. It took all his strength to keep from sprinting back to the gates and twisting away to her side.

A shriek of frustration from Bella echoed through the cavernous room. "I've called him," she breathed. "Our Master is coming."

And she threw her head back and began to laugh.

Severus clasped his hands behind his back and waited. There was no sense in trying to contain the witch now.

He took a deep breath. He had only just arrived; he couldn't leave yet without raising suspicion, especially if the Dark Lord was on his way. He just needed to get out before his Master saw him there.

"A bit overdramatic even for you, wouldn't you say, Bella?" Severus asked, infusing his voice with as much indifference as possible and quelling the pull of his bondmate's agony.

"Oh, Severus, let me tell you what happened," Bella managed through her mirth.

He pursed his lips. "If you must."

"I've carved up Potter's Mudblood with my favorite toy." Severus cocked an eyebrow at her until she controlled her amusement. "The bitch will die. Soon. The Mudblood will fade and die and the world will be rid of her tainted magic forever."

"Really, Bella? The death of one has you so…jubilant? Perhaps a new hobby would prove a…healthy endeavor." He motioned to the destroyed chandelier. "And certainly that's not all that happened here."

"Greyback caught the Mudblood, the blood-traitor, and a boy who looked like Potter and brought them here. I wanted to ensure it was Potter before calling the Dark Lord."

"I see. And Greyback?" he asked, indicating the figure curled up on the floor.

"The werewolf was confused about whether he deserved a reward for their capture. I clarified it for him." Bella's eyes were wild with mirth.

"I'm certain he will be thankful for your explanation once he wakes," Severus replied, curling his lips into a smirk. "As I believe the entertainment is long over, I will leave you to your evening." He strode toward the entryway which led to the hall.

The CRACK of Apparition, accompanied by a brief shock through his Mark, announced his Master's sudden arrival. Severus bent to a knee and stayed there. Shite! Not now!

"My Lord," Severus said.

"My Lord," Bella echoed.

"Tell me, Bella, why have you summoned me?" The Dark Lord wandered about the room, his bare feet becoming stained by the blood that had congealed on the parquet.

A spasm of indescribable pain rippled through the bond. Severus fought the urge to vomit.

Hermione!

"My Lord…" Bella began and faltered.

"Severus?" The Dark Lord poked the still-prone werewolf with a bloody toe.

"My Lord, I arrived moments before you. I didn't—"

"Silence!" He turned his back on Bella and Severus and walked toward the ballroom entryway. "I will see you in the study, Bella."

Bella crawled after the Dark Lord, her robes smearing the crimson pools on the floor into a trail behind her, leaving him alone with the unconscious werewolf. Severus knew better than to leave. He stood, folded his hands behind his back, and started to pace.

From down the hall, he heard his Master demand to see Lucius, Cissy, and Draco.

A clawing panic squeezed his chest: the fools with Hermione wouldn't know what to do, and right now, he was trapped in a room that had been bathed in her blood.

0o0o0o0

After a few moments of fruitless pacing, Severus reached out to his bondmate. The curse carved in Hermione's skin was consuming her magic—their bond was the only thing holding it fast, the only thing anchoring her magic to her. He knew that once they were in physical contact, he could add his magic to hers, and reverse the damage being done by Bella's blade.

For a second, he considered the price of fleeing the Manor, Apparating directly to the cottage, and giving all of it up: the years spent spying for the Order, the plans solidified with Dumbledore, the protection of the children at Hogwarts, the hours upon hours training his mind to hide their connection—all of it.

Who else could say he'd tricked the Dark Lord—and everyone else—into believing he loved the wrong Gryffindor Muggle-born?

Lily Potter, the decoy.

His great deception.

Yes, if he left now, everything they had both done—to help the Order and to hide their bond—would be for naught. And while he'd be able to heal her, it would bring the certainly of a death sentence. There would be a bounty on them both, forcing them to hide for the rest of their lives.

And he'd promised Hermione that he'd never do that.

Reluctantly, he decided to stay at the Manor until her magic was nearly dry, and he had no choice but to go.

0o0o0o0

As the hours passed—each more sluggish and weary than the last—Severus kept count of the different screams echoing from Lucius' study.

Soon. The Dark Lord had to call him soon. There weren't many Death Eaters left to Crucio.

The servants who the Dark Lord wished to torture the longest—and the most severely—were always taken first. Tonight, it appeared that he was going to be called last.

It was the first time he wasn't thankful for that.

Please, come for me now…please!

Once again, Severus began to pace around the enormous, empty room, fighting the urge to kick something. Blast his fucking timing!

He reached out to Hermione, to feel what she was experiencing. Beneath the hot pain, beneath the terror of her magic fading, and beneath—oh, gods—beneath the growing doubt that he would come to heal her—lay the thin, bright thread of their bond.

It was still intact, but growing weaker. He knew that should their connection break, all her magic would be pulled into the curse, and she would die.

What would be left of her if he didn't get there soon?

I have to go!

He probed the Anti-Apparition wards, confirming yes, still only the Dark Lord—and apparently elves—could Apparate directly out of the Manor.

He growled.

"Anxious to get it over with?" Greyback was attempting to right himself, apparently having just regained consciousness.

Severus ignored him.

"Almost fucked a tasty morsel," he continued, licking his lips. "The Mudblood was promised to me. I'm owed."

He swiveled and slammed a hex into the creature, knocking the werewolf prone and silent.

Hermione is dying, and the most I've done is hex an insipid brute.

No longer able to contain his frustration, his magic soared out of him. The floor broke, the wood splintering in rolling waves as his fury exploded; mirrors and sconces shattered into unrecognizable shards; the walls buckled and cracked. He watched as her blood seeped into rifts that had formed in the parquet, the evidence of her torture christening the Manor permanently.

When it was over, he stumbled to a corner, slid to the floor, and allowed his stomach to empty.

Then he began to weep.

0o0o0o0

Six hours later

She was dying. He could feel it.

The decision was made—the decision to damn them to a life on the run. Perhaps the boy would win and someday they'd be free. But he couldn't wait any longer.

I'm coming, Hermione.

He turned to discover Bella blocking the entryway, wand at the ready. "It is the Dark Lord's pleasure to see you now."

Fuck.

Sweet Merlin, I beg you...don't let her die…please…

With that, he reinforced his shields, strode toward the study, and met his fate.

0o0o0o0

Severus Apparated to edge of wards surrounding Shell Cottage and waited. The thunder of the choppy surf greeting the sand was the only sound in the darkness. Someone would come to greet him. Soon.

He glanced down. His hands were still shaking from the Cruciatus, but otherwise, he was relatively unscathed.

Had he made the right choice, not coming right away? Would he find she was too far gone for even the bond magic to heal her?

What would he do if he couldn't save her?

Hermione screamed, high and long, until the echo was lost in the rumble of the breaking waves. Severus fought to breathe.

Bill Weasley appeared from the side of the house, his boots crushing the Sea Lavender that seemed to have sprouted up everywhere around it. As he approached, he pointed his wand threateningly at Severus's chest.

"Headmaster Snape."

"Mr Weasley."

"Why are you here?"

"The blade that cut Miss Granger is cursed," he said, swallowing all the frantic emotions that threatened to overwhelm his composure. He shouldn't act nervous; it was already suspicious that he arrived unannounced. "I can help her." He forced his voice steady. "Ask me security questions. But please know, time is of the essence."

"What Potions essay did you make me rewrite three times?"

"An essay on the correct method for brewing Strengthening Solution."

"What was the nature of the curse I asked you to help me break—"

"A pen-friend sent you a cursed hat that caused your ears to shrivel."

His former student narrowed his eyes and surveyed Severus with an intense stare. "Upstairs, second bedroom on the right," he said finally.

As if he couldn't follow their bond.

As if he couldn't feel her screams in his soul.

0o0o0o0

Bill followed him into the house. His wife, Fleur, was standing in the kitchen sipping coffee, and looked up as they entered; she watched Severus silently as he crossed the room to the stairs.

He barely contained his urge to run.

The wooden stairs voiced their complaints as he ascended to the second floor. The youngest Weasley annoyance, Ronald, was pacing the hall in front of the bedroom. "What—"

Hermione screamed.

He didn't have time to address the idiot's half-formed question. And to be honest, he didn't give a fuck what this particular Weasley thought. Or any Weasley, in truth.

Severus pushed the door open, discovering Potter was inside, sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at Hermione helplessly as she lay beside him. His bondmate was deathly pale, her sweaty, ripped clothes bloody and dirty, and her hair, matted and wild. The bandage binding her arm was almost completely bathed in red. She screamed again, her eyes pinching shut in agony.

Merlin, hadn't they tried to do anything at all?

"Get out," Severus growled.

Potter looked up but appeared not to recognize his former Potions professor. He mumbled something about Lovegood and burying a house elf, and stumbled the door, shutting it behind him as he left.

Severus warded the room.

He whispered the magic to unbutton his frock coat; once the buttons were free, he slipped out of it, set it across a chair and rolled up his shirt sleeves. He slid onto the bed next to her, his magic reaching out to blanket them both.

"Hermione," he whispered. "I'm here."

0o0o0o0

Several hours later, Severus rose in the half-light of the early morning, gliding out of bed to make his way down the narrow hall to the tiny washroom. He sighed as he leaned against the sink with both hands, the tension of hours on edge crashing in on him.

He knew, at last, Hermione was going to survive.

Drained, he assessed himself in the mirror. Damn. The healing had depleted his magic significantly. He needed rest. He needed—

As he scrubbed his hand down his face, the door behind him sprang open, swinging wildly on its hinges and slamming into the wall behind it with a crash. Severus started.

If a slamming door could make him jump, he was really fucking exhausted.

He pursed his lips.

"Potter. I see you are still in the habit of walking in on someone in the washroom. Planning on using one of my spells against me this time?" Severus asked, meeting the boy's eyes in the mirror.

"What did you do to her?" Potter demanded. "I just went in there. She's naked! She's…" he sputtered, apparently unable to continue. "I heard you. You sounded like you were…"

So, in his panic to reach her, Severus had forgotten to cast a Muffliato. Shite.

"What did you do to her?" he repeated, finding his voice again. "Did you touch her? Did you hurt her?" Potter's voice rose with each question, his face purpling.

As if he wasn't allowed to hold his bondmate.

"I swear to God, Snape, if you laid a hand on her—"

"Enough!"

Severus spun to face the arrogant prick—and Potter's wand pressed into the flesh under his chin, just as he pushed his own into Potter's chest.

Hermione, hair still wild—and dressed only in Severus's white button down—padded in the door, wand in hand. "Put it down, Harry."

Potter turned his interrogation on Hermione. "Did he hurt you?" he asked, his tone licking the edge of hysteria. "Did he spell you to protect him, too?"

She took a step toward Potter, and pushed the tip of her wand into his ribs. His eyes widened comically. "I said, put it down."

Potter capitulated with less grace than Severus thought possible, flinging his wand across the washroom with a snarl. Hermione kept her wand trained on him as she moved to Severus's side and threaded her fingers in his.

Hermione looked up at Severus. "I'll do it," she said.

"Are you certain? Your magic is still recovering. You shouldn't even be out of bed."

"It's fine."

Potter glanced back and forth from Severus to Hermione in confusion. She returned her attention to the boy and raised her wand, angling it slightly upward. "Obliviate."

0o0o0o0

Severus led Hermione back to the bedroom, and sat down next to her on the bed.

"I wish you hadn't gotten out of bed," he said.

"Harry can be…Harry, if you know what I mean."

"I suppose I do."

She reached up and stroked his face gently. "Thank you," she whispered.

"I knew our bond magic would heal you." He bent to kiss her hair. "I'm sorry it took me so long to get here."

"I know you came as soon as you could." Hermione paused. "What did you feel?"

"Everything."

"I'm sorry," she said, her gaze dropping to her lap.

"I won't ask why you were at the Manor."

She met his eye. "They captured us—Snatchers, in the Forest of Dean." Severus looked at her sharply. "Harry broke the Taboo."

"I should have killed that blasted idiot just now."

"It's best that you didn't."

Severus harrumphed. "If the Dark Lord doesn't kill him, I will." He reached for her arm, and turned it gently, examining the bandage. "It will scar. I'm sorry, Hermione."

"It's nothing. You came. You saved me."

They were both silent for a moment.

"Does anyone else suspect? Bill? Ron?" she asked suddenly, as if the question had just occurred to her.

"I don't believe so." Severus tucked a wayward curl behind her ear. "I will lead them to believe that I performed a healing spell instead of invoking bond magic. They will never know that our connection healed you." He cupped her face in his hand. "You know I have to go."

Hermione leaned into him, sighing and breathing him in, and he wrapped his arms around her. He kissed her tenderly.

There was nothing but her. Nothing to sustain him, but their bond.

And this night, it had sustained her as well.

Should they both survive the war in some unforeseeable aberration of fate, nothing would keep him from her again.

Hermione pulled back from him slightly and met his eye. "Until I see you again, stay safe."

"Stay safe."