1) This story is a Mature story written for adults. As such, it will have lots and lots of adult content, including but not limited to, sex, violence, infidelity, death, domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, potential self-harm, extremely unhealthy relationships, and manipulative arseholes. I do not and will not include trigger warnings on chapters. This is my personal choice. If that is something that bothers you, I recommend not continuing any further. You have been warned.
2) Keep in mind that this story takes place after Voldemort's victory and as such, characters are not the same as they were when they were still fighting the good fight. I write my own interpretation of how I believe the characters would change based on their circumstances and experiences. If you are looking for the same characters you read in the books, you will be disappointed. Just as I am not the same person I was five years ago or when I was in school, neither are the characters. They have grown up. I always attempt to justify why characters behave in certain ways, but some of you may be tempted to accuse me of writing them 'Out of Character'. Please don't. And please don't do that to other writers too. These are our interpretations. Most of the traits will be the same, but people change and evolve as they grow older. Don't expect a person to go through a brutal war and come out unchanged. That's naïve.
*Also, if you are looking for Perfect Mary Sue Hermione who makes zero mistakes and always knows the answer to everything and is supremely powerful, find another story. I write flawed characters. Sometimes very flawed characters. Hermione will definitely be no exception. Some of you will even hate her. That's fine. That's your opinion and you don't have to keep reading.
3) Yes, there are three hundred and sixty-five chapters in this story plus a prologue and epilogue. Each chapter represents a single day in a single year. And like everyone else's life, some days will be more exciting than others. Some days will have action. Some will be quiet reflections and some will even be memories of what happened before. Each chapter will represent a single day in this year.
*IF you SKIM or SKIP chapters entirely, I would recommend you NOT read this story. It will get confusing and you will miss a lot of clues and key content. If you feel these urges, please find another story. Lots of people did not like this story when I was first posting it and that's fine. I don't expect everyone too, but please don't skip around and get mad at me when you don't understand the story. It's complicated. Maybe find another story to read. No hard feelings.
Pay close attention to the Genre tags - Romance isn't selected for a reason. ;)
She had to keep moving. If she stopped for even a second, her fate would be sealed. Ignoring the screams of agony behind her and the pleas for her to stop, Hermione kept running. There was nothing left for her back there. Nothing but pain and drudgery and the uncertainty of what each minute ahead would bring. No one could be expected to endure that kind of existence without completely losing their mind.
With hot, fresh blood still running down her hands, she didn't cease her movements. The coppery smell of the life-giving liquid burned in her nostrils. There hadn't been time to clean her hands. Everything happened so quickly. She could still feel the echoes of the tight grip on her arm that had put everything in motion. How many times had she told her captor, her jailer, to keep his hands to himself? Too many to count. Not that he ever listened.
Maybe she had finally killed him. One could only hope. There hadn't been time to stop and make certain that the job was complete. She had to run. Breaking off the yoke of her captivity, she was afraid that to lessen her steps even the slightest would mean her actions would catch up with her. Death would be too swift a punishment for what she had done. No, if he survived, he would make certain that she wished for death. Of course, the joke would be on him. She already desired to be dead. Living was harder.
Hermione was grateful that she had been planning an escape for a long time. Running without any sort of plan or preparation would only end in defeat. Hidden around the veritable cell that she had been forced to call home for longer than her weakened mind could stand to remember, she had quietly been gathering supplies, hoarding stolen money. If her master noticed that anything was missing, he hadn't confronted her about it. While he lay on the floor of the kitchen cursing her name, with her wand she summoned everything she had hidden to shove down into the beaded bag that she had been saving since the war ended long ago.
He'd found it amusing to give her back the item that had saved her life and the lives of her two best friends while they were on the run hunting for Lord Voldemort's hidden horcruxes. As he handed it back to her with the patronizing request that she 'be a good girl', he'd laughed. Part of her wished that she hadn't explained the significance of the seemingly innocuous accoutrement. But, if she had remained silent, maybe he would have thrown it out on the rubbish heap thinking that it meant nothing. Always empty because she knew he periodically checked it, she felt a strange sense of serenity pass over her as she stuffed it full of the food, money, and supplies she had been nicking. Perhaps it would once again be the only thing that kept her from a painful death.
She didn't know where she was going to go next. All she knew was that she had to first get out of the Death Eater stronghold of Hogsmeade. If she couldn't get that far, it would all be for nothing. Maybe he would be merciful. Likely, he wouldn't. The village, which had been something of a fucked up home for her, was full of those loyal to the regime, loyal to the wizard writhing on the floor in his own blood. An old enemy and always a perceived threat to the empire they had begun to build, she wouldn't be able to find a sympathetic soul in its borders. No matter how many times she had traipsed inside of their homes over the years, she had never been fully accepted as one of them. She had only been seen as an extension of the wizard who gave her orders, who exerted his inexhaustible control over her life. No one would lift a finger to aid her in her escape.
Approaching the gates of the village that had long ago been erected when their Dark Lord defeated her best friend in the Great Hall of Hogwarts Castle, she expected to be stopped, to be interrogated by the dimwitted souls relegated to guard duty. As important as it was to ensure the village remained safe from those outside of the regime who wished it harm, finding competent guards was a never-ending task in futility. Mostly for show, to give the illusion that those who held the power were well-guarded, those deemed unable to complete any other duty often took great pleasures in being as obnoxious as possible executing their puffed up role as guard. They were an unknown variable to her attempt to reach the outside world.
Very little excitement happened on Wednesday afternoons just after the midday meal. Especially not when Hogwarts was in session. There was no other traveller requesting a way out. News travelled at lightning speeds in their village. If she was detained too long, there would be ample time for knowledge of her dastardly deed to reach their ears. Slipping her blood-stained hands in her pockets and praying to whatever deity might be around to hear her cries, she hoped that the splotches of crimson in the front of her robes would be overlooked. Putting her most imperious air on, she stepped forward, daring them to bar her escape.
As much as she might not have cared to know about it, Hermione had a bit of a reputation within Hogsmeade amongst the so-called lesser class that surrounded Lord Voldemort and his most trusted followers. Mudbloods had almost no worth in the society that they'd built beyond manual labor and the most arduous and distasteful of tasks. It rankled their nerves that someone with so little worth because of the accident of her birth should be afforded the respect she was simply because of the wizard who owned the house she slept in. There was severe resentment in some of them. Without the protection of her powerful master, she would be less than the mangy dogs that wandered between the buildings looking for scraps.
She could hear the roar of excitement from the house she'd run from grow louder and louder with each passing moment. Perhaps it hadn't been the greatest of ideas to attack him when so many people were present in the next room. What had begun as a happy day turned in the blink of an eye. Escaping out of the back door into the garden had been all that kept her from being grabbed by one of the guests. The first scream of horror at what she'd done assaulted her ears before she'd even made it out the door. If there was the slightest delay at the gates, she would be dragged back to the scene. Possibly even thrown at the feet of their Dark Lord for her audacity to attack one of his most trusted.
Fighting the urge to bounce from one foot to the other in her nervousness, Hermione stared down the guards on duty. Neither of them cared much for her, but they also had no lasting grudges. The smartest of the idiots tasked with the village's protection understood that if they just resisted being openly hostile to her, their lives were generally easier. Fearing that their attention would be drawn to the noise, she attempted to step through the gates the second she arrived. To their credit, they seemed to have no intention of stopping her. The first hurdle to getting away appeared to be over. Relaxing her tense shoulders only slightly, she believed she had an actual chance of making it.
"Stop that witch! Don't let her get away!"
Until she heard the familiar voice she could pick out of a crowded room. A familiar voice that belonged to a wizard with a great deal more authority than she possessed. His orders roused the guards into action. Taking off at a run, moving in a zigzag pattern to keep from being hit by the powerful Stunners shot in her direction, Hermione didn't stop until she was well outside the anti-Apparition wards that would have no doubt been immediately activated the moment one of her precious master's guests heard him screaming out in pain. There was a protocol that everyone who lived within the village's confines followed when there was an incident.
She felt the tingle of energy indicating the edge of the wards. Too afraid to look back in case she discovered she was about to be captured again, Hermione spun in place, her destination unknown, but her determination firm. Against all odds, her escape had been successful. That, unfortunately, was the easy part. Now, she had to figure out how she was going to keep out of the clutches of those who only meant her harm.