In response to the Cold Shoulder Challenge at WIKTT. Rating probably R to be sure. Severus' and Hermione's lives are endangered by Voldemort. Dumbledore protects them with the Fidelius Charm after hiding them… together. SS' PoV.
Disclaimer: Of course, Albus, Severus and Hermione are J.K.Rowlings', not mine, as everything else you recognise.
Second disclaimer: This is set in Hermione's seventh year at Hogwarts, which makes her legal wizarding age, certainly when you count the year she used the Time Turner.
Third disclaimer: I am not a native speaker of English and I would appreciate every opportunity to improve my use of it. Especially Brit-picking would be very welcome. Of course I would be happy to return the favour, though my strong points are OOC-ness and an overall critical view.
Chapter 1 – Flight to Atlantis
The house at number 6 was barely visible. It lay further from the street than the other houses and the garden was full of high plants and trees. The gate was flanked by two tall trees, whose roots made entering the garden a bumpy ride. The driveway was made of large flat stones that by now had been overgrown with moss and grasses. The gates opened automatically and the carriage, pulled by two Thestrals, turned up the driveway. Severus saw the girl having trouble to remain seated as the carriage bumped over the threshold of tree roots. Albus Dumbledore smiled at her encouragingly.
The old fool, putting him up with a student, and the Granger girl of all of them. Of course he was no longer safe, now Voldemort had discovered his role as a spy for Albus. And the Fidelius Charm was the only logical option. But why, why had he had to choose the same hiding place for the girl? A Mudblood, add to that. If it hadn't already been discovered he wasn't a loyal Death Eater, this would have convinced Voldemort of the fact.
The carriage had stopped and Albus was handing the girl out. She was holding a basket that had been hissing and mewing all the time, and probably contained a cat. He followed suit and walked up to the great winged horses. He patted them on their skull-like heads and saw the girl eyeing him curiously. Probably she couldn't see the Thestrals, lucky as she was.
Dumbledore now walked towards the large oaken front doors. "Follow me, Severus, Hermione," he said. Indicating the cracked steps leading to the entrance, he added: "Mind the steps." He entered the hall and turned around. "I will now give you a little tour of the house. As I told you, this house is property of my brother Aberforth's. He kindly offered to lend it to me when I said I needed a hiding place for two of my most trusted people. It has not been made Unplottable, but Muggles don't come near it due to some legends. And it is quite out of the common way, as you may have noticed." The girl put the basket down and opened it. Severus just saw something orange jump out and run away.
Severus followed Albus and the girl at a little distance. Left and right Dumbledore indicated several of the paintings with a comment on them. The comments, however, were of little or no use and Severus assumed they were merely meant to distract and appease the girl. She had been sad to have to leave her friends at Hogwarts and hated the thought her parents didn't know where she was. The poor little Gryffindor, all her emotions plainly written on her face. She had not even tried to conceal her disgust at the idea of being in one house with her Potions Professor for – for only the gods knew how long. She had protested, saying she wasn't in danger, saying she wanted to help fighting Voldemort. Always wanting to help, those Gryffindors. Even at the cost of their own lives, as they had seen two years ago. Potter rushing to the help of Black, while he wasn't even in danger; then Black rushing to the help of Potter and paying for it with his life. Like the mindless dog he was.
Dumbledore had by now finished the tour, but Severus had only taken in the strictly necessary information. A Potions laboratory had been set up in the dungeons, and his trunks had been transferred to one of the larger bedrooms. Fortunately, the girl had been disposed of in the rear part of the house, where she had her own bathroom. So they wouldn't risk walking into each other on their way to the shower. They had permission to make use of the gardens at the backside of the house, where they wouldn't be seen. There was a library, which he would explore on his own sometime, separate breakfast and dining rooms, a large drawing room, several more bedrooms and a small, house elf-sized kitchen with a very shy house elf, whose name had escaped him already. Knowing Aberforth, that is to say, he had met him once, which was more than most people could boast on, there would be some surprises in the house as well. At least this house elf wasn't insane as the one in Grimmauld Place, and it had kept the house in good order.
"Well, so far the tour of the house," said Dumbledore, beaming as usual. "I think the time has now come to cast the Fidelius Charm. I hope you have read up on it?" The girl nodded vehemently, while Severus contented himself with one brief nod. "As you know then, you both will have to cast it. Do you trust me as your Secret-Keeper?" Again, they nodded. It was needless to say anything. Dumbledore knew he was the only one Severus would trust as his Secret-Keeper, as he had been the only one to trust him when he turned sides. The girl should know as well as he did that Dumbledore was the only one Voldemort had ever feared. They both took their wands and pointed them at Dumbledore's heart. At the same time they said the incantation.
"Fidenter secretum mihi te credo." Both spoke in hardly more than a whisper, but nevertheless Dumbledore was covered in a light blue aura for a second. Then the light faded away as if nothing had happened. The words were, as in most complex charms, not the hardest part. What mattered was the faith behind them, the faith in the Secret-Keeper. And that is hard to find, in a life-threatening situation.
They stood in silence for a while. Severus clearly felt the consequence of what they just had done. Now they were beyond the point of going back; he would have to put up with the girl for as long as it was necessary. Then Dumbledore moved toward the door and while they followed he spoke again:
"This done, I think I should go. My attention is needed elsewhere. I believe everything is clear. When something important happens, I'll send Fawkes with a message. I trust you not to kill each other. Good day," he ended merrily. He nodded to the girl. "Hermione," another nod, this one in his direction, "Severus."
"Yes, for you it's easy, leaving us behind," Severus scorned. "Goodbye." Next to him, a tiny voice said goodbye as well. He looked down at the girl and said she was on the brink of tears. Yes, he thought, she should be. For her, Albus is the last oasis of kindness before a desert of cruelty. As if he was looking forward to being locked in a cage with the nightmare of every teacher.
Author's Notes: Fidenter secretum mihi te credo = Confidently I trust you with my secret.