By Chrmisha

Summary: SEQUEL to REDEMPTION, Hermione Granger struggles with her past and finds comfort in the arms of Severus Snape.

A/N: This fic contains depictions of sexual and physical abuse. Although it is hard to read at times, it is a compassionate fic about the struggles people face in recovering from such events. And, it has a happy ending. Please be forewarned though.

Resolution : Chapter 1 of 13

Severus Snape sipped his brandy, contemplating his lot in life as he was prone to do when he consumed alcohol. At no other time did he allow himself to indulge in such self-serving, idiotic behavior. Yet he had taken to drinking when he couldn't get his mind off of her. Hermione Granger, that slip of a woman who had invaded his mind and insidiously yet unknowingly implanted herself into his life.

Hermione had left the day after her reunion with Potter and the Weasleys, just as Severus had known she would. He sat in his study, alone for the first time since she had broken through the wards on his private potions storeroom a little over a month ago. He had always treasured his privacy; he'd been loath to be interrupted in his chambers, the one place that no one had access to, where no one dared to impose on his space. Shaking his head, he realized that that truth no longer held. For the first time in his life, alone suddenly became equivalent to lonely.

By now she would be settling in at the Burrow and moving on with her life while his remained stagnant. He could no longer return to the normal routine of his daily life prior to one month ago. He could no more remove her from his mind than he could cut off his own arm. Draining the glass of brandy, he paced his study. Her scent was everywhere: his couch, his chair, his bed. Most of all, his bed, where she had slept for the last month. Walking aimlessly, his feet led him to his bedchamber, where he picked up the pillow and inhaled. Cursing, he threw the pillow down, berating himself for his folly. She was half his age and she had the rest of her life to live; he had no business pining after a young woman with a bright future ahead of her. Last, but not least, he reminded himself, not only did she not reciprocate his feelings, she didn't even know that his feelings for her existed. And that was how it must remain. He had no intention of adding more pain and confusion to her life.

The first week back at the Burrow had been a whirlwind of activity for Hermione. Between Harry and the Weasleys doting on her excessively, she also had to deal with the legal issues of the Muggle world regarding her family's estate which had been, luckily for her, still tied up in probate since their deaths.

The next week, life at the Burrow was showing signs of returning to normal. After breakfast, Harry and Ron, who had been staying at the Burrow since Hermione had arrived, were returning to the flat they shared in London. Harry was in training to be an auror, though Hermione wondered just how much Harry was learning and how much he was teaching. Ron was working with the World Quidditch Association to coordinate the next Quidditch World Cup. They both reminded her that the Burrow was connected to their London flat via the Floo Network and that she was welcome there anytime.

As they finished their eggs and toast, Hermione watched with a pang of sadness as Arthur kissed Molly good-bye and headed off to his job at the Ministry. She doubted she would ever have the family she once dreamed of, a family consisting of a loving husband and children. She shook off the feeling of self-pity and busied herself with helping Ginny clean up the kitchen.

"Hermione, dear, I have something for you," Molly said sweetly as she handed Hermione a package.

Hermione accepted the wrapped parcel with curiosity.

"Go on, open it."

Tearing away the paper, she held what appeared to be a book, but there was no title and no author.

Molly smiled at Hermione's questioning look. "It's a diary of sorts, my dear. It's enchanted to only open to its rightful owner."

"How does it know who the rightful owner is?" Hermione asked, fingering the gold edges of the finely crafted paper.

"Well, that would be the first person to write in it. Once you record your thoughts on its pages, it will be permanently bonded to you. No one else will be able to open it."

Hermione opened the book and set it down on the table. On the first page, she wrote, "Hermione Granger's Journal." She snapped the book shut and handed it to Ginny.

Ginny accepted the enchanted book with a bit of trepidation. When she tried to open it, the book lurched from her hands screeching and hit the floor with a loud thud.

Hermione picked up the book and laughed with approval. "Thank you, Molly. This is a wonderful gift."

Hermione stared at the blank pages of the journal that evening, not sure what to write. She had been so busy trying to rescind her death and get her life back in order that she had mostly avoided dealing with the trauma she'd been through. And if she had anything to say about it, that's the way it would remain. As long as she could keep herself busy, she didn't have to think about what had happened to her. She snapped the journal shut, refusing to deal with the demons that lurked just beneath the surface. She was tired, she reasoned; they could wait.

Exhausted, she lay back in the bed that had once belonged to Charlie Weasley. She studied the ferocious looking dragons that rampaged animatedly across the ceiling, remnants of Charlie's lifelong desire to work with the dangerous beasts. Tomorrow, she thought to herself as she drifted off to sleep, tomorrow, she would redecorate his room. She'd toss out the old and bring in the new and forget the old ever existed; just like her life, she thought wryly. If only it were that simple.

She awoke to the sounds of screaming.

"Hermione, Hermione! Wake up!"

"Ginny," Hermione gasped, her throat sore, her breath coming in ragged bursts. "Ginny, he was here, Lucius was here, he was..."

"Hermione, it was just a dream. You're at the Burrow. Lucius is dead, remember?"

"Oh, gods," she said, collapsing back on the bed, her heart still racing, the sounds of her own screams echoing in her ears. "It seemed so real."

Hermione closed her eyes, willing away the horrid memories of what Lucius had done to her. Instinctively, she rubbed the thin scar that began at the hollow of her neck and snaked down beneath the neckline of her nightgown. Shaking her head, she tried to push away the thoughts of Lucius raping and torturing her. Lucius Malfoy is dead, she reminded herself, he can never hurt me again. Taking a deep breath, Hermione said goodnight to Ginny and fell back into a restless sleep.

Hermione awoke early the next morning both anticipating and dreading her trip with Ginny to Diagon Alley. In the fall, Hermione would be returning to Gladwick University; the place she had attended prior to her abduction. She planned to buy her books early and get a head start on her studies, seeing as she had missed the entire spring semester. Plus, she thought, schoolwork had always been an excellent distraction for her. She could bury herself in her books instead of dwelling on the past.

As she lay on her bed, books spread out around her, she couldn't seem to concentrate. If her mind wasn't wandering to the Malfoys, it was wandering to her Potions professor, the man who had been the bane of her existence while she was a student at Hogwarts. She had dreaded her classes with him, not because of the subject matter, but because the man was intimidating, intense, and generally cruel. She would never have imagined him capable of the kindness he had shown her after he had found her in his potions storeroom that fateful night six weeks ago. And now? Now she actually missed him.

His company was not what one would call delightful; he was reserved, he spoke little, and when he did, it was with a great economy of words. He seemed set in his ways and adverse to change. His mood tended to be more negative than positive, more pessimistic than optimistic. And yet, when she was in his presence, she felt safe. She hadn't felt safe since the war began, not even after it ended. Yet for those four weeks she had hidden away in Severus Snape's quarters, with Lucius Malfoy trying to find her, she had felt safe and secure and protected and loved. Loved? She shook her head at the thought. Where had that come from? He had been kind, yes. But loved? Perhaps like a sister.

Sighing, she pulled out the journal Molly had given her and began to write, thankful that no one would ever be able to read her disjointed thoughts and feelings.

ENTRY 1: I never thought I'd say this, but I miss you, Severus. Or maybe I miss what our time together represented. When I was with you, I was neither dead nor alive. I was living in a sort of limbo. There was no future to plan for, no responsibilities, no one to answer to, no expectations, nothing. Just making it from one day to the next. And now? Now I cringe at the thought of facing the world. When I was imprisoned at the Malfoy mansion, I wished for my freedom. Now that I have it, I find it overwhelming. Everyone knows. I haven't had the courage to venture out into the real world yet. When I went to Diagon Alley to pick up my school books, I kept to the shadows, trying to hide from anyone who might recognize me. University is only a little over a month away, and I'm terrified of it. I thought it would make things easier if everyone knew what happened to me; then no one would ask questions. Now I'm not so sure. When I was younger, everything had an easy answer. Now, there are no easy answers. Everyone has tried to be supportive of me here at the Burrow, but no one really understands what it was like being held prisoner at the Malfoy mansion. No one knows what it's like to live in constant torment, sometimes wishing for the very death you fear, just to escape the pain. No one knows what it's like to spend your days knowing what horrible things will happen to you that evening and being powerless to change your fate. Waiting all day for it to happen, then waiting for it to be over with, then waiting for it to start all over again...

Hermione snapped the journal shut and threw it across the room. Her skin crawled at the memories of what Lucius had done to her. She fled the room, trying to escape the pain ravaging her mind. Severus would understand, she thought idly. He's the only one who understands. Although he rarely made reference to it, Hermione knew that Severus had been tortured by the Dark Lord and that he too must have experienced many of the things that she was going through. As she sat alone in the garden, willing her breath to steady, she imagined Severus there with her, wrapping his arms around her, holding her to his chest as the tears slipped down her cheeks. He would have done that, had he been here. She longed to go to him now, to be comforted by him, to be loved by him. But he had his own life to live; he didn't need some stupid, emotional girl tying up his time. Then again, maybe he could give her a potion to ease the pain, the memories. She suddenly understood why Muggles turned to drugs. If one had been available to her now, she probably would have taken it. She had never considered herself susceptible to drug addiction, but the reality seemed to loom large at the moment. Wrapping her arms around herself, she realized she would do just about anything to stop the pain looming over her.

It was almost midnight when she headed back to bed, afraid to sleep, afraid to dream. She had started putting silencing charms on her room at night which turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. Her screams didn't wake the household up anymore, but no one came to wake her from the nightmares either.

As the days passed and the nightmares intensified, she slept less and less. Soon the nightmares weren't just nightmares anymore, they were daymares as well. The first one happened when she was in the bathroom, staring into the mirror over the sink. She had put on one of her favorite Muggle blouses, only to realize that the scar that began at the hollow of her neck stood out prominently. She rubbed her scar, and, like a Portkey, she was there.

Lucius hovered over her naked body, the sharp edge of the dagger glistening above her. He had threatened her before with the dagger, but this time, something was different. Draco had refused. She wasn't sure what it was that Draco had refused to do to her, but whatever it was, it had angered Lucius greatly. She pulled against the invisible bonds that held her wrists and ankles in place. Lucius merely laughed at her struggles. She tried to hide her fear, knowing that her weaknesses only seemed to spur Lucius on. Sneering at her, he gave her a choice: Would she rather he penetrate her with himself or the knife? She lurched upward, terrified at the prospect. She looked to Draco; his eyes were as wide as saucers. And then, she watched in horror as Draco turned his face away; he couldn't watch. She was alone. Lucius laughed again. "Can't decide? Well, then, I guess I'll have to decide for you." She would have screamed if she hadn't been gagged. She thrashed wildly underneath him, trying to get away from the edge of the blade. It was useless, but in her fear, rational thought had fled her. He grabbed her hair, forcing her head upwards. "Watch," he demanded. Shaking, she was forced to see the blood rise to the surface as Lucius touched the blade to the hollow of her neck and dragged it slowly downward, relishing each inch of her anguish. Tears sprang to her eyes. Tears of pain, tears of terror. She didn't dare look at him. She knew he was enjoying this. The blade sliced across her sternum, between her breasts, down her abdomen. Her body shook involuntarily. Over her bellybutton. Lower still. He reached the curly brown hair at her apex, and still he didn't stop. He paused momentarily at her pubic bone, a bright red line of blood seeping from the long flesh wound. He lifted the knife and held it up for her to see before poising it between her legs. With a flick of his wand, he ungagged her. "Which would you prefer, Miss Granger, me? Or the knife?" Staring at the blood-stained blade, she whispered, "You." "Louder, Miss Granger! Ask for what you want. Beg me." "YOU!" She screamed in anguish. "Please, I want you, only you." Without warning, he thrust into her hard, slamming her into the mattress.

Hermione gasped as the mirror came back into focus. Closing her eyes, tears streaming down her face, she crumbled to the floor, her head in her hands. She had no idea how much time had passed, but then Ginny was there, asking her what was wrong. She just shook her head, leaning against Ginny as she sobbed. Ginny was speaking to her, but Hermione couldn't hear her. And then Ginny left, and Molly and Ginny came, and the two of them carried Hermione to her bed. Molly gave her something to drink and suddenly, she was very tired.

She awoke to the sound of voices around her, male voices. Harry's voice, she realized, and Ron's. And that softer female voice, Ginny's voice. Slowly opening her eyes, they were all gathered around her on the double bed, whispering. When they noticed she was awake, they came alive. Harry hugged her first, then Ron, then Ginny. They asked her if she was okay. She just stared at them blankly. How could she tell them what had happened to her? She blinked, not knowing what to say or do. Realizing what had happened and that her scar must be showing, she quickly buttoned the blouse she was wearing to its full extent.

"I think you've been studying too much," Ron finally said. "You need to take a break, get out more."

Hermione sighed in relief at the out Ron had given her. She nodded. "Yes, I'm just overstressed and overtired. I've been working very hard to catch up on the classes I've missed." She told the lie convincingly, as if lying came second nature to her. In truth, she had barely touched her textbooks. She had tried several times, but couldn't concentrate on them.

Everyone seemed to relax a bit at her confession, and she wondered if they really believed her or if they were just as uncomfortable discussing what had happened to her as she was. She listened halfheartedly as Harry talked about his Auror training and Ron about the upcoming Quidditch World Cup. She knew they were trying to distract her, give her something else to focus on. If it were only that easy to forget, she thought to herself.

Harry and Ron had started taking turns staying at the Burrow again. Although this struck Hermione as somewhat odd, she never questioned them. She had too much on her mind. She didn't leave the house much for fear of being recognized in public, so she and Ginny and Ron or Harry, depending on who was staying there, would spend the evenings playing Exploding Snap, or Wizard's Chess, or one of the Muggle card games Hermione had taught them.

When everyone else had retired for the evening, she would stay up late writing in her journal. It had become her only outlet. She couldn't bring herself to tell anyone about what had happened to her, even though she knew that Harry, Ron, Ginny, Molly, and even Arthur were more than willing to listen and help her in any way that they could. But the pain was too great to share; she was too ashamed of what had happened to tell anyone. And she was too proud to admit she was losing her sanity trying to deal with it all herself.

ENTRY 17: I'm safe now, I keep telling myself that. And I don't fear him coming for me anymore. I know he's dead. But in the quieter moments, when I let my guard down, I'm back there, at his mercy, living in fear again. And the dreams are getting worse, more intense, more frequent. I'm afraid to fall asleep at night. I watch Charlie's dragons overhead and I think that having nightmares about dragons would be much better than the nightmares of Lucius coming for me, finding me, abducting me all over again. In my dreams, he's not dead, he's flesh and blood and bones and he'll never stop hunting me, he won't stop until he destroys me.