Disclaimer- I don't own them nor do I claim to. I just like to play with them once in a while.
Authors Note- this is a HG/SS fic, with a side of RW/LL, a side of GW/NL, and a little HP/DM for dessert. Warning, rated R for good reason. It is possible that it will go up to NC-17 later. Lastly, please forgive any stupid American things I do, I fear I am American and just beginning to catch on to most Briticisms.
For once in her life she wasn't the Know-it-all. As the blows rained upon her back and shoulders, she didn't know what to do. Finally satisfied that her oldest daughter had learned her lesson, Averill Granger hurried up the stairs and locked the basement door.
Hermione sank to her knees, tears trailing down her cheeks. Across the room, she heard weak coughing and it brought her back to reality. Silently, she crawled over to the frail girl and helped her sit up.
"How are you doing Arianna?" She worried when she didn't get a reply.
Hermione wasn't exactly sure how long they had been locked in the basement, of the Granger home, but she knew she had to find a way out. Her sister, having been sick since Hermione's second year at Hogwarts, wasn't tolerating their situation well. Nearly lost in her growing depression, she thought back to her return home.
"Mom, I'm home." Hermione Granger, Know-it-all of Hogwarts, walked into her home to find it silent. "Dad, are you here?"
"Her… Hermione," said a small voice from the stairs.
Hermione turned to find her younger sister badly beaten. Fearing the worst, she pulled her wand from her pocket and reached for her sister. She almost had a hand on her when something slammed into her, pushing her through the nearly closed study door. She screamed as she came face to face with the bloody lifeless face of her father. Rolling over quickly, she turned to find her mother staring down at her. Hermione lunged for her wand only to be grabbed and thrown near her sister, who had moved away from the stairs. Unable to reach her wand, she wrapped her arms around her sister and tried her best to protect the frail-looking girl from their mother. With fist mercilessly striking at her, she made a choice; she no longer cared if she got into trouble.
"Accio Wand!" before her wand reached her hand her mother knocked it away and began pushing them towards the basement stairs.
"Arianna, we have to try to get out of here," whispered Hermione as she began trying to make her brain focus.
Hermione wrapped her sister in the shredded blanket and went to look for something to help her to escape. She was crouched in the shadows, to the right of the stairs, when she heard the door open. As the older woman walked past, without screaming or kicking at her, Hermione realized that she hadn't been seen. Picking up the first object that she got her hands on, she brought the Christmas tree stand down on her mother's head effectively knocking the crazy woman unconscious. Ignoring the food she ran up the stairs to get her wand, two cloaks, and Arianna's medicine.
Upstairs, she could smell the rotting corpse of her father and nearly gagged. Pushing on, knowing she had little time, she found her wand where it had fallen. She retrieved it and quickly cast a spell to block the smell. Entering the kitchen, she was stunned to see several long green leaves next to a mortar and pestle. She knew what it was, but couldn't make her mind focus long enough to identify it. Knowing that it would have to be identified, she grabbed a plastic storage bag and using it like a glove; she pulled the leaves inside and sealed it.
As though in a trance, she searched for her trunk. She looked carefully through the house, starting with her room and avoiding the study, but found it no where. Finally, she built up the courage and went into the study. There, covered in her father's blood, was her trunk and Crookshanks' carrier. Opening her trunk, she found a white envelope with her name, in her father's handwriting, on it. Quickly putting it in her pocket, she removed her two heavy cloaks, shrank her trunk and the one next to it, put them in her pocket, and rushed back down to her sister.
As Hermione picked her sister up, the younger girl weighing little more than a child, she woke up, "Mione?"
"We're leaving," hushed Hermione, "I know some one who can help us."
Since finding the leaves, only one thing filled her mind: Snape. She knew that he would know what the leaves were and help them. Carrying her sister up the stairs, she ran from the house.
It was dark outside, so she pulled both their hoods up, lit her wand, and held it up to call the Knight Bus. When it appeared, with a loud pop, a second later she reached into her cloak pocket and took out some gold.
"Welcome to the Knight Bus, Miss, I'm Stan; I'll be your conductor this evening. We can take you where ever you need to go."
"How much to get to London?"
"Eleven sickles each, but for firteen you get 'ot chocolate," he replied, "been slow tonight, no one else ridin', it'll be a short ride."
Hermione quickly gave him thirty sickles. Stan helped her to one of the brass beds, and the bus took off with another pop. Stan left them to get comfortable, and returned a few minutes later with two steaming cups of hot chocolate. For what it was worth, she helped Arianna sit up. Stan watched with interest as she cast a weak cooling charm on the hot chocolate and helped her sister drink it.
"Yes," replied Hermione, waiting as Arianna began coughing, "she has been for a while and no one has been able to help her."
"You her mother?"
"No, her sister."
"She's so small, how old is she?"
"Eleven, she'll start at Hogwarts this year." Hermione couldn't stop the tear that rolled down her cheek, "I hope she gets better so she can."
"'ere you go," he said taking the empty cup and giving her the full one, "we'll be there in a few more minutes."
Hermione enthusiastically drank her hot chocolate, only to have her stomach begin to ache. On her lap, Arianna began to squirm uncomfortably.
"'Mione, my stomach hurts," whispered the girl.
"We're almost there Arianna," replied Hermione as her vision began to blur, "Just hold on a bit longer."
Hermione wasn't sure she was going to make it, when Stan appeared before her, "We're here Miss."
"Thank you," replied Hermione. Gathering all of her strength together; she pulled herself to her feet and picked up her sister. Carefully, conscious of everything spinning around her, she got off the bus and made her way into the Leaky Cauldron. Ignoring everyone around her, she stumbled to the fireplace. Taking some Floo powder from the shelf she threw it in, step in, and said, "Severus Snape." She hoped it would work.
Severus Snape sat reclined in his favorite chair, a book in one hand and a cup of tea in the other. His heavy robes had been discarded for the night; he wore comfortable black pants and a white button down shirt. He was so lost in his book that he didn't notice when the flames turned green. He was startled, when two girls fell out of his fireplace vomiting. He immediately recognized Hermione Granger, star pupil and Know-it-all. Upset by the mess he cast a cleaning charm.
"What in the hell is going on, Miss Granger?"
"Please help." She tried to pull the bag from her pocket but couldn't make her muscles work correctly.
Noticing her difficulty, he reached down and pulled the bag from her pocket. One look told him all he needed to know. Throwing Floo powder into the fire, he put his head in and said, "Albus, I have an emergency in my personal quarters, I could use you here immediately."
Satisfied that the headmaster would arrive to assist him, he rushed to his stores of antidotes and found two vials of a violently purple potion. Kneeling down, he checked the unknown girl's pulse and frowned deeply at what he found. He was just about to move on to Hermione when Dumbledore stepped out of the fireplace.
"What's going on Severus?"
"They fell out of my fireplace and were violently sick on my carpet. Miss Granger pulled that bag of Digitalis Purpurea out of her pocket. I believe they may have ingested it, though I doubt that she was willing. If you would assist me in making sure she drinks as much of that antidote as possible."
"What do you make of these bruises Severus," Dumbledore asked while dripping the potion into the youngest girl's mouth.
Snape looked more closely and realized that the shadows were actually bruises, "Those are very recent. They've been badly beaten. When is Poppy due back?"
"Not for two weeks," replied Dumbledore. The girl began to cough and wake up, "you must drink this child. It will help you feel better."
Arianna nodded, drank the sickeningly sweet potion, and closed her eyes against the spinning room. After a moment, she opened them and asked her question, "Hermione?"
"She's also being treated," assured Albus before scooping her up and moving her to the couch, "What is your name child?"
"Arianna Granger," she whispered, "where are we?"
"Hogwarts, Young Miss Granger. You are safe here," responded Dumbledore.
"Albus, would you retrieve a sleeping draught for each girl from my stores," said Snape as he carried Hermione to the opposite end of the couch, "the antidote will work better if they rest. We can talk to them when they wake."
"Of course, Severus," said Dumbledore leaving to retrieve the potions.
"Miss Granger, who did this? Were you attacked by Death Eaters?"
"N… no Professor, our mother," she rasped.
"Here Severus," said Dumbledore handing over the potion for Hermione and turning to Arianna, "Drink up Arianna; this will make you sleep for a while. We can talk more in the morning when you are feeling better."
"I never feel better," replied the little girl before swallowing the potion without even making a face.
When Dumbledore looked up at Severus, it was obvious that something was bothering the younger man. Albus was bothered as well, though he hid it somewhat better. Finally deciding that something needed to be said, he looked closely at his almost son.
"I think I need a drink. Do you have any more of that Fire Whiskey, Severus?" before walking over to the fireplace and throwing some Floo powder in. "Minerva, are you still awake?"
"Yes, Albus, what is it," She replied sounding slightly tired.
"Could you please join us in Severus' rooms," said Dumbledore accepting the tumbler of Fire Whiskey from Severus.
The first thing she noticed when she stepped from the fireplace was Albus Dumbledore, a man who rarely drinks, with a glass of fire whiskey, "What has happened?"
Dumbledore stepped aside, giving her clear view of the two girls, "They tumbled from Severus' fire about half an hour ago."
"What has happened to them?" she asked, sweeping over to her favorite student.
"Their mother," said Severus, "according to Hermione."
"Who is the other girl?"
"Her name is Arianna Granger," replied Albus, "she is scheduled to start school in the fall."
"She's been ill since Hermione's second year," said Minerva thoughtfully, "Hermione approached me several times; she worried that it would affect her ability to attend school."
"That explains her comment then," Albus downed his Fire Whiskey.
"Her comment?" asked Minerva, as she sat and brushed the girl's hair from her face.
"She's under the impression that she will never get well."
"I believe both girls have ingested large doses of Fairy Caps, though I know that Hermione knows they are poisonous," said Severus, "They will need to be monitored through the night."
"Are you up to the task Severus?" asked Dumbledore, "I will begin creating a new set of rooms for them."
"You may want these," commented Minerva as she carefully removed the uncomfortable looking trunks and wand from Hermione's pocket.
"Thank you Minerva," said Albus before enlarging them, "we should have some clothes here for them."
"Albus, look at that trunk," said Snape, "it's blood."
"I fear, none of us shall sleep tonight. I must call the Order. Minerva, will you see to their rooms. Make them comfortable; I'm afraid they'll be here for a while. If you need to, enlist Flitwick to help you." Albus ran his hand through his beard, "Severus, please take care of them. I fear they have been through quite an ordeal. Please, refrain from frightening Arianna. Hermione seems to have built an immunity to your quirks, but she has lived a relatively safe life here, her sister was elsewhere, we don't know how the child will react."
"I will try, Sir," replied Severus Snape. He was not happy.
"I will retrieve Professor Flitwick and begin. Shall I send a house elf with coffee?"
"That would be appreciated," said Severus in an attempt to be polite," Thank you."
Albus waited for Minerva to leave before he turned back to Severus, "Do we have any idea what the long-term effects of Fairy Caps would have on the child?"
"I'm not sure, Albus. Poppy may know more, but I'll do some research tonight."
"That's fine, Severus." Albus threw some Floo powder into the fire, "Nymphadora Tonks."
Severus watched silently as he left before turning to the two girls, "What are we going to do? I don't know how to be anything other than the frightening potions professor."
With a sigh he placed a pale hand on each girl's face. Unsatisfied with his finding, he silently went into his rooms. When he returned, he brought out two blankets, one silver and one green and gently tucked one around each of them. That finished, he went to his personal library and retrieved his books on poisons. Arms full of heavy books; he was startled to see Dobby in his rooms pouring him a large mug of coffee.
"Dobby is to be helping Professor Snape. Professor Snape be liking strong coffee," said Dobby softly, "Would Professor Snape be needing anything else?"
"I need a book from the library, Dobby. It is called 'Digitalis Purpurea, A Study of Slow Death'. It is located in the restricted section."
"Dobby will find it for you Sir." bowed the house elf, "Would Sir be needing anything else?"
"Yes, but I need that book first," replied Snape from behind his book.
"Dobby be hurrying then, sir." With that the house elf disappeared. No more than five minutes later he appeared with the book then stepped back to wait.
As soon as the book was in his hand it was opened, and he was searching for the information he needed. A quick glance at the table of contents and a flip of the pages, he began reading, committing each sentence to memory in a way that only Know-it-alls can. Finding what he needed, he ordered a special broth from the kitchen for when the girls awoke.
As soon as Dobby was gone, he opened his private stores and began collecting the potions necessary to bring both girls back to health; though he wouldn't be certain until both girls were awake and he could compare their symptoms. He was nearly finished collecting the potions when he heard the first whimper of fear from the couch. Moving around the couch, to find out which girl it was, he was startled to find it was Hermione lost in the throes of a nightmare
Ever conscious of their lack of thought to their injuries, Severus Snape lifted the woman into his arms and tried to wake her. His first attempt, he shook her shoulder gently but this caused her to cry out and begin to struggle. He realized his mistake, but the damage was done, so he tried a different approach. He gently brushed her tangled curls away from her face and called her name.
"Hermione, it's time to wake up," he tried gently before remembering that she was fighting through the sleep draught, "Shh… just listen to my voice Hermione. You are safe; I will take care of you and Arianna. Relax and let the sleeping draught wear off in its own time." To his surprise, she fought it to wakefulness but then again, he would have too.
"We made it," she choked out upon seeing his face, "how long have we been out of school? Is Arianna okay? Was it really Fairy Cap?"
"Hermione, you must calm yourself. Arianna is still asleep, and should be fine. Yes, Hermione, that was Digitalis Purpurea. You probably saved both your lives by bringing those leaves. We wouldn't have known what to treat."
Hermione burst into tears, "How long has it been since I left here?" she gasped between sobs.
"Hermione, school begins in three weeks." her reaction concerned him.
"I… I… I can't stay in here!" she cried grasping her chest. Her face was pale, sweat poured down her forehead, and she was gasping for breath, "I have to get out of here."
Severus Snape, in all of his experience, knew a panic attack when he saw one. It was not pity that he felt, far from it, but pure untainted anger, "Where would you like to go, Hermione?"
"I need to go outside." She gasped clenching her hand to her chest, tears still streaming down her cheeks, "Please, I… I need to see the sky."
He knew that it was part Fairy Caps poisoning and part aftermath of her experience. He did what he would have wished done for him. Wrapping her as tightly as she would allow, he moved to the outer wall and tapped it with his wand. As an afterthought he turned to Dobby, who was returning.
"Dobby, watch over the child; if she moves or makes a sound, alert me immediately."
"Yes, Sir." Dobby sat down and pulled the girl into his lap, rocking her like a baby.
Once they got outside, Hermione was able to calm down enough to talk to him.
"I'm sorry." she looked down at the ground, refusing to meet his eyes.
"What happened to you?" he asked softly.
"I… I got home, my parents had my bag delivered and had me run some errands before I came home. I couldn't find anyone when I first got there, but Arianna came down the stairs. When I saw her, I thought that Death Eaters had attacked and drew my wand. Someone slammed into me and…" her breathing started to become labored as she fought with the memory.
Snape wished he had remembered a calming potion, "Relax and breath slowly. You are safe with me; I will not let anything happen to you." He was surprised at how sincere those words felt.
After a few moments, she was able to continue, "I was pushed through the study door and into my father's body. He was dead, for a few hours at least. I managed to get my wand back once but she slammed into me again, which knocked my wand away. She started hitting anything close to her and I tried to protect Arianna. She's been so sick, for so long. I… I used magic outside of school grounds. I called my wand, but she knocked from the air and pushed us down the basement stairs." Tears rolled down her face unchecked, "She left us there with the door locked, no food, no water, and no light until we were too weak to fight back. I lost track of time. She started feeding us, and giving us water again, once we were weak enough to beat. We started getting sick though. At first, I thought it was from not having food for that long but it didn't get better.
"I knew I was missing something but I couldn't focus. We got food and water once a day and she'd beat us every time she came down. If we tried to fight her, she'd stop feeding us. She would scream, she'd scream and scream and scream. She wouldn't stop. She just kept screaming 'I'll beat it out of you. I won't give up my dreams for your filthy magic. I'll beat it out of you or one of us will die trying. No more magic. Filthy stupid girls aren't good enough to eat, aren't good enough for light or fresh air. Filthy, stupid, ignorant, selfish, tainted, whores, not even good enough to lick my boots!' Arianna stopped answering me yesterday, and I got scared. I thought she'd died until I saw her breathing. I… I started looking for something, to help us get out, when she came down again. She… She didn't see me in the shadows and I hit her with the tree stand. I got my wand, she left it where it fell, and went to get Arianna's medicine. That's when I saw the leaves with the mortar and pestle." She started gasping for breath, oblivious to the fact that Dumbledore, McGonagall, Lupin, Moody, and Tonks were standing beside them.
"Deep breaths, slow and calm. You're safe. I won't let anything happen to you or Arianna," said Severus Snape. It was not a voice he'd ever heard himself use before.
"My brain wouldn't listen. I knew that I knew them but couldn't focus on what the leaves were so I took them. I used the bag like a glove, afraid to touch them. I knew I had to get to you, you would know what they were, what was making us sick. It was like my brain got stuck, it just kept repeating to itself; find Snape, Snape's a potions master. We can trust Snape. Once I had the leaves, I went in search of my trunk." Tears started running faster down her cheeks and her breathing more difficult. Dobby came out to steal Dumbledore away, and when he approached again; he carried Arianna, "I searched and searched, but I didn't want to go into the study. I didn't want to see it again. Daddy's dead. He packed Arianna's trunk, and there was a letter in my trunk. I got out cloaks and shrank everything else. Mum was still unconscious when I went back down for Arianna. I just grabbed her and ran out of the house.
"I remembered Harry telling me of the Knights Bus and I tried it. It worked and we got on. He gave us hot chocolate, it was very chocolaty. He lied to me, the conductor, he said there wasn't anyone else on the bus but I heard someone snoring. By the time we got to the Leaky Cauldron we were sick again."
"How were you sick Hermione?" asked Severus. "I need to know so I can try and make Arianna better."
"Stomach cramps, vomiting, vertigo, sometimes it was like I was blind, and it was like something was making my brain work really slow. Everything was hazy, and I couldn't think straight." She took a deep breath, nearly finished, "I carried Arianna into the Leaky Cauldron and used the Floo network to get here. I… I don't even know what happened to Crookshanks," she sobbed finally, all strength she had seemed to dwindle before them, and she clung to Severus Snape in her weakness.
"Hermione," said Tonks approaching the younger girl, "When I went to your house, I found someone for you. He was scratching at a basement window, trying desperately to get inside." Tonks let the orange bundle out of her grasp and it bolted for Hermione.
"Why don't we move this inside," suggested Dumbledore.
"Not to the dungeons," begged Hermione, "I… I want someplace with windows."
"Your common room and rooms are finished. We can retire there to finish this business, if that is okay with you Hermione," said Minerva.
"Yes, that would be okay," Hermione sighed looking down at her hands, "I'm sorry I've caused so much trouble."
Severus looked at his fellow Order members with worry written plainly across his face, "Remus, will you bring the potions on the table and have Dobby bring their trunks?"
"No problem," answered the werewolf.