Disclaimer: The stories told within are for entertainment purposes only. The characters from the Harry Potter series belong solely to J.K. Rowling and those with whom she has contracts. They are used with respect and affection and no copyright infringement is intended.
Warning! Please be aware that this story contains frank descriptions of rape, sexual assault, torture and violence toward women. One of the victims is a female under the age of 16. Please take this warning into consideration before you decide to read. I have no desire to offend anyone.
A/N: This story begins two weeks before the start of Hermione's fifth year. Thank you to AngelicKeeper for volunteering to beta read this for a total stranger. I sincerely appreciate the help.
Dark storm clouds were threatening the early morning sky. Strong, gusty winds teased and tore at the robes of the couple that had just arrived at the Hogwart's Apparation site just outside the school's front gate. The man steadied his companion against the onslaught. He stiffened when he heard her shocked gasp.
"Albus!" Minerva could say no more. The sight before her had robbed her of the ability to speak. He followed he gaze and was sickened. He allowed himself only a moment of shock and grief before he jumped into action.
Tied to the front gates of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was a young girl.
Naked, bloodied and bruised, the girl was hanging across both gates, exposed in a position designed to humiliate. Her head had fallen forward and her long hair hid her face.
Dreading what he would find, Albus ran to the girl, casting the spell that would release her. He arrived just in time to catch her body as it fell from its bindings. He gently lowered her to the ground. Minerva came to stand behind his shoulder as he brushed the hair from her face. His stomach dropped sickeningly. His mind rebelled, denying the evidence of his eyes. Fixed to her right breast with a tiny dagger was a blood soaked parchment that read MUDBLOOD.
Albus was horrified and infuriated. This was a student, one of his children. All his students were precious and he cared for them as if they were his own but some times a few special ones stood out and wove themselves around his heart. The still form in front of him belonged to one such student. He could feel Minerva's anguish as she fell to her knees and cried for one of her beloved Gryffindor children.
The victim of this horror was Hermione Granger.
Carefully covering the child's nakedness with a hastily conjured blanket he checked for signs of life.
"She is not dead, Minerva." He got no response. "Minerva," he reached to touch her shoulder, "come help me. She is alive but we must get her to Poppy quickly." Together they moved the girl onto a stretcher and floated her into the castle and up to the hospital wing.
Some weeks later...
"Hermione, I insist you eat something. You won't get any better if you don't give your body the fuel it needs to heal." Minerva's stern voice allowed for no refusal. She had invited Hermione to tea in her quarters hoping to break down some of the walls the girl was erecting around herself. She had obediently appeared but had declined to try any of the delicacies provided just as she had refused most of her meals this week. Minerva was getting worried.
"Who says I want to get better?" The girl whispered dully.
Professor McGonagall's heart hurt when she heard that. She had been afraid of this; that Hermione was losing the will to fight back. In the weeks since her ordeal, the trauma of the assault, combined with lack of sleep and a refusal to eat, was taking its toll. The slight girl looked as if she were fading away. Minerva was desperate to find a way to bring her out of this downward spiral.
"Please don't say that." She reached out and put her hand on Hermione's shoulder but the girl flinched away. "Too many people love you for you to give up. I know you're feeling devastated right now but with time it will get better. I promise you, it will. You
have to stay with us though. Please let us help you heal."
"How dare you!" Fury blazed from Hermione's eyes. The sudden change from apathy to rage was startling. "How dare you say you know how I feel! You don't know what it was like. You didn't see you parents killed. You weren't kidnapped by bloody Death Eaters. You weren't the one they took turns fucking....for days...until they fucked you practically dead. You weren't there!" She broke off with a sob. "Nobody was there but me so nobody knows what I'm feeling but me so the rest of you can bloody well SOD OFF!" Anger warred with the realization that she had just cussed out her Head of House until Hermione decided that she just didn't care. She collapsed on McGonagall's couch, sobbing hysterically.
Minerva sat next to her and pulled Hermione into her lap, stroking her hair and whispering words of comfort. As the storm passed the harsh sobs faded into calmer weeping.
"I'm sorry, Professor. I didn't mean it."
"I know, sweetheart, I know. I'm sorry too. I, of all people, should know better than to say that to you. I hated it when they said it to me and I should have remembered. You're right. No one can know what you went through or what you are feeling but you. It's just that I'm frightened. I look at you and see you teetering on the edge of leaving us forever. I know what that feels like and I'm so scared for you."
"What do you mean, when they said it to you?" she asked, sniffing.
"I was captured by the enemy once too. Not this enemy, but one just as bad."
"Grindelwald," she said, looking at her teacher in a new light. Minerva nodded her head.
"His merry men anyway. They played with me for three days before I was rescued. Another hour and I don't think I would have survived." She paused, thinking back on those dark times. "So, you see, while I can't know exactly how you are feeling, I do have an idea. I'm here to tell you, Hermione, that you can survive this. You may never forget the horrible things that have happened to you but you can live through this time and be happy again. You can, I promise." She hugged the girl tightly.
"How did you know? About the suicide?"
"I've been there. I know how tempting it seems to just be able to make it all go away." She pulled up her sleeves and showed Hermione the long, deep scars at her wrists.
"Oh Professor." She reached out and caught one of the slender wrists. She rubbed the pale, faded scar with her thumb. Looking up at her beloved Professor with shocked eyes, she said, "I never would have guessed. You've always seemed so...I don't know, so Gryffindor: brave, strong, confident."
"For the most part, I am all of those things---now. Fifty years ago, that's another story. I was hurting and lost, ashamed. My world had turned dark and cold and I could see no hope. I convinced myself that I didn't matter and that my death would be the best thing that could happen for everyone concerned. I came very close to succeeding that night."
Wrapping Minerva in a big hug Hermione said, "I'm so glad you didn't. If you had, I never would have gotten to know you. I admire you so much. I don't know what I'd do without you." She blushed a little and smiled.
"I'm glad I didn't too. I would have missed so many things, both good and bad. That's one of the reasons I asked you to come visit me today." She reached out and cupped the girl's cheek. "I am so worried about you, Hermione. I see you wasting away before my eyes and I can't seem help you. When you say things like 'Who says I want to get better?' it bloody well terrifies me. You remind me of me on the night I gave myself these scars and I'm afraid you won't be as lucky as I was. I worry that you won't have the opportunity to be glad you didn't succeed."
"I don't want to hurt myself, Professor," she sighed. "I just want to find some peace. Sometimes it is so hard to go on. I hurt. I'm afraid. I'm tired. I just want things to go back to the way they were. It's not fair!"
"No, it isn't. It does get easier, Hermione, but you have to give life a chance." The girl shifted, leaning against and drawing strength from her mentor. They sat watching the fire and listening to the silence.
Hermione broke the spell with a quiet voice. "Did you have nightmares?"
"Yes, I had nightmares: horrible graphic things. It seemed like my mind was trying to make me relive the whole thing every night."
"Do you still? Do they ever stop?"
She could feel the girl trembling. "It was months before they started to taper off and come less frequently. I'll still have one, rarely, but it really doesn't happen very often anymore."
"I'm afraid to sleep," she whispered. "I'm about to die from exhaustion but every time I close my eyes I'm right back there..." She trailed off, her eyes focused inward. She began to shake.
"Hermione. Hermione, come back to me. You're not there. You're safe." The girl started and looked at her in surprise.
"How did you know," she whispered.
"I've been there. I know." Hermione curled up across Minerva's lap and rested her head on the older woman's shoulder. They sat quietly for a while longer.
"Would you mind telling me, well, telling me what happened to you?"
"Are you sure? It wasn't pleasant." She looked at the girl and saw a craving in her eyes. A desperate need to know she wasn't alone, that she wasn't the only one. "Do you think it will help you?" she asked gently.
"I think it might."
"Then I will." She took a deep breath and focused her thoughts. "It was 1943. I was twenty two years old and very full of myself." She grinned at Hermione, mocking her younger self. "Six months out of Auror training and ready to take on the world. My Auror group was sent out to capture a cell of Grendelwald's men. I had a happy secret that morning too. I had just found out I was almost three months pregnant. I was on top of the world but I didn't tell my husband because he would have forbidden me to go on the mission and back then I lived to be an Auror. It was like adventure personified and I was so very proud of my Auror's badge. Actually, the Ministry would have stopped me going on the raid that day too, if they had known. Of everything that happened that day I regret most not telling someone I was pregnant, but my husband was off on different raid and being in the field, the ministry was unlikely to be monitoring my reproductive cycles. So, being just a wee bit headstrong, I went my own way. I paid for my willfulness with my baby's life." She paused for a bit and this time it was Hermione who comforted her teacher.
"You were married?" she asked after a few minutes.
"Yes," she smiled. "In 1942 I married the most handsome, charming, intelligent and brave wizard in all the world." She could see the wheels in Hermione's mind churning out questions as she listened and was glad to see it. It was the first time she'd seen that spark of curiosity since last term.
"Anyway, it turned out that the information we had was false. The attack turned into a trap and we were outnumbered. By the end of the battle, only two of the original eight Aurors were able to escape. Four were dead and two of us had disappeared. Not long after the battle started my partner was killed. That left me with no one to watch my back. Two of the enemy snuck up on me and portkeyed me away. I don't know how they caught Carter but when I woke up they had already started torturing him. They forced me to watch everything. It was devastating. He was so brave, and such a good man, but in the end it just didn't matter. First they used him for sex, then they tortured him with curses and then they moved on to knives. He was begging for death long before they finally let him die. I, of course, was terrified spitless. Naturally, if you ever tell anyone I admitted to that, I'll deny I ever said it." Again, she smiled gently at her own self-deprecating humor. Hermione disentangled herself and moved off the other woman's lap. She sat cross legged on the couch facing Minerva, watching her.
"Then it was my turn. To be truthful, I've filed most of what happened away and I try not to remember the events too clearly. It started normally enough with serial rape and beatings. I was so frightened. They took turns. I did my best to ignore what they were doing to me. After awhile, I kind of became numb, or maybe detached from my body somewhat. I think a person's mind can only take so much horror before it begins to reject the body's input." Hermione nodded. "I was scared for my baby. I was scared for me. I was just plain scared. No one knew where I was so I held out no hope of rescue. I knew I was going to die. I tried to keep my mind on the beautiful love I shared with my husband but I kept slipping into worrying about how much he would hurt when they told him I was dead. I wanted so badly to have one more chance to hold him, to tell him I loved him and to say goodbye."
Tears coursed down Hermione's face again but this time they were for Minerva's pain instead of her own.
"Then they changed the game. They used me for a kind of target practice for hexes and curses. Time after time I was hit with every sort of curse you ever heard of, plus a few dark curses that we won't ever be teaching at Hogwarts. The spells very nearly killed me. By the time they had finished I was a bleeding, broken mess."
And still they kept at it. They got creative after a while. They were getting bored with me, I suppose. Towards the end I had been beaten so badly that I wasn't responding to them much. Hell, I was barely conscious. They decided that the spasms caused by the Cruciatus curse would add something special to their enjoyment of my body. It seemed especially effective if they applied the curse to me just before the man...no, I won't call them that....when the animals raping me were just about to climax. One of them decided that my organs weren't big enough for his 'impressive' tool so he decided to stretch them...using a Muggle rifle barrel." Minerva shuddered visibly.
Hermione reached over and took Minerva's hand, petting her to soothe her nerves. She saw the first tear slide down her teacher's face and felt a pang of guilt for making her relive her nightmare.
"Professor, you can stop if you want."
"No, it's almost over. Unless you'd rather not hear the rest?"
"I think I need to. I think it will help to know I'm not alone but I don't want to make you cry." She reached over and wiped the older woman's tears away. Minerva leaned into her hand and accepted the gentle caress of friendship with a weak half smile.
"Right, then. I obviously need to get it out, as well. Just a little more and then it gets better. While they were playing pass the pussy, someone chose to take his turn by playing with his wand. That's the one that killed my baby. He explored me with his wand. When he found the entrance to my uterus he shoved his wand hard up into my womb and through the wall of my uterus." She stopped, remembering.
"Oh Professor! Oh God! How did you survive?"
"I almost didn't" Her voice was quiet and composed, "and like you, I didn't much care about surviving at that point, or for some time afterward, if you want the truth. But just as I was about to give up, Albus arrived on the scene and saved the day. I have never seen such a beautiful sight. Him flying low over the horizon, hair blowing in the wind. His beard was much shorter then and both hair and beard were a beautiful fiery copper. He was truly my knight in shining armor. He saved me well and truly. He stood over my body and dispatched anyone who came near. He got me to the field hospital. I was bleeding so badly with the miscarriage by then that I almost didn't make it. He was so worried. He nursed me through the worst of it, scolded me when I needed to be and held me when I needed that. He made me laugh again."
"So that's why you are so loyal to Professor Dumbledore."
"Well, it's part of the reason, anyway," she smiled.
"May I ask how your husband reacted to all of this?"
"He was very supportive and loving. He was rather upset with me for not telling him about the baby but he was wise enough to not tell me that for a long, long time. Not until after our other children were born, in fact."
"You have children?"
"Yes we do. Four of them, and ten grandchildren." She laughed at Hermione's amazement. It tickled her to think how sterile the students thought their teacher's lives were. Of course, the fact that she had hidden her married life didn't help. "Hermione, I must ask you not to repeat most of these things to anyone. I suppose I can't expect you to keep a secret from Harry and Ron, but you must impress on them how important it is that the secret be kept. My marriage and my children are a closely held secret. Of the people here at Hogwarts, only Madam Pomfrey and Professor Snape know. And now you."
"Why did you keep it a secret?"
"To protect us. My husband is a famous and powerful wizard who is still very active in the fight against darkness. If the other side knew about his lover and his children they could use us against him. Our children carry my mother's family name rather than my husband's in order to help keep them and their children safe from Voldemort and his ilk."
"I promise. I won't say a thing." She smiled. It was a genuine Hermione smile this time. "Please tell me you aren't married to Minister Fudge!"
"Hermione, please!" Minerva groaned with disgust. "Give me a little credit."
"I can't believe you are married and are a grandmother! Everyone thinks that you are pining away after Professor Dumbledore. Did you know that people try to think of ways to set you two up?"
"Oh Yes! Actually, my husband finds that quite amusing. He likes watching the staff act silly trying to get us to date and admit our true feelings for each other." She grinned. "If they only knew. That's another reason you can't tell my secret. It would ruin staff morale."
"Wait a minute! Professor Dumbledore? Really? Oh My God! That is just too awesome!"
After a moment of thoughtful silence Hermione shifted position to sit next to Minerva. She nervously picked up mentor's hand and held it in both of hers.
"Professor," she said solemnly. "What about sex? I mean, you had children and you're still married so obviously you figured out a way to deal with having sex but I don't know if I could ever bring myself to do that again. You don't have to answer if you don't want to but..." The girl was blushing bright red.
"Nonsense, child. You can ask me anything. I will say that it took me a while to get to the point where I was ready for sex again. I think I was helped along by the fact that I was already involved with a man I loved deeply and who loved me enough to remain supportive and patient until I was ready. Albus was very patient and made no demands on me until I was ready. He let me lead the way back. I almost had more trouble getting used to casual contact with people, especially men who were not Albus. Someone would brush against me and I would go into a panic attack." She wrinkled her nose wryly. "It still doesn't do to walk up on me unannounced. I tend to hex first and ask questions later."
"I don't think I will ever be able to do that. I don't want anyone to touch me that way."
"That's OK. It's natural to want to protect yourself. You don't have to be intimate with anyone until you're ready. Everybody reacts differently to something like this. I didn't mean to make the recovery process sound trivial. It's long and hard. Some days you'll do fine and other days all you want to do is sit on the floor and cry. Those are both OK things. It's important to remember that recovery from this is a work in progress. It's not a door you walk through and suddenly everything is all better. It takes time and it takes friends. Someday you may find someone special who will make you want to think about sex again. With the right partner you won't need to protect yourself and you won't be afraid."
"Something you'll want to keep in mind is that you haven't had sex, unless, maybe before?" The girl blushed. "No, I thought not. You were brutally raped. That's not sex and it certainly isn't making love. Sex, even simple casual sex, can be quite entertaining and enjoyable. One can spend a lifetime exploring the myriad ways of sharing intimate pleasure. And making love with your special someone, well now, that can be one of life's best blessings." She noticed Hermione's renewed blush. She grinned and teased the girl. "There now, see, your old teacher has gone and embarrassed you."
"Oh, Hermione," she continued, putting her arms around the girl. "It's not fair. You're just a child, you shouldn't have had this horror forced on you. It just breaks my heart. You shouldn't have to fear the future. You have every right to be angry and hurt and defiant and depressed and every other emotion you can think of and probably some you can't name but can only feel. But you also have the right to be happy. What I am desperate for you to remember is that you are not alone in this, no matter how much it must seem like it sometimes. Enjoy your good days and on the days when it is just too much to deal with, come to me, or any of the other professors. Call on your friends and draw on their strength."
"I know you don't want to hear this but you and I are the lucky ones. We lived. We got another chance. Please promise me you won't throw away this second chance at life away. When you start to think about suicide again you remember you are not alone and you come to me. There is nothing you can do or think or desire that will offend me."
They sat together in silence, holding hands and watching the flames flicker in the fireplace, thinking about the past...and hoping for the future.