Chapter Seven

Severus felt a small pang of regret as he laid Hermione down on the bed in her parent's home. He reached his hand out to touch the curls he had spent the last several months getting to know intimately and felt the familiar tingle of magic that accompanied an Unspeakable Vow. He pulled back inches from her face, and that was the last thought he gave to her or what they had or might have had if things had been different.

His next thought was total and complete glee at the idea of what Lucius would say when he first raised his wand against his old "friend." He checked his watch. It wasn't too late to catch everyone tonight unawares. The Dark Lord's dinner, something Severus never went to, (because the invitations got lost in the post he told himself,) would be ending just about now. Without another thought for Hermione, he Apparated to Hogwarts.

He hurried to the Great Hall where Voldemort (he dared say the name now) and the other Death Eaters were coming out. Lucius saw him first.

"What are you doing here, Severus? Don't you have potions to brew?" He never resisted an opportunity to remind Snape of his lower position. Severus sneered at him and thought the nastiest, most painful curse that he knew.

The spell stayed at the front of his mind, but he couldn't summon the willpower to execute it fully. Lucius had a son. And a wife. He hadn't done anything that Severus wouldn't have done had he been in his place.

Fine, he thought bitterly, so he wouldn't start with Lucius. He would save his revenge on him for last. It would be much sweeter that way anyway. He turned his wand on Nott.

Nothing leapt forth. Nott had saved his arse more than once on the battlefield. It would be unfair to impale him after that. He tried again. Still there was nothing, except for…for a tingle of something he hadn't felt in a very long time.

He'd felt it long ago when he watched Lily Evans in the library, twirling her quill and tapping her fingers on the desk while she studied. He'd felt it even before that when his mother had packed him off to school, kissing him on the forehead and telling him to behave.

And then the world went dark for a moment and his head met with the flagstone floor. He felt Lucius' boot on his back.

"How dare you raise your wand to me, you good for nothing half-blood."

Another boot collided with his ribs and again with his face. His combined magic didn't let him hurt others but it did thankfully allow him to Apparate away despite the protective spells that surrounded the one-time school.

Severus landed on his own floor angry, tired, and in pain. He nearly destroyed his lab with the force of his rage. Glass bottles broke into a shower of shards. Books flew off the shelf, their pages ripped from their covers. Drawers came out and dumped their contents on the floor.

That was how he found it. A scrap of paper, shoved in a drawer, floated down and landed near his head where he lay. He didn't notice it for hours. Not until he moved to get up and clean up the mess.

Picking it up, he read it and suddenly realized what he had done, what she had talked him into.

Certain precautions must be taken when utilizing this spell. Be careful to choose a witch or wizard with the same disposition as your own. Powerful emotions are tied to a person's magic. Wizards not only feel an emotion but also use that emotion to drive their magical force. Anger, malice, and hatred are examples of such emotions as well as love and forgiveness. Be especially cautious with any witch who exhibits the latter, as these two together or even alone will always override the former when trying to utilize the combined magical force.

The conniving little Mudblood witch had tricked him. He didn't know now if she loved him or not, (would she do this to him if she had?) but it didn't matter. She loved someone – her precious Potter who was now dead or her long lost boyfriend Weasley—and that was enough to make sure that he never became the next Dark Lord. He wouldn't even be able to survive as a Death Eater in his current state, sympathizing with every potential victim. Her love, tied to the magic she had given him, made certain of that.

He thought of what he might have had. Of what she had robbed him, the all-encompassing power, the worship of followers who also cowered in fear. And then a few minutes later, he even thought of what he had given up in her – someone who might have truly cared for him in a way few people ever had. But it didn't matter now what could have been.

His only chance now was to run. And hope the Dark Lord didn't find him.

A/N: This has been an experimental piece for me and I hope you've enjoyed it. In many ways it is a response to my disgust over the many stories where Hermione falls in love with her captor. I have tried giving her a truly happy ending where love saves the day. Please comment and review.