I Prefer Lord

Chapter 11

Author's Note: Well here's chapter 11 a bit quicker than I thought I'd have it, thanks for all the reviews everyone, hope you all enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.

She had three options as she saw it.

1. She could use this moment, when his guard seemed down, to hex the living hell out of him, grab her broom and fly to the end of the aparation wards and get out of there.

2. She could cry and beg and scream for him to stop and resort to hexing him if necessary and hope they could continue with their work as if none of this ever happened.

3. She could stop fighting and surrender right then. She could never forgive herself… perhaps. But maybe she'd been pursuing the wrong angle the whole time. Maybe the only way to defeat him was to be the person he lets in, his most trusted traitor.

She banished the thought away quickly hoping her guard was enough to keep him from her mind now. But judging from his fierce kisses on her neck and shoulders his mind was elsewhere. She took a deep breath, chills running down to her toes.

"I can't believe this…" she whispered more to herself, but stopped kissing her and sat up.

"Hermione, just stop thinking for once, stop being a muggle born witch, or a member of the Order of the Phoenix ,or SPEW, or whatever other title you've designated yourself as. You owe no one. You are your own person and you can do what you want." he said softly.

"Do you think that's what this is about." she half smiled. "No I think I burned those bridges a long time ago."

"Then what is it?" His stare was penetrating, searching her for answers.

"You're Voldemort." she nearly laughed as his face turned cold. "What I mean is, this is outside of the realm of anything I could have ever imagined."

Now he smirked slightly, "Really… I'm quite disappointed in your imagination then. I was under the impression muggles held a higher threshold for wonder and amazement. What with magic being magical in your world and not just another mundane thing."

She reached a hand slowly up to his chest, he stiffened, but didn't push her away. His gaze still focused far away his brow furrowed. She slid her fingertips across his chest, his skin surprisingly soft, but for a peppering of battle scars. She leaned forward and kissed one that stretched across his chest and she could feel his heartbeat. Fast, inhumanly fast. He still stayed rigid, his face looking pained nearly. Gathering resolve she pulled her body up onto his. His stony expression crumbled as their chests melted together . She kissed him this time, softly; holding herself up against him, her arms draped around his neck and shoulders. They rocked together, her legs wrapped around his. She closed her eyes pushing everything else away. Into the blackness went Harry and Ron, her professors, parents, the children of Hogwarts she'd sworn to protect. She felt tears pour from her eyes and closed them tighter until there was only blackness, with flashes of peripheral neon green and orange. Till she was just a body and a mind, just a machine. Still the tears came, she felt like she was floating, like her body and her soul had disconnected. The air in the bedroom was turbulent and charged with electricity. Hot and cold at once, she felt completely overpowered by it.

She felt his long, slender fingers graze her cheek. "Open your eyes." She did and nearly screamed. They were floating above the sea, in the midst of a raging storm. The sky, violet red with towering indigo clouds that crackled white blue. The ocean spray was a light freezing mist that made her hold onto him tighter. She shivered a little and he moved his hands up and down her back. They were warm as if he'd been sitting by a fire.

"This can't be safe." she mumbled watching the sea crash into the cliff side. Thunder roared in the distance.

"There is one simple truth Hermione. Nothing worth doing is ever safe. You can spend your life doing nothing or you can face the fact that you will die." He paused now looking uncertain, as if some tempest was brewing in his mind. "I'll tell you a secret…" He held her chin with his hand forcing her to look right at him. She swallowed nervously.

"There is no sweeter feeling than knowing you will die someday. Take it from someone who once thought they never would, that they would be trapped in an indescribably empty shell of existence for eternity. Death only means you've finally lost or won."

As if on cue the sky erupted in a blast of thunder. Their lips met in desperation and she knew now there was no turning back; if there ever had been.

She awoke the next morning in his bed, the space he had occupied empty. This wasn't surprising as judging from the sun it was at least ten and he seldom stayed in bed past seven. Their was a craft of coffee sitting on the table in the living room and a note next to it.

Be back later. Try not get yourself killed it'll only be a few hours.

She smirked and poured herself a cup of coffee and took it out the balcony. The sea was still a bit wild from the night before though the sky was clear bright blue and the sun was shining brightly.

She re-read the part of, "Hogwarts, A History," on the founders trying to pick up on something more of the relationship between Slytherin and Ravenclaw. But as she'd figured, the text focused mainly on the animosity between Gryffindor and Slytherin. She finished her coffee and went out to the balcony. In the distance a ways down the road she could see a little farmers market set up.

In fact it was such a nice day it seemed like a perfect time to go check out the set up. How much danger could possibly come from going to a muggle farmer's market?

Of course the moment that question crossed her mind she should have known it was a bad idea. But really who could have guessed he would be there, waiting for her.

"Miss Granger do you have a moment?" Cold dark eyes regarded her like she was a monster. A hint of fear was mixed in the disgust.

"Um…What are you doing here? Did he send you? Is everything okay Severus?" she felt her stomach knot up as if it was Potions again and she'd been called on while Ron was distracting her from the question.

"No, I'm here on my own accord." he said quietly. "And unless you'd like my assure my quick and painful death I'd prefer you keep this meeting to yourself."

"I will do my best but you do realize he has his way of finding things out." she paused. "But I think I can manage."

"Well honestly it doesn't much matter. I didn't really have a choice in this matter. Have you read the paper lately Hermione?"

"No not really. I've been busy and I'd rather not know anything about matters which I have no ability to affect. Why?"

His face held a great deal of contempt as he stared at her silently, suddenly she was aware of a nudge at her mind, much different than Voldemort's presence which was more of a heavy assault.

"Oh yes I'm sure you have no bearing whatsoever on the recent turn of events." he spat venomously. "I knew when this change in Harry began there was no way he was capable of such insidious dark magic himself. And with the proximity of his change to your betrayal of the order…"

She cut him off her voice shaking with anger, "If you're suggesting for even a moment that I did this to Harry…"

"No I'm not suggesting, I'm saying that yes you clearly did. Or you aided your lord in doing it. But what you may not realize is in taming Voldemort you've created a threat to the wizarding world in Harry much larger in scope than Voldemort ever was. Because Harry's not interested in ridding this world of muggle borns and half-breeds, No his ambitions are much, much higher. He now believes there can be no co-existence of worlds and he intends to destroy us all."

"Severus, you cannot be serious…" she felt an icy wave of apprehension wash over her. "Why would Harry even want that? I mean what does he stand to gain from killing everyone?"

Severus laughed now slightly, a nervous cackle that attracted attention from a group of nearby old muggle women testing the firmness of summer squash. He pulled Hermione into the shadows under a large oak tree. "Maybe you really don't know what's going on…Hermione I asked if you'd read the paper lately because there has been some chatter about some promising research made by Salazar Inc. into the nature of magic. Research that promises potential to cure squibs, to strengthen the "magic gene" in the magical weak. Now you might think with a name like Salazar Incorporated, the corporation responsible for finding this would be related to "You Know Who" or one of his purity loving associates, but you'd be completely wrong. The founder, hell the only associate of Salazar Inc. is none other than the Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter himself. And "the cure" he's developing experimenting on squibs and muggles, it's no cure of course.

Now Hermione could see the grave fear in his eyes. Heavy shadows contoured his gaunt face, his hair held more grey than she remembered. "Severus what are you saying?"

"He's figured out how it all works Hermione, he beat you and Voldemort to it. He's going to rid the world of magic. He's going to wipe the slate clean, make us all muggles."

"Would that really be the worse thing?" she wondered aloud.

"Of course it would!" he bellowed. "He will destroy every trace of our world. Listen, I understand you've spent time in the muggle world, you've adjusted. But do you have any idea what this would do to some wizards and witches? Not to mention, its our culture, our history, our everything. Mine and yours, all of ours. We can't let this happen…So I've come to you to betray the Order, or what's left of it. " He pulled a leather bound journal from his robes. "This is Harry's, he's certainly noticed its missing by now, so I must return quickly before anyone else suffers for my crime."

"But Severus, what will he do to you?" Tears were forming in her eyes, while her stomach twisted and turned, she feared she already knew the answer.

"I knew the risk I took bringing this to you. Listen you must not allow Voldemort to see this, it explains everything Harry's discovered. He's very, very close to perfecting the method of magical extraction." His face looked gray and his lips quivered, "I've seen the experiments Hermione…you must stop him. But you must not let Voldemort to see this information either…he'll use it against those like you, and even selective use of this extraction would destroy our world. You know what I mean right Hermione? There'd be no more Miss Grangers sorting into Gryffindor."

Before he could react the wrapped her arms around him in a tight hug. "Thank you Severus, I won't fail you I promise." And in a moment he was gone, her arms grasping air.

She walked back to the market picking up some particularly juicy, plump strawberries and fresh cream. She tried to smile as the farmer explained to her how if she came back next weekend he'd have even better berries. All she could think of was what was happening to Snape, was he being tortured, killed, or was he Harry's latest experiment candidate. A sob escaped her lips though she tried to hold it back.

The farmer's mother who had been packaging produce hobbled over to her and within a minute an entire group of old muggle women were cooing over her, asking her what was wrong and then it was like a floodgate and all the tears she'd been trying to hold back came pouring out. She sobbed for the better part of ten minutes the women taking turns rubbing her back and consoling her. Suddenly she knew he was there. His presence overshadowing everything. Dressed in khaki's and a polo, his dark chestnut hair falling carelessly into his eyes, he looked straight out of muggle magazine.

"I'm sorry, my wife, she has emotional issues. Thank you for taking care of her." he was speaking softly to the farmer's mother while the other women helped her compose herself.

The ancient woman smiled kindly, "You watch over her more carefully, you know its not just her who's safety you need to be concerned for anymore."

She couldn't hear what the muggle woman had said to him, but clearly it'd left a mark. He was whiter than a ghost, and his knees looked about to buckle. But a second later, it was as if nothing happened. The self- assured confidence was back, as was his color and smirk. It made her doubt if her eyes had just played a trick on her. He walked up to her casually holding out a hand to her, as she sat on a wooden bench in between the old women. He took her hand and kissed it softly smiling. "Let's get you home darling." He pulled her up. She thanked the women, took her strawberries and cream and put them in a paper back. Voldemort took it from her and told her to go ahead of him, that he'd catch up.

A sick, nervousness filled her, and she nearly began to cry again. Those poor women were so old, there was no telling if the memory wipe wouldn't get more than just their visit to the market. She began to run feeling overwhelmed with grief. The journal Snape had given her was tucked into her shorts pocket, her long peasant tunic covering it from sight, save the outline. She reached home before he caught up to her and quickly hid the journal deep within her things, casting a camouflage charm to make it blend in with her own books.

She went to the bathroom and washed her face, this was unnatural for her this emotional behavior. Although considering the situation perhaps none of her normal behavior could be expected anymore. She heard the door fly open signaling his return and took a deep breath before opening the door.

She hadn't expected him to be standing right there when she opened it though. And her breath caught in her throat as their eyes met, blood shot brown and smoldering red. "Who was that old witch?" he demanded softly. Her eyes darted away from the his to his hand. His wand was pressed firmly against her abdomen, digging painfully. She tried to move away but couldn't.

"What's going on, why are you doing this?" She tried to move but it was no use, he'd petrified her she realized. "I didn't even know that muggle women. She was the farmer's mother I think…" she glared at him. "What made you think she was a witch? What did she say to you?" He regarded her coldly his wand trembling against her for a moment before he pulled it away and turned from her. She was still frozen in the spot. He walked away and toward the library. She shouted for him to come back but he made no reply. She worried this was about Snape's visit and warning but as she tried to push herself into his mind all she got was one image, the farmer's mother. He returned holding a wizarding medical text, he was thumbing through a section quickly, as if looking for a specific spell. He began mumbling it quietly his wand pressed against her abdomen again. She couldn't make it out entirely but there was one word. Natus… a keyword in nearly any spell used when dealing with babies and pregnant witches. Though she knew she was still paralyzed from his spell, the room had begun to spin, and the last thing she saw before the world went dark was a tunnel of light that connected her to him.

When she awoke he was sitting beside her staring at her. She couldn't remember for the life of her how she'd ended up in bed. It was night, the last thing she remembered she'd been down to the garden to check if the rose from the poem was real. She'd found it and dug it out to discover a box with a white rosebud inside. She remembered feeling better, then worse than she'd ever felt before. And then….it felt like there was something that came next. But try as she could that was all that came to her.

He finally spoke. "You know you shouldn't just open dark artifacts you find buried in the ground." She saw the box and rosebud on the table beside the bed. You were under a powerful nightmare and possession spell. A completely unique one actually, very old too." His brow furrowed. "I don't think we should work together anymore. That was very foolish of you and clearly I shouldn't have trusted your judgment. A first year at Hogwarts knows better than to fiddle with unknown cursed objects alone. What if you'd succeeded at whatever the goal of the curse was. You know you wrote a rather vile note to me, all about how you'd see the death of the bastard heir of Slytherin."

"I didn't write that…"she felt déjà vu unlike anything she'd ever experienced, but continued anyway, "You said I was possessed, so clearly you already know I didn't write that."

He nodded slightly, "But it was your hand. And suppose your hand hadn't chose to write me a note, but instead to wait until I was asleep and murder me."

"But none of this happened…why don't you trust me, you can't be serious after all the work I've done for you." Something felt so wrong, more than his words, his actions, something was awry. Finally she gathered he courage and asked the question gnawing at her subconscious. "Did you wipe my memory?"

He was silent a moment too long, and even though he replied no, she knew better. "Fine. Well if you don't want to work together anymore then let me leave."

"Fine." he spat back. "Leave now, and don't you dare come back here or even try to contact me. I don't know what I was thinking, working with a filthy mud blood." She felt him release her from the petrification curse and she crawled out of bed and began to put her things into suitcases. He sat in the same spot, watching her silently. When she was all packed and dressed she apparated away down the road a ways. There was something drawing her there and then from no where there was an apparition. A women in a white gown with long dark wavy hair. She walked toward her slowly and reached her arm out and touched her stomach smiling at her sadly. "I tried to warn you child."

And then as if it was a mirage Hermione stood alone again, save for his shadowy figure watching her from the balcony.