Disclaimer: I own the plot, a few of the characters, but sadly, everything else is Jo's.

A.N. So the break that I was planning on taking from writing was thrown out the window. I'm back with yet another story. Read, review, and enjoy!

Background: Hermione Granger is trapped in an abusive marriage. She lost everything in the Final Battle, including Harry and Ron. She doesn't know how to escape from her predicament, and fears she does not have the strength to do it. How will her life change when she runs into an old acquaintance? Will he be able to help her and her daughter?


Chapter One

Hermione Granger had suffered greatly in her relatively short life. The fight against Voldemort had turned into an all-out war shortly before the end of her seventh year at Hogwarts. Once she, Harry, and Ron had graduated, there was little time for them to enjoy the remainder of their teenage years. They were forced to grow up quickly, as they all rushed off to help the Order bring an end to the madness Voldemort was spreading.

Without Dumbledore by their side, the Order suffered terribly. It seemed the Death Eaters had vastly outnumbered the Order by almost seven to one. But still, they trudged on into battle. Harry was bound and determined to bring an end to Voldemort, and continued his feverish searching for the remainder of Voldemort's Horcruxes. Hermione tried to help the best she could by volunteering her help at St. Mungo's, tending to the wounded brought in from the battlefields, and sometimes traveling to the battlefields themselves to care for the more desperately wounded. Ron stood side by side with the members of his family in the Order, out on the battlefield he waged all out war on those who had made his friends at Hogwarts suffer.

And then came the Final Battle. There was almost no time for the Golden Trio to say what they wanted to say to each other, just in case they didn't get the chance to say it later. Hermione managed to get in two quick kisses on the boys' cheeks and to yell at their retreating back to be safe and she loved them very much and that she would see them once it was all over.

Hermione was still plagued with nightmares of the Final Battle. She never saw Ron or Harry's smiling faces again after they left her. She found out later what had happened on the battlefield that cost her friends' lives.

Ron had bravely stormed into the raging battle, intending to bring down more Death Eaters as he had previously done. After seeing his father fall to the ground at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange, he went after her to seek his revenge. He had fought bravely and fired curse after curse at her, but in the end, Ron's consuming rage was not enough to prevail over Bellatrix.

Harry had found the last of the Horcruxes, and now only needed to get the last bit that still resided inside Voldemort's body. With what was left of the Order flanking him, he sought out Voldemort to finish him off. Harry had ordered the Order to let him finish Voldemort off on his own, as he saw it as his last bit to Dumbledore to finish the mission he and the wizened professor had started together. Harry had been badly injured by a curse thrown at him Lucius Malfoy in an attempt to protect his master's life, but still, Harry never wavered. He finished off Voldemort, and the Order managed to round up the last of the Death Eaters that hadn't managed to Disapparate the moment their master was vanquished.

But the curse Lucius had struck Harry with proved too much to handle. He died in Hermione's arms while she was trying to save him. She could still hear his last words to her as she tried everything in her power to make him live.

"We did it, Hermione. It's finally over. I finished it off for Dumbledore, for my parents. Maybe now I can rest a little, eh?"

Heartbroken and feeling as though a part of her had died with the boys, she had retreated from the magical world and went back to live with her parents. For months, she lived without magic, too heartbroken and plagued with memories to continue using it.

Her parents had worried about her, and encouraged her to go back to her magic, telling her not to waste her talent and schooling. She didn't want to listen to them, after all, it was because of the magic that she no longer had her two best friends alongside her.

But then, just when it seemed that nothing could get any worse, her parents were killed in a car accident just a few months after she lost Ron and Harry. A drunk driver had slammed into the car late one night as they were returning home from a night out on the town.

With nothing left to go back to at home, Hermione had boxed up her childhood home and watched it go up for sale and get bought by a young married couple. She put everything in storage and managed to find herself a small flat near the Leaky Cauldron, the entrance back into the magical world.

She found herself walking past it more and more, often stopping and looking at it longingly, as though she wanted to go inside. Finally, one day, she had mustered up enough courage to walk in. People instantly recognized her as one of the Golden Trio, and though the questions they asked broke her heart, she found it all rather soothing. She had never really allowed herself to mourn for her friends, and in the wake of her parents' deaths, she found she needed to talk about everything that had happened.

That day, she had met Matt McAllister. He had been a year ahead of her at Hogwarts, a Ravenclaw. She had never seen him at school, but found him rather intriguing. Soon after their first meeting, they were seeing each other regularly. Matt had a job at the Ministry; he was an Auror and had seen many of the horrors Hermione often described to him. They had found solace in each other, both of them needing to talk about the horrors of the past that they faced.

They married a couple months after Hermione turned eighteen. She had decided to return to her job at St. Mungo's, and finished off her Healer's training to get a full time position. Returning to the magical community had helped her get over everything that had happened; she knew full well that she couldn't run away from her past, and needed to face it head on.

A few more months after they were married, Hermione found out she was pregnant. She and Matt were ecstatic; they had talked about starting a family, and were overjoyed when they found out she was going to have a baby.

On Christmas morning the year Hermione turned nineteen, she gave birth to a happy, healthy baby girl whom they christened Charlotte Grace. Hermione had never been happier; motherhood suited her well, and gave her a purpose. Oftentimes, even after she was married, she found herself falling into depression as memories would haunt her sleep. But with Charlotte's birth came new hope and life. Hermione threw all her efforts into keeping her baby happy and safe. She quit her job as a Healer to spend time with her new daughter and was quite content being a stay at home mom.

The problems at home didn't start until Charlotte was about four. She and Matt had always had an open policy on discussing things that had happened to them, but as their marriage progressed, he became more and more reclusive, oftentimes leaving work and heading straight to a bar for the night. Hermione knew he was having flashbacks from the Final Battle and such, but when she tried to talk to him about it, he would clam up and tell her to leave him to deal with it. She had even went so far as to look into getting him some help to deal with it all, but that had only enraged him.

That was the night he first hit her. She was trying to reason with him about going to talk to someone about the memories and the effects they were having on him, but he was being stubborn. She knew he had been drinking that night, but she didn't know how much. He had seemed sober to her when he came home, but once the conversation had turned to getting him help, he became angry and started yelling at her.

"Matt! I'm just trying to help you! Don't you see what this is doing to our marriage? You barely talk to me anymore! Charlotte asks me all the time why her daddy doesn't want to do anything with her anymore! You come home drunk more often than not these days! I'm just trying to help you!" she had yelled at him in exasperation.

"Help me? Help me? You call telling some stranger what I feel 'helping me?' I'll tell you what will help me! Leave me the hell alone about it! I'm dealing with it, all right?"

"Oh, you're dealing with it, all right! You come home drunk as a fish almost every night! You don't even realize what you're like when you're drunk! What do you think Charlotte thinks of her father coming home drunk, huh? I don't even want to share a bed with you when you've been drinking! You're unbearable!"

He struck out at her and hit her on the cheek. She had stumbled away from him with a shocked cry, her hands instinctively raised to protect herself from another blow.

"I'll tell you what's unbearable! Your damn nagging! Just leave me the hell alone, all right?" he yelled before storming from their flat.

Hermione collapsed onto the floor, sobbing, holding her bruised cheek. How had her marriage come to this? She thought they were happy! Now, because of their past, she was left with a bitter, angry man for a husband. A husband who had struck her.

Charlotte had come toddling out of her room, her auburn ringlets tousled and clutching her blanket.

"Mummy? Why are you crying? Where did Daddy go? Why was you yelling?"

Hermione looked up, gasping back her sobs. Charlotte had heard them.

Charlotte shuffled over to her and wrapped her small arms around Hermione's neck. "I don't like when you and Daddy yell. I get scared."

Hermione wrapped her arms around her daughter and picked her up to carry her back to her room. "It won't happen again, baby. I promise."

She tucked her back into bed and rubbed her back until she fell back to sleep.

Hermione found herself praying that this was the only time he would get so angry. She could only hope he would realize that he needed help.

Three years later, Hermione found herself now a prisoner in her own home. She was not allowed to go out without Matt with her. He had become almost delusional, thinking she was cheating on him with other men, and refusing her the opportunity to meet someone else.

She didn't know how her marriage had come to this. At first, the night he first struck her, she had refused to believe that Matt, her Matt, could get like this. She refused to believe that he might actually become worse and even hurt Charlotte.

His drinking had only become worse, and now he came home every night drunk. When his drinking had started to become worse, Hermione would refuse to sleep in the same bed with him. She would sleep on the couch after getting his drunk self safely into bed without killing himself first. But then he had figured out that she wasn't sleeping in the same bed with him one morning when she had overslept and failed to get up before him. He had awoken to an empty bed and stumbled out to the living room to find her asleep on the couch.

"Wake up, bitch! What the hell do you think you're doing, sleeping on the couch? We're married! We're supposed to sleep in the same bed together!"

Hermione jolted awake to find her husband towering over her, with an even bigger temper than when he was drunk. Her stomach coiled into fear, she knew what was coming next, but she still made herself be heard.

"When you're drunk, I find you repulsive," she said simply, bracing herself for the blow that she knew was coming.

For the next week, she tried her best to conceal the black eye that she had received from him. She tried to play it off as an accident, that she had run into a door or something like that.

Ginny, Charlotte's godmother and Hermione's best friend, was suspicious about it, but said nothing. Ginny had noticed that things had been a little rocky between Hermione and Matt for quite some time, but she knew Hermione would refuse to listen to her if she said anything.

Hermione could no longer get away with not sleeping in the same bed with Matt anymore. So she made sure that when he came home in a drunken stupor, she would cast a Silencing Charm on their bedroom door so that Charlotte could not hear them yelling at each other, or the occasional slap that would be thrown.

Tonight, she made sure that she had Charlotte in bed early, giving her six year old daughter a good long chance to fall asleep before her father came home. Charlotte knew what was going on now, she was an unusually bright little girl, she had picked up Hermione's intelligence and it was terribly difficult to conceal things from her.

Hermione had herself a cup of tea before climbing into bed herself and willing herself to fall asleep before Matt came home as well.

She laid there for hours, trying to fall asleep so she could escape her living nightmare. She stared at the alarm clock on her night stand. It was eleven and Matt still had yet to return.

Shortly thereafter, she had fallen into a light doze. She never really fell asleep until he came home, otherwise she would worry, despite the fact that she found herself loving her husband less and less every day.

Matt stumbled in a little after midnight. He stubbed his toe on his dresser as he clumsily tried to change into his pajamas and swore loudly, waking Hermione up. She cast the Silencing Charm on the door so Charlotte would not wake up.

Matt slid into bed and awkwardly ran a hand over Hermione's cheek. He reeked of alcohol, and she wanted to gag, but knew it would lead them into another violent row.

"Hello, love," he slurred, kissing her on the mouth.

She tried to resist at first, forgetting that she didn't want to make him angry. He was drunk, and she knew that this was going to get them nowhere. She was repulsed by the fact that he could even find himself aroused in his drunken state.

"Matt, stop, you're drunk," she tried to pry herself away from him, but he held to her fast.

"Matt, please, don't," she pleaded, trying to turn away from his mouth.

He bit down on her lip, drawing blood. She whimpered.

"You're going to give me what I want, do you understand?" he slurred.

She didn't want this. Who would? But she knew there was no escape. So she had no choice but to let her husband force himself on her.

Once he had finally worn himself out, he collapsed onto his side and instantly fell asleep. Hermione pulled her nightgown back on and rolled over onto her side, moving herself as far away from him as she possibly could. She cried quietly for herself and for Charlotte. Charlotte was an innocent victim, she did not ask for this. Neither did Hermione. But how was she supposed to know that Matt was going to turn into this monster?

She knew in her heart that she should leave him, before things got way out of hand. But things had already gotten out of hand. Hermione didn't know if she was strong enough to leave him. They had found each other in their most vulnerable states, and had clung to each other for comfort and solace. Who would she have to turn to if she left? And what of Charlotte? She needed a daddy in her life.

She needed out. . .she wanted her husband back. . .she didn't want to leave him. . .but she knew if she didn't, Charlotte could be next. . .

They needed help.