Summary: Lucius casts a powerful spell upon Hermione. Severus must help her resist its effects.

Pairings: HG/SS, HG/LM, HP/DM

A/N: I'm taking a break from my sequel to Partners for a bit so that I can explore a couple of new plot bunnies. My intention was to start a RL/SS tale, but this plot idea was too good to put aside. The RL/SS tale will come soon.

Important As far as this story goes, everything agrees with the books up until the beginning of Book 6, except that Lucius was never arrested. Severus was never Defence Professor and he didn't kill Dumbledore. This starts a week before Hermione's 7th year. I don't really say anything about what happened during the year before because it's completely irrelevant to the story. Suffice it to say that Harry battled Voldie and survived yet again, Harry had a lot of angst/anger issues, etc.

Chapter One: What Started As A Simple Trip

Hermione walked the streets of Diagon Alley alone. Four days before the start of her final year at Hogwarts, she was just finishing up buying new supplies. She had bought what she needed for Advanced Transfiguration, Potions, and Charms earlier in the morning and was now leaving her room at The Leaky Cauldron to go get some parchment and fresh ink.

Aside from the reason that she was shopping alone, everything was perfectly fine. The sun was out and there were hardly any clouds in the bright blue sky. People thronged the streets and judging by the good spirits of Diagon Alley's patrons, it was very hard to believe that Voldemort continued to pose a threat to their safety.

News had come that the Dark Lord had destroyed several villages in the country, but there was certainly no sign of danger in the immediate vicinity of Diagon Alley. Harry speculated that Voldemort was planning something big. He thought it likely that there'd be an attack on a largely populated area soon. Hermione didn't doubt that that was a possibility.

But the potential possibility of an attack hadn't stopped her from leaving the Burrow and taking a room at the Leaky Cauldron. Of course, had she known then of what would happen she would have gladly stayed at the Weasleys, no matter how much of an uncaring selfish prick Ron was being.

After their first shouting match, Hermione didn't have the energy to stay for round two. She could only hope that Harry would be able to talk some sense into the boy before the start of term. Except Harry seemed to be having some problems with Ginny and she half expected him to come join her.

If in a few days, Ron still wanted to hate her because she refused to be his girlfriend, then perhaps it really was for the best that they go their separate ways.

After getting her writing supplies, Hermione thought about going into the new apothecary across from Flourish and Blotts. It had just opened the day before and when she passed it earlier she'd seen that it was packed with customers.

It probably wasn't a good time to go in for the purpose of idly browsing the various exotic and rare ingredients.

As she walked back to the inn, Hermione was completely oblivious to the danger she was in until she felt a man's hand suddenly tighten on her shoulder. She stopped and her heart jumped into her throat. A hand snaked around her waist and she was pulled against the man's body. Hermione dropped the bag she was carrying and was vaguely aware of the sound of shattering inkwells.

A voice whispered in her ear. "Hullo, Miss Granger."

Hermione twitched at the sound of the Lucius Malfoy's voice. True fear stole her breath. Deep, soft laughter came from Lucius's chest.

"For now, no one can see me or hear me but you. Do exactly what I tell you. If you struggle or try to fight me you'll regret it."

Hermione managed to find her voice.

"If you're going to kill me anyway that won't matter much."

"I'm not going to kill you. Now turn right and walk into the first alley you see."

Hermione swallowed hard. Lucius pushed her forward and Hermione had no choice but to walk in the direction he forced her to go. Hermione's heart pounded rapidly and she could hardly breathe.

There was nothing she could do to get away. She'd left her wand with the rest of her things in her room. Lucius's grip was strong enough that she knew better than to test it. Her heart rate increased even further as she thought about what Lucius had planned for her.

The alley came into view and Hermione froze. Lucius shoved her forward.

"Move along, now," Lucius told her.

Now in a terrified daze, Hermione obeyed Lucius's command. Upon entering the alley Hermione sensed a powerful field of magic. It charged the air and Hermione had the unsettling suspicion that Malfoy had created it and that it probably made the alley and all activity within it invisible to passerby.

Five paces into the alley, Lucius released her and she quickly turned to face him.

Lucius's lips turned up into a dark smile. Hermione backed away, though it wasn't as if she had anywhere to go. The wall was less than four paces behind her.

Lucius advanced on Hermione.

Knowing it was futile but unable to just stand there and do nothing, Hermione tried to run to the right, towards the entrance of the alley. Predictably, Lucius's hand shot out and painfully caught her arm, twisting her around to face him.

"Ah, ah, ah, I don't recall telling you to leave."

Hermione's eyes widened in terror as Lucius slowly, firmly, and inexorably drove her against the wall. He made sure that he maintained a powerful grip on her body and positioned her before him in such a way as to completely prevent her from hurting him.

Lucius watched Hermione's face, taking obvious pleasure in the power he had over her. His thigh pressed against her hip and Hermione was very aware of their intimate position. His body touched her lower abdomen. Hermione tensed.

"I'm not going to rape you," Lucius told her. "Though if you disobey me, you can't be certain that I won't change my mind."

Lucius released her. "Stand still,"

Lucius drew his wand and leveled it at Hermione's chest.

Hermione expected Lucius the words to recite the words of whatever horrible curse she was fated to receive, but no sound left his lips. He must have incanted a non-verbal spell. Suddenly, a beam of invisible energy from Lucius's wand hit her just above the heart. Her body absorbed the unseen spell and her chest exploded in sharp, stabbing pain.

Hermione screamed. She continued to feel the magic enter her chest, and the spell seemed to stretch on for minutes.

It had to stop. Surely, it had to stop.

Hermione crumpled against the wall, nearly losing consciousness. The pain was so great that she could only guess that the spell itself was keeping her conscious.

Then suddenly the spell reached completion and Hermione no longer felt the magic being forced into her. Though the pain had only marginally dissipated. It felt as if a knife was being thrust into her chest each time she took a breath.

Obviously, the pain was not the only effect of the spell. The part of her mind that could still function past the physical agony wondered what it had done.

Lucius came to her side and pulled her up, forcing her to get her feet under herself and stand.

Strangely, Hermione felt less pain when Lucius touched her. He now stood in front of her, his gaze locked on her eyes.

"I'm sorry about the pain," he told her in a surprisingly gentle tone. "It will pass in a few hours."

Hermione regarded him warily, trembling with pain and fear.

"What did you do?" she asked him in a weak voice.

Lucius smiled.

"You don't really expect me to answer that question, do you? I assure you that you'll find out soon."

He reached out a hand and touched her face, stroking her cheek with his thumb. Hermione jerked away from the contact.

"You needn't be afraid of me, Hermione," he told her softly.

The pain in her chest seemed to increase with the absence of Lucius's touch. Hermione didn't care. She'd rather endure torturous pain then willingly let the man before her lay a hand on her body.

Lucius regarded her actions with amusement in his grey eyes.

"Things will be different next time we meet," he told her.

Hermione glared at him.

"There won't be a next time, Malfoy," Hermione told him coldly.

Lucius let out a half laugh.

"We shall see,"

With those words, Lucius Apparated out of the alley. As soon as he disappeared, the magic in the air of the alley was suddenly gone.

Hermione breathed slowly and exhaled unevenly when the pain proved too great for her to draw a proper breath. Gingerly, she took a step in the direction of the alley's entrance. She needed to get back to the inn and she needed to lie down because standing was too much effort.

She hoped that she didn't pass out along the way. A fresh wave of shooting pain radiated through her chest but she restrained herself from crying out. She didn't want to attract attention if she could help it.

Hermione desperately wished that she could take a deep breath. She knew she wasn't getting enough oxygen.

For an instant, she considered trying to Apparate to the Burrow, but knew that it was beyond foolish to attempt something like that in her current state. Hermione left the alley and walked very slowly, concentrating only on putting one foot carefully in front of the other. She was shaking badly now, and a few people gave her some looks as they walked by, but none asked if she needed help.

It seemed to take an eternity for Hermione to reach the doors of the Leaky Cauldron. Every step had been sheer torture. She was sweating profusely and knew she must be very close to passing out.

At least someone was kind enough to hold a door open for her. Inside, people were crowded around the bar and the majority of the tables were filled with witches and wizards talking and drinking.

Hermione's gaze found the staircase near the far wall that led to her room and her stomach plummeted.

There was no way in hell she could walk up those stairs.

Another burst of pain shot through her chest, this one more intense than any of those prior to it and it was all Hermione could do to keep from shrieking.

Somehow she forced herself to approach the back of the room where Tom, the innkeeper was busy pouring beer for the men sitting at the stools along the counter.

About halfway to her destination, a middle-aged witch set down her drink and rose to her feet.

"Can I help you?" she asked Hermione, a kind expression on her face.

Hermione looked at her, dazed. She opened her mouth but she couldn't speak for the pain.

"I . . ."

Hermione went rigid and let out a strangled exclamation. Involuntarily, she took a deep breath which only compounded her agony. She closed her eyes in a silent scream.

Hermione felt the woman gently put an arm around her. She would have surely fallen had the woman not steadied her.

The woman's husband moved to Hermione's other side. The couple helped her into a chair at their table.

Other people began to notice Hermione's distress.

"Is anyone here a healer?!" he called in a voice that carried clearly throughout the entire room. A couple seconds passed and no one gave an affirmative answer.

Then, Hermione watched a man turn around from his seat directly in front of Tom. She found herself staring at her potions professor. He must have come to Diagon Alley to look at what the new store had to offer. Her expression pleaded him to help her, but she worried that he might ignore her. And not necessarily because he didn't want to help her. Even in her stricken condition, Hermione knew that there might be spies watching him. A true Deatheater obviously wouldn't help a mudblood Gryffindor witch.

A look of surprise crossed Severus Snape's face and he quickly stood up.

"I can help her. I'm a potions master and she's one of my students at Hogwarts."

He quickly came to Hermione's side.

"What happened, Miss Granger?"

Hermione raised her gaze to Severus's face. She knew she couldn't tell him that she was cursed by Lucius Malfoy in a room full of people. Besides, she still couldn't find her voice.

She looked at him and shook her head.

When she refused to tell him, Hermione saw from the look in his dark eyes that he suspected that she wasn't suffering from a severe case of food poisoning or something naturally caused.

Severus looked at Tom.

"Do you have a room to take her to?"

"She's staying in room 14."

Severus turned back to Hermione and moved closer to her.

"Put your arms round my neck. I'm going to carry you."

Hermione did as he told her and he easily lifted her, cradling her body against his chest. Hermione closed her eyes, afraid that she'd throw up on her professor if she kept them open.

Less than two minutes later, Severus set Hermione down outside the door to her room.

"I need your key."

Hermione reached into her pocket and deposited the brass door key into Severus's palm. After Severus opened the door, he put the key into his pocket.

He picked Hermione up again and carried her to the bed. He put her down as gently as possible, trying to avoid causing her any undue pain. Her pain intensified tenfold once again as she made contact with the mattress.

Hermione clenched her hands into fists on the bed's duvet. Severus sat down on the edge of the bed.

"You have to tell me where the pain is coming from before I can determine what potion to retrieve from Hogwarts. But first I'd like you to tell me who did this to you. If you can't speak, mouth the words and I can read your lips."

Hermione swallowed and mouthed "Lucius Malfoy."

Severus exhaled rather forcefully. His expression softened a degree or two.

"What did he do to you?"

Hermione leaned back against the pillows and partially closed her eyes.

"He . . . cast . . . a non-verbal spell. I have excruciating chest pain."

"I'll want you to tell me everything you can remember once I've given you a suitable pain killing draught. Can you do that?"

Hermione nodded weakly. Severus rose to his feet.

"I'll return in no more than ten minutes. Please, try to remain conscious."

Hermione stared at him. Was he serious? She couldn't actually control that could she?

"I'll . . . do my best."

The last thing Hermione saw before she closed her eyes entirely was Severus Snape Apparating out of her room.

A/N: More soon I promise. I know this is no place to stop the chapter, but remember that you won't have to wait long for another one. : )