All Manners of Necessity
AN: This will be a story branching off the one shot (which I posted in response to a contest). I've kept in the first bit from the one shot, and built on it to make an entire scene. I do plan to write more and have hopes that this will be a story between 10 and 20 chapters.
To all antiquity readers who will probably receive alerts for this: I am not neglecting AC. I will continue that story, and the next chapter is due out within several days.
Disclaimer: Quite obviously do not own these characters. I just like to manipulate them for my own means.
Warnings: Language, future sexual references/possible conduct, violence, Post-HPB.
A door locked is an inviting mystery begging to be solved. Still more tempting may be the door open where there is an underlying, yet understood, warning which forbids entry.
While most people would simply walk through such a door, Hermione Granger stood outside this one, eyes narrowing as she turned these thoughts over in her head.
Hermione had not been sent by the Order to search for clues, nor had she been given any hope that Snape's office would unseal itself- the man was a powerful wizard, and no one short of the deceased Albus Dumbledore himself could be expected to break through wards such as these. The door was not supposed to open until Snape returned to Hogwarts… yet… here Hermione stood, staring into the dark, seemingly abandoned room with no small amount of intrigue.
Hermione turned her head just slightly to address Peeves, who was hovering over her shoulder. "How did you open this?" Her voice was shaky and unsure, a manifestation of the anxious feelings dwelling within her. On rare occasion had she allowed herself to dream up an opportunity such as this, even for mere speculation.
Continuing to smirk, Peeves flipped upside down and eyed Hermione mockingly, cackling, "Silly little witch."
Irritated, Hermione said in a harsh whisper, "What's that supposed to mean?"
Hermione never received her answer; Peeves abruptly flipped right side up and made a rude gesture at Hermione, disappearing quickly down the hallway.
Confused, and rather annoyed, Hermione turned to face the door once more.
It didn't make any sense. Poltergeist or not, no one should have been able to get the door open. Hermione knew, somewhere within her, that this opportunity was too good to be true. Still… opportunity was opportunity.
Taking a deep breath and steeling her nerves, Hermione crossed the threshold between the corridor and Snape's office. Once inside, she stopped in her tracks, staring around for a moment and taking in the feeling of a fantasy realized.
The pace of Hermione's heart quickened as she took several quick steps to Snape's desk, adrenaline now dictating her actions.
Rummaging through the pile of papers on the desk, it did not take long to come across something of significance. Enveloped and sealed, Hermione found what she could only guess was an unsent letter. It was addressed to no one, and in a quick moment, Hermione decided her only option was to rip it open.
Trembling, Hermione unfolded the letter and peered at the cramped, slanted writing.
Potter, the first line read.
Hermione did not read past the first line. No, something else caught her attention. Eyes widening, she moved her thumb to run across the first word on the page.
The ink smudged.
All at once, Hermione was acutely aware of two factors. One, she had just discovered something invaluable. Two, she was not alone in this castle.
From the dark corridor, where a menacing figure hovered in the doorway, two words nearly stopped Hermione's heart cold.
In several rapid movements, Hermione instantly dropped the letter and reached for her wand, only to have it fly from her hand a moment later. Her eyes flew to Snape almost in question, and he smirked, stepping forward and retrieving the wand that had landed only several metres away from his feet.
"It would have been beneficial for you and your little friends to have paid more attention during my lessons," Snape said quietly, running two slender fingers up her wand and then tucking it neatly inside his sleeve. Buttoned up and repressed as ever, he still wore the robes he'd always taught in at Hogwarts, creating a daunting picture for Hermione.
"I paid attention," Hermione responded, lifting her chin bravely. Perhaps if she just continued on this line of thought, she could figure out what to do… and how to do it.
"The poltergeist's ascertainment was not entirely incorrect," Snape sneered in a familiar way. "You are a silly girl."
Snape continued to walk forward, enjoying watching this girl, who was normally so self-possessed, shake and tremble as she tried with noble efforts to hide her fear and project an image of cool dignity. He came to stand within inches of her, staring down with his dark eyes into hers of amber, and watching her irises shift ever so slightly from left to right, assessing the situation. His lips curled upward ever so menacingly, and he came even closer, leaning towards her so that she had to lean back against the desk to avoid contact. He placed one hand on the surface behind her, boxing her in.
"Sir, please-" Hermione whispered, reading the look on his face as one of intense sadism and almost as one of desire. She didn't finish her statement; she didn't need to. Snape shook his head almost imperceptibly, and with the hand not resting on the wood, reached behind her and retrieved the letter which had fluttered from her hands only moments before.
"I believe this belongs to me," he intoned quietly, a grin of satisfaction on his face. She nodded and swallowed her relief as he straightened and stepped away from her.
Hermione allowed herself to inhale as Snape turned away from her, carefully folding the letter and tucking it into his pocket. She wondered for a moment if she could make a run for the door—but the chances were unlikely. Snape would catch her, and she didn't want to know what he would do to her then. She had no wand, no way to defend herself against him. As little as she cared to admit it, she was trapped… helpless. Still, she had one advantage. She was hardly inferior in the area of intelligence. In that arena, she felt sure she could contest with Severus Snape.
"I could deliver that to Harry for you, you know," Hermione offered a moment later, feeling it was best to speak while she had the chance. "It would be the easiest way- the Ministry would never have a way to track your whereabouts."
"And who said I intended the letter to be delivered now?" Snape inquired, turning and eyeing Hermione almost mockingly. "You overestimate your value to me, Miss Granger. I am still deciding whether there is an advantage to be had by keeping you, or if I should just dispose of you now."
Though not visibly, Hermione recoiled at this statement. Surely he couldn't mean… he was going to kill her if he did not find some use for her? She knew Snape had never been particularly fond of her during her school years there, but he had never appeared to hate her the way he had Harry, and he'd still refrained from harming him, even when the perfect opportunity presented itself.
"You can't mean-" said Hermione faintly, leaning against the desk for support.
Snape arched an eyebrow, and said, "I can't?"
"No," Hermione answered, shaking her head. "I don't believe you would just kill me- there's no reason. I'm of no threat to you!"
Narrowing his eyes, Snape stared at Hermione for a long minute. "I killed Albus Dumbledore."
She swallowed. "I know."
"So what makes you so sure I won't do the same to you?"
Hermione drew a breath, and knowing she had no choice other than to answer, responded, "I just believe you won't. I can't understand why you would be so ruthless."
"I'm a Death Eater."
"So was Regulas Black," Hermione responded. At Snape's flicker of surprise, she added, "Yes, I know of him. And Malfoy- he was supposed to be… a man isn't defined by one life changing choice; he's defined by what he does subsequently."
"So you believe in my nobility then, do you, Miss Granger?"
"Then what do you believe in?"
Snape's dark gaze lingered on Hermione for a moment, and then he took several long strides across the room and closed the door. He pulled from the corner a chair and in one swift motion, he elegantly seated himself in it. "My humanity," he repeated, pronouncing the words with an ambiguous caress in his tone.
Hermione nodded, but did not verbally respond. She had hoped to reach the softer side of his consciousness. To make contact with the natural goodness she knew was resting somewhere in the depths of his soul was to find her chance at salvation. Only by reminding him that he had a chance at redemption could she appeal to his merciful qualities.
What Hermione did not realize was that in this moment, she was giving Snape exactly what he had been looking for: a reason to keep her. She had proven to him now that she believed in his chance for redemption, and he could think of no one better to perform the functions he required. The only question to be answered was this: would she obey him?
"Sit, Miss Granger," Snape commanded quietly, measuring her expression and gestures with acute scrutiny as she considered her compliance or objection.
Apparently realizing it was in her best interest to comply, Hermione pulled the chair beneath her and sat, watching Snape carefully for some measure of a reaction. She was surprised when his lips curled again into that familiar smirk.
It was a small measure of obedience, but that was all he needed.
"Well, congratulations, Miss Granger," Snape said, standing once again.
"For what?" asked Hermione, furrowing her eyebrows. She did not like his tone of voice. It was far too full of satisfaction.
"You've just proven to me your worth."
"You're coming with me, Miss Granger," Snape clarified, stepping over to open the door. "Now, are you going to comply easily and follow me, or shall I have to drag you along myself?"
"This is not up for negotiation, Miss Granger, and I am a man with a very limited time schedule. You'll need to make your decision quickly."
Hermione's front teeth went to her lip and she placed her hands on the desk to conceal the fact that they had begun quaking. She looked away from him, unable to bear his piercing gaze, and swallowed hard.
"Fine," Snape said after a moment, unable to tolerate her hesitation. "We'll do this the hard way—"
"No, please!" Hermione exclaimed, jumping back from his touch and knocking her head against the wall. Her vision doubled and her breathing hitched, and her hand went to the back of her head.
"And they call you intelligent," Snape sneered, reaching for her again.
"Please," Hermione reiterated, voice hoarse due to the dizzying throbbing in the back of her head. "You can't—you can't expect me to just go with you like this!"
"I expect you to come with me—how you do so does not matter to me."
"Why? What do you stand to gain?"
"Answers on a need to know basis only, remember?" Snape stepped closer, and then halted again, eyes calculating thoughtfully. "Though, your compliance would give me more incentive to give you the answers you seek once we've established that you won't be going anywhere."
Hermione opened her mouth to swiftly correct his line of thought; it upset her that he seemed to believe she could be so easily manipulated. Luckily, however, Hermione had never been one to talk before considering carefully what she was about to say, and in the split second it took her to formulate some sort of response, she realized that to openly defy him could be the trigger that sealed her fate. As little as she cared to admit it, he was in control… and she would have to act accordingly.
"Fine, then answer me this." Hermione's eyes watered, but she wiped fiercely at them before tears that had nothing to do with the physical pain she was experiencing could roll down the side of her face. Her voice was choked and her speech shaky and inconsistent, but she held her head high and said as stoically as manageable, "What happens when you're finished with me?"
"Clarify, Miss Granger."
"What do I get for my cooperation? Do I ever get to go back? Do I… do I ever get to see the people I care about again?"
Snape gazed at her from under hooded eyes for a moment, and then nonchalantly tipped his head to the side. "I haven't considered it."
For a brief moment, a shattered look crossed Hermione's face. She averted her gaze from Snape's face and shook her head disbelievingly; she was unsure how she could possibly cooperate if she knew nothing would ever be the same, yet aware of the fact that cooperation might be easier than resistance.
Snape took in her reaction with intense satisfaction, able but indisposed to wipe the creeping smirk from his face.
Steeling her nerves, Hermione redirected her gaze to Snape's face. What she saw there transformed her melancholy indecision to infuriation; her hands curled into fists at her sides, her eyes narrowed, and her brows drew in to frame her expression of extreme aggravation. He was playing with her; she knew it.
"Do you honestly think I don't know that you've already worked out every detail of this kidnapping in your mind?"
"Oh no, Miss Granger, I happened upon you by chance. This is merely convenience."
"As little as I wish to lend you credit for anything, I'm positive that you had a plan the moment you saw me."
A part of Snape couldn't help but appreciate this. He had developed a plan almost the moment he saw her, though it had required revision along the way. Still, he couldn't allow her to know that she was right. Instead, he did what he knew would only serve to anger her further. He ignored the statement. "Have you made your decision yet?"
"You haven't given me much of a choice, have you?"
"If I had, what kind of kidnapper would I be?" Snape responded, finding this more amusing than did Hermione, who scowled disgustedly at him.
"Fine," Hermione bit out in bitter resignation. She gestured sarcastically towards the door, and said, "Lead the way."
"I'm glad you can see reason when it is clearly presented to you, Miss Granger," Snape said, turning and stepping towards the door. He had every intention of checking the hallway for company before leading her from the castle.
This was Hermione's only chance at escaping, and she knew it. Perhaps more out of infuriation than strategy, she cast her eyes around for a potential weapon and, spotting a half-empty jar of ink, promptly grabbed it off of the desk and threw it with full strength towards the back of Snape's head.
Her accuracy was surprisingly precise.
Unluckily for Snape, he heard the commotion that she was making and turned just as the jar came to make contact with the area just above his temple. The combination of pure shock and late reflex resulted in his falling, sprawled unceremoniously on the floor, growling at the girl's audacity and thanking Merlin that she was not particularly athletic.
Hermione, watching with a sense of victory as Snape fell to the ground, darted out from behind the desk and ran as fast as she could towards the door. She took a flying leap over his body, and shrieked as she felt a hand grip her ankle. Her leap fell short, and she met an unhappy landing as her stomach dropped out from her and her face hit the hard stone floor with a loud smack.
"You bloody stupid bitch!" Snape snarled, his composure more unrestrained than it had been throughout their entire encounter. He scrambled ungracefully to his feet, maintaining a hold on Hermione's ankle as she groaned loudly and tried to roll over. She attempted to shake her ankle from his grip, but he angrily twisted it until he heard a sickening crack, and spat, "Don't you dare try anything now! You've tested my patience far past its limit."
He stepped over her and stared down into her face, contemplating hexing her, or more satisfying, striking her. His nostrils flared and she turned her head to look up at him, her eyes fearful but resigned. She knew she had no chance now.
He shook his head slowly, knowing he still needed to get her out of this castle. The Order would be realizing soon that she had been delayed, and the last thing he needed was to be caught in the act of torturing her for her incredibly stupid act. He'd already broken her ankle—surely that was enough to subdue her from making any more reckless decisions. She wouldn't get far like that. "You could have had it easy, Granger," he informed her, reaching down and grabbing her by the waist.
"What are you doing?" She protested with her pained voice, trying to squirm away from him without upsetting her rapidly swelling ankle.
"Exactly what I told you I would," Snape informed her, the calm returning to his voice and his face turning neutral again. "Dragging you out of here."
He promptly lifted her up off of the ground and flung her over her shoulder, extremely pleased when she let out a terrified squeak and clung to the back of his robes. Apparently, she did not like heights.
"Ah, that's good," Snape replied, looping his arm around the backs of her knees and gripping his wand with his free hand. He stepped out into the hallway and whispered an indecipherable string of Latin. Hermione's eyes widened when the hallway illuminated blue, streams of light appearing and dissolving again into the square stones.
"You see that, Granger?" Snape said quietly, turning and starting down the corridor. "That is your proof that no one is coming to rescue you."
Hermione had lost hope of that a long time ago—she wasn't expected to arrive at a certain time, or even to check in with anyone once she had finished. No one would miss her until the next morning, when the Order meeting was called to session and her seat at the table in 12 Grimmauld Place was vacant.
Hermione tried to keep her complaints to herself as they took the jaunty trip up the stairs, unwilling to let him know how displeased she was with his method of transporting her. Still, she could not remain completely silent. The pain in her ankle was growing fiercer by the minute, and she could feel several bumps beginning to protrude from her battered head and face. This, being carried over her ex-Professor's shoulder like a badly behaved child, was just adding insult to injury.
"Wouldn't it just be easier to levitate me?" Hermione muttered, hating everything about her current position.
"Instead of letting you suffer the indignity of this position?"
"You're a horrible man."
"I've heard worse."
"I can do worse."
"Try, and watch what the result is."
Because she did not wish to give Snape any more incentive to harm her, Hermione stayed quiet after that. Her temper, however, did not abate by any means. She fumed silently; she would hold her tongue and act as necessary, but she'd be damned if she forgave and forgot.
She was rather surprised when she was rewarded at the gates by being set on her feet, close enough to the black iron bars that she could hold on to them for support. Though his expression was mild as he glanced at her directly before checking the grounds outside the gates for any unexpected visitors, she did not hold any false hope that Snape would correct the damage he'd done to her ankle. It was throbbing wildly now, and she was beginning to wonder if this was something that would correct itself without attention. She would have to convince him that she could be of no use while crippled, but she saved that debate for another day. His expression was neutral—not gracious. She wouldn't push that particular limit on his patience.
"Are you ready, Miss Granger?" Snape asked a moment later, opening the gate and stepping out of it. With a mocking expression, he extended a hand to help Hermione, but she stubbornly resisted the support. She glared at him and lifted her ankle, hobbling feebly out of the protection of the Hogwarts grounds.
"If I said no, would it change your plans?" she asked sardonically, refusing to look at him.
Snape looked at her for a moment, then allowed one corner of his mouth to quirk upward as he inclined his head. "Point well received," he said easily, extending an arm to Hermione. "You'll need to hold on- we're apparating to our destination."
"I had guessed as much," Hermione muttered scathingly, grasping his forearm with an expression of disgust.
"It would serve you well to adjust your attitude, Miss Granger. Your compliance matters little when you are so disagreeable in way of manners."
"Oh, so it's perfectly fine for you to be rude, but not me?"
"That is correct. A fraction of a point to Gryffindor for your astute observation," Snape said smoothly. "And do you know why that is?"
Hermione glared at him.
"Because I am in control. Do not forget that."
Oh, she certainly hadn't, Hermione thought as she moved closer with difficulty. She was too keenly aware of all the miserable things that she, consequently, couldn't do to Snape to forget such a thing. Fighting to repress what would have been a monumental shudder, Hermione placed a hand tentatively on Snape's arm, avoiding his eyes as she did so.
"I'd never guess you were so shy, Miss Granger," said Snape silkily, using his other hand to hook her arm around his own. "Wouldn't want you to get left behind, now would we?"
Regrettably, thought Hermione, such an idea had not crossed her mind. All hopes of escape had departed when he'd caught her the first time; his resulting wrath was enough to deter her from any more wild attempts. Even if she were left behind, what would she do? She was injured and he had her wand.
Snape watched her for a moment, caring little for any response she could give; her expression of defeat was what he cared to observe. He hoped he had made his point by now—though due to her Gryffindor nature, he doubted it would stay this way for long—and that he would not need to keep constant watch over her after she had come to realise her chances were very slim without compliance.
xxx End Chapter xxx
AN: Reviews are always appreciated, lovely readers.