Disclaimer: I own nothing except for the Shadou cousins and any one from their original story
A/N: Just a reminder that reviews are love and my LJ has up to chapter 5!
The haunting melody filled the silence of the room. The soft humming echoed in the large empty room. The sound chilled Hermione and lured her from her unconscious state. She moaned as her consciousness began to slowly return, bringing with it a splitting headache and only flashes of memory of being in the bookstore. Slowly, she sat up, taking in the large room.
It was empty. Every move she made rattled the chains around her wrists and the sound echoed in the void of the room. One end of the room was nothing but a large clock…the time silently ticking by. Large windows ran along one side of the wall in even intervals. Light, almost sheer drapes of the deepest red hung from these windows blowing out into the room, proof the windows were open. The material seemed to float in the air creating an eerie environment to accompany the ghostly atmosphere the lullaby conjured. She felt a chill run up her spine and through her body. Why was she taken? Was everyone else okay? Was that young man, that irritating young man she tackled to safety alright? And why was she being kept in such a large room?
The haunting sounds of what could only be an old lullaby continued to drift like a phantom from the black shadows of the room. She recognized it. She remembered hearing the same reminiscent sounds just before the attack. It had gently filled her head, the sounds of a haunted past, but Snape didn't seem to hear it. It made no sense.
So was she really hearing the lullaby? Was someone in the room with her, hiding in the shadows? Had someone been hiding in the shadows of the book store watching her as well? She pulled her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around her legs. The echoing of the chain did not interrupt the lullaby. Whoever was humming the sounds of coming tragedy did not miss a beat, as if death itself was lurking in the shadows taunting her with his perfection.
"Harry, it's alright to cry," Hermione said, stroking the hair off his forehead.
His head lay in her lap and he was exhausted. All his energy had been spent keeping up the façade; showing only the anger he felt at the life hand had dealt him, but not showing the grief. Watching Dumbledore's death had been a heavy blow and Harry was not hiding his anger, but his grief was buried deep with in, only to surface when the sun set and the occupants of the house slept.
Hermione was always there though, roaming through the house with a book in hand or folded in a chair in the corner with a book. And she was always there with her arms open for him. There was nothing romantic about it. She was one of his best friends. And he would cry, face buried in her lap, releasing all that he had held in and she would fold herself over his form, arms around him the best she could and his heartbreak would bring forth her tears and together they would mourn the loss of a great man…a great leader among them…
Harry stared angrily out the window. The square beneath was empty, the sun having long set and he simply stared as if Hermione would suddenly appear if he wished hard enough, if he demanded loud enough. And as hard as he tried he simply could not blame Snape. True, Snape had been there, she had been taken right from under his nose and Harry thought he should be angry with him, but he wasn't.
How could he be angry when Snape was gone…off to a Death Eater meeting hoping to find out more information? How could he be angry when Snape was putting himself in danger to find his friend, the irritating Know-It-All? Harry turned from the window for a moment, eyes sweeping over the drawing room. Ron was the only one in the room with him, sitting at the table before his holiday work, staring at the blank parchment and open book.
Ron stood there, looking down at his own feet feeling thoroughly chagrined for that initial moment after she said his full name with such indignant disappointment. But it faded almost too quickly to do him any good and he looked up at Hermione with a smile and innocent eyes, as if he really did not see the problem.
"I forgot is all, Hermione. We can't all be as smart as you."
His words were meant to flatter. After all, Hermione seemed to prize her academic gift above all other talents she may possess. He second guessed his decision when her eyes narrowed slightly, surveying him from head to toe. She was terribly frightening when she was angry and Ron was scared to the bone that he had angered her, seriously angered her.
Her hand shot out from the fold of her elbow.
"Hand it here, Ronald." With an almost shy smile he sat the nearly blank parchment in her hand. Hermione turned toward the table and as she sat down at her plethora of books she looked up at the red head. "This is the last time," she warned him before bowing her head over his assignment...
Ron stared down at the fresh parchment. They had so many moments like that, so many moments when he meant to tell her how he felt, wanted to, but somehow his idiocy always screwed it up. Could he have really done that then? Could he have looked at her while she did his work and say "Hermione, I know I'm the most academically challenged man you know, but I like you?"
No, of course he couldn't.
What woman would want to hear that? He dropped his quill and lowered his face into his hands, rubbing the skin as if to rid himself of all those missed chances. What made him fathom the possibility of doing his holiday work when Hermione was missing? Would that bring her back? Would she walk through that door suddenly proud of him and telling him how he had to learn this little lesson and that she was never gone really?
This was Snape's fault.
He was supposed to be watching her…keeping her safe, not delivering her to the enemy and then claiming ignorance of her whereabouts. Snape was to blame.
Ron lowered his hands at the sudden cry of his mother calling for Ginny to come quickly. Ron remained unmoved, unworried as his sister ran past the drawing room door and her feet thudding rapidly down the stairs echoed in the empty corridor.
…Hermione sat on the edge of her bed, facing Ginny on the edge of her bed. Hermione's head lowered and the tears began to fall. It startled Ginny. Only moments ago they were at dinner, laughing over some stunt the twins pulled while there. There was no indication of the possibility of tears any moment.
"Hermione?" Ginny scooted closer, barely teetering on the edge of her bed and leaning closer to Hermione, trying to get her friend to look at her.
Hermione looked up at her, tears streaming down her cheeks as if she had been waiting so long to shed them, buried them until they were painful pools of shame flowing from her eyes. At first, Ginny worried her brother had done or said something stupid again. He often did, but usually Hermione got angry and if it was hurtful there was nothing more than a little sniffle to show her pain.
These were tears, streaming down her cheeks in torrents of sorrow.
"Hermione? What is it? What is wrong?" Ginny's voice was changing, becoming laced with worry and near panic.
Hermione took a deep shuddering breath and wiped tears from her cheeks despite the new tears falling. Her sad eyes looked at Ginny.
"You can't tell Harry or Ron," she whispered, afraid of being over heard through the door if she spoke too loud.
Ginny nodded her head and swore to Hermione she would tell not a soul. And she sat there silently horrified as Hermione explained how her parents had died horrifically at the start of the summer, how Death Eaters had come to her house, how Professor Snape had been the one save her and her alone. And Ginny's heart broke. How long had she been carrying this secret?
"If Harry knew," Hermione said through gasps of air. "He would blame himself. He already blames himself for so much…"
Ginny closed her eyes effectively cutting off the view of the empty bed across from her. She kept her promise. The boys knew nothing of the start of Hermione's summer prior to arriving at Grimmauld Place. She continued her façade in front of the boys and would notice the worried sideways glances of her mother.
But for several nights now, Ginny had slept in that room alone. She lay there each night staring at the empty bed. Did they take her to finish what they started? Was she even still alive or would Snape come back from the Death Eater meeting with only directions to her lifeless body?
She felt a chill at that very realistic possibility and wondered how many people would die by Voldemort's hands. How long would they all suffer before this ended? She tore herself from the bed just as she heard her mother calling for her, a worried ring to her voice. Ginny ran down the corridor and down the stairs.
Snape was back.
He was just within the door, crumpled to the ground and unconscious.
…She was a blurred vision hovering above him. He could hear her breathing so he knew he wasn't dead. His body hurt though, from head to toe as if he had been drawn and quartered only to live to tell the tale. Too often he wished to never return, but always remembered why…her face always found its way into his memory at that exact moment and he would curse under his breath.
He was still alive and someone was piddling around his room, talking to him, being very chatty as a matter of fact. She, for it was a she, was a constant stream of words from somewhere nearby. The skewed room began to refocus, turning right, becoming bright…too bright. Who opened the bloody drapes so wide? His eyes, the one thing he could move without pain, shifted to the sound of that irritating voice.
It was Miss Granger.
And she wasn't talking. She was reading. He closed his eyes. She continued reading to him. Mr. Darcy was currently in all his snarky glory with Elizabeth. Why that book? If he had to hear her grating voice reading a book at his bedside because, Merlin knew, he was unable to escape, did it have to be that book? He opened his eyes again, moving his arm so very slowly. Hermione's words stopped, watching his pained stilted movements curiously.
He was barely able to grip the very edge of the book and pulled it unceremoniously from Hermione's lap allowing it to drop to the floor with a thud. He heard the indignant click of her tongue and ignored it.
"Why must it always be that wretched book? If it's not that one then it is something just as revolting like 'Jane Eyre.' Books filled with unpleasant, pretentious characters that no ordinary person can connect with. All of you," Snape continued. "Why must you assume I like Victorian Literature?"
His eyes shifted back to the girl, expecting to see tears. That was not what he saw. What he saw was an angry young woman, sitting straight in her chair by his bed, lips puckered, cheeks drawn in and eyes narrowed. She picked the book up and plopped it on his bedside table.
"You, Professor," she said standing up and hovering above his prone body. "Are in no position to bully me today…"
His eyes opened. Someone was hovering above him, her face blurred, until she discovered his open eyes and then she scurried across the room. That wasn't Miss Granger. Miss Granger no longer feared him. He shifted, testing his body and its aches. The curses weren't as bad this last time. Voldemort had not been directly angry at him, just angry in general. That simple fact lessened the amount of damage inflicted on him. His eyes landed on the red head girl hovering near the door ready to bolt at the first scowl from him.
This was not how he was supposed to wake up from these torments. He was supposed to wake up with that insufferable girl sitting by his bed reading some mundane book she found well written without any concern to what he enjoyed hearing. He sat himself up slowly, his eyes landing on the skittish looking red head and snarled, sending her bolting from the room in record time. He threw the covers off his body, pushing any thought of pain to the back of his mind for later and pulled himself out of bed.
He pulled her from the wreckage of her house.
He saved her life once.
He did not save her life only to see it end this way.
And now, he knew where she was at.
The pale moonlight danced in across the floor, illuminating Hermione in the middle of the room. Her eyes darted around the room, trying to peer into the darkness he took cover in. He watched her every move, humming his haunting tune. With a deep inhale he could smell her…smell the blood flowing through her veins…her life. His humming stopped, pausing to allow the sudden silence to linger, his tongue moving sensually over his eye-teeth…slightly elongated, just enough to show how hungry he was if anyone was looking for it…just enough to give him something to toy with.
Hermione could feel the eyes on her, watching her. It was every night. She watched the wind push the sheer material off the windows, setting it to float like a phantom, waving ever so slightly in the wind. With a deep inhale she could smell the coming rain and she wondered why she was still alive and exactly where she was at.
For days she waited for her execution, waited for who she assumed to be Voldemort to either demand his men to get information from her or simply kill her now. She waited with her heart pounding in her chest. She waited with a sense of acceptance coupled with overpowering fear. Was she ready to die? Did she not know this could happen when she remained in the Wizarding world where Voldemort ran loose? Did she not know this could happen when she befriended The-Boy-Who-Lived?
Yes, she did.
But that did not mean she was ready to die. Yet, as each day passed and she felt those eyes watching her so intently, unable to see them for herself, but knowing, feeling them in the blackened shadows of the room, she began to almost wish for it. It was like being hunted, except she was already chained in her cage awaiting her slaughter.
She sat in the middle of the floor, the chains rattling as she settled herself. Perhaps she would get lucky again and Professor Snape would come to her rescue. Her own personal hero and he didn't even realize it. She sighed and looked out the window at the moon, the clouds shifting in front of it, revealing its creamy glow. Her only hope in that moment was that her friends were safe, that they would live through this terrible time in the Wizarding world and that they would be the victors at the end.
She didn't hear the door when it opened.
"Albus! Is that even safe? What would possess you to admit this boy before you go and die and leave this mess for me?"
The portrait of Albus Dumbledore smiled, amusement sparkling in his eyes as he let the new Headmistress, McGonagall go on her little tangent of panic and worry without interruption. Years had taught him it was best to let her get it all out usually. It was the rare occasion he would interrupt to prevent her steam from rising further. When her words finally faded into a huff of disbelief and a scowl from the Headmistress, Dumbledore smiled.
"Won't you have a lemon drop, Minerva? Top right drawer."
"No, Albus. I will not," she said in clipped tones, indignant that the old Headmaster would still offer such a thing to her as if that little lemon drop could solve all the problems. She often wondered what he did to them.
Albus shrugged and pulled a tin of lemon drops from his inside robes and popped one in his mouth, smiling as the sourness filled his mouth. McGonagall was still staring at him in clear disapproval.
"Minerva, there were concerns when Remus was a boy as well. That turned out well."
McGonagall tossed her hands in the air and stepped around her desk coming to a stop in front of Dumbledore's portrait.
"This is clearly different, Albus!"
He looked at her with a slightly raised brow.
"Albus, Remus could not help what he was and he only turned once a month. He was not even conscious of his thoughts during the change. This boy," she said pointing to a new student folder on her desk. "This boy does not change into anything once a month. He is always going to be that dark creature. It is his state of being at all times! And this professor you lined up for my old post. What were you thinking!"
"He's not like the others, Minerva. You'll see, just give it time. And the professor will not be any problem. He will report to us, in fact I believe he has been helping to keep Severus' cover for a while now. Now, any word on Miss Granger yet?"
He watched the anger deflate from McGonagall's face at the mention of her prize student.
"No," she said suddenly solemn and subdued.+
She looked down at the dress as it was tossed down to her feet. A cloaked man stood in the room in plain sight. His eyes were dark and held nothing short of hatred whether it was for Hermione or for his task, she was not sure.
"You have five minutes to get the dress on," the man said unlocking the shackles from around her wrist. "I will be back then. And don't try anything. All exits have been warded with a magic you've never even touched upon…a magic not of this world for the time span it will take you. There is no escape."
The door slammed behind the man. Hermione bent down picking up the antique white dress. The material was so soft between her fingers and so delicate, like it came from some other century and was worn by the noble. No peasant would have worn such a fine dress. Her eyes lingered to the open windows, contemplating trying to escape, but the man's warning held a promise of something a little more than just trouble if she tried. She glanced at the large clock. Her minutes were ticking by.
She moved swiftly, removing her clothes and replacing them with the dress she was given. It was a strange request and one the man didn't seem too keen to make. He was not the one watching her all this time. His eyes did not penetrate her the way her watcher's did. She didn't feel naked when he looked at her, unlike when her watcher lingered in the dark shadows. With shaking hands she pulled the dress up, fighting with the zipper in the back. It was so tight up top…fitting her in such a manner as to accentuate parts of her she normally did not.
She was embarrassed to be in that dress, even in the darkness of that room. The door burst open without even a knock startling Hermione. The irate man approached her, locking the shackles around her wrists again and pulling out a blind fold made of a material that looked to match the dress she wore. She sniffled, feeling the tears forming as he tied the soft material around her, thoroughly blocking anything from her sight. Her chin quivered in fear and upset.
The man said nothing as he left, the door slamming behind him, leaving Hermione alone. So, she would not even get the chance to look her executioner in the eyes and tell him how much she loathed his very being. She would not get to face him. She would be blindfolded, blocked from seeing death as it came for her.
He watched her from those dark shadows. She turned in circles, feeling his penetrating gaze, as if she would find him and see him. The thunder rolled over the sky outside, the wind pushing those sheer red drapes out, floating around Hermione like some phantom trying to reach out and caress her. The moon shifted behind the clouds, allowing a sliver of its light to pass through, illuminating the smooth pale skin of her bare shoulder.
His tongue moved slowly over his lips.
She was blinded, unable to see him, but oh how she could feel him. His eyes burned her skin, setting her on fire; her heart pounded heavily in her chest and she knew he was near…so near. The heat radiated off his body like waves of desire crashing around her.
He slowly circled her, looking her over from head to toe, appreciating every curve the dress accentuated and loving every part the skirt hid…like a prize to be unwrapped. He watched the way her chest heaved in anxiety and in reaction to his very presence near her. Her bottom lip trembled and a soft low cry came from her lips.
He stopped behind her, reaching his hands out to rest upon her arm, whispering a soft hushing sound to sooth her. He could feel her body shaking, almost as much as his was…though for different reasons. Hers was fear and he had no doubt there was a modicum of dark inhibited desire stirring deep down…he could feel it in the air around her. His was pure desire couple with his forced calm…control was what he needed…control of himself.
But the feel of just her arm beneath his finger tips, resting on his palm was almost too much, almost enough to send him into moans of whimpering desire. But he was the one in control. He had to be.
His hands moved slowly up to her shoulder. He stepped forward, so close behind her that his head was pressed against hers, one arm dropping to wrap around her waist and keep her close, very close to him; close enough that she could feel his every breath and feel it tickling the skin of her neck. The hand on her shoulder moved up her neck, pushing her head down, tilting it to the side, exposing the pure untainted skin. She gasped for air unaware of how that very act only enticed him, sending so many overpowering waves of desire and hunger through him that his body trembled against hers.
His lips touching her neck sent an odd chill through her. His lips were soft and warm and they caressed her skin almost kissing all the fear away. And then she felt it; the sliding of teeth against her neck, scraping against her skin as if in warning that he could be so rough if unable to control himself.
She barely heard the rain burst from the clouds through the sound of her rushing blood pounding in her ears and the low moan of the man behind her. And then she felt it. His teeth sinking deep into her skin, his arms tightening around her, holding her so much closer, smashing her back against him, his heart beating against her back and the almost orgasmic moan of the man who she realized was not a Death Eater.
He was a vampire.