SS

Severus Snape lies soaking in his steaming bathtub contemplating the events of the day. He is tired, oh gods is he tired. Two hours ago he witnessed the murder of the wizarding world's only hope; Potter had failed. But even worse than that, Severus had failed. He always disappointed everyone; His father, his mother, Dumbledore, but worst of all Severus disappointed Lily. He sat by and watched as her sacrifice was thrown away with one flick of the Dark Lord's wand.

Lily, forgive me… He begs silently, head resting on the back of the tub.

Severus glances at his wand laying on a stand next to him, his fingers itch for it. Just one little swish and a whispered thought is all it would take. Then he could just sit back and let the warm bath water draw his life from him, it probably wouldn't even hurt. What is a scrape on the wrist compared to the torture he'd endured most of his life? It would probably even feel good knowing relief was coming.

"Help me! Please somebody help!" Screams a female voice from the next room followed by a loud clanging.

Sighing deeply, and sounding as weary as a man twice his age Severus stands up from his bath. He takes his time drying himself rather than casting a simple drying charm. The tedium soothes him, well, at least it used to. He doubts he will ever feel soothed again.

More screaming and clanking sound from outside the bathroom.

Ever so slowly he dons his voluminous robes, long fingers gliding gracefully over the many buttons. Heaving another deep sigh Severus billows out of the bathroom as haughtily as he can manage.

As soon as he enters the adjoining bedchamber the screaming and clanking stops; there chained to his old bed lay the insufferable know it all, Hermione Granger, glaring at him fiercely.

"Let… me… go," she grounds out through clenched teeth, voice hoarse from yelling.

"And where, my little Muggle-born, would you expect to go?" He asks her, sneering. "To find your pal Weasley?"

Hermione's face drains of color and Severus gives a light, heartless chuckle.

"I'll be back momentarily, do stop trying to break your arms with all of your flailing about."

Severus quickly exits his old dungeon room and makes his way towards Dumbledore's, no his, office.

"Canary Creams," Severus whispers to the gargoyle guarding the stairs.

As he climbs the spiral staircase Severus carefully removes himself from the situation; hiding his emotions and smoothing his face he acts as if he is an outsider.

'Stop that crying boy, it shows that you are weak. No matter what anyone does to you don't you ever let them know that their actions have affected you.' Tobias Snape's words ring in his ears.

Upon entering his office Severus flicks his wand at the portraits of the previous headmasters and headmistresses. Immediately black, soundproof drapes cover all but one.

"Albus, Potter is dead." He says smoothly, voice dark. "I have… failed." Despite all of his effort Severus's voice catches on the last word; he bows his head in defeat.

"How did this happen?" Albus asks quietly.

"The Dark Lord finally found out Grindelwald stole the Elder Wand from Gregorovitch, and from Grindelwald he discovered you were the last master of the wand. He learned this about the same time Potter figured it out; they both made a dash for the wand but the Dark Lord beat him to it by mere minutes." Severus pauses, not wanting to continue as if not saying it would make it less real.

"Severus?" Albus asks gently.

"Potter appeared at your tomb with Weasley and Granger and it was over before he could blink. The Dark Lord struck him down and then restrained the other two. Weasley was offered a chance to renounce his blood traitor relatives and join the Dark Lord…" Severus whispers hoarsely.

"And when he refused Voldemort killed him," Albus finishes.

"No, Albus. He didn't refuse." Severus lets his words hang in the air, allowing Albus to absorb them.

"I see…" whispers the former headmaster, "and what of Miss Granger? I doubt she was given that option."

"The Dark Lord intended to kill her on the spot; I almost blew my cover Albus. I cried out for him to stop just as he raised his wand. He looked furious at my interruption, and demanded I explain myself. I told him that… that I found the girl… appealing. I reminded the Dark Lord of all of my devoted services to him; and he said that he supposed he could allow me to keep her because… because the last Muggle-born I requisitioned was broken before I could enjoy her." Severus spits; he collapses to the floor in a heap of black material.

"Severus," Albus calls down from his place on the wall. "You did the right thing. Now you must pull yourself together. Where is she now?"

"She is in my old room in the dungeon." Severus says dejectedly.

"Severus Snape," Albus pronounces commandingly, "you are not this person I see before me. Get up, clear yourself of emotion and play your part. You need to go speak with Miss Granger; find out Harry's actions during his last days. Do not reveal your loyalties to her, you do not know if Voldemort will change his mind and decide that he really should destroy her as a message to other friends of Harry's."

Severus pulls himself up from the floor, takes a couple of deep breaths and puts on a mask of indifference.

"Good, now go," Albus orders.

Flicking his wand on the way out, all of the drapes disappear and the portraits come alive with insults aimed at the current Headmaster of Hogwarts. He ignores them and descends the stairs momentarily wondering if he'll end up as mad as Kreacher; taking orders from a portrait.

HG

Hermione strains against the cuffs that chain her to the bed, her wrists are raw from the effort, her voice hoarse. Her arms are stretched above her head and each secured to a bedpost, the angle is causing her shoulders to cramp. She wonders how far her wrists are from bleeding and briefly considers helping them along, maybe her slick blood will help her slip her hands free. She immediately dismisses that idea; the amount of blood that would require could leave her dizzy and weak, and she has no wand to heal herself with.

Finally giving up, Hermione lets her arms rest on the bed and surrenders to tears.

Oh Harry! She thinks, I'm so sorry… I should have tried harder to convince you, Horcruxes not Hallows. Now look where we are. You gone, Ron a traitor, and me… held captive by Professor Snape.

Hermione shudders trying to imagine what her future will hold. Her mind runs wild with possibilities… torture, poisons, but even worse there is the possibility of rape. Professor Snape had told Voldemort that he found her 'appealing.'

Her frightening thoughts are interrupted by the soft sound of footsteps and the turn of a key in her door's lock.

It's him.

He strides towards her purposefully, wand at the ready.

Perhaps it will be a quick death after all, Hermione thinks hopefully.

But with one swish she finds herself naked except for her undergarments. Panicking, Hermione tries to block out her surroundings by screwing her eyes shut and reciting a well read book in her head.

Hogwarts, a History by Bathilda Bagshot…

"Open your eyes girl; I need to ask you some questions!" Snape barks.

Hermione peeks one eye open and sees that Snape is sitting on a stool a few feet from the bed. She crosses her legs, but still feels overly exposed in front of this imposing man. She wishes she were wearing boxers rather than boy shorts, a sports bra rather than the red translucent one.

Or better yet, long johns, maybe a parka…

"Here are the rules: I'll ask a question, you answer. If you refuse I will punish you, either by the Cruciatus or other more… entertaining means." Snape assures her icily.

Hermione trembles, not wanting to think about what Snape finds entertaining.

"Do you understand?" He asks, eyes boring into hers.

She nods.

"Good. First question: where have you been hiding?" Snape asks.

Hermione tells him, in a dead voice, about living in the tent in the Forest of Dean, and then moving constantly to remote locations in other woods up until their capture by the Snatchers.

"If you were captured, how did you come to be here?" He asks, perplexed.

Their escape from Malfoy Manor is unknown and Hermione can tell Snape is pleased by her tale, no doubt thinking of a way to use the Malfoy's disgrace to his advantage.

"Then what?" Snape presses.

"As soon as we escaped Harry dragged us here to get the Elder Wand." Hermione whispers, tears rolling down her face.

Snape stands up and Hermione thinks he is leaving, having got enough information out of her for the time being.

She is wrong.

He strides over to the bed and climbs on, placing one knee on either side of her hips. Hermione panics and starts trying to buck him off. She looks up into his eyes and for a moment her resolve falters; the black depths transfix her.

Images started flashing through her mind.

Harry crumpled on the ground, dead at Voldemort's feet… Dobby Dead, knife still in his chest… Bellatrix approaching, dagger in one hand and wand in the other… Ron's return and the story of how the locket was destroyed

The locket!

Hermione focuses her mind as hard as she can and pushes Snape out of it. He struggles to get back in but she's ready for him this time and forms a brick wall around her memories. She leaves one thought visible for him; Get out!

Snape retreats.

He is still perched on top of her and both are panting and sweating from the exertion used to battle wills. Hermione stares up at him, expression terrified. Snape reaches down and tears her bra straps, but leaves the cups covering her breasts.

He pounces, launching his face at hers.

Hermione is so caught off guard by the softness of his lips she doesn't immediately fight back. Her eyes drift closed and a gentle tingling crawls down her spine as a thought creeps into her head, Severus Snape is a pretty good kisser.

Snape!

As the realization dawns on her Hermione opens her eyes wide and bites down, hard, on Snape's lip.

SS

That little wench bit me!

Severus is astounded and a little amused as he makes his way back to his office. The Dark Lord will want updates on what is being done with the dirty veined witch so Severus takes advantage of the after effects of a battle of the minds and makes it look as if he were attacking her. Hoping it will be enough to hold the Dark Lord off for a while Severus makes use of the Pensieve upon entering the office. He cuts apart the memory and forms it together flawlessly. Severus bottles the memory and uses a brown barn owl perched by his window to send it off to the Dark Lord.

This is what the Dark Lord will see:

Severus unlocking the door to Hermione's prison, then he strides across the room quick and purposefully removing her clothing with one charm. He immediately launches himself onto the bed and perches over top of her. Hermione flails about trying to throw him off and, in attempting this, works up a sweat and starts panting for air. Severus rips her bra and leans down to force his kiss upon her followed by her biting him. He sits back up, furious, holding his bleeding lip and tells her, "You'll pay for this."

The memory fades at that point.

Severus feels confident in this memory; it will satisfy the Dark Lord and did not cause harm to the girl.

Not that he cares if it did harm her, but in the future it would be beneficial that Granger not completely loathe him.

With that taken care of Severus once again obstructs the view of all portraits but Albus Dumbledore.

"Albus, tell me about the locket." Severus commands.

XX

Severus paces back and forth through the debris that once made up his study, slinging obscenitiesunder his breath.

How could Albus not tell me about the Horcruxes? He spent years trying to convince everyone I could be trusted and the old codger didn't even have the decency to lead by example!

Dumbledore had finally told Severus everything he knew about Voldemort; he had also explained how Harry had spent the better part of the last year in search of the remaining Horcruxes.

Looking around at the destruction he had caused, Severus sighs and throws himself into his favorite armchair, a comfy wingback upholstered in rich green fabric right next to his crackling fireplace. Using his wand he conjures up a large snifter of Ogden's Old Firewhiskey and starts musing over the newly discovered information.

Seven Horcruxes: 1) The diary; destroyed. 2) The ring; destroyed. 3) The locket; destroyed. 4) The boy; destroyed. 5) The cup; missing. 6) The snake; untouchable. 7) Something of Ravenclaw's; unknown.

Severus downs the rest of his Firewhiskey and quickly starts on another.

Granger has known about the Horcruxes far longer than me, perhaps she'll have some insight to share.

He laughs darkly to himself.

Of course the insufferable know-it-all would have some insight. Getting her to share it with me will be the real issue. Dumbledore told me not to reveal my loyalties to the girl, but he so obviously loves keeping people in the dark that he may be biased.

While working on his third brandy, Severus decides that he will not tell the chit everything about him, but just enough for her to believe that maybe he could be trusted after all. Finishing his drink Severus throws his glass into the flames and billows out of the room heading for the dungeons.

HG

Hermione longs for sleep to carry her away from her current situation, but unfortunately her body is too uncomfortable for that wish to be granted. Her arms, once numb, are now pricklingpainfully, her shoulder blades feel far too stretched and considering she is still in nothing but her underwear and torn bra she is absolutely freezing.

She lies there wondering how long it will take before the pain spreads from her immobilearms to the rest of her body; and, if it does spread will it intensify to the point that the Cruciatus curse would be preferable in comparison?

You shouldn't have bit him; he'll leave you here to freeze to death for sure. She tells herself.

Well he shouldn't have kissed me! She responds desperately.

When he comes back you should apologize; you should play nice. Maybe if he thinks that you can be trusted not to fight back he'll relax around you and you might find a chance to escape.

Hermione's eyes swell once more with tears.

Even if I do escape, Professor Snape was right... where would I go? Ron cannot be trusted; I don't know how to contact the other Order members... if there even is an Order anymore. With Harry gone, hope is gone. The Horcruxes will never be destroyed and Voldemort will reign over the wizarding world forever.

Hermione gasps.

No! That cannot happen! When I escape, because she is determined to escape, when I escape I will find a way to destroy the remaining Horcruxes! She vows silently.

Hermione promises herself that she will behave and be nice to Snape in hopes of giving him a false sense of security.

Just as she resigns herself to being good she hears her prison door unlock once more.

Stumbling inside in a manner not quite befitting of his usual grace Professor Snape crosses the room with a sideways gait and perches on the very edge of her bed.

"Are you cold?" He asks, a slight slur to his drawl.

"Yes Professor, I am." Hermione hesitates briefly before hurrying on in a desperate whisper, not trusting her voice to speak any louder. "I would like to apologize for my behavior earlier, you caught me off guard and I overreacted. Do forgive me?"

Snape arches a quizzical eyebrow at her. He sits there silently, stiff except for a slight sway of his shoulders he can't seem to control, and looks her up and down. Then, sighing heavily he removes his outer robe and covers her with it.

"Given your troublesome day I suppose I could understand your rash action." He tells her, giving her as close to forgiveness as possible for Severus Snape.

"Thank you," Hermione says, referring both to the warmth from the cloak and to his understanding.

Snape hunches over and buries his face in his hands looking thoroughly defeated. Hermione eyes him curiously.

He looks so... vulnerable.

His shoulders seem about to collapse under whatever weight he is currently burdened with. His hair, more shiny than greasy she notes, hangs in thick black curtains hiding his face from view.

Why should Voldemort's right hand man, the killer of Albus Dumbledore, look so dejected when just hours ago Voldemort finally triumphed over 'The Boy Who Lived'?

It doesn't make sense.

"Are you... alright Sir?" She asks, and to her own surprise she finds she is actually curious.

Snape lifts his head and studies her face with glassy eyes.

"You are so good, so pure, you are almost too selfless to be on any side but your own. The bad guys and even the good guys can't compare to someone so... naive," he finishes with a sneer. "Do you honestly think that by pretending to show me compassion your odds will improve?"

"I wasn't trying to play you! I was just curious as to why you are depressed when you have finally won?" She huffs indignantly.

"I have won nothing... I never win." Snape says quietly.

Then without another word he passes out cold, falling onto the bed and across Hermione. His head rests on her breasts and she can smell the alcohol on him.

"Professor? Sir?" She says, attempting to rouse him to no avail.

It's going to be a long night.

Hermione's breath quickens… She starts panicking… There is just so much of him, his weight pushing into her makes her feel trapped.

Attempting to calm herself down she tries to make a list of things that are not entirely horrible about this situation.

I'm no longer freezing.

Snape's body heat, in addition to the cloak he draped over her, is quickly warming Hermione up.

If he's sleeping he's not hurting me.

I'm likely to manage sleep; the smell of alcohol on his breath should be enough to cause me to pass out as well.

A piece of Snape's dark hair shifts and tickles Hermione's cheek. She tries, carefully, to wiggle up higher on the bed, her body grinding against his in the attempt.

"Mmm, Lily." Snape laughs sleepily.

Lily?