A/N:

Update 11/09/12:

My how this site has changed since I have been away! I thank you for taking the time to read this story, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I am however now jealous of all the stories I see with cover art! Any artists out there interested? Love you all!

Update 02/28/12:

I want to take the time to thank everyone who is giving this story a chance and ask that if you cannot handle the violence of this chapter you skip ahead because I promise this isn't a brutal violent story, it simply starts in a dark place but there is so much hope and laughter and love throughout what will be a very long story. (it is currently written through 180,000 + words and truly in the beginning of the story still)

This story is something that seemed to burrow itself into my brain and refused to leave me alone until I wrote it down and it has snowballed into the beginnings of an epic love story that has several offshoots. The story begins with a somber Hermione whose life is not going according to plan after her marriage to school sweetheart Ron. Ron isn't the man he was before the war and after a brutal attack on Hermione he is on the run leaving others to help her pick up the broken pieces of her life and find herself and love and happiness.

I would like to stress that this story is not meant to bash Ron. I don't hate him, I don't think he is right for Hermione, but I don't hate him. He is in this story a portrayal of a man who has been through war, lost more than many, including perhaps a bit of his mind. It is not uncommon for people returning from war to come back different. This is the case with Ron. He is not the big bad evil in this story, not that he is entirely forgivable either, but I hope you will stick around long enough to find all of that out.

There are two main pairings in the story, the first is obviously Hermione and Severus and takes off from the start the second is a George slash pairing that while important to the story is not going to become graphic.

There are heavy themes including rape, the loss of a child, drug abuse and violence though it is above all else a story of recovery and real love.

I do hope you enjoy.

I am currently without a beta, though there are chapters throughout that have been lucky enough to have been read by wonderful betas at one time. I am however still searching for a beta who would be willing to help me work to overhaul the story bit by bit and give it the attention I believe it deserves. I strive to give you the best. I hope to at least come close.

~ fresh. new. lily ~

She had lived through a war where those like her had been targeted for extermination and she fought on the front lines. She had been hunted, and she had killed. She had been tortured to within an inch of her life by a mad woman and had been molested by a werewolf. Somehow she had survived, she had picked up and moved on with her life slowly and rebuilt. She did just as everyone had expected of her and she married her school sweetheart. She was supposed to be happy, she was supposed to be starting a family, buying a little cottage and enjoying her life. Instead Hermione Weasley was dying at the foot of the stairs that led up to her flat.

There was so much blood, her whole body was sticky with it and she could taste the sweet coppery liquid in her mouth as she gasped for breath. Her broken arms lay useless at odd angles by her side, and one of her knees was dislocated though even if her injuries would have allowed for it she doubted she would have had the strength in her left get to help. Her head was spinning and her vision blurred both from the force of the blows she had taken and the blood seeping from her wounds. She was so broken she couldn't move, couldn't call for help, couldn't do anything but die and remember how she got to be here in heap at the base of the stairs.

Hermione turned on the radio she had managed to charm into working without electricity after the silence of her flat became too much to bear day after day. while it wasn't always perfectly reliable she was able to listen to her CDs play with few skips and if nothing else it filled the deadening silence in the flat while Ron was at work or helping George with the shop or at the pub cooling off, which he seemed to do more and more lately. She looked out the small window above the kitchen sink and watched as families flooded Dagon Alley. Easter break was nearly over and NEWT level students would all have projects that needed completion before exams, girls would need new dress robes for the Victory Ball that came the week following the graduation ceremony. Both had been partially the idea of the Headmistress, Minerva McGonagall facing pressures to use the school to reunite the wizarding world and find reasons to celebrate again. The Victory Ball was a way to celebrate the end of the war and the defeat of Voldermort but it also served as a fundraising event for the School that had been forced to institute many more scholarships facing the deaths and incarcerations that had resulted from the war on both sides.

Each year Hermione went and sat with the people she loved and respected, save one, but he would never be bothered to go and 'natter on with a bunch of dunderheaded fools who feel the need to truss up a dirty war that ended in a blood bath by dancing where so many had fell.' She smiled briefly as he entered her mind, as he had so often over the past year, more and more frequently of late. She could practically see his scowl as the throng of people crowded the Alley below her and no doubt crowding his shop.

"Well better get moving. Dinner won't cook itself Hermione." She told herself, shaking her head of thoughts of her friend. With a quick flick of her wand a pot zoomed out of the cupboard and landed on the stove, another flick and a murmured "Aguamenti" and it was filled with war and set to boil. She shifted things around in the cupboard trying to decide on what pasta to have for dinner, finally deciding on a canister of vegetable farfalle. As she set that on the counter next to the stove and turned to grab a few tomatoes from a basket by the sink the song on the radio caught her attention and she began to sing along.

"Green finch, and linnet bird,
Nightingale, blackbird,
How is it you sing?
How can you jubilate
sitting in cages
never taking wing?
Outside the sky waits
beckoning!
Beckoning!
Just beyond the bars...
How can you remain
staring at the rain
maddened by the stars?
How is it you sing
anything?
How is it you sing?
Green finch. and linnet bird,
nightingale, blackbird
How is it you sing?"

She knew she needed to stop listening to the playlist she had created, she always ended up crying, not that it was unusual for her to cry these days even without the music to make her moody and solemn. Still She continued humming along with more of the bluesy, moody playlist as she grabbed a knife and set to cutting the tomatoes preparing to make a nice light sauce for the pasta.

The slamming of the door startled her and the knife slipped slicing her finger. "Shite. Bugger!"

"'Mione?" she heard her husband's voice bellowing at her from the hall. He never seemed to care that they actually had neighbors and paper thin walls, he always said 'that if the neighbors didn't like how loud he was in his own bloody home they should learn a good silencing charm.'

She huffed and blew out an aggravated breath, both for the cut dripping blood on her counter and floor and for the tone of her husband's voice that indicated he had come from the pub again. "Fine Ronald, just cut my finger a little." because you startled me when you stormed in. she added mentally. "You're home early. I wasn't expecting you for another twenty minutes or so" she said trying to sound enthused to see her husband.

"Yeah well, Harry said he'd take care of the paperwork shite so I could get home, I need a drink." He stalked into the kitchen past her and sat down, accioing a glass and a bottle of Ogden's Fire Whiskey. "So what we eatin' 'Mione?" he asked as he plopped into a kitchen chair.

She tried not to roll eyes at him, knowing that in the end it wasn't likely to be good enough. She was no Molly Weasley and her culinary talents had really only marginally improved in the years since she lived in a tent with harry and Ron, attempting to make good food out of what little they had. "Farfalle with tomatoes and basil and I thought I would toast what's left of the ciabatta bread. Then I thought maybe we could go down Fortesque's for an ice cream later, it would be nice to get out." she said hopefully, she was really craving ice cream.

Suddenly Ron was on his feet and shouting at her. "GEORGE! Say what you mean damn it! You want to see George. You always want to see George!" He seethed.

Hermione instinctually backed away as she tried to reason with him, knowing how his moods could get. She tried to hide her flinch when he took a step towards her but as time had worn on after the war and since their marriage in particular he had seemed to change into someone she couldn't recognize and more and more was growing to truly fear. Steeling up her nerve to speak and try to calm him she moved to put a little more space between them before speaking. "No, Ron. This isn't about George! I haven't spoken to him in weeks, but I am sure he is too busy tonight for us to just pop in; I just thought it would be nice to get out. We haven't been out together in so long, and I just thought it would be nice." She said through her fingers, and she covered her face to hide the tears. Why did it always have to be this way them, always fighting, always angry.

Just then the pot boiled over in a hissing bubbling mess covering the stove and spilling to the floor.

Rons eyes flashed dangerously as moved towards Hermione. "Damn it Hermione! Cant you even fucking cook? You want to know why we never go out? We never go out because someone has to pay for this fucking flat. We could have lived at Grimmauld, but no, you just had to have your space, a place to make your own, to fill with all your shite. Shite, I might add that costs money. And I pay for all of 'Mione. All of it, and I never once complained. I go to work and bust my arse to pay for this bloody useless shite, and you complain. You can't even cook fucking pasta. Useless for a fucking housewife don't you think?" He was up and slowly advancing on her through the kitchen, but her back was to him while she tried to right the mess on the stove. He grabbed her shoulders and spun her around, pinning her to the stove, her hair plunging into the pot of boiling water, causing her back to burn when he pulled her up and the boiling hot water was splashed on her back.

She gasped at the burning sensation on her back. "Please, Ron, Please. You're hurting me. I'm sorry; I try so hard, please. I can be better, please." Her head reeled with the force of the fist she should have seen barreling towards her face before Ron pulled her around and pinned her to the table. She had grown to truly hate those hands.

Ron laughed at her, which served to scare her more. "You're right 'Mione, you can be better. Trust me I know. I've had so much better. But let's see how hard you try huh?" The second he took a step back to remove his belt she twisted and rolled herself off the side of the table landing awkwardly and hard on her shoulder.

"Gaahhhh!" she cried, the pain searing through her shoulder and side.

Ron wasn't pleased she was making things so difficult this time. "Stupid." Kick. "Bitch." Kick. "What the fuck do you think you are doing? GET UP!" he said, dealing swift kicks to her side as she writhed helplessly on the floor.

Hermione cried and whimpered in pain. "Ca-can't. Hur-hurts." She wheezed. She was propped up on her elbows, trying to scramble away, knowing it was useless, he was too fast, too big, too strong. She had tried to tell herself that it would get better the first time he had hit her, that he loved her and just hit a breaking point. That had been over a year ago, now he had hit her so many times she had lost count. He was always so sorry. He would bring her roses and cry at her feet telling her how sorry he was, how messed up he was. He would tell her it was so hard with Fred gone, so many people gone. He told her he would never hurt her, that he loved her so much. he told her he needed her, that he could never get through all the pain without her. And she stayed. She stayed because she loved him, and she loved his family. They were all she had. Her parents were gone, she didn't have a job, she had no money of her own, all she had was this, and the secrets and bruises. So she prayed to the gods that she find a way to take his pain away, to get back the Ronald she fell in love with. The sweet boy who held her through all she had been through. But he was gone and she had known that for a while but was too scared to leave him now. he wasn't her Ron anymore and he wasn't the man she loved. the man standing over her in her kitchen kicking her head was a monster.

He grabbed her by her hair and hauled her up, throwing her back onto the table. "Listen good bitch. I've had enough of these games, it's been too long. Too long 'Mione since I had that cunt." She grimaced at his language, and the promise it held. "So I'm sick of asking and waiting, I'm taking what's rightfully mine." He pulled his wand from his back pocket and with a flick of his wrist she was bound to the table spread eagle, anther flick and she was bare. "That's my pretty girl. You like that spell, learned it at work, good for restraining people who resist." The last word he practically purred in her ear. "'Course I had to tweak it a bit mind, but I have gotten so good with charms 'Mione, aren't you proud?" his voice was dripping with malice that he had never had when they were kids.

She didn't know what else to do so she begged. "Please, please Ron, don't do this. This isn't you. Please." She begged. She really didn't want to be raped by her own husband. She could forgive him almost anything, but not this. Never this.

Ron's response was to laugh at her again. "No, this is me. And this" he said as he jammed his fingers forcefully into her center, his nails scraping her walls painfully "this is mine." he told her.

"Plea..." Her plea was cut short as he whispered a silencing spell at her.

"Quiet. Merlin you talk too much. You never just shut up. Now you will be quiet and I can take my pleasure, after all a wife should be good for something." He put his arm out as his Whiskey bottle flew across the room to his silent demand and after a few good swigs he set the bottle down by her head. "So good. Makes you more bearable you know. It's your fault you drink, and your nagging. Naggey naggey wifey. I'm gonna fuck you so good Mione. So, so good." With that he unzipped his trousers and without even bothering to remove his pants he was sheathed in her.

She opened her mouth to scream at the pain as he pounded into her without and lubrication or care but no sound came out. Pain tore through her body as he continued his assault but soon he was sliding out of her with ease and when she lifted her head from the table and looked down her body to where they were joined all she saw was red, and the cause of most of her pain. Fear gripped her tighter and she sobbed silently as he thrust into her one last time, shooting off into her, semen mixing with blood.

Ron stepped back and looked down at her with disgust. "Fucking hell Mione. You're filthy. Filthy fucking blood, just like your back says right. Bellatrix may have been mad as a hatter but she was right about you when she marked you wasn't she. 'Filthy Mudblood Whore' look at you. You are so worthless. Wasn't even worth the effort really. Shite lay 'Mione. Really, you always were a terrible shag." He shoved himself back in his pants and performed a quick scourgify on himself to clean off her blood, then he flicked his wand towards her and her bounds were released.

She immediately tried to curl up on herself, to protect herself from the pain when a fist sent her sprawling to the floor. It took a minute to register he was talking to her "….and for gods sakes get yourself cleaned up. And do something with that mess on the stove would you. Maybe if you knew how to cook I wouldn't have to do this. It's for your own good you know. I'm heading out, hungry you know. I'll prob'ly crash someplace tonight, cool off a bit, blow off some steam alright 'Mione." He ran his fingers gingerly over her brow before he turned and left her, broken and bleeding on the floor of their flat.

She wasn't sure how long she lay there but she knew she needed help. She tried to get up but something was wrong with her legs. She couldn't think straight, everything was muddled and the pain was so blinding. Ron had never lifted the silencing spell and she couldn't call for help so she slowly dragged herself to her front door, hoping one of her neighbors would be home and able to get her help. Their flat occupied the third floor of the building, with two flats per floor below her. She just had to make it down the steps and to help and she would be okay. Only she didn't have the strength and her legs wouldn't hold her weight when she tried to pull herself to stand and instead when she tried she tumbled head first down two flights of concrete steps and finally landed in a heap of broken and mangled bones at the base of the steps.

She barely noticed the door leading in from the alley open and a familiar voice screaming her name before she slipped into blackness.

A/N: Well, there is the first of many chapters. I hope you liked it. review!

~ fresh. new. lily ~