Authors Note: Here's another chapter for you. A bit shorter than the last but I hope you like it too- Bee x
Three Months Later
Hermione had been living a life that she never thought she would ever have even touched before, for the past three months. Crookshanks was very far from keen about the change in his living arrangements, but Hermione had told him very sternly that he would just have to deal with it. Once a week, Hermione left her safety and sprinted out into the world, skirting past every human being that caught her. Never before had she wished for an Invisibility Cloak more than she had since that fateful night when she had been driven to the cave. During these once weekly forays into the world, Hermione scavenged all the bread, water and meat that she could. She retrieved berries from the bushes growing with in her safety perimeter, and so this was how Hermione Granger had lived her life in the three months since she had started living in hiding.
Every day Hermione anxiously searched for any indication, any whisper about any of her friends or associates. Every day she was disappointed with not even a hint of news on the wind. She stole newspapers when and where she could during her weekly scavenging sessions, and had discovered very little other than the state that the world was in. Death was a constant companion to many people, and the world was no longer a safe place. It was very far from it. There didn't appear to be any action that the resistance had taken since that night they had scattered in all directions, or been killed. Hermione didn't even know who had survived and who had died. So, she had been left with two courses of action. She could hope that they had all lived and wait for the day where they would all meet again, or she could mourn the loss of them all and when she met the living again, she would stick close to them and feel the warmth of their love once more.
There was only one person that Hermione knew for definite had died, and that was Ron Weasley. Her once beloved Ron had departed their world during a Death Eater raid at the Burrow three months before. The whole Weasley family, Harry and herself had been almost inconsolable for weeks. They had been forced to move on and continue the fight against the Death Eaters and their Master with one other lost friend to remember in their minds and in their hearts. Hermione had focused on the fight with renewed vigour, a desperate attempt by her to avoid fully confronting the reality of what had happened. She had ignored Ron's empty chair, and had ignored the absence of another shock of brilliant red hair. Now that she was in hiding, the memories of her and Ron had swept over her like a tidal wave bearing pain, grief and loss. For the first month, she had done little else other than sob and wish that she had died with Ron. The loss was almost too much for her to deal with. Then, something had changed.
One day when Hermione had been scavenging for food, she encountered a small scene that had swept all thought of grief from her mind, and brought her back to focus. She had just managed to swipe a small block of freshly made cheese from a farmhouse and was returning when she encountered a small child hunched over and hunkered down upon the road. The child was clothed in rags of cloth that looked as though they had once been robes. Hermione had knelt down in the dusty road and had placed a hand lightly upon the child's back and had been rewarded by the child flinching back and squealing.
"P-P-Please Miss! Don't hurt me!" The child cried out. Hermione made soothing noises in the back of her throat; her facial expression softer than it had ever been since the War had begun.
"I am not here to hurt you. By Merlin, that is the last thing I want to do." Hermione stated. This seemed to be the right thing to say because the child stopped making panicked and distressed noises. Hermione smiled gently and swept the dirty, matted hair from the child's forehead. The young girl looked up at her with wide, fearful eyes.
"What has happened to you?" Hermione questioned gently. She did not want to press the girl too much, she could only be about eight years old and clearly she had been through some ordeal that Hermione could only guess at.
"D-Death Eaters." The girl stuttered. Hermione felt a burning in the back of her throat and in her chest. It was a familiar sensation and she had been forced to become accustomed to it in the past few years. Anger. Hermione was so angry. She did not need to know any more about what had been done, but the girl had another idea altogether.
"They took away Mum and Dad! I ran away. I shouldn't have ran away!" She exclaimed before thick, salty tears spilled down her cheeks. Hermione held her arms out to the girl who immediately threw herself into Hermione's embrace. She made' sush'ing noises and rubbed her hands over the girl's back in an attempt to comfort her.
"No, no. You did the best thing you could. I ran away too you know." Hermione said which certainly seemed to catch the girl's attention. She paused in her crying and pulled back from Hermione to look her square in the eye.
"I did. Sometimes running away is the best thing we could do." Hermione sighed and smiled faintly at the girl.
"Sometimes, it's the only option we have left." Hermione spoke her words slowly and looked up at the sky, taking a deep breath before looking back at the girl.
"Come on, you can't just sit here on the road." Hermione pulled the girl to her feet and brushed the dirt from her tattered and torn robes.
"There you go. You look lovely now. I can see that lovely, pretty face properly now." Hermione smiled and winked at the girl who giggled a blush colouring her cheeks. The girl had stayed with Hermione for a few weeks then she had made her own way after finding out which direction she should be going to in order to find her Uncle in Cardiff. If Hermione had been able to, she would have accompanied the girl. However, meeting the young girl had brought everything back into focus for Hermione. She needed to plan her next move, and so she had begun to plan.
Hastily sketched maps taken from her memory scrawled on parchment littered the table. Pieces of parchment were scattered all over the cave floor with notes and diagrams scratched on, even with the ink running out. She had her plans, she had her spells. All she needed was contact. All she needed was her friends, her other family. She had no idea when they would find her though, or if they would even think to look for her, there or anywhere.
Severus had managed to make his way through London, mostly undetected. There had been a few skirmishes here and there but he had taken any down who had stood in his way and tried bringing him back to the Dark Lord. They had been unsuccessful and as soon as he had left the perimeter of London, it had been easy street for him from there on. It had not taken him long to reach Dover. The only problem was slipping onto a ship destined for Calais. The simple answer would have been to make use of a simple Confundus charm. However, that was not particularly an option. So, he had disguised himself and stole onto the ship. Soon enough, he had made it onto the soil of France.
In the dark of the night, Severus Snape stood and looked out across the Channel at the dark waters. He had made it to his place of safety, at minimal cost. He had little pride left now, yet plenty of bitterness at his cowardice in leaving.
"Not cowardice." He announced to the empty night. It was not cowardice, perhaps it was more than that. Perhaps, cowardice was actually a guise for something much more Slytherin-esque. Perhaps he had not fled out of fear, but out of strategic gain. He could plan his next move in safety, and build his strength, and perhaps gain new allies before bringing the fight back to the Dark Lord and defeating him and all those that stood with him, once and for all.
Severus had not a friend in the country, and he had never actually been to France before. The only French people he knew were the family of Fleur Delacour who was soon to be Weasley. After what had occurred at Hogwarts, that most painful night when he had destroyed his only friend in the world, he could not even consider being discovered by them, let alone fleeing to them requesting asylum. No, he would have to make his own way in a country foreign to him in every way, and hope that he could find a place to survive and plot the Final Fight.
He silently saluted the darkness stretching on towards Britain before turning on his heel and making his way towards the hardest leg of his journey yet.