Author's Note: Hello all! As some of you may know, I'm in the middle of a sequel to my most popular story, "Are You Nobody, Too?" I usually make a point to focus on one story at a time, but this plot popped into my hand and simply demanded to be written. I hope you'll take the opportunity to check out both and please, review!

His stomach churned and the bile rose in his throat. He was forever grateful for the mask forced on his face because keeping it blank would be utterly impossible at the moment. The Dark Lord's robes swirled around his bare feet, making it look like he was partaking in a grotesque dance.

"Play with the trollop, my friends," he hissed, and the rest of the Death Eaters stood to attention. "That's all Mudbloods are—playthings."

The trollop he referred to lay crumpled in the center of the circle of monsters, already having been played with by several. Her usually bushy hair was presently matted against her already bruising neck, and the porcelain skin of her face was contorted in anguish. Her honey brown eyes kept landing on his obsidian ones, but the fear they radiated told him she held no recognition.

Probably for the better, he lamented. Helping the girl was not a viable option at the moment anyway, not if she hoped to escape with her life.

He watched with disgust as the brilliantly blonde head of Lucius Malfoy slowed his thrusting atop her until he reached a shuddering halt. For his own sake, he averted his eyes as the contents of his stomach once again threatened to reunite with the world.

His hopes were shattered not a moment later, though, when the Dark Lord swept to a standstill before him. "Severus, my faithful friend," he hissed. "Shouldn't you like a go? Teach the Mudblood her last lesson, so to speak?"

Men erupted in guffaws around him, and Snape fought the clenching in his jaw. "Much obliged, my Lord," he murmured, "but the girl…does nothing for me. She'll forever be Potter's whore in my eyes."

The Dark Lord's eyes flashed dangerously red. "Severus," he spat, "I said go." With his last word, Snape felt the crippling hand of the Imperius Curse snaking its way up his spine.

It was normally a spell he could fight without much hesitance, but not from the Dark Lord's hand. He bent despite his best efforts and crawled pitifully over to the girl currently doing her damndest to disappear into the ground beneath her.

Her eyes were alight with unshed tears as she gasped at his freshly unmasked face. "No," she whispered, though her countenance told him she knew it was futile. "Please, Professor—I'm begging you."

"Explore her, Severus," the Dark Lord called, and again, there was laughter.

Snape fought the spell's control as hard as his nerves would allow, but even as he ripped down the zipper of his fly, he couldn't help himself. He thrust into her, as deeply as the Dark Lord wished it, but his mind instead whirred to block the affect her screams had on it.

He finished the exact moment he felt a breach in control, and he seized it. Sliding his wand down through the sleeve of his robes, he pushed it firmly into her hand. Her eyes widened when she realized what he was doing.

"Remove yourself, Miss Granger," he said against clenched teeth. "Go—I'll distract them."

He made to push off of her, but she caught his lapel. "I'll not let you damn yourself," she murmured but her voice was beaten, broken, as was the body it left. She held him tightly and within a moment he felt the sickening tug of side-along Apparation.

The last thing he heard before he and the girl he'd forced himself upon materialized in the kitchen of 12 Grimmauld Place was the condemning shriek of a dark wizard scorned.

The wee hours of the morning left them alone, panting and broken, in the kitchen of a house fully occupied but harried footsteps on the stairs told them they wouldn't be so for long. Snape held out a hand to the quivering girl before him, but she rounded on him ferociously before he reached.

"You couldn't save me," she muttered in a panic. "You did your best, but you were Imperio'd, and had to watch as they killed me. Understand?"

"Miss Granger—" Snape began, but she growled with an intensity he hadn't believed her capable of.

"Understand?" she screeched in tones she tried to make hushed.

"Potter can't survive without you," he beseeched. "This war—needs you."

Her face crumpled. "I can't save him," she whispered, her voice raw and painful. "I nearly offered him up so that it would stop."

Snape immediately knew that wasn't entirely true, but she rushed on before he could comment.

"You couldn't save me," she murmured, and spun on her heel just as Mrs. Weasley flicked on the dim kitchen light.

And with that, Hermione Granger sealed her death.

Severus sat bolt right up in his sweat-soaked mattress, beads of it dripping off his brow. He dropped his head into his hands heavily.

It was the same nightmare that had taunted his subconscious for the better half of the four years that had passed since the girl vanished. The trace he put on her retreating form told her that she was at least alive and residing in the States, but Snape wasn't fool enough to think his presence was welcomed in the slightest.

He had done as she'd asked—obeying her last wish was truly the least he could do, seeing as Merlin knew he owed her a great deal more. It could be argued that Hermione Granger's feigned death was the hardest the war had dealt the Order to date, but that war was far from over. Indeed, Granger's disappearance had certainly lengthened the battle, Snape would've bet. But he couldn't deny her the isolation she sought. Not after what she'd been through.

He ran a hand through his matted hair but started as his fireplace blazed green. The Headmaster, clothed unusually in his own nightclothes, ushered hurriedly into the room.

"I do beg your indulgence, Severus," he breathed, "but the time has come."

Snape's eyes widened and he shook his head dangerously. "You can't mean—"

"I do," Dumbledore interrupted. "Fetch her."

Snape tore the sheets off his body and snatched his wand almost inadvertently. "You cannot ask me to bring the girl back into her own personal Hell," he seethed, "because I will not do it."

Dumbledore shook his head sadly. "It's happened, Severus."

Snape furrowed his brow but did not lower his wand.

Dumbledore continued as if the weight of the world was placed upon his shoulders. "Lord Voldemort has managed to completely manipulate Harry's mind. The boy has turned into a very dangerous puppet. And the shock of a mate returning from the dead is the pull he needs to come back to us."

Snape opened and closed his mouth several times before shrugging into his outdoor frock. "Well, bugger all."