All the usual disclaimers regarding Harry Potter and the gang being J.K. Rowling's property, etc. apply.
A Night to Remember
She sat, unmoving, in front of a mirror that paid her ridiculously inane praises. How could it say anything that would make her smile? And how could they think it would make a difference? She sighed long and deep, bracing herself against the pain that swept across her nerve endings. This was something she experienced every single time she steeled herself against the total obedience to the Death Eaters that was required from her by the Imperius curse. A curse laid upon her by both Draco Malfoy and his father, Lucius--Voldemort's right hand man--when she had been captured during the war. Her struggle was constant but she was getting better at resisting their double Imperius, inch by excruciating inch.
How she hated them, and hated herself for not being able to move against them. If she could only get her hands on a wand, she'd hex the whole bloody lot of them to Kingdom Come, damn the consequences. Not that anyone had been stupid enough to let that happen... yet. Someday, she'd find a way to make every last one of them pay. She lowered her face perfunctorily in the direction of the beleaguered house elf who was fussing around her, working at healing and hiding the bruises that still lay around her left eye--a souvenir from last night's encounter with that bastard, Draco Malfoy. She sometimes wondered at the frequency of his visits. If she got paid for what they put her through, she'd have to admit he was her best customer. She sighed long and deep yet again and let the pain wash over her.
"Please, Miss, don't anger them." the elf ventured timidly, her voice little more than a whisper. "You should listen to Milly……if you don't make them angry, then they won't hurt you."
Hermione said nothing.
"She's right, you know," came a quiet voice from across the room, "when I stopped fighting it all became a lot easier." She turned to look at the sallow, haunted young woman who had been--except for that brief but wondrous period during seventh year when Hermione had been Head Girl and rated her own space--her roommate since she was eleven. A person who had shared the journey with her from innocence to this unfortunate life.
"Thanks for the words of advice. I'll keep that in mind." Hermione's reply was flat. She supposed for a moment that it was just as hard, if not harder for Lavender, being one of the few non-muggleborn prisoners here. Lavender had been unfortunate enough to insult Malfoy Junior just days before the war began in earnest, and so had shared Hermione's fate.
"I'm not happy at all with this, I'll have you know. Not one bit." the man complained sourly, leaning back in his chair.
"If you don't go, it will be even more suspicious. All the Death Eaters will be there, you can hardly not show up. You don't turn down an invitation to a dark revel, especially one being held on Samhain Night…" he stopped to take a breath before continuing, "especially when you're considered to be a member of their inner circle. And besides, how else will we know what they're up to if you're not there?" Harry Potter responded in what he hoped was a reasonable voice. He thought it was strange that he'd be the one doing the cajoling, but since Dumbledore's death, it had fallen upon his shoulders. Leading the resistance against the regime of Voldemort was a lot to ask of someone who had just turned 19 a few months before, especially when all their information on the Death Eaters and their activities was funneled through this lone source--Severus Snape--a man who absolutely despised him. "We need you to do this, Headmaster."
Professor Snape had been installed as Headmaster of Hogwarts, charged with ensuring the children received the education laid out by Voldemort in the revised curriculum--a curriculum that no longer included classes called Muggle Studies or Defense Against the Dark Arts. Muggleborns were no longer admitted to the school and the children already enrolled were watched rather closely by the new Board of Education. Half the teachers were new and therefore not worthy of trust. It was definitely a police state.
And even now, after all this time and all these changes, he was a spy--a mole. " I know," he conceded after a few minutes, "but that doesn't mean I have to like any of it."
And so, Severus Snape found himself cleaned up and wearing his best dress robes, walking to the gates of Hogwarts so he could apparate to Malfoy Manor.
"Ah, come in Severus." Lucius Malfoy's greeting to Snape, who was being shown through the doors of his study, was almost congenial.
"Lucius." Snape rejoined. Malfoy gestured to a chair and Snape sat, poised on the edge of the seat like he was sitting on a razor blade, not allowing himself to get comfortable. He waited for a moment expecting Malfoy to speak, but he didn't. "Why haven't I been shown directly to the revel? I am sure Lord Voldemort would not like to be kept waiting."
"You'll see the Dark Lord in time." Malfoy waved his protest away and continued, "He's worried about you, you know. We weren't even sure you'd show up tonight." Snape quirked an eyebrow and Lucius smiled. "Yes, you've been working really hard and according to all our reports, you hardly ever socialize any more--not that you were ever the social butterfly, mind you."
"Running that menagerie takes all of my time and attention," Snape glared and snapped back in response, "not to mention all the extra-curricular potions work that's required of me."
"Tsk! You seem short-tempered, even for you. All work and no play makes Severus a dull boy, you know." Lucius clucked his tongue against his teeth. "I think Lord Voldemort's right, you need to relax and I've got just the thing." He steepled his fingers in front of his face and smiled, but it was not a pleasant smile. Snape narrowed his eyes suspiciously, waiting for Lucius to continue. Malfoy stood up and walked to the fireplace, which was blazing away merrily. As he reached up to the mantle to take down an ornate box, he spoke over his shoulder to his guest. "Well, are you coming?"
"Where are we going?" Severus asked, slowly making his way across the room to stand stiffly next to Malfoy.
"To help you relax." Malfoy replied, cutting Snape off as he opened his mouth to speak. "Dark Lord's orders, so there's no use protesting." He took a pinch of floo powder out of the box and tossed it into the flames. "Brothel." he spoke, and the flames flared green.
"After you." He stood back and let a surprised Snape go first. Since when had there been a brothel linked into the Death Eater Floo Network? Was he that out of the loop?
Another house elf suddenly materialized in the room where Hermione and Lavender were being prepared for that night's entertainment. Both girls felt ill to the pits of their stomachs but said nothing to acknowledge him. Whenever this particular house elf paid them a visit, pain and degradation usually followed within the hour. In his hands were bundles of velvet and leather and lace. "You must wear these." the elf directed as he set down the pile on a chair. "Then the master would like you, Miss Hermione, to wait in the green room for tonight's visitor, and you, Miss Lavender, to wait in the black room." He disappeared without another word, not expecting disobedience. And he would get none. They were both compelled to do as they were told, even if it was just by an elf delivering a message. The Imperius they were under saw to that.
Hermione held up various bits and pieces of clothing and snorted. "Here we go again, Lavender, the S&M dream girls." She thought it extremely funny that they were usually dressed in one variation or another of the run-of-the mill dominatrix outfit. Didn't Death Eaters have any imagination? The thought triggered white-hot blades of pain to lance their way through her and she shuddered. Soon they were cinched into the corsets of their respective merry widows and strapped into their garter belts and fishnet stockings. Lavender was dressed in white and Hermione in red, their hair arranged so that curls fell from the crown of their heads to lie in seductive tumbles around their shoulders. Their eyes were then sketched with smoky kohl, charms were applied to bring colour to their cheeks and their lips painted dark and full, before Milly pronounced them ready.
"Please don't cause any trouble, Miss. I is not liking it when you come back hurt." Milly petitioned Hermione as the women walked to the door and knocked to signal they were ready and the door could be unlocked.
"I'll try to be good." It was all Hermione could promise.
"Ah, here we are, Severus," Malfoy smiled at Snape, who was looking around the room to get his bearings.
"And where would that be?" Severus asked coolly, still unsure of what was going on.
"Think of it as a spa, if you will." Malfoy answered without telling him what he wanted to hear. "When you leave here, you will be relaxed and rejuvenated and ready for the revel." Severus highly doubted it, though his face betrayed nothing. Malfoy had no idea how tightly wound he was right now. Was he being tested yet again? Lucius walked over to the corner of the room and picked up a crystal decanter from its place on a silver tray. "Drink, Severus?" Snape nodded and after a few moments he was handed a glass filled with amber liquid. Snape raised the glass and held it under his nose, sniffing the contents.
"Fire whiskey." he said in a soft voice. Lucius nodded.
"Only the best." He replied, taking a sip from his own glass--a move that allayed Snape's suspicions a little.
"Now, if you'll do me the favour of waiting here for a moment, I'll go and make sure everything is ready." Severus nodded and watched as Malfoy closed the door behind him. Once he was alone he crossed the room, drink in hand, to look out of the window. If he was hoping for a familiar view, he was out of luck. It seemed the place was perched on the edge of a cliff as the window looked out over the sea, and the view reminded him of the one he saw from his rooms at Hogwarts that looked out over the lake, but that was all. He looked around the room once more, sipping the whiskey tentatively as if he cradled a glass of poison, before sitting down to await Malfoy's return.
Hermione jumped as the door to the green room opened. She looked around to find one of her worst nightmares realized. Lucius Malfoy was standing on the threshold, studying her. Great Merlin, no, not him! she thought to herself, suddenly awash in pain at the mutinous thought. Only two people here really scared her and they were Lucius Malfoy and Lord Voldemort. She found herself thankful that it was only Malfoy, though. She'd take his beatings and twisted tastes over a visit from Tom Riddle any day. The last girl that had been visited by Lord Voldemort had not returned. Every time she thought of Hannah, her chest grew tight. No-one, not even the worst Death Eater, deserved to die like that.
"Ah, Mudblood, it's nice to see you are ready." Hermione met his eyes but remained silent. She had long ago learned, lips split and bloodied by the rings on his hand, that you do not talk out of turn with Lucius Malfoy. He took a moment to drink in her form as she stood complacent before him. "I have some instructions for you." he told her. She felt a cold knot bind itself around her core as he cupped her chin in his hand. "Listen well, your life depends on it. You will not take no for an answer from our guest, do you understand?" She nodded, her gaze unwavering. "Lord Voldemort is most concerned with this man's welfare. You will give him something he has not allowed himself in years--you will make love to him and you will enjoy it."
Hermione found herself filled with loathing as she felt compelled to answer automatically, "Yes, sir." What in the hell was she saying yes to? Another Death Eater monster relishing her pain?
"Wear this." She took the red, feathered half-mask from him and slipped it on, completing the careful ensemble. "Ah… wonderful." Hermione repressed a shudder as she noted the strange glint in his eye. He leaned in and claimed her lips, running his cruel, slender fingers along her fishnet clad thighs and up between her legs. His kiss was strong but cold and she felt dead inside. Why is it that I always have one or the other of the Malfoys sniffing after me like a dog? She let herself get swept away by the pain that washed over her at the thought.
Severus was ushered through the heavy oak door by Lucius Malfoy. "Enjoy yourself! I can guarantee you won't be disappointed. I'll be back to collect you in a while, just before things really start hopping at the dark revel." Before Severus had a chance to reply he heard the bolt being shot home on the outside of the door. He reached for his wand… It wasn't there. He cursed softly to himself before straightening up and looking around. That bloody bastard had pick-pocketed him and he hadn't even realized it, he was so caught up in worrying about what was going on. How could he have let that happen? Was he losing his touch? At that thought, he grew even more worried.
The room was candlelit, albeit dimly. As his eyes grew accustomed to the almost non-existent lighting, he realized he was in a bedroom and with a start, that he was not alone. There was a figure sitting in a chair across the room--on the other side of the bed, silent and unmoving--waiting for acknowledgement.
"What the hell is going on here?" he asked, face still hidden from her in the shadows. He did not get a reply.
Merlin's balls!!Hermione thought to herself, in a panic as she recognized the timbre of the voice after all these months. She'd know that tone anywhere, even well into her old age. Professor Snape. Even as she balked at who her 'visitor' was, she found herself rising from the chair against her will, one foot moving in front of the other automatically as she crossed the room to stand in front of him. She had never been so glad in all her days to be wearing a mask as she was at this moment. As for him, he looked like a deer caught in the headlights of a car, stunned and even a little terrified all at once--a look she did not associate with Professor Snape in the least.
"There's been some kind of mistake… " he began, "I'm not supposed to be here." Hermione couldn't have agreed with him more but was unable to voice the sentiment.
"But you are." she replied instead in a soft whisper, stepping closer to him. Severus was struggling. This was absolutely not what he was expecting at all from this evening. He pulled what strands of dignity he could around himself, stood tall, and glared at her--a look that usually struck terror into those on the receiving end of it. It didn't work this time, though. The masked woman took another step towards him and he stepped back to keep her from invading his personal space.
"What's the matter?" Another step closer. "Don't like girls?" And another. "Would it be better if I were a boy?" Hermione asked when she'd finally backed him up against a wall and he couldn't go anywhere else. Snape's eyes narrowed and he looked mildly insulted.
"No, it would not be better… " he sniped, biting back the rest of the remark.
"Good." She replied, relieved at his answer. She raised a hand and ran it down his prominent cheekbone, trailing the backs of her fingers along his neck. He was softer and warmer than she'd imagined, not to mention very tense. He didn't want to be here either, by the looks of things. Oddly enough, the discovery eased her own discomfort. "Now are you going to give in and let nature run its course?" Her voice was low and sultry. She stood on her tiptoes and planted a soft kiss on his lips before stepping away from him and sitting on the edge of the bed. It made no difference what he said--Hermione had instructions she couldn't go back on, but she'd like to let him think he had a choice in the matter.
Severus was filled with conflicting emotions and thoughts. He could still feel her touch as if it had seared his cheek and his lips tingled. It had been years since anyone had touched him like that and he'd forgotten what it felt like. On the other hand, his mind was working overtime trying to figure out what game Lucius was playing with him. He sat down at the other end of the bed and studied her. He wondered who she was but thought it unlikely she would tell him--she was masked, after all.
She was cinched, quite flatteringly, into a dark red velvet confection. Her skin was golden in the soft light and her breasts swelled invitingly over the top of the corset. Her hair, dark chestnut in the soft light, fell in ringlets around her shoulders and her eyes were unfathomable through the holes in the mask. The play of shadow and light on her lips was an enticement he was afraid to accept. He closed his eyes and tried to gather himself together.
He opened them again after a moment to find she was studying him. "Well?" she asked.
"This whole situation is discomfiting to say the least. I have no idea where I am or whose company I'm keeping." He answered truthfully. His statement was greeted with a small smile.
"If it helps, I have no idea where we are either… but I do know whose company I'm keeping, Professor." He started at her use of his title and eyed her warily as she moved up the bed to sit beside him. She was amazed once more at how helpless she was to resist the task set to her by Malfoy.
Snape didn't know what to think anymore and said as much.
"Well maybe you think too much." Where was this dialogue coming from? Hermione raised a red gloved arm and placed her hand on his chest. He looked from her hand to her eyes as she began to push him back onto the bed. She was strong and tenacious and he stopped fighting her. "That's right, just go with the flow." she told him as he lay back, weighing her from beneath black brows permanently etched with a frown. "Let's give you a night to remember." He closed his eyes at her words, fear and anticipation tumbling together inside him with the glass of fire whiskey he had drunk. Trying to predict what was going to happen next in this increasingly strange evening was like trying to forecast the movements of a rogue bludger escaped from the confines of a Quiddich match.
Severus stiffened as he felt her move up the bed and along his body, her fingers delicately tracing their way towards his face with feather-light touches. He drew in a slight, hissing breath at the sensations her hands were eliciting from him and she stilled, stopping to study him. He opened his eyes to find she was staring at him again, her eyes glistening darkly from their place in the mask.
He was about to say something to her when she leaned in and stopped his mouth with a kiss. Unlike the first time, this kiss was deep and insistent and he found himself lost in the moment and kissing her back.
Hermione was stunned by the kiss, and the butterflies that had been in her stomach fluttered down to dance between her legs. Who'd have ever thought Snape--the greasy-haired, hook nosed git who had been the bane of her existence at Hogwarts--could kiss like that? And who would have thought that his gentle mouth and reticence could reach her, used as she had been these last months. Usually she was bitten, bruised or smacked around within the first five minutes in one of these rooms; a prelude to a nightmare. Then they'd fix her up as good as new and it'd be straight back into the Snake Pit for a repeat performance. She could tell already that tonight was going to be different from her usual experience as one of their whores, because she was the one making all the moves here… whether she wanted to or not. A slow, half smile found its way to her lips as she broke off the kiss and shifted to straddle him.
Severus was surprised at how bereft he felt as she broke away from him. Maybe he should have indulged in a few of his little fantasies over the years. He might not feel like such a slave to this mystery woman's touch, had he done so. He watched her as she moved to sit astride him, fighting to keep his cool reserve as she reached behind herself to run one gloved hand up his inner thigh, and wondering what she had thought to make her smile. Her movements were languid, yet deliberate. He wondered again about her identity. There was something about her that struck him as familiar, and she had known who he was. Then her hand found the erection that betrayed him, and he lost the train of thought.
Well what do you know? He's not dead, or undead, after all.Hermione thought to herself, remembering the schooldays rumours about Snape. What had they been again? Oh, yes… he was a vampire and turned into a bat at night, that was one of the more popular ones. She liked that one herself, actually, because of the way he'd swept down the corridors like a great bat, robes flapping behind him. Or a raven... she'd fancied that rumour too, what with the great beak of a nose and the voluminous black robes falling around him like huge, folded wings. Her smile grew even wider. Now, seeing him through eyes much older and wiser than they seemed, he wasn't such a caricature. Right now he looked like a little-boy-lost and she knew exactly how he felt.
Hermione peeled off her gloves and tossed them carelessly to the floor, never breaking eye contact with him the whole time. The gloves were almost always the first thing to go, as she couldn't do her job properly with them on. She reached down and slid her manicured fingers between the layers of his jacket, popping the buttons in a nonchalant manner as she went, caressing him through the fine linen undershirt he wore beneath it with light, teasing strokes. She was strangely flattered to feel him tremble under her touch. When the last button was undone, she deliberately sat down on his erection and ran her hands under the satin lining and swept back the jacket and the robes he was wearing so she could loosen the laces of his shirt.
Severus was having a hard time concentrating, what with all these sensations sweeping over him. He bit his bottom lip to help control the shivers he was experiencing as she rubbed against his crotch with her own, and raised his hands to rest them on her fishnet clad thighs. He rubbed his thumbs gently back and forth over the ridges of the stockings and the bare flesh underneath. She took this tentative touch to mean he was giving his permission for her to continue, and she was right. She leaned over and kissed the side of his neck, marveling as she did so that he smelled of sandalwood and myrrh. He trembled at the touch of her lips on his flesh. "Don't get out much do you, Professor?" she asked, but not unkindly. He could feel her smile curl against his skin as the question left her mouth.
"No, I don't." he answered honestly. A barely-there smile quirked at the corner of his lips and he wondered again about the woman straddling him. Something about her practically screamed "If you think I'm Slytherin, please do me a favour and kill me!" She began to kiss him, trailing her lips down to the nape of the neck and onto his chest as she finished unlacing his shirt. With practiced ease she pulled the ends of the shirt out of the top of his pants and peeled it back to rest on the jacket so she could run her hands up his bare chest.
She was happy with this arrangement until she was grounded by the layers of material that draped heavily off his shoulders and arms. Her exploration stopped suddenly, hands run adrift on the sandbanks of his clothing.
"Shit!" she exclaimed. It was all he could do to keep a straight face as she bemoaned her fate. He looked up at her, a little puzzled, wondering where she was coming from. "Well, are you going to help a Damsel In Distress or not?" she asked, her voice teasing him with every word.
It took him a minute, but he finally understood what she was getting at and pushed her back gently so he could rear up and help her push the shirt, jacket and cloak off him.
"I'm a bit rusty with this stuff." he told her by way of excuse. He listened to the irreverent laughter bubble up within her.
"Isn't that the truth!" she replied, leaning in to kiss him again and push him back down onto the bed. He pushed her away.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"The Malfoys like to think I'm no-one of importance." She answered flippantly, tensing as the result of the Imperius swept over her. He felt her stiffen as she sat astride him and knew from her reaction she was fighting one of the unforgivables. He had enough experience of his own in that field to know when someone else was suffering their consequences. He was surprised at how uneasy the knowledge made him. He went through the catalogue of various symptoms in his mind and arrived at the only logical conclusion.
The Imperius Curse.
"Why are you doing this?" he asked, amazed at how quickly the mood had changed for him.
"Because they can--and do--make me do anything they want." There was an edge of quiet hysteria to her voice as she struggled to get every word out in clipped tones.
"And who are they?" Why was he asking her all these questions? What did he care?
"The Malfoys." She shuddered as a burning pain flooded her nerve endings.
"Take off your mask. Let me see your face." He wasn't sure she'd comply but she raised her hands to her face and ran her fingers behind her ears to free the mask and slowly let it drop away from her face, cradled in her palms as if it were made of crystal.
He raised an elegant hand to cup her chin and raised her face to meet his. It took a second but once he realized who was straddling him he bucked her off his lap like she was the devil incarnate and struggled to get off the bed. His expression confirmed her suspicions as to why no one had ever bothered looking for her.
"M..Miss Granger!" Snape looked absolutely shocked. "Y..You're alive." He stammered as he lurched to his feet. She tried to laugh as she sat back up but it came out tangled in a sob.
"I guess it's safe to suppose rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
Severus was stricken. He, along with everyone else involved in the resistance, had truly believed she died in the same battle that had claimed the lives of many great witches and wizards, including Dumbledore, McGonagall, Flitwick and Mad-Eye Moody. The casualties of that battle had been so great and yet, standing publicly as he had been on the side of Voldemort, he had been unable to acknowledge his grief for the fallen. Many of the promising up and coming witches and wizards had fallen that day too, Hermione Granger among them. There had been many bodies that had never been found when the fog of war had cleared.
After a moment of shocked pacing--during which time she watched him stride back and forth before her, wearing a hole in the carpet--he turned to face her. "What happened?"
"To the victors go the spoils," she laughed bitterly, "and believe me when I tell you I'm spoiled." She looked up to see no judgement written upon his face, something that surprised and disarmed her. "I was spirited off the battlefield by Malfoy Jr." she continued, "and woke up here. I've been here ever since, so I think you can imagine the rest of the story without me having to fill you in on every lurid detail."
Severus nodded in agreement, wondering why her story and the way she told it had effected him so deeply. Maybe it was the thought that Hogwarts finest mind in years had been reduced to this, a slave to the Imperius Curse in the worst possible way. Or maybe it was just that he was getting soft in his old age. Yeh, Severus, you're so pathetically old. 42 is positively ancient!
"You've got to let me finish what I've started here." she told him apologetically, her eyes filling with tears as she begged the man who had always been her harshest critic. "Please… Don't say no… I'm so sick of the pain... I'm exhausted."
"I don't want to see you hurt."
"Believe me, there's no way you can hurt me any more than I already have been." She told him, tears leaking down her cheeks. "Promise you'll do as I ask and cooperate with me."
"How?" he was sure he knew what she was going to say but he wanted her to confirm it.
"Make love to me and let me make love to you… please! It's the only thing that'll satisfy him." He regarded her for a long moment before answering. He wasn't sure if she meant Lord Voldemort or Lucius Malfoy but he supposed for all intents and purposes they were one in the same.
"As you wish, Miss Granger." At his response she fell into his arms and hugged him tightly.
"Thank you." She whispered, meaning it, and his jaded heart broke for her as he lowered his lips to hers.
The Dark Revel was winding down and Severus was glad. It had been one long and draining night and he was bone tired. As he stood, absently watching the depravities around him from his place on the dais next to Lord Voldemort, his mind wandered back to his time in the Green Room. He wondered again at the brothel's location and recalled the gentle desperation of Miss Granger as she had made love to him. He could still feel the ghost of her touch on his skin and the taste of her mouth on his and was haunted by the look he'd seen in her eyes as Lucius Malfoy had come to fetch him to the Revel.
How would he tell Potter and the others what had happened tonight? What would they say when he told them Hermione was still alive and so were a number of others they thought lost? He supposed, as he turned his attention back to Voldemort and the situation at hand, that it was a problem for another day.
A/N - I've done two pics so far of scenes from this chapter. Cut and paste the links to have a look.