***Decided to put a few songs with this one. If you're familiar with my other stories, you already know how my music works, if not, here's the deal: I do not write songfics, but I like to put a soundtrack of sorts with my stories. They are suggested listening that go well with the chapters I pair them to. They almost all have videos on youtube you can listen to them for free on. Hope you enjoy, and I'll update soon!****

Chapter One-Behind Blue Eyes, the Who (There is also a version of this song done more recently that is very decent if you prefer. This song is one of two that I consider Snape's anthem-despite the fact that he does't have blue eyes haha- and I strongly suggest that you listen to it, or at the very least read the lyrics!)

Spinners end. The road was dirty and winding. The houses lining the street were little more than shacks. Small run down buildings with pathetic brown lawns surrounding them. The street was empty now, not a single soul in sight. Hermione wasn't sure if it was because all the inhabitants had moved onto more prosperous dwellings or if those that lived here were too ashamed to show themselves in this dismal place. It didn't matter. She was only here for one person. One person who had to be here. He was her last hope. She took a deep breath to steady herself and walked silently towards the house at the end of the street.

Severus Snape watched her come. Not a single magical being could step foot on this street without him knowing. He'd made sure of it. In the beginning there had been those curious witches or wizards coming to see the man who'd survived, the man who'd duped the dark lord. The man who'd loved a woman so much that he'd dedicated almost twenty years of his life to protecting her orphaned son. Then there had been the ones wishing to rekindle friendships with him. Ministry agents, other professors, even a few ex students. Wanting to get to know the 'real him.' And of course there were the thrill seekers. The ones that just wanted to get the rush of having faced Severus Snape.

He wasn't sure which of them he detested most. Dumbledore had sworn to him that no one would know about his love for Lily Evans. The old man had promised that he would take it to his grave. And he had...but when Severus had thought he was dying, he'd given the Potter boy too much. Not just his memories proving he wasn't a traitor or the memories telling him about the snake being a Horcrux or that Harry would have to die for Voldermort to be killed. He'd given him everything. His memories of first meeting Lily, their time at Hogwarts together, begging Dumbledore to find a way to save Lily...

And none of it would have mattered if he'd just fucking died. He was supposed to have died. What use was this life to him now? It was over. He'd done what he set out to do. He'd never imagined he would have to face the world again when it was all over. But Potter had lived too. He supposed he should be grateful for that. He'd spent the better part of his life protecting the boy. But since Potter had survived, after the war he'd testified on Severus' behalf to clear him of charges that he was a murderer and a traitor. It had been a closed court, but still the rumors had spread. Severus Snape and his great love, Lily Potter.

And of course it wasn't just the curious ones that heard the rumors. Those coming to rekindle friendships had also heard them. They came with ambition or pity in their eyes. Ministry agents wanting to make a hero out of him. Offering him jobs. Ex colleagues offering support. The same people who had tried to curse him and kill him only a little while before. Had any one of them bothered to think that maybe, just maybe after two decades of service to Dumbledore, that it was possible that he was still doing the older wizards work? But no. Everyone had turned on him. All of them. He'd played his part too well. What use did he have for friends who thought the worst of him, even for a brief time?

At least the thrill seekers weren't coming to gape at him or offer him fucking pity. With a tiny flick of magic he could send them screaming on their way, with a story to brag about of how they survived visiting the house where Severus Snape lived.

As he stood in his bedroom looking out over the street through the dirty window, he wondered what category Miss Granger would fall into. Was she coming with questions about Lily? To offer her shoulder to cry on should he need it? Or just coming to say that she'd done it?

He assumed based on what he knew of her that she fell into the second category. She'd shown a startling capacity to forgive in her time at school. After all, her friends were Weasley and Potter. She needed heaps of compassion and understanding and forgiveness in order to put up with those block heads for as long as she had. So was she here to tell him how sorry she was for his unrequited love? That she was willing to be friends with Snivilleous now that he'd been cleared of all charges?

Well he wouldn't give her the chance. With a wordless flick of his wand the street became dark. Storm clouds gathered and closed in oppressively. Her head came up and she looked at the sky not with fear, but curiosity. Severus felt a small pang of grudging respect. Then again, she'd faced the dark lord himself and not quailed. With another flick he sent the wind howling down the dark road. Broken shudders and doors banged wildly. Dust rose up obediently to his will. In the tiny swirling particles he pushed a little magic. They formed malicious beings that stalked towards the girl.

Girl? Was she a girl? The Hermione coming forward was a woman, not a girl. When had that happened? When had she grown from the awkward, gangly know it all with bushy hair and buck teeth to the calm, commanding woman striding up his street with undaunted determination? With a flash of her wand and a muttered word he couldn't hear, Hermione scattered the beings back to dust. Her eyes went up to the window where Severus stood. He started to back away and then forced himself to remain where he was. She couldn't see him, not through his enchantments. He allowed himself to feel the smallest bit impressed by her. There was no harm in faulting her intelligence; how many people had hailed her the brightest witch of her age? And of course her courage couldn't be questioned. She was a Gryffendor, after all. He felt his lip curl at the thought.

With another wordless spell he dropped every outside deterrent and focused his will on his repellant charm. She walked into the barrier and found herself facing the opposite direction. She'd only taken two steps when she stopped and shook her head as if to clear it. She turned and walked into the repellant charm once more. This time she didn't take a single step after she'd been turned. Severus could practically see the wheels in her head turning.

She faced the barrier again but was careful not to touch it. Then she determinedly pointed her wand at it, took a deep breath, and stepped through it. Severus was slightly shocked in spite of himself. Minerva McGonnigal had been the only other person who'd made it through the barrier. Then it occurred to him. Of course. The new headmistress must have sent her star pupil in her stead since she'd failed to bring him back to Hogwarts herself.

With a disgusted sigh he apparated outside to meet her. No one aside from Dumbledore had set foot inside his home for twenty years. That wasn't about to change now. When she looked up, she gasped in surprise and quickly covered it. Her keen brown eyes took in his long black robes and swallow skin. Had she expected him to look different now that he was a hero?

"Miss Granger," he drawled in that silky, menacing way of his. "To what do I owe the pleasure?" His voice was tight enough not to leave any room for her to assume it actually was a pleasure.

"Professor Snape," his name escaped her lips more like a prayer of gratitude than a greeting. Then she cleared her throat and squared her shoulders. "Severus," she spoke his name with clarity as if daring him to chastise her for using it. He curled his lip in disdain but did not say anything. "I," she tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear in a curiously vulnerable gesture. "Minerva told me where to find you."

"Of course she did," he said flatly. "You can tell the headmistress that I have not reconsidered her offer. It is not now, nor will it ever be my intention to return to Hogwarts." He turned away but could still sense her standing behind him. "Run along now, little owl, and convey my message to the puppeteer pulling your strings."

"I am not here to try and convince you to return to school!" There was such anguish in her tone that Severus turned to face her once more. "Minerva told me where to find you because she agrees with me that you are the only one who can help me." She took a step closer to him. Severus forced himself not to take a step back from her.

"And what could you possibly need my help with, Miss Granger?" He looked down his nose at her, mildly surprised that she stared back at him, unblinking.

"A curse. A dark curse."

"I don't deal in the dark arts any more, Miss Granger, or have you not seen the papers for the last year?"

"I've seen them," she admitted. "I'm not questioning your dedication to the light. But the fact remains that you know more about dark magic and curses than anyone I know."

"You're a bright witch, do some research and figure it out on your own. If its healing you need, go see Poppy. If its the work of Voldermort, go see Potter." He still spoke the name with hatred though he'd never actually hated the boy.

"I've done all that," she exclaimed. "You are my last hope. I don't think I have much time, Severus." There was a tinge of desperation in her voice that tugged at something long buried within him.

"Then I suggest you make your piece with your maker, Miss Granger." His tone was mocking, though he could almost believe that she meant what she said.

"Severus, please," she whispered. "I consider myself a brave person..." There was a catch in her voice. "But I don't want to die like this."

"Like what?" he snarled. He didn't like the response that the pleading in her tone awoke within him. He didn't like that he felt the need to help, to protect her. That part of his life was done. He shouldn't care if she actually was being killed by a dark curse. She was no longer his concern. They'd all thought him a treacherous bastard- and he was through being the silent hero. Now he really was the bastard they'd all thought him.

Hermione lifted her arm so that her robe fell back to reveal a white bandage running from her wrist up to her shoulder. With a flick of her wand she pulled back the gauze.

Severus stared at her in shock. He'd heard a few of the blackest death eaters mention this curse. He'd even heard that a few of them had inflicted it on unfortunate wizards who fell out of their good graces. But all the ones he'd heard of had died from it shortly after being cursed. It was a terrible way to die, an agonizing, humiliating death. How long had she been cursed? Who had cast it on her?

The word mudblood had been carved onto her arm. It was an old scar, healed over. But the cuts had been duplicated over and over again until the words wound themselves around her arm like a grotesque tattoo. A few closest to the original mark had already had time to heal, meaning it had been at least a few months since she'd been cursed. How had she survived this long? The marks would spread over her body slowly, slicing her skin over and over until every inch of her skin was covered. But usually the cursed person's heart stopped long before the marks spread. She would be forced to face her worst nightmare every night. Her magical energy would be drained to depletion each time she slept. Everyone he'd ever heard of receiving this curse gave out from exhaustion and agony.

"How long?" he asked tightly.

"Since the last battle with Voldermort."

"What?" He hissed the words, unbelieving. It had been almost a year! How could she have survived this long? "That's not possible."

"I put a reduction spell on it," she explained wearily. "It slowed the spread, but I can't stop it wholly."

"You were able to put a reduction spell on this curse?" Severus looked at her with something like awe. He'd never heard of anyone being able to contain this particular curse. Her chin rose proudly and she nodded. A year...even at a reduced speed and intensity, it would still have spread vastly. Suddenly he realized that much more than her arm had been covered by that word. Working at full speed the curse would have covered every inch of her within a month, had she survived that long. Even slowed, after twelve months there was no way it was just her arm...

"Severus-" she faltered, her eyes glazing over slightly. "I believe...that I am going to..." Her eyes rolled back into her head and she collapsed. Instinctively his arms caught her and he pulled her body against his. She felt fragile, sickly skinny. As he looked down at her, something flickered over her face and then what he assumed must have been a glamor disappeared. Uncovered, there were deep shadows beneath her eyes. Her cheeks were hollowed and her skin pale.

Leave her here, a part of him whispered maliciously. Let the others deal with her. Surely her friends could find a way to cure her. And if not, what of it? She was no longer his concern. She'd known the danger when she chose to fight against Voldermort's army.

But no. If for no other reason, the word that had been carved into her arm would make him help her. It made him stomach turn to think of someone etching that word on her skin. It was such a filthy, nasty word. Meant to humiliate and degrade. He knew the damage that one little word could do.

"Fuck," he muttered. Carefully he covered her arm with the bandage again and then pulled her into his arms. She felt so small there. How much weight had she lost? He turned and with gritted teeth brought her over the threshold and into his home. He'd almost made it up the stairs and to his bedroom with her when the screaming started.

****What do you think?*****