A/N: So, this is heavily inspired by The Last of Us. It's not a Crossover, and it's completely AU sort of. You know, it's kind of like all those beauty and the beast inspired ones, this is just based on a game rather than a fairy take. Still has magic and Voldemort and all that, everything just happened differently.
Things I expect to get slammed for and will explain now-
-There will be ooc-ness since most of them didn't live the life they had in canon and so were shaped differently, some things are still the same, most things aren't and I tried to keep the core traits there. Hopefully not ridiculous out of character-ness, Hermione hasn't suddenly become a foul mouthed gangsta slut or anything, hopefully it's believable changes.
-I don't actually know England or Ireland, I'm going off google maps when I mention something, so mostly I try to keep it vague.
-There won't be one block of explanation for everything that's happened differently like I've seen some stories do, bits and pieces will be mentioned over time, and some things not mentioned or answered at all because the characters wouldn't actually know.
There aren't spoilers for LoU, but if you've played the game there will definitely be points or themes where you'll be like - that's so Last of Us. OMG I love that game so much! I've been having heaps of fun writing this, hopefully you enjoy reading it. :)
Hermione crouched low in the brush, bow in one hand, arrow in the other, watching as a pair of Death Eaters battled it out with another pair of wizards. Hermione had considered getting involved for all of a second before deciding remaining in hiding was in her best interests.
What were wizards even doing way out here? Surely they were miles from any wizarding zones.
Theon had told her where wizards made their settlements. After the Dark Lord annihilated all muggles and laid waste to their domains, the wizarding zones had been completely closed off. You needed special authorization to get in and out. London was obviously the central location, but there were smaller secure zones dotted throughout the UK.
Theon had mentioned there were communities of squibs as well, here and there. Apparently they were ejected from good wizarding society.
That was why Theon had been way out in the middle of nowhere when he had found her. He was a squib, disowned by his family when his magic had still not manifested by age twelve. He had learned to survive with the help of other squibs, and when he had found Hermione years later, freshly orphaned and all alone, he hadn't the heart to leave her. She was only six years old at the time, and she would just be another mouth to feed, a burden, but he still couldn't turn his back. He had taken her in, taught her to hunt, to cook, to survive off the land.
And then he had vanished a few weeks ago. Hermione was terrified for him. It wasn't uncommon for him to be gone a few days on a hunting trip on occasion, but weeks...never. So she had left their home to search for him. And three days later, come across this scuffle between Death Eaters and wizards.
Was this what had happened to Theon? Had Death Eater's found him? But he was a squib, they wouldn't kill him would they? They had no reason to.
But then, they really had no reason to kill muggles or muggleborns, but that didn't stop them.
Theon often tried to tell Hermione she was the last muggleborn in the UK if not the world. Hermione wasn't so sure, she didn't want to believe it either.
Theon... She needed to find him. She wished these wizards would finish up so she could be on her way.
One of the Death Eaters was suddenly thrown in her direction, bursting through the bush and colliding with her. The pair of them went rolling across the ground and Hermione heard the distinct snapping of her bow. Shit...
Before Hermione could recover herself, she was hauled to her feet and used as a shield by the Death Eater, his arm around her neck, his other hand holding his wand to her head.
The other Death Eater was already down apparently, and the other two wizards hesitated at this new situation.
"Drop your wands," the Death Eater barked at them.
The two wizards, a very tall, very dark skinned man, and the other one with the weird eye began to obey his command, albeit slowly.
The Death Eaters attention seemed fixed on his opponents, so he didn't even notice Hermione pulling out her knife and quietly clicking it open. With as much force as she could muster, and as quickly as she could, she stabbed him in the thigh and dropped to the ground scrambling from his grasp as he cried out in pain. She made a run for it, trying to put as much distance between her and the wizards as possible.
The Death Eater started flinging spells at her and she ducked and wove in an attempt to avoid being hit. But it wasn't enough though as she felt a burning pain on her leg and she stumbled. Before she could even register, her magic reacted to save her, erecting a shield over her person and blocking every spell shot her way.
Hermione looked at them, inwardly cringing at the expressions of shock on their faces. They had to have realised she was muggleborn. Theon had once told her there was a distinct difference in the way her magic felt compared to other wizards and witches. A cleanness or something, he hadn't been able to describe it.
"Impossible," the Death Eater whispered.
The weird eyed one took the opportunity to strike him down.
"After 'er Kings!"
Hermione shot to her feet, refocusing her efforts on getting away and sprinting through the pain in her leg.
There was a loud crack and the dark skinned one appeared right in front of her, she didn't even have enough time to react and she slammed right into him. He tried to hold her steady.
"We don't want to hurt you child," his voice was a deep rumble and perhaps if he were anyone else and this situation not what it was, she might have found it reassuring.
"Let me go!" She tried to wrench herself from his grip, but he was almost twice her size and definitely physically stronger.
She heard the other one utter something from behind her, and darkness took her.
Severus watched the house across the street from the shadows of the alley way. Damn Dumbledore for calling him back here. He had thought he'd left the Order and all its bullshit behind years ago.
Did he make similar requests of James bloody Potter when he needed something done? Severus highly doubted it. Potter was likely left in peace. Both he and Potter had left the Order after the Lily incident just over a decade ago now, which had resulted in the woman's death thanks to Dumbledore's rather ruthless decision. But then, sacrifice the few to save the many had been a creed the old man had been living by for some time.
How Dumbledore had even found him was a mystery. Even the Dark Lord couldn't find him despite the ever present tether burned into his arm.
Severus let out a huff of air before pulling the black coat up around his neck higher, hoping to keep in some of the warmth and more of the rain out.
It had become imperative for those trying to live off the grid, to rely on magic as little as possible. And certainly to never use something more powerful than a tier one, possibly tier two spell. So drying charms, warming charms, unless it was very important, Severus rarely used them. In fact, he went months at a time without using magic at all.
He existed outside the wizarding zones, where the risk of running into the Corrupted was far higher. They were attracted to magic. It was safer to avoid using it if you could. Severus hated dealing with the Corrupted, men and women who's magical cores had been completely corrupted by the dark magic taint everyone was born with these days. The more one used Dark Magic, the quicker they became less human, and more creature, desperate to sap the magic from others. They were mindless, and so very brutal in their desperation.
Severus had managed to avoid them for the most part, only coming across one or two every now and again. Never large packs. They tended to stick to familiar places, so once urban areas were the most dangerous. There tended to be many gathering around the protected wizarding zones too, likely attracted by all the wards.
Right now though, his biggest worry were the frequent patrols of Death Eaters. Their numbers had expanded significantly and quickly over the years. They had been able to wipe out all muggles and muggleborns. But then the corruption had started as the UK and it's citizens became more and more embroiled in the taint of dark magic.
In trying to save magic from muggles and magic stealing muggleborns, the Dark Lord had condemned the entire wizarding civilization. Only muggleborns retained their purity of magic, not being born with the taint as half bloods and pure-bloods had been and because they hadn't been allowed to use magic, they never learned the Dark Arts, their magic remained untainted.
But now there were none of those left. At least, none known. It was believed they were the key to finding a cure, or at least reversing the damage. But then the Dark Lord destroyed the last known one. Lily...
Severus left the shelter of his shadows and hurried across the square now that the patrol had passed. Number 12 Grimmauld Place materialized and he quickly entered, only to be held at wand point by Mad Eye Moody, Shacklebolt behind him.
Severus may not have seen these men in almost ten years, but he would recognize them anywhere, even with their newly obtained scars...and limbs in Moody's case.
Shacklebolt started running diagnostic spells over him to ensure there was no disguise. Such spells had evolved significantly in the past thirty years. But it surprised Severus how freely they were using their magic considering how likely their chances of being tracked were, even in the Secret Kept house. The Death Eater organization had such an iron grip over its citizens.
"The Ministry thinks we're dead," Shacklebolt explained. "Our trace has been wiped."
"Convenient," Severus muttered.
"You have no idea," said Moody.
Severus could certainly imagine though. That kind of freedom was near impossible to obtain. However, if they weren't careful, the Ministry would pick up their scent again.
When Shacklebolt finished, giving a short nod to Moody, the gruff man turned and limped down the hallway, expecting Severus to follow. Shacklebolt took up the rear.
They lead him to the kitchen. God, despite all the years away from this place, they were not enough. Grimmauld carried almost as many terrible memories as Hogwarts. How many nights had he turned up here, covered in his own blood and excrement after bouts of torture for failing the Dark Lord, only to have Dumbledore send him back out there again?
Well, he had upheld his end of their bargain, Dumbledore however had failed to deliver. Severus did not feel any guilt in deserting the Order. What was the point in even continuing to fight? They all had to live like bloody muggles to avoid the degradation of their magic, and they would die, or they would change. So what was the point? The Dark Lord had won. And even were they to defeat him, they would still all die or change and be unable to save their magic. The Dark Lord was no longer the root of the problem.
He took a seat in the kitchen while Shacklebolt set about making tea.
"Where is Dumbledore?" Severus asked.
"Should be here soon," Moody replied.
Severus accepted the offer of tea, it was scarce where he travelled and infrequently resided. So why not take the opportunity when it was offered?
By the time Dumbledore had arrived, Moody had left, claiming he needed to check on something and Severus and Shacklebolt had sat in utter silence since.
"Good evening Severus," Albus greeted with a kindly smile, taking the seat opposite. "You're a difficult man to find."
"Not difficult enough evidently. Why am I here?"
"Straight to the point then," Albus said, clasping his hands on the table. "I need something delivered to Liverpool."
"Have one of your...subordinates apparate it there."
"Apparition is a high tiered spell Severus, and the amount of power required to travel that distance would alert the Death Eaters immediately. And I need all my men here. I am rather...short handed these days."
That could only mean desertion or death. Maybe the other members of the Order were wising up and realising what a wasted endeavour it was. There was a grim satisfaction at seeing Albus fail at something. Even if his success would probably be minutely better for everyone. Port keys were out of the question, even illegally made ones could be traced these days.
Severus had done a lot of things since fleeing the safe zones just to survive. Killing, ambushes, intimidation, torture, nothing he wasn't already intimately acquainted with from his days as spy.
Package delivery may have sounded mundane, but the distance between here and Liverpool was a long one on foot. It would be dangerous and in an area he was not familiar with. He certainly couldn't fly, the Death Eaters owned the skies these days.
"And what makes you think I would do this for you?" He asked. "I left the Order. I believe I was explicit in my desire to never associate with you or your little faction again."
"And I would not ask you were it not so important. You are one of the few, perhaps the only, man I trust to be able to accomplish this task."
"You should know by now flattery will get you nothing."
Albus only chuckled. "It is hardly flattery, merely simple fact. I need you to do this Severus."
"And what is in it for me?"
"I suppose the satisfaction of a job well done wouldn't suffice?" He gave him an almost cheeky smile.
"I am in no mood for your nonsense Albus," Severus said, beginning to rise to his feet.
But the old man placed his withered hand over Severus' own, with surprisingly more strength than Severus would have thought he had in him.
Severus was long ago over everything Albus did and said, how cryptic he could be, how manipulative, even the mans unflappability. Albus was infuriating in almost every way. He also hated how Albus was not actually infallible. For a time, back in the beginning, Severus truly began to believe he might have been. He had placed his hope and faith in the man, he had given the man his very soul for the cause. He had not made a decision he had regretted more. Even that of becoming a Death Eater paled in comparison.
"In two weeks time, we'll have the opportunity to have you cleared from the tracers, to have you registered as dead."
"And how would that help me? The Dark Lord would still sense me. He will know my end of the link is still active."
"Awaiting you at the drop off will be one of my people, a witch of substantial intelligence and power, a former Death Eater like yourself who has managed to sever the tie. She will do the same for you should you make it with the package intact."
"Impossible," he said, dropping into his seat. "There is no way to sever it."
"As the Dark Lord would have you believe, but I assure you, she found a way."
"Who is she?" Severus demanded.
"That is irrelevant. But you could be free Severus. Just make the delivery to Liverpool."
It was definitely tempting. To be severed from the Dark Lord, wiped from the lists of the living... It would be more freedom than he could ever have hoped for.
"I will need some supplies," he finally said.
"It has already been taken care of."
Shacklebolt silently summoned a back pack.
"Extension charms, weightlessness and all manner of protective spells," Shacklebolt told him.
Severus took it and placed it on the table, going through it and mentally taking inventory. Odd, this was double what he would need to make the trip, even if he had to take some lengthy detours.
His eyes narrowed and he looked up to scowl at Dumbledore just as Moody dragged a very reluctant petite young girl into the room.
She couldn't have been more than fourteen, fifteen maybe. Her curly hair was cut short, shoulder length. Her skin was coloured, she obviously spent time outside. And she was dressed in a pair of jeans, black hi-tops and a green zip up hooded jumper. Her clothes had clearly seen better days. She gave a rather impressive scowl to those gathered.
"No," Severus said, his voice flat. "I did not sign on to cart a child through the danger zones."
Severus dumped the pack on the table and made to leave.
Severus turned and looked at Albus, that pleading note to his voice striking something within the younger man. He looked so old, frail and weary in that moment. Severus glanced at the girl, taking her measure. She clearly wasn't happy. He didn't sense anything special about her, so what was so important that she needed to be removed from London so desperately?
"Fine," he conceded. "But after this, we're done Albus. I never want to see or hear from you again unless it's the confirmation of my freedom from the tracers."
Albus nodded solemnly. "This is Hermione Granger. Miss Granger, Severus Snape. He will get you to Liverpool safely."
"Can I have my pack back now?"
Shacklebolt handed her her own pack and she slung it over her shoulder, frowning at its weightlessness.
"Did you take all my stuff?" She accused.
She dropped it and opened it, rummaging through it.
"It has been charmed Hermione, so you will not have to feel the weight," Shacklebolt told her.
She glanced up at him, acknowledging his words, but still double checking that everything was there. She pulled her knife from a side pocket and slipped it into the pocket of her jeans. There was still some irritation that she had lost her bow.
"There is only a couple of hours left of the day and I would prefer we did not travel at night," said Severus. "We will set out early tomorrow." He looked at Albus. "I will need lodging for the night."
"Of course, you're welcome to reside here."
Severus nodded and stalked off towards the stairs.
Though in some ways it was safer to travel at night, in other ways it was not. He did not want to come across any of the corrupted at night. Although the cover of darkness was better to hide from the Death Eater patrols. But the corrupted were definitely the bigger threat. The way they could sniff out magic... the charms on their packs were both an asset and a liability.
He was not looking forward to this task.
The only good thing about being caught by those wizards four days ago, was the house they had brought her to. It had a library.
She had of course been terrified upon learning they had brought her to London. That was not a place for people like her. Theon had told her as much, and she could clearly remember from her childhood what had happened when she and her parents had come too close to a wizarding settlement.
But the library of this place...she had never seen so many books in one place before. Her parents had taught her to read before their deaths and she had found it was something she very much liked to do.
But in the time since, books were a rarity. In her travels with Theon, she had come across a few in good enough condition to be read, but had been unable to take more than one at the time as she couldn't afford to weigh down her pack too much. Sometimes, if Theon's hunting trips took him into villages or townships, he would bring back a book for her if he found one. She didn't care what it was, she would read it.
Hermione had holed up in the library at Grimmauld for almost the entirety of her stay here, once she had gotten over her anger about being kidnapped.
The regular meals already made for her were something of a luxury too. It was strange to eat a meal that she had not hunted, harvested or helped prepare herself. Kind of nice too, something she could all too easily get used to. But knew she shouldn't. She needed to get back out there, she needed to find Theon. But that would be difficult now.
Dumbledore had told her that once this Snape character got her to Liverpool, it was on to a boat to Dublin, from there to Cork where the Order apparently had a research facility working on a way to reverse the taint to magic. Hermione's magic would help them greatly, having an untainted magical core to work with.
At first Hermione had told him to go screw himself, wizards brought their problems on themselves. However, she couldn't deny there were innocents among them. Dumbledore had really pounded that truth home when he had spoken of the defects magical children were born with, the rise in miscarriages, the sheer amount of men and women losing their children, or about the rise in squibs and how they were disowned and cast out.
That was what had happened to Theon. It was awful. As much as she would like to stick to her guns - after all, wizards truly had brought their problems on themselves - she could not, and had agreed to do what was necessary to help. But he had to find Theon. If he came back and found her gone, he would be worried. Dumbledore had agreed to look for the young man and Hermione had given him a description. She hoped they would be able to find him, then maybe he could come to the facility with her. She didn't want to be alone. Aside from the week or so after her parents deaths, she had never truly been alone. When Theon found her, he was rarely apart from her, and if he wasn't in sight, she knew he would always come back.
Hermione sighed as she sat at the window, watching the rain patter against it. Autumn was here, and it would likely be followed by a harsh winter. What a terrible time to be travelling.
Still, it was kind of nice to be indoors, in a house with a blazing fire and no draughts. In a house that was actually safe from corrupted and dark wizards. The first two nights she had been here, it had been near impossible to sleep. She didn't trust the people here, and that they wouldn't return her pack hadn't inspired much confidence, or that they had confined her to the house.
Eventually, the slow paced days filled with reading and wandering the rather large house had lulled her into a sense of...not quite security, but certainly a lesser level of alertness.
She heard the door of the library open and glanced over to the dark clad figure of her escort to Liverpool. He hesitated a moment upon seeing her there before recovering himself and taking a seat in front of the fire, seemingly content to ignore her presence. So Hermione became determined to ignore his.
Her gaze returned to the window, more specifically what lay beyond it. The sound of the fire was the only sound in the room and the occasional clink of the ice in the mans glass of what was probably Firewhiskey. She had seen Moody drinking that stuff all the time when he was here, he had even given her a taste. She didn't understand the appeal.
"I've never done this before," she said softly.
Turned out she couldn't ignore him as well as he could her.
"What?" Severus asked, glancing over at her.
If she was talking about going outside, beyond the safe zones, he would likely throttle her. He would hope she would at least not be too heavy a burden, that she had some experience.
"Sat at a window before and just watched the outside. It was always too dangerous," she replied.
Severus understood that. It was really too dangerous to stay in one spot over long. And sitting at a window, especially at night with a light source behind you, it wasn't exactly conducive to staying hidden.
"Don't get used to it," he said.
She scowled at him for a second, which was ineffective because he wasn't even looking at her. Dick. She looked back out the window.
"I'm not sure I could even if I had the opportunity."
Silence reigned once again and Hermione didn't attempt conversation this time, much to Severus' relief.