"Need to have a conversation with this one, girl to girl."
Hermione felt her entire body turn cold. Her breath barely passed her parted lips. She didn't dare look away from the obviously insane witch in front of her, Bellatrix's eyes more wild than her black hair, struck deep inside at a carnal fear. The fear, the understanding, that there was a very high possibility that she wasn't going to see another sunrise.
Draco couldn't help but flinch when Bellatrix grabbed a fistful of Hermione's hair ripping her head sideways. His classmate did her best to stay on her feet but a sharp jab of his aunts wand in her side sent her collapsing down to her side. Her scream tore through him like nothing he'd ever felt before. It hurt, it actually hurt.
"What else did you take from my vault!?" Bellatrix's voice was at least three octaves above shrill as she dragged the teen towards the center of the room. To her credit, the mudblood actually tried to fight back. Clawing at his aunt's hand in a vain attempt to be released.
Bellatrix sneered at the very idea of being touched by such a filthy creature and promptly kicked out her heeled boot at the side of Hermione's knee knocking her swiftly down onto her hip. Bellatrix pointed her wand into her throat and hissed another curse.
Hermione choked on the air that attempted to invade her lungs. She couldn't even gather enough to scream. Though the pain was more than immense. Her eyes went wide as she gaped like a fish, trying once more to swear to her innocence. The only thing she was able to produce was an odd choking sound as her body jerked under the curse's effect.
Draco grew more uncomfortable, slowly moving behind a chair beside the fireplace as if by some miracle it would protect him from what he was witnessing. He jumped when Bellatrix released Granger's hair sending her to her hands and knees before the witch.
"We...we...di-dn't take... anything..." Hermione spoke in between desperate gasps for air. Her eyes turning up just in time to see Bellatrix's boot come down hard on her back. Hermione could do nothing more than turn her head to spare her nose. Her body fell down hard against the stone floor. Her hips and legs slowly lowering down after her chest had already hit hard enough to feel something on the inside pop.
"Please..." Tears of pain and shame filled her throat and ran down her face mixing with the hair that shielded from view. "I... didn't take anything!"
"I don't believe you." Bellatrix snarled and used her boot to roll the crying girl over. Her hand reached for her belt pulling out an old cursed blade. "Let's see just how filthy your blood is, that should loosen your tongue!"
Hermione's eyes widened and she tried to kick out as the clearly insane witch made to step over her. The curse came quicker this time and she let out a scream that surely could be heard at the ends of the earth.
Draco recoiled and turned his head away from her horribly twisted frame. His eyes catching his father's thousand yard stare and his mother's shameful gaze.
"Pl-lease!" Hermione's plea was barely heard over the echo inside the room and Bellatrix merely laughed as she lowered herself down over the teen. She pressed her knee down over the hand that had fallen out to the side grinning darkly as she pushed the knife through the fabric of her sleeve.
"I think it's time to remind you just who you're dealing with here mudblood."
Hermione gritted her teeth as a hand pressed her skull hard into the floor. Her entire body felt as though it were slowly burning from the inside out. Though her mind felt numb, almost blank. She tried to think of anything, anything at all that would appease the insanity before her. It was like trying to swim through pudding. Everything thick and foggy.
Draco jolted as Granger's eyes turned up from the floor into his own. A strong feeling of complete and total surrender to the idea of death washed over him. Inside, he pleaded for her to say anything, anything at all so he wouldn't have the nightmare of her death ever present in his waking memory. His heart felt at least a thousand kilometers too fast and his body a hundred stone too heavy.
He couldn't have looked away even though he desperately wanted to. Ambivalently her eyes closed on reflex to the pain that was no doubt clouding her mind, another piercing scream shooting straight from her lips through his chest.
Severus walked the dingy streets keeping his head low and his hood high. The rain was dismal, making the normally crowded streets barren aside from two deatheaters set to patrol the little hovel. He didn't have to worry much about them as his place in the inner circle had been assured by a deed he had most certainly never wanted to carry out. Even still, it had awarded him some privilege, such as being able to leave the school over the Easter Holiday.
Normally, he would have never left its safety knowing that Potter and his little gang of renegades were still running about but news through the grapevine had told him that they had nearly been captured. Dumbledore had begged for him to see to their health but hadn't given him a place to begin searching. So, like the good little pawn he was, he had started with the most ill-conceived place to begin.
Severus knew how the kids who had locked themselves away in the room of requirement were getting in and out, though he had feigned his ignorance over the topic. He knew that it was a logical place to start. If nothing else, he'd have eliminated one possibility of a thousand on his fools' errand.
Just as he was about to make his way down the narrow street his eyes caught a flash of something metal in the small alley between two burnt out buildings. He followed the glimmer and instantly came to a shocked halt.
It couldn't have been, no surely the rain was casting tricks of light. With a glance in either direction to confirm that he was truly alone; he stepped into the small space. His jaw went tight as he bent down on one knee next to a series of sacks that held who knew what.
The smell of their compost inside nearly kept him at bay. He stayed his focus on the metal that had caught his eye before his eyes flicked to the sacks that looked to have been disturbed from their previously stacked manner.
With another glance behind and a charm to make sure he was unseen; he took hold of the end of the metal that just barely peeked out from beneath the refuge. He felt his heart skip when a small hand with thin fingers came out with it. The beds of their nails blue and caked in something reddish brown, not holding on but rather dragged along by the pressure.
His eyes turned following the presumed path of the arm and moved back to his feet with the sword of Gryffindor. He easily stowed the blade into his enlarged inner cloak pocket before leaning over the topmost bag. He held his breath and lifted it away.
His blood ran cold as he looked down into the bloodied face of a girl no older than 19, or rather, what was left of her. Her clothes were torn to shreds all along the left side, as though she'd been tossed through a wheat thrasher. Her face was painted red thanks to the large gash at the crown of her head.
He watched, transfixed, as a large bead of blood ran down into the valley of her nose mixing with another large gash along her cheek before rolling down her jaw into the hole left in her throat that overflowed like an overturned bottle of wine with each slow pulse of what was left of her heart.
Her entire body was soaked with rain and life-essence. His eyes turned down, swallowing thickly at the left side of her body's deep cuts, one particularly deep near her rib, allowed just the faintest white of bone to show through. The blood that still attempted to flow from her barely beating heart stained her clothes from the top of her head down to her trainers.
Severus' lip curled up in disbelief that anyone could possibly be still alive after all her body had gone through. She appeared to have been splinched and cut simultaneously. His brain slowly supplied the name of which he didn't want to admit to knowing.
He leaned back down onto his knee, his fingers trembling with trepidation as pointed his wand towards her throat. He swallowed his fear down, raising the tip to cast the spell to check for any life sign when the bottom of her lashes fluttered every so slightly.
Snape held his breath as he watched her eyes struggle to open. They made it barely 2 millimeters before coming to a stop. His own head tilted down to try and see into them. What stared back at him was worse than the condition he'd found her body in. A deep hopelessness flooded through his entire being as her deep chocolate eyes stared directly into his soul. The right side of her body gave a small jerk as she tried to take a breath, a deep gurgling noise coming from the blood collecting in her chest.
"Miss Granger?" His voice was barely a whisper, mindful that he was still very much in the open. His eyes narrowed as hers seemed to widen marginally to his voice. "Miss Granger, can you hear me?" Another deep choking sound was his response and he turned his head down to look at her chest. Only the right side was moving with its pitiful excuse for breath and he could make out a small bubble near one of the deepest gashes on her rib.
Severus gritted his teeth, wasting precious seconds on what to do. He couldn't leave her there to be found. That much was certain. His eyes lowered down, the horrid gurgling noise rattling the inside of his skull. It was faint, barely over the sound of rain falling around them.
"Agh!" Ron's scream cut off abruptly as he landed face first into the sandy earth. His body gave a heavy shudder before he managed to turn his head to spit up the sand that had filled his open mouth. His fall having been broken by the tree limbs that he'd crashed through on his way down to earth.
"Hermione? Harry?" Ron weakly pushed himself up to his hands and knees. His shirt had been torn to ribbons and fell down around him as he tried to keep his stomach from churning.
He could make out a faint sound off in the distance and tried to crawl his way through the tree line out into the sandy grassland in front of him. His back pulsed as he dragged himself through the sand, his vision tilting on its end.
His head fell down into the dirt as he tried to listen. He was sure she'd just been in his arms, her shaking body held tight to his chest. Her agonizing screams followed him into unconsciousness.
Luna hurried down the small hill that led to the beach, she could see Harry clearly but neither Ron nor Hermione was with him. His back was towards her, hunched over something too small for her to see.
"Harry?" Her voice carried over the wind, "Harry?"
Luna rounded the older boy's shoulder her eyes going soft to the sight before her. Her heart went out to him and she reached down gently closing Dobby's eyes. She said nothing more, simply wrapping her arm around his shoulder.
Severus hissed as his feet landed a bit harder than normal from the portkey. The girl in his arms adding to his normal weight. He shifted his hold trying not to put too much thought into it and moved towards the door leading to his rooms.
With a small push of his foot to open the door, he managed to carry his burden into the brightly lit room and over to the bed. He took the utmost care as he laid her down, taking the time to untangle the mass of wet hair from his arm.
He'd managed a few spells to slow the bleeding and keep her heart steady but now it was time for the real work. Her eyes had remained open but he knew she wasn't presently with him. His eyes ran down the length of her body before he taking to the task of fixing the side of her chest that wasn't rising and falling. The wet gurgling noise had ceased but it had been replaced by an odd popping sound from the back of her throat and a steady stream of blood bubbling over the edge of her parted lips.
He turned away towards his potions cabinet searching quickly for the one potion he didn't carry with him. Essence of Dittany. He'd given her a blood replenishing potion and a pain relieving potion to help get her through the move, he had nearly lost his nerve when he'd found that her tongue had been partially removed. He'd stopped most of the bleeding but hadn't there was no telling how much of the blood she'd swallowed. Now he had to deal with the wounds that were causing most of the problem.
Finding the small clear bottle, he turned back to his new charge. His own prudence notwithstanding he unwillingly banished away what was left of her outer clothes, leaving her in what was left of her undershirt and knickers. His eyes didn't wander as he knelt down beside the bed, clearing away the blood that continued to ooze slowly with each slow heartbeat. His fingers lightly touched along the outer edge of the cut along her ribs before he pressed his wand tip into the space between. A small twist and a whispered spell started a small stream of blood that followed the tip of his wand. He shifted and sent the fluid down onto the floor before turning his eyes back to her chest.
Her breathing hitched for a long moment before both sides of her chest started to rise. At its peak, Severus canceled the spell and used the dropper on the bottle to place just a small enough amount over the hole that had been in her lung.
As the muscle and skin started to knit back together he cast a glance at her face only to find that she still wasn't with him. He pursed his lips and pushed the remains of her undershirt out of his way setting to work on closing all the less significant wounds. It was slow, but the potion did its job, neatly closing everything it touched with hardly a mark to show for it.
By the time he had made it down to her legs her body had started to shudder from the loss of blood that had managed to seep down into the bedsheets. He turned away, once more calling three more blood replenishing vials into his hand. He moved back towards her head when her body gave a sudden jerk.
Her eyes that had been cracked, suddenly went wide, her back arching from the bed as her face twisted with pain. It took Severus only a second to realize her body was going into a seizure. An after effect of being under the cruiciatous curse for far too long.
He let out a low curse turning away just as her eyes rolled completely back into her head. The scream he had expected to accompany her torment, however, never came.
When he turned back, his eyes went to her face watching as her mouth opened but did not make any sound aside from rasped broken bids for air. His brow furrowed deeper and when the seizure passed, collapsing her bonelessly back into the bed; he pushed her head to the side taking note of the deep bruise starting to come to the surface around her larynx. With the blood cleared away he could see a rather deep cut to the cartilage protecting her voice box. Thankfully, whatever did the damage missed all vital veins on her thin neck.
Snape let out a heavy breath pulling the stopper from the bottle of his own personal muscle relaxant. Something he created to combat the curses longer effects. He tapped his wand to the rim before leading a small line of the potion through her barely parted lips. He knew she couldn't swallow in her state and did as he had before leading it down into her stomach.
When the last of it left the bottle, he let it fall to the side before moving into sealing the minor cuts that hadn't needed the dittany. With her jumper gone and her arms exposed he started to clear away the rest of the blood that had stained her skin.
As he came to her left arm he paused, gently taking her wrist in his fingers. Turning her forearm gingerly, his eyes narrowed at the cursed engraving left upon her skin. The blood still bubbled to the surface held open by the blade's lingering magic. The words left behind churned his stomach and he forced himself to look away.
His eyes closed tight as his own experience with the word hit him full force like a baseball to the back of the skull. His grip tightened and it wasn't until the small bone of her thin wrist popped in his hand, did he realize what he'd done.
"That's it, easy now."
"Where's Hermione? She was with us, I had her... I had her in my arms..." Ron was rambling, barely able to make a clear enough thought. Simply repeating his words over and over. Bill had found him on the very edge of the property passed out in his own sick. By the time they got him and Harry inside the redhead had come round again.
"Fleur is out looking for her now, we found you a good ways away from Harry... we're going to keep looking but right now I need you to lay down so I can take a look at your back."
Ron repeated his mantra but did as he was told, lying face down on the soft couch. His eyes turned to Harry who looked nothing but haunted, his shirt stained with blood that didn't appear to be his own.