She woke, curled on her side in complete darkness. She felt around for her wand and tried to remain calm when she couldn’t find it.
Hermione. Her husband’s voice was thick with desperation. Where are you? Are you injured? What happened?
I’m not sure. I hurt all over. She took a deep breath and reached out with her magic. After a few seconds of taking stock of her body, she heaved a sigh of relief. I’m okay. Just sore and stiff. How long have I been out?
Two days. We have been searching everywhere. Do you know where you are?
I don’t know. It’s completely dark. I can’t see anything. Maybe some kind of cellar? It smells damp and musty.
Do you remember what happened? Did you see who did this?
No, he was behind me again. Is anyone else missing?
No, everyone is accounted for.
As they continued to talk, she felt around the room. The floor was dirt, the walls stone. In the corner, she found a jug of what seemed to be water and a bag of crisps. There was no sign of a door or any type of light. Several hours later, she sat propped against the wall eating the crisps. Screaming didn’t help. No one had responded and she couldn’t hear any movement. No sound at all penetrated the walls so she hummed to herself just for the noise. She was grateful for the connection with Severus. She thought she would’ve gone mad otherwise. Eventually, she lay on her side and drifted back to sleep.
She was awakened a while later by a light above her. She kept her face in the shadow, trying to see who it was. More food and water were lowered into the cell. When the door began closing again, she called out.
“Who’s there?” Her voice was hoarse from screaming. “Why are you doing this?”
“Because you’re a traitor,” came a familiar voice. The door opened again and the figure moved into the light.
“Neville!? How could you?” She opened the connection so Severus could hear and see what was happening.
“I tried to tell you, Hermione. February was a warning.”
“What are you talking about? Warning about what?”
“About who to trust. First, you befriend that bastard Snape, then you go and start fucking Draco Malfoy,” he yelled. “They haven’t changed, Hermione! I never thought you of all people would betray us.”
“SHUT UP!” he screamed down at her. “They made our lives miserable. They made my life miserable. Now just because they said they’re sorry, you get all cozy with them? They should be punished.” He stood with his chest heaving for a moment. When he spoke, his tone was mild again, as though they were just chatting over breakfast. “You think your little Death Eater boyfriend cares about you? He hasn’t even come looking at Hogwarts, not that they’ll ever find you. I guess Mudbloods really are stupid.” He shrugged and slammed the door.
I can’t believe it. How could he? Neville of all people. She cried herself back to sleep. Nothing Severus said made any difference.
She spoke with Severus when she woke. They had gone looking for Neville. He had left Hogwarts in the night without a trace. All his belongings were gone from the dorm and no one had any idea where he’d gone. They searched his grandmother’s house, but she’d not seen nor heard from him in months. She had known that he still harbored an irrational hatred of Snape and that he’d been a little erratic, but she was shocked and appalled that he’d do something so terrible.
Hermione tried to get a few fitful hours of sleep while she thought of something to do. At that point, she could only hope that Neville would even come back. All of her friends were in search parties looking for her, but he was right, they might not find her in time. He’d kidnapped her, but how far would he go to punish Severus and the Malfoys? Would he kill her outright? Just stop feeding her? Only time would tell.
When Neville finally showed up again, she tried to engage him in conversation. He had no idea she could communicate with Severus so maybe he’d just tell her where she was hidden.
“Neville, I am sorry you think I’m a traitor,” she said soothingly. “I just didn’t want to fight anymore.”
“Save it, Hermione,” he said shortly.
“What are planning to do with me?”
“Where am I?”
“Somewhere they’ll never find you.”
“Are you sure, Neville? Harry can be quite single-minded about these things.” She was running out of patience with his vague answers so she decided to try baiting him.
“Not without his Know-it-all.”
“But he’s the Chosen One.”
“Really? Where was the Chosen One last year while I was protecting the school and getting my arse kicked every day by your precious Snape and his minions? He was on a lovely camping holiday with his friends.”
“Neville, please just let me out. We can talk about this. I’m starting to get sick down here.”
She’d had nothing but stale crisps and water for three days and she was quite certain she was going to vomit soon. She looked down at the bag he’d tossed on the ground, seeing it for the first time in the light.
French! It’s written in French! I must be in France!
“Sorry, Hermione. You made your choice.” The door closed again, leaving her in darkness.
By that time the next day, she had started vomiting. She laid on the ground, curled on her side, a little delirious from dehydration. She was humming and rubbing her stomach when the light fell across her. She mumbled something about Teddy turning off the lights and then slipped into unconsciousness. She thought she heard Severus saying something to her from far away, but she couldn’t understand.
Sometime later, the light came again.
“Teddy, what did I say about leaving the lights on?” she muttered, turning away.
“Shhh...I’m here,” someone whispered. She snuggled against the warmth suddenly surrounding her.
“Teddy, are you wearing Severus’s shirt? You know he won’t like that.” The darkness chuckled softly.
She regained some bit of lucidity when she was pulled from the cellar and laid on something soft. Her heavy eyelids would only allow her to see that there were many figures around her, but she couldn’t focus enough to identify who they were. A hand slid into hers.
“Harry,” she whispered, eyes closed against the light. “Who...Where...?”
“Professor Snape is Flooing Madam Pomfrey to have her get a bed ready. There’s some Aurors here with us...and Lucius Malfoy. Draco is outside with more Aurors.”
“All in good time, Hermione, dear,” Lucius said from across the room. “Just relax.” She tried to open her eyes, but she was just so tired. She felt Severus come near to where she was lying.
“Miss Granger,” he said, his voice strained. He bent close to her. “I am going to carry you through the Floo.”
“No. Don’t touch me.” She felt him freeze next to her. “I got sick on myself.”
“I cleaned it up.” He picked her up and carried her through the green flames. He laid her on the bed and Madam Pomfrey began fussing over her. Just before falling asleep, she heard the Aurors ask Severus and Harry into the hallway.
She opened her eyes to find the familiar white ceiling above her and heaved a great dramatic sigh. She didn’t have to look around to know Harry was there.
“Under normal circumstances, I’d say you couldn’t possibly squeeze in another trip to the hospital before graduation, but with your luck this year, I’m not so sure.”
“Ugh. What time is it?” she grunted, stretching.
“What day is it?”
“Friday,” Harry laughed.
“At least I didn’t miss graduation.” Her hand felt stiff and she was surprised to see it bandaged. “When did I hurt my hand?”
“You didn’t,” Harry explained. “With you unconscious for two days, the Notice-Me-Not kept slipping. Pomfrey didn’t find it odd to find me bandaging your uninjured hand so I assume McGonagall told her something.”
“McGonagall’s got him busy with all the guests coming for the ball tomorrow to keep him distracted. I’m to let him know the moment you wake up.” He started to get up then sat back down, giving her an odd look. “I suppose you aren’t going to tell me exactly how, right in the middle of searching Augusta Longbottom’s house for the third time, he suddenly knew you were in France.”
“No, probably not,” she said with smile and a shrug.
“Didn’t think so.”
“Where was I?”
“One of their old family homes. Belonged to his grandfather’s family. Finding it was easy once we knew the country. Getting in was more difficult. We had to find someone in the family to break the wards. Old blood wards. Augusta was married in so she couldn’t do it.”
“So you called Draco? I’m sure Neville was ecstatic.”
“How on earth do you know these things?”
“The library of course, Harry,” she laughed. “The one at Grimmauld Place. Haven’t you ever looked at the rest of Sirius’s family tree?”
“Never paid much attention. Gave me the creeps, especially after he died.”
“You’ll find the Blacks were related to a lot of other families.”
“The Weasleys...and the Potters.”
“You’re right. I should really go to the library more often,” he said, a little bewildered.
“I’ve been waiting eight years to hear you say that, Harry.”
A/N: So sorry to be gone for so long. I always mean to come back to it but I didn't think it would take five months. Just a few more finished chapters left unless I feel like writing more. Thanks all for your continued support and reviews!