After a half hour of debating whether there could be a horcrux in Bellatrix's vault and what it could be, Hermione could barely keep her eyes open. Harry was the first to notice and it was decided that they would discuss more, later that evening.
Hours later, Hermione awoke again to the feeling of pain: the after effects of her torture with Crucio and some pain from Severus. She gritted her teeth and pushed it to the side as she got out of bed and made her way down stairs to the kitchen.
She was heavily leaning on the door jamb as her friends jumped up to help her to a seat and berate her for not remaining in bed.
"I am fine." Hermione sighed when she realized she needed her beaded bag which was probably up in her room. "Do you know where my bag is? And my wand?"
"I will go get them" Ginny said as she stood.
When she returned, Hermione thanked her. She took her wand out and cast silencing wards around the kitchen. "Now, we need to discuss what we are going to do next."
Hermione listened to Harry speak while she dug around her bag to make sure everything was in there.
Three heads turned at the sound of Hermione's gasp. She pulled out a second wand from her bag and recognized it immediately. Bellatrix Lestrange's wand!
"It's- it's her wand." Hermione immediately dropped it on the table.
All conversation halted as they examined the wand that had caused so many people so much pain.
Hermione suddenly felt light headed and when she reached her hand up to her forehead blood flowed down her arm from her bandages; Ginny gasped and quickly left the room before returning with Fleur. Harry had deactivated the silencing wards and was digging
around in Hermione's bag for something before finally crying an "accio blood replenishing potion" and catching the small bottle. Fleur and Ginny were working on replacing the bandages and trying to slow down the flow of blood while
Harry had handed Ron the bottle, since he was closer, to coax Hermione to drink it.
After a few minutes, the flow slowed and Hermione had some of her color back.
Harry was the one to break the silence "Hermione, you need to go."
"I can't." She used her uninjured hand to rub her forehead.
"Why?" This time it was Ginny who spoke.
"Because it isn't safe; besides I can help you guys still."
Harry replied, "Not like this you can't. Hermione, you need to go and do whatever you need to in order to heal. We should plan on a date and place to meet back up." Everyone nodded their head in agreement. Fleur quietly
left them alone in the room. "How about three weeks from today? We will meet at… at Hogwarts."
"You're right, Harry; Hogwarts would be the next place to look." Ginny said.
"Exactly. So, take three weeks, heal, think about alternate ways to destroy the horcruxes and then we will find a way to meet up at Hogwarts." Harry stared at Hermione while she bit her lip. "Deal?"
"I- oh alright. Deal." Hermione agreed. Then a thought crossed her mind and she knew it could help her but be an issue to Harry. "Harry, I need the map." Hermione said cautiously.
"But if we have it, we can find you quickly once we go there to meet up."
"Actually… Harry, the map doesn't show my location. Dumbledore knew it would show who my husband was if you looked at it, so… well he altered it."
"Harry, just give Hermione the map." Ginny said when she saw her husband's shock and disbelief.
"What if something happens to you? What if Snape or his death eater cronies catch you? We won't know where to find you!"
"Trust me, Harry; she will be fine." Ginny stated dryly. At Hermione's pointed look, Ginny continued to placate him, "Hermione is smart; she won't get caught."
"Besides, Harry, with the map it will be easier to meet up with you since I'll be by myself."
Harry narrowed his eyes, but finally released a sigh, "Fine I will go get it."
"Thank you, Harry."
He nodded as he went to go get his treasured item.
Later that day, Hermione and Severus used their bond to discuss a plan to meet. He would keep the Carrows busy while Hermione would follow his instructions on how to enter through a secret passage into Hogwarts, accessible only to a headmaster and
his family. Only first she had to apparate to the correct part of the Forbidden Forest and find the entrance that she had never seen before.
"All passages are closed," he frowns in thought, "except…"
He smirks, "you won't like it"
Although he cannot see it, she scowls with an eyebrow raised.
"There are tunnels from the middle of the forest that, through a series of passageways, lead directly into the castle."
"Where does it come in at?"
"Into the headmaster's bed chamber… and a variety of halls near common rooms and staff quarters."
"Those lecherous bastards." Hermione said as the implications became clear.
"I told you, you would not like it."
"I cringe to think if Dumbledore used it."
Severus cringed as well before it turned into a bittersweet smile. "Just be wary of the Carrows. They do not know of the passageways, but lurk in many areas the passages open to."
"I will. See you soon, love."
It took Hermione over an hour to find the passageway in the forbidden forest. The spooky noises and movements did not make her long search go by any quicker. In fact, she nearly kissed the stone floor once she found the entrance to the passageway.
The surrounding growth and natural encasement of the entrance showed that the passageway had not been used in many years. Thus her difficulty in finding it.
After repeatedly cleaning cobwebs out of her hair manually, since her wand was occupied with lumos, Hermione could tell the exact moment she breached Hogwarts Castle. It suddenly became much cleaner, and slightly better lit. The first "outlet"
she came upon was near the kitchens, and therefore near Hufflepuff common room. There was a portion of the wall she could see through and across the hall to a continuing path. However once she stepped out, her view of the passageway disappeared.
She knew where to go through, so she quickly crossed the hall and passed through the wall and kept on her way.
The passageway did, in fact, lead through corridors near every house common room and where she assumed professor's quarters were. She heard Filch talking to Mrs. Norris in one corridor,
but she moved quickly and was not discovered. When she finally reached the door at the end of the passageway, she sighed in relief.
Hermione was disappointed to know Severus was not on the other side of the door.
I will be there soon.
Hermione smiled to herself, you better be. After entering, she tiredly settled on the couch. Being separated from her soul mate for so long had left her unsettled and emotionally fatigued.
Add that to her current injuries, and Hermione was near her limit. The fact that she would no longer be separated from Severus for such long periods of time had began to appease her heart, but she would not truly begin healing until he
was present in the room with her.
It was an hour before the headmaster was able to escape to his chambers and properly greet his wife. And when he finally entered, it was to embrace a happily sobbing witch in his arms.
He gave her stronger potions than what she had been given prior, but some scars are too strong, even for a budding soul bond to fix.
Laying in bed, after passionately reestablishing their bond, the two ran their hands over the marks left on their left arms.
"We match now"
"Hermione, I think we hardly match. My disgusting mark was chosen, and a regret; your mark was forced upon you. It is a disgusting word, but you are far from disgusting."
"You really feel you weren't forced to take the mark? From what you've told me, and how I know you, there really was not a choice in the matter even if you weren't physically held
at wand point. That is why you told your sister not to take the mark and to run." She caressed his cheek, "and you are far from disgusting as well."
Hermione was unsure if that meant he was too tired to argue, did not believe her, or was simply thinking it over. Regardless, she reached up and kissed him.
Unfortunately, Severus was required to leave and attend dinner. When he returned, he ordered Hermione a meal and they sat by the fire and began to discuss a plan on what they could use
to destroy the horcruxes now that the sword of Gryffindor was lost to them.
AN: hopefully I have time to work on the next chapter soon. The end chapters are all done.