The usual disclaimers apply. There is some pain but certainly no gain. Everything belongs to JKR except the music.


CHAPTER SEVEN

McGonagall Manor – Outside Hermione's room

Ron found it entirely impossible that it could be so easy. He walked in as if he was walking into any shop on Diagon Ally and no one bothered him. No house elves in sight, and no Minerva either. He was banking on the assumption that the Headmistress of Hogwarts would eventually have to leave Hermione's side on some errand or another and to his astonished delight he lucked out. 'Damn lucky she did... I'd rather not have an irate McG on my ass...'

He crept closer to the door he guessed would grant him entry to Hermione's room, sweeping his surroundings furiously with his wand for any trace of protective magic. There was no trace of magic whatsoever. 'Is THIS how McG is keeping Hermione 'safe'? She could bloody well walk out of her room if she pleased...' Ron scoffed. 'at least the door seems to be locked with a key though...'


McGonagall Manor – Hermione's room

Hermione was slumped in an armchair, hugging herself feebly and shivering. 'God, I need that bloody potion...it's the only thing that seems to keep these cursed voices at bay...' She thought to herself miserably. When the horrible apparition disappeared she collapsed in front of the mirror with relief. Her first instinct was to write to Minerva with the Twin Quill but contrary to her hopes the green eyed witch did not appear by her side. 'I guess she's got more important things to do...'

The brunette witch was so caught up in the throes of her misery and self-pity that she did not hear the key turning in the lock of her door so she was caught by surprise when the door opened. She instantly snapped to attention, expecting the familiar form of her mentor and host, but the relief that started flooding her senses was cut short rather abruptly when she realized it was Ron.

"Ron?!" She yelped in shock. "What are you doing here?"

"Hey, 'Mione. I was worried so I came to visit." Ron said tentatively. He remembered McGonagall saying that she was explosive and knew full well that Hermione was capable of wandless magic, so he decided it would be wise to tread cautiously.

The brunette witch on her part wanted to scream at the ginger man to get out. The logical part of her brain, the part that was mustering the remaining dregs of her will to walk the line, knew that in her condition only the most stalwart of characters were safe to interact with. Anything – anyone – less than that was unnecessary temptation. 'God, I can't believe I am actually thinking about Ron as a source of temptation...' Hermione thought to herself miserably.

'Oh come now, girl, lighten up. He doesn't look THAT bad.' The taunting voice replied readily. Hermione pressed her forehead against her knees, vainly hoping that the pressure would mute the voice. 'If only I could drown this blasted voice...maybe Ron could get me some...'

"Mione? You okay?" Ron asked, worry etched all over his face. His blue eyes were trained on the cowering witch's form. As he took a step closer he vaguely wondered if coming here was truly a good idea. 'Nonsense. Of course it was. Just look at her! All cooped up in this room without anyone to talk to.'

Hermione did not respond, mainly because at this point she was more focused on what was happening inside her head than on whatever might be happening outside. For all of her awareness they could have been attacked at that very moment and she wouldn't have moved a muscle. The horrid voice kept telling her to indulge in all the bulging manliness that was so obviously lusting after her. 'I could teach you so much, girl. Just look at that boy's aura. One snap of your finger and he'd willingly become our whipping boy.'

'I don't want a whipping boy, you monster.' Hermione argued. 'Oh great, now I'm talking back to the voices... I NEED MY DAMNED POTION!' She was screwed. There were voices in her head, taunting her and Minerva was nowhere in sight to protect her from them. And on top of that Ron was here. Her lovely but oh so tragically in-love friend whom she wanted nothing of. 'Well, except maybe some potion ingredients.' She knew that she should not be thinking about it but at this point she didn't care for the long term health issues. All she could think of was the wonderful lack of voices that came with the potion.

'Mmm, makes one of us, you know.' The voice's acid commentary reverberated inside her head.

"Hermione, are you okay?" Ron repeated when he got no response. While the female third of their trio, the woman he fell hopelessly in love with, was fighting her internal battle he got close enough to kneel in front of the armchair, struggling to decide if touching the girl would help or aggravate her more.

'Come on, he's ripe for the taking.' The voice egged Hermione on. 'I know you'd prefer that professor of yours...'

'NO! Leave Minerva out of it, you bastard.' Hermione ground out inside her head. She could feel the voice, or whatever the voice belonged to, trying to take over her body again. It wanted to have sex with Ron, wanted to mark him, get him to do its bidding. It was sickening to feel her body go slowly numb to her will. 'It must be getting stronger because the potion is leaving my system...Minerva, where are you? God, I need help.' At this point all she could do was curl into a ball and cling to her legs for dear life. She needed to get Ron out of here before it was too late. A thought slowly formed inside her head. 'One stone, two birds.'

"Ron?" She rasped, struggling to maintain control over her voice. "Ron, I need help."

"Just tell me what you need." Ron said reassuringly. His heart was breaking at the pitiful sight of his beloved Hermione being reduced to such a state.


Minerva McGonagall was allowed to exit the cursed anti-magic bubble on condition that she help Kingsley track the mysterious beast that was supposedly wrecking havoc in England. The only reason she agreed was because of Hermione. While Minerva did not know what Kingsley might be after she was worried that Hermione's odd behaviour might be connected to it. The inexplicable aggression was certainly there.

'Not that an indecent helping of Excessus potions won't do that in itself.' She pondered. But she did not want to take had such severe blackouts that she could have come in contact with it and not know about it...whatever it was.

As she stood from the table where the thin volume of information was spread out she made a mental note to try to learn if the girl was hearing voices. She also thought that perhaps the discoloured flesh ought to be left to Poppy. The mediwitch's outrageous suggestion that she enter into any sort of liaison with the brilliant young witch left her second-guessing her every motive. Or rather it was the fact that she was not completely disgusted by said outrageous idea that left her wondering if she was doing whatever she was for all the wrong reasons. 'Where is this coming from anyway? I've NEVER looked at a student like that...'

"If there is nothing else, Minister, I shall be on my way. Please inform me if you require anything else." She said in a strained voice. She was anxious to get out of the room. Upon Kingsley's nod she all but ran to the door and tore it open.

However, that was as far as she got because the moment she stepped over the threshold of the room her senses were simultaneously assaulted by two very distinct yet interconnected alarms.

[music suggestion: A Serpentine Crave by Bishop of Hexen]

The combination of hideously violent music and the screaming of the danger siren nearly deafened Minerva with the force of their return. 'Hermione!' And if Hermione being in such an anguished state was not enough it further added to her alarm that the blood wards protecting her home came to life and jumped to a maximum defensive state in a heartbeat which could only mean intruders were inside her house.

The Unspeakable agent posted in front of the door immediately came to attention, wand drawn and ready to fire, not only because an unhappy Minerva McGonagall storming out of the room was in itself a nerve rattling sight but also because of the utter terror flashing in said witch's eyes. She stumbled in her stride under the sudden magical attack on her mind and her hand flew to her chest, grabbing a fistful of clothing for a moment.

"Headmistress?" The unknown Unspeakable prompted as his eyes darted back and forth between their surroundings and the formidable witch before him.

"My wand! Where is it?" Minerva all but yelled in her frenzy.

To his credit, the Unspeakable agent wasted not more than a second in producing the requested item along with the odd bit of black parchment that was trusted upon him. As he handed them over to the clearly upset woman Kingsley appeared in the doorway.

"Is anything the matter?" He enquired after having heard the commotion.

Minerva, having glanced at the parchment which read HELP ME in capital letters, did not say a single word. Pulling herself to her full height she gripped her wand and with an explosive bang apparated out of the Ministry of Magic.

The Unspeakable unit who was standing closest to Minerva staggered backwards from the sheer momentum of the magic the ebony haired witch's act required while Kingsley grabbed onto the door frame, his eyes nearly bugging out of his head in shock.

"Minister... I thought what the Headmistress just did was not possible?" The Unspeakable, looking completely thunderstruck, blurted the obvious after a few seconds.

"Apparently there is not much a Head of Hogwarts cannot do, Jordan." The Minister for Magic replied, remembering Dumbledore's unforgettable exit via that Phoenix of his. Then as an afterthought he added "I swear they are going to be the death of me one day."


Minerva wasted no time in apparating to the grounds of her home, she already knew that the threat was inside. Or rather, whoever was foolish enough to break in was either dead or in danger of dying inside. The powerful blood wards of her ancestral home were more than fancy unplotting devices. While it was true that those not welcome could not find the house it also offered literal defence. The Ross family line descended from an age when treachery and secretly premeditated murder were just as common as all out blood feuds and thus more protection was necessary.

Minerva herself only saw the house in action once. She had gotten into a heated argument with a 'family friend' after one of the dinner parties she hosted in an attempt to make the freshly inherited Manor more of a home. When she told the arrogant bastard to get out because he was no longer considered a friend of the family the house literally attacked him. To Minerva's mortification suits of armour stepped off their dais, animal skins seemed to magically inflate and come to life, and the entire house elf staff appeared swarming around him in a menacing crowd. Not knowing what was happening she side-along apparated him out of the house to save his hide because the wards would not even allow him to leave.

In contrast to her exit from the Ministry, her entry into the house was almost silent. She visualized the den from which Hermione's room opened and upon arrival was not surprised to find all of her house elves gathered there, armed with kitchen knives and meat cleavers. Prior to Minerva's entry they were all facing in the direction of the open door of Hermione's room where a pale as death Ronald Weasley stood frozen, but to his credit, with his wand gripped tightly in his hand, steadily trained at the elves.

"Mistress Minerva, Mistress!" Came the distressed voices of her loyal elves as they parted in front of her like water, allowing her closer to the 'threat'. "We not knows how the intruder gots in! The blood wards did not alarm us until after he was inside!" Milly said loudly over the general chatter and earnest avowals.

While the animagus acknowledged her elves with a curt nod and assurances that it was not their fault she only had eyes for the duo in the doorway. Ron, either simply because he was large enough, or because of some misplaced notion of chivalry, had most of the doorway blocked which meant that Minerva could only see a part of Hermione's face and bushy mane of hair. As far as she could tell the girl was in no immediate danger. 'What the bloody hell was that music about then?! And why on Earth does she know about such music?'

"Mr. Weasley. You have one minute to give me a halfway decent reason as to why I should not just allow my elves to remove you from the premises." Minerva said in a controlled tone, each word precisely clipped. Her eyes were cold with rage and the twitching of her upper lip betrayed how much effort it required to keep her decorum.


Meanwhile at the Potters home...

Ginny was just about to leave the house for an evening out Luna, Neville and some other friends when she realized that she forgot to active the housework charms. They always made her wonder how muggle women put up with all the clutter that accumulated throughout the week, knowing that they had to get rid of it the hard way. With their own hands. Flicking her wand absent mindedly, she was done with every household chore in a heart beat.

Her absolute favourite was the one that sorted out the washing. Instead of having to actually go through the piles of clothes to decide what to wash next, then go through it again just to check the pockets for stuff left in them she could flick her wand and all the pockets emptied before the clothes flew into the muggle washing machine they bought. An added bonus was that the contents of said pockets flew into her hands. It was no different this time either and soon she was pocketing spare knuts and sickles while depositing the other bits and bobs on the table. The only item that really caught her attention was a small box. Instinctively her heart started beating faster. 'Is that... oh my god... that's a jewellery box!' It was not bigger than a match box, nothing more could have fit it in than a ring.

She had half the mind to just discreetly put it among Harry's things but curiosity started eating at her soul almost instantly. 'Also, I don't think Harry would actually leave it in his pants pockets if he didn't want me to find it. Maybe the boy-who-lived wasn't brave enough to ask me The Question personally...' Ginny mused, fond thoughts about the bespectacled man rising warmly inside her.

She raised the tiny box closer to her eyes to take a better look. It was nothing fancy, just a small black box. In fact, Ginny realized, it felt like it was made of paper. 'Weird...' Turning the box upside down she noted some tiny markings on the bottom that vaguely resembled writing, but she couldn't make it out. She murmured a spell to enlarge it but contrary to her original intention it grew quite a bit bigger. This was when the red hair realized that she holding a shrunken shoebox in her hand. Sure enough, when she turned it upside down again, the markings revealed themselves to be muggle inscriptions of whatever they wrote on shoe boxes. 'Daaamn... and here I was getting my hopes up...'

Pouting at the false alarm Ginny took the lid off the box, intent on banishing the shoes Harry must have bought and forgot to its proper place, and was promptly shocked into dropping it altogether, letting its contents roll out onto the floor. "WHAT THE BLOODY HELL?" She yelled in shock.


McGonagall Manor

"A walk?" Minerva breathed the words menacingly. "A walk Mr. Weasley? You wanted to take a recovering potion addict for a WALK?" the last word was shouted. It was all the animagus could do to maintain some sort of control over her emotions.

"Now look here, Professor. She was all cooped up in that stuffy room and she had a headache. I thought some fresh air would have done her good." Ron tried feebly. While his excuses were ridiculous at best he could not be denied of being a true Gryffindor for he did not back down, not even when one of the most powerful witches of the century was looking at her as if she wanted to curse him.

Minerva was seething. Did the foolish idiot not realize that Hermione could have given him the slip in the blink of an eye? One of the reasons why she wholeheartedly agreed when Poppy said no visitors whatsoever was because precious few people realized what lengths addicts would go to get their fix.

"Ronald Weasley, if that is what you believe, I will not endeavour to explain to you how abysmally foolish your actions have been, it would be a moot point. You may exit the Manor on foot, after which you will be able to apparate. You can either see yourself out or you can be seen out by my elves. That much you do have a choice in." Minerva stated matter-of-factly. "But do not be fooled into the idea that you can leave with Hermione or conceal yourself to attempt her abduction again. The blood wards will not be quite as kind if you remain on the premises for more than five minutes."

By this point she had willed herself to drop her wand arm to her side for as furious as she was with the ginger haired man she did not want to hurt him. She had nothing to fear at this point, for the wards would not allow either Ron or Hermione to apparate out of the house and the elves still occupying the room would grant sufficient diversion for her to raise her arm again should the need arise.

"I'll find my way out..." Ron ground out. He too was struggling to reign in his own temper. His blood red ears testified that without a doubt. "But this is not the last you've heard of me, Professor. You speak of abduction but it is you who have imprisoned Hermione."

Minerva had not survived active participation in two wars due to lax reflexes or a slow mind. She comprehended the vague threat the moment the words left Ron's mouth and reacted almost instantly. Her wand movements were precise and economic, and the spell was cast silently, the only indication of its success was the soft glow emanating from the tip of her wand.


"Calm down, Ginny,and start again. You were talking faster than a house elf caught doing something naughty." Luna said, trying to get her friend to stop panicking. "What is it that you found in Harry's pockets? And why did you look? Mistrusting your boyfriend is not very healthy for relationships." The combination of her matter-of-fact words and the dreamy tone so characteristic of her had the desired effect.

While Ginny had been pacing back and forth in Luna's and Neville's living room up until that moment the normally composed redhead stopped dead in her tracks to stare at her friend. They'd grown close during the DA meetings and she had eventually learnt to appreciate the blond woman's way of speaking her mind.

"I found a shrunken shoebox in his pockets with a bloody strap-on inside!" Ginny exclaimed.

The blond witch's eyes perceptibly grew larger at the description. "Was it actually bloody or was that just a very unfortunate way of venting your frustration?" Luna asked the seemingly ridiculous question. To the casual observer she seemed to be barking mad, talking about creatures that did not exist and saying the most inappropriate of things nearly all the time, but her close friends had learned that she actually did everything for a reason. Right now her aim was to steer Ginny away from the rout of jumped conclusions by way of asking questions that made her look at the situation from a different angle. Possibly even a funny angle if she could manage it.

"Of course it was just a turn of phrase..." Ginny said, torn between laughing at the absurdity of the question and becoming more frustrated. She knew what Luna was doing and she had half the mind to let her.

"Have you asked him why he got it?" The blond witch enquired.

"Haven't had the chance to grill him about it yet. He'd still been at headquarters when I left the flat." Ginny admitted.

"Well knowing Harry, he is going to be extremely flustered about it. You know how he is with personal topics." Luna suggested. All of a sudden the proverbial lightbulb went on above her head and she dropped a bomb right in the middle of the conversation. "Perhaps he bought it because he wanted you to use it on him?"


The youngest Weasley boy never even realized the fidelius charm that Minerva had cast as he did not bother to look at her while he made his empty threat. Instead he stormed out almost immediately, followed by the house elves whom Minerva dismissed to return to their duties.

"What did you do with Ron?" Hermione asked nonchalantly.

She was still possessed by the voice but her chocolate-turned-black eyes were well hidden by the combination of the dimly lit den and the fact that she was avoiding eye contact.

"I could ask you the same thing, Hermione. What WERE you doing with him?" Minerva countered. She was angry. She had trusted Hermione. 'Suits me fine I guess... I have to stop thinking about her as Hermione, the mature young woman. She's not herself right now. She's an addict...'

What Minerva did not want to deal with just yet was the fact that she also felt extremely guilty. Had she gotten Hermione's message in time perhaps this might not have happened. But she didn't dare acknowledge that out loud. After Agatha's death Minerva took it upon herself to read a few muggle books on recognizing and fighting addiction. In such an early stage of recovery the young witch needed strict rules and consistency. She meant to give no quarter for she knew it must be done.

'This one is going to be a tough nut to crack.' The voice inside Hermione's head mused. 'But if your memories are anything to go by Hermione, you might just be the one to do the trick.'

"What do you want me to say? I screwed up... but where were you when you said you'd be there if I wrote?" The voice made Hermione say. It had a cold, calculating plan, banking on Hermione's knowledge of the older witch's sense of honour and loyalty.

Internally Minerva was crestfallen. Only her cast iron will supported her from being completely consumed by guilt. 'Merlin, and the terrible truth is that she is right. I did promise that I'd come to her rescue. Like some kind of a knight in shining armour...only my armour seems to be rather rusty.'

"I had to enter a room that negated all magic. They even took all magical items off my person beforehand. I'm sorry Hermione." The animagus finally said. "But that does not negate the fact that you tried to escape."

"It won't happen again?" Hermione tried vaguely.

"No, it certainly won't. I've modified the wards of the Manor. The elves and objects will not attack you but they will not allow you to leave the Manor either." Minerva said in her best no-nonsense tone.

Anger flashed in Hermione's eyes as the voice's temper flared upon learning of its imprisonment. 'That's just bloody great...I guess we'll have to find another way out, won't we?'

"Fine." Was all she said and promptly retreated into her room, banging the door behind her.

"Well... I dare say that went well." Minerva said to the empty room.


AN: Okay so I've come out in this chapter. The voices aren't just Hermione going insane. One of them is a sentient being that is trying to take over Hermione. I hope that explains the OOC for the time being. Later on I am going to reveal more (obviously).

How am I doing with Minerva though? FEED THE AUTHOR, please! :)

minor SPOILER ALERT:

The reason there are fewer songs is because I'm temporarily phasing the musical element out of the story in about two chapters but not because I'm tired of looking for songs. The lack of music will be an important plot device later on. You'll see why *winks*