Author's Note:

Whelp, I feel a bit bad about this more-than-a-year-to-arrive update.

I had to re-read my story several times to just remember where I was going!

I hope you all enjoy this update!

Draco entered the room with Lucius, a petrified and nervous look on his face as his eyes flicked to the bed where Hermione lay, and then back to Snape. He had never seen his dour Professor look quite so frazzled, tired, and scared.

Severus looked to Tom for further instructions as Lucius and Draco came to stand near the head of the bed next to him.

"The spells we will need to cast over her to remove the blocks and glamours needs to be bolstered with a large amount of magical power," Tom stated, "Each of you will cast the "imperium tribuo" spell directly onto me".

Tom waved his wand in a half-circle, followed by a small twist of his wrist and then the other half of the circle. "This is the motion you will make when you cast," he explained as the three drew their wands to practice the motion as Tom continued to speak. "This will project a blue line between your wand and my body. I will be able to access your magical reserves when necessary to allow me to focus more power into certain parts of the blocks that need to be broken", he continued, "Each of you will take a pepper-up potion prior to our casting to boost the reserves that you have. For Lucius, the drain will feel slightly painful, as your magic will not want to share with Hermione or myself because we do not share any bonds given by magic. Draco and Severus, you will each feel drained, but your magic will be easily shareable because of the bond that you share with Hermione".

Tom gently lifted one of Hermione's hands. "I will have her hand in mine to channel our shared magic into her while I cast with my other hand. If you tire, you mustn't drop your wand. Each of you should find a place you can sit, should you need, as the casting may last several hours. If you remove your wand from the spell casting, we may have to start over, but it would be dangerous to interrupt the casting, it could permanently damage her core, so please use great caution."

Severus flicked his wand to summon the two velvet wingtip chairs that were nestled by the room's fireplace. Lucius positioned one at the foot of the bed, the other near Severus.

"Draco," Severus let out a small sigh as he addressed the boy. "You should sit next to her at the head of the bed. Your soul bond with her will allow you close connection with her magic."

Draco climbed onto the mattress, and Severus gently lifted Hermione's head so Draco could slide himself against the headboard, her head resting gently in his folded legs, a small scowl crossing Severus's face as he realized that this boy, so innocent now, would become so much more to the girl he only just got back into his life.

When all parties arranged themselves around the small sleeping girl, Tom raised his wand. "Imperium Tribuo" Draco, Severus, and Lucius all cast the spell, three blue threads twisting outwards to connect with Tom's chest. Tom inhaled deeply, steadying his nerves before taking Hermione's hand in his while casting a series of complex spells and runes over her body.

The cages and locks that were previously glowing burst into bright light, fighting against the power that was being imbued into them.

"We will start at the top," Tom intoned, focusing on a red lock over Hermione's head, "This is the strongest of the glamours on the girl." The lock was shaking as the magic began swirling around the lock wildly. Hermione's head thrashed on Draco's lap, and he used his free hand to smooth her hair off her face. The room grew quiet with the exception of small whimpers that occasionally arose from the throat of Hermione. After nearly thirty minutes, Tom was sweating as the locks shattered, causing a great gasp to choke out of Severus's throat.

Hermione, while still slightly pale, had a fresh slightly tan hue to her skin. the freckles that had previously spattered her face darkened, becoming more prominent. Her lips thinned slightly, resembling his own and her hair... the soft curls the same as the ones he remembered from her infancy, a darker shade of brown closer to black. She looked like a young version of her Mother, and Severus felt the crack in his heart that he'd been guarding start to split as he swallowed thickly, before looking back to Tom.

Tom, a thin sheen of sweat on his brow, nodded his understanding to Severus, before pointing at the next glamour that lingered over her upper left arm. "I am not sure why a child would need a glamour over just one portion of her arm, but let us see to this, and we can start working on the magical blocks, next", he said.

As the power of the spell flowed into the second glamour, causing the shaking of the lock, Severus held Hermione's hand tightly in his free one, his brow furled in confusion when the lock broke several minutes later. There, on the inside of her bicep, a brand. At first, he wondered if this were similar to his own Dark Mark, a spell to call, track, and receive power and commands. But as he let go of her hand to trail his finger along the mark, he felt his rage grow.

The mark was a burn. One intentionally not healed by magic so that it would scar permanently and roughly, a small bird carved into her flesh. He had no doubt of what this was, what it symbolized, but could not imagine why the Order of the Pheonix would choose to brand an infant they had kidnapped.

"Severus", Lucius spoke gently, aware as well that the problems ahead of them continued to grow, "let us focus our energy on one thing at a time". The Potions Master itched with rage as his magic prickled under his skin as shame grew within him that he was not able to protect his child from this.

Tom turned his focus towards the massive gold cage surrounding Hermione's core, thick lines sprawling out from the bars to entangle with the entirety of her body.

"She will not feel pain from this, but it will surely exhaust each of you. This block is large and imbued with power from Albus Dumbledore, so I imagine it will not be easy to break through," he continued, " If you feel tired please rest your body but do not break your wand connection with me as it will surely mean the death of her magical core if you do. Draco, while she cannot physically feel this, her body may react. you may help hold her steady, but use caution with your wand." Draco gulped as he nodded.

Tom squared his shoulders before focusing his energy on the large cage. After several minutes, Hermione began to whimper and Draco shot a look at Severus, the man had fear etched across his face and at that moment Draco understood that Severus must be fearing that Hermione may not make it through.

Draco knew Hermione was powerful and strong. He'd hated thinking that this wisp of a girl, born to muggles could have somehow been stronger and more capable than him, a pureblood. Sitting here with her head in his lap, Draco knew that the power she would have would be massive.

After an hour, Hermione's body had begun shaking and Lucius had lowered himself into his chair, his head tilted back and his eyes closed as he gripped his wand wrist in his other hand to hold his own spell casting stable. Severus had sweat trailing down his temple, pooling slightly into his hair. Draco's free hand rested gently against Hermione's forehead, his back slumped against the headboard. Each of them looked at Tom when he let out a sharp laugh.

"The fool," he laughed quietly. Severus arched a brow in question. "Dumbledore left out a crucial step in the casting of this block. When I studied this in Albania, the shaman explained that each caster had to pour their blood into the casting, Albus did that. That's common knowledge in the few texts that describe the practice. But, each caster has to add something else. This kind of spell comes with a barter. You have to give something up in order to power the spell. The most common was some piece of familial magic, they would give their skill in wand-making, like so many families did, for example. This is why there are so few wandmaker shops left, the practice died with the families casting of the spell. The knowledge was still there but the trait was removed. Albus is much too selfish to give up anything precious - not after already losing Grindewald and Ariana. He left the spell unfinished."

"What does that mean?" Severus asked, hoping it would mean the blocks would be easier to remove.

"This must be why she still has magic," Tom explained, "I couldn't understand how she was still able to cast a spell with these blocks on her core. Albus not finalizing the spell must have caused splinters in the caging of her core, allowing some of her magic to seep through. It will still be difficult to break the core block, but the work is already started for us, we don't have to find a way in, there is a door we just have to pry in."

With a sharp nod of his head, Tom thrust his wand into the gold cage. The blue threads of magic between Tom and the other three men throbbing as magic poured through them. Lucius was breathing heavily, nails biting into his own skin as he struggled to hold himself steady. Hermione's body thrashed against the sheets, Severus using his free hand to hold her shoulder as Draco held the other.

After several long minutes, a loud cracking sound filled the room, Tom gave his wand a final thrust and the golden cage exploded.

Tom hit his knees hard on the floor next to the bed, head dropping into his hands as he gulped in lungs full of air. Lucius collapsed back in his chair, eyes closed and wand dropped. Severus stood staring down at the girl in the bed, soaked in sweat with hair plastered across the sheets and the boy holding her head in his hands.

The gold thread between them pulsed brightly, the freed magic within Hermione traversing the distance between them.

The thread leading away burned gold brightly, orbs traveling only one way, out of Hermione, but not back in.

Across the sea, in a dark corner of a stone building resting firm against the crashing waves, Rabastan Lestrange sat slumped on his cot, a strange magic filling him. His soulmate bond, he was sure. He'd begun to wonder if he'd ever feel that bond thrumming but the power spilling through it filled him with warmth, blazing his skin as it seeped into him.

As he closed his eyes, h knew he needed to find a way out of this wretched prison.