Limp. Shuffle. Limp. Shuffle.

"I don't like this, Harry." Hermione Granger muttered quietly to her best friend. Harry heard the words from his faithful companion but could not bring himself to listen to her words' deeper meaning. Let's get out of here, Harry. I have a horrible feeling that this is a trap. That is precisely what Hermione meant.

No, Harry Potter chose to ignore his wiser and smarter cohort in favor of finally quenching his desire to know for sure what Dumbledore had really been all about. He also hoped to learn about the parents he lost so long ago. His desires overrode his own sick feeling at following the barely able to walk old lady, whom the Wizarding world knew as the most prominent historian in a century.

Limp. Shuffle. Limp. Shuffle. Right into a filthy house that smelled of cats and rodents. Darkness enveloped the room but the mess was still visible, if not fully comprehended. Hermione held Harry's hand firmly in her own and refused to show any expression on her undoubtedly beautiful face. Harry had to admire her consistent strength. Even if was the strength not to vomit at the putrid stench that was infiltrating his nostrils.

Bathilda Bagshot glanced over her shoulder and pierced Harry with her gaze in a meaningful manner that Harry took to mean that she wanted to speak to him alone. And sure enough, Bathilda began to 'limp, shuffle' her way up the stairs clearly seeking privacy with the Boy-Who-Wouldn't- Quite-Die. Harry squeezed Hermione's hand and looked into her hazel eyes communicating silently as they always did. Being best friends, being the two that the other knew would never abandon them (unlike their own benign version of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-coughRoncough.)

Hermione understood Harry's look as she always did and squeezed his hand back before letting go and stepping away from him. She shot him one last look before she turned her eyes away and tried to take in the disaster that was Bathilda's home. Harry, meanwhile took his leave and quietly made his way up the stairs, listening to Hermione making her way across the room, moving piles of books and parchment as she went. He could hear Bathilda's distinct footsteps in a room down the hall from the top of the steps and she slowly made his way over to the half-ajar door while taking in his surroundings with a practiced eye. He knew she was old, but really, how did one live in filth such as this?

As Harry gently opened the door with a loud creak, he took in Bathilda's withered form staring out the large window in front of her. He hoped she would speak, to tell him anything of the things he needed to know. He hoped she would turn around and hand him the sword he so desperately need to end the pieces of Voldemort's soul that were stashed in objects of untold historical wealth. Mostly he just hoped that the awkward silence would end. He hated awkward silences.

"Have you got anything for me?" Harry asked, taking matters into his own hands and handling the dreaded silence. Bathilda turned her head sharply and grinned crookedly, almost maniacally.

"Over here." She whispered, and was it Harry or did she sound wheezy? Or hiss-y. Like she had a lisp. Hmm… She must be missing some teeth. A gnarled, oddly blue finger pointed to the corner closest to the window and Harry stepped forward and towards an oddly shaped pile of what looked like… filthy clothes and fuzzy socks and was that glinting metal? Before Harry could grin and leap at the smelly pile he felt odd emotions rip through him. Sadistic satisfaction and murderous glee. What in the hell? His steps faltered but he realized he was close, too close to the now dissolving Bathilda Bagshot. Skin was torn apart as oddly clotted blood splattered all over the walls and landed on him. Bones fell away with the skin and a strange hollow thump sounded as Bathilda's skull hit the ground.

"Harry?" Hermione was running towards him, and he wished she wouldn't. He was frozen in horror as the situation's reality hit him. An odd thought flitted into his head, From now on, I don't care if Hermione tells me to hop up and down like a rabbit while singing YMCA, I'm gonna do as she says and listen to every word that comes out her mouth as if it were from Merlin himself!

He saw the large and slimy snake body rising and preparing to strike but felt powerless to stop it. He felt like he was having an out of body experience, like he was in a time and place that wasn't five steps away from being eaten by Voldemort's killer pet. He was seeing things that happened sixteen years ago. Things he had heard whenever Dementors got too close. He saw the images that accompanied the voices and he was lost in the memories that came from a demented killer.

He was coming.

Voldemort was coming and he wanted Harry good and distracted so there was no chance of escape. Nagini's eyes held Harry in the trance that could get him caught and killed.

Voldemort's plan was perfect. Use Harry's emotional weakness against him. Lure him to Godric's Hollow where he once lived, where his mentor and headmaster once lived and then pounce once Harry found his way into the sticky web of his nefarious plot. What Voldemort failed to plan for, what he himself would never understand, was the loyalty of Hermione Granger. As Voldemort was apparating from random point to point in order to avoid detection her recalled the rumors that Ronald Weasley had been spotted alone once in Diagon Alley in the last week. He assumed that the trio had split up, because after all the blood traitor family was known to be loyal to a fault and if the red headed son of bitch abandoned the Potter brat, the mudblood must have surely defected first. Mudbloods were filthy, after all, not brave. But alas, Voldemort would forever underestimate Hermione Granger, to his own detriment, because five seconds before his arrival into Bagshot's home Hermione foiled his plan. Again.

Hermione flew into the dark room, taking in the scene that left her with only one or two options, neither very appealing. Harry seemed locked in a trance, his face twisted with pain, while his body was covered in globs of decaying blood. She saw a snake, Nagini she surmised, looming over him holding his gaze and instantly Hermione knew that this was the trap she felt was coming. She ignored every instinct to run and leaped in front of Harry and grabbed him, dragging his unresponsive body towards the window.

Nagini, seeing her prey being snatched away roared and struck at the tall girl, sinking her fangs into Hermione's side. Hermione screamed in pain while still throwing her body (and Harrys since she was clutching him to herself) out of the closed window. Shards of glass cut the two teens, some embedding themselves into their skin as they tumbled from the second story window.

And this was the scene that Voldemort apparated into. A brunette witch cradling his foe while flying out of the window with his Nagini stuck to the same witch, fangs releasing their poison into her system. He was sure he would still triumph and with even more ease than he anticipated because let's face it, how well could anyone fight after falling out of a second story window with snake venom coursing through their veins. An evil grin worked itself onto his face before it abruptly stilled and slid off. His deathly pale skin almost seemed to flush as he ran over to the window to gaze outside. The low lights that came from the first story of the dilapidated house were enough to confirm what he had already guessed. The tell-tale sound of apparition really did sound out into the cold December air. He really had lost his chance at killing the Boy-Who-Wont-Fucking-Die. To compound matters his precious Nagini was also missing.

Voldemort cursed himself for imparting a piece of his precious soul into his beloved pet. He held no illusions as to what would happen to his pet; wherever that mudblood decided to take her cargo his soul-ridden pet would either die or have a hell of a time trying to get back to him. Either way, it was a loss felt most deep. Voldemort comforted himself with the solid knowledge that even if his darling creature perished, no one would realize the significance. After all, the secret of his horcruxes was one that was guarded jealously by himself. No one knew. No one suspected. He was still safe from the one thing that he feared beyond measure, death.

This small comfort did not overshadow his anger in the least and he let out a guttural scream of rage into the night. The house rattled ominously with his outburst but the sound was lost among the howling wind. No one in Godric's Hollow would be the wiser as to the cataclysmic events that transpired there that night.

With one last dark look around the destroyed room, he turned on his heel (grinding a bit of Bathilda's sternum under his boots) and apparated away.


Where Hermione was going, even she did not know. Her last thought as she felt herself free-falling out of the window was a single word: Safety. She knew that in apparition a firm destination in mind was necessary, and a firm destination usually meant a picture clearly embedded in your mind's eye as well as the name of the location. Her single word and lack of picture would surely mean that splinching and failing to find a safe location were the likely outcomes to her half-assed apparition attempt. But she could almost not find it in her to care. After all she still held Harry's dead weight against her and the evil fucking snake seemed to be stuck into her side.

She felt the snakes fangs sink deeper as the sensation of being sucked into a tube (damn apparition) permeated her being. If she were able to breathe she would be screaming in pain. Harry seemed to be able to breathe fine as he decimated Hermione's eardrums with his pained wails. She doubted Harry had been bitten, so she correctly assumed the pain was linked to Voldemort. It usually was.

Suddenly she felt her body smack into soft earth, though its softness did nothing to ease her pain. She drew what little air she could into her lungs (Harry had landed on top of her rather painfully) and screamed out the pain she had bottled up in the minutes long apparition attempt. She felt more than saw Nagini rip its fangs from her side and gasped as she felt her blood, most likely mingled with venom, flow from her side. Her eyes were hazy, the poison from the bite surely taking a hold of her system. She thought she could make out the blasted snake rearing back to attack her or Harry again and with the last ounce of strength she possessed she lifted her wand arm up and cried out, "Diffindo!"

She hoped against hope her aim had been true. She hoped that the sounds of flesh ripping open and the soft plop of a body falling were not her imagination. She really hoped the fading image of Nagini's head rolling towards her own wasn't a sick dream. She felt Harry try to move next her, letting out pained whimpers as he slid off of her. A tired smile worked its way onto her face.

Right before her battle with the darkness ended with her as the loser, she said quite clearly, "One more down, Harry." She went limp shortly after. Harry lost his own battle to stay awake and alert. His head felt like it was split open and exposed to the cool (though not as cold as he would have expected) night air, and the only relief he knew he could find was in the darkness that claimed his best friend. His last thought was that he really needed to protect her better, if she lived through this, that is.

A figure a few feet away had seen their arrival. He had watched Hermione's last spell decapitate a very large and now very dead snake. He had heard her words, even though they made no sense to him and had seen her last smile. He hoped it wasn't the last smile she would give in this life.

He rushed over to the unconscious bodies that littered his back garden all the while pulling a chain from around his tan neck. At the end of the long, platinum chain a vial of pearly liquid hung, held by a strong platinum encasement. He fell to his knees beside the fallen Gryffindor female and ripped the jacket and shirt from her body as gently as a man possessed could. His eyes barely took in the sight of a surprisingly bare chested Hermione (did she lose her bra along the way from whatever hell she escaped from?) as he searched her body for the source of the blood.

The snake head by his leg was a pretty good indicator of the reason Hermione was down for the count, even if he hadn't witnessed the thing ripping itself away from her and trying to have another go, which he had witnessed to his horror. The massive amounts of blood and excess venom flowing from just below her ribs gave the lad a place to start, though it was obvious from the cuts and blood that flowed from the rest of her that the snake bite wasn't the only problem with the beautiful girl.

He flicked open the lid of the precious vial for the first time in his life and with shaking hands poured a bit into one deep hole in her body, quickly followed by the other hole left in her by the dead snake. He held his breath and prayed to Merlin, Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed that the liquid he had been given in cases of life or death would preserve this girl's life, keep this girl from death. Never mind that it had been a gift from his mother to keep himself safe. She mattered more.

With a hiss he let his bated breath flow from between clenched teeth as he saw the holes in Hermione's creamy skin fill while pushing out the demon snake's leftover venom. He poured a bit more on both holes just to be safe, and knew that the Phoenix tears had worked their miracle on Hermione. Relief swept through his body and made him feel limp, a fact that became obvious when a small hand came to rest on his shoulder and he didn't even flinch.

"Perhaps we should take them inside and heal them up a bit, don't you think sweetheart? It can't be good for them to be out here exposed, although that poor dear looks a bit more exposed than her friend, I daresay." His mother's soft voice had his eyes drinking in Hermione's bare breasts in a different manner than a minute previously. Now instead of making sure the perfectly shaped and sized chest was rising and falling he took them in and mentally measured how much of a handful they would be in his own large hands.

With a blush he found a fairly clean tatter of cloth and covered the chest of his personal Aphrodite, ahem-Hermione.

"Mum, are you sure? Do you know who they are? I can take them somewhere safe- away from here- and heal them up-" He was cut off by his mother rather quickly.

"Of course I know who they are. I have seen the clippings you leave littered all over the library. Why would you take them elsewhere while they are in such a state? Would she even survive another trip?"

"Mum. You will not be allowed to be neutral if you decide to house them with us. I am, and always have been fine with choosing the Light side if necessary, but you… You have never given an indication that there was anything on either side that could get you to give up neutrality. You must be sure, mother, this isn't just fixing them up and sending them on their way and you know it." His voice was firm and honest. His mother held his gaze in her own soft one and smiled.

"You are wrong darling. There has always been one thing that could get me to choose a side. My family and their hearts and lives. Your heart and life seem to lie with the poor dear that is now shivering as we've been chattering on. Be a dear and carry her inside, while I levitate the poor boy inside." He could have sworn he saw his mother's full lips pull into a smirk.

He gracefully bent forward and pulled Hermione into his strong arms, trying not to revel in the feel of the soft skin of her exposed back. She was light, and she looked a great deal thinner than the last time he had seen her. Too thin. He would have to brew up some nutrition potions after he had her snug in a bed.

"Put her in the room next to yours and I'll be up to tend to her wounds and clean her up a bit before dressing her." His mother instructed form behind him, levitating Harry Potter as if she did it every day.

"Good thing Dad and Gabe are asleep. This would be hard to explain otherwise." He muttered under his breath, though his mother heard him.

"I'll explain everything to your father, don't worry. You can handle Gabriel, I'm sure."

"We have to put them together." As much as the thought made him uncomfortable, Hermione in bed with Harry Potter he knew it was for the best.

"What do you mean? They need to rest and I need to help the poor dear get clean and with some proper clothes-" This time he cut his mother off.

"If they don't wake up near each other they will hex first and ask questions later. This way when they wake up they know that the other is safe and that we aren't holding them hostage or torturing the other. Trust me mum, they would panic if they weren't together."

"But why would they assume the worst after waking up in a comfortable bed?" His mother was genuinely confused but followed her son's instructions and levitated Harry onto a king size bed while her son gently lowered Hermione down onto the other side.

"Why do you think mum? I'm planning on staying with her until she wakes up and as the first face she sees, I don't think she will be appreciating the bed." He began to use his wand to gently summon the glass that was embedded in her skin. He saw his mother doing the same with Harry.

A purple potion bottle appeared as well as a clean cloth. He dabbed some potion onto the cloth and gently wiped at the cuts as soon as he was done retrieving the glass from her skin. The potion cleaned and sealed the cuts up, as well as preventing any scarring from occurring. One of his father's more useful potion inventions.

"Oh darling. You never know, she could react favorably. You are very handsome, after all you are my son."

He snorted. Like good looks alone could charm Hermione into forgetting herself and her situation.

"Nice try, mum. Thanks for trying to make me feel better. But you don't know her." He shook his head sadly.

"Oh please. I might as well know her for all that you go on about her. You will be fine. She will be fine. Now go get some pajamas for the boy while I put her into some of mine. "His mother ordered sweetly.

"But mum-"

"No, you will be gone just a minute, I'm sure she'll survive without you for that long. Get some warm ones for him, darling."

"Ugh. Fine." He got up to hurry into his room to get some flannels for Harry-freaking-Potter.

"There's a good boy, Blaise, darling." His mum cooed after him.


A/N- This is a fic I've been thinking of for awhile, and I have a few more chapters already written. I will update when I am at least three chapters ahead. I am a senior in college and am trying to finish school in the next six months so updates may be slower than I would like but it depends on readers response and reviews as well as the amount of homework I am assigned, so fair warning!

This is AU from the this point forward with anything prior staying mainly true to canon. I am still debating on how dark (war-wise) I want this fic to be, so any suggestions will be considered. Its rated T for now but will be M in the future, I have no doubt.

Comments? Questions? Hit the review button :)