author's note:

This drabble is a gift for one of my oldest friends in the fanfiction community, [ cocoartist. ]

This was going to be a surprise for your birthday, cocoartist – surprise! I'm late! As usual!

It's your birthday and I'll make you cry if I want to.

'o death

"The end is here."

The night brings a sweeping wind.

The grand, ornate doors of the Great Hall swing open with a violence that stills the crowds.

She's blood-spattered and wild-eyed; power drips from her pores like ichor.

He can feel her when she passes, a ghost of a girl –– she sends a chill up his spine and his skin thrums.

He's suddenly alive. Awake.

How long had he been sleeping?

The specimen is a curious subject. There is no explanation why she is there, suddenly amongst them as if she has always been a part of their world, their home. She sits at the Slytherin table with a book in one hand and a fork in the other, ignoring the chatter around her.

Sometimes she stills when he stares, but she cannot possibly know he's watching her – her eyes never drift from the pages.

He seduces secrets from Dippet with compliments, but the Headmaster knows next to nothing.

She's from abroad, Tom, that's all I know.

And then, finally, something intriguing slips past the old man's withered lips.

Dumbledore said he knew her.

"Are you kin to Professor Dumbledore?" he asks, adopting the tone he knows others flourish beneath.

She meets his stare; something that the others can't do, won't do.

"I have no family," she says.

Her eyes are as dark as his own.

"Tell me your name," he asks of her, once.

"You know my name."

"Your real name."

"It's mine to give to whom I choose," she tells him.

"I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours."

"Go on then," she pries, "tell me your true name."

"Lord Voldemort," he whispers in her ear. Her face goes ghostly white. "And one day all will fear it."

"Now," he says, "tell me yours."

"You'll figure it out one day," she swears; and she stifles his insistence with silence.

The game starts off innocently enough. They're spinning the firewhiskey bottle on the floor of the common room. He has opted not to play – he never does meddle with these children. He only tolerates them, and barely that.

She, too, has chosen to sit out; she sits beside him on the sofa.

Her legs are bare.

Orion Black stares at them; shifts whenever she moves them.

How weak.

Abraxas spins and the bottle stops abruptly, pointing directly between pretty Parkinson and Nott. It's aimed at her.

"I'm not playing this game, Abraxas," she smiles; white teeth in a perfect row.

"But rules are rules," he announces, brazenly, and makes his way over to her.

Something lurches in his own stomach, an emotion he will dissect and identify later; but ignores for now.

Abraxas leans in and he can feel his temper flare.

But suddenly Malfoy is shouting, stumbling backward, both hands over his mouth. Thick, dark crimson drips in heavy drops down his neck, staining his crisp white robes.

"I'm not playing this game, Abraxas," she repeats, smiling still – but darker this time; incisors stained with blood.

His anger quells. He likes her like this, with her fangs bared like a snake.

"What do you fear, Tom?" she asks him one night, up high in the Astronomy Tower, overlooking the grounds.

"Death," he admits, calmly. "What is more terrifying than that?"

A shadow eclipses her face under the moonlight.

"Love," she answers.

He balks. "You jest."

"Tom," she whispers, a quiet susurrus; he likes the way it sounds from her lips:

"One day, it will be the death of you."

In time, they begin to fear his name, as he always swore they would.

The pure flock to him; worship him like a god.

They do his bidding, clear the path for him. So few enemies even meet his wand.

He is Hades – only the worthy receive the gift of death from his own hands.

And she, she is his bride; dressed in dark, glittering silks that envelop her like night. Innocence, lured to the Underworld – his and his alone.

How she hates him for it.

"Enough of this, Tom," she scorns. "This has gone on long enough."

"I no longer go by that name," he threatens, "you know this."

"Please, Tom," she says, sadly, a fool's emotion. "Don't make an enemy of me."

He lifts her chin, presses a kiss to her soft lips.

"My name is not Tom."

Bitterness changes her, shifts her; morphs her into a creature he no longer knows.

"Voldemort," she dares to say aloud, in a tone that pierces; wounds. "Go, then. You were warned."

Fire rains from the sky, embers scorch the earth around him as the battle wages.

"Look what you've made me do," she says from above him, cradling him.

"I'll return," he tells her.

Her face saddens, then.

"No," she tells him; her wild hair looks alight under the fiery sky. "No, you won't," she says, so calm and sure. The truth hits him like a lightning strike. All sound on the battlefield quiets, hushes. It is suddenly only the two of them.

"You found them?" he asks, shocked.

She nods; slowly, sadly.

Something hurts. His heart, perhaps; that long-forgotten organ beating slower and slower in his chest.

He touches his hand to her face, presses a thumb to her lips. A memory sparks behind his eyes; a glimpse into another life. She told him he would know her name; warned him of true terror.

And how right she is – how small he feels in the shadow of this emotion; what was it?

Love, she called it. She, who would never speak her own name – who had no trouble speaking his. He'd figure her name out in the end, she told him, and she was right.

Her name is Death.

How he wishes he knew it then – perhaps he wouldn't have feared it so.

"I wanted to change you," she tells him. "To save you."

"You did," he tells her as she fades from view.

"You did."