Disclaimer: these characters are not mine – they belong to JK Rowling
AN: OK, so WOW…I thought maybe there would be a few chapters left, but, based on what I had planned, it all came together (in my opinion) flawlessly in just this one chapter. I'll let you all read it, and I'll put another note at the end so as not to spoil anything. I want to THANK YOU all so very much for your kind words, favorites, and follows as I wrote this story, it means a lot! I hope you all will check out some of my other fics, as they are all mostly Tomione! I'd love to hear your thoughts on my ending.
Hermione instructed Ron to check on the injured as the Headmaster swiftly headed back into battle. She ran down to what was once the defense classroom, and whipped out her wand casting Alohomora on the door and stepped inside. A glass cabinet stood at the far side of the room, which she recalled had always been there, used to display dark artifacts used in the first great war against the Dark Wizard, Grindelwald. She shattered the glass, and removed a silver dagger that sat inside a small holster. She quickly secured to dagger to her outer thigh, and also grabbed the small round metal ball that could almost pass for a snitch at first glance, though it was much more deadly; it was made of a dark metal and instead of feather wings, a set of impossibly sharp spinning blades emerged when it was thrown at a target.
Gripping her wand tightly, she left the room, taking steady breaths as she moved towards the loud booms that seemed to shake the very foundation of the castle. It was now or never. She didn't allow herself to worry about the injured students, or who may have already been killed during the battle, her only focus was finding Lord Voldemort. As she emerged into the courtyard, smoke obscured her vision, and she had to quickly duck as a jet of red light streamed past her, hitting the castle wall within inches of where she had only just stood. She crawled on her belly, past the corpses of fallen students, desperately trying not to look at their faces. When she finally reached a large piece of castle wall that had collapsed, she placed her back to it before getting her bearings and peering over it to shoot stunners at the approaching Death Eaters.
She took down three of them before a Reducto hit the stone wall she had been shielding herself behind, sending her sprawling backwards and knocking the wind out of her. One of the Death Eaters, Dolohov, approached her, sneering down at her as he raised his wand, an unforgivable poised to fall from his lips. Before he could utter the words, Hermione grasped the small iron ball, and threw it at him, turning away in disgust as the metal blades slashed his throat and he collapsed at her feet. She vomited, having never been the direct cause of someone's death before, and she steadfastly reminded herself that he wouldn't have hesitated to kill her. It had been self-defense. The ball returned to her, sticky with his blood, and she gagged again as she vanished the evidence with a quietly whispered Scourgify. She saw the edge of the Forbidden Forest just a few hundred yards away, and jumped up quickly sprinting for the cover that the trees would provide, dodging curses as she went.
Several Death Eaters followed her into the forest, and she took them out with stunners one by one. She kept moving deeper into the forest until she saw a clearing up ahead. From her position, partially hidden behind a large tree, she could just make out the form of Albus Dumbledore dueling with Lord Voldemort. She watched in awe as curses were volleyed back and forth, both wizards moving fluidly in a deadly dance, when she felt the tip of a wand press against the side of her throat.
"Don't even try it." The familiar baritone drawled as she turned her gaze on the black wand digging into her neck.
"Severus" she breathed. In her original timeline, he had been a spy for the Order, a man whom Dumbledore had trusted implicitly, but whose side was he on now?
"I've waited twenty years for this." He said menacingly, and her heart began to beat faster in her chest.
"I don't understand…" she gasped when his wand burrowed deeper into her throat painfully.
"He took something from me; something very precious. Now I'm going to return the favor." He snarled through gritted teeth.
She suddenly understood then, "Lily…" she whispered
Snape spun her around and backhanded her, causing her to fall to the ground in shock. The look on his face was murderous, "Don't you dare speak her name." he spat
Hermione began to scramble back from him, trying to calm the panic that was welling in her chest.
"I'm on your side, Severus" she said pleadingly, willing him to understand that her mission was to stop the Dark Lord.
He snorted, "I'm on no one's side. I have served the Dark Lord for twenty years, biding my time until I could take my revenge. Dumbledore never cared about anyone but his precious Gryffindors" he sneered with disgust.
"I'm here to stop him, I-" she pleaded, continuing to slink away from him, her elbows sinking into the mud.
He sneered down at her again, "That's irrelevant. You're heroics will get you nowhere, Miss Granger. Nothing can stop him, not even me. I do not have any illusions that I will survive another day, however, before I die, I will take from him the only thing he holds dear, so that he may suffer as I have suffered."
Hermione was panting now, confusion evident on her face, "His horcruxes…we've destroyed them…" she muttered as realization began to dawn on her.
"No, I'm speaking of something far more precious…You, Miss Granger, or should I say, Mrs. Riddle." He said as he pointed his wand at her heart.
Hermione's eyes widened in shock, and before she allowed his words to sink in, she kicked her foot up into his groin and watched him fall to his knees, scrambling away from him and taking cover behind another tree, her wand shaking in front of her. Just as she was about to peer around to see where he was, a jet of green light flew past her, just inches from her face, and she began firing curses back. She knew one of them hit its mark when she heard his grunt of pain, and her eyes whipped back towards the clearing just in time to see Albus Dumbledore fall.
"No!" she cried without thinking, as a pair of crimson eyes turned to meet her gaze.
Time seemed to stop as she stared back at him, powerless to turn away, as a rush of memories flooded her mind.
She never heard the crack of the twig behind her before the curse hit its mark; and then the pain came. Her knees buckled beneath her, blood seeping from the deep cuts across her back.
With a flash of green light, Snape fell dead beside her, his eyes open, staring vacantly towards the sky. She felt herself being lowered to the ground, and she could do nothing to stop the tears from leaking from her eyes.
"Hermione?" his voice was so quiet, that she turned her face slightly to look at him. He was every bit as horrifying as she'd remembered, but there was something about how his voice shook, just a little…What was it Snape had said?
"Episky" he shouted in frustration, pointing his wand at her wounds, though they continued to bleed.
"Hermione, I can't…" he began to say, and moved his long pale bony fingers to cup her face. Such an odd gesture for someone so evil.
She met his eyes again, and for just a moment, he was there. Her Tom. She covered his hand with hers, and whispered, "It's okay, it doesn't hurt much." It was true she realized, her legs were growing numb, and the blinding pain she had first experienced was leaving her.
She surprised him then when her hand reached up to his face, and he closed his eyes at the feel of her palm against his cheek.
"Why do you have so much hate?" she asked
"Shhh…don't talk." He said as he brushed a curl back behind her ear.
She chuckled as it turned into a cough, blood tinting her pale lips, "You speak so many bloody languages and yet you never want to talk."
He frowned at her words until his eyes fell on the small silver necklace that encircled her throat. The hand that had been cupping her cheek moved to the small pewter thimble that rested on a delicate chain, and his eyes softened as he met her gaze once more.
"You're wearing the thimble." He said a hint of surprise in his tone.
"Of course, you prat, I always wear it, I've always worn it. I've always loved you." She whispered as a look of pain crossed his face and he bowed his head.
She felt something wet land on her fingers, and she brushed the tear away that had fallen from his eyes.
"Please don't leave me…" he managed in a choked whisper, memorizing every detail of her face, until he felt pain blossom in his side. He looked down at the dagger that was sticking out of his side, her hand still grasping the silver handle. A look of sadness flickered across her face, but when she met his eyes once more, there was only forgiveness. He pulled the dagger from his side, and it fell to the ground with a dull thud.
"I don't intend to." She whispered before taking her final breath, and falling into light.
The bright light that was blinding her began to fade, enough that she could make out her surroundings. She heard the whistle, and turned to see a train pulling into the station.
Was this King's cross? It looked like it, yet…not. There were people she didn't recognize boarding the train, and she looked around wondering what she was supposed to do, when she saw him.
He looked like he did when they first met, sitting on a bench, staring down at his hands, looking utterly lost.
She approached him hesitantly and stopped just a few steps away.
"Tom?" she asked hesitantly, and his head shot up in her direction as relief flooded his face. He stood quickly, closing the distance between them and pulling her into his arms.
"I'm so sorry, Hermione, I'm so sorry…Please forgive me…" he mumbled against her neck, and she held him tightly against her, feeling herself smile against his cheek.
"Of course I forgive you, I love you." She said twining her fingers with his as he pulled back to look at her.
"Where are we?" he asked, and a throat cleared behind him.
Tom and Hermione both turned to see who had approached them, and Hermione gasped in shock, "Harry?"
He nodded, smiling back at her, surrounded by a golden glow.
"How are you here? You hadn't even been born and then-" she began as he held up his hand to silence her.
"Time doesn't exist here, Hermione. You remember me, so I am here." He said cryptically.
"But where exactly is here?" she asked, looking back and forth between Tom and Harry.
"You're in the in-between, as I like to call it. You're not alive, but you're not quite dead." Harry explained.
"So this is limbo." Tom answered, and Harry nodded.
"I suppose that is another name for it."
"So what happens now?" Hermione asked, gripping Tom's fingers tighter.
Harry smiled, "You just get on the train."
A look of fear crossed Tom's face, and he turned to Hermione.
She held up their joined hands and met Tom's eyes, "Together." She said, and as she turned back to Harry, he was already gone.
Another train pulled up to the platform, and they watched more strangers boarding. As the flow of bodies slowed, a small boy with Dark curly hair and caramel eyes stepped out, reaching out his hand.
If Hermione had any breath, it would have caught in her throat; for she knew, without a doubt, that this child was hers and Tom's.
She knelt down in front of the child, tears flowing down her face as the child ran into her arms.
Tom watched as Hermione cradled the boy, sobbing, and realization dawned on him before he dropped to his knees beside her.
"Is that…is he?" Tom asked not able to form the words.
The boy smiled at Tom over Hermione's shoulder, and hissed out a greeting in Parseltongue, and Tom laughed in surprise.
"What did he say?" Hermione turned wiping the tears from her eyes to look at Tom.
Tom pulled Hermione to her feet and picked up the small boy in his arms, "He called me father." He said as he dropped a kiss on Hermione's head and looked back at his son in wonder.
The boy hissed again, and this time, Tom nodded without fear, taking Hermione's hand in his.
"He says it's time to go." Tom answered, as he stepped onto the train with his wife and child, feeling complete for the first time in his life.
"Everything's going to be okay." She whispered quietly against his neck, as she stared into eyes that were so like hers.
"I know." He answered as the train pulled away.
AN: First – I want to say that the death scene was inspired by the ending of The English Patient. It is such a brilliant movie, and I've borrowed other scenes from it for another fic as well (Accidents and Unforeseen Consequences) because it is just so EPIC, and Ralph Fiennes totally has Tom moments in it...To see this particular scene, Youtube "The Thimble (The English Patient)".
So! What did you think?! I will admit, that from the time I started writing this fic, I had planned for it to end this way. As I've cryptically mentioned in previous author's notes, Tom had already created 4 horcruxes by the time he met Hermione in the past, so a straight up HEA was truly never in the cards…however, I felt that all of the pain and suffering and his absolute fear of death was the necessary catalyst that turned him fully into Lord Voldemort. Hermione's destiny and mission was always to stop him. She did fall in love with him along the way, and even if he never really showed it, or understood it for what it was, he loved her too. This is also why, despite having the list of Muggleborns, he never goes after her. He loved her, and she needed to live in order to travel to the past. Snape figured it out when she was on the list, and and obvious target, yet he never ordered her to be killed. It becomes evident to Voldemort/Tom how much she truly meant to him when he is faced with her death. And yes, she stabs him, but she had to do it…and he forgives her for it. Then, they find each other again at King's cross, and are reunited with the child that should have been, had things gone differently. In death, Tom found what he never had in life; peace.
So there you have it. I really hope you liked it, and I would love to hear your feedback! Once again, thank you all for reading! xo