A village just outside Paris, January, 2007

The auror known as Weston ran through the darkened tunnel, mindlessly, knowing stopping would mean-- Weston did not deliberate for one moment on that fact. Death had become a part of life now, so interwined Weston hardly knew where one began and the other ended. This was no longer about one auror's life, no, it had become the struggle of every wizard in the world.

Weston passed through the icy tunnels quickly, leaving long breaths of smoke behind. There was no time to waste, none at all-- if only there was some way to contact someone! A turn came, and Weston realized with a shock that there were no other turns left. Cornered!

The black cloak came out of the proverbial nowhere, and for the first time Weston noticed the stalactites and stalagmites rising and reaching all about, as if about to swallow them both whole. Weston watched the wizard as he approached, carefully, assured of his fate. He would be the victor here, the gait was unmistakable. And Weston would be dead, another anonymous auror's life swallowed whole in this great struggle.

"Weston," the voice drolled out. A high class voice, pretenous, self assured. Weston knew the voice, knew it well. Despised it.

"Malfoy," Weston said sharply, "The game's over. It ends tonight."

"Yes," Malfoy sneered. "Tell me where it is, Weston."

"You know I don't know that."

"Either way," Malfoy said, as if bored with the charade, "You are going to die, Weston. What good is it to save Harry Potter now?"

The wand was now inches away from Weston's face. This was not going to be a short, painless death. Malfoy was going to make sure that Weston paid dearly, not only for being an auror and as such a natural enemy, but for Weston's involvement in the entire affair. Weston was too close to Harry Potter to die with some semblance of humanity.

"Tell me where they are, Weston, and you might live long enough to contact Dumbledore."

Weston's eyes opened brightly. If Dumbledore could know-- there might be a way. Weston shifted, weighing the options. If there were Death Eaters nearby-- but if there weren't any-- Harry was a brilliant wizard, and his auror partner was nearly better. There was a chance. Why was Malfoy giving this chance? There was some other ploy, but in a manic state between life and death, Weston couldn't think clearly enough to see it. Either way, the auror thought, death and life swung in the balance.

"You fucking bastard," the auror laughed. It was a low, manic laugh, the laugh of a person who had lived too many years stuggling in what seemed vain to do the right thing. Weston hoped, prayed, that there was still a chance. There had to be a chance. "They're at Malfoy fucking Manor. Like that little bit of irony?"

Time seemed to pause, twist, turn on itself and then speed up again. Weston was muggle-born and might have lost the wand earlier in the fight, but the auror had something else. Muggles were brilliant at finding ways to kill each other, Weston mused grimly, taking out the pistol. It was heavy and unfamiliar, but Weston knew how to use it. A shot went out into the dark, aimed toward the Death Eater.

At the extact same moment the curse left Malfoy's sneering mouth, and the wand aimed at Weston struck, hit, and the pain, the knowing pain that accompanied the end of life was there. But there was still a chance. Weston had gambled to win, the auror always gambled to win. Weston grasped the golden string about the bloody, unfamiliar neck of the man she had killed and turned the miniature hourglass as many times as possible in quick succession.

"Merlin save me," Weston gasped as the vortex spun and sucked the auror into the past.

In April 1999, the bloodied corpse of Juliette Weston laid on the floor of Albus Dumbledore's office at the Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.