Epilogue

Sirius clambered out of the shower when he heard a scream. Although the voice was familiar, he could tell it wasn't Rhia's. He pulled on his robe, still soaked from head to toe, shampoo still bubbling in his hair.

"Crucio!" cried another voice, this one masculine and foreign to him.

The scream came again as he rushed to the scene. A bright green light burst into the room and the force pushed him to the ground. He had barely heard the issue of "Avada Kadavra" before the light had blazed through his apartment.

One minute passed in utter silence.

Sirius moaned and stumbled to his feet.

In the adjoining living room, he heard a sob. "Oh my god!" a woman shrieked, her voice cracking.

He rushed into the room. A familiar woman, though obviously not Rhia, was sitting over a body, hidden by a silver cloak. The rest of the room was empty, but the door was wide open.

"Hello?" he asked uncertainly. "What happened here?"

"She's dead!" sobbed the woman.

And, as she turned to him, he instantly recognized her. "Monica?" he gasped.

"No!" she shrieked at him. "Rhia," she said in a hushed voice, indicating the person on the floor. "They killed her."

Horrorstricken and weak, he collapsed at his love's side. He took her limp hand—still warm—in his and caressed her pale skin. He pulled the fabric away from her face and looked into her dead, grey eyes. It was her. There was no doubt about it.

"Who did this?" he asked as calmly as he could. His voice waned and broke as tears came to his eyes.

"Your cousin—that bitch of a Lestrange," spat Monica, evidently overcoming her sorrow in her rage. "Her and her bastard of a husband."

"I'll kill her."

"No, you won't. Rhia wouldn't want you to die."

"How do you know?"

"Why else would she have been here with you after he failed?"

"Who? Failed at what?"

"She didn't tell you?"

"No. But I have a pretty good idea who could make her cry so much."

"Well, when he failed, I think You-Know-Who punished him—greatly. He almost died. Bellatrix hasn't trusted him since. He'll have to work extremely hard to prove his loyalty again."

"How do you know all this?"

"I had to infer a little, but they weren't very secretive when they captured me."

"Why do you think I would die if I fought Bellatrix?"

"It's just a feeling. You can fight her—but I know you'll die—even if it's many years in the future."

"I will kill her."

"You'll die trying," persisted Monica. "I'm as sure of that as I am that I will die soon. I know who they are, so they're going to kill me."

Sirius took in a deep breath. His voice was strained when he spoke. "I may not have been able to protect her," he said, nodding to his love, "but I will do all I can to protect you. Rhia considered you her best friend, and she would want you to live. I'll do everything within my power."

--

Quietly, Severus slid into his bed, not caring as the pain still washed over him. He ached everywhere, the Cruciatus curse still on his mind.

But that wasn't the cause of the pain. She was dead. There was no purpose to living anymore. The Dark Lord had punished him for failing, but he would have punished himself if he really had been the one to end her life. He only felt regret for not being able to save her—for the fact that she would have lived if it weren't for him. She would have lived and been happy.

All that was left for him now was a series of unearthly tasks and dangerous ventures set to him by the Dark Lord. It was all he had. He knew that she would hate for him to continue, but what more was there for him? Voldemort would have him killed if he left. Actually, he wouldn't have minded death—he would have welcomed it. But he knew she wouldn't have wanted him to die either—to give up.

He would regret his decision his entire life, but he would live with it. He would spend the rest of his life trying to regain the trust of someone he would forever hate, knowing that the woman he loved was dead because of that same person… and because of himself.

"Goodbye, Rhia," he murmured, turning over to try to sleep.


Well, that's the end, folks. Sorry to kill her, but some things just need to happen. I hope you enjoyed the story. Thank you for reading.

Anatui