The night was dark and still as Voldemort and his Death Eaters Apparated to a clearing within the Forbidden Forest. The snow hadn't touched this part of the forest, as the trees which gave their cover overhead caught the worst of the flakes. Not a creature stirred within the forest, as if they all knew that something truly evil was amongst them.

Voldemort observed his troops. A few of the more daring of them had lit their wands. There was an air of nervousness within his ranks, though he knew this to be the type of nervous energy of those spoiling for a fight. His eyes finally stopped on Lucius. He frowned slightly, before motioning Lucius forward.

"Where is the Mudblood?" Voldemort hissed out as he turned his back towards his troops angling Lucius away from them. His voice was deadly as his eyes were narrowed into tiny slits.

Draco's mind was racing; however, before he could formulate an answer that would appease the creature before him, he felt the curse hit, and he was thrown to the ground and began to writhe in agony. Every muscle in his body felt like it was expanding and contracting to the point of being disconnected from his very bones. It was like being flayed alive, and a scream tore from his throat, breaking the silence around them.

As quickly as the pain had started, it ended. Draco rolled onto his back, Lucius's cane lying several feet away from him. His eyes were closed as he panted, waiting for the next round to start. He was never a huge fan of the Cruciatus Curse.

He felt someone leaning over him and, in his fogged state, he rolled onto his side, away from the thing that promised more pain. He bit into his cheek, drawing the coppery taste of blood.

"Rise," Voldemort said in disgust, and Draco rose unsteadily before him, his hair and clothing in disarray with bits of leaves and twigs stuck within them. He drew in a shaky breath, doubling over as he coughed—the after-effects and the shaking were what made the curse so horrific.

Some of the blood from his bitten cheek escaped his mouth and splattered onto Voldemort's leg and robes. Voldemort sneered.

"I would dispense with you now, if I didn't have need of you. Mark my words, Lucius, you have disappointed me greatly. The Mudblood will die, and it will be at your own hand now."

Draco's eyes widened; Voldemort took the look for a different meaning and smiled.

"Yes, I shall enjoy watching you kill her," he said with a manic gleam in his eye. "I may even keep Harry Potter alive long enough to witness it, once Hogwarts is secured, and I am in charge. But if he dies before then, it is of no consequence to me," Voldemort stated, his hand flitting about like a small bird.

"You will make yourself useful, Lucius. You shall follow behind me and watch my back; if so much as a curse hits me, it will be you that will next join Harry Potter. Am I understood?"

"Yes, My Lord," Draco quickly spoke, his eyes averted, and his muscles twinging involuntarily.

Voldemort was seething, and he did nothing to hide the aggravation he felt. His followers were simpletons—morons, the lot of them. It was a pity that he had to dispense with Severus—now there was a wizard who could follow the tasks set out for him to the letter, even though he had turned out to be a traitor.

"Fenrir," Voldemort spat out, motioning the werewolf forward, "I want you to stay here. Keep some of your kind with you," he added, a sneer marring his reptilian face.

Fenrir nodded once, his eyes sparkling with the promise of new pack members and blood. Fenrir called over a few of the burlier werewolves, and they took off into the surrounding trees, not even making a sound.

Once the werewolves were gone, Voldemort motioned his troops to march forward and extinguish their wands.

Voldemort paused before they reached the gates which were keyed to the Headmaster and his staff. No one else could enter the premises without Dumbledore's say-so. Voldemort's amassed Death Eaters halted and turned towards him as one.

Voldemort turned abruptly, the black cloaks parting before him like the Red Sea parting before Moses. Draco was one shaky step behind. Voldemort made his way up to the edge of the Forbidden Forest, to the very brink of the wards.

Grabbing the Death Eater closest to him, he threw him at the wards. Voldemort gave a cry of triumph when the unknown Death Eater came to no harm and managed to pass through the wards with nothing but his pride hurt.

Raising his wand, he regarded the hole in the wards. It was large enough for his Death Eaters to fit through but, alas, the giants would not be getting in until the defences were down completely. No matter; he still had the Dementors and werewolves, and once he had secured Hogwarts, he would allow the giants to pick off any of the stragglers.

Calling forth the Dementors, he watched as they made their way through the wards and floated off towards the castle.

Severus and Harry were standing on the topmost turret of the castle, looking down towards the Forbidden Forest. The bitter winter winds swirling around them forced Severus's hair into his face. Neither of them felt the bite of the frigid air. Thank the gods that it was no longer snowing. The half-moon provided little light, but the only sound was that of the howling wind. Harry's Firebolt was clutched tightly in his right hand. They both saw when the Dementors were unleashed onto the grounds.

Turning towards Harry, Severus placed a hand on the young man's shoulder.

"Are you ready?" he asked. His voice held a steely resolve.

Harry stiffened ever so slightly, but as he turned his head to look into the Potions master's eyes, Severus saw the look of a man who was more than ready to have this war over and done with. Harry had been fighting the war against Voldemort and his Death Eater's for almost as long as he had known about Hogwarts, and it showed on the young man's face.

"As ready as I'll ever be," he replied. "Let's do this."

Severus nodded his head once, dropping his hand back to his side and facing forward once more. He saw that the Death Eaters had started to make their way across the school's grounds, marching in formation.

The first inkling Voldemort had that it was a trap was when they were halfway to the castle. Although paranoid about even his closest followers, he saw nothing to indicate that this was indeed an ambush, and the eerie silence led him to relax a little, although it was clearly not noticeable to his followers.

The first and second line of Voldemort's troops suddenly vanished. It was as though the ground had just opened up and swallowed them whole. There was panic and discord amongst the Death Eaters who didn't fall into the earth, as they pulled up short, halting the progression of Voldemort's forces.

"Silence," Voldemort bellowed out, his voice deadly as the Death Eaters halted and turned to face him. He had sent his newest recruits out first to take the brunt of any resistance they would find. He had thought them expendable, and it surely had paid off in this case.

"Bella, go and investigate," Voldemort said, flinging his hand towards the front of the lines.

Bella, who was standing at her master's flank, responded immediately. Her wand was held out in front of her as she shoved those not fortunate enough to get out of her way quickly enough to the side.

Getting to where the men had disappeared, she peered over the edge to discover the great divide of what was once a perfect white oasis.

Looking over her shoulder, she turned to face an impatient Voldemort.

"They are gone, My Lord," she said, her voice breathy, as though her eyes didn't quite believe what they were seeing. She hated being the bearer of bad news, especially to her Lord.

"I can see that," Voldemort retorted, his voice demonstrating his disapproval.

He lifted his wand as he spun on the spot. Nothing happened. As his face distorted into a mask of pure fury, he cursed the closest Death Eater, who happened to be Macnair, and as he fell to the ground writhing in agony, Voldemort felt some of his rage dissipate.

"I see that they are not totally unprepared for us," Voldemort declared to his troops. "It matters not, for we shall still be victorious." Voldemort addressed the men and women before him as he waved his wand towards the trench, and the earth closed up once more, looking like the snow-covered hill that it was before.

"Bella, Lucius, and Rodolphus, you are to wait here with me. The rest of you," Voldemort said, looking at what remained of his forces, "are to go on to the castle; the Dementors should already be inside. Anyone, teacher or student, is fair game, except for Harry Potter. If you find him, bring him to me, and you shall be rewarded. Failure is not an option."

Voldemort watched his Death Eaters turn and start marching towards the castle. He could see they were determined but still a little weary after loosing so many of their comrades.

Remus's head shot around even as his nose crinkled up in disgust.

"What is it, Remus?" Tonks whispered, holding her wand out before her in the darkness.

"Fenrir," Remus responded. That single growled-out word spoke volumes to Tonks, but before she could reassure Remus, he was off like the Snitch through the darkness.

Albus stood at the window of his office, overlooking the grounds of Hogwarts. He was alone, save for Fawkes, who sat on his perch in the corner. He saw the Death Eaters disappear into the earth—they were not dead, merely transported to a cell in the dungeons where he knew they could not escape, their wands having been taken from them, as well as any other weapons that could be used.

Everything was in place. He knew the plan was a good one. It all came down to Harry now and whether he had the strength to defeat Tom. Not having trained him himself, though it was not through lack of trying, he did not know if he would defeat Tom or not.

He sighed out loud; Fawkes trilled loudly from his perch and then flew over to rest on his shoulder.

"I know," he spoke to the phoenix, bringing up a weary hand to stroke his neck plumage. "I didn't think it would end this way, either. I for one envisioned Harry standing here next to me. But perhaps it is for the best." He sighed once more before straightening himself up as he made his way to the door, Fawkes still perched on his shoulder.

Minerva and the rest of the professors had managed to get all of the students who were too young to fight tucked safely into the Room of Requirement. She had given the task of looking after them to some of the older house-elves and knew they were in capable hands.

Sealing up the exit with her wand, she breathed out a sigh of relief. Now that she knew the students were taken care of, she could focus on the battle that was to come. Running a hand along her bun to make sure that no hair escaped its confines, she looked around at the faces of the remaining professors. Nodding her head once, she signalled that they should take off in separate directions to take up their respective posts.

Remus raced through the forest. His exceptional vision, sense of smell, and hearing—due to his lycanthropy—was no longer a curse, but a blessing, as he shot off, ducking and weaving through the trees.

Stopping as he reached a clearing, he saw Fenrir had pinned Angus to the ground and was taking strips of flesh off the werewolf with his sharp claw-like hands.

Remus didn't even give it a second thought as he let out a howl of rage and sprinted across the clearing. He shoulder-barged Fenrir off Angus, who was whimpering pitifully. Angus immediately started to back away on his hands and feet towards the tree line, never taking his wide eyes off the pair. But Remus didn't even look towards the injured werewolf for his vision had narrowed down to the one true threat—Fenrir.

Holding his broom aloft, Fred looked over to his twin brother George, who grinned at him. The rest of the flyers were stationed around various parts of the castle.

"Ready?" Fred asked as he smiled back at his brother.

"I was born ready, O brother dearest," George replied, swinging his leg over his broom.

Lifting their wands in perfect sync, they each laid a Disillusionment Charm over the other as they took off into the sky, headed towards the Death Eaters that were approaching the castle.

Tonks knew better than to light her wand or even to call out Remus's name. She stumbled blindly through the Forbidden Forest, her other senses hyper-aware of everything around her. Her wand was clenched tightly in her right hand as she weaved and ducked her way past branches and logs.

Coming across a clearing, she stopped, her heart pounding in her chest and her breathing ragged. She could hear a fight going on and just make out two men; one, she swore, was Remus, fighting in the middle of it. They had abandoned their wands; instead, they were fighting with their claws and bodies like Muggles.

Tonks rubbed her eyes before taking a deep breath and walking quietly in to the clearing. Both men were so focused on their opponent that when she lifted her wand and sent a Stupefy their way, neither of them were prepared.

The Dementors were restless; they couldn't get inside the castle to feed, as the enchantments were too strong. Instead, they waited, circling the castle like a pack of hyenas. They were patient, though; they had waited this long, and the Dark One had declared they would have free reign to feast upon the souls within the castle. So they continued in their relentless pursuit of that which they had been promised.

Ron was searching the sky anxiously. He knew Fred and George were out there somewhere, although he could not see them.

In the back of his mind he knew that both Fred and George were excellent flyers, but he had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach and hated the thought of his brothers out there when he himself was safely behind the castle walls. No sooner had that thought crossed his mind than the skies and grounds of Hogwarts were lit up with spells and curses, and he narrowed his eyes to try and pick out Fred and George amongst the blinding lights.

And that is when it happened, and his mind could not make his eyes believe what he was seeing. He saw Fred's Disillusionment Charm fail as he was hit by a hex, and he plummeted towards the ground.

Ron's feet were faster than his brain as he raced out of the castle, through the enchantments that kept them all safe if they stayed in the castle. His wand was drawn as he made his way down the stairs and towards Fred. So focused was he on getting to his brother, that he never saw the Dementor as it swooped out of the sky—all he felt was dread as he fell to the snow covered ground at the foot of the steps, and the Dementor started to feast.

Harry tensed and gripped his Firebolt harder as he saw the spells light up the night sky. He heard the cries from the surprised Death Eaters as they were hit by hexes and curses, and he saw Fred—or was it George?—crash into the ground.

Severus was speaking to him now, though he didn't hear a word of what was said as time stood still. Then he heard the entrance doors open and saw another redhead coming out of the castle and start pelting down the stairs and across the snow towards his brother.

Ron, his mind screamed as his head reeled at Ron's carelessness. The plan was going to hell and it was all Ron's fault.

He saw the Dementor fly down and stop into front of Ron. Ron was frozen in fear as his hand relaxed and his wand fell to the snow. Ron just stood there staring at the thing before him.

Harry hadn't even noticed that he had mounted his broom and thrown on his Invisibility Cloak until a hand reached out and held onto his cloak. Turning around, he took in Severus's posture, noticing it to be stiff and unyielding.

"We mustn't change the plan," Severus yelled above the howl of the wind.

"For everything that Ron's become, he was once my best mate, and I can't leave him out there like that," Harry shouted back, his eyes hard as he stared back at Severus.

"Bugger it all," Severus swore as he let go of Harry's cloak and quickly Disillusioned himself.

Harry took off, the bite of the wind not deterring him as he quickly made his way over to where the Dementors were surrounding Ron. More had joined the first, and there were five of them huddled around the prone Ron.

"Expecto Patronum," Harry yelled out in mid-flight, his wand held aloft in his hand as he landed his broom one-handed a few metres away.

Prongs' glowing form materialised from the tip of Harry's wand and went charging towards the Dementors, bowling them out of the way. They gave out a high-pitched cry as they took off into the sky with Prongs close behind.

Harry raced over to his friend, only to find Ron's slack jaw and unblinking eyes gazing back at him. Ron's face was pale; as white as the snow that he lay upon. He was still breathing, as was evident through the steady rise and fall of his chest. Harry knew he would never be the same again, and it was then that a little piece of himself broke away. Harry stood there, not daring to touch Ron, staring down at his once best friend.

He heard a commotion behind him and whirled around, his wand held up, as members of the Order ran up to him.

"I couldn't stop him," Mr Weasley panted, holding onto his side as he looked down with sadness in his face at his youngest son.

"It's no one's fault," replied Minerva; she too was out of breath as she clutched onto her wand, her breath coming out like smoke. She took in Ron's deathly still figure in the snow. "I shall take him up to the hospital wing," she continued, breaking the silence that had descended upon the macabre scene, "and see what Poppy can do for him."

She aimed her wand at her former student, levitating him from the ground and turning back towards the double doors that lead to the entrance hall, Mr Weasley following close behind.

Severus had observed all of this still under the Disillusionment Charm. He felt a twinge of regret at what had happened to the Weasley boy, but he also knew that they had a crucial job to do. There was still fighting going on further down the hill, and now was not the time to mourn, as there would be plenty of time for that when this night was over.

"Harry," Severus said as Prongs melted away.

Harry swivelled around, looking for Severus.

"There will be plenty more losses before this night is through. Now concentrate— if you want this war to be over with tonight, then you must stay focused," Severus said, his voice a steely rasp of fortitude.

Harry nodded his head once and drew himself up. He understood that in war there were casualties, but he had never expected them to come so soon.

"I have to finish this now," Harry spoke, his voice held the undertone of his inflexible determination.

"Then we have to get back to the plan, stay focused on the goal," Severus replied.

"No. I have to finish this now, with or without you," Harry stated, his eyes searching the darkness for Voldemort.

Severus sighed and blew an exasperated breath out of his mouth. He knew Harry to be headstrong and unwavering once his mind was made up.

"Let's hope that Draco has played his part in the plan because there will be no second chances," Severus said. "You have one shot at this Harry; let us hope that your wand arm aims true."

Harry nodded his head as he threw down his Firebolt. He wouldn't be needing it again this night.

Wands raised, the two wizards took off across the grounds in search of Voldemort.

Tonks made her way over to where Remus and Fenrir were frozen on the ground. Her wand was held tightly in her hand, and the adrenaline was still coursing its way through her bloodstream.

She shot off a Finite towards Remus and immediately held her wand on Fenrir.

Remus came to and shook his body much the way a dog would. His breathing was laboured, and the look on his face was still that of a feral beast. He tried to calm down when his eyes took in the form of a stupefied Fenrir. Tonks had the werewolf under guard.

"Tonks…." Remus's voice was hoarse, and he had to swallow several times before he continued. "Thank you," he said, his voice small, as though he were embarrassed to have Tonks fight his battles for him. He was a man, and the werewolf gene helped him become stronger than most. For this slip if a woman to come and take down the strongest werewolf in all of England was quite a feat.

"Not a problem, Remus," Tonks replied, never taking her eyes off Fenrir.

"We'll have to bind him, and then I'll go and find Angus and tend to his wounds," Remus stated, stepping over to where Tonks's wand was aimed at the werewolf.

Tonk's nodded her head once, and then Remus watched as ropes shot out of her wand, encompassing the prone form of Fenrir.

Remus let out an unsteady breath as he touched Tonks's arm gently.

"I have to go now," Remus whispered. He sounded as though he didn't want to go, but duty came first.

"I know," Tonks whispered back. 'Stay safe," she finished, but he was gone before the words left her mouth.

Severus and Harry made their way over towards Voldemort. Harry's cloak was still in place, as was Severus's Disillusionment Charm.

There were several battles going on before them, but the Death Eaters were busy looking up at the night sky, firing off curses, to hear then pass by.

Severus knew it was risky, being out in the open like this, and his senses were screaming at him to find cover, but there wasn't any, so he had to push his common sense to the back of his mind and focus on the task at hand. He was busy trying to do just that as well as trying to avoid the Death Eaters, when his foot caught on a rock and he stumbled, his Disillusionment Charm fading away into nothing.

He righted himself just as the first Death Eater saw him. Bringing his wand up, he shouted the first curse that entered his mind, Rictusempra, and he watched as the Death Eater fell to the ground rolling around with laughter.

Severus had mere seconds before the other Death Eaters nearby would notice their fallen comrade, so he did the only thing he could think to do—he ran.

"Keep up," he shouted over his shoulder, and he felt Harry take off after him.

Severus knew they were running towards Voldemort, and there was nothing in the plan that foresaw this outcome; however, he didn't know what else to do. They were outnumbered and out in the open.

He felt a spell brush past his right ear, too close for comfort. He knew they were sitting ducks out here, and if it wasn't for Harry, he would have taken to the skies and flown all the way to Hagrid's hut.

All of a sudden, a light so bright that Severus had to close his eyes lit up the night sky. Dumbledore was not aware that the plan had been shot to Hades when Harry had decided to run off through the grounds in search of Voldemort, and therefore was still proceeding with the agreed strategy.

As the light faded, Severus caught a glimpse of Voldemort in the distance.

"Follow me," he shouted in the general direction of Harry as he found his footing and sprinted away towards Voldemort.

When the skies lit up as though it were daytime, Draco knew he had one shot at this. Aiming his wand at Bellatrix, he quickly fired off the Killing Curse. He hated his aunt with every fibre of his being, so he wasn't surprised to see the green light hit its mark. There was no time to rejoice, however, as he quickly fired off the same spell towards Rodolphus. Both witch and wizard lay dead in the snow at Voldemort's feet before he even had time to register what was happening.

Voldemort turned, looking at Lucius—the expression and malice on his face would haunt Draco's dreams for the rest of his life.

Severus and Harry were nearing the spot where they had last seen Voldemort. Breathing heavily, his body pumping adrenaline, Severus saw the first spell as it ricocheted off what he could only assume was Draco's shield.

"Up ahead," he yelled over his shoulder to where he could hear Harry's rapid breaths coming from under the Invisibility Cloak.

As he turned his head back to look towards where he was going, he saw the spell coming straight for him, and in the back of his mind, he knew he wouldn't have time to block it.

In the next split second, he was falling. He had collided with something solid, and it let out an unholy screech as he tripped over it. He put his hands up to make contact with the hard, snow-covered earth. His hands didn't make it in time, and he heard the sickening crack of his nose breaking just as he felt the blood start to run down his face.

Severus felt a hand under his arm helping him to stand. When he was righted, he dazedly asked, "What was that?" as he swiped his left sleeve underneath his bleeding nose and winced.

"I think it was Crookshanks," Harry replied, his voice a little uncertain.

"What is a Crookshanks?" Severus asked; he was breathing through his mouth, and his question came out nasally.

"He is Hermione's cat, but how he got here, I'll never know," Harry answered, perplexed.

"That doesn't matter now," Severus replied, "we can discuss it all later after we have defeated Voldemort."

Harry nodded his head in agreement as they hurriedly made their way over to the battle between Voldemort and Draco.

Voldemort was facing away from them as they came upon him. Draco looked as though he was exhausted, but he was still fighting. Severus looked towards the spot he assumed Harry was standing in and nodded his head once. He then hastily rolled up his left sleeve and lifted up his wand silently saying a slicing hex.

The blood welled up on Severus's arm, but before even a drop could fall on the snowy ground beneath his feet, he siphoned it up, using his wand.

Harry followed Severus's lead. Although they had discussed this very moment on numerous occasions, Harry still felt his wand hand shake slightly as he collected his blood within his wand. He turned towards Severus, before throwing the Invisibility Cloak to the ground and taking a deep breath. This was it.

"Voldemort," Harry yelled turning his body slightly to face the back of the Dark wizard.

Voldemort froze as he heard the unmistakable voice of Harry Potter. Sneering, he turned around. It was as though time were slowing down. It had been this precise moment that Voldemort had anticipated for the last eight years.

"Harry Potter, the boy that lived, come at last to seal your…" The words died upon his lips as he turned to face the thorn in his side. The boy was not alone, for there beside him was none other than Severus Snape.

Severus raised one elegant eyebrow. "Surprise."

"You!" Voldemort stuttered in rage, gripping his wand with white knuckled fury.

The look on Voldemort's face was priceless as he took in both Severus and Harry. Harry would have laughed out loud if they weren't in the middle of a war.

Voldemort stood there as though he were hit with a Stupefy as he looked back and forth from Harry to Severus. And then it was as though it all clicked into place. Lucius's betrayal; Severus standing before him when he had told Lucius to finish him off; Lucius's refusal to bring the Mudblood to Hogwarts; everything. How long had they all been plotting against him? No matter, he would dispose of the lot of them.

Neither Harry nor Severus said a word as they raised their wands.

"You think you can defeat me?" Voldemort bellowed, "I am the most powerful wizard alive!"

Draco had prepared his blood in his wand, and as he watched Harry and Severus lift up their own wands and point them towards Voldemort, he did the same.

As one the three wizards spoke the words to the ancient spell.

"Impreco vindictam sanguis," they said in unison as the blood fired from their collective wands hit Voldemort.

Voldemort recognised the ancient spell too late. There was no counter. The three participants had to use their own blood willingly and act together.

Voldemort's wand fell from his limp hand as he started to rip at his robes. He was burning literally from the inside out. Gasping for air, he felt his lungs begin to burn as he fell to his knees.

It happened so quickly. One second Voldemort was standing in front of Harry and the next he was on his knees clawing at the ground. Before his very eyes he witnessed Voldemort take his last breath before his entire body went up in flames.

Harry took a step backwards and felt Severus and Draco do the same. He could not take his eyes off the macabre scene before him.

As the smoke cleared, the three wizards, still with their wands pointed out, looked down at the smouldering piles of ashes where the Dark wizard had once stood.

In the end, it took the power of three to end Voldemort's life. As Harry, Severus and Draco stood in a circle, they looked up into each other's eyes. They dropped their wands to their sides, and Draco fell to his knees and wept. Severus and Harry said not a word, as they were going through their own emotions.

It was done, for now, and the wizarding world could once more feel secure in the knowledge that the Dark Lord was vanquished.

Day turned into night and back into day, although Hermione knew little of the passage of time. She sat in the all-encompassing darkness, her thoughts drawn inwards. Her breath came out in little puffs of smoke as she huddled on the bed of straw for some warmth. Her eyes had adjusted to the dark, and her abrasions had stopped bleeding and had become itchy. She scratched at them, just to feel something, opening up the wounds which would, on occasion, ooze tiny rivers of blood.

She became edgy. Time stood still.

She had broken her bed in an episode of uncontrollable rage; its twisted metal coils were sharp, and she had cut herself on one of them. The mattress was no more. She had expected her Master to show up then, to chastise her for her act of rebellion, but still he refused to come. A bed of straw appeared in the corner; it was scratchy and uncomfortable, but it was better than lying on the cold floor.

Her meals still arrived promptly by some unseen force. It was as though it were magic, as she never heard anyone enter or exit her home.

She was bored, and remembered a day in what seemed like another life when she wished for nothing but peace. Well, she had received her wish and she was truly regretting it now.

She had yelled, sounding more like an animal than a human being, banging on the door for hours until her hands bled, and her whole body ached. She had lain down and abased herself at the door in the submissive position that her Master liked until her whole body became numb and she was terribly thirsty.

Still, her Master refused to come.

It had to be some kind of test. She was good at those, wasn't she? Perhaps he was punishing her. She had done nothing wrong, at least in her mind—or had she?

Her head hurt if she thought too much; it hurt when she didn't. There was nothing to do but eat and sleep, but that soon became tedious to her.

She had gone on a hunger strike; her stomach twisted in knots until she could fight it no longer, and she had gorged herself on the meagre meal on the table. She had thrown up into the hole that had appeared in the middle of her home. The smell was unbearable; it crept into her nose, eyes, even into her pores. Soon it too became part of her hell, so she noticed it no more.

She felt as though she would die without his presence. It felt like a lifetime ago when she had seen him last.

Still her Master refused to come.

Well, there you have it. Sorry for the wait, I hope that it was worth it.

There will be a continuation of this story entitled 'From Darkness Comes Life', but I want to get a few chapters written before I start to post.

Thank you to my fantastic, and ever patient beta, AmyLouise! Without her, I would be lost, and I am truly blessed to have her.

I want to thank you all for reading and reviewing 'DIO', as it has been a story that has never left me even through my long absences.

Thank you to those who have stuck with me from the very beginning.

Love to all, Sonia

Translation of the spell Severus, Harry and Draco used on Voldemort is, "I invoke the Vengeance of the Blood."