A/N - Wow. The response I got from the last chapter was off the charts. I didn't think that many people even liked Ron. Well here is something a little different. Something I've wanted to explore a little. It's not as far as I would like to go, but that would take a small fic to do so.

Chapter 25

Vengeance of a Valkyrie

The Professors of Hogwarts rallied to the cause when they saw the stream of people emerge from the storm shrouded night. Somehow, for some reason, all the Inferi, which were guarding the shelter of Hogwarts had turned and began moving away, ignoring the mass of people that huddled together and snuck past the entropic bodies.

Still, Hermione and her knowledgeable co-workers raced past the gates with tumbling armor and flying works of stone as their vanguard. Spells blazing and cutting a patch for the refugees.

Hermione, her large dark eyes searching for that beloved patch of red, was a terror to the creatures. With Dragon Fire and an encyclopedic knowledge of spells at her command dozens fell around her as she shrugged her way through the panicked mass.

"Ron!" she yelled, her eyes glowing and smile forming on parted wet lips, eager to claim her husband. "Ron!"

She barely noticed when the stone walls she had conjured for a safe corridor into the school melted away into mud. "Ron!" She cursed and leveled the silver rod of death and laid low another set of walking corpses.

She wondered why they were all walking away from the school and left the Villagers alone as they ran through. Was the attack over? Was there still another group out there in the darkness? Past the wards of Hogwarts the rain staggered her and she was drenched to the bone in short order. Wiping the water out of her eyes she stood on her toes and looked back at the last of the refugees just moving through the gates. She must have missed him in the throng somehow.

Suddenly the Inferi stopped again and started to wander aimlessly. She jumped back and slipped in the gravel and mud as the ones closest to her reach out and snagged a bit of her long thick hair. She grunted as a small clump was torn out and countered quickly with a sizzling burst of white fire that surrounded her and a silver birthed ball of incandescent blue engulfed the chest of one of her assailants and sent it reeling back into its brothers.

"Hermione!" she heard Minerva screech out her name in terror and suddenly animated suits with swords falling like autumn leaves were around her in a tight guard. She felt the strong grip of a gargoyle on her shoulders and with a yank she was air born, carried back through the safe confines of the gates.

She landed with a grunt as the thoughtless animation dropped her on the ground rather than set her gently. She nursed her wounded bottom as Minerva dropped to her knees beside and began a close inspection.

"Merlin's beard, child! What were you thinking! You scared me half to death!"

"I'm fine, Minerva. Seriously, I'm fine," she waved off the gentle hands that were tending to her bleeding scalp.

"Well, I'm not! Charging out there like a first year student without a care in the world! Recklessness is what it was!"

Hermione ignored the comment and looked around at the throng of crying villagers and battle-worn Aurors. "Where's Ron?" she asked when she didn't immediately spot him.

"Don't close the gates!" A man shouted out and sent off a frantic spell that halted the progress of the great iron seals. "We've a man left out there!"

Hermione immediately saw who he was and struggled to her feet. Her eyes darted from the gates to his face as his words sank in. "No…" she struggled to voice the word. She walked slowly towards him and when he spotted her, her face turned away and towards the ground.

"Chipper?" she used his nickname that Ron called him. "Where's Ron? Where's my husband?"

The man refused to look at her and tried to turn away, but she grabbed his shoulder and spun him around.

"Answer me!"

Flockhaven's eyes darted to hers and then out past the gates. "He-He's still out there. He drew their attention so we could make it through…"

Hermione gasped and took an involuntary step back, her hand rising to her mouth. She spun around and started racing towards the gates.

"Hermione!" Flockhaven called from behind her and she felt an arm wrap around her waist and pull her away.

"Let go of me!" she screamed. "Let go!"

"It's too late!" he said in a chocked voice. "He would've been back by now…"

She twisted from his arms and with her strength delivered a full arm slap around his cheek. "You vile traitor!" she hissed. "You left him! You left him to die! To those…things!"

"Hermione!" Flockhaven implored and reached out a hand only to have to slapped away and a wand, sparking with emotions pointed between his eyes.

"Don't…touch me! He's still out there! And I'm going to bring him back!" Her wand swung around and a broom leapt from the startled hands of a woman standing by watching the fight.

Hermione swung it between her legs and kicked off. She was horrible on a broom though. She tilted and buckled as she tried to get it under control. Her legs hanging out instead of tucked under her and she was holding it too close to her body causing it to veer off.

"Don't be stupid, woman! You can't go out there!" Flockhaven called from below her. His voice fell on deaf ears though as she stuttered into the sky and past the gates of Hogwarts.

"I'm coming, Ron…I'm coming," was her mantra. Whispered over and over again.

She hung just out of reach of the Inferi; their heads tilted up and sickly arms rising through the air like some sort of perverted worship. Moaning their pained and tortured souls out to her.

Suddenly and rain died off as quickly as it had come. The dark invisible clouds broke apart and the star speckled sky cast their glittering light onto the small lake on the ground. Inferi trudges through the bloodied waters, splashing up bits of grass. If it wasn't for them she wouldn't have known if she was right side up the reflection of the sky would have been so still.

The wind that was trying to hard to fling her to the ground died off like a choked off howl. And those shambling, stuttering, voices of the accursed dead stopped and stood still, to watch the silent flight of the Valkyrie. So beautiful and tragic in her quest for the lost warrior.

Her mantra repeating over and over again. A vigil against her fears. Those liquid pools of chocolate sliding across the landscape, looking for some sign of spell or life in that watery wasteland of the dead. The minutes went by. Then an hour, and by that time her voice had faded off. Still The Inferi made no move and just stood silently watching her. Covetous eyes on the one who had that which was denied them…life.

Salty diamonds dropped from lidded eyes into the water below sending small ripples around pale feet. No sign of life. No spot of red. No baritone melody calling the name of his beloved.

"Ron…" she whispered at last and pulled up to look around. Her head hung down. Hair falling around her face and catching the drops of grief as they fell. "Please be alive."

"You seek the Auror, Witch?" a deep voice asked of her.

She whipped around with a start and almost fell off the broom in her haste as it tilted and wobbled under her. Off to the right and slightly above her a hooded figure in sterling silver watched behind a cloudy face.

"Who are you?" she asked, knowing the answer, but daring the question anyways.

The head tilted and she could feel his eyes study her and her wand clenched tightly in her fist.

"I am…Sebastian. Viceroy to the Prime of the Council of Phyre."

If Hermione was impressed, which she wasn't, she showed not an inch on her face, lit by the brilliant reflection of his robes.

"Where is my Husband?"

Sebastian regarded her again for a moment and gave a small shake of his head. "Ah. No wonder you foolishly leave the safety of that school. Love. So fittingly…reckless."

His wand took aim behind him and a yellow light, like the afternoon rays of a sun fell on the ground. The Inferi scattered like parchment to the wind to escape its painful glare. There, in the flood waters, laying splayed in a vision of martyrdom, a body and a hint of orange peeked out. Hermione gave a small frantic sob and with surprising speed darted with the broom past Sebastian and fell to the ground at her beloved's side.

"RON!" she cried out. Her arms pulling him up into her lap. "…Ron?" she questioned softly. Tucking some wet matted hair behind his ear. His face was open like a book, with wide eyes staring beyond her. His mouth was open in surprise. Lips already blue and cold in death…Death.

"R-Ron?" she asked again and gave him a little shake. "I'm here, Honey. You-You've got to pull through this…"

"His…was a valiant fight," said Sebastian behind her. "Brilliant in truth. If your Aurors are the best, he was…an impressive example."

"Ronald Weasley," her voice hiccupping her grief, "You have to come back to me. Rose…Remember Rose? Harry? Ginny? We all need you!"

"A last stand it was." Sebastian continued. His voice dripping with sarcasm that slithered into her ears with venomous delight. "He almost escaped, but I couldn't allow that. After all…every last stand, must have its death."

Hermione closed her eyes and let loose a screech of pain and grief that grated like a knife against bone. A howl of profound loss. She collapsed against his body, her sobs coming in earth quaking waves.

"Every Hero must be an example. An Auror to the last. All to save a pathetic village that left them to rot at the mere glimpse of safely."

Her eyes opened slowly and her cries died away. Her lips, salty and bitter, kissed the sweet forehead of Ronald Bilius Weasley. Ignoring the bitter taste of mud, dirt and smoke. The cleansing kisses left marks of her worship. A farewell. A preparation.

"Tell me young teacher," that devilish voice behind her questioned, "Was coming out here to your death worth it? For an Auror? For a husband?"

Yes. A preparation of vengeance.

She turned her head towards the man. The Killer. And in those eyes, Sebastian stirred and felt uneasiness. They were not the eyes of a schoolteacher. Not the eyes of a bereft wife or a grieving mother. Not the voice of a broken woman or a scared witch.

They were simply- Eyes. Empty. Hollow. Eyes that had cast away everything for one purpose. Him.

Hermione felt everything go blank inside of her. A clean slate of emotionless hatred. And in that tiny corner of her soul. Something locked away so tightly that it had never seen the light or known of its own existence. Something stirred. A vitality. A consciousness. An awareness of evil capabilities. For truly every man or woman has darkness inside them. And that darkness rose from the trench of her mind like a roaring behemoth. Casting away love, regard, compassion and mercy alike.

She had studied libraries of spells and magical knowledge since she was eleven. Filing away every spell and tidbit she could find. Her memory was vast and flawless. Her intelligence a thing without peer. Every word she had read and lesson she had heard was there. A vault of magical might unequaled except by the startling abnormalities of Albus Dumbledore and Tom Riddle. And that darkness took it. It took it all and unified it. Pulling everything she was capable of and knew into a powerful cohesion. A package for murder.

"His name," her voice rigid with frost, "Is Ron!" Her arm swiped through the air and a sharp shriek cut through the air as the spell sizzled past Sebastian to strike his broom.

He jump back in surprise and his wand soon followed and trailed quickly towards the bereft witch and with an oath the deadly green light, with its fatalistic rushing would, briefly lit her face before vanishing into the night. He barely had time to think about the miss before he was under assault.

Hermione stood hunched over. A wild and ungainly posture. Wet and stringy hair failing over her flat eyes in tangled bangs. Her potent wand, used for marvelous creations over the years, now spat forth destruction. With a dip the earth gave a groan and opened up under the murderer. He jumped back and sent another killing curse her way that missed its mark by inches. She sent a spell with every plodding and splashing step she took.

Sebastian darted to the left and with him a thin orange curtain fountained from his wand and tried to envelope Hermione. With a twirl the water at her feet rose up and washed the caustic dust away, and like a hand reaching forth, closed in on the surprized wizard and tried to grab him.

Suddenly several hands grabbed at Hermione and bore her to the ground, breaking her control over the water. She whispered a string of Latin and a cloud of glitter enveloped the air like a rainbow that had been shattered into a million pieces. Every Inferi touched by the cloud fell over, its magical fuel extinguished.

She rolled to the right as a thin line of fire, nuclear white, split the water in a cloud of steam and blistered the side of her face. She rolled back into the evaporated air for cover, just in time as a dark spell speared the ground where she had been, the water suddenly turning rancid and foul. The Inferi still tried to get at her, but she expanded her fluttering defense and none could step within twenty paces. The vapor parted and with the brief second she spotted him running towards the trees, instinct kicked in. Like a predator she broke into a run, chasing down her prey. Hungry for his blood.

A several spells flashed overhead and felled a tree in his path. He slid to a stop and darted to the right, sending another killing curse her way. She dashed behind a tree, twirled to the other side, and flicked her wand with a seemingly careless air. She once again took control of the rain water puddled at their feet, and lifted it into the air. With a duel spell and a slight twist the water froze instantly, trapping him in mid flight.

He tapped the ice with his wand and it cracked and shattered with a loud snap. Hermione tilted her head and smirked. With a reverse twirl the icy fragments spun faster and faster like a small black hurricane. The jagged shards tore his robes and skin alike and with a desperate cry he threw himself to the ground and a small lavender igloo-like dome encased him. From within the barrier another line of fire, with its brilliant white intensity, tried to claim her life and only a chance slip on some muddy ground saved it. She sent a rabid looking spell of darkest blood at his impromptu little fortress to no effect, it seemed to just swallow her spell and grow stronger.

There was a small lull in their duel as they reached a small standstill, as Sebastian tried to figure out ways to escape and Hermione thought through the best ways to kill him.

"You have some skill, it seems, Professor, but I am fortified by the Book of Phyre and all its secrets. Give this up and save yourself. If this goes on I will only kill you," he called out, his voice slightly cracked with worry.

Hermione ignored his pathetic taunts and whining and did the last thing he would expect. Sent more spells at his barrier. A cracking red stunner and a silly little jelly legs jinx. A burning dark Incendio and powerful vanishing charm. With each spell the dome grew larger and more solid, and still she kept up her assault. A burning horde of fiendish looking dogs were snuffed out as they through themselves against his protections. A swarm of squirrels reverted back into small rocks as they tried to sneak through his small opening and the eerie green glow of a killing curse simply vanished.

Inside this igloo shaped spell Sebastian began to sweat and strain to hold up the increasingly powerful spell, drawing more and more of his concentration as they shield grew ever more elaborate. His breath came out in pants and when one of the great trees of the dark forest gave a great snap and fell against his walls, he buckled, and with a whirling explosion of violet hues his spell failed him.

Hermione watched as his disappeared beneath of massive branches of the tree and conjured and transfigured a small army. She stepped over the mounds of Inferi that were still trying in vain to get past her protections and sent her small host into the wreckage. Small curses and flashes of light told her he was still alive and disposing of the animals she had sent to distract him. Words were beyond her at the moment as she stepped gingerly around the great trunk. From where she was she couldn't get a good shot at his partially hidden body, so she did the next best thing.

She stepped back and with a feral snarl sent a black curse that spun like a saw blade. Whatever it touched instantly decayed and fall apart, becoming black ash in the time between seconds. A hoarse scream drew from her an almost orgasmic sigh from her and she shuddered in pleasure at the sound. Sebastian staggered into view, one of his hands missing, but curiously not bleeding. He stared in horror as the wound at his wrist began to crawl slowly up his arm. Withering away flesh and then bone as the spell ate at him.

"This-This spell," he gasped out, but dived to the side as a curse of sickly yellow tried to claim him. He raised a shaky hand and returned with a Killing Curse. There was no effort involved however and as it struck the demented looking Professor she just shrugged off the failed spell and returned with one of her own. A fallen corpse of an Inferi shot through the air and intercepted the green death, and continuing to hover it he flung it desperately at Hermione. With a contemptuous flick the body veered off and crashed into a tree, but a bludgeoning charm, hidden behind the body struck her in the shoulder and spun her around to the ground.

She looked up and through the mud caked to her face their eyes met. Still empty and wide visions of Sebastian's death seemed to find their way into the dark reflections. She brought her wand to her other hand and without a pause cut off her smallest finger. She gritted her teeth against the pain and as the sacrifice of blood and flesh sank into the ground she savored the spidery incantation she whispered out. Jagged lines of vibrant blue, like a broken glass, shot from where her blood and finger vanished and touched the disenchanted Inferi around her. Where the lines touched the bodies stirred and groaned. Slowly they stood, their eyes glowing that same azure, empowered by her spell.

"Kill him," she ordered and they turned as one towards Sebastian, who was franticly trying to stop the curse that had eaten his arm past his elbow. The wizard, once so calm and vicious in his poise whimpered and tried to apperate away, but the wards erected by the Council stopped him as well. He backed away and franticly tried counter spell after counter spell on Hermione's curse, each one rebuked.

"Wait!" he pleaded, "We can make a deal!"

Hermione watched on impassively, through her wild and dirty hair. When he tried to run, she charmed a tree near him and roots, shot from the ground and knocked him back. Vines rose from the ground and wrapped around his arms pinning them to his sides. Around him the animated bodies closed and pressed down. Their hands, wet and soft like a sponge, held him and closed on his throat, cutting off his air.

"Stop," she commanded and walked to space between her and the murderer. She stared down into his terrified eyes and knelt. "Harry told me about this spell. And the incantation so I would know to recognize it. I'm not going to kill you. No, you're going to live as long as I do. In pain. In agony. No one will save you, no one will help you and no one will be able to kill you. Even if you are burnt to dust, still you'll live on. In pain."

Sebastian's face twisted into something animal-like as he degenerated into something resembling a trapped deer in his struggles. A wolfish grin captured Hermione's lips as her wand grew closer by the second to his chest. When it touched his skin a flash light, blinding in its intensity, lit the darkness.

Sebastian tried to scream, but something stopped his throat. He felt a pressure behind his eyes that grew and grew until he was thrashing about, his body flopping like a fish on land. An intensity spread from his chest down to his fingers and toes and without warning blood erupted from every pore in his body. Bones rent their through his skin, all of them and knitted back together in some misshapen form. His flesh disappeared under his muscles and his heart, still beating wildly met the night air. Thought was gone from him. Lost forever as his brain leaked through his skull and mended around the bone like a soft grey shell. Crimson like spilled from him, but never touched the ground and continued to flow through veins and arteries that now shown like the roots of a weed.

When the curse had finished its work whatever was once Sebastian was gone. In its place was a mangled body of something twisted and grotesque. The curse had turned him inside out. Literally. It knew no thought, no sight, nor could it scream for its mouth and tongue where no longer there. It couldn't move, but it quivered. And it would stay that way until either Hermione released it from its torment or she died.

With a few swishes of her wand she carved out a hole in the ground and tossed the creature into it. Throwing the earth back over the top of it, she turned and started her trek back towards her Husbands body, still lying dead in the cold water. Alone in the night.

Revenge was…satisfying.