A/n: This story picks up directly after Katerina Ivanovna has died. In this story, I removed Svidrigolov so there is no one to give Sonia money and take care of the other children. I wanted to see what Sonia would do when put under in the ultimate situation of despair.

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"You see, Sonia!" Raskolnikov cried, pointing to the form of Katerina Ivanovna. "It's just as I said! She is dead, though blood still drips down her face! What will you do now, Sonia?" He sneered coldly, his face disfigured by cruelty, though in his chest his heart beat unbearably fast. "And what will she do now?" He wondered, trembling in anticipation. "Can it be her trust in God will help her even now? No, impossible!" He watched intently, as Sonia stared at the dead body of her mother.

"No, she can't be dead," Sonia said faintly, sinking to the floor. "She can't be…dead…"

"Doctor, isn't she dead?" Rodia demanded.

The Doctor, wanting nothing more than to leave this bare and sinful room, shook his arm free from the young man's insistently gripping fingers, put on his hat and left.

"You see, no hope!" Rodia cried gleefully. "Now we shall see, now we shall see! Look, Sonia, see the New Testament on the shelf! Read again the story of Lazarus, perhaps Katerina Ivanova will be raised from the dead!"

Sonia turned quickly to him, her dark eyes filled with anger. "Do not speak that way of God's Word! You don't understand, you will never understand!" Her breath became uneven and she put a hand over her face to hide the beginning tears.

"I understand you have no hope in the world now! Katerina Ivanovna is dead, and with her have died her crazed plans and hopes. Or do you still plan to open the girl's boarding school, Sonia? Hm, yes, you'd better get ready straight away! Find your best dress, put on the green shawl and go about town to get some money. Polenka will write the letters to all the rich ladies, telling them of the school to come, and how you will have the best teachers and lessons, won't you now?" Rodia looked with glittering eyes at the little girl, who was clinging to her brothers and sisters, shaking with tears.

"How can you be so cruel?" Sonia burst out, heaving with sobs. "We have no one, no one in the world, and you mock our pain? The devil has still not let go of you, he is making you do terrible things. Don't you understand? You must confess!"

"Be quiet, Sonia," Rodia said sternly at once, glancing about the room in wild fear that someone might have heard her. 'What I do is my own business, and none of yours. You look to your own business! If not a boarding school, what then, eh? Shall you put the green shawl on Polenka and send her out with a yellow ticket?"

Polenka whimpered in terror and looked to Sonia.

"You are the devil!" Sonia screamed, taking all her little siblings in her arms and looking in agony at Raskolnikov. "Why are you saying these things? Go away, Rodia, please," she added, subsiding into her normal timid and submissive state. "We have to make arrangements for the…for the funeral, and now I must ask the Kapernaumovs if they can lend me some blankets and pillows for the children…so please go, we have much work to do still tonight," she finished, looking at him from beneath sorrowful brows.

"H'm! Still hoping for the best," Rodia muttered, turning away and pacing before the pitiful body laid out on the bed. "Blankets and pillows—it will keep them warm for the night, but what about their stomachs, eh? What will fill them? Perhaps you'll merely do…more work, Sonia, do you understand? More work would earn more money for food, only…where will the children stay while you work?" He grinned like a madman.

Sonia looked up at him with her childish eyes, and then buried her face on Polenka's shoulder.

"It must be so," Rodia said, beginning to weave like a drunken man as he paced up and down. "There is no other hope…you will tell her to go out, and she will say, 'Sonia, must I really do a thing like that?' but you—you will not be as Katerina Ivanovna was. No, what will she be like?" Raskolnikov paused, musing dazedly to himself. "She will not say, 'some treasure!' No, but what will she say? Sonia, what will you say?" He turned abruptly to her. "Or will you all go mad, perhaps that's what will happen. Oh, go on and cry. Crying does no use…Sonia, you fool, you should have stolen that money from Peter Petrovich! You should have stolen that hundred ruble note…no, Sonia, I tell you what we'll do." Rodia's voice and eyes glittered and twitched, and Sonia looked up in fear, her face still dripping.

"What—what are you talking about?"

"Only listen! Peter Petrovich is very wealthy, you saw all that money yourself. He got thrown from his rooms, but…we can find him. And he is an evil man, more evil than me. We will find him, and…can you guess what we'll do then? We can easily be rich."

"No! Oh, Rodia, no, we can't do that! I won't do evil, not even…no, I can't do it!"

Raskonikov gestured violently with both his arms. "You won't do evil. Not even to live? What has made you such an angel? Or are you a demon? Only a demon would let her family starve, and they will starve."

"Oh no, no, they will not starve," Sonia cried, holding Polenka tighter as the children set up a wail. "They will not starve, they will not," she repeated breathlessly, her glazed and frightened eyes traveling around the bare room, and she shuddered whenever they came to rest on the bed.

The feverish light went out in Raskonikov's eyes, and his knees failed him; he sank to the floor, head bowed over the bare floorboards. "No…they will not starve," he said at last, his arms shaking as they tried to support him. "Stay here, Sonia, and…and I will return in one hour."

He left the apartment, hearing the children's cries fade into the night. He was shaking again as if in fever, and he swallowed repeatedly, feeling a strange dry tightness in his throat. "They will not starve," he repeated, walking slowly but with purpose. "No…they will not starve. In fact they…they will flourish." The daylight had by now completely faded away, and the passersby in the street were lifeless shadows. He was unnoticed as he slipped into the alley, creeping down it and finally into the large courtyard, and approaching the stone.

"They will not starve," he said under his breath, setting his hands on the sides of the rock, and preparing to push at it. He braced his knees and took his mind to the task with great difficulty, as he was now shaking violently from head to foot, and he gasped in terror at ever settling of the rubbish heaps, and every patter of a stray animal's paws, as it rooted about in the garbage for a scrap to eat. Finally Rodia set his shoulders and pushed against the rock, enough for it to tip back, and with his booted foot he pushed out to the side the objects secreted beneath. When he let the stone settle back, he stooped to the ground and shoved the money and valuables down his shirt, then wildly slapping the dirt from his knees, he left the courtyard.

"Sonia will not take this money, if she knows what it is," he said huskily to himself, dodging shadows on the way back to the apartment. "But it's all right. I'll tell her a priest gave it to me, or some nonsense like that, she'll believe it, she's so simple."

All at once Raskolnikov froze. "Has God, then, provided for Sonia after all? She believed in it and it has come, her salvation. She will prosper with this money. But money from crime? Has God provided through a thief and murderer? Is this the God Sofia Semianovna believes in? No, impossible. It must be, then, that I have not committed a crime! It must be I am on a divine mission, yes, I am doing good, as I always knew it—I am a true leader after all, my theory is proven! My first step has proven successful after all! The money has been taken from evil and been given for good. That was a terrible first step, but I see I only had to wait for it to ripen. It was well that I did not eat the fruit while it was still bitter, I would have suffered even more. But as it is…yes, I will give this money to Sonia, and then…I will go to the next step. That next step is all so dark before me…but I…I will find it."