A/N: Thank you for all the lovely reviews! Here's the last installment...hope I did you proud!
Minerva reached out with her mind and connected with Tom.
"Minerva," he sighed upon seeing her image in his mind.
"We have a problem."
"Join me; I want you out of there. It is entirely too dangerous."
"Listen to me!" Minerva said quite harshly. "I have Potter and his friends."
"Well done my love," Tom crooned.
"They have managed to destroy all of the horcruxes except for the one in Nagini." Minerva explained grimly. Tom's quick intake of breath managed to give Minerva a little time to prepare for his anger once again. This time however, he managed quite effectively to block the pain of it from her mind.
"I'm coming to you."
Simultaneously their minds broke apart as he apparated to her side. The wards circling the school had fallen hours before and there was no anti-apparition spells to block him. He landed quite ferociously but gently stroked the side of her face before he turned to face the three unconscious people on the floor.
"Where is Nagini?"
He looked over his shoulder at her. "She is safe for now," and then resumed his examination of the three young persons who had caused so many problems.
"I should kill them all right here," he whispered as though to himself. Minerva only watched on, never offering her own advice. She would have killed them herself if she hadn't known that he wanted that for himself; her anger that great.
"But no, they shan't get out of it that easily. We'll make them examples; show those who oppose us what happens when they fight against us."
Minerva's heart beat faster. Was this it? Finally time to take her place by his side? She could hardly believe it and when he gave her a long look she knew that's exactly what it meant. They grasped hands and turned once more to the crumpled bodies of Harry, Ron and Hermione, levitating them to float a few feet in the air. With renewed purpose the Dark Lord and his Lady began to make their way back to the Great Hall. The battle had subsided somewhat since Voldemort had mysteriously disappeared minutes before. The Death Eaters had no instruction whereas those opposing them were left to wonder what was going on; now scrambling to take stock of the damage.
So they walked side by side down the corridors, all those who bore witness to the sight of them backed away in horror. All that remained were fighting for the side of good thus making the sight of Minerva McGonagall on the arm of the Dark Lord unbelievable. Not only was she walking with him but she was doing it willingly.
There was no opposition anywhere and by the time that they strode into the Great Hall they had accumulated quite a group following behind them. No one even dared raise a wand in case this was all some sort of hoax; a strategy that the Dark Lord was using to distract them from fighting. Using one of their most beloved professors was certainly one way to keep the fighting at bay.
Lord Voldemort magnified his voice and demanded that everyone gather in the hall. Minerva's heart beat faster if possible when presented with the very real fact that this was the moment that all would learn of her true allegiance. She took her place by his side where once the staff table stood before Tom banished it from the room. The Headmaster's chair was still present and he conjured another ornate chair in which His Lady sat.
They watched as people filed into the hall. Only the Death Eaters were the ones without the shocked and disbelieving faces that announced the overall astonishment that McGonagall was in fact in cahoots with Lord Voldemort. Almost as if in suspended animation they listened as Voldemort announced that which would rock the wizarding world; Minerva was his Dark Queen. They would together reshape the world, and all who opposed them would be struck down. Having finished such an outrageous declaration there was a silence that dragged until several voices began shouting their outrage.
"Silence!" Voldemort bellowed and there indeed came silence once more. He stood and with great air lifted the prone bodies of Harry, Hermione and Ron into the air once more. Minerva took this time to survey those gathered. Among many of her pupils she also recognized Severus who stood out more than most wearing a pained expression. Next to him stood Bellatrix who looked ready to jump at the chance to cause more havoc.
"And for the first demonstration for those still wanting to fight us, I shall now dispense of these three who have been the beacon of light for many unwilling to accept the rebirth of our world." Voldemort announced as he brought the trio back to consciousness. They fell to the floor but scrambled to their feet and faced Minerva and Tom.
"But we can't have them without their wands can we?" He toyed.
All three caught their wands as they flew through the air toward them.
"Even if we die our hope still lives on." Hermione defended heatedly holding her own wand with determination.
Minerva couldn't help her heart swelling from pride as her former Gryffindors showed their bravery in the face of certain death. She knew that they would die fighting rather than giving up.
"How very admirable Ms. Granger," Minerva spoke. She stood and began walking slowly to where they stood. "Do you honestly believe that your little display of courage might bring about a revolution?"
"There doesn't have to be a revolution if we win." Ron spoke finally.
Voldemort laughed, the high shrill sound causing the three to grind their teeth.
"Let's see just how far your words will carry you," he challenged.
It was as if the three of them had rehearsed what to do if this situation ever arrived. Hermione whipped to the left and sent a killing curse at Bellatrix; knocking her several feet in the air before landing lifeless on the stone floor. She was still wearing that maniacal look that many feared but now would only be remembered in nightmares. Ron turned his wand to Minerva while Harry shouted his own spell at Voldemort. Both deflected the spells easily and Tom turned his wand to Hermione. Minerva had seen the murder in his eyes when Bellatrix had fallen.
"Protego!" Both Harry and Ron yelled just in time to protect Hermione from the dark curse that had shot out of the Dark Lord's wand straight for her.
That's when the crowd seemed to come out of their collective stupor and the fight once more began. Curses and spells were flying through the air. The Dark Lord and his Lady fought as one, cutting a hole through the crowd, putting all their considerable might into reaching Harry who had disappeared amongst the many bodies now converging to fight. Minerva aimed to incapacitate while Tom aimed to kill.
Suddenly Minerva was hit from behind and she stumbled, grabbing onto Tom's arm to prevent her fall. She turned and found Severus holding his wand aimed at her; a most peculiar expression on his face. Her own eyebrows knitted in confusion but that was all she allowed herself as she pulled herself to her full height facing him. She felt more than saw Tom moving away toward where he had last seen Harry.
"I thought you loved me." Minerva stated dryly. She had once again resumed using her wand out of habit. Now it was raised and pointed at him, something holding her back from uttering those two words which she had never before used. She walked over to him and stood a mere foot from him. She should have gone with Tom to get Harry but again there was a strange pull to Severus that she couldn't deny.
"You are better than this," he responded.
"What would you know? You, who have pined after a woman long ago lost to you. I have often wondered why you're love has switched from Lilly to me and I do believe I now know. You are jealous that your Lord has in the end gained back the love that had eluded him."
"You're wrong. I love you because I have seen the real you; the Minerva who used to care for this world instead of wanting to rule over it."
"That Minerva was a façade, a fake mask that was created by Dumbledore to fit his ambitions."
"Not so long ago we called each other friends, there is still time for redemption Minerva. There is always time for redemption," he urged quietly. His eyes were shining in his fervor and although she tried she could not deny that his words had caused a moment of doubt for the course she had chosen when becoming the Dark Lady.
"Not for me," she answered coldly after a moment's pause.
A curse flew from behind her and Severus had to jump out of the way. Minerva turned and saw Tom, eyes blazing, with his wand aimed at where Severus was. He nodded and then faced Harry whom he had been toying with. She watched as the killing curse struck the young boy and he was momentarily illuminated in green light before he fell to the ground. People screamed and suddenly the battle was over. Just like that a heavy silence descended but the only thing Minerva could focus on was Tom. As soon as the curse hit Harry, he too fell.
Something was wrong, she could feel it; something horribly wrong. She raced to his body and knelt down and touched his face. It was still warm and he was still breathing, but just only. A heart wrenching minute passed and his eyelids fluttered open, his red eyes settling on her worried face.
"I thought…" she let the sentence hang, not bearing to finish.
"You killed Harry and then fell yourself. I don't…you just…Merlin don't do that to me again." She had helped him to his feet and was looking over at Harry. He didn't seem to be breathing but one can never be too sure. Meanwhile the Death Eaters had kept everyone under control, waiting in trepidation for word on what to do now. Those fighting against Voldemort once again froze at the awful realization that Harry Potter may have just been slain.
"Is he alive?" Tom questioned.
"I don't know. It seems as though he is not." Minerva answered but walked over to his body to make sure. She kneeled next to him and gently laid her hand over his chest and felt for a heart beat. Just as she was going to pull back she felt it; the tiniest of beats. Her own beat faster as once again she knew that something was wrong. Before she could even open her mouth to pronounce him alive, Harry sprung up catching her completely off guard. She fell over onto her back and watched as though in slow motion as he aimed his wand and sent the killing curse back at Tom.
Harry's curse hit the Dark Lord square in the chest, toppling him to the ground where he lay motionless. Minerva's scream cut through the shocked silence. All around her the Death Eaters were attempting to flee but to no avail. Now it seemed as if time had completely stopped as well as her heart. Not just literally but figuratively. The bond that they shared was now broken and she could feel her power slowly leaving her; weak and alone she crawled over to the broken body of the one man she had ever truly loved.
"Minerva," Severus had appeared at her side, gently calling to her. She could barely hear him over the rushing in her head but she ignored him. All she could focus on was the unseeing eyes that once held so much life, so much promise; now gone. She took his face in her trembling hands and quietly kissed his cold lips. There were no tears in her eyes, for the grief she was feeling quite outshone such earthly displays of loss. Instead her very soul was crying.
"Leave me be." She said in response to Severus' second try to get her attention.
Finally she turned to him. His face bore witness to his own inner turmoil but it was his eyes that held her attention. They held such deep unyielding love that she found it painful to look upon them. Tearing her gaze away it was then she noticed just how quiet the Hall had become; everyone staring at the scene unfolding before them.
"What do you want from me Severus?" Minerva asked, her hands clutching Tom's robes, turning the knuckles white.
"You can still—"
"Still what? Save myself?" She gave a barking laugh that had many jumping from the amount of scorn in her voice.
"You have done nothing that is not unforgivable." He forged on; hope now shining feebly in his eyes.
"Except for loving the wrong man," she said softly.
Severus had nothing to counter with so he offered nothing in return, only staring at her pleadingly. She could feel herself slipping further and further yet wondered why she was still alive. With the bond so irrevocably broken she should have been dead by now. Then she remembered that Tom still had one horcrux that had survived – Nagini. Yes her power was waning but it wasn't completely gone. Tom had split his soul so it only made sense that if only one were left it would be a splintered piece and thus resulting in her own power being affected. Just as hope began to build in her it was dashed when a shout rang out.
"I found the snake! I found the snake!"
Minerva tried to jump to her feet but she was too weak. Severus looked ready to offer his help but her withering look stopped him; she would not be pitied.
Neville was ushered into the circle around which everyone had gathered to witness the Dark Lord's defeat. Behind him, looking angry and frightened was Nagini floating in a sphere of soft blue light. Minerva hissed and those closest gave startled looks but she cared not of what they thought. All that mattered was the snake which housed the very last piece of Tom Riddle.
"Neville, how in the world did you manage to find it?" Ron asked as he stepped away from Hermione, who had been clutching onto him for support, and stared wide eyed at the snake.
"Does it matter?" Harry asked suddenly. "Kill it now."
Minerva's mind was screaming no but she kept silent.
"Use the sword." Hermione supplied. She looked around and caught Minerva's eyes. "Do it before he has another chance to come back."
Minerva's eyes narrowed but she still remained quiet.
"Why the sword?" Neville asked. His was among many voices now asking various questions.
"Before who has another chance?"
"She doesn't really mean Voldemort does she?"
"But he's dead, how can he come back?"
The questions continued to ring loudly while someone went to retrieve the sword of Godric Gryffindor. It was brought forth in a great display and even though none but Harry, Hermione, Ron, Severus and Minerva knew the real meaning behind using the sword, everyone gathered waited with bated breath. The last physical sign of Lord Voldemort was going to be taken from this earth and using the sword was the most symbolic way of doing it.
"Wait." Severus commanded and walked to where Minerva still sat next to the body of Voldemort.
"Have you had enough yet?" His voice came out angrily. "There is still time to save yourself; undo the bonding," the gentle suggestion coming out as a whisper.
Minerva's glare was her answer and she watched as Severus fought an inner battle. Save the snake and possibly save Minerva, or kill the snake which would ensure her death. He struggled until the decision was taken from him.
"She's made her choice." Harry declared. He may have looked confident but Minerva still saw the uncertainty which clouded his features. Her alliance with the Dark Lord was undeniable but she was still their beloved Transfigurations Professor; hypocritical as that may be.
"So be it." Severus concurred as he too stood, but not before gently running his hand along her cheek.
Harry raised the sword high and just as the blue light disappeared from around Nagini and she had slammed to the floor, he brought it down. The head was sliced cleanly off where it landed with a dull thud a few feet from Minerva. Her lungs suddenly felt as though they were getting no air, breaths coming in short puffs till her power and very life essence were drained from her.
She lay where she had fallen; at the side of her Dark Lord.