The voice came from nowhere and everywhere. "You stupid, filthy Mudblood."
Hermione had never heard a voice so full of hatred and rage and she turned to try to find the source but only the masks could be seen. "If you have the courage to speak to me that way, then you have the courage to reveal yourself."
"I owe my husband's whore nothing." Belatrix stepped out on a higher platform and looked down over the two trapped in the deadly circle. She threw her mask over her shoulder and grinned maliciously.
Sirius nudged Hermione and she groaned. "It's a long complicated story." She muttered in response and threw him a quick pleading look then to the Death Eater. "I sent your husband alive back to your side when I could have let him die."
"Yes you did and that was so very kind." The sugar sweetness of her tone made the hair on the back of Hermione's neck stand on end. "You silly, lovesick fool."
And at that moment Hermione understood. Tears welled in her eyes and her entire body trembled in a mixture of rage and sorrow. Her heart felt like it was ripping in two as she looked up at the dark witch then around at the surrounding death eaters. Rodolphus was here, serving his master with loyalty and vengeance and she meant nothing.
"Hermione," Sirius hissed behind her. "Are you still with me, darlin'?"
She nodded and watched the white masks close in. Her power crackled and she felt a wind from nowhere blow her hair around her face. Glaring around at the masked figures she took a deep breath and centered her power and the first round began.
Sirius and Hermione ducked and dived to avoid the flying red curses. One flew by her ear and she smelt her singed hair. Hermione rolled under another barrage of curses; red and hot they whizzed and hissed. From her low position she fired three well aimed curses and two Death Eaters fell.
Sirius fell at her side, avoiding another curse by half an inch. "Impressive, Granger." He grinned and winked before rolling again and firing another four curses. They both watched as two more wizards fell.
More curses flew as the other wizards engaged. All bets were off now that the first wave had been floored easily. Hermione and Sirius ducked and threw more curses.
"You know, it's great that we're not dead yet." Sirius yelled back and they ducked together, throwing curses in opposite directions.
"You noticed that huh?" A fireball singed her arm and she cried.
"We can't keep this up." He quickly soothed the burn and the exchanged look.
"Alright _" they ducked more curses as the dark army seemed to be moving in new formation. "First we don't know how many of these white masks are really members; last time they used hordes of civilians under the Imperious." She pulled a little glass ball from her pocket. "I'm going to count to three and we're both going to jump."
"One, two, three." They both jumped and Hermione threw the ball onto the hard ground.
The ball exploded and a white gas spread fast, covering the floor and engulfing all of the white masks, sucking them down and under the floor. The whole process took less then a second and when Hermione and Sirius landed it was on a new clear floor, seemingly made up of white masks and morbidly still bodies.
All that were left were a circle of twenty green masked wizards and they shifted back restlessly. The hissing comments sounded more and more fearful as they got louder.
"What the fuck, Granger?" Sirius hopped from one foot to the other, taking in the ghastly new mosaic beneath their feet.
"Relax, they're not dead, just in stasis, we'll release them after."
A wild, rage filled scream pierced the air and they both turned to see Belatrix jump from the platform and down to the floor. The other Death Eaters stayed back, looking at one another in earnest. They were much braver when the white masks stood in the front line.
Belatrix flew at Hermione, hands outstretched and screeching like a banshee. "You filthy, mudblood whore!"
Sirius and Hermione jumped to the side easily and the crazed witch shot past and fell to the hard floor. She was breathing hard as she stared wide eyes down at the white faces.
The muggleborn looked down at the dark witch with a mixture of fear and disgust. "Yeah you said that already. You really don't think that I know about my bloodline? And yes I was your husband's -" She took a shuddering breath. "Whore. But he returned to you, he chose you. When he was struggling for life he called for you!"
It took Sirius' hands on her shoulders to pull her back and Hermione realized that she was crying. She looked up at him, afraid to meet his gaze, but unable to not. What she saw in his expression was not what she expected. Sirius looked down at her with a mixture of sympathy and something else but before she could analyze the look Belatrix laughed, a high pitched sound that made their ears hurt.
"Your lies won't save you, Mudblood." She hissed stepping towards Hermione.
Her confusion lasted only a moment but it was long enough for Belatrix to utter the killing curse and before they could move the green light was splitting the air.
Hermione was suddenly thrown to the side and Sirius to the opposite direction. She looked to see the killing curse fly by and barely miss the two large figures that had pulled Hermione and Sirius out of the way.
All she could do was watch as Belatrix screamed and fell motionless to the floor.
The witch was dead.
Hermione gasped, her heart beating so fast it hurt. She looked around for the one who had killed Belatrix and thought she might pass out at what she saw.
Rodolphus Lestrange stood tall and broad over the body of his dead wife. His face flushed with rage and he was breathing hard. He looked so much larger now as dangerous in his anger as Hermione remembered. As she looked at his rising and falling back she couldn't help but remember when it felt like to touch him, to be touched by him and new tears welled. She missed him.
No! The only reason he had for killing his wife was betrayal. More then likely he had requested the right to kill his slave himself, as he had promised he would.
Sirius looked at the man who had pulled him out of the way and grinned. "Rabastan!"
"Sirius," Rabastan puffed. "How's by you?"
Sirius Blinked. "Correct me if I'm wrong, Lestrange but aren't you traditionally on the pro side of my death?"
"Ordinarily, yes." Rabastan shrugged and tipped his head towards the spot where Hermione still gazed up at a very still Rodolphus. "The mud… Muggleborn is something special."
"Well I could have bloody told you that."
It was then that Rodolphus turned to Hermione, still on her knees. She didn't recognize his expression and his eyes were guarded. If her life was the only one in danger, Hermione would not have risen to her feet. If it was only she and Rodolphus standing face to face she would have welcomed death at his hand, death was preferable to a life without him.
But she was not alone. One hand moved protectively over her abdomen and she flicked a quick look at Sirius, he was out of the way. Standing she raised her wand and pointed it directly at his heart; the irony was not lost on her.
The room was suddenly filled with wind and sound as the Order arrived. One by one Harry, Fred, George, Bill, Ron appeared followed closely by Remus, Snape, and Dumbledore.
"Well you took your bloody time!?" Sirius yelled then his face paled at the sight of Harry.
The boy gazed at him through glassy eyes. He was older, taller, harder. "Sirius…"
"There's no time, Potter!" Sirius bellowed and pointed to the green masked Death Eaters when had reclaimed their courage and were advancing. Harry sprung into action, throwing Sirius one last look before yelling orders at the already positioned redheads. Then he saw Hermione facing the large Death Eater and froze. He growled lips pulling back from his teeth but before he could attack a loud hiss sounded behind him and he found himself face to face with his hairless nemesis. While the Order and the dark army dueled, Harry and Voldermort circled one another.
Rodolphus, oblivious to the clashing around them looked right back at Hermione, his wand held firmly at his side. "Are you going to kill me, witch?"
Tears slipped unchecked down her cheeks but she squared her shoulders and stood straighter. "Don't think I won't." She spoke between clenched teeth.
"I don't doubt that." He replied and dropped his wand to the floor and the sound echoed around the enclosed space making the fighting wizards turn.
Something drew the attention of the dark and light wizards and none of them understood why.
Hermione watched, suddenly dizzy as Rodolphus fell to his knees in front of her. Suddenly his eyes were no longer guarded and what she saw made her gasp.
"I know that you would kill me, Hermione and nobody would blame you." He paused and spread his arms wide, a sign of surrender. "But where else would I want to be, when I die?"
They were her words. He was using them against her, tricking her. She put more force behind her wand, so much she trembled with it. A sob shook her body and the wand dropped from her fingers.
It took Rodolphus three quick movements to be on his feet, striding to her side and sweeping the slight witch into his arms. "Hermione," he breathed into her hair, wrapping his arms around her waist and shoulders. "My witch, my love."
His words sang and danced through her mind and tingled down her spine. She could only stare and breath, looking up at his ruggedly handsome face, his deep soulful eyes and his long burgundy hair. She inhaled his scent and was about to speak when he cupped the back of her neck, his face a mask of passion and need, and kissed her.
His mouth was hot and demanding on hers, forcing her into submission and she submitted willingly. Hermione had forgotten how good he tasted, musky and spicy making her head spin. She felt like she was floating, turning, rising higher as she let her love free and sighed in bliss as he did the same. Once again she felt his darkness seep into her and she pulled and gripped onto it. She loved his darkness, she loved his rage, she loved him.
At the same time Rodolphus felt the warmth and light of her soul and hugged it closer. He clung to her love as though it were his only lifeline and as he pulled his witch close he knew that it was. Love, warmth, devotion; all these things he had removed from his life, now he sort and welcomed them. It was this slight witch that made him realize just how much he longed for these things and with her he would learn how to wield them.
Around them the surrounding wizards stood, perfectly silent as they watched Rodolphus Lestrange and Hermione Granger embrace. The two glowed and a single gasp sounded as the two rose from the floor and floated upwards.
It was Harry who regained his wits. Even Dumbledore was lost for words as he stared open-mouthed at the couple now floating two feet above the floor. But that wasn't what made him grip his wand tighter.
Harry pointed his wand at Voldermort. "It's just you and me now Tom."
Voldermort looked around at his followers, suddenly anxious. "What are you doing you fools!" But they weren't paying attention. "No! I will kill you all, you will all be punished."
"Oh yes, they will be punished, but not by you Tom."
"Stop calling me that!!" He hissed. "I gave up that name long ago."
"Yes, you said that you dropped your muggle father's name. But that doesn't make it any less who you are."
"You speak in riddles." Voldermort circled, his wand shaking slightly in his long white fingers. "I am Lord Voldermort and you will show me the respect I deserve. I will have you on your knees whelp."
Harry grinned. "I didn't know you swung that way."
Voldermort roared and flew at the bespectacled man. Harry ducked and circled so they were facing one another again.
"My point, Tom, is that these fools may see you as some kind of dark lord, a god even, but I know where you live, Tom."
"You know nothing."
"I know something." Harry spoke quietly, his grin still in place. "You're just a man, Tom."
Voldermort roared and lunged, this time he caught the younger man. "I am more then man, you weak imbecile."
Harry cried out as Voldermort forced him to his knees. "Still – a man – Tom," Harry gasped.
Voldermort pressed his wand against Harry's temple, pressing hard enough to make the younger man cringe. "I am much more then any man. I am Lord Voldermort. I am a…" A gurgled sound took away the last of Tom Riddle's words.
The Dark Lord staggered back in surprise, grasping his stomach a look of shock on his face as he stared down. Ruby red blood flowed from between his fingers and covered the pathetically small dagger protruding from his body. He gasped and reached for Harry but his blood flowed fast and his consciousness slipped away.
Lord Voldermort fell dead to the cold stone ground, his blood flooding the floor and covering the white masks beneath him. Harry Potter finally looked up at the couple still kissing above and his expression turned from that of hatred and murder to awe. It was over.
As Hermione and Rodolphus slowly, reluctantly pulled apart and set foot again on the floor they became aware of what had happened.
"I think we missed something important." Hermione breathed crinkling her nose at the blood still flooding around the wizards' feet. But Rodolphus' hand gripped her chin and forced her to look back at him and she smiled into his eyes. "My champion." Was all she could say.
"Forever." He replied, his voice gruff and he gently caressed her cheek, her hair, her throat. "I'm yours."