"STOP OR SHE DIES!"

Bellatrix Lestrange stood supporting Hermione, who seemed to be unconscious, holding a short knife to her throat.

"Drop your wands!" she demanded to Harry and Ron. "Drop them or we'll see how filthy her blood really is!"

Ron stood rigid still clutching Wormtail's wand. Harry froze too, holding Bellatrix's.

"I said drop them!" Bellatrix pressed the blade to Hermione's throat; beads of blood appeared there.

"Alright!" Harry yelled. He dropped Bellatrix's wand, Ron did the same with Wormtail's, silently praying that Hermione was alright. She looked awfully pale, but Ron could not think the worst – he would not allow himself to do so…

"Right, Draco, pick them up!"

As Draco picked up the wands, an evil grin spread across Bellatrix's face. She exchanged the look with Fenrir Greyback, who looked sick with anticipation; he was practically drooling at the sight of Hermione's exposed neck. Ron wanted to attack him at that very moment; he never wanted anyone looking at Hermione like that.

"Greyback, I don't believe I have further use for this young Mudblood," said Bellatrix, a look between disgust and bright amusement on her face. "I think you may have her."

"NOOOOO!"

Ron's yell of protest was ignored by Bellatrix, who tossed Hermione to the ground, where she fell like a sack of potatoes. Ron tried to run to her, knowing what was to come next, but no less than four Death Eaters had threw spells at him and Harry; they both found themselves bound with thick rope at the feet of the Death Eaters, squirming to free themselves.

Greyback roared his repulsive approval and attacked. He sank his teeth into Hermione's throat, and Ron screamed louder than he had ever done that night, now openly sobbing. He was faintly aware of the Death Eaters roughly pulling him to his feet and holding him back, and the same was being done with Harry. But he couldn't tear his eyes away from Hermione, who was unconscious, and who had no idea she was being torn apart by a werewolf…

"STOP! STOP!" yelled Ron, wrestling the Death Eaters with all his might, trying desperately to throw them off…

"GET OFF HER!" He could not lose Hermione…not after all they had been through…not after she had finally forgiven him for leaving…

But as Ron watched Greyback sink his fangs deeper into Hermione's neck, he knew it was a lost cause. There was no way they were getting out of this alive. They were going to kill Hermione…

There was a sudden great BANG directly above Ron, as if someone had landed on the roof of the Manor. Not even a moment after, the crystal chandelier that hung several feet above suddenly fell on top of the Death Eaters holding Ron and Harry. Ron immediately grabbed the wand that had fallen from one of the Death Eater's hands and pointed upward towards the ropes that were strapping his arms tightly to his body. "Diffindo!"

The ropes fell from his body and before the Death Eaters around him could react to what he was doing, Ron had Stupefied Greyback, gathered Hermione in his arms, grabbed Harry by the ropes that were still binding him and Disapparated.

Ron's thoughts turned to only his destination as the awful sensation of Disapparating squeezed his insides…Shell Cottage…Shell Cottage…Bill and Fleur's…

He opened his eyes. Hermione was unconscious in his arms and Harry was at his side, still bound by the ropes. They were safe.

But something was wrong…something was very wrong…

"Hermione!" yelled Ron, shaking her. Her skin was a ghostly pale gray, and the deep bite marks on her throat were bleeding freely. Realization suddenly struck Ron and the horrific evidence of the truth lay before him, in the form of Hermione…

"No! NO! Hermione!" Ron shook her harder still, willing her to wake, to show some kind of sign that she was alive and he was not alone…

He felt a hand on his shoulder and knew Harry had wrestled himself out of the ropes, but he took no notice. He lowered his head to her chest, where he listened the hardest he had ever done for a heartbeat. He heard nothing.

Now allowing himself to sob, Ron hugged Hermione's body to his own, realizing that Hermione Granger, the girl with whom he had laughed, cried, and argued, but also the girl whom he had learned to love more than anything else, was dead.