A/N- I am so so so beyond sorry it's taken me this long. School started back, and it's been... Hectic. I'm just glad I have a Word Processing course of a morning or this never would have gotten done. This was written in spurts in that class, so if there are stylistic changes, I blame it on that. Sorry again.

This one is an emotional roller coaster, I'll be honest, but it's not a bad one. I really hope you like reading it as much as I liked writing it!

I don't own anything that you recognize, sadly.

There was fire everywhere, heat burning her skin and throat and lungs. Fingers tightened on her wand, the scorching, supple wood splintering in her palm. Everything ached, her legs burned and her arms throbbed and her heart was a shattered mess in her chest. There were sparks and flashes of light and screams shooting through the air like shooting stars, and she ran and watched her home crumble around her.

She could do nothing but hope and dodge and run, praying to anyone that would listen that she wasn't too late, this wasn't all for nothing.

Her feet pounded against the cracked floor as she tore through the Hall, the huge, open door so close she could taste it under the ash and blood and fear that seemed to coat her tongue. She weaved through fights and flashes and light and shoved past bodies that she didn't recognize as friend or foe in the chaos to get to the archway, the night sky beyond it light up in painful flashes of sparks. Her feet stuttered to a halt when she got there. The grounds before her a mess of crimson-stained earth and trampled grass, but she saw right over them. Her eyes zeroed in on a spot all the way across the grounds, at the edge of the Forest, and even though it was so far away, she could see it perfectly.

Her blood ran cold.

Blood red eyes stared at her, the non-existent lips smiled cruelly and she felt her heart stutter. There, on the ground at Voldemort's feet, was a body. She knew them without a doubt, with a familiarity that only came from years and years of knowing each other and countless fights fought side-by-side. The dark-haired head was lolled back, and she could just barely see the vibrant green of his eyes. Those green eyes so full of life were dark, blank, dull. He wasn't moving.

She felt her already shattered heart grind into dust.

The scream that tore from her throat was stolen by the wind and the fighting of others, but he smiled like he had heard it, like he reveled in the agony the sound was drenched in. Pointing to the left, his smile pulled into something demonic, like the devil had found his champion. She couldn't move, could lurch forward like she felt like, but her eyes follow his fingers like they held all the answers she didn't want.

Even though she was so, so far away, the smell hit her like a hurricane. Sickly sweet and burning and it scorched her nose and brain until she could only barely comprehend what she was seeing. A slow burning fire, the smoke thick and dark and purple in the night air, and she can just make out the shining of the ashes in the flashes of light.

Torn between agony and fury, the only thing she can do is move.

Her feet become unstuck, and for a moment she thinks the only thing she will manage is to fall to her knees, but it passes. Running like she never has before, her wand is raised before she can think about it.

She has survived, but he has won. He has taken everything. He will not take any more.

The last thing she hears before the green light consumes her is his cold, cruel laugh.

There are hands on her, shaking her, and she reacts without thinking. Grabbing her wand from the bedside table that is just barely in reach, she lurches away from the hands, pointing her wand directly at where she thinks their heart will be.

"Bella!" someone shouts her name, and she recognizes that voice. It's not cold and high and cruel, it's deep, familiar and worried. The dream (she realizes it was a dream now, that it was all a part of her hurting mind, but she can still see all that smoke, those two lifeless green eyes, and the laugh is still echoing in her ears) starts to fade and she is confronted with her sleep rumpled father. There are no lights on in the room, but she can make out his face from the light filtering in through the window she rarely closes.

She can make out the worry in his dark eyes.

"Bells, I'm not going to hurt you," he says, and his hands are in the air by his head and it is only now that she realizes she hasn't put her wand down. She stows it in her pocket quick as lightning, a pang of guilt running through her, but when she looks up he doesn't look any less worried.

He takes a cautious step closer to her, and when she doesn't flinch or even move he sets his hands back on her shoulders. His eyes are almost black when he speaks. "You were screaming."

She doesn't know what to say to that. She doesn't know if there is anything to say to that.

She wonders what she was screaming, or if it was even comprehensible.

He cocks his head to the side slightly, and she is suddenly every aware that she wasn't the only one in the family who was terrible at emotions or anything to do with them. She tries to send him a smile, but she can feel the way it turns into a grimace. She bites her lip to keep it from trembling.

"Do you want to talk about it?" He asks, but he knows as well as she does that she doesn't. His eyes are softer, but it makes them no less worried.

A jolt of warmth shoots through her, and she didn't even try to stop herself from jumping forward and throwing her arms around him. She tried to let the fear she had felt, the sharp pain that had burned her, that was from her dream, her memory, let go. She tried, and wrapped in her father's arms, she almost succeeded. Almost.

She swallowed, squeezing her father before letting go and looking him in the eye. "Not today, Dad. I will, someday."

He smiled, and even though it was strained, it was genuine.

"I'll be here when you are, Bells. Anytime."

This quirk of her lips didn't feel as much like a grimace as the last one had.

She didn't even attempt to go back to sleep. While the bed was inviting and her body ached everywhere, she knew there was no point in going back to it. Just from past experience, she knew that while the bed was one of the biggest comforts you could find it was also the gateway to one of the best Hells.

She couldn't go back to that tonight, couldn't hear that laugh and smell the too sweet deadly smoke and look into those lifeless green eyes.

So, she did the only thing she could think to do. She found the closest set of clean clothes she could find and grabbed her wand. Taking a deep breath, she wondered if this would even help, if this would really benefit anyone. She realized that she didn't care if it did. She just knew she had to see them.

She was gone before the crack left the air.

The clearing behind the glass house was cool, the dew already wetting the grass under her feet. Surprisingly, the night was clear. Looking up, she was able to count the thousands of stars that littered the sky. The moonlight made the wet grass shine and she could see almost everything in that silver glow.

The urge to lie down in the clearing and look up at the stars was overwhelming. In that moment, there was nothing more appealing to her than to lie down and count the stars and feel the dew wet her back, to look up at the heavens and forget everything. She wanted to find constellations and remember the stories and feel small in the wake of all the gleaming galaxies. She wanted to sit on the damp grass and embrace the cool earth and forget, everything.

Glancing away from the glittering sky, she realized she had let the boundaries around her mind down. There was a flash of guilt, as she had done this more in the last two, three, days than she had promised she would do in a lifetime, but it didn't last long. It was such a lift from her shoulders when it happened, like she had been carrying the sky in her hands and hadn't felt the weight until she had let it go, that at that moment, she welcomed the openness. She didn't know how much more weight she could hold before she fell.

Knowing that, eventually, Edward would come to her, she did something she would normally never do. She gave in to herself this once, letting her knees collapse and settling on the cool ground, reveling in the cold water that soaked her almost instantly. She leaned back, her shoulders flat on the ground and her hair fanning out around her like a wild halo, and stared contently at the stars.

She couldn't hear the footsteps, but she knew they were there. She didn't take her eyes of the stars, though.

She used to love to do this when she was younger; just stare at the stars like they held all the answers to life. She'd find a quiet place in the yard just beyond her house and lie in the grass and watch the skies for falling stars and other magical oddities. This always made her feel so small, so tiny in scope of the universe that stretched out above her. Her problems always seemed so small when she stared at these huge stars that just appeared as specks of light. She always wondered how she could feel so big in a universe this vast.

A cool hand slipped into hers, and she sighed as she felt someone press themselves into the ground beside her. She shifted, bringing herself closer to him, until she could lay her head on his chest, and squeezed his hand.

She thought about saying something, "thank you" and "I love you" and "You've changed my life" and millions of other things, but she didn't think she could get it out past the lump that had formed in her throat. She broke down her barriers, leveled all the walls around her mind, and hoped and prayed that he could hear all of that through the link.

He carded his fingers through her hair and squeezed her hand, just a settling, calming motion that made her love him even more in that moment. He didn't speak, didn't ask her what brought her to the house this late at night or why she was even back at all, and she didn't answer. All she did was be as happy as possible that he was still hers; her family (or what was left of it) was still hers, that there were survivors.

She could still see the lifeless bodies, could taste that sickly- sweet smoke.

She didn't realize she was crying until Edward's fingers gently stroked her cheekbone, coming away glittering with saltwater. She closed her eyes, the images of her family was still burned into the back of her eyelids, and took a breath around the mountain in her throat.

Thank you. She projected so loudly she was sure it echoed in the clearing.

He placed a kiss in her hair and she felt the warm presence of his mind on the outskirts of hers, like a warm light that you would rely upon to warm you whenever you needed it and even when you didn't.

Her eyes still locked on the sky, she curled closer to him.

How could you be so small and still hurt so much?

Hours later, they could be found in that same spot in the clearing, dew making their skin glitter in the morning light. She was still wrapped in his arms and sleeping with her face toward the heavens, and he was still watching her and the fading stars. With the pale light dancing around them, they seemed to shimmer like a visage.

There, wrapped in his arms with his fingers carding through her hair and sleeping under the stars, her mind was finally still, and she slept without interruption.

What did you think? Good? Bad? Ugly?