"In fine principium meuthe unix

A/N: To all of you who have stuck with me throughout this amazing journey; thank you. This story has become something for me that I never imagined possible and I am looking forward to writing part two. I have chosen a title for the story now and it will most likely be called "Nemesis." Please, follow me as an author if you aren't already and would like to be alerted when the next story goes online.

"Serpent Spell" has been my most intense project since starting writing fan fiction years ago. It is also the first project where I really felt I had something special going and I have loved every minute of it, no matter how twisted, dark, complicated and emotional it all became. I couldn't have asked for a better audience and I have started to look forward to seeing your amazing, kind, wonderful, sweet and uplifting reviews. I have shared PM's with some you about this story and your input and thoughts have been inspiring. A lot about this story wouldn't have been what it became if hadn't been for you. So thank you, because a writer is nothing without an audience.

Love always,
~Cissy


Chapter 40

"Endgame"

The world was burning. Raging flames destroyed building after building, leaving behind nothing more but smouldering ruins and hot ashes. The city of London was engulfed in flames. Not a night went by without another fire and the orange flames would light up the dark backdrop. The Houses of Parliament had been the next monumental landmark to be destroyed; days after Big Ben had been reduced to rubble. The Metropolitan police, Scotland Yard and the emergency services were at their wits end. Day after day they rescued people from burning buildings or removed charcoaled bodies from under debris.

The world had changed and those who remembered Lord Voldemort's reign saw the resemblance. The Wizarding community and the Muggle world overlapped and those who were responsible for the fires and deaths took little care to hide themselves. The reports of people seeing black cloaked figures 'just vanish into the night' were endless. The Ministry of Magic did little to nothing to condemn the attacks. Minister McGuinnes called out for people to remain calm as the Daily Prophet continued to spread stories designed and created by the Three Cores.

It had been four days since she had left her cottage and had been introduced to the resistance and Andromeda walked down what was left of Diagon Alley. It was late afternoon and the sun was beginning to set behind the horizon, painting the skies in shades of red and amber. She paused when she walked past Ollivander's wand shop. Its windows had been smashed in and boarded up and broken glass littered the steps leading up to the door. She heaved a sigh as her hand closed around the chrome handle and the door gave way.

It was dark inside and she drew her wand. "Lumos." The tip of her wand started glowing and illuminated the devastation inside. The counter where the old wand maker had once stood had been thrown over and the antique lamp had fallen to the ground. The floor to ceiling shelves containing thousands and thousands of wands had been ransacked. Empty wand boxes lay scattered around on the ground and in the dim light of her wand she saw how all the wands had been snapped in half.

"Someone wanted to make sure these couldn't be used again," a voice said from behind her and Andromeda turned around to find Ginny standing in the open doorway. The young red haired woman stepped inside, using her own wand to light her path, and shook her head. "They really didn't leave a single piece intact, did they?"

Andromeda slowly bent down to pick up one of the broken sticks that lay at her feet and she held it in her open hand. "I suppose they don't want to risk anyone replacing their wand once it's broken." She sighed. "Which makes me wonder what they do with their own warriors, once they lose their wands?"

"I wouldn't be surprised they took a few from here before they torched the place," Ginny said as she pointed at the walls. It bore signs of a fire that had failed to spread. "I can imagine the three of them walking in here themselves, looking for the most suitable wands."

"Unless a wand chooses a witch or wizard or is won in battle, it doesn't perform as well," Andromeda said slowly. "It seems strange they are willing to take that risk." She looked down at the wand in her hand and her fingertips tentatively touched the unicorn hair that had been used for its core. It dangled from the two broken ends of the wand.

"Their warriors are stronger than any witch or wizard I have seen," Ginny said. "I know most of them arent't known for their intelligence but what they lack in braincells they make up in the cruealty department. You heard what they did to Hannah's family."

Andromeda swallowed as she remembered the night the news had reached them. They had been sitting in the small building that now served as their new Headquarters and there had been a knock on the door. Dean Thomas had rushed in, panting, and fell over his own feet in his attempt to reach Hannah Abbot. Through tears and sobs he managed to tell her how some of Hermione's men had gotten to her parents' house and torched it after leaving the family trapped in their bedroom. Andromeda could still hear Hannah's tormented screams in the back of her mind.

Her eyes slowly closed and she took a deep breath. "Didn't you say there is another part to this building?"

"Yeah, we first used it with the resistance until Bellatrix captured me and I betrayed its location," Ginny said. "Why?"

Andromeda looked at her. "If you make something so dangerous and destructive, wouldn't you at least try and think of a way to contain or destroy it?"

Ginny's eyes widened. "You think Ollivander thought of a way to destroy the Cores?"

"No, I don't think he ever got that far," Andromeda said slowly and chewed her lip as she thought out loud. "Bellatrix and Narcissa got to him days before they got to Hermione. I know Voldemort wanted him to help him because of the connection to Harry's wand but Bellatrix and Narcissa knew about their own wands. They also knew there was a third one out there somewhere and they even knew Hermione was the one who owned it." She paused. "They wanted answers. Ollivander must have told them about the wands before Hermione arrived. That's how Bellatrix must have known Hermione would come to her on the night of the wedding."

"And if Bellatrix asks you a question, you answer," Ginny said as she remembered Bellatrix interrogating her in Azkaban. A cold shiver crept down her spine and the palms of her hand suddenly became clammy. "She has her ways."

"When was the last time we saw Ollivander?" Andromeda asked. "When we brought him back to the Burrow that one night, where did he go afterwards?"

"I think mum sent him to my Auntie Muriel's house," Ginny answered. "I am not sure if he stayed there though. Do you want to talk to him?"

"Later," Andromeda said. "First I need you to show me this room you used with the resistance."

Ginny nodded. "It's through here."

They walked through the destroyed wand shop into the small back area. It held two shabby looking kitchen cupboards and a dirty old sinks. The windows were covered in grime and the curtains were torn. More broken wands and empty boxes lay scattered around the floor here. Ginny went ahead and pointed at an old wooden door, partially hidden from sight by a heavy looking bookcase. Some of the shelves were broken and pages had been ripped from the books. She slowly opened the door and Andromeda realised that the door led back to Diagon Alley. She followed Ginny outside and the red head took a turn to the left before pointing at some sort of an extension to the wand shop that could not be reached from inside. The door had been blasted off its hinges.

"They've been here," Ginny said and looked at Andromeda. "I thought they would, once I gave the location away. I just hadn't been here since then."

Andromeda pushed against what was left of the door before stepping into the small space. It was about three times the size of the space they occupied now and the sole window had been covered with old newspapers to block out any light coming in. A couple of old chairs and a wonky table stood in the corner of the room, and an old sofa had been placed underneath the window. The floor was plain concrete and stripy, old fashioned wallpaper was peeling from the walls.

"What are you looking for?" Ginny asked. She was still standing in the doorway.

"I don't know," Andromeda said as her eyes drifted around the room. "But whatever it is, something tells me it has got to be here."

~()~

She stood on the banks of the river Thames, overlooking the still burning remains of the Houses of Parliament. The blue flashing lights from the emergency services lit up the night time skies, adding only to the drama of the raging flames destroying the home of political England. For a full day the building had been engulfed in flames and no one had managed to put them out. Thick, black smoke circled up into the air and around her crowds had begun to gather. Most of them watched in horror, with their hands in front of their mouths, as the building burnt. Her face was emotionless and when she turned away from the all destroying flames, she pushed herself a way through the crowd without looking where she went. The streets of London were unusually quiet, apart from those who watched the flames, and she walked along the river path, leading her further into the city.

Eventually she reached two lone figures who were watching the flames from a distance, hiding in the shadows of a large tree. They looked up when she walked into their line of vision and Narcissa's blue eyes glistened.

"They were seen near the old wand shop."

Hermione frowned. "Why would they be there?"

"It's the old resistance hideout," Bellatrix said as she slowly lowered her hood. "Lord knows what they want in that dump."

"Do we know where their new Headquarters are?" Hermione asked.

Narcissa shook her head. "They must have used the Fidelius Charm again and they are all Secret Keeper."

"You just said you saw Andromeda near the wand shop. Why didn't anyone take her and get her to tell us where the hell they are having their little meetings?" Hermione hissed. She reached into the pocket of her leather coat and drew her wand. "For fuck sake, do I need to do everything myself around here?"

"Hermione, the resistance is useless. There can't be any more than twenty of them!" Bellatrix laughed. "Look at this!" She pointed at the raging flames on the opposite side of the river. "There is nothing they can do that will stop us. They are weak, defenceless. If they do become a problem, we'll just grab that young Weasley bitch again. She's got another cheek that could have a matching scar."

Hermione's eyes darted to Narcissa at the mention of Ginny Weasley's injury. "I take it you'd be up for that?" Narcissa didn't answer and Hermione shook her head. "It isn't good enough, Bellatrix. If I send out warriors to tell me where Andromeda is, I expect them to bring her to me. You know, when you said you wanted to recruit some of the former Death Eaters, I thought you meant you were actually going to get us some useful ones. Not these lowlife pieces of shit who don't know their own arse from their elbow!"

"Sush," Narcissa said softly and covered Hermione's mouth with her index finger. "We'll deal with this when we get back."

Hermione glared at Narcissa but didn't speak. Instead she turned on the spot and vanished with a soft 'pop.' Bellatrix looked at her sister and together they followed, vanishing into the night. When they reappeared outside the gates of Black Manor they found Hermione walking ahead of them, already halfway across the gravel.

"She needs to learn to control her bloody temper," Bellatrix huffed as she and Narcissa followed in Hermione's footsteps.

"Coming from you?" Narcissa retorted and shook her head. "I'll deal with her. You gather some of our best warriors and tell them to find that rotten sister of ours. I want her here before morning breaks." Her blue eyes met Bellatrix's and she leant in. Warm lips brushed against Bellatrix's and she kissed her, softly at first before becoming more passionate. Bellatrix responded, releasing some of the anger that had been building up inside of her. When Narcissa pulled away she let her hand slide down across her sister's cheek. "Go now."

Bellatrix glanced back at the house and just watched Hermione disappear through the large garden doors before looking back at her sister. Then she turned the other way and went off to find their best men to try and track down her sister whilst Narcissa continued along the gravel and followed Hermione into the house. She found her in the living room standing by the window. The anger was practically radiating of her body.

"What's wrong with you?" Narcissa asked when she reached the brunette but regretted ever speaking those when Hermione spun around and the tip of her wand pressed into the side of Narcissa's neck.

"What?" she hissed.

Narcissa's hand closed around the wand and without breaking eye contact she slowly lowered it. Where the tip had made contact with her flesh a bright red burn had appeared but she ignored the pain. Her blue eyes held Hermione's and she shook her head. "Your anger is becoming a distraction."

"You would be angry too if you were put in this position," Hermione spat. "Does Bella have any idea what she has done?"

"Bella?" Narcissa echoed. "What has this got to do with Bellatrix?"

"She made me love Andromeda!"

"She asked you to make her fall in love with you. She never mentioned you falling in love with her," Narcissa said sharply. "That weakness lies within your own heart."

"Shut up, Cissy," Hermione snapped. "Because of Bella our souls attached themselves to each other, or whatever it was that Andy was saying. I can never be part of you and Bella as long as she lives and I can never be part of her as long as you live. Have you got any idea what this means? What this is going to do to us if I don't do what needs to be done?"

"You need to kill her." Narcissa's words were cold and emotionless. "For us to survive she needs to die. Your love for her cannot control you, Hermione. You are here, with us." She took a step closer to the brunette. "Your heart belongs to me." A slender finger found its way under Hermione's chin and she forced her to look up. She brought her lips closer to Hermione's and kissed her softly. Hermione reluctantly answered the kiss and when she felt Narcissa's tongue against her lips she slowly parted them. When she felt the blonde hands slide down to her hips she willingly let herself be pulled into her arms. Anything was better than having to think and feel. This was better, this would numb everything, and with a soft groan she gave in.

Her hands grabbed hold of soft strands of golden hair and her skin suddenly burnt and longed to be touched. She felt the arousal between her legs and when Narcissa's hands drifted over the swell of her breasts behind her corset she groaned in appreciation. The laces came undone with ease and Narcissa's nails grazed across swollen nipples. The touch was bordering on painful but Hermione's eyes closed as the sensation rushed through her veins.

Narcissa's hands were quick and agile and they wandered down across Hermione's stomach before reaching the button of her leather trousers. She opened them slowly, without ever breaking their kiss, and pushed Hermione backwards against the cold glass of the window. Her hand slipped into her trousers and behind her knickers, encountering the hot wetness of her core within seconds. Hermione arched her back when she felt Narcissa's fingers at her entrance and threw her head back when the blonde witch entered her.

"You belong to me," Narcissa whispered when she finally broke the kiss. Her lips were warm against Hermione's ear and the tip of her tongue danced over Hermione's pulse. Her free hand trailed down the brunette's arm, nails scratching across skin, leaving behind red marks. "Nothing is ever going to change that." She increased the pressure of her thrusts, accenting the determination in her words and Hermione flung her arms around Narcissa's neck in support.

She climaxed with an outcry of lust and her body collapsed against Narcissa's. The heavy beating of her heart resounded in her head and the back of her throat had become dry but when she looked up to find hungry blue eyes looking down at her she moved in instinctively. Her lips found Narcissa's and her kiss was overpowering. The blonde staggered backwards, with Hermione's arms wrapped around her back, and landed on the sofa. Hermione landed on top of her and positioned herself between Narcissa's legs.

Eager hands pulled up Narcissa's long sleeved back shirt and revealed her black bra. She unhooked it with ease and as it fell away from her porcelain toned skin, Hermione's warm lips closed around a hardened nipple. Narcissa's hands threaded in Hermione's hair as she kissed her way down her stomach and only stopped when she reached her skirt. She began peeling it down Narcissa's thighs and the blonde witch lifted her lower body up from the sofa as Hermione's fingers grazed along her skin. She gasped when she felt burning hot lips kiss their way back up until they reached the inside of her thighs. The tip of Hermione's tongue flicked over her most sensitive spot and sharp nails dug into the soft flesh of her lover's shoulders. Hermione entered her with two fingers and smiled to herself when she heard Narcissa whimper in a mixture of pleasure and pain.

Narcissa arched her back and locked one leg over Hermione's shoulder as the brunette continued to touch her. Beads of sweat glistened across her skin and slid down the valley of her breasts. She was panting loudly and her heart hammered against her ribcage so loudly she believed it was about to burst out of her chest. Somewhere deep inside of her the climax began to build up and when she hit her orgasm she lifted her upper body up from the sofa only to collapse against the soft cushions.

Hermione pushed herself back up and positioned herself half across Narcissa's chest, half next to her on the sofa. Slim fingers drew circles around her belly button as she absentmindedly gazed at the wall across the room.

"We are one," Narcissa whispered as she placed her lips against Hermione's forehead. Her hand slid down the brunette's chest until she could feel the soft pulse under her fingers. "One heart."

They lay like this for some time as darkness fell outside. Candles magically lit themselves around the room and unexpectedly the door to the living room opened. Bellatrix walked in, her hair bound back in a messy ponytail and clutching her wand. Her eyes fell on the two women on the sofa, still half naked and wrapped up in each other's arms. Hermione's head snapped up when she heard the sound of footsteps on the floorboards and her eyes found Bellatrix. The raven haired witch had stopped dead in her tracks and stared at the scene before her, aghast.

Hermione casually slipped off the sofa and began lacing her corset back up after having buttoned her trousers. When she looked back up at Bellatrix, the older woman's eyes reflected anger. She walked across the room before snaking her arms around her neck. "Isn't this what we are?" she whispered. "A part of each other, for all eternity?"

Bellatrix swallowed hard as she kept her eyes fixed on her sister getting dressed. Narcissa didn't meet Bellatrix's gaze and instead chose to move further away from Bellatrix, turning her head the other way as not to look at her. Bellatrix glanced at Hermione one last time and slowly pushed the brunette' arms away from her. A hint of betrayal flickered behind her eyes.

"No sign of Andromeda." Her voice was empty and flat.

"Nothing?" Hermione asked. The anger began boiling up again. "She has got to be in London somewhere!"

"Who knows, they could have relocated by now!" Bellatrix argued. "If that bloody resistance is growing, they may have travelled half way across the country to find more idiots to join them. Last word is that some of your old Hogwarts friends have joined the ranks."

"Of course they have." Hermione rolled her eyes. "Idiots."

Bellatrix eyed the brunette up. "Why are you so desperate to find her?"

"You heard her!" Hermione snapped. "What other choice do I have?"

"If we wait long enough, she'll come to us," Narcissa suggested.

"By then she will probably have recruited even more suicidal morons to join their resistance," Hermione hissed. "I want that resistance out of the way before they can cause any more damage."

"Shouldn't we wait?" Narcissa said carefully but Hermione's eyes snapped up, blazing.

"Wait? Why would we wait? I want the Weasleys and I want Andromeda with them."

"Why the Weasleys?" Bellatrix asked. "Their little girl is running the resistance but even then they are pretty harmless. Why do you want them? What use do they have?"

"They are alive," Hermione sneered. "What they represent needs to die."

"They represent him, don't they?" Bellatrix said slowly and took a step towards Hermione. She grabbed hold of her arm and forced her to look at her. "They represent that part of you that you want to forget. The part that still reminds you of him whenever you see them or hear their name. The last fragment of your life that you want to destroy? One last way of destroying him?"

Hermione pulled herself free from Bellatrix's grip and hazel eyes pierced into charcoal black. "I am already dead."

She spun around and ran out of the living room, leaving Bellatrix and Narcissa behind. Her footsteps faded out into the distance as she rushed through the entrance hall and out of the front door, leaving it wide open in her wake. Bellatrix turned to Narcissa and their gazes locked. The magic between them mounted as they stared at each other, confronted with the jealousy they both felt towards each other. In the pocket of her dress, Bellatrix felt for her wand and fingered the soft, smooth wood. The thought left her mind as quickly as it appeared and she closed her eyes for a mere second but when she reopened them she found her sister's hand closed around her own wand, aimed at her heart. Without speaking she too turned around and left the living room. Narcissa lowered her wand and turned to the window. She watched the lone figure of Hermione walk across the gardens and for a moment the silver moonlight lit up her face. When she turned around, feeling Narcissa's eyes on her, the blonde saw nothing but the emotionless eyes of someone already destroyed.

~()~

The sky over London was dark and the orange gloom of the flames still burning at the Houses of Parliament painted a haunting image on the banks of the River Thames. Smoke drifted across the darkened water and the crowds that had been watching earlier had dispersed. Fire engines still attempted to put out the flames but they continued raging.

She stood on the Lambeth side of Westminster Bridge, overlooking the fire. The other side, the Westminster side, was closed off by fire engines. There were very few people about at this time of night and none of the usual traffic could make its way across the bridge. The water underneath her was black and she had glanced down over the green painted railing, staring at her own reflection for a little while.

After a few more minutes of quiet contemplation, Andromeda turned away from the burning building behind her and slowly started making her way back into the city. In the distance the sound of sirens wailing echoed through the night, marking yet another moment where terror had struck again.

It wasn't until she had left the bridge and once again stood on the banks of the river that she became aware of the figure standing not too far away from her. These days it was uncommon for anyone to go out alone unless they had to and the resistance's first rule was to always travel in duos. She had ignored the rule tonight, choosing instead the solitude of the London night. She turned slowly, keeping her eyes fixed on the dark clad figure to her right. Her hand slipped into the pocket of her cloak and her fingers brushed along the hard wood of her wand.

"I knew I would find you eventually."

Andromeda's eyes widened as the other figure slowly turned towards her and lowered her hood. She had recognised her voice but to see Hermione standing here, overlooking the fire she herself had caused, brought a shiver to Andromeda's spine. Her fingers closed around her wand.

"I wasn't expecting to see you here," Andromeda said softly. She wanted with all her might to hate her, to despise her, to feel revolted at her sight but she wasn't and couldn't. In her chest her heart settled down, suddenly more at ease than it had been for days. She looked around, expecting to see her sisters emerging from the shadows. When she didn't see them her eyes fixed on Hermione again. "You are alone."

Hermione nodded, a slight smile playing around her lips. "So are you."

"What do you want?" Andromeda asked, slowly become aware of the fact she had been holding her breath.

"I've been looking for you," Hermione said slowly.

"Have you?" Andromeda asked. "I've been here all along. You can't have been looking very hard. Why were you trying to find me?"

"You know very well why I have been trying to find you," Hermione answered and slowly started walking towards Andromeda. Her hand slipped down to the pocket of her jeans but Andromeda was quicker and had drawn her own wand before Hermione could draw hers. Their gazes locked. "It has to end sometime, Andy."

"I know." Andromeda's wand was aimed at Hermione's chest. "I haven't given up yet."

"I've heard all about your little resistance," Hermione mocked. "You might as well give up. Its never going to happen."

"I didn't mean the resistance," Andromeda said. "I meant you."

Hermione seemed taken aback by that answer and her wand lowered itself slightly. Hazel brown eyes searched the older woman's face and she unexpectedly took a step back.

"You can't do it, can you?" Andromeda whispered softly. "I know you can't. Before you claimed I couldn't kill you because I love you. I can't kill you because you are a part of me." She paused. "The missing part of me. Just like I am the missing part of you." Her eyes suddenly swam with tears. "Can you really kill a part of yourself, Hermione?"

Hermione unexpectedly closed the distance between her and Andromeda. Their lips were less than an inch apart and she could feel the other woman's warm breath against her skin. "I guess we'll have to find out."

Before Andromeda could answer Hermione was gone. She had vanished into a cloud of black smoke and all that remained was the image of the flames burning on the other side of the river. She heaved a sigh and slowly started walking back into the city, storing her wand safely into the pocket of her robes, knowing full well that soon the day would come that she would have to use it in the one way she had never dared to be possible.

Andromeda walked unaware of the eyes following her from the dark alleyway. Shrouded in the shadows she watched the other part of herself, the other shard of her soul, walk away into the night. She fingered the wand in her hand, glancing down at it every so often. This was what it had come to. A choice between what lay already in her hands and what lay deep within herself. Hermione felt the unexpected tears behind her eyes as she looked from Andromeda to the flames reflecting on the surface of the river Thames.

Whatever choice she'd make, there would be flames and something would have to fall. Something would go up in flames until there was nothing left.


Fin.

Translation of the quote at the top: In the end is my beginning.