LoveSKINS94 - Your wish an' all that...!
OpheliaBlack - Sorry, we'll have to agree to disagree on that. While neither of them is the main focus of the story, Snape at least, has had rather a large part in this story and I didn't feel it was unneeded.
golojolo - That was actually really, really hard to do!
Just to let you know, I have used a lot of JKR's dialogue for this chapter as well but I have added and changed bits and pieces.
A fire burned in the middle of the clearing and its flickering light fell over a crowd of completely silent, watchful Death Eaters. Some of them were still masked and hooded, others showed their faces. Two giants sat on the outskirts of the group, casting massive shadows over the scene, their faces cruel, rough-hewn like rock. Fenrir, stood skulking at the edge, chewing his long nails and glancing across at Bellatrix; Lucius, having finally found his wife, looked defeated and terrified; Narcissa, sitting close to him, her eyes sunken and full of apprehension, thought only of her son. Every eye was fixed upon Voldemort, who stood with his head bowed, and his white hands folded over the Elder Wand in front of him. When Yaxley rejoined the circle, Voldemort looked up. "No sign of him, My Lord", the death eater said.
Voldemort's expression did not change. The red eyes seemed to burn in the firelight. Slowly, he drew the Elder Wand between his long fingers. 'My Lord… ' Bellatrix said, sitting as close to Voldemort as she dared, her face still bloody from Greyback's attack. Voldemort raised his hand to silence her and she did not speak another word.
"I thought he would come" said Voldemort in his high, clear voice, his eyes on the leaping flames. "I expected him to come. I was, it seems… mistaken" said Voldemort.
"You weren't" a voice replied and suddenly he was there. Bellatrix leapt to her feet and quickly looked around but it seemed he was alone and looking from one to the other, she knew this was the end.
"Harry Potter" Voldemort said, very softly, "The boy who lived", then raised his wand and said "Avada Kadavera"
Both fell to the ground "My Lord… My Lord…" Bellatrix said hastening over to him, "My Lord…" she repeated as she knelt beside him.
"That will do" Voldemort replied.
"My Lord, let me…"
"I do not require assistance" Voldemort said coldly, turning to her and knocking away her hand. He looked around at the waiting death eaters, "You" he said pointing his wand, there was a bang and Narcissa shrieked "Examine him. Tell me whether he is dead".
Bellatrix stood and moved away, her face unreadable as she watched Cissy go over to the body and spend some moments examining it.
"He is dead!" she called to the onlookers and as they shouted their triumph, Narcissa's eyes found those of her sister and Bellatrix saw again, the expression she had seen in the library that day.
"You see?" screeched Voldemort over the tumult. "Harry Potter is dead by my hand, and no man alive can threaten me now! Watch! Crucio!"
Narcissa moved back towards the shelter of Lucius's arm, the boy remained limp and lifeless and Bellatrix's thoughts turned to another of the Golden Trio. She had not been able to find her and she could find no cause to celebrate, as she joined the procession to the edge of the forest and then listened as Voldemort spoke.
"Harry Potter is dead. He was killed as he ran away, trying to save himself while you lay down your lives for him. We bring you his body as proof that your hero is gone. The battle is won. You have lost half of your fighters. My Death Eaters outnumber you and the Boy Who Lived is finished. There must be no more war. Anyone who continues to resist, man, woman or child, will be slaughtered, as will every member of their family. Come out of the castle, now, kneel before me, and you shall be spared. Your parents and children, your brothers and sisters will live and be forgiven and you will join me in the new world we shall build together".
But there would be no forgiveness Bellatrix knew, only pain and humiliation and death. Snape had been right all along, Hermione would be among the first to die, she would go down fighting like the Gryffindor she was or be captured and suffer a worse fate.
They moved on towards the castle and stopped again at the entrance hall, Bella frantically searching the faces of those who had lost. She found her in the doorway and laughter bubbled up in her throat, she was still alive.
It stopped as the girl screamed, "No" at the sight of Harry and the crowd around them yelled abuse at their heads.
"SILENCE!" cried Voldemort, and there was a bang and a flash of bright light, and silence was forced upon them all. "It is over! Set him down, Hagrid, at my feet, where he belongs!"
Lucius then came forward, wanting his son but it was Narcissa who took Draco away and Bellatrix watched as they pushed through the ranks and walked away from the crowd, Lucius following them out into the grounds and knew they would never let her leave as easily. There was a scuffle and her attention was brought back, to regard the boy who had now moved forward. "And who is this?" Voldemort asked, "Who has volunteered to demonstrate what happens to those who continue to fight when the battle is lost?"
"It is Neville Longbottom, My Lord!" she answered automatically. "The boy who has been giving the Carrows so much trouble! The son of the Aurors, remember?" Looking up at the crowd, she again found the girl but the expression in Hermione's eyes was unreadable.
It all happened in a moment, the cry of the beast who had started all this, the hooves of the centaurs and the yells of the house elves. Kreacher she noted was leading the charge, Regalus's name on his lips. They had all abandoned her in the end, Regalus, Sirius, Andromeda and now she thought, Narcissa too. Nagini's head flew through the air but she did not heed it. Her sisters had followed their hearts, it was time she did the same, if the mudblood would let her.
Darting into the Great Hall, Bellatrix could not immediately see her in the chaos. Protecting herself but too focused on her goal to actively take part, she made her way through the room, a terrible fear taking hold again, as she glanced at the endless bodies littering the floor and heard the screams of those still dying. A shout made her look up to see the Weasley girl, afraid but resolute, standing in front of her. "Stay out of my way" she advised but Ginny held her ground and cast at the woman who had crucio-ed her, to the girl's utter horror nothing happened, she tried again with the same result. Bellatrix grinned, "it seems you should be thanking me for cursing you" she said grinning, "now get out of my way before I do it again".
Molly, who could not hear them but saw Bellatrix lift her wand and point it at Ginny, yelled "Not my daughter, you Bitch!"
From across the room Hermione saw her, charging towards Bellatrix, intent on protecting her child and hurried towards them. She had lost Harry, she could not lose Bella as well, whatever the cost might be. She ran nearer, to what had quickly become a duel and yelled "Stupify" as Mrs Weasley went for the kill.
The woman who was practically a mother to her, was blown backwards and fell unconscious to the floor as Hermione came to a stop in front of her lover. The surprised death eater deflecting the unforgivable that Mulciber had just fired off at the mudblood, without thinking.
"Ginny, look out", Hermione cried as the girl stood looking at her, unheeding of the danger. The readhead watched in a trance as the girl who had just stunned one of her own, took out the death eater running towards her and yelled "go and protect your mother" before finally snapping out of it. She did as she was bade, still unsure what had happened, or who's side Hermione was actually on.
In truth Bellatrix was just as stunned, in the whole of her life, no-one had ever protected her the way Hermione just had. They had allied themselves to her for power or money, or used her for her ruthlessness. The mudblood appeared to have chosen her despite all those things, "you just saved me from a Weasley" she said, still slightly shocked, even as most of her mind concentrated on keeping them both alive.
"Sorry but I'm sure your reputation will survive it" Hermione said, stopping a hex, inexpertly thrown by a 7th year Ravenclaw from hitting either of them, "this doesn't mean I'm swapping sides" she added, just to make it clear, even if it looked like hers had already lost.
Bellatrix grinned, "I hope not, you're so deliciously corruptible" she replied, taking down Mulciber for good this time as he came towards them again.
"I'll make you see the light yet Bella" Hermione said, too quietly for anyone else to hear and the dark woman laughed as they quickly swapped wands. Hermione was just about to ask, what they were supposed to do now, when a voice made her blood run cold.
Voldemort had suddenly noticed and screamed, "Bellatrix, kill her!" Hermione felt everything slow. Bella turned and looked at Her Lord, then turned back and looked at her. Raising both arms and grinning maniacally as she noted the girl's terrified expression, she waited until the last possible moment before pulling the mudblood behind her with her free hand and turning, let out "Avada Kedavra" as she pointed her wand at Her Master.
Harry, waiting beneath his cloak, felt the world turn on it's axis; he saw Voldemort's fury at the betrayal of his last, best lieutenant and watched as he raised his wand, directing it at Bellatrix even as Hermione tried again to stand in front of her.
"Protego!" roared Harry, knowing Hermione would not flee and the Shield Charm expanded in the middle of the hall, Voldemort stared around for the source as Harry pulled off the Invisibility Cloak at last.
The yell of shock, the cheers, the screams on every side of "Harry!" "HE'S ALIVE!" were stifled at once. The crowd was afraid, and silence fell abruptly and completely as Voldemort and Harry looked at each other, and began, at the same moment, to circle each other.
"I don't want anyone else to try to help" Harry said loudly, and in the total silence his voice carried like a trumpet call. "It's got to be like this. It's got to be me".
Voldemort hissed. "Potter doesn't mean that" he said, his red eyes wide. "That isn't how he works, is it? Who are you going to use as a shield today, Potter?"
"Nobody" said Harry simply. "There are no more Horcruxes. It's just you and me. Neither can live while the other survives, and one of us is about to leave for good …" Seeing all eyes on the duel at hand, Bellatrix pushed down the thought that she owed another of the Trio a life debt and tried to move away from the crowd.
Feeling a tugging at her hand, Hermione drew her eyes away from Harry and back to her companion, who was still attempting to pull her away, "what...?" she managed before Bella stopped and turned to face her.
"Whoever wins, this is the end" the woman replied simply.
Hermione had opened her mouth to say, that her best friend was facing down evil incarnate and this really wasn't the time, when it struck her. Bellatrix had just tried to curse Voldemort to protect her and while she would never before, have put attempted murder at the top of a list of romantic gestures, she had no doubt that that was what it was. The death eater had just chosen a mudblood over Her Lord.
Looking more carefully into the dark eyes before her, she saw passion and desire lurking there but these she had seen before. Looking passed them, half hidden away, trying not to be noticed, she saw something else, something that made Hermione hope the Hogwarts wards were still sufficiently weak to allow what she was about to do. It seemed they had both made their choice and without looking back at the duel, she gripped Bellatrix around the waist and apparated.
Room 5 was exactly as they had left it all those months ago and as Hermione looked towards the bed, she didn't notice as the other woman raised her wand and quietly said "Crucio".
She screamed and then the pain had gone almost as soon as it arrived, "what the hell?" Hermione asked, angrily turning to her companion.
Bellatrix said nothing for several moments as Hermione stood there and fumed, then "I needed to know that I could" she finally replied, placing the wand on the dresser next to her and giving Hermione the opportunity to retaliate.
The girl stood there puzzled, until it sank in. This time there was no debt. Hermione had finally risked as much as her companion in coming here, even if she hadn't thought about it at the time and Bellatrix had needed to know that. "Well next time, use tarantallegra!"she said.
Walking over to stand in front of her lover, she deliberately placed her wand next to the other and put up her hand to touch the woman's cheek, noting the abuse she had obviously suffered, before moving down and pulling on the back of her neck, uniting their mouths. "Love me" she said, then when they eventually came up for air, felt the need to reassure her further; "if this is the end Bella, I want to feel you, all of you... I want the woman who's hands wield a knife with such practised ease... I want the woman who's tongue drips with unforgivables more easily than hellos". She allowed said tongue to duel with hers for a moment, before pulling away again "but most of all, I want the woman who betrays everything she believes in, because she loves me".
Letting that sink in, she noted that her death eater did not deny it and at that, Hermione grabbed her wand and stepping backwards, raised her arm, Bella's reactions, as she had known, were quicker, "Expelliarmus". Hermione's wand flew through the air, Bella caught it and placed them both back down on the dresser. Advancing on her slowly, she retrieved the knife from her cleavage, thinking back to the first time they had been in this room and all the things she had wanted to do to her then; all the muddy blood she had wanted to spill; all the pain she had wanted to cause; all the revenge she had wanted to take.
"Is this really what you want, muddy?" she questioned, grazing the blade down the side of Hermione's face as the girl stood her ground.
Hermione swallowed, "I want you… all of you" she replied huskily, "'and whatever that means... til death us do part".
Bellatrix's head tilted to one side as she regarded her companion, then dropping the knife to the floor, she pulled Hermione to her. Their lips met with bruising intensity, as months of unacknowledged feelings and pent up frustration carried them to the bed and as their tongues duelled for dominance, both were conscious of a feeling of completeness. It would not, could not, last but whatever came next, they would face it together.
Thank you to anyone who's made it this far! I hope you enjoyed the journey (and that it wasn't overly sappy!).
I originally planned to end it here but I've had a thought or two about plot continuance since then, so I'm not going to mark it as complete quite yet. I do not know however, when I'll get time to write any more, so please, no-one hold your breath!