I burst through the front doors and fled towards the only person that I thought could help me: Dumbledore. My cloak whipped around my legs as I skidded around corners and bolted through tapestries. Finally, I arrived outside of the Transfiguration teacher’s office. “Professor!” I yelled, pounding on the door. “Professor! Please, I need your help, please!” Suddenly the door was yanked open and I faced the white-haired professor. “Professor, Grindelwald is outside the castle, he’s got Tom, I got away but they took the Elder wand from Tom, he can’t defend himself – ,”

“Miss. Cortes, slow down please,” Dumbledore said firmly, placing his hands on my cloaked shoulders.

I heaved a gasping breath, wanting him to just fix everything. Why was he wasting time telling me to slow down! “Grindelwald is here!” I said loudly. “And he’s got Tom!”

“Riddle?” Dumbledore inquired.

“Yes, come on, this way, they’re at the gate!” I started to run back the way I had come, but Dumbledore’s long fingers wrapped around my bare forearm to stop me – and I was abruptly sucked into his thoughts.

I fought against it, but there was nothing I could do; it seemed Tom’s crystal wasn’t helping me too much with control…but how could I control my emotions when Grindelwald had Tom? A new surge of fear swept through me and the scenes flying by me accelerated to an impossible speed – and then, so abruptly that I nearly fell to the ground, I found myself standing in a room facing the most unlikely pair of people imaginable. Dumbledore sat at a polished mahogany table, poring over some papers that were spread across the wooden surface. This, in itself was unremarkable…it was the identity of the person sitting across from him that made me feel as though the world had tipped sideways. It was Grindelwald.

“No,” I whispered, backing away, searching for a way out. I located a doorway and rushed towards it – but then I bounced backwards and fell hard onto the wooden floor. Apparently I could not leave the room within which the memory was taking place. Still sitting on the floor, I rotated slowly and chanced a look over at Dumbledore and Grindelwald. They were leaning across the table, heads close to one another, conversing in tense, low tones. Despite my fear and shock, I began to feel a flicker of curiosity. I pulled myself to my feet and crept closer, listening carefully.

“Albus, you cannot go back on your word. You said you would help me,” Grindelwald said heatedly.

“And I shall, Gellert,” Dumbledore said tensely. “But I have to think about my family. I cannot just leave again,”

“You said that our cause was the most important thing! I need your help Albus!” 

Dumbledore suddenly stood up and began to pace up and down the room. He passed very close to me and I saw that a look of deep trepidation was plastered across his face. When he reached the window across the room, he stopped and took a deep breath. “I am with you, Gellert.” He said, without turning around.

Suddenly I felt myself begin to move again. The room dissolved around me and before I could brace myself properly, I found myself back in front of Dumbledore’s office, facing my very shocked professor. His shock, however, was nothing compared to mine. “You – you and – Grindelwald?” I whispered, backing away from him until my back hit the far wall of the corridor.

Dumbledore seemed to be gathering himself. “Miss. Cortes, if you will step into my office, I shall explain everything – ,” he said calmly, advancing towards me.

“No!” I snarled, whipping out the quartz wand and brandishing it desperately.

“Miss. Cortes,” Dumbledore said firmly, drawing out his own wand. “It would be wise to co-operate with me.”

“Never,” I hissed. “Stupefy!” A jet of red light shot towards him, but he opened his hand and the magic disappeared into his palm. I gasped, shocked. How could he do that?

“Miss. Cortes, I do not wish to hurt you,” he said, reaching out for me. “Give me your wand.”

“Maura?” a new voice interrupted. My head whipped sideways and I caught sight of a pair of silver eyes.

“Abraxas, he’s with Grindelwald!” I snarled, fixing my eyes back on my professor.

“What?” he asked, sounding very confused.

“Mr. Malfoy, perhaps you can help Miss. Cortes to calm down. If you would both step into my office – ,” Dumbledore began, but he was forced to stop speaking when I threw a torture curse in his direction. At least he actually had to cast a shield to avoid it this time. “Miss. Cortes!” he said angrily, and I shivered at the amount of power in his voice.

Suddenly, Malfoy was standing beside me, his wand raised and pointed at Dumbledore. “Come on Maura, we’re leaving.” He said softly in my ear. He watched our professor warily, but Dumbledore did not cast a spell. In fact, he had dropped his hand so that his wand pointed at the floor. Malfoy tugged on my arm and I stumbled sideways beside him down the hall. Neither of us took our wands off of the old professor, but he did nothing to stop us. We rounded the corner and then took off running.

“Abraxas,” I panted, clutching at his arm. “Grindelwald has Tom!”

He skidded to a halt and whirled to face me. “What?”

“He – we were ambushed at Gringotts, we escaped, but they followed us here, in front of Hogwarts I mean, and we were fighting them off and we were almost inside the gate – but then someone grabbed him and instead of cursing them, he cast the spell to lock the gate – he – he saved me,” I said in a rush. “And now Grindelwald has him, and I don’t know if he’s even alive, please, Abraxas, you have to help me!” I begged.

“Woah, woah, slow down,” Malfoy said, gripping the tops of my arms. “Where did you last see him?”

“By the gates!” I gasped. A strange look swept across Malfoy’s features – but a second later he was running down the corridor again, pulling me along behind him. We blew through the front doors just as the sun dipped below the horizon, casting the grounds into a murky twilight. I sprinted across the lawns, but I knew before we reached the gate that Grindelwald and his followers were gone; no glowing spells lit the semi-darkness, and no group of bodies ranged around the gate.

We slowed down as we neared the iron bars, afraid of what we might see. I had a picture of Tom’s broken body plastered to the inside of my eyelids, and I prayed as hard as I could to whatever deity existed that the image would not turn into a reality. “It’s okay,” Malfoy’s voice broke the oppressive silence. “He’s not here.”

A strange sense of relief mixed with renewed fear swept through me. Surely, surely, if they were going to kill him, they would have done it and left him there? If they went to the trouble of taking him with them, they must have left him alive. “Is there anything there?” I whispered softly.

Malfoy pressed his face to the bars and looked around. “I don’t see anything. I can’t open the gate though…do you remember the spell?” he asked, turning around. I shook my head, holding back tears. Malfoy’s silver eyes searched my face for a moment, and then he sighed. “I know another way out. Come with me.” He held out his hand and I took it without hesitation.

We walked briskly back to the castle in silence, each alone with our own thoughts. When we entered the front door, though, Malfoy spoke. “Maura,” he said softly, stopping me for a moment. His eyes fell to my throat. “What were those marks really from?”

I raised a hand to my throat distractedly. “Malfoy, what does that have to do with anything – ,”

“Just tell me.” Malfoy said darkly, clearly noticing my use of his last name. “And then we’ll go.”

I let out an angry huff. “Fine. You want to know? It was a vampire!”

What?” Malfoy snarled, grabbing me and shaking me. “Why did you let him do that to you? How could Tom let a vampire drink from you?”

“He didn’t really have a choice!” I snarled. “It was payment for helping me!”

“How did he help you?”

I yanked up my shirt, baring my smooth stomach to Malfoy. “He healed me!”

Malfoy grew still, staring. Then, slowly, he raised his hand and brushed it over my skin, causing a visible shiver to race down my spine. “But…the marks…they weren’t hurting you…were they?”

“No,” I said quickly, pulling down my shirt. “No, Mal – Abraxas, you healed me well. It’s just that…Tom said he didn’t like the thought of me being marked by Matthew,” I muttered. It sounded ridiculous even to my own ears.

Malfoy looked incredulous. “So he let a vampire heal you?”

“It worked, didn’t it?” I countered defensively. “Anyway, we’re wasting time. How do we get out of the castle?”

Malfoy ran a hand through his hair in agitation. “Maura – what exactly do you intend to do once we get out? Do you even know where they went?”

“That’s obvious,” I scoffed. “Grindelwald’s manor!”

Malfoy rolled his eyes. “Ok, if we find them, what are you going to do? Do you really think we can take on Grindelwald’s entire army, just the two of us?”

A feeling of panic erupted in my stomach. I knew he was right. “I – I have the quartz wand – ,” I began, before trailing off hopelessly. Malfoy’s silver eyes softened. “We have to do something,” I whispered. Malfoy reached for me suddenly, as though he wanted to wrap me in a hug – but then he seemed to catch himself. He placed his hands on my shoulders instead and bent down a little to look me in the eye.

“We will do something, I’m just saying we need to plan this. We can’t just barge in there…” he wrapped one arm around my shoulders and began propelling me down the hall. “We need to get in secretly, find Tom, and get him out without Grindelwald or Matthew ever realising we were there.” I nodded. “I don’t suppose you have an invisibility cloak, do you?”

“I don’t…but Tom might. I could check in our room,” I said, feeling better now that we were actually doing something.

After making a quick trip to the head dorms and discovering an invisibility cloak in the desk drawer, Malfoy led me to a statue of an old, hump-backed witch. He tapped her hump with his wand and muttered something, and to my surprise a passage opened up. “After you,” Malfoy said, smirking and gesturing towards the dark hole.

I glared at him, feeling jumpy, and lowered myself onto what felt like a stone slide. “How far down does it go?” I asked, looking up at Malfoy.

He rolled his eyes. “Just go,” he sneered, giving me a shove between the shoulder blades. I slid down the slide and landed hard on my butt, and then gasped as Malfoy landed behind me, his body crashing into my back. Immediately his arms snaked around me and he buried his face in my hair. “Mmmmm,” he murmured.

“Malfoy,” I snarled, struggling. “What is wrong with you? We have to get Tom!” Malfoy let me go and I scrambled away, lit my wand and whirled to face him. “Malfoy, if you aren’t going to help me then you may as well go back to the Slytherin common room, because I don’t want you here!” I snarled. His eyes darkened and he stood up, towering over me.

“Oh really?” he said lightly. “And how are you going to get there? Can you apparate, Cortes?” I glared at him fiercely for a moment and then dropped my eyes. “That’s what I thought.” He said smugly. Then, he sighed and grabbed my arm gently. “Let’s go.”

After pulling me silently through the passage, Malfoy apparated us to the outskirts of the grounds at Grindelwald’s manor. “Wait,” he said, as I began to rush forward out of the cover of the trees. “Remember the plan? You can’t just go barging in there!” He grabbed the top of my arm and pulled me backwards. “Just give me a second, I’m trying to remember where the dungeon is.” He studied the glimmering windows of the distant mansion carefully and I stayed silent, watching him. After a few moments, he raised a pale hand and pointed to the right side of the manor. “I’m pretty sure it’s over there somewhere. We should try to find the closest door, and then see how many people are guarding him. We might have to wait a bit for them to leave him unguarded…” he trailed off, looking very uncertain. “Maura, are you sure you want to do this? Maybe we should go back and…tell professor Dippett or go to the ministry or something?” he tried.

I shook my head. “You know no-one in their right mind would take on Grindelwald right now, he’s too powerful.”

Malfoy snorted. “Except us.”

“We’re not taking him on,” I snarled. “We’re saving our friend!”

“Oh, so now he’s just a friend is he?” Malfoy said, crossing his muscular arms and glowering. I stared at him.

“What is wrong with you?” I demanded, taking a step closer to him and poking him in the chest. “I thought Tom was your friend? Why are you wasting time being insufferable? I am perfectly free to choose whom I date, and my relationship with Tom is none of your business! Are you going to help me or not? Now that we’re here, I don’t need you, so if you want to haul your cowardly ass back to Hogwarts, go right ahead!” I snarled angrily.

He stared at me for a second, and then I gasped as he grabbed me by the shoulders and shoved me against a nearby tree. “You are what is wrong with me!” he hissed, his face very close to mine. “I have done everything for you, and still you won’t even look at me as anything more than a friend! You cringe when I touch you, you look disgusted when I open up to you – you still call me by my last name! And yet he has tried to kill you, and you love him so much that you are willing to endanger your own life to save him! Believe me, Maura, he would not return the favour!”

“He already has!” I snarled back, glaring into his flashing silver eyes. “Are you forgetting that he saved me already? He’s only in there now because he used the last second of time before he was caught to cast a spell to save me rather than one to protect himself! You have no idea what our relationship is like! And are you forgetting all the things you’ve done to hurt me? Tom never tried to rape me!” I finished in a shout, my chest heaving with emotion. He didn’t answer, just looked at me with an expression that brought a guilty lump to my throat. I pushed away the guilt and steeled myself. “So, if you would like to come and help me, as a friend, to rescue the man I love, then let’s go. If not…maybe I’ll see you back at Hogwarts.” Without another word, I ducked out from under his arm and set off along the outskirts of the woods, aiming for the end of the house that Malfoy had indicated. A few seconds later my stomach did another little flip-flop of guilt when I heard his steady footsteps following.

We approached the manor silently from the South, keeping to the trees for as long as possible. When we were as close to the house as we could get, we threw the invisibility cloak over us and approached the two wizards guarding the door. My heart pounded madly as we stopped in front of them, close enough for me to hear them breathing. Malfoy – Abraxas, I reminded myself with a twinge of regret – raised his wand and sent an invisible spell back the way we’d come from the woods. A few seconds later, there was a loud bang and a flash of light. Both guards drew their wands and went barrelling towards the trees, yelling incomprehensibly. “Good idea,” I whispered, beaming at Abraxas, hoping he wouldn’t just ignore me, even thought that’s probably what I deserved. The corner of his mouth curved into a small grin momentarily and my heart fluttered with relief, but he sobered again as he reached for the door handle.

“Make sure nobody is looking this way,” he murmured in my ear. I turned and saw that four other wizards had joined the first two in scouring the dark woods.

“No-body’s watching, do it, now,” I heard a faint click as the door opened, and then Abraxas pulled me inside and shut the door behind us. The hallway seemed very bright and silent after the noise and darkness outside. I felt extremely exposed as we began creeping down the hall, arms linked to make sure that we stayed close enough to keep us both covered by the invisibility cloak. At the first corner we came to, we paused and drew our wands.

“Can you do non-verbal spells?” Abraxas breathed into my ear. I nodded. “Stunners only then. Ready? One, two…three!” We lunged around the corner as silently as possible and brandished our wands – but there was no-body there. “That’s strange,” Abraxas whispered. “This is the entrance to the holding cells. Grindelwald would never leave it unguarded.”

I shrugged. “Let’s go quickly then before they come back,” I hissed back, tugging on his arm. He nodded and we proceeded down the hall, peering into each of the cells, searching for Tom’s pale face. Finally, in the cell at the very end of the hall, I caught a glimpse of black hair. “Tom!” I moaned, pressing my face against the bars. Abraxas moved close to me and looked in as well. Tom lay facing the back wall, his thin body curled into a ball. A dark crimson smear stained the back of his white shirt, and I could hear his ragged breathing from where we stood outside the door. I pushed fruitlessly against the door, my heart fluttering in panic, but then Abraxas grabbed my wrists and pushed me aside. “Are you a witch or not?” he hissed and, with a furtive glance down the corridor, he sent an unlocking spell at the door. The handle glowed gold for a moment – but when Abraxas tried to open it, nothing happened.

“Move over!” I snarled softly, pointing the quartz wand at the lock. “Reducto!” The metal lock twisted with an awful screeching sound and then melted into a pile of molten iron. The door swung open at my lightest touch. I grinned triumphantly and looked up at Abraxas, who had a very apprehensive look on his face. “What?”

“That – you – never mind,” he said shaking his head. “That was loud, we have to get him out, now.” I ducked out from underneath the cloak and ran to Tom’s side, falling on my knees on the dirty floor.

“Tom!” I said softly, placing my hands gingerly on his side. He jumped, and then before I knew what had happened, he’d thrown me onto my back on the stone floor and pinned me there, his hands at my throat.

His crimson eyes stared murderously down at me for moment – but then he seemed to realise who I was. “Maura?” he whispered, releasing my neck and pulling me into a sitting position. His face was horribly swollen and bruised, and his lip had split so that a line of blood ran down from the corner of his mouth. “How did you get here?”

“I brought her.” Faster than I could see, Tom had shoved me behind him, grabbed the quartz wand out of my hand and pointed it at Abraxas, who had removed the invisibility cloak at last. “Whoa,” he said, raising his hands.

Tom groaned and dropped the wand. “How did you get past his guards?” he asked as I retrieved my wand.

“We distracted the first two…but then there were no more.” Abraxas said hesitantly.

“Tom, where are you hurt?” I asked timidly. His eyes, now back to cerulean, looked down at me.

“I’m fine. We need to get out of here, now.” He tried to stand, but I saw a spasm of pain flash across his face and he hunched over, gasping.

I leaned down to speak into his ear, so that Abraxas couldn’t hear. “Tom, let me help you. Please,” I whispered. His eyes rose to meet mine accusingly, as though warning me not to pity him, not to presume that he needed help from anybody. Then, suddenly, his face fell and to my utter astonishment, he gave in.

“Malfoy, go out into the hall and keep watch,” Tom commanded. Abraxas obeyed, shutting the door behind him. Tom pushed himself back against the wall and straightened his body painfully. “I can’t heal myself because they gave me a potion that drained my power. It’s starting to wear off though,” he said. He raised his hand and snapped his fingers, causing a blue spark of magic to momentarily light up the room, as though wanting to prove to me that he, the great Tom Riddle, could never be rendered powerless. Then, his eyes met mine and his expression changed. “So you’ll have to do it.” Slowly, he unbuttoned what was left of his shirt, and I gasped at the dark black bruises that bloomed across his pale skin. Directly in the centre of his chest, there was a diagonal gash that was still bleeding freely.

“Oh Tom,” I whispered, shuffling forward and placing my hand gently on his skin. I couldn’t help but feel like his pain was entirely my fault. “I’m sorry,” I breathed. He shook his head. 

“Just heal me, Maura.” He looked so incredibly pitiful and vulnerable sitting there, hunched against the cold stone, holding his shirt open to expose his battered body that I felt a tears spring to my eyes. I raised the quartz wand and said the words of the most powerful healing spell that I knew through numb lips. A pulse of pure white light erupted from the tip of the wand and engulfed Tom, who gasped, his eyes wide. Squinting through the light, I watched as all of Tom’s injuries faded, leaving his pale skin as flawless as I remembered it. Within less than a minute, all of his wounds were gone. The white light faded, and Tom looked down at himself wonderingly. Then, he raised his eyes to mine once again and a rare, true smile spread across his face. For just a second, he looked like a normal teenaged guy who was delighted with just the simple fact that he was alive. I found myself grinning like an idiot, and without thinking about it, I threw myself into his arms, burying my face in his neck. His arms went around me and held me so tightly that I could feel his heart beating against my own chest. 

“Tom, Maura, something’s happening!” Abraxas’ voice interrupted, bringing us abruptly back to reality. Tom loosened his hold on me, and I turned to see Abraxas’ panicked face. 

“What is it?” Tom’s voice rumbled against my chest and a shiver of desire shot through me unexpectedly. He glanced sideways at me and raised an eyebrow, a smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth. I felt myself blush and he chuckled softly before Abraxas spoke again. 

“I can’t see any guards, but there’s – it sounds like there’s some sort of battle going on outside.” Abraxas said, avoiding looking directly at us. Reluctantly, I disentangled myself from Tom’s arms and pulled myself to my feet. Tom rose beside me and the two of us exited the cell and joined Abraxas in the hallway. “Look there, and listen,” he said, pointing to a frosted window at the end of the hallway. For a few seconds, nothing happened…but then a bright flash of green light followed by a quick series of bangs and yells demonstrated what Abraxas was talking about. 

“What’s going on out there?” I whispered. 

“Let’s go see,” Tom said quietly, grabbing my hand and pulling me along the hallway. Abraxas followed just behind us. 

“Maura, how did you heal him so quickly? Where did you learn that spell?” Abraxas hissed in my ear, and I saw Tom cock his head, clearly listening for my response. 

I huffed irritably. “I do read you know. Before I…got involved with you two I had a lot of free time. That’s the most powerful healing spell anywhere in the Hogwarts library. The only catch,” I panted as we jogged around the corner, “Is that you can’t use it on yourself. Someone else has to do it for y – ,” 

“Stop!” Tom hissed, holding out a hand. I ran straight into his back and would have fallen if Abraxas’ hand hadn’t shot out to catch me. We stayed frozen for a few moments, poised at the edge of a large window. “Stay there,” Slowly, he leaned around the edge of the window. Abraxas’ hand, which had not left my waist, tightened. 

“What can you see?” he asked. 

Tom’s eyes widened. “I think…someone’s attacking Grindelwald! It’s not aurors though…bloody hell, it’s Dumbledore!” 

“What?” I exclaimed, too loudly. Abraxas clapped a hand over my mouth as Tom glared. I pulled myself free of the blonde and glowered at him. “Sorry,” I said coldly. “But I saw Dumbledore’s memories. He’s friends with Grindelwald, he’s part of this!” 

Abraxas pushed past me to stand beside Tom. “Well, Maura, I’m pretty sure that’s Dumbledore throwing curses at Grindelwald out there. If he’s really faking, he’s a hell of an actor,” 

I moved to stand between them and gasped at the scene in front of me. Witches and wizards were scattered all over the expansive lawn, some of them paired off and duelling, some of them in groups. Here and there, I could see unmoving bodies on the ground through the darkness. The mingled light and sound from the myriad whirl of spells reminded me of some kind of morbid fireworks display. Even as we watched, a jet of green light emitted from the wand of one of the duellers, shot clear across the yard and hit a wizard standing near our window directly in the chest. He crumpled to the ground, dead before he hit the grass. I gasped and staggered back from my place between Abraxas and Tom – straight into a pair of waiting arms. 

I screamed and the two whirled around. I tossed my wand to Tom before my captor could grab it, and Tom immediately shot a spell at him – but I was lifted bodily into the air and the spell hit me instead. I gasped in pain and Tom snarled angrily. 

“You fucking coward!” Abraxas cursed, brandishing his wand as well. “Let her go and fight us like a man!” 

“Oh no,” a deceptively pleasant voice crooned into my ear. Cold, paralyzing fear flooded through me. There was only one person that voice could belong to: Matthew. He chuckled. “I couldn’t help but notice you three watching our disagreement through the window. I thought perhaps you might like to join in.” 

“I would like to join in!” I snarled, struggling madly against Matthew. “Let go of me and I’ll show you how well I can fight, you bastard!” He clamped a hand tightly over my mouth, silencing me. His other hand tightened around my body painfully; I would almost swear I could hear my ribs cracking. 

“Still so much fight in you!” Matthew exclaimed delightedly. “I shall so enjoy breaking you, dear cousin.” He ended in a whisper, his lips brushing my ear. 

“Let go of her. Now.” Tom spoke in a voice of deadly quiet and Matthew paused. 

“Give me that wand, and I’ll let her go.” He countered calmly. I shook my head frantically, struggling against Matthew’s hand. 

“Why do you want the wand? I thought your master already found a better wand?” Abraxas snarled, his jaw clenched. 

“Oh I don’t want it for my master,” Matthew said easily. “I want it for myself. So hand it over, and I’ll let her go.” 

I chose that moment to bite down as hard as I could on Matthew’s hand. He snarled, ripped his hand away from my mouth and grabbed my throat instead – but then he yelled even louder and the acrid smell of burnt flesh filled my nostrils. He dropped me and I scrambled backwards, staring as Tom and Abraxas stepped in front of me, blocking me from Matthew’s view. I raised my hand to my chest, where I could feel the necklace vibrating against my collarbone. Had it burnt Matthew? “What the bloody hell was that?” Matthew snarled, his pleasant veneer breaking at last. “What are you?” he snarled, trying to point his wand at me between Tom and Abraxas. 

Expelliarmus!” Abraxas’ spell shot towards Matthew, but he blocked it easily. Before any of the three could fire another spell, a new voice joined the foray. 

Stupefy!” Felicity’s shrill voice cried out and her spell grazed Abraxas’ shoulder. He turned towards her with a snarl and Tom threw spell after spell at Matthew. I pressed my back against the wall, feeling completely powerless without a wand. I watched as Tom backed towards the window, never ceasing his assault of spells, and smashed the glass with his elbow. 

Impedimenta!” he yelled and Matthew froze momentarily. Tom took the opportunity to leap through the window, snatch up the dead man’s wand and leap back in again. “Maura, here!” he called, tossing me the quartz wand and keeping the new one for himself. “Try to get out!” 

“I’m not leaving you here!” I snarled, but then something heavy hit me and I was thrown against the wall. I whipped around in time to see Abraxas’ limp body slide to the floor. “Abraxas!” I yelled, panic-stricken – and then I looked up and saw Felicity’s triumphant face. 

Rage nearly blinded me, and I staggered towards her, heedless of everything else around her. That same rushing sound that had filled my ears when I’d been about to kill DuPont had returned. “What did you do to him?” I asked in a deadly whisper. Felicity was backing away, her triumphant look replaced with raw fear. 

“I – I – ,” 

“He is your classmate you little bitch!” I hissed. “You’ve turned your wand on him, and for WHAT? DO YOU REALLY THINK GRINDELWALD WILL REWARD YOU? Oh, well done, you’ve brought down a pureblood student, Felicity!” My voice had risen, was bordering on hysterical, but I couldn’t stop myself. “If you have killed him I'll – ,” 

“What are you going to do, Maura?” Felicity countered, seeming to find a last shred of courage. That shred disintegrated quickly though as I stopped moving and raised my wand. 

“I’ll destroy you.” I said in a voice that was cold with hatred. All colour drained from her face; she knew I wasn’t bluffing. 

“I – I don’t think – I wasn’t trying to kill him,” she whispered, her voice faltering. “You don’t understand – ,” 

“I understand perfectly well. You betrayed your own classmate, a fellow Slytherin, a pureblood; you would stand idly by while he is tortured and killed!” I started walking towards her again and she backed away, terror evident on her face. 

“I – I’m sorry, I – I had no choice Maura!” her eyes were wide and pleading, begging me not to kill her. 

I raised my wand, and she closed her eyes, waiting for the hand of death to fall. 

Expelliarmus.” I said, my heart screaming out in protest. I wanted to kill her almost as badly as I wanted to kill Matthew. If she had killed Abraxas…I didn’t think I’d be able to stop myself. Her eyes opened and watched as her wand flew into my hand. “Incarcerous.” Ropes sprang out of thin air and wrapped themselves tightly around Felicity, causing her to fall to the floor. 

Without sparing her another glance, I turned to Abraxas and knelt beside him. “Abraxas,” I whispered, with half a glance down the hallway to where Tom and Matthew were still duelling. “Abraxas, can you hear me?” I turned him over on to his back and brought my ear close to his mouth. Relief spread through me in an overwhelming wave when I felt his faint breath against my cheek. I silently thanked whatever god or gods that might exist and then stood and sprinted down the hall to Tom’s side. 

Matthew was tiring. Beads of sweat rolled down his face, and I could see lines of blood staining his shirt. Tom, on the other hand, looked as though he was enjoying himself. “What’s wrong, Matthew?” Tom said condescendingly as I reached his side. “Not so cheery anymore, are we?” 

Matthew bared his teeth in a snarl and sent a jet of green light rocketing towards Tom’s chest. “Protego!” I yelled, easily expanding my shield to include Tom as well. The spell rebounded and Matthew ducked, and before he could straighten, I exclaimed, “Imperio!” Matthew straightened, his eyes vacant. He was completely under my power. “Good boy,” I said, chuckling, letting down my shield. I glanced sideways at Tom, and found him smirking widely. I looked back at Matthew and spoke in a commanding tone. “Matthew, give your wand to Tom.” 

Something flickered in Matthew’s eyes; I knew he was fighting the spell. Nevertheless, he began to take halting steps towards Tom. Still smirking, Tom held out his hand and Matthew dutifully placed the wand in his palm. “Let him go,” Tom said cruelly, and I lifted the spell. Matthew blinked and shook his head with confusion. “Why thank you for giving me this Matthew,” Tom said, imitating Matthew’s deceptively pleasant tone. “Perhaps I shall think about sparing your life – ,” 

Suddenly Matthew lunged, but Tom was ready for him. “Crucio!” he snarled and Matthew fell to the floor at my feet, screaming and writhing in pain. I glanced at Tom’s face and felt a flicker of fear in the pit of my stomach. His eyes were red, without a trace of blue, and his face bore that maniacal expression that I’d seen in his memories each time he’d killed. Matthew stopped screaming and lay still at my feet, panting. I took a step back, unsure that I wanted to watch him be killed after all. Tom kicked Matthew over onto his back and squatted beside him. “I want you to apologize to Maura.” 

Matthew’s eyes opened and regarded Tom disbelievingly. Then, they shifted to mine and his expression became haughty. “Why? Didn’t she enjoy our time in the dungeon? I certainly gave her plenty of practice with her gift – ,” His mouth opened wide in a scream again as Tom hit him with another curse. 

“Apologize!” Tom snarled, kicking Matthew brutally in the ribs. 

Matthew gasped for breath, and I watched in a kind of horrible fascination as he composed himself with difficulty and looked towards me again. Then, he spoke so softly that Tom and I had to lean closer to hear him. “You didn’t like the way I marked you? Pity, I so enjoyed the thought of you bearing those scars as a reminder of me for the rest of your worthless life,” 

“Enough!” Tom raged, another jet of red light shooting out from the end of his wand and causing Matthew to scream in pain. “She is no longer marked by you – the only mark she bears is mine!” 

Matthew’s screams were becoming weaker; I could almost feel the presence of death in the room. Tom lifted the torture curse and looked down at Matthew disdainfully. “I’m sorry, Maura, I don’t think he’s going to apologize.” 

“It’s alright Tom,” I said, feeling adrenaline begin to rush through my veins. I knew Matthew’s death was close. I thought Matthew probably knew it too. 

Tom reached into his tattered pocket and extracted the ring with the black stone that I’d seen him wearing a few weeks ago. “Maura, hold this,” he commanded, and I took the ring from him uncertainly. “Stay close,” he whispered into my ear. Then, he pointed his wand down at Matthew. For the first time ever, Matthew looked afraid. Tom’s lips curled into a cruel smile. “Goodbye. I have been waiting for this moment ever since you laid a finger on her. Avada Kedavra!” Green light erupted from the tip of Tom’s wand and the now-familiar rushing sound of death filled the hallway, drowning out the sounds of the battle raging outside. Matthew’s eyes went very wide and his mouth opened in a silent scream before his body slumped, lifeless at last. 

Tom suddenly pointed the wand at himself and said a spell that had such power that I felt for a moment as though I was caught in a high wind. “Animus Caedo!” He let out a gasp of pain as a silvery substance lanced out of his chest towards the wand tip, expanding in tarnished strings away from his body. I watched, entranced, as the substance finally parted company with his body completely. “Confer Animus!” Tom gasped, and the wisps of tarnished silver began to converge and congeal into a rotating, mercurial ball. His tortured, scarlet eyes shifted to mine. “The ring,” he breathed, and I held it up between us. “Animus Occulta!” A wave of darkness shot with crimson light rushed around our bodies, so thick it was almost tangible. Our surroundings were completely obscured; the only things that I could see were Tom and the floating silvery sphere. The ring, I noticed suddenly, was growing unbearably hot in my hand. I looked down at it fearfully, and saw that the black stone had split down the centre and was gaping open, revealing the well of swirling blackness within. The silver orb was moving towards the broken stone, guided by Tom’s shaking wand. The two items moved closer and closer together, and the atmosphere around us thickened, until it felt as though we were caught in a storm of black sand. The streaks of crimson light that I’d noticed earlier were congregating around the ring, creating a perfect circle around the stone. 

Then, all movement, all sound, all sense ceased for a split second. The silver globe paused for an infinitesimal moment - and then touched the black stone at last, flowing into the crack and hardening, becoming a part of the ring. Tom and I looked up at each other simultaneously, our faces lit from below, the darkness around us stained crimson. Tom’s lips formed the final words. “Via Mortis, Immortalis.” 

And then everything began to move much too quickly. The crimson circle shrunk at an alarming rate around the ring, fixing the crack and sealing the silver substance inside. All of the swirling darkness around us was sucked into the ring for an instant – and then the world seemed to explode. Tom and I were thrown away from each other as a wave of powerful magic pulsed out from the ring, sending the darkness to all corners of the room in fluttering pieces, like ripped silk. I landed hard on the floor, and immediately looked back to see the ring floating of its own accord, still glowing. As I watched, the light grew until it was almost blinding, before going out abruptly like a snuffed candle. The ring fell to the floor with a small clink and for a moment, there was silence. 

I stood up shakily, and I could see Tom doing the same twenty feet away. Slowly, we walked towards the ring, which lay beside Matthew’s lifeless body. Tom reached the ring first. He scooped it up into his hand and examined it closely. “Tom,” I whispered when I reached him. “Is that – was that – did you just make – ,” 

“A horcrux, yes.” His eyes lit up and he stared at me hungrily. “And now you must make one. Did you get something from your vault?” 

I felt around in my pocket and my fingertips encountered something hard and cold. I pulled it out and held it in my palm. It was a fairly simple silver ring set with an emerald. “But,” I began, confused. “Matthew’s already dead – ,” 

Tom rolled his eyes. “Obviously. But she isn’t.” He pointed over my shoulder and I suddenly remembered Felicity. I looked around and saw that Felicity had wiggled closer to Abraxas. She stopped moving when she saw us looking. 

“I can’t kill her, she’s – she doesn’t deserve it,” I said firmly. 

“Doesn’t she?” Tom said quietly, taking a step closer to me. “Isn’t she the one who started all of this in the first place? Isn’t she the one who told Grindelwald about your wand and your gift?” His voice was almost hypnotic, and I found myself inexplicably beginning to agree with him. I turned towards Felicity and Tom pressed his body against my back and brought his mouth very close to my ear. “She deserves it, Maura. Think about all the pain that she has caused. She might have killed Abraxas. She’s the reason you and I were captured and tortured. And now is the perfect time – she will be written of as a casualty in the war against Grindelwald. No-one will ever know that you did it,” 

Suddenly, a jet of red light shot out from Abraxas’ wand, which I noticed, too late, was held in Felicity’s unbound hands. Tom reacted more quickly, obviously casting a wordless shield, as the spell bounced harmlessly away from me. “Let me go, or I’ll kill him!” Felicity shouted, pointing her wand at Abraxas. Rage began to bubble in the pit of my stomach. How dare she, after I had spared her life? Maybe Tom was right… 

“Drop the wand, Felicity.” I said in a low, dangerous voice. Her hand began to shake, but she pressed the wand against Abraxas’ pale cheek. 

“Kill her, Maura. If you want to save Abraxas, you have to kill her.” Tom’s persuasive voice crooned into my ear. 

Why though? A new voice suddenly awoke inside my head. All I had to do was disarm her more quickly than she could cast a spell on Abraxas. I knew in my heart that she wouldn’t kill him. She might be a heartless bitch, but she wasn’t a killer. “No.” I whispered. Tom’s hands were suddenly on my shoulders, squeezing uncomfortably tightly. 

“Maura,” he growled. “Do it.” I raised my wand obediently and his hands moved in a caress. “Good,” he whispered. “Now say the words.” 

I opened my mouth – and said, “Stupefy.” A jet of red light flew out of my wand, and before Felicity could begin to react, the spell had hit her. She was thrown sideways, and the wand slid out of her hand with a clatter. Finally, she lay still, unconscious but alive. Tom’s hands wrenched me around to face him. 

“What are you doing?” he snarled. 

“I won’t kill her Tom. I am not a killer – ,” 

“Oh, not a killer? Maura, are you forgetting that I have seen you kill? I saw the enjoyment, the satisfaction, the vindication that you felt when you killed DuPont. You are a killer Maura. There are not many who are strong enough, but you are.” Tom spoke quietly, but I could tell that he was barely keeping his anger in check. “Now, I’m asking you to prove your strength. And you need to make a horcrux – ,” 

“Why?” 

“What?” 

“Why do I have to make a horcrux?” 

He looked at me as though he thought I was stupid. “So that you cannot die. I thought you knew what a horcrux was?” 

“Of course I know what it is, Tom, but – what if I don’t want to split my soul? I don’t want to kill again! DuPont was different – ,” 

“How was he different? He was a human being that caused you pain! Felicity is no different – ,” 

“Then you are no different!” I screamed, exploding finally. I wrenched myself free of his hold. “You have made me feel more pain than anybody, ever! I should be killing you!” I pointed my wand at his chest. He stared at me as though he’d never seen me properly before. I felt tears begin to burn at the corners of my eyes. “Tom, I’m not this person! I don’t want to be immortal; I don’t want to kill anyone! I – ” My voice broke. “I love you, but – I can’t do this! I won’t do this! And if you can’t deal with that then…I don’t want to see you anymore.” I stammered to a halt and stared intensely into his eyes, hoping against hope that he would understand me. What I wanted most was for that flash of emotion to flare in his eyes, for him to tell me that it was alright and that I didn’t have to kill anyone. I wanted him to take me in his arms and protect me from all the bad in the world, for him to stop killing and be content with what he had: me. 

His cerulean eyes searched my face and for one, brief, exhilarating moment I thought I saw a flicker of emotion in those eyes – but then his expression hardened. “I thought you wanted the same things I did. I thought you were strong, different from anyone I’d ever met before.” The coldness in his voice made my heart clench. “Clearly, I was wrong.” He turned away from me and began to walk towards the door. 

“W – where are you going?” I asked, trying with everything I had to keep my tears at bay. 

He paused, but did not look back. “I am going to retrieve the Elder Wand. I no longer have need of you, Cortes.” Before I could react he was gone, out the door and into the storm of magic that was raging outside the walls. 

I felt numb. After everything – I couldn’t believe that he could just turn his back and walk away from me as if I was no more than a stranger to him! Slowly, I turned and bullied my legs into carrying me back to where Felicity and Abraxas lay. I knelt down mechanically beside him and pushed him over on to his back. “Abraxas,” I whispered, not trusting my voice. “Are you awake? Please Abraxas,” I whispered. He didn’t respond. I raised the quartz wand and searched my jammed brain for the spell. “Sano Omnis.” I squinted as Abraxas was bathed in pure white light and felt the spell begin to drain my power; I supposed using it twice in one night wasn’t overly advisable. 

To my relief, Abraxas began to stir. His silver eyes opened and looked around with confusion until they fell on me. “Maura?” he said softly, sitting up slowly. His expression became concerned. “Are you alright?” 

NO! I screamed inside, but even though he’d reached out to grab my hand, I knew he wouldn’t hear my thoughts. 

He wasn’t Tom. 

I tried to take a deep breath, but my chest felt extremely constricted. “I need you to apparate us back to Hogwarts,” I said in an unnaturally high voice. 

“Maura – what happened?” he said, looking around the hall and taking in the still forms of Matthew and Felicity. “Where’s Tom?” 

I almost broke down there and then. “Please, Abraxas, can we just go?” 

“Maura, what happened?” he repeated, rising to his knees and cupping my cheeks in his palms. “He’s not – is he – ?” 

“He’s not dead,” I whispered. “I’ll tell you everything. Just please, get me out of here,” I begged, feeling a hot tear finally break free and slide down my cheek. 

His eyes filled with compassion. “Alright, it’s okay Maura. I’ll take us back.” 

“And Felicity!” I exclaimed, grabbing on to the unconscious girl’s arm. Abraxas gave me a strange look but did not protest. He stood up and threw Felicity over his shoulder, then held out his free arm. I stood as well and allowed him to pull me into his chest before the crushing oblivion of apparition took us over.

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