Chapter 9 : The Act to End It All
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And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume."
- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 2.3
* *December 22nd - 2 Days Left* *
She awoke shaking and cold. Sweat pored from her forehead as she tried to make out her surroundings from the glow of the Christmas lights. She felt Harry’s chest rise from under her, and with a shock she realized she had fallen asleep on top of him. She raised herself on her arms, her stomach clenching at the reality of spending a night with him.
You’ve gotten nothing accomplished by your childish frivolities! Kiana chastised herself as she carefully pulled herself off Harry and jumped from the couch. Your weakness is abhorrent. You had him right in your grasp the entire night, and instead you cried your fears to him like a child!
Rage, hot and painful, flared up within her and tempted her to blast something in the room, an activity that usually comforted her when the world became unbearable. But she did not want to wake the boy up; he didn’t need to find her in such a state. Discovering from her wristwatch that it was just after dawn, Kiana conjured up a piece of parchment and quill from midair and scribbled a note down.
I needed to prepare for my morning class, but you looked so comfortable I didn’t want to wake you. I hope you slept well and I’ll see you sometime later this week. Thank you again for such a magical night!
All my love,
She figured that was enough to keep the clueless boy satisfied. Of course she wasn’t actually planning to attend any of her classes today – she had much more important work to do. She only had two days left to murder the boy, and if she kept going at the pace she was, Voldemort would end up doing it for her. And she hadn’t prepped for weeks for that to happen! She wanted the boy to see her cast the spell herself. Oh, how she would enjoy glimpsing the shock and horror in his eyes!
Kiana had just exited the Room of Requirement when something cold slid down her forearm. Frowning, she studied the silver bracelet and the foreign words inscribed upon it. A pain so intense hit her head that she fell against the wall, clutching her forehead and gasping for breath. Her vision blurred as the events of the previous night found their way to the forefront of her mind, and Kiana’s eyes widened with terror.
What had happened to her? Why had she been planning Harry’s death just moments ago, and now she couldn’t get his kiss out of her mind?
Tears threatened to form, but she pushed them back, determined to let anger replace them. She knew what had happened – Dumbledore’s potion had weakened momentarily in her body, letting Bellatrix’s spell attack her with all fierceness. Her two selves, both strong and persistent, were battling over her mind and actions. It wouldn’t be long before the Death Eater side won out, for she had been experiencing an increase in her dark emotions for days now.
How could she live like this? What if she was with Harry and she suddenly experienced the urge to curse him? All would be destroyed – both her hopes for a relationship with him as well as Dumbledore’s unbearable request to find good grounds with the Death Eaters. But what could she do about it? Going to the Headmaster was foolhardy; he had already proved that he would make her life more complicated if she asked for assistance. But there was someone else who would make a good target for her rage…
Grabbing her wand from her robes, she sprinted down the corridor and attempted to find the staircase leading down to the dungeons.
“You talk of me submitting myself to the Dark Lord, but then make it impossible for me to do so! How can you yell at me for my failures when you’re involved in the plot to keep me from succeeding?”
Severus Snape glanced up lazily from his work as Kiana burst into his dungeon office. “What are you on about, Karn?”
“You know perfectly well, Snape!” she sneered, approaching his desk and pointing her wand at his head. “You wish for me to gain Potter’s favor while plotting to murder him, but how can I do so when so many of you have toyed with my mind? I cannot even attempt to cast the ‘mortacious’ spell when part of my mind is in love with him! Is this some sort of clever twist to throw me into Voldemort’s waiting hands? Because as of now I’m on the road to my own destruction!”
Snape pursed his lips in annoyance and folded his hands over the essay he was correcting. “Put your wand away, girl; there is no need for this to turn into a dueling match.”
Kiana raised her eyebrows. “Oh, isn’t there?” Acting quickly, she envisioned the words “Petrificus totalus” in her mind and shot a jet of light at the professor. She was momentarily stunned when Snape’s wand flew to his hand from a nearby shelf and he summoned a shield charm, her spell bouncing off Snape’s shield with ease.
“Incarcerous!” Snape cried.
Kiana broke free of her daze. “Protego!”
Snape thrust another spell at her the moment his first had bounced off her shield. Kiana used her resentment as an ally to increase the power of her spells. But Snape’s impulses and timing were near perfect, and several times she was afraid his curses would hit. After a minute of dueling without a hit on either side, Kiana could stand Snape’s game no longer.
“CONFRINGO!” she screamed.
Snape ducked to avoid the blasting charm. The spell bounced off the wall and hit Snape’s largest shelf containing dozens of potion-filled glass bottles. Zooming from one container to the other, Kiana’s spell shattered each with an ear-splitting CRASH and sent glass flying through the room. Kiana shrieked and fell onto all fours, tossing her arms over her head. She felt hundreds of glass pieces cover her like hard raindrops, and she didn’t lift her head until the explosions caused by the curse had ceased.
Snape eyed her with revulsion as he brushed glass fragments from his robes. “Clearly you do not understand the importance of controlling your emotions before casting powerful spells!” His tone was murderous, but Kiana refused to look away as she untangled glass from her thick hair.
“Don’t you dare criticize me for this!” she hissed. “You brought this upon yourself, Snape. Next time you’ll actually listen to me before labeling my frustrations as ‘insignificant.’”
Snape narrowed his eyes at her. “Why, pray tell, should I listen to your passionate speeches when you ignore my advice anyway? You clearly think you know better in any given situation, so why not put your God-given wisdom to use?”
Kiana’s jaw dropped. “What gave you the idea that I think so highly of myself? Besides, how can I even begin to think for myself when every minute my thoughts change drastically? Remove whatever spell you placed upon me, Snape, or you’ll fully understand the consequences when I fail Dumbledore’s task!”
“No spell placed on you is prohibiting your success, Karn.” His black eyes scanned her like an x-ray, making her uncomfortable. “It’s your doubt about your ability to succeed that is causing your changing emotions, as well as your weakness where Potter is involved. I cannot help you if you don’t try to master your infatuation, but know that it will be your downfall if you continue at this rate. Your current failures have me concerned for your life.”
Kiana spat ruefully onto the floor. “Rubbish!” she hissed. “You wouldn’t care for me if I were being slashed to pieces at Bellatrix’s feet. I don’t believe what you say about all this being my own doing. I think you just can’t accept your own part in my fate. I pray that you’ll experience some regret when the students of Hogwarts are murdered at my own hand.”
Without waiting for a reply, Kiana turned and smashed a remaining potion bottle with a flick of her wand before streaking across the glass-strewn floor and out the door.
“How long were you planning to deceive me? You are foolishly naïve if you believed you could withhold such information for days. Your mind screams your failures, girl!”
Kiana crouched at Bellatrix’s feet, her body tense as she waited for the inevitable slash of pain upon her back. She had learned long ago that speaking to the witch while she was in a rage was deadly.
“I hear his words to you…good thing you did not disclose a word of the plan, or else you would be meeting your end tonight.” Bellatrix circled the defenseless and wandless girl like a slithering snake waiting for the right time to strike. “But you accepted his meaningless gift with gratitude. Your feelings poison your thoughts and turn you away from your task. Do you secretly desire to become the Dark Lord’s pawn, girl? Do you long to murder your friends and hear Potter’s screams for mercy? Speak, Karn!” She slashed Kiana’s right wrist with a quick swipe of her wand, spilling scarlet blood over the fine silver of her bracelet.
Kiana bit back a cry and clutched her wrist to stem the flow. “I am aware of my weaknesses, my lady. I apologize for my carelessness, but I have been destabilized by my constantly shifting thoughts…”
“There is no excuse for your behavior!” Bellatrix cried, striking her back with a fiery whip from her wand. “It’s because of your love for Potter that your thoughts change, girl; there is no other reason! You may have practiced mortacus on the thestrals, but you have not mastered the spell. How do you expect to use mortacious on Potter if you cannot perform its simpler form?”
Kiana’s head spun as blood continued to spill from her wrist. She squeezed her eyes shut to try and block the pain, knowing how dangerously pale she must be.
“I am not unaware of the fragileness of your mind, Karn. Someone is working against me, using some spell or potion to halt my intrusions. If this is not fixed soon, there will be no hope for you. I cannot fix this on my own. We will have to intensify our efforts by changing the date of your induction. It will begin tonight.”
Kiana had opened her eyes in time to see Bellatrix grab her good arm and Apparate them both. They landed heavily in the same graveyard where Kiana had been accepted into the cult. The girl dropped to the ground upon arrival; she had lost a significant amount of blood. She tried to find the pressure point on her arm to cut off circulation, but blood gushed from the deep wound on her wrist no matter what she did. She knew death was upon her when white spots dotted the graveyard and blurred her vision…
“I do not disapprove of your choice of punishment, Bella, but killing her before the Dark Lord arrives? Very unwise.”
Kiana recognized Snape’s voice, but she had to concentrate hard to make out his words. Her eyes snapped open in shock when she felt her blood clot and her arm and robes being cleansed. Snape was replacing his wand inside his robes when she glanced up at him through her restored vision.
“Stop gawking, Karn, and get to your feet!” Snape snapped. “Try to look alert when the Dark Lord arrives, for this will be a day you won’t soon forget.”
“Well said, Snape. And neither will I forget it.”
As she carefully rose (relying on Bellatrix’s grip on her arm to remain steady), Kiana caught the vindictive sneer of Lucius Malfoy a few feet away. He had thrown back his hood, revealing the blinding white of his long hair. Despite her nausea, Kiana found herself glaring back.
“Oh, you recognize me, girl?” Lucius laughed as he leaned casually on his silver serpent staff. “Probably because of my son, Draco. The family resemblance has always been apparent.”
“Yes, I’ve had the pleasure of recognizing his arrogant strides through the corridors.” Kiana’s voice was weak but it pierced the still air nonetheless. "Thinks he owns the school and can make all do his bidding."
“Draco's not the only one who can make all do his bidding," Lucius remarked with a chilling smile. "You're about to realize that to its utmost intensity."
She was determined to cast away the fear his words had created in her. “And what’s so important about today, Malfoy? Am I to receive the Death Eater of the Month award?”
Lucius laughed cruelly. “Your naivety surprises me. Didn’t you see this coming? I’m surprised the Dark Lord has agreed to it with all your careless mistakes these past few days. But it will doubtlessly change everything; hopefully for the better.” He nodded at Snape and Bellatrix before strolling away toward a congregating group of hooded Death Eaters on the other side of the cemetery.
Kiana glanced questionably up at Snape. “Should I thank you for inviting all these guests to my party? They seem to know exactly what gift is to be bestowed upon me.”
Snape avoided her gaze as he studied the cloaked wizards around them. “You will get what’s coming to you, Karn. And hopefully it’ll prevent any mistakes in your future.”
Something cold dropped in her stomach. What new form of torture had they developed to change her actions? Would they create such hatred inside her that she’d kill anyone that crossed her path? The thought chilled her insides.
Her heart lurched at Voldemort’s sudden appearance. The Death Eaters obediently formed a circle around him, keeping their heads lowered in respect. But Kiana remained upright, her eyes fixed on the Dark Lord’s skull-like face. Hopefully his expression would give her a clue as to the forthcoming activity.
“Many of you will undoubtedly be surprised at how quickly this is occurring.” Voldemort wasted no time as he examined the faces of his followers and then turned to Kiana with a heart-chilling grin. “I, myself, doubted whether our little apprentice is prepared for this, but because of recent events…” The knowing, reproachful look Voldemort passed her sent a piercing pain through her head, forcing her to look down. “This could be put off no longer. She will not be able to resist my power once she experiences the binding magic of the Dark Mark.”
Kiana released a strangled cry as her mind spun in horror. The Dark Mark…no, they couldn’t do that to her! She would be bound forever to Voldemort and the Death Eaters; she would not be able to hide it! All her friends would leave her, and there’d be no escape from the nightmare…
She was barely conscious of her movements, but she found herself backing away from the graveyard with timid steps. When reality sunk in, she spun around to sprint to a free Apparition point.
But Snape’s quick reflexes doomed her once more. Grabbing her arm, he hauled her back to the circle before she had taken two paces. Using his wand, he forced her to lie at the Dark Lord’s feet and took away her voice in one frightful movement.
Even though her wand remained in her pocket, Kiana could not reach for it. She had no choice but to look up at Voldemort’s pitiless features with dread filling her body like a painful poison. She couldn’t even fight against her future torture with words.
She had become a cold, unfeeling soul lying dead at the feet of the Dark Lord.
“I’m sure you do not understand the significance of today, girl.” Voldemort whispered the words close to her ear, and it hurt her not to have the ability to turn away. “With my Mark burned into your skin, you will forever be connected to myself and my followers. I will also be connected with you, and I shall know when you are deceiving me or entering into trouble. You will feel my rage at any given time, and you will be helpless to resist if I call you to my side. Is any of this unclear?”
Kiana was unable to respond, but luckily Voldemort knew of her response by reading her mind. Her pounding heart was the only sign of her existence, for the rest of her body was empty of feeling. Her mind wandered far beyond the graveyard as Voldemort’s ice cold hands gripped her left arm.
Harry’s smiling face appeared in the stars above, and her body relaxed as she saw the sparkle of his eyes and heard the joy in his laugh.
“I’ve never felt this way about anyone before, Kiana. Even when you’re angry at me I can’t be angry with you. It hurts me to see you so closed up inside, to be so dead to the world. I wish I could take all your pain away, but I can’t if you don’t share it with me. Give your heart to me, Kiana, and I promise I’ll treasure it forever.”
A pain as sharp as a knife slashed through her left wrist, as if Voldemort were cutting through all her major arteries and exposing her muscles to the air. She opened her mouth to let out a powerful, heart-wrenching scream, but only air escaped through her lips.
Kiana’s arm flashed a fierce green as the terrifying form of a skull formed on her arm. A long snake protruded from the skull’s mouth, its jaw wide and fangs gleaming. Her heart raced so forcefully Kiana thought it would explode as Voldemort entered her mind and body, leaving nothing untouched as he altered her senses and thoughts. Harry disappeared from her secret world in a flash, leaving her in dark nothingness.
“Harry…Harry, don’t leave me now. It hurts, Harry, please don’t go!”
The silence was unbearable. She no longer felt Voldemort clutching her arm, but his presence was as real as the ground supporting her. She heard and felt nothing except the Dark Lord’s harsh orders and his cold, inhuman emotions. Her arm ached as if strong flames were devouring her flesh, but still she could not move any limb. She gave in to the pain, allowing it to consume her while keeping her mind focused on nothing but the agony spreading up and down…up and down…
“You will finish the task by tomorrow at sunset. If this is not accomplished, I will instantly possess you and Potter will suffer horribly until his death by your doing. Plan well, girl, or all you know and love will die in a few short days.”
Voldemort’s words echoed in her head long after they were spoken. She felt herself falling toward the ground as the pain spread, devouring all her strength and willpower. Now she wanted nothing but rest and relief from the agony of the Dark Mark scorching her arm.
But relief never came until she awoke later, lying on her back with her eyes directed at the stars. She slowly turned, wincing at the spasm of agony that shot down her back. A tight bandage was wound around her left forearm, and dried blood stained the fabric. This merely covered the sight of her Dark Mark; it did not lessen the ache. She feared the pain would stay with her for days.
“Are you strong enough to walk?”
Kiana sat up and stared with blank eyes at Snape, who was leaning against the nearest tree. His face was still and his eyes were empty of emotion as always. Kiana had expected no better. They were very much alone in the graveyard now; not even a lone bird soared through the trees. The sky had changed from a solid black to a dark blue, warning of the coming dawn.
“I can walk,” she murmured, clutching the ground as she stiffly rose to a standing position. The ache of her body did not bother her anymore; the worst was realizing how empty her heart was. Only the night before it had been full with the love and care she felt toward Harry, and in less than twenty-four hours it had all vanished. She had never known how dead a living person could feel.
“You realize what you must do today?”
“Yes.” Kiana absentmindedly stared through the cluster of trees surrounding the aged tombstones. “It will be done soon.”
Snape nodded. “Very well. Are you ready to return?”
Like I have any choice. “Yes. Let’s go back.”
Snape walked forward and grabbed her right wrist (which now sported a thick, white scar). They appeared on Hogwarts’ grounds minutes before the sun shone over the horizon.
A new day had dawned, though Kiana knew as she walked to her dorm that it would be her and Harry’s final one. Before midnight Harry would be dead, and Kiana would have given her soul to Voldemort.
Their fates had been decided long ago, and now it was all set in stone.
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