Gwen opened her eyes and saw a wall of cold, empty fireplaces in front of her. No fires burned in their grates at this hour.
Her eyes swept the Atrium of the ministry, her heart pounding in her chest.
A series of loud pops to her right made her head whip in that direction and her muscles tense, but it was only Tonks, Moody, and Kingsley.
They all looked at each other for a moment, silently reading each others' expressions.
Without a word, they all turned and ran for the golden lifts at the end of the Atrium.
Gwen tried to control her racing thoughts as they crammed into a lift and someone pushed the button for the right floor.
Was Voldemort already here?
Had Harry come alone?
Was he still alive?
She swallowed hard and took a deep breath, which was very audible in the silence, even over the clatter of the elevator.
She felt a hand slide into her own, and she looked up to see Sirius looking down at her. His brows were pulled together, but he tried to reassure her with a smile. All he accomplished was to bring out the sadness and fear in his eyes.
Sirius looked down at Gwen and tried to smile, but a cold pit has settled in his stomach. He couldn't shake the chill seeping into his bones.
He felt her squeeze his hand, and she mouthed "I love you". The fear that clenched his heart lessened a little as he squeezed her hand in reply, and the warmth from her touch soothed the cold in his veins.
His fear for Harry battled with the overwhelming joy he felt whenever he looked at Gwen, especially when he felt the ring on her finger digging into his own as they held hands. He had never come close to loving anyone the way he loved her.
She was all he had in the world.
And she had picked him.
Out of everyone else on earth, she had picked him.
He did not want to think about where he would be if not for her.
What had he done to deserve her?
A lot of his life, he had done the opposite of what was good, what was right. Yet here she stood next to him, where she would be for the rest of his life.
He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it.
She looked up at him, and his eyes he savored every curve of her face.
"Promise me you'll always find a way to be happy," he whispered so only she could hear.
She frowned at him, confused.
He wasn't even sure where the words came from, but the pit in his stomach weighed even heavier.
She opened her mouth to reply, but the lift had come to a halt, and they quickly sprinted out after the others.
Gwen ran down the corridor, hot on Tonks' heels with Sirius running beside her. They turned left, then right, going deeper into the ministry, following Kingsley's lead.
What had Sirius meant?
She shook her head, trying to stay focused on the dangers ahead.
Of course she was going to happy. He had asked her to marry him.
Kingsley led them into a circular room with doors on every side.
There's no way she could be anything but happy.
They all stopped briefly, panting, as he decided on the right path.
Gwen chanced a glance at Sirius and could see the tension in his jaw. She opened her mouth to say something, but Kingsley had made a decision and they were off again through the door he had chosen.
She paid little attention as she ran through another room, trying to form some kind of plan to get to Harry first. She was, after all, his best chance of protection.
They flew through another door, and Gwen halted just in time. She had almost toppled down rows upon rows of stone benches that stretched all around the chamber they had just entered.
There was shouting and flashes of light down in the middle of the room where a huge stone archway stood.
The Order wasted no time and bounded down the tiers, picking off Death Eaters and engaging in duels as they went.
Gwen went with them, and reached the bottom step unscathed, searching for Harry.
Finally, she saw him.
He was right by the archway, doing his best against a masked Death Eater. She started to run to his aid, but Sirius had already reached him.
A hot jet of light passed right by her left ear, and she spun to face her attacker.
She deflected a second spell and returned quickly with one of her own.
Her and her foe continued like this for some time, until Gwen sent two Stunning spells one right after the other, and the Death Eater fell.
Gwen looked around.
Bodies littered the floor, and she saw a lifeless form she did not want to recognize not too far from her.
Her heart dropped into her stomach but she quickly looked away to find Harry.
Just as she turned toward the arch, Gwen saw a curse erupt from Bellatrix' wand and speed toward Sirius.
She waited for his Shield charm, but it never came. It hit him. He started to fall.
Her heart flew into her throat, as she started to move towards him it felt like slow motion.
Without warning, a spell hit her square in the back and her body froze, her mouth open in surprise. She fell forward, hit her head against the sharp edge of a stone step, and blacked out.
Gwen's eyes opened. She was laying on her stomach on a hard surface, and her head was throbbing painfully. Her vision was blurry and there was an odd ringing in her right ear.
Slowly, she pushed herself up to a sitting position.
Her vision cleared a bit, and she could see outlines of people moving all around her.
She frowned, trying collect her thoughts and remember what had happened, but thinking through the pain in her head was proving nearly impossible.
She put a hand to her head and felt a hot, sticky liquid there. She pulled her hand away and her fingers were stained red with blood.
She looked around her again as the ringing in her ears began to lessen. She could hear shouts coming from all directions.
Members of the Order were dashing here and there, trying to finish off the remainder of their enemies. She stood up, intending to asist them, but her vision swam and and she leaned against a nearby step for balance.
Where was Harry?
Her eyes found him by the edge of the elevated stone platform in the center of the room. He was being restrained by Lupin. He seemed to be screaming.
Confused, Gwen stood again, wiping more blood from her head.
Where was Sirius?
She looked around, searching for his form in the bodies moving around her.
He wasn't there.
Something had happened...she had seen something before hitting her head...
She tried to work through her muddled thoughts and grasp the wispy memory.
Her gaze again found Harry, whose face was contorted in anger. Her eyes traveled upward, taking in the huge archway behind Harry, and frowned.
...she had seen something happen...something bad...
It came back to her: Sirius had been hit.
All the air left her lungs.
Sirius had been hit.
Where was he now?
Involuntarily, her eyes scanned the ground, looking for his, it pained her think of it, body.
What had Bellatrix thrown at him?
Had it been...lethal?
Her head ached so terribly. She put a hand to her forehead and squeezed her eyes shut against the pain.
Where had Bellatrix gone?
Suddenly something in her brain clicked.
Her head snapped up and she ignored the pain the sudden action brought on. Harry was still screaming, and looking up to the door at the top of the stone steps...
She followed his gaze and saw Bellatrix' cloak whip out of sight.
She took a few faltering steps toward Harry and Lupin, searching Harry's face for an answer.
Harry was gasping for breath when his eyes met Gwen's. The pain she saw there was all she needed.
Sirius is gone.
The thought punched her in the chest and she staggered back a few steps.
It was impossible. It couldn't happen. Never.
She shook her head frantically, murmuring "No no no no no..."
Her heart had stopped beating. The room had gone silent and empty.
All that was left was her and the archway.
She gazed up at it numbly, her mouth slightly open. She couldn't believe it.
Someone had sliced her down the middle. She was only half of a person, half of what she had been mere minutes ago.
He had left her...
He had been taken from her.
The name sparked a fire inside of Gwen. Her veins opened wider as her blood pulsed hot and angry through her body.
The room filled with noise and people again, but they no longer mattered to her.
She looked back at Lupin, whose face was pulled tight in pain and helplessness, and at Harry, still struggling to free himself to go after Bellatrix.
But Gwen would take care of that.
She turned and sprinted up the stairs, her fury working its way into her every pore. The wound on her head was forgotten. She felt no pain anymore.
She passed through a doorway, vaguely noticing someone standing there, and hearing them call her name from a million miles away.
On she ran, through the circular room, picking a door that was already ajar.
Her heart was beating so hard it felt like it was going to break through her chest. With every pump it made, it sent her fiery life source exploding through her, and his name echoed in her mind.
Bellatrix would pay. Oh, how she would pay.
She skidded to a stop in a long, stone lined hallway. Her anger clouded her mind, not allowing her think straight. Fueled by rage and anguish, the fire insided had never burned so ferociously.
Her hands clenched and unclenched as she tried to think where Bellatrix had gone.
Something wet dripped into her eyes and she raised a hand to wipe it away.
It was not blood that startled her as she withdrew her hand.
Her arm, from her fingertips to her elbow, were on fire.
Flames had erupted from her pores, warmly caressing her skin, and they were slowly spreading up past her elbow.
Strangely satisfied, she turned on the spot at apparated, appearing again in the Atrium.
She heard a scuffling noise and a gasp of surprise and opened her eyes to see Bellatrix. She had obviously been running toward the exact spot Gwen had appeared.
Her eyes were wide and fearful as she backed away, taking in Gwen's fiery form.
At the sight of her, Gwen was incensed, and she let her anger and agony completely take over. She wanted to cause as much pain as she possibly could.
She had taken him from her.
Sirius was gone because of her.
She looked at Bellatrix straight in the eyes and gathered all the energy she could.
The flames covering her body detached and hurled themselves at Bellatrix, who screamed. Gwen watched with a sick satisfaction as the wall of fire reached her.
Suddenly, the flames were gone.
All that was left was a billowing cloud of smoke and Bellatrix' whimpers.
A cold voice echoed throughout the room, piercing Gwen's heart like an icepick.