One has decided not to be used anymore. The other has no more use. Now, both sides want to catch them. But really, how do you catch two of the best duelists alive? Harry/Bellatrix, Post-seventh...
Disclaimer: I did not, do not, and will not own Harry Potter. That's a good thing, too.
A/N: I'm aiming for this to be a Harry/Bellatrix story, so if this isn't your thing don't read. Might not get to an actual relationship, but they'll become close. And do note that Harry will have precious few allies in this fic. And it won't be a nice fic if you like most characters of the book. The fic starts at the end of what would have been Harry's seventh year at Hogwarts. If I include HBP elements, you'll see them.
A/N2: Cheers to LunaMoon224 and Konrad for the good beta job they did on this.
Bellatrix Lestrange, nee Black, shuddered as she felt her master's call. With frantic gestures, she threw on a black robe and cloak and stumbled to her lord's chambers. She paused in front of the door to catch her breath, and slowly entered.
The room was not that large, but the almost complete darkness made it seem larger. The only light source came from the large armchair occupied by Lord Voldemort. A candle with a fluttering flame rested in a tall silver candlestick that was worn by the years. Molten wax ran in a stream down to the floor, gathering in an ever-growing mound of wax. It always reminded Bellatrix of something growing in a cave.
"My Lord, you summoned me?" she asked. She knelt in front of him and kissed the hem of his robes.
For a few moments, the Dark Lord looked at her dispassionately, before his thin lips curled in a sneer. "Yes, Bellatrix. It has come to my attention that since your unfortunate encounter with the Potter boy you have been... different."
Bellatrix bowed her head, her forehead almost touching the dirty floor. "I am sorry - My Lord. I-"
"Silence!" the Dark Lord thundered. "I do not know what the boy has done to you, but I will find out." Before Bellatrix had any chance to react or reinforce her mental shields, the Dark Lord battered through them and was rifling through her memories of Potter.
She whimpered and curled into a ball as he reached the memory that had forever changed her life.
Bellatrix sent a purple hex towards the cloaked figure in front of her and grinned in mad satisfaction as it burst into flame and fell to the ground. The screams stopped after a few seconds, her victim's throat having been burnt away.
Dodging a hex coming from her right, she sent a few stunners back. She wished the Master hadn't ordered that Potter be left as unharmed as possible. She had to find out if the opponent was Potter before killing them. It was a change from her usual method of kill first, see who later.
Occasionally, when there was a lull in the cursing, she'd Crucio a random opponent, reveling in the sounds of the screams. She was doing that now, the girl emitting a high, uninterrupted shriek as the curse worked its way through her veins. Bellatrix focused on intensifying the curse when a Reducto hit the ground close to her and she was thrown several meters away.
"/Avada Kedavra!" she snarled. Nobody did that to her! Nobody! She didn't check who her opponent was, she just sent deadly curse after deadly curse, wishing for its death with her every breath. /
To her frustration and mounting anger, all her curses were deflected or avoided. The figure she was fighting was obscured by the destruction her curses had created. For a moment, she paused to wonder if it could be Potter - it couldn't be, there was no way a mere boy would be able to stand up to her like that.
As her opponent paused, she pressed her advantage and gave chase. The figure - clad in a Quidditch leather suit that was ripped in a few places and stained from the fight - climbed up a flight of stairs, taking cover behind a statue of a wizard that sputtered indignantly before Bellatrix's spell turned it into small pieces.
"/Stupefy, Stupefy, Stupefy, Expecto Patronum, Stupefy, Impedimenta, Incarcerous, Stupefy!"/
The string of words seemed almost to blend together as several beams of light streamed towards her, hidden by a blinding white stag. She put up a shield that took the brunt of the magic, letting only part of the last curse through. Through the red haze of anger that had taken control of her, she could see two bright green eyes filled with hate glance at her before the figure turned and sprinted away into the large room.
A few seconds later, the last vestiges of the curse were gone and she continued in her pursuit of Potter. She knew it was him now. And she wanted him dead. Nobody had bested her in a duel in a very long time, and she would make sure that it remained that way.
Snarling curse after curse, she ran into the room - straight into the full body bind that Potter sent. Frozen on the spot, she couldn't see where he was, but she could hear his footsteps coming closer. From behind her, he leaned over and took her wand from her hands, snapping it in two before coming to face her.
For a brief moment, Bellatrix wished looks could kill, so she could turn Potter into a corpse. He smirked at her, the spark of hate dancing in his eyes. For the first time in her life, Bellatrix felt fear of something else than the Master. Potter seemed to notice that, because his smirk grew wider.
"/I could kill you so easily... I could, too," he hissed, leaning close so he could look in her eyes. His green eyes were almost glowing in the dim room of the Ministry of Magic, capturing her gaze, delving deep inside her, trapping her. /
Before she had any idea what was happening, she felt something in her mind. Her Occlumency shields were up in an instant and she summoned all her hate for him, glaring daggers at the boy, who was now sporting a full blown vengeful sneer.
"/Farewell, Bella. I daresay you will not appreciate my parting gift." /
With that, he had turned on his heel, vanishing with an almost inaudible pop.
He'd been right. She hated whatever he had done to her mind. No amount of Occlumency rituals, no matter what kind of rituals she did, she could not silence the voice nagging her, the pain growing in her chest. At night, she trashed in her bed, living nightmares that were not hers, feeling emotions that belonged to others. She would scream herself hoarse in her dreams, pleading for the pain to end, for the torment to cease.
But nothing helped. And it was affecting her behavior, her personality. Where she would have sent a Killing Curse with a gleeful cackle, she could now barely cast the Crucio. She had lost some weight, although potions kept her health and physical condition. Nothing helped her mental conditions though, and it appeared the Dark Lord had grown tired of waiting for whatever curse Potter had hit her with to pass.
The Dark Lord eyed the woman curled into a shivering, whimpering ball with disgust. One of his best Death Eaters, reduced to this by a mere boy.
"Bellatrix," he said in a tone betraying his contempt, "what am I to do with you? What does a man do when his most favored pet becomes a liability? What does the smith do when his best anvil becomes cracked?"
"I- my Lord, please- I-"
Bellatrix forced her body to obey her mind and stopped pleading, bowing her head in a gesture of submission. She had feared such a day. A day when the Master would not consider her useful anymore, and would cast her out. She would be cast away now, never to be spoken of, never to be remembered. Perhaps one of the Death Eaters would give her sanctuary for a few days, before she could leave the continent. She would not be allowed back in the wizarding world, she knew that. The Light side hunted her, the Dark side would shun her.
"What the man does, is dispose of it. We cannot afford weak links in our chain, Bella." With that, he nodded to one of the hooded figures. "Make an example out of her. She disobeyed my order, and I want her punished for it."
Bellatrix froze in horror as Crabbe easily picked her from the ground and swung her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. The man bowed, his burden making it awkward, before exiting the room and heading for a place outside the ward from where he could Apparate out. On the way, a blow to the head made Bellatrix lose consciousness.
When she woke up, she was surrounded by complete darkness and her shoulders were numb. After a brief struggle, she discovered that she was suspended by her arms, and her feet didn't reach the floor. She was also completely naked, but so far, there were no signs of any abuse, except for her blinding headache that emerged from a point on the back of her head.
Knowing from experience that screaming would be useless, she tried to relax her arms as much as possible and prepare herself for what she was certain was coming. Crabbe was a simple person, something she had taken advantage of on many occasions. He would obey the Master's -- no, Voldemort's orders to the letter, causing her so much pain she would beg for the release of death, and then he would bring her back to their master, who would dispose of her. All senior Death Eaters had done something similar on an occasion or another, and despite being one of the least intelligent followers, Crabbe was a master of pain.
She sighed heavily, and contemplated pulling on one of the manacles holding her hands. She knew it was useless, they were ancient, and were charmed against all possible means of escape. The most she would manage would be to cut her wrist, and the charms on the iron manacle would prevent her from bleeding to death.
She started counting out loud as she waited for her torturer to come. A particularly deranged prisoner had the habit of doing that during her time in Azkaban, and it had always made her incredibly mad. Hopefully Crabbe was listening and if he got angry, would finish faster.
Why do I welcome death?
Because I have no alternative.
I was given /no alternative!/
Perhaps I could escape?
It's impossible to escape from here.
Nothing is impossible.
What will I do then?
I can't fight them.
Maybe I could join the Light?
Never. They would kill me on sight anyway.
"Silencio! Shut yer trap, ye bitch!"
The door had opened, spilling light on the floor of the cell. It was packed earth, stained with the remains of countless hours of pain. Crabbe swayed into the room, still keeping his wand pointed at her. In his left hand he had a tall candlestick that he set on the floor before walking to her. He jabbed his wand painfully in her stomach and leaned so he could whisper to her.
"Th' Master said t' me t' make ye hurt." His breath smelled strongly of Firewiskey, and she fought the impulse to retch.
He straightened up, using the wand propped in her stomach as a lever point, making her hiss in pain. Once satisfied with his verticality, he waved his wand at the door and locked it with a minor locking charm.
A second wave made her fall to the ground, though she was still chained. The chains had simple been lengthened. She glared at him while standing up, refusing to show any weakness. He licked his lips as his eyes traveled all over her body, making her want to turn around, to hide.
She was not a shy person, and her years in Azkaban had gone a far distance in assuring that, but only her husband had ever looked at her like that. Only her husband had ever touched her in that way. She knew that he had had his mistresses, and she hadn't felt hurt by it. It was part of the pure-blood tradition.
And rape was part of torture. Destroy the mind, and the body will soon follow.
She flinched as he raised his wand, only to gape as the manacles fell off. With hasty movements, and never taking his eyes off her, Crabbe disposed of his robes, throwing them in a corner of the darkened cell.
As the light from the candle threw shadows across the small cell, making it look like a grotesque dance, Bellatrix started to move. She had learned to kill at a young age, and had taken to it with pleasure. There was nothing so exhilarating as the power of death over others, seeing the light fade in their eyes as the blood poured on the ground.
She pounced forward, hands first, hitting the man on his temples. The effect was instantaneous. He blinked and crashed to the ground, dead before his head touched down. Bellatrix took his wand, shrunk his robes a bit before putting them on and unlocking the cell door. Cautiously, she made her way outside the familiar mansion and Apparated once she was out of the wards. She wanted to leave Britain. It wasn't safe for her anymore, what with both sides out for her blood. She didn't go south, towards France, as everybody would be looking for her there. Instead, she went north, towards Northern Ireland. Once she was there she would be able to decide what else she could do.
With a pop, she arrived at the docks. Despite the very late hour, they were bustling with activity. Cargoes were being loaded, cargoes were being unloaded. All around here, people were yelling, calling out names of ships or talking with the other workers.
She ignored the talking people and headed for the side of the docks that housed the smaller, passenger carriers. Others were wearing large cloaks for protection against the cold mists that haunted the docks at night, and the frequent rains, so nobody paid attention to her robes and pilfered cloak. Only one small craft was lit and open for service, so she climbed on board. A small man with greedy eyes leered at her as she climbed on, but made no other motion than to point at a bench in the front part.
There were already several figures on the bench. She sat next to them, wrapping the cloak closer to her body. A fat, short man with a cigar in his mouth came to them and collected a small fee in money - conjured in Bellatrix's case. After a few more minutes of people yelling and cursing, a movement was felt as the ship's powerful engines roared into life and pushed away from the docks. One of the men on the bench had been sitting down at the same moment, and one of the lights placed above them balanced, bathing him in light for a brief second.
It had been all that Bellatrix needed. She recognized those glasses, and those incredible eyes of his, reminding her of the Killing Curse.
"Potter?" She half-yelled, looking incredulous, Goyle's wand ready in her hand.