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 didn't, don't and won't own Harry Potter.
A/N: Many thanks to Konrad and LunaMoon224 for the good work they did on this chapter. Thanks to all the people who reviewed, the response was fantastic. You guys rock! Keep it up and I'll be in heaven for the rest of my days.
"Harry, wait, please, you have to listen to us!"
"Leave me alone!" he called back, veering quickly to avoid the curse Bellatrix sent his way. There were some shouts as he almost fell from his broom, but he was back on track immediately. He had no idea how Bellatrix had gotten to her wand, and cursed himself for it.
Ignoring the shouts from the people behind him, but paying close attention to any spell that might come towards him, Harry steered his broom in a steep dive towards the waters below him. The land was close, only minutes away, and maybe he'd be able to lose himself in the woods that covered this side.
He quickly discovered that diving had been a bad idea, as spell after spell came after him, forcing him to swerve madly. He heard Bellatrix's laugh from above him, and grit his teeth in frustration. Somebody from the chasers' group had heard her too, it seemed, because several spells were shot towards her, causing her to shoot back. Harry was surprised to see that she was using Impedimenta's, not more painful or debilitating spells.
But he didn't let that thought stray him from his purpose. Taking advantage of the distraction Bellatrix provided, he accelerated the broom to the maximum speed it could reach and soon was on the shore. He remained on the broom, flying slower and closer to the ground, looking for any place where he could hide. The moon and stars lit the area nicely, as well as the wands everybody from the Order had enlightened.
By the sounds and lights, they were still trying to catch Bellatrix. /Good. One less nuisance, /he thought, slowing down considerably and drawing his wand. He felt a lot better once he had his wand in his hand. He quickly Disillusioned himself and his broom, and hid in a copse of trees.
A minute later, Bellatrix flew at breakneck speed above the copse of trees, followed by the five Order members, who were chasing her. Spell after spell was traded between the Order and the woman, and Harry couldn't help but respect her abilities. She was holding her own against them, a feat not many could boast.
With a small smirk, he climbed on the broom and took to the air, heading for a mass of lights that signaled a city. At the far end of his right side, Harry saw flashes of light, marking the position of the still fighting group. He glanced at them from time to time, prepared to take action if they got close, but they didn't. They were heading the same way he was, on a parallel course.
He focused on arriving to the city. There wasn't much he could do while they were so far away. Hopefully, once he reached the city he'd be able to get passage on a Muggle ship and leave the country. Or perhaps he'd travel to a larger city and take a plane from there. He was capable of conjuring himself all the necessary identification papers, and knew how to get on a plane.
He was shaken out of his musings by another broom colliding with him, sending both riders plowing into the earth. They rolled a few times on the soft, grass-covered ground, limbs tangled, and at least one splintered broom, before they stopped. Harry was gasping for air, winded from the fall, while the other person was trying to disentangle the broom from their robes.
Harry recognized the broom right away, and jumped a few feet back, curses on his lips. Bellatrix startled at his sudden movement and froze, hand halfway to her wand. Harry briefly considered asking her why she was following him, but decided not to. Why should he care? She was an enemy. Besides, she wasn't following him. She was running away, as the fight on the ship had proved.
He started the stunning hex when a blue jet of light came at him from above and left. Cursing, he dove out of the way.
"Stupefy/, /Stupefy/, /Impedimenta/, /Lumos /Solem/!" he chanted, feeling a brief bout of satisfaction at the shouts of pain from above him. There were only three of them now, and one of them was spinning wildly, both hands covering his eyes. Harry quickly sent another string of curses, causing him to crash in the ground. He moaned quite loudly, so Harry knew that he was still alive.
After sending several more curses towards the two remaining fliers, Harry turned tail and ran, seeking some cover. They had crashed in the middle of a field and Harry had no intention of remaining there. Two casters on brooms had the definite advantage when it came to a ground-to-air duel.
Behind him he heard Bellatrix cast a few spells of her own. He focused in front of him, glad that the ground was relatively even. He did not want to light his wand if he could manage it. A minute of running later, he realized that he needn't have bothered. There was nobody chasing him. He could see flashes of light, coming from two persons engaged in a duel. Bellatrix must have taken out their brooms, since both fighters were on the ground.
Soon, a red light hit the remaining Order member and Bellatrix started running towards the city. And incidentally, towards him. Harry spared a thought towards the Order members, hoping that none of them were mortally wounded, and Disillusioned himself, crouching on the ground, doing his best to remain still as Bellatrix approached at a ground-eating lope.
As soon as she was within a dozen yards of him, Harry whispered the Stunning Spell, and leapt into action as she put a shield up at the last instant. They traded spells just like in the Ministry, neither getting the upper hand, and this time there were no physical obstacles to offer advantages.
"/Stupefy/, /Lumos/, /Impedimenta/, /Petrificus/, /Stupefy/, /Diffindo/!" Harry called as he ran to the side, his curses leaving long lines in the night. He was breathing heavily after almost an hour of continuous spell casting, but he was also enjoying himself immensely.
He'd never been so challenged in his entire life. Quidditch offered its challenges, but Harry was a natural flier, and there were few things that he couldn't do with a broom. Dueling was different though. He had trained long and hard to become good at it, under the supervision of some of the best duelists the Order had to offer. And he was able to hold his own against the very best of what Voldemort had to offer. Of course, he would probably be flattened by Voldemort, but save that, Bellatrix was by far the best duelist Voldemort had at his call.
As he jumped over a streaking purple light, Harry thought, only she's not at his call anymore. I wonder why?
He wasn't able to voice his question, because a few pops announced the appearance of several masked figures. Without a second thought, Harry turned his wand on them, energized by a burst of adrenaline.
"Bellatrix, our Master has ordered that you will be killed. Do you have anything to say?" Lucius Malfoy said, his wand pointed towards her, completely ignoring the fight going on between Harry Potter and the two other Death Eaters.
"/Crucio/!" Bellatrix shrieked, fueling the spell with all the hatred she had for the blond. He dove out of the way, responding in kind.
Soon, the two remaining Death Eaters joined the battle as well. Bellatrix cast curse after curse, letting them flow from instinct, eyes half closed and an eerie smile on her face as she called incantation after incantation, dodging some spells, shielding against most of them.
It all melted together, becoming a blend of gesture and sound. Duck, shield, cast, lean left, cast, shield, and duck again. Before her, the land under Lucius' feet suddenly erupted, sending the blond crashing some twenty feet away.
It took Bellatrix a few seconds to realize that the battle had stopped and that she was facing Harry, who was looking her with hate, mixed with something she couldn't recognize at first./ Respect? Why would he respect me, the brat?/
She smirked at him, seeing that his wand was not in his hand, and twirled her wand in a complex pattern, shouting in her mind. The bright yellow beam that shot out of her wand spread in a fan pattern, five feet wide once it reached Harry, and even so, he was only caught by the edge of the blast.
She quickly sent Stunner after Stunner, wanting to take him down. But he recovered quickly, and although his left arm hung limply and his left calf was bleeding, held his own for a few minutes. But his mobility, one of his greatest assets in a duel, was lacking, and finally she was able to hit him with a Petrificus.
Maliciously, she walked towards him, hitting him with two more binding spells, just in case he was able to break through the first. She walked in a circle around him before stopping in front of him and meeting his eyes, expecting to see hate and fear.
She was not prepared to see the respect in his eyes. It was heavily shadowed by a simmering anger and a layer of hate, but she could recognize it for what it was. She had seen that look once before in the eyes of a man. Frank Longbottom had voiced it as well. 'You have won fairly. Victory is yours, but I shall die with dignity.'
She had been so angry then. Through their torture, neither Auror had so much as cried out. At the time, Bellatrix had hated them both, but now, seeing the same look in Harry's eyes, she could not be angry with him. Yes, she hated him, and she would soon show him the extent of her hate, but he had been a worthy opponent, and he had fought fair.
Fair? Since when does fair matter? she thought, surprised at the direction her thoughts took.
She was so lost in her thoughts, that Harry's probe went unnoticed went unnoticed for a moment. But an instant later she slammed down her Occlumency shields and backhanded him.
"Get out of my head!" she screeched, throwing her arm back, ready to hit him again. A memory stopped her, however.
The Death Eater crawled over to the Dark Lord's throne and kissed the hem of his robe before backing a few feet and bowing so low that his forehead touched the dirty floor.
"M-master, I bring good news," he stammered, his voice barely audible. He sounded so young! But they were all young, with the exception of the very few members of the inner circle.
Voldemort steepled his fingers in front of his face and nodded towards the Death Eater. "Speak, Severus," he said in a soft voice that was nonetheless heard by everybody.
"I heard-" the youth stopped speaking, drawing in large gulps of air, as if coming to terms with what he'd heard.
"Speak, Severus," Voldemort repeated, his voice harsh this time.
The youth visibly stiffened, and his voice trembled as he spoke. "Prophecy, Master! There is a prophecy." He ignored Voldemort's sudden immobility as he described how he listened in on Sibyll Trelawney and how he'd heard only the first half of the prophecy before being thrown out.
Voldemort's reaction stunned most of his followers present. He stood, reached for Snape's neck and pulled him up, before backhanding him with enough force to send the youth crashing to the floor, nose broken.
Bellatrix let her hand fall to her side, and raised her wand instead. "What should I do with you, Potter?" she asked, her voice dripping malice. She prodded him with her wand, sneering as his eyes maintained the same look, showing no pain. "Let's show you why nobody defeats me in a duel, Potter," she said, raising her wand.
"/Crucio/!" a sudden voice called, making Bellatrix turn and cast her own spell.
The second incantation was almost instantaneous with the first, and it sent Lucius Malfoy flying for the second time that night. This time however, he was conscious and able to right himself as Bellatrix kept him under close watch, wand pointed. "Only I torture my prisoners, Malfoy," she snarled.
He brushed his hair back with his hand, his face composing itself in the sneer only a Malfoy could manage. "Bellatrix, I see you have captured Potter. The Master will be pleased. He might allow you to live, if you were to bring him the boy," he said, his voice hoarse from all the spell casting he had done.
She looked at him for a few minutes, almost disbelieving. She hadn't even considered handing Harry over. He was her prize. And she was certain that even if she were allowed to live, it would be the life of a slave, at the beck and call of whomever Voldemort gave her to. No, she did not want that. Decision made, she gave her wand a jab and spoke an incantation. Lucius keeled over, eyes glazed as the Memory Charm erased the last twenty-four hours from his memory.
Bellatrix repeated the procedure on the rest of the Death Eaters before turning to Harry and plucking his wand from his hand. She saw a brief flash of panic as she handled the instrument, and a faint relief as she pocketed it, and not broke it, as he probably expected her to.
"Let's see how you like being left wandless in a hostile area, Potter," she smirked at him before starting to walk towards the lights of the city. Dawn was approaching, and she desperately needed rest and food. Once well rested and fed, she would plan further.
Harry felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach as Bellatrix took his wand, and it was with only a small measure of relief that he watched her walk away in the corner of his eye. When even the sound of her footsteps was gone, he focused his attention inwards, trying to focus enough magic to break through the spell.
It took almost an hour for the spells to break, and he was sweating profusely by then. He sat on the ground for a few minutes before checking the Death Eaters for wands. To his dismay, even Lucius' had been snapped. Even as he cursed Bellatrix's name to all hells and back again, he felt a grudging admiration for breaking the wands without him seeing it. He had hoped that he could take a wand from them and have a means of defending himself.
Resigning himself to a wandless life for a while, Harry began walking towards the city. The sun was cresting the horizon just as he started walking, and he took the opportunity to study himself. He was dirty, sweaty, and his robes were ready to be binned. He could feel how tangled his hair was when he ran through it, and winced.
/Oh well, nothing to do about it yet. /Fortunately, Bellatrix had left him his money, so when he got to the city he would be able to buy himself new clothing and perhaps spend a day in a Muggle motel and get cleaned up. His stomach rumbled, and he added food to his list of needs. Limping and cradling his left arm to his chest, he started walking.
The trek to the city was easy, but monotonous. Harry encountered a road after a few minutes of walking, and it made his progress easier. Even so, it was a full two hours before he reached the outskirts of the city. Early risers watched his progress with wide eyes; an old woman shrieked at the sight of his wounded leg.
He approached a man dressed in a white robe that was waiting in front of a small grocery store, and asked for directions to the nearest hospital. The man, obviously a doctor, asked him if he could wait a minutes, and he'd drive Harry there. He gratefully accepted, leaning against the wall of the shop. A few minutes later, a cheerful woman balancing several grocery bags walked out of the shop, and the doctor conferred briefly with her.
She quickly placed the bags in the booth of a small, old-looking car and helped Harry climb in the front seat. The doctor drove them to the hospital, where Harry soon found himself strapped to a table, looking at a Muggle doctor cleaning his wound. It wasn't very deep, and the doctor assured him that he could walk out of the hospital on his own.
The doctor took care of his arm as well, and reset his shoulder. He was glad when the doctor said he had to remain in the hospital for the day and give himself a brief time to heal.
"You're young, so you'll heal pretty fast, but it would be best if you didn't push your leg for a day or two," the nurse explained later as she brought him breakfast. He devoured everything on the plate, despite the awful taste, and then fell asleep.
"Here you go," Bellatrix said, handing over a few bills. The cashier took them, counted the change and gave her a key.
"Have a pleasant stay," she chirruped, but her eyes were already back on the small television installed in her booth.
Bellatrix climbed the stairs to her room and placed the bag of newly purchased clothing on the bed. She picked a number of clothes, a large towel and headed for the shared showers. A few spells made sure that she would be undisturbed while she washed herself.
Refreshed, and far cleaner than she'd felt in a long time, she dressed in Muggle clothing, wrinkling her nose in distaste of the cut of the jeans she had bought. Can't be helped, I guess, she thought, appraising herself in the mirror. The jeans she'd bought were dark blue and seemed tight, but a few stretches assured her that she would be free to move well enough in case of a duel. Wishing for a good pair of robes, she pulled a T-shirt over her head, and a black sweater over that.
Once satisfied with herself, she retreated to her room, and practically ripped apart the container of Muggle food she had purchased. The food was nothing like she was used to, but it was filling, and she found herself drifting to sleep after disposing of the leftovers.