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. It's all Jo's, folks.
A/N: Many thanks to Konrad and LunaMoon224 for the awesome beta work they did (and still do) on this story. Very much appreciated, guys. As always, reviews are graciously accepted, and usually answered.
Bellatrix passed from sleep to full wakefulness in an instant; a quick check proved that she had slept for almost twenty-four hours. She quickly got out of bed and dressed, smiling in satisfaction as she placed Harry's wand in a Transfigured bag. She didn't know why she kept it whole, instead of breaking it. When Harry had broken hers, she had wanted to rip him to pieces. Now, she found herself considering returning it. She stopped as that occurred to her. Why would she want to do that? After a few seconds of contemplation, she didn't have an answer.
Shrugging those thoughts away, she made her way to the reception and asked for directions to the nearest train station, so she could take the train to Belfast. The receptionist cheerfully pointed the right way, but also notified her that she had missed the morning train, and the next train was in the late evening. Bellatrix stalked away from the motel muttering curses.
Finding the train station was easy since the city wasn't very big, and all of the more traveled streets eventually reached it. It was a large brick building, with a plaque proclaiming it to be the Whitehead Train Station. She checked the train schedule, and found no trains that led to Belfast. A helpful employee informed her that she could get to Belfast by taking the train to Larne, waiting two hours for another train there, head to Ballyclare, and from there go to Antrim, which was a larger city and had connections with Belfast on an hourly basis.
Bellatrix glared at him and stalked out, barely restraining herself from cursing the dumb oaf. She spotted a pair of teenagers ambling their way down the street and headed towards them.
"Where can I find a pub?" she snapped as soon as they noticed her.
The two boys glanced at each other and pointed down the street. Bellatrix looked that way and saw a large four-leaf clover sign. She mumbled thanks and hurried towards it. The inside was dark, and it was empty, save for a bored barman. A radio in the corner made a low buzzing sound, interposed with bits of words and music.
She flung a conjured note on the bar. "A glass of your strongest alcohol, please."
The man put down the rag and glass he had been rubbing together and reached under the bar, taking out a clean glass. He filled it with a clear liquid and dropped half of a lemon slice in it before pushing it towards her. Bellatrix didn't waste any time and chugged it down, motioning for a refill before moving to a table in the corner opposite the radio.
She felt the alcohol burning in her belly, and looked at the beverage in her glass. Muggle drinks had a way of sneaking up on you, and she had no intention of getting drunk. Not while she was in the same city as Harry. She started slightly at that. Was she certain he was in the city? As she remembered the events of the night, she was positive that he was in the city. There was no other place he could go to, and he couldn't Apparate back to England. Overseas Apparition was not possible.
After staring at the glass for a few minutes, she heard the barman approaching her table; she looked at him sharply, one hand reaching for her wand.
The man stopped abruptly at her motion, and held out a plate. "Breakfast," he said at her inquisitive gaze. She nodded at him and he set the plate on her table, hurrying back to the bar after that. Bellatrix surreptitiously checked the plate for spells and potions. Satisfied that it was as clear as it could be, she started eating.
It was a filling food, if not particularly good. She ate slowly, planning her actions for the day. She could wait until the train left, preferably out of the way, so she wouldn't be spotted by any Death Eaters her former master would send this way. Harry was in town as well, so avoiding him would be a good choice too.
She had his wand, but he had proved himself to be a resourceful wizard, and she didn't want to give him any chance to put said resourcefulness into use. Sipping from time to time from her drink, Bellatrix relaxed in her chair, wishing time could pass faster. She had a long wait ahead of her.
Harry slowly blinked his eyes open, taking in his blurred surroundings. He reached for his glasses automatically, and found them on the nightstand next to the hospital bed he was in. Once he was able to see, he looked around the room. The walls were white, and the floor was tiled. Easier to wash/, he thought, wincing as his feet touched the floor. /Cold, too.
He quickly spotted a change of clothes at the foot of his bed and dressed, happy not to need any assistance to put on his pants. His leg was stiff, but the cut didn't hurt, and he hoped that in a few days he'd have full mobility again. /Of course, if I had my wand, I would be healed in a minute, /he thought grumpily, missing the familiar feeling of having his wand near him.
After he was dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a white T-shirt that was a size too big on him, he cautiously made his way to the door, opening it right as a nurse was entering.
"Good morning, Mr..." she greeted, motioning him back to his bed. He followed her and sat on the bed while she took a seat on a chair next to the bed.
"Potter. My name is Harry Potter," he said, seeing no reason to hide his identity from her. He would be gone from the city as soon as he found Bellatrix and retrieved his wand.
The nurse asked him some questions, easily accepting his story on how he had gotten hurt while climbing a tree. After filling some paperwork and paying for his stay in the hospital, Harry made his way to the lobby, where he met the doctor who had brought him in.
"Good morning," the doctor greeted cheerfully. "Feeling better?"
Harry nodded, grinning at the doctor. "Yes sir, thank you for driving me here yesterday."
The man clapped him on the shoulder. "You needed help. It would have been against my oath not to help you," he replied, smiling at Harry. A buzz sounded from his pocket and his face fell. "I'm sorry, but duty calls."
Harry nodded, shaking the man's hand. "I understand, sir. Thanks again."
A few minutes later, Harry walked out of the hospital, wincing at the mid-morning sun. The nurse had told him that he had been sedated, to stop him from moving in his sleep and disturb the bandage on his leg. As a result, he was feeling well rested, especially after the hectic day he'd had. He pondered the events of the previous two days as he made his way through the small city, until a rumble from the lower regions of his stomach interrupted him.
At a loss, he walked through the city, feeling ore and more hungry, and regretful that he'd refused the hospital food when the nurse had offered him breakfast. Eventually, he spotted a large four-clover sign, and quickly rushed inside, hoping that they served food as well.
The pub was dark, and it took his eyes a few minutes to adjust properly. By that time, he was seated at a table, eating a double-sized breakfast while tuning out the buzz of the broken radio in a corner. He finished the meal quickly, chasing the last bite with a glass of orange juice.
Finally sated, he leaned back in his chair and took the time to look around the room. He was sitting almost in the middle of the room, his back to the broken radio. To his left, there was the bar, with the exit on the other side. Straight in front of him, there was the only other occupied room in the pub. The dim lighting didn't allow him to see who it was, and he shrugged it off, returning to his juice as he thought about his plans for the day.
He needed his wand. It was of utmost importance that he got it back, no matter the cost. If he didn't have a wand, he was helpless if he was attacked again. But where could Bellatrix be? I bet she's already out of the city/, he thought. /
He walked to the bar to ask the barman how he could find a way out of the city, a train or bus, when the woman seated at the table in the corner called for another drink. She had her head down, and didn't seem to have been looking at the bar, staring fixedly at her glass, now empty.
"Now, Madam, I believe it's a bit early for-" the barman began, rolling his eyes at Harry.
But Harry wasn't listening. He had recognized the voice, and couldn't believe his luck. Stepping quickly, he sat in the chair opposite Bellatrix. "Make it two," he called.
Bellatrix's head snapped up and she looked at him in surprise. "Potter," she greeted with a slight nod, even as under the table, she was pointing a wand at him.
"Lestrange," he replied.
"Black," she snapped. At his curios look, she went on, "I am certain that by now, Rodolphus has removed all trace of any link between us, and he has disowned me, because I shamed his name," she explained, the last words in a dry tone.
Careful to keep his hands in sight, Harry paid for the drinks when the barman brought them, and took a cautious sip from his glass, grimacing at the burning sensation. With one hand under the table, Bellatrix sipped from her own drink, eying him carefully. They sat in silence for a few minutes, each waiting for the other to speak. Finally, Bellatrix brought both her hands to rest on the table. Harry raised an eyebrow at her.
"If I wanted to kill you, you'd be rotting in a field right now," she said, shrugging. He nodded, accepting the truth of her words.
"Why are you here, Potter?" Bellatrix asked after a few moments when it was obvious that Harry wasn't going to say anything.
"Trying to get a life of my own," he replied, his face darkening at the memories of the reason he'd ran away. He didn't notice the surprised expression on Bellatrix's face as he said that.
"Potter, I'm not a mind reader. Be more specific," she snapped. The mind reader bit was a lie, but he was far better than she was at Occlumency, so it wouldn't work.
"Why are you here?" he countered, his tone clearly saying that he wasn't going to give her more details.
"Running for my life," she said, carefully studying the liquid in her glass. After a few moments of silence from Harry's part, she put the glass down and looked at him. "Thanks to you, Potter, the Dark Lord considers me useless, and has ordered that I have to be killed."
Harry's face showed his surprise, mixed with satisfaction. "Why are you still alive, then?" he asked, his tone harder. For a minute, he thought that Bellatrix hadn't heard him, but then she spoke.
"For years I was his most faithful servant. I was the best he had, and then he just threw me away, like a useless rag. His best servant!" She was gripping her glass so tight that Harry thought it would shatter in her hands.
"If it helps any, I'm sorry," he said after she calmed down. At her incredulous look, he explained, "If I had known that this would happen during that battle at the Ministry, I would have killed you then. That way, you wouldn't have to face this."
She stared at him in stupefaction for a few seconds before bursting into laughter tinged with a bit of hysteria. He smirked and sipped from his glass while she got her amusement under control. When that happened, she just looked at him for a few seconds, taking in his stance - relaxed, but ready to act in an instant. She nodded as if to herself, and reached in her pack, throwing something at him over the table.
Rusty Seeker reflexes kicked in and Harry snatched his wand from the air. An instant later he was pointing it at Bellatrix. She simply aimed a downward look, and he saw that she had a wand on him too.
"I hate you, Potter," Bellatrix said. "You destroyed my life, and now I'm running from my former master and friends, as well as that stupid Order, and I'm a fugitive in the Ministry's eyes as well." She stared at him as if challenging him to dispute anything she'd said.
Instead, he nodded slightly at her and put his wand in his back pocket. "I hate you too, Black," he replied. "You killed my godfather, not to mention all the atrocities you've committed while in service of Voldemort." He smirked as she let out a slight hiss at the sound of the name.
She considered cursing him, but gave up on the idea. He was obviously not going to start a fight with her now. Why should he, she thought. /I'm not his enemy anymore. /She said as much to him, and was surprised when he agreed.
"We both want to get away from this place, and I don't fancy having to dodge you as well as the Order and the Death Eaters," Harry said.
She nodded at his words. It made sense. She was more than capable to fight her way out of a situation, but he was just as, if not more powerful than her, and fighting him wouldn't be productive. "So... a truce?" she asked distrustfully.
He shook his head. "No. An agreement. I stay out of your way, and you stay out of mine. I will get out of here with the first train, and hopefully we'll never meet again."
She turned the idea around in her head for a few minutes, taking a few sips of the drink. It was a good idea, but she had a bad feeling about it. "What happens if there is an attack and we're in the middle of it again?" she asked.
Harry opened his mouth as if to protest the possibility of that happening, but her pointed look made him shut up. So far, they had been attacked several times, and usually they'd each fought back. He shrugged. "We fight back, and then go our separate ways," he said.
"No matter what?" she pressed. "Even if somebody gets killed in the attack? What if I kill Weasley?"
Harry's' eyes hardened. "We go our separate ways," he said, emptying his glass in one go and holding it up for the barman to refill it. While the man was doing that, Bellatrix studied Harry. What had they done to make him feel like that? She didn't want to risk asking him, so she kept silent.
Half an hour later, Harry stood. "Bellatrix, I hope I never see you again. Have a good life," he said before leaving. She called a goodbye back of her own, and then he was gone, hopefully for good.
Bellatrix swore as she ran a few steps and jumped on the step leading into the already moving train car. She clung tightly to the door, eventually pulling herself inside with a mighty heave. She swung the door shut behind her, leaning against the wall, wishing she had remembered not to drink too much alcohol.
After a few minutes, she started walking through the car, seeking a free compartment where she could ward herself and sleep off the alcohol. The first three were all occupied and for a moment, she thought the fourth was as well, but it looked empty. She tried the door, and when it wouldn't budge, she waved her wand, casting a silent /Alohomora/. The door glided open, and she was faced with the business end of Harry's wand.
"Oh," she said, turning to go. He grunted and pulled the door closed. A squelching sound informed her that he had locked it again. She shrugged and moved on, finally finding an empty compartment at the other end of the train. She set it as Harry had, with a locking charm and an illusion on the door. She set an alarm to wake her in four hours, and stretched on the seat, asleep in minutes.
Harry groaned and stretched, blinking when his feet touched the compartment wall. A low rumble and the vibration in the walls told him that the train was still moving. Can't be much longer, he thought, checking his watch. Nodding to himself, he quickly returned the compartment to its original state, and stepped outside, heading for the car exit. He wanted to be off the train quickly, and find the airport so he could leave the country. He didn't know where exactly he wanted to go, but he wanted to leave.
Perhaps Africa? he thought wryly, adjusting the strap of his pack on his shoulder. He flexed his injured leg a bit, thankful that he had taken the time to learn healing spells. The first thing he'd done after leaving the bar was to find a quiet alley and heal himself.
A few minutes later the train stopped in the large, modern Belfast train station. He climbed off and headed for the exit, joining the shortest queue. It seemed strange to him that there should be a queue for leaving a train-station, but he was too lost in his thoughts to pay attention to what everybody around him was saying.
However, when he caught the word "Ministry" his head snapped up and he looked ahead of him. The queue was very short at this point, and there were only a few people ahead of him. A young officer waved a slim device over the man waiting to leave and the nodded at the man.
Harry watched as the process repeated, getting increasingly worried. What where those devices? He fixed his eyes on the officer, and caught his eyes, extending his Legilimency probe. A second later he was ejected by powerful Occlumency shields and stepped back.
"Stop that man!" the officer bellowed, pointing at Harry, who froze for a moment, before taking off. He heard people shouting in panic as he pushed his way through the crowds, going back to the trains, hoping to follow one of the tracks away from his current location.
When he got there however, he was stopped by a couple of Muggle policemen who pointed their guns at him.
"Hands up, lad!" one of them called.
Harry sighed, turning slightly and raising one hand while reaching for the wand with the other. He needn't have bothered, because the next moment, a bright red beam took out one of the officers, which distracted the other. A moment later, the other was Stunned as well.
Harry ran towards the train, ducking under it and crawling until he was on the other side. Once there, he started running towards the end of the train. He heard footsteps on the other side for a few moments, and then a spell he didn't understand, followed by a body flying over the train and landing heavily in front of him.
He stopped short with a curse halfway spoken and ran over to the groaning Bellatrix. He helped her stand. "Can you walk?" he asked quickly. She nodded, casting a few spells at her ankle. Once the blue light from her last spell faded, she grabbed his arm and dragged him on.
After nothing happened for almost ten minutes, they thought they were free. By this time, they were long out of the train station, and were about to leave the train tracks at the point where they entered the city. Just as they were about to do that, however, a spell hit the ground next to Harry, spraying them with dirt.
"By Order of the British Ministry Of Magic, you are to surrender your wands and come with us," a voice called.
Bellatrix yelled a very insulting phrase back, causing Harry to chuckle. Another spell came at them, and Harry deflected it while Bellatrix shot several spells in the direction of the caster. A yell of pain marked her hit as an Invisibility cloak fell from a figure dressed in Auror robes.
"Harry Potter, you are hereby under arrest. Surrender your wand and come with us to the Ministry for your trial," the voice said. "Bellatrix Black, you are under arrest. Surrender your wand and come with us to the Ministry for your trial."
"Bollocks to that," Bellatrix yelled; as she turned in a circle, shooting Reductor curses at every spot Aurors could be hiding.
"Bellatrix Black and Harry Potter, due to resisting arrest, I have no choice but to obey my orders," the same voice said, this time with an odd tinge in it. "Aurors, take them."