Harry begins to understand Bellatrix, his new friends begin to understand him
Alex Jones had just finished applying the healing ointment to Bellatrix's scarred body and stood to leave when she grabbed his hand and said "stay a while."
He sat on the edge of the cot holding her hand, giving and taking comfort from the simple contact. They talked; they cried and they held each other. If it would have helped she would have let the gentle healer take her, but he was too overcome with grief at his own imminent passing to even consider her implied offer.
Finally he stood and said in a calm voice, "it's time."
Bellatrix cried herself to sleep while clutching the worn volume of Baudelaire's poetry to her breast.
Harry's mood was troubled that night, he longed for Marietta's comforting presence. He did his evening rounds in a desultory manner, ensuring the sentries were awake and alert before turning in. His dreams were of dungeons and despair and loss and grief. He felt the link in his half conscious state and for the first time realized he could sense surface thoughts from the other end. He could 'hear' Bellatrix.
"Why do you cry?" he asked, not really expecting and answer.
"I grieve for the life of a good man who found himself in an untenable position."
"Who was he?"
"A gentle man, a healer, now I fear he is dead."
"I am surprised that you grieve so."
Bellatrix understood at that moment, with absolute clarity that she could never again be the person she had been. "I am not who you all think I am. I feel, I grieve, I regret. Oh God and Goddess I regret."
"What do you regret most?"
"My cowardice, I lacked the courage or perhaps the depth of feeling my sister had when she married a muggleborn. I accepted the marriage contract with Rodolphus Lestrange and my life has been a nightmare ever since."
Harry began to understand, as Bellatrix had already come to understand that the link, 'no, call it what it is' he thought to himself, 'it's a bond, we are connected on a fundamental level, I know what she's feeling at all times, I know what she's thinking right now; I can even browse her memories.' He had become, by virtue of the bond, a natural legilimens. He could harvest every memory she had and force her to relive them, no matter how demeaning, no matter how damning, no matter how agonizing; but he would not barge into her private thoughts and memories uninvited; he would not become Snape, he would not be a rapist. "Please show me, please help me to understand."
Bellatrix sighed and pulled back the gloomy curtain concealing the collective memories of her existence.
He saw her life before her betrothal; he barely recognized the vivacious young girl full of love for life and her many close friends, most notably her sisters Narcissa and Andromeda. Then it was as if someone had pulled a dark veil over her reality as her 'maiden's blood' was used to seal the contract following her May-December marriage. He recognized, through her own experiences that she was bound by blood to support her husband in all things, to take the dark mark, and to enter Voldemort's service in whatever capacity he demanded. His latest demand was that she be the vessel of the "issue of mine enemy." That had been the beginning of the end of Bellatrix Lestrange. She'd had no free will from the time of her original marriage contract at the age of sixteen until the conception of the miracle within her. She was free for the first time in her adult life. She was desperate to rid herself of the last vestiges of her existence with the late and unlamented Rodolphus and to start a new one with the daughter she already loved more than her own life.
"Where are you?"
"I am in a pit and I am alone."
"No, not alone, I am with you and so is someone else."
"She is not yet aware."
"Yes, I am sure, she."
"What will become of her?"
Harry felt such overwhelming grief communicated over the bond that he feared his heart would shatter. She showed Harry what Voldemort had planned for their baby girl.
"It is another part of his quest for immortality."
In spite of the depth of feeling coming across the link Harry couldn't help but be suspicious, this could be a very elaborate ruse, after all the Dork Tosser has already proven that he knew which of Harry's buttons to push. "I don't know that I can trust you."
"Yes you do, you must; I will give you what you need to defeat him once and for all."
"Can you get away?"
"That is not possible at this time."
"Can you tell me where you are?"
"No, the fidelious prevents me."
"Can you describe where you are?"
"We are in great caverns, there are several levels, and I am in a pit in the lowest level."
"Is there anything distinctive about the caverns you're in?"
"There is a cavern like a large dome made up almost entirely of crystals, and another that looks like a waterfall frozen in place."
"I will see what I can do. Can you give me something in good faith?"
There was a pause in their conversation, as if she were hesitating before jumping off a high precipice.
"What do you know of horcruxes?"
Harry was being shaken awake by a very cheerful Yeoman Edgecombe, "Harry, Harry? Wakey, wakey!"
Harry groaned, is it five-thirty already?
"'Fraid so Luv, rise and shine!"
"I have a better idea, come here!"
She danced out of his reach and said, "Only if you get up and get into uniform."
"Here I thought you preferred me undressed. . ."
"Stop teasing, start dressing, brekkers in five minutes." With that she headed out of the bedroom and into the conference room next door.
As he showered he saw the cascading water from the shower head and thought 'that looks like a waterfall.'
And with that image the entire conversation he'd had with Bellatrix came rushing back.
He flew out of the shower soaking wet and into the conference room naked; dripping water all over the floor.
Marietta looked up from the table and yelped, "Harry, get dressed, you've a staff meeting in five minutes!"
"Pensieve," he gasped out, "quick!"
"I'll get the Sergeant Major's; you get a robe on at least!"
Harry mumbled assent as he was scribbling facts on a parchment with the stub of a pencil.
Crystal dome cavern
Fleurs du Mal
Harry looked puzzled at that but remembered his state of dress or rather the lack thereof and sprinted back into his room to throw on a uniform and robe just as his staff arrived.
"Hey Repple," Smythe called out, "Ya spilled somethin' in here!"
"Be right out, have some tea or coffee" he answered as he exited his sleeping quarters and entered the conference room he saw that his support staff, minus his yeoman, were already nursing hot cups of the beverage of their choice.
"A little help here?" Marietta's voice came from the doorway.
"Couldn't you levitate it?" Harry asked as he rushed to help her carry the heavy stone basin to the table.
"Can't levitate objects infused with this kind of magic, Harry, the spell would go all wonky."
"Oh." He looked thoughtful, then asked "Could you have put it in a box and levitated the box?"
She looked stunned for a moment. "Levitate. The. Box."
She looked at the assembled squad leaders and the Master at Arms; they all looked back and shrugged.
"I don't think anyone's ever tried that." Smythe said.
"Levitate. The. Box." Marietta repeated.
Harry was already pulling the gossamer thread of his latest memory and placing it into the pensieve.
"Is there a box around here somewhere?" Marietta asked.
"Give it a rest Yeoman" Smythe rejoined.
"Marie, Smythe, can we all fit into a pensieve at the same time?"
"We might bump bonces, but we should fit." Marietta replied.
"Let's find out."
With that the three senior personnel went face first into the stone basin.
The three staffers wandered around the semi darkness and caught glimpses of Harry's memory and the occasional image, as though it was projected on a screen, of dark caverns and deep caves.
Smythe was the first to speak, "Derbyshire, they have to be in Derbyshire."
Marietta agreed, "I remember my grammar school took an outing to Derbyshire when I was about nine or ten, it was Castleton, the Treak Cliff Cavern. I couldn't stand it when they turned out the lights to show just how dark it gets in those caves."
"Right," Smythe agreed, "there have to be hundreds of caves and caverns in that area."
"Yes" Harry interjected, but there will be muggle repelling charms and those can be detected, right?"
Marietta nodded in agreement, "they can, but they'll be makin' it easy to find them anyway."
"How's that?" Harry asked.
"They're death eaters ain't they? Find a place that has had a number of missing persons lately and Bellatrix and your sprog will be in the closest cavern of any size."
"Um" Smythe looked a bit uncomfortable, "we have a fair idea where the death eaters are holed up; shouldn't we be tellin' someone?"
Harry thought for a long moment then said "If it were anyone but you lot I wouldn't tell you this, and I don't need to say that what I'm about to say cannot leave this room." Seeing the 'but of course' expressions on his Yeoman and Master at Arms and the four squad leaders who had been waiting patiently for clarification since the pensieve had been wrestled into the room, he continued "there is a prophecy, a real prophecy that says basically that I'm the only one who can kill Voldemort."
"Cor," remarked Squad Leader Morris, "you really are the 'chosen one!'"
"Never doubted it" Smythe rejoined.
"The prophecy doesn't say I will kill him, only that I can; downside is if I don't he can and will kill me. The exact quote is 'neither can live while the other survives.'"
Without realizing it Harry had just cemented his relationship with these soon to be aurors. By showing unconditional trust in them he had earned the life long fealty of everyone in that room. From that moment on they would gladly soak their robes in petrol and follow Harry into Hell if that's what was needed.
Author's note: It's a girl! Well, in the story anyway, it had to be one or the other so I flipped a coin and it came up tails.
The cavern described in this story exists, it's the Blue John Cavern in Derbyshire; it really does have a dome made up of crystals and a frozen waterfall formation, the rest of the details of the location are mostly constructs of my imagination.