Harry and Co. plan to liberate Belle and his daughter, they get a break and Harry learns of the remaining horcruxes
For the next three days in addition to preparing the troops for their practical assessments, Harry brainstormed with his staff, Sergeant Major Moody, and Hlr. Dumphries. They needed a way into and out of warded caverns, held by hostiles so that they could snatch someone who may or may not be on the up and up. Simple really, like trying to peel a turtle with one's bare hands.
First step, find the caverns.
Second step, develop a floor plan of the caverns.
Third step, sneak in and find the 'someone.'
Forth step, get out and away.
Most important step, don't die.
Steps one and two fell into their laps when they were looking at some recent echo-soundings made by the Ministry of the Interior of caverns in Manchester and the Northwest region of England, along with brochures provided by RSM Moody showing caverns in the same general area. Jose "Kit Carson" Cruz was working out ways to affix a wand to a muggle rife scope for accuracy over a greater distance when he sighted in on the cave and cavern pamphlets.
"Are you a spelunker too?" he asked.
Everyone at the staff table looked quizzically at Jose.
"You enjoy caves?" he clarified.
"Not really, but we need to find one."
"Mama is a squib who works for a mining company, she used to take me along to the sites and I found I liked caves. The feeling that you get when you know that you're the first human being to enter a chamber, ever, is amazing."
"Mister Cruz, what do you know about the caves around Derbyshire?" Harry hoped his voice didn't give a hint of his desperation.
"I've been in all of the caves and caverns in Derbyshire open to the public, and a number that were not."
"Is there a cave with a domed roof made up of crystals, and a formation that looks like a frozen waterfall?"
"That'll be Blue John in Castleton, yeah; I've crawled all over that one, nice limestone formations."
Marietta immediately found the sonar survey of Blue John Cavern and piled the tripartite brochure on top of it for further study. Kim Morris looked hungrily at Jose and asked in a husky voice, "Repple, request permission to kiss Recruit Cruz?"
"If you don't I just might." Harry had to laugh at the horrified expression on Cruz's face at that. "Kidding, Cruz, I'm just kidding, seriously though; you know these caves?"
"Oh yeah, I was there at the beginning of the season in April, I remember because I may have been one of the last to see it before it closed - something about safety concerns, funny though, I know caverns and this one was as stable as any I've ever seen."
Harry and the others shared a significant look.
"It's your call Repple" Smythe said.
"Cruz you just got promoted to staff, you need to be at all our meetings from now on; this is why. . ." Jose received all the information that had been shared up to that point, and then Harry said "I need to see your most recent memories of the place, tell me, have you ever used a pensieve?"
Bellatrix was withdrawn following Jones' last visit. Food and water were lowered down to her and the chamber pot was now self-cleaning. She only ate at all because she didn't want the baby growing within her to suffer. She read 'Camelot in the 19th Century' and enjoyed the complete misinformation concerning all the Arthurian characters, especially Merlin. She found herself mesmerized by the works of Baudelaire, she wept at the breathtaking rightness of it.
She felt the wet pillowcase and composed herself. 'Better let this dry or it may get musty' she thought and shook the pillow out of the case. Even in the dim half-light of the dungeon she saw the thin shimmering cloth fall out with the pillow and the note written on fabric. She whispered 'lumos' and her reading light illuminated the short missive.
My Lady Bellatrix,
I have no hope for a future in this life and will not have to suffer it much longer, I have hope, however, for you and the child you carry. I am enough of a healer to make that diagnosis. I have obtained an invisibility cloak in the hope that you will find a way to make use of it. The reading bookmark is your wand, transfigured to look like a harmless reading light. The moment you cast any spell other than 'lumos' it will revert to form, if you ever get the chance, please thank Professor McGonagall for the transfiguration lessons. You must live My Lady, so that I will not have died in vain. I hope to know you in the next life when we both have a happier reality.
Alex "Healer" Jones
Oddly, Bellatrix felt her sorrow lift upon reading his note. She had mourned for him long enough; her grief transfigured into grim determination. Alex had given her and her daughter a chance for life and she would honor that. To do that she had to get away and find Harry, she knew he was the key to all of this.
She lay on her cot and composed herself trying to strengthen her connection with the father of her baby. She could feel his determination; he had a singleness of purpose driving him to an end, she slipped into a state of semi consciousness and was able to read his surface thoughts. What she saw startled her fully awake. "Oh my Goddess, Merlin, Morgana and Maeve, he's coming for us!"
It was with a great deal of difficulty that she was able to calm herself to the point where she could try to reestablish a good link. He knew were she was, he had a good idea of the layout of the caverns; but how? Ah, she could see the clues she was able to give allowed him to deduce her location. She could see the map through his eyes; there were one or two discrepancies but nothing major. A small structure resembling a cottage at the mouth of the main cavern, nicely done! The steps leading to the main chamber floor, the sloping descent into the lower chamber that now served as the 'throne room.' He drew side passageways leading to what had been her quarters, then farther down into the smaller darker caves, good, good. Now the narrowest tunnel, so that you had to stoop to pass through, then a large opening and the pit. "This is where I am Harry;" she screamed in her own mind "this is my dungeon."
Jose watched in fascination as the Recruit Platoon Leader Evans drew with amazing precision the dimensions of a place he had never visited. "I don't remember that tunnel Repple."
Harry smirked; he had come to realize that many of his insights concerning the location of the chambers and tunnels of Blue John Cavern were coming from Bellatrix. "S'okay, I have intelligence from inside the cavern."
"Apparition and portkeying are out of the question, they'll have wards up for those." Harry felt the confirmation through the link, "Portkeying in is out but out is not out of the question."
Harry felt a rush of warmth over the link that let him know he understood correctly.
"Sorry" Cruz said, "I don't think I understand what you just said."
"We can't portkey in, but there is a place inside the caverns that will permit an outbound portkey."
"If I had a secret base I'd have some back door way out of there in case I was attacked by overwhelming numbers. Voldemort must have set it up to escape" Marietta mused. "It could also be the tip of a salt dome, and certain kinds of magic go wonky around large masses of salt, like transport spells."
"And if there's a backdoor out," Smythe continued the train of thought, "it could be a way in."
"It'll be heavily warded, and probably guarded as well." Harry said, and on seeing the disparaging expressions on the faces of everyone in the room he added, "Hey, just being the devil's advocate here."
"Blue John Cavern has been mined since the Romans were in Britain, there must be shafts leading from outside to various places within to provide some light and ventilation." Jose offered.
"Large enough for a person to enter the caverns?"
"Some would have to be, and there's a better than even chance the death eaters wouldn't even consider them."
"Why is that?"
"Because they're mostly hidden from sight, maybe we can get someone small in there to scope it out for us?"
Harry thought for a moment, then said "I think I may have a friend who can do that. In any case we're going to need some help here, eyes and ears outside the caverns so we can take advantage of any opportunity that arises."
Ten minutes later Sergeant Major Moody came stumping in.
"Can we get covert surveillance on Blue John Cavern in Castleton, Derbyshire?"
"We can" the grizzled old auror said, "and we can get some of our better trained auror candidates to help, call it part of their practical assessment."
"Excellent, as long as they know not to engage the enemy, this has to be completely covert."
"Repple, I'd put most of your platoon and all of your staff in the field today. They are well trained and work seamlessly together."
"Still, none of them have seen real combat yet, I'd rather not push our luck here."
"Fair enough" Moody agreed.
"Ladies and gentlemen, that's it for now. Get some rest we have an early day of it tomorrow."
"Remember we have a mandatory formation in front of the open mess at twenty hundred as well," the Sergeant Major reminded.
Goodnights were offered all around and Harry and Marietta managed to sneak a passionate but all too brief kiss when she suddenly 'remembered' her memo book left by 'accident' on the conference table after everyone else had left.
"That'll have to do, Luv, til' the next liberty weekend." She said apologetically.
He groaned and gave her a tender embrace just before she left.
He performed his nightly ablutions and crawled into his bed and was quickly asleep.
"It's about time you got here" Bellatrix said.
"Are you all right?" Harry asked
"I'm better, I know you are coming for us; I am anxious, though."
"As in hopeful but frightened at the same time, so much can go wrong."
"Doing nothing is not an option."
"I may be able to affect my own escape, please don't be rash."
"I want you and our daughter out of there as soon as possible."
"If you agree I want our daughter to be named Alexis, in honor of the one who has given us a means and a hope of escaping this place."
"I like that name, Alexis it is. May we call her Alexis Lily? Lily was my mother's name."
"There was a time when I called Lily Evans my friend; yes of course Alexis Lily is a lovely name."
Harry was amazed at how knowing his daughter's name made her just that much more real. There is, after all, power in a name.
"Harry, so much can go wrong, can you remember what we 'talk' about, I mean in detail?"
"I remembered enough of our last communication that I was able to record it in a pensieve, I even recalled some of the visuals you passed on to me."
"That would have to be Alexis' doing, she must be strengthening our bond."
"Smart girl, that."
"Harry, Voldemort can be beaten, you can do it."
He didn't need to mention the prophecy, he knew that she knew. He had no secrets from her and that was alright too.
"You know what I need to do this, right?" he asked
"The cup, the locket, the ring, the diary, scabbard and inkwell" she listed.
"I thought Nagini was one."
"Why would Voldemort make a living thing a horcrux? If he did then the death of the snake would mean that piece of his soul would die too."
"I took care of the diary in my second year" Harry said.
"Um, I pierced it cover to cover with the fang of a basilisk."
"Harry, where did you find a basilisk's fang?"
"Pulled it out of my arm after the great dirty snake bit me."
"And how did you survive?"
"Phoenix tears, great birds phoenixes."
"And the basilisk?"
"Killed it with Godric Gryffindor's sword."
"And how did you get the sword?"
"From the same phoenix that gave me his tears."
"I need to hear all about that when we have finished here, that leaves five more."
"Four more, actually."
"Dumbledore got the ring from Little Winging and destroyed it."
"This is getting better and better. Any others?"
"Well, we went to the cave to get the locket. . ."
"But?" she had heard the unstated 'but' there.
"Someone had gotten it first, someone whose initials were R.A.B."
Harry and Bellatrix were quiet across the link for a while, then he felt her make a connection. "Regulus Abraxis Black, it has to be!" she exclaimed aloud. "Dear Cousin Regulus, he died with a smile and now I know why. He had the locket - it must be at Grimmauld Place."
"If it hasn't been nicked."
"If he took it he won't try to sell it quickly, it is a verifiable relic of Salazar Slytherin; he'll want to get the most out of it. Find Fletcher quickly!"
"What are the others, and more importantly, where are the rest of the horcruxes?"
"Helga's Cup is in the Chamber of secrets in a room that is just inside the open mouth of Salazar's statue. The scabbard is for the sword you used to kill the basilisk and it is hiding in plain sight in the headmistresses' office. Rowena's inkwell is likewise in plain sight in the living quarters that were set aside for her; you'll find her rooms next to the headmistresses' office."
"So," Harry said, "the only horcrux still missing is the locket and we know it's either at the old Black estate or in the hands of a petty thief. I'm going to wake up now so that I can record this while it is still fresh in my mind."
"Please do, and hurry back, I would like to share Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal with you."
Harry remembered writing that title down from the last time he has 'spoken' with Bellatrix, "so that's where that came from!"
He shook himself awake, threw on a robe and padded barefoot into the conference room to draw the gossamer memories out of his head and into the pensieve. He returned to his bed and was instantly asleep.
"Welcome back" she said.
"Miss me already?" he jibed.
"As I have been locked away in this pit I have been able to gaze at the world through your eyes, I have to say you are a most impressive young man."
"I guess I have my . . . half a mo' here, how long have you been hanging around in my head?"
"Do you remember the night of the Platoon Party?"
"Yes, and I remember what happened after that too."
"Harry, think about it, it was your first deliberate sexual encounter, did you really think a not quite seventeen year old boy would be that good?"
"I thought I was just remembering stuff I'd read in magazines, y'know, 'What a Woman Really Wants' and all that."
"Most of those articles are written by men, trust me, you did more to cement your reputation as a sex god when you brushed your teeth and shaved the next morning than any of the intimate gymnastics of the night before. And wrapping 'Marie' in the warm towel as she exited the shower guaranteed that she would never be just a one nighter."
"Were any of the things I did my own idea?"
"Most of them, actually, I just worked on your timing, let you know when to start caressing and where and when to move on to the next level. You're an athlete; you know that timing is everything. I just helped you along. Truth be told, I enjoyed it as much as you did."
"How so?" he asked.
"Every time you climaxed, I did too. It's been a most satisfactory bond; I haven't been this sexually active since . . . ever!"
"Belle, may I call you Belle?"
"I would like that very much Harry."
"Are you getting, um . . ."
"Randy, horny, wanton, wet?"
"Now that you mention it, yes."
"What do you do, I mean, do you, um, take care of yourself?"
"I do, fingers are very handy that way, and we girls provide our own lubrication. You on the other hand, oh that's funny, the other hand; which ever hand you use will need something to lubricate it, lotion or emollient or if nothing else, spit."
"Tell me more about what a woman wants . . ."
"We all want tenderness, depth of feeling and yes, commitment. I know that is too much to ask of one so young, but I sense the same need for all of these things in you. You long for a family to cherish. Believe me Harry when I say I will not keep our daughter away from you. I wouldn't even if I could."
". . . wants from a lover."
"Tenderness, seasoned with a healthy helping of vitality - sometimes it's good to just let the animal loose and rut, but afterward tenderness, always tenderness to make us feel that we were being loved; not just used for sex."
"Exactly, now, can you feel what I'm doing?"
Harry could indeed feel a very warm, tingly feeling; similar to the buildup to an orgasm.
"I have enjoyed your pinnacles these past few days, I would like to try to return the favor."
Having 'said' that she concentrated on her center, bringing herself to a state of bliss.
"Did you feel that, Harry?"
"Oh, ye-ah!" he replied aloud.
"Did you know that a woman can climax several times in rapid succession?"
"Let me demonstrate, mon amant et mon amour."
And she did, several times that night.
The purpose of this chapter is to set the stage for Belle's rescue, the game is set, all the pieces are in place.