This isn't working right so I'm trying for the fifth freakin' time to update this chapter and it's cutting off on me! BLAH!
Black Citadel – Ravenscar – North York Moors
The sound of wet leather cracked through the darkness of the room that was only illuminated by the blood red light that was cast off of the harvest moon. CRACK! The leather had made contact with the unknown form which elicited a moan which could not have been clearly discerned as pleasure or pain. However, the whish sound retreated back and the force of the blow was doubled. Again a crack had been heard in the room and again the wet sound of broken flesh had rebound of the unforgiving concrete walls.
She had been at this, now, for hours. The madness which had been perceived had finally come home to roost and there was nothing that she could do to escape this self-inflicted purgatory. She was damned by her own actions. Her face contorted into an unexplainable expression that could only be described as agony.
The whip had been one of her, own, design. She had spent months on it choosing and enchanting the stones that she had carefully woven into it. It included jagged blood stones, for obvious reasons, and hematite as well, for healing. That was because, after what she had done, she felt the need to suffer.
Crack! The unrelenting and unforgiving leather sounded causing streaks of brilliant white to flash in her eyes. She knew that there would be no forgiveness, not after what she had done to her own cousin. He had egged her on, in battle. She knew this and it had gotten to her as it had when they had been children growing up. It always got to her. He had known this and she knew that he had known this and for the simple niceties of ending this self-imposed argument without the opportunity of an opponent, she ended the circle.
As the leather left her flesh the ravines of torn into her flesh had been instantly healed by the enchantments that had been carefully placed and only the blood flow had been stopped. Death would not take her into the blissful unknown. Death would not be an escape.
She jerked her hand forcibly back and prepared the onslaught of another attack against her flesh, looking at the clock across the room. It had been twelve hours in this routine, now. She had been at this since two in the morning and it was well past mid-day now.
Memories came back to her that she had pushed far into the back of her memory. She faced her memories of her cousin and all the mischief that he would get into when they were little children. Memories that she held onto with a deep reverence because they were what had kept her sane when she was forced to honor a loveless marriage contract. She watched memories that she now looked at with an utter loss at what had happened that fate-filled night in the dark room. An archway that seemed relatively innocent and the battle had been one that had resembled the ones that she and her cousin had partaken in many times in the past.
Crack! The sound of the whip hadn’t been as forgiving this time. She had pain overwhelm her and with that came the unfortunate memory of a consciousness that she had lost so many years ago. It was a consciousness that she had before the cold and the horrid memories prevailed in the years that she had been held captive in far away walls of an unforgiving prison.
That is when her sanity broke the other way, for Bellatrix Black. The remorse that she felt at the loss of a good man named Sirius Black, her most loyal and original friend and family. She cried out to such an extent that the sound of her voice reverberating off of the same unforgiving concrete caused her ears pain. Tears of remorse bridged the very confines of her under-lids and spilt copiously down her cheeks at the memory of a four year old Sirius smile before he embraced her lovingly in a hug that shared more love than she had gotten from her own mother.
“Come on Bella! You can do better than that!” The words that fell from his lips had been his last and the familiar smile of a four year old had melted into the surprise of a thirty year old man which burnt its way forever into her memory.
Bellatrix Black collapsed in the room, not from the obvious exhaustion that her body had found itself in. There was no denying that her self-induced forced attrition had truly worn her down. She was spent. Her spirit had completely broken when she realized that their play; which they had when the two had been children, had ended in a way that hadn’t been pre-determined.
She closed her eyes in the unwilling fainting that exhaustion had brought and saw her reaction to his taunting. She saw that her final loss of innocence had come with the predicted stunner that she had thrown. She watched in horror as the play, the game; that the two competitive cousins had always had ended with a final call as an unconscious Sirius Black had slammed into the wrong curtain.
And then… He was gone and she was left alone. She recalled in her current state that he had sworn that he would never leave her. Years upon years of being less than one-third meter away from each other in the bitter cold cells of Azkaban had brought her a cold comfort.
She recalled his joy and ability to tell stories of a simple and happy boy named Harry Potter and while those stories had been annoying to her initially she had felt the confines of the imperious curse and the bonds of a forced marriage slip as her husband, Rodolphus had slipped slowly towards a hopeless insanity in a cell that had been ten meters away.
Of course, she could hear her husband’s pleas and cries for death to come after less than six months and while she had never loved him, she came to understand the power that he had once had over her. She claimed there before her cousin that she would never allow another person to have so much power.
She had been weak. She realized this now. Should could have been much stronger, proved herself more faith if she could have only been able to force off the Dark Lord’s next Imperius curse. It had proved to be a failure, and she gasped desperately for breath. Once recovered, she sighed in resignation that she had failed, once again.
The pain that wracked her body now was something that she was all too familiar with. She had been placed under the Cruciatus curse more and for much longer than any other sane human being and remained lucid. She had been pushed farther along the path of darkness than any other human however had made only one mistake that she had been made aware.
She recalled the night of the attack on Frank and Alice Longbottom with complete and utter horror, now that she was away, and unfortunately, for the darkest witch that England had ever seen, the tear-flow hadn’t stopped.
Bellatrix stood in the Longbottom home with an infant in her arms. He stared at her completely and utterly transfixed at her appearance. She had looked so determined and willing to make him meat and nothing more, but his innocence had other plans and she was forced to do something that she hadn’t planned. Again, at this time, the Imperius had been broken, and with her wand in hand; a quick stupefy later, he was placed unharmed in a pantry in the kitchen.
During the time of his placement there, the damage had already been done. She looked onto the visage of Frank Longbottom and saw the red foam that had formed in his mouth. Her husband looked completely insanely at her with the demand that she prove her loyalty. There was nothing that could bring the two parents back and she did briefly hold them under the Cruciatus curse before they had departed, if only to hold off suspension.
She looked down at her white knuckled fist that gripped harshly onto the Hungarian-Horntail leather whip. The thoughts of a Harry James Potter, which had looked so very much like her fourth-year boyfriend James, and Sirius’ best friend. The thoughts had been something of consequence, and more importantly those of the conclusion of his second year at Hogwarts.
She watched in slow fascination as the vision of a sixteen year old boy had flame-etched in the air a name, Tom Marvolo Riddle. The next act had re-arranged the flames without dropping any letters. I am Lord Voldemort. She relived this experience nightly, now for the past year.
Bellatrix Black had been very studious when she was in school and before school she had been home-schooled by; not only her mum, but her aunt as well. She had been well aware that there were no pure-blood Riddle families. That was clearly that of Muggle descent, and with that realization she found herself, now where she was.
Within the confines of her concrete self-imposed cell, she mourned her true family, that of a convict that had been placed in prison and kept her company for nearly eleven years before his escape. He probably would have taken her with him, had he the opportunity, she justified.
Alone in the dark, with the warm and sticky-feeling of the congealing blood that she had spilt beneath her she was left with her rational thoughts and with her regrets for her forced actions that had caused her not only the pain that she had felt, but the loss of family. Toujours pur, she thought bitterly.
It had ultimately been her mantra, that which had been forced upon her at such an early age. Always pure, in regards to the inbred blood-lines. When she thought of Sirius she knew that they had been much closer in blood. With cousins marrying cousins, she understood that her only escape from her true-love and in marrying Sirius himself had been in that forced marriage contract with the heir of Lestrange.
Bitterly, she looked towards the corner of the room which had been closed to its only doorway. Rodolphus Lestrange had breathed his last breath and the remains of the once proud man sat slumped, lifeless, in that same corner.
She had spent two and a half days working him over, once that final Imperius curse had worked its way out of her system. Now, his lifeless and dead eyes stared up in complete and utter shock at her betrayal. Images of her life with him had finally come with an utter violence that had not registered into her mind previously.
St. Mungo’s Hospital, the night after her consummation of marriage with the man had left her completely and utterly hopeless that the forced marriage would bear fruit of loins. He had been arrogant and vain in applying two Engorgio charms to his petite manhood, which had unfortunately left her wary of any coupling the, thankfully, homosexual spouse would want to procure. More often than not, she found herself in St. Mungo’s Hospital to recover from a night of sodomy than anything else and while those thoughts had been previously blurred; tonight, she faced them with a clarity she had previous unknown.
The fluid that he left the world in had started to congeal and scab to the floor in the hours that had passed, and a purplish-white color had found his lifeless face now which brought a calmness to her that Bellatrix Black hadn’t known since she had spent those many nights in slumber with her first cousin at Aunt Walburga’s home.
“I miss you, Sirius. Why did you bloody well have to drop your guard?!” She screamed to herself now. She felt betrayed, because as teens they would fight that way and with such a force of fierce competitiveness and only to just to test one another. That is when it hit her. She reflected upon it now with the same certainty as she had when she had taken her own husband’s life. He hadn’t meant her harm. It was just a prank, as always, with him.
The tears crashed harshly now, assaulting her cheeks and all that remained below them at their own honorable locations. He hadn’t meant to hurt her. He never would do such a thing to her and she had ruined it all with her misplaced stunner. There was no healing that would be found this night or any other for her utter display of dark magic, the press would finally relate once it got back to her that Sirius Orion Black had fallen to her own stupidity.
It had been empty promises of glory and of Purity and the promise of freedom from oppression. No longer would they hide in fear from discovery. No longer would they cower in the very idea of being discovered by the Muggles, and ultimately they would rule.
They would rule the world had been a carefully placed lie and while the youthful ideals that she had once held had been a motivation while she had been a teen, once the shimmering future had lost its luster, the requests for dominance had been replaced by orders that were enforced by repeated application of the Cruciatus Curse.
She was alone now. There was nowhere to go back at this point. There was no way that she could explain away what the captured death eater’s had claimed upon her master’s demise. It had been the Imperius Curse, all along, in one way or another and when it hadn’t been that it had been lies and charisma.
She didn’t want this life. There was no appeal for her here in a court of her mindless peers.
As she made her path along the slate tiles beneath her feet she came across the very familiar and long dead crumpled form of Rodolphus Lestrange. She closed her eyes and a soft smile crept across her face as the long forgotten and hidden images of her nightly rape and torture broke free from a ritual of nightly Confundus and Imperius curses.
She lifted her head back and with complete clarity of purpose cackled insanely.
“FREEDOM AND REVENGE!”
London, England – King’s Cross Station
“What say you, Tonks? They are dead, are they not?” Harry asked almost dead himself as he came to the realization just by the look that came to her eyes as he asked the question. She couldn’t only nod.
‘Rather brilliant question there, Potter, are you always this dense or did it take much practice to become that monumentaly naïve?’ The ring indicated and would that it had a face, Harry could quite visually invision a sneer upon it.
Harry stood there, stone still, as the realization hit him. He was alone now, and completely without family. Now, he had no one that could call him blood, but on a much higher note he only had to look forward to the death eaters liable and slander rather than that of Vernon, Petunia and Dudley. The protections that Albus professed and had harshly demanded that he go back to each and every summer to enforce had, in fact, failed. Then it also hit him. He had no where to go. He had no home now. There was no safe place and there was nothing left of what his mum had sacrificed to ensure his livelihood. What was he going to do? His eyes danced in his head at this realization.
‘Quite the hero now, eh, Potter? Buckle up and survive as we all do during times of utter criticism. That’s what differentiates the winners from the losers. The winners survive, the losers are not even a foot-note in history.’ The mental voice of Salazar Slytherin intoned within the confines of his head.
“What the bloody hell are we going to do, Tonks? Where am I to stay?” Harry asked full of worry. The only place that he could think of, well, was unthinkable. It had been a prison to his godfather and just as he was mulling over his thoughts Tonks said without hesitation.
“Grimmauld Place.” She said quietly to ensure that only Harry was the one who could hear her.
“And just how the bloody hell am I going to do that? The Fidelus is broken and has gone away with the Headmaster, and Snivellus knows the location, now. It should be crawling with death eaters or at least they’ll be on the look out waiting around just biding time until we arrive.”
‘Harry Potter, you are sounding like a right fowl coward. Are you sure you should be in Godric’s house, let alone his family? Where is your pride? Where is your courage, now, young Potter?’
‘Where ever has your cunning been? I see no evidence of it, either. You sure you’re not Hufflepuff’s spirit?’ Harry Potter jibed the ghost and was immediately retorted with a barking laugh.
‘Helga was a vicious, VICIOUS, woman and you would do well to remember that. Those that are fiercely loyal put everything into defending what they hold precious, and what’s more, she melted and tasted of honey. NEVER besmirch my love, Potter, EVER!’ Salazar retorted with such venom that Harry hand to stand back and gawk at the ring upon his hand.
“Professor Flitwick has agreed to assist with placing another Fidelus charm on the house. We’ll do it, now, while it’s still daylight and to minimize the potential for attack, as well. It should only take a few moments and then, we’re done.”
“That doesn’t change the one thing about the place that I absolutely loath.” Harry said almost half-heartedly.
“And that is?” Tonks asked almost exasperatedly.
“It’s still a dark and decrepit rat-hole. I don’t want to take the chance that we have a rat. Perhaps, we could have Remus and Hermione work with Professor Flitwick and fashion some other Marauder Maps to be keyed to ‘Identified’ Death Eaters, so that we can ensure that each location is clear.”
‘Potter, you know nothing of what is dark. The Black family was pretentious at best and decided to make poor choices in inbreeding to ensure their family lines. Insane, yes, dark, not hardly.’
“Harry Potter, you are getting about as paranoid as Alastor Moody.” Tonks said with a huge smile.
‘Well, I have this to say about you, Potter. At least there is a voice of reason amongst those you wish to associate with and claim as friends, even if they do not do so in kind.’ The voice of Salazar finished with a quiet that was resounding and spoke as if it knew more from wince the words had come. He did this on purpose, Harry realized and found himself giving in, even though he didn’t wish to do so.
“We’ll it is better to practice his constant vigilance and appear paranoid and alive as compared to the alternative. I don’t want to speak with my parents quite this soon.” He finished rather meekly but with a minor resolution that he hoped that he conveyed and failed miserably at doing so with the effort he half-heartedly put forth.
‘Potter, did I tell you that your little girlfriend has great teets?’ Salazar’s voice inquired innocently enough.
‘What the bloody hell are teets? Harry inquired, equally innoscently.
‘If you have to ask that, I do have to inquire, in kind, what team it is that you’re playing for. Maybe I should remain quiet while you play nice with your more MALE friends, then, eh?’ Salazar asked, really seeming as if the answer that Harry provided was going to bear merit. The rage that Harry felt that had welled up inside him, deeply, was at the point that would completely and utterly overcome him, until he felt something completely foreign to the subject altogether.
Harry felt Luna’s hand squeeze his gently. He felt put upon, and made fun of; from a ring no less and that didn’t’ make him feel any better about the whole nonsense, however he had his resolve and that was saying something. He wouldn’t be put into a place where his resolve in even being defeated from an argument put forth by a ring.
He looked up at her and noticed that she had been looking in another direction. Immediately recognizing the sight of her father, Harry began to immediately feel nervous. He had never been face to face with a girlfriend’s father. Sure he had briefly dated, both, Cho and Ginny, but the latter had been the result of some rather cunning potion use and Cho had ended before it ever began, and that was mostly due to the fact that she was using him to be closer to her dead boyfriend.
This was a new experience that was rapidly approaching at the moment. He knew that Mr. Lionel Lovegood had been a very powerful wizard with deeply held conviction. One of those convictions, Harry knew, was a very deep love of his only Daughter Luna Selene Lovegood. One that Harry now shared with the man. Harry watched with terror in his eyes as the usually jubilant man approached with a steel resolve in his eyes.
Harry’s nerves now were starting to get the better of him. His anticipation of what could come of this very interaction was driving him absolutely barmy on the inside. It honestly could go many different ways and he was hoping for the most optimistic. He still needed to formally ask Luna to date, but wanted to attain the blessing of her father for some noble reason. Each step that Mr. Lovegood made closer towards his daughter reverberated off of the ground and etched its way into his memory and Harry felt his resolve towards an amicable meeting slip. ‘Potter, you’re descended from Godric BLOODY Gryffindor for Merlin’s sake. Try and show some of that legendary courage that he was known for. It’s just your girlfriend’s dad. You’ve faced my heir numerous times and you’re afraid of one whose grip on reality is clearly questionable?’
“Mr. Potter, if it wouldn’t be too much of an imposition, might I have a brief word with you?” Lionel Lovegood said without his trademarked jovial, infectious and wondrous smile.
“Of course, sir.” Harry said, almost nervously. Looking at Luna, he noticed that her eyes had never once left her father never faltering and full of concern for what the conversation would ultimately lead to.
Luna had never had a boyfriend before. Sure, it was completely true that she had been asked out by other boys in Ravenclaw, but it had always been a prank, for which, she just rolled with it, never letting them see the disappointment which she had only ever shared with herself. She had Harry, now, and knew without any doubt that he would love her as long and with as much passion as he had in himself to give to her. She knew that she would love him with equal enthusiasm.
“Mr. Potter, I am well aware of my only daughter’s feelings for you. My only question is whether your feelings are returned towards her. I will not have her hurt. She’s a strong and very smart witch, regardless of what her peers in Ravenclaw seem to think. Sure, she has allowed them a wide berth with the pranks that they’ve played upon her; on occasion, but that in and of it self is what makes her who she is. She’s much like her mum…” Lionel said with all of the passion of the proud papa that he was. Harry saw that and as he went on, he never once let his eyes falter off of the man. A smile steadily spread across his face and Lionel didn’t let that go unnoticed. “Mr. Potter, do you understand where I’m going with this.”
“Mr. Lovegood, yes, I understand exactly where you’re going with it and to be complete forthright with you, my feelings and intentions towards Luna are completely honorable and genuine. She means a great deal to me. She challenges me constantly and for the oddest of reasons brings me peace amidst chaos.” Harry said, letting his eyes falter from Lionel only to look towards Luna’s blue orbs. She was beaming at him, which was infectious and the smile on his face only broadened. “I love her, sir.” ‘Nice solid comeback there. You’re on a roll here. Don’t muck it up!’
“Well, continue to do that. Harry, I’m sorry for the formality of this situation.” He said, with his own broad smile. Harry immediately straightened himself up and took a very serious posture.
“Mr. Lovegood, I would like to request your permission to court your daughter.” He said, nervously.
“I was under the impression that you were doing that already.” He said, very serious indeed. ‘He’s got a point there, and you were doing wondrously until just now!’ Salazar’s voice was dripping with sarcasm.
“But I have yet to gain your formal permission, sir, and that it something that I would very much like to have as I’m sure Luna would like it, as well.”
“Very well then, but mark my words well. Treat her well, or you will have me to deal with, if there’s anything left after she has had her way with you. Now, let’s change the subject. I’ve received a very curious letter from Luna stating that you and she shall be training over summer holiday. You’re more than welcome to stay with us over the holidays.”
“Sir, let’s get back with Auror Tonks. Perhaps after the Fidelus charm is cast, you could join us in a very safe location.” Harry said and motioned for them to rejoin the others.
As Harry looked at Lionel Lovegood he watched the stern and determined man’s grim expression go from that to one of of honesty happiness as he laid his eyes upon his Luna. Seeing the hesitancy in her expression go to the normal dreamy one upon that switch left Harry noticeably less worried and he quickly made his way towards his girlfriend once more.
Their hands shot together and fingers quickly intertwined once more Harry looked towards Tonks again to see a look of wonder in her face before catching her looking at him with the slightest hint of some hidden prank agenda. Harry warned himself mentally that he had to watch her closely as she had spent far too much time with a grim older werewolf whom had a pension towards pranks.
“Well, let’s get on with it, then, shall well?”