Narcissa looked up in surprise to see Bellatrix stumble out of the floo in what was clearly hurried. The look on her face however stopped any attempt by her to tease her sister. She had never in her life seen her sister look so frightened. Out of her two sisters Bellatrix had always been the strongest and the one with the least fear of things that would frighten most people, which included the Dark Lord. Now however things were clearly different, something had actually got to her sister and it made her tremble in fear herself.
“Bella... what is wrong?” she questioned somewhat anxiously.
“We have to leave Cissy and quickly,” Bella responded as she collapsed into a nearby chair and called for a house elf to bring her a glass of whiskey. “I failed the Dark Lord in a mission,” she explained.
“I don’t see why we have to leave because of one failure,” Narcissa responded, still not seeing the problem.
“Before the mission the Dark Lord swore to kill either me or Dolohov should we fail him in front of the others,” she informed her sister as she downed the glass of whiskey in one go. “Unfortunately because of the previous failures of the others he was so angered at the time. He gave a magical vow on this which meant had I returned I would now be dead,” she spat out in obvious anger as she threw the glass at the wall making Narcissa jump as it shattered. “I have never failed him in my life and then for him to do this was…” Bellatrix trailed off unable to voice her feelings. Unable to tell how betrayed she felt after all the years of loyalty and faith even when she had been in Azkaban. “Once he learns I failed and haven’t come back to die he will come for you instead,” Bellatrix said, switching back to her main priority. “We have to leave before he kills us both,” she stated in such a serious tone Narcissa knew her sister was telling her the truth.
This fact made her drop into her own chair in real dread, as the danger she and Bellatrix were in truly sunk in. If they didn’t leave and quickly, they would suffer a very drawn out death she was sure. Only so the Dark Lord could make an example out of them. The fact he had made a magical vow to kill even Bellatrix, his most loyal follower, showed how bad things had become. She cursed Lucius for ever getting involved in the man’s insanity. She even cursed Bella’s husband for getting her sister involved all those years ago. Had it not been for him then maybe her sister would have had a different future instead of one filled with blood and insanity.
“Cissy do you hear me?” Bellatrix demanded as she noticed her sister’s shocked look, which at least meant she understood the danger they were in.
It took a few minutes before Cissy looked up and then she quickly began giving orders to the house elves to pack as much stuff as they could as they were leaving in ten minutes.
“Where do we go?” Narcissa asked as she tried to control her emotions. “The Dark Lord has access to all the Malfoy properties,” she pointed out.
“There must be a Black property we can hide out in for a time,” Bellatrix responded as suitcases of clothes began to appear. “I know Sirius locked down the main manor, but he may have forgotten about some of the smaller ones,” she added, forcing her mind to focus on their plight and not her anger at the situation she found herself in due to the failures of others. “You know how he felt about our family as a whole,” she reminded Cissy who nodded in agreement.
“Why can’t we just leave the country and make a break for it?” Narcissa asked finally giving in to her panic.
“Use your head Cissy,” Bellatrix growled in frustration as her sister began to lose control. “We have no money to get a portkey outside Britain and even if we did we have no money to support ourselves,” she pointed out with as much patience as she could muster. “If we made an illegal one we’d have the Ministry down on our heads in seconds as they monitor for those and the spies of the Dark Lord would be on the lookout as well,” she reminded her sister with a shake of her head as more suitcases arrived. “No we need a small hideout to stay in while we work out a plan of getting out of the country which will give us the best chance to escape with our lives,” she stated before she decided to broach another subject. “What do you want to do about Draco?” she asked in distaste.
“He can’t come with us,” Narcissa said with a sad look in her eyes. “He is far too much like Lucius and will give us away. He already has his head so far up his own arse it is a surprise someone hasn’t killed him already,” she spat as her own anger over her son replaced the panic she felt. “He is already under the Dark Lord’s spell just as much as you and Lucius ever were. He believes the promises he was made by his father so much that he will never think of leaving,” she stated in a hollow tone, knowing there was nothing she could do to save her son now. “Not now, not ever” she hissed, cursing Lucius once more for indoctrinating their son into the Dark Lord’s beliefs.
Bellatrix nodded relieved by her sister’s words because she hated Draco just as much as she had hated Lucius, both were egotistical nobodies with overflated opinions of themselves. It was no wonder the boy had failed in every way against Harry Potter. Potter was everything Draco wanted to be. Potter was a fighter, a survivor and he was willing to do whatever it took to achieve his goals. Draco on the other hand was a coward, a fool and he wasn’t willing to go far in trying to achieve anything. He always ran away when things began to get tough, just like his retched father. Who was one of the main causes for the Dark Lord being so angry that he swore a magical oath to kill her. Had Lucius not died at Potter’s hands then she would have killed him the first chance she got.
Finally an elf reported they had packed everything they could, including what money they could find in the house and her jewelery. Narcissa quickly began thinking of any of the smaller Black properties they could hide out in as did Bellatrix. Time was against them and in the end they headed for the smallest least known Black property they knew, which was a small one bedroom house that had once belonged to their grandfather before he passed away. They just hoped they had been correct about Sirius not bothering to lock the other properties down as he had the done with the main manor. The elves followed the sisters with the luggage as they had been ordered.
(12 Grimmauld Place)
Lily looked up as Xander and the others returned and she noted they were not alone. They had clearly been successful in their mission. Amelia Bones and her niece had both been saved as had Remus and Tonks who had gone to visit her with news of the attack on Harry. The young girl looked to be in shock which was no surprise considering what had just happened. Amelia and a few of the others seemed a little worse for wear as well. She called for Dobby and was not surprised by the Elf’s prompt arrival. Clearly the loyalty this Elf felt for her son was great. That, she mused, might be helpful in the future if any of them lived through the war.
“Dobby will you please wake Madam Pomfrey and alert her we have some more injured people who need to be seen to?” she asked and smiled as the Elf quickly agreed and vanished. “You okay?” Lily inquired, even though she knew it was a stupid question.
“We’re alive so yeah,” Xander said warily as he collapsed into an empty chair. “How is Harry?” he asked as he glanced at the unconscious form of her son.
“We managed to repair the shoulder, but Diggory’s spell made a mess of it,” Lily responded, quickly becoming angry as she recalled the state Harry had been in when he was brought it. “Thanks to Miss Granger’s ideas, we’ve placed metal rods to hold up his shoulder and chest while we vanished the damaged bones and used skelegrow to rebuild them,” she explained and the others could all see she was tired. “It will take time for him to fully heal, but once the new bones have settled we can remove the rods and then we pray his shoulder will hold. He will have some difficulties with his arm and shoulder for a while,” she added with a shake of her head.
“I can’t believe Amos would do this,” Amelia admitted as she and the others settled in various chairs, some conjured by magic as there were not enough for them all. “After his son was killed he never showed any signs of blaming Harry for what happened. I talked to him on the subject a few times and he never showed any signs of hatred or anger towards Harry,” she told them with a frustrated sigh.
“He changed Amelia,” Remus admitted with his own sigh as he ran a hand through his graying hair. “After he joined the Order I noted a change in his stance towards Harry, but at no time did I think he would harm him,” he assured her as Pomfrey arrived and quickly took in the room full of people. “I didn’t know why he began to focus his blame on Harry, but he did,” he finished.
“I can guess why he changed,” Lily stated coldly gaining the attention of Amelia who didn’t recognize the witch at Harry’s bedside. “This has that old fool’s hand-prints all over it,” she informed them confidently.
The hatred in her tone gained more of Amelia’s attention as Pomfrey quickly had Susan take a dreamless sleep potion. She then helped her into one of the other rooms and a bed for a good night’s rest. She quickly returned and began to see to the other wounds the group had acquired, but thankfully none of them had taken any serious wounds. Susan was in the worst shape due to being in shock from her ordeal. After seeing to the others Pomfrey sat down once she had given Harry a quick check.
“May I inquire as to who you are and why you seem to hold such hatred for Albus Dumbledore?” Amelia inquired, deciding to find out who the newcomer was.
“I’m Rose, which is all you need to know,” Lily answered, only giving the older witch a small glance before turning away. “As for my hatred towards Dumbledore,” here Lily paused as she considered what to say. “Well that is my business, but my loyalty to Harry comes before any personal revenge,” she stated calmly.
Amelia frowned at the rather uninformative answer and glanced at the others. Xander was staring off into space with Jenny curled up against him. Faith refused to meet her eyes and concentrated on Tara, who looked just as confused as she felt about Rose. Clearly she wasn’t the only one with questions about this newcomer. Remus she noted looked uncomfortable as did Tonks, which made her suspect there was a lot more to her than she suspected. Even Moody was acting as if this was nothing odd, and considering the man’s almost paranoid nature that told her there was something going on concerning the newcomer.
“I see,” Amelia finally said, deciding not to focus on that now. “How is Susan, Poppy?” she inquired turning to the healer.
“In shock, she also had a few cuts and bruises but nothing major,” Pomfrey answered in a relieved tone. “I suspect being attacked was too much for her,” she stated.
“It was not being attacked that sent her into shock,” Tara spoke up with a dark look in her eyes. “She helped me and Faith bring down one of the Death Eaters. She, like Hermione and the others, had to take a life,” she told them all. “She will need someone to talk to when she wakes up,” she added.
Amelia paled a little as she came to realize why her niece had been sick and upset before leaving the manor. She had thought the attack had finally gotten to her, but this was much worse. Pomfrey let out a curse as she realized the thought of the emotional onslaught to come. Susan would have a difficult couple of days ahead of her as she came to grips with what she had been forced to do.
“She won’t be the last one of the children to be faced with that choice,” Xander stated darkly. “In this war it is either kill or be killed,” he added. “Most would give in to terror at such an attack, but she held out and fought. Amelia you should be proud,” he told her.
“I’m proud of her, more than she could know Xander,” Amelia replied. “And yes she did well to control herself during the attack. I think that was mostly thanks to Harry’s teachings in their secret club,” she continued, relieved Susan had learnt how to fight, but still horrified she’d been forced to take a life.
“What do you mean about Harry’s teachings?” Lily inquired as she glanced back at Amelia.
“The Minister tried to stop the children learning any defensive magic as he was scared Dumbledore was training them to help overthrow him. This was before the Ministry realized Dumbledore and Harry had been telling the truth about Voldemort’s return,” Amelia explained with a sigh. “He sent Umbridge, one of his more obsessive followers, to the school as the new DADA teacher, in time the majority of the school talked Harry into teaching them how to defend themselves instead, as he had the most experience apart from the other teachers,” she went on. “They called themselves originally Dumbledore’s army, a play against the Minister’s fears before renaming themselves the Defense Association or D.A for short,” she paused as she recalled everything Susan had told her about the group. “Harry instructed not just his own year, but people younger and older how to do spells as advanced as the patronus. He also taught them how to act in a fight as best as he could,” she stated.
“Impressive,” Moody grunted in approval. “Of course when the group was found out it forced Dumbledore out of the school and then that bitch Umbridge took over and tried to turn the school into a recruiting ground for the Ministry,” he said taking up the tale. “She failed, and in time was forced out, but she did a lot of damage before she was finally removed,” he went on. “She put McGonagall in the hospital. The damn bitch almost killed her with what she and those Ministry Aurors did,” he spat in real anger. “She was also rumored to have tortured some of the children, although none of them came forward about it,” he finished.
“That is no rumor Alistor,” Remus said, cutting in with a slight glare. “All you need to do is look at Harry’s left hand,” he stated before pausing in horror as he turned to look into Lily’s burning gaze. He gulped as he realized he had given her more things to be angry about where her son was concerned.
Lily gently picked up Harry’s left hand and turned it over and almost growled as she saw the words ‘I will not tell lies’ cut into his hand. There was only one thing that could have made such a marking on his skin that could not be removed, her blood boiled.
“A god damn blood quill,” she spat. “She used a fucking blood quill on them and you did nothing?” she demanded.
“We didn’t know Lily, I swear we didn’t,” Remus shot back in real fear so much so that he slipped up and used her real name, making both Tara and Amelia frown in suspicion. “Harry kept it to himself and Hermione and most likely Ron, it was only after the battle at the Ministry that I found out what he had gone through,” he pressed, shivering at the cold glare directed at him.
“How could you not know?” Lily demanded finally giving into her rage. “The school has multiple wards in place that tell the headmaster when a student is in danger,” she reminded them all.
“Then they haven’t been working very well considering what Harry has been through in his time there,” Remus shot back.
“Or Dumbledore ignored the warnings because it was all part of his plan for Harry, whatever the end goal was,” Tonks said, stepping into the argument hoping to calm things down. “We still need to find the rest of the evidence Sirius collected, remember?” she pointed out before fidgeting a little as Lily finally released Remus from her gaze and turned it on her.
“She’s right about the wards,” Moody growled. “I just never believed Albus would ignore such a blatant attack on someone under his care,” he admitted. “Half the things I know now make me sick. I start to wonder whether I ever really knew the real Albus Dumbledore,” he all but whispered even though the others still heard him.
“I think it is best if we all turn in for now. We are tired and worn out and snapping at each other is not going to do any of us any good,” Jenny cut in, knowing Lily was still angered by all she was learning about Harry and the danger he had been in.
Remus had already slipped up in calling her by her real name and she was sure those who didn’t know the truth had caught it and were wondering why he had called her by another name. They all needed time to relax and recover, tomorrow she was certain would be a long day.
“We have enough beds for you all so please go and get some sleep. We will discuss everything in the morning,” Jenny continued in as calm a voice as she could muster.
“Jenny has a point,” Faith agreed as she let out a yawn. “I’m wasted,” she admitted.
Slowly there was a general agreement and the group began to break up. Pomfrey sent Rose to bed for a few hours as she too looked worn out even though Lily tried to protest. The mediwitch would have none of it and so Lily left. Her anger at learning of more attacks against her son through Dumbledore’s plans still tore through her. One day she swore he would pay, snapping at Remus had been an outlet for her rage that had been slowly building since being woken up and learning all that had happened to her son. But it was not him she wanted to vent at. No, it was the damn old fool. Settling down in her bed she closed her eyes and after a while of angered thoughts slowly fell asleep as did the others.
Dolohov returned to the manor in good spirits knowing that his life would be spared. Fudge was dead and they had scored a victory that was sure to destabilize the enemy’s war effort. Now if Bellatrix had succeeded in her mission then the Ministry would be in a very vulnerable position, one that might be a turning point in this war. The idea of Bellatrix having failed never entered his head. She was the most successful Death Eater, much as it galled him to admit that fact. He entered the Master’s hall and quickly bowed at his feet as did the survivors of his team, then they waited.
“Did you succeed?” Voldemort demanded to know, eager to kill Dolohov for his many failures.
“We have my Lord,” Dolohov answered. The answer shocked Voldemort who had expected another failure. “The Minister is dead as are his bodyguards,” he stated.
Voldemort stared at Dolohov in frank surprise before he quickly recovered and glared the man in the eyes and savagely thrust into his mind with his Legilimency.
Dolohov screamed as his mind was invaded. He collapsed to the ground and writhed on the ground, even after Voldemort pulled out he jerked around as the pain remained.
“Well done Dolohov,” Voldemort mused on what he had seen. “It is good to know you still have uses,” he added with a cruel smirk as Dolohov began to recover from his assault. “You and your men may retire and rest. I’m pleased for now,” he ordered.
“Thank you Master, you are too kind,” Dolohov responded and bowed as best he could before he led his men out of the chamber.
“Rodolphus take your brother and a squad and find out what is keeping Bellatrix,” Voldemort ordered while turning to Bellatrix’s husband with a glare. “I expected her back before that fool Dolohov,” he spat.
“Yes Master,” Rodolphus agreed with a bow. He too was puzzled that Dolohov had beaten his wife back to headquarters.
His wife was a mass of wanton destruction, the best warrior in the Death Eaters. It was one of things that had attracted him to her before he married her, her fervor and eagerness to learn new things were a great attraction. He had in a sense corrupted her with the dark magic he had taught her once their families had decided they could marry. She was vastly different than the girl he had first met in Hogwarts. Back then she had been much like her annoying sister Narcissa, but he had quickly made her realize books and deep thought meant nothing in the grand schemes of things.
Slowly she had changed and become the insane witch she was now known to be, eager to punish, to torture and to kill all in the name of their Lord and Master. He was proud that she was his wife. He gathered his brother and three others and then quickly headed outside with a portkey to just outside the Bones manor.
As soon as they arrived they knew something was wrong, there was no dark mark over the house and it was quiet outside with no sounds of battle. He ordered his men to spread out and find Bellatrix and her team.
“I’ve found two of the team that went with her,” Rabastan reported after a few minutes. “Both dead,” he snapped.
“Head for the manor,” Rodolphus ordered as another of the team was found dead closer to the manor. “I don’t like this. Bellatrix could not have lost,” he sneered.
Rabastan glanced at his brother and had to agree, Bellatrix had never been beaten in her life, except for the day they were captured by the Ministry after they had tortured the Longbottoms into insanity. Even then the only reason they were captured was because they had been caught unaware of the Ministry’s approach, thanks to Crouch Jr. failing to keep an eye out as he had been ordered. No the idiot had been far too interested in seeing the Longbottom’s being tortured, still their own fault as well for getting lost in the pain they were causing. Even after fourteen years of imprisonment Bellatrix was the most dangerous of the Dark Lord’s followers.
Entering the manor the whole group paused as they saw that the rest of his wife’s team was laid out in the manor, they were all clearly dead. But there was no sign what so ever of his wife. He ordered his men to search the manor he waited near the door for any news. It was not love that made him worry for her life, no it was pride in how her actions reflected on him. His status among the Death Eaters had grown thanks to his wife. If she was dead or had failed then his status might fall because of it.
“There is no sign of Bellatrix,” Rabastan reported as he and the others returned to him. “Either she was captured or she fled once the mission failed,” he added with a careless shrug. “The Master did swear a magical oath to kill her if she failed,” he reminded his brother. “There is no sign of Bones or her niece and so I assume the mission failed, our team is dead and Bellatrix is missing,” he pointed out.
“Bellatrix would not run, she would meet her end as our Master ordered,” Rodolphus growled in response. “She must have been captured. Bones must have had more help than was expected,” he mused rubbing his bearded chin.
Rabastan was not so convinced of any of what his brother had said, but he kept quiet, the idea of Bellatrix running was somewhat absurd. Still would any of them really return if they knew the only thing waiting for them was death at the hands of their own Master? It was a question he could find no real answer to, as he knew if they ran and were captured their deaths would be all the more painful and drawn out.
“Leave the dead and let us return to the Master,” Rodolphus commanded finally. There was nothing else they could do here and the Master would want to know what they had found.
Voldemort sat waiting on his throne for the Lestrange brothers to return with news of Bella’s mission to kill Amelia Bones and her niece. He was uneasy at the idea of the thought she might actually have failed. She was his most loyal minion and the most successful of his followers, if he killed her which he would have too because of that foolish magical vow he had made then he would lose a valuable tool. He felt that Bellatrix would be vital in the war effort, but he had boxed himself in and he cursed himself inwardly for it. Finally the team returned, something in Rabastan’s eyes made him feel he would not like what he was about to hear.
“My lord it seems my wife’s team failed in their mission as we found all their bodies in and around the manor, they were all dead,” Rodolphus reported as they both bowed before Voldemort. “There was no sign of Bones or her niece and we assume they escaped due to outside help we did not anticipate in the attack plan,” he added.
“And what happened to Bellatrix?” Voldemort demanded to know, his tone one of anger. “Why is she not here with you to explain her failure and to meet her end at my wand,” he added.
“I believe my wife was captured,” Rodolphus answered as calmly as he could. “She was not at the Bones manor and no sign of her being killed was found. I’m certain she wouldn’t run from her fate Master if she did fail you,” he continued, knowing he was taking a risk saying all this. “She would find it fitting to die by your hand, someone she respected and loved above all others,” he stated.
“And what do you believe Rabastan?” Voldemort inquired turning to the other Lestrange brother.
“I believe she has run my Lord. If she has failed you, I just can’t see her coming back to die,” Rabastan admitted with a shake of his head and ignoring the angry glare his brother shot him as he spoke. “She is a survivor. If there is one thing I know about my sister in law, it is that she will not die for as long as she can hold on to life,” he stated. “However even saying that I believe there is a possibility that Bellatrix was captured if Bones and her niece had help and managed to subdue her,” he speculated. “She would be a valuable prisoner with much information about our plans,” he pointed out.
Voldemort nodded in agreement and was pleased to have an honest opinion from Rabastan on Bellatrix’s actions. He too was convinced that the woman was a survivor. But if she had run then she had defied him and had to be punished once she was caught and if she couldn’t be found then Narcissa would pay the price.
“Find Wormtail and send him to the Ministry in his rat form to see if they have captured her Rabastan,” Voldemort ordered. “Rodolphus I want you and Selwyn to go and find Narcissa and bring her back here to me. If you can’t find her then find me Draco and bring him before me,” he added turning back to Rodolphus.
“As you command my Lord,” Rodolphus replied with a bow before storming out of the hall, angered by what his brother had told the Dark Lord. He would deal with Rabastan later on, for now he had orders to carry out.
(12 Grimmauld Place)
The next day found Lily once more watching over Harry alongside a silent Fleur, Hermione, Jenny and Pomfrey. Each was hoping Harry would wake up soon so they could see how he was doing. Pomfrey had already been pleased to see the bones had started to knit together well. Fawkes kept watch over his new charge as well, for most of the night he had helped keep Harry sleeping comfortably with his singing. Amelia had left for the Ministry along with Kingsley, Tonks and Moody to make a report about the attack on her home. Susan was still very upset and had asked for Hannah Abbott and her family to be brought by for a visit so she could talk to them. Surprisingly Xander had agreed to this and had left with Tara, Jenny and Remus to collect them, the others in the house sat and waited for news about Harry.