Disclaimer: Please let it be noted that this story was written just for my own personal amusement and, if I'm very lucky, a fair few other people as well. No form of tangible profit is being made from this story and I lay no claim on any characters, setting, etc. that are the work of either the 'Harry Potter' franchise and/or of the 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' franchise.
AN: Alrighty my dear readers here be another hammered out bit of my imagination for you! And even though this one is still not all that perfect and the concepts behind it are a bit over used, I have to say that I'm actually somewhat proud of it. I actually started this one right about the time I started 'Back to the Blacks' (a story that needs a bit of rewriting if I want to be honest) and I am just NOW happy enough with it to role it out to all of you who have chosen to read my work. And to think it started out as a simple snippet that, well, just kind of grew on me until I ended up with this... Anyway, here's to hoping you all enjoy it!
AN: As always please don't expect perfection otherwise you'll probably just be a bit disappointed.
As Voldermort looked around at the sheer destruction that his main base of operations had suffered and at the dead bodies of many of his most loyal followers he couldn’t help thinking about just how wrong everything had gone. And considering just how fast everything had happened he, the Dark Lord Voldemort, hadn’t been able to prepare a proper counter attack/defense before it was all said and done. Priceless collections of dark artifacts, knowledge, and potion supplies had been destroyed in the onslaught along with all but the most-well-kept of his blackmail materials. And then he looked down at the severed head at his feet and couldn’t help the dark chuckle that escaped his snake like visage. Oh yes, he’d have to keep an eye on this particular opponent because he knew that in some ways even the great Albus Dumbledore was nowhere near the threat that ^that^ particular young man was…
10 minutes earlier:
“I’ve come for Bellatrix.” The younger man standing in front of the Dark Lord stated coldly as the explosives he’d planted throughout Voldemort’s compound over the last day and a half kept going off further into said complex. Despite himself Voldemort couldn’t help but be impressed with the sheer gall the young man before him was showing.
“How DARE you speak to the Dark Lord like that you filth!” Lucius hissed from his lord’s side (slightly behind said lord of course). For his part the young man only briefly shifted his eyes to Voldemort’s chief financial backer before he merely raised a muggle hand gun and said,
Then Lucius Malfoy was howling in agony from his new place on the stone floor as he clutched his now destroyed knee. Quickly disregarding his wounded follower Voldermort couldn’t help the smirk that lit up his serpentine face as he said,
“I must say my boy, I’m very impressed. It really is too bad you’re a muggle though, or I might just have been tempted to offer you a place amongst us here.” The so called ‘boy’ for his part didn’t respond to his round about compliment, instead he just stared back at the Dark Lord with the same cold eyes that held more than a hint of steel in their brown depths. Steel that promised that this particular young man would be more than willing to do what was needed no matter the circumstances. And he didn’t even flinch as Voldemort raised his wand and intoned a calm, almost negligent, ‘Avada Kedavra’.
Needless to say the snake faced man was flat out shocked (even if he didn’t physically show it) when the green spell hit the young man with no visible effect what so ever. Not even a damn twitch, huh… Then he tried to banish the young man’s weapons and that didn’t work either. So while on the outside Voldemort was as calm as could be, on the inside he had been practically struck dumb. Facing someone like this particular young man had not been what he was expecting when he woke up this morning. Yet again, huh…
While it must be said that Voldemort in his own way was a master of using magic for the purpose of causing death and destruction he had honestly never come across anything that made magic, especially magic that was as potent as his own, completely ineffective. So for the first time in his life Voldemort would have to say that he was well and truly stumped. And while normally he wouldn’t be one to give up trying after just one little killing curse he couldn’t deny the nagging little voice in the back of his mind that was suggesting that maybe, just maybe, he should just let the boy have his prize so that he would hurry up and leave. Realizing that such an action would be the most expedient way to get rid of this complete unknown, but unwilling to give up ^anything^ when it could be avoided Voldemort decided that he would try another tact first. But before he could open his mouth to speak he found himself interrupted with,
“I think you should know, before either of us goes any further, that your abilities won’t work on me.” The mystery man said, his tone having not changed since the two of them were first ‘introduced’ mere moments ago, Lucius in that time having gone from screaming in pain to merely groaning as he lost more and more of his own blood. “Now I’m going to say it again. I’ve come for Bellatrix. So are you going to tell me where she is so I can go ahead, get her, and then get the hell out of here? Or is this going to end up getting messy?” At this the Dark Lord could only smile again at the younger man’s sheer gall before he replied with more than a little sardonic humor laced in his voice,
“You do know that our dear Bellatrix is married don’t you boy? And I don’t think you’d want to tangle with her husband either. If memory serves he can be very… Possessive.” Yet again not even a twitch before the boy opened a sack that he had brought in with him. Then there was a wet thud and something rolled out of the bag his opponent had been holding before stopping at Voldemort’s feet.
“Not any more... As you can see I’ve already taken care of that little issue.” Looking down Voldemort saw the dismembered head of Rodolphus Lestrange looking up at him, the silent scream of terror still clearly painted on his features. Apparently this young man hadn’t been all that gentle when he’d killed the downed Death Eater. Oh well, no big loss really. In the Wizarding World pureblood sycophants were a ‘sickle a dozen’ after all.
“Very well.” Was all Voldemort said after a moment with a slightly appreciative chuckle for the complete and utter brutality this boy was showing, before mentally shrugging his shoulders and giving the person in front of him directions to where his former number one follower was being held. He didn’t even bother trying to lie because in all honesty Bellatrix was of no more use to him, and he found himself not wanting this young man coming back and quite possibly causing even MORE damage to get his way. And truth be told Voldemort had enough to contend with as it was (What with both Dumbledore and the Potter brat being a constant thorn in his side.) to worry too much about what happened to a single traitor, even if he had once considered her to be one of his most loyal supporters. But even though the younger man before him had somehow ended up laying waste to who knows how much of his headquarters the man once known as Tom Riddle couldn’t help the small spark of curiosity that had sprung forth during their encounter and so couldn’t help it as he found himself asking,
“What is your name boy?”
“Alexander…” Was all the mystery man said after a few quiet moments (Lucius by now had lost enough blood that he barely had the strength to keep breathing, let alone moaning. Not that his master really cared of course but still.) and Voldemort could only chuckle at the irony the universe seemed to love so much. He found it strangely fitting that someone like the person who’s back was mostly turned to him, someone who had single handedly struck the largest and fastest blow to his personal forces EVER, had a name that meant ‘Guardian of Man’ of all things.
And so it was that after a few more moments of silence between the two that Alexander gave Voldemort a brief nod of what could have even been respect before spinning in place on his heel and walking back towards the way he’d come. And for a moment it looked like said young man would merely walk out of Voldemort’s throne room without another word, but he stopped right at the main entrance and without turning around said, “Oh, and I think you should know that I’m only here for Bellatrix, nothing else. As a rule I don’t give a good god damn about what happens to you and your little world. I really don’t. So as long as you leave me and mine alone you shouldn’t ever see me again…” Then there was another pregnant pause, the ensuing silence lying heavily between a Dark Lord and a Destructive Stranger. “Let’s hope we don’t have to do this again. It’s a bit of a pain in the ass.” And with that Alexander finished walking out, bloody footprints from where he’d been stepping over the bodies of many of Lord Voldemort’s followers being left behind in his wake on the now crumbling marble floor of the Dark Lord’s throne room.
A few moments after Alexander’s departure, when the self-appointed Dark Lord could no longer hear the sound of fading boot steps, Voldemort forced the enigma that was Alexander out of his mind for the time being and instead put his mind in gear so as to try and figure out just how all this had happened. How any of what had just taken place within the last handful of minutes was even possible. Giving a negligent wave of his wand Voldermort healed a by now nearly bloodless Lucius Malfoy and summoned a handful of house elves so that they could start straightening out the damage. Now he just hoped Alexander didn’t kill as many of his men on the way out as he did on the way in.
‘Oh well,’ he thought with a wry smirk, ‘those can always be replaced.’ At least through the Dark Mark he knew that most of his Inner Circle was still alive. He would of course miss Rodolphus’ cruelty (the man had been nothing if not malicious after all) but he was nothing that couldn’t also be replaced in time. One last thing Voldemort couldn’t help but wonder about though, before he brought his mind to more pressing concerns, was just ^how^ the now newly widowed Bellatrix had removed her own Dark Mark after having suddenly disappeared right in front of him mid-cruciatus curse. Had that been young Alexander’s doing? And if so just how in the hell did he do it???
As he finally got a good couple hallways away from a no longer human Voldemort Xander let out the breath he’d been unconsciously holding since the start of his little encounter with this country’s current Big Bad… Damn, that’d been close and Xander found himself being more than a little grateful that he’d been able get the drop on the man and that said man hadn’t found out that while yes direct doses of magic from wand users didn’t work on the younger man, Voldermort could’ve easily just brained him with a big rock or made the ground swallow him up or something.
‘No!’ Xander thought to himself sharply. ‘Don’t think on ‘what ifs’. All that matters is that it worked and now you can get Bella out of here! Then we can go home...’
Severus Snape couldn’t for the life of him believe what had just happened. Some random MUGGLE had just BLOWN AWAY a good chuck of Voldemort’s main headquarters and many of his followers along with it and then what? Just walked away? Just walked out? Dumbledore needed to know about this immediately!!!
Bella wasn’t scared. Nope not at all… No matter what these swine did to her or said to her, she wasn’t scared. For example, her ex-husband Rudolphus had apparently been looking forward to stealing her virginity from her a second time and hadn’t exactly been all that happy when he discovered that someone else had beaten him to it. …Hence where many of her worse bruises had come from. Now any sane person would of course be wondering how or why she wasn’t scared. The answer to that was actually very simple.
She knew her Alexander was coming for her. And if by some astronomically small chance they killed her before he could get her out of the hole her former compatriots had stuck her in because of her so called ‘betrayal’ she knew he wouldn’t stop until she had been properly avenged. It wouldn’t matter if he had to bring down the Ministry of Magic itself while slitting the throat of the Boy-Who-Lived and bashing in the head of Albus Dumbledore at the same time to do it, she KNEW that she would still be properly avenged.
Now most people would wonder just why someone like Alexander Harris the ‘White Knight’ himself would go through such trouble for a ‘deranged psychopath’, torturer, and mass murderer like herself. And that was, yet again, an easily answered question. He loved her... And she loved him.
He had saved her from nearly a whole lifetime’s worth of being in a never ending nightmare. And she in return had given him a purpose, a reason to keep up the fight against the dark when he needed it most. Thinking back Bella could remember the first time the two of them had met. She had already given up on life and had fallen whole heartedly into her insanity and he had been so very close to completely forgetting the Xander from before that fateful ‘soldier’ filled Halloween. She had nearly forgotten the Bella from before her ‘marriage’ to Rodolphus and Xander’s friends had all but accidentally forgotten about him in their own quests for what they thought of as normalcy (They hadn’t done it on purpose or anything like that, but things changed, life goes on, and so had they.).
“I’m so very disappointed in you my dear Bella.” Voldemort softly hissed out as he lifted his wand and quietly intoned another ‘Crucio’. She had failed quite spectacularly at the Ministry of Magic and now she was being punished for it. And so once again her world was defined by pain. As it had been for many hours by this point…
Bellatrix was insane and she knew it. And everyone else knew it too. In fact she was pretty sure that there was no one on the planet who didn’t know it. So the question must be asked; seeing as she was already quite crazy to begin with, could something like the Cruciatus Curse, which has been known to drive sane people into an asylum, actually have the opposite kind of effect on an already insane person’s mental state? If going by what was happening within Bella’s shattered mind at that moment was any indication then yes, yes it could.
For the first time in decades the broken mind of Bellatrix Lestrange receded as the pain and pure magical power behind Voldemort’s torture curse pushed back the ‘controls’ the Lestrange family males used on all those women who were unlucky enough to marry into their nearly inbred line. And that marked the first time since her ‘honeymoon’ that the long lost Bella Black started coming to the fore. Started remembering who she once was… And as the displays of her master’s displeasure continued there was a single coherent thought that raced through her mind. A single spark that raced through her brain from nerve ending to nerve ending searing within her mind as it went, setting of explosion after explosion of things she’d made herself forget long ago, and said spark was eventually able to form a wish. A single fleeting plea that grew as another spark of sanity was created before it joined the first. And then another, and another.
As the seconds slowly passed under the effects of the Cruciatus Curse she found herself wishing with all that was left of her dilapidated being that she could be somewhere far away from her so called ‘life’, somewhere safe, somewhere she could feel all those things good mothers promised their little girls when telling them bed time stories about princesses, towers, and daring rescues; before the world made its harsh realities known and the fantasies of children were stripped away. She wished and wished and… Someone actually heard her.
The balance demon only known as Whistler wasn’t worried. Nope, not at all, in fact he was out and out terrified! The Powers That Be had granted Alexander Harris his ‘Soldier’ persona a couple years ago to help protect the Slayer line and keep the world spinning. They had of course known that Xander would eventually decide to keep his new abilities and skills a secret from the Slayer and his other companions (For more than a few reasons but mostly for the sake of expedience.). They had understood his reasons and had even approved of them. But what they hadn’t really counted on was his friends slowly pushing him away over the last year or so.
It only got worse when the other Scoobies had started college, practically leaving said young man in the dust as it were. And so to compensate for the lessening amounts of friendly human contact Harris began to fall more and more deeply into his soldier persona, slowly leaving who he had once been back into the furthest corners of his mind along with his original reasons for fighting the good fight in the first place. And considering what was coming down the pipe just later this year, let alone a couple years from now, Whistler knew the White Knight could NOT be allowed to fall into the darkness of his own making.
What the young man needed though was someone who understood where he was coming from, someone who had shared the same darkness at some point, someone who could give him a reason to renew the fight, a reason to go on truly living instead of just going through the motions of surviving, and of killing.
*Ping* Whistler’s spine suddenly straightened as the message from his ‘bosses’ was received and processed. They had found her, the one they needed, the one that could save the White Knight from his growing apathy and disdain while he saved her from the cesspool that was her own existence. They had found the Dark Queen.
‘Now,’ Whistler thought to himself, after everything was finished making its way into his mind, ‘just how in the hell am I supposed to get them to even meet in the first place?’
Bella couldn’t believe her luck as she looked at the younger man that held her safely in his well-muscled arms. One moment she was being mercilessly tortured by the Dark Lord and the next she was waking up in a dark dingy alley with this young man gently shaking her and calling out to her. And then some blood from a cut on his shoulder dripped onto her Dark Mark…
Then it felt as if there was a fire coursing through her veins, burning away the darkness that had held her very soul enthralled for so long. Her Dark Mark seemed to dissolve and disappear right before her eyes and the old Bella, who had somehow gained a foothold in her mind just recently, came all the way to the front, blowing the sadistically manic Bellatrix that had developed over the years under her now former master and her ‘husband’ away. All this with just a few drops of blood… Just who was this man?
When Xander had first found her lying on the ground of a dirty alleyway he’d thought she was just another Sunnydale ‘PCP’ victim at first, but upon closer inspection though he saw that she was still very much breathing. As he quickly looked her over he couldn’t help the pang of sadness that raced through him when he saw her face. It spoke of a beauty that had been stripped away through a hard life and unforgiving circumstances. Of a fiery spirit that had been all but been ground into nothing. She was older than him by a fair few years but aside from a few grey hairs and her near skeletal and dirty appearance she didn’t really look it. Xander was just getting around to thinking on what he was going to do with her (probably just leave her at the hospital and be on his merry way) when a few drops of his blood fell from a lightly bleeding wound he’d received earlier in the night fell onto the woman’s arm and a sinister looking tattoo.
Suddenly the woman’s back arched as if she was in pain even though he didn’t hear anything more than a sharp intake of breath emanate from her throat. Then her eyes snapped open and she dazedly lifted her overly thin arm to look at the tattoo there. Her eyes nearly fell out of her head as they bulged at the sight of said tattoo starting to fade from her skin as a thin dust like substance floated away from her forearm. Then right as she saw him and was about to speak her back arched again and she started to shake violently only to calm back down a few moments later.
This time her eyes merely stared straight up into the starlit sky in shock, before she spoke in a voice that was barely a whisper. The words had been so soft that Xander had almost missed them even though he was crouched down right next to her.
“Free… I’m free…” the mystery woman stated softly with a definite British accent as if she was unable to believe whatever it was that was happening to her. Xander for his part just stayed where he was, unmoving, as he watched her wearily. From what he could tell this woman was no threat to him, but if living on the Hellmouth had taught him anything it was that things were NEVER as they seemed.
“How..?” the woman suddenly asked as she brought her attention back to him, her voice as rough as sandpaper and amazement shining clearly in lavender eyes.
“I honestly have no idea.” Xander said with a slight shrug as he stood up. When he tried to help the woman up however he wasn’t surprised (given her painfully thin appearance) when she was too weak to stand on her own. Hence why he was now carrying her back to his apartment, having determined that the hospital, given what he’d just witnessed, probably wasn’t the best place for her at the moment.
When Bella woke up the next morning the first thing she’d noticed was the lack of a cold damp stone floor underneath her. In fact she found that she was quite comfortable. Cracking her eyes slowly open so that she could observe her surrounding she noticed that she was lying in a slightly messy room, with a mixture of weapons, books, and clothes (along with a few miscellaneous item) strewn about. Despite the room’s lived in appearance though she could tell it was clean, almost dust free, and the cotton sheets surrounding her smelled fresh.
But how did she get here?
Then she remembered… As the memories of last night came flooding back her eyes went from barely registering the things around her to wide open in an instant and she brought her right arm up in a flash to make sure that what she saw happen last night wasn’t just some cruel dream brought about her by own wishful thinking. To say she was ecstatic when she saw that it hadn’t all been a lie brought about her now former master’s torture would be an understatement.
Noticing a door leading to a small bathroom off to the side Bella slowly cast the sheets covering her off and stood up… Only to promptly fall back onto said bed as her legs gave out from under her.
‘Idiot!’ she thought sourly to herself, ‘You haven’t eaten in days and last night was the first real bit of sleep you’ve had in years, so of course you’re weak!’ With these thoughts in mind she tried yet again but more slowly than before, got to her feet, tottered over to the small bathroom, and looked into the mirror. And yet again she was shocked by what she saw. Or better yet by ^who^ she saw. Yes, she was still painfully thin but gone were the grey hairs, gone were the stress induced age lines, and (most importantly) gone was the somewhat vacant look brought on as a result of the control arts the men of the Lestrange family used on their ‘brides’. Or at least the vacant look had been there before her suppressed self had finally given out and gotten washed away by the corruption and eventual insanity that befell all those who dwelled in the blacker sides of magic as long as she’d been made to. Not that she had NEVER experimented on her own while still in school of course, but even then she would never have gone to the lengths she’d been otherwise made to go.
Then she was hit by the realization that she truly was free. Free… Free! As Bellatrix Black stared at a younger version of herself in the mirror she started feeling tears prickle at her eyes for the first time in years, tears that she had long thought impossible after so long, and so she found herself sinking to the floor as her legs gave out on her again to have the first real cry she’d had since she was a little girl and her traditionalist mother had smacked her hard for her weakness.
And that was when the man who’d saved her the night before chose to come in, after a short knock, carrying a tray stacked high with food. Noticing her in the bathroom crying he quickly put the tray down and hesitantly approached her.
“Hey,” her mysterious savior asked cautiously with a definite American accent (Was that where she was, America?), “are you ok?” the younger man finished and when she brought her eyes to his own what she saw there made her go from a moderate amount of tears to full on bawling. For she had spent so much time wallowing among some of the worst filth humanity had to offer that she could instantly recognize someone actually being genuine due to it being such a rarity in her life. And this young man was nothing if not genuine with his kind, if jaded, eyes.
Seeing this, the man quickly finished crossing the few feet between them, bent down, and softly embraced her even though he had no real idea about who she was. “Shh…” he soothed even if she could still hear a cautious lilt in his voice, “It’s ok. I don’t know what happened to you but it’s over now… Shh…”
‘Who is this man?’ Bella thought as she cried her lost years away. ‘I don’t even know his name and here he is holding me as if there’s nothing wrong with doing things like this with a complete stranger…’
“Hey, I’m Xander.” The man said just as softly as before. “What’s your name?”
“Bella. My name is Bella.” The woman in his arms replied through her slowly lessening sobs from where she was being gently held in his arms, even though a part of her was still apprehensive. She thought it best if he didn’t know her full name as of yet, just in case…
“Bella huh? That’s a nice name.” Xander said as he slowly started to withdraw from her so he could get a better look at the person he was holding. Somehow or another, even though she was still too thin, she looked years younger than before he’d put her in his bed last night before going to crash out on his, thankfully, comfortable couch. He’d woken up several hours later to find the mystery woman still firmly asleep and it had been just getting into the afternoon when he’d finally heard her stir. Knowing that she would extremely hungry, judging by how thin she was, when she woke up he quickly popped out to get some groceries and started making up a decent meal consisting of easily digested foods for the woman currently residing in his bed. And he was just finishing up when he heard her starting to quietly move around. Then a few minutes later he’d entered his bedroom to find her collapsed on the bathroom floor crying. Ok, not how he’d wanted to make the real first introductions but it was nothing unexpected considering how he’d found her.
“Hey, are you hungry?” Xander asked with a lighter tone and a smile in the hopes of helping the newly introduced Bella to cheer up a bit. “I made you something to eat knowing that you’d probably be hungry and all. You should probably eat it slowly though, you don’t look like you can hold too much down at the moment… So how about it?” At her nod Xander smiled again and stood before helping her up off the floor.
The Next Day:
“Hey kid.” Whistler said as he appeared behind Xander who was busy making lunch for him and Bella the day after she’d woken up in his room. Unfortunately Whistler for some reason or another hadn’t thought about how it might be a bad idea to just pop in on a guy who fought for his life on a daily (well usually nightly but still) basis and was instinctively quick to react as a result. So it wasn’t any surprise that Whistler found himself being poked in the eye by the barrel of one of the many pistols and other assorted weapons that the Harris kid kept hidden around his place.
“Whistler.” Xander replied after a second before putting the pistol back into the holster that he had strapped to the bottom of the kitchen counter. Xander had met Whistler nearly two years ago, about a month after the infamous ‘Halloween’ incident, when Xander had made the final decision to keep his new skill sets and expertize under wraps so that it would be easier to keep his friends safe. All that was said was that the Powers had tweaked the essence that had possessed him so that all but the personal memories of the soldier remained, and then some. And as long as Xander kept doing what he was doing he wouldn’t hear a peep from them and considering how he generally felt about big cryptic entities they wouldn’t try to get him to do anything unless they REALLY needed it. Since then Xander hadn’t heard hide nor hair from said Balance Demon or his bosses. Until today that is.
“Harris. A might twitchy are we?” Whistler asked sardonically as he tried not to sound nervous. Granted yes the shredder rounds that Harris often used wouldn’t kill him, permanently anyway, (even with one going into his head) but it would certainly hurt like a bitch. Not even bothering with any preamble Xander jumped straight to what he thought the point was with,
“I take it you’re here about Bella?”
“Yep.” The Balance Demon said, more than happy to forego the usual courtesies. Hell the only reason he was always assigned by his superiors to be their messenger to Harris was because the young human already knew him and what he did. If it was any of their other ‘employees’ Harris would undoubtedly shoot first and ask question long after the unfortunate messenger was nothing but mulch and having to be resurrected.
“So what’s up?” Xander asked as he relaxed ever so slightly. But Whistler wasn’t fooled; the kid would remain in ‘trip-wire’ mode until Whistler was gone.
“Is ‘Bella’ up by any chance?” Whistler asked as he sat himself down on a nearby stool by the kitchen table.
“I am now.” Came a weary voice from off to the side. Looking over the two men saw a tired Bella leaning heavily on the door frame leading from the kitchen to the living room. “Who are you?” Bella asked, her eyes guarded against the newcomer. She then smiled slightly as her benefactor for the last couple of days and Xander came over to her and helped her still weak form over to a comfortable looking chair on the other side of the table from Whistler.
“Name’s Whistler, and it’s a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Bellatrix Lestrange…” Whistler started before being firmly interrupted.
“Black.” Bella said with more than a bit of steel in her eyes and heat in her voice.
“Excuse me?” Whistler asked even though he was pretty sure he knew where this was going, just like he’d planned.
“My ‘husband’, if that’s what you’d call him, never cared for me and had left me to the wolves to save his own skin after having stripped me of my free will in the name of ‘tradition’ for the better part of two decades! So now that I’m free of him and his you’ll understand if I don’t wish to be known by that name any longer.” Bella spat back venomously at the nonplussed Balance Demon. Xander for his part, now understanding (at least a little) all the talk of freedom she’d used when they first met, just put his hand on her shoulder and gave it a friendly squeeze.
Even though he hadn’t known her for more than a handful of hours whatever was left of the Xander Harris that had existed before that fateful Halloween night had reared up its head and demanded that he look after this clearly damaged woman before him. Yes, it was an outdated and old fashioned way of thinking but he knew that he a part of him had to help her, especially after her little rant at Whistler. And he also knew that if he ever met this ‘husband’ Xander knew he wouldn’t be very nice. Whistler for his part just stared at the weakened woman for a moment before uttering just one word,
“What?” Xander asked as he stepped away from Bella to take a seat at the table himself. Whistler only sighed before explaining.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed Harris but the Powers aren’t exactly omniscient so there’s no way they could ever know everything. As is they have to take what they do know and do the best they can with it just like everybody else. Except of course that it’s on a completely different level, I mean these guys have taken statistics to freakin’ epic proportions. But no matter what at the end of the day they, just like the other side, can’t affect free will.” Whistler said calmly before taking a breath and continuing,
“Now don’t get me wrong we were all pretty damn sure about what Ms. Black’s response would be. That there was no way she would willingly return to that nut bag with the cheesy name but we couldn’t be positive.”
“And now?” Bella asked coldly with steel still present in her eyes. She did not like being played with, even if it was seen as ‘necessary’.
As Xander sat there in the chair between the two conversing beings all he could think of was, ‘Nut bag with the cheesy name? What the hell is he on about? Is there some guy out there going by Lord Winnebago or something?’
“Well, now I can give you this,” Whistler answered as he pulled out a weird stick that Bella seemed to instantly recognize, judging by the way her eyes lit up, “and suggest that you to stick together for a while and then go on my merry way.” With that Whistler got up and handed Bella her weird stick, which got him a genuine smile from the still weak woman, before saying,
“Ms. Black. Harris.”
With that the Balance Demon simply disappeared as if he hadn’t even been there in the first place. Xander for his part just looked at the spot where the Balance Demon had been a second ago then looked over at a still smiling Bella and asked,
“Well, I guess that means that you’ll be sticking around huh?”
“Yes, I guess so. Will that be a problem?” Bella (Xander mentally decided to stick with thinking of her as Bella instead of Bellatrix considering that that was what she had initially introduced herself as) asked as she looked right back at the younger man her eyes once more becoming guarded. She probably thought he was just going to kick her out to the curb or something.
“Nah,” Xander replied while sending her a reassuring smile, “besides it’ll be nice to have some company around here, you know? I’m just glad that the couch is comfortable is all.”
“Indeed.” Bella said with a smirk of her own before returning her attention to her stick.
“Hey Bella?” the younger of the two asked.
“Yes?” Bella responded, her eyes never leaving the object in her hand as she inspected it.
“What’s with the funky stick?” The look he received at his last question made him feel like a drooling monkey for some reason, with said look easily saying ‘What’re you an idiot?’
“This Xander,” Bella said in a tone that clearly said that he should already know, “is my wand.” Xander could only nod before stopping and after a moment saying,
“Wait, what? Wand? Seriously?”
A Few Days Later:
Xander had a stable job in construction and saw his friends on a regular basis whenever they called wondering what he was up to. But aside from those few obligations he spent most of his time with Bella at the apartment nursing her back to good health as best he could. After a few more days she had regained enough strength to be able to walk around comfortably, which was good considering that he didn’t have anything even resembling certain crucial feminine products. And a rather large part of him was repelling at the thought of trying to go out and get them for her on his own.. That and she couldn’t just keep wearing his old clothes day in and day out, because while they did the trick of covering her womanly parts they weren’t exactly the most flattering. So yes, she would need some clothes of her own as well as some other essentials.
“Are we going somewhere Xander?” Bella asked after she’d had a shower and gotten dressed in some of her new roommate’s old clothes for the day when she noticed him looking for something he’d called his ‘wallet’ (he had introduced her to several muggle things over the last few days). Normally she would have cringed at the Hawaiian shirt/old jeans with the legs rolled up combo (especially as they were more than a little too big for her) if not outright condemned them, but seeing as there really weren’t any other options available to her she just used the wand that had been returned to her the other day and readjusted them, merely trying to shrug off the odd clash of colors that currently adorned her person. And to think a life time ago she wouldn’t have been caught dead in such a non-magical clothing, let alone environment but now, compared to the life she’d left behind, it was like heaven.
“Yeah, I have the day off and you seem to be doing a lot better so I thought we’d go and do some shopping.” Xander said from where he was sitting on the living room couch.
“Well yeah. Unless you WANT to keep wearing my old clothes that is. That and your hygiene products and mine simply don’t add up in certain areas.” Xander explained with a chuckle and a small blush as the last bit was said in a sort of rush.
“Oh.” Was all Bella said in response before giving a grateful smile and shrug as she caught on to what he was getting at. Well, if nothing else the day looked to be interesting.
The two new roommates were currently walking through the Sunnydale Mall and for the life of him Xander just couldn’t figure out why in the hell Bella looked so damned uncomfortable. So after a while he asked,
“Hey Bella, what’s up?”
“What do you mean?” Bella asked tersely in response from beside him. Yep, definitely not liking the people around her… It seemed like she was trying not to give them all the stink-eye. As if she thought she’d end up catching something just by being around them.
“I don’t know, you just seem a bit tense is all.” Xander said lightly in an attempt to keep things from getting too awkward as he looked down at the shorter woman.
“Well,” Bella started tentatively after a moment, “You know how we talked a little bit about the society I come from a few nights ago? About there being another world of sorts next to this one?”
“Yeah.” Xander answered. After the whole ‘What do you mean wand?’ thing Bella and him had talked about where she’d come from for a few hours. Who would have thought that there was a whole civilization of magic user living right under the noses of the rest of the world? But now that Xander was thinking about it he found that the news didn’t exactly surprise him. Given the life he lived after all he could honestly say most things just didn’t have the ability to surprise him much anymore.
In return he’d explained a few of his own ‘home truths’ to her. Sure she hadn’t been all that happy when she discovered that she was currently residing in a town built on a hellmouth but thankfully she was able to get over it. …After a little while anyway.
“Well there are a good many people in that world commonly known as Purebloods, and for the most part they can’t stand non-magical people. We call them muggles by the way.” Bella said. “I was raised in one of those families.”
“Huh. So I’m guessing by having a title like that they were a bunch of blood supremacists? A whole ‘nother sort of ‘Master Race’, that sort of thing?” Xander asked in response, his eyes coming to rest briefly on hers as they walked before they continued looking out for anything of interest.
“Essentially, yes.” Bella said. With that the two companions continued to walk in silence for a few more moments before Bella noticed a slightly rueful look creep onto her companion’s face. “What?” she asked.
“Oh, I’m just thinking about how discrimination seems to be a universally human thing. No matter how supposedly different we’re all supposed to be… By the way is me being one of these ‘muggles’ going to be a problem?” Xander asked nonchalantly, but Bella could tell that there was a hint of ice hidden beneath said tone. Not that she could blame him for it, he was just being cautious after all. And if she were to be honest she’d have to say that she would’ve been the same if their positions were reversed.
“No, I shouldn’t think so.” Bella said somewhat sheepishly even though a good chunk of her old pride was trying to recoil at the thought of said sheepishness, but she fought it down. “I mean, yes I’m uncomfortable right now but I’ll work on it alright?”
“Promise?” Xander asked the ice in his tone thawing as he continued looking at the different stores and their selections.
“Promise.” Bella answered. She had a clean slate and she wasn’t going to be screwing it up over something she’d mostly just done as a child and beyond to get her parent’s approval… Especially seeing as her parents were long dead by now. Besides not all muggles could be that bad right? ‘I mean,’ Bella thought to herself, ‘Xander’s not all that bad after all.’ Then she looked back up at her taller companion and smiled, no of course not. But then again if Xander was supposed to be just a ‘normal’ muggle how did he remove a thing like her Dark Mark with just a little of his blood?
About 6 Months Later:
‘Nearly half a year.’ Bella thought to herself with a small smile as she walked down one of the streets of Sunnydale on her way back from the grocery store. ‘It’s been nearly half a year since I was brought here.’
If anyone had even hinted at the fact that she, Bellatrix Black, would one day come to live with a young man that was in all actuality young enough to be her son and that she would eventually come to accept living among muggles (…Well somewhat anyway…) she would have first laughed at them then hexed them into oblivion. And that was when she was back in school; it would have been so much worse for the transgressor had it happened after her disastrous ‘marriage’ into the Lestrange family.
As she walked with groceries from the store that was just a few blocks away from Xander and her’s apartment in hand she found herself reviewing the current state of her life, and while she would have to say that there were many things about it that she would change given the chance, in general she would have to say that she was happy with her current existence. She thought back to her first experience with a muggle ‘mall’ and all the different items they had out and about on display. Bella had honestly never known that there was so much to the non-magical world before, and Xander had told her that what she’d been seeing didn’t even scratch the surface of all that was out there in the rest of the world.
Then at about the half way mark between the apartment she now called home with Xander and the grocery store she started thinking about when she’d decided that she wanted to explore just what it was about Alexander Lavelle Harris that had wiped clean years of both servitude and damage from her, almost as if it had never been. Hell, not only had it knocked off YEARS from her appearance, but it had also given her back her virginity. Now, that had been a shock when she’d discovered that her hymen was somehow intact…
It was as if when both the Dark Mark and the Lestrange ‘Fidelity Charms’ were stripped away that they had taken all the damage that she had received over the last 20-25 years while under Lestrange control, and later under Voldemort’s away with them. Sure there were still some pretty prominent signs of the fact that she was the better part of twenty years older than Xander and many of the other people he ‘hung out’ with (some grey hairs and a few age lines here and there) but aside from those she appeared to be practically a teenager again. So it was understandable when she couldn’t quite find it within herself to complain overly much.
Another issue she had come across during her time on the Hellmouth involved Xander’s friends. For the most part they seemed like good people, but from time to time she found that she just wanted to strangle them! Granted, she felt that way rather often with Xander so she tried to not focus too much on that particular impulse. Like the time that Buffy wanted to spare the vampire known as Spike because he was quote - unquote ‘harmless’. Apparently, just because the American muggle government had put some sort of device into the creature’s brain Buffy thought she could take him in as some sort of pet. She had even tried to make Xander take him in so that Spike could hide from the Initiative. Well, there was no way that Bella was going to stand for that. So to say that the Slayer had been angry with her for both not listening to her and finally destroying Spike had been an understatement. Thankfully though Buffy had calmed down after it had been explained to her about how potentially dangerous Spike could’ve still been even though he couldn’t physically harm humans. After all, that particular vampire had been nothing if not clever.
And then there was Willow. While the red headed young woman wasn’t exactly all that happy when she found out that Xander was living with an older woman that she didn’t know about she had calmed down after the initial ‘Is she a demon?’ scans came back negative. That and when Xander had sat her down and explained that the two childhood friends were nowhere near as close as they had been back before several events and growing up had torn them apart. That it was just a fact in their lives that they had drifted apart, and as a result she no longer had the ‘right’ to try and stick her nose into his private business, and the same went for him when it came to her business. And that, while they were still very much friends, they were living their own seperate lives now and whether she liked it or not she had to accept it.
Thankfully Willow had mostly accepted his words at their face value and, after seeing that he was much happier with Bella around than without her, backed off a bit. But Bella noticed near immediately that the red head had started to come over to their apartment more and more, to the point where she visited almost every day. Especially when she found out that Ms. Bellatrix Black was a witch, but that had cooled back down a fair deal when she found out that the way the two of them used magic were pretty close to incompatible. She still visited just as often though.
Now Bella could honestly say that she enjoyed the company of one Rupert Giles. The older English gentleman and ex-Watcher was about her age (even if she carried her years far more spectacularly than he did) and highly intelligent. The conversations the two of them had after the initial ‘new person’ ice had been broken would sometimes last for hours on end. That and Rupert was her only source for real tea, otherwise she would had to have settled for the little bags Xander had so quaintly offered her a few days after they’d first met… Thankfully Xander wasn’t too much of the jealous sort, even if some days he tried to keep her company to himself, with just the two of them enjoying the other’s presence in the apartment. But at the same time the reverse was true of Bella, so it balanced out.
The former vengeance demon Anyanka, now simply known as Anya, didn’t even bear mentioning in more than a footnote in Bella’s eyes. Something about the way that she had practically tried to force Alexander into a relationship with her had enraged the older witch, and Bella had to forcibly reign in the urge to utterly destroy the other woman. Instead a few well-placed stinging hexes and what the male half of the human race called ‘eye talking’ had scared the other woman off. After that Bella hadn’t seen her until she had somehow gotten hired on as an assistant at Giles’ newly purchased ‘Magic Shop’.
So finally after talking to Xander and discovering that he indeed had no idea about what it could be about him that had removed her ‘shackles’ she had, thankfully with his permission, started testing him both on a schedule and at random intervals for a time. And what she’d found had astounded her. The young man that she’d been living with for just a few weeks at that point seemed to be completely immune to ALL of the magic that was directly pointed towards him. Though, on the flip side, she found that if she wanted to she could easily just banish a rock or something into his head, or move something in front of him to get him to trip over it (Which she found herself doing whenever Xander decided that he wanted to be particularly annoying. …He didn’t seem to think that it was as funny as she did.).
Shaking her head to clear away the cobwebs and bring herself back to the present, Bella couldn’t help but think about just how very different her life now was compared to how it had been just a handful of months ago. And as she continued walking down the sidewalk on her way home while carrying a sack full of groceries, dressed in purely muggle fashions, and looking for all the world like an average, non-magical, young (unless you were paying real close attention) woman she couldn’t help the smile that began tugging at her lips.
And it was when this happened that her thought inevitably turned towards the young man that had so easily taken her into his life. As a result the smile on her face only got wider.
When she’d first met Xander she had been an insane and used up wreck of a woman, a mere pale shadow of the vibrant and powerful young woman that she’d once been. Then as she lay on the dirty ground in an unknown alleyway that she’d somehow been transported to, barely conscious and awaiting her death (inviting it even) he had come stumbling into her life. A complete stranger, who’d had no reason whatsoever to give a damn about her, had somehow freed her from both her bonds of servitude and her insanity.
He had helped give her a new lease on life and had asked for nothing in return except, perhaps, a friend. Someone who he could count on to hold his secrets tight, secrets that would practically ruin his other friendships in no time flat, and not judge him over them. Someone who would listen when he wanted to talk and make sure he talked when he needed to, and could see through any lies and half-truths he might try to spin in order to avoid exposing himself in any meaningful fashion.
Apparently that someone was to be her. Hence why the beings calling themselves ‘The Powers That Be’ had whisked her away from her former life mid-Cruciatis and plopped her right in front of one Alexander Lavelle Harris to begin with (She found herself snorting as she walked, once again, at the thought of her companions middle name.). Not that she was complaining though. No, on the contrary, she found herself quite happy at the apparent terms and conditions of her new lease on life, because she knew without a doubt that things could have turned out so much worse for her.
It also didn’t hurt that the company she was to share was with someone she had come to find both so extremely dependable and so thoroughly ‘approvable’. That and she was pretty sure she was well on her way to training some of his not so good habits out of him. Granted it had taken some work over the last few months but she seemed to be making some definite progress. So was it any wonder that one Bellatrix Black found herself growing decidedly ‘warmer’ at the thought of just how ‘approvable’ her roommate was? She certainly didn’t think so.
‘Nearly half a year.’ Xander thought as he walked home from the construction site where he worked most of his days away. ‘It’s been nearly half a year since one Ms. Bellatrix Black entered my life.’ At the thought Xander couldn’t help the smile that lit up his face as his mind turned towards the person who in such a short time had become the closest person in the world to him. The woman he had in his mind’s eye was perfect in almost every way imaginable to him (Although she still had a thing against being among large crowds of ‘muggles’, never the less he knew she was still trying… Even if it looked like it pained her to do so at times.).
In almost six months’ time they had learned pretty much all there was to know about one another. She knew that he wasn’t a morning person given what she knew he did almost every night. He knew that even though her old life from before her ‘marriage’ was long gone she still had her old pride and when he wanted a compromise out of her, for whatever reason, he would have to fight her for every inch she gave if she REALLY didn’t want to budge on a subject.
He knew about her past and many of the things that she’d had been made to do while under the Lestrange control arts, including some stories that gave him the urge to go on a trip across the Atlantic find some of these ‘people’ and just start shooting. But apparently that course of action would make him look like a crazy person so he tried his best to curb that articular instinct. In the end he just found himself settling for holding her and helping her calm down every time her past decided to crop back up in the form of nightmares. And she in return knew of many of the things he’d done to keep his friends, and by proxy the world, safe. Many of these things that would’ve turn the stomachs of most well-adjusted people. So as a sort of side effect she could get him to open up better than anyone else he had ever known. She knew him better than even Willow would be able to claim now-a-days, in some ways better than Willow would have ever been able to claim, and he honestly wasn’t comfortable thinking about what his life would be like without her in it.
At that last particular thought Xander stopped walking as, if frozen in motion. Ah hell, THAT particular emotion just had to go and pop its head up again didn’t it..?
‘Damn it.’ Xander thought sourly. ‘…Maybe if I just ignore it it’ll go away.’ And with that rather shallow reassurance now trying to entrench itself into his brain he started walking again, but this certain sort of ‘dire’ thinking didn’t keep him from stopping and getting Bella some flowers he’d thought she might like on the way back to their apartment.
‘Wait…’ Xander thought as he stopped again, flowers now in hand. ‘Their apartment? Why the hell did I think that? Double damn…’
Two Weeks Later:
“What in the world is wrong with you Alexander!?” Bella yelled at her roommate from across the living room as her patience finally snapped, her accent getting noticeably thinker as the volume of her voice went up an octave.
‘Uh oh,’ Xander thought with a cringe as he started looking for any possible escape routes, ‘she only uses my full name when she’s either proud of me for something or really pissed off. And she’s definitely not happy…’
“What do you mean Bella?” Xander asked as he raised his hands in a placating fashion, trying to cut off her already near legendary temper before it could really get going. Not even Buffy would truly risk the other woman’s wrath when she could avoid it (Bellatrix had been introduced to the Scoobies about a week after she’d ended up living with Xander. It had taken awhile for the others to relax even a little around her but it had been well worth it in the end.).
“You know what I mean Alex! You’ve been practically outright avoiding me for a couple of weeks now even though we live together! What? Did I do something to put you off?” Bella asked with her arms crossed underneath her breasts, pushing them up into a more prominent position, the sight of which made Xander involuntarily swallow as he valiantly tried to keep his eyes on her face. Ever since the little epiphany he’d had on his way home from work a couple weeks ago he found himself watching Bellatrix more and more as the days passed, and living in such close quarters certainly wasn’t helping any. But in the end he’d just ended up essentially sticking his proverbial fingers in his ears and going ‘La-La-La, I don’t wanna hear it!’ and trying to ignore his steadily growing feelings.
While yes, Xander knew the mature thing to do would be to confront said feelings and sit Bella down to talk to her about them, he didn’t want to possibly make things weird between them. Unfortunately, things started getting awkward anyway as time continued passing and what was even worse was that Bella had no idea why, which didn’t help matters in the slightest. And every time she tried to confront him about whatever it was that was bugging him he had somehow managed to vacate the area so fast that it made her head spin. Well she’d finally had enough, she was going to find out what was wrong with her companion even if she had to tie him up to keep him still long enough to ask her questions. And if she had to she might even involve hot pokers into the process of getting said answers.
‘And what was that charming thing that the muggles had come up with?’ Bella thought to herself with a mental finger tapping on her metaphorical lips as her real world face continued to scowl. ‘Oh yes, Electric Shock Therapy! That might help!’
Charging up to and cornering the man she’d been living with for half a year she poked him hard in the chest before her voice dropped to a much lower, if immeasurably more dangerous, tone and she said,
“You will tell me what is wrong with you Alexander. And you WILL tell me now!” Her voice was just above a whisper now and for a moment it looked as if her companion was going to try and deflect her worries again but after a moment she saw his eyes flash as he seemed to come to a decision of some sort. Then he took a deep breath and appeared to steel himself for something before he gently brought his hands up her arms, bringing them to rest as they softly cupped her face. And even though a part of her knew what he was going to do she couldn’t stop herself from asking, “And just what do you think you are doing?” And while her tone was still dangerous and full of venom, if softer, on the inside a part of her, that had been secretly hoping for something like this to happen for a little while now, was practically dancing a jig in happiness.
“Something I should have done a while back I think…” Xander replied, his voice equally soft but firm and resolute at the same time, before he brought his lips to meet hers in a feather light kiss as he tested just how receptive she was to what he was asking. After a few seconds he pulled back looking for all the world as if he expected to be slapped silly for his presumption. Needless to say he was pleasantly surprised when after a moment Bella responded to the kiss with an almost scolding like,
“Finally!” Then she just grabbed a handful of Xander’s shirt and forcefully brought him in for a kiss so rough that he knew his jaw was going to be aching in the morning from it alone. And for the life of him he couldn’t find it in him to complain.
The Next Morning:
Even if she wanted to, which she didn’t, Bella knew that she wouldn’t be able to fight off the soft smile that was currently gracing her features as she looked up at a still sleeping Alexander the morning after they had both FINALLY given into their pent up frustrations. In fact there had been so many mutual frustrations that when it finally boiled over they had spent nearly the whole night ‘venting’ them. So there she was, Ms. Bellatrix Black, splayed out quite comfortably on top of the steadily moving chest of her roommate, and new now lover, Alexander Harris as she basked in the still strong afterglow that was left over from the night before.
‘Note to self,’ she randomly thought as she stopped staring at Xander’s sleeping face and laid her head back down on his chest before dozing back off herself, ‘these sheets will definitely need to be changed…’
2 Months Later:
“My Lord.” One of the relatively few Death Eaters from America (As it was there weren’t all that man Death Eaters to found outside of Britain really.) spoke up as the call for any knew news came from Voldemort right before he would have normally dismissed their latest gathering.
“Yes, Charleston?” Voldemort asked in an almost bored tone as he waved for his speaking follower to stand from where he knelt on the floor and say his piece.
“My Lord, at first I didn’t know how accurate some of these rumors I’ve been hearing were, but I think that I’ve found the traitor Bellatrix.” The nervous Death Eater said as he made sure to keep his eyes respectfully on the ground. After all the last time he’d dared to look upon his master without permission he’d been targeted by the Cruciatus curse for the better part of an hour as punishment. This was NOT something Daniel wanted to experience ever again so he kept his eyes on the ground.
Daniel Charleston had been recruited the better part of a year ago, shortly after he been over heard talking about just how much better his own family was compared to so many back home in America. Daniel was from what was commonly known as an ‘old money’ family and it commanded respect as being one of particular political clout when they chose to use such avenues. In fact his was one of the first British magical families to make the move from their original homeland to the New World while taking their fortunes with them for some reason that he couldn’t for the life of him remember. And unlike what many of the old families tended to do at one point or another, his had managed to hold onto their money over the intervening two centuries. As a result Daniel had grown up a spoiled pureblood, thinking himself better than most, and thinking that money could buy one anything and everything. So when he’d decided to take a vacation to the ‘land of his ancestors’, was caught running his mouth off, and then recognized as a wealthy heir of a centuries old pureblooded family the wrong people were of course going to take notice. In fact it had been Walden Macnair that had spotted him for, if nothing else, a possible new source of funding for the Dark Lord.
So the Death Eater had then paid off some Knockturn bums and beggars to harass the young man and set himself up to look like he had just saved said young man from a much worse fate than a few bumps and bruises. What followed after had involved what amounted to a man he’d just barely met while vacationing in England buying Daniel a great many drinks and stringently plying said young man for his views on the Wizarding World, eventually getting onto the topic of the Dark Lord Voldemort himself. Unfortunately Daniel had been receptive, but had quickly become disillusioned to the reality of his situation the very first time he was subjected to the torture curse as well as a few others the moment he questioned the wisdom of giving Voldemort free access to his personal vaults.
“Indeed?” Voldemort inquired, his features now focused more sharply on the young American. “What proof of this do you have?”
“My Lord, as I was searching through the ranks of the American government that I have access to, so as to see if there are any possible sympathizers or recruits, I heard a rumor of some sort of strange activity out on the Hellmouth. So I decided to investigate, to see if there would be anything of interest to you when I first saw her.” Charleston said while barely keeping his eyes on the ground and his voice from quavering. “Fortunately, I was able to obtain this for you my lord.” Charleston finished before reaching into his robes and pulling out a small, hastily taken, photograph and (with eyes still cast down) placing it into his lord’s outstretched hand.
“The Hellmouth, you say?” Voldemort asked rhetorically as his eyes fell upon the picture in his hand. While he was ignoring the fact that said picture wasn’t a magical one due to its lack of movement, the person once known as Tom Riddle scoured its surface for any clue that might lead him and his men to a more definitive answer as to where their little run away had gotten to.
He didn’t even have to question the validity of the woman in the photograph being Bellatrix Lestrange as he knew it to be her the moment he looked at the slip of paper in his hand. The first thing he noticed though was the smile on the traitorous woman’s face. She looked to be almost carefree, even peaceful, as she gazed upward towards a tall young man, both of them carrying what looked to be a few sacks of food stuffs towards wherever they were headed. Voldemort would even have to say that she looked younger than she had since before she’d joined his ranks all those years ago.
Dear Bella, looking to be so youthful and happy… Well he would definitely be seeing about changing THAT now wouldn’t he?
Nearly a Week Later:
Bella was just getting out what she would need to attempt making yet another dinner. She had yet to ever be successful in this endeavor and most times she and Xander would end up either ordering take-out or Xander would cook. And while normally Bella Black wouldn’t have been caught dead trying to replicate what she, in her younger days, would have called ‘house elf work’ for some reason she felt that she had to at least try to do something with her time while Xander was at work and everyone else that she knew in this town was busy doing their own individual things. And while most of the household chores could be done in a matter of seconds with a wave of her wand, for some reason she just COULD NOT cook, even with magic she just couldn’t do it. Something inside her took that as a personal challenge though and she had yet to give up on it.
Other than these things though Bella could often be seen at Joyce Summers’ gallery or home (she enjoyed having conversations with a woman her own age every once in a while, and she felt that the feeling was mutual), offering her assistance at Rupert’s newly minted ‘Magic Shop’ in exchange for some supplies or some pocket money (Anya, Rupert’s assistant, was still cross with her for what she saw as Bella stealing Xander away from her), out and about to stock up on things that were needed for her and Xander’s flat, or just walking about town and enjoying the sunshine. Then, of course, there were the times she went out patrolling with Xander (who had gratefully slowed down in that department after he and she had officially become an item).
Xander was due to be home in about another hour and the only thing she could think was,
‘He better appreciate all that I’m putting myself through for him!’ With that she placed the frying pan she planned on using that night on the stove and switched on the burner (the first time she’d tried using said stove she’d nearly burnt down the apartment) and was just about to start searching for the ingredients to her latest culinary attempt when the front door exploded into itself and she heard a voice that she had hoped to never hear again say,
“Hello dear,” Rudolphus Lestrange said, his voice ice cold and cruel, “have you missed me?”
Xander had just finished with extracting what he needed to know about Bella’s current location from Voldemort, and after a few seconds to calm himself down, and thank God that his bluff had worked, he started heading in the general direction that had been indicated. The funny thing was that Xander hadn’t even been inside the actual compound itself until about thirty minutes ago. For the most part the explosives that he’d planted for the last day and a half had been latched to the outside of more than a few of the windows leading into some rather large and important looking rooms. The few that had actually been detonated inside the building itself he had hastily placed anywhere that looked even remotely important in the minutes following the first initial explosions that rocked Voldemort’s compound.
Now normally Xander would have tried his best to get in, get Bella, and get out as quickly and quietly as he possibly could but he knew he had to send a message. He knew that without some sort of signal saying that going after Bellatrix Black was more trouble than it was worth that these ‘Death Eaters’ and their master would just try to abduct her again and again. So what he had needed to do was basically post up a big damn sign that said ‘Yes, you maybe be able to take her again, but is she really worth using up half of your forces to do it?’, and in all honesty Xander believed that he’d been successful.
Regardless, in the end Xander was just grateful that his plan had worked out so far, without TOO much hassle anyway. Though it had to be said that Rudolphus Lestrange had been a bit of a pain to track down, but he’d been an obstacle that Xander had wanted to take care of personally so the man hadn’t been able to hide for too terribly long. As it was any time at all in the ‘care’ of these people was too long in Xander’s eyes. Let alone the two weeks it had taken for him to come to England, locate where these terrorists were keeping Bella, and then the week it had taken him to properly prepare his rescue. So when he’d finally gotten his hands on Rudolphus Lestrange Xander had been FAR from happy. Luckily for Rudolphus though Xander really hadn’t had the time on hand to show the Death Eater what he really thought of him.
As Xander approached what he assumed was the lesser used dungeon that Voldemort had stashed Bella away in (if his given directions were accurate anyway) the young man strained his ears and eyes as he stepped down into the indicated darkened stone tunnel so as to possibly pick up even the slightest hint of his lover being further down inside. At first he’d heard nothing but a stead, almost clichéd, drip of runoff water hitting damp old stone, and then he heard a slight rattling of chains along with the sound of breathing so he quickened his step. A moment later Xander came to the only cell in the small dungeon that had an occupant in it only to realize that he didn’t have the key to the heavy iron banded door.
This wasn’t going to stop him however as he pulled out one of the few pistols he had on his person, took aim, and quickly double tapped the thick padlock, shattering it instantly. Hurriedly undoing the rusty deadbolt and forcing the door open, Xander rushed inside with Bella’s name on his lips before what he saw made him stop dead in his tracks. There was Bellatrix Black, Bella to her friends, hanging limply from at least a dozen different chains connecting her to the walls and ceiling of her cell, her toes barely being able to graze the ground. And if Xander didn’t know her as well as he did he wouldn’t have been able to recognize her due to her face being absolutely covered in numerous swellings, cuts, and dark purple bruises. Her lips were split open and raw in a couple of places, one her eyes was almost completely swollen shut, and there were knots up and down her skull’s structuring. As he looked at her he couldn’t really be sure if she was even breathing or not because of her being tied up so thoroughly.
“Bella?” Xander called out softly, tentatively, as he slowly approached her. “Bella, please god tell me you’re alive!” Then gently placing his hand on her cheek he was happily surprised when she banished his fears by jerking suddenly at the contact of his flesh on hers as her eyes snapped open in alarm. The lavender irises that he loved so much started instinctively darting around her tiny cell as they looked frantically for her tormentors before finally settling on him as he was silhouetted in the dim light from the corridor outside. It took her a moment to recognize him but when she saw him the very first thing she did was emit what sounded like a half moan half cry from deep in her throat.
“Please Xander, please tell me that you’re really…” Bella pleaded as loudly as her shredded vocal chords would allow with a dry and cracked voice. “Please tell me that this isn’t just some sick trick…”
“No, no trick Bella. I need to get you down from there, hold on.” Xander replied just as softly before pulling the same pistol that he’d used on the lock outside and took out the ceiling and wall brackets almost as soon as he could take aim. Soon enough Bella was tumbling to the floor as her restraints gave out, but thankfully Xander was able to catch her before she hit the ground.
“I knew you’d come Xander. I knew you’d come for me.” Bella stated softly as she brought her hand up to stroke her lover’s stubble roughened cheek.
“Of course love, I started the search for you the moment I saw our apartment that night after work.” Xander replied gently as he looked over her other injuries, before his face hardened and a heavy rage was lit behind his eyes. “They’ll pay for this Bella! I promise you, these bastards, these animals, are going to BURN for what they did to you!”
“Alexander… I don’t really think I’m in any condition to stay here while you go off to destroy this place. Please, for now, let’s just go home.” Bella said as she slowly began to regain some of her strength, said strength of course being used to both calm him and chastise him at the same time.
“You’re right; of course you’re right, sorry.” Xander said in a tone that clearly stated that she was correct yet again before gently placing Bella securely in his arms, standing up, and making his way out of that dank cell quickly followed by their leaving Voldemort’s main compound all together. Anyone that had survived their encounter with the White Knight’s path of destruction and carnage knew better than to get in the way of the stone faced man as he took their prisoner away from them. None of them were quite that stupid. After all, if Voldemort wasn’t trying to stop these two people from leaving his followers certainly weren’t going to attempt it.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - One Day Later:
Large segments of Tom’s main base of operations in ruins? Dozens of Death Eaters dead? Whole collections of dark tomes and artifacts destroyed? And all of this devastation being brought down around the head of the Dark Lord by only one man, a man that had apparently only wanted to save the former Bellatrix Lestrange (now Black) from the clutches of her old master of all things? So many questions that he felt he needed answers to, and so very little time in which to find them.
When Severus Snape had first come rushing into his office the day before and explained what had transpired between Voldemort and some random muggle of all things Albus Dumbledore hadn’t believed him. But after viewing his potion memory’s memory of the events in question the aging headmaster had to conclude that the things he’d thought impossible only the day before were not only plausible but practically happening right in front of him.
‘Now where did Severus say that they had found the Ms. Black first time before her capture?’ Albus thought idly to himself as he sucked on yet another lemon drop. ‘Ah yes, the Hellmouth! Well, it’s a good thing summer vacation has just rolled around, because it seems I’m in need of a trip to California. Which is perfect really, I’ve been feeling a bit pasty lately.’
AN: So? What did you all think? Trust me I'd like your feedback on this one ^^! Hoping to see you all next time. ~Semet