Disclaimer: As always, no rights are owned in the HP-verse. Credit to J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros, and whomever owns whatever rights they own. All I claim is this story.

Love Thy Sister

or Birds of a Feather

The graveyard was quiet and dark, the pale moonlight failing to penetrate the haze of fog that laid over it. It was not empty however, as a single figure clad in grey robes prowled silently among the tombstones, pausing periodically to glance up at the house up on the hill.

Fleur Weasley nee Delacour froze, her foot having found an errant twig amongst the grave markers. She knew she should have disillusioned herself, but the odds were that the Dark Lady as they were calling her would have known where Fleur was even were she fully invisible. It may have had something to do with the failed ritual where her blood, via Harry Potter, had been used, but there was a connection she felt deep down. Blood was noted to have special magical properties after all, dark mostly forbidden rituals relied on them exclusively, and the resurrection ritual she'd witnessed had been one. Her husband Bill had discussed the fact with her, and they'd had more than a few arguments over it. He hadn't wished her to confront Voldemort, or whatever she was going by now, and she had only agreed because despite the feeling that she was the only one who could do anything, any Dark Lady had refused to come past the shadows, likely regaining her strength but in turn most wizards convinced any war had been averted. She did feel guilty, however, as she was ready to practice her hexes on Bill's family for the treatment she'd received. She wished they could move out of that hovel they lived in, mostly due to the vicious lies from both Molly and Ginny, and particularly her "twin sister" Ron (who had a tendency to steal her clothing claiming she was "borrowing it" and she had enough that she shouldn't care). It was only her fiance's words that kept her there. Then there had been the sudden attack on Diagon Alley, Bill being scarred by Greyback, and their wedding, and everything had come to a head quickly. And now she was here, in this miserable graveyard, heading to what she felt was to be a final confrontation.

She hesitated a few moments more, then convinced that no one had heard her or at least was about to show themselves continued her prowling. Bill was angry that she wasn't taking him along for her mission, even after she explained that he had his moment of bravery protecting her, and this was something she had to do alone. The deeper reason was frustration on both their parts; they both wanted children, and had both agreed that it was a risky proposition while the Dark Lady was about and with her magical ties to Fleur. What Fleur hadn't told her husband yet was that her testing charm had returned blue, and that meant that this had to be done now before it was too late. She took another moment to berate her own stupidity, for being foolish enough in love to forget to apply the proper spells in a night (or many) of passion, and in turn had to be here risking the lives of herself and her unborn child, but quickly decided that self-recrimination would solve nothing.

The house was still, with only a few lights in the windows suggesting it was anything but abandoned. She'd been watching the place for hours and knew that most if not all of the Death Eaters had left, possibly on another raid, but that her main target hadn't left. This would be the best chance she would have. She paused to apply a disillusionment and a muffling charm just in case, then paused again as she came across the ward boundaries. She wasn't at her husband's level of skill yet, but she'd been training as a curse breaker, working part-time at the bank, and had picked up a few tricks. Slipping out her wand, she whispered a few choice spells, the lines of magic becoming visible to her eyes. There was the bright red of a detection spell overlaid, with the blue of an anti-apparition and anti-portkey field, as well as the green of what appeared to be an inheritance lock so only someone of a specific bloodline would be able to access them. Wreathed among everything was a mix of a worryingly bright pale blue dispelling field, easily missed under the brighter anti-teleport fields, and the lines of inky black dark magics running through everything, likely tied to eliminate intruders and those who tampered with the ward scheme. The easiest way would be to just slice a hole in the wards and slip in, but that would be noticed and bring everyone out with wands drawn, and she was nowhere near skilled enough to do it without notice. She had another method, however.

Pulling a small knife out of her pocket, Fleur crouched down by the ward boundary and carefully nicked her finger. Allowing a few drops to settle on the ground, she let out a sigh of relief when the inheritance lock flared with magic then settled to a muted grey. She hadn't been entirely sure it would work, but it looked like the stars were in her favour tonight. Slipping past the edge of the property wards she paused to ensure that no triggers had been activated, then making her way to the side door slipped inside.

Inside the mansion was as eerie as the outside, with dim candlelight and an oppressive feeling of dark sinister magics hanging over it. Fleur could barely make out the furniture she had to avoid, all of it neat and tidy, and from what little she could see some of the finest pieces she had seen (since she had last visited her parents' mansion in Toulouse). At least this woman no matter how vile had some taste in decor. Finally reaching the door at the end of the hall, the quarter-veela gave a careful test of the handle, then once convinced it wouldn't suddenly open she pressed an ear up to listen in. She could make out a mumbling voice, sounding like someone who did not want to be saying what they were forced to for fear of the reaction. The fear was justified, as another voice replied. "You have failed me again, Mulciber, and now you make excuses to cover up your mistakes. Crucio!" Fleur could barely hold back a gasp and not just at the ragged screams that followed; the voice was breathy and feminine, with the faintest trace of a lingering French accent. It wasn't her own voice, she could tell, but it was close enough to sound like Fleur might in a few decades. It was also the most chilling sound she had heard, possibly some mix of a veela's aura combined with powerful magic to leave the voice seductive, promising much, but with a nasty hissing lilt to it promising great evil to the world. She knew full well that it was best she came alone. All but the strongest willed men would have trouble focusing, and all but the strongest women would feel magical rage and jealousy against the speaker. As a veela herself however she was immune, even if she could feel the tugging deep down.

The screaming continued for almost a full minute then abruptly stopped, replaced with panting gasps for breath. The evil voice gave a faint dark laugh, then shifted to the commanding tone. "There is a new mission for the rest of you. While those foolish aurors that are the 'best' the Ministry has to offer are occupied with our attacks, you are to move in to the Ministry itself. Demolish and kill anyone and anything that stands in your way. Make your way down to Level 9, the Department of Mysteries itself. Kill anyone inside. In the furthest depths of the Death Chamber you will find a hollow cone, protected by simple wards. Do not touch it, instead put the portkey I have devised upon it and say the command word of 'Secrets'. Afterwards, return here once you are finished. Soon, no one shall dare stand in our way!" There were murmurs of assent, then the staccato pops of multiple apparitions departing. Waiting a few more moments, Fleur opened the door as silently as she could and slipped inside.

The 'throne room', as she mentally called it, was a massive space with high arching ceiling, but as quiet and as dimly lit as the rest of the building with the sole exception of the center. A chair, opulent mahogany carved to look like snakes coiling about the legs and armrests, padded and covered with a deep blood-red velvet fabric, sat in the center under the single point of light, drawing attention to its occupant and giving them a sense of majesty, while obscuring the other occupants in shadow. Regardless she could make out two figures, possibly a father and son judging by what few features she could discern, kneeling before the throne. Her eyes however were drawn to the occupant. Clad in a dress of the deepest darkest black, it hugged her figure and somehow drew eyes in to trap them, as if an enchantment had been placed upon it. Fleur made a silent note to find out where she could get something like that, though preferably in a more tasteful colour. Upwards her gaze went over the woman lounging slightly with a glass of wine in one delicate hand, past the low-cut neckline and up to the face-

Her breath caught. The face, while older and subtly different, was her own. She should know, she'd seen it often enough in the mirror. It wasn't identical, but there was the same fair skin, the same nose and cheekbones, the same blue of the eyes. Unlike her own however those eyes were hard and something sinister lurked in them, and on the same delicate lips was an evil self-satisfied smirk. Before Fleur could respond she felt a sharp pain in her chest, as if someone had stabbed her in the heart with a red-hot flaming sword. It took all her willpower not to cry out and to make no sound, but presumably it wasn't enough. The two Death Eaters looked up and about for her, at which the woman raised a single hand, and they paused.

"It seems we have a visitor. Fleur Delacour, or should I say Fleur Weasley?" The last name was filled with such derision that the two Death Eaters couldn't help but smirk as well. "I was wondering when you would grace me with your presence. Have you finally come to join? Perhaps kneel by my feet in proper respect for your better? Or perhaps you are foolish enough to believe that you have a chance against me? Come, into the light, so I can better see you."

Merde! It hurt! Fleur merely hissed in pain, trying to ignore it and keep eyes on the pair. It faded as she focused, and finally she was able to draw a few deep breaths. With that she strode with as much confidence as she could fake, stopping at the edge of the pool of light. She knew she couldn't run, and she knew if she hesitated she would be cut down. First problem was the two people beside her. They started to move for their wands, but instead Fleur thrust power into her allure, extending it to charm the two men. The wave of attraction magic flowed from her, catching the pair and making them stop with dazed expressions as if their brains had shut down. Instead they raised their wands, pointing them at the lounging figure. She was about to comment about redirected blood-flow when the woman with her face let out a hint of an angry growl, and ramped up her own allure. It smashed into the pair, and their wands shifted to point at Fleur instead. She grimaced and pushed as much magic as she could into her own aura. It wasn't a simple battle of magic, this was a matter of honour and self-worth, coming down to her and an older look-alike, to dominate the two men with the force of their magically enhanced charisma and looks. She was aware she was losing, the wands of the Death Eaters wavering and slowly turning to face her. She was about to lose, her own aura overpowered by the older woman's sheer magical force backing it up. It was time to play dirty. Instead, she lifted her wand and gave a little gesture. "Accio seam!" she shouted. There was a faint rip, and the Dark Lady's dress fell apart at the front, coming off from her body. It was only a few moments before a reparo in turn fixed it, but the temporary wardrobe malfunction had been noticed and the two Death Eaters, already dazed by competing veela auras, promptly passed out with happy expressions on their faces.

"You should know, ma sœur, that the first rule of a veela is to hint but never show." She smirked and tossed her hair back with a quick motion of her head, before levelling her wand. Before she could cast her first spell, however, she was blown back by a blast of magic, sending her sliding along the floor and head impacting with a rather tastefully accenting end table. Taking a moment to shake out the stars, she dizzily pushed herself up to her feet.

"And you should know that you are no match for me, little girl. I was the Dark Lord Voldemort, and now I am the Dark Lady, above mortals such as yourself. Your blood may run through my veins, but it is pure magical power that runs through mine, and no child such as yourself will stop me."

Fleur hesitated in her casting, unable to make herself move a muscle as the figure stood, drawing herself to her full imposing height. There was a smirk on the face, but more than that there was something that was the real cause of Fleur's worry: feathers. The face that mirrored her own was twisting into a horrifying version, a mix of bird and woman, beak hooked and fearsome but eyes above all holding an expression of pure hate. There was a shifting of the gown as a pair of scaled wings burst forth from the back, spreading wide before flapping a few times to push her into the air. "Such a poor example, one such as you who thinks to challenge me as one veela to another. Your blood is much too thin, girl, and your magic too weak! I believe later I will imperio you to make you debase yourself to my followers for their amusement, perhaps under a charm so no one will recognize your face. First however I will crush you with your own powers, showing how outclassed in every way you are." Raising her hands, the woman conjured twin balls of swirling fire, and threw them.

Fleur dove to her side, the flames narrowly missing her as they splashed on the carpet. Her robes were caught by the tail-end, catching them in flames which a quick wordless aguamenti put out. She quickly dodged another pair of fireballs again, realizing she had to do something, anything. She knew the woman was right, if she used her wand to fight back it would be as if she was admitting that this imposter with her face was a stronger veela. While she knew intellectually that would mean little, a deep irrational part of her heritage screamed that she couldn't let this washed up old crone get the better of her. Unfortunately she couldn't seem to call up a single lick of fire to save her life. It was true, she was a quarter veela at best, and her magical blood was too thinned to try anything. It was all she could manage right now to dodge back and forth on the floor, willing herself futilely to change, to pull fire, to do anything. Another blast of fire caught her robes, and the distraction of putting it out was enough for the flying bird-woman to hit her with a ball of fire to the chest, sending her flying to collide with the wall. She saw stars once more, and her body ached and stung. The knife dug at her heart and now another pair dug in her side when she breathed, and her robes were getting tattered and burnt showing patches of singed bleeding flesh underneath. She couldn't take another hit like that, but she was out of options.

The Dark Lady gave a quiet laugh, almost a giggle incongruous with her expression of avian fury. "And now you realize that there is no hope for you. Your beautiful features are marred, no man will want you anymore. Perhaps I will seek out your husband, take him as my slave to lick my boots and let me rest my feet upon his back. He would do anything for me... it was your looks he married you for after all, didn't you know? To him you are nothing but a plaything, a pretty face on an empty head. You know deep in your heart that he will discard you for the newest pretty thing to walk past him. I am simply sparing you the horror of seeing this. In turn, he will follow me, never caring about the difference. I will likely kill him when his torment is no longer amusing. Perhaps I will make you watch, bound and helpless as you're used, abused like the vapid toy he thinks of you as, then let you see the moment the light leaves his eyes." She whirled over, hovering near the ceiling of the grand room as her wings beat behind her. "And my name will be the one to leave his dying lips..."

The Dark Lady was thrown back by twin blasts of fire, spinning and tumbling before managing to keep her flight under control. Fleur wasn't enraged, she had moved past that to a further plateau. All she felt was a calmness, her veins ice and the prior burning rage she felt at this imposter wearing her face and body having crystallized into something harder. With a simple thought she spread her wings, flapping hard to take to the air. The Lady looked back in a mix of surprise and anger, before catching herself and throwing a fireball. Fleur merely swatted it aside, following it up with a pair of her own, which were dodged by a rather expert dive and swoop. Avoiding the return fire, Fleur gained altitude to take up the fight, wings straining to gain the advantage as she pulled off manoeuvres she'd seen her grandmère once pull off, swooping and twirling under the tall ceiling as she dodged each blast and fired her own volleys.

The room was soon enough ablaze, the pair hovering on opposite ends, each bloodied and breathing hard, but on equal footing. The Lady Riddle had magical power on her side, but it was easily matched by the cold seething rage Fleur had passing through her. Neither could keep the upper hand, leaving a stalemate of sorts.

The Dark Lady gave a light laugh, musical in quality and accompanied it with a mocking slow clap. "Very well done, girl, but I am more than some air-headed veela, full of nothing but rage and fire. I am the great and terrible Dark Lady Voldemort! All men worship the ground I walk on, even as they fear my very name and presence! My name is such a terror that none speak of it even to this day! And you! You are nothing but a little... pathetic... worm! CRUCIO!"

Fleur was hit with the spell, collapsing and writhing on the floor. It was pain unlike anything she'd ever faced, with every nerve ending aflame. She knew she had to do something, but was helpless to fight back in this condition. Please let my child be fine, please let my child be fine, she cried to herself, aware that a miscarriage would be the least of her worries the way she was taking punishment. The pain stopped after an agonizing eternity, and she laid there for a few moments trying to get her breath back and stop the ragged sobs. Raising a shaky wand hand she fired off a weak reducto, but it was swatted aside as if unimportant, as was her follow-up bombarda, confringo, depulso and stupefy. The last received a derisive laugh. "Is this all you can manage?" Voldemort taunted, landing and walking up to the witch. "Moving through your mind, alphabetically, trying whatever you can scrounge the limited magic for? You are done for, and you know it. Expelliarmus!" Fleur's wand went flying to roll into a nearby corner, miles away as far as the witch was concerned. Another crucio followed, this one only held for a few moments, and the evil woman moved up, tilting Fleur's head back with a delicate finger. "Such a waste," she mocked. "Reduced to nothing more than tears, shown her inferiority both with wand and fire. I believe I will merely kill you instead, and send your lifeless corpse back to your husband. Perhaps he will kill himself out of grief. That would be such a touching end, wouldn't it?"

As the Lady Voldemort raised her wand to cast a spell, likely the killing-curse, Fleur's brain tried to find a solution. Little girl, her mind repeated. Your blood through my veins. One veela to another. Your blood is too thin. She tried not to cry, to give a brave face at her death. She wouldn't give this hateful woman the satisfaction of begging to spare her life. Her brain however didn't give up, jumping to a conversation she'd had with Harry soon after the tournament. "Did you know Dumbledore told me that it was love that would let me defeat Voldemort? He said it was the most powerful force in the universe. I'm glad apparently the solution was as simple as polyjuice. My scar doesn't even hurt anymore, any link I had to Riddle is gone." Fleur took a moment to feel the sharp pain still worming through her chest, then looked up into the mirror of her own face, back to human again and with that same expression of dismissive hate. It said she was nothing more than a rather irritating bug, one which had the nerve to be annoying. The power of love. Love for her husband, for her future child still in her womb, for everyone lost to this madwoman. Above all else, love for even this twisted creature who wore an older imitation of her own body. It was as her grandmother had put it that fateful day when she was jealous at a full-blooded veela stealing the affection of a boy she liked. "My dear granddaughter, people believe that a veela's powers rely on lust and base sexual attractions. They do not understand that the real power of the veela is love. Men are drawn to love us, and we in turn are drawn to those we find worthy of our love. Remember, jealousy and hate is for those without love in their hearts, show your sister veela love, and they will love you in turn."

Pulling together all of that emotion she could manage, she leaned up and gave the hateful creature a sisterly kiss, followed by a whispered "Je te pardonne, ma sœur."

The wand tumbled out of the Dark Lady's hand, and she let out an ear-piercing shriek, clawing at herself in desperation. Her skin shifted, feathers sprouting and turning to ash just as quickly, wings sprouting but aflame, features contorting, and the whole time letting out that wail of pain and above all else terror, collapsing onto her knees as her body ignited. Finally she tumbled over, body crumbling to cinders as it burned, a shadowy apparition emerging. It was visibly tugged aside, but then there was a snap and a thrum of rebounding magic, the furniture in the room detonating amidst a storm of shrapnel and unbound power. The figure made a lunge for Fleur but stopped short as it too ignited, letting out an unearthly cry, before evaporating into nothingness. With that final act done, the surviving witch collapsed, unconscious.

It was a solid ten minutes later that Fleur had managed to recover sufficiently to leave the manor and make her way to a healer. Later she found that when she had bypassed the wards, upon defeating Voldemort they had reverted to the closest bloodline match, notably her. In her paranoia, the Dark Lady had ensured that any who tried to apparate or portkey onto the property without permission would be met with a grisly fate, and the wards had reacted as such to the returning Death Eaters. Bodies were still being identified from their positions scattered about the property lines, in some cases known only by their wands. In each and every case their dark mark was clearly visible on otherwise marred flesh, a sign to the aurors on site to waste no tears over the dead.

Bill had been the worst, swinging between shouting at how reckless and suicidal she was and how terrified he had been upon hearing of her condition, to relief and gratitude that she was unharmed with nothing more than second and third degree burns, a pair of broken ribs, and magical exhaustion, not to mention joy that she had taken down the darkest wizard and witch of their age single-handed. His crying in relief and dismissal of her concerns about her scarred face were enough to dismiss any nightmares she may have had over the insults and lies she had heard about her wonderful Bill. The best part had been once she had received a clean bill of health from the healer, along with a "completely in good health," and knowing wink. She took her darling Bill's hands in hers, leaning forward to give him a kiss on his lips as she moved his hands down to rest on her belly. It took him a few moments of confusion and suggestive looks from her before he took the hint. His shout of joy was said to be heard as far from St Mungo's as Hogwarts itself.

It is to be said by some that they lived happily ever after; few ever manage such a feat as life has a way of stepping in, but sometimes a bit of love makes it close enough.