"Maeve's tits, Bellatrix! What in Merlin's name happened to you?!" Cygnus Black demanded as he saw his eldest daughter enter their home, clinging to a robe with a quiet death grip, and immediately made his way towards her.
She only flinched a bit when he reached for her but it was enough to give him pause as he looked at her with suddenly furious eyes. "Daughter… what's been done to you?"
Bellatrix flinched again at his gaze and hung her head as she stared at the floor, trying to organize her thoughts. "I…"
The jumble of words that poured out of her lips left him confused and angry as a dangerous look crossed his eyes, forcing him to take a slow, deep breath to force himself to calm.
"Bellatrix. Daughter. I… try to calm yourself, please. Just… tell me what happened," he asked as calmly as he could, his frustrations churning through his veins.
"I… I went to try to seduce the Storm Chaser again. And, again, I was turned away. He said things… things I didn't want to hear about why he had no interest in me. Things that angered me, confused me… I felt so, so lost…"
Cygnus' lips pressed angrily into a hard thin line. "Was he the one that….?"
"Merlin no!" Bellatrix quickly shook her head, grabbing hold of him with a tight, desperate grip. "I went for a drink, and then I was put under the Imperius."
He sucked in a breath at that, his eyes going wide, before narrowing into flinty chips. "Who DARES?!"
"The Lord of the Knights of Walpurgis," Bellatrix told him as the memory rose unbidden, that horribly pleasant memory of feeling absolutely happy to do whatever she was told. "I… He had me strip. Then dressed me in…"
She paused a moment, before lifting her arm out enough from the robe to show the translucent nothing underneath. "This. Then he made me collar myself. And cuff myself."
Every word seemed to fuel a fire inside of her father, a rage unlike nothing she had ever imagined. Her whole life, her father's temper had always been cool, controlled. A razor, sharp and ready to cut where it was directed. But this? This was like a volcano, wanting desperately to explode and burn everything in its path.
Still, she had already faced worse than this tonight. A part of her firmed and a she stood up straighter at that and looked her father in the eyes. "After that he released me from the spell and then told his followers they could do whatever they wanted to with me."
She could almost hear the creaking of his bones as his fingers clenched back into his palm as his body began to tremble in fury.
Then he froze when he heard what she said next. "Aunt Walburga was with them. She was with them."
"… What?!" Cygnus growled out the word as he struggled to come to grips with the concept that his sister, his sister, would help do such a thing to his daughter.
"They… only started with the torture. Calling me things… promising more… and then, suddenly, they were screaming."
Cygnus stared at her, dumbfounded for a moment as he realized. "They… what?"
"The Storm Chaser found them," she stated simply as she shrugged her shoulders a bit. "He found them… He started to fight them. All of them. He killed her so brutally… And then their lord… he just… he killed them all. All his followers, he just ripped the blood out of their veins just to power some kind of spell to use against the Storm Chaser."
For a moment, Cygnus said nothing, before finally he spoke again. "Then... is it over?"
She nodded her head quietly. "He finished it. They're all dead. All of them."
The last bit was more to herself as she recalled the horrid thing that escaped the fallen Voldemort's body.
"Unfortunately, without all the horcrux's destroyed…" Cygnus stated with a slow sigh of anger still smoldering in his voice.
"He caught him," Bellatrix stated quietly. "I saw it, when he died. It rose out of his body like… it was almost like smoke, but so very wrong."
Cygnus nodded slightly as her description watched what he had read about the death of a horcrux-bound wizard. "… Caught him?"
That wasn't something he'd heard about before but he had to admit that, with every other impossibility he'd faced lately, it sounded like it could be plausible.
"It was… it was like he created a cage for it. It was trapped. Then he made the roof of the cave blossom to show some kind of crystal. A moment later, he had the cage somehow merge with the crystal, trapping him there. Then the whole then was swallowed up again."
"Where?" Cygnus asked, almost demanding it.
She opened her mouth to answer before freezing and slowly shaking her head. "I… don't know. I was taken there… and he took me back, here."
He grimaced a bit and then nodded. "I suppose that means that it's unlikely to be discovered."
"I… yes," Bellatrix agreed with a slow nod of her head.
Then suddenly she was engulfed in his arms as he pulled her to his chest. For a moment she tensed in confusion before slowly relaxing as she buried her face into his chest. She could hear his voice, quiet against her ear. "I am so sorry, daughter. I am so very sorry."
Bellatrix just held onto him, her eyes glistening with tears as she finally allowed herself to break down into sobs in his arms.
Harry awoke bleary eyed with a bone deep ache in his body that left him hissing in discomfort. And that was discounting the pounding throb in his head from his hangover. Sighing softly, he allowed himself a moment to try and simply will the pain away, hoping that the comfort of his bed would allow him to ignore it.
When it failed to abate, he sighed tiredly and slowly rose up out of his bed and blearily searched out his glasses. He was going to have a class to teach today. Which meant he would need to recover enough to fulfill his responsibilities.
"You look like shit."
He froze a moment, before pulling his glasses up onto his head to see Charlus and Lucius Potter standing there, watching him expectantly.
"Yes, well I had a shit day yesterday." Harry stated blandly before shaking his head. "But at least it was worse for that bastard Riddle."
"It's truly done then?" Lucius asked as he cautiously watched Harry.
Sighing, Harry nodded his head. "Yes. It's done. Bloody bastard used a Merlin damned army killer curse, but it's done."
Lucius blanched slightly at the statement. Army killers were practically unheard of outside of use against actual armies. "He went that far?"
"Blood Gorgerl," Harry stated flatly as he involuntarily shuddered again. "Used it against his own bloody people to power it up to use against me."
Seeing the looks of incomprehension on their faces, Harry sighed. "It's a blood curse. If it connects with your blood, it spreads to it, and generally the caster will then just rip it out of your body. It uses the blood both as attack and as fuel. Nasty, nasty curse."
Both elder Potters grimaced at the description. "But, you are well?"
"As well as can be expected for a man who just fought like a bloody damned idiot and then got drunk last night on top of it." Harry stated with a grunt and a grimace. "I really don't like dealing with fights like that but I didn't have much choice in the matter."
"You won." Charlus pointed out to him.
"Barely," Harry corrected with a sigh before looking at the two men. "Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to get changed, take a shower and get dressed."
"Thank you for saving Bellatrix." Charlus spoke up suddenly as he looked at Harry. "I know you didn't have to…"
"Yes, I did." Harry corrected with a shake of his head and a grunt as he pushed up his glasses then rubbed his eyes. "Just leaving her like that would've meant she would have died or been broken. I've seen too many people suffer through things like that."
"… You're a good man." Lucius stated sincerely. "We'll talk to you after you're finished with your preparations for the day."
"Thank you." Harry stated simply as he walked towards his shower while the two men saw themselves out.
When he finished, he exited his room, dressed in a fresh set of robs and finding the two Potters talking quietly with a third. Young James Potter, to be precise.
"Professor Potter!" James stated with a bright earnestness that made Harry almost twitch slightly.
"Mr. Potter," Harry acknowledged with a nod of his head. "Charlus, Lucius."
"James was just telling us about the classes you've been giving." Lucius noted with a slight smile on his face. "A game, was it?"
Harry shrugged his shoulders. "They are still children, and far more likely to invest themselves in something they enjoy after all."
"Quite," Charlus agreed with a nod and a small smile. "James seems to be quite energetic about it, though he seems disappointed you're not teaching grand and arcane magics."
"Cousin!" James whined slightly as he looked at Charlus with a face lined by betrayal.
"I'm sure," Harry agreed with a nod of his head as he gave James a look. "Magics which I already informed him that I will not be teaching him."
James' expression took on a look of sulky irritation at the declaration while Lucius chuckled softly. "I see. For the best I'd imagine. Merlin knows what kind of trouble James would get up to if he had access to such things."
"I can most assuredly imagine," Harry stated dryly as he gave James a look, watching the boy blush brightly and cringe back down. "Fortunately, he's managed to refrain from his antics in my class."
"Well, yeah." James admitted with a shrug. "You're scarier than McGonagall."
"I'm sure she'll be ecstatic to hear that." Harry drawled before giving James a look. "Now, I believe you have breakfast to get to."
"But…" James started to protest, only to have a look from Harry, Lucius and Charlus send him off with another sulky mutter.
"He's enthusiastic and stubborn, I'll give him that," Harry noted with a faint smile, "but I imagine you were here for more than an update on James' behavior."
"Minerva McGonagall already gave me a report." Lucius stated with a grimace. "I swear that boy is more trouble than… How do you manage to keep him behaved?"
"Creativity," Harry stated simply with a faint tug of his lips. "After all, everyone else will only take off points and/or give him detention. He knows I am far, far more creative than that, and that he will not enjoy whatever punishment it is I inflict upon him. I presume you have heard about Andromeda Black's fate?"
Harry smiled at the snort Charlus gave. "Yes, my nephew has made it abundantly clear how much his daughter dislikes the honor you gave her. And he finds it amusingly ironic. Using rewards to punish."
"Yes, well, I did do much the same to young Sirius." Harry noted with a faint chuckle. "His example made James realize that I am not one to be crossed."
"McGonagall is convinced that the only reason you can keep my incorrigible little menace to behave is because I am enforcing your discipline." Lucius noted, his lips twitching in faint amusement. "She refuses to believe that I have no part in it at all."
"Yes, she tends to view me with a less than admirable gaze," Harry stated with a faint shrug of his shoulders. "The fact that I make my classes quite interactive seems to have her believing I am a reckless deviant destined to send all of my students to St. Mungo's long term treatment ward."
"I gathered." Lucius agreed with a nod of his head and a smile before his face grew serious. "But, I must ask… The issue is… resolved?"
"As resolved as it's going to be," Harry admitted with a sigh. "There are still several of his Horcruxes left to find, but the man himself is dealt with."
"That is something of a relief," Charlus noted with a faint sigh and a shake of his head. "I had been worried…"
"You should still be worried," Harry admitted with a grunt and a shake of his head. "At least one of those items can possess people. I don't want that damned thing to fall into anyone's hands but I don't know where it could be."
"What else is there?" Lucius asked with a sigh. "Will we never be rid of this monster?"
"At least a diary." Harry stated with a purse of his lips. "Potentially a locket, and potentially a chalice."
No point in alarming them just yet.
"And you were able to remove the one in the school already?" Charlus asked with a penetrating look in his eyes.
"Yes," Harry agreed with a nod of his head. "Dumbledore can attest to it."
"So you did bring him in after all." Lucius murmured softly as his eyes grew distant. "I had wondered."
"I had to make sure that I wasn't stumbling over him when I was acting. Didn't leave me much choice in the matter." Harry responded, pausing a moment before continuing. "He is a good man. Too idealistic and kind, but still he means well. He just has trouble comprehending that good intentions and desires to help can cause more damage than they prevent at times."
"Very well, we'll take your word for it." Charlus stated with a nod of his head. "Though I will thank you for saving my grand-niece. She and her family do send their regards."
Harry stiffened for a moment, before sighing. "I suppose they know what I did to Sirius' mother then."
"Yes." There was a sigh as Charlus nodded his head sadly. "It wasn't unexpected. And Sirius had been told to expect such a thing. Still, his family is gathering him, Andromeda and young Mr. Tonks now to let them know what's happened."
"Right." There was a nod of his head before he affixed them both with a look. "I'm not taking you to the cave."
There was a slight look of disappointment in Lucius' eyes. "I thought not, but there was a chance."
"I don't want to take the chance of anyone finding him." Harry stated simply with a shake of his head. "Not as long as I'm around."
"Very well then," Lucius cut off anything Charlus was going to say with a look.
"What? I wasn't going to argue!" Charlus protested with his hands raised up. "… Even if it does sound like it would be a rather intriguing place to see."
"No." Harry stated flatly.
"Well, I suppose I tried." Charlus agreed with a sigh.
Sirius stood stiffly in the Headmaster's office as he waited for his cousin to arrive. Next to him his father sat with a resolute face carved as if from stone. Across from them, Albus Dumbledore looked… Well, Sirius wasn't sure how the man looked. But it was not the look of a man who was in the least bit happy.
So, Sirius leaned back in his seat, trying to remain as still as possible. He didn't want to upset his father. Not with how angry the man looked. And Uncle Cygnus didn't look much better, though his emotions looked more subdued and sad than anything. Sirius wasn't quite sure why, but he was sure it was important.
Then his cousin was there, along with Ted. Fortunately, it didn't look like they'd been snogging. Though, typically it was still a bit early in the day for them to be doing that. He still took a great deal of pleasure in tracking them down, if only to find the right hiding spots that the prefects never seemed to check.
"… Father, Uncle. What's this about?" Andromeda asked, her hand having reflexively sought out Ted's when she saw the looks on the two brother-in-laws' faces.
"I can take my leave if you'd prefer," Dumbledore spoke up softly as he looked at them. "This is a family matter after all."
"You know what this is about." Orion made sure to not word it as a question as he stared at Dumbledore.
"After what happened last night, I can surmise." Dumbledore admitted with a sigh. "Terrible bit of business. Terrible."
"Quite." Orion stated with a succinct hiss of breath.
"I will take my leave then," Dumbledore stated before looking to his perch. "Fawkes?"
The headmaster's phoenix ruffled his feathers and then gave the headmaster a look, before promptly ignoring him as he began to sing. Slowly the tension drained out of the office's atmosphere and Dumbledore managed a faint smile. "Very well, I suppose it might be beneficial for you to stay after all."
Fawkes simply chirped back at him as he settled back onto his post after his song faded.
Once the Headmaster had gone, Orion looked from Andromeda to Ted, and then almost reluctantly to Sirius. For a moment there was nothing but silence as the man seemed to debate exactly what to say. Finally, it was broken by an impatient chirp from the phoenix, as if to tell Orion to get on with it already.
Casting the bird a slightly rebuking look, Orion then turned back to Sirius and sighed. "Yesterday Bellatrix was put under the Imperius by the Lord of the Knights of Walpurgis and kidnapped."
Andromeda gasped loudly, her eyes wide and shocked while Ted quickly held onto her shoulders. Sirius himself looked surprised, and then worried. But, that didn't explain the look on his father's face.
"She was taken to a cave, where she was put through… a very unpleasant experience." Orion struggled to state exactly what had been done to Bellatrix, glancing towards Sirius and Andromeda, before shaking his head. "Very unpleasant. But thankfully not permanent."
He took a slow deep breath. "Unfortunately, Walburga was with them. And chose to help them instead of Bellatrix."
Andromeda gasped lightly as she clutched tightly at Ted's hand. Sirius frowned slightly but didn't show any other reaction. Orion… Orion wished he could tell himself to be disappointed with his son's lack of reaction, but the fact that his son wasn't surprised at his mother's actions hit home hard.
"She's dead, isn't she?" Sirius more stated it than asked it as he sat in his chair, looking at his father rather pointedly. "Did Bellatrix kill her?"
"No, Bellatrix did not kill her," Cygnus answered, though he did not dispute that she had not survived. "She was rescued."
"Does… does this have to do with why the Storm Chaser left his classes behind yesterday?" Andromeda asked as she looked from her father to her uncle while Ted stayed quiet next to her.
"As it stands… yes," Orion agreed with a reluctant sigh. "He managed to rescue her. But, they were the only survivors."
"And he killed Mother." Sirius stated simply, his face unreadable as he leaned back in his seat.
"… Sirus…" Orion started to say, reaching out and placing a hand on his son's shoulder.
"What? You say it like you weren't expecting it." Sirius stated quietly and shrugged his shoulders a bit.
The rest of the Blacks all turned and looked at him with a horrified shock as he shrank back under their gazes.
"… Why don't you explain to them why you think that, kid?" Ted offered Sirius as the boy seemed to squirm and shrink under their gazes.
"Well… It was Mother. Don't you remember how much she tried to say we needed to kill the Storm Chaser?" Sirius stated quietly as he looked down at his hands. "After she got thrown out, who did you think she was going to go to? What did you think she was going to try?"
The rest of them froze at that, before they slowly looked at each other and then back at Sirius. "I… I thought it was obvious. I mean, we all saw Bellatrix's memory…"
"You showed him?!" Andromeda hissed as she glared at her uncle.
Orion shrugged his shoulders a bit and sighed. "He is my heir, and insisted. It was his choice."
"He wasn't even in Hogwarts at the time!" Andromeda protested.
"It's fine," Sirius stated quietly, shaking his head. "It stopped father from being like mother. I needed to know why."
"It's not fine!" Andromeda insisted with a growl. "It should never be fine! That memory was of a slaughter! No child should see that!"
"Rom." Ted's voice was a soft but firm rebuke. "Look at Sirius."
Unwillingly, she did as she was told, turning her head to look at her young cousin, only to see in the eyes looking back at her a sharp steel in his grey eyes, one that wouldn't back down, wouldn't flinch away.
"… Maybe it was stupid of me, maybe it was selfish of me…" Sirius agreed quietly as he stared down at his hands, his voice soft, listless. "But… I had to know. Otherwise… You were all going to hate me."
"I would never…!" Andromeda quickly protested and Sirius winced a bit and nodded.
"Sorry, Romeda, I meant, Father, Uncle, Mother, Aunt… everyone else in the family except maybe Uncle Alphard," Sirius amended quickly and shook his head smiled a bit at her. "I just… I don't see the point of all the hate. I don't want to just go around hurting people for something they never did to me. What does it matter to me who someone's parents are? They aren't them. Just like I'm not my parents. I can get hurting someone because they were trying to hurt you or someone you knew, but…"
There was a pause and he shrugged quietly. "That's not really what you were talking about, was it?"
"Oh, Sirius," Andromeda sighed as she got up and walked over to her cousin, giving him a quick hug.
He smiled faintly at her. "Thanks, Romeda. I just… It was what it was."
Orion frowned as his son refused to look at him before sighing softly. He wanted to say he would never have turned on his son like that. That if the boy had been in Gryffindor and not followed in his own footsteps that he wouldn't have treated him any differently.
But he wasn't so sure he'd have been able to. Losing Sirius wouldn't have been the danger that facing the Storm Chaser would have. Having Sirius rebel would've been disheartening, disappointing, but not world shattering like what they had experienced.
He wondered if that was just another sign of just how mad everything about who he, they, had been before all this.
So he didn't try to deny it. He didn't dispute his son's statement, instead, he simply set his hand down on his shoulder and gave it a soft squeeze. Then he looked towards Cygnus.
Cygnus sat there, his eyes half closed as he slumped back in his seat, looking as if the world itself had suddenly become something he no longer recognized. A man lost in the things he was realizing and wondering exactly where he would go from there. The sheer lack of surprise or grief in Sirius shook him deeper than he would have thought.
"It's funny," Ted stated quietly as he watched Andromeda try to comfort Sirius. "We look at the world, where we think we're going, how it works, what we're going to expect… And then it throws something at you and makes you realize that you never really knew half as much as you thought you did."
Slowly opening his eyes, Cygnus would give a faint nod of his head as he studied the young man who would become his son-in-law.
The boy was an odd one. Always relaxed, almost appearing lazy, with an easy grin and an amiable personality. But he had heart. The scars on his back proved that. And the way he'd saved Bellatrix proved he had both intelligence, cunning and power.
And he had a bloody point. Who would have expected that he'd be welcoming a muggleborn to join their house and marry his daughter? The whole world had gone mad.
As he sat there, considering just where it had lead his sister when she had refused to change with it and his fist clenched. Perhaps it had been best that they had gone mad with it. At least this way they were still a family.
"Well, things certainly took an interesting turn," Charlus Potter noted as he sat quietly in his chair, sipping at his scotch.
"You say interesting, I say maddening." Cygnus Black responded with a half glower as he leaned back in his seat.
"What are you complaining about?" Charlus asked with an arched brow. "The Blacks are more influential than they've been in generations. And looking to be more plentiful as well."
"Must you remind me, Uncle?" Cygnus half whined as he shook his head. "After everything, Bellatrix is still enamored with that blasted Storm Chaser. She ignores her responsibilities, rejects all suitors and spends her time doting on the man!"
"Are you upset that she's doting on him, or that after so many year's he's finally starting to come around to her attentions?" Charlus countered back with a bemused smirk on his face.
"I still can hardly believe it's been seven years now." Cygnus released a heavy sigh and a shake of his head as he slumped back in his seat. "And that I am a grandfather already."
"Grandfather of a metamorphmagus," Charlus reminded him. "Twice over in fact."
"… Yes, well young Cassiopeia and Antares are looking to already cause enough trouble for Andromeda." Cygnus allowed a faint smile to curl over his lips. "Adorable little rascals."
"Yes, quite," Charlus agreed with a faintly amused smile. "Are you still trying to talk Lucius into betrothing James to Narcissa?"
"It would be a good match." Cygnus defended as he raised his chin. "And I'd like to have at least one member of this generation involved with a pureblood for a change."
"Still upset about Sirius' engagement to the Evans girl, hm?" Charlus teased casually with a triumphant smirk. "I should think she proved more than up to the task. Head girl and a remarkable head on her shoulders for charms and potions."
"Yes, and the same damned eyes as the Storm Chaser." Cygnus shuddered softly. "How he can look at them and not shudder is beyond me."
"I fail to see why you find Harry to be such a terrifying wizard after all these years. He hasn't done much of anything beyond teach since he finished dispatching that Voldemort pest." Charlus responded with a shake of his head. "Honestly. Must you be so antagonistic with your likely son-in-law? You even get along with young Ted well enough."
"Ted is perfectly willing to let me bully and intimidate him, as a proper son-in-law should!" Cygnus shot back with a glower. "That blasted monster can tear me into pieces small enough to feed doxies without even breaking stride."
"Yes, but you can't deny that he isn't effective in how he trains his students." Charlus smiled as he sipped his drink. "And that seems to benefit our whole society. By the time they graduate they have a group of stalwart friends that they have already been through hell with."
"I know. I have to admit, I took a great deal of satisfaction watching the expression on dear Andromeda's face when she realized that she had trounced an entire squad of trained aurors with her friends when they had gotten too rowdy in their celebrations." Cygnus agreed with a faint smile.
"Did Edgar Bones manage to forgive her?" Charlus asked with a bemused chuckle.
"Once he realized that he had even more to lose from it getting out that she not only out fought him, but out drank him, he decided it was better to try and recruit her." Cygnus chuckled faintly. "Andromeda still gets recruitment letters from the DMLE like clockwork."
"You would think having her husband would be enough." Charlus pointed out, still smiling.
"Ted is entirely too laid back in his opinion. Andromeda is the vicious one."
"True enough," Charlus laughed and nodded his head. "Are you still disappointed the Malfoy family turned out to be so… deficient?"
"You mean am I still desiring their blood after that brat approached me for Narcissa's hand after it was painfully apparent that his father had been one of the bastards involved in the things done to Bellatrix?" Cygnus countered back with a glare. "I have accepted that your cousin is protecting the boy from paying for the sins of his father, but if that fool comes around here again…!"
"Yes, well, considering how it was enough to finally push Lucius to wash his hands of the whole thing, I'll count it as a win." Charlus agreed with a nod of his head.
"I'm sure," Cygnus agreed with a nod of his head before pursing his lips thoughtfully. "I suppose at this point all that's left is the future, waiting to see what it holds."
"And how many grandchildren you end up with to spoil." Charlus stated teasingly.
"As long as they don't have those terrifying green eyes," Cygnus agreed, though, he hated to admit exactly how likely that was.
"Of course, nephew, of course." Charlus agreed with a slight teasing to his voice.
And that's that. Thanks for the read.
My novel Book One of I'm Not a Super Spy! I'm Only a Freshman! is available on the amazon kindle store under my name, Jonathan McCready, and bit by bit I'm working on getting an original set of web serials that will eventually be turned into novel series available on my website chilord with the whole dot and then the com at the end.