Updates: I just got my Hindi Harry Potter books! Meaning this fic might have more updates (शायद).
This Summer Schedule: Aside from my own book; Twice Dead and Thrice Reflected, When the Dragon Spoke to the Moon, How it Ends, and Remember Your Failure.
Twice Dead and Thrice Reflected: Broken Reflections and Twice Dead and Totally Forgotten, reboot. I know most people don't like a genderbend, however, give it a chance, it is a complete flip on how Lily and James are approached.
When The Dragon Spoke to the Moon: Has Harris Magnolia Black's backstory for Belladonna, it was the inspiration for this fic. Read it, learn more about older Harry. Also Luna in the Hobbit, Luna and Harry in The Lord of the Rings that doesn't rewrite the books. Adventure/Family.
White Tiger: Natasha Romanoff and the Secrets of Death, Black Widow comes out this July and I'm excited, so I'm writing JacobApples old fic to have a smoother plot and writing style. Reboot. Harry Potter, Peter Parker, and Michele Jones causing trouble.
Chapter 6 - Staking
Kingsley Shacklebolt was not at all pleased to be at Grimmauld Place, not with the news he and his young shadow had to share.
Sirius Black sighed when he saw their faces and before everyone was even seated he asked, "What's wrong now?"
Albus motioned everyone to settle and Tonks was literally biting her cheek to keep from exclaiming the news as he told her not to.
Kingsley sighed, "It has to do with your release, there appears to have been a caveat."
Sirius stiffened, "What did the courts do? I haven't done anything!"
"It's not what has been done, rather it is what has been missed," Kingsley replied.
Sirius glowered at him, "Explain."
"Your cousin," Tonks spat.
Sirius raised a brow, "Which one?"
"Bellatrix Lestrange," Kingsley said, causing the entire room to still and go deathly quiet.
Sirius's eyes were wide and Severus leaned forward to say in a put upon tone, "Bellatrix Lestrange is in prison and she was convicted in a formal and legal trial."
"But it would appear that Harris Black was being literal in his claim of the Black Family. It appears that not only did he clear Sirius's name but Bellatrix's also."
Sirius gaped, "No… Harris- He's a good bloke. He saved Harry from Voldemort! Why would he side with- with a monster like that? She's nearly as bad the snake-faced bastard!"
"How is this possible?" Albus asked, "Surely a release from prison can be delayed-"
"She has already been taken from the prison," Kingsley said, "and Harris Black managed to slip Bellatrix's full pardon into list of recompenses for Sirius's wrongful imprisonment. I'm afraid that the contract was legally and magically binding, unless, or more likely, until, Bellatrix Black commits another crime she is a free witch. We still can't figure out how he slipped the clause in there, or how we all missed it."
Molly Weasley was breathing fast, "No, surely… she… the Longbottoms have only just recovered."
"We don't know how long this news will stay suppressed-" Kingsley began.
"Hasn't anyone spoken to Harris?" Sirius demanded, "And Bella isn't a Black anymore, she is a Lestrange."
Kingsley shook his head, "The last anyone has seen of Harris Black was at Gringotts then at the prison. Harris filed a claim against Rodaphlous Lestrange that was immediately approved at the banks because Bella's husband has earned himself a life sentence."
"Filed what sort of claim?" Albus asked.
"Harris has divorced Bellatrix from her husband, claimed the Lestrange vaults as recompense all for a claim of slander and wrongful compulsion," Kingsley explained. "Bellatrix Black is, by law, Harris Black's ward and all but untouchable unless she is caught in a future crime."
Moody slammed his fist on the table, "He's given her an alibi, even if she could be retried-"
"What are you talking about?" Hestia Jones asked.
Minerva answered, voice clipped, "In our antiquated laws, witches from the old families are in many respects still viewed as property of their males, whether that be their fathers, husbands, or, as in this case, Head of House. That the Head of House Black went to what is considered a drastic measure of divorce under the charge of endangerment and manipulation into crime, which means that all of Bellatrix's crimes would only fall back on Lestrange. As if a woman has no personal agency. Harris did more than pardon her, he's all but pronounced her an innocent, a victim, in the eyes of the law."
Sirius shook his head, "He can't know what he has done. He can't, he's…"
"An unknown," Severus cut in, "I suppose the only consolation is we know he means Potter no harm and that he can hold off the Dark Lord."
"Bella will mean Harry harm," Sirius growled, "Where is she?"
"No one knows," Kingsley said, "No one has seen either of them since her release. But then she's been in prison long enough that I suspect she needs medical care. It might not be Harris deliberately hiding so much as Bellatrix needing care. Convicts have been known to die after removal from the high security cells."
Many looks were cast Sirius's way but he ignored those looks.
Albus sighed, and glanced at Severus, "Does he know?"
The Potions Master shook his head, "No, he will be furious. Or gratified, he's been wanting to convert Harris Black to his cause."
"That seems a little unlikely, doesn't it?" Arthur remarked, "He saved Harry and Sirius."
"And now, Bellatrix," Sirius sighed, "I would say it's odd that he is so loyal to the House of Black but he wouldn't be the first illegitimate child to try to reclaim his parental birthright."
"But whose side is he on?" Tonks demanded.
"Ours," Sirius answered, "And I mean that personally as in Harry's, Bellatrix's, and my side."
Tonks frowned at him, "But you and Bella aren't on the same side."
Sirius winced, "We are if we remain within the aims within our House."
"And what are those aims?" Tonks asked a bit sullenly.
Sirius shrugged, "Whatever Harris decides they are. He is Head of House. He could decide Narcissa or Andromeda are a part of the fold if he wanted, or he could decide that Andromeda's marriage is illegitimate as her father proclaimed it to be."
Tonks looked utterly horrified, "Harris wouldn't be able to divorce my parents, would he?"
Sirius shook his head, "No, of course not. One, Ted isn't in prison, second they have you, and third, Andromeda may have been cast out of the family but she also formally left. Which means she is purely independent."
"Why would anyone choose to stay a part of the family if they lose their independence?" Tonks asked.
"Money," Kingsley said, "you and your mother will have no claim on the inheritance even if everyone else dies."
"A being of a pureblood house as old as the Blacks, in some cases, you can get away with murder and high crimes against humanity without punishment," Moody growled.
"And that," Sirius said, then sighed, "is worrying, seeing as he knows about Grimmauld Place and the Order of the Phoenix."
"How can we trust him?" Tonks demanded.
"We can't," Moody growled.
"I don't think we should make an enemy out of him," Sirius warned.
"You think freeing Bellatrix Lestrange is justifiable!?" Molly demanded.
"I think Harry owes him a life debt and I owe him my freedom. If he can leash Bella then perhaps-"
Severus snorted, "Bellatrix Lestrange is insane. There is no controlling her."
"She's been out of prison for a few weeks now and no one has died," Sirius observed.
"How can you defend her?" Tonks demanded, "The stories my mother told-"
"I watched Bella break," Sirius said, "I'm not saying that to excuse what she's done but Aunt-" he stopped himself and he shook his head, "And the Lestrange brothers… I wouldn't wish them on anyone, much less a barely seventeen year old girl. Andromeda was smart to have run away, she was supposed to marry the younger Lestrange boy. Keep in mind that Bella was the oldest, the oldest out of all of us and she was female. It doesn't excuse what she did, but I can't exactly say she really ever had a chance at a better life."
Severus nodded, "I agree. She was the Dark Lord's lieutenant because she was intelligent and lethal, but also because she was broken. She never did anything for personal glory."
The other members of the Order were looking at Sirius as if he had just grown a second very ugly head. Sirius had always bad-mouthed his family, always, but ever since Harris Black had arrived, Sirius seemed, well, not kind or positive about his history, but a bit more charitable to those caught in the web of the old families.
Kingsley sighed, "Reports said that's part of what made her dangerous, she had no sense of self-presentation beyond how it served the Dark Lord's causes. If anything, she was more destructive than the You Know Who because she was so often on the frontlines."
Moody growled, "What she did to the Longbottoms can never be forgiven. Until that point, she had only been used as an executioner, but with the Longbottoms she proved she was just as evil and vile as her husband."
There was a long silence, and Molly asked, "Is it still safe to meet here?"
"If she comes here, I will kill her," Moody declared.
"Then Harris will kill you," Kingsley said, "and it will be within his rights to do so if you don't get away fast enough."
"Should I try to contact him?" Sirius asked, "See where he stands."
"Why not?" Tonks goaded, "You're already having tea with Narcissa."
"Having more spies is not against our interests," Albus calmed, "Yes, Sirius, I think that would be best, see if you can get a feel as to where Harris stands."
"It's troubling," Kingsley noted, watching the Headmaster closely, "That he saves Harry, but hates you, Albus, fights Voldemort but saves his lieutenant."
"It's not as weird as you make it sound," Sirius said.
"Do enlighten us, Black," Severus sneered.
"Narcissa hates the Dark Lord, she also is none to pleased with her dearest husband because they are putting her son at risk. If Harris is a traditionalist, I'd imagine he will be the same. Fortunately for us, he has claimed Harry as his Heir is likely always to choose Harry over Voldemort. Yet he doesn't like Dumbledore because of Harry being placed with muggles. Which would incline me to believe he isn't likely to ask Andromeda or Tonks back into the fold if he is disinclined to the muggle world," Sirius explained, looking thoughtful.
Arthur made a derisive sound, "And Bellatrix?"
Sirius shrugged, "I don't know. It will depend on whether she's more loyal to the House of Black or the Dark Lord she swore allegiance to. Harris might not give her the option, she may have to choose stepping in line with him or be ousted from the family. As far as I know my grandfather never made her choose between the two loyalties before."
"Lady Malfoy follows Voldemort," Dumbledore said coolly.
Sirius glared at him, "Narcissa isn't a Death Eater."
Dumbledore lifted a brow, "Will Harris really make her choose between loyalties?"
"If he is actually Orion's son, then no. A Head of House is unlikely to force a witch choice between the larger family and her son, the heir of another house. And if Harris did, Narcissa would simply choose Draco and Harris would lose any influence over her," Sirius said.
"For someone that snubbed his family at every turn-" Severus began.
Sirius glared at him, "I was raised to be Head of House Black, I had these lessons beaten into me, Snivilius. I don't give a flying shit about my dead family because they were mostly evil, but Harris saved Harry."
"So that erases all the-" Severus began.
"Between Harris and Harry," Sirius snarled, "maybe the power accumulated by the House of Black might actually be worth something. I will not wish failure on my own godson. As for the Black Sisters? If our parents hadn't doomed them from the start, their accomplishments would have outweighed Dumbledore's. But because our society is four hundred years behind the times and the word 'pure' has come to mean 'dark' and because they are women, every opportunity was taken from."
Severus glared at him, "And what would have James Potter said to that?"
"James would have agreed with me," Sirius snarled back, "Because I am quoting Euphemia Potter."
"Alright," Albus called, "Sirius will try to reach his brother, Harris, and attempt to access how much danger Bellatrix may prove to be."
"I'll save you the trouble," Moody groused, "Homicidally dangerous."
Kingsley fought not to roll his eyes even though he agreed. However, Kingsley's own family was much like Sirius's, well, in tradition, less so in torturing their own offspring. Of course, Kingsley was the last of his line, so the House of Shacklebolt wasn't exactly a family as such.
"I cannot keep this hidden from the Dark Lord," Severus said, "I can hold back until he summons but…"
Albus nodded, "Wait until he calls you but don't attempt to hide it. Sirius, after this meeting I would like you to reach out to Mrs. Malfoy."
Sirius frowned, "If I tell Narcissa, Voldemort will know."
Arthur looked outraged, "Why would you-"
Albus interrupted, "Because Draco Malfoy is one of my students. Voldemort historically has marked his Death Eaters in the summer before sixth year. If Narcissa comes to trust Sirius or Harris, Draco may have somewhere to go. Whatever Draco's personal views are now, he is minor, if there is a way to provide him a way out than I would like to try."
Moody rumbled, "Even if it means Voldemort becomes aware that his greatest piece is back on the field?"
Minerva sighed, "Rumours like this don't stay secret for long. For Draco's sake, I do believe it best that Sirius earn Narcissa's trust. Sirius is correct in that the Black Sisters were three of the greatest witches to pass through the halls of Hogwarts; it is a pity to see what they became."
"There's nothing wrong with my mum," Tonks snapped.
"Andromeda went into hiding," Sirius said, "I am happy she found some happiness. But Nymphadora Tonks, your mother was not sorted into Slytherin purely because of her cunning, all three sisters were very ambitious, they had dreams of what our world could become."
Tonks scowled, "Yeah, and then Aunta Bella became a terrorist."
Sirius smiled sadly, "Aunty Bellatrix probably would have succeeded in taking over the Wizarding World her husband and the Dark Lord had stepped out of her way."
Kingsley snorted, "If the three of them had been united, the Dark Lord would have been toast. Andromeda Tonks may have left the House of Black, but she didn't fight in the war because was unwilling to side against her sisters."
"My mother isn't a coward," Tonks said through her teeth.
"No," Sirius agreed, "she's jaded."
Kingsley was saddened by the truth of that statement, Andromeda Tonks hadn't given up on her family, she had given up on Wizarding Britain ever becoming a better place. Kingsley wasn't even sure he disagreed with her.
Kingsley was in a melancholy mood as he returned to his office and was greeted by an enraged Amelia who side-along apparated them right out of the Ministry.
They landed in a garage, Kingsley glared at her, "Bones-"
A door slammed open and he turned to find an angry witch pointing a wand at his face.
He sighed internally, blaming Amelia for this.
"What do you people want?" Andromeda Tonks demanded, "I have a front door for a reason."
Amelia didn't waste time with pleasantries, "We are here because of your sister."
Andromeda raised a dark brow, "Did Cissa land herself in prison too?"
"No," Kingsley rumbled, "You're older sister, Bellatrix Black, has received a backdoor pardon and has been released back into the world."
Andromeda paled, her wand lowering, and Kingsley could only imagine how she was feeling.
Bella was in paradise, but there was only so long one could be indoors before testing the limits, even if she was being pampered by a handsome, broadening man who cooked like a gourmet chef.
She waited until Harris was busy in the kitchen, his back to the room as the food he cooked sizzled and she tried the door.
It was locked, magically.
She tried a spell, even wandless, a simple unlocking charm was nothing.
But her magic didn't come, she could feel, actually she could feel more magic than she had ever had but she could access it, couldn't command it.
It was a silly thing to admit, but she hadn't really realized what the bracelet on her wrist was, nor had she registered that the one Harris wore was its pair.
Anger, no, rage swelled in her, and she let the emotion consume her so she wouldn't have to think of the last time she had worn these bands.
She kicked at the door.
Before the man keeping her hostage could catch onto what she was doing, she picked up one of the dining room chairs and ran at the large windows, stopping at the last possible moment before chucking the chair into the window pane. Only for her to half to jump back as it bounced off.
She heard the click of the stove being turned off and Harris Black called, "Bella?"
Bellatrix didn't stop, as picked back up the chair and ran to the bedroom.
Trapped, trapped, trapped- over and over again, screaming in her blood.
She wasn't dead, this wasn't heaven, she was being lulled into a false sense of safety for some unknown reason. For a reason she couldn't let herself imagine.
With mounting panic, she lifted the chair high over her head and attempted to break the bedroom window, she began screaming down to the people in Diagon Alley, but the chair broke before the window did and no one heard her.
"Bella," a firm voice called.
Bella spun on the bastard who had taken her magic from her. Picking up a chair leg, she ran at him, intent on using the scrap of wood as a large stake.
Once he was dead she could take the bracelets off.
Harris caught her wrist and pulled the stake out of her hand tossing it away as she tackled him to the ground.
She clawed at his face, she got one good swipe in until he rolled on top of her. He didn't yell at her, nor did he try to hurt her back.
She twisted until she got the right angle and brought her knee up sharply.
He grunted, his hold loosening and she wriggled out from underneath him and made a break for the kitchen, there were knives in the kitchen, there had to be even though she knew he stored them with magic. There would still be a hot pan on the stove.
She didn't make it past the dining area when Harris tackled her back to the ground. He pinned her this time, her front on the carpet, his full weight pressing down on her, his hands pinning her wrists.
She screamed, she roared, she called him every obscenity she could think of, she snarled the vilest spells she knew, and when all else failed, she screamed as loud as she could.
It wasn't as satisfying as clawing his eyes out, but with nothing else to do, she might as well give him a headache.
But Harris Black never lashed out at her, he said nothing, did nothing except for hold her in place as the pain in her throat and the fear in her veins told her that she was indeed, very much alive.
Alive and being held hostage with a complete stranger who had taken away her magic.
Eventually, the fear faded, the adrenaline crash hitting her like a bath of tar, and she went limp, her breath shallow and harsh, her eyelids heavy. If it wasn't for the weight and heat of the man above her, she would be shaking.
"Bella?" he finally spoke.
She didn't answer him, couldn't have if she wanted to, she had given everything she had to escape, to fight him, and now she had nothing.
Causouisilly, Harris let go of her, when she didn't move, he got off her. She didn't move aside from the tremors that raised up her spine.
She fought back tears, confusion and the unknown causing havoc in her mind as she tried to reason out how she had gotten here while deliberately not thinking of why she was here.
She didn't notice that Harris had walked away until the weight of a blanket was draped over her back.
It was several minutes later that she worked up the strength to curl the blanket around her.
Bella wasn't sure how long she stayed like that, huddled on the floor, defeated. But when Harris reappeared in her line of sight, it was to lay down a plate of lemon rice and a cantine of water on the floor. He sat with his own plate, back to one of the chair legs as he began to eat.
It took more energy than was pretty to sit up and drag the plate into her lap.
She didn't like Harris just then, but she did like his cooking.
Harris reached across the space between them to offer her a spoon.
She snarled soundlessly at him.
He smirked, stretching the angry red lines on his face from where she had scratched him, but he didn't take back the spoon.
She snatched it out of his hand, and with nothing else to do or that she could think of to say, she stuck her tongue out at him.
Harris threw his head back and laughed.
Bella was stunned, her eyes going wide, not just at the purity of the sound but at the realization, he wasn't mad at her.
Everyone always got mad at her, the only ones who still loved her were the dementors who enjoyed eating her. But she shied away from such thoughts.
Bella took a sip of water from the cantine that she realized Harris had mixed with lemon, mint, and honey, cooling and easing the pain in her throat.
"Why?" she managed to ask.
He didn't ask her to elaborate, "You're family, and you have some healing to do before you can go out into the city. We can go outside for a picnic tomorrow though, I know a place, the weather should be nice."
It was the most he had ever said to her and it completely boggled her mind that he wasn't threatening her right now. She had not the slightest idea what to make of this man who seemed completely unruffled by her attempt to stake him.
AN: Please be a patron by reviewing? Please?