Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any of the related characters. No money is being made from this story.

A/N: This chapter contains a small bit of BL/RL. Oh, and I dislike Draco Malfoy.

Narcissa sat quietly watching as Harry's chest rose and fell. He'd been unconscious for nearly three days now, as it was rapidly closing in on midnight. Upon reaching the room he was being kept in, the women had levitated him gently down onto the bed. Narcissa had then stepped back and let Bellatrix set to work. While she was fairly decent at healing charms herself, her skills could not compare to her sister's talent.

Before being sent to Azkaban, Bellatrix had kept herself very busy. After graduating from Hogwarts, Bella had shocked the family when she'd enlisted in the Ministry's Auror training program. Their mother and Aunt Walburga had been repulsed at hearing the news. 'How indecent for a young woman of your stature!' they had shouted. Druella was worried for her eldest daughter. She was setting herself up to get killed, having voluntarily taken such a dangerous position when rumors continued to fly around about an underground revolt, a pending war, against the trash contaminating the Wizarding World. Her aunt had complained that Bellatrix was complying with the filthy standards of the Ministry, peacefully allowing Mudbloods, Half bloods, and Half-breeds to coexist among their superiors. Bellatrix had sneered and said she was doing nothing of the sort. She'd joined the Aurors to duel, as a position of authority and power, and to kill without repercussions.

Her father had been outraged for a different reason entirely. He did not care if his daughter chose to find a job. In fact, he rather thought it was a decent idea because it'd keep her out of trouble, seeing as she always managed to be fighting with someone. His concern was her chosen profession. What had she been thinking, practically signing up to have the family searched? The Black family was already notoriously known for their favored use of the Dark Arts and they didn't need to give access to the Ministry so kindly.

However, Cygnus didn't have to worry for long. Bellatrix sat through ten months of listening to trainers and Aurors drone on about defense, procedure, practicality, and vigilance. After finally reaching the dull training course, she'd gotten fed up and left the program. She'd been utterly disappointed to find that Auror training, at least what little she had experienced, was nothing but a tedious day after day affair. What reason did she have to stay when the dolts weren't even interested in learning the Dark Arts? She couldn't see how they expected to be able to properly fight if they didn't know what they were facing.

Having pushed the useless training aside, Bellatrix and Rodolphus officially announced their engagement. It had not been a surprise. They'd been dating for the past two years and their parents had convinced them after the first year that the practical step would be marriage. After all, they were a perfect pureblood couple.

Her interest in the Dark Arts spiraled into consumption as news of actual attacks on muggles and muggleborns flew through the social circles. She spent all her free time with her nose in a book trying to learn as much about the theory of certain curses and hexes, and had eventually moved on to testing them on small animals prancing about the estate. Her newfound passion began a clear isolation from her family that would never quite heal itself.

Her surprises were yet to let up. She'd shocked the family once again as she'd signed up to train as a healer. Her sisters couldn't fathom why the girl who had grown up mercilessly torturing friends, family, strangers, and pets would even consider taking courses to help heal people. They'd never found out that she'd signed on as a healer for three reasons. The first, understanding the complexity of the human body and how to heal it was something she was genuinely interested in learning, but it also would help execute her self-assigned studies. Her second reason was more practical. Learning the Dark Arts, especially without a partner or instructor, was a dangerous task. She knew simple household healing charms, but it wouldn't be enough to heal a more severe injury if she happened to challenge the wrong people. Bellatrix wasn't about to allow anyone else to heal her wounds if she herself could attend to them. Her final reason was simple: if she was preoccupied with training, she wouldn't be around Rodolphus.

Walburga and Druella had accepted her new career. It wasn't proper for her to be workingbut she'd managed to pick something useful this time. If ever any of the family should fall ill, the women could be reassured they'd be taken into capable hands.

Bellatrix had complained continuously about her work and what hassle it caused her to be so utterly bored. In three years, she'd completed the program and was certified as a healer. She had been offered a position at St. Mungos but had politely turned the offer down. She'd already received the offer of a lifetime during the course of her studies.

Needless to say, Bellatrix made quick work of Harry's broken left arm and his numerous scratches. She'd done a quick scan of his body and determined that he'd also bruised several ribs. He'd managed to twist an ankle as well, but that was easily fixable. Quickly waving her wand in a set pattern, Narcissa watched as she sat back, satisfied, before removing her jinx from the doorway. The only thing left to do now was wait for Snape to return with his pain-relief potions.

Still, despite their best efforts, Harry lay unconscious after three days. Snape, it had seemed, was shocked to see that the boy didn't have serious head trauma. Narcissa felt the corners of her mouth pull together as she allowed herself a small smile. Harry Potter was certainly something else.

A shuffling noise at the door made her alert to someone else's presence. Her smile widened as she watched her son step into the room. She'd hardly seen him in the past few weeks, as she'd rarely been able to leave the room. He stood next to her now and sneered down at Potter.

"Hello, Draco darling." She watched as his nose wrinkled in dislike. He'd always hated when she referred to him as darling.

"'Lo, mum."

She motioned for him to take a seat next to her but he shook his head. "Mum, what's been going on?"

Her face fell at the question as she sighed. "Nothing that concerns you, darling." His lip curled.

"Why shouldn't it concern me that my parents aren't speaking?" A surprised look took over her features. She had thought he was asking about the Death Eaters, or more precisely, Harry. She opened her mouth several times, clueless as to what she'd say, but trying to express something. "Did something happen between the two of you?"

She studied him. He deserved to know what was happening between his parents, the truth about why they'd been avoiding each other, but she couldn't tell him. He was too young.

"I-Is it something to due with why the Dark Lord has been so upset with him? Mum, what'd he do?" She closed her eyes briefly while trying to find a way to answer him.

"Draco, your father is upset with me because I've been caring for Harry," she said but stopped as Draco issued a small growl.

"Yeah, well, you've been so busy caring for him it's like I don't exist!" She gasped. Without another second passing, she quickly pulled her son into an embrace.

"Draco! You know better than to believe that I could forget you!" He pulled away from her with a frown. She took his hand in hers and used her free hand to pull his face even with hers. "I love you, Draco."

His eyes widened. He knew that his mother loved him. Unlike other children, he'd never needed to hear his mother express her love in words as she expressed it in her own ways, usually by silently doting on him. Their family very rarely spoke their feelings and almost never voiced that they loved each other. It wasn't necessarily because it was something forbidden, but more that it was a waste of time. Why did the known truth need to be repeated so often with other families?

His cheeks colored as he began to feel slightly foolish. He always complained that he wasn't treated like an adult, yet here he was getting jealous because his mother had been doing what she'd been ordered. However, as he remembered that she was caring for Potter, his feelings felt slightly more justified even if he was acting immature.

"I know, mum, I love you too."

Draco returned his gaze to Potter. "Mum, you haven't answered me yet."

He watched nervously as his mother sighed again. He'd never seen her seem so down before, as she was usually more on top of things.

"Your father is upset with me for doing as I was ordered. I'm upset with him because," she said as she paused and chanced a glance at the unconscious boy beside them. Bringing her right arm up she slowly rubbed at her temple, and moved slowly while catching Draco's eye. "Your father," she began but stopped once more.

She saw the frustration in her son's eyes. Annoyed, he spat out, "Did what?"

"If you were my son, Draco, I'd have backhanded you for that tone." Draco jumped and spun around quickly to see his Aunt Bellatrix coming to join them. Narcissa seemed to relax as she realized her private conversation with her son had now ended. Bellatrix leaned against one of the bedposts while folding her arms across and sending a glare at Draco. "To be honest, I'm not sure why your mother puts up with such behavior." Draco colored again.

"No changes?" She asked before either Narcissa or Draco had the opportunity to respond.

"Nothing," said Narcissa.

Voices echoed in the halls and into the room. "Lucius, see reason. The Dark Lord won't be pleased at all if he finds you near Potter."

Narcissa eyed Bellatrix, who had tensed and pulled her wand close. She still was unaware of what had transpired between Harry and Lucius, but she'd been charged with keeping him unharmed and she'd be damned if she allowed Lucius to hang around. "They must be coming from a different wing. I didn't see them on my way," she whispered to Narcissa, who was listening intently to the words outside the room.

"I don't care, Rodolphus! The horrible little monster is ruining my life! He's spread such lies."

There was silence for a moment before a gruff voice added, "Can't see how the boy would be able to trick the Dark Lord. I say you're the only one lying, Malfoy."

"Shut up, you fool! He's been learning Occlumency, hasn't he? What do you think, Rodolphus?"

"I don't think Potter has learned enough in a few weeks time to adequately hide or deceive the Dark Lord. What you're saying also makes me assume you believe a mere teenager, at the tutelage of our wives, can fool the Dark Lord? … Friends we may be, Lucius, but I'd watch myself if I were you. You're being openly foolish to question our Lord."

Lucius sneered. "You do believe me don't you?"

"As I'm not sure what you're supposed not to have done, how can I answer you?" Rodolphus was the first to enter the room. He took in the sight of his wife, sister-in-law, and nephew sitting around the boy's sleeping form. Greyback followed behind him and was quickly followed by Lucius.

Draco looked cautiously from his mother to his father. Narcissa, like Bellatrix, had also drawn her wand and was keeping it close while eyeing Lucius suspiciously.

"Hello, father." Lucius turned and nodded his greetings to his son.

Narcissa was now giving Lucius such a dirty look that even Bellatrix raised an eyebrow.

"How dare you come in here!" She had walked around the bed and had her wand raised.

Lucius scoffed and drawled, "I believe I'll do whatever I please in my house, Narcissa," he said in a sugarcoated tone. Husband and wife turned as they heard Bellatrix chuckle.

"You'll do as you're ordered, Lucius. The Dark Lord has told you to stay away from Harry!"

Rodolphus gave her a dirty look. "Harry now, is it?"

Bellatrix twirled her wand and replied, "Well, I could call him by another name, but I'm not sure he'd respond. I can test the theory: next time I say asshole, just assume I'm talking to you. If you respond like a good boy, perhaps he will too." She didn't bother restraining herself from rolling her eyes. "What else would you have me call him?"

Rodolphus crossed his arms, a jealous gleam in his eye, but kept silent. It would do no good for any of them to start a row with his wife, or worse yet , to show that he was jealous of a child.

Greyback watched on in amusement as he edged closer to the bed to get a look at the boy. He knew there was no hope that he'd be able to get a taste of the famous boy's flesh, but perhaps if he could see him up close, he'd have an easier time imagining Potter as his claimed his next victim.

"Get out now, Lucius," Narcissa ordered through gritted teeth.

Draco watched the unfolding events with concern. It had only seemed like a small fight had broken out between his parents before, but now he was not sure. His mother seemed really upset. She'd also never raised her wand to his father before.

Draco was distracted when a yelp came from Greyback. They all watched as he backed away from the bed guiltily, sheepishly looking at Bellatrix's raised wand. She was clearly disgusted with the thought that he'd smelled the boy. However, Draco's attention turned back to his parents as his mother spoke once more.

"I'm not warning you again, Lucius!" Lucius gave a loud laugh.

"You've no right to order me around, darling." He quickly lost his cocky look once he realized she wasn't backing down. His tone sounded slightly hysterical, desperate even, the next time he spoke. "I don't know what you've heard, but it's not the truth!"

Narcissa's wand arm dropped slightly. Draco watched, shocked, and petrified of the look on his mother's face. She was beyond anger. Now, she looked terribly distraught as if Lucius's words were physically causing her pain. She shook her head unbelievingly, closing her eyes as she did so, before opening them a few seconds later. This time, however, she was livid and it could be heard in the controlled calm tone that she spoke in.

"I saw what you did, Lucius. The mere thought of it continues to nauseate me."

Everyone watched as Lucius's face fell. He'd figured she'd get over her anger, which he assumed was because he'd made her look bad by upsetting the Dark Lord, and their lives would slowly return to normal. He hadn't been counting on this. He looked around and caught the curiosity on the others' faces, before looking at his son. Draco was watching, terrified and confused, before he placed a hand on his mother's arm and glared at his father. It'd have been silly to assume he knew why his mother was so upset with his father, but the boy couldn't help but feel his mother's resentment and believe that his father had earned this distrust. Lucius quickly masked his emotions once more with a nasty twisted look.

"Draco, step away from your mother, son. She clearly isn't feeling well… she isn't in her right mind."

Narcissa sent a horribly aimed killing curse in Lucius's direction, damning any consequence, but it missed him by about a foot and hit the wall behind him. A big black scorch mark was the only evidence that she'd thrown a curse at all. Father and son cursed and screamed respectively.

Narcissa was shaking uncontrollably, "Get. Out."

Rodolphus interfered before things took a nasty turn. "Lucius, maybe you should just go." Lucius sneered. His eyes grew wide in disbelief and disgust as he eyed each of them and Potter's body, before he turned and left.

"Narcissa?" She didn't respond to Bellatrix immediately. Instead, she bowed her head and rubbed her temples again.

"Draco, it's very late. You should get to bed." Draco opened his mouth to argue, but decided now was not the time and after muttering a goodnight to the room's other occupants, he took his leave.

"What's he done, Cissy?" Narcissa lifted her head, clearly still in the middle of an internal debate, before whispering that she'd fill her sister in when they had less company. Suddenly, she lifted her head and turned to Greyback.

She started to walk toward the door. "I need some fresh air. Will you join me Fenrir? It's been so long since we've talked properly."

Startled, but curious, Fenrir walked with her out of the room. Rodolphus turned to face his incredulous looking wife.

"Cissy's lost her mind!"

Rodolphus, seizing the opportunity to catch his wife alone, walked closer to her and wrapped her in his arms from behind. It didn't matter that she thought so little of him, or that he'd been angry and jealous moments before, as long as he could hold her now. She tugged as if she was going to pull away, but he held her tight. He whispered in her ear, "Haven't been practicing the Dark Arts on her again have you?"

He nipped at her ear before trailing his lips down her neck. She tried to pull away again, but he pulled her in tighter. Truth be told, she wasn't exactly fighting him. It wasn't that she wanted him, but she had missed his touch while in Azkaban. She watched as the door closed and clicked as it locked, knowing that he held his wand in his hand. She sucked in her breath, while dropping her own wand, as he trailed his hand down her stomach and over her robed thigh.

"Rodolphus," she said, troubled by her throaty tone. He growled in response as he suckled on her neck. "Potter is in the room!"

Her husband pulled back quick enough to give a short laugh, remind her that he was clearly unconscious, and then returned to his assault on her body. He hastily threw her robes to the ground.

"Rod," she whispered. Her voice was now filled with need, and he knew that even if she didn't want him, she wouldn't stop his advances. She only ever used this nickname for him when they were about to fuck. "Cissy will be back soon, we'll get caught."

As his robes joined hers on the floor, he replied huskily, "If she's stupid enough to unlock the door, it'll be her own fault." He pulled her green button blouse over her head and kissed her bare shoulder. "Besides, you used to love the thrill of someone being close enough to catch us."

Temporarily forgetting herself, she grinned wolfishly and turned toward him, smacking her lips against his and tasting him for the first time in over a decade. He still tasted of scotch and apple tart. She'd never admit this to anyone, especially not him, but what he lacked as a husband he made up as a lover. She'd never admit to loving him either, simply because she didn't, but she had little to complain about concerning their previous sexual encounters. There was no point trying to hide her lust for him now, after he had reawakened it. Her first priorities after escaping Azkaban had been her Lord, but right this moment…

"Merlin, 'Trix, I've wanted you so bad."

She forcefully ripped his shirt over his head. He pulled her tight against him and she could feel his hardened length. It'd been so long since either of them felt another's touch and the returning feelings were electrifying. She started to pull at his pants, but he pulled his wand from his back pocket and waved it, shedding their remaining clothes. They flopped with a soft thump on the small pile near their feet.

Not wasting any time, Rodolphus pushed her roughly against the wall. She wrapped her legs around his waste, digging her nails into his back as he pushed inside of her. He moaned and pulled back until only the tip of his cock was left within her, before slamming into her again. He started a quick rhythm, which she eagerly met in the beginning. He slid his arm against the wall and supported her with his other arm as he repeatedly thrust into her.

"Oh fuck… Bella."

Rodolphus could feel himself building up to release as he fucked her, moaning at the slap of his skin against hers and the sound her back was making as it hit the wall. He missed the disgusted, unsatisfied look on her face as she stopped trying to gain any pleasure from this debacle and let him finish so she could be rid of him. He threw his head back as he came, lovingly uttering her name. He pulled out and rested his head against Bellatrix's shoulder, feeling her tense beneath him.

She pushed him away from her while walking back to their shed clothing and slipped on her panties.

He slid his hand through his hair nervously, knowing that he'd done something to upset his wife. The cool exterior he kept around others disappeared rapidly, as it did anytime he was in Bellatrix's company for more than a few moments. It was no secret that Rodolphus, cold and collected as he always appeared, worshipped the ground she walked on.

She clicked her tongue. Slipping her robe over her half naked body, she turned to him slowly.

"Apparently," she began slowly, her voice low and dangerous. "Your good looks weren't the only thing Azkaban stole from you. You've also lost your ability to please a woman."

He gasped and his face colored, appropriately looking mortified by her claim. "Bella, I - look, I'm sorry - It's been years… we can try again! I promise it'll be better, I'll be better!"

"My name is Bellatrix!" She gave a harsh laugh. "It used to be your only redeeming quality and now you can't even properly do that! You're worthless! Get out."

"Bellatrix, please!"


"Please, I'll hold out longer!"

"Stop your damned groveling!" She looked infuriated now. Her wand had found its way into her hands. How had that happened? He'd never ever seen her reach over and pick it up. "Just go."

With a rejected look on his face, he slipped on his clothes and sadly made his way toward the door. He gave her one last pleading look as he stepped into the hall, only to be met with her cold, displeased glare.

Narcissa stepped into the room; she was confident that everyone had cleared out by now. She peered on Harry's still sleeping form.

"He woke up earlier," Bellatrix whispered, watching her sister give a startled jump and frantically try to pull for her wand. She breathed out a relieved sigh at seeing her sister and left her wand inside her robes. "It was only for a few seconds. I'm not sure he knew where he was or even how he'd gotten there, but he called for you."

Narcissa looked surprised. "He called for me?"

Bellatrix nodded, standing from the armchair she'd conjured in the corner of the room near the bathroom door. She turned her wrist in a half circular motion. It was now clear that she held a glass of red wine. She had her black hair up in a bun, with her wand tucked securely through it, and she had on a strapless maroon colored dress.

"Why've you dressed up?"

Bellatrix smirked, swishing her wine. She replied, "A good dress goes well with a fine wine. You know this." A pause, "Mainly, for my own entertainment…seeing as some people can't manage that small request." Narcissa drew a blank to what she walked talking about and was quite certain she didn't want to find out. She turned back toward Harry.

"He hasn't done anything since?" Bellatrix shook her head, seeing her sister eye the wine in her hands. "It's a bit late for wine, Bella."

"Don't chastise me, Narcissa!" She raised the glass to her lips and took a sip. "Have you been with Greyback this whole time?"

Narcissa nodded slowly, unsure where her sister was going with this. She occupied herself by lighting a few candles and drawing enough light to properly have a conversation.

"I don't see how you could possibly enjoy his company. He's a half-breed Cissy!" Pausing only to breathe, she started again before her sister could speak. "At least you aren't going around screwing a mudblood." Narcissa's eyes widened, completely appalled by her sister's accusation.

"I'm doing nothing of the sort! I was merely chatting with Greyback… Don't insult me by believing your own nonsense, Bellatrix."

Bellatrix's eyes darkened momentarily, before she merely smiled, as if she knew some great secret that no one else was aware of - or that Narcissa was lying.

"I'm not Andromeda."

"Let's hope you never let yourself become her."

Narcissa gave her sister a dirty look. "You'd accuse me of --"

But Bellatrix was no longer listening. She'd waved her hand dismissively, turned her head and took a long slip of wine. Narcissa glowered, but didn't force the issue. She knew Bellatrix was probably trying to rile her up. Perhaps her own game had just grown tiring?

"No one is around now, Narcissa. Tell me what your husband has done and don't try to talk yourself out of it. I'm not a naïve teenager that you can send on their way."

Narcissa had been expecting this. She knew that it was only a matter of time before Bellatrix asked, or demanded rather, that she be told. It surprised her Bellatrix had held off this long without knowing the truth. She was a very curious person and she had a constant need to know every happening under the Dark Lord's rule.

"Lucius raped Harry," said Narcissa in such a small voice that Bellatrix had to lean in to hear her properly.

Bellatrix drew back quickly; disbelief filled her features, as if she knew she'd heard Narcissa wrong. "He what?"

"He raped Harry. While we had him in the cellar, he raped Harry, and erased Harry's memory of it."

"No, he didn't. What nonsense! Tell me what really happened!" Bellatrix's demand was less severe than it would have been normally. She could tell from Narcissa's tone and by the way her sister was meeting her eyes, not shying away as she would if she were lying, that she was telling the truth.

"He tried to do it again. I'd taken Draco out, just before the Dark Lord took up residence here, and just before you were broken out. I'm not entirely sure what happened, but somehow Harry escaped him that time."

"I don't believe it. I won't. What reason would Lucius have?" Narcissa, who eyes were clouding by that point, just shrugged.

"Harry managed to get away from him, but not before Lucius took pleasure in forcing the memories of what he'd already done into Harry's mind."

The glass of wine in Bellatrix's hand exploded outward. Shards of glass littered the carpet, surrounded by a small puddle of red wine. In the flicker of the candlelight, it looked like spilt blood. Ironically enough, Bellatrix's hand was now bleeding from cuts by the glass. Small droplets of blood ran from her hand and mixed with the wine. She stared down at the creation of blood, glass, and wine with a murderous expression.

"I think he took pleasure in the fact that Harry was suffering before he tried it again." Narcissa sounded numb, temporarily detached from her surroundings, and betrayed by the truth. It was the first time she'd said the words aloud.

Finally, Bellatrix looked up. "Why?"

Again, Narcissa could do nothing but shrug. How was she supposed to know why her husband had molested Harry?

"But… he seemed, normal almost. He's an idiot, a waste of good-talent, but I'd never have thought…I'll kill him!"

Narcissa whipped her head around to meet her sister. "No, you won't."

Bellatrix stared at her incredulously. "You're not defending him are you? Cissy, he may be your husband, but he's no better than those sick muggles!"

Narcissa understood what her sister was thinking. They'd been told the horror stories of filthy muggles forcing themselves on each other. How true the statement was, neither would ever be able to say, because they'd never sink low enough to spend their time in the company of a muggle… unless it was to give them the death they deserved.

While Narcissa was sure that even muggles weren't repulsive enough to view rape as anything sociably acceptable or enjoyable, she knew that wizards viewed it as the ultimate insult. Forcing oneself onto another was atrocious, as they were either underage or were without their wand, meaning that they were not only subjected to a horrible fate, but that they suffered through it while magically defenseless.

There were usually rumors that flew through the Ministry and through blood-traitors that the Dark Lord's henchmen took great pleasure in such disgusting activity with their captives. It was, however, completely untrue. Every person in his ranks despised muggles, their usual victims, and anyone who associated themselves with them. How dare they be accused of touching them in such a way! The only thing they ever inflicted was pain, torture, and death… which didn't involve actually laying their hands on the filth. Perhaps the half-bloods and half-breeds, those that were found worthy enough by the Dark Lord, were to blame for the rumors.

"Of course not! I just think it should be Harry's doing."

It was unfortunate that the Potters, particularly James, had tainted the pure line with mudblood trash. It was also unfortunate that Harry had been raised by muggles and had been taken to Dumbledore's crowd, even being pushed far enough into sharing his beliefs. However, it was nothing they couldn't overlook. Pure blood, though tainted, still ran through his veins. If he was willing to serve the Dark Lord, he was worthy of their trust and companionship. Lucius had done the inexcusable.

"Well, I'll teach him the most horrifying ways to kill a man, then. Lucius Malfoy will suffer for such a sickening act."

Had the mood not been so heavy, Narcissa might have found it amusing that Bellatrix was so upset. Had she not talked down and spat upon anything less than pure blood since she was old enough to understand her superior place in the world? And was she not, in this very moment, defending a boy of half-blood?

Perhaps the thought that worried her the most was that she felt no sympathy for Lucius - for her husband. It was difficult to sympathize, even with their close and personal past, when the man she had trusted wasn't what he'd always appeared. She'd always known him to be the pride and strength that was proper for a Malfoy heir. Well, he hadn't been the only one living under an awful façade, had he? It'd been a recurring theme in their generation.

She reached out and held Harry's hand within her own, vowing that she'd help him, for whatever he needed her help in. Why? She owed him her life and she had a feeling that when all was said and done, she'd owe him much more. She now knew her sister shared her feelings, which was proven by her next words.

"No one messes with Harry Potter. He has the Dark Lord's protection. He has my protection." Narcissa shared a significant look with her sister. She knew exactly what Bellatrix meant because she felt the same way. Harry had, after some suffering, been officially taken under their wing.

I heard a quick gasp and shuffling before Bellatrix quickly said, "Harry?"

I opened my mouth to speak but found that I was able to do little more than grunt in response; my throat ached horribly. Memories slowly jolted through my brain of how I'd been injured. My hands squeezed tightly and my eyes slipped shut at the thought of the Dark Lord's torture, while chills ran through my pain-wracked body.

My eyes snapped open as I felt hands touching my skin. Bellatrix was giving me a questioning look.

"Can you speak?"

I opened my mouth to try again, but still managed nothing more than a grunt that burned my raw throat.

She left my sight and I heard glass clinking over near the desk. She returned a moment later with a few potions.

"Open your mouth, I'll help you swallow these."

My mouth remained closed. Memories of that night were slightly fuzzy, but I remembered Bellatrix trying to persuade the Dark Lord to keep me alive. Obviously, she'd managed successfully. So what were the chances that she was lying about helping me now? Her brows narrowed in what appeared to be anger, but seconds later she looked calm once more.

"Harry," she whispered as she moved closer and brushed my hair off my sweaty forehead with her free hand. Her skin against mine felt cool and soothing. I hadn't noticed how uncomfortably hot I felt before then. "Trust me."

Something in her eyes and her tone of voice convinced me to open my mouth. If it had indeed been some sort of trap, perhaps the potion would kill me and end my misery. However, as I slowly pried my dry mouth open, I felt her hand slip under my neck. She lifted my head forward before tipping it back slowly as she helped pour the potion into my mouth. I swallowed the potions. She set my head back onto the pillow.

"Snape left several potions here for when you woke up. We thought you might be uncomfortable, but there was nothing we could do until you woke up except give you a simple pain-relief potion." Snape? I wanted to question this, but my throat still ached. Yet, I could feel different sort of tingling now. The pain was still there, but it felt as if it was dulling.

See? Wasn't poison after all.

"That one wore off within a few hours, which was three days ago now." I blinked. I'd been out for three days? "The first potion I gave you is more advanced. It'll help relieve the pain and loosen up any stiff muscles. The second will work to repair any minor damages."

The soreness was just a small sting now. I smiled appreciatively.

"Where's Narcissa?" The words came out with in a choked whisper.

"She's taken Draco shopping for school supplies."

A bout of depression washed over me at the thought of the new Hogwarts year. It was very unlikely that I'd be attending Hogwarts again anytime soon or if I'd ever return at all. I tried pushing these thoughts aside for now, intently focusing on the woman nursing me back to health.

From personal experience and whispers I'd heard floating throughout the halls or even mumbles from Narcissa, I knew that Bellatrix was usually a nasty piece of work. With this realization, it was easy to assume that she wasn't an overly caring or affectionate person… so why was she watching me with so much concern?

As her eyes bore into mine, she asked, "How are you?" Unsure of exactly how, but certain that I'd not used any form of Legilimency, I knew in that instant that she'd been told truth.

As it was easier to avoid the subject, I ignored the question and croaked out, "Water."

The cool water sliding down my throat, courtesy of a house elf, relaxed me once more. I had several questions, things I needed explained, but sleep was simply becoming overwhelming. I gave Bellatrix one last look before turning onto my side and falling into sleep.

I hadn't realized how hungry I'd been until Narcissa placed a plate of steak, carrots and boiled potatoes, with Yorkshire pudding as desert, on my lap. It was the most appetizing meal I'd eaten the entire time I'd been at Malfoy Manor. I sighed contently as Bellatrix and Narcissa watched over me.

After Narcissa returned with her brat yesterday, neither woman had left the room for more than a few minutes at a time, and I knew they were keeping a close eye on my health. However, I felt they were both overly anxious, because I was feeling great. The pain I'd experienced when I woke up had gone and I could talk and move freely without groaning. I'd woken up and fallen back to sleep several times during the night, allowing them to give me a potion when they felt it was necessary. It was nice to be wide-awake now, without being overcome with the urge to sleep.

"Are you still hungry?" Narcissa's question was quiet. I shook my head, while a small frown appeared on my face. The transition she had undergone from a cold-hearted bitch to a jittery motherly figure didn't suit her and was quickly becoming bothersome.

Turning my attention elsewhere, I saw Bellatrix throwing her wand up into the air and catching it with a look of complete boredom. She was slumped into a dark gray armchair in the corner of the room. I assumed she was probably unaware of her actions, because she caught the wand robotically while staring at the bathroom door.

"Where's my wand?"

I watched as Bellatrix's own wand clattered to the ground, as she'd been jerked back into her surroundings by my loud voice. She bent over and picked it up as I crawled to my feet. It was the first time I'd gotten out of bed since being placed there and it felt wonderful that I could stand freely again.

She pulled my wand from within her robes and threw it over to me. I waved it around a few times, watching sparks fly from the tip while I appreciated having it in my possession once more. I'd had it so briefly during our time at the Ministry.

"You told me the Dark Lord has allowed me to live, but I don't understand why. He seemed pretty intent on doing me in."

"We've convinced him that you're still useful. He was furious at first, but he eventually saw reason and he's allowing me to teach you the Dark Arts."

Bellatrix was watching me for some kind of reaction after she spoke. A grateful smile appeared on my face.

"Thank you," I whispered. She snorted and rolled her eyes.

"Will I be a Death Eater?" Bellatrix looked uncertain.

"He may have you take the dark mark."

"Will I still be learning Occlumency?"

"Yes," Bellatrix spoke slowly, nodding her head as if unsure. "It's an important skill to have and if you somehow managed to get yourself caught…" She trailed off and began pacing. She did so for several minutes before stopping abruptly and turning toward me, "We'll be reviewing your defense knowledge as well. The Ministry and Dumbledore are both frantically searching for you; we'll have to change locations soon. The Dark Lord has men planted in the Ministry, slowly working on making it ours, but the Manor will be checked soon."

"They've already come."

Bellatrix jerked her head to look at Narcissa in disbelief, outrage written on her features at just now finding out this news. Narcissa quickly dove into an explanation.

"There were three of them. I was planning on Confunding them and sending them back to the Ministry--"

"You should have killed them!"

"Oh yes, I'm sure that wouldn't have drawn the Ministry's suspicion at all!"

I watched partly in amusement and partly bemused as the women glared at each other. I coughed, trying to get their attention, but when that didn't work I asked what happened next.

"I was going to Confund them into believing they'd checked the manor and found nothing of suspicious nature. It wouldn't have kept them away for long, but long enough to warn the Dark Lord!"

"So what stopped you? When was this?"

"I'm a fair dueler, Harry, much better than most people would give me credit for, but I don't think I could have taken three Aurors unawares. It would have been extremely difficult to blindside them by myself." She paused, and threw a dirty look in her sister's direction, who had been opening her mouth, probably about to boast that she'd have been able to take them. "It was this morning, by the way."

"This morning! And you left me to sit here uselessly while the Ministry tried to search the manor!?"

Narcissa chose not to answer her sister. "Rookwood came along. It took a few seconds before they realized who he was, but it was enough for us to start exchanging curses. Rookwood did kill one of them, some young smallish man. I've no idea his name. I managed to down Dawlish, who'd been sending stunners and the like so frantically that he'd hit his other comrade. We set to work on Confunding the remaining two into believing everything checked out and that they'd sent the young one home ill. Greyback took his body, I think."

"We'll only have until the Ministry discovers the young one missing." Bellatrix looked furious as she spoke these words. She started muttering about the nerve of her sister and how she dared to wait so long to tell her about all of this.

"I've alerted the Dark Lord. He's been placing stronger wards around the manor for the past few hours. He's also set Lucius and Yaxley the task of imperusing Ministry workers. Our takeover has got to happen quicker than we planned originally, though that may work in our favor."

"Lucius and Yaxley! He's left those bumbling morons with such an important task! I could--"

Narcissa interrupted her, knowing exactly where she'd been headed with that line of thought. "And just how do you plan on doing it, Bella? Are you going to waltz into the Ministry in broad daylight? You'd be hauled to the nearest Dementor!"

"I'd find a way to do it…they'll bungle something up for sure!" She was breathing heavily, anger rolling off of her in waves. I put a hand on her shoulder and she turned and glared at me. I was tempted to pull away, but I held my ground.

"There's nothing you can do as a wanted woman, Bellatrix."

"But Lucius, Narcissa!" Narcissa's eyes flashed dangerously, similar to what her sister's were doing, but she shook her head.

She added, "I'm sorry, Bella, there's nothing you can do now. You'll get your chance once we've taken the Ministry."

We've got to leave the manor.

"Shouldn't we be leaving here?" Narcissa nodded.

"Yes, the Dark Lord has said as much. The problem is finding another place to go."

A slow, out-of-place smile crept onto Bellatrix's face. "Kreacher!"

I jumped as a tiny house-elf appeared with a loud crack. He was old, older than Dobby, which showed with his white wispy hair. His pale skin was hanging around his frame, spilling out of the dirty rags he was wearing, as he looked up at Bellatrix with bloodshot eyes.

"Miss Bella?"

Bellatrix smiled down at the house-elf. I found it all very odd, because I'd seen her treating the house-elves around the manor like trash. I looked at Narcissa to see her eyes beaming.

"Kreacher, what's become of Grimmauld Place?"

"Mistress's house is silent, Miss Bella. Mistress and Master Regulus have left Kreacher all alone!" He wailed in a deep voice.

"Can you take us there?"

Kreacher nodded. "Miss Bella, you are Kreacher's new Mistress. Grimmauld Place belongs to you."

"Of course! I hadn't even thought of it!" She turned to Narcissa excitedly, "With Sirius dead and no more male heirs, I've inherited the house as the eldest Black! We'll go there!"

I looked at the hideous looking house-elf. "Won't the Ministry find us there as well?"

Bellatrix shook her head. "It is very unlikely. The house is unplottable and I'll be the secret keeper once we arrive. The Ministry might know of the house, but it'll be impossible to search something they can't find."

"I'm bringing Draco." Bellatrix started to retort, but settled for mumbling about the house, empty as it was, not being big enough to escape her sister's insufferable brat.

"Fine, fine, gather all your belongings. I'm going to check with master for his approval." She turned to Kreacher and added, "Will you take our personal effects over?"

The house-elf nodded eagerly.

Bellatrix disappeared into the hall as Narcissa began issuing out instructions for Kreacher. "I'd appreciate it if you'd clean Grimmauld up a bit before we depart. I'm near certain that it's not in any kind of shape to live in."

"Of course, Miss Cissy!" Kreacher bounced on his small feet, apparently eager to help 'Miss Cissy' and vanished with a crack.

Apparation with a house-elf was just as unpleasant as Side-Along with Bellatrix had been. I clutched at my stomach as I took in my surroundings. We were all standing, huddled, in a dark hall near a huge set of dark and dusty stairs. The air smelled musty. Beside me, I could feel Malfoy cringe. He'd obviously never been in such horrendous surroundings.

"Mum," he whined. "This place is atrocious!"

Narcissa had a similar look to her son as she took in the house's appearance. Kreacher, who'd been working on cleaning things up until he'd been called, had immediately scuttled back to the manor to transport our luggage. I was having difficulty accepting that Kreacher had done any cleaning, as there was not a clean spot in our view.

Bellatrix scoffed at Draco. "Then stop your whining and do something about it! Like it or not, we'll be staying here for a while."

Draco looked appalled at the thought that he'd have to clean. He turned to his mother with a horrified expression.

"What's the matter, Malfoy, afraid you'll break a nail?"

He turned and glared at me. "Shut your mouth, Scarhead."

Ignoring the dirty look I was receiving from Narcissa and the laughter coming from Bellatrix, I moved closer toward Draco, getting in his face.

"Make me, Malfoy. You aren't so big and bad without those two apes standing behind you! And daddy isn't here to protect you this time either."

Malfoy raised his wand and I raised mine.

"Draco, put your wand down!" Narcissa was shrieking. I scowled at him, silently challenging him to ignore his mum and fight. Unbelievably, he seemed to have accepted.

"Rictusempra!" I blocked the spell with 'Protego' and sent "Tarantallegra!" back at him. Draco didn't have time to dodge it as it came toward him and the next instant his legs were squirming about uncontrollably. Narcissa, still shrieking, sent Finite Incantantem toward her son.

"Both of you stop this instant! Bellatrix, say something!" But Bellatrix was too busy watching the scene in amusement and didn't say a word.

Malfoy glared at me, looking like a miniature version of his father, and I wanted to hurt him. I raised my wand and started to shout the Cruciatus Curse, but Malfoy had shouted out "Serpensortia!" before I'd finished. It was probably for the best anyway, as I wasn't keen on upsetting Narcissa as much as torturing her son would have done. I laughed as a black snake fell from his wand and gave him a questioning look. The snake began slithering toward me.

"Are you stupid, Malfoy!? Did you forget?" I turned toward the snake and hissed, "Stop!" The snake stopped slithering and looked up at me for instruction. "Attack the other boy!" I was certain the women would take care of the snake before it actually reached him.

The snake turned and began slithering toward Malfoy, it's head raised higher with fangs barred, and sure enough Bellatrix finally raised her wand. The reptile vanished in a puff of black smoke, just as Snape had vanished the one from a couple of years ago.

The women were staring at me curiously. Narcissa, despite being angry, looked mystified. Bellatrix, however, was the one who spoke. "You're a Parselmouth!"

I nodded, suddenly overwhelmed and uncomfortable with the three of them watching me. "Yeah, but so is the Dark Lord."

"I know," said Bellatrix. "I didn't mean it as a bad thing. I wish I had the ability." Narcissa looked at her sister fearfully.

"You'd want to speak to snakes?" Bellatrix nodded.

I put my hands in the pockets of the robe I was wearing and stared at the floor, desperate to change the conversation away from me. "So, um, this place is absolutely charming."

Bellatrix raised her hand in a dirty gesture and beckoned me to follow her as she pointed out my new room.

A/N 2: Sorry it's been so long since the last update. This semester has been a horrible headache.. I can't wait until it's over!! Updates will be coming slower, but I'll try and get them out as quickly as possible.

Next chapter: Jattu (I mean Harry, that's what I get for not paying attention as I type..lol) will begin learning the Dark Arts. Also, I think it's about time to see some reactions and interactions between certain people. I've drawn it on long enough.

Lastly, thank you all for reading! I usually don't beg for reviews, but I do appreciate them, especially seeing as this story has nearly 15,000 hits and only 80 reviews. :-/