Many, many thanks to emma-juliefan for betareading.

I'm sorry it took me so incredibly long to post this. I will try to update more frequently in the future.

Chapter 6

Harry and Bellatrix stared at each other, for minutes it seemed, both realizing the meaning of her words. The silence was in many ways worse than the shouting. Harry was unable to move, not able to believe what she had actually said, not wanting it to be true; despite the fight, he didn't want it to end… not like this.

However, the way she looked at him was undeniable. Get out of my house before I hex you, her burning eyes said, wordlessly.

"Fine," Harry shouted at last. "If that's what you want, FINE!"

He was trembling with anger that was stronger than the unfamiliar feeling that had been a part of him for two years. After one last glance, he turned around and left the house, slamming the door behind him angrily.

A nagging voice inside his head told him that what he was doing was a mistake, but he defended his actions by convincing himself that she was wrong too, that he didn't have to be fair because she wasn't either.

Again Hedwig zoomed around his head, as if she was trying to prevent him from walking away. However, Harry couldn't be stopped and he simply ignored the owl, trying to hide his disappointment by blaming Bellatrix for the unexpected developments, which had hurt him so much.

Harry walked away from the cottage and resisted looking back; he was completely oblivious to the rain that now soaked his clothes and hair. When he couldn't see the house anymore and his rage had slowly decreased, he sat down in the sand, hoping that the rain would wash away the growing guilt and a strange feeling of incompleteness he was experiencing.

But it didn't. Reason was taking over again and he couldn't deny it anymore: he had hurt both Bellatrix and himself deeply by offending her and leaving her like this, just because she didn't want to tell him everything about her life.

Slowly he realized how foolish and immature his behavior had been, but he couldn't forget what Bellatrix had done either; she had made it clear that she didn't want his companionship any longer. It was rather weird since she had stated less than twenty-four hours ago that she had wanted him to stay.

He remained lying in the sand, his eyes closed, and tried to consider the nature of his relationship (or lack of it) with Bellatrix Black Lestrange. Hedwig sat next to him now, sympathizing with him.

"You like her, don't you?" he asked the owl. "Stealing our necklaces... quite a matchmaker you are, aren't you?"

Hedwig looked at him as if she wanted to say something.

"Alright, I have missed her… I just seem to long for her all the time; but it's so wrong. There are so many differences… I'm so much younger than her… and I think it's quite a miracle we haven't actually tried to kill each other. She can be so very… well."

Harry felt ridiculous for talking to his owl like this - like he was still an insecure teenager, but he didn't really know what else to do.

He ignored his apparently disapproving owl for a while and remained lying on the ground, enjoying the drops of water that fell on his face.

"I shouldn't have come here," he continued after a few minutes. "During the two years that we hadn't seen each other, things have changed so much. What might have been going on between us is… And it was so wrong to begin with, so I should just…"

Suddenly Hedwig looked up to a point in the distance, and spread her wings to fly away.

"Yeah, why not, leave me too," Harry shouted to his owl, while he tried to ignore the sudden loneliness he was experiencing. "I'm gonna leave," he muttered angrily. "This is madness. I feel even worse than before. I lied to everybody to protect that woman and now to go back to her, and just see what..."

He shrugged and forbade himself to say one more word because he was making a complete fool of himself by trying to justify his own actions to himself. He couldn't stand to be in that place any longer. He wanted to go back to Hogwarts before he could do something stupid again. Harry had to admit to himself that he should've been nicer to Bellatrix and that she wouldn't have reacted the way she had if he had have been a little bit more understanding.

But he persuaded himself that it was too late to apologize and that he'd better return to Hogwarts before Professor Dumbledore could be angry with him too. Harry knew that he had a lot to explain to his former Headmaster, but he knew the man well and that he would be forgiven in the end. That was very much unlike Bellatrix, which was another reason that suddenly, he wanted nothing more than to go back to his old school again.

His belongings, even his wand, were still in Bellatrix' house, so he needed to go back there first. Harry wasn't looking forward facing her now, scared of how she might react, but he obviously couldn't leave without his possessions. So, reluctantly, he headed back to the cottage.

When he was close enough, he peeked into the house through the large window on the front. Luckily, Bellatrix wasn't there.

Harry entered the house, not caring for the drops of water that fell on to the floor and the muddy footprints he created there.

He directly walked towards the table where he had put his wand yesterday, but to his bewilderment, it wasn't there. And his broom, which had been in the corner near the kitchen, wasn't there either.

Quickly, he scanned the room and sighed with relief as he spotted his belongings on the couch. He hurried over to them and picked up his wand, the Invisibility cloak, his broom and the still unpacked bag. Bellatrix had gathered all of his belongings on the couch near the door, it was evident that she wanted Harry to leave immediately.

However, there was another object on the couch - one that didn't belong to him. It was one of the books that he had thrown at her, the one she had been reading earlier. This confused him. Curious, he opened the book and to his surprise, she had written his name on the first page.

Only then he saw that a bookmark was inside I. Not able to resist, he turned to that page and scanned the text. He had absolutely no idea what the book was about, especially not that chapter, and why she had chosen that chapter. He wondered whether it had a special meaning, but he started reading anyway.

"It doesn't matter," the girl said. "It wouldn't have worked between us anyway. I'm looking for something that'll last and isn't over after a few wild nights. And even if you say you won't, I just know you'll leave me sooner or later."

"Of course I will," the prince said.

The girl's mouth formed the word 'see', but he gestured her to let him finish speaking.

"What I'm saying, is that sooner or later you'll die, or I'll die… eventually one of us will leave the other behind because of something we have no control over. We don't want that to happen, but it does. The only thing we can do is to savor in the moments of happiness we find in the meantime."

The girl sighed.

"Yes, that's all very nice, but I'm just a girl. You're a prince, a future king. We aren't meant to be together."

"And who decides that?" The prince asked softly. "You? Me?"

"No," she said, "but…"

"My love, it's only about you and me, so why care about what others might think?"

She looked at him and when she saw the sincerity and love in his eyes, she smiled. "So you don't mind that I'm only a poor girl and that you'll never become a wealthy prince if you marry me?"

"We won't be rich in the literal meaning of the word, but I'll feel better than the wealthiest man in the world if I have you at my side."

Harry's eyes widened when he read the words. He was mesmerized because he had never thought that Bellatrix would read this kind of book, but of course it was the meaning of the words that shocked him most. He realized that the girl and the prince in the book, no matter how silly they seemed, were right.

The chapter continued, but Harry closed the book. It was clear what the story was meant to reflect.

He let himself fall down on the couch, cursing himself for his own stupidity because he hadn't had the courage to find out what his feelings for the former Death Eater actually meant.

He shut his eyes tightly, hoping that he could undo the major quarrel. It was impossible of course, but he did realize that everything wasn't over yet. Horrible things had been said and trust had been damaged, but it wasn't lost, not as long as one of them was able to admit his or her mistakes first.

As he took a deep breath, Harry decided that he would be that first person. It was becoming more and more clear to him that Bellatrix Black was the woman he truly seemed to love, whether it was normal, destined and acceptable or not.

Automatically he put his wand in his pocket before he stood up and then he looked around in the living room for any clues of the place Bellatrix might be. There weren't any, so he walked upstairs, to the small attic; maybe she would've left a message in her bedroom.

When he climbed the few steps to her room, he immediately saw that Bellatrix wasn't there. The room was small and if there was someone, even if that person tried to hide, he would've noticed. However, there was something that did catch his attention.

On the white sheets of her bed was a knife; he recognized it as the one that she had placed against his throat earlier. The blade had been a clean, shiny, silver then, but now it was covered in blood. It was Bellatrix' blood - he intuitively knew.

A few seconds Harry just stood there, completely in shock, wondering what possibly could've happened during the hour that he had been away. Had there been people hiding near the house, waiting until Harry was gone before they attacked Bellatrix? Had someone planned to do this and was it just coincidence that he spotted the knife or was there someone who wanted him to find it?

Whatever was happening, Bellatrix needed his help. And whether she was still angry with him or not, whether she would want him to or not, he was determined to find her and save her from whatever had hurt her – or worse.

When he took his wand in his hand and hastily left the attic, he was filled with worry for Bellatrix and anger for whoever was responsible for hurting her. He was willing to risk his life to kill anybody who had harmed her, even if it was Voldemort himself.

Harry ran outside the house, holding his wand tightly, but he didn't feel the pain in his hands.

He looked around, hoping to see anything that would reveal something extraordinary that could give him some information that he would need to find Bellatrix and her attackers. But nowhere ahead was something unusual visible.

Only when he looked down, he spotted a red part in the sand. He didn't need to investigate the ground to know what had caused the different color.

He stared at the blood in horror, realizing that apparently Bellatrix had still been bleeding when she was forced to leave the cottage. He scanned the ground, thus noticing that a few yards away from the small pool of blood were a few drops of redness and relatively close to that, another few. They were faded as a result of the rain, but Harry could see that they formed some kind of trail, as a last memory of the fact that Bellatrix had walked there.

The distance between the drops of blood grew and the few foot prints which were visible in the sand told Harry that the person who had passed there had been running, but there were too many imprints of rain drops in the stand to be able to tell how many people had been there.

While he ran, following the footsteps, he cursed his own foolishness from earlier again. If he hadn't been so stupid, if he just had have listened to Bellatrix… After all, she had been right about them, but he had been too scared to admit it.

He could only hope now that it wasn't too late to find her and that she was still alive, or better, unharmed. And if he didn't arrive on time, the least he could do was torture Bellatrix' attackers before they could escape.

Anger controlled him, but not the familiar rage he had felt in the past, but a calm and determined wish to hurt, to kill.

The faded imprints of feet in the sand led towards a small pile of rocks on a cliff. Who or what had attacked Bellatrix, was there behind the rocks, unless they had flown away, taking the woman with them, but there was no sign of that. Harry slowed down, catching his breath as he raised his wand. Soundlessly, he sneaked closer, approaching the rocks carefully.

He could feel everything around him in a way he had never done before. He was completely aware of everything: the chilly air, the rain, even the salty taste of the wind that cooled his skin. They all seemed to be watching him, to wait for his next move. And somehow, it felt right. Never before he had been so determined, so filled with confidence.

While he made himself ready to move towards the place behind the rocks where Bellatrix and her attackers probably were, he wondered what kind of curse he would use against whoever had hurt the woman he had somehow grown to love; a simple expelliarmus charm just wouldn't do in this case. The Cruciatus Curse… that would serve them right. And he would mean it this time.