Chapter 30 - Forgiveness

The battle raged all around Bellatrix Lestrange as she searched the hallways of Hogwarts castle.

She hardly noticed the bangs, crashes and flashes of lights... the large holes in some of the walls... the spiders... the chaos that abounded through the whole castle. She was too focused on trying to find Draco. She couldn't let him get hurt. She just couldn't. Besides... she had promised her sister.

Bella figured her old common room... the Slytherin Common Room was the best place to start her search so she headed towards the dungeon. She took a moment to pause in the shadows and cast a Disillusionment Charm on herself. Now she could move through the castle without interruption.

Suddenly Bella heard a familiar voice. "I'm Draco Malfoy. I'm Draco… I'm on your side" she heard form u ahead. She darted around the corner to see Draco standing on a landing pleading with a masked Death Eater.

As she watched the Death Eater crumpled, stunned and Draco looked around happily for the person who had done it. Suddenly he crumpled back onto the Death Eater, mouth bloody and expression thoroughly confused.

Draco flinched as he felt someone grabbed his arm, hauling him to his feet. He yelled in shock as the hand on his arm started to pull him down the hall. "Shush" hissed Bella in his ear. His eyes widened. "Auntie?" he said surprisedly. She loosened her grip as he stopped fighting her.

"Come on..." she whispered in his ear. He walked quickly... thinking how weird it was to be lead by someone he couldn't see. They went downwards and he could tell she was leading him towards the dungeons.

"You didn't punch me did you?" he asked throatily as they hurried along the corriadors. "No" she whispered "And it wasn't me who saved your ass either" she finished.

Suddenly they were at the entrance to the Slytherin Common Room. "Password?" asked the portrait sniffily. "Parseltongue" said Draco quietly. It swung open to admit him. Bella let go of him, darting in behind him just as the portrait swung shut.

Once inside she scanned the room. It was empty and silent. Everyone had either left or was fighting. She removed the Disillusionment charm. Draco watched as she became visible, his pale, handsome face weary... and serious. He looked very grown up all of a sudden. It made her rather sad to see someone so young look so weary... so jaded.

"Hold still" she said imperiously. "Episkey" she muttered, fixing his bruised mouth."Tergeo" she said quickly, siphoning off the blood. He mumbled something that could have been 'thanks.'

For a moment there was silence, the two of them just looking at each other.

"What do you want Bella?" he asked in a rather flat voice. "I want you to stay out of the battle" she said simply, voice even, but face showing her worry for him.

His face softened and there was surprise in his blue eyes. "What?" he said in a soft, unbelieving voice. It was clear whatever he had been expecting wasn't that.

"I don't want you to get hurt..." she said softly, taking a step towards him. "I have to... I have to fight..." he said in a firm voice, Only his face showed how tempted he was to do what she asked.

"Please..." she said pleadingly. "I can't fight... if I don't know your safe..." she said truthfully, dark eyes sad and concerned.

He took three steps towards her and kissed her... hard... on the mouth. The way he kissed her told her more than anything how touched he was by her concern for him. He pulled her close as she kissed him back... sliding her arms around his neck. He kissed her until she was breathless, until nothing else existed but his mouth on hers and the feeling of his arms around her.

A second... or an eternity later they pulled apart.

A ghost of a smile passed over her face. "Does that means yes?" she asked gently. He nodded.

"Take this" she said firmly, pressing a tiny glass bottle filled with gold liquid into his hand. "Is that..." he asked surprisedly. "Yes... Felix Felicis" she said matter-of-factly, "I nicked it from Snivelly's stores" she said with just a trace of smugness.

A smile curled the corners of his mouth but was replaced with worry. "You can't give to me... you need it... you going to be in the middle of the fighting.." he urged her. She closed his hand around the tiny bottle. "It yours" she said it a tone that allowed no argument. He put it in his robes. "Thank you" he said gratefully.

She turned to go, her robes sweeping out behind her. Before she could take a step his hand closed on her wrist. She turned, looking at him... her gaze both longing and questioning.

"Don't get yourself killed" he said softly, his face full of love and concern.

Her face softened and she pulled him to her, her lips meeting his once more. She kissed him like she never wanted to let him go... like he was the only thing that mattered. Like the fact he cared about her was the only thing that mattered. And it was. She never been loved before. Hated... feared... respected... liked... wanted... but never loved. And she was only just starting to realize how much that meant to her.

He gently pulled away... the look on his face saying that he could he'd never let go.. but he knew she had duties she must fulfill. "Go..." he whispered, vocie slightly hoarse.

She let him go and walked to the door. At the door she turned around, unable to stop herself looking back... just once. But she wouldn't say goodbye... she couldn't.

And as their eyes met she couldn't shake the feeling that it was the last time she'd see him. She wanted to tell him she loved him… but she couldn't say that either.

It seemed to her that 'sorry' was not the hardest word. The hardest word was 'goodbye.'