A/N: Okay, so here it is, the final part of the Crucio series! You don't really have to read the rest of it to know what's going on here, but if you're reading this one without the rest and if you like what you read, then please do go check out the rest! :D Personally I don't like the way this one ends, but let me know what you think of it! :D

Crucio: Stories

If anyone asks me who my Aunt Bellatrix was, I'd tell them the stories that Mother told me. She told me stories about Aunt Bellatrix all the time, and for a while all I knew of Aunt Bellatrix was the woman in the stories.

Aunt Bellatrix meant the world for Mother as a child. That much I gathered. Mother practically worshipped her. But after she got married and had me, I guess Father and I had to become her top priorities.

In all her stories, Aunt Bella was the greatest person ever: she was an explorer who discovered an entire town of Muggles living in their cellar; she defeated banshees and werewolves and dragons; she taught Mother and Aunt Andromeda how to make the most of house elves…

I began to see Aunt Bella in the same way too. I looked up to Aunt Bella, this imaginary persona who existed as nothing more than a character in a story. I looked forward to the day when I would finally get to meet her.

Of course, that day wasn't all that I expected it to be.

Draco Malfoy knew, as he entered Malfoy Manor, that Aunt Bellatrix would be waiting there for him. Mother had sent him a letter while he was in Hogwarts.

His heart beat erratically, in trepidation, in excitement, in apprehension, in anticipation, he didn't know which. He didn't know what to expect. After sixteen years in Azkaban, what would Aunt Bella look like? Mother had always described her as tall, beautiful, with deep-set brown eyes and long, curly black hair.

He paused at the door, looking around him at the familiar house. The foyer was strangely empty; no house elves running around, no Narcissa waiting for him at the bottom of the stairs, flying towards him with her arms outstretched and her blonde hair like a billowing cape behind her.

He felt awkward, standing there all alone, and he shoved his hands into his pockets, wondering where he was supposed to be.

There was a soft 'crack!' beside him, and he looked down to see the new house elf standing there, looking up at him expectantly.

"G-g-g-good evening, Master Draco," the house elf (Tinky? Slinky? Snarky? Draco couldn't remember its name) squeaked. "Mistress Narcissa would likes you to come to the drawing room and meet Mistress Bellatrix."

Draco didn't like the new house elf so much. He nodded sharply and headed off to the drawing room. Behind him, he heard the house elf struggling with his bags. He smirked.

The portraits along the corridors sent various comments his way, ranging from "Good to have you home, Draco," to "Haven't they been feeding you enough at Hogwarts?" and even "You look as queer as your father!" (Draco shot a death glare at that last portrait, of his great-grandfather Pollux Black. Draco never really liked him.) Draco had stopped acknowledging the portraits' comments years ago, and he wasn't about to acknowledge them now.

He paused outside the drawing room.

"Lighten up, Cissy!" an unfamiliar voice said with a laugh.

The laughter sent chills down his spine and goosebumps up and down his arms. It sounded like nails grating on a window pane.

Pretending that he hadn't felt anything, he pushed open the door and stepped in.

The three heads in the room, two blonde, one brunette, turned to him. The tall brunette lady with crazy hair and crazy eyes, who he was assuming was Aunt Bella, squealed and was instantly in front of him.

Draco resisted the urge to pull away as she put her hands to his face.

"This must be little Draco!" she squealed again. She pinched his cheeks and ruffled his hair and turned his face this way and that, muttering comments under her breath as she did. Then all of a sudden she stopped and looked into his eyes, staring into them silently for a moment. "Do you remember me?" she finally asked, beaming at him.

"Aunt…Aunt Bellatrix?" He forced a smile, trying hard to not recoil from her cold touch.

She whirled around to look at Narcissa, who had risen and stood watching them, a hand on the chair she had just vacated. "Oh, he does remember me!" she said happily, clapping her hands.

Narcissa smiled. "Of course he does, Bella," she reassured her sister. "After all the things I told him about you…remember the time –"

Bellatrix burst into laughter. In the blink of an eye she was in front of Narcissa, holding her hands. "Oh, of course! And that time when…!"

It was Narcissa's turn to laugh. "Oh, those were the days!"

That couldn't have been his Aunt Bellatrix, Draco thought, backing away. She was so…repulsive. How could she be the woman that his mother had told him about?

Aunt Bellatrix wanted us to get back into the Dark Lord's good graces. She had all these ideas, these plans for us. Or for me, rather.

"What?" Draco asked in disbelief, staring at Bellatrix in horror.

"It's the only way!" she insisted. She turned to Narcissa. "Cissy, you understand, don't you? And you, Lucius? Surely you understand that this is the only thing we can do?"

Lucius fixed his cold grey eyes on his son. "Bellatrix is right. Draco, you are a Death Eater now. You have to prove yourself to the Dark Lord."

"There has to be another way," Narcissa pleaded, squeezing her son's shoulder. "You cannot let Draco do this, Lucius."

"Cissy!" Bellatrix sighed. "This is the only way!"

"He's not a murderer!" Narcissa pressed. "He doesn't have to do this! Bella, please, he's my baby!"

"Oh, you make her understand, Lucius!" Bellatrix turned away from them, rubbing her temples.

Narcissa looked at Lucius, tears in her eyes. "He's our son, Lucius, he's our only son."

Draco sat down at the table, swallowing. He looked from his mother to his father to his aunt, then down at his hands. He could hear his mother trying to reason with his father, he could hear Bellatrix muttering under her breath, but he wasn't listening to them.

He clenched his teeth. There was only one thing he could do.

"I'll do it."

The adults fell silent and turned to him.

"I'll do it," he repeated, more firmly this time. He looked up at them. "I can do it."

Narcissa covered her mouth as the tears spilled. "Draco…"

Bellatrix beamed. "Excellent. Lucius, go to the Dark Lord immediately, and tell him that Draco will do it!"

There must have been other ways to get back into the Dark Lord's good books. But no one had any other ideas. So that's how Aunt Bellatrix convinced all of us that I would be the one to kill Dumbledore.

She was crazy, Aunt Bellatrix. I think a part of me never really believed that she was my aunt. No aunt would have loved an evil wizard more than their own nephew.

If anyone asks me who my Aunt Bella was, I'd tell them the stories that Mother told me. That wouldn't be what they'd want to hear, but that's who she was for me.

Aunt Bella was the woman in my mother's stories. Bellatrix Lestrange wasn't real.

-|end|-

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