Chapter 30 - Escape

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 from up 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 corridors. "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 bluntly, voice flat, blue eyes piercing her.

"The last time we spoke I thought you would never forgive me. But when you saw me… hurt… you got upset. Why?" she asked gently. "You already know" he sighed.

"You still love me…" she said softly, her face suggesting it was confirmation of what she already knew. Hope flickered over her face for a brief moment.

"If there was a way… for us to be together… away from all this… what would you do?" she asked, taking a step closer, eyes fixed on his. "Anything…" he said truthfully… his voice almost a whisper.

"I promised your Mother I'd make sure you stayed out of the fighting" she said evenly. Surprise spread over his face. He didn't think his Mother and Aunt were even talking to each other. "I don't want you to get hurt…" she said sincerely, concern etched on her lovely face.

His face softened as he saw how much she still cared about him. Clearly she cared more about keeping him alive than she did having another Death Eater to help her Lord win the battle.

"Please…stay out of the fighting" she asked, voice almost pleading. "How can I stay out of the fighting when I know you'll be in the thick of it? What if you get hurt? Or killed?" he said quietly, the same fear… the same concern on his face.

"Because I won't be fighting…" she said simply, taking a step back and pulling out her wand. Black smoke poured from her wand as she muttered an incantation. The smoke grew until it was a twisting column the same height as Bella.

The smoke abruptly cleared… revealing a second Bellatrix Lestrange..

"She will" said the real Bella, a trace of smugness in her voice. He gaped at the doppelganger, It was indistinguishable from her. If he hadn't known he would have been fooled.

"How?" he said in a startled voice. "A very difficult and little known piece of dark magic" she said casually.

"Can it… talk?" he asked curiously. "Of course I can" said the double in a perfect imitation of Bella's most imperious manner. It was uncanny.

"It has no will of its own so the spellcaster must impress it with instructions before letting it loose" Bella said matter-of-factly. "For example you could get it to fight by the Dark Lord's side… kill as many Order Members as possible… and then… when the battle has gone one way of the other… let one of them kill it.." she said, pausing to let her words sink in.

Comprehension dawned on his face. "You're going to fake your death…" he said, his tone rather admiring as he considered the simplicity and cleverness of her plan… not to mention the magical skill required to pull it off.

"Won't someone realize it's not you? What will happen to it?" he asked, a trace of worry and skepticism in his voice. "Even you wouldn't be able to tell the difference… and it will last 24 hours after its 'killed'… long enough for it to be buried under my name" she said. His expression suggested he was satisfied with that answer.

"It's the only way for you to escape isn't it?" he asked simply.

"Of course it is. No matter which side wins… no matter where I go… if everyone knows I'm alive I'll have to spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder. I'd rather die than face the Dark Lord's wrath… or spend the rest of my life in Azkaban" she said quietly but firmly.

She drew a small black bag out of her robes and pressed it into his hands. He opened it. Inside was a tiny vial filled with gold liquid… and a small square mirror that looked rather old.

His eyes widened as he picked up the small vial and looked at it. "Is that…" he began.

"Yes" she said quickly. "Felix Felicis. Enough for 12 hours. It will keep you in one piece" she said, a trace of teasing in her voice. "And the mirror?" he asked curiously. "A Dark Mirror. It's a safe way for you to contact me. I have the other mirror of the pair. Speak into it and I'll hear you in my mirror" she said simply.

She flicked her wand at the doppelganger. It drew its wand and swept its cloak around it as it headed out the door.

He took a step closer to her and ran his fingers through her hair. "There are so many things that could go wrong with this plan" he said worriedly. "I know" she interrupted… voice soft but firm. "But it's the only way. "Please… tell your Mother… I'm sorry… for everything." "I will" he said sadly.

She slid her arms around his neck and kissed him softly on the lips. 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 if he could he'd never let go… but he knew she had to go.

"It's not goodbye" she whispered. "It's see you when this is all over" she said firmly, her voice unafraid. He nodded, not wanting his voice to betray his fear. He would be brave. Like her. She would be in more danger than he was. She had to disappear completely.

But first she had to disappear from sight. He watched as she took her wand and cast a Disillusionment charm, fading from view.

A soft hand stroked his cheek. Then she was gone, her soft footsteps fading away into the distance.