Year of Afternoons

A HariPo drabble

by mew-tsubaki

Note: The Harry Potter characters belong to J.K. Rowling, not me. This pairing was discovered by my buddy, Morghen, so please give her a little mention if you write them! Thanks! It is one of many of Mew and Mor's Weird Pairings, which you may find in Mor's and my forum, "Mew and Mor's Weird Pairings Fan Stories," found here (Just take out the spaces!): http : / forum. fanfiction. net/ forum /Mew_and_Mors_Weird_Pairings_Fan_Stories /76194 / Read, review, and enjoy! And check out and join the forum FUN! *Note: For lovely little scars, who may be the biggest Bellatrix fan I know! :D

- ^-^3

"The fate of love is that it always seems too little or too much." —Philip James Bailey

Kingsley Shacklebolt had never before been so unnerved.

Unmatched is more like it, he groused to himself when he finally arrived home. It had been a long day—hell, a long year. Godric, things were so up and down. The Order had just had one hell of a fight at the Department of Mysteries and suffered a loss—may Sirius Black be forever remembered, the black wizard thought in silent prayer—and yet one thing stood out in Kingsley's mind:

A cackle.

It was not any old cackle, but a certain maniacal laughter that got to him. Despite all that had happened, he couldn't stop his ears...ringing, for lack of a better word, from Bellatrix Black Lestrange's laugh. Kingsley thought it odd that someone who had such a need to kill could actually possess so much life. Moron, he chided himself as he caught his reflection in his tiny bathroom mirror. You almost sound excited to be faced with such a challenge.

His mind's eye flashed with horrifically beautiful green light and blazing black eyes.

Come on, Kingsley, old boy. You can only continue the hunt. Aurors versus Death Eaters... It's just how it goes.

But his mind already had that questioning seed of doubt planted in the far recesses of his mind...

- ^-^3

It felt as though, since the Ministry battle and Harry being dubbed "the Chosen One," the Aurors had to haul ass to track down the escaped minions of Voldemort. Yes, a few—like Lucius Malfoy—had been caught at the scene of the crime and sent straight to Azkaban, but a good deal more of them were too clever to be captured.

"Dawlish, you go after Rodolphus," Mad-Eye barked. He grunted and turned to Tonks. "Reckon you can handle Rabastan on your own, Tonks?"

Tonks' hair seemed to burn a lurid, electric pink. "Take out a family member?" She said it with something akin to glee.

"Not 'take out,'" Mad-Eye snarled. "Apparently Fudge wants them alive for questioning or because 'we aren't heathens,' some rubbish like that."

"Fine. I can do that, too."

Kingsley shifted on his feet, wondering why Tonks, who was a lot younger and inexperienced than Kingsley, had received a solo mission and Kingsley had not. "Alastor...?" he asked.

Mad-Eye gave him a grim look. "I wanted my best with me for her escapade."

"Bellatrix Lestrange." It wasn't a question. Kingsley could feel it surely that was whom Mad-Eye implied by "her." There was no doubt when Mad-Eye nodded and tightened his cloak around him. "How are we tailing her?"

"By broom," the older wizard stated in his gruff tone. "We'll risk being seen by her and any traveling with her, but the noise of Apparation would be a dead giveaway."

Kingsley thought how appropriate it was calling the latter a "dead" giveaway. One false move and everything would be royally screwed for them. Without another remark, the Aurors moved out, and Mad-Eye and Kingsley mounted their brooms to speed off towards Ireland. Along the way, Mad-Eye informed Kingsley that at least Bellatrix had been last spotted in Dublin, and the veteran pondered her reasons for her location.

"It's not that far if she wants to reach Scotland or England. Hogwarts and the Ministry... The Ministry will probably fall first." Mad-Eye's magical eye darted left and right. "Constant vigilance, Shacklebolt, constant viligance."

"Aye, Mad-Eye," Kingsley said, but he felt his reply was eaten by the winds rushing past them. The journey was long and tiring, but as they neared the Irish city, Kingsley's sense of dread grew and his stomach knotted itself. They were definitely going to be active tonight.

Closer to the city, the two Aurors dismounted and walked through the Muggle streets. Everything appeared to be quiet. The Muggles carried on as though nothing was wrong.

Then Kingsley heard an echo in his memory. The echo was from that night, of that laugh. He froze midstep. "Mad-Eye," he rasped. Kingsley turned as a woman bumped past him and found his comrade staring back in alarm. "She's here."

Just as Mad-eye opened his mouth, Kingsley's nose picked up a peculiar scent of sulfur and rosewater. The black wizard's stomach sank to the ground as he reversed directions and caught sight of that woman. She had stopped, too, her back to them, her cloak's hood still up.

"Bellatrix Lestrange!"

Like that, the chase resumed and Mad-Eye and Kingsley wasted no time in trying to cast Disillusionment Charms. If the bystanders survived, they'd worry about possible exposure later. For now, catching that witch meant everything.

When she laughed as she rounded the block, Kingsley's suspicions were confirmed. Hearing her unmistakable voice spurred him on, and he began to close the distance. He flicked his wand, but his jinx missed. Kingsley cursed under his breath and chanced a look at Mad-Eye, who was furiously waving his wand. At one point she appeared to have been hit, as she stumbled after Mad-Eye sent a hex her way. By this time Mad-Eye had all but run out of breath, so Kingsley rushed to the crumpled form of black curls and leather. He pointed his wand at her, wondering what would happen next.

"Tough shit, Mr. Charcoal," she trilled. In one abrupt move, she was up and nose-to-nose with him and then Kingsley was flung back by some spell that landed him in a serious daze. His back ached against the broken concrete and Bellatrix taunted him as she drew near. "Aurors think they're so smart, catching up with little old me..."

"We did catch up to you...," he coughed despite the pain in the back of his ribcage.

Her cold fingers latched on to his chin, painfully jerking his fuzzy gaze up. "The hard part is actually catching me, luv." The animal she was, she sniffed his cheek and breathed over him, her lips nearly grazing his skin. "Then again, I always loved playing with my food."

For one terrifying and thrilling moment, Kingsley tensed, every fiber of his being frozen. He relaxed only slightly when she cut his cheek with a fingernail and backed away. Perhaps his eyes were playing tricks on him, because he could've sworn he saw her lick the blood from her nail.

"Half-blood," she sneered, and then she was gone just as quickly as she'd appeared.

Mad-Eye arrived to help Kingsley up, and he shook his head as they fixed their demolished surroundings. "I have a feeling I'll be dead before she goes," he snarled. "It'll be the last thing on my bucket list and I'll never do it." He didn't leave room for the black wizard to comment, for they headed back to London immediately. If possible, Mad-Eye's mood had turned even sourer.

As for Kingsley... He fought a shiver that threatened to travel the length of his spine and back. No, Bellatrix was dangerous and she needed to be apprehended. There was no reasoning with her. Period.

- ^-^3

He considered himself a good judge of character. Why else would he have been on friendly terms with the likes of the Order of the Phoenix and its compatriots?

However, with each near-success he and Mad-Eye Moody had with Bellatrix, Kingsley began to doubt himself. He kicked himself for even thinking that Bellatrix Lestrange of all people would be human in the least bit.

Then why did she let me live? Kingsley internally questioned.

She told you: You're food, his conscience argued. He usually let his conscience have the last say, too.

However, this was becoming insane. It was turning him insane! Every time they thought they knew where she was and where and how to get her, she'd escape, and the Aurors would return home, feeling as though they'd had a half-day of work. Nothing else seemed to be getting done. The "hunt for Death Eaters"—at least to Kingsley—had transformed into the "hunt for Bellatrix," though what kind of a hunt, Kingsley was beginning to wonder.

It was now winter and Dumbledore had them recruiting high and low for any possible Order members, to no avail. Too many were tempted by Voldemort or otherwise they wanted to remain neutral and not face any trouble from the Dark Lord. Tensions were even popping up in the Order, what with Tonks avoiding Lupin and vice versa, and Mad-Eye's stubbornness putting him in a seemingly-permanent foul mood. Dawlish tried a few dry jokes to keep the atmosphere light, but Kingsley's mind was elsewhere...with black curls and leather, of sulfur and rosewater.

If haunting Great Britain weren't enough, Bellatrix Black Lestrange had come to haunt Kingsley Shacklebolt's dreams and thoughts. He'd already identified his unhealthy obsession with the witch, but now he was truly scaring himself.

She might've let me live, but she surely didn't show the same mercy to others, he grimly thought.

Yet you chose to put her and the word "mercy" in the same sentence, his conscience teased.

Goddamnit, his conscience couldn't even argue one side, but both!

Kingsley left the Auror Office, his hand touching his cheek on its own...yes, that little nick was still there. Perhaps... He left the Ministry on a random thought, zipping away on his broom before the others noticed he was even gone. He would figure this out, he would. Then...Then he could be sure of himself when they next met and he would capture her...

...or one would kill the other.

- ^-^3

Somewhere in Devon—much too close to the Burrow, for Kingsley's comfort—the wizard tracked an old alleyway out of a run-down village and watched as the alley spilled out onto a hillside. He landed at the top and got off his broom, waiting and listening for any sounds. It was not long when he got for what he'd come.

"Isn't this funny?" Bellatrix mused. She was alone, as usual, and she moved lithely upside the hill until they could see all of the other. Then she laughed.

Merlin, that—that laugh! Kingsley briefly closed his eyes to help him focus. "You—You are under arrest, Bellatrix Lestrange."

"Come now," she said with a casual shake of her head. "You honestly think you alone can bring me in when two of you can't manage it? Boy, you are a peculiar one." There was a mischievous yet predatory glint in her eyes.

Kingsley brandished his wand. "Just come quietly."

"I think not." As fluidly as before, Bellatrix moved and they began a duel. Curses, hexes, and jinxes flew left and right and, while Kingsley could never seem to hit her, she always came so close to finishing him.

Playing with her food, his conscience chided. He ignored the thought until she tripped him up and he landed on his back once more.

"Now that was hardly worth the effort," Bellatrix taunted, strolling over to him, her wand dangling in his face. "I guess half-bloods really aren't all their pureblood's side's cracked up to be."

He didn't understand what made him do it—his madness, he presumed—but he yanked on her wand arm and drew her down to him where she promptly tripped into his lap.

Luckily, mischief stilly played in her eyes, not fury. "Ooh, so you want to play, do you? You want a taste of what you can never be?"

Kingsley had no response for her. He could only remain in place as those cold, cold fingers cradled his neck and those cold, cold lips stole his breath away. There it was, he had it: black curls and leather, sulfur and rosewater. And she tasted like ash.

Vaguely, his right mind screamed at him to get a move on, that once she was done making whores out of them both, she would likely finally end him.

His intended action changed, though, when she backed away and smirked darkly at him. "Well, what do you know? Half-bloods are good for something." Then she waved at him, of all things, as though they were midnight lovers to be reunited some other night!

Kingsley stayed on the ground for several more moments, shocked and confused and—Hell, I'm bloody delighted, he thought morosely when he stood and brushed himself off. He hated the heat of his cheeks and knew he ought to be ashamed to even return to London.

But there was a ray of hope—

Off in the distance, he grinned as he heard something:

A cackle.

- ^-^3

WELL! This is one of the older pairings that Morghen discovered; it's one of the 1st M&MWPs, but I finally got to write it. Xo *phew!* I'm glad for it, though, because this was so bloody wacky and dark and nummy and I LOVE KINGSLEY! There, I said it. ;P So I hope you enjoyed it—leave a review, 'kay?

Thanks for reading and please review!

-mew-tsubaki :3