Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon, and Harry Potter to J.K. Rowling. No money is being made from this story which is purely written for mine, and others, entertainment.
Part 3 in Roads Travelled. A year and a half post the marauders last year at Hogwarts: The first war continues (1980-1981).
BTVS/HP crossover. The war continues with more battles and losses. Caught up in the middle, Buffy and co. have to do their best to find light in the darkness. Buffy search for her roots and a balance in her life: what does it means to be the Slayer in the world she now calls home - but can answers be found anywhere but in Sunnydale? Voldemort's hold on Britain grows stronger and the Order weaker due to death and betrayal from within. Can a prophecy change the tide for the better or will its existence result in even more death?
James/Lily, Sirius/OC, Severus/Dorcas, Frank/Alice.
We have all lost something in this war. Someone. So many sacrifices have been made, and I wonder, how many more awaits us? Everyone has changed, and sometimes, I don't even recognise myself. This war is making us lose pieces of ourselves and while I still have hope for tomorrow, it is slowly being diminished by all the death and despair. I wish for peace. I wish our child will never know war, that he will never have to sacrifice what we have sacrificed, or see what we have seen. But for the moment, my wishes will continue to remain what they have been for a long while now – dreams.
- Lily Potter.
1 January, 1980
Buffy and Remus were slowly walking down the silent roads in the city of Canterbury, the only light coming from the streetlights above. Neither spoke, both lost in their own thoughts. They both felt guilt over what had happened to Mandy: Remus, because he had left her side in the battle where she was taken, and Buffy, because she was the reason he had. On top of that, Sirius blamed Remus as well, and also seemed to be of the belief that he was on Voldemort's side. That didn't exactly make the situation any better and things were strained between all the marauders at the moment.
Buffy sighed. And it all came down to her. If only she had stayed at home... 'I shouldn't have been in that fight,' Buffy thought, inwardly shaking her head at her own stubbornness. She had known she wasn't ready, but she had gone anyway, with a desperate need to prove that the incident in Diagon Alley – where she had accidentally staked and killed a man – was not affecting her. From the way things had turned out – with Mandy kidnapped and herself unconscious – it was perfectly clear that she was not alright.
Absently, Buffy fingered the healed bite-mark on her neck from where a vampire had gotten her. Yet another scar to add to her collection. She had recovered completely from the battle of Hogsmeade – physically at least. But mentally…well, to be honest, Buffy wasn't quite sure where she stood.
Glancing at Remus, Buffy found herself glad for his company, even if neither of them seemed to be up for talking. Just his presence helped to assure her that if they stumbled upon a vampire, and Buffy faltered, like she had at Hogsmeade, Remus would be there.
At the moment, Buffy didn't trust herself: that she wouldn't freeze or mess up somehow, even if this was just an ordinary patrol. Right now, that was the closest thing to full out battle Buffy thought she could handle and a good way to ease herself back into the thick of things. Slowly, one to step at a time. To have Remus with her was a great comfort.
It had been stupid of her, really, Buffy admitted to herself, to not let him or any of the other marauders join her on patrol before. After all, she had never hesitated to let the Scoobies come along when they wanted to. Truthfully, the marauders would probably be of more use in a fight than her old friends – minus Angel, of course – had. With Xander and Willow, Buffy always had had to worry about their safety as well as her own. But the marauders were capable wizards and more than able to handle themselves in a pinch.
As to why she hadn't let them...well, that was a mixture of unreasonable over-protectiveness and the fact that her patrols were a part of her old life in Sunnydale. Buffy felt that she wanted to keep something from that time in her life to herself, something that could remain unaffected by her new life here. Perhaps the fact that she was finally letting Remus join her was her way of acknowledging that Sunnydale was truly behind her now, in every way. She would always cherish her memories of her friends, her mom, and of Angel, but what she had now was just as real and every bit as important to her.
"Hey." Remus nudged her. "That scene over there looks rather suspicious."
Buffy frowned, looking at the couple that were making out further up the street. "Are you sure?" She asked doubtfully. Her spider-sense wasn't tingling. But then again, how much of her own instincts could she depend on right now?
"Very sure," Remus answered, eyes gleaming amber for a second.
It was New Year's Day, and also, the day before the full moon. Remus' senses were sharper than usual. While he ordinary would have spent the day resting, he had decided to accompany Buffy when she said she was heading out on patrol to clear her head and take her mind off things.
Buffy nodded and slowly pulled out her stake, ignoring the voices in her head that told her to put the stake down, that it was a mistake. She had to trust Remus, she decided, since she couldn't rely on herself. Buffy's current 'instincts' were nothing more than her fears - that she would accidentally kill another human - coming up to the surface. She had to get rid of that. She hated this doubt, this uncertainty in her own abilities, and how it was making her all conflicted and messed up.
"So...is it a fang-boy or a fang-girl?" Buffy asked, wanting to know which one to stake.
"Both," Remus stated and Buffy wrinkled her nose. Eew. A vampire couple – that reminded her far too much of Spike and Drusilla and their twisted relationship.
"Great. So...one for you and one for me?" Buffy suggested.
The two slowly approached the couple, but when they were only ten feet or so away, both vampires suddenly snapped their heads around, their true visage of fangs and yellow eyes clearly visible as they growled.
Remus winced and grimaced. "My fault," he said. "Sorry. They can probably smell that I'm a werewolf."
Buffy sighed, twirling her stake in her hand, knowing the element of surprise was over. So there was a downside to patrolling with Remus. But then again, she usually preferred a straight-on attack rather than a sneaky one. "Well, well...what do we have here?" She asked the vampires.
"Who are you?" The male vampire growled.
"I'm the Slayer," Buffy offered casually. Both vampires looked at her in confusion. Huh. So they didn't work for Voldemort and they hadn't heard the myth either. "She-who-hangs-in-cemeteries?"
"You're in a city," the female vamp pointed out dumbly and Buffy sighed. People like her were the reason stupid blonde jokes were around. But then again, those same jokes really helped her out when she wanted to play a stupid blonde, so perhaps she shouldn't complain.
"No? Really? We hadn't noticed," Remus said sarcastically, slowly slipping his wand out from beneath his sleeve.
"Why are you here, werewolf?" The male vampire snapped out, yellow eyes narrowing.
"Just taking a stroll through the neighbourhood," Remus answered casually.
"You should have stayed away from this one," the male growled and then attacked. Seeing her boyfriend go on the offense, the female vampire did the same, after a short moment of hesitation.
"Incendio!" Remus called out and the male vampire found himself on fire. In the meantime, Buffy side-stepped the females sloppy punch towards her face, making her stumble. A stake to the back later, and she was dust. Buffy and Remus turned to look at the still burning vampire as he screamed and finally combusted.
"How did that feel?" Remus asked.
"Good," Buffy answered. "At least I didn't falter."
"Always a good first step," Remus said, wrapping an arm around her shoulder. "So, what do you say? Want to continue our romantic stroll? Well, until we stumble upon another vampire, that is." He looked up at the nearly full moon. Tomorrow, it would be his bane, but today, it was still beautiful. Just like the woman beside him.
"Lead the way," Buffy said, resting her head against his shoulder. Things were decidedly bad right now. But with Remus by her side, she was certain everything would be fine.
Mandy whimpered in pain as Bellatrix cancelled the Cruciatus she had been held under.
"The pain will stop," Voldemort said as Mandy coughed, taking deep breaths, to try and regain some composure. Her voice was hoarse from the screaming she'd done, her mind sluggish from the torture, and it took a while for the Dark Lord's voice to register. "If you join us...and convince your boyfriend to do the same, I will be more than happy to let you go."
Mandy laughed hoarsely. "Forget it. I will never join you. I will die first."
"That can be arranged," Bellatrix cackled, raising her wand again and Mandy tensed, preparing herself for another onslaught. "CRUCIO!"
Several seconds went by – for Mandy, they felt like an eternity as incapacitating pain travelled up her nerves, forcing more screams up her throat – until Voldemort held up a hand. "Enough."
Bellatrix lowered her wand.
"Have you changed your mind?" The Dark Lord asked mildly. "Like I said...agree to my terms and this – the pain – will be over. If you don't...well, I'm afraid things don't look too bright for you in that case. And as for Sirius Black...he will join me, one way or another, with or without your cooperation. Of that I am certain."
"You're insane if you think that," Mandy choked out.
"Am I?" Voldemort raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "Tell me, girl, how much is your life worth to him? Quite a lot, from what I've heard. With you in our grasp, we can make him do anything. I am certain he will soon try to make some sort of deal for your release. It's simple really. He joins us, and you go free."
"He would never do that," Mandy spat out. "Firstly, Sirius is not stupid enough to believe you'd actually leave me unharmed if he joins you. Secondly, he would never turn his back on the light – not even to save me."
The cell door suddenly opened and a Death Eater – Snape – stepped inside, holding a note, which he handed to Voldedimort. "This just arrived, my Lord."
"Hmm...that didn't take long. And we didn't even have to send any incentive. He must be really desperate to get you back." He looked down at Mandy, a wicked smile on his face. "You should feel honoured that he cares so much." The Dark Lord unfolded the note, his smirk widening as he read. "I believe you would benefit from reading this," he told Mandy, holding out the note in front of Mandy, who froze.
That handwriting...she could recognize that anywhere. Sirius.
I KNOW YOU HAVE MANDY WALKER. I AM WILLING TO MAKE A BARGAIN. NAME A TIME AND PLACE. SB.
"It seems you were wrong about him," Voldemort told Mandy smugly, even as the former Ravenclaw shook her head in denial. "Apparently, he is that stupid - stupid, and in love. A dangerous combination." His red eyes darkened. "I no longer have any need for your cooperation. Bella, feel free to continue your...little exercise. Just don't kill her. Yet."
"Have you heard anything from Sirius at all?" Lily asked James who shook his head. The married couple were lying on their bed, staring up at the high ceiling above their heads.
"No. Not since the battle of Hogsmeade. And believe me, I've tried to talk to him but he's ignoring me."
"Is Dumbledore still of the opinion that nothing can be done about Mandy?" Lily bit her lips. "It just seems so wrong to leave her in the hands of that...monster and not even try to get her out."
"I agree, but where would we start to look?" James sighed, frustrated. "All of Voldemort's hideouts are very well hidden, and even if we knew where she was being held... I'd take the risk of course – it's Mandy – but to go into Voldemort's Headquarters and come out alive? It seems rather impossible."
"Like everything else these days," Lily whispered sadly. "Lately, it's just one bad thing after another."
"Hey," James turned to look at the red-head, a frown between his eyebrows as he rolled over onto his side and placed a hand against her stomach, reminding Lily of the life now growing within, not yet visible from the outside. "Not just bad things."
Lily smiled weakly. "I am happy about the pregnancy James, but...at the same time, I'm afraid. I can't help but think we're fools to have a baby during war-time. What kind of world will we bring him – or her – into?"
"The war will be over by then," James said firmly. "It has to be."
"But what if it isn't?" Lily questioned. "What if it never ends? What if our child has to grow up in darkness, constantly afraid? I don't want that. I don't want our baby to have to face that. What sort of life would that be?"
"I promise, that's not going to happen," James said determinately. "The war will end, and our child will be safe. Happy. I swear."
"How can you know that?" Lily asked brokenly, her green eyes filled with sorrow and fear.
"Do you trust me?" James asked, pulling her close.
"You know I do," Lily mumbled.
"Then trust me on this. Trust that I know what I'm talking about."
Lily sighed, slowly relaxing. "Alright." She knew James' promise may turn out to be a lie – knew that he couldn't really ensure a safe future for their child – but for the moment, she would allow herself to believe him. "When are we going to tell the others? About the baby, I mean?"
"I don't know," James mumbled. "Right now...with Mandy gone, it doesn't seem to be the right time."
"Once she's back?" Lily asked, looking up at James.
"Yeah." James nodded. "Once she's back." Neither he, nor Lily, dared to voice what they both were thinking: that Mandy may not come back at all. That would make the possibility of that outcome all too real. For now, they had to hope that everything would turn out alright. That Mandy would not end up another sacrifice in this war, which appeared to become more and more pointless for every day that dragged on.
"How much does You-Know-Who trust you?" Dorcas asked, after having recovered her breath from the – admittedly brilliant – sex she had just had with Severus. Inwardly, she wondered at which point she had begun to think of him by his first name, rather than as just Snape.
"As much as he trusts anyone, I suppose," Severus said, sounding bored, and utterly calm. Amazing, how the man managed to be that composed all the time. "Why do you ask?"
Dorcas bit her lip while fingering the thin sheet covering her body absently. White cotton. That had come as a surprise for her when she first became familiar with Severus' bed – to be honest, she had expected him to use black silk or something. "Do you know where Mandy Walker is being held?" She finally asked bluntly, deciding not to step around the issue. Dumbledore had asked her to find out as much as possible about Mandy's situation, as long as she wasn't doing anything to risk herself and her position. Dorcas figured asking Severus what he knew would be her best bet.
"Even if I did...what business would that be of yours?" Severus asked, stiffening slightly. Most people wouldn't have noticed, but Dorcas did.
"You know very well why," Dorcas snapped, leaning up on an elbow. "What does the Dark Lord want with her anyway?" Severus only let an eyebrow rise, a clear sign that he wasn't going to answer her question, and Dorcas let out a noise of frustration. "Can't you just tell me?"
"Why should I?" Snape answered. "Our arrangement doesn't extend that far. I've agreed not to expose you to the Dark Lord, that's all."
"Oh, cut the crap!" Dorcas snapped, standing up and pulling her clothes on jerkily. "Since you've known the truth about my allegiance since the very beginning, if you expose me, I will expose you. And that you're having second thoughts about your own loyalty."
Severus only smirked. "True. But the Dark Lord values me. While as of yet, you've been of little use. And besides, even if I told him about you, he wouldn't find out about me unless you tell him. And no matter how much you threaten to do it, you won't actually do so. You're too...pure-hearted." His lips curled.
Dorcas glowered at him, knowing he was right. "So you're not going to tell me anything about Mandy? At all? She's little more than a girl, Severus. Are you just going to stand by as You-Know-Who does Merlin knows what with her?"
"Yes." Severus said calmly. "And little more than a girl or not, she's still a member of your little resistance – her age is clearly not a concern. If she can't handle the fight, she shouldn't have gotten herself involved. Besides, I have little love for Walker for the very simple reason that I hate Sirius Black. I could care less about what happens to her."
Dorcas clenched her fists. "Are you really that cold?" She asked.
"I am a Death Eater," he reminded her, cocking his head to the side. "You tell me." Dorcas only huffed. "Are you leaving?" Severus changed the subject, sitting up in the bed to stare at the now fully-dressed Order-member.
"Yes," Dorcas bit out. "Why shouldn't I? You've never given any indication that you wanted me to stick around after our activities before," she turned a curious eye at the former Slytherin. Was it possible that he was...beginning to care?
"A man is allowed to change his mind," Severus said calmly. "Besides, the only reason I want you to stay is so that you can uphold your end of our agreement. Lily. Tell me about her." The tone of his voice made it clear that it wasn't a request and Dorcas sighed. More fool her for thinking the man might actually start to develop feelings. It wasn't that she personally cared if he did – oh, no – but it might make it easier for her to find out things about the Dark Lord if he did. Or at least that's what she told herself.
"She's upset about Mandy being kidnapped, of course." Dorcas eyes suddenly glinted. "If you truly care about Lily, helping Mandy, or at least telling me what you know, would be a good way to prove it."
Severus chuckled amusedly. "Nice try, Meadowes, but that's not going to happen. What else?"
Dorcas sighed in frustration. "I don't know what else to tell you. I'm not exactly a close friend of hers. We're acquaintances only."
"Then make a little more effort," Snape said through gritted teeth, clearly losing his patience. "Prove to me that this bargain of ours wasn't a mistake, and that I actually gain something from it."
"Other than sex, you mean?" Dorcas asked sarcastically, unable to help herself.
"Yes. Other than that. To be honest," Snape said with a raised eyebrow, "it's not that good. Certainly not worth my time and effort to keep your little charade going. The only thing good enough to do that, is to give me what I want. Which is information about Lily Evans."
Dorcas' left eye twitched. Merlin, he was infuriating! "You do know she's Lily Potter now, right?" She asked, knowing the mention of Lily's marriage to James would certainly bring about a reaction. And sure enough...
"I prefer not to acknowledge that," Snape spat, his nostrils flaring in anger.
"I know. Why do you think I mentioned it?" Dorcas smirked, before slipping out the door, happy to get the last word in, for once. While she couldn't say her...encounters with Severus was always pleasant, or ended in victory for her (in fact, this was the only time it had happened so far) at least the verbal spats were amusing.
Severus challenged her, and his dark, sarcastic manner, while infuriating, also appealed to her. In the Order, the person who came closest was Caradoc, but in comparison to Severus, the Slytherin won, hands down. Moody was too morbid, and Buffy, while her puns were amusing, lacked the bite that Severus' comments had.
Perhaps that's why she was both drawn to and repulsed by him. Whatever the case, there was something about him that kept her interested. After all, nothing in their bargain said she had to sleep with him, and yet, she found herself constantly returning to his bed, despite knowing he only saw her as a temporary replacement for the woman he really wanted - Lily. And even though it had been less than three months since they first met, she was even start to trust him somewhat.
Time would tell if that was a mistake or not.
"Good work everyone!" Buffy said, grinning at the exhausted looking Order members who were all accepting hand-to-hand combat training from her. This was something she still felt comfortable doing – training others in ways that would give them an advantage in a fight even if she herself were not yet ready to return to said fight.
Looking around at the group, Buffy inwardly sighed: Sirius should be here, but today, he was noticeably absent, without a legitimate reason like Edgar, who had a Wizengamot meeting to attend, and Moody, who was pulling extra hours at the Auror Department. Lily too had opted to sit this session out, but unlike Sirius, she was here anyway.
The red-head was looking both tired and green around the gills so perhaps she was ill and that was why she wasn't participating. The fact that Lily was constantly rubbing her head, as though she was suffering from a headache, only supported that theory. "I think you're really coming along well. James – you're improving quickly – I think you have a talent for this. Dorcas, you as well."
"Perhaps it's our backgrounds as members of a Hogwarts Quidditch-team," James half-joked. "The reflexes we developed there have certainly come in handy at least."
"I wouldn't be surprised. Frank and Alice, you're both doing great as well, so I imagine Auror training must help too." Buffy stated, frowning when she noted Alice too was looking a bit peaky. Had her training session been too tough today? "Umm...everyone, make sure to tell me if I'm working you too hard," the Slayer added, feeling slightly guilty. It was easy for her to forget that the Order members didn't have her stamina or background in physical fighting. "Caradoc and Eliza, you're working really well together. So is everyone else, for that matter, so next time we meet, everyone should switch partners to get some variation."
"Great," Caradoc said sourly. "Can we go and get ourselves cleaned up now?"
Eliza elbowed him. "Be less snarky, Caradoc," the French girl admonished and the dark haired man snorted, along with the majority of other Order-members.
"Caradoc? Less snarky?" Frank asked loudly with a raised eyebrow. "That's like asking Dumbledore to stop eating lemon drops – it's not going to happen. Ever."
The group sniggered, all of them ignoring Caradoc's glare of death.
"Yes, Caradoc, you can get yourself cleaned up," Buffy said. "I think the real meeting is about to start anyway." Today, they were in Longbottom manor once again, since Frank's mother was out socializing – or in other words, having tea with her friends.
Everyone walked out of the large ball-room they had used as a practice hall, most of them wincing from sore muscles and cramps. There, they met Dumbledore, Elphias Doge and the other Order-members who weren't part of the physical training group, as well as Moody and Edgar, who must have been done at the Ministry for the day. Sirius was still not present. "If we could all gather in the living room," Dumbledore spoke, "we can begin the meeting immediately. Edgar has an important piece of news."
Caradoc's grumble of annoyance could clearly be heard and the sweaty Order-member exchanged sighs. It seemed a simple cleaning charm would be all they had time to do.
"I'm glad we are all in agreement," the Headmaster said jovially, beaming at his Order, ignoring the sour looks sent in his direction from more than one person.
Sirius was tense as he stood in the shadow-filled side street in Knockturn Alley, his wand gripped tightly in his hand. He had gotten a response from Voldemort a lot sooner than he had thought, and for that, he was both grateful and terrified. Grateful, because it meant he might get Mandy back quicker, and terrified because he had never thought he'd ever do something like this: that he would ever meet voluntarily with a Death Eater outside of a battlefield.
What kind of person was he becoming? But then again, desperation rarely knew any bounds and he had to make sure Mandy was safe. He could not just leave her in Voldemort's grasp. He had already lost his brother – he refused to lose Mandy as well.
Taking a deep breath, Sirius vowed that as soon as she was okay, he would try and convince her to take the position with Gringotts in Egypt, far away from this mess. He was more than aware that the only reason she had been taken was because Voldemort wanted to get to him. Why, he didn't know, but he had his suspicions.
A near silent 'crack' of apparation filled Sirius' ears and he spun around, wand raised, and came face to face with his mad cousin. "Bella," he spat. "I should have known he would send you for this."
"Now, now, mind your manners, cousin," Bellatrix said with a wide grin and a cocked head. "And put that wand down before you hurt yourself."
After making sure that Bellatrix' own wand was nowhere in sight, Sirius did as she asked, his eyes narrowed. "Where is Mandy?" He demanded to know.
"Ask no questions, and I will tell you no lies," Bellatrix cackled, twirling a strand of her black hair between her fingers. "Now...my Lord is a reasonable man. Your little girlfriend will be returned to you – alive – if you join our cause."
"Forget it," Sirius spat.
Bellatrix shrugged carelessly. "Alright. Your loss."
"Wait!" Sirius exclaimed. "Don't leave. Just..." He swallowed. "I'll do anything. Except that. I can't betray the Order that way."
His cousin's eyes gleamed as a smug smile appeared on her face. "What if your girlfriend did?"
Sirius' eyes narrowed. "She never would. Firstly, she's muggleborn. Secondly, even if she wasn't, she'd never join you anyway. None of my friends would." He pushed away the doubt he held regarding Remus – despite the things he'd seen and heard to make Sirius suspect him, he knew, deep down, that the possibility of him joining Voldemort was unlikely. Mandy had made him see that. And as for his outburst in the hospital wing...that had been his emotions over Mandy's disappearance overtaking his common sense. That, and blaming Remus was easier than blaming himself.
"But one of them already has," Bellatrix cocked her head again and Sirius froze.
What? Had he been right after all? Was Remus a traitor? "You're lying," Sirius finally said. Even if Remus had switched sides, he couldn't let his doubt show in front of his cousin. She already had the advantage, and what was worse, she knew it. Merlin, would his uncertainty regarding Remus' loyalties never come to an end?
"Believe what you want," Bellatrix said, sounding bored. "Now...you have heard our terms. Join us, or she dies."
"I - " Sirius licked his lips. "Why does Voldemort want me so bad?"
Bellatrix let out a low growl at the sound of her master's name. "The Dark Lord always knows what's best."
"Fine," Sirius said. "Release Mandy, and we can talk more about this. She means nothing to you anyway – the only reason you have her is because you want me. If you let her go, I'll – I'll do it. I'll join Voldemort." He was lying, of course.
Bella smiled, all-too-serenely. "Very well. I will tell the Dark Lord of your decision," she said. She knew Sirius was lying. He would never join her master. That the Dark Lord thought the possibility was there, even if it was to save someone Sirius claimed to 'love' was ridiculous. Her cousin would never be swayed from the light.
"You'll release Mandy?" Sirius asked, desperately. "I've...I've agreed. You have no more need of her."
"That's true," Bella smirked curtsied mockingly in her cousin's direction, and apparated away.
Sirius stood alone in the alley, breathing heavily, feeling cold inside. He had done what he could. All he could do now was hope Bellatrix had bought his act and that Mandy would be returned to him safely.
Gathered in the Longbottom's living room, Dumbledore was the first to speak. "Edgar, why don't you share our news with the Order?"
Edgar nodded, standing up from his seat. "During the Wizengamot session today, Brutus Tool resigned from his post as Minister of Magic." Whispers amongst the Order broke out. "I think we can all agree it was just a matter of time before this happened. The confidence in Tool has been rapidly declining for a long while," Edgar continued.
"Who are the new candidates?" Alice asked. "I know the press has been suggesting you, Bagnold and Crouch..."
"Actually..." Edgar glanced at Dumbledore. "Well, I think I'll let Albus field this one."
"Due to the current conflict in our world," Dumbledore said, "the usually fairly long process of first selecting candidates for the post, and then the month-long open Wizengamot session during which discussion and finally, voting, takes place, was not possible. As such, during the Wizengamot session today, after Brutus resigned, the vote for a new Minister occurred immediately."
"Merlin, please, don't tell me Crouch won?" James begged.
"Indeed, he did not," Dumbledore assured them and a noticeable breath of relief went through the Order. "But it was a close thing. Our new Minister of Magic is Millicent Bagnold."
"Not Edgar then?" Frank said. "That would have made things easier for us. What do we know about Bagnold?"
"Not much," Edgar admitted. "But...well, as you know the Wizengamot consists of several upstanding members of society. Unfortunately, as you also know, many of those same 'upstanding' members are purebloods and secretly supporters of Voldemort. I believe they are the reason Crouch did not win: his stance on Death Eaters are very well known. Likewise, my allegiance with the light and Dumbledore is also well known. There were also a few other candidates, more or less known, but I believe most of Voldemort's supporters voted for Bagnold because...well, she's a woman. It would be in Voldemort's best interest to have someone he considers weak and malleable on the Minister post, and it is clear he and his Death Eaters tend to underestimate females."
There were nods of agreement. That was true. With the exception of Bellatrix and a few others, Voldemort really didn't seem to think much of women. More fool him.
"So does that make Bagnold's appointment good or bad for us, then?" Eliza asked hesitantly.
"It is difficult to say," Moody said gruffly. "It could be worse, but until we know more about her, we won't know. The next few weeks should make it clear what sort of Minister she'll be. Let's hope it's in our favour." He sounded grim.
"My Lord," Bella entered the cell and kneeled by Voldemort's feet. Voldemort lowered his wand from Mandy's shaking and bleeding form to turn his attention to the female Death Eater.
"Bella, my most loyal," Voldemort breathed out. "How did the meeting with Black go?"
Tied to her chair, Mandy noticeably shivered, a small sob escaping her.
"As we suspected it would, my Lord," Bella answered. "He will not join our cause, even for her." She sneered at Mandy who let out an audible sigh of relief: if Sirius betrayed everything he believed in – switched sides – just because of her – she would never have been able to forgive him. "He tried to pretend otherwise though, in a pathetic attempt to get her back alive."
"And what did you say?" The Dark Lord asked.
"I pretended to believe him," Bella said proudly. "And made sure to hint at the fact that one of his friends is a traitor."
Mandy tensed. One of their friends was working for Voldemort? Or was it another trick?
"And thanks to our other efforts, Black will, of course, come to the wrong conclusion," Voldemort mused, a small smile playing at his face. "Excellent. Everything is coming together the way I planned."
"What do we do about Walker, my master?" Bella asked, turning vindictive eyes in Mandy's direction. "Do I have your permission to kill her?"
"No," Voldemort answered and Bella's expression turned into one of outrage, even as Mandy stared in disbelief. They were going to let her live? "We will return Black's girlfriend, since he asked so nicely." Mandy could hardly believe it, and neither could Bellatrix.
"My Lord!" Bella exclaimed. "You can't possibly mean - " At the Dark Lord's admonishing look, she fell silent.
Voldemort smirked. "As I said, we will return her, alive." Mandy closed her eyes in sheer gratefulness. That is, until Voldemort's next words reached her ears: "Bella, you have my permission to do whatever you want with her...as long as it doesn't leave any permanent damage...physically."
As Mandy froze and her eyes widened in horror, Bellatrix turned a delighted expression in her direction, pulling out her wand, laughing crazily.
"I will leave you to it. Let me know when you're done playing," Voldemort said and exited the cell, leaving Mandy alone, with Bellatrix.
The female Death Eater smiled cruelly. "CRUCIO!"
Published: 30/06 -11
A Note From the Author
And so begins Road of Sacrifice. This story will, like the story summary reveals, focus on Buffy's search for balance and the meaning of her life, as well as Slayer mythology, the Order's struggles, and a prophecy. As the story title witnesses, there will be losses...but there will also be life and hope, mainly in the form of little Harry Potter and the conclusion of the first war.
Enjoy the road,
- Millicent Bagnold is the Minister who preceded Cornelius Fudge in office.