A/N: Love to reviewers and Countess Black
In celebration of having written 70 stories, I wanted to do something special.
Meta-fiction, part of the Strange and Invisible-verse. You absolutely must have read SIV for this to make sense.
There's some very adult content in here-fairly graphic intimations and also the reminder of a brain scarring episode from Strange Invisible History. Newt is my cat.
'A tragedy of place' is a phrase I learnt somewhere years ago. It refers to a situation caused in part simply by the time period or location involved.
And I absolutely do not have have any naughty pictures on my laptop. Just so we're clear on this from the get-go.
I knew something was up the second I came in and they were all smiling. I tried to get back out the door, but Rodolphus and Lucius both managed to get a firm hold and then spell the door shut.
'Madea, dear heart, this is an intervention.'
'We got the idea from that noise box. We saw an advertising about it.' Rodolphus looked quite cheerful about the whole idea. My stomach sank even lower.
'Yes, that was the nature of it, but it was advertising us.' Lucius had manoeuvred me in the corner of the room to prevent my escape.
'Correct.' The others all nodded. I squirmed and tried to slide toward the window. No dice; Bellatrix saw me and pounced. 'Where do you think you're going, then?'
'Thank you, love. Now, Madea, you know we like how you write us.'
'Even if you are slovenly and headstrong.' Bellatrix smiled and I sensed this was a compliment of sorts, and that nodding would be politic.
'But dear girl, we miss being villains.'
'Villains' said Wormtail from the other corner, appearing in a whoosh of dirty rags and dandruffy hair. 'We miss being villains.'
'I thought you liked being morally ambiguous.'
'Mostly' said Rabastan, who'd been thus far silent 'we do, but you know, we are Death Eaters.'
'We're absolutely sympathetic now.' Bellatrix said it in the tone most people use to describe multiple axe murders or idiots who text during films. I squirmed a little harder.
'Not completely. You've all done some not-so-great stuff, haven't you?'
'Oh, yes, between all the cuddling and not maiming we've been doing, we're monsters.' She huffed and Rodolphus patted her shoulder.
'Well, you did kill the Grangers.'
'Years ago! What've we done lately to strike terror in the hearts of the enemy?'
'Rodolphus has a basement of unspecified horrors in the Ministry.'
He frowned thoughtfully. 'Well, yes. I prefer to think of them as amusements, actually.'
'Not at all. I correct you so you'll learn.' He patted my shoulder gently and I blinked, knowing what he'd done with his hands lately. Bellatrix squeezed over and he sat beside her.
'Is that all you can think of? Rodolphus' toys?'
'No. Wormtail is still a villain.'
'A villain, dear lady? I?' He looked affronted, using one of his small pink hands to smooth his stringy hair.
'Um, Peter? You sorta fucked a rat, remember? Chapter eight?'
'Dear lady, I was a rat at that time! And she happens to be very nice!'
'I never said she wasn't. I said it was gross. Seriously, I almost got burnt at the st-I mean, pilloried by reviewers. Sorry, everybody.'
They all stared at me in shock for a moment. 'You should be.'
'I could go contemplate my shame somewhere.'
'No, we'll be happy to remind you. Do you remember when you made that hideous faux pas, muggle?'
'Yes, ma'am, I surely do. Speaking of which, Lucius is still a giant racist. That's pretty villainous.'
Lucius frowned. 'Perhaps, but aren't I more xenophobic, really?'
'Does it matter?'
'It does to me.'
'You originated the "petty little boyars" thing. That's not very nice, at least.'
'I suppose.' He sat on Bellatrix's other side, looking less than pleased. I got a little closer. 'And you were pretty obnoxious to Bellatrix in Wales, right?'
He brightened slightly. 'True. Though a bit more casual cruelty wouldn't go amiss, dear child.'
'Not to mention Scabior. He's got some pretty heavy villainous type stuff going on.'
'Oi!' said Scabior from the end of the bed 'I'm a victim 's'much as anyone else, aint I? Tragedy a place, you've said so yerself.'
'That doesn't mean you aren't a warped, murderous psychopath. You threatened to cut me the other day over the last ringding in the box!'
'Well' said Rabastan thoughtfully 'they are delicious.' There was a general rumble of agreement.
'And' said Bellatrix 'you look like you could stand a bit a cutting and be none the worse for wear. If it were to come up, I mean.'
'As a matter of fact, why don't we try right now?'
'You want to cut me?'
'Not necessarily. Maybe scream a bit for us? And then beg us to spare your life?'
Rodolphus nodded. 'And then weep a little? You've got paint on. It would run so nicely, don't you agree, Bellatrix?'
'I do.' They gave one another a lingering look and then stood up. 'We'll be right back.' A silent shudder passed through the group at the implication of what was to come. In a lot of senses, I thought, and tried not to cry.
'Not in the bathroom! I refuse to explain that to my family again!' There was a hideous sound from down the corridor, and it killed all conversation for some time.
Lucius finally broke the silence. 'Well, that was...let's just never speak of it again, shall we?'
Barty raised a hand. 'Can I be a villain now? I'm a Death Eater, you know.'
'I know you are, but I need you to be the comic relief.'
'Lucius gets to be a villain.'
'Not completely. And everyone is very impressed with how well you've helped move the plot, Barty. You're a reader favourite.'
'Is that true, Rab?'
'It certainly is.'
'All right, then. Can I get a pet? Maybe a nice owl?'
'You can play with Newt, Barty. It's almost the same.' Newt yowled accommodatingly and moved so he could stroke her ears.
Barty's hand popped up again. 'Your writing box has got pictures on it.'
'Why are so many of the people naked?'
The room was deadly quiet. In the silence, there came a pause in the heavy breathing and other grotesque sounds from the linen closet. Bellatrix, hair frizzing everywhere, popped her head into the room.
'Muggle, do you recall that gruesome misstep you made?'
'This is worse.'