After the initial astonishment from the new information, Narcissa sent Draco up to his room and the Black sisters sat solemnly at opposite sides of the Great Room, each in her own train of thoughts. Bellatrix had pulled off her customary elbow-length gloves and stared amusedly at the Dark Mark that would forever be a part of her. Narcissa held her head in her hand, massaging her temples, feeling as though she was drowning in her own worries. It was she that broke the overbearing silence first.
"Bella," She began slowly, waiting until she was given Bellatrix's full attention. "Where is Harry? Don't you think you should tell him what you've seen?"
"He's currently…" Bellatrix tapped her chin with a nail in search of the correct words, "He's in a state that I would rather not bother him." This blunt statement earned her a quizzical look.
"What do you mean exactly? Is he asleep?"
"You could say that. I mean, in some sense he is."
"Bellatrix... what did you do?" Narcissa prodded for knowledge with a deliberate and judging look in her direction.
"Nothing! Don't look at me like that! It was a harmless stunner. He's at St. Mungo's getting treated from the injuries your son inflicted on him." She spat with venom.
"You blasted a stunner at him? What was the reasoning behind doing that? And don't you dare speak of my son in that tone! He was under the Imperius curse, you know that!"
"I did it because I wanted him to get to St. Mungo's without being interrogated. I'll have Kreacher bring him back tomorrow by which time he should be better. It was your boy who put him in such a horrible condition in the first place. Imperius curse or not, Draco's strong enough to have some control over himself."
"The curse is nearly impossible to overcome. Do not speak of Draco in such a degrading way when you know it wouldn't be an easy task to simply stop the control of the spell."
"Humph, whatever you say, Cissy." Bellatrix huffed, leaning her head back against the sofa. There wasn't a word spoken for a considerable amount of time as the two women were occupied once more with their own ideas or sorrows.
"What do you plan on doing about him?" Narcissa said at last to break the ice again and get an insight as to what her sister was considering to do with the new bit of information about her husband and his whereabouts.
"What should I do?" She responded nonchalantly without even bothering to look up.
"Well for one, start panicking that he's alive. Worrying would be a normal reaction at the very least."
"Ah yes, but you see normality is so... overrated." Bella replied easily
"Are you trying to tell me that you aren't worried?"
"Not even a little?" Narcissa persisted.
"Not in the least." After an exasperated sigh, Narcissa picked out a soft nerve that she was positive had been implanted into Bellatrix. There was no way that this wouldn't get a rise out of her.
"What about Harry then? I'm sure Rodolphus will find out soon enough that his plan had failed and will go hunting for him himself. Without your wand, you wouldn't be able to protect him." As expected, it did get a reaction but not exactly one she had been hoping for. Bellatrix opened one eye and looked to the woman in front of her.
"That's exactly why I'm not worried. Harry knows how to fight and take care of himself during a duel. By what I saw, Rodolphus didn't look like he was in the best condition to go against him."
"What if he's searching for you instead of Potter?"
"Harry's going to protect me if that's the case. And before you ask, yes I'm sure he wouldn't let that man lay a finger on me." To this statement, Narcissa raised a curious eyebrow.
"Really? And you're sure about that?" She questioned with an air of what could be jealousy. However, the thin impression of this emotion was checked as soon as it had been implied, leaving it unbeknownst to Bellatrix's senses.
"You could call it a hunch." After a pause in her speech, Bellatrix continued. "Not that I have to let him know that Rodolphus is still alive."
"Why wouldn't you want him to know? Would it not be best to have Harry rid of him as soon as possible?"
"You're right but... I'm curious to see what exactly it is that Rodolphus is trying to achieve. He may not be the brightest bulb, but I can vouch that he has something plotted in that nearly empty head of his."
"What do you suppose is his plan?"
"Hell like I know, Cissy. It'll come to light eventually. As of now, I'll choose to ignore the problem at hand."
"Don't put Harry into any more unnecessary danger. That boy's been through enough already."
"I know... I was part of his hardships after all."
"And not to mention he's vehemently protecting you when in all truth, he has no reason to do so." To this, no verbal response was given, but Bella acknowledged a question which had manifested in the back of her mind for quite some time now. "Why? Why is he trying so hard to protect me when he really has no plausible reason to do so? If I were him, I know I wouldn't do the same. So why the hell is he being so compassionate to someone like me who doesn't deserve it?" Seeing that her sister didn't say anything further, Narcissa set the topic at rest and with one more tired breath, stood up, and walked towards Bellatrix, laying her hand on her shoulder and giving it a ginger squeeze. "I really do hope you know what you're doing, Bella." She said softly. Bellatrix looked up at her sister and granted her a reassuring smile.
"I hope I do too." Narcissa shook her head a bit before returning the smile and proceeding to climb the steps leading to her chambers. Once she was out of sight and her room door closed, Bellatrix stole one last glance at the Dark Mark on the inside of her wrist and departed through the fireplace.
Sure enough, the next morning Harry returned with Kreacher's thin arms aiding him in inside. Harry's injuries were patched up very professionally and alleviated the pain quite well. The potions they had spoon-fed him also succeeded in fixing internal injuries and bruises. Thankfully, the nurses and doctors who had attended to him didn't ask anything but intended to once he was back in shape and fit to recall what had happened. After all, anyone would be curious to know who could have bested Harry Potter, the boy who had valiantly defeated the darkest wizard of his time. It was pure luck that Kreacher had retrieved Harry before anyone could arrive for questioning.
The sound of the front door closing shut and two pairs of feet, one treading heavily against the old floorboards, awoke Bellatrix from the depths of sleep. Her eyes popped open and she popped out of her bed. Pulling on a silk grey robe hanging on her door which originally belonged to Harry, she bounded to the stairs accompanied by a smile of sorts. She had to stop herself midstride and take a moment to collect herself. "Ugh, what am I doing?" She said, disgusted with her unconscious actions. After a deep breath to set her features back into their usual placid expression, she pretended that this particular event hadn't occurred and continued.
Suddenly, Bella recalled her previous solution to behave more cooperatively in regards to Harry. Last she could remember she had blasted a stunner his way which probably wasn't the best way to get on achieve that goal. So she compromised to try a bit harder on the challenge.
Harry was discovered down in the dining room, gorging on a rather large meal while glancing at the Daily Prophet to his left. He glanced up from shovelling a spoonful of mashed potatoes to his mouth and met Bellatrix's gaze as she observed him from the doorway. "How did the- wait... is that my robe you're wearing?"
"It's nice to see you too." She replied to avoid the question at hand but it didn't work quite to her advantage.
"Why are you wearing my robe?" He asked. Surprisingly his voice didn't sound the least bit agitated. On the contrary, it was relaxed and maybe even joking.
"Well, it was comfortable."
"Fair enough. But it's a bit too... revealing don't you think?" She looked down and noticed for the first time how low the neck of it went. The article of clothing definitely displayed more than was necessary, but the silk felt so smooth and marvellous on her bare skin that she could care less. "I mean, you are in the presence of a male. Decency is an important morale to live up to."
"Oh, please. It's not like I'm showing things you've never seen before." This induced a bright, boyish blush on Harry's cheeks as specific occurrences resurfaced in his mind. He chose to leave the issue. Besides, it was indisputable that she looked appealing so he wasn't about to complain.
"Anyways as I was saying, how did the confrontation with Draco go?"
"It went well enough. Are you doing better?" She asked, masking her actual concern on the topic so well that even she couldn't detect it. He shrugged and continued with eating. Bella invited herself to take a seat and examined him a little while longer. "You're not mad, are you?"
Taking his sweet time in the answer, Harry pushed his plate aside and leaned back in his chair, meeting her eyes again. If he wasn't mistaken, a bit of regret was reflecting in them. "No, no I'm not." The response along with the casualty in which it was said stunned Bellatrix. From this, Harry had to refrain from grinning. He had figured by now that his roommate took pleasure from aggravating him. Showing that she left him unaffected would for once allow him to win in some sense. Once Bellatrix re-established a generally neutral expression, Harry continued. "I am impressed that you stole my wand away from right under my nose though. But if anything, I'm curious to know what it was that you found out from Draco."
It took a while for her to expunge information in her mind; careful to dispose all bits and pieces she didn't want him to be informed of. But at last, Bella had conjured up a believable yet not altogether untruthful answer. "He and Goyle were under the Imperius." Of course the answer was all too vague, but that was all that could be said without arousing a strong want for details.
"I knew it! They really weren't themselves that night!" Bella took a moment to roll her eyes. All men just loved to be right about something. "They wouldn't have done something like that being in their right minds. They're not so cruel as to do that. But did you figure out who was behind it?
"No clue." She said without batting an eye. Lying was just one of her many innumerable capabilities. "Draco couldn't remember a single thing about his attacker."
"Well guess it can't be helped then. There's a new enemy out there after me and this time I don't even know who."
"Have any first step in mind?" Bellatrix asked as Kreacher set her daily cup of tea before her. After dumping a small serving of sugar into it, she began mindlessly twirling her teaspoon within the drink.
"Not a single one." Harry said after gathering his thoughts. "I would tell Ron and Hermione about it... but that would put them in danger. So long as they're not targeted, I don't want to get them involved and jeopardise their lives for me- not again." Bellatrix simply stared at Harry in disbelief. Not that she would expect anything less from him; but because she had never been exposed to such selfless character.
Her family would have easily handed over any person's soul to save their own skins and likely convince themselves it was a tolerable sin to commit with arguments such as: 'He would have died anyhow''I put her out of her misery''Not like they were doing much with their lives.'Then there were those cynical Death Eaters who acted more out of fear than loyalty for the Dark Lord. In reality, she really was the most faithful out of his followers.
"You're Harry Potter though. I'm sure you of all people wouldn't need any help." Bella teased casually.
"I would have died in a split second had it not been for those who were by my side till the end. I'm not as great as everyone assumes me to be; it's all luck."
"Talented and modest, could you be any better?"
"I can't tell. Are you mocking me? Or actually throwing compliments?"
"Believe whichever one suits you best."
"I'll pick the first. Bellatrix and compliments don't really go hand-in-hand in my book." Harry said with a slight smirk. Taking a sip from her cup, Bella returned his smirk with one of her own.
"That's some logical reasoning."
"And you would know a lot about that, I'm sure." Bellatrix's primary perplexed face was quickly replaced by an irritated one as the connotation of his words dawned on her.
"I'm near positive that's mocking or it could be a mediocre attempt at a compliment."
"Believe whichever one suits you best." Harry mimicked her words. An amused smile soon graced her lips and she slowly shook her head, taking another swig from her cup.
"You're turning more and more like me. Perfect." This was rather ironic as it was Harry who was supposed to have an effect on her; not the other way around. The world really had extremely peculiar ways of functioning.
"Why thank you. You wouldn't believe how long I've wanted to be like the infamous criminal sitting before me." Harry said while finding it odd that he could joke about a murderess and her crimes so easily. It was like talking about the weather.
"Aw, I'm charmed. Thank you."
"My pleasure." Harry replied sarcastically before pushing himself out of his seat and yawning. "Well, the hospital beds weren't the best for a good rest so I'm going to be in my room if you need me."
"Alright..." Bellatrix watched as he walked away then turned back to her tea and stared aimlessly into it for a while before gulping the rest of it down. She stood, carried herself upstairs, and entered the bathroom next to her room. It was a simple yet voluminous washroom, only given a few minor upgrades from its previous design.
A vertically long mirror framed by dark brown wood hung over a sparkling sink with golden knobs bearing two cursive capital B's on each knob handle; representing the Black House. The countertop was made of the richest black marble of the time the noble home was built. The toilet and bath on the other hand were fairly modern and updated.
After stripping off the robe she had "borrowed" from Harry and draping it over a towel rack on the other side of the wall, she turned to the mirror and scrutinized herself. The many scars on her body were prominently defined by the light glowing brightly above her. Bellatrix turned her arms, elbows facing inwards, and placed her hands firmly on the countertop. Once again, she stared at the Dark Mark and it stared back, illuminated garishly against her pale skin.
Bellatrix often had moments where she interrogated herself because at times she felt hopelessly lost. These moments appeared more frequently now than they had in the past because compared to before she didn't know what she was doing or what she sought for. So, she began to ask herself multiple questions in hopes to find her way. 'What's my purpose? Why do I feel so different yet so unchanged? When did I begin to feel unsure about what I wanted? How did my life take this unexpected turn? Where is my place in this world? Who am I now?' Unfortunately, the investigation ended up fruitless. Bella couldn't create a response to a single question.
In a sigh of tribulation, she walked to the shower and turned on the faucet. She reached her hand out into the water and waited for it to warm up before stepping inside. The hot water trickling down her body loosened her muscles. And as the steam enveloped her it sucked away her confusion and worries, leaving her mind at peace. Such a sensation was rare to a woman like Bellatrix so she basked in it. With this newfound calm and tranquillity she congregated her thoughts into explanations to her query.
Bellatrix's purpose was to pick up the shattered remains of her existence. She felt so different yet unchanged because she could never truly become someone else but small bits of her were reforming. As soon as the Dark Lord's presence was stripped away, that was when she lost sight of her desires. Her life took this turn due to the will of Sirius Black. There was no place left for her in this world from what she could see. And as far as who she was as a person, she could only ever be Bellatrix Lestrange. That was one thing that could never change.
Once finished with the process of cleansing herself, Bellatrix walked out and wrapped herself in a towel to shield herself from the coldness found outside of her warm shower. Holding it up with one hand, she used the other to dry her hair with a smaller towel. While doing this, another pair of problematic questions reared themselves into her head. 'Who do you put your loyalties into now? Who is it that you have undying trust in?' A slow smile appeared on her lips and she looked at the foggy mirror in which one could see nothing but a steamy haze.
With careful, gentle strokes she wrote a name on it and took a step back to analyse her work. 'Harry Potter.' She read the words to herself in her mind before swiftly swiping the letters away with one hand. Now able to see her grinning reflection in the mirror, Bellatrix gave a gentle laugh and combed her fingers through her dripping hair. "I've fallen so low as to put my trust and loyalties into Harry Potter? How unexpected."
A/N: I hope you liked this. The chapter was intended to be a sort of filler so that I could just have something here for you guys to read. Also, my new story is up! It's called 'Obsta Principiis'. Please do make the time to check it out and review.