The Warden and her Prisoner
Disclaimer: I don't own any of it. Song is Egyptian Musk by Head Automatica.
A/N: Final Chapter. Enjoy!
There's a suicidal Taliban
For talent on the cusp
The court room is buzzing with a hundred whispered conversations when I walk Bellatrix into the room. All eyes move at the same time to the subject of the trial. She looks just the way I want her to, humble, but not afraid. For the trial I have her wearing traditional black robes rather than the tan prison garb. The less like a criminal she looks the better. For a moment, silence, but the moment ends and the buzz is replaced with a gentle hum of speculation. This does not look like the crazed psychopath they expected to see. Some of them look relieved, others look disappointed. I suppose some people came for a show and others came due to the effects she may have had on their lives.
I walk her over to the chair in the center of the room and she sits, back straight, shoulders back, like a proper lady. I bite hard on the sides of my cheeks to stop myself from smirking at how much she isn't in actuality a proper lady. She's quite crass and I have to admit it's one of my favorite qualities about her. I take my seat and the head of the Wizengamot begins the trial. When the last head of the Wizengamot died, Spainier, the man before Bellatrix was voted unanimously into the position. I have had discussions with him at length about my prison and the way it's run. He was always one of my supporting votes and I spoke briefly on his behalf during his campaign for the position.
I look up at him and he curtly nods to me, professional respect. He may not like the woman I am defending but he respects my beliefs and the fact that I am defending her. I stop myself from falling into any sort of false sense of security. My friendly working relationship with Spainier does not mean he will rule in Bellatrix's favor. I have to stay sharp. I look around briefly. Harry and Ginny, Ron and his lovely wife, Aurors and shop keepers alike have all come out to see this. My eyes rest on Neville Longbottom and Luna Longbottom. His face is grim and determined. I know that he was one of the people who petitioned for this trial. My heart aches for him at the same time as it curses him. He notices me looking at him and shakes his head almost unperceptively. He cannot believe that I am defending this woman. Oh God Neville, if only there were a way for both of us to be happy.
I sit at the defense table and fold my hands over one another, intently listening to the opening statement of the inquirer. Silva was a man I respected, he takes cases that he cares about, much the same way I do. Today though, he is a man I want to obliterate. I do not want just to win this case, I want to make people feel barbaric for even suggesting capital punishment in this post-war world of peace and compassion.
"Good day ladies and gentlemen of the Wizengamot. Today we convene in order to properly evaluate the crimes and punishment of Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange. I mean no offense to the system set in place by Warden Granger, in most cases I fully agree with rising above the wrongs of others and not sinking as low as the wrongdoer, but in this case turning the cheek simply does not suffice." It takes all of my self-control to keep my face neutral. I'd like to spit at him right now. "In a case like this the laundry list is so long and so vile that one cannot simply be the bigger person. There are too many lives ruined, to many hurts caused, a woman like this needs to be punished. It is important to remember that that the woman sitting there, as harmless as she may or may not appear was the right hand of You Know Who. A woman so high in the ranks of a genocidal would-be tyrant cannot simply be slapped on the wrist, an example needs to be made of her. Evidence will be presented to prove that point throughout the trial. Thank you." He finished with a small customary bow and sits on his side of the room.
When the village came with fire
You were out there on the right
We knew you might
The blood of Christ
I stand. I look around. Almost everyone looks impressed with Silva's statement. I can change that. "Ladies and gentlemen, I am here today to present, not evidence, but reason. The woman you see before you was a Death Eater. She was the right hand to Voldemort." A few gasps as I say his name. I pointedly ignore them. "You see before you a woman who put all of her faith into something she believed. Much the same way I put all of my faith into something I believed, the same way all of us did. You see before you a woman who has done unspeakably cruel things for the sake of obeying the man she addressed as 'Lord.'" I give this a moment to sink in. I see some nodding heads. Neville catches my eye again. His mouth is set in a thin line. There are a few people in the crowd with that same expression, Ginny Potter among them. Harry himself looks neither here nor there. I know he feels that I am right, this is the man who allowed Peter Pettigrew to live, but he is not happy about it.
"You see before you a woman who was deeply misguided, much the same way each and every single one of us in this room has been misguided in some way in our lives. If there is one person in this room who is perfect I would like to shake their hand. To be flawed is to be human. You see before you a human being who believed wrong to be right. A woman who was bade to perform horrendous acts by a man she looked up to. She was raised to believe that her actions were right. She was never given the option of thinking for herself on the matter. The woman you see before you is a product of backward thinking. A woman who is already sentenced to spending her life in a heavily guarded cell. She does not choose when she walks outside, she does not choose when she eats or what she gets to eat, she does not choose anything. Her freedom has been stripped from her. That is as far as punishment should go." I look around. I have them thinking. It's exactly what I hoped for.
The trial moves along. Silva calls several people to the stand. Bellatrix does exceptionally well as he questions her. Things are going as planned, I cross examine each of them with the skill only experience can hone. Like a quidditch match we go back and forth, he calls someone to the stand and makes Bellatrix look awful, I question them and make them feel the death penalty is too strong. I sit after questioning Neville. I went easy on him; his situation is tenderer than others. Silva stands.
I'll tell you lies I have found
I've seen a million religions on the ground
There's a suicidal Taliban
For talent on the cusp
"I'd like to call Warden Granger to be questioned." He says. What the fuck? I feel all eyes turn to me. What is he playing at? I stand.
"High Wizard, I hardly find it appropriate to be questioned when I am the defense." I say in my most appealingly stern voice.
"Why are you calling the Warden to testify?" Spainier asks Silva.
"She is one of Ms. Lestrange's victims, High Wizard." He replies. Oh fuck me. How did I not see this coming? So many hours of careful preparation and I forget this one gaping hole in my defense. I am one of her victims. Of course I hardly feel that way now, but I am. I was too close to the situation to realize that I was the loose thread.
"With all due respect to the Wizengamot, I am not willing to stand as a witness against the woman I am advocating for. I humbly ask that this motion not go forward, High Wizard." I request. Spainier wants to accommodate me, but I can see in his expression that there is no way around this.
"I'm afraid that if you have evidence pertaining to this trial, you must present it." He says and he sounds like he regrets it. I swallow, hard and walk down to the witness chair. Silva has a glint in his eye. I have a sinking feeling in my stomach. Bellatrix's eyes meet mine and she looks incredibly calm. I compose myself.
"Warden, will you roll back your sleeve for the court to see?" He asks. Fuck me sideways. The M, it's freshly cut, traced even. An intimate moment between her, now to be exposed to this entire room of my peers. I close my eyes, cursing myself for allowing this to happen. I am so much better than this. I roll my sleeve back and there is a collective gasp. Everyone is gasping at the word written there. It may have been the connection between Bellatrix and I, but all they see is that she mutilated my arm, and I can do nothing to explain why I do not want to testify against her for it.
Is that your love down on the ground?
I see forever coming down
Look around, look around
It makes everything okay
"Are you fucking kidding me?" I hear a voice cry out. I turn and see Ginny standing. Her eyes livid. Her hair looks like its crackling with electricity. Spainier calls for order, but it's far too late for order. "You let her fucking cut it back open? What are you her whipping girl now?" She shrieks. This whole situation is fucked to hell now. The entire room is in an uproar. I catch pieces of conversations, speculation on my relationship with Bellatrix. I am going to be stripped of my title. This is it. Four years and someone has finally caught me knuckle-seep in a prisoner, the most notorious prisoner.
It happens too quickly, that I just barely grasp what is happening. Ginny is screaming, the room is so loud I feel like I'm going deaf, but all I hear is Neville's voice. Two simple words. "DIE BITCH!" and there are curses flying from his mouth. "AVADA-" I cut him off so quickly no one knows what happened. I stun him and he falls to the floor. Silence settles on the room like a thick layer of so much dust. Every eye is on me now. Speculation over, suspicions confirmed. Several Aurors from the rows above me are moving toward Bellatrix. I see Harry holding Ginny back because she is pregnant. That bitch. No one else would have noticed that the wound was fresh again, the lines were so thin, and of course it was her. Years later and still she cannot get over that I wanted something more than she was.
I consider the Aurors and make the rashest decision of my life. I'm sure to lose my position now that I've been caught with my hand in the cookie jar. I will never be able to see her again if I don't do something and the Aurors are closing in. It takes all of five seconds for me to sprint from the witness chair to Bellatrix. I grasp her arms as hard as I can. No one is supposed to be able to apparate from this room, but being the Warden affords some privilege. The rationale was that I may at some point have to rush back to the prison during a sentencing. I pull her as hard as I can with me as I apparate, terrified that I might splinch her. We land in my office.
"Oh shit!" I scream when I see her face. She wasn't splinched, thank Merlin, but she is cut, bad. Someone must have hit her with some curse before I got her out of there. I heal her quickly. I place my wand to my jugular. "Guards, I cannot believe I am saying this, but we have a situation Green. Defend the prisoners. It has been a pleasure to work with all of you. Keep up my work. Keep up my standards. Believe in what we've built here, defend it! Prisoners, defend what we've fought for you to have here. Rise up, stand with the guards." I say.
Situation Green. I've fallen from grace into the arms of a Death Eater. "Verde." I mutter and flick my wand at the vault inside the closet in the far corner of my office. Wands, hundreds of wands fly out of the vault and into the hands of the witches and wizards they once belonged to. The cells open. Not one of the prisoners attempts to run. There is nothing for them outside of these walls. They stand tall with the guards and it is almost the proudest moment of my life, too bad it's tainted with failure. Failure tastes awful as my mouth goes as dry as cotton. My proudest moment is the one in which I have to cut my ties and run.
So you celebrate the ignorance
And you drizzle it in violence
And you swear your sore allegiance
To every auto and appliance
Because they win if we don't go about life like we should
I knew you would
I knew you would
"What are we going to do now?" Bellatrix asks. "Do we stand and fight?"
"No. I've done enough standing and fighting to last me a lifetime. An unhappy lifetime." I say. What are we going to do now? I look around. The answer is sitting on my desk. The endless purse. What I like to call the 'Oh Shit Bag.' I've kept it packed with essentials since my running days with Harry. The second flat I've been making payments on since I started as Warden, hoping never to need it, always having the feeling I would. "We're going." I say.
"Where?" She asks. I know where and I know how to do it. Leaving my apartment behind is not a problem. I look around the room. They are sure to be coming. The apparition point is far enough away that I have time. I prepared for this moment hoping against hope that it would never come.
I whip my wand around the office. "Scourgifate!" I yell. I modified the cleaning spell to destroy everything that can incriminate me. Records begin to catch fire, letters, pictures, everything until there is nothing left in this office of me and this office could have belonged to anyone. I throw all of my personal effects into the bag and grab Bellatrix by the hand. We apparate to my apartment quickly. I purge the place of all the things I do not want them finding. I empty out my safe into the purse. I long ago stopped keeping my money in Gringotts, breaking into the place on several occasions somehow tainted my trust of the goblins when it comes to my capital. Then I apparate us to my parents' house. I look around and take a few pictures of me with my parents before going through the same process I had to endure years ago. I remove myself from their lives and I cannot help the guilt that eats at me for putting them through this. I choose a few of my childhood items before turning my room into a study for my father. A single tear falls from my eye. I wipe furiously at it.
Is that your love down on the ground?
I see forever coming down
It makes everything okay
"Just give me over to them." She says quietly. I turn on her, my wand raised. She has hers in hand but she doesn't raise it in return. "They would forgive you. You'll lose your job, but they'll forgive you. You can keep your life. Find a nice woman, settle down in the country perhaps." She says.
"There are no other women." I say. I grab her by the hand again and we are gone. We land in my flat in New York City. I've had this one for years, paid in full. "Welcome Home." I tell her and begin pulling my life out of the purse it's been sitting in for five years.
"Where are we?" She asks.
"New York." I reply.
"Why are we in New York?" She asks.
"I've visited the states many times over the last few years. The witch and wizard community here don't know much about the struggles in England, nor do they care to know. The charm of Americans is that they are all utterly concerned with themselves. We can live here and no one will even notice us." I explain. The flat already looks far more like home than the one in London did. I place the photos of my parents and me above the electric fireplace. I guess I always knew this day would come. One item after another comes out of the beaded bag, until it's empty. Bellatrix has sat silent the entire time, letting me have space, letting me do this, create a sense of normalcy here when everything has gone wrong. She lets me come to terms with the fact that I've just exited stage left from my own life for her.
"What do we do now?" She finally asks. I sigh. That's such a loaded question. I decide to make light of the situation.
"Now I think I'll make a sandwich, would you like one?" I ask and walk over to the kitchen. I pull out some peanut butter and strawberry rhubarb jam. I spread four slices of bread and hand her one of the sandwiches. She smiles and takes a bite. "I don't quite know what we're going to do now." I say. "I have enough money for us to live a lifetime without working ever again, but I quite enjoy having some purpose in my life. I suppose I'll find myself a nice job, maybe in a book store." I muse out loud as we walk back into the sitting room and plant ourselves on the sofa.
"You're going to find a job in a book store? I though you would want to go back into law enforcement of some sort." She inquires, inhaling her sandwich in four bites.
"I took that job knowing that one day I would get you in my prison. I would be able to punish you for the things you did. That may not have worked out exactly as I thought it would." I say.
"So we're going to have a life together? The Warden and 93?" She asks.
"I was thinking we would, unless you've some other plans?" I tease her. She scowls at me. "Don't scowl; it makes you look like a petulant child." I say. She sticks her tongue out at me, as if to prove that she is a petulant child. I can't help but chuckle. I finish my sandwich and rest my head on her shoulder. "I was considering, since this situation is no longer taking place in a prison cell, perhaps I could call you by your given name and you mine?" I ask.
She turns to me and I look up at her. "What is your given name anyway?" She asks, smirking. I punch her on the shoulder. "Come on now! I am a frail thing after all!" She shrieks and I kiss her. I kiss the woman I've been waiting for. I feel the Warden was left behind in that prison. I feel that I scourgifated her out of my psyche as well as that office. We break the kiss and sit, foreheads pressing against one another. "You do know my name don't you?" I ask. She laughs.
"Yes, Hermione. I know your name." It sounds nice when she says it. It sounds nice to be called Hermione by the woman I have come to love. She nudges me. "So Hermione" I laugh at her exaggeration of my name. "I propose a race to the bed, since I haven't been in a proper one in ages. The winner gets to do whatever they want to the loser." I look at her for a moment before launching myself off of the bed and racing to the bedroom. She trips me and I lose my balance. When I get to the room she is already tying scarves to the bedposts.
"You cheated." I say. She flashes me a wicked smile.
"Old habits and all." She says and pulls me toward the bed. I'm content to let her. After all this time I'm ready to play a game where even the loser wins.
Thank you all for your interest and feedback. I hope you had as good a time with it as I have.