12 November 1977

"Oh, dear me," said a voice at the end of the alleyway, and Alecto jumped, looking around at a tall, slender woman in a dark hood who was emerging from the shadows. "You can't be Carrow's sister."

"Are you the one I'm s'posed ta—" Alecto choked on her words, feeling a Silencing Charm seal her throat.

"Don't be an idiot," the woman hissed, coming close and shoving Alecto against the wall. Her words were low, intense, and threatening, a rapid stream of venom. "I won't hesitate for a second to silence you permanently right here and now and tell your idiot brother we were ambushed by Aurors."

Alecto blinked rapidly several times as the woman's hand closed so tightly on her shoulder, she was sure she'd find fingerprint bruises in the morning. Then, the woman released her, and Alecto felt the charm lift from her voice.

She scowled up at her. "So—now what? I met yeh, didn't I? That's all I was told," Alecto said in a low voice.

"Shut up," the woman growled. "You were lucky to be told that. If it hadn't been for that useless brother of yours, you wouldn't even have gotten the Dark Lord's attention."

"An' what are you, his girlfriend or summin'?" Alecto leered. Quick as lightning, the woman's wand was at Alecto's throat and her back was to the wall. Alecto could feel the stranger's hot, minty breath filling her face, and she scowled.

"No," the woman said after a moment, running her tongue over her thin lips. "Not worth it." She looked at Alecto as though she was something disgusting stuck to the inside of a rubbish can.

"Are you here ta help me, or what?" Alecto drawled. "C'mon, yer majesty, what am I s'posed ta be doing?"

"I'm not here to do anything of the kind," the woman said, plainly revolted.

"Yer a liar," Alecto told her dismissively. "Yeh wouldn't have come if yeh didn't have something ta do."

The woman lifted her chin, surveying Alecto haughtily through heavy-lidded eyes. "Watch your tone," she said. "I don't take orders from scruffy—" her eyes flicked over Alecto— "dumpy creatures like you. I give you orders, understand?"

Alecto feigned a huge yawn. "I ain't interested in anything yeh've got ta tell me unless it's where I'm meant ta go, got it?"

It was hard to see in the darkness, but the woman's face seemed to be turning scarlet with anger. Alecto paused for only a moment, wondering whether she'd made a terrible mistake, before the woman flicked her wand sharply through the air.

Alecto clapped a hand to her cheek, feeling burning pain and hot stickiness. She grit her teeth, trying not to betray her pain. "Fine," she growled. "I don't need yeh." She turned and started to leave the alley. She was nearly out when the woman spoke.

"You're pretty dense, Carrow," the woman spat. "So is your idiot brother." Alecto narrowed her eyes, turning coolly on the spot to face her. "I'd be surprised if there was more than half a brain between the two of you."

Alecto flushed, scowling at her.

"But even I have to admit that your brother's had his uses," said the woman begrudgingly. She stepped forward, reaching into her pocket, and Alecto automatically put her hand over her bleeding cheek again. The woman gave a harsh bark of laughter, throwing her head back, and Alecto saw her eyes flash terrifyingly as she returned her gaze to Alecto's face.

"Be there tomorrow night," she said, producing a folded-up bit of parchment and stuffing it into Alecto's hand. Then her fingers tightened around Alecto's wrist, twisting it painfully. "Memorize it and destroy that—or you'll deal with worse than an Auror or two, so help me."

Alecto blinked, startled, and the woman laughed.

"It's like watching a chicken—fat, bug-eyed, running around in circles—and doesn't know what it's getting into by leaving the fence," she said menacingly. She ran her tongue over her teeth; Alecto noticed that her canines were especially pointed and noticeable, and repressed a shudder.

"Who do I ask fer?" Alecto called, as the woman released her wrist and started to walk away. She turned, fixing Alecto with a cold stare.

"You'll get names tomorrow. If we decide so," she said.

"And if yeh don't?"

The woman gave her another appraising stare, her eyes flickering up and down Alecto's body. "If we don't, then you won't even need your own name anymore, Alecto," she sneered, and with a small pop, she Disapparated.

Alecto scowled, shoving her hand into the pocket of her cloak to hide the note—she'd look at it later. "Bitch," she mumbled, gingerly touching the bloody cut on her cheek before hurrying back to the main street of Knockturn Alley.


Just a short little something for reallyhatebananas' "Delve Into Shades of Darkened Grey" challenge, where the goal is to sympathize with someone on the "wrong" side of the war. I hate Alecto, the character I got, so the only way I could sympathize with her is by pitting her against a character I hate more, Bellatrix. :) Hope you like!

Lucy