Disclaimer: Harry Potter, and all its characters, belong to the wonderful Joanne K. Rowling. No money is being earned with this fic.
The prompt (#344: Hold still, I'm trying to kill you) was taken from the LJ community 500_themes.
A/N.: This was written for a Random Pairing contest in a forum called the SFC. Since it is a crack pairing, I meant to write something funny - unfortunately, I was in angst-mode back then, so this is what you get. Still, I had a blast while writing this, although I must admit that I feel like I completely butchered the characters, because it has been a while since I last read HP and I didn't have the HP books with me when I wrote this to look some things up. Oh well. Whatever.
Darkness Becomes You
#344. Hold still, I'm trying to kill you.
When Bellatrix comes to, she knows immediately that she is in an unfamiliar place; it's not the darkness that surrounds her that gives it away – she likes darkness, and is used to waking up in a pitch-black room – but the smell of a nearby river, and fresh grass. The Dark Lord's residence, where she used to stay, never smells of anything fresh. It's dark and mossy and smelly, and she almost prefers it that way.
Also, it's never that loud. Someone is talking, loudly, she supposes, somewhere near her, although she can't exactly pinpoint where the sounds are coming from. When you are in the presence of the Dark Lord, you learn to keep your mouth shut. He doesn't like it if the silence is broken unless he does so himself or asks for someone to speak, yet the voices drifting down to her (it sounds almost like laughter, but not the insane kind that you hear amongst the Deatheaters; no, it's a healthy, carefree sound. Bellatrix cannot remember the last time she heard a sound like that) are not intimidated at all.
Bellatrix shifts and is not surprised at all to find that the thin mattress underneath her is nothing like the soft one she usually wakes up on. Her head is hurting immensely, and when she lifts her left hand to touch her temple, she can feel the dried blood on her skin. Out of reflex, she makes a move to grab her wand, only to find that it, of course, isn't there. No surprise there, either, now that she thinks of it.
She has no idea where she is.
She has no idea how she came here, either.
Her wand is missing, she has got a wound on her head, and the last thing she remembers, albeit only dimly, as if seeing through a thick mist, is a bright flash of light. The only logical conclusion is that she is in custody of the enemy. Unless, of course, she did something to anger the Dark Lord, but that seems unlikely. She likes to think that he somewhat fond of her, as fond as the Dark Lord could ever be, that is, and he wouldn't punish her like that. No, she must be a hostage of the Muggle-lovers and mudbloods.
The dark Lord won't be pleased if he finds out, she thinks. Well, she isn't pleased either, for that matter. The mere thought that she is so close to them, dependent on them, if you will, her life lying in their hands, without being able to kill them, disgusts her.
As she sits in the darkness, trying to ignore the way her muscles scream whenever she makes the tiniest movement, she wonders how long she has been unconscious. Does the Dark Lord already know she is missing? How long until he will find out where she is and come to free her? Or, better yet, how can she escape on her own? The Dark Lord needs her, after all. She cannot waste her time sitting here in a dark hole when there is an important war going on.
Bellatrix tries to feel her way around, but then dizziness overcomes her and she falls back onto the mattress. Hating her body for betraying her like this, she groans, and decides she should wait until the nausea has faded.
It is then that she hears footsteps approaching, slowly but surely. Alarmed, she sits up again, turning her head into the direction the sounds come from.
The door opens with a faint creak, and for a second she is able to make out the silhouette of someone tall and lanky before the light coming from his wand blinds her and she feels as if her head is going to explode. The sensation reminds her unpleasantly of the day she escaped from Azkaban. Back then, too, the light of the day outside, regardless of how hidden the sunrays were by the thick fog surrounding the prison, had blinded her after living in the darkness for so long. Bellatrix squeezes her eyes shut and pushes the thought out of her mind. While she pretends to be proud of the years she spent in prison never abandoning her master – and she is, to a certain degree, proud that she endured that, that she never gave up – she doesn't want to think of it again, ever, and she knows that if she ever had to return to this place, she would rather die.
"Ah," an unfamiliar, deep voice says. It sounds good-humoured and very, very young. "So you're finally awake."
She blinks her eyes open to glare at the boy. And really, it is not much more than a boy, one she recognises instantly, although she doesn't know his name. The red hair, though, is hard to ignore. A Weasley. Bellatrix narrows her eyes, partly because the light still hurts her eyes, partly because it helps to intensify the glare.
"Ohhh, scary," he jokes and rolls his eyes.
Bellatrix hates him immediately and wishes she'd have the strength to jump up and attack him and wipe that stupid smirk out of his face. Or maybe strange him.
Actually, strangling him with her bare hands seems like a good option.
Unfortunately, as she realises now that her eyes have adjusted to the light, her feet are chained to a metallic ring in the wall with a thin rope that is probably magically strengthened. It seems that her enemies have learned not to underestimate the Deatheaters.
"No hard feelings, darling," the boy grins, noticing her look. "Just wanted to make sure you don't turn down our hospitality. It would be horrible if you declined to stay in our five star lodge."
Bellatrix glares daggers at him and imagines the way her hand would look wound around his pale neck, the angry red marks her fingers would leave on his skin. "The Dark Lord won't be pleased if he finds out about this," she hisses viciously.
The redhead just shrugs, completely unaffected. "Voldemort isn't pleased about a whole lot of things these days, I reckon," he says, ignores the way she flinches when he calls the Dark Lord by his name and waves his wand. Behind him, a tray with fresh water and some bread and fruits drifts into her cell. "Here," he says when he lowers it in front of her. "You must be hungry."
There is something dangerously akin to pity in his voice that makes Bellatrix want to puke. With one rapid movement, she knocks over the bottle of water and sweeps the edibles from the tray. They roll onto the floor and into a far corner of the surprisingly spacious room. "I will not eat anything that mudbloods and blood-traitors have touched," she announces grandly and with a fair amount of contempt in her voice.
The boy sighs, picks everything up with magic, puts it on the tray again and moves it a little out of her reach. "Have it your way, then," he replies and turns to leave, but not before putting some candles into the chandelier at the wall that fill the room with a warm, dim light.
When the door closes behind him, Bellatrix realises he left the tray of food.
No one comes to see her for the rest of the day – or maybe it's night and that's why no one comes; it might be, for all she knows. She has lost track of time completely – and as the hours pass and she has nothing better to do than trying to loosen the rope around her feet in vain and listening to the faint gurgling sound of water rushing down a river, the smell of food becomes increasingly hard to resist. She tries not to look at it, but her stomach grumbles and she almost chokes on the air she breathes because her throat is dry as the sand in a desert, so at some point she reaches over and pulls the tray towards her.
She hates herself for being so weak, but then again, hate and self-disgust are feelings she is very familiar with, so she gulps down a few mouthfuls of water and then devours the bread. A little later, sleeps takes over her, and she gives in to the exhaustion.
When she wakes again, it's to the sound of the door opening again. "Good morning," the redhead announces cheerfully. "Did you sleep well?"
Because she still can't punch him, she decides to keep her mouth shut.
The boy ignores her stony silence. "I see you decided to eat something in the end," he comments, and smiles. "Good for you. There was really no reason for being suspicious about it, by the way. We didn't poison it, and I even made sure George didn't sneak in some exploding muffins."
Oh, so he is one of those idiots, she thinks. One of the twins. They will pay, one day, for ridiculing the Dark Lord, that is for sure.
"Not very talkative today, are we?" he remarks lightly. "I brought you breakfast. After all, we're not such an uncivilized bunch."
"You," she replies, with the best air of condescension she can manage, "not uncivilized? The only people more uncivilized and stupid than the bunch of you are the Muggles."
The boy rolls his eyes. "Sorry, I forgot that we have very different ideas of what the word 'civilized' would entail. Would you rather we treated you like you treat your prisoners? Because I'm sure that could be arranged. A little torture brightens your day, or something, huh?"
Bellatrix huffs. "Torture? I'm laughing. You're too weak for that. You'd never torture me. That would interfere with your high ideals, wouldn't it?"
His gaze darkens. "You'd be surprised," he murmurs. "Not few of us up there are screaming for your blood."
She swallows, hard. "You wouldn't," she repeats, but suddenly she isn't all that sure about it anymore.
"Well," he amends, "I probably wouldn't, that's true."
"You're an idiot, then. And a weakling."
He shrugs. "Nah, just not one for unnecessary killings. You can't hurt us at the moment. I can understand them, though. You'd kill us, too, if you had the chance."
"With pleasure." There's no point in hiding her intentions. When he doesn't reply, she speaks up again, simply out of curiosity. "If you don't intent to interrogate me, torture me, or kill me, what do you want to do with me?"
"No need for you to know about that."
"Is there any harm in me knowing?"
The boy frowns, contemplating. "No, probably not," he says after a while, shrugging again. "We sent message to Voldemort-"
"How dare you say his name!"
"-telling him that his loyal servant Bellatrix Lestrange is under arrest, and that if he wants you to live he should set free all of his prisoners," he continues, ignoring her exclamation.
Bellatrix raises an eyebrow. "Nothing else?" she asks. "No demand to stop his rightful war?"
He laughs humourlessly. "Oh, please. He'd never agree to that. Not if we had his entire army in custody. You don't mean that much to him." He tilts his head sideways, examining her. "We've given him one week. If he hasn't done anything by then, we will see what to do with you."
Someone is calling his name (faintly, she can make out the name, Fred; of course, that is the name of one of the twins, she remembers now), so he sets down the tray of food and leaves without another word.
One week, and she'll be out of here.
She can handle one week, as humiliating as it is. One week is nothing. She has stayed in Azkaban for over a decade. Everything to serve the Dark Lord.
And once outside, she will take revenge.
Bellatrix begins to measure the time by the visits the redheaded teen gives her. He comes down to her twice every day to bring her food and water and stays a couple of minutes chatting away relentlessly with such high spirits that one might think there was no war going on outside at all. It is terribly annoying, but she actually has to admit to herself that she these few minutes are the highlights of her day. The time passes agonizingly slowly when all you can do is stare at dark, cold walls and wonder why the Dark Lord takes so long to do something about it.
She never deigns his mindless babbling worthy of any answer, but inside she is glad it is this boy who has taken over the task of taking care of her. Still, the lack of disdain and malice in his manners make her wary. They are enemies, so why is he being so nice to her? What does he think? That by treating her nicely he will be able to make her change sides, to willingly give them information on the Dark Lord?
If she had been in his place, she would have killed her prisoner ten times already.
As the days go on, still without a word of the Dark Lord, Bellatrix grows nervous. It's not so much the fact that he hasn't done anything yet – she trusts him with her life, and if he deigns it best not to come and get her out asap, then he probably has good reasons to do so – it's more that the boy's – Fred's – way of looking at her changes. There is a glint in his eyes she cannot quite identify, something that makes his eyes grow darker and more intense. Sometimes she catches him staring at her when he thinks she doesn't notice.
She doesn't give the matter a lot of thought, though. He is nothing. Insignificant. Nothing more than an annoying bug she will crush under the heels of her booths once she has the opportunity to. She has no interest in his motives for looking at her.
It's only when his behaviour turns into something she can easily determine as uneasiness that she becomes suspicious.
It's the sixth day of her imprisonment, and the change is so abrupt it throws her for a loop. The look he gives her now is different, too. There is a dread that wasn't there before now, every time his eyes dart into her direction. She smiles inwardly. The Dark Lord has probably sent an answer to their demand, a threat of his own. He's teaching them to fear him.
He's coming for her.
Surely he is coming for her.
Fred sets down the tray of food in front of her and then takes a few steps back, leaning against the door, his arms crossed, watching her darkly. He doesn't speak a single word. Bellatrix hopes he will leave.
When he doesn't, and she gets fed up with waiting, she grabs the chunk of bread and breaks off a bit and begins to chew. Apparently her silent message that he is annoying her doesn't reach him, so after a while she looks at him and asks irritably: "What?"
It's the first time she has started a conversation, and he flinches visibly when her harsh voice cuts through the silence. He remains silent for a moment, staring at the ground, before his eyes shift back to her face. His expression is hard and grim. Suddenly, he doesn't look young anymore.
"He's not coming," he says. "He's not going to get you out of here."
Bellatrix stops with a piece of bread three inches from her mouth. The words resound through the room, stabbing her repeatedly. "You don't know that," she replies, doing her best to sound haughty, superior. Strong.
"Yes I do."
Bellatrix swallows, hard. There isn't a shadow of doubt in the boy's voice. There's just pity and sadness. He sounds tired, too.
It sounds like it is the truth. The one thing she has feared. The one thing a part of her had expected.
She tells herself it's just a bluff. The Dark Lord isn't abandoning her. Never. He can't do that. He won't.
Fred speaks up again, his voice raspy, haunted. "They want me to kill you."
Bellatrix starts laughing. "You?" she repeats, torn between incredulity and infinite amusement. "You?"
"What?" he asks angrily. "Do you think I couldn't?"
"Oh please," she says between her laughs, "you? You are weak. You are just a child. You don't know how to kill anyone."
"You wouldn't be the first person I killed."
Bellatrix stops dead, the hysterical laughter dying on her lips. She sits up straight and looks at him again, raising one eyebrow. A challenge. This will be interesting. "Oh, well. What are you waiting for, then?"
His eyes widen in surprise and he swallows, hard, but then he pushes himself from the wall and walks towards her, kneeling down in arm's reach. "You killed some of my friends. You killed Sirius." He sounds like he has to convince himself that what he is about to do is justified.
She smiles. Her memories of that day are good ones. "I did."
"If we let you live, you would try to escape and kill more of us."
"You would kill me now, if you could."
"I would," she whispers, "without hesitating."
Fred inhales deeply, slowly extending his arms and wrapping his hands round her throat, squeezing gently, as if he was testing the waters.
"What are you waiting for?" Bellatrix whispers. "Do it."
The pressure intensifies, but without rising to a level that would hurt her in any way. She closes her eyes, and waits.
The moment drags on and on, and then he makes a strangled sound at the back of his throat and she opens her eyes again.
"I can't," he whispers as he pulls back his hands. "I just can't." There is horror in his eyes, horror of what he was about to do, of what he was supposed to do, and maybe a little disappointment.
"I told you so," Bellatrix says, somewhat smug, and sneers. "You are weak."
Fred stares at her for a moment. Then he slowly shakes his head. "No," he says quietly, and then again, a little louder and more confident, "No. I'm just not like you."
Bellatrix flinches at the disdain in his voice. It surprises her, how much this sentence makes her feel as if someone punched a hole into her guts. His opinion of her doesn't matter. Maybe it's because she never expected him to say something like this.
Some of the surprise and hurt must have shown on his face, because he immediately looks guilty. "Sorry," he murmurs," I didn't mean it that way."
But he did, she knows it, and he knows it, too. Just as she is about to huff and act indifferent, he slowly extends his hand and touches her face, his fingers tracing the lines of her cheekbones and caressing her skin. Her breath hitches and her first reflex is to recoil, but she finds that she is too surprised to even move. Bellatrix knows she should push him away, and part of her wants to, but she doesn't. No one has ever touched her this way, so soft and tender and careful, almost lovingly. Not her husband – certainly not her husband, whom she despises for being a crybaby and a whimp and too weak to do anything and who doesn't love her, never has and never will, who only married her because their parents arranged it, because it was a profitable deal – nor the Dark Lord, the only one whose touch and love and approval she ever desired.
No one has ever looked at her that way, either, so torn between what's right and what's wrong, and yet so immersed. Bellatrix knows she is a good-looking woman – or at least she used to be; she has no idea what she looks like now – but the look most men regard her with is one of fear, not of desire. A stupid, childish desire, yet desire nonetheless. She looks at him, so young and still almost naive and innocent, so honest and open, and for a moment she almost regrets what she has to do. A part of her thinks she would like to stay like this for a little longer, and pretend she was someone she could never be.
Bellatrix surprises herself, then, by leaning forward and pressing her lips to his. Fred stiffens with surprise and remains motionless for an excruciatingly long second, before his lips tentatively start to move against hers. They are soft and tender, just like she expected. He moves his hand to tangle his fingers in her hair and pulls her closer.
That is the opportunity she has waited for.
With one swift movement, Bellatrix brings her arms around his waist, grabs his wand and pushes his away with all her strength. Fred yelps in surprise and loses his balance, falling back onto his rear. "Stupor," Bellatrix says almost casually, and then he doesn't move anymore. Her smile of triumph dies on her lips, though, and so she simply turns and takes care of the rope binding her to the wall.
"Accio, wand," she commands. A blink of an eye later, she hears the whooshing sound of her wand flying towards her. She catches it and let's his wand fall to the ground. Maybe she should destroy it, but she doesn't. She just walks away and out of the door, leaving him and all the shattered dreams behind. She knows where she belongs. She knows who she wants. She knows who she is, and who she could never be.
So she returns to the Dark Lord, secretly hoping that one day, maybe he might look at her the way Fred did.
A/N.: ...reviews, please?