With a previous draft of this chapter, I wrote myself into a corner that I didn't like because the direction I'd outlined for the story just didn't feel like it was going to do it justice. So then—of course—I got myself into a nice long spell of writer's block and was completely stuck. So, let's hope that's out of the way now!

Sorry I was gone so long, but I hope you'll let me know I'm forgiven and let me know your reactions when you leave a comment. Enjoy!


He paced the narrow room, resisting the urge to check the mantle clock one more time. Bellatrix had told him it wouldn't be that long. He was sure this was what he had been waiting for. The witch, for whatever reason, seemed to have powers that could not be matched. The destruction of the cabin in a fit of rage and then the repair of the same cabin within a short amount of time was mere hint at her power.

He could feel the strain of want in his chest. If he could tap into that power…

He shot another glare at the clock on the mantle, and his long fingered curled.

She would not cooperate willingly. Without a doubt she would fight him, but there were ways around that.

His lips curled into a smile as he shot at look at the crumpled form in the corner of the room. The man's mess of dark hair was mattered over his thin face. The ropes that bound his wrist needed to be changed but that was a matter for another time.

The pacing figure halted, then in a few quick strides was across the room and knelt in front of the broken man. He stretched out his wand and lifted James Potter's chin.

James' head remained upright for a moment, then lulled to the side. He still hadn't recovered from the string of curses inflicted on him the previous evening.

A thin pale hand shot out and grabbed a handful of hair and turned the face upward again.

James' lips parted, cracking the dried blood that had pooled near his mouth, but he didn't wake. The thin fingers snapped sharply across James' face, but he still did not wake. Disgusted, the man flung James away from him and watched as the limp form collapsed face down on the floor again.

Lily Evans would give him the power boost he needed. There were old spells and potions that would allow him to drain her of her power. Bellatrix had begun to feed her the early drafts.

Any time now Bellatrix would bring Lily here and then he could begin to move things forward.

Tightening his fingers around his wand, he strode quickly from the room. He extinguished the lamps with a quick flick of his hand, then shut and locked the door behind him, sealing James Potter back in the darkness.

Lily looked around the opulent room, her eyes landing on the goblet Bellatrix had left for her to drink. She didn't feel like drinking anything, but Bellatrix had been adamant that the drink would help to calm her which would be better for her and the babies.

Lily ran her hand over the bump under her shirt. Her chest was knotted with anxiety but she couldn't stop the grin cross her face as she felt the movement beneath her fingers. She inhaled deeply and rubbed her hand over the baby. "We will talk to your father," she promised softly. "He will have to talk to us."

She felt the familiar threat of anger bubbling in her chest as she thought about Severus. Why was he being so horrible to her? What made him think he had any right to treat her that way?

Her stomach knotted with her temper and Lily found herself stomping across the room and downing the drink.

Bellatrix was right, she felt an immediate sense of calm begin to take over her. Her anger at Severus suddenly seemed trivial and unimportant as she felt a new sensation wash over her. Her fingers tingled and she straightened herself. The welcome feeling of power rushed through her as it had at the hospital. An unexpected giggle bubbled from her lips.

Lily ran her fingers through her hair and stopped as she caught her reflection in the mirror. She looked as though a building had fallen on her. And as her lips curled into something like a smile, she twirled her wand over her head and gleefully watched the shower of golden lights.

When the lights had faded, Lily looked at herself in the mirror. Her red hair was gleaming as it fell in gentle waves around her shoulders. Her thin fame was draped in an ivory silk, the flowing fabric scooped across her shoulder and drifted around her wrist. The bodice was fitted around her swollen chest and the silken folds floated around her stomach and she smiled as she reached her arms down and cupped her stomach.

Tired of waiting for Bellatrix, Lily pointed her wand at the door—something had told her she would be locked in and she indeed was—and she made it swing open. Lily stepped out and looked down the hallway. Several feet of flooring spanned between her and a banister. She walked forward and looked over to the moon splashed marble below. She wasn't sure where she was. They had apparated into the room, then Bellatrix locked Lily inside and left.

Lily rand her hand over the railing, and looked down the hall. There were more rooms with their doors firmly closed and the house was still. She listened for movement but could only hear her own intake of breath.

She started toward the steps, her gaze flitting over the dark hair and faces of the witches and wizards in large gilded frames on the wall. None of them looked particularly pleasant or familiar. They sneered back at her curious gaze but no one said a word.

She looked at the large front door, but turned to explore deeper into the interior of the house. She passed the doorway of a large dining room with a massive marble fireplace; she paused only a moment as she saw the figure of woman with a mess of long dark curls dart out of a frame.

Behind her, she heard the soft patter of small feet and turned only in time to see a small figure round the corner.

"Wait!" she called, the burst of her voice echoed off the walls.

She rushed forward and looked around, but the tiny figure was gone. Lily pursed her lips. Surely it must have been a house elf in a house this size. She didn't necessarily want to talk with the elf, but she did wonder where everyone else was in the house hold.

"Lily," a soft, slow voice called.

Lily jumped at the voice and spun quickly to face and man with white blonde hair and a very serious expression. He was familiar but her mind fumbled for his name.

"I thought you were in your room, is there something you need?"

Lily shook her head and tried not to let her surprise show. "No. I—I was just…I thought Bellatrix would be back by now."

He tilted his eyes, studying her.

"I didn't catch your name," Lily said as he gaze was starting to make her feel uncomfortable.

He raised his chin the smallest fraction. "I'm a friend of Bella's. My name is Lucius."

The name dinged something in Lily's mind but she still couldn't place it. She felt Lucius gaze take in all of her appearance.

She raised her eyebrows as though challenging him to say something to her. "Something wrong?"

Lucius smiled politely and shook his head. "Not at all Ms. Evans. I'm not sure what is keeping Bellatrix, but perhaps you would join me for some tea."

The shift in the room was unnerving and unexpected. Lily nodded and followed him into a library she had not noticed before.

"Kinney," Lucius called, sitting down in a plush arm chair. The elf Lily must have seen earlier came hurrying into the room and immediately bowed before him. "We would like some tea. And be sure that you get the tea Miss Bella left for Lily."

The elf shot a terrified glance and Lily and hurried from the room.

Lucius waited for Lily to settle herself then he leaned forward, folding his fingers and resting his elbows on his knees. "Forgive me for my rudeness, but this wasn't the outfit in which you arrived?"

His odd statement was really a question that hung in the air and Lily wasn't sure why it mattered, but when he said nothing else she shrugged her tiny shoulders. "I realized what a mess I was and cast a charm."

"Nice spell work," he complimented, leaning back in his chair.

There was an air of calm and ownership around him, but she was sure this was actually Bellatrix's home and not his. She watched him for a moment then leaned forward herself. "Why are you here?"

"I beg your pardon?" he answered softy.

Lily raised her eyebrows, she liked taking him by surprise. "Why are you here? Where is Bellatrix? Are you here to watch me?"

Lucius' mouth curved but it wasn't quite a smile. "Do you need watching, Ms. Evans?"

"It depends upon the situation I'm in," she answered, her voice getting rather steely. "Bellatrix had something to show me, she made it seem rather important. I can't imagine why she would suddenly leave."

"She had business to attend to," he answered simply.

Lily narrowed her eyes. Business to attend to? What could have possibly occurred that was so demanding? The calm feeling she'd been relishing was quickly evaporating and had been replaced by an acute irritation.

"And I—while I'm not here to watch you—I am here if you needed anything."

Lily glared at him. "I need to talk to Bellatrix."

The house elf bustled back into the room and set the tea tray on the small table between them. Lucius reached for a cup and Kinney cried out in a high-pitched voice, "That is not yours, sir!"

The pleasant mask Lucius has been wearing faltered for just an instant as he snapped his eyes to the elf. Sensing trouble, the elf dropped her gaze to the ground and took a few hasty steps back. "That is Miss Lily's special drink, sir," she said in a rushed tone that was hardly above a whisper.

Lucius tore his eyes from the elf and looked to Lily, handing her the cup. "Then this would be yours."

Lily took the cup but noticed the way the elf's wide eyes watched her before darting to the floor. "That would be all," Lucius snapped at the elf and Kinney hurried from the room.

Lily felt her grip tighten around the fragile handle of the tea cup as she felt like her mind was trying put pieces of several different puzzles together. Why had Bellatrix left? Why was she here with Lucius? Why had the elf looked at her that way? Irritation at her confusion began to heat Lily's blood. She hated a problem she didn't feel she could solve.

"You should drink that before it gets cold," Lucius said, nodding his head to indicate her cup.

Lily looked down at it; it did smell delicious. But why had Bellatrix left her anything special? In hopes just to keep her occupied and try to clear her mind, Lily took a drink from the cup. The flavors were delightful and she found herself taking another quick drink and soon the cup was empty.

Lucius watched her replace her cup and saucer on the tea tray and smiled at her. "You seemed like you enjoyed that."

Lily shrugged and sat back in her chair, her hand absently rubbing over her stomach as she could feel one of the babies moving.

"I've been looking forward to meeting you," Lucius said slowly. "Bellatrix has told many of her friends all about you."

"Really?" Lily answered, raising her eyebrows. "And what exactly did she say?"

"That she thinks you're a rare and talented witch."

Lily titled her head and met his gaze. "I am."

Lucius smirked. "Confident?"

"I have no reason not to be. But do my talents matter to you, Lucius?"

"I always enjoy being around those who have great potential."

Lily wasn't particularly enjoying his company. She felt like they were talking in circles and she wished she hadn't encountered him. "That's very interesting," she said, her gaze flitting around the room. She rose to her feet and gently inclined her head in his direction. "I'm going to go back to my room now."

Lucius stood too, his movements were surprisingly quick as he came forward and grabbed her arm. "My dear, Lily," he said cooly, his eyes glancing at a clock above another fireplace. "You only have to wait a little longer before the entertainment begins."

Lily knew she couldn't jerk out of his grasp and as she met his dark eyes, she felt a chill run down her spine.