A Thin Red Line
Disclaimer: I do not own any components of the Harry Potter series, but I do own this twist on the story!
Summary: Under the pretense of house unity, Harry gets paired with Elladora Malfoy, a proud fifth year Slytherin who firmly believes in the ideals of her parents and the bigotry that is the Malfoy way. But is this truly who she is? As she is torn between lies and the truth, can Harry help her find the way to uncovering her true identity while a war wages around them?
Author's Note: Hello readers! Thanks for clicking on the story; I hope you all enjoy it. This story is set in Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts. The first two chapters are setting the stage, after that it will jump to sixth year and switch points of view frequently. I will try to update as fast as I can, but real life comes first. Happy reading!
Prologue Part I: Search and Destroy
The ink on the quill scratched smoothly across the parchment as the man wrote at his desk. The illuminated candles beside him flickered, causing his stormy eyes to glance at the dancing flame, curious about its unnatural waver. The room was filled with a near dead silence, until the light patter of shoes on rich, oak wood drifted to his ears. Setting his quill down, his eyes glanced over the long shadows the candles in the room created, looming towards the door.
The door burst open in one swift movement, snuffing out the flames. The only light in the room came from the ominous glow of the fireplace. From the shadows, he saw a silhouette of a figure, tall and confident, causing him to narrow his eyes. What could she possibly want?
"Lucius," came the excited greeting from his sister-in-law. He lifted a delicately arched eyebrow as she strode forth into the room, coming to a halt in front of his desk. He waited for her to say something but nothing came; she merely stared at him with a heavy intensity. Her face was pale, the large purple bags under her eyes bold from the stark contrast of her skin. Her hair was a frazzled mess, but she had an eerie smile on her face. She appeared happier than he'd seen her in weeks.
The blonde looked back down at his desk, picking up his quill once again to resume his work. He was becoming increasingly irritated with her presence as he could see her shaking before him out of the corner of his eye.
"I found her." Bellatrix blurted out, no longer able to contain herself.
"Who?" Lucius asked lazily, his elegant looping cursive covering the parchment.
Bellatrix growled in inpatients, laying her hands flat on the surface of the desk as she looked steadily into his eyes.
"Who do you think?" Bellatrix questioned sarcastically, staring at the idiot before her as she saw the cogs turn in his brain, trying to decipher who she meant. She sighed in frustration at the blank look on his face, "Her Lucius. The girl. Who else have we spent the last few months looking for?"
"What?" Lucius asked sharply, his eyes snapping to her excited face.
"I found her." Bellatrix repeated triumphantly, putting a little too much emphasis on the 'I' than Lucius would have liked. A proud smirk graced her features, causing a small burst of anger to flare from within his chest, but he quickly quelled it. In an instant, he was up from his chair and strode quickly around his desk, bumping the table in his haste. The inkwell tipped and the elegant eagled quill he had received from his father fell with it, the end catching on a smoldering tip of a candle, singeing the end. But he didn't care. This was far more important.
"Who?" He asked in a sharp, demanding voice.
The smirk on Bellatrix's face widened.
She stood for a few moments, loving the suspense and ire that she knew was building within the blonde, before taking a step back. She said nothing but reached inside her silken black robes and pulled out a picture.
She tossed the picture flippantly to him, crossing her arms proudly over her chest. Lucius caught it with a fervent haste and quickly flipped the photo over. His eyes scanned the photograph, and although his face gave nothing away, Bellatrix knew he felt the same surprise she had when she saw his eyebrows raise ever so slightly. Her glittering black eyes studied his face as his eyes bore into the picture.
Moments passed, the cracking of the fire the only noise filling the room, before his demeanor relaxed. He drew his head and body to his full height, his eyes meeting her keen features.
He smirked, "I see."
"This is disgusting," Bellatrix whined, a look of absolute revulsion on her face as she stared down at the goblet, "I am not-"
"Yes, you are." Lucius growled, thrusting the goblet into her hand, a tuff of hair being pushed into the other. She flinched at the contact, pinching the hair between her thumb and index finger as if trying to have it come in contact with as little of her skin as possible.
"You're acting like a petulant child. Now pull yourself together, you are doing this."
"Lucius this is ridiculous. Why do we have to go this far, to this extreme-"
"Because this is the way it has to be done. This is the most surefire and safest way to complete our mission. We cannot afford to be caught. Especially me. I've convinced the ministry my actions were not of my own-"
"You were a coward-" She snarled, interrupting him briefly.
"-to protect my family." He continued, glaring at her. She snorted and shook her head, looking away from him as well.
"There has to be another way. We can transfigure our features…"
"No, it's too risky. It has to be this way." As Bellatrix began to protest once again, Lucius's lips turned up into a half smirk, half snarl. "Or maybe you don't have as much devotion to our Lord as you have led others to believe."
It had worked, just as he expected.
Bellatrix's eyes flashed, smoldering as she turned a hate-filled glare onto Lucius. Her grip around the jewel encrusted goblet doubled and a small crack appeared on the side of the glass.
She lifted a threatening finger, her voice coming out in a ground whisper, "Never question my loyalty to my Lord ever again. I am the most devoted to him, his second in command, I would do anything for him-"
"Then drink." Lucius said simply, challenging her statement. She threw him another venomous glare before dropping the hairs into the concoction. The liquid hissed inside the cup, smoke billowing forth from the very core. Try as she might, the raven haired witch could not keep the disgusted expression from her features as she raised the glass to her lips, choking the drink back.
After several seconds she stopped and began to gag, looking to put down the glass.
"It's in your mind Bellatrix, just drink the damn potion."
Bellatrix shuttered but obeyed, bringing the glass to her lips once again. This time she drained it back, opening her throat so as to not taste the grayish lumps as she finished the glass.
Gasping for air, she put the glass on the table and shivered, her hands clutching the marbled countertop.
"There's nothing worse," She choked out, "than muggle."
Lucius rolled his eyes at her dramatics, though silently agreeing with her, before dropping a few strands of black hair into the liquid himself. He stirred it around, his nose scrunched in disgust from the foul odor it emitted. Lifting the glass, he swallowed the potion quickly, his face hardly tensing as he did.
As he finished, he dropped the goblet onto the counter as well, his hands too grasping onto the side for support. He closed his eyes as his skin gave a painful lurch, his hand bubbling from the effects of the potion. He cringed when he felt his body morph, becoming broader and more muscled than before. He heard Bellatrix struggling beside him as well, as she too began to transform.
"Thank Merlin that's over." Bellatrix breathed to his left a few minutes later, shifting to stand upright.
Lucius opened his eyes, raising them to the mirror mounted on the ivory green walls. Staring back at him was not his usual elegant blonde hair or stormy blue eyes. His reflection resembled that of a weightlifter, and of poor breeding, his face unfortunately clumped together around the nose, giving him a large forehead and chin. His ears stuck out behind thick black hair, reminding him vaguely of that bumbling oaf half-bred pet of Dumbledore's that always clunked around that grounds of the school. He turned to his right, noticing the change in Bellatrix's features as well. Her hair fell down her back in long brunette curls. Her lips were pink and full, with bright piercing eyes. Her cheekbones were high giving her a posh regal look. His eyes drifted down to her chest, then the small curve of her back to slim tanned legs. The sound of her voice snapped him back to attention.
"Let's get on with this then, I don't want to be in this body any longer than I need to." Bellatrix lashed out, crossing her arms over her chest as she looked at him expectantly.
"Fine," He said, reaching over to a chair to grab a set of clothes, "Wear this."
She grabbed the muggle clothes from the now raven haired man, her face twisting as she felt the cloth.
"Such simple clothes-"
"Just put them on." He barked, not wanting to hear her complaining anymore. He pulled off his now tight robes and shirt, working on the belt of his pants when he heard Bellatrix clear her throat.
He glanced sideways at her, noticing she hadn't moved an inch.
"What are you doing? Get going, we only have the one batch of potion, which if I need to remind you, we just drank. We have one hour. Exactly. We don't have time to waste."
"I know that," She snapped back, irritated at his tone, "I need to change."
Lucius rolled his eyes, "Well get on with it then."
Lucius scoffed to himself but looked up at her still form.
"As a heart attack." She said, no trace of humor on her face.
Lucius growled, "What's it matter? It's not like it's you. I'm changing in front of you-"
"Yes and as lovely as that sight is," She drawled, the sarcasm ringing through his ears, "Get out."
"Fine." He snatched up his clothes and exited the room. He once again began changing when Bellatrix came up to the door. He unconsciously looked her over once again before meeting her eyes. She smirked, pulling her robes up tantalizingly, showing off more of her toned legs before slamming the door shut.
"Hurry up." Lucius hissed out of the corner of his mouth.
"I'm trying, something's off with this muggle, it's like her legs aren't the same length. I keep having to limp and it's popping out my hip-"
"I don't care."
Beside him Bellatrix stopped, placing her hand against the brick wall beside her.
"Wait, I have to-"
But Lucius didn't let her finish. He grabbed her arms and looked around them at the bustle of people, before yanking her into a less populated alleyway.
"Get your act together Bellatrix," He said, pointing a threatening finger at her, only inches away from her face. "You are not going to mess this up for me-"
"For you?" She hissed, and though her eyes were much different, the same emotion of hate shone through them as they had before. "Need I remind you that I was the one who found her, who found out where they'd be, at what time? You did nothing, but now you're acting like you're the one giving orders? I don't think so."
She reached inside her robes subtly as she talked, grasping onto her wand before resting the tip threateningly over his heart.
"I give the orders Lucius. This is my mission. You should know better than to aggravate me." She gave a satisfied smirk as she watched his Adam's apple bob from a heavy gulp, backing away from her immediately.
He cleared his throat and regained his posture, turning swiftly on his heels as though the incident had never happened, marching back into the sea of people.
Bellatrix followed silently behind him as they quickly wove their way through the crowded street. They had not anticipated it being this crowded. It would make their job much more challenging. She suggested another time when they had entered Diagon Alley and saw the crowded street, but Lucius had insisted they continued. But now, as they neared the end of the street, the road dividing into two parts, their eyes all the while scanning the crowd for their target, she thought maybe it wasn't such a good idea.
"Lucius, this isn't the right time, it's much too crowded. Besides, maybe our source had been wrong, maybe they're not here."
"They are here."
"Where?" Bellatrix hissed, stretching out her arms. "We're nearing the end of the street and we haven't caught sight of any of them."
"Then we'll circle back around and look again," He snapped. He immediately regretted his tone when he saw her brow crease while her wand twitched in her hand. He carried on in a lighter tone, "You said they were very clear and sure-
"Yes but he's also a blundering fool and possibly got the people mixed up. He works at the ministry after all."
Bellatrix huffed and turned away, ignoring his voice. Her eyes scanned the crowd hopelessly before she straightened, gripping Lucius's arm hard in her hand.
"And I don't- What?"
"There." She hissed, gesturing with her head to a shop across the street. Inside the window he caught a glimpse of the figure in the photograph. His heart began to race as he followed Bellatrix across the street, trying to appear as casual as possible.
The bell on the door chimed lightly in their ears. As they squeezed through the people in the doorway, a man bumped hard into Bellatrix, shoving past her roughly to get by.
"Why you insolent-" Bellatrix began with a sneer, whipping out her wand quickly.
"No." Lucius whispered in a stern voice, forcing her wand arm down as it grew red from the spell in her mind. "Not now, we're close."
Bellatrix shook with anger but breathed deeply, trying to calm her easily agitated nerves. At Lucius's apprehensive look, she pushed passed him, making her way around the shelves.
"Is she here?" Bellatrix asked Lucius from the corner of her mouth. She cast her eyes around the crowded room, moving past isle after isle in the small shop. "Maybe we missed them, maybe they already left."
"They're here somewhere, just be patient, we'll find them."
Both turned to their left to see a bubbly blonde standing beside them, in a crisp white and black uniform. She held a clipboard in her hand, and a bright smile adorned her face.
"Hello," came Lucius's voice coolly, as he gripped onto Bellatrix shoulders to keep her calm. They tried walking past her, but she kept with them, her smile never wavering from her face.
"What are you looking for today?"
"Just browsing." Lucius muttered, trying to get past her.
"Well," The woman said energetically, the high pitched sound of her voice grating on both their nerves, "We've got an excellent selection of staff recommended books up at the counter if you're interested."
"Thank you, but I believe my wife," he heard Bellatrix snort, "has something particular in mind over here."
"Alright, well, my name is Katie. If you need any help, at all, feel free to-"
"Ugh, move!" Bellatrix ground out, clenching her fists together to gather herself. She stalked past the shocked saleswoman, and Lucius trailed after her, trying to avoid the appalled looks being thrown his way.
"That wasn't exactly a way to keep unnoticed." Lucius murmured under his breath.
But Bellatrix ignored him, "Stupid mudblood. I bet she was one too, she reeked of it. How dare she approach us? I'm Bellatrix Black Lestrange," Lucius attempted to shushed her quickly, "my ancestors built the shop she so proudly works at. Common filth, that's what she is. I-"
"Control yourself." Lucius said, smacking himself mentally for Bellatrix's pureblood superiority. Even though it was rightly placed, it was getting in the way. "Or do we need to take the polyjuice potion over again?"
Bellatrix immediately stopped her rant.
"Now listen," Lucius said, "just keep quiet and look for them. They're in here somewhere. Just don't deal with anyone."
Bellatrix listen but chose not to acknowledge him, lest it make him think he was indeed in charge. She strode throughout the store, Lucius doing the same, keeping their eyes peeled for any sign of the figures in the photograph. Turning a corner, Lucius smacked right into a man, causing them both to stagger back slightly.
"Oh, I'm sorry about that," the man exclaimed, adjusting his crooked glasses. "Wasn't watching were I was going I suppose. It's a bit crowded in here today. I knew we should have gone earlier, everyone else is here for their Christmas shopping, but well," the man gave a chuckle, gesturing back to his wife, "she always wins."
Lucius resisted the strong urge to step back in disgust, throwing out the customary mocking comment at the man. Instead, he gave a forced smile.
"I know what you mean."
"Dear, could you help please?" The woman behind him said, holding a fidgeting baby in her hands.
"Coming sweetheart," the man said. He gave Lucius one last friendly grin before turning around to help his wife. Lucius began to smile back, but as soon as the man's face was turned, it became a scowl. But as his eyes watched the two adults lightly argue back and forth, his attention drifted to the child now in a buggy. There she was, within their grasp. Now all he needed was a way to-
"Lucius, I can't find them anywhere, they must have left. If we hurry, we may be able to-" Began the well-known feminine voice from behind him, but as he stepped out of the way and turned her, she fell silent, an eerie grin appearing on her face.
"Now we have to be calm about this Bella. One wrong move and it's over. We're done."
"Of course." Bellatrix said, nodding lightly. The couple in front of them paid Lucius and Bellatrix no heed, too occupied with their children.
"You distract the family, I'll grab the child."
Bellatrix gave a fierce expression, "I'll grab her, she's too precious for you to go about it. She's mine."
Lucius backed off as Bellatrix's unblinking eyes focused solely on her target.
"Get on with it then, we haven't got much time."
Bellatrix eagerly started forth, hardly giving notice to the parents. She noticed their backs were turned and, seeing the opportunity, reached out, her hands going for the child.
Just as her hands reached inside the buggy, the man who had bumped into Lucius turned around, causing Bellatrix to fall forward, pretending she had tripped.
"Oh goodness, are you alright?" The man asked, coming to her aid immediately.
"Fine," she snapped harshly, roughly pulling her arm out of his grasp. She stood up, brushing the dust off her clothes before catching Lucius eye. He glared at her, mouthing the words, 'be nice.'
She turned back to the startled man, forcing her lips to pull back into a smile.
"I-I'm fine. Thank you for your help, it's very kind of you." She said sweetly, her blood boiling beneath her veins to have to be civil with these people.
"Oh, it was no trouble," the man said with a genuine smile. He looked down at his daughter, warmth in his eyes as he bent down, adjusting her shirt, which she had somehow rigged her arm through the whole encircling her neck. "Here tyke, let me help you out." He smiled fondly at her before lifting her arm gently out of the hole and slipping it into her sleeve.
Bellatrix stood back annoyed, turning her body slightly to the shelf once again. She pulled out a book from the lowest shelf, flipping through the pages as she pretended to be interested at what she was reading, but on the inside, immensely irritated with the man and his brat.
Lucius had known Bellatrix for many years, and was therefore in tune with her emotions. He saw the annoyance flare in her eyes, saw the rigid stance she took while fiddling with a book. He was running out of time.
Casting his eyes around for something, anything to distract the parents, his eyes landed on a heavy stack of tattered, leather bound books stacked high on the counter near the parents, being heightened by their son every few minutes as he eagerly added more and more.
"No son, not that- Tit for Tat? You aren't even old enough read any of these things-"
But the boy paid him no heed, running back to a nearby shelf to add more to the teetering pile. And that's when Lucius acted.
Pulling his wand stealthily from his robes, he pointed them at the pile, muttering a spell underneath his breath. It had worked just as he had hoped. The books knocked over, colliding with the floor below. Bellatrix looked up from her book the moment the noise reached her ears, seeing the backs of the two parents.
Bellatrix jumped forward, yanking the child from within the carriage. Its face screwed up at the intrusion, and Lucius, recognizing the signs of a crying child, immediately shot a silencing spell at it. The baby opened her mouth, intending to cry, to alert her parents, but was confused to find her voice did not work. Tears coursed down her cheeks while Bellatrix hugged her to her body, flinging half of her cloak around the struggling child to hide her from view. As they darted out of the front of the store, one voice broke out over the bustle of chatter in the shop. All other occupants came to a standstill, alarmed by the mother's anguished cry.