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Chapter 24 : The Good Fight
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“Relax,” Bellatrix muttered out of the corner of her mouth, knowing full well that the vampires were very aware of their presence and had exceptional hearing. “You’re just supposed to make sure they don’t kill me. I’ll take care of everything.”
Marlow nodded. “I know,” he said.
Bellatrix scoffed and boldly walked over to the vampires. She knew that she had their complete attention, which would make this so much easier.
“We have visitors, boys,” said the female vampire. “Wizards.” She looked at Bellatrix lazily. “What’s your name, hon?”
“I’m Bellatrix Black,” Bellatrix said seriously. “I’m a servant of the Dark Lord Voldemort, and I’m here with an offer from him.”
“Let me guess,” said one of the male vampires lazily. “He wants us to join him.”
“Well, yes,” Bellatrix said, caught slightly off-guard.
“Bellatrix,” said the female vampire. Her voice sounded so alluring. “What a pretty name. And you look so young! How old are you, hon?”
“Eighteen,” Bellatrix said.
“Heh. I remember being eighteen,” said one of the other male vampires. The female silenced him with a sharp look that made Bellatrix’s skin curl.
Then the female turned back to Bellatrix. “Bellatrix,” she said in that same alluring voice, “eighteen is way too young to be dedicating your life to being the servant of anybody. Why, I was 287 years old when I first joined up with these idiots. So tell me, hon, why are you throwing your life away for somebody else? Your aura is just bursting with power.”
“It’s all worth it,” Bellatrix said. “Every second. You said that my aura was bursting with power, and most of that power comes from the Dark Lord. He gave me my purpose in life, gave me something to live for and work toward every day. And he believes in me like no one else ever has.”
“Your power doesn’t come from anybody else. You were born powerful. You just need to believe yourself more. I’m sensing a lot of insecurity.”
“If this isn’t appealing to you then I’m explaining it wrong,” Bellatrix insisted. “He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I know that if you let him, he can change your life, too.”
“What if I told you that I’m already happy with my life?”
Bellatrix shook her head stubbornly. “You don’t know happy. There’s no way you could. But I’m telling you, you can.”
The female vampire looked over at the four other vampires. “The girl sounds convincing,” she said.
“You’re right,” said one of the male vampires. He walked right over to Bellatrix until he was standing right in front of her, about a centimeter away from her. Bellatrix didn’t even flinch. She just stood there. “But what about her friend?” he asked, suddenly shooting a look in Marlow’s direction. Bellatrix followed his gaze just in time to see Marlow Disapparate.
Bellatrix scoffed. “That bastard is nothing but a rotten coward,” she said, looking back at the vampire.
“And you?” he asked, his voice a low growl. “Are a coward, young Bellatrix Black?”
“No,” Bellatrix said evenly. “No, I’m not.”
“And tell me, Bellatrix Black, would you die for this man who you so willingly come here for?”
“Without hesitation,” Bellatrix said solemnly.
And then the world just kind of stopped. She could feel his teeth sink into her neck. It hurt like hell, but it was also one of the greatest things that she had ever experienced. She could feel her blood rushing up to her neck. After about a second, the greatness of the feeling disappeared and it just plain hurt. She sort of lost the luxury of being out of it. She found herself very aware of everything that was happening, and she could also feel herself growing weaker and weaker. As soon as she grew so weak that she couldn’t stand on her own two feet, the vampire stopped drinking her blood and Bellatrix collapsed onto the ground. She tried to stand back up, but she fell back down. Then the second time she tried to stand, she succeeded.
“Impressive,” said the female vampire. “I was right. The girl’s powerful.”
“Indeed,” said the vampire who bit her. He turned to Bellatrix and said. “Go back and tell your master that’ll we’ll consider—no, strongly consider—his offer.” He shook his head like a wet dog might to get off the water.
Bellatrix smiled tightly. “Thank you for your consideration,” she said. She Apparated back to where she knew the Dark Lord was waiting for her.
“How did it go?” he asked.
Bellatrix looked up at him weakly. “Oh, it was lovely,” she said. “I got bit, Marlow completely abandoned me, and they told me to tell you that they’ll strongly consider your offer.” She winced from the pain she still felt from the bite. She tenderly put her hand over the bite mark. She looked up at the Dark Lord. “And I’m really sorry about what happened. But, My Lord, I was at Hogwarts, and it’s impossible to Apparate on Hogwarts grounds.”
“I know,” the Dark Lord said. “So how did you get here?”
“There’s a secret passageway in Hogwarts that leads to Hogsmeade,” Bellatrix said. “I just went to Hogsmeade and then Apparated from there.”
“That’s very resourceful of you,” the Dark Lord commented. “But don’t worry. Marlow will be taken care of.” He pointed his wand at Bellatrix’s neck and the bite wounds instantly healed. “You may go back to Hogwarts now. I suppose you’ll have a lot of explaining to do.”
Bellatrix shrugged. “It depends. Rodolphus said he’d cover for me, but I’m not sure how well the cover will work.”
“You’d better go, then. Expect to hear from me again soon.”
Bellatrix smiled. “Okay.” She Disapparated and Apparated back to Hogsmeade, then from there she went back to Hogwarts. She had completely lost track of the time, so to be safe, she decided to just go back to the common room. At the top of the staircase, though, she saw Professors Slughorn and Dumbledore talking, and her heart leapt into her throat.
Both of them looked up and saw her, and Bellatrix hesitantly walked down the stairs. How on Earth was she supposed to explain this? She couldn’t very well say that she had been out recruiting vampires for the Dark Lord. She trusted him, though. She knew how badly he wanted her at Hogwarts, so there was no way he would’ve sent her back if he thought that as soon as he did she would get expelled.
“Bellatrix,” Dumbledore said. “How are you?” His voice sounded casual enough.
“Um, kind of faint, honestly,” Bellatrix said. She felt like she could collapse at any time.
Dumbledore nodded his head. “Do you feel like you need to go to the Hospital Wing?”
“No. I’ll be fine,” Bellatrix said with what she hoped was a convincing smile.
“Professor Dumbledore, can we continue this conversation later?” Professor Slughorn asked. “I need to borrow Bella for a minute.”
“Of course, Horace,” Professor Dumbledore said. He turned to Bellatrix. “Feel better,” he said.
“Come here, Bella,” Professor Slughorn said. “Come on into my office.”
Before they could take two steps, Narcissa suddenly popped out of nowhere and said, “Professor Slughorn?”
He turned to Narcissa kindly and said, “What can I do for you?”
Narcissa quickly looked at Bellatrix, then turned back to Slughorn. “I was just in Transfiguration and Professor McGonagall sent me to see if you had a potion on hand that would, say, cure a certain stupid person who transfigured a certain other stupid person into a half-chicken that regular magic won’t fix.”
“I’m sure I do,” Professor Slughorn said. “Why don’t you come to my office and we can take a look and see what I have? Bella, you come, too. I still need to talk to you.”
The three of them walked into Slughorn’s office, and he quickly found the potion that Narcissa needed. He handed it to her.
“Thanks, Professor Slughorn,” Narcissa said. She turned to Bellatrix. “I’ll see you later, Bella,” she said. She hugged Bellatrix, and as she did, she whispered, “Puke,” in her ear so quietly that Bellatrix wasn’t really sure she heard her right. Why would Narcissa tell her to puke?
After Narcissa left, Slughorn invited Bella to sit in the chair across from his desk and he sat behind the desk. “Okay, Bella,” he said. “Are you sure you’re feeling okay? You took off in kind of a hurry.”
“Yeah, sorry about that,” Bellatrix said. Then everything clicked. Rodolphus said that he would cover for her, and he must’ve told Slughorn that she had to throw up, then told Narcissa to tell her. She would have to remember to thank both of them. Like, a lot. “I’m feeling a lot better now.”
“You don’t look very well,” Slughorn said, his voice full of concern.
“I know, but I feel so much better,” Bellatrix assured him. “I’ll be fine.”
“Okay. When does your next class start?”
“It’s not until after lunch,” Bellatrix said.
“Oh, okay. So you have some time, then.”
“Look, Bella, I understand that things happen and people get sick. It’s a part of life. But next time, just promise me that you’ll tell me, okay? If Rodolphus hadn’t told me where you were, I wouldn’t have known where you were.
You still don’t have a clue where I was, Bellatrix thought. “I’m sorry, Professor Slughorn. I just—well, it all happened so fast, and I didn’t want to risk getting sick all over the room.”
Slughorn looked satisfied. “Okay. You may go. See me later about making up the work.”
Bellatrix smiled. “Okay. Thank you, sir.”
She walked out of his office, but as soon as she did, she raced back to the common room. To her surprise, Narcissa was standing in a corner, talking to Lucius Malfoy. As soon as Bellatrix walked in, though, Narcissa ran over to her and threw her arms around her. “Oh my gosh, Bella, Rodolphus told me what happened,” she said quickly. “Are you okay? You didn’t look so hot in Slughorn’s office.”
“Wait. I thought you were in Transfiguration,” Bellatrix said.
“I was. But as it turns out, McGonagall does have a heart, despite what she’d like everybody to believe. So don’t tell her I told you her secret, okay? But after that little accident, I offered to go get the potion, and by the time I got back to class, she had dismissed everyone early. Rodolphus is in the boy’s dorm waiting for you.”
“Okay, I’ll go talk to him,” Bellatrix said. She engulfed her sister in another hug. “But, Cissa, thank you so much. You absolutely saved me today.”
Narcissa shrugged. “It was just good luck. But go talk to Rodolphus. I need to go do some more work on the most stubborn person to ever walk the face of the earth. I’m telling you, this was so much easier when Lucius was my boyfriend.”
Bellatrix smiled. “Good luck.”
Narcissa scrunched her face. “Thanks. I’m gonna need it.” She grinned. “It’s totally worth it, though.”
Bellatrix smiled again, then walked into the boys dormitory, where sure enough, Rodolphus was waiting for her. He was sitting on his bed and Bellatrix immediately walked over to him and wrapped her arms around him tightly and planted a kiss on his lips. “Rodolphus Lestrange, thank you so, so, so much,” Bellatrix said. “You completely saved my life, especially by telling Cissa everything.”
“Oh. She found you, then?” Rodolphus asked.
Rodolphus smiled. “She’s a good kid. I really like her.”
“Yeah, she’s pretty great,” Bellatrix said. “So, what did you want to talk to me about?”
“I just wanted to make sure everything went okay today.”
“No, it really didn’t,” Bellatrix said. “I had to go recruit vampires, the guy I went with completely abandoned me, and I got bit.”
“Are you okay?” Rodolphus asked quickly.
“Yes, I’m fine,” Bellatrix assured him. “I swear, I’m going to start charging a sickle every time someone asks me that.”
“I was just making sure.”
“Well, yes, I’m fine. But, Rodolphus, there’s something I’ve been wanting to ask you.”
“What is it?” Rodolphus asked.
“I—Well, I sort of wanted to ask you about your sister,” Bellatrix said nervously.
Rodolphus looked surprised. “Who told you about Renee?” he asked.
“Cissa did. It was part of her, ‘I-can-prove-you-can-trust-me’ speech,” Bellatrix said. “Rabastan told her.”
Rodolphus took a deep breath. “Well, there isn’t much to tell, really. She’s a squib. After my parents kicked her out, she went to Malfoy’s house. Now she wants to leave and they pretty much won’t let her.”
“Why?” Bellatrix asked.
“Why does she want to leave or why won’t they let her?”
Bellatrix shrugged. “Both, I guess.”
“She wants to leave because she’s in love with this Irish guy, Charles Nawng. She wants to get married to him. But they won’t let her leave because I guess they kind of got used to having her around and just assumed that she’d be there forever. And she thinks that it’s also because this guy she likes is a pureblood and, well, you know how the Malfoys are. They’re just as bad as your family.”
Bellatrix stared into her lap. “Well, then you can blame my family and how I was raised all you want, but I can’t believe my own sister is trying to convince Lucius to change his mind about that.”
“Don’t blame her,” Rodolphus said. “You don’t know my brother. He was going to get her help one way or another. It just so happened that Narcissa is profiting just as much as Rabastan is. Don’t think of it like her helping the enemy. Think of it as her being willing to do anything to get what she wants.”
Bellatrix smiled. “That’s something I get,” she said. “More than you even know. Thanks, Rodolphus.”
“You’re welcome. Thank you, too, Bella.”
Bellatrix walked out of the dormitory, and to her surprise, Andromeda was waiting for her. “Hey, Meda,” Bellatrix said.
“Hey, Bella,” Andromeda said. “Cissa told me what happened today.”
Bellatrix swallowed slowly. “And…?”
“Do you feel like working on homework together or something? And we can talk about some stuff?”
“Yeah, sure,” Bellatrix said, a genuine smile forming on her face. “I’d love to.”
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