Chapter 1 : Dark Reunions
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Chapter 1: Dark Reunions
August 10th, 1995
The soughing wind whistled through the thick tree branches and rustled the dead leaves resting on the moist grass below. It brought forth the sickly stench of damp wood.
The distorted tree trunks were tangled together, leaving scarcely enough space to pass. Dark shadows cast around these trees as the daylight quickly faded away. The emerging moonlight filtered through the many layers of branches and cast a sinister blue hue over the forest.
Amongst the dim light, a blur of black moved swiftly in and out of sight. The cloaked figure ran forth rapidly and despite the twigs that snatched greedily at its hurried feet, the runner’s pace remained gracefully steady. A sliver of light fell upon the person’s face; her frantic eyes were wide and her face pale.
The hooded woman listened intently as she ran, but heard no noise other than the sound of her own footsteps. But she knew they couldn’t be far away; a moments pause and she’d be caught.
After all, this was the moment they had been waiting for.
She’d seen them. She’d seen them impatiently creeping through the shadows of the woods. She’d seen them waiting anxiously beneath their cloaks, flitting from one corner of the property to the other, pushing the magical boundaries until they could go no further. On those days, she imagined their frustrated sneers beneath their majestic masks.
They couldn’t step a foot closer to her than she wanted them to, they couldn’t see her home, and they couldn’t lay a magical hand on her. All that they could see was a small clearing in the middle of a battered forest, perhaps where Muggles had simply cut a few trees away.
But they knew. Of course they knew.
They’d known for years. But she’d taken every precaution and had hidden herself away for more years than she could have kept track of. It had taken them too long to even find this place, far longer than she'd anticipated anyway. And for months they had struggled, unable to infiltrate through her barriers. Their master could not have been happy.
She remembered the day they had finally arrived. There were only two of them. They seemed uncertain as they walked past her enchantments cautiously.
Naturally, they could sense it...feel it in every inch of their being. There was powerful magic there and they itched to find it, to report back to their Lord, to reap the rewards. But time passed, and their every effort proved futile. The clearing stayed just as it appeared, a few missing trees amidst nowhere.
Why had the Dark Lord not come? She had asked herself this every day. After all, he would be able to get to her, would he not? Perhaps they wanted the glory of bringing her in themselves? Maybe, they were afraid that they were wrong about this spot? Their Lord would not be pleased if they reported a false hideout yet again.
Then more of them had come and she knew them all: Yaxley, Avery, Lestrange, Malfoy…
They’d changed so disturbingly that she could not help but be horrified at the sight of their deranged eyes, their horrific smiles, and their twisted faces the few times their masks were lifted. She’d known them, had seen them grow up, had shared memories with them...
How had this happened?
And now they were hunting her, their most precious prey, almost as valuable as the Boy Who Lived. The one that would bring them all the praise they could have ever wished for. And tonight was their chance, the night they had been waiting for for all these years.
For tonight was the first time Lucille DuBlanc would leave her protective home. And this time they would be rewarded.
She had tried to plan it as best as she could, but Lucille’s only hope of escape relied on a silly broom. A long piece of wood with twigs stuck to the end of it. Yes, that would be the deciding factor between life and death.
Lucille had hated the dreaded item even back in her school days.
After placing a carefully crafted Disillusionment Charm upon herself and the broom, she had not wasted a single moment before casting away from the roof of her house.
Even with her charm hiding her from view, they had sensed it. They'd felt the breech in the barriers and within seconds spells had been shot in every direction, all hoping that they would somehow strike her.
She had just reached the edge of the forest before the stress of the situation and years of unused magic finally caught up with Lucille. Her Disillusionment Charm flickered once...twice...then finally gave away, revealing her to the Death Eaters. It only took a blink of an eye to spot and bring Lucille crashing down through the trees.
Her body whipped from branch to branch and she landed next to her scorched broom with a shuddering thud. Not worrying about the odd limp in her leg, the bloody gash running down the length of her arm, nor the shooting pain in her side, Lucille sprang to her feet.
Only a few more yards and she would be able to Apparate away. She cursed herself as she had done ever since they had shown up and she’d realized there was no way out...her own charms that had been meant to protect her were, in fact, keeping her prisoner. Without a fireplace or any other mode of transportation, Lucille's only hope was to reach the border where the magic cast years ago did not reach so that she could apparate away.
Not too far ahead a small opening in the trees could be seen.
Just a little more. Just a little further. She chanted over and over in her mind.
But at the very edge of the opening, her foot hooked between a scatter of dangerously entwined roots and her body lurched to the ground with a shattering crash.
Lucille’s ankle gave a sickening crunch and she lay hoplessly on the ground. Any chance of her running again was gone. But knowing that there wasn’t much time left, she began to futilely crawl forth. The protective enchantments were becoming more and more feeble. She could feel it. A tinge of hope lit in her heart. Maybe, just maybe, this would not be the end.
Just within grasp of freedom, the small area in front of her suddenly filled with dozens of odd pops. They had Apparated right outside of the barrier. At the sound, Lucille pushed her self forward in a helpless leap in one last attempt to escape, only to be met mid-air with a solid kick to her head. She was knocked back several feet.
The woman on the ground looked up desperately as the masked figures in long, dark cloaks surrounded her in a tight-knit circle. Trying to stealthily draw her wand, Lucille realized that one of the followers in front of her already held it in his hand mockingly.
“Dropped something, I believe?”
Dark laughter echoed around her. Still in a kneeling position on the ground, she realized how weak she must have looked. Painstakingly, she struggled to stand up but fell back down at the realization of her broken ankle and throbbing head.
One brave follower stepped briskly forward, pulling her mask off and spitting proudly at the Lucille’s collapsed form.
The follower’s dark eyes glowered down at her in pure disgust and hatred. Her shock of hair bellowed in the breeze as she lowered her raised hood. The woman bowed down mockingly and jeered, “DuBlanc, what a pleasant surprise!”
The sight of Bellatrix’s maniacal eyes clenched Lucille’s chest, making her all the more frantic to escape. If she pushed hard enough she’d be able to reach safety a few feet away, maybe even Apparate mid-air before the Death Eaters could realize her intentions. The only problem was that she was simply surrounded.
“I must say, my darling Lucille,” Bellatrix circled her, as an animal would its prey, “you simply haven’t changed one bit. Let’s see that pretty face of yours.”
She bent low and snatched Lucille’s face between her hardened hands. Her sharp nails pierced into Lucille’s skin. “Precious, as always. I’m going to enjoy seeing it twist with torture soon.”
Lucille knew that she should have been preparing to use wandless curses or any magic at all—after all she had been a master. But so many years without magic had made her mind empty in this time of need.
A light sheen of sweat covered her face. She rummaged through her mind; surely not everything had been forgotten. Of course she had not forgotten…everything was there. Everything was still in her mind; it had to be! She’d simply buried that knowledge into the darkest folds of her memory, just as she’d done with her entire past long, long ago.
“The Dark Lord will be so delighted! After all our work, we’ve finally succeeded. You’re a tricky one, DuBlanc. But you were a fool to believe you could escape, to actually hide! Did you truly think that my Master would not find you?” Bellatrix threw a hysterical glance behind her. “Well, what are you waiting for, Malfoy? Summon him!”
Lucille looked past Lestrange’s looming figure to the man behind her. He hastily shook away his sleeve to reveal the Dark Mark.
Lucille had only moments before it would be too late.
“Now that our business is finished, maybe you’d appreciate a little reunion! It simply has been far too long, don’t you think?” Bellatrix’s lips twisted manically. “Rabastan, darling, join us!”
A man stepped forth slowly. Lucille recognized his figure immediately. But as he lowered his hood and took off his mask, she could barely recognize his face. It was plagued with deeply embedded scars; his nose was slightly crooked, his lips fixed with permanent malevolence, and his striking green eyes, which refused to meet her own, no longer held the precious warmth she remembered from long ago.
“Lucy.” Rabastan’s voice was hollow. Her heart sank.
“Go on Rabastan, enjoy yourself! It isn’t every day that one sees a DuBlanc at their feet!” Bellatrix walked behind Lucille and Rabastan followed slowly with his eyes still trained to the ground. "Don't be afraid darling, go on and have some fun. Look how weak she's become. Pitiable. What happened to the majestic DuBlanc, hmm?"
"Well, go on, do something Rabastan! Don't just stand there like a child! Don't you remember what she did to you all those years ago, Reb? How she toyed with you? How she betrayed you?" Bellatrix whispered into Rabastan's ears.
Rabastan finally raised his eyes to meet Lucille's. She looked into them desperately, pleading with all her might, but his eyes just fell back to the ground.
Suddenly Bellatrix, growing tired of the non-action, grabbed Lucille’s hair from behind and yanked her head back with a jerk. “It’s a pity the Dark Lord’s forbidden us to kill you right here. But don’t you worry you little traitor; he’ll let me have my fun once he’s finished with you." Bellatrix threw Lucille forward, she landed face forward on the ground.
"No one wants to enjoy this as much as me, then?" Bellatrix growled at the other Death Eaters. "Go on hex her! Torture her! Make her feel the pain the Dark Lord made us feel because of this traitor!"
Lucille pushed herself up into a kneeling position and looked at the Death Eaters surrounding her. Those who had their masks off looked away instantly at her gaze and the other shuffled about.
"You're all cowards! Cowards!" Bellatrix cried. "She's nothing of what she used to be, can't you see!? All of you, afraid of a fallen witch who doesn't even have the strength to stand? Fine! Fine, I'll be the one to have my fun then."
Swiftly Lucille was levitated into the air several feet. She dangled helplessly, as Bellatrix's wand pointed towards her teasingly.
"A simple Crucio perhaps? Make her suffer just like I made her precious lover suffer? The curse I used on him before I killed him?”
At these words, Lucille's blood ran cold. Her body went numb and she seemed to forget that she was being flipped through the air. All she could concentrate on were the words that had just come out of Bellatrix’s mouth.
"I'll make her scream for mercy just as my darling cousin did."
Lucille’s stomach dropped. She struggled to face Bellatrix and look the barbaric woman right in the eyes to see if there was any truth behind her words. But this only made Bellatrix laugh and jeer louder.
"Oh, sensitive topic, DuBlanc? Or perhaps this is news to you? News that I Crucio'd him over and over and over again until he begged...begged with pathetic sobs for me to stop, to show him mercy."
"No." Lucille whispered unbelievingly.
"Oh yes, darling. He begged. But why would I show pity to a despicable blood-traitor? Do you want to know what happened to him? Hmm? Do you want to know what became of that worthless fool?"
The Death Eaters around Lucille seemed to disappear from her vision, even Bellatrix was but a blur. Everything had gone a shocking white – at least through Lucille’s eyes. All she could feel was the pounding of her heart, so loud that it seemed ready to break out of her chest and explode. The words that Bellatrix spoke washed through Lucille's body over and over again, making her shake with an odd sort of vibration that she hadn't felt in years.
"It's not true." The hollow words left Lucille's lips without her even noticing that she had spoken them.
Even though Lucille could no longer see, Bellatrix's face lit up – like that of a child that had received a particularly long desired present. "He got what he deserved. What did he think would happen once he escaped from Azkaban? He should have known that I'd find him. That I'd kill him." She continued, and with each word she spoke the vibrations running through Lucille’s body seemed to grow stronger and stronger.
"No." Lucille spat. "No!" She swarmed in a mass of rage.
Some of the Death Eaters must have noticed the curious twitch of the floating girl's body and mumbles of alarm were raised. The men and women gripped tighter onto their wands as the air of uncertainty grew. But Bellatrix continued.
"It was rather humiliating, the whole ordeal. His disturbing cries as his brain turned into mush. I grew bored however, and a little bit of green light helped end his miserable life."
And it was with those final words that a loud ringing noise erupted in Lucille’s mind. She screamed in pain and suddenly a flash of white light seemed to explode from her floating body. The force of it was so strong that it knocked the Death Eaters back several feet, making them land painfully on the ground.
Lucille, too, fell to the moist grass. The ringing in her ears and the blinding white light from her vision were gone. She looked around disoriented. The cloaked figures were still sprawled in mass, some screamed out in pain, others gripped onto their stomachs and rolled in anguish, while others tried to staunch the odd flow of blood that had sporadically began to spurt from different wounds on their bodies.
Lucille barely had time to attempt to understand what magic she must have performed to bring down an entire band of Death Eaters. All she knew was that she needed to get into the zone in which she could Apparate.
With every ounce of strength in her body she pushed forward from the ground and leaped forwards.
In the second that followed, several things happened at once: a loud, distinct pop, a white flash zooming past Lucille's head as she Dissaparated, and a terrifying roar of anger that chilled her to the bone.