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A Lost Cause by lia_2390
Chapter 1 : A Lost Cause
 
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Everything around me had suddenly grown still; the only noise heard was the gurgling sound of the two bodies that lay twitching on the floor. It was one of those feelings that made me feel wary all of a sudden. Glancing up at my brother, I saw a worried expression that most likely showed itself upon my own face.

“Aurors.” he mouthed and I nodded; it was our cue to leave.

Before I could alert the others, I heard the sound of the door exploding into tiny pieces behind me. At that moment, everything seemed to happen so fast. I could see flashes of bright light shooting past my head followed by shouts from unfamiliar voices but a shrill cry rose up among them. Whipping my head around, I saw my wife gripping her shoulder then I hit the ground. The last thing I remember seeing before I lost consciousness were the eyes of my victim staring listlessly at me. And it was those eyes that continued to haunt me.


-----------------


I sat with my back and head against the grimy wall of my cell, unable to block out the heart-wrenching wails coming from the cell next to mine. The loud, pathetic sounds of a boy crying for his mother.

“For Merlin’s sake, Crouch,” yelled the lone female voice in our corridor, “Give it a rest!”

“Don’t you tell me to ‘give it a rest’, you crazy bitch,” Crouch hiccupped, “it’s your fault we’re in here in the first place.”

Despite the circumstances, I tried not to laugh at Barty’s retort as a low hiss emanated from my wife’s cell.

“We’re here because we were serving the Dark Lord,” she snapped, “A faithful service for which we shall be rewarded.”

Crouch’s wails had ceased now or had gotten softer; I couldn't tell which one.

“And when will we be getting this reward?” answered Barty scathingly.

My wife paused. “When the Dark Lord is ready.”

“Oh, of course.”

It wasn’t difficult to detect the sarcasm laced in his voice but she said no more. As much as I hated to admit it, he was right. It had been three months since we were thrown into this prison and every day we sat waiting. Waiting for the Dark Lord to break down the walls of Azkaban and take back his most trusted. But as the days grew longer, our patience grew thinner.

Running my hand along my left arm, I pulled up the sleeve of the black prison robes they put us in and examined the brand on my forearm. It was no longer as black as it was some three months before, it was fading. In fact, it started to become more transparent since that night in October. The night my wife refused to acknowledge and still does not. He was gone. I suppose I should harbour some sort of resentment towards her for putting me in this situation in the first place but then all my bitterness towards my dear wife wouldn’t just start there.

“Rodolphus?” she called hoarsely.

“Bellatrix,” I sighed, waiting for whatever proclamation about the Dark Lord she’d send my way as she usually did to reassure me but she said nothing.

“Was there something you wanted to tell me, Bella?” I asked ever so casually, “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Oh, I was just wondering if you were still alive,” she muttered, “you’ve been rather quiet of late.”

I had to smile at her futile attempt of caring, indeed there was nothing else for her to do.

“Rodolphus is a brooder, Bellatrix, you know that,” said my brother from the cell to my left.

Sometimes I wondered if my brother resented me the same way I resented Bellatrix. After all, I was the one who convinced him to come along that night and all the other times before that. There were a lot of things that Rabastan could’ve done with his life if it weren’t for me.

Running a hand over my face, I flinched. There are no razors in Azkaban. What I hoped to be just a three-day fuzz turned into a beard and moustache. My hair, which I kept short, now touched the back of my neck.

Wearily, I pulled myself over to my cot and stretched out on my back, staring up at the ceiling where the thin rays of light that leaked through the bars were slowly fading away. I had long heard the tales of the foul creatures which guarded the fortress but they were mere tales. Nothing I’d been told then could compare to what I was experiencing now. Dementors. I could always sense when they were coming, every remotely happy feeling I’ve ever felt would slip away, leaving me to fall face first into the darkness of my mind.

I never really had a happy thought to call my own; I don’t think I ever understood what feeling happy actually felt like. It’s a kind of unusual thing to say but I’ve been thinking for a while about what actually defines happiness and nothing I’ve experienced really fits the description I have in my head.

As my brother said, I’m a brooder and I’ve been doing a lot of that since I came to this place. Where would I be if I’d chosen another path? I wonder if I had the ability to change my past if I’d experienced the same things.

I huddled closer to the wall, while pulling a thin blanket over me, inwardly being thankful that we were given heavy, black robes to wear. Squeezing my eyes shut, I tried to drown myself in my memories to block out Barty’s screaming. The guards were coming.


-----------------------------------


I was born into an age of change. The place where I lived had come out of its naivety of the idiosyncrasies of people. Gone were the days of taking the little things for granted, as the events of the recent past had finally put things into perspective. England alone had been twisted and shaken into something unrecognisable. Her king had died; she barely survived a war and was now faced with placing her trust into the hands of strangers from foreign lands.

As far back as I could remember my family never adapted well to change. I could still see my grandfather sitting in his chair with his feet lapped, puffing away on his old pipe and reminiscing on the days when he was a boy. It was 1957 at the time, around Christmas, as I sat by his side in a cloud of tobacco smoke listening to what he was trying to relay to me.

“Rodolphus, my boy,” he wheezed between mid-puff, “there’s this old saying that goes ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’, have you heard of it?”

“Yes, granddad,” I nodded automatically while trying not to cough as he blew smoke in my face.

He began his own little interpretation of the common saying. You see, my grandfather considered himself a great philosopher, almost rivalling all the ones I read about; but as I said, he was the one doing all the considering.

“You mustn’t do like all the others, boy,” he continued, “always maintain your family values. Stay away from the unclean.”

Even at my young age of seven years, I knew what he meant and sometimes I think I knew it too well. All through my life, I tried to uphold what I thought to be right, what was instilled in me as a child. Little did I know what the end result would be.

The old man had turned his head away from me then, one of those subtle, aristocratic cues signalling that you were no longer wanted. My mother, who was hovering nearby, came and gently pulled me away to sit in the corner with her. Unseen and unheard. While my grandfather and father sat in the silence, their thoughts lost to no one but themselves.

She was a gentle soul, my mother. Quiet and subservient with dark, long hair and blue eyes which stood out against her pale, porcelain features. I never knew what she saw in my father, a tall, stocky man with such a curved smile that made him look almost sinister; a feature which I somehow inherited.

I had a habit of watching the interaction between my parents with distaste. I hated that she would do whatever he wanted without argument but I could always tell the times she didn’t want to. It was another thing I hated about the era which I was born into but all that changed in the fall of 1961.


--------------------------------


I stood stiffly at the foot of the stairs, enduring my mother’s fussing. She had taken the chance while my father had slipped out of the room to take an urgent message. As much as it annoyed me, to the point I felt like slapping her hand away, I let her fix my hair and straighten my tie. I didn’t know when she’d get another chance like this. She’d finally stopped and stepped back to observe me; her pale face beamed but to me, it looked as if she was trying too hard to smile.

I shook my head at her. “Oh mother, please don’t.”

Her façade broke as I spoke to her and she enveloped me into a tight hug before smothering me with kisses and salty tears.

“I’ll be back in December,” I managed to say over her muffled sobs.

She sniffled and dabbed her eyes. “I know, I’ll just miss you that’s all.”

“I’ll write as much as I can, you know that.”

“I know,” she said softly.

Frowning, I turned away from her to the small boy standing restlessly a few steps above me, staring down at me out of his large brown eyes.

“You go now?” he asked timidly.

“Yes.”

“I want to come too,” he piped but I shook my head; we’ve had this conversation before.

“You can’t come, Rabastan,” I said to my brother, “you’re too little.”

He stuck out his bottom lip in the manner befitting a two-year old and crossed his little arms across his chest and I smiled in spite of myself. I’d never imagined that I’d have a brother but grateful nonetheless; at least I had some company.

Before I knew it, my father had returned and we apparated beside him to King’s Cross Station with my trunk in tow.

You’d always hear about people’s experiences as they crossed the barrier to Platform 93/4, how their eyes caught the shiny glint off the train or how they’d crossed just in time to see the smoke billowing from the chimneys but my own experience was different. It was raining and my father had graciously opened an umbrella over our heads, shrewdly surveying the crowd.

I too looked at the crowd and tried not to show interest as my mother had told me what I should expect but still, to an eleven year old any new experience was enough to leave an impression.

There was this one person who stood out against all the others. She was a small little thing with the darkest of hair and the most piercing set of eyes I’d ever seen.

She had wondered off from the pair of adults I assumed were her parents and stood talking with another boy. I happened to glance away from the pair only to be brought back by a deafening smack.

I saw the boy holding his hand to his reddened cheek in shock while the girl simply turned and walked away.

“Ah, so that’s Cygnus’ eldest,” I heard my father say to himself.

“Cygnus Black?” my mother asked.

“Yes.”

“Oh dear.”

My father chuckled, “Indeed.”

I saw the girl about an hour later on the train. She’d wondered into my compartment and made herself at home while I just sat there and watched her in amazement.

“You’re gaping.” she said.

I immediately closed my mouth, “Sorry.”

“Are you really?” she asked curiously.

“Not at all.”

“Right.” She turned her head to look through the window and I picked up the book that rested on my lap only to drift off to sleep later; the conversation, or whatever it had been, was over.

I was nudged awake by shouting. Through my bleary eyes I saw the girl in a heated argument with a ginger-haired boy, the same one she had slapped earlier.

“Get out of here!”

“Not until you apologise you little wench!”

“You don’t deserve it.”

Angrily, the boy took out his wand and pointed it in her face. At that moment, I stuck my hand in my own pocket and drew my wand. The pair seemed to think that I was still asleep because neither of them paid me any attention.

“Oh please,” she scoffed, “you haven’t the guts.”

The blood flow to his face increased, giving him the appearance of a very flustered tomato but the words of his spell froze on his lips as he stiffened and fell to the ground with a loud thud. The girl looked around confused until she saw me sitting at the window with my wand pointed in her direction. Rising from my seat, I edged past her and pushed the boy outside into the corridor and closed the door. She was still staring at me as I sat down.

“Now you’re staring,” I laughed.

“So I am,” she smiled, “what did you use?”

“Full body bind.”

“Hmm,” she considered me through her heavy-lidded eyes and nodded. “What’s your name?”

“Rodolphus Lestrange,” I muttered, “yours?”

“Bellatrix,” she puffed out her chest proudly, “Bellatrix Black.”

“Nice to meet you, Bellatrix Black.”

“Likewise, Lestrange.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “I’ll tell you what though,”

“What?”

“From now on, we’ll always stick together.”

“Always?” I asked with surprise.

“Always.”


--------------------------


It was one of those warm, summer nights where, even at my elevated height the wind hardly blew and even if it did, it wasn’t strong. I stood there looking out at the vast grounds of Hogwarts, the place I called home for the past seven years. I couldn’t believe that my time was almost up, I was graduating tomorrow. I and about sixty others were to be the graduates of the class of 1969. From then on, we’d be moving on with our lives and starting families; some were even starting already but there was much more on my mind that night than that.

I heard the door creak behind me then close, I didn’t have to turn around to see who it was, her scent mingled in the air; cinnamon.

“I thought I’d find you up here,” she said.

Of course she’d find me here. The Astronomy Tower was my place of solace after the scent of tobacco had diffused away. I didn’t need to be around anyone, not now.

I heard her footsteps echo as she came up behind me and placed her hand on my shoulder.

“Rodolphus.”

“Bella.”

“You’ve been avoiding me.”

I turned around to look at her with an ounce of annoyance at her questioning look, “I’ve been avoiding everyone, Bellatrix, not just you.”

“I want to know what’s going on,” she said, pressing her hands against my chest. “You’re not usually this quiet.”

“Nothing’s going on, Bella.” I pulled her hands gently away from me and stepped around her.

“Yes there is,” she insisted.

“Just leave it, alright?” I said to her, raising my voice slightly but that only made her raise hers in response.

“No, I will not leave it Rodolphus Lestrange,” her voice sounded so unfamiliar to me at that moment, she almost sounded hurt, “I want to know what’s going on, why are you avoiding me?”

Fuming, I whirled around and yanked up my shirt sleeve, nearly ripping it in the process. The newly imprinted black tattoo of a black snake protruding from the mouth of a skull stood out against my skin and glistened in the paleness of the moonlight. I’d become one of them; a Death Eater. Forever branded to show my allegiance to one, forever cursed to fight for the cause.

She stood silently in before me, gazing over my left forearm with her cool, dark stare which eventually met the level of my own eyes. I could see no surprise in her eyes and suddenly I felt ashamed and lowered my gaze away from hers. She mumbled something inaudible to me before fumbling with the sleeve of her robes. To my utmost surprise, she revealed a tattoo similar to my own on her left arm.

“Bella-”

She shook her head, silencing me, “I couldn’t let you do it by yourself.”

“I- how did you even know?” I asked her, glancing down at her arm again.

“I overheard you talking to your father one night,” she explained, “Then after you became distant, I knew something was wrong so I followed you.”

“You’ve been listening to my conversations,” I said numbly.

“Yes.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Her face displayed no signs of remorse at what she’d done. I don’t think she understood the immensity of what she’d signed up for, how she could never decide to stop now.

“You’re displeased with me.”

“I’m more than displeased, Bellatrix.” I sighed, walking away from the door to look over the grounds again, “I don’t want you involved in something like this.”

“And who are you to tell me that I cannot?” she asked heatedly.

“The man, who in a few months will take you as his wife,” I retorted.

“Do you remember when we first met on the train?” she asked, after a moment’s silence.

“Yes, but what does that have to do with anything?” I frowned.

“You saved me from that boy and I said from then on, we’ll always stick together.” She smiled, “Do you remember that?”

“Of course.”

She drew herself closer to me, placing her head on my chest as I wrapped my arms around her waist tightly. Sighing, she looked up at me and I couldn’t help but think to myself how beautiful she looked in only the moonlight with her ruffled dark hair, pale skin and full, red lips.

“Then that still stands, doesn’t it?” she asked.

I lowered my head against hers. “Always.”


-----------------------------


“You haven’t seen the Prophet yet, have you?” Lucius Malfoy asked me as he suddenly appeared in the middle of my foyer, the morning of November 1st .

I gave him a curious look; this was the first time I’d ever seen him so agitated in all the years I had known him, except of course, at his son’s birth.

“No, why?”

“Didn’t your arm feel all tingly last night?” he continued.

“No,” I felt my forehead creasing, “what are you talking about?”

He thrusted the copy of the newspaper at me and as I opened it I heard screaming coming from upstairs. I looked at Lucius in disbelief.

“It can’t be.”

Lucius shook his head with his jaw clenched, “It can.”

The headline read “He-who-must-not-be-named vanquished” and under it held the picture of hundreds of wizards rejoicing in the streets.

“Rodolphus!” my wife screamed from upstairs.

I glanced at the newspaper once more before returning it to Lucius.

“Vanquished by a mere child?” I asked, “It’s ridiculous.”

“That child is just a baby.” Lucius shook his head and turned his head up to the ceiling where Bellatrix’s shrieks had increased by several decibels. “You better tend to her; I’ll talk to you later after I meet with the others.”

I started up the stairs as he disappeared, part of me being afraid of the state I’d find her in. Standing a few feet away from her room, I flinched at the crash of whatever had just hit the wall.

The door to my wife’s room stood ajar and I could hear her loud growls as I got closer. A pitiful sight beheld me when I pushed the door open. She was standing there, stiff as a board, with her wand clenched tightly in her fist and the Daily Prophet was floating a few inches from her darkened face as she scanned its words quickly. Her head turned sharply towards me and I flinched. Her face was absolutely livid and at that moment, I dared not tear my gaze away from hers for fear of what she would do with the wand in her hand.

We stood, staring each other down for what seemed like forever until she finally turned away. I took the time to see what damage she’d done to the room. Feathers from the pillows littered the floor and the bed was broken. Stepping forward, I heard the crunch of glass beneath my feet; it was glass from the empty vase which usually sat on her vanity. Then, I noticed that the lone portrait she kept on the wall was gone. My eyes scanned the room where I found it near to her feet with a fist-sized hole in its centre. My face hardened; it was our wedding portrait.

“Why must these fools insist on filling this paper with lies?” she asked.

“They aren’t lies this time.”

“If you believe that, Rodolphus Lestrange, then you are as ignorant as they are,” she whirled around to glare at me, “he’s still out there and as his faithful servants, we must look for him.”

“Bellatrix.”

“No!” she snapped, “He is not dead.”

There were no words of reason I had to offer her so I walked away, leaving her in her deluded misery. It didn’t matter to me that she was in pain because what I was feeling was a thousand times worse. All it took was his demise to show me where she really stood in this marriage and after I tried to ignore her rejection for months, it had just slapped me hard in the face.

------------------


Several hours later, I was pacing in my room with the Daily Prophet clenched in my fists. I had gone through it with a fine-toothed comb looking for any hint that this was all a colossal joke. In frustration, I threw the paper into the fire and ceased my pacing. At the rate that I was going, I would wear a hole through my hardwood floors.

There was no sound that could be heard throughout the house save for the crackling sound of the paper being curled to ash by the fire. The room next to mine was silent as well for Bella had stopped her rampaging a few hours before and according to the servants, had fallen into a fitful sleep.

I’d met with Lucius and the others while she slept and at face value, they showed the disbelief and anger that was expected of such faithful followers of a fallen master. I, however, knew better. Some of them were rather relieved and I couldn’t blame them; they had small children and wives to support, never mind face judgment and possible incarceration for doing the deeds of a dark wizard.

A swift knock at the door roused me from my thoughts. “Come in.” I answered, thinking it was a servant.

“Rodolphus,” she whispered.

I could not hide my surprise when I saw her standing in the door way, dressed in her Death Eater robes.

“Where are you going?”

“For information.”

I rolled my eyes in annoyance. “Bellatrix, leave it be. He’s not coming back.”

She made a hasty movement towards me with her hand poised to strike but I gripped it. “Don’t be stupid.” I warned her.

She pulled her hand away, “I need your help, Rodolphus, please and if there’s proof that he’s gone I’ll leave it alone. I swear.”

She had the same look on her face as the night she told me she joined; the same one that I could not refuse.

I nodded reluctantly. “Fine.”


-----------------------


I stood in the shadows behind an untrimmed hedge watching the young couple in the house across the street. A slight rustle coming from the hedge told me that the others had arrived. Wordlessly, I crossed the road and walked around to the back of the house with the others following closely. Tonight was a night for answers and it was here that we were sure to get them.

The laughter that filtered through to the back of the house made me hesitate as I raised my arm to unlock the door.

“Get on with it!” Bellatrix muttered impatiently by my side.

Hearing the excitement in her voice, I dropped my arm, “Suppose they don’t know where he is?”

“Of course they’d know where he is.” She pushed me aside and unlocked the door herself.

We filed quickly into the house and straight to the sound of the laughter. From where I stood, I saw Frank and Alice Longbottom caught up in a friendly game of wizard’s chess. Frowning, I pointed my wand at the board, tipping it over.

“Why did you do that?” Alice looked up at her husband in surprise.

“I didn’t.” He answered while reaching for his wand from the side table, only to find that it wasn’t there.

“Looking for something?” my brother stepped forward with a grin, twirling both wands between his fingers.

“What do you want?” Frank Longbottom demanded, standing protectively in front of his wife.

“Nothing really,” I ventured, joining my brother in the sitting room with the couple, “Just some information.”

“Did you have to come here?” Alice’s voice trembled. “This is our home.”

I shrugged, glancing around at the neatly furnished sitting room through the slits in my mask then back to where the couple stood by the fireplace, “It never stopped us before.”

“What kind of information?” Frank interjected.

“About the Dark Lord.” I said quietly, looking past their heads to the family pictures that stood on the mantle. “Where is he?”

They looked at me as if I were mad, “He’s gone. Vanquished, everyone knows that!”

Shaking my head, I lazily flicked my wand and blasted a picture that rested above their heads, “Now, try again.”

“There’s nothing to try again, we don’t know where he is or if he’s still alive and even if we did, we surely won’t tell you.” Alice piped, visibly shaking now.

“Oh yes you would,” Bellatrix stepped forward raising her wand at the pair, “you’d tell us everything.”

I watched her advance on them and at the same time I saw the wife, Alice, fiddling with the bottom of her husband’s pants. In an instant, I knew what she was reaching for.

“Look out!” I yelled.

Bella dove out of the way as the hex soared above her head and struck the wall. In the fray, the Longbottoms had gotten hold of their wands again and were fighting back with all they had. From the outside, I imagine it would’ve looked like a light show. The final straw, I suppose, was when Alice caught Bellatrix with a hex on her face. I’d never seen her so furious in all the years I’d known her; it knew it was then that she had had enough. With a violent slash of her wand, she knocked them both down while we took the wands from their hands.

“Where is he, Longbottom?” she asked through clenched teeth.

“He’s dead,” he spat.

“You’re lying!” she roared, “Crucio!”

The thing about performing the Cruciatus Curse was that you had to mean it. You could always tell how angry the caster was as it reflected on the victim and Frank Longbottom was screaming in agony.

“Tell me!”

“I don’t know,” he gasped as the curse was released.

I pointed my wand at Alice, “Tell us where he is or she dies, Frank.”

“I’m telling you, I don’t know!” he pleaded.

“That isn’t good enough.”

My ears were filled with Alice Longbottom’s screams after I pointed my wand at her. It felt as if all my anger was pouring out of me, so much so that could not control myself. I was angry at my own wife, at my marriage and most importantly, at myself. The rough tugging of my arm was the only thing that made me stop.

Everything around me had suddenly grown still; the only noise heard was the gurgling sound of the two bodies that lay twitching on the floor. It was one of those feelings that made me feel wary all of a sudden. Glancing up at my brother, I saw a worried expression that most likely showed itself upon my own face.

“Aurors.” he mouthed and I nodded; it was our cue to leave.

Before I could alert the others, I heard the sound of the door exploding into tiny pieces behind me. At that moment, everything seemed to happen so fast. I could see flashes of bright light shooting past my head followed by shouts from unfamiliar voices but a shrill cry rose up among them. Whipping my head around, I saw my wife gripping her shoulder then I hit the ground. The last thing I remember seeing before I lost consciousness were the eyes of my victim staring listlessly at me. And it was those eyes that continued to haunt me.


-----------------------------


My memories of what succeeded that incident are blurry. I remember seeing myself in chains and bound to a chair flanked by aurors on either side with hundreds of stony faces staring down at me. I remember hearing my sentence being given and then my ending up here.

I realise that ultimately, it was my fault. I was the one so desperate to be loved and accepted again by a woman who lost that part of her heart a long time ago that I would’ve done anything to get her back. Now, here I am and nothing about our relationship has changed, if anything, she despises me even more.

The legacy of three pureblood families had come to an undignified end; the same things we tried so valiantly to preserve ended up being lost anyway through no fault but our own.











Author's Note: A huge thank you goes out to Lyn Midnight (Lyn) for her editing and great suggestions :)

Don't hesitate to tell me what you think or ask questions if you have any.

Hope you enjoyed it,
Lia :)




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