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Chapter 27 : The Power of Love
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With my undying, death-defying love for you
The Power of Love – Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Things were spiralling downhill.
Nobody liked to say anything, as everybody wanted to keep their spirits up for everyone else. Nobody wanted to be the person to lose faith, to appear to be giving up.
Araminta was finding it doubly – no, triply hard. Because she not only had to witness the Aurors and the Order losing hope, but also the Dark Lord gaining hope, gaining confidence, and with that came yet more murderous intent.
And all the while, her mental defences were being tested to the limit. It would only take one slip, and her cover would be blown. She found that hard enough in normal conversation with the Dark Lord, but the moment he turned his wand on her, the moment she felt that bone-cracking pain, it was all she could do to keep those defences up, to keep herself safe.
To keep Gideon safe.
She was trying her utmost to hide her struggles from Gideon. It was hard. Ridiculously hard. Some nights, after she’d been with the Dark Lord, all she wanted to do was to seek him out, to have him hold her and reassure her that everything would be okay. But she couldn’t indulge herself. He already had too much on his mind, she couldn’t give him something else to worry about. She’d already turned to him too much, she couldn’t keep on doing so.
Unfortunately for her, Arieda was far more perceptive than he was.
“You can’t just lock it all up, you know,” she said quietly one evening.
“I have to. He ... he can’t ... he has enough to worry about...”
“He’d worry more if he thought you were trying to cope without his help,” Arieda reasoned. “Yes, he’s fragile, but ... aren’t we all? You don’t have to be invincible, you know. You don’t have to deal with this by yourself.”
Araminta closed her eyes tightly, and shook her head.
It was remarkable, how a young woman who’d known her for mere months could know more about her than a Legilimens who had trained her for seven years.
“You don’t have to do this on your own,” Arieda said quietly. “I know you’re not used to having someone care about you, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from it now. It doesn’t make you weak to show emotion. It makes you stronger, it allows you to learn to deal with it, learn to channel it into hope, into positivity. Otherwise, you’ll just bury yourself with this mental torture, and it will catch up with you in the end.”
Araminta opened her eyes, her resolve beginning to crumble with Arieda’s words.
“Is already far stronger than he was a few months ago. You’ve helped him, Araminta. Now let him help you.”
It was Gideon himself who brought her the latest bad news.
“Caradoc Dearborn’s gone missing,” he said quietly, cornering her before she headed out to her patrols. “Nobody’s seen him in days, and it looks like there was a disturbance at his house ... but there’s no sign of him.”
She groaned, her head dropping.
“I feel utterly useless,” she muttered, turning away from him.
She felt his hand on her shoulder.
“What do you mean?” he asked gently.
“I should have been able to stop this. And the Bones’ deaths. And Dorcas Meadowes’... what good am I if I can’t give you that kind of information?”
“You can only feed us information you know,” he pointed out.
That didn’t comfort her.
“Look ... I’ve got to go, or Moody will have my head, but ... we’ll talk about this later, okay? Come round mine after work, and we’ll talk.”
His hand dropped from her shoulder and found her hand. He squeezed it lightly, and headed off to the training room.
Unfortunately, the Dark Lord had other plans for her.
“My Lord,” she murmured, falling into a low bow. “You wanted to see me?”
“I am a tolerant man, Araminta,” he said and her heart sank. “I have endured weeks without news from you. I’d hate to accuse you of letting me down, because I have always been able to rely on you, but this is a severe disappointment. I expected more of you. I want Gideon Prewett’s head, Araminta, and you have gotten me close to it once. ‘Close’ isn’t good enough, nor is ‘once’.”
She didn’t even try to justify herself.
She headed back to her own flat before visiting Gideon, knowing he didn’t like to see her in her Death Eater robes. It also gave her enough time to try to compose herself, in the hope that he wouldn’t realise she’d been tortured again.
But her Apparition was off-kilter and he seemed to guess the reason straight away.
He forced her through the security question regime, which he’d only neglected the once, and then crossed the room, to pull her into his embrace.
“You’ve just been to see him,” he murmured. “I can tell. What happened?”
“Nothing. He’s just angry-”
He pulled away, holding her out at arms’ length.
“If by ‘nothing’ you mean you’ve been tortured again-”
“it was nothing! I’m fine, Gideon, really-”
“Well you don’t look ‘fine’ to me. I hate when you try to hide it from me like this! You think I want to be kept in the dark? Do you have any idea how much it hurts to know you’re not telling me something?”
“Why don’t you go and ask the Dark Lord to torture you? Then you can come back and we’ll chat about how much it hurts,” she snapped. She tried to turn away, not wanting to hear what he had to say to her.
“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m just trying to help, but I can’t if you won’t let me-”
“Who said I wanted your help?”
“You may not want it, but you sure as hell need it! Look at what this is doing to you, what he’s doing to you-”
“And how do you think you can help?” She whirled back round to face him, growing angry. “You can’t, Gideon. This is my battle-”
“But you don’t have to face it alone-”
“Yes I do!” she cried, her chest heaving. “How are you supposed to help me? I can hardly take you along with me to hold my hand, can I?”
“I can do more than you’re letting me-”
“No, you can’t! You don’t get it, do you? He’s angry with me because I can’t get him the information he wants! You can’t stop him from being angry, you can’t-”
“I think I can,” he said, his voice calmer now.
She stared at him, her breathing loud and ragged, as his comment sunk in.
“No,” she said flatly. “Absolutely no way. You are not offering yourself up as bait-”
“Why not? Because you’re the only one who’s allowed to put her life on the line here?”
“You honestly think I’m going to be content with letting you put yourself in danger while I sit on the sidelines and watch you suffer?”
“Do you really think I’m going to be content with watching you put your life on the line for me?”
The words came out before she could stop them. Her eyes widened slightly.
Comprehension dawned on his face.
“Araminta...” he said slowly. He stepped forwards, his hands clasping her arms. “You don’t have to do this alone, you know. I can help you. I want to help you. But I can’t unless you let me...”
She closed her eyes, and shook her head.
His grip tightened on her arms.
“You don’t get it,” he said fiercely. “I need to help you-”
“I can’t watch you put yourself in more danger-”
“And I can’t lose you!”
His voice was loud, passionate.
She fell silent, and her eyes welled with tears at his raw emotion.
“I can’t lose you,” he said again, more quietly this time. His grip loosened, and he rested his forehead against hers, his eyes closed. “I need you. I’ve lost too many people already. I can’t lose you too.”
It was with a leaden heart that Araminta attended the next Death Eater meeting; that she stepped forwards, hands trembling, and announced Gideon’s location to the Dark Lord.
She smiled, a maniacal smile which she hadn’t brought about for a long time.
“Marvellous,” he hissed gleefully. “Bellatrix, you will lead this one. I want Gideon Prewett disposed of once and for all.”
And Araminta was forced to stand, and listen despairingly, as the Dark Lord plotted the downfall of the man she cared about so much. She wondered if Gideon had exhausted all of his luck; if this time, after four years of successful evasion, the Dark Lord would finally catch up with him.
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