Chapter 1 : Weaknesses and Loyalties
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Now that’s a good boy, Barty. A feminine voice crooned softly, her tone dangerously coaxing. Barty Crouch Jr. nodded, pleased that he had satisfied his mistress, but with what, he wasn’t sure—not that it mattered anyway. He let his eyes focus on the dark haired witch that stood in front of him. He knew the voice belonged to her, for there were no other females in the room, but never in his life would he have ever imagined that her voice could be so heavenly…so angelic. He missed the wild glint that shone brightly in her eyes.
Now Barty, let’s not dwell on other subjects… The voice reappeared again in his mind. It was faintly teasing, a hint of mock in its tone. This caught his attention and he snapped out of his thoughts, now eager to follow through with what else she had to ask. He barely took notice of how the woman raised her eyebrows slightly and smirked, apparently amused by his portraying thoughts.
Focus now, Barty. The woman commanded. Barty unconsciously nodded, patiently waiting for orders, and he watched as the women pulled something out of her pocket. If he wasn’t Imperiused, he would’ve wondered what this item was; pondering the woman’s intentions with caution and restraint, but his trance didn’t allow wandering interests and the item remained concealed by her overlong sleeves. The woman stepped up closer to him, taking his hand with one of her own. Uncurling his fingers with her free hand, she slipped the item into his palm.
You can look now, Barty. The voice told him, as the woman realized he still didn’t look down at what was placed into his possession. The young apprentice looked down as he was told and found that he was holding a hilt to a lethal looking knife that could cut through flesh like butter. Looking back up, he found Bellatrix grinning at him, eagerness dancing in her eyes, and a sardonic smile on her lips.
Now Barty, with what I gave you, I want you to slice open your hand.
At this, Barty nodded and allowed his blade carrying limb to travel to his free palm. Piercing the tip of the knife beneath his skin, he allowed the edge to follow, digging it into his flesh, dragging it downward and watching as small beads of blood turn into a thick, red river.
Enough! The feminine voice commanded, but the sweetness of her voice was gone, and instead it was bitter—cold. Barty pulled the blade out of his mutilated hand and dropped the knife onto the carpet where blood had now splattered and stained, its tan color now blossomed with splotchy, crimson dots.
Barty felt the hazy trance lift, and it wasn’t long until he felt a numbing sore come from his hand. Within a few seconds, he felt his feet crashing onto the earth, the warmth of his flowing blood shaking his senses. His widened eyes moved from his open wound that still freely flowed to a glowering Bellatrix; color absent from her face, anger dancing in her dark irises.
"You bloody idiot!" She snarled under her breath, whipping out her wand, and pointing it at his hand. Barty, who had remained speechless all this time, felt comforting warmth caress his skin, and looked back down to watch as the knife wound stitch itself on its own. Looking back up to Bellatrix, he gave her a weary smile.
"An angel!" Bellatrix barked aggressively. Behind her, Barty watched as Rabastan Lestrange snicker in amusement at his expense. "Honestly, Crouch, how do you expect to throw off the aurors thinking they sound like angels?" It was more of a taunt than a question, and Barty looked at his shoes with shame. "We’ll try this again, now, shall we?" Again, it was more of a statement than a question and Barty nodded in determination, looking back up at the witch and squaring his shoulders. Bellatrix allowed her frown to lift into a slight smirk. "Don’t give into it Crouch. I might just leave you to your own misery without you even knowing."
Barty squinted at her, his forehead wrinkling at her threat. He would prove her wrong. He’d win this round, and this time, he wouldn’t get hurt. He was sure of it.
"Imperio," Bellatrix hissed, and once again, the trance began to devour Barty, clouding his mind, an unreasonable sense of euphoria sprouting from somewhere unknown.
No. Barty thought firmly. I won’t give in.
Oh, Barty. Whispered a familiar feminine voice. Let down your defenses, there’s no need for that here. Barty found himself tempted to listen, Bellatrix’s orders almost as tempting as the poisonous apple that grew in the depths of Eden.
Get out of my head, Bellatrix. Barty found his voice somewhere inside, and growled it in his thoughts. He was responded by a gentle soprano, far too light and beautiful to come from Bellatrix. All nothing but fake. It was deciet. I said, no!
Just pick up the blade, Barty. The feminine voice said, almost in an innocent whine. I promise, nothing would happen, Barty. You’re in good hands.
You can’t fight me Barty. Now pick up the blade. This time the voice was stricter and more commanding, prodding his mind with a more powerful push. Defenseless and surrendering to the woman, he nodded and bent down, picking up the hilt of the knife, its blade still wet with his blood.
Very good. The voice appraised. Now, with the blade I want you to attack Rabastan...I want you to torture him slowly. Make him feel the pain.
Everything happened within a second. Bellatrix watched as her apprentice turned to his comrade, Rabastan, who snarled something derogatory towards the morbid female. Barty eyed Rabastan with a look of sincerity, even though it was all artificial, and a Bellatrix whipped out her wand, casting a spell that sent Barty flying off his feet, backwards, slamming onto the stony wall, the bloody knife skidding on the carpet, leaving a trail of blood in its wake.
Rabastan hurried forward to the young man who was lying on the ground in a crumpled mess, blood trickling from the side of his head, slowly matting his hair. Muttering a small healing charm, he exhaled in relief as Barty sat up, stirring dizzily.
"You’re lucky he didn’t crack his skull ." Rabastan croaked as he turned to face his sister-in-law grimly. "Are you bloody mad? He could bleed to death, internally or externally! And what are you playing at, having him attack me like that?"
"I’m lucky?" Bellatrix cried out in frustration. "It’s his own bloody fault I had to blast him backward or else he would've finished your sorry arse! What’s the Dark Lord thinking? How can he find so much faith in this—this—mediocre kid?" She spat with contempt. "He’s weak! If he can’t throw off the Imperius, than he’s easy bait!"
"That’s why you’re training him, Bella. You’re the best" Rabastan rolled his eyes standing up. Bellatrix squinted at him and strode forward, jabbing her wand deep into his chest.
"Don’t you ever dare talk to me like I'm the child, Lestrange." She hissed.
"It’s only the truth, Bella." Rabastan countered coldly back, unblinkingly.
"Fine then, why don’t you try!" Bellatrix shrieked, throwing her hands in the air in frustration. Grabbing Barty by the collar of his shirt, she dragged him to the center of the room and threw him onto the floor before collapsing onto the sofa, watching both men intently. "He’s your bitch now."
Rabastan raised an eyebrow at his brother’s wife before looking down at a confused Barty , who was scratching at the faint scabbed over lump on his head, confused. Rolling his eyes, Rabastan grab hold of Barty’s arms and yanked him upward.
"Get up, get up." He growled. "Listen kid," Rabastan sternly commanded. "Fighting the Imperius curse is like learning Occlumency. It takes mental strength to ward it off. From what I’ve heard, you’re a pretty well off occlumence. Great. Wonderful. Spec-bloody-fucking-tacular! So now it’s time to learn how to defend both your physical and mental being. Bellatrix here gets impatient because you’re having difficulty fighting it off. My advice is to start off treating this like Occlumency. Not exactly blocking off your mind, but concentrate." Barty listened intently at the youngest of Lestrange brothers and nodded. Of course, he already heard of this before, but it wasn’t any use giving lip to one of his mentors.
"Well?" Bellatrix snapped from her spot on the couch. "Get on with it!" Both men glared at her from where they stood before Rabastan turned to Barty, taking a step back. Giving Barty a stony look, he raised his wand before signaling Barty to get ready.
"Concentrate, Crouch." Rabastan ordered, as Barty nodded determinedly. "Imperio," and again, Barty entered the all-to-familiar trance, being swallowed in abstraction.
Walk in circles, Crouch. The quiet voice of Rabastan whispered in Barty’s mind. Barty obeyed, circling the bloodied, spotted floor. His eyes were drifted off into space, looking somewhere beyond reality. Rabastan frowned in disappointment at the instant submission, turning to look at Bellatrix, who smugly sneered at him with an I-told-you-so look. Looking back at Crouch, it almost sickened him to see the kid still walking aimlessly in circles. He truly was a hopeless case.
"And you thought I was bull shitting you." Bellatrix sniffed in a taunting, snobbish tone. Rabastan snarled something under his breath, shooting Bellatrix a glower worth of poisonous daggers.
Enough! Rabastan finally growled angrily into Barty’s head. Barty stiffened at the hostile voice. Annoyance was radiating at this man’s tone, a switch flicking on a faint light, telling him that this man was violent and could possibly be dangerous.
I shouldn’t listen to him… Barty looked into the eyes of Rabastan, seeing contempt flaring in the man’s irises.
You’re bloody useless; go throw yourself into the fire! Rabastan thought in exasperation, feeling agitated as the young man simply just stared at him, a slight, flickering, calculating look blazing in his glazed-over eyes. It irked him that the boy wasn’t trying to fight him off. He tried to fight off Bellatrix, and Bellatrix wasn’t going easy on the kid.
"Maybe we should stop for the day." Rabastan grunted, lifting the Imperius curse off Barty. Barty blinked, recovering from his misty trance.
"Funny, I’m not bleeding this time." Barty muttered to himself, checking his hands for any self-inflicted wounds, before shooting a glare at Bellatrix. Rabastan snorted before shaking his head, and turning on his heel. Bellatrix however, did not look happy.
"DONE FOR THE DAY?" She screeched. Barty winced. "What do you mean done for the day?" Jumping up from the couch, she stood up and stalked over towards Rabastan, grabbing hold of his shoulder and spinning him harshly around.
"The idiot hasn’t showed any signs of bloody improvement! No one’s leaving this room until he does!" Rabastan rolled his eyes.
"That’s why you’re staying, and I’m leaving."
"He’s part of your bloody responsibility!" She choked out.
"No he isn’t." Rabastan sighed. "The Dark Lord specifically handed him to you for you to train; therefore, he’s not exactly mine to watch over."
"You’re just as disgusting and lazy as your brother!" Bellatrix hissed, standing on her tip-toes just to get in the man’s face.
"Who also happens to be your husband?" Rabastan innocently countered. Barty snickered as Bellatrix flushed.
"I wouldn’t have married him if I had a choice!" She spat.
"A loveless union…" Rabastan ridiculed snidely. Bellatrix grabbed her wand and pressed it underneath his chin.
"I could kill you right now," she growled.
"But you won’t," he smirked.
"You underestimate me," she breathed right back. Lowering her wand, she took a step down, backing away from Rabastan who was sneering at her knowingly.
"I told you that you wouldn’t do it." Rabastan derided as he turned away to leave. "Have fun following through with the Dark Lord’s bidding." As he opened the door, Bellatrix let out an infuriated scream, a jet of light coming from her wand, hitting Rabastan squarely on the back, sending him flying forward and smashing into the stone wall in front of him. Flicking her wand again, the door slammed shut and she locked it gingerly with one last flick. Chest heaving up and down, she turned to Barty, rekindled fires dancing in her eyes.
Barty noted right then how beautiful Bellatrix looked when angered, with rage radiating from her tall and fit form, how bright her irises blazed and her hair shone in the firelight, how her lips were parted as she breathed, sharp inhales and exhales making her chest violently rise, as if she had just outrun a mass of inferi…
"Quit staring, Crouch!" She barked, striding forward. "Grab your wand; we’re going to have a warm up." Blinking, Barty nodded, snatching his wand from the floor, the blood stains no longer red, but a rusty brown.
Circling each other, Barty shouted ‘Stupefy’, only for Bellatrix to lazily deflect it, shooting one at him just as quickly as he had tried to knock her out. Their pace began to quicken and it wasn’t long until they were both sweating and swearing; the beautiful couch now had tears and burned holes from where spells had hit it and was knocked over, fluff from cushions littering the carpet.
"CRUCIO!" Bellatrix finally shrieked, and watched in triumph as Barty knelt to the ground on his knees, screaming in agony. Lifting off the curse, she smirked as Barty whimpered, his head bowed down as he faced the ground.
"I’m impressed, Crouch." Bellatrix said, making her way to her apprentice. Grabbing him by the collar of his shirt, she pulled him up roughly and helped him straighten out his clothes. "It took you a while to finally break. I’ve expected less, coming from my mentee."
"Gee, thanks!" Barty sarcastically said, snatching his wand from her. Bellatrix raised an eyebrow in amusement. "You’re mad, do you know that? You’re bloody mad, for a rather decent looking woman!"
"Don’t get so comfortable talking to me like that, Crouch." Bellatrix warned. "Prepare yourself; we’re going back to the Imperius." Barty groaned.
"I don’t know why you bother. I’m shit at it." He muttered. Bellatrix eyed him coldly.
"The Dark Lord knows you’re capable." She snapped. "And though your mediocrity at throwing off the Imperius irks me, I find that you hold value. You’re capable Crouch, and with the capability you have, you can be better."
"If I irk you, why don’t you hand me over to someone else? Or the Dark Lord, perhaps?" Barty challenged. Bellatrix laughed.
"The Dark Lord? He’s busy, Crouch. He has better things to do than to train kids. As for me, you’re stuck with me, just as I’m stuck with you. I do it for the Dark Lord, don’t think for one second I’m doing this for you."
"You agreed to it, surely you could’ve declined?"
"And let down my master? I’d rather die than to betray loyalty."
"It’s just training," Barty rolled his eyes and Bellatrix squinted at him.
"No, Crouch, it’s more than that. Wouldn’t you want to make your master proud? I see it in your mind, Crouch. I know your loyalty to the Dark Lord is just as strong as mine." Barty remained silent as Bellatrix lifted her wand. "You’re my protégé, Crouch. And in my hands, together, we’ll be what helps the Dark Lord prevail. Now Brace yourself…Imperio."