Who: Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange, Rafael Zabini, Nikky the House Elf
Where: Hogsmeade, Hogwarts School
Summary: Sneaking into the castle’s not so hard once the wards are down.
Warning: Allusions to character death inside.
Looking down at her thin silver watch for the seventeenth time in the past five minutes, Bellatrix looked at her two compatriots where they were hidden in the trees near Hogsmeade village. It would only be minutes before the wards were taken down for their renewal at the now decrepit Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and she, her husband, and Rafael Zabini were going to take as much advantage of the situation as they could.
Two more minutes before they’d have to put on their charms and make their way into the candy shop merely fifty feet from them, and then from there into the heart of the school. The female Death Eater was excited to say the least, and she’d looked at her watch two more times, ignoring the rolling of eyes and impatient sighs from the men at each of her sides.
“It’s time,” she said, pointing to the dials that read 6:30 PM. She stood up and tapped her wand to the top of her head for her disguising charm, one that found her hair retracting into her head until it was chin length, turning a lovely shade of dark blonde and her nose rounding itself out a little, just enough to keep people from realizing who she was.
Rodolphus nodded, following suit as he performed the charm on himself, squinting slightly as they stepped out of the shade of the trees and into the sunlight, hopefully now unrecognizable to the people milling about the town. “Be as quiet as possible. The less attention the better, and it’s probably not wise for all three of us to sneak into the basement at once, so we’ll take turns.”
Casting a side ways glance at Rafe, he started towards the front of the candy store, biting his lip a little. He hadn’t wanted to do this in broad daylight, but as usual, his opinion had been over ridden. Rodolphus felt terribly uncomfortable without the cloak of nightfall to help shield them, but there wasn’t much he could do. The wards would be down for a short window of time, and that window fell just before dusk. So they had to strike while they iron was hot, so to speak.
If all went well, they’d end up with a very priceless book in their hands. Of course, being a pessimist, he was counting more along the lines of settling down in a nice new prison cell before it was all over.
Rafael cast the charm quickly on himself, his face emotionless as waited for first Rodolphus, then Bellatrix, to enter the shop. Once they both were inside, he cast one more glance around him before following behind them.
Moving silently through the shop, he reached the entrance to the basement easily, going down the staircase and stepping into the dimly lit area. Once he was certain that no one had followed them, and that his wand was firmly tucked inside the sheath across his inner arm, along side one of the daggers he was carrying for added protection, the man turned his dark gaze to the married couple.
“The hatch is there. According to the late Wormtail, it is simply a matter of going inside the tunnel and exiting within the school. From there, our task becomes more difficult and our chances of being seen increases dramatically. It would be wisest not to use our wands unless absolutely necessary.” His gaze flicked to Bellatrix for a moment, before looking back to the two in general.
“Also, refrain from engaging anyone. Our goal is simple. We need not stray from it by petty thoughts of vengeance and the like.”
Bellatrix glared back at Rafael and sneered a little, rolling her eyes as she slipped into the tunnel under the stone they’d just moved. Whispering a quick Lumos to light the dark way, she walked on ahead of them, stomping a little as she did so.
“We aren’t ignorant, Zabini. I know you realise this,” she called back, “and I understand that you just want to save yourself, but you mustn’t think of our superior company as a burden. Besides,” she tossed her short hair, “school isn’t in session and there won’t be anyone about to for us to see.”
“We’ll see it done as fast and thoroughly as possible and without interruption. Don’t worry your pwetty widdle head,” she mock cooed, making a kissy face back at him. “We want this as much as you do.”
She finally reached the end of the tunnel and pointed up at the crack of light pouring through the statue’s hump. “Shh,” she warned with a large grin, placing her wand up to her lips. “We’re here!”
Rafael’s lips pressed into a thin line as he listened with half an ear to Bellatrix’ comments. “You forget, Bellatrix,” he murmured softly as they reached the end of the tunnel. “There are going to be several people present. All will be armed as they are currently re-setting the wards. The students, or lack thereof, do not concern me. Even if they were present, they would be
unable to defend themselves. The Professors, however, stand a much better chance. And even being spotted by a ghost -- or that damned Peeves -- could prove disasterous.”
Glancing up at the thin sliver of light, he then returned his attention back to the now-blond woman. “Ladies first,” he stated in a mocking tone, his gaze then flicking to Rodolphus. “Unless, of course, you wish to go first to make certain your beloved wife isn’t caught before we have even begun?”
Rodolphus cast a heavy glare in Rafe’s direction, grinding his teeth. “You shouldn’t take the students so lightly, Zabini. Harry Potter certainly had no problems defending himself. Or have you forgotten that the fall of our Lord is the reason we’re here in the first place, hm? Now, I believe the pair of you would do well to shut up with the insufferable bickering. This is neither the time, nor the place, and yes, I will go first.”
Brushing past his wife, the man pushed open the exit, just enough to stick his head through. The corridor was clear of all persons, both dead and alive, and he gave another push with his shoulder, the opening giving way completely. Stepping up the last few stairs, he stumbled into the hall, looking around once more before extending his hand to Bellatrix.
“It looks clear to me, but I don’t recognize a damn thing. Just where the bloody hell are we?” Rodolphus asked, looking at his companions. “I do hope one of you two knows.”
Despite the low, vicious hiss escaping her lips at the mention of the Boy Who Must Die and her fallen Lord and Master, Bellatrix reached up and took Rodolphus’ hand, not bothering to let go once she was out of the tunnel, peering down at Rafael. “We’re on the third floor,” Bellatrix pointed out quietly, reaching up with her free hand to run her hand through her short hair. She suppressed a frustrated scream about her lack of hair and tapped her head hard with the wand she drew from her pocket, shaking her head as her hair finally grew back thick and black.
“Much better,” she sighed, craning her neck to look around the corner of the corridor they were in. “See, Hospital Wing,” she pointed, tugging on Rodolphus’ hand. Now only to get to the Headmaster’s office, or Headmistress, as it were, where the Book that they’d be stealing was located. Bellatrix mused, making a thoughtful noise, remembering all the times she’d been sent to the Headmaster’s office for various things: hexing smaller children (especially Hufflepuffs, they squealed), setting Professor Vector’s robes on fire when she received a T on one of her essays, and most often for using the infernal M word around professors; she chewed a fingernail and said, “The entryway is below us. Second floor, behind the gargoyle statue.”
Rafael cleared the entrance effortlessly and turned his attention to Bellatrix. He was half tempted to point out that he was well aware of the location of the office, but forced himself to bite his tongue. After all, it wouldn’t be prudent to begin arguing while standing in a deserted corridor in the middle of Hogwarts.
Especially when the entire goal was to not resort to using the Unforgivables if it was at all possible.
Instead, he silently turned on his heel and began moving silently and cautiously, yet also with a certain amount of speed and grace born from years of swordplay, toward the nearest staircase that would lead them to their destination. His wand was still securely in its sheath, ready to drop into his waiting hand with a mere flick of his wrist if necessary, and he found that he was missing the comfort that holding it provided. Still, he refused to do so, not at all willing to admit that he was, of all things, nervous about what they were doing.
As he walked, he mentally ran over the information he had memorized from the notes Blaise had taken while in school. All the research he had done seemed to indicate that, while the wards were down, the areas of the school that were password protected were also vulnerable.
He could only hope that his research was correct. Otherwise, he wasn’t certain how they were going to get past the gargoyle that guarded the Headmistress’ office. Of course, he knew they would find a way. After all, as different as they were, they were definitely resourceful in their own ways. However, he didn’t fancy having a stumbling block place itself between them and their goal of the book.
Fortunately, as it turned out, his worry was for naught. Nearing the gargoyle, even from the distance he was at, he could see the slight crack in the wall and the light coming from the other side.
A bit of excitement settled in his stomach and he paused a few feet from the office, glancing back at Rodolphus and Bellatrix. “It would seem most prudent for someone to stand guard in case McGonagall or someone else happens along. Unless either of you object, I will volunteer to do so,” he murmured softly.
“We shouldn’t be long,” Rodolphus said with a slight nod, a little nervous now that they’d arrived at the office. “If anyone should arrive, hold them off. If there’s more than one, just call. I’ll come to help you, while Bellatrix finishes searching for the book.”
Sighing a little, not very pleased that they’d have to split up even if it would prove beneficial, he turned back to his wife, nodding to the gargoyle. “Looks like it’s you and me. Please, refrain from doing anything rash, as we both know you’re prone to do. No smashing, no stealing, no leaving any sort of calling card. In, get the back, and get back out. I’m not saying this to scold you. I’m saying this because I know exactly how you operate.” He gave her a hard look, to show how serious he was being, before approaching the statue.
Everything so far had been fairly easy, from getting into Honeydukes to the passwords being lifted. Something was bound to go wrong. Nothing could ever operate this smoothly in their favor.
Once inside, Bellatrix pressed him up against the wall, her arm at his throat, a hiss escaping her throat as she choked him. Her eyes flashed maliciously and she increased pressure as she spoke. “It’s a shame I have to repeat myself to you, Rodolphus, especially after I just explained to Zabini and I recall you being quite present. I know what I’m doing and I don’t need any chastisement from petty little eunuch boys like yourselves.” She backed away, still glaring at him. “You’d think I’d gone off it or something. I’m not seven, honestly.”
She hopped up the stairs and carefully opened the door to the office, peeking inside to make sure the way was clear for them to intrude. Once she was sure there was no one inside she flew in, stopping in the center of the room. “My my my,” she said, putting her hands on her hips. “If this doesn’t bring back memories.”
She picked up one of the old, spindly, silver instruments and turned it over in her hand. “And she didn’t even get rid of his things, how sweeeeet.”
Rodolphus glared after her, licking his teeth as he trudged up the stairs and into the office. “You are off it, my sweet,” he muttered under his breath, pausing in the door way to have a look around. “Very, very, off it. And next time you touch me like that, I’m going to be forced to return the favor.”
Putting on a fake smile, he entered, closing the door behind him. He’d never been sent to the office as a child. He’d had a very level head, and had managed, for the most part, to keep his nose clean. “Looks like a lot of old junk to me,” he said with a shrug, examining some of the trinkets. “Should’ve tossed it out. Made room for something a bit more useful.”
“Hm, yes,” Bellatrix said, dropping what she had in her hand. “Oops,” she laughed, moving away to pass by the now shattered silver instrument. She saw a door to the left of the windows, figuring that that must be the place where the Book was held, and reached out to turn the doorknob.
She paused when she heard a drawling voice coming from the portrait above her, and gave a half-smile when she saw who it was.
“You look very familiar,” Phineas Nigellus said slowly, gazing down at them. “You’re a Black. Yes, yes. I’d recognize those features anywhere. Very defined and distinguished, indeed. But what are you doing here? I say! Can you hear me, girl? What’s your name?” He leaned forward, studying her hard, trying to pinpoint her name. It was in his mind, he knew the face well, but nothing would come.
She stared a bit more before smirking up at her great-great-grandfather in the portrait. “Bellatrix Black-Lestrange,” she drawled, mocking his arrogant tone which was very reminiscent of the one she heard so often at home when she was a girl, something she’d lost in her years in prison.
“Shh,” she continued, standing on her tiptoes to get closer to him. “We’re just fetching something and we’ll be back out.” She wasn’t about to tell him more, in case he decided to tell McGonagall what they’d been up to. It was bad enough that he’d seen them.
“That means,” Rodolphus hissed up, pulling out his wand to wave at the man in the portrait, “that if you don’t shut the hell up, you great waste of canvas, I will more than gladly set you alight. Now go back to sleeping, or whatever it is you paintings do.”
He didn’t like that they’d been spotted by a loud mouthed painting. Of course, that was something they hadn’t really counted on. The idea made his stomach jump, and he kept his wand trained on Phineas until Bellatrix had opened the door and stepped inside the adjacent room. He followed reluctantly now in a bigger hurry then before to get the damn book and get out.
“I’ll look on the shelves,” he said under his breath, motioning to some book cases lining the wall. “You look in the drawers and around the tables. The sooner we find it, the sooner we can go. I have an uneasy feeling, and I don’t like it.”
Bellatrix immediately went to the drawers of the desk that sat in the middle of the room and fished through the papers inside, not finding anything. She sifted through the books sat in towering stacks, finding nothing but ancient texts on arithmancy and herbology, a few dark arts texts that she thought she’d rather like to sit and read, and an old ingredients journal that belonged to what looked like the Potions professor from when she was a child.
She nearly gave up and fell back onto the floor, sighing as she looked around for somewhere else other than on the shelves that the room would hide something as important as the Book.
Then she saw it.
A small piece of ribbon hanging out from the top of the otherwise flat desk. She eyed it curiously and stood, moving to lift the lid in a motion that looked rather like she was trying to turn the desk over. After a hard tug, the lid popped open and revealed a large space under the heavy piece of wood, where the ornate and ancient-looking leatherbound book lay.
Retrieving it, she let the lid slam down on the desk once more and hugged it to her chest possessively, smirking at Rodolphus. “Look what I found....” she singsonged.
Rodolphus, who had been standing on a stepping stool to reach the top shelves, jumped down gently, grinning widely at the book in his wife’s hands. “Brilliant. Let’s get the hell out of this place, we don’t have much time left.”
He tapped the face of his watch before sweeping from the room, righting the few things they’d moved out of place, cleaning up the glass from the trinket Bellatrix had broken. Leaving as little behind as possible was important. If they didn’t’ suspect anyone had been there, then they wouldn’t have reason to search for anything misplaced, such as the book.
Bellatrix grinned happily as she clung to the tome, practically running down the stairs as quietly as she could to rejoin the other Death Eater that had stayed behind to stand guard. She slipped out the statued door and over to where Rafe stood, book still clutched to her chest. “I believe we might depart the premises now,” she whispered, eyes flicking both ways down the rather open corridor in slight paranoia before settling back to the man in front of her.
Rafael had spent the better part of the time he was alone in the corridor keeping an ear tuned to the sound of any footsteps approaching. He was going to be damned if he was caught unawares by some no-name Professor.
Needless to say, when Bellatrix re-appeared, book clutched tightly against her, he felt a wave of relief wash over him. Now if they were caught, at least one stood a chance of getting away with the book.
And he was going to make certain, if it came down to it, that he was the one who managed to do precisely that.
Nodding his head, he allowed a small smirk to play across his features. “Then, my dear, I suggest we depart post haste,” he replied quietly. Looking down both ends of the corridor one last time, he turned and quickly headed back in the direction they had come from.
It was almost over, he realized, the feeling of victory beginning to seep into his veins.
However, just as he rounded the corner nearest the statue that hid the entrance to the tunnel they had arrived through, that feeling quickly evaporated.
There was someone there.
Jumping backward, hidden by the safety of the wall, he pressed himself flat against it and turned his head sharply to his fellow Death Eaters. “We have a problem,” he hissed almost inaudibly. “The entrance is blocked.”
“What do you mean blocked,” Rodolphus hissed, peering around Rafe to check it out for himself. “Ok. So it is. Well, we have two options.” Trying to keep as quiet as possible, he shuffled back down the hall, keeping as close as possible to the wall.
The original plan had been to exit back through the statue, out through Honeydukes, and then walk back through the town, and up to the Shrieking Shack. They had been planning to survey the town from said shack, using it as a sort of viewpoint, gathering information for one of their upcoming movements. It was farther, to travel back the way they had come, but there was less chance of being seen, as it wasn’t required to travel across school grounds. Now, however, they would have to initiate one of their other plans.
Glancing at his watch, the man groaned, giving his counterparts a dark look. “Make that one option. All that we know, is that the wards go back up around eight. It’s far to close to time, for us to attempt to disapparate. We can’t be entirely sure that the wards are still down, and it really wouldn’t be too keen if one of us got ripped in half. So we have one option left. We’ll simply have to go across the open grounds, and into the shack via the whomping willow.”
Rafael didn’t say a word as Rodolphus began to puzzle out the dilemma they’d found themselves in. As it was, he was just waiting for one of his comrades to point out that the reason the tunnel had been blocked as because someone had left the entrance slightly ajar.
And, of course, that someone had been him.
Mentally kicking himself for becoming so short sighted and focused on the task at hand that he’d made such an error, the man simply nodded his head and, in a move that was rare indeed for him, allowed someone else to take the lead. Namely, Rodolphus.
It wasn’t that Rafael didn’t trust the other man, per say. It was simply the fact that he honestly felt, in most situations, he was better equipped than anyone else. He was often wrong, of course, but he was never going to admit that.
This time, however, he was shaken enough to admit that trying to lead them across the Hogwarts grounds was simply something he was not up to doing. Fortunately, though, it seemed that the other wizard was.
And that is precisely what he did.
It was merely a few minutes, and only one close call, later that Rafael breathed a sigh of relief as the secret entrance beneath the Whomping Willow sealed behind them. Pulling out his wand, he whispered a soft Lumos and, using the faint light, glanced at the other Death Eaters.
“It would appear that, for all accounts and purposes, we had a rather successful endeavor,” he murmured, a slight smirk crossing his drawn face.
“Yes, quite,” Bellatrix nodded, walking after them with her own wand lit and held between her teeth, the Book held open in her arms. She had a habit of flipping through books when she was near them, whether or not the subject matter interested her. Luckily, this one did.
She also, unfortunately for Rafael, had a bad habit of reading the ends of books first. Walking along behind the two men, she opened the book to the end and started reading off the Y’s and Z’s, counting all the mudblood children she’d be offing quite soon.
Then she saw something quite odd. Odd enough for her to giggle. Odd enough for her to run up to Rafael and tap his shoulder with her free hand and remark, “Is widdle Rafael ready to be a grandfather, then? I didn’t realise that Blaise had procreated.”
She stuck the book in Rafe’s face, smirking. “And with a dirty halfblood, no less. Merlin, didn’t you teach him anything?”
Rafael stiffened at her words, his anger flaring even as he grabbed the book from her and stared in disbelief at the name. What slight good feeling he’d had disappeared instantly and his lips tightened into a thin line. Practically trembling with barely controlled rage, he slammed the book shut and shoved it back at Bellatrix.
“Obviously my son is confused,” he practically spat out. “Really isn’t all that different from what your beloved nephew Draco is going through. However, unlike with him, this does not concern you.”
Then, gripping his wand so tightly he feared it might snap in two, he continued to make his way through the tunnel, all the while plotting how, precisely, he was going to make Blaise pay for the stain he’d placed on the Zabini name.
Still caught up in his anger, he reached the end of the tunnel without even realizing it at first. Looking around, he glanced back to make certain that Bellatrix and Rodolphus were near, and he then pushed open the entrance to the Shrieking Shack and stepped inside.
And, for not the first time that night, he found himself not focused completely on the immediate task, but rather on something in the not-so-distant future. This time, the slow and painful punishment of his son.
Needless to say, he was quite surprised when he rounded the corner and came face to face with a House Elf that, as far as he was concerned, he’d left at the Zabini Estate months earlier.
“What in the name of Merlin are you doing here, Nikky?” he demanded, his voice echoing off the walls of the shack.
Nikky turned, large eyes growing impossibly wider, mouth opening soundlessly. Her expressive ears were almost flat against her head, as she nearly seemed to fold in on herself.
“Master Rafael!” she squeaked, dropping the jar of sweetened apples she held, which shattered on the dirt floor of the basement with a dull crack.
“Where...” She stopped, looking behind him and seeing the other Death Eaters, faces she knew. Faces which were undoubtedly a danger to the young woman who was now her mistress. She knew, no matter what, she had to try to protect Katie... Master Blaise had ordered her to do so.
“Nik.. Nikky is happy to see Master Rafael,” she said, trying to remain calm. No easy task, not when three dangerous Death Eaters had suddenly appeared from no where.
The rest of the world seemed to fade away as several things became clear to Rafael in a matter of seconds.
His son was, for all accounts and purposes, a traitor. And, knowing Blaise, was attempting to keep his unborn child and halfblood whore safe and hidden from the Death Eaters. His House Elf was apparently occupying a building that most people were too afraid to even venture near.
It was so obvious he was ashamed he hadn’t figured it out instantly.
“Spare me the pathetic attempts at lying, Nikky. It does not suit you,” he snapped, crossing the room in a few short strides. Bearing down on the tiny creature, he held his wand steady as he glared at her. “Now I am going to ask you this one time and one time only. If you do not answer me truthfully, you will likely not live to regret it. What. Are. You. Doing. Here?”
Agony was all too apparent in the small creature’s eyes, as desire to protect and the absolute necessity of obeying her Master warred within her.
She truly had no care for her own life, wanting only to protect her charge, but Rafael was head of the Zabini family, outranking Blaise... and she absolutely could not lie to him. Which didn’t mean that she had to tell the absolute truth, however. Or not all of it. From the surprise on the man’s face, he had not expected to find her here, which meant that he didn’t know about Blaise... and therefore didn’t know about Katie. Licking her lips, she gulped, looking completely obsequious. “Nikky is here because Master Blaise told Nikky to stay here.”
Rafael’s eyes narrowed slightly, his dark orbs glittering dangerously in the scant light provided in the basement of the Shrieking Shack. “Do not bother attempting to be evasive, elf,” he hissed in a low tone. “I know all about my traitor son and his whore, not to mention their filthy offspring. Rest assured, regardless of what Blaise may have told you, you will not be able to protect them from me.”
Looking around, his eyes spotted the stairs that he assumed led to the main portion of the building. He turned his attention back to Nikky, a cruel smile twisting his lips. Reaching out with his free hand, he picked the creature up by her throat, holding her at his eye level.
“You have truly disappointed me,” he stated in a flat tone. Then his arm shot out, slamming the House Elf’s head against the wall. It wasn’t hard enough to kill her, he made certain of that. But it was most definitely enough to knock her unconscious.
Tossing her limp form to the ground, he kicked her out of the way then, without so much as a second glance, made his way up the stairs. He had all but forgotten about Bellatrix and Rodolphus in his anger.
Needless to say, by the time the Death Eaters had left the Shrieking Shack later that night, Katie Bell and her unborn child were no more.