Who: Cho Chang and Bellatrix Lestrange
Where: Parkinson Estate, War Survivors Headquarters
Summary: Cho comes to retrieve Bella on Lucius’ orders, they proceed to England and the War Survivor’s Group HQ. Bellatrix is finally...
Having been sat in her chambers for quite some time, waiting on her portkey, Bellatrix yawned slightly and let her suitcase fall to the floor. She’d been holding onto it for the past few minutes, but was becoming tired of the sweat that she would have to wipe on her robes because of its bone handle.
She glanced up at the clock on the mantle once more and frowned. The girl said she would be here soon, and soon had passed thirty seconds after the words had reached Bella’s ears. Becoming impatient, Bellatrix rose and smoothed out her robes, crossing over to a shelf of knick knacks, folding her hands behind her back and leaning in to gaze at them. After hearing a short, slight knock and a creak at the door to her rooms, Bellatrix righted herself (but left her hands behind her back) and narrowed her eyes at it, at the girl who was standing on the other side.
“Chang,” Bellatrix said indifferently though her heart skipped a beat, “Enter.”
“My Lady,” Cho said, casting her eyes down as she stepped into the room and dropped a low, respectful curtsey to the dark haired woman within. “My Lord Lucius sends his regards, and I have the Portkey to take you to London.” She held out her hand, where she held a wooden ring about 4 inches in diameter. “It is set to activate when we are both touching it, My Lady.”
Sends his regards… Bellatrix rolled her eyes and smiled at the girl, or what would have been a smile if it weren’t for the smirk that always twisted her thin lips when she tried to smile. She said nothing to Cho but only crossed back over to the bed, picked up her suitcase with the bone handle, and back to Lucius’ protégé.
Her eyes wide with excitement, Bellatrix reached out one bony hand to touch the ring. As she did so, she felt the tug of the portkey behind her navel, jerking her backwards until she finally stopped, her knees buckling slightly as she hit the floor. She wasn’t sure where she was, really, but she knew automatically that she was at least home.
She cast the girl a furtive glance as the wooden ring hit the floor in front of them, rolling noisily under a small table. “War Survivor’s Group, then?” she asked, looking around the rather sterile-looking room.
“Yes, My Lady,” Cho said. “I apologize for the amenities not being completely up to the ones befitting a Lady of your standing, however I will procure anything that you require for your comfort. You need only ask, and I will see to it as quickly as possible.”
She paused for a moment, dark eyes taking in the other woman, trying to assess her mood. “Is there anything I can bring you now, My Lady? Would you care for a tour, or merely to be left alone?”
Bellatrix turned the young Death Eater’s offer over in her head, pondering if she really did require anything. When she decided that she wasn’t thirsty or hungry or needed anything else that the girl could provide, she shook her head. “No, I don’t need anything,” she said, her eyes not having left the girl’s face.
Just as she was about to shoo her, Bellatrix realised she’d been asked if she’d like a tour. “A tour, you said?” she asked slowly, as though she wasn’t quite believing that she would be let out of this room. She looked toward the window that looked down on the alley, and back at Cho. “Yes, let’s go. I want to hear all about this War Survivor’s group.” The only thing was, she didn’t really want to hear any of it, but whatever would get her out of her newest cage.
“Of course, My Lady,” Cho responded immediately, moving to the door. She opened it, then stepped back respectfully so that Bellatrix could precede her out. “I cleared the building for your arrival, so that you could explore it today and become familiar with your surroundings.”
Looking over at the girl, Bellatrix frowned as she crept into the hallway, looking side to side, even though Cho claimed she’d emptied the building. Seeing that no one was going to be coming down the hallway, Bellatrix walked on and peered into various rooms, cracking doors and shutting them quickly. She got to a locked one, cast alohomora on the handle with her wand, thinking it might be something good, and then shut it again, disappointed that it was merely a broom closet.
“Who exactly uses this building, Chang?” Bellatrix asked, her voice curious. Surely not the Order, or anyone else near them.
“The building is owned by the War Survivor’s Support Group,” Cho replied, watching the other woman as she searched the place quickly but carefully, silently thanking Merlin that she had sent the two witches who ran the day-to-day business of the place home. “Which, is to say, on paper at least, myself. It exists as a wholly legitimate charity, with Ministry credentials and, it might amuse you to know, financially backed by the Ministry. But, for all intents and purposes, My Lady, it is ‘owned’ by My Lord, and by you, as the leaders of our effort.”
She motioned down the stairs. “The downstairs has offices and meeting rooms. We are at the corner of Diagon and Knockturn Alleys. Out the front door, we access the totally respectable business district, presenting our careful face to the world. But out the back door, we can easily and without suspicion get to the darker places and people when needed.”
Turning her attention to Cho, Bellatrix followed the girl down the stairs. “Right,” she mumbled in response to the girl’s chattering. She wasn’t sure if she’d really heard any of what Cho had to say as she couldn’t recall any of it other than the position of the building.
Bellatrix paused to look at a picture frame that was hanging on the wall. She turned away from it, disinterested after all, and clasped her hands behind her back once more, her lips pursed and her eyebrows raised as she stared at Cho. The idea flickered across her mind that it might be amusing to surprise a late worker, should there be any. She sighed visibly and asked, “And you’re quite certain no one will come looking in my room?” It was one of her many faults that had come from being imprisoned for so long, the paranoia.
At the bottom of the stairs, Cho turned and entered the kitchen, which was sparsely but adequately furnished. She indicated a door at the rear. “That door gives out onto Knockturn Alley. Due to the fact that you might find it necessary to leave in a hurry, it is warded only one way. Meaning that a password is required to come in, but none is required to go out.” She paused, turning to look at Bellatrix again. “The workers leave here at 6PM each day, although once we get going, there will be evening meetings. But once the plans go into effect, the people who will be here will all be loyal to our cause.”
Bellatrix took a glance at the door that Cho had motioned to. She smiled once again at the girl and crossed over to it, turning its handle slowly and cracking it a tiny amount, peering outside at the Alley where she used to be taken as a child, running errands with her father. She shut the door quickly, as someone had passed by it, and turned back to Cho. “Leave at 6, meetings after,” she mumbled. “What sort of meetings, Chang?” she added, her voice louder as she rapped her fingernails on the counter at her left side, pretending to be interested.
A smile touched Cho’s lips, but it wasn’t a nice smile. “Meetings for the poor downtrodden souls who are finding it so difficult to cope in the aftermath of the war. People who just can’t seem to find purpose in their lives since they lost their nearest and dearest to the forces of the Dark. We exist to serve them, to give them a purpose,” she said softly, and her smile became almost victorious. “Unfortunately for them, their purpose in life isn’t exactly what they might have thought... it will be to serve you and My Lord.”
Bellatrix raised her eyebrows, her face amused. “Clever,” she said, her voice hiding a slight laugh. She was sure that they had it all figured out: the new wave of Death Eaters weren’t entirely mentally invalid. There were a couple, but she assumed that could only come from heredity. Bellatrix crossed the room and took a seat at the small table in the center. “And you’ve already got whining imbeciles running to you for help, have you?” The idea of their cause not only harming the witches and wizards of England, but turning around and ‘helping’ them turn their lives around was most amusing to her.
“Yes, My Lady,” Cho replied. “As usual, the Ministry has dropped the ball, leaving a vacuum in the process. It has created a unique opportunity for our cause to gather in the weak minded, and use them against the very society which has failed them.” She smiled again. “And if, in the process, we find a few that are worthy of being more than just grist in the mill, that’s all to the better for our purposes. The rest... well, as long as they distract and confuse the Ministry, the DA, and the Order of the Phoenix, then they will have been worth the effort.”
Cho moved to the stove, filling a teapot. “We are starting off with just standard psychological indoctrination,” she said quietly. “I believe Daphne has plans for the mind-control potion she has been working on, but I prefer to start out simpler. Less chance of detection. And we might even get a few ‘true believers’ in the process.”
Bellatrix nodded. Cho was right, Daphne’s potion didn’t leave any room for voluntary followers. Not that she minded how they fell into their cause, of course, but the complying ones were definitely stronger and would have more real motivation for the cause. “I see,” she said, her eyes on the teapot that Cho was filling. “And does this just serve as a sort of, meeting place for them? None of them will be staying here, I presume.” Her voice was serious, she would not stand for people coming and going as they please now that she was here. At least not on the second floor.
“No, no one will be staying here except for you and I, save perhaps Daphne or My Lord if it is necessary,” Cho assured her, placing the teapot on a burner. “Which means that I shall be looking after your needs, My Lady. If there is anything you require, any dietary preferences or the like, please let me know.” She hesitated for a moment. “I also had the idea that if you are amenable, perhaps Daphne could supply Polyjuice in order that you might get out of this place as you require. You are welcome to use my form, and I would keep myself here so that the substitution would not be discovered.”
Bellatrix fancied the idea of going outward into the world once more, but she knew she would have to be around Cho much more should she want to Polyjuice into her. Mannerisms were something that Bellatrix didn’t get down easily, especially now that she could barely keep track of her own. “I think we might have to do that, Chang,” Bellatrix mused, her tongue darting out to moisten her lips. “It has been a very long time since I’ve been out of hiding, or been able to go anywhere without at least a Disillusionment Charm.”
She sat back in her chair, wishing that she could, for once, think of things that she might require of the girl, as she knew that she was there to do her every bidding. She knew that the time would come, however, when she would want at least something. Cakes perhaps. Foie gras. Then it came to her. “Baby greens. A salad, Chang. I’d like one. Yes, with vinaigrette and mineral water.” She looked expectantly at the girl. “Perhaps Italian cheesecakes, as well. And when I sleep, I require a light charmed breeze to constantly be blowing across the room. My cashmere blanket as well. I think that was one of the items that they auctioned when they overturned my home after I was incarcerated the first time. Though, you may ask Lucius. Narcissa may have somehow kept it. You’ll know it, it’s got the Black crest on the top left corner. I’ve missed that blanket.”
“Yes, My Lady,” Cho responded immediately. If she thought these requests odd - or perhaps even impossible in one case - no hint of it crossed her face. She merely nodded, raising a brow. “Would you like a cup of tea now, while I go and get the items you have requested? It might take me some amount of time to retrieve everything.”
“That would be wonderful,” Bellatrix said, her face turned up in another of her smirking smiles. “Earl grey, I hope? Two sugars and a bit of cream, as well.” She dearly hoped that the girl would be able to get all of her requests, because now that she thought of that blanket, it really was imperative that she get it now.
Wordlessly, Cho prepared the tea exactly as specified, sitting the delicate porcelain cup in front of the other witch. “I shall go at once, then.” Reaching into her robes, she pulled out a small mirror, and passed it to Bellatrix. “I have the matching mirror. If you need to speak to me, just look into the mirror and say my name. As soon as I can slip somewhere private, I will respond.”
Sipping the tea, Bellatrix nodded. She reached out her hand and took the mirror, turning it between her fingers. She afforded the girl another half-smile and went back to her tea, ignoring the other presence in the room. This one might not be so bad, she thought. Certainly might be fun to play with. She snorted at the idea of using Cho for absolutely everything… wondering if the girl would deny her anything at all. Of course, Bellatrix might be able to t h ink up something completely irrational for her to do.
Turning off the burner, Cho turned towards the door, looking over her shoulder at Bellatrix. “I’ll return as soon as I can,” she said, opening the door to Knockturn Alley. With one last glance at Bellatrix, she slipped out, closing the door behind her.