Story [HP] Before the Storm (Black sisters, Antonin, Lucius, Ted, Roddy, others. Romance, drama) UPD 1/26

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Alley_Skywalker, Dec 23, 2011.

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  1. Alley_Skywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2005
    star 4
    Title: Before the Storm
    Author: alley_skywalker
    Fandom: Harry Potter
    Genres: Romance, drama, angst
    Pairings: Antonin/Bellatrix, Andromeda/Ted, Lucius/Narcissa, Rodolphus/Bellatrix, various others
    Summary: Wizarding Britain is on the brink of civil war. But even as the political tension rises, life continues. The Blacks are ready to marry off their three daughters. Narcissa has found a match with Lucius Malfoy, Andromeda has been promised to Rodolphus Lestrange (never mind that he loves Bellatrix) and Druella, grudgingly, acquiesce to let Bellatrix marry Antonin Dolohov if he proposes. But all these well laid plans go to pieces when Antonin is sentenced to Azkaban for killing an Auror, Andromeda elopes with Ted Tonks, and the war begins. As Bella turns to Tom Riddle for help and the Blacks frantically search for a way to preserve the family honor, choices are made that will define many fates, not the least of which are Bella?s and Antonin?s.
    Author's notes: This fic was written for the Het BigBang hosted on livejournal. This story is complete and will be updated regularly. Coverart is byFirefly1344.



    [image=http://i54.tinypic.com/2zg4rie.png]



    -----PROLOGUE-----

    Consider the world in the pause before a thunderstorm. The air goes still as clouds slowly creep across the sky, throwing shadows along treetops and across the grass. The sun still shines, teasingly bright, on one edge of the blue expanse even as the other half is swallowed up by ominous grey. The crickets sing their symphony, alone in the stillness and silence as the air thickens and the heat condenses. Somewhere in the distance, breaking through the anticipation, rolls and rumbles a wave of thunder, broiling and brawling like a hungry giant. It crawls closer as more and more of the silky blue sky is conquered by the grey mass of cloud and the electric tension of the world continues to thicken. The colors brighten, glowing neon, hypersaturated in the last rays of a surrendering sun, then darken and smoothen out as the sun disappears. In moments, the wind will begin to blow, rushing powerful gusts rustling through the foliage and sapping twigs. The lightening will flash purple across the ash-covered sky and just before the tidal wave of thunder crashes down, the rain will fall. But that is still a few moments away. In the minutes before a thunderstorm, the world is bright and clear, electrified and sharp, beautiful in its awed suspense. Waiting.
  2. Alley_Skywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2005
    star 4
    -----PART I-----


    1.1



    Three ladies hats sit daintily on a hat wrack, soaking in bright sunlight that streams through a gap in the light, white curtains of the large windows overlooking a garden in full bloom. The hats ? one powder blue, one foliage green and one forget-me-not violate ? watch their mistresses twirl in front of the full length mirrors and help each other with the lacing, clasps and skirts of their dresses.

    The powder blue hat belongs to the youngest girl, Narcissa. At seventeen she is only a year out in society but already with a prospective beau. Narcissa resembles a doll. An angelic porcelain doll, much like the ones she collects. Her hair falls over her shoulders and coils on her neck in soft, blonde ringlets that glitter gold in the sun. She has large blue eyes and full pink lips, lips that spend most of their time in a childishly sweet smile of elusive rapture. She is petite and slim, a perfect little statuette that floats with graceful steps across the room in a pretend waltz, skipping between her two sisters, flaring out the skirts of her sky-blue dress.

    The violet hat belongs to the middle sister, Andromeda. Andromeda just out of Hogwarts, is perhaps the most serious and reserved out of the three sisters. She is more like her older sister than Narcissa, with dark brown, almost black, hair that she twists up in an elegant braid that rings around the back of her head and out of her face and dark, seemingly bottomless eyes. She stands patiently fixing the ribbon on her corset that has come undone, re-tying the knot and bow with long, nimble fingers. Her eyes are locked squarely with her twin in the mirror, as though challenging the girl reflected there to tell her something, but the reflection merely stares back.

    The third, green, hat belongs to the eldest sister, Bellatrix. Bella, perhaps the most desired bride of wizarding Britain, is in a lot of ways the opposite of Narcissa. Although both girls are beautiful and seem to glow from within, they are vastly different. Where Narcissa is light and angelic, Bella is dark and fiery. Her dark ringlets and bright features seem to suck in the surrounding light and saturate her with it. Where Narcissa glows and glitters like a sun bunny, Bella seems to burn like a flame, a flame that burns brighter and hotter with every breath of life she takes. As Andromeda finishes tying her bow and continues to seriously examine herself in the mirror, Bellatrix turns to Narcissa and grabs her hands. The two girls twirl across the room, giggling with excitement.

    Narcissa lets go of her sister and picks up her hat. She puts it on her head and turns back to Bella. ?So? Do you think he will like it??

    Bella laughs. ?I think he likes everything about you.?

    ?Meddy??

    Andromeda breaks her staring match with the mirror and glances over her shoulder at Narcissa. ?Cissy, you?re lovely.?

    Narcissa and Bella exchange knowing looks. Andromeda doesn?t like visiting days much. She has been promised, and every fiber of her being seems to revolt against the idea. Her sisters both begin to answer, Narcissa to offer encouragement, Bella to put things sharply in perspective, but they are interrupted by a house elf.

    ?Mistresses,? the creature squeals in his high-pitch soprano. ?The Messieurs Malfoy, Lestrange and Dolohov are here.?

    Andromeda purses her lips and walks across the chamber to take both her sisters? hands. ?It?s time.?

    *

    Druella holds visiting days on Tuesdays and Saturdays, much like her mother once had. Lately, these dates have become of extreme interest to her. Her daughters, the three blooming flowers of the Black Family, are now all of marriageable age and Druella keeps an eye out for possible suitors with the watchful vigilance of a spider that weaves its web and waits for a foolish fly or two to get caught up in its intricate design.

    Today she is expecting all three young suitors and her best china has been set out for tea. She is in the drawing room at ten till the hour, sitting primly on the embroidered sofa, stiff and focused, attemptin
  3. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    Alley, I love this!!

    The premise is really unique, and I'm definitely interested. The Prologue was absolutely beautiful! [face_love] You have a gift for prose :D

    I really enjoyed chapter one and hated to see it end! There's so much to comment on! I actually feel bad for Bellatrix and Antonin, since they obviously don't end up together (since this doesn't really look like an AU). And Meddy and Ted, of course, but good thing await them :D Narcissa and Lucius are silly, but in an enjoyable way.

    I love it! Can't wair for more! Do you have a particular posting schedule planned?
  4. Alley_Skywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2005
    star 4
    NYCitygurl: Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the first post :) The following ones will be somewhat shorted but I hope you will still enjoy them, and they won't be quite so overwhelming too lol. Um, I'm not sure as to the posting schedule, but once a week sounds about right :)

  5. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    Jun 29, 2004
    star 4
    Wow! This was an incredibly vivid, wonderful read. I loved your descriptions of the characters, and your minute attention to detail. This is such a world you have described, and I look forward to following this story.

    Really, great start! =D=


    ~MJ @};-
  6. Alley_Skywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2005
    star 4
    A/N: If you wish to receive update PMs, I will be more than willing to make a PM list. However, since this story is complete I will be posting every week on Thursday or Friday as RL allows.

    Mira_Jade: Thank you! I hope you continue to enjoy the story.








    1.2


    ?Why can?t I go with you?? Curious brown eyes watch Antonin from a corner of the room where the old, plush armchair resides, hidden away in its snug alcove.

    ?Because you?re not out in society yet, Nina,? Antonin says patiently, holding up his dress robes and examining them critically. ?This is a ball.?

    ?But when can I go to balls?? Nina jumps up on the armchair and balances on the soft, somewhat rounded cushion.

    ?When you come out into society,? Antonin replies, smirking in amusement, watching his sister?s antics in the full length mirror

    ?When I?m sixteen??

    ?Yes.? He puts on the robes and begins to close the inner golden clasps, watching himself all the while. The new hairstyle looks well on him and Antonin can feel that bubble of anticipation growing in his stomach. The one he always gets when he knows he will be seeing Bella soon. Dancing with her. Holding her. Maybe even kissing, if they can get a moment alone. Merlin knows the Ministry of Magic isn?t the most romantic place, but they?ll manage.

    ?But that?s an entire year,? Nina nearly howls with frustration. She plops down in the armchair and watches him mournful. Antonin picks up the broach with the family crest and latches it onto the top clasp of his robes. He?s been head of the family since his father went missing ? died, according to the family tapestry ? but he still feels that strange weight on his chest every time he bears the family crest on formal occasions. He didn?t wear the crest until he came of age, since his mother was technically head of the family until then, acting in his name, but Antonin has always known his role as heir and head, long before it was official. ?Will I have a coming out ball?? Nina asks after a long pause.

    Antonin turns and considers his sister for a moment, then smiles tenderly at her. ?Of course you will.? He beckons her to him and she flits from the armchair straight into his arms. Antonin holds her close, her small frame fitting perfectly into his arms. She is so fragile, he thinks, that sometimes Antonin is almost afraid to hold her too tightly for fear of breaking her. Maybe it?s her lack of magic. Nina may not be a squib but some birth defect, some illness, had affected her spell casting abilities. She has access to magic, she can even use a wand for very simple spells, but he and their mother had decided, when the Hogwarts letter came, that it would be better if Nina was to remain homeschooled. She cried, of course, when they told her. She?d cried and he?d held her and promised her that she was still the best witch in all of wizarding Europe as well as some other nonsense, none of which he could recall the morning after. ?You will have a stunning debutante ball next year,? Antonin promises. ?You?ll buy a new, bright yellow gown and I will escort you down the grand staircase and you will be the most beautiful and desirable witch there.? It would be the first formal Dolohov ball since the family?s immigration.

    Nina giggles and presses closer into him. ?It?s too bad Papa won?t be able to see me,? she muses more seriously after a moment.

    Antonin nods mutely, his mouth suddenly going dry. He wonders if Nina even remembers their father but doesn?t ask. He thinks she does, even if vaguely. She was about nine then, after all. Antonin steps back from her, both hands still on her shoulders, and pears into the young girl?s face with his usual smirk. ?Do I look good, Nina??

    She giggles again and makes him turn around once, then again before declaring in her most proper voice, ?Charming. This is all for Ms. Black, yes??

    Antonin laughs and swipes at her playfully. ?Maybe it is. Now, you be good, alright? I will be late and Mama is at the Sokolovskis so she may be late or not even until tomorrow morning.?

    Nina sticks h
  7. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    Alecto sure has audacity 8-} I love the scenes with Antonin and Bellatrix, though they're sad, too, since something is going to happen.

    You have great style and prose! Can't wait for more!
  8. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    Jun 29, 2004
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    You have such an amazing flare for prose! The writing of this slithers and twines, and it is absolutely delicious to read.

    My favorite part had to be with Riddle and his followers. It is always fascinating to see the man who will be Voldermort when he is still mostly human. And the ins and outs of the elite - the marriages and the intrigue is all so perfectly expressed here. Antonin and Bella was a fascinating read, as well - bittersweet, as Nat said, knowing what we know, but . . .

    Well then, we are just going to have to wait to see where you go with this. :D


    Another great update, I can't wait for more. =D=


    ~MJ @};-
  9. Alley_Skywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2005
    star 4
    NYCitygurl: Oh, something is certainly about to happen. Mainly an overly zealous and inexperienced Auror. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

    Mira_Jade: Thank you! I love building up the pureblood world and Tom is certainly quite the interesting bloke.








    1.3

    Antonin floos home in high spirits. His intoxicated brain is fixated on that first round of waltzes, on her delighted ?yes,? repeating it over and over again in his head. The warmth from the champagne he had consumed and the lingering sensation of Bella in his arms makes his fingertips tingle and he finds himself grinning lopsidedly even as he steps out of his home fireplace into a darkened room. Antonin thinks of the next morning, imagining how he will go to the Blacks and ask Cygnus for his eldest daughter?s hand in marriage and Druella?s sharp but satisfied look that she will drill him with. But it won?t matter once Cygnus says yes and Bella says yes and they go running like bratty children through her garden to their small alcove in its very depths.

    Antonin takes off his already unfastened dress robe, remaining in a tailcoat, and reaches for his wand to light the candles, his mind wondering briefly if Nina has already gone to bed. What stops him is a noise that sounds like something between a whimper and a cry. Then a gruff voice making a demand. Antonin freezes, listening. His heart speeds up, and his mind races. Nina, Nina, Nina!

    Antonin begins to quietly make his way toward the voice, locating it around the dinning room. A man is demanding someone ? Nina, who the hell else! ? tell him something. Antonin can?t hear her voice and his heart jumps up into his throat. No one else is home. His mother is out, the elf was given a holiday night on Nina?s request as she had wanted to be alone?

    Antonin bursts through the double doors, wand drawn. In one sweeping look he takes in the room. The chamber is dimply lit by the remaining candles. Broken glass is strewn across the floor and peaces of china plates and cups are scattered over the table and chairs. The table is stood at a strange angle, as though it had been purposefully but sporadically moved and some of the chairs have been overturned. Nina lies on the hardwood floor, her body twitching. Her mouth seems to have frozen in a scream, eyes scrunched shut, bright red blotches on her cheeks, limbs at awkward angles. A man in a crimson, Auror robe stands over her, his wand drawn and pointed, a fierce expression on his face. The Auror looks up when Antonin bursts in and his wand droops. He?s surprised.

    Antonin?s vision goes red and he can?t think. His whole attention if focused on Nina. The green light around her body flickers and fades. She twitches spasmicly several more times, then her body stills and she lies limp and lifeless on the floor at the Auror?s feet. Antonin wants to scream but nothing comes out. Somehow he knows she is dead and that bastard, that Merlin damned bastard, has used the Cruciatus curse on her.

    The Auror comes out of his stupor and lifts his wand but Antonin is faster. Rage and grief guide his hand and before he knows what he?s doing, Antonin casts the first spell that his railing, raging mind lands on. ?Avada Kedavra!?

    *

    When the Aurors come for him in the early hours of the morning, they find Antonin as he had been for the past several hours, sat on the floor in the middle of the ransacked dining room, with Nina?s body cradled in his arms and the Auror?s crumpled form lying several feet away. When they read the arrest warrant, Antonin does not protest. He hardly says a word at all, except for a hoarse, helpless whisper, ?Nina??

    *~*

    In the mist of the early morning, the docks from which prisoners? boats are to sail several miles north to Azkaban are slowly emptying as they release the mournful vessels docked their into sea, one by one. There are three small ones that morning and they sail away in ten minute intervals from each other. There is a certain fear associated with putting too many convicts in one enclosed space for any ex
  10. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    Nina! I don't blame Antonin at all, actually, though it's a shame he's been sent away (and for such a long sentence; a few years and she might have been able to wait).

    But Andromeda's pregnant!! :D I'm so excited!
  11. Alley_Skywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2005
    star 4
    NYCitygurl: Bella doesn't even really get a chance to wait... Thanks for reading and commenting!







    -----PART II-----

    2.1


    The dying rays of the evening sun fall over the grounds of Malfoy Manor, bathing the park paths, gardens, meadows and surrounding woods in a fiery glow. The dying sun halts at the horizon, bouncing on the line as though a slowly drowning child?s ball sinking beneath the glassy surface of a lake. Above the manor grounds, boldly outlined against the orange-painted sky, tinged with magenta and patched with navy, soars a majestic hippogriff. Lucius? favorite glides over the manor park, turning smoothly at the guide of his master?s hand on the reins. It ? or rather he ? turns in a wide, sweeping arch and heads for the woods, large wings propelling him over the meadows to the delight of the two riders on his back.

    Lucius sits holding the reins, his long, blond hair tied into a long, smooth ponytail with a dark green ribbon. He has one hand on the reins and the other firmly wound around the slight female figure in front of him. Narcissa sits in front of Lucius, hands gripping at the hippogriff?s neck for balance. She laughs brightly as they dip into a tern and head first into the sun, then away from it. She had never enjoyed flying on a broom, but the feeling of the warm creature below her and Lucius? welcome presents behind her as he steers the hippogriff with a firm, sure hand, makes her shiver and believe that she is free, incorporeal. Like they are part of some other world, where all is light and feeling and love.

    They fly over the trees and to a clearing in the wood. Lucius carefully sets down the hippogriff and waits for him to calm before sliding off and handing Narcissa his hand. She takes it as she slides off, the rustling of her skirts blending in with the whispering of the fresh spring leaves. Her blonde curls glow in the evening sun and she is dazzling in her white dress, the color of the snow which has just recently given way to new life. The fur collar of her dress brushes against her chin, tickling her cheeks and her smile seems especially soft then.

    Lucius attempts not to stare. He turns away and feeds a treat to his faithful hippogriff, then takes the reins and begins to walk toward the hippogriff stables. Narcissa follows, the smile lingering on her face. ?Thank you for taking me for a ride, Lucius,? she says liltingly, touching his arm lightly with her fingertips.

    ?Of course, Ms. Narcissa.? They walk for a moment in silence as Lucius seems to gather himself for something, Finally, he says softly, ?I know politics bore you, but you must know that we are in preparation for war.? He looks over at her, expression unreadable, but she thinks there is something in his silver eyes that begs her to understand.

    Narcissa nods, plucking a young leaf from a tree branch and twirling it between her fingers listlessly. ?I?ve heard there is talk of making your Organization illegal.?

    ?If that were so, would you be angry with me if I were to continue within its ranks??

    She stops and grabs Lucius? hand, making him turn toward her. The hippogriff lets out a moaning sound but occupies itself with burrowing its snout in the dirt. Narcissa looks into Lucius? eyes, studying his face, her lips pursed. Unable to look for her answers further she drops her eyes and releases him, folding her hands before her. ?If I were yours I would feel it my?duty to be beside you whatever your choices. You are a man of honor, Lucius Malfoy, and I would not expect you to give up your principles.?

    Lucius smiles gently at her. He loves her when she is like this ? soft and pliant, his for the taking. Just as Antonin could never understand Lucius? preference for Narcissa?s placidness, so Lucius could not understand Antonin?s and Rodolphus? desire for Bellatrix?s fiery nerve and temperament. For all Lucius is concerned, his friends are mad. A woman was most desirable in her delicate, subdued beauty. Like a lovely doll which is also warm and compassionate but still his own.

    Lucius puts a
  12. Mira_Jade The NSWFF Manager With The Cape

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    Wow, that was an emotionally intense update. And what I love most about it, is that I am truly feeling for characters that I have never really examined outside of the villain's role here. I was truly happy for Lucius and Narcissa, and understood Bella's pain and anger. Acutely. :( Your writing is emotional, and wonderfully detailed, and I really enjoyed every word of this.

    Still, even with her family's pain, I am truly excited for Andromeda and Ted! She's pregnant! [face_love]

    I can't wait to see the next part. =D=


    ~MJ @};-
  13. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    Poor Bellatrix! She really got the worst end here; both her sisters are happy. It's a shame Voldemort can't just breal Antonin out of Azkaban for her :(

    Great updaet!!
  14. Alley_Skywalker Force Ghost

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    Sep 27, 2005
    star 4
    Mira_Jade: I am always very glad when I can make readers consider characters in a different way then they have before. A lot of times, in fanfic, it's a sort of personal writer's goal :) Thank you.

    NYCitygurl: Haha, I don't think Riddle would ever do something just because. He's going to squeeze as much benefit out of this for himself as he can.
  15. Alley_Skywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2005
    star 4
    2.2

    Andromeda has just left the cozy, bright coffee shop at the end of Diagon Alley where she always liked going for coffee. She thinks she will go home and cuddle with Ted on the couch, lay her head in his lap and he will put one large, warm hand on her stomach and they will be a family. Like she had always wanted. She thought the choice she had made would kill her but it was the most exhilarating freedom she had ever felt. She doesn?t know she is being watched.

    Bellatrix had not lost time or energy on anger that wasn?t going to find an outlet. She found people and ways and figured out where she might find her wayward sister. Former sister, rather. The Tonks weren?t in hiding after all. Yet. She watches Andromeda from the shadows as she leaves the coffee shop and begins to stride down the half-empty street, her plum robes streaming out behind her. Andromeda seems perfects content with herself and her life. No thought at all, it seems, to the broken ones she?d left behind. As soon as Andromeda begins to merge with the evening shadows, Bellatrix moves toward her, lithely, almost silently.

    ?Meddy.?

    Andromeda turns around at the sound of her name and the familiar voice. She searches for a moment for the speaker and tenses when her eyes stop on Bellatrix. She tries to relax as Bella walks toward her slowly. Just to be safe, she carefully shifts her hand closer to her wand. ?Bella.?

    Bellatrix comes to stand straight before her and just looks at her with an unreadable expression. Suddenly, before Andromeda can react, Bellatrix grabs her arm and they are apparating.

    They land in a dark, silent courtyard, the windows of the building around them are shuttered. Andromeda has no clue where they possibly could be. She had not been prepared for the apparition and it takes her several moments to regain her footing and composure. That is enough time for Bellatrix to disarm her. Andromeda throws her hands up and watches her sister carefully as the older woman points a wand at her. ?Bella, what are you doing?? Andromeda asks, trying to sound as calm as she possibly can, which is much calmer than she feels, to her credit. ?Where are we??

    ?This is all your fault,? Bellatrix hisses, the wand in her hand trembling from the strain. ?Do you hear me, you dirty little blood traitor? This is all your damned fault!?

    ?I don?t understand.? She does, but she would rather Bellatrix explain exactly what she is being accused of other than marrying a muggle and breaking her ?proper? engagement.

    ?As though you don?t know!? Bellatrix? voice begins to rise and the ends of her phrases become frayed and nearly hysterical. ?As though you don?t know how you have shamed our family. As though you don?t know how you have hurt Papa and Narcissa and in what position you have forced Mama.?

    Andromeda frowns, lowering her arms carefully. Bella brandishes the wand at her but Andromeda still manages to put her hands down all the way and fold them over her stomach. There is a fierce, desperate rage in Bella?s face, in her voice. Something must have happened that Andromeda had not foreseen and it touched Bellatrix personally. ?That?s not why you?ve just kidnapped me is it??

    Bella seems taken aback. She pauses, still glaring at her sister as though she thinks she might produce the Killing Curse with willpower alone. ?No,? she growls finally, ?it?s not. I have to marry him because of you.?

    ?You have to marry who??

    ?Rodolphus Lestrange. I have to marry him because you ran away and abandoned us! You betrayed us but now you are running around perfectly happy with your life and I have to pay for your poor choices! Do you understand? I have to pay when it is you who had betrayed us!?

    Shock is what Andromeda feels first, then anger and despair, the memories of her betrothal sting and eat away at her. Every feeling of betrayal and hurt and desolation she had ever felt come flooding back. ?I betrayed you? Bella, you are out of your mind. Do you think you are the only one who has had to suffer for our family and these idiotic traditionalist views? What
  16. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    You're right, he definitely wouldn't help unless there was something in it for him :p I feel so bad for Bellatrix!! Maybe she'll still find a way to see Dolohov?

    And Andromeda! I'm gladd Bellatrix still has some feeling, that she wouldn't harm her sister's child.
  17. Alley_Skywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2005
    star 4
    NYCitygurl: Oh, Tom has gotten all he wants from Bella, so he'll keep his word. Roddy also has what he wants as Bella has promised Riddle she'd marry as instructed. The scene with Andromeda was something that came to my mind as I was thinking about how Bella hates Tonks so much in canon, it seems so PERSONAL to her. It's not even Andromeda she spends her time hating on but Tonks. Here Bella comes to see Dora as the reason that Andromeda left, kind of like the defining factor. And it's so much easier to hate Dora than to hate her own sister.







    -----PART III-----

    3.1


    Riddle keeps his word. It takes time, but finally, in late November, Bella stands on the same grey sand beach where she had once watched the prisoners? boat sail away, bearing her love away with it, and waits with baited breath.

    A boat appears in the distance, breaking through the perpetual mist, and sails slowly, lazily toward shore. It docks and several men step off the boat. Most of them are guards in red cloaks, but one is in a prison robe. Bellatrix feels her breath catch and her heart miss a beat as the guards step aside and allow Antonin to pass between them. She longs to run to him but forces herself to wait until he has been reunited with his mother. Finally, Antonin looks up at her. There is something in his expression that makes her feel like he had not expected to see her and the smile he gives her is cautious and a little bashful.

    Antonin steps away from his mother and Bella runs, almost tripping over the hem of her cloak as her shoes sink into the sand. She throws her arms around him and buries her face in his shoulder, disregarding the grime that has eaten into the fabric and the smell of Azkaban that lingers on his skin and in his hair. At that moment, she doesn?t care about anything but that Antonin has wrapped his arms around her and is holding her close to him, pressing her against his chest and whispering loving nonsense against her ear in a voice filled with awe.

    She?d waited for him. He pulls away just enough to look into her face. She swipes a long strand of hair out of his eyes. He?s pale and thin and there?s a certain scraggliness to his appearance. ?We need to get you cleaned up,? she says with a smile, her voice dipping into a fond teasing tone he can easily recognize.

    Antonin laughs softly, returning her blissful smile. Had it really been hardly a year since he last saw her? Time is immeasurable in Azkaban; it flies and crawls all at once. He breathes in the smell of her hair and runs his hand along her soft cheek. Her frame fits perfectly into his arms and he wants her. Then and there. He kisses her, deeply, without a single thought, hoping to drown in her. He owes Tom Riddle a life debt just for making this single moment possible again. ?I?ve missed you so much, Bella. Needed you??

    She buries her face into his robes so that he would not catch any stray emotion that might flicker across her face. ?Oh, Tony??

    *~*

    The fist snow falls early that year, sprinkling down across the fields and treetops in early December, promising that perhaps there will be snow on Christmas. Bella likes to stand on the edge of the thinly frozen lake of the Dolohov estate, wrapped up in a warm fur coat, with Antonin hugging her from behind as she watches the snowflakes tumble listlessly to the ground against a darkening sky.

    ?It?s beautiful,? she says one snowy evening, leaning back against Antonin.

    He nods, resting his chin on her shoulder, and stares across the glassy surface of the lake.

    ?What are you thinking about?? Bella asks after a pause. ?You?re quiet today.?

    ?Augustus came to talk to me. About joining the Organization.?

    She turns slightly in his arms so she can steal small glances at his face. ?And what did you tell him??

    ?I told him that I?m not sure.?

    She sighs and leans her head back against his shoulder. ?You really owe Riddle. We owe him your freedom.?

    ?I know.? Antonin nuzzles the top of her head. ?With him I will have a lot of opportunities. Besides, he fights for the right
  18. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    This is about to be so sad!! At least they get a short time together.
  19. Alley_Skywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2005
    star 4
    NYCitygurl: Yup, this is also the last (two) post(s).






    3.2

    Bella lies with her head on Antonin?s bare chest. She can feel his heart beating and the warmth of his body sooths her. Her breathing has evened out after the pleasure they had shared. She had given herself fully to that feeling of being whole, of being complete. She isn?t worried about her wedding night, about Rodolphus discovering that she is no longer a maiden. Because he won?t. The Lord had taught her well that there are ways to hide what you don?t want others to know. The candles burn low and the shadows in the room are dark. The sky in the far East begins to lighten slowly. It is overcast again, as it usually is in the mornings of early winter and the room seems especially comfortable when compared to the murky world outside.

    Antonin runs a hand through her hair and plays languidly with her curls. His left arm still hurts slightly from the Marking but he ignores it. He is in awe of her, of how the world has changed around him. But he knows that he is willing to follow her to the end of the universe, not to mention the ranks of Riddle?s Organization. ?I love you,? he says quietly, the words slipping out of their own accord. He doesn?t think there is any more reason to hide them.

    Bella looks up and shifts so she is face to face with him. She kisses him fully, some of their earlier passion seeping into that kiss. ?I love you too. I always have and always will,? she murmurs against his lips. She knows she will have to tell him. Now. Rodolphus will not wait a single day more.

    Antonin must have sensed her unease, the hesitation in her body language. ?Bella, what?s wrong?? he asks, sliding one hand down her cheek.

    ?It?s?it?s nothing,? she stutters, not wanting to tell him. ?It?s not important right now.? She wants a few more hours with him, at least until the sun comes up and she has to wake up from this dream that she wishes so badly was her reality.

    ?Don?t be like that, Bella,? Antonin says softly, still playing with her hair. ?I know you, I can sense your moods. What is it??

    She can?t tell him like this, lying in his arms, in the bed they had just shared, as he plays with her hair. She untangles herself from him and slides from under the blankets. Bella throws on her cloak without bothering to get fully dressed and walks to the window. She looks outside at the unfamiliar night landscape, wondering if, in another life, it could have become as familiar as the view out the window of her room at home. If home could have become this house, Antonin?s house. But she will never know. ?You?re right. There is something I have to tell you. But it?s not easy to say.?

    Antonin sits up, anticipating, intuitively, a hard conversation, and summons a shirt. He pulls it on, waiting for Bellatrix to continue.

    ?I only hope,? Bella says, wrapping herself as tightly as she can in the cloak, as though it could offer her comfort. ?I only hope that you can understand why I did what I did and that it was for you, because I love you.?

    ?What are you talking about?? Antonin asks. He finishes pulling on basic articles of clothing and walks across the room to where she stands. He wraps his arms around her and pulls her back against him, nuzzling her thick, curly hair. ?I don?t understand, Bella.?

    She turns in his arms and looks up into his face, trying to memorize it, to remember how exactly he looked while he still harbored love for her instead of hatred. ?I?m engaged, Tony,? she whispers, barely managing to form the painful words.

    He stares at her like she has gone mad, then shakes his head. ?I don?t understand. What do you mean, you?re engaged??

    She shakes her head sadly, her eyes pleading for him to at least listen. ?I?m engaged to Rodolphus. I??

    ?You?re engaged to Rodolphus?? He lets go of her and takes a step back. His hair is mussed and strands of it fall in his eyes but Antonin doesn?t seem to notice. He?s staring at her as though he does not know her. It?s the most bewildered and disbelieving expression she has ever seen.

    ?Plea
  20. Alley_Skywalker Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2005
    star 4
    -----EPILOGUE-----


    Antonin feels himself to be some kind of god of disaster as he watches the scene before him. The burning and twisted remains of buildings, the mutilated bodies of witches and wizards, the bright red stains of blood on the ground, all symbolize the battle that has taken places here.

    This is the first large raid Antonin was put in charge of. Now that it is over, he is allowed to take in the full scale of the destruction his offensive has caused. They had won this battle, and now Antonin?s people are busy securing the perimeter and burning bodies of dead enemies. The reek of blood and burned flesh, of healing and sedating potions, of smoke and dirt, is thick in the air. Their own medical team that had been summoned works to relocated the wounded and bring home bodies of the dead. Antonin notices some familiar faces among the dead boys and tries to not allow the memories of those people to crowd his mind. His job isn?t done yet. His boys are all safe, that is all he needs to know. Wilkes has a bad burn, but that will heal in a day or two. Antonin closes his eyes so he does not have to watch two mediwizards walk by, levitating behind them a stretcher with a blonde haired boy, hardly sixteen, whose limbs have been badly mutilated and his chest covered with boils.

    A presence beside him makes Antonin look up. Bellatrix comes to stand alongside him, dropping the hood of her black robe. They stand in silence, watching the scene unfold before them. Antonin is starting to learn that the battle is only half the job. Cleaning up after is often many times harder.

    ?This is hell,? he says quietly to Bella, feeling his conscious drown in the flaming red tongues of the fires that burn the bodies of the dead.

    Bellatrix wants to tell him that this is the price they must pay; this is horribly beautiful because it is the start, the building, of the future for their world, but she cannot find the right words, so she merely lets them slip out as they will. ?This is our future.?

    Antonin looks over at her, watches her entranced expression, lit up with the yellow-orange light of the fires. He opens his mouth as though to say something but understands there is nothing he can say. He has lost her. And now, he thinks, he has lost her in more ways than one.

    Antonin turns away from her and continues to watch his self-created Armageddon in silence.
  21. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    So sad! But absolutely, to the very last last, beautiful. Your writing is wonderful, and so is this story. I hope you'll share more with us in the future!!
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