According to Plan
I look between Lucius and Bellatrix, my face deadpan but my mind completely bewildered.
Bellatrix… Bellatrix Lestrange?
I remember reading about her in the Daily Prophet every so often over the course of the past few years. Unlike the other revolutionaries, she’s one of the few Dark wizards that blatantly sought for notoriety for her crimes against Muggles and the Ministry. This Dark Lord, whoever he proves to be… I wouldn’t be surprised if Bellatrix is his right-hand witch.
I feel a shudder of fear run up my spine and fight to keep still.
If even Bellatrix Lestrange is here, then, bloody hell, I could be in the middle of Death Eater headquarters for all I know! I need to get out of here. Fast. Forget waiting for help, I don’t know if Sirius even knows where I am.
My eyes dart around the room, scanning the walls.
Come to think of it… I don’t even know where I am!
“Bellatrix,” Lucius continues, frowning. “What are you doing here? You know the Dark Lord entrusted me with recruiting Sirius Black.”
Bellatrix lets out a cackle of laughter before pushing herself off the doorframe and sauntering towards him. “Trust?” she repeats, derisively. “Oh, I don’t know about that. And as for that accusatory tone of yours, I can come and go through your house as I please, dearest brother-in-law.”
My ears perk up.
The Malfoy Manor? So that’s where I am! I scan the room again, now taking note of the cold, stone walls, the hard dirt floor, the vastness of the room, and the bottles of wine lining one wall. I must be in the basement… or wine cellar? Or even just the cellar. At any rate, I’m at the absolute ground floor and, from the size of this room, this must span at least most of the manor.
Still though… my shoulders slump at the thought.
What good does this information do me? If I’m in the Malfoy Manor, then that means I’m well away from the Scottish Highlands. And seeing as I’m tied up and wandless, I might as well be on the other side of the world!
“It’s been too long, cousin dear…”
The sound of Bellatrix’s voice by my ear jolts me out of my thoughts. I flinch and turn my head to see her sneer and pull out her wand.
She touches the tip of the wand to her lip before dragging it along my arm.
“Don’t look so happy to see me, Sirius,” she hisses, visibly pleased at the reaction she got out of me. “Last I heard, you were still a disgrace to your family name and a blood traitor as ever before.”
The wand tip trails up to the side of my cheek as Bellatrix leans in close once again.
“Not much has changed has it?” she whispers. “So why… would the Dark Lord possibly be interested in you?”
I jerk away from her as red sparks shoot of her wand, clenching my jaw to keep the nerves from showing on my face. But in all my fidgeting, my hands connect with the knot of the black rope that Lucius had bound me with. It’s higher up on my back than is honestly comfortable to reach, but… I can—I can actually loosen this!
“I would’ve asked the same thing,” Lucius thankfully answers for me in my silence, “if Regulus hadn’t insisted such earlier this year.”
“He loves his brother after all.” Bellatrix flicks me in the face before stepping away from behind me.
“You have to admit that Regulus has a point, Bella.”
Bellatrix scoffs. “What point? That he wants to save his dearest older brother from his eventual murder for being a blood traitor? Even less reason to trust him. Does he think the Dark Lord is that foolish?”
My eyes flick between them, my mind following the conversation but my hands focused on tugging out the knot on my bindings. So, the Death Eaters are genuinely interested in Sirius… But why? Just because of his family ties?
“He’s a Black, Bellatrix, and as pureblooded as the rest of us,” Lucius reminds her darkly. “Even the Dark Lord knows that Black’s dueling skills and vast knowledge of the Dark Arts makes him a valuable asset.”
“Hah!” Bellatrix lets out a shout of laughter. “An asset,” she repeats in disgust. “I am skilled enough in the Dark Arts to make up for the both of us. We don’t need him!”
“Your arrogance blinds you, Bellatrix. Even the Dark Lord can’t deny that Black is a powerful wizard. Why else would I go to such great lengths to disarm him?”
“He’s a blood traitor, Lucius,” Bellatrix spits out.
“His entire family has sided with the Dark Lord. The same blood runs through his veins as runs through yours.” Lucius folds his arms. “Regulus insists that Black will conform in time.”
“Perhaps…” Bellatrix grudgingly admits. “It’s only a matter of time before all purebloods realize that the Dark Lord’s creed is the only truth.”
I let out a snort.
Bellatrix and Lucius turn to me, taken aback, and despite myself, my snort quickly turns into a disbelieving laugh.
“You two…” I shake my head. “You don’t know Si—me at all do you? You genuinely think I’m going to join you. Can’t you take a hint?”
Lucius furrows his brows. “What did you just say?”
In some deeper, more logical part of my mind, it occurs to me that if I barrel on like this I’m going to get myself killed. But I can’t help it. I’m sitting here listening to them go on and on about how just because Sirius is from the Black family and has every trait that a proper Black son is supposed to have (except a propensity for blantant evilness), he’s a default Death Eater.
To be completely honest, I’m almost personally offended.
Who do these people think they are? My own family is a case in point. Maybe my ancestors were Muggle-haters and Slytherins to the core, but that doesn’t mean that all Slytherins are just as depraved. My parents, for one. Regulus, for another. I refuse to believe that Regulus is as wicked as the rest of them.
All their conversation has told me is how entirely insane their Death Eater movement is. Their blind assumptions that Purebloods should be on their side and against non-Magic folks. Their supremacist ideals.
I’ve heard more than enough of their vile plans for Sirius.
And you know what? They can’t have him. He’d never join them and I’m going to shove it in their faces and show them they can’t use force to get anything they want!
So you know what I do?
I barrel on. Ye-up.
“You think Sirius Black knows all this Dark magic because he’s a Dark wizard?” I continue, belatedly hoping that they just think I’m referring to myself in the third-person. “You don’t think I’m just doing it because I’m curious and have nothing better to do? I’m way more of a pompous git than you think I am! Now what kind of help do you think I’m going to be for your stupid wizard gang?”
Lucius stares at me, his mouth slightly open as if flabbergasted. Bellatrix just watches me with with her dark eyes narrowed.
“What…” she hisses, raising her wand in one swift movement, “did you just call us, Black?”
I blink twice to try and conceal the feeling of relief that just flooded through my body. I had finally loosened the knot. Now, sitting here with both ends of the rope in my hands, all I need is a plan. My eyes flicker down to the wand pointed in my face, way closer than it would be to me if I weren’t disarmed.
How fast… can I physically disarm her?
I mean, Mia threw a bloody rock in my face and caught me off guard. (Yup, I’m still sore about that, so sue me.) But if there’s one thing I learned from that encounter, it’s that pureblood wizards don’t have much reflexes for purely non-magical attacks when they think their opponent is disarmed.
Huh, now there’s a plan.
“Exactly what it sounded like, Lestrange,” I repeat, coaxing her to come closer. “You say the Dark Lord wants to talk to me? Well, I have a message for him.”
“And what’s that?” She leans towards me, barring her teeth menacingly.
“Tell your precious Dark Lord,” I whisper, riling her up even more, “that I’m not interested in his Death Eater games. He’s insane and so are you.”
“You little…” Bellatrix growls, her entire body trembling. “You dare renounce the Dark Lord?!” She grips me by the front of my shirt and points her wand threateningly in my face.
This is my chance!
I tense my body to prepare to rip off the binds and grab Bellatrix’s wand—when suddenly every muscle in my body goes limp and my eyesight goes completely white.
For a split second, it almost feels like I’m in the Portkey stream again, but bodiless and soaring through a blur of darkness.
And then with a jolt, I’m back.
My eyes snap open and my chest heaves with a gasp, wheezing as if my lungs were filling with air for the first time in my life.
I have to blink several times before I can even attempt to make sense of the blurry figures surrounding me. Hands grip my shoulders and shake me forcefully. “W-who—what…” I blink up at the face in front of me. “Remus?”
“Cecilia.” A look of relief passes over his face. “It’s you, right?”
“Y-yeah, it’s me,” I stammer out weakly. “Where am I…? What’s going on?”
“Thank god, you’re back,” Remus breathes out. “James managed to switch you two back to your original bodies. How are you feeling?”
“Are you okay, Cecilia?” Lily’s voice asks from somewhere to my right.
But instead of answering them, my eyes scan over the rest of the faces hovering over me. Switch us back? Where am I? Soft couch cushions. Crackling cinders of wood in the fireplace. This… this must be the Common Room. And everyone’s here. James. Lily. Sonata. Peter.
I shoot straight of the chair I was slumped in, a rush of panic running through my body once more. Ignoring the calls of concern around me, I spin a full circle, my eyes darting around the empty Common Room. Almost in a flash, my dazed mind catches up to me. James switched me and Sirius back to our original bodies. But Sirius isn’t here. He’s back in his body… which isn’t in Hogwarts Castle. It’s—
I have to brace myself against the arm of the chair when the realization hits me.
“Sirius,” I breathe out. “Bloody hell, Bellatrix Lestrange… He has no idea the mess I’ve left him in.”
I slowly open my eyes, my head aching and my vision blurry as hell.
Did it work…?
It definitely feels different. My entire body feels chilled and, from the feel of my non-cushioned tush, I’m pretty sure I’m not in the Common Room anymore. Bloody uncomfortable though. Why does it feel like my shirt is trying to wrench my neck off of my body?
“Pass out from fear, cousin?” a female voice jeers from somewhere far too close to me.
I blink several times to clear the image before me and immediately my face breaks into a wide grin. I recognize this face. A bit more crazed and brooding than I remember when I was younger, but unmistakeable.
“Bellatrix Lestrange,” I whisper, the smirk on my face broadening. “What a pleasure.”
Her eyes narrow and her grip tightens on the collar of my shirt. “Are you mocking me, Black?” she hisses at me. “Have you gone mad from fear or do I have to jog your memory?”
My eyes flicker to the tip of her wand, just centimeters from my left eye. “Developed narcolepsy since I saw you last,” I lie blithely. “Takes me a while to get back into things after I spontaneously pass out.”
She shoots me a suspicious look. Never had a sense of humor, this woman.
“Right, so, why don’t you get your Dark witch hands off of me so we can talk like civilized people?” I jerk my shirt out of her grasp, probably fatally stretching the material in the process. Leave it to Cecilia to pick my favorite t-shirt on this night of all nights. “Whatever I’ve been telling you these past few minutes, no need to resort to violence, yeah?”
Bellatrix glowers at me, her wand still right up in my face. “You think I’m going to let you off so easily for insulting the Dark Lord? For calling him insane?”
I snort, probably a lot louder than I should have.
Cecilia said that? About the Dark Lord? Bloody hell, and I thought this girl couldn’t get any hotter.
“You have to admit, I do have a point,” I reply, shrugging.
Bellatrix, predictably, is not as amused. “You have some nerve, you blood traitor!” She seizes the collar of my shirt again and her wand jabs against my left cheek. “This will teach you to know your place! Cruc—”
“Bellatrix, that’s enough.”
A pale hand shoots out and grips her arm before she can finish her curse. I look up to see Lucius in all his shining, long blonde hair glory as he gives her a reproachful look.
“Blimey, Lucius,” I say in mock awe. “I didn’t know you cared.”
He scowls at me before pushing Bellatrix back a few steps. “This is hardly out of concern, you arrogant fool,” he spits before turning to Bellatrix. “Regardless, you’re being tactless, Bella. I rather hestitate to think that the Dark Lord would want the murder of a possible recruit.”
Bellatrix lets out a derisive laugh, still not lowering her wand.
“A recruit!” she exclaims. “Have you learned nothing from our conversation, Lucius? Sirius Black is a traitor through and through! He’s renounced the Dark Lord, his family, and his good-for-nothing brother!”
I raise an eyebrow.
From the sound of it, Cecilia had one hell of a conversation with these two knobheads. How long did I leave her here for? I close my eyes briefly in thought. Twenty minutes… tops? A sharp pang of guilt shoots through me again just at the thought of leaving her among these Dark wizards. For even just a minute. From the way Bellatrix was threatening me seconds before, I was bloody pushing it with timing.
Or was I…?
I flex my fingers and relax them, belatedly realizing that they were gripped tightly around the ends of a rope. I blink. A rope? Suddenly, everything falls into place. The loosened knot at my back. The close proximity of Bellatrix and her wand when I woke up. Blimey, Cecilia. I’ll have to give it to her; the plan’s not bad. Albeit supremely suicidal.
I feel a grin form on my face.
Now that Cecilia is safely back at Hogwarts, it’s time for me to break out and get my arse out of here. Well… two Dark wizards against one bloke? I might be facing my death in a few minutes, but, hell, at least I’ll die trying. Or better yet, take these two bastards out with me.
“All well and true, Bella,” says Lucius, his voice placating. “But he is still a Black.”
“What of it?” growls Bellatrix.
Lucius furrows his brows. “Just think, you fool. The Blacks are some of the Dark Lord’s most valuable supporters. How do you think they’ll react to the murder of their eldest son, blood traitor or not?” He grips her wand arm. “Do you honestly think the Dark Lord wants dissension within ranks at this stage of the rebellion?”
“I understand the Dark Lord’s wishes infinitely better than you, Lucius,” snaps Bellatrix as she throws off his arm. “We’ll be doing the Black family a grand act of service by murdering their treasonous son.”
“I’d like to see you try.”
Lucius and Bellatrix necks nearly snap as they turn to glower at me.
I shrug. “I’m just saying,” I continue, rather facetious about the situation. “Go ahead. Jab your wand and kill me if you’d like. We all know you want to, but I know that you’d do anything but just that.”
Her eyes narrow as she steps closer to me once again, her wand still raised. “And why is that, cousin dearest?”
“Because I know you, Bellatrix.” I look pointedly at her wand tip and then straight into her dark eyes. “I know you like playing with your toys,” I whisper. “And it’s very well that you have me all tied up here, but we both know who would win a fair one-on-one duel.”
Bellatrix’s mouth curls into a sneer, but before she can open her mouth, Lucius remarks loudly, “You must think us daft, Black! Why would we let you go when we have you exactly where we want you?”
“Tied up and wandless,” adds Bellatrix. “As deliciously defenseless as you are, cousin, how can you expect to be any amount of a threat?”
“Well,” I start, my hands gripping the rope tightly once again. “Come a little closer, cousin dearest… and I’ll show you just how threatening I can be.”