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Before They Fall by Jchrissy
Chapter 13 : Revelations
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 22


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Amazing chapter image by Pheonixn@TDA
Chapter 13 - Revelations

Regulus Black paced back and forth. Every step he took caused the rotting floorboards to emit a small moan of protest, and though the noise irritated him, he didn’t stop. He wanted to light his wand and further explore his surroundings, but these things were better done under the mask of dark. He pulled out his pocket watch for the second time and took a step closer to the old, boarded up window, hoping that the afternoon sun would be able to slip through just enough to illuminate the hands of the watch. He squinted closer to the glass face, but no luck. It was still too dark.

He slipped the gold heirloom back in his pocket and continued pacing. Regulus knew his companion should be there any moment, but he detested waiting. And if the boy didn’t arrive before Bellatrix, then they’d both be in trouble.

A sharp creaking of the door forced him to come to a complete halt. He knew he was nearly invisible in the shadows, but that didn’t stop him from drawing his wand. He watched as a male form slipped into the Shrieking Shack, but he was unable to make out the face. The heavy hood of the newcomer’s black cloak concealed his identity completely. The boy coughed four slow, deliberate times, causing Regulus to lower his wand with a sigh.

“Finally,” Regulus hissed. “Took you long enough.”

“I had difficulty slipping away. You vouldn’t be vanting me to raise any suspicions, vould you?” The boy removed his hood, his blonde hair catching what little light there was.

“No matter, what’s important is that we’re both here before her.Have you found out anything valuable, Alrek?” Regulus asked, then proceeded to whispered a spell under his breath, causing a small orb of light to appear at the tip of his wand. He avoided speaking to someone whose face he could not make out whenever possible.

“Before ve get into that, are you being certain this place is safe? You are aware that other students are still swarming Hogsmeade, are you not?”

“Of course I’m aware of that. And yes, it’s safe.” Regulus snapped, not one to appreciate his choices being questioned. “When I mentioned to Severus Snape that I needed a secure location to meet someone from our side in Hogsmeade, he suggested it. Students don’t come near this shack because it’s supposedly haunted. I made it clear to Severus that if he should be mistaken and someone was to walk up the path and find us, he would answer for it personally.” Regulus smiled at the thought of how much power his small, tattoo like trophy gave him. Severus might be a Potions prodigy, but he wasn’t a marked follower. The youngest of the Blacks could tell that the greasy-haired seventh year craved the power and prestige more than anything. “We just can’t use it on full moons. Something about a nutty villager coming up here on those nights.”

“And vhy are ve not using the cabinet on the second floor?”

Regulus usually grew bored of questions, but just now when they had nothing else to do besides wait, he didn’t mind them quite as much. Especially when the questions were coming from Alrek Rukin, who was supposedly chosen by the Dark Lord himself as a spy inside Hogwarts. It was also rumored that Alrek’s entire family were some of the largest supporters of the Dark Lord’s in Easter Europe and that the majority of Bulgaria feared them. How much of that was true and how much was talk, Regulus didn’t know.

“I assume it’s because Vanishing Cabinets have been turning up left and right now. Even if Dumbledore is a fool, I’m sure he searched the castle floor by floor after Bellatrix was spotted. She can’t risk using the cabinet when he’s probably found it and set up all sorts of traps around it. Although I’m surprised the old man hasn’t gotten rid of it altogether.”

“Very good, little cousin.” To Regulus’s credit, he didn’t jump, though he was certain a large portion of his blood may have frozen over.

“Bellatrix?” He said with as much confidence as he could gather. He pointed his wand in every direction, but still failed to spot his cousin.

“Are they teaching you nothing at that school?” came another hiss. He pointed his wand in the direction it had seemed to originate from, and after a moment of searching he began to see what could only be described as portions of her. Her dark, glassy eyes first, then a few strands of her thick mass of curls. He swore her nails, blood red today instead of their usual black, came into view next. After less than five-seconds, her entire body was visible as she leaned comfortably against the wall.

“Don’t tell me that you can’t even recognize a simple Disillusionment charm, my dear cousin,” she taunted as she took a step towards them. Of course, a Disillusionment charm. He should have expected her to be waiting even before they arrived. She always did like watching people while they were at their most vulnerable.

“You don’t think I would trust Severus Snape’s word simply because he admires the Dark Lord, do you? Even you can’t be that naive. I arrived hours ago and set up the necessary precautions. Now,” she took another step towards the boys, reaching her fingers out and grabbing hold of Regulus’s chin. “Tell me you have something for me to pass on to the Dark Lord.”

Regulus forced his gaze to remain steady on her shadowy eyes. “I would rather tell the Dark Lord directly, Bella.”

“Ha!” she cackled, her fingernails digging into his flesh with just enough bite to cause Regulus to clench his jaw before she finally let go. “You think the Dark Lord would set foot in this Mudblood-ridden village?”

“Ven are ve being able to attend another meeting?” Alrek asked from the side, drawing Bellatrix’s attention to him.

“Are the itty bitty boys desperate to play with the grown ups?” She mocked a pout as she pulled out her wand and lit the tip. “Desperate to be in His company?” Regulus picked up the familiar hints of adoration in his cousins voice. The way her tone seemed to cradle even the thought of their Lord.

“Now,” she continued, “we don’t have all day. Tell me you have information.”

“All the Slytherins I mentioned before still seem easily recruited. Mulciber isn’t a genius with a wand, but he’s brutal and followers orders,” Regulus replied promptly, not wishing to push his cousin’s temper. He took a step back toward the wall as he spoke to avoid a rat that scurried across the floor.

“And about the others?” she asked, her eyes darting to the same rat that Regulus had just distanced himself from.

He assumed she was about to do the same, keep the vermin from scurrying over her shoes. Instead, she raised her wand and pointed it at the creature, her face set deep in concentration. A thin jet of green light tore from the tip of her weapon and collided with the creature, silencing the scratching of his tiny nails against the wood.

“Your nonverbal abilities are impressive,” Regulus muttered, not knowing what else to say.

“Tell me about the others,” Bellatrix ordered again, ignoring her cousin’s comment. “If He’s to gain new support from Hogwarts, it must be done soon.”

“What does it matter if he has Potter on his side? There are plenty of Slytherins who want to join him,” Regulus asked, hoping to avoid the truth. He was no closer to finding a weak link to prey upon in Potter’s chain than he’d been months ago.

“What matters, is that we gain numbers. Power. Do you want to live day in and out in a world surrounded by filth, Regulus?” Bellatrix’s voice was dangerously low as she stepped toward him.

“Of course not, but he’s just one arrogant, cocky student.”

“If I may-” Alrek interrupted, causing the two others to turn and face him. “It is true he is just one student, that is being obvious. But he is part of a group that idolizes him. Vhy vould the Dark Lord be recruiting a Slytherin, and be getting just one follower, vhen he could recruit the boy who has most of Hogwarts eating out of his hands? This school looks up to Potter, vhat he and his group do influence more students than anyone else.”

Regulus didn't let his outward appearance change, but inside he felt like a dense child, who'd just been told a painfully obvious answer.

"Enough about why. Your mission is not to analyze the Dark Lord's orders. Now, do you have something useful to tell me, or are you planning on further wasting my time.” The intensity of her tone had the hairs on the back of Regulus’s neck standing on end. He knew she couldn’t be pushed much farther.

“I think I may being of help vith that.” Regulus wanted to be irritated that Alrek seemed to be so ahead of him, but the fact that it was keeping his cousin’s anger away was too great of a relief.

“Our main goal is to be getting Potter alone, some’vere that he can be captured and taken to the Dark Lord, is it not? Vell, I have just spent the afternoon in Hogsmeade vith his group. They talked of going home for the vinter holiday, so he vill no longer be in the protection of Hogwarts. Vell, I believe I can continue to gain their trust, be part of their circle, and vith that trust I can discover a time over the holiday vere ve can get him alone. Even if it means creating that time myself.”

Bellatrix stayed silent for a moment, and despite Regulus’s better judgement, he voiced the most obvious concern. “Even if we do get him and bring him to the Dark Lord, he won’t join. You don’t understand him, any of them, Bellatrix. He’s dating a mudblood, for god sakes. It’s a waste of time for Him to even try.”

Bellatrix snapped her head toward him, her lips tearing into an angry snarl. “It is not your place to decide who the Dark Lord should and shouldn’t recruit! It is your place to follow orders and do as you’re told!” He took a small step backward as her hand hovered over her wand pocket. “And even if Potter denies, then we will have the chance to make an example out of him. Out of all of them. Haven’t you always wanted to teach your blood traitor brother a lesson, Regulus?” Bellatrix asked, the dark light in her eyes making it obvious that she wanted only one answer from him.

“Yes, yes, of course,” he lied, hoping he’d never have to come to a point where he was expected to teach Sirius a lesson.

“It is being close to time for us to return,” Alrek interrupted, the time ticking closer to four o'clock.

Bellatrix stood frozen for another moment, her eyes and Regulus’s latched together, before facing Alrek.

“You have until the end of the term. If by then neither of you have a time and place that Potter can be easily accessed, you will pay for it.” She turned her head and gazed at the dead rat at her feet, making her point all too clear.

She faced them again, and cast the Disillusionment charm atop their heads one after another. Regulus sucked back a groan as the icy feeling trickled slowly over him, covering his face then seeping down his neck and dripping over his body. After a moment he glanced at Alrek to see that the boy was blended perfectly into the darkness around him.

“I assume you know how to return back to your normal form?” Bellatrix questioned as she twirled her wand between two fingers. “Don’t make a single mistake, or I will watch as the Dark Lord handles you personally.” She pointed her wand into the air and created a swirl of dust. A mist like feeling surrounded them. After a moment it dissolved, and it seemed as if nothing had happened.

“Don’t tell me you were both going to be careless enough to leave this room without erasing every trace of you? Pathetic.” Bellatrix sneered.

Before either of the boys could make a comment, there was a loud crack and she was gone.

Isabelle let her mind wander as she, Lily, and Alice got comfortable around the fire in the Heads’ Quarters. She'd been on edge the rest of Hogsmeade, her thoughts revolving around the story she was now moments from telling.

“So,” Lily began, settling herself on the sofa close to the fire, Butterscotch curled into her lap. Belle smiled at the small animal, so innocent and untainted by the world around them.

When this was all over and her heart didn’t feel so heavy, she would have to mention how much Lily and James had resembled new parents: toting their kitten around Hogsmeade, James asking if Lily thought the little guy wanted more milk every few minutes, Lily scrunching her eyebrows up and questioning James on what kind of blanket she should get for him…

“Why are you scared to date James?” Belle asked, tearing her eyes from the kitten to its owner

“Well,” Lily began, biting the corner of her lip. “I suppose it’s too scary to know right now what we feel. He saved me, his family saved me, and as much as that means to me, I know that isn’t the only reason I fancy him. But what about how he feels about me? What if it isn’t real, and he just thinks it is because of how close we got during the summer? I’m not ready to see what happens if we date and it doesn’t work out. I don’t want to lose him yet.”


Alice and Belle stayed silent as Lily’s words floated around the room. Belle had hoped it would be a silly reason that she could argue with, keep the conversation from her own affairs for as long as possible, but that wasn’t the case. Even though everyone else could see how much James cared about Lily, Belle understood that she would have to accept it on her own before she opened her heart up to a relationship.

She gazed around at her friends, their faces patient. She knew they wouldn't push her to begin until she was ready, but she was running out of ways to distract herself. She met Alice's dark eyes, and that single glance was filled with more understanding than Belle could handle. What if once her friends realized that what happened was her own fault, their looks of understanding faded and were replaced with the same cold glares that the girls at Beauxbatons had given her? But Belle knew that she’d have to take the risk… they’d been the best friends anyone could have, and they deserved to know the truth.

She closed her eyes, and knew there was no use at putting it off any longer. She'd start at the beginning and hope that they still cared about her by the time she got to the end. “I left my ‘ome… rather I was told to leave ‘ome and not return because I made a decision zat my parents could not agree with.” Belle stood up from the sofa and moved next to the fire. Her eyes were hooked to the flames, the dancing oranges and devouring yellows. She let her mind wander back to the tenth day of April. The day that everything in her life changed before she even realized it. It was just barely six months ago, but in her heart it felt like another life.

“I made a decision zat would shame and disgrace them, and instead of supporting me, zey exiled me.” Her breath evened out as she let the memories seep into her.

“I met Christophe my first year of Beauxbatons…” Her words where there, but her mind wasn’t. It was far away, years past their initial meeting and dwelling on the end of it all. The feeling of the sea, just warm enough to walk a few inches into it. Conjuring images of the way his hand laced in hers and squeezed it just a little tighter when she dared to step a few more feet towards the waves… “Our families were somewhat familiar with one another, so I'd already known a bit about 'im prior to ze start of school. ‘Is father is a business man, one of ze most successful in France, ‘is mother, a well known witch zat is rumored to ‘ave been born into more money than God ‘imself would know what to do with.

“I liked Christophe well enough when we were first acquainted; ‘e was polite, courteous, and didn’t ‘ave ze same attitude most of ze school possessed. We started dating in April of fifth year, right before I turned sixteen. Even though we liked one another before that, I wasn’t permitted to date until then. ‘E asked me to join ‘im on a walk around ze Palace Gardens.”

Had she really only been in fifth year then? Was it two years ago that she held his hand as they toured the gardens, laughed when he tucked a petal behind her ear...

“‘E asked me to be ‘is girlfriend zat day. Ze following week was Easter ‘oliday, and our families dined together on ze night of my birthday, both pleased about our relationship. I understood zey were already thinking of a wedding, of what a suitable match we’d make and ‘ow soon after graduation we’d be wed. But Christophe and I laughed about zat behind their backs. We’d joke zat we’d take off together, move in after graduation and live in sin just to vex zem. Though I wouldn’t ‘ave been against it, I knew ‘e never would follow through. ‘E’s an only child and ‘is parents approval meant everything to ‘im, but it was still fun to pretend. At ze time I wanted to study Wandlore, and I knew that I would not be marrying right after graduation. I never voiced that though, because it was easier to spend time with ‘im if my mother and father thought I’d be wed to ‘im within a few years time.”

She thought about how it had been after they began dating, when their families both approved and they could be open about their relationship at Beauxbatons. They went from being popular, to being treated like royalty.

“Everything continued just like you’d zink it would. We spent a decent amount of time together over ze summer, and we even vacationed with one another’s families before sixth year started. I didn’t love Christophe, or at least I wasn’t in love with ‘im. I zink I was infatuated ze way anyone would be at zat age. After all, ‘e was handsome and caring, and ‘e adored me. After Christmas passed, we were starting to get more desperate to get a bit of time alone together. A chance to be with each other and not be ‘overed around in the Palace of Beauxbatons, without our families being around… we just wanted it to be us. Zen our chance came when ‘is mother and father announced zat zey would be taking a ‘oliday at their villa in ze Côte d'Azur-”

“The what?” Lily interrupted, drawing Belle from her own world of memories. The strength of them, of the imprints of her past, had captivated her so completely that she’d nearly forgotten she was reliving it all in the presence of her friends.

“Ze Côte d'Azur, ze French Riviera. Christophe’s family owns a villa in an area of ze French Riviera called Cassis.” Lily nodded at Belle, and she took a breath to steady herself before she continued.

“Zey invited me on ze ‘oliday, and Christophe told me zat ‘is parents ‘ad friends in a neighboring villa zat zey would spend the majority of their time with. So we knew zat even if we weren’t going to be completely alone, it would be close enough. We went to dinner ze first night we were there, Easter night which also ‘appened to fall on my birthday, to celebrate both my turning seventeen and our year anniversary. Zen we walked along ze beach together under ze moonlight… ze kind of romantic setting zat every girl dreams of ‘aving.”

The way the wind had whipped her silvery blond hair around Christophe’s face when he pulled her into him was so clear that Belle gave up trying to forget, and let the memory wash through her. Their footprints were still etched into the sand where they had walked along the line that separated land and sea, the music of the waves surrounding her heart as his kiss filled her lips. They’d both known what they wanted to happen, or at least they thought they did.

“Belle,” Lily’s soft voice and protective arms reaching around her brought Belle back to reality. She realized for the first time that there were tears slipping over her cheeks… but she couldn’t figure out why they seemed so detached from her. Maybe because the tears she was shedding were different now, not the same kind she’d cried in the following weeks after that night.

“Belle, you don’t have to,” Alice whispered, clutching both of her hands.

“No, it’s okay. I need to.” She shut her eyes and silently pleaded that by the end of it, they’d still be sitting beside her. “The walk back to their villa was nothing but blurry with the knowledge of what was going to come next…”

Nerves, fear, excitement… all of it burning into her veins as he unlocked the glass doors. All the contradictory feelings only growing stronger when Christophe picked up a note that told them his parents were out and would be back later. She was only seventeen, barely seventeen, but that wasn’t so young, was it? She was of age to do anything else, to perform any spells that her wand wished to, so she was old enough to let herself be with the person she’d just spent the last year of her life with, wasn’t she? This was how it was supposed to happen…how relationships moved forward. She forced all the concerns, all the questions from her mind as he guided her upstairs.

“Zat night we took steps together zat neither of us ‘ad really been prepared for. We tried to laugh through ze awkward parts, and at ze end ‘e told me ‘ow much ‘e loved me.” Had she even believed it? Had she loved him? She was the image of everything he wanted, she knew that. Beautiful, well bred, intelligent…

“Shhh, it’s okay,” Lily cooed as Belle’s voice became thick with tears.

“It’s not even zat I was very sad about ‘im,” Belle tried to explain, her thoughts so tangled. “It’s just zat, now when I think about it, when I really see what we were, I realize ‘e cared only about ze person inside me zat I detest so much. Ze person zat let ‘erself be ze image of what everyone wanted, what everyone thought was perfect. Beautiful, malleable, simple, controllable…”

“Even if you used to be that person, you aren’t anymore, Isabelle. Beautiful, yes, but just as much inside as you are out,” Alice whispered. “No one would ever think of you as malleable-”

“Definitely not simple,” Lily added with a gentle smile.

“And controllable? We’d get looked at like nutters for even suggesting it.”

Belle smiled as another tear slipped over her lips. Though the smile still held more sadness than relief, because they didn’t know. They could still change their minds and be disgusted with her by the end of it… but she couldn’t stop now. She had to finish.

“It was ze first and only time we were together. Ze last two days of ze ‘oliday spent touring ze Côte d'Azur.”

As her friends loosened their grip, she let her mind drench itself back into the memory. Painful as it may be, she needed to be back there.

“School started ze next week. And even if what ‘appened between us wasn’t ze movement of ‘Eaven and Earth zat people make it seem like, we were still closer because of it. I even started thinking zat Christophe wouldn’t be a terrible match for me… Zen in ze middle of May I went to speak with ze infirmier who lived at the Palace because I believed I was ill. I ‘ad been throwing up for a few days, and it was beginning to disrupt my morning classes.” Alice’s gasp told Belle that her friends realized where this was going.

“She asked me ze normal questions, and zen asked me about my cycle. Ze second I figured out what she was talking about, I started trying to think back to ze night. Could I really ‘ave been zat stupid? I just assumed Christophe was taking ze potion. I mean, ze side affects of ze male form of protection are so much less zen those of ze woman’s. So naturally I assumed ‘e’d also realized this and was already using ‘is protection.”

Belle got caught for a moment on the thought of the infirmier’s face. The older woman’s eyes had filled with empathy when Belle told her that she hadn’t been using protection.

“Christophe ‘adn’t asked if I was protected, so I assumed ‘e was. But ‘e must’ve assumed ze same. Ze infirmier took a blood sample and mixed it with some potion. After a few minutes, she came back and told me zat I was pregnant.”

Belle felt Alice’s own tears against her shoulder and glanced up.

“You shouldn’t have had to go through that alone. Why didn’t you have anyone with you?” Alice whispered. For the first time, Belle’s smile was genuine. Her friend was more worried about why she was alone in the infirmary than why she was stupid enough to get pregnant on the first time she was ever with a man.

But that small moment of happiness dissipated as she forced her mind to stay where it was, to stay in what was just the start to the worst three days of her life. She glanced over at Lily, and something about the way her friend’s impossibly green eyes were strained from holding in tears, the way there was a shadow similar to her own over them, made Belle think that the redhead already knew what was coming next.

She continued, temporarily ignoring Alice’s question. The answer to it would come out very soon, anyway. “I told Christophe right away, and ‘e didn’t say anything at first. Just zat ‘e needed time to zink. I understood zat and was careful to avoid ‘im for ze rest of ze day. Zen ze next morning I ‘ad planned to talk with ‘im. I left my room ready to deal with whatever Christophe would say, but not even a minute after entering ze dining chambers, I was received by ze worst looks, ze meanest insults, I’d ever imagined.

"Ze friends I thought I’d made at Beauxbatons were now nothing but cruel voices. I learned through one of zem zat Christophe ‘ad told ze whole school I’d been cheating on ‘im and got pregnant, and now was trying to pass it off as ‘is. Zis was almost ze worst part of it all. Learning zat these girls I’d spend six years with, this boy I cared a great deal about, ‘ad all turned against me. It was like a terrible joke, except it wasn’t. I felt like I ‘ad no one.”

It was overwhelming her. The memory was sucking away the strength she’d tried so hard to surround herself in. She squeezed the hands holding hers even tighter, and forced herself to press on.

“Christophe must’ve contacted ‘is parents immediately, because zey contacted mine and I was called ‘ome ze next day.”

Her heart sped up as she envisioned herself walking through the doors of the Leclair mansion, the sight of her mother and father sitting calmly, backs straight, on the pure white sofa. She’d thought that maybe there she’d find some solace. Maybe there she could break down and tell them that she’d been such an idiot, that no one would even look her in the eye anymore.

“They sat me down, and I knew zey were angry. But zey were still my parents. They told me ‘ow irresponsible and stupid I’d been, something again zat I already knew. Zen zey went on about ‘ow our family would not suffer because of my mistake. Ze wizarding community respects them, looks up to them, and zey told me zat I would not destroy zat. Would not demolish their place in society.

“My mother told me zat even though I made ze mistake of an adult, zey would handle it for me. At zat point I assumed zey were going to tell me zey would get a tutor so I could remain ‘ome for the rest of it. I understood zat I’d made a mistake, but it didn’t ‘ave to be ze end of ze world. I was only seventeen, but plenty of girls ‘ad children right after Beauxbatons and zey were only eighteen. It wasn’t like we didn’t ‘ave ze money, and I would still make something of myself. I’d thought about it all night and day, and knew zat I could ‘andle it. I’ve always been able to ‘andle anything. Even after I learned what Christophe ‘ad done, I simply took ‘im out of the equation. I could do it without ‘im. And besides, look at what I would gain from it.

“I would ‘ave zis baby, a part of me zat needed me to care for it, zat needed me to love it. And for some reason, I really wanted zat. I wanted to love something, to ‘ave something zat saw me as anything other than Isabelle Leclair, the youngest beauty of the Leclair family. I realized zat I wanted ze zing everyone was calling a mistake, and I knew I could show it all ze love zat my parents ‘ad always been too proper and cold to show me.”

Belle felt the memory of the bond she’d created in such a short time break into her heart. She’d been naive by thinking that she could easily handle a child, but she would have managed. She would have loved the child more than anything, given it the soft kisses and warm embraces she’d always craved.

“Yes, I ‘ad thought about it and I was ready for it. When I started to tell them, my parents, ‘ow sorry I was, ‘ow I knew I ‘adn’t been wise but zat I was going to grow up and would make this ze best zing zat ever happened to me, zey forced me to stop. My mother… she’s always been distant, but zat was just ‘ow she was. I never realized ‘ow much ‘er reputation meant to ‘er until zat day.

"She said ze only thing zat was going to happen, was she would make an appointment to ‘ave my mistake rectified. I would go back to school in a week and act like nothing ‘ad ever ‘appened. If someone tried to say something about it, I was to simply deny it all and say I’d been ill. Mother told me zat she already spoke with the Brelands, Christophe’s family, and zey told ‘er that Christophe denied ever sleeping with me. Zat ‘e’d been trying to break up with me for months, and ‘e wouldn’t be dragged into zis.”

Belle felt her hands shake with such anger that if it wasn’t for the friend’s beside her holding them, keeping her together, she was sure she’d hit something. It was as if she was still listening to her mother, listening to the icy voice tell her that she would see a Healer and get the problem dealt with and that would be that. The looks of disgust in both sets of her parents’ perfectly blue eyes, sympathy the farthest thing that could be found despite the fact that their youngest daughter was struggling not to break apart in front of them.

“Zat is when everything snapped. We fought, and my parents made it clear zat ze only way I could remain a member of ze Leclair family, was to do as I was told. She informed me zat if I refused to, I needed to leave immediately because zey would not live with ze shame of an unmarred daughter giving birth to a bastard child. Zey said zey raised me better than zat, and zey wouldn’t let society think otherwise just because I’d been stupid enough to get knocked up.

“So I did just zat. I packed some of my clothes, and I left. I went to my sister’s first and told ‘er everything and she said I could stay as long as I needed, but mother wasn’t to know.”

Belle was too far back into her mind to let go now. She no longer felt like she was telling a story, recounting a terrible event, but like she was handling it all over again. Reliving it with the same intensity that she’d been forced to face the first time. Everything was still so real… the way she’d slipped into her sister’s house, the luke warm embrace she’d gotten. Her sister didn’t approve, that had been clear, but she wouldn’t turn Belle away.

Her mind and heart had been so exhausted when she stumbled to the large, carefully made bed in her sister’s guest room. So much of her was shattered, wounded, but she didn’t regret her decision. She wouldn’t trade this small thing growing inside her for the comforts of her family. If they would only take her without it, then they couldn’t have her at all. If they would turn their daughter away in the most desperate hour of her life, she would turn her back on them as well.

Belle hadn’t been able to fall asleep that night, her eyes still raw from the tears she’d never stopped shedding. But she’d been able to think past all that, and she’d started to work out a plan, to plot where she’d go next. She had enough money in her vault to live comfortably off for at least a year while she figured things out, so that was a start. Her parents had already given her pieces of her inheritance during every passing year, and that could only be touched by her. So what if those people didn’t want her? She’d make her own way, give the baby inside her somewhere to belong. It was that thought, that tiny thread of warmth, that finally lulled her to sleep.

And that very idea was still at the forefront of her mind when she’d been jerked awake later that night. A pain had twisted up her stomach and forced her back into consciousness. She lit her wand and tried to stand when she noticed red splotches tainting the white sheets. A raw sense of panic sunk into her as she realized what was happening, her mind trying to block it out as she called for her sister.

Everything from that point was a mess of confusion. Her sister insisting on rushing her to a Healer at the After Hours…. The words of the kind woman in pink robes that told her she’d miscarried the baby…. The emptiness that gathered inside her when she thought about everything she’d just done, everything that had happened in the last two days… It was all just an emotional disaster that she could barely handle dwelling on. But when she did remember, what hurt more than anything was the knowledge that she’d let the baby she already decided to love, that she’d fought for, disappear right in front of her.

“After zat, my sister brought me back to ‘er ‘ome and gave me something to ‘elp me sleep. While I was sleeping, she went to see my parents. My mother came back with ‘er. Zat.. zat woman stood there and looked at me on ze bed. Saw ze marks from days of crying, ze sickly pale of my skin,.. and she told me to be thankful. She told me now zat I was rid of ze shame, I was welcome to come back ‘ome. Zen she apparated away. I ‘aven’t spoken to ‘er since.”

Zere, Belle thought with a sigh. The worst of it was over.

“Belle,” Alice began, her voice drowning with emotion. “What she said, what happened to you-”

“No, let me finish.” She was so close. It was time to end it. “Ze next day I went to ze bank, collected all ze money I ‘ad, and sat in a cafe in a middle-class wizarding village zat no one I knew would step foot in. I was still sick looking. I ‘ad forced myself to shower but ‘adn’t stopped crying. I covered my face with a large ‘ood and tried to blend into ze woodwork as much as possible. But as terrible as I felt, I knew I needed to get out of there, far away and as soon as possible. Before I became weak and changed my mind. Before I crawled back to them and became one of those people again. The Isabelle Leclair I’d been raised to be was dead, and I knew if I wanted it to stay zat way I needed to disappear. Start over.

“I wrote a letter addressed to ze ‘eadmaster of ‘Ogwarts requesting a meeting right away, and received a response only ‘ours later approving my meeting and instructing me on ‘ow I would be able to get to ‘Ogsmeade, and through there, ‘Ogwarts. Ze second I finished reading ze letter, I went to ze Deparment of Magical Travel and paid enough to be granted a Portkey to Scotland for later zat day.

“While I walked along ze path zat led to ze school, I remember zinking how ‘Ogwarts wasn’t like Beauxbatons. It wasn’t a grand palace zat screamed elegance. It was a fortress. A ‘uge, stone fortress… and I knew it was perfect. I was escorted by ‘Agrid through ze castle and to ze ‘eadmaster. I told Professor Dumbledore everything, and I begged ‘im for a spot in ‘is school. I offered ‘im all ze money I ‘ad. He denied ze money, but told me I was in luck because ze year I would be apart of was a small one, and zere was room for me. ‘E set up an entrance exam for me zat I took ze following day, and zat was zat.”

Belle opened her eyes again and glanced from Alice’s face to Lily’s. Her nerves were finally calming down for the first time that evening.

Lily wiped her own tears away, one arm nestled over Belle and the other cradling the kitten. “None of it was right Belle. None of how they treated you, what they tried to make you do… and God. This whole time you’ve been living with it… dealing it with it all yourself because of how those people at Beauxbatons treated you, that disgusting excuse of a man, your parents… no wonder you didn’t want to tell us,” Lily whispered.

“I knew you guys wouldn’t be like zem. I know ‘ow different you are, but I still zought zat maybe it would make you zink differently of me.”

“I do think differently of you,” Alice whispered. “I think you’re so much stronger than we ever realized. That getting through all of it on your own, then having the courage to come here, to make friends with us-”

“I didn’t exactly ‘ave a choice on zat matter,” Belle said with a small laugh at the memory of the two girls bombarding her at breakfast and insisting she hang out with them for the day to get aquatinted with Hogwarts.

“But you did, you had a choice on everything,” Lily said in a much more serious tone than Belle’s. “You had a choice to take what your parents offered… so many girls probably would have. You had a choice to let what happened, to let… to let losing the baby destroy you and go back home, be what they told you to… you didn’t do any of that. Just like you didn’t tell us to sod off when we told you we’d show you around. Belle…”

“We love you,” Alice whispered, pulling her into a hug. “We’re always going to be here for you.”

“Now I feel like an idiot for not telling you both sooner. I just didn’t know ‘ow to, or ‘ow you’d react. But I feel so lucky to ‘ave you both. Sometimes-” she stopped herself as her mind realized what she’d been about to say.

“Sometimes what?” Alice prompted.

Belle sighed. She’d told them everything else… why stop now. “Sometimes I feel like I’m terrible, ze worst person ever.. because I lost a baby, I lost some’zing I’d decided I’d love so much…. but I’m ‘appy now. ‘Aving you two, and all ze boys, it’s like I’m somewhere I belong. I found people zat I belong with.. but zen I remember why I’m ‘ere, and I know I am ze worst person because I can be happy about ze fact zat I’m with you all, and zat baby never ‘ad a chance.”

Belle felt the salty water slip over her sharp cheeks. The tears now were different, so much newer than the ones she’d shed because of the memories.

“You can’t think like that, sweetie,” Lily whispered as Alice pulled her back into her arms. “You didn’t mean for the baby to miscarry. You would have done anything you could to stop it.”

“I zink about zat, and I know zat I can’t stop what ‘appened. It’s just ‘ard sometimes to feel like I can be ‘appy, when maybe I don’t deserve it.”

“You deserve it more than anyone I know,” Lily said in a stronger tone. “You deserve to have us, friends that love you more than anything, and you deserve to let yourself be really happy again. Be with someone who makes you really happy.”

“Well, you two make me really ‘appy,” she answered, though it was a joke, her own attempt to avoid where this conversation was going, she still meant it.

“Well of course, we’re bundles of sunshine,” Lily joked.

“But,” Alice interjected. Belle realized she was being ganged up on. “If this is what’s stopping you from being with Sirius, from letting yourself care about him as much as he obviously cares about you, maybe you should at least tell him that.”

“But ‘e won’t understand ze way you two do.” Belle said firmly, knowing that even if he didn’t react like the others at Beauxbatons had, he still may not take it well.

“We’re not going to try and push you into anything,” Lily assured her. “But Sirius is one of the most understanding people I’ve ever met. Look what he comes from, Belle. You don’t think he’s been judged all his life for his last name? He wouldn’t dare judge someone else for things they’ve done. I just don’t want you to be too scared and miss out on being with someone who really does care so much about you.”

Belle thought back to yesterday evening. To the feeling of Sirius’s hand touching hers as he flipped the page… the way that he’d smiled when he talked about the Potters, how easy it was to see the love he felt for that family. She understood Sirius was different from people she’d known, but was he different enough to accept it all?

“You’re as bad as she is,” Alice said, glancing at Lily with a raised eyebrow. Belle’s red tinted lips curved into a smile, knowing how correct Alice’s words were.

Lily opened her mouth, probably to argue with Alice, but at just that moment Butterscotch let out long, comical sort of yawn. Lily glanced down at the kitten, her cheeks growing red, and leaned back into the couch without saying whatever she had been about to.

“We make quite ze group, you know zat? We'd better get to ze library before ze boys come looking for us.” Belle finally said, glancing around at her friend. Despite all the pain that reliving what happened had caused, it was worth it. Because now she knew without a doubt that no matter what, she'd always have Lily and Alice to stand beside her.

AN:
First of all, I apologize for not getting this posted last week. I was on a vacation for my birthday. But, I hope the wait was worth . I owe a million thanks to my amazing beta reader, CambAngst. This chapter ended up being very difficult to write and he helped me so much with making sure I got everything I wanted in.

So, Belle and Alrek's stories are finally out.... to us at least. What did you guys think? Thank you so much for reading!

*Infirmier is French for nurse, at least according to Google translation. And The Côte d'Azur is, of course, The French Riviera.

**Update** Hey guys, I just wanted to let you know that I've gone through and edited Belle's accent a bit. The original version where I stuck to replacing *every* th with z was just too much. The simpler ones, like the, some of 'that' a 'them'... are still replaced with Z, and I'm sure their are inconsistencies with what I did and didn't replace. But the heavy accent was taking away from the importance of her story. Just assume that she's adjusting to the language and losing her accent a bit, ya? ;).


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