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T.O.R.N. by KayoChan

Format: Novel
Chapters: 3
Word Count: 8,236
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Mild Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Horror/Dark, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Snape, Tonks, Andromeda, Voldemort, Draco, Fred, George, Oliver, OC
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 05/29/2011
Last Chapter: 10/02/2011
Last Updated: 10/02/2011

Summary:




"It's standardized dress for Death Eaters.  I think it's to scare people away.  Make us seem less human."

Oliver Wood had no idea what he was getting himself into, and he couldn't care less.

OW/OC
 

Credit for the banner goes to Deianeira@TDA


Chapter 1: Of The Nastiest Circumstances
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Prologue


“The family is out of favor. The family is out of favor. The family...promise me you’ll restore the Black family. Promise me, Belladonna.”


It was uncomfortable, the mark on her forearm. She twisted and writhed in the sweaty sheets, but each turn that was made forced an more pained chill than the last. It was late; nearly midnight, and Belladonna was exhausted; a cruel punishment for her terrifying mistakes. After moments of realizing that sleep would not be coming tonight, the girl sat up and focused her glaring eyes at the door of her room. There was a thin slice of light peeking into the darkness beneath her door, and the mere notice of it had Belladonna more on edge every second. She abandoned her bed and found herself lurching toward the curtains of a large window.

A hazard sigh escaped her lips. Her long, pale fingers grasped the curtains heavy fabric in an almost injured hold and she thrust them back to reveal the fullness of the moon. Her next sigh came shortly after, this time sounding needy and helpless. She leaned as close as possible to the glass and studied what little she could see in the remote darkness.

The moonlight slanted over her face and cast a sickly tone to her overly pale complexion. She looked evil; dreadful, in fact, and yet devastatingly blissful. A thin smile slowly spread itself over her face; haunting eyes sliding shut; fingers waning closed in a horrifying grasp around the curtain. She was lost in herself – lost in the realization of what she was – and found it rejuvenating.

Slowly, she released her grip from the dark fabric and reinstated it around her arm, just atop the mark she had been branded with only months before. She would prove that the Black family still had favor; after all, her aunts did. She would not let her filthy blood traitor mother ruin her chances as a Death Eater. Another sickly smile curled her lips upward, and her eyelids finally slipped over her dark orbs, recalling the somewhat recent words her aunt had whispered to her.

“...once you are mad, you stay as such. You can’t redress your sanity. Once you are out of favor, you will always be out of favor. Just like your filthy mother,” the voice turned crueler and crueler, now exhibiting a nasty display that chilled Belladonna to the bone, “Do not fall out of favor, girl. Don’t be stupid like my sister.”

 


Chapter One
| Of The Nastiest Circumstances...



Harry Potter’s face stared at me. The paper in which it was branded was old and yellowing, torn at the edges from constant handling. I set my hard eyes upon his, and was unsurprised to see the blankness that radiated from him. It had been taken just after Dumbledore’s death – only a few months after, actually – and it was blatantly obvious that Harry was undergoing a sorrow that was not easily quenched.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to think of it, and focused on the background of the image to distract me. The courtyard of Hogwart’s played out behind him. Looming arches could just be detected in the corner of the right side, but other than that, no sign of the glory and might of the school was seen. There was hardly anyone I recognized around him, either. Hermione Granger wasn’t in sight, which had at first surprised me. Even his best mate Ronald Weasley was not there. The only face that looked a bit familiar was the round faced boy named Neville Longbottom, and I didn’t linger on his person for long.

I had a horrible feeling that the pain in Harry’s eyes would remain there for a long time still, and finally couldn’t bare looking at him any longer. With a flurry of anxiety, I shoved the old newspaper back into the drawer of my desk, where it would stay for weeks before being searched for again.

 





“You have no idea what you’re getting into, do you?” Narcissa Malfoy whispered. Her voice was near silent, and had an undertone of utter terror and disgust. Her bright eyes were staring at me, and I didn’t bother shifting under her gaze. It would be pointless, and I was not going to risk my ‘noble’ title by squirming like a child. I was a Black, not a filthy Malfoy.

Speaking of said family, they were all assembled around me, but Narcissa was the only one who looked at all concerned for my safety, which I found completely confounding. My cousin was gazing from the door – the dreaded door, which was, at this very moment, housing the very embodiment of our fear – to me, face twisted in a seemingly indifferent expression that was under laced with horror.

My voice was cold, as always, and confident. I twirled my wand around my fingers and curled my lip into a nasty snarl, “Do not suppose, for one second, that you have an inkling of what’s really going on here, Narcissa,” I spat, face contorting even more with each word, “The Malfoy family is just as tainted as the Black, if not more. There are certainly just as many traitors.”

The blonde woman didn’t seem to like that at all. Her eyes darkened with fury and she raised a hand that I was all too aware of. But, to my hidden relief, her husband cut her off.

“He is waiting.”

Lucius didn’t need to elaborate. Immediately, each of us straightened, similar thoughts and hopes passing through each of our minds. I tore my gaze from my aunt’s face and studied the large door on the other side of the room. He was behind it, with the others, and we had already wasted enough time in our little spat to make his tempter flare. It would be wise not to linger.

I was the first to make a move, and sauntered over to the doors. Before I pulled them open, I gazed behind me and smirked, paying close attention to the annoyed way Narcissa’s mouth formed a repulsed scowl. I slipped into the room without another glance and immediately everything went silent. I felt eyes on me, and I returned each look with my own, before resting my eyes briefly upon the cloaked figure at the head of the table. Just as quickly as I had searched for him, I backed away, head bowed respectfully as I addressed him.

“My Lord...” I murmured, voice soft with reverence, “Please allow me to apologize for keeping you.”

He did not respond, and I found it acceptable to glide from my bow over to the nearest chair in which he gestured.

“I see my niece has finally decided to grace us with her presence,” Bellatrix said, and her eyes narrowed dangerously in my direction, “I suppose we’re not as important as those outside?”

At the moment, the Malfoys came through the door, and I barely shed them a look before dryly responding, “...Hardly.”

I was not surprised to find that my sarcasm was ill taken. No one even cracked a smile, and I supposed I should keep quiet until absolutely needed. The Malfoys too uttered no sound. As fast as possible they took their seats, a ways down from the head of the table – and myself, as I was only about five seats from the Dark Lord. The blatant noise of their chairs scraping the mahogany floors nearly made me flinch.

I cast Draco a glance, for I appreciated him a bit more than his parents, and he returned it with an appraised look. I had to remind myself that he was nearly five years my junior and I shouldn’t let him phase me, regardless of the stupid pride he seemed to immerse himself in. I was simply confounded he was still able to carry himself so highly when he was so wounded. The mission that he had failed to do was certainly costing his family. They were already falling out of favor; any more mishaps and they’d be forever shunned.

I was so entangled in my inner ponders that I nearly missed the words that the Dark Lord spoke. I caught on just when he mentioned my name, and in no time flat realized exactly what he was speaking of.

“Yes, my Lord,” I venerated, responding silkily to his question, “I had everything planned so far. Since the Ministry has been infiltrated, things will begin to go much smoother.”

I watched in apprehension as his fingertips formed a web of long digits. He rested his pale chin upon them and didn’t lift his gaze from me as he said, “I certainly hope so. I trust, Belladonna, that you will not make any...mistakes.”

I felt a sickening quench in my stomach, and stoically inclined my head. He was referring to the Black family’s few rebels, Sirius and Regulus Black, my uncles. But I was not like them, not on the surface at least. I had a job to do; I couldn’t be completely like them right now. I was so busy worrying about my plan failing that I missed the smirks that flashed over my aunt Narcissa and her husband’s face.

That voice spoke again, and all our eyes were cast upon his dreaded features. I listened closely, but found him words suddenly boring. He was speaking now to one of the lower Death Eaters – one who helped at the Ministry. I entertained myself with studying the faces of various others sitting across from me at the long, blackened table.

There were shadows on most everyone’s faces. Eyes were cast downward in humility, seemingly venerating the presence of the Dark Lord. A sense of horror radiated from each, save perhaps the callous figure of my aunt, who was seated a few chairs down from her master and looking quite exhilarated as she listened with rapt attention. There was nothing that could be compared to the disgusted lurch that quelled my lower body at the sight, but I smartly choose not to linger. As a rule, Bellatrix Lestrange didn’t much like me, or any of the Blacks for that matter, and so I usually kept to myself when around her.

The only person that I felt any gratitude for was a certain old professor that sat at the Dark Lord’s right hand side. His face was worn – wrinkled, even – from constant worry and anxiety. He was, at the moment, staring at his pale, clasped hands. They rested on the hard wood surface, and he didn’t rise to meet my gaze, though I knew he felt it upon him. To say that my old Potions professor looked good was a downright lie. I mean, to me, he always looked healthy, in a Slytherin type of way. But then again, that was years back – four, in fact – and the years had not done him well at all. He looked older than he should have, and that worried me a little.

I didn’t keep my eyes on his features for more than a few seconds. Training them to the table, in the same fashion as every one else, I tightly clutched my hands together beneath the wood and listened carefully to the words being spoken.

“...Already took over the main part. We’re working on outing the Mudblood extension sections though. Figured they shouldn’t be needed any longer...”

He was speaking of the ‘improved’ Ministry, I surmised, and decided I needed to pay more attention. For some reason, my mind kept getting lost within itself tonight...

Yaxley spoke up then, explaining what the lower follower could not. His scratchy voice accounted the events going on in the Ministry, and how he placed an Imperius curse upon Pius Thicknesse and was apparently working on Thicknesse’s rise to Minister of Magic. There was a collective inhale of breath at that point, for it was indeed a prideful task, and many eyes flew to the Dark Lord’s figure to see his reaction.

But he merely sat there, hands still clasped in a tight, frozen spell as he gazed languidly toward Yaxley. He was not disappointed, I deduced, otherwise he would have created a one-sided brawl that would have left poor Yaxley cowering in his seat.

“Are you...are you displeased, my Lord...?” came Yaxley’s suddenly tamed, almost dismayed voice, and I found myself wishing he’d speak like that more often, for it was much less disturbing.

Voldemort finally let his grasp loosen, and his fingers lightly hit the table’s surface. He surprised us all by standing up, in a sweep of pitch black robes, and floating past the line of his loyal Death Eaters until he appeared directly behind Yaxley. I was glad that Yaxley was sitting on the other side of the table from me.

“No...I am not angry at you, Yaxley,” came his terrifying, misty voice, and I watched with hidden dread as spindly, pale fingers wrapped themselves around his servant’s shoulders, “You ought to understand that anything done in the good of my name will be praised.”

He was watching me, now, and I didn’t like it one bit. Surely I hadn’t done anything to corrupt my image lately? I mean, there were a few incidents a while back, but those were long forgotten, weren’t they? He must have just been warning me. After all, he had given me a daunting task, and if I messed it up, there would be hell – and maybe even death, God forbid – to pay. Not like I wasn’t used to hell anyway. It practically ruled my life, what with me being a Death Eater and all.

I slowly inclined my head toward my Master. Once again, I missed the smirks that flashed momentarily across each of the Malfoy’s faces.


 


Chapter 2: A Silly, Silly Mistake
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Chapter Two | A Silly, Silly Mistake

"Bloody git, he is, honestly," I blabbered, throwing random cuss words here and there to exonerate my speech. For it was, after all, a highly important one that needed to be said aloud. I had decided long ago that everything I said was important and should be treated as such. Unfortunately for me, the man whose company I was currently in did not, under any pretense, look interested in what I had to say about the stupid, stupid goat of a man, Lucius Malfoy. I had a feeling it was because Severus already knew exactly what Malfoy was like and therefore didn't need to be told. But when I needed to talk, I couldn't be stopped, and so my old professor merely picked up the pace and didn't try to stop me.

He was supposed to be the one doing the talking, briefing me on what I should inform the Order and how I should say it, but as it so happened, I already knew exactly what my purpose was this evening. Severus Snape, genius as he was, could do nothing but allow my irregular speech patterns. Irregular, because I hardly ever talked in front of others in such a free manner. I trusted Snape with my life, and so, I supposed, that fact allowed some breathing room between us that was not there in any other's company.

It did not take long to reach the street in which the Order was currently residing. We had stopped using the Noble House of the Blacks – I inwardly scoffed at the ridiculous, un-perpetual title – and now traded our meetings between various member's houses instead. It mattered not, though, because we hardly had meetings anymore due to the influx of events going on. Everyone was doing what they could to stay alive and the meetings were unnecessary unless in dire consequences. Tonight was not, in any way, a dire consequence. We did like to have meetings once in a while, just to make sure we were all accounted for.

I was just about to take a step into the road when Severus' hand gripped my upper arm and dragged me back into the shadows.

I glowered up at him and tore my arm back as he scolded me, "You can't just go walking around like that, Belladonna. Be more careful."

My responding growl was equal to his, "No, you can't go walking around like that. Might I remind you that I'm still welcome at the Order, Severus?"

His upper lip curled distastefully at the sound of his first name, uttered so callously and intimately from my lips, and he released his grip on my arm, "What did I tell you about calling me that? It's Professor Snape, Black."

I merely smirked and shrugged, feeling free from him as I replied, "Oh, back to last names, I see. Fine, I'll call you Snape, but don't expect anything more. You are not my Professor, thank God."

He scowled at me and turned his back to my figure. While he was facing the other direction, he muttered two things. One was, in my opinion, a very well thought out curse word that I immediately added to my mental list. The other remained much more important.

"Spinner's End. Tell me everything you learn after the meeting," and with an unexpected, but no less startling pop, Severus Snape was gone.

I merely rolled my eyes and murmured, "Such a dramatic old fool...honestly..." before continuing on my way toward the mussy little shack that the Weasley family shared.

 

 

 

 






It didn't take very long to reach the protective enchantments circling the home. Before I had even reached the threshold, about a dozen wands were pointed at me and determined, yet somewhat relieved, faces were gazing at my figure.

A familiar voice I had not heard in months spoke up, and I smirked at the sound of my closest living relative, "Where were you and what were you doing during the night of my tenth birthday party?"

I heaved a sigh and muttered, "Honestly, Nymphadora, you had to choose the most outlandish question, didn't you?"

I wasn't looking for a response to that, but I got one anyway as wands were uplifted silently. I rolled my eyes, "Fine, fine. For God's sake, I swear you're trying to ruin me... On the night of your tenth birthday party, I, Belladonna Lilith Black was – indiscreetly, I might add – attempting a mass prank involving swarms of little beetles and your mattress, dearest sister. And might I go on to say that it did not work because you decided to be a silly prick and go tell on me. I still hold a grudge against you, by the way. Cake was good, though, perhaps the only redeeming feature. Really, Nymphadora, you don't know how to throw a party at all-"

My lengthy speech was cut off by two arms lurching around my waist and my half sister's relaxing laugh drifting into my ear, "Oh shut up, you – I was bloody ten years old, you prat. And don't call me Nymphadora," I supposed she added that for good measure. I never listened to her anyway.

"And what a warm welcome I get," came my drawling reply, but nonetheless allowed my arms to wrap around her and return the affection. It was probably the only form of it I got, save the love from my mother and step father. I allowed my sister to drag me inside the cosy house and greeted the other members as they meandered in after us.

To Remus Lupin I sent an especially fair smile, solely because he was the husband of my beloved sister and was quite deserving of such a title. He nodded to me and stood beside his new wife, who was now gazing at my pale face with a slightly worried expression.

"Oh, dear! Belladonna, darling, sit down, please!" came the overly warm voice of Molly as she rushed into the room. She scurried to conjure up another chair – there were already a good dozen thrown haphazardly about an elongated table – and all but pushed me down into it before running into another room and disappearing from my view.

I shook my head, "Bloody crazy woman, she is, but God I love her..."

"Talking to yourself again, Donna?" came a pair of matching voices I wished not to hear at the moment. I rolled my eyes and crossed my arms, putting on my best scowl that could rival that of Salazar Slytherin himself.

"Really, darling," one said, mimicking his mother's higher tone as he placed himself in the seat beside mine, "It's a sign of insanity, but I'm sure you already know that."

I did, in fact, know that quite well, but chose to remain silent about the matter. I'd seen my share of Cruciatus victims to understand such a word. Sometimes, I even felt as though I was going insane myself.

"Fred, George, you two shouldn't be down here," Arthur's voice spoke up, and I opened my eyes just in time to see a hot bowl of soup being lowered before me. I smirked – one that nearly turned into a smile had I not stopped it – and thanked Molly before digging in. I simply adored her for her unbeaten hospitality. She truly had the kindest heart I knew. I had to admit, as well, that such a thing was especially hard to come by in my line of work.

"Bella?" came my sister's voice, and I glanced up at her during the same moment I bit into a piece of bread.

"...Wha?" I asked, sounding a bit groggy, and chuckles emitted from the ever cheerful twins as they vacated their seats and moved into another room.

"Are you...alright?" I noticed that she was wringing her hands. It was a sign of uneasiness, I knew, and understood exactly what would bring about such a question. I knew I didn't look very good; it had been four years since I attained my Dark Mark – since I became a full fledged Death Eater – and I looked nothing like the smarmy, arrogant, and vainly pretty young woman from my seventh year at Hogwarts. My curly, once luxurious black hair had lost its bounce and shine; my eyes, their previous spark; my skin, its former softness. I was gaunt, and I was pale, and I was anything but beautiful. The only thing I didn't understand was why she was asking me this now, of all times. It was hardly important, and my appearance had been like this for years now. It had probably shaved off a good few years of my future, not like I had much to live for anyway.

I swallowed the bite of bread and stared at her, unreadable expression latching itself into my eyes as I recalled exactly why I had become such a hollow shell. My motives were silly, really. They all centered around making the Black family proud, and serving the Dark Lord like my father and aunts. My mother and her stupid side family didn't make any difference, of course – they had only fueled my desire to prove myself to the Dark side. I hoped to capture the fear of every human, Wizard and Mudblood alike, and I knew that could only happen with the Dark Lord's assistance. I remembered feeling so free, so exhilarated, after I had received my Mark. My father would have been proud, I had been told. I immediately left my house and went to live with my Aunt Narcissa, who I believed understood me more than my filthy, blood traitor of a mother. I had wanted nothing to do with her or her rebounded family. They had made me sick.

It hadn't been until I had first faced the Dark Lord's wrath that I wanted out. I had done something terrible – defied the Master – and thrown the Black name into an even greater turmoil. I had been frightened and confused and all too young to understand why no one would save me from the curse that was so heavily thrown upon me. I hadn't known, at the time, that there would be more. More times I would mess up and earn another punishment – another wringing out. I supposed I had been a mess for years now, and either Nymphadora had only just realized due to the happiness she had encountered, or had seen all along but chose to remain silent.

I hadn't a clue what to say to her, so I allowed what I hoped was a plausible smirk to etch it's way across my face. My sister's eyes were the epitome of worry, probably from my silence.

"It's nothing I can't handle," I answered her confidently, and returned to my meal as though I hadn't eaten in weeks. But we both knew it wasn't an issue of whether or not I couldn't handle it, because I would be forced to either way. After all, once you got in...there was no getting out.

Suddenly, chairs were being moved and people were beginning to sit down in them. I concluded that it was time for the meeting, and politely pushed my makeshift dinner away from me as Shacklebolt began speaking.

"Now that we have all settled down," he nodded to me before continuing, "I think it would be wise to begin. I have a bit of information I'd like to share before I give the floor to Miss Black."

If there was one thing I liked about Kingsley Shacklebolt, it was his sense of propriety and honor. I sat back in the chair and listened closely as he spoke.

"As you all should have heard, the Ministry of Magic has indeed fallen into the hands of he-who-must-not-be-named. There has been an influx of Death Eater's into the Ministry and," he took a breath, "they are currently working on ways to overpower Muggles and half bloods. Anyone who isn't pure, it seems."

Kingsley went on to explain the rest of the events transpiring, for those who didn't hear about them, before turning to me and gesturing with his hand for me to speak.

I didn't move from my straight-backed position in the chair – I supposed I was too used to sitting in certain way before the Dark Lord – but no one seemed to noticed my discomfort. I glanced at each face before starting in a low, urgent voice, "Before I begin, I'd like to say that Shacklebolt is completely right. The Ministry is, in fact, under the influence of the Dark Lord. Pius Thicknesse – the new Minister of Magic – is currently under an Imperius curse, but they're planning on replacing him soon. All the talk about Mudbloods and –" I stopped here, at first not realizing why everyone was casting aggravated glances at me, and then realizing my mistake, "Er...sorry, Muggles and Half Bloods is true as well. I'm going to the Ministry tomorrow to get a few new leads on the location of Potter – though I doubt I'll find anything – so I'll have more to say on the matter during the next meeting."

My mention of the Boy who Lived seemed to be an avid topic here, not like I was surprised, and noticed a few glances thrown around the room at the sound of his name. I chose then to speak up, "...So...how is Harry, then? And Ron, of course, and Hermione...?"

I knew they were all together, as did Snape, though where they were and how they were faring were both questions I had no answer to.

There was a collective sigh around the room.

"We don't know, really," Arthur said, turning his saddened eyes to me, "Haven't seen them since Bill and Fleur's wedding. But I think they're alright, wherever they are. So long as they're together."

His words seemed to give everyone at the table a breath of fresh air. I found myself almost smiling, for heaven's sake, before I was once again reminded of the gravity of my life and shook the happy feeling. I wasn't supposed to feel happy; I wasn't supposed to feel anything but suffering for what I did to those I once loved – still love.

The conversation, after that, took a turn for the better. After everything involving the Dark Lord and such was spoken about, inquiries began sprouting up involving the health of each person's family and friends. It was nice to speak about things that for once were not at all centered around death and gore. I found myself nearly smiling more than once before the clock had struck midnight.

When it did strike the hour, though, I immediately sobered up and realized I had to leave. I wasn't the first to go – others had departed before me to put children to bed or go to sleep themselves. When they had left, however, the table hadn't turned completely silent.

I rolled my eyes at their drama and sighed, "Snape's waiting for me. I'm to meet up with him after the meeting and inform him of what's going on," I shrugged, and added safely, "Don't worry. I won't tell him anything critical."

My words seemed to put most everyone at ease and Molly rose from her seat to give me one last farewell hug, "Stay strong, dear. We're always here for you if something goes wrong."

I nodded, but did not answer her back, because I knew that if something were ever to go wrong, I wouldn't be coming here: I probably wouldn't get out alive at all...

I had just made it out the door and into the yard when a hand enclosed itself around my upper arm, for the second time that night. I decided I hated it when people tried to stop me from walking...

"Belladonna, be careful at his house," my sister's voice recommended. I glanced over my shoulder to see her standing behind me, eyes wide with worry. Remus was standing inside the house, by the door, and it struck me that he didn't trust me. But then I realized I wouldn't have trusted me either and I didn't feel as offended.

I focused my attention on Nymphadora's face and responded, "I've been doing this for three years, Dora. You don't need to tell me to be careful. I can look after myself."

She knew she wouldn't be getting anything more through my somewhat thick head and so instead of speaking, enveloped me in a sweet hug. I hugged her back, enjoying the last bit of warmth and hoping it would get me through the next few months.

"If you can, visit mum," Nymphadora suddenly murmured, pulling away to look at me, "She misses you."

I nodded slowly, a light, airy smile making it's way onto my face. It only ever smiled in my sister's presence. She had told me before that it made me look younger, more reminiscent of my school days, and I had laughed at her. But as I stood there, smiling at her, I felt younger, and happier, if only for a moment.

She smiled at me, as well, and hugged me again, this time more tightly, before pulling away. I moved my gaze from her to Remus, who was now watching me with a softer expression, as though I was more human in his eyes now that he had seen my smile.

Before walking out to where the protective enchantments wore off, I turned to my sister once more and murmured a soft, "Congratulations, by the way...on your wedding. Lupin's a right nice git, if you ask me."

And without waiting for her answer, I walked off without a backward glance.
 
 
 
 


Chapter 3: The Task that Should have been Daunting
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Chapter Three | The Task That Should Have Been Daunting

 

I really wasn't sure what had commanded me to wear such frivolous attire on such a chilly day. I supposed it was the superior ranking I carried on my shoulders. One thing I had to admit was that I looked damn right good. A black fur cloak was slung easily over my shoulders, clasped together with a pure silver broach at my neck. It was no surprise that the broach was in the shape of a snake and had green emeralds serving for eyes. I quite liked the jewelry, actually; it made me feel regal...like a true Slytherin. The cloak wasn't doing a very good job of hiding my other clothes, as it was thrown over my shoulder in such a manner. My silky black dress was a huge contrast to the thick material of the fur. The lace that trailed at the bottom of the cloth nipped around my knees in the most delicate of ways. The only thing that prevented it from actually touching my skin was the leather that made up my high boots, which traveled all the way up my shins and stopped only when they had reached the bottom of my knees.

I seemed the epitome of style today, and knew I had to look it. My dark eyes were focused solely on the door that I walked toward, narrowed and frozen and hardly showing any of the green I knew they possessed. The two Death Eaters that followed me kept a few steps behind, showing everyone that I was, in fact, more important than them. I recognized a few people on my way into the Ministry. I spotted Shacklebolt at the doors, and Arthur in the lobby, but thankfully there was no one else to make my entrance a distraction.

"Come," I spat, glancing with angered eyes at the two men following me, "We're wasting precious time."

I floated into the elevator and the other two scurried in after me, watching as I languidly took hold of one of the railings. Not two seconds after I did, a familiar lurch made itself present and the contraption skidded upward.

Only a minute later, and after a jolted stop that sent the two men ramming into me, we had reached our destination.

"Get off of me, you fools," I raged, dusting myself off. After picking the last non-existent piece of dust from my fur-clad shoulder and sending each man a malevolent glare, I lightly stepped from the compartment and began walking through a familiar hallway. I had been down this way before, many times. Before I could remember, my aunts had brought me here time and time again to show me the 'might and splendor of the wizarding world'. Of course, they had gone on to explain how much better it would be if Mudbloods weren't a part of it...

I didn't stop until I had reached the thick door that signaled the end of my companions journey. I glanced back at them, face contorting in a scowl, and ordered, "Stay here. I'll be out in a moment."

Long fingers clutching the edges of my fur cloak in a zealous grasp, I let myself into the room in which the new Minister would be sitting.

 




The sound of the reinforced door snapping shut indicated my presence to the others in the room. Eyes suddenly began sizing me up, voices stopped, and a big, burly man made his way toward me. I hardly had any time to look around before my hand was suddenly being captured and shaken so hard I thought it was going to fall off.

"Mr. Aldry, contain yourself," came a voice I immediately wished away. The elder Malfoy was standing a few feet away, sneer upon his face as he watched the ghastly display, "Surely you have met Miss Black before...?"

It was indeed true, though I hated to be reminded of it. Mr. Aldry was a man who had worked for the previous Minister. He was a secretary of sorts, and I'd had the unfortunate first meeting with him a few months before, when the Ministry was just beginning to fall. I don't think he realized just who I was...

I took my hand back and looked at him as though he were the plague. Lip curling distastefully, I managed to spit, "Mr. Aldry. I trust you have a good reason for interrupting my morning?"

His face had turned surprised – flummoxed, even – and he stammered out a halfhearted answer that I pointedly ignored. I continued to the desk in the center of the room and looked down at the figure of Pius Thicknesse, who occupied the plushy leather seat opposite me.

To him, I kindly gave my hand and he leaned forward to politely shake it. There was a dazed look in his eyes, and the effects of the Imperius curse were blatantly obvious to me. I realized that Malfoy was probably the one controlling him at the moment, and wondered why the Dark Lord had given him such an important task...

"It's very nice to meet you, Minister," I claimed, withdrawing my hand and clasping it once again around the edges of my fur cloak, "I trust you'll have a good stay here at the improved Ministry," at this, I let out a deadly smirk, pulling at the pools of Slytherin green in my eyes.

After sending Lucius a glance, which he returned, I bustled from the room as quickly as I had come and snapped my fingers at the lounging men who waited outside.

"You two truly are unnecessary. Hurry up, then, I have one more thing to do," and they clamored up behind me as I stepped into the elevator once again.

After dropping from such an unsightly high point, I felt as though my stomach would forever be lodged in my chest. When we at last stepped out from the compartment, I found myself standing in the Department of Mysteries, and it was really no wonder we had endured such a long fall.

Yaxley would be here somewhere, and so I began walking toward the only door I could currently see. That changed, of course, once I had reached a cross section, because then two more doors were detected. I had never been in this Department. Two or so years ago, Death Eaters had been gathered here to kill Harry Potter and Sirius Black, but unfortunately I was not trusted enough to go on said mission. It would have been nice to see my second cousin once more before he died...

"Black!"

That gravely voice could not have been mistaken. I turned party to see Yaxley himself walking toward me, alone. His robes fluttered out from behind him and in the darkness of the halls, made him look quite daunting. I had a feeling my uneasiness didn't come from his appearance, though, but rather from the parchment he was holding in his hands.

Once he was close enough, he shoved it into my hands and grumbled, "He wants you to meet them now, so you'd better leave."

For the life of me, I couldn't understand who I had to meet. After watching Yaxley wordlessly turn around and begin walking back toward the shut door, I also turned. It was easier going up this time, and while in the elevator, I had a distraction from the uneven jolts.

The two thugs behind me were speaking softly to each other about something I cared nothing for, so I quickly tore open the seal and unrolled the parchment. My heart leapt into my throat as I caught sight of the spidery handwriting. I wasted no time reading...and was irate by the time I had finished.

How dare he give me such an inconsequential task? With narrowed, furious eyes, I angrily jammed a finger into a button and about a minute later the compartment had, once again, stopped. The doors opened to a Department I had never been to, nor had I any intention of ever visiting in all my life: the Department of Magical Games and Sports.

 




I decided I hated Quidditch pitches. If there was a place any more miserable, I knew not. All I knew was that my expensive black leather stiletto heels were completely ruined. I wouldn't have minded so much if I had been alone. As it were, the two blokes from before were now gone...only to be replaced by Yaxley himself. His presence was really starting to get under my skin. Dolohov was the only other Death Eater, and had a similar job as I did – the same, in fact. We seemed both to be out of favor with the Dark Lord. I supposed Dolohov was being shorted because of his failure to capture the Golden Trio months prior.

Keeping up my appearances as, well, a Death Eater, I quickly formed the trademark scowl and sped up toward the edge of the pitch, eyes latched fiercely to the flying figures above. Stupid, ruddy Quidditch players...

The other man who walked beside us was the manager whom I met with yesterday. He was a shorter man who sort of reminded me of Arthur Weasley, with a short tuft of graying hair upon his balding head. He didn't seem very important, but I decided not to judge – which surprised me, even when I was secretly rooting for the good side – and exchanged a glance with Yaxley as we followed his stumbling figure nearer and nearer to the players. The stubby man was certainly trying to impress us...or at least not wet himself in his obvious horror.

"Oi! What's going on here?" came a voice from above. One of the disgusting players landed and eyed us. He had black hair, all shifted to one side in a windblown mess. His azure robes were shuffled around his body, which was sweaty and unkempt due to the practice they were currently undergoing. I watched with haughty eyes as his own slid over each of our figures, finally settling on his manager's.

"Ahem...er...well, this is...I mean to say that –" but apparently the manager really had no idea what he was going to say, so Yaxley kindly stepped in for him, unrolling the bit of parchment that had been stuffed into his signature black robes.

His voice, which sent shivers of disgust down my spine, did the work of explaining the situation well enough. Dolohov and I stood behind him a bit, listening and watching as the entire team gathered around.

"Settle down, children," Yaxley spat, brow ruffled in his ever angered mood, "This is a letter from the new Minister of Magic. We of the Ministry have been ordered to patrol each practice and game of every category of magical sport, and of every team. And Puddlemere United is not exempt from our full scale investigation," he ended, further mocking the team as he sneered out their title.

The black haired man from before seemed to have something to say about this mess. He narrowed his eyes, "What, pray tell, are you investigating?"

I smirked, lips drawing over my pale face in a sneer that would have made my dear old father proud, "That is private Ministry information. "

Dolohov smirked as well, putting a hand on my shoulder as though proud of my exaggerated show of importance.

I let my eyes linger on the black haired fiend – I was sure he thought the same about me in that moment – before turning away and sending a glare toward Yaxley.

"Don't you have matters you should be tending to...?" I questioned, voice rough with an annoyance that I most clearly felt in his presence.

He glowered at me and shoved the parchment into my arms, "Watch your tongue, Black. I could inform the Dark Lord of your bitterness, and where would you be then? Wallowing with the rest of your silly family..."

I let out a peal of laughter, though it did not reach my eyes, "I'd hardly be calling my family silly. We are a noble breed; a term you cannot even comprehend."

But my family was silly. So silly and shallow and not noble or well bred at all. My father had left me because, for God's sake, Voldemort was more important than his own family. My aunts were positively in love with said evil man. The only people I was at all proud of was my half sister and my mother...

I earned another dark glare before Yaxley disapparated in a whirl of black robes. Once he was gone, I turned my scowling face to Dolohov, "Well go on, then. You were assigned the Falmouth Falcons, lucky bastard. Say hello to Flint for me, hmm?"

With that, I pushed the ruddy piece of parchment into his hands and he turned and disapparated.

"Orders are orders, and all that," I said after he was gone, turning back to the grim faces of the Quidditch players, "I'll just sit over there," and jabbed a thumb to a secluded part of the bleachers. No one stopped me as I walked away.

 




I think the worst part of spending my day at a Quidditch pitch, muddy and nasty as it was, had to be the stares I kept receiving from the players. They were not stupid, for God's sake. They knew I was a Death Eater; they knew I was the bad guy; they knew they should stay away from me or else I could blast them to kingdom come. Not like it would or anything...I considered myself to be half a Death Eater. I definitely didn't have the state of mind to hex people for no reason...not now, anyway. Back when I was at school I would've...but it was different now.

"Erm...enjoying your stay, Miss Black?" the manager stuttered, edging closer to me but keeping his eyes firmly latched onto the practice game going on in the field. Actually, the players were just circling down, which meant practice was just ending, thank God.

Even with my rejuvenated sense of self, I scowled at him and ran a hand through my wildly curly locks, "No. I've other business I should be attending. Not waste my day at a ruddy Quidditch pitch..." I added a curse for good measure, and I think I got my point across to the poor manager.

He jumped a little and chuckled shakily, wringing his hands together in angst, "W-Well, will you b-be here tomorrow...?"

I narrowed my eyes at him and he let out a squeak of panic. A soft smirk played at my lips...I wondered what could possibly be so frightening about my character. Besides, of course, that I was a follower of the darkest wizard ever born.

"I'm afraid not," I answered, standing up and losing the smirk. I quickly dusted off my black robes and sent him a sideways glance, "Perhaps you'd like to introduce me to the team?"

His cheeks were now profusely colored red, and his eyes were shifting from me to the team and back to me again. I raised a brow flippantly and he managed to falter, "O-of c-c-course! Please f-follow me, M-Miss Black..."

He shuffled toward the pitch, hands working together faster than I'd ever seen, and stumbled to a halt before the black haired player. I figured he was probably the captain.

"Rey, Miss B-Black wanted to meet you a-all," the manager said quickly, and then turned to me to begin introducing us, "T-This is Davis Reynolds, Justin Fletcher, Peter Lowell, Oliver Wood, Sam Rockchester, Madeline Cowl, and Eugene Beckett. Everyone, this is Miss Black."

"Belladonna," I interrupted, trying my best to look bored whilst studying the faces of each person. The only appearance I had memorized was Reynolds, and that was because he seemed to have it in for me, "Figured we should be acquainted, at least, since I'll be here once a week for the next few months."

The manager spluttered. His eyes watered in shock and his face reddened again, "A...a few months...?"

My eyes narrowed, and I tightened the clasp of the silver broach holding my cloak together, "Unfortunately. Ministry business, and all that...though I think its because he's mad at me. Otherwise he'd make Malfoy do it. Rotten luck, really..."

I noticed the flinches on each of their faces, and took amusement in that. My trademark smirk was crawling up my face and I began walking around the group of players, eyeing each one maliciously and in complete contrast to the attitude I had just portrayed.

"You," I stopped before a blonde haired man. He was taller than me, but then again they all were, "You're Peter Lowell. Hufflepuff graduate, am I right? I think I remember you roaming the halls of Hogwarts back in the day..."

"Least he's not from Slytherin. Then he'd be a smarmy git just like you, right Black?"

I didn't react right away. I turned slowly until I locked eyes with the man who spoke. He had short brown hair that looked soft as anything and the prettiest brown eyes I'd ever seen. His comment didn't actually make me angry at all. In fact, I found myself completely drawn to the sound of his Scottish accent. I tilted my head curiously.

"Hmm...well, I suppose there's some truth to that. Slytherin house is known to be vainly narcissistic, isn't it?" I smirked to him and he scowled. I don't think he liked the fact that I blew off his insult. I stepped away from the group and shrugged, lips pulling down into a frown, "There's only been a few people who've ever gotten out of it alive..."

And with those mysterious words, I allowed myself one last smirk and disapparated. I had much to think about...and most of my thoughts revolved around a certain Scottish bloke.

 




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