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remixredux08

fic: Cruciatus (the fire and blood remix) [Harry Potter, Bellatrix Lestrange, PG-13]

Title: Cruciatus (the fire and blood remix)
Author: avendya
Summary: It ends, as it began, with the Cruciatus.
Fandom: Harry Potter
Character(s): Bellatrix Lestrange, Lucius Malfoy, Rodolphus Lestrange, Voldemort
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: JKR created Bellatrix and her world. I just play with them.
Original story: Descent by inksplotched
Notes: Many thanks to such_heights for the lightning-fast beta and just being yourself. I couldn't have done it without you. inksplotched, I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed Descent.

***

Cruciatus (the fire and blood remix)

i.
In Azkaban, she is alone with her memories.

Bellatrix Lestrange has never been one to dwell on the past. She didn’t regret anything – not even the choice that had brought her here. The Longbottoms had deserved all the pain they’d got, and more – they had defied the Dark Lord three times. Everyone who betrayed the Dark Lord would meet with the same fate – even his own followers.

(She'd always said that the Dark Lord should have never trusted Malfoy, and she had been right. He was sitting in his mansion with his beautiful wife - Cissy, Cissy, what happened to you? - while she rotted away in a cell. The Dark Lord did not forgive, and neither will she. They are traitors now (just like Andromeda) and they will be treated as such. She smiles grimly.)

She would be there when the Dark Lord returned – the only one loyal enough to trust in his return. She was trapped in this wretched place for now, but it would not be forever.

But now... right now all she had was the sound of the waves crashing against the shore and the occasional scream. She has no wand, no magic, and everything she did could bring Dementors sweeping down upon her. She is alone in a cell, and it is the middle of the night.

Except... perhaps she can do something, after all. If she could repel the Dementors... It would be nearly impossible, without a wand, but she was no stranger to doing the impossible. After the Cruciatus, how hard could the Patronus charm be?

(Oh, the Aurors thought that the Patronus was only for virtuous fools. Did they think that Dark creatures would not prey on their own?)

She casts around for a suitable memory, and smiles. That would do very nicely, indeed. She concentrates on her past, and says quietly, "Expecto Patronum."

She is thirteen, and she's followed Lestrange and Malfoy outside, hoping to learn something. They are her tutors, her mentors, far more than those sad professors. They know about darkness, and about power, and she hates them for it - for knowing more than she does, and not telling her. They will lose their advantage soon.

They say that no one can master it until they’re at least seventeen, but she knows that isn’t true. She knows the Cruciatus – she can feel the pain as if it is a part of herself. She will do this.

Rodolphus has brought a rabbit (too afraid to let her try it on him, and he is right to be afraid of her; she will be the best wizard the world has ever known). She points her wand at it, and lets the hatred fill her. "Crucio!" she yells, and waits.

She does not have to wait long. The rabbit squeals and twists in agony, and she cannot imagine anything better than this feeling. She is consumed with power – fire and blood and pain – and it is wonderful.

Malfoy is scared, just like Rodolphus. They’re telling her to stop, to let the rabbit go. They cannot do this yet, but she can. She has done it. They’re saying that the curse is dangerous (of course it’s dangerous, you fools, it’s an Unforgivable curse), that she must not use it lightly, that she must stop now.

She looks up at her erstwhile teacher, daring him to stop her. He doesn’t say anything, but she knows that he has many more secrets to share, and he will teach her more than the Cruciatus. She lets the anger drain out of her, and lets the spell go.

"Merlin and Circe, Lestrange," Lucius grumbles. "Why’d we teach her this spell if she’s just going to besmirch it with her reckless lack of restraint?" She does not respond, still in shock. She cast the Cruciatus. She really did it.

Rodolphus answers for her. "Are you joking, Malfoy? Thirteen years old, and already able to cast it? We’d be mad not to have taught her."

"He’ll want to hear about this." Rodolphus nods, and she glares at them both. How dare they keep secrets from her? She might be only thirteen, but she has felt power now and she will not be ignored.

"Who will want to hear about this? I want to know why you’re talking about." She will know. She must know.

"You will," he whispers roughly, putting his arm around her waist. "Oh, don’t you worry – "

His voice trails off. She can feel the Dementors around her, and the pull of the present, and she shivers. It is cold and dark, even when she opens her eyes, and now there are other voices -
- leaving this family, Bella – not a Black any longer -
- Never. Never. Never.
- The Potters -
- Defeated -
and then it all goes black.



ii.
When she comes to, it is still dark, and she has no idea how long she’s been unconscious. The Dementors have left her cell, but she can feel them, not too far away – close enough to come back any moment.

She had been so close – even with the number of Dementors around this place. Perhaps another memory would be strong enough. She swallowed hard, and concentrated. "Expecto Patronum," she says and lets the memory consume her.

"There’s nothing more we can teach you, Bellatrix. You’ve reached the limit of our knowledge." She’s almost seventeen now, almost an adult, and Rodolphus is her constant companion. She can hear the tension in his voice. Could it be time? She was ready now.

"I’m strong enough to use it now," Bellatrix says calmly. "On anyone."

Lucius, a few steps behind them, laughs. "You’d better not try it, Black, but you know what? I’m betting you’re right."

"And there’s no way to stop it?" she asks crisply. She knows the answer, of course.

"None at all," Lucius announces confidently, but Rodolphus gives him a sidelong glance.

"Is there a way?" Surely not. It could not be.

"The Cruciatus Curse," Rodophus says slowly, "is completely psychological. It only works if — "

"If the caster really means it, I know," Bellatrix says impatiently. She’s known that for years, and she always means the Cruciatus. No one will be able to stop her curses.

Rodolphus gives her a small smile. "That’s only half of it. The Cruciatus Curse only works if the caster really means it, and the victim is afraid of it. It works by making the mind believe that you’re in the worst pain imaginable. Of course, everyone’s ready to believe that; the Unforgivables are the most frightening spells any witch or wizard has ever heard of."

Bellatrix waits, and Lucius grins at her. "You have to want the pain," he says. "Not just think you deserve it, or some noble Gryffindor shite, but actually want it. If you’re not afraid of the pain, then your mind won’t create it. The curse works exactly the opposite, then — gives the ‘victim’ the strongest ecstasy possible."

Oh.

She knows what that means, and she can't quite believe it. It is more than she could have imagined -

Lucius says quickly, "But that’s only the magical theory! No one can do that!" She looks at Rodolphus.

He shrugs. "You’d have to be quite mad," he says lightly, "to want the Cruciatus."

"Take me to Lord Voldemort," she says quickly.

She remembers walking back to the castle, but surely it was never this cold (and why is she afraid, it is only Hogwarts, there is nothing to be afraid of here) – surely not
- Rodolphus and Bellatrix Lestrange are hereby sentenced to a lifetime in Azkaban -
- I’ve always said that blood will out -
- The Boy Who Lived –

and again, again, the world goes black.



iii.
The sun is rising when she comes to, shining off the sea. Another night gone, then. A productive night, but nevertheless – with every day, the Dark Lord’s inexorable return grows closer, and she knows that he will not leave her here to rot.

(But how proud would he be if she escaped?)

If she could keep the Dementors away for long enough to think... But she would need the Patronus charm to do that, and she has failed twice now. It had to be her memories that were weak, because she was not. Perhaps another memory, a stronger one...

When had she been happiest? She knew what made her happiest, a common thread through her whole life: the Cruciatus. It might be unforgivable to some namby-pamby do-gooders, but she knew better. It had changed her life, and it had given her everything – her husband, her power, and Voldemort.

Cruciatus. Cruciatus. Cruciatus. She tapped her fingers against the stone floor in an unconscious syllable count.

She did not remember when she had first learned of the curse. She’d always been fascinated by it – it was the first curse she ever tried to cast (she failed, of course, she was only six) and it was the last she cast before being sent here. It was always there, a part of her – the agony and the ecstasy.

The ecstasy, of course. How could I be so stupid? Learning of the ecstasy had given her immense power – she’d tortured a traitor for the first time the very next week. But feeling the ecstasy was something else, and she knew what memory she must use for her Patronus.

"Expecto Patronum!" she yells, daring the Dementors to come to her. She can handle them now.

"Is this the girl?"

Nothing else matters in that moment; not Rodolphus, not Lucius, not the fact that she hasn’t a clue where she is. None of it matters now, because his voice—it captures her. It reminds her of everything all at once: the arching spine of the traitor as she died, the screams, the feeling of power, of knowing she controls the world.

She hears the Cruciatus in his voice.

Beside her, Rodolphus kneels. Lucius pushes her down, and then bows to the man. He, too, kneels, and stares at the ground.

"It is, my Lord,” Rodolphus says. "Under the careful tutelage of Lucius and myself, she successfully cast the Cruciatus Curse on a hare at the age of thirteen."

A barely perceptible intake of breath comes from the shadows, and then a low chuckle. Bellatrix looks up and gasps. The figure who stands before her is almost grey, so pale he nearly shone in the moonlight. He is deformed, and his eyes – his eyes are red.

And he is the most beautiful thing Bellatrix has ever seen.

"Interesting," he says. It couldn’t have been more than a whisper, but his voice seemed to carry far more than it should. "Tell me who you are."

"My name is Bellatrix Black," she says, trying to stay collected. He will see through her but she barely minds – she wants him to know everything.

He smiles. "I am Lord Voldemort," he says.

In that moment, she knows. She’s heard of Lord Voldemort – who hadn’t? – but now she understands why no one would speak his name, why he inspires fear in the blood traitors and Mudbloods. He is everything she has ever wished for.

"You are an exceptional girl, Bellatrix Black," says Lord Voldemort. “Even for your remarkable family. To have such a handle on your abilities so early in life is truly a gift.” He leans forward. "I want you to join me."

"I will." She draws in a breath, and stands up before him, looking at him dead-on. He might kill her for that, but she is not afraid of death. "I’m ready to serve you, my Lord. With everything that I have. All that I need is for you to teach me. Equip me to more fully do your bidding," she says. This is what she was born to do, she thinks. This is what she’s been waiting for.

This man – this Lord Voldemort knows things, things Rodolphus and Lucius can only dream of, the secrets they could never teach her. She trembles a bit, but stands tall.

"Such a bold one you are, Bellatrix, making requests in the moment you meet me." Lord Voldemort’s voice is cold, but there is amusement there. It appears he will not kill her for her effrontery, after all. "I will give you knowledge, passionate young lady. Is there anything else you desire in exchange for your service?"

She hesitates, and then she knows. "Will you cast the Cruciatus Curse on me?"

"No!" Rodolphus grabs her and pulls her to the ground. She fights, but he is still stronger than he is (not for long, not for long) “My Lord,” he says, his voice muffled by her hair, "Bellatrix doesn’t know what she’s asking. Please, don’t subject her to that—"

"I know exactly what I’m asking," Bellatrix snarls. She twists free, and looks up at Lord Voldemort. "Please."

Lord Voldemort nods once, slowly, and draws his wand carefully from his sleeve. She knows Rodolphus is behind her, screaming at her to stop this madness, but she doesn’t care.

Something echoes in her mind, words from long ago: you’d have to be quite mad to want the Cruciatus.

She smiles.

"Crucio," he whispers.

Bellatrix holds her arms out from her sides and throws her head back and laughs.
Tags: character: bellatrix lestrange, character: lucius malfoy, character: rodolphus lestrange, fandom: harry potter, original author: inksplotched, rating: pg-13, remix author: avendya
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