WOGW2: Chapter One: Divide & Conquer

“We are always more powerful united than divided.” 

– All You Need Is Love, Chapter 10.

 

 

 

 

“She’s only a mediwitch, Bella.”

Bellatrix was standing over a solitary piece of furniture: a rickety wooden chair placed in the centre of the room.  On that chair sat a woman with legs so short only the tips of her toes were touching the floor.  The way her head drooped and the listless way she was sitting in the chair would make it easy to mistake the girl for dead, Narcissa thought, tapping the elaborately manicured nails of her right hand against the window frame as she surveyed the scene; the nails on her other hand were digging painfully into her palm.

“She knows something.  It is written in her eyes,” Bellatrix said.  She was checking the magical bonds she’d used to attach her prisoner to the chair.  “You miss these things when you waste time drooling over stupid Muggle attractions, Cissy.”

Pressing her nails further into her palm, Narcissa said nothing of the slight.  Instead she directed her eyes to the bottom left corner of the window and the form of Tovah Ikey, mediwitch for the Holyhead Harpies Quidditch team.  In the seconds since she had last looked, Ikey had raised her head and was staring at the window, as though she was trying to catch Narcissa’s eye.  When she finally succeeded, Narcissa stopped drumming her fingernails on the frame and looked away, back at the illuminated tower that dominated the landscape.

“Have you considered that she might look that way because she wants you to stop torturing her?”

“No!”  Bellatrix finished her examination and came to stand by her sister.  Her face reflected her disgust as she silently stared out of the window.  “I do not come into your home and tell you the best spell to clean the draperies, do I?”

“No, of course not,” Narcissa replied in a snappish manner.

“Do you know why that is, sister?”

“I expect you find such domestic duties beneath you, Bella.”  Narcissa did not attempt to disguise her sarcasm.

“No, Cissy, I simply wouldn’t presume to offer opinions on matters in which I have little involvement, and even less knowledge.  You should follow my example.”  Bellatrix withdrew several steps, giving the appearance that they were done with their conversation and she was going to return to Ikey.  When she stood equidistant from her sister and her prisoner she turned once more to face Narcissa.  “I have to wonder, Cissy, if you speak up now because you are purposely trying to distract me from getting information from her.   The way you’ve been acting these last years . . . you’ve gone soft.  One would think you had never been married to Lucius.  Unless . . . Are you finally willing to help?”

Bellatrix watched Narcissa closely and after a protracted pause, Narcissa shook her head.  Satisfied with her sister’s response, Bellatrix returned to her prisoner, leaving Narcissa to her reminiscences of how she had come to stand in this once resplendently decorated room.  Never before had she been asked, let alone commanded, to accompany them.  Both Bella and Lucius had felt it perfectly acceptable to leave her at the Manor, a decision she had stopped contesting in the early days of her marriage.  She might have fought harder to accompany them if Draco had not been born.

Narcissa’s timing was poor: she chanced looking in the window at the same moment Bella raised her wand and cast the Cruciatus Curse.  Ikey took advantage of the little leeway her bonds gave her by leaning all her weight to her right and toppling the chair over.  Whether it was the result of the fall Narcissa didn’t know, but somehow the bonds holding Ikey to the chair broke and she scrambled to her feet, making a quick but futile sprint to the door.

“Foolish woman.” With several swift motions of her wand Bellatrix had Ikey bound to the chair again.  “You make it worse for yourself when you do things like that.”

Before Bella could continue her questioning, a doorbell echoed through the empty flat.  Narcissa jumped, jabbing herself so hard that one of her fingernails sank several millimeters into her skin; she could feel the warm, stickiness of the blood as it started to flow.  Even Bella seemed startled, but she recovered herself quickly, regaining full height and giving her sister a quelling look.

“Calm yourself, Narcissa, it will not be the Aurors.  After the incident with Potter, and Tougas so graciously letting me get away, it will be a few more hours before they are organized enough to begin searching for us.  Wait here.”  Without another word Bellatrix left the room, her wand held in front of her.

Narcissa waited for several seconds before retracing her sister’s footsteps to the door.  The room they were in, the one that used to serve as Bella and Rodolphus’s bedchamber, was at the end of a long corridor.  The acoustics of said corridor allowed for easy eavesdropping, but Ikey’s decision to start screaming again denied her that opportunity.  With a snarl, Narcissa hurried over and covered her mouth, but instead of falling silent, Ikey began to splutter causing some initial confusion, but the reason for such a reaction quickly became clear: the hand she had used to cover Ikey’s mouth happened to be the one that was bleeding profusely.  Ikey’s mouth and chin were smeared with blood.

Bitterly cursing the situation and how it was going to prevent advance knowledge of any new arrivals, Narcissa pulled out her wand and, after a momentary hesitation, conjured a cloth with which to wipe her hand.  She had never been spectacular at medical magic and given the trouble she’d been having with her magic in the last several years it did not seem wise to try such a spell when she was already on edge.

“You would do better to heal that.  The longer your wound stays open the higher your risk of infection.”  To prevent the blood dripping into her own mouth, Ikey had her head titled back, but she was watching Narcissa and it was not hard to guess why that was.

“You can stop looking at me like that.  I will not undo your bonds so you can heal this wound, or for any other reason.”

“She’s gone now though.” Ikey made no attempt to disguise her true intentions.  It was a brave and impressive move. “Couldn’t you just – We could make it look like I got free and stole your wand or something.“

“No.”  Narcissa made her answer sound as final as she could, but the minute the word was out of her mouth she wanted to take it back.  Maybe this was her chance to do what Brilliant Bellatrix had not. This would only work if she put on the full act though.  Returning to the door, Narcissa listened for the sound of footsteps, and looked to see if anyone was approaching.  Finding the corridor still empty she hurried back to Ikey and, suppressing the disgust she felt, used her cloth to wipe the woman’s face.

“We might yet have time to save you.  But,“ she hastened to add, seeing a glimmer of hope in Ikey’s eyes.  “The only way you will have any chance at escaping is if you tell me what it is you’re hiding from Bellatrix.  If it is important enough she will be distracted from pursuing you.”

As Narcissa’s words began to sink in Ikey’s struggle against her bonds ceased and she would surely have fallen to the floor again if she had not been bound to the chair.  Her chin fell and the large quantity of curly black hair piled atop her head became almost horizontal.  She was shaking and it sounded as though she was trying to avoid sobbing but having little success.

“My sister is very rarely wrong when she gets an idea like this.” Narcissa glanced quickly at the door again.  “Tell me, Tovah, do you know something about Harry Potter that would interest Bellatrix?  Is that why she went to such great lengths to get you here?”

As was usually the case, Narcissa had not accompanied her sister to abduct Ikey, Bella having told her that she would be sure to get them caught.  So she had stayed in the Paris flat, feeling like she might vomit and anticipated hearing that Bella had been caught by Aurors.  Her return should have brought great relief, but it did not.  Narcissa then had to worry about what sort of attention Bella had attracted by appearing at the newly fortified Quidditch Stadium, a worry increased when she was treated to a narrative of Bella’s close escape from one of the new guards.

“I don’t know anything about Harry Potter.”  Her attempt at a confident answer was ruined by the increase of trepidation in her voice.  Expert in torture she might not be, but it was clear enough to Narcissa that her sister had been quite right.  This girl knew something, and it was no trifle.

“Bellatrix will return any minute.”  Narcissa leaned down as her sister had been doing so her eyes were on a level with Ikey’s.  “If there is any chance of you leaving here alive you need to tell me what you know.  Now.”

“But . . . “ Ikey’s eyes moved towards the door.  She sounded truly pitiable when she spoke next.  “What will she do to them?  And how do I know she will leave my family alone?“

“It sounds as though she is already returning.”  Narcissa pressed her advantage, giving the mediwitch a slight slap on the cheek to focus her on the task at hand.  “Choose now: torture until you are driven insane, or reveal to me your secret and I will guarantee you and your family remain unharmed.”

It couldn’t have worked out better if Narcissa had planned it.  Just as she finished speaking the sound of returning footsteps echoed down the corridor.  Ikey’s eyes widened and it look as though she would start crying any second.  To further instill the sense of urgency, Narcissa tapped her foot.  If nothing was said in the next ten seconds her window of opportunity would be closed and they might not learn what Ikey knew.  Bella’s interrogation techniques were good, but not always effective.

Ginny Weasley’s pregnant,” Ikey said in a rapid whisper as the footsteps grew louder.  Sniffling, she let her head fall onto her chest again.  Narcissa continued to stare at her for a moment before she retreated to the window, her hand clenched again but preventing bodily injury thanks to the cloth she had crushed in her fist.

“You’re sure about this?” she asked at last, as two shadows darkened the corridor, close to entering the room.  Her tone sounded indifferent, but her fist was clenched so hard her fingers were starting to hurt

“I ran the tests myself.  Twice,” Ikey said, panicky now.  She also glanced towards the door again.

“And it is Potter’s?”

“I think so.  Hurry.  Please!”  She was straining against her bonds, her face turning red.

“How sure are you that it is not the child of some other wizard?”

“I don’t know.  What difference does that make?  Please.”

Narcissa ignored these pleas, her nerves giving way to anger.

It had been four years, nine and a half months since Potter and Weasley’s actions had led to Draco’s death and never once did they offer an apology, nor had they ever acknowledged how devastating the loss must have been to her.  No, all they had thought about was their own happiness, and nothing would increase that more than a baby.

The identity of this child’s father was paramount, but in little doubt.  Ginny Weasley might be many things, but a whore was not one of them, despite what Rita Skeeter seemed to think.  Quite the contrary, Narcissa thought, Weasley surely still clung to the belief all young girls held: that love was powerful enough to conquer anything.  And why should she not?  She had yet to suffer the loss of a child, the infidelity of a husband or the betrayal of a sibling.  Only when she did would she be forced to take off her rose-coloured glasses.  What she, Narcissa, wouldn’t give for a front row seat when that happened.  Dudley Dursley was just the beginning . . .

“Please,” Ikey cried again, her voice cracking and echoing off the walls of the room.  “Please, my family –“

“Are better off without a mudblood like you.  Silencio.”

Bella had entered the room, followed closely by another woman of immensely short stature: Delores Umbridge.  Bella looked from her prisoner to Narcissa, who kept her back turned and remained silent, but was again watching everything through the reflection in the window.  The corners of Umbridge’s mouth were turned up in a slight smile.  She was particularly watching Ikey, a malicious glint in her eye.

“When you said you had had another guest, Bellatrix, I expected someone more significant,” Umbridge said, barely holding back a laugh.

“Hold your tongue,” Bellatrix replied, violently jabbing her wand at Umbridge as she turned her full attention to Narcissa, the corner of her mouth upturned slightly.  “Did she convince you to set her free, Cissy?”

Ikey couldn’t break the Silencing Charm so could not continue screaming.  Her eyes, however, were doing the work of her voice, and she was now dividing her attention between three people, her expression hopeless.

“If you’ll excuse me a moment,” Bellatrix said, pointing her wand at Ikey.  “It seems she and I have some unfinished business.”

“Are you still interested in hearing her secret?” Narcissa asked.  She spoke calmly, unlike the mingling sense of anger and exhilaration that was growing within her.

“Go on,” Bellatrix said, approaching the window.  “What did she tell you?”

Before answering her sister’s question, Narcissa looked back at Ikey’s tear streaked face and felt a small twinge in the pit of her stomach.  Her plan had gone better than she had hoped; she now knew what the mediwitch knew.  They could work with this information to get what they both wanted, she should be happy.  Instead it was with an irritating hesitation that she passed on the news, avoiding Ikey’s eye as she did.

“Ginny Weasley is with child.”

Behind them, Umbridge let out a sigh, as though this meant something to her as well.  Both Bella and Narcissa turned to her.  She smiled and shook her head but said nothing, motioning for them to continue.

“Is that all?  She said nothing else?” Bellatrix looked disappointed with this news.  The flash of delight Narcissa had expected from her didn’t come.  “Hardly worth all the effort I put into getting you here, is it?”

Is that all?  Since they had arrived here just after midnight Narcissa had been doing a fairly good job of keeping her face impassive, but this time she was sure she hadn’t managed it.  Bella suffered from a natural deficiency of motherly love, never having had children of her own, but her reaction was no less of a surprise.

“You’d do better to keep your mouth shut, Cissy.  The flies around here are atrocious,” Bellatrix said, unaware of the shock she had just caused her sister.  Instead of focusing on Ikey, she turned to Umbridge, ready to drill her on whatever had happened at the Ministry earlier that day, in the aftermath of their escape.

“How can you be so blasé about this?” Narcissa asked, unable to stop herself.  “This is our golden opportunity to –“

“What would I want with the brat of a blood traitor?” Bella asked, her voice rising. Her gaze was piercing.  “Unless you think to take the child as payment for Draco’s death?”

Mention of her son in such a mocking manner was the limit.  Forgetting about how shaky her magic had become, Narcissa pulled out her wand and pointed it at her sister.  After everything she and Lucius had done, Bella deserved a lot more than she had got.

“You will lose, Cissy,” Bellatrix replied, raising her own wand.  The corners of her mouth were ever so slightly turned up, but the look in her eyes made Narcissa’s hand shake a little more, though she did not lower her wand.  She dared not look at anyone but Bellatrix.

“I think what you said, Narcissa, might explain a few things,” Umbridge said in a brave attempt to pretend nothing was happening.  Without lowering their wands the two sisters looked at her.  She had taken a few steps closer to the door and was holding her own wand at the ready.

“What things?” Bella asked, turning her head but still not lowering her wand.  It would have been a good time to cast her spell, but Narcissa also turned her attention to their latest arrival.  “And what news do you bring us of the Aurors?”

“The entire Auror department is in disarray,” Umbridge replied.  She lowered her wand first, but it could not have been plainer that she still worried for her safety.  Bellatrix let her wand drop back to her side, Narcissa followed suit a moment later.

“Unsurprising.”  Bella said.  “What else?”

“The, oh . . . I should have told you straightaway that I’ve been sacked.”

“What?” Bella turned her full attention to Umbridge now, her eyes flashing as dangerously as they had just done when she was facing off with Narcissa.

“Yes.  The Minister –“ Umbridge scowled.  “ – Seemed to think it unwise that I stay in Ministry employ after what you told him at Malfoy Manor, Bellatrix.”

“Did he?”  Bella asked.  “You are awfully brave, or incredibly stupid to have come all this way, empty handed, to deliver bad news.”

When Narcissa chanced a glance at her, it was quite clear that Ikey was watching this entire scene.  The fact that she was no longer the focus of Bella’s attention allowed her to relax a little.  Her eyes moved from the current conversation to every corner of the room.  She was searching for an escape route, one she could use in the unlikely event that she ended up breaking or being set free of her bonds.

“I do not come empty handed, no,” Umbridge replied, shifting from one foot to another.  She paused before continuing, giving Narcissa time to wonder if her stall tactics were an effort to keep them there until Aurors arrived, or if she was trying to invent something that would please Bella.   “As I said the entire department was mad.  It was hard to discern any one thing, especially when they kept me away from most of it.  But I have a few tricks left and I managed to learn a few things I’m sure the Ministry would rather I didn’t.”

“And those are?” Bella had to prompt her when Umbridge looked at Ikey instead of answering.  The longer this went on, the more certain Narcissa became that she was stalling.  She tried to attract Bella’s eye to tell her this, but the latter was focusing the majority of her attention on Umbridge.

“Yes, of course.  I will preface them by saying they may not be materially useful, but I have to wonder, now knowing Miss. Ikey’s bit of the story.”  She smiled at Ikey, who glared at her.  “The Minister was talking to Potter when I arrived.  They didn’t talk for long, but their discussion was rather informative.  From what I was able to grasp, he and Dawlish were ordering Potter to take some time off, that they would be sure to find Dudley Dursley soon. I did not know the Ministry was looking for him – but apparently you did.  How interesting.”

“What else?” Bellatrix demanded, waving away the observation.

Was this more stalling?  Even Narcissa, who knew most, but not all, of Bella’s plan was unsurprised.  Dursley had, after all, conspired with Bella and Lucius to obtain Ministry secrets and had assaulted famous Potter’s famous girlfriend.  His capture would be a high priority.

“It is guesswork, but Potter seemed quite on edge and I did hear him mention the Weasley girl’s name several times in an unpleasant manner.  I think there’s trouble in paradise.”  Umbridge looked quite satisfied with herself.

“And this is news?” Narcissa asked.  Even she was disappointed.  They had just been given tabloid fodder, not concrete information that would help them get Potter or Weasley.  Bellatrix, however, was pursuing another line of inquiry.

“If Shacklebolt questioned you and knows everything, how did you escape Azkaban, Delores?  He’s not a Minister who gives passes for treason.”

“I escaped Azkaban because I did not pass you any Ministry secrets and was not guilty of any crime.  The blame for that went to my nimrod of a niece,” Umbridge answered.  “Rather ingenious, I must say.  The only flaw in the plan was the memory modification.  Not only was she not charged because of that, she got to keep her job.”

“We’ve lost her, too?”  Narcissa dropped her cloth as she grabbed Bella’s arm.  Whatever their misunderstandings or disagreements, she didn’t want to see her sister shut up in Azkaban again, especially not so soon after Lucius had been apprehended. “We need to get out of here.”

“This is no good.  No good at all,” Bellatrix said, shaking her off with a contemptuous look at the spot of blood Narcissa’s wound had left on her sleeve.  “I wonder again why you bothered coming.  Surely it wasn’t just to five us this pitifully useless information about Potter.  His wel-being is unimportant.  It almost seems like you are trying to spring a trap, Delores?”

A wave of relief settled over Narcissa as she focused all of her attention on Umbridge.  Finally Bellatrix was going to ask the questions they so desperately needed the answer to.  She might have had issues getting answers from Ikey, but Bellatrix’s techniques would work well on someone like Delores Umbridge.

“I’ve come for the reasons I’ve already told you.  However minor, I wanted to pass on the last bit of information about Potter that I am likely to get.  Truthfully that is not the only reason though.  The atrocity that was Briony requires, I believe, a personal apology.”  Something in her manner of speaking, and the less than apologetic tone that the occasion warranted, registered to all the occupants of the room.  When she looked round, Narcissa saw Bella’s eyes widen, and Ikey stopped straining against her bonds for a moment.  For her part, Narcissa strained her ears for signs of Apparition, broom flight, or anything else that might foretell the approach of an Auror.  “The Briony affair was a disaster that I wish to make up for.  If Ikey’s information is true and my understanding is correct about Potter’s problems with Weasley I think we can capitalize on it by using my nephew.  He -“

“No.”  Bella held her wand in her outstretched arm and directed it with such force that Narcissa half expected her to cast the Avada Kedavra or another Cruciatus Curse.  Umbridge seemed to have expected the same because she tensed, relaxing only when the wand was lowered.  Bella waited to ensure she wasn’t going to speak again before continuing herself.  “Firstly, you have a lot of nerve making a proposition that has anything to do with your family after Briony.  Second, all she was, all Dursley was, and all anyone else would be are distractions.  I’m done with circuitous routes to get Potter.”

“Dursley?” Umbridge asked.  “What –“

After receiving a significant look from Bella, Narcissa found herself rapidly repeating the gist of Dursley’s involvement.

“He would only help them if they agreed to let him get with the Weasley girl.”

Feeling revolted at the very idea of such a violation, Narcissa looked away from Umbridge.  Ikey was perfectly still and silent but in the light cast from outside, Narcissa saw the glistening of a tear on her cheek.  Unable to stomach looking at her either, she turned back to Bella.

“I suppose we have to decide what to do with you,” Bella said to Ikey.  “I thank you for telling Narcissa about the child, even though it is useless to me.  Is there anything else you would like to tell me before your end?”

Ikey only shook her head and turned her eyes onto Narcissa.  The look of betrayal seemed to last even after she was hit square in the chest with the Killing Curse.  Her death was completely silent but for the heavy thud as Bella removed the binding and her body crumpled to the floor.

“Was that necessary?” Narcissa found herself asking, her head turned away.  “When the Aurors find her dead they’ll be sure to put two and two together and know it was you.”

“I want her found.”  Bella had bent over the splayed body.  “But even you, Narcissa, should understand that she couldn’t stay alive after what she’s seen and heard this evening.”

It had been more than half a decade since The Dark Lord had freed Bellatrix from Azkaban and even after his death she’d avoided the fate of so many other Death Eaters.  The closest she’d come to being captured, in fact, had been less than thirty hours ago when she had tried to use Harry Potter to resurrect the Dark Lord.

“Wait here,” Bella said, looking from Narcissa to Umbridge before she grabbed Ikey’s arm and Disapparated.

Her abrupt departure only increased Narcissa’s apprehension.  She spent several long seconds listening for the sound of Apparition, or approaching footsteps before she was satisfied that Bella hadn’t left so quickly to avoid capture. Having to stay one step ahead of the Aurors for so many years had given Bella an almost extrasensory awareness of their presence.  Narcissa would not have questioned her actions a year earlier, but Bella’s obsession with Potter had clouded her vision.

It was precisely this mindset that prevented Bellatrix from seeing the advantages of Ginny Weasley’s pregnancy.  Twice already Potter had gone running off and nearly got himself killed trying to save her.  If he was indeed the father of this child, a fact Narcissa no longer doubted, it would be very easy to get to him.  The only problem would be how to make Bellatrix see it.

“Where do you think she went?” Umbridge asked as she came to stand next to Narcissa.

“That’s a good question.”  Narcissa turned and looked out the window for the first time in several minutes.  “Some place where she runs a high risk of being caught, I’m sure.  Why? Are you worried that she asked you to stay?”

“No.”

Narcissa let out a faint laugh at the squeaky way Umbridge uttered the word.

“You have good reason to fear my sister, Delores.” She waved her hand at the chair.  “As you see she would have no qualms killing you.  You can breathe easy, though.  If that were her plan you would already be dead.  She would not let you witness one murder and then give you an opportunity to escape.”

“Indeed.” Umbridge let out a sigh, and her shoulders relaxed.  She looked a great deal more content.  After spending several seconds composing herself, she broke the silence.  “May I ask why you think the Weasley girl would be of use?”

“Surely you know Potter well enough to figure that much out yourself, Delores,” Narcissa answered in a distracted voice.  She was certain she had seen a human flying through the air, and it could have been on a broomstick.  Bella didn’t have a broomstick with her when she left, meaning it could only be Aurors.

“Perhaps I can help you, then.”

The black figure disappeared behind the Tower and did not reappear.  If it had been Aurors there would only be one of two reasons they would not reappear: Bella was caught, or they had landed.  In either case there was not much that could be done now but watch.

“How do you think you, the Ministry’s Undesirable Number One, could help?” Narcissa asked, hoping Umbridge would say something interesting to distract her from the painful clenching of her stomach muscles.

“That’s precisely the point.  I cannot have a hand in anything but my nephew, great boy, not anything like Briony, has been saying for months that the Minister and his administration are as anti-pureblood as the previous administrations were anti-Mudblood.  He’s already been going on about how my sacking was an example of the Ministry’s prejudice.  He’s a very eloquent and persuasive speaker.  Most importantly, though, he has proper pride in his heritage.”

Narcissa glanced sideways at the much shorter woman, who was also staring at the Tower.  If she had not been wearing a serious, if somewhat strained, expression she might have thought this was a joke.  The public wouldn’t listen to anything a relative of Delores Umbridge had to say, especially if he mentioned something about her improper sacking; the public hated the woman.  He would be a laughingstock, not to mention a target of significant Ministry attention.  The people demanded that the Ministry take swift and decisive action with anyone who appeared to share the Dark Lord’s ideologies.  The Minister would surely demand a second task force of Aurors be dedicated to such a man . . .

It took several minutes to understand the benefits of such an arrangement.  When Narcissa turned her head to look at Umbridge she was met with a smile.

“Divide and conquer, I always say,” Umbridge replied.

Narcissa had just started to speak of how much she liked the plan and how they could best turn it to their advantage when the loud grinding of metal drowned out her words and made her jump.  A second later she understood where the noise had come from: the Eiffel Tower was collapsing onto itself.

“She didn’t.” Narcissa said, more to herself than to Umbridge as she took a few more steps toward the window, hoping her eyes were deceiving her.

“She did,” Bella replied directly behind her.  She also looked out the window, surveying her work, a satisfied smile on her face.  “D’you think the Aurors will get the message when they see Ikey’s body below that massive heap?”

Out of words, Narcissa pressed her hands to the window and stared at the empty sky.  Bella didn’t set much store by subtly, but this was going too far.  Word would get back to the Ministry very quickly and then the entire city would be swarming with Aurors, both French and English.

“What have you done?” she asked at last.

“Nothing taxing, I assure you.  What did you do?” Bella yanked Narcissa’s hand from the window, leaving a bloody handprint, and several streaks of blood.  “Why haven’t you healed this, yet?”

Narcissa didn’t answer.

“Not taking care of such simple things does no one any good, Narcissa,” she said, waving her wand over Narcissa’s hand.  Almost instantly the cut disappeared.  With a second wave of her wand she cleaned up the blood, too.

“Thank you.”

“What are sisters for?” Bella squeezed Narcissa’s newly mended hand quickly, all traces of sarcasm gone, before turning to Umbridge.

“The collapse of the Tower has brought the Aurors.  It will be mere moments before they arrive here.  To keep your freedom you need to leave now.  If you want to keep your life you will mention nothing of what was discussed here.  When I need your services again, I shall get in contact with you, but do not expect to hear from me soon.  Come on, Cissy, we have a famous wizard to catch.”

“But –“ Umbridge’s protest was silenced with yet another wave of Bella’s wand.  Her eyes bulged for a second, the result of Bella’s tongue-tying spell.

With Aurors practically on their doorstep it was time to go.  Narcissa did not take time to question the change in her sister’s behaviour.  Instead she took Bella’s proffered hand in preparation for Disapparition.  Umbridge watched them without preparing to leave herself.  In her eyes there was a question about the outcome of the unfinished conversation.  Discreetly, while Bella was looking in the opposite direction, Narcissa touched her finger to her lips.

There were some things that Bella didn’t need to know just now.

 

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