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Fighting Monsters
Bellatrix L. & Hermione G. - Words: 120,263 - Rated: M - English - Adventure & Romance - Chapters: 15 - Reviews: 111 - Updated: 22-06-2018 - Published: 07-01-2018 - by Drawinganimemaster (FFN)

I appreciate all the positive feedback, and the support you all have been giving me these last few days. It's the reason I update so early, I want to get more chapters out and see what you guys think. Plus, I can't wait to write certain chapters; I can see them in my head, how the characters will be and react to certain things. I can't wait.

Mangafreak11: Thanks!

Guests: Yes, Harry is the boy who lived in this fic. And I'll try to come up with a nickname for Bella, any ideas? There is another story with the Golden Trio and the Black sisters, check out Turn Time by N. Blackman, it's really great (BellaMione too)! Why can't they go with Tom? Hermione is super loyal to her friends, I don't think she'd betray them right now.

Darkshadow-lord: Thanks!

: Thanks!

One guest asked if Bella will court Hermione...I like the sound of that...we'll see.

Also, can you guests put a name to the reviews just in case you have questions and need answers? That way I can go write them directly to you, thanks!

Fighting Monsters

Chapter Three: New Beginnings

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."


A heavy sigh leaves her mouth as she searches for any signs of her youngest sister. She can't find her anywhere, and no one has seen her; she wasn't even in her first class when Bella went to check. The professor said something about Cissy being sent to Madam Pomfrey for not feeling well but when she went to check, the stupid nurse had said she sent her to her dorm for the rest of the day minutes ago. Leading Bella on another wild goose chase when she found her sisters room empty.

Bella was on edge.

The last time she spoke with her sister, it had been in front of the dark lord as he basically threatened her life. She couldn't just sit by while her sister committed such a horrendous deed, darkening her soul, by killing the old man. Not that she liked him, in all honesty she thought he was too old for the job and kept too many things to himself. Sitting back while he led people to follow out his commands with blind trust.

But she didn't want his blood on her sister's hands. She was only a child who didn't understand what her actions can cause. And now, it was getting close to after hours and she couldn't find her sister anywhere.

"Andy," Bellatrix snapped out of her thoughts as she found her sister walking down the corridor with the female Weasley beside her. "Have you seen Narcissa?" She got straight to the point, not even pausing to glare at the Weasley like she usually did when she saw her with her sister.

She and Andy were in the same year; therefore, they took similar classes together. Bella found them studying or just enjoying each-others company on more than one occasion. It isn't like she hates the Weasely's, even if they're blood traitors, but they did find a way to piss her off daily; the brothers at least. The girl wasn't as annoying, so Bella didn't taunt her as much unless she were in the mood.

"Uhm, n-no, I haven't," Andy gulped, she knew her sister was in trouble when Bella used Narcissa instead of Cissy to define her. "Haven't seen her in a while," She and Narcissa weren't as close as her younger sister and Bella.

Andy, unbelievably, was closer to Bella.

Yes, they had their moments.

Bella growled again, black eyes, alert, as she looked around for any sign of blonde hair. "…where is she," She asked, Andy sighed internally; she was doing that thing where she talks to herself under her breath.

It must be something serious.

"What did your sister do?" Ginny whispered towards her, glancing warily at a crazed Bellatrix tugging at her thick locks.

Andy shrugged. "How should I know? She doesn't tell me anything, I barely see her unless we're on holiday," She scratched the back of her head when the red head gave her a look. "What? You know how teenagers are at her age, all secretive, wanting to be alone," She snapped her fingers, catching Bella's attention once more. "Why are you looking for her?"

"It's none of your business," Bella snapped, causing Ginny to wince; Andy remained stoic, used to the snappish attitude her sister carried. "…just stay out of trouble, okay?" The elder said softly before pushing past the fifth years.

Andy's eyes widened, it almost sounded like her sister was telling her to be safe. "Y-yeah, of course," She tripped over her words, face hot.

Bella heard Ginny mutter something like "I have to get going," as she continued to storm through the hallway. On her way through the corridors, she caught sight of a familiar freckled faced bookworm up ahead. Hermione was leaning against the wall near Snape's office with Lovegood in front of her; they were speaking in hushed voices.

The pureblood snarled, the golden trio and their band of friends were always up to something. Keeping everything to themselves. She wondered what they were up to, and if it had anything to do with what her sister was going to do to Dumbledore.

"…" She couldn't stop her breath from catching as her dark orbs connected with soft brown.

Bella bit her lower lip, there was still so much they needed to talk about. Discovering that Hermione was a half-blood, connected to some of the most powerful Slytherins, had shifted her whole attitude towards the witch. At first her strange desire, or even attraction, for the muggle was something she was disturbed of; how could she feel such things towards someone with such a low blood status. But discovering her secret, suddenly there was nothing holding her back from claiming what would soon be hers.

But before she could do that, she had to deal with her sister and trying to stop her.

"Granger," Bella said softly, ignoring Lovegood, as her eyes took in the half-bloods uniform and how it fit her perfectly.

She froze up when Hermione uncharacteristically responded by smirking at her, wolfishly. "…Black," The bookworm replied hotly, laughing smoothly as a blush stained the witches face.

Bella felt herself trip over her feet as the normally shy witch obviously checked her out in front of her friend. She swallowed, cursing her luck, the one time the witch was in a playful mood she had to find her sister. But her mood was more than playful, it was confident, alluring.

Bella shook her head. What was going on?

"She seems to be in a good mood," Luna mumbled, looking over at the retreating terror. "Her aura has changed." She said mainly to herself, looking thoughtful.

Hermione shrugged, taking one more amused glance at the witch, shaking her head as Bella tripped before turning to the next hallway. "Mhmm," Hermione was still trying to get used to the confidence Felix Felicis gave her.

After Harry returned from Slughorn with the proper memories needed to get answers on Riddle, and going through them with Dumbledore, he stopped by Gryffindor tower to give them an update. Harry informed them that he and the headmaster would be gone while they searched for the horcrux. He warned them about the possibilities of death eaters breaking into the school and set them out to guard certain areas.

With the help of some left over liquid luck, Hermione and Ron gathered a small group of their willing most loyal friends to help. Ron should currently be guarding the Room of Requirement with the help of Ginny and Neville, while she and Luna wait for Snape.

"You seem different lately too," Luna admitted, looking carefully at her friend. "More on edge, watchful of everything you do or say."

Hermione raised a carefree eyebrow, grateful for the influence taking over her. "I'd hope so, there is a lot we should be wary about. Especially with Harry," She easily side tracked the conversation.

"Don't worry, I'm sure Dumbledore will keep him safe," Luna took the bait, reassuring her, and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.

Hermione nodded, too caught up in her thoughts about her uncle. "…yeah,"

But who would keep Dumbledore safe?

Harry closed his eyes, pushing back the need to vomit as he and Dumbledore land on top of the astronomy tower. "We have to get you to the hospital wing, sir," He managed to get out, forgoing his nausea from apparating, and focused on carrying the headmaster to safety.

"No," Dumbledore groaned, collapsing to lean against the stone wall as Harry helped him down. "Severus," He said urgently. "That's who we need, go, and wake him, tell him what happened and speak to no one else."

The chosen one nodded astutely, before turning to find the dark arts professor for help. A loud boom, the cluttering of objects falling, caused him to turn back around. Harry held his wand up, preparing to fight before Dumbledore stopped him.

"Hide yourself below, Harry," He got out, struggling to his feet but managing. "Don't speak, or be seen, by anybody without my permission. Whatever happens, it's imperative that you stay below," Dumbledore spoke again, stern, as Harry hesitated; looking back and forth towards the approaching person. "Harry, do as I say,"

The sixth year gnawed at his lower lip, looking at his headmaster once more, refusing to move. "Trust me," Dumbledore spoke, confident, causing Harry to pause. "Trust me," He repeated once more, Harry let out a breath before running to hide like the headmaster demanded.

Harry caught the end of two feet walking up the steps towards the steps leading to Dumbledore before silence.

The headmaster caught a hint of blonde before jumpy eyes connected to his. His eyes widened as he watched the young, fourth year, point a wand in his direction; the intent to harm was clear.

"…good evening Narcissa," Dumbledore spoke calmly, surprise glinting in his eyes as he watched her carefully. "What brings you here, on this fine spring evening,"

Harry clenched his fists, walking around slowly as he found a tiny crack in the floor. He looked up, watching Dumbledore speak to the culprit; he knew Narcissa had been a part of this.

"Who else is here?" Narcissa's voice was shaky, her hand shaking as she held up her wand. "I heard you talking,"

Dumbledore shrugged, feigning ignorance as he smiled softly. "Oh, I often talk aloud to myself, I find it useful," He paused. "Have you been whispering to yourself, Narcissa?" Dumbledore looked at the young girl, sighing. "Narcissa, you are no assassin—"

"How do you know what I am? I've done things that will shock you!" She declared.

"Like cursing Katie Bell, and hoping in return she'd bare a cursed necklace to me, or trying to poison me with that bottle professor Slughorn was planning to bestow me with," Dumbledore raised an eyebrow. "Forgive me, but I think these actions have been so weak that your heart couldn't have been in them,"

Narcissa's face was twisted, trying to hold her composure. "He trusts me! I was chosen," She lifted her left sleeve up to reveal the dark one's mark on her pale olive skin.

"…" Dumbledore was distraught, pausing, before he lifted his arms in surrender. "I shall make it easy for you—"

"Expelliarmus!" Narcissa disarmed him with alarming speed.

Harry held his wand up at the spell as Dumbledore praised the girl. "Very good, very good," Harry caught sight of Narcissa shakily pointing her wand at the wizard, fear etched across her face. "…another opened door," Dumbledore spoke as the sound echoed through the astronomy tower, he looked at her once more. "There are others? How?" He dared to take a tiny step forward.

"The vanishing cabinet in the room of requirement," She felt no need to hide the truth, not now. "I've been mending it,"

Harry walked toward the steps slowly, looking up as they continued to speak to one another. "Let me guess, it has a sister, a twin."

"Borgin & Burkes, they form a passage," She supplied.

Dumbledore nodded. "Eugenius…Narcissa, years ago I knew a boy who made all the wrong choices, please, let me help you."

"I don't want your help. Don't you understand?" She said, face broken with a mix of conflicting emotions. "I have to do this, I have to kill you, I'm his chosen,"

The sound of multiple footsteps caused Dumbledore to look around warily, Narcissa looking over her shoulder. She swallowed as Rabastan Lestrange, the eldest of the Lestrange brothers, stalked forward as he placed a chilling hand on her shoulder.

"Well, look what we have here." A filthy smirk graced his face as he eyed Dumbledore. "Well done Narcissa,"

Dumbledore held his head high. "Good evening Rabastan, I think introductions are in order, don't you?" He asked, looking at the other eight death eaters standing by the stairs, waiting.

"I'd love to Albus, but I'm afraid we're on a bit of a tight schedule," Harry heard him snarl as he walked quietly below deck. "Do it!" Rabastan hissed at the young witch.

A snort from Greyback caught Narcissa's attention. "She doesn't have the stomach, just like her sisters." Worry etched across her face as he pulled his wand, pointing it at Dumbledore. "I'll finish it myself—"

"No!" Lestrange shouted. "The dark lord wants the girl to do it,"

Harry looked behind him, sensing someone nearby, and saw Snape pointing his wand at him. "This is your moment," Lestrange's voice echoed through the tower as Snape made a shushing motion with his hand, Harry felt a sense of relief and slowly lowered his wand. "Do it…go on Narcissa, now!" Snape swiftly took to the steps and walked behind an unsuspecting Narcissa.

"No." His monotone voice caused the fourth year to jump, dropping her hand.

Harry caught a quick glimpse of Dumbledore's gaze, before the wizard turned back to Snape. "Severus, please," Lestrange glared at Snape, waiting to see where his loyalties lie.

Just as quickly as relief washed over him, dread punched Harry in the stomach as his mind caught up with him.

"Avada Kedavra," Snape spoke with little hesitation, shooting a green energy towards his old friend.

Harry's eyes widened, heart beating rapidly, as he let out heaving breathes. He couldn't move. Snape watched, a hint of emotion breaking through, as Dumbledore fell off the tower due to the strength of the spell.

Narcissa felt her stomach turn, the need to vomit rising, as the death eaters pulled her away; retreating from the scene of the crime. Lestrange held a tight grip on her shoulder as Greyback let out a might roar, sending sparks through the air with his wand in victory.

Dread washed over the fourth year as her new family led her away safely, and to her new life.

48 hours prior to Dumbledore's death

30 minutes after the match between Gryffindor & Slytherin

"You can't do this," Greyback snarled, following behind Rabastan in the narrow alleyway. "He can't be trusted!"

Lestrange shrugged, knocking heavily on the oak door as rain continued to pour over his cloak. "The dark lord trusts him," He mumbled under his breath.

"The dark lord is mistaken," Greyback growled, earning a sigh from the other death eater. "…why do you even care what happens to the girl?"

Lestrange glared at him. "Because she will soon become family. Her eldest sister is marrying my little brother and I have the need to watch over her like my own," He huffed as he faced forward. "Her parents are doing nothing to guide her, just sitting back and letting the dark lord command her but they refuse to teach."

"…what about her sisters? They want nothing to do with the dark lord—"

Lestrange cut him off. "They've never said that. The dark lord hasn't even asked them, it's all part of his plan, just trust."

The sound of the door opening cut off their conversation. Wormtail gave them a beady look before he led them up the stairs where Snape was sitting at a desk reading the paper.

"Run along Wormtail," Snape demands, not looking up as he uses his wand to shut the door. "…what brings you two here?"

Lestrange gracefully places himself down in the chair before the wizard. "It's about Narcissa,"

"…I'm confused," Snape said after a moment, frowning.

Greyback snorted as he looked around at the muggle paintings and artifacts. "You're not the only one,"

"Her sister is promised to my little brother," Lestrange shrugged, adjusting his suit and tie. "So, it seems we are family now, and I like to protect my own,"

Snape nodded, walking to lean against the desk, crossing his arms. "I can't change the dark lords mind, if that's what you're asking…" He began.

"I'm not, I trust in Narcissa's ability to do what must be done," He began, pausing to think for a moment. "But we all know, she's just a girl. Which is why—"

"She shouldn't be involved in this," Greyback mumbled under his breath.

"—I need someone to look out for her when I can't," Lestrange finished, ignoring Greyback's slick comment with ease.

Snape took a second to gather his thoughts before he found himself nodding. "It may be possible."

"Good," Lestrange smiled charmingly, rising to his feet as he prepared to leave.

"Swear to it," Greyback's sudden voice caused a standstill, Lestrange paused. "Make the Unbreakable Vow, your words mean nothing for when the true time comes," He edged Snape on with a ferocious snarl.

Lestrange knew Greyback was only doing this out of spite towards Snape, instead of worry for Narcissa, but it was an excellent idea. "He's right," He held his hand out, waiting. "They are just empty words,"

"…coward," Greyback threatened as a silence took over them.

Snape glared, keeping his eyes on Rabastan as he spoke slowly. "Take, out, your wand," He drawled.

"…" Greyback turned around, surprised, and gleeful, at the mans answer. "Seriously?" He whispered to himself as the two wizards took hands; he did as he was told and took out his wand.

"Will you, Severus Snape, watch over Narcissa Black as she attempts to fulfil the dark lords wishes?" Greyback began, wand raised as a golden tie connected their two hands.

Snape spoke swiftly. "I will."

"And will you, to the best of your abilities, protect her from harm?" He continued.

Snape said. "I will."

Greyback drew closer, throwing the wizard a curve ball. "And if Narcissa should fail, will you, yourself, carry out the deed the dark lord has asked her to do?" He couldn't stop the grin from reaching his lips at the hesitations on Snape's face.

But he surprised him once more as he whispered. "…I will,"

Lestrange released Snape's arm, holding his gaze even as Greyback's haughty laugh filled the room.

This was going to be interesting.

Harry made his way through the crowd gathered in Hogwarts. He didn't have to shove anyone, it was as if they could sense his presence and everyone parted to make a path for him. In his hurry to the front, he caught a glimpse of Ron and Hermione looking ahead distraught; Hermione seemed more conflicted than anything else.

But he didn't have time to dwell, his body was still feeling the shocks from Snape's spell when he foolishly challenged him in a moment of anger. Dumbledore wouldn't want him to do anything reckless like that ever again, so he had to keep his head. There would be time for revenge later, but now he had to bid farewell to his friend and headmaster.

"…" Harry felt his knees buckle as he fell in front of the fallen wizard, Ginny eyeing him sadly.

He opened his mouth, searching for something to say, when a shaky breath released. Harry softly moved his hand through the long white beard as rage and sorrow hit him full force.

A glimpse of the necklace they discovered together caught his attention. Harry pretended to brush away a few more strands, grabbing the chain and tucking it into his pocket discreetly. He placed his right hand over the wizard's chest, waiting for a heartbeat or for the older man to open his eyes to wink secretively.

When he remained still, body growing cold, the realization finally came to him. Dumbledore was gone.

Ginny quickly left the group of grieving students to comfort Harry. She knelt beside him, allowing him to lean on her shoulder as he cried out.

Hermione clenched her fists together, refusing to shed a tear. In a way, Dumbledore's death was also on her hands. She knew something bad was going to happen to him with the help of Narcissa, but she did nothing to warn him.

She wasn't allowed to cry or feel sorry.

Beside her, professor McGonagall raised her wand in honor of the fallen wizard. Slowly, one by one, everyone in the room followed her lead. Hermione swallowed her pain, and confliction, to grant the wizard one final act of respect. She held her wand high, as her best friend continued to weep on the floor, and kept her face still as stone.

She didn't have time to feel sorry for herself, or who she was related to, she didn't deserve it. Right now, she had to make plans for stopping her uncle from causing any more trouble.

War was upon them.

"What are you doing?" Bella asked, looking around the room at floating objects being packed into a suitcase. "Andy?" She asked.

The death of Dumbledore had shaken the school, and the death eaters who had found a way inside caused a panic. Nowhere was safe. Bella had found a letter from her parents on her desk, they were requesting she come home where it was safer. They probably thought she didn't know about Cissy's involvement and planned to tell her and Andy once they arrived.

At first, she thought about going home just to talk some sense into Cissy, but then she remembered another sister she had to look out for. A sister who wouldn't want any involvement in a war and would probably plan to escape.

"I'm leaving," Andy confessed, turning to face her sister in panic. "The school isn't safe, they killed Dumbledore!" She lowered her voice, shaky. "…our little sister is involved, and you better believe if we go home, mother and father will force us into something we don't want." She paused as a terrible thought passed her. "Are you involved with the cause too?"

Bella felt like she had been slapped, she snarled. "Are you mad? Do you really think I could become an Auror if I joined the dark lord on his massacre?" She crossed her arms, furious. "I don't want a war, and I sure as hell don't want my little sister being used by that monster…I tried to talk her out of it."

"You knew?" Andy exclaimed. "And you did nothing—"

Bella growled. "He threatened to hurt our family if I got in his way. And I didn't know where it was happening or when, just that it would take place today,"

"…I believe you, I just, I wish we could have seen this coming. We should have. She's our little sister, and when I saw her growing distant I just brushed it off," Andy ran a hand through her black locks, sighing. "We should have kept her close, we gave him a reason to seek her. She has a hole missing where we should be, and she thinks he can fill it,"

The elder closed her eyes in shame, Andy was right. "…so, we're not going home, and we can't stay here. What did you have planned?"

"You'll laugh," Andy said, refusing to tell her sister. "No. You'll scream in outrage, deny it, and then laugh as you try to stop it from happening."

Bella felt a pain in her heart, she couldn't help Cissy but maybe she could make things right with another sister before it was too late. "I won't, I promise," She said, giving her sister a kind gaze.

"…Ted Tonks," Andy whispered his name, Bella racked her brain and settled on the shy muggle a year older than her sister. "He and I have been seeing each other for almost two years," Bella's nostrils flared, how had she not seen this development? "A-and, he invited me to stay with his muggle family somewhere in London. I'd be safe there; the dark lord would have no way of knowing my relationship with Ted. I haven't told anyone but Hermione,"

Another twist, Bella bit back a yell and instead looked at her nervous sister; she was trusting her to be supportive. "…you told Granger instead of me?" She wanted to be hurt, but in a way, she was happy that Hermione was protecting her sister when she had failed to. "So, you two really weren't studying for potions, she was just being used as your alibi?"

"Yes," Andy bit her lip as she nodded. "…aren't you going to throw a fit? I'm in love with a muggle, you hate those," She pushed.

Bella wanted to shout, wanted to be angry, but she didn't have the energy for it. She had already pushed one sister away, and she didn't want to lose another one because of something that shouldn't matter. She had feelings for Hermione, even when she thought she was a muggle, and they hadn't changed or intensified due to her reveal; it only gave her the courage to do what she should have a long time ago.

"…I'm not upset," Bella confessed, gaining a look from her sister; as if she thought it were a trap. "I'm not, look, if you love him you should be with him. And if he can protect you from what's about to happen, then go for it. I won't stop you from being happy, not anymore. And I'm sorry if I ever made you, or Cissy, feel like you couldn't come to your older sister for anything but support,"

Andy swallowed down a rush of emotions. "Who are you and what have you done with the real Bella?" She was only half joking as she eyed her sister.

"It took my little sister becoming a death eater to snap some sense into me," Bella admitted with a sigh.

Andy smiled, wrapping her sister into a tight hug, as she spoke through wild curls. "I can't believe how amazing you're being about this," She chuckled. "And I'm glad you and Hermione are finally together and have stopped—"

"What?" Bella exclaimed, pushing the girl away. "W-we're not, it isn't like," She stumbled, blushing for the first time in front of Andy.

"O-oh, you two aren't…then why are you so okay with Ted and I?" Andy frowned.

Bella huffed, throwing her arms up. "Because I'm trying to be supportive!"

"Oh, sorry then," She scratched the back of her head. "I thought, you know, all those nicknames and intense arguments just caught up to you, and you couldn't take it anymore. Plus, with the war, I thought you'd want to get everything off your chest while you still had time,"

Bella was about to deny it once more before something her sister said caught her attention. "What do you mean while I have time? We have one more year before we graduate,"

"Bella, you can't honestly think Hermione is staying here?" Andy looked shocked to think she did. "Dumbledore is dead, and Harry, her best friend, is the chosen one who the dark lord wants dead. She's probably going to follow him to stop Riddle, and they can't do any of that locked up in a classroom; they're the golden trio for a reason, they stick together." She bit her lip as she watched the realization wash over her sister's face. "Sorry, but…I don't think she'll even be here in the next couple of days, they need her."

Bella wanted to hit herself for being so foolish, everything was slipping from her fingers and she was too caught up in the wrong things to notice. "…okay, she's leaving, and I will talk with her before she does. And you'll be safe with Ted, when are you leaving?"

"Tomorrow, he'll come here to meet me," Andy said softly, looking hopeful for the first time in a while. "What are you going to do?"

Bella shrugged. "I don't know, I could stay here and—"

"No, about Hermione," Her sister motioned with her hand. "I know you and she have something, no matter how twisted it may be, it's worth considering. And she's great, smart, and the fact that she cares about one of your sisters should tell you something," She continued as Bella looked away. "…but you're also promised to Rodolphus Lestrange, which makes things almost impossible,"

Bella shook her head, rolling her eyes at the mention of such a coward thinking he was worthy of her. "We haven't signed a marriage certificate so the way I see it, I'm free to be with whoever I want," She shrugged.

"W-what, I thought you two were promised since your first year?" Andy frowned, confused.

Bella nodded. "But it doesn't mean anything unless we signed the forms, and we haven't. I must be eighteen to sign them, but alas, I'm only seventeen; and I won't be around for a wedding once I am eighteen. We were supposed to get consent from our parents last year but his were out of country on some business,"

"Well, this is great then!" Andy smiled brightly. "…but where will you be?"

Bella shrugged. "I'll figure something out, but I can't go home, and I won't stay here. But I'll write to you, and when this whole war cools over I'll come find you."

"Okay, be safe Bella," Andy pulled her into one last hug.

Bella nodded into her sister's short black hair. "I will,"

It wasn't goodbye, they'd see each other again. The three of them would be united.

"Narcissa?" Hermione asked, looking over at her best friend as they looked at the view atop the astronomy tower.

Harry shook his head. "No, it was Snape in the end. It was always Snape," He looked down. "…and I did nothing."

Hermione moved closer before pausing, she wanted to tell him it wasn't his fault and that it was hers. She's the one who did nothing. Harry placing the necklace he and Dumbledore found together in her hands caught her attention.

"It's fake," Harry said as she held onto the false horcrux. "Open it,"

She didn't argue, opening the locket to reveal a crumbled-up paper. "…to the dark lord, I know you will be dead long before you read this, but I want you to know it was I who discovered your secret. I have stolen the real horcrux and intend to destroy it as soon as I can," Harry glanced over at Ron, who sat near the steps where Dumbledore had just sat at hours before; alive and well. "…I face death in the hope that when you meet your match you will be mortal once more. R.A.B?" Hermione gave him a look.

"I don't know, but whoever they are they have the real horcrux," He looked off angrily. "It means everything was a waste,"

Hermione swallowed, it seemed like it, but she didn't want him dwelling on it. "…you know Ron's okay with it. You and Ginny," She turned the conversation around as she looked back towards the sky. "If I were you, when he's around, I'd keep the snogging to a minimum," She smiled as she drew a laugh from him.

"I'm not coming back, Mione," He began after a moment. "I have to finish whatever Dumbledore started, and I don't know where that will lead me, but I'll let you and Ron know where I am when I can." Hermione looked at him then, wanting to punch him.

She looked away, wind blowing through her brown locks. "I've always admired your courage, Harry. But sometimes you can be thick," He looked at her, eyebrows raised while she smiled. "You don't really think you'll be able to find all those horcruxes by yourself, do you? You need us, Harry," She said softly, catching his eye before he looked off again.

Hermione let out a soft breath as he blindly reached for her hand, a silent thank you. Years of being friends have taught her how to interpret his small messages.

It lasted for only a moment, before they both pulled away once more.

"I never realized how beautiful this place was," Harry confessed.

Hermione smiled softly, hearing the heavy footsteps behind her as Ron silently stood beside them. Side by side, they quietly admired the slowly darkening sky.

It was the only peace they would have for a while.

Hermione had just finished packing her things for the long road they would have ahead of them. After sitting at the astronomy tower for a while, basking in everything that had happened, they got their heads together to come up with a plan. It wasn't complete, but they all agreed to stay at Ron's to meet up with some old friends before they began their search.

They knew the dark lord would be searching for Harry, so they had to hide him soon. And Hogwarts was no longer safe.

"First things first," Hermione had dug up everything her uncle had bestowed her; they could very well have spells on them which could help him find them in the future. "…I don't need his help, I never did, never will." She waved her hand over the Dark Arts book along with the mirror to contact him, sighing as they landed somewhere in the Forbidden Forest.

She smiled when all her things were packed, she'd just say goodbye to her professors and then she'd be on her way.

"Oh," Hermione jumped as she opened the door to her prefect room, swallowing. "B-bellatrix, what are you doing here?" She thought everyone had left, and how did the girl get into their tower?

If anything, she thought her parents would have called to have her sent home.

Bellatrix shrugged, placing her hands behind her back, she seemed relieved. "I thought you'd left, I need to speak with you,"

"I'm kind of busy, can it wait?" Hermione tried, but sighed when the witch pushed her way in. "Of course, it can't, and please come in," She said, closing the door behind her with a huff.

Bellatrix looked around at her packed bags, raising a brow. "Going somewhere?"

"Can't stay here," Hermione shrugged, looking at the witch poke around her room. "I thought you'd be home by now,"

The other witch looked at her, hurt. "I would never, I already told you I want nothing to do with the cause. Andy left to be with Ted, he can protect her—"

"W-wait, you let your sister stay with a muggle?" Hermione's eyes widened.

Bella shrugged. "She loves him, and I want her to be happy. Unfortunately, he causes it, so what can I do." She snapped when the bookworm kept looking at her, in awe. "What!"

"Nothing, it's just," Hermione shook her head, smiling softly. "It's really cool, you're being okay with her and Ted, sweet actually,"

Bella forced down a blush. "Whatever, if she isn't bothering me I don't care. But, I have an issue, I don't know where I will stay. I can't go home, they'll force me to do something I don't want to, and if I stay here I'll be in even more danger."

"So," Hermione said, confused. "What do you want me to do?"

Bella closed her eyes. "Let me come with you."

"What?" Hermione choked.

"I know the three of you are planning on stopping Riddle, and I want in." Bella demanded, as if she were asking for a piece of candy. "Let me come with you."

Hermione shook her head. "No! Absolutely not!"

"Why not?" Bella snarled.

Hermione could think of dozens of reasons but chose one. "Your sister is a death eater! Harry and Ron will never trust you without thinking you're a double agent,"

"You're the dark lord's bloody niece," Bella snorted, Hermione gaped looking around; grateful she had her own room. "If they trust you, then they can trust me,"

Hermione groaned. "They don't know who I—"

"Which is why you need me, it's not good to keep this secret to yourself," Bella said softly. "I know how hard it was for you, seeing Dumbledore like that when you…when we, could have done something to stop it. I know it's eating you up inside, you'll need someone to talk to," She paused. "You're going to have to tell them eventually,"

Hermione closed her eyes. "…I know,"

"And when you do, they may be furious with you," Bella confessed. "They might want some time away from you, may even turn their backs on—"

She shook her head. "They would never—"

"And when that happens, you'll need someone to be there for you," Bella continued, sincerity written all over her face. "Let me be that person. Let me be there for you,"

Hermione bit her lip, conflicted, the witch was right. "Why do you want to help so bad? Why do you even care?"

Bella pushed down the need to snap due to the hurt those words caused her. "…because I…I don't want to get involved in the cause, but I can't go anywhere without being in danger. At least, with you idiots, I'll be doing what I want; and I'll be on the right side while doing it." She swallowed. "And I need to help my sister when all this is done."

Hermione felt like the witch wasn't telling her something but nodded anyway. "Fine, we're staying at Ron's house to meet up with some people before we form a plan," Bella felt weightless. "But I can't promise you'll travel with us when the real journey begins. If they do manage to trust you in the next few months or not, it will be all up to you. Depending if you earn their trust,"

"Their trust," Bella licked her lips. "Does this mean I have your trust?"

Hermione sighed, not wanting to admit anything. "I trust your love for your sisters. We leave in a few hours, I just have to say my goodbyes; won't see them for a while."

"Okay, I'm already packed," Bella said with a grin.

Hermione shook her head, eye brow raised. "Are you sure you're not a part of the cause? You have a lot of positive energy towards this part, the fighting stuff I mean. Why is that?"

"…I've always wanted to be an Auror," Bella shrugged, ignoring the surprised look on the other girl's face. "You know, solving mysteries, and getting into duels with strong opponents. Guess that's where it stems from."

Hermione nodded in understanding, everything making sense for the first time in a while. "And that's where people mistake you having blood lust for battle opposed to a desire to face worthy adversaries," Bella shrugged, fidgeting as Hermione starred at her as if she were a potions project; like she couldn't wait to reveal all its secretes. "…brilliant."

"Don't you have professors to meet?" Bellatrix huffed, trying to fight the blush.

She had waited months for the witch to look at her that way. The same why she does when she catches her reading a new book in the library after hours. Time getting away from her as she tries to learn everything there is, to take it all in.

Hermione snapped out of it, shaking her head. "Right," She turned to the door, before looking back at the witch. "Uhm, are you staying here? Or do you want to come with me?"

"…depends on who you're meeting," Bellatrix spoke after a minute.

Hermione smiled brightly. "Professor McGonagall of course,"

"I guess I can't leave without pranking her one more time," The dark-haired witch said, looking at her fingernails in thought of what to do as her last school prank.

Hermione laughed, shoving the witch lightly, outraged. "Bella!"

Bellatrix's eyes widened. "…you called me Bella,"

"Oh, sorry," Hermione began, scratching the back of her neck. "I didn't mean to,"

"No, it's fine," She swallowed, offering a sheepishly awkward nod of approval. "My friends call me Bella anyway, so, it's fine,"

Hermione smiled with ease, friends she could do; that was familiar. "Brilliant, let's go then,"

With Bella around, the weight of her burdens didn't seem so heavy. The witch knew who she was, who she was connected to, and her true blood status. Hermione felt like she could finally be herself.

It was a great feeling.

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