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this is our reckoning
Bellatrix L. & Dementors - Words: 2,044 - Rated: K+ - English - Adventure - Chapters: 1 - Updated: 11-07-2018 - Published: 11-07-2018 - Complete - by conjectare (FFN)

for the QLFC, Season 6 Round 5:

prompts —

CHASER 2: Use the title of a story written by your Chaser 3 for inspiration

(dialogue) "Do you mind if we stop for a minute?"

(action) pacing nervously

(word) eternity

(title for inspiration) "they haven't seen the last of us"

bless my loves sienna, adi, shay, and audrey for betaing!

wc (barred a/n): 1984

. . .

She says he'll be back.

But she always says he'll be back, so they don't pay her any heed. Everyone with any kind of brain knows that Bellatrix Lestrange is a nasty piece of work with one devotion only: her Dark Lord.

They were devoted to him, too. And they're paying the price now. But the Dark Lord is great, and they can't find it in themselves to blame him. He was their Lord until the very end, and his work had been noble.

They blame the Order, the Mudbloods, the magical world that had condemned them, the Wizengamot that had convicted them, the Aurors who had caught them.

Bellatrix is insistent that he will be back, especially today. She screams out for the glory of the Dark Lord from the depths of her cell.

Her husband Rodolphus just sneers at her and says, "Let it go, Bellatrix!" He's tired, tired of Azkaban and tired of Bellatrix's obstinance.

Dolohov is weakened in body but not in mind — his cynicism is stronger than ever. He calls out from his adjacent cell, "If he was back, Bella, he'd be here by now. Face it, the Dark Lord is gone!"

"He had a good run," consoles Rockwood from beside Dolohov. "But this is foolish, Bella. Let him go."

"You're all liars," Bellatrix spits. "Traitors, disloyal! The Lord will be back! Do you think a little child would stop him and his goals? Do you think death would stop him?"

"It's the only thing that could've," the tired voice of Travers rings out. Rabastan, Rodolphus's brother, sits next to him, but does not speak — he is too weak. Azkaban has done it to all of them, perhaps, but Bellatrix. Her loyalty is stronger than her despair.

It's driven her to insanity.

"Would you lot shut your mouths?" snaps Mulciber from his cell. He sits alone, because his cellmates are all dead. "He's not returning and that's that, Bellatrix! Shut up before I make you!"

"And what will you do, Mulciber? Kill me? Do it! It's better than this waiting! When the Dark Lord comes back and kills you, I will laugh from my grave!" Bellatrix shouts.

"You bastards are too loud," Travers says. "I'm tired, let me sleep."

"Sleep, Travers!" Bellatrix screeches. "Sleep when the Dark Lord returns for us!"

"We've had this conversation a million times already and I'm damn tired of you," Rodolphus sighs. "He's not coming!"

"He will!" shrieks Bellatrix hysterically. "He has to!" Her voice rises, and she holds the cell's bars in a viselike grip, clutching them and screaming, "He will! He will!" She shakes the bars, madness in her eyes and in her voice, "He will!" ringing through the whole cell block, and the last "will" peters out as the Dementors glide over to Bellatrix. She glares at them, fire in her eyes, daring them to feed upon her — and they do, coming closer and closer and closer until she can no longer speak, and she gasps as the strain of Azkaban settles over her, taking her consciousness. She's still holding onto the bars when she passes out.

Rodolphus is shivering, trembling beside her. The Dementors are too close.

"No," he whispers, praying they don't come nearer.

All the others in the cell block have gone rigid in posture, eyes on the wraiths in front of them, pitch-black, figureless, faceless, the bottoms of their bodies separated and flowing with their movements like fabric. The prisoners keep looking, urging the Dementors with their eyes to move along.

The Dementors swish down the corridor, peering into each cell; each body in the block has frozen in fear, hoping the creatures don't come closer, willing them to move on to the next victim.

It feels like an eternity that the Dementors stay there, waiting for who knows what. They might not be looking for more; everyone hopes they're not looking for more. Each movement is painful, the darkness is all-consuming, the Dementors need to go away.

Eventually, they do. It's a mercy, one would think, but there is no mercy in Azkaban. When the Dementors instill hope, it's only to swoop back in and take it away.

. . .

Time passes by. Bellatrix grows hopeful, and then she wilts. It's been a while, and the Dark Lord still has not come.

This wouldn't deter her if the rumors hadn't been circulating. Someone had gotten a visitor three weeks ago, and talk had floated all the way to their cell block. Bellatrix had practically glowed when she heard, and then she'd been subdued by the Dementors, eager to feast on this unexpected delicacy of pure joy.

But she's spent the last few weeks pacing up and down her cell, at first with anticipation, later with nerves. Everyone could see that she'd grown anxious, for what if the Dark Lord was really not back at all and everything was just hearsay? Or what if he really was back and had elected to ignore them in favor of others?

"He wouldn't," Bellatrix says, almost hysterically, "not when we've spent eternity in here, waiting. No, he can't, where would he find anyone as loyal as me?"

"You're wearing yourself out, Bella," calls Dolohov. "The pacing's a bit much."

"It's not enough!" she snarls, lunging at the cell bars. Dolohov rolls his eyes.

"Why are you getting so worked up over stupid rumors?" Travers asks. "He's probably not back. You know how it is, a Mudblood gets paranoid and all of a sudden there are ten Dark Lord sightings all the way in Ireland."

"But this time it's different! You've heard what they're saying about Potter and Wormtail. And someone came to Azkaban with the news. Why would they come? There has to be something, something serious, or no one would come all the way here!" insists Bellatrix. "He has to be back, just you wait."

"Why do you care so much, Bella?" asks Rockwood. "If the Dark Lord is back, he'll come for us."

"And what if he's too late?" Bellatrix wonders, voice softer than it's ever been. She starts pacing again, working herself up, legs traveling up and down the length of her cell. "What if he comes back for our skeletons? I don't want to die here, in the midst of Mudbloods and blood-traitors and Dementors, and the eradication of the Mudbloods! I have to see it! The people out there, the Aurors, the Wizengamot, they have to see us back! We have to make them regret putting us here, we have to make them pay!"

"We've lasted this long," says Rodolphus. "We're not going to die, not now."

Rabastan lifts his head up for the first time in a week. He wipes long black hair out of his face; his green eyes pierce the cell block. "They haven't seen the last of us," he says quietly, voice hoarse from disuse.

"There you go," says Travers, almost as quiet as Rabastan. His gray eyes are shining, looking at Rabastan with something like awe. Bellatrix peers at him through her heavily-lidded eyes, getting a good look at his face.

Dolohov's narrow face pinches even more. "And there we go with the poetry."

"Oh, hush, Dolohov," says Rockwood. "You know it's true."

. . .

When the Dementors glide into the cell block, everyone is frozen in place. Everyone shivers as they make their way to Bellatrix's cell, and Bellatrix faces them with a steely gaze. If this is her end, she refuses to go kicking and screaming as the Dementors suck her dry.

They don't, though. Instead, the cell opens.

Everyone's eyes widen; Rodolphus's are the size of saucers.

"Well." Rabastan looks curiously at the now open cell door; Bellatrix is still standing there shocked. "The Dark Lord has come at last."

Travers chokes a little bit.

"Go on, go on!" Rockwood prompts. "Don't just stand there!"

Bellatrix shakes her head at that, perhaps trying to clear it of confusion, and takes a hesitant step outside her cell. When she isn't accosted by the Dementors, she takes another. And another, and another — until she's completely crossed the threshold and is standing smack in the middle of the cell block.

"Well, I'll be damned," breathes Mulciber.

Rodolphus follows suit, eyes affixed to the Dementors with each step he takes, staring at the stagnant creatures. They bristle at the pure joy emanating through the room, but they don't move to feed upon it — why?

"This is the glorious doing of the Dark Lord," Bellatrix says. "He's working with the Dementors… that's why they aren't taking our happiness… that's why they opened the cells! The Dark Lord has come for us at last!"

"It — it seems he has," says Travers in awe. "Oh, glory hallelujah. He came. Oh, glory hallelujah, he came!"

Laughs echo throughout the room, foreign on lips that have only known despair for years. The Dementors open each cell in the block, standing still as each prisoner takes their first steps out. It has been years since any of them have last seen the open air, since they've last lived outside of the confines of the bars and the Dementors.

Everyone seems to be taking it in, breathing heavily, as if the open air might disappear at any moment.

"Come on, everyone!" Bellatrix calls. "To the Dark Lord we go!"

The Dementors lead the way out, taking them behind the backs of human guards and around abandoned cells. Though the joy of being released is palpable within each of them, Azkaban has put strain on their physical conditions. Virtually everyone has gone pale five minutes into the journey, and their breathing is not heavy because they're savoring the air. Azkaban has taken a toll on each one of them, and as much as Bellatrix might stir them all to an escape, energy runs low in the group.

It's Rockwood who finally asks, "Do you mind if we stop for a minute?"

Enraged, Bellatrix turns on him. "You want to stop now?" she asks. "We are so close to freedom — and you want to stop and rest? Oh, take a rest, stop for a moment, and we'll be here an hour! The Dark Lord is not going to wait for us — we are going to him, at last! If you want to rest, then go ahead, but we'll all leave you here and the Dementors will be happy to take you back to your cell, you weak traitor!"

It's evident, despite her bravado, that she's tired. But everyone gets the message. They can rest once they're out of Azkaban, and they aren't yet.

Tired though they may be, they don't stop. Nothing could make them stop now, not at the cusp of freedom.

It takes them fifteen more minutes to navigate out of the prison and slip away, out of shape as they are. The Dementors kindly wait for them.

Dolohov complains about a stitch in his side — no one begrudges it, seeing as everyone's got one at this point. Bellatrix is clearly exhausted, but it appears that once more, her loyalty is stronger than her fatigue.

But after an eternity in prison, after years spent waiting and waiting and rotting in prison, they're out. They can see the sun again. It burns their eyes and spots appear in their visions, but they press on.

The Dark Lord is waiting for them. They won't disappoint, not this time, not now that they have a second chance at triumph, at freedom. They're going to be better this time; they will succeed where they hadn't all those years ago.

And they will burn everyone — the Order, the Mudbloods, the magical world that had condemned them, the Wizengamot that had convicted them, and the Aurors who had caught them — down to the ground.

As Rabastan had said, after all — "They haven't seen the last of us."