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The Stronger and Stranger It Becomes

Chapter Text

April, 1971

"Stupefy! Try to catch them alive, Mulciber!"

"Yes, Master!" shouted Mulciber from where he was dueling an Auror. Voldemort snarled and snapped his wand at the ginger-haired wizard who was taking on Rabastan and Rodolphus Lestrange at once, hitting the man with a powerfully-charged Knockback Jinx.

"Bella?" Rodolphus' voice rang out through the crisp Scottish air, and Voldemort whirled to see Pinky Tarlington, a skinny young Auror with short-cropped, icy blonde hair aiming her wand at an incapacitated Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix's wand was clutched in Pinky's left hand, and by the look in Pinky's eyes and the twist of her wand, Voldemort realised at once what she was doing.

"Avada Kedavra!" he screamed, half on impulse and half to cut off the horror of the memory wiping taking place. Pinky Tarlington crumpled to the ground after the flash of green light socked her in the chest, and Voldemort yelled, "Execute them all! Take them all out! No prisoners! Go!"

Suddenly his Death Eaters were patrolling the rolling hill, eliminating the Aurors who had come to raid Mulciber's home outside Aberdeen. One by one, all three of the other Aurors were eliminated.

"Vanish the corpses! Vanish the wands!" Voldemort yelled. "Don't leave a single trace of them!"

Mulciber and the Lestranges followed his orders immediately. It was sheer dumb luck that Rabastan Lestrange had been having whiskey with Mulciber when the first Auror had shown up. Both Rabastan and the Auror had called for reinforcements through their own means. Voldemort had been meeting with Rodolphus and Bellatrix to discuss plans to make Castle Lestrange an emergency meeting point, and so the three of them had rushed to Mulciber's house in Scotland. A small battle had broken out, a skirmish, and now four Aurors were dead.

Voldemort stood over the body of Pinky Tarlington and picked up Bellatrix's wand. He eyed her unmoving body and knew that Pinky had been in the process of destroying Bellatrix's memory. Why? Because then she'd be no good to Voldemort. It was brilliant, in a very infuriating way. He huffed and aimed his own wand at Pinky, Vanishing her body and her wand and leaving just a little impression on the damp grass where she'd been. He tucked Bellatrix's wand away and bent to pick her up.

"Is she alive, Master?" Rodolphus rushed over, and Voldemort murmured,

"She's Stunned. She was being Obliviated. I'm taking her to Malfoy Manor to examine her. Stay here with your brother and Mulciber to be sure no one else shows up. Come to the manor when you're sure it's all clear, and I'll tell you what I know."

"Yes, My Lord." Rodolphus bowed his head, misty raindrops falling from his thick, dark brown hair, and he squeezed Bellatrix's fingers before he trotted off to help the others cast protective enchantments around the area.

Bellatrix and Rodolphus were only nineteen, though they'd been married for nearly a year now. Theirs had been an arranged marriage, like most Pureblood unions, though they both shared a ferocious adoration of Lord Voldemort and his cause. They lived with Rabastan - a year older and very blissfully unwed - in Castle Lestrange, the old family home, which was the boys' now that their parents had been taken by a tropical case of Shira Plague on holiday.

Voldemort stared down at Bellatrix, who was thin and short, physically tiny but ferocious beyond measure, and wondered just how she'd let herself get Stunned. She'd probably been focusing on too many things at once. She was easily distracted in battle, Voldemort knew. It was her shortcoming. He cradled her in her arms and shook his head in frustration, Disapparating and taking her with him. He walked briskly through the enchanted gate of Malfoy Manor and stomped up through the garden, up through the doors that had been charmed to open just for him.

"Tea, Dobby, in the burgundy suite," he ordered the House-Elf, who just stammered an assent and pattered away. Voldemort carried Bellatrix through the narrow, dark corridors of Malfoy Manor, past whispering, curious portraits. He carried her past his office, past the large dining room they used for meetings. He carried her past the formal lounge and the library, and then he climbed a flight of winding stairs. She was so petite that it was like she weighed nothing in his arms, and he took a moment as he climbed to study her face. She was rather pretty, he thought distantly. He'd never noticed that; he'd been too focused on how vicious she was.

He wandlessly flung open the door of a guest suite that was decorated in burgundy and gold - Gryffindor colours, as though that mattered. He carried her through the small sitting area and into the formal bedroom with its ivory-painted sleigh bed and its heavy deep red curtains throughout. He set her on the bed and used his wand to illuminate all the sconces and lamps he could until the room had a warm, golden glow. He pulled up a decorative brocade chair beside the bed and sat.

Dobby came clattering into the room with a tea cart, and Voldemort wordlessly poured himself a warm cup of oolong. It had been fiendishly cold and wet in Scotland, and he sipped the tea for a moment as he stared at Bellatrix. He took in the sight of her full, pink lips, her narrow little nose, and he considered that she still looked awfully young for someone so very adept at killing and torturing. He aimed his wand toward the main door of the suite and said blandly,

"Accio Draught of Peace."

He'd need that, he thought, because he knew Bellatrix well enough to know that she'd panic if she woke up and didn't know what was going on. He had her wand, but she'd still panic, and that wouldn't do. He'd have to dose her before he woke her. It wasn't exactly ethical, but, then, he was not exactly an ethical man.

The bottle of potion came soaring into the bedroom, having arrived up from the stores downstairs, and he caught it deftly in midair. He pulled out the stopped and used the glass dropper to deposit four drops - a large dose - between Bellatrix's lips. He stopped the bottle up and put it on the tea cart, giving the potion a moment to sink in, and then he aimed his wand at Bellatrix's chest, and a red light glowed as he said softly,

"Rennervate."

Bellatrix blinked her eyes slowly and took a long, deep breath. She seemed a little confused then, tipping her head to the side, but the Draught of Peace measured any panic she might have experienced. Voldemort cleared his throat and asked as gently as he could,

"Do you know your name?"

"Bellatrix," she said at once, and Voldemort thought perhaps Pinky Tarlington hadn't gotten very far after all with the Obliviation. But then Bellatrix murmured, "I know your face, but I don't know your name. Who are you?"

His stomach sank, and he sighed. "Do you know your husband?"

Bellatrix blinked. "Have I hit my head? Are you my husband?"

Voldemort pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head a little. He met Bellatrix's eyes, narrowing his own, and he asked her seriously,

"When were you born?"

"Nineteen fifty-one," she said confidently, her voice a little higher and weaker than he was used to hearing it. He huffed.

"What date in nineteen fifty-one?"

She hesitated and shook her head, and then her eyes welled. "Where am I?"

Voldemort licked his bottom lip carefully. Did she even know what magic was? He told her, "You have been Obliviated. Do you know what that means."

She nodded vigorously. "I've had my memory wiped."

He gave her a patient nod and informed her,

"I am a Legilimens. Do you know what that means?"

Bellatrix concentrated hard, and then gasped. "You can read minds."

"Something like that," Voldemort said. "It will help me greatly to understand the damage of what's been done to you, Bellatrix, if I can comb through your mind a bit. It will feel uncomfortable, a little invasive. But I need you to relax. Just lie back and shut your eyes and relax, all right?"

"All right." She nodded, but then the door to the bedroom swung open, and Rodolphus Lestrange came bursting in.

"Is she all right, Master?" Rodolphus demanded. He rushed over, looking relieved, and he seized Bellatrix's hand in his. He kissed her knuckled and exclaimed. "Bella. I was so worried about you."

Bellatrix snatched her hand back and seemed very afraid, shaking her head. Rodolphus' eyes glazed with realisation, and he whispered to Voldemort,

"She doesn't know me."

"I was just about to determine what she does know when you came barging unannounced into the room," Voldemort said with lethal calm, giving Rodolphus a glare.

"I apologise, Master." Rodolphus bowed his head, and he said in a stilted, polite voice, "I hope you feel much better very soon, Bellatrix."

"Thank you." She seemed alarmed then, so Voldemort impatiently opened the bottle of Draught of Peace and wordlessly encouraged her to take a few more drops. She didn't question him; she seemed to know what the potion was and seemed to want its effects. Rodolphus gave a mournful look over his shoulder as he left the room, and once Voldemort knew he had the place to himself, he told Bellatrix again,

"Just lie back and shut your eyes."

She did as he said, lacing her fingers together over her belly and closing her eyes as he whispered,

"Legilimens."

He could see whispers of a childhood, but nothing discrete. There was a woman and a man - people Voldemort recognised as Druella and Cygnus Black, but they had no names in Bellatrix's memory. There was one sister remembered, a little tiny blonde baby. Narcissa. Andromeda was entirely absent. Bellatrix's years at Hogwarts were reduced to a scant few Potions lessons and the Sorting Hat ceremony. She knew she'd been a Slytherin. All spells and magical knowledge was untouched.

She remembered her mother telling her she'd been matched to a handsome Pureblood boy. She remembered staring at her reflection on her wedding day. She knew nothing of the man she'd married. She did not know Rodolphus' name or face. She knew nothing of Castle Lestrange. She remembered a dance, a specific dance with a specific man - the same man who was searching her head right now. She'd danced with him at her wedding, and he'd congratulated her. Was he her husband, her father? She didn't know.

Voldemort pulled out of Bellatrix's mind, shocked by how much was missing. This wasn't the sort of damage he could just undo. He couldn't make her remember her childhood, or her wedding to Rodolphus, or why she'd become a Death Eater. Those memories were gone now.

He stared at her for a moment and considered whether he ought to just kill her. But the thought of doing that made his stomach twist strangely. She'd been very loyal to him ever since her sixth year of school, since the moment he'd allowed her to begin serving him. He cleared his throat gently, prompting her to open her eyes, and he instructed her,

"Look at your left arm, Bellatrix."

She did, peeling back the sleeve of her black tunic. She stared in surprise at the Dark Mark there, and he told her,

"That Mark was put upon you as a sign of undying loyalty to me. You are my servant. You are my soldier. You were Obliviated in battle fighting for me. You swore allegiance to me, and regardless of what's happened to your memories, I hold you to that oath. Do you understand?"

She sat up slowly, staring him right in the eye, and she shrugged helplessly.

"Who are you?" she asked, and he met her gaze as he informed her crisply,

"I am Lord Voldemort."

He needed a Pensieve, he decided at once. Some things were beyond explaining. He touched the tip of his wand to his own Dark Mark, making hers sear hot and black, and she gasped in shock. She eyed him with a mix of curiosity and fear, clutching her left arm, and she asked,

"Who was that other man?"

"Your husband," Voldemort said, somewhat dismissively. "Rodolphus."

Bellatrix looked almost disappointed, but she nodded. She stared at the angry tattoo on her arm and said determinedly,

"Right. If I'm a soldier, and I got Obliviated in battle, then this is a war wound, and I must begin healing, mustn't I?"

Voldemort smirked and nodded. "There she is. There's my Bellatrix. You'll be fine."

Author's Note: No, my hypergraphia wouldn't let me wait a whole week to begin a new Bellamort story. But my schedule is righteously insane over the next week, so please bear with me if updates are once a day at best and more likely every other day over the next week. They'll go back to the usual frequency after that.

This will likely be a 100k word epic; I have some crazy ideas for this one. Please do review if you're reading; it's appreciated beyond measure. Thank you!