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Another Time

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It began as a typical night in the Black household. Little Norrie had fought against the dreaded "bedtime", leaving her parents to firmly refuse a fourth story and a third glass of water. She'd heard two lullabies and elicited the promise of a play date with her cousins before finally sighing and kissing them goodnight. In the end, it had taken only thirty-six minutes to settle her - a family record.

"I swear, Bella, it's a wonder we don't fall asleep ourselves, leaving that child to do as she likes while we snore away on the floor!"

Bellatrix laughed softly in agreement. She pulled her wife close, placing a hand over the other woman's swollen belly. "Perhaps this one will be tamer."

Hermione snorted. "Let's hope."

Bellatrix smiled gently and, clutching Hermione's hand, quietly led the way to their bedroom. There they fell into their familiar routine, changing for bed, settling in with their books (after a brief search for Bella's reading glasses), and talking before dimming the lights to sleep.

Bella wrapped an arm over her wife and tucked herself against Hermione's back. Beneath her hand, their unborn child shifted position and Bella felt a swell of joy building in her chest. She kissed Hermione's neck softly, taking in her familiar scent.

"Goodnight, my love..."


Breaking glass woke her.

Bellatrix sat straight up. Her first thought was that her daughter had gotten up for a glass of water after her mothers had gone to sleep. But the tread she heard on the stairs was far too heavy to belong to a child. She turned to find Hermione had also awoken.

"What was that?"

"Someone's in the house," Bella whispered urgently. "Get Norrie, darling. Go to my sister's house. Use the Floo in here. I'll hold them off until you've gone and then I'll join you."

Hermione opened her mouth to object, but closed it again almost immediately. She knew she couldn't risk fighting while she was pregnant. "Andy's or Cissy's?"

"Andy's," Bells replied firmly. "Remus and Dora are spending the week with her."

She let that statement hang. An Auror, a werewolf, and a skilled duelist would clearly provide the growing family more protection than a Ministry official and a Healer. Hermione nodded and cautiously followed her wife out of the bedroom and down the hall. When they reached their toddler's room, Hermione broke off to rescue the child.

A fluent stream of coarse language filtered up the stairs as the intruder stepped on a misplaced toy and tumbled back down. Bella found herself smirking. So that's where Norrie's Muggle Hot Wheels car had vanished to... Sure enough, as she descended after their uninvited guest, Bella found the bright pink death trap on one of the steps and pocketed it. It wouldn't be nearly as funny if it's next victim was Hermione, after all.

She saw a head of red hair and then a scarred face turned up to look at her from the landing. With a stab of fear, she recognized the man. She carefully crafted her expression to show only her disdain, not her horror.

"Ronald Weasley," she sneered. "Shouldn't you be in Azkaban?"

She lifted her wand, preparing herself for trouble as he raised his. But she was caught off-guard when he bothered to speak to her.

"It's a strange thing, isn't it, Black?" He grinned like a madman. "The way one moment leads to another; how one choice impacts the next... And where would any of us be without those moments?"

"Never took you for a philosopher, Weasley." The moment she'd spoken, she knew she'd made a mistake. She should have Stunned him the moment he'd opened his mouth. A flash of purple light hit her, and she just barely caught the words of his spell before the world went dark...



Bellatrix just had enough time to realize she was no longer in her home when the screams started. She forced her eyes open to find herself flat on her back in the middle of Diagon Alley. Moaning, she rolled to her hands and knees and staggered unsteadily to her feet.

The first thing that caught her attention was a shop she'd never seen before. "Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes" was painted on the sign in loud colors. Bella stared blankly at it for several moments before realizing people were still screaming. She finally looked around and realized everyone was giving her a wide berth. Parents were pushing their children behind them, other people were running away, and a few looked as if they were preparing for a fight. Everyone seemed terrified.

Bellatrix, fearing the worst, spun around, looking for a threat. But the only thing she could see that was out of place was the shop.

"Don't worry," she tried to say, though her voice shook. It was daytime now. Where was her family? But the crowd, she knew, needed reassurance. "Don't worry; I was an Auror. I'll handle this."

But as she turned again towards the strange shop, she was hit with three Stunners and blacked out once more.