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Permanence Over Gratification

Chapter Text

There was a chill in the air in Britain. The trip over was simple, but more laborious than need be. There had been so many transfers and elevators that seemed overkill for what could have been as simple as a pop.

Leviathan Wilde was here on assignment. A peculiar assignment by all measures, but he was ready to take it on, however dumb it might have been to accept.

Finishing his last checks at the Ministry, he put his identification away and grabbed his bags. He’d been a year in official preparation for this one task, but he felt like he was built for this. When they came to him with the proposal he was definitely too excited.

“Levi, we think you might fit this…almost too well. You’re very green, is our only hesitation, but also the only one we can think of and, honestly, the only person we can spare for this amount of training.”

He took to the training and research quickly and voraciously. It all led to this day.

He was escorted from the Ministry’s offices to a dark hallway connected to a private Floo Network. When he was instructed to call out “Azkaban,” he felt his heart speed up. Once he reached the other side of the Floo, an ominous door stood in front of him. The door open slowly to reveal a stone faced woman.

“Leviathan?”

“Yes! Leviathan Wilde. You must be Auror Tonks.” He held out his hand.

“Black. Please, this way.” She led him inside, “I hope the Ministry wasn’t too much trouble.”

“Not at all. I hope you don’t mind, I know I’m a tad early, but I thought we’d have a lot to go over.”

The Auror continued to lead him to her office.

“No, no. The sooner, the better.” They sat. “So, what have they taught you about Bellatrix?”


 

Auror Black had a long, unrelenting list of limits and new information on his task here. Where he first assumed it would be akin to duels, strategy analysis and interviews, he learned it was more...involved. The top most task: convincing Bellatrix of it all. This hadn’t been part of his training. But he supposed...she would need to at least tolerate him in order to continue such an in depth project.

“Alright. When do we start?” Levi was ready.

“Well, tomorrow morning we could…”

“Should I meet her now? We can at least get introductions out of the way.”

“I suppose. Let me call down to the cells.”

After a short and indiscernible conversation, Auror Black addressed him again.

“Seems it’s your lucky day, Auror. I’ll see you to the cells.”

“Yes.” He clapped his hands to his thighs and stood, “ready.”


 

There was so much darkness in Azkaban. When they reached the direct path to the cells, he was instructed to summon his patronus. A slim and agile snake shot from his wand, gliding through the air.

“I’ve never seen that before…” Auror Black was surprised but they didn’t have time to dwell. As they walked through the dark hall he understood the need. Dementors scales the hallways. He’d never seen anything like it.

As if sending his fascination, Auror Black raised her hand, “not now, Wilde.”

At the end of the hall, there was a cell with a guard posted outside. The guard stood at attention. “Auror Black.” They addressed her.

“Thank you, Armon. We’ll keep this brief.” She turned to Levi, “Are you ready?”

“I’d say so.” He nodded confidently.

Auror Black opened the door with a complicated pattern of wand movements.

And then, there she was, in the corner, knees to her chin rocking back and forth, but immediately still at the acknowledgment of her guests. She caught eyes with Levi first.

“Who’s the morsel, Andy?” It was menacing and slow, the way she spoke.

“Let’s not be rude, Bella,”Auror Black sighed, “this is Leviathan Wilde. He’ll be helping with your release program.”

“Hi.” He nodded his greeting, keeping his hands in his pockets and his wand tucked in his sleeve.

“Shipping them in now, are we? A little...fae isn’t he?” Bellatrix tilted her head at him.

“Auror Wilde is your key to freedom. The American Auror’s Association were the only ones who would spare anyone to assist this program. If you want out of these chains, you’re going to have to cooperate.” Black had sunk to a squat to meet Bellatrix eye to eye.

Bellatrix sneered at her, “we’ll see how long he lasts.”

Auror Black stood. She walked towards the door, signalling their departure. Then Levi turned to address Bellatrix, “I won’t push, but...I think we’ll find we help each other. In the end.” He turned before her retort could be formed. The door closed behind them. He thought he could hear a distant cackle.

Sooner than he expected, they were back in her offices.

“We’ll start the paperwork tomorrow. Thank you, Levi. I trust you can see yourself out?”

“Yes, of course.” He grabbed his briefcase and was on his way.

Tomorrow would be a whole new trial of its own.


Levi was anxious to start. He slept well in the modest hotel they’d placed him in. He woke up early enough to polish up on his notes with a bit of coffee in his room.

Once it was time to start getting ready he lingered a bit on small things.

He was lean and tall so he wanted to wear something that wasn’t severe, as that might make her feel threatened but he didn’t want to look dowdy. He chose a white button down with black pinstripe pants that flared a bit at the boot. His boots were understated but fine leather. He fixed on his usual silver thin chain necklace. He went to his bathroom mirror to get a better look at what travel had done to him. He fixed things with some glamouring charms. His brown skin was given its usual glow. His short cropped hair left little to be done with, but he gave a small shine to it with a bit of oil from his bag.

One last look in the full length mirror and he felt he’d accomplished what he’d set out to.

“Accio briefcase.”

He was off.


 

“Hello, Auror Wilde. Thank you for your punctuality.” It was nine on the dot as he walked through her office door.

Levi didn’t really know how to respond, so he nodded, “Good morning, Auror Black.”

“Ah,” she took a seat behind her desk, “Call me Andromeda. After all, we’ll be practically living together in the coming months.” It was true. They couldn’t very well let Bellatrix roam, so the plan was to board her, with Andromeda and himself, for a time, yet to be determined

They reached Andromeda’s office and began to iron out the last of the specifics

“Alright,” she sat behind her desk and motioned for Levi to follow suit in the chair opposite her, “we’re clear on everything, correct?”

“Yes. I feel thoroughly prepared.”

Andromeda laughed in the back of throat. Such confidence this boy had. “I doubt that.”

“Most people do.” He nodded his headed with a shadow of a smile on his lips, “listen, I’m sure I seem cocky and probably a little unreasonable in what you may think my expectations are, but I’m almost too familiar with the kind of situation I’m about to be in. I’m not afraid of pain, I have no secrets, and failure only entices me. I’m ready to be proved useless, essentially. Expectations only ruin the surprise of success.”

Andromeda just looked at him with a shadow of smile on her face. He was at least realistic, a spot of optimism, but mostly realistic. Levi was clearly an eccentric, but maybe that’s just what was needed. She addressed him with subdued resignation, “well, at least we’re in it together, mate.”

She reached across her desk with her hand outstretched. Levi shook it with a smile. They were in for a ride.

Chapter Text

The day came quite quickly. It was a wonder how he held his excitement down. This morning he found himself pacing and meticulously itemizing his points to present to Bellatrix. He had to make sure he could convince her of this or else he risked his whole mission. His plan was to be brutally honest but intriguing. With her use of he powers on the horizon, he couldn’t very well lie. She was an accomplished legilimens; the moment she had the power to get in his head, was the moment she’d start to push around his mind.

In his training, he’d steeped himself in any information he could find on the dark witch. He read articles, there were files and reports on encounters from the British Aurors, he even read through small correspondence that had been confiscated in investigations past between Death Eaters on their thoughts and feelings about her. As the Death Eaters were mostly comprised of unsavory men, the conversations were less than enlightened. In short, he knew all he could possibly know about Bellatrix before he came.

The addition of Andromeda proved to be the missing link he needed in his information, however.

He was surprised at how open she was to his questioning; about their childhood and their relationship. He learned about their parents, how they grew up, and how each of the sisters were received by their parents. There were gaps, as Andromeda was banished from their home once Ted came into the picture, but it helped to put some of Bellatrix’s story in context. He felt he had almost everything he needed to be successful.

Almost.

Time would tell if he was truly fit for the job. He believed he could make a difference here, but as he had said before, failure was mostly on his trajectory. He was mostly here for the journey of it.

It was time for him to be off. He found himself in a deep blue turtleneck sweater, slim black pants, and his favorite lace up boots. He grabbed his things and headed out of his comfortable hotel room to meet his new flatmates, Andromeda and Bellatrix, at their new home.


 

He got there in a flash, having known the location and seen it on a few visits with Andromeda to prepare the space, he was able to apparate to the locations. He knocked on the door, knowing they’d already be inside.

They had brought Bellatrix over in the dead of night as to not be on the roads with the bustle of the Wizarding Worlds. The transport had to be physical as everything needed to be logged from place to place with a prisoners transportation. The outside of the home was very unassuming, on the outskirts of any popular parts of the wizarding world. In fact, he was quite sure they’d even be able to find it on a map should they try. There was a small garden leading up a path to the front of the home. He walked up to the door with his things and knocked. Andromeda greeted him.

“Hello, Levi.” She seemed to have already made herself comfortable as she was already in a pair of jeans and casual button down that was open to show a white tee underneath.

“Feeling casual, Auror Black?” He smirked at her as he pulled his things in.

“Oh, please, I’ve had enough to deal with. It’s only one in the afternoon and I’ve already cracked open a butter beer dealing with that hellion upstairs.”

As if on cue, they heard a crash come from one of the rooms upstairs.

“Pleasant.” Levi said as he cocked his head. He settled his things in the living area and closed the door.

“Damn woman has only been screaming and thrashing since we’ve got here. I can’t even put a Muffliato up.” She began to speak in a squeaky voice of mimicry, “‘no, you need to hear her if she tries to leave or call others bleh bleh bleh’ There are no others! The Death Eaters didn’t even bloody well like her!” Something else crashed from upstairs.

“We might do well to keep our voices down, I think.” Andromeda scoffed at Levi’s words but stopped talking.

There wasn’t much to say about the modest flat. The aesthetic was charming, but dull. They wouldn’t be needing much out of it, just a place to stay and duel, really. Levi found himself feeling out of place, like he added too much to his surroundings. A living area to the right just when you walk in the door connected to a hallway with a staircase on one side, and the kitchen just to the back of it. There were four rooms to be had. One with a door on your immediate left, on this first floor, the other three upstairs. He assumed he’d be taking the first floor room. The three upstairs to be dedicated to the two sisters and the other a dueling space. As they made their way upstairs this was confirmed by Andromeda’s things already on a bed shown through an open door and the middle door be closed with a pacing shadow that could be seen by the small slit at the bottom of the door.

They ended up at the end cap of the hall, looking at the last vacant room.

“Do you think this size will do?” Andromeda asked of the empty room. It was the equivalent of the living area downstairs. She walked in and surveyed the space, Levi was just behind close to the doorway.

“I think this will do just fine.” He chuckled.

“And what, pray tell, will it do for?” Bellatrix appeared out of the shadows behind him. He felt a slight shiver crawl up his spine.

She looked...well. It seemed Andromeda was able to bring some of Bellatrix clothing to the space. She was in a black dress that, even without a corset, hugged her curves well. She was a little gaunt, from Azkaban, but there was a definite ghost of a full figure there. Her corset was cinched and hit just right under her bust. A bust that was narrowly covered by the sweeping neckline of the dress. Her boots were a classic lace-up with a pointy toe. A woman after Levi’s own style. Her hair, previously unkempt, was now neatly piled atop her head with a few curls hanging over her eyes and framing her face. Levi took note of all this within the moments she graced them with her presence.

“Bella, it’s time we discuss what Levi’s role with us is.” Andromeda spun round without missing a beat. Levi, with that prompt, summoned a set of chairs into the middle of the room.

Andromeda and Levi sat, Bellatrix continued to stand.

“Levi is here to...I suppose I’ll say it plain. Levi is here to study you.” Andromeda exhaled, ready for the onslaught.

Bellatrix’s eyes weren’t angry, but fully amused. She let out a full mouthed laugh.

“This...child?” She laughed again, “you’ve got some nerve, Andy. I didn’t think you’d stoop this low to occupy me.” Bellatrix now addressed Levi, “what is it that makes you think you can take me on, boy? Or do they just hate you enough to send you to your demise?”

Levi hadn’t removed his eyes from Bellatrix. The glint of rage and anger behind her eyes, even when amused transfixed him. She was so wild and exciting, and he was built for kindling.

“I think the point isn’t to take you on, but take you in. Knowledge is what I’m after. I want to hear what you think, what you thought, how you use your power.” She lightly furrowed her brow. He’d got her, “I’m here to learn.” He waved his arms to his sides in an open gesture then settled his hands in his lap.

“And why would I let you do that?”

“Because it gives you something to do.” He paused and shifted in his chair slightly, “and someone to hurt.”

Bellatrix perked up at the last statement. Andromeda quirked her brows at him. She was impressed.

“I’ve been given the very special honor of creating a special dueling charm for you, giving you back full use of most of your powers and your favorite curse. It would only be in this room and when I’m here, but judging by your...outbursts, it would be a nice change.”

Bellatrix snarled then and circled him, “you’re too clever for my taste.” She jumped at him, knocking the chair over. They fell to the floor with her hands encircling his neck.

Andromeda jumped, wand in hand but Levi lifted a hand to halt.

“Oh so confident I won’t snap your neck?”

He grimaced as the grip tightened. “I’m more confident that you’re curious enough to—“ she twisted her hands, “hear the rest of my proposal.” He struggled through the end of his sentence. Then, she loosened.

Bellatrix stood and walked to the empty chair while Levi regained his breath. Andromeda helped him up and replaced the chair. He sat.

She stared for a moment, then spoke, “what are you?”

“An auror…”

“No, were your parent of magical blood, American?”

“No, muggles.”

“A mud—“

“No one said they were my blood parents.”

“Smart ass.”

“You haven’t even got a good look at me ass yet.” he smirked. He was just trying to keep her on the hook, “my parents are of no importance, but if you want blood status, it’s what you’d call pure, if you’d like.”

“The prospect of cursing you...entices me.”

“One duel. Then you can decide if we continue. Deal?”

“Fine.”

Andromeda watch the battle of wits in awe but jumped at the chance to be out of the room, “well then, I’ll leave you to it. Levi, I am here if you need anything.” She looked between the two of them still trained on each other, “Levi?” He broke the stare, “anything, alright?” He nodded. Andromeda left.

And then there were two.

Chapter Text

It was an odd sensation, knowing your life could end at any moment. Knowing your life could end and by whom it would be ended. It wasn’t a new sensation, necessarily, for Levi, but it was the longest game of it he’d ever play.

The moment she’d agreed and Andromeda left the room, he revealed something. Something Bellatrix had been missing. Something that was critical to their next steps.

Her wand.

The warped wood, untouched from the time it was taken until they gave to him for safe-keeping until he would hand it over to the darkest witch ever to grace Azkaban’s halls. He presented it to her. She looked almost scared to take it, as if it was a trick. He pushed it forward in his palm and towards her. She finally took it with a snatch. She oggled at it. He stood and began to put up wards.

“Don’t try anything just yet. The wards the ministry put up stop your magic. You won’t be able to do anything until I fix them.” Undoubtedly she had already tried one wordless magic at his back.

Levi had taken about twenty minutes to put up his charmed wards. Once he was done, he sent his chair to the corner of the room with some quiet spell. He raised his eyebrow at Bellatrix as a challenge, she stood and banished her chair in kind.

“So, I just need to put one charm on you. Specifically.”

“What?”

“It links your cruciatus use to me.”

“You didn’t say anything about—“

“It’s just a precaution. So you can only use the curse with me and...on me.” He said it all with a calm voice, as if explaining to a student, steering away from complete condescension.

She surveyed him in all his confidence. She scoffed and waved him on.

“Excellent.” He came close to Bellatrix and slowly lifted his wand to her neck. “May I?” His hand was lifted to the other side of her neck as if he was going to rest his hand there.

“At risk of death, boy.” He sighed, then risked it.

He felt her jolt but immediately went into the charm. Bellatrix held her head straight as she felt an icy shock go down her back but then it left, replaced by a feeling of suspension.

Levi has closed his eyes, focusing on the intense charm work. He was inches from meeting her cheek to cheek.

They both then felt a satisfying click . He opened his eyes after a beat, then removed his hand and wand. He moved back, hands up as if away from a skittish animal.

“Try it.” He nodded curtly and braced himself.

“CRUCIO!” She let the light shoot from her wand right into his chest and he flew back. She stared at Levi in glee as he writhed and contorted for a time. And then he...stopped?

She watched him catch his breath and strain to crack his muscles.

“Perfect! How did that feel? They said it might take a couple of tries but I thought if I took my time we could make it the first time.”

Bellatrix was still confused, “how did you stop it? How did you do that?”

“Oh, it’s part of the link. I figured that one out myself. Useful, right? Now, we should start! We’ve got everything!” His excitement over rode his survival instincts.

She immediately threw a following cruciatus curse. The duel was on.

He stood up from this one ready for action. A whip sprung out from her wand and he dodged it. She was surprisingly still adept with her motions for the amount of time she spent in Azkaban.

It’s also a good amount of time to gather up a lot of aggression, he supposed.

She threw out a multitude of attacks at different angles and forms. Levi continued to be on the defensive.

“Throw a curse, you coward! You’re no fun.” Her whip sprung out, punctuating her disdain.

He dodged it with ease. He answered while dancing his way around the room, away from Sectum Sempras and babbled Cruciatus curses, “You know, when you’re battling a new opponent it’s always good to watch...” He put up a shield once more, then crouched and shot a stupefaction spell as her whip went at him. “...and learn.” She stumbled face forward. The whip transfigured back into her wand. She rolled out of the way, narrowly dodging his next offensive attack.

He spun into a sectum sempra, then shooting out a wordless blue light. She dodged the first, but was hit in the arm by the second. He saw a smirk spread over her face as she realized, the match she’d just entered.

“You’re a clever one, aren’t you?” They circled each other for a moment, wands drawn.

After what must have been a full minute, Bellatrix sent out the first shot, but not at Levi. her whip lashed out a wall fixture, pulling it from the wall directly at Levi’s head. He ducked just in time, but then as quickly as it came the whip withdrew. She sent a Crucio in his manipulated direction which hit him square in the chest. He landed on his back, curling in pain. She walked to stand over him.

“How’s that observation serving you now, boy?” She cackled. In her musing, the cruciatus wore off. He took a moment before showing it and then a leg kicked out, leaving Bellatrix on her back, the cackle knocked out of her. He straddled her waist, wand drawn at her neck.

“Pretty well, how ‘bout you?” He smiled down at her. She wasn’t strong enough yet to push him off of her, but he knew with some time, they’d be physically matched as well. Once all her sneering and jeering was done, Levi lifted off of her and held out his hand to let her up.

He knew she was going to land another curse on him, so as she stood, he spun her around and exalted a close range, “Expelliarmus.” Her wand went flying from her hand and they were left standing with Levi’s hand around her waist with her arms locked under his hold.

Bellatrix broke loose and growled, “You’ve just been lucky this time. Azkaban left me…” She shook her arms and pulled back her shoulders to regain her composure. “Rusty. But this will not happen again.”

“Will there be an ‘again’, then?” Levi smirked standing with his wand by his side and free hand in his pocket.

“You didn’t have to duel me to know that. I’d rather play listen to ‘Dromeda recite those damn case files for an eternity than go back to Azkaban. This will be much more fun.” She picked up her wand and felt her magic course through it. She sighed. “Do I get to keep any of it when you’re away?”

Levi heard a child’s voice in that moment. Sad and desperate. He was sympathetic to it. He couldn’t help his empathy. “No. Not yet. But your cooperation will make it easier for me to make a case for small things.”

Her snarl was back, “Now I have to grovel to an American. How crude.”

He walked towards the door. “You’ll need a training area, though, won’t you? To get your strength back. I could leave you here for a moment to make it to your liking. I’ll be down the hall. You have half an hour. Don’t waste it.”

He saw her eyes roll deep into her brain but decided he’d leave it be. He knew she’d use the time, even if she didn’t appreciate him, she appreciated her magic. He left the room and closed the door, giving her the space. He immediately heard four curses stream from her, but then furniture screeches were heard. He didn’t know where she was conjuring it from, but decided not to ask.

A half hour passed, Levi walked back into the room. The walls were now a charcoal gray, there were sparring weapons on the wall, and a few empty frames. He supposed it was just her way of adorning a space. The floors had also been darkened to a deep cherry wood. He’d have to ask the charm she’d used for that.

“It looks...very you.” She scoffed at him. “Might I add a few things? I’ll stay...in theme.” He didn’t wait for an answer. He conjured a few cushioned mats, which he was positive she murmured pansy in response to, and a black ballet barre. That was more personal. On a small wall between to window, he affixed a mirror. He pulled the barre there and then nodded his completion.

“Vain arsehole.” He just smirked at her comments. He began to take the wards down.

Bellatrix left without another word. Outside of the wards her powers were void, so as the wards came down there was no longer an appeal for her to stay.  

Progress , Levi thought to himself.

Tomorrow was another day.

Chapter Text

“Fuck!” Levi fell with a thud, shot back by powerful and wordless blue sparks from Bellatrix’s wand.

“You’re losing your edge, boy!” She rang out a cackle.

“I just don’t understand what that spell is! How are you shooting those off so close together?” Levi was at a stand still with Bellatrix as she was more interested in dueling than sharing method. He was hoping after the first month or so she’d be more inclined to get bored and start to speak with him.

It was now week five and knocking him on his ass seemed to still be her favorite past time.

“No time to talk, we only have a few minutes left, and then I have to stare at a wall until tomorrow.”

“Bellatrix…”

“Up, up, up! Levicorpus!” Levi lifted off the ground.

“Bellatrix! Put me down!” She did. Abruptly. He shot a spell out in frustration, “ Expelliarmus!” Her wand shot from her hand.

Accio wand!” He grabbed it mid air, pocketed it and began to take down his wards. He was done today.

“Sore loser.” She stormed off. He heard a door slam and breaking porcelain.

He didn’t know how he was going to break through the barriers she built anymore. He’d made it this far just to plateau at her destructive tendencies, learning nothing more than two or three spells, but no methods. Observing her first hand was like watching a television program with no plot, unlike being able to stare at collected data and find the commonalities.

He needed a new strategy.


It was about three hours later when he knocked on her door with dinner.

He’d spoken to Andromeda about what he should do whilst they’d eaten theirs.

“She’s just not responding. I understand she may not trust me, but if she wants to stay out of Azkaban she has to cooperate at least a little.” He threw his fork down after a bite.

“This is really getting to you, isn’t it?” Andromeda seemed almost surprised. She’d never really seen him shaken. This was almost funny to her. Almost because he was right, if she didn’t cooperate soon the program would end and her sister would be back in a cell. Why did she care? It baffled her. The amount of atrocities Bella had committed were insurmountable, but she was still her sister. And somehow, Andromeda’s heart still beat for her.

Andromeda took a couple more bites of her food thinking as Levi sat back in his chair, looking far away.

“Okay, try this.” Andromeda levitated Bella’s dinner to Levi and spoke again, “take her dinner and lay everything out with absolutely no remorse. Don’t let her speak, because if she speaks she’ll deflect.” She stood and paced as she continued, “at the end, say ‘if the end comes with no resolution, so shall the world.’ then simply leave. Do not let her speak to you. Just leave.”

Levi couldn’t say he understood completely but he would do as he was told. He was out of ideas and the healing was becoming just as laborious as the fighting. He hadn’t the energy to keep doing this.

So here he was, knocking on Bellatrix’s door, with a plate of food and a mission.

The door flung open, “Evening, Bellatrix. Might I have a word?”


Bellatrix didn’t really have a choice in the matter. Levi pushed passed her, sitting her food next to her bed and sitting in a lone chair at a vanity she’d more than likely broken the mirror of 100 times over since being here.

“Get. Out. ” He crossed his legs in the chair; he wasn’t going anywhere. She stayed by the door, clenching her fists.

“I may not have a wand but I wouldn’t need one to—“

“I just have a proposal and then I’ll be out of your hair.” He held his hands out at either side of his face, giving a casual shrug. She moved only slightly away from the door, crossing her arms.

“I don’t—“

“If you don’t cooperate soon you’ll be back in Azkaban. I have two weeks to deliver a report that says more than ‘subject unresponsive’ or else my superiors will pull funding and support. I’d like to not only prove I can do my job but also keep you out of that cell.”

“Fuckall if you—“

He held up one finger pointedly at her as he looked over his glasses, “now, I’m not saying you have to, but what I am saying is it would be mutually beneficial if you found yourself, tomorrow, more talkative and helpful than you have been in the last few weeks. The war is over. Blood has been spilled. Your dark lord is gone, as is his predecessor Grindlewald. There’s no one to follow into oblivion anymore.”

She looked on at him fuming. He needed to get out of there. He stood, hands in his pockets, and walked towards the door, passing an eerily static Bellatrix. He stopped at the door turning to speak at her back.

“I’m just offering you the lead on the rest of your life. I’ll follow you.” He clicked the door open, heading out of the line of fire. “If the end comes with no resolution, so shall the world.”

As he left, he could hear her body turn with a small gasp. He didn’t look to see her stunned expression.


The next morning he found himself in the sparring room early, placing up the wards.

When Bellatrix came in about a half hour later, before he could greet her, she put her hand up, “listen, boy. I’m in no mood to play nice with you, but I will do this. I will do this if it will keep me out of those damn cells.”

His eyes went wide and he fought back a smile. He was genuinely surprised that worked. He wondered what Andromeda’s words meant to Bellatrix but he wouldn’t pry. He got what he needed. Maybe sooner or later she’d trust him enough to share.

“Now, where would you like to start, American ?”

They spoke through mind tricks today, as that and her favored unforgivable curse were her most useful tools. She gave him a detailed account of her acclaimed victims, the Longbottoms. He tried to be objective but it was so brutal to hear their demise laid out in this calculated manner.

“Pain isn’t always the most useful, not when you start. Not with prideful and self assured gits like those two. No, you show them what’s happening out there, without them. Without their help. With the things they can no longer control.” She looked off into the distance, recalling the incidents. Levi studied her and wrote his account with his own hand while another enchanted quill took things down word for word. It seemed counterproductive to on lookers, but it was just his way. He needed to synthesize what he was hearing.

“I would bring back pieces from their fallen members. From rescue missions sent for them. I once brought Fignus Scap to them, a head Auror on their side undercover as a death eater, to show them that not even a pure blood and talented wizard could penetrate the walls of The Dark Lord’s fortress. Not without consequence. They were nothing here. And their entire posse was so weak, they threw the best they had just to get two weak willed prats back.” He flinched at that.

“Is this bothering you, Leviathan?”

He shook his head, “continue.”

She smirked at his clearly uncomfortable form and continued.

“It was after five days the Order stopped sending rescue missions. Their numbers had dwindled and the Longbottoms were weak. Now we could ask them their plans. Now pain would play a part.”

Levi wished he had a cigarette to finish out this story.

“The first crucio came as a surprise. At the husband first, the wife was stronger. We asked them where the Order was. Where the Burrow was hidden. It actually only took four hours to break them down. The rest was just fun.” Her smile was brimmed with ruthlessness.

“Why continue?” Levi asked, shielding his emotion well.

“Because we had to make a point. We had to make sure we showed them how fragile their morals were. How weak their stance was when faced with hopelessness. Their collective weakness was hope. We all exploited that. I just happened to do it best.”

Levi nodded, writing his notes. There was a long silence so he looked up at Bellatrix wondering if she was done. She caught his eyes instead, piercingly. Holding him there.

“Hope was a false cure; a salve for a festering wound. I spurred the disease along. And when we brought the Longbottoms back to the Order, on the Burrow’s doorstep, we’d broken a foundation. You could feel the balance tip.” Her eyes sparkled at her achievement, Levi was almost intoxicated by her wonderment, but he couldn’t shake the eerie, inexplicably evil tone of what she’d just shared. She broke the gaze.

“It just wasn’t tipped far enough, I suppose. In the end.”

That was enough for that day. They dueled one duel, which was rewarding for both of them, as it seemed Levi was angrier than he assumed about what she’d shared, knocking Bellatrix back on multiple occasions. Then they were done for the day.

As he took down the wards, Bellatrix spoke at his back, “Will you tell my sister…” she paused, causing him to turn. “It will resolve, and so shall we.”