daylight savings won’t fix this mess
Bellatrix Black woke with a start, breath barely reaching her lungs as she gasped for air. Her hands clawed at her neck and her eyes bulged. She twisted wildly, her legs catching in her sheets as she thrashed around.
After what felt like an hour, she settled back against the bed.
Must have been some Quidditch party , she thought wryly, staring up at the green canopy above her bed. Her whole body ached painfully, particularly her left side, where the younger Winickus brother had accidentally redirected a bludger into her. She pushed herself into a sitting position. She’d just have to convince Andy to give her one of the good headache potions and maybe patch up her ribs.
Something tugged at the back of her mind, an oppressive darkness that must have been what woke her up in such a way. She scrubbed a hand over her face, eventually pulling at some of her more unruly curls that had broken free from her braid.
Pushing open her curtains, she glanced around the seventh year dormitory, which was strangely empty. There weren’t any trunks or posters. Not even Beth’s annoyingly cloying perfume hung in the air. It was just...empty.
Bellatrix dove to the ground, searching for her belongings, but there was nothing there.
Desperate, she shoved a hand under her pillow in search of her wand. She sighed in relief as the cool walnut met her fingers. Biting back a vicious curse, she stormed out of the room, ready to tear into whatever idiot messed with her belongings.
But the staircase was quiet and clean. Not at all how it should be after winning the Cup. Last night there had been streamers and butterbeer bottles and snogging couples. Now it was just abandoned.
Her heart pounded uncomfortably in her throat as she emerged into the common room.
“Alright, you filthy muggle-lovers, what have you…” Bellatrix’s voice faded away as she stared at the empty room. Like the staircases, it was completely abandoned. There was no trace of anybody. In fact, it seemed like how the common room looked at the beginning of term. But it was May.
Her wand now drawn, she tore back up the stairs, first to the third year dormitory in search of Narcissa. If whoever had pulled this stunt had touched either of her sisters, she would flay them alive, without magic. But it was empty. The beds were turned up, the pillows all stacked in one corner.
“Cissy!” She screamed, her voice breaking with the anxiety of her missing sister.
She checked every corner of the room before moving up to the fifth floor.
“Andy! Andromeda! This isn’t funny anymore!”
With a long string of curses, she burst back into the common room. She would just go to breakfast and then hex whoever had done this into the next millennium.
Casting a cursory glance around the empty common room, Bellatrix shook her head and left the Slytherin common room.
As the door slammed shut behind her, a newspaper fluttered down from one of the bookcases.
LORD VOLDEMORT DEAD; HARRY POTTER VICTORIOUS
Bellatrix practically sprinted up the narrow staircases that led to the Great Hall. The air was heavy with dust and magic; it crackled at her skin. It felt both unnatural and strangely familiar.
When she finally reached the Entrance Hall, her mouth fell open.
It was in ruins. Large parts of the ceiling lay broken on the ground and there was a dark smear that looked awfully like blood across the floor.
“What in Merlin’s name…” She trailed off as she saw a girl about her age emerge from behind one of the pieces of masonry. Her wand was in the air, directing a series of bricks back into the entryway. Bellatrix’s fingers curled around her own wand as she watched the girl. She didn’t even look vaguely familiar, but Bellatrix felt drawn to her.
Bellatrix’s foot caught on a bit of loose rock, causing the stone to clatter across the floor noisily.
The girl spun around sharply, her wand posed for dueling. Her eyes fell on Bellatrix and her mouth fell open. “Who are you? How did you get in here?” The girl’s wand remained firmly pointed at Bellatrix as she advanced on her, stepping deftly over the various chunks of rock.
Bellatrix, in response, raised her own wand, ready to jinx the girl if need be.
The other girl’s eyes flitted down to Bellatrix’s wand and her mouth fell open. “You!”
She brandished her wand violently at Bellatrix. If not for her Quidditch instincts, Bellatrix might have been another dark smear on the floor as a large piece of rock flew past where her head had been. “You are supposed to be,” the girl shot a fast series of stunners towards where Bellatrix lay, “dead!” she spat the last word along with a purple jet of light.
Bellatrix rolled to the side and threw up a shield. The spell glanced off into the wall behind her. The girl continued to throw curses at her, steadily advancing on her. Bellatrix, still disoriented by the state of the entrance hall, maintained a shield in front of her.
She swiped a hand across her eyes as dust continuously fell into them, partially blinding her.
Bellatrix came to her senses as a stunner nearly grazed her cheek. She narrowed her eyes and surged forward, casting a series of curses back at the other witch. “Who in Merlin’s name are you?”
The other witch was prodigious, nearly a match to Bellatrix’s own skill. The two witches exchanged curses until a particularly tricky bit of skill work ended with Bellatrix on the ground, her wand in the other girl’s hand.
“Get up.” The other girl jerked her wand at her violently. “I said, get up.” Bellatrix slowly stood to her feet, not too fond of the dark glint in the brunette’s eye. “ Incarcerous. ”
“What are you doing? Do you know who I am?” Bellatrix struggled against the thin ropes cutting into her wrists. The other girl shoved her forward, her wand pressed between Bellatrix’s shoulder blades.
“Unfortunately, yes, I do. Now move. We’ll go speak with McGonagall. I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to see you.” The other girl gripped her shoulder and dug her wand into Bellatrix’s back. Bellatrix hesitated for a moment before moving forward in the direction the girl pushed her. The pair walked in silence until Bellatrix made to turn towards the transfiguration classroom. The other girl let out a hiss and forced her the other way.
“You said McGonagall, right?”
“We’re going the wrong way.”
“No, we aren’t.”
“Do you even attend Hogwarts?”
“Past tense? When did you graduate?”
“Just shut up, okay?”
Bellatrix shrugged her shoulder, ignoring the pain shooting up her ribcage. “Whatever you want.”
The other girl led her through the hallways, which looked as if it had been ravaged by war. They came to a stop in front of the headmaster’s office, guarded by a gargoyle missing its beak. The other girl moved in front of Bellatrix, one hand still resting on Bellatrix’s shoulder. Bellatrix took the opportunity to study her captor more closely.
She was slightly taller than Bellatrix in height, but of a similar slim build. Her hair looked like it needed a good smoothing potion, but was otherwise a pretty brown color. Bellatrix traced down the girl’s outstretched arm on her shoulder.
A chill passed down Bellatrix’s spine as she studied the word. It had been carved into her skin, still pink and scabbing at points. She couldn’t tear her gaze away from the girl. Was she a mudblood? But she had been such a talented duelist. Her magic had overpowered Bellatrix. That couldn’t be.
The letters looked so familiar.
Why did they look...so… But then she was fading away. There was black forming around the edges of her vision. She was falling. She was falling. She was falling.
Bellatrix screamed. She screamed until her voice gave out. She screamed for her master, for her sister, for the deaths of her enemies. She cursed that fucking Weasley who had hit her. She cursed the Potter boy and his inability to die.
She sobbed. Tears coursed down her cheeks. She couldn’t remember the last time she had cried.
That was a lie.
She knew when the last time she had cried had been. It had been as she held Cissy when a letter arrived from her middle sister, announcing her marriage to that filthy mudblood. After that, she had forsworn tears. She would not shed tears over anybody else.
And yet here she was, surrounded by darkness, sobbing.
“Child.” The voice held the multitudes of the universe in it. It was timeless and ancient and it made Bellatrix want to claw her skin off. “Welcome.”
She tried to twist around to look at her surroundings but found herself frozen in place.
A figure emerged from the crushing darkness, a woman, but it was almost painful to look too closely at her face.
Bellatrix hissed, but it was not in anger but in fear. “Where am I?”
The ensuing chuckle felt as if it could level civilizations. “That depends I suppose, child. Do you follow a religion?”
“I know of the Old Gods and of those worshipped by foolish muggles.”
“All are close in their approximation of what happens next. But none are fully correct.”
“What am I doing here then? I’m dead.”
“I have long been curious about you, Bellatrix Agrippa Black. I have watched you since you were born. When you and your mother almost perished. I watched as you fought and dragged yourself back into the world of the living. Your cheeks turned pink and you wailed and I was intrigued. Your name. Bellatrix. The female warrior. You are at your core, a fighter. I have watched as you have fought through every moment of your life.”
The woman brushed a few fingers across Bellatrix’s cheek, her touch somehow burning and freezing at once.
A press of images overwhelmed Bellatrix, her eyes rolling back into her head.
“You fought to protect your sisters from the dangers of your father, from the darkness of your mother.”
Narcissa, aged five, braided daisies into Bellatrix’s dark hair while Andy wove crowns of flowers for them.
Andromeda, her face smiling and so similar to Bellatrix’s own. The pair of them curled in one bed, giggling, whispering secrets.
“You fought to prove yourself.”
The rapid-fire images of her sorting, her first Quidditch cup, her dueling championships.
The images disappeared as a voice she had not heard in many years said, “You could be brilliant, Bellatrix, but you must choose your own path. Do not allow others to control your destiny.”
“Of course not, Professor McGonagall.”
“If you do not wish to go through with this wedding, you will always have a place with me.”
A warm smile, a cup of tea.
“You fought to save yourself from pain, even though it meant throwing yourself into the fire.”
The burn of the dark mark. Her Lord’s hissed words of praise.
But then, Rodolphus’ face looming over her. She tried to scream but there was no sound.
“But in your fight for survival, you have lost your soul.”
Bellatrix’s eyes were forced open and she found the woman so close to her face she ought to have been able to feel her breath, but there was no air.
“I have lost nothing, but my Lord!” Bellatrix spat out, her hands curling into fists at her side.
That laugh came again and Bellatrix wanted to curl into a ball.
“You have lost everything. But fret not, child. Of all those who have died today, you shall be the only one to receive a second chance.”
“To stand by my master.” She stated.
Something hissed across her cheek, leaving pain in its wake. “Foolish child. You will have a chance to redeem yourself. You have left a scar across your world. And you will repair it.”
“I did my best to serve my Lord! I will not apologize for that! Release me!”
Something gripped her head tightly as if it were pressing her further into the darkness. “You will return but it will not be as you currently are. I will return you to before you were tainted, but you will not forget what you have done. You will live with the weight of your actions.”
The darkness pressed down upon her, forcing her back into nothingness.
“How could she be here, Professor?” Hermione asked, wringing her hands in her lap. “We all saw her die. I saw them bury her body. She was gone.”
Her gaze remained fixed on the girl lying prone on a hospital bed, her dark hair spilled across the pillow. The face was the same in structure as the one that haunted her dreams, but it was the youthfulness that was throwing Hermione. She looked innocent, harmless, nothing like the dark witch that had died barely a week ago.
“I’m not sure, Miss Granger.”
She cast a glance to her professor, who looked stricken. “Time turner accident?”
“It is possible, I suppose. But I don’t know where she could’ve gotten one. If I had to estimate her age, I would say she is from her last year of school, maybe soon after.”
“Is that before she became a Death Eater or after?” Hermione didn’t even attempt to keep the sneer off her face. She could, for all of her brainpower, not comprehend a Bellatrix Lestrange who was not evil and madness incarnate. “Or was she always evil, Bellatrix Lestrange?”
The look McGonagall pinned her with would’ve made eleven-year-old Hermione practically burst into tears. It made seventeen-year-old Hermione curl in on herself in shame.
“At this time in her life, she went by Bella Black, star chaser of the Slytherin Quidditch Team, top of her class, generally known as the brightest witch of her age,” McGonagall cast a meaningful glance towards Hermione as she said the phrase that had followed Hermione since her first year at Hogwarts. “Miss Black graduated with 11 Outstandings on her NEWTs, and then was immediately betrothed to Rodolphus Lestrange and the rest is, as they say, history. The Bella Black I knew was fiercely loyal to her sisters, to a fault. Had a temper and was alone more often than not. She spent a shocking amount of time in the library and was known for having a smart mouth in most of her classes.”
“Oh,” was all Hermione could manage to say, her chest tight. The image McGonagall painted of a young Bellatrix sounded so achingly familiar, she couldn’t help but wonder what caused that girl to turn into the woman she would become.
“Yes, very much so. I’m going to consult with my predecessors to see if we can’t come up with a solution for young Miss Black here.” McGonagall stood to her feet, a world-weariness still pressing against her shoulders. “Do send a Patronus if she wakes or anything changes.”
McGonagall patted Hermione on the shoulder kindly before leaving the hospital wing.
Hermione redirected her focus back to the dark witch in front of her, studying her still features.
How could the girl that McGonagall described be here in 1998, 30 years out of time?
She studied the pair of walnut wands in her hands. At first glance, they were indiscernible, but upon further inspection, or in the hands of someone who knew the wand as well as Hermione did there were noticeable differences.
For starters, one had taken far more abuse, a result no doubt due to its wielder's many duels. There was one long, thin gouge near the handle, however, that was shared by both wands.
But far more telling was the feeling that tugged at Hermione as she held the one she had been using. It felt powerful, but a powerful darkness that threatened to overwhelm all else. The other wand felt equally powerful, but without the suppressive darkness.
This was a wand that had never tortured Neville’s parents to madness. Had never murdered muggles for sport. Had never killed Sirius. Had never caused so much destruction.
And, Hermione concluded, neither had the girl in front of her.
But she would, Hermione thought with a shake of her head. This girl would still become Bellatrix Lestrange. She would still do all of those horrible, dark, evil things.
She was still evil, and Hermione would be damned if she let her upset the new peace that had finally settled in the wizarding world.