No, you don't need to pinch yourself this is an update! If anyone has seen my updates that know I have been writing some other fics for a few months, but, while I have been considering this for a while, I have had some trouble getting into this again. I have had a few chapters written in advance for a while but, after some positive reviews, I have decided to update again. I'm unsure how often I will update in the future, though this is at least a positive, right?
Power was something Antonin Dolohov had always sought. He had always possessed a deep desire to control his own destiny and the most effective way to do that was to control others. He had never wanted to be seen as weak and he had always worked at his own skills to ensure that never happened. After finding minimal satisfaction in most other facets of magic, the Dark Arts had drawn him in like a moth to a flame. He had spent years teaching himself with every book he could find, but even that was not enough, and his desire grew. He had travelled the world searching for an answer, but ironically, he had found the answer when he had returned to Britain in the form of a man only fifteen years older than himself who had just been beginning to be known as Lord Voldemort.
Even then, the Dark Lord was a mighty and intelligent man. He had taught him the knowledge he had desperately sought and the power he had desired and, in return, Antonin had gifted his master his eternal loyalty. A vow he was too proud to ever renege on.
Antonin never did and, even out of all the advancements he was gifted in the circle of Death Eaters, it is only now that his loyalty has been completely rewarded. Bella and Antonin had originally shared the position as Minister, though she had always been the true controller. However, two weeks after they had began their shared position, Bella had disappeared, only appearing momentarily to declare she would be absent for a while.
The other Death Eaters had scoffed at her perceived weakness in her leaving, but Antonin had understood. He could still envisage the dead look in her eyes and he knew how badly she needed to leave this place and the memories for a while. It did not hurt that it left him as the de facto Minister of Magic.
The title tasted so sweet against his lips, even if he knew it would not last for very long.
Creatures scampered over the dirt path that slinked under the thick foliage of trees that blocked the sight of the sky from below. A dark haired woman stalked along the path, in complete darkness, except for the light coming from her wand. The forest was mostly silent and, any time the crush of leaves sounded, her dark eyes and the light from her wand darted to observe the source. A small squirrel was revealed and she tutted in annoyance.
It was not what she sought.
She moved the light of her wand back to the path and continued walking swiftly, batting away overreaching branches with flicks of her wand. The figure only stopped when her feet found the base of a thick log blocking her path. She did not hesitate and, leisurely, she stepped up onto it to jump over. One of her feet found the ground on the other side comfortably, but, unbeknown to her, one of her heeled foot got stuck in a knot in the wood. It over balanced and she fell face first into the dirt below.
She raised her head that was now spotted with dirt and painted with annoyance.
"Bellatrix," hissed a voice coming from the woman to the empty forest. Yet, it was not the voice of Bellatrix that left her body, but a more masculine and colder tone with a slight snake like hiss.
No response was issued from any figure in the darkness only a series of feminine laughs sounded around the body's mind, like a second person was present. It was here, inside the mind that they shared, that the male voice spoke.
"Why could you not decide on something more appropriate to wear?" the male voice snapped as it took control and pushed the body into a standing position.
"I apologise, my Lord. I just dressed in the way I normally would. I did not realise there would be any problems with my choice of footwear," Bella's voice echoed around the shared mind in response. She tried to be serious, but the slight hint of humour in her voice was evident. "Would you prefer me to take control of the legs or something?"
"No," replied the Dark Lord's voice. He had always prided himself on being in control of any situation, no matter how unusual. He was the Dark Lord and there was nothing he could not achieve.
The Dark Lord and Bellatrix had been in this situation for two weeks, ever since he had convinced Bella that he was real and not a figment of her grief stricken imagination. He had been relying on the same process that had revived him six years ago: Flesh, Blood and Bone had worked once and he was confident it would again. It was also an advantage that a competent servant who had a body he could possess was assisting him. Unlike Wormtail who, as he was considered dead by the majority of the world, was too conspicuous to be sited in public. Moreover, the idea of possessing the rat was nauseating, even to the Dark Lord.
However, Bella's body was perfect for the task. Since they had been working, he had spent little time not possessing her, but she had not complained. It was certainly unusual. With Bella's Occluemency skills she could simply force him out of her body, but no such thought ever crossed her mind.
Loyalty was something the Dark Lord expected from all of his followers: Never question him and follow his orders without hesitation. He was the most powerful man in the world and they all should understand that. Many Death Eaters had done as he had bidden, but Bella had always gone up and beyond any of his expectations. Anything he would even hint at, she would do without question. He assumed she would even go so far as to sacrifice her own life if he ordered. How could anyone surrender such power and loyalty to another? He would consider her a fool, if he knew she was far from it.
This present situation was proving it over and over again. Rookwood, Dolohov, Mulciber and others had been just as loyal to him after his death and never betrayed him, but not in the same way as Bella. She had been depressed, she had given him her body (and not in their usual way) and, now, complete access to her mind. As they now shared a body, it was difficult for him to keep his thoughts to himself with Occluemency as there were now no physical barrier to utilise, but Bella had no such options. Since it was naturally her body, if she even attempted Occluemency it would eject him from the body.
No privacy, no control, no hesitation and valuing someone's life so much higher than her own. How did that make any sense? Even scanning her thoughts provided no answers: She thought about him often (he was almost always the topic of her thoughts), but through all the fondness, obsession, worship and attraction there was no answer to his question. The Dark Lord was even beginning to doubt that she could ever betray him. Though, was it ever possible to rely on something like that? Yet, was relying on something so intangible like an object similar to relying on a person?
His eyes scanned the forest as he continued walking careful to avoid impaling either heeled foot into any of the debris that littered the forest floor. After a few moments, he heard the familiar sound of a something smooth sliding over and crushing leaves to his right. Automatically, he shone Bella's wand in that direction and the light made a pair of eyes gleam through the foliage. The eyes moved, as did the rest of the target, until it slithered out of the bushes. He smirked examining his target: An adder, it would work well.
"Stop," he hissed out loud in Parseltongue. It was strange; the hissing language felt unnatural from Bella's lips. The creature froze at the sound of its own tongue being heard from a human's body. Cautiously it raised its head with a large dark diamond on its snout. "Come here little one. It is alright. I do not have any intentions of hurting you."
The serpent obeyed after only a moment's hesitation. It changed direction and drew closer to Bella's body. The Dark Lord crouched down and stared at it. It was very small, about the length of Bella's forearm, and seemed so miniscule compared to Nagini's large girth and long length. He extended Bella's fingers and stroked the head of the snake, it hissed quietly in delight. Snakes were such beautiful creatures. It was a shame that were hated, but not feared. No, they deserved the fear. The fear was good.
Slowly, it slithered up Bella's wrist and moved around her shoulder where it settled content in the black material of their robes. The Dark Lord was thankful Bella was not squeamish or fearful of snakes. It would have frustrated him to no end if she persisted to whine.
He turned on his heel (which was more difficult with his current footwear) and started to walk back to his house. They had only ventured to the forest around his house knowing that there were snakes there. He hissed reassurances to the confused serpent on his shoulder while he went. There was no point scaring what he knew was a creature he needed.
"What is next master?" questioned Bella hesitantly from inside their mind as if she was afraid of the repercussions of disturbing him.
"Just to add the venom to the potion we have had resting for two days."
"That shall give you the temporary body you mentioned was in the form of a baby."
"Indeed. Then all we need is the bone from the grave I mentioned and blood from the target, which you shall obtain after I have transformed."
The Dark Lord felt excitement bubble up from Bella at the mention of the 'target'. She had eagerly made her suggestion and he had found it rather appropriate.
"Thank you my Lord," she whispered quietly and drifted to the back of their mind. He was thankful that she had enough sense to not annoy him. He could admit that she was a good servant in that way.
A few days later, the plan he had outlined had gone off without a hitch. The Dark Lord was now in a body of his own, or at least a partial one. The baby shape was weak, but it gave him some space, even if he could not do anything for himself.
He stretched out his weak limbs over the bed where Bella had placed him. The bed was so large compared to his body it was ridiculous. He could barely see anything under the blankets.
From his limited vision, he saw the top of the wooden door slide open and, as the figure drew closer and he saw Bella's aristocratic, but worn face.
"My Lord," she called in the form of a greeting, bowing as she did so. "The task is complete, Master. He is in the dungeons."
"Good," he hissed, his voice quiet and obviously weak, no matter how much as he tried to hide it.
He nodded in dismissal and she bowed again before collecting her clothes from the corner and disappearing into the bathroom. The Dark Lord turned his gaze to the snake that lazed beside him. It raised its head before it went back to sleep. Like previously, he still needed the serpent's venom, but he could admit it was nice to have another serpent around now Nagini was gone. It was unusual. In some ways he missed her company; perhaps it was because she contained such a large part of himself. He was not quite used to desiring the company of anyone, even a snake.
A few minutes later, Bella reappeared dressed now in a simple night gown. She lowered her head to him submissively, before she lifted the covers and lay beside him. She shuffled closer to him, so that she was as close as possible without actually touching him. He could see the barely suppressed glee evident on her face.
He cursed the foetus body and allowed her body warmth to drift over him. His weaknesses were infuriating: His spell casting was feeble, he needed a body close at night to warm him or he would freeze, and he needed feeding twice a night. When Wormtail had been his career, all of those tasks had been unbearable; the rat was ridiculously clumsy with his arm shaking in fear any time he carried him. At night, it had been worse: The rat had horrible breath, snored and once he had managed to roll over on top of him. Thank Merlin, Bella had not drifted to those low standards. Her only problem was that she seemed to exhibit too much joy assisting him, as if she wanted him to be in this body for longer, so she could continue to care for him
Bella's dark eyes remained transfixed on his form. The Dark Lord turned to her and her cheeks turned slightly pink, before she removed her gaze to lie on her back. He was in a hideous foetus like body and she still managed to have such strong attraction to him. A smile creped over his thin and purple tinged lips, perhaps it was time Bella deserved some reward. After all, he was rather impressed with her at the moment.
"You have done well Bella," he said quietly and immediately she turned to him. Her gaze was drawn to him and her face was flush once more. The Dark Lord stretched out its brittle fingers to stroke her cheek. Even in his hideous form, she still leaned in to savour his touch.
He could hear her how her breathing became heavier and see how close she leaned in. Steadily the Dark Lord lowered his fingers to her trembling lips, down her neck to the lace of her nightgown. He could feel Bella's heart rate increase and he could sense her begging for more. He removed his hand and she opened her eyes, every inch of her dark eyes was wishing for the continued contact. He did not comply. He moved his hand to the bed and, with great difficulty, (considering the body he was in) turned away from her. There was no point giving into her silent request. In his body he would gain no pleasure from it, so why would he bother?
"Good night my Lord," she whispered silently. He did not respond. He never did.
Resting on the small lounge, her legs dangling on the other end of the arm chair, Ginny idly flicked through the magazine she held a little above her head as she read. Living in her elder brother's house in rather cramped arrangements, it was never quiet, so when Ginny got a moment of solitude to herself, it was a blessing even if she was naturally someone to gravitate to quiet times. In fact, she was often a cause of the noise, but, like everyone, there were times when she needed time to herself.
Adjusting the cushion behind her head, she was about to return to her magazine when a sudden shriek interrupted her.
"Harry!" It called loud and almost panicky. Ginny darted into a seating position, her brown eyes frantically flicking around the room.
"Harry!" It sounded again, but, this time, she found the source of the noise. Her magazines slipped from her grip and she practically leaped over the arm rest to fall to her knees in front of the fireplace.
A blonde haired head with a round face and pink cheeks stared back at her: Hannah Abbott. Ginny's own eyes were wide in surprise, but it was not comparable to the desperation and tears shining in Hannah's.
"Ginny! Is Harry there? Something has happened," Hannah continued before Ginny could even open her mouth. Hannah's voice was pain stricken and silently pleading.
Ginny felt her heart race, her mind darting through the possibilities of what could have occurred. Even though she was still so young, she had lived through so much that only the worst possible outcomes materialised in her mind
She wanted to help herself, though she knew, if Hannah wanted to speak to him, she should respect her wishes. "Yeah, sure I will just go and get him," Ginny said quickly, pushing herself to her feet before she dashed from the room, raising her voice as she moved. "Harry!"
She didn't need to wait long and, as soon as she stepped into the foyer, her call was answered when several figures cam facing out of the kitchen, alarm written over their faces and their wand gripped in their hands. "What's wrong?" Harry questioned immediately as he drew towards her.
She did not stop her own movements and met him in the middle and gripped his hand army tightly to tug him into the living room. "It's Hannah on the floo," she burst out, her tone insistent. "She just appeared and was begging to talk to you."
Harry only nodded and gently pulled free of her hold before he rushed into the room. Spotting Hannah's face, his expressions softened and he fell to the floor probably scraping his knees in the process. Ginny, along with Ron and Hermione, followed behind him looking back and forth between the two.
"Hannah what is wrong," Harry said gently, his green eyes focusing on her intently.
"Oh Harry," she said quietly and from what Ginny could see from her angle tears were already starting to fall down her pink cheeks. Her heart went out to the girl and all she wanted to do was to reach forward and to embrace her. "I hadn't heard from Neville in a few days so I went to check on him. His house-" She paused for a moment and let out a small sob. "There were things everywhere it looks like there has been a struggle."
The words stabbed at the heart of all three listeners, but Ginny couldn't tear her eyes away from Hannah's face. Please, she silently begged, just not Neville.
However, Harry did not seem to have the same hope or he was just more realistic and logical. He lowered his eyes and replied with a slight quiver in his voice. She knew how determined he was to always be strong for everyone else.
"Is-is there a body," he staggered quietly trying to be strong. Hannah could not reply and only shook her head. Harry's fists clenched and he stood. "Wait there we will come through. "
Hannah only nodded and allowed the tears to fall down her cheeks. Ginny felt her own eyes begin to water, but like Hermione and Ron she stepped forward without a second though. As they all hoped that Neville would not join the long list of casualties.