This is a repost of the 29th chapter of All According to Plan. Since the POV character is a bloody god, some might find it mildly confusing. Hence, this little cheat sheet. At the beginning of each paragraph, Leigha put in a heading identifying exactly where this bit is happening:

[X] = narration outside of a specific context

[A] = at Azkaban (AAtP universe)

[B] = at Hogwarts (AAtP universe)

[C] = at Hogwarts (in a possible future of Children of Hecate, fic in planning stages)

Italics without quotation marks — some version of Bellatrix (/Lyra) thinking

Italics with quotation marks — Eris talking to Lyra/Bellatrix in their heads; Lily talking to Eris

*NOTE: This is based on a previous draft, not the final, fully edited version. So don't bother pointing out typos, we probably caught them in the final version. Not proofreading it twice, bluh.*

*Also, if you want to just read straight through one conversation, then another, Lysandra suggests you just ctrl-f the square-bracketed paragraph headings.*

[X] Meanwhile, on a very different plane of existence, the consciousness which called itself Eris narrowed its focus to two very particular dedicates, in a single universe and time. This was easier said than done, especially tonight, when there were so many other interesting things going on everywhere, but for her Bellatrices she would do it.

[X] One was sitting in a terrible, boring little room, cut off from all magic but Eris's, speaking to the youngest Black metamorph, the one who insisted she wasn't really a Black. The other leaned against a tree at the edge of a clearing, giggling as she watched the children of Hogwarts lose their inhibitions at her invitation. Their voices and music rose in volume as they came together in lust and violence, giving in to the impulses they always felt, but never acted upon, their minds and magic turned toward Chaos, supporting them, raising the peak of their strength ever higher — supporting her — though few of them knew it.

[B] Are you ready yet? that one asked, her tone full of giddy excitement, her mind flickering between half a dozen different topics — the problem of adjusting the boundary of her circle, now that everyone in the uncovered part of the clearing had either joined the ritual or left (no reason to waste half the space); the presence of all of Chaos (and more distantly, the Dark as a whole) focusing on her, rather than just Eris; the way the light magic of Choice danced around her, careful not to touch her, burn her — she'd long since made her Choice — but intoxicatingly close (mostly ignoring the self-destructive impulse to reach out and touch it); things she might see in the memories of the Bellatrix of this universe; the beauty of the night, all shadows and magic; everything she planned to accomplish once the Other Bellatrix was free to join forces with her; the triumph of her rune-cast firestarting charm (and the reckless joy that accompanied the decision to demonstrate such a skill before any number of potentially untrustworthy witnesses).

[B] "Almost," Eris responded, narrowing her focus even more tightly, bringing all of her attention and strength to bear on the Bellatrix native to this universe. [A] The Bellatrix who, even cut off from her as she was, was still creating chaos in her name, harnessing the energy of Walpurgis to break every lock on her prison island, returning the investment a dozen times over as the captives ran wild, overwhelming their guards with sheer numbers. Not that they would stay free for long, the madmen were too disorganized to truly fight, and the aurors had magic on their side.

[A] It was so annoying to be able to peer in on this one so distantly, and not be able to speak to her directly, her mind laboring under his artificial restrictions. Well, not anymore, she thought, throwing herself at the block he'd built as she'd longed to do since she first realised how it was stifling her connection to the girl.

[A] It shattered, the concretion of compulsions and memories woven through them breaking into innumerable pieces, clearing the way for her to renew her connection with her dedicate properly. Of course, all the points to which it had been anchored in the Bellatrix's mind were also broken and torn asunder, but they'd get to that. First she had to copy the memories — referential knowledge was easy, she could just seize it and pull, but the experiences, those she actually had to get in order, so she would know how to give them back (in a way that would make sense from a human perspective).

[A] A task which would be much easier if..."Could you stop focusing on being in agony, just for a few minutes? It's very distracting."

[A] Eris? What the fuck? Bellatrix couldn't remember the last time Eris had spoken directly into her mind.

[A] "I'm sure we'll find that memory eventually."

[A] We? Eris, what are you doing to me? Tendrils of irritation and giddiness coiled through the pain in Bellatrix's head, the confused mess that had just been made of her mind.

[A] "Fixing you."

[A] ...Since when do you fix anything? And what exactly do you think is wrong with me?

[A] "Right now, and I'll tell you later."

[A] But—

[A] Before Bella could finish her thought, the metamorph cast a bolt of magic at her, dragging her into unconsciousness. Probably just as well, this would be easier if the witch was unable to fight against her burning of the compulsions (and everything else that got in the way).

[B] What about now? Lyra asked. Eris was fairly certain her timing was entirely coincidental, though there was a small chance some echoes of her current focus were bleeding into the young dedicate, given the circumstances. They had been practicing that sort of thing for weeks, now.

[B] Eris sent a wave of amusement at the girl. "No, but I suppose if you really want to do something so badly..."

[B] She didn't need Lyra to articulate her response — she hardly ever did. Lyra knew this, Eris responded to ill-defined passing thoughts all the time, whenever they caught her attention. But it was true that thoughts were more likely to attract her attention if they were specifically addressed to her, and intentionally defined, so Lyra (like many of her Bellatrices) had made a habit of thinking at her as though they were actually holding a verbal conversation. Yeah! Let's do this!

[B] "Well, hold onto your knickers then, darling."

[B] Zee said wearing knickers to Walpurgis was entirely pointless.

[B] "Mirabella Zabini is entirely shameless." Eris did enjoy that girl. She wasn't one of theirs — those people naturally inclined toward chaos — her soul resonated far more clearly with selfish Solitude. She was, however, very good at convincing other humans to freely give her...whatever she decided she wanted, really — often to her advantage, of course, but equally often simply because she could. Her little games were so amusing Eris didn't even mind when the minx worked her manipulative charm on her Bellatrices. (Besides which, the Bellatrices' own manipulative abilities tended to benefit immensely from their associations with Mirabellas.)

[B] Whatever. Consider my hypothetical knickers figuratively braced.

[X] Eris sniggered, wrapping her consciousness around Lyra's entirely, careful not to snuff it out — normally their contact was, well, not superficial, her connection with her Bellatrices was far deeper than she'd established with any of her other dedicates, presumably because little Bella always made her Choice based on the resonance of her soul, rather than some conscious decision. But normally her presence within Lyra's mind and body was far less intrusive. Enough that her strength had a tendency to bleed over into the girls at this time of year, yes, and enough that most of them were far more aware of magic than any rational human had a right to be, but not enough to disrupt the connection between their consciousnesses and their bodies. Eris was always present, but she left control in the humans' hands.

[X] Engulfing Lyra's consciousness entirely, pulling it down into herself, directing it into the part of her that was connected to the Bellatrix native to this dimension, did disrupt that control, leaving her body fully under Eris's command, which was...strange. It was almost as difficult to pilot this thing as it was to allow Lyra to manipulate that particular extension of herself directly. The first time they'd tried it, she'd let the stupid thing pass out from lack of oxygen almost immediately. (The sudden shadow of boredom in the imminent futures of this universe had unnerved Eris so badly she'd instantly shoved Lyra back into it, giving her a rather serious migraine.) In her defense, the few times she'd actually "possessed" a dedicate in the past, the contact had borne much more resemblance to her usual degree of contact with Lyra (and most of the other Bellatrices), just enough to actively influence their thoughts and actions (if she wanted to, she hardly ever had), not actually operating the stupid fleshy bits herself. And when she created 'physical' constructs for herself, they were little more than a hollow shell of glamoury and illusion, real enough to humans' perception, but far easier to operate.

[X] After a bit of practicing, she'd figured out how not to stifle the autonomic processes of the body, letting it take care of the breathing and blinking and digestion, and the particular muscle extensions and contractions required to move from point A to point B without any conscious input at all, from her or Lyra, which just seemed odd. It was very convenient, however, and neatly explained how humans, unaccustomed to focusing on more than one thing at a time so consistently, managed not to simply die. (Which she had to admit, she had been rather curious about — it had taken her Bellatrices years to learn how to think about two or three things simultaneously, and as far as Eris could tell, she was one of the more intelligent ones.) She was already familiar with the sensory inputs from observing her Bellatrices, and once she'd managed to fully assimilate the idea that balancing would take care of itself, she'd figured out walking relatively quickly. Speaking had required rather a lot more practice than she'd expected, however; all of the bits involved were so finicky, and then there was the breath-control necessary — actively controlling the breathing without accidentally quashing the other automatic functions was unexpectedly tricky.

[X] Now that she had the basics down, however, she was quite certain she could control any number of the meat puppets, as necessary. They could certainly have kept to the usual time travel schedule. When Lyra went back in time, there were just temporarily a few more Bellatrices in this universe. Eris herself didn't seem to be noticeably affected. Time normally sort of just...flowed around her and through her, or at least that was how it seemed to her. Time "travel" made it ripple oddly in places, but it was a minor enough disturbance to generally disregard. She had admitted, however, that it was probably a good idea to limit the number of Bellatrices in this universe while she was supposed to be focusing on these ones in particular and the entirely foreign concept of fixing one.

[X] She did want this to work out, after all. There was no point in transplanting Bellatrices to new universes if they couldn't find a way to free their counterparts from Tom Riddle's bloody compulsions once they got there.

[C] Hey, Eris, where'd you go? Did you forget it's Walpurgis? Another transplanted Bellatrix asked, Eris's passing thought enough to draw her attention back in her direction. This particular Bellatrix had, quite impulsively, decided to find out what would happen if she simply walked into a Walpurgis bonfire as though it was a Floo portal, dragging her Mirabella along for the ride. She had left several years after Lyra — a brief mention of that experiment having given her the idea — but reappeared several years sooner, in a universe that still had a Lily Evans, presumably due to some interest in her presence there on the part of Mystery, because Eris certainly hadn't arranged it.

[C] "Of course not. I'll tell you if it works."

[C] If what works?

[A] "You can help me with these," she said, mentally shoving a tangled clump of memories at Lyra's consciousness, floating disembodied within her own. She had copied them verbatim, which meant all the associations other than the temporal thread needed to be broken. Once they got them straightened out, Lyra could take over with Bellatrix and they'd start giving them back.

[A] It seemed she didn't need to actually articulate that. Ugh, fine, Lyra thought, her impatience to get to the fun part barely held in check.

[C] "Oh, hi, Eris! Come to join the party?" Lily interrupted. She was hosting the Hogwarts ritual in that universe, of course, her consciousness diffused throughout the magic as the magic possessed her body.

[A/B] Eris turned most of her attention to the memories as well, though she was still drawn to the Revel. Using Lyra's body to shape the magic around her into a series of fantastical illusions and sending them to run amok among the celebrants was far more amusing than carefully, meticulously breaking the associations between memories, straightening the twisted net of associations into a chronological timeline of this Bellatrix's life.

[C] "No, I'm actually in the middle of something, this is just a stray thought."

[B] Lips were pressing against the lips of the meat puppet she'd left mostly unattended-to for the past several minutes, recalling her attention to it as she continued to sift through the wreckage of Bella's mind, preserving the memories as she went.

[C] I feel so special, the Bellatrix with Lily thought, her sarcasm undercut by her obvious amusement. She was well aware that the Bellatrices were Eris's favorite dedicates.

[C] "I'll tell you about it later," she promised, wrenching her attention fully back to the proper universe.

[B] After a moment, the lips pulled back far enough for Eris to identify the dark face of Mirabella's son, his faintly inhuman eyes dancing with mischief. Not that she needed to see him to identify the texture of his magic. Like his mother, there was something of the Solitary Power about him, though he was hardly so drawn to the Dark as she. Eris was still uncertain, even after all these months, as to whether she actually liked Blaise. He was certainly useful, and Lyra enjoyed his company immensely, but mind mages, with their ability to so easily compel the obedience and cooperation of all around them, were somewhat annoying, by virtue of their very existence.

[B] Lyra definitely liked him, though. She carefully moved the girl's face into a grin. "Having fun, ducky?"

[B] He blinked, obviously startled (but only briefly), before breaking into laughter. "Greetings, Lady Eris. Well met?"

[A] "Blaise sends his greetings. Also kisses."

[A] Well, of course, he is a Zabini. Feel free to return the sentiment.

[B] "Hmm, indeed. Bodies are hard, really, I don't know how you mortals stand it. So in lieu of kissing, Lyra says hi."

[B] "So is this a normal thing? You possessing Lyra for Walpurgis? I thought you were going to make an attempt to restore Other Bella's autonomy tonight."

[B] "Ooh, I like that. We should put it like that from now on—"

[A] "Lyra, from now on we're referring to this as restoring Other Bella's autonomy, not fixing her."

[A] Okay, whatever. Stop distracting me. Mind magic is hard, and you know I'm mostly making this up as I go along. A faint trace of excitement accompanied that thought, probably because of the very real possibility of catastrophically ruining her counterpart.

[A] "Fine, fine." Eris said, ignoring Lyra's presence within her as best she could — or at least not talking to her — focusing instead on untangling another set of memories and fitting them into the timeline.

[B] "—much more suitable than fixing her, I don't fix things, really. It's not, and we are. We simply realised that there was no reason to leave this body vacant and vulnerable when I can occupy it in Lyra's absence."

[B] Blaise fell into giddy giggles again. "So. You' sitting. At the moment."

[B] Eris raised Lyra's shoulders, then dropped them in an approximation of a shrug. "Pretty much."

[B] "And Lyra's off..."

[B] "Helping me sort through the memories we need to feed back to Bellatrix. They got rather...jumbled, in the process of forcing my way into her mind."

[X] That was a bit of an understatement, really.

[A] What the fuck is this? Lyra asked, prodding at a twisted, confused memory — the sensory inputs were all wrong, and some elements didn't seem to have an external source at all — which had become completely untethered from anything else when she'd broken in.

[A] "Ah... I think she might have been on some sort of hallucinogen. If we can't figure out where it goes, it's probably not important."

[B] The boy put on an overly exaggerated expression of surprise. "I'm shocked, truly," he said, completely deadpan, then smirked.

[B] "Oh, shut up, you. Go, enjoy the party," she suggested, waving a hand at the clearing, slowly growing more raucous as each new impulsive action prompted others. "There are plenty of Hufflepuffs around for you to snog."

[B] "Well, yes. I just saw you here and thought I'd try to catch Lyra before you started your thing, see if she wanted to have a bit of fun."

[A] Eris! I just found a memory of Other Bella fighting a werewolf — everyone says you can't use runic corporeal augmentation for direct, permanent physical enhancement, but they did — they totally did! And actually using it — it's beautiful.

[A] She pushed a sensation at Eris, a strange melding of magical and physical — activating and deactivating runes to strengthen and speed her limbs in motion, dissipate energy and momentum, adjust the density of bone and elasticity of tendon, different sets working perfectly in concert to keep the force of turning and stopping and hitting and cutting from tearing her body to pieces, spinning and twisting and leaping in ways that simply defied the limitations of human biology. Eris couldn't imagine why she would want to have to manually control the movement of each joint and muscle individually — it just seemed unreasonably difficult and tedious to her — but it was obvious she did.

[A] Are you kidding? A faint impression of dancing overlaid with casting an incredibly complex, multi-layered illusion overlaid by a memory of playing a clavichord accompanied her delighted disbelief. We have got to try that!

[B] "Oh, believe me, she is," she informed Blaise.

[A] "Focus, Lyra."

[A] Yeah, yeah. I think this is the right order for these chains? I mean, I'd have to actually watch them all to be sure, but. They did seem to fit together well enough, Eris thought, running through them. At least Bellatrix seemed to be older in each successive one, so it was probably fine. Right, then.

[B] The boy pouted at her. "Fine, I'll go have fun — well, I was going to say 'by myself' but that seems like a terrible waste when there's a perfectly good orgy right there." He smirked, then gave her an overly elaborate bow in farewell — the propriety of it contrasted delightfully with his complete absence of proper attire (or any attire at all). "My lady."

[A] "And that's all of them?"

[A] I think so. All the ones you copied, anyway. Eris sent a wave of approval and excitement to wash over the little bubble of independent consciousness that was Lyra. So do I take over now?

[A] "No, I still need to be in control to get rid of the compulsions."

[A] I want to watch!

[A] There wasn't really much to watch, and in any case, it would probably be rather dangerous for Lyra to get too close to the process — it would not be a successful night if she destroyed one Bellatrix in their effort to recover another — but Eris brought her consciousness as close as she dared, anyway.

[A] Much as she had done when she accepted the young Bellas' sacrifices, she forced her way into the woman's mind, permeating every memory, every connection and most importantly, every compulsion. She was very careful not to touch the processing parts of the mind, the parts that felt and reasoned. Those were already exactly the way she wanted them, and unlike her earlier foray into editing her Bellatrices' minds, this time she would be leaving nothing in her wake. It would be a shame if, in an effort to fix her personality, she accidentally turned this Bellatrix into a mindless, drooling idiot.

[A] Yeah, let's not do that. I like not being stupid, thanks.

[A] Eris ignored that comment, pulling more and more energy into the part of herself in contact with this Bellatrix's mind, tainted with the rage she held for the very idea of such compulsions as these (even aside from the fact that they had been used on her dedicate). Memories and foreign magic alike crumbled before raw power, dissolving into nothingness. It was simply too much for them to withstand, far more magic than a human mage (even one improved as the Blacks traditionally were upon their dedication) could channel before their body gave out — the only way to get this much magic into a human body or soul was through a direct bond with the Powers. And even carefully controlling the areas of contact as she was, she certainly couldn't leave it there. It did bleed off of her, eating into the areas adjacent to the ones she was occupying — letting too much of it leak into Bella's mind, and from there to her physical body would have the same effect as allowing her to channel it herself. (Well, it might be more explosive, but the principle and the outcome were the same.)

[A] As soon as the last of the compulsions had been scoured away — no more than a few seconds, from a human perspective, she estimated — she withdrew, leaving only emptiness behind, a blank slate upon which they might attempt to redraw her Bellatrix.

[A] That's it? That wasn't nearly as exciting as I expected. You said ashes, I thought that meant fire.

[A] "The mindscape analogy has always seemed a rather silly human convention, but feel free to envision a fire burning down the house of her memories, if it will entertain you."

[B] "There you are! I've been looking everywhere for you!"

[B] Eris turned at the sound of Hermione's voice, coming from somewhere off to the left of her puppet, tripping as she did so. She was forced to catch the stupid body against her tree, but she was at least able to see the girl, only a few feet away, now, picking her way across the clearing, looking vaguely horrified by the debauchery all around them. Eris wasn't really certain what to say to that. It wasn't as though she'd been hiding, she was just far too uncoordinated in this thing to participate in the fun in any meaningful, physical way. Staying at the edges of things and interacting mostly with the magic had seemed the obvious thing to do. Though that reminded her... "Can you hear it, now?"

[B] The magic of the ritual seemed incredibly obvious to her, and to Lyra, even before she'd taken control of her body — a silent song of do as thou wilt, flowing through all of the humans in the clearing, each one a note in its score, coming together to become something greater than the sum of their parts, their own magic attuned, ever so slightly, to the chaotic energy in the earth and the air (and of course to Deliberation as well — much as she would like to pretend that this night was solely a celebration of Chaos, it was shared with the light Power, in truth). Of course, it was always there, but the ritual amplified it enormously, drawing in the participants and running through them, rather than simply weaving around them.

[A] Okay. Is it time now?

[A] "Yes, yes, fine. Go ahead," she said, faintly amused, ceding control of one small part of herself to her dedicate.

[A] Alright, she thought, now for the fun part!

[A] "Here, put back the referential knowledge first," Eris suggested, handing over the rather sizeable chunk of information she'd simply stolen wholesale from the Bellatrix's mind. "Then we'll wake her up — I'm pretty sure she needs to be conscious to actually process the memories. Or at least to start." Really, she was making this up as she went along just as much as Lyra - meddling with humans' minds (outside of accepting her Bellatrices' dedication sacrifice) wasn't something she had much experience with.

[B] Hermione didn't answer, just continued her approach, her face fixed somewhere between determination and fear. She came right up to Lyra's body, still leaning against the tree, and, with no warning whatsoever, dipped her head, pressing her lips against Lyra's. Even Eris, with her very limited experience of physical things could tell that Zabini was far more practiced, though the girl's stiffness might have had something to do with her obvious anxiety. She pulled back after a second or two, giggling nervously. "I don't know why I did that, I just— Well?"

[B] Eris tried and failed to raise an eyebrow at the girl. Bugger this for a lark, she thought, casting a shell of glamor and illusion around the body, much like the one she would use for herself, if she were actually manifesting, not just 'house sitting'. She would still have to move the body into approximately the correct positions, but there was absolutely no reason she couldn't use a mask to act out the expressions and words she wanted to make.

[A] What are you buggering?

[A] "Humaning — this is terrible. Ready to wake her up?"

[B] She raised the eyebrow of her illusion. Much better. Smirked. "I imagine you just did that because you've been wanting to for months. Unfortunately, you have terrible timing," she informed the girl, injecting a teasing note into her voice. (Auditory illusions were also much easier than physically speaking.)

[A] I think so? I just kind of...let the information go wherever it settled. There's nothing to really connect them to, so I didn't think it really mattered where I put it...

[A] Eris was fairly certain that as other memories were returned, the connections built between them and the referential knowledge would force them into the proper orientation, anyway. As far as there could be considered a 'proper' orientation. "Okay. Hold on, then, this may be weird." Before Lyra could respond, she sent a pulse of energy through her connection with Other Bella, prodding her back into consciousness.

[B] Hermione, obviously confused, glared at her. Eris grinned. Annoying Hermione was always entertaining, she always took everything so seriously. That, along with her intelligence, made her a delightful foil and audience for Lyra's antics. She wasn't any more one of theirs than Mirabella or Blaise, but there was more potential about her. The idea of chipping away at her self-control until that facade of false morality finally fell was simply too tempting to resist. She wasn't sure what would happen, if (when) Hermione embraced her darker instincts, but with that combination of wisdom and destruction...

[B] Revolutions were always so much fun — there was, after all, a reason she'd encouraged the Bellatrix of this universe (and many others) to associate with Riddle, despite her hatred of the man himself.

[A] Yeah, that was weird, Lyra agreed.

[B] "Lyra's not here, right now, but I'll tell her you dropped by," she told the muggleborn, in response to her unspoken what the fuck are you talking about?

[B] "Lyra's not— But— Wh– who are you, then?!"

[A] Who— What— Who are you? Who am I? Anger and adrenaline flooded the Other Bellatrix's mind as she realised some foreign voice had just spoken inside her head, and that she had no memory of how or why this might be.

[A] Uh... This wasn't supposed to happen, was it?

[A] "No. I suggest improvising."

[A] As though we ever do anything else?

[B] "Oh, my God, you're not actually— Are you possessed right now?!"

[B] Eris giggled. "No, I'm the one doing the possessing, obviously."

[B] "Oh, my God," the girl repeated. "Theo warned me about this, I just thought, well, this is just more Lyra being Lyra, but— Who are you?"

[A] Wait — there are two of you? Who are you? What's going on here? What have you done to me? And WHO THE FUCK AM I?!

[B] "You can call me Eris, ducky. Well met."

[A] Lyra was quite clearly amused. Before Other Bella could take offence to this, she began to explain. You're Bellatrix Black. So am I — a Bella Black from a different dimension — but I'm going by Lyra these days. She is Eris, our Patron. We're, well... Answering the question of what it actually means to be Bellatrix Black is kind of what we're here to do.

[A] Memories of facts began to shift as the amnesiac Bellatrix explored what she knew of their names, the concept of dimension-hopping, and what exactly Lyra might mean by our Patron.

[B] "Bu— You— Are you her, er, goddess, then? Her Patron?" Hermione stuttered.

[B] "Ooh, look who's been doing her research," Eris grinned, her tone only slightly mocking.

[B] "You are. You really are. Oh, my God. I— God damn it, Lyra! Why, why are you— I thought you didn't like...controlling people! Why is she..."

[B] "Possessed? Like I said, she's not here right now. I'm just 'house-sitting' while she's out."

[A] Why should I believe you? As far as I'm concerned, you're possessing me, claiming to be me for some unknown reason. I don't even know if that's really my name!

[A] With an exercise of will that Eris found frankly impressive, Bellatrix wrenched her attention away from the voices in her head, instinctively shifting to an external focus, and forced her eyes open. The metamorph was kneeling on the floor beside her, inside her cell — apparently the aurors had yet to come fetch them. She jerked back in shock when the Bellatrix apparently awakened herself, scrambling to direct her wand at her 'prisoner'. "But— You were stunned!"

[A] "Who am I?"

[A] The girl — still wearing the shape of a much older, dark-skinned male — scoffed. "Even you can't just decide not to be stunned!"

[B] Hermione stared at her for a long moment, mouth hanging open, before finally exclaiming, "Well, where is she, then?!" She sounded slightly hysterical. "When— She is coming back, isn't she?"

[B] "Relax, Hermione. She'll be back tomorrow."

[B] "Where is she? What is she doing?"

[A] "No— What? I don't— Who am I? Who are you? Where are we?" Fuck, my head hurts, Bellatrix added silently, raising a hand to her temple, as though that would help.

[A] Sorry, that was kind of really necessary. You're a prisoner in Azkaban. You're Bellatrix Black. She's your niece, Nymphadora.

[A] Shut up, I'm not listening to you! Bellatrix snapped, dismissing the answer without even considering it. She might have no idea who she was or what the fuck was going on, but she was fairly certain the person holding a wand on her was male.

[B] "That would be telling, ducky." Hermione glared at Lyra's body. Eris smirked back.

[A] Oh, for fuck's sake, she's a metamorph.

[B] "Ooh, that girl! Was this planned? Why would she invite me if she wasn't going to be here?!"

[B] Eris sniggered. "She didn't think you'd come — didn't even consider it. And you were late. But, since you're here now, you might as well go, have fun," she said, gesturing toward the revelers in the clearing.

[A] "Are you— You're serious?" the metamorph stuttered, falling back into a more familiar (and far more feminine) form. (See? Told you.) "I— You're Bellatrix Lestrange. I'm Nymphadora Tonks. We're in Azkaban Prison."

[A] "Lestrange? Not...Black?"

[A] "Er. Not anymore. Née Black, I guess. Do you...not remember getting married?"

[A] Is it not fucking obvious that I don't remember anything?

[A] Yeah, well, most people are stupid. And you will, if you'd actually cooperate, we weren't just going to leave you like this, obviously.

[A] That wasn't obvious at all. Bellatrix groaned, desperately wishing her head would stop hurting, she could hardly think, and that voice just would not shut up— (HEY!) "Are we related?" she repeated. "And why are we here?"

[B] "But— What am I supposed to do? I don't know anyone else!"

[A] "Yes, you— You and my mum are sisters. Were, anyway. And we're here because you're a psychotic murderer — not sure how you could possibly have forgotten that..."

[A] "Oh...good," Bellatrix muttered, her eyes falling closed again. She ignored her (apparent) niece's outraged reaction to her presumably inappropriate response, turning her full attention back to the voices in her head.

[A] We take exception to being called psychotic, Lyra told her. We're not.

[A] I'm not too sure about that yet, Bellatrix retorted. But I will allow that you...seem to be telling me the truth. Assuming neither you nor the metamorph is an hallucination.

[B] Eris smirked at Hermione's confusion. "You're supposed to do whatever you want. Besides, if you can't make friends here, tonight, you can't make friends anywhere. Just talk to people. See what happens."

[A] So, you'll cooperate?

[B] The girl looked rather lost, but after a moment, frowning, she said, "Well fine then! I'll just...go. something. Make it up as I go along, why not."

[A] Do I have a choice?

[A] "There's always a choice, ducky. But not really. Not if you want your memories back."

[B] "Mmm," she hummed agreeably. "That's the spirit. Before you go, though, I think it will be more fun if you remember it tomorrow, don't you?"

[A] Fine. But I want to know who you are and what you're doing here before I entertain the idea of trusting any memories you might give me.

[A] Er... It's kind of a long story.

[A] I presume you're not going anywhere, so.

[B] Hermione's eyes grew very wide, but before she could say anything, Eris reached out and poked her in the center of the forehead, the brief moment of contact more than enough to tweak the magic that had attached itself to her as she crossed the boundary-line of the ritual. "Boop."

[A] Lyra didn't even try to hide her amusement. No. We're doing this.

[A] Good. Start with the Dedicated-to-Eris part.

[B] "Now, I believe I need to have a conversation with young Theo," she added. "Have fun!"

[B] Before Hermione could think of a response, Eris slipped into the shadows. She stepped out of them in a corner of the Slytherin common room, hiding Lyra's body and her own illusory form from the young snakes with a thought and a bit of obscurity.

[B] Not that there were many students about — it was rather late, now that she thought of it. Which meant the boy she'd come to speak to would probably be in his own room. She didn't bother slipping into the shadows this time: the vast majority of her Bellatrices had lived here at one time or another — she knew perfectly well how to navigate the twisted maze of the Snake Pit.

[A] And those were supposed to be different memories?

[A] Well, the whole process was admittedly pretty much the same. I didn't realise they were different until Eris showed me her perspective.

[A] Why would that make it obvious they were different?

[A] Because we were different, obviously. See, you had already met Not-Professor Riddle, and he'd already started turning you into a mind-slave with all his compulsions. I hadn't.

[A] Not-Professor...? Wait, no, why are you in my head? What did you do to me?

[A] It's kind of related. Actually, completely related. What do you remember about early childhood compulsions and mind molding?

[A] Memories shifted, new connections building between facts and the current moment as the amnesiac Bellatrix tried to recall anything she might know about the topic. Enough to catch the implications, she realised, her wariness and discomfort surrounding them.

[A] Right, good. Or, well, it kind of sucks, but yeah. This is what we actually did...

[B] It was a matter of minutes to find the door marked with the Nott family crest. Eris stepped around the childish wards and wood of the door, abandoning her concealment as she dropped the body (and accompanying illusions) into a sitting position on the end of the bed.

[B] The boy, still awake, reading a scroll at his desk, let out a shocked scream before recognizing her, or rather her puppet. "Nine bloody hells, Lyra!"

[B] She grinned. "Try again, little brother." Oh, that terrified little squeak was adorable! "Eris, Aspect of Chaos. Pleasure to make your acquaintance."

[B] "Uh-huh," Theo managed to mutter, nodding mechanically. "I— Um, that is— Well met, Lady Eris. To what do I, ah...owe the pleasure?"

[A] So, you believe me?

[A] Tentatively.

[A] Does that mean we can we start at the beginning now? Eris sniggered — Lyra was starting to sound rather annoyed with Bellatrix. It was almost as though she hadn't realised exactly how stubborn and demanding she could be when she wanted to.

[A] I suppose.

[A] Fucking finally. At this rate we're never going to get to the good stuff! Okay, so we're pretty sure this is the first clear memory you had, Lyra said, dragging the beginning of the memory-chain they had assembled into Bellatrix's awareness.

[A] The memory was something completely inane, sitting with an elf in what was presumably the nursery of the house in which Bella had been raised, chattering at the creature in its own language as it tried (in vain) to convince her to speak English. Bellatrix lasted all of two minutes before suggesting, Or...we could just skip to the good stuff. If it turns out I want or need more context for my life, I'll come back to boring shite like this later.

[A] Er... Lyra obviously found the early memory just as tedious as Bellatrix, but equally obviously wasn't certain whether they ought to deviate from the plan.

[A] "You might as well, the point was to build context from the beginning, but since you've already actively discussed what you're doing and why..."

[B] The most honest answer was that Theo mostly owed her presence to the agreement Eris had made with Mystery to ensure the safe arrival of her dedicate in this particular timeline. She owed it a favor — specifically a dedicate of its own, here. It already had its eye on this one, he'd been seeking it out, in some ways, his entire life.

[B] More immediately, however, "Hermione mentioned you, something about you suggesting my Lyra might be slightly more possessed than usual. So, you know, I thought I'd drop by."

[A] Fine, then. Where do you want to start? Lyra asked, the tenor of her thoughts becoming much more animated with the prospect of skipping the boring parts of Bellatrix's life.

[B] The boy swallowed hard. "Er, well. Given the circumstances, my Lady..."

[B] She giggled. "I don't mind. I'm kind of surprised no one else noticed, really. It just reminded me that you exist."

[B] "So you just...decided to stop by for a chat?"

[B] "If you're going to be a black mage, you should probably get used to the idea. We do have a tendency to drop in on the ones we like." Granted, more often in dreams, and it was more like a tendency to drop in on any ritualist they liked who wasn't dedicated to themselves — they hardly needed to drop in on their own dedicates — but that was hardly the point.

[A] Bellatrix sent a very, well... Bellatrix-like wave of frustrated exasperation at Lyra. Are you sure we're the same person? Because that was an awfully stupid question. I'm not the one who actually knows what the good stuff is, you know.

[B] "You, uh. Know, about that?"

[A] Well it's not like I know either. I know you finally beat Cygnus when you were fifteen, I guess we could start there, if only because if we get to skip things, I'd prefer not to live through the rape scenes again.

[A] Rape scenes? Who the fuck...? Is that Cygnus our father Cygnus?

[A] Yeah, it's fine, though, you got to kill him eventually.

[A] We could start with that.

[A] Done! That was one of the things I was looking forward to seeing.

[B] "Yes I, uh, know about that. Did you think I'd miss Mystery giving you that little hint over Yule? What's taking you so long, anyway?"

[B] "Erm... What's taking so long?"

[B] "Asking Lyra about it. The black mage thing. You did get the hint, didn't you?"

[B] Theo nodded. "I just, um... I didn't know how to...bring it up. It's, well... It's not the sort of thing you go around telling people, is it? I mean, even Lyra doesn't just...go around talking about being dedicated."

[A] Who's that? Bellatrix asked, as they progressed through the memory.

[A] Zee. She's a friend. And lover, by this time.

[B] He tactfully left the fact that Lyra had very little self-control when it came to keeping secrets unspoken. Eris laughed anyway. "She would if she knew you already knew. Which reminds me, pass a message on to the Lovegood girl?"

[A] And those girls are...?

[A] You know, I'm suddenly beginning to understand why Blaise said it's annoying to watch films with me. That's Meda and the little one is Cissy, they're our sisters. For context, we both promised Meda when we were twelve and she was nine that if Cygnus ever touched either of them, we'd kill him.

[A] Noted.

[B] "Er — what? I mean, yes, of course, sure, but...why?"

[B] "Because Gelach really annoys me, just hording potential away instead of letting anything interesting or fun or even useful happen, not to mention the whole parents dedicating children thing. It's fucking disgusting, is what it is. So tell the little moonchild that if she wants to leave her Patron, we can make that happen. We know she thinks we're trying to corrupt her, but we're not, really. We'll help her rededicate herself to another aspect of the same Power, even, if she wants. Maybe Truth, instead of Innocence. Truth is generally much more tolerable, and Aletheia would like her. Or Frigga." Though Frigga was as much Deception and Fate as Truth, so perhaps not her.

[B] "Wait — are you telling me Lovegood's a white mage?"

[B] "Yes, obviously. Or, I don't know, maybe it's not, Lyra didn't notice either. Whatever. Yes, she is."

[B] "Er, well... I can't really guarantee she'll listen to me, I'm not sure I've ever talked to her before. But yes, I'll tell her."

[B] "Good. And you should ask Lyra about the black mage thing when she gets back."

[B] "Yes, my lady," the boy said, a small smile appearing on his lips, apparently against his will. "Where is she, anyway?"

[A] (Bella's memory) — "And why, my Viper, do you require a dram of basilisk's venom at—" the snake-faced would-be Dark Lord checked the time, "—one in the morning?"

[A] (Bella's memory) — "Cygnus. I want him to die screaming."

[A] (Bella's memory) — "Birthday present to yourself?"

[A] Both Lyra and Bellatrix found his deadpan delivery amusing, though Lyra seemed rather reluctant to admit it, trying to suppress her amusement before Eris noticed.

[B] "You can ask her that, too," Eris told the boy firmly. "Now, I have places to be, ducky. Sleep well."

[A] I take it my wanting to kill someone wasn't particularly unusual?

[A] Dora did tell you you're in prison for murder, if you recall. And you were kind of a de facto Dark Lady for a few years, there. So I'm going to go with no, probably normal Bellatrix behavior.

[B] She grinned and let Lyra's body fall backward into its own shadow, reappearing in her darkened dorm room — Hermione was obviously still at the Revel, and Ginevra's curtains were pulled. Good, she thought, allowing the body to fall into its own bed and closing the drapes with a lazy tug at the ambient magic in the room. Fuck trying to grab things, hands were so stupid.

[A] There was no additional commentary on the memory until it blurred into an uninteresting series of chores, destroying the evidence. That was the point at which Bellatrix (with an air of rueful reluctance) admitted, Okay, that was...interesting. Very interesting. But I'll admit more context would be helpful.

[A] "You might start after your dedication to me, that was a point where things started to get more interesting."

[A] Why did we dedicate ourselves in the first place?

[A] Uh...Cygnus, basically.

[A] Care to elaborate?

[A] Fine, we'll start with the Worst Day Ever! Don't say I didn't warn you, though, it's fucking infuriating. Yours is even worse than mine, because that was also the day you met Not-Professor Riddle.

[B] Now that Lyra's body was secure and Lyra herself was overseeing the process of restoring Bella's memories, Eris saw no reason she shouldn't leave them mostly unattended. If it worked, of course, it would be entirely worth it, but limiting herself so severely as she had been all evening, on Walpurgis, of all nights, was simply miserable. For the first time in what felt like ages, she relaxed, letting her consciousness expand. Her attention drifted, drawn to rituals in progress throughout the mortal plane, and the dedicates she'd been neglecting in favor of this single universe and its Bellatrices.

[C] The other transplanted Bellatrix noticed the return of her attention almost immediately. So. Are you going to tell us what's going on now?

[C] "I told you I'd tell you if it worked. I don't know if it worked, yet."

[C] Ugh, fine. You may have noticed, Eris, but I'm not a very patient person.

[C] "There is no universe in which you are, really."