Toggle paper mode ----

Chapter One: Guilt

I was walking aimlessly though the wreckage of the castle. It was funny, up until a year ago I would have killed (literally) to be here, to just see it. But not now.   Now I was numb.  I’ve done it. I might as well have been the one to raise the wand and do it. My mother is dead. I, Bellona Black, have done what I wanted most. The Dark Lord is gone, and now I am orphaned again.

It must have been a beautiful place before, because it was still pretty despite the damages of war. Thinking back to all the country manors, sterile flats, and crumbling villas I’d spent my life hiding in, my surroundings would have been a dream even without the fabled name, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizarding.  I kicked a piece of statue from me. I should go help the injured, or at least go see if Narcissa and Draco lived. The thought sent the first feeling back through me since running from the Great Hall, from her body. I could not lose them. I could not.

My feet had taken me back to the entrance of the hall. The doors were open wide, and I made myself walk in. Scanning the mass of people I saw no trade mark white blonde hair, did not see Uncle’s tall lean frame. The last time I had seen her she had seen me fighting Dolohov. Please, please God let her see why I did it.

He scared me, saying my name from behind me. I twirl around, prepared to attack. But it was just my cuz, Draco. And damn, I doubt the sight of his thin, arrogant pale face had ever made anyone that happy before (or at all, like ever.) The normal smug look had been wiped clean years ago, and it almost was nice to have him give me a watered down version of his old smirk. “Bel.” He nodded over to a mostly deserted stretch of hallway.

We sat on some ruble, and I did not know what to say. He was looking at me like I was a puzzle he had thought solved for years, and now had thrown him.  I didn’t blame him.   I could see Draco working through recent events; I could see him connecting the dots.  I knew by just looking at him, that now that he had been told the basics of how the Dark Lord fell, he knew there was only one way the Order could have known some things.  Me. “What… what did you do?’ he asked, and he almost sounded jealous. But I would think about that latter.

I took my time answering. How do you tell your family you’ve been playing double agent for years? I had been the perfect daughter, had been a better daughter and then a better dark witch then anyone could ever have dreamed.  I had not protested hiding, or not going to Hogwarts. I had not cried when Mother was sentenced to life in Azkaban, had sworn to keep searching for the Dark Lord, at five. Under the care of several of mother’s cronies I learned to successfully use Crucio by 12. Avada Kedarva by 15. I had been just as zealous as her, and when the Dark Lord was reborn and he sent me to live with Severus, I learned a few things.  

But Draco knew all that, and I couldn’t tell him what came next, what he did not know. So, like an idiot, I say, “Killing is bad.” Aw yes I, child prodigy, had deduced killing was bad. Gold star for me.

He didn’t laugh. “It’s over Bel, it doesn’t matter if you spied, it doesn’t matter if you single-handedly taught peeves that song! (He was singing some ditty about “Voldy’s gone moldy… if you could call it singing.) He’s dead. Anyone who would defend him is too, or have ran,” he looked out through the hole in the wall, towards the forest, like he’d like to too, “You’re safe.”

“Who’s dead?” I asked, ashamed that it hadn’t been my first question.

“ That matter?” I nodded. “Not my mum or dad, but a good amount of the Dark Lord’s force. And then… well you know.” He looked away, having the decency to hide the relief that passed over his face.

“Right. Them.” Of course I knew the three people whose deaths mattered.  The Dark Lord had spoken of Severus’s death in front of everyone. I had seen Voldemort die myself. And then Mother, who had never had much patience for Draco after he had failed the Dark Lord’s orders.  I tried not to be mad at Draco, I’m sure he had every right to be glad she was gone. But it didn’t make it stop hurting. We talked of minor things for a while, watching the survivors dash hear and there. Some gave me odd looks; I guess I’ll get that a lot now.

As we talked, I looked around.  There was an almost unsettling peace to the still smoldering grounds.  Looking through a gaping opening in the castle’s thick walls, you could see a wide scene of the grounds that were lit prettily by the early morning light. The forest off in the distance looked pure, unsullied by the catastrophe that had blatantly marred all else.  The people were a mixed bag; it was had to tell who was who.  Many did little more than sit huddled with (I assume) family speaking in whispers, as Draco and I did.  Other’s had taken a more active role, helping the hurt or removing the dead.  They had moved Voldemort’s corpse somewhere.  I had not seen it since the chaos after the showdown between the two.

It was bizarre; I hated Voldemort. I had spent the last two and a half years trying to take him down. But the part of me that had been groomed since birth to be his right hand man hurt for him, which was terrible considering I was watching his victims trying to recoup. But at least that was a small, small part. The worst was that every inch of me mourned my insane, homicidal mother.

Maybe I did it because of that, my guilt over both missing her and helping those who killed her.  Maybe I had some sort of mental break down. Maybe I just needed to tell someone that I wasn’t quite as evil as I looked.

I told him about Snape.  It felt like a betrayal, which was stupid as Potter had announced to the world Severus’s biggest secrets. But it felt wrong to be sitting here talking about what had become so taboo to me; Severus’s secrets weren’t mine to tell. My reasons stemmed from his reason to work for Dumbeldore. I hoped showing him that Severus, who he adored, had felt this way and done even (a lot!) more than me, it would make it so he wouldn’t hate me.

He laughed.  I considered hitting him; it felt like a breach of some unspoken contract. “You’re not the only rebellious cousin, Bel. Have you looked at your own tapestry? There’s almost as many of you Blacks not on there than on!  I thought you’d actually done something different.” He then went on to be his normally jerk self, for about a half an hour. I would have jinxed him, but it was weirdly comforting to know no matter what went on in the world, my cousin would be a prick.

Things had started to settle, both in the castle and in my mind. I realized I didn’t know where Severus was, or what they were going to do with Mother.  Before they took the bodies away, I kind of wanted to see that Nympodora Tonks girl. It just seemed unfair to not have ever seen my cousin even once. Though looking at Draco, who was at this point frantically asking if I thought he and his parents were going to be charged with anything, maybe it wasn’t that bad. I not so politely told Draco to go whine to someone else, and sat thinking by myself after he sulked off. To find out what was going on I was going to have to go talk to someone.

So I thought that, if I was going to ask for a briefing, who better than Potter himself?  He had at some point came back from wherever he had gone for the night to the great hall, surrounded by a group of mix-matched people. Someone had made food, I think. I don’t really remember.

 Because when I walked over to Potter’s gang, to introduce myself and maybe try to see if I could talk to Kingsley in private, Potter freaked. And jinxed me unconscious.