Throughout the tense walk Hermione clung to Bella's hand as though it were her lifeline. As they approached the group she spotted the Malfoys easily. Draco stood slightly behind Lucius as though he could hide from what he would become. The older witch led Hermione to stand beside her friend. Playfully she bumped his shoulder, hoping to convey that it would all be alright and that they would get through it together. As was the dark witch’s custom they were the last two to arrive. Greyback, Crabbe, and Goyle stood poised for the fight. The young witch noticed that the Death Eaters were pulsing with excitement, and she truly wondered what lied ahead for her. Bella nodded to the group and simply said,
“It’s time. Let’s go.”
With little fanfare they broke into the two groups. Draco placed his hand in the crook of his father’s elbow, preparing for side-along apparition. They were flanked by Crabbe and Goyle. A few meters away Greyback stood in front of Bella and Hermione, he smiled momentarily before vanishing in a cloud of black smoke. The young witch felt her wife’s arms wrap around her securely and soft lips brushing the back of her robes in a soothing kiss before she felt the pull right behind her bellybutton.
The world rushed by them faster than her brain could process. Through the veil of black smoke she saw blurs of colors. The feeling was exhilarating. Wrapped so tightly in her lover’s arms, she could feel their magic dancing and intermingling together. It felt as intimate as any time they’d ever spent together between the sheets. The adrenaline rush, the seductive nature of her partner, and the strong influence of the Death Eaters thoughts bouncing through her mind caused Hermione to forget any moral objection she originally had. She savored the feeling. She now understood why they seemed to enjoy being Death Eaters.
Their progress slowed slightly as muggle London came into view. It was enough for Hermione to see the Millennium Bridge come into view. Taking down the towering pedestrian bridge that crossed the River Thames in the middle of the day would certainly send a strong message. Without concern of being seen, the two Death Eaters made a quick descent towards the bridge. The young witch steeled herself and grasped her wand tightly, preparing to fire off destructive spells. Bella dipped and turned them, giving her direct access to the structural supports. She fired off two of the most powerful bombarda maximas she had ever conjured. The roar from the crumbling structure was deafening. Hermione’s spells hit so solidly that the bridge was blown towards Greyback. He narrowly escaped the debris, swooping up over the bridge to fire spells at the panicked and running muggles. The dark witch stayed the lower course as her wife systematically blew apart each support. In the 5 seconds it had taken for them to cross the river, half of the bridge was submerged underwater.
Hermione felt the surge of victory and joy travel through her lover as they blasted their way away from downtown London. She found it contagious and exhilarating. As it flowed through her, she felt it spark her magic. Apparently Bella did as well, as she tightened her grip and nibbled on her neck. In moments, the dark witch delivered them securely on the ground, but hesitated in releasing her. Reluctantly she stepped back and drew her wand. Their intense staring was cut short by panicked shouting coming from a smoking residence. The dark witch took off at a sprint with her young wife at her heels. As they neared the burning structure, the singed forms of Crabbe and Goyle hurdled out coughing violently. Bellatrix grabbed the closest shoulder none too gently and growled,
“Where are Lucius and Draco?”
“I don’t know they went around the back.”
Without needing to communicate, the two witches took off at a run. As they rounded the rear of the house they were momentarily blinded by a bright green light emitting from inside the house. Hermione’s breath caught in her throat as she was paralyzed by both fear and disgust. The Death Eater sensed the reaction and reached behind her capturing her wrist and continuing to propel her forward. She only released her as they reached the open door. With wand drawn the dark witch carefully entered the kitchen, looking around. Standing in the entryway of the living room was the silhouette of Draco holding his wand at his side. He was neither moving nor making a sound. The fire in the front of the house was beginning to hiss and crackle its way towards them.
“Draco what happened?” Hermione blurted out with enough force to cause him to turn his head. His eyes were blank for a moment before he opened his mouth. The first few attempts at speech were nothing more than lips moving. Desperately he pointed to a corner of the room. The last of the four Death Eaters sent on the mission that night was crouched against the wall. Bellatrix immediately flew to his side. She shouted over her shoulder,
“Hermione, we need to get out. The entire place will be on fire soon. Take Draco, I have Lucius.”
The young witch took her friend’s hand as he still searched his brain for language and pulled him quickly through the house to the back garden. It was easier to breath outside and the change of scenery seemed to bring the young blonde back to himself.
“The muggle had a metal thing. It banged and my dad’s arm started bleeding. And we’d been practicing the killing curse so much. I didn’t even think I just fired,” he said quickly. Lowering his voice until it was nothing more than a whisper, “I took a life. I saw his soul leave his body. It was my anger that fueled the curse.”
Echoing his grave tone she responded, “You did what you had to. He was trying to kill your father. It wasn’t the aim of tonight, but you did what had to be done.”
“And I’m proud,” the grunting blonde Death Eater said, emerging from the house supported by Bellatrix.
“Yes, well done, Draco,” his aunt echoed.
The family chatter paused as Crabbe and Goyle came around the corner. The dark witch immediately stalked towards them.
“Where the fuck were you two? You nearly lost Lucius. Can you even imagine what the Dark Lord would have done to you if he had died? You are lucky his son is such a worthy candidate to be a Death Eater. He saved the entire raid.”
The two shuffled their feet uncomfortably, knowing this was likely to be the most rational and least violent lecture of the evening.
“Apparate them back to the Dark Lord. Hermione and I will be right behind you. Go,” she barked, leaving no room for debate. Crabbe offered his arm to Draco and Goyle to Lucius. In two plumes of black smoke they were gone.
The young witch eyed her wife warily. She had never seen this side of her. She rationally knew that Bella had to be tough and cruel at times, but this was truly eye opening. And where only a few months ago she would have been quivering in fear, she found instead a familiar fire ignite deep in her stomach. The power rolling off her wife at the moment was palpable. She struggled to catch her breath as the dark witch walked behind her. A chin rested teasingly on her shoulder, close enough to her head that every spoken word would result in lips brushing her ear.
“You like me this way, don’t you?” The dark witch purred.
Hermione considered denying it, but quickly relented. “Yes. I do.”
“I am so glad,” she replied, drawing her lips across the small patch of bare skin. “But we have one more task here tonight. And I want you to cast it.”
“What’s that,” the young witch managed to ask through her conscious reminders to continue breathing inspite of the allure of the body behind her.
“His mark. It needs to be placed in the sky. I want it to come from your wand as a sign of your commitment, as he won’t be marking you. You do know the spell don’t you? I would hardly think that Severus would have skipped that one over.”
Hermione drew a deep breath to center her magic. She pointed her wand to the sky and shouted, “Morsmordre!”
“Well done, little witch,” Bella said, securing her arms around her wife. In the moment just before they apparated back to the Manor, they took in the astounding sight of the glowing skull hovering above the muggle neighborhood.