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The Black Prophecy

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Landing in Malfoy Manor was not the most pleasant experience. It was far too reminiscent of the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. Fortunately Lucius was awake and talking, specifically cursing up a storm. The entire scene still gave Hermione pause. She was still recovering from her apology to Narcissa. And emotionally she wasn't prepared to take the blame for this particular situation. She was unsure of her next move until the blonde witch caught her gaze. There was no anger, but instead was full of pleading, which Hermione immediately complied with.

"Hermione," Narcissa said hoarsely. "I don't understand what type of injury this is. I've never seen anything like it. It isn't magical."

"Are you sure, Cissy? I thought he had a metal wand. And it certainly felt like a diffindo," the injured wizard interjected in obvious pain.

"It's a bit like that, Lucius," Hermione responded carefully. "This is what is known as a gunshot wound. They aren't a common injury here, because the metal wand or guns are illegal." She watched as their eyes all got large. How quickly they forgot how many years she lived in the Muggle world. She smiled briefly before continuing. "Healing it will be a little different. Severus," she called to her friend, "I need blood replenishing, pain, and skin re-growing potions now. Cissy, I need you to be prepared to apply pressure, the bleeding may get much worse."

She turned her full attention to Lucius. Sympathetically she placed a hand on his good shoulder. "This is going to hurt like hell for a moment. There is a small piece of metal still in your arm and I must get it out or you will get an infection."

"Well that explains why it feels like my arm is burning off. Stupid bloody Muggle."

"Cissy hold his hand and get ready to apply pressure, this will happen very quickly." The young witch steadied herself and wandlessly summoned the bullet into her hand with a whispered accio. As predicted, the wound began bleeding profusely again. With her fingers wrapped firmly around the offending metal she moved back to give Narcissa space to work. The wound was now simple and well within her healing abilities.

The young witch stared on at the scene while the blonde worked feverishly. She didn't move until familiar hands guided her away.

"Come, love. We are due to debrief our Lord. We've been delayed enough already. Cissy has it from here."

Hermione nodded mutely and allowed herself to be led away from the entry hall and into the library. At the back of the room in front of the window where the family would often have breakfast sat Greyback, Crabbe, Goyle and Draco. From body language it was clear that Crabbe and Goyle were expecting to take much of the blame. Draco sat stoically, though Hermione suspected that was mostly shock. Bella too had transformed the moment she crossed the threshold. The powerful, intimidating and alluring woman who stood at her side as she cast the dark mark was back in full force. It took all of her self control to push those feelings back down, because jumping her wife at the present time would hardly be appropriate. The dark witch sat next to her Lord and Hermione took a seat next to her. With anticipation, she turned to watch Voldemort.

"Welcome back, Madames Black and congratulations. You've done extremely well and I am pleased. Hermione, you cast a beautiful version of my mark. You will now be fully accepted into my ranks."

Bellatrix beamed at her, and she felt more full of accomplishment than she ever had before in her life.

"Bella and Greyback, well conducted raid. I expected nothing less, but it was well done. You did create significant chaos," he continued. The pair nodded in acknowledgment of the complement. "And Bella, quick thinking on the ground at the muggle house served you well. You can expect to lead more missions in the future."

"Thank you, my Lord," she responded differentially.

"And Draco, you too are to be commended, you behaved perfectly within the training provided to you by your godfather. You will be given the honor of taking my mark. I will, however, wait until it is possible for your father to be present. He should not be forced to miss such a momentous occasion in his only son's life."

"Thank you, my Lord," he replied, attempting to sound far more confident than he felt.

"And this unfortunately brings me to you two, Crabbe and Goyle." As he spoke their names, the chairs flew out from underneath them. Simultaneously they were hit with a powerful crucio, causing them to cry out and convulse on the floor. Clearly annoyed by the sound, Voldemort cast a silencing spell without lifting the unforgivable curse. Hermione stared in amazement, not in reaction to the cruelty of the act. He wasn't named the Dark Lord for being sweet and cuddly. She was impressed by his ability to curse more than one wizard simultaneously while overlaying spells. In spite of the sheer violence of the act, it was remarkable to watch such a skilled wizard.

"Now I expect you to listen closely, gentlemen," he spoke calmly to the two men as though he weren't currently torturing them. "Your behavior was entirely unacceptable. Setting fire to a structure in a non-critical situation with Death Eaters still inside is beyond stupid. And in doing so you directly disobeyed the orders of Lucius, whom I put in charge of your raid. If you cannot follow orders in the future, I will not be in need of your services and you know well that no one leaves my organization alive. And you can't even imagine the pain you would have experienced had more serious harm come to either of the Malfoys. I would have simply let Bella have you. Fortunately for you that isn't necessary," he said, lifting the curse.

The two men lie unmoving on the ground aside from twitching from the after effects of the curse. "Have I made myself clear?"

"Yes, my Lord," two rough and pained voices answered in unison.

"Good. Greyback, show them out and off the premises. I don't want to see their faces for at least a week."

The muscular Death Eater nodded in understanding and roughly dragged the two men to their feet and out of sight. Barely a minute later there was a knock at the door. Without speaking a word Voldemort opened it magically, knowing who would be interrupting.

"Ah, good. Do come in," he said to Lucius, Narcissa, and Severus. Snape led the group followed by the Malfoys, who walked arm in arm. Hermione noted that Lucius' color was much better and he appeared to not be in pain.

"How are your wounds?" the Dark Lord inquired of the blonde wizard.

"Managed. Thanks to Hermione and Narcissa. Those muggle metal wands are not to be trifled with."

"Muggle what?"

"Guns, my Lord," Hermione answered automatically.

"They shot a Death Eater?" he asked, obviously aghast at the idea.

"They did my Lord."

There was an uncomfortable silence.

"May I share an idea, my Lord," the young witch asked hesitantly.

"This is most disturbing, but yes please do."

"Perhaps an explanation and demonstration of muggle weapons would be useful for those who will be conducting raids. It would allow Severus the opportunity to experiment with appropriate deflection shields."

The snake like face paused in concentration and thought before slowly responding,

"As much as I abhor muggle technology, I agree this is our best course of action. Hermione and Severus make this happen before you return to Hogwarts. Keep our people safe from those uncivilized beasts."

"Yes, my Lord," the pair said in unison.

"This brings us to our last piece of business for the day. Draco, you have carried out my commands in a difficult situation above your training level. You have most certainly earned your place in our ranks. Come here and receive the mark."

Draco stood and nodded to his proud father before kneeling before Voldemort.

"This will be unpleasant for a few minutes. It is a complex piece of magic. I will not be offended if you cry out."

Voldemort pressed the tip of his wand into the pale skin of the young man's forearm. And beneath its spell the dark mark appeared. Draco groaned and closed his eyes at the sensation. When the wand was retracted he said,

"Thank you, my Lord. I am honored."

With the formalities of the afternoon raid concluded, the Dark Lord took his leave. The inner circle lingered, making small talk and generally soothing their nerves from the day. Hermione had been moving progressively closer to Bella and was on the verge of climbing into her lap when the dark witch stood suddenly and announced,

"That was quite the day. I think that my wife and I will take our dinner in our rooms. We will see you all in the morning."

The young witch happily followed her wife out of the room. The door to the library had just closed behind them when it Narcissa burst through it. She launched herself into Bella's arms and then captured Hermione with equal enthusiasm. She smiled warmly before turning to go back to her family,

"Thank you both for keeping my men safe. I owe you more than I can ever repay." The last sentence was leveled directly at Hermione who smiled in response.