4 July: Marital Troubles Who: Alice Travers, Rodolphus Lestrange, Rabastan Lestrange, a house elf and a strike team of aurors and hitwazards What: After securing the hospital, a DMLE team responds to a call from The Terrace. They go in expecting a dangerous fight. Instead they find Rodolphus in quite a state. When: Thursday 4 July, dawn Where: The Lestrange Terrace, London Warnings: Blood. References to torture. Brief discussion of miscarriage.
“This is definitely a trap.”
It was barely dawn, but a strike team was on full alert. Not long after the news came about the hospital, they had set up a perimeter around The Lestrange Terrace. There were more than enough eye witnesses willing to name her and plenty of destruction left behind. They were just waiting for the lead auror to make the call to enter the home.
“We received a call, Perez, protocol says we have to take it seriously.”
“Protocol or not, I’m not too keen on sauntering into a Death Eater’s home trying to rescue him only to get myself killed. Today is not a good day to die.”
Trap or no, the job was the job. “Mitchell, Perez,” Alice turned her sharp eye on the two. “Keep the chatter down, this isn’t a social call.” For once at least. This was one thing the Lestranges weren’t going to be able to cover up, though she wouldn’t be surprised when Rodolphus rolled out of things with a slap on the wrist. With her focus back on the task at hand, she asked, “Are we secured and ready to push forward?”
“I am just registering my concerns about what we’re facing here.” Perez continued despite the warning. If he was going to die, he wanted it known he wasn’t quite so willing. “The woman nearly leveled a hospital. Now we’re supposed to think her husband is innocent in all this? Also can’t promise I won’t hex first, ask questions later.” He straightened himself out, trying to psych himself up for he imagined was going to be an impressive wand fight.
Mitchell sighed, doing her absolute best not to smack Perez. He was good in a fight. Just needed to work on holding his tongue. “We are secured. Wide perimeter on the street. Just got word that the floo was shut down. And the anti-apparation field in place.”
“If you’re unwilling to follow orders, Perez, there’s a desk at the office waiting for you.” That was all that needed to be said right now; they had a limited window of time and arguing wasn’t in the schedule. With a raised hand Alice beckoned her group forward. “Move in.”
The front door swung open. Ahead of a small house elf came a terrible wailing.
Perez moved to fire off a stunner, but Mitchell caught his arm just before he was able to follow through. “Hold! We have action. Advise!”
Alice took about a moment to assess the situation and the possible consequences before acting accordingly. The house elf was encased inside a bubble with a quick flick of her wand and she moved toward it while telling the others to wait. Upon closer inspection the elf was revealed to be covered in blood, which didn’t settle her any. “What’s happened inside?” she asked the elf sharply, loud enough to be heard above the wails.
Tilly stopped. Frozen for a moment within this strange spell, but not particularly more calm. “Mistress!” The elf howled. “Mistress went crazy. She attacked master!” The little elf collapsed in the confined space. “And master...you have to help him!”
Alice lowered the elf’s bubble to the ground before releasing it. “Perez, watch the elf. Everyone else, forward in formation. Don’t let anything past you and I don’t want any surprises.” There would be less with Perez holding back, at least. As they continued to press toward the front entrance, Alice tossed a spell forward to lighten the entryway ahead of their arrival and she heard muttered spells from the aurors around her as they searched for any potential ambushes.
Inside the normally well polished and put together Terrace had seen better days. Small little smudges of blood on the hardwood, a few of the paintings overturned. It was quiet. Too quiet for the disrepair around them.
Mitchell took her team of hitwizards around the back to cover all points of egress. It put them entering through the kitchen. She definitely had a bad feeling about this. Maybe Perez was right.
“Merlin’s beard!” Came over the communication channel, followed by a crash in the kitchen.
Alice’s team was stopped by her hand as the noise rang out in the kitchen. “Report!” Alice rapped over the comms, eyes on full swivel around the room. She wished she had an eye like Moody’s just then.
“We have a visualize on Lestrange.” There was a pause over the line, longer than anyone might have liked. But at least it was silence. “He’s down.”
She instructed her team to remain in the room and carefully picked through the mess of the house toward the kitchen. “Any eyes on Bellatrix?” There were mutters of Homenum Revelio throughout the place and they reported their negative contacts just as she stepped in front of Rodolphus on the floor. With her wand trained on him, she called for the medic.
Rodolphus had better mornings. He was barely still upright, propped against the cabinet under the sink. There was a loose hold on a towel to a large gash on his side. He was far too pale and only just still conscious. This was a far cry from the normally well dressed man he presented as on most days. He barely had the strength to keep upright, anything more was laughable.
“Rest of the place is clean.” Came the call from the other rooms. “No one else here.” And another. “We might want to sweep the bedroom for evidence.”
Alice nodded to the rest of the team. “Do it. I want all the rooms searched thoroughly - see if you can find any leads on where Bellatrix might have gone. O'Donnell, get a call out to the office; we need to speak to the rest of the Black family and the Malfoys and Rabastan Lestrange as soon as possible.” She had to work to keep her words caught up with her thoughts. “Perez, bring the house elf into the kitchen and someone find me Lestrange’s wand.”
The wand was nowhere to be found. The rest of the team set to work, surveying the scene for any evidence of where Bellatrix went and what might have happened. Between this op and the hospital, their ranks were spread thin, and it would be hours before they could canvas the rest of the family.
“Master!” Tilly broke free from Perez’s grasp, rushing to Rodolphus’s side. “Master! You have to help him!” She pushed her hands onto the towel, trying to stop the bleeding. “Useless witch. HELP!” With what little magic she had, Tilly managed to start stitching the gash together.
The medic arrived seconds after Tilly started using her own magic. He worked at different areas as to not to disturb the elf’s magic already in progress. It took time and a good amount of potions, but eventually Rodolphus was stable and in no immediate threat of his own death. He agreed to give Auror Travers his account of the morning, but first requested a meeting with his solicitor.
It took longer to get his solicitor into the home and vetted than the privileged counsel.
No more than an hour after the scene was secured, Alice was sitting across from Rodolphus in the den, while his solicitor was keeping a close watch on the team going through the home.
“Mr. Lestrange, can you tell me what happened here tonight?”
Rodolphus took a steadying breath in and out. “It was all just...” He shook his head, covering his face with his hand. “It’s a lot to process all at once, and I’m not even sure where to begin.” That part was true. He was a whole mixture of emotions brought into focus by that underlying thrum of pain.
Alice nodded, for once believing him considering how he was when they arrived. “Please, take your time. Do you need anything? I assume your house elf will know where to fetch from?” Maybe giving the elf some work would keep her from glaring daggers at Alice. She took the time to pull paper from the small pouch on her belt.
“No, thank you. I know time is of the essence here. I have been instructed to be candid and honest.” He sat up a little straighter. “I don’t think it would surprise you to know that my wife can be rather unwell.” Rodolphus knew there were other words, far less kind, but despite all else he loved her. He chose her.
“She has made no secret of her political leanings. However, opinions and politics are one thing, to actually…” Rodolphus shook his head. “But you don’t need me to reflect on those things.”
Unwell felt a bit like an understatement, but Alice knew better than to give her opinions on that matter. The latter, however, she was more keen on. “Has your wife been acting differently as of late? Done or said anything to give you pause?”
“Since the miscarriage things have been rather strained between us.” There had even been more than one public incident of Bellatrix trying to pick a start a fight with him. “I had assumed it was the pressure…” Surely, Alice understood the nuances of pureblood families and the importance of producing an heir.
Of all the things Alice might have expected to do in the early hours of the morning, discussing Rodolphus and Bellatrix Lestrange’s marital problems never would have made the list. Still, she nodded cordially in response. Despite being surprised by her own pregnancy, she couldn’t imagine what it’d be like to lose the child. “I doubt it could have been easy for her,” she said with real honesty. “What happened when she arrived home?”
“Last night she arrived home late. Bella is an artist. She is known to keep odd hours.” They were probably going to get a warrant for her studio soon. “She was happy, elated even. I had assumed she had finished the last piece for her showing next month.” Rodolphus paused, shaking his head again. “I was wrong.”
“She had injuries, ones you don’t get from painting. I offered to take a look, help patch them up, and I asked her where she got them.” He swallowed, the thoughts vile in his mouth. Rodolphus was a good actor, but he didn’t need to sell anything. He was deeply bothered and upset by Bellatrix going off book. “She told me they were ‘hunting trophies’ from Healer Mulciber and Ms Evans.”
Hunting trophies. How despicable could someone be about the lives of others? Alice’s voice remained professional when she actually spoke again, as uncomfortable as the statement made her. “Did Bellatrix have grievances with Lily Evans or Arlo Mulciber? Anything that might explain why she would have attacked them?”
“I am not sure that I am able to speak to Bellatrix’s motives.” Rodolphus didn’t like speculation. He liked it less when it was trying to damn his wife. Although wasn’t that the dance he was performing right now? She found the answer suspect, but she also had no idea what their marriage was like, so maybe he really didn’t know. “Okay. So you tried to help your wife with her injuries and she refused the help. How did things escalate to this?” Alice gestured around the room and at the man himself who had been bleeding out when they’d arrived.
“When it seemed to me that she attacked someone, I insisted that she turn herself over the DMLE. She did not take too kindly to my suggestion.” He gestured to the wound on his side.
Unless the man took the time to stage it all, Alice had to believe that they had fought, though she had a hard time believing he’d made such a suggestion. “Would you be able to make a list of the places your wife might have gone to hide?”
“I will do my best.” Candid and honest, right? Cooperate because he had nothing to hide. That was as he was instructed, that was the only way he would get to fight another day.
“Wonderful, thank you.” Alice nodded at a hit wizard to procure some paper for the man. “I think that covers most of it, Mr. Lestrange.” She stood and began tucking her pad back into her pouch before looking back at him with a sudden thought. “Oh, one more thing. Do you think it possible that your wife may have had something to do with the death of Corvus Lestrange?”
“My father? Wasn’t that ruled accident?” The question startled him. Rodolphus was slow to recover. “I would like to say no, but after this morning it is becoming clear to me that, perhaps, I did not know Bella as well as I thought.”
“Well thank you for your time. You’ll need to follow up at St. Mungo’s just to-” Alice paused and put a hand to her ear to indicate someone was speaking to her through the comm. “Please excuse me.” She motioned for a nearby hitwizard to keep Rodolphus from leaving the room.
Alice walked into the kitchen and stopped in front of the new arrival. “Mr. Lestrange,” she greeted him pleasantly before reviewing the notes of the auror nearby who had taken his statement. “I can assure you that your brother is fine, but this is an active crime scene and I cannot let you in until we’ve finished our investigation. If you’ll indulge me a few moments then we can all go to St. Mungo’s together.”
Rabastan Lestrange was giving away even less than usual, expression shuttered, taking it all in and thinking fast--had been since he'd tried to apparate straight into the Terrace and had ended up in the back courtyard with hitwizards yelling at him. (And of course it was Alice Travers. Of course.) "My brother's so fine he needs to go to Mungo's?" But even as the words left his mouth, he gave a little shrug and added, hard on their heels, "Yeah, sure, what do you need?"
“It’s just a precaution.” Alice nodded toward the auror with the notepad before continuing. “Have you seen your sister-in-law since her attack at St. Mungo’s? Has she tried to contact you at all?” She already knew how he’d answer to that, but the questions had to be asked.
"Not a peep," Rabbit confirmed.
“Strange things seem to happen a lot while you’re working the night shift, don’t they, Mr. Lestrange?” she said it as if it were just a passing thought. “First the break-in at the Ministry, now your sister murdering people and blowing up a hospital ward. And lest we not forget your father’s mysterious accident in the floo as well.”
Alice clapped her hands together sharply and perked up. “I suppose we shouldn’t keep your brother waiting. You are eager to see him, after all.” She stepped aside and waved her arm toward the other room for Rabastan to enter.
Rabbit's mouth opened, but then closed again, as his gaze twitched back to Alice, assessingly. He'd had nothing to do with Bellatrix getting to Mungo's. But that didn't mean she hadn't used the floo. Might not even mean she hadn't used something he'd set up, possibly even something for a clandestine purpose; for a woman who could be sharp as a scalpel, sometimes she could be so infuriatingly blithe.
All he said was: "Thanks." And followed her gestured directions. He was very bloody eager to see Rodolphus. To make sure he was all right. To find out what the fuck was going on. As much as he could, under close observation.
In the den Tilly was attending to Rodolphus, still muttering all sorts of none so kind things about mistress, and the DMLE officials rifling through the home. Rodolphus didn’t make more than a token protest to her actions, although he was still careful to correct and redirect her when she strayed too far.
“Rabastan.” The name followed by a hiss with the sudden change in position. “I would get up, but…”
“Master will stay right here.”
"You're doing well, Tilly," Rabbit said as he perched on the arm of a nearby chair, one way or another earning himself a brief and narrow look from the house elf. "What the hell?" he added, which seemed nice and broadly applicable. He didn't look over his shoulder, but he assumed Little Miss Suspicious Travers wasn't leaving them alone.
Rodolphus sighed, long and tired. “My sentiments exactly. You think you know...” He rubbed his wrist and the little charm there. She was still alive. Although he wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. “Has anyone heard from mother?”
Rabbit's mouth had twisted up in irritation--bloody Bellatrix, all their attempts and she'd still exploded like some ill-advised Muggle firework--but it pulled into a full grimace at mention of their mother. "You don't think she'd--" And he trailed off, looking at his brother, at all the apparent evidence of the things they'd never--of course!--imagined Bellatrix was capable of. Rabbit knew his steps in this dance.
“I don’t know anything anymore.” Honest and damning all at once, especially for someone who liked to think he had the deck stacked in his favor. Rodolphus thought they were managing Bellatrix, keeping her to task. Except she was a far more powerful a variable only further thrown into chaos after Arlo and the Chalice. “If she was willing to do this to me… Merlin, someone should check on Andromeda.” Narcissa and Lucius as well.
"Fucking hell," Rabbit groaned, smearing a hand over his face. Mostly just fatigue--he'd just finished a bloody night shift--but it made a nice stand-in for the sort of despair and horror he might be feeling in this situation. "Told you not to bloody marry her," he snarled from behind his fingers. Which he actually had, though it had been more projected horror at the idea of the institution than genuine objection to her character.
“I believe you called me a fool.” Rodolphus leaned back into the sofa. “I certainly feel like one now.” Of course he still loved her. He could do without the tantrum. Also without a lot of her other choices recently. “What happens now?”
"They want to take you to Mungo's." One corner of Rabbit's mouth twitched into a smirk. "Presumably on the basis that lightning doesn't strike twice. Oi, copper!" he called, tilting back on his perch to twist and look for the inimitable Auror Travers. Time for the Filth to actually be useful; they could go check up with people and ferry his brother around and maybe Rabbit could go get some blessed sleep.
Alice let the men converse without much comment, watching them closely to glean any information that she could. “Right,” she replied when Rabastan ‘called’ for her. She stepped forward to address Rodolphus. “We’ll be taking you to the hospital. If your brother would like to come, he is more than welcome. Otherwise I would like to personally escort him home and keep a detail on him until we have Mrs. Lestrange in hand. The rest of the family too, as you mentioned. We certainly don’t want a repeat of your morning, Mr. Lestrange.” She glanced at the house elf at his side. “Maybe a calming draught is in order for Tilly here?”
“Should she also be given leave, it might serve Tilly well to go be with Imal at The Park.” The little house elf looked at Alice, daring her to say otherwise.
“Whatever you think would work best for her.” Alice inclined her head, doing her best to ignore the glaring elf.
“Tilly.” That was about all that directive she needed before scurrying off.
Half the house-elf's luck; Rabbit would love to scurry off himself. But no rest for the wicked and all. "You want me to come with?" Rabbit asked, a faint air of teasing overlaying a not entirely false note of concern. "Or shall I go let Mum shout at me about her concern over your wellbeing?" Which would happen, but mostly it meant Rabbit could check over the Park for signs of Bellatrix or anything else they'd prefer the DMLE not investigate too closely.
“Mother should be safe at The Park.” Bellatrix never did have much luck against the topiary. And between Tilly and Imal he wasn’t too concerned about anything untoward being found. “And I wouldn’t mind the company. Although, Bella does have a small studio on the grounds. Auror Travers, I imagine you might want to send a team there.”
“Yes, of course we will,” Alice agreed. “We will contact the French Ministry and have them canvass your Paris estate as well. I can assure you that we will do our best to find your wife, Mr. Lestrange, and get her the help she needs.” No need to mention that included a cell in Azkaban.