1 Feb: Issues with Patricide Who: Rabastan Lestrange, & Rodolphus Lestrange What: The brothers Lestrange make sense of patricide and come up with a plan to protect the family from fall out. When: Immediately following the last battle Where: The Lestrange Park Warnings: Swearing. Death. Questionable morals. References to blood/injuries.
Rabbit lurched out of an Apparition so rough he nearly lost his dinner all over the familiar Turkish carpeting in the family hall of the Park. Or maybe that was the churning panic of what he'd just escaped. What he'd done.
The evidence of which he'd brought with him, staggering under the literal burden; Rabbit took a sidelong step, then just sagged to his knees, letting his father's body slide off his shoulder, a thump of dead weight against the floor. Black, occluding robes--he didn't know whose--were tangled around Rabbit's limbs. He dragged the silver mask off his face, gulping air, willing his heart to slow the fuck down.
He flinched and nearly fell over his father's body at the crack of another Apparition.
Rodolphus was not so graceful. The ripping of his robes still in progress as he crashed into the side of the mahogany table. He hissed. Yes, that was an open wound. And yet the first thought was Mother will be cross that I am getting blood on her nice cushions. Which then took a quick turn as to his mother’s exact whereabouts, and the fuss she was bound to make.
Working to steady his breathing, and assess the rest of the room, Rodolphus removed his robes. They would need to be destroyed now. “Rabbit, are you okay? Who did you have with you?” The words sounded far calmer than his mind.
"I'm fine," Rabbit said, fast as reflex, but as he actually turned his thoughts to his own condition, it seemed to be broadly the truth. Scrapes, bruises, a sting amidst sticky hair on the side of his head that suggested a cut of some kind, complaining muscles all down his back but which exertion had caused those he couldn't say. Didn't matter; there were bigger problems.
Like Rodolphus's other question. Their father's body had fallen face-down. Rabbit thought his mask had still been on, not that it mattered; they both knew his pattern as well as they knew their own. "It's--" Rabbit started, looking up at Rodolphus, and then he couldn't finish. He felt hollow and sick, panic curdling in his stomach where he'd felt a brief stab of vicious exultation when he'd seen Corvus go down in a flash of green. Certainty that when Rodolphus saw what had happened--what Rabbit had done--he'd get that look. The one their father had always worn when he said, if not in so many words, Rabbit, you've fucked up yet again.
The one he'd surely been wearing even in the midst of battle, turning away from Rabbit, and Rabbit had lifted his wand and-- "It was a mistake," he gasped, and rolled their father's body over.
Those were not reassuring words. Not after the absolute disaster of an evening. Rodolphus pressed his eyes closed, taking a deep steadying breath in and out. Every possible bad outcome was running through his head. (And yet none of them were truth.) “I will not repeat myself a third time. Who is with you?” He didn’t move from where he stood. He didn’t turn his head to look. Rodolphus wanted to hear the words out loud, from a distance, so he could stay tightly wound like a coil, and plan the response appropriately.
"It's Father." Rabbit said, dull and solid, words like stones in his mouth. Eerily silent here, after the battlefield near Godric's Hollow; the grandfather clock down the hall sounded thunderous. "He's dead."
That seemed to be the last piece to fall into place and the paths ahead cleared. “Father is dead,” Rodolphus repeated back. The Dark Lord was dead. It seemed that they had lost far more of their own than they planned for, and Order seemed far too plucky at the end. Although Dumbledore was also dead. That was probably a good thing, even with all the other unknowns.
Okay, Rodolphus, time to decide.
“This certainly does complicate things. Timing wise at the very least.” Finally he walked toward the body, looking over it in a clinical matter. There didn’t seem to be any large or obvious trauma. “What do you think? Stunner to the heart? Killing curse?” A beat. And then his brain rewound. “Wait. What was a mistake?”
Rabbit looked up to meet his brother's gaze, still on his knees--perhaps in something like penitence, perhaps just because he wasn't sure he could stand just yet. "Killing curse," he replied, and in case his quick certainty wasn't enough, added, "Mine." And then the words came quicker, tripping over each other. "I didn't mean--I aimed past him but someone--there was a shield and it--" He stopped, lips pressing together, and looked down at the body. "I didn't mean to."
Rodolphus held up his hand, willing Rabbit to say nothing else. He wanted to ask other questions, but now was not a time for feelings. Surely mother was up by now. She wouldn’t be long. And if not her, then Tollins, who would absolutely make a scene. “What is done is done, what matters now is what comes next.”
With a flick of his wand, he cast a barrier around the room, locking anyone else out. For a little while at least. His next instinct was to put the body in a stasis field. That would give them more time. Rodolphus knelt next to his brother, placing a hand on his shoulder. “So, yes, father is dead. You cared little for him while living, don’t fall apart now. And if you cannot bear that reality, then I will take it from you.”
Rabbit shrugged the hand off, his "No," barely short of a snarl. He smoothed his voice quickly, though it was still tight as he added, "This is mine. I'll cope with it." But that--the touch, the offer, the anger, something--seemed to be the jolt he'd needed; he rubbed a hand over his face, smearing grime, and grimaced. "Fuck. Did I see--" He'd been distracted, toward the end, but he thought he'd seen... "Did He really fall?"
Rodolphus met his brother’s gaze, sizing him, considering the weight of his words. The offer would still stand and his brother might not have the option of choice next time. “Yes. The Dark Lord has fallen, but he seemed to also take Dumbledore with him.” There was also the question of where and how Bellatrix was, but she could hold her own. “Now, Rabastan. I need you to stand up. We have to figure out what to do about …” He motioned toward the body. “Father.”
The urge to say, burn the body and dance in the ashes was so strong Rabbit actually bit his lip against it, covering it in the effort of hauling himself to his feet. Besides, the body wasn't the question. It was the story. What they said about the fact that Corvus Lestrange had died the same night as an enormous fucking firefight.
Rabbit grimaced again. "Sorry," he muttered, not so much for the act as the timing. "Even if we get rid of the body and play innocent about his disappearance, it looks bad." There wasn't any good way out of this. (Or was there? Piqued by a challenge, as always, Rabbit's mind started ticking over.)
“A stupefy to the chest would have been easier to sort out.” Rodolphus ran through his father’s personal and public calendar for the last week and the week ahead. Gratefully with the holidays there were a few social events, but nothing too large by way of work. His last public outing was the Solstice Gala. “What is the chance we can convince mother to visit the cousins for a week or two? Have them abroad and then perhaps fall victim to an unfortunate portkey or floo accident?” It wouldn’t be unheard of. Last minute trips were meant to romantic, charming even, and appropriate presents certainly fitting to the lives of semi-retired wealthy witches and wizards.
Rabbit pointed a finger and a nod at his brother, like he was awarding points for sensible suggestions. It was a good one, and if it wouldn't deflect all the suspicion, it certainly introduced some nice uncertainty, and there probably wasn't a way to get out scot-free, unless...
Unless there was some way they could turn this. Make it work for them. "What comes next?" he asked, the turn of his thoughts carving a crease between his eyebrows. "Overall, I mean. If He's--" Couldn't quite come at saying it aloud yet. "If the Ministry thinks the Dark Lord is out of the picture, they come down on the rest of us hard, right? Or try to. What if we--" He paused, licked his lips, lined the idea up in his mind. "What if we cooperated?" The slight curve at the corner of his mouth reassured that he was suggesting no actual such thing.
Rodolphus stopped his mental run through of how to get mother out of the country and on board. She didn’t need to know the truth. It would be better if Corvus died with honor, in battle. This was not honorable, but he would at least give his brother the dignity of being heard.
"What if I--we?--surprised him fresh back from this debacle? I knew Father held conservative ideals, we've argued about them in the past, but I had no idea, honestly Auror." Rabbit laid a hand on his chest. "Confrontation ensues, with tragic results, priori confirms. It was self-defense, I'm distraught, I'll obviously help in any way I can but I didn't even realise..." Rabbit trailed off, pulling a bit of a face. "Too convoluted?" He could be, he knew it; it had often been reassuring to have Rodolphus--and his clearer vision--around to serve as check and balance.
In response, all Rodolphus could do was press a hand to his head, gently massaging his temple with his thumb. “You do realize that creates more questions than answers?” His voice was calm, careful, slow as if he was speaking to a child. ”It brings our family under further scrutiny. And how do you hold up to veritaserum? Or a skilled legilimens intent to simply drag us through the mud?” As he spoke he pulled up his sleeve to glance at his own mark - still there but not as bright as just hour before. “We are not like the Yaxleys or even the Malfoys. I refuse to simply yield. Or to let you do so. The Order has people in the Ministry just as we do, nothing good would come of this, little Rabbit. There would be no favor gained.
“And they would sooner throw you to the dementors, defense or not, when we need you -- I need you -- to help pick up the pieces in the days to come.” He traced the edges of his mark, and his gaze drifted to the smaller, subtle tattoo on his wrist. “Bellatrix will need you as well. Perhaps even more so.”
Part of Rabbit found the idea of going up against the DMLE--and the Order within it--and everything they could throw at him a downright fascinating challenge. But while he'd never been the sensible brother, he knew enough to take guidance from the one who was. (Especially when he valued Rabbit, in ways that their father never had.)
"Fine. The boring pretense it is." But for all the reluctance of his words, Rabbit turned his mind readily to the task at hand. "Better get them both out of here tonight, on the off-chance the Ministry come knocking. I assume both the houses are clean?" Or at least clean to the superficial assessment the Aurors could make without warrants and due cause and all that nonsense. Rabbit fidgeted a little, scraping blood from beneath a fingernail, before adding, "Should I come with to tell Mum?"
Rodolphus weighed his brother's words now against the rejected offer to further mitigate the risk and alter memory as it were. It was still an option, but tabled for now. “I will have Tollins and Imral ensure our affairs are in order.” He glanced down at the body. “If wish to you join me, you are always welcome, but I am capable of completing the task on my own should you prefer to clean your hands and see to your wand. But either way, let us make haste as there is much to get through this evening.”
"At your command," Rabbit murmured with the tweak of a smile; the sort of thing he otherwise said only to the Dark Lord, which wiped the smile away as quickly as it had started. "I'll go wash up," he added, subdued. Whatever he did would be wrong with their mother--whether he went along or stayed away--so he might as well avoid what would be a thoroughly unpleasant conversation. And he did need to clean up, get back to his alibis (trickier than here in the house all evening), scrub his wand--
"Wand," he repeated, and looked back at Corvus's body. "What about his? However we say he died they'll probably run it through priori." Rabbit couldn't do anything with it; his father's wand had never been any happier with him than the man himself.
“Ah yes, perhaps another tragic loss in the accident.” Rodolphus dropped his containment ward. And of course, little Tollins was waiting not quite patiently on the other side. He stood blocking the doorway as it opened, blocking the view. “Now, Tollins. I need you to remain calm, quiet. Get Imral and ensure the Park and the Terrace have nothing out of sort. Am I clear?”
The house elf made a rather undignified squeaking. Probably just now seeing the body of his master. Rodolphus ignored the aside, waiting until Tollins looked back at him.
“Yes, sire. Much work to be done. And mistress-”
Rodolphus put his hand up. “Worry not about mother. I will deal with her. You have your task.”
Tollis nodded, trying to contain a nervous sort of fidgeting, before snapping to work.
“I will go find mother. Join us when you’re ready?” Their long night was going to get much, much longer.