Neville sat in his study looking at a map. He had been tracking Bellatrix Lestrange for more than a year now, but she always seemed to be one step ahead.
This time, he had missed her by the largest margin yet. She had left weeks, possibly even months ago before he arrived.
He found the shack that she and the Lestrange brothers had been hiding in. They had left in a hurry, which wasn’t surprising. He knew he wasn’t the only one looking for them.
There were some clothes left behind, along with a few potions ingredients. If there were any clues as to their next destination, they were long gone.
This time it was Bulgaria, but he had been to France, Germany, Russia, and Italy, but she kept slipping through his fingers.
Every place she had gone, he had marked off on the map. She had never stayed in the same country twice, and she seemed to get better at hiding with each country she stayed in. He knew it was only a matter of time before she disappeared completely.
He needed to bring her to justice, not just for torturing his parents into a catatonic state, but also for the sake of all her other victims, but that was easier said than done.
He had spent nearly 200,000 galleons searching for her, and if he wasn’t careful, it could cost him the entire Longbottom fortune… or so his money managers had told him.
He was tired, exhausted really, and close to giving up. Half the time he went out looking for her, it ended up being a wild goose chase. There was no pattern to where she went or how she goth there. She didn’t seem to have a higher goal, other than escaping the bounty hunters and Aurors searching for her.
Neville sat down at his desk, looking at the large stack of mail that had been waiting for him since he arrived. With a sigh, he started going through them, seeing if there was anything worthwhile. One of the letters caught his eye. It was from Harry.
His friend had spent the last few years traveling the world, enjoying a well deserved extended vacation.
He smiled as he thought about simpler times at Hogwarts, before the war, when Lestrange was safely locked away in Azkaban.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I think the last time we saw each other was Ron’s birthday party, and that was almost six months ago. It feels like every time I come back to England, you’re off in another country.
Ron and Hermione are a little worried about you. They said you’ve been looking for Bellatrix on your own.
You need to be careful. She’s a very dangerous witch, and from what I’ve heard, she’s not traveling alone. Both Rodolphus and Rabastan are with her. It won’t take much for them to get the jump on you, or lead you into a trap.
I get it, believe me I do, but this isn’t worth your life.
Please be careful,
Neville looked down at the letter. Harry was a good friend. He was always looking out for him.
He went back to the pile of letters, seeing if there was anything else, maybe another lead on where Lestrange could have disappeared to.
That was odd. It was another letter from Harry, and it was only a few days after his previous one.
I was traveling through Denmark a couple of days ago, and I heard about someone that might be able to help you. They say he can track down anyone or anything.
That was when Neville noticed there was something else in the envelope, a black card. He pulled it out, looking at the white embossed letters on it. “Arcanum.”
Neville went back to the letter curiously.
The guy is pretty paranoid, that’s what the card is for. Tap it with your wand and say Arcanum, and it will give you a time and a place to meet him.
Neville looked through the rest of Harry’s letter, then back at the card before he dropped them back on the desk.
He knew Harry meant well, but he had been down this road before. He hired people to go after Lestrange, and they either ran off with his money or were never found again. It was better to look for her on his own.
A few days of fruitless searching later, Neville returned to Longbottom Manor. None of the contacts he had made over the years had anything new for him. It was like Lestrange dropped off the face of the earth.
He looked at the letter Harry sent him, and the card from this Arcanum person for the hundredth time. He had to admit, he was tempted, especially considering his own lack of success over the last few days. But could he really trust this person, someone he had never even met?
All the trails he was following had come to a dead end. None of the contacts he made were reporting anything new. He was stuck. In a moment of weakness, Neville tapped the card with his wand. Surely there was no harm in just hearing what he had to say.
He looked down at the back of the card as words appeared on the formerly blank card.
Knockturn Alley, The White Wyvern, 11.00 pm, tonight.
Neville immediately realized it was no simple enchantment, revealing a pre-written message.
Whoever this Arcanum was, they were sending him a message in real time. This was far more advanced than the ones his contacts used.
He stared down as the message faded, wondering if this was the type of person he wanted to get mixed up with.
Neville looked at the pictures of his smiling parents on the mantle, then back down at the card, and sighed. He had to see this through. Lestrange needed to be put back behind bars where she belonged.
Neville carefully made his way to the pub, wrapping his cloak tightly around himself to hide his identity, and avoiding eye contact with the people on the street. Knockturn Alley had become even less safe since the end of the war, especially after dark.
He spotted the pub with a sigh of relief and quickly made his way inside. The smell of stale beer, assaulting his nose as he looked around the ramshackle building. The pub, if you could even call it that, had seen better days, and should have been condemned years ago.
Strangely, the pub was empty. There wasn’t even a bartender, just a man in a cloak similar to his own, sitting in the far corner, his face obscured by the shadows.
Neville gulped nervously as he called forth his Gryffindor courage and walked up to the man. “Are you Arcanum?”
“Sit down,” the man said gruffly. “You got a hold of one of my cards, how?”
“A friend of mine, he gave it to me. He said you could find someone for me,” Neville replied nervously.
“This friend of yours have a name?” Arcanum demanded.
“…” Neville paused, not knowing if it was a good idea to bring Harry’s name into this. “Actually, I’d prefer not to say.”
“Hmm,” Arcanum hummed. “You can keep your mouth shut… that’s good. Potter told me you would get in touch.”
Neville’s eyes widened. He already knew about Harry? Was that a test? “You already knew?”
Arcanum nodded. “In my line of work, you have to be careful. Potter already told me who you’re looking for, Bellatrix Lestrange. My question is, what do you plan to do with her once I find her for you?”
“She needs to pay for what she’s done,” Neville replied. “I want her brought to the Ministry to face justice.”
“Are you sure that’s what you want?” Arcanum asked. “With all the crimes she’s committed, especially after breaking out of Azkaban. It’s a forgone conclusion that she’ll be put to death.”
Neville faltered at that. He wanted Lestrange to pay for what she did, but he didn’t like the idea of the killing her, regardless of what she’s done. It wasn’t what his parents would have wanted, either. “Maybe it was a mistake coming here,” Neville said, standing up. Getting mixed up with this man felt like a mistake.
“Sit down,” Arcanum said sternly.
Neville gulped visibly and sat back down. This man was dangerous, he could tell immediately. Why would Harry associate with someone like him?
“I only asked because it would be a waste to send her to the Ministry,” Arcanum clarified. “Especially when there are far better punishments for someone like her.”
“… What do yo mean?” Neville asked, forgetting his initial reluctance for a moment.
“Bellatrix Lestrange is a proud woman, perhaps even vain,” Arcanum continued. “She was born into one of the most powerful and wealthy pure blood families in Europe. She believes that her blood status gives her power, makes her better than everyone else. What better punishment for someone like her than to take that all away?”
“How would you do something like that without killing her?” Neville asked. “And even if you could, I’m not interested in revenge. I want justice.”
Arcanum let out a cold laugh. “Sometimes they’re the same thing, but let’s play it your way. Let’s say I find her, and you bring her to the Ministry, and they actually agree to send her back to Azkaban for you. What then?”
Neville looked at him in confusion. What did he mean? That’s all he wanted, for her to go back to Azkaban, where she belonged.
“I see you haven’t thought this through,” Arcanum pointed out. “Let me enlighten you. She only stayed in Azkaban as long as she did out of some twisted sense of loyalty to her former lord, to show him she was faithful, because she believed it was only a matter of time before he returned, but now she knows he’s dead and gone.”
“In truth, there is no prison that can contain her. She’s resourceful and clever. All she needs is a single opportunity and she will escape again. Then it’s only a matter of time before she kills again. Perhaps she’ll join another up and coming dark lord, or even become one herself. Who knows? But the end result will be the same.”
“So what’s your solution, then?” Neville asked, wondering what he was getting at.
Arcanum said nothing as he placed a book on the table between them.
Neville looked down, reading the tile. “How to Train Your Pet Slave.”
He looked back up at Arcanum, “what is this?” He asked in confusion. “Is this supposed to be some kind of joke?”
“Look again,” Arcanum said, tapping the cover.
Nevile looked down, “By Arcturus Longbottom.” Were they related somehow?
“It was your great, great grandfather who wrote that guide,” Arcanum explained. “A long time ago, when this kind of thing was more widely accepted and practiced, it was considered the definitive work on the subject. It was even proudly displayed on the shelves of the most prominent pure blood families.”
“I’m not interested in whatever this is,” Neville said in disgust. “It was a mistake coming here,” he said, standing up to leave.
As Neville stood up, Arcanum placed a picture on top of the book, catching Neville’s eye. “Who’s that?” He asked.
“You don’t recognize her?” Arcanum asked. “I’m surprised. I thought you would recognize the woman you’ve been hunting for the better part of a year.”
Neville’s eyes widened as it dawned on him. It was her, Bellatrix Lestrange, but like he had never seen her before. The woman was beautiful, possibly one of the most beautiful he had ever seen. In the picture, she couldn’t have been much more than 25 years old.
“Why are you even showing me this?” Neville asked in confusion. “I’ll admit she was beautiful back then, but that was a long time ago. She’s over 50 years old now, and after Azkaban, she looks closer to 60.”
“I sometimes forget how far behind you former Hogwarts students are when it comes to the art of potions,” Arcanum chuckled. “There’s been some major advances in potions research over the last fifteen years. I assure you, she can look like this again, perhaps even better.”
Neville stared at the picture, longer than he wanted to admit. He wondered how such a beautiful woman could have turned out the way she did. He would never admit it out loud, but he was tempted.
Regardless, he knew he couldn’t go through with what Arcanum was hinting at. It was wrong, and it would make him no better than Lestrange herself. “… I don’t want any part of this.”
‘Got you.’ Harry thought, noticing Neville’s hesitation immediately.
“I can find her for you,” Harry offered. “I’ll leave it up to you to decide what to do with her. 150,000 galleons if you want me to bring her to the Ministry, and she can take her chances with the Wizengamot or 200,000 galleons and I’ll bring her to Longbottom Manor. That also includes the potions I told you about.”
Arcanum slid a card across the table to Neville. “That’s where you’ll send the money. Half now, and half when I complete the job.”
“… I want her brought to the Ministry,” Neville decided, picking up the card. “I’ll speak to the Minister and make sure she ends up in Azkaban.”
“Don’t forget your book,” Arcanum replied as Neville turned to leave.
“What? That isn’t mine,” Neville denied. One of his ancestors may have written the book, but that didn’t mean it belonged to him.
“Are you sure?” Arcanum smiled. “I did find it in Longbottom Manor.”
“You’ve been in my house?” Neville asked in alarm.
“I had to make sure I knew who I was dealing with,” Arcanum replied. “You should get the wards around the north stairwell checked out, by the way. A skilled warder could easily bypass them.”
Neville nodded nervously, making a mental note to do just that. In his haste, he picked up both the book and the picture. If this Arcanum could get in, he would have to have all the wards inspected.
Harry smiled as he watched his friend leave. The Arcanum persona he created had so many uses.
He had plotted for months on the best way to punish Bellatrix. She killed Sirius, so simply killing her in return was nowhere near enough. He needed to take what she cared about most away from her.
Her freedom, her magic, her power, it all needed to go. She would learn what it meant to be weak, dependent on someone else to survive, and at the same time, he could give his friend some much needed closure as well, whether he realized it or not.
Neville was too nervous to return to Longbottom Manor, especially after what Arcanum told him. The man had infiltrated his home, without him or even the house elves knowing about it.
He made his way to the Leaky Cauldron, booking a room for the night. He would have a team of warders go through the house with a fine-tooth comb in the morning.
It had taken two full days for the warders to go through Longbottom manor, and it was far worse than he could have imagined.
The whole ward scheme was hanging by a thread. It turned out that after the attack on his parents, no one had repaired the damage or done any maintenance on them. The wards were compromised or outright failing all over the mansion.
Neville ordered the old wards torn down and had new modern ones put in their place. The process had taken another three full days, but his home was finally secure.
When he returned, he looked through the library, trying to find where Arcanum could have discovered the book. After an hour of fruitless searching, he got the idea to ask one of the house-elves.
The elf’s answer had surprised him. Not only did the book come from Longbottom Manor, but it was also from a hidden room within his own study.
Neville stood in front of the wall of his study and pulled on the light fixture his elf had told him about.
There was a click, then he watched as a door appeared in the wall and swung open. When he stepped inside, he found another room just as big as his study, but covered in dust and spiderwebs.
There were a few pieces of furniture, covered in drop cloths, but the rest of the room was barren except for a pedestal near the back of the room. He looked down to see a spot on the pedestal that wasn’t covered in dust, exactly matching the shape of the book in his hand.
“I guess he was telling the truth,” Neville mused as he looked around the room, checking if there was anything else worthwhile inside the room, but found nothing.
“Mipsy,” Neville called for his head elf.
“Master called?” Mipsy replied as she popped into the room.
“Yes,” Neville nodded. “When was the last time someone was in here?”
“It has been almost 150 years,” Mipsy replied.
Neville nodded. It made sense, considering the state of the room. “What was the room used for?”
“Training pets,” Mipsy replied, simply.
Neville blushed as he thought about the implications of what Mipsy had so casually told him.
While he was waiting for the wards to be repaired, he had been tempted to open the book just to see what it was about. He had read the cover more than a hundred times, but he was afraid that if he opened it and read its contents, he would take Arcanum up on his offer.
Neville briskly walked out of the room, sealing it closed behind him, and doing his best to forget it even existed.
Neville went to bed, or at least tried to, but he just couldn’t fall asleep. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw the picture of Bellatrix. He knew it was wrong to feel this way, especially after what she had done to his family, but he just couldn’t get her out of his mind.
He reminded himself again and again of all the terrible things she had done, the people she had killed, how dangerous she was, but it just wasn’t working. It only made the book more tempting.
This was the type of woman that would treat him like the dirt at the bottom of her shoe, someone that would not even give him a second thought, and he had a chance to posses her, and better than that a guide that would show him exactly how to do it.
As he tossed and turned he came to the realization that he wouldn’t get any sleep tonight, especially with the state he was in.
‘I can just read the book,’ Neville thought. ‘Surely there’s no harm in doing just that? Then I’ll see how difficult it is, how dangerous it, and then I can just forget about this whole crazy idea.’
Neville threw off the covers from his bed and went down to his study, flicking on the light, and retrieved the book. He sat down in his armchair and opened it to the first page.
He was enthralled, reading the book. It was a complete step-by-step guide on how to train a ‘pet.’ He read through the introduction, and the first chapter, then the second, and the third.
He hadn’t even realized he had read through the night until Mipsy appeared with his morning coffee, and by that time he put down the book, he was a changed man. He knew he couldn’t let this opportunity slip through his fingers.
“Mipsy, I want the room cleaned from top to bottom by the time I get back,” Neville said as he threw a pinch of floo powder into the fireplace and stepped through. He had some galleons to transfer.
Harry smiled as he looked at his new bank balance. He knew Neville wouldn’t disappoint him. It was only a matter of time before he gave into temptation and read the book, then he would be hooked.
Harry flared out his magic, searching for Bellatrix’s dark mark. When he defeated Voldemort, he not only gained his magic and memories but also control over the dark mark.
After the war ended, he used the mark to track down Voldemort’s former followers, capturing or killing them, then turning them in under various assumed identities for their bounties.
He didn’t need them for his plans, and at this point, they represented a liability more than anything else. The last thing he need was for them to reform with a new leader.
“Well, that is a surprise,” Harry said to himself when he found Bellatrix. She was in Knockturn Alley, of all places. He had expected her to be in Eastern Europe, perhaps even somewhere in Asia by now.
He honed in on her location, finding her in an abandoned building. Ironically, she was not far from where he met Neville a few days ago. She was also alone, and he could no longer detect the Lestrange brothers, which only meant one thing.
Harry apparated to the alley, making his way to the building. He didn’t detect any wards, but he carefully crept into the building, keeping an eye out for traps, but finding none. He found Bellatrix asleep on an old, worn out mattress on the second floor.
She had been in a fight, a bad one, and her injuries were old, at least a few weeks at this point. Various empty potion vials were strewn around her. It was obvious she had been treating her own injuries.
Harry quickly cast a body bind curse on her before she woke up and searched for her wand.
That was when Bellatrix woke up, shouting and cursing, rolling around on the floor, and trying to escape.
Harry cast a quick silencio before she attracted the attention of anyone passing by in the alley, and continued to search her robes. She had no less than three wands in her possession, a portkey, and three vials of potions he couldn’t identify.
He vanished all of them and looked down at Bellatrix, struggling to get free. “Where you’re going, you won’t need any of that.”
Bellatrix didn’t seem to hear him, silently screaming and rolling around in a rage.
He cast a stupify on the deranged witch and apparated them to one of his temporary safe houses.
When they arrived, he set to work countering the spells she was still under, fixing her injuries, and forcing a few vials of blood replenisher potion down her throat for good measure.
He left her to sleep, letting the potions do their work. He couldn’t deliver her to Neville in the condition she was in.
He was lucky to find her when he did, a few more days and she would have died from her injuries.
Bellatrix woke up with a groan, or at least tried to. She could tell immediately that she was held under both a silencing charm and a body bind.
She had barely escaped one fight with her life, only to be captured while she slept a few days later.
She couldn’t believe how wrong things had gone. She should have been at her Dark Lord’s side as he ruled over Britain, instead of fleeing from one country to another, running from Auror’s and bounty hunters alike as she struggled just to stay alive.
“Good, you’re a wake,” a shadowy figure interrupted her thoughts, standing over her.
Bellatrix recognized him immediately. He was the wizard that attacked her while she was asleep. She glared hatefully at him. As soon as she escaped, she would make him pay.
“It’s time for you to go to your new home,” Harry said as he apparated them away.
A twinge of fear entered Bellatrix’s heart as she thought about where this man was taking her. Was it Azkaban or some place worse?
When they arrived, Bellatrix looked around in confusion. They were outside a manor house, somewhere in the countryside. The house looked familiar, but she couldn’t remember from where.
A house-elf appeared in front of them. “You are not invited. What is your purpose here?”
“I’m a little early,” Harry said, “but your Master is expecting me. Tell him Arcanum is here with his order.”
The elf popped away, only to return a few seconds later. “The Master will see you,” the elf said as she opened the gate.
Harry picked up Bellatrix, throwing her over his shoulder as he followed the elf inside.
Bellatrix furrowed her brows in confusion. Why did this wizard bring her here? And why did this place look so familiar?
Harry carried Bellatrix through the house, and into Neville’s study, dropping her on the floor.
Neville looked at Arcanum, then at Bellatrix on the ground in front of him, astounded. “I only hired you a couple of days ago.”
“It would have been sooner, but she had a few injuries that needed to be treated at first,” Harry replied.
“Right, of course,” Neville nodded. “Mipsy, deliver the rest of the funds to Arcanum’s account.”
The elf nodded, popping away.
“Excellent job on the wards,” Arcanum complimented.
“Thanks. I had them completely rebuilt from the ground up,” Neville said proudly.
Bellatrix looked between the two men, and it finally clicked. Longbottom Manor. This was the son of the two Aurors she tortured.
Harry nodded, pulling a trunk from his pocket, and unshrinking it. “The potions we talked about, along with an order form for a specialty shop, I think you’ll find useful.”
“Keep my card. If you have anymore jobs like this, let me know. I’ll see myself out,” Harry said as he used the fireplace to floo out of the manor.
“Hello Bellatrix,” Neville smiled eagerly. “I have some very big plans for you.”
Bellatrix felt a shiver run down her spine as she stared up at Neville. She didn’t like the sound of that at all.
I hope you enjoyed the first part. I know it’s a bit of a slow start, but I wanted to take the time time to setup Neville’s character as a man that tried to do the right thing, but in the end gave into temptation.
The next chapter will dive straight in as Neville establishes who’s in charge and Bellatrix begins to understand her situation.