The Spoils of War


Story Summary:
Harry kills Lucius Malfoy, Rodolphus LeStrange, and Voldemort and, as Bellatrix LeStrange and Narcissa Malfoy lie in the mud at his feet, proclaims an ancient cry of victory. Little does he realize the impact of claiming the spoils of war.

Chapter 04

Chapter Summary:
Harry kills Lucius Malfoy, Rodolphus LeStrange, and Voldemort and, as Bellatrix LeStrange and Narcissa Malfoy lie in the mud at his feet, proclaims an ancient cry of victory. Little does he realize the impact of claiming the spoils of war. This Chapter: Potter Manor; Nightmares; Shame. NOTE: Not part of my Dance Series on Schnoogle.





"Well, it is obvious that this is your bedroom," Narcissa said in a neutral tone, for once.

Harry grit his teeth. "And what makes you say that?"

"It is obviously the master bedroom. It's the largest on the floor, it is set up to get the most sun during the day, and it should get a good amount of cross ventilation without resorting to charms," Narcissa said archly, raising her eyebrows in a superior manner for about the fifteenth time today.

Harry had a fleeting thought of ordering the snobby bitch to shave off her eyebrows, or maybe shave her head completely. "And what if I don't like it?" he drawled in imitation of Narcissa.

The elder of the Black sisters sniffed. "It is your house. You may sleep anywhere you like. You can take the house elves' quarters if you so desire." She stopped short. She suddenly realized she was more correct than she realized. He was the master and he had the right to sleep anywhere he wished. Including in her bed.

Harry snorted. "Maybe I should put you in the house elves' quarters. Dobby and Winky sure have done more to deserve comfortable living quarters than you ever have," he said acidly.

Narcissa simply nodded. She watched Harry closely. He was clearly angry. But she saw none of the predatory look of a man with power over a woman. Maybe he hadn't realized the power he had over the her and Bellatrix. Narcissa knew her sister had understood. But Belle had not reacted. She was being alarmingly submissive. She had apparently come to the conclusion that she had traded one master for another, just as she had when she joined the Death Eaters so many years ago, trading that shit Rodolphus for an even worse fate-Voldemort.

Or maybe Harry wasn't interested in women. Narcissa gave in to a small frown. No, she had seen the way he had looked at that Mudblood. She saw the subtle signs of longing. What he saw in that girl, she had no idea.

Then she paused. 'Who am I to be making judgments on purebloods and mudbloods,' she thought bitterly. 'I'm just property.'

"Well?" Harry asked, staring at her.

Narcissa blinked, startled out of her woolgathering. "What?"

Harry rolled his eyes. "Have you decided which bedroom you want? Or have you decided on the house elves' quarters after all?"

Narcissa paused, a bit surprised. "I'm to have my choice of my own room?"

Harry closed his eyes and shook his head in exasperation. "There are eight bedrooms on this floor, and another ten on the top floor. I don't think you would want curl up somewhere on the ground floor, nor in the attic or the cellar. I think we have enough room so we don't have to double up. Unless you and your sister want to share."

Narcissa narrowed her eyes. "I haven't shared a bedroom with my sister since I was five years old. I think I am grown up enough to sleep on my own, if you please." Again, she snapped her mouth shut in alarm. 'Let's not go planting ideas in the head of that boy, that potential rapist,' she thought furiously.

"Well?" Harry repeated.

Narcissa sighed. "The corner one down the hall would suit." It really was a lovely room, she thought idly.

Harry nodded. "You have your clothes and things?"

Narcissa sighed. Yes, she had the outfit that she wore battle and then at Hogwarts. Despite Dobby's furious cleaning, it was ruined for regular use, of course, and under normal circumstances she would have binned it. But now, under these conditions, it would probably be serviceable for the house. Plus she had two changes of clothes, albeit of taste that could best be described as common, plus the nightwear, all of which Dobby had provided during the past five days of her confinement. Doubtless Dobby would make sure they were clean and pressed. The little elf knew her requirements. She gave Harry a nod.

Harry turned his attention to Bellatrix. "And you?" he snapped.

Bellatrix bowed her head. "May I take the blue room? Around the corner?"

Harry sighed. "Whatever you like," he said in a resigned manner.

Bellatrix gave him a smile from beneath her long, jet black hair.

* * *

Narcissa had finally drifted off to sleep after more than two hours.

She had run over in her mind the silent dinner the three had shared. She was quite surprised at the quality of the meal. Harry had taken in Dobby and some strange elf named Winky, who once had served the Crouch family. Then Dobby had gone into his 'Please, Dobby's great friend, Master Harry Potter' routine about two house elves at Hogwarts who once had served the Potter family at the Manor and Harry simply shrugged. Suddenly, the Manor's house elf population had doubled to four with the addition of Nandy and Dodi.

It turned out that Dodi was a superb cook. Harry managed to empty most of his purse to allow Nandy and Dodi to do some shopping, and the resulting meal she prepared was at least on par with anything served in Malfoy Manor.

But that wasn't what kept Narcissa up. She kept expecting at any moment a knock on the door, if Potter was even that polite, and be forced by a sex-crazed Gryffindor.

It never happened. So it was well after midnight before she got to sleep.

Her slumber was interrupted by a scream. Narcissa jumped out of bed and grabbed for her wand, only to realize again that she no longer had one. Then she heard a door down the hall being yanked open and footsteps pounding. Then she heard Harry's voice anxiously ask what was going on. Narcissa grabbed her dressing gown and raced down the hall and turned the corner to see her sister's bedroom door open.

She burst in to see Bellatrix cowering in the corner, crying hysterically and clutching Potter as if her life depended on it.

As she raced to her sister's side, she could hear Harry whispering softly.

"It's all right. It was only a dream. You're safe. I won't let anything hurt you," he seemed to be repeating over and over again as he stroked her sister's hair.

Narcissa sighed as she knelt down next to her sister. She had thought Potter was attacking Bellatrix from the screaming. But it was only another of Belle's nightmares. Narcissa had been through three of these already. Three in six nights since the battle. She reached out to stroke her sister's hair, only to have Bellatrix flinch.

"Shh, shh, shh, shh," Harry whispered softly as he rocked her gently in his arms. "It's only your sister. It's Narcissa. We won't let anyone hurt you," he cooed.

Narcissa saw Bellatrix, still curled up in a ball and clutching Harry desperately, relax a little, and Harry looked up with a pleading look. "It's going to be all right," he whispered. "Your sister is here. She can take care of you now."

At that statement, Bellatrix seemed to clutch Harry even tighter.

Harry sighed and, as he continued to stroke Bellatrix's hair soothingly, motioned with his head to Narcissa to get down on the floor to hold her from the other side. Narcissa nodded and held her sister.

After about ten minutes, Bellatrix finally began to relax and seemed to nod as sleep seemed ready to reclaim her. Harry gave Narcissa a nod and then he managed to lift Bellatrix and carry her over to the bed. As Harry began to get up, Bellatrix grabbed the sleeve of his pajamas. She turned to him with frightened, tear-soaked eyes. "Please don't go," she whispered. "Stay with me. Please?" Then she turned to her sister. "You too, Cissy. Please stay tonight."

Narcissa looked at Harry, who gave a resigned shrug. She nodded and Harry cautiously and reluctantly slipped under the sheets behind a curled up Bellatrix, while Narcissa slipped into bed to face her sister. "Don't worry, Belle," Narcissa whispered. "We won't leave you."

* * *

Narcissa woke early the next morning to an unfamiliar sound and movement in the bed. She blinked a few times, trying to get her bearings. She wasn't used to sharing a bed. She and Lucius had used separate bedrooms from the start and he rarely stayed around after their increasingly infrequent sexual encounters over the years.

Then she remembered the previous night. Belle's nightmare.

She turned to see Bellatrix, still asleep, her mouth open, making little mewling sounds. And Narcissa saw Potter, his arm draped over Bellatrix's waist, gently fondling her sister's left breast through her nightgown.

She frowned, then peeked over Bellatrix's body to see that Potter, too, was asleep. Narcissa frowned, then remembered the gentle way that he had calmed Bellatrix and brought her back from whatever demons were haunting her dreams. She shook her head and got out of bed and returned to her room.

* * *

Narcissa was in the small coffee room off the large kitchen when she heard him come in.

"Morning," he said quietly, looking a bit uncomfortable as he reached for the pot and began pouring a cup. "What?" he suddenly exclaimed, yanking his silver tea-strainer out of the cup.

Narcissa smirked. "It's coffee," she said.

Harry looked up at her. "You drink coffee?"

Narcissa tilted her head in assent. "Very strong coffee. I must have Dobby teach Dodi to brew it properly, rather than just 'whip it up,' or whatever house elves do. I find putting a few eggshells in the pot takes some of the acid out when you are making strong coffee."

Harry grumbled a little before Dodi popped in with a fresh pot of water.

After sipping their drinks in silence for a few moments, Harry looked up from under his still wet and always unruly mop of hair. "Cissy and Belle?"

Narcissa looked up in surprise. "Yes. We've always called each other that."

Harry nodded and took another sip. He looked up again. "Mind if I call you that?"

Narcissa's eyebrows rose in surprise, then she frowned. "You may call us whatever you like."

Harry closed his eyes and sighed. "So you would rather I not."

This time, Narcissa blinked in confusion. "Well, actually, I don't mind. I don't think Belle would either. But why ask?"

Harry looked at her with a puzzled expression. "I was just being polite. And I'd prefer it if you'd just call me Harry, okay? No more 'Potter'."

Narcissa, now Cissy, nodded.

Dodi reappeared, this time with a covered plate of freshly baked croissants, along with butter and jam

Harry raised his eyebrows at this.

Cissy returned Harry's look. "I asked Dodi for these. I know you are probably used to Hogwarts fare, with greasy food delivered by the shovel-full, but I find these most satisfying and very delicious."

Harry sniffed the plate. It did smell good. Then he tried one. Cissy was right. They were delicious.

Cissy actually ventured a small smile. "Try not to inhale them. Savor each bite."

Harry glanced up to see if he was being mocked. But she seemed to be giving him a pleasant, if somewhat indulgent, look.

Harry found he was enjoying savoring the pastry. Then he gave Cissy a mischievous look. "Lots of crumbs."

Cissy sniffed. "That's why God created napkins."

The two continued to enjoy their light breakfast in silence for a while. Finally, Cissy cleared her throat and spoke. "I appreciate what you did last night for Belle," she said quietly.

Harry simply shrugged.

Cissy bit her bottom lip. "I know you don't like us. You didn't have to help her. But you did."

Harry sighed. "I know what it's like," he said softly. "I've had nightmares, too. And I know what it's like not to have anyone there to comfort you."

Cissy raised her eyebrows in curiosity.

Harry's face clouded. "You're right. I don't like you. And some of the things Belle's done ... well, they're beyond forgiveness. My Godfather. The Longbottoms. God knows what else." Then he lowered his head. "But I can't sit by and ignore someone in pain."

Now Cissy lowered her head. "She's had some horrible things done to her," she said quietly. "Unforgivable things." She closed her eyes in pain. "She's my sister. I should have been there for her."

"You can be there for her now," he murmured.

She hated the implied rebuke. But she also understood. He was right.

* * *

Cissy heard the rustling of silk and the footsteps coming from the kitchen area and was startled when Harry suddenly gulped down the last of his tea and, with barely a nod, was gone.

Belle entered the coffee room from the opposite direction. "Croissants?" she asked with a tired smile.

Cissy nodded. "And coffee. Tea if you must."

Belle sat down and attacked the croissants with enthusiasm.

Narcissa sighed as she watched her younger sister eat. Belle looked like hell. But then, she usually looked like hell, even before Azkaban. Belle had been a beautiful girl, and still was beautiful, with her long black hair often cascading mysteriously over her forehead to partially obscure her flashing blue eyes. Her face was such that it could transform from mischievous to seductive to frightening in a flash. And she always had a nice figure, almost as good as Narcissa's if truth be told, the older sister thought ruefully.

But since her marriage to Rodolphus, and especially after Azkaban, her face had taken on a haunted, hollow look. The rings under her eyes seemed to resist all but the most carefully applied glamour charms. And her eyes ... well, at times they looked almost dead, except when she was angry. And she had gotten so thin. Bony even. Cissy sighed.

"Are you all right?" she asked quietly.

Belle frowned as she bit into her pastry. She slowly glanced you at her sister through her long dark hair, still wet from her shower. "Better," she said in equally quiet tones.

Cissy frowned. "Is it anything you can talk about?"

Belle put the croissant down and looked down at her plate. "The usual," she murmured.

The sisters sat in silence for several moments before Cissy reached across the small table and gently grasped Belle's wrist. "I'm here for you now, Belle. From now on, I'll always be here for you."

Belle slowly closed her eyes. A small tear escaped. "And Harry, too?" she whispered hoarsely.

Cissy's eyes fluttered. "I don't know."

"He ... he understands, I think. Maybe a little anyway," she said in a barely audible voice. She chanced a glance at her older sister. "Will he ever ... forgive me?"

Cissy pursed her lips. "I don't know, Belle." She played with the edges of her plate for a moment. "But he was there for you last night."

Belle nodded slowly. "It was nice waking up this morning," she whispered.

There was a moment's pause. "Did something happen this morning after I left?"

Belle sighed. "He just held me. It felt good. Warm. Gentle. Like he really cared. Like someone finally cared. Like a wonderful dream." She paused for several moments. Then she gave a more ragged sigh. "Then he seemed to jerk away from me. Like the dream was over. Like he finally realized who I was. Who he was holding. And he was gone," she said, tears now dripping down the tip of her nose and onto her plate."

Cissy frowned deeply and tightened her grip on her sister's wrist. "He was asleep, Belle. He probably woke up and panicked. He's just a boy. He was probably embarrassed," she said soothingly.

Belle continued to take deep ragged breaths. "He probably thought I was ... that girl on the train. When he realized who I was ... what I was ... he was probably disgusted." Her head was now lowered to the point that her hair was brushing her plate.

Cissy stood up and crouched next to her sister, embracing her tightly. "He was there for you last night," she murmured. "He cares about you. He didn't have to, but he came for you to take care of you." She was breathing deeply now. "He cares ... he cares about us. He'll take care of us," she whispered to her quietly weeping sister.

* * *

She found him in his main office on the ground floor, sitting behind a huge desk, absently glancing at various messages that doubtless had been owled in the past day, then tossing them in the trash bin.

"Harry? May I come in?"

Harry gave a noncommittal shrug, and Cissy walked over to sit in one of the guest chairs by the desk. He gave her a furtive glance and then went back to fiddling with the large stack of messages.

Cissy sighed. Then she cleared her throat. "We are not receiving the Daily Prophet. Is there a reason for that?"

Harry grunted. "They only print a pack of lies. Why should I bother?"

Cissy frowned. "We need to know what is going on in our world. You need to know."

Harry glanced up again. "Why? What's the point? They don't print what's going on. They just make up things. Whatever will sell newspapers," he grumbled.

Cissy frowned. "Of course they make things up. They report rumors and innuendo and all sorts to silliness. But we need to see what they are printing, what people are reading about."

Harry looked up, now annoyed. "Why?" he demanded.

"To know what people are thinking about ... what they are hearing about ... what they are interested in."

Harry flung another message into the trash bin. "Who cares what people think?" he said sullenly.

Cissy's frown deepened. "You should care," she said urgently. "You are now the richest and most famous wizard in Britain, possibly the world. That makes you a person of great interest to all. But it also makes you a target for the corrupt, the dark, the venal, the ambitious. You have to know who they are and what they are about. The Daily Prophet is a good way not just to sense the pulse of the general public, but to see where the next threat is coming from. Do you understand?"

Harry slammed the message he'd been holding down on the desk, making Cissy jump. "Why should I care?" he shouted.

The elder of the Black sisters paused. "Because this isn't the perfect, black-and-white world you grew up believing in in your little Gryffindor common room. You destroyed the Dark Lord, so you think everything should be fine and dandy, is that right? The big hero should now be beloved by everyone, right? Well that may be true for the next week or so. But believe me, there are witches and wizards out there who would love to see you fail, to discover you have feet of clay, to steal what they can of you, to destroy you--for their own profit, or just for the sheer fun of it. You're living in a grown up world now, whether you like it or not. And you have to learn to protect yourself."

Harry stared intensely at the top of his desk. "What do you care?" he muttered.

Cissy now sighed audibly in exasperation. "Because like it or not, my fate and the fate of my sister are bound to yours," she said almost regretfully. "I know you don't like us. But we can help you. I can help you ... if you let me."

Harry leaned forward, running both hands through his hair in frustration. "I don't want this. Any of this!" he moaned.

"You have no choice," Cissy said quietly. "But we can help."

Harry shrugged in resignation. "What am I supposed to do?"

Cissy gave a thoughtful nod. "First, be seen. Get out in public. Let everyone know you are around, that you are not some strange creature who comes out and saves the world, then crawls back into his cave until the next threat arises. Let them see their hero as a real human being. Showing them that you are human, that you are one of them, makes them feel special. You don't have to be chummy or play the politician, although that may help. But let them see you being Harry Potter, not some mythic figure." She paused in thought. Then she looked up with a devious smile. "Go shopping. Lord knows, seeing you in those oversized, worn-out clothes you wear, you need it."

Harry grunted. "I don't like shopping. I don't care what I look like," he said petulantly.

Cissy sighed again. "Well, you should. People don't want to see their hero walking around like some ragamuffin."

Harry began to fidget. "I ... I don't know how," he muttered.

At this point, Cissy leaned back in exasperation, rolling her eyes. "Well I do. Perhaps we should go out to Diagon Alley this afternoon to show the colors and to get you looking presentable, not like a fugitive from Knockturn Alley."

Harry rose from his chair and began pacing. "This is all ... so stupid."

Cissy recognized Harry's mood. She had gone through some of the same minor tantrums with a petulent Draco when he was growing up. And she knew Harry was at the point of giving in and going along with her suggestions. She knew now she could begin pushing to him. "Harry, there are a couple other errands we should run. If I'm going to live here, I am going to need some clothes. We really should stop by the Manor ..." She paused a moment, biting her lip at the slip. "We should stop by Malfoy Manor so I can get some of my own clothes. And you should make an appearance there to make your claim on the wards and introduce yourself to the house elves. Maybe not today. I can get Dobby to pick up some clothes for me for the time being. But you should also meet some of the people who work for ... well, who work for you now on some of my late husband's holdings."

Harry stopped pacing and flopped back down in the chair behind his desk. "Anything else?" he said sarcastically.

Cissy lowered her head. "Belle could use some decent clothes," she whispered.

She had expected a snort or an angry outburst. Instead, Harry simply lowered his head and looked away. She could see an tinge of red in his cheeks. She slowly and carefully reached out across the desk to place her hand on his wrist. "What happened with Belle?" she said softly.

Harry flinched. "Nothing," he muttered.

"Harry, it's nothing to be embarrassed about. I know you were doing your best to comfort her. And you fell asleep. It was natural to embrace her to ease her pain."

Harry closed his eyes tightly, as if to squeeze out the memory. "I ... I wasn't embarrassed ..."

Cissy frowned. "Listen, my sister isn't a young virgin. She was married for eighteen years. She is not likely to be traumatized by an inadvertent bit of fondling."

Harry looked up at her with pained eyes. "I'm not embarrassed," he said hoarsely. "I'm ashamed."

Cissy stared in confusion at the young man. "What? Why?"

Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "She was in pain. She didn't need someone ... in my position taking advantage of her, pawing her, even if it was in my sleep."

Cissy sat there in open-mouthed surprise. "I don't ... understand."

Harry leaned forward again, his hands grasping his hair tightly. "That stupid spell," he growled. "I won't let it steal my soul. I won't use it to hurt her ... or you. I want ... I want my children, if I ever have any ... and their children ... to be proud of me."

It took her a few moments for his statement to register in her mind as she watched a small tear glide down his cheek, just as she had watched tears flow earlier from her sister.

She had feared from that first moment on the battlefield that she would the thrown into a world of pain, abuse, and humiliation at the hands of this young man. That everything she ever was, that everything she had tried to be in her entire life would be sundered by the greedy hands of some vindictive adolescent. And she feared that all the trauma and torment that had left her sister on the brink of insanity would continue here at his hands until Belle would be pushed over the edge. And Narcissa feared that she would be forced to witness to it, powerless to stop it.

And yet here was this self same young man, putting himself through torments out of concern for her and her sister, fearing he was the one making them uncomfortable.

She took a deep breath. "Don't worry, Harry. We trust you. We'll take care of each other. All of us," she whispered.

Author notes: Thank you for all your reviews. All authors love reviews. But they also often raise issues for me to think about down the road.