HP: The Arcane Thief -
Chapter 6: You Are Nothing
Axel decided to take his hands out, since—one:there was no point in hiding if everyone already knew, two:He really liked the food.
It's easily the best food he's ever been able to taste.
He gripped the knife and fork and copied others' movements to eat. He'd copied the technique perfectly, but it was a pity that his hands were trembling and his fingers were moving in random directions, as if not listening to his commands.
Thus, his movements were quite slow and clumsy.
Even though his nerves could be healed, they were a jumbled mess right now. The magic starts developing only after 11 so his was not strong enough to protect this body.
Everyone was shocked to see the bizarre spectacle.
Even Sirius's expression became solemn as he saw this. He was pretty sure that this was not normal and something was wrong with his hands, "What happened to your hands? Have they always been like that?"
Axel hesitated. He couldn't just tell anyone that he'd been put under 5th-degree Cruciatus, could he?
Most people tend to lose their sanity after that and he didn't want anyone to judge whether he was sane or not.
It's like how if a man and a woman stayed in the same room for a night, most people would think they've had sex even if the concerned parties adamantly deny it with sound reasoning.
Axel looked at his hands, "Uh… they were fine until just about three days. But they're kinda crippled now." He answered vaguely.
Sirius's eyes widened and Marlene gasped. Though Axel noticed that Bellatrix didn't seem the least bit surprised.
"Tell me, Axel. How did this happen?" She asked calmly, looking him dead in the eye.
Axel hesitated. What should he do? This is the Minister of Magic. He can't reveal anything that'd link him to the recently killed man.
Thankfully, Andromeda intervened.
The minister of magic pouted, "Always so self-righteous," she muttered but left the topic at that.
Andromeda then turned to everyone, "He was attacked by some evil wizard. It's not incurable. There are still things that can fix him. Let's just all enjoy ourselves and not make him remind him of it again and again by asking questions, alright?"
Andromeda took Axel's hesitation as a sign of trauma. It would be quite natural to have one after what he had been through.
Her words got approval from everyone. It seemed that even if the younger sister was the minister, the household power rested with the elder sister.
Sirius changed the topic, "Have you made arrangements at Hogwarts? Is it safe for Rose?"
Bellatrix shook her head, "I'm not sure. Dumbledore is not allowing Aurors for just one person. But he's guaranteeing Rose's safety."
That got Axel was bit worried.
'Why are they talking about her safety? Would it unsafe for me to go as well?'
Seeing Axel's confusion, Andromeda explained quietly to him, "Rose's situation is a bit special. When she was a child, she survived the killing curse and somehow vanquished the evilest wizard of the time."
Axel wondered what it has to do with anything and how was that girl so powerful at a young age.
Andromeda continued to explain to him, "At that time, she became a celebrity and her parents had passed away. Thus, Sirius, as her Godfather, was supposed to take her in. But he got illegally put into Azkaban and Rose got sent to her abusive Aunt."
"At that time, I was still disowned and couldn't do anything for Sirius. It was only after Bellatrix came back did she first inherited the house black, became the Minister of Magic, and then free Sirius who immediately brought back Rose."
"After then, there were further attempts at Sirius's life which thankfully failed. Thus, it is incredibly clear that someone is out there wanting to make Rose's life miserable. Most likely people from the dark faction."
After knowing all this, Axel looked at Rose in a new light. He had thought that she was just a pampered girl. But she turned out to have somehow destroyed a Dark lord.
Since the atmosphere had lightened up, the dinner went smoothly after that. And thankfully, no one questioned how Axel got hurt, making Axel even more grateful to Andromeda. The black family was super considerate and accommodating. And Axel got to see what a family looks like and how happy they all were.
...Though the best thing was still food, since he could also taste it instead of just being able to look.
He really liked the drink called butterbeer and drank a little bit too much of it. So before the dessert came, Axel went to the washroom.
While leaving, he was surprised to find Bellatrix right outside.
"What's up, minister?" He asked, noticing that she must be waiting for him. Why else would she stand in front of a men's bathroom?
"Cyrus Greengrass," she replied.
Axel frowned, getting a bad feeling. He noticed that he couldn't hear any sound other than their breathing and that's when he realized.
He cursed inwardly,
'Fuck! It's that spell again!' The spell that man used to block sound! This can't be good.
"What is it?" He asked cautiously, preparing to make a run for it.
"Cyrus Greengrass." She repeated. "The name of the man you killed. Thought you should at least know that," she said in a sweet voice that terrified Axel.
This woman seemed completely different from the one he'd seen laughing and playing around like a kid just a while ago.
"I don't know what you're talking about," he said, trying to sound calm even though he was panicking right now.
The woman laughed, "Oh come on, Axel. You don't need to lie to me. We both know you did it. In fact, if I, the minister wanted, it would have been your crime even if you didn't do it."
Axel had to agree to that. Bellatrix made a lot of changes… but she didn't bother changing the Pureblood supremacy advantage. After all… as a Black, she currently stood to gain the most from that. And most Pureblood houses had already pledged loyalty to her. If she wanted to make his life difficult, she could do it very easily.
Axel gritted his teeth, "What do you want?" He asked. It was clear that she wanted something from him. Otherwise, they won't be having this conversation right now.
She raised her eyebrows, "Straight to the point, huh? I like it. Well, what I need is very simple actually. And it causes you no harm. The only reason I didn't simply get it from you was that I wanted to do this without breaking any law and reading people's minds without their permission is illegal."
"You wanna read my mind? Why would you want to do that?! I have nothing! You're the minister of magic! You can gain nothing from this!" Said Axel, finding this situation extremely annoying.
Bellatrix shook her head, "You actually do have something that I want. You see, Andi's husband was tortured to insanity about 10 years ago and she's been trying to find a solution for this whole time. Now, you were tortured as badly as him, but here you are… somehow totally sane."
"So?" Axel asked, finding it pretty absurd.
"So I just need to look at the memories to see how you did it. Andi's already checked your whole brain so biology has nothing to do with the reason."
Axel glared at her. Of course, he was unwilling. Why would he not? His mind was his own.
"Andromeda wouldn't have agreed to let you do this," He said, trying to threaten her using her big sister with the 'I'll tell on you' tactic.
At this, Bellatrix actually laughed, sounding genuinely amused.
"I see. She did a very good job in manipulating you."
"What... are you talking about?"
"It's funny really. How she's created a perfect image of herself in your mind so quickly. Let me enlighten you, you gullible kid, Andromeda is a Black! She's no kind woman!
Axel had already caught on to what Bellatrix was implying and it was what he'd thought of this possibility a lot of times. But, when it was turning out to be true. He was extremely unwilling to accept the reality.
But Bellatrix didn't stop. She mercilessly tore apart the last of Axel's small hope.
"You think she did all this out of kindness? Wrong! Wake up, kid! Who are you to her?! A nobody!
Do you know how many have died for the sake of finding a cure for her husband?! How long has she known you for?! A day and a half. You tell me kid, who's she gonna choose between her husband she's known for decades or you?"
"She's kind? My perfect pureblood arse! She did all this because she thought it was the easier method! Just throw some money and some kindness to a homeless kid and he'll give you anything you want and still thank you afterward. But looking at you, I can tell. You wouldn't have agreed, would you? So, for the sake of my sister, I'll do this and then we go our separate ways. Now, do you agree or do I need to force you?"
In the beginning, Axel's face was showing a lot of emotions. Regret, sadness, unwillingness, anger, etc. But right now, his face showed no emotions. He seemed completely calm.
After a pause,
"....I agree," he said with no emotion.
[Congratulations, you have learned to control your emotions using Occlumency. The speed of progress is unprecedented in the history of the magical world.]
"But let me tell you in advance, you won't find anything you that'll help your sister." He warned her in advance.
Bellatrix was surprised to see his calm reaction.
"What's the matter? You aren't angry at me?"
Axel laughed, "Oh I AM angry at you,"
Angry? That was an understatement. He wanted to Torture this woman with the Cruciatus. He wanted this proud and powerful woman to kneel before him and kiss his feet, begging for mercy for this verbal slaughter. But, it's not possible for now.
But… whatever she said… everything is true as well. That's why...
"I'm angry at you, but I'm also grateful," he smiled self mockingly.
"I was getting too hopeful and positive about this world. You reminded me once again that I should never trust anyone and learn to be satisfied with loneliness."
[Host will always have the system.]
'Thanks, sys. Though now I wouldn't be sad even if you betray me. I'm done expecting anything but worst from the people. Anyways, can you block all the important memories from her?'
[Of course, Axel. And I really wouldn't betray you.] replied system, using his name for the first time.
Looking at the boy who seemed to have given up on the world despite having done nothing wrong, Bellatrix was now regretting doing what she did.
'Did I go too far?'
Looks like her sadistic tendencies still haven't completely gone. But thinking that the boy was someone totally unrelated to her, she squashed down her guilt. She was doing this for her sister. Thus, without much thought, she plunged into his mind.
She found the boy's memory of the incident right in front of her. She saw how Axel very easily stole the pouch of the dignified Lord Greengrasses pouch from right under his nose.
But of course, it was the pouch of a pureblood Lord. The boy was lucky to keep his hand intact. Then, she watched how Syrus, whom she thought was NOT a death eater, but a very powerful wizard proceed to torture the boy in the most deatheater-ish way.
Damn, she never knew that calm and collected man could be like this. It seems like she has to stop his daughter's association with Rose.
She went in deeper to observe how Axel's mind had functioned at that moment to prevent him from losing his sanity.
She was expecting to find some magical phenomenon or something. At least a semblance of Occlumency that was protecting his mind, but all she saw was pride, anger, killing intent, a strong will never give up, and...not an ounce of submission.
There was no sign of any abnormal magical phenomenon other than his weak magic trying to protect him as much as possible, which was a normal response.
'How is this possible?!' She thought as she saw his unyielding eyes in the memory. It was already 8 minutes into torture with no breaks but there was no sign of submission. Even Syrus was looking scared now.
Axel's throat seemed completely mutilated from roaring like a beast. As her gaze went to his throat, she caught sight of something shining there.
Upon taking a closer look, she broke the connection due to how shocked she was.
It was a simple pendant with a distinctive cross symbol.
'No way… how come he has it?!'
'Did he steal it?! And… is this really the same one?' For all she knew, that cross could have been mass-produced and this boy just happened to have one.
But… when she opened her eyes and looked at him again, she realized why she found him familiar. The resemblance was slight, but it was there. Now that she thought about this, everything seemed to fit. This boy was definitely related to 'that man'.
While Bellatrix was shaken up, Axel was very clear-minded.
"Are you done? I bet you didn't find anything that'll help your sister, did you?" He asked, his face showing no emotions. But his eyes were icy cold and his voice also contained a cold fury.
"...." Bellatrix suddenly realized that she'd completely forgotten her real goal.
"Now if you'll excuse me…" he said as he began to leave.
"Wait!" She tried to stop him. She wanted to confirm his connection with that man.
Upon being asked to stop, even Axel's newly gained Occlumency was having a difficult time maintaining his reasoning. He can't stand this woman any longer. He turned back sharply and the glare he sent her way made the Minister of Magic flinch. It contained a hint of madness in it.
Bellatrix recoiled upon facing this familiar hostile attitude that seemed to match that man's. But, it was always reserved for the enemies.
"I won't wait any longer, minister. There's a limit to my patience. If you push too far, I'm ready to die trying to kill you! The deal was to let you see the memory, and we go our separate ways. From now on you and I are strangers."
Bellatrix paled as she heard him repeat her own words. She recalled the hurtful words she'd just said to him and suddenly felt nauseous.
Tristan Hunt, the man who had saved her from the fate of being a death eater's trophy wife. The man who'd changed her way of thinking. After a decade of feeling indebted to him, the first chance she got at repaying him, and she blew it like this. He must be rolling in his grave right now for what she just did.
'Oh, Merlin… what have I done?!'
Axel didn't stop, "Also, make sure to show the memory to your sister. Tell her that her husband was just a pussy who's suffered no hardships if he couldn't even take that much torture. She should stop hurting innocent people for such a weakling and find herself a real man," with those words, he left, while she stood there as if someone had petrified her.
One and a half days later:
With a school bag on his shoulder, Axel walked through the wall barrier to enter the platform 9 ¾.
'Damn system, this is just like the one in Diagon Alley,' muttered Axel as he found himself on a crowded platform hidden from the world. There was a train with a scarlet engine that was releasing steam. The scenery was quite beautiful.
Though the loud noise produced by its engine was quite grating on his nerves.
Everything felt quite surreal. He was actually going to school again. A magic school at that.
'I wonder what I'd be able to do with magic. If I can already be called a magician with just my non-magical tricks.'
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