“I have never seen so many ducks in one place,” she uttered, walking up from behind. Seriously, Hermione had never seen so many ducks before. Let alone a duck on Black Lake, probably because there was a giant squid that dwelled within it.
There had to be over one hundred of them covering the lake and clambering near the dock, where a lone figure stood tossing bread into the water, or rather the wall of ducks.
Bellatrix Lestrange, former Death Eater, now known as Professor Black, was released for good behavior (mainly because the Ministry wanted to cut guard costs now that they couldn’t use dementors because it was seen as “inhuman”) and lightly supervised with regular check-ins.
The DADA Professor heard Hermione’s approach. “What? I can’t be trusted alone for a few minutes?” she uttered, without turning around. Bellatrix knew who dared to interrupt her alone time; no one else was foolish enough to do so. No student would think to bother her least they get assigned an eight-foot essay on the long term effects of dementors. And none of the other professors really enjoyed her presence and certainly wouldn’t go out of their way to find her.
“You know you can’t be out here alone,” Hermione said, after coming to a stop at the edge of the dock, standing next to the older witch.
“Yes, yes,” Bellatrix answered while tossing the last piece of bread at her horde of ducks, “big bad Death Eater plotting something evil the moment people turn their backs. It’s not like I couldn’t plan something dastardly in the past five years of being free.”
Hermione had nothing to say to that. When she first heard that Bellatrix was being released into society, she was positively sure that everyone in the damned Ministry was mental. Bellatrix Lestrange, who apparently changed her name back to Black after her husband’s death at the end of the war, who tortured people into insanity, murdered an unknown number of people including her own cousin, and maimed minors just to name a few of her crimes. And the Ministry wanted to release her and place her around children. Even with Auror supervision, Hermione didn’t see how it wouldn't end in a flaming disaster.
The more optimistic part of her wanted to believe that Bellatrix Black, the Most Loyal Lieutenant of Voldemort and most hateful pureblood supremacist, could change, but the other part of her wanted to see their plan backfire, spectacularly.
Yet, here she was five years later, standing on a dock surrounded by quacking ducks, right next to Bellatrix Black, someone that she would have considered to be her mortal enemy about six years ago, now her co-worker and friend(?).
“So,” Hermione said, breaking the silence between them (excluding the excited quacking, perhaps they thought she brought more bread). “Why are you out here?” Hermione was still surprised to find her there. She didn't think Bellatrix enjoyed nature, let alone the cacophony of hungry quacking.
“World Domination.” Bellatrix’s answer was greeted with silence, so she spoke again, “I like animals.”
“You could’ve fooled me when you ‘Avada Kedavra’ed that bird from the sky.”
Bellatrix grinned, ignoring the duck pulling on her dress, trying to get her attention. “That bird asked for it.”
Two Weeks Ago
Professor Granger and Professor Black led their students into the Forbidden (only in name) Forest (because everyone and their mothers wander into it) as a joint field trip to learn about creatures and find ingredients for an upcoming potions lab.
Both Professors stood back allowing the 5th year students to safely explore (or, well, explore with no deaths, but maiming wasn’t off the table).
Hermione stood back in the shade, carefully watching the students from afar, and listened to the sound of birds singing.
Bellatrix on the other hand, stood on guard, with her gaze scanning the trees for any movement that wasn’t a student prancing about the decently deadly and traumatizing forest.
Hermione turned back around and could have sworn Bellatrix was looking a lot older than when she entered the forest. Mainly because her hair had seemingly gotten more white in it.
Bellatrix’s wand pointed in her direction, and Hermione turned, hearing something rustling nearby.
Realizing it was nothing but the wind, Hermione relaxed, only to see a green streak flash in the air followed by the sound of something small hitting the ground. The birds grew quiet.
Hermione frowned, Bellatrix knew she couldn’t use the unforgivables, and yet, she did right near the students no less. She also saw her point her wand at her hair and uttered ‘scourgify.’
The period was almost up, so Hermione called back the 5th years and sent them back to the castle. Bellatrix moved to join them, only for Hermione’s hand to catch the older witch’s wrist and pull her back.
“What was that back there?!”
“Nobody nor bird fucks with the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.” Bellatrix smirked as she trailed off suggestively, “unless…”
The ex-Death Eater’s remark earned her a sharp elbow to the ribs. “I’m serious, Bella.” Hermione emphasized. “A student could have seen you. Not to mention the weekly Auror check-in.”
Somehow, Hermione’s hand ended up in Bellatrix’s, who gave a comforting squeeze, “You worry too much, pet.” Bellatrix grinned and continued, “I casted it wandlessly, wordlessly, and perfectly, as always. Besides, Nymph loves me.”
Hermione rolled her eyes and sighed. Luckily nobody saw Bellatrix perform the curse, and when Tonks checks Bellatrix’s wand at the week’s end, she won’t find anything amiss. As far as the Ministry cared, Bellatrix Black was a reformed woman, an eccentric yet well respected Professor at Hogwarts, but mostly importantly not their problem. The check-ins were more of an empty gesture than an actual safety measure at this point.
Hermione didn’t buy Bellatrix’s explanation. In all of her years of teaching at Hogwarts, she had never seen Bellatrix with an interest in ducks. Something was up.
She stared at Bellatrix’s face trying to figure out what she was planning that would require an absurd amount of ducks.
A sly smile, shifted into a full grin as Bellatrix sweeped her arm out. “Granger, I introduce you to my DA.”
Hermione burst out laughing from the sheer absurdity.
“You laugh now, but soon this world will be plunged into complete and utter chaos.” Bellatrix had a crazy gleam in her eyes, one that Hermione understood as her ‘missing-something-Granger?’ look. “In fact, General Quackula has succeeded on his first mission.”
Hermione’s eyes widened as she realized what was missing, something that was 10 ¾ and currently no longer on her person. Turning around she spotted it clutched in a duck’s bill—General Quackula’s if Hermione heard correctly.
As Hermione lunged for her wand, she heard Bellatrix cackle behind her and then the loud screeching of ducks as they fluttered and dispersed in a chaotic mess, making her lose track of General Quackula.