A group of hooded figures appears on the outskirts of an old manor in a thickly forested area. The manor is eerily dark despite the glittering fallen snow on the grounds. A wounded comrade falls to the ground as other press hands to their own wounds. "We must get inside and tend to the wounded," the stern voice of Rodolphus Lestrange ordered.
Not in any shape or form to argue the hooded figures staggered inside as the doors opened to reveal to rather cheerful siblings. "Oh dear, it would seem that it didn't go so well," the brother and sister Carrow simpered with evil glee.
"Move aside," Rodolphus snapped as he shoved the annoying siblings aside. Alecto and Amycus gasped in disbelief as the rest of the Death Eaters pushed their way inside and out of the cold.
"Take care of the wounded," Rodolphus barked as the pallid, doughy twins reluctantly turned towards the fallen in the hall.
Those that could stand despite their wounds followed Rodolphus into the great hall of the manor. Seated on the throne-like seat, the crimson eyed figure with deathly pale skin stares at them. "Well, Lestrange?" Lord Voldemort impatiently asked.
Rodolphus Lestrange knelt before him and says, "I've failed, milord."
Rage fills Lord Voldemort's face as he points his wand at Lestrange. "Crucio!" Rodolphus Lestrange withers on the floor in pain unable to keep himself from making whimpers, but at least refrained himself from screaming. The torture seems to go on for hours, but only mere minutes as Lestrange ceases to convulse and laid panting on his side.
"Dolohov!" Lord Voldemort roared as a bowed figure says, "Yes, milord!"
"Why did you not aid, Lestrange?"
The hooded figure removes his mask to reveal his pale, cruel face. "I would have, milord, but I found myself entangled with the Prince sister!"
"Crucio!" Lord Voldemort shouted again as Antonin Dolohov now began to twist in pain as his cruel features scrunched up into silent screams.
"A mere witch bested one of my best!" Lord Voldemort roared. "And what about the rest of you?"
A tear-stained witch removed her mask as she said, "Dark Lord, there were many members of the ministry of magic present. My poor Snyde is now dead." The witch burst into loud sobs as none of the other death eaters dared to console her.
Whirling back onto Rodolphus Lestrange, Lord Voldemort hisses, "And what of your excuse, Lestrange?"
Crawling back to kneel on his knees, Rodolphus Lestrange says, "I had Abraxas Malfoy within my grasp, Dark Lord. But the Prince himself intervened and I could not best him."
"Prince?" Lord Voldemort narrowed his eyes. "What Prince do you speak of?"
"Milord, the Prince's are an old family that rarely ever appears in public," Rodolphus Lestrange cautiously said. "But despite their being so few members they are most powerful and accomplished duelers. Reginald Prince, despite his older age he is still as powerful as in his youth. A most deadly accomplished duelist who took more than one life on his infamous claim to victory."
"And the sister?"
"Georgine Prince is not a renowned duelist, Dark Lord," Lestrange apologized and winced in pain at a tremor. "But she is a Prince and is by nature rather talented as well."
The silence grows as tensions mounts high as none of the Death Eater's dare breath lest they draw unwanted attention to themselves. The seconds seem to turn into minutes and the minutes into hours. At long last, one of the Death Eaters takes a step forward and kneels. "Dark Lord, may I speak?" Bluntly said, a haughty domineering man with little patience for others.
"Go on, Yaxley," Lord Voldemort said as he turned his crimson eyes onto the haughty hard-featured Death Eater.
Corban Yaxley proudly raised his pale face causing his blond hair tied back in a ponytail to swing lightly against his lower back. An unpleasant smile appears on his face as he says, "Milord, the plan was perfect and would have succeeded if not for the incapability of Lestrange and Dolohov." Antonin Dolohov bristles dangerously as Rodolphus Lestrange's face remains devoid of emotion.
Revealing his ambitions, Corban Yaxley continues, "And now, we have not only caused Malfoy to raise his guard but involved the ministry as well. What was once a simple task is now a highly difficult one. But if I may presume, Milord?"
Lord Voldemort dismissively waved his hand as he gestures for Yaxley to continue. "We can still turn this to our advantage, Dark Lord," Corban ambitiously said with a trace of pride. "Those that had withdrawn to follow Malfoy may very easily change their minds. He would have fallen tonight if not for the Princes. All it will take a whisper in the right ear the rest will follow once more."
"Yes," Lord Voldemort mused. "Thank you, Yaxley. I trust that you will be able to fulfill this task?"
"Thank you, Milord, I shall not fail," Yaxley promised as he snuck a triumphant smirk in the direction of the fuming Dolohov and the blank-faced Lestrange.
Turning his cold gaze back onto Lestrange and Dolohov, Lord Voldemort icily says, "It would seem that I sent the wrong individuals for this task."
Turning to stare at the Death Eater's, Lord Voldemort asks, "And which of you my loyal followers will take up this task?"
"I will, Milord," Said a thin dark-featured young man as Rodolphus Lestrange forces himself not to panic and interrupt his younger brother.
"The younger Lestrange? And what makes you fit for the task which your older brother failed at along with my most trusted aide?"
Hiding his agitation, Rabastan Lestrange does not swallow at the question. "I unlike my elder brother, Dark Lord, have friends among the younger youths of the pureblood families. Whereas my brother is untrusted, I still retain the trust of several youths. I am certain that I can arrange to be brought as a guest to an event Malfoy will be attending in the future. And even if that fails, I know exactly where he will be next spring at his son's wedding. And without a doubt, I will be present."
"Your idea has some merit," Lord Voldemort mused as Rodolphus Lestrange trembles and hides his clenching hands in his sleeves. Dolohov does not fail to notice the tremble but quickly puts it out of mind.
"Very well, I shall allow you to regain the honor your brother has lost." Rabastan Lestrange moves to thank the Dark Lord, when Lord Voldemort interjects, "But no more than a year, Rabastan. I will not tarry beyond Malfoy's son's wedding."
"I understand, Dark Lord," Rabastan gratefully said. "I will not fail you."
"No, you will not," Lord Voldemort said with a finality that none of the Death Eater's missed. "Now go and rest." The Death Eater's bow and murmur their thanks as those still wounded go on to be attended too as the rest scatter to their own rooms.
Rodolphus Lestrange limps forward despite the exhaustion and pain from the cruciatus curse. Slamming the door open to his younger brother's quarters, Rodolphus roars, "What were you thinking?"
"I was thinking about you, brother!" The younger dark-haired Lestrange hissed!
Rodolphus face loses some of its anger as he locks the door behind him and casts a non-spying spell around. "Rabastan, I do not need your help." Rodolphus coldly bl.u.s.tered trying to hide the growing fear in his heart.
"Is this the thanks I get?" Rabastan spat at his older brother. "I am trying to restore the honor and glory, which you lost us, brother! And yet why I am still treated like a child? I am no child, brother! I do not need you to care for me as you did when we were children!"
"Rabastan, you do not know what you are doing!" Rodolphus tiredly pleaded as he watched his brother slam his bedroom open.
Holding the door open, Rabastan said, "Get out! You are no longer welcome here!" Seeing his older brother fail to move, Rabastan raised his wand. "Do not force me, Rodolphus!"
Seeing the maddening sincere anger in his younger brother's eyes, Rodolphus turns to leave but stops at the threshold. "Rabastan, please," Rodolphus asked again for Rabastan to only coldly point his wand at his own brother. Seeing that it was useless to continue, Rodolphus left the bedroom as the door slammed shut behind.
Limping away, Rodolphus carefully kept his face blank as he hid his growing fears beneath a mask of iciness. Things were becoming more complicated and complicated. And soon, he feared that he may have to make a poor choice for an equally poor choice.