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The Darkness Within by _DearMyLove_

Format: Short story
Chapters: 6
Word Count: 16,827
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Horror/Dark
Characters: Bellatrix, R. Lestrange, Lucius, Narcissa, Voldemort
Pairings: Lucius/Narcissa

First Published: 06/13/2008
Last Chapter: 11/02/2008
Last Updated: 11/02/2008

Summary:
Amazing banner by the_tofuubeaver @ TDA    Title credit: Little Bibi








It all started with a ring. A simple, beautiful ring. But who knew that this ring would tear a family apart and poison a young woman's mind into madness? You will be forgiven for believing that Bellatrix Lestrange was always evil. 

The story behind the infamous Death Eater and her spectacular fall from grace. 


Chapter 1: Chapter One - A Gift
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Disclaimer: We all know it by now...I'm not JK, these are not my characters, I do not own anything to do with the HP universe and I am not getting any profit from this story.

Chapter One - A Gift



The door slowly creaked open to reveal an aged house elf who limped into the drawing room, wheezing slightly. A young man stood behind the elf, waiting politely to be invited in. As he waited, he surveyed the room with eyes that glimmered with quiet confidence.

Polished dark wooden panes lined the walls and portraits of dark haired men and women glared down at him from their high vantage points. A fire burnt in an ornate fireplace at the far end of the room, the flickering glow of the flames illuminating the faces of the room’s occupants. A haughty looking man sat in a high backed chair, his face impassive. A beautiful young woman sat next to him, dressed in robes of deep violet which set off her heavy lidded dark eyes. She was clutching the man’s hand in hers, silver rings flashing from each of her fingers. The final person in the room was a child, who could not have been more than two years old. Despite her age, she also wore rich clothes which she was carefully making sure not to crease as she played with a porcelain doll on the thick, carpeted floor.

“Master Black, you have a visitor.” The elderly house elf whispered with a voice cracked with age, attempting to bow despite arthritic joints.

The man looked up, his inky black stare penetrating the visitor. Slowly, as though he did not believe the young man was worth the manners, he got to his feet. The woman stood too, effortlessly linking her arm into her husband’s and giving the visitor an icy glare, as though he had interrupted something important.

Smiling disarmingly, the young man strode forward and extended his hand, “I am sorry for disturbing you tonight, but I have an urgent business beginning tomorrow that will take me out of the country for some months and I could not leave without meeting the ancient and noble house of Black.” The cheery tone of his voice did not reach his eyes, “Riddle, sir, Tom Riddle.”

There was a strange noise from the woman, as though she had been about to gasp but stopped herself. Her husband silenced her with a glance, and then turned back to Riddle. Taking his hand, he shook it firmly, “Cygnus Black. May I introduce my wife, Druella,” He indicated the woman, “Please take a seat, would you like a drink?”

“Thank you.” Riddle inclined his head in the affirmative before sitting down in one of the high backed armchairs. The firelight flickered off his pale skin and made his cheekbones seem unnaturally high. Cygnus had left the room to call a house elf, as it was poor manners to summon one in front of a guest. Druella sat back down in her chair, obviously uncomfortable.

“You are newly married, are you not?” Riddle asked, his tone light. He was looking at the child.

Druella slowly turned her head to look at him. Her eyes also flickered to the little girl who was still playing, immune to the tension crackling in the room, “We have been married for one and a half years.” Her tone was cold, “If you would call that newly married…”

“Oh yes, I remember reading about it in the Prophet.” Riddle interrupted, “However I don’t remember reading anything about your family, Mrs Black. Forgive me for asking, but which line do you come from?”

Druella’s gaze became even colder than before, “Rosier.” She replied, and then turned her head away from him, closing her eyes as though she had just been severely insulted.

“Rosier?” Riddle repeated, nodding slightly as though the information had pleased him, “I’m afraid I never had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with your family. It is something I regret…” His gaze penetrated into Druella; a stare she could feel prickling the back of her neck.

The door opened behind them and Cygnus Black strode in, accompanied by a different house elf that was carrying a tray laden with drinks in wrinkled hands. The elf stopped next to Riddle’s chair and he lifted a cup from the tray without looking at it. Cygnus sat back down in his chair, ignoring a nervous and imploring look from his wife. Also taking a drink, he leaned back until the chair creaked and gave Riddle a searching look.

“There’s been a lot of talk about you, if you don’t mind me saying.” He said smoothly, “Rumours and hearsay, I’m sure.”

“Indeed.” Riddle’s smile widened, “Incidentally, it is because of a rumour that I come to you tonight.”

Cygnus felt Druella’s hand lightly touch his fingers. He sat up straighter and the tension in the room rose once more. The girl on the carpet noticed it and raised her head for the first time to look at the visitor. Her dark eyes, so like her mother’s, met Riddle’s for only a moment but it was enough.

“There are whispers of a new Dark Lord.” He spoke softly, raising the cup to his lips and staring at Cygnus over the brim.

Cygnus’ eyes blazed with sudden emotion, “So I’ve heard. I assumed they were false, but are you saying…?”

His voice trailed out and he leant forward unconsciously, his eyes boring into Riddle’s. Riddle did not break the eye contact. For a moment, there was no movement in the room, and then the little girl let out a whimper, disturbed by what was happening. Instantly, the tension broke. Cygnus let his shoulders drop and he looked for the first time over to the child.

“Isn’t it time you went to bed, Bella?” He snapped. The child jumped up upon hearing her name and with a frightened look at her mother, she ran from the room without a word. Turning to his wife, Cygnus seemed to repent the harsh way he had spoken to his daughter, “Will you go to her?”

Druella stood up and inclined her head regally towards Riddle before striding out of the room. Once the door had closed, Cygnus arched his fingers, “Do you have anything important to say to me, Riddle, or are you only full of sensational rumours?”

Riddle paused, then rested his cup down on a side table next to his chair, “Your daughter is a charming creature, Mr Black. Do you have any other children?”

“What?” Cygnus snapped, “No. No, Bellatrix is an only child. My only child.” The look in his eyes, however brief, betrayed him.

“You want a boy?” Riddle asked, his gentle voice persuading Cygnus to open up more.

“I cannot blame myself or my wife, of course. It seems Bella is doomed to be an only child.” He didn’t understand why he was spilling such embarrassing family secrets to a complete stranger, but Riddle seemed so genuinely interested and concerned, “There have been other children, but all stillborn…”

“I am sorry.” Riddle’s voice contained exactly the right level of sadness, but his eyes remained cold, expressionless, “But still your blood runs pure. Have faith in the blood.”

Cygnus nodded distractedly, staring into the fire. Snapping out of his reverie, he took up his drink once more, “I trust your blood is pure, Riddle?”

The younger man didn’t reply immediately, but finally said, “As pure as it needs to be.” He fixed Cygnus in his gaze, “My mother was a descendant of Salazar Slytherin.”

Cygnus reacted in the expected way. His eyes almost popped out of his head and his face went white as he stared at the man with renewed interested, “You are sure?”

Riddle smiled silkily, “I am certain. Which brings me back to these…rumours. A new Dark Lord. Certainly an interesting development, wouldn’t you agree? If I remember, the noble house of Black made many donations towards the cause of the Dark wizard Grindlewald. I wonder if you will be so supportive of this new Lord.”

Cygnus met Riddles gaze with difficulty. He had indeed supported Grindlewald, despite the embarrassing ending of the great wizard. It was an embarrassment he didn’t wish to repeat, but if the young man in front of him was descended from Slytherin himself… “My house supported Grindlewald, despite his end, and we will certainly support any Dark Lord that rises, should they continue Grindlewald’s cause.”

“Not only continue it, but build on it.” Riddle replied. Seeming satisfied, he rose from his seat, “I must take my leave. I have a long journey tomorrow.” Again he held out his hand, and this time Cygnus quickly rose to take it. The men shook hands, knowing the unspoken oath that had passed between them.

Bowing to Cygnus, Riddle stepped quickly from the room. There was no house elf to lead him back to the door, but he was glad of it. He preferred to be on his own, with only his own thoughts to occupy him. He had long since realised that the only person worth trusting was himself.

He doubted that Cygnus would keep to his pledge, but that did not matter. All that mattered was that handshake. No matter whether Cygnus wanted to or not, he had shaken away the house of Black’s allegiance.

He soon reached the front door, which was set at the end of a long, dark corridor on which stood the ornate, carpeted stairs with beautifully carved wooden banisters. In the flickering candlelight, Riddle almost didn’t notice the little girl perched on the stairs in her night gown. Only an accidental glance downwards alerted him of her presence.

“Hello there.” He said gently, smiling down at her. She looked up at him with her dark brown eyes, black holes that were perfectly contrasted with her milky white skin. She did not reply.

“You’re Bellatrix aren’t you?” Riddle continued.

The girl shook her head, “No, I’m Bella. You can call me Bella.” She had already inherited the haughtiness of her family. Riddle chuckled.

“Well, Bella. I think your father told you to go to bed, didn’t he?”

The child smiled lazily, “I don’t. I hide from him, and mummy. I don’t go to bed.”

“Miss Bella Black,” She seemed to enjoy being called by her full title, as he knew she would, “Just between you and me, that sounds like a very wise thing to do.”

Her eyes glowed with the praise, “Is it?”

Riddle knelt down on the bottom step so that his eyes were level with Bellatrix’s. Putting on the disarming smile he so often used, he nodded and leant forward conspiratorially, “It is indeed. Do you know why?”

She shook her head, but her eyes remained fixed on his face. She had the same look of wonder he encountered with all the people he charmed.

“Because little girls who don’t go to bed get presents from kind visitors.” He took his hand out of the pocket it had been in and extended his clenched fist towards her. She looked at it with a mixture of excited anticipation and nervousness.

Slowly, Riddle drew back his long, spidery fingers. Bellatrix gasped. Nestled in the palm of his hand was the most perfect object the little girl had ever seen. And elegant silver ring to rival all of her mother’s, with a sparkling blue jewel set in it. She thought she saw the blue pulsate in his hand as though it was living. She was captivated, entranced by it.

“Would you like it, Miss Bella Black?” Riddle whispered, careful not to break the spell the beautiful object was captivating Bellatrix with. The child kept her eyes fixed on the ring and nodded once. Tipping his hand sideways, Riddle watched as the ring fell into the girl’s chubby fingers. She immediately put it on, continuously staring at it.

Nodding to himself, Riddle stood up. He had the door open and was halfway through it before any sound emitted from Bellatrix. Raising her head to look at him for the first time since the ring had been revealed, she murmured, “Thank you.”

Riddle didn’t turn or reply to the girl. Instead, he smiled quietly to himself and pulled the door shut behind him. He doubted the father’s pledge, but now it didn’t matter. Bellatrix Black would be his, whether she wanted to or not.


A.N. Hope you liked it! Next chapter will be up shortly :D Oh and I'm pretty sure I've got all sorts of errors in the timeline of the Black sisters...not sure if Bella is the oldest or not...but it works for the story so please call it artistic license! ;)


Chapter 2: Chapter Two - A Ball
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Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe belongs exclusively to JK Rowling. I only own the plot for this story.

Chapter Two - A Ball



She was well and truly the belle of the ball. She could see men almost salivating with anticipation as she walked down the stairs to greet them. And who could blame them? She was beautiful, her beauty far outstripping her mother’s and sister’s, with her dark hair and such intriguing dark eyes.

“Oh Merlin, here we go…” Bellatrix Black muttered out of the corner of her mouth, keeping her charming smile fixed as she surveyed the room. The pretty blonde girl stood next to her laughed.

“Come on, Bella, it’s not that bad.” Narcissa Black was four years younger than Bellatrix and delighted in almost all male attention. She was already fixing certain eligible bachelors in her sights, “Is my hair still alright? I knew I should have used that curling spell…” Bellatrix sighed. She preferred to be alone and hated social events of any kind. She unconsciously fiddled with the ring she was wearing on the middle finger of her right hand. It comforted her, but only slightly. Before she knew it, she was at the bottom of the stairs.

“Miss Bellatrix,” An astonishingly unfortunate looking man stepped forward first. His nose looked like it had been fashioned out of putty and his eyes were small and watery. However he carried himself with confidence as he thrust his hand out and grabbed hers, brushing his lips against her fingers. Bellatrix recoiled, but his grip on her hand was too tight, “Rodolphus Lestrange. Will you honour me with the first dance?”

She remembered him vaguely from Hogwarts, where he had been in the year above and gained a reputation for doing strange things to spiders and other insects in his spare time. Consequently, Bellatrix was on the verge of declining his request, until she received a sharp prod in the side from Narcissa, who motioned over to the other side of the room, where Cygnus Black was standing.

He was staring directly at Bellatrix, and when their eyes met he gave a short nod. Understanding his meaning, she sighed and turned back to Rodolphus Lestrange, who was staring at her with rapt attention, and said in a voice dripping with sarcasm, “Of course, sir, I would be delighted.”

~


Lucius Malfoy!” Narcissa exclaimed as soon as Bellatrix had sat down. They were both sat at the side of the room, watching the dancing. Narcissa was upset because she had not been asked to dance yet, a predicament Bellatrix would have been glad to find herself in. She had already had to shuffle through the steps of three dances with Rodolphus Lestrange, wince as her toes were stood on for two dances with Augustus Rookwood and consent to a highly embarrassing dance with her own father. Therefore, she was in no mood for Narcissa’s childish whining.

“What about him?” She snapped.

“I’ve been put next to him in the seating plan.” Narcissa said darkly, as though she was proclaiming the end of the world.

Bellatrix didn’t reply at once. Instead, she looked over to where Lucius Malfoy was standing. In her eyes, he was better than most of the snivelling fools at her father’s birthday celebrations. There stood a true pureblood, a proud look in his eyes and a civilised tongue in his head. It took her a while to realise that Narcissa was talking again.

“I mean, he’s good looking and everything, but he’s the most arrogant person I’ve ever met. I simply couldn’t stand an hour having to sit and listen to someone talk about themselves over and over again. It’s enough to drive anyone insane, wouldn’t you say, Bella?” Narcissa turned to Bellatrix, a disgusted look on her pretty face. It was as though no words could accurately describe her dislike for Lucius Malfoy.

“Well I wouldn’t look that far into it, Cissy,” Bellatrix replied dejectedly, “He’s just a family friend. I doubt father’s trying to marry you off or anything.”

Narcissa went white, “I hadn’t even thought of that.”

~


It was only just before the dinner began that Bellatrix found out about her own seating plans. Unfortunately, it came as no surprise to find herself sat next to Rodolphus Lestrange, something that even made Narcissa feel sorry for her. Sat on her other side was an elderly friend of her fathers, Loc Macnair, whom she knew fairly well and disliked all the more because of it.

Desperate, she looked over at Narcissa, hoping there would be a spare seat next to her. Unfortunately, her sister seemed to be deeply in conversation with Lucius Malfoy, laughing girlishly as he told some joke. Bellatrix snorted. Obviously, Malfoy wasn’t half as bad as Narcissa had thought.

“Miss Bellatrix!” Lestrange exclaimed as Bellatrix sat heavily down in her seat. She tried not to react to the obvious tone of joy in his voice. It was strange how easily pleased men were, “May I say this meal will be made a hundred times better by your presence.”

Fighting the compulsion to roll her eyes, Bellatrix flashed him a winning smile, “It is a pleasure to sit next to you, sir. I hope you enjoyed the dancing?”

“I did indeed. You are a fine dancer, Miss Bellatrix.”

“Not as fine as her sister!” Came the voice of Loc Macnair. Bellatrix turned to him, understanding perfectly well what he meant and trying to silence him with her eyes. She wished she could use magic but it was bad manners to hex guests.

“I’m sorry, sir, I don’t understand…I haven’t seen Miss Narcissa dancing this evening…” Lestrange frowned. Bellatrix wished she could change the subject, and was halfway to turning back to Lestrange and asking him how is family were before Loc replied in a voice ten times louder than it ought to have been.

“Not her! No, I mean the other one.”

“Other one?” Realisation dawned on Lestrange’s ugly face, “You mean Andromeda? Yes, it is unfortunate that she is ill on such an evening…”

“Ill?” Loc cackled. Bellatrix rounded on him, various curses forming on her tongue, but the old man was already speaking, “Ill?! I’ll tell you the truth, Lestrange, that girl is certainly not…”

Thankfully before Loc Macnair could elaborate, the high doors of the dining room sprung open and house elves spilled into the room carrying trays laden with food. Mind turned to his meal, Loc fell silent. Lestrange looked like he was going to question him further, but was silenced with a fierce look from Bellatrix. Her heart was beating very hard against her chest and her skin was crawling. It had been close. Too close.

Her father was rising from his chair, and Bellatrix forced her mind back to the evening’s celebrations. She would not dwell on Andromeda Black.

“Thank you, all of you, for coming this evening.” Cygnus’ voice was strong and rang throughout the room, “I trust you have enjoyed yourselves. It is sad to think, though, that within these walls dwell almost all that remains of the pure wizarding race. I am growing older now, as many of you will well know.” The sides of his mouth twitched upwards slightly as his eyes rested on Bellatrix, “And I now look to the youngsters to pave the way and keep the purity that has set us apart from commoners alive in the generations to come.”

“Keep the purity, fine words.” Loc muttered in Bellatrix’s ear under cover of the applause greeting Cygnus Black’s words, “Something your sister doesn’t seem to understand anything about…”

Bellatrix kept her smile on and her eyes fixed on her father while she hissed, “One more word, sir, and you will find yourself unrecognisable then next time you look in the mirror.”

Loc didn’t reply, instead choosing to smirk knowingly at his food. Deciding to leave further action until later, Bellatrix turned as well to her plate, only to be interrupted once more by Lestrange unceremoniously elbowing her in the ribs.

“How dare…!” She was cut off in mid sentence when she realised Lucius Malfoy was stood, glass raised, next to a highly embarrassed looking Narcissa. Looking hastily over at her father and wondering why he hadn’t reprimanded Malfoy for his rudeness, she was shocked to discover Cygnus staring at the young, blond wizard with a look of rapt attention on his face.

“If I may say a few words,” Malfoy’s voice sent shivers down Bellatrix’s spine. He spoke with such authority for someone only a few years older than herself. “I would like to thank our esteemed host, Mr Cygnus Black, for his kind hospitality and for providing us with such a fine evening. To Cygnus Black.” There was a murmur as the words were repeated to hastily raised glasses, and a spattering of applause which stopped immediately when Malfoy raised his hand, “However, I would also like to dedicate this evening to one other, a person who shares the values Mr Black so wonderfully outlined and plans to provide a better future for all of pure blood…” He raised his glass higher and said in a powerful voice, “To Lord Voldemort, the Dark Lord!”

~


“Voldemort?” A curious feeling swept over Bellatrix as she repeated the name. It was early morning and the last of the guests had left a few minutes ago. She was sat in the drawing room with her family, but in her mind she was still watching Lucius Malfoy as he raised his glass. She vividly remembered the reactions of the assembled guests, and ran through each in turn. A few, Rodolphus Lestrange and Loc Macnair included, raised their glasses with hearty cheers, but it was only a few. Most of the guests looked at each other, perplexed but otherwise not bothered. And then, finally, some gave Malfoy repulsed glares as though he had said something terribly insulting.

“Who is Voldemort, father?” Bellatrix snapped out of her reverie in time to hear Narcissa’s voice, which was unusually quiet.

Cygnus did not speak for a moment. With a glance to his wife, he answered Narcissa’s question with the air of someone carefully choosing his words, “No-one really knows. He appeared out of nowhere, full of foolish schemes and nobody to support them.”

“What Lucius said wasn’t just foolish schemes!” Bellatrix retorted, stung by the way her father was speaking, as though they where children, “Providing a better future for purebloods, isn’t that what you’ve always wanted, father?”

“Yes, yes!” Cygnus snapped, “Of course it is. But this man, calls himself ‘Lord’, is no more than a petty criminal. A few disappearances, muggle killings and the like, is all he has to his name. And I would remind you to call him Mr Malfoy!”

Struggling to hide the blush rising on her cheeks, Bellatrix turned away from her father and stared into the fire. She’d forgotten herself; gotten caught up in the heat of the moment. Narcissa noticed her sister’s embarrassment, however, and took full advantage of it.

“Ooh Bella! If you’d have told me, I’d have gladly given up my place at the table…”

She stopped speaking abruptly, owing to the fact Bellatrix was pointing her wand directly in her face, “Stop right there or I’ll hex you to oblivion…”

“Bellatrix!” Druella exclaimed, causing Bellatrix to reluctantly lower her wand, “You’re behaving like a common mudblood! A fine way to repay your father after he organised such an evening for you.”

“It was his birthday!” Bellatrix retorted, but upon seeing the dangerous glint in her mother’s eyes, she elaborated, “Sorry. I haven’t been relaxed all evening, between having to entertain that Lestrange oaf, and stopping Loc Macnair from spilling everything about Andromeda…”

The effect was immediate. Narcissa gasped, placing one delicate hand over her mouth, her eyes roaming over to her parents. Druella stiffened like a rod, her face impassive. Cygnus frowned deeply, his dark eyes becoming expressionless. Bellatrix, however, was struck by a strange confidence and ploughed on, “Please let me go to her, father, I think that if I just talked to her she’d stop all this silliness…”

“No.” Cygnus’s voice was dangerously soft, “She has made her choice. She is no longer a Black and no longer my child.”

Bellatrix glanced imploringly at her mother, but Druella remained frozen, staring straight ahead of her at the blank wall. Finally, unable to take the tension any longer, she stood up and marched out of the room.

She didn’t know why it upset her. All her life the same ideal had been drilled into her, that she was set apart from others because of her blood, that she must never mix with muggles, never even speak to half bloods unless she had to. Andromeda had been taught exactly the same thing, had gone through Hogwarts behaving like a true Black. Why had she forsaken it all? For love? Bellatrix didn’t know the meaning of the word. She had never encountered love in her family, and had no desire to love at all. All she wanted was to be independent; to not have to answer to anyone but herself.

Maybe that was the reason Andromeda left, Bellatrix thought as she threw herself onto her bed. Maybe she wanted to be independent too. She mashed her face into the pillows, wanting to scream, but unable to. Toujours pur. She wanted to see Andromeda again. She wanted to hug her, tell her she meant the world to her, and let her know somehow that all was forgiven. But a stronger feeling brewed beneath the surface, the desperate need to hurt her filthy traitor of a sister, to destroy her as she had destroyed her mother and father. Toujours pur.

She would go to her. Bellatrix felt the idea form and grow in her mind. She needed to see Andromeda, one last time before she disowned her completely. Of course it would mean visiting a muggle village, a thought that made Bellatrix’s insides squirm, but it would be worth it. It would be worth it to see her sister again. With that thought in her mind, Bellatrix let her eyes close and succumbed to sleep.


Chapter 3: Chapter Three - A Visit
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Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter universe, which actually belongs to JK Rowling. I am merely borrowing it and I do not make any money from this story.

Chapter Three - A Visit



She was back at Hogwarts. Everything about the castle was gratifyingly familiar; the burning torches in brackets casting shadows on the walls, the musty smell of parchment and ink, the quiet murmurs of students talking in classrooms. She looked down and saw she was wearing her old school robes, which felt soft against her skin. A feeling of joy fell over her. This had been her home for seven of the happiest years of her life.

“Bella!”

Bellatrix turned on the spot, eyes lighting up as she saw the face she had thought she’d forgotten. Eyes so like her own, dark and never ending, milk white skin, and soft brown hair. Hair she had been jealous of as a child. Andromeda Black had always been the prettiest of the Black sisters.

She tried to walk, to run, into her sister’s outstretched arms, but she couldn’t. Her feet seemed to be glued to the spot, and even as she reached out and shouted Andromeda’s name, she saw her sister moving slowly away from her. Her stomach clenched as she realised she’d never get close enough to touch Andromeda’s arm, or see every tiny detail on her face. She shouted louder and louder, her voice echoing off the walls of the castle…

And then she was gone. The scene melted away before her eyes, and Bellatrix found herself back in the dining room, sandwiched between Rodolphus Lestrange and Loc Macnair, watching Lucius Malfoy. Only this time, Malfoy was staring directly at her as he spoke.

“…a person who shares the values Mr Black so wonderfully outlined.” He smiled at Bellatrix, but it was a cold, heartless smile, “Lord Voldemort is waiting for you, Bellatrix Black. His patience is wearing thin with the Black family…”


Bellatrix’s eyes flew open and all memory of her dream disappeared into the cold night air. She felt strangely cold and clammy, but when she reached up to touch her forehead, she found it to be soaking wet. Turning shakily over onto her side, she closed her eyes again before she could notice the change to the ring on the middle finger of her right hand. It was glowing.

~


“Where are you going?”

Bellatrix ignored Narcissa and continued to do the clasp on her travelling cloak. If truth be told, she wasn’t sure exactly where she was going. She just knew who she was going to. Besides, she was still angry at her sister for teasing her the previous night.

“Where are you going?” Narcissa persisted, insisting on following Bellatrix down the corridor to the front door, where she placed herself between her sister and the outdoors.

“It’s none of your business.” Bellatrix said airily, refusing to look at her sister. Narcissa’s eyes narrowed and a slow smile spread on her face.

“Are you going to see…Lucius Malfoy?

Bellatrix’s eyes flashed and beneath her cloak, her hand clasped around her wand, “Get out of the way, Cissy.”

“I saw the way you looked at him during his little speech,” Narcissa continued nastily. She pretended to stare, doe eyed, at an unseen man, whilst saying in a mock-adoring voice, “Oh Lucius, you’re so brave standing up there in front of all those people!

In an instant, Bellatrix had her wand pointing at her sister. She knew that was what Narcissa wanted, and that she was only trying to wind her up, but she could not allow her to be so rude.

“Get out of the way!”

Narcissa crossed her arms, careful to show Bellatrix her own wand, which was clasped in her left hand, “Tell me where you’re really going, then.”

Her wand still pointed at her sister, Bellatrix pondered whether or not to tell her. Despite being insufferably irritating just about all the time, Narcissa could be trusted, if the secret was big enough. Lowering her wand, she hissed, “I’m going to see Dromeda.”

Narcissa’s eyes widened, all playfulness forgotten in the seriousness of the situation, “But you can’t! If father finds out…”

“Then I will face the consequences.” Bellatrix finished for Narcissa, “Cissy, I have to try…she might come round if I talk to her.”

Narcissa was silent for a moment, then slowly she stepped away from the door. As Bellatrix strode past, she whispered, “I’ll deny everything if you’re caught!” and then added in an even quieter voice, “Say hello to Dromeda from me.”

~


Bellatrix apparated to the village as soon as she had cleared the boundary of the Black estate. She didn’t want her mother or father seeing her apparate anywhere, or else awkward questions would be asked upon her return home.

The village would have seemed nice enough if it didn’t stink of muggles. Bellatrix made sure she looked suitably superior as she strode through the streets, and glared appropriately at any muggle who came too close. Consequently, she quickly found the villagers were giving her a wide berth.

The only downside to this turn of events was that she had no-one to direct her to where Andromeda was living. Finally, she settled on performing the disillusionment charm on herself in the alleyway formed between two houses, then scrutinizing the living room of each house through the window.

Hours passed and Bellatrix was getting more and more frustrated as each house yielded muggles and nothing more. She had set herself up to see Andromeda that day, but as the sun began to sink under the horizon and night truly set in, she began to realise that she wouldn’t. The sadness she felt at this realisation was met by frustration that she was feeling sad in the first place.

“She deserted us.” She whispered to herself, drawing her cloak around her shoulders as a bitterly cold wind began to pick up, “She deserted us.”

“Do my ears deceive me, or is that Bellatrix Black muttering to herself on a muggle street?”

Bellatrix jumped at the smooth, arrogant voice. She turned sharply, wand held at the ready, only to come face to face with Lucius Malfoy. His blond hair, impeccable as usual, was tied with a black ribbon to the base of his neck, and his grey eyes were piercing the very spot she was standing in.

“How can you see me?” Bellatrix hissed.

“Oh I can’t. But if you insist on wearing stiletto heels…” Malfoy smiled lazily, “They are rather easy to hear, you see.”

Bellatrix muttered the counter-charm and emerged, scowling, “What are you doing here?” she spat, raising her wand. She wasn’t sure why she was acting so angry, but had a feeling she was over-compensating after Narcissa’s remarks. That, and she hated being caught doing something she wasn’t supposed to be doing.

“If you must know, I’ve been following you.” Lucius answered, with the air of one commenting on the weather.

“Why?”

There was that smile again, “Do I need a reason?” Lucius took a step forward, until he was stood directly in front of her. Bellatrix felt the arm holding her wand slowly drop lower, “You caught my eye at the dance last night. You’re a pretty girl, Miss Black.”

Bellatrix wrenched her wand back up, forcing herself to think clearly, “Don’t patronise me, Malfoy.” Her eyes glinted and Lucius backed away again.

“Why are you here?” His voice was harder now, “Perhaps you thought you’d pay a nice, cosy visit to your blood traitor sister?”

“My sister is ill.” She had hesitated before replying, and knew it was enough to convince him. Lucius sneered coldly.

“Yes, you’re right. You’re sister must be ill to have gone and married a filthy muggle.” He spat on the ground at her feet, and then turned to leave.

The anger spilled out of Bellatrix like a wild animal. Howling, uncaring at how many muggles would bear witness, she ran at Lucius Malfoy and, raising her wand, shouted, “Crucio!

Lucius fell to the floor, writhing and screaming in agony. His face contorted with pain and his eyes pleaded to Bellatrix to release him from the torture. But she didn’t. Grim faced and triumphant she stood over her victim, delighting in his pain, gorging on the agony she was subjecting him to.

She’d never used an Unforgivable curse before, and the joy it brought both thrilled and terrified her. She had complete and utter power, total control over what she was doing, and she answered to no-one. She could torment Lucius Malfoy for as long as she wanted to.

Something hit her in the back and Bellatrix felt herself thrown forward. Instantly the curse she’d placed on Lucius disappeared and, shaking, he got to his feet. Wasting no time, he bent down over her and hissed, “The Dark Lord is waiting for you, Bellatrix Black!” before turning on his heel and disapparating.

“Bella?” A different voice sounded behind Bellatrix. She jumped to her feet, clutching her wand and rounded on the person staring at her.

Her jaw dropped.

The woman eyed Bellatrix with mistrust. She was wearing a simple muggle nightdress and had a coat wrapped around her shoulders. Her chocolate brown hair was tied up roughly with a ribbon, a few strands escaping to fall softly around her thin, white face.

“Bella, what were you doing?” Andromeda Black said in a small voice.

Bellatrix blinked. For a moment, she had forgotten the curse, the insane pleasure she had felt coursing through her veins, the joy at seeing someone so helpless, so completely under her control… “I…He insulted you, Dromeda. He insulted our family.”

“That’s no way to act, though.” Andromeda’s voice became slightly stronger, “Bella that was an Unforgivable curse…”

“I don’t care!” Bellatrix retorted, beginning to get angry at her sister, “Anyway, if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have done it! He insulted you, Dromeda, not me. I was defending your honour!”

The sad look in Andromeda’s eyes just served to make her feel more irate. Angrily, Bellatrix turned her back on her sister and began to walk away, “I won’t bother next time.”

“Bella, please come back…”

Bellatrix stopped. She wanted to just leave, but something was holding her back. She knew exactly what it was. Turning around, she attempted to smile, “I was only defending you, Dromeda. I miss you.”

Andromeda returned the smile, although her eyes stayed wary, “I know. I miss you too.”

~


Bellatrix soon found herself sat uncomfortably in a muggle kitchen. Andromeda was bustling around her with mugs and bags of some brown substance. She put one bag in each mug and then filled the mugs with water from a curious looking white jug. Bellatrix was amazed to see the water pouring out of the jug was hot.

“What is that magic?” She said, keeping her eyes fixed on the jug. Andromeda, who was putting milk in the mugs, laughed.

“It’s just a kettle, Bella. It’s a muggle thing.”

Bellatrix didn’t reply. She took the mug Andromeda offered her and sniffed it. To her surprise, it turned out to be tea. “Why don’t you just conjure tea?” She asked, trying to keep her voice light.

“Well, Ted prefers it if I keep magic to a minimum.” Andromeda replied uncomfortably, “He still gets a bit unnerved, you know…”

“No, I don’t actually.” Bellatrix said coldly. Silence fell in the kitchen. Bellatrix sipped her tea, keeping her eyes fixed resolutely on the kitchen table. It was very bright in the room, due to a strip of light in the ceiling, and her eyes hurt.

“How is Cissy?” Andromeda inquired in an unnaturally high voice.

Bellatrix seized the attempt at making conversation with confidence, “She’s well. I think leaving Hogwarts has done her the world of good, she never really liked it there.” She smiled, “Plus it gives her far more opportunities to pursue various men.”

Andromeda laughed, then stopped as though she hadn’t meant to, “And mother…father?”

“It was father’s birthday celebrations yesterday.” Bellatrix said slowly, unsure whether she wanted to tell her sister what had happened, but before she could stop herself she was pouring out the events of the previous night. Andromeda listened quietly as she spoke of Lucius Malfoy’s strange toast, the mysterious Lord Voldemort, Rodolphus Lestrange’s unwanted attention and Loc Macnair…

“You’re still pretending I’m ill?” Andromeda interrupted as Bellatrix began to rant about Loc. Her voice was cold and emotionless.

“What else are we supposed to do?” Bellatrix replied in frustration, “We can hardly go singing from the rooftops that one of the Black family has run off with a muggle!” Andromeda understood this, she thought angrily, she understood there was nothing else they could do. It would be the end of the house of Black if the secret got out, the end of everything.

“Bella, I just want you to know,” Andromeda began carefully, “I didn’t plan any of this. I just…well I just met Ted and fell in love.”

Bellatrix snorted into her tea. Looking up at her sister in disgust, she said, “Fell in love? Why couldn’t you have been normal, Dromeda?”

“Normal?” Andromeda repeated the word coldly.

“Yes!” Bellatrix snapped, “Marry one of your own kind!”

“My own kind?” Bellatrix watched in amazement as her sister laughed, “You mean a pureblood wizard? Bella, I refuse to sign my life away to unhappiness just to further the pureblood cause! I have married for love, and if that’s not good enough for you then…”

“No!” Bellatrix stood up. Her heart was beating unnaturally fast, “No, it’s not good enough for me. You’ve betrayed everyone, Dromeda! And all for love?” Her voice was rising, but she didn’t care, “All so you could marry your filthy muggle husband, live in a filthy muggle house!” She pointed to the kettle, “You’ve even forgotten how to do magic! You’re a mess! You’re a freak!”

Bellatrix was itching to point her want at her sister, her own flesh and blood, and say the word that would make her feel all the pain she had caused her family. But she didn’t. Shaking from head to foot, Bellatrix backed away towards the door.

“Is everything alright, love?” Came an unfamiliar voice from behind her. Bellatrix whirled around to see a young man with tousled bed hair and bleary eyes.

“Everything’s fine, Ted, go back to bed.” Andromeda’s voice was shaking and her eyes were filled with tears that fell softly down her face. Ted, though, realised that his wife was upset and easily found the source of her pain.

“Is she bothering you?” He asked Andromeda, putting his hand on Bellatrix’s arm.

“Don’t touch me, muggle scum.” Bellatrix hissed, pushing Ted away from her with inhuman strength. Andromeda shrieked and ran towards her husband, pulling her wand out of the pocket of her nightdress as she did so.

“Get out.” She said in a voice full of suppressed rage, pointing her wand at Bellatrix.

Bellatrix didn’t reply. Turning on her heel she left through the front door, still blinded by her anger and pain. As soon as the cold night air hit her, though, the guilt set in. Tears stinging her eyes, Bellatrix half-turned back towards her sister, wanting to run to her and tell her she was sorry. But her pride prevented her, and instead she apparated back to the Black estate, eyes red with suppressed tears and self hatred clenching at her heart.

~


Bellatrix managed to get halfway to her bedroom before Narcissa heard her. Running out onto the landing, her bright, excited eyes illuminated by the single candle she was carrying, she immediately asked, “Did you see her?”

Pausing, and wondering if it was worth hexing her sister just to shut her up, Bellatrix eventually replied, “Yes.”

Narcissa jumped up and down on the spot, trying to clap her hands together without burning herself, “And? How is she? Did she ask about me? What’s her husband like? Is he terribly ugly? I heard all muggles are…”

“Can’t we talk in the morning?” Bellatrix interrupted. Her head was throbbing painfully and she kept on re-living the last few moments in her sister’s house over and over again in her mind’s eye, each time accompanied by a guilty stab in her stomach.

“Oh no, you’re not getting away with it that easily!” Narcissa grabbed her sister’s arm, attempting to drag her into her own room, “Now’s a perfect time to talk, mother and father haven’t got back yet from whatever they were doing, there’s no-one here but us.”

“What?” Bewildered by what her sister had just said, Bellatrix allowed herself to be pulled into the room and pushed down into an armchair. Narcissa darted about lighting various lamps with her candle. When the room was suitably lit, she jumped onto her bed and lay on her front, cupping her chin in her hands and staring at Bellatrix with a wide grin on her face.

“So, did you find her easily?”

“No, I bumped into Lucius Malfoy…” Bellatrix said distractedly, “Cissy, where’s mother and father?”

Lucius Malfoy?” Narcissa exclaimed for the second time in so many days, “What was he doing there?” She ignored Bellatrix’s question, obviously finding the mysterious appearance of Malfoy far more intriguing.

It took all of Bellatrix’s self control not to simply shrug her shoulders. She blinked and was back in the muggle street, watching with joy as the pitiful form of Lucius Malfoy writhed and screamed on the floor… “I don’t know. Well, he told me that he was following me, but he didn’t elaborate any further.”

“He was following you?” Narcissa’s eyes widened with the possibilities. Suddenly, she had forgotten her dislike for Malfoy as she expounded on why he was following her older sister, “Maybe he loves you, Bella, he’s just too shy to tell you…” her eyes misted over. For the first time since arriving home, Bellatrix snorted with laughter.

Loves me? And is just too shy to tell me? Cissy, have you met the man? It isn’t physically possible to be more arrogant and over confident than Lucius Malfoy!”

“Well unless he said anything else, there’s no knowing why he was there!” Cissy retorted, stung by Bellatrix’s mocking.

Bellatrix opened her mouth to reply, and then shut it again. He had said something else, but she couldn’t remember what it was. It had something to do with darkness…she frowned deeply, trying to piece together the events after Andromeda had forced her to lift the Cruciatus curse but it was all a blur.

“Why do you do that?” Narcissa’s voice cut through Bellatrix’s thoughts. She looked up, perplexed.

“Do what?”

“That.” Narcissa seemed to be pointing at Bellatrix’s lap. Frowning, she looked down and saw nothing more than her knees and her hands, which were clasped.

“You stroke it. Your ring.” Narcissa elaborated, still pointing, “I’ve seen you do it before. You do it all the time.” She looked slightly uneasy, “Bella, where did you get that again?”

“I don’t…I can’t remember.” Bellatrix muttered. She hadn’t even noticed that she’d been stroking the ring and she didn’t understand why Narcissa found it so unnerving, “It was a gift, I think. Why is it important, anyway?”

“It’s not. It’s just a bit…” Narcissa trailed away and shook her head, “Anyway, you haven’t told me about Dromeda yet!”

Luckily, Bellatrix was spared telling her sister what had happened by the door swinging open and a house elf running in. Fixing both sisters in it’s lamp like stare, the elf squeaked anxiously, “Miss Bellatrix, Miss Narcissa, Mistress wants you to see her right now!”

“I thought she was out…” Bellatrix began, glancing suspiciously at Narcissa, but the blonde was looking equally confused.

“She returned a moment ago, Miss Bellatrix, and she is most insistent that you see her in the drawing room.”

Without another word to the elf, who was hopping from foot to foot in a nervous, crazed sort of dance, Bellatrix glanced at Narcissa and hurried from the room.


A.N. Yeah I know Ted's a muggleborn, not a muggle, but when I wrote this I didn't realise and it works better with the story, I think, if he is a muggle. More artistic license please? ^_^

Chapter 4: Chapter Four - The Unexpected Guest
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Disclaimer: The HP universe belongs soley to JK Rowling.


Chapter Four - The Unexpected Guest



The instant Bellatrix entered the room, she knew something was amiss. Her mother was sat, upright and stiff, in her chair by the fire, her eyes blank. She felt Narcissa’s hand worm into her own and held it tightly. It was then that she noticed the other person in the room.

His face was vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t remember where she had seen it before. He was very tall and thin, with dark hair and cold, black eyes. He had glanced in the direction of the door when Bellatrix and Narcissa had entered, but had quickly returned to staring at Druella.

The door slammed shut, breaking the oppressive silence. Bellatrix came to her senses and stepped forward, disregarding the man as she addressed her mother, “You asked for us, mother.”

Druella jumped, turning to look at her daughters as though she had never seen them before. Recognition slowly dawned on her face and she said quietly, “Yes. Yes…Mr Riddle will explain.”

The man stepped towards Bellatrix, coughing so as to draw attention to himself. Bellatrix fixed him in her gaze, remembering to keep her face impassive. In reality, Riddle’s confident stature impressed her more than she wanted it to. She felt Narcissa release her hold on her hand and stand up taller as she, too, fixed a proud look on her face.

“I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news,” Riddle began, his smile seeming slightly out of place, “I have been sent to inform you that your father has been found. Dead.”

Bellatrix felt a sudden pain in her abdomen, as though she had been punched, but she forced all emotion down in an effort to remain composed, “Who has sent you?”

“That is of no concern to you.” Riddle replied, keeping his voice respectful.

“I think you’ll find it is of great concern.” Bellatrix retorted. For a split second, she thought she saw Riddle’s eyes flash red, but it happened so quickly she was sure it was just a trick of the light.

Riddle gave her a penetrating stare, “I have come to inform you about your father’s last requests, Miss Black.”

“I refuse to speak to someone who doesn’t answer my questions.” She turned to leave.

“Then I shall speak to your mother and sister only, for it concerns them just as much as you.”

Bellatrix froze with her hand on the door handle. Turning back, she saw the pleading look on Narcissa’s face. Her sister was finding it far harder to repress the shock and sadness than she was. Sighing and hating the fact she had been beaten by Riddle, she turned back to face him.

Riddle smiled triumphantly and drew some parchment out of his pocket, opening it with a flourish, “The late Cygnus Black requests that his youngest daughter, Narcissa Black, will marry Lucius Malfoy,” Narcissa made a strange noise, halfway between a gasp and a sob, which went unnoticed by Riddle, “and that the marriage will take place a soon as possible, as Lucius Malfoy has already agreed to it. He also made a request that his estate, that is to say his house, possessions and fortune, should be left to Rodolphus Lestrange, with the intention that his eldest daughter, Bellatrix Black, will marry him and continue to live in this house.” He stopped and began to fold up the parchment again.

“Wait.” Bellatrix’s voice shook with anger, “I wish to see this document.”

Riddle froze in the middle of putting it in his pocket. Smiling disarmingly, he said nonchalantly, “I fail to see why. There is nothing I have omitted.”

“I don’t care.” Bellatrix whispered dangerously. She held out her hand. For a moment it seemed that Riddle wasn’t going to give it to her. The two of them, so alike in appearance with the same dark hair and eyes, stood at opposite ends of the room staring at each other.

Finally, Riddle held the parchment out for Bellatrix to take. She strode towards him, not breaking eye contact, until they were stood directly opposite each other. The moment Bellatrix ripped the paper from his hands, Riddle’s smile widened. She had never seen such a charming smile in all her life.

Wrenching her eyes away from his, Bellatrix stared down at the paper. It was her father’s handwriting; she recognised it immediately, although it seemed slightly shaky, as though Cygnus hadn’t been holding the quill properly. She glanced at her mother, communicating silently that their worst fears were confirmed. Her eyes then rested on Narcissa, who was doing such a good job of keeping her face emotionless. The moment their eyes met, though, Narcissa’s face crumpled and she fled from the room.

“You may leave now.” Bellatrix spoke harshly, as though she was ordering a house elf. She didn’t dare look at Riddle.

“I’m afraid I haven’t quite finished yet.” Riddle said softly. Bellatrix felt her heart sink as Riddle continued, “You see, legal ownership of the Black estate has not passed to you, Madam Black.”

Whirling around to face him, Bellatrix shook her head fiercely, “Do not say any more, Mr Riddle…” She murmured, drawing her wand.

“I’m afraid I must say more.” Riddle didn’t seem the least but concerned by her thinly veiled warning, “According to your father’s wishes, Miss Black, ownership of the estate has passed to Rodolphus Lestrange and to a lesser extent, yourself. Madam Black has no right to go on living here, or even to spend the late Cygnus Black’s money.”

Incensed, Bellatrix exclaimed, “I give her permission to live here!”

Riddle smiled, only this time it was a smile of someone who knew they had already won an argument, “I’m so sorry, Miss Black, but as the principle owner of the Black estate, Rodolphus Lestrange gets the final say in the matter.” Slowly, he began to reach once more into his pocket.

Bellatrix lowered her wand, feeling her world crash around her as she shook her head, lamely muttering, “No…no…”

“Mr Lestrange has been informed of the death of Mr Black, and his part in Mr Black’s will. He had only one request,” Riddle coughed to clear his throat, then spoke the words Bellatrix was afraid to hear, “That, as he put it, ‘Madam Druella Black vacate my property as soon as possible, owing to the fact it is to become the home of newly weds.’” Riddle’s mouth twisted nastily into a pale imitation of a smile as he turned to Druella Black, “Therefore Madam Black, I am afraid you must leave. Immediately.”

“No!” Bellatrix exclaimed, all formality and proper behaviour banished from her mind. She stared wildly from Druella to Riddle, hoping against hope that some solution could be found to the mess they had been dragged into.

“Bella, calm yourself!” Druella’s commanding voice rang through Bellatrix’s head. She reared, eyes popping madly, round on her mother. Druella Black had got to her feet and was looking at her daughter with contempt, “If I must leave, then I will leave. I do not need you to fight my battles for me, Bella. Calm yourself.

No!” Bellatrix shouted back, “Mother, there’s something wrong with this. Why has no-one from the Ministry come to inform us of father’s death? Who is he anyway?” She gestured to Riddle with her head, “Father wouldn’t request these things, mother! He wouldn’t split us up!” Her voice became more pleading, as though she was desperate for Druella to agree with her, “Father wouldn’t sell his daughters like this! And you, he would never leave you with nothing..." Her voice broke and she lowered her head, staring aimlessly at the ring on her finger.

“Bella, I am as confused and hurt as you are, but do you see me waving my wand around and threatening strangers, like a mad woman?” Druella’s voice was softer. Flashing Bellatrix a ghost of a smile she walked over to her writing desk, which was next to the door. Bending over to write something, she spoke over her shoulder, “I shall be fine, Bella. I will go to your Uncle Orion and Aunt Walburga. They have been asking me to stay a fair few times as of late, I think Sirius is proving to be a bit of a problem.”

Bellatrix laughed hollowly. Sirius Black was much more than just a ‘bit of a problem’. Druella finished writing and strode back to her daughter, pressing a bit of folded parchment into her hands, “Please give this to Narcissa.” She smiled encouragingly, stroking Bellatrix’s cheek, and whispered, “Have faith. Look after Narcissa.” Without looking at Riddle, she swept from the room, her head held high.

As soon as the door snapped behind her mother, Bellatrix felt smothered by Riddle’s presence. This uneasy feeling increased when she turned to face him and found he was staring at her with a strange smile on his face.

“I would ask that you leave, Mr Riddle.” She said coldly.

Riddle shook his head and whispered softly, “Miss Bella Black.”

The way he said her name seemed familiar, but Bellatrix couldn’t place where she had heard his voice before. It sent tingles through her body.

Riddle stepped forward, so slowly that Bellatrix was surprised to find him right in front of her.

“Do you want to know a secret, Miss Bella Black?” His voice was intoxicating. She could hardly breathe anymore. He reached out and stroked her cheek with one, long, pale finger. Suddenly realising that he’d asked her a question, Bellatrix nodded slowly, trapped in his stare.

His face split into that familiar lazy smile. Leaning forward, he pressed his cheek against hers and breathed, “It’s all because of you.”

It took Bellatrix an unnaturally long time to realise what he had said, as though his presence was dulling her senses, “What do you mean?” She murmured, unable to fully control her mouth.

“All this suffering,” he explained, pulling his head back so he could stare straight at her again, “Everything that is going to happen. It’s entirely your fault.”

“What?” The uneasy feeling at the pit of her stomach was coming back, Riddle’s eyes still held her captivated.

Riddle laughed, “Lord Voldemort is waiting for you, Miss Bella Black.”

What?” The dream like world shattered around Bellatrix. She jerked away from Riddle, suddenly on her guard, “What’s that criminal got to do with anything?”

Riddle’s face contorted, until Bellatrix wondered why she had ever thought him handsome. He seemed more snake-like than human, with slits for nostrils and horrific, red eyes flashing at her, “The Dark Lord is more than a petty criminal, Bellatrix Black!” he spat, “Your father may not have realised in time, but you will!” He smiled, baring his teeth, “Or you will see your family torn apart, all because of your stubborn will!”

She acted instinctively, ripping her wand out of her robes and shouting, “Crucio!” There was a flash of light, and Bellatrix felt the familiar feeling of absolute power seething through her body. But something was not right. There were no screams, no pleas for mercy…

Focussing her eyes, Bellatrix found herself in an empty room. Riddle had disappeared. Anger and frustration at Riddle’s words and pain at the death of her father and the loss of her mother and sisters burst out of Bellatrix, and she directed her wand at the furniture, blasting the chairs and tables to smithereens as she alternated between laughing and crying. Only when the entire room had been reduced to dust did she stop. Taking one step forward, Bellatrix felt her knees give way beneath her and gratefully fell down into unconsciousness.

~


She dreamt that she was a little girl again, playing in her room with Andromeda and Narcissa. In the corner, her mother was sat watching her children play proudly. Her father was there too, but he was watching them with an entirely different expression on his face. Bellatrix knew why he looked so severe. All he had ever wanted was a boy, but instead he had got three daughters; daughters who were only good for marrying off to wealthy pureblooded men.

Bellatrix concentrated back on the game she was playing with her sisters. Each of them was caring for their dolls, each of which had been custom made to look like its owner. Bellatrix looked down at hers but was surprised to see the doll’s face was out of focus.

She tried to focus on the face, but it continued to swim in front of her eyes. Frowning, Bellatrix got up and went to her parents, holding the doll out in front of her. First she went to her father, putting the doll on his knees and staring up into his impassive face. He didn’t react at all, and continued to watch Narcissa and Andromeda playing. Bellatrix tried to form his name on her baby tongue, but couldn’t manage it. She turned to look pleadingly at her mother, but Druella Black had the same fixed expression on her face and refused to look down at Bellatrix.

Frustrated, Bellatrix ran back to her sisters and tried to communicate with them, but only to be faced with the same reaction. She even pulled their hair and slapped their cheeks to try to get their attention, but to no avail.

Eventually, she conceded defeat and resorted to trying once more to focus on her doll’s face. It was highly disorientating to see the whole of the doll in focus, but then reach the face and see it contorting in front of her eyes. Angrily, Bellatrix threw the doll face down on the floor, folding her arms and frowning deeply.

“What have you done?!”

Bellatrix turned, shocked, to face her mother, who was looking at her with mistrust and dislike in her eyes, “Why have you condemned us, Bellatrix?” she asked forcibly.

“Why don’t you ever think about other people, Bella?” Narcissa said quietly, her huge blue eyes swimming with tears, “You could have stopped this.”

“You’ve changed, Bellatrix Black.” Andromeda said, looking frightened as Bellatrix turned to her, “The sister I knew would have sacrificed herself.”

Bellatrix found her tongue, “I…what…I don’t understand…what am I supposed to do?”

“The Dark Lord is waiting, Bellatrix.” Cygnus Black rasped, his face transforming into a grotesque skull. Bellatrix’s eyes widened in horror as her father’s body slowly rotted in front of her. She shook her head, trying to understand.

“Lord Voldemort?”

Narcissa nodded, “Lord Voldemort has chosen you, Bellatrix. Don’t you want to serve him?”

“I…no!” Bellatrix’s voice strengthened, “He’s nothing but a criminal…”

“Much more than a criminal, Bella!” Druella laughed insanely, “The Dark Lord is waiting, Bellatrix Black!”

“The Dark Lord is waiting, Bellatrix Black!” Narcissa and Andromeda began to chant, advancing slowly until they were either side of Bellatrix. She tried to shut out their horrible chanting voices, but it was all she could hear. The words bounced off her skull until it was all she could think of. Clasping her hands over her ears, Bellatrix rocked backwards and forwards, staring wildly at her doll, who was still lying on the floor. Squeezing her eyes shut, she desperately tried to wake up, to get away from this horrible nightmare…


Bellatrix opened her eyes. Struggling to shake sleep from her aching body, she slowly inched herself upright. Everything around her was destroyed, and it took her a few moments to remember what had happened. The events of the previous night crushed down upon her and she felt involuntary tears come to her eyes, which she angrily forced back. This was no time for tears.

Struggling to her feet, Bellatrix left the wrecked drawing room. She stumbled up the hall, her entire body stiff and aching from sleeping on a hard floor. Random images flashed up in her tired mind; Tom Riddle, whom she was sure she’d met before, her mother, proudly walking from the room having been banished from the home she had lived in with her now deceased husband, Narcissa trying so hard to keep her face blank as she was told the worst news she could be told…

“Bella!”

Bellatrix spun around just in time to see her sister run to her and wrap her arms around her. Narcissa’s usually beautifully curled blonde hair was ragged around her face and she was still wearing yesterday’s makeup, which was smudged down her cheeks. Bellatrix was so wrapped up in embracing her little sister that she almost didn’t notice the parchment she was holding in shaking, white hands.

Gently lifting Narcissa’s hand up, Bellatrix took the paper from her. Wiping her eyes, Narcissa muttered, “It says I’ve got to go to Malfoy Manor. Something about it being father’s request that I marry immediately…I don’t want to leave you, though…”

Bellatrix read the letter carefully, only to find that it contained exactly what Narcissa had said. She sighed, “I’ll be fine. Honestly.”

“If you say so.” Narcissa replied, sounding unconvinced, but she managed a small smile, “I’d better be going, I just don’t like the thought of leaving you on your own here…” She faltered, staring at Bellatrix with obvious concern in her eyes, “You’ll come to visit of course…”

“This isn’t right.” Bellatrix muttered distractedly, screwing up the parchment and throwing it from her in disgust, “This isn’t father…”

“Who else could it be?” Narcissa stated matter-of-factly, “You read his will, Bella, you saw his handwriting. And he did put me next to Malfoy at the dance…and you next to Lestrange.”

Bellatrix scowled. She had forgotten all about the dance. It seemed a world away now. Narcissa bustled past her towards the stairs, muttering to herself as she went, “I’ll go by Floo, I think. It’s quicker…but what if it messes up my…” She reached a hand to her lank hair and shook her head, “Well, never mind…”

Helplessly, Bellatrix watched Narcissa climb the stairs and disappear into her room to pack. Half an hour later she returned, bumping a bulging suitcase down the stairs in front of her. She had changed her clothes, and was now wearing figure hugging robes of exactly the same shade of blue as her eyes. Her hair fell gently down her back in loose curls and her face was composed.

Bellatrix summoned two house elves to carry Narcissa’s bag and travelling cloak to the dining room, which was the only room with a big enough fireplace for travelling by Floo powder.

“Write to me.” Narcissa instructed as she stepped into the fireplace. Bellatrix could manage no more than a strangled noise at the back of her throat. Narcissa smiled, a wide, genuine smile, “And don’t worry about me, please. This is what father wanted. His last wish. I wouldn’t go if I didn’t want to, I’d have thought you’d know that.” Wrinkling her nose playfully, she took a handful of Floo powder from the pot offered to her by a house elf, “At least he’s better looking than Lestrange!”

“Hey…” Bellatrix said, slowly realising what Narcissa was saying.

Narcissa just laughed, saying, “Malfoy Manor!” before throwing the Floo powder down and disappearing in violent green flames.



Chapter 5: Chapter Five - Loneliness
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Disclaimer: I don't own anything to do with HP. I am merely borrowing it, non profit, from JK Rowling.

Chapter Five - Loneliness



Life was lonely for Bellatrix Black. For three weeks she had remained at the Black estate, visited by no-one, completely cut off from the rest of the wizarding world. Three weeks had passed since her mother and Narcissa had left her, and they had been three of the longest weeks she had ever known. Not once had she cried for her father, but she often found herself staring hopelessly at something as her mind wandered over the events of the past weeks.

She hadn’t heard a word from Rodolphus Lestrange since the letter Tom Riddle had read out, and wasn’t sure if it was a good or bad thing. She certainly wanted company for the house was cold and silent without any other human beings, but she wasn’t sure if she could stand being alone with him. She deeply hoped that he would never come to the house he had been left.

Part of the reason she didn’t want Lestrange in the house was currently clutched in her left hand. Narcissa had been gone for a few days before Bellatrix suddenly remembered the note her mother had written. For hours she had sat, staring at the folded paper, knowing she should send it by owl to her sister, but wondering what it was the Druella Black had written to her youngest daughter that she hadn’t thought worth telling Bellatrix.

Eventually her curiosity and jealousy overwhelmed her and Bellatrix had hungrily ripped the note open to read the two sentences her mother had scrawled:

“It’s all a lie, Bella. Riddle is Voldemort.”

Bellatrix felt something suddenly click into place in her mind. Her mother had obviously been counting on her natural curiosity, and had always intended that the note be read by Bellatrix. If Riddle was Voldemort, then the only reason he could have known about Cygnus Black’s death before the Ministry was if he had been there at the time. The thought grew and grew in her head until it was all she could think about. Her father hadn’t simply died, he had been murdered.

With this unpleasant thought in her mind, Bellatrix remembered back to the dance, and how Lucius Malfoy had toasted Voldemort and Lestrange had applauded him for doing it. It all seemed so obvious, she wasn’t sure why she hadn’t thought of it before; both Malfoy and Lestrange supported Voldemort. Somehow, Voldemort had managed to forge a fake will, which meant that both of Cygnus’s children were married to supporters of Voldemort, and his wife was made destitute.

The only unanswered question was why had Voldemort killed Cygnus in the first place? There had to be a reason. Bellatrix was sure that somewhere in her mind there was a memory that would answer that question, but she just couldn’t get to it.

She was constantly plagued by nightmares of her family blaming her for their suffering and urging her to support Voldemort. Waking from these nightmares, Bellatrix often found herself lying on the floor after falling from her bed, or else standing at the top of the stairs swaying dangerously as though she had been about to fall just before she woke.

Sometimes the dreams came back to haunt her during the day, leaving her disorientated and confused as to what she had been doing. Often, Bellatrix went days without eating, and even more without sleeping, pure fear keeping her awake during the dark, cold nights.

She was always cold these days, although the ring on her finger seemed to be hot, as though it was stealing all her natural body heat. Bellatrix dismissed these fevered thoughts and put her coldness down to the house elves not maintaining the fires properly. After ordering them to punish themselves, then helping them on the way with a few curses, she began to feel better. Even the dreams were less frightening.

Her good mood improved further when she received a letter from Narcissa, although she couldn’t hide her disappointment at how short it was. A house elf limped in when Bellatrix was eating her dinner and handed her the letter with bandaged fingers. Assuming it had slammed its fingers in the oven door as a punishment, she dismissed it with a wave of her hand.

Recognising Narcissa’s handwriting immediately, Bellatrix eagerly tore the envelope open and scanned the page:

Bella,

Sorry I haven’t written earlier, I’ve been so busy. Lucius and I are married! It was such a wonderful ceremony, and he was just perfect. I’m sorry you couldn’t come to the wedding; he didn’t want it to be a big affair. Mother was there, you’ll be pleased to know I’m sure. She worried me, though, when she said she hadn’t heard anything from you. I’m concerned for you, Bella, why haven’t you written to anyone? Of course, I know you won’t reply to me so I’m going to have to visit you sometime, probably on Monday because Lucius is out all day. I don’t care what you’re doing then, I’m coming anyway.

See you soon

Cissy

x


Bellatrix laid the letter down on the table, unsure of what to think. Why hadn’t she been invited to her own sister’s wedding? A crushing feeling of loneliness swept over her. She had been on her own, battling horrible nightmares and trying to piece together what had happened to Cygnus, whilst the rest of her family had been attending a wedding! It wasn’t fair. Bellatrix took the letter up again and, in a fit of frustration and anger, tore it to pieces and threw it on the fire. Her head hurt unbearably and her eyes were heavy with sudden fatigue.

The last thing she saw before her head dipped down onto her chin was the ring on her right hand. For the first time, she saw it glowing. Fear prickling through her, Bellatrix desperately tried to fight the tiredness, but it was taking over her and making her limbs heavy. Finally, she conceded that she could do nothing but give in to it and slip into unconsiousness.

~


“The Dark Lord is waiting, Bellatrix Black!”

Bellatrix screamed out loud as her family crowded around her, grotesquely misshapen limbs reaching out to claw at her face and eyes filled with unnatural fire transfixing her and stopping her from moving.

She hugged her knees tight under her chin, swaying backwards and forwards as she always did, her only comfort being the knowledge that at some point she would awaken.

The dream changed…

Bellatrix raised her tear stained face, confused. The dream never changed. It was always the same. She saw she was in an old graveyard. The gravestones were all chipped and decaying. Everything was dead. Bellatrix shivered as a cold wind picked up around her and it was then that she saw him.

Tom Riddle came striding out of the mist to greet her. His arms were wide and a manic smile was plastered on his face as he laughed, “Miss Bella Black!”

Bellatrix tried to get up, to run from him, but he held her in his gaze as he had the night her father died, “Bellatrix Black, Lord Voldemort grows tired of your disloyalty.”

Bellatrix shook her head, mumbling incoherent words, which made Riddle laugh again, “I am tired of your fighting, Bella, but do not think that I have not noted your loyalty to your family. I respect that. Think of your family, think of what you’re doing to them.”

He suddenly lunged forward; grabbing Bellatrix’s left arm and wrenching her upright by it. Bellatrix whimpered in pain as his nails dug into her skin, but she still didn’t move. She didn’t know why, but part of her didn’t want to run.

“Perhaps this will teach you where your loyalties ought to lie.” Riddle said smoothly, raising his wand and jabbing it into the flesh of Bellatrix’s arm.

It was pain the likes of which she had never experienced before. She screamed and screamed…her arm was on fire…it was splitting in two. She closed her eyes shut, falling once more to her knees, desperately hoping it was going to end, but it didn’t. She wanted to faint with the pain, but knew she couldn’t because this was only a dream. But was it a dream? The pain was real, that was certain…Riddle’s mocking laughter was real…the burning in the middle finger of her right hand was real…


Bellatrix jerked upwards out of her nightmare. She was stood in the middle of the ruined drawing room. Looking down at her hands, she saw clumps of her own dark hair entwined in her fingers. Her left arm was still in agony, but even as she thought this the pain lessened. The sharp, burning sensation on the middle finger of her right hand, though, continued to throb, sending spasms up her entire arm.

The ring was glowing brightly, as though it was on fire. Bellatrix tried to pull it off with her fingers, but it scorched her skin. Wanting to scream with the agony, she stuffed the finger in her mouth and bit down hard with her teeth. Yanking her head back, she ripped the ring off and spat it onto the ground before it could burn her tongue.

Backing away from it, Bellatrix ran from the room. She leapt up the stairs, taking two at a time in her haste, and quickly got to the bathroom. Dragging her wand out of her pocket, she muttered, “Lumos.

Shakily, holding her wand between her teeth and keeping her eyes squeezed shut, Bellatrix rolled up the left sleeve of her dress. Taking her wand back in her right hand, she took several deep breaths before opening her eyes.

Her whole body convulsed and she threw her head into the sink just in time to be violently sick. Her once smooth white forearm was burnt black with some sort of ghastly tattoo. Terror gripped Bellatrix’s heart and she turned to run from the room, only to slip on the polished floor. She fell backwards, clipping the back of her head on the sink and the darkness claimed her once more.

~


“Bella, I’m worried about you.”

Bellatrix coughed, reluctantly raising her head so she could see Narcissa. Even then, her sister’s face swam before her eyes. Parting cracked lips, she replied hoarsely, “I’m fine. I just had a bad night…”

Narcissa’s pretty face screwed up with pity as she surveyed her sister. In four short weeks, Bellatrix had wasted away. Narcissa was sure living alone in such a big house had something to do with it, but her pleas to allow Bellatrix to come and live at Malfoy Manor had fallen on deaf ears, “Have you been eating, Bella?” She inquired gently.

Bellatrix winced as her head began to throb painfully, “Yes. I’m not a child, Cissy.” She drew a sharp intake of breath, clutching her left arm which had begun to spasm.

Narcissa pretended not to notice. Looking out of the window at the familiar gardens she had grown up in, she felt a pang of longing to be back in her childhood home, if for nothing more than to care for Bellatrix. It was so peaceful. Not like outside in the wizarding world. She shuddered as her mind wandered to the events of the past few weeks, “Have you heard the news, Bella?” She said, turning back to face her sister.

Bellatrix was currently fighting with her left arm, but every shuddering spasm only served to weaken her further. She paled as she thought of the horrifying tattoo branded into her skin underneath her sleeve, and only just heard Narcissa’s words, “No…I haven’t been getting the Prophet.”

“Well, the Dark Lord is growing in power.” Narcissa said quietly, “It’s quite alarming really. There have been lots of murders and its not just muggles anymore. They’re people high in the Ministry…everyone knows it’s him but they’re just too scared to mention it to anyone because they think they’ll be next.”

“Why are you mentioning it to me, then?” Bellatrix smiled weakly, a shadow of her normal character showing through the clouds of pain.

A frightened look passed over Narcissa’s face, then she said very quietly, “Well…Lucius…he agrees with a lot of what the Dark Lord’s saying and…”

Bellatrix closed her eyes against the aching in her head, which was turning into a violent migraine, “He serves the Dark Lord doesn’t he?”

Narcissa shook her head vehemently, “Bella…he supports what the Dark Lord is saying…” She enunciated clearly, eyes wide. Bellatrix understood her meaning completely; it didn’t come as a surprise to her.

“Bella, are you sure you’re alright?” Narcissa leaned forward, frowning slightly, “Would you like me to look at your arm?”

“No!” Bellatrix shrank back from her sister, hugging her left arm close against her stomach. Narcissa blinked, surprised by such an overreaction. Struggling to cover up her mistake, Bellatrix asked, “So, what’s it like? Being married, I mean.”

Narcissa smiled, grateful to take up such in interesting topic of conversation, “It’s much better than I could ever have thought. Lucius is wonderful, not anything like I imagined him…” She laughed, correcting herself, “Well, it’s true that he loves himself, but I suppose I can be a bit arrogant at times too.”

Bellatrix nodded distractedly. Her arm shuddered, sending ripples of pain shooting up towards her shoulder and chest. Suddenly feeling very sick, she let her head roll forwards in an effort to stop the wave of nausea. Her vision was almost completely gone and a strange howling noise in her ears blocked out all other sounds.

Narcissa gasped, leaping from her chair and rushing forward as Bellatrix fell from her chair. Grasping her sister under the arms, Narcissa heaved her upright again, slapping her gently on the cheek in an effort to revive her, “Bella! Bella!” She whispered, frightened, as Bellatrix groaned with the exertion of lifting her head up.

Seeing how her sister gripped her left arm, Narcissa gently pulled it towards her and began to slowly roll up the sleeve. This seemed to be the epicentre of whatever illness Bellatrix had, and she was determined to make her sister well again. Bellatrix moaned as she brushed the material up her arm; it was obviously a tender spot. Narcissa smiled encouragingly at her half-unconcious sister, “Don’t worry, Bella, I’ll sort you out.” She turned back to the arm.

Dropping it as though it had burnt her, Narcissa got to her feet like lightening and stumbled away from where her sister was lying. Branded onto Bellatrix’s arm, still raw as though it had been freshly done, was a gruesome skull with a snake twisting out of its gaping mouth. Lifting a shaking hand to her mouth, Narcissa gasped, “Bella…what…what have you done?”

The words cut through Bellatrix like a sword. So many times, in so many fevered dreams, she had heard her family repeat this question again and again. She ripped her sleeve down again, forcing her head to clear, “I don’t…I had a dream…”

“A dream?!” Narcissa sounded slightly hysterical, “What are you talking about? Bellatrix, that’s the Dark Lord’s mark! Only his followers have that branded onto their skin!” She lowered her hand, face set as she muttered, “So Lucius was right…”

“What?” Bellatrix mumbled, fighting another wave of nausea.

“He told me…but I didn’t believe him at first…He said that you were a loyal follower of the Dark Lord and when father died you changed the will so you inherited the estate. He said Lestrange was never going to keep it…that he was going to pass it on to you so you could give it to your master. He said it was all a plot to get the Black fortune…but I never thought it was true…” She stared down at Bellatrix, “I suppose it was…”

“No…” Bellatrix stuttered. It didn’t make any sense, even in her clouded mind, “Why would I change the will, Cissy? Why would I force you into marriage and banish mother from her home?”

Narcissa’s face remained set. She couldn’t keep her eyes off the tattoo branded into Bellatrix’s forearm, “I don’t know, Bella, but I do know that’s the Dark Mark on your arm, and no-one’s stupid enough to fool around and play tricks with that.”

“Cissy!” Bellatrix pleaded, forcing herself to her feet. When Narcissa turned to leave, Bellatrix shouted, “It doesn’t make any sense! Cissy, listen to what you’re saying! Why do you believe Lucius Malfoy over me?! He supports Voldemort, or the Dark Lord, or whatever you call him as well! Why do you believe an arrogant, precocious snob over your own sister?!”

Narcissa whirled around to face Bellatrix, eyes flashing with fury, “Because, Bella, that arrogant, precocious snob happens to be my husband! And that’s one part of your plan that didn’t work out, isn’t it? You didn’t count on me actually loving my husband!” She shouted back, before storming from the room.

Bellatrix stood for a moment, breathing heavily, unsure of what had just happened. Her vision was blurring around the edges again and she felt suddenly very thirsty. Her mind seemed on the brink of tearing itself in two. It didn’t make any sense. How had she managed to physically get the Dark Mark, as Narcissa had called it, when she had only dreamt of receiving it? Why did Narcissa believe her husband of only a few weeks over her sister? And, above all, why was Voldemort so intent on getting her?

She thought briefly of the ring she had ripped from her finger, which was still lying on the floor of the drawing room. What was its part in all of this? She squeezed her eyes tight, desperately trying to remember where it had come from, but she had owned it for as long as she could remember.

Tears involuntarily trickled down her cheeks and Bellatrix curled up on the floor, hugging her knees and crossing her feet in the foetal position, where she felt the safest. It didn’t make any sense. It didn’t make any sense.


A.N. Just want to say that, in order to stay TOS compliant, Narcissa was consenting to the marriage at the time of the wedding. No forced marriages here! :D



Chapter 6: Chapter Six - The End
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Disclaimer I do not own Harry Potter, JK Rowling does


Chapter Six - The End



When Bellatrix awoke cold morning light was pouring through the windows, indicating it was a few hours past dawn. Her muscles were stiff, but thankfully the blinding pain in her head and arm had faded into a dull ache. Groggily summoning a house elf, she requested water which was hurriedly fetched. Taking a sip, she ran her hands through her hair, surprised that her fingers got caught in many knots.

Stumbling out of the room as though she had never used her legs before, Bellatrix managed to drag herself across the corridor and up the stairs. Rejecting the bathroom in which she had discovered the Dark Mark, she instead used Narcissa’s bathroom, reasoning that after her discovery the previous day her sister was unlikely to return.

She gratefully slid into the deep, hot bath, allowing the water to relax her tense muscles and the scented bubbles to clear her head. As she lay, Bellatrix forced her mind away from the painful events of recent times. Her left arm was covered in bubbles so that she could pretend it was normal again. Closing her eyes, she let her mind wander back to when she was a girl.

They had been close, but always different. Although at first, they had each blindly followed their parent’s strict rules about pure bloods, knowing no different, they had come to question them in later years. Andromeda had, predictably, been the first to inquire why she wasn’t allowed to visit some of her Hogwarts friends in the summer. When Druella had snapped that their families were a disgrace to wizardkind, Andromeda had gotten unnecessarily angry and taken herself off to Grimmauld Place, where she always went when her parents frustrated her.

Personally, Bellatrix couldn’t stand Grimmauld Place. For a start it was poky and dirty, as there was only one elf to maintain the place. Then there was Sirius, her irritating know-it-all of a cousin. They had never got on, mainly because Bellatrix got so frustrated at Sirius’s choice of friends, and the fact he had been put in Gryffindor at Hogwarts. Having lived up until she was eleven being threatened that she would be disowned if placed in Gryffindor, Bellatrix reasoned it was only natural to dislike the house. But Andromeda seemed to enjoy Sirius’s company, especially after an argument at home.

Narcissa, always desperate for male attention, had tried her hand at flirting with just about every boy she met at Hogwarts, which had led to some heated discussions at home as to who she should mingle with. Although at first mildly irritated at having her supply of boys limited, Narcissa had quickly adapted herself and declared that she preferred Slytherin boys anyway. Bellatrix felt a twinge of sadness as she thought of Narcissa; annoying, self obsessed but ultimately sweet and loving towards members of her family.

She thought of herself, the eldest, and yet in many ways more reluctant to reject her parent’s authority than Andromeda and Narcissa. But it didn’t matter now anyway, they were gone. She opened her eyes, blinking in the sunlight that poured through the high window. They were all gone. Andromeda, giving up her family for the love of a muggle; Narcissa, forced into a marriage and now being fed lies by her deceitful husband; Cygnus, dead, possibly murdered by Voldemort because of an unknown crime; Druella, banished from her house and torn from her children…not for the first time, Bellatrix wondered what was to become of herself.

She was forced out of her reverie by the distant sound of someone knocking on the front door. Knowing the house elves would answer the door and invite the visitor in, she made no attempt to immediately get out of the bath. Finally, though, she urged her aching bones into action and staggered out clumsily, wrapping a bath robe around her thin shoulders.

Picking her wand up off the floor, she spelled herself dry and her hair into a presentable style, wincing at her reflection in the full length mirror. She was emaciated, so thin she could see her ribs and back bone. Her face was still beautiful, despite her skin taking on a slightly grey colour, but it was thinner and her cheekbones much more prominent. Turning from the mirror, Bellatrix roughly pulled on some clothes of Narcissa’s, making sure the sleeve covered up the Dark Mark, and went to greet her guest.

~


She was surprised, although not in a good way, to see Lucius Malfoy sitting comfortably in a chair when she entered the parlour. He looked far too at home, leaning back in the wooden chair, drinking freshly brewed tea from a china cup. Bellatrix closed the door with a snap, “What are you doing here?”

Lucius smiled pleasantly, “My wife returned home in quite a state yesterday. She said something about you having taken the Dark Mark.” He raised one elegant eyebrow, “I thought it could not possibly be true, of course.”

“Don’t lie to me.” Bellatrix retorted, “You were the one who put those stupid ideas in her head in the first place. If you’ve just come to gloat, you can leave right now.” Her head was beginning to hurt again, and she wondered briefly if it was an allergic reaction to Malfoys, “How was the wedding? I’m told it was amazing, although I’ve always assumed the sister of the bride would be the first to get an invitation…”

“We wanted to keep it small.” Lucius replied. Bellatrix snorted in disbelief.

“Of course, I can see how one extra person would really clog up everything.” She lurched forward, grabbing hold of the table top as bright lights popped in front of her eyes.

Lucius considered her for a moment, “You haven’t been taking care of yourself, now that you’re alone, have you, Bella?” he smirked.

Don’t call me that!” Bellatrix hissed dangerously, swaying on the spot as her head throbbed fiercely, “Only my friends call me that, and, thankfully, you are the furthest from a friend there can be.” Her face brightened suddenly, “You don’t want me hurt you, do you Lucius?”

Lucius’s nostrils flared and he put down his cup of tea with a bang, “Enough of this.” He muttered, trying to ignore Bellatrix’s triumphant smile. He coughed slightly, standing up and surveying her with proud eyes, “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately these tasks sometimes fall on my shoulders.”

All thoughts of teasing Lucius were banished from Bellatrix’s mind and the smile slipped from her face. She shook her head vaguely, “I don’t want to hear it…”

“I’m afraid you have no choice.” Lucius sneered, “It’s your mother, Bella, she’s been found. Dead.”

~


Bellatrix wasn’t sure whether it was night or day anymore. She lay in her bed, staring blankly at the ceiling, thinking of nothing, but feeling so much. Too much. Her entire body ached with the emotion.

She didn’t exactly know how she had got there. She remembered Lucius Malfoy, remembered the words she had been desperate not to hear spilling from his mouth, but after that everything went hazy. All she could recall was a feeling of intense anger, borne from the pain of too many losses, spilling out of her like a huge fireball. She didn’t know if she’d managed to curse Malfoy, or if he had gotten away, but it didn’t matter any more.

She must have gone to the destroyed drawing room as well, because she was currently clutching the ring in her hand. The ring Tom Riddle had given her. She remembered now. And she knew what the ring could do. It was how Riddle had been entering her mind, how he had had such a hold on her. Even now, whilst she held the ring, her heart beat faster and her chest heaved as she thought of Riddle. She frowned. Not Riddle, Riddle was gone. The man who had entered her dreams had been Lord Voldemort.

There was one thing she was certain of, and that was that she was the only one who could stop it. She remembered what Voldemort had said when he’d come bearing the news of Cygnus Black’s death under the guise of Tom Riddle. It’s all because of you…it’s entirely your fault…

Her mind was distorting again and the ring was growing hot in her fingers. The Mark burned in her arm suddenly stung painfully, but this time Bellatrix laughed at the pain. She laughed softly, stroking the Mark with one finger, enjoying the burning sensation that rippled up and down her arm. Abruptly sitting up, she came face to face with Lord Voldemort.

Not in the least bit surprised, she laughed in his face, choking out words she didn’t properly think through, “Come to kill me, eh? Come to finish the job? You can have the house of Black now…it’s all yours…”

Voldemort raised one hand which commanded silence. Bellatrix stopped laughing immediately, staring at him with wild eyes. He shook his head, “Haven’t I told you what I wanted, Miss Bella Black? I don’t want you dead; I want you to serve me.”

Why me?” Bellatrix moaned. Her head was splitting in two; all the different emotions she had refused to feel were vying for priority, “Why did you kill father and mother? Why didn’t you go for Cissy instead, or Dromeda? Why?

He considered her for a moment, with what looked strangely like pity in his eyes, “Years ago, your father promised the Black family to me.” he began, speaking softly. Bellatrix listened with rapt attention, “When the time came to serve, he was too cowardly, but I’d always known he would be. I never wanted him in the first place; I had always known he would be too old when I rose to power, but getting rid of him was necessary to exert my authority. I had always wanted you, though, Bella. You showed promise, even from an early age, promise your other sisters lacked. You grew up respecting pureblood law, even going as far as to enforce it amongst your peers at Hogwarts. I’d given you the ring at an early age, so when the time came I could call for you.”

He paused, a slight frown lining his forehead, “But you were stubborn, more so than I thought you would be. So I used the ring to cause you to have horrific dreams in which your family taunted you endlessly; I made you sleep then branded you with my Mark, causing you to have a nightmare that would break even the strongest men, but you still resisted.” He grimaced, “But it is of no consequence now, for I have destroyed you, Miss Bella Black; I’ve succeeded in turning the last remaining members of your family against you. You have no-one anymore.” A shadow of a smile passed over his face, “Apart from me.”

Bellatrix shook her head weakly, the information sinking slowly into her already overcrowded mind. A strange buzzing was starting up in her head, as though what Voldemort had said was finally tipping it over the edge. She suddenly cried out as her headache reached previously unknown levels of pain, and she allowed herself to fall back into the bed, gripping her forehead with her hands.

Mother dead…father dead…sisters gone…nothing left…

Her eyes rolled in their sockets, for she was unable to control them in this state and she screamed out, pleading for help, for healing…

And then, just when she thought she would die from agony, the pain stopped. Her head felt light on her shoulders, and when she struggled back up into a seated position, it bobbed bizarrely from side to side. The first thing her wide eyes rested on was Voldemort’s dark eyes.

She was a little girl again, struck dumb by his intoxicating gaze. When she was offered the ring, the item that was to destroy her, all she could do was take it. He wanted her to have it; therefore she gladly accepted it from him, desperate to please him.

Then she was in the drawing room. Druella had just walked from the room. She remembered how he had spoken, so soft, so intense. She drew her hand up to her cheek, remembering how close he had been, how she had unconsciously hoped he would remain that close forever.

She had no concerns anymore, but she was no longer numb inside. As she stared at him, she felt a fierce emotion rise from inside her and flood her with purpose. All she wanted was to be close to him.

She smiled a strangely lopsided smile and lifted her left arm up so she could see the Dark Mark branded into her skin. Pressing it against her lips, she kissed the skull lovingly, her eyes on Voldemort all the time. All she wanted was to give herself to him. All she wanted to remember now was how much she adored him…

His face remained impassive, but victory gleamed in his eyes as he leant towards her and asked, “Will you serve Lord Voldemort, Miss Bella Black?”

Somewhere inside her broken mind, the previous incarnation of Bellatrix Black screamed out, No! But that incarnation seemed so far away, locked in the dark recesses of her brain. Bellatrix could hardly hear the screams and one day, not too far in the future, they would be drowned out forever.

Still staring lovingly into his eyes, Bellatrix Black slowly nodded her head, “Yes, Lord, I live to serve only you.”


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