Bellatrix hardly noticed the spectacular ceiling, the ghosts or the smiling faces of the older students around her. There was only one thing her attention was focused on. She was preoccupied because Professor McGonagall had slipped a worn hat on her head: the Sorting Hat. Bellatrix already had a vague idea where she wanted to be. She wanted to be in Gryffindor or Slytherin. Either one would be good. Admittedly her parents would be a little…very shocked and horrified if she was sorted into Gryffindor but she thought she could handle it. A little voice spoke in her head that almost made her jump off the little wooden stool.
Hmm…you’re a clever girl…Ravenclaw?
Not Ravenclaw…I’m no bookworm.
Trusting and loyal to the end…Hufflepuff?
Merlin, No! Please! Anything but that!
But you’re braver than most people are…Gryffindor? That seems right…
That’s more like it! But…
You know how to get what you want…Slytherin?
Where to put you? Ah, I see now…
“Slytherin!” roared the Sorting Hat.
A round of applause came from the Slytherin table but no one look in the least bit surprised. Lucius Malfoy was sitting with his usual bunch of friend and he did not join in. Bellatrix was pleasantly surprised when a sixth year, Rodolphus Lestrange, offered her a seat next to him. Bellatrix decided that she’d better not tell anyone that she was almost sorted in Gryffindor. It was a wise choice.
Andromeda spared a glance at her sister as the hat fell on her head. She knew were she wanted to be, Gryffindor, but she also knew where her parents wanted her to be. She’d rather please them than spend every summer being the scorn of her family.
Not Gryffindor…not Gryffindor…
Not Gryffindor, eh?
Not Gryffindor… not Gryffindor…
You want to please your family?
That’s not the most important thing…
No! Not Gryffindor!
I think you’ll realize that when the time comes but for now…
Bellatrix clapped louder than the rest of the Slytherins. Andromeda blushed scarlet but had to admit that the Gryffindor table looked far more welcoming, especially when Ted Tonks, the boy who she had shared a compartment with, was sorted there. Feeling a little lonely and out of place, Andormeda sat down next to her older sister, wondering what life would have been like if she had been in Gryffindor.
Sirius seized the hat from a bemused McGonagall and but it on his head. He didn’t look nervous at all. Bellatrix stifled a laugh and Andromeda frowned. Three first year boys on the Gryffindor table, who looked like they were no more nervous than the seventh year, who Bellatrix only knew as ‘Frank’, they were sitting next to, cheered him on but were silenced by glares from McGonagall
Brave, reckless, loyal…
No need for consideration…
It was not surprising that everyone in the hall but a few first years gasped in shock. Bellatrix couldn’t hide her disappointment. She wanted Sirius to be in her house, the two Marauders together, but when Sirius joined the other three other boys she realized that Sirius had met more marauders. She smirked and wondered at the mischief they would get into but promised that she would join in.
Narcissa was petrified. If it was anything other than an old hat she thought that she would die of fright on the spot. She winced when McGonagall put the hat on her head.
Another difficult one…
Just like your sisters…
You’ve got intelligence, but will you use it?
I can’t be in Ravenclaw!
You can be brave, but will you be?
I’ll be in trouble like Sirius…
You want a feel a sense of community…a family, right?
More than anything…
Well, if you insist…
Regulus cast a glance at his brother. He wanted to be with him, he really did. He, unlike his parents, was proud of Sirius for being in Gryffindor. His brother was sitting with three other boys. Narcissa, who had just been sorted, sat between Bellatrix and Andromeda and gave him a confident smile. He looked at the hat that was in the old transfiguration teacher’s hands. Where could he go? The hat slipped on his head and covered the view of the hall.
Just like your cousins…
You may want to be with your brother but your heart says otherwise…
Sirius gasped in disappointment. The boy he was sitting next to whispered something in his ear. Regulus walked grudgingly over to the Slytherin table and sat between Andromeda and a boy with dark, greasy hair.
It seemed like five minutes ago to Bellatrix when she had put on that ragged hat. In reality it had been over seven years. To her parent’s disappointment, she was not head girl. Her parents were oblivious to it, and neither Bellatrix or Professor Dumbledore thought it wise to enlighten them, but the reason for this was that Bellatrix was the unknown fifth marauder and, with the exception of Remus Lupin, marauders tended not to be prefects. Not many of the students were aware of Bellatrix secret role as the only girl and Slytherin that was a part of the infamous gang. She wasn’t an animagus but she knew full well that three of the marauders were. She only took part in daylight adventures like finding secret passageways and locking Mrs. Norris in the broom cupboard. To everyone else she was Bellatrix Black, quiet Slytherin who didn’t talk much except to her relatives, who always finished her homework and showed impressive skill when it came to Defence Against the Dark Arts. To her four friends she was fellow mischief maker but one day Bellatrix’s friends crossed the line…
Severus Snape was sitting in a dark corner of the common room. Bellatrix took a breath, forced a smile and walked up towards him.
“At the risk of sounding like your mother…you’re going to spoil your eyes if you read in the dark like that,” she said casually.
Snape shot her one of his famous cold stares and returned to his essay and the large textbook in front of him. After he scribbled a few notes and made no sign of speaking anytime soon, Bellatrix crossed her arms indignantly. She was trying to be nice…
“What’s got your wand in a knot, Snape?” asked Bellatrix.
Snape didn’t answer or acknowledge Bellatrix in any way.
“I heard about what happened at the Lake,” she said suddenly.
Snape put down his quill and glared at her. He didn’t start speaking.
“Well, I heard it would have been…really unpleasant for you if McGonagall hadn’t put an end to it,” Bellatrix continued.
Snape’s pallid face went scarlet.
“I already had to put up with Andromeda’s helpful hints about your demonic cousin, I don’t need to listen to you too,” snarled Snape. “I don’t trust your sisters, your depraved cousins or you for that matter.”
Bellatrix forced a grin.
“I’d be correct to say that Andromeda went on about settling differences and inter-house unity, right?”
“Quite correct,” said Snape. “Now if you’d excuse me-”
“What if I told you I knew a way for you to get back at Potter and the…Marauders?”
Snape pretended not to be interested but Bellatrix could tell he was thinking furiously, calculating.
“I’d ask you what you had in mind,” said Snape impassively.
“A duel,” said Bellatrix. “Nothing life threatening, of course.”
Snape’s face fell.
“You’re suggestion is a brilliant one except for one tiny, insignificant flaw,”
Snape looked suddenly very uncomfortable.
“As much as it grieves me to say this…” Snape trailed off and tried to find the words to continue. “Potter is more…experienced… at duelling than…me?”
Bellatrix raised her eyebrows.
“Wow, you actually admitted it…well, it’s not something the rest of the house didn’t work out long ago,” she said.
“Brilliant,” snarled Snape. “I do have a Potions essay I need to finish and-”
“Snape, I know you can finish that in about ten minutes. Just listen to me,” said Bellatrix, betraying a hint of impatience. “I have an idea.”
James, Lupin, Wormtail and Sirius were laughing with a gang of people behind them, listening to every word they uttered.
“Potter!” called Snape.
James turned around and almost doubled up with laughter. Snape actually looked like he wanted to speak with him. Lupin gazed at the Slytherin newcomer cautiously.
“What do you want, Snivellius?” sneered James.
“It’s Severus,” said Snape coldly. “I have a proposition for you.”
“What? You enjoyed showing your dacks to the school and want me to do it again? Well, if you insist…”
The muscles in Snape’s mouth twitched but he replied with his usual composure.
“A duel,” said Snape over the laughter of the crowd behind James.
“A duel? Are you serious Snape? I can beat you, blindfolded.”
“Well, this time you won’t have your little friends out to help you,” said Snape with a faint sneer. “Think you can handle that, Potter?”
James put on his usual arrogant smirk and glanced at Lily. She who was sitting opposite them with a group of friends She rolled her eyes in an obvious manner when she caught James’ gaze.
“Of course! Who’s your second?” asked James. “Moaning Mrytle?”
There was another roar of laughter from the crowd behind James but, to Sirius’ astonishment, Snape smiled. It looked out of practise and rather nasty but it was a smile none the less.
“Bellatrix,” he said with his horrible smile.
It took a while for the Marauders to gather what Snape had said. James laughed in disbelief. The crowd behind them had gone silent. Sirius however, didn’t find humour in the situation.
“Bella?” snarled Sirius. “Snape, she would never help a greasy git like you.”
“What makes you say that?”
Bellatrix pushed her way through the crowd and face the four dumbstruck marauders.
“What’s the matter, guys?” asked Bellatrix in an annoying baby voice. “Don’t want to take on a girl?”
“A seventh year girl who just happens to be my cousin!” cried Sirius. “Why him, Bella?”
“Sirius, we’ve duelled heaps of times,” said Bellatrix. “I don’t see a problem.”
“But…” Sirius trailed off, unable to think of a good excuse.
Christmas had come early for Snape. The Marauders couldn’t refuse at the risk of looking like cowards.
“Who’s your second, Potter?” asked Bellatrix.
James looked at Sirius.
“What do you say, mate?” he asked Sirius.
Sirius looked very much like he would like to protest but his reputation was at stake.
“Yeah,” he said casually.
The day of the duel dawned quicker than any of the four could have expected. Bellatrix got up early and headed towards the great hall to put her plan into action. Snape, who was looking a lot more pallid than usual, caught up with Bellatrix as she entered the hall. James and Sirius followed him. Snape shot them a cold stare over his shoulder which they returned but, other than that, there was no real argument. Bellatrix had put in action a miracle. There was peace in the hall for the first time in almost five years.
“Have you found a venue for the duel?” asked Snape.
“Sure,” said Bellatrix. “I booked the hall. Professor McGonagall loves duels-”
“You told McGonagall?” cried Snape, James and Sirius simultaneously.
“What’s wrong with that?” asked Bellatrix innocently.
The Gryffindors and the Slytherin glared at the seventh year in disbelief.
“I never took you for an idiot, Bellatrix,” said Snape. “What in Slytherin’s name possessed you to tell-”
“Is there a problem Mr. Snape?” asked a very familiar voice behind them.
The three of them turned around quickly. Minerva McGonagall had a very broad grin on her face.
“You’ll be supervising the duel, Professor?” asked Bellatrix, smirking.
“I’ll be making sure that you don’t kill each other,” said McGonagall dryly. “I imagine that it will take a lot of effort on my part.”
McGonagall smiled at Bellatrix and left. McGonagall had always been rather fond of Bellatrix despite the fact she was in Slytherin. She often supervised the detentions of the five marauders. Bellatrix gestured for Snape to follow her.
“Now, if you would excuse us, Severus and I need to discuss our strategy.”
With that, Bellatrix and Snape left James and Sirius to practice in the hall.
Regulus found his brother alone outside the Hall. James had gone looking for Lily and had not returned yet since Lily tended to avoid him.
“Hey Sir,” said Regulus. “You ready?”
Sirius, who had his head buried in his hands, looked up and surveyed his brother.
“Reggie, you know what happens every time Bellatrix duels me,” said Sirius.
“She canes you and you live out the next few days in disgrace,” smirked Regulus.
Sirius glared at his younger brother.
“She puts up a very good fight,” said Sirius through clenched teeth.
“Don’t worry Sir,” said Regulus. “I observed that when Bellatrix duels she keeps her right side defenses a tad low because she’s left handed.”
“Since when did you get so good at dueling?” laughed Sirius.
“I read, big brother,” answered Regulus. “Books.”
“Why are you taking my side over Bellatrix’s?”
“You’re my brother,” said Regulus simply. “You may be my ugly, Gryffindor, stupid brother who is about to get his face rearranged even more by a seventh year but…you’re my brother.”
“Aww…” said Sirius with a mocking grin. “Well, you may be my ugly, Slytherin, dorky brother who needs to get a life but… I still wuv you.”
“Don’t you dare get all mushy on me,” said Regulus with a grin. “We Slytherin’s despise mushiness.”
Before Regulus could stop him, Sirius could him in a headlock and ruffled his hair up.
“Cut…it…out…” groaned Regulus.
“Gladly,” said Sirius, releasing poor Regulus. “Now you look like James!”
Regulus determinedly started to flatten his hair.
“Git!” he snapped.
Bellatrix and Snape headed into the Great Hall. A large group of students had already assembled. It was not everyday you could watch James slaughter Snape without the teachers interrupting.
“Stay here Snape,” said Bellatrix. “I’ll talk to Lily.”
“Do we have to involve her?” said Snape. “I did offend her and-”
“Don’t be such a coward,” snarled Bellatrix.
Snape turned scarlet with anger as Bellatrix walked towards two girls who had just walked into the hall. Bellatrix hesitated. Lily was a muggle-born. After the incident in the alley, Bellatrix trusted the muggles a lot less far than she could throw them. She even talked to Remus, who was a half-blood, a lot less than the other Marauders. Lily seemed kind, (James certainly thought so) but Bellatrix never talked to her and could not bring herself to trust her. She shook herself. She was scared of a fifth year mudblood for Slytherin’s sake.
“Lily!” whispered Bellatrix.
The two girls turned around. The shorter of the two had flaming red hair and bright green eyes. She was the Gryffindor girl who put the Slytherins to shame when it came to Potion making, Lily Evans. The second girl, Priti Patil, had dark hair and eyes. She, unlike Lily, was following her house tradition and giving Bellatrix the greasiest of all greasies.
“Oh, hello Priti,” said Bellatrix.
“Bellatrix,” said Priti curtly.
Lily gave her friend a stern glance and smiled at Bellatrix. It was admittedly a little forced.
“I was wondering if you could do me a favour-” began Bellatrix.
Priti didn’t trust the Slytherins nearly as much as Lily did so she cut Bellatrix off.
“To help the mudblood hater?” she snarled.
“Er…if you’re referring to Severus…yes,” murmured Bellatrix.
Lily cast a sly glance at Priti who cast a deceptively civil smile at a very nervous looking Snape.
“On one condition,” said Lily, loudly enough for Snape to hear. “Severus should ask me himself.”
Snape turned scarlet again as Bellatrix motioned for him to come over. She left with a small smirk on her face. Things were definitely going to plan. Priti and Lily crossed their arms simultaneously and waited for a response. Snape fidgeted for a moment and then he began to speak. His voice was far from his usual cold sneer. He sounded more like Wormtail now.
“Did you just call her evil?” snapped Priti suddenly. “Because if you did I’m going to hex your lousy Slytherin backside back into the slimeball were you came from!”
Bellatrix, who was listening to the conversation, slapped her forehead in exasperation. Snape was looking more and more awkward. That certainly didn’t occur everyday.
“No, I started to call you Evans but changed half-way to Lily-”
“Not mudblood today?” said Lily coldly.
Snape took a breath and tried not to notice Priti who was looking daggers at him.
“Lily, I’m sorry I called you a mudblood,” said Snape. “It was rather rude of me and you didn’t deserve it.”
“Apology accepted. (Priti glared at Lily but she ignored her) Now what do you want me to do?”
Snape let out the breath he didn’t realize he was holding.
“Nothing much. Just sit right there.”
Lily and Priti waved to James as he entered the hall. They were seated right behind James, near the back and almost out of sight, but James found them and waved back. Bellatrix smiled triumphantly and exchanged a glance with Snape. She just hoped that he would remember the plan. McGonagall addressed the students before they could begin. A crude dueling platform had been draw onto the floor with chalk.
“The rules of this duel are simple,” said McGonagall. “No Dark Arts. To win, knock you opponent over the chalk line, knock the wand out of their hands or keep the levitated for five seconds. You may begin.”
The four students nodded. Bellatrix gave Snape a reassuring smile that he returned with a scowl. Snape and James were about to begin dueling when McGonagall stopped them.
“Bow,” she said sternly.
Snape and James nodded their heads at each other. McGonagall was not impressed.
“I said bow,” snarled McGonagall. “This is an ancient sport and I will not have you disrespecting each other!”
The two students fought the urge to roll their eyes as they lowered their backs a fraction more.
“That’s better,” said McGonagall. “Now you may begin.”
They assumed duelling stance.
“One, two…” said McGonagall. “THREE!”
James sent a powerful hex at Snape but he blocked it. Snape began blocking everything that James could throw at him. Desperate to hit Snape with something, James tried hitting Snape with weaker jinxes more rapidly. One particularly weak jinx soared towards Snape and, to everyone’s astonishment, Snape seemed to let the jinx hit him. The jinx knocked Snape of his feet and he landed in a heap right next to the line. Just as Bellatrix predicted, the moment Snape had been jinxed, James looked around for Lily. She was, of course, behind him so he had to turn around. The moment he did, he found his wand on the floor and his robes over his face. Snape had hit James with a levicorpus jinx. He had done it perfectly since he was the one who made up the spell in the first place.
“Nice boxers, Potter,” said Lily, her tone unfathomable.
James didn’t now if he should be incredibly embarrassed or incredibly pleased. McGonagall, who was fighting the urge to laugh, stopped the duel and preformed the counter curse on James. James got to his feet quickly.
“This round is over, Severus has won,” said McGonagall.
Snape had the most triumphant sneer imaginable on his face. James gapped at McGonagall.
“Are you saying that I lost?”
“Yes,” said McGonagall brightly. “You might get a second chance if Sirius beats Bellatrix. Now shake hands.”
Snape and James looked at each other for a few seconds and shock hands. They let go rather quickly. Sirius looked at Bellatrix who cleaning her wand on her robes looking utterly calm. Sirius was quite the opposite.
The duel had been going on for an hour. Everyone was bored. Andromeda’s head was dropping suddenly, Narcissa was staring at a bird near the window and Regulus was levitating his hat with his wand. Priti and Lily were looking at Lily’s Potions Textbook. Even McGonagall had to stifle a yawn. Sirius sent yet another leg locker curse at Bellatrix. She barely parried it almost fell forward.
“Come on Bella,” sneered Sirius. “Is that all you’ve got?”
“Not quite,” she sneered back.
Bellatrix dodged Sirius’ body-bind curse and shouted. “Expelliarmus!”
The jet of red light hit Sirius directly in the chest and he was blasted backwards. He landed in a heap behind the large tapestry depicting Wendelin the Weird and out of sight. Andromeda, Narcissa and Regulus simultaneously winced as a sickening crunch rang throughout the air. Bellatrix gave a cry and went to help her cousin from behind the tapestry. To her amazement, he wasn’t there.
Without a warning, Sirius jumped in front of Bellatrix from behind one of Hogwarts’ many invisible doors and shouted “Boo!”
Bellatrix cried out in alarm and jumped back. Sirius was laughing uncontrollably. Snape, on the other hand, didn’t look impressed. McGonagall murmured something about Bellatrix winning and left.
“Very funny, Sir,” said Bellatrix through her own laughter and gasping. “Bloody Marauder…”
“You’re one too, remember?” retorted Sirius, so no one else could hear.
“That’s right, Padfoot. Just draw attention away from the fact you were beaten by a girl,” said James from behind them.
“Oh shut up Mister Snape-kicked-my-behind-because-I-was-too-busy-staring-at-Evans!” snarled Sirius.
Lily snorted. Snape couldn’t help it. He grinned too.
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