Warnings: Mention of a number of murders.
Characters: Bellatrix, Narcissa, Draco.
Time: June, 1996.
Disclaimer: Ms. Rowling owns all recognisable characters and plot-points. This is being done for pleasure, not profit.
The Potter brat does look a lot like his father. She realises now why Lucius came home white and shaking, the day the Dark Lord was reborn. Must be hard, pretending to hate someone who looks so much like family... has tired her out, the encounter with him. Of course, that is hardly the greatest of her worries... Draco has changed since being ordered to kill Dumbledore, keeps slipping off, won’t tell her his plans. He isn’t going to be overly co-operative with Severus either, she knows full well. At least, Severus will help him; will have to. That had been repugnant; crawling to Severus, begging for her son’s life, kissing his hands... Lucius will despise the deed and hate the circumstances that necessitated it. If only Lucius had been here, she sighs, if Draco was like Lucius... but she feels sometimes that Draco has inherited only his father’s looks, not the ice that flows through Lucius’ veins. He is too secretive, but at the same time not confident about his abilities. Determined to prove he is not still a child, but too young to know that the secret of success was to reveal part, not conceal all.
Of course, Bellatrix does not help. Since coming here, she has talked incessantly, constantly, about the greatness of the Dark Lord as though she has forgotten why they joined him, forgotten all their plans, lost sight of their purpose. They have affected Draco, these intoxicating tales, specially now, when he needs to be told that his labours will end in victory. Even now, she thinks grimly, youth gone, beauty ravaged, face sunken, eyes hollow, voice hoarse, even now, Bellatrix can enchant as surely as she did fifteen years ago. She remembers other boys, blonde and black heads bent low, listening to her bewitching voice beckoning them to certain destruction. No, that decides it. Regulus died. Barty landed in Azkaban. Her darling boy will not share their fate.
It is almost as if she has walked back into time, not into Lucius’ study. The slight, blonde figure on the floor may easily be Barty Crouch; Bella, looming over him, looks, in this light at least, like she did all those years ago.
“Never give your opponent a chance to surprise you,” she screeches. “You’ll die.”
“Never assume your enemy’s dead until you’ve seen him buried,” she counters from the doorway; Draco looks up, still terribly vulnerable. “And not always even then.”
“Cissa, you remember! You remember our lessons?” This is too strange, too much like the past, all last year has felt like flashes from before all hell broke loose.
“I also remember that it is time Draco had some lunch.” He stares at her rebelliously, but she smiles back serenely. “Draco, you cannot kill him immediately and I dare say Aunt Bella has tired you out enough for the time being. Now go eat.”
Draco walks out, a bit too unwillingly. Bellatrix looks at him, a strange hunger in her face. No, far too much like their life before. She will not let Bella ruin her last chance of a good life. She crosses to the couch with great deliberation, knowing that Bella will watch her move, will look away from her son.
“Stay away from him”, she says, voice determinedly steady, form a shaft of whiteness against the black velvet of the sofa.
“Stay away from my child, Bellatrix.” Her voice is louder now, somehow sharper.
“He’s my nephew, Cissa. I hardly saw him grow up.” Her voice is barely sane as she continues. “And now, he has a chance to be great, to serve the Dark Lord.”
“For love of Circe, Bella, let Severus help him. Don’t ruin this chance.”
“Snape is a low half-blood. He does not wish to help your son.”
“I don’t care,” she says through clenched teeth, “whether he wishes to help Draco or not. He must help Draco, I made sure of it. Besides, Severus cares for him.” Bellatrix looks at her, narrowed eyes gleaming. “If you even think that, I’ll slit your throat, sister or not.”
“You went to him on your knees, Cissa, you begged him. You, a Black! How could you? He’s filth, he’s slime, his father was a Muggle!”
“So was Tom Riddle’s!” she hisses, eyes cold fire. “You don’t seem to have any problem serving him, sister. Why doubt Severus?”
“Because he has never given any of us any reason to trust him. He has changed sides so many times I doubt he knows who he is supporting! And you trust him rather than me? Draco is my blood and...”
“So was Sirius.” It is a whisper but contains all the violence of a scream, barely shielded. “So was Sirius, Bella, and you killed him.”
“Sirius was a blood traitor. He was a Muggle-lover.” You’re confusing the two, sister dear, she thinks. “I did my duty by killing him.”
“He was the last of the Blacks.” Her voice is full of quiet despair, reflected in her sister’s dead eyes. “The last of our blood. And now, it’s over. They’re all dead.”
“Cissa?” Bellatrix has come to her side, kneeling by the couch, one claw-like hand touching her cheek. “I won’t harm Draco. I’ll train him to be a good duellist. You’ll see, he will be greatly rewarded by the Dark Lord for killing Dumbledore?”
“Are you quite mad? He’s sixteen, Bella, he can’t kill anyone. He certainly cannot kill Dumbledore. My son is going to die.”
“If I had sons,” and now she is the fervent acolyte, “I would be honoured to give them up for the Dark Lord’s cause.”
“Well, you’ll just have to be satisfied with everyone you’ve already sacrificed, won’t you?” For fifteen years, she has convinced herself that it was merely a series of coincidences, but now, as it seems about to repeat itself, that is difficult to believe.
Bellatrix stares at her. “I already told you that Sirius had to be killed.”
“What about James? What about Frank? Regulus? Barty? You killed all of them. All of our men. Even my husband.” She shudders, turns a pitiless eye on the bowed black head. “Must you destroy my son as well?”
“Lucius landed in Azkaban through his own stupidity.”
“Because you were reckless enough to allow the brats a chance to escape in the first place.”
“Barty was attacked by a Dementor...”
“You dragged him in. You took him to the Longbottoms.”
“Frank refused to tell me what had happened to...to my Lord.” Terrible, hearing that voice enumerate her victims, all too young, too precious to have died. “Regulus had to be executed. He tried to withdraw...”
“Of course he did. He was a child. He was nineteen. He only joined because you...” She realises that her voice has risen to a crescendo and brings it down with an effort. “What reason are you going to give for ruining James? For helping Severus pass on his information?”
James had been, if she is to be honest, the only one among them without flaws that would have pulled him down in the end. Not power-lust, not servility, not childishly innocent blind-faith, not cowardice, not even Sirius’ half-hidden preternatural blood lust. It is his loss that has rankled worst, his son that is to shape their future. Severus’ reasons she can understand but she needs to know what miserable stupidity prompted Bella to aid his ruin.
“I did nothing to precious Jamie.” Bella is smiling, eyes afire with lunacy, but not the fervent insanity of a crusader, something else. “Darling, darling James. Perfect, perfect boy. Sirius loved him so. How could I possibly have hurt Jamie?”
“Oh Merlin. That’s why you killed him?” She cannot believe this reckless, needless killing of their own blood. “I thought you loved him. He was your protégé, your pet. Our heir.”
Bellatrix says nothing for a long time, stays still while she gets up, walks to the door.
“He had to be killed,” she says in a dull monotone. “He was dishonouring our good name. He had to die.”
She turns, retort on the tip of her tongue but cannot say it. Bella has sunk in a heap on the couch; scarlet robes like the blood she has drawn from them.
- Current Mood: hopeful