The Sugar Quill
Author: Hazelle (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Honor Exalted  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

It was a typical busy day at King©ˆs Cross Station; the walkways were packed with Muggles, determinately pushing their way t

A/N: If I’ve done this right, this fic should be a bit easier to read than before. One can only hope, right? Beta credits go to sveltskye of course. Enjoy!

 

Honor Exalted

By Hazelle

 

It was a typical busy day at King’s Cross Station; the walkways were packed with Muggles, determinately pushing their way through the crowd to reach their destinations. They hustled and bustled about, pushing carts and hauling brief cases, the voice on the loudspeaker  booming the times and the platforms of the various departing trains. So ignorant. So primitive. Vile creatures, Bellatrix Black thought hotly, sidestepping to avoid brushing shoulders with a harassed Muggle man who was rushing past her. She was very aware of two scruffy, barbaric looking Muggle boys eyeing her. Bellatrix did not trouble herself to glare at them; she had seen that look often, from Muggle and Wizard alike. The glossy, ink-black hair that fell past her shoulders, and the tall, thin figure Bellatrix was graced with often drew stares- longing ones from men and jealous ones from women. Her face turned heads, to be sure, but Bellatrix could glare milk into butter, and took pride in that more then anything.

 

Without sparing a glance at any of the Muggles surging past her like a herd of animals, Bellatrix continued to push her cart in procession after her family. Mr. Black led the way, pushing Narcissa’s cart at a hearty pace, letting bystanders leap out of his way or risk having their heels clipped by his wheels. Mrs. Black kept close to her husband as she walked, a haughty but slightly anxious bounce in her step, dragging along little Narcissa, who was to be a first year at Hogwarts. Andromeda, a fourth year, was just behind her mother and pushing her own cart, looking around at the Muggles that filled the station with mild interest. Bellatrix gave her a stern, disapproving look that Andromeda couldn’t see, but Bellatrix knew how she would have responded: a roll of the eyes, and a derisive snort. The middle Black girl did not take the family heritage as seriously as she should have.

 

 After what had seemed like an endless walk through the station, the Blacks came to a halt by the barrier that led onto platform nine and three-quarters. They circled around it, and Mrs. Black went through first, still holding Narcissa’s hand. Andromeda followed suit, pushing her cart along at a slight run, copper hair flying behind her. When her father gestured her to the barrier, Bellatrix lined up her cart ceremoniously, and broke into a jog until she had passed through the solid barrier leading onto the well hidden platform. The Hogwarts Express was gleaming crimson in the late morning sunlight, a welcome sight to Bellatrix’s Muggle-weary eyes. Parents hugged their children goodbye, owls hooted and squawked irritably from cages, and trunks scraped along the ground toward the school train. Students, some of them already in their school robes, were shouting to each other over all of the noise, eager to discuss their summers.

 

“Come, Bella, there’s no need to stand here looking so detached,” came her father’s voice as he pushed Narcissa’s cart past. “Look, your aunt and uncle are here, it seems your mother has already found them.”

 

Bellatrix forced a smile, and nodded in acknowledgement to her relatives who were just up ahead chatting with her mother. Her father was constantly using Bellatrix in social situations as an example of what an exemplary family he had, and while Bellatrix was more than delighted to demonstrate her good breeding, she didn’t feel the need to prove anything to boring relatives. “I think I’ll just reserve a compartment, father. They fill up quickly. “ Without waiting for him to insist she greet his brother and sister-in-law, Bellatrix strode toward an open door to the train, and began to haul her trunk aboard.

 

”Hello, Trixie, love,” came the deep, unctuous voice of Rodolphus Lestrange, as he lifted her trunk easily into the air. “Allow me.”

 

This time, Bellatrix turned on her damning glare. “Do not call me Trixie, you slug. What are you, an ickle firsty with a speech impediment?”

 

Rodolphus froze, the trunk still in his hands, the sheepish grin on his face melting as Bellatrix glowered at him. She saw the worried fear behind his eyes, fear that she was angry or in a bad mood again. “Well, go on then, you don’t have to stand round with my luggage in your arms all day,” she said, switching easily into smooth, commanding tones, and adopting a pouting smirk.

   

Rodolphus grinned, and carried her trunk aboard the train. “I’ve got a compartment already,” he informed her triumphantly.

   

Bellatrix nodded, then turned back to the busy platform to find her sister Andromeda hurrying toward her with Rodolphus’ younger brother, Rabastan, at her heel. Knowing Andromeda’s interest in the Muggles on the way in, Bellatrix was pleased to see the discomfort on her sister’s face at being tailed by a very overbearing and talkative Rabastan. It serves her right, the little ingrate, Bellatrix thought. It might even do her good to spend time with Rabastan. Set her priorities straight. . . The thought trailed off as Andromeda approached, clearly uphappy about being Rabastan’s new point of interest.

   

”I can handle my stuff fine on my own, thanks,” Andromeda said, her voice steady despite her nervousness.

   

”I’ve got it under control, Miss Black,” Rabastan replied in a falsely respectful voice, bowing to her with much flourishing of his hand.

   

Bellatrix snorted, watching her sister turn bright red. “Really, he has,” she said, hardly trying to stifle her laughter as Andromeda turned a nasty look on her. “I’m going to go take a seat before mum and dad dump Narcissa on me. Come on, Rabastan,” Bellatrix added, grabbing him by the front of his robes and pulling him up the train steps, leaving Andromeda to manage her trunk on her own.

  

”Really, Rabastan. She is in Ravenclaw, you know. I think you can do better then that.” She released his robes, and made her way down the small corridor, peeking in windows to check for Rodolphus and the rest of their group. It didn’t take long; halfway down the train, Rodolphus emerged from a door way, and beckoned Bellatrix and Rabastan inside. Antonin Dolohov was pulling his robes over his head, and Julius Jugson, a classmate of Rabastan’s, was already seated and reading the Daily Prophet. Horace Goyle looked up upon their entrance, his perpetually glazed eyes making it hard to tell if he really noticed much they were there; if truth be told, he looked like that so often that Bellatrix had stopped wondering if there was actually anything going on behind those eyes. And of course, there was Lucius Malfoy, a fifth year, who was never far from his older friends, and Severus Snape, a fourth year, who was never far from Lucius.

   

Just as the train began to move, Bellatrix pulled on her robes with the green and silver emblem of Slytherin of which she was so proud. She threw herself into a seat, and stared around at her companions. Here we go again, she thought, a wide smile splitting across her face.

 

*

 

          The Hogwarts Express passed fields and rivers, which eventually gave way to foresty mountain scenery. The boys chatted about their summer holidays, trips they’d taken with family, Quidditch, and the like. Bellatrix listened with half her attention only, sparing a laugh here and there, always slipping back into her reverie. She thought about Narcissa, small, delicate and quite unused to being away from their mother. Bellatrix knew that her parents would expect her to keep close attention to Narcissa, who they were sure would follow the family tradition of becoming a Slytherin, and would not hear anything else. In the spirit of being contradictory, Bellatrix had pointed out that the “tradition” of being in Slytherin had faded lately. Andromeda had become a Ravenclaw, which hadn’t been heard of in many generations. The same year, a cousin on their father’s side, Sirius Black, had been made a Gryffindor, which had never been heard of in all the history of the ancient house of the Black family. Bellatrix was not worried that Narcissa would be sorted anywhere except Slytherin, but she enjoyed causing worry and strife anyway. Whatever her feelings about having to be her youngest sister’s overseer, Bellatrix wouldn’t have had it any other way. Being put in a house besides Slytherin would mean that Narcissa would have to mix with. . . the others. With Mudbloods, half-bloods, and blood traitors. She saw the affect that those sorts had had on Andromeda in just three years, and Bellatrix refused, flat-out, to have her family name be associated with a whole generation of Blacks that had no sense of pride or propriety. It was on this thought that Bellatrix was pulled out of her trance.

   

”Father reckons it’ll be a new political movement soon, and Voldemort will run for office or something,” Lucius Malfoy was saying in his lazy, drawling voice. “He thinks that it’s about time someone did something about the lack of respect for pure bloods. Why they even let the other kinds come to school to begin with is a mystery to me.”

   

”My parents have talked about him as well,” said Julius Jugson, and Bellatrix remembered vaguely that his father had worked in the Ministry. “Father doesn’t think the limitations need to be so harsh, but he doesn’t much like Mudbloods in Ministry jobs. They just don’t know what it’s like.”

   

”Our father says it’s time someone stood up to dirty-bloods,” Rodolphus added. “There’s too many of them, they’re going to take over if we don’t.”

   

Bellatrix surveyed the others, unmoving, legs crossed out in front of her, her head resting against the cold window. Something about that name seemed familiar, and she tried to recall any mention of him. Voldemort. Yes, yes, her uncle, Sirius’ father, had been over one night, and they had been talking about politics, and they had agreed that Purism was on it’s way to becoming a political party, thanks to this Voldemort. The name sent an excited shiver up Bellatrix’s spine.

  

She remained silent all through the remainder of the train ride, focusing on her face in the window, and on the black landscape rushing past. Finally, the train slowed, and Hogsmeade Station rolled into view. Bellatrix was left staring at her own moody and dark reflection, her deep blue eyes reflecting black as the night in the darkened glass.

   

”Going to sit there all night?” Rodolphus asked, furling his heavy cloak around himself. He tossed her cloak at her, and Bellatrix caught it in one hand. She rose slowly and gracefully from her seat like a cat stretching after a nap, and wrapped herself into her cloak before following Rodolphus and the others from the compartment and out into the chilly night air that blew through the open doors.

 

*   

 

Windblown students poured into the Great Hall for the feast, removing scarves and gloves and seating themselves at the four house tables. Bellatrix made her way to the Slytherin table, and sat next to her fellow 6th year girls who were already gossiping about this and that, making fun of so-and-so’s new hair cut and giggling loudly. She’d hardly situated herself before the voices filling the Hall quieted and fell silent. Turning, she could see the line of first years making their way up to the front with Professor McGonagall, most of them looking green and extremely nervous, some venturing looks at the star strewn ceiling and taking in the vastness of the student body watching them. Narcissa  trotted along, looking very unconcerned, but Bellatrix could see her balled fists.

   

The hat sang it’s song, but Bellatrix payed it no mind. Instead she stared at the ceiling, then at her reflection in the empty plate in front of her, willing it to be full of food.  As the sorting began, Bellatrix looked up to see the first years in various states of unease and fright each come forward to place the Sorting Hat on their heads, then leap off the stool and hurry to their new house tables. The second student to be sorted was made a confused looking Gryffindor, and she watched the boy hurry off to his table where he was being raucously applauded by her cousin and his friends, among others. Bellatrix wrinkled her nose. Definately a Mudblood, she thought viciously. Definately unworthy of being here.

   

”Black, Narcissa,” Professor McGonagall called out, and Bellatrix watched her sister scurry forward and set the hat delicately on her head. The hat didn’t take long before it shouted, “SLYTHERIN!” but it took long enough to make Bellatrix wonder what there was to consider. Her own sorting had not even required her to pull the hat all the way over her ears before it declared her a Slytherin.

   

Narcissa hurried to the table, and sat down, an infinately happy look gracing her pretty face. Lucius Malfoy shook her hand from across the table and the rest of the Slytherin’s applauded loudly, some clapping her on the back. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Sirius’ obnoxious friends making faces, Sirius himself looking moody and discontent. Bellatrix ignored the Gryffindor boos, and clapped loudly as the boy after Narcissa was also made a Slytherin.

   

Finally, the last first year took her seat at the Hufflepuff table, and food in abundance materialized on the dishes in front of them. Bellatrix grabbed both the chicken drumsticks before anyone else could get to them, and piled boiled potatos high on her plate. If truth be told, she wasn’t that hungry, but if her appetite proved to be bigger later than it was now, at least she had a mound of food. In the meantime, Bellatrix chased a potato around her plate with her fork, stabbing it every now and then until it was disfigured with tiny holes.

   

”Bellatrix! How were your holidays? Goodness, I haven’t seen you in ages!” Paulette Pritchard squealed, causing Bellatrix to poke the potato so hard it flew off her plate. “Are you dieting as well? You haven’t touched a thing!” Paulette had turned from her other gossiping friend, Lucy Meliflua, and was talking as fast as ever.

   

”No, of course I’m not dieting,” Bellatrix said scournfully. “Why, do these robes make me look fat?”

   

Paulette threw back her head and laughed again. “Always so cynical! I love it.” She wrapped her arms around Bellatrix’s shoulders in a hug and said, “It’s good to have someone serious like you around to set everyone straight!”

   

”You are such a Hufflepuff, Paulette. Such a Hufflepuff,” Bellatrix replied, starting on a new potato. Paulette released her from the hug, and gave her a mean look.

   

”That’s harsh. I’m no washout Muggle-loving fool.” Paulette cast a disapproving glance toward the Hufflepuff table, her lips pursed. “Most their new lot are Muggle-borns.”

   

Bellatrix nodded gravely. The headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, had put no limitations on the students he admitted to Hogwarts. Her parents had long complained about his policies, and most of their friends and family agreed that Hogwarts had begun to go downhill since it had become less selective. Bellatrix turned her gaze toward Dumbledore, seated at the center of the staff table chatting with Professor McGonagall, who had just returned from removing the Sorting Hat. He was a powerful wizard, to be sure. Power like that could be better used for other causes, though. It seemed like such a waste.

   

Paulette had gone back to giggling with Lucy Meliflua, leaving Bellatrix to play with her meal in peace until Dumbledore gave the usual announcements, and sent them all off to bed. Bellatrix pushed her way to the front of the crowd, and walked slowly towards the dungeons and the Slytherin common room alone. She didn’t know the password yet, but it was no matter, Rodolphus would be along any minute with the first years, and, as a school prefect, was sure to know what it was. Sure enough, his thickset figure appeared around the corner, followed by a small cluster of first years.

   

”Sang propre,” he said to the stone wall. The unseen door that was there slid aside, much to the amazement of the first years. “That’s the password, and you lot would do well to remember it, Œelse you’ll be stuck out here, because it’s a bloody nuisance letting you back in,” Rodolphus told them. “Now get!”

   

The first years shuffled through the door and into the common room beyond, whispering. Narcissa glanced between Rodolphus and Bellatrix and flashed her sister a mischeivious smile. Bellatrix cuffed her blonde head as she passed through the doorway. As the stone door began to slide closed again, Rodolphus caught it, and gestured Bellatrix through before him.

 

*

 

Over the next few months, Bellatrix was kept very busy. When she wasn’t being drowned in the sea of homework that was assigned to a good portion of the sixth years, Bellatrix was training hard on the Quidditch pitch. N.E.W.T.’s weren’t taken until seventh year, but the teachers seemed to be going all out with their assignments anyway. Bellatrix couldn’t even begin to fathom the level of insanity that was yet to be acheived by the professors the next year. Quidditch, while time and energy consuming, was the best way Bellatrix had yet found to release her stress. Her lithe build made her an excellent flyer, which was necessary when she could only use one hand to hold her broom; in her other hand was the Beater’s club she used to aim homicidal Bludgers toward the opposing team.

 

 It was as she walked back from Quidditch practice one night, soaked through from the torrential downpour of rain, that Bellatrix came upon a sight that put a damper on her recently stress-free evening. Andromeda, her copper hair unmistakable even at the distance, was talking to a boy that Bellatrix knew too well. His name was Theodore Tonks, a Gryffindor (which was bad in it’s own right) and a Muggle-born (which was completely unacceptable.) Their parents would not approve of such a friendship, and Bellatrix would not allow it at all. No respect for the family bloodline! she roared inwardly. None for herself, even! Bellatrix had played against Tonks in Quidditch, and even she had to admit that he had some talent, for a Mudblood, anyway. But skill and valour on the pitch by no means made it O.K. for Andromeda to associate with him! She marched toward them, broom in hand, knowing that she looked as dangerous as any chimaera.

   

Andromeda’s eyes widened as Bellatrix stalked toward her, glaring daggers at the back of Theodore Tonk’s head. He must have seen the startled look on Andromeda’s face, for he turned around just in time to see Bellatrix coming at him and drawing her wand as she went. Andromeda stepped in front of Tonks, her jaw set, and scowled right back at her quickly advancing sister.

   

”What do you want?” she asked through clenched teeth, not taking her eyes off Bellatrix’s wand.

   

”What do you think you’re doing? Hanging out with riffraff like him?” Bellatrix demanded, indicating Tonks, who was now looking defensive. Typical Gryffindor.

   

”This is Ted, Bellatrix. He isn’t riffraff, he’s my friend. I can have whichever friends I please.” Andromeda tried to push the wand out of her face, but Bellatrix only flicked it back up, using it to poke her sister in the chest as she spoke.

   

”He isn’t pureblood, you numbskull, you know Mum and Dad won’t have it! He isn’t even in Ravenclaw.” She gestured wildly with her wand as she spoke, and a small stream of green sparks flew over her head, making Andromeda flinch, and step backward into Ted Tonks, who now had his wand out as well. “He’s a bloody Gryffindor,” she growled.

   

”Look, you, just leave her alone, don’t hurt her!” Ted shouted, and Bellatrix turned her mad, ferocious eyes on him for the first time. “I won’t talk to her again, if you swear you won’t hurt her.”

   

Andromeda, looking shocked, turned to protest, but Bellatrix cut across her. “You won’t talk to her again, whether I hurt her or not. Leave.”

   

Ted gave her a hard, searching look, and walked away up the staircase. Andromeda, apparently dumbstruck, stared after him with her mouth slightly open. Then she turned and shouted, “I cannot BELIEVE you! Who do you think you are?!”

   

”I am a Black, and I know my place. You’d do well to remember yours,” Bellatrix answered in the coldest voice she could muster after so much raging and ranting. On that note, she left her sister standing alone in the hall. Bad feelings were now filling the rift that had grown between them over the years, but Bellatrix preferred those to a sister with Mudblood friends.

 

*

 

          ”Why isn’t Andromeda coming home for Christmas?” asked Narcissa one evening, as they sat in the common room working.

  

”I don’t know, and I don’t care to think why,” Bellatrix replied, not looking up from her Defense Against the Dark Arts essay.

   

”Mum is upset she’s not coming back.” Narcissa leaned forward a little in her chair, trying to catch Bellatrix’s eye. “Did they have a row again? About Andromeda’s friends?”

   

Bellatrix had been on the verge of not answering, but the “again” caught her attention.

   

”Where did you come up with something like that? She knows the importance of reputable, honorable friends from decent backgrounds, “ Bellatrix said, more fiercely then she had meant to. And I’ve had a word with her myself. . .

   

Narcissa looked quite unperturbed by Bellatrix’s rough tone, and said, “Only, last year Mum had a fit because Andromeda was friends with a Muggle-born. I remember it, she went into such a rage!” Narcissa paused, rising gently from her chair, and collecting her own books and rolls of parchment. “I was just thinking it was like that,” she added thoughtfully.

   

Bellatrix watched her sister retreat down the stairs to the girl’s dormitories. So something like this had happened last year, right under her nose? Mother hadn’t mentioned. Well, if that had been the response last year, she could imagine the reaction it had received when Bellatrix’s own owl had arrived with news of Andromeda’s further disobedience. Bellatrix could see why Andromeda chose to stay at Hogwarts during the winter holidays.

   

As she turned back to her essay, something small and flailing on the ground caught her eye. It was the cover of a folded up newspaper, The Daily Prophet. It featured a black and white photograph of a squat wizard with gray hair who was shaking hands with many people and waving at un unseen crowd. The headline read, “Reynold Plungit Jr.- New Minister of Magic!” Bellatrix had completely forgotten about the election for the Minister of Magic; politics had not been on her mind lately. Now, however, she furious with herself for not keeping up with that particular issue. Plungit’s opponent in the election had been a friend of her father’s, the head of the  Department of International Magical Cooperation at the Ministry of Magic. He was very well known, extremely wealthy, and came from a highly respected family. Bellatrix was shocked at the outcome of the election: Plungit was a Partial-born, meaning he had one wizard parent, and one Muggle, which was very uncommon. Partial-borns were almost as queer as Muggle-borns in many wizards’ eyes. Why would they elect him?

   

”I just don’t get it,” she muttered, cramming the paper back under the table.

   

”What don’t you get?” Rodolphus asked from behind her chair. She hadn’t noticed him enter the common room.

   

”Oh, just the stupid election.” Bellatrix groped under the table for the paper, and held it up over her head for Rodolphus to grab. He made a noise of disgust.

   

”That scum, running the government?” Rodolphus chucked the paper in a waste bin, and eased back into the chair Narcissa had occupied earlier. “What idiot voted for Plungit?”

   

Bellatrix shook her head. “That family used to be purebloods, Œtil old Reynold Senior married. Guess our dear new Minister put the Œgit’ in ŒPlungit,’ didn’t he?” She and Rodolphus laughed; there wasn’t much else to do.

 

*

 

Christmas was both a blessing and a curse when it came. To be away from school, work, and the stress that came with the two was truly wonderful. However, to be stuck at her aunt and uncle’s house in London was truly a drag.

   

”Right on time,” Aunt Pandora said, by way of a greeting, as Bellatrix stepped out of their kitchen fireplace, followed closely by the rest of her family members. “Always the punctual one, your father,” she added, looking at Bellatrix. “I can’t say the same for his brother. Earl is still getting dressed, I’m afraid, he’s no mind for timliness.”

   

”Not to worry, Pandora,” Bellatrix’s father said, stepping around his family to hug his sister-in-law. “Just so long as I get a nice mug of tea whilst we wait!”

   

Aunt Pandora smiled at him indulgently, and summoned to her a teapot from the stove, several mugs from a cabinet, and cream and sugar from the counter simulatneously. In no time, they were all sitting around the long table, her parents and Pandora talking, laughing, and carrying on as only adults could. Bellatrix sat slumped in her chair, absently fiddling with the tassles that hung from the emerald table cloth into her lap.

   

”And where is your other darling sister, Bellatrix?”

   

Bellatrix jumped, spilling her untouched tea all over the tablecloth. “Pardon?”

   

”Andromeda, dear, why hasn’t she come back from Hogwarts to visit?”

   

She could see her parents stiffen; Aunt Pandora had obviously not heard about Andromeda’s most recent attempts at befouling the family honor. With a swift glance at her mother, Bellatrix muttered, “She’s been having a bit of- of trouble, with, with um-”

   

”Trouble? Surely not! You are looking after her, aren’t you?” Aunt Pandora turned on her glittering, hostess’s smile, a questioning look in her eyes.

   

”Well, she is in Ravenclaw,” Bellatrix reminded with a smirk. “It’s rather hard to keep an eye on that lot.”

   

”Mm, Ravenclaw, was it? Why, I had forgotten!” Pandora turned back to her brother and sister in law, looking dubious. “I certainly hope she’s not had trouble making friends. There must be others she can mix with. She’s not lonely, is she Edwin?”

   

”Ah. . .” Bellatrix’s father was spared having to answer by the appearance of his brother in the kitchen doorway, still straightening the sleeves of his black velvet robes.

   

”Well look who’s here!” he called in his rich, booming voice, and shook his brother’s hand vigourously. “And Ariel!” He kissed Ariel Black on the hand. “Girls!” He inclined his head to Bellatrix and Narcissa, Bellatrix still slumped in her chair, unenthusiastic, Narcissa wearing a weak smile.

   

Her uncle made a pouting face, the sort one usually saved for whining five year olds. “Bored already are we? Well, hurry across the hall, then,” he began to shoo them out of the kitchen and into the dimly lit hallway, “I’ve got an excellent Wizard’s Chess set in the drawing room. You know where it is!” The door closed with a snap, and Bellatrix and Narcissa were left standing in the silent hallway.

   

”Well, I guess I’ll just hurry to the drawing room, then!” Bellatrix imitated in a  sarcasticly excited voice. Narcissa snorted. As she began to make her way toward the end of the hall, there was a shrill squeal, a loud FWUMP! and the sound of raucous laughter.

   

Bellatrix whirled around, wand in hand, to find Narcissa struggling to untangle herself from a sea of umbrellas that had spilled from the great umbrella stand that Bellatrix had once deemed was shaped like a troll’s leg. The laughter came from a boy that was sitting in the shadow of a carved armoire by the kitchen door, his wand still in the air suspending the hideous leg where it had seemingly tripped Narcissa. The leg fell to the ground as her cousin, Sirius, dropped his wand hand to the floor, still laughing uncontrollably.

   

Not bothering to help her sister up, she fixed Sirius with an angry sneer. In a baby voice, she said, “Funny! Always the wittle jokester, weren’t you?”

   

Narcissa finally got to her feet, her braided hair falling loose and her face crimson. She looked like she was on the verge of shouting something, but thought better of it, and stomped off to the drawing room, slamming the door.

   

”Oh, come on now!” Sirius called, still breathless from laughing. “Not everything hilarious is an insult to your grace and glory, ‘Ciss!”

   

”Grow up,” Bellatrix growled, using every ounce of self restraint she had to not curse her cousin to the moon and back. “A boy of your lineage should be more concerned with living up to his place in the world, not keeping in hidden places where he might trip his cousins,” she said scournfully.

   

Sirius only gave her a solemn, pitying look, one she’d seen Andromeda wear far too often when matters of their heritage and prestige were discussed. “Whatever you say,” Sirius said. With that, he got to his feet, and started up the stairs.

   

”Is there a problem out here, darling?” Aunt Pandora asked, poking her head out of the kitchen door.

   

”No. Just Sirius and his little jokes,” said Bellatrix in a bored voice.

   

”That boy has no respect for anything,” her aunt said hotly, inspecting the fallen umbrellas and their stand. “Would it hurt him to leave my possessions out of his pranks for a change?”

   

She screeched for the house elf to come put the umbrellas back, so Bellatrix decided to find Narcissa. The drawing room was very long, with a high ceiling, and was a bit colder then the rest of the house. At the far end, Narcissa was crouched, warming her hands on the small fire in the grate, and inspecting Uncle Earl’s collection of ancient artifacts and family heirlooms. Earl was very interested in the history of the Wizarding world and how the Black family was involved in it, and had spent years researching and collecting items that related to the two. As Bellatrix made her way down to the end, she inspected his book collection, scanning for new titles. Wizarding Heretics of Our Age and The Enchanter’s Encylcopedia of Eugenics were the only two Uncle Earl seemed to have acquired over the past year, so Bellatrix pulled them both from the shelves. She settled herself in a chair facing the tapestry depicting the family tree, and read until she was called to dinner.

   

”I can’t believe it, either!” Uncle Earl declared, pouring himself more wine. They’d finished eating dinner, and had settled back to dessert and talk of politics. It was customary for the children of the family to remain quiet during dinners, and it was like second nature to Bellatrix to remain completely silent at these times. One day, they will have some respect for my opinion, she thought, staring around the table, wishing it was that day.

   

”To elect somone like that, though!” her father said, his voice uncharacteristically loud. “Why don’t we just let all the Muggles in? They’ve admitted enough part-bloods, really, let’s just announce it to all the Muggles on Earth!”

         

All the adults laughed. Bellatrix slanted her eyes, nose wrinkled at the very thought of Muggles knowing about their world. She could just see it, Muggles, setting fire to everything they didn’t understand, and which was therefore evil. Muggles, plundering the shops of Diagon Alley, and emptying the vaults in Gringotts Banks the world over. Muggles, ransacking the village of Hogsmeade, banging down the doors of Hogwarts. Muggles, demanding solutions to their insignificant problems, always looking for a way out of doing work. It would be absolute chaos if Muggles really did find out about the Wizarding World. There were so many of them. As her mother had often said, Muggles breed like rabbits.

   

With a disgusted shudder, Bellatrix reached under her chair for The Enchanter’s Encyclopedia of Eugenics, and opened it up to her bookmarked page. She no longer had any interest in listening to her father’s theories about the current government problems.

   

”Ah, Bellatrix, are you reading that?” her aunt asked her. Bellatrix was suprised to be addressed at dinner, but replied that she was, in fact, reading the book. Obviously, she added silently, having decided it best not to be smart the first time an adult chose to converse with her at dinner.

   

”It’s good to see that at least one adolescent in this family is still interested in our heritage, and the importance of pure blood,” Aunt Pandora said, and Bellatrix saw her throw a sour look at her eldest son. “I was beginning to worry that this generation was going to be the end of the honor and hard-earned respect associated with the name of Black.”

   

”More like hardly-earned,’” someone muttered, and the table went completely silent as everyone turned to look at Sirius. He looked at his mother with a pained expression, and began pushing his pie crust around his plate with a silver fork.

         

”Do not speak like that, you thankless child,” Aunt Pandora hissed between clenched teeth. “You are a Black, and should be grateful of the status and good reputation that comes with that! Your brother is, and he is younger then you!”

   

”You are to contain your outbursts at this table, Sirius,” Uncle Earl said in a dangerously quiet voice. “Excuse yourself.”

   

A chair screeched backwards as Sirius stormed from the kitchen, angry stares following him.

   

Pandora leaned forward, massaging her head as Bellatrix’s mother patted her on the back. “He’s so difficult, you’ve no idea. I can’t believe he would be so disrespectful at the dinner table!” She straightened up, looking pointedly at Bellatrix. “You are so lucky, Ariel, to have avoided such disobedient children.”

   

”I’m very sorry you had to witness that,” Earl said, shaking his head in shame.

   

”It’s nothing we haven’t heard before,” her father said with a meaningful look at his brother. “Andromeda comes up with similar remarks, I’m sorry to say. It all started when she entered school, and that dratted Ravenclaw.”

   

The adults all exchanged dark looks, and Bellatrix watched, unsure whether she wanted to smirk at the idea of her parents complaining about Andromeda, or be worried about the idea that there was definately a pattern there.

   

”If Andromeda and Sirius had been in Slytherin, I’d warrant that this would not be a problem,” Ariel Black said, taking a sip from her goblet.

   

”If Dumbledore didn’t admit Mudbloods, it wouldn’t have mattered what houses they were in,” Aunt Pandora corrected. There was a murmur of agreement at these words, and the room regained it’s comfortable, talkative atmosphere, but Bellatrix was not at all comforted.

 

*

 

Exams seemed light-years closer from this side of Christmas, so Bellatrix busied herself with extra practicing, extra studying, and hollering extra loud at the smallest noises. As she constantly reminded herself, she hadn’t been accepted into eight N.E.W.T. level classes only to fail miserably her first year. She was at the top of her year (as Blacks often were,) and she fully intended to stay there.

  

 ”What is it, Rodolphus?” she asked wearily, as he lumbered to a halt by her chair, unable to even begin his sentence.

   

”Oh,” he said lamely, suprised at being cut off. “Well, I was wondering if you read this.” He flopped a paper down on the table, causing the pages of Bellatrix’s Arithmancy book to flutter wildly, and lose her page.

   

She glared at the paper momentarily before picking it up, and looked at a very small column on page 3 that Rodolphus had circled.

 

A Fresh Face in Politics?

 

Change is the sign of our times. You can see it everywhere, whether it be the latest racing broom, the newest style of robes, or the most recent developement in Quick n’ Simple house cleaning charms. Change is often regarded as progress; we can only hope that our change in Ministers will provoke progress and success for our community! -Bellatrix snorted, and raised an eyebrow at Rodolphus, but kept reading. Some among us, however, are unsure about the leadership we are now under. It is quite refreshing, therefore, to experience first-hand what some are calling Œthe latest trend in politics.’

 

This ‘trend’ is called Purism by some and Bigotry by others, but the movement’s leaders prefer the term Classicists. At a seminar in London this weekend, the head of the Classicists surfaced as a promising leader. Mr Voldemort, who prefers to be known plain and simple as Voldemort, has great potential to rise high in the world of modern day politics. While some of his goals do seem radical, it would be foolish to dismiss them as not at all practical. Mr Voldemort stresses the importance of Purebloods running the government, and urges that bans and restraints be put on all other blood types.

 

For more on the Classicists Movement, please stay tuned.

 

   

It was that name again. Voldemort. Bellatrix couldn’t explain it, but for some reason that name sparked a sort of urgent, strained feeling in her, as though she remembered him but couldn’t think of where or why. Everytime someone mentioned him, Bellatrix felt like she was forgetting something very important.

   

”Neat, huh?” Rodolphus said, jerking Bellatrix out of her daze. “My father went to that seminar. He says it was really good.”

   

Bellatrix nodded fervently, trying to shake the tingly feeling from her head. “Wish I’d gone,” she said. “I spent the whole week in London! Could’ve listened to something worth my time, rather than moaning relatives.”

   

Bitterness surged through her at the very thought of it, remembering her disrespectful cousin and her absent sister. I was right there, just as dedicated to the family line as them, and all they can say is ŒOh, good to know you’re interested,’ Bellatrix thought hotly. I’ll show them Œinterested.’

   

”He’s doing seminars all over Europe. Rallying support,” Rodolphus continued, not taking notice of Bellatrix’s pained face. “He’ll be back. Father says I can go with him to one of them. You can come if you like.”

   

”Yes, I’d love to,” Bellatrix answered briskly, not even having to consider the matter. “When is the next one?”

   

Rodolphus considered. “Not sure. . . But we probably won’t be able to go until the summer. Can’t miss school.”

   

”Right,” she muttered, slightly crestfallen. Trust school to spoil things.

 

*

   

Winter gave way to spring, and Bellatrix was as ambitious as ever in her activities. Some would have called her determination to acheive the highest scores on the exams as borderline obsessive; she spent every last second of her free time buried under mountains of books and notes, studying, memorizing, and practicing. Still, the general obsession over Quidditch was one to rival Bellatrix’s studying fix. As the House Cup drew near, Michael Flint, the Slytherin Quidditch captain, had scheduled two hour practices, five days a week. Bellatrix had ranted about not having time to study, but had shown up at the practices anyway. Slytherin hadn’t won the cup in four years, and Gryffindor being the defending champion was just salt in the wound.

Besides working and training, Bellatrix followed the rise of the Purism movement as closely as she could.

   

”They’re all such small groups that he speaks to,” she commented one afternoon, as she and Rodolphus sat under the shade of a tree by the lake.

   

”Hm?” Rodolphus had been watching as Lucius and Antonin bullied a group of second year Hufflepuff’s, possibly considering going over to tell them off (as was his prefect’s duty.)

   

Bellatrix rolled her eyes at him, and exhaled loudly. “Voldemort. He doesn’t speak to very large groups. Lots of people are interested in hearing his lectures, but he never goes anywhere big.” She waited for Rodolphus to react. “I’ve been reading about it in the paper,” she explained, giving him a disgusted look. “Don’t you ever read the news?”

   

Rodolphus shrugged, and avoided her mild glare. “If it’s something important, you always tell me,” he said sheepishly, giving her a weak smile.

   

”How did you become a prefect, anyway?” she demanded, shaking her head. “I must say that I don’t envy you, though. All those rules,” she said with a watery look, and flipped her hair.

   

”Anyways, back to Voldemort,” Rodolphus replied, grinning slyly. “What were you saying, love?”

   

”Oh, nothing.” She was overcome again with that crawling in her stomach she always got when she heard the name Voldemort. She wanted so badly to see this man, this spokesperson for the Classicists. “I want to go to his seminar next weekend.”

   

Rodolphus looked at her through his small, dark eyes, a skeptical look on his face. “How would you do that? If you don’t mind my asking.”

   

”Well. . .” Bellatrix trailed off. She wanted to go listen to the seminar, certainly, but she hadn’t considered actually trying to get there. School wasn’t out for another three weeks, but she wasn’t sure when Voldemort would be coming back to Britain next. He might not return for months, and Bellatrix could not wait months, but if she snuck out and was caught. . . .

   

”I know,” Rodolphus said thoughtfully. “I’ll write father. He’s probably going. I could get him to bring a servant to take notes for you. How’s that?”

   

It was as though he were trying to talk a spoiled child into something. “I don’t want notes, Rodolphus. I want to hear it for myself,” she grumbled. Just saying it seemed to make her want it even more. “I’m going to go. It’s a Hogsmeade weekend. No one will know.”

   

With a shake of his head, Rodolphus stood up and surveyed her, a strange look in his eye: skepticism and worry and envy all in one. Bellatrix knew what was going through his head, and scowled at him. Not only did he not think she could get away from school at all, but he was worried about what would happen if she did, and was jealous that he wasn’t going with her. What a troll, she thought, as Rodolphus lumbered away up to the castle. He’ll come around, though. And he’ll come with me.

   

Bellatrix stared out over the glassy lake for just a moment, brooding on her situation. In one movement, she had seized a quill and parchment. If she was going to get into the seminar at all, she was going to have to reserve seats. She hurridly wrote out an order for two tickets, asking to have her parents billed; when they found out about it, they would either be glad she’d gone, or be angry. Either way, by the time they did discover what Bellatrix had done, the lecture would be long over.

 

*

 

          Much to her delight, it didn’t take much for Bellatrix to convince Rodolphus to go with her to London, and she was beyond excitement by the time Saturday afternoon rolled around.

   

”So if anyone asks you where I am, tell them that I’m in Hogsmeade and don’t want to be bothered. Got it?”

   

”Sure,” Paulette Pritchard replied, narrowing her eyes at Bellatrix over the top of her book. “What are you up to? You and Rodolphus having alone time, then?” She gave Bellatrix a sly, mischeivious smile that would have made anyone else blush. Bellatrix raised an eyebrow, an evil smile of her own stretching her lips, and inspected her fingernails in a bored way.

   

”You might say that,” she answered, turning toward the dormitory stairs. “Just make sure no one goes looking for me, Paulette.”

   

She walked down the stone hall to the sixth year’s dorm, inspecting herself in the small round mirrors that lined the walls inbetween torch brackets. Her usually pale face was spattered with freckles after so much training in the spring sunshine, and her hair had grown a bit over the year, but the furtive, deep blue eyes were the same as always. Perhaps the eyes were brighter then usual, though, with the anticipation of her planned escapade to London. Bellatrix let herself into the room, and headed straight towards her trunk. She pulled her black over-cloak out, the one thing she had at school that didn’t have any Hogwarts paraphenalia. It was a bit thick for May, but Bellatrix didn’t care; she would’ve worn fifty of them just to go to the lecture. She threw the cloak around her, and carefully folded the purple tickets, slipping them into her pocket. It was nearly time.

   

Bellatrix was scarcely able to contain herself as she made her way to the entrance hall. She cursed under her breath as she ran past a professor, who raised  her eyebrows and called for Bellatrix to walk in the corridors. Slowing to a trot, Bellatrix tried to tie her wild, black hair back, running into someone as a result of her lack in attention. A door had opened right in front of her, a door that she knew led to an unused classroom, and rarely had anyone in it during school, much less on a Saturday.

   

This time Bellatrix cursed outloud. The someone who had run into her was none other then Theodore Tonks of Gryffindor, followed closely by Andromeda. Both sisters bristled, and Andromeda’s pale face burned red hot, her eyes flashing as she waited for the inevitable moment when Bellatrix would begin to shout. Bellatrix stared from one to the other, unable to verbalize her anger and hatred. Tonks had gone for his wand, stepping just in front of Andromeda so that Bellatrix had to glare around him.

   

”Protective, are we?” she sneered. “Like her, Mudblood? You can keep her, she deserves you.”

   

Neither Andromeda or Tonks found that declaration a very relieving one. Tonks tensed up like he expected her to physically attack him. Andromeda was breathing hard through her clenched teeth, sparks flying from her usually soft, quiet eyes.

   

”Don’t call him that, Bellatrix!” Her voice was so high, it was practically a squeak.

   

”You will not speak to me again, you replusive brat,” Bellatrix said, her voice dangerously calm and quiet now. “Disgusting.”

   

She stood there for just a moment, glaring at the tall, muscular, and silently stupid figure of Ted Tonks, who still stood in front of Andromeda. Bellatrix knew no curses worthy of that traitor’s flesh, and had no profanities fitting enough to describe her. Then she stormed away, skirting them just as she skirted Muggles at the train station.

   

A towering temper had replaced her anxious excitement of the past week. This is why I’m going to the lecture, she thought fiercely, trying to calm herself so she didn’t arouse anyone’s suspicions. I’m going to learn what to do about people like her. I’m going to get back up on this. There was no way Andromeda could deny it; she had not only continued her relationship with that Mudblood, but she seemingly taken it to a new and frightening level. Her parents would be appalled and ashamed. Bellatrix hadn’t even realized that she had reached the Entrance Hall, and only realized where she was when a gust of cool wind blew in her face as she stepped outside. She hadn’t managed to tie up her hair, and strands of it floated around her face.

   

”There you are,” said Rodolphus, looking supremely relieved. “What kept you?”

   

”Nothing,” Bellatrix snarled, violently pulling her hair back. “Everything. I don’t know. Why do you care?”

   

It wasn’t a question meant to be answered, and Rodolphus only nodded, looking downcast. “Let’s go,” he said, his deep voice barely betraying his nervousness at having Bellatrix in one of her sour moods.

   

They started toward the village of Hogsmeade, looking simply like the lone stragglers, heading for a short afternoon and evening of Hogsmeade shopping. Not at all abnormal for a day like this, and certainly not something to be questioned. It was exactly as Bellatrix had intended.

 

          Bellatrix stepped out of a white marble fireplace into a spacious and well-furnished hall. She blinked in the bright light, which was very different from the dingy darkness that was an essential element in The Hogs Head Inn. Rodolphus stepped out of the emerald flames behind her.

   

”No trouble, love,” he said conspiratorially. “Daft old bloke probably didn’t even see us come in.”

   

A smile curled Bellatrix’s lips, which she immediately regretted because it had caught the attention of a young man who was walking by, and he threw her a wolfish smile. The two of them had agreed that it was best not to be noticed, just in case, and were trying to avoid eye contact with anyone.

   

”Let’s just go in and get our seats,” she murmured over her shoulder, taking Rodolphus’s wide, thick hand in her own slender one and leading him towards the end of the hall. Witches and wizards were cued up at a doorway framed by large, white marble pillars. Bellatrix had only been to the Hall of Fine Arts in Wizarding once for a charity performance that her father had been invited to. The only difference today was the lack of fine dress robes.

   

”It certainly doesn’t look like a small crowd to me,” Rodolphus remarked.

   

”I’m sure there would be loads more if he were speaking at, oh, the conference center. Or the ministry,” Bellatrix replied in an airy, all-knowing voice. I’m sure the ministry is so eager to hand power back to the old families.

   

With Bellatrix in the lead, the two of them had slid past a great deal of people waiting, and were just at the doorway when the guard stepped aside and begin letting everyone in. Still bent on remaining mostly unnoticed, Bellatrix headed for the last two seats at the end of the very last row. That way they could avoid being seen by any adults who might recognize them, and get out and back to Hogwarts as soon as possible.

   

Hogwarts. Andromeda. Bellatrix could see the scene in her mind, as clear as if it were still happening, and it made her insides boil. Hogwarts was the very last place Bellatrix ever wanted to go again. Almost as though it was on cue, the very last person Bellatrix could ever have wanted to see away from Hogwarts that day, strode past.

   

”Get down,” grunted Rodolphus, who also seemed to have noticed Albus Dumbledore. Both of them ducked down behind their seats. “He’s probably come to look for us!”

   

Bellatrix peered over the top of the seat in front of her, holding her breath, watching as Dumbledore searched the room. He seemed to find what it was he was looking for, and made his way to a seat in the middle of the hall. Bellatrix let out a long, relieved sigh.

  

 ”No, no, he’s just here for the lecture,” she whispered. “We’re fine, as long as he doesn’t turn around.”

   

For the next five minutes, Rodolphus and Bellatrix remained bent forward as far as possible, Bellatrix checking every few seconds to see that Dumbledore had not moved from his seat. A man strode out on to the stage, bringing hushed silence over the small assembly as all of them directed firm attention onto him. Bellatrix breathed a sigh of relief at remaining hidden from Dumbledore, and nearly forgetting to be glad she was at her lecture at last.

   

Her stomach flopped excitedly. “That’s him,” she purred, elbowing Rodolphus.

   

The man was bald with pale, frosty skin that made quite a contrast against his jet black robes. He was very tall and thin, his face slightly sunken, and he looked down his long, bony nose at a small notecard in his hand. When his eyes snapped up to the crowd before him, Bellatrix couldn’t help but gasp to see what color they were: a murky reddish-black. They weren’t like any eyes Bellatrix had seen before. What power he must have! she thought in awe.

   

”Welcome, my good people,” Voldemort began, in a slow, leisurely voice. “So pleased you could come. I am, of course, Lord Voldemort.”

   

There was a murmur of laughter, as though he’d made a joke, but Bellatrix didn’t think he was joking about what his name was. In any case, his face twisted into a smile, and he nodded, waiting for them to resume their silence.

   

Bellatrix edged forward in her seat, listening hard to every word that came out of Voldemort’s mouth. Everything he said was true. She wanted to have the future he described. A future where Muggles were controlled by a ministry of the purebloods. A future that was not hindered by Mudbloods and partial-bloods. Bellatrix was mesmerized by his words, by the visions she had in her head of what life would be like for her, and for her family and her friends. It was perfect.

   

She was deaf to all the whispering going on around her, the restlessness of some in the crowd. When everyone began to rise out of their seats, and Voldemort bowed slightly and strode from the stage, Bellatrix couldn’t understand why it was over. Quite a few of these people didn’t look very moved by Voldemort’s ideas. Why don’t they want to do something about it? she wondered, somewhat hurt by their only mild interest. I wish they would. No, I wish I could. It was truly disappointing to be a student at school, and a child in the eyes of these witches and wizards.

   

”Bellatrix!” Rodolphus had grabbed both her elbows, lifted her out of her seat, and was leading her quickly to the door. “Dumbledore is coming up this way, you dope! Are you just going to sit here all day, staring into space?!”

   

He was right, of course. Albus Dumbledore had just risen out of his seat, and would be making a turn toward them at any moment. Bellatrix jerked her elbows out of Rodolphus’s hands, and broke into a bit of a jog, trying to get past the throng of people trying to line up in front of the fireplaces. The line to leave by flue powder was exceptionally long.

   

”There is no way he’s not going to see us here,” Bellatrix began looking up at the line and checking her watch. “It’s six o’ clock, already!”

   

In a fit of good thinking that Bellatrix had not imagined possible from Rodolphus in a tight situation, he dragged her out of line, outside, and down marble steps into Etern Alley. “We’ll take the Knight Bus,” he declared, silencing Bellatrix’s protests at once. He’d been about to fling out his wand hand, but Bellatrix stopped him.

   

”Not here, Dumbledore will see it. Let’s just hurry Œround the corner and out of sight,” she said, and the two of them broke into a run.

   

Once they were out of view from the Hall of Fine Arts, they came to a halt, huffing and puffing. Bellatrix tied her hair back, and pulled her hood up, sweating slightly under her cloak. Rodolphus had just put his hand out to summon the Knight Bus when a rich, silky voice called out, “Bella, is it?”

   

Bellatrix froze, two wild thoughts chasing themselves around in her head, neither of them good thoughts. Either Dumbledore had recognized her and caught them anyways, or it was her father, who was the only one that ever called her Bella. She took in Rodolphus’s clearly shocked face staring at someone over her head. His hand was still in the air, but he was ignoring the greetings of the Knight Bus conductor. Very slowly and reluctantly, Bellatrix turned.

   

”Ah. Bella?” Lord Voldemort himself was surveying her from those red-brown eyes, a regal smile on his face. He held out a thin, white hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

   

”B-B-Bellatrix Black, sir,” she stuttered disbelievingly, mentally rebuking herself. He already knows you’re name, you git, she thought wildly. She took his hand, and shook it firmly, despite the complete mushiness she felt in the rest of her.

   

”You’ll forgive me for startling you, Miss Black?” he asked graciously. His voice made that shiver go up her spine, just as hearing his name had. “I couldn’t help but notice how very interested you are in my work. I could use someone like you, Bella.”

   

For the second time that day, Bellatrix found herself utterly without words. There was no way she could express her incredulity. “Me?” she managed, still feeling stupid.

   

Voldemort smiled again, his eyes boring into hers, searching her face. “Why, yes. Someone like you- resourceful, intelligent, determined.The world is surely lacking in witches and wizards who posess such grand qualities.”

   

Bellatrix narrowed her eyes. Why on Earth would he be telling her this? “I don’t understand, sir,” she said, raising and eyebrow. “I mean, I’m not even out of school yet. . . What do you want me to do, sir?”

   

”I want you to join me,” he said creamily, his voice demanding action, a tangible response of some kind. Bellatrix’s heart leapt. “I could help you, Bella, and you me. Oh, the things I could teach you. . .”

 

 

//
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