The Sugar Quill
Author: ilene  Story: Heart of Blackness: A Dark Romance  Chapter: Part Two of Two: Conflagration
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Heart of Blackness: A Dark Romance

Heart of Blackness: A Dark Romance

Written by ilene

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Part Two of Two: Conflagration

Rodolphus. Chalet Dustrange, Summer, 1977. 

Rodolphus Lestrange took the old ticket with the blood spot, and slowly advanced it toward the filigree box, but then stopped his hand.

“Not this late at night,” he said to himself.  “No need to have Bette rushing to my room; she has such good ears, that house-elf.  And besides, I know what it will say…”

He whispered the words softly.  “Unworthy!  Unworthy blood pollutes your veins!”

He replaced the filigree box in the wall safe, and put the tickets back in the box on his lap.  Then he started rummaging through it again.

“Yes, I knew I had kept this for a reason.” Rodolphus Lestrange smiled, as his hand closed over a small glass bottle.  Not, as one might have assumed from its position in the box of romantic keepsakes, a perfume bottle, or a love potion.  Instead, it was a dark-colored bottle marked with a small label, on which was written in tiny, cramped handwriting, “Truth Potion – Grade III”.  Underneath, in even smaller writing, were the words, “Effects last for one hour.”

 

“Ah, yes,” he said to himself.  “I should invite Snape, of course.  Perhaps even send two invitations, surely even he can find some witch to go with him; after all, who wouldn’t want to attend a Black family wedding?” He chuckled.  “And after all, without this potion…who knows if I ever could have…”

 

He smiled again, and looked out the window.  The weather outside was quite foul, but it was as if the young wizard did not see the winds whipping the tops of the trees about as if they were feather-dusters, nor heard the steady patter of the rain against the windowpane, as he stared dreamily into the distance, in the direction of London, and his beloved.

 

**********


Rodolphus, two years ago.  Spring, Hogwarts, 1975.  Shortly before Easter Vacation

 

"What, is this only way you can bring yourself to spill your guts to Bellatrix?"

 

"What?"  I looked at Snape fiercely.

 

"Well, I thought that perhaps, you were trying to muster the strength to confess to Bellatrix...that you fancy her."  Snape said, attempting a more diplomatic tone of voice.

 

"How did you know?"  I felt the heat rush to my face. 

 

"Oh, I'd say it was fairly obvious. Though not as obvious as some others.  Have you ever seen the way Potter looks at Evans?  But I suppose she must enjoy it, to have the great James Potter making such a fool of himself over her.  Oh, not that you are making a fool of yourself, of course."

 

I tried to stay calm.  "Bellatrix has a suitor, you know that," I said.

 

He laughed. "So?  She is not married yet...nor betrothed.  Personally, I find it foolish that so many witches marry so early, right out of school.  How many marriages stay strong and loving over the span of a hundred years?"

 

I could not help but laugh myself.  "Such cynical talk for one so young," I said.

 

Snape almost smiled. "Obviously, you've never met my parents," he said, then suddenly clamped his mouth shut, as if he realized he'd revealed too much.

 

Usually, I would have pursued further, but as I was trying to secure his cooperation, I held back.  Of course, if I had to I would resort to blackmail, but I wouldn't trust Snape not to sabotage the potion in some way if he felt he was being coerced.

 

An idea struck me.  I knew Snape loathed James Potter, and not without reason.  And while I, being no prefect, usually did not much care to stick my nose into the squabbles of fifth-years, I was not averse to proposing a deal which I was sure Snape would accept.

 

"Of course, Snape, I don't ask you to do this for nothing."

 

"Oh?  How many Galleons, then?"

 

"Galleons, eh? You drive a hard bargain."

 

"I'll have to spend at least a whole Galleon's worth to buy the ingredients," he countered.

 

"Can't you just get them from the Potions supplies?"

 

Snape snorted. "As if you could find the supplies in an OWL-level Potions course.  And there are a few...elements...that I’m not even sure would be available in the NEWT-level class." 

 

"Well, I wouldn't know." 

 

"Oh, yes, of course," Snape said, and he looked at me with a strange kind of contempt, the kind a master of an art has toward mere amateurs...even though I had just missed scoring high enough on my Potions OWL to get into NEWT-level Potions.  To this day I still suspect that someone...probably one of the Gryffindor scum...sabotaged my practical.

 

"Fine...five Galleons, then," I said.  "And...I can help you get one over on Potter," I added quickly, since I barely had five Galleons left over from my last trip to Gringotts.  I wished I had paid more attention to my father’s words of caution.

 

"Potter, you say?"  Snape suddenly looked at me with much more interest. 

 

"Yes," I said.  "I know you hate him, him and that...Sirius Black", I added, as it occurred to me that Bellatrix would probably enjoy seeing Sirius made a fool of.

 

"Potter, and Black," Snape said, his black eyes glittering.  "And their cronies...Pettigrew, and Lupin."

 

"Lupin?  He's a prefect," I said, though the way Snape said his name made me doubt for a moment.

 

"Yes, the hypocrite," Snape spat.  "I don't think he's ever taken a single point from Gryffindor, and certainly not from his...great friends." He said the last with great contempt.

 

"Well, it's not that I have any great objection to hexing prefects, especially Gryffindor prefects," I said. "However, targeting him would probably bring a stiff detention."

 

"Surely you can find a way not to get caught?" Snape said incredulously. "Potter and Black seem to have made an art form of getting away with bloody murder...and they're not even Slytherins."

 

"Murder?" I said, though I inwardly laughed at the irony.  After all, I knew quite well what I intended to do with d'Orange, if what I suspected was true.  Of course, I would have to expose him to Bellatrix first.  And there may not be anything left of him after she gets through with him.

 

"A figure of speech," Snape said.  "Though I wouldn't be surprised if one day they actually did kill someone with their foolish pranks."

 

"Of course," I said, trying to keep from laughing at Snape's naiveté.  If you only knew...

 

"You might find it amusing," Snape said darkly.

 

"Well, perhaps I could think of something," I said. 

 

"I'll give back a Galleon if you do get caught," Snape said.  "As long as it's all four of them."

 

"Well..."

 

"Perhaps you can ask Malfoy for advice," he said.  "He Owls your family, does he not?"

 

"Sometimes," I said.   Oh, play that card, will you?  I wondered if Lucius even remembered Snape. Although he had taken the boy under his wing while he was at Hogwarts, it had seemed more like the affection given to a cat or owl than anything else.  

 

I suppose I could have gained more favorable terms if I had persisted longer, but I was running out of patience.

 

"Fine, then." I said.  "All four of them, and a Galleon back if I get caught...or hexed."

 

Snape seemed to ponder this for a moment, then nodded.

 

"Done."

 

"And I need the potion before we leave for the Easter holidays."

 

"Before you leave, you mean," Snape said.  "I am staying at Hogwarts."

 

"You are?"  I asked.  I remembered again what Snape had said about his parents.

 

"Yes," he said tersely.  "After all, this project of yours is going to cut into my study time.  I don't know how you approached it, but I prefer to pass as many OWLs as I can...including Potions."

 

"Touché," I said at this last barb. 

 

I walked away feeling rather impressed at Snape.  He certainly knew how to drive a bargain, not that it should be too much trouble to handle mere fifth-years, even four of them. Perhaps Lucius did see something in him, I thought.

 

I smiled, and patted the pocket of my robes, where I had a letter in Bellatrix’s hand – or as close to it as Thomas, who was quite good with a quill, could manage.  It shouldn’t be too much trouble to lure d’Orange into a meeting, and find out the truth from him. 

 

**********

 

Rodolphus. The woods near Chalet Dustrange, Spring, 1975.

 

“So you sent him a note in my hand to lure him into a meeting?” Bellatrix said. 

 

“I did,” I said.  “Then I used a Portkey to transport him here.”  I gestured with my hands, indicating the tall trees around us.  

 

“Where did you get such a note?”

 

“I got Thomas to forge one.”

 

“And why would he help you?  He is no friend of yours.”

 

“I used a disguise, and Confundus,” I said.  “He actually thought I was one of his Gryffindor cronies, playing a trick by using the fake letter to lure me into a trap.”

 

“Ah,” she said.  “I hadn’t thought you could be so clever.”

 

Bellatrix stepped closer to me, and even through the haze Snape's potion had brought to my mind, I could see her face, and her cold eyes. 

 

“But it is curious,” she said, “Why Thomas would believe that…” 

 

Her lips turned upward slightly, approaching one of her rare smiles.

  

"Do you love me, Rodolphus?" she said, an almost amused look on her face.

 

"Yes," I heard myself say, though I must admit I did not even try to hold it back, not even in front of this...imposter, this infidel, who would dare lay a hand on...

 

"Yes," she repeated.  She looked at me again, a full smile on her face now, though a cruel one, so cruel...so beautiful...

 

"Is that why you did this?"

 

"Yes," I said again, and I waited for her to ask if I thought this would help me to win her, but instead she turned away slightly and said,

 

"Very well, the potion works."

 

“Only for an hour,” I reminded her.  “He’ll need another dose.” 

 

She turned to the filthy fool, her face hardened into a mask, and I exulted inwardly. 

 

"Well," she said, "I hope you do understand, Julius, that I must check out Rodolphus's tale for myself."

 

She stripped the gag from his mouth with a quick wave of her wand, and brought the bottle of truth serum to his lips.  If her hands had not been gloved I would have been tempted to hex d'Orange, to see his lips so close to her fingers. 

 

I saw him shudder, and jerk his head away, and I knew I’d won. 

 

"Drink," she said, softly.  He shook his head.

 

"Drink," she said, more firmly, "or I will make you." 

 

The fool complied, for even he knew that Bellatrix was quite capable of carrying out her threat. 

 

He drank the potion, and his went slack, and for a moment I wondered if she had forced too much down his throat.  After all, only a sip was enough for the potion to work on me.  Not that I’d have had much regret it if he’d died just then, died in agony with poison coursing through his polluted veins...but I wanted her to know that I was right.

 

"Are you a Mudblood?" she asked, saying the word in a hiss.

 

"No..." he said, his voice trembling.  "Not a Mudblood…"

 

She looked at me quickly, with sudden renewed suspicion.

 

But there is a reason I am in Slytherin, the House of the cunning, the wizards whose minds are sharp enough to actually help them in life, even if some fools say the Ravenclaws are the intelligent ones, with their dull books and dreamy star-gazing.  

 

"He does not think of himself as a Mudblood," I said.  "His father had some magic in him...a few childish tricks, nothing strong enough to move the quill at Hogwarts, or Beauxbatons. And his mother was a gypsy woman, pretending to have the Sight, but she was a common Muggle."

 

"Is this true?" she asked.

 

He looked at her, then looked away, toward me.  I met his eyes with a glare, and he looked down, defeated.

 

"Yes," he said.

 

"He says your father had some magic.  Was your father a Mudblood? Born to Muggles?  Or a filthy half-blood, perhaps?" she said.  Her voice was still calm, but I could tell that she was just barely keeping control over it.

 

"Yes", he said.  I could smell his fear.  “He was a half-blood.  His father – my grandfather – was a d’Orange.”

 

Bellatrix made a little clicking sound with her tongue.  “High spirits, I suppose.  And your mother?  Was she a common Muggle, as he says?"

 

"Yes," he said, his voice so soft I could barely hear it.

 

"How long have you known this?" she asked.

 

"Since...I was two years old."  I smiled to myself, and thought that it might be worth asking Lucius to assist me in planning what I would do to Potter and his cronies, for my promised payment to Snape.  Not that Lucius would turn down a chance to get one over on those upstarts in Gryffindor.  And, of course, Snape was his little pet when Lucius was still at Hogwarts.  Oh, Snape may be a snivelling coward, but what a gift he must have in Potions, to brew a truth potion that can extract secrets a wizard cannot even remember.  But of course, like the fool he is, he would strive so hard in that useless class, Defense Against the Dark Arts. 

 

"So you have known all along?  All along the time you were...courting me?"  Her voice was getting louder, and the anger was starting to show in her eyes. 

 

"Yes," he said. "All the time."

 

"And you still dared to pay court to me, knowing I was Bellatrix of the Blacks, one of the most venerable pureblood families in the land?"

 

"Yes," he said.

 

"You knew you were a filthy Mudblood, and yet you dared to lay your hands on me?"

 

"Yes," he said, but I sensed something in his voice that I did not like.  I dropped my gaze, wondering exactly where he has dared to lay his hands.  Oh, not that Bellatrix would act in a loose manner, but even foolish men can be cunning when it comes to...

 

But my thoughts and fears were interrupted, for I saw Bellatrix step back from him, and I saw the expression on her face, filled with disgust, definite anger now, and something else...something I have never seen before.

 

She tensed her body, and closed her eyes as if she was concentrating on something, the way I remembered seeing her doing during her Apparition lessons. 

 

She raised her wand, and I heard her voice, strangely high-pitched...

 

"CRUCIO!"

 

I heard him scream, and I saw him writhe in his chair, but it is Bellatrix that I watched, transfixed, as she held her wand on him.  At first she was gazing intently, concentrating, but then her expression changed, and the corners of her drawn mouth started to turn, almost, as if she was enjoying herself.  She started to move her wand from side to side, as if she was conducting some symphony.  His screams got louder, then began to fade...I supposed the effects of the curse had worn out his lungs.  I noticed the smell of urine, and realized he had wet himself.  I started to laugh.

 

Suddenly, the screaming stopped, and I saw Bellatrix's wand arm waver, and drop to her side.  She turned back to me.

 

"You distracted me," she hissed, and I saw she was angry, but not enough to make me fear.  She might hex me with some harmless curse, but that was all.

 

She looked back at him, head lying back in his chair, limbs limp.

 

"Unconscious," she said, with a sound that was very close to a snort of contempt.

 

"Yes, he is, the scum," I said.

 

She laughed.

 

"Kill him," she said, suddenly.  

 

"What?" I asked.

 

"Kill him," she repeated.  "You want to, don't you?"

 

"Yes...and no," I said.  Snape's potion was still having its effects on me.

 

"What kind of answer is that, yes and no?" she asked.

 

"I mean...of course the filth deserves to die," I said, "but right now, I do not want to kill him.  What I want is..." I almost laughed, again.  "...to do what you just did."

 

"He is unconscious," she said.

 

"Yes," I said, "but that is what Ennervate is for."

 

**********

Bellatrix. 12 Grimmauld Place, Spring, 1975.

 

After checking to make sure that the Floo fire was out, I slipped into my bed at the guest room in Grimmauld Place for the last time.  Tomorrow I return to Hogwarts.  For the first time since the night's events, I allowed the tears to fall from my eyes.  No, I did not weep for the Mudblood scum.  I do not even think I ever loved him, not really.  I was simply taken up by the...drama of it all, the pageantry, the pomp and ceremony, of being courted, the way Lucius courted Narcissa.   For I must confess he was a great actor, after all, even more than a singer.  He must have been, to fool me. 

 

The salt tears stung my face.  I could hear Narcissa snoring, even through the wall separating my room from hers...it was a thin wall, and the Silencing Charm must have worn off.  I would have gone and re-cast it, but I was too tired.  It had taken more energy than I thought to cast Scourgify on myself five times...or was it more?  I had lost count (and yet I still felt sullied.)  And of course, I had never cast Crucio on a human before...that is, if Mudbloods are human enough to count.  While Rodolphus did distract me with that loud laugh of his, I do not think I could have kept it up for long.  For while it was vaguely amusing to see him flipping around like an old sock puppet, I was too angry. 

 

Rodolphus seemed to be enjoying himself much more, and I must confess I was somewhat surprised by it.  I did not think he had it in him.  Oh, his cunning tricks, such as the truth serum, yes.  But not the power it takes to cast the Cruciatus Curse.  But I suppose he had less anger in him.  I had not understood, before, the truth of what was in the book Lucius had given me after he and Narcissa had announced their engagement.  Inhabit the Darkness.  I whispered the words, for I have memorized most of that book.

 

"...the true strength of the Curse Cruciatus does not lie in the strength of the caster's anger or rage.  This Curse is best performed when the wizard feels not anger, but pleasure...pleasure at the sight of pain and misery.  A wizard who is in the throes of triumph over an enemy, and feels the pleasure of having bested him and cast him down, also often has great success in the use of the Curse..."

 

Triumph.  That explains Rodolphus, I think.  For, of course, he must think he has a path to my heart now, having disposed of the MudbloodHe did confess he loved me, after all.  I wonder if he would have been so quick to do what he did if it had been, say, my cousin Regulus who had been ensnared by some Mudblood's wiles.  But then again, he would not have needed to go to such lengths to convince Regulus, I am sure.  Regulus can be a fool, but he has always been quick to follow the words of his elders.

 

I held back a sigh.  Oh, to be as simple as Regulus!  But I am not.  It is not that I disagree with what my parents have taught me, the creed of the Blacks. Toujours Pur, always pure.  It is that...they are too complacent, too content to let the ancient families wither away, the Mudbloods and half-bloods gain more strength by the day, while they hide in the shadows...indeed, let all wizardkind hide in the shadows, while the Muggles overrun the earth like a horde of rats. 

 

At the very least, we should be having more children.  Look at the Weasleys...blood traitors, and poor as trolls to boot, but there are so many of them, all pureblood.  Yet my parents only had three, and one of them turned out to be a blood traitor, willing to lie in a Mudblood’s bed, take his name, even bear his child.  I have never seen the child, but I have heard my parents whisper that it is not normal.  Aunt Aquila and Uncle Orion only had two, and one is as good as a blood traitor himself.  And while Narcissa certainly looked pleased after Lucius proposed, showing off that ring...I am not sure she is quite as pleased with the prospect of putting her fine figure into jeopardy by carrying a child.  Although I have heard there are ways of having a child of one's blood without the pains of labor.  Perhaps Lucius has books that tell of it...though I doubt he would be willing to forsake the pleasures of the marriage bed.

 

I cringed at that thought.  Who will want to marry me now?  I tried to reassure myself that no one need know.  After all, I had not even told Narcissa what had passed, much less my mother and father.  All society will know is that Bellatrix Black was courted by a foreigner, then abandoned.  They need never know that the foreigner was a Mudblood.

 

Yet...I scraped my nails against my shoulders...I will know.  Unless I cast the strongest Memory Charm I can on myself, I will always know that a Mudblood dared to touch me, to embrace me, to press his foul lips to my hand, even to my...I cannot bear to think of it.  If I were not headed to Hogwarts tomorrow, I would Summon some of Father's Firewhisky to cleanse my mouth.

 

Yes, I will know. I will know, and I will always fear that I will somehow let the truth out, for even little Snape's potion was strong enough to pull out the truth from the Mudblood...as well as Rodolphus, of course.

 

Rodolphus.  I suddenly realized something.  He too, knows.  He too, knows I let a Mudblood...touch me, and yet...he still loves me.  He said so under the potion, so it must be true.  Yet he did not recoil from me in disgust, or spit in my shadow.  He even laid his hand on my shoulder as he parted from me...

 

I almost laughed out loud. I, care for Rodolphus that way?  A mere boy, who I have known since we were first-years? And the Lestranges...purebloods, certainly, but declining in fortune, not exactly known throughout Britain, and even the whole of Europe, as we, the Blacks, are. 

 

And people will say that Bellatrix Black must have a taste for wizards with peculiar names.

 

But then, I thought, why should I care what people say?  So Rodolphus Lestrange is not rich and cultured like...the Mudblood pretended to be.  So?  He is a pureblood, and he knows what is right.  He follows the creed of purity.  He knew the Mudblood scum deserved to die, and was not afraid to follow through on it.  I sighed with regret that we did not have enough strength left to use the Killing Curse, but Transfiguring his heart into a stone had the same effect, after all.  And now he is completely stone, Transfigured into nothing more than a pile of rubble.  No one will find the body, no one will ask any questions.

 

I smiled to myself.  I do not smile that often, at least not sincerely, and I wondered why I was smiling now.  Surely, I do not love Rodolphus that way.  But then again, who knows if I ever will love that way? 

 

I thought of something Aunt Aquila said once, when I was young and foolish, and I asked her if she loved Uncle Orion.  He was her cousin, after all, though a second cousin, and once removed at that.  I knew such a thing was common in our clan, but to marry a relative?  I try to imagine marrying Regulus, and it is so absurd that I feel more amused than disgusted.  And she had never said that she loved him, not as a lover.  She had said she loved him as a wife should, as if she loved him out of duty.  But she had also said that for a woman, sometimes it is as much of a blessing to be loved, as it is to love.

 

I know that Rodolphus loves me.  And we already share something that I share with no other wizard.  We share a secret. 

 

Yes, he loves me.  And perhaps Aunt Aquila was right, after all.  Perhaps it is as much of a blessing to be loved.  Perhaps it is a good thing, to know that at least one wizard will always be loyal to me, that he will follow my every whim, my every wish...not in the foolish things like buying sweets and baubles, but in what really matters.

 

I smiled to myself again, and I felt myself start to relax, probably enough to sleep, even with Narcissa's snores.  Perhaps I would tell her in the morning that she still snores, that she might want to do something about it before Lucius finds out.  That should put an end to the problem.  I imagined Narcissa frantically researching how to cure snoring, and I laughed, for she never was too studious. 

 

Feeling better than I thought I could when I first crawled into bed, I closed my eyes.

 

**********

 

 

Bellatrix. 12 Grimmauld Place, Summer, 1977.

 

Bellatrix Black woke, and realized that she was not alone.  She was not sure how she knew that.  She tried to look around, but found that she could not move her neck.  She tried to reach out her hands, but they remained frozen at her sides.

 

Before she could wonder what had awakened her, she heard a voice, unlike any she had heard before. 

 

“Bellatrix!”

 

She knew that this voice must have called her.

 

“Yes?”  she replied.  She found that, as she spoke, her body broke out of its paralysis.  She reached for her wand on the nightstand.

 

“There is no need to cast Lumos,” the voice said.  “You could not see me even if you lit a hundred candles.”

 

“You conceal yourself?”  Bellatrix said.  Somehow, she did not feel frightened, though she supposed she should.

 

“That is too simple a way to describe it,” the voice said.  “Do not bother looking for any cloak that I hide behind.  I simply inhabit the darkness.”

 

“Inhabit the darkness…is that you, Lucius?”

 

The voice laughed.  “No, I am not Lucius, but he will be pleased to know you have been reading his books.   He speaks well of you.”

 

“You know Lucius, then.”

 

“Of course I do.  I know many of your friends.”

 

“Lucius is my brother-in-law,” Bellatrix corrected.  “He is family.”

 

“Of course, of course, you have few friends outside your family, Bellatrix.  Few friends, and fewer lovers.”

 

“I have Rodolphus…my betrothed,” Bellatrix said.

 

“So you have.  But in the past you had…one other.”

 

“I have never been betrothed before,” Bellatrix said. 

 

“Oh, no, I know you were not,” the voice said.  “But I know this.  You killed a Mudblood upon learning he had attempted to seduce you under false pretenses, did you not?”

 

Bellatrix gasped. 

 

“That is the secret you have kept for so long, or so you think.  Two years?  That is nothing.  I spent many years wandering the earth, learning all there was to know about the Dark Arts, before I returned to the land of my birth.  You think of yourself as corrupted, tainted, when your only fault was stupidity.”

 

Stupidity? Bellatrix thought indignantly. 

 

“Perhaps I use the wrong word,” the voice continued.  “I know you are intelligent, Bellatrix.  You were Head Girl, after all.  What I meant is, you were young, unknowing of the world.  You were brought up well, to respect the creed of purity, but you were sheltered.  What you need is true education, not the feeble version of it you were given at that school, run by that Mudblood-loving old fool.  They told you to defend yourself against the Dark Arts, but neglected to teach you what the Dark Arts truly were.  You were not stupid, merely ignorant.”

 

“So I was,” Bellatrix said.  “But how…how did you know…”

 

“The Dark Lord knows all,” the voice said simply.

 

“The Dark Lord!  You are…”

 

Even though Bellatrix could not see him, she thought she sensed something from the Dark Lord…pleasure?  No, but something close to it.

 

“I am, Bellatrix.  And I have come to tell you that you have been chosen.”

 

“Chosen?”

 

“Yes, chosen.  Lucius speaks well of you, but I think you have more power inside you than even he.  Join me, Bella, and I will show you what true power can be.”

 

“But I am betrothed,” Bellatrix said.  “I am soon to be wed.”

 

“That will be no impediment.  Both you and Rodolphus Lestrange will be welcomed into my ranks.  But it is you, Bellatrix, who have been chosen.  I am even considering training you in some of the most advanced Dark Magic by my own hand.  That is, of course, if you wish to be trained.”

 

Bellatrix nodded to the darkness. No words needed to be exchanged for both parties to know that refusal was not an option. 

 

“You will hear from me again, Bellatrix.  For now, enjoy your wedding plans.  Good night, Bella.”

 

There was no sound, except a small swish, that could have been no more than a curtain fluttering in the night air, but Bellatrix knew that she was alone again.  She felt a sudden need for sleep, so overwhelming that she did not even stop to wonder how the Dark Lord had managed to broach the magical wards that guarded the Black family seat.  It did not surprise her that he had.  He was the Dark Lord, after all…

 

*********

Rodolphus.  Chalet Dustrange, Summer, 1977. 

Rodolphus Lestrange raised his wand to turn off the single taper burning at the head of his bed.  Then he thought better of it, and paused to take the locket from around his neck, and take one last glance at the picture of his beloved.

 

He immediately noticed something different about her.  He was not sure what it was.  She was still sitting in the chair, her back straight.  She was still looking at him with a half-smile on her lips. 

 

And then, as he watched transfixed, she raised her left arm, so that the sleeve of her robe fell downward.  He drew in a gasp of air as he saw what was revealed on her arm.  A black mark, a figure of a skull, with a serpent issuing forth from the mouth.

 

He had seen it before, of course.   Well, he had never seen a fresh one, green and bright in the sky, but he had seen enough pictures in the paper, showing it rising above the houses of those foolish enough to oppose the Dark Lord.

 

He was no Seer, but Rodolphus knew this must be some sign, to see the Dark Mark appear on the arm of Bellatrix.  Perhaps it meant that the Dark Lord would one day come for her?  But there was no way he could see her as a blood traitor.  Unless…she was meant to become one who would cast the Mark.  And since it had appeared in a picture he had taken, perhaps he too…

 

Bellatrix smiled at him again, a full smile this time.  Rodolphus wished the picture was an actual painting, so that he could speak to it, and hear for himself what Bellatrix had to say.

 

Well, I suppose I shall Owl her in the morning, he thought.  Perhaps she can figure it out.

 

Not knowing how close to the truth he was, Rodolphus put out his candle and went to sleep.

 

 

FIN

//
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