Murder Most Horrid
Well, this was the kind of party Bellatrix actually liked. Friends and family chatting and enjoying themselves on a friday evening, while barbecue braziers were working overtime in the rear garden. Butterbeers were being opened, happy children were running around. Bliss.
Andy had outdone herself setting this all up in less than two hours after the two sisters had come up with the idea, including sending out invitations. But then again, Andy was a professional party planner.
It was hard to believe that it had been over a month since being reunited with her family and as months go it has certainly been a hectic one. The 'trial of the century', as the Daily Prophet had dubbed it, was well underway and due to her involvement, Bellatrix had been in and out of the Wizengamot giving her testimonies ad nauseum. She had been juggling reports, her sub-department, the Wizengamot and, most important of all, a family demanding her attention. As such, she had decided not to take on any new cases herself for the time being. Thankfully, her escape from Azkaban had had very little negative consequences other than yet another formal reprimand to top off the pile. She had actually been invited by the warden to share the details of her escape so they could plug that particular leak. Bellatrix had expected to get a rather cold reception, but most of the guards considered her a hero. Even the laundry boy she had knocked out didn't have any hard feelings on the count of the fact that his aunt was a shopkeeper in Diagon Alley.
As Bellatrix mingled, she passed two Siamese kittens. The playful sisters had been bought during the Diagon Alley summer sales since the kids couldn't decide which one to buy. Bellatrix had been in a generous mood and brought them both home. She knew the two kittens couldn't replace Crookshanks, but it was a plus that her family had pets which actually seemed to like her for a change. The kittens very much loved being the center of attention and so far they'd only destroyed an ottoman.
Harry and Ron were listening intently at Bombur, who was telling them some tale about a case long ago, while Felix and Hera were running around with Sirius' boys. Lucius had claimed the armchair next to the fireplace and looked upon the other guests as if an emperor on his throne. Since Rosewood cottage didn't have a very large living room, a few guests had already relocated to the larger rear garden. That also might have had something to with the proximity to the food, she guessed.
She was certain she had seen Pansy and Hermione's friend Ginny running about somewhere, but couldn't see them anywhere now. Meanwhile, house-elves were running back and forth serving drinks and food. A mildly drunk Barty had assigned himself to the role of announcer and came up with insane titles for guests that were still arriving. Petunia the Petulant, Pentecostal Purveyor of Puerile Parrot Pornography was still the best one she'd heard to far.
Bellatrix had a chat with Draco earlier and couldn't help but think that the lad looked more like his father every day. As far as she was concerned, though, the jury was still out whether that was a good thing or not. Her nephew had taken Cass, Teddy and Scorpius out broom-flying. And why not? It was a lovely day, after all.
So far, she's been mostly mingling, chatting with one person or another and downing a butterbeer or two. Butterbeer was well and good, but she was hoping that Andy's house-elves would start serving the stronger stuff soon. Knowing Andy, there'd be a few crates of Dragon Scale ales hidden somewhere.
"Ben Creed, seeks the Mead, on his Steed, riding in from Leeds," Barty cheerfully announced. The dark witch turned her head to see the rather confused large man, still dressed in his dusty coat and cowboy hat.
"Ah, Ben," said Bellatrix as the man extended his hand, which the dark witch took. "Glad you could make it."
"Another excuse to do some drinking," Ben shrugged gruffly as he watched the other partygoers warily. "I didn't think you'd let a Creed into your house after, well..."
"You are not your brother," replied Bellatrix. "You've proven that by now. Will you be going back to Canada now that the deal with the Fawleys has fallen through?"
"Not exactly," said Ben. "The day after Fawley got herself arrested, I was approached by Blondie sitting in that chair over there with an enticing offer. I've sent word to my father and he is rather intrigued."
Bellatrix stole a look at Lucius in the chair. "Of course he did," she snorted and rolled her eyes.
"At the meantime, I think I'll stay at the whiskey distillery for a while. I'm actually starting to like this shitty country of yours, Black. Even if you lot do keep driving on the wrong side of the fucking road," he said while fishing a cigar from his case and putting it in his mouth.
He was about to flip his lighter when Hermione suddenly came out of nowhere while passing by with a tray of treats. Her wife lashed out, pulled the cigar right of his mouth and continued walking on as she admonished him while looking over her shoulder. "No smoking in this house! Outside in the rear garden!"
As soon as she had appeared, she was gone again.
"Yikes, you married a feisty one," chuckled Ben. To which Bellatrix could only nod in approval. "Anyway, I won't stay long. Do give my regards to Charlotte. She's a good kid."
As the large man mingled, being immediately accosted by Bill and Petunia, Bellatrix once against found herself alone. A perfect excuse to open up another bottle of butterbeer. Just as she took a sip, she saw a rather uneasy Cissy walking about. This wasn't the sort of party Cissy was used to, and as such the blonde aristocrat seemed to be rather out of her depth. Feeling playful, the dark witch decided to sneak up on her sister and hooked her arm around hers the moment she was within reach.
"Fancy meeting you here," Bellatrix joked. Immediately, her sister stiffened and avoided her gaze. The dark witch let out a sigh and guided her sister to a more quiet spot.
"So, any reason why you have been avoiding me for over a month?" said Bellatrix. "What did I do to upset you this time?"
Cissy turned her head slowly, only to look away again. "I... I will never force you to go to any soiree ever again," she spoke softly, voice laced with guilt.
The dark witch frowned. "Is that why you didn't come to see me until now?"
Cissy could only nod slightly.
"Well, you never could admit when you are wrong," Bellatrix replied.
Immediately, Cissy turned an angry glare at her. "It's not about being right or wrong!"
"Ah, there's the sister I know and love," Bellatrix smirked while Cissy raised her chin imperiously.
"Honestly," huffed Cissy. "I am attempting to apologize to you! You could be a bit more gracious about that. Merlin, you're such a no-class hooligan!"
With a wide grin on her face, Bellatrix placed her elbows on the table and cupped her jaw with both hands. "Keep going."
Cissy narrowed her eyes. "Yes. Yes, I have decided that it actually is your fault! Do you realize in what kind of state you put me? You escaped from Azkaban even though you didn't need to. Lucius and I arranged for the best solicitor in the business! All you had to do was sit there and wait it out! Merlin, there was talk about using dementors to try to track you down. Dementors! Do you know how it would make me feel knowing that your soul had been consumed all because I forced you to go to that damnable soiree?!"
Her sister was on a roll, however, narrowing her eyes and looking directly at her. "You had me worried to half to death! I didn't sleep for a week after your escape! The healers at St Mungo's told me I was well on my way to a nervous breakdown and it's all because of you!"
"You're my sister! I love you! And look at what you've done to me!"
"Cissy," Bellatrix countered. "Hermione was planning on taking the kids to the summer sales weekend. If I hadn't escaped..."
As soon as the implication became clear, Cissy swallowed hard. Guinevere Fawley's insane plan had been on the front page of the Daily Prophet constantly as new facts were coming to light. There were elements within the Ministry whom had preferred to keep this whole incident hushed up, but Hermione had decided to ignore those elements and had decided to give a press-conference on the whole happening. She had revealed as much of the planned act of terror as she could while the investigation was still ongoing, but it was enough to make some enemies among high levels of the Ministry. Still, as long as Hermione enjoyed Pius Thicknesse's friendship, there was little they could do to touch her.
Mean, Bellatrix could see the gears turning in Cissy's head as she put two and two together.
"If I had stayed put," said Bellatrix, keeping her voice low. "There's a good chance my entire family would have been dead."
Cissy mulled that over for a bit. Merlin, it was hard to think about and it was only now that it had started to sink in. There was a rumor going around that the Wizengamot could decide upon a Dementor's Kiss for Guinevere upon convinction. Though she doubted that would be the case, if it was Bellatrix would make sure to get a front row seat to cheer on the dementor. To think she once harbored feelings for that vile woman...
Her train of thought was interrupted when she felt pulling on her dress. She found her son Felix vying for her attention. She quickly scooped up her four-year old son and placed him on her lap. A quick kiss on the top of his head later, the boy greeted his aunt.
"What are you doing here, hm?" Bellatrix said. "Why aren't you playing with your cousins?"
"Hera is being mean again," Felix pouted.
"Ah, yes, the queen of the playground," Bellatrix snorted.
Cissy raised an eyebrow. "I do fear Hera will be rather spoiled as she gets older. She's so unlike her gentle brother. Draco doesn't dare to correct the child."
"Don't worry, Sirius'll do it for him," said Bellatrix, referring to the time her cousin had cursed Hera to float to the ceiling after she had been mean to his boys. "Felix, where is your mum?"
"I dunno," Felix replied apologetically. "I've seen her walking around, but she never stands still."
While Bellatrix was fussing over her son, she caught a glimpse of her sister looking at her. "I suppose everything worked out for the best, then," smiled Cissy.
"Chin up," replied Bellatrix. "With the Fawleys out of business, the Malfoys are next in like to host the monthly soirees. I might actually attend this time around."
Felix looked up with a smile. "Can I come too?"
"Felix," Cissy said while reaching over to gently pinch the boy's cheek. "You will be the guest of honor. Special seat and everything."
Her little boy was obviously pleased with that answer, sitting up straighter in her lap while sticking his chin in the air.
"And I will be organizing the parties!" Andromeda announced cheerfully as she plopped down right next to Cissy, a butterbeer in hand.
"Yes, yes," Cissy rolled her eyes. "We had already decided on that particular form of nepotism."
"Good!" Andy nodded. "And Cissy, do stop bawling. Merlin, you were always so overly sensitive. What was that phrase Charlotte likes to use? Drama Llama?"
"Llama?!" Cissy huffed. "Honestly, do I look like someone who spits in people's faces?"
At that point, Bellatrix and Andromeda shared a look. "Uhm," Bellatrix smirked. "Do you want the honest answer or the vaguely evasive answer?"
"Right," Cissy sighed. "You're both so common."
"Say, Bella? Whatever happened to that last crate of explosives?" said Andy. "I heard it went missing."
"Funny story, actually," replied Bellatrix. "We've been going all over Diagon Alley trying to track it down, but it turned out that someone at the warehouse switched the packing labels. It was shipped to Munich of all places."
"Germany?" Andy asked.
"Yes. To an owl sanctuary. Their shipment of owl pellets was sent to Diagon Alley, and the potion ingredients were sent to Bavaria. Neither party noticed at the time until it was time to feed the owls."
"Good thing it was found," said Andy. "Oh, I'd better check on the braziers. The fire should be hot enough for steaks."
Felix waved at her auntie as Andy got up to return to the rear garden. "Right," said Bellatrix while putting down the boy. "I want to talk to your auntie Cissy for a bit. And if Hera gives you any more trouble, you can tell her I will arrest her for being naughty."
Felix seemed satisfied with that answer and quickly ran off into the crowd. She turned to Cissy. "Feeling better?" she asked.
"I'm still going to try to get you drunk later," Bellatrix smirked.
"Please don't," Cissy replied; her baby sister usually didn't get very bawdy without the help of alcohol and she had learned to count her drinks to prevent a repeat of the disastrous sisterly outing the three of them had had after she and Hermione had just met. Bellatrix had never gotten her to dance on a table since then, but was determined to keep trying.
After Cissy left to mingle, Bellatrix decided to try to find one of the house-elves serving treats. She was able to claim a hot-dog quickly enough and spotted Miko sitting quietly in the library tower, talking to Andromeda whom apparently had yet to reach the brazier. Though still traumatized, Miko looked much healthier; Jimmy said it would be good for her to leave the house. No doubt she was swapping experiences with Andromeda. Though Andy had gotten a little more cautious after being kidnapped, she had refused to have fear rule her life. The two undoubtedly had a lot to talk about and the dark witch didn't want to disturb them.
"Hello," spoke a cheerful Charlotte as she plopped down in the empty chair next to her.
"Charlotte," replied Bellatrix. "I thought you'd be upstairs piddling abount on that Muggle machine of yours."
"Nah," shrugged Charlotte. "I'm not that anti-social. Plenty of people to talk to. Arthur and Molly will be dropping by later."
"Great," Bellatrix rolled her eyes. "Just what my evening needs. More Weasleys."
"Oh, stop being so dour. We both know you're pretending at this point," Charlotte chuckled while fishing a bottle from her coat. "Vodka?"
That caused Bellatrix to raise an eyebrow. "Where did you get that?"
"Own supply," replied Charlotte. "Gotta make mixed drinks somehow."
"Just a sip," said Bellatrix while holding out her cup. Muggle vodka wasn't exactly tasteful, but it got the job done.
"Just don't tell Hermione," said Charlotte. "She doesn't like me keeping alcohol up in my room."
"Lips are sealed," replied Bellatrix. "So, what's on your mind?"
Charlotte bit her lip. "Been doing a lot of thinking lately. Uncle Lucius offered me to come work for his company once, and I quote, I'd get sick of working for Misuse. That isn't going to happen soon, but that job he's offering does sound interesting. Consultant on Muggle Culture, he said."
"He'd be hiring an expert," Bellatrix smiled at her daughter. "You've come a long way, kid."
"I dunno," Charlotte replied. "I've doing a lot of thinking lately. About what I want."
"And what do you want?" Bellatrix asked.
"That's just it, I don't know," Charlotte replied. "I like the idea of having kids, but I don't want to get married. I like the idea of working at Lucius' company, but then I'd be part of big business. I like working at Misuse, but Ministry bureaucracy sucks. There's so many things I want to do, like finding new ways to enchant Muggle technology. Best of both worlds stuff and all that. I know I'm only an adopted Black, but…"
The dark witch snapped her neck towards the girl and grabbed her shoulders with both hands. "Don't you dare say that ever again!"
"You are a true Black, if not by birth that certainly by attitude!" Bellatrix smiled. "You're a sister to Cass and Felix. Do you think they care that you're adopted? Do you think Hermione and I care? Charlotte, you have got to stop seeing yourself as a lesser Black. You'll be head of the family one day. And I am proud to have you as a daughter."
Charlotte's eyes went slightly watery for a brief moment. Despite her blasé and carefree attitude, the one thing she had always sought from Bellatrix was approval. And she had just gotten it in spades. The girl embraced her, and the dark witch was only too happy to return it.
"You're going to do great things with your life, kitten," said Bellatrix. "All I ask of you is that you look out for Cass and Felix and set a good example for them. That's the only duty you will have as eldest sibling."
Charlotte snorted. "And it might be the hardest of all."
"So far you're doing fine," Bellatrix winked. "Trust me, you never stop being the eldest."
"If I should set a good example, I should probably get rid of this Vodka."
The dark witch chuckled. "I'd be happy to help you get rid of the evidence later. When the party's dying down."
"Deal," said Charlotte as she looked over Bellatrix's shoulder. "Oh, that solicitor of yours is looking at me again."
Bellatrix narrowed her eyes as she spotted Zabini in the crowd. "Oh, did he now? Perhaps I should have a chat with him about that..."
"Oh, give me some credit," Charlotte giggled. "Sure, he's attractive, but he's no Saul Goodman."
"S'all good, man."
Bellatrix blinked once. Twice. "Honestly, sometimes I just don't understand you at all."
Charlotte winked at her before stepping away to talk to Jack and Emma, whom had just arrived. This left Bellatrix to try to find her wife.
Thankfully, she got lucky and found her in the first place she looked. Hermione was in the kitchen filling a tray with snacks which had come fresh off the braziers. Her wife was just about to pick up the tray when the dark witch wrapped her arms around her waist and hugged her from behind. Hermione titled her head slightly, offering her neck for kissing.
"Hmmm," Bellatrix purred while gently nipping, enjoying the scent of her wife's perfume and the smell of her hair. "What are you doing?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Hermione replied softly, giggling slightly when Bellatrix slid her hands underneath her shirt to rest on her belly.
"We have house-elves for that, pet," said Bellatrix. "Andromeda pays them a salary. You're offending them by helping."
"Even so," Hermione sighed. "It doesn't feel right."
"Silly girl," Bellatrix chuckled and nibbled on her wife's earlobe while gently rubbing her belly. "Hmm, that's our baby in there."
"Don't be too sure of that," Hermione whispered while placing her hands on Bellatrix's. "We haven't had the test results yet."
"Don't be silly. It's you. I just know it," she grinned. The two of them stood together in silence for a bit, enjoying the private moment in their quiet kitchen. "I haven't had morning sickness once. You, on the other hand, threw up a few days back."
"That was food poisoning!" said Hermione. "The doctor even told me so. Anyway, a single month is far too early to get morning sickness."
"Denial," Bellatrix smirked, holding her wife tightly. "You'll be thick with child soon enough. Radiantly maternal and sexy. So, do you want it to be a boy or a girl?"
Hermione turned around in her embrace, wrapped her arms around her wife and leaned in for a kiss. The dark witch was only eager to reciprocate, parting her lips with her tongue while holding on to her tightly.
"Is that vodka?" Hermione frowned after breaking the kiss. "I'm going to have a word with Charlotte later tonight."
However, there was another thing on Bellatrix's mind. The dark witch held on to her wife while looking at her intently. "Pet. I've read your report on Cobblefrost today. You... fought for me."
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "Of course I did!" she replied. "I love you. There's no way in hell I would have let them railroad you. Besides... you've been my knight in shining armor three times. You helped me get through my addiction, you rescued me from the Purity Front and you were prepared to die for me when Creed invaded my parents' home. I wanted to be your knight in shining armor for a change."
"Hm," Bellatrix replied. "It's a nice feeling. Rather romantic, actually. I should let you come to my rescue more often, pet. Say... aren't you entitled to a reward, then? I doubt anyone would notice if the two of us slipped upstairs quietly."
That made Hermione giggle. "Let me just give this tray to one of the house-elves, then and..."
It was then that Cass came running into the kitchen, causing both women to quickly release each other. Cass, for her part, seemed to be oblivious to the amorous assault about to take place. "I'm back from the broom flight," Cass cheerfully announced. "Is there any cola?"
"Cass," sounded Felix as he and Charlotte entered the kitchen. "Can I go broom flying with you next time? Charlotte won't let me."
"That's because you're four," Charlotte replied. "And Bella told me to be a responsible big sister."
A ticking noise could be heard against glass. All heads turned to window, where a white owl with a letter in his beak was rapidly ticking against the glass. No doubt an urgent message. Bellatrix let out a sigh; if this was from the Department about a homicide, she'd throw a fit. "I'll go get it," she grumbled. Once there, she slid open the kitchen room window and took the letter after giving the owl a biscuit. Her heart stopped when she saw it the letter. It wasn't from the Department at all as it bore the logo from St. Mungo's. The test results...
After stealing a look at her family, Bellatrix ripped open the envelope. She quickly unfolded the letter and let her eyes roam over the paper looking for the answer amidst all the medical jargon. When she did, her heart stopped for a second time.
"OH BUGGER OFF, IT'S ME AGAIN!" shouted an irate Bellatrix as she turned towards the startled family. Hermione went white as a ghost while the kids looked confused. Of them, only Charlotte had figured out the meaning of her outburst.
"Holy shit... holy shit..." Charlotte held her hands in front of her mouth.
Bellatrix returned to the table and tossed the letter on top of her plate. Food-binges, mood-swings, hunger, cramps, kicking inside her stomach, sleepless nights, nappy-duty. Nothing alcoholic for the next eight months. It was all just too much to take in. "Merlin... fu... shi... cu... bugger! Bugger arse! Arse-bugger! Bollocks! SHIT!"
"Mum, Bella said a dirty word," Felix tattled.
Hermione turned to her wife with loving eyes. "Mind if I tell..."
Bellatrix answered with a groan. "Fine... go ahead..."
"Kids," Hermione spoke while tears started to well up. "You're going to have a little brother or sister early next year."
A cacophony of sheers and whoops sounded as Bellatrix cradled her head in her hands and groaned loudly. "Both."
That caused a confused silence. The dark witch let out the heaviest of sighs as she dropped the second bombshell which had been contained in the test result from St. Mungo's. Slowly, ever so slowly, Bellatrix raised two fingers.
Another explosion of cheers and whoops followed. Bellatrix let out a heavy sigh, only to find herself being hugged from behind by her beloved Hermione.
"That's our babies in there. Twins," Hermione whispered while rubbing her hands over Bellatrix's belly, repeating the words she herself had said mere moments ago.
"Sure, rub it in," Bellatrix grumbled. "We'll need to expand the house again."
"Do you regret it?" Hermione asked her the same question she had been over a month ago.
Bellatrix smiled at her, this wonderful woman she shared her life with. "No," she whispered. "No, I don't. Merlin, Andy and Cissy will fly through the roof when they hear the news. Might be amusing to see, actually. Let's go tell them. It might cheer me up."
"I love you, Belle."
"I love you too, pet."
And this ends Murder Most Horrid. For real this time. :) After the last epilogue, I really wanted to play around with the family I've created for her and to show that it has become one of Bellatrix's greatest strengths. I feel this is a good place to leave the characters. I want to thank you all for reading the story and I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have writing it.
From next Saturday onward, I'll be starting off a completely new Bellamione story. It's very different and non-AU, but I hope you will enjoy it too. The title will be 'The Dark Corners of the Earth'. I hope to see you there.