A/N: Bellatrix is one of my favourite characters: a soul gone bad but knowing that something must have made her so evil and irredeemable. I like stories that show her before she went bad or her going along that path. So in this fic, she meets smooth-talking Tom Riddle for the first time at a ball organized by her parents. It's kinda Bellamort as well. Bellatrix is 20, Andromeda is 18 and Narcissa is 16. RxR. FxF.

Submission for:

Fanfiction Scavenger Hunt Competition: A character you love - Bellatrix :D

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

The three perfect daughters stood at the edge of the ballroom in their elegant and stately ballgowns, each with a glass of wine in their hand, even Narcissa who was much too young to partake in such things. No one took any notice of them. Once the formality had been exchanged and their father commenced the dinner, they were soon forgotten.

"These things are always a bore," Bellatrix said with an eyeroll. She took a sip of her wine, the blood red liquid matching her red-painted lips but leaving no print on the glass. She leaned lazily against a nearby table but her long black dress still hugged her subtle curves.

"Bella, just relax and it will be over soon," Andromeda said placatingly, but with her own bored expression. These things were a bore but she knew she had to control Bella before she did something drastic. The devil finds work for idle hands.

Narcissa was looking out at the dance floor in excitement. She always loved these balls, the bright lights, exquisite decorations, floral arrangements and ice sculptures, the towers of food and elegant guests. She sipped discreetly on her wine as if someone who scold her for it. Narcissa was always the goody-goody. "Just have some fun, Bella," she said with a grin.

"There's never anything to do at these things but sip wine and pretend you give a rat's arse about politics," Bella seethed, placing her wine glass on the nearest table. "See you in a few minutes."

"Bella," Andromeda said, reaching out for her sister's arm but she shrugged her off and kept walking out to the ballroom floor.

Bellatrix looked around for something to do, something to cause mischief with. There were her parents talking to the Minister of Magic, there were the snotty witches that her mother insisted she befriend, there were the leery wizards that were currently ogling her behind in her dress and the unsuspecting waiters and elves running around like chickens through the crowd. So much opportunity.

Then someone tapped her shoulder and she spun wildly, "Andy, leave me-"

"Hello, my dear," a cool voice said. His black hair was swept to the side, expertly coiffed and different from all the men she was used to. He was an older gentleman, old enough to be her father, but he was handsome.

She was frozen to the spot but he took advantage of her surprise and took her hand, placing a kiss on her knuckles. "You must be the oldest Black sister." He said it so smoothly, so effortlessly, with the slight grin, that she almost swooned before him.

She cleared her throat and analysed this man. "Who are you?" she asked haughtily, feigning boredom though now she was definitely interested and curious.

"My name is Tom," he said, flashing her another smile. His smile was perfect and his face smooth. He carried himself with the ease of someone who knew they were better than you and Bellatrix almost felt insulted by it. But she couldn't bring herself to feel those feelings towards this man. There was something about him. Maybe she felt that he actually was better than her.

"Tom from where?" she asked. She had never met him before and from what she could remember, he had never been at any of her parents' balls, or the other families' balls.

"That is not important," he said dismissively with another dazzling smile. "May I have this dance?" he asked politely, extending his hand toward her.

Bellatrix frowned, looked over at her sisters who had been watching the entire exchange: Narcissa about to jump out of her dress and Andromeda with a strange look she couldn't easily decipher but it looked uncertain? wary?

She looked back at the man before her, who was still awaiting her answer. But they both knew this was just a formality. She couldn't deny his request if she wanted, but she found that she didn't want to. She wanted to dance with this man, even though she hated dancing.

The music changed to a slow waltz and Tom led her around the room in time with the beat, lifting and twirling at the right intervals. He was an excellent dancer and even Bellatrix, who had been in dance class from 7 was having a bit of trouble keeping up. All the while, he stared down at her as if piercing her, looking into her deepest thoughts. Where it should have been disconcerting just how focused he was on her, she instead felt secure and safe in his arms as her head laid lightly on his shoulder.

Then the music stopped and he released her from him embrace. Bellatrix was almost sad for it to end. He reached into his pocket and produced a small card.

"Bellatrix, I see great potential within you, a power you have kept secret from others for fear they would hate you, shun you for acting that way. But not me, I see greatness. I'm having a small meeting of other witches and wizards just like you and I would like for you to attend."

She looked at the card, "Tom Riddle," and an address. Then there were small initials near the bottom, "LV".

She turned her head back up but he gave her a knowing smile, like he just knew she would not turn him down. And he was right, she was already having a hard time just thinking around this man. Something pulled him to her, something powerful.

He spoke again, "I will see you there, my Bella." With one more kiss on her knuckles, he walked off the ballroom floor and disappeared into the crowd.