Eight nights. Eight marks.
Etched across pale skin.
They whispered to her, a deceptively crooning series of chatter.
They wouldn't silence themselves no matter how much she demanded it of them. They wanted only one thing, and that thing was not in her power to give to them at that moment. Bella situated herself in the corner of the room, her head filled with a dull throbbing at the invasive whispers.
She could very well be out and about, having herself a time. But she was in hiding; confined to a small three-roomed shack in the woods. It was her master's wish. She'd unhappily oblige and she'd do so with a pseudo smile in the wake of her dark lord. Across the room—not even feigning happiness—sat Cissy.
She'd be Bella's only company for a while.
The first day wasn't so horrid. The whispers—with them—the burning desire to cause someone pain hadn't set in yet. Wasn't dreadful and overbearing.
At that point she was interested…and able to keep up a conversation with Cissy—mostly about misbehaving house elves and (less interestingly to her) Draco's many academic achievements. Bella sighed, having to pretend to care about Draco's 'greatness' was tiresome. At some point—to Bella's delight, the conversation shifted into talk of their favorite spells and potions.
Later that same night was when the whispering started up. They begged and pestered for screams and/or bloodshed. Either one would have satisfied them.
But ruefully, Cissy was the only other present. She couldn't explain it…even to herself, but something always kept Bella from hurting Cissy. She simply couldn't bring herself to do it.
It never bought her the same delight.
In fact Cissy's anguished cries were the only cries that had Bellatrix cringing, stomach in knots.
But she couldn't just let the whispers continue and she had to get her fix of suffering.
And so Bellatrix waited. Watched and waited. Finally Cissy would lay herself down on the sofa to the right—naturally, with her childish antics, had declared that the left sofa was hers and hers only and that Cissy could not sit on it under any circumstances.
Bella only had to wait a little longer now. The whisperers were growing as anxious as she. Each fruitlessly beckoning in Cissy's deaf ears to "just fall asleep already."
And she did. Eventually.
The knife's blade glittered seductively in the moonlight spilling from the kitchen window. I seemed to call to her almost as longingly as the whispers did. It was a simple and cheap thing, an object that could be found even in a muggle home. But it'd serve its purpose.
Bella slowly, quietly walked over to the knife. Its smooth plastic hilt feeling all too right in her hand.
She lowered herself into a chair. The same moonlight that had once caught on the blade, now washed over Bella, painting the woman in an eerie and elegant light.
A dazed and dreamy smile washed over Bellatrix's face as she bought the blade to her forearm, something she hadn't done since her 5th year at Hogwarts. She hadn't the need since then. She exhaled deeply as the metal broke skin.
She watched crimson slip from the split, crying gracefully to the wood of the table.
On an impulse Bellatrix dug the nail of her thumb into the weeping cut, deepening the wound…
Her lip quivered, she whimpered slightly, in pain and in twisted pleasure.
Again she dug her nail in, this time slashing so that the cut branched out further. A wave of blood signaled that she'd went much too far. Her sick smile didn't waver…if anything it grew wider. Only to be removed by the thought that she was going to have to ease some of the pain if she didn't want Cissy to find her on the floor, dead, the next morning.
She drew out her wand and put its tip to the edge of her self-inflicted laceration.
Night two was a repetition of the first night; Bella removed her makeshift bandage (a bandage she'd craftily hidden beneath a long-sleeved dress—white in color to match the bandage itself.
He fingers traced lightly over the line of the first cut. A fresh array of scabs running across it. She'd peel those away later…after she made a fresh twin cut.
Night three a repetition of night two.
Night four however was a bit different; Bellatrix had finished making a third cut, parallel to the first two. Finding that, that was no longer bringing as much of a thrill as the nights prior she dug around the cabinets for a shaker of salt…another basic means of causing pain—a classic really. But it would do.
She poured three thin trails of the tiny crystals onto the table and lined the cuts up to them with special care and precision before pressing her arm, like a roll-on stamp to the substance.
The stinging that came with the motion shot up her arm instantly, a prickly burning beneath her skin. Bella griped the table, her dark mark rippling with the tensing of her muscles.
She let out a small cry—at last the pain was like it was on that first night.
This slight difference held little significance in comparison to night five. Bellatrix had just made a fifth laceration (this time on her right ankle), and was in the middle of coming up with something new and creative to do, when interrupted.
Narcissa, slammed the door open with such a ferocity that Bella no longger needed to do any thinking, for the start her sister had given her caused the knife to fall from her hand, jabbing painfully into her foot.
Again, Bella winced. Her laughter horse as she requested that Cissy fetch her, her wand and a cloth of some kind to wrap her foot in.
"Is this going to be a nightly activity…the whole time we're here?" Narcissa's lips pressed into a thin line as she worked with the bandage—this one torn from a gaudy dress that been hanging in the closet. She tightened the knot and looked up at Bella—the woman's expression mixed and hard to read.
And Bella knew that Cissy had known all along—since the first night—what she had been doing to herself. Her face flushed at the thought of Cissy being awoken by her whimpers. She could only imagine what her sister thought was happening…
Bella had never been so thankful for the dark hiding the scarlet of her cheeks.
"It will be." Bella answered. There was no sense in lying at this point.
Cissy made a soft tsking noise and stood. "And I don't suppose I can stop you?"
"You can't." Bellatrix shrugged. "If Bella wants to play…Bella's gonna play…"
On a particularly boring afternoon, Bella twisted a strand of her curls around her finger. She unraveled the strand and then twisted it up again.
Narcissa stood there watching her do so, looking up occasionally from her novella. When she chose to look up once more she noticed that Bella had taken to pricking herself with a nearby needle that she found within a pin cushion.
And with such a casual demeanor she may as well have simply been sewing a piece of cloth.
At this point it had become so natural—if Narcissa could even call it that—that Bella no longer waited for night to fall to engage in her self-destructive behaviors. Frankly Bella'd cause herself simple harms when she grew bored and right in front of her face too.
It became so normal, and yet Cissy couldn't help but stare. Stare especially at the intricate patterns Bellatrix had (on night seven) carved into her skin. Skillfully and painfully drawn roses cut and scrapped into her skin.
Cissy would have thought them beautiful if she didn't know how they'd gotten there…and if she hadn't seen how raw and rash-like they were the night Bella had put them there.
Bellatrix had taken to calling what she was doing to herself 'a beautiful art that had to be put together with care'.
Frankly Narcissa thought she'd never have to witness this medium of art ever again.
After day eight she wouldn't have to—they'd be free of this place and Bella would have other…outlets for her 'artwork'.
But until day eight she was faced with the facts and memories she had repressed so long ago; that her sister could and would hurt herself if she hadn't anyone else to harm.
…And she enjoyed it just the same and ever as much.