Whew! I promised new stories, did I not? :)

I am the Captain of the Caerphilly Catapults for this season of the Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition, and this is my Round 1 entry, the prompt for which was to write about a Death Eater with his or her friends. I have always loved the quote I used in the summary, because although it's really describing Riddle's inner circle during his time at Hogwarts, I feel like it provides incredible insight into the mind of a person, fictional or otherwise, who follows anyone or anything with this kind of fervor.

ANYWAY! Go Catapults! :)


19 May 1967

"With a brain like yours, I should think you'd have the sense to take a little more care in your lessons, Miss Black," said Professor McGonagall sharply, her eyes narrowing. "Your O.W.L.s begin in less than two weeks, and messing about, skipping classes, and disrespecting your teachers by talking all through the ones you do attend shows just how little—are you listening to me, Miss Black?"

Bellatrix took her time, peeling her gaze from a large black fly that was buzzing against one of the windows of the Transfiguration classroom. She gave a sigh. "Yes."

McGonagall's eyes became steely.

Bellatrix gave another bored sigh, shifting her weight. "Yes, Professor."

"If I thought it would improve your habits, I'd give you detention from now until your exams begin," said McGonagall.

"I think we both know how that would turn out, ma'am," said Bellatrix, with a smile. McGonagall didn't blink, and Bellatrix shifted to a scowl. "Can I go, then?"

"You might think about the example you're setting," said McGonagall, "with two younger sisters looking up to you."

Bellatrix paused in the act of opening the classroom door and smiled at her. "Thanks, Professor. I'll keep that in mind."

And she slipped out of the classroom, rolling her eyes in disgust. She looked down at the essay that sat on top of the stack of books she held in her left arm—the poor grade was written in red ink, with Professor McGonagall's note (See me!) written just below it. She crumpled up the parchment in her fist and stuffed it into her pocket as she approached the marble staircase.

Bellatrix descended a few floors alone before she reached the entrance hall and saw a knot of boys standing at the base of the stairs, clearly waiting for her. She smiled to herself.

"Well, isn't this a friendly sight," she said, descending the steps. Five heads turned to face her. "What, you all can't eat dinner without little me?" She leaned against the end of the banister, smirking at Wallace Jugson, Walden Macnair, the Lestrange brothers, and the little first year tagalong, Lucius Malfoy, whose sleek blond hair was shining as he raised his chin, trying to appear as tall as the older boys.

Rodolphus, the elder Lestrange brother, had dark hair and a heavy, square jaw with broad shoulders. He gave Bellatrix a grin. "We were just wondering where you'd got to."

"Yeah," grunted his brother, Rabastan, who was a slightly less impressive facsimile of his brother.

"What kept you?" asked wiry, lean Jugson, Rodolphus's best friend.

Bellatrix shrugged. "McGonagall."

"She's got it out for you," said Macnair, scowling. "You get detention again?"

"Not this time. But she reckons I'm not putting forth my best effort," she said, doing an uncanny imitation of McGonagall's accent that made the boys laugh.

"Hang on a sec," said Rodolphus, catching her wrist as she started to pass him. "We were just talking."

"And?"

"Tonight's my night to patrol the corridors," he told her, tapping the Head Boy badge on his chest.

Bellatrix arched an eyebrow. "Either say what you're on about, or let's eat, I'm starved."

"We've been talking about having a little fun," said Macnair, "we could all meet in that classroom across from that Barney whoever tapestry—"

"Barnabas the Barmy!" piped up Lucius helpfully, and Jugson elbowed him.

"I've got half a bottle of firewhisky from my dad's cabinet. Nicked it at Easter," Macnair went on, with a proud smile. "It's the weekend tomorrow, why shouldn't we have a night off?"

"Is that all?" Bellatrix asked, rolling her eyes again. "You want to sneak out of the dormitory and have a drink?"

"I think it sounds fun," said Lucius.

"No one invited you, you little squit," said Rabastan, taking a sudden step towards Malfoy and making him jump; the others laughed and Malfoy's pale cheeks turned bright pink.

"It's not like you've got better plans, Bella," teased Jugson, and the other boys (except for Lucius) sniggered.

Bellatrix punched his arm and he flinched in a satisfying sort of way. She made a face at him. "Teach you to call me that, you weird-looking—"

"What's this? You shouldn't be loitering in the entrance hall," said a brisk voice; Professor McGonagall was coming down the stairs. "Get along, now, all of you."

Lucius Malfoy opened his mouth as though he wanted to answer her, but Bellatrix nudged him with her arm.

"We aren't loitering, ma'am. We were just chatting about some homework, weren't we?" she said, looking round at the boys, who all nodded fervently.

"Well, perhaps you can continue your riveting discussion over your dinner," said McGonagall. "What was that, Mr. Lestrange?" She fixed her beady eyes on Rabastan as the others gave a nervous laugh; he had just coughed and muttered a particularly impolite word. Bellatrix laughed out loud.

"Move along, now," McGonagall said coldly.

As they hadn't done anything really wrong—apart from Rabastan, who was smirking trumphantly as they walked into the Great Hall—Bellatrix knew McGonagall had no choice but to let them walk away, which only served to brighten her spirits even more.

She led the group of boys along the far side of the hall to the Slytherin table. It was a lovely day outside, and the darkening sky of the enchanted ceiling still showed purplish-red wisps of clouds.

"Well, I guess I'll join you all tonight," she said to the group, tucking a strand of her long, shiny black hair behind her ear. "If that's the best you've got."

"Should be fun," said Rodolphus, giving her a grin. "What, too good for us?"

"Just too good for you," she said. The others 'oohed' and laughed at Rodolphus, who rolled his eyes.

"If you've got a better idea, let's hear it," he told her.

She shrugged. "Let's go to Hogsmeade. We'll use that secret passage Avery found behind the mirror on the fourth floor and we'll have a bit of fun. Maybe find some unlocked doors." She shared a smirk with Macnair. "The prat can cover for us," she said, jerking her head at Malfoy, who scowled.

"Why would I do that?" he asked sourly.

"Because if you don't, Lestrange'll tell McGonagall who broke into the greenhouses last month," Bellatrix told him.

"You told me I had to do th"

"And you have to do what she says this time, too," Macnair growled, leaning towards him. "Got a problem?"

Lucius looked even more annoyed, but said nothing, poking moodily at his dinner with a spoon. Rodolphus looked at Bellatrix, chewing thoughtfully for a moment. "Brains, Black. That's why we keep you around."

"As though you oafs could get along without me," she said, smiling and snatching the dinner roll out of his hand.