Author's Note: Purest crack written for stress relief. Fulfilling Whitetigerwolf's Black Date Prompt, which essentially requests Harry bringing Bellatrix (and/or Narcissa) as his date to the Yule Ball. Since he writes a lot of Fem!Harry, I decided to throw that in as well...
"This is absurd! This is illegal! This is -"
Rufus Scrimgeour sighed heavily as his boss slumped forward, burying her face in her hands. "I'm sorry, Amelia," he said, glancing at Potter's request once again. It did not grow any saner in the rereading. "Amaryllis Potter is within her rights as Triwizard Champion to request absolutely anyone as her date for the Yule Ball."
"Why doesn't she just request Sirius Black while she's at it, for the love of Merlin?" Department Head Bones cried, before burying her face in her hands.
"Didn't you get to the end?"
"Oh Morgana. Don't tell me she's allowed to take two-"
"No, he's not her second date," Rufus hastened to assure her. She let out a sigh of relief. "She has him down as the chaperone."
During the burst of swearing that followed, Rufus decided it was best not to point out the stranger asides in Potter's rambling request.
What did she mean by "This should be perfectly acceptable, since the Dark Lord Voldemort was teaching Defense in my first year"?
"I'd like to introduce you all to my lovely date, who of course was under the Imperius." Amaryllis fluttered her eyelashes sweetly as her lovely schoolmates ran away screaming. "What's frightening you so? She's a victim of circumstance!"
"I always said Lucius was a dickless weasel," her date muttered under her breath. Since she had already thrown all caution to the winds, Amaryllis dared to elbow one of the most dangerous witches of modern times in the side.
"Don't insult the state of dicklessness by comparing it to Lucius." Amaryllis sniggered. "After all, we've done pretty well for ourselves, haven't we?"
Bellatrix grinned back at her, sending a shiver through the students who hadn't already attempted to flee. Behind them, however, was a far more terrible sight - that of Sirius Black doing his best to look respectable.
"Language, young ladies," he said primly. McGonagall glowered at him, for his idea of "respectability" skirted on mimicking her in drag. Worse yet, he had copied her favorite style of robe and intonation exactly. Even worse, being several decades younger and naturally good-looking, he verged on looking better than her while he was doing it! "I won't have you disgracing this august occasion so."
"Ah, you mean I can't tell anyone that Voldemort was the bastard son of a Muggle?" Amaryllis asked innocently, provoking gasps from the audience. "It just doesn't seem like anyone else is going to! Bella was so shocked-"
"Thirty points from Gryffindor for bad language!" Sirius sniffed. "Ten for that terrible word, and twenty for ending a sentence with a preposition!" He fanned himself. "I will not stand for such behavior in my House!"
"I daresay I was bloody shocked to learn my Lord was a half-blooded fake!" Bellatrix announced, ignoring him. "I couldn't believe what the bastard had done to my entire generation - to our parents, even - until Amaryllis showed me his trophy, then dragged me out and gave me a tour of Little Hangleton - showed me the Muggle gravestone -" She whirled on the audience. "The Dark Lord," she spat, "is a FAKE!"
"Two points from Slytherin for language," Sirius said primly. "Can't punish you nearly as much as I do my own students - you poor things don't know any better. And keep your voice down, young lady. We're inside." She made a rude gesture at him. "Oh gracious me. Five points from Slytherin." For a moment, a smile tugged at his mouth. "And ten points to Slytherin for making our parents all roll over in their graves."
"In their graves? I feel like I'm rolling over in mine! And I'm not dead!" She turned back to the audience. "I served the Dark Lord unflinchingly, under the belief he was the savior of our world and the preserver of the old ways," she announced to them all. "Little did I know he would have had a rather difficult time doing so, growing up in the lowest of Muggle orphanages!"
Dumbledore cleared his throat. "If I may ask... when, precisely, did Amaryllis tell you this?" he inquired delicately. "I thought you had just-"
"A Champion may request the presence of her date, if not already present at the school, a day early, so as to properly coordinate outfits and dancing techniques," Amaryllis said dryly. "From the Postscript to Section Twelve of the Rules for Appropriate Organization and Conduct of the Triwizard Tournament. Thank you, Hermione."
The witch in question smirked from her place beside Viktor Krum.
"Oh, and Sirius's clowning around aside, the chaperone must be of good moral character, in addition to being appropriately connected to both members of the couple he is chaperoning," Amaryllis added. "Section Twelve, Paragraph Sixteen. I wouldn't say that someone who betrayed his best friend and his family to their deaths had good moral character, would you? It was almost like he was set up... you know, almost as though that tale I was spouting at the end of last year was true..."
"Potter, you can't expect us to believe the Tournament has impartial abilities of moral judgment!" called a boy in Ravenclaw colors from the crowd. Roger... something? Whatever. Amaryllis waved cheerfully at him.
"Oh, but it does! I mean, it chooses the most qualified student from each school, doesn't it? And its judgments are magically binding, besides! Which is why I couldn't get out of this damned trainwreck..."
As Sirius pretended to take even more points from Gryffindor out of moral indignation, Amaryllis turned to her date and graciously offered a hand. "Let's get to it, Bella," she said. "We've talked enough about some idiot who's spent the last thirteen years possessing squirrels in Albania."
"Indeed," Bellatrix said, and snapped her fingers.
That was the cue for the delicate gramophone to launch into a full-volume rendition of Paint It Black, complete with an unnatural amount of bass.
"And I suppose you'll claim this is covered under Section Thirteen, Paragraph Three?" Snape asked loudly over the music as Amaryllis led Bellatrix onto the floor.
"Oh, no, this is the byproduct of bribing the Weasley Twins beforehand," Amaryllis shouted, making a rude gesture. Sirius was second to enter, merrily performing the Time Warp by himself; everyone else gave him a wide berth. "Good luck restoring Celestina Warbeck!"
Some time later, after the exploding balloons and the battalion of flying, fire-breathing goats (who ever said Albus was the better of the Dumbledore brothers?) and the sentient confetti, Bellatrix leaned on her younger "date" and sighed. "It's a pity all this will be over soon," she said to no one in particular. The saner students, along with the professors, had evacuated; the less sane ones seemed to have found some sort of equilibrium. Sirius had even been joined in his strange dance by a dreamy-eyed third-year, who had seemed to recognize it and complimented him on his knowledge of high culture. "Azkaban awaits..."
"What Azkaban? Clearly you were a victim of time, circumstances, society, parental abuse, and Wrackspurts," Amaryllis said, shrugging. "Worked for Lucius and all his fellow cowards. We'll just claim a mistrial and have you retried with appropriate... processing fees."
Bellatrix eyed the young witch in bemusement. "You're awfully cynical for such a little girl."
"I'm fourteen. I'm just short," the little girl insisted. "And I've had a full life."
"Hmph." Bellatrix stared at the devastated Great Hall for a while, then thought to ask a question. "What's a Wrackspurt?"
"I don't have the slightest idea. Heard it from the girl over there." Amaryllis pointed at the weird witch dancing alongside Sirius. If one could really call that dancing. "Made as much sense as Crabbe Senior's defense."
"What was it? That only sentient beings can be guilty of crimes?"
Amaryllis snorted. They had a companionable silence for a moment. Then Bellatrix asked, "Out of curiosity, why me?"
Amaryllis shrugged. "For the most part, that you were the pigeon-possessor's most loyal servant. People don't care what I say because I've got skin in the game. From you, it carries meaning."
"Ah." Bellatrix sighed deeply. Over a decade of life - nearly two, if she counted her time before Azkaban - wasted in the service of a fraud... "Was that all?"
"Also that you were his most loyal servant." Amaryllis blew a breath out through her teeth. "I was just. You know. Wondering. Since you've already served one half-blood and found it not so bad, whether you might be willing to compromise and work under me, at some point." The girl sighed. "Hopefully after Hogwarts. Though I'm not sure, sometimes."
"What?" Bellatrix recovered after a moment. "I would think your ideals are rather opposite to mine, little girl."
"Don't be so sure," Amaryllis said bitterly. "I've been doing a lot of looking into Wizarding Britain's government lately. I have to agree with Riddle's old saw that the government's a bunch of corrupt, rotten-brained traitors who have sold out their people to indulge their own delusions. I just so happen to think many of those traitors are among his followers."
A humorless smile twisted Bellatrix's mouth. "Don't I know it." How many had attempted to look for the Dark Lord, in the end? How many others found their vows of eternal, undying loyalty burning up in the fires of expediency and blowing away in the wind?
The vows had been to a fake, of course, but they hadn't known that.
"The old ways, to the extent there was ever any good in them, aren't served by a bunch of mealy-mouthed morons, living off the hard work of their honored ancestors and bringing disgrace to their family names merely by continuing to breathe." Amaryllis gazed up at the ceiling, into a sky full of stars. "And all lines were, as you would call them, Mudblooded once.'
"You won't make me agree."
"Yes, I know. Some were magical creatures. Sorry - we were all Mudbloods and half-breeds. Better?" Amaryllis's mouth quirked in a wry smile. "Purity's better served by well-chosen new blood than mere inbreeding, I think."
"You know, Sirius made this argument decades ago." Perhaps she should have listened then.
"I just want you to keep it in mind. After all - Tom Riddle was a powerful wizard. Even if he was also a lying, double-dealing, backstabbing bastard." Amaryllis shrugged. "Dumbledore's a half-blood, too - I came across an aged crone of the Prewetts who was quite happy to give me an earful about his mother lying through her teeth about her lineage. And I'm one as well. Powerful pure lines, like yours, are the exception, not the rule." The girl turned and looked her in the face. "I'll pay for your retrial on either one of two conditions. One, you decide I'm right and follow me, whenever I decide to make a break for it and take over this madhouse myself."
That sort of talk qualified one for the madhouse. It was... likeable. "The second?"
"Oh, that you do whatever you want with your newfound freedom, provided you also systematically hunt down all your old colleagues who left you to die," Amaryllis said brightly. "I'm flexible. And my upbringing made me a little - irrationally vengeful, you could say." She made a cutting gesture with the edge of one hand. "So long as all the bastards suffer, I don't much care what happens to me."
Bellatrix smiled despite herself. "Offer accepted. I'm certain to do the second, at least. And the first... I'll consider it."
Probably not take it. However, what did she know? In less than forty-eight hours, her worldview had been dropped on its head and tossed into the sea. Personally, she added an extra clause to the second condition: that she do whatever she could to hunt down Tom Marvolo Riddle and make him suffer for his deception. That nice little trinket in her vault might be a useful starting place and aid. One didn't calmly endure hell for thirteen years, then find it was all based on a lie, without becoming a little irrationally vengeful oneself. The "Dark Lord" would suffer, he would...
That reminded her...
"The Longbottoms..." she ventured.
"I wondered if you'd bring them up," Amaryllis said. "Their son was the only one, other than my assistants and the appropriate Ministry officials, whom I tipped off to what I was going to do tonight. Figured it would be best not to take him by surprise. He elected not to show, I notice."
"I... regret what I did." A witch and wizard of the best families, driven to madness in a night, for the love of a Muggle's son... Whether or not the "best families" had ever mattered half so much as she'd thought... "It... was a mistake."
"I won't pretend your reasons for remorse are probably anywhere near what I'd have." Amaryllis took a deep breath. "Do you think you could help them?"
"There are rituals to heal unhealing wounds, regarding the willing assistance of the one who dealt them... I suppose it's worth it." Bellatrix grimaced. "Listen to me. I've gotten soft." She took a hank of black hair in one hand. "I'll be going grey before I know it."
A moment later, her hair suddenly went grey, and she glared in Sirius's direction. He innocently continued taking a step to the left, and then a jump to the right. However, he had not quite stuffed his wand down his makeshift bosom in time. "Not toothless, however," she snapped, then looked back at Potter. "As I said. I'll consider it."
"All I can ask," Amaryllis said. There was a sudden rapping at the massive door of the Great Hall. All those who remained in the Hall turned towards it.
"What is that?" Bellatrix asked. Sirius sighed.
"Let me guess. The Aurors?"
"Yeah, rumors of your presence may have preceded you," Amaryllis sighed. "And with midnight upon us, your situational immunity will be timing out."
She fished a bag out of the slightly-padded bosom of her gown. It clanked.
"Don't worry," she said dryly, striding towards the creaking door. "The Wizarding world being what it is, you'll get a new kind of situational immunity shortly."
Author's Note: Became a bit more serious towards the end, but reasonable!Bellatrix is probably more cracky (in the sense of diverging from logic even vaguely connecting to HP-canon) than fire-breathing, flying goats. Thus I deem it to still count.
Hope someone found reading it as stress-relieving as writing it was for me.