A/N: Haven't worked on this in QUITE a while! In fact, have been busy with moving, getting a new job, and all those silly grown-up things, but this needed to be written for Kirixchi's birthday. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Obviously now.

Andromeda didn't come home. Again. Bellatrix stood in the shadows, for once in no mood to shine, and moodily drank from her goblet of absinthe. It had been the second time in as many weeks that Andromeda had gotten into an argument with their parents, about such petty things as the colour of the linens that Ariadne Black wanted to start preparing for her hope chest, and like the last, Andromeda had thrown something against the wall in true Black temper and flown out the window on the broom that had been confiscated from her at school.

It was midnight now, and Aunt Medea was hissing in the corner that Andromeda needed harsher rules-- girls could not afford to be spoiled in this day and age. A part of Bellatrix agreed, furious at her sister for her increasingly rebellious acts-- rebellions that would go nowhere, for Andromeda didn't have the strength to go head-to-head, ultimately, with their way.

Useless! Fiery, heavy-lidded eyes gazed at the family crest on the wall, before flickering to the tapestry opposite. Andromeda-- so very bright, and so very stupid, to choose all the wrong battles! Was it really important whether she had peach-coloured linens or periwinkle ones? Augustus Rookwood, her intended, wouldn't care a whit either way.

And why did these little things matter so much anyway?

Narcissa sat in the corner, angelically quiet, the perfect child, and Bellatrix felt a sudden feeling of inexplicable anger. The only one who never rebelled-- the only one who got exactly as she wanted. SHE never underestimated Narcissa, and respected whatever form of witchcraft her youngest sister wove to keep herself in everyone's good graces forever, but then, why did SHE deserve everything? What did Narcissa HAVE or DO to get it so easily?

Were families supposed to hate each other sometimes?

She didn't know how much more of the ominous quiet and the whispering she could take.

Draining the absinthe, she inhaled harshly at its bittersweet flavour, the burn of the wormwood down her throat, and glanced at her mother. "I'm going for a walk."

"At THIS hour?" Aria asked incredulously. "What in the world are you thinking?"

"To find Andromeda," Bellatrix lied curtly, a bit contemptuously. "She listens to me more than you."

And she had Apparated away before anyone else could say a word. In her wake, Sirius clapped. "Maybe after every one of us leaves, THEN you sods will realize that you have miserable, meaningless lives!"

She ended up in a pub, looking far too out of place as she petulantly threw a handful of galleons on the table and ordered another goblet of absinthe. The men at the pub certainly noticed, and for once, Bellatrix didn't give a damn either way. Delicate features almost shielded by undignifiedly unbound hair, she sat alone, drinking in the bittersweetness and the burn.

It was inevitable that someone would approach her sooner or later, and a drunkard with rotten teeth lurched over, one hand outstretched to caress her satin-clad arm. A moment later, he was on the ground, howling in pain as a barely-legal curse caused sores to break out all over his body. The sharp point of a high heeled shoe dug into the sore on the back of his neck, and the woman attached to it continued drinking. None of the patrons bothered her now, several recognizing her face when she'd lifted her head to cast the hex. It was folly to mess with Miss Black.

A throat clearing above her head had her sputtering, eyes watering as the alcohol went down the wrong pipe. She glared up through a haze of alcohol and melancholy, translated to anger in her meanly-narrowed eyes, and thought she almost recognized the face.

"I warrant that there are people worried about you right now, Bellatrix." The voice she certainly recognized-- husky, arrogant, sardonic, and her fingers clenched around the empty goblet. "Do they know where you are?" He exhibited supreme lack of concern over the prone body of the hexed man at his feet.

"Fuck them," she choked out as soon as she stopped coughing, and then stiffened. When had he laid a hand on her back, and why hadn't she noticed?

"Such foul words to come out of such a beautiful mouth," he tsked, and before she could wrench herself away, pulled her up with one hand, the other dropping a few galleons on the table. "You're getting pissed in public. It's very unbecoming, you know."

"Don't judge me, Mr. Lestrange," she spat in his face, struggling to free her wrist. 'Bastard. Gripping my wand arm... I'll have bruises.' "You know nothing about me."

A pop and a sudden change of scenery, and it was too much for her stomach to take. She retched, the effects of alcohol without food and the Apparation draining her almost as effectively as a hex. He held her hair back just in time, and after she'd finished, wiped her mouth with a handkerchief almost gently.

"I'll have my House Elf run a bath for you, and find something for you to wear," he told her in a tone of uncharacteristic magnanimity. She glared on principle.

"I've no intention of wearing anything that had previously touched any of those Sterling skanks you're so fond of playing with," she snapped.

His lips curved into a devilish grin. "Then you can go about naked. I think I'd actually prefer it that way."

Her aim was a little bit off, impaired by the alcohol, and her hand made contact with his shoulder instead of his cheek. He still winced in pain, and caught her wrist in his grip again. "Now now, my little wildcat, save your fury for later, hmm?" he whispered, snapping his fingers. As soon as the spindly house elf appeared, he ordered it to run a bath, and prepare a draught of hangover potion.

He told himself that he was taking care of her because it would be more satisfying to cross her-- to work her into a passionate fury, when she was fully alert to fight back, and carried her up the stairs to the bath chamber. Leaving her in the capable hands of a pair of house-elves, he left, unaccountably moody. It was disconcerting to see Bellatrix Black brought to this state: fire doused by some poisonous internal battle.

An hour later, Dilly came to report that the lady visitor was clean and had refused every gown that had been presented to her, claiming that she was sure that it had belonged to some trampy whore. Miss Black had thrown the soap dish at Korry, what did Master want Dilly to do?

"Give her one of my robes at present," Rodolphus said lazily, his eyes amused. Dilly bowed and exited, and he smiled to himself at the mental image. And the possible outcomes of her excursion tonight.

A few minutes later, Bellatrix had been deposited in a sitting room upstairs, Dilly cajoling her to drink the hangover draught and eat the biscuits in the platter. She was just about to shoo the House Elf out of the room when Rodolphus entered, a smirk on his swarthy face.

"Looking ravishing as ever, Bellatrix," he drawled, eyes flitting from her mutinous face to the lush, elegant figure, sensuous even in his over-large dressing gown. Black hair and Black hauteur. White skin against burgundy satin. "Do you feel better now?"

"No," she glared at him. "Whatever gave you the impression that I would? And it's Miss Black to you!"

He shook his head, advancing on her with a predatory look in his eyes. "Never that, my dear," he hissed. "Not you." She sprang up, and the robe slipped off one shoulder in her sudden movement. And his control snapped.

She was in his arms, pulled so tightly against him that she could hear his heartbeat, seeming cacophonous in her ear, and his lips were branding hers, tasting like absinthe, and it was strangely fitting and infuriating at the same time. She couldn't help responding-- couldn't stop the moan from escaping between her lips, and one hand tangled into his hair and yanked.

He groaned, the hand which had clasped her waist sliding lower to grasp her arse, lifting her slightly off the ground as the other hand slid down to cup her thigh. She clung to him, now off-balanced, and he drank the rage from her lips, still bittersweet from the absinthe.

"Why do you do this?" she managed to hiss accusingly in between kisses, as he backed her into one of the many bedrooms. "Why do you do this to me?"

"Because I can, and because you're YOU," he replied, his voice harsh from the pain of her fingernails digging into his nape. "You're MINE, Bellatrix. Always."

"Prove it!" she tried to wrench herself away, and only succeeded in ripping a sleeve off the robe in the struggle. He leered at her shocked expression, and pulled her even closer.

"I think I already have," he told her evenly, nipping at her throat. "But I can be more thorough if that's what you desire."

Without giving her a chance to answer, he carried her over to the bed, one hand already clenched around the robe to wrench it open. She shrieked in outrage, yanking once again at his hair, and the screech turned into a moan again when he, undeterred by her vicious attack, seized her lips with his again.

The thought arose unbidden that her parents would be outraged. And a fine thing to be angry over-- far better than stupid linens! She'd show her bloody sisters just how it was done, then! Laughing hollowly, she clutched him closer, and mused that in a way, she'd be using HIM, too. That in itself was a satisfying thought. No one used Rodolphus Lestrange.

He ripped the robe off her body, hands roaming up her sides, and her thought abated in giddy delirium. In her slightly drunken, melancholy state, she thought that she still had complete control.

And perhaps it would turn out that she had.