Title: Bees and Butterflies

Author: keelhaul lizzie

Pairing: mentions of SiriusxRemus, NarcissaxBellatrix, RodolphusxBellatrix and LuciusxNarcissa

Rating: PG-15, perhaps.

Genre: Drama

Summary: Bellatrix, Narcissa, and Sirius, and the importance of blood, among other things. Slash, maybe.

Warnings: slash, femmeslash, incest, and all that good stuff

Date: December 31, 2004

Author's Note: Wrote this ages ago and only thought to post it now. Oh well.

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i. off with their heads

"Heads will roll!" the Queen of Hearts had said, axe in one hand and wineglass in the other. And so they did; the heads of the house elves in their own warm, sticky blood, rolling across the lawn and sometimes into the garden with the birds and bees and butterflies. And how Bellatrix would clatter excitedly down the stairs (making sure to wake her sisters) and outside; "oh, mummy, he was my favourite one, won't he look lovely on the wall?"

"Elladora, darling," the Queen's sister had said the first time (because there's a first time for everything), "what a lovely idea!"

And so the heads rolled, into the gardens and past the fountains, because it was tradition, and the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black loved it so. Oh, and Narcissa and Bellatrix and Regulus, the good children, they'd gather around in their best Sunday dress and watch as the flies gathered around, crawling in the eyes and mouth, maggots gathering in the filth.

Once the axe was tucked neatly back into glass and velvet and the blood was washed off the marble and the grass, all that was left was the heads in the hallway, strung along neatly like stars, mounted prettily on silver and cherry.

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ii. blood is thicker than water

At 12 Grimmauld Place, tea and biscuits were served at 2:00 sharp, on silver platters with china cups, carved with the Black Family crest and patterned with flowers, served by house elves before their heads came off.

Standing in the sickly heat of August, Bellatrix pounded on the doorknocker snake and ran inside, looking at Auntie's collection of heads (not as impressive as her mother's, the Queen of Hearts, though... she had started it, after all) and all the pretty trinkets that lined the shelves, full of blood and bones.

The whole family was there, and they watched as Araminta swung the axe down for the thousandth time, just in time for tea. It wasn't just tradition, it was a social event, fit for parties with wine and sculptures of ice.

Sirius, though, had sat in his room, flipping through Muggle comics and chewing Muggle bubblegum while listening to Muggle rock-n-roll.

Up, up, up the stairs Bellatrix went, and pushed the door to his room open, crinkling her nose because it smelled like wet dog and dirt and the childhood she had left behind with the flies in the heads of house elves.

"What do you want?" Pop! went the gum as he turned the page.

"My mum said you've got a friend who's a werewolf." A many-ringed hand came up to toy with the pendant at her throat, a coiled silver snake with emeralds set in for eyes, wide and staring. "I bet he's your boyfriend."

"So?" His eyes flicked up from the page. "You look ridiculous."

Bellatrix smiled at his worn, tattered robes and said, "So do you. And you're odd and skinny and you like boys, and when you grow up you'll turn into a Muggle and your blood will curdle."

Blood meant everything, and she hated how few golden lines there were separating her from him on the family tree. She worried she'd get the same mind-sickness her cousin had, the one that made him so off.

"There's tea downstairs, you know."

"Bugger off."

All night she sat and traced patterns on her sister's skin, like the lines on her family tree, like the veins under her pale skin; traced them with her fingers and her mouth.

She smiled.

Yes, blood meant everything.

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iii. rings on her fingers and bells on her toes

Bellatrix still liked to clatter down the stairs, her pale legs flying beneath the black satin and silk, bracelets clicking at her wrists and cameos resting at her collarbone.

"Rodolphus has asked me on a date," she said, flinging her arms around Narcissa's (her good sister's) neck and planting a lipsticked kiss on her cheek.

Narcissa scowled, her blonde curls falling into her face as she rested her head on her sister's bony shoulder. "I hate him. He's a prat."

Bellatrix's wine-coloured nails scraped against Narcissa's skin as she stroked her cheek. "I'm sorry." She smiled. "You'll have fun going out with Lucius, won't you?"

"Of course," came her immediate reply.

As Bellatrix left, all mystery and seduction, Narcissa fell against the pillows of her bed and imagined the glittering gold snakes of her family tree, slithering and extending, making new blood-ties, more secrets in the night, more heads rolling into roses.

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iv. run baby run

In the sickly heat of another August, Bellatrix laughed and cried and felt hate broiling in her veins as blood-ties were broken. Blam! Auntie's cigarette came down on the family tree, and the hot ash seared Sirius out of existance, the fibre burned away, leaving a small window to the dull sitting-room wall.

Andromeda was already long gone, her room full of Narcissa's pretty clothes, rubies and red silk and dreamy gauze that barely covered her breasts, and now Bellatrix supposed that Sirius's room too was to be filled with lovely and useless things, collecting dust, forgotten.

Just like they should be.

Blood traitors, children of filth. Something had gone bad in their blood, and Bellatrix and Narcissa and Regulus, the good children, reckoned their heads were full of flies and writhing maggots.

"I knew it would happen, you know," the Queen of Hearts said, running her thinly veined hands over the hilt of her axe. "Sirius was a terrible son." She shot her sister a sympathetic look, patting her frail arm with her other hand. "Not that I blame you, dear."

She shook her head. "No. Of course not." A smile. "I still have Regulus, though, of course. He's a good boy, and he's made me so proud..."

The tea came round, same time as always, and they began talk of Regulus's wedding; "oh, didn't the bride look so lovely, she's so pretty in pearls!"

Bellatrix moved to the backyard.

"Blood-traitors need to pay the price," she said to Narcissa, bracelets jingling loudly as she swung her arms like she would the axe.

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v. it's a nice day to start again

The day Bellatrix wore ribbons in her hair and pearls at her throat, and people toasted her (to blood-ties, they said) with Auntie's old wineglasses (the ones with the family crest on them) was the day when a new glittering line snaked across the tapestry and made up for one of the cigarette burns.

One, at least.

Regulus was dead, Auntie was dead, but Bellatrix, she was alive, and she clasped at the ring on her finger and laughed at them all.

"I'm so happy for you," Narcissa said, giving her a conservative hug that felt so foreign she wanted to scream. But they were big girls now.

There were no elf heads to sever that day, but Bellatrix grabbed the axe anyways and chop-chop-chopped at a piece of wood, laughing because it was servant's work.

She brushed the dirt from her knees as Rodolphus's hand snaked around her waist, and they waltzed along to the sound of the record player.

"Oh, isn't she graceful!" they said.

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vi. the sweetest thing

Blood-traitors need to pay the price.

Her own blood tasted bitter in her mouth, and the arms that clutched at her wand like an axe were too pale, too thin.

Sirius was dead.

The heads rolled to a stop, and Bellatrix laughed.