Title: A Marked Woman

Author: Diggingupophelia/Sapphiretragedy

Rating: PG-13

Characters/Pairing:Bellatrix, Voldemort, Lucius, Rodolphus. Gen. No pairings.

Warnings: None.

Notes: Thanks to my wonderful beta, zanthia122. Comments and ConCrit welcomed. No flames, please. This is my first time writing Bellatrix and I would really appreciate any feedback.

Bellatrix sat alone in the darkened room where the only source of light was a flickering torch. Lucius had left her there to wait for the Dark Lord. Bellatrix felt that she should be frightened, but she wasn't. She was surprised when Lucius had stumbled upon her leafing through a particularly vile book. The book was as old as magic itself and did not possess a title. However, it was dangerous and banned by the Ministry. It was considered to be such a dangerous book that any person found in possession of this book would land himself or herself in Azkaban for a quarter of a century. Lucius had taken the book from her, and mocked her curiosity. She cast a spell and covered him in boils.

"It seems your curiosity is not yet deep enough, my dear. Perhaps I should burn the book and allow you to keep your innocence," he drawled as a sneer played upon his lips. Bellatrix narrowed her eyes in protest and held out her hands for the book. "No? Then are you ready to make the leap? To put to use the lessons found in this book?" He took his own wand from his pocket and removed the boils from his person. "This is child's play, my dear. If you want to play dangerous games, you'd best arm yourself properly."

Bellatrix stared at him. "You had best give me my book and return to the Rose parlor. Narcissa will think you're plotting escape from your engagement."

"Bellatrix, Narcissa will have no concerns of the sort. She's worried for you. She's asked me to help you. Really, it would be quite shameful to your parents to have yet another daughter disappoint them …"

"Don't you dare bring that blood-traitor into this," she spat. She took two swift steps toward Lucius and reached for the book. Lucius pulled it out of her reach.

"Ah, ah, ah. Not so fast, my dear. You haven't the ability to work these spells anyway. At least not yet." He narrowed his eyes as he studied her. "But, I daresay, you can learn. Would you like that, Bella?" he said, smiling.

Bellatrix was quiet for a moment as she thought the proposition over. She didn't quite like the look in Lucius' eyes; there was something menacing dancing in his eyes. She didn't trust that look. "I won't be locked in some hovel while you and your … friends… have your way with me. I swear it Lucius, if that is what you're thinking, I'll kill you here and now. Narcissa will find better."

Lucius let out a chuckle. Bellatrix contorted her face in anger and indignation. "You think it's funny?" She effortlessly retrieved her wand and pointed it at Lucius as she moved toward him. She didn't stop until the tip of her wand was pressing into the pale flesh of his neck. "Is it funny now, Lucius?" she asked, her voice a dangerous whisper.

Lucius kept calm and his voice was steady. "Bellatrix, lower your wand. I don't have time for this silliness today. If you want to learn, I'll bring you to the best teacher. If you don't want to learn, we'll forget this conversation ever happened." His eyes locked with hers. He smirked as he studied her." I see it there, Bella. You want to learn. You want to … what is it you want from this knowledge? Hm? There hasn't been a Slytherin born who learned something for the sake of learning it. So the question I put to you is, 'Why do you want to learn'?"

Bellatrix lowered her wand but kept it at her side. "I want it because I want it. Is that sufficient for you?"

"For me? Yes. For the Dark Lord? No. But he has his ways. You'll see." He made his way to the door and gestured to her. "Get your cloak. I'll take you to him," he said briskly.

"Now?" she asked, surprised.

"If you want to go to him, we go now. His time is precious and at the moment, available. This is your only opportunity. But know this, once you go to him, you will be his forever. Can you do that?"

There was no hesitation on her part. "Take me to him."

A half an hour after that conversation had finished, she was waiting for the Dark Lord to appraise her. She didn't allow herself to think of what would become of her if he didn't approve. Honestly, she was certain he would have her that he would take her under his wing and teach her all there was to know. Bellatrix heard two sets of footsteps approaching in the corridor as well as the hushed whispers she at once recognized as Lucius'. Bellatrix hurriedly tucked her wand into her robes and sat comfortably in her chair. She would not look weak in front of him. Nor would she appear arrogant. She came here for strength and for power and she was not leaving until it was promised her.

"Is this my present, Lucius? Such a beautiful one you've brought this time," he said approvingly. The Dark Lord turned to Lucius and said darkly, "Let us hope, for your sake Lucius, that she is as powerful as she is beautiful."

He then rounded Bellatrix and stood before her. Instinctively, Bellatrix lowered her eyes away from the Dark Lord.

"Such respect. You already understand your place. I like that," he said as he appraised the willing servant before him. "Look at me, so that I may see what your purpose is. It is better that you do not hide things from me. I don't like secrets," he whispered. He placed his pale hand under her chin and lifted her eyes to gaze into his own.

Bellatrix took in the sight of the man before her, a mere echo of the handsome man she surmised he had been. It was a haunting image and she had to restrain herself to keep from gasping. The Dark Lord did not miss this. "Some things are more valuable than beauty and therefore sacrifices must be made. One day, you may come to understand, if I decide to share my secrets with you. Now look into my eyes and tell me yours," he demanded.

Bellatrix inclined her head and allowed the Dark Lord to peer into her mind, to feel out her emotions and her reasons for coming to him. His gaze penetrated her thoughts. He gently sifted through memories. She saw flashes of memories as he watched them. Snippets of her ordering her sisters about, reading from forbidden books, stealing her Mother's wand when she was six to set her sister's doll on fire. There were moments of herself locked in her room to learn from her misdeeds. All she did was scheme and plot revenge.

The final image he pulled from the depths of her mind like chewing gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe. Bellatrix subconsciously tried to hold on to that memory. She had never shared that one. After a more forceful attempt to take what he wanted, Bellatrix relinquished the memory to the Dark Lord:

There she stood book open on the table next to her, wand at the ready, and bird before her. She was working through the motions illustrated in the text while she mouthed the incantation to get the pronunciation down in her mind. Her eyes were open and fixed on the diagram in the book. Her brow was furrowed in concentration. Her concentration was broken when the bird hopped away from its position on the table.

In an effort to avoid any more distractions from her test subject, Bellatrix stunned the bird and then focused her attentions back on the book before her. She set her wand down, and traced the wand patterns in the book with her finger, muttering the directions of the movements silently to herself.

After a few repetitions, she picked up her wand, aimed it at the bird, and attempted to cast the spell. She whispered, "Crucio" and waited.

There was nothing. She lifted the stunning charm and attempted the curse a second time. There was still nothing. The bird didn't even attempt to move. Bellatrix threw her wand down in a fit of anger, took two steps toward the bird, gently picked it up and cooed at it while she snapped its neck. She dropped it and slammed the book shut. Failure was not something she made allowances for.

After fifteen minutes of searching, The Dark Lord had reached his conclusion. He broke his gaze. "Yes, just as I suspected," he said to Lucius. He gave Lucius a pointed look. "Leave us."

Lucius hesitated for a moment and cast a worried look at Bellatrix. He was usually allowed to stay for Markings when he had found the recruit. "I'll wait in the …"

The Dark Lord cut him off. "You'll wait at home. Bella will be returned to her home when we've finished our business."

"Yes, my Lord," replied Lucius as he took his leave.

"That just leaves us, doesn't it, Bella?" he said as he gestured for her to stand up.

Bellatrix stood up and kept her gaze affixed to the ground.

"I have seen why you have sought me out. I have much to teach the willing pupil. Many have sought me out for the purposes of deception and personal revenge. I have no time for that pettiness."

She dared not answer him. She merely nodded her head in assent.

"I see none of that with you. I see great potential with you. I am going to give you one chance to leave. You'll have to fight me for your freedom, but it is the only chance you will get to leave me and not be hunted." He paused. "Do you wish to leave?" he asked as he fingered his wand.

"My only wish is to serve you and your cause, Sir."

A smirk played upon The Dark Lord's lips. "You will make a fine servant. Lucius is under the impression you have only read up on the Dark Arts. He says you haven't had any success in execution of the spells. Tell me, is this true?"

She nodded her head in assent.

"You may speak freely at this moment. Although, I am restraining your freedom to maintain respect, of course."

"Of course, Sir. I have not yet found a competent teacher. My attempts to teach myself have failed, as you have seen. I have yet to be successful," she admitted.

The Dark Lord nodded in understanding. "Perhaps your mistake lies in your desire to see things through. Perhaps it is something more. You, however, are a willing pupil, and I am willing to act as your teacher. You will have your first lesson now. Listen closely, I will not repeat myself."

The Dark Lord tucked his wand into his own robes. He paced around Bellatrix and her eyes stayed fixed to the slightly illuminated hardwood floor.

He began to speak in a tone Bellatrix usually reserved for professors. "The Dark Side needs to be seduced by the wizard or witch. It is not as some would lead you to believe, that the Dark Side seduces the curious and unsuspecting young wizard or witch.

"You must tempt the Dark Side to you. You must prove to it that you are worthy to wield it. It will have nothing to do with the weak of mind or those who are weak by way of power. In short, seduction is in order.

"Seduction is an art. You, no doubt, are aware of its nuances and finer points. You must imagine the Dark Arts to be, for lack of a better analogy – an unsuspecting lover who knows not of his own desire for you. Make it want you more than you want it. Only then can you control it, possess it. Do you still want me as your teacher? I'm sure Lucius would be more than willing if you find my approach unorthodox."

"I would be more than honored to have you guide me."

"Sit," he ordered. Bella did as he ordered. "Patience is the most important lesson you shall learn. I know you can feel the power pulsing around you. It's ignoring you; it won't let you use it because you don't want it enough. I know you are anxious to feel this power with in you, but you must wait."

"Sir, I have been …" she began. She did not want him to think her incompetent.

"Silence," he barked. "You need to open your mind, and find what it is you are searching for," he instructed in an authoritative whisper. "Open your eyes and look at me."

Bellatrix looked into his eyes and saw a flash of red as he accessed his own memories. Her head was flooding with pleas for mercy, flashes of light ranging the spectrum, and the fearful screams of those sentenced to death by the Dark Lord. She saw Muggles and wizards alike writhing under the force of what she knew to be the Cruciatus. The screams nearly brought a smile to her face. There were flashes of the grotesque (disembowelment hexes and the like), the tranquil (the Avada Kedavra), and the mundane (like Furunculous as she had used on Lucius). All were used to create pain for the victim and pleasure for the person wielding the wand. She wanted that power. Her hand itched to reach for her wand so she could set to learning.

"Do you like what you see? Most people wretch or faint from the sight of that. There are a select few who react the way you do. Let's see if we can get you to make a man beg you for mercy tonight, shall we?" It was a rhetorical question. He walked over the door from which he had entered and said something to the person standing guard over the room. He returned to Bellatrix. "Shall we learn the spell? Stand up and come to me."

Bellatrix stood up, unfastened her cloak and draped it over the chair she had just vacated.

"May I retrieve my wand, Sir?" she asked as she looked directly at the hem of his robes. She took note of the fact that they were of the finest quality. She wasn't sure why this detail held her attention, but it did.

"You have no need for it as of yet. Come here and I'll teach you the proper movements of your wand. Stand in front of me with your back to me," he directed. Bellatrix did as she was told. It was an eerie feeling to turn her back to him. She sensed it was not something that was done often. Under normal circumstances to turn your back to him would mean instant death, of that she was certain. He stepped up close behind her. Her body tensed. She had consented to learn the Dark Arts, not be some toy.

"Relax, Bella. Your virtue is not the thing I desire. It is your servitude I want. If your mind is clouded with other thoughts, this lesson will be pointless," his tone was sardonic.

Bellatrix relaxed and took a breath. She could feel warm breath from the Dark Lord dancing over the exposed flesh of her neck. She was hyper aware of the tendrils of hair on her neck swaying back and forth across her flesh as he spoke to her. Every inch of her flesh seemed to be coursing with an electric current. Every motion he made reverberated to her core and made her feel stronger. She felt she could become one with his power if only she could please him.

"Do you feel it pulsing around you, Bellatrix? It is quite something isn't it? Soon it will be yours to control. Now," he began. His hands rested lightly on her shoulders to steady her. His right hand trailed down her right arm. His touch was feather light, but Bellatrix could feel his strength radiating from his touch. She swallowed hard and concentrated on steadying her breathing. The Dark Lord raised her arm by the wrist. "Feel the motions of the spell. Memorize the feeling," he repeated as he directed her arm in a complicated series of arcs and cutting motions. "Have you memorized it?"

"I have, Sir," she replied. She attempted to retrieve her wand from her robes. His hand pressed against hers.

"You're not ready, yet. You need to be sincere in your desires for the curse to work. You must want the pain. You cannot cast an Unforgivable such as this, or any other Dark spell, and not mean it. You need to intend to cause harm and see it through. That is the only way. You must rid yourself of your inhibitions and just do."

There was silence as Bellatrix mulled over the words that had been spoken to her. She was missing pure desire for harm. There was still something holding her back. She had to break free from her conscience.

"I like it when my students are eager to please me," he continued. "I want to see you master this, Bellatrix." He turned toward the door and called, "Rodolphus, please escort our guest in."

The door creaked open. Bellatrix had her back to the door but she could hear one set of footsteps accompanied by a scuffling noise. "Do you want me to stun him, my Lord?" asked Rodolphus as he struggled with his captive.

"No, it would negate the purpose of Cruciatus if he were already incapacitated," he replied coolly. Set him in the chair and make sure his binds are tight."

Rodolphus' eyes raked over Bellatrix's body. "Yes, my Lord," he answered distractedly.

"Rodolphus, this is Bellatrix. She will be joining our ranks if this goes well." Bellatrix took note of a gleam in the Dark Lord's eyes. It seemed as an afterthought he turned to Rodolphus and asked, "Rodolphus, Lucius had to leave, would you care to observe in his place?"

"Anything you desire, Master." Rodolphus took his post at the edge of the room near the door to watch the task at hand.

The Dark Lord resumed his station directly behind Bellatrix. "Wand at the ready," he directed. He spoke close to her ear, "Remember to feel the spell." He took a step back and waited.

There was a half a second of hesitation before Bellatrix lifted the wand and allowed her body to dance with the Darkness. With each arc of the wand she became more interesting to the forces around her, and they invaded her. The power seeped into every fiber of her being and pulsed through her. Yet, it was still not enough. The man tied to the chair gave off a whimper and then stilled. That was not the wailing and writhing she had been hoping for. Her eyes grew wide with fury. She dropped her wand to her side. "Still, nothing. Where were his screams, Sir," her voice an angry whisper.

Voldemort stepped behind the man tied to the chair. He placed his hands on the tops of the chair and leaned forward. A sinister smile crossed his face. "Do you see where you've gone wrong, dear?" his tone was one of amusement.

"Sir, I wanted it. I truly did. In the depths of my heart …"

The Dark Lord put up his hand to stop her from speaking. "Think, Bella. The heart has no place in the Dark Arts. The heart is a weakness. In order to command the Darkness, the heart must be paralyzed. That is a task you will never fully master. You will always have occasional relapses of emotion springing from your heart. It is why I am to be your Master and you are to be my servant. The heart is what separates me from you. Never forget that, for it is what keeps you beneath me.

"That being said, it is entirely possible for you to temporarily paralyze your heart to do your duty. Take up your wand and try again. This time, speak the incantation – it seems you haven't enough energy to command it in nonverbal terms. In time, you shall overcome that obstacle. Now do as you set out to do. Make this man beg you for mercy," he said backing away from the chair and making his way to stand behind Bellatrix.

Bellatrix raised her wand. There was no hesitation. "Crucio," passed her lips in a whisper. She was afraid she hadn't said it with enough conviction, but her fears were allayed a second later when the man was screaming in agony. His thrashing was so furious he toppled the chair. The scraping sound of wood rubbing against wood crossed in the air with the steady screaming of the man. Bellatrix dared not lift her wand. She focused her energies on causing pain. A maniacal laugh escaped from her body without her knowledge.

The feeling was incredible. It was a building up of every ounce of hatred she had ever harbored. The rage and indignation was coursing through her veins as the Darkness penetrated her being and enveloped her. The power was rising inside of her, she was able to guide it and manipulate it to fulfill her desires. She felt whole. She had found the missing piece of her being. She never wanted to let the power wane. She wanted to be in this state of bliss and completion forever.

She only lifted the curse when the Dark Lord placed an arm on her shoulder to stop her. He applied pressure to her wrist to force her to drop her wand to her side. He stepped close to her whispered his praises, "See. Freezing the heart makes room for the power to flow through you." He stepped away and said in a normal tone, " You commanded it beautifully, didn't she Rodolphus?"

"Yes, Master," he replied. He turned to Bellatrix. "That was a most eloquent execution of the curse, Bellatrix."

Bellatrix nodded her head in acknowledgement to Rodolphus' comment. She only half heard it. She watched the man on the floor twitching from residual pain. His whimpers of pain were melodious to her. Her wand arm was shaking. She wanted to take her wand to him again. The Dark Lord kept a firm grasp on her wrist. "That is all for today, Bellatrix. We mustn't rush these things. Remember, you must court the Darkness."

Bellatrix grudgingly placed her wand inside her robes. Her eyes were fixed on the man before her. She took much delight in his torment. She merely gave a curt nod to indicate she had heard his advice.

"Bellatrix, come kneel before me," drawled The Dark Lord as he drew his wand from his robes. "You have shown you have aptitude. You have shown you know your place. Your mind tells me that you will not deceive me and that you will be loyal. I must mark you as mine. You will call me Lord and Master. You will do my bidding to further my cause. Do you accept your servitude?"

"Yes, my Lord," she replied.

"Hold out your left arm," he ordered.

Bellatrix lifted her arm from her side and offered it to the Dark Lord. He lifted her arm toward him by her wrist. He slipped his cold hands into the arm or her robes and folded them over until her forearm was exposed. He turned her arm, so that her palm was facing up. His cold rough fingers trailed up her wrist to the patch of perfect flesh just below the crook of her arm.

Bellatrix fixed her gaze on her arm. She had heard of the Dark Mark, yet she had never seen one. And now, now she was going to be Marked with one. She watched as he his wand trailed over the flesh of her arm. A searing pain invaded her body, yet she did not make a sound or move. She watched as the faint tendrils of smoke emanating from her burning flesh tangled with each other in the air and vanished as quickly as they had arrived. When he was finished the Dark Lord ran his fingers over the Mark. It burned as fiercely as it had when he set it upon her arm. She merely stared at the Mark.

"You do not cower from the touch. I have seen stronger men tear up when I call them. The pain is too much for them to handle."

"Then perhaps, they are not worthy servants, my Lord," replied Bellatrix, looking only at his hand on her arm.

"Indeed," he replied. He offered her a hand and bid her to rise. "You will return here every day for tuition. When you have finished, you shall be brought into the Trusted circle. You, my dear, will hold a special place if things play out the way I want them to." He paused. "Practice what you've learned tonight. Remember to feel it and to paralyze your heart."

"Yes, my Lord," she replied. A grotesque mockery of a smile darkened her beauty.

"Rodolphus, please escort Bellatrix home. And you will pick her up tomorrow evening and bring her here, understood?"

"Yes, my Lord," Bellatrix and Rodolphus replied simultaneously.

The Dark Lord watched the pair leave his sight. He saw the beginning of a beautiful partnership. He would have to reward Lucius accordingly for his find. In order to celebrate the Dark Lord turned to the man lying unconscious on the floor. "Ennervate," he whispered. The man stirred. He looked to the Dark Lord and gave a pleading whimper.

"To quote my dear old Professor, 'Death is naught but the next great adventure'. You shall find it amusing, I should hope. Rest assured, that you will never find me where you are going."

"Please, my wife, my children," begged the man, weakly.

"Don't worry, I shall seek them out next. Then no one will have to worry for their well being." He pointed his wand at the man who closed his eyes preparing once again for the pain associated with Cruciatus. Instead there was a flash of green light and the man's head lolled to the side. He was dead.

"Muggles. I'll have to get someone to clean this up," muttered The Dark Lord as he left the room. The day was over; he could steel away to plot for tomorrow now that this business was finished.

Fin