) Prologue (
I've been called crazy.
Before my untimely demise, I, Bellatrix Lestrange, was the most feared witch in the world. Seemingly at random, I would torture and kill. I caused pain just for my pleasure.
What people never knew was that there was a method to my so-called madness. Oh yes, I certainly enjoyed the "despicable" acts I performed, but I did them for a reason:
They all—every sick, pathetic one of those whom I've hurt—deserved every drop of pain I gave them.
Every. Single. One.
Especially my cousin, Sirius Black.
) Chapter One - Revenge (
"Bella? There you are!"
Bellatrix Black's head snapped around to see who had called her name. She rolled her eyes in irritation when she saw who it was: her goody-two-shoes younger sister, Andromeda. She had just entered the library of their parents' mansion where Bella had been reading.
"What?" Bella snapped, throwing the thick book onto the pile next to her. She always liked to get a head-start on her readings before school started, and since it was beginning in only three days, she was reading as fast as she could. It allowed her to focus her attentions on other things at school, more important things than the simple, safe spellwork taught at Hogwarts.
"Mother's looking for you," Andromeda replied in a voice that showed her disapproval of Bella's attitude. She was always doing that—disapproving of anything Bella did. It was rather grating on the nerves.
"Where is she?"
"In your bedroom."
Bella's stomach dropped. What was Mother doing in there? Bella had already packed for the journey to Grimmauld Place, so what was wrong?
She glared at her brown-haired sister, but stood up and said, "Don't touch my stuff."
Andromeda rolled her eyes. "As if I wanted to."
Bella brushed past her, leaving the expansive library behind her. She wandered through her parent's large mansion, went up a large flight of stairs, and entered her own bedroom. Her tall, raven-haired mother, Druella, was standing in front of the window on the opposite side of the room from the door, looking out over the mansion grounds.
"Mother?" Bella asked, walking in. "Andra told me you wanted to see me."
It was a foreign feeling, having her mother in her bedroom. Druella hadn't been in there since before Bella had started school at Hogwarts six years before.
Druella turned around. "Yes, dear. Come in."
Dear? Bella thought incredulously. She must have something up her sleeve! She never calls me dear.
She only ever called Andromeda "dear." She was the special daughter in the family. Seventeen-year-old Bellatrix, as the oldest, could do no right in her mother's eyes, while Andromeda, fifteen years old, could do no wrong. Their youngest sister Narcissa, thirteen years old, was often ignored by her parents and had been taken under Bella's wing.
Bella hesitantly entered her own bedroom and sat on the bed as Druella indicated. "What is it?"
"Bellatrix, I have something to talk to you about," Druella said, almost amiably. "It's about your former cousin."
Ah, Bella thought. Him. She had been surprised that Druella hadn't brought him up before.
"You know who I am referring to, of course," Druella continued.
"Of course. Sirius."
Druella whipped her head around to look at her and said harshly, "For your own sake, don't ever mention His name again in this house again. And especially not in front of your aunt and uncle tomorrow!"
"I know better than that!" Bella said indignantly. "If I mention Him, Aunt Walburga will start crying and Uncle Orion will start screaming! That ruckus is more than enough to shut even my gaping mouth." Bella was often criticized for her sharp tongue.
Druella relaxed a notch. "Good. The reason I bring Him up is because the term is starting, and unless He has completely lost all of his faculties and quit school—which wouldn't surprise me in the least—you will see Him there."
"And I must make it extremely clear that you are to have nothing to do with Him."
"But I thought Orion and Walburga are still trying to make Him come home," Bella said. "What harm is there—"
"He has rejected their final offer," Druella said. "And from this moment forward, His name is never to be mentioned by any self-respecting Black."
So, Sirius's parents had been trying to get him to come back home and were soundly rejected. That wound on their pride must have hurt a great deal, considering he was giving up his Black family for the Mudblood-loving Potters, with whom he had been staying all summer.
"It matters little to me whether I can talk to Him or not," Bella said indifferently. "He and I have never kept company at school since we are in different Houses."
She wasn't saying that for Druella's sake; it was true. Sirius and Bella had interacted only at family functions, and only because they were the same age and there was nothing better to do.
"You don't seem upset that your betrothal has been cancelled, then," Druella said. "Good. Had Siri—He turned out better, He would have been a fine match, but under the circumstances it is impossible…"
Bella blinked in surprise. "Honestly, I had completely forgotten about that! Trust me, Mother, I don't shed any tears over the loss of my dear ex-cousin as a husband." She and Sirius had been unofficially intended for each other since they were born; the Blacks loved to intermarry in order to keep the bloodline pure.
Druella studied her daughter sharply. "I hope this doesn't mean that you have forgotten your obligation to marry a pure-blood, has it?"
"Of course not!" Bella replied quickly, bushing back her long, black hair from her face. "It just didn't occur to me that a result of His rebellion was that our marriage was cancelled, that's all, but it's a nice bonus. He and I were never overly-excited about the match, and that is putting it mildly."
Before Hogwarts, Sirius and Bella had been playmates and got along amiably, but as soon as they had been sorted into separate Houses, (she into Slytherin, he into Gryffindor), their closeness had waned to the point where they no longer spoke.
Druella stood up. "It appears that we understand each other. You are never to speak to Him again, and you must make sure your sisters do not as well. I have already spoken to them."
"I understand completely, Mother. I have no desire to speak to Him whatsoever."
"Excellent," Druella said, a small, rare look of approval showing on her hard-but-beautiful face for a moment. She walked to the door and said as she went, "We are flooing to Grimmauld Place after breakfast tomorrow, so be sure you're ready with all of your things."
Grimmauld Place epitomized the spirit of the Black family. Though it was elegant, it was dark even in the daytime, and had a certain smell of history and superiority. The walls were lined with family pictures, people who had done great things for the wizarding world over the ages. Bella felt a certain unexplainable bond with the building, and was one of the few people that knew every room by heart.
It was always the first stop Bella's family made on the way to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. In years past, Bella's family would come a week or so before school to shop in Diagon Alley, but with the tension at Grimmauld Place since Sirius had run away, they had decided not to impose upon them this year and opted to only stay one night before the girls and their cousin Regulus left on the Hogwarts Express.
After stepping out of the large, grand fireplace in the living room behind her daughters, Druella greeted her sister-in-law, Walburga.
"Druella!" Walburga said, holding out her cheek for Druella to kiss. "Where is my brother?"
"He's off on work," Druella said, waving her hand airily to indicate that she couldn't care less that her husband was away on business—as usual. "It's just me and the girls this year."
That's what she says every year, Bella thought.
She wasn't bitter about her father's absence from her life, because that's how most of the fathers that she knew were. The thing that annoyed her was the way her mother, like most wives, was in denial about how uninvolved her husband was. Why hide the truth when everyone knew it?
Bella, Andromeda, and Narcissa were standing in the living room, awkwardly clutching their large suitcases in their hands as they watched their mother talk.
Narcissa's pretty, pale face was turning red from the effort, so Bella said, "Mother? May we bring our suitcases upstairs?"
Truthfully, she wasn't intending to drag her suitcase up two flights of stairs; it was her subtle hint to her Aunt Walburga to call the house-elf to carry their things up. Druella stopped her conversation with her sister-in-law to glare at her eldest daughter, but Walburga caught the hint fast enough that Druella couldn't berate her.
"Kreacher!" Walburga hollered.
A hideous house-elf came stumbling into the room and bowed. "Yes, Mistress?"
"Bring the suitcases upstairs to the guest rooms," Walburga said, not even looking over at Kreacher. "Then fix us a brunch."
Kreacher bowed low again, saying reverently, "Anything for the Mistress."
"Then stop groveling and get to it!" Walburga barked.
As Kreacher took their suitcases away, Bella smirked at the foolish elf. He was, perhaps, the most pathetic one she had seen in her life, and that was saying something, because all house-elves were pathetic and worthless. Kreacher lived to serve his family. Even though they abused him, he seemed to enjoy it.
When Kreacher had left, somehow dragging all three suitcases upstairs, Druella asked, "Now, where's my dear nephew Regulus?"
"Oh, he's off with some of his friends, enjoying the last day of the holidays. He'll be back later," Walburga said. "Now, how 'bout we go into the dining room and have some tea and catch up before you all go off again?"
A little bit later they were all seated around one end of the long, skinny dining room table, snacking on crackers and sipping on tea. Kreacher was stumbling around in the background, refilling their drinks and bringing out more food. They all ignored the house-elf—all except for Narcissa, who stared at him with wide, blue eyes over her cup of milk.
"And then some fool at the Ministry proposed—get this—that maybe it would be appropriate to give rights to house-elves!" Walburga was saying. She always knew the latest gossip from the Ministry of Magic, what with living in London.
"No!" Druella exclaimed, putting her hand on her heart. "That's the most absurd thing I have ever heard! It's not like they have feelings."
Bella smirked, agreeing with her mother and aunt. Those things, have rights? The right to what? Lick the bottom of their master's shoe twice instead of once?
Just then, the door flung open and Regulus came running in, his face tan and black hair messy. He was one year younger than Sirius and Bella, and had an easy-going expression on his face.
"Regulus!" Walburga said. "So glad you could join us!"
Bella noted how especially nice she was being to him.
She's probably deathly afraid of losing another son, she figured.
"Would you like some food?" Walburga continued.
"No thanks, Mum," Regulus replied. "I just came to see if the girls want to come upstairs and play a game or something. A couple of my mates just went up there and are picking one out."
"Sounds excellent," Bella said. "May we be excused, Mother?"
As much as she was interested in hearing the latest news from the Ministry, she was more interested in catching up with some of the Slytherin boys from Hogwarts.
Druella nodded, and her three daughters stood up and followed Regulus out of the room.
As they rushed up the flights of stairs, Regulus said, "Golly, it's good to see you all! This place has been positively stuffy with all of the drama with—you know who."
Bella was interested to see what Regulus thought of it all and asked him.
"Eh!" he replied. "I think Mum and Dad are taking it a bit too hard, but—He—said some bloody terrible things to them. They had an awful row before He left. All summer there have been owls back and forth between us and the Potter's place—a couple of howlers too!—but nothing's been resolved. They all just keep getting angrier and angrier, and now Sir—I mean, He—can't even come back if he wants to! They've disinherited Him, and it's as if He never existed now!"
They entered the family room on the second floor. There were five other Slytherin boys there, four of whom were in Regulus' year (sixth), and another, Rodolphus Lestrange, who was in Bella's year (seventh). Lestrange was a very handsome young man with a very large ego. All of the Slytherin girls fawned over him, and Bella had made a point not to join their crowd, so she merely nodded at him as she did with the other boys when she, Regulus, and her sisters came in.
"You're talking about Him, aren't you?" Lestrange asked snidely, catching the last of their conversation.
"Yes," Regulus sighed, "but enough about—"
"Nasty git, that one," Lestrange scoffed. "Never liked him. Gryffindors never turn out right."
"I don't know about that—" Andromeda started, but was cut off.
"True that!" another boy added. Everyone called him by his last name, Avery, and Bella didn't even know his first name; she never cared nor bothered to ask. "All those blasted Gryffindors think they are the best people in the world and that everyone should worship them."
"But—" Andromeda started.
"Shut up, Andra!" Bella snapped, annoyed and embarrassed that her sister might be thinking of defending their enemy House.
"But not all Gryffindors are evil, just like not all Slytherins are—" Andromeda said.
"Are what?" Lestrange asked suspiciously, and the rest of group leaned in to hear what she was going to say.
Andromeda suddenly looked scared. "Are—are purebloods."
Bella's face was red. "Don't listen to Andromeda. She's too young to know what's she's talking about."
"But Severus is—"
"Shut up, Andra!"
Andromeda jumped and bit her lip, cheeks flaming.
"Wow, I can see that even though Andromeda may be soft on Gryffindors, Bella here sure isn't!" Regulus laughed uncertainly.
"Eh, she's right," Avery said. "James Potter is the most pompous bloke I ever laid eyes on."
Regulus flinched at the mention of Potter, and his face hardened. "He's the nastiest piece of work I've ever met. I don't care if he's pure-blood, he's a traitor, and turned my brother into one too!"
Lestrange's face melted from an angry look to a conspiratorial one. "I think we should get back at those idiots. You know, show everyone that you can't betray your family like He did, or help someone to like Potter did, and not expect trouble."
Bella's thin mouth twisted into a smile. Scheming was her favorite thing to do.
"What did you have in mind?"