) Chapter Thirteen – Memory (

It was with a sense of calm that Bella returned to Hogwarts after the Christmas holidays. Her foolish actions from the fall were close to being erased: her parents had no inkling that Bella had ever been pregnant, and her whole family now had no recollection of Bella missing for nearly a week.

The rest of the holidays had been a breeze, with Bella finding herself unable to forget the service that Voldemort had done her. Her meeting with him was surreal, too good to believe. She couldn't forget the soft, whispery sound of his voice and the power that emanated from him. There was truly none to match to the Dark Lord. That he had chosen her to be a Death Eater was an honor that she couldn't begin to feel worthy of, especially now that she had failed her test so miserably. She had taken the gravity of her appointment for granted when she had become distracted by Sirius; she would never do so again.

Bella excused herself from the Slytherins she had been sitting with and nodded to Snape as she walked past him, leaving the Great Hall after breakfast on the first day of classes. Snape nodded discretely, his typically sour expression unreadable.

Snape hadn't said a word about what had happened, and she knew he wouldn't. Modifying his memory would have been so much cleaner, but he was no doubt expecting it when he saw how clueless Andromeda and Narcissa were. Catching him unawares was near impossible – he was always on his guard because of the years of pranks from Potter and Sirius. She would simply have to trust him that he wouldn't betray her humiliation.

There were now only three others who remembered Bella's weakness: Voldemort, Snape, and Sirius. Soon there would be only two.

Bella wasn't intending to seek out Sirius. He would find her. She knew Sirius well enough to know that he couldn't rest well in the knowledge that she was having his child.

And he did seek her out.

As Bella walked through the Hogwarts hallways, adjusting the strap of her backpack on her shoulder, she glimpsed him out of the corner of her eye. He was trailing her, hanging back as the students passed them in the hallway. He must have abandoned his loud group of friends when he saw her leaving the Great Hall in order to speak with her.

Bella's mouth twitched as she forced back a smirk. Could Sirius have made it an easier for her to modify his memory?

The flow of students ebbed. When Sirius and Bella were alone in the hallway, he grabbed her arm.

"We have to talk," he whispered, pulling her into the nearest classroom.

Bella followed him, trying to look a surprised and curious.

When the door was locked behind them, Sirius released a deep breath and studied her. "Why have you been avoiding me, Bella?"

She blinked, genuinely startled at the accusation. "Avoiding you? How am I avoiding you? I'm here, aren't I?"

"Why haven't you replied to any of my owls?"

"Your owls? What owls?"

"The owls I've been sending you all Christmas break!"

"I haven't gotten any owls! You know I was at Grimmauld Place, right?"

Sirius raked his air in annoyance. "I tried both your manor and Grimmauld. Dammit, both our parents must have put up some spells to block any letters from me!"

"What's so blasted important that you had to send me owls where my family would see them?" she demanded.

He faltered. "I...I was trying to stop you from doing anything...stupid..."

She grinned. "Stupid, eh? Like what?"

"Like..." he scratched the back of his neck, "harming the...baby."

Bella giggled delightedly. "What in the world do you think would possess me to do that?"

"I dunno...I was kind of an ass about the whole thing..."

Bella's smile melted. "'Kind of?'"

"Well, a major ass," he admitted. "I don't know, Bella...It's kinda weird to say it. It was easier to write..." His cheeks were red.

"What was?" she asked, taking great pleasure in watching him squirm even if she didn't know what he was getting at.

He locked eyes with her and stepped closer. "That I think we should go through with it."

"With what?"

"Having the baby—together. I mean, we do kinda have something between us, you know? If we get married, it'd be hard at first, but eventually our family will get used to it..."

"You're asking me to marry you?" she clarified, eyes wide.

"Er—yeah." She could have transfigured him into a beet and he couldn't have looked any redder.

Bella chuckled gleefully. "This isn't the most romantic proposal I've ever heard, I'll have you know."

Sirius relaxed at her laugh. He cracked a smile. "Yeah, I know. But...you know...I think I might actually care for you, Bellatrix."

"You think so, mm?" she grinned, sauntering closer to him. He was making this too fun.

He smirked expectantly. "Yeah."

Bella put her hands his chest and slowly slid them behind his robe, down towards where his wand was tucked in the back of his belt. Sirius grinned as she pressed herself against him.

Her lips hovered over his as she whispered, "There's just one problem." Her fingers slid around his wand.

"And that is?" he came back flirtatiously.

Their lips brushed against each others', their breath intermingling.

Bella smiled and murmured, "There—is—no—baby."

It took Sirius a moment for that sentence to register. His faced morphed into shock; he gripped her shoulders and slowly, but firmly, pushed her away from him. Bella slipped his wand behind her back as she moved backwards.

"What do you mean, 'there's no baby?'" he asked in a hard voice.

"It's gone," she said coolly. "I took care of it...with a little help."

"Took care of it!"

"It's gone," she simpered. "Dead."

"You're lying. Even you aren't capable of murder!"

Bella threw her head back, laughing manically. "I'm not capable of murder?" She lifted up her sweater to reveal the pink, puckering scar that ran down her abdomen.

Sirius stumbled back, his face pale.

"You see what lengths I went to to rid my body of your—your vermin?" she screeched.

He looked horrified, unable to peel his eyes from her marred stomach. "It wasn't vermin, it was your own son or daughter!"

"No spawn of yours would I ever call mine!"

"You're insane," he breathed, shaking his head. "Insane."

In a flash of anger, Bella dropped her top and pointed her wand at him.

Sirius jumped and reached for his wand. He fumbled around, searching for it.

"Looking for something, my love?" Bella giggled, pulling his wand from behind her back and twiddling it between her fingers.

Sirius froze.

"Scared, little Sirius?" she taunted, lifting both wands, one in each hand, at him.

He eyed her as if she was a dangerous animal. "How did I ever...?" His voice trailed off; he was incapable of continuing.

"Care for me?" she finished for him. "Love me?"

"I never loved you!"

"Did too! I know what you said about me on the Hogwarts Express. Remember? When you modified my memory like I'm about to modify yours?"

Sirius just shook his head disbelievingly, eyes darting between the wands and her feral eyes.

She stepped closer, wands pointed at his chest. This was her moment of triumph; Sirius was defenseless. She could do what she wished with him. In moments, his memory would be wiped; he would have no remembrance of what he had done to her, how he had driven her to drastic measures to get rid of the abominable parasite.

Then suddenly she stopped. Sirius didn't move as she tilted her head to the side, studying him.

Did she want him to forget? Did she want him to have no idea of the history they shared? Did she want him going through life oblivious to the passion and pain they had inflicted upon the other?

Bella slowly lowered the wands.

"I was going to curse you to high hell, to make you forget this ever happened," she said, then gritted her teeth. "But I don't want you to forget. I want you to remember every little detail."

She raised the wands and advanced on him again. She stared up into his wide, grey eyes.

"I want you to remember every touch, every kiss. I want you to remember how you were such an ass that I risked my life to get rid of your spawn in my body. I want you to remember how your pride led to the death of your own son or daughter."

She paused just out of his reach. A wild giggle surged from her throat.

"I want you to always hate me," she cackled. "Because I may not be able to get away with killing you now, but I will someday. And I want you to want to kill me as much as I want to kill you."

He sneered at her. "Believe me, it'll be a pleasure to rid the world of you. You're a heartless bitch!"

"Getting brave are we?" she asked, jabbing the wands at his throat. "Don't forget who has the wands!"

Sirius made a quick grab for his wand, but she had been expecting it. She flicked the wands, and he was suddenly in the air, suspended by one foot. His robes hung upside down around him.

"Now, doesn't this look familiar?" she taunted shrilly. "It's exactly the same thing you did to Snape, the very person who helped me kill the baby. In fact, he did it himself, saving me the trouble. Fancy that!"

Sirius' face contorted with rage. He made a swipe at her, but she was out of his range.

"You'll pay for everything, you whore!" he growled.

"Oh, poor Sirius!" she mocked in a baby voice. "Hates big bad Bella so much, but can't do anything about it!" Her voice cooled. "You won't even have the courage to tell your friends anything about it. You'll never tell them that you cared for the devious Bellatrix Black, or that you almost had a baby with her. They'll never know. No one will."

She backed towards the door, not releasing the spell on him. Sparks shot out of the end of the wands. His eyes burned with fury.

Her back to the door, she swished the wand, making him drop to the floor in a heap. He righted himself and jumped to his feet.

She pointed the wands at him. "Ah, ah, ah!"

"You won't get away with taking my wand, Bella!" he snapped.

"Oh, I didn't take it," she simpered. "You lost it. A house elf will find it later in some remote part of the castle that you should have never been in. What a bad, bad boy, that Sirius Black!"

His lip curled with hate.

"Have a good first day of classes," she giggled, "without your wand."

She hesitated before leaving, her maniacal eyes staring across the room at the boy she had lusted for. Even loved.

He was nothing but a pathetic child, his robes and hair a mess. He had no idea of greatness, no ambition for glory.

He was nothing compared to Lord Voldemort.

And some day, she would have her revenge; but not this day. Not today.

But one day.

"Goodbye, Sirius."

She swept out of the classroom, shutting the door on him.

And like that, she closed the door on that chapter of her life, never to speak of it again.

But Sirius would always know what had happened. He would always hate her, and she him.

And she would revel in the hatred.

The world would wonder at their animosity, but few would know its source.

All would know that Bellatrix and Sirius had a special hatred for each other, but none would know...exactly why.