Light Beneath The Black

She wasn't always this way. Somewhere, deep below the insanity that coats her, Bellatrix knows that, once upon a time, she wasn't this way.

There was a time when she was young. When she would smile and fear wouldn't leap into another person's eyes. When she would laugh, a genuine, carefree laugh, rather than the cackle, the only sound of humour she can make now.

The only reason she has to laugh now is because of cruelty.

But she likes it that way. She likes who she is, how she lives.

But there was a time when she and Cissy and Dromeda would sit in the garden, or in her room, and play with dolls, and drink pretend tea.

Wasn't there? She's pretty sure they did, but now she really thinks about it, did they? Is this some pretend image her mind has conjured to torment her? Did they really sit around, happy and young, playing with dolls, drinking air from tiny china cups?

Yes. They did, she remembers. They were young and innocent and happy, once upon a time. They would sit together and talk and laugh.

Because at one time, they loved each other.

(Now, though, Andromeda pretends she has no sisters, and Narcissa looks at her with disgust.)

So how, then, did it happen? How did little Bella, that pretty little thing with the sweet smile and the cute laugh, the one who loved her sisters and played with dolls, how did she become this?

How did she become Bellatrix Lestrange, that woman with the ravaged, haunted looks, with the sadistic smirk and the cackle, who kills innocent people and loves only Lord Voldemort?

Bella asks herself what happened, but she doesn't answer herself. How did the insanity creep into her mind, smother her heart? She doesn't know the answer - no one does.

But there should be an answer, Bella thinks. There's an answer to everything, right?

She raises a hand, the wand pointing at the man on the floor. She doesn't know his name. If she did before, it's forgotten now, too unimportant for her to commit to memory. His face, too, will fade from her memory in a short while; he will become one of many, and after a while her victims' faces blur and fade in her mind. Their screams and pleas and pain all merge together, because Bella doesn't care who they are, what they felt.

He's cowering now, the man, he knows this is his end. She has already killed his wife and his young child, and so the man has nothing more to live for.

He, she realises suddenly, is welcoming his end.

What must it be like to love someone so much that you would rather join them in death than face life without them?

Could she ever love that much?

Bella utters the curse, and the man dies. It's that simple, that easy. It's that black and white. There is no cry of pain, no jerk of the body, no flash of the eyes. One moment his heart beats, the next it doesn't. Simple. Death is simple.

She is devoted to her Lord. And she loves him.

But if he were to die, would she wish to join him? Would she simply cower in a corner and await a curse?

No. She wouldn't, she knows it. Somewhere beneath the insanity, where the old Bella resides, chained and ignored, a childish, near-innocent, voice whispers No. You would survive without him. You did before, remember?

But Bella doesn't answer the voice, because it can't be a part of her. No part of her could sound so childish, not when Bella has ended the lives of children. No part of her could sound so innocent, not when she hasn't been innocent for so long.

(That childish, innocent girl is long dead, replaced by evil, darkness.)

Another day, and the battle is raging. Death surrounds, and Bella is in her element. Death is her friend; she is death's best helper. She fights, she wins, she kills.

She always wins.

Bella wonders, as she spots the bright pink hair across Hogwarts' grounds, why she was able to spend years pretending Andromeda didn't exist, before becoming so desperate to kill her. To kill the child.

Was it when she killed Sirius? Was it then that she decided to rid her bloodline of the impure? Or was she simply unable to block her emotions towards Andromeda anymore? Is her control slipping?

It doesn't matter. Her reasons are unimportant. As long as she commits the act, nothing else is relevant.

She stalks towards the woman, who turns and faces her in shock.

And then, that childish innocent Bella, all that remains of who she used to be, speaks again. It scares Bella that this remnant of her past is growing louder.

She's your niece. She's a mother. She has a baby at home.

But it's too late to turn back now. Too late to pretend not to be evil, not to be heartless and insane. The young women raises her wand. Bella raises hers.

Bella's faster. Bella wins. Bella always wins.

So she kills her, the young Nymphadora. Bella stands over her, looking down at the pale woman. Young. She's very young, Bella thinks. And she looks very innocent. Bella despises innocence. Innocence is weak. This young woman is weak.

You were innocent once.

But she ignores the voice again.

Later, as Bella duels the Weasley woman, knowing she will win again, she remembers Andromeda's child. It will hurt her, Bella knows. It will hurt her enough that her daughter is dead, but it will make it worse to know it was her own sister who brandished the wand.

Normally, she wouldn't care. Bella never cares. She has tortured mothers in front of their children; killed children in front of their mothers. She enjoys it, sometimes. Enjoys causing pain.

And yet, for the slightest moment, a fraction of a second, she feels something near to sympathy for her little sister. She's almost sorry.

The insanity, the evil, smothers that, and Bella pretends it didn't exist.

She taunts the Weasley woman, laughs. And then the curse makes contact, and through the surprise, through the insanity, Bella thinks it's better this way. The old Bella was getting stronger; who knows what could have happened over time. The insanity that had set into her may have slipped away, and then what?

No. It is better for Bella to sink into the blackness, for the light to die, for everything to end.

(She's a Black. If black is evil, then surely she belongs in the dark?)