disclaimer:: i do not own.

warnings:: nongraphic sex, language

a/n:: i titled this story as such because sirius is, after the sun, the brightest star in the sky. it is a companion and/or sequel of my fic "if this were a riddle." it is not in any way compatible with "the dopplebeater defense" or "one of the few." what's more, it is an au. just thought i'd clear that up, in case you didn't hear me the first time. it is primarily bella/voldie, but sirius plays a significant role, so i decided to label it sirius/bella as well.

this prologue picks up near the end of book five; bella's interactions with her master leave her with questions that she believes only sirius can answer. rather than fight in the battle of the department of mysteries, she waits in the hallway by the courtrooms, and coerces her cousin to join her.

IMPORTANT: when i first posted this chapter, it was only a page long. i have since significantly added to it, making it more presentable and explanatory. if you've only read the original, i highly suggest that you read the new version… it clears a lot of things up.

::brightest in the sky::


::when i'm far away::

bellatrix is weak. like an insect under a rock that has just been overturned, a gaunt, skeletal, crawling thing, who lives in the basement of an inn and feeds off plates of god-knows-what that the bartender brings down for her. some days she is pretty sure it's dog food on that chipped ceramic plate, but she eats, because it is one of the few things she remembers how to do.

her husband has left the equation; their master has sent him away on a mission, and he has not returned. she suspects this was done intentionally. the basement is always lit dimly, not bright because after years without much sunlight it's all too dazzling and she can't take it. she thinks she's been here months, but it could have been five minutes or an eternity, in prison she lost track of time, and learned that time itself is irrelevant.

at first she could not stand, having spent the final five or so years of her captivity lying on the cold stone floor, unmoving, surrendering to the despair that mingled with the icy wind and wafted from cell to cell.she can stand upright, now; the desolation has begun to lift; and she has noticed that she is the only one here.of all her fellow inmates, she is the feeble, the fragile, the one who lives like a starved rodent and has not the strength to serve the lord she loves and for whom she had waited all those years.

he treats her delicately, but with a sort of reserve; it is not in his custom to be gentle, so he compromises with distance. this both relieves and horrifies her, and she fears that she will never be his dark jewel again. consequently when he comes for a visit, she does her best to be a young mistress again, and soon they fall into a warped version of the pattern they once fit.

in this adaptation of their former glory, each interaction leaves her sinking to the packed-dirt floor, exhausted and drained, with hardly the energy to re-clothe herself in that same black dress that he awarded her upon her freedom, now tattered and filthy.

she lives a half-life, in a waking dream, unable to come to terms with the concept of freedom; she is a living martyr, the ghost of a sacrifice, her mind still trapped in a stone cell so small she could not lie down flat. it has affected her pose and stance, left her elegance as a mere phantom, her smile no more than a memory.

::don't add up to anything::

she is used to him by now: to his cheeks that are firm and slick beneath her pale fingers and his lips just the same, to the body that isn't quite the right shape, brawny and slender in all the wrong places. he has begun to snuff out the candle each time before they begin, taking her in total blackness that reminds her of the prison at night and makes her shiver with fright because in the end she is only human.

time passes, as do all things; a day comes that he stands against the stone wall of her basement, her self-inflicted prison, tall and righteous, magnificent, and she before him, only inches separating the two of them. there is no illumination.

"calm, my bella," he insists, "calm. only the weak fear darkness."

"yes, my lord."

"on your knees, now."

she does not respond because she does not need to. his robes billow before her and she, blind in the all-consuming blackness, fumbles to get past them. her master offers no assistance. finally, there is the hem at the bottom; she lifts, bunches, holds up a fistful of cloth but he does not accept it. she lets the fabric fall, but with her body on the inside; her steady hands she runs along his legs, higher and higher until she finds that which she seeks. her lips part.

there she is, like a child beneath its mother's skirts, drinking him as though he is water.

::why don't we do it::

a day comes when by force and in secrecy he brings her upstairs, to a room that holds both memories and a mirror.

a mirror is nothing in the dark, but everything once he lights the candle on its bracket in the corner and she is clarified in its dancing light.self-consciously, she licks her lips, swallows, flares at her less-than-pleasing reflection, dark lips and thick black lashes over matching sunken, red-rimmed eyes. hair in knots and tangles, robes ripped.

"my stunning, striking bella," he sneers. "ironic, no? my prize, my beauty… ruined and wretched, all in my name. one would think that with the passing weeks, loveliness would return, scrawniness would leave. you are not my beauty anymore. prove to me that you are still my warrior."

she bows her head reverently, eyes on the bottom hem of his robes and therefore not on the gift he holds out to her; "take it, my bella," he commands, and she looks up; a stick of wood, three times the length of her palm. it has been almost a decade and a half since she has held her wand – and her wand it is, just as she remembers it. she does not inquire how it came into his possession, but instead clutches it like a child with a favorite toy and feels warmth spread up her thin left arm as she grasps her beloved weapon.

"i will not disappoint you," she assures him, and she does not like her voice anymore, it is more hoarse than she remembers, as though she has screamed one too many times and the silkiness of tone has collapsed to make way for dust.

"that remains to be seen," says her master.

::any true devotion::

she thinks of sirius.

as she rides the lift down to the department of mysteries, crowded in with her lord's lesser followers, she wonders. she wonders if she was ever more than her master than a pretty face.she wonders if this is why he now only takes her in darkness. she wonders why she crumbled, while the others stayed strong.

she remembers. across the hall and one door down was sirius; the hallway was narrow, and the cells tiny, and when famine thinned her arm so that it could slip through the bars up to her shoulder, she would reach for him. "come on, siri," she would toy with him, "take my hand. you haven't touched another living being in months."

for factually what must have been years, he ignored her, sitting in silence with his knees to his chest. when finally he spoke, it wasn't to her, and it was with that broken tone she recognized from years of desperate prey. he doesn't say, "please," as her victims might; he calls for prongsie and moony and: "lily!" he crawls forward and stretches out his hand.

she takes it.

he blinks in confusion. "lils?"

"yeah," she replies quietly, stroking the back of his hand with her thumb. "that's me."it is not until he drifts into unconsciousness that she pulled her hand away, flexing her fingers uncertainly.

he swears at her for it when he awakes to reality, hours or days later; she lets him rant himself into silence, and for the first time ever, her characteristic smirk, her arrogant, disdainful fascia begins to fall away.

he should not be shouting vulgarities at her like there is no tomorrow, because there is no tomorrow, and she may as well be lily potter, hell, she might be alice longbottom, because she is gone as far as them, locked in a romance with cells of stone and metal, with the dark figures like congealed smoke that drift down the corridor, with the one long shaft in the ceiling that lets in only the faintest trickle of sunlight, so that she can vaguely make out the shape of her hand as she holds it before her face.

she is trapped in azkaban, no matter how she looks at it. and so, logically, she needs to speak to one who has escaped.

::then it fell apart::

what happens is, they exit the lift and she tells lucius and the others to go ahead; she would like a chat with her cousin when he arrives. she waits in silence and in secrecy, bated breath and anticipation. once her companions are gone through that fateful door, she waits for the clatter of the lift, and then hears it. her fingers tingle as they clutch her wand. it feels too thin in her hand.

by some stroke of luck, he is the last of the group, ignorant of her position, masked by darkness, in the entryway to the courtrooms. quickly and soundlessly she casts a rapid "silencio" and grabs him from behind; he kicks and struggles in her thin arms until she spins him around to face her. closing his moonlight eyes and reopening, he says without noise: "harry, no, no, harry, no."

not a soul has noticed his absence. The others' footsteps recede toward the desired door as she takes his hand and leads him down the steps and through an unlocked door. courtroom ten. so many memories. she lifts the spell and hopes he won't shout, which he doesn't. "don't do this now, trixie," he begs, "i have to get to harry, don't you understand?"

pressing him against the door she's closed behind them, she has a thousand proclamations and declarations and statements; not to mention, questions to ask, things she needs to know. but she is who she is, when it comes down to that. and she, being she, breathes, "when did you last fuck a girl, siri?"

now is not the time, and he says as much. now is not the place. they belong in battle, two lost heroes on opposing sides of a discrepancy that will never end.

"siri, my darling, there is no time for us," she informs, she enlightens, her words fraught and gasping, because he is not what she had expected; that is, he is not free, and his eyes say as much. there is no time for those estranged enemies still nursing love affairs with a shadowy rock in the sea.

before she knows what is happening he is inside of her but he is not as he once was, his hair stinks of alcohol and dog, the skin that brushes hers is grimy as he crashes to the ground and brings her with him, the stone floor that once sealed her fate now becoming their marriage bed. after a while he blurs so that he could be her master, could be her husband, could be a fence post for all she can tell.

though she does not remember tiring, slumber comes swiftly, out of nowhere, as if by enchantment, and she flies like a bird to the lands of oblivion.