Because of the positive response I got, I figured it was time to FINALLY carry on with this series. Enjoy!
Today was the day.
Bellatrix Black, the eldest daughter of the Black family, would lose her last name, and instead be known as Bellatrix Lestrange. Just as Narcissa had given up her identity in the family, Bella was about to embark on the same mission. It had been several very tiresome months since Rodolphus professed his undying adoration for her. In that time, her father had passed away - lung cancer, unfortunately - the Dark Lord had barely said three words to her, and Narcissa continued to grow fat as her child festered within her womb. It was supposed to be a girl, apparently. Lucius wasn't all that pleased, Bella could tell, but he hid it rather well.
Despite the fact that Rodolphus had promised her that they would not have the wedding at the Black Manor, their mothers had overridden them both and planned it there. It was to be spectacular, the social event of the season for the people that traveled in her circles. Not because it was Bella's wedding, no, but because Druella Black was going all out to show that she could live without a man dictating her every move, and that she was a grieving widow no more. In essence, this wedding was to be about her ability to throw a party, rather than Bella's union with Rodolphus.
The oaf had grown on her in the past few months, but she would not say that she loved him. He suited her. Every part of him matched her, and he knew how to make her scream, and when she explained that to her sister, the beautiful blond insisted that that was what a marriage was really about. Not everyone was lucky enough to be in love. But you see, Bellatrix was in love, though not necessarily with her husband-to-be.
"How do I look, Bella?" Narcissa inquired enthusiastically from her spot in front of the full-length mirror. The two were in her room, and with Narcissa acting as her maid of honour, or whatever, she was supposed to be helping the dark haired woman get dressed. However, it took her much longer to get the pale purple dress - her mother's choice, not Bella's - on over that large stomach of hers than it did for Bella to get into her dress. Her dress was simple. It had no sleeves with a relatively tight middle-section and a skirt that simply fell to the floor. Simple. Bellatrix did not want to look like some airy fairy princess.
"Bella," Narcissa repeated firmly, turning to face the older woman as she awkwardly tried to pin a stubborn strand of hair up into her tight bun. She glanced up, her dark eyes studying her sister for a fraction of a second, and then replied, "Fat. You look fat."
The blond woman pouted at her, then turned back to the mirror, "Gorgeous. I think you meant to say I looked gorgeous."
"Of course, Cissy," Bellatrix commented absently. "You know that's always what I mean."
No. She looked fat. Some say pregnancy makes women look their prime... Narcissa looked better when she was thin. The only actual difference that may better her appearance was the fact that her breasts were about a size larger. Lucius must have enjoyed that.
"It's almost time," Narcissa insisted, finally stepping away from the mirror to walk over to Bella, who was currently seated in front of her make-up mirror. She placed her small hands on Bella's bare shoulders, then shooed her own hands away from the stubborn pieces of hair and fixed it with strange expertise, "Are you anxious? Nervous? Excited?"
"No," Bellatrix replied honestly, watching her younger sister work, "I want it to be over with. Mother has been more of a pain than usual with this wedding."
The younger woman frowned at her, "Don't say that. Your wedding day will be one of the most memorable days of your life, Bella."
"I'm not you," the Death Eater said frankly, "I don't care about this. It's just a formality."
Narcissa clucked her tongue at her, as though chiding a young child, and continued to fuss about her hair and make-up, completely ignoring Bella's insistence that it wasn't really that important. They were shortly joined by her mother, who came barreling into the room without knocking, her breathing in a frenzy.
"Everyone we know is here," she stated briskly, stalking up behind Bellatrix and Narcissa, "so don't embarrass our family. Once Lestrange gets that ring on your finger, you can do whatever you please, since you will be his problem. Until then, you behave."
"I live to please you, mother," Bellatrix fired back sarcastically, wincing as the older woman gave her arm a sharp pinch. Narcissa rolled her eyes Heavenward, and her mother continued, "Normally I would give you some advice about how to bed your new husband, as I did for your sister, but it seems you have experience in that area already. So. There's really nothing more I need to say to you."
And with that, she left. No words of wisdom. No trinkets to wear. No tearful farewells. Not like she had done for Narcissa or Andro- the other one. Bellatrix preferred it that way, to be honest. She and her mother had stopped seeing eye to eye with each other a long time ago. Once Narcissa was finished with her hair - somehow the hair was back in the bun, miraculously enough - Bellatrix rose and slipped into her painfully high heeled shoes, and the two made their way down the stairs to where the rest of the wedding party was waiting. Some other cousins were there as flower girls and bridesmaids, while Rodolphus had his boys there. With the death of her father, there was no one in the immediate family to walk her down the aisle, and she was very shocked when Lucius volunteered to do it to her mother. Druella had too much of a soft spot for the man, and she accepted in a heartbeat. How it made sense that her brother-in-law was walking her down the aisle was beyond Bella's understanding, but she didn't object. The wedding, to be frank, meant very little to her, so she didn't see the point of making a fuss.
People were complimenting her left and right, which was what they were supposed to do on her wedding day. The ceremony was to take place in the gardens, which was where everyone else was, she assumed. The Manor was empty, aside from the house elves scuttling about to ensure that everything for the festivities afterward were in order. Her personal house elf was on specific orders to wait for her with a packet of cigarettes for when she was ready, and she grinned as she saw the creature huddling by the staircase, no doubt waiting to be called on.
Her mother was practically glowing as people commented on the wonderful decorations and elegant way the flowers had been arranged. It was July, the damn hottest July Britain had ever seen, but the guests seemed perfectly happy... She could see them chatting away noisily through the massive windows that showed off the outdoors from the entertaining hall. Someone suddenly linked arms with her and she flinched, annoyed to be taken from her dreamworld, and she glared up at Lucius, "Oh. It's you."
"Yes, it's me," he chuckled, Narcissa at his side. "Bellatrix, don't you think white is a little... trying? Especially for you- Ouch! Darling, I was only kidding-"
"Be nice," Narcissa warned to both of them, then sauntered off as her mother beckoned her over; the party was lining up to make their way out. It would start soon. Bellatrix took a deep breath, wishing all this was over and she could get out of this damn dress.
"Listen," Lucius started softly. "If he hurts you, or does something-"
"What the bloody Hell are you doing, Malfoy?" she demanded pointedly, raising a thin eyebrow at him. He shrugged, "I'm about to walk you down the aisle and give you away to one of my closest friends... You're my sister, Bellatrix, and I thought I should say something."
Bellatrix blinked, utterly dumbfounded, "What?"
"I hate you like I would any sister," he went on, his free hand smoothing down the front of his rather expensive looking tailored suit, "just like I love you like a sister. You are the one that Narcissa treasures the most in this entire world, after me, of course, and I want to make sure you are well looked after."
The woman stared at him for a moment or two, then wrinkled her nose, "For Heaven's sake, stop, Malfoy. You'll make me vomit on my dress."
"Well, we can't have that, can we?" he mused, his eyes twinkling gleefully at her, though his expression gave no hint of delight. What the Hell was he on today? Did Narcissa get him drunk before all this?
"Come on, let's go," Lucius ordered finally, tugging at her arm as he pulled her toward the door. The music had started. People were standing outside, watching with mild interest as the wedding party rolled out of the entertainment hall. When the tone changed, Lucius and Bellatrix started out. She squinted as she stepped into the sunlight, her eyes roaming over the people that were sitting at the edge of each row. Some were smiling supportively; others were no doubt smiling because they had to. She ignored Rodolphus standing at the end with the wizard elder, waiting with pride to marry his bride. She, instead, looked behind her, hoping to see Him standing at the back. Maybe he would be there. Just to... Just to watch. But no. He wasn't there. She wasn't sure why she had thought he would come. It was a hope, more or less, a fleeting fancy.
Her hopes dashed, Bellatrix returned her attention to her reality up ahead. Rodolphus looked very handsome, of course. His suit was finer than her brother-in-law's, his hair was slicked back, and he had stubble that Bellatrix had often told him was very appealing on him. He probably grew it to please her that day. She smirked, though she didn't return the broad smile he was giving her. When they arrived at the end of the walk-way, Lucius gave her a small peck on the cheek, and then joined the other men behind Rodolphus. Bella took his hand and he drew her up, and the ceremony started.
It was a typical ceremony. Vows and rings were exchanged. An elderly chap with hideous nose-hair sanctioned them to be man and wife. They kissed. People clapped and hooted, some women gave an indignant huff or throat clear when Rodolphus held his new wife on the spot longer than what was expected, expressing his devotion to her in a passionate kiss. Bellatrix returned it, of course. She liked putting on a show, and she liked making her mother feel uncomfortable in her seat. Flower petals were thrown over the couple as Rodolphus led her back toward the manor, and she let out a shocked laugh as he scooped her up and officially carried her inside, attacking her lips once more in a demand for her constant attention. Again she searched for Him. He could have been waiting inside, or maybe lurking somewhere. It would be like Him to lurk. But yet again, she didn't see the man. Her Dark Lord had not come to her wedding.
Afternoon, when the ceremony took place, quickly turned to night. Dinner was served, toasts were made, and the people around her started to get progressively drunk. Narcissa and Lucius swayed with each other on the dance floor with other couples until her little sister's feet could not support her anymore, and she watched as the two sat off near the wall, Narcissa with one foot on her husband's lap with the man massaging it tenderly. They were sickening, really. Rodolphus, it seemed, couldn't wait to get the honeymoon started. A lot of the evening was spent kissing her neck, whispering suggestive sayings in her ear, and dancing with her to whatever the band played. She felt free with him, and with that ring on her finger, her mother could no longer be a bother. It was a gratifying feeling, to be honest.
When she finally tore herself away from Rodolphus, the woman went off for a cigarette outside. It was the social event of the season, remember? People weren't as interested in her doings as they were with what people were wearing. Fashion faux-pas were everywhere, darling. While her house elf had her smokes, it also had a small letter for Bella to read. The creature whispered hoarsely that it had been instructed only to give it to Bella, and she felt her heart pound giddily in her chest. He must have come. He had to have come. Maybe he had left her a letter saying... something. She knew he would never apologize to her for the harsh treatment. He would never ask her to come back to him. He would never tell her that he loved her back. But Bella knew. Deep down, she knew that those feelings were somewhere.
Snatching the letter away, Bellatrix stalked over toward a window, brushing off individuals who came to speak with her shortly. When she was perfectly alone, she ripped open the envelope, the background noise of countless conversations merely faint whispers compared to the way her heart pounded in her ears. Opening the folded piece of paper, she recognized the lettering right away. It was his! His! Her dark eyes ran over the words quickly, but as she read them, the excitement dwindled and died a violent death.
Master and Lady Lestrange,
As requested, you are granted one week for your honeymoon to Asia. I shall expect you back and ready for duty by next Tuesday.
She stared at the crisp writing, the short statement. It had nothing to do with her. It had to do with them. He was addressing a married couple, not his former lover. And with that, her heart shattered. Well, what was left of it, anyway. Before she could stop herself, her eyes welled with large tears. It pained her to know that she was weeping over this, but it couldn't be helped. All day she had hoped to see him. From the moment she woke up to five minutes before she got the letter, Bellatrix wanted to see him. Show him what he could have had, maybe, then tell him he could still have it. She had feelings for her husband, yes, but her love went to him. And he... He didn't care anymore, that much was true.
"Oh, look, Rodolphus darling," her mother crooned as the pair approached her. "Your bride cries with joy on her wedding day... She is simply overcome with all the happiness in the air!"
Bella looked up, a rogue tear running down her cheek, and she hastily brushed it away, crumpling the letter behind her back and stuffing it back into her house elf's hands before pushing the creature away. Rodolphus met her gaze quickly, though he was not smiling like her mother was, "Joy? Is that what it is, Bellatrix?"
She swallowed thickly, hating this weakness, and then nodded, "Of course, Rodolphus. What else would it be?"
I just wanted to say something quickly... The writing style is so brisk in this chapter because I can't see Bellatrix enjoying her wedding at all. To be honest, I don't think she's one for big parties that revolve around her, which is why the whole thing seems rushed. It's how she would want to feel... In my opinion, anyway. She was bored at Andromeda and Narcissa's weddings, so why should this be any different?
And there will be less Voldemort in this part of the series... though he isn't gone completely. He's never gone.