There was a blaze of emerald flame in the fireplace of the sitting room at Malfoy Manor.
Narcissa Malfoy watched as her sister straightened up, pushing her long wavy brown hair out of her face as she walked out of the flames.
Bellatrix Lestrange looked shaken, she swayed slightly on her feet as she stepped out of the fireplace. Narcissa put her hands out to steady her sister as Bella stumbled, almost falling over.
She steadied herself, hands on her sisters arms.
"I killed him... I killed him..." she said in a hoarse, dazed whisper. "I killed my cousin..."
"What?" Narcissa almost yelped, blue eyes wide in shock as she let go of Bella. "Sirius is dead?" she said, her voice showing disbelief and astonishment. "You killed him?" she asked in that same astonished tone.
"I killed Sirius Black..." she said, her voice a shadow of the mocking, taunting tone she had used before. It was only now just starting to sink in. Her cousin... the last of the Black's... was dead. At her hand.
She had killed before. Many times. Without a thought. But her cousin... he had meant something to her. He was her blood. She had hated him since they were children...but there had always been chemistry, passion between them... and in Azkaban... he had been her one source of comfort.
And...she realized with a start... he was also her daughter's father...
Hatred and rage boiled up within her, twisting her face into an expression that made her sister take a step backwards.
Hatred at the Dark Lord... for making her kill the only man who ever really meant something to her. Rage at her cousin for choosing the wrong side, for betraying his own blood. Rage at herself for sleeping with him... for getting herself into this whole mess... for caring about him... maybe even loving him...
After the rage came the grief.
She sat down heavily on a nearby couch, face in her hands, her long dark curls falling over her face. Her slender frame shook with dry, choking sobs. Narcissa sat down beside her stroking her back as she vented the awful, overwhelming grief.
Suddenly Bella sat up, hearing a sound behind them. The door. Both woman's head flicked to the door as it slid open.
"Mummy?" piped a soft high voice. A small girl with large dark eyes and long dark, wavy hair was standing in the door. Two-year-old Electra Malfoy stood there in a white nightdress, teddy-bear in hand as she looked at them curiously.
"Ellie.." Narcissa said in a slightly reproving voice, "It's late... what are you doing up?" she asked. "I couldn't sweep..." the tiny girl lisped, shuffling her feet. Her eyes fell on Bella. "Aunt Bewwa..." she piped curiously "Are you ok?"
Bella swallowed hard, her face clearly showing she was trying to pull herself together. Narcissa gave her hand a comforting squeeze.
"I'm fine sweetie" she said softly, a weak smile on her face. The endearment sounded strange coming from her lips but it seemed to reassure the little girl somewhat.
Electra crossed the room and threw her small arms around the bemused witch's neck. She wasn't used to displays of affection. At first she was stiff in the child's embrace but then she relaxed, body loosening up as she felt strangely comforted by the little girl's hug.
A single tear slid down her cheek. Electra let go of her, wiping away the tear. "Don't cwy Aunt Bewwa" she said comfortingly. A weak but genuine smile spread over Bella's face. She reached up to stroke the girl's hair. "Shouldn't you be in bed?" she said gently.
The little girl peeked at Narcissa pleadingly. "You heard your Aunt" she said firmly. "Off to bed."
Electra pouted sulkily and Cissy gave her a firm, no-nonsense look. She ran up to Cissy and kissed her cheek, murmuring "night mummy" before scurrying back the way she had came.
"She looks extraordinarily like you" said Narcissa gently when the little girl had left. "She does" Bella said, a ghost of a smile on her face. "Except for the eyes... Sirius's eyes..."