Disclaimer: Not mine.
When she was going on five.
Bellatrix stood as still as she could while Auntie Walla pulled the scratchy yellow ruffled dress over her head. She didn't like her Auntie, not at all. She didn't like the way her Auntie made her take a bath by herself, saying it was not proper to let Andy play with her. She didn't like the way her Auntie had raked a comb through her hair, the way she had pulled it up and tied it too tight until the little hairs on the back of her neck pinched and burned, and especially didn't like the way Auntie Walla had slapped her face for crying.
Bath time without Andy was no fun and she hated wearing the itchy dress with the black shinny shoes that made her slip on the tiles and made so much noise people would turn to look at her.
"Quit pouting," Auntie scolded. "I don't have time for your nonsense and no one is going to put up with it anymore."
"I want my mum," she whined as Auntie yanked her around and zipped up the back of the dress.
"See if you can stay clean, and keep an eye on the baby while I get your sister ready," Auntie Walla sighed, stepping back to inspect her charge. "And for gods sake quit squirming. If you get that all wrinkled up what will every one think?"
"Itches," Bella cried, running her thumb under her collar as she wiggled her shoulders.
"I don't care if it does," she spat, slapping the child's hand. "Don't you go making a show of it either. Your father has enough on his mind not to worry about you."
Bella wiped the back of her hand across her eyes then watched as the door closed behind her Auntie and she heard the sound of wards locking her in. Running to the window she pushed up the sash and laid her stomach on the sill, letting her head dangle outside as far as she dared, to watch the front door.
She didn't know all the people that were coming today so she knew something big was happening. Something big that she had to get all dressed up fancy for and that even Andy got to go to. Andy wasn't big enough to sit at the dinning table yet and still had an elf that helped her eat, so Belle knew it wasn't a dinner party.
Her mum liked dinner parties, big ones. Sometimes in the summer she would put a big white tent on the lawn and have food brought in by men in black suits and would fix your plate and everything. Belle frowned and slid her feet back on the floor, not seeing a tent or the men carrying platters of food.
She hoped this wasn't another 'musical interlude' that her dad liked. Not that she minded music, what she minded was sitting still and not being able to twirl and spin. The yellow scratchy dress didn't spin. It was stiff and hard and hurt the backs of her legs when she sat for too long and the music could go on and on forever.
Laying on her stomach, she tried to see under the door. Sometimes she could make out whose feet she saw, other times she only saw a shadow, a momentary darkening that quickly moved on. She poked her finger under the door, playing with the shadows and the light, and then sat up quickly when Tillie appeared behind her.
"Tillie!" She giggled. "You scare me."
"I comes for your Cissy." The elderly elf wheezed. "She stay with me."
"Why can't she come?" Belle scrambled to the crib and peered between the bars, watching Tillie wrap the blanket around the sleeping infant.
The elf gathered up the baby and winked out, leaving Belle alone, waiting for her answer. Pouting at being left behind, Belle folded her arms across her chest and sat down on the floor, crossing her legs and pouting. Soon, she opened her mouth in a yawn large enough to push her eyes closed and want her mum. Curling up on the floor, next to the empty crib she stuck her thumb in her mouth, and with tears welling in her eyes she drifted off to sleep.
"Oh, no you don't," Auntie Walla yanked her up by the arm. "You go mussing up that dress and I'll take the hair bush to your backside, Little Miss Prissy."
Belle was spun around at the same time she head Auntie muttering incantations to smooth the winkles and tighten her ponytail. Pushing the offending hands away, Belle let out a wail.
"Ah, now my princess, just a little longer," a gentle voice came from the door, propelling Belle's feet to move before she had even seen him.
"Papa!" she screamed and ran, throwing her arms around his legs, craning her neck to look up at his face.
"That's my big girl," he smiled, squatting down with a girl dressed in a matching yellow dress on his hip. "Come give your sister a kiss, but be careful, she just woke up. Andy? Look who came to see you."
"You're spoiling them," Auntie Walla said. "Mark my words, there'll be hell to pay some day if you keep this up. That one is a little demon already; you'll just go making it worse."
"Not today," he said coldly. "They have the rest of their lives to learn."
"Now, dry you face, there that's a good girl." He smiled as she did as he had told her, and then stood, reaching his hand down to her. "It's time to see Mum."
Belle nodded her head happily and slid her hand into his, almost running to keep up with his long legged stride as he walked down the hallway, one hand holding hers, his other holding Andy to his hip. He held her hand high as they navigated the stairs, making sure her shinny black shoes did not send her arse over teacup. Once her feet were firmly on the floor he set Andy down next to her and nodded to the door of the big room with the sparkling light that hung from the ceiling that threw tiny rainbows at the high white walls.
He pushed the large double doors open and stepped aside for his daughters to enter before him. Belle lifted her chin and took Andy's hand in hers, tugging the smaller girl along. She stopped, holding Andy back, confused by long rows of chairs and seeing only the backs of the guests that all sat looking forward. She didn't hear the cello, or the lilting voice of the piccolo calling to the higher clear bell tones of the flute. Even the old man with the hunched shoulders and the thing that looked like a guitar that he tucked under is chin was not here. She turned to look for her Papa as he gently pushed her forward.
The oohs and ahhs filled her ears and finally her mind as she fought to shut out all but the golden glow streaming through the windows. Eddies of silver dust swirled and caught the sun light, dancing in ever rising circles, gently moving as if to a music she could not hear . She waved her hand through them, wanting the music to begin as she felt her fathers arms lift her, hold her over the dark wooden box and whisper to her.
"Kiss her goodbye, Princess. Tell her…tell her you love her."
Belle kept her eyes on the floating dust particles, watching the dance of the fairy. That's what mum called them when she told the story about the good witch that didn't clean her house for fear of wiping away the tiny-tiny creatures. The witch in the story was old and grey, older then the woman that Papa would kiss on the cheek and call Aunt, not Auntie, as she had to call Auntie Walla.
She was raised higher and tipped nearly up side down, again her father's voice whispered in her ear as she fought against his arms, wanting…needing to look away and find the fairy that would soon float to the ceiling and be gone, leaving her alone and afraid .
Belle watched a drop of water splash on the cold doll like face that looked like her Mum, and momentary stopped her struggles, waiting to see what would happen now. Waiting to see if Papa would scold her, if Auntie Walla would be angry, if Mum would wrap her arms around her and tell her not to cry.
Gentle arms wrapped around her waist and Auntie Lucretia, that smelled like mum, lifted her, pushed her head down on her shoulder and made soft shushing sounds in her ear.
"Ma belle, let me take you out of here," she heard as she shut her eyes and thought of the fairies that danced on sunbeams and floated on wishes.
When she was twenty.
Bellatrix spun in front of the mirror, her head lowered to see the way her skirt rose as she did.
"It's perfect," she declared.
"Father wants you to wear Mother's dress," Narcissa pointed out, as she flipped the tag over, raising her eyebrow. "Bella, this costs as much as the entire reception."
"Who cares? Andy? What do you think?"
"Seriously? Or is this just one of those times you want me to agree with you?"
"Seriously," Bella giggled turning back to the mirror.
"The back is too low, the skirt too…too…bouncy and the whole thing looks cheap."
"Does not," Bella pouted.
"You shouldn't have asked," Andromeda laughed. "It is perfect. It'll match the rest of the show."
"You mean that?" Bella turned back to smile warmly at her sister, ignoring Narcissa's giggles.
"Yes, the whole thing is tacky. That dress will fit right in."
"You don't have to come you know. I can get someone else," Belle spat, turning back to the mirror, her hands on her hips. "Anyway, you're jealous that Father doesn't like that idiot you are seeing."
"Not now," Narcissa spoke quickly. "This is supposed to be a happy time."
"For some," Andromeda picked up her robes and left, unwilling to let his sister see the tears that welled in her eyes.
Bellatrix bought the dress and hung it on the outside of her cupboard door where it was the first thing she saw every morning, and the last thing she saw at night. Even in the dark, she could make out the shimmering flecks of iridescent thread that were woven into the very cloth.
It would be a beautiful wedding, she thought. Narcissa would walk in first, her beau waiting for his love standing beside Rodolphus who waited for her. Andy would straighten her train before stepping out, walking regally in front of her as maid of honour.
Belle was glad her father had stepped in and told that horrid Tonks boy he was not welcomed. She did not want her wedding ruined when the two began to argue as they always did. She rolled onto her back, and hugged the blankets to her chest, smiling as she ran the list of guests through her mind. Everyone who was anybody would come.
"LeStrange," she whispered aloud the crinkled her nose.
LeStrange was the oldest family, not to mention the richest, her father knew that had a son of marriageable age and was quite proud that his eldest daughter would make the match. She had been hesitant at first, but soon realized it was the best match she could make and had graciously conceded.
Bellatrix had never understood the secret looks that Narcissa thought no one saw as her eyes would lock on to Lucius. She never could grasp what made Andromeda so anxious to sneak out of the house and run to the arms of her lover. Never had she felt the rush of sexual desire her housemates at Hogwarts had gone on and on about, sitting up late into the night, unable to stay awake during lessons.
She, alone among the sisters, understood that marriage was about contracts, wealth and name. Marriage was the bonding of bloodlines, bloodlines that were being sullied and ignored by others. She also understood that the circle of acceptable men of marriageable age was becoming smaller as second cousin married second cousin to protect the family wealth.
On her wedding day, Bellatrix was angry with Andromeda, angry that the stupid bint would be late and not there to place the veil on her head as she should have done as maid of honour. Bella sat in front of her vanity while Narcissa completed the task, watching the door out of the corner of her eye.
"Sit still," Narcissa quipped. "It's going to be crooked if you keep wiggling."
"She's never going to have time to get ready if she doesn't hurry." Bella pouted and looked up to Narcissa's eyes in the mirror. "Go see where she is?"
"Fine," Narcissa sighed. "But you sit still and don't move. This dress wrinkles worse than anything I've seen."
Bella watched her sister through the mirror, smiling at the cloud of yellow that went with her, quite pleased in her choice of colour. Looking back to the mirror, she pushed a stray wisp of hair behind her ear as angry voices from the hallway found her.
"What do you mean she's gone? How could she do this?" Narcissa's voice was easy to recognize, as was Auntie Walla's snarling response.
"Good riddance if you ask me. That child had the same demon in her that her mother had."
"Stop that!" Narcissa demanded.
"All of you girls are just like her. I told your father that when he brought her home. She had no business having children, none at all."
Bella looked up and spied a shaft of sun. Strange, she thought, that at this time of day the sun should already be coming in through the western window. Lifting her hand she held her palm up, catching the flecks of dust that danced in the light.
"Bella," Narcissa squatted down next to her sister, her eyes laced with concern. "Andy left. She ran off with that Tonks boy."
She lifted her hand to Bella's face and turned it to her own, seeing only emptiness in the cold mask that was her sister's face. "Bella? Did you hear me? Andy is gone."
"Is it time?" Bella asked, studying her sister.
"Yes," Narcissa stood up and took Bellatrix's hand, leading her down the stairs, holding her hand tightly so she would not slip. Her father stood at the bottom, where he took her arm and walked her to the double doors, pushing them open to the room with the hanging light that threw tiny rainbows onto white walls.
She was confused at the rows of chairs, and the backs of the guests, confused that the clear notes of the piccolo called to the flute, confused when her father pressed her hand in that of another, and turning did not see Andy sitting on his hip.
She lifted her eyes, and again saw the fairies that danced on sunbeams and floated on wishes afraid to look down and see where her single tear had fallen.
When she was forty-two.
Bellatrix LeStrange pushed her dark dirty hair back from her face and crawled across the damp stone floor to the bars, where she tilted her head and tried to see the sky. She licked her lips, feeling them crack as they tried curl into a tight dry smile, she spun, staring into the dark corner of her dank cell. Ma belle, the voice called to her, ma belle, let me take you out of here.
Turning back to the shaft of light that shimmered in front of her, filtered and defused by the walkway over head, she reached her hand through the bars and tried to touch the light, to capture one of the fairies that danced, twisting and turning in spun golden dresses. Pouting as they avoided her touch, she sat back on her heels, frowned and pursed the lips together.
She didn't move again until the sun had left and the stars began to show in the thin slit of sky she could see if she twisted her head, pressed her cheek to the bars and looked up between the black stone that towered above her. She waited still. Waited, unmoving and unthinking, until the moon rose over the opening.
Then, leaning forward a, she reached out her hand she waited for the fairies. She waited to feel their touch, to see their cold masked faces, to hear their voices as clear as a piccolo calling to a flute. Instead, she felt only demons that left her hand cold as they danced on moonbeams and floated in dreams.