Author's Notes: The first of three one-shots about the relationship between Narcissa and Bellatrix. Written for Rosalie'sRevenge's OPI Competition on the HPFC Forum, inspired by the names of OPI nail polish colours.
"Why is it," Bellatrix asked, staring at her reflection in the mirror, "that every time I think I've gone to all the parties the universe has to offer, there's another one?"
"Will you help me with my dress?" Narcissa asked, ignoring her older sister's question. "Just tighten the laces, will you?"
Bellatrix sighed and pulled Narcissa's long, straight blonde hair out of the way so she could see the laces that criss-crossed the back of her dress.
"You've laced them up wrong again, Cissy," Bellatrix sighed. "Here, let me."
Bellatrix carefully pulled the strings out of the eyelets, and set about re-lacing it.
"If you're going to wear corset dresses," she said tiredly, "you should either get better at lacing, or just ask me to lace it up in the first place."
"I know," Narcissa sighed. "I will next time."
"You said that last time. Honestly, Cissy, any Pureblood ought to know how to lace a corset properly."
Narcissa didn't say anything for a while, just stared at her reflection until Bellatrix finished.
"There," Bellatrix said at last. "That's better. You look like a proper Pureblood girl, now."
Druella Black appraised her two daughters.
"Not bad," she said. "Now remember, girls, you have to prove to everyone at the party that the Blacks are still as charming and pure as ever. Your sister, the blood traitor, has given our family a bad name, and you two must show that she was the exception, not the usual. Is that clear?"
"Yes, Mother," said Narcissa, and Bellatrix nodded.
"Good," said Druella. She glanced over her daughters – Bellatrix in black, Narcissa in powder blue, Bellatrix all sensual relaxation, Narcissa all prim composure.
"What on earth is that on your hands, Narcissa?" Druella asked sharply.
Narcissa quickly hid her hands in the folds of her pale blue skirt. "Nothing."
"Have you been painting your nails again?" Druella grabbed Narcissa's wrist and yanked it up. "We've talked about this, Narcissa! Go clean it off! You will not come downstairs wearing polish on your nails like some muggle slut!"
Narcissa dropped her head and turned back for the bedroom.
"I'll help her," Bellatrix said.
"You have to come downstairs–"
"I'll just make sure she takes it off," said Bellatrix, and quickly stepped into the bedroom and shut the door.
Narcissa sat down at her vanity and pulled out her wand to siphon the polish off her nails. Bellatrix settled next to her and watched.
"It didn't go with your dress anyhow," Bellatrix said eventually.
"Why are you here?" Narcissa snapped, scowling at her red fingernails.
"Anything to put off having to go down to the party," Bellatrix said. "Where do you keep the nail polish?"
Narcissa used her wand to indicate a small wooden box. Bellatrix opened it, and looked inside, at the bottle of coral-red polish in it.
Bellatrix took it out, and peered at the label.
"Cajun Shrimp," she read. "What does that even mean?"
Narcissa ignored her. Bellatrix waited a moment for an answer, then unscrewed the black lid. She wrinkled her nose, and held it away from her. "That's putrid. Why would you want to put that on your hands?"
"Because it bothers Mother, I suppose," Narcissa said, putting her wand down and examining her newly cleaned fingernails. "Small rebellions and all that."
"How is it a rebellion to put this muggle… whatever it is on your fingernails? You're only hurting yourself." Bellatrix sniffed it again. "I wouldn't be surprised if it's poisonous."
"I'm not eating it!"
"But you're smearing it on your hands."
Narcissa crossed her arms and scowled at her older sister. "You don't have to act all holier-than-thou about it. It's not that bad. And it stops smelling after it dries."
"It's still trashy," Bellatrix said, tossing the bottle lightly into the air and catching it. "I hate to sound like Mother, but why would you want to look like some sort of muggle slut?"
"Oh, shut up, Bella."
"Well, it's true. People who wear nail polish do look like muggle sluts."
Narcissa stood up, and turned away from her eldest sister, sticking her nose in the air. "I'm going down to the party. And I'm not going to listen to you tell me that I look like a muggle."
"A muggle slut," Bellatrix corrected, leaning back against Narcissa's vanity.
Narcissa stamped away, the pale blue silk of her skirt rustling around her. Bellatrix sat for quite a while at the vanity, then she turned the bottle around in her hand.
It was shockingly bright, especially for Narcissa who habitually wore only pale, pastel colours – powder pink, sky blue, spring green. This… nail lacquer, the label said, was a shade of scarlet so intense it hurt Bellatrix's eyes to look at it too long. And the smell…
Bellatrix considered the bottle for a long time, then looked at herself in Narcissa's mirror. In her black dress, she was stunningly colourless. Black hair, pale skin, black dress, dark eyes. Her lips were stained red, but they were the only colour she wore. Perhaps a little scarlet was just what Bellatrix needed…
She stood and opened the glass doors that led to Narcissa's balcony so that the smell of the polish didn't overpower her, then opened the cap. Carefully, she painted it over her nails, admiring the vibrant colour. It felt cool and heavy, adhering smoothly to her nails, not at all unpleasant as Bellatrix had expected. Even the smell wasn't too bad, after you got used to it.
Bellatrix finished her nails, and carefully screwed the cap back on the bottle, then blew on her fingernails as she had seen Narcissa doing on occasion. She spread out her fingers on the table and looked at them, looked at herself in the mirror. Yes, having coral-red nails really did help her. Bellatrix thought she looked quite lovely, in fact.
Perhaps muggles have some good ideas after all.