Author's Notes: Written for RoyalJamboree's "A Picture is Worth 1000 Words" challenge, in which you write a 1000 word story revolving around a picture.
drewyboy DOT deviantart DOT com SLASH art SLASH Devastation -178509078
Take out the spaces and replace the words "Dot" and "Slash" with "." and "/", obviously.
Sirius didn't want Black Manor.
His parents hadn't wanted him to have it either. If Regulus was still alive, they might have been able to twist the rules so that he got the inheritance. But Regulus was dead, and tradition dictated that the estate was to go to a male heir unless there were none left. Bellatrix had protested vehemently, saying that Sirius shouldn't get anything, he had left, he had forfeited his right to the Black estate. But as much as she tried to twist the rules, and as much as Cygnus and Orion would have preferred to see their Manor in her hands, the tradition stood. So Sirius got the Manor, the entire Black family inheritance, and Bellatrix got nothing.
So it was that Sirius Black, who had spent the last ten years doing everything he could to distance himself from his so-called family, had received Black Manor.
He was wandering the expansive grounds, reliving the memories that they held, memories of the five Black children growing up. Some of them were almost fond memories, although even the sweetest held an undercurrent of bitterness.
Here, in this little pond, Andromeda had raised a family of turtles when she was ten. She had named them, and had been wonderfully good to them, and had planned to keep them until they grew old and died, and then she would bury them with funerals and all.
Sirius and Bellatrix had helped her, and the three of them had kept the secret all summer. But then Regulus had found out, and mentioned it to Cygnus, and he had killed every last turtle, and berated Andromeda for having anything to do with creatures lower than herself.
There used to be a tree here, a massive oak, that had been perfect for climbing, with a trunk that forked into branches that were strong and wide enough to crawl along. Narcissa had been quite the climber as a child, until she turned nine, and climbed too high, despite all warnings. She had scrambled out along a branch that was too thin to support her, and it broke, and she came crashing down. Narcissa never climbed a tree again. Four years later, the oak had been cut down. There was only a stump now.
Here, this grove of tall, relatively skinny trees, all packed close together, had been a favourite place for games, always played secretly after dark. The cousins had developed an elaborate game, so convoluted that it still surprised Sirius they had been able to keep the rules straight. Some sort of variation on hide-and-seek, wasn't it? Sirius wondered if he would remember how to play it now. He doubted it.
And here, under this weeping willow, was where Sirius had gotten his first kiss. He smiled sardonically at the memory. Now, over ten years since it had happened, what had then felt sinful seemed embarrassingly chaste. Sirius passed the willow quickly.
There was a scent of smoke on the air, faint and sweet. Sirius pulled himself out of his reverie to sniff.
Something's on fire out on the moors, he thought, and pushed the thought from his mind.
He continued his self-indulgently melancholy walk through the grounds, but couldn't quite shake the feeling that he ought to be worried about the scent of smoke. Again, he stopped, and inhaled deeply through his nose.
What is that?
It was wood smoke, but had a different scent from ordinary, bonfire-type smoke. The scent was sour, and acrid.
Sirius's stomach twisted into a knot.
He turned in a slow circle, inhaling as deeply as he could through his nose, trying to figure out where the smell was coming from.
Sirius turned for the Manor, increasing speed as he approached and the scent of smoke became stronger, and he saw flames flickering between the trees.
Oh God, please let it just be an ordinary fire.
He could see the fire properly now, and sped to a run, drawing his wand.
"Aguamenti!" Sirius shouted, pointing the wand at the flames. A jet of water splashed over the ground and evaporated with a hiss. "Aguamenti! Aguamenti!"
"You didn't really think that would work, did you, cousin?"
Sirius felt physically ill. He turned around, and looked straight into his cousin's dark, heavy eyes.
"You ought to know by now," Bellatrix said, flicking her wand so that Sirius's flew from his hand, "that water doesn't put out fiendfyre."
"Bells, what are you doing?"
"You don't deserve this inheritance," she said calmly. "You ran away. The Manor was supposed to go to me. If I can't have it, no one else is going to."
"For God's sake, take it!" Sirius put his hands up in surrender. "I don't want it! But stop the fire!"
"It's a little late for that," said Bellatrix. "Fire's already set. And I'm not going to put it out. Frankly, I'll be just as happy seeing this whole place burn to the ground, and all the memories with it."
A fiery snake slithered across the ground leaving tongues of flame in its wake, igniting the fallen leaves and dead grass. It flicked its tongue out, and caught the hem of Sirius's robes.
Sirius yelped and slapped at his robes, trying to beat out the fire. Bellatrix smiled wickedly.
"I'll be happy to see this whole place burn to the ground," she repeated, "and you burn with it."
She stepped backwards, away from him. The fiendfyre had started to crawl up tree trunks, setting the dry autumn leaves alight. Framed in fire, Bellatrix looked like a demon straight from Hell.
"Bells, I'm your cousin!"
Bellatrix laughed, twirling her wand between her fingertips, and took another few steps backwards. The ring of fiendfyre closed in front of her, making a loop around Sirius. "You left, remember? You're no cousin to me."
"You're not really going to let me burn, are you?"
"Of course I am, cousin," she said. "Of course I'm going to let you burn."