Author's Notes: Written for Lady Eleanor Boleyn's "Traditions" challenge on xoxLewrahxox's Bellatrix Lestrange forum, and also daysandweeks's Incorporate this Quote challenge on the HPFC forum.

1 100 words.


Bellatrix stared with distaste at the rose-coloured silk-and-lace monstrosity that was her wedding dress. Pink was not her colour, and she didn't care at all, either for the dress itself or for how she looked in it. It make her look, in her opinion, like one of those wretched, almost frightening porcelain dolls that Narcissa had liked so much as a small child. Bellatrix shuddered at the memory of one particular doll, which had sat on one particular shelf for six years. It had had black glass eyes, and an expression that was not a smile, but had the lips parted slightly to reveal sharp, white teeth. The shelf it had sat on was directly across from Bellatrix's bed, so when she had lain there, in the dark, moonlit shadows of the girls' darkened bedroom, she had had to stare the thing right in the face. Bellatrix was of the belief that it was the reason for many nightmares and years of insomnia. And the dress it had worn looked suspiciously like the thing she, Bellatrix, had been laced into for her wedding.

She turned around, examining herself from every angle in the mirror, looking for something to appreciate. But much as she tried, all she could see was the doll, staring at her from the shelf, in that hideous pink thing.

Bellatrix gave up on trying to contort herself so as to see in the mirror some angle from which the dress was flattering. It was ugly, any way you looked at it.

But Bellatrix had to wear it, because she was the eldest daughter, and this dress had been handed down, generation after generation, to the eldest daughters to get married in. Bellatrix supposed it might have been fashionable back in the Victorian era or some such, but now it just looked dowdy and… un-Bellatrix-like. High neck, long sleeves, too much lace, and, of course… pink.

She had, of course, protested when she had been given the thing. But her mother had been firm.

"It is traditional," she had said, "for the eldest daughter to wear this dress." And no matter how Bellatrix tried to contest the point, the traditional always won out.

She blew out a deep breath, and sat down on her bed, still facing the mirror. Sitting there, legs stuck straight out in front of her, and face the picture of displeasure, she looked even more like the doll.

Bellatrix stared at her reflection, anger mounting, and directing itself, without much logic, at the doll. Why Bellatrix chose that time to be angry at an inanimate object that had never done anything wrong save for being a fairly spooky toy that had glared her down for six years, she did not know, all she knew was that she desperately wanted to break that doll.

She pushed to her feet, and opened up a trunk that Narcissa kept, full of things that she didn't particularly want but was too nostalgic to get rid of, and so was keeping to pass on to her own daughter. The doll in question, the one in the wretched pink dress, was sitting on top of a pile of embroidery cottons, looking up at Bellatrix still with that almost predatory not-quite-smile, and as revolting as ever.

Looking at it, Bellatrix wondered if it hadn't been some model for the dress, back when it was first made. The whole disaster of a gown was identical to the one Bellatrix was wearing, except in miniature, and not quite as unflattering on the doll as it was on Bellatrix.

The doll's black glass eyes caught the light, glimmering spookily, just as they had in the way that had kept Bellatrix up many nights, staring at it in unfounded, primal fear.

She picked it up, turning it around in her hands. With its dark hair and eyes and pale skin, the thing certainly looked like it might have been a model for how the dress would look on a Black, back when the tradition got started. Some dressmaker, back in 1803 or whenever the tradition of lacing the eldest Black daughter into the same unfashionable wedding dress every generation, had probably been commissioned to design a dress that would look the same on every Black, so had made themselves a little doll model to make it on.

Unreasonable fury swelled in Bellatrix's throat, and she hurled the doll, the image of the Black family, at the wall. It hit with a crack, and fell to the floor, a dark fracture now marring its haughty, china face.

Bellatrix stamped on it, relishing the sound of the porcelain breaking under her foot. It felt good to destroy it. In some illogical corner of Bellatrix's mind, she felt that by breaking this doll, she was rebelling, in some tiny way, against marriage, by way of the traditional dress.

She lifted her foot to stare at the broken body. There was a touch of regret, seeing Cissy's toy broken, but it was quelled almost immediately by fresh anger.

Bellatrix wrenched the doll's arm off. She grabbed a handful of the lace on her skirt, and used the sharp edge where the porcelain had broken to saw it off. The threads snapped easily, and Bellatrix threw the handful of lace to the floor. She continued to work away at it, until she stood in only the shell of the dress, amid a pile of ragged lace. Then she set to work on the neck, cutting away the high, choking throat, and the sleeves, until they barely reached her elbows. Only then did Bellatrix stop to look at herself.

The dress looked raw and unfinished, and there was thread in her hair, and stuck to her skin. She had cut her hand on the china, and had smeared blood not only on her arm, but also on the dress itself, so the dusty pink was marred by a streak of brown-red. She looked like she had just come from the scene of a murder.

Bellatrix smiled, pleased with the aesthetic. This would be a much better dress to get married in. With his bride dressed this way, Rodolphus Lestrange would know what he was getting.

She could almost hear her mother now, shrieking about the traditional dress and how she had ruined it. What will your daughter get married in now?

To Hell with tradition, Bellatrix thought. All those traditions are just a load of useless rules. And all Mother's talk of learning the rules? Well, first I learned the rules, then I broke them.

Just like I broke that doll.