Author's Notes: Written for Luck O' The Irish Seamione's Different Perspective Challenge on the HPFC forum. The idea of this is to rewrite the series – or a significant portion of the series – from the perspective of a character other than Harry.
First disclaimer: I own nothing
Second disclaimer: I am taking this one chapter at a time, so it's going to move slowly. So let's not comment requesting updates, okay? Let's comment in a way that demonstrates you read it.
Third disclaimer: If I ever, at any point in this story, make any errors regarding anything pertaining to religion, I apologize in advance. I mean no disrespect, I simply did not grow up listening to sermons. I'm getting my information from Bible study books. I may make mistakes.
Now, without further ado, I, Bellatrix.
The flesh of Bellatrix's arm seared, and she bent in on herself, clutching it. Half a year – six months, one week, three days – since the Dark Lord's return to power, she had learned not to scream when the Dark Mark burned. It only made the pain worse.
She scrabbled at it with her fingernails, tearing her flesh, trying to rip the pain away, tears streaming down her cheeks. Please, Lord, let the pain stop!
At last, at long last, the burning subsided, and she lay panting on the thin, hard cot, blood from the injuries she had inflicted on her own arm coating her.
The Dark Mark sneered at her from under the blood, grinning sinisterly. Her flesh throbbed, blood pumping out and washing the dirt away.
Even as she looked at it, the mark burned red-hot again, and her whole body shook eith sobs at the raging pain. She clasped her forearm, pressing it against her torso, inadvertently smearing herself with blood and grinding dirt into the cuts.
What a sight you are, Bellatrix, scolded the part of her mind that spoke in her mother's voice. Its tone was disapproving. Covered in dirt and blood. Bad girl, getting yourself so dirty…
"I'm sorry, Mother," she said out loud, though her voice was so disused that the words came out in a croak.
At last, the burning subsided a second time. Bellatrix lay limp upon the cot, sobbing brokenly, all the pain now shallow and physical, instead of the deep feeling that shot through her, cutting to her very core when the Dark Mark burned. She could see, through vision that was blurred and starry, chunks of her own flesh lying on herself and her bed where she had ripped them out of her arm. But that was pain she could stand. It was the Dark Mark's burn, and knowing that she could not return to her Lord, no matter how she wanted to, that hurt her.
If she could just have some food, perhaps wash the cuts out, she was sure she would feel much better. But she couldn't. As it was, she was dizzy with pain, and her mind was incapable of focusing. She trembled and twitched and cried, and her mother's scolding grew louder until she pressed her hands over her ears to block it out.
"Go away, Mother," she whispered. "You're dead, go away, leave me alone…" She repeated the words over and over, a prayer that lulled her into a soft, almost meditative state. "You're dead, go away, leave me alone, you're dead, go away, leave me alone–"
Bellatrix was startled by a crashing noise. She jolted up off the cot, stumbled forwards and flung herself against the bars of her cell, looking for the source of the sound. For a moment, all was silent, then great cry went up – a joyful cry, almost akin, Bellatrix thought, to the sound souls would make when the gates of heaven opened on Judgement Day. And she heard, through the commotion, an almost-familiar voice crying out "The Dark Lord! He has come for us at last!"
Bellatrix added her own wild shriek of joy to the wails of her companions. She could hear cell doors crashing open, one after the other, and plastered her body against the bars of her own cell, flinging her fragile form against them again and again. And ever time she heaved herself against them, she cried out through vocal cords straining to remember how to work, "My Lord, my Lord, my Lord!"
The bars gave way and she tumbled out onto the ground, scrambling up immediately and rushing towards the source of the commotion. Several prisoners were already out of their cells, and Bellatrix thought perhaps she even recognized one particular gaunt, wasted man who was holding onto the wall to remain upright. But she paid him no attention, and raised her ragged voice to a scream to make herself heard over the others.
"The Dark Lord! Where is the Dark Lord?"
The cries of joy quieted, as people looked for their leader. At last, a cloaked figure stepped from the shadows, and lowered his hood.
His eyes shone scarlet in the dusty darkness of Azkaban prison, eyes set in a strange, reptilian face that Bellatrix scarcely recognized as that of the Lord she remembered. But she could see hints of the familiar face in him, and his new visage was beautiful to her. She fell to her knees and scrambled forward, kissing the hem of his robes. "My Lord, my Lord, I know you would return, I never lost faith…"
"Get up, Bellatrix," he ordered. Bellatrix complied instantly, springing to her feet and standing before him, spine as straight as she could manage, head bowed modestly.
"My three most faithful are here…" he said, and she fancied she heard pride in his voice, though perhaps that was merely a figment of her mind. "Rodolphus, come stand by your wife. And Rabastan, by your brother."
Rodolphus… Rabastan… the names stirred the faintest sluggish inklings of memories in Bellatrix, though she could not quite place them. It did not matter, the Dark Lord was here for her at last, the Dark Lord had returned…
She felt someone clutch and her shoulder, and spun she around, throwing herself half off-balance and having to grab at the person to stay upright. The gaunt man she had noticed earlier was clinging to her, and when she stumbled against him, he grabbed her by the front of her ragged prison uniform and pressed his mouth over hers in a foul kiss.
She cried, pulled away and tumbled back, sprawling on the dirty stone floor. There was laughter, scratchy guffaws, and breaking through that, a cold, mirthless chuckle. Bellatrix looked up, and saw the Dark Lord gazing down at her with a look that could only be described as contempt.
"You do not wish to greet your husband?"
So he was familiar. She closed her eyes and tried to draw to mind a mental image to connect with the name. Her mind gave her a blur of grey and brown, of warm, rough hands, a rugged body, scratchy kisses and sweet cologne. She smiled in spite of herself – these mostly-forgotten memories were pleasant.
Then other memories forced their way in. A stinging patch on her cheek, remnant of a blow. Pathetic whimpering and pleading. Stony silence. Lying in bed, listening to stifled sobbing. She shivered, and looked back up at the man who had kissed her, Rodolphus, her husband. There was hurt in his eyes.
"Bella?" he croaked.
She supposed she was meant to show affection for him, and clambered to her feet. But she could not summon the will to touch him.
Looking over his shoulder, she saw others, some of whose faces jolted disconnected flashes of memory – a quiet sneer, a harsh laugh, a shove, a curse – some of whom were utterly unfamiliar. But her gaze was drawn back always to the Dark Lord.
He was not looking at her. His eerie, crimson eyes swept the entire group, as he appraised prisoners, watching those who shrank away from him, those who bowed, and those who grovelled at his feet for forgiveness and mercy.
Bellatrix looked back to Rodolphus, and saw a man clinging to his shoulder.
Rodolphus was bone-thin, his body weakened by the years in prison, and the other Death Eaters all looked different shades of near-death, but this man was the worst off of all. His prison uniform was little more than bloody rags and hung off him, revealing a body so emaciated that it was no more than a skeleton covered by papery, scabbed skin. Every bone was completely visible through it, and when he moved, Bellatrix could see the tendons straining and slithering beneath the skin like worms.
But that was not the worst of it. His skin, unnaturally white, was blotched with dark patches where the skin was thicker. He seemed to have tried to rip some of these patches off, leaving horrible, deep, infected scabs covering his arms, legs and face. His eyes were swollen, and by the way he was feeling in front of him with his hands, searching for Rodolphus, he could very well have been blind. But when his head turned, his silhouette displayed without the interference of the grotesque damage to his skin. Illuminated by a flickering torch in a bracket, Bellatrix recognized him and shrieked.
The memories that had come back to her for Rodolphus had been disjointed and abstract, but in her mind there was a perfect, clear image of this man, of Rabastan, her brother-in-law, before Azkaban. He had been beautiful then, and now, he was… he was…
She reached out with shaking hands to touch his face, wanting to feel to see whether there really was skin covering it, or if it was just bone with infected scabs pressed on. Pus wept from the lumps of clotted blood, and he had a foul scent of sickness about him, worse than the smell of decay that hung around any of the others.
"Don't touch me," he said, in a voice that was high and reedy, as she extended a dirty finger towards him. "Sickness will spread…"
Rodolphus recoiled, and gave the man a shove, sending him to sprawl on the ground just as Bellatrix had. "Get off!"
"Rodolphus," Rabastan managed, pushing himself up onto his knees and reaching out. "Don't you recognize me?"
Rodolphus lashed out, kicking him in the ribs. There was an audible snap, and Rabastan crumpled.
"Leper," Rodolphus said, spitting on the ground.
Then the Dark Lord spoke from the shadows, where he had been watching all of this. His voice, high and cold and clear, silenced all immediately, and he spoke with a calm authority that kept anyone from even thinking of trying to interrupt.
"Your brother, Rodolphus. That is your brother whom you dismissed as diseased and dirty. A fine way to greet Rabastan."
Rodolphus's face went as pale as his brother's, but the Dark Lord paid him no more attention. He swept past him, and stood over Rabastan, who was curled into a ball, paralyzed by the pain in his rib.
The Dark Lord drew his wand, and pointed it at Rabastan. There was another audible cracking, and Rabastan cried out again, but halfway through, his cry turned from pain to relief. Bellatrix watched in wonder as he uncurled – still emaciated, still scabbed and disgusting, but now able to move, and knelt before the Dark Lord, reaching his hands upward towards him, in something between begging for an embrace and hailing a god.
"My Lord," Rabastan whispered. "If you will… you can make me clean…"
There was silence, then the Dark Lord spoke.
"I can. You have, after all, been faithful. And the Dark Lord rewards those who are faithful."
Bellatrix and the other Death Eaters watched in awe as the Dark Lord rested a hand on Rabastan's forehead, holding it still and swept his wand over his face. Bellatrix could hear him whispering a soft, musical incantation under his breath, and she staggered, literally weakened by the beauty of the sound of his voice. And beyond that, she could see the infection being siphoned off Rabastan's body. The skin that had been torn away was knitting itself back together, healing over the scabs, leaving only the faintest, palest traces of scars. As the incantation continued, the dark patches that had marred the skin faded away. And, at last, with one more chanted verse, the Dark Lord passing his wand in an intricate pattern over Rabastan's eyes, the swelling in them subsided, and Rabastan blinked, looking up at the Dark Lord with utter amazement and adoration.
"You are clean," the Dark Lord said.
Rabastan broke into sobs of gratitude, and grasped the hem of the Dark Lord's robes, kissing them. "My Lord, there are no words to express my gratitude for you…"
Bellatrix was not nearly as articulate in her amazement. She let out a wail, and fell to her knees, bowing before her Lord.
She had witnessed a miracle.
If she had ever had the faintest shadow of doubt that the Dark Lord was her saviour, it was gone now.