Author's Notes: Written for Hermione's Harmony's Woman in Black Challenge on the HPFC forum. The idea is to write a piece about a woman wearing black and to drown it in detail. Which is strange for me. I hope you like it.
Warning: Contains suicidal themes, an excess of non-dialogue, and creepy!poetic!schizoid!Bellatrix.
Bellatrix sat alone in the chapel antechamber. She could hear the organ from the sanctuary, playing some corruption of a bridal march. Surely a bridal march wasn't meant to sound so dreary? So bitter?
A breath of warm air from the small window, air tinged with the scent of honeysuckle, lifted a strand of her hair off her forehead, and she watched in the round silver-backed mirror she held in her hand as it waved feebly before settling back down across her forehead. She stroked it back into place, ensuring it was secured in the tight knot her mother had tied her hair into.
Staring at herself in her mirror – a little silver thing, round and scarcely bigger than the palm of her hand – perhaps Bellatrix did look pretty. Her jet hair was pulled back so tightly that the corners of her eyes were lifted, with only one curl charmingly arranged to fall to perfection over her shoulder. Her skin, so pale it was almost translucent, with not the faintest hint of a blush on her cheeks – was it pretty or sickly? And the black wedding dress clinging ever-so-delicately to her body…
Married in black, you'll wish yourself back.
Bellatrix set down her mirror on the floor of the antechamber and ran her hands over her dress. Hastily found for her after she had ruined the heirloom of a wedding dress she had been meant to wear (rose-coloured… married in pink, your spirit will sink), the black gown did not suit her. The skirt was too full, the layers of Belgian lace that made it up looking more cluttered than stylish. The bodice clung too tightly, and would not fit over a corset, forcing Bellatrix to hold herself with a painful stiffness. She ran her hands over her own breasts, looking at the contrast of black lace over white skin. Tiny dots of her flesh were visible through the holes in the lace, holes which created intricate designs of flowers, as low on her bosom as modesty would permit.
She stood up to look down at herself properly, and stepped on the mirror, cracking it under the high heel of her black shoe. She swore quietly, then stooped to pick up the pieces.
Breaking a mirror means seven years of bad luck.
A shard of glass slipped from her grasp as she tried to gather them up, slitting her fingertip. A bead of blood pooled on the cut, and Bellatrix gasped, dropping the pieces, more shocked than in pain. She fell to her knees, clinging to the offended hand. It stung, but within seconds the pain faded, leaving only a faint throbbing and a trickle of blood to indicate that it had happened.
She reached to pick up the glass again, then paused, an idea forming in the tiniest, darkest corner of her mind.
Slowly, oh so slowly, so nervously, she picked up one of the pieces. It was a long crescent shape that had been nested on the edge of the round mirror, inside the wrought-silver frame, and its tip was dangerously sharp. She stared at it, fingers trembling, mesmerized at the way the light glinted off the unbelievably tiny point. It was such a little thing… and it could do so much.
Settling into a more comfortable position on the floor, Bellatrix turned her arm up so her wrist faced the ceiling. She could see the blood throbbing in blue veins, just beneath her skin. So delicate.
So easy to break.
She rested the shard of glass against her wrist, feeling the tip just pierce her skin, then dragged it deliberately across the inside of her arm. The skin split gloriously easily, and though she gasped at the pain, it was not half as bad as she expected it to be. She actually felt a surge of pleasure as the glass cut through her skin with such incredible ease. Her breath caught and she felt a little pulse of delight in her throat. For a second, there was no sign that the cut had even been made, then blood pooled along the line, and Bellatrix watched with morbid fascination as it pushed out, little crimson beads forming a chain along the cut.
She took the glass to her arm again, making another cut. This one was not as pretty, she thought as she dragged the glass along her wrist, making a sloppier cut that intersected with the first to form an X. The skin had not split as neatly, and her hand has shaken when she made this one.
The blood from the second cut didn't make a tidy string the way the first one had. Blood just trickled out and smeared her wrist.
Didn't matter. She switched the piece of glass to her other hand, which was trembling horribly now. She took a deep breath to steady herself, feeling her breast strain against the too-tight bodice of the dress, then made two quick, intersecting slashes across her wrist to form another X.
She dropped the glass and held both her wrists up before her, looking at the blood on them. Pretty crimson lines trailed down her arms as droplets rolled down from the cuts.
Bellatrix was startled by the sound of the door to the chamber swinging open. She jolted, having forgotten completely that there were other people in the world. She had been so mesmerized.
Her parents – Druella, Mother, Mama, dressed in her mother-of-the-bride white silk, Cygnus, Father, Daddy, looking so dignified – stood framed in the doorway, looking down on their daughter as she knelt on the stone floor.
"What have you done?" Druella cried when she saw the blood pooling on her daughter's arms.
Bellatrix, in answer, extended her arms, turning her wrists upwards for her mother to see. Four slashes, two glistening Xs. She felt no pain, and only the faintest tingling in her arms as her life's blood pumped out indicated that she was hurt at all. But when Cygnus grasped her arm to hold it still so that he could heal the cuts, shocks of pain went through her with so much force that she shook. Her father's solid, square fingers dug into the flesh of her wrists and she squirmed for the pain that sent through her, trying to wrench herself away. A wordless, high-pitched whine just barely escaped her painted lips before she caught control of herself and balled her hands into fists against her father's grip. The tip of his wand skimmed along the cuts, and Bellatrix watched without caring as her skin knitted itself over the cuts.
"Bad girl," Cygnus told her. It was a phrase that she had heard from him since the age of six, any time she did something wrong. Bad girl, when she broke a glass. Bad girl, when she tore a dress. Bad girl, when she stayed out too late at night. Bad girl, when she was found with a lover.
Bad girl, when she tried to end it.
Her face went still, emotionless, as she bit back tears.
It hurts, Daddy, it hurts.
She breathed as deeply as the constraints of her dress would allow. The blood didn't show on the black lace, but it shone on her white skin, even after the cuts were closed.
The pain had numbed her. She felt nothing as her parents took her by either arm and led her to the entrance to the sanctuary. At the front stood her husband-to-be, utterly unaware of what his bride had been doing in her room. He would know when she got close enough for him to see the blood smearing her arms.
It was true what they said about being married in black. She wished herself back already, and she had not even entered the sanctuary yet.
Married in black, you'll wish yourself back.
She stepped into the aisle, Cygnus at her side, Druella one step behind
The air was sweet, perfumed by the honeysuckle that dressed the church.
But that scent did not cover the tang of blood.