Author's Notes: Written for a-trip-to-honeydukes' Your Favourite Character Competition, the point of which is to write whatever you love most about fanfiction (which should, for those of you who know me, give you a pretty damn good idea what this story is going to involve). Rated M for… the last scene.
The day of the wedding dawned grey and misty.
Bellatrix lay in bed for hours, watching the sky slowly lighten, contemplating – with detached boredom – what would be happening that day. She was waking up Bellatrix Black, and she would go to bed Bellatrix Lestrange.
What a comedown that would be.
Narcissa's high-pitched squeal jolted Bellatrix out of her indulgent world of self-pity. She rolled over and was immediately smothered by her younger sister, all flying blond hair and tight embraces.
"You're getting married today!" Narcissa shrieked, as though Bellatrix didn't already know.
"I'm aware of that, Cissy. Get off, I can't breathe."
Narcissa did as she was told, sitting back up. "You must be so excited…"
"You certainly are. Look, Cissy, if you're so excited about me marrying Rodolphus Lestrange, why don't you marry him instead?"
Narcissa's face lit up for just a second as she relished the idea. "Oh… but," her face fell again, "Father's got my marriage to Lucius Malfoy all arranged already…"
"I was joking, Cissy. You couldn't get married before me anyways." Bellatrix sat up, running her hand through her hair. "But… hell, don't I wish you could."
Narcissa wasn't even listening. She had already gone over to Bellatrix's wardrobe and was extracting the dark rose garment that her parents insisted she wear to her wedding for traditions' sake. Bellatrix groaned, flopping back on her bed, staring at it with deepest disgust. "Wretched thing…"
"It's not that bad," Narcissa protested, gazing longingly at the dress. Narcissa had made no secret of the fact that she loved the dress – though, she insisted, it was quite improper for a wedding, as it was pink. "Married in pink, your spirit will sink," Narcissa would quote at any opportunity.
Bellatrix, though she despised the dress for many, many reasons – colour among them – could not set much store by that little rhyme Cissy was so fond of. It was ridiculous, she said, to think that the colour of your dress could dictate how your marriage would turn out.
If anything about this marriage was going to make Bellatrix's spirit sink, it was Rodolphus himself. He wasn't so bad when you stepped back to consider it, really – good looking enough, rich, and he seemed the sort to indulge her in anything she might happen to desire. But he was so…
Not the man she wanted.
Bellatrix didn't want a life of rich comfort. She didn't want to spend her days lounging on a couch while house-elves catered to her every whim, and have her husband come home every night to sweep her off her feet and make sweet love to her. How dull. No, Bellatrix wanted a life of daring and excitement. If Rodolphus were only more interesting, maybe she wouldn't be so adverse to this marriage.
Cissy, on the other hand – really, to lounge about and be treated like royalty would be Narcissa Black's dream come true. She would have made a much better match for Rodolphus, truth be told. But things wouldn't have worked out then. There were three eligible Pureblood bachelors and three Black sisters, and they lined up in a certain way and that was not going to change, no matter how much better suited Narcissa would have been for Rodolphus.
Bellatrix stood up, shedding her nightdress, and grabbed the pink monstrosity away from Narcissa. If it had only been a more daring style – something with a low neckline or a clinging skirt, maybe – Bellatrix might have been willing to forgive the colour. But as it was, the thing would have been considered dowdy and unfashionable in the Victorian era, never mind now. Bellatrix turned around so Narcissa could tighten her corset, feeling her stomach and lungs contract so that she could fit her body into the dress, then stepped into it.
The fabric felt nice at least – Bellatrix ought to have been wearing layers of stiff, starched petticoats under it, but the one thing she liked about the dress was the feeling of silk on her bare skin, and she wasn't going to be letting that go. She shifted from foot to foot while Narcissa did up the laces, just so she could feel the fabric whispering against her flesh.
"There," Narcissa said at last, when she finally finished binding her sister into the dress. "You look beautiful…" She let out a dreamy sigh, clearly imagining what she herself would look like in that pink disaster.
Bellatrix glared at herself in the mirror. The dress at least looked better on her than it did on a hanger – the sleeves flared out rather gracefully at the wrists, the neckline didn't look quite so high as it had before the dress was on, and it was, quite honestly, not unflattering – at least, it wasn't unflattering when Bellatrix's waist was compressed into an unnaturally tight little corset.
"I think I'm going to die from lack of oxygen in the middle of the ceremony," she said, trying to take a breath and managing only a short, shallow gasp. Narcissa, lost in her fantasy world of sweeping gowns and adoring husbands, barely even noticed her speaking.
"Is Andromeda up yet?" Bellatrix asked, snapping her fingers in front of her youngest sister's face.
"Hmm? Oh, no." Narcissa shook her head. "She's still asleep. Or, she was when I got out of bed to come get you."
Bellatrix smiled a little. Andi's got the right idea. Sleep through as much of this day as possible. But she headed across the hall to wake her younger sister anyway.
"An-di!" she sang with as much mock-cheer as she could muster, throwing Andromeda's door open. "Guess who's getting married today?"
Andromeda, tangled in her bedsheets, pulled a pillow over her face. "Go away, Bella… I was having good dreams…"
"Good dreams be damned, get up." Bellatrix grabbed her younger sister's arm and tried to yank her up, though due to her forcibly straight posture, she managed only a feeble tug. "Narcissa's going to drive me out of my mind," she added in an undertone. "I need your help fending her off."
With a groan, Andromeda sat up. "Happy wedding day or whatever, Bella," she muttered, still mostly asleep, then pulled herself out of bed. "Right… what crime against fashion do I have to wear?"
"You and I are wearing pearl silk, you know that!" Narcissa said from the doorway, rolling her eyes.
Andromeda groaned again. "Can't I go back to bed?"
"No. You heard Cissy. Pearl silk." Bellatrix leaned in and whispered in her ear, "come on, Andi, I'll go insane if you're not here to help me. I'll end up murdering someone by throttling them with my veil."
Exhausted though she was, Andromeda managed a weak smile. "All right… all right… Cissy, just give me whatever I'm supposed to wear and I'll bloody put it on…"
Bellatrix smirked as Narcissa laced Andromeda into her own corset – not half as tightly as she had done to Bellatrix – and then into the pale silver-cream bridesmaids versions of Bellatrix's own dress. "This wedding party is going to look like the most repugnantly girlish cake ever made, you know," she commented, considering the pink in relation to the pearl.
"Oh, stop being such a spoilsport," Narcissa said. "You're getting married, the least you could do is let us have some fun dressing up."
"I'm not having fun," Andromeda put in. Narcissa gave her corset strings a very hard tug to silence her.
"Anything you say, Cissy," said Bellatrix, sitting down on the edge of Andromeda's bed as best she could in the corset.
Narcissa was humming a quiet wedding march to herself, and Bellatrix found it hard to stop herself from smiling a little, very indulgently. Sweet little Cissy, so excited for Bellatrix's wedding.
A hundred times more excited than Bellatrix herself was, of course.
The fanciful part of Bellatrix's mind that didn't like to consider consequences toyed with the idea of giving Narcissa a polyjuice potion with her hair in it, taking Narcissa's hair herself. Let Narcissa be the one to take the wedding vows to Rodolphus. Things would be so much happier that way…
But the rest of her mind knew how stupid that would be. The potion would wear off halfway through the ceremony, and even if it didn't and Narcissa somehow managed to hide her identity until she and Rodolphus were in private, there would surely be some sort of scandal. And Bellatrix simply didn't want to have to deal with that.
"I look revolting," Andromeda said, scowling at her reflection. Bellatrix barely managed to keep back a snort. It was quite true – neither the colour nor the style suited ruddy, curvy Andromeda. The dress made her look heavier than she was, and the colour made her look virtually feverish. Narcissa scowled. "I don't think it looks bad at all!"
"Well it doesn't on you, Cissy," Bellatrix commented from the bed. "Because you're all of ninety pounds and all porcelain pale. It makes Andromeda look like she's got a disease."
"Thanks for that, Bellatrix," Andromeda said, scowling at Bellatrix in the mirror. "Couldn't you just have one bridesmaid?"
"Not a chance, darling," Bellatrix said with a dramatic flourish. "A Black, have only one bridesmaid? No, we Blacks need a whole entourage."
"This wedding is going to be excruciating," Andromeda predicted, and while Narcissa looked scandalized at the very thought, Bellatrix had no doubt that she was completely correct.
As the day and the last-minute preperations for the wedding progressed, Bellatrix went silent and cold. She had been fine that morning, but with every passing minute bringing her closer to so-called divine union with Rodolphus Lestrange, she was fast sinking into bleak depression. She would have been so much happier with another man, any other man, anyone besides Rodolphus…
Well, no, she admitted to herself. That wasn't true. There was only one man she would have been truly happy to marry. And it wasn't as though he would ever marry her, so what was the point of wishing for it?
She was quiet and icy as her parents marched her to the chapel. Cold as stone or glass as they sat her down in the little room at the back to await her cue to walk down the aisle, followed by Andromeda and Narcissa.
She struggled not to break down as the organ music played.
So this is it. I'm going to get married to Rodolphus Lestrange, and that's the end.
Though she kept her face smooth, posture straight, whole appearance impeccable, inside she felt as broken as it was possible to feel. She hated this. She didn't want to marry Rodolphus, she wanted…
But no. She couldn't have him.
Not a single shred of emotion showed on her face as she made her way through the chapel to where the priest and Rodolphus Lestrange awaited her. Rodolphus was beaming at her, but she barely glanced at him. Her eyes were scanning the guests – hundreds of them, because, as she had so rightly said, the Blacks needed an entourage – for the one face she wished desperately to see.
She heard the priest's words as though from a great distance. Do you, Rodolphus Lestrange, take Bellatrix Black to be your lawfully wedded wife, to love, honour and cherish so long as you both shall live? And even further away, Rodolphus's reply, I do.
There he was, she was sure of it. Bellatrix's eyes fixed on the man in the back corner. He was disinterested, not seeming to pay even the slightest attention to the wedding ceremony, but he was there, and that was what was important. Bellatrix stared at him, willing him to look back at her.
"…To be your lawfully wedded husband, to love, honour and cherish so long as you both shall live?"
Bellatrix became aware of the silence, and startled. Rodolphus was looking at her, a hint of desperation on his face.
Oh, damn, it's my turn.
"I do," she said immediately. But hidden in her bouquet of roses, like a child telling a lie, she crossed her fingers.
She had no delusions that doing so would protect her from divine retribution, should God decide that he had nothing better to do than penalize wives who broke their wedding vows. But she did so anyway. It kept her own peace of mind, and she felt less guilty about telling such a lie.
She had no intention of honouring or cherishing Rodolphus. Why would she? He was nothing.
She honoured and cherished only one man. That one. Far in the corner.
"Take me hard," Bellatrix whispered in Rodolphus's ear upon their wedding night. She had stripped herself naked and was eager for this part of marriage at least – no more sneaking around, hiding lovers from her parents and sisters. Now she at least had a man with whom she could not be faulted for bedding. Her hands ran up his chest and she tugged at his nipples, running her tongue around her lips. "Hard and fast and hot…"
Rodolphus seemed unwilling, hesitant. "It's… it's our wedding night…" he said quietly.
"I know that."
"Wouldn't you rather… wouldn't you rather… you know…" His face registered nerves and discomfort. "Wouldn't you rather make love, on our first night together, rather than just… just…"
"Fuck?" Bellatrix supplied. "No, I wouldn't. I like it rough and if you can't give me that…"
"I didn't say I couldn't!" Rodolphus protested, a flush rising in his face.
"Well, then, if you don't want to…"
"I didn't say that either!" He proved his point by shoving her down onto the bed and pressing down on top of her, struggling out of his trousers. Bellatrix's breath sped up as he grasped her shoulders and kissed her with all the force he could muster. Maybe she had underestimated Rodolphus Lestrange, maybe he was more of a man than she had thought. "I'll… I'll take you so hard you scream," he said, though his voice was tremulous and uncertain.
"Do it, Rod," she hissed, spreading her legs wide open for him.
He grasped onto the headboard for leverage and thrust inside her, hard. Bellatrix's head tipped back and she moaned enthusiastically. Yes, surely she had underestimated him, this wasn't bad at all…
But though at first he kept up a fast, hard pace, causing Bellatrix to moan with delight, he soon slowed. She let out a cry of frustration. "What?"
"I…" he said hesitantly. "I… are you sure… are you sure you're enjoying this?"
"Yes, damn it! Do it harder!"
"But- surely- doesn't it hurt?"
"Yes! That's the point! Now stop being so weak!" She arched against him, and though he set to thrusting again, he seemed reluctant to do anything rough enough that it might hurt her. "Come on, give it to me hard… hurt me…"
Rodolphus sighed, but he did as Bellatrix told him to, and Bellatrix moaned with ecstasy. She let her eyes fall closed as Rodolphus thrust into her, her back arching, and as his powerful body slammed against hers with all the force he could muster, she conjured before her eyes an image of another man. His face, which had been as smooth and emotionless as hers at the wedding, was twisted with passion.
Rodolphus was going limp and soft inside her, unable to enjoy such rough sex, but Bellatrix was too close to the edge to care. A few ever-weakening thrusts sent her over the edge, and she moaned, not the name of her husband, but the title of the man she had been so dedicatedly imagining was the one doing this to her.
Rodolphus tensed, froze, pulled away from her, but Bellatrix, lost in a blissful haze, couldn't have cared less.