Author's Notes: Written for Lady Eleanor Boleyn's Christmas Carol Challenge on xoxLewrahxox's Bellatrix Lestrange: The Dark Lord's Most Faithful Forum.

"Your challenge for the next two weeks, should you choose to accept it, is to write a story using one or more Harry Potter Characters and a Christmas Carol. You can just reference the Christmas Carol if you wish, but there has to be at least one mention of a carol."

This piece is based on the song The Holly and the Ivy.

532 words.

)O(

The winter that Bellatrix was thirteen years old and Narcissa was nine, Bellatrix brought her little sister outside on Christmas morning to show her two plants that grew in the gardens of Black Manor.

"Look there, Cissy," Bellatrix said, pointing at the sprigs of emerald green that shone against the snow. "That's holly and ivy. Isn't it pretty?" She knelt down and separated the plants, showing Narcissa the broad holly leaves and branches, with delicate little ivy vines all twisted around them.

Narcissa had nodded. Yes, it was pretty. She had liked the fine ivy with its perfect leaves, looking so frail that they might crumbled to dust if you so much as touched them, and its deep purple berries – almost black. Narcissa thought the ivy was beautiful, and she had said as much to Bellatrix.

"Well, you would like ivy," Bellatrix had told her, looking down and nodding. "You're very like ivy, you know."

"No, in what way?"

"Oh… you know…" Bellatrix waved a hand dismissively through the air. "Pretty. Frail."

"Oh."

Bellatrix's words had stuck, and Narcissa had thought about them, not only for the rest of the day, but for a long time after that, pondering exactly what she meant? Did Bellatrix really think that she, Narcissa, was pretty? Did she really think she was frail?

If she was the ivy, did that make Bellatrix the holly?

Weeks later, after Bellatrix went back to school, Narcissa went out to the gardens again to look at the plants. And this time she looked properly at the holly, and tried to see Bellatrix in it.

The holly plant had beautiful crimson berries, hanging in little clusters below its brilliant green leaves. The berries were so richly coloured that it was hard to believe they were real, and Narcissa had a sudden mad urge to reach out and pick them. She snatched almost involuntarily, and–

"Ouch!"

Narcissa's hand snapped back, a drop of blood upon her pale fingertip from the prickles on the holly plant. The barbs were as sharp as any thorn, and they had startled her.

Narcissa stayed far away from the holly and the ivy after that, regarding the holly and its thorns with wariness. But time passed, and eventually she forgot all about both plants, retaining only a vague memory of disliking holly, without quite knowing why.

It was many years later that Narcissa was reminded of the holly and the ivy once again, and this time, when she considered the similarities between herself and the ivy and Bellatrix and the holly, the comparison stung. The holly was so beautiful and majestic – it might as well be wearing a crown, she thought bitterly. Those berries didn't look so pretty and ripe to Narcissa anymore. They looked like drops of blood, garish and frightening, dripping off the branches.

And the ivy, the poor, stupid, frail ivy was hanging onto it. The ivy, with its dark bitter berries and soft, fragile leaves was so inferior to its sister. But it wouldn't let go of the holly because without it, it would just get trampled into the ground.

Yes, the holly was very like Bellatrix, and the ivy very like Narcissa.

)O(

Fin