Author's Notes: Written for Armontentia, following a comment about Helena Bonham Carter's orange hair in the Dark Shadows trailer.
"Oh, don't be so stuck-up about it, Bella," Narcissa said, pulling the comb through her sister's hair as best she could. "If you want to get rid of the grey, you have to get your hair dyed. You should be pleased that there are at least spells to do it so you don't have to use that foul paint stuff that Muggles do." She let out a delicate little shudder.
"I don't trust you with my hair," Bellatrix said darkly. "Not when you look like a skunk."
Narcissa stiffened. "I do not!"
"Yes you do! Who told you to put a great bloody black streak through it? You used to have such pretty blonde hair…"
"I was tired of people saying I looked too much like Lucius," Narcissa said with all the dignity she could muster. "And what I do with my own hair is my business. I'm not going to put streaks in yours, I'm just going to touch up the grey bits."
"Oh, yes, you say that now, but…"
"I mean it!" Narcissa insisted. "I promise your hair will be all the same colour when I'm done – no grey, and no streaks. Though, I think you'd look quite nice with a bit of highlighting–"
"All right, all right!" Narcissa set down the comb and drew her wand, carefully examining her sister's mass of curls. "Now, just hold still… and maybe close your eyes, it makes me nervous to have you watching me."
"It makes me nervous to not be watching you," Bellatrix muttered mutinously, but she closed her eyes anyway and waited, holding her breath.
There was a long silence, and Bellatrix's heart pounded faster and faster and she clenched her fists in anticipation. Perhaps it was paranoia, but she thought that she sensed Narcissa hesitating.
"Nothing!" Narcissa said quickly. "I'm just… trying to work out exactly what colour to do so it matches the rest of your hair perfectly."
"Would you hurry up?"
"I am hurrying! Now be quiet, I can't concentrate!"
Bellatrix pressed her lips together and waited, the anticipation quite painful. Finally, Narcissa said, "Aha!" and Bellatrix felt a warm, tingling sensation covering her scalp.
"Are you done?" she asked excitedly. "Can I look now?"
There was a long, painfully awkward silence, and then Narcissa squeaked, "Well… actually…"
Bellatrix's eyes flew open.
"Oh, bloody Hell, Cissy, what did you do?"
Bellatrix stared in horror at her reflection. Her hair – her beautiful dark curls of which she was so proud – had gone… gone…
"I didn't mean to!" Narcissa squeaked. "It's just that the incantations for black hair and orange hair are so similar–"
"I look like a Weasley!"
"No, you don't! You… you don't have freckles…" Narcissa trailed off weakly and Bellatrix glared at her.
"Death Eaters," Bellatrix hissed, "do not have orange hair."
"But you wear hoods…" Narcissa said meekly, then quickly shut her mouth at the look on her sister's face.
"How am I going to show my face at meetings looking like this? Fix it, Narcissa, or I swear I'll kill you!"
"I don't know how to fix it," Narcissa said, wincing. "There isn't a countercharm that I know of… and… if I tried to dye black over it, it would only last a few minutes before the orange started showing again…"
"Your regret doesn't do me much good, now, does it?" Bellatrix snapped. She clawed at her bright orange mane, as though she could scratch the colour out of it. Narcissa winced.
"It'll grow out," she said, clearly trying her hardest to sound encouraging. "It's just hair…"
"'It's just hair?' It's just hair? It's orange!"
"I said I was sorry."
"Find a countercharm!" Bellatrix ordered. "I don't care if you have to sell your soul to do it – I want my hair black again!"
"All right, all right!" Narcissa cried, leaping up and backing away from her sister's fury. She turned and ran, slamming the bedroom door behind her.
Bellatrix turned back to the mirror and stared a moment longer at her reflection, then buried her face in her hands.
How could she let the Dark Lord see her like this?
"Bellatrix," the Dark Lord said when she arrived at the meeting that night with her hair bound up in one of Narcissa's silk scarves, "kindly remove that thing from your head."
Bellatrix touched it self-consciously. She had done her best to choose a dark, simple scarf from Narcissa's rainbow of silks, and this – an old black one with crimson roses embroidered on it – had been the best she could find. It was better than orange hair, at least, but she still looked ridiculous and she knew it.
"I… I'd prefer not to, my Lord."
"Are you defying me, Bellatrix?"
"No, my Lord, of course not!" she said, shaking her head quickly.
"Then you will do as I say."
"Surely it is not so important, my Lord…"
She flushed crimson, eyes swimming with tears of humiliation, but slowly reached up and unwound the scarf from her head, allowing her vibrantly orange curls to tumble down over her shoulders. With all the dignity she could muster, her head held high and not making eye contact, she swept over to her seat at the table, sat down, and tried to ignore the stares of the other men – and especially the Dark Lord.