"And how have you been, daughter, at Hogwarts?"
"Very well, father."
"You find nothing challenging? Nothing hard? "
"And have you enjoyed your classes?"
"Very well, father."
"And your friends?"
"Respectable pureblood Slytherins, of course. Did you think I would befriend children from other houses, father?" She said, slightly surprised at the question. She thought that he knew her to be utterly loyal to the family, thought that if she did something wrong, even at Hogwarts, they would know. Now, it seemed, nobody would know if she lied to them. Nobody would ever know, indeed, she was fairly confidant that her parents had not told them the truth of multiple occasions. So, what was the harm of lying to them? Though, of course, to the previously question there was but only that one answer, there might be, in the future, others that might be answered with falsehoods. Bellatrix, with the knife-sharp perception characteristic in children brought up in the Black family, saw at once that she had been wrong. What happens at Hogwarts, stays at Hogwarts, as long as nobody else knows about it.
" And now, Bellatrix, I must ask you something."
"Have you heard of the Cruciatus Curse?"
"From who?" He asked, surprised. A lesser child then Bellatrix might have blushed, but self control was drummed into the Black children young. Bellatrix paused for a second, debating what to say. She could hardly say "From you," although that would have been the truth. She had learned of the Unforgivable Curses during one of her spying excursions via the kitchen almost a year ago. She had been hesitant to try it while at Hogwarts, and had been planning to make use of the Christmas Break, and learn it. Clearly, that was not meant to be.
"At school." She said, after the briefest of pauses. She gazed up at him with her fathomless purple eyes, and gave him the tiniest of smiles. Her father nodded. He had expected, to a certain degree, how much school would teach Bellatrix, whether or not it intended to. She was fully capable of learning all manor of things not taught in the classroom. "Do you mean to teach me, father?" She asked, her voice light and emotionless, as if they were discussing the whether, not an almost deadly curse punishable by Azkaban.
"But you have to mean it, Bellatrix, truly mean it. It is not a spell that requires merely saying the words. You have to mean them, really mean to cause pain. Do you understand?"
"Yes, father." She said, and smiled. It struck him at that moment how young she was, to be learning spells like this. So young to be in control of such power, such wisdom. She's twice as smart as an average 12 year old. He told himself. Twice as smart as I was. There's no reason why she shouldn't learn it now. She's a daughter of Black, these things she needs to know.
" Then point your wand at the house-elf. Yes, like that. Then just say it, but remember: you have to mean it."
Bellatrix pointed her wand at the cowering house-elf, and felt her fingers trembling. I must do this. She thought. I must be able to mean it. That house elf serves my family, who in turn aim to shut me up for years and years with a idiot of a husband and a couple of snotty little brats. They would never let me serve him, like i want to. And besides that, he is a house elf, a piece of filth barely worthy of the right to serve us. He deserves it. She pushed a black curl out of her face, and straightened her dress, but did not hesitate as, for the first time, she preformed the spell that would become her hallmark.
"Crucio." She hissed, and immediately the house-elf began to writhe with pain, his screams echoing in the large hall. "Crucio." Bellatrix repeated, her voice stronger, louder. "Crucio." And her father was surprised at the venom in her voice, at the ease at which the deadly curse came to her lips, the strength of the pain she was inflicting on their servant.
"Crucio, Crucio." She said again, and laughed, her laughter slightly strange sounding in the empty room, the childish exclamation of joy half eroded by something heavier, stranger, something unfathomable but deadly. Cold, and tinged with the dark presence of a thing her father could not identify, could not name, but still sent a chill down his spine as he gazed at his daughter, Bellatrix, as she laughed and laughed and laughed.
" And do you like it, Bella?"
"Of course I do. You will to, Meda."
"I can't wait! Less then two years now. What did father want to see you about? He hasn't talked to me or Cissy for months and months. You're not in trouble, are you?"
"Of course not. He wanted to teach me something."
"Teach you what? A spell, or something?"
"Yes. A spell to cause pain, horrible pain."
"Look, there's a spider. Want me to show you?"
"No! No, that's okay."
"Not that again, Meda! It's just a spider. Father had me do it on that stupid house elf."
"That's horrible! What did he ever do to you?"
"Do? Meda, he's a house-elf."
"Oh well, if you're going to be like that, I'd rather show Cissy."