For the QLFC S6 semi-finals

Prompt: Salem: Cupid Carries a Gun — Marilyn Manson

Optional prompts: (word) medieval, (word) chess piece, (quote) 'Maybe that's part of the nightmare, having just enough freedom thrown at you to tempt you, knowing it's an illusion.' — Grace & Fury, Tracy Banghart


The door to her bedroom creaks open and the bulbous head of their house elf peers through to where the three sisters are lounging.

"The mistress requests Miss Bellatrix's presence in the sitting room," he whispers, bowing quickly to them before making himself scarce.

That's unusual. Druella Black preferred to leave her daughters alone in the summer, leaving them to call on their pureblood friends or play at their leisure. She was a hand-off type of parent, and the three of them preferred it that way as well. The only time they really saw her was at the dining table, in which they were required to take a formal dinner with the entire family.

"Someone's in trouble," Narcissa snickers. Andromeda hits her upside the head and is about to scold her before Bellatrix waves a careless hand.

"Leave it," she commands. "I'll see what she has to say."

Her two sisters oblige, and Bellatrix left to see what her mother has in store for her.

It's marriage. Bellatrix simply blinks languidly at the announcement, but inside she's seething. She had known what was expected of her—of course she had—but she hadn't expected it to come so soon. It's medieval and barbaric, she thinks. She's only seventeen.

For as long as she's known, she's heard the incessant pounding of a drum in her ears, quiet at first, but growing steadily louder as the years have gone by. It's this pounding that she hears now, drowning out her mother, her thoughts, her everything.

"No," she says, the word slipping out unbidden. Immediately, she knows she's crossed the line.

"No?" her mother whispers, soft and dangerous. "You dare question my decisions?"

"No, mother," Bellatrix says, quickly backtracking. She hates the chains that her parents impose of her, hates the stifling rules and restrictions of the pure blood world, but she's not a fool. "I would never."

But Druella is furious now. She rises to her feet and backhands Bellatrix, whose neck snaps painfully even through the stinging on her cheek. Druella's ring leaves a deep gash straight across her cheek and warm blood leaks out and runs down her face. "You dare question my authority? Who do you think you are? You're just a complete fool of a child who thinks they know best."

"Yes, mother," Bellatrix agrees, leaving her eyes downcast on the carpet and her back slouched in perfect subjugation.

"We have a reputation to uphold. I won't have you mar the Black name. Are you listening to me, young lady?" comes another biting remark. Bellatrix just barely resists the urge to roll her eyes and simply nods meekly instead.

"Yes, mother," she agrees again.

"If you understand then get out of my sight!" her mother snarls, gesturing sharply to the door. "Out!"

Bellatrix backs gracefully out the door. The moment she's out, she drops the demure expression from her face and tosses her hair back, striding confidently back to upstairs to her room. She's intercepted by a house elf tidying up the hallway, who squeaks in alarm at the blood on her face.

"Yora can help clean the b—" it begins saying. Bellatrix lashes out with a kick and sends the thing flying against the hallway wall. It makes her feel better immediately.

She enters the room she had left not ten minutes ago. Her sisters shut their mouths once they see the state of her face and her dark mood, choosing instead to continue playing their game of chess.

Eventually, Andromeda asks, "So what happened then?"

"I'm getting married, is what mother wanted to tell me," Bellatrix snaps. "I feel like I'm in a nightmare."

"Maybe that's part of the nightmare, having just enough freedom thrown at you to tempt you, knowing it's an illusion," Andromeda says softly. She holds a chess piece between her fingers and turns it over and over and over again. The two of them eye each other across the room, because they both know who's next.

Bellatrix curls her hand over the wand hidden in her robe sleeve, feels the comfort of wood, of magic, of power. She won't become a trophy wife—a business transaction. No, she wants more.

Bellatrix hears of the meeting through the grapevine, through her old buddies from Hogwarts over lunch one day.

"Do you know of Voldemort?" they ask her in undertones, before looking around and giggling nervously.

The name doesn't strike a bell. "Tell me more," she says, eyes narrowed at the idiotic lot of them.

"He's the leader of this new movement. He's a champion of pure blood wizards, you know, true wizards, and he's had enough of the ministry faffing about trying to pretend we're equal to mudbloods."

Interesting. Bellatrix nods thoughtfully, taking the information in.

Another one chimes in. "My husband is going to their first meeting in a fortnight. Apparently it's going to be pretty spectacular."

And so Bellatrix goes. She stands coolly by the door at midnight, where her husband finds her after attempting to sneak out by himself.

He eyes her imperiously. "This meeting isn't for women," he says. "Go back to sleep Bellatrix."

And it's building, this noise in her head. She can hear the witch drums pounding in her head, building to a crescendo and strengthening her conviction. "No," she says. "And if you try to stop me, I will fight you—and I don't think you'll win."

He mutters angrily under his breath before pulling the hood of his cloak up. "Fine," he snaps. "Let's hurry."

The two of them escape into the night and find an isolated hill a good distance away from civilization. From there, they use a portkey to transport themselves into what looks like a eerie graveyard.

They're one of the later arrivals. In front of them was a sea of black on black on black, with a singular person standing in the center with his hood off. His profile is sharp and handsome under the moonlight and he stands with conviction. Bellatrix's heart constricts and the air is knocked out of her lungs.

"Mudbloods," Voldemort spits in disgust, looking handsome and just and righteous, "are a blight on this world."

Yes.

"We must exterminate them at all costs. For too long, us pure blooded heirs of Salazar have let this pass, but no longer."

Yes.

"The time is now."

Yes.

The pounding stops and Bellatrix is free.