Author's Notes: Written for the au_bigbang on LiveJournal. The challenge was to write a long (in this case, over 5 000 word) story set in an "alternate universe".
Also... damn, how time flies. This is my 400th story. Happy four hundred, me!
alley_skywalker has created some excellent art for it, which can be seen at i51DOTphotobucketDOTcom/albums/f397/Alley_411/UAUfP2DOTjpg and i51DOTphotobucketDOTcom/albums/f397/Alley_411/UAUfPDOTjpg
Warnings: (Questionably researched) Medieval!AU, "first time" sex and slightly dubious consent.
Narcissa, Andromeda and Bellatrix were seated in the solarium, Andromeda and Narcissa with spinning and Bellatrix glowering over her embroidery. There had been silence for the last hour – pleasant silence from Andromeda's perspective, though she believed that her older sister most likely thought differently, but Bellatrix broke it abruptly.
"If I have to sew one more of these blasted crests, I shall scream," Bellatrix announced, throwing down her embroidery hoop, which held a handkerchief that she was meant to be decorating with the Black family crest so that she might add it to her dowry. "I don't see why we can't use magic…"
"Mother says that needlework done by wand has not the quality of that done by hand," trilled Narcissa, reciting to perfection the explanation that their mother had taught them. "Magic is to precious to be squandered upon such trivial things, in any case."
"Well, that's nonsense, isn't it?" snapped Bellatrix. "Mother doesn't know anything about magic – if she did, then she'd know that magic can't be used up, so we wouldn't be 'squandering' it if we used it for our needlework. And if it doesn't have the quality, well, who bloody cares? No one's ever going to be looking at the needlework on a handkerchief they only use to wipe their noses…"
"You're never going to be proposed to if you talk like that," Narcissa told her imperiously.
"Oh, as though I care." Bellatrix's eyes took on a hazy, dreamy look. "I have some higher ambitions than making a suitable marriage, I think."
"What sort of ambitions?" piped up Andromeda, who had been staying out of the argument, as per her usual behaviour. She blinked curiously at her sister. "You don't talk much about what you want to do – just what you don't want to."
"Oh, I don't know…" Bellatrix waved a hand vaguely through the air. "Something that people will remember me for after I'm dead. Perhaps I shall disguise myself as a man and–"
"Bella!" cried Narcissa, going quite pale at the mere notion. "You wouldn't!"
"You don't think that I would?" Bellatrix asked, her eyes narrowing into slits. "Why, Narcissa? Do you not think that I am brave enough to join an army? That's what I would do if I were a man…"
"An army!" Narcissa looked quite ready to faint. She fanned herself with one hand, clutching her spinning wheel. "You wouldn't, Bella – you would be risking your life! It isn't anything that a lady ought to be doing, much less a princess–"
"We are princesses in names only," snapped Bellatrix, "and scarcely even that. And I see no reason why a lady should not fight for a cause in which she believes."
"What cause do you believe in?" Andromeda asked curiously, setting down the heap of flax that she was balancing in her arms in the basket by her feet so that she might devote her full attention to Bellatrix.
"I said that I didn't know! But I wouldn't join an army unless I believed in the cause for which they fought."
"I don't believe that you ever would disguise yourself as a man," Andromeda said decisively, shaking her head. "You wouldn't like it."
"How would you know?" Bellatrix demanded indignantly. "You aren't me, so you can't have any idea what I would or wouldn't like, and besides, you've never done it! I think it would be lovely to disguise yourself and not have anyone know who you are…"
"I simply think that there are too many things about being a princess that you would miss too much to give up," Andromeda said sagely. "Like having people doing things such as cooking for you – how would you ever get along without that?"
"You talk as though I can do nothing useful by myself!" Bellatrix said indignantly. "I don't need other people's help all the time, you know!"
"Yes, you do," Andromeda told her. "I think that you'd last not two days outside the castle by yourself."
Bellatrix looked fit to burst with anger. She opened her mouth, presumably with the intent of screaming at her sister that she would survive perfectly well on her own, but before she could, the girls were mercifully interrupted by the house-elf, who scuttled in and bowed so low that his nose brushed the ground.
"Your royal highnesses," he said in a humble, gravelly voice, "their majesties the King and Queen sent Kreacher to fetch you. There is a visitor who requires the presence of their daughters."
"Who?" Andromeda asked.
"Kreacher does not know, your royal highnesses," he said, still bowing deeply. "Their majesties did not see fit to tell Kreacher…"
"No one important, I'm sure," Bellatrix scoffed dismissively, standing up and giving her hair a cursory pat, then starting for the door, not bothering to check her appearance in the tall silver mirror that furnished the solarium. Andromeda and Narcissa exchanged glances, then Andromeda followed Bellatrix downstairs and Narcissa hurried to the mirror to be sure that she looked her best.
Andromeda was gazing into space with unfocussed eyes as she walked down the stairs after Bellatrix, wondering if it would be easier to spin linen if she only kept a bit of flax on her lap because then it wouldn't be getting in her way, or if she would waste time reaching down and picking up more from the basket, and she walked straight into Bellatrix, who had frozen in her tracks. She, Bellatrix, clutched on the banister to keep upright, and Andromeda peered over her shoulder to see what she was looking at.
"Oh, sister…" Bellatrix turned, and her eyes were wide, an almost beatific smile spreading over her face. "Look."
Andromeda did look. Their parents were standing near the foot of the stairs, facing away from the girls, dressed in all their usual and familiar finery, and in front of them was a man. He looked to be slightly younger than the king and queen, but a good deal older than the princesses, and it seemed to be at him that Bellatrix was staring, so enraptured. Andromeda regarded her sister curiously.
"It is our guest, is it not?" she asked, wondering why his presence should have elicited such a reaction from Bellatrix. "We were told that we had a guest…"
"But look at him," breathed Bellatrix.
Andromeda looked, but she saw nothing remarkable.
"Is he not beautiful?" Bellatrix asked, lowering her voice to a whisper. "Have you ever seen – ever imagined – such a beautiful man in your life? I am sure that I have not…"
"Bellatrix!" Andromeda gasped. "You do not even know him! How can you say such things?"
"I did not say I know him, I said that he is beautiful!"
"And you should not say that! My God, Bellatrix…" Andromeda shook her head in horror. "You are speaking like a common woman!"
Bellatrix raised a hand to slap, then dropped it quickly, turning her back and striding down the stairs with all the dignity that she could muster. Andromeda followed at a distance of a few paces.
"Mother, Father," Bellatrix said, sweeping into a deep curtsey, then straightening. She kept her head politely bowed, but Andromeda had no doubt that her sister's eyes were flicking up to their guest.
"My daughters," King Cygnus said, indicating Bellatrix and Andromeda. Andromeda quickly bobbed a little curtsey and then inclined her head, looking at the floor just in front of her and occasionally chancing glances at their guest.
Closer up, Andromeda supposed that he was more attractive than she had originally thought him – taller than their father and handsomely pale, as though he had not seen sunlight in some time. It was a complexion that any lady would willingly kill for. He wore a dark robe and cloak that reminded Andromeda of a monk's clothing, the cowl pulled up over his head, though he was inside.
Father must not be pleased with that, she thought, reminded of the sharp reprimand that a stable boy had once received when he came inside with the hood of his cloak up. But perhaps this man – whoever he might be – was too important for Father to say anything to.
But who could be more important than the king?
"A pleasure," he said, and his voice was smooth and sharp as metal, but with a rather luxurious and sensual edge that sent a shiver up Andromeda's spine, for which she immediately felt horrible. Impure thoughts – I shall have to confess…
"Lord Voldemort," King Cygnus continued, looking away from his daughters now, "my wife and I welcome you to court."
"Your hospitality is greatly appreciated," he said, nodding slowly.
Lord… of lower stature, then. So why is there so much fuss?
"Lord Voldemort shall be at court for some time," King Cygnus told his daughters, looking at them.
"Yes, Father," Bellatrix murmured, and Andromeda noticed that her eyes were fixed quite firmly on their guest. "We are honoured to make your acquaintance."
"Such well-mannered girls…"
Bellatrix beamed, and Andromeda's lip curled in mild derision. Her sister was making a fool of herself, she thought. She was acting as though this man – this guest, this mere Lord was the most important man ever to come to court. Narcissa scurried down the stairs behind Andromeda and dropped into a curtsey at her side, and the two of them exchanged looks of derision at Bellatrix's simpering expression.
It came as nothing short of a profound relief when the princesses were dismissed, with the knowledge that they would be called down for dinner. They returned to the solarium, and moments later, Queen Druella swept in.
"My daughters," she said, rather stiffly, "I think it very important that we discuss this guest away from the ears of men."
"Mother?" Narcissa asked, blinking and tipping her head questioningly to the side. "What ever do you mean?"
"There are matters that women should speak of when men do not hear them," said Queen Druella. She sounded quite grim. "You understand, do you not? Matters that pertain only to our sex."
"What is it, Mother?" asked Bellatrix, rising to her feet and stepping towards their lady mother as though possessed. "Who is he?"
"Sit, Bellatrix," he told her, and she sat down slowly, her eyes fixed upon her and her whole body trembling slightly.
Queen Druella settled herself slowly in one of the high-backed chairs that lined the edge of the solarium, and her fingers clenched so tightly against the arms that her fingers went white. Her face looked pale and drawn.
"Do you girls understand," she asked, in a shaky voice, "that there are some… some forces in this world stronger than the power that a king possesses?"
"What forces, Mother?" asked Narcissa. She looked desperately confused by this whole matter. "Do you mean God?"
"Not as such, my darling," Queen Druella said. "God is beyond the power of any man, of course, but there are powers on Earth too… tangible forces…"
"Magic," Bellatrix guessed. "Magic is more powerful than a king."
"You do not understand." Queen Druella looked distressed. "I mean that there are people more powerful than kings."
The girls sat in stunned silence, then Andromeda shook her head.
"No," she said firmly, with the air of someone to whom the most basic of natural laws had been challenged. "There can be no people more powerful than kings. Kings are the most powerful. That is what makes them kings."
Queen Druella wrung her hands. "It is terribly complicated, my daughters. A matter of politics that I cannot hope for you to fully understand, for even I do not…"
"Is this to do with Lord Voldemort?" Bellatrix asked. She leaned forward slowly. "Is he such a person?"
Andromeda looked back and forth between her mother and sister, her eyes wide and attentive. Bellatrix looked ready to leap forward and shake the Queen if she was not given an answer soon, and she was gripping her embroidery tightly.
"That is not a question that I can answer," Queen Druella murmured, turning away from her eldest child. "Let it merely said that you must treat our guest with respect. I cannot explain all the reasons to you – as God knows, I understand few of them for myself – but please, my daughters, respect Lord Voldemort. And stay away from him as best you can."
"Yes, Mother," Andromeda said immediately. That order came as nothing but relief to her, for she did not feel much care for Lord Voldemort, and it would be no loss for her to avoid him.
"Yes, Mother," Narcissa echoed, all earnest solemnity.
There was a silence, and all three women turned simultaneously to look at Bellatrix.
She smiled sweetly, sitting back and looking down at her embroidery once more. Andromeda's eyes followed Bellatrix's, and a small thrill of disgust gripped her, for Bellatrix's hands were leaving damp prints upon the linen. But then Bellatrix looked back up at Queen Druella with the sweetest and most pious look that Andromeda could have imagined her sister giving.
"Of course, Mother," said Bellatrix. "As you say, of course."
Andromeda was watching, and Bellatrix wondered what suspicions her little sister was harbouring behind her silly, wide doe eyes. She, Bellatrix, had made the mistake before, of assuming that Andromeda was simple, and now she knew all too well that her sister was able to tell when Bellatrix was harbouring thoughts that she deemed "wrong". Or worse, there were those criminal thoughts that Andromeda only dared describe as "impure".
And oh, but Bellatrix's thoughts of Lord Voldemort were desperately impure.
It was all she could do to stop a flush rising in her cheeks as she sat and stitched and thought of him. Her breath came too quickly, and there was a tightness in her breast and an odd sort of tingling in her lower belly and between her thighs. Her hands shook as she tried to guide her needle through the delicate patterns she was trying to decorate a handkerchief with.
Bellatrix looked up swiftly. Darkness was falling outside the solarium, and Narcissa was standing at her side, hands clasped nervously at her breast, looking at Bellatrix as though she had gone mad.
"Yes?" Bellatrix asked, trying to shield the impatience that crept into her voice. "What is it, Narcissa?"
"Andromeda and I are going to go to bed…" she said tentatively. "Won't you come down?"
"I have never known you to spend so long upon embroidery," Andromeda added, and Bellatrix did not care for the shrewdness in her sister's tone.
"I will come down soon," said Bellatrix, as calmly as she could manage. "You two go on without me."
Narcissa nodded solemnly and immediately started down the stairs. Andromeda cast Bellatrix one last suspicious look, then followed, picking up her skirts as she walked out, with as much dignity as she could muster.
Alone at last, Bellatrix took a few seconds to wait for her sisters' footsteps to recede, then she cast down the embroidery and wiped perspiration from her brow and palms. Thoughts of their guest had made her skin slick with excitement.
She could have him…
The thought sent a fresh chill up her spine. She could have him – she was a princess, after all; surely he would not and could not deny her.
Bellatrix stood slowly, enraptured by the very thought. Her hands went absently to her face, wiping away the sheen of sweat again. Then, before she could decide against it, she picked up her skirts and marched down the stairs.
She made her way down the long corridor that housed guests when they had them. Most doors were opened, revealing handsome bedchambers, but one was closed firmly, and it was at that one that Bellatrix stopped.
She breathed deeply, drawing up her courage. Her hands were shaking, but she dared not stop to still them. She raised one fist and rapped firmly upon the door.
Once, twice, thrice, and there would be no turning away now.
The door swung inwards, and Bellatrix immediately sank into a polite curtsey.
"Princess…" Lord Voldemort sounded quite surprised, and Bellatrix felt a fresh thrill at the sound of his voice, so soft and smooth…
"My Lord," she replied, straightening, though she kept her eyes trained demurely upon the ground. "I wondered if I might speak with you…"
"Honoured as I am to have a visit from a princess, your royal highness," he said, and Bellatrix found herself enamoured by the way he said "your royal highness", "it would be deeply improper of me to invite her into my bedchamber…"
"Impropriety is not a concern that I hold… my Lord." She raised her eyes slowly to meet his, hoping that she looked sensual and perhaps a bit dangerous, instead of how she felt, which was rather foolish. "I often find myself plagued by improper desires, and I would gladly succumb to them…"
He frowned at her. "Such is a wicked thing for a princess to say, as I am sure you know…"
"I do know, my Lord… but…" She moved closer to him, her breath coming in fast, short pants, "I think that I would rather be a wicked girl than a princess tonight…"
"Your royal highness." He spoke firmly, still calmly. "Your father the King has been most gracious in allowing me lodgings here. It would be a terrible abuse of his hospitality were I to allow his daughter to disgrace herself–"
"But it would not be a disgrace!" she insisted. "No one need ever know…"
She sensed his hesitation. His eyes were upon her body now, and Bellatrix breathed in, arching her back slightly to highlight her breast. She could see desire flickering in his eyes behind the serious mask that he had been wearing.
"You may rest assured that it would be kept quite secret," she told him quietly. There was a battle raging inside him, she could see – lust against propriety, and neither of them qualities that she imagined him possessing in terribly high quantities.
"Come in if you will, then," he told her, and Bellatrix's whole body surged with excitement. Oh, but she had succeeded! She had caught him.
She stepped inside swiftly, and he shut the door behind her. The room was sparsely furnished – even the paintings that Bellatrix's mother had insisted upon hanging in every room were hidden away, though she knew not what the reason for that might be. By far the richest thing in the room was the bed.
And what a bed it was.
Near twice the size of that Bellatrix had slept in since her parents deemed it no longer appropriate for her to share a bed with her sisters (there had been whispered rumours that the decision had been made because of some scandal involving the Lestrange family's sons), the sheets were perfectly smooth, and Bellatrix quite privately hoped that before she left the room, they would be stained and rumpled beyond recognition.
"Princess…" breathed Lord Voldemort, and she turned, looking at him, aware that her eyes burned with excitement.
"If you will… you may call me Bellatrix," she told him breathlessly.
"Bellatrix, then. I wondered if you might tell me… are you untouched?"
She breathed deeply, then nodded, blushing deeply, though she should not have, given what she had every intention of letting him do to her. "I am, my Lord."
Hardly good, she thought, with a touch of disgust at herself. It means that I will not know how…
His hands rested upon her hips, and Bellatrix's breath caught in delight at the feeling of his caress. Fresh beads of sweat broke across her forehead, as his fingers found the laces in the front of her bodice. His eyes stared into hers, almost frighteningly intensely and Bellatrix stared back, a small sigh of want escaping her lips.
Then the laces were undone, and he had turned her around firmly, dragging on the ribbons of her corset, and Bellatrix felt her lungs fill with air as it tumbled off her, falling to the ground in a mess of sweaty linen and boning that she kicked aside hastily. Lord Voldemort spun her around once more and cupped her breasts in his cool hands, stroking them with light, steady touches. The feeling sent tremors down to her stomach, and then lower…
"My Lord…" Bellatrix panted, ecstatic. She did not know what to do with her hands, or how to touch him, so she stood still and let him run his fingers over her skin as though he was examining her.
She let out a yelp when he pushed her firmly down onto the bed, and then he was on top of her, and Bellatrix felt terror grip her. She did not like being pinned down. She wanted to be able to fight if it began to hurt, but Lord Voldemort was much stronger than her, and she dared not struggle or protest as he lifted up her petticoats and his hands moved between her legs. Bellatrix tensed automatically at the unfamiliar sensations, but something about the way he was touching her was making her weak with strange, alien pleasure.
"My Lord," she whispered again, and her eyelids fluttered shut while he stroked her sensitive flesh.
"Princess," he replied, and then he grasped her wrist and pulled her arm forward. Bellatrix's eyes opened wide, and she stared in a mixture of shock and fascination as he wrapped her hand firmly around his erection.
"I- don't know what to do…" she whispered, flushing. His skin felt hot beneath her touch, and though the medical texts from the library had taught her the barest mechanics of what a woman and man did in bed, none of them had ever contained a word about how she was to touch him…
"Stroke it," he told her. She hesitated, but petted him gently, like she had petted the kittens that Narcissa had once kept. He moaned, and Bellatrix froze, terrified that she might have hurt him, but he shook his head.
"That's right… like that…" he told her, his voice thick and rough. She complied nervously, managing a few more shaky caresses before he grasped both of her hands and wrenched them above her head, pinning them in place.
"Hush," he told her, an almost frightening sneer curling on his lip. "It's time to rid you of your virginity, and you wouldn't want to spoil it by talking…"
Something brushed between Bellatrix's legs. She took in a sharp breath, and then let it out in a cry as a searing pain stabbed through her lower body. It felt as though she was being ripped in half – in fact, yes, she was being ripped in half, for when she looked down, struggling against Lord Voldemort's grip, she saw blood between her legs.
"It- hurts!" was all she could manage, but he did not so much as acknowledge her. He thrust deeply and quickly between her legs, and Bellatrix turned her head and buried it in the pillow, tears streaming from her eyes.
"Oh, now don't cry, Princess…" he told her, and Bellatrix felt nothing but relief when he slid out of her and his hand replaced his erection between her thighs. "The pain will go away in a few moments…"
"It hurts," she repeated quietly, but now that he was touching her – his hand so light and gentle, so different from how he had been a moment ago – it didn't hurt so terribly much. In fact, she was beginning to feel that curiously pleasant flutter in her belly again.
"Breathe deeply," he told her, then his hand moved away and Bellatrix bit back a cry when he slid inside her again.
And this time it felt far better…
"My Lord," she whispered, her hands bunching in the sheets. "My Lord, that- oh, that–"
"I knew that you would enjoy it," he panted quietly, and he increased his speed. Bellatrix clenched about him, a thrill of delight running through her body, and she gasped for air as he brushed a particularly and curiously sensitive spot inside her.
"Oh, my Lord!"
She felt a rush of hot liquid inside her, and Lord Voldemort moaned in her ear. Then he had pulled out, and Bellatrix felt the most delicious sense of relief flood her. The pain between her legs had stopped, replaced with a dull, throbbing sort of pleasure, and something in her chest felt fluttery and odd.
She sighed in delight, curling against Lord Voldemort beneath the sheets. He lay still, almost stiff, for long enough to cause Bellatrix to doubt herself, but then his hand moved to rest on her lower back.
"I should thank you, Princess," he said, and Bellatrix was hurt by the sudden and severe coldness in his voice. He had not sounded like that in the past, nor had he when he was making love to her.
"Bellatrix," she reminded him, putting her hand upon his cheek and withdrawing swiftly when he slapped it away. It felt like a rebuke, and it hurt, for she did not know what she might have done to upset him.
"Was I… have I not pleased you, my Lord?"
He was silent a moment, then his voice turned once more into the satiny tones he had used with her before. "Of course that is not the case, Princess – you pleased me very well."
"Are you upset with me?" she asked, in a tremulous little voice. She could not have said what had put her in such a state – she was not usually the sort to cry when someone was displeased with her, but she felt so weak and different somehow that she could not help the tears filling her eyes.
"No, not upset… just thinking…"
"Of what, my Lord?"
He considered her, then spoke quietly, with such intensity in his voice that it frightened her. "I think that you should leave this place with me."
Bellatrix reeled at the mere thought. "My Lord! You do not mean… marriage?" The idea set her heart fluttering, and she gasped softly while she tried to comprehend the thought.
"No, Princess, I mean no such thing." He sounded impatient, and Bellatrix wilted a little, sinking back onto the cushions, disappointment all over her face. "I have no interest in taking a wife."
"There shall be no argument." His eyes narrowed to slits. "I thought, Princess, that you had higher ambitions than marriage – is that not what you said to your sisters this very morning?"
"How- how did you know…?"
"I know many things, Princess," he told her. "Suffice to simply say that I know. And I know you. I know that you are more skilled at magic than your sisters, or the good Queen would wish to believe… and I do believe that if you were to come with me, then you would have far more opportunity to hone those skills than if you were to stay here…"
"My Lord, I do not know–"
"Do not lie to me, Princess. You know quite well what you wish to do. You cannot bear the thought of staying here and being married off to some prince… would it not suit you far better to come away with me and…"
"Perhaps it is best for you not to mind what you would do when you came with me," he said thoughtfully. "Suffice to say that it would be a good deal more interesting than marriage to a prince or other such dull man… far more to your tastes…"
"You cannot know that, my Lord."
"Oh, but I can." He caught her chin in his hand, forcing her to look him in the eye. "I can. You would be… fighting for a cause. That appeals, does it not?"
Bellatrix's throat caught with fear and she jolted away. "How do you know so many of my thoughts?" she whispered, terrified. He looked not the slightest bit perturbed by her behaviour.
"I have already answered – I know many things."
"That is no answer, my Lord."
"Does it matter?" He looked quite prepared to give her a slap. "I am correct, am I not? You would prefer to come with me than to stay here?"
"I could not answer, my Lord…"
"Very well." He tugged the blankets away from her, and she let out a small squeak, suddenly ashamed and blushing, covering herself. "It would be best, then, for you to return to your own bedchambers now. Your company has been much appreciated."
"Go!" he snapped at her.
Bellatrix had to hide her tears as she tumbled out of the bed, gathered up her dress and slid it back on over her head, not bothering with corsets or petticoats, and hurried for the door. She felt so desperately ashamed…
Bellatrix turned back, struggling to keep her face smooth and proud as she faced Lord Voldemort once more.
"Yes, my Lord?"
"Should you change your mind," he said, rather quietly, "and decide that you do indeed wish to join me and my cause, then all you need do is say…"
"Thank you for the offer, my Lord," she said shortly, then fled the room before she fell apart entirely.
Her breath came fast and heavy and she buried her face in her hands as she stood outside his door. What had she done? She had ruined everything, her reputation, thrown away her virginity for such a simple little moment of lust…
And it had been so good…
No, she should not think that. She should not have taken pleasure in such a sinful act… with a man who would not even marry her (though she had not expected him to), with a man who had only taken her bed to tell her to come away with him…
And for what?
She should have asked, really. She should have asked him what he wanted from her…
No, she should not have! That would only compound the sin…
That is something that Andromeda would say to you! Bellatrix told herself severely. You cannot dwell on sins now!
She returned to her bedchamber, removing her dress and curling in the clean, cool sheets, and trying to send away thoughts of Lord Voldemort.
But while she lay there, still feeling her skin tingle where he had touched her, she could not help but think that perhaps she would have to find him alone soon, so that she might ask him just what she would have to do for him to take her away…