Disclaimer: This is story is unofficial and written not for profit. It is in no way connected with J.K. Rowling, Scholastic Books or Bloomsbury Publishing or Warner Bros. It is not endorsed by any of the aforementioned parties. Rights to characters and places is neither claimed nor implied.

Written for milominderbinder's Sylvia Plath Challenge. The chapter was inspired by the quote "And I, love, am a pathological liar." - from the poem Lesbos. The character Regulus Black was also chosen as part of the challenge.

Kreacher sloped into the room; green and silver banners decked the walls and the air was singed with the aroma of lit candles. His master was standing by the large sash window with its heavy velvet curtains, his youthful figure set against the hazy winter light that filtered through.

"Master. Mistress Black wishes you to join her in the drawing room," said the hunched elf.

"Thank you Kreacher; I will go down at once," He replied.

"Yes Master; thank you Master Regulus," stated the elf, disapparating back to the kitchens.

Regulus turned, his rich brown hair framed his regal-looking rectangular features ascribing a quality beyond that of his mere seventeen years. His hand inadvertently tugged at the right cuff of his robes. The burning sensation still lingered on his arm. The events of the previous night echoed through his mind - it had been his initiation. The ritual, the long black robes and the chanting had culminated as he knelt in-front of the tall striking figure of the Dark Lord. He had yelped like a puppy as the pain seared through his arm, causing a smattering of laughter to emanate from behind their skeletal silver masks. He had been branded and was now one of them; one of the Dark Lord's knights, a true Death Eater.

The dark mark that had been seared into his arm was an uneasy desecration of his flesh. He had thought that it would change him, make him feel part of something - more of a man, but it hadn't. It hadn't really affirmed anything: his insecurities still riled through him and his comrades' sadistic patter still turned his stomach. His mother, although aware of his associations, was yet to learn of his commitment. She would be pleased, though. The pure blood that ran through their veins was both her passion and her creed.

He made his way slowly down the large staircase to the drawing room. The unapologetic opulence of the large parlour was enhanced with the fripperies of the yuletide season. A sizeable tree stood to one side of the roaring fire. Stockings were suspended along the mantle, this would be the second year with his brother's missing from the row. He had felt Sirius' absence more than he liked to admit. Quietly he blamed it for the longing that had culminated with his recent investiture into the Death Eaters' ranks; seeking brotherhood among his Slitherin contemporaries.

His aunt was perched upon the chaise opposite his mother and his cousins were muttering to one another. The similarities in their features betrayed their familial bonds.

"Oh, hello dear! Do come in," called his mother as he entered the room. "Narcissa here has some delightful news..."

His striking cousin, naive and giddy with the flourish of young love, flipped her long blond tresses back over her shoulder. "Oh Regulus, you will never guess! Lucius has asked for my hand; he has asked to marry me." She happily waved the large gem on her hand toward him.

Of course, he already knew. Lucius had made light of the affair the previous night. It was her blood status rather than her charms that had been the attraction. The noble families had long intermarried; and their proposal was more of a continuation of tradition than a passion on his part. Regulus pitied his cousin inwardly while openly extolling his congratulations.

Bellatrix's knowing gaze colluded with his. She had been there, and she had heard Lucius' unashamed remarks. Narcissa was little more than a brood mare to him; there so that he could father the next generation of his unadulterated bloodline. She on the other hand had fallen deeply in love and his attentive courtship combined with his dashingly good looks had done nothing to discourage this assertion.

Conversely, the sham of Bellatrix's own relationship was evident; she had only been using the poor, and inadequate, yet loyal Rodolphus so that she could attend their meetings. Her true tastes were somewhat more exacting and the Dark Lord played upon this; both encouraging her and keeping her at arm's length.

"It was such a shame that I had to miss the announcement last night Cissy!" said Bellatrix, "Rodolphus just had to have me at that event! You know what it is like with these Ministry men and their gatherings... we just couldn't get away!"

"Oh, don't worry yourself Bella. I am just so happy... and you know now anyway; so what is the difference really?" Narcissa smiled happily, totally caught up in her own blissful state.

Bellatrix flashed a glance back at Regulus; to the others of their company she appeared apologetic and perhaps a little coy; but he knew better. He knew that after the initiation she had been included in the Dark Lord's mission. The Daily Prophet was already beginning to report on the unusual numbers of mysterious muggle deaths. Soon there would be another report. An initiation required more than just the brand... the commitment was written in blood.

Bellatrix made her way across the room. Taking his arm, she drew him away from the others and their talk of the pending nuptials.

"I don't know how you do it cousin!" he whispered, knowingly.

"Do what, my sweet Regulus?" she batted her eyelids, fully aware of her charms.

"You know Bell... I know where you were," he stated in hushed tones.

"What my mother doesn't know... isn't going to hurt her," She whispered. "Anyway, just because I am a woman doesn't mean that I am weak or that I can't be part of this; I can equal any man! You of all people can't say anything... unlike you, I didn't cry like a baby!" The tone in her voice became increasingly vicious as she spoke.

It was true, Regulus thought. His cousin had seemed to relish the pain as the Dark Lord branded her as his own. Regulus shuddered slightly as the dull ache from his own dark mark permeated along his arm. She had knelt next to him last night; a solitary woman; the first woman to join the most trusted of ranks. She had been formidable as a girl and now... now she had grown into a fearsome figure; made of passion and deviousness.

"Regulus! Bella! What are you two conspiring about back there?" called Andromeda in a teasing manner.

Regulus blanched slightly and looked at his feet, not wanting their mutual secrets to be revealed.

"Oh, you know dear sister! I was just telling Regulus here... what I have bought you for Christmas. However ...YOU will have to wait for tomorrow!" she punctuated her retort eloquently; gently making fun of her sister as she gestured to the colourfully adorned packages that encircled the base of the tree.

"I can't wait!" exclaimed Andromeda with a childish grin, "This really is my favourite holiday; I just love having all the family together." Andromeda's overt expressions of sincerity had always had the propensity to surprise Regulus; the two sisters although matched in looks were, in disposition like night and day.

Regulus looked back up, catching Bellatrix's gaze once more.

"Oh, my dear Bella, I am your cousin, I have known you my entire life and I am still flummoxed by your powers of persuasion." He whispered quietly as the colour returned to his checks.

"And I, love, am a pathological liar," she replied. Her eyes flashed mercilessly above the sweetness of her smile.

Author's note:

"And I, love, am a pathological liar" (taken from the poem Lesbos - Sylvia Plath)

I really like the idea that Regulus was never particularly happy as a Death Eater and that he joined as a way to gain acceptance following the ideals of his peers and his family.

Bellatrix has conversely been depicted as a young woman with feminist ideals (this was set in the 1970s) although comfortable with the notion of her own blood superiority she fought against the conventions ascribed to her gender by the traditions of the ancient pureblood families.

Bellatrix is fighting conventions while Regulus is trying to seek acceptance.