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Chapter 23 : At Your Service
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On Sunday, Bellatrix awoke and saw that it had snowed heavily, and the entire lake was frozen solid and there was snow everywhere.
“Guys, wake up!” Bellatrix practically shouted. “It’s snowing!”
One of Bellatrix’s roommates, Penelope, groggily awoke and said, “Wassat, Bella?”
“You’re going to have to wake up a lot more than that!” Bellatrix said excitedly. She leaped onto Penelope’s bed and landed on her knees. She energetically shook Penelope awake.
“Okay, okay, I’m awake,” Penelope said with a small laugh. “Now, what’s the big emergency?”
“It’s snowing!” Bellatrix said excitedly.
“You woke me up on a Sunday morning because it’s snowing?” Penelope grumbled. “Go back to sleep.”
“No way!” said one of the other girls in their dorm, Hannah. “I’ll go out in the snow with you. Just give me a second to get dressed.”
“Thanks, Han,” Bellatrix said. “I have to get dressed, too.”
She quickly changed into her robes, and as soon as she was changed, she heard the other girl in her dorm, Kristie, say, “Hey Bella? I almost feel stupid for asking this, but can I go outside with you?”
Bellatrix put her hands on her hips and spun around to face Kristie. “It’s just unfortunate that I can’t physically stop you from going outside without doing anything that’ll earn me at least a detention. Which, considering that I’m Head Girl and can officially dole out detentions, is something that I really don’t want to do. Do you see where I’m going with this?”
“Absolutely. Permission to go outdoors, not with you.”
Bellatrix smirked. “Precisely.” She turned to Hannah. “You ready to go?”
“Yeah,” Hannah said. “You know,” she added as they walked out of the dorm together, “I spent the first ten years of my life where it was really hot and never, ever snowed, so I tend to get over-excited every time I see even one snowflake.”
“Have you ever seen just one snowflake?” Bellatrix asked curiously.
Hannah grinned sheepishly. “No, but you get the idea.”
“I know,” Bellatrix smirked. “Trust me, I get it.”
“What are you two ladies up to?” asked a voice from behind them. Bellatrix turned around and saw Rodolphus looking at her expectantly.
“We’re going outside to play in the snow,” Bellatrix said coolly. “You’re not invited.”
“Fine, Your Majesty,” Rodolphus said. “Have fun, my love.”
Bellatrix scoffed and turned around again. She and Hannah both turned and walked out of the common room.
“Okay, Bella, enlighten me,” Hannah said as they walked up the stairs. “Do you really want to spend time with me specifically or do you really hate Kristie and Rodolphus?”
Bellatrix shrugged. “I’ve hated Kristie ever since first year. And Rodolphus, well, something happened with us yesterday that I still haven’t exactly forgiven him for yet.”
“That’s harsh,” Hannah said sympathetically. “But, Bella, I’ve never seen you be that mean to Kristie. I mean, you do have to give her some credit. She somehow managed to worm her way into Slytherin even though she’s muggle born, so that must mean that she did something right. Like, way extreme right.”
Bellatrix shrugged. “You’re probably right, but I don’t care.”
Hannah laughed. “You’re never going to change, are you?”
“No, I don’t plan to.”
Hannah shrugged. “It’s okay. I kind of like you the way you are.”
Bellatrix had a lot of fun playing out in the snow. After everything she’d been through over the last month, it felt so good to just feel like a kid again. When they were finished, they went inside, but Narcissa stopped Bellatrix in the hallway before they got back to the common room.
“Hey, Bella, can I talk to you for a minute?” Narcissa asked.
“Yeah, sure,” Bellatrix said. She looked at Hannah. “I’ll talk to you later,” she said. Then she followed Narcissa into an abandoned classroom. “Cissa, what’s up?”
“I just…need to talk to you,” Narcissa said nervously. She sat on a desk and put her feet on a chair. Bellatrix did the same on the desk next to it.
“Okay…” Bellatrix pressed.
Then something just kind of came over Narcissa and she said, “Bella, if you have something you’d rather do, you can go ahead and we can talk later. I’m just—I’m really nervous.”
“No, no, it’s okay,” Bellatrix assured her youngest sister. “What is it?”
“Okay. Well, I don’t really know how to say this, so I’m just going to say it. I—” she stopped mid-sentence.
“Cissa, I promise, nothing you can say can top something I could tell you,” Bellatrix said.
“I know,” Narcissa said. “But that’s kind of what I want to talk to you about. Okay. I’m just going to say it. Okay, well you know how at the beginning of the year me, you, and Meda kept fighting about everything, and most of the fights were all your fault?”
“Do you have to remind me of that?” Bellatrix groaned.
“Yes, because it’s important in the point I’m trying to make. Well, this year has been like a huge changing year for all of us. We’ve all been dealing with a lot. I mean, Meda’s getting married next summer, you’re doing all that stuff with Rodolphus and the Dark Lord, and I’ve been through all that stuff with Lucius at the beginning of the year and then with my big thing with Rabastan pretty much blowing itself way out of proportion—”
“Wait—what’s going on with you and Rabastan? Are you talking about Rabastan Lestrange? Rodolphus’s brother?”
Narcissa suddenly looked extremely guilty. “Um, Bella? I love you so much.” She leaned over and hugged Bellatrix.
“What’s going on?”
“Well, you know how on Saturday we went to Hogsmeade together? It wasn’t because I have any kind of romantic feelings toward him at all. I mean, not only because he’s two years older than me, but I just don’t like him that way.”
Bellatrix didn’t want to say anything, but Narcissa stopped talking, so she felt like she had to. “Cissa, did you love Lucius?”
“Yeah, he’s four years older than me, I know. But, yeah, I did—and, I know this probably sounds weird, but a part of me still does. But anyway, back to Rabastan. He’s been, sort of, helping me all year.”
“Helping you do what?”
“Well, I don’t know how, but somehow he got word that I’m really into, like, the dark arts and stuff, so he’s sort of been helping me all year.”
“He’s just selflessly helping you with the dark arts?”
“No. I’m paying a huge price for it, but it’s really, really worth it.”
“What price?” Bellatrix asked suspiciously.
“Well…it’s kind of funny that you mention Lucius, because I’ve sort of been in this whole huge plot with Rabastan and Lucius all year. See, did you know that Rodolphus has a twin sister?”
“No,” Bellatrix said in amazement. “I never had a clue! He never once told me that he has a twin sister. And—why doesn’t she go to Hogwarts?”
“Because she’s a squib,” Narcissa said simply. “Their family disowned her after they figured out that she wasn’t magical. So when they kicked her out, she went to the Malfoy Manor to try to ask Lucius’s father if he would hire her as a servant. He agreed, but this year, she sort of decided that since she was technically of age by the wizarding world’s standards, she should try to get a place of her own. She had been saving up every Knut that the Malfoys gave her, and she had more than enough money to get a small flat or something. But Lucius’s father wouldn’t hear of it, she went crying to Rabastan, and he offered to help me with the Dark Arts if I could get Lucius to convince his father to let Rabastan’s sister leave.”
“Why couldn’t Rabastan just ask him himself?” Bellatrix asked.
“Because it was Lucius’s idea,” Narcissa said. “He really wanted her to stay.”
“Because. I don’t know. But, anyway, if you’re wondering why Lucius and I got together in the first place, that’s why. But now that we’ve sufficiently broken the ice, there’s still that thing that I need to tell you.”
“Oh, sorry,” Bellatrix said, realizing how off-track they’d gotten. Hopefully it would make Narcissa more relaxed, though.
“Well, okay, Bella, I want to tell you that absolutely no matter what happens, I’m always going to be on your side. I mean, remember at the beginning of the year when I got really mad at you because of that thing you got Meda for her birthday?”
Bellatrix smiled. “Are you kidding? I practically couldn’t live with myself.”
“I know, so I’m making a vow that I’ll always take your side from now on.”
“Why?” Bellatrix asked. “I mean, I love you and I know you love me, but why do you feel the need to always take my side, no matter what?”
“Because I get that you’re going through a lot, and I want to stand by you through thick and thin.”’
“It actually hasn’t been that big of a deal lately. I mean, since I got back to school. Well, except for that one Hogsmeade thing.”
Narcissa suddenly looked at Bellatrix as if she’d grown a second head. She was just starring at her, as though looking for something,
“Hey, Bella, look at me a minute,” Narcissa said nervously.
“Why? What—what’s up?”
“Just do it,” Narcissa said. Bellatrix looked at her and Narcissa said, “Bella, I think your eyes changed colors.”
“Well, you know how some people have those eyes that go from blue to green to blue to green, depending on what color robes they wear or whatever? Your eyes have never done that. They’ve always been blue. But now they’re green.”
“How did that happen?” Bellatrix asked.
“I don’t know, but it’s kind of creepy,” Narcissa said. “And besides, I kind of liked you having blue eyes with me.”
Bellatrix smirked. “I liked having blue eyes with you, too, Cissa,” she said.
Narcissa grinned and pushed her. “Shut up,” she laughed. Soon both girls were laughing, and Bellatrix found herself wanting to savor the moment forever. There couldn’t possibly anything wrong with a world where her little sister loved her.
The next day in Potions, Bellatrix was sitting by Rodolphus, as usual, and she couldn’t help thinking about his sister. She didn’t want to ask him about her, but she really wanted to know. She shook her head of the thought and returned to her potion. Then she looked up at Slughorn, who flashed a smile in her direction. She smiled back, then once again returned to her potion, determined not to let anything distract her that time.
Which worked like a badly-cast charm. She felt a searing pain shoot up her arm. It felt somebody was standing behind her and whacked her funny bone with all their strength. She grabbed her arm in an attempt to lessen the pain, but it only got increasingly worse. Rodolphus looked over at her and laughed. “Told you,” he muttered under his breath.
Bellatrix was nearly in tears from the pain. She hated her Dark Mark! She loved the wizard who gave it to her, but she hated the stupid thing itself.
“Rodolphus, what do I do?” Bellatrix grimaced. She looked up at him.
“Go,” he said. He looked over at Slughorn, who was helping Brian Callwin with his potion. “I’ll cover for you.”
“Thank you,” Bellatrix said, barely getting the words out. She silently slipped out of the room. She had no idea how she was supposed to get to the Dark Lord. She knew exactly where he was. She could somehow just feel it. Except there was one small problem: she couldn’t Apparate on Hogwarts grounds. She walked quickly, knowing exactly where she was going and not having a clue how to get there. And it didn’t help that her Dark Mark hurt so much more with each passing second.
Then Bellatrix got a brilliant idea. There was a secret passageway out of Hogwarts that led to Hogsmeade. She sort of knew where it was, but didn’t know exactly. She had never used it before, but Narcissa had used it all the time before her third year to meet Bellatrix and Andromeda.
Bellatrix found the witch statue and tapped it with her wand. “Dissendium,” she said as clearly as she could.
As soon as Bellatrix got to Hogsmeade, she immediately Apparated to where the Dark Lord was waiting for her. As soon as she did, the pain in her arm vanished.
“Where were you?” he asked impatiently.
“I am so sorry, My Lord,” Bellatrix said sincerely. “I came as quickly as I could.”
“No matter. I’ll deal with you later. Bellatrix, this is Jim Marlow. Marlow, this is Bellatrix Black. You two are going to go together to a place called Finischnick Bottoms. There’s a vampire coven that’s settled there, and I’d like to get them on our side if I can. They’re extremely powerful. Take that as a warning as well as a motivation. Do anything it takes to get their support.”
The guy named Marlow nodded. “Sure thing, My Lord,” he said quickly.
The Dark Lord looked like he was considering something, then he said, “Marlow, you go. Bellatrix will be there in a minute.”
Marlow nodded again and Disapparated. Bellatrix felt an unintentional wave of terror wash over her.
“Interesting,” the Dark Lord mused. “You’re scared.”
“Yeah,” Bellatrix admitted.
“What are you scared of, Bellatrix?”
Surprisingly, it wasn’t the fact that the Dark Lord had held her back. It was something else completely that she had been worrying about for two days and the full impact just hadn’t really hit her until she was alone with the Dark Lord.
“Well, actually, it’s something that you said on Saturday,” Bellatrix admitted. “That you wouldn’t give up on me because you think I was born to do this. And then Rodolphus told me that whatever you did to me was supposed to make me more loyal to you. But I swear, My Lord, I’m trying as hard as I can and it’s still not good enough.”
“I know,” the Dark Lord said. “It’s not good enough, and I know that you’re not trying your hardest. You’re trying as hard as you can while still being in your comfort zone. Think about that, and go with Marlow to go recruit the vampires. I would just send you by yourself, but I want someone I trust to go with you, just in case.”
“Ju-just in case what?” Bellatrix asked hesitantly.
“Let me put it to you this way,” the Dark Lord said. “You know that when your Dark Mark burns, you’re supposed to Apparate to my side instantly. You didn’t, and you will be punished. Normally in a situation like this, the Cruciatus Curse woks wonderfully, but I know you better than that. The Cruciatus Curse doesn’t affect you like it does other people. So I’m going to have to get a little creative. Those vampires don’t know that, though, so go and make me proud.”
Bellatrix nodded and Apparated to where Marlow was waiting for her.
“Do you think that if this takes long enough, he might forget that I didn’t come right away?” Bellatrix asked hopefully.
“Don’t count on it,” Marlow said.
“That’s what I thought,” Bellatrix said, shaking her head. “Okay. Let’s get this over with.”
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