Chapter 30 : A Rite of Passage
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“What’s up, Bella?” Rodolphus asked her the day before they were supposed to go home for Easter. Bellatrix had been sitting on a couch in the Slytherin common room, just staring off into space. Rodolphus sat next to her. “You look so down in the dumps.”
“I am,” Bellatrix said. “I was just thinking about some things.” She normally preferred to think about things alone, which was why she happened to be in the common room when everybody else was eating lunch. She had sort of gotten used to Rodolphus interrupting her alone time, though, so it didn’t really bother her.
“And I’m guessing that those things weren’t fluffy bunnies?” Rodolphus smirked.
“Good call,” Bellatrix muttered dryly. “I just,” she paused. “I just can’t get over how…monotonous life is. I mean, Rodolphus, in a couple months, I’m going to be graduating from Hogwarts. And then what? I’m going to get married and have kids so that the same damn cycle can be repeated over and over again until…I don’t know. Forever, probably.”
“You’re seriously sitting here looking like it’s the end of the world because you, what? Can’t be a kid forever? It’s just a tough fact of life that we all have to deal with sooner or later.”
“Yeah, but I just…I keep thinking about some people—namely, my mother—and I just can’t help but realize how boring their lives are. I thought that was incredibly funny when I was younger, but now I’m not so sure. In ten years, that could be me.”
“You’re never going to turn into your mother, I promise.”
“How do you know?”
“Because this life is what your mother wanted. I know because mine is the same exact way. You’re different, though. You’re strong, passionate, and pure evil. People like you don’t turn into boring mothers.”
Bellatrix subconsciously smiled. “You think I’m pure evil?”
Rodolphus laughed. “I gave you this whole big inspirational speech, and that’s the one part you noticed?”
Bellatrix had to laugh, too. When he said it like that, it was funny. Then she immediately became serious again. “Rodolphus,” she said, “what if I end up being married to some uptight, proper guy?”
Rodolphus snorted. “That won’t happen, trust me.”
“How do you know?”
“Because sometime in the next two months—I’m not sure when yet—I’m going to propose to you, and I’m not an uptight, proper guy at all.”
It took a moment for this statement to sink in. Then once it did, a smile crept across her face and pure, undiluted joy spread through her body. “Are you serious?” she finally asked.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Rodolphus said, looking rather pleased with himself.
Bellatrix closed what tiny gap there was between them and kissed Rodolphus hard. “Why don’t you just do it right now?”
“Because you’re expecting it,” Rodolphus said. “I want to take you by surprise.”
“Okay, but now every time you open your mouth around me I’m going to be expecting it.”
“Oh no, you won’t,” Rodolphus said, sounding incredibly sure of himself.
“Well if it helps at all, I’m going to say yes,” Bellatrix said with a small shrug.
Rodolphus smirked. “So, anyway, have you still been having the dreams.”
“Yes,” Bellatrix said bitterly. “I mean, they’re not as bad anymore, but…they’re still hard. At least I don’t wake up in the middle of the night or anything, though.”
Rodolphus scoffed. “If it were me, I’d be a little more wary about someone poking through my brain like that.”
“That doesn’t really bother me,” Bellatrix said. “I don’t want to keep anything from him. It’s just more the nightmare part that bothers me. I hate going to sleep every night knowing that I’m going to be terrified out of my wits.”
Rodolphus just grinned. He kissed her and said, “I’m going up to do homework. Everything I do here is something I don’t have to do over the holidays, and with our N.E.W.T.’s coming up, we certainly don’t have any shortage of work.”
Bellatrix scoffed. “No kidding. I should probably do some homework, too. I’ll see you later.” Both of them stood up and walked toward their dorms.
“Hey, Bella?” Rodolphus called just before he walked in.
“Are you going to sit by your sisters on the train ride home tomorrow?”
Rodolphus shrugged. “I’m just curious.” The first wave of people came back from dinner and Bellatrix went up to her dorm to work on homework. She had barely sat down on her bed when she felt her arm sear with burning agony. She clutched it tightly and whimpered slightly as the white-hot pain shot up her arm.
It took about a second for Bellatrix’s rational mind to stop worrying about the pain and start making a beeline for Hogsmeade. She stumbled out of bed and ran out of the common room, trying not to clutch her arm, but not succeeding very well. She couldn’t help it. It hurt!
Pretty much as soon as Bellatrix left the common room, she was met by Professor Slughorn.
“Hey, Bella,” he said kindly. “Can I have a quick word, please?”
Bellatrix stopped suddenly. Her eyes were beginning to tear up from the immense pain that she was in. She didn’t trust herself to speak, but forced herself to say, “I can’t right now. I just—I’ll come by your office later, okay?” And without waiting for a response, she took off.
It didn’t take a genius to figure out that she would be in big, big trouble once she finally did get to the Dark Lord. Luckily, though, she knew that her arm wouldn’t stop hurting until she did, which meant that she wasn’t even able to think about not responding to his call.
Bellatrix Apparated to the Dark Lord’s side as soon as she could, and she was right. He didn’t look happy.
“Bellatrix Black,” the Dark Lord mused, seemingly oblivious to her. “Bellatrix Persephone Black, the one who swears that she is my most loyal Death Eater, and yet…” He looked at her with that look. The look, she called it. That fake sympathetic look he liked to wear right before she got in huge trouble. “You won’t respond to your master’s call. What kind of servant, Bellatrix Persephone Black, doesn’t respond to her master’s call?”
“A trapped one,” Bellatrix said automatically.
“You own a house elf, right?” the Dark Lord asked.
“Yes,” Bellatrix said nervously.
“So you know that house elves are more than just servants. If their master gives them a direct order, they must obey it. Even if they’re completely bound and about to be killed, if their master orders them to return, they must do it. They just…have to. It’s that simple.”
“This isn’t, though,” Bellatrix said. “I can’t lift the anti-Apparating barriers.”
“It’s perfectly simple. Do you remember the first night we met? I used the Cruciatus Curse on you, didn’t I? But it wasn’t very powerful at all.”
So you think, Bellatrix thought bitterly.
“Now, Bellatrix Black, I am going to show you the full power of that curse at its greatest.”
Fear unlike anything she had ever experienced in her life swept over Bellatrix in an instant, but there was nothing she could do to stop it. A split-second later, the total fear was replaced by more total and absolute pain than Bellatrix had ever felt in her life. She shrieked and wailed, but nothing could stop it. She had fallen onto the ground and she tried to clutch her stomach because that hurt the most, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Every particle of her body was on fire, and it hurt a million times worse if she tried to move anything.
Bellatrix couldn’t exactly be sure how long it went on. She only knew that it kept hurting more and more. By the time the Dark Lord took off the curse, she had slipped in and out of consciousness more than a few times. Even after, though, she couldn’t move. She was too weak. That was the thing about pain. Even after the pain was finished actually being inflicted, it still hurt. She just lied on the ground for a moment, trying to catch her breath. As soon as she got the strength to get up on all fours, she threw up, which drained her of what little energy she had. She looked up at the Dark Lord pitifully, and saw him just watching her, totally indifferent.
“Stand up, Bellatrix,” he said as soon as he realized that he had her attention.
It took all of her strength and then some for Bellatrix to get back on her hands and knees, then she stood up, though she wasn’t entirely sure how sturdy she was. By some miracle, she was able to stay on her own two feet. She felt like she could collapse at any time, though, she was so weak.
“Okay, Bellatrix. Here’s what I want you to do. Go back to Hogwarts and pack up all of your things, then meet me back here. Your Easter break is starting a few hours earlier than expected.”
“So I’m supposed to just leave?” Bellatrix asked. “I mean, don’t you think anybody will notice that I’m gone?”
“They might, but nobody’s going to act on it. You better tell your sisters and Rodolphus that you’re leaving early so they don’t wonder where you are and attract more attention to the situation. But essentially, yes, you are supposed to just leave.”
“Okay,” Bellatrix said. Then she tried to take a half step forward and everything went black.
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