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Chapter 5 : Family Feud
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I'm getting the impression that some people find the pairing...odd. If the whole Frank/Bella thing is freaking you out... this chapter probably will too. In case you're wondering... yes. I actually did go out of my way to write the weirdest pairing I could. This is the result of me being bored in maths class.
Everything was changing.
The War had never seemed real. It had always been somewhere else… someone else. In Hogwarts everything was so protected. Nothing could touch them with Dumbledore in charge. But now that they were in seventh year, the world seemed only too real. They were about to enter it… a world of Dark Lords rising and Death Eaters conquering.
Frank was going to apply to train as an Auror when his results came in. Bellatrix knew he’d get in. His marks in Defence Against the Dark Arts were as good as if not better than hers and he had worked well into the night to scrape an Outstanding in Potions. It didn’t hurt that he had Bellatrix to practise duelling and potion making with.
Though she’d never admit it out loud, Bellatrix envied Frank. He would have a chance to fight for what he believed in. He would never feel idle and useless in the Auror’s Office... but Bellatrix? When school ended, she would be trapped in her house, day in and day out, with someone she despised with all her heart.
Needless to say, when the last day of school came, Bellatrix was not happy. She stood outside the great hall, stony faced, willing her legs to walk inside. She could hear the sound of students laughing and chatting. Judging from the noise, nearly everyone was there already.
But she couldn’t bring herself to move. She couldn’t celebrate leaving the only place she hadn’t felt secluded and worthless.
Someone touched her shoulder. Bellatrix didn’t react. There was only one person who would touch her like this… and that was Frank.
“You don’t really want to go home,” said Frank quietly.
Bellatrix grimaced and glanced at Frank from over her shoulder. It was a surprisingly difficult feat to accomplish. Frank had grown about a foot and a half in the past two years. He was still a beanpole though, all elbows and knees.
“Am I that obvious?” asked Bellatrix, turning around to face him.
“Well… the last time you looked like this, Macnair spent a three days in the hospital wing and you spent a month in detention,” said Frank with a smirk.
Bellatrix’s mouth twitched into something that resembled a smile but it was gone as quickly as it came. It was a memory that gave her a fair bit of amusement and satisfaction but it came with a twinge of sadness. It was something else that she was leaving behind. Frank noticed that he hadn’t made her feel any better and hesitated for a moment.
“You know...you don’t have to go home,” said Frank. “You’re seventeen now.”
“And then what?” said Bellatrix with a small, bitter laugh. “Stay with you?”
Bellatrix’s bitter laugh ended abruptly when she noticed the hopeful look on Frank’s face. Her mouth fell open. Frank avoided her eyes and shifted his weight from foot to foot.
“If you wanted,” he mumbled finally.
Bellatrix’s head was swimming. Leave home… and live with Frank? She wouldn’t have to be guarded all the time. She wouldn’t be just another ornament on the Black Family tapestry. She could join him in the Auror’s office. She could fight by him…as his equal.
It seemed almost too perfect.
“Do you… actually mean that?” breathed Bellatrix.
Frank began to grin broadly.
“Yeah,” he said brightly. “I mean it.”
She almost shouted ‘yes’ then and there...but then she remembered her sisters.
Her burning hope was abruptly extinguished. Bellatrix ran a hand through her hair and bit her lip. She wanted to say yes. Frank noticed the anguish in her features and his broad grin faded.
“I can’t leave, Frank… not yet,” whispered Bellatrix. “I won’t…I won’t leave my sisters alone in that place.”
Frank’s shoulder sagged. Bellatrix squeezed her eyes close and let out a deep breath. So much for that… She slowly opened her eyes and stared at the floor.
Frank had asked Bellatrix why she hated her home on several occasions. On all of which, she had given him nothing but snappy responses. Frank thought it was stupid… but Bellatrix still seemed to think that confiding in Frank was being weak. He’d have to change that at some point.
“Bella… you can tell me-” he began.
“It doesn’t matter!” said Bellatrix sharply.
Frank was past being put of by Bellatrix’s harshness at this stage. He gave her an infuriated look.
“Frank, I can handle it,” said Bellatrix, through gritted teeth.
“You shouldn’t have to!” said Frank loudly.
Bellatrix crossed her arms and looked away from Frank pointedly. Frank grimaced. He really couldn’t believe that after seven years Bellatrix still didn’t trust him enough.
“Alright,” he said with bitter resignation. “I’ll leave it.”
Bellatrix slowly uncrossed her arms. She knew today was going to be terrible… and didn’t want Frank to be mad at her as well.
“I’m sorry,” she said stiffly.
Frank’s grimace became more pronounced.
“Yeah, me too,” he muttered darkly.
Sick with disappointment, Bellatrix leaned against the stone was wall and leaned her head back.
“You’ll only really be able to see me when my family has those ridiculous parties,” she said, “and you hate those.”
Frank resisted the urge to shudder. Edmund and Augusta Longbottom disliked the parties almost as must their son did but since Edmund worked at the Ministry they were obligated to at least turn up, smile, eat and leave.
“You hate them too, remember?” he said, with a slightly forced smile.
Frank touched her arm and Bellatrix’s expression softened slightly.
“I can put up with them if you can,” he said with a casual shrug, as though he didn’t consider pureblood gatherings as some kind of cruel and unusual punishment.
Bellatrix reached up and kissed Frank on the cheek.
“Thanks,” she said softly.
Frank smiled brightly when she did this.
“That reminds me,” he said suddenly. “I’ve got something for you.”
Bellatrix raised her eyebrows in surprise.
“What’s the occasion?” she asked. “Christmas isn’t for months and you a little late for my birthday.”
Frank shrugged again.
“It’s the last day of school and all… I just thought you’d like it.”
“It’s not jewellery, is it?” said Bellatrix, wrinkling her nose in distaste.
Frank only smirked.
“Close your eyes,” he said.
“Frank, don’t start being sappy now,” she said coldly. “I’m not in the mood.”
“Okay, okay…” laughed Frank, raising his palms in mock surrender. “You know I only said that to piss you off.”
“Well done,” said Bellatrix sarcastically.
Frank pulled out something from his book bag. It was a wooden box. It had been carefully carved from a dark coloured wood. The designs on the box were beautiful. Everything about it screamed expensive. Bellatrix gave Frank a disapproving look before carefully opening the lid.
Lying on a bed of velvet was an ornate, silver knife. The hilt was covered in an intricate, swirling design that could only be the work of goblins. The design seeped onto the blade itself, which was thin but strong and very sharp. With trembling hands, Bellatrix picked up the knife. It was a lot heavier than it looked but it seemed to fit perfectly in her hand as though it was just another part of her arm.
“Forgive me now?” asked Frank, still smirking.
Bellatrix nodded wordlessly, her mouth still open. Frank could have been as sappy as he wanted at this point.
“Where did you get it?” she breathed.
“Err… there’s a little antique shop in Hogsmead,” said Frank. “I picked it up from there a week back.”
Bellatrix returned the knife to its box as though it was made of glass. She didn’t think she had ever received a gift like that in her life. It was a credit to her self restraint that she didn’t burst into tears all over Frank… that would be embarrassing.
“Out of curiosity, what exactly did you think I’d need this for?” she said, forcing herself to smirk to hide her emotion.
“It’s for show, Bella,” said Frank rolling his eyes, “and for Gideon Prewett when he toes the line.”
Bellatrix laughed. Considering she had been miserable all week this was a significant improvement to her mood.
“I was going to give this to you on the train but since you’ve already given me something,” said Bellatrix.
She reached into her bag and pulled out a handsome, leather bound book. Frank took it and tried to smile. Bellatrix laughed again… this time at the look on his face. She was counting on that reaction.
“I know you’re not much of a reader,” she said, “but I thought you’d find this book interesting.”
Frank tried not to look sceptical as he turned to the first page. The title instantly caught his eye.
Battling the Dark Arts: Advanced Defensive Spells.
Frank flicked through the book with renewed interest. Each page had a new spell and clear illustrations and instructions. Frank couldn’t imagine how useful this book as he trained as an Auror.
“Thanks Bella!” said Frank excitedly. “This is really-”
“There’s something else,” said Bellatrix quietly.
Frank ruffled his hair uncomfortably. She had already given him the book…
“You didn’t have to-” he began.
Before Frank could finish his protest, Bellatrix reached up and kissed him on the mouth. She gave him her customary half-mock smile when she was finished.
“What was that, Frank?” she asked mischievously.
“Never mind,” he mumbled, leaning in to return the kiss.
For one glorious moment, Bellatrix completely forgot that it was the last day of school. Nothing in the world was real except Frank...his hand on her hair and lips on hers. Someone was shouting in the corridor adjoining this one. Bellatrix tried to ignore it. Why was someone always interrupting them?
The sound of shouting grew louder. Frank stopped. He was Head Boy after all…
“Bella…” said Frank apologetically. “I should really-”
Bellatrix took a deep breath to calm herself.
“Someone better be sick or dying,” she growled, stepping away from Frank.
“Let go!” shouted a boy angrily.
Bellatrix recognised his voice as a boy in her House, Severus Snape.
“Watch and learn Pete… this is how it’s done,” came a familiar voice from around the corner.
Bellatrix’s mouth curled into a snarl. She knew that arrogant tone all too well.
“My demonic cousin is among them,” she said lividly, “and his little friends, no doubt.”
“Leave him alone, Potter!” shouted a girl, her voice echoing towards them.
Bellatrix gave Frank a look that said ‘I told you so’. Frank turned red with anger. He knew that James and Sirius were trouble makers… but this?
“Or what, Evans?” sneered James Potter.
No one spoke for a moment.
“I-I’ll... I’ll curse you!” stammered the girl named Evans.
There was the sound of laugher. Bellatrix grimaced. Evans did not sound nearly convincing enough.
“Oh yeah?” said James. “Take your best shot, Evans.”
Evans cried out and Sirius laughed. Bellatrix was not sure what James had done but Snape beside himself.
“Don’t hurt her!” shouted Snape in a panic. “Lily-”
“I’m not going to curse a girl, Snivelly,” said James in obvious disgust. “What do you think I am?”
It seemed that James had only taken Lily’s wand off her.
“At least Potter’s an honourable little shit…” muttered Bellatrix.
Frank seemed to have taken personal insult to the fact that it was the Gryffindors who were doing the bullying.
“Cowards,” said Frank angrily. “Someone needs to give those kids a talking to.”
“Sirius is my cousin,” said Bellatrix through her teeth. “I’ll do it.”
Frank paused for a moment. Somehow letting Bellatrix vent her rage on first years didn’t seem like such a good idea. Bellatrix crossed her arms.
“Frank...” she glowered.
“Okay, fine... but no hexes,” said Frank warningly.
Bellatrix strode towards the first years. James and Sirius had Snape cornered against the wall. The scrawny, pallid boy had been knocked off his feet. James was dangling Lily’s wand out of her reach and mocking her as she tried to make a grab for it. A large boy Bellatrix knew as Peter was watching them with anticipation. Bellatrix clenched her hands into fists. Must not curse first years... must not curse first years...
Peter was the first to see Bellatrix. He yelped loudly, alerting Sirius and James to her presence.
“That’s enough,” said Bellatrix, her voice low and dangerous. “Get back to the Hall… now.”
Sirius took a step towards Bellatrix, unfazed by her demeanour. There had always been little or no affection between the cousins. Bellatrix hated the fact that Sirius had been spoiled by his parents for being the eldest son in the family. She had always been cold and distant towards him. When Sirius was sorted into Gryffindor, it was his turn to be out of favour. As a Slytherin, Bellatrix was everything Sirius was expected to be and hated.
“I don’t have to listen to you,” said Sirius loudly.
Bellatrix smiled viciously.
“I don’t have to curse you, pudgy and potty here... but I’ll enjoy it,” she said, with her mocking, singsong voice.
Sirius flushed. Peter squeaked and took jumped back. James turned a deep shade of red. Bellatrix turned to him, relishing his humiliation.
“Do you have something you wish to say, potty?” she sneered.
James stared at the floor.
“No,” he said through clenched teeth.
Bellatrix’s vicious smile widened.
“Good,” she said. “Now I suggest you leave.”
Sirius stalked off with Peter scampering behind him. James went to follow but Bellatrix seized his arm.
“Oh no, Potter...” whispered Bellatrix. “Aren’t you forgetting something?”
James looked petrified. He had heard slightly exaggerated tales about Bellatrix from Sirius. Lily smirked at him and outstretched her hand for her wand.
If it was possible for James to turn any redder, he would have. Very reluctantly, he returned Lily’s wand. Bellatrix let go of his arm and he fell forward. Once he steadied himself, he practically fled in the direction Sirius and Peter had gone. Bellatrix glanced behind her.
“All right there, Severus?” she said quietly.
Snape pulled himself of the ground. He stared at the floor, red with embarrassment and unable to meet Bellatrix’s eyes.
“Yeah...” he muttered.
Lily beamed at Bellatrix, her features glowing with admiration.
“That was brilliant!” she said. “Potter nearly wet himself!”
“Word of advice, Evans,” she said, “if you two learn a few good hexes and you’ll have Potter and his posy running off like that in no time.”
Lily bit her lip guiltly. Bellatrix sighed. From the look on her face, she had wanted to curse Potter all year but was simply too...Gryffindor to actually try it.
“I know you’re capable, Evans. You shouldn’t be afraid to leave a few hex marks on Potter’s pretty face, Evans… bullies like that deserve it.”
Lily nodded fiercely and her grip on her wand tightened. She was clearly taking Bellatrix’s words to heart. Snape hadn’t said a word and was still staring at the floor.
“Chin up, Snape,” said Bellatrix, giving him a pat on the back, “you’ll get your own back soon enough.”
Snape managed to force a smile before heading towards the great hall with Lily. The muggleborn waved at Bellatrix over her shoulder as she left. Frank watched them go and came up to Bellatrix somewhat cautiously. She had seemed relatively calm while talking to Lily but somehow, she her mood seem to have taken a turn for the worst.
“You handled that well,” he said.
“I’m not done yet,” said Bellatrix sharply. “Where did Sirius go?”
“Err...towards the hall I think. Bella-”
Bellatrix was already gone. Sure enough, Sirius and his friends were stand outside the hall muttering darkly. James looked rather sullen after being made a fool of in front of Lily. Sirius looked rather like Bellatrix as he leaned against the wall and glared at the floor.
They were notified of Bellatrix’s presence again by Peter who could always be counted on to yelp on her approach. Sirius jumped upright, his hands balled into fists.
“What do you want?” he snarled.
“I want a word,” said Bellatrix coldly.
She seized Sirius by the arm and yanked him away from his friends. James took a brave steep forward. Considering James only came up to Bellatrix’s chest and had already been on the receiving end of her anger, it was a miracle he didn’t run away then and there.
“Leave him alone!” he said loudly, trying to make himself seem taller and failing.
Sirius, who had shrugged off Bellatrix hand, gave James a warning look.
“Leave it, James,” he muttered. “I’ll be right.”
James gave her a look as though he doubted it. Bellatrix rolled her eyes. She wasn’t about to cook Sirius in Snape’s cauldron and feed him to the giant squid…
“This is all very…touching,” said Bellatrix dryly, “but I don’t have all day.”
She walked towards an empty classroom and Sirius reluctantly followed her. She glowered at him as he entered.
“You think you’re really something, don’t you?” she said with poorly veiled disgust. “Male, pureblood, rich… does that give the right to torment others?”
Sirius said nothing and stared out the window.
“Look at me when I’m talking to you!” shouted Bellatrix.
Sirius looked sharply away from the window and glared at her.
“You’re not my mother!” spat Sirius.
“No, I’m not…” said Bellatrix, the vicious smile forming on her face again, “but how would you like me tell your friends how fwightened you are of her?”
Sirius turned red. Bellatrix could see his hands trembling. She had hit a sore spot… if there was one thing she and Sirius had in common, it was that he hated home as much as she did.
“Shut up,” he said, turning even redder as he spoke. “I’m not frightened of her.”
Bellatrix ignored him and continued on mercilessly.
“How nasty mummy makes poor wittle Siwis crwy…”
With a furious shout, Sirius drew his wand and pointed it at Bellatrix.
For a moment, Bellatrix did nothing. Then she threw back her head and laughed. It was a cold and cruel laugh. She knew that the furious first year couldn’t do a thing to her. She pushed aside his wand with her finger, mocking him with every gesture. Sirius quivered with rage.
“Potter wouldn’t want to be friends someone as pathetic as you,” she said, her voice dripping with scorn.
Sirius lowered his wand. He was close to tears now but he would never give Bellatrix the satisfaction of seeing it.
“I hate you!” he shouted.
When Bellatrix got over her shock, she felt the colour rising in her cheeks. His words had stung her more than Sirius could possibly imagine but she was going to teach him a lesson and if he hated her because of that...fine.
“You’re just like the rest of them,” she said harshly. “A little Cygnus Black… and you’ll end up like him.”
Of everything Bellatrix had said this was the worst. Sirius went pale. The loathing on his face had been replaced by pure horror. Sirius knew what Cygnus was like and for Bellatrix to compare them...
“N-No,” he stammered. “I’m not like them!”
“Then stop acting like them!” shouted Bellatrix.
Sirius couldn’t take it anymore. He stormed out of the classroom and left Bellatrix alone. Bellatrix slammed her fist on the teacher's desk. Somehow this day had been worse than she had possibly imagined.
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