Bellatrix Black’s long, thin fingers lightly brushed through her mass of slightly tangled black hair as she gazed at the image in the small and stained mirror above the vanity she sat in front of. Her reflection seemed almost bored and impatient; her heavily lidded eyes stated only too plainly that she couldn’t wait for this whole sorry ordeal to be over with so her life could resume its normal course.
The tiny dressing room was freezing, but Bellatrix liked the cold – she savored it, somehow, delighting in the small, temporary physical discomfort it provided. The marble top of the vanity was like ice beneath her fingers as she reached down to lift up a small ornate comb and slid it into her hair. It was decorated with small, intricate stars – the very thing for which Bellatrix was named. She admired the effect in the mirror, a small smirk of pride curving her lips. However, it vanished just as quickly as it had appeared, for she didn't see much to be happy about - not at the present moment.
Quite honestly, there were a thousand places she would rather be than sitting here, preparing for her wedding day. It was rather tiresome that her mother had insisted on such a large ceremony. She would have been fine with something simpler – two witnesses and a priest, nothing fancy. But that, apparently, was not the Black way of doing things.
She gave a little sigh, and then smirked at her reflection again, almost experimentally this time, examining her appearance with a trained and critical eye. At least she looked beautiful – modesty wasn’t something she possessed in great amounts, and she was well aware of her beauty. Rodolphus Lestrange wouldn’t be able to take his eyes off of her. It was so strange to think that in less than two hours’ time, she would be married to him. Bellatrix Lestrange.
A small, slight knock came at the door to the dressing room, and Bellatrix glanced over at it almost uninterestedly. “Come in,” she said, flicking her wand in the direction of the door. It swung open on silent hinges, revealing Bellatrix’s youngest sister Narcissa standing there, already dressed in the gown she would wear to be Bellatrix’s maid of honor – her only attendant, in fact, as Andromeda certainly hadn’t been invited to attend, much less participate.
“Are you nervous, Bella?” she asked upon entering, closing the door behind her delicately. Everything about Narcissa was dainty and petite. Her wispy, white-blond hair and her pale skin had always given Bellatrix the impression that her sister was more like a china doll than anything else. Nevertheless, she looked lovely in a dark gown with a high collar, a white sash tied firmly around her waist. Narcissa, like Bellatrix, had obviously inherited the Black good looks.
“Not at all,” Bellatrix now replied, turning back to the mirror and turning her head to see the comb at the back. She rather liked the effect it had – it shone brightly against the dark of her hair piled on top of her head.
“I can’t even imagine how scared I’ll be when it’s time for me to be married,” her sister said, crossing to the dress form by the window, upon which Bellatrix’s wedding dress was still draped. It was another silly thing the girls’ mother had insisted upon, a frilly concoction of lace and satin and silk. Bellatrix hated it, but this whole day seemed to be about pleasing her family, so what was one more thing, really?
“You should probably get dressed, Bella. You don’t have a lot of time left,” Narcissa added. Bellatrix watched her through the mirror. Narcissa’s face seemed to be glowing with suppressed excitement. She seemed even more excited for this day than Bellatrix herself was; Cissy had always been something of a hopeless romantic.
Bellatrix stood up from the small stool, eyed her hair in the mirror one more time, and crossed to where Narcissa was standing by the dress form. She eyed it once more with a small frown, and then turned resignedly. “Help me in it, Cissy?” she asked, trying not to sound too annoyed – even though the blonde girl was only fifteen years old to Bellatrix’s nineteen, she’d always had an uncanny ability to pick up on her oldest sister’s emotions. And, sure enough, a small frown creased Narcissa’s pale features as she picked up the dress from the form and crossed to Bellatrix.
“Aren’t you a little bit excited, Bella?” she asked anxiously, sliding the material carefully over her sister’s hair so as not to mess up the elaborate hairstyle that had been put in place there. “To be marrying the man you love?” The oldest Black sister waited a while before answering.
“I don’t know how many times I have to tell you, Narcissa. You knew from the start this was not a marriage of love – not on my part. You know the one I love.”
She watched closely in the vanity mirror as her sister suppressed a shudder, her fingers stumbling over the cloth-covered buttons on the back of Bellatrix’s wedding dress. Narcissa never liked talking about this particular subject – she was still so innocent, and still had much to learn about the workings of the world. She didn’t understand the way Bellatrix felt about her master.
“I just don’t understand why you would do this, just to please him,” the young girl finally whispered as though afraid of being overheard. “You don’t have to marry, you know.”
Bellatrix let out a hollow and mirthless laugh, harsher than expected. “Please,” she snapped, viciously replacing a strand of hair that had come loose from the comb and avoiding her sister’s blue eyes in the mirror. “I had to do something after the fiasco that happened last summer.” No more needed to be said on this subject – Bellatrix still seethed with rage to think of her middle sister, Andromeda, and how she had foolishly eloped with that Mudblood she’d been seeing. The tapestry room in her aunt’s home still smelled faintly like smoke from the disgrace.
Narcissa’s cheeks had colored slightly, as they always did when she was in high emotion. Her older sister softened slightly at this display. “I’ve accepted my fate, Cissy,” she said gently, lifting her chin and staring at her reflection in the mirror across the room. “I’m doing this for our family, and for the Dark Lord. He gains two more loyal followers by my union.” She pretended not to notice her sister flinch at the mention of the Dark Lord.
Narcissa said nothing to this, but continued stolidly to do up the long trail of buttons at the back of the dress. Bellatrix watched her in the mirror, still marveling at her sister’s naïveté. Didn’t she understand? This was the only way that everyone could win – her family might be able to forget their shame, her husband and brother-in-law could be guaranteed positions in her master’s new regime, and Bellatrix herself could further prove her undying devotion to the man she loved.
“I’m doing this for you as well, Narcissa,” Bellatrix spoke suddenly into the silence. The blonde fastened the last button and smoothed the fabric at the shoulders, pretending to listen indifferently, although Bellatrix knew her well enough to know her ears were trained on every word.
“This way you can be assured a marriage to the man you love. I know you favored Lucius Malfoy during my time at Hogwarts with you – is this still the case?” Narcissa’s face turned an even deeper shade of pink, but she was still looking resolutely at her sister’s wedding dress. Bellatrix turned on her heel and clutched Narcissa’s slim, pale hands in both of her own.
“You can have your own future, to do with as you like,” she said, speaking softly but with an urgency that rarely emerged in her deep voice. “I am not affected by such things as you are, Cissy. I have accepted this as my life, so you will not have to do the same.”
Finally, Narcissa looked up at her sister; blue eyes met dark ones, and for a moment they just looked at each other levelly. Finally Bellatrix let go of her sister’s hands and turned back to the mirror, checking her hair and dress for the final time. She gathered up the bouquet of lilacs lying on the vanity.
“Bella,” Narcissa said suddenly, moving to stand beside her. “Why him?”
The older girl hesitated. She knew they were not speaking of Rodolphus, or even Lucius. She arranged her face into more composed features and answered as honestly as she could articulate.
“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” She paused, as though about to say more, but that was all there was to it, really.
Narcissa regarded Bellatrix as though she had issued a curse or a warning from her lips, but said nothing. A mask seemed to descend over her face, hiding whatever emotions she had felt at her sister’s words. She looked down, pretending to fiddle with the sash tied around her waist.
Bellatrix felt slightly uncomfortable, and couldn’t understand why she was being made to feel this way. She had, after all, spoken the truth. Was she to be blamed for speaking so frankly? Hadn't she only been thinking of her sister, after all? She watched Narcissa shrewdly, but the blond girl was determined to appear withdrawn from any sort of emotion. Bellatrix had to credit her for that.
“It’s time to go,” she said at last, and the subject was mercifully left to rest. In a single file line, they left the dressing room, for the last time bearers of the same last name.
A/N: So, this was my first time ever writing Bellatrix... and I must say, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would! Dark characters are just so much fun to write, in my opinion. Many thanks to the lovely Shelby, for issuing this challenge. My task was to write about acceptance and love, with a quote given to me. What are your thoughts? I'd love to know!
The line "Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same" is to be credited to the author Emily Brontë.