Chapter 1 : Bellatrix
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It had been years since I had last visited my childhood home. My parents’ manor house stood alone, its handsome, dark bricks placed evenly over its thick walls; large, transparent windows gleaming through the darkness.
Gravel crunched beneath my feet as I strode purposefully up the path towards the front entrance, bypassing perfectly manicured hedges, the ones nearest me shaped into the slithering forms of serpents. I smirked to myself as I recounted the way I used to admire the topiary as a child. If only I had known then the level of brilliance in the Dark Arts I would someday learn...things would be so, so different...
The long, black dress I was wearing flapped around my ankles as a gust of wind blew through the front garden. Shivering slightly, I wrapped the travelling cloak more tightly around my shoulders and knocked on the weathered mahogany door.
There was no answer, no life from inside. I presumed my parents were out at a dinner party, which was all the better for me; I wasn’t really in the mood for a catch-up with my family at this moment.
As I opened the door, the familiar, high-ceilinged entrance hall greeted me. It looked exactly as I remembered it, if not a little more aged; the ancient floor rug, the magnificently embroidered tapestries and the statue of Phineas Nigellus were all there, precisely where they had been when I left home.
I was twenty-three when I married Rodolphus Lestrange. It seemed appropriate; he was pure-blooded, and closely bonded with the Dark Lord, as was I. If the truth be told, I didn’t love him, nor did I think he particularly loved me; the marriage was arranged between our parents.
I, Bellatrix Lestrange (née Black), was born to Cygnus Black and Druella Rosier in 1951, the eldest of three daughters. Andromeda is a year younger than me, and although we look alike, we have little in common. She was blasted off the ancient family tree tapestry by my Aunt Walburga and good riddance too; marrying someone like that. I haven’t spoken to her since she married the Mudblood.
Narcissa and I get along tolerably well. Although she never joined the Dark Lord’s ranks herself, we share the same values nonetheless. Sometimes I think Narcissa can be a bit of a ninny. She is weak in thought, mind and deed, especially when it comes to holding to her own beliefs. Sometimes I think she only follows what others expect of her.
I am fortunate that I didn’t turn out like Narcissa. Being the eldest of my sisters, I was expected to lead, and to guide them as they grew up. I didn’t exactly embrace this role.
I wasn’t really the sisterly type, even as a child. Nurturing, caring and consideration for others weren’t my specialties, and still aren’t to this day, a fact I am proud of. I was quick, clever and cunning, and too superior for the others around me. I felt as though I was destined for bigger and better things.
And I was right.
Leaving the entrance hall behind me, I started climbing up the decrepit staircase. Antique-framed portraits lined the silken walls as I ascended, the eyes of the paintings following me with a curious interest.
As I reached the upstairs landing, I found myself wandering through a familiar, dimly-lit hallway. A magnificent carpet covered most of the polished wooden floor, and the walls were lined with yet more portraits. I passed two doors, one on my left and one on my right, which I knew were the entrances to my sisters’ bedrooms.
The last door was at the very end of the hallway. It was large and heavy looking, with a wooden plaque fastened at head height, and my name engraved in elegant, silver script. Somewhat cautiously, I turned the brass knob.
The room was a perfect replica of my teenage self.
A handsome four-poster bed stood in the very centre, its sumptuous curtains drawn back to reveal an emerald green counterpane embroidered with dainty silver thread. At the foot of the bed was an ornately decorated wooden chest facing a tall, dusty bookcase. Its shelves were crammed with old, heavy books, bearing titles concerning the importance of blood purity and the Dark Arts.
A collection of yellowing newspaper clippings were pinned to the walls, expressing the Dark Lord’s power, and aims of purifying the wizarding race. I could remember sitting on my bed and leafing through old editions of The Daily Prophet, looking for articles about the Dark Lord and his followers. That was before I had joined him.
Nine years had passed since I had graduated from school. I was pronounced a Slytherin the moment the Sorting Hat touched my head. In Slytherin, I felt as though I really belonged. I met others who wanted power, others who craved domination. And we used that power to our advantage.
At night we would move through the castle, writing threatening messages on the walls, studying forbidden books by wand light and hexing anyone who got in our way.
We were soon some of the most feared students at Hogwarts. Their fear was our strength; it empowered us. I excelled in all my classes, receiving eleven OWLs, giving me the power to get a top job at the Ministry of Magic, or so I was constantly reminded by the teachers. But I had no interest in the Ministry. It was weak. There was a more powerful force out there. And I knew that as I moved through Hogwarts, someday I would join him.
After I graduated, I met the Dark Lord. Although he wasn’t nearly as well known back then, he entranced me with his plans of power and purification of the wizarding race.
Being born into the Black family, I was all too familiar with Mudbloods. For as long as I could remember, they had been nothing but worthless scum: incapable, unworthy and not particularly interesting. Their blood was not pure, was not good enough, for our shops, our schools, our organisations.
Without Mudbloods, our world would be a much better place. The oldest, richest wizarding families would take charge, and the shameful blood traitors would be prosecuted, along with the Muggle filth they loved so much. Mudbloods didn’t belong in this world, and they never would.
Smiling contentedly at the very thought, my eyes raked through the room, finally resting on the tall, elegant window which led out to the balcony. Its crystal-clear panes were framed by emerald drapes, and a latch was placed about halfway up. I grasped the latch and turned it.
Slowly, the rustic window opened, and I climbed through. The balcony was large, spacious and made of stone. Clusters of thorns had entwined themselves between the iron railings.
I stood quite still, taking in the moonlit landscape. The usual greenness of the countryside was dimmed in the darkness of the night, something for which I was thankful. I had never really appreciated nature. I had never understood why it was beautiful. To me, it was a wasteland.
Andromeda was always one to spend time outside. While I was busy practising Dark Magic, she would be naively exploring the forests, picking flowers and jumping in puddles. She has done nothing but bring shame upon our family. She has dishonoured our name, shunted our views, and thrown away our wealth. She disgusts me.
I doubt Narcissa has ever made a choice for her own. She has observed and followed others her whole life, too afraid to do things her own way in case it is not accepted. But at least she, unlike Andromeda, chose the proper way to live. At least she understands how important it is to steer clear of the Muggle filth infesting this world.
Only I, Bellatrix Black Lestrange, am held in honour. While my sisters fritted away their dignity and pride, I stood strong, focused on my cause. I made the respected marriage, I was trained personally by my master, I am wholly devoted to the Dark Lord.
My name will be exalted.