Chapter 2 : The Past Catches Up
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Her thick, black boots clunked against the cold, stone paved floor. The maniac smile and laugh she was so associated with when she became older were replaced with something ever more chilling: utter child-like joy. She was nearly bouncing up and down and giggling like a little girl when her master told her the news. The only thing that saved her from losing herself in giddy laughter was her wish to look like she belonged with the Death Eaters. They were mature and composed, not ditzy children. Even though she’d had her Dark Mark for nearly two years, she was still a middle ranking death eater; however, this new opportunity could change that. That reason, however, was not why she was nearly jumping out of her skin with glee.
Now, in the dark, dank hallways of the Death Eater hideout, there were no eyes to judge her. Her elated laughs echoed off the grey walls and her heartbeat quickened with anticipation. Her cheeks pulsed and radiated life as she pushed open the chilly, metal door with a broad motion.
There in the damp room she entered lay a lone figure on its side. It was drawing in short, labored breaths and closed its eyes. It shook on the floor in its thin, gray rags, though from the cold or from what it had been though, she wasn’t sure. It had given up on the world and was waiting for the end. She was here to make sure the end would not come to it- not yet at least. This thought made her titter.
“Open you eyes, Mudblood!” she commanded. It obliged slowly and painfully to reveal dry, bloodshot eyes. She clasped her hands together.
“Do you know who I am?” she demanded. “Answer! Answer me, filthy Mudblood!”
It tried to open its mouth and said in a wispy croak, “You’re Bellatrix Lestrange, a wanted Death Eater charged with many murders.” It closed its eyes again and sank into the floor. “Go ahead and kill me, then. That’s what you want, right? For me to die?”
“No, Mudblood, not die,” the imprisoner said. The hapless figure drew its eyes open in surprise and glanced at her with curiosity. A faint, renewed spark of self-preservation lit in its eyes. It was a weak little flame, so puny, a light breeze would put it out, but it had the potential to grow into a raging fire if it had a gentle, nurturing hand.
“No,” she repeated, and it’s small flame of life went a notch brighter. “I want you to live one thousand torturous lives! I want you to burn in the deepest fiery pit and feel every flame lick your filthy skin! I want to set loose the cruelest of manticores upon you and drink up each and every one of your wonderful screams!” She stamped on its hand and it cried out weakly, already having been submitted to far worse that day. It recoiled and lay panting in a fetal position, all while she soaked up its pain.
The flame extinguished, leaving only a smoky hint of its existence that slipped through its fingers. It had one more thing to extract from its pitiful life. After some time, it spoke again, barely more that a fleeting whisper. “Why, Bellatrix? Why are you doing this? Just tell me, for my sake, if not yours. What harm does it do to you? Your words will be locked in my grave.”
Perhaps if she hadn’t been so enraged by it’s gall to question her, she would have remarked that it was not getting a grave. A grave was for people and sometimes loved creatures. To think the death eaters would supply it with such an honor was preposterous.
Instead, she screamed, “Why? You dare ask why?” The rage swept though her, energizing her every word. “You filthy Mudblood! You dared to infiltrate our wizarding world when you were no better than muggle filth yourself! You have no right to be here! And-“
She crouched down and leaned in close to its face, close enough for the spit to fleck its nose. “I owe you. I see you there! You want to ask why? I’ll tell you why! Its for making my life absolutely miserable our first year! It’s your fault my house turned against me that year! It took me ages to regain the trust of the other Slytherins! You betrayed me and embarrassed me in front of the entire school! You dare ask why!”
The Death Eater swept back up, her robes flying in its face, but it made no motion to suggest it felt anything. She sniffed indignantly and let her boots make hard contact with its exposed feet. It jerked in an unthinking reaction to the burst of fire-like agony, and all it knew was a terrible ache.
The ache engulfed its mind, making it know only pain and suffering. This is the end, it said to itself. It had said its prayers and mental goodbye ages ago, when it thought it was close to death. Obviously, death was not close enough yet.
Only mum will miss me, it had thought during the first rounds of crucios, which happened before this new Death Eater had even arrived. No one else will even notice me gone. Mum will miss me terribly! It remembered one of Mum’s sweet hugs. This hug, it recalled, was mixed with salty tears as new widow and her daughter looked on upon the freshly dug grave. The pair of mourners both had the image of a floating skull and snake running through their minds as they wept over the freshly turned earth.
A new image had forced its way into its brain as second round of crucios came. It was the same image, but the widow was alone. I can’t escape this. I’m sorry mum. I’m going to die. I love you.
It had settled into the idea of dying before its thoughts were slowly replaced by the crucios. For better or for worse, the long break between the crucioers and her new torturers had let her regain some of her thought abilities. Death once again became the enemy. Who’s going to take care of Mum now? I have to live! If not for me, then I must do it for her. I have to try. What do I do now? It struggled to reason through its foggy mind. Answer the Death Eater, it told itself.
It took its time to compose itself, and she was ever patient, enjoying its weakness. When it finally pulled itself together, it furrowed it’s brows even deeper on its already squinting face. Still clutching its hand, it told her, “I didn’t betray you. You betrayed me, and you betrayed yourself.” It paused and let out a small, solemn breath. “What happened to you, Bellatrix? You’re not the Bella Black I met on the express. She was happy and compassionate. She was caring and kind. She was my friend.” It closed it’s eyes and a small, silvery tear ran down its nose, making its eyes sting, for they had been dry for so long that the wetness only added to her pain. “Where did Bella go?”
The Death Eater recoiled at the mention of that…incident. That meeting should never have happened. She wouldn’t be in this mess if the Mudblood had just picked another seat. The torturer spat and snarled, “She was naïve and stupid! She didn’t know what was right and you just made her confused! The Death Eaters have opened my eyes and shown me the truth! You just deceived me and fed me lies!”
Its eyes snapped open and she peered into them. Inside of them swirled a mixture of feelings. What did the Death Eater see? The eyes held a sad, hardened sort of longing to them, even when the rest of its body was broken. Yet, even with endless torture, there were soft edges to its gaze. One might interpret it as pity or sympathy.
“You know that’s not true, Bellatrix,” it spoke. “You’ve known it all along. They influenced you, the Death Eaters. You didn’t truly believe their pureblood ideals. Your mother told you not to mingle with muggleborns, yet you still talked to me. I know you’re better than killing innocent people. You don’t have to be a monster. Remember that year together? Remember the day on the train when we were young and innocent? Remember, Bella. Remember…”
How did this happen to her, Bellatrix Black, of all people?
The Hogwarts Express pulled out of the station while Bella stood out in the isle with no compartment to sit in. Her eyes prickled with held back tears, and it wasn’t just because of the huge suitcase haphazardly thrown on her toes. It was not even her first day at Hogwarts and already she hated every moment away from home just as she feared. It wasn’t like she loved her household or anything; it was just preferable to the intimidating unknown, especially since this unknown had cast her aside like she was scum.
It was all because of Rabastan that kids his age hated her. He spread lies around their little pureblood clique like melted butter on steaming toast. No young Slytherin wanted to sit with her, the “Mudblood-loving”, “hand-me-down wearing”, “nearly-squib” Black. At least the older kids had the sense not to believe Lestrange. Bella hoped by third year, he would be over such nonsense, but alas here they were, his third year and her first, and he had the second years wrapped around his finger. More importantly, they were all against her.
It was by his hand that she was stuck with the huge suitcase almost as big as she. At least she thought it was his fault. Bella had only heard muffled chuckles when she turned around, only to be dragged down by her once shrunken and feather-light suitcase. There was a new keychain on it, and Bella dared not touch it in the middle of the Hogwarts Express just in case it was cursed to the touch. Suspiciously enough, when she looked around to see who might have put the keychain on her suitcase, a compartment door slammed. It was the one she knew was occupied by older Slytherins. She could hardly move her luggage anymore, but luckily enough, she was standing in front of the compartment her mother had told her to sit in, so she hadn’t had to drag it far.
Bella opened the door to the seats. “Hey, could you please help me get my luggage in here?” she asked as she scanned each of the faces of her probable housemates. There were five pureblooded first-years with Slytherin parents, and each was expected to keep with the Slytherin tradition. Her mother had wanted her to bond with them as soon as possible, but they weren’t making this very easy for Bella.
Their responses were blinking stares, which made Bellatrix feel like she was intruding. There were six people in this compartment, and Bellatrix had known all of them from dinners and balls that her family either went to or hosted. Bella hoped dearly they weren’t corrupted by Rabastan’s influence.
One boy, who Bella faintly recalled had the name of Brian Greengrass, finally broke the silence. “We don’t have any room in here, and your luggage is much too big,” he said as he put his jacket in the empty space beside him. “You’ll have to find somewhere else to sit, Black.”
“Wh-What? Go somewhere else? I’m supposed to sit here! Our mothers planned for us to all sit together! There’s room for one more person!” Bella stuttered. She gaped at Greengrass. Never in her life did she expect a pureblood to be so ungracious to her other than Rabastan. Such tactless rejection was only reserved for the elder Lestrange brother.
One of the boys, Donald Parkinson, looked over to Brian. “Why can’t she sit here? Our mums’ said she was to be with us and there’s plenty-“
“There’s not enough room, Parkinson. Don’t tell your mummy, and she won’t know ” a girl hissed with a deadly, pointed gaze at Donald. Parkinson shut his mouth immediately and shrunk into his seat. The two other quiet first years in the compartment noticeably stiffened. The girl turned to Black. “Run along now, Bellasquib, you Mudblood-lover. I believe we told you to leave.”
“Summers, you don’t have to be so-“ the shy girl sitting next to Greengrass cut off at the Summers’s glare.
“You, Bulstrode cannot speak. Your brother is a blood traitor! You’re going to have to do a lot to prove that you’re not just like him! You’re lucky we even let you sit here!” Summers snapped. “Now you,” she said, referring back to Bella, “LEAVE!”
Summers slammed the door, leaving Black standing stunned in the isle. The sound of the door reverberated in her ears for a few seconds, and her brain struggled to process the utter ungraciousness of the whole situation. A stray, older Gryfindor walked towards her. He cleared his throat so that Bella would move, and this snapped her out of her trance. She let the Gryffindor pass. Then Bella started dragging her oversized suitcase down the isles while muttering how she was not a Mudblood-loving squib and whoever thought she was could tape their mouths shut.
Bella didn’t make it far before she had to stop to rest. She leaned against a closed door, panting. It wasn’t a moment before the door she was leaning on was ripped open, and Bella found herself falling through the new opening with a lurch. She plopped on the floor with a groan and flipped over slowly to face the classmates in the space she had just inadvertently invaded. Her eyes met a very recognizable sneer.
“Well! If it isn’t Bellasquib herself!” Rabastan’s voice greeted her. A chorus of second and third year Slytherin’s laughter followed soon after. Bella’s cheeks went profusely red, and she stumbled to stand up and get out of the undignified position of being at his feet.
Despite her embarrassment, she said, “My name is not Bellasquib, thank you very much.” She crossed her arms in bluffing defiance.
“Suit yourself, firstie. Now, why would a lovely little girl like you be wandering with such a huge suitcase up and down the isle’s, hmm?” At this, one of the boys sitting down snorted. Bella ignored him, as there was nothing she could do with her being surrounded by older classmates. Rabastan continued, “If you’d like, you could sit here with us.”
Black look startled at his request. Was he trying to make nice or was he just pulling her leg? It was probably the latter, but Bellatrix had absolutely nowhere else to go, so she decided to be optimistic and hope he really was trying to make up for his awfulness. Spending the whole trip to Hogwarts living in a tortured existence with Rabastan and his goons was much preferable to spending it alone in the isle.
Any other day, she might have responded with ‘I’d rather sit with a manticore’ or ‘Okay, but watch for flying chunks because the sight of your ugly face makes me barf.’ However, her desperate situation drover her to say “Do you really mean that?”
Rabastan burst out laughing in her face. “Of course not! You’re pathetic! You’re going to annoy us the whole trip! Get out of here!” He pushed her out of the compartment. Her back slammed into the other door across the isle and she let out a pained cry. Her suitcase was thrown farther away from Rabastan’s seat as if it was poisonous and being near it for a prolonged time would give them all Bellasquib disease.
Rabastan slammed the door, leaving Black once again stranded. This might have been one of those times when Lestrange thought he might have taken things a step too far when he heard Bellatrix’s stifled sobs. He might have had a small, conscious though to open the door again and apologize to her, but if he did have such thought, it was swept away by his underlings’ hoots and hollers. Lestrange did, after all, have to keep up appearances of being strong and supreme, and the noise of his friends conveniently covered up the lone girl’s sobs. If he had the courage to open the door, Bella and he might have started on the pathway to becoming friends that very day. However, he sat back down in his seat and left his guilty musings for later, allowing Bellatrix to meet Ivory Hart and postponing their friendship for a good number of years.
And so, Bellatrix Black found herself standing alone in the isles of the Hogwarts Express. She leaned back against the door she was so haphazardly thrown up against and began hyperventilating. All her nightmares were coming true: being ostracized in a new place, facing Rabastan in the Hogwarts Express, and weren’t the walls closing in around her too? She sniffled, tears pouring down her pale face. She wallowed in her solitary misery, having no solution to her apparent problem. It seemed she would be sitting here for the rest of the horrid trip to Hogwarts.
Bella felt the door start to slide. She jumped up and turned around. There was no way she was going to fall through another opening again. A girl stood in the doorway, beckoning her to come in.
“Here, little girl. I know Rabastan’s a jerk. You can sit with me,” she cajoled. The girl put a guiding arm on Bella and led her into the compartment of which only had one occupant before Bella had joined the girl. Black went with her trustingly. She was seated and the girl dragged in her luggage and slid the door closed. Then, the girl sat next to Bella and put a consoling arm around her. Bella embraced it, and she cried into the stranger’s arms until her tears ran dry. The girl stayed stoically by Bella’s side.
An indefinite amount of time passed, and Bella’s eyes dried up. She sniffled, looking up at her savior for the first time. For the first time since she stepped into the compartment, embarrassment flooded her cheeks and she pulled away to the other bench. Did she really just cry on a stranger’s shoulder? Mother would have said her behavior was most disgraceful! Bella sniffed again. Who cared what Mother thought now? She was away from her, and Mother couldn’t control her life anymore! Bella could sit with this stranger and be happy, unlike with those snooty little Slytherins. As long as she was in Slytherin, her mother didn’t have to know anything else about her life!
“Are you okay?” the stranger asked. “I’m Ivory. What’s your name?”
Bella glanced at Ivory. Despite her name, she had dark brown hair cut shoulder length and sun-kissed skin. She was considerably larger than frail, little Bellatrix in both height and stockiness. Ivory held a look of concern on her face that was almost motherly; a look that seemed far too old for her young body.
Bellatrix took in her appearance and decided Ivory seemed like a decent classmate. “My name is Bellatrix Black,” she offered, “but you can call me Bella.” She shut her mouth again, unsure of what else to say to Ivory.
“A Black, hmm? What does the great Rabastan have against you, Bella?” Ivory asked. “Oh wait, you don’t have to answer that! I’m prying too much, aren’t I?”
“No, it’s okay. Rabastan just hates me. He’s always out to make other people hate me too. I hate him!” Bella responded, working herself up into a fury.
“Why would he hate you? You seem like a nice girl, Bella.”
Bella wrinkled her nose in anger. “I spilt milk on his pants during a ball when I was six. It wasn’t even my fault the milk spilt either! Someone bumped me! Of course, Rabastan would hear none of my ‘excuses’ and made it his purpose in life to get back at me for embarrassing him in front of all the pureblood families! I hate him!” she repeated.
Ivory pressed a hand gently on Bella’s shoulder, urging her to sit down. Only then did Bellatrix realize she had stood up during her rant. “So,” Ivory began, “you two hate each other… over spilt milk?” She snorted quietly. “Sorry. I don’t mean to be rude, but it does sound kind of ridiculous!”
“He hates me because everyone laughed at him and say he peed his pants, so he wants everyone else to laugh at me! That’s not funny! All because of spilt milk! Spilt milk! Huh. I guess it kind is funny… if you look at it that way.” Bella conceded.
“Told ya!” Ivory said, laughing. Bella crossed her arms in a light-hearted pout. “So,” Ivory said, “are you excited for Hogwarts? What year are you in?”
These questions triggered Bellatrix into a long and winding talk on her mother’s Slytherin expectations, her overbearing presence at home, and the freedom she might have at her new school. Ivory added in the appropriate nods and words of encouragement, urging Bella to pour her heart out with her daily household stresses. Bella felt much more calm and assured, knowing she had an ally in Ivory. At least one person would be on her side in Hogwarts, and she wouldn’t be alone.
It was only as the majestic view of Hogwarts in the distance came into view that Bellatrix realized she still did not know much about Ivory. “I don’t know what year you’re in yet! Have I really been talking that long?” she said, slightly ashamed she had been talking the whole time.
Ivory waved her hands in the air to dismiss Bella’s worries. “Yes, but I don’t mind. I’m a third year, same year as Rabastan. Urg. I’m a Gryffindor. House of the lions and the brave and all that.”
Bella stiffened at this new information. She had been talking to a Gryffindor this whole time? Even worse, she had wept all over one and told the Gryffindor her whole private life! Ivory pretended not to notice Bella’s tension, instead placing a small, friendly smile on her lips.
The first year opened her mouth cautiously to speak, but Ivory new enough to know what Bellatrix was going to ask. She answered Bellatrix’s unspoken question, and her answer her answer sent ice through Bella’s veins.
“I’m a muggleborn.”
She became lost in her memory, imagining the train scene like she was in a pensieve. She watched Bella silently in this image, wanting desperately to pull the innocent little girl away from the door of the Mudblood. She didn’t however, not that it would have done any good anyways. They were memories, after all. She couldn’t even sweep the girl aside in her mind. It was almost as if she wanted the poor, hysterical Bella to meet the Mudblood- but only so the first year would stop being such a baby.
In her memory, she took in the comforting smell of the girl’s robes as her face was buried in her clothing. The girl’s garments were robe-like, but not school robes, she recalled. This memory filled her with a melancholy longing. The torturer suddenly realizing what she was thinking about the Mudblood and reeled. This Mudblood was now on the floor at her feet, for goodness sake!
“You’re trying to trick me, aren’t you? Make me feel for you? Filth! You’re trying to save yourself like that?” the death eater cackled, throwing her head back to the cobwebbed ceiling to hide her insecurities. She reached at her hip and unsheathed something small and silver. With a quick motion, the snake dagger was balanced expertly in Bellatrix Lestrange’s hand. Cursive writing lined the old blade. “Oh, you’re going to pay for that, Ivory Hart!”
Its plan failed, and she once again resigned to her fate. Goodbye, Mum. I’m going to see Dad now. It closed its eyes and waited.
AN: Hey! Millarz here! Thanks for reading this story! I know it’s very dark. This chapter was written for the “In the Moment of Death” challenge by Fawkes_the_Phoenix, “What Makes Us Who We Are” challenge by SamMalfoy93, and “The ‘Absolute Death’ challenge by Mihali1432. I think I might write another chapter for this story, as long as I get over my laziness. It would have more flashbacks if I do write it. What do you think of it? I’d love to know in a review! PLEASE REVIEW THIS STORY! Reviews make Millarz happy!