“Rosier joined at around the same time I did,” Bella said, as Ambrosia lobbed a regulation Hogwarts cloak across the room. “He’s an amazing Duellist, and one of the Dark Lord’s more valuable supporters. He makes idiots like Crabbe and Avery look like monkeys in robes…. Huge flirt though…. I showed him my engagement ring, and he told me I should go home with him that night so we could celebrate.” She made a face, and then joined in Ambrosia’s laughter.
“When are you and Rodolphus getting married anyway? It seems like you’ve been engaged forever.”
“Six months.” Bella replied. “I do love him, but we’re not rushing into it. I want a beautiful wedding.” She bit her bottom lip, looking thoughtful. “That, and I still have to talk about children with him. I absolutely refuse to be useless to the Dark Lord for nine months because I’m incubating Rodolphus’s baby."
Ambrosia let out a bursting laugh. “So, no little Lestranges?”
“Merlin, no. Not any time soon anyway.” Bella answered evenly. Her face changed, acquiring a playful smirk. “What about you, then?” She challenged brightly. “Are you planning to surround yourself with screaming kids at some point in the future?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Ambrosia replied, tossing a prefect’s badge and an old pair of trainers into the rubbish pile. “I’m definitely not the maternal type. And I'd rather spend the rest of my life at Hogwarts than as a housewife. Still,”-She flung a set of school robes- “I’m not sure how to break that to mother. If I ever do, that is.”
“I wouldn’t worry too much about it.” Said Bellatrix cheerfully, watching Ambrosia sort in a satisfied way through the dresses she had kept. “Mother is going to get all the grandchildren she can handle from Narcissa.” She paused, sighed, and went on in a slightly tenser tone of voice. “I should probably tell Rodolphus my views on reproduction before we get married. My beautiful wedding has been taking a whole lot of planning.” She smiled ruefully. “Which brings me to something I’ve been meaning to ask you, actually.” Ambrosia put down the scarlet dress that was in her hands and looked up with interest at her sister, who continued. “I was wondering if you’d like to be my maid of honor.”
A wide smile broke across Ambrosia’s face, and she got up to hug her sister. “Of course, I’d love to.”
Bellatrix beamed. “We’re just throwing in a bit of planning whenever we get some spare time to do it in. Most of it’s done, but we still have to decide on the flowers and the food…. And Rodolphus is a Death Eater as well, so when I get taken away from our planning sessions, so does he. Mother’s actually done quite a lot to help us with it.”
“Have you picked out your dress yet?” Ambrosia inquired.
“No, but I believe I’ve decided more or less what I want. I know mother wants her wedding dress to go to one of us, but I want something a little more revealing.” She grinned roguishly, and Ambrosia giggled at her. “Oh, come now, you’ve seen what her old dress looks like. Swollen, puffy sleeves and a square neckline.” Ambrosia’s mirth merely grew in intensity due to the description, and Bella threw her hands up animatedly, joining in.
The discussion of Bellatrix and Rodolphus’s upcoming wedding carried them through the next hour. Ambrosia had finished with the wardrobe and sat cross-legged on the huge bed, polishing her wand with Dr. Nettle’s Superb Spellcasting Solution. Bellatrix was sitting in the squashy scarlet armchair which faced her sister, in full flow about the finer details of the wedding’s aesthetics.
“-- Because mom said that having flowers that dark so close to the cake is a big mistake. I can’t see that it matters, really, but her way of doing it looks just as good, and it is certainly in everyone’s best interests to keep her- oh!” She let out a tiny gasp mid-sentence, and Ambrosia set the bottle of polish asideand eyed her sister with mild concern.
“Are you alright?”
“Oh, yes,” She said at once. Her eyes were alight with something Ambrosia couldn’t identify. “Give me your hand. Quickly, now.”
Entirely nonplussed, Ambrosia held it out to her. Bellatrix seized it and pressed her sister’s fingers to the brand on her arm. Ambrosia was startled to find that even through her sister’s satin robes, it felt warm, almost hot. She shot Bellatrix a look of dawning comprehension.
“Time to go?” She asked evenly. But her sister’s sharp nod thrilled her, and she led the way out of the house. The newly fallen darkness was windy and unseasonably cool; and no sooner had she wrapped her black cloak tightly about her than Bellatrix locked her wrist in a death grip and they Disapparated.
Ambrosia staggered as her feet slammed into hard ground. The giant trees around them swayed in the substantial wind, their roots protruding from the ground in gnarled arches large enough to sit beneath. The distinctive crack of Apparition was repeated frequently as more Death Eaters joined them. All were hooded and most were masked, so try as she might, Ambrosia recognized none of them. As they arrived, they gravitated away from the center of the clearing, silent and watchful, coming to stand in a ragged perimeter that separated the clearing from where the trees were thick.
Several of them appeared to be staring at her, and as she could not identify them, she found this unnerving. She diverted her gaze instead to the center of their claimed space, where a single man without a hood remained; his back to her.
She gazed at him. This, she knew, could be none other than the Dark Lord. She longed for him to turn around, so that she could see his face, but he remained almost unnaturally still; watching the rest of the Death Eaters arrive. The misshapen circle rippled briefly as the last members found their places. A weighty silence descended. For a moment, nothing was audible except the groans from the trees and rustling of everyone’s cloaks in the breeze. Then the Dark Lord spoke.
“My friends; I welcome you once again. An unusually great length of time has elapsed since we last came together.” His voice was cool and even. Something about it captivated Ambrosia. He turned to his left and began to walk the perimeter inside the circle, his voice, though not loud at all, carrying effortlessly. “As a result, I am sure that the majority of you have a great deal to share with us tonight.”
A powerfully built figure on the far side of the clearing nodded enthusiastically at these words, unnoticed by the Dark Lord. Bellatrix, however, scoffed almost silently in Ambrosia’s ear. The Dark Lord, meanwhile, had addressed another man, and what she could hear of the conversation that followed definitely had something to do with exiled giants. Unorthodox territory, really, to recruit them, but what a stroke of brilliance! She listened intently and caught something about unicorn tail hairs that had been given to the Gurg, and gathered that whoever it was being addressed by the Dark Lord would be returning at some point in the near future for the giants’ final word. Things continued in this vein for some time. After a lengthy speech about the loyalties of the goblins, the Dark Lord paused in front of the thickset figure. He must have opened his mouth to speak, because the Dark Lord held up a hand for his silence.
“Before I hear anything further, Rowle,” He began silkily, addressing the man and the rest of the jagged perimeter as one, “I believe we have an unfamiliar face in our midst.”
A 180 degree turn, and his eyes found Ambrosia’s. Blue and shrewd, they captured hers; fascinated her. She thought that perhaps it would be proper to avert her eyes, but some instinct checked the urge. Looking up through her lashes, she held his gaze. She thought she saw the look in his eyes soften slightly, though surely with a reputation like his, this had to be an illusion.After a moment, his face broke into a smirk. “This is a private meeting, I’m afraid.” Said Voldemort softly. “I must ask your name, and your purpose here.”
With a stupendous effort, she kept her face perfectly composed. She had not anticipated his being as attractive as she found him. His power was thrilling. “I am Ambrosia Black, My Lord.” She told him smoothly. Her voice, she noted with a silent thanks to Merlin, was as composed as her face. “My sister Bellatrix brought me here.” She paused briefly. “And my purpose is that I wish to join you.”
He inclined his head infinitesimally. “Naturally. Whispers of your name are not foreign among my followers, Ambrosia Black. You will remain here, then, after the meeting has concluded.”
“Yes, My Lord.”
He looked her up and down and met her eyes once more before turning to query Bellatrix about some mission she had recently completed. Ambrosia’s eyes remained upon his pale features. She still did not know whether it was her imagination, but he had seemed rather reluctant to stop looking at her. This cheered her slightly before she forced herself to remember who it was that she thought of. This was the Dark Lord, she told herself, and she would not risk such impertinent speculations showing somehow in his presence. She focused instead upon her sister’s face, which displayed a worshipful expression as she listened to the Dark Lord speak.
“-And still none of those you have interrogated has revealed the location of their headquarters?” He was saying skeptically.
“No My Lord. Bellatrix replied. Willing though I have made them” - She grinned sadistically- “They seem quite unable to do anything beyond informing me that it is some kind of building, that it has an address.”
Voldemort nodded slowly, looking thoughtful. “Perhaps the effects of a Fidelius Charm. My enemies can be most predictable at times - You have done well, Bella.” She smiled, inclining her head to him. He turned to the clearing at large. “I shall summon all of you again sometime within the next several days. You are dismissed.”
Bellatrix hesitated as everyone else Disapparated, shooting a glance at Ambrosia, who leaned towards her. “I’ll meet you back at your house, I suppose.” She said softly to Bellatrix, with an ill-fated attempt at nonchalance. Bellatrix was not fooled.
“No,” She said simply, “I’ll meet you at The Bleeding Hippogriff. I shall take Dolohov with me, and I shall do my best to refrain from getting too terribly drunk before you arrive.”
“Good luck with that,” Ambrosia muttered distractedly. They were now the last in the clearing, a very upset Thorfinn Rowle having Disapparated only a moment before, and the Dark Lord was watching the pair of them intently. Bella winked and was gone.
The silence that now enveloped the clearing was almost absolute. Ambrosia looked up at the Dark Lord, her gaze once again finding his eyes. His expression was blank, unreadable. Slow, measured crunches of fallen leaves and dry twigs beneath his steps were the first signs that he had begun to walk towards her; she had been too transfixed to notice movement. After what seemed an age, he halted, close enough to touch her. An owl hooted somewhere nearby.
“You truly wish to join me, Miss Black?” His voice was but a whisper.
“I do my Lord. More than I can say.”
He considered her. “The Blacks come to me very young,” he mused. “Your sister could not have been more than eighteen when she first approached me, and yet-” He circled Ambrosia once, she could feel the air that was displaced as he passed; and she repressed a shiver. “No one could say that she has not been an extraordinary asset.” He came around to face her, closer than before. She did not flinch or draw away, suspecting that he was testing her nerve, and she was not disappointed. “You are a proud and independent one, Ambrosia Black.” He hissed. “But do you truly know what you are getting into? I will ask you to kill for me. To torture those who oppose the Dark Order. I ask for a steady, lifetime commitment, and the end of a Death Eater’s commitment is the end of their life.”
Her green eyes met his blue ones once more. “I look forward to it, my Lord,” She answered simply.
There was silence for a couple of moments. His eyes were sparkling with what seemed to be amusement, interest…. And something Ambrosia couldn’t identify. Not particularly wanting to speculate on it just then, she let herself be distracted by his other features; his fine cheekbones and slender hands, until he spoke again.
“And what,” He asked, his tone more curious than threatening now, “Brings you to me?”
It was Ambrosia’s turn to smile. “Our cause, of course, my Lord, for there is none more important.” She told him softly, “But even more so for my personal reasons. I would be terribly bored as a housewife. I would prefer to go into the world and see those things that capture my interest. I wish to expand my knowledge of the Dark Arts as vastly as possible.”
“You are after power and adventure.” He said, smirking at her. She did not deny this, merely inclining her head with a small smile. For a moment, the pair of them stood once more in silence underneath a sky so black that the trees did not cast the slightest shadow. Voldemort sighed almost inaudibly.
“Will you dedicate yourself entirely to me, Miss Black?” She knew that as she met his eyes now, he employed Legilimency, something she had only read about in books. Reminding herself that she had nothing to hide from him, she ignored the unnerving nature of this knowledge and replied.
“Yes, My Lord. Without reservation.”
He reached out and touched her face with the tips of his fingers. This time, she could not repress a shiver.
“You will make a faithful and skilled Death Eater. Come with Bella to the next meeting. I wish to see your prowess in duelling for myself. Read as much as you can about whatever of the Dark Arts interests you. There is a wonderful bookshop in the deepest corner of Knockturn Alley that I believe you will find most appealing.”
She nodded. "Thank you my Lord." He inclined his head ever so slight;y to her and was gone, Disapparating silently, leaving Ambrosia with an odd mixture of elation and disappointment.