Chapter 2 : Decisions
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Her pale fingers tapped gently on the wooden door. The house was silent, as it always was in those days. Nobody had dared disturb Father's self imposed reclusion in the study, but she needed his advice. It was a situation like no other she had been presented with. Joining the man that called himself Voldemort was a path of no return and she didn't want to do it without consulting her Father. Family first; it was a way of making sure their motto went untarnished. Toujours Pur. They could stop her sister from dirtying up the family line by giving the Muggle-born children.
The voice that beckoned her to enter sounded almost tired and grave. Cygnus Black was clutching his goblet of Firewhiskey, staring into the dying embers of the fireplace.
"Father..." Bellatrix started, but trailed off as the old man got up and turned to meet her eyes.
"Bellatrix, my dear. Yes, do come in." Cygnus said and signaled for his eldest daughter to sit by him on a plush sofa.
"Father, there is a pressing issue I wish to discuss with you." Bellatrix said.
The man lifted his bony hand and touched her face, looking at her with sad eyes. She resisted the urge to wince. Her father was drunk and he was looking at her, but seeing the traitor Andromeda. Still, the matter was far too urgent to be delayed and she had to seek her father's advice before rushing to any decision.
"Rodolphus escorted me to a political meeting last night."
"A political meeting? Good Merlin, that must have been boring for you. I know how you hate to meddle in such mundane issues such as the government of our fine country."
"Indeed, however, I have discovered something I find of interest. We spoke to a man. A man by the name of Tom Riddle. He has some ideas regarding the issues that the establishment wishes to ignore, such as the sullying of magical blood with Muggle and the implications of such a fact. His plan, as I understand it, is to gather up a community of supporters to fight such filthy atrocities. And Father... it is my wish..."
"It is your wish to marry as soon as possible, I understand." the man finished for her and silence fell between the two.
"No Father, you misunderstand. I have no wish to marry Mr. Riddle nor do I think he has such an interest in me."
"I was not speaking of this Riddle. I was of course referring to Mr. Lestrange."
"You misunderstand me yet again. I do not want a wedding. In such troubled times for the family, I don't think it's in good taste. But I do want to join Riddle's cause and put a stop to the spreading disease that mixed blood marriage is becoming." Bellatrix explained and shook her head. Marrying Rodolphus was the furthest thing from her mind, now that the cause had presented itself to her.
"Bella, you are my eldest daughter. Which is why I call upon you to understand these things better than anybody else. What is the family motto?"
"Toujours Pur." she answered out of habit.
"Yes, Toujours Pur. But you must understand, that when our noble ancestors defined the values of our house through purity, they weren't referring solely to the purity of blood. It is the purity of ideals, of actions and above all else, purity of name. There have been others such as Riddle, who sought to obtain fame and power through the influence of elder families. I cannot allow our name to be tarnished, Bella. For this man to see his goals through, it will require time and money. But above all else, it will require blood shed. Blood shed with which The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black cannot be associated." Cygnus explained and took another sip from his golden goblet.
"So, you are telling me that I do not have your blessing to go through with this?" Bellatrix asked, trying to hide the disappointment in her voice.
"No, dear daughter. I am telling you we need to be smart about this. A Black spending their family fortune on such a cause would be a stain on the family name. A Lestrange using her dowry to finance such an activity is socially acceptable."
Bellatrix's eyes went wide as she realized what her father was telling her. The only acceptable way for her to join the cause was to be married. Her mind raced back to her first encounter with Voldemort and the raw power that filled the room, almost choking her. And above else, she remembered the power that surged between them with every touch. The kind of power that intoxicated her, that made her want to take it for herself, to possess it by any means necessary. Her body shivered at the thought and suddenly, being Mrs. Rodolphus Lestrange seemed like a small price to be paid for what Voldemort offered.
"Make the arrangements Father. I'm getting married," she smiled coyly to her Father and leaned over to softly kiss his cheek.
The ballroom was strangely warm. Everything about the ambient of the celebration struck Bellatrix as being wrong. There was much work to be done and yet, here the rich and noble stood, drinking and eating, celebrating an engagement that for Bellatrix was nothing more than the means to an end. Ensuring blood purity in her world. An indirect way of punishing the man who had stolen her sister and destroyed her life, staining it forever with his impurity and filth. Her gaze followed the crowd in the room with a hardness almost uncharacteristic of her age, her mind trying to fight the urge to pull at her corset and rip apart itís suffocating strings that seemed to sear into her skin. It was undignified, even though the garment was squeezing the air from her lungs.
They were all here. Her family, her mother and father smiling graciously as their guests congratulated them on the excellent choice of husband their eldest daughter had made. Her aunt and uncle, Walburga and Orion were entertaining some Ministry official, Walburga holding her son Regulus' arm like a hawk, probably thinking that if she let go he'd run away from home like his brother Sirius. Though they did not speak of such things, Bellatrix was certain her aunt's mental health had slipped and she was barely holding on by a thread. In a corner she spotted Narcissa, giggling as Lucius Malfoy whispered something in her ear. While he was fairly attractive, the man had a weak spirit, which did not appeal to her in any way. Her sister might appreciate that his ambitions ran as far as having the right connections in wizard society, but it was not enough for Bellatrix's taste.
Entertaining some old officials who's names she did not care to recall, Bellatrix saw Rodolphus. For a moment, she couldn't help the look of contempt that grazed her features. Once she had held him in the highest of regards, when she thought he shared her great goals of cleaning the wizarding world of scum and Mudbloods, but in the end, it seemed he too was swept away by the promise of a wedding and marital bliss. Her gaze unfocused from this unpleasant scene and her mindís eye traced back to a moment five days prior.
The house elf tapped lightly on her door, clearly distressed at the idea of disturbing the mistress.
"Mistress Bellatrix," the small creature squeaked. "Master Rodolphus here to see you."
Bellatrix scoffed at the mention of the name, slowly getting up from her bed and sitting in front of the mirror, checking her appearance. He had called upon her uninvited. So little class.
"Tell Master Rodolphus to wait," she instructed the elf, as she started pinning her dark curls on top of her head. She would take her time. Perhaps that way he would understand how much of an inconvenience he had caused her.
A small part of herself couldn't help but feel excited for the wedding. She would become Mrs. Lestrange and gain a completely new social status. She would no longer have to ask her father's permission. She would gain independence. Poor Rodolphus was so love sick, he would do anything she asked of him. Which in the long run, could only work to her advantage.
After deeming herself presentable, she descended from her room and into the parlor, where her recently appointed fiancee was waiting for her.
"Rodolphus. What an unexpected surprise." she commented as the man rose from his chair and walked towards her.
"A pleasant one I hope!" he insinuated and grabbed her soft hand. "When Mother and Father told me Cygnus had written to them to organize an engagement party I had to come over and see you at once!"
Bellatrix plastered a smile on her face and graciously allowed him to kiss her hand.
"Yes, well. We could all use some reason for happiness and what better reason to celebrate than the union of our illustrious families," the woman replied and Rodolphus' smile grew bigger.
"I am most pleased that our union shall bring you happiness!" he exclaimed and took another step towards her.
Bellatrix resisted the urge to roll her eyes and denounce him for the terrible fool he was. Instead, she placed a hand on his shoulder and closed her eyes as he planted a chaste kiss on her lips.
The events that played out in her mind were interrupted by her Father's voice, announcing a toast. She saw Rodolphus approaching her in the crowd and when he joined her side she placed a hand on his arm and smiled.
Her Father raised his goblet to the party present, important and influential people, gathered in celebration of the happy affair.
"Friends and family, it is my honor to announce the engagement of our eldest daughter, Bellatrix, to the heir of the Lestrange House, Rodolphus. May they live a long and happy life, bringing joy and respect to their families. En stirps nobilis et gens antiquissima Black."
They all cheered and raised their goblets to them, the applause and the congratulations deafening to her ears. But she was Bellatrix, the warrior, named to do great things. And she would do them, just as soon as she was done playing dress up for the high society.
AN: Once again, I want to thank Debra20 for beta-reading and for her excellent tips and pointers! I would be lost without her and her mad vocabulary skills!
The line Cygnus says is in Latin and it means "Behold the offspring of noble birth and the nation of the most ancient of Black.", which is the inscription on the Black family tree.
"Harry Potter" and everything related to it is property of J.K. Rowling! I own nothing.