Chapter 3 : Alone Again
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Days pass, one, two. Bellatrix Black is the lone child in her home. For a 10-year-old girl (they need much attention and excitement to keep them occupied), it is nearly the worst form of torture. Nearly; in a family of dark wizards, there’s always a far worse alternative. Still, boredom lasts an eternity, and one can only count the rooms in a manor so many times before one realizes that their Arithmancy is indeed correct. Bella knows better than to bug her parents for a form of entertainment; we’ll say the last time she did so was not a happy occasion.
Pale, bare feet pad aimlessly up and down the corridors, making absolutely no sound through the thickly embroidered carpeting. At last, she finds herself outside a pair of huge oaken doors. This is a sacred room; there is an identical place in each Black household. It is the room that holds the Family Tree. Bellatrix has seen the Tree on many occasions, but never, never on her own. The girl looks around, the smallest of smiles crossing her porcelain features. Her parents are both at their respective jobs. Nelly is off muttering to herself somewhere. She is alone.
Less than two moments later, the door is open.
A musty, warm wave of air hits the girl as she enters the room; an unnatural gust of wind blowing her already untidy curls in every possible direction. Bellatrix splutters, wrinkling her nose in disgust and pulling some stray hairs from her mouth, which had been slightly agape. The room is different. It is, after all, a very interesting and different experience for a young explorer to see such a place by herself for the first time.
The room is expansive and square; larger inside than it would appear from outside. Little circular portraits- about the size of a Galleon- span along the painted branches, interweaving and splaying out from the original Blacks, Sirius, Phineas Nigellus, Elladora, and Ilsa. Several have been burned, as though they’d been taken to with the butt of a muggle cigarette rather than a simple hex. Sirius Black III- her cousin-, Andromeda Black, Cedrella Weasley, Dorea Potter, other traitors to her family… their names are all forbidden. All have been overlooked, forgotten, snubbed.
Bellatrix skims her long, nimble fingers across the walls, brushing over each family member in turn. They hover over her own portrait, portraying a girl with messy black curls, sparkling black eyes, and a proud- borderline malicious- smile. This is me, she thinks, a similar smile overcoming her now, I’m quite proud of it. Of my family.
It is unclear how many millions of moments pass within that deathly silent room. It is not a peaceful for of quiet- oh, no- nothing is ever peaceful in the Black household. Those people do not know the meaning of ‘serenity.’ Rather, the room is filled with an aura of darkness; of black magic. To anyone not used to such a feeling, it would make their insides crawl. They would glance around nervously, looking for the person with such a tight grasp on their lungs, making them pant and writhe in agony. It would be nearly as bad as suffering the Cruciatus curse.
Bella has seen people in such pain. She has seen her sister in such pain. It was not an uncommon punishment for Andromeda when her deeds were at their worst. For example, the time the older girl met up with her muggle boyfriend, and ended up telling him about magic. That had been the worst time. Said boyfriend had been dragged in and tortured and killed right in front of Andromeda. Bella can still hear the traitor’s screams of agony mixing with the boy’s last scream as it became her turn. Bellatrix had been only 6, but still she remembers. Andromeda had already been disowned by that fatal day; the girl was merely foolish. She’d been living in the same town her ex-family was just outside of; news travels fast. Bella’s lips curl up into a sadistic smile; ‘Dro deserved what she’d gotten.
Although Bellatrix Black was a mostly timid, innocent girl, she can’t completely block out the pure-blood ideals her mother continuously drills into her. Really, she thinks, remembering how her eldest sister’s trembling body had been dumped out into the middle of the town square when it was all done, she should’ve seen it coming what w-
Bella jumps- cracking out of her dark thoughts- and spins quickly at the sound of Nelly’s high, squeaky tones. The elf is staring at her worriedly, lamp-like eyes widened so far the girl worries they may pop straight out of the creature’s head!
“What is it, Nelly?” she replies in a bored tone, taking a step away from the Tree. She’d been far closer than she realized, as though she’d wanted to get as close to her ‘family’ as possible.
“Nelly thought she ought to war… tell you, miss, that Mistress Black is in the fireplace, calling for the miss. Mistress d-doesn’t sound pleased. Mistress wanted Nelly to come and fetch the young Black girl.” The elf’s voice is docile; frightened, even. Druela Black is more than capable of terrifying grown men into a stupor, let alone meek house elves.
The young girl curses words she oughtn’t know under her breath, racing past Nelly and shouting for the elf to close the large doors. Down, down the stairs she flies, and into the sitting room. Druela’s annoyed face catches Bella’s attention instantly. Her mother has a captivating presence, despite not being in physical form within the room.
“What took you so long, girl? I’ve got work to attend to!”
Bellatrix grimaces, shuffling her feet anxiously, “I was, er… on the top floor. Exploring. It took Nelly a while to find me; I couldn’t hear her calling. I’m sorry, ma’am.” The Family Tree room is on the second floor.
Though the lie is beyond obvious, Druela Black tightens her lips and lets it slide. For now. “I shan’t stand for dishonesty, child. We’ll talk about that later. I just wanted to inform you that neither your father nor I shall be returning until late. Have Nelly make you supper, and be in your room by 9:00 sharp. No… snooping about.”
The girl nods hurriedly, wishing the conversation over already, “Yes, Mum.”
Mrs. Black nods as much as possible for a head in a fire, seeming satisfied.
“Very good. Goodnight, Bellatrix.” It is 2:00 in the afternoon.
Two hours later finds Bellatrix slipping like a shadow out into the backyard of her home. She doesn’t particularly wish for Nelly’s wide-eyed inquiries, and she’d rather like to be completely alone. The girl is adorned in the only casual set of muggle clothes she’s allowed to possess; dark jeans and a green V-neck. For adventures! She’d pleaded with her mother when the pair had first bought them. Her hair is as long and wild as usual, providing excellent protection from the glaring of the mid-September sun.
The Black manor stretches across many acres of land, extending far back into the countryside. The terrain of the immediate area- the ‘backyard’- is grassy and flat, encased by a magically enforced wooden fence, making it impenetrable. As if this branch of the Black family is a fully functional, peaceful lot, a white-painted swing decorates one corner, along with the other sort of lawn ornaments one would expect to see at their grandmother’s house.
Bella brushes a strand of hair to the side and tilts her head up, gazing longingly up at the clear blue heavens. Most children long to fly. With witches and wizards, it’s an easy possibility, but Druela and Cygnus have never allowed any of their daughters to experience the pure delight of riding a broom. Thus, she is as lustful as any muggle to feel the bite of the chilly wind on her skin; to crow like a rooster with arms grabbing the clouds. Yet another thing she may never receive.
For several minutes, the 10-year-old wanders around the lawn, eyes sometimes cast down at the grass or the rest of the grounds, sometimes flying with the hawks high above her head. It can’t be very healthy- not having any friends- but it is her life, and it leaves her the capability to enjoy nature. It lets her depend on only herself.
“And Cissy…” she adds to herself in a longing murmur, but shakes her head deftly a moment later. It will not do to dwell on impossibilities. Narcissa is away at Hogwarts, making new friends, forgetting to write. No one within the family, not even Bella, has received any form of communication with the blond student. Bellatrix is, obviously, taking it the hardest. She said she’d write. Wait, no… she didn’t. But she still should.
The sound of laughter rings through the air, breaking the young girl from her thoughts. She flinches slightly, thinking it’s her imagination torturing her with the taunts of Narcissa’s new friends. No… this is real. Turning slowly on her heels, Bellatrix finds herself facing the fence. A few steps later and she’s in front of the wooden barrier, one hand touching its smooth surface, one eye peeking through the cracks between boards.
The sight astounds her. Three boys only a year or so older than her are playing some sort of game. One of them seems to be chasing the others; when he manages to tap one of the others he yells “TAG!” and the ‘tagged’ one picks up the chase. Whenever the boys pass out of viewing range, Bellatrix is left with a clear view of the cottage next door.
It is a rather quaint little abode; one story and squeezed onto only a single acre of land (of which the back yard is more than half). Lime green shutters adorn the windows above matching flower boxes. The cottage itself is stone with a dark roof made of some muggle material. Muggle. Oh, drat. Of course the neighbors are muggles; only three other houses are in the immediate vicinity, all of them muggle.
I can’t stay here and watch them, she thinks miserably, I’m not allowed to associate with muggles. Mum would have a heart attack and die. Dad would hurt me. And then, I promised Cissy I’d be good. I promised.
But some strange force holds her there- pressed against the fence- until the last rays of the sun are disappearing over her property. At that point, a thin woman with golden hair and distinct laugh lines sticks half her body out the back door.
“Everett? Time for you and your mates to come inside. Would you like some tea and biscuits while we wait for their mums?”
A cheer goes up amongst the young mates and they fall over each other in an attempt to be the first the reach the house and the sweets it claims. The woman- Everett’s mum, presumably, whichever boy he is- watches the sight with a huge smile and a laugh, stepping completely outside to allow the boys easier access. Polite, kind, warm.
Only then does Bellatrix tear herself from the picture perfect sight and retire to her bedroom, which suddenly seems colder and darker than ever.
Author’s Note: Sorry, guys. This one’s a smidge shorter than normal. I just didn’t have anything else to put in this chapter. I’ve had it done for a few weeks; I was trying to put more in it- to make it longer- but it just didn’t work out like that. Anyway, I’m off to camp in a day or two, so this shall be the last chapter for the next month… I think. Another sorry for that one. Depending on how fast I can get the next written, you might get one more. I dunno; I’m trying to work on my other story “Letters to Colin’, too… We’ll see how it goes. I’d really appreciate some more reviews, guys! I’ve got six so far, which I don’t think is too bad, but there’s also exactly 100 reads… so I’d really love to hear opinions of more than 6% of you lovelies. Thanks for reading!
DISCLAIMER: Anything you recognize, peeps, is not mine. Not at all.