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Title: Her Lord
Author: Dee (deirdre.riordan @ gmail.com)
Pairing: None, mentions of Bellatrix/Regulus.
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: *sigh* Of course they're JKR's, not mine.
Summary: No, nothing will be the same after tonight. After tonight, things will matter.

Notes: Written as a birthday gift to Xander, 10 February 2005.
Her Lord

The morning dawns pink and orange, soft and safe through the stained glass panes in the east wing of Malfoy Manor. The wing's sole occupant doesn't notice. She sits motionless at the dressing table, and has been staring into the mirror so long that her reflection has become a blur.

Tonight, she'll be seventeen.

After tonight, she'll see no more of Hogwarts. No more hiding behind courtyard pillars with Regulus to hex the Gryffindors. No more stealing illicit, breathless kisses in between curses. After all, what good are N.E.W.T.s when there is such a Lord to be served? The shrill voice of Auntie Black penetrates her thoughts. No, nothing will be the same after tonight. After tonight, things will matter.

She does move now, stretching out her left arm before her and taking in the sight of the smooth, unmarred flesh. She runs her index finger across it, shivering slightly.

A clock chimes somewhere in the distance. She counts silently. Seventeen hours left. Seventeen hours from now, she'll be seventeen, and this arm will become identical to a hundred others.

In seventeen hours, she will be Bellatrix Lestrange.

Her eyes focus on the mirror again, and she glares at herself. No, it isn't fair, she knows. But she's known all her life what she would do today. What she would have to do. It could have fallen to her or Narcissa (not Andromeda, never Andromeda), but Narcissa turned out to be the beauty. The blonde bloody envy of all who knew her, with all the wit and the charm and the grace. Narcissa should have been the one called Bella.

Bella. Bella-Bella-Bella. She can almost hear Regulus mumbling into her hair, almost feel his arms around her waist. But she shouldn't. It's wrong (right), and it's over now, in any case. But it still comforts her a little to know that Regulus will be joining soon. Two more months.

Faced with how swiftly these seventeen hours are going to pass, she feels as though two months must be a luxurious sort of eternity.

Bella. Bella, Bella, Bell-la. Regulus is the only one who can get away with calling her that. No, was. Could.

She doesn't realise she's been holding the perfume bottle until it shatters in her grip. She opens her hand and lets the shards of glass fall, and the expensive French perfume drips onto them, now tinted pink with blood. She doesn't feel the sting of the alcohol in her wounds. She wipes her hand on her nightdress and goes back to staring into the mirror.

An hour or two later, Narcissa finds her in the same position: frozen and staring into some nowhere within the mirror, a bloody handprint on her white silk garment and the tiniest drop of blood still trickling faintly down her arm every now and again.

"Dearest, what have you done to yourself?" Narcissa says, rushing to her side and yanking Bellatrix's injured hand out from under her chin.

"Broke a perfume bottle," she says, as though it were the simplest thing in the world.

Narcissa gives her an exasperated look and heals her hand, then marches over to the wardrobe. "We're wanted at breakfast," she says, producing a Slytherin-green robe. "Our Lord is here."

Bellatrix knew he would be, and sneers at her sister for ten thousand reasons at once. Why can't she be the statuesque trophy wife? "My Lord," she says.

Narcissa shrugs, affecting the icy nonchalance she's so well-known for. "Not yours yet. And as much mine."

She pulls the robe on over the top of her bloodied nightdress and clenches her teeth. "Then why don't you let him Mark you?"

And Narcissa is laughing. She's crossing the room and stroking Bellatrix's hair and laughing. "Darling, do you really think he'd want me? You've got all the brains, all the cunning."

Bellatrix lets Narcissa soothe her and pet her, but she doesn't believe a word of it. She wants to, but Narcissa has spent the last sixteen years, three hundred sixty-eight days, and fifteen-odd hours making her empty promises. She lets herself be led down to breakfast where she realises, halfway through the Dark Lord's diatribe about Mudbloods, that she can't actually remember what Rodolphus looks like.

But she's always liked the Dark Lord, ever since she was a child. She likes what he promises. She likes his eyes and the way he pays no attention to Narcissa.

And by the time she descends the stairs on the arm of her regal brother-in-law, she has schooled her face into a haughty, smouldering mask. When Lucius lets go of her, she needs no push to kneel before the Dark Lord. She knows without looking when he motions her up, and she stands to face him unwaveringly. She doesn't flinch when he cups her face in his cold, rough hand and kisses her cheek. "My little Bella, all grown up," he says. Her lips make no move to sneer at the nickname, and no cry escapes them when the Mark is burnt into her arm at the stroke of midnight. It is only when he-- her Lord-- prounounces the marriage rites that she even registers Rodolphus's presence next to her. No, she knows quite well whose wife she has become today. Her lips twist into a smile at last.

.end.



© 2005 by Deirdre Riordan. Contact me at deirdre.riordan @ gmail . com (remove spaces).

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