The Dark Lady
5 August, 1962
I got my Hogwarts letter today! It was Andromeda's turn to check the post, so naturally, she saw it first.
"Oh, Bella!" she shrieked, causing Mother to scowl (she had a headache), and Father to look up from his copy of the paper.
"What is it?" Cissy asked, too stupid to understand that it was the letter she and I had been talking about for days.
"You should know perfectly well." I said haughtily, rising from the table and rushing to Andromeda. Snatching the letter from her hand, I rushed back, breaking the seal as I went.
"What is it, Bellatrix?" Father asked, in an infuriatingly bored way.
"My Hogwarts letter." I replied, waving the thick parchment in his face.
He glanced down at it quickly, then put down his paper. I watched him intently, wondering what he would do next.
"So you're a witch after all." He declared harshly after an awkward pause.
"Yes," I confirmed, the picture of solemnity and maturity "I am."
Cissy looked up at me, her eyes as round as the tea saucers. She was smiling.
"Andromeda, Narcissa. Out." Mother commanded in her soft voice, and my sisters hurried out of the kitchen.
"You are growing up, Bellatrix." Mother reflected, looking me up and down.
"You will uphold our family name?" Father asked, taking a sip of the black coffee he was so fond of.
"I will do it, Father."
Mother scoffed. "You will be as worthy of our name as the house-elf."
"Don't be harsh, Druella." Father repremanded her softly, almost lovingly.
Mother was a proud woman. She saw the scolding as a major slight no doubt, and so flounced upstairs, slamming the door behind her.
"Sit, Bellatrix." Father commanded. I did; I wasn't stupid enough to disobey him.
A little bit about Father: He is a hard man. There is no other way to discribe him. His skin is pale, giving his face the appearance of one of the marble statues we saw when visiting the Grandparents. His hair is black and thinning. His eyes are small and black under pencil-thin eyebrows. He is hard in his thinking too. I imagine all the male professors at Hogwarts will resemble him, except Dumbledore, of course.
"You, Bellatrix," He began to lecture. "Are a pure-blood witch. That is a wonderful thing to be. You are of the most noble and ancient House of Black. That is the best thing to be. So, to do our family justice, there are certain things you must not do while at school. Do you understand?"
Father had never looked at me so seriously before. Usually when he looked at me, it was as though he was looking at something far beneath him. This new behavior was scaring me.
"How will I know what to do?" I asked, feeling the urge to cry like a stupid little girl.
"Your mother will teach you." He replied. Then, he left me sitting there with another command to wait.
I waited. I needed to think. I wanted to be alone before Cissy began to pester me about Hogwarts.
Father returned a moment later with this book.
"Write," He commanded, handing over a quill and ink bottle as well "Write down the truth of what you feel so you remember it, but be ready to lie through your teeth. And trust no one until you know their blood status. Mudbloods are the most treacherous kind of wizard, daughter."
So I came up here to do as he told me, even though I think it's rather silly, and even though it's likely that I will tell Cissy everything. I know Cissy's blood is pure after all, because she's my sister, so what's the point in hiding things from her? Besides, she's too much of an idiot to use information against me. I trust her.
6 August, 1962
It's hot today, so we didn't play in the garden. Cissy doesn't like to get sweaty, and Andromeda doesn't like the bugs that flock around the roses on these awful days.
We passed the morning doing needlework with Mother. I hate needlework! I'm no good at it! What's the point in learning to do something in which you'll never be the best? Andromeda and Cissy are naturals at it, so I endured the little beads of blood that formed on my fingertips every time I pricked myself for their sakes.
But there was only so much of poking myself I could take, so after lunch I refused to sew another second.
Then, Cissy got the idea that we should go into the attic. "No one ever goes there." She reasoned, "and I saw Bernie drag up Mother's old dresses."
It was true. Bernie, the house-elf had stowed Mother's ball gowns up in the dingy attic.
In the attic, which was even hotter than the garden, we found an old crystal ball. I don't know why it was there. Anyway, we brought it down and spent the afternoon playing fortune-tellers.
Here is a list of some of the other interesting things we found: a shrunken house-elf head; an old golden Snitch; something that looked suspiciously like a human finger, preserved in a jar; and a foul-mouthed portrait of an old man in a red turban.
7 August, 1962
I look at my Hogwarts letter often. It looks so official! My sisters must be lying. They've been telling me it's a fake made by Mother to try and get me to act more ladylike and to smile more. I don't know who started this cruel joke. Cissy has a reason: to make me stay. But Cissy's only eight. What does she know?
Father and Mr. Malfoy spend a lot of time locked away in Father's study. I wonder what they do in there. I hope they aren't arranging a marriage for one of us and Mr. Malfoy's son. I've seen Lucius, and he's scrawny, whiny, and stupid. Granted, I don't know Lucius, but with a father who spoils as much as Mr. Malfoy, how could he not be all of those things?
Andromeda complained of a headache, and shivered through dinner. I hope she's not sick! Cissy and I are going to go pick her some flowers and bring them to her. She is resting now.
We're going to the seaside soon to see the Grandparents. I'm not looking forward to it. It promises to be extremely dull, and the ocean is always too cold for swimming.
18 August, 1962
We left to see the Grandparents on the ninth.
Andromeda complained about going because she still felt sick. I complained because the Grandparents hate me, and are very open about that fact. But it doesn't matter. I hate them too. So does Father. He says they're weak-minded, pro-Mudblood fools.
I'd agree but to be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely sure what a Mudblood is. Yes, I understand they're Muggleborns, but I don't understand how they're different from us. Maybe they just aren't as rich and Father hates them for that reason alone.
The Grandparents definitely aren't as rich as us. They live in a big half-broken down house a little way from a village, perched dangerously close to the edge of a cliff. The cliff towers over the sea, and it's usually cold and bleak on top of it.
We didn't do much today, because it rained. It's always scary here when it rains. There are bits of land sticking out from the bottom of the cliff, and I can't help but imagine that they are fingers from a giant's hand that could close on us at any moment and crush us. And when the lightning hits them...
Anyway, if it's nice tomorrow, and if we can escape, I think we should go down onto the Fingers. I told Cissy and Andromeda this just a moment ago. Cissy seems for it, but I think Andromeda is worrying again. Oh, well. Maybe I'll just go with Cissy and hope Andromeda doesn't rat us out.
I've been waiting for Cissy to be old enough to make the climb, and I think it's finally time. I can't wait!
19 August, 1962
We should never have done that. Never, ever, ever! Now Cissy isn't speaking to me, and I don't blame her. It was by far the worst idea I've ever had.
Ciisy and I thought the best way to be allowed to go was to disappear. We got out of bed early, but when we shook Andromeda awake, she muttered that we could go without her.
"Why are you being a coward?" I asked. "We've been planning to do this forever."
"You and Narcissa have. I want to go back to sleep." She rolled over and did just that.
I stole some food. I wasn't sure how long this would take, and Cissy's nearly impossible to work with on an empty stomach. I also stole a sharp knife. This would be useful for defending ourselves if we met anyone who might want to hurt us. I would have stolen a wand, but I have no idea how to use one. (Oh I'll learn that soon! So soon! I am made so much happier by that thought.)
The beginning part of the climb was hard. The rock was almost smooth, so we very nearly slid down onto a narrow ledge about halfway down.
The bottom part was easier. The sea had made natural handholds and footholds for us, and even though we didn't have much experience in climbing, we were able to make our way, cutting ourselves on sharp rocks as we went, down.
"Is that it?" Cissy asked when we reached the bottom. "It's very small, isn't it?"
"Yes," I answered. "But it is a good deal warmer."
We leaned our battered and bloody bodies against the stone wall. I turned away, looking down at the now close sea.
"Bella! I see a cave." She was excited.
"I don't see a cave."
"Look that way." She indicated the spot, where we had been leaning and sure enough, there it was.
It was a narrow opening, and Cissy and I rushed in.
The wind had been whipping our long hair around us when we were outside, but in the cave, our hair was still. The temperature dropped, too.
"How big do you think it is?" Cissy asked. She kept close to me.
"I couldn't say." I replied.
I shouted to see if it echoed. It did.
We explored a bit by the light of the opening. We grew braver as the minutes went by, moving farther away from one another until Cissy discovered the black lake by falling in. I fished her out, soaking, but amused. Then I began to walk around the water.
As we continued the expedition, we saw a shadow obscuring our light and with a rumbling of rock, the opening closed. Cissy and I screamed. We were plunged into darkness.
"Bella?" She asked somewhere to my right. She was scared.
"Where are you?" I responded.
"Where are you?"
I moved blindly in the dark, one hand outstretched to find her. In my other hand I held the knife. I wasn't sure if we were alone now.
She found me. I felt her collide with me, and we both screamed.
"Let's stay together." I advised, taking her hand.
"Oh Bella, we'll be locked in here forever. And you don't know any magic to get us out."
"We won't be..."
But I couldn't reassure her without lying, and I wasn't prepared to do that.
I don't know how long we saw at the edge of the Black Lake. Staying together was the only way we stayed sane. I know that the crushing darkness would have got to me if I were alone. We chattered about nothing, made up silly stories, sang dumb songs. Anything to pass the dull hours until death or release.
The rumbling of rock and the sound of entering footsteps anounced our fate.
The footsteps were wrong though, slow and shuffling.
Then there was a light and I got a good look at the newcomers. Corpses. They had to be corpses. They were pale, and they walked with their arms outstretched for balance and one was dragging it's leg behind it. The injured limb seemed to be rotting away.
The man behind them was hooded, and holding a lit wand. The only impression of him I got were red eyes and a high, cold, voice as he exclaimed: "Avada Kedavra!"
Cissy and I ducked to avoid the green light, but the corpses were on us then. The most recognizable of the three turned it's bloated head all the way around, looking at us through maggot-eaten eyes. It opened it's grotesque hole of a mouth and made a gurgling sound.
"This is the end." I whispered, wrapping my arms around my sister.
The red-eyed man turned to us, flicked his wand, and the dead man shambled forward. The other two were at it's heels.
I wouldn't go down without a fight. Grabbing Cissy's wrist and pulling her behind me, I rushed at the hooded man.
"Protego." He said calmly as I came, and I was thrown bckwards.
"Lumos." Now his wand was lit again, and he was looking at us closely.
"And what," He asked "are you doing here?"
"Don't kill us." I commanded, because Father said begging would get a man nowhere. "I'm Bellatrix Black, a Pureblood. Any wizard in their right mind would spare a Pure-blood."
With another flick of his wand, the corpses stood still. The hooded man regarded us through his red eyes which I now noticed didn't look so red anymore.
"How did you get in here?" He asked.
We stayed silent.
"I will be merciful if you tell me."
"It was open." I whispered, my courage leaving me. "It had to be."
"You are sure you did not open it?" He asked, stepping closer to me, ignoring Cissy entirely.
"I'm sure. I don't even know how. I don't know how to do any magic yet."
Suddenly, one pale arm was offered to me, and the other to Cissy. I scratched at it, screamed, and tried to dislodge the wand from the man's handddI wasn't going to let him take me away either.
He dragged us from the cave and then disapparated with us still holding onto him, to the top of the cliff.
It was nearly evening now, but even with the sun low in the sky, Cissy and I still had to shield our eyes.
Father was walking toward us. I'd know him anywhere, because he is so precise, even when just taking a walk.
Cissy and I ran to him.
"What—Bellatrix? Narcissa? Weren't you two with your mother?"
"Oh no, "father." Cissy was sobbing. "It was Bella's idea to climb down onto the Fingers, so we did, and there was an evil man who had corpses, and so Bella protected me. He had dead people, Father!" He picked her up, and regarded me cooly.
"What is she speaking of, Bellatrix?"
"We went exploring." I said simply. I was scared to say any more. But once again, the hooded man rescued me.
He put down his hood, revealing a face more like a snake's than a man's.
"My Lord?" Father asked, confused.
"Your daughters found their way through some powerful magic. I nearly killed them with Inferi." He explained so coldly, as though it was nothing that he nearly killed us.
Father dropped Cissy onto her feet and knelt before the man, his Lord. "Thank you, My Lord. I am ever in your debt."
"You are." The man agreed. "Your daughter is in denialt she broke through my barriers." He pointed at me, making me shrink back. I realized I was still holding the knife, and dropped it.
"My Lord, why would she want to..."
"That, Cygnus, is what I'd like to ask her. Allow me to do so in private."
"Yes, of course." And he and Cissy left us.
"Do you know who I am?" He asked softly, running his wand through his pale fingers.
"No." I answered, regarding my feet and the knife near them.
"I am Lord Voldemort. Do you know how many children have tried to kill me?"
"You are the first."
"Please, don't tell my father," I burst out. "Because then he'll tell the Ministry, and I'll be sent to Azkaban. I've never killed anyone before. I'm too young for wizard prison and dementors."
This made Lord Voldemort laugh. "I am sure many at the Ministry would be glad if you'd succeeded."
Then he began to walk away. I couldn't let him leave. I still had to ask him something.
"How do you do it?" I asked.
He stopped, turning around again.
"How do you have enough magic to fill a dead man and make him keep walking? Could you teach me?"
"One day, Bellatrix Black, I may teach you."
Then he did leave, and I went into the house to face the wrath I knew would come from my mother.