Bellatrix swept through the streets of Hogsmeade back to the Three Broomsticks as quickly as she could. Though publically awarded her freedom, she was under no delusion that most knew she was freed for her connections not her innocence. She never denied her part in the first war, nor would she in the second. She accomplished more than any witch before her and she earned the respect of many of her Lord’s men in the process. The violence and battles were an adrenaline rush and had been the only thing that made her feel alive. Azkaban robbed her of the feeling for 15 long years and she was currently spending all of her energy attempting to wait patiently for her Lord to require her service again. Rationally, she knew that he was giving her time to regain her strength, but it didn’t lessen her desire to jump in. Fortunately, the girl served as a happy distraction. Being near her was a different type of rush, unlike anything she’d previously experienced. There was lust, but it wasn’t all there was. Bellatrix had no intention of giving up her other sources of fun. No, if she and the girl were to be, Hermione would have to accept her exactly as she was. Darkness and everything else that made up the dark witch. That would be the test of the prophecy. That would be how Bellatrix would know if Hermione was her one.
Bellatrix found her way to the table and sat next to her sister. Narcissa took in her sister’s appearance after the short outing. Bellatrix’s wild beauty was once again in full bloom. Her eyes were bright and sparkling as Narcissa had not seen them since childhood. Her cheeks were slightly flushed and Bellatrix had entered the bar like she owned it. Every step she took was imbued with the confidence that was distinctly Bellatrix Black.
“Bella, what just happened?” Narcissa began cautiously. She hoped that nothing had gone badly, but with Bellatrix’s temper and impulsivity anything was possible. She worried mostly about Hermione’s reaction. Narcissa had already been firmly pushing Hermione to form a bond with herself and Draco to familiarize her with what Narcissa hoped would become her family. To an outsider it may have looked manipulative, but in comparison to the arranged marriages most purebloods were subjected to, this approach was incredibly gentle. The entire family was courting Hermione on Bella’s behalf. Narcissa found herself taken with the girl, noting that she was rather charming.
“Nothing as interesting as you are suspecting, sister,” Bellatrix said in a bored tone. “I just went after her to clear up a small misunderstanding.”
“Bella, stop talking in riddles. What did you do?”
“Temper temper, Narcissa,” Bella prodded and then smiled to lessen the effect. “It seems the pretty little witch discovered an interesting part of our… situation. While we were sitting at the table she was able to hear my thoughts.”
“What were you thinking that she ran?” Narcissa struggled to keep her voice under control as she became angry.
“Oh it wasn’t what I was thinking. It was that I pushed her out of my mind.”
“I didn’t mean to, Cissy. It was an unintended reaction. Years of prison will do that to you. Not that it matters, I went to apologize. I caught up with her before she reached the Inn and used my body to get her to hear me out.”
Narcissa let a small groan slip, which made Bellatrix smirk.
“I assumed that it would be easier to get past her walls if we had a physical connection. I didn’t go overboard. It was enough to confirm that the transference is two ways. I could read her thoughts. They were far more interesting than my own. I kissed her cheek, winked and put a note in her hand asking her to meet me tomorrow.”
Bellatrix chuckled at her sister’s open shock. She had missed getting Narcissa firmly out of her comfort zone. Narcissa’s concern was legitimate. For the first time everything in Bellatrix’s life was moving in the same direction. Having a singular goal made her feel focused and strong. The need to lash out and cause destruction seemed to be firmly at bay.
After a moment, Narcissa schooled her features and said condescendingly, “I am proud of you, I would have hated to clean up your mess.”
“Watch yourself, baby sister. I still know more hexes than you,” Bellatrix growled threateningly. After only a moment of silence the two burst out laughing.
Wrapped in a warm quilt, Hermione sat in the window seat of her room, watching the sunrise. After her encounter with the eldest Black sister, she found herself so out of sorts that she sought shelter in the comfort of her bed and slept away most of the afternoon. As a result she was unable to sleep through the night. She read until the first light of dawn, when she moved to drink a cup of tea and watch the sunrise. She felt more at peace that morning than she had in many months.
She was unsuccessful in finding anything in the books currently in her possession that made any reference to the type of mental connection she experienced the day before. It was a perfectly good excuse to shop at the bookstore. On her way there she decided that she would stop and get the last few things she needed for her makeover. At the top of her list was new perfume. She never bothered before, but something about the allure of Bellatrix enticed her to try something new of her own choosing.
Hermione arrived at Madam Puddifoot’s a quarter before 3 after her shopping expedition. She was nearly overcome with nerves. She chose to wear an outfit selected by Madame Malfoy the day before, as she truly wanted to impress the dark eyed witch whose lips she could have sworn she still felt on her cheek. The soft pale purple fabric rose high on her neck accentuating her neck and flowed comfortably down her form. Having not ordered tea without Bellatrix, Hermione was still wrapped in her new cloak for warmth. The elaborate patterns of the fabric caught the sunlight as she turned. She paged through the book she brought with her, though the topic was pertinent she was unable to focus. Right at 3 o’clock sharp, the bell to the shop rang, announcing the entrance of a customer. Hermione raised her eyes from the pages of her book to watch the proud hooded figure of Bellatrix take over the room.
The few others occupying the shop seemed as captivated as Hermione felt. The woman before her looked nothing like the photo the media circulated a few months prior. As she lowered her hood, her bright pale skin, red lips and sparkling smile caused Hermione to take a deep steadying breath. The woman before her was in a word- gorgeous. Every curve of her body was hugged by the black lace dress she wore. Hermione attempted to control her thoughts, wary of the day before, while watching the witch stalk towards her. Her movements reminded Hermione of a panther stalking her prey. Hermione realized she would be willing prey if it gained her attention.
As she reached the table, Hermione found herself rising to greet her. Bellatrix reached out her hand and said,
“Let us begin again. Hello, I’m Bellatrix Black. I am very pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“Hello, I’m Hermione MacCarthy,” she found herself saying quietly in response as Bellatrix continued to hold her hand, “It’s lovely to meet you as well.” Stunned by the feeling of Bellatrix’s skin against her own, Hermione watched mutely as the older witch ordered tea and scones motioning her to sit down. As they settled in their seats at the small table Bellatrix began more softly than her reintroduction
“I’m very glad you came. I wasn’t sure if you would give me another chance after yesterday. I would at least like the opportunity to explain.”
“I could hardly refuse the offer,” Hermione replied in the tone of voice Narcissa had been schooling her in. “It’s not as though I had any idea how to send you a refusal. After all, we both know I am a proper pureblooded woman.”
The disarmingly sarcastic last statement caused both witches to chuckle at their situation.
“My pursuit of you is only barely acceptable because we are from two of the most powerful and wealthy families. I believe we have left the realm of proper.”
The honesty of Bellatrix’s words caused Hermione’s icy front to fracture just a bit revealing her confusion and shock. She knew the tea shop was well known as a date location, but could the woman be showing genuine interest? She attempted to read the other witches mind or at least her face for confirmation.
At the feeling of Hermione’s attempt to see into her mind, Bellatrix smirked at the girl and leaned toward her to gently brush her fingers over the top of Hermione’s hand. Whispering intimately in her ear, “I won’t be so easy again, little witch. I intend to make you work for it.” Pleased by the shivered reaction the girl couldn’t bite back, Bellatrix leaned back slightly, leaving their fingers gently intertwined.
“If I was able to see into your mind, does that mean you could see into mine?” Hermione asked tentatively.
“Are you asking for your research purposes?” she responded, gesturing towards the book Hermione abandoned the moment she walked through the door. She noted that Hermione made little effort to control her reaction at being caught. Leaning in to lower her voice she purred, “Yes. I believe it is a two way connection.”
Hermione immediately moved to back away to hide the blush creeping up her cheeks, but Bellatrix, anticipating the move, stilled the motion by gently squeezing the fingers she never released.
“I won’t rush you, Hermione. But I won’t pretend that I don’t feel a connection to you. Blacks aren’t raised to back away from things they may find frightening. And I refuse to not live my second chance to it’s fullest.” The devious smile found it’s way back on her face as she continued, “Don’t fear, I am more than capable of being brave enough for the both of us.”
Hermione scoffed in response but smiled at her companion. She knew she’d been bested and that she didn’t want to fight how good it felt to be in the witch’s presence. With the air a bit clearer, the two eased into conversation ranging from how they took their tea, to experiences at Hogwarts and growing up. As the sun dipped below the horizon, Bellatrix realized that they would need to part ways, but couldn’t bear the idea of not seeing the girl again soon. In a moment of pure brilliance she invited Hermione to continue her research in the stacks at Malfoy manor. Hermione hesitated at the offer until Bellatrix said that she would gather her the next day in time to have lunch with Narcissa and Draco.
Hermione allowed herself to be led by Bellatrix through the streets of Hogsmeade to the inn where she was staying. Stopping just outside Hermione’s room, Bellatrix tugged gently at the girl’s hand, spinning her into her arms. For a moment they gazed into each other’s eyes until the older witch moved her hand to the back of Hermione’s head, weaving her fingers through the soft curls. With deliberate softness Bellatrix brought their lips together in a slow kiss full of the promise of passion. Without speaking a word, she took a step back and disapparated all the while smiling at Hermione.