Watching the last faint traces of the black smoke of Bellatrix’s apparition disappear, Hermione struggled to unlock and open the door. Stumbling inside, she sagged against it. The romantic spell of the beautiful afternoon faded with the physical reminder of the occupation of the breathtaking dark witch. She slipped to the floor as she lost control of her emotions. Sobbing quietly, Hermione contemplated the irony of her situation. The gentle soulful kiss she shared with Bellatrix seemed in direct conflict with the life long devotion to violence, death and her Lord. She was one of the few Death Eaters to have never denied her involvement nor denounced her Lord. Bellatrix was a convicted murder not known to show remorse. Hermione had been so wrapped up in the slow seduction of the Malfoys for her affections that she lost perspective of the situation. After all, at the beginning of the year Hermione would have been more likely to be a victim than a date to the witch.
And yet the changes in her life, hadn’t just been in the world around her. Hermione had changed too. Was it in her blood? Or did the simple knowledge of her name make some mark on her? How had she managed to let people in? She used to be so protective of herself. Now she allowed herself to be reliant on others. She nearly turned down the offer for lunch the next day, because she simply didn’t know where the Manor was. Bellatrix’s offer caused her defenses to crumble and make it impossible for her to say no.
And that is what it would always come back to. She was drawn to Bellatrix. It was like an invisible thread ran between the two, drawing them ever closer. To some extent she had to admit she was similarly drawn to Narcissa and Draco, which added a level of complexity. But Bellatrix, she couldn’t avoid. After two encounters it was clear the pulses in her magic were connected to the dark witch. And she experienced them intermittently throughout the fall suggesting that the pull affected Bellatrix too and that they had been physically near each other on at least two additional occasions.
In spite of the heavy evidence against the older witch, Hermione knew there was something she couldn’t quite put her finger on about her. There had to be more to her story. In the afternoon they spent together, Hermione saw nothing of the madness for which the other was renowned. It was clear there was more than met the eye. The gnawing curiosity would eat away at Hermione if she were to deny her interest, and she had no desire to deny herself anything when it came to Bellatrix.
As her tears dried on her face as she came to the realization that she wanted nothing more than to throw caution to the wind and run directly into the witch’s arms.
Landing in the middle of the library at Malfoy Manor, Bellatrix unleashed a yell of victory. The entire afternoon had gone to plan. She got through the apologies without incident. Hermione didn’t know, couldn’t know, that she apologized to a very select few. The vulnerability of apology spoke volumes of her intentions towards the younger witch. Wanting Hermione, desiring her in every way drove her crazy. She was used to taking whatever she wanted, but Hermione had to give herself first. Then and only then, she would take her fully.
Narcissa looked up from the large book she was reading at the sound of her sister shouting. She playfully rolled her eyes in response. Clearly Bellatrix had been successful in her first attempt to woo the girl. Narcissa felt vague jealousy at the idea of her sister having her. She’d enjoyed the time spent with the witch, but she had always seemed to covet Bella’s toys. Turning to her sister she said,
“Am I to assume from your bellowing that you managed not to scare the girl off?”
Approaching the blonde, Bellatrix slide down to the sofa and rested her head on her shoulder. “Not yet, Cissy.”
“Would you like me to congratulate you?”
“Not just yet for that either. You haven’t even heard how well things went. And I do presume you want to know.” Bellatrix paused to turn her head slightly to look into her sister’s blue eyes. “I hope you don’t have lunch plans tomorrow, I invited Hermione to come for lunch,” she said, smiling brightly. She was rather pleased with herself.
“Sister, you impress me. How did you get her to agree?”
“I just asked her and promised to make sure she arrived here safely.”
“Then you think its true? I’ve been trying to gain her trust for months and barely managed to get her to meet me in public. A few hours drinking tea and she trusts you to apparate her here?”
“I am rather remarkable, sister.”
Narcissa made a faint humming sound in response. It was true, Bellatrix was remarkable. Anything she set her mind to, she mastered with a flair that intimidated most. She’d taken control of her life and lived by her own rules. Narcissa would never shake her hero worship for her protective oldest sister. Throughout the years she heard the whispers questioning how she could love such a monster, but the public didn’t know her sister; didn’t know their past. And they certainly didn’t know the enigmatic charm of the dark witch. When it suited her, Bellatrix could ensnare anyone around her in her erotic charm. It rarely lasted in her absence, so the girl’s attendance the next day would be a testament to her success if in fact she showed.
“And under what guise did you invite her to my home?”
“Research, of course. She wants to understand our connection. You know very well that she will never find what she is looking for in the charming bookstore in that little town. I don’t suppose you bothered to tell her?” Bellatrix paused, giving Narcissa the opportunity to answer. “No. I didn’t think so. Well this is our opportunity to allow her to discover for herself certain things about our family.”
“What are you suggesting?”
“I’m suggesting that we make readily available the prophecy and other topics that might be relevant to understanding our bond. It’s not as though we can just come out and tell her at this point. She will see every step that led us here as a manipulation.”
“Are you saying it wasn’t?”
“I know full well it was, but it was a necessary one. Had we been passive who knows if it ever would have come to pass. In time I will be able to tell her and when I do she will understand why I made the decisions I did.”
Narcissa raised her eyebrows at the certainty and trust with which her sister spoke. “Very well, come have dinner we have quite a bit of planning to do before tomorrow.”
After her early evening meltdown, Hermione took dinner in the privacy of her room. The level of interaction of the last few days was more that she was accustomed to and she found herself missing the silence. After eating she sank into a warm bath as she cranked up her favorite music, allowing it to soothe her frayed nerves. She let go of the stream of concerned thoughts. It was absurd that at such a young age she was given such options and such power. She didn’t have the slightest clue what to do with it and she wasn’t certain that she even wanted it.
She fell peacefully to sleep daydreaming about what the next day would bring. No amount of personal doubt could hamper her anticipation to see Bellatrix again. For the first time in a long while she slept until late morning, though she awoke feeling refreshed and rested, she was going to be rushed in getting ready. She moved as quickly as she could, unable to even linger long enough to drown herself in stress. She finished her hair as the silence was broken by a firm knocking on the door. She opened it to find Bellatrix leaning casually against the doorframe, unabashedly raking her eyes up and down Hermione’s body. Blushing, Hermione stepped towards her closing and locking the door.
“Hello, Hermione. It’s lovely to see you again. This is for you,” Bellatrix purred in Hermione’s ear while producing a flower seemingly out of thin air. Hermione took the purple flower from the slender outstretched fingers. “It’s an aster,” she explained.
“It’s a symbol of love and trust. This particular variety is very rare in the UK,” interrupting Bellatrix before she could finish her sentence, Hermione completed the thought.
“It’s not a presumption of what we are now, just a reminder of what we could be.”
Hermione raised her eyes from the flower in her hands to meet the dark eyes she could feel on her skin. From a single look there was no doubting the sincerity of the words, but there was also a shimmer of playfulness that Hermione longed to know more about.
“Are you ready to face my sister in the role of hostess? She can be rather intimidating,” the older witch asked.
“I think so.”
“If you are worried about how you are dressed, don’t be. I could tell from a kilometer away that is an outfit Narcissa picked out. She will be pleased.” Bellatrix took a step closer to the girl, inhaling the sweet scent that had enraptured her the day before. The lavender and vanilla reminded her of sunny days at the sea. “And I find you captivating.” She was tempted to kiss the girl soundly, but kept instead to the plan of offering her arm. With a small pause of hesitation Hermione stepped beside her, wrapping her empty hand around her arm. After a long look, they disapparated with a faint crack.