Voldemort announced the arrival of the company saying, “Hello Bellatrix, Narcissa.”
“My Lord,” they murmured together while bowing slightly.
“I appreciate you allowing me to borrow, Miss MacCarthy, for the afternoon. We had a lovely chat,” he said directly to the sisters. “And Miss MacCarthy, thank you. I hope we will have the opportunity to talk again soon. I believe there is much we can learn from one another.”
Hermione stood as he rose and bade him farewell, nodding appreciatively at the compliment. As his footsteps faded away, she turned slowly to face the two women, feeling more than a little trepidation about the reactions she might face. While she had intended to bathe and take a short walk, she hadn’t planned to be gone all afternoon. Being in the Dark Lord’s presence, she lost all concepts of time. He was as magnanimous as everyone had said. She took in the two attractive women. The difference in their appearances were so delightfully complementary. Full dark curls contradicted the straight long blonde hair, however the body language and facial expressions at that moment were an exact copy. And she wouldn’t describe either as particularly happy. To boot, they seemed to be content to wait her out and force her to speak first. Gathering her courage she walked slowly to Bellatrix, putting her arms tightly around the older witch’s neck, burrowing into her embrace and pressing a chaste kiss on her lips.
“Hi, Bella. How was your day?”
“It was productive, but predictable until I returned to our rooms and didn’t find you where I left you. May I ask what the bloody hell you were thinking?”
Hermione twitched at the tone, but neither shied away nor backed down. “As I am certain Cissa has told you, I requested my wand to do very simple bathing magic. I took a divine bath and was feeling so good that I thought I would get a little fresh air.” Turning her attention to the blonde she said pointedly, “In Draco’s defence he really did try to stop me. He would have used physical means, but he was afraid to hurt me. And as he tried to determine how to deter me, our Lord appeared and invited me to tea. He never had the opportunity to do as he was told.”
“Miss MacCarthy, I would not concern yourself with how I will deal with my son. I would spend my energy being more concerned about my own situation if I were you.”
“I truly meant no personal offence, Narcissa.”
“No, once again you did not consider what your actions would do to your family,” the blonde responded sharply as she turned on her heel and stormed off.
In her wake, Hermione attempted to control her breathing. The final comment struck a nerve. Intense guilt lapped at her barely healed emotional state. She wasn’t over losing the Granger’s and at times forgot about having a new family that cared for her so fiercely.
The dark witch finally broke the uncomfortable silence, tugging the girl closer to her. “Don’t be overly concerned with her right now. She hasn’t gotten her original apology and will likely be nitpicky until she does.”
Defeatedly Hermione pushed her face into the crook of the pale neck. “Can we please go back to our room? I’m tired.”
Protectively Bellatrix moved her arm around the girl, guiding her through familiar rooms to their private space. They entered and found it blissfully empty of the numerous guests who’d frequented over the last few days. Bella moved automatically to start undressing her fiance, but paused as the girl drew her wand. She watched as an exhausted but competent hand flicked two simple spells removing the day clothes and replacing them with night clothes. The dark witch smiled to herself at the sight of her lover looking so recovered. It was clear the girl was very tired, but pleased to have been out of the room.
The girl looked down at her wand after completing her task before handing it obediently over. Bellatrix smirked at how well trained the girl was. She took the wand and placed it on the night table with her own. It was clear that Hermione was sorry for disappearing all afternoon. In truth, the Black sisters were more annoyed at her absence than worried. Draco obediently waited for their return to inform his mother and aunt of her whereabouts. It was clear Hermione was healed enough to use her wand again. Bella chose not to lock it away again, it was obvious the girl would get what she wanted one way or another. She decided it was a better route to trust the girl and try to keep her from rebelling.
Bella watched the lithe girl climb between the covers before she was offered a small smile. Affectionately, she dropped on the bed beside her.
“Love, would you like to have dinner in bed, just the two of us?”
The girl nodded in response and settled down into the pillows to watch as her lover called and dispatched the elves to bring them suitable fingerfoods. Within a few minutes they returned with two heaping trays of a variety of foods and fruits. The two playfully fed each other, reveling in a simple and normal private moment. After they had their fill, the dark headed witch snuggled into her younger lover’s shoulder.
“What did you discuss with our Lord over tea?”
“He spent time further explaining how I put myself in danger and how the two of you pulled me back.”
“Of course you would want to know the details of the spell,” Bellatrix chuckled darkly and kissed the skin beneath her cheek.
“He thanked me, which was unexpected but touching.”
“You certainly know how to make your mark, little witch. Storming into a battle unannounced and without permission or even letting your lover know, with a new plan. And on top of it you pulled it off. You delivered to him what his Death Eaters could not.”
“When you put it like that, it is suddenly far more exciting that what I remember happening.”
“That couldn’t have taken all afternoon.”
“It didn’t. He also wanted to talk about my future.”
“Oh no, Bella. Not like that. I think he wanted to express his support of your marriage to me. And he had a few suggestions.”
“Did he now? I thought even the most powerful men knew to stay out of the way of the Black women when it comes to marriage.”
“His biggest suggestion was that we do it before July.”
“That means we will need to start planning immediately. There is more to a Black Wedding than a normal magical wedding. And we will need to take into account your family traditions as well,” Bellatrix rattled off, barely pausing. “And you will need to apologize to Cissa, because I cannot stand to plan with her when she is behaving this way.”
“And how would you suggest I go about providing that apology? In the world I grew up in, a handwritten note was about as far as I would have to go. But somehow I sense that wouldn’t be enough for a Black.”
Bellatrix responded at first by lightly laughing, but quickly realized the girl was serious. “No, that would probably only exacerbate the issue. It must be given in person, and I would suggest in private. It's also customary that you offer something you know the other truly desires.”
“Ok. I will give it some thought. But may I ask you something?”
“Of course, my dear. You shouldn’t even need to ask.”
“I know that there are a lot of changes going on this summer with us. But there is one more change I want and I think I will need your support.”
“There isn’t much I can imagine denying you.”
“When Draco and I go back to school, I don’t want to return to Ravenclaw. I will miss the beautiful tower and the common room, but constantly warding and looking over my shoulder is exhausting. I would rather be re-sorted into Slytherin.”
“That is quite the request, little witch.” Hermione started to open her mouth to take it back when a single digit rested on her lips. “Don’t. It’s a large request, but not beyond my capabilities. I will address the topic with Lucius and Severus. Between the three of us, we should be able to make it possible.”
“Then you don’t mind me being in your house?”
“If the Order hadn’t altered your course of life, I have no doubt that is where you would have been placed. They used an extreme amount of magic to place you anywhere but with your fellow snakes. They weren’t quite good enough at it to force you to be a lion. I very much enjoy the idea of seeing you in green and silver. And I will worry significantly less. Your house will stand with you.”
“Thank you, my love. It means a great deal to me.”
“Good. And you will apologize to Cissy?”
“I suppose I can.”
Bellatrix contemplated what she knew the next few days would be like for the young witch. She would be inundated with a dramatic volume of information about the Black family wedding traditions, of which there were many.
“I know you grew up in a very different culture. Is there anything in particular you want in the wedding? That we need to include?”
“I’d never given marriage much thought until the past few days. I’m not entirely sure how to even ask this, but I don’t just want to share your house colors. I’d hoped to return to Hogwarts as a Black.”
Bellatrix abruptly cut off the stumbling speech with a probing kiss. Hermione threaded her fingers through the curls, tugging her lover more securely to her. When breathing became a critical need, the older witch broke away and whispered in a low sensual voice,
“And there I was thinking you were exhausted from the day’s activities.”
“Oh I am, but I was under the impression that our magic interacting was partially responsible for my speedy recovery. And I know for a fact that I am quite magical,” she teased, holding up her hand suggestively.
“That you are my dear. However I am certain that is not the type of magic you discussed with the Dark Lord. And I think you’ve had quite enough excitement for one day. After all, you will need your strength for wedding planning with the Black sisters. I’ve been told we can be rather overwhelming.”
Grumbling under her breath, Hermione settled in comfortably beside Bella, sliding a bare hand just under the hem of her shirt. It rested on the skin of her smooth stomach as it rhythmically rose and fell with each breath, lulling her into a peaceful sleep.