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28 December 2009 @ 09:40 pm
Fic: Silene Noctiflora | Bellatrix, Narcissa | Gen (darkfic)  
Title: Silene Noctiflora
Author: diabolica
Characters: Narcissa, Bellatrix
Genre: Darkfic
Summary: Two little pureblood witches go adventuring one dull summer afternoon. What happens when they meet ... a Muggle?
Rating: R for violence
Warnings: Violence against a child. Children perpetrating violence.
Disclaimer: These characters are the property of JK Rowling and her army of licensees. I don’t own them and I’m certainly not making any money from them.
Notes: Originally written for hp_darkfest 2009; my prompt was these three words: metamorphosis, past, table. Much love and gratitude to amylouise09, catsintheattic and paya27, for beta-reading and hand-holding.




Silene Noctiflora


There was a tutor, but the tutor wasn’t there. It was summer, and he was on holiday. He wasn’t a real teacher, Bella said. Not like the professors she had at Hogwarts. But the tutor was always nice to her. He told Mother and Father that she was advanced for her age. He also said Andromeda ‘showed real promise’ in Arithmancy and that I ‘had great aptitude with languages’—I was tops at French and Latin, but Runes were harder. But Bella was his favourite, so it seemed wrong of her to say he wasn’t a real teacher.

Summer was lovely because of the break in lessons and because Bella was home. But it was boring also because Father was ‘very busy’ and always away. Mother had headaches. She ‘retired to her chambers’ a lot. Andromeda always had her head in a book and was all-round no fun. Anyway, she had the violet fever and Mother spent all day looking after her. Bella was mean sometimes, but other times, when I was good, she let me come when she went adventuring and that was super.

It was hot and there was nothing to do. Bella said she was going adventuring. She said I couldn’t come.

‘Why not?’

‘You’re too little.’

‘Am not.’

‘Are too.’

‘I’m eight,’ I said. I wasn’t five and besides, I wasn’t a chicken like Andromeda. When Bella dared us to jump from the first floor landing, Andromeda wouldn’t. But I did, and I wasn’t scared until I was already in the air and falling. But then my magic caught, like a giant cushion under my bottom, and I glided down to the ground floor. It was absolutely super!

Father saw me land, and he told me I was very naughty because Mother was watching. Her face was all scrunched like it gets when she’s about to start shouting. But I knew Father wasn’t angry because he held me tight while he scolded me loud—‘What were you thinking? You could have been hurt!’—and then he whispered, ‘That’s my girl,’ so only I could hear. I knew he was proud. Then he scolded Bella because he knew it wasn’t my idea to jump in the first place, even though I didn’t tell like Andromeda would have done. Bella pinched me for it later. Her nails left a pink-red crescent moon on the inside of my left arm. Whenever I looked at it I thought, I have magic.

Bella said, ‘No. Under no circumstances,’ using her grown-up voice. She sounded just like Mother.

‘I can help.’

‘You don’t even know what I’m going to do.’

‘So? You might need help.’

Bella’s face changed. Her mouth pulled to one side and her eyebrows came together. She was thinking it over. We were down by the Outbuildings. They used to be grandfather Pollux’s greenhouses, but no one had used them in ages and ages. Mother said they were 'derelict' and should be pulled down. I thought they were lovely. There were all sorts of strange plants left running wild in there. It was always a laugh to go in and see what was happening.

I could tell by Bella’s mouth, how it pinched and curled, that she might say yes. I hid my excitement. If she knew I really wanted to go, she’d say no just for spite.

‘All right,’ Bella said, all slow. ‘You can come. But!’ She raised a finger, like the tutor does when he wants to ‘impress the importance of the subject’ on us. Yawn. Anyway, Bella said, ‘But!’

Still I kept quiet because I really wanted to go.

‘You have to do exactly as I say.’

I knew she was going to say that. But I didn’t tell her.

‘All right,’ I said. That was easier than I thought.

Exactly,’ Bella said again. ‘If you don’t, you can go right back home.’

‘All right.’

‘Do you swear?’

‘Yes.’

‘Solemnly swear?’

‘I do.’ We shook hands, so she knew I was serious.

‘Take off your robes,’ said Bella.

That was odd. ‘Why?’ I asked. I wondered if we were going swimming. There was a pond at the other end of the grounds. Father said a sea monster lived in it, but he always said that in the way that we’re supposed to know he’s joking. At least, I thought so.

‘You can do exactly as I say, or you can stay here.’

I took off my robes and Bella took off hers. We stood there in our summer dresses for a moment, then she said, ‘Follow me.’

I followed her. I didn’t say anything even though I was dying to know what we were doing. Bella didn’t go down towards the pond. Instead she just walked round the greenhouses until she stood in front of the hedge border. The greenhouses blocked our view of the house. I’d never gone around them before. Bella stood there like she could see something. I squinted at the leaves.

‘Do you see it?’ she asked.

‘What?’

‘Put your hand here.’ She took my wrist and put my hand on the hedge. She ran my hand over the magical barrier that protects us from the Muggles. It felt cool and solid, smooth under my palm, not prickly like you might expect from just looking at the hedge. It didn’t have a colour. You couldn’t see it just by looking.

Then I felt it, like a hole in the barrier, and my fingers touched the hedge itself. She moved my hand down over the leaves so I felt the size of the hole, big enough for a person to climb through.

‘What is that?’ I asked. I felt scared. If there was a hole in the barrier, did that mean ... ?

‘It’s a doorway,’ said Bella. ‘And we’re going to use it.’

‘You mean ... go out?’ This wasn’t at all what I thought we’d be doing.

‘That’s precisely what I mean,’ Bella said in her grown-up voice.

‘Are you daft?’ I asked. ‘There are Muggles out there!’ Muggles hated wizards. Everyone knew that.

Bella rolled her eyes at me. ‘You’re staying here.’

‘No, no. I want to come.’ I didn’t want Bella thinking me a baby. I wanted her to think I’m brave like her. Also, I didn’t want my sister going out to face the Muggles alone.

‘Are you going to do as I say?’

‘Yes, I am. I will. I swear.’ I nodded really fast so she’d believe me.

‘All right. Come on.’ She passed through the barrier, pulling the hedge apart as she went, then she held it open for me. My heart was going boomboomboom, I was so scared, but I didn’t say so.

But on the other side, it was just a big open field. There were no Muggles anywhere, so I felt safer. I looked around. There were buildings on the other side, little miniature houses. Was that where the Muggles lived? I turned back. The neat, trimmed hedge border was gone. Except I knew it must be there because we’d just come through it. From this side it looked like a tangle of wild weeds as tall as Father, at least.

‘How will we get back through?’ I asked.

Bella gave me The Look, all pursed lips and narrowed eyes, like she thought I was being thick.

‘I’m just asking.’

‘Like this,’ said Bella. She picked up what looked like a brick and set it down in front of the tangle of weeds that was the doorway. ‘Follow me,’ she said again. Bossy.

The field was also full of weeds, but there was a kind of path where the weeds were trampled down. It was hard to see, but Bella walked like she knew where it led.

‘Have you done this before?’ I asked.

‘Loads of times,’ she said.

I stopped walking. ‘You have?’

She turned around. ‘Yes.’

I had an awful thought. ‘Have you seen a Muggle?’

‘Lots of them.’

I said, ‘Merlin’s beard, Bella!’ Then I clapped my hand over my mouth, because I’m not supposed to swear. But Bella didn’t scold me. ‘What did you do?’ I asked.

‘Nothing. If you’re going to keep asking questions, you can go home.’ She turned back and kept walking.

I looked back at the hedge barrier, then looked around to see if I could see any Muggles. The sky was darkening, like it might rain. Maybe Muggles didn’t like the rain?

Bella was heading towards a stand of trees on the edge of the field. I didn’t want to be alone out here.

‘Sorry,’ I told Bella’s back and I followed, holding in all my questions.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


There was a boy, except he wasn’t a boy.

‘That’s a Muggle,’ whispered Bella. She pointed towards him, on the other side of the field. He was walking, like he was following a path. We stayed in among the trees where he couldn’t see us, crouched down in the grass.

‘How do you know?’ I asked, because he looked just like a normal boy to me, except dressed funny. He didn’t wear robes. He wore funny blue trousers and what looked like a tunic with an opening in the front.

‘Look at him,’ said Bella. ‘How could he possibly be a wizard?’

I didn’t understand what she meant. Other than the clothes, he didn’t seem odd to me. If he was just wearing proper clothing, he would look like one of the Flint boys. Cassius maybe. He had the same blond hair.

The Muggle turned and began walking towards us. ‘He’s coming this way!’ I said because I couldn’t help myself. What if he saw us?

‘I know,’ Bella said. She didn’t seem worried, so I tried to act like her. My head was spinning. How would we escape if he saw us? I could be fast when I wanted. I would just run back to the hedge border and hope I could get through the doorway before he saw how I did it. He didn’t know there was anything on the other side. I hoped.

He was still walking towards us. I got ready to run. Any second, I was sure Bella would grab me and start running—she wouldn’t leave me behind, would she?—but she stayed absolutely still and didn’t say anything.

‘What—’ I began, but Bella shushed me before I could finish. Are we doing? I said with no voice. The Muggle was coming straight at us and I didn’t want him to hear. Bella stood up.

‘Bella, he’ll see you!’

‘Shut it.’

The boy had already seen her. He stopped walking. He was still kind of far away. He stopped short and looked at Bella. Bella looked down and said, ‘Get up, Cissy.’

I stood up, even though I didn’t want to, because standing up meant he would see me too. The boy looked over at us, but he didn’t say anything. He stood where he was and looked down into the weeds at his feet. I didn’t know what he was looking at, but in a minute he bent down and came back up with a stick. He started hitting at the weeds in the field, but he didn’t come any closer.

‘Are we going to run now?’ I asked.

‘No, silly. You’re going to talk to him.’

‘What?!’ I felt my eyes go all big. ‘I can’t do that.’

‘Why not?’

How could Bella not know the answer to that? ‘He’s a Muggle.’

‘Dare you.’

‘Bella!’

‘Are you chicken?’

I said, ‘No,’ because the answer to Are you chicken? is always, always No. But I really was scared.

‘Then go talk to him.’

‘What should I say?’ I asked, trying to be brave, and also because I couldn’t think of what to say to a Muggle.

‘Ask if he wants to play with us.’

‘You want to play with a Muggle?’ That didn’t make any sense at all. I waited for Bella to explain.

‘Do as I say, Cissy. Or do you want to go home? Alone.’

I breathed out loud, through my nose, and scratched my neck. I didn’t want to go home alone with a Muggle in the field and maybe other Muggles around. I wasn’t sure I could find the brick that marked the doorway. We had walked really far and I looked around, trying to remember which way we came. My nose prickled. I was scared I might cry if Bella kept looking at me like that, so I turned back towards the Muggle, like I was really going to go talk to him. Except I couldn’t look at him, so I looked at the ground instead, just facing the direction I knew he was standing. I took three steps towards him so Bella would think I was going to do it.

‘What if he hits me with that stick?’ I asked. Mother would be furious at him, I thought, and that made me feel a little better. But she’d be furious at me, too, for being where a Muggle could hit me with a stick, so I stopped.

Bella said, ‘I’ve got my wand. Don’t worry.’

I took another couple of steps towards the Muggle, who had stopped slashing at the weeds and was looking at us like he was wondering what we were doing.

‘Wait.’ I stopped. I moved in place from one foot to the other. ‘Do Muggles speak English?’

‘’Course,’ Bella said. ‘It’s England, isn’t it?’ But she didn’t look at all sure.

‘But—’

‘Are you going to do it or not, chicken?’

I turned around, because I couldn’t not. I looked full on at the Muggle then and he smiled. He didn’t look so scary when he smiled. If I didn’t think he’s a Muggle, it seemed easier to walk up to him, so I didn’t think he’s a Muggle. I thought, He’s just Cassius Flint, that’s all. I just walked up. Then I opened my mouth and I couldn’t talk.

‘Hi,’ he said.

‘Hello,’ I said, because Mother said it was proper to say hello when you meet a stranger.

‘Hello?’ he said, drawing out the ‘o’ sound, and laughed. But it wasn’t a mean laugh. It just sounded like he’d never heard anyone say ‘hello’ before. ‘Aren’t you posh?’

I didn’t know what he meant, so I said what I came to say. ‘Do you want to play with us?’ Except it came out all run-together, because I talk fast when I’m nervous and I had never felt more nervous, ever.

‘Okay. Is that your friend?’ he asked, gesturing at Bella with his stick.

‘She’s my sister, actually.’

‘Oh is she, actually?’ He put his hands on his hips and his nose in the air, like he thought I was being snooty, except I wasn’t. She was my sister. What else was I supposed to say?

‘Yes, actually,’ I said, and then he was laughing and I laughed too. It was easier than I thought.

He slashed at the weeds again, knocking little white flower buds off the furry stems. Then he dropped the stick and looked at the sky. ‘Okay,’ he said, ‘but if it starts to rain, I have to go home.’

I nodded and turned to go back to where Bella was standing.

The Muggle walked next to me. ‘What’s your name?’ he asked.

‘Cissy. That’s Bella,’ I said and pointed at Bella.

‘I’ve never seen you around before. Where do you live?’

‘Black Manor,’ I answered.

‘What’s that? Is it a new estate?’

I didn’t know what he meant, but then Bella was there and the Muggle said, ‘I’ve seen you before.’

Bella ignored him and said, ‘Follow me,’ so I followed and the Muggle came after.

‘Where are we going?’ he asked.

‘Do you want to see where we live?’ said Bella.

‘I guess. Is it far?’

‘Not far at all.’ Bella sounded calm, but I looked, and her hands were shaking. Or one of them was—her free hand. I could see the end of her wand in the palm of her right hand, most of it hidden up the sleeve of her dress. I wondered if she felt nervous, like I did when I first met the Muggle. When I talked to him, he seemed a normal boy, so I wasn’t nervous anymore. We skirted the field and Bella didn’t say much.

I saw the brick then, and Bella said, ‘You want to see?’

‘See what?’ asked the Muggle. He looked at the high tangle of weeds and then at Bella like he thought she was daft. I smiled, because I knew what was on the other side and he didn’t.

‘Go on through, Cissy,’ said Bella.

‘Look,’ I said to the boy. ‘It’s easy.’ And I climbed through the doorway. I held the hedge open on the other side. A minute later, the boy climbed through as well and looked up at the old greenhouses.

‘What is this place?’ he asked. His eyes got big and his shoulders drew together. He looked uneasy and excited all at once.

‘It’s where we live,’ I said.

‘You live here?’ he asked, pointing at the falling down Outbuildings.

I laughed—who would think that?—and said, ‘No, silly. We live in the house round the other side.’

And then Bella came through.

‘Petrificus Totalus!’

The Muggle stopped in mid-step and fell down, like he had been leaning against a wall and suddenly the wall wasn’t there anymore. It was kind of funny, like the moving pictures in one of my books. He would probably be cross when Bella lifted the spell, though. It must have hurt to hit the ground like that.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


There was a table in the old greenhouse.

Bella levitated the boy through the door. He was still Petrified, suspended in the air. I giggled because he looked so funny, one leg up like he was taking a step and his arms out, but his feet were six inches off the floor. I could see scratches on his cheek where he’d hit the ground. I wondered what he would tell his mother about it when he got home. Maybe Bella could heal it before he left. It seemed like she should do, after Petrifying him. I opened my mouth to ask. Bella held her hand up and I knew to snap my mouth shut.

The old greenhouse had glass walls and a glass ceiling. It was full of still-growing things that climbed the walls and blocked the light. The sun still came in through the ceiling. The light was low and greenish-brown because no one had cleaned the glass in so long. We weren’t supposed to be in here. Mother said it was dangerous. Father said it wasn’t so. When Mother said he ought to 'pull the damn things down'—she doesn’t let us say ‘damn’ so I don’t know why she does—Father always said, ‘Yes, dear.’ But they were still here, full of half-rotted plants that didn’t really hurt you. There were broken pots spilling soil and bits of wood and patches of drying fertilizer. It had a peculiar smell, like a potions laboratory mixed with still pond water and the garden in autumn.

Bella said, ‘Well, Cissy ... what should we do with it?’ She meant the Muggle. She didn’t look at me when she spoke. She had her wand out and was looking at him hard, like she was concentrating on keeping him in the air.

‘I don’t know.’ I shrugged. I thought she had a plan.

‘Touch him.’

I looked at her. I wanted to ask Why? but I didn’t say anything.

‘Go on.’

Feeling shy—who wanted to touch a boy?—I put my hand out and touched his arm. It was just like touching my own arm, or Bella’s, cloth and skin under my hand—but hard, like all the muscles under the skin had turned to stone.

‘Try pushing,’ said Bella. I pushed with one hand, but he didn’t move. Bella giggled. I put both hands on his chest and pushed hard. He drifted a little. Bella smiled and levitated him back into place.

‘Hit him.’

I looked at her, but again I didn’t ask why. I slapped his arm with the flat of my hand.

‘Ow!’ I shook my hand. It was like hitting a gargoyle. ‘That hurt.’

‘It doesn’t even react,’ said Bella. Her voice was quiet and the words came slowly. She was right, of course. He was Petrified, so there was nothing he could do.

Bella levitated the Muggle onto the table, moving him so he was lying down on it.

Bella stood at the end of the table. Her head was cocked to one side. She had that look on her face that she always had at the ice cream parlour when she was trying to decide what flavour she wanted. I could tell she wanted me to look at her because her eyes kept looking at me and then looking away, even though her face was still turned towards the boy. His eyes were wide. He didn’t even blink. She stood like that so long I got bored.

There was a huge tangle of vines in the back corner. Andromeda tried to tell me it was Devil’s Snare, but I knew it was really Flitterbloom because I paid attention when the tutor gave us Herbology lessons. I wasn’t stupid. I knew the Latin names of a hundred plants, at least. Still, I approached it slowly and watched for sudden movement in the vines.

‘Finite Incantatem,’ said Bella. Her voice was loud behind me. I jumped.

When I turned, the boy’s raised arm and leg had dropped to the table. He moved slowly, like he didn’t remember how, then he started to sit up. ‘What was that?’ he asked. I had forgotten he could talk.

From the way he looked at her, I could tell that if Bella said she was just having a laugh, the boy would nod and say okay and they’d be friends. Bella always got what she wanted.

Bella said, ‘Incarcerous,’ and suddenly there were ropes winding around the boy’s arms at one end and around the table legs at the other. They pulled him back down, flat against the table.

‘What are you doing?’ he wailed.

‘Incarcerous,’ Bella said again, and this time ropes wound around the Muggle’s legs.

He shouted, ‘What—Let me go!’ His voice sounded loud in the quiet greenhouse. He sounded scared, and angry too.

‘Oh, this won’t do,’ Bella said. ‘Silencio.’

The Muggle’s lips kept moving, but no sound came out. His face was all red, sweaty. He pulled at the ropes, shook his head from side to side, but the ropes didn’t move. He couldn’t get up. I stayed very still. The greenhouse was hot. The air was damp and close.

‘Cissy, come here.’

I walked over.

Bella still had her wand pointed at the boy. She said, ‘Check to make sure the ropes are tight.’

I checked. They were. The Muggle looked at me while I checked, but I didn’t look at him.

‘Okay, back away now,’ said Bella.

Bella reached into the pocket of her dress. When she looked up, she had a knife.

‘Where did you get that?’ I asked.

‘Nicked it.’

‘You stole it?’ She would be in so much trouble for that. ‘From where?’

Bella gave me The Look again. Then she said, ‘Uncle Orion’s laboratory, of course.’

‘Bella!’

‘Oh, don’t be such a goody-goody.’

‘What are you going to do?’ I asked.

I was standing on one side of the table, facing the door to the outside. Bella stood on the other side with the knife in her hand. The Muggle boy squirmed on the table between us. His mouth was moving. I could tell he wanted to talk, but Bella had taken away his voice. I didn’t want to look at him. There was a funny feeling in my tummy, like I got when I was about to be sick.

Bella said, ‘I’m going to see how filthy his blood really is.’

I stepped back. The boy on the table was trying to shrink back, away from Bella and the knife, but the ropes wouldn’t let him. He was crying without any sound. I realised he could hear us. He understood. I didn’t want Bella to cut him, but I couldn’t say so. She’d call me a chicken.

Bella rolled his sleeve up, but his arm kept twitching. ‘Tell him to hold still, Cissy.’

‘Hold still,’ I told the Muggle. Why couldn’t Bella just tell him herself? Didn’t she think he could hear us?

But he wouldn’t hold still. Bella sighed and pushed his shirt up so we could see his thin white belly. Still he was twitching, like he wanted to get away from her.

‘If you don’t stop moving, I’ll Petrify you again,’ Bella said. She was talking to the Muggle, but she didn’t look at his face. ‘Do you want that?’

I looked at him sideways without moving my head, just my eyes. He shook his head. Even though Bella had made him quiet, I could hear him sniffling and breathing hard. He was scared. But there was nothing he could do.

Even though Bella said she would Petrify him again if he kept moving, the Muggle sucked in his tummy and squirmed. Bella didn’t stop. She made a cut on his belly, enough to make a line of blood appear. I could see she was trying to move the knife in a slow, straight line. Her knuckles were white around the knife’s handle. But the boy kept moving.

Then Bella said ‘Damn!’ and the knife swerved to the side. Bella stood up straight and shoved her wand under the boy’s chin. ‘Didn’t I tell you to hold still?’ she asked. She didn’t shout, but I knew she was really mad. The Muggle looked at her eyes. He was so quiet, like he was holding his breath. Then, very slowly, he nodded.

Suddenly there was a lot of blood. Bella bent down close to study it. I didn’t know what to do, so I bent down too.

His blood was red. I had expected another colour, brown maybe. But it looked like my blood when I cut myself. Bella poked at it with a finger, then straightened up and held her finger up to the light. It made me think of Uncle Orion and his long lectures about the ‘science of potion-making’. The way she was concentrating on her finger, Bella looked almost like a scientist too. I didn’t know what she could see. The light wasn’t very good.

There was a scraping noise. It was the boy’s shoe. The rope had come loose from one of his legs and he tried to kick out at Bella. But she was standing too far up for him to move his leg that way, and he didn’t even touch her. Bella shot a dirty glare at him, then raised her wand and said, ‘Incarcerous’ again. The rope tightened and pulled his leg back down to the table. Bella picked up the knife and drove it into the boy’s leg.

His head came up off the table. His arms and legs pulled at the ropes, his mouth open like he was screaming. It looked like he was trying to curl up into a ball, like Andromeda did when she fell that time in the library, but the ropes wouldn’t let him. There was no sound except his breathing. I heard him breathe in and then out again. His eyes were closed tight and there were tears running down the side of his face. I backed away.

Bella pulled the knife out and raised it again.

‘Bella, stop! You’re hurting him.’

Bella looked at me but didn’t lower the knife. She looked different somehow, changed. She was still Bella but her eyes were strange. Like another person was looking out at me through them.

‘That’s the point, Cissy.’

My back bumped up against a shelf. I heard a shower of soil falling to the ground behind me. I shivered. I looked at the silent, screaming boy and back at Bella.

‘Oh, for Merlin’s sake,’ said Bella. ‘If you haven’t the stomach, you can just leave.’

She was mad with me, I could tell. I didn’t want her to be, but I didn’t want to stay either. My eyes were stinging. I didn’t know what to do.

The boy’s head was back on the table. He was shaking, and his hands were twitching like they wanted to reach for his injured leg, but they were stuck. There was blood on the table. I could smell it, like warm coins and salt, mixed up with dead plants and moist air. Bella looked at the boy, then at me. She lowered the knife.

‘You look upset, Cissy.’

Bella sounded like she was worried about me. I blinked. The sick feeling in my tummy wouldn’t go away. I looked at the floor under the table because I couldn’t look at the boy.

‘Are you upset because I’ve hurt it?’

I looked up at Bella. She looked like herself again, which made me feel better, a little. I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t.

‘It’s just a dumb animal, Cissy.’

I nodded. I knew that. He was a Muggle. Muggles hated wizards.

‘I know. What if we did a memory charm? Like Mother did on Andromeda when she broke her wrist? That way, it won’t even remember today.’

I lifted my chin. Things that hurt didn’t hurt so much after a while. Once Andromeda fell off a ladder in the library. She cried and cried. She said Bella had made her do it, but no one could see how. Mother gave her some Skele-Gro and used a memory charm afterwards. It made Andromeda stop crying. I wasn’t supposed to know that. I thought hard. Bella had hurt the boy, but if he didn’t remember, would it be so bad?

‘All right,’ I said. My voice sounded tiny, even to me.

‘We’ll just do a memory charm, and then we’ll take it back out to the field and it’ll go home. No one will know.’

I wondered how he’d explain the scratches and the cut and his leg. But I didn’t ask. It would make Bella mad.

Bella held up her wand like she was preparing to cast a spell. Then she stopped and said, ‘You know, Cissy, you’ve been pretty good today. You did what I told you, mostly. Would you like to cast the charm?’

She held out her wand to me. I couldn’t believe it.

‘You’d let me use your wand?’ I had begged Bella for a go with her wand since she got it, but she had never, ever let me touch it.

‘Sure,’ she said. ‘Do you know the spell?’

I nodded. ‘Oblivisci!’ I said it clearly. I knew my pronunciation was good because I was tops at Latin.

‘Here you go,’ said Bella. And she handed me her wand: walnut and dragon heartstring. I knew because I wanted the same kind. The magic of it vibrated softly in my palm. I felt like a powerful witch.

‘Now, all you have to do is point it at his head and say the incantation.’

‘That’s it?’ I asked. I remembered you were supposed to concentrate on what you wanted to achieve with a spell.

‘That’s it,’ Bella said. She nodded at me. ‘Go on.’

I had never performed a spell with a wand before. I was nervous. I felt my hand shake a little bit and I tried to steady it. I concentrated. Then I aimed the wand at the boy’s head like Bella said to do and said the incantation.

At first, I wasn’t sure it had worked because he seemed to still be screaming. But then he slumped against the table. His eyes were closed. I moved closer. Had the charm made him go to sleep? A moment later he opened his eyes, and I got that sick feeling again. He was looking right at me, but it was like he couldn’t see me. His face looked like a house with no light in the windows.

I turned to give Bella back her wand, even though I wanted to hold it a little bit longer. I opened my mouth to ask if she thought it had worked. Then someone said, ‘Girls?’

Father was standing in the doorway to the greenhouse.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


There was a man in Father’s study. I listened hard. It was the tutor. They were talking about the Howler Father got from the Ministry.

I had heard the Howler—everyone heard the Howler. It said, ‘Muggle-worthy excuses doesn't begin to cover it, Cygnus!’ Then it said something about the Statute of Secrecy and brain damage. I was pretty sure the Howler was about the Muggle boy, but when I tried to ask Bella, she just shrugged.

‘Who cares?’ she had said. ‘You can’t be dragged in front of the Wizengamot until you’re at least fourteen.’

I got scared then. But she wouldn’t talk about it anymore. No one would talk about it, and I couldn't ask. I was worried. That was why I listened.

The tutor said he’d help. ‘It’s all right, Mr Black, really. He’s just full of hot air.’

Father sighed. ‘All this talk about the Wizengamot makes me nervous. I don’t want something like this to affect my girls’—’

When Father said ‘Wizengamot’, I felt cold and prickly. I didn’t want to go to the Wizengamot.

‘It won’t,’ the tutor said. ‘They're good girls, I know. They’re too young to be dragged before the Wizengamot, and my father knows it.’

Father said, ‘I’ve already spoken to them about it. I can certainly assure him that nothing like this will ever happen again. What else is there to do?’

That wasn’t true, though. Father hadn’t spoken to us. He had just healed the Muggle boy. Then he asked where we had found him and took him away. He hadn’t spoken to either me or Bella for three days. The doorway in the hedge barrier had been closed. The door to the old greenhouses wouldn’t open anymore.

The tutor said, ‘As far as I can tell, that boy was trespassing on your property. The girls were within their right to defend themselves, in my opinion. I’ll vouch for them. He’ll drop the matter, I’m sure. He just has to make his point so the Muggle-lovers at the Ministry don’t raise a fuss.’

Father made a snorting noise. ‘I don’t envy him, having to deal with them all the time. I’ll owl him when you’ve had a chance to speak with him. It’ll be fine, I’m sure.’

‘It will,’ said the tutor. ‘Muggles let their children run riot; things happen. There’s no reason for the Ministry to get involved any further. My father’s just put out because of the paperwork. I’ll talk to him. No need to worry, sir.’

Father said, ‘Thank you, Rodolphus. I appreciate it.’

I heard footsteps then, like someone was about to leave the room, so I ran to Mother’s sitting room and closed the door. Bella was in there, listening at the door that connected Mother’s sitting room to Father’s study. When she saw me, she smiled. That other thing was there, behind her eyes.

‘You’ve been listening to their conversation, haven’t you?’ Bella asked.

‘So’ve you,’ I said.

Bella laughed.

I traced a line between the floorboards with my toe. I asked, ‘Are we in trouble?’

‘’Course not. It was just a Muggle, Cissy. Anyway even if we were, Mr Lestrange will fix it. Or didn’t you hear that part?’

I just looked at her. She knew I had heard.

I wanted to ask if she knew what had happened to the Muggle. Then I decided I’d better not. Bella would think I was being a baby.



Endnote: Silene noctiflora is the Latin name for night-flowering catchfly, a noxious weed once common in Britain that traps insects in its sticky hairs, not because it needs them for food (like the venus flytrap), but because that’s just what it does.
 
 
 
V: Neville Hermione Kissvane_nt on December 29th, 2009 02:48 pm (UTC)
Diabólica, your fic has been recced at Harry Potter Fanfiction Recs. :-)
stormtrooper in stilettos: Bella - Prodigious Skilldiabolica on December 29th, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! What a lovely rec. Much appreciated.
Anna: Lestranges-OotPannuscka on December 29th, 2009 11:13 pm (UTC)
Eeep. That was disturbing. In a well-written way.

"Muggles hated wizards. Everyone knew that."
Of course they do. Sigh. That's almost beautiful in its horrible simplicity. I love all the nods to how young Cissy is, it seems very real.

I've often tried to imagine writing something like this, but can't seem to stomach thinking up what exactly to write - to think what exactly someone like Bella would have been capable of as a child. It's really impressive that you got this done - that sounds WAY strange as a compliment, but I think you know how I mean ;)

Hee at the tutor, of course. =P
stormtrooper in stilettos: Bella - Prodigious Skilldiabolica on December 30th, 2009 10:00 am (UTC)
Thank you for commenting, darling!

This was my Darkfest fic (remember how I panicked and asked the flist for brainstorming help?), so it was meant to be disturbing. I toyed with the idea of adult!Cissy narrating what she remembered of the incident, but ultimately decided it would be much darker from a child's perspective. It was hell to get started because the idea scared me. Even knowing what had to happen, it took weeks to write beyond the first scene because I wasn't ready to handle the darkness. So at least this stretched my boundaries as a writer.

Glad you liked the tutor! ;) I felt it was horribly skeevy, but also rather fitting in this context.

*hugs*
Annaannuscka on December 30th, 2009 10:23 am (UTC)
Oh yes, I remember, and I can see why! It is really scary to do stuff like this - I get freaked out only by reading accounts of crimes committed by kids so writing them myself - woo. Stretching boundaries is a v. good thing though! And the result very impressive.

Hee, I long had a plot bunny with Rodolphus as a DADA teacher - always thought he'd be good at it...
stormtrooper in stilettos: Bella - Prodigious Skilldiabolica on December 30th, 2009 10:34 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! I read several accounts of crimes by children to research this fic. Terrifying. *shudders* I'm happy to hear the result rings true, though.

Rodolphus as a DADA professor? WIN! He'd probably be very good at that--living with Bella would have provided plenty of practice, anyway. ;)
Annaannuscka on December 30th, 2009 10:44 am (UTC)
Indeed - it's unbelievable what actually does happen.

Hee, I know, right? I kept that bunny along for a long time, but I think the timeline's killed it now. Pity! If he just were a bit older - he'd have to be around 20 or something to be able to teach any of the Gang, a bit older for MWPP. But I liked it a lot, yes =D

BTW, I was writing an e-mail to you last night (will probably finish it in, err, three weeks or something, as usual) - but one thing hit me. I might be the last on earth to realise this but when, in GOF, LV says that the Lestranges will "be awarded beyond their wildest dreams" - might he be meaning the Horcrux then? Because I'm pretty sure it'd qualify...
Feather Quill: DH Molly pwns pufffeatherxquill on July 25th, 2010 05:13 am (UTC)
Oh wow, this is absolutely chilling, and wonderfully done. I think what makes it really creepy is the understated way it is told, because to Narcissa, even though she is reluctant, it still is 'just a Muggle'. Ans the way we know there won't be any repercussions there - that wealth and power and the general attitude at the Ministry means that this isn't considered too horrible a thing at all. Wow. Your Bella is terrifying, and Narcissa's voice is perfect.
stormtrooper in stilettos: Bella - Prodigious Skilldiabolica on July 26th, 2010 11:57 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for this very thoughtful comment! That's precisely what I was going for: chilling, creepy, dark (as this fic was written for hp_darkfest). Your comment made me feel I told the story well.
Jessica Williamsjess_williams on December 12th, 2010 02:13 am (UTC)
This was definitely dark. It was interesting to see that Bellatrix was like this even as a child. And even more interesting to see that Narcissa had gotten briefly mixed up in it. I really felt bad for Narcissa, because her voice is just so innocent here; and when she's watching her own sister hurt someone, she really does come off as confused. The bits about him being "just a Muggle" really did make me stare for a moment like "Wow...no conscience. At all."

Excellent work.
stormtrooper in stilettos: Bella - Prodigious Skilldiabolica on December 12th, 2010 09:38 am (UTC)
Thank you! This fic came out of a discussion with my flist about how Bella was probably born the way she is, and I could all too easily see how her family would cover up for her. But when we meet Narcissa in canon, we know she has a conscience and a strong sense of family loyalty, so I wanted to see how an interaction between the sisters as children would play out. I'm very pleased to have received this comment.
Jessica Williamsjess_williams on December 12th, 2010 08:26 pm (UTC)
You did an excellent job. I definitely can see Bella being born as such, and Azkaban only bringing out the insanity more. It was really good to see the sisters as children.