Still nothing gruesome here. Yet. Sigh. It's taking it's time to warm up. But no warnings for now.
It was two years before Bella saw him again.
Two years, almost to the day.
For it was two years later that her younger sister, Andromeda, was to leave for Hogwarts and once more her parents threw a lush celebration.
Once more, the crème of wizarding society was in attendance, and once more Bella watched as, nearing midnight, a stir went through the crowd followed by a rippling and a parting of the throng of people.
There he stood at the foot of the stairs and it just so happened that when the crowd parted for him like the sea before God, the path they created led straight to her.
Once more she met his blood-red eyes, and once more she froze, captivated by the Power she saw there.
Then she was broken from her trance by her sister, shuddering beside her.
“Merlin,” Andi whispered, “those eyes are enough to give me a fright.”
Frowning, Bella tore her gaze away from the figure that had so transfixed her and stared at her sister.
“Be a Black, “ she hissed.
Always before it had been her father saying that, and generally not to Andromenda. After all, as eldest, it was Bella’s job to take the place of the son he never had and uphold the family name. It conveyed all the weigh of history, all the importance of their family since the murky beginnings of their society on these damp shores. All the fire and passion passed from generation to generation, and the lust for power that went with it.
Andi’s lips tightened at the rebuke, but she stood a bit straighter as their father approached them escorting his honored guest.
“My lord,” he said, nodding once more with deference as he had two years before. “My two oldest daughters. This is Andromeda,“ he said, nodding to Andi, who curtseyed prettily, “and perhaps you remember Bellatrix from two years ago.”
“Indeed,” Voldemort said, his eyes moving from girl to girl and coming to rest on Bella, much to her pleasure. “Your father speaks highly of your skill, Bellatrix. You do your House proud.”
Her breath caught at the praise, and her curtsey deepened.
“Thank you, my Lord. It is an honor to have been Sorted into Slytherin, as my ancestors were before me.”
“Indeed,” he said again, his nose flaring as though he had caught a scent although Bella had no idea what he would be scenting here over the beeswax and the perfume. “It is good to see that some teach their children the proper respect towards tradition and history in a time when acceptance seems to be the driving motive of so many. You have done well, Cygnus.”
Bella could see her father was pleased at his Lord’s praise of her answer in a way that he’d never seemed pleased by anything she’d done before.
But He was not finished yet.
“She’s young yet,” he said, eyeing Bella carefully. “But passionate. Yes, Cygnus, I believe she will do. You have served me well, Cygnus. I can use this one for my next attempt. “
Cygnus seemed shocked by this announcement, and for a moment stood there, his jaw working but no sound coming out. Finally, he shut it with a snap, teeth clicking.
“As my lord commands,” he said humbly.
Bella frowned. She had no idea what was going on, but she could tell that her father was on the verge of open rebellion over it, at least for a moment.
Then she saw something she hadn’t expected to see in a million years: her father’s shoulders slumping with defeat.
Lord Voldemort saw it, too, and once more he smiled.
If she were older, that smile might have frightened her. It wasn’t the smile of a man pleased with his servant, and for all that Cygnus Black was an Aristocrat, he was clearly subservient to his Lord. No… that was the smile of a man who enjoyed his power over those around him.
But she wasn’t older. All she knew was that Lord Voldemort, a name that was coming to mean something in the halls of dear old Hogwarts, had chosen her for his next attempt. At what, she didn’t know. But it didn’t matter. He’d remembered her and chosen her.
This time, when he turned and walked away, politely stopping to converse with the other guests as though he were the host and this was his party, she stood staring at his back.
She was his chosen.
Her elation at being his chosen carried Bella through the rest of the party, through the train ride to school the next day, and even through the first part of the term.
She went through her classes smiling, occasionally daydreaming, but rarely being disciplined for her inattentiveness.
After all, she was his chosen. Who would dare to discipline her? And even if she wasn’t, she was the eldest of the Black daughters. Her family was wealthy and powerful and not an enemy to court. The only professors who scowled at her new levels of flightiness were the ramrod up her arse Transfiguration Professor who was head of Gryffindor and the Half-Breed Charms Professor. Neither of their opinions counted to Bella, and so when they became too tiresome, she gave them a look. If others found it odd that a student could silence a professor with a cold-blooded and uncaring stare, then they said nothing.
After all, she was his chosen.
Finally, the term ended and Bella found herself ensconced in a compartment on the train with the small entourage she’d collected made up of her fellow Slytherin third years and a few of the older boys whose fathers had probably instructed them to court her. She didn’t mind, as it meant she rarely had to do her homework, giving her more time to daydream about him.
When the train arrived, she disembarked and went to find her sister Andromeda, who was jumping up and down with excitement and already nattering on at their mother about what she’d seen and learned and done over the last few months.
Narcissa, always quiet, looked like a silent ice princess, pale and glowing in the weak winter sunlight, such a contrast to her sisters.
“Cissy,” Bella said, kissing her cheek and hugging her youngest sister.
“Bella,” she answered, kissing her sister back, her small fingers gripping her sister’s hand tightly.
Then she turned and greeted her father, noticing a tightness in his shoulders and a pain in his eyes she hadn’t seen before. “Papa,” she said, kissing his cheek.
“Bella,” he said, hugging her tightly.
Bella frowned at that. She didn’t think he’d ever hugged her before, much less tightly.
Stepping back, she gave him a quizzical look, but he didn’t answer, merely nodded his head at Andi and helped her mother into the car that was waiting at the curb for them.
The break continued to pass, and Bella thought no more of her father’s increasingly odd behavior.
Christmas Eve, their mother tucked them in, kissing their foreheads and telling them that the morning would bring surprises and that they were having their cousins over for Christmas Dinner and wasn’t that exciting (secretly, Bella was dismayed at the thought, but tried not to let on since they were, in fact, family).
The candle was snuffed, the room was dark, and Bella settled in to sleep.
She had just begun to drift off when the door to her bedchamber opened and, oddly, admitted her father.
Frowning, she sat up in bed, clutching the sheet to her chest. “Papa?” she asked, confused in the dark. He’d never come here before, disdaining all the girlish frippery her mother had insisted adorn her room
“Bella. It’s time. Get up,” he said, holding out her velvet traveling cloak.
The words were a spur to the side, although for a moment she just stared.
“Time?” she asked, her heart pounding in her chest.
“Don’t ask questions, girl,” her father hissed. “I said to get up. He wants you, and you won’t keep Him waiting.”
Bella needed no further prompting, she scooted from the bed, looking for her wand so that she could dress.
“No time for that. Put on the cloak. The rest doesn’t matter, anyway,” he said harshly.
Bella didn’t have a chance to wonder what he meant by that. Her father dropped the heavy cloak over her shoulders and grabbed her arm, Apparating them… away.