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Apr 16, 2021 6:39 AM
you had me at "let's burn down wizarding britain"
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The newspapers have been bestir - almost afire - with lurid tales of attacks on notable politicians the last few months. Some claim to have discovered a pattern of viciousness going back even further, cloaked until now. It sets an itch under Bellatrix's skin, a fascination curling through her mind.

Dark creatures, they're blaming. A sudden surge across multiple groups. Werewolves tore a Wizengamot member to bloody shreds, shown as a discrete shot of grainy grey splatters on a lighter grey floor in the newspaper. Something drowned and strangled a lobbyist who'd been pushing for more detailed, more stringently enforced registration of 'members of known criminal species;' the newspaper only showed the riverbank where she went in. A vampire supposedly left a paper pusher in the Department for Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures as nothing more than an empty husk that crumbled into dust when touched. More, enough to whip the papers into a frenzy, new material every time the old worries grew stale. A symbol was left at every single crime - a snake curled around a sun, eating it.

And then a month ago -

A letter went out to every newspaper, every tabloid, every gossip rag. A voice took over every radio station, all at once. Smooth. Beautiful. Cultured.

The speaker claimed responsibility for the attacks, called herself the leader of the Final Dawn. A movement, she claimed, to tear out the rot that had seeped to the core of Wizarding society. To build it anew, and bring into the light all hidden things - all crimes, all peoples that the wizards would shove to the edges. She spoke briefly, wonderfully, of freedom, of renewal, of wrongs that must be righted - of justice which would burn its enemies and warm its allies.

Bellatrix's heart hasn't known how to settle since. Everyone's talking about it. Everyone wants to know what she thinks, it seems, the rebellious and disaffected daughter - eldest of her generation - of the Most Noble House of Black, the most respectable members of Wizarding society, the most ardent supporters of human safety, of restrictions on all things dangerous and uncouth.

She's taken to grinning at them and asking what they think will happen. Most of them falter, claim the terrorists will be caught, of course. Executed, them and everyone who supports them.

(Such boring classmates, she has.)

Fay - not Miss Reynolds, pretty Fay who smiles secretly at her, who promised to take Bellatrix on a date the day of her graduation, who said she has a small apartment of her own, and Bellatrix doesn't have to go back to her family's trap before getting her feet under her - she's the only one worth talking to at all, her clever eyes flicking over articles, drawing out patterns idly -

She doesn't find the same points fascinating as Bellatrix does, but, well. She mostly seems somewhat amused that Bellatrix wants to know exactly how each person died. So. Better than anyone else. (And she makes Bellatrix's heart flutter as much as each new report of an attack does, as much as rereading the announcement from the Final Dawn...)

Bellatrix graduates with the rest of her class - top of her class, she has every NEWT and a good number of extra OWLs and it's so hideously boring, magic's fun and delightful but Bellatrix hates being trapped in school for it. The ceremony is labeled as required. There's no punishment she could ever care about - they'll confer her degree anyways - so she skips, grabs Fay by the arm and drags her off with a laugh to some scandalously low brow muggle place, dark and smokey with amazing food, Fay laughing -

Bellatrix hasn't decided for sure to move in with Fay. It's - a big step, and she has enough money from her parents who still haven't disowned her for some reason to exchange it for muggle money and splurge on some ridiculously fancy place Fay recommends. There's three inns in the entirety of Wizarding Britain, all for people with too few connections to stay with a host, and none of them have room service, or glass elevators, or water fixtures, or - anything, Bellatrix is half tempted to empty as much of her family's vaults as she can get away with and run.

Maybe she can get Fay to run with her. The woman's been teacher's assistant for Defense for all of a single year. She can't be that attached.

She's lying in her wonderfully soft bed, figuring out how the television works, when there's a little tap-tap-tap on the glass door to the balcony. Bellatrix levers herself up, groaning, and looks over to see a raven - not a normal mail bird at all, the Ministry can never agree if they're Dark creatures or not -

It's got a letter clutched in its talons and looks kind of annoyed.

Bellatrix raises an eyebrow, sliding out of bed and walking over to open the door. "For me?" she asks, earning herself an unimpressed stink eye.

The raven flaps in, dropping the letter on her desk, and then caws at her. Bellatrix laughs, heading over to the small pile of interesting foods and snacks she got earlier, and says, "Help yourself." She picks up the letter, rubbing the thick parchment between her fingers as the raven helps itself of some snack or another. She opens the flap, pulls out a little card -

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The script is elegant and flawless, ink the color of fresh blood stark against the creamy parchment.

For the attention of Bellatrix Sekhmet, once scion of the Most Noble House of Black, who has claimed her own destiny,

In you I recognize one who is kindred: one who sees the world not as it is, but as it could be. The shackles of the past need bind us no longer when the Final Dawn breaks above the remnants of yesterday. It is therefore with great anticipation I present to you this invitation to dine with me on the morrow's eve, that we might share our visions.

I will await your exclusive arrival at the Riddle House, Little Hangleton, Yorkshire, at eight PM. Send regrets only with the return of the bird.


There is a remarkably detailed sketch in place of a signature. A snake wrapped around a sun, writhing sinuously.
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Oh, it's - pretty.

Bellatrix has never been so immediately enchanted by someone's handwriting before, and the art's lovely.

'Once scion' - that sets a weird feeling in her chest. Almost a glow. She finds herself grinning.

She doesn't have to commit to anything, of course, just. Sharing. Showing up, perhaps for a nice dinner. Risky, maybe, but what fun things aren't?

She'll need a way to Little Hangleton - she's never been, so doesn't have Apparition near, but she can bring a broom to the closest point she's got and have a nice fly over, maybe. Fay knows Bellatrix needs some time alone, so she doesn't have anything to cancel...

"You won't need to wait for a return letter," she tells the bird. "I'm going, of course."

The raven cackles a bit, dropping the wrappers it tore up into her trash, and then heads out with a jaunty caw.

Bellatrix laughs and wonders what she'll wear. Something elegant... Something new. Nothing like her family.

...She has about twenty-four hours to find a nice muggle dress, doesn't she.

Well, maybe she can meet Fay for lunch. Not a date, strictly business. She'll get some teasing about her mystery liaison, but, well, needs must, and Fay doesn't seem the jealous type. (Not that this is anything to be jealous of yet.)

 

At five in the afternoon the next day, Fay helps Bellatrix into her new outfit, courtesy of further drains on daddy dearest's account. Panty hose, smooth and silky - she puts those on herself, teasing Fay about not having gotten quite enough dates yet. Shiny black shoes with a low heel and a little bow on the front. A black dress with a layered, swishy skirt that falls above her knees, and a bodice with black lace and bloody red bursts of color. Hair cut to her shoulders then curled so it frames her face. No jewelry or makeup. Wand holster high up on her thigh, concealed by the skirt's volume.

She gives Fay a kiss on the cheek, laughs at further teasing about mystery dates, and Disillusions herself then Apparates a few dozen miles from Little Hangleton, broom in hand. She has enough time it'll be an idle flight over the countryside, even giving herself enough time to actually find the house. It's a scenic enough route, and Bellatrix approaches what her map is pretty sure is the town soon enough - now to see if she can spot the house without landing first...

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The Riddle House is obvious, the largest in the area, standing lonely atop a hill overlooking the small village below. A sign at the gate confirms its identity.

The gate is rusted and creaky on its hinges, threatening to fall off if jostled too roughly. The grounds and house are similarly run-down and decrepit, overgrown with weeds and ivy climbing unchecked up the gutters.

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Not often used. 'Abandoned spooky house' has a certain aesthetic, though hopefully the inside is a bit nicer. 

She lands near the front door and drops her Disillusionment, leaning her broom against the wall and then stepping inside. 

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The inside is not much nicer, if the drift of leaves by the front door is anything to go by.

But after she enters, there's a soft, sourceless chime and the sconces by one of the interior doors flare to life.

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She hums and walks over. Anything interesting behind the door? 

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A sitting room! It seems to actually be in reasonable condition, shelves of books around the walls, polished hardwood floor, a pair of chairs face to face in front of a fireplace in which a small blaze flickers. The chair she can see is empty, the other has its back to her.

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Oh, books. Automatically good taste, there.

She walks over toward the empty chair, glancing at the hidden one as she goes with a little grin on her lips.

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There is a woman in the chair, pale of face and dark of hair. She wears robes that are close to black, though a shimmer of green can be seen in their depths as the firelight shifts and crackles. Around her shoulders is coiled a slender snake with scales that glitter like sapphires. She has a hand raised to tickle its snout, and it flicks its tongue at Bellatrix as she moves into view.

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...Pretty.

(The only good thing about Slytherin was the snake aesthetic, honestly, and even her Housemates had a distinct lack of appreciation for that.)

"Good evening," she says.

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"Good evening, Bellatrix. Won't you take a seat?"

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She does, sprawling in the chair as improperly as she can while remaining mostly graceful.

"You know, I don't have anything to call you..."

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She smirks, faintly.

"The journalists of Europe had mostly settled on referring to me as the Dark Lady, which is not an epithet I am opposed to."

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"Oh? It does have a certain ring to it. Whatever did you do to earn that?"

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"Oh, this and that. Grindelwald had made me his first lieutenant by the late stages of his war, which was quite an exciting time for... everyone involved."

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She grins, surprised. "Sounds exceptionally exciting."

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"And educational, for all his vision was sadly limited."

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"And your vision's broader?"

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"Beneath his fancy rhetoric, all dear Gellert wanted was to be at the top of the pile. Any systemic reform involved would be entirely incidental."

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"Can't say I've ever wanted anything other than getting out of the pile. On top, on bottom - it's all so ridiculous. You're in the same mess either way."

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She smiles.

"Precisely, Bellatrix. Vampire or werewolf or muggleborn, if one's name is not listed in the so-called Sacred Twenty-Eight, then you will never be respected, even as the noble families themselves wither and die."

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A very pretty smile.

"And you're going to change that."

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"I am. You have already seen the beginnings of the Final Dawn's work." Pause. "I understand you are a fan?"

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"As much as I can be, with how dreadfully little the papers will publish."

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"They have not yet accepted what is inevitable. In time, their shortsightedness will be corrected."

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