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Vixen (alyxbradford) (24 July)
bonfire rose
alyxbradford wrote in 30_hath
Title: Vixen
Author: alyxbradford
House: Slytherin
Date/Challenge: 24 July – o, when she is angry she is keen and shrewd
Character/Pairing: Bellatrix, Narcissa, Rodolphus, OC female (Elyse Eldridge)
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1287

A tinkling chime of laughter rang through the common room, causing Bellatrix's fingers to clench and crush the parchment between them.

Narcissa flicked pale eyes up from her reading. "Just ignore them, Bella," she offered quietly, sensitive as she ever was to her sister's meteorological mood changes.

"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about," Bellatrix said, or rather growled in reply, as tension had over-tightened her jaw. Forcing her fingers to unclench, she tried to smooth out the crinkled paper, succeeding until another airy twitter reached her ears, this time accompanied by a low, warm, masculine rumble. Bellatrix tapped her hard fingernails against the lacquered table surface in a quick, agitated rhythm, unable to focus on her work.

"Just don't get caught," Narcissa said, her soft voice carrying over from her armchair. Bellatrix would have sworn she had learned a charm to make her voice heard only to one person; Narcissa never got eavesdropped on, whereas Bellatrix was constantly discovering someone her words were unintended for had picked them up.

"What?" she snapped, her irritation bleeding out at the nearest source.

But it didn't faze Narcissa, who at fourteen was far too used to Bellatrix misdirecting her anger. "You're thinking of hurting her," she said, evenly. "Just don't get caught. The Quidditch game last week put us in a nice lead. It wouldn't do to lose the advantage for Lestrange's sake."

"It's nothing to do with him!" Bellatrix snarled. All the response she got was one slender arched eyebrow -- not enough provocation to warrant venting her fury on her sister. Deprived of that opportunity to lance her boiling temper, she continued to simmer, putting all her effort into not looking over at the corner where Rodolphus Lestrange was flirting with Elyse Eldridge.

Elyse was very pretty. Bellatrix hated her for that. With every other girl, she could pluck out faults and expose them to a magnifying light, and thus assert her superiority. Demetria Wilkes was flat-chested as a boy, Clio Eversleigh had a squashed pug face, Lesair Rookwood was decidedly pudgy, and Alseia Greengrass had tight, pinched features. But Elyse was a natural English flower, without flaw. Not that Bellatrix considered she herself had any, but her beauty was dark, exotic, wild, and utterly untamed. Elyse was modeled perfection, sunlight spun into a bright, glassy prism. Her complexion was without blemish, warm and creamy with posy blushes in her cheeks; though Bellatrix's was equally smooth, it was naturally dusky and deepened further from too many hours spent outside. Elyse was taller than Bellatrix, slender and willowy where Bella boasted voluptuous curves. Her honey-coloured hair she charmed every morning to be smooth and sleek, gleaming and never a lock out of place; Bellatrix's sable curls were riotous, a cascade that she rarely bothered to channel. Elyse's eyes were an incomparable azure-blue that made Narcissa's look watery and pale in comparison, tinted mirrors in which men saw themselves heroically reflected; Bellatrix's night-deep orbs drowned them. For all of that, Bellatrix certainly felt no inferiority to the chit, but the worst that she could come up with to say about her appearance was that Elyse's was a very ordinary sort of exquisite beauty.

It didn't help matters that Elyse was possessed of a gentle, sweet, accommodating nature. Bellatrix's chief rival Demetria was nearly as capricious as Bella herself, one moment a lovely nymphish maid, the next a sharp, snapping harpy. But Elyse never lost her temper, never let stormclouds dim her features. She never even took on Narcissa's glacial defense, which could sting quite deeply when the youngest and usually least dangerous Black so chose. The young men found Elyse a respite from the occasional (or, in Bellatrix's case, near-constant) shifting moods of the other girls. Rodolphus particularly had developed an unsettling tendency to drift to Elyse after every tiff with Bellatrix.

Bella's only real advantage that she could press was that Elyse was pretty, but without much substance. Though intelligent enough to get by, and not half as dim-witted as most of the boys their age, Elyse was neither creative nor clever, capable of remembering and parroting facts, but not managing to show any real ingenuity. Somehow, though, that didn't help Bellatrix's attitude towards her. It galled to have someone lovely but vapid preferred over herself, equally attractive but with real personality.

She was pretty, kind, friendly, and unassuming, and Bellatrix hated her.

A third warbling giggle was too much for Bellatrix to endure. Pounding her open hand flat on the table, she twisted around to look at Elyse and Rodolphus, insinuated far too near each other next to the tapestry of Medea poisoning Glauce's robe. She couldn't help the art putting ideas in her head. "Would you mind awfully keeping it down?" she barked, eyes narrowed in their direction. "Some of us are trying to work."

Elyse's rosebud lips fell open, and she looked on the verge of apologising, but Rodolphus spoke first, an amused smirk creeping over his face. Behind her, Bellatrix heard Narcissa sigh, recognising as Bella did but would not acknowledge that her temper had once again led her astray. "What's the matter, Black?" Rodolphus sneered. "It's only all right for you to be the one causing a scene in the common room?" His eyes, nearly as dark as her own, glittered with victory. "If you want to make a spectacle of yourself like usual, I'm sure Holgrave or Flint would be happy to oblige. I'm enjoying my conversation with Miss Eldridge."

Before Narcissa could do a thing to stop her, Bellatrix had swept her papers and books to the floor in a tempestuous fit, and was on her feet, red-cheeked and fire-eyed. Narcissa almost breathed a sigh of relief when she realised Bellatrix was headed for the door, but then, with the lightning speed she'd been getting better and better at lately, Bella's hand whipped her wand from its sheath and send a crackling yellow bolt in Elyse's direction. It knocked her off her feet, sizzling sparks in the roots of her hair and burning patterned lines over her skin. Several people leapt up to her aid, while Bellatrix stormed straight out of the common room.

She went outside, unsure whether or not to hope there was no one there who would provoke her into getting herself in more trouble. Maybe there would be some younger Hufflepuff who would be too terrified to tattle on her. She had the feeling she would need to completely indulge this particularly fury; if she didn't spend all of it, it would only fester and keep her in an ill temper for days.

The grounds, though, were deserted. Small wonder, given that the temperature over the last few weeks had been steadily dropping. Bellatrix realised belatedly she had not come out prepared for the late November chill. Hugging her arms to herself, she dropped sulkily into a bench just outside the castle walls, pretending not to notice the goosebumps raised on her legs.

A few minutes later, Bellatrix heard footsteps crunching the grass, and whirled around, ready to draw her wand again if the need arose. But it was only Narcissa, well-bundled up against the cold, with Bellatrix's ebony fur-trimmed cloak gathered in her arms. "You never remember this," she said, coming closer and handing the garment to her sister. "It isn't always summer, you know."

Rather than standing and draping it over her shoulders, Bellatrix spread the cloak over her like a blanket, the edge caught in her fists and brought up under her chin. Narcissa didn't speak. She always knew when not to speak. But she sat down, silently, beside her sister, a quiet presence Bellatrix would never admit to being comforted by.

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Lovely. I like the way you've portrayed Bella. ^_^
(oh, and watch the tense at the end)

Eek! Thanks for that -- this is why I shouldn't jump back and forth between writing projects. ;)

I like the sisterly interactions, but best of all, I like Bellatrix's unquenchable temper, even in school.

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