7 June: A Warm Up Who: Bellatrix Lestrange and Sirius Black What: Patented Black family bitchiness, an unwelcome revelation Where: The Three Broomsticks When: Friday, 7 June 2019, morning Warnings: Prejudice against werewolves, muggleborns, vague threats of killing said people and also a baby (Harry). Also a curse!
The early was not Sirius’s preferred shift. For one thing, it involved a lot of set-up, and organization had never been his strong-suit. For another, it also involved a longer period of solo work than he relished; Sirius had never been great at hanging out on his own, and generally when closing down the pub after the late night shift a regular or two hung around, whereas at this time of the day the doors were closed and no one typically tried to come in until they opened.
Still, working normal hours was a nice change once in a while, usually once a week or if he absolutely couldn’t get a full moon off and had to switch to daytime hours, and he wasn’t too bothered by any of it to whistle while he worked. He’d taken all the chairs down in the main part of the pub and was behind the bar now, checking his supplies and making sure everything was filled and ready to go.
He barely heard the noise that made him look up, and without his time in the Order under his belt he likely wouldn’t have looked up at all, unbothered by a tiny creak that he might easily have imagined under all his humming. Paranoia, however, served one well when one fought Death Eaters, and so he did stop what he was doing and glance toward the door, wand sliding into his hand below the bar where, if a particular enterprisingly stubborn patron had managed to find their way in early, they wouldn’t see it. No one liked their barkeep paranoid and threatening them and Sirius preferred to keep his persona at work charmingly jovial when at all possible.
The rat hadn’t been a particularly good play thing. Rodolphus found him useful, but for Bellatrix he just spoiled all the fun. This meant she had to go find her own, and fun that didn’t break ickle promises she made to Cissy. Revenge being a dish best served cold was for other people. And if she needed a target, Sirius Black was far too easy to corner semi-alone in public.
“What not happy to see me, cousin?” Bellatrix walked into the pub, not bothered by the fact they were still technically closed and took a seat at the bar. “I’ve decided to indulge my curiosity and see how the filth live.” She leaned on top, resting her chin on her hand. All things considered harmless, at least at first look.
At the sight of Bellatrix, Sirius stiffened, grip tightening on his wand. Whatever he might have been expecting, this certainly wasn’t it. And of course she would have been counting on that. Damn. Really, he ought to be hexing her now, but this was a public business and she wasn’t a known criminal whatever he’d said to Frank and the DMLE. Attacking her ‘unprovoked’ would have been inviting trouble for everyone.
Though really, her presence was provocation enough.
“Filthily and with pride,” he said, sketching the sort of polite bow he’d been taught during some of his least favourite childhood lessons without taking his eyes off of her. Even bristling with defensive bravado, he wasn’t that stupid. “And I don’t think I’ve been happy to see you once in my life, cousin. But you know that.”
If she could use the word as a weapon, so could he. Merlin knew that the Blacks weren’t any happier being related to him than he was them.
“Ah yes, the great fable of the mangy mutt who thinks he’s found happiness. Strange how fleeting that can be.” Bellatrix sized him up, taking in the grip of his wand, the choice of clothes, and even the blemishes on his skin. All the while her hands were visible, her posture relaxed. He was ready to battle, she just came here to exchange a few pleasantries. She could be calm. (Or perhaps she wanted to tenderize her meat before she ate it.) “Now, now, which of them did you let mark you? Not the beast, I hope. You have already brought such disgrace to your mother.”
At her words, Sirius went very, very still. It was an unnatural state of affairs to say the least; usually he was all movement, kinetic energy galloping from every pore, but now-
He might have let the 'mangy mutt' bit pass him by with nothing more than private amusement; it wouldn't have been the first time a purist had called him a mongrel and hit the mark closer than they knew.
'Beast,' though. 'Beast.'
"What are you on about?" He asked, trying to cover his shock and horror, but his voice sounded funny even to himself. She would know. But then, his poker face had never held when he was angry, and fear always manifested itself first as fury, for him. He tried again. "Give me a hint, please, you know I'm always looking for ways to disgrace Mummy dearest."
She smiled, twisted and wide. “Now, now, cousin, stupid has never been a good look on you. You do have your pride.” This was just delightful now. Bellatrix just delighted in watching him react, or really try not to react. Tempting as it was to hold her silence, and let this go on a bit longer, but this was just meant be an appetizer before the main course. “It’s bad enough you’re already a blood traitor, but now you’ve taken up with a monster.” She could say it, but she knew the power of naming things.
“Unless I’m off the mark entirely and this about that Potter fellow. At least he’s of better standing. Although we would have to do something about that mudblood wench of his, and their vile child as well.” Bellatrix nearly gagged over the words. “I would be happy to take of them for you. Help you on a path to redemption. For all your bad decisions and present company, your blood is still pure.”
“The only monsters I’ve met in my life are the ones who’d threaten a baby over his parentage,” Sirius snarled, unable to help the snap of fury. He’d heard the old family threaten the new any number of times, and he’d built up something of an immunity to it, or at least an outward appearance of immunity, but usually he wasn’t dealing with the strong implication that Bellatrix Black knew about Moony (and, no doubt, Padfoot and the rest as well; that she would have found out about the werewolf through means that didn’t know about the dog and yet just so happened to call him a mutt in the same breath beggared belief.) “But it’s sweet that you miss me so much, Bella. Maybe it’s you longing for redemption, huh? Or maybe you’re just projecting. Merlin knows you’re fond of monsters, between your husband and old Voldie.”
He was flicking his wand in a warding pattern as he said it, ready to voice the spell if he needed to. His cousin had always been at least as volatile as he was himself and he doubted she’d like her Lord insulted.
And all the while, his mind was racing. How much did she know about them? Maybe she didn’t know which of them was the werewolf (not that this was much better, a tiny voice in his mind reminded him, only it was, anything was better than her having something on Remus, anything,) but she knew it wasn’t James. Unless she was just guessing. He couldn’t twitch, couldn’t give her more than he’d already shown about all that. Damn it, damn the way his feelings invariably showed on his face when they were anger or hurt or fear.
Bellatrix laughed. “You’ll be wise to watch your manners.” She still didn’t reach for her wand. He could start his little dance. Although she did place her hands flat on the bar, a step closer to engaging. “The future is coming. The mudbloods, mindless beasts, and mongrels who love them will be the first to go. If you’re nice it might even be quick for them.”
If Bellatrix expected that to make Sirius flinch- the words or the approach- she'd be disappointed. He stared at her a minute, and then snorted, throwing in a roll of his eyes for good measure.
"Yeah, yeah. Been hearing that one for years. And all you've managed is a dead 'lord' and a really ugly tattoo. Who's going to make your grand future happen now, Bella? You? if Voldemort wasn't enough, you're not. You're infantry. A really useful attack dog."
Oh he was going to pay for that. But in a subtle way. She reached over the bar to pick up a handful of ice. Blood was always better, but she would so hate for him to figure this out easily. “Now, now, only one of us a dog here.” Bellatrix held it in her hand, allowing it to melt, so that she might trace shapes - runes - on the bartop. All that boring research had learned her a few new tricks. “So it seems only fitting you’ve tied yourself to that werewolf Lupin.”
Sirius was watching Bellatrix’s hands carefully, though he suspected whatever she was doing was meant to distract him from something else or maybe to merely confuse him. Still. His so-called cousin was dangerous and he hadn’t survived sixteen years of being a Black and the next five as a blood traitor by not being aware that he might be hexed at any moment.
In spite of those truths, when the word ‘werewolf’ tripped past Bellatrix’s lips Sirius’s eyes flashed up to her face, his expression flickering for a moment between horror and fury He’d been half-pretending that she’d just been making lucky guesses, picking random slurs that hit too close to home only in his own mind because the idea of her getting anything at all on his Moony was one of his nightmares and he was reasonably paranoid about it. There was no pretending now, though. She knew. How did she-
The answer was as immediate as it was obvious, and it made him want to scream, because it was his fault, only he couldn’t do that now, he couldn’t, he couldn’t let her see how deeply she could hurt him with this or she’d be sure to do it.
Not that it mattered. If she knew, the Death Eaters all knew, and they were so fucked, so very fucked, Merlin-
Nope, Padfoot. Still not the time. Sirius shored himself up as best he can, forcing the old familiar mask of bored scorn that he’d been wearing around his family whenever he could for years over his expression. “So purism isn’t the only fairy tale you’re telling yourself these days. Would that make it easier for you? If my friends weren’t actually people at all? Huh. I wouldn’t think you’d like to imagine I chose monsters over Blacks, paints you all in an even worse light than everything else, but whatever gets you through the misery I suppose.”
It made him physically nauseated to imply that a werewolf wasn’t a person, but he’d atone for it later (along with everything else.) For now, doing what he could to make her doubt what she knew was all he could do.
Except kill her. Maybe he’d try to kill her and damn the consequences.
Delightful as it was to watch him squirm, there was opportunity. And time aplenty to finish the curse. “Well, if you like monsters so much…” And she was fast. She had long since trained her reactions in battle, this was easy. A crack and a little spell to bring him closer. Bellatrix was already at the ready to grab his wrist and wrestle his palm into the water marking. “Then you’ll like this.”
Sirius jerked back, instinctive, but not hard or fast enough to avoid Bellatrix’s spell or her hand. As soon as she’d let go of him he yanked his hand back, but it was wet.
“What the fuck?” he demanded, sharp and a little shaky as he wiped his hand on his shirt to dry it. “What the hell was that?”
Bellatrix stood up, opening the space between them. “Consider it a housewarming.” And truly should couldn’t have timed it better as she heard the door opening behind her. “But I’ll leave you to your ever important work. Toodles!”
“I haven’t moved house, Bella!” Sirius yelled after her, an admittedly pathetic parting sally but the best he could come up with under the circumstances. Well, the best that didn’t involve things you didn’t say in front of a customer. Even a regular customer, like old Bothan was; the halfblood knew enough to do a double-take at Bellatrix as she brushed by him and then look back to Sirius, brow furrowed.
“All right, laddie?”
Nodding, Sirius poured out the man’s usual pint and sat it on the bar. “On the house. I’ve just got to-” he gestured vaguely, and the other wizard nodded; that was enough permission for Sirius to all-but run for the back room and his Wizphone. He didn’t much care whatever his cousin had or hadn’t done to him just now, but the others had to know that she knew and they had to know now.