Steam poured from the top of the scarlet engine, its shrill whistle calling the last of the stragglers to board before it left the platform. Shouts and yells of promises to write and last minute
instructions passed between hassled parents and students eager to be on their way. Underneath the hustle and bustle, the monotonous hum of countless conversations swept through
the crowded train like the murmuring of the sea in the early part of the morning or late in the evening when there are no visitors to disturb it.
Bellatrix located a deserted compartment and slipped inside, shutting the door before anyone could work up the stupidity to attempt to join her. With a weary sigh, she set her suitcase
on the rack above her head and sank into one of the seats, deliberately avoiding looking out the window, though she was fairly certain her mother had moved on to making sure Narcissa
was taken care of by now.
The topic of her youngest daughter's first year at Hogwarts had been a source of pride for the elder Black woman for many, long weeks at the closing point of the summer. Bellatrix's
entrance into her final year at the famous school was almost entirely overlooked, a fact that the eldest daughter was immensely grateful for, as she planned to leave the Black household
as soon as possible. Her inheritance could wait. Indeed, the only time the issue had come up, it was always inevitably followed with plans for Bellatrix's arranged marriage to Rodolphus
Lestrange, the epitome of an arrogant, blundering idiot.
As these thoughts flickered through her mind, the young man in question appeared as if on cue, throwing open the compartment door as if he owned it and smirking down at her. "Well if
it isn't my little Bella!" he drawled, idly fingering his wand as he gazed down at her. "How've you been, Bell? I swear, I haven't heard from you all summer. Finally over that dreadful cough
that kept you from coming to the family gatherings?"
Bellatrix didn't bother to look at him as she replied frostily, "Quite over it, thank you." Lestrange completely missed the hint and simply leaned against the doorframe as he talked. "It's
your sister's first year, right? Andromeda, isn't it?" Bellatrix resisted the urge to make a sardonic reply, instead saying lightly, "Narcissa. Andromeda is the middle child. She's a fourth
Rodolphus nodded to himself, not really paying attention as he didn't particularly care about the subject at hand anyway, having only used it as an excuse to get Bellatrix talking. "Right,
right, Narcissa," he murmured. "So, Bell," he didn't notice Bellatrix's jaw tightening at the use of her despised nickname, "I was thinking, a few of us are having a little back to school party
Bellatrix finally had had enough. "Is there really a point to your visit, Lestrange?" she snapped, turning to glare at him. Taken aback, Rodolphus stammered, "I…uh…I…" Bellatrix continued,
"Because if there isn't, I would appreciate you leaving my compartment."
Lestrange's eyes narrowed. "Whatever, Ice Queen," he growled, moving away and slamming the door shut as he left.
Breathing hard, Bellatrix turned her gaze back to the window, letting the blur of scenery clear her mind. Several minutes passed before the door opened behind her once more, quietly this
time. The girl's hand reached for her wand as she turned around. "I thought I told you to…oh…" She trailed off as she realized that the person she was addressing was anyone but
Rodolphus Lestrange. Instead, a young, twenty something year old witch with silky, pale blonde hair watched her with the faintest amusement. "Getting into trouble already, Cher?" she
inquired haughtily, a smirk twitching at the corners of her mouth.
Bellatrix grimaced and lowered her wand. "I thought you were someone else. I apologize Miss…?" "Brightmore, Diana Brightmore," the young witch said loftily. "And clearly you thought I
was someone else. Otherwise you would not have had the audacity to threaten a member of my family. We are in high standing in both England and France thanks to my father."
Bellatrix raised an eyebrow. "Aren't you a little old to be attending Hogwarts, Miss Brightmore?" Diana smirked once more, her eyes lit up by a mischievous light. "Of course I am, which is
why I am teaching," she replied. Bellatrix resisted the urge to groan in despair, opting instead to turn her face into a mask of arrogance. "Then I would suggest you get to know your
students better. For example, a nouveau riche like yourself should realize when you are addressing your superiors."
Diana nodded her head thoughtfully, scrutinizing the girl in front of her. "Then I take it you are a Black? Your features betray you." Bellatrix inclined her head slightly in a mocking manner.
"Oh, very good," she sneered. "You do have some sense."
Her new teacher studied her curiously. "Then may I take a seat, Miss Black? I am afraid I was forced to resort to taking the train, and there do not appear to be any other available
compartments. Bellatrix started, not having anticipated this. Quickly hiding her surprise she replied in a bored tone, "If you must." Diana moved into the small room, setting her luggage on
one of the racks and taking the seat opposite Bellatrix. "You are most kind," she responded before redirecting her attention to a book.
Her silence made the girl uneasy at first, but after a while, she decided it was hardly an inconvenience to give up her solitude if her companion was content to read rather than attempting
to make petty small talk with her new student. Turning her gaze once more to the window, she let her mind wander.
Several hours later, the crimson train pulled to a stop at the foot of a steep hill, at the summit of which perched a grand castle, illuminated by an array of gleaming lights. Without waiting
for the new professor, Bellatrix quickly grabbed her trunk and moved out onto the busy platform. Leaving her belongings with the other students' where the house elves would bring them
up to her room, she took her seat in one of the carriages.
It had been somewhat of a shock in her second year to spot the coaches being pulled by grim skeletal horses, red eyes staring out into the black night. However, she had quickly learned
not to mention them as it only earned her strange looks from her classmates who couldn't figure out what she was talking about.
Offering up silent thanks when the only other passengers turned out to be a few third year Ravenclaws who paid her no attention as they chatted with each other, Bellatrix watched the
approaching castle grow larger as the carriages moved swiftly and silently up the hill.
To no one's surprise, Narcissa was promptly sorted into Slytherin where she took her place amidst the cheering students, a self satisfied grin on her face. When the last of the first years
had been placed in their respective houses, Professor Dumbledore took his place at the front of the Great Hall to make his beginning of the year speech. It didn't last long, the only new
topic being the introduction of their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, the woman Bellatrix had met on the train. Before too long, the young witches and wizards found
themselves digging into a magnificent feast.
Bellatrix was quiet, pointedly ignoring the glares the Lestrange brothers were shooting her, grateful that she had picked a seat far away from them. Once dinner was over, the mass of
scholars started to drift out of the giant room, heading up the numerous flights of shifting staircases to their dorms.
As she exited the Great Hall, she spotted Rodolphus and his gang of Slytherins hanging out on the steps of one of the staircases. Her hand moving unconsciously to her wand, she slowed
her pace, letting the crowd of students pass in front of her as she slipped away down a side corridor.
The light was dimmer here, the only source of illumination coming from the torches placed every twenty feet or so. Her feet made little to no noise as she crept down the hallway, a
testimony to the amount of time she spent eavesdropping on conversations she wasn't supposed to hear. After only a minute or so, the sounds of the rest of the student body had
dropped to a dull hum and then disappeared completely behind the thick stone walls of the ancient castle. Bellatrix stopped at last, realizing that she was near the Defense Against the
Dark Arts classroom.
Frowning slightly, she glanced at the partially open door. She didn't even remember heading this way; she had been too distracted by that idiot Lestrange. As if some unseen entity had
read her thoughts, the sound of voices suddenly reached her ears. Muttering a curse under her breath, she yanked the door open and slipped inside. It wasn't a moment too soon. A few
seconds later, a group of seventh year Slytherins passed by, making far more noise than was necessary. Through the crack in the door that she was peering through, she spotted
Rodolphus at their head. Next to him, Lucius Malfoy grumbled, "I don't see why it matters so much."
Lestrange glared at him. "She owes me an apology!"
Lucius snickered, "It'll be a cold day in hell when Bella apologizes to anyone, much less you."
There was a slight scuffle as Rodolphus lunged at him, not even bothering to draw his wand. Without so much as flinching, Lucius casually flicked his own wand, sending a curse at his
attacker. Lestrange was thrown back against the wall as the spell hit him. Sighing, Malfoy stated, "Try that again, and you won't get off so easy next time." Growling out something
unintelligible, Rodolphus clambered to his feet, stomping off down the hallway with the other students in tow.
Bellatrix smirked, stepping away from the door. However, she froze as a voice asked lightly from behind her, "Was there something you needed, Ms. Black?"
Spinning around, Bellatrix noticed for the first time that the room wasn't as deserted as she had previously thought. Professor Brightmore stood at the far side of the room, nonchalantly
using magic to unpack some books from her trunk. She ceased this action for a moment as she watched the girl, one eyebrow raised in amusement.
Straightening her shoulders, Bellatrix replied haughtily, "It is none of your business."
Her professor smiled faintly. "But I think it is, seeing as you are in my classroom."
The girl grimaced a little, recognizing defeat. "If you must know, I was…avoiding certain…acquaintances…of mine."
Professor Brightmore glanced idly at the door. "Mr. Rodolphus Lestrange, I presume?" she asked in a mild tone.
Bellatrix simply scowled at her feet by way of an answer. After a moment, the older woman shrugged unconcernedly. "Fair enough," she conceded, turning her back to the girl as she
moved to place a few books on a shelf.
Bellatrix took the opportunity to look around the room. Several strange contraptions, some of which appeared slightly dangerous, filled the classroom, reminding her vaguely of
Dumbledore's office. Turning her gaze to the desk, she noticed a fairly nondescript, leather bound book resting halfway under of a stack of papers, only its corner exposed. Shooting a
swift look at Professor Brightmore, who was still preoccupied with unpacking, she silently picked up the object, opening it to the first page.
It seemed to be some kind of journal. She frowned thoughtfully, noticing a stamp identifying it as having been bought from a Muggle shop. Wondering why a pureblood witch would have
set foot in a Muggle location, she gently flipped through the pages, keeping one eye on her teacher. All of the sheets were blank, despite the date on the stamp revealing the diary to
have been bought several years before. Oddly enough, even though there was nothing written on it, she detected a faint magical trace about it. Resolving to investigate further, she
tucked it inside her robe just as Professor Brightmore turned to face her once more. "Now, is there anything I can help you with?" she inquired.
Bellatrix shook her head quickly. "No, I'll just be…heading to my dorm…Goodnight, Professor." Without waiting for the woman to respond, she turned and hurried out of the classroom.
Brightmore's brow knit together thoughtfully as she left. With a sigh, she decided that pondering the girl's strange behavior could wait until she was finished organizing her room.
Author's Note: The reason Bella can see the Thestrals is because she saw her father die.