She’d always been fascinated by fire. As a small child, her first sign of magic was when she set Cissy’s teddy bear on fire. Bella had been jealous of the bear, which had been charmed to sing a lullaby that had always been her favorite. She’d been four at the time and Cissy not yet two. She’d forgotten her jealousy about the toy as she’d watched it set ablaze. The flames were beautiful. Red, orange, and hints of yellow. She’d touched. It had never been a conscious choice. She’d been drawn and had to feel it, to touch, to be consumed. The flames had lapped at her skin, warm and calming.
She was starting her third year at Hogwarts when she acquired a new obsession. Drawn to the flames, her gaze had instantly found the first year who stood out amongst her peers. Tall and skinny, pale and confident. Bella had been intrigued by the fire in her eyes as she’d waited for her turn to be sorted with an aura of confidence and maturity that none of the other firsties seemed to possess.
It was a disappointment when she heard the flame’s name. Evans, Lily. Halfblood, at least. Possibly even a Muggleborn. Bella’s lips curled in distaste as the girl, the Mudblood, she decided, was sorted into Gryffindor. Her amusement over her cousin’s earlier sorting was forgotten as she watched the girl - Evans, Lily - walk boldly to the table and sit down as if she belonged there.
It had never been a conscious choice. Hair the color of fire, deep red with shades of orange and yellow, skin as pale as the flower from which she was named, and an arrogance that drew Bella‘s attention from across the room. She’d always been fascinated by fire.
Predictable little Mudblood. Every Tuesday, library after dinner until curfew. Every Thursday, tutoring after her last class. Every Saturday, reading beneath the tree by the lake unless it was too cold, then it was the window seat in the third east wing of the third floor. With every passing year, there were variations, of course. Bella had watched her - Evans, Lily - for four years. She was always very subtle, of course. There were always eyes watching, Slytherins and Ravenclaws who would notice the slightest lingering look or preoccupation. When she was around others in a position to be observed, she paid the Gryffindor no notice, but she was still always aware of the redhead regardless.
That Potter bloke watched her, too. Shaggy hair and lazy grin, best friend to her wretched younger cousin. It was pathetic, a Pureblood lusting for a Mudblood, and she hated him more with every passing day. Particularly when she noticed Evans, Lily looking at him when he wasn’t paying attention. This was her last year at Hogwarts, and no one had ever dared accuse Bella of not going after what she wanted. If she couldn’t have it, she took it or she destroyed it. Sometimes, she did both.
Saturday. Grass still damp with morning dew. The scent of flowers thick in the air. Words of protest caught by demanding lips. Eyes wide and curious, no fear in their green depths. The book dropped to the ground as fingers tangled in Bella’s long hair. No thoughts of Potter now; not as those soft hands moved beneath Bella’s robe to touch and explore.
Control was elusive, both seeking, neither obtaining. Warm skin against soft hands.
Clothes were pulled away, lips kissed, teeth bit, bruises were made. Bella marked her, scratched and squeezed, touched the flames, let them consume her. Cries and moans, fingers thrust, wet with sex and sweat and dew, coppery taste of blood on her tongue as she bit hard. She felt the ground hard beneath her back, dirt and grass in her hair, slim fingers moving inside her as teeth bit and lips sucked.
It was not a conscious choice. She felt the flames lap at her skin, warm and dangerous, green staring at her with intensity. Bella fell, clutched at the air around her, fought it every step of the way, but she still fell. Lips met, rough and fighting, neither wanted to surrender. After, she dressed and walked away, never once looked back.
She watched Potter and smiled smugly, knew she’d had something he’d never have regardless of whether the little Mudblood whore let him into her knickers or not. Bella laughed to herself and watched Evans, Lily turn her head. Their gazes met, and a challenging smile was shared. Then she looked away. Until the next Saturday when she found herself by the lake once again. She’d always been fascinated by fire.
The Mark burned on her skin. Even when He wasn’t calling, she could feel the warm flames nip at her skin. It branded her, claimed her as His just as the heavy ring on her finger declared her a Lestrange. She found it amusing, their need to mark her, as if these brands could contain her or somehow made her theirs. She was loyal to her Lord, had willingly offered herself to his cause, enjoyed the torture and screams. Her husband gave her what she needed, what she craved. She did not love him anymore than he loved her, but there was something to be said for hate and passion.
She was not theirs, of course. Her Lord had her soul and her husband had her body, but neither would ever have her mind. That she guarded carefully, secrets kept even when her Lord probed her mind to learn everything that lurked in the dark corners. She saw the announcement in the paper, black and white words joined together to taunt her about Evans, Lily becoming his. Potter was a fool. His precious Lily with hair of flames and skin of flowers would never belong to him. Bella had claimed her years ago.
Clandestine meetings. Both knew they were on opposite sides, both were aware of the danger, neither could stay away. They both felt it, excitement and arousal because it was so wrong. Playing with fire, burned at first touch, lips and hands, moans and screams. Bella watched her body grow fat with child, his baby, and she dreamed of plunging her favorite blade into her belly and removing his hold over her. Rings and marks were easily ignored, a child was worse than a noose slowly being tied around Evans, Lily’s graceful neck.
Red hair on white sheets. Body changed, round and plump, breasts bigger, nipples wet with milk, brat child sleeping quietly as its mother writhed beneath Bella’s tongue. She marked, bit and scratched, fooled herself into believing the marks remained once she had left the dirty room where they met. She was hers, not his. Never his. The brat child liked her, always a smile and odd sound of greeting. Shame in Evans, Lily’s eyes and pink cheeks as she brought her own baby with her for these meetings. Spread her legs and play with the ginger curls between them, so wet and ready, coming apart around Bella’s fingers and tongue.
Months pass. The world is tilted and rough, dead lie in streets, screams are becoming normal. On this afternoon, stolen moment in time, brat child sleeping peacefully as its mother begged for more. Gazes met, silence stretched, and they both knew. Years of stolen encounters flashed in her mind. She could kill her now. Could kill her and take the brat child to her Lord. Could leave Potter with the knowledge that his precious Lily had always been hers. Instead, she played with fire and closed her eyes. Let herself get burned one last time. When it was over, only one of them would be alive. Or perhaps neither.
It happened two days later. Red hair, flames in her eyes as she stood between Him and her brat child. Bella longed to move forward, to touch the fire, but she stayed in the shadows, a smug smile on her lips as she remembered Potter’s look of shock as he fell to the ground. Green eyes, a gaze that looked directly at her as the room was flooded by bright light. Bella’s world went green and she watched her fall. Her Lord was gone, the brat child was still alive, and the fire was dead.
Her cell is cold, lit with a blue haze that has become her world. She’s lost track of her days. Time is irrelevant between these four stone walls. Days, weeks, months, years. It doesn’t matter here. Her skin is white, thinly stretched across bones that are still strong. She looks at it and thinks of lilies. She remembers warmth, soft caresses, heated breath, moans and whimpers, the taste of sex and desire. The Mark is silent, but there are times it still burns. She closes her eyes and remembers, things she has hidden for years, secrets that are between her and the dead, and she smiles.
Her laughter echoes in the cell as she ignores the cold and remembers the flames lapping at her body, the heat and rush of power, the taste and smell. It’s something they can never take from her, that she’ll never let anyone have. It’s hers, just as Lily once was, and flames dance along her skin as she loses a bit of herself with every passing day. Bella’s always been fascinated by fire.