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Bellatrix had always treated her cousins as though they were siblings. She had always had a strong sense of pride in their family and their name, and anyone with their last name or bloodline was someone she felt deeply connected to.
Sirius was no different.
She had always known he would pose a problem. Strong willed, clever, headstrong and stubborn: he was a Black, through and through.
Unfortunately, it was the most attractive traits that had him pulling away from his mother. His family. Their legacy. Bellatrix was making it her mission to drag him back, even if it was kicking and screaming. Her rat had told her of his plan to sneak into Hogsmeade that evening, and her darling husband had gotten her a portkey to get her there.
She'd been in the back corner of the pub for an hour before he arrived - and she waited until he was settled to make her move. He'd finished a drink when she slid her fingers across the shoulders of her cousin, which were broader than she remembered, even if he was still as slim and boyishly handsome as ever. "Sirius" she greeted, "fancy meeting you here"
One, the inevitable End of Year prank was on the horizon, and the Marauders’ collective trunk was rather empty.
Two, exams. Which, while nothing to stress over, left Sirius eager to every other person at Hogwarts, who had little to do besides complain of revision and testing and My potion wasn’t green enough and My response was four inches too short and I can’t wait to not have to read anything else for three months.
Three – and perhaps most importantly – it meant his first complete holiday away from his family. The idea left Sirius nearly inflated.
The three things combined left him wandering – first to Zonko’s, despite the fact that his face was well-recognized, and it was certainly not a Hogsmeade weekend, much less a weekend in general – then to the Hogs Head Inn. He was in the middle of flurrying the barmaid (a mildly attractive, if not lumpy, elderly woman he’d never seen before, who seemed delighted by his presence and conversation) with made-up stories of having survived a Runespoor attack at the age of eight on a family holiday to Burkina Faso – when fingers dancing their way across his shoulders sent a chill up his spine.
He was immediately too receptive. It was a glaring fault that Sirius hadn’t been able to overcome: a need for some kind of spotlight, for affection. He practically shimmied into it, turning his upturned head to glance down his nose at Bellatrix.
Immediately he shrunk away, shying into the bar in front of him, his features arranging darkly. “Cousin,” he volleyed back, and the corner of his lip started to twist. “You grace the lowly with your presence. They won't blast you from the tapestry for this, will they? Are you dying? Roddy-dearest isn’t trying to sell you off already, is he? Can’t say I’d blame him.”
She was excellent at finding people's weaknesses. It was really her main skill. She could observe someone and pick out the three or four best ways to destroy them, easily. It made her excellent at torture - even better at manipulation. She sat down with her cousin, despite not being invited, and ignored his first few jests, though she did settle in on one, as her fingers slid down his spine, until her palm pressed just below his shoulder blade and her fingernails grazed the spot where muscles swelled from the sides of his spine. "Oh Sirius we both know that you would never be considered lowly" Not with a name like his, even if he was blasted off the family tree.
"Besides, I've missed my favourite cousin. No one else is nearly as fun to spar with" And that genuinely was the truth. Andromeda was getting better with age but her sisters were a bore and his brother, well... anyway. "You haven't missed me, not even a little?" She asked, pretending to be offended (she wasn't, because he was clearly insane) "We had such fun, growing up" Even if her memory was a little skewed, for it.
When he turned back toward the bar, it was with a visible shiver, attempting to shake off the contact at his back. “I’m sorry,” he interrupted quickly, “which part was fun again? I don’t seem to recall.” His head tilted in mock thought before his eyes darted back toward his cousin face. “What do you want, Bellatrix?” Curt, his voice a little edgier, her name snapping at the syllables as it rolled in full off his tongue. “I know you’re after something. What is it? Come back to the family, apologize to mum, join your side? Which is it?”
She dragged one nail up his back, adding a second as she got closer, then slid both up his neck and under that long, lovely hair, gently scratching the nape of his neck, palm pressing to his shoulder. "Does being physical bother you?" Bella asked, "I haven't been at the bottle yet, but if you're looking for someone to drink with I'm more than happy to provide company."
She had come alone, because she alone could complete this task. Rod and Rab were fine enough to go drinking with, and her dear sister was a good companion for journeys like this, but figuring out Sirius' weak points was something she needed to do on her own. After all, she was enjoying it so far.
"Oh don't be so narcissistic, Sirius, it doesn't look good on you" She murmured, calling over the waitress, ordering them a bottle of firewhiskey, then looking back at her cousin: "I don't want anything except to see you" She told him, half her mouth curling into a smile, "Happy accident that I ran into you at all" She added, a lie, "But we might as well enjoy it - not often you get to have the benefit of the Black vaults at your disposal while drinking lately, I presume" Though the Potters were well off, and likely providing for him - but still.
What she could do, maybe –
But no, not even that. He reached behind him, swatting her arm away where Bellatrix attempted to make more sincere contact. “The empty seat was actually better company than you are, but I don’t imagine that’ll prompt you to leave ,will it? Did Mother Dearest send you? Is that it?”
His mouth drew in a tight line across his features, grim and haughty. “As it turns out,” he returned coolly, “I don’t need the benefit of the Black vaults being blah-blah-blah. An honest answer will be just fine this time: what d’you want?”
He swatted her hand away but she wasn't deterred. Bellatrix laid her hand on him again, on the shoulder closer to her and then sliding it across to the other one as she leaned in, speaking nearer to his ear: "I wanted to see you, Sirius" She repeated, "Now why is that so hard to believe? You're a handsome, lovely young man - a good drinking partner, a friendly face" Bellatrix smiled, glad that she was getting under his skin, pleased that she was winning even if she wasn't sure what the prize was yet.
"You're so tense," She murmured, leaning in again, "Let me get you another drink and we can discuss why you won't take me at my word."