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          The day Bellatrix Black met her future husband she was dragged out of her room by her mother, Durella, she did not want to meet this man. She did not care he was from a ”proper family” whatever the hell that actually meant. She did know what her mother meant by that, but to her, the words had no true meaning. 

       You See Bellatrix would never be seen as a good daughter. That would be Narcissa the youngest. It would surely not be Andromeda who ran off with one of their father’s footmen the day she turned eighteen. Bella as her younger sisters sometimes called her did not have the guts to do such a thing. Or so she told herself. The truth was she was not stupid enough to think a woman could make it on their own in this world, this culture, this country, without resorting to selling herself or stealing, without a man. 

    She was not that desperate to get away from her life to resort to selling herself, she did not think she would be that good of a thief,  and she had yet to find a man who she woe into running away her. Though that was not without trying. And after the actions of Andy? Her father kept a tight rein on his other daughters. Because he had no sons, they were his tickets to a better position in society. They were his only hope to better the family.

    Her uncle, Orion also put pressure on the family because if they raised the family's position with their marriages? His sons would have even better possible matches when it came their time to do so, which would lead to even higher status. You see the men of the Black family we're social climbers, even at the sacrifice of their children, but mostly their daughters.

    That was why Bellatrix was dragged out by her very angry mother that day, who was so angry she was nearly spitting nails. That was why her wild chaotic curly hair was tamed by tying it back, that was why she was forced into her least favorite dress, the light purple one. Which she ripped off and told her mother she would out there in her corset over wearing it. Her mother sighed loudly, Bella was not one for idle threats. Her daughter was crazy enough to go out there exposed, in front of a crowd of men.

    The black one wouldn't do, it made her look like she was mourning someone. But you see in a way Bella was, her freedom is what she was mourning. Her life she could have had if she left this family in the dust. Her very personhood. You see when Bellatrix married she would become nothing more to the law of the land than that of someone's prized stallion or better yet mare. Because just like a mare her main purpose would be to produce heirs for her husband. Just as it was a mare’s job to produce foals.

     Her mother compromised with her on the dark navy blue nearly black one. It made her hair look even darker, it brought out the blue in her blue-grey eyes, and showed off her figure but also hid it. It would give Mr. Malfoy a taste of what Bellatrix was under her heavy dress, but not enough he could actually see anything. 

   Bellatrix walked down those stairs, as if she was to meet her executioner, not her future husband. And the moment she laid eyes on Mr Lucius Malfoy who fucking Narcissa was flirting with, hoping he would choose her instead? He made her want to vomit. He made her want to run. He sent shivers down her spine. 

   This was the man her father was marrying her off to, ”to tame her” and for the first time in her life, Bellatrix Black thought she may have met her match in sheer stubborn, intelligence, and most all the ability to tear her to shreds with his very words. Lucius saw everyone in this room to be less than him, but most of all her. There would be no happy marriage for the future Malfoys, but most of all for the future Mrs. Malfoy. 

   Bellatrix felt like a horse being sold on the auction block as she listened to her father and future husband make plans about the future marriage as if she was no more than a painting on the wall, the carpet under their feet, or a dog sitting in the corner. To them, she was not a person with her own thoughts, ideas, and wishes. She was nothing but something to arrange to have or give away. 

     Andromeda had the right fucking idea to run away before this happened to her, Andy was the smartest of three sisters. Narcissa was the fool who bought into the bullshit. Andy was the free one, and Bellatrix would the bird locked in a gilded cage, but a cage all the same.

               ******************

      Bellatrix kept rattling the bars of the cage she called her life. She loved nothing more than to push her husband's buttons. She wanted him to scream her, she wanted him to make a fool of himself in front of others, she wanted him to throw things at her, she wanted him to slap her because it meant she was making his life just as pathetic as hers. 

    Watching perfectly little Mr. Malfoy act like the ape of a man he was in front of others, even if it meant that her body would be hurt by him as payment for such actions. She even sometimes enjoyed the pain when he did something to her in private with only their servants to see. Because the worst gossipers to ever exist in this country were female servants. 

    Each action made him seem just as crazy as she sometimes felt. She planned to spend the rest of her miserable life doing such things when she met Tom Riddle Jr. He was their new stable boy. He was tall, handsome and lean. His hair was cropped short and wavy. Is was black like her own. His eyes though we're this green-blue she had never seen before. They were clinical and sharp. 

     Bellatrix had spent a large portion of her childhood on the back of a horse, it was her only happy place. So one afternoon she went down to have her gelding tacked up. His name was Salazar, she named him after an old wizard from one of her favorite stories from growing up. He was the only reason she hadn't offed herself. 

    Bella was not someone to believe that doing so would lead to her burning in hell for the rest of eternity. She was not that stupid to believe that something so high and mighty as God gave a fuck what she did with her life, or to herself. If God cared anything about her she would not be married to Lucius Malfoy. She would not be suffocating in this heavily controlled life that she never wanted.

     If God gave a crap about her, she would have been allowed to marry for love or even never at all. But none of that matters she thought to herself, not at this moment. She had a horse to take on a long ride through their trails or fields. For a few hours, she could be anything, but a proper Mrs. Malfoy as her husband sometimes made comments she should be.

     If he wanted a proper Mrs. Malfoy he should of married Narcissa. She was quite capable of being a proper Mrs. Malfoy. Maybe one day if Bella ever got the courage to off herself her sister would become the ”proper Mrs. Malfoy”. If that were to happen in heaven or hell she would wish them a very comfortable marriage. Bella would not wish for a happy one because she did not believe those ever existed, at least not in the upper crust of Victorian England.

     However, sometimes she did hear rumors that Queen Victoria and King Albert had a happy marriage. I guess it took being queen of England to be allowed to marry for love. Bella wishes the pretty little queen would share that ability with her female subjects, but if anything she put more restraint on women, not herself than of three rulers before her. Once a woman got power, sometimes she thought she was better than all other women.

     Bellatrix walked into the barn, with its high ceiling, it's beautiful oak beams and the comforting smell of horses. She adjusted her evergreen riding dress and tapped her black leather riding boot on the soft dirt floor. Her wild hair had taken on a life of its own from the walk of the main house to the barns. 

    She did not bother to straighten it, it was just hair, beyond that she kind of liked it will. It made her look like medusa or even some of the Celtic Goddesses of the old. Who cares what anyone thought she was just going riding.

       Tom Riddle greeted her with a smile and ”sorry for keeping you waiting Mistress, I will go tack up Salazar for you” before he took off in a jog she asked ”may I help you tack him up? He can be slightly jumpy around new people”.

   ”Sure Mistress,” he said with a nod.

      She called out ”please drop the Mistress crap, my name is Bellatrix, though my friends call me Bella” not that she had any to speak of that moment to call her Bella. Bird locked in a gilded cage after all. 

       ”Mistress that would be improper for me to call you that, but I will do it when we are alone if you insist,” said Tom with an odd look on his face.

        He brought out Salazar, who was a tall black gelding. He looked like a warhorse of the old. They both grabbed brushes and went to work on either side of the horse. They watched each other over the back of the horse, she gave him an odd smile. He glanced up and then his eyes shot down to his old worn boots. He was wearing the typical clothes of a stable boy. Breeches, a button-down shirt, a worn coat, and a pair of old leather boots.

      Once finished Tom goes to grab Salazar’s tack. He saddled him, quickly as if he had done it all his life. She scratched under the horse’s mane, and then patted his shoulder. Tom brought another horse out this was one of Lucius’ Carriage horses. She was a dark red bay, Lucius had considered and still was of putting her up for sale. 

 Hestia was exactly as her name described, full of fire. Lucius, however, tended to just call the mare bitch. Which his friend James pointed out was wrong because she was a mare, not a dog.

    Sometimes Bella wished that mare would kill her husband in some of the drawn-out fights he had gotten in with the animal, but then they would kill the horse and that would be such a sad thing. 

   Once the mare was just as ready as Salazar, Tom turned to her and asked ”mind if I join you are on your ride? I have fences to check” his blue eyes gaze at her body like he's taking in every detail. 

   She declares  ”no I do not mind, mind me asking how in the world are you able to handle Hestia?”

  He stares out the barn doors, and then mutters with his eyes shut, ”because I know what it's like to be treated unkindly”.

                ****************

    Bellatrix knew she was playing with fire, and she was going to get burned. But the truth was she did not care. She lived for her rides with Tom. He cared what she had to say, he cared about her desires and his kisses brought her soul to life. 

    Her husband never made her feel this way. Her husband was like ice, like a cold winter day that you dreaded leaving the warmth of your bed. 

  Tom was like a summer day, he was like a spark, and he was something that she never imagined she could have true love.

   They sat by a river at the far end of the property. He was reading a book, and she was just watching him. Though she pretended to watch the horses graze.

     She dropped the pretenses of not paying attention to him. Setting his book aside, and then laying her head against his chest as she curled into him. He retrieved his book and went back to reading. And then without thought, he kissed her wild hair. She turned to him and kissed him on the lips. The book was thrown aside this time by him. 

   ”We shouldn't do this” Tom hissed as he kissed her again.

   ”We shouldn't, but I want nothing more in this world” she sighs as he kisses her pale throat. 

    They strip naked, lay on a blanket, in the sunshine, and then he's inside her. Her pale legs wrapped around his hips, with her realizing it. Her hands trace the scars on his back. He takes his time with her, savoring every single second. Like he may never have her again. 

   She can't imagine not doing this again. She can't imagine not feeling him inside of her again. His hand reaches for a place she's never dared to touch. It's so incredible it makes her feel as she was struck by lighting, she cries out loudly and then without realizing it starts to whine.

   Then he's moving faster and her muscles tighten, in a way she's never felt before. 

  He's hissing in her ear ”to let go, just let go”. And she does. He follows what could seconds or minutes later she cannot comprehend time and space at this moment. Thomas Riddle figured out a way to shut Bellatrix Black up, give her a good fucking. 

                ****************

      It hadn't come! Her bleeding hadn't come! It couldn't be Lucius’s, they haven't shared a bed in months. It was Tom’s and she was a dead woman walking. Or might as well be. Her husband wanted to send to her to an asylum already, now he had a reason to. 

    Just as her friend Hermione had been. And Hermione's crime was far less than hers. She  campaigned for women to have rights to their own children, after her husband, one James Potter, divorced her and refused to allow her to see them. 

    The same man who was friends with her husband. She had to tell Tom. If he wouldn't help, maybe Andy and Ted would. Surely her own sister would help. 

     Her servant pulled her corset tight and then helped her dress. Bellatrix had to find Tom Riddle and she prayed to a God she did not believe that he would help her.

                 *************

      Bellatrix sat the man she wished she could marry down. They were in the carriage barn. It chilly, but she loved the smell of it straw, leather, and wood. 

   She tucked her foot behind the other. She took hold of Tom’s hand, gripping the fingers as her life depended on it. She took in him. His sharp blue-green eyes that reminded her of the sea. His wavy black hair was cropped short. His pale skin, that reminded her of snow. His worker's hands felt so right in her own. She looked at his narrow upturned nose. His rose-colored lips. She thought of his strong shoulders, his freckled back from too much time in the sun. How he smelled like the tobacco he always smoked.

      He started to ask her what was wrong, but she cut him off her thoughts plummeting out of her mouth. ”I am pregnant and it's yours”.

   He didn't pull his hand away from hers, instead, he clung to it tighter. ”We have to run, we have to go somewhere no one will care where we are from. I will not let him do what his father did to my mother. ”

   ”My sister will help us, she married a footman of my father's. They don't have much but we can stay there for a day or so. What did his father do to your mother?” She asked Tom never would tell her about his parents. He simply said his father was an employee of his uncle. 

    ”He killed her. He didn't get her proper medical attention when I was born. I survived, but she died giving birth to me. My aunt, my father's sister said it was of a broken heart. I came to work here because he wanted to hide his family’s dirty little secret.” said Tom as his body shook with rage. 

    She said ”I will dress in my warmest thing, bring my jewelry we can sell it. You bring whatever money you have, and we will get passage to America. My sister can have Salazar for payment, it's not like we can take him with us” she says as her very heart breaks over the idea of giving up that horse. Before Tom, after her sister, Andy left the family that horse was the closest thing she had to a friend. But it was that horse or possibly Tom’s life. Neither mentioned that he could go to jail for being with her.

                 **************

         Tom was behind Bella, she knew the way to her sister and brother-in-law’s small farm. The riding was hard, it took most of the night. Once they reached it, Salazar, came to a sudden stop. 

    She told the man ”we are here”.

       A man with a small lantern stepped outside of his door and called out ”who goes there, it's bloody late at night”.

   She called out to Ted ” it's me, Ted, your sister-in-law, Bellatrix.”

   ”Why on earth are you here Bella? I thought you made it clear you were above us?” said Ted gruffly. He clearly was not pleased to see her. 

     ”Because I have done the same thing you and my sister did, but after I married a Malfoy.   And I am pregnant. I need your two’s help. We need your help. We are going to go to America there he can't touch us.” Said Bella fearful that the man she once was so mean to would not help her.

    She tacks at the last minute, ”for your help you can have Salazar. He's a comfortable ride under saddle, he's a carriage horse and he can easily be taught to pull a plow”. 

   Ted nods in the lantern and moonlight, it was a full moon tonight and it was nearly the witching hour, thought Bella. She hoped her  ancestors those from long ago before the Romans came to this country would bring luck, and help her on her journey. ”Fine”, he says ”bring him in the barn and I will take a look. I need to decide if this is worth my time.”

     She was expecting something just like this,  she had been so many hateful to Andy when she found out what she and Ted Tonks were going to do. To run away together, to leave that manor house full of hateful words, stinging slaps and cursing. It was a house without love and the three sisters had grown up in it. She had said those things out of jealously. Not because she actually believed them. 

   Bella led her horse into the Tonks’s small barn. It was old, but clean. The older horse that was sleeping inside its stall looked well taken care of, as did the milking cow. At least if Ted took the deal Salazar would be well-taken care of. He would have a hard life, but at least it would a comfortable one, though she hoped for the horse’s sake it could also be a happy one. It was a far better thing than what would happen if she had left him with Lucius, the man might kill the gelding out of spite.

    Thankfully Hestia had been sold a few weeks back to a man who valued the fire in her eyes, he planned to foxhunt with her. Bella thinks the mare will enjoy that.

     Ted sets the lantern down and lights another, he brings the larger one over as she removes Sal’s tack. Tom stands back allowing her to negotiate with her relative on the help they so desperately need. 

   She bends to pick up the horse's large hoofs to show he's never foundered. She walks around him to show he's not a kicker. She shows his teeth to show he's only seven, a perfect age, old enough to be well trained, but still young enough to have many years left. Ted feels his legs, checks for scars, and in general takes the great beast in.

   He holds his hand out to her and says ”you have yourself a deal”. She shakes it and says thank you.

     Ted tells both of them ” let's get inside now I am sure Andromeda is already awake and has the kettle on. By the way, Bella Sirius is staying with us he and his father had a falling out.” He turns to Tom and asks ”what’s your name?” 

   Tom says ”Thomas Marvolo Riddle”.

Ted’s eyes grow wide, as he sighs ”well Tom a long time ago before you were born I knew your father. He and my own worked together for the Malfoy’s. Retched bunch they are. The worst of the worst.”

    Tom says ”believe me, I know. I know what they would have done to Bella and our future child.”

   Ted says ”you forget what he also would have done to you”.

    Tom answers ”they matter far more than I do.”

   They walked into the small farmhouse, and Andy drops a plate onto the floor “in God’s name, what are you doing here Bellatrix? Come to mock me some more, sister your no better than I am, and at least my husband loves me and not our sister!”

    Tom and Bella raise their hands to show they are no threat. Bella speaks slowly “Andy I am sorry for what I have said in the past. I am sorry for how much I have hurt you. Tom and I are only staying the night. You're getting a new horse out of the situation. We have to leave the country... I am pregnant, with Tom’s child. And you know what Lucius will do!”

   All Andromeda says is ”bloody hell I will put the kettle on.” And ”Sirius get your ass out here we have family business to deal with!”

                ****************

    The whole house is sleeping. Sirius sleeps in a pallet of blankets, near the two lovers. He's not pleased that the two lovebirds are together, but he's happy that Bella came to her senses when it came to her husband. That she was no longer a part of their crazy family. Dora Andy’s daughter loves her aunt Bella. She’s unfortunately rather attached to the woman she’s just met, who is leaving for America and never will be coming back. However, Bellatrix promises the child to write her letters regularly.

      Bella groans in her sleep, and when she hears loud banging at the door. Tom wakes up with a jolt, moaning to his barely awake lover “I hope that is not who I think it is”. 

    She mutters “it likely is. He’s not stupid, and he’s smarter than I regularly give him credit for.” 

    Ted wakes in the bed he shares with  Andromeda, in corner. He tells the women, his daughter, and Tom to go upstairs, figuring it is Lucius.  

    Tom tries to argue “I am a rather good shot and it’s my neck he wants to stretch!”

     Ted snarls “there will be no shooting! And the fact he wants to stretch your neck is exactly why you will go upstairs, with the women.”

     Tom Riddle snarls, as he follows the women upstairs. 

   Sirius grabs a hunting rifle, as does Ted. They are just for show, not that they are going to use them. 

                ****************

      Lucius is standing in the doorway, giving Sirius and Ted dirty looks. He snarls ”where is my wife?” 

     Ted tells partly the truth ”I took her and Riddle to the docks, they left for America. They left her horse as payment for the favor.”

    ”Your lying” hissed James Potter. ”I know you are. We are not stupid. They would not leave this country, America is full of criminals.”

    Lucius laughs ”they would fit in right there!”

   ”You do have a point” laughed James.

    Lucius snarls ”you can keep the stupid bloody horse, I never liked that nag anyway. He's not worth enough to sell. He's foundered multiple times!” And then he slams his rifle butt against Ted’s head.

     ”Payment for my horse” chuckles Lucius.

     James laughs as they mount their horses ”their farm is a shit hole.”Lucius nods. And they ride off.

     Sirius supports Ted as he helps him up. Tom nearly flies down the stairs. ”he’s gone?” he cries. Sirius nods, and Ted just groans.

     Tom says ”I think we should go to the docks today. Get passage and be out of the country before Malfoy can change his mind.”

    Andromeda says, ”I think that is for the best.”

    Ted groans ”I will take them, to the docks”.

   Andromeda clucks her tongue and shakes her head ”no your in no condition to. Sirius will. You, Mr. Tonks, are going to bed, so you can get some rest. Getting a God knows what to the head means you need rest.”

    Sirius remarks ”it was a rifle butt, Lucius slammed a rifle butt into his head.”

     Andy mutters to herself ”all for a stupid horse, yeah right”.

    .             **************

       Bellatrix slammed her wedding ring on the desk of the man who you dealt with to buy tickets for passage to America. ”is this enough for two tickets in the lower decks?”

   The man with fish eyes smiled showing off his yellow teeth and said:” of course Miss, or is it Mrs?”

   Tom spoke up ”passage for myself and my wife, Mr. Tom Riddle and Mrs. Bella Riddle. ”

   The man told them where their cabins on the ship were, the lowest of all decks. Bellatrix looked over their small cabin once they reached it. Threadbare double mattress, a few blankets, pillows, and hooks for their cloaks or jackets.

  Bella took off her cloak and laid on the bed, this was as far from her upbringing she could possibly ever get. But at least she was with someone she loved.

                ****************

      Bellatrix stood dressed in black, in a town in Ohio. Her hair still wild, her eyes bright. Tom held her as they watched their daughter dance with Harry Snape. Her blue dress was made by her mother. 

    Her friend Lily Snape, stood next to her and made the comment ”I think soon we may be planning a wedding together”. 

   It had two decades since the Riddles had left England, they had not had it easy. Tom worked his fingers to the bone, in their fields. And he and Lily’s husband made moonshine in their still. It made far more money than corn did, even though it was illegal. 

   Severus, Lily's husband, was a civil war veteran. A gruff man, who reminded Bella a bit of Sirius. He was the town's chemist. 

    Lyra was their first daughter, then they had a son named Tommy, a daughter named Maren which meant star of the sea, and another named Merope after Tom’s mother. 

      Lucius had remarried, to Narcissa, and had a son with her Draco seven months after Bellatrix had left him. That's why he wasn't too angry at her for leaving him. 

      Tom led her to the dance floor after Severus was dragged on by Lily. The fiery redhead was the only of the small group that had been born in the states. She was from Virginia, Severus was like Tom the son of a noblewoman and a servant. Though he was from Scotland.

   No cared in this small town that Bella was a little odd, always wearing dark dresses, Lily was like her interested in magic and Goddess of the past. Though they were careful not to share it with others in the town. No one cared that snakes did not strike at Tom, he was who you called when they were in your house. He just had a way with the people said. 

    Bella’s niece Dora was going to visit next year, in the spring, passage between the two countries had gotten far quicker in the last twenty years. It would be nice to see her relative and introduce Dora to her cousins. Her husband slow danced with her, and she thought to herself in America the woman who grew up in the lap of luxury can be a farmer's wife, and the man who was a stable boy can make something of himself.

      She watched as Severus spun Lily around the dance floor. He was an odd man, but he had raised Harry quite well and he was good to Lily. He was also the one who suggested they turn some of their crops into shine, which he sold in his drug store. 

       Bellatrix Black stared up at the stars where the family’s names came from and realized she was home.       

 Tom whispered into her ear, ”our daughters can be whoever they want to be Bella, and I will love them, as I do you, as I have learned to.”