Family Album: An Outward and Visible Sign
'My arm! What has he done to my bloody arm?'
In the dusty drawing room of the Riddle House, where its former owners had met their unhappy, but mercifully swift end, Rodolphus Lestrange lay curled upon the carpet, his thin face distorted in a rictus of pain. His left arm was bent up towards his shoulder and his right hand gripped the opposite wrist, knuckles and bony fingers white as he clutched desperately in a futile attempt to distract himself from the searing pain a few inches along his forearm. Rodolphus had considered himself a brave man, as far as one can know these things, but he had screamed like a banshee when the Dark Lord's spell hit him and the black wound burned into his flesh. Not that he hadn't wanted it, that he wasn't honoured beyond his hopes to have been so marked out by his master; he just hadn't expected it to hurt so much. He felt tears run unchecked from his eyes, but managed to suppress his sobs. He felt utterly humiliated. The first real test of his strength and he had failed. He had failed. Of course he had bloody failed! Who wouldn't? Across the room, he heard the sound of shifting feet. Ah, of course. They wouldn't.
Rodolphus squeezed his eyes shut, rubbing his face into his sleeve. By the time he opened them again the feet were in front of him: two pairs of feet in gleaming black boots, one pair large, one smaller, below the skirts of two sets of black robes. Rodolphus managed to turn his head sideways to look up the heavy face of hanging cloth to the two faces far above him. They were hazy in the dimly lit room, or perhaps it was just that his eyes would not focus properly; he couldn't tell. A wave of nausea swept through him and he dropped his head and groaned,
'Oh God.' A distant voice broke through his misery.
'You're doing all right,' she said, far above him in that low voice that curled and stung like smoke. 'Just... just hang on.' She wasn't good at comforting words, but an awkward hand smoothed his shoulder as she bent down. Then the other voice spoke in a soft drawl.
'If it's any consolation,' said Lucius Malfoy, 'most people faint.'
'Did you?' snarled Rodolphus.
'As a matter of fact, I did.' That was a surprise. Through his pain, Rodolphus managed a breath of laughter and then shuddered again. There was a rustle and a snap, and Lucius was holding a lump of chocolate up to him.
'You've got to.'
'Give it here, Lucius.' Through his half-closed eyes, Rodolphus watched as Bellatrix took the chocolate and broke off a small piece. Kneeling by his side, she lifted his head onto her lap and then prised open his clenched jaw with gentle hands and popped the chocolate into his mouth. He thought for a moment that he would choke, but then the sharp corners melted and his mouth filled with the thick taste of comfort so familiar from rainy afternoons in the Hogwarts infirmary. It clotted on his tongue. Not like blood, he told himself, not at all like blood. Bella snapped off another square of chocolate for him, 'Now chew.' He tried, and felt a bit better. She put a stick into his hand and returned the bar to Lucius, who had taken a bit and was nibbling at the corner
'There is an advantage to fainting,' he said, 'one misses the pain.'
'I could live with that.' Maybe they wouldn't think the less of him after all. Rodolphus released his wrist and wiped away the last tears before pushing himself up with his right hand. Still feeling rather light-headed, he cradled his left arm and examined the mark, his mark. His whole forearm was burning hot and the flesh around the crusted black mark curled up red and angry. No short-sleeved robes for him for a while, then. What an idiot he had been not to have taken it in winter: not to have taken it years ago. He’d been a Death Eater in all but name for – how long? Certainly he had been intended for the cause since birth, and yet there was something about the Lestranges that had kept them, at least officially, on the edge. He remembered his elder sister, Roswitha, fending off a group of Muggle children urging the siblings to come and play with an inflatable ball at the beach. We don’t join in, she had said in resolute tones, and it was true. Nonetheless the time had been coming when the choice had to be made, and it was better to make it early enough to be certain it was the right choice. And, of course, there was Bella.
He lifted his head from her lap and struggled to a chair with what dignity he could muster. Lucius had stood up again and was brushing down his robes, but Bellatrix remained kneeling. Rodolphus opened his mouth to thank her, but stopped. She had rolled up her sleeve to trace the outline of her mark with one finger. When they had arrived it had burned deep and strong, but now it had faded so that the edge was distinguished less by the mark itself, but by the border of fine dark hairs that covered the upper side of her arm.
'It's funny,' she said, the smoky voice far aware and thoughtful, 'how the infliction of pain takes people differently. I didn't feel it at all.'
ETA: Does this count as genfic? In which case, it can go up at omniocular - I’m not quite sure.