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Breaking the Window

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Hermione stretched while yawning in the comfortable sleeping bag. Above her, the nonexistent sun shone brightly, warming her skin. "Hm, Trix?" Hermione muttered groggily while turning to her side and reaching out. Memories of the wonderful sensations and pure emotions she had experienced last night came flooding back. The young witch smiled and was willing to bet that if anyone were to see her lying in bed right now, they'd see a grin on her face which was beyond goofy.

Unfortunately, the found the other side of the bed empty. She opened her eyes and chuckled when she saw a yellow flower lying on Bellatrix's pillow. Hermione should have known that Bellatrix would be up already: unlike her, the curly-haired witch was definitely an early riser.

After a quick wash and getting dressed, Hermione emerged from the tent with flower in hand where she found Bellatrix sitting on a log near the campfire stove. The curly-haired witch gave her a warm smile. "Good morning," she greeted as she was stirring the breakfast in the pan, which looked to be scrambled eggs with bits of bacon. Apparently, Bellatrix had worked out how use the campfire stove, without blowing herself up even. Though she supposed that she shouldn't be surprised.

Of course, Bellatrix also had a giant wasp on her head, but didn't seem to mind. A few moments later, the wasp teleported to the ground and started to lazily walk around the campsite.

"Hi," Hermione greeted and sat down next to her. A quick brush of lips followed. Funny... she had expected to find things awkward after she had basically, well, slept with her friend. It was surprising just how natural everything felt, even when Bellatrix reached over to squeeze her knee.

"Breakfast is ready," said Bellatrix and shovelled half of the frying pan's contents on a plate. "It was originally meant to be bacon and eggs, but, well... mistakes were made."

"I'm sure it'll be fine," replied Hermione. In fact, she knew the perfect thing to go along with Bellatrix' creation. After fetching her back, she rummaged around and found her prize. Right before leaving on their expedition, Hermione had visited her favourite artisan bakery in Dufftown. Perfectly preserved in a magically enchanted plastic bag, emerged a loaf of full-wheat bread. The smells were wonderful, as if it was fresh out of the oven a few minutes ago. She'd been saving this for a special occasion and this was as special as it got. Hermione held it close to her nose and savoured the smell, ran her hand over the loaf to feel that perfect texture.

"Ahum," sounded Bellatrix. Hermione looked up and found her friend looking at her with one raised eyebrow. "Do the two of you need some time alone in the tent? I'll wait here."

"What?" said Hermione, unaware that she was still stroking the loaf of bread in her hands. "No, just… don't feed Bread to the wasp, okay? It's mine!"

"Alright then," Bellatrix chuckled. They ate together, but Hermione soon noticed that Bellatrix had grown a bit quiet, adopting a bit for a moody look. She often gazed in the distance, seemingly lost in thought.

"Trix?" asked Hermione. "What's wrong?"

"Hm?" replied Bellatrix, starting a little before letting out a sigh. "Oh, it's just... I was thinking about the fight I had with Andie. I was supposed to apologize, but I was so excited about going to explore this place that I simply hadn't gotten around to it yet. It's been days and... well... it just doesn't sit well with me."

Hermione smiled and lay a hand on her shoulder. "It'll fine, Trix," replied Hermione. "She knows you love her and, well, time works differently here. We could spend weeks here and it'll just be minutes in our own world that have passed."

Bellatrix returned the smile. "Hermie, you always know just what to say."

Hermione nodded, squeezing her shoulder a little. Yesterday, she had almost told Bellatrix the truth of what would happen to her if she were to stay in 1968: she would fall in with fanatics, she would turn against her own family, she would murder and torture people in the name of another.

She was glad that she didn't, because after hearing this, Hermione doubted Bellatrix would have believed her. Oh, sometimes Hermione would see glimpses of the woman she'd become, but the difference between young Bellatrix and the woman she would become were like night and day. Telling the truth wouldn't probably do any good and would likely result in Bellatrix laughing at her: the way she was now, Bellatrix simply couldn't imagine bringing harm to her sisters, like she did when breaking off all contact with Andromeda, or putting Narcissa through hell during her stay at the mansion and encouraging Draco to serve the Dark Lord.

Hell, Bellatrix as she was now likely couldn't imagine serving anyone.

No, telling her the truth was out of the question. Hermione would have to find another tactic. She'd keep working at it, though. She'd have to convince Bellatrix to join her in 1998... and now that the two of them were very much in love, that became more important than ever.

Simply stunning her and dragging her back into 1998 with her was an option that was definitely still on the table for Hermione as far as she was concerned. Now more than ever.

"Oh, Hermie," said Bellatrix, interrupting her from her thoughts. "Take a look at this!"

Put in her hand was a smooth multicoloured stone which was cool to the touch. Many different colours scintillated across its surface, causing Hermione to hold it against the light. "Is this… an opal? Where did you find this?"

"Ask our wasp friend," Bellatrix pointed to the large wasp sat near the tent. "He had it in his mouth this morning. He's been bringing me interesting shiny rocks all morning. I think he must have seen us collecting samples the other day and decided to help. Or maybe he just wants to play. Anyway, I thought I'd show you before I catalogue it and put it in a container."

"Huh, how about that," said Hermione, glancing at the wasp for a moment.

After breaking up camp, the two witches returned to the forest and found the rest of morning to be rather uneventful. Most of the time was spent exploring and mapping out the forest, finding and naming locations, flora and fauna along the way. When they emerged from the other side of the forest, they found themselves in another set of grasslands. Unlike the savannas near their entry point, this one more resembled a meadow. This meadow was several acres across and was nestled among another rocky plateau on the other side of this floating island.

Though the meadow contained many patches of colourful flowers, experience had taught certainly Hermione that it behooved them to be careful around the local flora. Thankfully, there were no repeats of her incident with the paralyzing flowers on the other side of the floating island. Bellatrix took more photographs and Hermione suggested gathering seeds to see if these hitherto unknown species of flowers would grow in their own world. Meanwhile, the wasp lazily buzzed along with them and, in some cases, actually led them to some new honey-filled flowers they had overlooked.

It was about two o'clock in the afternoon when the two witches approached the edge of the world and stopped by a grouping of blue orchid like flowers. "Look," said Bellatrix, grinning at Hermione. "I think I will name these after Andromeda. That'll do as an apology, don't you think so?"

"Hm," Hermione chuckled at her. "She says this right after she names an intensely ugly reptilian bat-thing after her sister Narcissa."

"Hey," Bellatrix raised an eyebrow. "Cissy will get the joke. She always does."

By now, Bellatrix had developed a bit of a method for gathering flora. First, she'd take a few pictures. Then, she'd use her wand to detect any dangers. If safe, she would pluck one or two to press them in a separate notebook and gather some seedpods to bring home with them. She was about to do just then when the flowers suddenly flared up in a pleasant blue light, not unlike the hue of the Fae Mirror.

"Hm," said Bellatrix. "I wonder why they do that..."

Instantly, the wasp buzzed past them to snack from the apparently rather sweet flowers and flew off with a load of pollen stuck to his legs.

"Ah, that'll be it," said Bellatrix.

"Whenever something magical passes by, the flowers start glowing to attract their attention," said Hermione.

"Goes for us too," said Bellatrix as she moved her hand in and out of range, playing with the flowers as if it was turning a light-switch on and off again.

It had been a rather productive day and the witches decided to set up camp on a rocky plateau which was near the pillar hosting the Andromeda flowers. The plateau was nicely flat and had some outcroppings to sit on. However, as they set foot upon it, they noticed a barely visible shimmering in the air. It looked to be a tall circular column stretching off into the sky. Setting up camp was forgotten for now, as the two witches regarded their new find.

"I'd take a photograph, but I'm not sure it will even show," said Bellatrix as she kept a respectable distance.

With her wand out, Hermione tried to take a few readings. "Hm," she said. "I sense it's some sort of kinetic spell, but unlike anything I've ever seen before. I feel an odd flow of magic."

"Hold on, let me get in a bit closer," said Bellatrix as she took a step forward and thrust her wand towards her. Almost immediately, a tendril of magic shot out and drew Bellatrix straight into the column. Her body shimmered and seemed to fade into a black cloud which shot up into the sky with dazzling speed.

"Trix!" Hermione hissed, taking a step back. "Trix, are you still there?"

A few agonizing moments later, the black spot shot down through the magical column again and deposited a smiling Bellatrix safely onto the group. "Oh, Hermie!" she laughed in sheer joy. "Come on, you have to see this! Take all our gear, we're camping somewhere else tonight!"

As if to make a point, the wasp casually flew right past them and into the column to immediately disappear. Bellatrix grinned and extended her hand expectingly. Hermione let out a sigh, grabbed hold of her pack and took Bellatrix's hand to be pulled into the maelstrom.

The familiar sensations of apparation overcame her, but unlike apparation in her own world, the effect was quite benign. Calming, even. Hermione let the magic guide her through the column as she shot through it until she and Bellatrix were deposited... somewhere else.

"Oh, wow," Hermione gasped when she found herself standing at the edge of another floating island. This particular one had a much more darkened atmosphere, bathing the entire island in a permanent evening gloom. In front of her stretched peaceful marshlands, dotted with massive fungal growths and giant mushrooms. Creatures far more alien than she had ever seen passed her or flew over without paying her much mind. Bird? Reptile? Mammal? It was hard to place any of them. The wasp, apparently familiar with the terrain, parked himself on a smaller mushroom and regarded the two witches for a moment.

"Look behind you," Bellatrix said, pointing beyond the rim of the floating island. And Hermione indeed had to agree that there was a spectacular sight to be seen. Behind her and far below her, was the floating island they had come from. It was so far away that she could clearly see the shape and form and lay of the land, of the grasslands and the forest.

"I need to adjust my camera," Bellatrix muttered. "Not enough light."

While Bellatrix was fiddling with her camera, Hermione thought a moment, processing what had just happened and what she was seeing.

"These floating islands," said Hermione, putting her fingers to her chin. "They're biomes. I'm willing to bet that if we find a way to yet another floating island, it'll be another biome entirely. And that portkey-like pathway we have just used. It strikes me very much as a wildlife crossing."

By now, Bellatrix had found the right settings for her camera and snapped a few shots of the floating island and her new surroundings. "Wildlife crossing? What's that?"

Of course Bellatrix wouldn't know: there wasn't much need for wildlife crossings in the wizarding world. "Sometimes when muggles build a motorway, it cuts through an existing forest. To safely allow animals to get to either side of the forest, the muggles sometimes build green bridges or underpass tunnels. That column we just used reacts to magic and magical beings and allows them to travel from one island to another without much trouble. It just might be the same thing."

"I'll tell you one thing, though," said Bellatrix. "I don't think that column is naturally occurring. It's too... focused. Too... precise. It just doesn't feel like naturally occurring magic."

Here, Hermione had to concede a point to Bellatrix: unlike her, Bellatrix had grown up in the wizarding world and lived and breathed magic from birth. She would definitely know the difference between naturally occurring magic and purposefully placed magic and could determine that by feeling alone. "If it's not natural... that means someone put it here. We could be in a preserve... or a zoo..."

"If that's the case," said Bellatrix. "Where's the zookeepers? Or the park rangers? Why haven't we seen them?"

"Or do we even want to see them?" Hermione raised an eyebrow.

"Regardless," grinned Bellatrix. "We have more to explore! I'm so happy to share this with you, Hermie!"

And so started a second bout of exploration. However, the downside of suddenly exploring marshlands quickly became apparent. Marshlands were inherently rather wet and soggy, while the lack of much sunlight made the landscape damp and cold. When the two witches had first discovered the Fae Realm, they had assumed that the entirety of the area consisted of dry and warm grassland savannas and had dressed for that particular climate. It didn't take long for the girls to switch back to their winter coats. This in itself caused a bit of a problem because those coats were far too warm in comparison, which was rather bad when doing a lot of walking. Of course, their choice of footwear wasn't helping much either, though Hermione managed a lot better with her new walking boots compared to Bellatrix's suede leather calf boots.

This made their progress through the marshlands slow and arduous, forcing them to stick to the dryer parts and rockier ground.

Still, it didn't limit their enthusiasm one bit, in particularly Bellatrix'. The landscape was dotted with glowing magical flowers and mushrooms in every colour of the rainbow and each had to be named and samples had to be taken.

Due to the slog it was to traverse these lands and the eternal gloom making it hard to tell the time, Bellatrix and Hermione found themselves taking plenty of rest stops along the way. So far they had remained closer to the edge of the floating island where the ground was more rocky and easily traversable.

It was during one of these rest-stops where they found a perch on a large rock, watching a herd of large creatures pass. The herd seemed to pay them little mind and weren't hostile. These massive three-legged and tall insect-like creatures sauntered through the marshlands as calmly as could be. The beasts stood nine foot tall with thick segmented legs and through they had no discernible head on their round bodies, long tentacles hung from underneath their carapace and dipped into the water. The end of said tentacles were divided in brush-like appendages of which Hermione deduced that they were filtering nutrients from the water.

As Bellatrix was snapping a few pictures of the passing herd, Hermione once again found herself slapping her skin. "Damn mosquitoes," cursed Hermione after once again being assaulted by the wide variety of insect-life these boglands were privy to. "I swear, I'm being eaten alive here."

"Hm, they don't seem to like pure-blood much at all," Bellatrix replied.

"Lucky you!" Hermione glowered.

The wasp was still with them, of course, having found perch on Bellatrix' head as per usual while they rested. Considering the wasp's size, Hermione hoped there weren't giant mosquito's flying about somewhere.

"Ugh, I need a shower," said Bellatrix while regarding her muddy clothes. "And I need to scourgify my clothes."

"So far, we've yet to find a good place to pitch our tent and set up a camp. We should look for higher ground," said Hermione.

"Not much higher ground in sight so far," said Bellatrix. "What was the time again?"

"Close to six in the evening," said Hermione. "We've been walking for hours."

"Hm," said Bellatrix. "Time for dinner and finding a place to set up camp to process our findings. That should be our next goal."

Again, Hermione slapped her hand on her skin. "Hah!" she smirked. "Got one of the bastards! Anyway, how about we look for some more of a dry, stable surface near the edge of the island."

"Sounds like a plan," said Bellatrix and started looking around her with her omniculars, unfortunately finding the pickings for a good camp location to be rather slim. They'd likely have to head closer to the edge of the floating island first where the terrain was much rockier.

"Hah," laughed Bellatrix after letting her mind wander a bit.


Bellatrix glanced to her side, grinning at Hermione. "Oh, just thinking about maman," she said. "She'd be utterly, utterly horrified to the point of fainting at the thought of her eldest daughter traipsing through a swamp. Maman is wizarding aristocracy, you see? Always prim and proper, a proponent of class and style and always adamant about keeping up appearances."

"Sounds like the Victorian age is alive and well in the wizarding world," said Hermione.

"That's the thing," added Bellatrix. "Whenever me or my sisters got in one scrape or a spot of bother, she would scold us terribly. Go on these long tirades about how were young ladies and should act like it. How the Blacks were supposed to be example to the rest of the wizarding world, how we should always act with class, style and superiority. Thing is, whenever we were alone in the room, maman would always sit us down and ask us what it was like and have this broad grin on her face whenever we told the story."

"Hah," replied Hermione. "Public face and private face. Victorian indeed. Tell me more about her."

"There was this one time where Andie and I jumped the fence of a nearby orchard to steal a few apples… Merlin, must have been thirteen at the time… Well, we weren't exactly good thieves, judging by the way we couldn't stop giggling while we were filling my rucksack with apples, so of course we get spotted and chased out of the orchard with an angry farmer and his dogs hot on our tails. So we ran out into the field until we couldn't run anymore and collapsed near a tree to enjoy our prize. Of course, by the time we got home, maman was already aware of what we've done, parades us into the study and berates us for about fifteen minutes straight. 'Mon dieu!' Bellatrix took on a dramatic pose while speaking in an exaggerated French accent. 'Your father and I did not raise you both to be petty sneak-thieves! What on Earth possessed you two fine young ladies from an esteemed bloodline to behave like a pair common mudblood urchins in the street?!'

Hermione made a face. "You do realize you're not painting your mother in a favourable light, hm?"

Bellatrix ignored her and continued. " 'You, who have everything you desire and wealth beyond belief? Why would you risk your virtue and reputation… for apples?! We could buy you thousands of apples!'. I just looked her in the eye and told her: 'Maman, those were the best apples I've ever tasted.' And for a moment, she just stared at me, this bare hint of a smirk playing at her lips. She understood. In that moment, she completely understood. Maman, she too had hopes, dreams and a thirst for adventure, but she had to bury it underneath all that prim and properness after her arranged marriage with father. Now, I have no doubt that my parents love each other very much, but it's just that maman… and father too, I think… have had to have made many sacrifices for the sake of the things which were expected of them. For tradition, for pure-blood values. But in that moment, I could see my maman's adventurous spirit. I like to think I inherited that from her."

"I suppose that makes sense."

"Didn't change the fact that I couldn't sit properly for a three days, though," Bellatrix cringed.

"And what would your maman say if she knew you were on safari with a muggle-born?"

"Oh, not to worry. She'd probably just think you're my porter," Bellatrix snickered the moment she saw Hermione's reaction.

"Oh, that's nice!" Hermione huffed, scrunching up her nose while crossing her arms.

"And then maman would praise me for giving a disenfranchised minority a chance at making an honest wage so they wouldn't have to resort to burglary, pick-pocketing or prostitution to eke out a miserable existence on the streets of Diagon Alley," Bellatrix snickered.

Hermione blinked once. Twice. "This just keeps getting better and better," Hermione snorted. "You're really not painting your maman in a positive light."

"I suppose you should meet her," said Bellatrix. "What about your mum, then? What's she like?"

"Long-suffering and having the patience of a saint," Hermione chuckled. "And she needs to be the level-headed one because my dad's so impulsive and I have a tendency to be uncompromising."

Bellatrix gasped in an over-exaggerated fashion. "No! Say it isn't so!"

"It's true, I..." Hermione started to say, then closed her eyes and sighed heavily. "Gee, thanks a lot..."

"Sorry," Bellatrix snickered. "Continue."

"I remember this one time in school when I was sent to the Head Master's office because I had corrected my teacher one time too many," said Hermione. "Naturally, I was adamant that I had done absolutely nothing wrong and was sat in the waiting room glaring at everyone and anyone, firm in my belief that I was not at fault."

"Of course," Bellatrix winked.

"So my parents were called into the office, the Head Master starts to explain the situation, and the first thing dad does is to slam the flat of his hands of the table and yell out 'well, you should hire competent teachers then! Or are you too incompetent yourself to actually recognize competence?'. My dad was completely on my side and the moment I could see the Head Master's mouth falling open, I just give him this piercing stare and started smirking smugly."

"Oh, I see it," Bellatrix chuckled.

"So my mum tries to salvage the situation by acting the diplomat," said Hermione. "How even if I was right, that was no excuse for being rude and all that. She always did try to find the middle ground."

"I don't envy her," said Bellatrix. "People like your mum have a tendency to get trampled by both sides."

"She often did!" said Hermione. "Generally, dad and I had a tendency to form a bloc against her. My time growing up must have been infuriating to her at times. In fact, she often told us she had to deal with two children. Which, of course, insulted us both because I didn't consider myself a child and dad, well, for obvious reasons."

"Hah, maybe..." Bellatrix started to say, but never got the chance to finish her sentence. Hermione spotted something large and pink shoot towards them from the corner of her eye and it hit Bellatrix against the arm. With a yelp, the curly-haired witch was yanked from the log they were sat on and was roughly dragged to one side.

Startled, Hermione rose to her feet and spun towards Bellatrix, drawing her wand. She found her friend-turned-lover in a rather precarious position: Bellatrix was on her knees in the muck and had her arm stuck to the shoulder inside the cavernous mouth of what looked to be a giant muck-green toad. That the girls hasn't seen the toad approach was understandable, as it was perfectly camouflaged to its surroundings and didn't move very fast. Even now it just... sat there... with an angry witch growling at it while slapping it with her free arm.

"Eeewwww, eewwwww!" Bellatrix yelled, her face contorted into a disgusted scowl. "I can feel its previous dinner! Hermie, get me out of here!"

Oh, the toad wasn't actually large enough to eat Bellatrix, but it if would decide to start hopping all of a sudden, Hermione didn't doubt that its weight and bulk trampling Bellatrix could lead to a few broken bones. So far, it was unflappable, even with an increasingly irate Bellatrix kicking and screaming and with a giant wasp who was seemingly quite worried about his friend now starting to harass him. Still, Hermione worried that the toad might start hopping at any moment: she had to act fast.

After a rush towards the toad, she knelt down into the muck next to Bellatrix, wrapped an arm around her waist and pressed her wand underneath the toad's mouth. "Baubillious!" shouted Hermione, causing a jet of white sparks to spew forth from her wand, shocking the toad. A tremor went through the creature's body and the creature quickly opened its mouth to release Bellatrix and caused the two girls to land into a heap in the muck. After that, the toad hopped back into the swamp, making itself scarce while the wasp chased him a bit for good measure.

"Ugh!" Bellatrix muttered, now drenched in wet muck while her arm was covered in slime. "I really need a shower now."

"Same!" Hermione grimaced as she felt the cold wetness penetrating her clothes.

Bellatrix swore under her breath as she searched the shallow waters for a bit. "Dammit! I lost my wand like a dim-witted first year witchling would have."

"Accio Trix' wand," Hermione said. There was a splash of water as Bellatrix' curved wand came flying out of the shallow water and into Hermione's hand.

"Thanks," Bellatrix muttered, even more embarrassed now. "Let's see about camp."

After their encounter with the toad, the two witches spent some time looking for a decent spot to set up the tent. Eventually, they found a rocky plateau near the edge of the island which was just large enough to pitch the tent, but not for a campfire. They'd have to eat cold food straight from the tin today as Hermione was unwilling to light the stove inside their only shelter.

Perhaps that was for the best, since it quickly became apparent just how tired she was. Hermione went into the shower first while Bellatrix scourgified their clothes and picked out some tins to eat. That spam was really nice, so she picked up two of those can along with a can of peaches. When Hermione was done in the shower, only being in for a few minutes to save water, it was Bellatrix' turn.

The curly-haired witch closed her eyes as the warm water poured down on her body, and she just felt the filth wash off her. Her head felt a little light as she enjoyed the moment.

"You know," said Bellatrix while soaping herself up. "We're a little closer to the edge of this floating island than I'd like. I hope you don't sleepwalk. Hell, I hope I don't sleepwalk."

There was a playful edge to Hermione's reply coming from the tent's common area. "We'll just have to zip up the sleeping bag a little higher."

"Hah," said Bellatrix while washing the soap off her skin. "We'll be very close."

"And this is a complaint?" sounded from the other side of the tent.

Now feeling much cleaner and relaxed, Bellatrix wrapped a towel around her body and stepped out of the shower. On the table were the cans, one can of spam opened and partially consumed by Hermione while she was in the shower. Bellatrix was about to open her own can, when she heard Hermione behind her.

"Trix," sounded from Hermione. Her name was spoken with a hushed tone, belying amorous intent. When she turned her head, Bellatrix laid her eyes on Hermione, now lying in the sleeping bag. Bare shoulders sticking out from sleeping bag indicated that she wasn't wearing her pyjamas... or anything else. The smile on her face was playful, inviting and endlessly alluring.

Alluring? That was an understatement. Lying there on her side partially covered by the sleeping bag, wavy brown hair cascading over her form, Hermione reminded Bellatrix of the sirens of old. Not to mention that seeing her like that had quite an effect on the curly-haired witch.

Truth be told, Hermione was everything Bellatrix wanted in a woman: she was an intelligent, challenging foil with an air of mystery about her. How could she not be? Hermione was from the future, after all. And aside from that not-so-minor detail, she could think of nobody else with the wits or drive to actually manage to share this adventure of a lifetime with her. That she was also beautiful was simply the icing on the cake.

Sure, she'd be lying if she didn't still have the pure-blood beliefs she was raised with nagging in the back of her mind about how Hermione's lack of blood purity made her imperfect and inferior.

Well... nobody was perfect, least of all Bellatrix herself. And inferior? To call Hermione inferior would be in insult to the practice of magic itself. No, she was past this. Considering what the two of them had shared the previous night and would very soon share again, she was very much past this.

The only thing between them was a time-difference of thirty years. Though Bellatrix had a thing for older women... Hermione was two years older than herself, after all... a thirty year gap in the wrong direction did give her pause. And then there was the matter that, even though she claimed otherwise, Bellatrix both feared and desired to know her own future. Bellatrix wasn't stupid: she realized there was more to Hermione wanting her to join her in 1998 other than simple love and desire. No, she knew something. And it likely meant nothing good for her. In a vacuum, that would reason enough to join her in 1998. But she wasn't in a vacuum. She had family and loved ones to worry about. Merlin, why did this have to be so difficult?

Perhaps she couldn't question it too much. Perhaps she should enjoy the moment for as long as it would last. Perhaps she should simply jump into the sleeping bag with Hermione and give her a right royal seeing to.

Yes. That last bit sounded pretty good right now and would likely cancel out any other thoughts for a time at least.

"You know," said Bellatrix. "I think I'll skip dinner tonight in favour of a big breakfast."

"You sure?" Hermione said, suddenly concerned. "I'll be happy to wait."

"Oh," Bellatrix smirked. "I'd rather have something else to snack on."

A slight blush crossed Hermione's features, but her confident smile betrayed the fact that she was very pleased. Hermione patted the empty side of the sleeping bag invitingly, to which Bellatrix responded by simply dropping her towel to the ground. She found the admiring looks from Hermione quite gratifying as she strode towards her and dove into the sleeping bag and into Hermione's waiting arms.

Hermione's eager giggles were like music. Their bodies pressed together, their lips touched and Bellatrix steered her towards the depths of pleasure with profound eagerness.

Hermione lay panting in their sleeping bag, arms wrapped firmly around Bellatrix's bare waist as they lay on their sides and gazing in each other's eyes. She simply couldn't resist another kiss, something Bellatrix was only too quickly to indulge her in. Hermione smiled when Trix's hand slid through her hair. "My," spoke Bellatrix with a throaty voice. "You've certainly become more daring since last night."

"I'm a quick study," Hermione allowed a smirk of her own, something the curly-haired witch seemed to appreciate.

"Really?" Bellatrix chuckled. "It seems to me like you were... self-taught."

"Trix!" Hermione scowled, barely able to conceal her blush. Ever since Bellatrix had found out that she had had, well, been enjoying the pleasure of her own company while having lewd thoughts about her, she had started to tease her with this little fact. Still, the curly-haired witch let out a hearty laugh.

"If it makes you feel any better," Bellatrix winked. "You're not the only one..."

Somehow, that was oddly gratifying to know. "Honestly?" said Hermione. "I'm surprised. I'm not really a pretty girl. Or outgoing. Or even interesting in any way."

"Stop it," Bellatrix pressed. "Either you're just fishing for compliments or you're having self-esteem issues. You're all of those three things and very clever. It takes a lot to catch my attention."

Hermione smiled in spite of herself and lost herself in their embrace for a moment, closing her eyes and opening them again just in time to see Bellatrix lean in for another brush of lips. "Hm," said Hermione. "I have lot of issues, self-esteem among them."

"You're not the only one with issues," laughed Bellatrix. "Oh, dear, if my father could see the two of us together, naked and recovering from the most heavenly of lovemaking in our family tent, he'd... he'd probably kill you, come to think of it. Hm, that rather puts a damper on the funny joke I was trying to make."

"He'd kill me?" Hermione sighed. "Because I'm muggle-born?"

That made her sad, really.

"No... Mostly he'd probably kill you because you 'defiled and debauched' his eldest daughter at the eve of her perfect pure-blood wedding," Bellatrix giggled for a moment. "Come on, you know how fathers are."

"But you're not a virgin!"

"Do you really think he'd care about such details?"

"Fine, fine..."

"Well, how would your father deal with catching us naked after a naughty sleeping bag session?" Bellatrix asked.

The very thought alone made Hermione blanch. Oh no, her dad definitely wouldn't be happy. "Hm, well, if you were a boy, he might kill you. Just like your dad might kill me. But since you're a girl, I think that might very much confuse him. I have no doubt that he'd like you, though, after he gets over the initial shock of his little girl, well, being involved with a girl."

"Oh?" Bellatrix asked, seemingly intrigued.

"Like you, my dad enjoys stories of the macabre. You two will have a lot to talk about," Hermione chuckled. "Perhaps even too much. I just bet he would try to introduce you to all the things he loves. And honestly, I think he'd love you."

"Hm," chuckled Bellatrix, again stroking her hair. "I think I would like to meet him."

"Well," Hermione said. "There's one way to..."

Bellatrix let out a groan and gave her a dangerous look. "Don't ruin the mood by mentioning 1998 again."

Hermione gave her a half-smile. "Right, sorry I brought it up," she started. "It's just that... I've always made sacrifices for others in my life, but this time? This time I want to be selfish. I want you all for myself, regardless of the consequences. Regardless of what anyone thinks. I want you more than anything and I am willing to go through extraordinary lengths to claim you for myself."

"My, my, my," smirked Bellatrix. "How very... Slytherin... of you. Honestly, I think you'd do well in Slytherin, Hermie."

Hermione let her hand slide over Bellatrix's side, over her stomach and found perch on one of her breasts. Slowly and playfully kneading, she was delighted to hear Bellatrix's breath quicken. "You make me feel like myself again," Hermione spoke softly and sincerely. "I want that feeling to continue. I... need that feeling to continue."

"It's okay to be selfish," replied Bellatrix. "We wouldn't be here if we weren't. Now, scoot over."

Hermione gave her a questioning look when her young lover was pushing Hermione to lay on her side, facing away from her. The reason why became clear when she wrapped her arms around her. "You get to be the little spoon tonight, Hermie."

"Trix..." whispered Hermione, right before she slipped into the most comfortable night of sleep she had had in months.