His laugh was so icy cold...
Sometimes, she wanted to shiver from it. Here was a different man to the one who slept beside her, so heated from passions and desires and from love-making. Often she wondered exactly what was going through his mind at moments like this, when he was sat down, surrounded by his most faithful followers, the reigning monarch. And even as those men sat there, so certain that they were safe, she knew that they were not safe. At any moment he could turn on them: a raise of his hand; a flash of green light and they would be dead, no one able to do a thing about it.
How they all laughed as they carelessly watched the scene in front of them unfold, as muggle men and women from all across the country had been brought to the manor, each one begging and pleading with their captors before they were tortured and played with and then murdered. All for what? she wondered. To ascertain their power? Because they thought it was a most excellent game? Every man in the room seemed to be enjoying himself.
The men seated, the important ones, continued their conversations with one and other as if they were in a club; drinking liqueur, smoking their cigars and watching the resident women dance together. The one with the coldest laugh, the one with the red eyes was clearly the leader; he held himself with such grace and dignity it was clear to all. He drank his wine the slowest, each sip he savoured as if it was the most beautiful thing he had ever tasted. Every so often, his gaze slipped away from those around him, or those before him, towards the darkened corner of the room, his smile changing slightly to a frown of disdain.
Bellatrix found to be enjoying herself, apart from the crowd, watching her husband in all of his glory. She suspected he was not so pleased she had chosen to stay away, she knew it was her duty to be beside him but for once taking a step back seemed so natural and right; here was her chance to watch from the wings, to see her husband from an older perspective, from a distance she could not remember seeing him from for long years.
What was this? There was someone approaching her. Someone sent by him. She drew herself to her full height, holding her wine glass up, narrowing her eyes as she looked back toward the muggles. It was Rodolphus. He looked sorry for himself, and she felt sorry for him. His love for her was driving him mad, her husband knew this and used it; and then enjoyed it and made everything worse.
But wasn't that his prerogative? The Dark Lord could easily do as he pleased, he was all-powerful now. He could freely reward and punish and none could go against his wishes. Here, he was God.
Rodolphus was beside her now. She could see the golden broach presented to him that evening on his robe shining in what light there was where they stood.
"The Dark Lord wishes for you to sit with him," Rodolphus told her quietly. "I wish it too."
It was Bellatrix's turn to laugh, scorning him and his foolish words. "You think I should care what you wish?" she asked spitefully.
Rodolphus merely stared at her for a few moments, his gaze completely cool. Then, as if he had no care in the world, he grinned. "No, but I should think you would care for what the Dark Lord wished." He turned on his heel and began to walk away from her.
Bellatrix returned her gaze to the muggles before her. Those lesser men, the ones torturing and playing, were clearly hoping to impress. Little did they know... There would be no more rewards tonight. The favours had been handed out. She glanced down at the glittering necklace about her neck, her reward: giant emeralds dipped in silver, each one growing progressively larger until they met in the middle. It was there that a silver mould of the same mark that was burned onto her arm hung. Silver was naturally a more favoured colour in this sphere since it was the second colour of her husband's ancestors, the Slytherin's; a family in which every man of power in the room favoured and respected.
Slowly and deliberately, she raised her gaze back to where her husband was sitting. He was staring at her now, but looked away when he realised she had seen. She smiled to herself as she walked across the room to him and his highest. As she reached him, she dropped down into a curtsey, knowing she must be respectful of him when he was in a mood such as this. The weight of the jewel encrusted necklace hung heavily about her neck, much heavier than the golden dark mark broaches all of the men sitting around the Dark Lord now wore.
The inner circle, as they were now to be known. The Dark Lord's most valued, trusted and loyal 'friends'; a word Bellatrix knew he used without much meaning behind. They were not traditional friends. They were servants, made to believe that they were much more important than they actually were. Tonight was the night that their great reward had been revealed to them, a night where they could enjoy their new found power. Bellatrix was not so naive. She knew her husband well enough to know what this really was. Artistic coercion, hidden pressure. Enough to make a man want more and to go to any lengths to do as required to gain more.
Part of her wondered if that was what he had done to her, although as she straightened up and glanced back at him, she saw his eyes had changed. They were warmer. It only lasted for a split second, but she knew his eyes didn't lie.
"Well?" Voldemort questioned, looking about him. "Isn't anyone going to offer the lady a seat?"
Bellatrix didn't look away from him, even as she moved towards the chair next to her husband that had now been vacated for her. Slowly, she sunk down, sitting her glass on the small table that was next to her. She noticed that his broach was silver too, and the eyes of the snake were made from gleaming emeralds, just like her necklace.
"You are quiet this evening, Bella," Voldemort said softly, so only those closest could hear, even though the din in the room continued.
"I have been... Thoughtful, of my new responsibilities, my Lord," she responded, her fingers touching her necklace once more.
"Aahh." He smiled coolly. "You are fond of your newest trinket?"
"As fond as I am of any trinket give to me by my most gracious Lord," Bellatrix replied, smiling fully towards him now. "I hardly feel deserving of it."
His laugh echoed from the walls and bounced from the ceiling, as cold as it had first been during the evening. "Undeserving, Bella?" he said, continuing to laugh. "Aah, my friends, do you hear this? Do you agree she is undeserving?"
Bellatrix looked around her: Lucius was unmoving; Evan was laughing too; Rodolphus stared like a love sick puppy. The others were shaking their heads and talking in surprise to each other.
Voldemort moved closer to her and whispered in her ear. "I wanted it to be a crown, my love... My wife... How little they know, foolish men, so easily manipulated..." He moved back from her, smirking in pleasure for a moment. Bellatrix smiled back, so she had been right.
"And how well I know you, husband," she whispered back. "My Tom."
He pressed a finger against her lips for a second. "Have care," he told her sharply.
Bellatrix moved forwards, biting the tip of his finger for a moment. "Always," she breathed back.
Voldemort chuckled, sitting back in his seat, picking up his glass and swirling the burgundy liquid around, apparently loosing himself in his thoughts once more. Bellatrix couldn't take her eyes off him, he was so elegant, with long fingers curled loosely around the expensive crystal and thick eyelashes lining his ruby eyes, making him the epitome of sexiness.
A short while later, she realised the room was silent of screams. She looked up, noticing the final muggle had fallen dead. Bellatrix laughed softly. "We appear to have run out of entertainment," she remarked.
Voldemort fell from his reverie, glancing around him and seeing the torturers standing together now, two of them comparing knife blades, the others watching with interest.
"Then, Bella, perhaps you should make us some entertainment," Voldemort told her.
"What would you have me do?" she asked, feeling confident she knew what he wanted.
"I could think of a thing or two..." someone behind her sneered.
"Silence, Mulciber," Voldemort hissed, not even turning around. Bellatrix looked over her shoulder to see the man's eye's widen as he realised the Dark Lord had recognised him from just those few words.
"If you wish to get laid there are some dead muggles over there," Bellatrix told Mulciber, a small smile upon her lips. She turned back to the front. "I doubt you'll find anyone else willing to do the deed with you." Most people laughed at her comments. Mulciber didn't. Bellatrix was not inclined to care.
"Are you even old enough to do magic outside of school?" Mulciber retorted angrily, enraged at being outwardly insulted by a woman.
Bellatrix rolled her eyes. She could see Voldemort gripping his wand. She looked him in the eye for a split second before turning back around to Mulciber.
"Have I offended you in some way?" she asked with sarcasm. "Or are you naturally a sexist pig?" Mulciber opened his mouth to retort but Bellatrix hadn't finished. "It's just that you, and not just you, all of you, make such sexist comments, all of the time... Quite bewildering really... Perhaps... Is it because I could beat any one of you in a duel and make you want to fuck me at the same time? Or is it because I have pleased the Dark Lord in ways that you can not, no matter how hard you try?"
Even Voldemort was looking at her in surprise.
"Now, entertainment..." She looked over to the two men comparing knife sizes and flicked her wand towards them, silently. Their knives flew from their hands, somersaulted a few times before they landed blade down, impaling their skulls. Each man fell to the ground, bleeding, dead.
Voldemort stood up, the rest of the group sitting followed, Bellatrix included. "Enough!" he called sharply. "I grow weary. It is late, the sun will rise once more within minutes." He turned to Bellatrix, holding his hand out to her, which she took gladly. The gesture was not missed by anyone. He was making it clear who his favourite was, clearer than the crystal from which they all drank.
Without another word, he led his wife from the room.
"You are in a strange mood this evening, Bella," he said just as soon as they were safely in their rooms. "What is the matter?"
Bellatrix turned toward him. "I feel numb," she murmured.
"Why?" he said, putting his hands on her shoulders.
"I am bleeding," she told him bluntly. "No need for a test tomorrow. I am not pregnant."
Voldemort's face didn't change, he didn't move. "Not pregnant."
There was silence. Bellatrix hadn't dared think about it all night. She couldn't decide if she was pleased about this fact or not. It would have been awful timing, but over the last few days she had started to warm to the idea, even though she could feel no sign of life within her. Now she knew she was not, she wondered if there would ever be a good time for them to have a child.
All of a sudden, she felt his strong arms around her. She felt tears rushing forwards, her chin wobbling as she tried to keep her emotions at bay and then quite suddenly she exploded, crying openly into his chest. Every thought came forwards, this scare, Abraxas, those stupid death eaters constantly putting her down, Rodolphus Lestrange, Andromeda, her mother... Everything wrong caught up inside of her was coming out in the only way it knew how to, through salty tears.
"I'm so sorry," she sobbed into his robes. "I've worried you, all for nothing!"
"Hush," he murmured, unusually tender. He hated tears, especially her tears, because her tears made him feel. And when he felt, the remaining soul inside of him rose up, as if it was trying to escape through his chest, breaking bones and ripping his flesh open. Everything about her was so human, everything she had within her was what he had destroyed from himself in his search for power.
"You are too young to be a mother, my beautiful wife, I didn't want it for you now, not for years yet, my darling," he told her, his breathing deepening as he could feel the swirling inside of him increase. This isn't remorse, he told himself. This was not remorse. It was reflection. It was this strange love he had for her. He needed it to stop, so he pushed her away from him slightly. Seeing her tear stained face caused another jolt through him. He hated it.
"I love you, Tom," she told him, unaware of what she was doing to him.
Her eyes were threatening to spill over again at any moment. He knew he shouldn't even think it, let alone say it, but he had too, he needed too... "I love-" But he couldn't. It hurt too much, inside. He placed a hand on his chest, gasping for breath, certain that he had pushed this tiny piece of soul too far and that it was all over - he was dying.
"Tom?" Bellatrix whispered, looking up at him, tears falling once more. "Why can't you say it?" When he didn't respond, she continued to speak. "You don't love me, do you? I've always wondered it, alwa-"
"Bella!" Voldemort gasped, staggering backwards. "Stop it!"
"Stop what!" Bellatrix asked shrilly.
"There is a reason I have never explained the Horcrux's to you," he told her quietly.
"What do those have to do with this?" she said, watching him in confusion.
Voldemort moved slowly across the room and sat down, hating this weakness. "I have told you before, have I not, about how I should not love you?"
Bellatrix slowly nodded, before following him and sitting down next to him.
"It should... Break me, inside out... And just then, I think it almost did." He leant towards her. "I would say it every minute if I could, but I dare not, I dare not even think it."
He stroked her cheek with the back of his index finger. Bellatrix leant into his touch, closing her eyes. "Then don't," she said simply. "I would be a fool not to know it."
They stared at each other, and Bellatrix realised her life with him was never going to be a simple one.
Bellatrix was stood in a midnight meeting a few days later, fearing for her life. Her husband, sat like the God he was in his throne, had already killed two people in the last ten minutes and she was wondering who was going to be next.
The expression on his face was frightening, although Bellatrix found it to be a rather sexy as well. His features were blank but his eyes glittered angrily, he hadn't moved or spoken for the last few minutes, he just stared towards the door, deep in contemplation. Every so often, someone in the room would twitch nervously, looking across the circle to where someone had dropped down dead from the Dark Lord's fury.
He was in one of those moods where no one in the room was safe, and Bellatrix was quite sure that included her at that moment. Every time she dared look up at him, she quickly lost all confidence and looked back to the floor.
Quite suddenly, a beam of green light sped across the hall and hit someone dead in the chest. Bellatrix jumped as whoever it was fell to the floor with an audible thump. She inhaled sharply, peeping up through her eyelashes to her husband, who was allowing his anger to show on his face now. His mouth was clamped tightly shut, his eyes glowing such a bright red, Bellatrix was sure he would be able to light up a darkened room.
Bellatrix glanced to Evan to see his reaction, and realised his gaze hadn't left the floor and neither was it going to.
She must have blinked and missed the green light, because the man next to Evan was now on the floor. Evan was visibly shaking, still not daring to move even though the dead man's hand was on his foot.
There was another green light flying towards someone opposite her, and then an unspeakable pain racked her body, causing her to cry out and fall to the ground. As she tried to look at her husband, she realised everyone still left alive in the room was also on the floor, some screaming and some silent.
And then the pain was gone once more, and the Dark Lord was on his feet, moving towards them like a predator coming for his dinner.
No one had dared get back up; no one wanted to be the first on his feet and risk drawing attention to themselves.
"You are all fucking useless," she heard Voldemort say sharply. She rolled over slightly, looking up at him, feeling scared now. She knew her husband hated profanities, he was really very angry. "Disrespectful." She saw him kicking someone over onto their back before the hastily looked away from him. "Those men I have killed are the one's with the least use to me. They have served as a lesson to all of you who are fortunate enough to be of value."
She felt her stomach fluttering with desire, just the sound of his voice in this situation was about to make her wild for him.
She screamed again, and wasn't the only one, as sharp pain overtook her entire body, hoping with every fibre this meeting would be over in the very near future.
"How dare you come to me with news of failure!" Voldemort shouted coldly. "I am inclined to think, after this sorry show this evening, that not one of you has any good news to share with me. It is not acceptable!"
Bellatrix could see him coming towards her now, she wasn't sure what do and in panic she ended up looking straight into his eyes. She regretted it instantly, breathing heavily as she knew he had seen the desire in her eyes. She looked away, anywhere but where he was. He passed on from her.
"And after I honoured so many of you, in this room, with a place in my inner circle. I reward you with power and influence, and this is how I am repaid?"
The room was completely silent, apart from the gentle clicking of his footsteps as he toured the room.
"There will be no more reward until I see some results. I have been lenient. I am a merciful Lord."
His footsteps had stopped. Bellatrix opened her eyes carefully, seeing him stood in the middle of the circle.
"On your fucking knees, all of you," he snarled suddenly angry again. There was a mad scramble as everyone tried to kneel as quickly as they could. Bellatrix pulled herself up, sitting on the back of her legs, staring directly at the floor. "I will be respected!" he continued. "I will see each and every one of you on your knees before me more often! It is time you all remembered who your master is."
There was a long and uncomfortable silence in the room now. No one dared move, not even Bellatrix. After a couple of minutes of wondering when this was going to end, Voldemort finally spoke once more.
"Get out of my house, all of you," he said, his tone clipped.
Panic overtook Bellatrix once more. This was where she lived, she couldn't just get out because she had no where else to go. She couldn't apparate inside of the house, room to room, the wards didn't allow it. Everyone around her was disapparating, Evan had already gone without so much as a word. The room was pretty much empty within about ten seconds, Bellatrix made to stand up and run for it when her husband spoke.
"Where do you think you are going?" he asked, his tone slightly warmer although by no means back to normal.
Bellatrix jumped, looking up at him momentarily before she dropped back to her knees. "I thought you wished to be alone, my Lord. You said all of us were to leave."
Voldemort was moving closer to her, she could just sense it. "'All' does not include you, Bella." He walked around her very slowly, and Bellatrix was certain he was now inspecting her ruined hair with displeasure. It was his own fault, she decided, and then regretted that thought entering her head when he could so easily read her thoughts. Luckily he didn't appear to have.
"My apologies, my Lord," Bellatrix muttered, shaking nervously.
"Perhaps your apologies shouldn't be for that fault," Voldemort said softly, coming to a stop directly in front of her. "Perhaps your apologies should be for being aroused when you are being punished by me."
Bellatrix's gaze snapped up to his in surprise. "But was I really being punished, my Lord?" she asked quietly.
Voldemort chuckled. "No, I suppose not. You always please me."
He took a step closer to her, filling up most of the distance between them. As she felt his hand in her hair, she suddenly realised that his crotch was now directly in front of her face. She swallowed, her stomach somersaulting once more.
"Master, you cannot blame me for being aroused," Bellatrix murmured, knowing that the use of the word 'master' was going to turn him on instantly, if he wasn't already.
"Who should I blame then?" he asked with a smirk, knowing the answer already and knowing what she was trying to do. She needn't have bothered.
"Yourself," Bellatrix responded, wondering if she was pushing him a bit too hard for his present mood.
"Myself?" Voldemort said coolly, and Bellatrix was suddenly aware of his robes parting. "So fucking disrespectful, Bella..." She could hear a zip moving and then suddenly she found herself being lifted slightly by her hair. "Open your fucking mouth," he hissed, slapping her face with his free hand.
Bellatrix did as she was told, and she moaned when she found her mouth to be full of him. His grip on her hair was tighter, he pulled her forwards and back a few times before he released his hold on her, knowing she didn't need any help in pleasing him. It didn't take long for her to finish the job, he'd been full of desire ever since he saw the look in her eyes.
With a final lick, Bellatrix pulled away from him, looking up at him, wondering if he was feeling better. Her husband smiled down at her, and Bellatrix was relieved. She stood up, the movement quite painful after two bouts of the cruciatus curse. Hardly thinking, she looped her hands around his neck and kissed him, so hard and so passionately, but there really was no other was of expressing her love for him.
"You are too sexy, Tom Riddle," she informed him breathlessly.
"So you tell me," Voldemort responded, grabbing her by the head and pulling her in for another kiss.
An owl suddenly flew through the open window, dropping a letter and flying back out again. Voldemort picked it up and read it, his expressing becoming serious once again.
"Abraxas is dead," he told Bellatrix quietly.
Bellatrix glanced to the ground, feeling sad for her sister as Bellatrix knew she had spent the last few months caring for Abraxas and had grown fond of him, but at the same time knowing she mustn't feel remorseful about it as her husband had needed to get rid of Abraxas.
Voldemort was smiling. He tilted her chin up and kissed her once more. "And so, it is done. I have nothing to fear."
He kissed her for the last time, before he took her by the hand and began to lead her from the room. "Come, Bella, we must celebrate."
Bellatrix felt very surprised at how callous he was being about the whole affair, but didn't dare say a word; after a meeting in which five men had died for no apparent reason she didn't think it wise.