Panting, Bellatrix turned around, doubling over as another wave of pain hit her.
Please, no, she thought, straightening up as the pain subsided.
Pushing herself to make it to the door, Bellatrix opened it, glancing around her. She didn't know where she was going. Hastily, she mounted the stairs before any more pain came, aiming to find the first bedroom she could. At the top of the dark stairs were several doors. The first one she tried was another sitting room. The second one was a bedroom though, and she was glad to see it had an adjoining bathroom. Shutting the door behind her, she raised a hand, lighting the candles.
Her vision blurred as another spasm hit her. Was this a contraction? she wondered to herself. The pain felt just like Narcissa had described. A contraction, at this time?
Crying out, Bellatrix dragged herself into the bathroom. In the mirror, she caught sight of a red stain appearing at the back of her dress.
"No, no, no," she screamed, tears pouring down her cheeks. She didn't want Rodolphus to hear. She had no idea where he was, but she didn't want him with her. Raising her wand, she managed to cast a muffling charm around the room.
It hurt. Her back, her front, everything hurt.
She pulled up her dress, sobbing uncontrollably as she felt something leaving her body. She shut her eyes, she couldn't bear to see it. Her head spun, she couldn't see around her properly. Her knees were shaking; she toppled forwards, bashing her head against the wall. As she hit the floor, panting, staring at the ceiling that was spinning around her, she wanted to die.
She missed Voldemort so much. She wanted him here. She needed him with her.
"Tom..." she whispered.
"Bella!" she heard him saying above her. "Bella, are you alright?"
"No, no I'm not alright," she told him.
Strong arms moved around her, lifting her head into his lap.
"It's going to be fine, Bella," he murmured in her ear, stroking her hair. "I promise."
"Our baby..." Bellatrix said horsely, tears still pouring down her cheeks.
"I know," he told her softly, his red eyes glowing above her. "This is my fault. I have put you under this stress."
Bellatrix's chest heaved as more tears poured from her eyes. Her entire body hurt, this was worse than the cruciatus curse. Her head throbbed. She touched the painful spot on her head, feeling sticky blood on her fingers for a moment, before she fell unconscious.
"...Bellatrix? Bellatrix, wake up..."
Bellatrix opened her eyes. Her head hurt.
The half concerned face of Rodolphus was looking down on her. He watched as she struggled to sit up, not offering his hand to help her.
Looking down, she saw the blood around her. She wanted to be sick.
She looked away from it, pushing Rodolphus out of the bathroom and shutting the door behind them. She wanted to forget it was there. Rodolphus could clean it up.
For the first time, Rodolphus was speechless.
"Save it," Bellatrix told him, turning away from him. She spotted a set of robes on the bed, with a black carrier bag next to them.
"You should go to St Mungo's," he told her flatly.
"What's the point?" she asked. "It's too late."
She picked up the robes and the bag. "I trust you have another bathroom?" she said coolly.
Rodolphus nodded. "The room across the hall has a very large bath and shower unit," he told her quietly.
Bellatrix nodded. "Good." She turned and headed for the door, fully aware of the blood stained dress she was wearing. When she reached the door, she paused, turning back to him briefly. "Owl Malfoy, and the others. I want everyone that hasn't bailed here. As soon as possible."
Rodolphus's eyes were wide. "Surely not... Not today," he said softly.
"No time like the present. The sooner my husband returns, the better for all of us." Shooting him a glare, she turned and shut the door firmly behind her, stepping across the hallway to the bathroom.
Slowly, she removed her dress, throwing it into the bathtub and running the water. She turned to the shower, turning it on to full heat. With a flick of her hand, the water stopped running from the bath, and she stepped into the shower.
The water ran from her in a funny shade of orange. Breathing heavily, she looked up at the ceiling until she could feel the stickiness subsiding. Her head was still throbbing. It stung as the water reached her wound, but the pain inside was worse.
"Help me, Tom," she murmured, looking down at her forearm. It was still clear. "I need to get you back. I don't know where to start."
She rested her head against the glass of the shower. "Think," she told herself firmly.
Every time a coherent thought reached her mind, it vanished a moment later. Her baby was at the front of her mind. She had lost their baby. Gone.
Like he was.
At the bottom of the bag Rodolphus had left her was the wedding ring. It was just a plain band of gold, but no one would know that. No one would remember. The one she was wearing now was her real ring, from her real husband.
She left it in the bag.
Gazing into the half steamed up mirror, Bellatrix raised her wand to her face, tapping her cheek lightly. Her usual make up appeared on her face, immaculate and beautiful. With a sigh, she turned around. Her beauty didn't matter to her now.
Heading downstairs, she could hear voices from one of the rooms she had yet to go in. Pausing outside, to make sure she had her wand, Bellatrix opened the door and entered.
The voices silenced immediately. This was evidentially Rodolphus's favourite room, as he was sat back in his seat, one foot on the table, smoking. By the look of the room, the thick haze, it was clear he hadn't stopped for quite some hours. Standing by the window was Rabastan, and sat down in the armchair nearest to Bellatrix was another woman Bellatrix could recall seeing before, and yesterday, but she wasn't sure who she was.
Rodolphus leapt up, walking toward her hastily. "Bellatrix," he said, trying to put an arm around her. Bellatrix ducked out of the way, moving towards the drinks cabinet and pouring herself of a glass of the first thing she could lay her hands on. No bloody wine to be seen, she thought angrily.
"This is Rabastan's wife," Rodolphus said, sitting back down in defeat. "Ashlyn."
Bellatrix turned back around, looking down to the woman who looked slightly afraid to be face-to-face with Bellatrix for the first time. She was plain, dirty blonde hair hung around her shoulders and she didn't wear any make up. Bellatrix knew they weren't going to get along instantly.
"Poor thing," she drawled sarcastically.
Rabastan scowled at her, to which Bellatrix merely smiled.
"Did you owl Malfoy?" she asked Rodolphus.
Rodolphus nodded briefly.
"Why are you letting her order you around?" Rabastan asked Rodolphus, stepping forwards, picking up a cigarette from the ashtray and taking a puff.
"Because she isn't mine to order," Rodolphus replied bitterly, his eyes not leaving Bellatrix.
"You paid enough for her," Rabastan spat, glaring at Bellatrix.
"No amount of money would change who she belongs too, Rabastan, you know that," Rodolphus replied quietly. "She has always been the Dark Lord's second."
"You were, once," Rabastan retorted. "She took that from you. Not that a woman should be allowed in a position of power."
Bellatrix finished her drink, reaching towards the bottle and topping up. Whatever it was, it was strong, and she needed a stiff drink inside of her.
"You really are a sexist man, Lestrange," she told him, looking back down to Ashlyn. "You poor woman."
"She knows her place," Rabastan retorted. "Below me. Below every man."
"The Dark Lord doesn't like that," Bellatrix murmured. "He has often told me about how you treat her."
"Will you shut up?" Ashlyn snapped at her.
"Why?" Bellatrix asked. "There are so many spells I could teach you. He would never touch you again. You'd be able to go and get yourself a boyfriend for on the side."
Rabastan whipped out his wand, aiming at her and screaming "Crucio!"
Bellatrix ducked, and it hit the wall.
"Do you mind?" Rodolphus bellowed as a large hole appeared in the wall. "Rabastan, I have not invited you here for this. Bellatrix is our leader whilst the Dark Lord is away. You will respect her."
"That's not what you were saying last week," Rabastan sneered.
The door opened and Lucius walked in, surveying the scene coldly.
"Lestrange, there appears to be a large hole in your wall," he said, smirking. As he stepped forwards, Bellatrix noticed the bottle of wine in his hand. She almost wanted to kiss him.
"Well observed," Rodolphus snapped, turning his back to Lucius, lighting another cigarette. He dragged Rabastan into the corner, talking angrily with him in a hushed tone. Bellatrix was relieved at the distraction, and Lucius came over to her quickly.
"Narcissa thought you would need this," Lucius said softly, handing the bottle to her. He glanced towards the Lestrange's, before looking back to her. "She wanted me to tell you that she begged your mother not to make you marry him."
"I'm not married to him," Bellatrix muttered. "The magic didn't work. Rodolphus knows it." She held up her hand to him, showing him her wedding ring. "See? This proves that my husband is out there still. We must find him."
Lucius nodded. For the first time, she felt like he was actually going to take her seriously. Hastily, Bellatrix turned around to the cabinet, pulling out two wine glasses. She glanced over to Ashlyn.
"Wine?" she asked coolly.
Ashlyn shrugged. "Better not."
Bellatrix turned back to Lucius. "She's a prisoner."
"So are you," Lucius responded. "My house is open to you. Now you have your wand back, you can apparate straight in. I have altered the wards."
With a nod, Bellatrix poured the wine. Rodolphus and Rabastan were still talking, well away from earshot.
"I'll come. I don't trust Rabastan," Bellatrix replied. "I don't trust many people right now."
Lucius briefly pressed his hand on hers. "You're my sister. The Dark Lord is my brother."
Bellatrix's face fell for a moment as her eyes burnt, tears threatening to spill down her cheeks. "Merlin, Lucius, I can't live without him," Bellatrix murmured, looking down at the ground. "I can't stay here. He's going to hate me when he comes back now."
Lucius looked startled, he had never seen Bellatrix cry before. He pressed the glass into her hand. Hastily, Bellatrix drank it, but even the taste of the red liquid reminded her of Voldemort.
"Rodolphus," Lucius called, stepping across the room. "Narcissa has not been well. I do not wish to leave her alone for much longer."
Bellatrix turned around. "I shall come with you, Malfoy, I don't trust you to look after her," she said. Voldemort always had told her she was good at improvising, and apparently so was Lucius.
"I don't think you should go anywhere," Rodolphus told her, his eyes narrowed.
"I should be with my sister," Bellatrix replied, stepping towards him. "I have just lost my baby," she murmured, close to him, so only he could hear. "You are the last person I want to be with right now."
Rodolphus scowled, but turned around, away from her, sitting down.
"Leave me that wine, won't you," Bellatrix said, as she followed Lucius out of the room.
"Pathetic, Rodolphus," she heard Rabastan say as the door shut.
"Thank you, Lucius," she murmured as they apparated to his house.
Lucius nodded, leading her into the parlour. "We will go to Narcissa after our discussion. She doesn't need to be privy to this."
Bellatrix shook her head. "No, she doesn't," she responded. After a long pause, Bellatrix looked to Lucius. "Please don't tell my sister this," Bellatrix began. "Last night, I miscarried."
Silently, Lucius stood up and poured her a glass of wine, placing it in her hand. "How far along were you?" Lucius asked her after a while.
"I'm not sure," Bellatrix responded flatly. "He doesn't know."
Lucius sat down in front of her, his guard completely down. Bellatrix couldn't remember feeling this comfortable around him before.
"I'm sorry," he murmured. "We tried to help with this ridiculous new marriage. We tried to stop it. I would have paid what Rodolphus did, to stop it. Your mother wouldn't allow it. She said I had already given them my share and that now it was your turn."
"My husband was always giving them money," Bellatrix said, knocking back her wine quickly. "My mother hates me. She wanted to humiliate me, because I am sure she feels humiliated by me. I was never a good daughter, not like Narcissa."
Lucius smiled. "But Narcissa is only a good daughter because it is the way she is. You aren't like her. You're a brilliant witch."
Bellatrix sighed. "I can't get into the manor." She was up again, pacing around. "Shadow will be dead by now. She will have starved." She reached the window, and paused, bursting into tears once more. "Everything I loved has gone. Everything."
Lucius watched her from the sofa, unable to comfort her. He didn't know how too. Bellatrix knew the only person that could ever comfort her was Voldemort.
"We'll find him," said Lucius quietly.
"How?" Bellatrix asked, spinning around, staring at him. "How will we find him? We were the two closest to him. We have no idea." She paused, pacing around again. "Was the house completely destroyed?"
"Yes," Lucius replied. "Completely. James and Lily are gone, the baby still lives. He apparently has a scar on his forehead. Shaped like lightening."
Bellatrix scowled. "How could a baby defeat him?" she snarled. "A baby. Draco's age." She turned back to the wine, pouring herself a very large glass. Pulling herself together, she turned back to Lucius. "Lightening shaped. It sounds like a curse hit him."
"No one could survive the killing curse," Lucius muttered.
"No one we know of," Bellatrix replied. "It hasn't happened before, but it doesn't make it impossible. Dumbledore must have placed some protection over the baby. It's the only way. The spell must have rebound."
"That would have killed our Lord," Lucius replied quickly. "It can't have been that."
"He has taken steps towards immortality, Lucius," Bellatrix snapped. "He can't die. I know the magic. It's not possible. He's out there, perhaps without a body, perhaps living in other beings. The point is, he is alone, and that needs to change as soon as possible."
"It would be impossible to just go out looking for him," Lucius said, frowning. "He could be anywhere in the world. He's traveled to every country."
"Maybe Dumbledore knows," Bellatrix said, her face lighting up. "If we can get to some from his precious order, we can extract the information from them."
The door behind them opened, and Narcissa entered, the young Draco in her arms. "Bellatrix!" she said, happy to see her sister. "Are you alright?"
Bellatrix smiled, nodding briefly.
"Do you want to hold Draco?" Narcissa asked, stepping forwards. Lucius looked as if he was going to protest, in case it would upset her, but Bellatrix stepped forwards eagerly, taking the small boy in her arms. He smiled up at her, tugging at her hair.
"He's so blond," Bellatrix said, grinning down at the baby.
"Takes after his daddy," Narcissa said, sitting down next to Lucius and kissing him. Lucius smiled adoringly at her. "I'm glad you're here. I'm tired. He's a handful at the moment."
Bellatrix sat down, bouncing Draco on her knee. The boy laughed, and it was such a lovely sound. It made Bellatrix smile. She couldn't remember laughing.
"How was last night?" Narcissa asked softly after a moment.
"Fine. Lestrange knows we aren't honestly married. The magic, wasn't warm, it was like a shock of pain." Bellatrix smiled. "So I'll take the name to please mother for a while, and just as soon as my husband is back with us, everything will go back to normal."
A look of concern crossed Narcissa's face. "What if he doesn't come back though?" she whispered.
"He will," Bellatrix replied firmly.
"Hush, Narcissa," Lucius chided as she opened her mouth to speak again. "Bellatrix is right to have faith. The fact the wedding spell didn't work is proof enough that he still lives."
Narcissa sat back, defeated.
"I just need to think of the right people to go to," said Bellatrix. "If only I could get back into the manor. I have a map that tells me where he is at all times. I used to look for him when he was travelling."
"That would be useful. This whole situation would be dealt with by now," said Lucius, putting his arm around Narcissa.
"Tomorrow," Bellatrix decided aloud. "I shall try and break though again tomorrow. The fact those extra wards have gone up is also proof that something is wrong. I can only hope it is easy to work out."
"Who else was on the list?" Lucius asked, looking around him. There were five of them now – five who continued to show interest. It had been less than a week and Voldemort's followers were mostly gone. Bellatrix was horrified, but the others were less surprised. Tonight they were gathered in Rodolphus's sitting room, strong drinks in hand. Bellatrix thought her heart was broken.
"Just the Longbottom's," Bellatrix said softly. "When we checked through the births, they were the only two possible."
"And why were they not chosen?" Rodolphus asked, frowning. "Why the Potter's instead?"
Bellatrix shrugged. "The Dark Lord chose who he thought would be a greater threat to him. Lily and James Potter were academically better."
Barty looked up sharply. "So did he make the wrong choice?"
"We only had three sentences of the prophecy, how would we know that?" Bellatrix snapped, feeling infuriated, as she normally did nowadays.
"Calm down," Lucius said softly. "Bellatrix, if you believe that they are our best lead… We should try and track them down."
"They'll be expecting us," Rodolphus chipped in. "They'll have been warned, they won't stop or stay still until they feel safe."
"As long as it takes," Bellatrix said. "I'm convinced that they will know something. Until then, we'd better act as normal."
Lucius nodded. "I'm afraid I won't be able to come here any more. I'll assist from my end." He stepped towards Bellatrix. "I cannot endanger Narcissa and Draco any longer," he murmured into her ear. "They have to come first."
Bellatrix nodded, trying to smile. "It's alright, Lucius. You've done what you can. You have a family… I would rather rot in Azkaban then move on and forget." She nodded to him. "Go on. Send my love to both of them."
"Thank you," he responded, taking her hand and squeezing it for a moment. Then he strode from the room, and Bellatrix knew she wouldn't see him again for a long time.
She turned back to the others. "Well," she said softly. "Where do we begin?"
The expressions on the three faces left were blank. Bellatrix sighed. This was going to take forever.
Rodolphus knocked on her door. She knew it must be him, because there was no one else that would want to speak to her in her room.
"What?" she called irritably.
"Can I come in?" She was right, it was Rodolphus. His voice was muffled.
"If you must," she said shortly, still not looking up from her book.
The door opened and he came in, she could hear he was standing just behind her. "Moonler has been removed."
Bellatrix nodded, she'd been expecting this. "Fine," she said shortly, wishing he would go away.
He took a step closer. "Bella…"
"Don't call me that!" she snarled, standing up in a rage and throwing down her book. "How many times must I tell you?"
Rodolphus recoiled from her fired gaze. "I'm sorry… I just want to… reach out to you…"
Bellatrix shook her head. "Why?" She didn't understand why he wouldn't leave her alone.
"You know why," Rodolphus said, frowning at her. He seemed to genuinely think that she had some idea. "I've been in love with you since I first laid eyes on you. We were meant to be getting married, he stole you from me."
Staring at him intently, Bellatrix let out a sigh. "It was my choice, Rodolphus." She took a step closer to him, seeing that there were tears in his eyes. "I'm sorry for you, I really am. My mother is literally from hell itself. This is all her doing." Seeing that he was reaching out to touch her, she took a step away again. "Don't confuse that with anything else! It's pity, that's all I feel for you."
Rodolphus looked as if he'd been slapped. "He's been gone for six months. Isn't it time to move on? For all of us?"
"I trust that he will be back," Bellatrix said firmly. "We are close to finding the Longbottom's, and when we do we will be able to find him. You don't have to help."
"I won't risk you getting hurt," Rodolphus said, his voice just as firm. "I will come with you, whatever I believe, until you agree to be my wife in more than name."
Bellatrix smiled at him, sitting back down and picking up her book. "You've got a long wait ahead then."
They'd found the Longbottoms, and tortured them for hours. In the end it was clear that they did not know anything about the disappearance of Voldemort, nor anything about the prophecy. The order and some auror's had burst in on them, just before they were going to leave the house. The four of them had been caught off guard and immediately disarmed and arrested for immediate trial.
Both Frank and Alice had gone insane by the end. Bellatrix had had her revenge for the time Frank had kidnapped her. There had been a moment in the court, proudly chained to a chair, sitting with Rodolphus, Rabastan and Barty, when Bellatrix had realised that she didn't feel any sort of guilt or remorse for any of the things she had done. All she could think about was how useless she was going to be to her true husband in prison.
They'd been found guilty of all crimes, of course. Bellatrix could hardly feel sad about it though, she was proud of what she had done, and what she had said. He would return. But now, as they were marched into the pits of hell on earth, she wished with all of her heart that her true husband was not gone.
The prison was dark; the corridor seemed to stretch on forever. Flashes of faces flew by her, some she knew. She thought she saw Sirius but the dementors were marching the four of them forwards so quickly, she could hardly see.
Ahead of her, Barty shrieked as he was pulled roughly into a cell. Bellatrix inhaled sharply, looking at Barty as he clung to the bars of his cell for dear life, screaming that his father would release him soon. Bellatrix shook her head, looking away. It was Barty's father who had put him there.
"I love you, Bellatrix!" she heard someone behind her call. For a moment, she thought it was Voldemort. As she turned, she realised it was Rodolphus. She gasped, tears springing to her eyes. Stupid, stupid Rodolphus; she was so angry at him for being so weak. The dementor grabbed her shoulder, forcing her to walk on until they reached her cell. The door opened.
Bellatrix walked into the cell, shivering slightly as the door clanged shut behind her. She didn't dare look at it. She thought she might cry if she did.
She was so cold. The robe they'd put her in itched. She was used to silk. Looking around her, she saw how basic her cell was. A toilet. A bed. A couple of metres of floor to pace. A tiny window, high up on the stone wall.
Swallowing, Bellatrix sat down in the corner of the room, her back against the cold wall on a patch bathed in moonlight. She wrapped her arms around her knees, gazing up at the window. She was telling herself the same thing, over and over and over.
It wouldn't be long.
End of part one.