Bellatrix awoke from her slumber with a start as a searing pain spread through her arm. Looking down she could see the green of her dark mark now turned black through the tattered remains of her robes. It hurt, it really hurt, but she couldn't bring herself to think about that. All she knew was that she was relieved to feel the heat once more, to feel how strong her husband's magic was and how he must be on his way to them by now.
The sun was setting, Bellatrix observed as she glanced up to the window high above her. If she stood, she knew she would just about be able to see out of it. But there was nothing to see, apart from the sun setting over an expanse of murky looking water and not much else. She had seen a thousand sunsets in her fourteen years in this cell and she didn't suppose this one would be any different.
Her feeling of hope was suddenly gone and a feeling of deep melancholy replaced it. A moment later she caught sight of a dementor drifting past her cell. It paused, looking in on her for a second before it continued its' journey. Bellatrix thought it to be odd, as they normally lingered for a few moments, but did not dwell on the thought. Instead the normal feeling of anxiety descended upon her.
What if he wasn't coming? It was a thought she always tried to avoid but it had almost been six months since her mark had burnt once more, signalling the Dark Lord's rise. She wondered, for the umpteenth time, if it was because of this ridiculous Lestrange marriage she had been forced into. Of course, the Dark Lord had no idea about the baby or miscarriage or even her side of the impossible story, but she knew that he was now aware of the wedding. And that he most certainly did not like it and was probably punishing her for it.
As the panic built inside of her, she began her usual coughing fit. She wheezed, gasping for breath between each cough, moving over to turn to her hands and knees, often finding this helped. She was sick, she knew she wasn't going to last much longer. Since she had been accused and found guilty of such terrible crimes, she had been put in the terrible part of the prison where there was no human contact, two horrible meals of gruel a day and where there were no doctors. She needed medical attention, she needed healers and potions and if her husband continued with his silence then she was going to die.
As the cough subsided and she calmed herself down by breathing deeply, she arched her back and tilted her head forwards and noticed how much thinner she had become. Vanity was not something she cared to indulge in any more. She was long past staring into the mirror for hours to curl her hair or to put on her make up to please her husband. He was definitely not going to be pleased when he saw what a state she'd got herself into, forgiven or not. That was if he ever saw her –
Her trail of thought stopped as she heard what sounded suspiciously like a pop of apparation onto the ground outside of her cell. She was instantly to her feet, moving faster than she had needed to for a long time, at the window, trying to see out of it. She exhaled, her eyes adjusting to the darkness out of the window. The window wasn't big enough to see much of the ground, only the sea, and so she couldn't see anyone there.
And then there was a sound behind her, and as she turned to see what the sound was she saw her enemy and brother, Lucius Malfoy. She gasped audibly, loosing her footing a little and sort of staggering across the cell to the barred door.
"Bellatrix," Lucius said as a greeting, his cold voice for the first time in years not grating on her.
"Ha… Have you come for me?" she asked him, her voice sounded strange even to her own ears.
"Yes," Lucius replied, raising his wand and unlocking the door. "We can disapparate in a moment."
"Disapparate?" Bellatrix asked him, feeling slightly bemused. There was no way she was going to be able to disapparate.
Lucius ignored her again, but continued to help her down the corridor. As soon as the reached the staircase, he turned to face her. "Brace yourself," he said, smirking slightly before disapparating them both.
They reappeared to a dusty hallway. Bellatrix coughed softly as she took in her surroundings before she realised where they were. She was home. She sighed softly, looking around her with a wide mouth. The house was in a state of disarray, there was a thick layer of dust and cobwebs over every surface, but it didn't matter. She was home.
"I need to see him," Bellatrix croaked to Lucius. "Take me to him." The look of panic that crossed Lucius's face told Bellatrix enough. The Dark Lord knew, as was not happy. "Have you told him?" she asked urgently.
"It is not wise for your name to be mentioned," Lucius responded coolly. "Do you think me stupid?"
"And yet you are the one who frees me from my cell?" Bellatrix snapped, coughing as she raised her voice.
"For my wife," Lucius told her coldly, and finally. "The Dark Lord ordered me to tell all prisoners that he will speak with them in a few hours when they are rested." Lucius glared at her for a moment before he turned away, leaving through the front door. Bellatrix supposed that meant he had done his duty to his wife and was not going to be involved any more.
Inhaling slightly, she turned to the staircase and made her way to her old rooms, her stomach churning in absolute terror and a slight bit of excitement too. The door was already slightly open. She pushed on it so she could go through and closed it tightly behind her. As she moved further into the sitting room, she could see a tall, hooded figure by the window, staring out into the grounds.
She gasped loudly once more. There he was, her husband, her Lord, her master, her God… As he turned around, she suddenly realised what a mess she must look. She wondered why she didn't go to another room and try and sort herself out before she faced him, knowing he was already angry with her. It was too late now.
Bellatrix moved towards him, looking at his hidden face with fear. She didn't know what to do. As she reached him, she saw a bony white hand emerge from his robes and reach out to touch her face. She sighed in delight, relishing such a beautiful feeling of his flesh upon hers, even if it didn't feel quite as she remembered it. They were both much older, and she didn't even know what had happened to him yet.
"Bella…" he murmured. His voice was different too.
"My Lord," Bellatrix choked out, trying to overcome the emotions now sweeping her body. He seemed so calm and collected, not the passionate angry lover she was expecting to be faced with. It really looked as if he wasn't angry with her. "Oh, my Lord." She moved to be closer to him, but Voldemort stopped her with his hand.
"You must hear my story," he murmured coldly. "And then I shall hear yours."
Bellatrix recoiled from him, only half surprised. She knew her husband; she knew he never did anything without purpose. She would have to wait if she wanted him back.
He had turned away from her again, gazing out of the window. She fidgeted slightly, feeling slightly giddy but held it together. She wanted to hear what had happened. She jumped as he spoke.
"Less than four years after we had control over the Ministry, I went to Godric's Hollow to remove what I thought to be our final threat. I killed Potter. I killed Evans… And yet their son, a mere baby of one year old, I could not. My spell rebounded."
Bellatrix nodded silently. She had worked that much out by herself.
"And as you know, Bella, I have taken many precautions to prevent my death. We were about to take the same precautions for you. And so my soul could not die, even if my body did. I drifted… For many years, I drifted abroad. I possessed animals. I was forced to live like an animal."
Bellatrix winced. She didn't like the sound of that; it upset her to think she had been so helpless and unable to find him. She felt so useless but she didn't dare interrupt him.
"Ten years later, I stumbled upon a man who I discovered was the new defence teacher at Hogwarts. Imagine my joy when he offered to allow me to share his body and once at Hogwarts, could feed from the blood of the unicorns that occupied the forbidden forest…"
He tilted his gaze to look at her, seeing her surprise.
"But Harry Potter thwarted me once more. I returned to the shadows once again, and was discovered once more by none other than Wormtail…"
Bellatrix gasped, staring up at his hidden face with her mouth hanging open. Wormtail had found him? The slimy rat who was the most useless of all of Voldemort's followers, also meant to be very much dead?
"I was surprised too as it turns out that Wormtail was thought to be dead and had framed your dear cousin Sirius… But that is of no matter. He introduced me to Bertha Jorkins, who was all too happy to tell me all about the Triwizard tournament taking place that year at Hogwarts. With the help of your friend Barty Crouch, I was able to capture Potter and have him brought to me to assist in my rebirth. And now… Here I am."
"The boy?" Bellatrix asked huskily, wondering how Barty had escaped from prison but at present more worried about whether Potter was dead or not.
Voldemort sighed, looking away from her. "Escaped." Then he looked back to her, somewhat sharper this time. "And how about you, Bellatrix?" His tone had changed; he was colder and more commanding. Bellatrix shivered.
"I searched for you," Bellatrix told him softly. "My Lord, I really did, it's just there were some… difficulties…"
"So I see," Voldemort responded lightly.
"After you vanished, I could not get back into the house… It was like extra wards had kicked in and we couldn't even see it… I went to stay with Lucius and Narcissa but I couldn't stay long because they had Draco and I didn't want to endanger them… So I went to my parents and my mother saw money and decided to sell me to the highest bidder."
"You didn't have to stay," Voldemort snapped at her. "You didn't have to marry Lestrange."
Bellatrix exhaled, wondering at his sudden anger. She needed to finish the story.
"It was that or they were going to throw me out and I needed somewhere to live, so I could help you and so that I could have…" She trailed off. She had not spoken of her loss… Their loss since she told Lucius about it. "I wanted to be in a position where I could help you. Then we thought Dumbledore and the order might know about what happened and so we tried to get to them… Then the Longbottom's were tortured and that is when we were caught… And we went to prison rather than deny you."
"How touching," Voldemort hissed, but Bellatrix knew that was anger and hurt. "But you haven't explained why you had to marry him."
Bellatrix sighed loudly. She didn't know how to say it. "Why don't you trust me?"
"Tell me the truth, Bellatrix."
"I am," Bellatrix told him, looking up at him again. "Please…"
Voldemort strode forward and grabbed her wrist. As he moved quickly his hood fell off. Bellatrix gasped loudly, staring up at the face of her husband. He was chalk white, his lips were thin, his nose was now slit like and he didn't have any hair. The eyes remained the same. "Tom…"
His grip on her wrist tightened. "No," he snarled. "You will not use that name any more. You no longer enjoy my confidence. Tell me the truth or get out."
Bellatrix could feel the tears brewing in the corner of her eyes. It felt hot, the tears were burning. She hadn't mentioned the loss of their baby out loud to anyone, since she had told Lucius many, many years ago. She wanted to blank that memory out, one of the few memories she had been able to have in prison since most of her memories were so happy.
Her face screwed up as she tried to stop the tears from coming but it was no use, they were pouring down her face before long as she tried to find the words.
She looked back up at him, looking into his frightening new face and tried to find that spark of love they had once shared, or at least some sort of concern. She could find nothing; he was blank and emotionless as he stared back at her even though her face was wet with tears.
"There was a baby," she finally managed to say, and then the tears fell even faster. "I don't know how far along I was but it can't have been far and…" She gulped back her sobs. "My mother was threatening to kick me out and I couldn't have had a baby in prison… So I had to marry him, so I could find you, so we could be a family… We never… Never… Did anything…"
She buried her face in her hands, trying to stifle her sobs.
"And then… Suddenly, the baby was gone." She took some breaths to compose herself and then looked back up at him. His face was completely blank.
"You should leave," he told her. "I cannot even look at you right now."
"Don't you have anything to add?" Bellatrix asked, coughing hollowly. "Don't you have anything to say?" She couldn't stop the cough from coming. She knew it was going to be a bad fit.
"There is nothing I can add," Voldemort snarled at her. "Get out!"
Not willing to let him see her cry any more, Bellatrix spun around and left the room, running down to the guest room her friend Posey had once slept in. She could hardly breathe through coughing; a truly terrible sound even to her own ears.
She flung herself onto the bed and cried herself to sleep, hoping that death would take her soon. For without him, she had no reason to live.
Bellatrix sat down in the huge dining room, ignoring the other people around her. She felt much better for having a bath and some sleep in a comfortable bed but now she was faced with a table groaning with food. She knew that she had to eat something, so she stuck with a plain piece of toast and a glass of water. The Dark Lord certainly was eager to make sure his most loyal returned to full health, but she was disgusted as she saw Dolohov tucking into a full breakfast greedily.
She jumped as someone sat down heavily next to her – a little too close for comfort. She wasn't surprised when she saw Rodolphus sat there, now happily helping himself to sausages and bacon. Her eyes flickered to his face in interest for a moment, noting how his previously dark hair was now almost entirely grey and how his previous good looks had simply vanished. Now he looked haunted and ill. She felt sorry for him, as she felt sorry for herself, but that did not change how much she hated him.
"Good night then?" he asked her, grinning slightly although she wasn't fooled and knew he was probing her.
"Fine," she snapped back, turning away from him slightly.
"Then why did I see you leaving the Dark Lord's rooms with tears running down your face?" he asked quietly, close to her now. "Have you given up?"
"Never," Bellatrix retorted angrily. "And if it wasn't for you, we would not have any issues right now. I hope you are satisfied."
Rodolphus snorted. "Satisfied? Not for years."
Bellatrix ignored him and continued to nibble on her toast. It was sticking in her mouth. She picked up a knife and started to spread some butter on what was left, wondering if that might help.
"I don't even know why you want to be with him still... He's not exactly as he used to be," Rodolphus said maliciously.
"Go away, Rodolphus," Bellatrix snapped back, wishing he would just leave her alone. She hated him, more than anyone, possibly more than Potter or Dumbledore. She was certain that she would have had her baby if it wasn't for her fear of her new marriage. It was his fault, all of it.
"Bet he can't even get it up any more," Rodolphus said, sniggering to himself.
Bellatrix suddenly felt something inside herself break. Like her will to act like a sane person or her will to put up with him any longer. She stood up, pulling the knife back and plunging it with all her might into his chest. She didn't have her wand and so this was the way she was going to do it, the muggle way, and she hoped it was agony for him.
He screamed, alerting the others around them to what was happening. Bellatrix withdrew the knife and plunged again and again, splattering herself with blood. She was aware of a deafening silence about her, no one dared to try and stop her. Then she heard something being dropped behind her, and she felt someone grabbing her wrist and making her let go of the knife. It wasn't until she turned around did she realise it was Narcissa.
Bellatrix inhaled deeply, out of breath and exhausted. She looked at her sisters' distraught face and then looked back to Rodolphus, who was dripping blood and his face was completely white in shock. Narcissa let go of her and moved towards him, her face white as well.
"Leave him," Bellatrix muttered.
Rodolphus fell backwards off his seat. Bellatrix moved closer, kicking him. He was dead.
"Fuck," she muttered to herself. She glanced around her. Everyone was staring. There was no escaping that she had done it. What was the Dark Lord going to say? Would he be angry? She had spent so many years persuading him not to kill Rodolphus; she had no idea if he still wanted it. Perhaps he would be angry that she had done it instead of him?
Slowly, panic set in. She may have just made things a hundred times worse.
"Where is the Dark Lord?" she asked Narcissa quietly. Narcissa seemed unable to move. She was staring at Rodolphus, her eyes wide. Bellatrix wasn't sure she had seen someone die before and guessed it was probably a huge shock to her innocent sister. "Narcissa! Where is he?" she asked again, sharply. She stepped towards Narcissa, grabbing her by the arms. "Tell me where he is!" she shrieked, knowing she needed to get to him quickly.
Narcissa finally looked at her, and managed to find her words. "Office..." she gasped.
Bellatrix turned and ran, as fast as she could which wasn't saying much. She could feel the cough rising in her chest but she swallowed it as best she could. She reached his office, crashing through the door. She was so relieved that he was alone and before he could speak, she was on the ground in front of him, clinging to his robes.
"My Lord!" she gasped, coughing a few times. "My Lord."
Voldemort kicked her off of him. "What?" he hissed. "I made myself clear, did I not?"
"Yes, my Lord," Bellatrix responded breathlessly. "I've done something. I fear you are going to be most displeased. I beg of you not to punish me too severely, Master..."
"What have you done now?" he hissed down at her. "What is all of this commotion?"
"Rodolphus... I killed him..."
Voldemort stared down at her disbelievingly. "You have no wand."
"With a..." She cringed as she said it. "A knife, my Lord..."
He was silent as he sat back into his chair. He was silent for what seemed like forever to Bellatrix, as she lay at his feet, panting like a dog. Finally he spoke again.
"I am not displeased."
"He was so rude about you..."
"I have told you I am not displeased."
Bellatrix recoiled at his cold words. When he didn't move or speak again, she stood up and began to leave the room, knowing there was no sense in trying to push him.
"Bellatrix," he said, and immediately she stopped walking and turned to face him. "I have considered what you told me last night. I have decided you may live in my rooms, as you used to."
Bellatrix wasn't entirely sure her ears weren't deceiving her.
"The fact you have... Stabbed... Rodolphus to death shows me that you did not willingly go into the marriage. There are, however, conditions."
She bowed her head, wondering what was coming next. Conditions? Whatever did he mean?
"You will put on some weight, and be healthy once more, and you will practice your magic. I need you recovered. You should have your wand once more by the end of the day."
"Thank you," Bellatrix murmured, knowing that these were not really conditions to stay with him; this was what she needed to do to survive.
"I will be busy. You should not expect to see me often. I do not need as much sleep as I used to, do not expect me to stay the night with you. Those foolish times are behind us." He spoke without much feeling; his voice was cold and glassy.
"Yes, Master," Bellatrix responded. She moved towards him again and pressed a gentle kiss to his lips. He seemed surprised and didn't kiss her back but it was better than what had happened the previous night.
"See that the body is dealt with," he said, as if she hadn't just kissed him. "Have the rat sort it."
Bellatrix nodded, taking that as her dismissal. Much happier than she had been the previous night, she left the room and headed back downstairs, ready to face the world once again.