Bellatrix sat on the bed, staring out of the window. It was dark and stormy and it made her feel all the better to be inside, nice and warm. She wasn't used to being warm any more, and it was such a delicious feeling.
There was a sound behind her and the door opened. She looked around to see Voldemort walk in. He looked pretty irritated that she was there, but Bellatrix felt he had been the one to agree to her coming back so he really shouldn't be cross to see her.
"My Lord," she mumbled, looking back out of the window.
"Bellatrix," he said, his voice cold. "You missed the meeting."
Gasping, Bellatrix stood up and turned to face him. "I'm so sorry, my Lord… I… I have no excuse." She felt breathless as she looked at him, his face was so different now and he frightened her.
"No matter," he said quietly, coming closer. Bellatrix swallowed nervously. "You should be resting anyway."
"I have been," she said with a nod.
"I have informed Snape of your… illness…" he continued, his tone disapproving. "He is going to have a potion sent to you later tomorrow."
"Thank you," Bellatrix mumbled, hating to be this weak.
"You can thank him," Voldemort snapped, going to the wardrobe and opening the door.
Bellatrix turned away from him, trying not to feel hurt, sitting back down to look out of the window whilst he changed.
"You might be interested to know," Voldemort said, a short while later. "The overwhelming priority at the moment is to get into the ministry to find the prophecy. I must hear what I have to do in order to destroy this boy."
"Has a way been found?" Bellatrix asked, her voice quiet.
"That is what we must do," Voldemort replied. "Bode managed to go as far as touching the prophecy, so we believe, and it made him quite insane."
"It is in the department of mysteries?" Bellatrix asked him, turning to face him.
"Of course," Voldemort said, his voice slightly irritated again. He stared at her for a moment, before sighing and making to exit the room.
"Can't you stay?" Bellatrix asked him, standing up again.
"I'm busy," he replied coldly, pausing for a moment before leaving the room and slamming the door behind him.
Bellatrix sat back down, looking out. The stars were starting to make an appearance in the inky sky. She was starting to feel like it wasn't much different here to Azkaban.
Later that night, Bellatrix thought she would go to him and try and get him to come to bed. He'd loved sex so much before, she couldn't understand why he wouldn't give her any time for it. She knew it would be really good for them to find some way of bonding again.
She'd stood outside of his office for a good ten minutes before finding the courage to knock. She didn't even know for sure he was in there. Then, she heard his voice telling her to come in. Hands shaking, she did as she was beckoned.
He was sitting at his desk, a seemingly blank parchment in front of him. His eyes narrowed as he saw her. "What do you want?" he asked coldly.
Bellatrix swallowed. "I… I just wanted to see… If there was anything you needed…" she said, trying to control her shaking voice.
Voldemort stared at her without emotion. "Anything I want?" he inquired, raising his eyebrows.
He must have looked into her mind, Bellatrix realised. Unless she was being very transparent. "It would be good for us," she murmured.
Shaking his head, Voldemort looked back to his parchment in disinterest.
Bellatrix felt herself loose her temper. "I am your wife and you have no right to treat me like this!" she snarled at him.
Voldemort's head snapped back up and he narrowed his eyes at her. "Are you?" he asked, his voice deathly cold.
"Yes!" Bellatrix snapped back, frowning slightly. "How can you…"
"They call you Lestrange in the papers," Voldemort cut in, standing up and moving towards her slightly. "Everyone calls you Lestrange."
"Well unless you tell them we are married and are willing to divulge what that means I am really called, I cannot see much alternative," Bellatrix hissed back. "You're being so selfish, after everything I have sacrificed for you…"
There was a loud 'crack' before Bellatrix registered he'd hit her hard on the face. She raised her hand to it, feeling the now throbbing hot skin. "Don't," he snarled, closing in on her. He put his hand firmly around her throat, and for a moment Bellatrix felt terrified. Perhaps he was going to kill her after all. "I do not have time for this, Bellatrix. Resign yourself to the facts." He squeezed harder; Bellatrix's head was starting to swim. "You must adjust."
Then he let go, so suddenly that Bellatrix almost collapsed. Then she was coughing again. "I'm trying!" she said, once it had settled. "My Lord…" She turned to face him, seeing he was still standing near to her. "I need you…"
He didn't response and once again his face was maddeningly blank. "You know what I want… What we need…" She reached out and touched his hand, pleased when she saw he didn't pull away. "Will you not come to bed?" Bellatrix asked softly, wishing he would just do it.
"Is that all you want?" he hissed suddenly, grabbing her arm roughly. "Is that all you can think about?"
"N- no!" Bellatrix stammered back, seeing him genuinely angry for the first time. His new face was terrifying, his eyes were glowering in a way she was not used to. "Of course it isn't, I just-"
Voldemort spun her around and slammed her upper body forwards, onto the desk. The side of her face smashed painfully into the wood. He was pinning her down with one hand on her neck. "If you want to fuck, Bellatrix, we shall... I will teach you a lesson, for coming to me like some common whore."
His meaning hit her like a tonne of bricks and she was frightened that he meant it. She could feel him lifting her cloak up. "Not like this," she pleaded, hearing in her voice that she was sobbing. "Please…" A tear trailed across her lip, she could taste the salt water on her tongue. She tried to move, but his grip was too tight.
Then he had lifted her dress and she could hear him fumbling with his robes behind her. "Please, not like this," she sobbed, gripping onto the edge of the desk tightly. "My Lord…"
He didn't reply. There was the sound of rustling behind her, then a frustrated grunt and suddenly he was pulling her clothing back down and had moved away from her. Bellatrix still didn't dare move. She lay on the desk, panting, looking at his shadowy form by the window.
"Get out," he said, his voice quiet.
Bellatrix didn't understand what had happened. He'd been so fired up and angry, normally that lasted for much longer. And now it was suddenly gone. "My Lord?" she murmured, slowly standing up.
"Leave!" he snarled, suddenly furious again, pointing his wand at her. "I cannot give you what you want."
Then Bellatrix understood. Her face flamed bright red with embarrassment, before she turned and ran from the room. She was no longer beautiful to him, he no longer found her attractive and so he was not capable to have sex with her. She repelled him and now she was useless to him.
As she reached the bottom of the stairs, she could see the doors to one of the meeting rooms open and that there was a roaring fire by a sofa she didn't recall seeing before. She sat down on it, pulling her cloak around herself tightly, trying to stop crying but finding it impossible. The fire was hot and she was glad to be near it. The crackling was soothing to her.
Bellatrix thought back to his words, suddenly wondering if it was her fault… Or at least entirely her fault. His body was not his natural body, he'd been through so much recently and maybe he just meant… He was no longer capable. He couldn't.
"I cannot give you what you want."
She started to cry again. Everything she had hoped and dreamed about, things going back to normal, were now impossible. He was impossible. He was so serious now. There was never a moment of pleasure for him, he pushed himself so hard, his thoughts never leaving Potter or Dumbledore. He was crueller; he killed more readily… He was now the Dark Lord through and through.
There was a sound behind her. She jumped, turning, hoping it would be him… She was disappointed when she saw it was Dolohov.
"I thought I heard…" he trailed off as soon as he caught sight of her face. "Are you alright?" he asked, quiet and tentative.
Bellatrix nodded, although it was clear she wasn't. Dolohov moved closer, before finally and awkwardly sitting down next to her. They didn't know each other; Bellatrix had tried to stay away from making friends when Evan died.
"The fire is nice," he said, in a vague attempt to make conversation. "Better than what we are used to, at least," he continued, laughing softly to himself. "Fourteen years of nothing but cold air."
Bellatrix snorted. "Sometimes I think I'd rather be back there, hoping and dreaming everything would soon return to normal." She coughed, knowing it would soon be time to take her potion again.
"It's not so bad," Dolohov said softly.
"It is," Bellatrix said stubbornly, wiping her tears.
"Are you sad about Rodolphus?" Dolohov asked her. "I know you weren't married for long when we went to Azkaban."
Bellatrix smirked at him, wondering how much Dolohov really knew. "I killed him with a butter knife… I hated him more than any one."
"The Dark Lord seems so angry with you," Dolohov said after a while, watching her carefully. "He's not angry with any of the rest of us."
"He's just… Different now," Bellatrix replied. Dolohov was looking at her contemplatively. "What?"
"It's just… I remember, when I first joined, I was told not to even think about speaking to you…" Dolohov began, his voice quiet and cautious again. "Because you were with the Dark Lord."
"I was," Bellatrix said, keeping her voice indifferent. "Then I was forced to marry Rodolphus by my family, and now he hates me."
"Oh." Dolohov looked down, his expression surprised, probably because she'd been so honest. "What happened to your face?" he finally said, looking at her again.
Bellatrix touched her hand to her cheek, feeling how hot it was. "Clumsy," she replied quickly, trying to smile.
Dolohov nodded, but it was clear he didn't believe her at all. "You know, I had a boyfriend before we went to prison."
Surprised, Bellatrix looked up at him. "You're gay?" she asked, the comment coming out much more bluntly than intended.
"Yes," Dolohov replied, smiling at her slightly. "Is that ok?"
Bellatrix laughed a little, before nodding. "Of course it is, you just don't seem…" she trailed off, not wanting to seem rude.
"No one knew… But in prison, I thought it through, and decided that life was too short to hide from yourself…"
"What happened to your boyfriend?" Bellatrix asked, frowning slightly.
"I don't know," Dolohov confessed, his voice shaking slightly. "I thought he would wait for me… As soon as I was released, I went to his house and someone else was living there. No sign of him… I thought he might look for me, you know? When it was in the paper we'd escaped… But nothing yet. I'm sure he moved on."
Bellatrix nodded, feeling glad she had a sort of bond with someone else who was going through something similar. "I'm sorry to hear it."
"Well… We all made our choices back then, I guess we have to live with them now," Dolohov said. Bellatrix didn't know what to say. She didn't regret any of her choices. "You look like you could use a drink," he said, standing up. "I swear this was the room where we had a supply…" He moved to one of the walls and tapped it with his wand. A small door appeared. "Aha!" he said chirpily, opening it up.
"Wine, please," Bellatrix said, suddenly excited about having a drink of wine for the first time.
Dolohov came back over with two bottles and glasses. He opened the bottle and poured them a glass each, handing Bellatrix hers. "To freedom?" he said, holding his glass up.
Bellatrix smiled. "To freedom," she said, tapping his glass with hers. She took a sip, and sighed happily. "Oh, I'd forgotten about wine," she said, smiling at him again. Dolohov smiled back.
"It's not ideal," he said suddenly. "Being in this state."
"What do you mean?" Bellatrix asked him, frowning.
"I never felt… Helpful here, you know? To the Dark Lord… and now I feel worse."
"Of course you're helpful," Bellatrix replied. "And you always were. You know all help is appreciated. You went to prison for over a decade for him, that shows him something about you."
"He never singled me out, like he singles you out," Dolohov said quietly.
Bellatrix laughed. "Well, he's straight."
Dolohov looked at her in surprise for a moment before he laughed too. "You always seemed happy with him."
"Was it that obvious?" Bellatrix asked, not really surprised if it was. They used to love each other madly.
"Not always… And not to everyone."
Bellatrix smiled sadly, thinking about those times.
"I remember he hit you once," Dolohov said after a moment. "In front of everyone."
"He hit me a lot," Bellatrix said, nodding, drinking her wine. "I hit him a lot, though, if that makes it alright… We always made up straight after. It was like a game to us."
"Did he hit you tonight?"
Bellatrix swallowed, his blunt question actually made her feel like crying. She sipped some more of her drink.
"Yes," she said, looking down. "He-" But the words wouldn't come out. And how could she say anything bad about him? How could she say he'd tried to rape her, and then failed? And how could she be sad that he'd failed whilst calling it rape? "He isn't himself, though."
Dolohov shifted closer to her, and very hesitantly put him arm around her shoulders. Bellatrix's instant reaction was to curse him into next week but suddenly she realised… Someone was touching her, and being kind to her. Someone who just wanted to be her friend. She sighed and leant into him.
"He might never be the man you once loved again," Dolohov whispered into her hair.
Bellatrix nodded. "That's just what I'm afraid of." She took a large gulp and finished off her wine. "I need to try and be accepting of that fact." She pulled away from him, sitting up. "Thank you for being so kind."
Dolohov smiled. "There are few who could ever understand what we have suffered and continue to suffer. I hope… We may be of comfort to each other… If you…" He trailed off, smiling awkwardly.
"That would be nice," Bellatrix said with a small smile. "Well, I'd better go to bed… I've missed one meeting already so better not miss any more…"
Dolohov nodded. "Goodnight, Bellatrix," he said, his voice warm. He smiled at her. "I hope you sleep better than I do."
Bellatrix smiled. "The wine ought to help with that. Goodnight, Antonin."
As she walked towards her bedroom, she realised how much she missed Evan and how she really was going to enjoy having a new friend to share things with, someone who really understood what she was going through. She smiled, thinking about Evan for a moment as she opened the door to their bedroom. Then her smile was wiped off her face when she saw who was in the room.
"My Lord," she murmured, stopping where she was.
Voldemort stood up and moved towards her. "Why are you lingering by the door?" he asked coldly.
Reluctantly, Bellatrix shut the door behind her and moved further into the room. Eying him nervously, she proceeded to remove her outer robe and fumble around in her drawer for her nightdress. As she pulled it out, she saw he was still watching.
"Was there something you needed, my Lord?" she asked quietly.
"I shouldn't have done what I just did," he said, his words hurried. "I got you some bruise salve." Bellatrix continued to stare at him. "For your face… I don't like…"
"I don't like it either," Bellatrix snapped, looking back to her drawer to tidy it.
"Bellatrix…" he hissed. She heard him sigh as she ignored him. "Where have you been? I've been waiting for you."
"None of your concern," she spat, feeling furious with him suddenly. "You can't pick me up then drop me when you feel like it."
"Just take the bloody salve, will you?" he snapped back, and for a moment Bellatrix thought that Tom was behind her.
She turned around, slightly disappointed when she was it was just Voldemort. "No," she retorted. "I'm going to walk around with a bruise and remind you of the monster you have become. If you're really lucky, my cheek might be broken." She rubbed her face, wincing. It really did hurt, but then being slammed against a desk was rather painful.
There was silent for a moment. Then he spoke. "Do you really think that about me?" he asked softly.
"Yes," Bellatrix bit back.
"Because of my face?" he asked, very quietly a moment later.
Bellatrix frowned, standing up and looking into his eyes. "Because I told you no and you kept going anyway."
"Well." He took a step backwards, his expression cold once more. "No damage was done in that respect."
"If I take the salve, will you leave?" Bellatrix said, beckoning to the bottle in his hand.
"You keep going on about me coming here…"
"I had some resemblance of hope then," Bellatrix cut in, moving towards him and snatching the salve from his hand. "What's the matter with you?"
"I had to make a new Horcrux, Bella," Voldemort said loudly, grabbing her hand roughly. "I had no choice. And when I did make it, I barely had a body. Just enough to hold a wand. It wasn't…" He stopped talking for a moment. "It wasn't nice," he finished softly. "It wasn't sensible."
"None of them have been sensible!" Bellatrix snapped.
Voldemort ignored her. "This new body… Is taking a lot of getting used to. Nothing is the same, things don't work… As they did… And you are demanding so much from me, Bella."
"Why didn't you say?" Bellatrix asked, frowning and moving closer to him again. Part of her was pleased. She'd been trying to get him to speak normally to her for the best part of a week, and now he'd come out and done it all by himself.
"I didn't have the words," he murmured. "After… After you left, I realised why. You've come back expecting nothing to have changed. We are not the same people any more."
Bellatrix nodded. If he felt as different as she felt then none of this could possibly be a surprise to her. She only wished she had recognised it sooner. "Alright," she said shortly, turning to the mirror. The bruise was slowly turning darker. With a sigh, she began to apply the salve.
His hand was suddenly back on hers. "Let me," he murmured. Bellatrix nodded, giving him the bottle and turning to face him. She was suddenly aware of his intense red gaze staring at her, rubbing the cream into her cheek. And she couldn't help but stare back.
"You don't look like a monster," Bellatrix mumbled after some time. "You're a bit… Snakey… But you look just as much the Dark Lord as ever before."
Voldemort smirked at her. "My last Horcrux was a snake."
"She's called Nagini. When I lost my body… She let me share hers, until I could find my own once more."
Bellatrix almost laughed out loud, it sounded ridiculous. And then she realised how desperate and sad he must have been. "Why haven't I seen her?" Bellatrix settled upon asking.
"She's been off hunting." Voldemort was staring at her, and suddenly Bellatrix realised he'd long finished putting the cream on her. "She's had her eye on Wormtail for quite some time now…"
Bellatrix laughed. Then her smile left her face once more as he drew closer to her, a slightly pained expression on his face. She focussed on his thin lips, very different to what she was used to but still… Then suddenly their lips were pressed together in a deep kiss and Bellatrix's stomach was doing somersaults. Bellatrix was gasping for breath when they separated.
"Come to bed," she murmured.
"No, Bella," Voldemort replied, his fingers in her hair.
"To sleep," Bellatrix said, tugging at his hand. "Please, allow me one night with you by my side… I ask for nothing else."
"This has to be rare," he insisted, and Bellatrix was relieved to see that he was coming with her towards the bed.
Still half dressed, Bellatrix pulled down the covers and got into bed. She caught a final glimpse of him before the lights were turned out. Then she felt him get into bed beside her, his arm sliding around her waist very lightly. Bellatrix breathed in contentment, relishing the feeling of being so close to him even though he felt very cold through his clothes and hers.
"Goodnight, my Lord," she murmured through a happy sigh, before she dropped off into a blissful sleep, the first she'd had in a very, very long time.