Bellatrix sat nervously next to her husband. It was only the second day of the school holidays and Voldemort had already informed Narcissa that Draco had a job to do. Narcissa was devastated about Lucius, and Bellatrix knew that if anything happened to Draco then Narcissa would be lost.
It had been a couple of weeks since they had spent the night together. It hadn't happened again, but Voldemort had been much kinder to her than previously, most of the time. She'd been enjoying having him to herself even if she did eat alone most nights and had slept alone every night too. He'd told her most of his plans, that she really enjoyed hearing, as he seemed to listen to her opinion as well.
The Malfoy's were due at any moment. Bellatrix couldn't contain her nerves any longer.
"My Lord…" she started, her voice quiet.
He looked up from his book, his red eyes cold. It was as if he'd been expecting her to say something.
"I know you're angry still…" She looked down at her lap, unable to look into his red eyes. "Draco is just a boy…"
"He will be sixteen soon," Voldemort said coldly. "When I think what I had done by his age…"
Bellatrix sighed lightly. "Not everyone possesses your talents, my Lord," she said, trying to keep her voice polite but struggling.
"Even… when I consider what you had done by his age," Voldemort continued, as if she hadn't spoken.
"Tom!" she hissed, turning to face him, feeling angry with him now.
His smile was cold. "I thought you wanted me to be nice to them?" he said, his tone pleasant enough but Bellatrix knew she'd crossed a line.
"I do, I am sorry," Bellatrix replied hastily, looking away from him again. "Please."
"The Malfoy's have had it easy these past years," Voldemort said, his voice soft. "It is their turn to suffer now. Surely that is what you want too?"
Bellatrix shook her head. "My sister…"
Voldemort tutted. "And I thought I was all you cared about."
Exhaling sharply, Bellatrix decided her pleas were not helping matters, only exasperating them. She looked up; he'd gone back to his book. She sat there silently, each passing second making her more nervous.
"You know that no one compares to you," she said softly.
When a quiet knock on the door sounded, Bellatrix realised that their arrival had probably saved her from saying something stupid. The door swung open to reveal two very pale Malfoy's.
"Do come in," Voldemort said, his voice deceivingly warm. Bellatrix tensed as she saw her sister enter followed by her son, whom Bellatrix had not seen since he was a baby. Draco shut the door, casting a frightened look at his mother before moving further into the room.
"Draco," Voldemort said, watching the boy carefully. Bellatrix was pleased to see Draco wasn't just a smaller version of his father and that he had some of his mother's demeanour and looks.
Draco bowed slightly. "My Lord," he said, and his voice was quite strong, so Bellatrix thought. He looked to Bellatrix, slightly curious. "Aunt Bellatrix."
Bellatrix smiled, nodding to him. She stole a glance to Narcissa and saw she looked terrified and unhappy.
"So good of you to come at such short notice," Voldemort said softly.
"It is an honour, my Lord," Draco replied, his voice calm.
"And Narcissa, you are well?" Voldemort continued, smiling coolly at Narcissa.
Narcissa flinched slightly, looking up at him. "As well as… As I can be, in the circumstances, my Lord."
Bellatrix closed her eyes. She didn't think that would be received well.
"Your husband deserves to be where he is," Voldemort said, his voice sharp now. "Did you know that it was he who dropped my prophecy?"
Narcissa shrank back, visibly trembling. "I… I am sorry for his mistake, my Lord. I only ask that my son does not suffer for it..."
Voldemort was smirking now. "Suffer, Narcissa?" he inquired softly. "I am bestowing a great honour on him."
"My sister does not know what she is saying, my Lord," Bellatrix said, looking pleadingly at him. "She is in a state of shock."
Voldemort nodded, staring at her coolly. "So I see."
He continued to stare for what seemed like forever, before he turned back to Draco.
"Without my prophecy, I find that my way to Potter is blocked by the Headmaster," Voldemort began, his tone cold now. "I have decided that I need a way to attack the school." He stood, walking around the desk, past Narcissa so that he was stood before Draco. "You know how heavily it is guarded, Draco."
Draco nodded, the remaining colour in his face draining away as he understood what his task was.
"Once my Death Eaters are inside of the school, they will assist you by keeping those whose aim is to protect the school away from you while you execute Dumbledore." Voldemort placed his hand on Draco's shoulder, smiling coldly. "I know you will not fail me." His voice was full of laughter.
Narcissa let out a loud sob and Bellatrix could see the tears running down her face. Voldemort turned to her. "You see, Narcissa. Draco will not suffer." He smiled once again, before he turned and returned to his seat. Bellatrix couldn't look at him. "That will be all."
Draco nodded curtly. "My Lord," he murmured, before he took Narcissa by the arm and led her from the room. The door closed silently behind them.
"In a few days you will offer your services to him and teach him Occlumency."
Bellatrix jumped, looking back to him. "I?"
"I do not see you doing anything else of use," Voldemort replied, his voice icy.
"It's just…" Bellatrix faltered, trying to ignore his nasty comment. "Occlumency, it's been years…"
"It will come back to you," Voldemort said softly.
"When he fails… What will you do to him?" Bellatrix asked, unsure if she wanted to know.
"When he fails, Bellatrix?" Voldemort replied, smiling coldly at her. "So little confidence in the young lad?"
"You know he will fail! That's why you're doing this," Bellatrix cried, wishing there was some more kindness within him.
"We'll cross that bridge when we get there," Voldemort replied, looking back down at his book.
"I thank Merlin we have had no children for you to ruin," Bellatrix said, her voice quiet.
"And who should we blame for that?" he replied spitefully, without missing a beat or looking up.
Bellatrix felt speechless for a moment or two as she processed what he'd just said. "You fucking bastard," she snarled, standing up and drawing her wand.
"Don't bother," he said, his tone dismissive. "I'm in no mood for a fight." He finally looked up at her, ignoring her tears of anger. "I ask you once again to consider where your loyalties are. Time and time again… You choose your sister and her pathetic family over me." His eyes were narrowed. "You choose others over your Master and Lord." Finally, he stood up, closing the gap between them. Bellatrix couldn't stop the tears from leaking out of her eyes, but he paid no attention. He grabbed the front of her robes, pulling her closer to him. "Make your choice, Bellatrix, and make it soon."
He let go of her, pushing her away. Openly sobbing, Bellatrix ran from the room, wishing with all of her heart that her friend Antonin was here to comfort her. No one understood what she was going through like he did. She couldn't understand why Voldemort said such terrible things and why he didn't trust her. She still loved him, more than anything, but of course she wanted what was best for her sister too. She would have to try and stop worrying about them so much, and concentrate her efforts into pleasing him. He was most important to her.
Later that evening, Bellatrix's dark mark was burning. That meant only one thing. He wanted to see her. Filled with dread, Bellatrix made her way to the office.
Outside of the office, Bellatrix realised that she could hear laughing. She hesitated for a moment before knocking, wondering who on earth could be in there with the Dark Lord, and more importantly what was so funny?
The laughing stopped after she'd knocked and she quickly opened the door and walked in. She couldn't help but feel a little hurt and jealous when she realised it was Snape in the room, and that they had been laughing together. She glared as she shut the door softly behind her; doing everything she could to ignore Snape.
"You summoned me," she mumbled, seeing Voldemort's expression had changed to one less happy.
"Severus has a new potion for you," he said, staring at her.
"A new potion, my Lord?" she asked, stepping towards him.
"A stronger one," Voldemort continued.
"I don't need a stronger potion," Bellatrix said, frowning.
Voldemort's red gaze reached hers, and Bellatrix found it was icy cold. She swallowed, stepped back slightly. "You forget yourself, Bellatrix," he hissed, his voice as cold as his gaze.
Bellatrix bit her lip, hoping to get rid of the tears that had formed just under her eyelids. "Apologies, my Lord," she responded softly, trying to ignore Snape and his smug, smirking face. "I just meant… I am recovering…"
"I know what you meant," Voldemort said quietly. "And I disagree. There is no room for discussion."
She noticed Snape was holding something out to her. Attempting to block her thoughts from him, she turned and took it from him, realising it was a vial.
"Was there anything else, my Lord?" she asked, biting her lip again. The thought of Snape laughing with her husband – as she used to do – was becoming more and more painful. She had to get out.
Voldemort was smirking at her now too. "Where are your manners?" he asked, his tone light and sarcastic.
Bellatrix swallowed. There was no way in hell she was going to be polite to Snape. "I did not ask for this potion, my Lord, you did. Therefore you should thank the traitor."
His face changed and he looked pretty angry now. "Get out," he snarled, pointing at the door.
"Gladly," Bellatrix responded, throwing the potion at the wall. It smashed and it's contents stained the wallpaper instantly, to a horrible brown colour. Then she looked at her husband, and for a moment a look of understanding was on his face, before it changed to a frown.
Shooting him an expression of disgust, Bellatrix turned and left the room, slamming the door behind her. Half way back to their rooms, Bellatrix burst into tears. She couldn't understand why Snape brought out these feelings in her, why she was so jealous of him. The Dark Lord seemed to really like him, perhaps that was something to do with it.
As she got back to their rooms, the feeling in her chest got stronger. She could feel the cough coming, and when it did, it was agony. She couldn't breath, she was wheezing in and out and after a few minutes of the terrible pain in her chest, she could feel herself loosing consciousness. She wasn't inhaling enough. She room was spinning, but she noticed the door opening slightly just before she passed out.
Bellatrix awoke, still with the pain in her chest but she found she could breathe a little better. She was laid on the floor, hearing only the terrible sound of her breath going in and out. Then she realised her head was being propped up in someone's lap, and as she opened her eyes she noticed who it was.
"Close your eyes," he said, his voice cool. "Concentrate on your breathing. Snape is on his way to help."
"No," Bellatrix mumbled between intakes. "Not… Him…"
"He's bringing a healer," Voldemort said, smoothing his fingers over her pale cheeks. "Breathe."
Bellatrix did as he said, concentrating on breathing in and out. It sounded awful but she was glad it seemed to be working. She was vaguely aware of the door opening behind her and some voices saying something. Then there was a woman with potions, forcing her to swallow them even though they tasted disgusting and burned her throat. Then there were spells being muttered and she found she could breathe without making the awful wheezing noise that had become so familiar.
"She needs rest," she heard the woman say. "She needs a regular potion for her lungs. The damp has affected her greatly… A few more months in prison and she would have died, that is certain."
"I shall bring more potion to you, my Lord," she heard said, and after a few moments she realised it was Snape.
"No…" she whimpered, trying to sit up but finding Voldemort was holding her in place. "Not…"
"Shh," he murmured. "They've gone."
She realised speaking must be taking her a while. "Don't… Leave…" she said, her voice catching in her throat and making her cough.
"Don't speak," he said, lightly placing her head back on the floor before he scooped her into his arms. She coughed again as he lowered her onto the bed.
She didn't want a potion from Snape. He was responsible for this; he was trying to kill her. "Traitor…" she mumbled. She closed her eyes, breathing steadily now but she was exhausted.
She felt a hand reach out and smooth down her hair. "Sleep." As if he'd uttered a spell, she felt her eyes drooping and was falling into a much needed sleep.
Bellatrix awoke with a groan of pain. It was dark outside. Rubbing her head, she slowly got out of bed and headed to the bathroom. She wasn't sure when she'd last gone. When she was done, she stopped and looked into the mirror. Her face and lips were the same colour, pale and white, and her curls were a mess. She shivered, before turning and leaving the bathroom.
She was faced instantly with her husband. Swallowing nervously, she crossed the room, sitting on the bed.
"What were you doing?" he asked, frowning.
"Nothing," she said, pulling the covers up and sliding into bed. She looked over at him, seeing he had a plate of food in his hands. "How long was I out for?"
"Eighteen hours," Voldemort said, sitting on the bed next to her. "Hungry?"
Bellatrix shook her head. Voldemort shrugged and began to eat. "What did they say is wrong with me?" she asked quietly after a moment.
"Damp in your lungs from Azkaban," he said, looking up and putting down his knife and fork. "I should have come for you as soon as I could."
Bellatrix frowned. "I'm sure you did," she said coldly, although only part of her believed that. The other part thought he had been too furious to face her, and the other thought he'd left her there for longer than needed because he didn't know how to face her.
"Anyway," Voldemort said, standing up. "Now you're awake, you should take your potion. Snape has supplied you with a week's worth."
Bellatrix crossed her arms, glaring at him.
"You should trust my judgement, Bellatrix," he said, his voice cold. "If you do not take his potion then I will take it as you do not trust me." With a final cold look in her direction, Voldemort picked up his plate and left the room.
Bellatrix reached for the potion. What choice did she have now?
Voldemort was sitting in their lounge for once, eyes firmly on the paper. Bellatrix sat, watching him glumly. He turned the page, tutting at something he'd read. Bellatrix wished he would leave so that she could relax.
"Well," Voldemort said, finally shutting the paper. "Have you seen this?"
Bellatrix's frayed nerves almost gave out and she nearly retorted sarcastically, but refrained. "There was only one paper delivered, my Lord," she said, trying to keep her tone neutral.
"Scrimgeour has replaced Fudge."
"Scrimgeour?" she asked, frowning slightly. She recognised the name.
"The old head of the Auror department." Voldemort sighed. "The ministry are going to release a pamphlet… On what to do if you spot a Death Eater…" He chuckled to himself.
Bellatrix scowled. He was really cheerful at the moment and that irritated her.
"He's going to be tough though."
"What do you mean?" she asked.
Voldemort looked over at her. "Ex-Auror, of course he'll be difficult to beat." He patted the paper. "He's calling me a terrorist."
Bellatrix bowed her head so he couldn't see into her eyes. He was worse than a terrorist.
"So, if he's calling me that then he'll want to alleviate any terror caused by us."
"What, by ignoring us?" Bellatrix asked, frowning.
"Publically, yes," Voldemort said, nodding. "We'll go to Azkaban tomorrow. I need my best fighters. We will go public, if he is calling me a terrorist then we shall damn well live up to that name."
"We?" Bellatrix asked, stumbling over the word slightly. She didn't want to go back to Azkaban, even for a visit.
"I need you to lead," he said, after a moment. "I know you've been ill and that you don't want to go back, but I need you there."
For the first time in what felt like forever, he was actually looking at her properly.
"There has to be someone else," she said desperately.
He continued to look at her, but nodded. "If you don't want to…"
"I nearly died last week," she cut in. "I'm taking a potion that could be poison to prove my loyalty to you, and now you're doubting me."
"No need for dramatics," Voldemort replied, looking away from her.
"It's the truth, and you know it." There was silence for a while. "You said some terrible things to me."
"If you want an apology, you're not getting one," Voldemort said stiffly.
Bellatrix scowled again, standing up and walking out of the room, into their bedroom. She lay on the bed, wishing things would just go back to the way they had been.
Bellatrix was waiting tentatively inside Antonin's room, waiting for his return. She was so scared he was going to be different and damaged; she'd almost upped and left a few times already. She knew she needed to be there for her friend, and that was why she was still there.
As the door opened, Bellatrix gasped. He was back. She stood up and raced towards him, throwing her arms around him. "Antonin," she said, trying not to cry.
She was relieved when she felt his arms around her. "Bellatrix?" he said, his voice full of question. She pulled back, looking at him, seeing the same old kind smile on his face.
"Oh, thank Merlin!" she said, grinning at him now.
"What did you think was going to happen to me?" he asked, his voice full of humour although he was filthy and looked exhausted. "It was only a couple of months."
"I don't know, I don't know," she replied, hugging him again. "I'm so pleased you're ok, and you're back…"
His smile faded as he looked at her. "Has it been awful?"
Bellatrix shrugged. "It had it's moments," she said, thinking that was an understatement. "Have you heard about the new minister?"
Antonin nodded grimly. "Scrimgeour. I duelled him once, and I lost."
Bellatrix sighed. "He's calling us a terrorist organisation and is trying to ignore us into submission."
Antonin snorted. "What does the Dark Lord think?" he asked cautiously.
"He thinks we should become un-ignorable," Bellatrix replied, smiling.
"I look forward to that," Antonin replied, smiling back.
Bellatrix hugged him again before letting go. "Well, I'll let you have a bath and get some rest."
Antonin nodded. "Thanks, Bellatrix. Thanks for waiting here for me… It's nice to know I'm appreciated." He smirked at her, before pulling her into another hug and kissing the top of her head. "You're looking really hot, by the way."
Bellatrix snorted. "Sure, hot to a gay guy."
Antonin ignored her. "Healthy. Now bugger off."
Smiling at him again, Bellatrix left the room, completely relieved that he was perfectly normal and civilised, unlike certain other people she knew.