The next morning there was a tap on the bedroom door. She was up and dressed and was feeling very confused about who would knock on the door. Only one other person currently had access through the wards, and he wasn't the knocking type.
She was baffled and bewildered when she opened the door to see that it was the Dark Lord. She blinked at him a few times, unsure what to do. He was staring down at her, red eyes glowing.
"Good morning," he said softly, smiling slightly.
"Er… Good morning," Bellatrix replied, wondering what was the matter with him.
"Would you like to have breakfast with me?"
Bellatrix suddenly wondered if she'd woken up in an alternate universe. "Yes?" she replied, unsure if that was a question or an answer.
"Yes?" Voldemort echoed, smirking at her now. "Are you quite alright, Bella?"
"Fine," she mumbled, walking past him. In the sitting room, there was a large spread of various breakfast items set out on the table. She stared at it for a few moments. "Do… Do you have time for this?" she asked, looking back to him.
"It's only breakfast," he replied gently, stepping towards her.
"Coming from the man who doesn't even have time to sleep?" she said, looking up at him. "You made yourself very clear…"
"Can't I change my mind?" he asked, reaching out and brushing hair from her face.
"You certainly do that," she muttered. "I can't keep up."
"You must know that it isn't my choice, Bella," Voldemort replied, taking her hand and leading her to the sofa. "I can't help it."
"What do you mean?" Bellatrix asked him as they sat down, frowning although intrigued.
He didn't answer her straight away. Instead, he poured them both coffee. Bellatrix wondered if she was dreaming. It was like old times. "I told you about my new horcrux."
"Yes," Bellatrix replied, slightly cold. She had always disliked the idea of his soul being split like it was, but now she hated it more.
Bellatrix looked up at him. He looked sad. "So it makes you nasty, does it?" she said, her tone disbelieving. She didn't have to be nice to him when he was beyond horrible to her.
"That's a simple way to describe it, yes," he replied, nodding as he sipped at his coffee.
"And you'll remember this conversation when you go back that way, will you?" she asked him coldly. "When I displease you because I want to be near you?"
"Are you saying it makes you hormonal?" Bellatrix continued. Voldemort stared at her in bewilderment. "Well, that's the only thing I can compare it to. Mood swings." He continued to stare at her, as if he was unable to believe what she'd just said. They sat in silence for a while. Bellatrix drank her coffee, but Voldemort hardly moved.
"I don't believe you just said that," Voldemort finally said.
"I can't understand why you're suddenly treating me with respect," Bellatrix said, shaking her head at him. "You have to see that."
"I do," he responded lightly. "Honestly."
Bellatrix rolled her eyes. "I can see you are making an effort here."
"It's not my fault," he said, his tone insistent. "It's like I become… Possessed… You must see that something changed in me when I came back."
Bellatrix nodded. "Alright," she said, nodding. She did see that and she could believe what he was saying easily enough. And occasionally, very occasionally, he was nice to her.
"I feel so angry, most of the time," he murmured. "I am surrounded by idiots… Progress is slower than I hoped…" He glanced up at her. "I have a way to stop this… This change… But I can't do it yet. You have to stick with me through this."
"How will you do that?" she asked, frowning again.
He shook his head. "I can't… Bella…" He reached out and took her hand, staring at her pleadingly.
For the first time in years, Bellatrix saw some vulnerability in him. It was at that moment that she realised that she would have to weather the storm, before they could come out of it on the other side and live like they used to. Those years had been so happy, and she wanted that back. So she knew she would have to wait.
"Alright," she said, nodding at him. "Alright."
"Thank you," he replied softly.
"You can kiss me now," she said a moment later, smiling at him.
Voldemort chuckled, red eyes on hers. Then he reached over and put his hand lightly on the back of her head, drawing her closer to him. He kissed her gently at first, before becoming more passionate.
She pulled back from him, gasping for breath. "Come back to bed with me," she whispered. She grabbed his hand before he could reply, pulling him towards the bedroom. He was laughing as she did so. She was such a passionate woman and he had missed her.
On her way to see Draco for his fourth lesson, Narcissa had grabbed Bellatrix and pulled her into the parlour, demanding to be told why they were being forced to hold a prisoner in their basement. Bellatrix didn't know anything about it and she wondered why, and more importantly who it was. There were dungeons at their own house. It seemed Voldemort was trying to punish the Malfoy's by turning their house into his main meeting point now. Narcissa had run off angrily when she tried to calm her down, so Bellatrix decided to go and find Draco and finish teaching him Occlumency.
"How is your work going?" Bellatrix asked Draco, sitting back on the sofa, trying to relax after their lesson.
Draco nodded with a small smirk. "Well. I believe that Borgin and Burke have something that could be of use, Mother is coming with me next week."
Bellatrix smiled. She was relieved. Draco was at a point where he didn't need much more training. She was sad about that because she enjoyed spending time with him and wasn't sure if her husband would let her keep coming like she was. His mood was still good with her, almost two weeks later, but she was sensing that it might not last forever.
"That's very good," she replied. "Then not so long before you go back to school." Draco's happy expression vanished. "Do you not like Hogwarts?" Bellatrix asked, frowning slightly.
"I hate Potter, and his mudblood. He's able to do whatever he wants, it's so unfair." Draco shook his head. "And Snape, he is always watching my every move."
Bellatrix snorted. "Don't talk to me about that half-blood scum," she said, crossing her arms. "And don't trust him either, Draco."
Draco was staring at her in shock. "What do you mean, auntie?" he asked. "The Dark Lord trusts him…"
"He's a fool," Bellatrix responded. "He will not see it."
"What is there to see?" Draco asked, sitting down next to her and frowning at her. "He put himself in the perfect position to spy."
"And to hide," Bellatrix replied coolly. "Hogwarts is near impenetrable." Realising what she'd just said, she turned to face him. "Oh, Draco – "
Draco shook his head. "It's fine, auntie. I hope to prove you wrong."
Bellatrix smiled. "I'm sure that you will."
There was silence for a moment, and Bellatrix could see that he was contemplating what she'd said. "Snape hates Potter, more than anything."
Bellatrix nodded, thinking back to the time when he'd gone to the Dark Lord begging for Lily Evan's life to be spared. "He would," she said, feeling spiteful. "Because he was in love with Potter's mother when they were young."
Draco gasped. "Auntie, what a thing to say!"
"It's true," Bellatrix said, smirking at him. She could see Narcissa in him. "Before… You know… That happened, Snape knew it was coming, and he came to the Dark Lord to beg for her life."
"A mudblood?" Draco asked, spitting out the word.
"Well, I am glad you see it too!" Bellatrix said, feeling smug that it wasn't just her.
"It's disgusting!" Draco added.
"Stay away from him, otherwise your entire plan will be reported straight to Dumbledore himself," Bellatrix replied. "Do you think you can keep him out? He's very good at Legilimacy, I've heard."
"He is," Draco agreed. "Sometimes, when he looks at you… It's as if he knows, everything."
"I try not to look at him," Bellatrix replied, wrinkling her nose. "He's so vile. I do not know what the Dark Lord, or your father, see in him."
"You know my father," Draco murmured. "He likes to make friends with all the right people."
Bellatrix smirked. She knew that very well, although apparently at the moment it wasn't going so well with the Dark Lord for him. "Anyway. The Dark Lord trusts him."
"Have you said these things to him?" Draco asked quietly. "You have the ability to speak freely to him…"
"He will not hear me," Bellatrix responded. "I'll need some sort of evidence, but if Snape can keep him out of his mind, evidence will be hard to come by." The times Bellatrix had spoken to her husband about Snape had all been badly timed. She wondered if now might be a better time to raise the topic, since he was being so friendly and loving towards her again. "You mustn't think about this or mention this again, Draco. You must concentrate on what you have to do… Just be careful of him."
Draco nodded. "I will, auntie."
Bellatrix felt a slight burn on her mark. She lifted her sleeve, staring at it as it turned black. "I better go," she murmured. She looked back up at him. "I don't think I can teach you much more, and so… I don't know when we will next meet."
"Can I come and see you?" Draco asked eagerly. "I love hearing about your life."
Bellatrix smiled. "I'll see what can be done, dearest nephew." She stood, pulling him into an embrace and kissing him on the forehead. She loved her nephew and she desperately wanted to be able to spend more time with him. She just wasn't quite sure how Voldemort would feel about that.
When she got home, she went straight away to find him, knowing that he never fully relaxed whilst she was away from him. It was sweet, really. She found him in their sitting room, sprawled over the sofa with a book. She laughed as she saw him; such a position really did not suit him.
"What?" he asked, looking up at her and frowning slightly. "Why are you laughing?"
Bellatrix sat down, pressing a kiss against his lips. "You shouldn't sit like that, it doesn't suit your status."
Voldemort snorting, shutting the book and throwing it onto the table. "It's not like anyone can see me, Bella."
"I can!" Bellatrix replied, laughing again.
"You definitely don't count, wifey of mine," Voldemort replied, sitting up and pulling her into him. "You've seen everything," he murmured, his tone suggestive.
Bellatrix smirked at him. "And yet I still never want to see you laying like that whilst you look like this," she said.
"When I have won then I can revert back to how I used to look," Voldemort told her softly. "And you can find me attractive again."
"I do find you attractive, my love," Bellatrix told him, kissing him again. "And I don't know if I want you to look like that, when I…" She stopped, unwilling to say the words. "I will be unworthy."
Voldemort squeezed her tightly. "You are still beautiful."
"Too thin," she muttered. "Too mad."
"You've put on lots of weight," he told her. "And you aren't any more mad now then when you were before."
Bellatrix smirked at him again. "I can't decide if that was a compliment or not."
"You are perfect," Voldemort insisted.
"And I'm still coughing."
"Not as much."
Bellatrix rolled her eyes. "Because it happens more when I'm stressed, and you…" She stopped in her tracks. She didn't want to put him in a mood again.
"I know," he said, squeezing her again. "But it won't be long before all of this is over. And then life will be perfect." Bellatrix nodded, leaning into him. "And how was Draco?"
"Good… I can't teach him anything more…"
"He learns almost as quickly as you did," Voldemort commented softly.
"I rather hoped he might be able to come here… So that we can spend some more time together," Bellatrix said, feeling nervous. "It'll be good for him."
Voldemort stroked her hair. "Why?"
"He can get used to being here," she said, wishing he would just say yes.
"Is that the only reason?" he asked. "I hope you aren't helping him…"
Bellatrix sat up, looking over at him with a frown. "He doesn't need my help. Why do you hope I am not helping him?"
"It is his task, Bellatrix," Voldemort said, his voice slightly cold. "You know why I gave it to him. He must prove himself."
"He is very able," Bellatrix responded, trying to keep her temper in place. "If you would see him more…"
"He can come here," Voldemort said, his voice slightly hard. "Provided he is using his time wisely to prepare for the months ahead of him."
"He is," Bellatrix replied, nodding. "He has a plan, I promise. I don't know what it is, but he seems confident."
"He's a Malfoy," Voldemort said, shaking his head. "They are born confident."
Bellatrix couldn't reply to that, but she was glad that the matter had been resolved without much of a fight. "I'll write to him," she said quietly, a few moments later. "He will be so pleased." She looked over to him. "I am pleased, my love." Voldemort looked back over to her, and she could see he was slightly irritated but was trying not to let it show. "Who is the prisoner at Malfoy manor?" she asked a moment later.
Voldemort smirked at her. "Ollivander, the wand maker." Bellatrix was surprised. She couldn't see how he was of importance. "It is probably best if you do not know why, at present," Voldemort continued. "Just remember that he has given many mudblood children the chance to study magic."
Disliking that, Bellatrix nodded. She knew better than to push him on things like this. She had to accept he didn't tell her everything, but then this was nothing particularly new. He had always kept secrets from her.
"Have you heard the news about Snape?" Voldemort asked, as if she'd had a chance to gossip.
"He is a traitor after all?" Bellatrix replied, knowing it would irritate him but unable to help herself.
He scowled at her. "He has been made Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor," Voldemort snapped back. "Our old potions tutor will return to Hogwarts this year."
Bellatrix's gaze shot up to his. "Slughorn?" she asked, feeling breathless. "We've been trying to recruit him for the last year."
"I know," Voldemort replied, his tone lightly sarcastic. "And you've failed, because Dumbledore has got to him first."
Bellatrix jumped at the word failed, but he didn't look too irritated so she didn't think she should worry too much. Then in clicked in her mind why this mattered. "Slughort told you…"
"I know what Slughorn told me," Voldemort hissed at her, glaring. "And I know he was too ashamed of himself to even consider telling anyone else about what he told me."
"Dumbledore knows," Bellatrix whispered, her hands shaking. "He must know." Voldemort was glaring at her still. "Oh, stop it!" she snapped at him. "Stop looking at me like I'm an idiot."
"You are an idiot," he responded coldly. "You should not speak of such matters. You should not even think about them."
"You shouldn't have told me about them then," Bellatrix retorted, standing up and pacing around nervously. If Dumbledore wanted to keep Slughorn safe and close to him, it meant he must have some idea and must somehow know what Slughorn had told Voldemort, when he was a boy. What else did Slughorn know, that Dumbledore was trying to find out? And whom was Dumbledore passing this information on to?
"I regret it," he told her, and when she looked at him, she could see a sort of cold fury on his features.
Bellatrix sighed, feeling tears brewing in her eyes. He'd changed back, after all. "Goodnight, my Lord," she said coolly, staring at his cold face for a moment, before turning and heading to their bedroom. She couldn't be with him when he was like this. He said terrible, cruel things that cut her very deeply. As she slid into bed, she pushed his pillows away from her, onto the floor. He wouldn't be coming in here with her tonight, she knew.