Several months had passed. Voldemort was firmly back to being irritated and angry, and although Bellatrix tried to tell herself that it was not his fault, she often could not believe that he could unwillingly behave that way. He was growing increasingly intolerant towards Draco, who had so far failed to kill Dumbledore on two occasions, and had told her on no uncertain terms that he was soon going to loose his temper with the boy.
Bellatrix knew what that meant.
So she was relieved when Draco finally wrote to her to tell her that he had found a way for them to enter the school to ensure that the deed was done. That was what Voldemort had asked for, after all. He knew Draco could never single handily kill Dumbledore.
Whether Voldemort was impressed or not, she never knew. She felt that he should be, but something told her nothing impressed him any more. It had been decided that the attack should take place in the following days. As she stared into the fire in the sitting room in contemplation, she felt her mark burn. She groaned, hoping he would sense her displeasure at having to see him through the connection they shared. She wondered why he was so lazy and what was so important about his bloody library that meant he could never leave it.
She stomped across the hallway and opened the door to the library, shutting it with a bang behind her. "You summoned me?" she said, moving forwards and looking at him. He didn't bother to look up, he knew it was her.
"Yes, sit down," he said, his voice showing his displeasure at her entrance.
"I am just fine standing here, away from you," Bellatrix replied coldly.
Then he looked up at her, and his glare was so red and so vehement that she took a step back. "Do as you are told."
Bellatrix sat in the seat furthest away from him. "I hate you, Riddle," she snarled.
She could swear she saw him roll his eyes at her. "You almost make me believe you, " he snapped back, raising a hand as she tried to retort. "Wait. I have decided whom I am going to send through this little contraption of Draco's. I would like you to be ready at the Malfoy manor upon their return, to aid if there is a battle brought back."
Bellatrix stared at him, blinking rapidly. "You mean I am not to go to Hogwarts?"
Voldemort stared back, his eyes cold. "What use are you to me at Hogwarts?"
"Well, it's not like I am going to be here whilst the event takes place, as I used to be, sucking your-"
Voldemort slammed his hands down on the table, standing up and towering over her. "Enough!" he snarled.
Bellatrix sat back in her seat and looked away from him, pleased to a certain degree that she had irritated him enough for him to loose his temper. He sat back down, releasing a heavy sigh.
"Lestrange," Bellatrix noticed the venom in his tone upon that name, "Carrow and Greyback will go to Hogwarts."
"Greyback?" Bellatrix snapped, her tone mocking. "I can see how useful he will be to you at Hogwarts. Much more use than I."
Voldemort glared again. "It is too much of a risk," he hissed quietly at her. "You know…"
"This again," Bellatrix said, rolling her eyes at him this time.
"Yes, this again," Voldemort said, his tone dangerous. "You should be thankful that I care for your wellbeing." Bellatrix snorted, trying not to laugh. He ignored her. "What will you give me in return, if I do consent to your going?"
Bellatrix scowled at him. "What do you want?" The way he eyed her, up and down, for a moment made Bellatrix shudder. She swallowed, realising. "No way."
He smirked at her. "You would usually be jumping at the chance."
Bellatrix shot him a look of disgust. "Why would you want that from me?"
"You know I want my heir."
"Children should be born from love," Bellatrix hissed back.
"You love me," Voldemort said, his voice neutral as he stood up and walked towards her. "As I love you."
"You have a curious way of showing it," she replied, feeling uneasy as he walked behind her. She could feel his hands in her hair. Then she could feel his breath on her neck and he was using her hair to move her head down to one side so that he could kiss her neck. An involuntary moan escaped her lips. In this position, it could be Tom, and she was helpless to refuse him.
"Bella," he whispered. "Please do not pretend that you hate me."
Bellatrix tilted her head to look at him, and his red eyes were soft as he looked at her. She couldn't lie to him. "I love you, Tom, as you know full well, but this is wrong."
"You cannot deny your love," he replied. Bellatrix stood, and he stood tall with her. As their eyes met, he smiled a little bit. "But you are within your rights to deny me this. I will not force you, of course."
Swallowing, Bellatrix narrowed her eyes at him. "But if I refuse, I cannot accompany the others to Hogwarts?"
Voldemort shrugged his shoulders, turning away from her slightly. She could sense the disappointment he was trying to hide. "You may go, as if I could stop you," he responded, his voice slightly bitter. She wondered if he thought he had pushed her too far. Part of her wanted that to be so, and she wanted to avoid his advances. But she found she could not. She loved him, no matter what he did, and that love was steadfast.
Slowly, she reached out and took his arm in hers, turning him to face her. "Thank you," she murmured, stepped forwards and pressing a kiss to his lips. He nodded. Bellatrix could feel desire coursing through her blood as she looked at him, but she couldn't do anything about it right now.
"Just go," Voldemort said, his voice emotionless. He turned away from her and sat back down, picking up a book.
Bellatrix stared at him, before nodding. He understood. As she left the room, she couldn't help think about the power she still had over him. And in denying him what he wanted… She wasn't sure, but perhaps it was the way forward.
As she reached their bedroom, she rummaged around one of her underwear drawers for a present he had bought her once, from muggle London. To say that she was aroused was an understatement by far.
Afterwards, when she was sated, she stared at the ceiling. She felt bad that she had brought herself pleasure and denied him. But he sounded like he wanted to use her, and she couldn't allow him to do that. At some point, and some point soon, this would all be over. And whatever the outcome, she wanted their relationship to be as wholesome as it could be. Because the outcome would mean eternity together, one way or another.
Bellatrix stepped out of the vanishing cabinet at Hogwarts a few nights later, suddenly staring into the face of her nephew. He was looking at her in absolute terror, red rings around his eyes like he had been crying and obviously trembling.
"Drakie…" she murmured, reaching out to grip his shoulder.
"I… can't…" he whispered back, his voice shaking.
"You must," Bellatrix said, pushing him away from the cabinet so that the others could come through. "You have to, Draco, it'll be quick and I'll be…"
"What is the problem here?" Rabastan asked loudly. "What is wrong with the boy?"
Bellatrix rolled her eyes, turning to face him. "None of your concern," she snapped. She looked back to Draco. "Find him and hold him!" she hissed, pushing him away. Draco's face was crumpling as he turned away. Bellatrix knew that this moment would be the hardest for him, although she was now doubting Draco had it in him. Maybe he was too much like his mother.
Bellatrix rounded on the group stood by the cabinet. "We are here to support Draco," she told Rabastan. "He is only young…"
Rabastan shoved past her. "He's not that young," he called back over his shoulder.
Alecto was staring at Bellatrix, her eyes round. "Will he do it?" she asked.
Bellatrix could see that Alecto didn't think Draco could do it, but there was some sort of maternal instinct there too. She shook her head. "I don't know." She turned and followed Rabastan out of the room, finding her feet as soon as they left the room. It was surreal being back at Hogwarts after so many years. If things went well for them tonight, then maybe she would be spending some more time here.
When they made it to the astronomy tower, Draco was pointing his wand at Dumbledore. Bellatrix could see his entire arm shaking. Dumbledore looked calm, as if he was expecting it. His wand was by his side, but Bellatrix supposed he had very quick reactions.
"Good evening, Bellatrix," she heard Dumbledore say.
Bellatrix stepped forwards into the light, feeling cautious. "Albus," she replied, frowning slightly at his lack of fight. The others followed her forwards, standing just behind Draco.
Then Snape came up the opposite staircase, staring towards the scene impassively.
It was Dumbledore. Bellatrix looked towards Draco, who was lowering his wand and staring towards Snape pleadingly. Snape was ignoring Draco, staring instead to Dumbledore. His face was maddeningly blank.
He didn't have a choice. It was his life, or Dumbledore's. Snape's eyes flickered towards her for a split second, but she noticed it. She could feel the magic in her blood tingling, like it knew how close Snape was to not doing the job Draco had failed to do and like it knew Snape was close to breaking his unbreakable vow. It was ready for him to die, as was she. It would prove everything to the Dark Lord if he didn't do it, but of course he would already be dead by then.
And then, suddenly, the deed was done and they were on their way down through the castle and heading to the grounds. It was all very surreal to Bellatrix, she couldn't believe that Snape had done it and she hated to think how pleased the Dark Lord was going to be with him, over Draco. Snape was leading the way, as if he was in charge, but Bellatrix couldn't think about that. She was walking close to Draco, who was still shaking but walking with his head held high still. He didn't know what was going to happen to him. Bellatrix didn't even know what was going to happen to him.
As they reached the grounds, she could hear a spell coming towards her. Instincts taking over, Bellatrix turned to defend herself. The spell was aimed at Snape, and it was Potter. Her insides tingled with rage as she saw him, and she raised her wand, ready to kill him herself.
"Leave him!" Snape was shouting at her. "He is for the Dark Lord, not for you!"
Bellatrix could see Snape dragging Draco away from Potter, who was yelling at Snape. She couldn't hear, she could only see red. Alecto had her hand wrapped around Bellatrix's wrist, speaking urgently to her, but Bellatrix couldn't hear over the noise in her head. She wanted to kill Potter so desperately. He had ruined her life.
"We have to go, Bellatrix," Alecto was telling her. "The Dark Lord…"
Bellatrix inhaled sharply, knowing she was right. "I'm coming," she said through numb lips. "Where is Draco?" she said, a moment later when she couldn't see him, turning to look back to Snape, further up the hill. She could see Draco with him, hurrying towards them. As they stepped out of Hogwarts grounds and into the forest, Bellatrix disapparated.
The hall at Malfoy manor was dark. Then Lucius appeared from a doorway, staring at her and Alecto. Rabastan appeared behind them, Greyback hadn't bothered coming back.
"Where is he?" Lucius whispered.
"He is with Snape, he won't be long," Bellatrix replied softly.
Lucius nodded, his face showing relief. "The Dark Lord is… In the library…"
Bellatrix nodded back, seeing Lucius disappear. Narcissa was banned from the library when the Dark Lord was present because she irritated him so much, and so Bellatrix knew that she should take Draco to see him. She noticed Lucius had not asked what had happened, she guessed neither of them cared much about that.
She jumped as Snape apparated behind them, with Draco in tow. Bellatrix moved quickly towards him, putting her arms around him. "Nothing to worry about," she whispered. "Nothing to worry about, Drakie…"
"You don't need to lie," he replied, his voice shaking. She pulled back to look at him, seeing the tears in his eyes. He was terrified.
"Just go in, and tell him the truth," Bellatrix said firmly. "Do not try and make it seem better, just tell him exactly what happened. Head high. You are a Malfoy and a Black." She beckoned up the stairs, to the door leading to the library. Swallowing heavily, Draco led the way.
Snape was staring at her. Bellatrix shook her head lightly at him, and for a moment then had some sort of a connection. It was clear he did care for Draco, whatever his intentions were, and that was something that they had in common.
They walked up the stairs together, in silence, and reached the top when they could hear Draco knocking. The three of them entered the room together.
Bellatrix could feel herself shaking in fear now. The room was dim, the fire was crackling and she could see Nagini on the hearth. Voldemort was sat at a table, apparently relaxed with a couple of books open before him. He looked up, and Bellatrix shivered as she could feel his stare on them.
Draco stepped forwards, kneeling in front of the Dark Lord. "My Lord," he began. Bellatrix thought his voice sounded strong and she was surprised.
"You reek of failure, Draco," Voldemort commented coldly.
Draco swallowed bowing his head for a moment before looking up. "I did fail, my Lord," he answered. He was under the cruciatus curse barely a second after he had finished speaking.
Bellatrix closed her eyes as she heard his screams, hoping that Narcissa couldn't hear them. But she knew this was as much of a punishment for Draco's parents as it was for him.
Calmly, Voldemort looked to Snape, ignoring the screams. "You performed the deed, Severus?" he asked.
Snape bowed his head. "I did, my Lord."
Voldemort looked towards Bellatrix. "Did you have something to tell me, Bella?" he said, his voice still cold.
Bellatrix swallowed, shaking her head. "No, my Lord," she replied, trying to control herself.
"Then why are you here?"
Bellatrix stared at him, mouth gaping. "For my nephew, my Lord," she replied, coughing slightly and then cursing herself for doing so in front of him.
He stopped the spell on Draco, who was laid on the ground panting. "You can go, Bellatrix."
Staring at him in hurt, Bellatrix stepped forwards, about to help Draco up. "I am not finished with the boy," Voldemort snapped at her. "Do you think I would let him off that lightly?"
Bellatrix could feel her lip trembling as he spoke to her. Unwilling to cry in front of him, Bellatrix turned away and left the room. She couldn't go far though; she needed to make sure that Draco was alright. She decided to wait outside of the door. She instantly regretted that decision as she could hear more screaming. It seemed to go on forever, and she knew that Narcissa and Lucius would definitely be able to hear. She was amazed that they were not both up here right now, willing to risk their lives to save their son.
What seemed like an age later, the door opened, and Snape appeared, holding Draco up. He was ghostly white and his eyes were bright red, with blood and tears.
"His room is this way," Bellatrix murmured, putting her arm under Draco's other armpit to help him to walk. With great difficulty, they helped him to his bed and to lie down. Bellatrix gasped as she could see torn robes and blood leaking out from below.
"What did he do?" Bellatrix asked Snape, seeing Draco's eyes shut. Snape looked up at her, and his eyes said enough. It had been bad. "Help me undress him," she said softly, trying to pull robes off of him. Snape sat him up slightly, supporting his weight as Bellatrix pulled his clothing off. Snape pulled out his wand, murmuring healing spells. Bellatrix didn't know how she wasn't crying. "Put a warming charm on him, he's freezing," Bellatrix said, squeezing Draco's hand. Snape nodded through his chanting, and then there was silence.
Draco was unconscious. "He will need a blood replenishing potion," Snape said, his voice cold.
Bellatrix looked at him through the tears in her eyes. "Why do we do this?" she asked him.
Snape shook his head. "Don't say it, Bellatrix. Don't even think it." He strode towards her, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Draco will be fine. What does not kill him… Will give him strength." Bellatrix inhaled sharply, staring at Snape. His words shocked her. He was more like her than she ever knew. "I will fetch the potion for him and speak to his parents." He pulled the comforter over Draco, tucking it in slightly. "Stay with him."
Snape left the room, leaving Bellatrix sitting over Draco. When they were alone, Bellatrix allowed the tears to fall freely. She wished things had turned out differently.
Bellatrix was half asleep next to Draco when she heard the door behind her opening. She sat up, expecting to see Narcissa but it was the Dark Lord. She winced as she saw him, standing up in a hurry. She wondered how long she had been there for.
"My Lord," she mumbled, standing in front of Draco protectively.
He was staring at her. "You have grown to care for the boy too much," he said, his voice cold.
Bellatrix couldn't deny that she cared for Draco at all. She did, very much. He was her nephew, and probably the closest thing she would ever have for a son.
"I pity him too," she replied softly, unable to look at him so she stared at the floor instead.
"Is he going to live?" Voldemort asked, a sneer on his face and Bellatrix knew that he was mocking her.
"We gave him some blood replenishment," Bellatrix replied, ignoring his nastiness.
"Precious baby," he said, his tone mocking still. "I am going home, Bellatrix. Do inform Narcissa that there is quite a mess in the library to be cleaned up." With a final cold stare at her, he was gone. Bellatrix exhaled, looking down to Draco. She hoped that he had finished with him now, and Draco could be as free as he could to get on with his life for the time being.
Seeing Draco was fast asleep, Bellatrix headed to the library to clean up the blood herself. Narcissa would surely faint at such a sight, and Bellatrix was hoping for a quiet evening. Trying to swallow the feeling of sickness, Bellatrix cleaned the library with a quick flick of her wand. Voldemort was so horrific at times, and she didn't understand why he insisted on being that way.
She started to wonder if Narcissa was all right after a while. It had been ages since they'd got back. She headed down the stairs and went to find them. As she entered the room, she could see Narcissa asleep on the sofa, her face tear stained, and Lucius sat on the floor leaning on the same sofa, staring at the wall. He looked up at her as she entered.
"Is he dead?" he asked, his voice a croak.
Bellatrix frowned, walking closer to him. "He's fine, Lucius," she said softly. "Why did you think that? Snape was going to come and tell you."
Lucius nodded. "He did. But sometimes… the Dark Lord… he waits until you feel safe."
"He's gone home," Bellatrix replied softly. "It's all over."
"Are you sure?" Lucius asked, his voice doubtful. "You know he blames me for the prophecy…"
"You know he cannot kill Draco," Bellatrix said flatly. "He's the heir to the Malfoy and Black names. He is too important."
"Well, I thank Merlin for that," Lucius replied, standing up and heading for the drinks cabinet. "Drink?" he inquired coolly as he poured himself a large glass of something.
"Better not," Bellatrix replied after a pause, sitting down in the armchair. She liked to keep her wits about her now, especially because the last time she'd had a drink she'd ended up throwing up all over Voldemort. He was not amused, either.
"You risked a lot insisting you would go to Hogwarts with him for this," Lucius said, sitting back down on the floor. She had never seen Lucius sat on the floor before, nor had she seen Narcissa asleep on a sofa. Even when Draco was a tiny baby, keeping them awake throughout the night, Narcissa was perfectly composed at all times.
Bellatrix nodded, smiling bitterly and looking down at her hands. "Well, I am not completely useless to him, for which I am thankful. There is some reason that he wants to keep me even now."
She could hear Lucius swallow his drink, and when she looked up the glass was empty. He stood up, heading back towards the cabinet for more. "He treats you carefully, most of the time, from what I have seen." Lucius finished his second glass at the cabinet, before pouring another one. Then he turned to look at her. "Like a precious doll. Like he doesn't want to break you."
"His words break me," Bellatrix replied softly, looking up at Lucius. "His cruel words. I would prefer… to be cursed."
Lucius moved towards her, a frown on his features. "You are right," he said quietly. "I feel like I am a broken man… Yet he has never raised his wand to me, like before. His words cause such mental pain…"
Bellatrix felt tears prickling her eyelids. She hated that the man she loved had turned into this monster that was capable of wounding people deeper with his words than with his wand. "Perhaps we should feel privileged," Bellatrix said after a moment, smirking slightly at Lucius. "After all, it seems only to be those who have known him for the longest that suffer this. We are his favourites."
Lucius chuckled softly, sitting back down on the floor. He seemed comfortable. "You still adore him."
Bellatrix nodded. "Each time I see him anew… I wonder if this could be the moment when he will change back to his usual self for good."
"You are disappointed every time?" Lucius asked, his tone curious.
"Most times," Bellatrix replied, smiling slightly. "There were a few days, last year, when he seemed like his usual self. Then that time passed." She shrugged. "And sometimes there are moments, where I can see a battle, like there are two sides fighting for dominance."
"Let us hope that the other side wins soon," Lucius said, his tone light.
Bellatrix nodded. She hoped so too. "Well, goodnight, Lucius." She stood up. "I shall come to check on Draco tomorrow, but he should be feeling fine by then."
Lucius nodded, catching her hand in his as she walked past him. She looked down at him, frowning slightly. "I will never be able to thank you enough for what you have done for my son. It is my belief that you have saved his life, and his soul."
Bellatrix's frown deepened. "My sister does not agree with you there."
Lucius shook his head. "She doesn't understand how this works. She is innocent."
Bellatrix nodded, that much was true. "It is what any aunt would have done." She smiled at him, unable to believe how much their relationship had changed.
Lucius nodded and let go of her hand. "Goodnight, Bellatrix."
Bellatrix smiled once more, before disapparating back home. As she climbed the stairs of the dark hall, slowly and as quietly as she could, she could see light from the fire coming from the slightly opened door of the library. As she got closer, she could see Nagini slithering out through the gap. The snake paused as it saw her, rearing her head back slightly as if ready to attack, before her forked tongue tasted the air. Then she hissed, loudly, before slithering straight past Bellatrix and down the stairs.
A cold chuckle came to her ears, and she knew that Nagini had just told him she was there. She scowled. "Why don't you come in, Bella?" she heard him call, and the door creaked further open. Bellatrix did the only thing she could think of, and turned away from the library and headed to their rooms. She could hear his laugher echoing after her, but as soon as she shut her bedroom door, the sound was gone.
She inhaled sharply through her nose, before breathing out and heading to the bed. She hoped she was safe from him tonight, often when he set up in the library he was there for days without food or sleep.
"Maybe that's why he's so irritable," she muttered to herself as she got into bed.
Knowing that Draco was safe, Bellatrix slept better that night than any she could remember.