For Maisie via the Drabble Game Challenge (Bellatrix&Narcissa, Person A cares for Person B after they've experienced some sort of trauma. No matter what they do, Person B remains unresponsive. Every night, Person A kisses them goodnight and leaves, only to break down outside the door)
"Where is she?" Narcissa demands. "Where is my sister."
Rodolphus inhales deeply and looks away with a sigh. Narcissa doesn't like the way he refuses to meet her eyes.
"She isn't dead," Narcissa continues, turning to her husband. "You would have told me. Where is Bellatrix?"
Lucius takes her hand gently, his lips pulled taut into a thin line. At first, he doesn't speak, and Narcissa tries not to resent him for it. Then he sighs. "Cissy, I think you should sit down for this."
Narcissa remains standing, her blood boiling. She is not a delicate creature, regardless of what others may think of her. She stands tall and proud, her shoulders thrown back. "Tell me, Lucius. Now."
"Azkaban wasn't kind to her," Rodolphus says at last. "Her mind was already warped."
"I know that," Narcissa snaps.
"The Dementors… They were too much for her," Lucius explains. "She was already catatonic when I was taken to Azkaban."
"Lasted four years before she broke," Rodolphus adds dryly. "She screamed for you, Narcissa. Four years, always your name."
Narcissa shakes her head. It doesn't make sense. Bellatrix is strong. Narcissa always thought their parents named Bellatrix so perfectly. She was always the warrior, always ready for battle. There is no way that Azkaban could have shattered her like this. Bellatrix would pull through. Narcissa is certain that her sister must have already recovered in the few hours that she's been away from the prison.
"You're wrong," she insists. "Bellatrix wouldn't-"
"Perhaps you should see for yourself," Lucius says, stroking her cheek lovingly.
Narcissa hesitates outside the bedroom door. The silence on the other side is chilling. Bellatrix has never been one for peace and quiet.
"If you need me to join you, I will," Lucius assures her.
She shakes her head. "I'm fine," she says, and she wishes her voice wouldn't tremble, wouldn't reflect her own uncertainty.
Lucius nods and steps back. Taking a deep breath, Narcissa opens the door.
Bellatrix stands at the window, her shoulders slumped. Narcissa closes the door quietly, careful not to startle the older woman. The last thing she needs is for Bellatrix to accidentally send a Killing Curse her way.
"Bella?" she says gently, crossing the room in long, quick strides. "Bellatrix, dear, it's me."
Her sister doesn't respond. Narcissa moves closer, pausing when she sees Bellatrix's face reflected in the glass. Bellatrix has never held much warmth in her eyes, but they've never looked so dead, so hollow. Narcissa feels her chest ache as she rests a hand on her sister's shoulder.
"I'm glad you're back," Narcissa says. "I've missed you."
Silence. Narcissa shudders. Ordinarily, Bellatrix would sneer at her and tell her how disgustingly sentimental she is. Instead, she doesn't react at all.
"You should rest," Narcissa suggests, pulling her gently from the window.
More silence. Bellatrix doesn't acknowledge her. Narcissa swallows dryly, guiding her sister to the bed. "I'll bring you some hot cocoa. Just like when we were kids. Remember?"
This time, the silence doesn't catch her off guard. Narcissa presses a kiss to her sister's shoulder and rushes out of the room, blinking back tears.
"Narcissa, you can't keep doing this to yourself," Lucius says softly. "Bellatrix is gone."
Narcissa doesn't bother to answer. She knows that he's right. It's been two weeks without any change. Bellatrix remains in bed, blank eyes staring off into the distance.
Under different circumstances, she would have her admitted to St. Mungo's. However, as the Ministry continues searching for the escaped prisoners, this is not an option.
Narcissa is the only family that Bellatrix has. She is the only one who can look after her. If she's honest, she's probably the only who cares about her sister at all. Even Rodolphus hardly seems to care if Bellatrix pulls through.
"It would be kinder to let her go," Lucius says. "You're only torturing yourself."
Without a word, Narcissa takes the serving tray and leaves the room.
"It may not be good," Narcissa says. "I've had to learn to cook since Lucius lost our servant. I've come a long way, but it's hardly the feasts we were accustomed to as kids."
Bellatrix remains silent. Narcissa bites the inside of her cheek and sits on the edge of the bed. Hands trembling, she lifts the spoon and moves it to Bellatrix's lips. Her sister obliges out of reflex, slurping the soup and swallowing. There's no reaction at all.
Narcissa repeats the motion over and over until the soup is gone. Even if Bellatrix doesn't respond, Narcissa is grateful that her sister will not starve. It's hard enough to watch her like this. She doesn't think she could carry on if she had to watch her sister be reduced to skin and bones.
"Come back, Bella. Please," Narcissa whispers, her voice cracking as she moves the tray to the side.
Bellatrix blinks. Her head turns, and she stares at Narcissa for a moment. Narcissa feels her heart flutter in her chest. The sudden flicker of hope is almost painful.
But Bellatrix only leans back into the pillows, eyes still hollow, unseeing.
"I love you," Narcissa says, stroking her sister's hair. "Please, Bellatrix. I need you."
Narcissa swallows, nodding. There is no improvement. Maybe there never will be.
"Goodnight," she says, pressing a kiss to her forehead.
As she walks away, she feels her shoulders trembling. Somehow, she remains strong until she is on the other side of the door. Only then, alone in the hallway, does she break. A pained sob racks through her body, and she drops the floor with a scream.
"She is your wife! Do you really care so little about her?" Narcissa demands.
Rodolphus scowls. "Care so little? I love her. I've always loved her!"
"And yet you haven't been to visit her once."
He ignores her. "Loving her was never the issue. She's never cared for me, Narcissa. It kills me to know that she's like this because that is not my Bellatrix in that bed."
Narcissa recoils as though she's been physically struck by his words. As much as she hates to admit it, Rodolphus is right. It isn't Bellatrix. Not the real Bellatrix.
"If you see her, maybe-"
"Maybe she'll snap back? This isn't a fairytale, love," he says dryly. "She never cared for me. Hell, she never cared for anyone but you, and your presence hasn't exactly had an impact on her, has it?"
"Then tell me what I should do."
Rodolphus inhales sharply. The pain on his face is almost too much for her. His shoulders tremble, and it takes her a moment to realize he's holding back a sob.
He really does love her. Narcissa has always known that Bellatrix never loved her husband. It was always just a show, just an act of duty. But she's assumed that Rodolphus felt the same way.
"She wouldn't want this," he says quietly. "It isn't her."
"You didn't answer my question."
He grips Narcissa firmly by shoulders, his eyes finding hers. She sees the desperation there, the madness and suffering, and she realizes that she has her answer.
"You're the only one who can," he says. "Please. You know it's the only way."
"Say something, Bellatrix. Please."
Silence. By now, Narcissa has completely forgotten what her sister's voice sounds like.
"Just… Give me a sign that you can hear me."
Narcissa strokes her sister's hair, her hands trembling. Rodolphus is right. She wishes she could deny it, but Bellatrix wouldn't want this life. Bellatrix is a warrior.
"I love you," Narcissa says, kissing her cheek. "So much. Please. Just… Please, Bella."
Her sister stays silent. Her gaze remains fixed upon the wall.
Narcissa swears under her breath. It isn't fair. She may not have shared her sister's beliefs. She may have resented Bellatrix for devoting her life to the Dark Lord. But this isn't fair. Bellatrix doesn't deserve this. Narcissa curses Azkaban for what it's done to her sister.
"I love you," she says again, raising her wand and pointing it at her sister; Bellatrix doesn't react at all. "Avada Kedavra!"
When the green light fades, Narcissa feels numb. She turns quickly from her sister, disgusted with herself, and bolts from the room. By some miracle, the tears don't begin to flow until she is safely on the other side.