I Could Never Say These Words To You

Disclaimer: all Harry Potter names, characters and locations belong to J.K. Rowling. I own nothing that you recognize.

His actions spoke volumes to her, speaking when he couldn't bring himself to say the words she longed to hear.

His pale hands conformed to her lean figure, her body fragile, wasting away after more than a decade in prison. And yet her spirit remained unbroken, unfaltering, always true. That is why he came back for her, returning after all these years to retrieve his most faithful servant.

She and her darkness enveloped him, the walls crumbling as he lifted her from the floor. He traced her collarbone with his fingertips, and uncovered a pulse in the crook of her neck. His lips took the place of his fingers, lingering briefly against the warmth of her skin before taking her unconscious form and stepping into the moonlight.

Their bodies vanished in a flourish of swirling fabric, shadows embracing, collapsing beneath a ceiling of stars, only to come again when he materialized on the steps of Malfoy Manor.

He lifted his head, the winds howling, heralding the return of darkness. A minute passed, one moment lost in his embrace as a groan slid past her lips, and she opened her eyes to the sound of his voice.

"Bellatrix," he crooned, his voice like that of the cold, cruel winds tugging on her matted locks of raven colored hair. "You're safe, Bella. And this time I promise they'll not steal you away so easily."

The door squealed in a desperate plea for oil, swinging forward as Lucius stepped aside, bowing and allowing the Dark Lord to enter his home. He then chose that particular moment to look down at the ragged bundle in Voldemort's arms, gasping as her fingers stiffened, twisting into claws as she cooed and pawed at her master's face.

Voldemort's eyes narrowed, glaring at him as he swept past. He continued upstairs and laid her on the bed, hoping that time would restore her senses. And yet she remained, twisting and writhing, her head and neck constantly moving, her back arching, rising off the mattress as she opened her mouth and cackled. Her behavior forced him to conjure bars, holding her prisoner during her fits so she didn't tumble off the bed and onto the floor.

He did what he could to protect her, his fallen angel, broken by unseen forces that lurked in the shadows of Azkaban. Sometimes he would lower the bars, beckoning her with a wave of his hand, only to watch her arms lifting and falling like those of a marionette, her movements jerky, unnatural.

When she managed to rise, he took her by the hand and guided her to the desk. She stood for but a moment before her nails scraped against the furniture, her hands reaching and groping as she bent her back and screamed.

Both her mind and body had twisted beneath the weight of madness, the minutes passing like the longest night in winter, with his hand on her back, holding her steady as her fingertips danced across the oaken surface.

"Look," he said, grasping her chin and forcing her to look at her reflection in the mirror over the desk. "Do you know who you are, Bella?" A pause, the words lingering on the tip of his tongue before he allowed them passage. "Do you remember me? Do you remember what we were before your imprisonment in Azkaban?"

Bellatrix burbled and laughed, her fingertips leaving streaks across the glass. She fell across the desk, reaching for what he didn't know.

He had always known the words she wanted him to say. Tender words of love and devotion, whispered in darkness where no one else could see. But now it was too late, his words falling on deaf ears, her eyes blind to all but her own reflection. And while he could have easily discarded her, throwing her out like a worthless piece of trash, he chose to keep her by his side, letting his actions be the words she sought before madness stole the memories of who they were.