Author's note: This story was origninally written in German. Translation work and beta-reading were done by PercyWeasel and Ellen Fawkes – thank you!

Obviously I do not own these characters, it's all JKR's stuff. I wrote this for fanfiction readers only, no money is made with this.

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Never before have I kept a diary.

Never before have I felt the need to express my innermost thoughts and feelings. But tonight, that need is overwhelming; and there is no one that I could confide in.

I shall try. I shall try to write down those thoughts that haunt me. Maybe that will make them go away. After all, it is better to confess to a piece of paper than in a living soul. I can always burn the paper. I shall burn this diary when I am done writing.

They think me insane. I can see it in their eyes; I can hear them whisper behind my back. Even my sister avoids me sometimes. What they do not know is that I am not mad anymore. I know madness. I have experienced it in the long years in Azkaban. Those months after our break-out were a slow, painful awakening. I could barely control the way I spoke and acted. It is a horrible thing when one feels how defective one's own mind is. Thoughts would not obey me. Memories long forgotten re-emerged, and others disappeared. It is a painful thing to know that one is insane.

What the others do not realise is that I slowly gained control again. I focused on tiny little things first. Never shall I forget the feeling of gratefulness when I could read again – read a page first, then a book; without my concentration wandering. I could remember again what the last page had told me. That was the moment when I knew I could return to my old self. Madness is a state that can be overcome.

The Dark Lord was the only one who understood. Never have I used Occlumency against him. He saw my thoughts, my memories, my painful awakening. And he understood. He knew when I was whole again. He knew when I was ready for revenge, for responsibility in his services. When no one else would have trusted me, he made me his Queen again.

Almost all my life I have served this man. The Greatest Wizard of all times they call him, and I know it is right. Serving him became my religion when I was seventeen, and I have not strayed from that path even in those endless years in Azkaban. My love for him has kept me alive there; it has kept that little part of my mind which guarded my last bit of sanity.

Love. A strange word. They say a dark creature cannot love. That is wrong. Love and hate can be felt by every one. My love for the Dark Lord has nothing to do with the romantic, sappy notion most people refer to when they speak of love. I love him because he is the centre of my world. He is; that is why I love him.

I have known other kinds of love. I love my husband – loved him. I think I love my sister and my nephew. But I feel so estranged from all of them. They are of my blood, and I shall ever protect them. But the Dark Lord is he who governs not only my heart, but all of my soul. Or so I thought.

So I thought. Dare I write it down? Dare I voice those heretic thoughts? I have to. They will not leave me otherwise, and I want to ban them from my life. I have overcome insanity by sheer willpower. Overcoming this new weakness will have to be done the same way.

He called me back to his side when he saw I had healed. He made me his most trusted servant again, knowing my eternal loyalty. Oh, I saw the envy in their eyes. I saw Pettigrew play the ever-faithful servant, the devout slave. I saw MacNair and Goyle and even Lucius and Rodolphus, whispering behind my back, plotting how to separate me from my master again. I saw Severus Snape, trying to convince the Lord of his loyalty, trying to replace me. The Dark Lord, he sent them all away. I was his Dark Queen. He would trust none but me.

What was it that went wrong at the Ministry? I was the only one who fought successfully. I did not allow myself to get caught, and I killed that blood-traitor Sirius. What a shame to have suchlike in the family! It was not my fault the others could not stand up to the battle. It was not my fault the prophecy was lost. It was not my fault that the fool Dumbledore escaped death again.

But I was the one who was punished for it all. Why? Why did he have to torture me? He had never before used Cruciatus on me. He should not have done it. Was it not me who has proven that one can drive a person to insanity with that curse? How could he have used it on me, not once, but four times, for endless hours?

It was not right. It had not been my fault. But the shame was even worse than the torture. To have fallen from his grace like that, to be left, laying on that damp floor; too hurt to move. And my Lord just laughed and left me there. None of the others came to aid me. They strode away with him, complimenting him. Laughing at me. He left me there like a doll he did not need any more. Left me there to be found by the one man I mistrust more than any one else.

That was the worst part. My Dark Lord, how could you have left me there so Severus Snape could humiliate me? Severus, of all people. Severus Snape – I hate the sound of that name. My Lord, did you send Severus to pick me up? He said so. I said you would not have done that; and he just laughed.

Fallen from the Dark Lord's grace and picked up by Severus. Never in my life have I felt worse. I do not know how long I must have lain there on the cold floor. I remember only the searing pain when I tried to move, the weakness that prevented me from getting up, the shame when I realised that I had stained my robes. And suddenly there was this face I hate so much. Severus, looking down at me.

He laughed at me, jerked me upright and let me drop again. I should have spat into his disgusted face when he wiped his hands off after touching me. But I couldn't. I was too weak, too hurt, and too alone. To think that Cissy told me I should be grateful he came to save me. Cissy says I would have died had he not taken care of me. I would have preferred death to that treatment he gave me.

Why don't I faint like other women do all the time? Why did I have to endure his whole "treatment" consciously? Why have I not lost track of those hours, when other memories are lost forever? Severus may be a skilled healer, but he is a cruel one. He tore my dirty robes off me and plunged me in cold water until I was clean and fully awake. Oh yes, he did take care of my wounds and mended my broken wrist. But I have had treatment before, and it has never hurt so much. Never before had healing potions tasted so bitter and made me feel so violently sick. And never before has the healer mocked me for crawling on the floor. After the treatment, he just pushed my naked body into a bed – his bed! – and went to report to the Dark Lord.

How I hated him when he came back with Cissy. She had brought me clothes and actually thanked him. Never in my life shall I trust this man, and yet tonight he has done something I would not have expected him to do.

Cissy and Draco stayed with me the past few weeks. The Dark Lord would not have me in his house any more. We had to go back to my husband's house. I never much liked the place, but it is safe from the aurors at least.

Cissy actually is relieved that I am not close to the Dark Lord any more. She does not understand how I suffer from this fall. My body has healed, but the scars in my soul will never heal. There is no Queen of the Dark any more. I, the first woman to become a Death Eater, have not heard from my Lord in months. He would summon my nephew to him, and sometimes even Cissy. But not me. I am forgotten, a toy he does not need any more. My irrational sister, she is glad of it! Her son has more sense than that. He understands the greatness of the Dark Arts. I have taught him whatever he wanted to learn, and he is an apt student. The boy has his grandfather's talents. How proud I was when Draco was admitted into the Death Eaters' rows! I have become a foolish hag. I thought the Dark Lord would surely see Draco's skills; that he would understand it was my doing; that I had taught the boy. Draco Malfoy, the youngest Death Eater ever… But soon I understood this was no honour for our family. The Dark Lord has set Draco an impossible task. Draco cannot be ready for this; he is matched against an enemy too powerful.

Dumbledore. Draco is to kill Dumbledore. Draco is nothing but a pawn to the Dark Lord, a piece of chess he likes moving about. And it is such a clever design. Really, my Lord has shown his greatness again. As long as Draco is in danger, Cissy will obey every one of the Lord's orders. But Draco will die. He will be taken from our family. This is Lucius's punishment for the failure at the ministry. Our Lord has lost his prophecy, Lucius will lose his son in turn. Were he not my Dark Lord I should hate him for it.

Draco does not understand. He thinks he will succeed, and all I can do is prepare him as best as I can. Cissy is too weak a witch, and she has never truly understood the irresistible beauty of the Dark Arts. She could not teach him. I shall teach Draco, and if he fails, I shall be proud of the valiant effort my nephew made.

But Cissy is in a state. The Dark Lord has forbidden her to tell anyone of Draco's task – anyone including me, a stinging thought reminds me. But she has told me. And tonight she has made what I believe could have been the biggest mistake of her life. She has told Severus.

I shall never understand why she insists on trusting him. He still holds that power over her that he had as a young man. Sometimes I wonder what he did or said that made her fall for him. Maybe it was simply that Lucius was away all the time. My sister is a weak person; she needs reassurance constantly. Her handsome, rich husband left her alone too often while she was pregnant. I don't think Severus ever took advantage of Cissy – no, she would have told me. I would have seen it in her mind. But when Lucius was away, she remembered her friend Severus from school who came to see us all the time. Considering his past, he was remarkably high in our ranks. Lucius was so irritated with this deprived half-blood who rose to so much power without proper ancestry or upbringing. I think Cissy liked Severus even more because Lucius detested him.

Maybe this is why she insisted on seeing him tonight. She always believed he was no traitor, even when it was obvious for everyone else. We never found out what it was that made him change over to Dumbledore's side. We, I say. It is wrong. I know in my heart that Severus became Dumbledore's spy, and some others believe it, too.

But the Dark Lord believed in Severus then and he still does now. Maybe he is right. He cannot be mistaken; it must be my mind that is playing tricks on me again. Yet I have the strong feeling that Severus was, and is, a traitor amongst us.

Cissy trusts Severus. I tried to hold her back, but she would not listen. I had to go along with her despite the risk of being caught by aurors. We went to see him in his low class house in Spinner's End; a mere shack crammed with dusty books. That he should live there makes him even more suspicious. After our Lord's rebirth, we all stayed in the Riddle House with him. Severus lived there when he "nursed" me back to health. Why has he moved away from our master? Why would he prefer such a run-down hut to his rooms in the Dark Lord's manor?

He was mockingly polite when we intruded on him. But there was something else in the air, a feeling I could not quite place. Cissy had not wanted me to come along. I know Severus does not like me; he would not want me in his house. But somehow, tonight I had the impression that he was glad I had accompanied Cissy. He answered all my questions, and I must admit he did explain thoroughly. What struck me as odd was the fact that he did consent to talk to me at all. For months, he has refused to answer when I tried to question him, but tonight he talked. Was he actually glad to talk to me? Because the alternative would have been talking to Cissy?

He knew about Draco's task, at least he said so. But after that vow he took, I think we can know for sure that he did. At first, I thought he was reluctant to help Draco because he did not want Draco to succeed. But then he took the vow. If he does not help Draco or kill Dumbledore himself, he will die. Did he maybe not want to help Draco at first because it is against the Dark Lord's orders? Can it be that Severus is faithful to the Dark Lord after all, that he would not want to go against the Lord's commands?

I am confused. Writing this down has not helped me in sorting out my thoughts. It has made me relive my sorrows and humiliations, and it has left me with two conclusions that have to be wrong. I do not love and trust the Dark Lord like I used to. And I think it remotely possible that Severus may, in fact, not be a traitor after all.

My heart cries out against these conclusions. Everything I ever believed seems wrong all of a sudden. I could not tell Cissy, I could not tell Draco. And I have no one else left. My husband is in Azkaban again, but would I tell him? I shared his bed for years but we never much shared our thoughts.

Is this insanity again? Have I maybe not recovered after all? Or do I think straight for the first time in my life?

The Dark Lord – he is the one pillar that supports my whole world. I cannot break from him; my world would shatter to pieces. But there are suddenly cracks in this pillar. All I can do is hope it will not collapse. I have to work on keeping it strong.

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Two months have passed. Have I really kept this writing for so long? What if anybody had found it? But I have kept this booklet well protected. No one could open it without serious effort. No one is likely to find it at all.

Reading the thoughts I had back then does help me understand my thoughts tonight. I worry for my nephew. I never should have thought it possible that I should feel so deeply for a child. I used to say I would give up my children for the Dark Lord. Maybe I would have done it back then. Today, I feel bad about sacrificing my nephew. My Lord, I know this is foolish weakness. Do forgive me my feelings. Should Draco perish, he will do so while attempting a great task.

I have thought of a way Draco could use to reach his goals. I bought a cursed necklace from Borgin and Burkes and sent it to Draco. If he can make Dumbledore touch it, it should kill him right away. Who knows, my nephew might succeed after all. I'd be so proud of him. Surely, the Dark Lord would allow me back in his rows then.

Today, Severus came to see Cissy and me. Really, he came to see Cissy, but later on, he talked to me. What a secluded life Cissy and I have led over the past few weeks. Even I was almost glad to see Severus's face, at least, he was a new face to speak to.

He came to report to Cissy how Draco is proceeding. It seems Draco does not get on well with repairing that Vanishing Closet he has thought of as a way for entering Hogwarts. And he refuses Severus's help. Considering his situation that is rather silly. But I feel proud of the boy. Draco is a true son of the Blacks and the Malfoys. He would refuse help from a low class half-blood, no matter how powerful and helpful that half-blood might be.

Cissy was crying – again – when Severus had finished his report. She is such a weak thing, my young sister. For a moment, I thought she'd fling herself at him again. I imagine he might have feared the same, because he hastily got up from his chair and backed away. Cissy ran from the room. It was the first time Severus and I were alone after he had healed me.

"So do you still think me a traitor?" he asked right away. I have never seen a man who shows fewer emotions. Even the Dark Lord does not appear as cold as Severus is.

"I don't know," I replied.

He just shrugged. Most likely, my opinion does not matter any more.

"What about you?" he suddenly asked. I did not know what he meant, or rather, I did not want to know.

"Do you like it here?" he went on. "Away from your master? Alone, useless, a pitied madwoman? Do you still feel loyal to him after such punishment?"

I think he was testing me. He wanted to see if I'd react like a sane person. I mustered all my dignity and told him that I, of course, did not like it. That I wanted to serve the Dark Lord again. He stared at me for a few seconds, as if pondering my answer. For one moment I think he did legilimence me – well, he tried. I blocked it right away.

He left then. I don't think he enjoyed the visit to our house. He tried to taunt me some more, telling me that if I did not like sitting in my house all day, I could of course always join the war on the other side. "Dumbledore always forgives," he sneered. "Just spin him a tale like I did, and you can enjoy a nice life in Hogwarts where everyone will admire you for changing sides. They might even have tasks for you; you could have a far more active life than this country seclusion you suddenly seem to have taken to."

I hate this man. He is not content with pushing me from my place by the Dark Lord's side; he has to rub it in that he is now the master's favourite servant. I may not be the Lord's favourite any more, but I am still a loyal Death Eater. I would never betray the Dark Lord. Or would I? His pointed remarks have made my disappointment re-surface in my mind. Did he spot that little seed of doubt before I used Occlumency?

And if he did see it, what will he do now? Will he tell our Lord that I have fallen from him? But I never would!

Or did Severus mean it, that I should seek my luck with Dumbledore's side? I have never considered this thought. The Dark Lord is my life. I hope Severus does not report any lies about me to our master.

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October 23rd

Severus has paid another visit to our house. Draco's attempt with the necklace has failed, a student touched it first. She didn't even die.

Draco has, however, succeeded in smuggling some poison into Hogwarts. Considering the security they keep there – according to Severus – that is quite an accomplishment. Poison is a safe way to put an end to an unwanted person's life.

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February 28th

Draco did not come to see us during the Christmas holidays. Of course, I had expected that – what time would have been better to make a second attempt? But Cissy was all excided and said she could not live without her son. It sickens me how she goes on and on about how grateful she is that "dear Severus" watches over her son. She will not understand how dangerous the man is. Maybe he is neither on our side nor on Dumbledore's. I know he is lying about something. Or are these just the ravings of a madwoman?

It was the love for my Lord that made me overcome insanity. Am I drifting back into that world of dysfunctional thoughts and cravings? I need to see the Dark Lord. I need to be with him, to prove my loyalty. I need him, but he has left me. The only Death Eater I ever see is the man I hate.

But actually, do I still hate Severus Snape? He has come to see us many times now. Always he talks to Cissy first, and then to me. He taunts me, we quarrel, and yet I have come to look forward to his visits. The reason is quite simple. I am a wanted criminal; I cannot leave this house – Cissy had to go and pick that necklace up. There is absolutely no one I could talk to except for Cissy. We do not even have servants.

I spend whole days thinking about Severus. Whatever happens, he is my only hope now. Apart from Cissy, I have only one person left in the world, and that is her son. I will not see my nephew again if Severus does not help him.

And the Dark Lord will not allow me to return to him unless Severus speaks up for me. Sometimes I think he might do that – or does it already. He makes remarks about how much easier my life would be if I joined Dumbledore's side. But he also compliments me for not doing it. Of course, I would not dream of betraying the Dark Lord. Severus and I have arguments over the matter, especially when Cissy is not here. I think the Dark Lord has sent him to test my loyalty. I cannot serve my master now, but I can convince Severus that I would like to. It feels so strange that now I have to prove my loyalty to Severus because I do not know if he is loyal himself. The man is an enigma. But I shall find out what the truth about him is. After all, I have nothing else to do all day.

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March 3nd

Draco's second attempt to murder Dumbledore has failed, a student was poisoned instead. One of the Weasley blood-traitors, Severus said. Shame he did not die.

Sometimes, I wonder if Draco's heart really is into it. Maybe he was too young to become a Death Eater after all. He has failed again. Two failures and each time, no serious damage happened. This looks almost as if Draco does not want to fulfil his task, as if he's only pretending.

The Dark Lord is furious. He has summoned Cissy to him yesterday. She came back crying, and Severus accompanied her. She thanked him profoundly for escorting her, but he cut her short.

"It's your sister I wanted to see."

There was no reason to see me. What did he want? He left after five minutes. I had strange dreams the following night. There was a person I tried to send away, and another one standing behind me. I know Severus was one of them, but I don't know which one.

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April 12th

I think if I spend one more day in this house, I will become insane again. I want to be out there, with my fellow Death Eaters, doing something. Anything! I cannot stand this solitude any more. Even Azkaban was better, there at least the Dementors kept our minds occupied with bad memories. And I had my Dark Lord to concentrate on.

Here, I have two persons to think about. Half of the day I spend wishing the Dark Lord would summon me to him. The other half of the day I wonder when Severus will come to see us again. I try to tell myself that I want him to come because he will tell me about our master, but I know that is not the reason why I look forward to his brief visits. I am at the point where I don't care any more whose side he is on as long as he protects Draco. I cannot spend the rest of my life secluded in this house, with Cissy as my only company. At least Draco must survive, too.

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April 28th

Last night I awoke from a dream, screaming "I curse you!" at someone. Only after a few seconds I realised that I had dreamt of the Dark Lord. I do curse him. I was his most faithful servant for the better part of my life. I know he does not forgive mistakes easily, but this is too much. I did not fail him in the Ministry – the others did, but I did not. I curse him for torturing me, for humiliating me, for pushing me aside like a doll. I don't know what I am any more, but I am not his disciple any longer.

I tried to tell Cissy. She did not understand. She looked at me as if I was going mad again. Dear Cissy, really she is a bit stupid. She has never been a Death Eater herself. She has no idea what it means to turn away from the Dark Lord.

I wish Severus would come to see us again. He has not been here for more than 3 weeks. I could tell him. I need to talk to someone, someone who will understand what is going on inside my head. He is the only one left I can turn to.

If he is loyal to the Dark Lord, this will mean my death – and if he's loyal to Dumbledore, he will most likely take me with him and send me back to Azkaban. Any of these options is better than my present situation.

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May 11th

Severus came to our house again today.

I do not know how to relate what happened. I am overwhelmed. Thankfully, Cissy was not at home.

Immediately after he had come in, I made that fatal confession. He looked at me in disbelief. Then he crossed the room, pinned me against the wall and held my head between his hands.

"I need to know this for sure," he said only. Then he forced me to open his mind to him. I would not have objected if he had asked, but he didn't bother with that. He hurt me and I did try to defend myself in consequence. It felt as if he was raping my mind, forcing me to present the memories he wanted to see. I think I may not have realised what a powerful wizard he actually is. Clearly, I would stand no chance against him in a battle.

Finally, he had forced me to relive my dream and to repeat my curses against the Dark Lord. He let go of me and pushed me a little away from him.

"Bellatrix Lestrange. Not a Death Eater any more."

"Yes." I did not know what else to say.

"So why did you tell me?"

"You just forced me to show you that. I cannot stay here any longer. I will not lose my mind again. Anything is better than this."

He was silent for minutes. I kept trying to read his face. Every line in this face, every gesture he makes – I now know them so well. How often have I dreamt of him now, how often have I cried out and wished for him to come and relieve me of the burden of my own thoughts.

"What do you think will happen now?" he asked with reservation

Somehow I knew that a lot depended on my answer. I decided to please him.

"You will go back to the Dark Lord and report me. You, or someone else, will come to kill me for it."

He stared at me for a long time. There was disappointment in his face, and some bitterness.

"Wrong answer, Bella," he said slowly. "Wrong answer. It's too late to start trusting me from that Death Eater point of view. You were right all along; I was the traitor."

Suddenly I felt terribly sorry for what I had said. That frustrated man in front of me was unmistakably no ally of the Dark Lord. I knew I had hurt him somehow, and I wished that I hadn't.

"Do you know why I left the Dark Lord, Bella?" he asked. "Why I decided to support Dumbledore's side?"

I shook my head, not knowing what to say. His voice was all bitterness when he continued.

"Because I saw what the Dark Arts could to do a person. I saw the woman that I loved turn into a monster. The Dark Arts are intriguing to me, but she was possessed by them. She was beyond reasoning, like the Dark Lord himself."

"And you did not want to become like her?" I asked him.

Suddenly I felt this strange fancy that maybe I could comfort him. I had loved the wrong men for all my life. All of a sudden, I realised that I had not only become obsessed with him in the past few months, I had developed a feeling that I had not recognised as affection because it seemed so unlikely.

My love for the Dark Lord had turned into revulsion. Suddenly I found that the hatred I had always felt for Severus had slowly changed into something like love.

"No," he said sadly. "I did not want to become like her. It took me more that a year to find enough strength so I could turn away from her and become Dumbledore's spy. She was not mine anyway. But I always stayed close to her and tried to get her away from it all. She would not listen. Instead, she turned against me."

"Just like I did," I said full of remorse.

And then, in that instant, I understood.

I reached out for him, but he backed away.

"It is too late now, Bella," he said quietly. "Much too late. I will not report you to the Dark Lord, of course. But I will have to make sure you go back to Azkaban. You know too much about me know. Even if you do not relate it deliberately, others might force you to tell them."

I wrote a fake note to Cissy, explaining that I had left the house. Then I gave my wand to Severus and followed him quietly. Sometime soon, the Daily Prophet will report that the Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange was caught by a team of aurors.

He took me to Hogwarts first. Dumbledore questioned me for a while, but I could not tell him much. I have asked them not to tell Draco that I am here. It would endanger his and Cissy's lives if they ever learned the truth. Severus has promised to me that he will watch over Draco.

Dumbledore left us alone to say goodbye. Severus leaned against the wall and watched me quietly.

"Is it really too late?" I asked him.

He came closer and stroked my cheek gently – the first time one of us ever made a friendly gesture to the other.

"I am afraid so," he said. "I loved you, Bella. In those past months, when I watched you change, I almost hoped… But what is broken is broken. There is no feeling left in me."

"Then go," I told him as quietly as I could. "Go and try to save my nephew. Tell him not to make the mistakes I made."

He smiled sadly. "I will try my best."

I know that he will. But even he might not succeed.

It is dark outside now that I have finished this last entry in my diary. I shall leave it here openly instead of burning it.

They have locked me in a quite comfortable room. There even was a house-elf that brought me some dinner.

Of course, the window is too small for me, and there is nothing in this room I could use for a weapon. I will have to break the water glass and use the sharpest piece.

I will not go to Azkaban tomorrow.