disclaimer: i don't own this.

author note 3/8/08: this story now has a companion, titled "brightest in the sky" - if you like what you read here, i advise you to check it out.

::if this were a riddle::

::come into this empty hallway::

he doesn't taste how she expects, he's like muggle corn syrup and bean sprouts and she doesn't like it at all. he grabs her shoulder and his long fingernails dig into her porcelain flesh. he is rough and scaly like a snake against her thick lips. the wall behind him is a mirror and she can see her own prone form: coarse, wild hair flying everywhere, feral grey eyes wide open, brow furrowed in concentration. her knees are to the floor. she is in her element.

the room is small and dark and lit by a single candle in the corner; its fiery light bounces off her slim hands, her wan face, transforming all with its blazing, dancing illumination. his eyes glow, too, red-brown and dangerous. her shirt is off; his robes are bunched up above his waist and he holds them there with one hand.

his moan is that of death and destruction and utmost beauty. she licks, she kisses, she sucks, she swallows, gulping him like air. together they are fire.

::another sea of crystal::

master, she breathes. she prostrates herself before him, flat to the ground, powerless in his presence, kissing the hem of his robe. the word has righted itself again; all is as usual. she is the servant, the one beneath, at her lord's command.

my bella, he says, always gracious. stand, my bella. on your feet.

she rises like an ocean wave, graceful, elegant. around her are the other eaters of death, the chosen ones.

my bella does anything for her lord, he announces to the room at large. my bella is loyal. my bella is faithful. i hope that you, too, may someday live up to my expectations.

to one side she has her master. to the other is her husband, her husband who suspects, who knows but is powerless to stop her slipping away from him. she fancies her husband like a fleeting crush, the momentary thought that she might be in love. he wears his silver mask, today, and she slips her hand into his.

i require your presence, tonight, my bella, her master says softly. he steps forward and cups her chin in his hand, briefly. i know you will not disappoint me.

::fly like a winged bird::

it isn't how she imagined it would be. he does not pant or moan. it is like making love to a ghost or a serpent, smoothly in and out while she gasps and cries, master, master. the bed makes not a sound beneath them. they are swathed in velvet and silk.

and afterwards, while she lies with her legs spread, gasping for air, he stands and leaves her. she is all alone with her nakedness, left to contemplate and ponder and reflect. as soon as he is gone she misses his touch, strong and firm and powerful.

she stands; dresses. every swish of robes against her bare skin reminds her of the feel of his flesh against her own. the room is very dark, and she is almost afraid of it, afraid that he will come out of the shadows and ask for more and she will have to taste him once again on her tongue.

bellatrix exits the room.