He was running, running, endlessly and without pause. He knew not where he was running to, not where his final destination was, not where he was at present, not where the Aurors were positioned and waiting to catch him . . . soon, he figured, he would not even know his name. But nothing really mattered to him in that moment anyway, and certainly not something as trivial as his name; for really, what had his name ever done for him? What had anyone ever done for him? What had life ever done for him, even? Strange how disjointed and yet how clear the senses and mind were at the height of adrenaline.

He ventured on, running wildly through the thickets and trees. His head was clouded, and yet his thoughts were strong as they popped out at him; his muscles ached from not being used like this in so long, and yet he could not feel the burn; his throat was parched, and yet he did not want to drink; his breathing came out in short, haggard spurts, and yet he did not stop, could not stop . . .

They were looking for him, he knew it. Not just him, all the Death Eaters. Sure, there would be trials held at the Ministry, but what in the world could he possibly say in his defense? He was guilty of the crimes, he did not regret his actions . . . all he regretted was . . . but no, he would not think of her, not now, not ever again.

The battle was over; Potter had triumphed over the Dark Lord. The thing that Rodolphus Lestrange had dreaded and feared for years, the death of his master, had finally happened. So why did he find that he did not care one whit, why was it that the penetrating hurt deep within him came not over the Dark Lord's demise, but over someone else's? Because it shouldn't, he knew, it shouldn't . . . but it did. Terribly. Wretchedly. But, no, he would not remember her, he did not need her, and even if he did, it didn't matter, there was nothing he could do anymore . . . still, his eyes stung with bitter tears for the first time in many years as he thought of her yet again.

I always needed time on my own
I never thought I'd need you there when I cry

He did not know how long he was running for, did not care how long he ran, though this was not saying much seeing as he did not care about anything more . . . but eventually, he reached a destination, a destination he knew very well. And though he had not planned to, he went inside.

The house was just as it always was: dark, impressive, grand. He should know: it was his very own house, after all. But it felt different, somehow, knowing that it was just his house now, and not theirs.

He knew it was stupid to stay here. This would most likely be the first place the Ministry looked for him, after all. But he found that, just like everything else now in his life, he did not care if they found him or not. Would life really be so much better on the run than it would be in Azkaban? Might as well just stop here for a bit, get a few hours sleep. So he went up the stairs, his stairs, and fell onto the bed, his bed, pulling the covers around him. The singular possessive of the items made him feel strangely hollow again, and his eyes stung irritably once more. He wiped them with the back of his hand roughly, rolled over, and somehow managed to fall asleep despite his heavy thoughts. Well, he was very tired: servants of the Dark Lord did not have the most regular sleep patterns.

He was not sure how long he had slept, just as he had not been sure how long he had kept running, and he wondered vaguely if he would ever be sure of anything ever again. But it was still dark outside when he awoke, so he concluded from this that not much time had passed, only a few hours at most.

Rodolphus rolled over onto his other side, and felt an unexpected lurch of his stomach: she wasn't there. He had known, of course, that she would not be there; for she was gone, and she therefore would never lie beside him again. But it still sent an icy pang through his heart . . . well, probably not a heart, he mused, because Death Eaters didn't have hearts, of course, everyone knew that. So perhaps just the dry, rotten remnants of his heart.

The remnants still hurt enormously strong for something so broken.


And the days feel like years when I'm alone
And the bed where you lie
Is made up on your side

He hadn't thought he would miss her like this. Sure, they had been married, but it had been a meaningless marriage, arranged by their parents right from the beginning. That wasn't to say he hadn't been pleased at the time, because what man would have been displeased by being able to call the lovely Bellatrix Black their own? Only a fool man, of course.

She had never loved him. He knew that. From the start, she had made that clear: had made it clear that he was to keep her respectable pureblood reputation, had made it clear that he was to satisfy only material and physical pleasures, and nothing more – of course, she had never said this out loud, but it was still made plain. It was not that she had disliked him, in fact in the early days of their marriage – before Azkaban had destroyed them both – they had gotten along fairly well. But she had still never loved him; he doubted she could ever be in love with anyone, in fact. She had developed a deep lust for their lord during the later years of her life, he knew, but it was not real love, it was not the same.

And he? Had he ever loved her? He had certainly admired her, respected her: she was the dark glimmering trophy on his otherwise dusty shelf. And in their early years, he might have fallen in love with her, had they not been thrown into Azkaban . . . but they had been put in that horrid place, and being separate for all those long years did nothing to build the bonds between them. That Muggle saying about time making the heart grow fonder was true bullshit. But then again, neither of them had hearts (being devoted Death Eaters), so maybe the Muggle really had been right? How would Rodolphus know if the filthy Muggle had been right, really, if he could not speak from experience, if he did not have a heart?


When you walk away
I count the steps that you take
Do you see how much I need you right now?

In any case, he had not ever truly been in love with his wife – she was so distant, so unpredictable, so close to insanity, how could he have? No, he had never loved her, not in that way . . . that was, at least, what he had always thought until her death. For as he had watched her fall to the ground – her form bending backwards to meet the floor – her eyes still open wide . . . something had clicked into place, something heavy had fallen into the pit of his stomach, something had happened. Or maybe it wasn't that something new had happened, maybe it was just that he had never noticed it before. But whatever it was – whether it was something that had always been there and he had never noticed, or something that was newly sprouted – it was huge. Heavy. Painful. More painful than anything he had ever felt before in his life, and considering what his pathetic, miserable life had consisted of, that was saying quite a lot.

He stared at the empty spot on the bed for several minutes more, seeing the outline of her form, the form that was not there. Then he forced himself to turn the other way, crouching into himself, willing himself to stay put, to not move, to not care. But he did care, damn it, damn him . . . damn her.


When you're gone
The pieces of my heart are missing you
When you're gone
The face I came to know is missing too

In one movement he had leapt off the bed and was pacing recklessly down the stairs. He meandered into the parlor, and stepped up to the wide window panes that faced their backyard . . . his backyard. He looked out at the garden, looked out at the trees, looked out at the bushes and flowers and grass and walkway until it was all he could see, until he was a part of the shrubbery and nothing more, because what difference would it make at this point if he were bush or man? She wouldn't have liked him any more or less if he were a bush, would never have reciprocated the same feelings as he even if she were still living . . . but then again, if she were still alive, would he ever have become aware of these feelings in the first place to tell her at all?

Rodolphus pushed his face against the window. Why could he not get her face out his mind? Why could he not numb himself to feelings, the way he usually had all these years? He had become quite good at concealing and bottling emotions – he had become a professional at it, he liked to think. He'd had to, from the time of his youth and throughout his adulthood. So it was probably a good thing, he mused, that the one time he did not have to control his feelings, he wasn't. For though he would like to control his emotions, was there really a point to it? Would any bad come of not hiding how he felt? Because there was really no one to hide from . . . maybe there never had been.

He was confusing himself with all his contradicting and colliding thoughts. His head hurt, and had the pain in his chest not been so much worse, he probably would have been grumbling. But he did not grumble about it, and he did not try to remedy it either, for he did not care. Or did he care, and just not care enough to do anything?

There he went again, over thinking everything, and really, what was the point of thinking at all? The pieces, the remains of his heart were quite keen on coiling and twisting themselves repeatedly inside of him; supplying endless images and memories of her, so what was truly the point in doing anything else? And so he stopped trying to become part of the garden, stopped trying to do anything, letting the scraps inside him take the reins, and again he watched the scene that had happened only mere hours ago . . .

She was fighting, dancing, spinning and twirling rapidly, laughing with glee as she fired off hexes at the three teenaged girls; for this was what she lived for.

But then Molly Weasley came running out of the crowd; the girls parted and drew back, and the two women dueled, fiercely, ferociously, deadly, and there was no laughter in his wife's face anymore.

He had not been paying attention before, had been occupied fighting off several students, but everyone had fallen back to watch the females' battle and the Dark Lord's, because they could sense that both aimed to kill. And so he did as the rest did; keeping his wand out and alert, turning to watch the two fights.

The floor split beneath their feet, and he merely looked on, still not riled or concerned; for this was his life, this was routine, the fighting and the killing and the pain around him but never within him, for he never had any reason for pain, he was never a victim, he was far too supreme.

And so he went on watching idly, just watching, watching as Bellatrix jeered at her combatant, "What will happen to your children when I've killed you? When Mummy's gone the same way as Freddie?"

Watching as Molly Weasley retorted in a shriek, "You – will – never – touch – our – children – again!"

Watching as the old, familiar joviality filled Bellatrix's face, and she gave an exhilarated cackle – and then she was struck by a curse. Her features froze, her eyes went wide, and then she fell, her body arching almost gracefully backwards, falling, falling, and she hit the floor, and Rodolphus felt something great and huge rise up within his chest, something he had never known existed before, something roaring in denial and screaming in disbelief and crying in agony . . .


When you're gone
The words I need to hear to always get me through the day
And make it okay
I miss you

He crumpled to the floor as the memory faded. But even as the recollection disappeared, he could still see her face – her lovely face distorted and hollowed by all those years in Azkaban but still beautiful to him – could still see her, see her body, see her body falling, falling, again and again and again, hitting the floor and lying still; and he just standing there, motionless, doing nothing, nothing, because he was nothing without her; but why had it taken him so damn long to see that?

He did not want to think of her anymore, but at the same time, he did not see the harm in continuing to think on her, for was he not already harmed enough? Still, he did not want to, it was painful, too painful. Was this what the victims of his curses felt like, or the ones who cared about those victims? He had never thought about what they might be feeling when they discovered their friend or sister or parent had been killed, had never really cared . . . was this the sort of suffering each of them'd had to endure?

He should have felt guilty for his actions, now being able to really understand what he had done . . . but he didn't. He didn't feel guilty. Why should he? They didn't concern him, they were nothing to him. And they hadn't lost her . . . they hadn't lost his Bella.

It was different for him.


I never felt this way before
Everything that I do
Reminds me of you

He wound his wedding ring around his finger, examining the fine gold engravings, thinking about all the tiny piece of metal represented, all it meant. It had meant he was hers, and she his, though at the same time it had meant nothing, for though they were both always faithful, they had still never truly cared for one another. Until now, he reflected bitterly, until now. You suddenly decided to love her when she's gone. How perfectly fitting, Lestrange, how perfectly inane and ill-timed.

But would it have been better to know beforehand? Would it have been better to recognize his feelings while she was still alive? If he had, it might have made things more complicated between them, for he would have always been concealing the fact from her. In addition, he probably would have been more jealous over the attraction she felt for their lord. Perhaps it was better he had not realized what'd happened to him until now . . . but what did he know of love to make such conclusions?

He got to his feet and began traipsing around his house – just for something to do – looking at each of the rooms in turn, as memories of her sprang at him from every corner. She had sat in that chair as she read a book; she had looked out that window as she waited for her sister; she had opened that door as she left on yet another mission from the Dark Lord; she had glared at him over that table when he'd said something stupid; she had laughed when he first brought home that ornate but still somewhat gaudy pot; she was everywhere, everywhere, and yet she was nowhere, and so therefore he was nowhere, and it was driving him absolutely insane . . .

He paused in the doorway. One of her cloaks was there; dropped carelessly, no doubt, on her way out the door. Without thinking, he fell to his knees beside the cloak, lifting the material in his hands; caressing and feeling and smelling and cherishing and loving it as he never could her anymore. But the cloak was a part of her, one of the only parts he had left, and if he could pretend, even for a second, as he buried his head in the fabric . . .


And the clothes you left
They lie on the floor
And they smell just like you
I love the things that you do

He couldn't take it anymore, he couldn't stay here. Not because he was worried the Aurors would show up soon and catch him, but because he was afraid he would end up drowning in the memories: there were too many of them in this house. Clutching her cloak in his hands, he wrapped it into a tight bundle, cradling the fabric in his arms, and then he pushed open the door and started on a long directionless walk through the dense forest. He shielded the cloak in his arms from loose branches waiting to ensnare objects; he did not care what happened to his own clothes, but he would not let the cloak become damaged. So he stomped on through the thicket, pushing past the bushes and wild growth, kicking up bark as he went.

And then he saw her. She was up far ahead, nearly half a mile, but there was no mistaking her, not for him, at least. His footsteps increased from their slow march to full speed within less than a second. All thought and reason and sense were gone, all he knew was that was her, all he knew was he must get to her, all he knew was that he needed her and she was about to come back to him. His legs pumped, his short hair whipped back, his eyes fixed on her steadily, and his breath was quick and soft as he went onward, closer, coming nearer – he was merely feet from her now, any second he would be beside her, with her . . .

"Bella!" he croaked, nearly delirious with unbridled happiness.

She turned slowly, stunningly. Her eyes met his. She smiled fully, genuinely, the smile he had not seen upon her face since she had been in Azkaban: the smile of true joy. He stumbled forward the last few feet towards her, and grabbed her in his arms, closing his eyes as he took in a deep breath to inhale her scent – but he smelled nothing, he felt nothing – where had she –

He opened his eyes. His arms were stretched around empty air. Bellatrix was nowhere in sight. She hadn't been the entire time. He should have known that it was not her, that it was merely a trick of his own mind, why had he been so foolish to delude himself that she had actually, that she had somehow. . . . He gave a gasping, rattling breath as he fought the sharp prickle behind his eyelids, a breath that hurt his chest terribly, still staring at the spot where she had never been.


When you walk away
I count the steps that you take
Do you see how much I need you right now?

He continued on with his aimless walk through the woods – what else could he do? There was nothing else to do, not anymore, no lord to serve and sacrifice for and accomplish 'tasks' for . . . and so he trekked on, clinging to her cloak, oblivious to the tears in his clothes from stray branches, listening to each painful thud of his heart's remnants against his chest, wondering if wherever she was she knew that he was thinking of her . . .

"So, that's it, then?" she said, as they entered the new house for the first time, their new house, throwing her cloak onto the coat rack as she stepped over the threshold.

"What do you mean, 'that's it'?" he asked, following.

"That's it," she repeated. "We're married now. All the preparations, all the arrangements, all the endless conversations and bickering sessions and talks and exchanges our parents and 'betters' had, it's all over and done with. The thing's happened. We're married."

He inclined his head, but questioningly, not quite sure he saw her point.

"My parents spent so much time picking a suitable husband, and going over how to have a proper wedding, and who should go on the guest list, and so on and so forth. It just seems like it was an awful lot of build up for something that, in the end, really only took a few minutes: I mean, once we said the vows, that was that. Was the rest really necessary?"

"They just wanted what was best for you," he said, shrugging one shoulder.

She rolled her eyes. "No, they wanted what was best for their reputation. Not that I can entirely blame them, one has got to uphold a certain image these days what with all these falling standards. Even so . . ."

"You're unhappy with where it's all lead you?" he suggested idly, indicating himself with a wave of his hand.

"What would you say if I was?" she asked slyly, and though her eyes glinted and her mouth curved upwards, it was hard to tell whether or not she was joking.

"I would say it doesn't matter, because I'm not giving you away now," he growled, and daringly, he wrapped an arm around her shoulder, pulling her closer to him. "I worked too bloody hard for this to let you go away."

"Oh, I only belong to you now, do I?" she said, mockingly.

"Damn straight," he muttered roguishly, and she rolled her eyes but did not pull away when he moved the hand resting on her shoulder into her hair, combing his fingers through it proudly, possessively. He had gotten her at last, all his courting her had paid off: for her parents had taken notice, and deemed him a suitable match. They had become engaged, and here they were, nearly a year later, but even so. He had won her, she was his, and he was not going to give up such a pretty and unflawed creature after all his effort.

He felt disgusted with himself now at the memory, at how he had used to think of her as only property, as only something to be won. How had he ever been able to think of her in such a way? How could he not have been able to recognize her for the woman she was? How could he have only been able to see a 'prize' that he had managed to snatch? He shook his head, as though hoping to clear away his past actions in doing so.

He suddenly realized that it was not just his own footfalls he was hearing against the bark and twigs; someone was behind him. He turned his head around to see several cloaked figures.

"He's making a break for it!" said one of them, a tall burly man, and all the people took off running.

Rodolphus didn't stop to think; he just reacted, digging his feet deep into the ground as he bolted away, running, running, running, just as he had done mere hours ago as he went away from Hogwarts; running endlessly, onward and onward, his legs knowing he needed to get away, his mind only knowing Bellatrix, same as last time he had ran.


When you're gone
The pieces of my heart are missing you

His legs were pumping, but not because he was being chased, because of her voice in his ears; his heart was racing, but not from terror, from her face in his mind; his breathing was shallow, but not because of physical exertion, because of her presence, so close yet so far . . .


When you're gone
The face I came to know is missing too

He did not run for long. He should have known he would not; they did, after all, have wands. So did he, but it had not occurred to him to use it in such a moment of reflex.

A spell hit him square in the back, knocking him to the ground, his body sprawling in dirt; and again he saw her, falling against the cracked floor of the school . . .


When you're gone
The words I need to hear to always get me through the day

Hands grasped his body, heaving him upward. "Yeah, definitely a Death Eater, it's one of the Lestranges," one of them said.

"Should we go to the Ministry?" another asked. "For a trial?"

"No, this one has escaped prison twice, both times from a life sentence – of course he's going back to Azkaban."

"Practically belongs there, then, eh?" said a third, with a slight chuckle.


And make it okay
I miss you

His wand was confiscated, but he clung to her cloak like it was his life preserver. The men were already jubilant at their capturing him (they were not Aurors, he found out, but new guards of Azkaban prison), so they did not press the issue, and only proceeded to magically bind and levitate him into the air. First he was Side-Along Apparated to the edge of a lake – a lake he remembered well – and then he was being thrown into a little rowboat.

The guards magicked the boat across the lake, watching him warily as though thinking he might try to escape. But he didn't try to. There was no point. There was nothing out there for him, outside of the walls of a jail cell, so what difference did it make if he sat in Azkaban the rest of his life or not? And so he sat there motionlessly, and after a while the guards merely fixed their eyes on the looming tower that was their destination, that was Azkaban prison, that was the place he had spent much of his life and would continue to spend the rest of his life residing within.


We were made for each other
Out here forever
I know we were
Yeah yeah

His hands still bound together behind his back, he was shoved inside the prison, down the long, grim corridors. His capturers passed him over to someone older, someone who looked more experienced and worn and used to this short of thing. The man, obviously a guard of Azkaban, led him the rest of the way and then paused in front of a cell, jingling the keys, searching for the one that would unlock the door. Once he located it, he thrust the key inside the keyhole and twisted, then pulled the door open.

"In you go," he said to Rodolphus, pushing him inside, and the former Death Eater did not try to resist.

"And what is this?" the guard asked, grabbing Bellatrix's cloak which was still held in Rodolphus' bound hands. Rodolphus clutched it tighter but did not speak, and the man raised his eyebrows. "Sorry, it's got to go, you ain't supposed to bring anything in here but the clothes on your back."

Rodolphus shook his head, but continued to be mute; he could not remember how to use his voice.

"Come on now," said the man, attempting to prize the cloak from his grasp; and after some time of this he grew tired of the little wrestling match, and pulled out his wand, whisking away the cloak from Rodolphus and shutting the door without a backwards glance.


All I ever wanted was for you to know
Everything I do I give my heart and soul

Rodolphus heard the key twist, knowing he was locked in yet again, and he fell back limply against one of the walls of his new cell. The one part of Bella he'd had left to hang on to was gone, he would never get it back, he would never get any part of her back. She was gone. She had left the world, left him. He had nothing to hold fast to now, nothing to let him pretend for even a second; his throat knotted and made breathing very difficult as the strange something in his chest began howling again.


I can hardly breathe

I need to feel you here with me
Yeah

He slid down the wall until he was sitting awkwardly. So here he was again. Trapped in Azkaban for the third time in his life. This was nothing new to him at this point; he had spent a total of fifteen years here. So why did it feel so different this time?

The key was sweaty in his hand, and he fumbled a little before finally fitting it into the lock. He was finally leaving the hellhole; finally, after Merlin only knew how many years he was leaving, he could rejoin the Dark Lord and continue his life.

The lock clicked, he swung the door open: and there she was.

"Bellatrix."

In one quick movement he was drawing her into his arms, gripping her tightly. His wife was his again.

"Rodolphus," she gasped, sounding shocked. He could not remember hearing her so surprised in a long time. "What – I – "

Briefly he explained what was happening: that the Dementors were now on their side, that they were letting the Death Eaters escape, but they must go quickly before the authorities came. He knew he was babbling, and that he probably did not make much sense, but when he took her hand and tugged she did not resist, and followed him out of the building. Together they moved quickly under the starry sky, talking a little but mostly hurrying along in silence. But that was fine by him: just the feel of her hand in his made him feel quite satisfied.

But there would be no escape this time, and even if there was, she would not be there to witness it with him, which would mean it was really not an escape at all, merely a passage into continued misery . . .


When you're gone
The pieces of my heart are missing you

And the memories continued flooding rapidly through his mind: good memories, bad memories, old memories, recent memories . . .

"And they got away!" she seethed, pacing back and forth across the floor, as he sat upon their sofa, listening to her tale. "Potter and the Mudblood and the stupid Weasley boy got away yet again!"

His blood was boiling just from having to listen to her recount the story: of how Potter and his friends had been captured, how they had been brought to Malfoy Manor, and how they had performed yet another lucky escape.

But one of them needed to retain a level-head, so he said, "At least it was only a copy of the sword, and not the actual one. That means they haven't been in our vault."

"Yes," she agreed, and this seemed to calm her, though very slightly; the muscles in her face loosened but she continued pacing back and forth, flexing and unflexing her fingers. "That is true." Her momentary composed state disappeared, and her face darkened. "But they vanished yet again! And they stole my wand!"

"We had a spare," he pointed out.

She rounded on him, features livid. "Rodolphus – "

"I know, it's not the same," he replied quickly. "But at least you are not left in the same state as your sister: she's given her wand to Draco, to compensate for his wand also being taken."

She nodded, opened her mouth as though to respond, then closed it, all very calmly. "Our lord calls," she said, touching her left forearm lightly before padding lightly towards the door: and that was the end of the conversation.


When you're gone
The face I came to know is missing too

Their trial was finished; they had been found guilty, just as he'd known they would. Silently he rose from his seat and followed the Dementors out of the courtroom, though his eyes darted towards Bellatrix as she called out,

"The Dark Lord will rise again, Crouch! Throw us into Azkaban; we will wait! He will rise again and will come for us, he will reward us beyond any of his other supporters! We alone were faithful! We alone tried to find him!"

And her words rang true within every part of his being, and he felt a pride that it was her who had spoken these words, and not someone else, that it was his wife that'd had the integrity to say such words.

But she would speak no more words, not to him, not to anyone, whether they were full of integrity or not . . .


And when you're gone
The words I need to hear will always get me through the day

And make it okay

Her face was a serene mask when she emerged from the room, and he rushed for her immediately, taking her shoulders and holding her at arm's length.

"How did it go?" he asked.

She chuckled and scoffed, though her facial expression did not change. "Perfect, of course. The best moment of my life." And she rolled up her sleeve, revealing the new tattoo upon her arm, the black imprint of a skull and snake. He smiled at her; now they were both in the Dark Lord's service, and no fact could have made him prouder in that moment.

They walked together out of the building, and he was about to Apparate back to their home, when she took his sleeve and tugged. He looked over at her, puzzled. She smiled once and lay down on the grassy expanse, beckoning for him to do likewise. Wary, but curious, he lay down beside her. She was gazing up at the stars, listlessly, but somehow still attentively.

"I don't think I've ever been more ecstatic," she mused contently. "It's finally happened, I am finally one of his, I am finally a Death Eater."

"It's incredible," he agreed, for the Mark had been burned into his skin just last week, and he had felt quite similar things.

"I feel like, at last, I'm doing what I was meant to do," she went on. "That this is where I'm meant to be. And when he looks at me . . . I feel so privileged, so special . . ."

She had never been so honest, so open, with him; it was a new situation. But he listened carefully to her, nodding continually as she continued on for a bit longer about how wonderful it was to finally be one of the elite: to be working for the Dark Lord.

". . . and he asks if I am sure I am willing to serve him for a lifetime . . . 'of course I'm sure!' – I felt like shouting. 'This is what I've waited for my whole entire life'. Why would I not serve him for a lifetime? Why would anyone not?"

"Well, there are, unfortunately, imbeciles who would," he replied.

"I want you to promise me something, Rodolphus," she said suddenly, strongly. "If I ever start to act like one of those imbeciles – don't laugh!" she chided, as he burst out into a short fit of chortles. "If I ever start to imitate one of them, and say something illogical and absurd – "

"You would never," he told her, grinning.

" – and I say that I do not want to serve him – I want you to bring me back to my senses immediately. Slap me, curse me, hex me, I don't care, I want you to make me return to my right state of mind, understand?"

"Bella – "

"Promise?" she said again, and her tone left no room for debate. "Promise you will bring me back before I do something stupid, promise me you will be there and smack my wits back into me?"

He had to swallow to wet his suddenly-dry throat; had there been hidden meanings in her words just now? Was she saying more than just the fact that she wanted him to keep her from acting an imbecile, was she also saying that she never wanted him to leave her? Of course he was a loyal husband, of course he did not cheat on her, but had she actually developed real feelings for him, feelings of the romantic nature? The thought startled him, confused him; he had not had much experience with love at all.

"Rodolphus?" she said, impatiently. "Are you going to promise me or not? Do I have to curse you into making an Unbreakable Vow over the issue?"

No, he thought with a smile. She felt for him just as little as he did for her: it was all property, belongings, it always was.

"I promise," he said.

The memories were suffocating, drowning, overwhelming. But they were all he had now, he realized suddenly, and they, at least, could not be taken away from him. And so Rodolphus curled into himself, his back against the wall, his empty eyes staring out blankly as his beloved Bella danced in his mind; and he let himself drown in the memories.

I miss you

-----

A/N: Avril Lavigne owns the song When You're Gone.

"The Dark Lord will rise again, Crouch[. . ."from GoF, pages 595-596 of the US hardback edition

Dialogue between Molly Weasley and Bellatrix Lestrange in the flashback is taken from DH, page 736 of the US hardback edition.