A/N: Written for the wonderful Dark Lady Z over at Mugglenet Fan-Fiction, for a Slytherin Sneaky Cupid exchange. She requested this pairing, so I gave it my all. :) I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
She knows that it's silly, the way that she feels about him. She knows that he'll never feel the same way about her. She knows that she's married, and shouldn't feel this way about him in the first place. She knows that nothing will ever come from her feeling this way.
But she also knows that she is already completely in love with him, and that there is nothing to be done about it at this point. It just is.
Bellatrix sits in her garden one day, reclining lackadaisically on her side atop a blanket. It was only a few weeks ago that she was still trapped inside of Azkaban, only a few weeks ago that she was caged inside of that wretched place . . . and yet, now she is free. She is free. Her lord released her, just as she knew he always would. She always knew that he could come for her one day, she being one of his most faithful.
After being locked up for fifteen years, she finds pleasure in simple activities. Just being outside in her yard, as she is doing now, is a very relaxing feeling. Granted, it is perhaps not the smartest thing to do – the Aurors are looking for the newly-escaped Death Eaters even as she lies there. But their house is under many sorts of enchantments. It would be very difficult indeed for those dim-wits to find her.
She rolls over lazily onto her stomach. Her eyes are met with a bright purple flower, sticking out in solitude from the dirt. How did it get there? Neither she nor Rodolphus have inhabited this place for fifteen years – no one has. And even when they did, gardening was never something either of them practiced very much. They had better things to occupy their time with: they had their lord to serve, after all. Still, this one flower is there, standing up stubbornly, pressing itself away from the dirt. Absently, she reaches out with one hand to stroke the delicate petals against her fingertips.
"Bella," says a deep voice, and turning her head slightly, she sees her husband coming out of their house. He smiles at her, drops down beside her on the blanket in a sitting position.
"Hello, Rodolphus," she says quietly.
It is hard for Bellatrix to put into words exactly how she feels about Rodolphus. Yes, he is her husband, and he is also her partner, her equal – they have quite a similar mind-set about the Dark Lord, they are both equally devoted to him. And he, too, quite enjoys the Cruciatus Curse; he, too, has quite the temper; he, too, is a pureblood who detests anyone who does not have the purest blood running through their veins. And it is not that she dislikes him, they get along – very well actually, considering their marriage was arranged. But when she thinks of him, sees him, smells him, hears him, is with him – it is nothing like what she feels when she is with the Dark Lord. Not even close. So in some ways, she despises him, for not being her lord, for being in the way of she being with her lord – and yet, she also does not despise him, for she knows that without him, she would be alone, and that would be most unfitting for a pureblood woman of her stature.
It is hard for Bellatrix to put into words exactly how she feels about Rodolphus. It is, of course, harder for her to put into words exactly how she feels about the Dark Lord, for such a deep love is nearly impossible to reduce to some letters and syllables.
"It all feels so different, doesn't it?" he says, when she continues to vaguely contemplate the flower in silence.
"What does?" she asks.
"This. Being here. Outside of those cement walls. It's as though . . ." He trails off, laces his fingers through some blades of grass. "Everything is exactly the same as it was, and yet . . . different." He gives a violent yank of his hand, and the grass strands lift up effortlessly. He grasps them between his fingers for a moment longer, then drops them to the ground. He looks towards her. "Do you – understand what I mean?"
She nods slowly. "I think I do."
The couple is silent for a few minutes. Rodolphus is the one to break the silence.
"Valentine's Day is tomorrow," he tells her, teasingly.
"It slipped my mind, to be honest," she replies, and then looks over at him, smirking. "I hope you weren't expecting a gift, because you aren't getting one."
He puts a mock pout on his face. "That's a damn shame, then, because now I have to return the gift I bought for you."
"Is my being your wife not enough of a gift?" she cries in sardonic dismay.
"Not nearly," he responds haughtily. "I would have thought you could at least buy me a nice bottle of champagne."
She grabs the stem of the flower she had been fingering, pulls it up from the ground, and then offers it to him. "Will you accept this instead?" she questions, looking deep into his eyes and pretending to be wounded.
"Are you kidding?" he scoffs, putting up a hand and waving her away. "Absolutely not. What on earth would make you think that I would accept a mundane flower as a present?"
"Fine," she says arrogantly, "I shall just give this flower to someone else, then."
"Yes, go find some other man to present your silly, meaningless, commonplace flower to," he snips back. "I'm sure that he'll appreciate it greatly."
Unbidden, the image of her doing just this – of giving this silly, meaningless, commonplace flower to the Dark Lord – flashes through her head. She shuns it as soon as it enters, but Rodolphus knows Legilimency just as she does: and from the way his face changes ever so slightly, from the way that his eyes ever so slightly lose their bright, teasing spark, she knows that he has seen it.
She knows that he does not care for her in the way that she does her lord. But even though he doesn't love her, she is sure that it is still painful for him to know that his wife is in love with a man that is not him, and never will be.
Their eye contact breaks then, and an awkward quiet follows, a quiet that is only disturbed when Bellatrix feels a familiar burning upon her forearm.
"Our lord calls," she whispers, still not looking into his face directly, and throwing the flower into her robe pocket, she Disapparates.
"Good afternoon, my lord," she says, dropping down to her knees before him.
"Bella," he responds, and tingles roll down her back as he fondles her name on his tongue, escaping from his mouth in a pleasant hiss. "Rise, Bella, rise. I have work for you."
"Of course, Master," she says, and stands.
As the Dark Lord speaks, she listens attentively, of course, for she always listens very closely when he is speaking to her. And yet, as she listens, she can't help contemplating the flower in her pocket. She can't help contemplating giving it to him. Yes, it is silly and meaningless and commonplace, just as Rodolphus had said – and yet, it would still mean so much, for it would be the feelings behind it, not the actual flower, that made a difference. Then her lord would truly know how she felt about him. She could see everything exactly how it would play out before her: she would kneel at his feet – she would stare into his beautiful eyes – she would tell him that she had something for him – she would withdraw the flower from her pocket – she would tell him that he was her only, her love, her Valentine – she would hand the flower to him, telling him all that it represented, all that it meant – she would be drawn into his arms – she would –
No. No, no, no. None of this would – or could – ever be. He would think her foolish, he would think her silly, and he would never look at her in the same way that she did him. She knew all this, knew it very well, so why was she even allowing herself to entertain such foolish fantasies?
"Do you understand what I require of you, Bella?" he inquires softly.
He does not seem to be aware of what has just been going through her head. It was definitely a good thing that she always used Occlumency when around him.
"Yes, my lord," she says, and Apparates away to go complete the task he has given her, the plucked flower still sitting in her pocket.