Voldemort sat in the large chair across from his couch, located in the heart of his house, deep in his favourite study. There, across from him, lay Bellatrix Lestrange. He was not completely sure what had happened at the Ministry, and her unconsciousness was a shock when they finished the apparation.
He vaguely recalled her eyes as he swooped down upon her, apparently wide with astonishment, and possibly fear, that he had rescued her from another jail sentence. Bleeding Hell.
The Ministry escapade had been a total and utter failure. Not only had the Prophesy been broken, many of his most skillful Death Eaters had been captured by Dumbledore and the Auror Brigade. He rose out of his seat, running a hand over his smooth, bald head.
Damn them all the fucking Hell. He picked up a book and hurled it across the room, feeling some frustration seep out as the hardcover smashed a scenic painting, sending everything tumbling to the ground. The commotion roused Bellatrix from her unconsciousness instantly, and though his back was turned to her, he could hear her breathing instantly pick up, and he could almost see her dark eyes snapping open in alarm.
He had taken the time to study her when he saw her for the first time in nearly fourteen years. Her eyes were darker, with rings around them, and her high cheekbones were much more prominent than he remembered. When she had escaped from prison, he saw her without her mask, something he hadn't done for far too long. Just gifts were required for all those who had stayed faithful to him within the depths of Hell, and the Lestranges were only one of the families to do so. He rewarded them with praise, naturally, as they had never denied their allegiance to him.
They had shared a moment, Bellatrix and Voldemort. When her husband had turned away, she held his eyes for a moment, her mind an open book to the suffering she endured for him, and the heartache that was still hidden away, never allowed to resurface, unless in her mind.
The next time he saw her after that, she was once again hidden behind a mask, her dark eyes watching him intently, portraying the same excitement the rest of the men did when Voldemort explained their mission. However, even as her husband held her hand, his thumb lovingly stroking her pale skin, she refused to return the affection in front of Voldemort. He looked away briefly, as though listening to what Malfoy had to say. Out of the corner of his eye, he finally witnessed Bellatrix give her husband a quick kiss amongst the disappearing Death Eaters.
Her voice had turned harsh over the years, no doubt from the horrors that she suffered in Azkaban. Bah; she knew nothing of real physical suffering - he had, after all, been close to death for too many years.
The pet named rolled off his tongue so easily, as it had numerous times back in the Ministry. However, there he had been flustered, and so close to killing that damn Potter. He had used her name in anger there, annoyance.
"Please... Forgive me," she whimpered, the springs in the old couch groaning as she sat up, "I tried to... to... The stupid brat had already broken it by the time I was finished with Black-"
"I don't want to hear it, Bella," he stated, continuing to look away from her, "Nothing more tonight of my servants pathetic failures."
"I... " she trailed off, most likely knowing his temper better than the rest. An oppressive silence settled over the pair, and Voldemort finally turned back, his new, red eyes glaring down at her, "I trusted you to lead the attack-"
"Along with Malfoy," she interrupted, "And he wound up in custody."
"Is that supposed to make you better?" Voldemort sneered, raising a nonexistent eyebrow, "Hmm?"
"I'm always better than Malfoy... You know that better than most, my Lord," she replied, a faint smile crossing her large lips. Voldemort cocked a nonexistent eyebrow, "Pride is never a virtue when replaced with smugness, Bella."
"Still a teacher, I see," she commented. Voldemort was still always shocked at her boldness. He couldn't understand why he let her get away with it when they were alone; she generally got the best of him when no one else was around to hear it.
"I'll always teach you something, Bella," he stated, noticing her nostrils flare heatedly. Perhaps that comment stung? Voldemort felt the urge to grin.
"I was told I would no longer need lessons," she snapped, "And should I want them, my husband can provide-"
"I don't think you're in any place to snarl at me, Bellatrix," Voldemort cracked, his eyes flashing murderously, "I saved you from any more time in Azkaban, even though you failed me miserably!"
She cast her eyes down, as though giving him a mockery of shame. He knew she didn't feel remorse. It was as if she had waited for one moment to truly hurt him for sending her away all those years ago. He took a menacing step forward, "Don't do that, Bella."
He fumed silently when she didn't look up to acknowledge him. So, with all the restraint he could show, he strode forth and roughly wrenched her face up to him, causing her to gasp softly, "You know perfectly well what you're doing. Stop, or I will punish you."
"Haven't you already?"
"Apparently it hasn't sunken into your head..."
"Yes, I've been told it's rather thick."
He glared down at her, trying to figure out what on earth to bloody well do. He could punish her for cheek, or reward her for it. In his mind, the reward would benefit them both. He casually stroked a long, white finger along her jaw bone, his eyes locking onto hers. She cocked an eyebrow, and he noticed her dark eyes twinkle suggestively.
But... He couldn't do it.
Footsteps came thundering down the hall, and he dropped his hand, watching as she stared up at him, crestfallen. The noise grew louder, and Voldemort finally stepped back as Rodolphus Lestrange came hurdling into the room, his breathing heavy, "Oh, thank God, Bella. Snape told me the Dark Lord rescued you..."
Voldemort took another step back as Lestrange crossed the room, dragging his wife into a hug. Her arms were limp, yet only for a moment, and it didn't take long for her to be curling her arms around him, her face against his chest.
"She's lucky to be here," Voldemort informed him icily, staring away from the couple, "The rest have been arrested."
"My Lord, you know I would have joined, had you asked me-"
"And had your back been better," Voldemort snarled, causing the man, one of his early forties, to cower slightly, "You're no use to me if you continue to throw it out."
Apparently the escape from Azkaban had been more difficult for the male Lestrange, and while Bellatrix escaped with a few cuts and bruises, Rodolphus had a horrid back issue that had left him in bed for the past couple of weeks. Rumour had it Bellatrix was a very attending wife for her sick husband, which left Voldemort confused. Was he supposed to care? No. No, he had more important tasks to carry about. He couldn't waste his time playing some silly little love triangle with a woman who had sworn to follow him to the end of the world and back again. That had ended almost fifteen years ago, and he would not bring himself to let it start up again.
While he knew he should torture them both, perhaps bestow some more respect back into their hearts, he refrained. Tonight was too much of a let down, and for once, Voldemort wanted to be alone. Perhaps if Pettigrew returned, he could enjoy himself with a bit of sport.
"You're both dismissed," Voldemort grunted, his eyes slowly wandering over to Bellatrix, "I shall call upon you very, very soon... We need to fix this."
Bellatrix gently let herself away from her husband, then quickly walked to Voldemort, her eyes emotional from all the events that had taken place that night. Even as he pressed into her mind briefly, he saw the battle, her cousin Black dying, the Golden Witch chasing her, Dumbledore...
Her lips against his hand, not his ring, brought his musings to an end, and his eyes darted down to the woman at his feet. She smiled weakly, "We are in your debt for eternity, my Lord. We'll make things right."
"You had better," Voldemort replied tightly, plucking his hand from hers with some difficulty, "I won't let this go. Round up what men you can, Lestrange, and see that they are aware that I will be calling on them soon."
"Yes, my Lord," Rodolphus replied, bowing his head. Bellatrix pushed herself up and stalked back over to her man, linking her arm around his, "Good night, my Lord."
Voldemort snorted loudly, humourlessly, and watched as she helped her husband out of the room, the sound of them apparating away ringing in his ears for the rest of the evening.
This was not over. Not yet. With a mere flick of his wand, he had the fireplace bursting with flames, the orange heat licking the brick walls from within feverishly.
Voldemort flung himself down in a chair and sighed, watching as a dark pair of eyes stared back at him from the flames, still twinkling suggestively.
Well, I tried to put off posting this as long as I could! But yes, this is the end of this section. If you'd like me to write a sequel - which would probably consist of one-shots or two-shots or whatever of Bella and Rod's life, with much Voldemort included of course - let me know. ... I'll put a poll up. My first poll on FF! Exciting! I dunno how long it would be. I wrote this one ages ago, when I had more time to write. The updates may be slower, but whatever.
I'd like to thank all those who took the time to read and review this! I was shocked at just how many people liked the story, and it meant a lot to me when I read the reviews, or saw how many people added it to their favourites.
Now just some special mentions (:
chiba-x-thanks - Thanks for being my first wonderful reviewer! It meant a lot... At that point, I wondered if anyone even liked reading the story!
Sheograph - Thank you for the continuous support throughout the series. It was always great to read your reviews! I'm glad my story kept you sane, m'dear.
thoseforbiddenlips - Hurrah! Thank you for the detailed reviews that you gave! It meant a lot to me to hear that you were a harsh critic, and I'm glad that I lived up to some standard. Thank you again for the support, and I always looked forward to reading your review with each chapter that I posted.
LazyCatfish27 - Aha. Your reviews honestly made me laugh. They were short, but the fact that you reviewed for each and every chapter made me feel bad that I don't take as much time to review the stories I read. Shame, shame, shame. Thanks for taking the time to put your input in! I really appreciated it!
Jacalyn Hyde - Cheers, babe! Thanks for the time and thanks for reviewing as much as you did! You apologized in one review for not reviewing the chapters before that one, and I really don't think that was necessary! I'm happy that you reviewed anything at all! Thank you!
j3nny - You're another one that reviewed a LOT. Thank you so much! The support was very encouraging!
Thank you to everyone else that reviewed! It really meant a lot to me. I wrote this story a year or so ago, and I worried that it wouldn't be up to standards anymore. And yet it became my most popular story! Thank you so much!