Hermione was seated in the Gryffindor common room with a plethora of books around her, and next to her sat her very best friend Harry Potter. It was nearing 12:30 in the morning, but sleep was far from either of their minds. She had agreed early that morning to help him with his homework, but she had not been prepared for the work load she would be receiving that day. She had managed to get most of her work out of the way while Harry was at quidditch practice in the evening, but it had taken longer than anticipated for Ron to get to bed – and he was Harry's biggest distraction. It seemed that he had been taking more joy than usual in Hermione's frustration as she had denied him an answer to his queries about where she had gotten the strange scratches and bruises that were on her body. Even Harry had shown some interest in those as well, but he was never as hostile as Ron was when she didn't give him the answer he was looking for.

As she flipped through the pages of her Transfiguration book Hermione stifled a tired yawn. She was exhausted, although she had been sleeping much more now. She was no longer afraid of what she was going to see in her dreams. They were more pleasant. Happy, even. But there was no denying that her sudden romantic interest had taken a toll on her studies. She had found herself daydreaming in class now and missing chunks of notes at a time. She was falling behind with her homework and this was the price that she had to pay. Keeping on top of her own homework along with Harry's had proven to be quite tedious.

That wasn't the only thing that was taking a toll on her. Keeping Bellatrix a secret from Harry wasn't as easy as it used to be, not after she had discovered Bella's true feelings. Bella. The simple thought of her name was enough to make her swoon. The power this woman had over her was ridiculous, but Hermione wasn't going to complain. This situation was the last place she would have ever imagined someone like herself to be, but it is what it is. It wasn't the tender, romantic, picture perfect relationship she had pictured herself being in. Not that what she was doing could be considered being in a relationship. Or could it? The specifics were still shaky to her. She was unsure if she'd ever see Bellatrix again. She could only hope that she'd see her, just one more time, and straighten everything out – get her questions answered.

Hermione snapped back to reality when she heard Harry calling her name. Her head shot up from looking down at the book to look at Harry, who was looking at her with much concern. Her eyes were then caught by another moving figure in the common room and when she turned her head to look she saw none other than the Gryffindor Head of House – Professor McGonagall. This couldn't be good. She was sure they were bound to get reamed for being up so late on a Thursday night with a day full of classes looming over them in just a few hours.

"Professor," Hermione said, breathlessly surprised. She looked from McGonagall to Harry and back again. "I'm sorry, I know we shouldn't be up so late – we were just trying to get caught up on our homework but we'll be off to bed in just a few..." she trailed off as she hurriedly began to gather her things, making out her pieces of parchment covered in various essays and books from Harry's.

"Miss Granger. Miss Granger! Calm down!" Professor McGonagall quietly exclaimed. "You are not in trouble, dear! Though I see a bit of sleep would do you some good. But there's no time for that now, you must come with me at once."

Hermione's eyebrows furrowed as she looked up at McGonagall, dropping the things that were in her hands. "Come with you? But why?" Hermione asked, worried about what sort of bad news McGonagall was going to tell her once they had exited the common room. She knew from experience that when she showed up, nothing good could come of it.

"There's no time for explanations now, you'll find out very soon if you'll just come with me," she told her, growing impatient.

Hermione heard the tone of her voice and stood up without question. Harry followed suit and as Hermione began walking forward, so did Harry.

"No, no, Potter. You stay here, go and get some sleep. I do believe you both will be excused from classes tomorrow. You will report to my office once breakfast is through, as will you Miss Granger," she said, looking from Harry to Hermione. "But off to bed for you now, go on. The house elves will tidy this mess up and your books will be waiting for you down here tomorrow." She rested her hand on Hermione's back and ushered her towards the portrait. "Goodnight, Potter," she said hastily as they exited the common room. Hermione glanced back once more at Harry – both of them sharing the same confused look.

"Professor, what is this all about?" Hermione asked once they had left the common room and began walking down the stairs.

"It seems that you have gotten a midnight visitor, Miss Granger," Minerva told her, glancing at her sideways.

"I don't... I don't understand," she said shaking her head.

"Bellatrix Lestrange is in the castle. Down in Professor Snape's quarters. Dumbledore is down there waiting for you to arrive. He called upon me at once and told me to come and get you," she revealed, finally answering Hermione's questions to the full extent.

"Bellatrix," Hermione said breathlessly. Hearing her name made her heart fly. But why was she in the castle? What had she come here for? Why was she in Snape's room? And why was Dumbledore there? So many things were coming across her mind too fast for her mouth to keep up with the questions she had.

"Yes, Bellatrix Lestrange," Minerva replied, sounding a bit surprised. "I know that it's none of my business, but Merlin's beard! You, Miss Granger! I would have expected much more from you," she admitted – more in surprise than disappointment. "But as you are still living and breathing right alongside me, I suppose that maybe there is something other than a black hole inside of her," she continued, her voice taking on a tone that sounded much like disdain.

"Professor!" Hermione scolded, surprising herself for speaking a bit out of line to someone like Professor McGonagall. She supposed that this was changing everything, though. It sounded as if Snape, Dumbledore, and McGonagall had all been informed of her secret life on the side – something dark and forbidden – something that was completely out of character for the overachiever.

"Excuse me, but I'm sure you haven't forgotten the countless horrible things that she has done," Professor McGonagall said with a cold tone.

"How could I forget, Professor? I was there and witnessed her killing Sirius not even a year ago. But people can change and things can be forgiven. Not forgotten, but forgiven," she said quietly as they reached the end of the stairs and started heading for the dungeons.

"Have you told him?" she asked curiously, not being able to help herself from questioning her student after hearing the unbelievable news of what she had been up to.

"No. Not yet. He's never going to forgive me for this," she said, knowing that it was the truth. She couldn't even imagine what Harry's reaction would be once she told him, which she resolved would be in a few hours – before his meeting with Professor McGonagall. She didn't want anyone else to tell him. She would be the first one to inform him of what she had been up to. He would finally get his questions answered and find out the real reason as to why Hermione had been so different and distant that year.

"Ah, but as you just said Miss Granger, things may not be able to be forgotten but they most certainly can be forgiven." She turned her head to look at the young girl with a comforting look in her eyes. It was true, Hermione Granger was wise beyond her years and she couldn't deny that she was the smartest witch of her year. She had never met another who's wits could match Hermione's.

The two reached their destination and Professor McGonagall paused outside of the door that Hermione gathered was Professor Snape's quarters. It seemed as if each of them took a deep breath as they stood there in the silence of the dungeon corridor, the only thing giving light the tiny candles placed along the walls. Professor McGonagall reached out to grasp the doorknob and paused for yet another moment, trying to bide all the time she could before they were to enter into the room that was sure to be buzzing with a hint of total chaos.

"Here we go," she muttered and pulled the door open without knocking. She motioned for Hermione to step inside first and she did so hesitantly, her nerves getting the better of her.

She stepped inside to hushed conversation, three bodies huddled around a small table. Their attention turned to her entrance and all conversation stopped once her presence was known. Professor McGonagall stepped inside shortly after her, quietly closing the door.

"Ah, Miss Granger you have arrived," said an old, familiar voice coming from the figure rising from the table. It was enough to comfort her and calm her nerves down so that she could keep her composure. The simple presence of Dumbledore was enough to calm a person. She had always liked that about him. He always kept himself together, no matter what the situation was.

As Dumbledore walked towards her, her eyes caught a glance to the person behind him slowly rising from the table. The lighting in the room was limited, but there was enough for her to make out the crazed mass of curls atop the woman's head. It was her.

"Minerva, Severus, if you would just step outside into the hallway with me for a moment," he said coolly. "I'm sure there are many questions that Miss Granger has that only Bellatrix can answer. It would be best for us to give them a moment before we resume."

He walked towards the door, contently smiling at Hermione as he passed her. He showed no signs of being angry at her for her secret. His soothing glance calmed Hermione entirely. Professor Snape was another story. He didn't even look at her as he passed her and exited the room, closing the door behind him. She heard him instantly begin to speak once the three were in the hallway, leaving the two lovers by themselves.

"What are you doing here, Bellatrix?" Hermione asked curiously, stepping closer to the table but not daring to get in arm's reach just yet.

Bellatrix was standing at the table, tracing the length of it's edge with her sharp fingernails. "I came to speak with Severus," she answered immediately to Hermione's surprise. She wasn't used to this side of Bellatrix. The human side. The side that wasn't all games, posing riddles as answers or simply answering with a cackling laugh.

"But why?" she asked again, stressing her question and taking another step closer to where Bellatrix was standing. She was looking imploringly at the woman, but had not gotten even a glance in return.

"You cannot be this stupid," she said sharply, sounding a bit angry. "You know why. Why else would I come into this stupid castle and come to see... him. Why else would I be sitting around a table with Severus and Dumbledore? Honestly girl, you're really not as smart as everyone thinks, are you?"

Hermione couldn't help but laugh. Her heart was beating out of her chest and her hands were shaking. Bella's unintended comic relief was just the thing she needed. She now dared to close in on the table and stood looking at Bellatrix from across it. She reached across the length of the table and grabbed the wandering hand that had been tracing the wooden table's edge. She held it gently in her own and squeezed tightly for a moment. Bellatrix finally looked up to see Hermione looking back at her.

"Tell me," she whispered, her eyes glistening in the limited light.

All was silent as Bellatrix fought internally against the two sides that had been in battle with each other ever since she realized what she was feeling for the girl. This love, it pained her. She was not used to experiencing something like this, and outwardly displaying it was more difficult than anyone could ever imagine. It caused her physical pain in her stomach as she stood there staring at Hermione, the battle going on inside of her tearing her in two.

"For you." Her voice was not much more than a whisper and it was barely audible. Her lips didn't seem to move as she spoke and her eyes had dropped down to the hand that was being held by Hermione, the young girl's palm resting on top of her pale hand. She lifted her hand which in turn lifted Hermione's and slowly brought her lips to the warm hand that had been holding her own, placing upon it a soft kiss. It was as gentle as she had ever been with Hermione, and Hermione noticed a warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of her stomach as she felt Bella's lips on her hand.

Bellatrix finally pulled her lips away from her hand. Hermione then moved that hand to cup Bella's cheek and their eyes met again.

"Do you know," she began softly, stroking her pale skin with her thumb, "that this is the first time we've ever been in a room together and you haven't threatened to kill me?" A genuinely happy smile was on her face. Bellatrix looked at her with a blank stare and Hermione had almost begun cursing herself for saying such a silly thing when she saw Bella's lips begin to twitch before a small smile grew across them.

"Shut up," she replied, attempting to hide the smile.

"You should know by now, I never do that."

"Are you angry with me? With what I've gone and done tonight?" Bellatrix asked, hoping she'd get the answer she wanted. She honestly did not know why she cared. But she did. She didn't know why she did or said a lot of the things she had been doing lately, but for some reason she couldn't stop herself. And to be honest... she liked it. She liked the small changes she was seeing in herself. She liked the way this girl made her feel. No. She didn't like it. She loved it.

Hermione retracted her arm and walked around the table so that she was nearer to Bellatrix. "Do you honestly think that out of all the things I could choose from to be angry at you for, I'd choose this?" She was in a joking mood, craving laughter and light conversation to escape the heaviness that was surrounding her – that had been surrounding her ever since her first meeting with Bellatrix. She knew that she was nowhere near from escaping it, but a moment's lapse would have to do until Dumbledore decided it was time for their meeting to resume. "I would have never imagined you doing such a thing. It must have taken a lot to come here tonight. But I'm glad you did. I'm glad you're here," she admitted, her hand latching onto Bella's once again. She stepped nearer to Bellatrix, not leaving much space between them. "I've missed you," she finally spat out after arguing with herself on whether or not she should say it. She was afraid to say such sentimental things to her. She could tell that Bellatrix wasn't used to it, and that it made her somewhat uncomfortable. But it didn't change the fact that she had been intensely missing Bellatrix all week.

Bella's eyes had now gained that innocent look that they had during their meeting at the Shrieking Shack. The innocent look of surprise. It was so endearing. Hermione loved it.

"You don't have to say it," she said with a small smile, shaking her head. "I know."

It was now Bella's hand cupping Hermione's cheek and her thumb tenderly crossing it, stroking it lovingly – not violently as she was used to. Hermione leaned into the gentle touch, closing her eyes as she focused on the feeling of Bellatrix stroking her cheek. Without warning her lips were taken up by Bella's in a kiss that she had been longing for ever since she entered the room. She kissed her back with all she had, saying all the things that she wanted to say but was too afraid to put to words. She wrapped her arms around Bella's neck and hugged her closer, wanting to really feel her pressed against her body. The words ran over and over again in her mind. I love you, I love you, I love you.

Their lips parted and Hermione snatched another small kiss before pulling away. She rested her head on Bella's shoulder. They seemed to fit together perfectly. Hermione silently mouthed those three words as she stood there hugging Bellatrix close to her, Bellatrix rubbing her back with one hand and squeezing her waist tightly with the other.

Their loving embrace was soon interrupted by the opening of the dungeon door, the three professors quietly reentering.

Hermione shot up and away from Bellatrix, an impulse that she could not stop. It was obvious that she was still a bit uncomfortable displaying her affection for the Death Eater in front of them.

Dumbledore caught them parting as he entered the room and greeted Hermione with a wink as he waved his wand and two more chairs appeared. Hermione didn't know if Dumbledore was aware of just how thankful she was for him to be in her life. He made the impossible possible. Look at what he was doing for her. It was unbelievable. He was such a great man, and so giving. She wondered if there was a selfish bone in his body, and a hateful one for that matter. It was clear that even Professor McGonagall was struggling to keep her temper in the presence of Bellatrix. How he did it, she would never know.

"If everyone will sit," Dumbledore began, motioning for everyone to take a seat. "I'm fully aware of all the confusion and everything else that comes along in a unique situation as this, but as it is getting very late I would like to finish this as quickly as possible. We can pick up tomorrow as intended."

Hermione took the seat that had appeared next to Bellatrix and Dumbledore took the seat next to her. Professor McGonagall was across from her and Professor Snape had been left with the seat on the other side of Bellatrix – obviously the least desirable seat around the table.

"As you may or may not be aware," he started, clearly addressing Hermione, "Bellatrix has come tonight asking for our help. There is no doubt that, being in her position, mingling with Voldemort is not the best place for her to be. Although I do not believe it be wise for her to immediately cut off all communication with both Voldemort and the Death Eaters, I have asked Bellatrix to limit herself to only being in his presence when called upon. And she has so kindly agreed." He smiled at the Death Eater, but she showed no smile in return. He sat back in his chair, making himself comfortable, now addressing the entire table.

"This being entirely new, even to me, it seems to be best to take things slow and be cautious. As Professor McGonagall has informed me, Harry is still in the dark about this. Yes?" he asked, turning to Hermione. She nodded in confirmation. "Ah, yes. He shall be the first we meet with early tomorrow morning, along with Mr. Weasley of whom I am assuming has also been excluded from this as well?" He turned once again to Hermione, who nodded again. "Ah, yes. Well. We will meet with them tomorrow morning and fill them in, then. I think then, Molly and Arthur should be informed – I will pay them a short visit. And I'll inform the rest of the Order myself, as I think it would be best. If all goes as well as I'm hoping, a full Order meeting will be next but... we will wait and see how everything goes before we begin discussing that."

He paused for a moment and all was silent as he went around the table, looking at each person that was seated. When he at last reached Hermione, he suddenly stood, a pleased smile on his face. "That is all I have for you tonight, unfortunately. It is late and I am sure you are all very eager to return to your beds. Severus, if you could please escort our guest to where we have discussed I'd be forever grateful."

Professor Snape rose from his seat. "As you wish, Professor," he said politely but was making it no secret that this was an unwanted task. Bellatrix looked from Dumbledore to Hermione and stood without saying a word, following Snape out of the room.

"Minerva, I'd like to thank you for allowing us to interrupt your sleep and for coming on such short notice," he said sincerely as he walked her to the door. "I bid you goodnight," he said while opening it for her.

"Goodnight, Albus. Goodnight Miss Granger," she called as she exited the room.

It was now just Hermione and Dumbledore. She had never really been alone with the Headmaster before. She had no idea what she was supposed to say. She didn't even know what she wanted to say – so many things were running through her mind.

Dumbledore left the door open and turned to look at Hermione with that smile that told her everything would be okay.

"Professor," she began, getting up from her chair and walking around the table so she was nearer to him. "I just wanted to say thank you. One time isn't enough, but I don't think I could say it enough times, really. What you did – what you are doing, rather... for me... for us... you really didn't have to."

"You are quite welcome," he said with a silent laugh. "I was young once and can still fondly remember the things love makes one do. I'm aware that Bellatrix would not have come into the castle and asked for Professor Snape's help if she had not meant it. She has made it clear that she is committed to doing whatever it takes. You have had quite an effect on her, Miss Granger."

Hermione couldn't do anything but stand there and blush.

Dumbledore waved his wand once more and all the chairs and the table disappeared. "Come and walk with me."

They exited Professor Snape's quarters and instead of going right which would lead them up into the castle, they went the other way, leaving Hermione unsure of where he was taking her.

"I am not angry with you," he said out of the blue, as if he had been reading her mind. "Far from it. I believe you have done something great for the Order, Hermione. You have heard of the phrase 'love conquers all', yes? Well, this is the perfect case of it. You have given us a powerful ally and lessened Voldemort's ranks. Bellatrix has always been his prized possession, a powerful, ruthless, willing servant for him to use has helped him greatly. Never in my wildest dreams had I thought about the most powerful Death Eater being swayed by the love of a young girl. But then again, it is you we are speaking of, and you should never be underestimated... as I'm sure Bellatrix has found out first hand."

I am not angry with you. His words were sweet to her ears. "Th-thank you, Professor Dumbledore," she replied, glancing over to see him smiling and looking sideways at her. "If you don't mind me asking sir, where are you taking me?"

"Ah, yes. After much discussion with Professor Snape and Professor McGonagall we have come to the decision that it may be best for Bellatrix to stay here where it is safe when she is not at Voldemort's disposal. It will be easier for us to keep tabs on her, as I must admit I do not trust her entirely – but I do trust you. Also, the come and go room on the seventh floor seems a bit too far for you to be straying to for your midnight meetings."

Her face was as red as a beet. How was it that Dumbledore always knew everything? Honestly. He never ceased to amaze her.

"Oh, sir. I'm sorry. I know I.. we-"

"No need for apologies as there is nothing to be sorry for." As he finished speaking he came to a sudden halt before a door. She was in a corridor that she had never been in before. There were hushed voices coming from behind the door.

"Always bickering, those two. Even when they were students at Hogwarts. I swear to you, they could be siblings."

He had spoken to her as if she was one of them – an adult. She realized that tonight, her relationship with these three would be forever changed. She now was one of them. An adult. She was trusting them with her secrets and in turn, they would be trusting her with theirs. A friend. A confidante. It was much further than student-teacher as it had been in the past. During this realization a smile crept across her face. This wasn't something to be ashamed of, this was something to be proud of. Dumbledore had even told her just before that there was no need to apologize for anything. In fact, HE was proud of her. That was all the validation she needed.

"And this is where our journey ends for tonight. If you just give me a moment I will retrieve Severus and we will be off to bed ourselves."

Dumbledore softly knocked before opening the door. His appearance was enough for Professor Snape to realize it was time to take his leave. He left the room first, glaring at Hermione as he walked past her and down the corridor. Dumbledore followed shortly after, leaving the door open behind him as he exited the room.

"Goodnight Miss Granger. I will see you tomorrow morning." One last smile and he set off down the corridor after Professor Snape, leaving Hermione to enter Bella's room. She did so after she watched him turn down the hallway they had just traveled, disappearing from sight.

Bellatrix was sitting on the bed, facing the door, her gaze down at the floor. Hermione leaned against the doorway, looking at her. She wasn't sure if Bellatrix was aware that she was there. She cleared her throat and Bellatrix shot up from the bed surprised at the sudden noise in the room.

"Oh, it's you," she said quietly, seating herself back down on the bed. "You okay?" Hermione asked, closing the door and sitting down on the bed next to Bellatrix.

"Fine," she replied.

"What were you arguing about? With him. Snape."

"Nothing. It's foolish. He's foolish. Always thinking he knows everything," she vaguely explained, hissing in anger as she spoke.

"Thank you," she said, trying to get Bellatrix to forget about her altercation with Snape. Although Bellatrix had done a great thing for her tonight, she was still quite scary when she was angry. Hermione was still a stranger to her habits – she was still as unpredictable as ever and Hermione didn't know what to expect from her at this point.

"Yeah," she replied, as close to 'you're welcome' as she would ever get. "No matter about that now. I'm here, aren't I?" She glanced at the girl next to her. "It's getting late, though. Shouldn't you be heading back to your common room?"

"Actually... I was sort of wondering if I could spend the night. Y'know.. here.. with you. If that's okay."

Bellatrix laughed at how nervous Hermione was. It was kind of cute.

"You're afraid of me, aren't you?" she asked, smirking. Hermione didn't answer, her smile only got wider. "You are!" she exclaimed, nudging Hermione's shoulder with her own. "Well then you'll be happy to hear I'm harmless, the old bat convinced Dumbledore to take my wand before she went and got you. So you're safe. For now."

"You know, I really like this." Hermione said sliding back so she could sit indian style on the bed and face Bellatrix.

"Like what, exactly?" She leaned back on her hands, looking up at the ceiling before turning her head to look at Hermione.

"Oh, you know. You. Acting like a human being. I didn't know you had it in you. For a while I wasn't sure you even knew what a joke was!" She bent forward as she spoke, getting in Bella's face.

"Very funny," Bellatrix shot back, standing up from the bed and clearing her throat. Her back was facing Hermione and she was gathering up her hair and holding it in a bun. "Come and make yourself useful."

Hermione stood up and placed her hands on Bella's back. The entirety of her black dress was corseted in the back, a confusing web of ribbon that seemed to go on forever.

"You going to get on with it, then? Or are you going to stand there for a while longer and gawk a bit more?" Bellatrix teased.

"I'm not gawking," she told her, sounding a bit defensive. "I've just... never done this before and it's all a bit confusing, is all."

"Well I take it you know how to tie your own shoes, yes? And untie them as well?" Bellatrix continued on, teasing her still.

Hermione's brows furrowed and she grabbed the dangling piece of the ribbon and tugged on it hard. Bellatrix had to brace herself so she did not fall backwards into Hermione. The bow that the ribbon had been making had been undone. Bellatrix could feel the corset loosen already, giving her more breathing room. She made an audible sigh of relief and brought her right hand to rest upon her hip, her left being busy with holding her hair up. She closed her eyes and cocked her head to the left, letting it rest against the hand on her head. "Much better," she quietly told Hermione, instantly feeling more relaxed. "Now just loosen it a bit so I can get out of here."

Hermione did as she was told and pinched each little "x" that the ribbon made down Bella's back, giving it a tug. "Bloody hell, I have no idea how you manage in this thing," she said as she tugged on the last one. She traced her finger down the small of Bella's back, sliding it over the smooth black ribbon as she went. Bellatrix let go of her hair, the mass of curls falling around her face. Her arm dropped down and she turned around so that she was facing the girl.

Bellatrix pushed Hermione onto the bed with more force than necessary. Hermione sat upright on the bed, her mouth open. She had begun to speak, but Bellatrix climbed onto the bed and straddled her. Before she could get a word out her lips were caught in a hasty kiss. Bellatrix's hand that was placed upon Hermione's hip began to move up her stomach, over her breast and back down again. Hermione whimpered into the kiss when Bellatrix slipped her hand underneath her shirt, inching her way further up her stomach. Just as her fingernails had made their way under her bra, Hermione pulled out of the kiss.

"We really shouldn't," she told Bellatrix, her chest heaving up and down, trying to make up for the oxygen her body had been denied during the kiss.

"Shh," was all Bellatrix said and she moved in to pay some attention to Hermione's neck.

"No, Bellatrix. I'm being serious." It took some honest effort on her part to sit upright with Bellatrix on top of her. The dark haired witch pulled away from her neck and looked at her furiously with her nostrils flaring.

"What? What is it?" she asked angrily, her curls bobbing in Hermione's face as she spoke. She sat back, taking the pressure off her knees and transferring her weight so that she was now seated upon Hermione's lap.

"It's just that it's late. We should really get some sleep and with all that's going on now I just... don't think it would be too wise. And I mean. It's really all we've done. Don't you want to... I don't know... simply spend some time together? Talk. Do something else?" she quickly explained. She knew Bellatrix was getting angrier and more frustrated with every second that passed.

"You can't be serious," she hissed. She never did fare well when she was denied something that she wanted.

She swung her leg around so she could get off of Hermione. She stood up from the bed and stared down at the girl, her loosened corset now made her dress unbelievably revealing, showing off her busty cleavage and the porcelain white tops of her round breasts. Hermione's eyes dropped to the beautiful sight and lingered before she spoke again.

"Yes. I'm serious," she huffed.

"After all the shit I've put myself through tonight – for YOU – and now you don't even want to fuck me? Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable." Her voice rose as she spoke and Hermione flinched at her foul mouth.

"You! Calling me unbelievable? Honestly Bellatrix, you should be the last one to speak!"

Hermione had gone and done it. Bellatrix growled in fury and rushed towards Hermione. She grabbed her by the throat and squeezed tight enough to obstruct Hermione's breathing. Just enough for it to hurt. Her face was dangerously close to Hermione's, who was now gasping for air, fighting to fill her lungs with oxygen.

Bellatrix's lips were quivering and Hermione could feel her fingers trembling around her neck. She was looking at Hermione with that crazed look of hers, and it was enough to make Hermione afraid.

A low, foreign noise came from Bellatrix and her grasp tightened around Hermione's neck. A second later she roughly threw her back and she made a loud gasping noise as she hit the bed.

"Damn it!" Bellatrix screamed and walked towards the door. Once she reached it she did not go out of it, but began pacing the length of the room.

Hermione sat up and watched as Bellatrix paced, looking crazed as she did the first time she had met her. About the seventh or eighth time across the room, Bellatrix ceased when she had reached the door. She pounded both her hands against it with a frustrated grunt. She was now bracing herself against the door. Hermione heard repeated thudding noises coming from where she was standing and saw that she was now repeatedly hitting her forehead off of the wood.

The young girl sighed and rose from the bed. She wasn't quite sure if she would ever get used to this – the way Bellatrix functioned. And was she always going to be afraid of getting in a fight with her? Afraid of her violent tendencies? She knew that Bellatrix had changed. She witnessed it first-hand. But someone like Bellatrix could only change so much.

She quietly walked over to where she was standing, being extremely cautious. A shaky hand reached out and was placed upon Bella's shoulder.

"Don't," she instantly ordered the moment she felt the heat of her hand. The thudding had stopped.

Hermione knew this game. She had played it at their last meeting in Hogsmeade. She wouldn't shy away. A caring hand was what Bellatrix needed, whether she wanted it or not.

She removed her hand from Bellatrix's shoulder, but now wrapped her arms around her waist. She squeezed her arms tightly around Bellatrix and hugged her tightly. She pressed her lips repeatedly against the back of Bellatrix's neck.

Bellatrix struggled to escape Hermione, but it was futile. The more she fought, the tighter she held her.

She let her hands fall from the door, her right hand resting on the arms around her waist. She wrenched Hermione's left arm off of her and brought the palm of her hand to her lips. She kissed it over and over again. Bellatrix kissed the pads of her fingers and ran them over her bottom lip.

Hermione moved her kisses from the back of Bella's neck to her bare shoulder. She stood on her toes so that her lips were near to Bellatrix's ear. She nipped at her earlobe, to which Bellatrix responded to by biting down on her thumb.

"Come to bed," Hermione whispered, placing a few kisses on her shoulder before fully pulling away.

Bellatrix dropped Hermione's hand and turned around to face her. The whites of her eyes were a pale pink color and there was a bright red mark in the middle of her forehead. Hermione gave her a small smile and grabbed her hand, leading her over to the bed. She crawled onto it first and pulled Bellatrix down so that she was next to her.

Bellatrix laid on her side and propped her head up with her arm so she could look at Hermione, who was looking up at her. She reached up and brushed the hair out of her face. Her thumb ran over her forehead, rubbing the red mark she had made from hitting her head against the door.

"You are beautiful," Hermione said, no longer afraid to tell Bellatrix that sort of thing whenever it crossed her mind. Bellatrix needed to hear it. She deserved to be told she was beautiful and so much more. Hermione knew that things of that sort had been void from Bella's life for much too long. She had made that evident in her earlier episode. "You are absolutely beautiful," she told her again. Say it. Say it. SAY IT. "And..." Hermione began but trailed off and looked away from her.

"And what?" Her voice was quiet but coarse.

"And I love you."

Hermione looked at her after she had said it. It had been so easy, saying it just like that.

She knew Bellatrix wasn't going to say it back. She didn't know if she'd ever hear those three words come from her lips. She couldn't deny that hearing it would be the greatest thing for her, but what Bellatrix had done for her already was enough to assure her that her love was not unrequited.

Hermione leaned up and kissed Bellatrix. When she broke the kiss she looked at her, smiling with her eyes, silently telling her it was okay. That she understood.

"Let's get some sleep, hmm?" Hermione suggested after a particularly long yawn.

"Hmm?" Bellatrix had still been in the trance that was brought upon by the... thing that the girl had said. "Oh, right. Yes. Goodnight," she said awkwardly, feeling uncomfortable for the first time in years. Working under the Dark Lord had prepared her for many things, but this was not one of them.

"Goodnight," said Hermione, rolling over onto her stomach to get comfortable.

Bellatrix got up from the bed to turn off the lamp that was sitting on the desk in her new room. She returned to the bed and to the same position she had been in before. Sleep seemed foreign to her. She never did much of that.

Her hand traveled through the darkness to find Hermione. She placed her hand on her back and began rubbing it lightly. Out of habit, she slid it underneath Hermione's shirt and traced her nails up and down her side.

Hermione felt this and smiled. She sighed contently and closed her eyes, a smile still on her face as she slowly drifted off to sleep.

I love you, I love you, I love you.