I

Numb

Disclaimer: Ha! I wish!

Disclaimer Take Two: The quote belongs to François Sagan.

A/N: This is the first in my "Black Thoughts" Trilogy. Basically, the first line of this fic popped into my head when I was waking up one morning last week and it just wouldn't go away so lo and behold: this fic was born! I decided to do three one-shots, describing the thoughts of Bellatrix, Regulus and Sirius during their final moments. As such, I decided to write this in blocks, which is why it's taken me a week to put together. I wanted it to seem disjointed, like most people's thoughts are and so I just rambled and rounded off. But because I was trying to stay in character for the fic, it comes accross as slightly stylised. So, enough of my ramblings and excuses, this is Bellatrix Lestrange's thoughts before Molly's curse kills her and how Voldemort changed her life (not necessarily for the better!).

A/N Take Two: Ok, so enjoy and remember people, reviews are love! But please try and keep the flames to a minimun 'cause I know that Hagrid loves dragons but I'm not really a fan of Hungarian Horntails!

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I have been so cold for so long that I have forgotten how to feel.

For years, all that the curse of death has been to me is 'notches on a bedpost'. Insignificant little lives to be snuffed out in the name of the 'Greater Good'. My greater good.

But now that I face my own demise and the prospect of my eternal damnation in whatever lies beyond the Veil, some tiny part of my mind that still retains the power of logic must take a step back and re-evaluate my scant reasonings until I can finally comprehend and find some semblance of peace within my corroded soul.

As I contemplate this most tumultuous debate and my split-second before I reach the eternity ebbs away-the sand in my hourglass running faster than ever before, matching the pulse of adrenaline-I come to the conclusion that, paradoxically, love is the root cause of my hatred.

A wise Muggle-a contradiction in its greatest terms for those of my creed-once said;

"I have loved to the point of madness; that which is called madness, that which to me, is the only sensible way to love."

I love this way and always have.

Of course, I loved my family to distraction. The whole idea that we, as pure bloods, were superior to mudbloods and half bloods gave me the first taste of the crackle of power that would fuel the rest of my life.

This sense of assumed dominance continued into my school years, when I was sorted into Slytherin House, following in my ancestors' footsteps and continuing the work of the noble Salazar Slytherin. Sifting the basest metals from the purest gold.

It was in this capacity that I met my husband, Rodolphus. He too was entranced by this sense of power that we were given and he introduced me to other like-minded people and to one wizard in particular; Tom Riddle.

I feel safe enough to use his real name now. It won't matter for much longer.

Life is such a flighty thing. It's here and then it's gone in a flash of blinding green light. I always found that my greatest pleasure was to watch the light die from their eyes. To see their spark go out. He introduced me to that.

My marriage was always one of convenience. Rodolphus and I were together for a long while but I always desired a more unobtainable other. So much so that, I spent our wedding night on a mission from Him. Rodolphus just accepted it.

I always found that amusing, you know, how I never had any pet names or nicknames for him. He was always Rodolphus to me. Lestrange if I was feeling malicious. But we never had any terms of endearment for each other-it wasn't that sort of relationship.

Of course I did have soubriquets for Him. He Who Must Not Be Named. The Dark Lord. Lord Voldemort. No, I'm not afraid to use his name now. And I, his most loyal servant, have long been within rights to use the most feared name in the wizarding world.

I have often wished that things had fallen into place in a different pattern. If I had not been so easily seduced by Tom's glamour and promises of eternal rule, I might have been atypical to my nature. I might have had a loving husband, rather than one whose idea of sport was the cold-hearted torture of a family. I might have had a child, a family of my own, instead of my only real love in life, which was to be as cruelly sycophantic as was possible.

It has plagued me for a while-that night in the Department of Mysteries. Prophesies covering the walls, outlining the destinies of so many. Not one of them regarding myself. What would I have found, I wonder, if my providence had been decided for me? Would I have been more easily accepted if none of this was my fault? Would I have been a different person entirely?

My sister, Andromeda married a muggle. A filthy mudblood. But she was happy. She still is happy. Would I have lived a different life if I had married for love, rather than expediency?

If eyes are the windows to the soul, I wonder what you would see in mine…Pain? Cruelty? Devotion? I'm not sure. If I was to answer that question, I think I would imagine a dark tunnel. My eyes hold nothing of substance. Askaban sucked all the life out of them; it took my beauty and my youth, but not my determination to rejoin my master. Because that is all I am. A slave.

It has always amazed me how fast a mind sifts through the inconsequential thoughts, bringing only those of import to the forefront of the debate. It leaves your views somewhat disjointed but at the same time, a conclusion can still be reached. And here is mine.

Love and hate are the same thing. Passionate, fiery, infallible. But whichever you believe is the strongest in this vicious circle doesn't matter. You can feel both and yet feel nothing at the same time. Numb to the point of non-existence, when nothing sustains you except a high, cold voice, blood red eyes and the knowledge that you hold the strength to take something precious from someone else, so that they might feel as cold as you.

As I look into the eyes of my assassin, I see that I have been dealt a false coin. That death and loss are not the most powerful weapons but love is. As the jet of light hits me square in the chest and I laugh-the same laugh that I left my cousin, Sirius, with-and my last breath leaves me, I can finally understand how more satisfaction can be derived from watching the light leave the eyes of one who has taken so much and yet given so little.