A/N: Love to reviewers and dear, put upon Countess Black
This is a sister piece to 'What Death Can Touch'. Countess Black asked me to write something in which Bellatrix and Rodolphus enjoy sex with one another. What resulted wasn't quite what she had in mind, so I wanted to write something a bit gentler as an antidote. This is it.
This piece takes place in the Strange and Invisible-verse, so please look that over to understand the context of this piece. Title is a reference to another poem by Anonymous.
She is Bellatrix Black Lestrange, and no one ever forgets it. Not when she goes to work, where her lackeys bow and scrape to avoid the harsh side of her tongue, which is famously sharp, nearly as sharp as Snape's.
Not when she and her husband are on official business, when people wet themselves on seeing her come into their field of vision, all five feet three inches of her. Especially when she fights, for she has worked long and hard to make her combat a thing of beauty, of grace, like the killing blow of a snake.
Not when she suffers through another dreadful dinner with her colleagues, and spares no one her famously cutting wit. Akantha McNair, especially, brings out the worst in her; she's made her cry publicly no fewer than three times since they were seventh years together in Slytherin.
Not when she visits Cissy and sees Malfoy sneering at her. He thinks her unsexed, deranged, a freak, and she knows it. Let him. She could duel him and win, if not so easily as she has become accustomed, and they both know it. It gives their interactions piquancy, a hatred that is almost love and almost desire and is neither of those.
Not when she visits the Dark Lord, bowing, and he takes her little hand in his tinier one. He's starting to grow taller, Potter's body starting to achieve a bit of height, but she suspects it won't be as tall as she recalls James Potter being.
Not when she deals with Cunegarde. She almost enjoys the bloody minded old crow. How many people dare to insult and ridicule her, even in whispers? How many to her face? She always has a sharp word, an angry jibe, and it quickens Bellatrix's blood even as it enrages her.
She stalks down the corridor, looking neither left nor right, and opens the door she'd been seeking. The room was dim, but it didn't fool her. 'Girl?'
A head popped from under the heavy duvet, startling like Bellatrix's own. She looks guilty, which confirms Bellatrix's suspicions. She walks over and glare down. 'Hand it over.'
The girl hands up a tattered book and, after a second's pause, her wand. Bellatrix spells the book onto the shelf , puts the wand on the table and plops down on the bed. 'Well?'
'No excuse, Mother.'
'Have you got any idea what time it is?'
'Two seventeen AM. If your father had found you, he'd tan your hide.'
'Yes, Mother.' The girl's big eyes are soft. Bellatrix's stupid traitor hand reaches and strokes a cheek lightly. The girl snuggles against her, and how is it that Bellatrix Lestrange, the Death Eater, is an object of comfort now?
'I suppose a minute wouldn't hurt, but don't you dare do a thing like this again.'
The girl clamoured from under the nest she'd made herself and into Bellatrix's lap, resting her head on Mother's neck and sighing. Bellatrix relaxes her body and reaches up to hold the girl against herself. How soft she is, how warm.
Bellatrix Lestrange personally flayed Lucullus Brown alive to avenge Evan Rosier, and that isn't counting the less dramatic murders she's committed. She's tortured two aurors into madness, burnt countless homes, ruined lives.
She waits until the girl gets comfortable and starts to rock gently. It's neither very rhythmic nor terribly comfortable-she's not got Rodolphus's skill in this area-but the girl reacts with a yawn and a smile and wiggles so she can hear her mother's heartbeat in her chest. Her breathing deepens, and Bellatrix feels a liquid warmth in her heart that is, she suspects, something not like anything else.
Out there, she is Bellatrix Lestrange, the Death Eater. Here, for right now, she's just Mother.