Author's Notes: Written for astronauts' Psychological Disorders Competition, in which we must write a story about a character suffering from a psychological disorder.
Disorder: Fregoli Delusion
Lucius deposited his sister-in-law carefully on the bed, and looked at Narcissa.
"She'll recover eventually," he said. "Azkaban was hard on her, but she's strong. I'd say give three or four months, and she'll be back to normal." He glanced at Bellatrix, sprawled on the bed like a broken doll. "Well, maybe not normal… but fine."
"I'm just going to sit here with her," Narcissa said shakily. She sank down in a rocking chair next to the bed.
Lucius nodded, kissed his wife on the forehead. "Shall I stay here too?"
"No, that's all right." Narcissa shut her eyes and tilted her head backwards. "I'll be fine. I'll just stay until she wakes up. Make sure she doesn't die in her sleep." Narcissa opened her eyes again, and smiled weakly, hoping that Lucius would understand that she was joking. If he laughed, that would prove that Narcissa didn't have to worry.
Lucius didn't laugh.
He kissed her again, and then left, shutting the door softly behind him.
They were in one of the guest bedrooms of Malfoy Manor. At the Dark Lord's insistence, the Malfoys were keeping the Lestranges in their home until new headquarters for the Death Eaters were established. Not that Narcissa would think to complain – Bellatrix was her sister, and family still mattered.
Even if your family spent the last fourteen years as a high-security prisoner.
Bellatrix cried out softly, twisting on the bed, and Narcissa leaned forward, twisting her hands together. Please let her wake up, please let her be all right.
"My Lord," Bellatrix murmured, relaxing back.
There were no words for the relief Narcissa felt. If Bellatrix was calling out for the Dark Lord, she must be all right. Lord Voldemort was Bellatrix's life, and surely saying his name was a sign that Bellatrix's mind was intact, at least in part.
Bellatrix's body seized, and she twitched and writhed as though she was suffering a fit. Narcissa cried out, and grasped her sister's arm, trying to force her to lie still. "Bella!"
Bellatrix cried out, and her eyes snapped open. She lay still for a moment, then twisted, and clutched Narcissa's hand with a stunning amount of strength. Narcissa yelped, recoiled automatically, but Bellatrix's grip was too powerful.
"My Lord," Bellatrix choked. "I knew you would come for me." She pressed Narcissa's hand against her mouth, in some sort of rough approximation of a kiss.
Narcissa didn't know what to do. Was Bellatrix hallucinating? Did she think that she, Narcissa, was the Dark Lord?
"Bella," she said, trying to pry Bellatrix off her, "it's me, Narcissa, your sister. You recognize me, don't you? It's me…"
Bellatrix let out a string of garbled, half-formed words. Narcissa thought she heard "disguise" and "potion", but she wasn't entirely sure.
"Just… just lie back, Bella," Narcissa said shakily. "All right?"
Bellatrix let go of her sister, and fell back on the pillows, gazing at Narcissa with hope and ecstasy in her eyes.
"I knew you would come for me," she said again. "I knew you would…"
Narcissa stood up abruptly, and hurried from the room.
"Lucius," she said, bursting into the parlour. "I don't know what it is, she thinks… she thinks I'm the Dark Lord or some such-" Narcissa choked on her own words, and flung herself into Lucius's arms, tears streaming down her cheeks. Lucius, for his part, let Narcissa cry herself out.
When she had gone from terrified sobs to quiet whimpering, he lay her down on the couch, and told her to wait. "I'll go talk to her. I'm sure she's just hysterical. If she sees someone else, she'll snap out of it."
"Really?" Narcissa sniffed, and looked hopefully at her husband. "Are you sure?"
"I'm sure," said Lucius, though she could tell quite clearly that he was lying. But it was a lie that Narcissa was willing to believe.
Narcissa waited in the parlour, and dared to allow herself to hope. Lucius would go to Bella, and he would talk to her, and he would make her mind work again. Lucius could make anyone think straight. Lucius could do anything he set himself to.
But when Lucius returned, his face was grim, and Narcissa could tell things had not gone as she wanted.
"Well," Lucius said, not looking at his wife, "it's not just you. The minute she saw me, she started babbling some 'My Lord' rubbish and saying she knew I would save her from Azkaban."
"Merlin." Narcissa buried her face in her hands. "I knew she wouldn't be quite right coming out of Azkaban, but I didn't expect anything like this…"
"She said something about Rodolphus," Lucius said, tentatively. "Asked where he was. Maybe if we brought him to her…?"
"Why not." Narcissa rubbed tears from her eyes. "If there's anyone she'll recognize…"
Rodolphus was every bit as weak as Bellatrix, but his eyes shone as Lucius helped him to his wife's room. "Bella," he whispered, over and over, and Narcissa followed the men, wringing her hands. When they got to Bellatrix's room, Rodolphus pulled himself upright, and managed to stride across the room to Bellatrix's bedside, before his legs gave out and he stumbled, falling against the edge of the bed.
Bellatrix turned over to look at the man, her lips parting slightly. Rodolphus scrambled to his knees and clutched at his wife, laying rough kisses on her mouth. "My Bella, my love…"
Narcissa and Lucius exchanged glances. Bellatrix had stiffened when Rodolphus first touched her, but she was softening now, looping her thin arms clumsily around his neck. Surely, Narcissa thought, and she knew from the look on Lucius's face that he was thinking the same, surely this means that she knows he's her husband.
Rodolphus clambered up and sank onto the bed by his wife clinging to her as though he would never let go. Narcissa jerked her head at the exit, and she and Lucius retreated, leaving the couple alone. Neither of them heard, and Rodolphus was too far gone to care that Bellatrix was murmuring "Master, oh, how I have missed you…"