Author's Notes: Written for the March 17th Prompt of the Day on Hogwarts Online II – "Without you, I'm nothing".

Also for Round Two of Shira Lansys' Speed of Lightning Competition on the HPFC forum.

The only requirement (other than it having to be over 700 words) is that the genre has to be angst. You can have secondary genres and sub-genres, but the main theme has to be angst.

Oh, Rodolphus, why do I hurt you so? Enjoy!

)O(

Without her, he was nothing.

He was an empty shell, moving through his days and nights in a hazy blur. He didn't feel, he didn't think, he most certainly didn't smile – all he could do was numbly brood.

Why, Bella, why?

What could possibly be so special about the Dark Lord that she preferred him? Why was it that the vows that they had taken – the ones that he had meant with all his heart – didn't matter to her anymore? Had she forgotten how it had been for the two of them, standing together at the altar, when the priest had pronounced them husband and wife?

That memory, whenever it came to Rodolphus's mind (which it did all too frequently), hurt him more than what she was doing now. At least now she had the grace to sneer and scowl at him. But then… then, she had smiled and looked so sweet and happy and good that it had been impossible for him to believe she would ever be anything but faithful.

"You're not happy."

Rodolphus jolted slightly, and looked over to Narcissa, who was lying beside him, her head propped up on one hand.

He had to take a moment to remember where he was, and what was happening. He had been so immersed in that bittersweet memory of Bellatrix's joyous smile that he had quite forgotten that he had a different woman in his bed now – one who was much more willing than Bellatrix ever would have been. One who did love him.

One who he did not love.

"Pardon?"

"You're not happy. Something's upsetting you." Narcissa's hand moved slowly to rest on his chest, her fingers tracing small, delicate circles on his bare skin. "Tell me what it is…"

"It's nothing, Cissa. Go to sleep."

She pouted, fluttering her long, pale eyelashes. "Don't play with me like this, Rod. I'm not stupid. I can tell…" She leaned in closer, her lips brushing his ear. "It's not nothing, we both know that. Please don't be like this… I hate it when you're unhappy."

As if I'm ever anything else when I'm with you.

"I'm sorry, my love," he breathed, adopting a repentant look and leaning forward to kiss her. "I was just thinking…"

"Thinking upsets you," Narcissa observed quietly. "Every time I ask you what's wrong, you say you were thinking. But you never tell me what you were thinking about."

As if I could tell you.

"Business, my love. Politics. The Death Eaters."

The concerned frown melted from Narcissa's face and she nodded. "I see… I understand." Her hand moved from his chest to his shoulder. "You're so tense… let me… hmm…" She was sitting up now, gently pulling at Rodolphus so he was lying on his stomach, her small, skilled hands working knots from his shoulders.

He sighed into the pillow, closing his eyes and allowing Narcissa's tender touch to relax him. It felt nice – Narcissa's touch, usually so light, was forceful now, and he could just barely pretend that it was Bellatrix touching him like this, with such care for how he felt. But no, of course, Bellatrix would never do this for him, never do anything for him… never even touch him, save for give him a quick slap or sometimes using his body for her own pleasure… never caring for what he felt… not even allowing him to touch her…

But in the corners of his mind reserved for such pathetic fantasies, he was imagining that Bellatrix was the one with her hands on him. He felt his own tears moisten the pillowcase.

"Rod?"

"Mm."

"Rod." Narcissa's voice was a little stronger, and her hands left his back. "Rod, please turn over."

"What is it, love?" he murmured.

"Please."

He rolled over slowly, and Narcissa's own large, pale eyes filled with tears. "You're crying," she murmured, and then, her voice cracking, "You're thinking about her, aren't you?"

Rodolphus sniffed and shook his head, forcing a gentle smile onto his face. "No, Cissy… I'm fine. Stop worrying…" He sat up, running his fingers through her pale hair and leaning close to brush his lips against hers. Narcissa let out a breathless little sigh and her eyelids flickered shut.

"I love you," she whispered against his lips.

"I love you too, Cissa, you know I do…"

"More than her?" Narcissa pulled back, looking at him worriedly.

"Of course."

Rodolphus was such a skilful liar.

Narcissa's expression melted into a beatific smile and she flung her arms around his neck, clinging to him, pressing her face into his shoulder as she shook with emotion.

He clung to her as well, burying his face in her hair.

It was so difficult being alone – and he was, even when he was in her arms. Even when she had her hands running over his skin, her lips brushing his, even when they lay tangled in bed and she rested her head upon his chest to sleep, he was alone, because she was not the woman he wanted to be in bed with.

"I love you, Rod," she whispered in his ear. "I'd do anything for you…" and he replied in the way that she wanted him to – I love you too, Cissy, so much, more than I can say – and he tried not to think that he was hurting her in exactly the same way that Bellatrix hurt him.

)O(

Fin