Author's Notes: Written for Shira Lansys' Speed of Lightning Competition.

There is only ONE requirement for this round: your story has to be over 6000 words.

Also for WeasleySeeker's One Line Competition.

I will give you one line to start off your story. The line is "The water looked deep and inviting."

…I think I like writing drabbles.


The water looked deep and inviting.

Bellatrix stood a few feet back from the edge of the lake, staring into the dark, rippling surface. The faint night breeze, cool enough to be seasonable for early spring, warm enough to hold the promise of summer, was not quite enough to disturb the water, and she could still see her reflection in it, but it was enough to distort the image. Like staring into a rippled mirror, the image that Bellatrix could see in the surface looked slightly off – not quite human.

The lake showed the truth, then.

Bellatrix stepped closer to the edge. The heel of her boots sank into the moist earth and she was thrown off balance. She stumbled upon the uneven ground and fell to her hands and knees.

Oh, how the world was mocking her weakness.

There had been a time when nothing could make Bellatrix Lestrange fall. She had been the strongest woman alive, more than equal to any man. There had been a time when the Dark Lord himself might not have been able to best her in a duel if she had truly fought him – though, of course, she would never have done that.

And now, here she was, fresh from Azkaban, sent away from meetings and left out of discussions of important matters because the Dark Lord deemed her too unstable, too weak to be given any kind of responsibility. And she was proving him right, she thought, hot tears stinging her eyes. She fell – and so easily, too! Bellatrix had not fallen when she left Azkaban, yet right now, she was so unsteady that even a few steps had her on her hands and knees.

She was beaten, ruined.

Azkaban had ruined her.

Bellatrix dragged herself closer to the water's edge. The shore was a ledge, perhaps half a foot above the surface of the water, just high enough that when Bellatrix knelt on it, the water was a nice distance away. It was the distance she might have held a mirror, she thought.

She knelt there, staring into the depths of the lake once more. In the darkness, the water appeared jet black, save for where the reflection of the moon and the light glinting off her own pale skin bleached it white. The soft waves swelling in the surface without ever breaking it brought to mind the black silk sheets that she and Rodolphus had had on their bed during the first war, back when life was sweet and they could afford such indulgences. Bellatrix felt an unpleasant twinge of nostalgia for that gloriously easy time when the greatest worries in her and her husbands' lives were each others' infidelities and whether Bellatrix's behaviour at the most recent party had been unseemly enough to hurt their reputations. For all the arguments – and there had been many – that had been a time when Bellatrix and Rodolphus had always managed to find enough forgiveness that, in the end, they could bring themselves to lie in bed together.

Well, Bellatrix thought, a slight sneer twisting her lips, they could lie in bed together on the occasions when she had not been allowed to spend the night with the Dark Lord and Rodolphus had not slunk off to Narcissa.

For all her derision, for all the times she'd scorned him and the things she'd said, all the times she'd mocked him and called him weak, and for all his shouts and threats and the feeble blows that he delivered because he could not hurt her in any other way, and that frightened him, even for how much more she loved the Dark Lord, Bellatrix had dearly treasured those nights that she had lain in Rodolphus's arms. She missed the slip of silken sheets over their bodies as they lay curled together, the feel of his strong, muscular arms wrapped around her. The Dark Lord had never been one to hold her like that – even less since Azkaban – and Rodolphus rarely touched her anymore.

That was her own fault, she supposed. She had spent so long telling Rodolphus off for being too emotional – it should hardly be a surprise to her now that the time had come that he gave up and started avoiding her. Even before Azkaban, they had been drifting ever further apart, and since, they had barely spoken.

Bellatrix missed that, though had terrible difficulty in admitting it, even to herself. She did not dare to say it to Rodolphus – her pride could not have stood it. Sometimes, she wished that she could say it to him without the shame of having to admit how much she loved him, despite her declarations to the contrary.

But what would the point be anymore? It would be different now than it was before, even if she did tell him that she missed him, and even if he did have the stupid innocence to take her back after the way she'd treated him. Rodolphus and herself had been changed profoundly by the experience of Azkaban – to be held by him would not be comforting in the way that it had used to be.

Bellatrix's eyes had glazed over, staring into the lake as she remembered.

Sliding into that dark, beautiful water, water so like those old, familiar sheets… that would be comforting in the way that she imagined Rodolphus's arms no longer would be.

She stared for a long moment into the depths. It did look terribly inviting… like it was waiting for her. Like it was made of that same black silk and it recognized her and wanted her.

Bellatrix shifted back from her hands and knees, and brought her legs around in front of herself, slowly moving to undo the laces of her boots. Her fingers trembled when she pulled at the strings, but she managed to get them off and cast them aside. Her stockings – torn, dirty things that she had stolen from the bottom of Narcissa's wardrobe – followed, then she had to sit patiently while she undid the knots of her corset, cursing herself for insisting that it be tied so tightly and effectively. Her dress came last of all, and she felt oddly ecstatic when she pulled it over her head at last and threw it to the ground.

The night air felt cold upon her naked flesh, and that only heightened Bellatrix's desire to slide into the lake and be held by that dark, beautiful water. She pulled herself to her feet, sparing her body only a quick, cursory glance – God, she was so thin now… if it were not for her breasts, nipples hard and erect from the chill, she would have been indistinguishable from a boy – and stumbled forward unsteadily, towards the water's edge. She was almost there when her foot slipped, the ground disappeared from beneath her, and she felt herself falling.

The water was much colder than she had expected – so cold that it took her breath away when she hit. It was dizzying and it hurt, but as she sank below the surface and let it close over her, it felt right.

She stayed beneath for a moment, then came up, taking deep gulps of air.

From the shore, she had been imagining it to be warm, like the blankets that it had brought to her mind. She trembled violently for a moment, trying to reconcile the inviting appearance with the bitter feeling, and she clutched at the rocks on the edge, giving her body time to adjust to the cold. It took gasp after gasp of air, but in time, she ceased to shiver.

She closed her eyes, curling against the shore, and imagined that she was in her husband's arms.

Memories flooded to her – memories that she had learned to suppress in Azkaban because they were the sort that the Dementors would have dearly loved to hear from her, so happy were they. Bellatrix allowed a tiny smile to curl upon her lips, and lost herself completely in thoughts of her the early days of her marriage, before everything had become so damnably complicated..

"You ought to treat your husband with greater respect," Rodolphus was telling her, and though he stood over her threateningly, with one hand half-raised, Bellatrix knew him well enough to be able to tell that he was not truly angry at her. At least, rather, he was not angry for her words. She had said far worse things to and about him than suggesting that she might prefer another man to him, as she had just done.

If anything, he was angry because she refused to apologize for it. That might have been reasonable, she supposed, but then, she never apologized for anything she did. Why should he expect her to now?

"I wouldn't treat any man like you with respect," she shot back, smirking, pushing him. "Whether he was my husband, my father, my son… I do not waste respect on those who do not respect themselves."

"Do not try to turn this into an examination of my faults."

"Then do not rage at me for disrespect."

He backhanded her, just hard enough to make her jump. His violence did not upset her as she supposed it should have – it was near enough to foreplay for them, and Bellatrix smirked at him, taunting him with her very expression.

"Upset, Rod?" she breathed, touching her cheek where he had hit. "Does it bother you that you can't make your wife obey you, when you've spent your whole life being told that that is a man's place?"

"You ought to keep your mouth shut," he breathed, coming even closer to her. Bellatrix stood her ground, even when his hand knotted in her hair and he pushed her up against the wall.

"You act as though you've got all the power here," he said, his breath hot on her ear, "and I know you'd just love to think that's true, but you know I could hurt you now…"

"You couldn't," she told him, but she allowed a note of fear to creep into her voice, more for the benefit of Rodolphus's ego than because she was in the least afraid of him. "You wouldn't dare."

"Wouldn't I?" His hand moved to her throat, squeezing lightly upon it. Bellatrix could feel her own pulse fluttering against her husband's palm. "I could strangle you right now… make sure you never take another breath…"

Bellatrix bit one lip, widening her eyes innocently. "No… You wouldn't."

Rodolphus gave a soft squeeze upon her throat, then threw her aside, letting her stumble and fall upon the bed. He stood over her, and Bellatrix allowed him to, knowing how dearly he loved these rare moments when she allowed him some measure of dominance, even if both of them knew that he would not really hurt her.

Her eyes fell upon his hand, which had moved to between his legs. He caressed himself slowly, and Bellatrix watched.

"You're breakable," Rodolphus breathed. "I don't think that you know that. You think that nothing can hurt you – well, you're wrong. Now apologize for what you said."

"I won't," she told him boldly. "I meant what I said. The Dark Lord is a thousand times more of a man than you are, and I'd rather have him in my bed."

"That's not true, Bellatrix…" Rodolphus whispered, his voice silky and soft. "If that were true, you wouldn't be watching me…" His hand dropped, and he smirked. "You wouldn't be aroused."

Her breath caught, and she spread her legs apart a little, letting her skirt slide down her legs. "I might be. You haven't always been the best judge of what arouses me. Perhaps I can watch you and be aroused by you and still prefer another man…"

"Do you know what that makes you, then, Bella?" he hissed, and she squeaked softly as he grabbed her by the front of her dress, pulling her up and against him. His body was strong and powerful, and Bellatrix rubbed against him, making soft mewling noises, like those of a cat.

"No, Rodolphus… what does it make me?" she breathed, looking up at him, daring him to say it.

"A slut," he breathed.

Bellatrix felt a thrill of pleasure go through her. Rodolphus was so often all too high-minded about sex, as though by being rough with his wife or degrading her, he was somehow desecrating the act, despite all the times Bellatrix had insisted to him that she wanted him to. When he did leave behind his ideals about sex as a sacred act that should not involve violence or any other manner of coarse behaviour, he became much more interesting.

"You think so, Rod?" she whispered in his ear, moving slightly so that his thigh was pressed between hers. "You think I'm a slut?"


"Well, then…" Slowly, she dragged her fingers down his chest, stroking it through his shirt, feeling his muscles ripple gently beneath her touch, "then fuck me. Fuck me like the slut you think I am."

There was a long moment, in which neither of them moved. Bellatrix glanced up through her lashes, biting down on her lip and smirking, and Rodolphus seemed to be struggling with himself.

She laughed when he threw her down onto the bed again.

"Take off your dress," he ordered, and Bellatrix wasted no time in complying. He was upon her in a second, pressing kisses to her mouth. His hands moved over her skin far too gently for her liking.

"Like a slut, Rod," she reminded him, her words turning into a soft moan at the end.

"Whatever you say, my love," was his tender response, and then all gentleness was gone. He pushed her legs apart, and Bellatrix bit her lip so hard that she drew blood when she felt the head of his cock play against her.

He thrust in, and her back arched automatically. She could hear his laboured groans and moaned eagerly in response, but from here, she cared little what he did to her. By far her favourite part of sex was the first part, the foreplay, and especially, when he was like this, letting her husband take a measure of control and power. She liked seeing what he could do with it. From there, the pleasure experienced became a good bit less… interesting.

Not that it was any less enjoyable, of course.

Bellatrix, in the water, lost in memories of a time when she and Rodolphus had trusted each other enough – loved each other enough – for her to allow him to treat her that way, became aware of an ache between her legs. Arousal was a sensation that she rarely experienced anymore. At times she worried that such constant exposure to the Dementors had destroyed her ability to even desire physical pleasure, though thinking about it logically reminded her that if this was the case, all the other Death Eaters who had escaped would have been similarly handicapped, and she knew that to be untrue.

Her hand moved slowly to between her thighs, touching and probing at herself beneath the water. Her own heat seared her almost-numb fingers, and she allowed herself to let out the tiniest of moans as she slowly stroked herself. There had been a time when she had known her body intimately enough to be able to bring herself to a climax in moments – or, even more often, to ensure that Rodolphus would do so – but it had been so long… her own sensations were almost alien to her now.

She slid her fingers through the water, letting out a tiny moan and squeezing her eyes shut tightly when she found her clit. It pulsed against her fingers, and her muscles twitched involuntarily as she rubbed herself.

The sensations of pleasure that shot through her body almost made her scream. She hadn't felt anything this good since before Azkaban, since the Dark Lord had last touched her, since she and Rodolphus still had a fruitful sex life, since, oh God, since forever…

It didn't matter that her fingers and toes were numb from the cold. It didn't matter that she was frail and broken and no longer strong like she had once been. The water held her gently as she touched herself, and Bellatrix was in her and Rodolphus's bed once more, tangled in the sheets and soaked with sweat from their pleasure.

Rodolphus came inside Bellatrix with a throaty moan. She adored watching his expression when he was in the throes of pleasure – his eyes closed and his lips parted very slightly, moving as though he were whispering to himself. But more often than not, Bellatrix was too lost in her own ecstasy to pay proper attention. Or she was thinking of someone else.

Not tonight, though. Rodolphus had held off while he guided Bellatrix through an orgasm, and only when she was trembling in the aftermath did he let go, filling her and giving her the chance to watch him. And at that moment, she would not have thought of another man, not any other man in the world.

He pulled out slowly, and sank down beside her in the bed, twisting his arms around her waist. Bellatrix ran her hands up his torso, feeling him quiver beneath her touch and laughing slightly, thrilled with the reaction that she could induce in him. His flesh was warm and hard, and she could hear his heart hammering when she lay her head on his chest and tangled her fingers in his hair, kissing him deeply.

His mouth was hot against hers.

Bellatrix came softly, without any of the cries and moans that had accompanied her pleasure in the past. She could be silent now – she had to be. She didn't want the world knowing about what she was doing. Force of habit, perhaps, from the years in which any sign of pleasure from her would bring the Dementors to the bars of her cell, congregating before her in the hopes of snatching a happy thought to feed on. She had learned to mask any happiness she might want to express with misery.

It was a difficult habit to shake.

Even now, as she came down from her high, feeling fresh warmth spread through her body and every part of her relax, Bellatrix found herself automatically drawing to mind everything that she knew would make her sad. Thoughts of the Dark Lord and how he did not trust her and would never love her. Thoughts of how she would never regain the happy, carefree marriage and youth that she had once had. Thoughts of her sister, Andromeda…

Those were the ones that pushed the Dementors away fastest. They were the ones that hurt Bellatrix the most, and the ones that signalled to those creatures that fed so eagerly upon their captives' happiness that there was none to be had here – that Bellatrix was so full of despair that they could not have dragged so much of a shred of joy from her.

Tears stung her eyes again. The pleasure that she had experienced moments before faded and paled in comparison to thoughts and memories that hurt so badly that there were no words for them. Her sister would not leave her mind now, but that was a dull ache that she was used to. No, far stronger was the horrible sadness she felt at the raw memories of herself and Rodolphus. They were memories she treasured – memories sweet enough to her that they could make her orgasm even now, in the situation she was in, but they were also memories that hurt her worse than any others could have ever done.

Because she didn't have Rodolphus anymore, and it was her fault.

Andromeda had run away and there was nothing that Bellatrix could have done to stop her. She could not blame herself for her sisters stupidity, and she did not – Andromeda's absence only angered her because she knew her sister was better than that. The absence of the Dark Lord's love for her was equally out of her control, much though she wished differently. There were times, yes, true, when she blamed herself for it, thinking that he did not love her because she was not faithful enough or good enough in bed to please him, but she knew full well that these were not the reasons, and the phases of despondency that followed her speculations about what she could do to make him love her were brief.

With Rodolphus, on the other hand, Bellatrix knew perfectly well that it was entirely her fault that he did not love her anymore. She knew that if she had tried hard enough, she could have kept him, and they might still make love and lie tangled in the sheets, and she might still listen to his heartbeat and know she was in the arms of someone who cared about her. She could easily have turned the Dark Lord's advances away, but she had not, because she had thought that half-fulfilment, in the form of sex, of unrequited love as powerful as that which she felt for the Dark Lord would be better than true fulfilment of the sweeter brand of romance that she had for Rodolphus.

When she missed what she used to have, there was no one to blame but herself.

All the pleasure was gone now, as quickly as it had come. Bellatrix pressed her cold hands to her face and let her tears warm them, allowing herself a few moments of violent sobbing before she breathed deeply and lifted herself from the water.

"You must be frozen."

Bellatrix had picked up her dress from the shore and was knocking dirt from it so that she could redress and go up to the Manor and run a hot bath for herself, but between being startled by the quiet, masculine voice, and how numb from the cold her fingers were, Bellatrix lost her grip on the fabric. It slid out of her hands, slithering down the bank and off the edge, into the water.

"Rodolphus?" she asked, turning towards the voice while she shivered. He was only a silhouette in the moonlight, but Bellatrix recognized the way of carrying himself that her husband had adopted since Azkaban – slightly hunched over, as though he was trying to shrink.

"You'll catch cold," he murmured.

"I'm fine!" Bellatrix snapped at him, now angry – angry at having been spied on, angry at having allowed herself pleasure, and positively furious that her dress had fallen into the water. "And now look what you've done!"

"I brought a blanket out," he said quietly.

"Oh, well isn't that just fantastic!"

"I'm sorry," Rodolphus murmured. "I'll go back in… I didn't mean to upset …"

He turned away slowly, and Bellatrix felt an instant pang of horror and remorse. Just moments ago, she had been crying to herself over the loss of her husband, and now here he was, and she turned him away?

"Wait, Rod–"

He turned back quickly. Bellatrix could just see his face, the face she had once considered the most beautiful in the world, and, if she was not very much mistaken, she fancied that she saw a look of hope on it. More than that, she fancied that the corners of his mouth were turning up, just a bit, into a smile.

Rodolphus had not smiled since before Azkaban.

He had rarely smiled, ever – he was the sort who did not like to showcase his emotions so obviously – and there had been so little reason to smile in the last fourteen years that even someone who did so constantly would have stopped displaying happiness.

Bellatrix moved forward, very slowly, shivering. A cold night wind had picked up, and her body, soaked from the lake and stark naked, trembled like a reed in the wind. Rodolphus watched her almost warily as she approached. He looked as though he expected her to hurt him, and perhaps that was not an utterly unjustified thing to think that she would do.

"Rod?" she whispered. Her voice came out a croak.

"Yes, Bella?" he whispered back.

"May I have the blanket, please?"

"I told you that you wouldn't hurt me," Bellatrix purred, when she finally came up for air from the kiss. Her eyes glittered and she bit her lip. "You couldn't do it, even when I told you to," she taunted.

"You don't really want me to hurt you, though," Rodolphus said. "You just want to prove I can't."

There was nothing Bellatrix could say to that. She fell silent, relaxing in his arms and pulling the black silk blankets around them. She could not have said how happy she was, right at that moment – the Dark Lord and any suggestions she had made about how she might prefer him to Rodolphus completely forgotten.

The room was hot. Rodolphus had had the foresight to fling the French doors leading to their balcony open to invite in a spring breeze, hoping, Bellatrix presumed, that it would cool them after their session of lovemaking. It did help, the light wind caressing Bellatrix without ever feeling harsh. The open window gave her something to look at too.

There were black silk curtains hung upon them, and Bellatrix watched sleepily as they fluttered in the unseasonably warm wind. She kept her head upon Rodolphus's chest as she gazed at the waving, rippling fabric, so that she could hear his heartbeat.

The curtains looked so very much like black water.

Rodolphus smiled gently. He unfurled the blanket, which had been folded up tightly and tucked beneath his arm, and swung it around his wife's shoulders. It was not one of the beautiful black silk extravagances that had been on her mind all night, but the soft wool felt good too – rough and earthy and real, like nothing else she had felt in so long.

Rodolphus dried her gently with it, and it felt so very like an embrace – his arms around her, rubbing her down softly. She felt like a child, being dried after a bath by their mother.

"There," Rodolphus said quietly at last. "Is that better?"

"Yes," she murmured. "I feel… I feel much warmer now."

"Good…" He twined a lock of her black hair around his finger, and then quickly dropped it and stepped back, fear in his eyes. "I- I didn't- I didn't mean to touch you, if you didn't want me too- I'm sorry…"

"No!" Bellatrix said, shaking her head emphatically. "No. I want you to. Please…"

"Pardon?" His eyebrows drew together, and he stared, as if he thought he had misheard her. "What… did you… did you say that you wanted me to touch you?"

"Yes," she said in a very small voice. "Yes, please."

Rodolphus hesitated, then stepped forward again, and put his arms around her.

Even after all the time in Azkaban, he felt pleasantly warm and solid, and more like she remembered than she had guessed. It was nice to be held by someone – someone other than frail little Narcissa, who was little comfort, no matter how sincere or impassioned her embraces.

"I miss you," Bellatrix said. The words came out very quietly, so quietly that she could hardly hear herself. That was hardly a surprise, really – she didn't want to say it and her pride ached at having to tell her husband that she had missed him. But she had, and she did not want to have to bear the guilt of ruining something that had made her happy.

"I miss you," she repeated, louder this time, loud enough for her husband to hear. "And I want you. I want things to be like they used to be." As long as she was telling he secret longings, she might as well say them all, she thought, a little bitterly. "But," she continued, "you ought to hate me."

"Why would I do that?" Rodolphus sounded genuinely shocked by the very notion. He pulled back and looked at her, an expression of horror written on his face. "I don't hate you."

"You're mad, then," she snapped, but her voice was free of the bite and bile that usually accompanied what she said to Rodolphus these days. "You should hate me."

"But I don't."

Bellatrix snapped.

"You're like a fucking child, Rodolphus, did you know that?" she burst out. "You act like you're about six years old, being all- all forgiving all the time! I don't deserve for you to not hate me! I don't want you to not hate me! Just– just stop it, for God's sake!"

Rodolphus looked absolutely crushed by her harsh words and tone. "I… didn't mean to make you angry…"

"No, you never do! Remember how you used to?" she hissed, her voice positively dripping with venom now. "Remember how you used to goad me? I loved that! I loved it when you made me angry because you're so damn weak the rest of the time! Why don't you do it anymore?"

"I… I don't know what you want me to say…" he told her in a helpless whisper. His eyes were wide and frightened and Bellatrix wanted more than anything she had ever wanted before in her life to smack him around the head or shake him until his teeth rattled together.

"I want you to say anything except that!" she hissed. "I want you to stand up to me so I can put you back down, like we used to! Don't you remember that, Rod? Don't you remember any of that?"

"All the time."

Bellatrix could have screamed. That damned all-too-sweet new innocence, the way he seemed willing to put his life in her hands, infuriated her beyond belief.

She grabbed him by the front of his shirt, feeling a rush of energy like nothing she'd felt since before Azkaban, and shook him hard. The blanket slipped from around her shoulders, but she didn't care.

Rodolphus started to stumble backwards, but he lost his footing on the uneven ground and went sprawling on his back. Bellatrix, still gripping his shirt, fell down on top of him, knocking the wind out of him, but she did not stop to check if he was all right. If he wasn't – well, what of it? A Rodolphus suffering severe head trauma couldn't be any more insufferably dull than the one she already had to suffer through.

She tore at his shirt, trying to undo the buttons first, then giving up and wrenching it off carelessly. Rodolphus didn't even react, except to look at her with mild sadness and confusion.

"Come on!" she hissed, dragging her nails down his torso. "Come on! Do you want me or not, Rod?"

"I… don't know," he said weakly.

Bellatrix let out a hiss of disgust and exasperation. She was trembling with mad energy now, quite a change from how she had been earlier that night, when she had barely been able to stand on her own two feet. She wrenched at her husband's trousers, pulling them down just far enough to be able to reach in and grip his cock.

"Come on!" she said again, pulling on the soft flesh, frustrated when it would not harden in her hand. "Rod…" she added, adopting an innocent little purr, "I want you… more than I've ever wanted anyone before…" That was a flat lie, she knew – she had wanted the Dark Lord more than this a thousand times in the past – but at that moment, she cared very little about honesty and very much about getting her husband hard so that she could fuck him once more, after all this time.

Rodolphus didn't say anything, didn't even move, but he did harden, just a little, in her hand, and Bellatrix smirked. She leaned down, brushing her lips against the head. Her body, her lips and tongue and hand, remembered what to do, what Rodolphus liked.

He stayed silent, though – silent and still, even when Bellatrix had him rock hard. He barely reacted when she straddled him, her small, frail body pressing his into the soft earth. A small sigh escaped his lips when she slowly lowered herself down onto his cock

He did react, however, when she kissed him.

She hadn't even particularly wanted to do it. Kissing hadn't ever been a part of their foreplay the way that slapping and insults had – it was much more often something that happened after sex, when their minds were hazy and they were too exhausted to keep up with any sort of violent acts. But Rodolphus clearly wasn't planning on giving Bellatrix the pleasure of their old sort of sex, so she leaned down and smashed her lips against his, thinking well, it can't hurt to do it.

No, it most certainly did not hurt.

The moment Bellatrix's mouth touched Rodolphus's, he seemed to come to life. He reached up and tangled his hands in her hair, arching his back and thrusting up into her. Bellatrix moaned, rocking back and forth on him. She bit his lip lightly, and he responded by sliding his tongue across hers.

Her hips rocked quickly, back and forth, against his, and she could tell by his gasping little moans that he was enjoying it very nearly as much as she was, if not even more. Bellatrix saw stars popping before her eyes – touching herself when all her nerves were numb from the cold of the lake was nothing like this. She had forgotten what sex was like.

"Ro… ohhh…"

Bellatrix tried to say his name, but it came out a garbled moan, and Rodolphus did not seem to care. His face was slightly flushed, she could tell, even though the moonlight made him seem as pale and colourless as marble. He shook his head a little, and Bellatrix bit down on his lip again, roughly this time, drawing blood.

Rodolphus's body buckled, and Bellatrix pulled back, watching his face as he came.

"What are you looking at, my love?" Rodolphus whispered.

Bellatrix turned back to him, managing, with great effort, to tear her eyes from the hypnotic rippling of her curtain. "Oh… nothing. Just…" She waved vaguely at the fabric, giving up on explaining what exactly she had been staring at, distracted by the way he was stroking her hair. She made a soft purring sound, curling tightly against his chest.

"Rodolphus?" she murmured after a period of silence.

"What is it, my love?"

"When you…" She looked up at him, a tiny little frown on her face. "When you… climax… did you know your mouth moves? Like you're saying something?"

"I know."

"What do you say?" she asked.

Rodolphus's lips twitched into one of his rare, very slight smiles. He leaned in, and murmured in her ear, "I say, 'Oh God, I want this forever'."

She lay beside him on the grass, all tangled up in his arms, with the blanket he had brought her only half-covering them. She was still shivering a little bit, but Rodolphus's body, frail and broken though it was, was still strong and warm, as it had been when they had first been married.

He was lying still beside her, and her head rested on his chest, listening to that fast, familiar heartbeat.

"Rodolphus?" she breathed at last, glancing up.

"Hmm?" He looked down at her. His eyes were hazy with happiness and pleasure, and that small, rare smile was curving his lips again.

Bellatrix shifted up a little, so that she could murmur in his ear, say the only thing she could think. It wasn't like her to think things like this, but right now, feeling better than she had in fourteen years, the phrase that Rodolphus had shared with her once, many, many years ago was the only one in her mind.

"Oh, God," Bellatrix whispered, her breath hot upon his cheek, "I want this forever."