Author's Notes: Written for alohamora080's True Colours Competition on the HPFC forum with the colour red (action, confidence, courage, and/or vitality) and the character Bellatrix Lestrange.



The curse caught Rodolphus in the chest. It knocked him backwards, sent him stumbling and falling to the ground, and he lay, writhing and twitching, his body wracked with pain. Bellatrix smiled – no, sneered – down at her husband, her breast heaving with excitement.

"Could you not practice on someone else?" he asked weakly, heaving himself up as he struggled to draw air into his lungs. Damn it, but her curses were strong – and stronger every time she used them on him, it seemed. Stars popped before his eyes every time he blinked now.

Bellatrix offered a hand and he took it, not without some reluctance. She pulled him to his feet, draping her arms around him and breathing heavily. Her lips brushed against his throat and her tongue flicked out to touch the shell of his ear. "Do you not enjoy practicing with me, husband?"

"Not especially…" He winced when her hand pressed against his lower back, which was bruised and aching from falling to the ground too often under his wife's curses.

"Did I hurt you?"

Had he not known Bellatrix so well, Rodolphus might have thought that she was speaking tenderly to him. As it was, he was all too aware that her sweet tones were only sarcasm and mockery.

"Yes," he told her in a mutinous little grumble. She knew full well that she had hurt him, and how badly. She knew how much stronger she was than him – this whole matter was, to her, not practice so much as it was a reminder, both for herself and for him, of how much stronger she was.

Bellatrix seemed to swell with pleasure at her husband's pain, and twined her arms around him, pulling him close. "You aren't angry at me, are you, husband?" she trilled in her most infuriating little baby voice. "You don't think I'm hurting you all out of spite, do you?"

Rodolphus gave her a look that very clearly said that that was exactly what he thought.

"Why husband, I would never do such a thing…" she purred. Her voice was thick with mock sincerity. "Do you think me so cruel?"

"I do."

All the faux sweetness left Bellatrix in a moment, and she stepped back, eyes narrowed into slits.

"Fine, then," she snapped. "In that case, if you do think me so cruel, I won't bother with compensating you for your time."