Author's Notes: Written for the Welcome Home Harry Potter Ficathon on kolms on Livejournal with the prompt Bellatrix/Rodolphus – Take heart, sweetheart, or I will take it from you.

)O(

Bellatrix was limp, numb, hovering in a state that was not quite real, for as long as she was not quite real, she did not have to comprehend what had happened.

The Dark Lord is fallen.

She sat, stoic and stony-faced before the fire when Lucius Malfoy had delivered the news straight from the Minister of Magic, and though she had not betrayed emotion then, it was only because she could not think how to respond.

Disbelief. Anger. Grief.

Rodolphus sat at her side, every bit as devoid of emotion, and when Lucius's head disappeared from the fire, he turned to her.

"What are you thinking, Bellatrix?"

Bellatrix shook her head slowly, staring into the dying embers. "The Dark Lord cannot be fallen," she said quietly, desperately, hoping it more than she believed it. "He cannot have."

"And yet he has."

He spoke more truth than she dared to admit.

Rodolphus rested his hand upon hers, and Bellatrix looked at him, struggling to keep her face free of the sorrow that was washing over her.

The Dark Lord, fallen.

"If he has fallen," Rodolphus said, stroking her hand gently, "then it is all the more reason for us – for his most faithful Death Eaters – to carry on in his name. He was a great man, Bellatrix, but his work and his legacy were greater still, and we must not let those die with him. You least of all." A spark of bitterness crept into Rodolphus's voice, but he regained control quickly. "You were his favourite, after all."

Bellatrix could not speak. Her throat choked with emotion.

"Take heart, sweetheart," he murmured, letting one hand travel up her arm to touch her shoulder, then rest upon her breast, where he could feel her heartbeat. "Or I will take it from you…"

)O(

Fin