Bellatrix and Rodolphus were lying in bed after the party, and, more importantly, after Bellatrix had fulfilled her promise to reward him for going. Rodolphus was completely spent and aching all over. Bellatrix was lying on top of him and toying lightly with his hair, occasionally pulling on it to make him jump and more often twisting it idly around and around her fingers. They were curled together in comfortable silence and Rodolphus was just starting to doze off when Bellatrix suddenly spoke up.

"Rodolphus," she said meditatively, "tell me what you know about the Dark Lord."

The question was abrupt and quite unexpected. Rodolphus looked at his wife with some confusion. "The Dark Lord? What do you know about the Dark Lord?"

"They were discussing him at dinner – of course, youweren't paying attention…" There was a light, teasing, slightly scornful note in her voice that Rodolphus recognized. "Too busy thinking about how you wanted to fuck me on the table. Men can't ever get sex off their minds, can they?"

Rodolphus didn't even bother trying say that that wasn't true. It would have been a lie if he had.

"So tell me what you know about him."

"I don't know much," Rodolphus said, trying to brush off the question casually. Bellatrix rarely asked such questions of him and he could not help worrying about why she would suddenly form an interest in the Dark Lord. "It's all politics, what he does, and you know that I don't like politics…"

"I know."

"But…" He paused, then shook his head. "No, I don't know much about him at all. You'll have to find out for yourself. Maybe ask Lucius – he's got all those connections at the Ministry, he'll probably know plenty."

"Mm…" Bellatrix didn't say anything to that and she turned over so she was facing away from Rodolphus. Something deep inside his stomach churned nervously, but he disregarded it. Bellatrix would get all interested in political matters; why did that surprise him? She'd always had a fondness for intrigue…

He turned over as well, closed his eyes and thought no more of the matter.

Or, rather, he attempted to think no more of the matter, but it was difficult. He slept more fitfully than he had in some time and several times in the night, he woke up and could not fall asleep for wondering why Bellatrix – whose interest in politics had always been slight – had suddenly asked him about the Dark Lord.

She did not speak of him again, but – though perhaps it was his imagination – Rodolphus thought that Bellatrix was more distant after that. She was certainly spending less time at home with him.

"Where have you been?" Rodolphus demanded when Bellatrix slunk inside, long after dark one evening. There had been no note from her, no word that she was going to be going out, and if he hadn't been so sure that his wife could take care of herself, he would have been terrified. As it was, he was just irritable that she hadn't thought to tell him where she was going.

"Nowhere," Bellatrix said. Her face was flushed and her hair dishevelled, and she all but leapt on Rodolphus when she saw him, pushing him against the wall. Her fingers scrabbled at the buttons of his shirt. "But I've missed you…"

"Bellatrix!" Rodolphus couldn't remember ever being less eager for sex than he was at that moment.

"What?" She looked at him with her eyelids lowered and a smirk on her lips. He could practically feel how desperate she was for him, and though he should have been pleased, he could only feel irritation with her behaviour.

"I want to know where you've been."

Bellatrix frowned, pulling back a little and pushing her hair back. "Why?"

"Just tell me!"

She took a deep breath and let it out as an exasperated sigh. "You are impossible, Rodolphus. All right, if you must know, I had an audience with the Dark Lord."

Rodolphus's heart skipped a beat. He swallowed hard, trying to keep his tone steady and even. "Did you? What for?"

"Didn't I make it clear enough to you that I was interested in him?" Bellatrix asked, shrugging slightly. "I thought it would be wise to find out some more about him… the newspapers seem to think that he's gaining rather a lot of power, and I'd like to be on his side of there's some sort of… skirmish with the Ministry." She glared at him sternly. "I suppose that answers your questions satisfactorily."

"Well… f- fair… enough…" he stammered. "I just- wondered…"

"Shut up, Rodolphus," she told him, apparently losing all interest in what he had to say. "Forget where I was. It's not important. What is important…" She took his hand and pressed it firmly between her legs, and he felt wetness there. "What is important is that I'm in something of a- something of a state… and I could do with your help."

Rodolphus nodded obligingly, getting down on his knees and lifting Bellatrix's skirts for her. He leaned in to lick, pleasure welling in his stomach when he heard his wife moan, and tried to block out thoughts of why exactly she would want to see the Dark Lord.

He also tried to block out thoughts about why seeing the Dark Lord would have left her in such a state.

)O(

Weeks passed, and though there were several occasions on which Bellatrix seemed to see fit to stay out all night and come home insisting that she had been discussing politics with the Dark Lord, Rodolphus managed to avoid thinking about it. He was willing to believe – if only for the sake of his own mental state – that everything had been quite innocent.

He did take to reading articles about the Dark Lord – just so he'd have something to discuss with Bellatrix should the subject come up – and more than once, he had managed to convince Bellatrix to take him along with her. The Dark Lord, in general, struck him as just a touch too charismatic and attractive for him to be entirely willing to let his wife spend nights with, and the way she all but fawned over him did not help, but Rodolphus said nothing on the matter. After all, Bellatrix loved him every bit as much as he adored her, and she would surely not have an affair. It was nothing more than stupidity and suspicion for him to believe that she would.

That was, at least, what he told himself for as long as he could.

"Rodolphus?" Bellatrix murmured in a low, sensual voice, breathing in his ear. She pressed herself against him, her breasts to his back and her arms snaking around his waist. "Would you do something for me?"

"You know that I would, Bella…" Rodolphus turned a little in her arms to face her, a smile creeping across his lips. "I'd do anything for you… you know that."

"Good." Bellatrix caught his earlobe between her teeth, biting down on it lightly and making him jump. "Good…"

"What do you want me to do?"

She lifted her head, looking him in the eye, and Rodolphus thought that he had never seen his wife looking so serious or so… so nervous, really. She looked almost wary, as though she thought that he would not accept.

Madness. He could refuse her, but he never had. He never had any intention to.

"Role play, Rodolphus…" she said tentatively.

"Of course," he said immediately. "Just tell me who to be…"

He had been expecting some odd scenario – it would not have been unusual for them, not unusual for her to cook up some detailed and dramatic role play for the two of them to act out. They often started out sounding silly but, by the time they were properly immersed in whatever scenario she had created, it was so erotic that it left Rodolphus breathless.

"The Dark Lord," she told him.

Rodolphus froze instantly. He stared at her, taken aback.

"P- pardon me?"

"The Dark Lord." Bellatrix's eyes were shining brightly and she looked almost feverish as she leaned close to her husband. "You can do that, can't you, Rod?"

"Well, I don't- I mean, I can, I suppose… but…" He tried to speak but his voice gave out and trailed off and he looked at his wife with confusion. She looked far too eager for this, far less than she usually did for any sort of new activity.

"But what?"

"But…" It was so difficult to put into words what he was feeling, what he was thinking. "Well- Bella, if I may ask… if I may ask something before we start…"

"Yes, of course you can. You can always ask, you know that."

"Why?"

Rodolphus had had every intention of phrasing it more tactfully, asking Bellatrix something more along the lines of 'what is it about this that you want?', which was a question they often used when discussing anything new that either of them wanted to try. But the blunt, simple why had slipped out before Rodolphus could stop it.

"Why what?" She looked confused. "Why can you always ask?"

"No- why do you want this?"

Bellatrix frowned. "Is there a problem?"

"Well, it's just…" He searched for words for a moment, then said as slowly and tactfully as he could manage, "I… don't know how I feel… about you thinking about a – a specific– other man during sex…"

"Jealous?" Bellatrix asked. She arched an eyebrow and Rodolphus bristled.

"No! Of course I'm not!"

"Because it sounds terribly as though you are…" She swung a leg gracefully over his waist so she was straddling his torso and pressed down on him, narrowing her eyes into sharp little slits. "And why would that be, Rodolphus? It's not as though I'm actually going to bed with him. I'm still with you, and you know…" Her voice turned soft and sultry so quickly that Rodolphus took a moment to register the change. "You know that you still arouse me… that it isn't that you're not enough for me…"

She stroked his chest, her long fingernails dragging lightly over the ridges of muscle and the scars – some given by her – that decorated his torso. Rodolphus's back arched very slightly at her familiar caress.

"Just try it?" she purred. "If you don't like it, you know you can stop… we can always stop, whenever you want…"

"I know."

"All right, then." Bellatrix had hesitated for a moment, but now she was all business again, slipping out of bed and pulling on her dress from where she had flung it over the back of a chair before she shoved Rodolphus's robes at him. "Get dressed. Make yourself look presentable."

He dressed slowly, keeping his eyes on her, and for the first time, Rodolphus saw what he was surewas a girlish blush on her cheeks, and she ducked her head, looking at him through her lashes.

"My Lord…" she breathed.

"I- I don't know what to do…" Rodolphus stammered. He had read about the Dark Lord but he didn't know him personally – how was he to even guess what he would be like in bed?

"Just play along!" Bellatrix snapped, then she stepped towards him, softening her expression into a small, slightly seductive pout. "My Lord, I wish to do something to serve you…"

Rodolphus swallowed. He had become so used to letting Bellatrix set the pace, so used to remaining silent except for answering her breathless questions and occasionally moaning yes, that he was quite unsure how to behave.

"Wh- what do you wish to do?" he asked, trying to keep a tremble out of his voice. He was quite sure that the Dark Lord would not stammer.

"Higher."

"What?"

"Speak with a higher pitch," Bellatrix told him impatiently. "The Dark Lord has such a lovely, high-pitched voice…"

Rodolphus cleared his throat, then tried again, straining to raise his voice a few notes higher than usual. "What do you wish to do to serve me, Bellatrix?"

The tiniest of moans escaped from Bellatrix's lips. "I- I want to please you, my Lord… I so want to please you…"

"And how do you think you can please me?" Rodolphus tried to sound uninterested, uncaring, for surely that was how a man of the stature of the Dark Lord would talk to a woman like Bellatrix, whose cheeks were flushed quite red from arousal.

"I… I think I can do things to- to satisfy your desires…" she murmured, the tip of her tongue tracing her lips. "My Lord, I know that I can do things for you… I'd willingly do anything for you…"

"Would you?" That was not something that Rodolphus was used to hearing his wife say. It was usually he who insisted that he would do anything for her and she who insisted that he prove it. This was the first time that the situation had ever been reversed and Rodolphus would have been lying if he said that he didn't rather enjoy having power over his wife for once.

"Yes… anything…" She sank to her knees before him, her hands moving up slowly and hovering inches from his crotch. "Anything you want of me, my Lord… whatever you want of me, I shall do it…"

That was extremely erotic.

Bellatrix's eyelids were lowered, her lips were parted slightly as though she was already waiting to take him in her mouth, and her breast was heaving deliciously with every breath she took.

"Please, my Lord, let me…" she moaned, and Rodolphus nodded.

He didn't think he had ever seen her look so thrilled – her eyes were wide with excitement as she pulled open the fastenings of his robes and took his cock in her hand.

"Oh, my Lord…"

It would have been far better if she had called him Rodolphus, of course…

Rodolphus tangled his fingers in her hair, not saying a word as she opened her mouth and took the tip of his cock between her lips, sucking for a moment before sinking down on it until it hit the back of her throat. Rodolphus stifled a grunt and Bellatrix's whole body arched. She looked as though she was getting every bit as much pleasure from sucking him as she would have if he had been the one pleasuring her…

He tightened his grip on her hair and held her head still while he thrust into her mouth. She gagged and her throat constricted around him, giving him cause to moan again before he pulled back and yanked her to her feet. Bellatrix's eyes glittered and she let out a small purr.

"Rough…" she breathed, giving a tiny nod that he could only assume indicated approval. Good. Good that she approved, because Rodolphus was certainly enjoying tossing his wife around a little.

He threw her down onto the bed and advanced on her, shedding his robes. Bellatrix spread her legs willingly, watching him with glittering eyes.

"I want you so very much, my Lord," she whispered and Rodolphus silenced her with a swift, firm slap to the face.

"Don't say anything," he told her. "Not unless I give you leave, do you understand me?"

"Yes, my Lord!" Bellatrix panted. A fresh moan escaped her lips as Rodolphus held her down and she bit down on her lips so hard that blood trickled from them when he thrust into her.

It was satisfying, very satisfying in a terribly strange way to weaken Bellatrix. It didn't matter that he knew full well that she was the one who was really in control – it was just so pleasurable to, for once, make her bleed, make her tremble and moan for him, instead of letting her do it to him. It was almost cathartic, and certainly a welcome change of pace.

Bellatrix's eyes were squeezed tightly shut. Rodolphus briefly considered ordering her to look him in the eye – but no, she wouldn't do it, and who was he to deprive her of her fantasy? If she wanted to keep her eyes shut and think of the Dark Lord…

Her back arched and a gasp escaped her lips when he thrust into her. Rodolphus had her pinned to the bed by her arms, yet her whole body lifted off the mattress as she forced herself closer to him, still with her eyes closed. Her cheeks flushed pink and sweat beaded on her forehead and he couldn't recall her ever reacting so quickly and so obviously to him before.

Was it because she enjoyed submission more than she had let on before?

He hoped that that was the reason and not that she far preferred the idea of making love to the Dark Lord than to him.

"Take me harder, my Lord," Bellatrix moaned, clutching the sheets between her sweaty fingers, digging her nails in.

"Don't give orders." Rodolphus grabbed her hair and pulled it back, mentally willing her to open her eyes.

She didn't, only let out a sound somewhere between a gasp and a strangled sob. "Yes, my Lord…"

The longer it went on – the longer Rodolphus spent holding her down and pulling her hair and fucking her roughly, for he didn't dare to do anything more – the more bored he became with it. Bellatrix was being too compliant, too quiet and willing and unlike the woman he was used to. He was so used to her being the one who gave orders and made him do what she wanted that this reversal of roles was so strange that he could take no pleasure from it. He continued only for Bellatrix's sake, and was profoundly relieved when she reached her climax. Her back arched, her legs jerked up automatically as though driven by an urge to wrap around him that she was only barely able to suppress, and a tense moan escaped her lips.

Rodolphus softened inside her. He couldn't reach a climax – not like this, knowing that his wife hadn't looked at him and had only taken pleasure in being handled so roughly. Bellatrix seemed not to notice or care about him, for she lay trembling on the bed for a long moment before she opened her eyes slowly. They were glassy, glazed over and she stared into space for a time before she blinked twice, then sat up and looked at Rodolphus at last.

"Thank you," she said, cordially, politely, as though he had poured her a cup of tea instead of all but encouraging her to fantasize about another man.

"Was that… all right?" he asked.

"It was excellent…" She rose up and draped her arms around him, pressing kisses to his neck. "I love you, Rod…"

"Do you?"

Bellatrix pulled back slightly, frowning. "Of course I do. Really, Rodolphus, you know that I do. I'm so happy that I married you–"

"Because if you had married anyone else, he might not have liked having you think about another man while he made love to you?" Rodolphus was aware of a petulant note in his voice and Bellatrix frowned at him.

"You could have stopped if it had bothered you that much."

He snorted. "Could I have? I didn't think you would have approved–"

"Dear God, Rodolphus, you know that if you ever don't want to do something, all you have to do is say–"

"This is different," he said shortly. "It's not like having you go too far and hurt me by mistake – it's just… I didn't…"

Bellatrix rolled her eyes. "Eloquent as always, Rodolphus," she said derisively. "When you decide why it bothered you and why you couldn't bring yourself to tell me that you wanted to stop, then talk to me." She sank back onto the bed and turned away from him and he could see her clenching her fists, digging her nails into her palms.

"What is it that you like so much about the Dark Lord?" he demanded. There was a part of him that was positively screaming for him to keep his mouth shut, but he found himself unable to listen to it. "You've only met him once – haven't you?" And then a new panic took him over. "Haven't you?"

Bellatrix sat up and looked at Rodolphus with wild-eyed anger. "What are you saying?"

"Are you having an affair with him?" he hissed. His heart was beating quickly against his rib cage and sweat beading on his forehead and he could scarcely believe that he was asking this of his wife, but now that the thought had occurred to him, it would not go away. It was bad enough for her to be fantasizing after him, lusting after him, but it was a thousand times worse to think that she might actuallybe sleeping with him. The very idea made Rodolphus feel sick.

Bellatrix sprung up, and her hand wrapped around Rodolphus's neck, squeezing down on it.

"How dare you!" she hissed. "How dare youaccuse me of that! After all this time, you think I'm unfaithful? Do you think I'm a whore, Rodolphus, is that what you think of me?"

"No!" he cried, batting at her hands and backing away automatically, horrified by his wife's anger. "Of course I don't think that you're a whore! I would never think that about you–"

"Then how," she hissed, "how can you possibly thinkto accuse me of adultery?"

"I wasn't–"

"Don't give me that, Rodolphus, you asked if I was having an affair! It's a bit late now for you to say…" She put on a mocking imitation of his voice, "oh no, I wasn't accusing you of adultery."

Rodolphus said nothing. There was nothing that he couldsay that wouldn't infuriate his wife and he couldn't stand the thought of a fight with her going on any longer than it absolutely needed to. Bellatrix glared at him a moment longer, then sank onto the bed.

"I'm going to sleep," she told him, and her voice was cold and sharp. "I'm not going to go on listening to my pathetic excuse for a husband whine about me having fantasies about another man–"

"I don't think it's unreasonable–"

"Shut your mouth," she told him icily, then lay down and turned her back on him.

Rodolphus hesitated before lying down beside her. There was a part of him that didn't want to be in bed with his wife, not after all of that. He wanted to go sleep in another room, or even another house, or not sleep at all. He could feel Bellatrix's anger and derision practically radiating off of her and he edged to the far side of the bed and turned away.

Perhaps he had overreacted. Perhaps she really hadjust wanted to try something different and perhaps bringing up the Dark Lord had simply been her way of suggesting that she take on a submissive role for once. If that was the case, then perhaps she was right to be angry at him for his assumption.

But he couldn't quite believe that.

He didn't fancy himself particularly skilled at reading people, but he was sure that the way in which Bellatrix had acted indicated more interest in a different man than a different position. If she had just wanted to be submissive, she could have told him. And surely she would have kept her eyes open or at least opened them rather more often, so that she could take pleasure in seeing him over her…

But he didn't want to accuse her of adultery.

He didn't want to do anything that might drive her away from him. He was so happy with her – or, he had been until tonight – and it would break his heart if she really was having an affair, or if she left him because she didn't like being accused of it. He couldn't imagine what his life would be without her – she had become so inexorably linked to his ideas of sex and love and adulthood, even, that he didn't know what he would do if he didn't have her anymore.

"Bella?" he whispered.

She turned over and glared at him. "What?"

"I love you."

If there had been words he knew that would properly express what he felt for his wife – because it was a great deal more than love, a combination of desire and love and obsession and awe and other feelings that were beyond his ability to fully comprehend – he would have used them.

But he didn't.

He just looked at Bellatrix desperately and waited for her expression to soften.

It didn't.

"I love you too, Rod," she said, but the words were short and clipped and she didn't sound at all as though she felt anything but distaste for him.

"Really?"

"With all my heart."

But instead of doing what Rodolphus wantedher to do, instead of putting her arms around him and curling against him and going to sleep in his arms, she turned her back again and Rodolphus could only lie awake for the rest of the night and wonder which of them was more to blame.

)O(

Fin