Author's Notes: Written for Round Two of Mrs Bella Riddle's Death Eater Multiple Round Competition with the character Bellatrix Lestrange and the prompt "Forever is a long time".


Bellatrix stood on the balcony overlooking her ballroom and sulked.

She watched the people who were attending the party with an idle eye – she took no interest in them or their dancing or the gossip that seemed so necessary to their lives, but at least watching them gave her something to do other than think about other than the Dark Lord.

The Dark Lord, who had been on her mind so constantly for so long…

She leaned against the railing, fuming quietly. She should have told off Rodolphus for inviting the Dark Lord to the party when he knew that Bellatrix wouldn't want to see him…

She had made recently made the mistake – the terrible, humiliating mistake – of offering herself to the Dark Lord as a Death Eater. He had told her in no uncertain terms that he did not want a woman to serve him – did not want her to serve him – and since then, the mere mention of the Dark Lord was enough to send Bellatrix into a state of acute depression. It had always been her wish to be a Death Eater, and when Rodolphus had taken the Dark Mark – when Bellatrix had finally met the Dark Lord in person and learned what a wonderful (desirable) man he was, her wish to take the Mark had intensified a hundredfold.

And Rodolphus knew that.

That was probably why he had invited the Dark Lord to their party. He probably knew how angry Bellatrix would be…

"Ah, Bellatrix. I was hoping that I would find you here."

Speak of the Devil.

The Dark Lord's voice was calm and polite, nothing like how Bellatrix's would have been if she had tried to speak to him. He sounded a little self-satisfied too, as though he thought that she was standing up here, maybe even waiting to talk to him privately. She stiffened immediately, clenching her fists on the rail until her knuckles hurt, and she said nothing. She could feel his presence behind her, feel the heat of his body, and she dared not turn around. She kept her eyes on the ballroom below, watching the dancing couples.

"You are sullen, Bellatrix."

"Not sullen, my Lord." It was difficult to say that when she did feel so very sullen, but she didn't want the Dark Lord to think of her as the spoiled little girl that she was sure she already appeared to be. "I simply do not enjoy parties."

"Do you not? She heard the floorboards creak and heard his breath in her ear as he leaned even closer. "What do you enjoy, then? What do you intend to do with your life, if you will not live it out as a proper lady of the Black family?"

Bellatrix swallowed. It was becoming hard to concentrate on giving answers – the sensation of being so close to a man of such power distracted her. But she knew the answer that she wanted to give.

"I wish to serve you, my Lord," she told him, and her voice trembled just the slightest bit. "I wish to be a Death Eater – I have told you, my Lord," she added, and she turned around to face him defiantly. "I have told you that that is what I wish to do with my life, and when I do, you turn me away and say that you have no use for someone like me."

"You are too ambitious in your hopes, Bellatrix." He seemed not at all put off by her tone or expression – perhaps even slightly amused by her anger. "Women – fickle creatures that you are…" His lip curled. "Women should never make promises that they shall do anything forever. The promises are always wrong, and always ill-fated."

"Not always!" Bellatrix protested. "I am not like some women. I know what I want to do with my life, my Lord, and I know that I want to serve you. Forever," she added, as forcefully as she could.

He laughed. Bellatrix flushed, trying to hold his gaze, trying to look proud and challenging and not allow herself to be taken aback by his laughter. She couldn't allow herself to be taken aback by his laughter.

"Forever, you say?" he asked, mouth still curled into a sneer that made her chest tighten with anger – how dare he look at her like that?

"Forever," she repeated. "I will serve you forever, my Lord, if you will only let me!"

His hand shot out and caught her by her throat. Bellatrix jerked away automatically, gripping the railing behind her for leverage, but he held her tightly, squeezing down on her windpipe, and he leaned so close that his breath felt warm against her ear.

"Forever is a long time, Bellatrix," he said, his voice suddenly soft and almost gentle. "Are you sure that you are confident enough in your own faith to make that promise?"

"I am, my Lord." Her heart beat swiftly against her ribs and she felt her palms becoming slick and wet as she grasped the banister. She would have let go and wiped her palms discreetly upon her skirt, but she feared that if she did, she would collapse, for she was not sure that her legs would support her. "I- I want nothing more out of my life than to serve you, I swear…"

"You may desire to serve me," he whispered, "and yet not understand what it would require of you if you were to serve me. You do not and cannot grasp, Bellatrix, the sort of fortitude that is required of my Death Eaters. Few enough men are capable – why would I believe that a woman would be?"

"I am not just a woman, my Lord," she told him shakily. "My gender has nothing to do with my wish to serve you…"

"Really?" He sounded faintly amused, as though he knew that she was lying. And it was alie – she would have desired to be a Death Eater under any circumstance, but her lust for him only made her wish to serve him all the more intense.

"Really," she whispered. "Really, my Lord."

"So…" He sounded so quiet, so gentle, and his hand reached out to brush against her cheek. "So you do not desire me, Bellatrix? And bear in mind," he added, when she opened her mouth, "that lying to me is a useless endeavour."

Her cheeks flamed and she looked away.

"I… it would be a lie for me to say that I do not desire you at all, my Lord," she said quietly. "But that is not my reason for wanting to be a Death Eater – I know that lust is quickly and easily sated." She flushed when she said that, but continued, though still did not dare to look him in the eye. "I have more faith in you than I have lust."

He was silent for a moment, apparently considering her, then his grip on her throat loosened.

"Perhaps, then," he said, so quietly that he seemed almost to be talking to himself, "there would be some hope for you if you were to take the mark."

"My Lord?"

He put his hand upon her chin, turning her to face him.

"You may have a chance to take the Dark Mark yet, Bellatrix," he told her, and her heart leapt. "I shall have to consider it… but it is not an impossibility."

"Oh- my Lord…" Bellatrix's heart leapt. She wanted to fall at his feet, prostrate herself before him and thank him, but he stepped back before she could even say thank you.

"Do not consider it a done deal, Bellatrix," he told her. "But I shall think on it. I think you may have some qualities that would be most desirable in a Death Eater."