Bellatrix cackled with happiness as her spell took hold on Manna Holden, the Auror she'd tracked down in Essex. The other witch toppled over, her wand already having been seized by Bellatrix in the midst of a fierce duel. Bellatrix had explicit orders to get Holden to the Dark Lord alive for interrogation, so she Conjured ropes and bound the other witch up before Disapparating. When she appeared outside the Apparition Point at Malfoy Manor, the Stunning Spell wore off and Manna Holden squirmed and yelled inside her bindings.
"Silencio. Immobulus. Wingardium Leviosa."
Soon enough, Bellatrix was guiding the frozen, bound, silent form of Manna Holden into the Manor. Holden's quiet body floated as Bellatrix dragged her along, bringing her up through the main stairwell and into the meeting room where she was expected. Inside she found Lord Voldemort waiting, his arms crossed over flowing black robes as he smirked with satisfaction.
"Well done, Bellatrix," he nodded, and Bellatrix grinned as she set Holden's body down on the ground before her master. She watched as he put his own spells on her, taking control of the Auror, and he nodded to Bellatrix as he said softly, "You may go."
"Thank you, My Lord." Bellatrix bowed her head and turned to go. Then she heard from behind her,
She turned quickly to see Voldemort staring straight at her, studying her, his dark eyes going up and down her form. She watched his throat bob a little, and then he murmured,
"Fine work today. Dismissed."
Of all the things Lord Voldemort should be doing at this Christmas gathering, he thought, staring at Bellatrix Lestrange was not one of them.
She'd eagerly joined his ranks straight out of Hogwarts. That summer, she'd married Rodolphus Lestrange, who had just as enthusiastically come into Voldemort's service. It was Bellatrix who had proven herself fierce and fearless in combat, loyal and courageous to the point of putting herself directly in harm's way more often than not. Rodolphus was a fine foot soldier, but Bellatrix was something different. She was… a beast of her own sort.
For the last several months, Voldemort had often found himself eyeing her. Sometimes during a meeting, he'd catch her gaze for a half second, forcing himself not to hold it. He'd see her walking through the gardens of Malfoy Manor toward the Apparition Point, and he'd study her movements through the window of his office.
She was beautiful in a strange, unconventional way. Her features were at once childish and mature. She had wide eyes of the deepest brow, full pink lips, and sharp cheekbones with a thin, almost gangly body. Her hair was a thrashing sort of cascade, black ringlets that were barely controlled. She was young. She was beautiful. She was loyal and brave and intelligent. Still, Voldemort loathed himself for looking at her so often.
First of all, he must not trouble himself with trifling things like lust if he meant to become the ruler of wizarding Britain. There was no time, no space or energy to be granted to the pursuit of a witch. And, anyway, she was not available. She'd been married to Rodolphus Lestrange for over a year now. She was someone else's wife, and he was her master, and he didn't have time or space for staring at her.
But here he was, in the middle of the ballroom at Malfoy Manor, clutching a glass of white wine and staring. She was standing with her husband, his arm laced comfortably around her narrow waist, as the two of them talked with her sister Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy. Voldemort huffed out a rather frustrated breath and swigged down the rest of his wine. He flicked his eyes toward the dance floor, where people were smiling and celebrating the coming holiday. Then he Vanished his empty wine glass with nonverbal, wandless magic and stalked over to where Bellatrix stood.
Narcissa Black muttered something, and Bellatrix whirled round with Rodolphus. All four of the young people before Voldemort dipped their heads reverently, and Lucius said politely,
"My Lord, I do hope my family's party is to your liking."
"Quite," Voldemort affirmed. He looked at Bellatrix for a brief moment, and then he said to Rodolphus, "Lestrange, I wonder if I might borrow your wife for a moment. Just a quick dance."
All four of them looked awfully surprised, but when Voldemort held his hand out to Bellatrix, she took it and flashed her husband a little smile. Voldemort's heart went far quicker than he'd have preferred as he led Bellatrix out toward the dance floor. He put his hand to the middle of her back and then quickly realised he'd found bare skin; her gown had a round cut-out from the black lace, and he'd put his palm right onto her flesh. He didn't move his hand, for some reason, and Bellatrix said nothing, but her eyes flashed. Voldemort cleared his throat as they started to move to the festive but lazy two-step the strings were playing.
"I wanted to tell you," Voldemort said quietly, "that I extracted a great deal of information from Manna Holden. Your work in Essex was very well done, Bellatrix."
She smiled, and at the sight of that, his breath caught for some reason. Voldemort swallowed the odd, unexpected thickness in his throat as Bellatrix said quietly,
"I am so honoured to have been useful to you, Master. It is all I ever desire - to serve you."
"Hmm." Voldemort pushed his teeth into his bottom lip until it hurt, and he glanced over to see that Rodolphus Lestrange was dancing with Narcissa Black, both of them laughing about something or another. Narcissa was still at Hogwarts, but she was home on holiday. Bellatrix was young, too. Far too young for Voldemort to be ogling. And she was married, and he was her master, and -
He snapped to attention, lowering his eyes and realising just how very short Bellatrix was. She seemed a little concerned, and he thought his face must have done something odd. He squared his jaw and steeled his expression and said rather cruelly,
"You've tamed your hair tonight."
Bellatrix frowned a little. She'd pulled her hair into a tight braid down her back, through which she'd threaded metallic silver cords. Voldemort sniffed a little and said,
"I remember when your family would come to the Malfoy Christmas parties a long time ago. I was lowly then, not a worshipped lord of any kind, but I remember the little girl with the wild black curls that exploded straight out of her scalp."
Bellatrix laughed a little then and shook her head a bit.
"The curls are just as wild now, Master; that's why I braid them up sometimes."
"Yes, well. You've grown into your hair, and I like it down." Voldemort scowled deeply at Bellatrix, for he had no idea at all why he was telling her anything about her hair. She seemed just as confused, and Voldemort shut his eyes as he said firmly,
"I've had entirely too much wine. Forgive my silliness."
It was a lie; he'd had two glasses over the course of a hour and a half. He was hardly drunk. The song ended, and Voldemort took a little step back from Bellatrix as he said,
"You should dance with your husband now."
"Yes, Master." Bellatrix's eyes were strange then, as if she was seeing something for the very first time. Another song started up, and still they just stood there, staring at one another like utter fools. Voldemort tried and failed to tear his gaze from her.
Pretty, his mind muttered to itself. Pretty and clever and loyal and fearless, and -
"Bella, may I steal you back?"
Rodolphus had returned, and Bellatrix gasped audibly as her face snapped away from Voldemort's. Her chest was heaving visibly, and she flicked her gaze back up to her master as she said quietly,
"Thank you for the dance, My Lord."
"The pleasure was mine, Madam Lestrange." Voldemort made his lips articulate the words, forced breath from his lungs, and blinked as he watched Rodolphus nod to him and lead Bellatrix off. Rodolphus swept his wife into a dance, and Lord Voldemort decided he'd had more than enough of this silly party.
He made a quiet exit, stalking like a wraith through the corridors and stairwells of Malfoy Manor until he reached the suite where he was based these days. He sank into an armchair and lit a fire in his fireplace, staring at the flames as he listened to the distant strains of the party continuing downstairs.
She was someone else's wife, and he was Lord Voldemort. He had no time or space or energy to think about her. And, anyway, she was married.
But here he was, staring into a fire, remembering the warm softness of her skin beneath his palm and wide shimmer of her dark eyes.
"You looked so pretty tonight, Bella." Rodolphus' voice was warm as he undid the little buttons at the back of Bellatrix's neck. She smiled at him as she slithered from her black lace and silk gown, and she Banished it to her wardrobe.
"I hate parties. You know that," she reminded him. The two of them cleaned themselves up with Scouring charms and got into pyjamas, and once they'd settled into bed, Rodolphus leaned to kiss Bellatrix. He tasted like mint, and though Bellatrix kissed him back, something felt empty tonight. When she pulled back from him, she couldn't focus on his pale blue eyes or his honey-coloured hair. All she could think of was the Dark Lord - tall with eyes black as night, smelling of cedarwood and leather. As Rodolphus' short fingers drifted around Bellatrix's face and neck, all she could feel was Voldemort's hand against her back, his other one wrapped around hers.
"Something wrong?" Rodolphus frowned a little, and Bellatrix realised she'd gone tense beneath his touch. She sighed and lied,
"I'm just tired. Long night."
"Well," Rodolphus said kindly, "I shall make extra love to you tomorrow night, then."
She nodded. "Night, Dolph."
He rolled onto his back and shut his eyes contentedly. "Night, Bella."
She rolled away and stared at the window, noting how brightly the moonlight shone tonight.
She was Rodolphus' wife, and he was the great and fearsome Lord Voldemort. He had no time for someone like her to be fawning over him, and it was scarcely appropriate for her to fantasise about her master. She was married, and he existed on a different plane, anyway.
But here she was, lying beside her husband and staring out the window, wishing with all her might that she could have just one more dance with him, with Lord Voldemort.