20/3/2016: Of course I couldn't leave Voldy alone! He, too, deserved a bit of polishing. So here you go - and hopefully you'll enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it ;)

Halloween, Halloween. Here we are at last.

After the meeting, I remained sitting in my chair at the head of the table, twirling my wand between my fingers. The lines of the prophecy kept repeating themselves in my head, like they tended to do lately.

I was quite lucky Dumbledore was the way he was, really.

First Snape and now Pettigrew had come to me, both unsatisfied and feeling shunned, both becoming the bearers of important information. Of course, they were both drastically different in character and skill, but it was rather poetic, the way those Dumbledore overlooked stood up against him.

(Night-time musings. Again. I should stop and get going.)

I realized Bellatrix was still in the room, almost blending into the shadows. Were it anyone else, I'd probably throw his ass out, but with her, it was different.

She kept proving herself to be the most loyal amongst my followers and, unlike a lot of them, she really put her heart into the fight.
In fact, thinking about it, she was way better than any of them in many aspects - she was smart, an extremely talented duellist and when she did something, she focused all her attention at the task at hand.

I knew value when I saw it.

Quite curious about her intentions, I lifted my head and looked straight at her.
"What are you still doing here, Bella?"

I saw her eyes glow with happines when I used that nickname. She'd had that kind of reaction every time I'd shown something resembling affection towards her. I remembered that back in the early days, when I taught her how to fight better, she almost melted whenever I touched her hand to correct her grip.

It was actually quite amusing, this crush of hers.

"My Lord, are you sure there's no other way?" she asked carefully, clearly eager not to awaken my wrath.

"Other way?" I repeated slowly. I understood that she was talking about tonight, I saw it in her expression, but I had only a vague idea as to why she would ask that.

"It's just...I have a bad feeling about tonight. I know it sounds stupid," she added hastily, probably sensing my growing annoyance, "and I know you're perfectly able to take down one family by yourself, but it feels like something's not right. I definitely don't trust that little rat Pettigrew," she said with a grimace of disgust. "I'd simply feel better if you at least took someone with you..."

This actually sounded more like Narcissa than Bellatrix and it was actually quite discomforting. I wasn't used to her sounding so...sentimental.

I took in her expression, the way she kept her stare down, the way she bit her lower lip. What was the matter?

A touch of Legilimency, just strong enough to scan her current emotions - and I was slightly surprised.

She was actually concerned about me. Almost scared for me. That was...new.

A smirk crossed my lips.

Seating myself more comfortably, I asked curiously: "And since when are you so...caring, dear Bella?"

She looked on the table, keeping quiet, and I could almost see the thoughts twirling around her head. Just when I pondered whether or not to use Legilimency, she said quietly: "You're my Lord. I don't want you to," she paused for a second, "get hurt."


Well, if she wanted to play a game, I had no objections.

But we were going to play by my rules.

I stood up and in a whirl of black robes moved to stand in front of her.

"Really? Or is it something...else? What do you think , Bella?"

She kept her gaze glued to the table.

"You're my Lord," she finally said, repeating herself. "I merely feel concern for your well-being, that's all."

"We both know that's not quite true, don't we?" I said as I started to circle around her.

(Merlin's beard, I'm like Nagini when she wants to play with her dinner.)

"It doesn't matter how I feel, my Lord. You know it doesn't interfere with what I do as a Death Eater."

Interfere, maybe not, but her feelings were definitely involved.

She evidently got all her courage together, because she raised her head and a pair of brown eyes met mine.

"Can you promise me that you will come back, my Lord? Please?" she asked quietly, the words and the tone of voice so unlike her.

If anyone told me Bellatrix Lestrange would plead for the assurance of my safety, I'd laugh my arse off.

I was actually planning to do that, but then I thought for a moment.

My attention and praise were the things that made Bellatrix happy, and when she was happy, there wasn't an obstacle she couldn't overcome.

Giving her the answer she desired fitted under the 'receiving my attention' label.

Plus, if my presumption about her feelings was correct, I'd get a moment of amusement out of her reaction.

(What was there to lose?)

I lifted her chin and for a moment allowed myself to look deep into those chocolate brown orbs.

"I promise," I whispered, my voice drawling just enough to make her shiver.

And then, suddenly, we were kissing.

I had no idea how it started, but to say I was surprised would be an understatement.

I was shocked even more when I realized that I was kissing Bellatrix back.

It was...strange.

Of course, I'd had many women throughout the course of my life, but it was always only to reach a goal or to...relieve myself.
I never put my heart into it.

But in that very moment I'd somehow ended up with my hands cupping Bellatrix's cheeks and she was leaning into me, her back arched like she was a cat, her hands gripping my robes tightly.

She put a lot of the passion into the kiss, more than I'd ever thought she could feel. When we finally broke apart, she was breathing heavily and slightly trembling. She looked like she was drugged and still fighting off the after-effects.
I realized with a start that I felt good. Better than in a long time, in fact.

But what actually scared me was the fact that once I got a taste of Bellatrix Lestrange, I wanted more.

Bellatrix's eyes were wide, my hands moved to her hips on their own accord and I was at loss of words.

What does one say in a situation like this, anyway? All my previous encounters of this type were carefully planned and didn't involve a woman who'd, if her reaction was any indicator, have no trouble commiting a mass murder to get a chance to kiss me.

So I just repeated: "I promise."

Apparently it was what Bellatrix wanted to hear, because she smiled warmly and leaned a bit closer to me.

I felt something twitch in the depths of my mind. A treacherous thought got inside my head, a thought of a satisfyingly spent night, a thought of another taste of her lips, a thought of abandoning the task at hand-


The words of the prophecy washed over me like a bucket of ice-cold water. There was something I had to do, and tonight was the night to do it.

Halloween, one of the most powerful magical nights of the year.

Angry at myself for even considering doing something that would only encourage Bellatrix in her attempts, I took a step back from her and Disapparated.

No distractions. Not today.

However, when I arrived at the Potters' house, I couldn't help but remember how damn good that kiss was.

I felt my magic grow and shift as my heart pounded just a little bit faster.

I couldn't feel love, I wouldn't deliberately feel it, but that didn't mean I couldn't enjoy certain aspects of it.

I raised my wand and blew the front door off its hinges with a single wave.

Say goodbye to the world, Harry Potter.

After almost fourteen years, I finally had my body back.

That was good.

Harry bloody Potter escaped again, this time with the help of a bunch of ghosts.

That was bad. Very bad.

I was angrier than I'd ever been in my entire life. My mood didn't exactly improve when the filthy scumbag Snape crawled to me two hours later, explaining how well he'd fooled everyone and how he'd always been on my side.

He was asking for the torture, really.

When he finally gave in and started screaming out loud, I switched to Legilimency. Pain was a great way of making the mind raw and unprotected, and thus honest.

What I saw inside Snape's head surprised me.

He was actually telling the truth. He really wanted to be the part of the fight again, he was teaching at Hogwarts like I originally intended him to and, most importantly, Dumbledore bought his remorse act.

In the end, I decided to spare his life. I wasn't generous very often, but the trip into his thoughts actually made me feel like he deserved a second chance.

Even if it was merely for my amusement.

The beginning of one particular January night found me on the way to Azkaban, my Death Eaters around me on their brooms. Throughout the past six months or so, we'd had a variety of meetings, planned for the future and prepared the ground for our big coming-out.

But I realized that I missed Bellatrix there, her passion for the cause, her never-ceasing energy to fight, her refusal to ever give up.

Well, if tonight went according to the plan, we should have our imprisoned colleagues back soon enough.

Once we got to the prison in the middle of the North Sea, making a deal with the Dementors was laughably easy.

Then, while other Death Eaters fulfilled their appointed tasks, I went to the corner of the roof, where I knew Bellatrix's cell lay.

The others would be fine with being rescued by their brothers-in-arms, but I felt like Bellatrix deserved to see me after all these years, not just a person in a hood.

Or so I told myself.

Ever since I properly came back last June, I'd been thinking about me and her. Nothing big, just little sneaky thoughts, ideas, memories...feelings.

The result was that now, while I waved my wand in one swift motion to blow up the wall in front of me, I felt nervous. Or afraid? Or hopeful?

I honestly didn't know anymore.

All I knew was that I'd missed my Bella. Even though I'd never admit that to anyone.

(Maybe to her. One day.)

The stone exploded, leaving a gaping hole in its place. Quickly, I cast a shield spell around the area where I expected Bellatrix to be to avoid the unpleasant possibility of her getting impaled by the debris. As the air cleared, I landed on the cell floor and with a flick of my wand created just enough light to see into every corner of the room.

Slowly, Bellatrix stood up from the wall she was crouching at. Her hair was a mess, her cheeks were hollow and she overall looked much worse than I thought she would.

The results of Azkaban.

But when she lifted her head and looked at me, I saw the surprise, joy and happines in her chocolate brown eyes, the eyes that had stayed the same, no matter how much time had passed since I'd looked into them for the last time.

Clearing her throat, Bellatrix managed to speak: "I knew that you'd come back, my Lord. I'd never stopped believing!"

I felt a rush of pride, pride and perhaps even affection for her, for she'd just confirmed what I knew the whole time - that her faith in me never fluctuated, never grew weaker.

Also, it was strangely satisfying to hear the words my Lord from her. She always said with such delight, such passion, like it was a pleasure for her to be able to say it.

I smirked a little: "Of course I returned. I promised, didn't I?"

I offered her my hand and she took it without hesitation, a grin spreading on her face, lighting it up. Then she looked over herself, probably realizing for the first time in many years just how drastically her visage had changed. I merely smiled and pulled her closer, sliding an arm around her waist.

Her heartbeat quickened.

I smiled even more. Apparently, I could still make her melt with a simple touch.

"We'll apparate to the Malfoy Manor. Your sister will take care of you. Is that alright with you?"

The last question surprised even me. More so when I realized I really did care whether she was comfortable with it.

Bellatrix looked as surprised as I felt, but she quickly answered: "O-of course, my Lord. Anything."

I tilted my head slightly as I remembered something and pulled a wand from the inside of my robes.

Her wand.

Lucius Imperiused one of the workers at the Ministry storages to get it, along with the wands of the others.

No-one can say I don't take care of those loyal to me.

"I thought you'd like to have it back," I smiled once again at the joy in her eyes when she saw that piece of wood.

(Alright, I'll pull a muscle if I keep smiling this much.)

"Thank you, my Lord," she bowed a little. There was pure happiness in her expression, almost as if she was high on something.

Deciding she'd spent enough time in that filthy cell, I gently pulled her to the edge of the room. She looked around, mouth opened in surprise, taking in the outside world and the chaos around the prison. Then she looked at me and grinned again, weak, dirty, but still her, the passionate, ruthless, beautiful warrior.

(My beautiful warrior.)

I put my other arm around her waist and pulled her against me.

"Ready?" I asked and the corners of my lips twitched upon seeing her expression. She was staring at me, her eyes shining.

Once again, curiosity got the better of me and I quickly scanned her mind, correct in my assumption that her Occlumency shields were down.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of emotions I found.

Loyalty, excitement, happiness, determination...and feelings towards me. Curious what was really going on in her brain, I dived deeper into her thoughts.

She was thinking about my lips.

Alright. Surprising, but understandable.

But why on Earth was she wondering if they still tasted like chocolate?

That kiss had to affect her pretty hard if she remembered such a strange detail after fourteen years under the influence of the dementors.

Unable to resist, I leaned closer and whispered into her ear: "Maybe you'll get the chance to know some day."

Yes, I liked the kiss. And given the opportunity, I'd be very much interested in another one.

...what if I let Bellatrix do what she wanted?

(She's the only woman Nagini likes.)

What was there to lose?

(I know exactly where that question got me the last time it formed in my mind, thank you very much, nagging voice at the back of my brain.)

After all, if there ever was a woman worthy of my more focused attention, if was the one standing in my arms.

And I wasn't planning on letting her go anytime soon.