A footstep, a whisper. A creaky floorboard, and a breath let out too loud. Each of these could kill Severus Snape. He creaked lightly on his feet towards the closed door, taking a deep breath. The most skilled Occlumens in England was having trouble emptying his mind. His death had very nearly occurred, and all of it was the fault of Albus Dumbledore.
Reaching the door, Severus pushed open the door. There where mutterings around the table in the basement of number 12, Grimmauld Place. Albus Dumbledore sat at the head of the table, looking intently at Severus Snape over his half mooned spectacles. Snape’s expression steeled and he dropped a report on the table. It landed with a thud.
“I have successfully altered the file the Dark Lord was seeking. He arrived at the same time as my disapparation, and no pursuit was engaged.” Molly Weasley’s hand covered her mouth as she stared at the table, horrified. The woman was always worrying about the war. It was a war, and people were going to die. It was that simple. Severus Snape had almost died not half an hour ago…
“This will not do. This will not do at all.” Lord Voldemort stroked his faithful snake, Nagini, with his long, white fingers.
She sat on his left hand side, hands at her sides. The seat at The Dark Lord’s right was saved for Severus. Snape. He didn’t love the Dark like she did. He hadn’t done the things that she had. She was Bellatrix Lestrange, and she lived in darkness.
“My Lord?” She asked quietly, cautiously, but with an unmistakable hunger.
“The files, Bellatrix. The ones on Albus Dumbledore’s years as a professor. Severus should be along at any moment,” he added. Severus was his favorite. Severus had always been his favorite.
At that moment, the door to Lucius Malfoy’s dining room banged open and Severus Snape strolled in.
“Excuse the lateness, I’ve information,” Snape drawled, chin high, mind empty.
“Late?” hissed Bellatrix. “You’ve wasted the Dark Lord’s time, we could have been search-“ She was cut off with a look from Lord Voldemort.
“Sit, Severus,” he said, gesturing to the seat to his immediate right. Bellatrix’s eyes flashed steel at Snape. She should be there. She was the Dark Lord’s most loyal follower.
“My Lord,” Snape began, “The Order of the Phoenix is still attempting to spread the word of your resurrection.”
Bellatrix smoldered in her seat. She watched Snape, his eyes on the Dark Lord. The Dark Lord watched Snape with a hint of a smile. He was pleased. It was more than Bellatrix could take. She was his most loyal follower! It was she who had gone beyond the others to find him after he fell! It was she who served the darkness! It was her home, her confidant, her one true love. She looked at her husband. Rodolphus. How useless he had turned out to be. She could not afford love for another person- yet it was love that she felt. She had not heard, not felt the tug of the darkness for that first time Rodolphus held her.
All of that was gone now. He was her husband, yet he did nothing. He did not care for her. Had had not cared, not since Azkaban. He was empty, without happiness ever since the rise of the Dark Lord. Moving in silence, it did not suit Rodolphus. He became bored, upset with Bellatrix’s devotion. A glance from Rodolphus, her out of focus stare focused in on Voldemort.
“We must not be seen. We must capture our targets without fail. Bones must not suspect a thing. And we must NOT BE SEEN!” Voldemort’s voice rose to a yell. The Dark Lord was frustrated with recent failures. Bellatrix leaned forward. Her mouth almost watered at the chance for redemption.
“My lord, I would like to volunteer! I will take on this task! I will capture Madame Bones without being seen.” She could not keep the excitement from her voice. Lucius Malfoy leaned forward.
“My Lord, In light of recent events, it might be better if I were to take Madame Bones in.” There were cackles of laughter, snorts, grunts.
“Look, the peacock’s preenin’ ‘is feathers!” Called an oaf of a Death Eater. Bellatrix hadn’t bothered to learn his name.
“Silence.” It came in the form of a whisper. Lord Voldemort cooly surveyed his subjects from over the tips of his long, deathly white fingers. The snickers and jeers stopped. “Leave.” It was a command no one dared disobey. “Severus, a word?” Snape hung back at the door, and with a flick of Voldemort’s wand, the door slammed shut behind Bellatrix.
“Severus,” he began, surveying his subject majestically, “I need a job done right. You are the only one who can complete this task to perfection. I need, in essence, the famous “Madame” Bones on a platter. I, however, must be the one to kill him.” Severus looked blankly at the Dark Lord, and then replied,
“Yes, my Lord, I have no argument. However, mightn’t it seem more prudent for me to remain with the Order? I would be under heavy suspect were I absent at the time of her disappearance.” He saw the Dark Lord put his fingers up to his chin, contemplating.
“It would seem more prudent. Yes, Dumbledore would not support you in this case. Very well. Send Bellatrix in.” Snape turned briskly on his heel and stalked out of the room. The doors slammed shut behind him.
Bellatrix flew out of her chair in the sitting room. She had waited for Snape. She didn’t trust him.
“Well?” She whispered, “how will you betray the Dark Lord this time, Severus?”
Snape sneered at Bellatrix. “In, Bellatrix.”
She smiled mockingly at Snape. “Do try not to die on your way out.”
It was simple why she hated Severus. He was the Dark Lord’s favorite; a position that was rightfully hers. Wasn’t She his most faithful? His most devoted? Snape was-
Bellatrix calmed her mind as she saw the Dark Lord. She was not a fool, she knew that the Dark Lord was the world’s best Legilimens.
“Bellatrix.” It was a statement, not a question. Voldemort stared hard into her eyes. Calm her mind. That was all she had to do, calm her mind. The Dark Lord could not be privy to her inner thoughts. Bellatrix was many things, but she was not unintelligent. “Madame Bones must be in place by Tuesday next at nightfall. Failure is unacceptable.” He turned away. “You are dismissed.” Bellatrix flew out of the room almost bat-like.
Stalking out of Malfoy Manor, she turned on her heel. A loud crack, and she felt her body compressed into an airless tube. Far from being uncomfortable, she enjoyed the sensation. It was short, almost instant, but in that instance she still felt alive. There was a reason there was no light in apparition: power belonged to the dark. if one wanted poser, one had to live in darkness. Bellatrix chose her own path, and only one commanded her. The Dark was her only master.
When she landed in her own home, Rodolphus was not there. There was only darkness.