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Deslea R. Judd
Word Count: 1100
Summary: On October 31, 1981, the Dark Lord finally allows Bella to take the Mark.
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The Crypt of All Hallows is neither a crypt nor hallowed.
There is no body buried within its grounds, and it has never been used for worship. He of all people knows the power of the ancients and the dead, and he was careful to create a place with the shadows of neither.
It has seen many rituals, but only his own. He has bound people to him here, again and again. He has welcomed the next generation of followers, and Handfasted them, too. He has allowed funerals here, but not burials. There will never be a burial at All Hallows.
There is an altar, of course. He understands well the sensibilities of his people. They like modern philosophies wrapped in ancient cloth. So there is ancient stone, and ironwork, and an altar. Ivy grows around it and over it. It is a place of theatre. Neither more nor less.
It is not, however, a place of theatre tonight. Tonight it is only him and her.
Bella kneels, head bowed on the altar. The circular window admits moonlight behind her, drenching her from behind. The gleam of her eyes is absent. They are closed.
She wears the customary simple black shift, nothing else. Her breasts fall heavily, unfettered by corsets and underthings. Her thighs are apart, and he can see the faint outline of her sex. The thin ropes that wrap her body press into the creases of her thighs and hold her open and ready.
He has become accustomed to her body in the way of longtime lovers, and such sights no longer awaken his interest very far on their own. But the way she holds herself, supplicant, yet unselfconscious, as though her supplication were unremarkable - that brings his arousal roaring to life. She is his as nothing has ever been his, and that awakens all sorts of places inside him. Has done for ten years now, more and more by the day.
This ritual is different to the others, of course - that was a given - and he himself is not entirely sure how he will do it. Taking her was always a possibility, and now, his body pounding, he knows that he will. But otherwise, there is no plan. He doesn't need one. Not with her.
He drops one hand into her hair, and teases it. She lets out a single sigh of slow, creeping pleasure, then falls silent. Eyes still closed. Letting him do as he will.
He lets his hands drift over her. Exploring her idly. More idly than he permits himself day-to-day. He slides fingers up beneath the ropes that encircle her torso; they are symbolic only, sign of her chosen bondage to him, and they are snug but not tight. Loose enough to allow him access. Her arms are free, and she slides her hand over his, held close by her bonds. He is oddly reminded of the tying of hands in marriage.
It is a kind of marriage, he supposes, though not one to which he was inclined. He still isn't.
Gently, he withdraws his hand and takes hers, turning it, exposing her wrist, pale and unmarked. She opens dark, gleaming eyes and fixes them on him solemnly.
"You're sure?" he murmurs. He has never before asked if anyone was sure, and the words feel foreign on his lips. "The prophecy, Bella. I will prevail, but first there may be a…a defeat. It may be safer to…to deny."
"I will never deny you," she says in a low voice, and now, when the prospect of it is real, he believes her. "Do not deny me the comfort of the part of you that you share with the lowest of your followers."
"I care nothing for the lowest of my followers," he rasps. "You are already my highest, my most faithful. Every one of them knows it. You don't need my mark to prove it."
"I need it," she whispers. "I need it for me. Don't you understand? I'll never be your wife, or have your child, or grow old with you, and I've never complained about any of it. But give me this. Please." She slides her free arm around him. Leans up to kiss him, salt and tears on her lips. "Please."
"Morsmordre," he mutters as he descends on her mouth. Strokes his thumb over her wrist. Writes his seal on her as a caress. He has never given it like this before, with gentleness, and he feels the warmth of it beneath his fingers. Feels the arch of her back as it rushes through her. She whimpers into his mouth, drinking him greedily.
"Now," she whispers, "Gods. Please-" and she doesn't have to say more than that; her breasts are straining against him and he's ready too. More ready than he's ever been. He shivers and leans her back, leaning onto her, parting her and joining her.
"Morsmordre," he says again, and she chokes out his name as that same warmth spreads out within her, enveloping them both. Comes hard, pressed between him at her breast and stone altar at her back, all shudders rippling deep inside her and deep, hungry kisses. Comes again and again, her kisses relentless. She doesn't let him go, and he doesn't want her to. Not ever. Not even to do what he must, protect them both against their newborn enemy with as-yet unknown power.
When they're done, he rests inside her for a long, long time.
"I have to go," he murmurs finally. "I have to."
She closes her eyes. Nods against him. "I know."
He runs his hand over her belly. Strokes down, over her damp, trembling thighs, stilling them. Wordlessly, he casts a warming and cushioning charm. "Stay here and rest til morning. Promise me."
"I promise," she murmurs without question. Already half-asleep. She may wake in the night, and put it together, but she will keep her promise, just the same.
As he passes out of the crypt, he pauses at the threshold. Glances over his shoulder at her sleeping form. Surreptitiously, he passes his fingers over the stone wall.
The stone drinks it in hungrily, him and her together. Ancient, barren stone with arteries of obsidian, laid on ancient, lifeless earth.
He knew that it would.
He watches as the tiny, intricate fractures of obsidian glow. Just for a moment. It is another marking, this. Setting their seal together on virgin ground.
"Protego Totalum," he whispers.
As their seal forms a shield around her sleeping form, he thinks that the Crypt is hallowed ground now, after all.
Obsidian is a mineral considered in Celtic lore to have protective properties, which is particularly potent on Samhain (31 October). It also has associations with the inner mysteries of the Goddess, and with the womb, and with being grounded on earth. Sexual fluids were sometimes used in ancient faiths to anoint and enhance protective talismans. There's an implication in my own mind that Voldemort's efforts to protect Bella here, also assisted in his own survival by strengthening his anchor to life, the world, and his Horcruxes.