“There’ll be snow tomorrow,” he says, once he’s ready to make his presence known. He steps into the room, shrugging off his heavy winter robe and hanging it over the back of a nearby chair.
“How are your dear parents?” she asks, rolling her head so that she’s staring at him instead of out the window.
“Obnoxious as always. Father is irritated that you didn’t accompany me, of course, and Mother inquired about grandchildren.” He listens to her laugh as he unlaces his boots. He loves to hear her laugh, especially when it’s the softly amused lilt that she rarely lets anyone else hear. “Rabastan is asking questions about our lord’s vision for the future, and I think Father was close to hexing him for trying to analyze bloodlines at supper.”
“Your brother needs guidance before he starts walking down a path he won’t be able to return from,” she muses, still smiling at him. “What did your mother say when you informed her that we have no intention of breeding a herd of children for her to dote upon?”
“She refuses to listen, just like always.” Rodolphus has his boots off, and he finally tugs his leather gloves from his hands. The stone floor is cold beneath his feet, his socks not doing well keeping him warm. Fortunately, he doesn’t mind the cold, either. “I’ll take care of Rabastan. He’s still young, so he doesn’t see the world the way it truly is yet.”
“He isn’t that young anymore, Rodolphus.” Bellatrix moves her gaze over him. “Your father needs a reminder that he isn’t as powerful as he imagines. Neither of us are obligated to make ourselves available to him just because he demands it. We have a higher calling than wasting time at tedious dinners.”
Rodolphus shrugs his shirt off and uses his toes remove his damp socks. Wearing only his trousers, he moves behind her on the window bench, letting her settle against his chest instead of the wall. “My parents are harmless. I told them you were ill, and we had a lovely roast with potatoes. I only attended because of my brother.”
“Your loyalty to him is admirable, husband, but you know that our lord requires us to place him above all else. He is displeased that you couldn’t join me this evening to enjoy his conversation,” Bellatrix says, her teacup on the table and her fingers lightly tracing the recent mark that’s been burned into his skin. “I promised him that you were simply recruiting another to his cause.”
“I will ensure that our lord has no reason to doubt my allegiance to him,” Rodolphus promises. He knows that it is his parents’ refusal to join the gathering force that they are now part of has caused friction between them and his wife, so it isn’t a surprise that she feels a need to force him to prove his devotion to their lord.
“See that you do, husband.” Bellatrix brushes her lips against his mark. “Do you really expect snow?”
“The clouds seem to indicate it. There’s also a slight whisper of winter coming in the air.” Rodolphus looks out the window at the sky. “It’s too early for snow, but I suspect it’s coming anyway.”
Bellatrix laughs. “You and your whispers. Do they tell you anything else?”
“They tell me many things, Bellatrix,” he murmurs, stroking her arm and tracing the mark there that matches his own. She laughs again, the sound delightful and real, the way it always is when he mentions things he knows amuse her. He never brings it up seriously, knowing her disbelief in divination, and he doesn’t necessarily put much faith in it, either. “Snow tomorrow, and a cold winter this year.”
“That’s good news then.” Bellatrix tilts her head so she can kiss his chin. “You can keep me warm, Rodolphus,” she tells him, resting her cheek against his chest as she traces the cold glass with her fingers.
He kisses the top of her head before looking out the window at the dark sky. “I always will, darling.”