Bella starts screaming in her sleep. You try to wake her up but it looks as if she’s trapped in the nightmare.
The bedroom’s door cracks open and a scared Delphi walks in holding her stuffed snakes tight. “Mama?” Her tired eyes grow wide and fill with tears as Bella screams once again “Dada!? Is mama…why is…is mama hurt? Is she gonna die?”
Voldemort did not notice Delphini at first, too busy casting an enchantment of dreamless sleep on Bella. If she could not be woken, it was the best thing to do. And truly - she had not slept well recently, so perhaps waking her would be unfavorable, even if he could.
She falls still and curls into a pillow, her mind now refreshingly blank, and it is only then in the silence Voldemort hears the child in the doorway.
"Ah, Delphini," he mutters, coming to the doorway to greet her. "We must be very quiet, as your mother is sleeping again. She had a nightmare, much like the one you had the other week, with the dragon trying to eat you, do you remember how you were quite upset?"
"Was Mama dreaming about dragons?" Delphi asked, eyes wide, trying to peak past her father to get a glimpse of her mother.
"N- Yes," he corrected himself, stepping aside to show Delphi that her mother was in the bed, the rise and fall of the blankets proving she was alive and well.
"But she told me they weren't scary," Delphi protested, seeing through the lie- and Voldemort hesitated. Delphi was clever, precocious, but she was only five - too young to learn the entire truth, about Azkaban and dementors and the slow chipping away at one's mind. "She said they never scared her," Delphi repeated, frowning. "Was she lying?"
"No, no, your mother was not lying," Voldemort said quickly. "I was. You see, you are very small, and-"
"I wanna know!"
"Shhh, your mother is sleeping," Voldemort murmured, taking the child's hand. Come to my study, we can sit by the fire."
"Before you were born," Voldemort said, sitting the girl on his lap in his favorite armchair - the one big enough to accommodate Bella, himself, and the child if need be - we fought a glorious war. But you know that, right?"
"Your mother fought in that war - and she also fought in another war, before that one. You will learn of it in your lessons as the First War."
"Yes. We lost the first one, your mother and I."
"But..." Delphi's brow furrowed. "You can't lose."
Voldemort smiled. "Ah, now, we cannot lose. But we...everyone makes mistakes, Delphini. Everyone must learn. Your mother and I - we are the greatest to ever live, but it took time to get there." He sighed, noting how the girl hung on to his every word. "Losing a war, fighting in a war, it is difficult, Delphini."
"What happens when you lose?" Delphi asked, eyes wide. "Do you die?"
Voldemort laughed at the innocence of the question, stroking the girls hair. "Not I, no," he assured her. "I cannot die. Sometimes the loser does die, however. I just had to...hide." Just had to hide. he swallowed back the grimace as he recalled his time in exile. "Your mother also spent time away, away from me, away from Aunt Cissa and Uncle Lucius, away from cousin Draco. Sometimes it makes her sad."
"But she's back now," Delphi said, frowning. "She's ok now, right? She doesn't have to go away anymore."
"No, no she does not," Voldemort assured Delphi, nodding. "But sometimes the dreams tell her she has to go away, and - much like you and the dragon - she cannot tell they are not real."
"Oh," Delphi said stoically, nodding. "You said I wouldn't dream about dragons when I was bigger."
"And you likely will not. But when you are an adult...your dragons are still there, they just... look different." He sighed, pressing an affectionate kiss the the child's forehead. "How about I read aloud to you now until you fall asleep. Would you like that?"
"Yes Father," Delphi murmured, curling against him.
Been playing around with some color palettes: no sketch, one layer, just paint. I asked friends for characters/ships + a palette from this post + a prompt/ref image. Cody and Rex here. Not tagging this as a ship because it can be interpreted however.
Reminder: I don’t interact on Tumblr, so if you want me to see anything, please comment on AO3