A/N: Sorry about the long wait on all my WIPs, everyone. I've begun a new job and it's kicking my ass time-wise both in the amount of hours worked each week, and inability to do my writing AT work (which I did at the old place), and the hours are gharish. I went from a job where I slept late and worked evenings/nights, to early morning starts and I'm a night owl, so these days I'm usually too zonked in the evenings to do more than stuff my face with some dinner and maybe stare at the TV long enough to turn off the work-stress before crawling back into be. *sobs*.
Bend or Break
Thorfinn Rowle came awake with a ragged hiss when someone set him on fire. At least, it felt like they'd set him on fire. His whole body blazed with agony and he was fairly certain that someone might've removed his eyes because he knew he was awake, but he couldn't seem to open his eyes or see anything.
"He's waking up, Hermione," a familiar voice murmured, sounding tense.
Thorfinn tried to blink, hissing when it felt like someone had just yanked every single eyelash out and he realised with a foul oath that no one had taken his eyes, they'd just fucked him up badly enough that his eyelids had been crusted shut with dried blood.
"Pray he keeps his mouth shut so I don't have to suffocate him, Bjarke," an increasingly familiar and extremely hostile female voice replied while Thorfinn flexed against his bindings, wanting to rub the pain and the dried blood from his eyes.
"Bjarke?" he asked raggedly, realising as his voice came out rough that he was parched and that he felt dizzy.
"It's me, Finn," his little brother's voice was quiet and close to him. Thorfinn craned his neck, trying to spot the kid and he snarled out more oaths when the movement screamed through his muscles and caused a sharp sting.
"If you could refrain from tearing your scabs and bleeding out long enough for me to keep you from death's door, Superstar, that would be great," Granger's voice was sharp and sarcastic.
"Bitch, you better pray I never get out of these ties," Thorfinn retorted in a cold voice, eyeing her hatefully when she came into view. She gripped her wand surely, her eyes assessing the damage to his body and his face, not even bothering to meet his gaze. Fucking snobby bitch.
He narrowed his eyes when he noticed that she bore no sign of having had her nose broken, despite the head-butt, and he wondered how long he'd been unconscious. Actually, now that he thought about it, the little bitch looked like she'd showered and maybe even like she'd been recently fucked. Thorfinn didn't know what to make of the idea that she'd been off fucking someone after all she'd seen inside his head. He didn't know what to make of the flare of fury he felt, either.
"Must you two fight?" Bjarke's voice came again, and Thorfinn realised he hadn't imagined the boy's presence when he little brother moved into his line of sight while Granger used her wand to knit some of Thorfinn's wounds back together.
"Were you expecting something else, Rowle?" Granger asked, slanting a sceptical glance at Bjarke even as she continued working on healing his wounds.
"I was expecting a little decent bedside manner," Bjarke retorted. "He's fucking dying, Hermione."
"He deserves it," Granger replied.
"Then why are you healing me, Princess?" Thorfinn demanded through gritted teeth as the itching of rapidly healing wounds became unbearable. "I mean, you got everything you wanted right out of my head. I'm no longer of use to the Order. Thought you'd have been the first person to let me die."
"Believe me, Rowle, I would happily let you rot in this room as these wounds grow infected and you're slowly poisoned from the inside out. Unfortunately, since this is Bjarke's place and the Order need it, we have to meet his demands. And even more unfortunately, your brother has yet to realise that you're an irredeemable wretch. Until then you're at the mercy of his whim as much as we are."
"Got 'em by the bollocks, eh Bjarke?" Thorfinn smirked at his little brother before frowning. "Wait... you're working with the Order? Giving them sanctuary in our house? This doesn't look like the Tower."
"It's not the Tower," Bjarke shrugged, offering no further explanation of why he was working with the Order.
Thorfinn was in too much pain to interrogate him about it, but he was definitely disappointed. His little brother had never been cut out for the life of a Death Eater, and before reaching his majority Bjarke had done what he could to avoid the house whenever Thorfinn had his budding Death Eaters pals over, but he'd never dreamed the kid would turn to the Order.
"So you picked the losing side, eh kid?" he asked when Granger disappeared, moving back out of his line of sight, intent on healing his wounds to keep Bjarke happy. Thorfinn wondered if it was the lad who she'd been fucking. He didn't like the flare of what felt suspiciously like jealousy when he tipped his head to meet his brother's gaze. He loathed the bitch and he didn't give a fuck what she did in her free time!
"No," Bjarke said, eyeing him coolly. "You did that, Finn. I picked the side that will win, in the end. And maybe, if you're lucky, I'll be able to talk them into holding you captive long enough to prevent you from committing any more crimes so that one day, when this war is finally done, you won't have to rot in prison for the rest of your life."
"He'll do that regardless of us ever letting him go back to the Death Eaters, Bjarke," Granger spoke from behind him healing something on the back of his shoulder. "Don't delude yourself into thinking that when the war ends, he'll walk free. His a criminal. He's a murderer. And he bears the Dark Mark. He'll be locked up for life alongside every other surviving Death Eater when this is all over."
"You don't know that," Bjarke argued with her.
"I do, actually," Granger replied haughtily. "Because I plan to be one of the ones testifying against him and calling for his conviction."
"Bitch," Thorfinn snarled.
"Why?" Bjarke frowned, and Thorfinn narrowed his eyes at the way the kid looked genuinely hurt by the notion that she would do such a thing.
"Did you miss the part where I mentioned he tried to kill me when I was twelve just because I tattled on him?" Granger demanded, coming back into view with her hands on her hips, looking annoyed. "Excuse me if I take issue with attempted child killers."
"People change, Hermione," Bjarke pointed out.
"Oh, yes," Granger's sneer could rival that of Snape. "Yes, he's changed so much since then. Now he's a successful murderer and plays for the team attempting to wipe people like me off the face of the Earth. Such a step-up in the world of morality."
"You've been in my head, bitch," Thorfinn interrupted. "You know that most of my kills were borne of self-defence or done under duress."
"He says, as though the duress isn't of his own making," Granger scowled. "You don't get to play the duress card, Rowle. You chose to become a Death Eater and take the Dark Mark. You chose to work with Voldemort. You don't get to bitch that you only kill people when Voldemort is breathing down your neck about it. You chose to work for him. More to the point, if the choice comes down to killing someone just for orders, or dying yourself, the decent people of the world choose to sacrifice themselves."
"Yeah, because if I sacrifice myself there won't be five guys behind me willing to do the job and earn the praise for it," Thorfinn bit out. "That makes sense. Sacrifice myself to save someone who's just going to die in the next couple of minutes by someone else's wand, just the same. Gee, can't figure out why I haven't thrown myself on that sword."
"If you had any form of morality or decency, Rowle, you'd turn on your brethren for the good of the innocent. And don't you dare argue that you're among the innocent if you refuse to do the killing, too. Impotent bystanders who watch bad things take place without lifting a finger to help are often just as bad as the offenders, themselves. All those moments in your head where you stood by and did nothing to save the victims of your brethren make you despicable, Thorfinn Rowle. They make you pathetic and weak and an utter wretch, because if you haven't got the stones to commit the crime and you haven't got the guts to fight back against the criminals then you're nothing more than a waste of space and you'd be doing the world a favour to sacrifice yourself for something, no matter how ineffective it might prove!"
Thorfinn blinked when the little shrew ended her tirade with a stinging slap to his cheek - making his already pounding head throb terribly - before she spun on her heels and stomped right back out of the room, leaving Thorfinn alone with his kid brother and his pain.
"Fucking bitch," Thorfinn growled. "I swear, the minute I'm freed of theses chains I'll wring the life from her with my bare bloody hands."
"No, you won't," Bjarke told him sternly, crossing his arms over his chest and looking more than a little intimidating. Or he would, to anyone not Thorfinn's size. The kid had grown since Thorfinn had last seen him.
"You're really working with these bastards?" he asked of his brother quietly, shaking his head to try and clear some of the dizziness.
"Yes," Bjarke said. "And I'll keep working them and holding your= prisoner until the war is over, so don't bother asking me to set your free."
"Whipped for a little mudblood pussy, are you?" Thorfinn asked and he cursed foully when Bjarke clocked him one across the mouth.
"Don't call her a mudblood, Thorfinn," Bjarke snarled, his eyes glittering with fury. "She might have muggle parents, but I think we both know she's more witch than just about anyone we've ever met."
"I had her pinned for a hag, actually," Thorfinn retorted.
"You're a fucking liar," Bjarke accused. "You want to fuck her as badly as I do. And everyone knows it. They bathed her in Amortentia spiked perfume before sending her hunting for a Death Eater to interrogate. Everyone else smelled their favourite scents coming off of her, but you, big brother, listed all the ones she smells like any old day."
"Bullshit," Thorfinn denied.
Bjarke rolled his eyes, obviously not believing him. They glared at one another and Thorfinn wondered how it had come to this. He'd practically raised the kid after their parents were killed and yet the ungrateful little shit was eyeballing him like a mutt as likely to bite him as any mangy cur.
"Let me out of here, little brother," Thorfinn demanded, his voice low and threatening, his eyes hard.
"Damn it, Bjarke! Do you know what will happen if they try to keep me here?" Thorfinn demanded. "Either the Dark Lord will peg me for a traitor, hunt me down and murder everyone in between him and me before killing me himself; or he'll just show up here with the rest of his Death Eaters and lay waist to this house and everyone in it to set me free."
"You and I both know that you don't mean that much to him, Finn," Bjarke replied coldly and Thorfinn felt a bit like he'd been punched in the gut. "You're just a dumb grunt to him. Bit of a fuck up, too, from what I hear. He'd be glad to be rid of you. And he won't find this place even if he bumps right into it."
"I've got a Dark Mark, stupid," Thorfinn growled at him twitching his aching left arm like he might show the boy his mark if not for the bonds holding him prisoner. "No warding or anything else will keep him from finding me. He can track the lot of us through the mark, and he'll search for me."
"You say that like we're unaware of their uses and aren't already devising the best way to remove it from your flesh," Bjarke said, tipping his head to one side and looking intrigued. "Is the flesh there so deadened that you can't feel the large scrap of skin missing where the mark should be? Lupin used his claws to pry it from you skin, big brother."
"It's not just a tattoo, you fool," Thorfinn snarled, his blood running cold at the idea of having been viciously maimed. The Dark Lord would assume he'd done it himself, trying to defect, Thorfinn was sure of it.
"We know that. And with clever little things like Granger on our side, I think you'll find that you'll be spending a good deal more time in her presence while she treats you like an experiment, trying any number of things to remove, kill, or block the link to Voldemort."
Thorfinn hissed at his brother for using the name.
"And you're going to let her?" Thorfinn challenged. "What the matter, Baby Bear? You care so much for the little bitch that you'll let her torture me without lifting a finger."
"Refusing to lift a finger while bad things happen must be a family trait," Bjarke sneered in retort, and Thorfinn cursed.
"You're a fucking fool, Bjarke. The Dark Lord will not grant you leniency just because you're related to me. He'll just punish the pair of us all the more to know you've turned traitor to your own flesh and blood. You'll pay for this, I swear it."
"Maybe I will," Bjarke shrugged his shoulders. "But you tell me the worse price. Watching the last member of my family throw his life away and rot forever, or a swift end for the pair of us? What would you choose?"
Thorfinn cursed a blue streak at the boy, loathing that he'd grown a conscience or grown some morals when Thorfinn hadn't been looking.
"Yeah," Bjarke grunted when Thorfinn offered nothing but insults. "That's what I thought. Get comfortable, Finn. From here on out you're the prisoner of the Order of the Phoenix and I'm not going to do more than insist they keep you alive. You won't be here long, either. Moody rather like the idea of turning you into a whipped dog attached to a single master and willing to turn your back on your Dark Lord for pitiful scraps of interaction. I don't imagine there'll be much chance that they'll let us see each other again in future, but you should know that everything I'm doing is for your own good."
When Bjarke turned his back and walked out of the room, Thorfinn was furious enough that he spewed wandless fire from his mouth in the boy's wake.
"You're no brother of mine, Bjarke!" he snarled after the boy just before the door could swing closed and Bjarke stopped, his back still turned.
"Actually Finn, I'm the last hope you've got," he retorted quietly before pulling the door closed behind him. Thorfinn cursed all the more that the little shit didn't even have the gall to slam it like a moody teenager. It clicked closed softly, letting Thorfinn know that not only had his words not hurt or angered the boy, the kid was clearly more mature than Thorfinn himself.
Left alone once more, and now painfully aware of the raw, throbbing ache in his left forearm in addition to the pounding in his head, Thorfinn wondered just how he was going to get out of this mess.