Written for miss skinny love.

Warning for torture.


"I am afraid you leave me with no choice, Mr. Potter."

Harry knew more was coming from Umbridge's hated mouth, but he understood none of it. The pain suddenly manifesting itself in his body was enough to cancel any thought of deciphering her speech.

"Crucio," Harry saw the lips move again, followed by a red light identical to the first. Then came the pain, just as strong if not more so the second time around. When at last Harry was able to push himself into a seated position, what he saw nearly made him sick.

Umbridge had said she had no choice in the matter, and Harry had strongly doubted that was true, but he never expected the twisted smile she made no attempt to conceal. This was not the one she had had plastered to her face as she watched Harry carve letters into his own hand. If at all possible, she seemed more sinister than ever.

The prolonged silence that had fallen was cracked by another Cruciatus Curse and, though he tried to fight it, more agonized screaming from Harry.

Whether Harry would be tortured to death, or to a fate much worse, he never found out. The door to Umbridge's office banged open, and there stood Snape, looking positively livid.

"What is the meaning of this, Dolores?" he demanded, spitting out each word as though it tasted terrible.

"I merely sought to teach Mr. Potter here the consequences of his actions," replied Umbridge.

"And I," said Snape, his expression never losing as much as a drop of malice "merely sought to inform you of your illegal behavior."

"Illegal? I prefer the term discipline, Severus."

"As you seem sadly misinformed, we are living in a time in which discipline does not encompass such deeds as the Cruciatus Curse, which is correctly termed illegal, and for good reason."

Umbridge gobbled with anger at this, trying furiously to come up with a decent response. While she tried and failed, Harry managed to pull himself to his feet with a bit of help from a nearby pink table. He began to draw his wand, but was hindered by Snape.

"No wands needed, Potter," he said, almost lazily. "You need the hospital wing. Go. Now."

Why Snape was helping him, Harry neither knew nor cared at the moment. His only concern was getting to a bed and being able to lie down. After all, feeling the searing pain of white-hot knives was an exhausting experience, and did not need a mystery piled on top of it.


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