Being Brave

"Hug my pillow and try not to count the days. Get your face out of my brain. I don't believe in being brave."

Meanswear


Pengelly stood over the red haired figure as he violently shook on the floor. He was curled up into the foetal position and hadn't been able to speak since the fourth or fifth time the Death Eater had tortured him with the cruciatus curse in the last half hour. It had amused Pengelly when he realised it. Rhodes had hissed and stormed out, claiming that the Weasley mongrel was no good to them speechless, but Pengelly knew there was another one in the cell to work on who was fully functional...for the time being.

He had been tormenting the shuddering young man in between curses; it was almost as much fun as that time when he was a child and had starved his pregnant pet rat so she was so hungry when she gave birth she ate her newborn babies. He liked to see what he could make people do out of necessity. This one for example, he was useless to them now, gone completely mad and unable to even beg him to stop, but he knew that when his brother saw him then he'd get anything he wanted to end his suffering.

The door groaned and the other Weasley scum was hauled into the 'compliance' room. His eyes wide with the horror of seeing his brother reduced to the terrified heap Pengelly currently held at wand point.

The death eater sneered,

"I could stop you know?"

"Leave him alone" the sickened voice growled.

"All he has to do is ask," Pengelly said with mirth as he bent over the quivering form at his feet, "I've been telling him that for ages but he's just enjoying himself so much."

"He's had enough," the frantic young man's sibling said through gritted teeth as he tried to pull away from Rhodes and assault Pengelly, "you can't get anything out of him, start on me now."

Rhodes kicked the struggling Weasley in the back of the knee and his legs crumpled beneath him. Pengelly knew his stroke of genius was about to pay off and turned his, now victorious gaze on the hopeless wizard before him.

"All you have to do is say stop Weasley, I'll only stop on your say so...Crucio!"

The compliance room was filled with the agonised screams of both brothers, one screaming in physical pain and the other with the horror and outrage at what he was being forced to watch. The curse went on, held by the most hated and feared Death Eater in twenty-five years, as he shouted over the screams with triumph in his voice.

"I can't hear you..." he taunted with amusement.

Rhodes was having a very hard time holding on to the livid redhead as he fought to get to his brother and throw himself in front of the curse; if for nothing else, Pengelly assumed, than to give his brother a few seconds of respite from the agony.

"Just kill him...just kill him!" Rhodes had finally managed to subdue the burst of energy from the bold young man as he fell to his knees and began to weep, begging Pengelly to stop the torture, "Just let him die, please, he can't take anymore."

Ah this was what he dreamed of, moments like this one, one brother begging him to murder the other one and meaning every word of it.

"I've made my position perfectly clear William," Pengelly said as if the oldest Weasley boy was being a little unreasonable, "I'm only willing to listen to his instructions, not yours."

"You bastard, you sick bastard, I'm going to fucking kill you!"

"Well you've killed all the rest of them haven't you?" Pengelly said, swelling at the masterful game he was playing.

Rhodes snorted at this and kicked Bill Weasley in the ribs, causing an abrupt halt to the man's renewed struggles to get to his brother.

"After this one there's only the sister left am I right?"

"She doesn't know anything, don't..." Bill wheezed.

"She doesn't need to know anything you fool! You know everything, and you've watched me torture and kill four of your brothers already and you haven't said a word, most commendable I have to say, a man after my own heart."

Pengelly turned back to the writhing wizard he was still, somewhat absent-mindedly, torturing and he had one last twist of the knife to deal him.

"Crucio maxima!"

Pengelly had never felt so alive as he watched the new wave of agony course through the youngest of the Weasley boys, the last one he had managed to capture, and the last one he had managed to break. Bill Weasley's screams were music to his ears; they sounded almost as pained as the object of his hate-filled incantation.

"Please, lift the curse, I'll tell you anything, just stop it please," Bill begged, his vocal chords sounding roar, "I'll kill him myself and I'll tell you whatever you want to know just stop the pain please."

Pengelly didn't lower his wand but he did turn his full attention to the sobbing wizard as an elated-looking Rhodes restrained him.

"I will hold this curse on him until his life runs its course," Pengelly said with a cold, calm detachment, "I won't kill him and you won't kill him. I will hold him here until he drops or until he asks me to end it himself."

Bill Weasley's eyes seemed to flood so rapidly that he wasn't able to focus; a guttural sob emerged from deep within his body and his head dropped. Pengelly knew then he had won. He wouldn't even have to so much as slap the Weasley girl around the face and this wreck would give in. After four previous attempts to break William Weasley he had finally got it right. Killing them wasn't the way, refusing to let them die was the way. This young man would only have to see his sister in Pengellys presence and it would be over. He had won. He had broken the will of the most stubbornly loyal family in the Order of the Phoenix. The Dark Lord was going to elevate him to the status of a son when he heard about this momentous victory.

There was no other will in the magical world that could match his own.

"St...st...st..."

Pengelly turned back to the body on the floor at his feet and found himself utterly speechless, the curse still held and was still strong, and yet the Weasley boy wasn't writing anymore.

"Ron?" Bill's voice cut through the disbelief as the violently trembling figure continued to take the curse and fight through the agony.

Rhodes almost released Bill with the shock of seeing the eighteen year old, his knuckles white from his clenched fists, trying to speak.

"Tell him Ron!" Bill yelled with the last thing Pengelly wanted to hear from the man he had just worked so hard in breaking, he had hope, "You can do it!"

Pengelly held his vibrating wand with a firmer grip and took a step closer, as if trying to concentrate the powerful curse upon Ron Weasley's brain.

"St...st...st..." Ron stammered, his face contorted with the struggle and the pain, "...st...sto...sto..."

"He said it," Bill bellowed, "he said stop, stop it now!"

"No he didn't" hissed Pengelly.

Blood was now dripping from the boy's nose, his ears, seeping out of his tear ducts, and still he kept on stammering.

"...sto...sto..." his back arched and he let out something of a combination between a gurgle and a cough and a spattering of blood escaped his throat and hit the stone floor.

"Lift the curse you fucking animal!" Bill roared, "Lift the curse or I won't tell you anything."

Pengelly was transfixed, however, by this miracle. Nobody was able to speak after half an hour of torture under an ordinary cruciatus curse but this was no ordinary curse, this was Pengelly's special extra strength version, and the boy was almost able to form a word. He held his wand steady and stared as the continual stammering produced more droplets of blood from the Weasley boy's mouth, the internal bleeding alone should have made speech impossible. He should be dead before it came to this.

Why wasn't he dead? Why was he still trying to speak?

"Sto...sto...sto...stop!"

Bill almost threw Rhodes off of his shoulders as if he was nothing more than a winter coat on hearing this.

"He said it! He said it! He told you to stop; you said you would follow his instructions. He told you to stop!"

Pengelly turned his head to Bill, he knew he would never get information from him now, not after this, so all he had left was to do his very best to retain the power in their struggle.

"I didn't hear anything," he said with an icy tone that sounded so distant he wondered if he had even spoken aloud.

Bill collapsed under the weight of Rhodes and yelled his hopeless outrage at the floor beneath him before focusing his bloodshot eyes upon his slowly dying little brother as he coughed up more blood. Pengelly saw that the boy had turned his head to look at his devastated older brother before coughing one final time.

"St...stay...st...st...st...strong."

With that the curse dissipated as the dead body of Ronald Weasley slumped to the ground.

Bill's screams weren't his own, the horrific scene inside Pengelly's compliance room faded into black and all Hermione could hear were her own screams of pain and grief as she gripped the pillow tightly to her face and wailed into it.

"Hermione it's ok, it's fine, we're all here and we're all still alright" she heard him but she couldn't bear to look at him.

"They...he...that evil wretch killed you again!"

"No he didn't, look I'm right here, please look at me Hermione" he begged.

Her face was still buried deep within her pillow as she tried to muffle the fact that she wasn't able to talk, only scream and yell.

"It took so long this time, he made it last so long..."

Her ribs felt as if they were going to burst open with all the pressure of her sobs.

"It was a bad one wasn't it?" she heard Harry's wary voice somewhere in the room.

"Oh do you really think so?" Ron's voice snapped, the concern outweighing the sarcasm.

Something about hearing him like that, his hot-tempered sharp-tongued outburst, made her feel a little safer now. She knew he wasn't really dead. She knew it was a hallucination brought on by the gas the Death Eaters had used to knock her out to make their escape and she knew it was finally wearing off. The worst was over. She turned her head and peered at the back of Ron's head as he stared at Harry. Harry saw that she wasn't hiding from them anymore and nodded to Ron to let him know.

"Hey it's fine see?" Ron smiled at her as he spoke soothingly and stroked her arm, "I bet that was the last one, I bet it's all out of your system now."

"You did really well Hermione" Harry nodded as he approached her bedside to crouch alongside Ron.

She sniffed,

"Is it really over?"

Ron nodded and smiled at her with confidence,

"No more hallucinations I promise."

She forced her eyes closed at the sight of him smiling down at her, trying to make her feel better and let out another anguished sob.

"Come on, Ron's right, it's all over with now. No more visions of us dying I swear" Harry's comforting voice sighed.

"You took so long to die," she whimpered into her pillow.

"I didn't, it didn't happen Hermione, I was right here the whole time." Ron said as she felt a hand rubbing up and down her back.

"I was causing you so much pain," her voice became almost an inaudible squeak as she forced herself to recall exactly who's point of view she had been experiencing this horrible hallucination from, "it was me, I was Pengelly."

"No you weren't" Ron said soothingly.

"Not any more than I was that snake that attacked Mr Weasley" Harry said firmly.

She forced herself to look at Ron again and her eyes welled up with fresh tears as she did.

"It was so awful though, Bill was there and he was begging Pengelly to kill you to put you out of your misery..."

"Stop!" Ron said firmly.

Hermione shuddered and froze; her eyes wide as she found herself taken right back into the compliance room for a fraction of a second.

"It didn't happen so you don't have to think about it. Just stop it Hermione, I mean it" Ron demanded.

"Say that again" she whispered.

"What?" Ron frowned.

"Stop, say stop again."

Ron glanced at Harry before resting the back of his hand on her forehead with concern.

"Hermione are you...?"

"Say it!" she ordered.

"Stop!" Ron said, looking very confused.

She exhaled some of the tension from her body and sighed.

"Say it again."

"Stop" Ron said once more, still not really understanding what this was about but realising that it was helping her to shake off the reality of her hallucination.

She sighed deeply and released the last of her fear, he really was ok, it really had just been an awful hallucination brought on by that horrible Lysergic gas. She sat up in her bed and saw Ron and Harry share a relieved glance that she was pulling herself together now.

"There you go," Ron smiled at her, "stay strong for me while I get you some breakfast."

He stood up and jogged out of the bedroom. Hermione found herself unable to breathe, Harry frowned at her as she stared at the door Ron had just disappeared through.

"Hermione? What's the matter?"

"St...stay...st...st...st... strong."

"Nothing" she shuddered.


A/N Ok so this is my second warm-up before I start writing my next long fic. This is me trying to improve my action writing but i couldn't help putting some emotional stuff in there too...hell I can't do anything without a little angst can I?

Look out for Lost In Parasomnia...OUT NOW!

Any Questions should be directed to my forum, click on my profile and there's a link to the forum there, and all reviews are appriciated.