Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Definition of a Nightmare
By Silver Sailor Ganymede
How do you define a nightmare?
To someone with a logical mindset, say Hermione Granger or Percy Weasley the answer would have been simple. 'Nightmare: A dream arousing feelings of intense fear, horror, and distress/An event or experience that is intensely distressing/A demon or spirit once thought to plague sleeping people.' A standard dictionary definition was all people like that ever needed.
Luna Lovegood is not so sure though. In her youth she had been content to believe that nightmares were caused by snarking skurbuli, tiny, boggart-like creatures that hid under beds until a person was sleeping, then climbed up and hissed into the dreamer's ear, causing their dreams to mutate into something horrifying. Yes, in her youth Luna had been all too happy to believe that but not anymore. Everything is different now.
Luna had tried to tell herself that everything that had happened to her wasn't real, that a group of snarking skurbuli had hidden in her hair and were constantly whispering hideous things into her ears and bringing her worst dreams to life. After a while even that stopped working; nightmares couldn't hurt you after all, not like this.
She did not know how long they had been holding her captive for when it first happened; days and nights seemed to melt into one almost incomprehensible state of existence when she was trapped in that mansion overrun by Death Eaters. But what happened, happened, though Luna wished with all her heart that it hadn't. It would have been easy to write this whole thing off as a mere dream otherwise; it would have been easy to convince herself that this nightmare hadn't become a reality.
The black haired, black eyed, black souled woman had come alone that night. That was the first thing that struck Luna as strange; normally a rat-like man who scurried around like the vermin he so resembled visited them and brought them food. This time he did not come; only this dark woman whose eyes burned with fiery sadism and bloodlust.
The second thing that Luna found odd was that this woman had come in the middle of the night (at least so far as she could tell by judging the hours since their last meal, there was no time down in the cellar) and their captors only ever came during the daytime. When she realised that, Luna almost dared to hope that this woman wasn't really a Death Eater, that she was someone in disguise come to rescue them – but then she recognised the woman's face and her faint hope was replaced with cold dread.
The next thing Luna knew, the Death Eater had stunned all the other occupents of the cellar (for Luna was far from the only prisoner they were holding captive) and dragged Luna away, towards what she thought was the trapdoor leading to the upper floors.
Blood red lips had parted and words as soft as velvet but as deadly as poison had been spoken.
"Come with me, girl; it's time I had some fun."
The skeletal hand had tightened its grip on her arm and she was roughly shoved out of the cellar onto an upper floor, leaving the cellar for the first time in what felt like an eternity, then dragged through empty, dark corridors and shoved into a disused room. All this time Luna kept quiet; after all what good would screaming do? Just land her in an even worse situation than the one she was already in, most probably.
She does not want to fully remember what the demonic woman did to her. Whenever she closes her eyes and tries to surrender to sleep it's as though she had fallen again to Hell. She can still feel affects of the dark curses, pleasure and pain becoming one single, unbearable entity; feel the blood running down her arms and her chest; feel cold, calloused lips working their way across her body, desecrating flesh. She can still taste blood and death and poison on her lips… and she can still see those eyes of asphodel burning into her soul as that sadistic nightmare of a woman begins to laugh. 'What does it matter if I torture you to insanity when they think you're insane already? You're at my mercy now: scream for me': she can still hear her own cries piercing the otherwise silent night, and she can still hear that one whispered phrase in her mind. 'Tell me little girl, how do you define a nightmare?'
Over and over again she did it, and over and over again Luna found herself being denied rest because of the heinous things she could not forget. Even years later she wakes screaming from these dreams; the face of that twisted incubus will never leave her mind. And now whenever Luna ponders the answer for that one question, she knows that books and fairytales do not hold the proper answer. In fact very few people know it; sadly for Luna she is one of them.
'Tell me little girl, how do you define a nightmare?'