The story you are about to read was written from May to December 2006. The version presented to you now is a revision begun in July 2008.
I am now no more the person who wrote this than you are; that said, this is the product of a rapidly emotionally disintegrating person. When I wrote this, I did so to pour every hateful, hopeless, terrible feeling I had into words. I had previously struggled against my darker tendencies, cognizant that the darker a story, the less successful it would be. In writing Pornography, I reacted against that idea. I actively sought to write the most hateful, least 'commercial' thing I could, to document my mental state, to chronicle my looming end.
I take no responsibility for the emotions and thoughts of those who have read this story. I warn you here and now that I put all my powers into making this story as hopeless and angry as I could. Do not read this story if you're not sure you can handle it. I won't be held to account for what this story does to its readers. You have been warned.
It is the standard form for a story to have ups and downs. Pornography is a downward spiral. It starts as bright as it will ever get, and by the time it has reached its end, the light is a memory. Do not expect for a sweet ending; you won't have it and I won't be held responsible for your misconceptions. This story is hopeless. And its world gets ever blacker as it turns.
The story is peppered with intentional references and allusions to songs, poetry, films, even television, occasionally. Other references are unintentional and subliminal. Can you spot any?
The version before you is somewhat watered-down: Various threads have been removed from the story, others accentuated or added; the character of Hermione, for whom I had grand plans at the time I began the story, has been written out entirely, having become superfluous by the end of the first section. Also deleted is an infamous Latin rant I wrote into the story in my constant pursuit of anti-commercialism; it comes off as pompous, and that wasn't the point; so misunderstanding would seem to trump my ideals this time round. Overly-verbose descriptions have, for the most part, been done away with as well. What is left is a more coherent, if less emotive tale of rage, grief, regret, sorrow, loss, despair, defiance, hatred, and defeat.
I Love You
Deep, slow breaths broke the silence in the basement of a forgotten London manor. Two figures, unconscious and insentient, were roughly bound, side-by-side, to the back-wall of this basement, their wrists cuffed, their arms held overhead by dangling chains. The manor was in the unenviable position of existing solely for the purposes of housing these two prisoners; though once, long ago, host to galas and expensive parties, it had long been abandoned, home now only to spiders and shadows.
Its present inhabitants, however, were considerably more valuable than those that scurried and fled from light; the boy, seventeen, was skinny and pale, his body dangling, upheld by his straining chained arms. His face, famous throughout the world, had been dragged through dirt and blood; though hidden behind black, blood-caked hair, one of his green eyes showed, surrounded by a purple ring. His front was filthied, his black robes greyed by ash and dust: he had struggled and been defeated, then dragged away.
To his right was his only confidant, his constant companion, his love and light. At sixteen, she had been with him in the beginning and would be in the end. Her hair was a ferocious scarlet shade, burning red even in the windowless darkness of their basement dungeon; her face boasted a defiant bloody nose, having also struggled against her attacker.
They looked like figures in a wax museum, pale and motionless; hanging from the ceiling by their chains, neither showed any signs of consciousness in the darkness. It was wintertime now, and the basement corroborated the season. There was a pronounced and undeniable chill in their dungeon that cold iron bounds could not produce alone.
Their prison smelt of rotted cabbage, humid and putrid, gravity itself pulled down by the stench and weight of the air. Something lingered, something ethereal, beneath quantification and above detection, a sense that pervaded the otherwise silent and empty room, that made it more menacing; it, perhaps more than the stench and the humidity, lent to the room a sense of anticipated hatred, instilling a stifling sense of being slowly but completely overwhelmed.
Slowly, subliminally, the room grew more overbearing, more tense. The tension mounted, rising and rising, defiant before the laws of fluctuation. Slowly, brutally, it built higher and higher, its climax only reached when the black iron door atop the stairs, the only entrance and exit, opened with a threatening metallic creak, allowing light to rush in and infect every corner of the dungeon basement.
Standing framed in the doorway, black against the light, was a tall, graceful figure, stepping down each step with all the care and delicacy of a cat. Descending beautifully, she might well have been confused for the one who would deliver them from evil.
She was a sight to behold. She was a wintry beauty, her thin face and high cheekbones giving her a distinctly regal appearance. Her eyes were in their own way terribly remarkable; having taken the first steps on the path to ultimate power, her once beautiful brown eyes were now a deeply unnatural shade of lethal purple. On another's face, her eyes might have been beautiful, a remarkable quirk upon a remarkable face; but on her, they were only chilling, detracting from her prettiness more effectively than another feature could.
She was dangerous. Her beauty belied the sadist beneath, the ruthless woman who delighted in the pain of her victims. She was a woman who had found glory in servitude; but lacking a master, left to her own devices, she had become a vicious creature, as human as her shadow.
With a look from their mistress, torches on the wall sparked to life, the flames burning blue in the black room. Seeing her victims properly now, a sadist's smile curved her face. Now was the time for revenge, for vengeance, for pleasure in pain, for love to be lost. Slowly, achingly.
She reached into her black robes and withdrew from her folds a wand as black as her name. She held it delicately, lovingly in her long fingers for a moment, caressing her death-maker. Satisfied in an unknown manner, she clutched the wand in her left hand and made a grand sweep with it. Invisible tendrils clung to the pair upon the wall, groaning through blood-blind eyes back to wakefulness.
Patient in evil, the torturess conjured a black armchair; she sat in it delicately, crossing one leg over the other, awaiting the resumption of cruelties. She did not have long to wait; within moments, her prisoners had come to.
Relieving their arms, her prisoners stood and stared in silence for a matter of minutes, peacefully and calm. Their eyes rapidly grew attentive, their filthy faces hardened as they began to remember.
"Who are you?" the boy breathed.
Her smile was theatrical, "Don't you remember me, Mr. Potter?"
At his irresponsiveness, she turned the electric glare of her purple stare on the red-haired girl. "You haven't forgotten me, have you, Ms. Weasley?"
"I murdered your family one by one, and you don't know my name? All those years hidden away in Dumbledore's school, did he never tell you how your brothers died? How their bodies tortured your parents? How they died? It was artful! And there is nothing so delicious as the dying scream of a small child. I can still remember your brothers. Can you?"
"Bellatrix Lestrange," Harry named, moving beyond her words, beginning to understand. "You should be dead."
She smiled. "Oh yes; but we all should be what we're not."
"Where are Sirius and Remus?" Harry asked levelly, ignoring her attempts at cleverness.
"Oh, I would not worry about them, Harry." She exhaled and flashed a lifeless smile. "You have much larger problems than the fate of a fugitive and his pet."
"We have nothing to worry about," the girl said softly. "The Professor will find us before long. He'll storm this place and kill you."
The deathful laughter Ginny Weasley's threat educed was not what she had hoped for. There were few things so savage as Bellatrix's laugh. "Albus Dumbledore won't find you here, my darling girl. My spies are in his inner circle, so high in his hierarchy – a word from them and he would seek you in Spain. And that is without mentioning the multitude of protections cast upon this manor; my dearly departed uncle was paranoid in his old age, he applied every ward and charm he could; you may well be in the most secure building in the world."
"You think iron can hold us?" Harry smirked.
Both he and Ginny had been taken in by Dumbledore at a young age, raised in Hogwarts as his wards. They were educated, beginning at the ages of seven and six respectively, by Dumbledore himself, as a precaution against future evils, never enrolling in Hogwarts themselves. Their education was so highly specialized, so extensive, that by the time Harry was thirteen, he was as thoroughly educated as those who had finished their NEWTs.
Four years on, the two of them were in possession of a degree of power and education few would ever obtain; they had been trained for a decade in lethal arts in anticipation of the return of Lord Voldemort, himself a far more formidable opponent than Bellatrix Lestrange. It was a wonder she had managed to capture them in the first place.
"What makes you think it is only iron which holds you?" Bellatrix smiled. "You would be unwise to underestimate me, Harry; I know of your education; I am aware of what you are and are not capable of. You won't be escaping your chains."
"We are prepared to war your master; why would you be any more a challenge than Lord Voldemort?"
"Mind your tongue, Potter, or I'll mind it for you; you aren't worthy of his name." For the first time that day, she dropped all pretense of mockery and dark humor.
Harry smiled and said mildly, "Bellatrix, you're not going to kill us. If you were here to murder, we wouldn't have woken."
"Torture stands before you on the threshold of eternity, Harry, and nothing more."
"There is no terror in my heart; we fear neither pain nor death," he said, repeating a brave and worn phrase. "Do your worst."
"You are bold, Potter, and you are brave; for that I commend you. But you are a fool to invite torment; you misjudge me. I am not my master, but I am and have been his most accomplished disciple; what I lack in power, I make up for in imagination.
"When I am through with you, when I have had my fun, your mind will be so ruined, you'll beg for mercy like a dog for something sweet." She ran a tongue along her lower lip. "And when you no longer know your name, then I'll kill you. Your death will be bloody and your death won't come soon, and when I'm done, I'll make your girlfriend lick your wounds."
There was silence for a moment as the room dropped degrees. "You won't kill us, Bellatrix," Harry iterated, his breath visible now in the dungeon. "You need us for something; I don't know what. But I know you do, or we'd be dead now."
"You underestimate my bloodlust, Mr. –"
"Oh, yes, you like blood; I won't contest that, Bellatrix. But you have greater plans for us than to get you off.
"You need us."
"I knew your parents when they were in school," Bellatrix said softly. "And so I'm impressed. I never would have expected so much from their spawn."
She stood from her armchair, moving to Harry slowly, seduction in her eyes. "You would make an excellent lieutenant, Harry," she said in a low voice. "Maybe even a new master." She was very close to him now, whispering in his ear. "We could do beautiful things, Harry."
Harry closed his eyes and breathed deeply, fighting the intoxication of her offer; it was a bargaining chip. If he said yes, if he joined her, would she let Ginny go? Could he save her now, before any real damage was done?
"I'd sooner chew my tongue off."
Harry's world exploded. His body shook, and his back and neck arched, lights popping before his searing eyes as he fought against the pain. His mouth melded into a grimace, his brow crinkled, his toes curled, his eyes trembled. But he bit down, his jaw clenched in a strangled struggle for silence. Despite the pain, and it was immense, he would not give his torturess the treasure of a scream.
Desperation colored his every sense and struggle; the struggle to breathe, the struggle against his burning need to scream, the struggle to open his searing eyes and see, the vain struggle to still his thrashing body and accept her violence with grace, the struggle to save his mind, to stop the burning in his brain, to fight another day.
With all difficulty, he opened his eyes against the pain and, staring into the purple gaze of his tormentress, smiled a grisly smile, defiant in the face of excruciation.
Bellatrix, encouraged by Harry's defiance, tightened her grip on her wand and focused further into crushing the boy, willing him, begging him, to cry out, to beg her mercy.
Ginny could only look on in a deathly fusion of awe and raw horror. She knew as well as the prisoner and jailer what it was that Bellatrix wished to achieve; this was the first step in 'breaking' Harry; she wanted him to ask her mercy, and Ginny did too. She didn't understand why Harry had provoked her like he had; all she could see was some sick, masochistic greed.
It was too much to see him flailing against her violence. "What do you want?" she shouted to Bellatrix.
Bellatrix was too far gone, too engrossed in the act of torture to hear the cry of the secondary figure of Ginny Weasley. All she wanted was to break the boy, to hear his plea.
Her efforts were having the effect she so desired. Harry's back and neck arched, and he knew he was not long from breaking; the nails of his tightly-clenched hands dug into his palms and their blood trickled down his arms.
For a brief moment, the shock of Bellatrix's surge of power had knocked Harry's jaw unclenched, and in that brief moment, he nearly screamed ten thousand times, and when he desperately clamped his mouth shut again, his imprecision filled his mouth with blood.
He endeavored to simplify events, to reduce what was happening to a struggle of wills, to eliminate the physical aspect of the battle; he needed that kind of hyper-simplification to go on. If he could reduce what was happening to a concerted defiance, if he could throw all his energies behind his will, if he could diminish this to a battle of wills, she and he engaged alone, he could win out, he could deny her power over him and keep himself.
As he warred, as he felt his limbs beg to break, as he convulsed wildly, flailing and thrashing, enraged against the pain, the urge to scream began to overtake him; he was breaking apart, his control failing him. But some part of him, some proud, shadowed inch refused to give in, refused to yield to the monster before him, even as the pain which consumed him threatened to drown him in his blood.
In a final wild act of defiance, a desperate attempt at intimate victory for a desperate man, Harry stilled himself with every ounce of strength, refusing her; he would refuse her even if it took his last breath, "Th…ank… you, Bel…la…trix." His eyes exploded open, blood-red and wild, teeth bared, pale white lips parted, he spat the fluid in his mouth on her face. "Thank you."
Bellatrix dropped her extended wand-arm to her side, snarling, eyes wide. The curse fell too, and Harry's locked-knees gave out beneath him. Bellatrix wiped the blood off of her face and stared.
She had tortured countless witches and wizards, men and women, Muggles and creatures, but she could not recall anyone reacting to her attacks like this before. Witches and wizards had struggled against her, some had lasted minutes, but none for as long as Harry Potter; some had retained their humor after she was done with them, but none had summoned such sarcasm, had outmatched her so thoroughly.
If what had preceded was indeed a battle of wills, Harry had won. Improbably, inconceivably, he had shown not only the presence of mind so often absent in her victims as to mock her attempts, but had resisted giving her even a scream. After years of waiting for this day, years of fantasizing about torturing her master's conqueror, years of lusting after the thought of his screams, she had never dreamt for even a moment that he might be beyond her abilities to destroy. Perhaps there was something more to her master's undoing than luck.
He was exceptional.
Grown witches and wizards, some of legendary strength, witches and wizards who had made lives of capturing her comrades, had broken under the full strength of her Cruciatus, lost themselves to her will in a matter of minutes.
Custom would have dictated, in different circumstances, that she rebuke him with a sharp-edged comment, something biting, something sarcastic and witty. But she had been shocked into silence. And for awhile she remained silent, staring down the boy who bested her.
"I am going to enjoy breaking you both," she said, her eyes fixed upon the future. "Is she as strong as you, Harry?"
"Stronger," he gasped. "She would have stopped you at seventeen seconds."
She smiled. She licked her lips. "I'm going savor it – making you squirm. You'll beg me, you'll do anything to have me stop. But I won't. Because you're wrong, in the end, Mr. Potter; because I don't want anything but to watch you die."
Without any further remarks, Bellatrix turned her back to the three and started for the exit. Just as she had set her foot on the bottom step of the staircase, she twisted her body around, looking back toward the three. She locked eyes with the panting Harry. "Tomorrow," she promised. Bellatrix Lestrange ascended the steps and left through the iron door.
The light left with her, and as soon as it had, Ginny turned to her companion. "What the hell was that, Harry?" she shouted, demanding explanation.
His breath was heavy and he had to spit out blood to answer, but despite his efforts, his explanation proved unsatisfactory. Speaking to the ground, he answered her, "You know what it was, Ginny."
"Masochism!" she said venomously. "She'll kill you if you keep that up, Harry."
He was still panting. "I have to buy Dumbledore time," he said. "And if it hadn't done what I did, she'd have turned to you."
"Nobility is dressed up stupidity, you git." Her tone had not softened; the ultimate end of self-sacrifice, she knew well, was full-bodied.
Harry stood and was silent, considering his words and revising his phrasing. "I don't have a choice," he said slowly, his head turned and looking into Ginny's eyes. "The longer I hold out, the more time Dumbledore has to find us; the longer I hold out, longer you're safe, the safer you are."
"I'm more valuable to her than you are, Ginny;" he said, for better or worse, "can't you see? I killed Voldemort, and she wants more than revenge." He sighed. "She needs something from me; this is not an exercise in strength for her, this isn't punishment. She needs something, and until she has it, I'm safe.
"I'm too valuable to her here than to kill me. So however far she'll go hurting me, she'll go further with you; because I'm indispensible, for whatever it is she needs. You're not.
"So let me take the pain, let me buy us time, and you safety, and maybe Dumbledore can save us."
Ginny stared at him in the darkness, her eyes dimmed by the dark and her tears, angry at him, irrationally but thoroughly. "Harry, I love you, but Dumbledore won't find us." She breathed in deep. "You heard what she said about the wards. She must have a Fidelius on here too. The Professor can't break that, Harry…."
"We'd know, Ginny," Harry said, disagreeing. "That's one of the fundamental qualities of the Fidelius Charm; don't you remember? You have to know where you are to be there."
Ginny was quiet for a moment. "Harry, where are we?"
And then he was quiet too as torturous realization struck. "12 Grimmauld Place, London." His voice was pained. Hidden knowledge, secret truth struck him. "Legilimency. It has to have been."
Ginny nodded. "He won't be finding us, Harry. The Professor can't break the Fidelius Charm."
Harry felt hope abate. "We're alone."
"I think we're going to die here, Harry," Ginny said simply, her voice sad.
"No," Harry said, struck wild. "No, we don't die here.
"Bellatrix Lestrange disappeared in 1981, and until now no one knew one way or another if she were dead or alive. She's been hiding for sixteen years. She needs something. She's been hiding too long to just return. She needs something, and she needs it from us, probably from me."
He was quiet as his eyes grew hard, as resolve turned to stone and deathly thoughts fled. "She might want information, maybe from us, maybe from someone else. She might be negotiating our release right now; negotiating for something worth our lives."
"Probably. Or his wand, his effects." Harry thought hard, but his mind was pain-numbed. "She needs something. And either we are bargaining chips or the opposite negotiating team. She needs something, either from us or with us as leverage.
"If it's something we have, if it's something we can give, she might free us."
"Harry," Ginny said quietly, softly, reluctantly. "What if this is about revenge? Assuming that she wants something in exchange for us, or that we're being interrogated or negotiated with – it's a leap of logic. It requires other assumptions.
"What if she just wants to watch us bleed?"
"She doesn't, Ginny, that can't be it; she can't have come out of exile for pure revenge."
"Harry," Ginny's voice sounded small, "she hasn't asked us a single question."
Harry nodded, his movements cold and precise. "No, she hasn't."
He had to think, he had to be able to hear his thoughts without wading through the sludge of numbness that filled his head. "But it's not revenge, Ginny," he said, holding his position. "Not exclusively. She wouldn't resurface to watch us bleed, she wouldn't come back to watch us… die.
"It's too reckless, too ill-conceived. She's had the better part of twenty years to take revenge. Over the years, she must have had thousands of opportunities. And maybe this has been her best, maybe now is the best time for her, but… I won't believe that she is in this for our deaths alone.
"Every time she could have taken us, could have captured us, could have killed us – every opportunity without action: I won't believe there's nothing more to this than vengeance."
"How can you be so…" Ginny began. "How can you be so stoic about this? How can you not be terrified? Don't you know what she's done?"
"Of course I know, Ginny," Harry said gently, easing her down from the rising tension in her heart. "But I don't believe there's anything she'll do, if we're smart, worse than she's already done.
"Of course I'm frightened. I'm frightened for you, I'm frightened for me…. I'm afraid we won't see the sun again, I'm afraid we're living our last day. But part of me knows we'll make it; I can feel it in my bones.
"Whatever she's done, whatever she'll do, we're going to make it." He closed his eyes. "I promised you once I'd marry you. I promised you once that I would hold you to me in silence, underneath the stars, you and I alone and in love; I promised you we'd have that, that I'd whisper 'I love you,' that I adore you, that we'll have the rest of time, in life and in death, together forever, and that no matter what happens, here and now or in thirty years, I am yours for all I am and as long as you'll have me…. I promise you that now, I promise it again. I love you, and the first thing I'll do when we leave this place is hold you in my arms and tell you all that I couldn't today, whisper those words in your ear again, and never, never let you slip away."
Silent tears tumbled down her face. They always did, when Harry spoke like that.
"We're going to be okay."
Ginny nodded, tears still rolling, but moved now by something more than terror in her heart. The promise of his words was enough for her in that moment, enough to light out the night.
"I love you."
"I love you too."