Disclaimer: I do not, nor will I ever own Harry Potter. It is the property of JK Rowling and her associates. No monetary or material profit was gained from this story.
WARNING: The following chapter contains some torture. Non-graphic (to my mind. Tell me if I'm wrong and I will change the warning.)
At the Hands of a Madman
Fred woke to the sounds of agonized screaming. The sound amplified by the stone walls and floors of the dungeon. He gently tensed his limbs, finding that he was chained to a wall. Then he cracked his eyes, searching first to his left then to his right. George was to his right, chained to the wall in a similar fashion. At least he wasn't the one making those horrible noises.
He surveyed his surroundings a little more. The dungeon they currently occupied was a large open space, taking up what had to be the same amount of space as the floor above it. Freestanding walls were scattered about, allowing for more area to chain prisoners and an excellent way to display the torture of the one to the many in the room.
A man that appeared to be muggle was the one they were currently torturing. Fred looked away as soon as he comprehended what was happening to that man. While Voldemort and his death eaters were all about Blood Supremacy, they were not at all above use old muggle torture devices. The man who was screaming was the victim of a Medieval Intestinal Crank.
He looked over to the side again and saw George trying his level best not to heave. He stretched the tips of his fingers out until they just barely brushed tips of his brothers.
"It's going to be okay. Harry will find us," though he spoke lowly, the whisper was caught by one of the onlookers to the muggle torture.
"Ah… it seems as though our guests of honor are finally awake," the smirk on the Death eater's face curdled the twins' blood.
The Death eater signaled another one that was standing by the door. That one rushed off, presumably to tell a more important person that the hostages were awake.
The man went back to torturing the muggle while he waited for his lackey to return. He had noticed how much Fred and George were affected by the site of the muggle's entrails being pulled out of his stomach by the crank. A spell was keeping him from passing out, forcing him to watch the entire thing. The unknown Death Eater stunned the twins and spelled their eyes open so that they had to watch the gruesome torture.
Finally, several minutes later, the intestines were pulled taunt and snapped under the pressure.
Both of the twins flinched as the sound of the man's last agonized wail and the laughs of the Death Eaters blended together, blood and bile spilling on the floor.
They were gone… Harry felt himself backing away from the door fast enough to nearly fall. It was a mistake. They were still in the house somewhere, having a midnight snack or planning a prank. It had to be a mistake.
His mouth felt like parchment as his feet skidded around corners. He couldn't find them. Fred and George weren't in the garden, the front room, the kitchen… They were not to be found anywhere and Toffee and Taffy didn't respond to calls.
Someone had taken his mates… They wouldn't have just left! Fred or George would have woken him, waited to til morning, anything but just leaving him alone in the middle of the night.
Harry sunk to the floor, his knees drawing into his chest. His stomach roiled threateningly. The magic in the room (inate to a home lived in by wizards) seemed to sink into his being. The elf sat there for Merlin knows how long, unconsciously rocking back and forth, silently begging whoever might be listening to please, just please bring them back.
Slowly his anguish dissolved into anger. Whoever had taken his mates would pay. Rising to his feet, he went in search of his house elves.
He found them rolled into the bushes in the garden. He removed the spell and they fell upon him weeping. Using a carefully controlled voice (even in his anger, Harry knew that they weren't at fault), he asked them what had happened to the twins.
"The mens in the black cloaks took them away!" wailed Taffy, clutching at his sleep clothes.
"But how did they get inside?" the wizard snapped.
"They didn't, they didn't! We promises! The twinses went out the garden to them!" Toffee's eyes watered, uncomprehending.
Fred and George left the garden? Willingly? A growl built in his throat and Harry had to distance himself from his house elves so that he didn't hurt them; he could feel the magic quivering under his skin like his muscles.
No. Something was wrong here. Fred and George Weasley would not willingly leave him to go with Death Eater scum. Walking back to the house, he tossed a tight "Toffee! Find Nimbus and tell him to hurry." over his shoulder. He needed to get dressed.
By the time Harry had emerged from his room, changed and ready for whatever may come, Nimbus and the other elves had arrived. Nuvain was sitting on the couch worrying her lip with Kylan comforting her. Kama was pacing back and forth, muttering. Nimbus leaned against the window sill, staring out into the night. They all turned at the sound of Harry's footsteps entering the room.
Nuvain was up and wrapping her arms around the younger elf before he even had the chance to speak. Taffy and Toffee had already informed them, between wails and attempted punishments, of what had transpired that night.
"Don't worry. We will get them back." Harry wished he could feel as confident as she sounded.
"We will, Harry. The House elves said they were taken by men in black cloaks?" Nimbus asked as he came to stand beside him. Harry nodded tightly in answer.
"We can't stay here," Kylan's practicality butting in, "If the Death Eaters have found the house than the Order will too, soon enough."
Nimbus nodded in ascent, but no one moved to leave. Finding their friend's mates was more important than avoiding the Order of Flaming Chickens.
Harry looked at the others around him desperately. Kama had finally stopped pacing and muttering. He looked different. His jaw was set and there was a spark in his eye. The elf had obviously decided something and nothing was going to stop him.
"You all start strategizing. I'll take Harry into the kitchen and get him some water. He looks like he needs it." It was a testament to how shook up everyone was, when nobody protested or thought to call the elves for water.
Once in the kitchen, Kama silenced the room with a wave of his hand. He turned to Harry and guided him into a seat, "I'm going to tell you something that I haven't told anyone before. Please, just… listen until I finish."
Harry was itching all over with the need to go, to do something to save his mates. But this elf was a part of the royal guard. If he felt this was something that he had to tell Harry right now, then he was going to sit down and listen.
"Several years ago, before I came of age I was in love with another elf. Her name was Saevanna. She was older than me by a few years. We were to be mates once I got my letter.
"She was truly beautiful; witty and graceful. We were truly happy. There was peace and together we planned out our lives. Our families were accepting and we could not wait.
"Two days before I was to come of age, she was sent on a regular patrol to the edge of our lands. A group was sent out weekly Saevanna would be back before my birthday, so I thought nothing of it. She died on that patrol."
Harry was unsure of what to say. Since he'd found the twins gone, it had felt like a piece of him was slowing self destructing. His hands had a slight tremble, like a addict looking for a fix. He could not imagine losing a mate permanently, before he'd even really had them. (Not that Harry had ever really had Fred or George.)
"Most don't know this; but if an elf's mate dies before the other comes to age, then the lose will not kill them. I've lived on this earth for 13 years without her now. It's total agony, everyday. I've spent most of my adult life looking for ways to prevent this sort of thing from happening to someone else. No one has delved as deeply into this. There is a way to find them
Harry was on his feet in an instant. "No! No 'but's. Anything I can do to save them. No matter the cost."
Kama looked at him for a long moment. He could see the determination and desperation in his fellow elf's eyes.
"The others won't like it," he warned.
"I don't care." Kama nodded. He could see that. The others had never lost their mates. Nuvain and Kylan were always together and Nimbus knew that his was safely tucked away in the nurseries taking care of children. But Kama knew what Harry was feeling right now. The others would not approve of this plan. But that didn't matter. Not now.
"Very well. We'll need something from each of them. Something with the tenor of their magic." Harry nodded and moved silently into the hall and towards the twins' room. He wasn't sure what he should take, what would have the 'tenor' of the magic. Looking around again, Harry's heart dropped further in his chest. Setting there, on either side of the nightstand, were the twins' wands. Carefully gathering them up in his hands, the elf returned to the kitchen.
"Will these do?" Kama's eyes grew soft with worry and sympathy when he saw the wands that Harry was cradling so carefully in his hands. Not only were his mates gone, but they didn't have their means of protection.
"Come. This is better done outside." Carefully they left the kitchen. Pausing beside the sitting room, the looked in to see the other three elves busy arguing over maps and notes. They were to absorbed to notice that Kama and Harry hadn't come back.
Outside they walked to the very edge of the wards. Any farther and the others would notice, but the magic was a bit thinner at the edges. Perfect for their purpose. Settling down on the grass with their legs crossed, knees brushing against the others with their closeness. Kama's hands rested across the gap with Harry's hands, clutching the wands, settled into his own.
"This is your last chance to back out, Harry. This is going to drain you. Once we get there, we are going to fight our way to them and then back out. No help, no back up. No one can follow us. We can wait for the others to find them."
Harry just gave the blond a grim smile. "I can't leave them there alone." Kama nodded in understanding.
"Picture them. Remember every detail, their red hair, freckles, their laugh. Focus on the wands in your hands. They were taken from you, feel their magic in the wood. They were ripped from you, Harry," Kama slowly built him up, air stirring around them at the other's distress, "They're alone, Harry. Hurt. You need to find them, Harry. Can you feel them?" there was a nod.
The air seemed to thicken. Kama was right. His mates were gone, hurt, alone. He needed to go. Needed to find them. Suddenly the air pressed in tighter and tighter. He couldn't breathe. In a flash of light they were gone.
A/N: So, I'm kinda happy with this one. It was a lot longer, but when it topped out at 3 and a half thousand, with quite a bit left to go, I found this nice stopping point as a transition towards finally wrapping this thing up! Hopefully the next chapter will get us somewhere and wrap up some loose ends.