Disclaimer: Characters and their canon origins are the property of J.K. Rowling. All sexual acts depicted are between two consenting, of-age adults. No money is being made here.
Notes: First off, this is a complete story, so much like "Truth of Feelings," it will be uploaded fairly quickly in about a dozen chapters while I continue to work on "The Wait."
"Unlocked" was written for the hermionebigbang of 2009. While it is easily 99 percent original and 'mine' and a completely different story on its own, it was intended to be a sister story to "La Flambeau Vivant" by ceredwensirius. I consider both stories to be True "AU" in that La Flambeau was originally borne from the idea of how things would be if Sirius simply never fell into the Veil. So it is rather intentionally an alternate reality.
"Unlocked" happened while I was working with ceredwensirius on La Flambeau, both as a sounding-board as well as co-writing certain scenes. Because she was writing her story solely from Sirius Black's point of view, I felt that Hermione's side of things was missing, especially in regard to how she grew into an independent adult witch who could handle herself and make her own mature and conscious decisions about things like love and sex and long-term relationships, as well as having the intelligence and insight to learn from her mistakes. So, I took it upon myself to write her point of view, but it wound up growing into an actual story of its own, one that touches "La Flambeau" in just a couple of common scenes, but is otherwise a different plot and a different slice of their lives.
This has been a tremendously educational and challenging experience, because even though the two stories are part of the same "ship," I have learned that everyone sees and writes these characters a bit differently. It's one thing to just write fanfiction – a challenge in itself because you're playing with one author's universe and characters, but add to that the limitations and character definitions of a second author. To the keen eye, one might even be able to tell where those common scenes and plot points are, even if they have not read La Flambeau. The characters might seem to be just a slightly different hue. Or hell, maybe the differences are glaringly obvious, I don't know! Either way, I hope those who read it find some enjoyment and always always feel free to comment or pm your thoughts or reviews.
Anyway, a million thanks to the following people who helped this come together: Christine F. for acting as plot beta during the initial writing process, and working to ensure both stories met up correctly, and oddnari for help with Indian pet names. And finally and most especially the letters A and J, my super special secret writer witches for coming in at the last minute and running technical beta before the bigbang deadline, but most importantly for their brutally honest and insightful feedback regarding plot and characterization. If it hadn't been for those two, I think we'd all be wishing the end of this story was much different. Thank you.
"We must summon the Dark Lord!"
Before Lucius Malfoy had a chance to roll up the sleeve of his robe, a flash of light left him in an unconscious heap on the floor.
"No," Bellatrix snarled at the rest of them, brandishing her wand in warning. "Would you interrupt Him on His most important mission? He will be returning tonight with the one thing that will ensure His victory, and I shall have the greatest gift of all waiting right here for Him," she gloated as she gave Harry's face a hard mocking pinch.
Narcissa hesitated, considering the situation silently before softly commanding, "Take them down to the cellar, Greyback."
"Wait," said Bellatrix sharply, narrowing her eyes hungrily. "All except… except for the Mudblood."
Hermione's blood turned to ice as everyone filed noisily out of the parlour. Ron's frantic protestations could be heard even after the heavy door banged shut.
"I don't know anything," she said in a trembling voice.
"No?" Bellatrix raised an eyebrow. "That's not what my darling nephew tells me. He says you're the smartest in your class." She tilted her head, her tone mockingly sweet. "No matter," she smirked, prowling in a little circle around Hermione. "You're not here for interrogation, my pretty. You're here for… entertainment."
Terrified and captivated by the cold, dark, heavy-lidded eyes that held her, Hermione hadn't noticed the return of two of their captors, until the tall, thin but imposing witch nodded in their direction.
"I'd let them have their turn first, but Rabastan here has a way with witches that tends to addle their brains beyond recognition, and that just wouldn't make it nearly as much fun for me," she hissed. "Brightest witch at Hogwarts… can't wait to see how quickly I can snuff that little mind of yours, just like Frank and Alice Longbottom…"
Hermione squeezed her eyes shut and shuddered at the sensation of cold polished wood sliding softly along her cheek. She could almost feel the hateful magic trailing in the wake of Bellatrix's wand tip.
"And of course," the witch continued with a lurid chuckle, "There's never much of anything left once Greyback is done with them."
She pressed her lips tightly against the whimper that threatened to escape, tears already stinging the backs of her eyelids.
"So, then," Bellatrix chirped suddenly, causing Hermione to jump. "Shall we begin?"
Something wide pressed against her mouth and she opened her eyes.
"Open up, love. Don't want you biting off that sharp little tongue of yours – would make it hard to hear you beg, and that's the boys' favourite part." She flicked her head in the direction of the two dark wizards watching from the other side of the room. Fenrir grinned filthily, a low growl rumbling from his huge body. Rabastan was smaller in comparison, but still an intimidating wizard with black tattoos in the shape of flames that ran up his neck and over the side of his face. He, too, grinned at the terrified young witch, rubbing his hand suggestively over his groin with a chuckle. Hermione felt her stomach twist threateningly, and could feel the burn of bile in her throat as the terrified whimper she'd held back escaped her.
A small flat leather paddle the size and shape of a large spoon was crammed between Hermione's lips, pressing down on her tongue and stretching the corners of her mouth. She gagged, causing the tears to spill down her cheeks.
Bellatrix stood back and tilted her head, admiring her handiwork. "You won't need these," she said simply, and with a flick of her wand, Hermione's bindings slipped away.
Instinctively, Hermione bolted toward the door and was hit squarely between her shoulder blades by the first curse. As she fell to her knees, an involuntary scream tearing from her throat through the flat of leather, the realization hit her of just how much sport they would truly be taking in her torture.
The pain seared through her body, starting at its origin and flaring outwards, crackling along every nerve ending. It was like nothing she had ever experienced, and it seemed to go on for hours. She was so certain she'd die from it, and felt herself wishing she would, but she didn't.
It stopped, just long enough for her to register the unearthly cackling filling the large room before it hit her again, this time lower, ripping through her side, and somehow it was even worse, the agony tearing through her insides, screaming through her organs. Somewhere in her mind she became aware of a humiliating wet warmth seeping down her trousers legs and soaking her front, and her shrieks were broken, punctuated into sobs.
Full-on laughter rang through the parlour from her audience. "Well done!" Rabastan crowed.
Hermione's mortification offered little reprieve however, before another blast hit her and she realized in panic, she could feel her thoughts jumbling, her mind slipping…
No, please, dear Circe no… she begged inwardly, scrambling mentally for anything to clutch onto, something that would anchor her sanity, hold her in place through this unspeakable torment.
Grey eyes flashed into her mind, and beneath the agony, beneath the cries that were already ragged and hoarse, beneath the scalding sensation of her every nerve turning on itself, she found it, found her one solace - the one thing that would keep her from giving in.
Sirius… she thought, the name almost a prayer in her head. Frantically she clung to first the image of his eyes, then clawed desperately for the recollection of his hair, his face, his lips, oh his lips… the things they did to her…
Hermione was dimly aware of the fact that she was still writhing, still screaming though her throat was surely bleeding by now. They were still toying with her, a hellish game of cat and mouse. Bellatrix would Crucio her victims just long enough to take them to the edge of complete breakdown, then stop, just long enough to pull them back and buy her another round of 'entertainment.' It was a well-rehearsed dance, and though her mind was tucking itself into the safest corner it could find, Hermione's body still responded to the curse as if she were a marionette dangling from the mouth of a rabid dog. The sounds grew further and further away, however, as she separated herself, buried her sanity in the only thing that mattered now.
After Merlin only knew how long, the pain stopped for a longer stretch than before. Hermione became vaguely aware of feet scuffling and she wondered with a wave of nauseating dread if her next form of torture was coming up. Her limbs, her entire body, even her face, felt as if they were made of lead. With great effort, she forced her eyes open enough to register that she was lying on the cold marble of the floor. Her heart skipped a beat at what was surely a hallucination. Glass everywhere, and… she thought feebly, Sirius?
Her mind dimly processed the image of a tall, handsome, black-haired wizard, teeth bared in fury, as a brilliant flash of red shot from his wand. The force of the hex was so fierce that when it found its target, his mad cousin was thrown from her feet into the air, through glass, and into the dark billowing fabric beyond. Unable to comprehend the ensuing chaos, Hermione let herself slip back into darkness, the steady thin stream of thoughts and images that had kept her safe now erratic and weak like a faltering heartbeat.
Sudden arms, gentle and warm, wrapped themselves around her. A broken murmur in a voice she so cherished pleaded desperately, "No… Hermione, love - please…"
Did she die? She felt herself turned, lifted slightly, and the pain that echoed through her body answered 'no'. The heartbroken sound of Sirius' voice tugged at her, and with a strength she didn't really feel she possessed, she forced her eyes open again.
There, her anchor, those storm cloud eyes, filled with fear and grief and tears… Hermione tried to move an arm, a hand, something. Failing that, she focused on her mouth, curious that the leather gag had been removed without her knowledge. Her lips were impossibly swollen and cracked, her tongue like sandpaper. "Sss…" she tried.
"Shh," he hushed, a gasp of relief breaking through. "I'm getting you out of here. This is going to hurt, and I'm sorry," he warned, before pulling her close to him, his arms cradling her back and legs.
Hermione let her eyes fall shut as she was lifted into the safety of his embrace. From a distance, she heard shouting and commotion before the sudden squeeze of Apparition pressed in painfully, and darkness overtook her.