Once Upon a Time there were three friends who went off to search for Horcruxes. Under the terrible influence of one of these Horcruxes, the young man named Ron decided to abandon the others. The other young man, Harry, made a rash decision to join him, a decision that was influenced by a Dark connection that he never completely understood. Bringing their third friend, Hermione, with them, they returned to Ron's home for just one night of rest and good food before returning to their task. Unfortunately, the Dark Lord had used his connection to once again influence Harry's thoughts and that night the Burrow was not a santuary but a trap. Many, many good people died that night. But two lived, if you could call it living. This is the story of how they finally came together and changed their world.
Not Mine-No Money
"Princess! Wake up, you lazy slag!" The thin, ratty blanket ripped away from my naked body to emphasize the command and I struggled up from the lumpy mattress. I raised a shaking hand to swipe the matted tangle of my hair out of my face and peered blearily up at Peaches, already in her war paint and wearing my red corset. She was holding out a vial of potion to me.
"Hurry up, Ma is in a snit and already noticed you weren't around. You better not show up hung over again or she'll have you in the Brown Room for the night." The girl tsked when I didn't respond and tossed the vial into my lap and spun away, her red curls flying off her shoulders.
"You keep trying to drink yourself to death," she said with disgust, "when you know they won't let you. I don't know why I bother anymore." Peaches stomped towards the door but turned back and pointed to the splintered wooden bench at the foot of my camp bed. "I left you some tea and a scone. Eat, Hermione. Please?" Her body language was still stiff with anger but her eyes were imploring. I didn't care.
"That's my corset," I croaked.
"I'm borrowing it. Mr. M shredded mine last week and you shouldn't wear it until you gain some weight back; you look like a hat rack in it." With that she turned and left, quietly closing the door behind her.
It occurred to me I should be grateful she didn't slam it, considering the pounding in my head, but again, I couldn't bring myself to care. I gulped down the hangover potion, she had to have swiped it for me, and felt the pain in my temples abate. I sat still, waiting for the potion to completely take over and looked around the room at all the empty beds. One of the pathetic excuses for a house elf had been by already. The room was tidy, if dismal, in the early afternoon light. There were eight mix matched camp beds, each with a thin ratty blanket and some form of bench or chair at the end; peeking out from each bed, except mine, was a small, unlockable trunk or box to hold whatever personal possessions considered important enough to treasure, but not valuable enough for the management to confiscate. I didn't have one, there was nothing I cared enough about to try and keep. Looking at the room I thought again of how it looked like a set from a dystopian fairy tale: Hermione and the seven whores. There were two other rooms just like this. Each housing eight whores and all that belonged to them, who in turn belonged to the house, which was run by Ma, who worked for the Ministry.
Feeling human again I snatched up and ate the scone greedily, annoyed that my body still cared that much, and slurped up the tea as I dragged my sore body out the door and down the hall into the bathroom. I took as much time as needed in the shower, scrubbing my body and my scalp until I felt my skin was raw enough. This was the one thing I still cared about. My morning ritual. Scrubbing off my history. It made no difference if I left bleeding, the charms on the rooms downstairs would ensure I was beautiful to whoever bothered to actually look. I may have dwindled down to a hat rack but for the money Ma paid for the charms, you can be sure I was a good looking hat rack. Dragging a large toothed comb through my hair, I trudged across the hall to the wardrobe room. Here was where we kept our clothes, if you could call them that. The walls were full of long mirrors between recessed racks, each area assigned to a girl. I pulled out a few hangers and inspected what I had. It would benefit me to look as polished as possible when Ma did finally lay eyes on me. I had been in the Brown Room many times over the years and almost still cared enough to try to avoid it. Whips and chains are not my thing. But then again, none of this was my thing. I had no choice. This had been my life for the past five years. Since Harry and Ron died and I fucked up by not dying with them. Once I was somebody. Someone with a future. Now I was just a whore: The Princess of Gryffindor, as a matter of fact. They paid extra for me.
I stared at myself in the mirror, assessing the ankle length peignoir in translucent lime green. It was slightly more opaque over my breasts and then fell away to reveal my flat stomach and the matching thong before stopping just above a pair of silver mules. Rather conservative actually, and by the standards of the other girls, frumpy. But I was running out of things that fit and the charms didn't work on Ma. She wouldn't mind, she liked to pretend she owned a classy establishment so this outfit would go over well.
Anything I could do to disguise the jutting hipbones and protruding ribs would make my night easier and postpone getting dragged to a Ministry healer where they would repair my liver and replenish my failing health. Again.
All in all I looked pretty good. Hair a glossy tumble of curls down to my arse, thanks to the right products. It was actually a dry, sad thatch of brown straw without lotions and potions and the almighty charms. My breasts were smaller but still perky and round, my belly smooth. A few silvery scars here and there added authenticity to my status as defeated hero. All that was out of place were my eyes. They were dead. I should have been dead. But they wouldn't let me die. Merlin knows I tried enough in the beginning. I couldn't seem to muster the energy to actively participate in the act anymore. But passively, there's another matter.
I left the attic dormitories and headed down three flights of stairs, past the 'guest' rooms and specialty theme rooms, my body shuddered as it always did when I passed the infamous Brown Room and one more set of stairs brought me to the kitchen where I deposited the tea cup and plate Peaches brought me. A mangy elf hissed at me and I snarled back. I couldn't believe I ever cared about the damn things. Part of my brain tried to tell me they weren't all like this but I slammed the door on those thoughts. I didn't think of the past any more. Remembering house elves that gave their lives for a lost cause was not good for me. Remembering anything was not good for me. But for some reason my mind has been wandering into dangerous waters that day. There were sharks in those waters.
I entered the Violet Lounge and slipped over to where Peaches had parked herself on a settee. She is a mudblood from America. She told me her real name once, but I do not remember it. Sometimes I think I do, but then it slips away again.
"Hey, Princess. You look good. Nice job," she said, with a critical look at my make up and hair. She licked a finger and adjusted my eyeliner. Before I came here that would have disgusted me. Now I know there are worse things then a friend's spit drying on your face. I sat next to her and tuned everything out. My body arranged itself as trained, displaying itself to advantage, and my mind went away. In the beginning I listened to the chatter, desperate for some news from the outside. Some tidbit of hope I could build a world around, but there was never any news. No one comes to a brothel to talk about current events. I have no idea what has happened since I came here. All I know is the Dark Lord still rules with an iron fist. The Death Eaters still lord it over everyone and the social classes have divided up into a structure so ridged that we have to have different accommodations for those too lowly to interact with their betters but wealthy enough to afford to play. I have learned nothing new since I woke up in Azkaban, fevered and injured and delirious with grief. I remember little of my subsequent torture, I do not remember when Voldemort passed judgment on me in the Wizengamot. I was there, but was out of my mind. I do remember coming here a few months later. It was the last time I could remember being outside.
I saw movement behind the screen on the wall which told me the after-work crowd was coming in, usually the 'faithful' husbands looking for a quickie before taking the rest of their wages home to their lovely wives. Bad tippers. Not that we got to keep our tips, they went to pay for our clothes.
"What's on the agenda tonight?" I whispered to Peaches. All the girls talked in whispers until the room filled up; it reminded me of the nervous speaking formerly reserved for church before the service starts.
"The usually lame daddies early on but Mr. M has reserved the Emerald Room and ten girls from nine o'clock on," she responded quietly. "He better tip. I'm out of corsets," she huffed. Peaches had adapted.
Mr. M is Walden Macnair, which meant that there would be a room full of Death Eaters. Not an uncommon experience, they ran things in the government and liked their 'perks'. Like a reflex I wondered if Snape would be one of them this time. He never was. I didn't even know if he was still alive. I snapped my mind away from the thoughts that tried to crowd in through the cracks, I couldn't seem to keep the past in its place like I usually did, and concentrated on the important information. If Death Eaters were coming then I would be busy. I just hoped they were celebrating and not commiserating. They could be a nasty bunch. Well, nastier then usual.
Movement in the front of the room signaled the entrance of Ma. She floated in like a frigate in full sail. Her ample bosom on display and her wide hips hidden beneath yards of rust colored satin with ruffles. She looked ridiculous. A tall man was on her arm, smiling and looking slightly nervous. A mezzo soprano giggle from Ma and a slight gesture towards the settee Peaches and I were perched on were all the conversation necessary. She snapped her fingers and called out, "Peaches, darling! Come and meet this fine gentleman!" I watched as Peaches slapped her Hollywood smile on her face and got up to sashay across the room. I smothered a smirk. Peaches has a way of making all this look even more ludicrous. It's her little rebellion.
With Peaches gone I zoned out again until Angel came and sat down.
"How are you tonight, Princess?"
"Aren't we all."
And with that our conversation was over. I'm not one for small talk. Neither was Angel. We got along just fine. Angel and Peaches were pretty much it as far as friends go. Truly, I didn't give a damn one way or another, but they insisted on paying attention to me and on my less insulated days it was good to have someone on the planet who seems to care you breathed. This day I didn't seem to be as numb as I usually was.
I didn't know how long I had been sitting there when Ma called to me. I looked up and Angel was gone, as were several other girls in the room. I moved over towards Ma and the balding man at her side. He was average height and portly with beads of sweat already forming on his lip. He looked me up and down and flushed with pleasure until he looked into my eyes. He looked away again quickly. I smiled and took his arm, gesturing towards the stairs and the rooms beyond even as my mind drifted away again.
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