Okay, disclaimer. Well, if Harry Potter and Associates belong to me, then I'd be bloody rich now wouldn't I? I'm not. That should be ample proof to those of you feeble-minded enough not to know that J.K. Rowling owns them, and I, regrettably, do not. Sue not, please. Oh, and any ideas in the entirety of Blood, Torture, and Witty Comebacks that seem vaguely familiar and look like they ought to belong to someone else, probably do. I'm just using them, and I'd say which ideas come from who, but honestly no longer have a clue. Sorry if this story offends, and since I've already apologized, don't flame. There is no point; you've already got your apology now haven't you? If you insist on doing so, I'd have to say you're a bloody idiot, but then, that's just my opinion.
Chapter One: A Most Cruel Example

The infamous 'Boy Who Lived' woke to darkness, as he had for the last four days. He did not know where he was, only that the place also inhabited Voldemort. His scar hadn't stopped hurting for five days.

"Well, Harry, got yourself into a mess this time, didn't you old boy? Just had to go out for that walk, even though you knew it wasn't safe, even though Professor Dumbledore told you not to go too far from the Dursleys except if you had a good reason.
What's your good reason? You were bored! Yes, I can just see that conversation: 'Sorry I left the place you expressly told me not to, I just wasn't up to staring at the walls for endless hours anymore. Won't happen again, sir, swear on my mother's grave. Does she even have a grave? Oh, God, I'm pathetic. I've been reduced to talking to myself."

"There's nothing wrong with that, as long as you say the right things," a pleasant voice said from outside of his cell bars. The pleasant voice had a deep timbre that echoed and bounced around Harry's dungeon room.

"Hullo," Harry said, dully. "Who're you?"

"Morpheus Lestrange. I'll be your torturer this evening. Come along then, let's get a look at you."

The cell's door opened and a dim light shone in. The voice was revealed to be a tall, overly thin man with thin, graying hair and pure white skin. He stepped inside and peered closely at Harry, brown eyes piercing behind small, wire-rimmed glasses.

"Ah, green eyes, yes, very much like the lovely Phoenix's. And hair, just like the foolhardy Crow's. You, my young friend, will be the Raven."

"Right." Harry began to back away from the strange man, Morpheus Lestrange, who told him flat out that he was going to torture him that evening. Voldemort had odd followers. "So, Mr. Lestrange, how do you plan to get me to go along with you? You don't look strong enough to pick me up and drag me to wherever you're going to torture me, and you didn't bring along any of your cronies. How?"

"Oh." Lestrange looked vaguely disappointed. "You won't come along willingly then?"

Harry just stared incredulously at him. Yes, Voldemort should really look into getting new help. The old ones were getting incredibly fuzzy-minded.

"Well, then, there's no help for it. Crucio."

Somewhere in between the screaming, writhing and unceasing pain came the whispered word 'Imperio'. Harry wanted to laugh through the all too real agony. Imperio just didn't work on him; everyone should have known that by now! But the whispered 'Imperio' came again and again, until it was so mixed with the agony of Crucio that Harry ceased to notice it.

Abruptly, the Cruciatus curse wore off and Harry lay, shivering on the ground, spasms rocking his chest.

"Now then, little Raven, get up."

Against his will, Harry stood and faced Lestrange.

"We will have to go quickly, won't we, little Raven. You fight the Imperio already, and strongly too. Yes, quickly we will go to the room of ice and snow. I like making rhymes, my little Raven. You will learn that soon. Although the room isn't really of ice and snow; it just seemed to fit. My Dove likes to listen to my rhymes. You will have to meet my Dove sometime soon, little Raven. You two will like each other very much I imagine." Lestrange led the way out of the room and Harry followed, his feet moving of their own volition. Or more likely, Lestrange's.

Lestrange led him down long corridors and hallways, twisting and turning until in his pain-hazed mind he no longer knew if up was down, or if right was left. Finally, just as the Imperio curse began to wear off, they stopped by a tall wooden door. Lestrange held it open and gestured it Harry in, following after.

Only when the door was locked did the Imperio curse wear off. Harry threw himself at the door and tried to open it to no avail. A low laugh drew his attention back to Lestrange.

"No, little Raven, there is no escape from here. Not until I say you may go, of course. So, you may as well find yourself a comfortable position; it won't be comfortable for long, I can assure you."

With a flick of his wand, Lestrange sent Harry careening into the low-lying table. With another flick, straps that had gone unnoticed before came up to surround Harry until not even his pinky finger could move.

"Now, I really do hope that you won't fight me during the torture, little Raven. I really don't like cursing people, but my Lord Voldemort insists that if you cause any trouble, I should cast Crucio on you. I know you don't like Crucio, but in time you may come to enjoy it. Just wait, I will show you the pleasures of pain. You will soon know what I speak of, little Raven. Soon."

Lestrange mumbled partially to himself and partially to Harry as he walked over to a large wooden cabinet and opened one of its drawers. From it he withdrew a long iron rod, ending in a sharp point.

"What's that for, Mr. Lestrange?" Harry eyed the rod apprehensively and tried to jerk away when Lestrange came his way, rod in hand and strange gleam in his eye.

"Please, little Raven, call me Morpheus. In these kinds of relationships, a trust has to develop. It helps if we address each other by our first names, or nicknames even. Yes, little Raven, in no time we will have a deep relationship." Lestrange -Morpheus- muttered as he walked closer to Harry.

"All right, Morpheus. What's that for?"

"Ah, good, good. You're eager to learn! Ask many questions, Raven. Only by asking questions will you learn of what I do. And this," Morpheus hefted the iron rod in his hand experimentally, "is for your hand."

"My hand?" If Harry was aware of the slight tremor in his voice, he didn't show it.

"Yes," Morpheus smiled pleasantly. The lighting in the room was bright, coming from fluorescent lights. It showed every detail in exquisite reality. "It will be your first lesson, Raven. It will be a good one too."

Morpheus long fingered hand clamped Harry's strapped one down, and held the palm open. Harry tried to curl it up, to prevent what was going to happen next. Morpheus tut-tutted and said, "Remember my warning, little Raven. I do not like using Crucio, but I will if you fight me."

Harry glared at him, although it wasn't a personal glare. He was finding it almost impossible to really detest this man, like it was so easy to dislike Malfoy. There was just something so inherently fuzzy-minded and impersonal about the man, like he didn't really want to do what he was doing, but that he would do it because he was ordered to.

"I suppose there's no alternative then," Morpheus sighed regretfully and once again raised his wand. "Crucio." The word was whispered tiredly, but with great force behind it. Distantly, through the agony, Harry felt his limp hand being held still. Suddenly the Crucio was lifted and with pain-hazed eyes, Harry watched Morpheus lift the iron rod with one hand and slam it down in a sickeningly fascinating arc while his other hand held Harry's own flat.


He arched his back, bit deeply into his lip and drew blood, trying to keep from crying out after that initial exclamation. He tasted the copper flow as it slid down his throat and tried desperately to not spit it out. Strangely, it hadn't hurt past the first burst of pain. Looking numbly down at his hand, he noticed sickly that the iron rod was still impaled in the middle of it. Long streams of blood ran down his palm, across his wrist and dripped down to hit the ground.

"Y'know, Morpheus, this has to be one of the grossest things I have ever seen." His words seemed to come from far away, whispered from a hoarse throat. He had really been abusing his voice that day; that almost constant screaming, he supposed.

"Ah, but little Raven, you just haven't learned to appreciate the inherent beauty of this sight. I suppose I must give your development time; you're still young." Morpheus sounded vaguely disappointed and disgruntled.

"Right. Would you mind taking that thing out of my hand now? It's not the pleasantest sensation."

"I suppose you learning to appreciate pain will also take a while. Ah well, we have time."

"Not much of it," a grimly amused voice said from the doorway. It must have been opened in the middle of the impaling of Harry's hand, or during the Crucio curse, because he hadn't heard it.

The man in the doorway looked very familiar, somehow. An older version of Malfoy, Harry realized, only darker. His hair isn't as silvery as Malfoy's, and his eyes are blue, not gray. He must be Malfoy's Dad, Malfoy Senior.

"Ah, Lucius, how are you?" Morpheus asked pleasantly, though Harry detected not a small amount of distaste in his tone. It was obvious that Morpheus didn't enjoy Lucius' presence.

"Quite fine, Morpheus. And you're well, I trust. I am sorry to... deprive you of young Potter's company, but my Lord Voldemort requests that he be brought into His presence for questioning." Lucius smirked viciously and flicked his wand at Harry's straps. They opened up, but Harry didn't move.

"Well, little Raven, why aren't you leaving? My lord Voldemort awaits your arrival with great eagerness, I am sure." Morpheus' voice was annoyed, most likely at the interruption of Lucius.

"You still haven't taken the rod out of my hand, Morpheus. I can't move with it there; it's gone through to stick into the wood."

"Oh, yes! Quite sorry about that, won't happen again, little Raven," and Morpheus gripped the iron rod, and pulled it sharply out. "Now, off you go and don't give Lucius any trouble or else he will be forced to cast Crucio on you and you won't enjoy that very much. Not for a few months, anyway, until you get used to the pain and learn to... like it."

Harry shivered at the thought and stood on unsteady legs. Lucius smiled cruelly at him and his sharp blue eyes noted the fact that Harry clutched his hurt hand to his chest protectively.

He motioned a pale hand, gesturing for Harry to come to his side quickly. With faltering, but proud, steps Harry went.

Lucius grabbed his hand cruelly, thumb digging painfully deep into the new wound there. Harry gritted his teeth but did not say a word as he was dragged behind Lucius. Left behind, Morpheus hummed absently to himself as he cleaned the copper blood from his iron rod.

Walking down the hallways, knees trembling slightly from shock, fear, apprehension and something else entirely, Harry studied his current captor's face. It wasn't as sharply angled as his son's was, more rounded and not as fragile seeming. And definitely more masculine than Malfoy Junior's could ever manage; the veela blood, Harry imagined.

Lucius was looking ahead imperiously, trying not to look at his young charge if he could possibly help it. Despite him not wanting to look at the fourteen year old, Harry could sense no animosity for him coming from Lucius. More like the feeling of absent-mindedness as if Lucius hadn't had Harry's hand clutched painfully, he would have forgotten that the Boy Who Lived was currently in his possession.

Harry glanced down at their conjoined hands and noticed that Lucius' hand was now covered almost completely with Harry's blood. Curiously, after the Crucio curse, his hand barely hurt after the first, initial spike of pure agony. I wonder if Morpheus did that on purpose, Harry wondered absently to himself. He seems like he does this too often to have forgotten that Crucio would deaden my nerves. Maybe he just forgot; he does seem odd.

Abruptly, Lucius stopped and turned, pinning Harry against the hard wall. He brought the short boy up until they were eye to eye, his own blue eyes dominating Harry's green. They stood like that for a few moments, neither one doing or saying anything although Lucius seemed to be looking for something in Harry's gaze. His blue eyes narrowed when he didn't find whatever it was.

"So, you're not afraid of me, boy? You will be, soon."

And he dropped Harry back to the ground, his hand still holding Harry's excruciatingly tight. Once again, they began to walk, Harry a bit more disoriented than before.

After a few long minutes, they stopped in front of large, double metal doors with no handles. Lucius tapped on the doors and waited impatiently. Within seconds a figure, shrouded in black, opened the door and let the two in.

Harry's scar, which already hurt, exploded with pain. The reason for it stared at him, distantly amused.

"So, Potter, we meet again. How... pleasant."

Voldemort's voice was just as Harry remembered it: slithery and sibilant, like a snake's. It shivered up Harry's spine and sent cool chills racing across his body.

Before Harry could reply to Voldemort's words, the repulsive man had his wand pointed directly at his chest. He muttered a few words that were indistinguishable and a stream of white light impacted Harry's chest. It spread tingly warmth throughout his body and shot down his legs and through the floor.

"I'm done, Lucius. You may take him away for now, but do not torture him tonight. We must see if the spell will hold, first of all."

Voldemort's slithery words seemed to come from a very long distance. Harry contemplated that thought dreamily as he followed along behind Draco...

No, that man's not Draco Malfoy, Harry told himself sternly, trying to regain control of his thoughts. That's his dad, Lucius Malfoy. Who told you just a few minutes ago that you would be very scared of him, sooner or later. Harry snickered lightly to himself. Most likely later: Merlin knows Malfoy isn't terror inspiring and I'm willing to bet he gets that characteristic from his Dad. Like father, like son.

Lucius glanced down sharply and distastefully at the young boy, obviously disappointed he hadn't gotten the chance to torture the infamous Boy Who Lived. He seemed baffled by Harry's strange behavior, as was Harry himself. He just didn't understand why he felt like laughing at the crack in the wall, even if said crack was shaped in the most interesting way that looked just like Malfoy, Junior, with an egg cracked over his head and a snake biting his nose.

Unintentionally, Harry giggled at the crack in the wall.

Lucius threw a sarcastic look his way, but didn't say a word. Harry followed him, though he had no choice in the matter, still seeing funny things in prosaic objects. He wondered, in the midst of contemplating his shoelace, whether or not Voldemort had used a spell to alter his mind, or something similar.

Right now, I'm not sure I even have a mind, he thought to himself. I'm certainly not using it the way that most do. Well, unless you count Gilderoy Lockheart. I doubt he has a mind to use. He laughed at his thoughts again, and Lucius gave him yet another odd look.

"I'd heard that the binding spell had strange after effects, but this is ridiculous," Harry heard Lucius mutter to himself.

They continued walking down the floor that way, Harry laughing himself hoarse over the slightest thing and Lucius habitually rolling his eyes, not daring to subdue the boy for fear of Voldemort's retribution. Though, maybe a few bruises wouldn't hurt...

No, Lucius shook his head abruptly. Lord Voldemort forbid it. He sighed regretfully. Soon.

They suddenly stopped in front of a dimly lit cell. A man and a woman, both in their late twenties or so, occupied it. They stared at Malfoy and Harry, dull eyes inquisitive. Malfoy sneered contemptuously at them and magicked the door open with a twitch of his wand. He pushed Harry in and closed the door in the space of a few seconds.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Potter. And we'll start those lessons in fear I was telling you about." With that last threatening comment (Which made Harry chuckle like mad, for truly, what could someone who's son turned into a bouncing ferret, do to him?) Malfoy slouched off to the unknown, his pale blond (but yet, not as pale as Malfoy, junior's) shining dimly in the reflected light of the torches' flames.

The other occupants of Harry's new home looked at him curiously, both eyes being a dull mud color.

"Hello, who're you, what'd you do to be here, how'd you get caught and d'you have your wand?" The man asked, all in a breathless stream.

Harry stared at him, the strange effects of whatever spell Voldemort cast on him starting to wear off. "Uh, I'm Harry, I lived, I was walking around and my wand's still locked up with the rest of my magical stuff. That answers your questions, I think."

The woman nudged the man playfully and grinned. "Don't mind Donnelly, Harry. He gets caught up in these things."

The man nudged the woman back playfully. "Like you're one to talk, Sleighly! Don't pay any attention to her, Harry, she's delusional!"

"Uh, I would appreciate knowing your names..." Harry muttered, mainly to himself, but nevertheless his two cellmates heard.

"Oh, so sorry," Donnelly said sheepishly. "I am Rick Donnelly and this," he gestured to the woman with a dramatic arm movement, "is my esteemed colleague, Susan Sleighly. We were caught unawares going back to our flat (we're roommates, y'see) from one of our performances (we're part of the best acting wizard troupe you've ever seen!), when these Death Eaters jumped out from no where and Stunned us!"

"Oh, they did not jump out from nowhere," Susan said indignantly. "Don't pay any attention to him, Harry, he's just too caught up with his acting to actually tell a story without embellishing it until it's barely distinguishable. To be terribly, brutally honest, we were drunk."

Rick squawked with outrage. "I was not! You lie, evil woman!"

"So now I'm an evil woman? Just a few seconds ago, I was your 'esteemed colleague'!"

"Well, things change fast when people show their true colors!"

"Oh, honestly! Do you think you could shut up long enough for me to finish telling our guest the rest of the story?"

Rick subsided, but still glowered at Susan. In the slight lighting, Harry could tell that they were both of average height, and both extremely slender (though Susan had very curvy curves). They both had dark brown hair, and it was impossible to tell the color of their eyes, though they seemed dark.

"Right, where was I?" Susan asked a still silent Harry.

"To be terribly, brutally honest, you were drunk," Harry supplied helpfully.

"Oh, right," Susan beamed. "Yes, we were drunk, I'm ashamed to say. We had just learned that we were getting hired! Our first job! Yes, since officially receiving our license to practice our craft, we had a real, paying job! It was exhilarating news, you just can't imagine!"

"All right, Sleighly, now who's embellishing?" Rick's tone was condescending, but Susan rounded on him with smug superiority.

"I'm not lying, Donnelly. All I said was the complete and utter truth. Now shut up."

Rick glared at Susan, but didn't say anything.

"Right, now that his annoyingness has left us alone, I'll continue with the story. So, we were ecstatic at this prosperous news, of course, and so we went and got drunk, which is what any self-respecting person, wizard or muggle, would do in the event of such a momentous occasion. The problems arose when we were walking home... We don't, by any stretch of the imagination, share a romantic interest, by the way. Rather, we decided to live together to cut down on expenses and because it was easier to collaborate and really, Donnelly had this terrific apartment that I was just dying to move into, only he didn't want any roommates, but he was about to lose it because we really weren't making much in those months, and then I just came up to him and said, 'How 'bout we be roomies, Donnelly? We're always together anyway,' says I. And then Donnelly just agrees and so we've been living together for how long now?"

"Five and half bloody months," Rick growled. "If you wouldn't mind getting back on track Sleighly. I sure would appreciate it, and I'm certain Harry would too, though he being a polite, proper boy, would not presume to say such a thing."

Susan sent a glare Rick's way, but then gave a brilliant smile to Harry. "Right, sorry about that, dear chap. Moving on... We were walking home, singing loudly and off-key (and here Rick did interrupt, claiming that he'd never sung off-key in his life, to which Susan tartly replied that if he truly believed that, he never listened to the memo-ball recordings she'd made of him over the years of all the times he'd gotten drunk), and this tall, dark figure approaches us and stares at us for a few seconds. Then he asks us, in this ridiculous faked voice, I mean, honestly, in the Academy we have to learn how to manipulate our voices much better than that, and you'd think that if someone's going to kidnap you, they'd at least try to disguise their voices a bit better, right? ...Well, he asked us (with that ridiculous voice) what Quidditch was and we were just staring at him like he was bonkers, because really! I mean, who doesn't know what Quidditch is? So anyway, we just start telling him, hand gestures and all, and then Donnelly gets the absolutely brilliant," and here Susan's voice radiated sarcasm in the way only someone trained throughout the course of lifetime to make their voice sound that way can do so, "idea of giving them visual aids, so he whips out his wand and he waves it around, making these illusions in the middle of the street at three in the bloody morning for the sake of a stupid wizard who can't even fake a decent voice and doesn't have enough brains to know what Quidditch is!"

"You weren't too put out by it when I did it. In fact, I seem to remember you helping out a bit with the more mobile parts of the illusion," Rick muttered rebelliously. Susan hushed him.

"Now, I know what you're thinking: how could we not know that the person was a Death Eater? Well, to be perfectly honest, we'd neither of us ever seen a Death Eater before, or even heard of what one looked like. Mind you, we'll not ever have that problem again, but at the time we were bloody drunk and pretty out of it, if you can see this whole stupid mess from our perspectives. So we were just talking Quidditch to the Death Eater, innocent as you please as we cast our illusions, which were pretty damn good (Excuse the language, please, but we're proud of our illusory skills! We graduated top in our class for that subject!), when he motioned to some shadows and they all just jumped at us and then we were Stunned and that's really the last thing I remember. We woke up in this miserable excuse for a dungeon, because really, it doesn't have any spiders or rats or anything like that! No proper dramatic hell at all! Obviously these Death Eaters and that Moldywarts guy (Harry had to choke down a laugh at that one. He'd heard Voldemort's name being spoken with hatred, fear, anger, adoration, respect, derision, and almost every other emotion imaginable; never before had he heard it spoken with complete and utter disrespect and disregard, mixed in with a healthy dose of impetuousness and mockery) everyone seems to be so terrified of have never heard of the proper way to keep kidnapped persons! And we've been here for around three days now, with no visitors or guests to speak of, excepting you of course, dear lad!"

Susan grinned again, her smile irrepressibly cheeky and bright. It invited Harry to share in their experiences, and helplessly he began to laugh.

"There's the spirit, bucko! You've got to laugh at all the misfortunes in your life, else you go mad angsting over it all!" Rick enthused and patted Harry's back gently.

"Donnelly has gotten at least one thing right in his whole miserable career," Susan agreed. She chuckled as well, and winked at Harry. "Now, answer honestly: What do you think of my story-telling abilities? Donnelly thinks I'm utterly hopeless at it!"

Harry chuckled and calmed his breathing. "It's certainly... different." And it had been. Different, but very engaging and Susan's voice had been incredibly expressive, communicating her complete derision and disgust of all things Death Eater or 'Moldywarts'. The brief interruptions of Rick had only added to the storytelling experience and Harry realized that the duo were well rehearsed in working together, to the point where their interaction didn't seem conscious anymore.

"Yes, yes, everyone says that. But is it good?" Susan asked anxiously, her face looking at Harry earnestly.

"It was good," Harry replied, putting the same emphasis on the same word. "Tell me, why don't you guys get out of here?"

For the first time, Rick and Susan looked despondent. "Stupid Death Eaters stole our wands! And besides, there's this spell holding us to the cell; we can't budge from it. Something one of the main Death Eaters laid on us... gloated for hours he did, until Sleighly spat on him." Rick brightened up as he recalled that particular scene, but then his mood soured again. "And there're Anti-Apparation wards everywhere, so we can't just zoom out of here. Ah well, we'll figure out a way, won't we Sleighly?"

And Rick grinned bravely down at Susan. She smiled back up at him, her eyes glinting oddly. "Of course, Donnelly. Don't we always?"

Harry realized then that the jovial act the odd duo had put on for him was just an act, one that was deeply ingrained in them to be sure, but still not real. He supposed that since they were actors, they would be too used to acting to do anything else most of the time, even in desperate situations. He admired how brave they were, how they mocked everything they could. And how they leaned on each other for support.

"So no one's been here to talk to you for the last three days except for the Death Eater?"

Susan shrugged. "Yup. We didn't get lonely though. When we got sick and tired of talking to each other, we just talked to the voices in our heads! Very stimulating conversations." She nodded solemnly, assuming an air of knowledge.

Harry bit his lip. "I'm going to try to get out of here. Do you know how to break the binding spell? I figure we could get out of the Anti-Apparation range and get to Hogsmeade, then over to Hogwarts. Professor Dumbledore's probably looking for me right now, and he'd let you guys stay at Hogwarts for a bit I'm sure."

Susan and Rick looked excited. "Hogwarts? Really? Neither of us got to go there; we're both latecomers to the whole 'magic' thing. We're what are known as late bloomers among the magical community. It takes us a bit longer to show our magical talent and until we do, we're categorized as Squibs. When our magic finally does make its appearance, we're sent off to magic schools of the intensified kind so we can catch up to all you normal magic-makers. We've both been dreaming about seeing Hogwarts for forever! And meeting Albus Dumbledore! Wow!"

Harry laughed slightly at Susan's excited monologue. "Yes, you'll get to see Professor Dumbledore. You'll really like him, he's a great guy."

Rick shook his head lamentably though. "Sorry Harry, but we've already tried every way we knew how to get out of this cell. We just can't though... Merlin knows we've picked the lock so many times, we just can't seem to get over the threshold of the door. You go on without us though; you can go for help and then come back for us, huh?"

Harry shook his head. "I wouldn't make it far. I'm exhausted as it is, and I wouldn't be able to run to the nearest person for help. And I can't Apparate."

Susan looked sharply at him, keen eyes observing his trembling muscles and the slight sheen of sweat on his forehead. "What happened to you Harry?"

Harry shrugged. "I've been hit with a few Crucioes today, and then I got this," he held up his hand, letting the light shine through the hole that was now in it.

Rick paled, then hissed, "Bastards. Those stupid, bigoted, hateful bastards!"

Susan reached out and took Harry's hand. With gentle fingers, she massaged the area around the hole. "Does it still hurt very much?"

Harry shook his head. "No. Morpheus put me under Crucio first. Then he did this. It deadened my nerves, I think, because I barely felt it when it went in and then I didn't feel it at all afterwards."

"It's not so bad Donnelly," Susan murmured absently. "But if this is a sign of things to come for Harry here, he should really get going. Start picking the lock, will you?"

Rick growled assent and stalked over to the cell door. He pulled out a thin metal file from... somewhere and began to play around with the strange locking mechanism on the cell door.

Just as it clicked open, Harry turned to face Susan, white-faced. "Please, I really won't make it out there alone. Won't you try again to break the binding spell? I'll need someone to Apparate me to Hogsmeade, and I don't want to leave you guys here. I don't know what Voldemort will do to you if he finds out you helped me escape."

Susan smiled gently at him. "We can try, Harry, but I don't think it'll work."

"I need help to stand anyway. You can see if you can help me over the threshold and if you can't then I guess we're all stuck here," Harry said, sounding reasonable. In truth, he was a bit afraid of being alone. For the last five days or so, he'd not seen anyone except for himself. Then all of a sudden he was dragged by the odd Morpheus Lestrange for a torture session, threatened by Lucius Malfoy, had a spell cast on him by Voldemort, and had met the interesting pair known as Rick Donnelly and Susan Sleighly. It was almost overwhelming, but then, Harry'd had all too much experience in the overwhelming.

"Hurry up you two, y'never know when a Death Eater's coming your way," Rick urged from his post at the door.

Susan grinned brightly at Harry, the brilliant smile contaminated by the slight tinge of sadness in it. "Come along then, lad, on your feet. If we're to be escaping this sad excuse for a hellhole, we'd better hurry, don't you think?" She supported Harry's weak legs and together, they tottered over to the open door and Rick.

"What's this?" Rick looked curiously at their figures, huddled together.

"We're making a break for it Donnelly. Can't leave young Harry on his lonesome, who knows what trouble he'd get into? Not that I think you're the trouble-making sort, Harry lad. Just that anyone could fall into a nest of problems with old Moldywarts and his Flatulence Farters around."

"I like that, Sleighly. Quite inventive, it is. I heartily approve," Rick said, nodding solemnly though his eyes twinkled suspiciously with laughter.

"Like I depend solely on your approval," Susan snorted indignantly and stuck her nose snootily up in the air. She did, however, seem to glow brighter at his words.

"Right then, so this is going to be a joint escape attempt?" Rick looped his arm through Harry's free one. "That's jolly well fine with me! Come on, kids, lets get a move one, I don't think any of us fancies a longer stay in this stinky place... why, all the Farters will start to poison the air, don't you agree?"

"Whole-heartedly, Donnelly. Let's go then."

And arm in arm, the trio stepped across the doorway... only to have Susan and Rick slammed back inside the cell. Harry was left, standing on severely weak legs, looking at them hopelessly.

"Sorry Harry, I guess the Binding spell didn't just wear off," Susan smiled at Harry comfortingly. "It'll be all right, lad, buck up! All you've got to do is get out of this place, won't take you too long."

"I won't leave without you guys!" Harry protested hotly. "Voldemort will hurt you, I just know it! You've got to come with me now, or else none of us leave at all."

Rick frowned. "Don't be stubborn Harry. You've got a chance to escape, make good on it! Sleighly and I will be fine, we've been in... well, not worse situations, and certainly not ones of equivalent danger, but we've still grown accustomed to being imprisoned. We'll be fine, you go along now."

Harry frowned, his pale face showing stern resolve. "I'm not leaving you and you can't make me leave you. Now come on, we're going to leave this place even if it takes a hundred attempts to break through the binding spell."

Susan sighed and turned to her partner. "I don't think we'll be able to convince him, Donnelly. May as well just go along with what he thinks we should do, hmm? I think it's the best option here."

Rick sighed and looked down at Susan. "I suppose so, Sleighly. All right then, on three! One..."


"Three!" And they charged at the doorway's invisible barrier. Harry watched as they rebounded and landed with slight oomph's on the stone floor.

After the twenty or so repeats of the scene, he sat down, and watched as they ran at the barrier again and again.

"Aren't you getting tired of waiting for us Harry? Maybe you should go on, we'll catch up," Susan suggested helpfully from her uncomfortable spot on the ground.

Harry narrowed his eyes and scowled at her. "I don't think so. C'mon, we're almost there!"

"You're not the one getting banged up," Rick groused, but nonetheless stood again, offering a callused hand to Susan. She took it and they readied themselves for the fling at the invisible wall again.

Harry sighed and closed his eyes, rubbing them wearily. It had been a long day so far, and was only getting worse. When he opened them again, he gasped in shock. The air around Rick and Susan was glowing iridescently. The glow was actually insubstantial ropes, wrapped many times around their bodies and then connected to the cell's far wall. He looked at it, dumb with wonder.

He stood up and walked towards them, ignoring their apprehensive looks at his sudden spellbound state. "Don't... move..." he whispered and reaching behind Rick with a sweeping move disconnected the strands from the walls. When the strands were severed from the wall, they just disappeared into thin air. "Rick, try again to go over the threshold. Without Susan this time."

Rick gave him a doubtful look, but complied and shouted with glee when he actually made it across.

"Hey!" Susan shouted indignantly. "What about me, Harry? I thought you liked me loads better than that lout!"

"Oh, I do," Harry assured her innocently. "I wasn't sure if what I did would work, or hurt, or whatever, so I practiced it out on Rick first. Now I know it's safe for you too."

Susan beamed happily at the appeasing words and ignored the gruesome faces Rick was making at her from his position outside of the cell. "Hurry up and free me too, Harry. We can figure out how you did it later, right?"

"Mmmhmm," Harry agreed as he gently chewed his lip and tried to figure out the exact place that all the strands collected against Susan. With another sudden sweeping motion, he disconnected the invisible strings holding her in place. "Now try, Susan."

Susan strutted across the now non-existent barrier, giving Rick a challenging look that screamed, "Aren't I good? You don't have to admit it; everyone knows."

Rick just smirked, a smirk that replied smugly, "Yes, but you needed a kid to help you out, and anyway, I was out first, which makes me so much better than you."

It was amazing how telling a single facial expression could be. Before they could get as low as grimacing, Harry distracted them. "Don't you think we should be going now?"

"Harry's right, let's get going Donnelly," Susan grabbed one of Harry's arms and supported him, while Rick grabbed the other and together the three of them walked very quickly down the hallways, searching for the way out.

It took them a few minutes to find a door out of the dungeons that they were currently in, and longer still to find stairs going down. But they did find everything they needed to and, within a half hour or so, were standing in front of an open door leading to the outside world.

"Ah, feel the breeze Sleighly?" Rick leaned out slightly and indeed, a wind rustled his hair. Susan leaned out too and sighed.

"It feels so good Donnelly. Let's get going, huh?"

As one, they moved to exit their prison. Only this time, Harry was rebounded back inside.

"No," he whispered. He threw himself at his invisible boundary, fists beating ineffectually at it. "No! No, no, no, no, no, NO!"

And suddenly, Susan's strong arms were wrapped around him and the scent of her shampoo drifted across his face. "Harry! Calm down, lad, calm down. You broke the binding spell on us; you can break it on yourself too. Just. Calm. Down."

"You don't understand, Susan, I can't see the lines! I can't break this spell, I can't see it to break it!" Harry knew, somewhere deep inside that his hysteria wasn't helping anything, but he couldn't fight it back It had been bubbling up ever since he'd been captured five days ago, and now it had reached its culmination. He couldn't keep it back anymore.

And suddenly, it was just... gone. Harry knew, with a sudden still certainty, that he wouldn't be leaving this place anytime soon. Voldemort himself had placed a Binding spell on him; it would not wear off quickly, if at all. "You have to go. Susan, Rick, you have to go now! They'll know by now that we've escaped, and they can't catch all of us, don't you see? They can't. You've got to get to Hogwarts, and tell Dumbledore where I am, and tell all my friends not to worry about me. You have to!"

But Rick was shaking his head slowly, grim resolution in his face. And Susan was looking at him bravely, her smile brilliantly glowing. "We're not leaving you, lad, not when we've already seen what they'll do to you. We've got to at least try to save you. So come on, buck up, and try to break the bloody spell already!"

Harry laughed helplessly at they're combined words. They couldn't understand; Voldemort had cast this spell. It wasn't possible to break it just like that... He needed more power, more training.

He tried, desperately, to tell them that, but they wouldn't listen. They just wouldn't stop encouraging him and in the middle of one of their encouragements, they heard the dreaded voice whisper behind them all, "Stupefy."

And then all any of them knew was darkness.


Harry woke to dim green lights. And the horrific sight of seeing Susan lying prostrated in front of Voldemort's feet, Rick being held barely from her side by three Death Eaters. He groaned, finally feeling the pain of his hand and that of all the Crucioes he'd endured that day.

Voldemort's sharp eyes had been staring at him since the beginning of his awakening. "So, finally decided to join us have you young Potter?"

"No way," Harry distantly heard Rick mutter to himself. "No way is that Harry Potter. Can't be. Just can't."

Harry sent a vague, apologetic look his way. Then he sent a more concerned one to Susan, who wasn't moving at all.

Voldemort noticed where he was looking and laughed nastily. "Yes, that spit fire woke before the rest of you and delighted in insulting me and my loyal followers. She was duly punished, of course."

Harry glared at him. "Why are they here anyway, Voldemort? What do you gain from having them here? Everyone knows that you want to kill me. Get it over with, already, and stop prolonging the torture."

"Ah, but young Potter, I no longer wish to kill you. No, I have other uses for you and your not inconsiderable power. And these two," Voldemort gestured negligently at Rick and Susan, "were just brought here to test you, and also to be used as an example."

A sick feeling grew in the bottom of Harry's stomach. He didn't know for sure what Voldemort spoke of, but he could guess easily. Rick and Susan were going to be tortured horribly in front of him, just to show him what could happen to him, if he didn't follow the rules to Voldemort's liking.

Voldemort seemed to be able to trace the direction of Harry's thoughts, because he smirked and said, "I see you've comprehended my meaning, young Potter. Now, watch," and he leveled his wand at Susan and whispered "Crucio."

Susan screamed.

It was a sound unlike anything Harry had ever heard, full of rage and pain and agony, deep and primal and magnified by a trained singer's voice a thousandfold. It rang down in his bones, reverberating them, rattling them, causing his teeth to clatter. It wrenched something deep inside of him. It was the sound of hurting.

Everything was reduced to that scream, that sound. He didn't hear Rick's desperate shouts, or the Death Eaters' desperate attempts to keep him from Susan. He didn't notice Voldemort's low throaty chuckle of pleasure. All he knew, in that horribly, clarified moment, was that scream.

And then the scream stopped.

Susan breathed raggedly, supporting herself on her arms and knees, her hair a dark curtain hiding her face from the world. She looked up suddenly, her fierce, dark eyes burning into Voldemort's. "Need to work on the power behind it, Moldywarts my boy. It's lacking a bit of oomph." Her voice was uneven, probably because of her hitched breathing, but it was magnificently defiant and alive. Just like her.

"You okay there Sleighly?" Rick's voice was panicked, barely held in control.

"Yeah Donnelly. I'm fine. Just... Peachy," and Susan coughed, a deep hacking cough. She spat out a large wad of something that looked dark and lumpy. "Hah! Never thought it was actually possible to cough up a lung," she muttered to herself.

"Well, now that I've given you a moment's respite, I think it's time for you to get reacquainted with pain. Crucio."

And the scream came back again.

When finally it had stopped, Susan lay, curled in a ball, coughing bone-shaking coughs.

Again, Rick's desperate voice floated above Voldemort's chuckles and those of the Death Eaters. "Sleighly! Susan! You okay over there?"

And Susan responded in a voice that, though it was hoarse, was filled with some indefinable emotion that seemed to hold within it everything that love represented, and comfort and hope too. "Yeah. I'm just fine, Donnelly. And don't you forget it!"
Quieter, so only Harry and the nearby Death Eaters could hear her, she said, "Don't tell him how bad it is, Harry. It would only hurt him."

With great difficulty Harry nodded.

And then Voldemort's whispered Crucio came again, and so did the never-ending scream...

This time Rick really did break from the Death Eaters' grip and charged straight at Voldemort, who looked at him with a grim amusement. He lifted his attention from Susan for a brief second and flicked his wand at the furious man, saying casually, "Avada Kedavra."

The green light shot out from the end of his wand and impacted on Rick's chest. The slight man fell back, face slack with shock.

"Donnelly?" Susan's weak voice whispered the name as a question. Harry closed his eyes to ward off the heart breaking sadness of that question.

"Donnelly? Rick? Rick?! No!" Susan's voice held all the grief that could ever be spoken in the world, all the sorrow and pain that it was possible to feel. "Rick, please no. Please, we lived all those years, just for this time when we were free! You can't leave me, not now! No, not you, Rick don't leave me!"

Harry couldn't disrespect that sadness any longer. He opened his eyes and looked at them, tears springing to his eyes but not falling. Susan was hunched over Rick's still body, her tears like rain on his open face. She was silent for a moment before she finally spoke.

"You bastard," she hissed at Voldemort venomously, her face a mask of rage as she lifted it from Rick's face. "You murderous bastard!" Now it was she who launched herself at the Dark Lord, hoping to cause his death, or at least give him a grievous injury, with the last of her life.

But it was not to be. Voldemort flicked his wand at her again and repeated, as he had only seconds before, "Avada Kedavra."

And Susan Sleighly died, steps away from Voldemort, lying next to her other.

The world became still and chaotic all at once and Harry felt his breath die in his mouth, filling it with a decayed taste. His eyes were dry and he blinked to lubricate them. They ached.

Susan. Rick. God... Susan and RICK. SUSAN and RICK. GOD.

There was a chasm in him, a throbbing difference that ate his insides, leaving him empty, hollowed. He heard, distantly, someone saying in a voice that wasn't at all steady and wasn't at all calm and certainly wasn't happy, but was entirely rageful and sorrowful and everything that made him hurt, and that voice said so angrily and painfully, "Why?"

It was a pathetic question and only laughter greeted it. Harry shook his head at that and looked to see who had spoken, but then realized that the only person who could ever have done that in a room full of Death Eaters was him, and he hadn't remembered saying anything or even being able to speak and he wondered, distantly to himself, what was going on...

That chasm engulfed him, dark and chillingly cold, yet still more inviting than... this. Harry fell into it willingly.

When he woke, it was to the face of Lucius Malfoy. Who looked entirely too happy for anything good to be planned for him.

That suspicion was only confirmed when Lucius silently held up a brown-black whip, immaculately cleaned, and snapped it expertly close to Harry. He tried to fight to get away from the madman's presence, but his whole body was tied together. He couldn't even stand without leaning on the wall.

The first lash caught him on his shoulder, the second on his chest. They hurt less than he'd thought they would, but then, he was probably in shock. And then he wondered just why he'd be in shock and he remembered, and then he wondered why he'd forgotten in the first place, and then what he'd forgotten and in the midst of it all, the whip came down again. Again. And again and again and again and again and again until he couldn't stand it and his eyes rolled back into his head and he fell to the floor, blood staining his clothes and the shoes of Lucius Malfoy.