Disclaimer: JKR wrote the books.

A/N: This is also a chapter in my other series of drabbles/short stories, In Passing. It just fits better here.


Pansy, Seventh Year

I shut the door as quietly as possible, holding my breath, wincing as the hinges creak softly. To my relief, none of the other girls awaken. I lock the door securely (hopefully, no one will Alohomora it in a fit of anger) and breathe again gratefully. It's nearly three in the morning and I'm the only one awake in the castle as far as I know.

I walk slowly to the mirror in the little lavatory, loathe to see my face, yet morbidly curious. What marks has he left this time? And are they somewhere noticeable? Not that it would matter. Slytherins don't ask for help. Even when their best friends break them beyond repair. Even if I weren't a Slytherin, I'd still be a Parkinson. And Parkinsons hate help even more than the average Slytherin.

I close my eyes as I reach the mirror and grip the sink for support - just in case. Then, steeling myself, I open my eyes and stare straight into the looking glass, my jaw set.

It's okay. No bruises on my neck or face. I breathe out through pursed lips, reassured. No one will know. I am safe. Vincent is safe.

Now for the harder part. The scarier part. I pull my long-sleeved green shirt over my head, leaving me clad in a silvery tank top and long black pants. I used to wear nightgowns to bed. In fourth year, Vincent started getting angrier than he once was, and jealous. That was the year I started wearing less revealing clothes, for safety's sake.

Looking at myself, I am glad for the heavy Hogwarts uniform that hides me during the day. I can see his handprints on my upper arms, from when he shook me this morning. I can still feel the way my teeth rattled, the way my bones jarred, the way my neck snapped back. In the middle of my forearms there are more handprints. He grabbed me and squeezed, hard, when he found me skipping Herbology. I left him alone with Gregory and Daphne, he said, and that was mean. That was unfair of me. I deserved what I got.

There are other bruises running along my skin as well, ones I forgot about. I don't usually remember why he gives them to me, not for very long. Mottled patterns of purple, green, yellow, and red streak my arms. The colors swirl amongst each other, and I am detached enough from myself that I can see the artistic beauty of them. I spend a moment admiring the abstract pictures, but eventually I drag my gaze away from the discolorations and lift my shirt up halfway to examine the rest of my torso. Unsurprisingly, there is a large patch of black and blue in the middle of my stomach. He punched me, three times in a row. Fast, hard punches. I think I told him to go to hell yesterday. Yes, that's probably what happened. Sometimes he laughs at my sarcasm and venom; other times, he... doesn't.

I turn to look at my back. There is a burn mark on my spine and a long, thick, raised scar on the left side of the small of my back. The burn is from last week, in Charms, when I partnered with Daphne Greengrass, leaving him with Gregory. Draco, obviously, isn't at Hogwarts this year, which is a shame. He was the one who could almost control Vincent. The two usually would partner in our classes, and it would be me and Daphne. Gregory was often left with Edwin or even someone from a different House.

I tear my eyes away from the mirror and then force my feet to take me to the exit as I put on my shirt. But somehow I can't make myself go into the dormitory yet. Instead, I sink to the floor, my back against the door. I wrap my arms around my legs and rest my forehead on my knees. My thoughts turn quickly to Vincent, and I allow myself a few minutes to brood. Even though I hate how it feels, I know why he does this to me. It's for the same reason I used to spend the night with Draco, the same reason Daphne drowns herself in firewhiskey, the same reason Gregory stopped writing to his parents. The four of us, we're the only ones left in this place who can't hate the Carrows or, at the very least, get angry at the Gryffindors who arouse their wrath. We're the only ones who can't love each other or anyone else. We can't feel anything. We are the cold, numb, empty shells who walk the school looking for fire. We are the jaded liars who settle for cheap imitations of anger and joy, waiting for something to bring us to life.

Someone knocks on the door, startling me badly. My heart pounds fiercely for an instant as I get to my feet and open the door. Daphne is there, her hand raised to knock again. She lowers it and, without a word, we pass each other. The door clicks shut behind her and I stand still for a brief moment before returning to my bed. Maybe tonight I'll dream.