Whenever I write a fic it has a 'soundtrack' that goes with it.
"Your childhood home is just powder white bones,
and you'll never find your way back.
And when you're gone will they say your name?
And when you're gone will they love you the same?
If not, that's okay."
- "That's Okay" by The Hush Sound
The sound of distant, rushing water pervaded Hermione's ears, barely managing to drown out a strange, high-pitched squeal, that squeal's source being somewhere in her own head. The air was heavy and damp, smelling of salt. It was pleasantly warm, but a feeling of being chilled set in with unnatural speed. She was somewhere by the sea… but the sand under her felt gritty and irritating, the mild air pierced her clothes, which having been soaked by the surf, were dripping wet.
On top of the waves and piercing sound there was the sound of someone sobbing and another person speaking frantically in a low voice, worried and angry. She tried to speak, to ask for silence, but all that came out was a pitiful, broken sounded moan. She realized it was her crying. From the distance the voice of Bill Weasley floated her, calling for his youngest brother. A moment later she was hoisted away from the ground and out of the sand, her clothes clinging to her, drenched from the sea water she had been laying in.
The pain from the motion was immediate. It attacked her entire body, her head felt like it was exploding, her joints ripping apart. Her muscles seized together and for a moment she found her voice, giving an anguished scream before she was overwhelmed by the agony, before her world crashed into utter, tormented darkness.
Ron landed on the ground in a heap, his limbs landing awkwardly beneath him. His arms, however, were empty. Having departed the Malfoy Manor with Hermione firmly encased in them, his heart began to beat rapidly and he rolled himself onto all fours to look for her. As he spit sand from his mouth, he managed to locate her crumpled form lying on its side about five feet along the beach. The water lapped gently at her motionless body. A lump formed in his throat. Next to him Harry was cradling the bloodied form of Dobby, muttering despairingly. The nervous pangs he had felt since being taken by the Snatchers, having turned into a feeling of rage at the Malfoy Manor, resurfaced and seemed to assault his lungs. His heart raced as he clambered to Hermione. He found it hard to breathe.
She was crying, whether she realized it or not, and when Ron tried to roll her onto her back she whimpered. Her body was convulsing harshly. The weeping issuing from her caused Ron to clench his fists, he felt his ears burning, and he longed for something to punch. For a fleeting moment he considered returning to the Manor… In the blink of an eye he could be gone, and for several moments he considered all the ways he would like to torture Bellatrix Lestrange.
"RON!" came the bellow from the gate of Shell Cottage. Unclenching his tightly formed fists, tearing his mind from murderous thoughts, he turned and saw his brother Bill barreling through the gate. Gritting his teeth he scooped Hermione into his arms as gently as he could and stood.
The resulting scream startled him so much for a second he thought he might drop her. Thankfully, he was able to clutch onto her tightly, for only a moment later Hermione's entire body seemed to go absolutely rigid, her muscles quivering.
Fleur had appeared directly behind Bill and was now racing through the gate as well, her face painted with alarm.
"Hermione…" Ron croaked when Bill drew close enough to hear him. The eldest Weasley brother surveyed Hermione grimly, his mouth set in a thin line.
"She's been tortured." He muttered, his tone hushed and appalled.
"Bellatrix. Crucio." Ron spat in response. Fleur had reached them, her face twisted with concern.
"Bring her in, Ron," she stammered, turning and beginning to race back to the house. "To the spare bedroom."
Ron turned expectantly to Bill, who was now looking to the others who had been saved by Dobby. Ollivander was being tended to by Luna and Dean, who both looked shaken but otherwise unharmed. Griphook was standing over Harry's shoulder, observing the dead House Elf. Bill glanced at Ron for a moment, his expression melting into pity.
"I don't know, Ron…" he said, answering the question Ron hadn't been able to bring himself to ask. Working as a Curse Breaker, Bill had seen the extent of damage that could be done by even the simplest of spells. "We'll talk." He murmured after a moment. As Ron walked quickly to the cottage, he could hear Bill addressing the other members of the group behind him.
Only when he had walked through the threshold of Shell Cottage did Ron look at Hermione. Her face was covered in sand and blood. Her tears had cut tracks through them. Her expression was a mutated mask of despair and pain. Her hand were clenched into fists, the knuckles white. Her bottom lip had bloody bite marks in it from where she had attempted to clench her mouth shut.
"Hurry, Ron," Fleur chastised, having come down the stairs. "Her arm is bleeding."
"What?" Ron asked, stunned. He had seen the wound on her neck, but missed the one on her arm. He quickly moved to the stairs and followed Fleur to the spare room, where had had, only months ago, stayed after abandoning Hermione and Harry.
Fleur quickly stripped off Hermione's jacket, at the same time instructing Ron to hold a piece of gauze to the girl's throat.
With the jacket gone, and her arm bared, it became apparent just how much blood she was losing. Ron heard Fleur mutter the word "scourgify," siphoning some of the blood away from the marks on Hermione's forearm.
The blood disappeared only for a moment, for the wounds were bleeding profusely and would not be staunched on their own, but the moment was long enough for both Fleur and Ron to read what had been carved in large, harsh letters into Hermione's arm.
Ron stared at the mark for only a minute, an eerie silence settled over the room as Fleur began to wrap a bandage around the word. Ron's ears turned a flaming shade of red, pure rage bubbled to the surface.
"Excuse me." He whispered.
He was as far as the bottom of the stairs when the anger exploded. He punched the wall twice, bellowing ferociously. Through the window he saw Bill look towards the house, confused.
Distracted, he accidentally put his hand through the window.
After realizing what he had done, he swore before sinking to the ground, cradling his now bleeding hand.