He remembers the Dursleys taking him to the beach only once. He's six years old and thinks he's covered in mud but it's only wet sand. A little further off Dudley flounders in the ocean, while Harry piles the lumps of sand on his skinny knees, lies down and piles some more on his chest. He wriggles a little and smiles at the feeling of the grains trickling inside his belly button. Time passes in a haze while the clouds rush past and he's so cold and wet and happy; the palest thing under the sun. Someone shouts, "Filthy!" And it's Vernon who's hauling him up.

Later, Petunia rubs him furiously with the towel, so hard that he thinks the skin might come off and it's almost like having a fussy mother. Nice, Harry thinks, because the attention's on him right now and only him. He spreads his legs a little wider and spreads his arms for a balanced stance while Petunia mutters under her breath and calls him "filthy." He so badly wants to say, "I know, Mom."

They only took him to the beach once.

Somehow though, as Harry lies there on the bed, chest heaving but settling down, strands of her dark curls wrapped around him, and sweat slipping between them, he feels like he's back in that wet sand. Everything is dark, everything is dirty, everything is wet. When he moves inside her again so hard, and she whispers, "So soon?" He can see those clouds again, and Petunia hissing in his ear, "Filthy!"

He only ever called her 'mother' once.

Bellatrix groans underneath him, her nails sinking into his flesh, and pulls herself up just a little to push up against his chest. He sinks deeper – quicksand – and there's no way to climb out. The hole he's dug for himself begins to crumble on all sides and all he can do is dig some more. Things get darker, and there's so much sand sticking to him.

Bellatrix rubs furiously against him. He collapses just to stop her moving, he needs to stay dirty a little longer. He keeps the rhythm, and then goes faster. She cries out, pained, but catches up. He moves so fast he's trying to leave her behind. She begins to laugh, but he presses his mouth on hers and now that's moving furiously as well. She kisses back and there's a hum in the air but the air soon leaves and she begins to panic.

He can't see anything. It's more than just his knees that are covered, or his chest. Dudley giggles in that six year-old way while he presses his palm against Harry's forehead, forcing it down. Harry watches the clouds, not bothered by the sand on his throat, trickling into his eyes. His vision disappears and there's no more sky.

He only ever went to the beach once.

She grows still and he releases her from his mouth. Gazes at her, then slips out. There's a tight pull but then he's free. He gets to his feet. Starts pulling on his shirt, pants, tie –


She's on him, clawing at his eyes, screaming and shouting curses and he feels the sting though her wand is on the other side of the room. Her hands pull hard at the tie around his neck. He chokes, falls to the floor, and grows hot.

He can see the sun, he see the clouds, he can see the ocean he's never touched, and the sand he felt so intimately. He leans against her bare knee, rubbing his head a little between her thighs while she pulls tighter and tighter and tighter…

One hour later…

"This is definitely not the most conventional relationship I've been in." Bellatrix looked around the room, idly taking note of all the creative tools they'd used to try to kill each other with.

Harry shifted a bit to look up at her, his chin nestled comfortably on her stomach. Around his neck the tie hung limply. "I didn't know we were calling it a relationship."

"Is there a better word you'd like to use?"

"I don't think what we have is something that can be summed up in just one word."

Bellatrix nodded thoughtfully. "How about… Hellatrix?"

His feet sink. The grains tickle the soles of his feet as they're swept back into the tide. Bellatrix hovers over his shoulder, breathing down his neck, always taller than him. If he never looks at her, he can imagine Sirius beside him. And it's almost his voice that talks to him.

"Why here?"

"Because." If he squints hard he can see Dudley floundering in the ocean, and Petunia's voice caught in the wind, and feel Vernon's rough beefy hand clenched tight on his arm. "This is where I am." Stuck. Sinking. No more than wet grains of filthy sand.