Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A/N: Consider the following a spiritual successor to my other fic, "Stockholm".
That's the way things go.
All people change as they grow.
I hide in this room.
Let's hope it's not wasted.
Oh it's such a shame.
I look into your eyes
And try not to cry.
This is all I know,
Let's hope it's not wasted.
Oh it's such a shame.
Have you ever watched a metronome tick?
Seriously. Just sat and watched it's arm lull back and forth.
Left to right. Right to left. Left to right.
Tick tick tick.
I'm staring at the bars of this cell and my heart goes tick tick tick. Life moves by at a steady tempo, dribbling away like sand in an hourglass. One grain at a time.
Shame about that girl. Oh it's such a shame.
I have a face only a mother could love. If I still had a mother, she'd probably be a bit put off by my current appearance. She always said tattoos were for sailors and whores. Oh, its such a shame she would say. These damn shackles clash with my striped jumpsuit. My stomach is so distended, I look pregnant. Honestly, its not a good look for me. But you don't seem to mind.
If I still had a father, he'd probably hang his head in shame. Oh, it's such a shame. I'm not unlike those Kwashiorkor bellied African children in the Christmas catalogues; you know the ones where wealthy celebrities beg you for your money, when all the while you know they've got enough to feed an entire third world country for a day. But you still feel so guilty as you take that next bite of turkey dinner. I've forgotten what turkey tastes like. Father used to save me the dark meat.
Back to the metronome. When so much of your time is spent away from the civilized world, you only think in metaphors. A metronome. It's the metaphor that sums up how I feel at the moment. Day in day out, staring at the walls of my cell.
Tick tick tick.
That same rhythm. It's been nearly three years of days lulling in and out. Three years into the reign of Voldemort, now known as the Overlord.
He won. Putting the world on its collective knees bowing at his varicose feet. His first course of action as Overlord? Azkaban for Harry, Ron and I.
And it doesn't stop there. Another bullet point of the checklist for a successful dictatorship is keeping the masses in line. So what does the Dark Lord do?
Each year on the eve celebrating his great victory at Hogwarts, one of 'the light' is publicly put to death in a big celebration in London. Naturally the first Anniversary belonged to Harry, he was stoned to death. Ron was the second; death by hanging.
That was only yesterday.
I was given a front row seat to Ron's final chapter, and his epilogue. That is to say he appeared alive for several minutes after the floor panel gave out below his feet. Executions are the only times I feel actual sunlight on my skin. They even gave me a fancy new set of shackles for the occasion. Now I've got 364 more to go until it's my turn, not sure what I'll be given but it better be good. I'd like to go out with a bang. Firing squad, electrocution, burned alive...something to that effect. I'm tired of having played second fiddle to Ron and Harry for so long. I want nothing less than a spectacle. Harry's fear of death is why we lost the war.
To me, death is just a symptom of the venereal disease that is my life.
Not too many of my old friends are left. Much of the Order was obliterated during the battle of Hogwarts. Ginny killed herself when Harry was executed, throwing herself into the barrage of rocks and she was hit square in the temple by a large stone. Fenrir Greyback mauled Dean Thomas during a riot in Diagon Alley last summer. George insulted Yaxley during Harry's execution. Death by killing curse, he got off easy. Those who are still lucky to have their lives, I'm sure that they live in luxurious squalor. I've heard London's become a shithole.
Hold on to that thought for a minute, its dinnertime.
"Mudgirl, supper!" A prison guard tosses me a plate of shit with a side of more shit. Well, hash and bread, but after being here so long it all tastes like shit. In fact, shit itself might even taste better than this.
"Eat up Mudgirl, you're not looking too well."
Mudgirl. That's what they all like to call me in this wing. The supermax wing. I used to have a different name, but it holds no meaning to me now. I've got a couple other names too, some more colorful than others, but it's been forever since I was called by my old name.
Let me finish my shit, meal, I mean.
Brr. It's cold in here today; I rub my arms for some warmth. It's like rubbing paper against bone. Just a few more hours.
Did I mention I'm more than just a prisoner? This isn't really a cell they've got me in. It's a kennel.
I'm a pet. I'm your pet. You treat me real nice and keep me fed. You comb my hair, keep me clean, and sometimes you even let me sleep in your bed. Your name is Bellatrix Lestrange. I love you and you love me.
But people aren't supposed to know that you say.
Jump back to the first time I'm locked up here.
This is horrendous, horrible, terrible, awful...oh god I'm not sure how I'm going to survive this. My friends are dead, the dark lord won, this is wrong, so so so wrong. It wasn't supposed to happen this way. We hunted the horcruxes, found them all, and destroyed them, where did we go wrong? Oh god, oh god, now he's saying that they are going to put us in Azkaban. They're not going to kill us! It wasn't supposed to happen like this, Harry was supposed to win. Harry, Ron, someone please hold my hand...this is...oh god what's that? I hear laughter; terrible, maniacal laughter. Sweat begins to bead on my forehead as I recognize the source of the mirth amid a mouth full of disgusting teeth. It's you.
Ohgodohgodohgodohgod it's really you. You're going to torture me again; you're going to try to break me. My arm still hasn't healed. You'll kill me this time I know it! I don't know where they're taking Ron and Harry; I may never see them again. What if I die here? What if you really kill me? Ohgodohgod.
You reach out with a finger to trace my jawbone with one of your disgustingly long fingernails. "Oh dear little mud blood, oh what fun we're going to have you and I...girl to girl..."
"Don't you dare touch me!" I snap at you, but you only smile and reach for my hair, twirling a strand around your disgusting finger and bringing it to your nostrils. You inhale deeply and your eyes roll back for a brief second. Disgusting! How perverse!
Oh sweet Merlin you're pressing your body into me. Don't touch me please! You bring your lips to my ears and whisper "Crucio..." And its just pain. Everything goes white and all that there is is pure, unadulterated pain. "Oh my little muddy one, you have to learn to show your mistress respect. Otherwise, well, I suppose it goes without saying...crucio..."
Jump back to the present.
They're opening my cell and one of the guards grabs my chains, dragging me out into the hallway.
"Time for today's orientation Mudgirl. Get a move on." One of the guards says with a smile and he pulls the chain harder and blood rushes to my head as his pulling depresses my carotid artery. My skull has gained ten pounds of pressure. No big. I stumble toward him. "There's a good girl."
I'm pretty popular in this wing. Each cell I pass contains one of my many fans; all eager to see me dragged out yet again. They hurl expletives, spit and other various fluids at me, all in the name of love of course. With Harry and Ron gone, who's left to shoulder the honor of handing the Overlord his victory? Me. That distinction is all mine.
As I speak they're bringing me to the interrogation room. New prisoner orientation. Standard for a weekday. Under the Muggle-born Registration Commission, Azkaban is nearly at capacity, though this is offset by the sheer magnitude of deaths occurring daily. Dementors are good for that.
Often they haul in suspected resistance members, the Overlord is so paranoid, and they'll bring me in as a demoralizer. Think you're so strong, so special? They'll joke in a derisive tone. Most people cower in fear, (that's the right thing to do) but some stand their ground and fight back. It's when they've got someone like that they bring me in. Look at your precious Hermione Granger, they'll say; we've had her for more than three years now.
That's my cue, and I feign weakness as they drag me across the floor. A punch here, a kick there usually does the trick, breaking everyone's spirits. They've since abandoned using the cruciatus curse; I've been tortured by it so much, I practically get off on the feeling now. Not quite the effect they want to go for.
But masochism is an asset in Azkaban.
Sometimes they'll haul in a person of interest, usually one of the friends of Harry, the boy who lived but is now dead. Then they bring in the Inquisitor. You stride in the room like you own the place, and you do what you do best; torture. I'll watch the macabre display from the corner, and I get jealous if the prisoner gets too much of your time. The word crucio when it slips from your lips is like music. I love it whenever you whisper it in my ears. My toes will curl like lace. Sometimes you'll look back at me over your shoulder, and I can only smile.
The guards are shouting at today's prisoner. "Think you're so great eh?" Oh shit I'm going to miss my cue. The guard chokes up on my chains. "We've got what's left of your precious golden trio here...been here for years now. Give up, resistance is futile!" I'm being dragged along the floor by the neck, and we stop in the shadows.
"'Zere 'eez no resistance! You must believe me!"
I've heard that French lilt somewhere before.
"Shut up. Comply and there will be no need to call in the Inquisitor." Pretty boy Draco Malfoy says in that obnoxious drawl of his. The Dark Lord wins and Draco is given the glamorous title of warden. Back when I was younger I'd say that Draco would totally end up in Azkaban, but this isn't quite what I meant by that at the time.
"I am speaking 'zee truth! 'Zese accusations against me are false!"
"You've been charged with conspiracy. Not a light sentence might I add? Just tell me what I want to know. Where is the resistance meeting?"
"No where! 'Zere 'eez nuzzing!" She's becoming frenzied; her blonde hair is flying in all directions. But I know her. I do. My skin scrapes on the concrete and I leave a bloody snail trail as the guard drags me in front of her. The spotlight is on me now and her pretty face goes wide as she recognizes me instantly. "'Ermione! You are alive!"
I'm suddenly taken back.
"Eat 'Ermione. You must eat. Your strength 'eez nearly gone.". Fleur is sitting at the edge of my bed with a bowl of soup clutched in her hands. Her tender blue eyes are scanning my battered body. Gently she places my bowl of soup on the nightstand next to my head and she reaches for my right arm. It stings as she lifts it and begins to remove the bandage on it. "I just want to check 'eet ma puce. 'Old still for un moment."
My throat is hoarse, and I am cotton mouthed, that could only mean one thing. "I was up screaming again wasn't I?" Fleur could only give a small nod. It had only been four days since we escaped Malfoy Manor, and still I relive each minute vividly in my dreams at night. The ghostly twinge of the knife still lingers on the skin of my neck.
"'Arry and Ron 'ave been worried about you. 'Arry 'eez eager to continue 'zee 'unt for 'zee 'orcruxes, but 'e cannot do 'eet wizout you."
I struggle to sit upright, and she helps to ease me up against the headboard. I reach for the soup and set the bowl gently on my lap. It's a simple broth with some chicken and vegetables, and with a shaking hand I bring the spoon to my lips. The meager nourishment is felt instantly as it fills my stomach. I shoot her a grateful look. "Thank you Fleur."
"'Eet 'eez no trouble...really. 'Zings are about to get very difficult for you non?"
I can only nod.
Fleur is screaming now, trying to get me out of my daydream. I shake my head and one of the guards gets me in the jaw with his fist. There are several more encores, including an appearance by a boot to the head. Warm blood dribbles down my forehead.
Unsettled by the sight of a fully-grown man beating an emaciated woman, Fleur is positively writhing against her bonds. "Stop, stop!" Fleur starts to sob, as if her boo-hooing is going to get her out of this.
"Mudgirl!" He snaps at me, and I struggle to look up through the film that's coated my eyes. "You know this woman?"
How should I know, I've been here three years, but she looks sort of familiar, I say. A mouthful of blood isn't the best for a reunion either, but I give her the best smile I can.
Fleur cries out once more. Crying even louder now and fat tears run down the slope of her perfect face and dribble from the tip of her perfect nose. I wish she'd shut up already.
At that moment snatchers drag in another body, and he too, looks familiar somehow. A tall lanky guy with beaver teeth. He's covered in a leopard print of bruises, complete with blood stripes.
"Hermione! Hermione!" The guy is yelling at me, and the snatcher holding him up punches him in the gut. He makes a hyruk sound like someone corked his throat.
"This is a wily one here. Caught the both of them conspiring in Diagon Alley. Puttin' up flyers with Mudgirl's face on it." He pulls one of the offending flyers from his trench coat pocket and passes it to Draco. In big bold letters it says BELIEVE. It's me, but younger me. Pre-Azkaban me. A naive me still clinging to a shred of hope that this all might've turned out differently. She's an idiot. And just who is this guy to put my face on everything?
What? Why? I cry out, and the bloodied guy looks at me like I have twenty heads. I don't want people seeing my face! My face is mine!
Draco shrugs. "Reckon they see her as a sort of symbol."
Fuck them if they're using me as a symbol without my permission.
"Hermione!" The guy is calling out to me again. "It's me!"
The snatcher yanks my chain (haha) hard, causing me to fall onto my knees. "How does this bloke know you Mudgirl?" I clamp my mouth shut. Fuck him for using my likeness on flyers. I sneer at him with my red teeth. Draco prepares to speak before someone enters...
"Dear Neville Longbottom." In you walk. Clip clop, clip clop, clip clop go your heels in a mesmerizing staccato rhythm. My breath catches and your eyes meet mine for the briefest of seconds before you fire the cruciatus curse at him. Screams ricochet against the dripping walls of this room as Neville (now I remember him) is twitching with his beaver teeth bared.
"Feels good doesn't it? Justice." You linger on the soft c of the word. "My, my, its been a while since I've seen you last!"
"Bellatrix." He says, his head and neck flaccid on his shoulders. Your name doesn't sound good when he says it. I watch you circle him predatory like from my darkened corner.
"Tsk tsk. Not exactly how I planned our reunion, Longbottom. You know why you're here don't you wastrel?" You say.
"I was unaware that I had broken any laws." He says.
"The Dark Lord frowns upon vandalism...shan't be sullying the landscape now should we?" Your plump mouth forms a pout and you tilt your head slightly to the left. It's adorable.
"Zut alors! What landscape!" Fleur shouts. "'Zee city 'eez 'een ruins. Garbage everywhere. People live in squalor! 'Zee Dark Lord cares not for 'is people!"
"You dare to speak to me when I don't remember asking your opinion! Crucio!" You scream and with a ridiculous flourish, strike Fleur with the curse. "You'll both tell me what it is that you're plotting...lest you'll end up like dear old mum and dad." You wink at him and Neville blanches with his Adams apple quivering in his throat. You start your inquisition.
Your toddler-like interrogation methods leave much to be desired. A toddler loses its favorite toy and the only way it knows to get the toy back is to throw a tantrum. Parents relent because they want the kid to shut the hell up. It learns how to get what it wants. There is a fundamental difference however. Whenever you, Bellatrix Black-Lestrange, throw a tantrum, people die.
Fleur and Neville play the parents for the next twenty minutes. Fleur passes out, and Neville stays tightlipped through the whole ordeal. To revisit the toddler metaphor, you've worn yourself out.
"Draco!" You snap and he runs to you with his tail between his legs.
"Y-yes Aunt Bellatrix?"
"Take these two to Cell block D. I grow weary of them." You stifle a yawn. "Perhaps I shall deal with them in the morning." You make to leave and as you enter my corner, a single fingertip gazes the edge of my chin. Then you're gone.
"You heard her!" Draco shouts at the guards. "Take the new prisoners to Cell Block D, and put the mud blood away."
A/N 2: Lyrics at the top from the song, "Oh it's Such a Shame" by the late, great Jay Reatard.