Song for this chapter: No One Would Riot For Less by Bright Eyes
I'd known there were risks long before going on this journey with Harry and Ron. I'd known there were risks simply being a friend to either of them. That had been clear from that first night so long ago with that bloody three headed dog, but I had never quite calculated for something like this.
The day hadn't seemed all that important at the start; just another day in the tent really. And even when Harry had spoken that name, and invoked the taboo, still I hadn't realized just how much danger we found ourselves in. Snatchers are a danger, and I knew that, but I hadn't thought of the danger I might be in. I was so concerned for Harry, with his terribly familiar face. So while I still had my wand I had done what I could to hide his identity. If only I had taken the chance to conceal my own, or even Ron's, though it seems to have been my face that gave us away.
There is no quick thinking to get yourself out of the way you look. Perhaps it was my hair that had done it, I don't know, but something had tipped me away to them, and now I find myself here. Of all the places they could of taken us, we were brought to Malfoy Manor. I want desperately not to be bitter, but it is just so difficult to stiffen my upper lip when I think that I am within the clutches of Bellatrix Lestrange and Harry and Ron are in the basement as safe as they can be in the situation we find ourselves in.
Safety. It's a tricky notion. There are many places people might think they are safe, but I have no compunction about the place I find myself now. If I didn't already know how unsafe I was, the feeling of my hair detaching from the scalp as it twisted in Bellatrix's hand would have told me. I gathered everything in me to keep from crying out in pain and fear as she turned my neck round so I had to look at her, with her face mere inches away from mine.
"Where did you get the sword, you filthy little mudblood?" she hissed into my face, and I jerked back when her spittle hit my cheeks, further inflaming my scalp when more hair was torn free.
"I-I-I," I stammered my sudden fear making it nearly impossible to form any real sort of sentence. "W-we didn't…"
Again my fear spiked when I saw rage flare to life in her eyes and she threw me away from her. With my body sprawled out on the floor with her towering over me I felt more fear than I had felt while being bound to Harry and Ron, even more than when Greyback's overly warm and dirty hands were on my body. Either time I could have been harmed, but nothing set my very soul shivering more than the murderous look in the eyes of the woman above me.
"That sword is supposed to be in my vault, how did you get it?" she sneered, leaning over me and pressing her wand to my throat.
"I-it isn't your sword," I lied.
"Liar!" she shrieked, and the tip of her wand dug painful into my throat as she jerked erratically. "Crucio!"
The world around me erupted into bright white pain. It was like nothing I had ever felt before. Every nerve in my body was screaming. I was vaguely aware of the sensation that must mean I was bucking against the pain, but I couldn't control my body. I couldn't open my eyes to even see what my body was doing. I only screamed. I screamed and screamed until my throat was raw from it, and then suddenly there was nothing. The pain receded and I fell silent. Blearily I opened my eyes and I saw that Bellatrix was crouched over me now. Through muffled hearing I thought I could hear Ron calling out for me from somewhere.
"I'll give you another chance now to tell the truth you little tramp," she hissed at me. "Where did you get it?"
"N-no," I stuttered, knowing that I couldn't tell her where it had come from, and that I was going to be tortured again for failing to do so.
"Crucio," she screamed.
I thought in those few moments that she held her wand over me that I might know what it felt like to die. After everything we had already seen in this war, to feel this, I thought maybe I might even want to die. It was agony. It was beyond anything I could hope to endure, and just when I thought surely I would lose my mind from the sensation of it she lifted the curse and I was left panting. She was so close to me now, leaning with one of her legs between mine, and her hands planted on either side of my head. It was such a strangely intimate position to find myself in when this woman was likely to kill me.
"If you want to live you will tell me where you got this sword you nasty little insect," she whispered darkly.
"We, we found it," I panted, and though I was lying it was impossible to determine any nerves in my voices due to my lack of breath.
"I know you are lying," she scathed raising her wand again. "You have been inside my vault, and I want to know what else you've taken!"
I knew she was going to cast the curse again. I could tell from the way she held her arm, and the tensing of her lips. There was no hope of escape and yet I was desperate not to feel that pain again. So I tried to run from her. She was hovering over me so it was difficult to move, but I managed to scuttle backward a few feet before she registered what I was doing. When she lunged for me I rolled onto my stomach hoping to protect my more vulnerable side. She snatched up my hair once more and pulled me up so my spine and neck were arched painfully. I could feel her wand pressing into my lower back as she leaned up to hiss in my ear.
"You think you can run from me you mudblood bitch?" her voice lashed out like an actual fist and assaulted my ears. "Corpus Inflamarae!"
The second her curse was cast I knew what it was to be in hell. A pain worse than anything I had experiences yet erupted in my back and it did not stop. If I were to try and compare this pain to the pain of the cruciatus I would call it a red pain. It was so hot. I pulled air desperately into my lungs to feed the screams issuing from my chest and I understood. I could smell my own burning flesh and it sickened me almost as much as it pained me.
Unlike the cruciatus, it did not lift when she drew her wand away from me. My body continued to burn when she moved above me. She released my hair only to throw my bodily back onto my back and I could not help but shriek at the increased agony of my back pressing into the hardwood floor. In my frazzled and pain wrought mind I could not find a word to describe the sounds that were issuing from my body. Screaming did not even being to cover it, and yet whatever the sound was that I was making, it did not do anything to expel the pain I was in.
"One last chance," she sneered over the noise I was making. "You tell me now, and I won't put my dagger through your heart."
I could hardly care for her knife, if she even had one, over the terrible burning pain but I knew I would have to say something to convince her now. If I didn't, she would kill me, and then Ron would take my place. My eyes flickered shut even trying to comprehend his piercing blue eyes watering while he was being tortured. No, I couldn't let that happen, I needed a plan. I tried desperately to think beyond the pain, but nothing intelligent came to me.
"It… It is a copy," I panted at last, offering up the only feeble lie I could think of. "It is not real."
"Finite incantatem," she said under her breath, and I could tell that the spell had ended, though my flesh burned on in agony as she leaned down to whisper into my ear once more. "You wouldn't be lying now would you?"
"No, I swear it," I promised her desperately, hoping she would believe it.
"There is one way we can know for sure," she said with hitched breath. "Someone fetch the goblin."
I had momentarily forgotten that there were other people in the room with us. I let my head roll to the side, turning away from Bellatrix, and I found myself looking into the expressionless eyes of Narcissa Malfoy. I almost laughed at the possessive and protective way she clutch at Draco's shoulder. As if I could somehow hurt him from my prone position on the floor.
The tiny puff of air from my chest when I had almost laughed drew Bellatrix and her attentions back to me. I felt a searing pain in my shoulder and I whimpered. I didn't dare look back to her as she hummed to herself where she was crouched over me. I didn't want to see her face as she was doing what she was doing. I knew instinctively without turning that she had begun to carve into my shoulder with her dagger. I could tell through the pain that she was dragging the blade as if it were a paint brush, as if she were creating art on me.
So instead I looked ahead of me. My vision was blurred as tears fell freely from my eyes onto the floor but I could see well enough. I saw Narcissa pull Draco behind her, and her impassive face ripple with some emotion as she looked on. Then I understood. She wasn't trying to protect Draco from me, but from what was happening to me. I might have taken the time to think it was sweet, but I was in too much pain. I could vaguely register that my clothes were soaking through with blood as Bellatrix continued to cut me at random.
I felt powerless. I felt like a victim meant only to experience pain. I felt rage. And so as his aunt sliced my skin open and brought my blood out onto the floor of his home I stared into the pale face of a boy who had once been my classmate. It brought me a sickening pleasure to see how a light sheen of sweat had broken out on his forehead and he looked as if he may be ill. I wanted him to suffer with me. If I had to go to hell, then I wanted him to come with me.
The goblin appeared at Bellatrix was drawn away from me to question him. It would have been the perfect opportunity to attempt some sort of escape, but I could not move. I was paralyzed by the way my limbs still shook from the cruciatus. I was pinned to the ground by the burning flesh that ached on even after the fire had left. I felt weighted down with the blood that coated my skin, soaked into my clothing. Somehow Bellatrix must have known that I would not move from the pool that had been created by my blood and tears.
I could still hear Ron off somewhere, but his voice seemed fainter, or perhaps my hearing was beginning to fade. I was aware that Bellatrix was questioning the Goblin but I couldn't focus enough to listen for it he would uphold my lie. All I could do was try to keep from screaming out at the pain that went on. My muscles locked down and a grunting scream burst from my throat when for some reason I could not understand I was thrust under the cruciatus again. I couldn't fathom why it was happening. Surely she didn't think she could torture something out of the goblin by attacking me? He didn't know me from Eve.
The spell held for so long that when it broke I could not see. I could scarcely breathe. I lay in a pool of my own blood panting, vaguely aware of pain in my arm. I thought perhaps it had been broken, but when I focused further I realized I recognized the sensation of her knife cutting through my skin. I kept my eyes closed tight and prayed for and end that didn't come. Instead only my sense came to me, and that was a much worse punishment. My sight returned, my hearing cleared a bit, and I could feel my body more than I had in the wake of the curse. It only brought more pain.
"And now we may call the Dark Lord," I heard Bellatrix say. "I suppose it doesn't matter if we kill the mudblood. You may have her if you like Greyback."
I heard a voice I would know anywhere scream no and the world seemed to slow down. I turned bleary eyes toward the stairs I knew went to the basement and I saw a head of flaming red hair. Ron came storming up the stairs with Harry in tow and I felt a flicker of terror. They would be tortured too! Before I could so much as tell them to run my world erupted into pain once more and everything shifted until I found myself on my feet. My back was pressed against Bellatrix's chest, exacerbating my burns, and her knife was pressed to my throat.
"Stop or I kill her," she shouted, and her knife pressed tighter to my windpipe.
I didn't move. I scarcely dared to breathe. The room was so silent that I could hear the soft pitter-patter of my blood dripping onto the floor. My body was sagging against her arm, but she held me tightly. If it were not for Bellatrix I was sure that I would topple back onto the floor. I couldn't even bring myself to try and look at Harry and Ron, I just let my eyes drift closed and I wished that I was anywhere but here.
"Drop your wands," she commanded, and I heard the distinct clatter of twin rods of wood hitting the floor.
I wanted to scream at them to just run. I wanted them to leave me here and to save themselves, but I knew they wouldn't. I felt it in my heart that I was going to pass on, and that they were going to be left on their own anyway, they may as well pull a runner now. But they didn't. I wrenched my eyes open and I watch as the stood still and refused to give in to Bellatrix's demands. I didn't understand why they seemed so confident.
Then I heard it. The gentle squeaking sound coming from above me. I tilted me head, hissing in pain when the knife pressed to my throat dug in, and I saw that the chandelier adorned with diamonds above our heads was swinging dangerously. I hardly had time to take it in and then it was falling. Bellatrix pushed me away from her and I crumpled to the ground, screaming out in agony once more when my injuries slamming into the ground, and then the wrought iron chandelier landed on top of me. I heard a snapping sound, and I thought it must be a bone breaking, but I did not feel the accompanying pain. I wondered if it had been me or perhaps the Goblin.
Everything hurt, and I wished desperately to be gone, to disappear. I felt the weight of the chandelier being lifted off of me and my screams turned into whimpers. I felt arms wrap around me and new tears started to fall from my eyes. I began to pray that I could be anywhere else. I didn't care where I went I just wanted to leave this place. The arms holding me twisted and a great pleasure was applied to my body. I let loose with an unearthly wail I pulled away from my attacker. My stomach plunged and my very being seemed to twist in a strange twirling sensation. For a moment I felt as if a gentle breeze had blown across my skin, and then it felt as if I were floating.
For a second I was sure that I had died, but then with a strange swooping in my chest I felt my body come in contact with a wooden floor once more. The light beyond my lids seemed to be much brighter suddenly and I forced my eyes to open to see the cause. My breath caught in my chest when I found myself lying on a twisted and dilapidated boat dock. I looked down at my body in confusion and found that I had no injuries and I was wrapped in a white dress. I felt a weight in my hair that was no longer dripping with my own blood and I knew instinctively that it was some sort of crown. My fingers crawled into my hair to confirm it while I looked around trying to understand what sort of world I found myself in.
There was no color here. I was lying upon grey wood that was half submerged in places by grey water. There was a grey sky broken only by the empty door frame I saw before me, and the launching spot I saw off in the distance. My body felt almost blissful in the absence of my injuries, but I did not feel safe in this new place. My soul told me that this place was wrong, that I didn't belong her. Just looking at my body, the only thing with a bit of color to it here in this world, told me I shouldn't be here. Whatever this place was I didn't want to be here either.
So I did the only thing that made a bit of sense in a world without it. I pulled myself up to my feet and I began to walk toward the empty door frame. On either side I still saw the grey water and sky, but something told me that the way out of this place was to pass through that door. As I drew closer I thought I saw a flicker of color inside the doorframe, but I couldn't be sure. I stumbled forward, reaching my arm through the door frame first before I threw my body forward. There was blinding light all around me, and then I felt another swooping in my stomach as the grey and misty water world disappeared from my sight.