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Chapter 14: Escaping the Shrieking Shack
WARNING: This chapter contains torture. Nothing overly graphic, but I thought I'd put up a warning for anyone who doesn't like reading that stuff. There is a line of asterisks marking the beginning and end of the torture scene for anyone who doesn't want to read it. The chapter can be read without it.
A/N: Thanks for all the reviews! Let me know what you think!
Escaping the Shrieking Shack
"So, Dumbledore's little spies come to keep us out of Hogwarts?"
Merlin, his cousin's voice was annoying. Sirius and Lily had been shoved against a wall, still bound and gagged. The three Death Eaters, two masked, stood before them.
"Why don't you tell us how you found us, and we'll kill you once you ask, hm?" Bellatrix asked in a mockingly pleasant voice.
"We cannot kill them, you fool," one of the masked Death Eaters said. Sirius thought his voice sounded familiar, but he couldn't place it. "The Dark Lord needs the Mudblood to get Potter, and he wants Black alive."
"Oh, spoiling my fun." The demented witch laughed. "I'm certain you'll be begging to tell me what you know before long."
"Let's start with Black," the same Death Eater suggested. Sirius could hear the sneer behind the mask.
"Why would we do that?" Bellatrix asked. "We have a Mudblood right here." Sirius had wondered once or twice if his family hated him or Muggleborns more. Now he knew, but he never wanted to find out at Lily's expense. Bellatrix grabbed Lily's red hair, yanked the cloth tied around her mouth away, and threw her to the center of the room.
Lily coughed when thick dust billowed up around her. "Go to hell, bitch, I'm not telling you anything."
Bellatrix laughed again. "But you will, wittle Mudblood. Crucio!"
Sirius looked away. He wished he didn't have to hear her scream.
"I could make this all stop. The Dark Lord has made you generous offers in the past. Perhaps if I tell him what a good little Mudblood you've been, he'll make you another."
Through Lily's heavy breathing, Sirius heard her proclaim just what Voldemort could do with his 'generous offer.' Bellatrix crucioed her again.
Sirius had to stop this. He couldn't just sit there while these bloodthirsty maniacs tortured his best friend's wife, the woman he looked at like a sister. But what could he do, tied up and wandless?
"What were you sent here to do?"
Lily's soft crying made Sirius wish he could trade her blood with his, just so Bellatrix would leave her alone. But Lily's fiery spirit that James loved so much was strong.
"I won't tell you anything. Why don't you go back to the hole you crawled out of!"
"You should be nicer to me. I can make your life more painful than it already is. Or your pathetic husband's. What do you think he would do if I sent him some of your hair?"
"Leave him alone!"
Sirius strained furiously against his bonds and bit at his gag.
"Tell me why you were sent here!"
"Please! Please, stop!" Lily begged.
"While amusing, this does not seem to be the most effective of interrogations," the second masked Death Eater finally spoke up.
"What do you have in mind?" Bellatrix snapped.
"You are the most skilled and creative of the Dark Lord's followers when it comes to the Cruciatus Curse, Bellatrix, but why waste your magic on a sniveling Mudblood? She's a Muggle, why don't we torture her like one?"
The first Death Eater left the room when Bellatrix grinned.
The ropes tying Lily fell away, but she only laid on the floor. "No…"
The masked Death Eater grabbed Lily's wrist. "Talk, Mudblood."
He forced a thin piece of wood beneath her fingernail, and Lily cried out. Sirius struggled harder. Another bit of wood, another fingernail, another scream. The Death Eater dropped Lily's bleeding hand, and raised a whip.
Sirius had to stop this. Now. He didn't know how long he watched in horror as the Death Eater struck Lily with the whip before he finally bit through his gag. "Stop! Stop! I'll tell you whatever you want to know! Just stop!"
The Death Eater lowered his whip. Bellatrix stepped around the bloody dust covering the floor around Lily. Lily shivered and cried.
"Tell me, dear cousin, why did that Muggle-loving fool send you here?"
"Dumbledore wanted to find the idiots who thought they could sneak into Hogwarts. He sent others to different parts of Hogsmeade. We were due back a while ago."
"Liar!" Bellatrix struck him across the face, her sharp nails left deep cuts in his cheek.
Did Bellatrix learn Legilimency? Shit.
Bellatrix grabbed the whip from her companion. Now there were many ends to it, each one with a bit of metal glinting at the tip. Sirius braced himself, but better him than—
Bellatrix turned to Lily.
"No! No, wait! Don't!"
Lily had tried to pull herself into the fetal position, but Bellatrix kicked her body out.
Lily screamed, cried, pleaded with Bellatrix to stop, begged James to come save her. But Bellatrix kept attacking her madly, kicking her over to expose whatever part of her body Lily tried to hide.
Sirius had one chance. He pushed down the guilt at not thinking of this before, and prayed to whatever gods might be listening that it would work. That they wouldn't be prepared for this.
And the ropes slid off his dog's body. Without wasting another moment, he jumped and sunk his large, canine teeth into Bellatrix's wand arm.
She screamed now, and tried to shake Sirius off. His strong jaw gripped harder, until he felt her bones crunch between his teeth. Her wand dropped.
Sirius let go and transformed. He grabbed the wand. Without pausing to spit the blood from his mouth, Sirius fired every hex and curse he knew at Bellatrix and the other Death Eater. And suddenly, he was an Auror again. He dodged every curse thrown back at him without pausing his attack. He kept himself in front of Lily so no stray curse would find her. The Death Eaters were forced to step back.
Until ropes snaked around his body.
Sirius had forgotten the third Death Eater.
"Morphing ropes, Black, invented especially for Animagus. You're little trick won't work again."
Bellatrix kicked him in the face, cradling her mauled arm. "We'll take them to the Dark Lord tomorrow when we report. Tie the Mudblood back up!"
Lily was bound again, and they were both thrown against the wall, this time, thankfully, not gagged. They were left alone when Bellatrix took the other two Death Eaters to help mend her arm.
"Lily! Lily, say something." She was leaning more against him than the wall, and Sirius could feel her blood seeping into his clothes. Her hands were behind her back, just like his. "Lily, listen to me. You have to reach into my robes. The Portkey is in my front pocket. Can you do that? Lily?" He moved, carefully, to get his pocket closer to her hands.
Slowly, ever so slowly, Lily's fingers pushed into his pocket. Every slight movement caused her to whimper in pain.
Sirius heard Bellatrix threaten to pull out his teeth and promise to hurt him tenfold what she did to Lily.
"Lily, come on, hun, we need to get out before they come back."
"I know, I know, but I need your help to get us out of here."
"James…" Her head drooped.
"Love, I'll get you to James, but you have to get the Portkey first." He glanced nervously at the door Bellatrix had disappeared behind.
Sirius heard the plunk of wood on wood and turned to scoop the little coin off the floor. He held the Portkey out to Lily.
"I need your hand now, come on, Lily, just give me your hand and we'll be out of here."
"What are you doing?" One of the masked Death Eaters decided to check in on them. He pulled out his wand.
Lily's hand was in his, over the Portkey. "Fawkes!" Sirius shouted, and felt a tug at his navel.
They landed in Dumbledore's office, just as the Headmaster said they would, still tied and—in Lily's case—bloodied, but safe. Dumbledore wasn't alone in his office, every Auror that had been stationed at Hogwarts was there too, in a meeting with the Headmaster. They all stared at Lily and Sirius.
"Lily!" James rushed forward.
With a flash from Dumbledore's wand, every Auror except James and Kingsley Shacklebolt headed out of the office discussing breakfast plans and the weather.
"Kingsley, send for Poppy and alert the Order," Dumbledore said. He flicked his wand again, and the ropes around Sirius and Lily fell off.
James' robes were off, and he wrapped them around his wife. "What—what happened?"
"James…" Lily leaned into her husband's arms, crying.
Sirius stared at the floor. This was all his fault. He had suggested they go to the Shrieking Shack. He hadn't gotten them out before Bellatrix caught them. He hadn't thought to transform until they had tortured Lily severely. He was the reason his best friend had to see his wife appear before him barely conscious, hurt, and covered in a coat of her own blood.
"She is only unconscious, James. Poppy will be here shortly. Sirius, what happened?"
"Bellatrix," Sirius choked out. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. I should have gotten her out sooner."
"I'm not waiting." Sirius could hear the tears James was trying to hold back. James picked Lily up as carefully as he could and waited only long enough to readjust his robes over her shivering and still bleeding body to carry her out.
Dumbledore placed a hand on Sirius' shoulder.
By the time Dumbledore got the story of what happened and convinced Sirius to walk down to the Hospital Wing, Lily was sleeping behind a curtain. James sat by her side, holding one of her hands with both of his.
"Madam Pomfrey says she'll be all right." James only looked at Sirius for a moment.
Lily looked infinitely better than she had in Dumbledore's office. The blood had been washed from her body and the smaller cuts had been healed. The deep cuts were still visible, deeper ones were bandaged, sweat plastered her fiery hair down, and she was unusually pale, but she was sleeping soundly.
"She got a Calming Draught, a Dreamless Sleep Potion, some pain reducers. She'll be asleep for a while."
"You said Bellatrix did this?"
James brought Lily's hand to his lips. "If I ever come across her again, I'll kill her."
The calmness in James' voice was unnerving.
"Look at Lily!" he hissed, glaring at Sirius. "Look at what that- that-" James must have been unable to find a word horrible enough to do justice to what he felt towards Bellatrix. "Just look at her!"
"What is going on out here?" Poppy Pomfrey came out of her office. "Mr. Black!" She got Sirius into the bed next to Lily on the other side of James and shoved a potion down his throat. She rounded on James. "And if you don't keep your voice down, Mr. Potter, I'll send you out. I have sick patients to care for."
If looks could kill, Dumbledore would have needed to hire a new school nurse.
The last thing Sirius felt before falling asleep himself was James' hand on his shoulder.
"Thanks for getting her away."
But it was his fault…
"YOU LET THEM ESCAPE! CRUCIO!"
If he thought the curse hitting all four of them at once would lessen the blow, he was wrong.
"FAIL ME AGAIN AND I WILL NOT BE SO FORGIVING!"
The Dark Lord had yet to lift the curse.
"Dumbledore has known of your feeble attempt to enter Hogwarts since you first failed, and every time you disappoint me, he redoubles the protection around the castle! I must have those names! You will bring me the book! The next time you fail will be your last!"
Thankfully, the Dark Lord released them from the curse.
"Master!" Bellatrix cried, as the Dark Lord left.
Snape tried to rise on shaky legs, but collapsed. "The only objective we did not manage to fail was keeping your identity hidden from the Order. Make certain that does not change!"
When Sirius woke, the scratches Bellatrix left on his face were healed. Lily was still asleep. And Remus Lupin was walking through the infirmary doors.
"I heard what happened," Remus said to James, with his back to Sirius. He placed three large, pink daisies wrapped in simple, white tissue paper on Lily's bedside table and sat next to James. "How is she?"
"Better. She's getting some color back, and her fever's down. I don't know if she hasn't woken up because of the potions or because she's passed out. When she wakes up, I'm taking her home."
Sirius didn't know what he should say to Remus. Did he still believe his childhood friend was a traitor? After all, like Remus had led him to the Muggle pub, he had been the one to lead Lily to the Shrieking Shack, and he certainly wasn't passing information to Voldemort. But who else could it be?