Chapter 18 : Harrow
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“Neville! Neville!” Hannah screamed, “NEVILLE!”
Try as she might, Hannah could produce no sound. Neville was unarmed, and only a few metres of ground stood between him and Voldemort with his army of followers. Neville was in danger, serious danger, and Hannah couldn’t do anything about it.
From beside Voldemort, a wild-haired, dark-eyed witch stepped forward. Revelling in the information she could give to her master, she spoke to Voldemort as if he were her lover.
“It is Neville Longbottom my Lord! … The son of the aurors, remember?”
Voldemort remembered, and he spoke to Neville as if speaking to a friend.
Hannah’s heart beat violently in her chest. Every word Voldemort uttered, though respectful and full of praise was fraught with unconceivable danger.
“We need you kind, Neville Longbottom.”
Voldemort spread his hands in welcome and waited.
Neville breathed in. Hannah stopped trying to cry out when she saw the steely look in his eyes.
“I’ll join you when hell freezes over,” said Neville “Dumbledore’s Army!”
Neville raised a powerful fist in the air and Hannah found that once again she could shout. The proud and passionate cheer from the crowd around her was one Voldemort’s charm could no longer hold.
Voldemort snarled, and whispered something so quietly that it was impossible to determine what he may have said. He raised his wand, his mouth moved and then a strangely shaped object flew from the sky. Voldemort deftly caught it, and then held it up in the air.
Battered, downtrodden, and dirty, the rip that was the sorting hat’s mouth fell into a frown.
Voldemort shook the poor object and it drooped limply, no trace of the singing, prophetic character it once was left.
The Dark Lord spoke to the crowd in a dictatorial tone, filling Hannah’s ears with his obsession for purity, parading his love for the mighty house of Slytherin.
Then Voldemort turned to Neville, who flinched uncertainly before Voldemort’s spell made his body seize up.
Hannah drew breath, not daring to say a word. The crowd was silent.
Hannah’s eyes followed Voldemort as he stepped towards Neville. She gripped her wand tightly, prepared to fight if Voldemort harmed Neville, completely forgetting that she could not move. However, all Voldemort did was place the sorting hat on Neville’s head.
He stepped back and smiled, the shadows on his face making him look almost human.
But Voldemort was not human. He never would be.
In one, insignificant flick of his wand, Neville became the centre of a raging flame.
The world screamed. Hannah screamed with it, hers more terrified than any other. A super human power seemed to grow from her, and she burst free of her unseen restraints. She bounded towards Neville and Voldemort, not sure whether to save one or curse the other.
For a second there was nothing. Then everything around them exploded into action. Hannah felt her body thrown upwards and then smashed into a pile of rocks, crumbling. There was loss of feeling everywhere. The only thing Hannah was aware of was sound. Shouts, war cries, the thundering of hooves, the roar of giants, all of these things caused the ground beneath her to shake. Then Hannah felt the thud of footsteps nearby.
Slowly, Hannah’s vision blurred into view, and she sensed a dark presence looming over her. Then she heard a blood-curdling scream. Her own.
A burning pain spread through her body like poison, from the tips of her fingers to her toes, and once more, she was raised into the air. Hannah’s breath grew ragged, her body almost unable to function. She screamed again, choking on her gasps.
It seemed like years before the pain ceased, and when it did, Hannah felt as if all her limbs had been ripped away. She blinked, finding her eyes were full of involuntary tears. Through the blotches, Hannah was overwhelmed by all the movement, her brain unable to process it. Fragments of what she saw wedged in her mind: a centaur with their tail on fire, a dismembered snakes head, Neville with a ruby encrusted sword. She must be going mad.
The pain surged through her again; her brain clouded over, different images flashing like someone was picking and choosing them, searching her mind.
“How dare you! How dare you defy the Dark Lord!”
The voice was harsh with anger. Hannah felt a rough hand grab her face, sharp nails digging into her cheeks. Hannah’s eyes were forced open, and met by the sight of a woman that was twisted and consumed by fury. Haanah was looking at the face of the same, insane looking Death Eater that had taken pleasure in seeing Neville burn. Up close, Hannah recognised her for the monster she was. Bellatrix Lestrange.
Nothing else mattered any more. The battle around them faded away. Hannah was trapped in the grasp of a sadistic and blood thirsty Death Eater that held a wand to her head. A wand that had destroyed so many, and Hannah was next.
Knowing there was nothing else she could do without inducing certain death, Hannah remembered her mother’s words, the words she had passed on to Neville, and she smiled.
Bellatrix’s long ago beautiful features contorted grotesquely and she scowled, grunting in annoyance.
“Well then, if you like it so much…”
“HANNAH!” Neville yelled desperately into the violent darkness. “HANNAH!”
Neville sprinted across the courtyard, frenziedly searching for Hannah, keeping her safe now his only duty.
He had done what Harry had asked, he had killed the snake, whether by accident, coincidence or intention (Neville was not sure, the moment was all a blur), he had done it.
Now Hannah was all that mattered.
He looked around frantically, taunted by her screams. Battle raged around him, but he did not fight; only deflecting spells away from him and the Death Eaters victims. He dodged yet another Centaur’s arrow, saw it sink into its targets chest, and watched the Death Eater fall to the floor with a fading moan.
Another one of her screams cut into him, as if each one was a dagger in his chest.
Neville parried another spell away using the Sword of Gryffindor; he felt more at ease with the weapon than he did with his wand, and he ran towards where he judged the screams to be coming from.
Then, in the arms of Bellatrix Lestrange, he found her.
Hannah was pale and drained, like someone who had come off a battlefield mortally wounded. But there was no wound to be seen.
Bellatrix scoffed at the sight of him, rolling her eyes.
“Let her go.” Neville demanded. Bellatrix laughed, not moving, her wand still directed to Hannah’s skull.
“Why should I? We’ve been having such a nice … chat. Haven’t we, Hannah?”
Hannah wanted to say that chat was not the right word, as no words had been exchanged. Bellatrix’s knowledge came from the brutal ransacking of Hannah’s mind. Bit by bit, memory by memory, a claw in the brain that Hannah could not fight off. Instead, she whimpered, consumed by fear.
Bellatrix smiled and addressed Neville, her voice sweet and sugary. “She’s a half-blood you know. Disgusting isn’t it, to be the tainted, mutilated product of witch and scum?”
“Don’t call her that!” Neville bellowed. Bellatrix’s comment made him seethe with anger, and Neville wanted nothing more that to cut her down where she stood. He stepped forward, brandishing the sword.
Hannah’s eyes became fixated on the glittering rubies, her mind too weak to focus on anything else.
Bellatrix’s black, stone-like eyes shone just as brightly as the gems, but they shone for all the wrong reasons.
“You shouldn’t worry Neville. I don’t plan on killing your little wretch of a girlfriend,” Bellatrix shook Hannah violently and she mumbled something. Neville’s name.
Bellatrix laughed, exhilarated. “Where would be the fun in that?” she grinned, and jabbed her wand into Hannah’s head.
Hannah shrieked from the pain she had grown to know so well, screeching Neville’s name, completely unaware of what she was doing. Her mind was mangled and torn, all thought dislodged. Neville saw flashes of what could happen if he allowed Bellatrix to continue. The frail statures of his parents, their disjointed speech, so addled they did not recognise their own son.
Hannah looked into Neville’s eyes pleadingly, whispering.
“Neville, Neville please.” Her eyes showed signs of her ordeal. Where there was once life, there were hints of deteriorating grey: a reminder of his mother’s eyes, grey, pale, and dead.
If Hannah ended up like his parents, Neville would never forgive himself.
Neville was cut short. He cried out in anguish and flung his sword in front of him. Bellatrix’s curse rebounded off the razor sharp blade and the jet of evil light surged into the centre of another group of fighters nearby.
The group dispersed, and the Death Eater fighting in the middle fell down dead.
Bellatrix did a double-take, but still held on to Hannah. She blinked, and absentmindedly whispered a name, showing, for the second it took to say it, that she cared.
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