Chapter 1 : Chapter 1
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Witnessed thousands of tears.
Tried to forget the sight of hundreds of hopeless faces.
Cried at the murders of dozens of men, women, children.
Her heart has held it all: secrets, pain, terror. All the things those above her assume she can’t feel. Because she’s not human enough to understand? Her small mind isn’t able to process such complex emotions?
Nonsense. She’s had to stop her hands from trembling at the injustice of it all, felt the vomit burn through her esophagus as the acidic bile traveled up her throat and spewed from her lips.
She’s watched it all, unable to save someone from even a second of pain.
Her kind isn’t supposed to question, isn’t supposed to doubt. They’re made to follow the orders they’re given with not the smallest bit of hesitation. Loyalty is programmed into their miniature sized souls -- but none of that stops her from understanding. None of it takes away the fact that too many people have been killed in front of her.
She’s often had to stand around them and wipe the blood being tortured from limp bodies off of her Master’s pure white floor. White like innocence. Like saints. White like the pale faces of those cold bodies, long since dead and limp.
Sometimes, the task of disposing of them has been given to her.
They’ve ordered her to guard countless prisoners while another is taken care of. She’s had to drown out the sound of too many crying children, begging for their mothers the way thunder begs for rain.
Being owned by Master Lestrange was worse than death, Tully assumed. She’d never actually experienced it, death, but so often it was an escape to all the prisoners she watched come into the Lestrange Estate. Only in. Never out. No prisoner ever left.
“You,” a gruff voice demanded. The angry yell startled her, forcing her to take a slow breath before slipping the poker she’d been using to tend to the fire back into its slot. Her feet felt like bricks as she inched across the room and toward the man standing in the door way.
Part of her vaguely remembered caring about him, if only a small amount, when he was younger and the excitement she’d get when he’d return from Hogwarts after completing a successful year. Then, as the years passed and she was moved from Mr. and Mrs. Lestrange’s estate to Master Rodolphus’s, that small amount fondness bled from her, slow but steadily. Her punishments had grown more frequent, usually gauged by the mood of Master and Mistress Bellatrix Lestrange. Both witch and wizard often enjoyed using the small elf as a way to relieve themselves of their anger.
“Yes, Master? How can Tully serve you?” she asked, looking half terrified up at the man looming over her. He directed her toward the stairs and she felt a shiver run through her. The dungeons were her personal nightmare. That’s where the prisoners were kept -- where the screaming never stopped.
“I will have guests arriving in a matter of minutes,” Master Rodolphus said, his tone icy, eyes looking past her. “You are to wait down there until we arrive.”
She was about to nod, but the leg came at her too quickly, pushing her into the dark stairwell and causing her miniature body to smack against the cement steps. She oriented herself quickly, knowing a bruise salve would be necessary for the welts already growing.
“Who’s there?” called a deep voice, and she snapped her fingers to set aflame the few lanterns. Shadows crept in every direction along the cement walls, iron and stone making up the majority of the room. The smell of mold was ever present, laced with the scent of human waste and dried blood, bodies long since decayed.
The familiar sensation of dread filled her as she saw two new faces trying to peer out of iron-barred cells. They both looked remarkably alike. Dark hair, nearly the same height. She couldn’t make out their eye color in the low light, but one pair looked much lighter than the other’s.
“A house-elf,” she heard one of them mutter, though it wasn’t said in the same type of disgust that she was accustomed to.
“Look,” the same voice continued, and she couldn’t help but inch closer, curious about the determined way he spoke. “We’re going to have maybe half a second to work out how to escape between the time that the fuckers come down here and the time that we’re dead.”
“Oh a whole half a second? Shit, I should probably just have a nice little lie in then. No sense worrying under those sorts of situations.” Tully felt herself want to smile at the second boy’s sarcasm, but the knowledge that they wouldn’t escape - no one did - was too overwhelming.
“Shut it, Prongs. At least one of us is trying to come up with a plan here.”
“Like your plans ever work out. The only thing we need to figure out is how the fuck to get her out of here and to Dumbledore.”
Tully got curious as to who they were talking about and took a few slow, tentative steps forward. Her heart broke as she noticed the tiny body resting in the arms of one of the men, the one that the other had called Prongs. Short, white curls stuck to a tearstained face, but Tully was nearly certain the child was sleeping.
She couldn’t watch another child die. She couldn’t listen to another one beg for their mum.
“If Edgar survived the attack-”
“He survived it. They all did. Don’t let yourself think anything else, Sirius.” Silence followed and Tully wondered why they seemed so concerned about the wellbeing of someone else when they were so close to death themselves.
“It came out of nowhere,” the Sirius boy mumbled. “All the information we had... it was all fucking rubbish. They knew we were onto their plans for Edgar.”
“And they weren’t going to take any chances,” Prongs added. “But we held them off as long as we could until the rest of the Order got there.”
“Yeah, and what good did that do, James? Held it off just so we could let ourselves get captured with one of Edgar’s daughters? So she could die in a fucking prison instead of in her own house where the rest of her family is probably already dead?”
The pain in his voice forced thick tears to build in Tully’s eyes. They cared so much for these people they were speaking of... maybe they were kin to the dark haired boys?
“Don’t,” James answered, his voice quieter than the other’s but just as hard. “We did everything we could back there, and now we’re going to get Edgar’s daughter back home. We’re going to get her back home and then we’re going to get ourselves back home. Yeah?”
“Lily wanted to do make-your-own-pizza night,” Sirius mumbled. “She loves those. She’ll be pissed if we die and don’t make it, won’t she?”
“Even angrier when she realizes I never carried the trash down...”
“Can you imagine our eulogy, Prongs? ‘James was a loving husband for the two months we were married, though the prick got himself killed and left me a bin full of rubbish to carry-’”
Tully heard a soft cry, an obvious sign that the toddler was waking.
“Shit,” one of the men muttered. “Shhh fall back asleep, little thing. Shhh.”
The cries for Mama echoed through the room, gaining volume rapidly. The scream was high pitched, scared. Tully’s hands darted up and cupped over her ears. It wasn’t the loudness that was bothering her; it was the absolute terror obvious in the cries emitted from the small human.
“It’s okay, we’ll get you to your mum soon,” one man whispered, though doubt was clouding his voice.
“Sirius, we can’t die like this. We can’t let her die like this,” James said, his tone graver than Tully had yet heard.
The elf felt slightly mystified by it all. The baby wasn’t either of theirs, yet they were doing everything they could to coax it back into relaxation. Worrying about its life, the life of a tiny girl who couldn’t have been alive for more than a few years... who was minutes away from taking her last breath.
Tully couldn’t watch another child die.
“Shut that bloody thing up!” came a scream from the top of the stairs followed by the sound of heavy boots slamming against concrete steps. Tully listened carefully to the noises - three bodies, she concluded without looking. Three of the Dark Lord’s servants against these two people that were still almost boys, and a crying child.
She couldn’t watch anyone else die.
“Oh my,” spoke Mistress Lestrange as they stepped into the light. Tully’s stomach clenched. The black haired witch, whose eyes were always too wild to seem sane, wouldn’t just kill the girl and the two boys. She would destroy them.
“What have you gotten yourself into now, dear cousin?”
“Let’s take care of the child first,” Mr. Malfoy ordered.
“No!” Mistress shouted. “We use her as a way to... bargain. I don’t think they’ll be able to deny us answers when they watch us take the filthy body apart finger by finger. Do you?”
The sick sort of enjoyment caused a stream of tears to snake down Tully’s face. The girl was just a baby.
“Master, Tully must ask a favor from Master,” she heard herself say, the people in the room looking at her for the first time.
“Are you speaking out of turn, elf?” snapped Mistress. She knew she was just seconds away from getting punished, but she didn’t care. She couldn’t watch another child die.
“Please, Mistress. Tully must beg for the child to be spared. She’s just a small one. Tully can rid the estate of her. Please, don’t kill her.”
She felt the stream of tears turn into sobs. Somebody’s baby. She couldn’t handle it anymore.
She watched Mistress’s face turn whiter, her red lips forming into a sneer as she stepped closer to the elf. Tully hung her head, prepared for whatever pain would follow.
Before the wand could be raised, allowing the hot fire of a curse to scorch through her, a crash filled the room.
The floor above them began to crack, and she could see a small ray of light shining through. Master ran to the door but screamed as he touched the handle.
Another loud bang was followed by a cloud of smoke, and when it cleared Tully could see four more people standing in the room with a gaping hole in the ceiling. She ran and hid behind a stone pillar knowing she was useless and would simply get in the way.
Her saucer sized eyes took in the sight, the points of her ears sticking out as she peeked around the corner of her hiding place.
The duel was too confusing for her to understand, too many colors flying and connecting in midair. Too many sounds - the screaming of the child playing like a morbid lullaby in the background.
“Tully,” she heard her Master shout and felt fear stab into her. “Kill the child.”
No. No! she thought, pleading inside her own mind, unaware that she was letting the words slip from her lips. Her feet began moving toward the cell where the three prisoners were held.
“Someone stop Tully,” she shouted through her own tears, but it didn’t seem like anyone could hear her. “Someone please! Tully doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Please!”
The agony stampeding through her felt like it was flattening her lungs, her breath unable to come. Finally, as she continued to cry out, begging to be stopped, a dark haired girl turned to her and spent ropes twisting from her wand. But her Master saw too and sent a curse flying at the woman, knocking her onto the ground.
“Please,” the one named James whispered as they she reached the bars. “You don’t have to do this.”
Tully’s sobs strengthened. “Tully, Tully has no choice,” she tried to say through the tears. Once an order was given, it was impossible for her to disobey.
A large crack came from behind her and a bolt of magic shot at the bars, breaking open the lock. One of the boys swung it open and then darted out, carrying the girl. Tully’s feet continued to gravitate toward them, but she knew if they ran fast enough they could get away.
“James, Sirius, come on!” a short boy shouted as another taller boy held back Master and Mistress with a round of spells. Mr. Malfoy was dueling against an old looking man who had wood for a leg, but it was clear to Tully that the older man had the upper hand.
“You,” James yelled, glancing at Tully, “come with us!”
The small elf just shook her head. The magic binding her to the Lestrange family was too strong, holding her too them despite her desire to flee.
“It’s okay,” he continued, keeping his eyes glancing around the room, ducking when a spell was shot toward him. “We’ll keep you safe.”
“Potter,” growled the wooden-legged man, then he pointed his own wand at the boy. It seemed a sort of shield had been created, stopping a jet of green light from hitting the child in James’s arms.
Tully nudged her head forward, urging him to go. There was no way for her to escape. Leaving her master without being freed wasn’t simply a choice. It was impossible, the ancient magic of her blood too old to be broken simply because she wished it to.
“I’m sorry,” the dark haired boy said before turning and sprinting toward the others still dueling with the Death Eaters.
What came next occurred too quickly for the elf to understand. It seemed the group of prisoners and their friends all did something simultaneously, and darkness filled the air. A boom, louder than anything Tully had ever heard, rang out and forced her hands over her ears. Her brain went numb, the noise rendering her immobile.
What could have been either a second or a minute passed, then the black cleared the same second that the sound ceased.
When Tully could see around the room again, she realized it was only her, Master, Mistress, and Lucius Malfoy remaining.
The child escaped.
Tully didn’t have to watch another baby die.
That was the last thought that filled her mind as Master raised his wand and pointed it at her, then yelled, “Avada Kedavra!”
AN: Thanks to the lovely Hermione006 for beta reading this one-shot!
Written for SilentConfession's First War Horror Challenge :)!