Chapter 1 : Chapter One
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a/n- Thank you so much to BLONDEbehaviour at the forums for BETA reading this for me and helping with imrovement where it was needed!
I woke up for the third time that night after the same dream seemed to manifest itself deep inside of me. It was so vivid, so clear. Maybe because it wasn’t exactly a dream. Just a really haunting memory that I couldn’t seem to escape if I was asleep or awake. My dream was my reality.
There was a dull ache in my head and my arms were tangled up together, mangled with dried blood from where the chains dug into my wrists. My back throbbed from my uncomfortable position on the hard stone floor. Some of my hair pooled onto the floor while the rest had been caught under the metal collar around my throat. My neck itched from the strands of hair stuck to it from the sweat and the humidity in the room. If my calculations were right, it was mid-July. My fourth month here. Or was it my fifth? Time is a very misleading thing when you’re trapped with no sense of the present. Which also means that for me there was no past and no future. I could hope for a future but I didn’t know if there was one. I was trapped and that’s probably all I would ever continue to be. Maybe when I would finally die, they would cast mercy on me. The poor little orphan girl who knew too much. Malfoy Manor didn’t have a graveyard, maybe they would just bury me in the walls of this very cellar. It seemed beautifully tragic, the kind of story I would awed at a year ago, but it’s hard to be in awe when it’s your neck on the block I guess.
I didn’t have the strength to lift my head and look towards the tiny window towards the very top of the room. Not after the events of last night, plus the neck collar was too heavy to allow much movement. It was day, probably only a few hours after sunrise. I could tell by the way the rays of light travelled in a zigzag across the room, it seemed ironic, as if they were trying to escape. The room was still relatively dark, meaning the sun had not reached its mid-point in the sky. Any breeze that entered the room seemed to hang close the high ceiling, meaning any chances of a breeze near the floor was rare. The floor was remarkably cool though and I readjusted myself slowly so that the bare parts of legs and arms could touch it. I winced as my ankles made contact with each other, they were still sore from being previously shackled. I had been good last night, gave them information. For that reason my ankles were freed. I still made sure to be slow and steady with my movements though. Not long after my arrival I had learnt that the more you moved and the faster you thrashed, the harder and tighter the chains became.
I now faced the ceiling, my arms hovered above me and I longed for them to be released so I could get the blood running back through them. I had lost all feeling in them a long time ago and plus, it was easier not to think of the pain if you just thought of a bigger type of pain. Right now I was thinking about the emotional pain I felt. The dread of dying in such a place. It made me forget all about my arms. Instead I ordered myself to sleep, time went by quicker when you weren’t waiting for it to pass. As soon as my eyes closed I was running again.
I ran hard. Harder and faster than I thought was physically possible for me. The heels of my feet sunk into the damp mud and I realized I was not wearing any shoes. It made the running more difficult, my legs worked harder and my heart pumped faster and I could feel the blood dancing in the back of my throat which was now so dry even the air felt like sandpaper. I ignored the build-up of pain that radiated from my sides, willing myself to carry on. The mid-morning air wasn’t so cool and inviting anymore. It was dark now and it was hot. The sweat made my hands slippery and my head dizzy. There were trees now too. First only a couple and then suddenly I was surrounded by them. They were everywhere. Taller and meaner than I was. Poking and prodding me with their branches. Jeering me to fall. And I did fall. I tripped over my own feet, landing face first in the wet dirt. All of a sudden I didn't want to move. I wanted to lie there. Perfectly still, maybe then they wouldn't notice me. But they did. A strong hand grabbed me by the back of my shirt and turned me over. His eyes mean but his face meaner. I had never seen a man full of more hatred than the man who killed my family. He was going to kill me too. I could feel it, his wand was aimed right between my eyes and his foot on my leg. He muttered something under his breath and I think I died.
I awoke with a gasp. My mind reeling. The dream had been so vivid, so real, that for a moment I thought I was still lying underneath Yaxley’s horrible face, crushing me. Then, as my eyes grew used to the near darkness, the familiar four walls began to appear out of the gloom and the room evened out and matched corners and it was sickening thought. But I felt somewhat at home.
I could hear voices outside; the Death Eaters must be patrolling the corridor, checking on the other prisoners. Above me, I heard the scratch of chairs against the floor. They were assembling a meeting. I closed my eyes; soon, they would come for me. As if right on cue, the door to my cell slammed open. Heavy footsteps entered the room and I made sure to keep still, pretending I was asleep.
A snort came from one of the men, “She almost looks pretty in her sleep, don’t you reckon Selwyn?”
The other man, Selwyn, grunted, “Looks dead to me”.
I felt a sharp dig in my ribs. I wanted so badly to react, to scream but I didn’t. Making sure I kept perfectly still.
“That’s right” I could almost hear Selwyn nodding his head, “The slut’s dead”
The other man jeered. And then there was a sound that sounded like skin on skin contact. Selwyn had slapped the other man.
“I’m not being serious Jugson, anyone would think you have flobberworms for brains, wake her up or I will”
I felt a pair of footsteps leave the room. I sighed in relief; Jugson was much easier to deal with. Maybe he did have flobberworms for brains. I felt the usual tug of my hair and the slap on my face.
“Wake up you little slut” Jugson strode over to the chains that bound my hands to the wall, undoing them with his wand. Stepping on my hair as he did so. I opened my eyes and hissed, earning myself yet another slap to the face.
“I’d be careful if I were you” Jugson bent down, his face looming over mine. He was an ugly man and I had had the pleasure to tell him before. One of his eyes didn’t follow the other and always seemed to be looking at something across the room, his skin was like sandpaper, pigmented with dirt. “Master says I’m not to hurt you” he winked, “at least not so I leave marks” he jeered.
I tried to wriggle away from him but he still had to undo the leash around my neck, he scratched his greasy head before putting the same hand through my hair. Stroking it. I felt so vulnerable lying in front of him while he dragged his hand through my hair, pulling at the knots in it. I wanted to cry from the pain and I felt the tears begin to sting my eyes. No matter how hard I tried to keep them in, one escaped.
“Shhh don’t cry” He wiped the tear from my face and I debated biting his fingers off. His hands were on my shoulders now, massaging them, but instead his nails dug into my skin and his hands were rough and he squeezed my neck way too hard.
“Jugson!” Selwyn barked from the doorway, “You can play with her later, the master’s waiting”
With that Selwyn trudged off. Jugson sighed, muttering something under his breath and as he did, the chains fell off my neck. An immediate relief washed over me, I reached up to massage my neck just as he grabbed my arm and yanked me up, I tried to steady myself and not trip over my feet as he jerked me from the room, slamming the door behind him. The heavy metal door caught my ankles and I tried hard not to cry out from the pain. All my body was just pain. It’s harder to not feel it when you don’t know where it’s coming from.
As Jugson led me to the end of the corridor towards the stairs that lead to the main house I realised something wasn’t right. I was the only prisoners getting taken upstairs. They called it the reviewing, to see if a prisoner was needed any longer or not. If they were, they would be returned to their cell, if they were not they would instantly be killed. However, the reviewing usually happened with all the prisoners at the same time. This time, I was alone. My stomach lurched.
I couldn’t help but squint at the intense light. It was however, normal light. I had just been locked up in a cellar for the past week without seeing day light. I frowned when I noticed Jugson was leading me further into the house. I had never been here before. Normally, for the reviewing, we were taken out onto the main ground. It was easier to dispose of the bodies there I guessed. I tried my best to memorize my way but there were too many turns and too many corridors. And Merlin was it grand. I had never seen anything like it. I understood why Malfoy never stayed at Hogwarts during the holidays; he had such an amazing house to return to. Then I remembered this house was also my prison and my excitement suddenly died down. I even thought Jugson himself was lost for a second and I considered throwing him a clever comment about how thick he was but then we rounded one last corner and I knew that we weren’t lost. I had been led into what seemed like a dining room. Only it wasn’t the type of dining room I had at home. It was massive, it looked like a sort of ballroom. The floor to ceiling windows gave the room a sense of freedom and I almost laughed at how ironic it was. In the middle of the room stood a large mahogany table. Around the table were thirteen chairs, twelve of which were occupied. I remembered something professor Trelawney had said once. Something about if thirteen people were sitting at a table, the first of the thirteen to rise would be the first to die. I realized everyone in the room was staring at me, Jugson gave me a disgusting smile, revealing the teeth he didn’t possess. They all expected me to sit down. I was confused but I felt Jugson grab my arm again, leading me to the empty seat at the furthest end of the table.
I would make thirteen.
I hesitated: the whole table was full with the most purest of the pure death eaters. They looked so clean, on the outside anyway, and I stood there, with dry blood on my arms and no shoes on my feet. My hair was covered with sweat and maybe even blood and my clothes were not even fit to be called that. I didn’t realize I was shaking. I must have looked ridiculous, like I belonged in a park with a leash around my neck so a pure blood could parade me around and people would throw money at the mudblood pet.
I felt someone shove me from behind, I gripped onto the chair so not to trip and fall. It was Jugson. “Sit. Down” he hissed.
I pulled the chair out and it screamed against the floor. I made sure to keep my head down, staring at my feet as I slid into it.
“Water?” I turned to find a man, not older than 20 standing behind me. He wore a mean and mocking expression, holding the jug of water close to my face. As if he was tempting me to accept.
“No, thank you” I murmured, looking away.
He grinned. “Suit yourself” he whistled as he walked away, and I wanted so badly to curse him. But I didn’t have a wand and for all the people in this room, I didn’t deserve one.
For the first time since I had walked into the room, I willed myself to properly look at the inhabitants of the table. I sat at the head and opposite me, at the other end, sat none other than Yaxley, His ugly face pulled into a sickly ugly smile. I forced myself to look away from him. To my right sat five people. Four of whom I didn’t know, but that wasn’t a problem, as I didn’t want to know. However, the person I did know was Crabbe. We were in the same transfiguration class for 7 years. We played wizard chess together once. I had to look away. To my left sat another set of five people and my heart caught in my throat when I saw who they were. I felt my cheeks burn and turn crimson at the sight of Draco Malfoy, sitting in the middle of two people I assumed to be his parents. I couldn’t look at him, the embarrassment that stirred in my heart was too much, we played quidditch together since 3rd year, he borrowed or rather stole my quill once and never gave it back, we were once at the hospital wing together and I was the one who had to pull the curtains around his bed while Madam Pomfrey was busy. I looked away, tears stinging my eyes. We were never friends yet I somehow still felt betrayed.
“She’s so dirty looking though Master, you’d think they were torturing them down there in the cellars” I looked towards the cold shrilly voice of the woman who sat next to Draco’s mother. She was as pale as the walls and her hair a deep auburn. The woman’s lips curled into the cruellest smile I had ever seen. There was insanity flickering in her eyes.
“We do try to take the very best care of them Liana, they’re just not very…” Yaxley winked and looked towards me, his fake smile dropping off his face into a snarl, “co-operative”.
“Mudbloods” Liana shrugged.
Yaxley put up a hand to silence her and everyone knew it was time to keep quiet and stay quiet. I stole one last look at Draco, he was staring at his lap, frowning.
“Tell me, Miss Blanc, is it?”
I looked up at Yaxley, trying to swallow the bile that had risen up in my throat. It had been so long since I had heard my last name. I wanted him to say it again. I nodded.
From the corner of my eye I could see Malfoy's frown deepen.
“Listen, Miss Blanc” My stomach seemed to lurch at his ominous tone, his mouth was so ugly when he spoke, "What can you tell us about The Holy Grail"
I realized in mortification, I had told them too much last night.