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Chapter 1 : Prison Hearts
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Speed Dating Entry
Companion Story to ‘Just Give Her the Stinkin’ Rose!’ by Polyjuice_.
Valentine’s Day sure was a heck of a lot of work. I could feel Rodolphus’ gaze – my husband’s gaze - trying to catch my eye as if he would capture and hold me. It was getting rather tedious to keep on ignoring him, to restrain the passions which rose and fell within my head like waves beating against the earth, hate and love twinned and twined.
He was hiding in a knot of spindly limbs and rags the color of dirty snow. Even from across the small, damp cell and the single set of bars and rotting wall which separated us I could see him, watching me, his eyes like tiny eclipses. He had small eyes: Mother had once told me that was a sign of stupidity. Surely, Rodolphus was easily manipulated, his weakened defenses making him a more pathetic target.
I thought about smiling at him. The shell of the man who had once been my husband, ambitious and nimble-fingered and slick as they come, seemed to stare through the air between us at all hours, his dark gaze boring fiery holes through the still air where bits of dust hung like constellations. My smile these days, caught in fragments from the pools of rainwater and in the eyes of those who came too close was a manic and wild thing. Something about my own reflection thrilled me, and I imagined I could sketch my own image on the walls of my cell with my fingernails, recreating the feral beauty of the face beneath my fingertips.
Delectable hearts beat in paper-skin chests.
He was thinking about me. I didn’t need to prod into his mind to know it. Something about our long courtship and longer marriage had sparked inside his fading mind like a guiding light. We had never been particularly tender lovers: roses seem to grow brittle and gray when they passed from his fingers to my own. But sometimes I would tilt my eyes open in the middle of the night and see the dark, small eyes peering at me from across the large four-poster bed we shared, his face cracked through the lines of my long black lashes. One of the certainties about Azkaban was that those who didn’t find a beautiful idea to cling to quickly went mad. My husband’s was simply more… sentimental than I would have expected of him.
When the Aurors had finally caught up with us, desperate and wild and angry as we were, when we had failed in crushing them, I had tried to claw the eyes out of all who came near me. We were tossed into Azkaban like a house elf taking the trash away and hiding it somewhere nobody would want to look. I was devastated, driven mad by grief. I had spat in the path of the warden and the Dementors. I had mocked the nightmares which my cellmates whispered in their sleep. The dreadful heaviness of the place furthered my conviction that the Dark Lord was not coming for me, yet still I clung to the hope that someday we Lestranges would rise again, restored, and children and wizards and witches and Muggles would shrink from us as we tread with the sublime might of the gods.
I turned to the pile of rat corpses, running my fingers over the latest catch, its tiny pink tongue lolling out from between the pointed teeth. The stench of death was a strange tranquilizer, reminding me that I could still be a killer, even though the foolish wizards had stripped away my wand and my powers and hidden me away from the Dark Lord. The screaming and screeching of the rats echoed in the corridor, and in that moment I felt powerful and great again.
I understood why it was said the most passionate of killers ate the hearts of their victims. When roused into a certain mood, I was perfectly eager to devour all I could touch.
All the hearts are waiting to be touched.
The subject of my own rapture was, quite unsurprisingly, my master. We had joined up with the Death Eaters as wild young Hogwarts graduates, engaged and ready to make a name for ourselves. There had been some talk before we married that I would stay at home and bear children while Rodolphus went off to be a great wizard – a few well-aimed hexes had proven that to be quite unlikely and equally undesirable. And the Dark Lord – His power was as bewitching as the elixir of life being spoon fed to a dying man. Being in his presence, loyal and rapt and strong, filled me with a strange sense of panicked longing, in which my heart beat against my ribs in irregular rhythms which both compressed my chest and filled me with rushes of adrenaline and fierce pride. No mere mortal man like Rodolphus Lestrange could inspire such passion in a person.
But nevertheless, there had been times when he had been quite successful in charming me. The pile of rags in the cell across from me, pulling himself over to the doors of the cell to speak with the warden – an idiotic man whom I liked to imagine casting an enlarging spell until he exploded, leaving entrails all over the place – well, that Rodolphus was nothing like the dark, haggardly handsome young man who dueled like an avenging angel beneath my attentive tutelage. There had been times when the Dark Lord was not there when Rodolphus and I had been an unbreakable duo, his face keen and intent, my wand slashing through the air like King Arthur wielding Excalibur. Rodolphus was not gifted with a natural thirst for the rush of taking a life, but he could be tempted and provoked and guided in the right direction.
And he had bought me beautiful things, woven delicate silver combs into my hair, filled our house in London with treasures plucked from around the world. He had grown more distressed when I had cared less and less about those things, when my devotion to the Dark Lord had taken up more and more of our time together, when I needed him less and less. The Valentines’ Day before our imprisonment in Azkaban he had caused the crystal chandeliers of our homes to rain down snipped rose heads and a dozen winged cupids to emerge from behind the tapestries. If nothing else, then it was good target practice.
Now, with my husband I felt a strange sense of dichotomous passions, the sense of both wanting to be held closely by him and wanting to destroy and throttle him, to feel his life and soul trickle out into the air, to see the dark eclipse eyes finally stop hiding the moon behind them. I could bite out his heart and hold it gently.
There is something terrible in their faces when they realize the slayer of their families will be a woman.
My sister’s own slavish devotion to her husband repulsed me greatly, and I had spoken to her most harshly about it. Narcissa was easily pliable, soft. I both pitied and resented her for it. What use is a girl like you? I used to whisper, grabbing a handful of her long silvery hair and tugging it back. You are nothing on your own. If she was Helen of Troy, then I was Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons.
But she was insistent about not joining with the Death Eaters, about lurking in the shadows like a mouse to be stamped on. I did not spare many thoughts for her son, for he was not yet old enough to be of use or of any intelligence. I wondered if she had another like she so desperately craved.
Rodolphus’ excitement broke through the wall and bars between us like a flood. I looked up and sneered as the warden, carrying a large bouquet of flowers, scurried in and out of my cell like a cat with his tail between his legs. I wondered at how gleeful this small gesture of affection had made my husband, what it had cost for him to arrange it. I scuttled forward and picked up a rose, twirling it between my fingers like a tiny wand, plucking off a petal and imagining the thing that had once been alive screaming against my fingertips.
Dead rats and roses were ever so lovely.
In the confines of her prison, the mad woman feasts on hearts.
Beyond the fortress, the unruly waves gasped and shuddered against the rocks.
AN: This was written for the Speed Dating Challenge. Polyjuice_ and I wrote two sides of the same story, both playing to our strengths in that her story is humourous and mine is…well, a little creepy. :) I hope you enjoy, and be sure to check out her HILARIOUS story, ‘Just Give Her the Stinkin’ Rose!’
King Arthur and Excalibur are not mine and are attributed to Geoffrey of Monmouth in ‘Historia Regum Britannnniae.’ Helen of Troy comes from Greek mythology, and is here credited to Homer’s ‘Iliad.’ Hippolyta here comes from Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’
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