fiery_flamingo: stock: top hat skull (top hat)
[personal profile] fiery_flamingo
Title: Spiralling
Characters: Lucius Malfoy/Hermione Granger, Bellatrix Lestrange
Rating: R
Word Count: 1,163
Summary: Hermione hopes tomorrow will be better.
Warnings: Non-con, abuse, angst.
Author's Notes: This was written for [ profile] scarletladyy during [ profile] rarepair_shorts' Winter Fic Exchange. Thanks to my beta, [ profile] leigh_adams. There is nothing ‘sorta’ about her awesomeness.

Hermione can’t feel her fingers anymore and, sadly, it’s a relief. They’re bloody, scrapped, and cracked from effort and the cold. Her nails are ragged and thin--a sign that she’s not getting enough calcium in her diet, her mother’s voice tuts in her ear--but she can’t stop. If she stops, she’ll go mad.

Stone mortar dust settles under her nails and in her wounds as she scrapes away the binding of her cell--back and forth, left to right--millimeter by millimeter. She doesn’t think about anything but that line. She doesn’t do the maths on how long it would take to make a hole large enough for her to fit through; she already knows the answer. She doesn’t think about the charms that renew Malfoy Manor’s foundations once a month, undoing all her effort. At least it helps her mark time.

It’s madness to repeat the same task while expecting different results, she knows. But the alternatives--screaming at the stones, tearing at her hair--seem worse. Instead, she focuses on the mortar and escape; if the lock won’t open, then maybe the walls will tumble down.

She bathes her frayed psyche in false hope. Today is a bad day. Tomorrow will be better.

* * *

“What do you want?” she snaps at her visitor, voice thin and creaking from disuse.

Bellatrix doesn’t answer. Instead, she sits on the cold stone floor, rests her head against the bars of Hermione’s cell, and watches.

Uncurling from the rags that play dual roles as bedroom and living area, Hermione crosses her cell in two steps, leaving an arm’s length between her and the bars. Between her and Bellatrix. She wonders briefly what would happen if she closed the gap. Would Bellatrix attack? Would Hermione? The worn spoon she uses to dig is behind her, hidden in the sheets.

A joke arises unbidden in her mind: the brightest witch of her age walks into a bar. She says, ‘ow.’

Ron had always been better at humor.

Bellatrix still watches.

“This is not a zoo, you soulless hag,” Hermione spits, hoping to provoke a response.

A twitch of the lips and then nothing.

It’s unsettling, the silence. Hermione’s used to the madwoman cackling and cawing like some deranged carrion bird, proclaiming to all the greatness of her Lord, the maker of this bright new world--a world that’s only stone and mortar to those like Hermione.

This new Bellatrix is unknown, more frightening for her stillness.

“I don’t see it,” Bellatrix finally proclaims, leaning back to rest on the palms of her hands, as if they were gossiping in one of their bedrooms.


“Whatever makes you so precious to him.”

Hermione snorts and steps back to her bed, exhausted by the oddity of the visit. “If you solve the mystery, tell me.”

Bellatrix nods and continues to watch until Hermione falls asleep for want of anything else to do.

* * *

Lucius only comes at night.

She awakens to the feel of a real mattress beneath her, transfigured from her dirty sheets, and the weight of him above her.

At one time, she would have screamed and clawed and kicked while one hand forced open her knees and another fisted her hair, keeping her teeth from his oh so precious face. But now she simply lies there, allows him to position her at will and finish as he pleases--in her, on her back, on her face, it doesn’t matter as long as he leaves.

It’s quicker when she doesn’t fight, so she doesn’t, but sometimes, while he pants over her, she imagines taking that white-blond mane in hand and dragging a dagger across his throat.
Those are the times she comes.

When it’s over, he pats her as if she’s a good little bitch, then disappears.

* * *

The next time Bellatrix visits, she’s back to usual form, wearing her fine dress robes and clattering a length of what looks like a lead against the bars.

“Would the good little mudblood like to go for walkies?” she coos, twining the braided leather around her hands.

“If I say no?” Hermione asks, but it’s hollow rebellion. It’s been nine months since she’s left this cell, if her count is correct, and rain is pouring in through the window. She’d walk into the fires of hell just to be warm and dry.

Bellatrix hisses. “Then you are a bad dog that must be taught.”

“Then I shall go, gladly.” She stands off to the left of the prison door and waits to be collared and leashed. Only briefly does she entertain the idea of trying to physically overpower her captor. Nine months of scant rations have left her emaciated to the point of grotesque; Hermione doubts she could beat a Niffler in her state, let alone Bellatrix Lestrange.

The collar is latched too tight, and she must walk double time to keep pace with her skipping mistress but the humiliation of it all matters little when she ascends from the dungeons into the well-furnished rooms of Malfoy Manor, bedecked in green wreaths and red ribbons.

Her heart sinks, however, when, tutting, Bellatrix looks her up and down. “Cissy won’t approve at all.”

Her clothes were the same she wore when the Snatchers caught her, now tattered, stained, and mouldering. Only modesty kept Hermione in them. Hermione was certain Mrs. Malfoy would have an opinion.

With a flick of Bellatrix’s wand, the offending garments are gone.

Shocked, Hermione recoils. Hands fly over scant breast and bony hips in a desperate attempt to save her dignity, something that she’d nearly forgotten she had.

Bellatrix crows happily and yanks the lead with a vicious twist, bringing her plaything to heel. “Come along, mudblood. We must’nt be late for the ball!”

They enter the ballroom to mixed reactions--shuddering gasps from some, delighted laughter from others. The Dark Lord calls it a triumph, and so it is.

Hermione feels all of their eyes on her protruding ribs. A select few hands trace pink scars. She hears from miles away the compliments to Bellatrix on her good work. Knives? they ask. A master never reveals all her tricks, she replies.

Lucius never approaches. Apparently, he feels differently about her flesh when there is light to see it.

Afterwards, her clothes are never returned. She fashions her least torn sheet into a rough shift, knotted like the Greeks and Romans, and removes the mortar from an entire side of a stone before the new year rings in and all her work is undone again.

This year had been bad. Next year would be better.

* * *

In the early months before she realized rescue was never coming, Hermione kept a list of things that could be worse than captivity in Malfoy Manor. Death was at the top of the list.

Now, she keeps a list of things that would be better than captivity. Ironically, death is at the top of that list as well.

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