Progress Notes: I will be on vacation for 20 days starting tomorrow, and where I'm going, there is zero internet service. Please stick around! I've sent chapter 12 (the corrected and ready-to-go version) to my beta. She hasn't responded yet, but hopefully she'll post it soon.
Harry gritted his teeth and lowered his glance from Lucius Malfoy’s pale face.
“Nothing,” he mumbled, pocketing his wand and allowing the Death Eater to clasp him in a vice-like grip and push him into the Great Hall. The walls were bare except for the Slytherin table, adorned with silver and green. Students silently chewed on the cold oatmeal prepared by the House Elves that were still alive. Harry sat down across from Hermione and next to Ron, locking eyes with his friend—her brown eyes full of fury. Just like Harry, she and Ron had their own personal guards to make sure they wouldn’t escape.
Which was exactly what they wanted to do.
Harry slowly spooned the lumps into his mouth, trying to ignore the horrible absence of the usual Hogwarts staff. The high table only had one person sitting at it: Peter Pettigrew. He overlooked the running of the school as Death Eaters were sent every day in search of the defeated, Lord Voldemort. Harry felt a flicker of anger sear through him as his eyes swept over the charred remains of Dumbledore’s marvelous gold chair. It had been set on fire, and then chipped away with knives until it was nothing but a crumbling piece of rubble. It stood so that all could see and served as a reminder to what had happened to their once-strong headmaster.
“Too much eating time, Potter! Let’s go. It’s time for your lesson.” Lucius spat. Harry felt his stomach drop and he sent a weak smile to his two worried friends. Hermione reached across the table and grasped Harry’s hand firmly before he stood up, encouraging him. Because no matter what the Death Eaters called it, Harry’s ‘lesson’ was simply torture and questioning with Bellatrix Lesterange. Lucius shoved Harry forward, calling his son, Draco, over to them.
“Take Potter up to his training lesson with Bellatrix. I have to stop those idiotic Hufflepuff’s from talking.” Draco nodded mutely and placed his wand tip on Harry’s back, forcing him up the silent steps of the Entrance Hall.
“You know,” Draco said quietly after a few minutes. “I almost pity you, Potter. You’ve lost all your fame. Parents are desperately trying to break into Hogwarts to save their children from the Death Eaters that are guarding you.” he paused dramatically. “I suppose we should just announce that it’s your entire fault, to make it official that you’ve let everyone down.” Harry lunged for Draco, forgetting about wands or magic. Draco, unfortunately seemed to been hoping for this to happen and he quickly cast the Cruciatus curse. Although now immune to most pain due to his final battle with the Dark Lord and the enchantment he placed on Harry, the pain of the Cruciatus curse was very real. Harry fell to his knees on the cold marble floor.
“Take it off!” he gasped, closing his eyes through the pain. Draco hesitated for a moment, and then released the Unforgivable, twisting a thread from his sleeve around his fingers. Harry remained on his knees and took in deep breaths, holding a hand against his pounding heart that thrummed in his ears. Draco shook his head and heaved Harry up from the floor.
“Rather sensitive, aren’t you?” Harry responded with a very rude comment that caused Draco’s gray eyes to flash dangerously, “Language, Potter, or I shall have to report you.” Harry shrugged and shoved Draco’s wand away from his face, starting to walk up the stone steps by himself. His empty stomach shifted with hunger as the weak oatmeal turned in his stomach. Oh, how he missed Mrs. Weasley’s wonderful cooking. Had it really been two years since he had eaten one of her meals? And the twins, their freckled faces beaming with mischief and throwing fireworks right under Filch’s nose as Ginny watched in the background—smiling. Such memories would taunt Harry as he dully remembered that all the Weasley’s except for Ron were safe from the Death Eaters’ invasion of the school. That is, he hoped they had. He knew that they were not in Hogwarts, so they must have escaped that dreadful night. He had seen Ginny slip through the window, along with a few other students who had managed to escape. What if the Death Eaters had caught them? Killed them, even? Was there even a reason worth living if Ginny was not still out there, waiting?
A slight tap on his shoulder reminded Harry that Draco was still behind him, pushing him on. The door leading to Bellatrix loomed in his vision as he dragged his feet towards the doorknob.
“Good luck,” Draco smirked.
Harry opened the door.
“Hello, Potter.” Harry glared hatefully back at his godfather’s murderer.
“Hello.” he said through gritted teeth. Bellatrix raised her wand,
“Crucio!” Harry dodged the curse nimbly and calmly sat down in an uncomfortable chair.
“So,” he said pleasantly as if nothing had happened. “What are we doing today? I’ve already graduated my seventh year at Hogwarts, my friends and I are eighteen, some of us nearly nineteen and we’re awaiting the day you’ll release us. Do you really plan to keep us here until we all shrivel up and die as you keep trying to find your dead master?” This time, Harry couldn’t move out of the way quickly enough as the second Cruciatus Curse hit him in the chest. He was so used to it by now that he merely flinched as pain coursed through him. He watched Bellatrix through resentful eyes as the Death Eater panted heavily with fury.
“You keep a civil tongue in your head, Potter!” she screeched. “We’ve tortured you and your friends and until you tell us how to find the Dark Lord, we’ll continue do to so!” Harry shrugged and stared at a silver pen with a snake curled around its top. His eyes slowly came back resting onto Bellatrix’s taut face that was suddenly pulled into a grim smile. “I’ve suddenly had an idea,” she whispered. She stood up and walked to the fireplace and threw a handful of Floo Powder into the flames, pacing back and forth. Suddenly, the head of Crabbe appeared, looking rather stupid and shocked at being called.
“Er, yes mistress?” he grunted nervously. Bellatrix glared furiously at him.
“Send Mr. Weasley up here, immediately!” Crabbe nodded his head vigorously.
“Yes, mistress.” and his head disappeared with pop.
Harry watched her pace the room, her shoes making the loud, recognizable clicking on the stone floor. They both said nothing until a furious Ron was suddenly shoved through the room, followed by Crabbe. Ron’s eyes flickered over to Harry’s pained face and he set his jaw stubbornly.
“What do you want with me?” he growled. Bellatrix quickly jumped behind him and pulled him into a tight arm lock, directing her wand at Ron’s neck.
“Tell me some kind of information Potter, or your friend will be dead before you know it!”
Complete silence rang through the room; all that could be heard was Ron’s heavy breathing and Bellatrix’s panted breaths as she fought to keep him in control. Harry shifted from one foot to the other and then stared out the window fixedly. Amazingly, he wasn’t surprised at all. He had been expecting this for a long time. It just showed how stupid the Death Eaters were that it took them two years to think to do this.
“Let him go, Bellatrix.” he said quietly. Her eyes narrowed.
“Do we have a bargain, Potter? You’ll give me information if I let him live?” she was trying to hide it, but an unmistakable edge of eagerness had reached her voice. Harry clenched his teeth.
“I said, let him go,” he snapped. A fire-glass above Bellatrix’s head suddenly shattered and she screamed as the fire roared as it reached its full power, reflecting Harry’s anger.
“Stop it, Potter!” she screeched, Crabbe falling down onto his knees with fear. “STOP IT NOW OR I’LL KILL HIM!!” she yelled at the top of her lungs as flames danced across her robes. “Crucio!” she screamed, flailing her arms. The curse hit Harry straight in the chest and he immediately dropped to floor, writhing in pain. Searing agony shot from his hands, up his arms, through his chest, and spread to his whole body. He could do nothing to stop it and he bit his tongue to stop himself from screaming out in pain.
“Please,” he gasped. “Please take it off, you—!”
“That’ll teach you a lesson,” Bellatrix said, brushing glass out of her hair. “You’ll have to wait a few minutes—“
Ron snatched Bellatrix’s wand and snapped it in half as he kicked Crabbe in a rather sensitive spot. For a moment, the relief of the pain was so numb that Harry could barely move. Bellatrix let out a rage of fury as she picked up the remains of her wand.
“Get out of my sight, you filth! Get out! GET OUT!!”
Harry and Ron sprinted out the door, Ron supported his friend most of the way because of the after affects of the curse, and they ran up the stairs to the Gryffindor Common Room.
They ran from a nightmare that had only just begun.