SIYE Time:13:20 on 14th July 2024
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By GreenhouseThree

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Category: Post-HBP
Genres: Angst
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Disturbing Imagery, Mild Language, Spouse/Adult/Child Abuse, Violence/Physical Abuse
Story is Complete
Rating: R
Reviews: 3
Summary: 'It's a fool's errand, stealing a sword with nowhere to put it.'

Sometimes, they don't win. Sequel to "Defiance."
Hitcount: Story Total: 875
Awards: View Trophy Room

Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights ? J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.

Author's Notes:
Sequel to Defiance.

**Trigger Warning: This fic deals with torture, and with the aftermath of physical and psychological violence. As a reader, please take inventory and always be kind to yourself.**


Every muscle in her body aches.

Physical pain is an old, snide acquaintance; from Bludger hits and brotherly punches to broomstick crashes and spell strikes, she’s learned to greet it with dispassionate familiarity. But this soreness is different, born from flinching, from repeatedly bracing every muscle against the pain. Echoes in the form of spasms. Punishment, perpetuated. Her thighs, her abdomen and face… even her tongue is sore.

The Cruciatus curse doesn’t leave any marks of its own“ another element of its cruel brilliance. And yet, her knees and elbows are scraped raw from the flagged dungeon floor, the heels of her palms stinging. Her nail beds are bloodied from scratching, clutching at the spaces between the stones while she begged.

Before, she’d been certain she could handle pain. But tonight is different.

It’s after midnight when Ginny climbs through the portrait hole into the common room. She’s grateful that Neville’s obliged her request not to wait up. Stealing up the steps, she slips past her sleeping roommates into the bathroom.

The torches lining the walls are too bright, and they throw her face into sharp relief. A pale, hollowed version of herself stares back in the mirror, motionless while she’s suspended, transfixed. Her gaze travels numbly to a yellow stain on her collar, and with a feeble jolt she recalls retching. It’ll be in her hair too, then. The twinge of humility only lasts a moment; too much of her pride is still on that basement floor.

Alecto’s rage was palpable tonight. It rippled through every word, every slash of her wand through the dank air.

“I know how you feel, Ginny. First year is confusing and scary, but I promise that’s normal.”

She pulls her eyes from the mirror to turn on the taps and peel off her clothes with stiff and cumbersome fingers. They reek of sweat and vomit and fear, and she dumps the pile into the laundry bin before slipping into the shower.

The hot water is immediate, stinging relief. It beats against her face and cascades down her back and chest, and the pounding behind her temples dulls as she leans against the cool tile, closing her eyes to find stillness. Her fingers prickle when water seeps beneath torn cuticles.

“You know you can talk to me, Ginny. That’s what I’m here for.”

With leaden arms, she summons the effort to reach for soap and shampoo, scrubbing her skin to restore some dignity, purging herself as best she can from feeling broken and filthy.

Like there’s still chicken blood beneath her nails.

She slides the curtain back when she’s finished, and cold air eddies over her skin, penetrating the numbness. Shaking hands find her towel, and she swathes herself tightly before crossing the dormitory on unsteady legs and closing the curtains around her bed. She sits, naked and cross-legged, her hair dripping silently onto the comforter.

Her sunken, sneering face across the desk, cocked curiously to the side, eyes alight with fervent expectancy.

“You showed up. Smart of you to obey, for once.”

Ginny was silent. Stoic. Her pulse beat mutinously in her ears.

“I just thought we’d have a bit of a chat. Woman to woman.” She was reminded absurdly of Umbridge.

Her wand is tucked beneath her thigh. She reaches for it and casts a Muffliato with just enough time to stuff her fist around the dry sob that surges from her throat. She’s still for a moment, pulling herself together with her teeth cutting her knuckles.

And then it’s over, quickly as it came, though she’s still shaking as she slips into flannels and pulls up the covers. The pillow is damp from her hair. Her limbs slacken and sink into the mattress, muscles yielding, bones settling.

She watches the shadows of clouds pass across the moonlit ceiling as her head pounds, and she longs for the asphodel flowers from the boys’ dorm“ chalky-sweet petals between her teeth followed by relief that washes through the body, softening the pain.

Neville’s prediction had been right: it wasn’t over after their detention with Hagrid.

In hindsight, they should have known by the odd curl in Snape’s lip as he informed them of their punishment. Ginny recalls the way Neville swallowed audibly beside her, the way she prayed that none of them would show any sign of confusion or relief as the sentence was laid out. The forest is dangerous these days, but the further from the castle they’d be, the better.

“You can never be too cautious. They won’t understand you. Never put too much trust in new friends.”

She squeezes her eyes shut against an abrupt throb. Her scalp smarts where Alecto wrenched her up by the hair, and for the third time she gingerly checks for blood. A shudder tenses her shoulders as she remembers screaming for her mum, and what a stupid thing to do that was.

The forest floor was bathed in silver by the full moon that night; it may as well have been daylight. Hagrid’s tone was menacing just until they were out of earshot from the castle grounds, and then he was humming amiably, swinging a lantern at his side. Luna offered Fang bits of rock cakes from her pockets as they walked, while Neville kept silent track of their path.

That was two weeks ago.

Today, her detention was assigned within the first minute of Dark Arts for having her wand out on the desk. Ginny realized then, among bewildered looks from the class: Snape’s discipline never would have been enough. It should have been obvious from the moment they’d met Amycus Carrow’s livid glare on the spiral steps outside the Headmaster’s office, the moment the cold steel against her back felt suddenly heavier.

It’s a fool’s errand, stealing a sword with nowhere to put it. An impetuous act of rebellion, bred from her restless audacity.

The door closed with a heavy thud. Tonight, for some reason, there were no terrified third-years, no Blaise or Theo or Amycus… it’d be Alecto’s wand. ‘Woman to woman.’

A detention devoid of their usual audience.

The realization hits her now with a twisted sneer: tomorrow, she won’t be able to hide her bleeding hands or sore throat, or the sleepless night she’s about to endure. A self-perpetuating victory of retribution.

Someone coughs in their sleep, and she flinches. An owl hoots softly outside the window. Ginny thinks of Luna, of her kind eyes and those stale rock cakes and of how she’ll be next. She can only hope they don’t come at night, the way they got Neville and Seamus for vandalizing the Charms corridor. She sits up, presses hands to her trembling thighs. Her breath is coming in shorter bursts. She closes her eyes, fights her lungs for control.

“You think you can make fools of us, do you? Defying the Dark Lord right under our noses?!” Alecto’s words reverberated through the dungeon while Ginny burned, unable to recognize the sounds ripping from her own throat.

“No one’s coming for you. That’s what happens when you spread your legs for a filthy half-blood.”

Ginny opens her eyes to count the speckles in the ceiling. Her face feels cold and dewy. The breath heaving through her chest is chokingly airless. Unwillingly, she thinks of him, furious that Alecto twisted that particular knife. More furious that she took the bait.

They were early to breakfast; only a few students and staff dotted the tables.

“We could just grab some toast and go,” he offered, swinging his leg over the bench beside her. “Get first claim of the pitch.”

The ceiling above promised thick rain clouds, ending the week the way it started. She paused mid-yawn when he edged closer, his thigh nudging hers.

“If I’m going to keep up with you on a Cleansweep, I need coffee first.” Eyes narrowed, fighting a smile.

He arched a brow. Spread honey on his toast and selected an underdone slice of bacon. The faintest hint of a smirk.


He was close enough to steal her breath, and his gaze roved her face, deep green and penetrating, memorizing her. For a wild second she thought he’d kiss her right there, long and full and slow like they were alone. He pressed a lopsided grin to her temple instead.

“I’ll ride the Cleansweep. Take my broom today.”

It’s a drug, letting him in, hearing his voice. Stronger than asphodel or dittany, warming her and easing the tremors. She seethes at her own weakness.

Alecto’s voice was dangerously soft, high above where she lay curled on the floor. “You don’t know where he is, do you? If you did, he’d be here by now, wouldn’t he? He’d come for you.”

A heavy blow from behind, the toe of a boot to Ginny’s shoulder. Over her groan, louder than before: “Crucio!”

She presses the heels of her palms to her eyes, seeing bursts of color, willing it away, and she caves, letting him flood her senses. Hands, sturdy and calloused on her skin… laughter muffled by her hair… furrowed brows and lingering kisses and easy smiles. Gone, now. Somewhere out there. Stone-faced and determined and hurting, probably. The dichotomy is hard to fathom.

“Can I ask you something?” Her quill had been poised over her Defense essay, ink drying in the tip, for several minutes while she’d assembled the courage, tucked on the sofa in the dying light of the common room fire.

“Hm?” He didn’t open his eyes, head on her thigh while the rest of their House slept.

Her breath felt trapped, high in her chest. “About the prophecy.”

His eyes opened to meet hers, opaque where before they’d been light, fathomless. A flicker of betrayal stole across his features, replaced by something else. He sat up slowly. She felt suddenly cold in the absence of his weight.

“Please, Gin,” he croaked. Begged. “Don’t… don’t make me lie to you. I can’t.”

Horrible, sickly guilt spread down from her throat, flaring as she realized she’d shattered something unspoken. “Okay.”

He hugged his knees to his chest, staring eons through the table, saying nothing.

“I’m sorry.”

He shook his head bitterly, resting his chin on his shoulder and avoiding her eyes still. “Don’t be. I know it’s shitty of me.”

“It’s not,” she breathed. Surely his thoughts had strayed to Sirius, to his parents, to Ron and her father. Had they all known? “I get it.”

His lips pressed into a twisted grimace, and he snorted humorlessly.

Ginny abandoned her quill, holding her breath and summoning the remainder of her bravery to touch him. Fingers brushed through his hair, avoiding his forehead. He was still as she lifted her face to his, lips yielding. For a moment she thought he might push her away, but he softened, leaning in, clutching when she moved to straddle his lap, taking her face gently between his hands when they parted.

And now she recognized his pain, hidden carefully behind a look so tender and yearning that it startled her. It was killing him, not telling her.

Her breaths lengthen, even though her shoulder screams and her heart thunders against her sternum.

They never spoke of the prophecy again.

She suspects he came close, once during that dizzying, sickening conversation after the funeral. Again over the summer, when he slipped up and tipped her off about his departure. But by then there was nothing left between them to break. He didn’t owe her an explanation. Didn’t owe her anything.

“What’s so special about him? He must be quite a remarkable young man for you to care about him so much. Tell me more.”

There’s a voice, somewhere inside her, that whispers tales of fantasy, of a different life far beyond the castle walls. A place she goes to now, where her head isn’t throbbing down to her fingertips… one with forgotten war and Quidditch played over salty, glittering waves… unencumbered futures and sprawling afternoons… sun in her eyes… declarations whispered across a pillow, indulgent touches and mussed hair and green eyes dark and hungry, the way she’s seen them a few times, the way that still makes her flush…

The voice, perhaps hers or perhaps belonging to a beguiling young man with dark eyes and a cruel smile, reminds her that it’s too late. They might have had that chance, if she’d made him choose. If she hadn’t let him go without a fight, without offering to escape to foreign shores and never give his scar another thought.

She had a chance.

And now he’s probably going to die.

It hurts in the space beneath her ribs, a hollow, gnawing sort of pain that grows far too big for its cavity in her body and steals her breath, threatening to break her.

“No one can hear you down here, Ginny. Quiet, stupid girl. It’s nearly over.”

Later, she’ll remember these moments when he’s beside her again, haunted and angry and different, chasing their past between tender touches and tormented dreams. And when he’ll ask about these nights, she’ll lie. And so will he.

But now she only aches, her head finding the pillow again as the tears finally come, warm on her temples and with no intention of stopping, lips closed tightly around a scream.
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