The Sugar Quill
Author: oybolshoi (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Swallowed by Darkness  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

A/N: Humbly dedicated to my husband, who doesn’t quite understand my mania for Harry Potter, yet who still encourages me to write about it because it makes me happy.

Borthwick Castle comes courtesy of several biographies of Mary Stuart. I have never been there and do not pretend to know specifics about the castle or its owners. I have used the backdrop of Scotland in the year 1544 for this story because it suits my purpose. Although I hold a BA in History, I plead artistic license in lieu of historical accuracy.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the HP characters or their world (although I wish I did!); Geoffrey Gordon is a fictional character - any resemblance he may bear to someone you know is completely unintentional. In fact, if you know someone like him, I’d suggest that you get a restraining order and consider hiring a bodyguard.

Swallowed by Darkness

“I’ve been expecting you. You’ve been watching me, waiting for the perfect opportunity to summon that famous Gryffindor courage and pose your questions. You’re certainly observant; not many students notice my absence from the Halloween feast year after year. And we all know of your cleverness. But do these attributes make you a worthy confidant? Why should I share this knowledge with you when I rarely divulge the story of my past to my dear Ravenclaws?

No words are necessary; I can see the answer clearly in your eyes. You too have known a bitter betrayal. You too have known sorrow and despair and fear – they were your bedfellows.

It would appear that you and I are kindred spirits.

Very well then, sit. Make yourself comfortable. But remember, as someone very wise once said, ‘the happiest people do not become ghosts.’ Remember, and consider yourself warned.”

October 31, 1544 - Borthwick Castle

How long have I been here? A day, a week…a lifetime? Light does not penetrate these thick walls so I have no means by which to measure the passage of time. The air is close and heavy with an unpleasant, underlying scent that I cannot place, while the darkness is a living, breathing presence, a foreboding entity possessed of a terrible patience.

“I will have you,” it promises silently, enfolding me in an embrace that clings like a dank, mouldering shroud. “Eternity…oblivion…these gifts I grant once you are mine.”

Warily I extend my trembling hands, feeling cold, damp stones that stretch far above and beyond my feeble reach. My fingers are rough and raw from clutching endlessly at the impassive masonry that surrounds me, and my joints are aching and stiff from sleeping on the unyielding floor. Slowly I rise and shuffle around the chamber, keeping close to the wall as I count my footsteps in a futile effort to measure the dimensions of this place. I suspect that I have already preformed this task countless times during the length of my confinement, yet I am compelled to do so once again.

I stumble suddenly, falling awkwardly to my knees. The lack of food and water has left me weak and clumsy, but did I only imagine that my foot made contact with something? Frantically I search through the blackness for the offending object, feeling only dirt and scattered straw beneath my swollen hands. And then, triumphantly, my fingers close around something smooth and cool. As I puzzle over this thing, sudden knowledge, a horrible dawning realization, breaks over me and I begin to scream. Scream upon scream peals from my throat until I am incapable of sound. I am surrounded by dozens, nay, hundreds of shrieking voices, all of them mine, echoing off the walls of my prison. It is a wretched symphony drawn from the bottomless wellspring of my terror.

I know now…God help me, I know. A sizeable pile of human bones rests on the damp floor beside me – a gruesome promise of the fate that will be mine. The sickly sweet stench of human decay hangs in the air like a malevolent cloud. I am at Borthwick…the oubliette…no one, save my husband Geoffrey, knows that I am here. And wherever he may be I know that Geoffrey hears my cries, and he smiles.

How did it come to this? Me, alone in the dark…desolate, forsaken, desperately trying to persuade myself that you are not gone. You will come back. You will not leave me here, entombed within the walls of this castle with encroaching madness my only company as I slowly starve to death. You must come back. Even your callousness cannot encompass the cold-blooded murder of your wife.

Was our wedding only seven years ago? I remember it well. Heaven favored us and smiled kindly upon our revels, bathing us in soft, golden warmth. Do you recall your vows, spoken before God and man? You promised to cherish and protect me.

I believed you. Your eyes, normally so shrewd and calculating, shone on me with such love and promise. I knew a joy and contentment then that I have never known since. As I drift through the memories of that day a growing certainty seizes me; I saw naught in your eyes but the reflection of my own deep love for you. How was I to know then that you would feed on that love and corrupt it, creating something both foul and unrecognizable?

I bore you a son…a handsome, precious child. Our son, but my child, my darling Jamie. You were indifferent to him, excepting those times when his very presence served to enrage you. I turned a blind eye to your behaviour – after all, some men must grow into fatherhood. Oh, I was so foolish! Not until you extinguished the life from his fragile little body did I realize the terrible truth: you hated him because I loved him. You hated your son and you killed him before my very eyes; one quick, practiced twist and his neck was broken. The moment, the malice in your smile, seared my soul for all eternity.

You whispered to me then of the precariousness of my position. We live in perilous times fraught with uncertainties. The king is dead; a small daughter reigns in his place while her French mother acts as Regent. The English invasions devastate our country and the world is in disarray. A hint of disloyalty, a trace of treason - who could fault a man for disposing of such a wife? Who would dare to question my absence?

And even now, consigned by you to this endless hell, I unwillingly admit the shameful truth. In the deepest, most secret places of my heart a small candle still waxes and wanes for you, Geoffrey. In this, the dark night of the soul, I bow my head into my hands and weep.

The only other sound in this oppressive silence is the scurrying of the rats. They grow bold; the long, bald tail of one slithers over my slipper and my skin crawls with revulsion. They can sense weakness and they are impatient for their next meal. And I can only pray that a merciful God will grant me death before they feed.

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