Chocolate (with a Twist of Wolf)
Disclaimer: All characters are owned and operated by J.K. Rowling; I'm just taking them out for a stroll.
This story ©2003 by Lady Narcissa. Rated PG-13
Sometimes it's the drip-drip-drip from ceiling to floor that wakes me up; other times it's the all-too-familiar wave of cold and fear that tells me I was having a rare good dream. They're outside my cell 24/7, the bastards; I'd kill them all if they could be killed. Then at least I'd be here for a reason.
What do I think about most? Not the night James and Lily were killed. Not the day I got sent here without a trial. Not the day Lily told me she was in love with James. Not even the night in here I found out Remus's parents were dead, although all those things are up there on the list. For sanity's sake, I make lists. I categorise events--from merely irritating to annoying to truly bad to heartbreaking to devastating--because that's what I have to work with.
No, what I think about most is that my worst fear--from the time I can remember feeling fear--was about being locked up. One time James locked me into a classroom as a joke; I nearly strangled him when I got out. Even the most innocuous things like being in the one compartment on the long train ride from London to Hogsmeade used to drive me into irrational panic. But at least then I had books to keep me company, and Remus.
Drip, drip, drip.
There are impenetrable bars on the one tiny high window; I figure they're part of the structure of the wall. I'm tall, but the window is too far up for me to look through. An ingenious additional piece of torture. Outside I can hear waves lapping against rock. The water taunts me; it lulls me to sleep sometimes. It calls my name, hints at things that are wild and free, reminds me I can't get out of this cell. I've bloody well tried. We all have, all of us in here.
It's dark in here, and it's wet and cold in the winter and so damn hot in the summer, and the sun beats down on the side of the prison and every now and then a golden ray lights up the stone walls but only for a second, and the first time I saw it I smiled but as soon as I smiled at the sunshine, whoosh, five Dementors stood at the door and sucked that happy glimpse of warmth and peace right out of me.
What I wouldn't give most days for a piece of chocolate. I don't mean one of those giant slabs from Honeydukes that Remus, with his sweet tooth, always carried. I just want a drop, just a taste. Just enough to feel human.
When there's a full moon, I think of him. I wonder where he is, and how he's taking care of himself, and if he's killed someone or something that night, and how I used to be able to help him. And who's with him, who's helping him now, and does he ever think of me. All pathetic sorry thoughts, so they're mine to play with.
It's twelve strides across the wall with the cell door then six strides on the short wall then twelve on the side with the too-high window then six. Twelve, six, twelve, six. A short walk every day, every hour, every so often. They don't let me out. There is no prison work yard, no mess hall, no hospital wing. When people get sick here, they curl up into a fetal position and die. The Dementors don't care.
There's a bed, or a sorry excuse for one. A mattress on the floor. Once, a rat got in and curled up next to me on the bed. It made me cry, seeing another living thing.
Then I transformed into a dog and ate it.
During those times when it's just too bloody much, I do that. What the hell, the Dementors can't see, they only know there's still a living being inside the cell. They don't care what state my mind is in. They only get excited when a stray happy thought floats by; they all crowd the door. I can feel them coming.
I play mind games with them, though, remembering my father quoting that old piece of horseshit about what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger. So I'll relax, invite a thought in. Maybe some piece of fluff from long ago--getting good marks on an exam, or seeing some tasty young thing walk by--and feel them nearing the cell door. Then I send the thought away before they can take it. I used to suck at this game, but I'm pretty bloody expert at it by now.
I don't know how long it's been. There are no weeks or months or years here, no watches or clocks or calendars. Only the dimmest daylight and the darkest nightfall. Sometimes there's food, sometimes there isn't. There's always sleep as the only escape. Face it, either people go mad right away or they learn to sleep twenty hours a day, or however much it is.
By now I love being a high profile high-security prisoner. I get lonesome when there are only one or two Dementors outside the door. That's when I reach through the bars for them, tear away pieces of their robes, drive them crazy for a change. They hate it but I learned pretty fast they're powerless against it. And the only thing prisoners can do is try to find a crack in the system. It's one place where I can change that balance of power, if only for a second or two.
The other is what I already mentioned: transforming myself. Dogs still feel pain and still get sad and still hate being locked up, but damn if all those sensations don't get muted just enough to keep me from hanging myself like plenty of others have done here. I wonder if it's better or worse to be innocent and be in here. I know if they'd caught the real murderer he wouldn't have lasted a night. Not little tagalong Pete, always begging for protection. He'd have been gone within hours. He would have deserved it, though personally I would hope he'd last a couple days. Because the first few days were the worst, the most helpless, the most painful, the most horrific. The closest I ever came to suicide.
Unfortunately, I'm too much of a survivor. I can't think of loved ones; the Dementors want those thoughts. So instead I think what a cosmic joke it is on me to be locked in a cell with a mattress on the floor and a crappy toilet and a sink that works maybe half the time, and that drip-drip-drip from ceiling to floor, and the tease of outdoor light and the full moon and the waves on the rocks, and I walk the twelve paces six paces twelve paces six paces, and I eat if there's food and then I sleep, and I wake up and do it all over again. And again.
Drip (James) drip (Lily) drip.