Dorcas, panting, wriggled to her knees,
and spat some blood onto the moonlit dirt. Her head was low as she crouched on
all fours, hands braced and digging into the grass, arms shaking. “Crucio,”
said a man again, lazily.
Agony took her, hollowed her out, and
she was screaming. Flipped onto her back, Dorcas’s spine arched, she couldn’t
take it… and the pain stopped. Breath rushed into her lungs, and she rolled
onto her side, heaving breaths in, sobbing with the after-effects. Someone was
speaking to her, but it was the sound of her blood in her ears that occupied
the most of her attention. Her heart stumbled, skipped a beat, and Dorcas
squeezed her eyes shut. “Oh God, let it stop,” her lips formed, but her voice
had been screamed away to nothing. An owl shrieked somewhere off in the trees.
“Get up,” ordered a different man,
voice breathy. The excitable one. Dorcas’s tongue felt heavy and thick in her
mouth, and then she curled around her stomach and heaved onto the grass. She
swiped at her mouth with a shaking hand, and then spat on the ground.
Swallowing painfully, the acid bile was like glass in her throat. “Get up,”
said the man again. Dorcas raised her throbbing head and looked at the
white-masked figures through bloodshot eyes. A muttered spell, and Dorcas was
hoisted up into the air by her ankles.
Dorcas walked her hands up her own
legs, gripping her ankles grimly and keeping her head the right way up. The
chain of her necklace dug into her throat; her muscles screamed in protest, but
Dorcas hung on. This would end; this had to end. They would get bored, please.
They had to realise she didn’t know...
Footsteps, crunching over the dry earth
towards her. A soft voice, comforting, soothing. “You’re only making this
harder for yourself, Meadowes. Let’s try this again, shall we? What do you know
about a prophesy?”
Dorcas, hanging upside down, arms
shaking, closed her eyes. They had tried to break her with pain, and now with
kindness. I cannot break, I mustn’t. “It’s my birthday in a month, you
know.” Her voice was a dry rasp, automatic, her mind wandering. “I’ll be
“The prophesy, Meadowes,” the same
voice, only steel was hidden beneath the silk and gloss, now.
“Cassandra was a famous Seer,” mumbled
Dorcas, absently. “Lots of prophesies: no one believed her. Apollo was in there
somewhere. Didn’t he curse her?”
She heard mutters from the six Death
Eaters present, along the lines of Amycus being a little too enthusiastic with
the ‘crucio’. They thought she was crazy. Maybe she was, a little. The
pain was eating her alive, like a tiger, like a snake. If they thought she was
crazy, would they stop? What prophesy? Dorcas wondered.
A thump as she fell to the ground; a
sharp cry as her ankle crumpled beneath her. Dorcas lay on her side, curled into
a ball. Someone kicked her in the back, but Dorcas rolled with it, limply- like
Pain raked her again, and she screamed,
feet drumming on the earth. It filled her until she thought she would burst
from it, flesh torn from bone, and her hands and feet and head were drumming on
the earth, and--- Oh God… “Enough!” commanded a man in cold, high, tones.
She slumped to the ground, pain leaving
her gradually, tremors shaking her limbs from time to time, spasms locking her
toes in painfully tight curls. Footsteps: the slight crunch of dead leaves, the
slither of a cloak. Dorcas cracked her eyes open and peered upwards.
The Dark Lord leaned down. “Shall I
tell you a secret, little Meadowes?”
Dorcas did not meet his eyes. She
thought of friends, sweet Caradoc, and Gideon and Fabian. She thought about
dying –release- and the brief golden moments at school. She clenched her
eyes shut, heartbeat slow and shallow-fluttery in her throat.
His pale, long fingered hand caught her
chin. “I cannot die,” he whispered.
Dorcas opened her eyes, jerking her
head out of his grip, falling back on to the ground. She sprawled on her back,
and said nothing, choking in breaths against the phantom pain clenching at her
muscles. The air chilled the sweat on her skin.
“Silly girl. Did you think that you
would make a difference? Everything that you have done, everything that you
have sacrificed, has been in vain. You cannot harm me.” His mouth slit in a
parody of a smile. “You and all the rest of the old fool’s rag-tag army cannot
With a shock, Dorcas felt him sifting
through the very edges of her mind, and she clamped down, focused on the pain.
She was exhausted, empty. The pain was all that was left. If he couldn’t die,
what could she do? What could anyone do? All that you can, girl. All that
Dorcas pushed herself up on her elbows,
head tipped to the side, icy certainty stilling her judderings. “Give me my
wand,” she said, voice tight. “Give me back my wand and we’ll see. We’ll see.”
Implacable red eyes gazed down at her,
quite without emotion. There was some quiet, menacing laughter from the Death
Eaters around the clearing. A tall, masked figure stepped forward. “My Lord,”
he said softly, a faint note of a query, or perhaps warning, in his voice.
Dorcas thought she recognized that voice, but her head was buzzing, she could
Dorcas did not look away from a point
just to the left of Voldemort’s eyes.
The Dark Lord appeared to be smiling.
“Stand,” he said quietly.
Dorcas tried to climb to her feet, mind
in fragments of ice, trying to buy herself time. “Stand!” he hissed, and Dorcas
found herself jerked to her feet by invisible ropes, like a puppet. She
staggered, and then caught her balance, swaying dizzily. She put a hand up to
her face and it came away bloody.
The tall Death Eater who had just
spoken to his Lord stepped forward and thrust her wand at her. Dorcas took it
fastidiously from his hand, numbly. He had long, stained fingers, and they
shook very slightly as she scrutinised the smooth mask, trying to see his eyes
through the slits. She wondered if she had known him once.
Her own fingers were icy, but her hands
were steady enough as she gripped her wand with the both of them. No more
pain. No more.
Dorcas was shaking, but it was deep
inside, so it didn’t show too badly. She stood balanced mostly on one leg, and
she knew that she was going to die. It was like the knowledge of her own
breathing- distant- and only obvious when she thought directly about it.
She faced the Dark Lord, wand out. The
moment stretched, Dorcas’s eyes wide, wide, wide. The masks and robes in a
magpie blur, her breath wrenching in her gullet like a rope. She smelt her own
sour sweat, in the dark with pinpoints of lit wands shining like stars. A rake
of his mind against her mind, but Dorcas remembered firelight, and wine, and
flushed faces and smiles, remembered dark eyes and precious things; a kiss, the
photograph that was pinned to her wall at home that would fade with age and sun
in that empty room. Sorrow needled her in her stuttering heart, dull-
unrelenting, as she thought of dust gathering where once she had lived, been
Lord Voldemort recoiled from her
memories, but now his wand lowered to point at her heart. Dorcas’s arms
stretched towards him, wand tip quivering. “Bow,” said the Dark Lord,
mockingly. Dorcas inclined her head, dizzy and aching; opposite her Lord
Voldemort did the same.
She considered an Unforgivable- just
for a second, and then she remembered a kind old man with steel in his eyes,
and that there were things worse than death. She screamed, “Protego!” hoarsely
as Voldemort snapped his wand out at her, but there was no jet of green light.
Dorcas was sent staggering backwards
from his unspoken curse instead; there was a terrible pain in her wand arm-
agony tearing her open from her elbow up. She kept her balance, just barely,
crouching on one knee, cradling her right arm. It hung at a distorted angle,
her wand dangling from suddenly nerveless fingers. Her Shield spell had stopped
the worst of it, but her wand arm was still broken.
She laughed because this was never
meant to be a fair fight, and tugged the wand into her left hand. Grim now,
getting to her feet and, this time, there was no counter curse- not for the jet
of green light that shot from her enemy’s wand, nor for the rushing that filled
her ears. No time, no time, laughter gone, goodbye, love; one last
she died with her wand in her hand.