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Blood Speaks

by Northlight

Title: Blood Speaks (1/1)

Author: Northlight


Summary: "Your parents, you have been told, are heroes." Neville Longbottom reflects.

Characters: Neville, Frank Longbottom, Mrs. Longbottom, Gran, Crouch!Moody.

Rating: R--for angst, torture and the effects of such.

Distribution: Ask, and I'll say yes.

Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns these characters.

Beta: Muddy Rain and Elouise Lestat.

Date: June 4-5, 2002. Finalized: July 24, 2002.

Your arms are soft and pale. Flesh dips and swells around your fingertips when you push down into the fat layered thick between bone and flesh. Fat little boy. Nothing like your father was, such a handsome man--but your father is pale and lax and his muscles have turned to fat. He is a still white slug beneath sheets that smell of sickness. Your father's mouth hangs open; the silencing spell doesn't stop his throat from vibrating with the scream no one cares to hear.

You remember that he'd soiled himself the first time you had visited him. The sheets grew wet around him, and he'd stared at the ceiling, his throat working and working and--Dr. Hypos' voice had been very gentle when she'd told you that your father didn't like to be touched. You had rubbed your guilty hands against your thighs and swallowed bile. You remember thinking that the room stank even after it had been cleaned.

Your mother had smelled of vanilla. You were there once when Aunt Tansy dabbed the perfumed oil in the shallow dip behind your mother's ear and then traced dark blue veins into the curve of her bent arms. Your mother had moved more than your father, and the scent of vanilla turned sour wafted around her. Her skin had seemed to ripple as her muscles had twitched and jumped, in constant motion. She looked, you had thought, as if she were running away in her own flesh.

She hadn't screamed while you were there. She had talked to people she once knew--Aunt Tansy, Gran, Great Uncle Algie, Great Aunt Enid, Cousin Kingsley--and you'd been allowed to hold her hand as she looked through you and reminded Kingsley not to run in the house. You had almost managed to convince yourself that her words were an answer to your own, but her whimpered pleas had defeated your imagination, and you'd heard her mind crumble again and again. She had pulled her hand from yours then and curled up at the head of the bed, pushing her face into her hands. You'd had semi-circles embedded into your palms; the perfect twins of those running across the skin above your mother's delicately arched eyebrows.

Your parents, you have been told, are heroes.

You can remember the sour heat that had climbed the back of your throat at the end of that first visit. You'd heaved into the flowering bushes outside St. Mungo's, helplessly, hopelessly. You'd swiped snot and sickness away from your mouth with the back of your hand and had looked over your shoulder at Gran. The sun had been so bright behind her that your eyes had stung and you hadn't been able to see her deeply-lined face. She'd taken your hand--sticky and dirty--and had not let go until St. Mungo's had disappeared from view.

On days such as those, Gran remembers the price of greatness.

Your parents were everything you are not--attractive, witty, charming, respected, talented. You think they must have been perfect, and your family doesn't give you any reason to doubt that. Gran often looks at the image of the broad-shouldered boy hanging above the fireplace and tells you that your father was a Prefect at your age. You are accustomed to sighs--oh, Neville--and you know that everyone is amazed that a child with the blood of heroes in his veins can be such a failure.

They had power and greatness--the pride of the Longbottom family--and yet both of your parents are locked away with minds too shattered to recognize you. Your father drools when you sit at his bedside. Your mother's dark hair is shorn to keep her from tearing it out at its roots. Magic betrayed them--their very skills brought their own destruction down upon them. All their powers were rendered worthless by a single spell--crucio! crucio! crucio!--and your mother's helpless cries and your father's soundless screams constantly drown out everything your professors try to teach you.

You watched a spider twitch and shake before Professor Moody's wand. The memory of your mother's words filled your mind: No, no--God no! No more! Please! Please! Her voice always trailed off into a shrill scream. You have mouthed that curse into tear-dampened pillows, but your traitorous imagination had never approached the sight of this small shuddering spider. Your parents must have shaken as it did; must have trembled so hard that it's a surprise that your mother could beg without biting off her own tongue.

Gran had been the one to find your parents. Now she spends that anniversary in Gramps' old armchair, a bottle of fire-whiskey clutched tightly beneath her sharply jutting ribs. Gran is stern, almost frighteningly fierce. She looks small then, tired and old. She knew your parents when they were still proud, talented, respected--alive. You've never asked her about that night--Gran has seen more than a simple spider curling in on itself in agony, and you felt like screaming at that sight alone.

Professor Moody's face was impassive. His wand was steady. As you watched him you tried not to wonder if the Death Eaters had laughed at your parents' screams of if they hadn't cared at all. You started shaking as hard as the spider then; your desk rattled before you with the force of your emotions. Sick and scared--No more! Please! Please!--and

Then it was over. You hardly heard the professor after that. You stared at the shaking spider. You couldn't remember your father's voice, but that hadn't stopped you from being able to imagine his cries joining in with your mother's familiar ones. You broke your quill. You wouldn't have been able to write anything anyway, even if you hadn't.

There are students here at Hogwarts who will find Professor Moody's presentation exciting--there are students here who will grow up and turn such a curse upon their fellows.

You are so very scared. There are mornings when it takes all of your strength simply to rise from bed.

You are so very angry. You don't know what to do with that emotion, as frightening as fear itself.

That night you draw deep red drapes closed around your bed. You curl up at the head of your bed, pillow bunched up awkwardly at the small of your back. Your arms are soft and pale and flesh dips and swells around your fingertips when you push down into the fat layered thick between bone and flesh. Your nails are ragged and you pull hard enough that skin splits and blood wells to the surface.

You know that blood speaks. You just aren't sure what yours says.

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Northlight

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