Title: From the Wings of Madness.
Warnings: Non-con, torture, polyjuice, magic used during sex, character death (Not James or Voldemort)
Summary: And it was almost a relief. He didn’t have to fight anymore; he had no control over what was going to happen – he need make no decisions, no plans, take no action other than what was ordered. There was some comfort in that. Some peace. Everything was beyond his control now; he bore no responsibility for anything that happened to him or to others.
Disclaimer: The characters in this story are not mine. I am just borrowing their likeness for personal amusement.
Author's notes: Thanks to my wonderful betas who gave me enormous insights into these characters. I will be eternally grateful. forestgreen I tried to use as many kinks as I could from your prompt. I also had to choose your last pairing selection. I have trouble writing anything where Harry is tortured and I cannot write a decent Snape or Lucius to save myself. I really hope you like what I have done in this story; I enjoyed working on this dark twisted mindfuck.
From the Wings of Madness.
“In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man's torments.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human, 1878
Comprehension came slowly to James. At first there was just the faint knowledge of consciousness, the type that comes when waking from a terrible dream – a knowledge that he had to wake up, that where he was wasn’t familiar, wasn’t where he was supposed to be.
From the first glimpse of awareness, it took another few minutes of fighting with his numbed body, forcing it to work before he could open his eyes.
When he did, he wished he’d lost the fight.
The answer to why his body felt numbed and not under his control became clear when he managed to twist his head sideways. Heavy chains and manacles bound his arms to the wall, stretching them higher than his shoulders. The blood must have drained from them and taken away all feeling. From the angle, he could tell he was standing but he could not feel his legs; perhaps he’d been standing, hanging there for hours or days even.
Hanging where, though?
All the training he’d received, all the experience he’d gained from fighting Voldemort’s Death Eaters, filtered its way through to his fogged brain and stopped him from panicking for now, giving him a starting point, a list of things he should stop and think about before doing anything.
The last thing he remembered was approaching an isolated cottage out on Rannoch Moor in Scotland in the hope of surprising a Death Eater in hiding. He’d been with Benji Fenwick and Marlene McKinnon, two of his fellow Order members, and they’d received a tip that McNair and Nott were staying in the cottage.
Wherever he was now, it was definitely not that cottage. Just four blank and featureless walls, cold and rank, smelling of old blood and the rancid aroma of fear that had bled into the stones.
And he was alone. It pained him to think of what might have happened to his partners - if they were in the same situation as he or if they had escaped. He could only hope that they escaped. He could hope that he escaped, too.
There was a dull throb in his shoulders that called out for him to shift them but it was impossible to find any relief, restrained as he was. When he looked up at his wrists, he saw streaks of dried blood that decorated his arm to the elbow. They looked raw and chaffed; he must have been taking his whole body weight on them after his legs gave out.
Any attempt to look down at his legs was partially thwarted by what felt like a metal collar around his throat, holding his neck solidly against the wall.
Damn. He had very little, if any, movement and what he did have was stymied by the fact that he couldn’t feel anything apart from the ache in his shoulders. Briefly, panic flared through his chest and a sweat broke out on his body, prompted by the sick realisation that he was trapped.
No matter how hard he tried, he could not move his limbs – even forcing his brain to tell his limbs to move seemed to have no result. In desperation, he strained against the collar round his throat, pushing forward as if to pull the collar from its anchor in the wall. All that did was cut off his air flow and before long he saw spots in front of his eyes. In his weakened state he passed out.
The next time he woke it was to the feel of something warm wrapped around his cock, stroking him, and for a moment he thought it must have been Lily finding a nice way to wake him. With his eyes still closed and a glorious heat spreading through his body, centering at his groin where he knew he was hard, James luxuriated in the arousal.
“Welcome back, Mr. Potter,” a soft, raspy voice hissed in his ear.
James’ eyes flew open in shock, and then dread sent chills of adrenalin through him as the memory of where he was came crashing back. Worse was the revolting realisation that it was Voldemort who was stroking his erection. Disgusted, he tried to move his hips back, forgetting that he couldn’t. He remained motionless then, trying to will it away, but whispered words from beside him made any wish pointless as he felt something wrap around the base of his cock and tighten, effectively cutting off the reverse flow of blood.
He moaned in frustration tinged with fear and humiliation and he struggled against his manacles in an utterly futile attempt to escape them. He wasn’t going to speak, though; he refused to give Voldemort the satisfaction of breaking him. A steely band of determination settled in his stomach and a defiant glare at the deformed wizard made him feel better. Despite the forced threads of arousal still permeating his body.
“You amuse me, Mr. Potter,” rasped Voldemort. “You’re one of Dumbledore’s selected supporters aren’t you? One of those misguided optimists who think that old fool can defeat me? He won’t win you know.”
James refused to speak; he knew damned well that Dumbledore was the probably the only wizard in the world that could conjure up any sort of fear from this travesty of a wizard.
“Such defiance, such dedication from one so young.” James detected almost an admiring tone in that revolting voice. “My spy tells me that you are the rising star in Dumbledore’s little army, one of his most devoted servants – his protégé if you will.”
“I serve no one,” James spat, immediately kicking himself mentally for reacting to his goading.
“Of course not,” Voldemort crooned in an attempt at a seductive tone that just nauseated James further.
More whispered words and James’ whole body experienced a faint but not unpleasant tingling, heating him through, building up and making him suddenly acutely aware of every nerve ending in his body. Then the thin bony hands were back, stroking his erection and James bucked in an attempt to evade them. The head of his cock, already flushed with the blood of his arousal had become ultra sensitive and James felt his will to resist ebbing.
“W-what have you done to me?” he groaned weakly.
“A simple sensitivity spell, Mr. Potter. Does it not heighten your pleasure?”
“What do you want from me?” It was perhaps the first time that James had even thought to ask. He had assumed that he’d be tortured and killed; he had definitely not expected this.
“I intend to make you see that no matter what you do, I will not be defeated, Mr. Potter. Or may I call you James?” The sickening sibilant voice almost purred in his ear. “It rolls off the tongue so effortlessly and one should have the pleasure of their given name being the last thing they hear as they depart this mortal world.”
“Just kill me and get it over with,” James spat, closing his eyes and trying desperately to not think of the hard aching length of cock between his legs that was being so expertly stroked.
“But where would the fun be in that?”
God, anything would be better than listening to this slick, smug bastard. James struggled against his restraints again, knowing it was useless and all it did was to make the hands round his cock tighten, accompanied by a hiss of pleasure. Clearly Voldemort was getting off on his rebelliousness, and it was enough to shift his priorities, returning to passivity once more.
“No, if I killed you now, you would go to your death full of righteous anger, still believing that in the end I will be defeated. I want you to know deep down in your soul that there is nothing anyone can do to stop me. Then, James, then I will have relieved you of your doubt, relieved you of your guilt about leaving the battle unfinished.”
The maddening hands were working his cock again, and in his current frame of mind the sickly rasping sound of Voldemort’s voice grated on him, acting like sandpaper across his skin, irritating it, enflaming it and making him desperate to come just to relieve the pain.
“Why would I do this, you ask? I am not an animal, James, and you are a pureblood. I would not have you approach the afterlife in such an upheaval of emotions. Your passing should be peaceful. We wouldn’t want any spectral manifestations of your grief, now, would we? Besides, seeing the great James Potter begging me to kill him is very…arousing.”
James was rapidly losing the ability to process what Voldemort was saying and he certainly wasn’t going to think about an aroused Voldemort. Everything now ached. Far from being numb, now he was fairly burning with sensation. His head throbbed spectacularly as did his cock, but he was not going to give in. He could let Voldemort taunt him some more, or he could do what he’d accidentally done before.
Straining hard against the metal collar round his throat, pulling away from the wall as much as he could, his vision began to blur and he experienced a wave of dizziness before he deliberately slammed his head back against the cold wall and mercifully let the darkness overtake him.
As soon as James came to, sometime later, he felt the results of his actions. His head had been strapped to the wall with a band of metal across his forehead. It restricted his movement completely and he yelled in frustration, struggling to find some weakness in his bindings but knowing that he wouldn’t.
“You made him really angry, Potter.”
James started and his eyes darted from side to side, searching for the owner of the voice. He hadn’t even checked to see if he was alone before he’d given in to his frustration and yelled. Obviously, he was not, and the voice sounded familiar, lighting a flimsy glimmer of hope inside him. Maybe someone had come to rescue him? But the person must have been outside his line of vision, or in the shadows, because he could make out no body shapes in the room. He’d lost his glasses somehow so most of the room wasn’t in sharp focus.
“Who are you? Do I know you?”
A dark blur materialized in front of him into a hooded and masked man. Quickly, the figure removed the mask and James gasped at who it was. He looked so much like his brother that for one fleeting moment James thought maybe Sirius had found him. The hateful sneer though was nothing like Sirius’ and James’ hope deflated.
“Black,” James said, resigned.
“One and the same. Not so cocky now, are you, Potter?”
There was pain lancing his body now. A deadened pain of nerves screaming to be able to move, it thrummed through him making him shake.
“W-what do you want?” James croaked out, and wondered how long it had been since he had been fed or given any fluids.
“Just to remind you that you picked the wrong side.” There was a smug tone to Black’s voice; one that was a very ‘Black’ trait. Sirius had it, too. James would have given anything had it been Sirius’ voice he was listening to now instead of his brother.
“Never,” he replied, but there was no authority behind it, though he did try to keep his eyes on Regulus and he noticed when an odd expression crossed his face.
Any chance of deciphering what it meant vanished as Voldemort stepped in to the room and the sight of him made everything else disappear from James’ conscious thought. All but a raging hatred for the thing in front of him.
“You surprised me, James. That was very resourceful of you,” Voldemort said. There was that admiring tone again. Then, as James watched the skeletal face, the eyes hardened. “I would advise that you do not continue to test my patience. There are worse things than dying, Mr. Potter.”
In a feeble effort at resistance – he knew that he was weakening rapidly – James retorted. “Like having you grope me?”
“That, James, was just my bit of fun. I like to show my guests that there is a fine line between pleasure and pain. Before we are done, I will push you to the pits of despair, then raise you to the greatest heights of pleasure and in the end you will realise that I always get what I want and you will be begging me for the pleasure. You should be honoured that you are deserving of my time.” The silky smooth tone was back in Voldemort’s voice and James was finding it hard to keep up with the change from one moment to the next.
And he barely knew what to think. Every action was unpredictable and he was on edge just thinking about what might come next. They’d been trained about how to deal with pain but he’d never had to use any of that particular training before and he already knew that his own defenses against it were woefully inadequate; he suspected all of the Order’s training was.
The best James could do was to close his eyes and hope that everything went away. Even the luxury of becoming unconscious had been taken from him. “Whatever, just get on with it,” he replied tiredly, not even caring anymore. There was no feeling in either his arms or his legs and he was sure that even should he escape, he would lose some extremities like fingers and toes from a lack of circulation.
“You’ll need your eyes open for this, James, my pet,” Voldemort said. When James reluctantly opened his eyes, he saw Regulus carting over a small pensieve to the middle of the room. He frowned, even now unable to stop thinking. And wondering exactly what relevance a pensieve had.
“There are two very special memories in this pensive, and we will watch them over and over again, until you see.”
He was about to ask ‘see what?’ when Voldemort waved his wand over the pensieve and a vision uncoiled itself from the waters and rose swirling and clearing until a full picture emerged. James barely had time to realise that he could see Regulus through the semi transparent picture, before he recognised where the memory was set.
The last mission. Voldemort must have been hidden in the small copse of trees at the back of the house, from the angle the vision indicated. In the gloom, James could make out the three shapes of himself, Benji and Marlene advancing on the house. As they drew nearer, James could see how hard the three of them were concentrating, never realising it was a trap. He struggled in his bonds, unable to move; knowing that whatever Voldemort wanted him to see was not going to be pretty. Every part of him wanted to scream a warning to the three but he knew it was too late for that. Too late. The fact that it was a trap meant that there was a traitor in the Order.
James’ eyes darted around the vision and he became aware of other shapes huddled in the bushes alongside Voldemort. Robed and hooded shapes. Death Eaters, obviously. His chest panged in regret. The three of them had never stood a chance, had they?
A low moan in his throat erupted as he watched the three of them quickly overpowered and stunned. He closed his eyes against the sight of Marlene and Benji lying there still, so still he’d had to really study their chests to see that they were breathing. Once he’d satisfied himself that they were, he told himself that if he didn’t watch this, he could still fool himself into believing that they’d escaped.
Unfortunately, Voldemort was having none of that. He cast the sensitivity spell on him - the same one as before - and suddenly James could feel every nerve ending in his body again. Terse words followed the acute rush of pain in his extremities. “You’ll watch this, James.” Rebelliously, he scrunched his eyes shut against both physical and emotional pain he knew he was going to suffer.
But at a word from Voldemort, only one word – “Regulus” – which must have been accompanied by a visual direction, James felt a hot wetness close around his cock. He yelped and opened his eyes, looking down as best he could to see the dark head of his best friend’s brother sucking at the rapidly hardening appendage between his legs.
Even in his heightened state of anxiety and pain, James registered that it felt good. So good he groaned. He was sure he could feel every ridge in Regulus’ mouth and as his tongue swiped over the head of his cock, James almost forgot himself and begged Regulus not to stop.
“Now, James, you will watch this delightful scene, and perhaps you will understand that I will not, can not, be stopped. No matter what.”
Resigned and panting in his attempt to hold back the flood of euphoria from overtaking him, James looked up at the scene, a sudden foreboding mingled with the tingle of arousal fluttering wildly in his stomach.
Benji looked like he had been tossed in a heap behind the cottage. James could see a livid bruise forming on his temple and he caught his breath wondering if he were still alive. Surrounding him were perhaps a dozen hooded and robed Death Eaters and, despite the thudding pulsing arousal that was still dominating his body, James felt his stomach drop in dread of what was coming next.
As one by one the Death Eaters began to throw hexes at Benji’s unresponsive body, it seemed that James’ whole world went silent apart from his own gasping, heaving breaths and the soft slick sounds of sucking. The twin horror of being so desperately in need of coming and sickened by what he was seeing coursed through him, and what little movement he had in his hips he used to rock into the hot mouth that was driving him insane.
In the memory Voldemort flicked his wrist and Benji suddenly screamed; the guttural primal scream of one who is dying. At the same time, the real Voldemort slithered up beside James and began to whisper in his ear.
“You see how futile it is, James? Now, you’re going to feel the ecstasy in submission; the glory in the pleasure of pain. Watch.”
Voldemort cast the sensitivity charm on him again and James howled, watching as Benji virtually disintegrated under wave after wave of hexes, and he came, screaming, into Regulus’ mouth, weakened, exhausted, sickened and utterly shattered.
Some time later when James’ sobbing had ceased, he felt gentle hands wiping the tears from his face. Opening his eyes painfully, he was surprised to see a very white faced Regulus tending to him. “Reg-“ he rasped. “Why?”
Regulus snatched his hand away from James’ face, frowning. “Why what, Potter? Why was your friend killed?”
James could swear he saw a flicker of disgust on Regulus’ face but he was too weary to be sure of anything, so he just nodded.
“Because he was on the wrong side of this war,” Regulus sneered, and the white face and the ghost of the trauma in his eyes were gone.
Regulus stepped back and a jet of cold water washed over James making him shriek using almost the last of his energy. “The Dark Lord wants you himself next time. Clean. Washed clean of the stench of your filthy traitorous sweat,” Regulus hissed.
James didn’t have the energy to argue with him; he felt like he’d never have the energy to do anything ever again and he knew that he was on the verge of losing all his hope. No one had come to rescue him; he was unable to do anything to help himself, Benji was dead, Marlene probably was as well and James himself was in all likelihood going to follow very shortly. From his vantage point, Voldemort really did seem indestructible. James had nothing to fight back with, apart from his dignity and Voldemort had ways of making him lose that, too.
Minutes, hours, days later - James had no idea of time, disoriented as he was by lack of food and water - Voldemort made another grand entrance along with Regulus and, James noticed lethargically, the pensieve. He was almost beyond reacting, as he had nothing with which to protect himself from whatever they wanted to do to him. All he could do was hope that the end came soon, but it was a faint hope, barely acknowledged, as the certainty that he would be held and tortured over and over again for Voldemort’s pleasure was lodged implacably in his mind.
“How are you today, James? Ready to take another step along the road to accepting the truth?”
Even Voldemort’s silky tone refused to raise his rebellious nature and he hung there watching Voldemort with dulled eyes and little interest. He paid virtually no attention to proceedings until he heard Voldemort instruct Regulus curtly.
“Y-yes, my Lord.”
It was this tiny stutter and the barely discernible shake in Regulus’ voice that captured James’ attention. Then he noticed that a sturdy table had been set in front of him and as he looked at Regulus, the young man was swallowing a vial of an unknown potion, lifting it to his mouth with a trembling hand.
A number of things happened in quick succession then and James had no time to comprehend any of it but hung there shocked, fear knotted tightly in his chest as his heart threatened to stop.
Regulus began to change, his hair changed colour and lengthened; his eyes turned from grey to a russet brown; his body changed shape and became that of a female.
Then the face became that of his esteemed partner, Marlene, who surely must be dead now.
As this was happening, Voldemort recast the sensitivity spell over James’ yet again and the tremor that shook his body in pleasure was becoming addictive, lined as it was with the tingling pain that shot through his arms and legs. Whilst his body reacted his brain fought it and he looked in horror toward Voldemort, wanting desperately to ask questions but unable to bring himself to. Why was Regulus taking Polyjuice to look like Marlene? What had happened to Voldemort wanting James for himself this time?
Voldemort saved him the trouble of asking questions by answering them with a flick of his wrist, pulling the next memory from the pensieve and setting it shimmering in the dull room. Oddly enough, it looked like this room; the very one James was in now. The same four walls, the same stone floor and, ominously, the same table.
When the door to the room in the memory opened and a naked, barely conscious Marlene was dragged in by two anonymous Death Eaters, who strapped her face down to the table and left, James began to shake. For a moment he watched her struggle weakly, little grunts of frustration making everything seem that much more real. He found the shame to be embarrassed at seeing her so exposed, but under the influence of the spell, he twitched. What was worse was at that exact moment, Voldemort wrapped his bony hand round James’ cock and stroked. Up in the memory, Voldemort’s fingers were probing Marlene’s most private places and she squealed. God help him, but he was getting hard at watching this and, even though he knew he had no control over his body anymore, his brain told him he should be able to stop it.
“No,” James moaned, knowing with a certainly what was coming next. Voldemort was going to make him watch Marlene being raped.
“James,” Voldemort purred excitedly into his ear. “This is the best part. To the victor goes the spoils, right, Regulus?”
James jumped; he’d forgotten about Regulus being there.
“Y-yes my Lord,” was the shaky response as Regulus was climbing up onto the table and settling himself into the same position as Marlene was in the memory. James barely even registered that Regulus was looking shaky and upset, because the true purpose of this scene was now laid before him and his stomach rolled. If there was anything solid in his stomach, James was sure he’d be throwing it up.
“Regulus had kindly offered to give this lesson a touch of reality that was so sadly lacking. How can you know what power is like, unless you experience it? How can you understand the complete exaltation that comes with utilising that power?” Voldemort’s hand was ensuring that each word was accompanied by the flush of arousal thudding in his groin.
“You’re a sick bastard,” James croaked hoarsely. Voldemort just laughed.
“Of course I am but I am the most powerful sick bastard in the world and I think you’re beginning to see that, aren’t you?”
“Never,” James spat back, but they all heard the lie in his voice, hitched as it was with a small sob and a thrust of his hips into the hated hand stroking him.
“See? Already your body is begging me for the pleasure. Not long now until you accept me and then you will find your way into a peaceful death. And have given me some sport in the meantime. I get so bored playing with Muggles.”
Marlene’s squealing had turned to screams as James’ eyes were drawn up to the memory and he saw why. Voldemort had moved in behind her, pulled his robes aside and entered her. He was brutally fucking her, laughing while she screamed.
“Oh, good,” Voldemort hissed in pleasure. “Regulus, you know what to do,” he ordered.
No matter what James did, nor how hard he tried to struggle, Regulus, as Marlene, backed himself onto James’ cock. James fought with himself. The sensitivity spell was sending all the right pleasure signals through him and his body had reacted to the soft heat around his cock more than Voldemort’s hand. He groaned but his brain was telling him that he didn’t want to do this, so he forced his body to stay still, biting his lip so hard it broke the skin and bled. Tremors shook him, the need to move was overpowering but he wouldn’t – he couldn’t - not to Marlene. If he did, while he was watching her being violated in the most brutal way possible, then he was no better than Voldemort.
“Come on, James, give into it,” Voldemort pushed from beside him. James ignored him and continued to bite his lip and watch the memory, determined to at least bear witness to what happened to Marlene, if he ever did escape here alive. It was the last of his defiance- he knew that. The trembling in his body and the sweat that had broken out in his struggle proved that.
Two things happened at once that totally shattered James’s resolve. Voldemort cast the sensitivity spell on him once again, heightening his anguish and need, making every part of his body cry out to move into the inviting heat round his cock.
And Regulus moved.
At first, all James could do was shudder and look down at the polyjuiced body of his friend and partner, hoping that he wouldn’t move again. Voldemort was too smart for that though and prodded Regulus to keep moving.
“Come on Regulus, even the Muggle girls move more than you do. Pretend you’re a two bit whore like the one in the memory and fuck him.”
James couldn’t even process the anger at the insults Voldemort was spewing about Marlene because Regulus did just as he was told and began rocking back and forth on James’ cock. Something vile and slimy twisted in his gut at that point. The insidious creep of despair and lust was tainting his resolve and he cried out; a harsh guttural sound. The meaty tang of blood in his mouth built the wave of hopelessness to fever pitch and dashed him mercilessly against his determination.
To the encouragement of Voldemort beside him, the slap of Regulus’ arse against his thighs and the screams of a defiled Marlene in the memory, James gave in. He surrendered to the flood of sensations and thrust his hips forward and back as best he could. He screamed in agony, apologizing in broken, stuttering words.
“Oh God, I’m so sorry, M-Marlene,” he sobbed. “Reg…oh god, please forgive me…I can’t…I’m sorry…I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…”
“Take it, James,” crooned Voldemort. “That’s it, take the power and…”
Whatever he had been going to say was cut off by the screaming from the memory. They had all begun to blur into a mindless noise as James was thrusting furiously into Regulus, body singing with euphoria at finally being given what it wanted and on the verge of feeling completed. But the screams became words; clear, frightened, begging words.
”James…please…” In his confused, feverish state, it seemed like she was asking for it and before he heard the rest of her impassioned plea, he tensed and came blindingly hard, only to find when he finished that she was still screaming, ”help me…Benji…oh God, please, anyone help me…”
Sick and disgusted at how weak he was in giving in, James closed his eyes and let the tears roll down his face. His body was shaking in the aftermath of both the unwanted orgasm and the horror of the violation both he and Marlene had had to endure. Never had he felt so used and utterly destroyed. The cries in the memory died away, thankfully.
“There now, James, see what fun that was? Could you feel the power fairly bursting to be set free – the need to take what you want, the ability to have your darkest desires at your fingertips, the addictive jubilation of domination? You felt one fraction of the power that I have in my little finger. Do you see yet?”
James didn’t feel powerful. That had been nothing to do with him claiming any sort of power. It was designed to show him that he was completely powerless. He could be violated and abused at the whim of this madman for an eternity and he could do nothing about it. The world was doomed; he knew that now. In his heart he thought he’d known it all along, really. The part of him that was a realist wondered if anyone would be able to ever defeat Voldemort. The optimist in him knew that it would have to be someone extraordinary and that it wasn’t going to be in his lifetime.
But still, he refused to nod. He still had some control over himself; he could refuse to do that. When Voldemort didn’t press, he thought it might have been a rhetorical question after all.
“I’m going to leave Regulus here to clean you up a little and get you ready for the next time, James. I have to admit, you are a very entertaining subject. It’s a shame that you are such a slave to that fool Dumbledore, you would have made a passable minion.”
James heard the voice heading toward the door, but he refused to open his eyes and give Voldemort the satisfaction of seeing the defeat in them. Gryffindor pride, maybe. Not that it mattered; Voldemort knew, had watched him break and he would press on that repeatedly until there was nothing but a husk left. And then he would kill him. James was resigned to that now. Looking forward to it, actually.
He did feel regret that he’d be leaving Lily behind. After they’d left school they’d both found something to love in each other, working as they were in close contact in the Order. They had planned to marry soon. He allowed more tears at the thought of her grief. She was the one thing he’d regret leaving behind. Her and his friends. Sirius, who was like a brother, Remus with his quiet strength and even Peter with his sycophantic hero worship.
“James?” A voice, small and oddly soft made him open his eyes. He’d forgotten that Regulus was still there. The hour the polyjuice lasted wasn’t up, obviously, and he still looked like Marlene. It made James’ heart lurch.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I…”
“Stop it, Potter!” Regulus commanded, harshly. “It wasn’t your fault.”
James sighed. Was it peculiar that he felt resigned to the rape so quickly? It was a sign that he really had given in, given up. And it was almost a relief. He didn’t have to fight anymore; he had no control over what was going to happen – he need make no decisions, no plans, take no action other than what was ordered. There was some comfort in that. Some peace. Everything was beyond his control now; he bore no responsibility for anything that happened to him or to others. His body was returning to its numb state and his brain was following it. Thankful oblivion.
“I’m going to get you out of here,” came the harsh whisper from right beside his ear and his eyes jerked open in shock.
“Won’t work,” he whispered back, raggedly. Why bother to try and escape? Voldemort would only stop them.
“It will. I have a way out for you.”
“Why? Why would you want to do that?” James’ voice was ragged, but dull and lifeless.
“Because, now I see what he is. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. He lured me in with dreams of glory and power. Dreams of protecting us from Muggles and Mudbloods and it’s nothing like that. I want out and if I leave you here, Sirius will kill me, so you’re getting out too.”
“He’ll just come after us,” James protested. “He can’t be stopped. You heard him; you saw him.”
“I have a plan,” Regulus insisted. “There’s something…I have a plan that will work.”
James was too tired and dejected to believe him but when a spell removed his shackles and he was lowered onto the table, he yelled in fresh agony when the pain of limbs that had been bound for so long had movement once more. It ripped through his arms and shoulders, the blood rushing to deadened extremities for the first time in who knew how long.
Regulus leant over him and pressed something into his hand. “This is a portkey. It will activate in a few moments and take you to Sirius. It’s the safest place I can think of to send you. Tell him…tell him I’m sorry and I’ll find a way to make it right, I promise.”
Through his pain, James only nodded but thought to ask. “How are you getting out?”
“I have another way out. I have something to get first and I’ll find you.”
“Reg…”James began, but Regulus interrupted him.
“Just don’t give up, Potter. Not again. There is always hope.”
Then the familiar swirling started and James blacked out as he was whisked away to safety.
The ensuing years had not been kind to James. He’d recovered physically from his ordeal but psychologically it had taken its toll, manifesting itself in periods of depression and agitation. Stress about his situation and the lack of word about the fate of Regulus had aged him prematurely. The knowledge that there was a spy in the Order galvanised them into tighter security precautions, but that didn’t stop the casualty count.
He still had no idea why Regulus had saved him and they’d heard no word from him about the plan he’d had, so after months of worrying, James had decided that there had been no plan after all and Regulus was exercising the last bit of filial responsibility and saved him because he was the friend of his brother.
Lily had welcomed him back with open arms and had become rather protective of him, loving him gently back into a functioning human being once more. He still had nightmares about what had happened to Benji and Marlene but they lessened as the weeks and months passed and now only occurred when things in his life were stressful and the doubts about them being able to defeat Voldemort seemed to cloud his judgment.
He’d grieved along with everyone else over losing more Order members, shoring up his determination by repeating Regulus’ words in his head. Just don’t give up, Potter. Not again. There is always hope. Despite his growing certainty that Regulus had stayed with Voldemort, he had given James hope when he’d helped him escape and he was damned if he was going to give up again.
Things started to go downhill when they found Regulus’ body. It had taken them a while to determine who it was, as the body was desiccated and had been dead a long time. James felt a flicker of his hope die, then. Perhaps there had been a plan after all and obviously it had not succeeded.
Still, he battled his demons, fought the black despair that threatened to engulf him and rejoiced in the birth of his firstborn son. Harry’s birth rekindled some of his determination to find a way to succeed and when Dumbledore told them of the prophecy he was only too glad to hide his family under the Fidelius charm, hopefully thwarting Voldemort’s minions by appointing Peter as their secret keeper. No one would ever think they had used him; in fact they let it be rumored as common knowledge that Sirius had been named their secret keeper, with the insistence of Sirius. As a last emergency precaution, they set up a Portkey that would take them directly back to Order headquarters in the event that the Fidelius charm was broken.
Overall, he felt he had done what he could to protect himself and his family, while still offering the Order all that he had in the way of fighting. So, on the second night of their enforced seclusion, James could not explain why he felt a sudden spear of dread. Like there was a hole in his defences somewhere that Voldemort could exploit. He paced the house, biting his lip in worry, listening with growing apprehension to Lily’s soothing chanting of a nursery rhyme to Harry as she rocked him to sleep.
When he heard the sharp cracks of Apparition outside, his stomach sank and he paled. Lily cried out to him and he turned and shouted for her to run. He knew it was useless, though, the sinister indoctrination he’d received showed him how futile it was to try and run. No matter how hard they tried, they would never escape Voldemort. He was able to find anyone anywhere; there was no way to defeat him. None. Voldemort had obviously found Peter and broken him. He felt a momentary pang of regret for what Peter must have suffered before giving Voldemort what he wanted. In a way he hoped Peter hadn’t suffered too much before Voldemort killed him.
He couldn’t fight it anymore; he’d been battling bouts of this defeatism ever since he’d escaped and he’d not realised how much he had banked on Regulus’ plan and used his words of hope to bolster him. Not until now, when he saw finally, clearly, that Regulus’ words were false. There was no hope.
Lily ran through the lounge, her pale frightened face looking to him with a silent question. Then she whispered urgently, “James, why didn’t you get the Portkey?” but he barely registered her words. All he could do was look into her beautiful green eyes and silently say goodbye. Harry had begun to cry, scared by his mother’s tension and she shifted him onto her shoulder and turned and fled the room.
James calmly stood by the front door and, at hearing a peremptory knock and a familiar sibilant voice entreating him to be a good pet and open the door, he swallowed and did as he was told.