"How bitter a thing it is to look at happiness through another man's eyes!"
-As You Like It, Act V, Scene II
Her screams reverberated around the room to achieve such a high decibel that surely, surely someone would come running. They'd race down the steps and kick down the heavy iron door with such force that it'd slam against the wall and startle her torturers to the point of launching themselves five, ten, fifty feet into the air....
With a final jerk, the pain was lifted, leaving her on the ground in a puddle of sweat and a thick, dark liquid that surely had to be her blood. She lay still, panting, waiting for whatever taunt or curse the Carrows would have in store for her next.
"You done yet, girly?" drawled the man, Amycus. His figure cast a shadow across the child's face as he loomed over her cowering figure, but Ginny couldn't bring herself to stare into those cold, loveless eyes; if she did, she felt she might be sick. She stared, fixated, at the Death Eater's feet as he carried on. "About to... tip over the edge?" He mocked falling to the ground, as his sister shrieked with laughter behind him. Ginny said nothing; she was long past the point of the witty remarks that had kept her locked in this dungeon far longer than they had said this 'detention' would last. With shadows pressing at the edges of her vision, a ringing in her ears that seemed to dart around her head, and her wand in the corner of the room, far out of her reach, she could only hope for them to be finished, whether this meant abandoning her or killing her.
She felt a sharp pain in her midriff as Alecto kicked her. "YOU WILL RESPOND WHEN SPOKEN TO!" she roared for the umpteenth time that night. The world lurched drunkenly as Alecto grabbed Ginny by the arm and yanked her onto her feet. Ginny glared at her, still gasping for breath. She felt as if a twenty-pound weight was tied onto each of her bones; if Alecto released her tight grip on her wrist, she'd collapse onto the ground like a marionette with cut strings. The Death Eater's left hand wielded a gigantic blood-stained knife, which she had already put to use dozens of times. The wounds already opened by Alecto's beloved knife, scattered across Ginny's back and stomach, throbbed painfully as the Death Eater, grinning maniacally, dug the knife tip into the girl's forearm. Ginny cringed and writhed, but refused to make a sound as the knife was dragged down her forearm to her wrist. With a growl, Alecto withdrew the knife. She was dissatisfied; Ginny hadn't displayed enough signs of pain.
Her muscles tingled, and she couldn't think past the fog that had settled across her brain. She struggled to put together a simple cause-and-effect chain: Alecto Carrow was unhappy, so now what? She knew what was about to happen... knew it, but couldn't bring it forth...
Alecto released Ginny, who fell to her knees, clutching her profusely bleeding forearm with a blood-soaked hand. Amycus stepped forward, and, too late, Ginny realized what would happen to her once again. "No," she wheezed. Her voice was so worn from screaming that it hardly sounded like it could belong to anyone who wasn't a bullfrog.
Amycus ignored her, and raised his wand. "Crucio!"
Her bones were on fire: there was no other explanation for the pain that she felt. Though she would have liked nothing more than to scream so loudly that the entire castle might hear her, not a sound escaped her cold, chapped lips. Her entire body convulsed, then lay limp on the ground, completely consumed with pain.
Her lips moved of their own accord, her tongue moved in ways she did not know she had the strength for. "End it..." she hissed. She wanted to cry out, but instead felt her eyes shift up to the horrified looks on the Carrows' faces. "End it..." she repeated. "Please..." She felt the pain lessen. Somehow, this thing she was doing, it was working. She felt a rush of boiling hot anger flood her body. "DO IT! END IT!" she hollered. The agonizing pain was lifted; she only heard the squeaking of shoes on the stone floor as the Carrows fled her presence before the world went dark.
"Ginny - GINNY - wake up, dammit - GINNY!" somebody was yelling.
She was being roughly shaken; she threw a hand off her shoulder and opened her eyes. A disheveled and anxious-looking Hermione stood over her, wand at the ready. She relaxed visibly when she saw Ginny's eyes flutter open. "Oh, thank goodness you're alright," she said breathlessly. "I left to get my book, and when I came back you were - twisting around and - you - you were... Were you having another... dream?"
Ginny took a moment to intake her surroundings before responding; she was seated in her favorite armchair by the fire in the Gryffindor common room; right where she belonged. "Was I speaking Parseltongue, Hermione?"
Hermione bit her lip. "That's all I can figure - you sounded just like Harry did when he used to to do it - are you all right?"
"You know, I've actually been a tad better," Ginny replied harshly. She sank into the armchair, tempted to let sleep consume her.
It had been nearly a year since the Carrows tortured her such that she burst into Parseltongue, since the morning Neville found her lying unconscious in a puddle of blood and vomit, and upon awakening her, voiced his terror that the Carrows may have done to her what Bellatrix Lestrange did to his parents. Surely, she had almost reached the point of insanity; something strange and horrible had been happening inside her head, and she hardly made it out of that dungeon alive.
Though she would have liked to have moved past the incident by now, since her return to Hogwarts for her seventh year, Ginny had been experiencing what she could only accurately describe as flashbacks - dissociation from the world around of her in favor of reliving the trauma. Neither Hermione nor Professor McGonagall could figure out what to do with her, how to help her.
"I don't understand," she confessed weakly.
Hermione just looked at her, an expression of pity on her face, and Ginny resented her for it. She didn't need pity - she needed action, help even. Suddenly Hermione's face lit up. "I..." she muttered. "I am an absolute imbecile."
Ginny raised an eyebrow.
Hermione scooped up her bag, and made for the portrait hole. "I'll be back," she called over her shoulder.
Ginny glared at her retreating figure. "What for?" she demanded, but Hermione was already gone.