|Scene Title||In the Room Where No One Goes|
|Synopsis||Siobhan is confronted with the twisted evils of the Dark Lord's followers in a terrible way. She learns and finally understands the high cost of this war and of her part in it.|
|Date||October 05, 1995|
|Watch For||THIS IS NOT A HAPPY LOG. IF YOU ARE SQUICKED BY THE AFTERMATH OF TORTURE, DO NOT READ.|
Night fell over the hamlet of Little Hangleton. On top of a hill, where no one went anymore, stood the house of a man who had once been their town's pride and joy. The old house, shrouded in rotting glory, had seen more activity in the last year than it had in the past thirty. Even among the activity - of which all Muggles were blissfully unaware - there was a particular wing of the house into which no one went if they could at all avoid it. And even within this wing, there was a bedroom on the second story where absolutely no one dared to stray. The door was no different than the other doors around the old house. It was locked, but the wood and brass wouldn't stand up to a swift kick, nonetheless a cast Alohomora.
In the inky darkness that comes only on the cloudiest of nights, an empty young girl sat in an empty old painting, using the peace to catch her breath. When Siobhan Noble had followed the passage between two portraits who hadn't been together for a very long time, the most she expected was to end up in the forgotten cavern of a Ministry store room. What she really expected was to get nowhere at all. So when she stepped into a painting of a group of fine ladies dining on historic delicacies and saw the flash of a bone-white mask, she'd quickly hidden herself behind heavy velvet drapes.
She'd almost gotten caught. It was the first time in the three and a half months since she'd begun this adventure that anyone had even given her a glance, nonetheless a second look. Normally, she acted quicker than this, but there was something about those eyes… They were grey, but instead of sharp or flashing silver, they were dull and clouded; the lifeless eyes of a doll or a corpse. They possessed a strange and morbid magnetism that had held her like a deer in the headlamps. It was only the drapes that saved her from total disaster.
Situated in the back of the painting as she was, the folds of the drape were mistaken for a dress, and since she paid him absolutely no mind - once she remembered where she stored her wits, at least - he eventually moved off. Siobhan had wasted no time. Ducking into the nearest door she could find, she raced through stairways and hallways and twistways and turnways until she collapsed onto soft grass in a darkness her vision could not penetrate.
She lays there now, breathless with exertion and fear. Where such an event should have warmed her body as the blood flowed with more purpose to its vital destinations, instead she is cold. She knows she needs to get off the ground to save the little heat she has left, but it's another moment before she has the strength to rise. Making the effort to do so, she ends up smacking her head right into a heavy golden frame. It's made of solid, decorated metal - gaudy and heavy. It should hurt like nine levels of hell. Instead, it only produces a mild ache.
Gripping the bottom edge of the frame with both hands, she hauls herself up to her knees, noticing the distinct lack of wall beneath the portrait. The outside ones were like that, sometimes. The frame leading back to the real world would merely hang suspended in midair as if of course that's the way it should be. The room into which the frame looks is just as dark as her surroundings. She can see nothing and hears no one; afraid she might not get another chance like this, she takes the time to rest.
It takes remarkably little time for her to catch her breath and she gets one foot under her when she hears a sound she cannot explain or identify. On her guard now, she whips up to crouch just outside the left edge of the frame, watching the darkness intently. She waits and she waits, but nothing happens. Perhaps she just imagined it.
Wait! There it is again. It sounds like … someone crying?
A sliver of silver wisps trickle along the corner of the portrait frame and her first thought is a Patronus, but she sees no animal shape - familiar or not - lighting the pitch of the room. Keeping low, she creeps along the bottom edge, watching for the source of those strange, disconnected silver strands. The sound comes again, louder this time; it's definitely someone crying. Swallowing her fear and pressing forwards with the little real courage she possesses, Siobhan does something incredibly stupid.
"Hello?" Her voice is soft, but not threatening. It sounds like a child is crying - she thinks. "Is someone there?" If they've got a child captive here, she'll have to alert Dumbledore immediately. They cannot leave -
"Hello?" It is, indeed, the voice of a child. The strange silver wisps pull together from across the room, coalescing into the shape of a young girl in a very pretty modern party frock. She floats towards Sio in the manner of all ghosts and the young Slytherin feels her heart break a little bit more. "Have you seen my mum?" Siobhan swallows thickly. This girl couldn't be more than seven or eight years old. "We were supposed to go to Uncle's birthday, but it's dark now and I can't find her."
She lifts herself right up to Sio's eye level and tilts her head. "You're very pretty, but I don't like this place anymore." Forget seven or eight. This child couldn't be more than five. Bile rises to the back of Sio's throat. "The dollies aren't fun anymore. They're broken. It's time to go. Can we go now?" It's the illogical logic of the very young, and she clears her throat to speak more clearly.
"We can go anywhere you'd like, sweetheart…" The little girl is pulsing with erratic flashes of darkness and light. No child this young could understand enough to cling to her former life forever. Sio has seen this before. Reminded painfully of another young girl anxious for parties and sweets, she coughs into her shoulder and forces a watery smile, being seen in the weak light the child's tattered soul provides. "I'm Sio. What's your name?" It's the soothing, comforting tone she's had to take with many a frightened first year, but this time the words stick in her throat.
"My name's Rosie, MissS'yo." Slurring the 's' sounds, the 'i' and the 'o' into one syllabic sound in that way that the wee ones sometimes do, Rosie ducks her head and looks up bashfully at Siobhan from under her ephemeral lashes. She either doesn't see the color slowly drain from Sio's face or she doesn't understand, because she keeps right on pressing. "Will you take me to Mum, now? This isn't fun anymore. I can't play with the dolls, MissS'yo. They're broken." This is the second time she's mentioned dolls she can't play with. Figuring it for the deceased proclivity to get stuck on one thing and one thing only, Siobhan opens her mouth to ask about them or to assure her there will be more at home or to offer some form of empty comfort, but at that moment the clouds pull away from the moon. Pale, foggy light streams in through the room's large windows and Siobhan screams.
She screams for an instant and an eternity. She screams until she feels pain - real pain - clawing at her chest and throat. She screams until she cannot even make a sound, because she cannot look away and she cannot undo her sight. This cannot be real, but she will never forget. She will never forget…
The room in the wing in the house where no one goes is a bedroom. It was once a child's room, decorated with lavish furnishings and a soft plush carpet. The art scattered around the walls is filled with childish cheer, a silent mockery of the twisted tableau below. There are two armchairs and an end table in one corner, a crib and a rocking chair in another and a large bed on the opposite wall. Several toy chests border the walls in neat rows - the innocent clashing with the obscene. There is a reason no one goes near this room.
Strewn across the room, preserved forever in their unseeing poses are at least thirty bodies. They range from the very old to the very young, and each one is a sickening parody of what life should be.
An old woman with empty sockets where her eyes should be leans back against the wall next to the window as if looking out upon a scene on the lawn outside. Dried blood leaves a stain down both sides of her face, but the lidless eyes that stare out from shoulders, breasts, hips, knees and everywhere they shouldn't be - still twitch with tortured slowness.
A young girl of maybe twelve or thirteen sits in the rocking chair. Blood has left a dry trail where it gushed from her mouth and stained her skin, splattered on a stomach that should never have been so distended as it is. Her hands are posed to rest there like a mother protecting her unborn. Down on one knee beside her is a man in his thirties with a look of mindless, hideous love on his face. His stomach is busted wide open as his own intestines are wrapped around midsection, throat, arms and legs - in contrast to his beloved one, he has burst open.
A small boy sits on a rocking-horse, his entire face consumed by the nasty pustules that are swollen until no features are recognizeable. Pus still oozes from those that have broken - too late the body draining away the toxins that snuffed out its life force.
A boy Sio's age lays on one side of the bed with ancient sigils and cesspool filth slang carved into his skin with cuts too clean for any knife. Next to him a grandfather and a woman in a torn business suit lie in a lover's tangle - but not even the mix of dried blood and piss can hide their hands around each other's throats.
The horror goes on and on. Each body Siobhan sees is more twisted, less human than the last. Yet all of them are preserved; all of them are posed. She is frozen. She had thought before that she was cold. She had been wrong. There is no cold to compare to the feeling of ice that seeps through her veins as her very mind simply stops, unable to process anything … anything more.
She doesn't know how long she stares unseeing, but when Sio finally wrenches herself back to lie in the grass and heave and heave and heave until her own blood stains the grass, she can feel the cracking of salt wet and dry on her face and neck and chest and robes. For a blessed little while, time loses all meaning. She could - and probably would - have laid there for the next eternity, but a small, timid voice shatters her fragile bubble and pierces the shield of dead space she didn't even realize she'd thrown up.
"MissS'yo! MissS'yo!" Somewhere in the back of her mind, a dim voice recognizes that Rosie is crying. "Mum! Da! Please can we go home now?" Each tiny sob results in a twitch that jerks Sio's whole body, but she cannot move. "MissS'yo!" And that same distant part of her recognizes that she should stand, that she should move back to the frame and comfort little Rosie until the last of her residual self fades away. But with each successive cry, with each following sob, the primal thing inside her brain recoils more and more from that course of action. "MissS'yo!" She scrabbles to her feet. "Muuuum!" She tries to run and slips in her own vomit. "Da?!" It doesn't matter. She doesn't know anything anymore. She knows only that she has to run and run and run and run until she can't see and she can't hear and she can't remember.
"MissS'yo! Miss S'yooooooo!"
As she collapses on the hardwood floor of another painting on the polar opposite end of the Riddle House, her body shaking with gasping sobs, Siobhan Noble knows with a terrible, dreadful certainty that she could run her whole life if she wanted to. She could run until her lungs gave out and her heart burst in her chest. She could run and run and run and run…
But she would never get far enough away.
An Unexpected Refuge follows immediately after.