You are seventeen years old and your life has ended.
You stand by the gate, looking up at a small house on a tiny hill by the edge of a little village. The house looks normal from a distance, but as you go closer, you sense that something is very, very wrong inside. There is an aura of evil of menace, of darkness and fear. It is the house out of nightmares, with the most evil bogeyman imaginable residing inside. You stand by the gate, looking at the house in trepidation. You know full well the monster that resides inside, and yet you stand here, gathering your courage to enter. You have no choice; this is the end of the line. There are no options left but to make a deal with the devil if you want any chance at all to avoid a living hell.
Your classmates fear the man inside more than anything, their terror and trepidation when references to him are heard are as intense as the dread coiling low in your stomach when you walk down the gravelled path leading to that classroom. You wish, sometimes, that they knew that hell is found at school.
Hell is a dirty classroom floor. It is pain and blood and the feeling of something ripping you apart, blood on your thighs and your own underwear shoved in your mouth to keep you from screaming. Hell is staring at the ceiling and trying to remember to breathe as your innocence is ripped from your prepubescent body by someone you were supposed to be able to trust, someone who was supposed to protect and guard you, keep you safe and teach you. Hell is being held down, robe pulled up around your waist, your legs held apart so hard it feels as if the bones are breaking, trying to block out the sick sounds of a monster rutting on top of you, grunting in pleasure as he rips you apart. Hell is being forced to sit in that monster’s hall twice a week and act like there is nothing going on. Hell is being made to stay behind every single class, being forced to partake in acts so depraved they make you feel sick when you think of them. You don’t think there is any place in that classroom where he hasn’t defiled you. He has bent you over every desk, taken you from behind like a dog on the floor, had you on your back, you’ve knelt in the thin, cramped space under his desk while he’s ravaged your mouth. The acts you’ve learnt to perform would not be amiss in the most depraved brothel in the world.
You touch your stomach, as if trying to feel the creature inside. It is not a child, it cannot possibly be a child when it has sprung from his seed, it is a creature as evil as its creator and you are dying with desperation to be rid of it, because for as long as it exists there is no way for you to avoid the nightmare waiting to engulf you whole. Your cheek still stings with the slap your mother gave you when you told her you were pregnant.
Your mind wants to shy away from the thought of your mother, but the memory is stronger than you are now and you let it come, remembering the look on her face. When you did not want to name the father, turning your face away, she had spoken the one word that can ruin you faster than any cruelty form your brothers. Slut. That’s his word for you; the word he grunts when he ruts between your legs on that dirty floor as you stare at the ceiling and recite potion ingredients in your head in an attempt to stay sane with his voice pouring filth in your ear. Slut. Slut. Slut. Slut. Slut. Slut. Slut. Slut. Slut. Slut.
You know now that he was right, that first time he called you that horrible word. You remember that afternoon. You had just started your third year, it was your third class with him and it was a Friday afternoon. It was unusually warm, and your classmates were talking about enjoying the sun down by the lake and you had been invited for once. You were so excited to join them. Then He asked you to stay and help him clean up and you did not want to, thinking that your invitation would be revoked because you could not come immediately. But a blonde girl smiled at you and said “Come down once you’re done, yeah?” and then they - the other students - piled out, chattering and giggling and you felt as light as a soap bubble as you stood there, watching them go. You had no idea that less than fifteen minutes later, you would be choking on your own underwear as he forced your legs apart, forcing something inside your body that had no business being inside the body of a child. He laid on top of you, grunting like an animal, and every movement he made was pure agony. You could feel something inside ripping and tearing and all the while he kept groaning that horrible word in your ear.
You didn’t go down to the lake that day.
You walk up the gravel path slowly, like a condemned man going to the gallows. But that is wrong, for you are already dead. You died the moment your mother forced the monster’s name out of you and she said that she expected you to honour your family and marry him. She spoke of honour and duty and to think of your sister, and you sat there in the kitchen that had always been a safe haven to you and wondered who had turned your mother into this. You simply could not understand that your mother, whom you loved so much, could look at you with such cold eyes. It is unfathomable that she can talk about marriage and duty when you are sitting there trying to tell her about the classroom floor and the filth inside you. About rough voices and rough hands holding you down and the pain that always, always, follows. She had not listened. That is what hurt the most. She had not listened. How could she not have listened? How could she tell you to stop lying and face the consequences of your actions? Well, you will face the consequences now.
You open the door and step inside, trembling, but no matter what happens this night you will know that you have tried. There is nothing this monster can do to you that is worse than what has already be done to you; he cannot even kill you. You are already dead. So you walk up the stairs, down the hallway, into the room the menace is oozing from like a thick clogging mist eating through everything. You wonder if the being in the chair can be called a man.
He asks why you have come, but you both know that he already knows. He can see the filth in you, can see what you are. He sees the classroom floor and the blood and he hears your muffled screams and he sees the creature growing in you. But you tell him anyway. And he smiles when you tell him what you want, and the smile is as cold as you are inside. He looks at you with malicious amusement, but you do not care. There is nowhere else to go, nowhere else to turn for help. The engagement announcement will be in the Prophet in two days and this is the only way you can think of to stop the nightmare from coming to pass.
You do not utter a sound of protest when he takes you to his bedroom. You do not cry when he cuts the clothes from your body with a jagged knife that eats into your skin. You do not scream when he lies on top of you. The pain when he takes the only thing you have to offer is nothing compared to the pain you felt on the classroom floor.
The night is never-ending, passing in a haze of pain and degradation, of humiliation and despair. And yet you do not struggle, do you? You do not fight for your existence, just lie there and let him do as he pleases. You do not even cry when he uses the knife to violate you. You just wait for him to come true on his half of the bargain, and no price is too great to pay for that. And as the dawn breaks over your broken body, he tells you that the price has been paid. But only in half. You do not question what he means. You already know.
The hall is full of cloaks and masks, and yet it does not matter. You know what is expected of you, but you think of the announcement in the Prophet and you do not protest when you are laid prostrate on the table in the middle of the hall. They tie you down, but there is really no need to do that as you have no reason to attempt escaping. You have no idea, at the end of the night, how many of the dark-robed ones took their pleasure from you. It does not matter, really. It is not the first time you have been the entertainment of a party. The first time was your own birthday. He had brought his friends over to celebrate. It was the year you turned fourteen.
You call in sick to work and lie in bed for nearly two days, feigning sickness. Your mother does not question it, thinking it is grief from hearing that your fiancée died in an attack on Diagon Alley and that the shock caused you to miscarry your dear child. You let her go on thinking so, but in reality you lie in bed, waiting for the poison the Dark Lord gave you to run its course, killing the creature inside and with it, any chance of ever having a creature growing inside you again. You also wait for the mark on your thigh to throb, signalling that He wants to take his pleasure from you again. For you pleased him that night. But you knew you would; you were created for this. It is the only thing you are truly good at. The Devil told you so on the classroom floor and you know now, that it was true. You touch the mark, burning black on the tender flesh of your thigh. It is not a mark that is easily recognisable as belonging to him, instead it is a word. A word that marks you for what you are, undeniable and permanent and there for anyone to see. Anyone who wants to sample your delights. Slut.
You smile at your little sister when she brings you tea, her red hair shining in the sunlight and her eyes filled with worry. She whispers “Percy” and “you’re going to be okay” as she runs a damp cloth over your face and you think of how she’s wrong and of Honour. You can no longer be accused of tarnishing the family honour, and there will be no marriage. But you know, as you lie there, waiting for the mark on your thigh to tell you that it is time to go to the one who owns you now, this new Devil that possesses your body as thoroughly as the previous one, that you have no honour. You have nothing anymore. You have had nothing since that September afternoon.
You were thirteen years old when you died.