Rodolphus’ smirk widened as he watched Mulciber glide up to the girl, ever so calm and collected, and lay out the reality of the situation. It had been so long since he had done this with anyone aside from his brother or Bellatrix, so long since he had seen someone so in control, so patient about the entire thing. It was as if they had all the time in the world to break her and the thought alone caused a thrill to shoot up Rod’s spine.
“Mm, that’s what I like to hear.” He purred as Emmeline finally spoke up, telling him exactly what he had been longing to hear. This was why he always picked the fighters, why he always went after the ones whose resolve seemed the hardest to snap. It made breaking them even that much more rewarding, not to mention their screams were always that much sweeter.
Allowing his wand to slide out of its place tucked right inside the sleeve of his shirt, Rod let go of the blonde’s long locks and shot Mulciber a high-browed look before stepping into her eyeline. “He’s right, you know.” He began, twirling his wand in between his fingers as he paced back and forth before her, almost looking bored. “No one is coming for you. No professors, no friends… not even Potter cares enough to wonder where little Emmeline Vance has disappeared to.” He went on, pausing before tapping his wand against his chin. “How long do you think you’ll be dead before they start wondering, hm? A week? Maybe two?”
As the Death Eater glanced down at her, awaiting her reaction, a bout of anger surged through him as he realized she hadn’t been watching him as he had hoped. She seemed distant, as if thinking of other things, and that just wouldn’t do. Clenching his jaw, he growled lowly before moving his wand under her chin and forcing her face up so that their eyes met. “You will listen when I speak, Vance. You will take in every word I say or I’ll carve each one into your skin until you do.” He threatened, eyes narrowing slightly as he brought his wand up to her face, the tip now sharp and searing as it sliced through the meat of her cheek. “Do I make myself clear?”
Mulciber, normally, didn’t approve of heavy-handedness in torture. For him, it was a precious game, a delicate song. But he had to admit, as he stepped back slightly to allow Rodolphus to resume focus, perhaps he just hadn’t been watching the right torturers. Here wasn’t someone like Barty had been, in need of sculpting. Here was someone who had found his own style, and it simply wasn’t the same as Mulciber’s. He was just threatening now, Mulciber felt a smirk stretch his lips when he thought of what he might do once the actual torture started.
He took in a breath with that cut, deep and searing. Ah, there it was. That was what he had been waiting for. Blood spilt and muscles sliced, bone cracked and flesh bruised. It was what he’d been raised for, the sight of her impure blood on her tear-stained face. “That was very rude, Miss Vance. We don’t appreciate that here.”
Walking slowly around her until he stood in roughly the same position as Rodolphus had been a few minutes ago, Mulciber leaned down until his mouth was at level with her ear. He didn’t grab her hair painfully, instead, he ran his hand through it with as much condescension as he could manage. “Maybe we’ll keep you alive,” he whispered, his voice just as soft and comforting as it had been before. “How long do you think we could do this, how long would it take for you to break into pieces?”
Mulciber pointed his wand at her ropes again, heating them to the point that they seared the skin and cauterized her current wounds. “I think that we can make this last until you have screamed so long, and so hard, you can’t make the smallest sound any more.” He smiled, brushing his fingers against the wound Rodolphus had just made before standing up.
As soon as the handsome one mentioned that particular word, the rest of his instructions and riddles were lost on her. She began to panic… not for herself, but for her friends, for James. Was he next? How did they all know?! She and James had only just happened, something she’d craved for years and now it seemed it’d all end before it truly began. She’d sunk so deep into her own thoughts that she didn’t even register the handsome boy’s wand tapping against her chin, his livid growls aimed at extracting her attention, until he yanked her hair roughly back and forced his face right up against hers. The searing sting of the cut he inflicted was ignored as the blood dribbled down her face… she glared defiantly back into his icy blue eyes, as he demanded her respect.
“Crystal clear”, She answered, her voice dripping with sarcasm, in a perfect imitation of the sort of smart-alec retort James come up with, if placed in this situation. Feeling reckless, with a mind focused mostly on what-would-James-do, the opportunity to really tick the handsome boy off presented itself beautifully. The handsome boy was still only inches away from her, when she hucked back and then spat directly at his face… and she watched gleefully as the blob of spit trickled down, dribble down his long, pointed nose. She smirked wider as he reeled back, horrified presumably that something “so impure”, a blood-traitor’s spit (oh the horror!), had touched his skin. How long would he have to scrub his face for now, she wondered?
Like everything James-would-have-done, there were always consequences. And the genuinely terrifying one the others had called ‘Mulciber’ seemed to announce himself to her as the worst sort of consequence imaginable. He resumed the handsome-boy’s stance… pulling at her hair and whispering evilly to her. Her bonds, already painfully tight, cutting and slicing open her skin around her wrists, forearms, calfs and ankles from where she’d struggled vigorously against the magical ropes… now began to inflict a new sort of torture. They were suddenly white-hot, burning at her open wounds, boiling her already spilt blood… and she could no longer hold back the screams. She could hear herself, as the sound of her strangled cries bounced off the dungeon walls, echoing and repeating the horrible sound all over again.
Now that the pain was so monumental… she began to see past it, to adapt somewhat. It was odd, she’d never experienced a pain so blinding, but somehow it’d taught her to be resilient, she was able to think of other things. The pain was so great, her fingers became numb, perhaps her wrists had cut off all circulation to her hands (and the same with her ankles and feet), that perhaps once this was all over… she’d be left without her extremities. Oh yes, she was positive still that this would finish, that there was an end in sight. They’d grow bored and they couldn’t risk actually killing her considering who her parents were - she’d easily called the handsome boy’s bluff. In amongst her screams, her sobs and streaming tears, she was able to continue struggling against her bonds, continue fighting and kicking and clawing and doing everything within her power to try and escape. Nothing would break her resolve to break free, nothing.
Severus watched from afar as Mulciber and Lestrange worked their magic within the dimly lot dungeon. He was farther removed than the others, carefully observing the two as they toyed with Emmeline, playing a twisted game of cat and mouse. Severus was fairly green compared to his associates, there was much he needed to learn if he was to be held in any regard. Interrogation was an art form and this was an opportunity to watch masters at work.
They showed such finesse, such refinement. It made Severus sick. He was never one for meaningless words, for wasted time. What was the point in prolonging a life which one was determined to end? Why tempt fate and make room for error? Unlike Barty, Severus understood the idea of restraint, so he voiced none of these views. Better to play along, perhaps the reason would present itself in time.
Severus almost felt pity for the girl, that is, until her demeanor changed. The girl had a new fight within her, a sudden flame to ignite her spirit. A fight would have been a welcome challenge had it not been for the familiar air of her newfound vigor. That haughty tone, that bold retort, that hint of a smirk Severus knew all too well. Potter.
Something snapped within Severus. He was no longer a watcher-on to the torture of Emmeline Vance. In fact, Severus forgot her existence entirely. All he could see was Potter in that chair, tied like a pig for the slaughter. All the animosity, all the cruel words, all the petty arguments, all the hate fueled his lust for vengeance, leaving remorse without a another thought. This was no longer a matter of upholding image or initiation, this was about revenge. If Potter couldn’t bear witness himself, his little friend would have to send along the message for him.
Without any word of warning, Severus raised his wand and cursed the bindings around the Ravenclaw’s limbs. They seared like freshly forged irons, burning white-hot into the girl’s wrists and ankles. The wounds that were opened from Mulciber’s curse opened yet again as the ropes dug further into flesh. Severus couldn’t help but laugh at her screams of agony, a sadistic glint shining in his dark eyes. This was power, he thought as he entertained himself with her misery. It was a feeling unlike any other
As the heat faded and the girl began to struggle once more, Severus stepped directly in front of her, sneering evilly. He could only see the pain of his archrival and all he stood for, and that was enough to block out any lingering wisps of doubt. Staring into her eyes as he did, Severus brought the tip of his wand to his victim’s chin and tilted her head upward so as to fully face him and spoke to her in a cold, cruel voice.
"Everyone has a breaking point, Emmeline. It’ll only be a matter of time until we find yours."