Approximately 4:30 pm
There was water.
The noise was so aggravating, it just kept on going and going, and he knew it was never going to stop.
Some of it landed on the top of the man’s head, and dripped down the side of his neck into his shirt. His knees were curled up into his chest, and he could feel the moisture stick his back to the cold cinderblock walls as he leaned against it. His hands were balled so tight that he could see the veins in his pale hands pumping blood into his fingers. Surely his bones were frail now, as the lack of nourishment did not allow for proper sustenance. His hands began to shake, he was squeezing so tight. Reluctantly, his hands gave way and released from tensing up.
It was then he began to worry about her. She lie before him, stretched out along the edge of the room where the floor met with the wall. Her thin nightgown was soaking wet and he could see her body shivering from where he sat. Her skin was a shade just a pinch darker than the thin veil their captor made her wear, and he could see all of her form as she wore no undergarments beneath the sheer material. This was not a time to worry about modesty, no. They were locked away in a prison with only a bucket for waste and all of their idiosyncrasies, all of their problems would be revealed. There was once a time that he would be shy or perhaps turned on at the sight of a naked woman as he had only seen two women naked in his bed. But he was simply not fazed. This was no time to worry about sex. He offered up his wool blanket over her, and stood to stretch his legs.
The room was no larger than a storage closet, 5 feet across and perhaps 12 feet wide and approximately 25 to 30 feet to the leaking ceiling. The ceiling, if you could actually call it that, felt like a mesh screen – even though it covered and shaded, it did not stop the water from seeping through. Cries for help were futile. The door had a slit for their captor to look over them like a hawk, the slit on the bottom big enough for a food tray to come through every now and again, though he would hardly ever eat. Most of his food would go to the woman. The room was tall enough to stand in but still not enough to merit comfort. Though very rarely he would find himself to stand, he was absolutely sure that this prison was surely hell.
He counted at least 73 days they were trapped here, possibly more if they were unconscious for most of their captivity together. Prior to that, things were very hazy. He was beyond the “who” or the “why” of being captured. Now it was more of the “how can I escape” or “what do they mean to do with me?” puzzling him.
Suddenly, the latch on the bottom slit of the door opened. He lurched for it but it shut tight over his index and middle finger, pinching them. Instinctively, he yanked his hand back, feeling the surge of pain from the tips of his fingers up into his forearm. Struggling as much as he could to see the captors, he dodged destroying the plate of food with meager rations that they had slid under just before disappearing. “Hello!? HELLO!”
No answer. They were long gone.
“Dammit!” He cursed, shaking out his hand before trying desperately to peel back the tiny window under the door that just shut. His fingers were raw. The cool air made it worse as it tensed his muscles.
The rations provided were a couple of stale rolls, two flagons of fresh water and a stew that looked more like waste and less like actual food. He looked over at her and cringed. He did not want to disturb her but she hadn’t eaten in over 24 hours and he wanted her to have her strength.
“D,” he called to her. This was how he knew her, how he could communicate with the woman since it was on the necklace she was wearing when they first became locked away. She was not wearing it now, their watchers must have confiscated it in the night.
The woman moaned, barely moving from where she lie. The light was dim so he couldn’t tell if her eyes were open or not.
He reached over and lightly shook her, to pull her out of her slumber. Her eyes were the first to react, fluttering open at the gesture. She began to stir, and it was here that he helped her sit up, propped against the wall as he had been, and the first thing he grabbed was the water. The lid was removed and the water was poured into her mouth and she drank quickly. They were surrounded by water, but none as delicious as the purified liquid they provided. One hand tipped the flagon and the other cradled her face, to ensure she would not be any more uncomfortable than she already was.
Her delicate hand covered his and she gave it a grateful squeeze. When she was finished drinking, she pulled his hand down but kept a grip on his fingers. “Thank…”
He hushed her, “Shh, save your voice.”
The girl hadn’t spoken to him in the duration of their stay, so why was she about to talk now? Still, she persisted. “Thank you, Professor.” Her voice was like music in the wind.
But still, that word made his stomach drop. Not only was she speaking to him, but the word Professor was one he had not heard in many days. A feeling a dread now swept over him. Who was this woman anyway? “Why do you call me that?” He pulled away from her, embarrassed.
“Because you wore a cloak. I saw it – I saw it before we were locked in here, be-before they stripped us of most of our personal things. You had the scholarly pins, drapes, accolades, everything so familiar. Everything I r-recognized from the school from whence I had graduated.” The woman could feel a smile tugging at the corners of her lips. Hogwarts was a decent time for her, though she was mostly thinking about her siblings and her friends. “Everything was better then.” She reached up with her thin hands to nibble on the biscuit that was offered from the silver tray. A couple of warm tears slid down her cheeks, and she wrapped the wool blanket over her legs.
The man nodded. Though he had gone through a rough patch in his work life, and even in his personal life, he knew that things were a million and one times better in Death-Eater Hogwarts than in this current camp. Still, he couldn’t help but laugh.
She offered a confused look as she heard him laugh. “What is so funny?”
He shrugged. “It’s just…nearly two and a half months I count us in here together and I have not bothered to get your full name.” He would only call her D and she was always too weak to call on him. “I suppose when all you have is time… you don’t rush into things eh?”
Weakly, the girl exhaled and gave a light smile. She hadn’t realized how much time had passed but she smiled as she found it quite odd that they hadn’t thought to become fully acquainted until now. She hesitated, however but as she looked into his eyes, the aspiring Death Eater figured there was nothing to lose, she would be gaining a friend in this god awful scenario. “Diana Blaine.” She almost forgot her own name. It was hard to forget the surname Blaine, though. She had 7 brothers and sisters. Merlin, what had become of all of them?
“My name is Jaleth. Jaleth Lenor. You were right,” the man responded, “You were right to call me Professor. I once worked at that school.”
She nodded. “A pleasure.” A lot of details were hazy, but Diana wouldn’t reveal to him where she was on her way to before this happened. She remembered a little bit about her family, her actions and accomplishments from the school. Immediately she remembered her eldest brother, Adrian, and her sister Isis ... All of them. Their faces. Regardless of the bad blood, she missed all of them dearly.
How old was she then, 18? 19? If she had graduated, then she was at least of age. Jaleth thought to himself, realizing that this young woman may have been his student prior to her commencement. He was flushed at the thought of looking at her near-naked, albeit perfect form when he thought of her age. Now was not the time to be thinking of her like this. The two were in a very delicate situation, he did not need to make any matters worse. But could they actually get any worse?
The silence settled in for a moment and Jaleth made a bold move, sitting beside her now. Their bodies would provide warmth for one another, something they needed now that the sun was bound to be setting. He knew it had to be early February, as the nights were not nearly as cold as they were. Maybe all of the water was the melting snow.
“Are they going to kill us?” She asked, softly.
It broke his heart to hear her soft voice breaking as she spoke now. He wrapped his arm around her to offer a beacon of hope. The professor wasn’t sure how long it would last, but she needed it. He needed it, even. Even moreso, he needed to make a plan, he needed for them to make it through this trial, this test. Jaleth was never a man that found himself in a position of strength, not even with his wife, not even with Kara. He remembered how weak he felt in contrast to men like Liam O'Donnell and Casey Winslow. Even Faust became a pillar of strength for the young Berenice, Jaleth was far from being that much of a hero. But now, he had no choice. He couldn’t run away from the Death Eaters, or cower in fear under William’s banners and hope that in time he would find his end. No, Jaleth finally had it in him to find the need to survive because not his life, but her life depended on it as well. “We’re going to find a way out of here. We’re going to make it.”
For just a brief moment, Diana actually believed him.
The water continued to drip.