Counting
By Mell8

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Counting was the only thing she had left. At first she had counted the days, the nights, even meals, but they had varied and become too numerous to remember.

She had counted the amount of times ice had coated the thin layer of wet mud that encrusted the floor and had then counted when it melted back into smelly sludge.

She had counted the days when she could see snow out of the tiny, barred window versus the days she saw a chirping bird. Then the enchantment on the window had broken and she realized that bricks were a much better alternative to seeing freedom every day and knowing that it was beyond her grasp.

Now, all she counted were bricks. She made sure to count exactly how many bricks held the ceiling together, how many fit into the left and right walls, how many made up the back wall, and how many hindered her escape around the tiny, spelled door that food came through.

She was sure, absolutely positively sure, that if she didn’t count the bricks they would disappear. Some days the cell was smaller, so small that it suffocated her and made her curl up into a ball and mewl piteously. She counted the bricks on those days just to prove to the bricks themselves that there was the same amount as the previous day.

Some days the bricks would back up and give her huge amounts of space and she would giggle and giggle as she counted the bricks to prove to them that they couldn’t fool her. She refused to be caught by their trick and counted to show them that she wasn’t an idiot.

And, she counted on him.

Everyday, or at least whatever counted for days down here, he would come over to her and count.

He counted the freckles on her face even though they were fading because she hadn’t been in the sun for ages. Then he counted them on her arms, her legs and her back with gentle caressing strokes that made her forget how many bricks she had just fooled with her counting. He then counted on her breasts, stomach, and lower, with an impersonal hand that spoke less of lack of interest than of the importance of getting the correct number.

When he had first joined her he had cried and paced and all those things she had given up in favor of making sure that every brick was there. She remembered his screaming, just as she had screamed, until his voice gave out and all that remained was a broken croak.

Then he had found the wonders of counting. He had tried to count the same things she had. If she still had a voice she would have told him of the futility of it. After all, all that mattered was making sure the bricks stayed in place.

Then he had counted bricks with her and she had thought that would be the end of his will, just as hers had ended when the bricks began to move. She wouldn’t let them encase her or escape her, never!

But the bricks did not taunt him the way they did her. He had continued to pace and plead in his broken voice even when she was feverously counting so the bricks would back up and give her room to move.

Then he had discovered her freckles. There were so many, hundreds if the number he murmured were correct, and he found them fascinating.

But she counted on him for more than the knowledge that her freckles didn’t leave like the bricks tried to. No, he was much more than that.

On days when she shivered in cold he held her and helped her move her finger to count each and every brick. On days when she miscounted and was sure that the bricks really were leaving her, he recounted for her with slow, precise numbers that helped her realize that it was just another trick of the bricks and everything was okay.

Day after day, hour after hour, they counted. She counted the bricks and counted on him to help her when she failed. He counted her freckles and counted on the fact that her freckles would always be there to count.

It was a very long time before they heard the whisper of spells and the click of a key in the lock.

“Ge’ up ye filthy dogs!” The man was met with blank gazes as neither of them had seen another human in what could be eons. So too was it true that they barely recognized civilized speech and it took them far longer than the man was willing to wait to comprehend his garbled words.

“Let’s go!” He snarled and lifted his wand at her.

Slowly they stood on shaky legs from positions they had not moved from in ages and preceded the man out the door.

She began to giggle the further they moved from the room. This time it was she who was leaving the bricks behind and she was ecstatic at this change. She hoped the bricks looked into the empty room forlornly and regretted every time they had tried to trick her.

He just held onto her hand and the precious freckles that he had not yet had a chance to start recounting since he had last finished like the lifeline her small hand really was.

Neither noticed the trail of mud and other filth they left behind as they continued down the hall and up a few flights of stairs on legs weak from lack of use. Nor did they recognize the fact that both were naked and so covered in sludge that they were almost unrecognizable as human beings.

They entered a large room filled with sunlight and both gasped at the unfamiliar sight.

“Ginny!” A gasp rang across the room and she started at the familiar word. “Ginny! Are you okay?”

“There you go!” A loud voice cackled from her place in the center of the room. “I give you blood traitors, you give me my life. I have given you two!”

“Silence Lestrange and prepare her for return to Azkaban,” a messy, dark-haired man said harshly.

“Right away Auror Potter!” Other robed men rushed off.
Lestrange was soon in custody and their guard joined her a few seconds later.

“Ginny, it’s me, Ron.” A redheaded man inched forward with his hands out in the universal, I’m harmless, gesture. She backed into the waiting arms of her companion.

“I know it’s been seven years, Ginny, but we never stopped searching.” Ron continued as he took another step closer.

“Malfoy?” Auror Potter gasped as he strode forward to join Ron. “I had heard the Death Eaters had killed you when you tried to run. Have you been with her all these years since then?”

He slowly nodded and opened his mouth. “I cannot kill so I die.” His words were broken and his voice was harsh from misuse. “They put me with the blood traitor until they could find time to torture me to their satisfaction.”

Said “blood traitor” was wrapped protectively in his arms.

“Let’s get them home, Harry.” Ron said softly. “We can get them cleaned up before we decide what to do with them.”

Harry nodded. “Plus, your mum needs to see her.”


III


She didn’t need to count any longer. There were no bricks to play tricks on her anyway; he had made sure of that when he had their house built. She didn’t feel the need to count the eggs in the icebox or the slices of bread she pulled out for their lunches even though sometimes she wondered if they moved around just to spite her.

St. Mungo’s had given her potions to help stop the giggles she let out every time she thought about those lonely bricks back in their cell who were probably still wondering why she had left them alone. But they couldn’t play tricks on her when she was so far away and she reveled in that knowledge. He held her every time she cried because sometimes she missed the bricks. Their games had kept her entertained and had proved to her that she was still alive even though she had spent many hours in that cell praying for death to take her.

She had thought about finding something else to count. Maybe wrinkles on the sheets from her clutching hands or the amount of times she moaned when he thrust into her. She even thought about counting the amount of times she saw her two, soon to be three, children in one day. But those numbers always changed and their fluidity confused her.

Even through all this turmoil and difficult thought, there was one thing she could always count on.

He would always be there, first to count her freckles—every morning she would wake to his hand following their patterns over her body—and then to hold her when she shivered for whatever reason. Lately it had been because she could feel tiny feet kicking from the inside of her extended stomach.

Draco Malfoy counted her freckles, just as he always had, and she counted on him to always be there for her.

Because, really, all that there was to life was counting, right?
The End.
Mell8 is the author of 7 other stories.
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