Bellatrix is having a VERY bad day, Harry is greeted by the Dawn.
Bellatrix was dragged into the throne chamber and thrown to the ground at the feet of the self-proclaimed Lord Voldemort.
"Gently my cohorts, gently; let us hear what Bellatrix has to say for herself. Let us hear why she was carrying a portkey to the only place within these walls where such a contrivance would have worked."
Bellatrix rose to her knees but appeared regal even in a position of servitude.
"I fear for the plan m'lord; there are too many wild magics being carelessly cast about here and I know that if I remain here the plan will be aborted." Saying this she gazed up at the snake-like visage meaningfully. "I meant no subterfuge m'lord; we all know that I can be summoned by means of my dark mark at any time from anywhere."
"Ahhh, ever the faithful servant, but tell us, why did you not simply tell me, why lurk about in the darkness?"
"I did not wish to disturb your rest m'lord; that is all." She answered reasonably.
"Very well," he seemed to have an idea, "we shall place you far away from any stray magics until our plan can come to term." Then smiling evilly he continued, "You shall reside in the dungeon until such time as that which must come to pass will come to pass. We shall keep your wand so that no stray magics can interfere with our 'project.' But first you must be disciplined for your serious lack of judgment."
He paused for dramatic effect then shouted "Draco!"
Draco Malfoy came forward holding a dripping-wet burlap sack.
"Let everyone hear and understand, this woman must not be harmed by magics, not even touched by magic. No one is to raise a wand to Bellatrix Black. To do so will incur my wrath; do you all understand?"
All heads nodded, not really understanding why, only needing to know that Lord Voldemort's word is law.
Draco looked ready to burst with anticipation, looking back and forth between his master and Bellatrix and then the dripping bag in his hand. Given Voldemort's nod of consent he pulled a leather bound handle from the sack and then drew out the cat o' nine tails dripping from a solution of brine. The sodden bag hit the rock floor with a dull smack.
Voldemort hissed "bind her to the cross," and two burly sycophants rushed to comply, lifting her roughly by the arms until the Dark Lord added, "but gently, gently."
Bellatrix raised her chin and said, "There is no need to bind me m'lord, I will do what is expected of me."
Voldemort raised a naked eyebrow at this and nodded his approval.
She shook herself from those who still held her by the arms and with great dignity, showing no hint of hesitation, strode over to the restored apparatus that had been the agony of another mother-to-be just a few days before. Loosening her robe she allowed the layers of black silk to slide down exposing her well-formed back and equally well toned buttocks. She stretched out her hands and spread her feet so that her body conformed to the large wooden 'X.' Bellatrix bowed her head so that her temple rested on the crux of the two rough wooden crossbeams.
Draco Malfoy placed his right hand through the strap on the knob of the lash, gripped the handle and shook the braids with a slight twist to allow the individual whips to splay - this would allow the lashes to cover a larger area. The leaded ends were embedded with tiny barbed hooks designed to separate skin from living bone and muscle.
"Now," she thought, "I can begin to pay for the pain and suffering I have caused in my miserable life."
Maniacal glee shone in Malfoy's face as he brandished the whip and struck with all his frustration, thrashed in his impotent anger, lashed with his rage at a world that continually refused him his due. The first three strokes were so rapid that the original nine cuts did not begin to bleed until the frustrated child with the scourge began to lash left to right; top to bottom. He expertly laid the barbed ends so that before long, no parts of his aunt's back or buttocks or exposed arms were untouched, that is to say uncut. The pain was excruciating, the cutting, the burning and the tearing of the living flesh with no rest, no relief between lashes.
Bellatrix's whole body flinched at every stroke, her hands were balled into tight fists and her knees became weak so that she had to lean into the cross for support. Then a strange and altogether unanticipated thing happened; in the pain she found a place of peace, a place of nothingness. The pain was there, but it was as though she were watching from outside herself. She could allow herself one small bit of satisfaction by giving her sadistic nephew the one reaction that would aggravate him to no end. No reaction.
Rivulets of blood streamed down Bellatrix's back, legs and arms, but Draco had yet to earn a scream, a cry, even a whimper. In his impotent frustration he lashed out five quick strokes in succession.
"Scream, damn you!" Draco raged, and in his fury threw the whip at Bellatrix's head; then whipped out his wand.
"Cru-" the curse died on his lips as Voldemort silently summoned Draco's wand.
"I see you have not yet learned obedience, young Malfoy, we shall have to edify you yet again."
Draco fell to his knees his whole body wracked with sobs, not in remorse for what he had done to his aunt, but in anticipation of the pain that would all too soon be revisited on himself.
Voldemort was impressed with Bellatrix in spite of himself. If only he could overcome the bothersome suspicion that she was somehow planning to betray him, he needed devotees with her degree of fortitude.
"Jones, see to her wounds, it would not do to have her develop an infection, then escort her to her new quarters."
A young conscript came forward and began to tend to her gashes. Bellatrix's back, buttocks, upper thighs, neck and arms were a bloody cross-hatch of cuts and welts; the skin was completely gone in some places and raw subcutaneous tissue glistened in the torchlight. Alex Jones, one of the new followers pressed into the service of the maniacal Dark Lord, had acquired some healer training and was putting a restorative salve on all of her exposed skin.
"I'm afraid, m'lady, that there will be some scarring." The almost nurse said with a hint of sadness.
"No matter," she answered, as the silk robe was placed gingerly back on her shoulders. "These are stripes that I have earned in the service of the Dark Lord."
When the first lash struck, Harry sat bolt upright in his bed and hissed in sympathetic pain. Marietta leapt out of bed brandishing her wand, looking for the source of the attack. She closed her eyes tightly and shouted "lumos solaris!" Then "nox," then a more manageable "lumos." The idea being that an attacker would be blinded by the solar level flash and be easier to subdue.
Harry felt the sting of the whip and saw a bright light then saw and felt nothing, no not nothing; between. Between pain and nothing, consciousness and nothingness, but he wasn't alone.
"Who are you?" Harry asked.
"I was Dawn." The spectral form answered. He somehow knew she was a spirit; not quite a ghost.
"Am I . . ."
"You are not dead, you still are. The one who delivered me from my torment is now on the same cross that bore me, but she is there by choice."
"Who is the one who saved you?"
"Not saved, I no longer am, I was delivered from my torment and my son was saved from me."
"Who set us free? The one with whom you share a life."
"I don't understand, Dawn."
"You are making a new life, a new person, a new baby."
"That is her name. She helped me and now in a small way I am helping her, and through her, you."
"By letting her come here, to nothingness, away from her torment," the ghost tilted her head as if to listen for something, and then smiled. "She will rejoin herself again, as will you, farewell."
"Wait, Dawn, you say she set you free? When? How?"
"She will always be my angel; she set me free from my pain and torment."
"She freed me from the agony that had become my wretched life."