P R O L O G U E

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[caution: this chapter contains the raping of a teenage character]

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[caution: this chapter contains the raping of a teenage character]

•••

Artemis Avery understood nothing.

She did not understand where she was when a pair of rough hands gripped her arms and ripped Artemis from her dreams. She did not understand who was grabbing her. She did not understand what was happening. She did not understand how she fell asleep on the couch in the Common Room in the first place. She did not understand how she did not hear him approach her. She did not understand what was wrong. At least, not at first.

"Shut up shut up shut up," the voice belonging to the hands hissed down at her. Artemis jolted when she recognized it: Henry Grisham, a Seventh Year Slytherin student. And Headboy. A stranger, one she had only heard barking orders to First Years and shouting on the Quidditch Field. A stranger who was now on top of her, hissing orders into her ears.

But Grisham did not need to tell her; Artemis doubted that she could speak even if she tried. Her throat felt impossibly restricted. Her mind was still blurry, as if searching for the dream it had been forcefully torn from. Everything looked foggy and blurred.

And then, she became fully alert as one of Grisham's hands pinned her down to the couch. And the other was suddenly pulling up her robes, hitching them up past her hips. Then farther, until he could see her body. The entirety of her awkward, twelve-year-old body. Then, Grisham tore through her panties, ripping them like they were nothing but parchment. Artemis did not see where the falling pieces landed.

She could feel his muscles moving against her petite body. Artemis could feel his bones shifting and poking and grinding. His hot breath was like a cloud surrounding her face, trapping her.

His mouth was on hers suddenly, his tongue an unwelcome and violent guest. He bit her lip hard, and Artemis whimpered as she tasted salty blood touch both their tongues. Then, his mouth was gone and his hand was outside her lips, forcing its way past them. Grisham shoved something inside her mouth, and Artemis gagged. But she could not spit it out.

She tried to scream, but the noise died in her throat. Her wet scream was trapped inside her throat. Trapped.

His knee dug into her thigh, and it hurt like hell. Artemis could feel the bruise forming already, and she knew that there would be a purple circular mark in the center of her right thigh.

Her body was becoming a map.

Artemis did not understand why she did not fight. Why she didn't shout and kick and scream when she still had the chance. Why she didn't claw at his face with her bitten down fingernails. She did not understand why this older stranger was on top of her, his hands like shackles around her arms.

It's not real. It's not real.

It played in her mind like a mantra. Maybe if she kept thinking it enough times, it would come true.

None of this is real. You're just dreaming. Just sleeping. This is all a night terror. It's not real. Just a bad dream. Just a terrible dream.

His hands were between her thighs now, forcing them to open. And she could not stop it, could not fight him. Artemis tried, but he was much stronger than she. He was there now, seeing her. All of her. Opened legs, pink flesh. Helpless and exposed, nothing more than a broken doll.

She did not understand the pain as he entered her body. She did not understand the low growling noises that he was making. She did not understand anything.

So Artemis laid there, still and silent like a corpse.

Not real. Not real. Notrealnotrealnotreal.

Then, he was gone, cold air rushing over her as his body moved away. His hand reached into her mouth, and pulled out whatever he had used as a gag. Artemis panted, her breathing ragged and wet.

"No one will believe you," Grisham growled as he pulled up a pair of boxers, "and if you tell anyone, I'll kill you. Do you understand, you little slut?"

No. She did not understand. Artemis did not speak, did not move, did not breathe. She didn't even know if she was alive anymore.

The moonlight illuminated the room, revealing Grisham's satisfied smirk and Artemis' still naked body. "That's what I thought. You liked that, didn't you? Yeah, you liked that, you dirty little slut. That's what you wanted. If you tell anyone, I'll fucking kill you."

Then, he was gone. Leaving nothing but a ghost of a girl behind.

•••

-CLOSED EYES AND HOPING FOR A BETTER LIFE THIS TIME WE'LL FADE OUT TONIGHT-
[ the a team / ed sheeran ]

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