Summary: Their entire lives they've depended on no-one but each other. But when the abuse they've put up with their entire lives gets too much and they realise that getting out of it by themselves isn't an option; depending on someone else becomes a necessity. Learning that it's okay to not walk life alone is a difficult lesson even when one is learning it with no distractions. But with a world that seems determined to see them dead and alone, it becomes even more imperative that they both learn this, and fast.
A/N: Hi! Just a bit of a note before we start, this will be quite a dark chapter, but this is as dark as it gets. If you have an abuse trigger, don't read this. It will also be a Harry has a twin story and will spin off into an AU but it isn't the usually Harry has a twin drivel so if you've got this far, you might as well give the first chapter a shot.
UPDATED: 24/12/2018 after being betafied (is that a word? xD) - I'm slowly working my way through them with my shiny new beta (who's awesome and far better at Englishing then I am... (and makes up fewer words)). So kudos to C-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.
A figure hung, suspended by a pair of separated handcuffs, from the ceiling of the basement. His eyes drifted between closed and open as if fighting involuntary sleep. The room was dark, lit by a single bare lightbulb. It shone bright enough to reveal the dark liquid pooled on the concrete floor beneath both him and the other body curled against the wall. The sound of the authorities banging on the doors, and the ensuing arrest of Mr and Mrs Dursley of number four Privet Drive, filtered through the ceiling and the cracks around the door at the top of the staircase. But the prisoners didn't stir; it was taking all of the energy they had to stay alive.
A grating sound came from the door at the top of the stairs as the bolt was pulled out of the door frame. The door swung open, flooding half of the basement with light, yet leaving him in shadow. Detective Holly Garrett made her way down the stained stairs. Her partner, Dave Tomlinson, followed close behind her, their powerful torches doing what the overhead light could not. It was only because of this that they noticed the grubby, trembling figure in the corner. Through further examination, the person appeared to be attached to a ring in the wall with the same type of handcuffs that suspended the figure in the middle.
Both were wearing a pair of battered, stained underwear - the figure tied to the wall also draped in a ripped bloody t-shirt three sizes too large.
Holly hadn't seen anything like it in her twenty-one years of assisting Child Protective Services. In crimes concerning adults, she had of course seen worse, but an abuse case that had gone this far - that took a particular type of psycho. Her hand was sweaty on the grip of the torch as she approached the person suspended from the ceiling. To her left, Dave was already approaching the cowering figure in the corner.
She refocused her attention to the marionette before her; this close, it was obvious she was looking at a young boy. His chin rested against his bare, bloodstained chest; every bone stood out. His back showed a mess of black bruising and lashes, white ribs peered through the gaps in his flesh. It was only through being in such close proximity that she could tell he was still alive, his chest rising and falling minimally.
Her partner was coming up with similar, if slightly older, results. The small girl crouched next to the wall had the same markings as the boy, although the bruising had started to fade to a deep purplish green, the lashes scabbed over.
Holly was immensely glad they had had the foresight to ring the EMT's before venturing into this version of hell. For, not only was it difficult to breathe through the inane stink of blood, sweat, and human waste, but it would have also been difficult to articulate precisely what they were seeing. It looked like the two children were verging on unconsciousness and didn't have much time left.
The detectives' radios spat out the message that the ambulance was two minutes out. Both children seemed to be more aware as a result of the noise - the girl attached to the wall flinched and shrank further into the cold stone, her t-shirt slipping to reveal a boney, bruised shoulder.
Dave Tomlinson, like his partner, had never seen a case this bad before, something he was overly aware of as he gazed around the basement. He felt completely out of his depth and yet… he knew that if this was his kid, and they were in a situation like this, he'd want anyone, no matter how underqualified, to look after them to the best of their ability. He took in the pale, dirty figure crouching on the floor before him. She was trembling, long dark hair covering her face, the fine hairs on her arms raised.
He stood, muttered to his partner that he would be back in a second, then hurried up the wooden stairs that were covered in a substance he'd rather not consider.
Outside, he passed two policemen as they placed who he thought was the aunt of the two downstairs in the back of their vehicle. Within moments, he was back downstairs again, trying not to gag at the stench. Holly passed him on the stairs, telling him that she was going to get the cameras and toolkit. In his hand, he held a silver thermal blanket which would hopefully help the poor shivering girl in the corner. As tenderly as he could manage, and ignoring the flinch when he accidentally brushed his hand against her arm, he managed to cover her with it. Her head lifted slightly, unwashed hair falling back from her face. She looked apprehensive.
"My name is Dave, Dave Tomlinson. I'm a detective with Child Protective Services." He waited a moment and gave her a friendly smile. "I'm here to get you out," he finished, as calmly and, he hoped, comfortingly as he could, trying not to betray the turmoil he felt inside at seeing the dark bruise across one of her cheekbones.
Her face turned alarming blank.
The word uttered had been so quiet he wasn't sure he'd heard it. Dave assumed she meant how did they know.
"We got a tip off the other day." Recognition flashed across the girl's' face. "I can't release who it was from, but once it was received, we came to investigate. When we arrived, there was fresh blood on the floor and a belt in the kitchen sink. We called for backup and followed the trail, it led down here." He waited, but she stayed silent. After a moment he asked, "What's your name?"
Her eyes flickered down to the floor, then back up to his face. "Isabelle."
He nodded, smiling softly, "It's a pretty name. How old are you Isabelle?"
"Thirteen." Dave tried not to let the shock cross his features - the girl in front of him did not look anywhere near thirteen, nearer to nine or probably ten if he'd had to guess.
Isabelle's eyes flicked sideways towards his colleague as she descended the stairs with their box of tools and camera. Her next question was pitched so quietly, it took a few seconds to register what she had said.
"Is Harry okay?" Her eyes were dark and pleading.
"Is Harry your brother?"
"Let me just go and check with my colleague, then I'll come back and tell you, okay?" he added and stood up.
Holly was pulling the toolbox into its full layout as he approached.
"The ambulance is just pulling up. Jeff has gone back to the station with the Dursleys, PC Smith is holding the perimeter. Instructions are to take intensive pictures but don't attempt to get them down until the EMT's get down here," she muttered as she pulled out the various draws and supports. Dave nodded, picking up one of the cameras.
"How's he doing?"
"His name is Harry, he's in bad shape, but it's not immediately life-threatening."
"Yeah, Isabelle's the same. Mildly hypothermic, but I guess that's what you get if you're shoved up next to a basement wall night and day," Dave theorised, keeping his tone low.
Above them, the stairs creaked, seconds before the paramedics carefully descended into the basement. Their noses screwed up in disgust, eyes widening slightly as they took in the room before them.
Dave moved back over beside Isabelle as four paramedics fanned out at the bottom of the stairs, hauling their bags behind them. Her trembling increased slightly as one came closer.
"Harry's going to be okay, Isabelle. Just like you're going to be. You just have to let this nice man do his work, okay?" he soothed. The shivering didn't stop, but it didn't intensify either, which he took as a good sign. He nodded to the paramedic who shuffled a bit closer before introducing himself.
"Hi, Isabelle, is it? My name is Mark. My job is to detach you from the wall without hurting you. Is that okay?"
She nodded hesitantly. Mark smiled and lifted the pair of bolt cutters at his side.
"Good. Now, I need you to try and stand up a bit, to take the weight off of the metal holding you up. It will make it easier for me to cut through and hopefully not jostle your arms too much. If you want, Dave can help you. I will then cut through the chain holding the two bits circling your arms together. We'll get you on a stretcher and on your way to the hospital after that. Sound good?"
"Okay," she whispered, nodding anxiously. "Is Harry coming? I won't leave him."
Mark nodded, glancing back over his shoulder at his colleagues struggling to get the bleeding boy down from the ceiling.
"He might follow in a different ambulance because the ambulances aren't massive, but you won't be apart long, only the distance from here to the hospital."
Isabelle looked anxious but finally nodded. Mark, relieved that they had an agreement that would make life easier for all of them, held up his fingers.
"On the count of three. One, two, three!"
She pushed against the floor, muscles that had been stuck in an uncomfortable position for so long without a break screaming at the sudden use. Dave, seeing her struggling, grasped her under her arms and lifted slightly, ignoring the massive flinch at first contact. He wasn't shocked at how light the teenager was or how fragile her arms felt. That, he had seen before.
The paramedic cut the chain holding the handcuffs together. Isabelle's arms fell to her sides, her body tipping forward; she was exhausted. Dave adjusted his hold on her, being more gentle than he had ever been. He slid one arm under the backs of her knees and one under the top of her shoulders, just underneath her neck, feeling a twinge of guilt and sadness as she whimpered slightly. Two more paramedics were waiting at the top of the stairs with a body board to strap her onto, and he carried her slowly up to them. He gently placed her on it, watching as they wrapped her in bright red blankets before wheeling towards the ambulance.
He watched her get loaded into the vehicle, Harry following in the other only minutes after, before he turned and descended back into the hothouse of evidence. It didn't matter that the walls reeked of pain and horror - he was beyond willing to find whatever evidence he could get his mitts on to prove the Dursley's guilt.