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The Wild by my_voice_rising
Chapter 10: Blood Moon
Harry’s hand clenched again. “Something to tell me?” he repeated darkly. His voice drifted down the hallway like a ghost and raised the hair on Eloise’s arms. For a moment nobody spoke, and just as Eloise opened her mouth to explain she-wasn’t-sure-what, Harry shouted with enough venom to poison, “SECTUMSEMPERA!”
The hallway burst into life. Eloise jumped at the spell, explosive within the small corridor. Hermione screamed, “Harry, no!” as Draco barely leapt to his feet and out of the way. The hex bounced off the wall and knocked over what sounded like an enormous grandfather clock. Its pendulum struck a horrible note that reverberated through the house and made Eloise cover her ears. It sounded like a death toll.
She saw Ron reach for his own wand. Hermione shouted desperately, “Stop it!” and in their struggle, she dropped her wand to the wooden floor, where it flickered out.
Harry ducked one of Draco’s spells and a picture frame shattered behind him, glass falling to the ground like hail. Ron had managed to fight Hermione off and jabbed his wand at Draco, but Hermione interjected, “Expelliarmus!”
After her spell faded, the hallway was cloaked in black. Harry shouted through teeth clenched like iron gates, “He can’t even defend himself, now that Snape is good and dead!”
Even in the poor light Eloise could see Draco nearly snap his wand in half. The whites of his eyes grew twice their size, flickering ravenously. His body trembled, swathed in shadow. “Take it back, you fucking half-breed!” he screamed, firing another hex as Harry ducked around a corner.
It ricocheted off the wall, and behind her Eloise heard a soft, “Oh!”
Hermione collapsed to the ground and Harry cried out in alarm. Ron dropped to his knees before her, whimpering her name repeatedly and looking at a loss. There was no time to think. Draco used the distraction to dart down the stairs, Harry close on his trail.
Eloise didn’t wait. She ran after them into the den, where a blazing hearth was lit. No more firing blindly in the dark. If this didn’t stop, one of them would be dead.
Two more curses that Eloise had never heard of missed them, miraculously. One collided into an over-stuffed armchair and it burst. Bits of cotton fell through the air and into the fire.
As he turned to shout another hex, Harry’s foot connected with a footstool behind him, and he tripped. As he crashed to the floor, his wand flew from his hands and clattered on the ground several feet away. Helpless, he glared in defiance as Draco jabbed his wand at him. He looked horribly pale and sickly. Eloise realized he hadn’t fully recovered from the almost-Dementor’s Kiss.
“Now you will take it back,” Draco seethed.
"Draco," Eloise feebly whimpered his name, the blood pounding in her ears. He shot a glance at her, and in that moment the front door burst open.
Draco’s wand soared through the air and disappeared behind the couch. Two men had burst into the room, wearing severe expressions and brandishing wands. One of them was tall and lanky with red hair, and the other appeared thin and worn. There were scars on his face.
The red-haired man had his wand pointed at Draco, whose entire body was trembling in fury. “All right, Harry?” the man called. Harry didn’t respond but slowly got to his feet, his jaw muscles working angrily.
The tired-looking man turned his aim to Eloise and she jumped. “I—I don’t have my wand,” she sputtered. His eyes darted away to Draco and then his head jerked back. Eloise’s face turned a darker shade as the man stared, in awe.
“Eloise Scrimgeour?” he said, blinking in disbelief. The red-haired man snapped his head in her direction too, his jaw slack. She made an effort not to meet Draco’s intense glare.
They had been found.
An hour later, a very odd collection of people occupied the den. Draco and Eloise sat on opposite ends of the couch, while the two men—Eloise learned them to be Ron’s father, Arthur, and the other was named Lupin—stood regarding them before the fireplace. Arthur’s wife, Molly, sat in the destroyed chair with her arms crossed, her furious glare never leaving Draco. A young woman with bright pink hair, who had not introduced herself, stood beside Lupin.
Only minutes earlier Harry had stormed outside, leaving Eloise’s head bowed in shame and Draco muttering curses. Before that Ron had rushed Hermione to St. Mungo’s along with his younger sister, who had arrived with her mother. Molly’s reaction had not been much different from Harry’s. Arthur was forced to wrestle the wand from her as she tried to hex Draco. Then she had suddenly burst into tears, wailed, “Oh, dear, dear Dumbledore!” and rushed from the room. When she returned, her eyes were glassy and currently had not left Draco.
Nobody had said a word about whether or not they would be turned in.
Strangely enough, Eloise was not thinking of this. Instead she was replaying again and again, in her mind, Mrs. Weasley’s arrival. While Arthur had restrained her, Draco’s cold hand had seized Eloise by the.
“Run,” he had ordered lowly, gray eyes turning to stone. His grip had been so tight that she gave a muffled cry. The man named Lupin had quickly put Draco at wandpoint, his mouth forming a curse…
“NO!” she had cried, and Lupin stared incredulously. Draco didn’t let go of her arm though his grip loosened. “Please," she said, "he wasn’t going to hurt me.”
It was the look on Draco’s face that had made her recall that moment again and again. It made her remember the rain in Diagon Alley and the cold woods where the trees stood militant and tall, and the seedy inn where she had cried for a whole night as he listened. Of the moment when their fearful eyes met, just before her father was killed…
“Miss Scrimgeour,” said Lupin suddenly, snapping her from her reverie. He had been speaking for a while, about something that had fallen muffled on her ears.
Please don’t throw us out, please. We have nowhere to go. I know Draco acted like a fool but don’t punish him for it. A million things to say were going through her mind, but she couldn’t bring her lips to so much as move.
Lupin shifted uncomfortably. “Did you… Were you captured, by Draco?”
Eloise laughed at the idea, a pathetic, tittering laugh, but nobody else was smiling. She cleared her throat and swallowed against her pounding heart. The cold-stone floors of Azkaban Prison flashed into her mind. She would be turned in and she would die there. And if not thrown in a cell, back into the foggy woods where she would still die.
Voldemort will find and kill us.
“No, sir,” she murmured. “I came with him on my own accord. I made him take me with him after… after what happened with my father.” She felt strange talking about Draco as if he weren’t sitting beside her, silent and pale, a ghost.
He had not spoken at all, refusing to give answers. The adults were guarding the exits and the fireplace, and Apparation did not work in this town. He couldn’t leave. So he wouldn’t speak.
“And I trust you aren’t a follower of You-Know-Who,” Lupin said evenly.
She nearly laughed again amid her rushing nerves. “No, sir.”
Arthur was setting a steaming teacup before her, which she was too polite to refuse despite her churning stomach. When he began to pour a cup for Draco, the boy growled, “I don’t want any of your bloody tea.”
Everyone stared, whether blatantly or under their eyelashes like Lupin and Eloise. Refusing to meet Draco’s glare, Arthur stood straight and merely pressed his lips into a line. He left the teacup where it sat and Molly made a strange growling sound in the back of her throat.
The front door suddenly flew open again and Eloise flinched. “WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS GOING ON?” a deep voice boomed.
Everybody jumped in surprise, and afterward Eloise nearly sighed in exasperation—would all of Britain be here to witness?
Alastor Moody, a man Eloise had seen muttering secret business to her father, was blocking the doorway. His wand was already out, his magical eye swirling wildly; he must have seen Draco and Eloise through the door.
Lupin closed his eyes and said calmly, “Alastor, please. I know you’re confused, everybody is, but—”
“You’re damn right I’m confused!” Moody exclaimed, gesturing violently at the couch. “I come in here and there’s a Death Eater and the dead Minister’s daughter sipping on tea!”
“I’m not thirsty,” Draco said again through his teeth, when Arthur attempted to pour a second cup.
There was a long silence, and then Lupin looked back at the two of them. Eloise bowed her head. She couldn’t bear to hear it, the refusal to stay. She had finally found Harry Potter, the boy who might be able to help them, and now their chance was ruined.
“I’m sure you’re both very tired,” Lupin said quietly. “And nobody would be able to sit under the intensity of this room for long. Further questions can wait until the morning. Eloise, you will take the spare room tonight. Malfoy, you’ll have mine.”
Eloise’s head jerked up like somebody had seized it. She exclaimed, before she could stop herself, “You mean… you’re not turning us in?”
“To who?” Lupin said wistfully, and his mouth might have twitched in a smile. He reminded Eloise of something animalistic, in a tired, lonely way. She furrowed her brows at his statement, but nobody wanted to meet her confused glance.
Moody had no trouble explaining. “The Ministry gave up on your search a long time ago,” he barked. “We are the very people, if anyone, you’d be turned in to.”
Draco looked confused but again refused to speak. Eloise’s eyes began to brim with tears. “But… my grandmother is surely—”
“Under a witness protection program,” interjected Moody. Lupin and Arthur shifted, giving looks that plainly said that now was not the time. Moody must not have noticed, because he said, “She’s gone into hiding. Nobody knows where. If she were to organize a search for you, then she’d surely be found.”
Realization dawned on Eloise. “She was the one who called off the search,” she said weakly. She could feel Draco’s eyes on her. “Wasn’t she?”
“I’m sorry,” Lupin said quietly, and she pressed her lips together. She couldn’t cry; they had come so far. Not now.
Bide, Eloise, just bide.
“Your father was a good man,” said Moody, apparently to right his wrongs. A curt nod in Eloise’s direction was the only other condolence he seemed to offer. Eloise wasn’t sure she believed him, though.
Was her father a good man?
He was a leader, that was for sure. He knew how to run the Wizarding World with smoke and mirrors, illusions to keep the people who wouldn’t ask questions happy. He could run a household smoothly. But it was all just clockwork. There was nothing else there. He had probably loved Eloise, yes. But people had always called him “a good man” with tight lips, even before his death.
Arthur suddenly cleared his throat. “Yes, well I’ll just be clearing up down here, then. Remus, Tonks, if you would care to help me? Molly, dear, would you please show Malfoy to his room?”
Molly looked scandalized. “I don’t care if he sleeps under the porch, Arth—”
The pink-haired girl interjected, in a clipped accent, “I’ll take him up, Mrs. Weasley.” She regarded Draco coolly. “That is, if you’re willing to stay under the roof of inbreeds.”
Draco positively glowered at her and Lupin put a hand on her shoulder. “Dora…” he murmured lowly, though her eyes remained narrowed at the blond boy. Eloise turned to him and mouthed desperately, Please. He looked away and she muttered, the damned tears threatening to spill again, “I have been nothing but cooperative with you. Please show me the same consideration.”
He didn’t look at her, but didn’t refuse either. Tonks suddenly called impatiently from the bottom of the staircase, “Come on.”
Draco sat for a moment and then rose silently to his feet. Nobody looked at him except Eloise, but he refused to meet her gaze as he trekked up the creaking stairs.
Eloise was back in the bed she had first woken in. The quilt around her was warm but itchy, and the dying hearth offered little light. It had been hours since she had first curled up in her bed, hugging her knees. Hours since Molly led her to this room and told her that there were spare blankets on the rocking chair. Since Draco had disappeared into his own room without so much as speaking to her.
But still she could not find sleep.
Eloise had barely even blinked, it seemed, her eyes refusing to close. Grandmother had given up on her…
No, she ordered herself to stop. You can’t go on feeling sorry for yourself. She has plenty to worry about, especially.
A light tap on the door made her bolt upright. Had they changed their minds? Were they going to throw her back into the lonely forest again with the wolves and Dementors?
Pulling the blankets up to her chin, she called weakly, “Yes?”
When the door creaked open, Eloise couldn’t help her surprised stare. Harry Potter was standing in the doorway, long shadows cast over his face. Now that she had time to study him, Eloise noticed that he looked like he hadn’t slept in days. There were deep circles under his eyes. His skin was pale with fatigue.
He was just a boy.
Clearing her throat, she remembered her manners and called, “Come in,” though she hoped he didn’t notice the crack in her voice.
Harry walked inside slowly, and neither of them seemed to look directly at each other. There were two teacups in his hands and Eloise stared intently, as if they were the most interesting things in the world. One of them had a chip along the porcelain mouth. Eloise shifted, wondering why he would possibly be bringing her tea.
Maybe he has the wrong room, she thought.
“Hi,” he said awkwardly.
She dipped her head, reverting to pureblood formalities. “Hello.”
He stood just inside the doorway as if not daring to come any closer. Eloise was almost thankful for this. Then he looked down to his hands and seemed to remember the teacups. “Oh,” he murmured. Harry took several steps closer and, after seeming to study the cups for the best one, offered her the right hand. “Erm, here,” he said.
She took the teacup awkwardly. “Oh! Thank you.” Eloise really didn’t want anything to drink; she wasn’t sure her stomach could handle it.
He scratched the back of his head. “Welcome.”
Another long silence stretched. Eloise hadn’t been alone with a boy like this since before she started schooling, back in the scarce days when it was still allowed. Had Grandmother known she was alone, in a bedroom, after dark, with a boy her age, she would have been sent to finishing school.
Eloise cleared her throat and shrugged awkwardly, taking a sip of tea. She was always taught to wait until the gentleman had drank first, but Harry didn’t look like he was going to. Instead he just stood nervously, turning his teacup in his hands and glancing constantly out the doorway.
He watched as she took the first sip. There was a sharp aftertaste to it, and she realized that she was thirstier than she thought. Shamelessly, she drained the cup under his watchful eyes.
“I’m sorry,” Harry said suddenly.
Eloise looked up at him, her heart skipping a beat. “Why?” she asked breathlessly, worry overcoming her. Then she noticed a tingling sensation beginning to run through her body. Her eyes went to the empty cup in her hands and widened. “You poisoned it!” she gasped.
He shook his head, looking miserable. “No,” he groaned and ran a hand through his unruly hair. “It’s…Veritaserum.”
She hardly registered what he was saying. The most random thoughts were suddenly rushing through her mind, fighting to spill out from her mouth. It was all she could do to keep from blurting her innermost secrets.
When I was little I used to steal Grandmother's jewelry and hide it.
I once caught two servants kissing in the kitchen. When I went back into my room I practiced kissing the back of my hand.
Sometimes I sleep with a lantern on.
It’s my fault that my father is dead.
Harry looked at her, considering, and then as if realizing that this was his only chance he seized her shoulders. Eloise’s head rolled back drunkenly and he grabbed the sides of her face, forcing her to look him in the eye. She was squinting in the dim firelight that now suddenly seemed blaring.
“Did Malfoy kill Snape?” he fired.
She couldn’t quite understand what he had asked her, but found herself saying, “No,” despite herself. Harry looked at her, searching her face. She tried to turn her head away but he wouldn’t let her.
“Did... you?” he asked quietly.
Eloise’s heart pounded. “No!” she said, aghast. “I don’t even know how to perform the killing curse.”
“Did he tell you why Snape killed Dumbledore?” he asked quickly, as if they were running out of time. The dose he had given her must have been small.
Eloise shook her head. “N-no.”
“And he didn’t force you to come with him, or kidnap you?” Harry asked before she had finished answering. Eloise could begin to feel the bleary-eyed sensation disappear. She shook her head no, but couldn’t speak.
Harry scanned her features, and asked, “Did he kill your father?” She blinked hard, unable to register what he was saying.
Kill your father…
That horrible werewolf lunged into her thoughts, as though attacking from inside a fog. Harry noticed her slipping and said more feverishly, “Did Draco Malfoy kill your father?”
The monster was attacking. She was seeing his blood again, pooling in the forest floor and rising to her ankles. The trees were dripping it from their leaves, the wind carried a stench of death. Eloise could see Harry’s mouth desperately forming questions, but she couldn’t understand him. All she could hear was her father’s cry as the werewolf dove at him, and then that sickening green light…
It all went away in a sudden rush. As if it had never happened, Eloise blinked up at him, her eyes refocusing. She suddenly realized that her cheeks were slick with hot tears and that her shoulders were racking with loud sobs.
Harry abruptly let go of her face and took several steps back. She turned her head quickly, quieting herself but unable to stop the silent cries. Eloise’s stomach was sore from her bawling and she fell onto the bed, burying her face in her pillow.
You’re not supposed to cry, she heard a voice in her mind say. The tears running to her chin and onto her lips muffled the words.
“Sorry,” she heard Harry mutter. She had almost forgotten he was there. “I really am sorry,” he said again but she didn’t look up. She heard his footsteps fading down the creaking hallway and pulled the blanket over her head. Every time she blinked she was back in that dark forest, watching her father die over and over again.
The crescent moon was dripping blood.
Draco stood at his window, leaning heavily with his hands pressed onto the pane. He had tried for the past half-hour to come up with a spell to unlock it, and each time he failed. A single candle lit the room, flickering on his tousled and dirty hair. He couldn’t stay trapped here. It was an iron cage, the bars just small enough that he couldn’t slip through.
The moon outside was full, and he could see the village from his perch on the second floor. The cobblestone streets outside were icy with frozen condensation, under the thin layer of fog that never seemed to leave. Old, abandoned houses with boarded windows surrounded him. Only half of them seemed inhabited, though their curtains were drawn tightly. The houses all seemed to face the same direction—stone and dust circling around something that Draco could not see.
Over the rooftops, billowing clouds were in the distance. It might snow tomorrow, he realized. Not a good day for traveling.
But he had to escape.
As he did every night, Draco reached into the pocket of his robes and fished around until he felt the tiny silver band brush his fingertips. Cautiously, he pulled out his mother’s wedding ring. A cold blue stone on granite-colored silver.
It reminded him of an enormous manor with little furniture and no laughter. A wedding bed where love was no longer shared. A boy’s room overlooking an icy garden, where he once witnessed his father violently shove his mother. When she hit her head on the wall of stone a red spot remained, and she fell unconscious. That home was charred to the ground now.
And all the better for it, Draco thought bitingly as he pocketed the ring.
He hadn’t allowed himself to really think about his mother since her death. Each time he had taken out the ring, it had just been an artifact of his past life. A small, metallic reminder. A thought struck him, and he once more took the ring out and held it in his palm, cold and round and pearly in the glow of moonlight. The moon was in his hands. Draco studied it.
The stone was the exact color of his mother’s eyes.
He cursed venomously when a tear landed on his palm, and smeared the back of his hand over his eyes. The Dementor attack had sucked away any happy memory he might have had and left him feeling desolate. The ring was shoved back into his pocket.
When he moved, the wound on his side stung so violently that he nearly cried out. He hissed inwardly, fighting the urge to press his hand to the cut. Apparently the Dementors had bruised more than his emotions.
Wincing, he lowered himself onto the foot of the bed—that bloody werewolf’s bed, he thought bitterly—and carefully unbuttoned his shirt. The expensive clothing was once a pristine blue, but now was stained dark with mud and earth and forest. Readying himself, Draco peeled back the bandage that shielded his wound and bit his lower lip. The tear hadn’t re-opened as feared, but was bruised a repulsive yellow and purple. He frowned.
Lifting a green bottle from the cloak Meader had given him, he studied it under the moonlight. The liquid inside reflected the beams and turned them an olive color. He sat and stared, transfixed, when there was suddenly a knock at the door.
He didn’t even turn his head, nor did he speak. He would pretend to be sleeping. Draco was not in the mood to be consoled by some bloody Order member. Probably the werewolf. It was their fault that all of this had happened. They hadn’t arrived to the forest on time, and Severus had died, and now he was in this mess.
Sniffing hastily, Draco uncorked the bottle, watching the liquid move under the moon. He sucked in a breath and spread some of the liquid across the deep cut. The burn spread painfully and he gritted his teeth, throwing back his head in an attempt not to cry out. Not with Lupin at the door, if he hadn’t slumped back down the stairs yet. At last, after several minutes, the pain dulled. Corking the bottle once more, Draco leaned back on his hands and closed his eyes. He could begin feel his side growing numb.
The knock came again. He rolled his eyes.
“It’s me,” a voice called softly. “Eloise.”
Draco’s head snapped up. He paused. He should let her stay out there, for making him stay the night here. It was her fault she didn’t tell Hermione and Ron to bugger off. Cursing under his breath, Draco slowly dragged himself to his feet and crossed to the door. When he opened it, Eloise stared wide-eyed and then directly looked to her feet. Draco had forgotten to adorn his shirt, and now stood half-naked in front of the biggest prude he had ever met, excluding Minerva McGonagall.
Had the past few months been any less dismal, he would have laughed. Consciously, he put his arm behind his back: the one that bore the mark.
Eloise stammered, eyes never leaving her feet, “I… I can’t sleep.” A large quilt was wrapped around her, like she was terrified to be seen in pajamas.
Draco snorted and rolled his eyes. “You’re finally in a bed after nearly two weeks on the hard ground. Why not?”
She still couldn’t lift her gaze to him, but he began to think it was for another reason. “Because,” she said, as if hoping that was a good enough reason. He quirked his eyebrow and she shifted uncomfortably. “Because I’m not used to sleeping alone, and I feel like everyone is listening outside my door, or murmuring about me, or plotting to throw me back…” she trailed off.
Draco watched her for a long time. She was paranoid. He could close the door in her face. Tell her to quit whining and go back to her own bed. But instead he merely widened the doorway and strode back to his bed. As he reclined painfully onto his side, he could hear the shuffling of feet. The door clicked closed.
The bed sagged under her weight as she shifted onto her side, facing away from him. Like she always did. After a moment she murmured, “Thank you.”
Draco blew out the candle but didn’t respond. He didn’t say, either, that he had also been unable to sleep, for the very same reason.
A/N: Hey guys! Thanks for reading. I know it's been forever since I've updated, but I just finished this chapter a number of minutes ago and I'm working on Chapter Eleven right now. I'm really trying to get this thing done. I've got it all planned out, and I'm really excited for it. So please, stick around for the rest of the story!
Also, thank you to Magic_Marker on the HPFF forums for creating my new story summary. Isn't it grand?