Chapter 1 : Le Premier et Fin II
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The parts or lines in italics are lyrics from Iron and Wine’s Each Coming Night.
A Ghost and His Quill
He saw it coming.
There are just things like that. Things that are just far too ‘meant to be’ for reality. And that’s why he saw it coming.
Sitting there, behind his broad bureau (the wood of which was arrogant and unpleasantly flawless), he could see it all like a memory that had yet to happen.
He could see her finding the letter somewhere on the floor. Or it could be taped to a door. Or it could be floating in through a window like an ironic twist of formidable fate. But somehow, she’d find it. And she’d tear it open with this brilliant smile on her face and she’d be so happy because there, on the envelope in his scratching elegant script, would be her name. Her name in ink that reassured her that yes, he still loved her. He loved her enough to write to her. And that’d be enough for her.
He could see her drawing out the letter and disregarding the envelope. He could see her scanning the contents as her grip on the find parchment hardened. He could see her expression cooling and her countenance rearrange itself calculatingly. And then he could see it.
The very moment the realisation struck her. He could see, in his mind’s eye, the very moment her eyes would dull and widen and the very moment her expression would veil itself in automatic defence. He could see the very moment her amber eyes would flash and then dart around the room, incredulous and in alarm, as though to verify his absence.
And, even in his mind, he could see her try, almost immediately, to mask her hurt. But there would be no one else around her in that empty room. No one else there to hide her hurt from. There never was, anymore.
The broad shouldered man behind his broad bureau closed his eyes for a moment and rubbed the bridge of his nose as though he had the luxury of time adorning the mantle of his life for just the while more. But the images he could see coming faded not.
He could see her, still, paling and searching the room, empty though it would be, for any sign of him. That empty room in the quaint house on the quiet street three blocks down from ordinary. He could see her walk stiffly and steadily to the foyer looking for tangible validation, hope, or assurance. Anything to affirm his absence. For if he sent a letter, would he really not come himself?
But he knew that she wouldn’t find anyone. That she would and could only find nothing laced with silence. And part of him regretted that.
He opened his grey eyes and interlocked his hands in a steeple before him.
She’d brush away tears and they’d litter the carpet behind her. She’d hasten from room to room and walk just a little swifter each time she’d cross onto naught. She’d have her hair in those waves that arched their way down her back and they’d sway to the beat of her raging heart like they always did.
He could see it.
He could see the way her hands would tremble, the way her resolve would crack, and the way she’d taste sorrow bitter and callous in the air. And he could see the way she’d feel the impending weight of…everything. Impending everything. Misery, hatred, confusion, frustration, defiance, assumption, horror, desperation, apprehension, fear, sorrow, stoicism, and void.
And then she’d bury it all away a second later until you’d have to bear into her russet eyes to make a window into her soul.
But he had to do as he would. Before all this would come to pass, he’d have to do what would precipitate her hurt. He’d be dead when she read the letter anyway. He’d be like the ghost that wrote his own farewell. Like the ghost with his quill and his lady so ignorant. The ghost that would just as suddenly be gone.
The broad shouldered man with the grey eyes (sitting at his bureau with its arrogant wood) almost sighed.
She’d grip the paper when she reached that one empty room again and she’d sink to her knees. The parchment would dangle from her desperate fingers idly and accusingly. Then she’d struggle to breath and there would be no tears left. She and he emptied themselves of tears for as long as the War had been going on. Surely she’d have no tears left. And, even, he knew there would be no light in her eyes and no smile on her lips. There would be no blush of beautiful youth on her ivory skin and no hint of laughter on her unsteady breath. There would be no confidence, will, compassion, justice, or transitory sanity in her trembling limbs.
Coherence would be forgotten.
He could see it. She’s let go of the letter and it would float to the space before her knees and she’d watch its descent with stranger’s eyes. She would watch its descent as though she could not grasp its identity. But the paper would stare back at her, even from the floor. It would scream its inky words in a voice only she could hear and make itself unavoidable. And he’d given the letter its power to do this by writing down her fears. And when she’d read her fears she’d never forget them. And that was the power of fear.
He leaned back in his chair. He would break her, doing this. He knew it. And he couldn’t see it any other way. It had to be done.
Part of him, vindictive and sturdy, was aptly awaiting the end of this all. That part of him hoped she’d never forget him. Never forget the taste of his lips or the feel of his skin or the cut of his voice or the strength in his step.
Part of him, though, was almost sorry. And it was that part that made his fingers quiver just faintly as he sat down to start his writing.
Yes, he could see it all. He could feel death. He sat, like a living apparition, to write the letter that would break her.
Some things are far too ‘meant to be’ for reality. I have told you this before and consider it my last. I am no longer beside you because I am only that. No longer. You will find this letter on my pillow or on yours, or by your morning tea, or on the counter, or it could be taped on my study door. But when you read this, know how sorry I am. How serious I am. How deliberate I am and how stubborn I will always be.
Will you say when I’m gone away: “My lover came to me,
There are and have been many tales of many people in many places at many times who have read letters written by the trembling hands of their parted and dear. And those letters break hearts because those many people deem it so fit. Those people reason that to break a lover’s connection your heart must, as penance, break as well. But I know you and I know your heart. There will be no breaking to need mending and no shattering to need remedy. I can not judge how hurt or affected you will be, but I know you will, just as stubbornly, refuse to break because of me. You always have. So remember me, if only for this moment.
And we’d lay in rooms unfamiliar but until now,
What was I? Your secret affair or your love? We said that word, the latter, once or twice in hotels in Prague and flats in Toulouse. Two years of foreign excursions we made for fear of being caught. Rented villas in southern Majorca in which we would map out unfamiliar rooms and, in turn, our familiar bodies as if foreign soil mattered not. And then we would smile in slight and quote relic clichés of the past like ‘Love is universal’ and ‘Love is boundless’ just so we would reassure each other that secrecy was all right. We would return to our bodies and map out our minds. We would memorise our different smiles, laughs, moans, screams, and fears. I remember the way your eyes flash when you scream your coming. The way your eyelashes flutter when you sigh your pleasure. And I miss those screams and sighs. I still remember your fears. Those fears that reminded us that yes, I am with you now, in this bed, in this room, on this chair, or against this wall, or in this city, so far away from mine, thine, and our own. But, no, mine, thine, and our own are waiting to take us back to our real lives in that quaint house on that quiet street three blocks from ordinary. So forget about Geneva or Montreal. Forget about me and the feel of me. This is that last goodbye. Hate me for it, I beg you, but I will love you still. For I do, you know. Love you.
Until now. Until now.”
I am cruel, Ginevra. I can not argue with you. I am heartless and remorseless. But I sacrifice for you. I sacrificed watching them die and I sacrifice now. This cruelty, this is my choice. Watching them die for me and for my choices was my decision and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Next to leaving you.
Will you say to them when I’m gone: “I loved your son for his sturdy arms,
I never told them how much I loved you. You never heard it so why should they have? I think, in a way, I killed them. No. I know I killed them. Because I chose you. I chose to cross paths with you and take you to foreign hotel rooms in foreign cities to taste your foreign skin. I chose to take you to forbidden flats in forbidden countries to taste your forbidden lips. They were misjudged because my father willed it. They were of the fewest I knew loved me. And they never said it, but I knew. Perhaps that’s where I picked up the habit. I loved you and I never told you. Now you know. Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy were killed first and I watched it. They were killed first and then the War began. I sacrificed everything when I stumbled upon their mangled bodies. I could not grieve, but that has been my inhibition. That is when safety buckled. That is when I knew I was next. And then you. And then your friends. And then everything that stands in the Lord’s way. The Order will not help us, Ginevra, so I take my life in your place. And I warn you to abandon the Fight in my name. I will save you, so save yourself when I am gone.
We both learned to cradle then live without,
I wonder if you are beginning to understand. My hand is unsteady but my will is sure. Do you remember that eternity I used to tell you about? The one I promised you in Rome and Seville under the covers of our affair? It is closing in for me and I am sorry. I am the sacrifice. I will kill and be killed for you. I owe you that much, you have told me. When you wake up and find me missing, when the sheets are cold and the scent of me is fading, when this letter trembles in your hand it is because I have done the only thing I can to ensure your life. Dark Magic works in mysterious ways. A designated time after you read this letter, you will be safe from them for eternity. The ultimate challenge and I have solved it. Though you have lost me in the process.
Live without. Live without.”
I have not yet decided how to end this letter. It is long, forgive me. I have not yet decided whether you will cry for my loss or yours. I am only losing myself, but you are losing me. I hope my death will hurt you more than it will ever hurt me. My most selfish wish is to know my parting will hurt you. As if those glances of love and lust were never enough to satiate me, I am exceedingly spoiled to have my way. And I wanted your love. I wanted to be by your side out of the shadow of secret affairs. I wanted to live and have the most beautiful children with you. But this is the easier choice. The swiftest way to keep you safe. I could never bear to lose you, so trust in me. I will lose myself before I ever lose you to death.
Will you say when I’m gone away: “Your father’s body was judgment day,
I knew this would come to pass, this ambiguous death. I knew since I turned to you for help shortly after our first meeting in Dover. Do you remember? We were teetering into War and you were in the most muggle of muggle cafés. I almost fell in love with you right there. I never expected you to be there, I went there to escape the Wizard world every morning. But I approached you with a proposal. I asked you to take the Malfoys under your Order’s wing and to let no one (save Dumbledore) know of our presence. And I asked you to let us fight to our deaths for your Fight and I asked you to trust me. But I never told you why I decided to continue the Fight. I wanted to win you, to hold you, to acquire respect enough to be right by you. I wanted to have you as you wanted to be had or how I ached to have you. And now, there will not be that quaint house with the painted shutters and the white picket fence. There will never be those beautiful innocent girls with their bright brown eyes and regal red curls. There will never be those gallant boys with their smirking silver eyes and their soft blond hair. Our children would have been so like you and I but I am sorry they will never be. I wonder if you would have told them of me, had you had them. Told them of my bravery that I only ever had for you.
We both dove and rose to the riverside,
I think some part of me knew my parents would be first. That same part of me knew that they would ultimately pay the highest of prices. But I encouraged the shift in alliance anyway. And I laid their deaths at my doorstep and now I lay mine at yours. Their deaths outweigh my impending one and they loved you too.
You will remember me. Late at night with the cold draft and my sturdy arms so absent, you will remember me. In photographs taken in coming years where I will be absent and my smile, even, fading from the older ones. In the dining room or floral shop or in the alleys or in each and every foreign town. Under the open skies on a balcony or by that one tree on the Burrow’s back lawn or, most certainly, in your avid heart. I am cruel, Ginevra. But I am sorry.
Will you say to me when I’m gone: “Your face is faded,
Never forgive me and never forget me. Time, life, you and I, we never ask for forgiveness. I do not deserve it and neither do I deserve to be forgotten. Mine, thine, and our own will never know of us and what lusts we had, what aspirations we had, what fear we had, what future we had. I am selfish and I want you to live. This is the end of my line and yours is boundless. It will be easier if you forgot me, but spare me that fate. I will remember you, death aside.
But lingers on ‘cause light strikes a deal with each coming night,
They are coming after me because of that. Because of my sacrifices and because of you. Allegiance runs deep and I am their poster boy for betrayal. They found out of my family’s turn and took my parents as penance. But they are insatiable. And I am next. Their forces are weaker now, but they are still hungry for blood. I never did tell you how I found my parents and I never will. I only hope you will never find me in such disarray. But they will get no farther than me. Dark Magic, I told you, works in mysterious ways. This will be the fit of irony that tells you you will wake up to an empty bed. And I will never be next to you again, not in Prague, not in Sicily, not in Toulouse, not in Rome, not in Majorca. And never in that quaint house. Take care.
Coming night. Coming night.
I am a ghost already, sitting here scratching away at this paper. I am spilling my life’s ink on this canvas and you are reading me reformed as you have reformed me. I am sorry if you fell in love with me, but I cherish it. I never blame you for letting me fall in love with you, know that. It is not your love that will kill me; neither your lust for me nor my lust for you. Sacrifice is clean as it is a seamless choice. I choose this.
Coming night. Coming night.
Our last night together we spent in Prague again. I love Prague for it reminds me of the curve of your lips. I seemed cross and distant. I apologise. I mean to remedy all my wrongs to you. Never doubt my absolute allegiance to you or my absolute admiration in you or my absolute affection of you or my absolutely irrevocable adoration for you. I feel them growing nearer and my resolute will yearns to bend. But it will not until I am ready to forfeit in lieu of you. I a waiting for my fate and it is daunting. It is unpredictably routine and erratically cyclic. Waiting is my synonym for dread. Fate is my synonym for death.
Coming night. Coming night.”
What I have wrought in my life I forsake for this. I hear creaks from the hall outside this study that scream their presence. I hear heavy outdoor boots with plated heels that have no place in this villa by the sea I spent my last moments in. Most delicately, I love you. Tell Dumbledore he owes me one.
In the face of all that is wrong in the world.
Viscount Draco Cassius Malfoy.
And he saw this coming.
Draco paused in his writing as he signed the letter and listened to the rattling of the door knob. He smiled to himself almost ruefully. The door would last three shakes until those intruders would throw it open. He turned back to the letter and folded it delicately as the first shake of the wooden door reverberated through the room. He placed it in the envelope as the second shake thundered through the silence. On the third shake, he handed it to his falcon and turned to face the door as it blasted off its own hinges.
Then he saw them. All three of them. They sized him up and forced him to his knees. Draco complied. They taunted him and threatened him. Draco bit his lip. They wove graphic tales of his parents’ death and offered him recluse were he to relinquish the Order’s lair. Draco shook his head. He would be the sacrifice, his eyes clearly said. The falcon left the room unnoticed.
The three men were broad shouldered and towered over Draco. They took out knives and wands, silver metal and black wood. They doused the candle light and drew the curtains. They levelled their weapons to Draco’s skin. And they gave him one last chance to repent. Tell them the location of the Order and all would be forgiven. Draco gritted his teeth and his silence screamed defiance.
The burliest of the three men struck Draco’s pale face and the other two men laughed. One stepped around the broad wooden bureau and filed dirty fingers through the various papers. The last man walked around the room and picked up various shiny objects, weighed them in his hand, nodded thoughtfully, and placed them back.
Draco, silent still, was struck again.
The burly man asked for a knife and the second man, from the desk, handed him one with sharp teeth and a thin blade. The burly man turned to Draco and carved the names of Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy into his skin. Draco took the pain and said nothing. The man that walked around the room frowned and drew his black wooden wand. He trained it on the bleeding skin of the young man on his knees and cursed the blood. The lights from the wand flew through the dim room as rapid hexes showered the now shuddering Draco Malfoy.
The burly man laughed and dipped his stained knife blade into the blood anew. He brought the blood to Draco face and showed it to him. Draco shook his head, his vision starting to fail.
The burly man nodded at the man that was back to perusing the desk’s papers and he, too, came. He struck Draco from behind, driving the heel of his metal plated boot into Draco’s spine. The cracks were deafening with each impressive blow. Draco fell forward onto the burly man’s waiting knife. The man with the black wooden wand laughed something merry and cursed the boy again.
Draco felt the skin on his arms burn as hexes dug away at his flesh. The burly man turned to retrieve a candle which the man with the wand lit. the burly man brought the flame to each of Draco’s wounds and the hiss of pain that escaped Draco was drowned by the sizzling of human skin. The man from the desk with the plated wooden boot grasped at Draco’s quivering arms and bound them behind his back with chains of spike that dug into Draco’s wrists. Draco screamed then and thrashed. His vision blackened and he could feel the blood whistle in his ear. He still relinquished naught.
The burly man looked satisfied and nodded to the man with the wand. He muttered a final curse that took the life of Draco Malfoy. And two of the three men disappeared like ghosts in the night, but not before they saw the soul and life and breath of the last Malfoy disappear from his blackened eyes.
The last man, the burliest, smiled and conjured his sign over the villa. The striking green glittered out of place against the backdrop of stars. The burly man congratulated himself and felt the victor. He left behind the candle and its flame, not caring that it fell to the wood of the floor as soon as he set it before the dead body of Draco Malfoy the Target. The flames spread and swallowed the wood of the floor.
The burly man disapparated sated that the Target was no more.
The soul, life, and breath of Draco Malfoy circled the room. They formed a make shift apparition that watched the dancing flames lick at his former body. The apparition was sitting in the study’s chair, ignoring the fire that climbed up the sides of his broad wooden bureau. The apparition looked out the window and the curtains drew back. The falcon was long gone and the letter, its envelope and its words, were gone with it.
The apparition sat back.
He had seen this coming and this was his purpose. He settled into the arrogant study chair and disappeared, fading into the leather of the seat as it burned into itself and into non-existence.
The letter was gone. The falcon was gone. Draco Malfoy was sacrificed.
The falcon swam through the air on a quiet street until it reached the broad window of a quaint house. In flew in with the breeze that moved the light curtains and settled on the railing of the foyer stairs.
The falcon watched a young woman’s steady breathing as she curled on the couch in the sitting room just feet away. She was sleeping. She had vibrant rouge hair that fanned about her like a silk shawl. It was in waves.
This was the girl that had waited for him after he left, waited for his return. She blamed herself, a thousand times for a thousands things, for what she thought she’d done. The falcon cocked its head and in its beak was clasped the envelope with the letter with the words with the goodbye.
He had seen this coming, Draco Malfoy had.
The girl on the couch blinked awake and slowly uncurled herself from the couch. Her hand, ivory and elegant, groped the air to her left for the light switch of the antique lamp. The light flowered through the room and the rouge headed girl looked around with bright russet eyes for the man she dared hope came back to her. She dared hope he’d come back to discuss and forgive her for whatever she had done to make him so cross, so distant, so much so that he’d left.
But no one was there.
She turned her head towards the foyer and her eyes glimpsed a falcon. She frowned. She approached the falcon and he dropped the letter the moment Ginevra Weasley got too close. The falcon stretched its massive wings and flew from her and out the window like a breeze returning to the dark night.
She looked down at the letter in her hand and frowned. So he wasn’t back, so he didn’t come. But she had a letter. Her fingers traced her name as it shined with finality back at her from the envelope. It was written arrogantly in a way only Draco’s hand could weave. Ginny drew out the folded parchment and read it silently, backing up to the couch without ever tearing her eyes from the paper.
He had seen this coming.
Ginevra’s grip hardened and her expression cooled. Her eyes grew distant and her composure stiffened. Her eyes took in the ink and read the words. Slowly but surely, but not enough. She dropped the letter half way through and ran from room to room. She returned to the parlour with barely-there tears staining her ivory cheeks. Her eyes dropped to the letter and she dropped to her knees. She didn’t dare read the rest of it. She missed the warning. She grasped the remorse. But she was un-warned.
The men with the heavy heel plated outdoor boots had come for her too. The ex-girlfriend of Harry Potter and the illustrious auror.
Three shakes. That’s what it took until the door was blasted open and off its hinges. Ginevra Weasley turned her head in time for a burly man with broad shoulders to strike her. From her knees, Ginny fell, sprawled, to the floor.
Two other men charged through the blasted foyer door and into the connecting parlour as though they were a wind ripping through the room. Ginny, slowly rising from the floor, deftly stared at them. The letter, almost forgotten, laid there by her knees with a blank face marred by black ink, sharp and crisp.
One of the three men, the burliest that struck her, seized Ginny and forced her to stay on her knees. She didn’t speak, she didn’t plead, she didn’t thank them for this deed. But the tears she thought were lost, the ones she’d cried away in Draco’s arms two years ago in the beginning of this War, were back. And she cried them now as though she couldn’t hold them back.
She didn’t finish Draco’s letter. She didn’t say goodbye. And suddenly, she loved him.
The three men mocked her and taunted her and they were amused by the tears that dotted her cheeks. They were tears the three men were sure were fearful tears, pity-me tears. But they were not. They were tears for him. Him who had promised to save her through his death and Dark Magic. Him who left to sacrifice himself without a fight just to save her, his lust, his treasure, his secret affair.
The burly men withdrew a stained silver knife with sharp teeth and a thin blade. Ginny watched it with a stranger’s eyes. The men offered her amnesty if she cooperated but her silence proved her defiance. So they smiled condescending smiles and carved the names of her dead family members (Percy, Fred, George, Arthur, Molly) into her skin and she screamed as she bled.
One of the other men perused the room while the third drew out his black wooden wand. He threw curses into the red head’s blood and her screams sated him not. He threw hexes into her wounds and her shudders and tremors satisfied him not. Ginny’s vision blackened and restored itself. She fell limp in front of the burly man’s feet and he cackled.
Again, he offered her amnesty and dipped his already twice stained blade into her blood. Ginny found strength in that for she felt a stranger’s blood mix with hers. A stranger that wasn’t a stranger at all, but her love. And she found strength in his blood fusing with hers. And she gritted her teeth and sat up gingerly, sternly. ‘No’ she shook her head and the burly man’s eyes widened.
‘No?’ He mouthed to her and she was silent. He growled something low and struck her. She fell. The man perusing the room rolled his eyes, but joined in the formidable laugh at Ginevra Weasley’s expense. From the floor, Ginny saw the letter stare back at her. The letter she didn’t finish reading.
But she’d read what he promised. He had promised to save her. He had died for it. And now, she was dying. She could feel it as the man that was once perusing the room advanced on her with his metal heel plated boots. He fastened one heel over her windpipe and suddenly Ginny felt death much closer, tangible. But he had promised. Oh, how it tore at her that Draco had died to save her. That he had loved her.
Ginny gasped for breath as the man pressed his heel deep into her throat. Unconsciousness beckoned her but she declined the invitation. She tried to steady her dizzy vision, but she scarcely could. The man with the black wooden wand lit a candle and threw it on the ground. Smoke clouded the room easily, quickly, and Ginny coughed and coughed.
Her vision blurred with tears and fears and smoke and death and suddenly, she loved Draco Malfoy. Suddenly, she forgave Draco Malfoy. She remembered him and how short eternity really was.
The man with the metal heel retracted his leg a certain distance and brought it, crushingly, to Ginny’s throat. And she died.
No. No. This wasn’t right. The wrong ending. This wasn’t how it was supposed to end. He, he had promised her. He thought he had seen everything coming and he thought he had sacrificed in time and, and he had thought wrong.
The flames from the haphazardly thrown candle spread as the three men disappeared into the night. The letter yielded to the flames and fell into its own ashes. And it was too late.
And he had never seen this coming.
I do hope you enjoyed this. Not what happened, per se, because it’s all rather sad.
Do review. Love reviews.