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Missing Memories by CrystalClear
Chapter 20 : A Caged Thing
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 60


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Chapter Twenty: A Caged Thing




Sometimes I get a feeling that I
Could take to the sky and fly way high
But then a shot and I’m down with a cry
Writhing and screaming as I feel myself die
-Author's Quote


Hermione’s sweaty back stuck to the soft satin bedspread on which she lay. She cradled her face, red and hot with tears, into the icy spread of her palm. Salty tears pooled in the corners of her eyes, gathering there until the pools broke and the tears streamed down her face: her cheeks, her nose. Her ear grew wet with her tears, the pillow on which her head rested slowly becoming soaked. Her shoulders shook, with fury more than because of her tears. Her hands clenched by her side, making her shoulders, and, in turn, her entire body, taught with the anger that coursed through her like a stream of fire.

She rolled over and gazed at the pale face of Draco Malfoy, cold and hostile even while he slept. Wrinkles creased between his brows and his mouth was set in a hard line. He groaned and turned from his side onto his back. He was dreaming. Hermione could only look at him for a moment or two before she had to look away, afraid of the anger, of the fury that threatened to consume her.

She rolled over onto her back again and began to study the ceiling intently: the expensive crystal lights that draped across the pale golden tint of the ceiling. Her eyes began to tear up again and fresh tears burned her eyes. She rolled on to her stomach, forcing herself to believe what she knew was not true.

It’s better this way, she thought wildly, her hands clenching the bedspread so tight that when she let go, a ball of stretched-out wrinkles remained. Ron already has Gwyn; I was ruining things for him. This way I can’t...this way...

Hermione gave up and curled into a ball. This way what? Gwyn was stuck in a coma, Ron was falling apart, and she was captured, caged like an animal, like an object, like an inobedient child, like a piece of property. She knew in her heart that Ron needed her, desperately so, to be able to eventually accept Gwyn’s situation. And where was she? Stuck wandering the cold, drafty halls of a strange, foreign place she had once in defeat called home. What was she? A piece of property...Malfoy’s property.

Hermione uncurled and pushed herself out of bed, her bare feet pattering briskly across the cold marble tile of the room. As she slipped into the bathroom and softly shut the door, she saw Draco watching her movements through slits of eyes. She shivered as his eyes watched her until they could see her no more. She stood no chance of escaping, that much she knew. Draco would have made sure of that.

She sunk onto the toilet with the lid still on. She curled her knees toward her chest and wrapped her arms around them. She lay her head on the tops of her knees and let out a great breath. She hugged herself tight against the frigid chill of the air, then stretched out briskly, rolling her neck and trying desperately to knead the pressure out of her shoulders. She groaned in pain as she began to work on a knot of muscle clenched tight in her right shoulder. She let out a hiss between her teeth, which were tightly clenched together and chattering because of the cold, but she continued to work on the knot. Red hot pain coursed down her arm, needles scratching across her veins, and up through her neck and into the base of her head until she felt lightheaded and about to faint with the pain.

Finally she could take no more. She rolled her neck once more before pushing herself off the toilet seat with shaky legs. She pushed back the curtain that surrounded the shower in a great half-circle and stepped onto the cold tile of the shower’s floor. She closed the curtain back around her and switched on the water. It startled her as it flowed out, freezing, making her grow taught with shock, and her hand fumbled clumsily for the knob that controlled the heat of the water. She turned it all the way toward hot then turned around, letting the steaming water drench her hair and pour over her sore neck and shoulders, then down her back.

The water quickly grew too hot for her to bear, but still she let it beat down on her, burning her back till it was a bright, harsh red. She cried as the pain sliced through her, like a thousand knives having at her, but she welcomed her tears. She bit her lip till it bled, crimson drops falling down to the floor of the shower, growing lighter as they mixed with the water, then swirled down the drain. She watched the red fall to the floor – plop, plop, plop – with something that only resembled minor interest. She watched as the red spattered over her toes as it collided with the cold white tiles, then pinkened, then was swept away entirely. Every drop appeared so strong, such a bright, harsh color that could stain whatever it touched, but the water, plain old water, could wash it away without a trace. With the water, the blood was muted, unable to stain, and eventually became nothing at all.

Just like me.

Hermione stepped out of the shower, cringing as the cold air washed over her steaming body and she began to go into shock. She sunk to the floor and wrapped her arms around herself, desperately trying to warm herself. She hurt so much, so, so much. She felt ill.

Eventually, she felt well enough to push herself shakily to her feet. She still hurt, badly burned, but her head no longer felt woozy and light and the world no longer swirled around her like a painful array of bright, white lights that never seemed to end. She slipped the silk, sparse white nightgown over her inflamed red shoulders, wincing and hissing in pain as she did so. Then her hand clenched around the knob of the bathroom door and she pushed it open. Her bare feet pattered once again across the cold marble of the floor as she hurried back to the bed. She was about to ease herself slowly into it until she noticed that Draco no longer lay on his side. She looked up in surprise and her eyes flickered from side to side, searching the corners of the room for his presence. Maybe she could find a way to escape after all! Hermione’s heart flared with this brief hope although she knew that it was foolish to do so.

Hermione’s hopes shattered immediately, like glass broken into a thousand pieces, all scattered across the ground just waiting to be picked up again, just waiting to cause pain once more. She spotted Draco’s hulking figure in the darkest corner of the room, his cold, cruel eyes of steel narrowed as they glinted in the darkness. Hermione shivered.

Draco stepped forward. His feet were bare, as was his stomach. His feet were uninteresting, but his stomach, strong, a mass of chiseled muscles, immediately drew Hermione’s eyes. She hated herself for it and immediately pulled her gaze down to the floor, to the thin, angular bones of his feet as they walked toward her. But she saw his gaze, his smirk, the look of triumph and conceit he wore before her eyes fell to the floor.

It made her veins burn in anger, pits of fire. Or perhaps that was only the burns seeping through her skin and deep into her muscle and flesh. Either way, Hermione stiffened, her eyes watering, and suddenly felt like running full speed out the door, down the endless staircases, and out into the night.

“I heard your tears.” Draco’s voice was cold, matter of fact, and his eyes were still flat, hard as steel. Hermione looked up at him, her eyes defiant, sweat matting her damp hair, sticking it to her swollen skin. She was sure she looked horrible, but she didn’t care. It had been a long time since her foolish years as a child, then as a teen, a long time since she had cared what Draco thought of her. It had been a long, long time and she had learned her lesson. Now she wished she would have learned it before it was too late. Then perhaps she wouldn’t have been in the predicament in which she found herself now. Captive, enslaved. Barred. Caged.

Nothing should be caged.

Fear, brisk and strong, clenched her stomach and flooded her veins as Hermione saw Draco striding toward her, his hand raised. She winced, her body growing taught to ward of the blow, but nothing could have prepared her for its intensity, its harshness. His hand slammed across her face and his fingernails dragged across the sensitive skin of her back, still inflamed, drawing blood. Hermione let out a cry and sunk to the flow, sobbing.

It was all too much...too much.

Draco spit over Hermione’s body. The spit landed on her cheek and Hermione winced inwardly, although she dared not move to wipe it from herself. Draco’s eyes glared daggers through her body. “Pathetic,” he hissed softly, but clearly, as he nudged Hermione’s crumbled form with a toe. He spit on her once more, and said, “My wife does not harm herself. She can endure pain, but only pain caused by me.” His voice was harsh and cruel, however soft it was. “Do you understand?” His voice was laced with venom.

Hermione nodded weakly and Draco strode from the room, the cold air ruffling his white-blonde hair, sending it cascading over his eye. Hermione curled into a ball, pain coursing through her body as ice invaded the heat of the blood in her veins; she felt as if she was being burned anew as the cold marble pressed against her hot, sweaty skin. Tears fell down her face, one by one.

Her shoulders shook.

*****


Ron gazed dully at his wife. She still lay, immobile, on the crisp white covers of her hospital bed. A steady beep, beep, beep, beep filled the room, signaling that her heart was working normally, but still she slept on. Her face was relaxed and kind, for once not contorted by stress, for once not knotted into a look of fury as she yelled. Ron sighed. Beep, beep, beep went the monitor, cutting roughly through his thoughts. Beep, beep, beep...

Hermione was gone; she had left when Ron was sleeping, without a good-bye, without telling him where she was going. Ron couldn’t help but build up fury in his heart when he thought of her, happy and content, by a grate filled with fire to warm her hands, back at home. At first he had considered going after her, finally admitting to her that he needed her after all and didn’t take her for granted, that he was just worried, but he had realized that he had no idea where she lived.

Why did I have to be so damn stubborn? Ron had been asking himself this question continuously since he had awoken, but still no answer had presented itself. Ron cradled his head in his hands, then pushed himself out of his chair. He needed a walk.

However, as soon as he turned his back on the immobile form of his wife, he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. His heart leaped with joy as he saw her hand stirring, her eyelashes fluttering. An ecstatic grin twisted its way across his face. He rushed over to his wife.

“Honey? Honey, it’s me,” he whispered, tears prickling at the sides of his eyes. “It’s me.” He thought he’d shatter, his smile was so huge, his cheeks so round and aching.

“Ron?” Gwyn’s voice floated weakly through the air, one simple word, only one syllable, but Ron clenched her hand tightly in his own. She was going to be okay. Thank God, she was going to be okay.

Ron still had difficulty believing it.

Gwyn’s mouth was moving again, and Ron leaned in to hear what she said. It was meaningless garble. His eyes narrowed and his mind whirled in confusion as he listened. She was wakening, but he began to doubt that she was all there. His heart ached.

“The dog went down the road, sniffing, sniffing, why oh why? Ring around the rosy, roses are red, violets are blue, round and round the mulberry bush!” A gasp. “Help, help me!” Another gasp, then a scream. Gwyn’s body grew rigid and her eyes flew back in her head. She began to thrash around in her bed, still screaming that scream that seemed like it would shatter him, break him into a thousand tiny, broken pieces. Her limbs flew through the air, a flurry of pink flesh, and Ron’s heart flew up into his throat.

“Step away, sir.” The doctor had rushed into the room, pushing a blubbering Ron out of his way, then busied himself in tying down Gwyn’s flying limps. He stuffed a rag into her mouth. “To keep her from swallowing her tongue,” he said solemnly to Ron. Ron doubled over; he felt as if he might vomit.

His eyes filled with tears and he began to sob as he sunk into a seat. His shoulders shook and tears fell down his cheeks as he began to hiccup. “No...no...” he mumbled, his eyes bloodshot and red. “Can’t be.”

Screams still shattered the stillness of the air. Screams, echoing screams, the doctor’s flurrying hands. A whirl of pink flesh. Tears, salty tears, falling...falling. Then all was still, still, quiet as a grave.

Ron looked up at the doctor hollowly. No longer was the monitor’s beep, beep, beep, there to annoy him, to greet him, to give him hope, to drive him insane. Bbbbbeeeeeeeeppppppppppp. One long tone, shrill as a whistle, cutting through the air. The doctor pulling the rag from her mouth. Her tongue lolling uselessly. Everything blurry, fading, a mix of colors blending into one great void. The doctor turning towards him.

Ron stumbled from the room, his vision blurry with tears. The doctor’s face, pained and regretful, filled his vision. “I’m sorry,” started the doctor, but Ron was already gone, running, running like the wind through the hospital halls, people yelling, then out, out into the cold air of the night, a shock against his heavily rising and falling chest.

Nothing should be caged. Hermione had told him that, once. Ron clenched his fists together tightly. At least Gwyn was no longer caged, locked inside herself. At least she was finally free.

Ron’s hands trembled. He didn’t truly believe himself, although he wished with all his heart that he could. He wished he could be free of the guilt, free of the grief. He wanted to be free of it all before he broke, before he finally collapsed, finally gave up.

As if on cue, Ron sunk to the floor, curling into a ball. He clenched his knees to his body, seeking not only warmth but familiarity and comfort, and began to cry.

Sometimes I get a feeling that I
Could take to the sky and fly way high
But then a shot and I’m down with a cry
Writhing and screaming as I feel myself die




A/N: Hope you like the poem I wrote. I rather do, especially for something that just came to me and took me like ten seconds to write down. Normally poetry doesn't just "come" for me, so I'm pretty happy that this did. Even though it's short. Whatever. Again, please review.


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