Chapter 1 : Etches of blood and hate
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The room, dark and cold, embraced in shadow, was plain and grey in places, ugly and old. Its grotesque tiled floors were cracked and broken, dangerous in places if one were to fall.
“Two,” snarled Harry, his eyes livid, the stern set of his jaw furious.
“Shut up, Potter,” Draco drawled, dealing Potter a casual kick in the head. “The question was rhetorical. I thought I told you not to interrupt.”
Harry glowered, but the helplessness of his situation told him it was wise to remain silent. A drizzle of dismal rain descended from the grey-black sky. Outside, it was emotionless, boring, dull. A wave of hatred hit Harry as he saw the same colouring echoed in Malfoy’s eyes. There would be no mercy here, he was certain of it.
“Hatred never looked this good.” The words voiced from Malfoy’s mouth. He looked proud of himself, of the scene he had set up before him.
How long had they been here now? Harry had no recollection of time. The back of his head was encrusted with blood, his hair clod with a mass of it from the injury someone had dealt him. He reflected the hard smack of steel as it smashed into his skull, driving tunnels of blackness in front of his eyes until unconsciousness claimed him. It was unlikely Malfoy would have been the one to ambush him. No, he wouldn’t sink to that level – he simply concocted the plans, snapped his fingers together and sent his henchmen running. Yes, it would have been Crabbe or Goyle who had done the deeds. An aristocratic fop such as Malfoy wouldn’t want to get his hands dirty. Now however, Malfoy seemed perfectly content to thrive off their misery.
“Have you noticed the seating plan?” Draco grinned lavishly, regarding them all over steepled fingers. “You get the chair, Potter – because you always assumed you’re better than everyone else, got some kind of unique status over other people just because you’re famous.” He sniggered. “Weasley’s got to the floor, because he’s a dirty blood-traitor who deserves nothing less than to be treated like the scum he is.” He paused melodramatically, his eyes slipping from a badly-beaten Ron to a helpless Hermione.
“Now Granger here’s different. She’s special. She doesn’t deserve to sit down on the floor or a chair, because really she doesn’t deserve this life, the waste of air she’s breathing in now.” His face was scornful. “She’s a Mudblood. Mudbloods, in a sense, are worse than Muggles, because vermin like her are just Muggles pretending to be witches, playing with magic as if they’ve even got a right to.” He leered at her, stepping closer so he could see her stark-white face and how it was etched with salty tears. “That’s why I made her stand up, see.” He traced his fingers along the cold-deadness of the iron chains, cutting into Hermione’s wrists and ankles, eating away at her flesh with their icy metallic bite. It was obvious Draco had cursed them to sting and cause as much pain as possible. “How can she have a right to do that though, if she doesn’t even have a right to exist?”
He seemed to ponder over this with amusement for a brief pause.
“Don’t touch her, Malfoy!” Harry yelled wrathfully.
“Touch her?” Draco rose an eyebrow, peering at Harry whilst idly flicking his wand with a burning curse, so that Potter screamed and writhed under the searing hex. “Why would I want to do that? I don’t want to foul my Pureblooded fingers with the filth of her being.” He laughed, shaking his head. “I don’t even want to breathe the same air.”
“Then let her go,” growled Harry through clenched teeth, the charm fading away, lifting from his skin with relief.
“Ah, but you see I can’t do that, Potter,” Malfoy smiled pleasantly, his voice a sweet as honey. “You see, you three are here for a reason. You’re here so that I can get my revenge.”
“Revenge for what?” Ron spoke at last, his expression, behind a veil of bruises, incredulous. “There’s nothing to get vengeance for.”
Draco only smiled knowingly. “You think so, do you?” He moved to the table and sat down comfortably on it, his knees crossed and the wand held carelessly in his relaxed hands. Alongside his thigh, lined up in a row on the flat of the little scrubbed surface, were Harry’s, Ron’s and Hermione’s.
“Yes, I do,” Ron snarled, animalistic. “And when we get out of here, I’m going to hurt you so bad . . .”
“You’re going nowhere,” Draco informed him smoothly. “You’re going to die in this room.”
They all exchanged glances uncertainly. Hermione released a sob; her bushy hair was matted with blood across her face; bruises blemished her skin and the vice-like chains drove cuts through her flesh. Her lip was smashed open; one finger lay motionless and broken. They had come looking for her this afternoon, and now it was dark, the atmosphere steely and relentless in its unforgiving. The room clenched their bodies with cold. Harry’s eyes wandered over Hermione and he felt sickened. Her shirt was ripped open, her skirt a series of tattered shreds. Her legs bore bruises more colourful than Harry had ever seen: mustered yellow, faded brown, deep vibrant purple, jaded blue . . . What horrified him the most was what he was sure they had done to her. Stripped her of her purity, forced her to pleasure their filthy desires. It would have been Crabbe and Goyle, under Malfoy’s influence and instruction for, as he stated, he would not ‘touch her.’
“Malfoy, this is madness,” uttered Harry. “Just tell us what we’re supposed to have done wrong.”
Draco smirked lazily. “Why would I want to do that?”
Harry swallowed awkwardly. “To let us have an insight, to see why you think this is some kind of justice.”
Malfoy laughed maniacally. “You think you deserve to hear the reasons, do you Potter?” He sighed. “Very well, although I’m a little surprised that you’re so thick, that you haven’t worked it out by now.”
“Nobody knows what goes on in that psychotic mind of yours, Malfoy,” Harry retorted viciously.
“Crucio,” Draco murmured under his breath, and to one side came a flash of scarlet light, hitting Hermione with the effect of echoing screams.
“Insult me again, Potter,” the Slytherin snapped, “and it’ll happen again.”
He lifted the curse and Hermione gasped and inhaled sharply. Her whole body trembled, her face blanched white. She seemed to long for anything but to be here now, perhaps even death.
Draco chuckled coldly.
“They rode her bloody.”
Ron choked, furious. “You’re sick, Malfoy!” He screamed with the full heat of his rage. He pulled against his ropes violently, spitting and swearing. Draco watched him with one eyebrow raised, the traditional Malfoy smirk written across his face. His soft grey eyes glistened now like pieces of jagged glass behind a veil of silver-blonde hair, his poison lips curved into a wry, half smile. His posture spoke of his arrogance and assurance. Draco Malfoy had nothing to fear now. So many secrets now unlocked, so many dreams that would never make the grade.
“Funny that, Weasley, because what I’d call sick is what you all did to me. Hogwarts. Recall the name?”
Harry glowered. “What about it?”
Draco sneered; his taunting grin vanished now, his face totally serious, anything but placid. “At Hogwarts, on our first day, the word ‘enemy’ was defined.” He paused and pushed back the hair from his eyes, fixing Potter with a penetrating stare. “We’ve never been anything but enemies. Can you possibly imagine us being friends?”
“You’re doing this because we’re enemies?” Harry half-laughed, half-squirmed under the enmity of those eyes.
“I’m doing this because I hate you. You put my father in prison – all three of you. If you hadn’t interfered at the Ministry then he wouldn’t be locked behind bars and Dementors in Azkaban.” He drew a breath, then plunged into the next reason. “When I became a Death Eater and joined the Dark Lord, it was you three who stood in his way. Always had to be the centre of attention, didn’t you? Always had to play the hero? The Dream Team.” He sniggered. “Well, you’re not so desperate for the attention now, are you? You have all it! Right now you have mine, tomorrow, you’ll be on the front page of the Daily Prophet. Famous even to the death. So really, you should appreciate what I’m going to do. I mean, if they ever find your bodies, the Wizarding world really will have something to talk about.”
“You’re not going to kill us,” Harry smiled sourly. “I saw you with Dumbledore. You don’t have it in you.”
“No?” Draco leapt over, and crossed the floor to stand beside Hermione. Without moving his eyes from Harry’s, he fixed a crushing hand around Granger’s neck, squeezing tightly. Her eyes went wide, she began to choke. “Do you want to re-think that declarative, Potter?”
“Malfoy, this is stupid!” Harry cried desperately, trying to throttle some sense into the youth with no weapon but words. “What would your parents say?”
“Don’t talk to me about my parents Potter,” he spat venomously, releasing Hermione and marching across the room to wrench back Harry’s hair and stare coolly into his eyes. “You have no idea what they’re like.” He smiled icily. “Father would be cheering me on.”
“Yeah,” snorted Harry, unable to resist the temptation. “If he still had the power to move his mouth. I mean, the Dementors have probably sucked his happiness from him now, all those lovely thoughts about murdering and blood and money . . . I bet he doesn’t even have the power to think by now.”
Draco screamed furiously at him, his fists coming down like a hail of rain on Harry’s face. Harry felt his nose crack, the sudden exploding pain and gushing of hot wet blood as the knuckles collided with it. One fist hit his eye, which he managed to screw up just in time, and another connected with his jaw, knocking loose a tooth. He tasted blood in his mouth and coughed as Draco strode away, satisfied, back to his place on the table, breathing hard.
“Want to add anything else to that, Scarhead?” Draco panted, still managing to sneer though his efforts.
“What’s the matter, Malfoy?” Ron rebuked him sourly. “Have to tie us up to manage us, hmm? Can’t fight like a man? Can’t be fair?”
“Malfoy and fair doesn’t go together, Weasley, you should know that by now.” He smiled uneasily. “But if you’re volunteering for a one to one duel, no ropes, then it would be my pleasure.” He cleared his throat and then barked loudly, “Crabbe! Goyle! Get in here! You’re needed.”
The two over-large bludger-headed cronies stepped into the room before Draco had finished his last words. They flashed a couple of toothy grins as they hastened forwards, small piggy eyes sunken into their fat heads. Muscle bulged beneath a layer of blubber; they seemed to have grown twice the size in the past two years.
“I want you to untie the weasel,” Draco commanded, to which they grunted and bent to wrench away the ropes, not clever enough to realise they could simply use their wands. Harry wondered vaguely why the pair of buffoons bothered to even listen to Malfoy, but then noted the way they moved, the way their eyes seemed blank of emotion.
“You used the Imperius Curse on your own friends?” He said disgustedly.
“Friends? They’re not friends. They’re merely a connivance.”
Malfoy was on his feet now, straightening his robes and flicking invisible specks of dust from his sleeves. He pulled out his wand and gripped it sternly; his eyes now ice as they ran over Weasley, summing up his injuries.
“Come on then,” Ron snarled, his fists up and ready. “Give me my wand.”
“Oh, I never said anything about wands.” Draco’s smile was like the edge of a knife, glinting with its own malice. His pallid face was etched with evil, his flinty eyes arctic.
Draco’s smile never faltered. It was in his voice, clear and frosty above the chill of the grey room. “Avada Kedavra.”
Harry watched in horror as a jet of brilliant green light slammed into Ron, sending him flying back. Even as his eyes widened and stilled, seeing nothing, the force of the spell caused his back to snap hideously against the great stone wall and he slid to the floor, a tangled mess.
“Whoops, sorry,” Draco grinned brightly.
There was no regret in his words, only cheerful apology, like a Muggle weatherman informing the public there would be torrential rain the next day. Draco stood, eyes fixed firmly on the body of Ron Weasley, and a sigh raked throughout him.
“Such a shame.”
“You bastard!” Harry yelled, wrenching against the ropes that held him on the chair, face reddening with rage.
“How could you?” Hermione sobbed, her scream shrieking and hoarse from terror. The grief hit her immediately. Her brown eyes pooled with tears, the grim determination she had used to stay strong shattered away with the power of loss.
Draco shrugged and turned to her. “He wanted a duel. I won. That’s the end of it. We won’t talk about this anymore.” He paused. “Don’t think you’re safe, because it’s not over.”
“I’m going to get you for this,” Harry spat, venom in his lexis. He wanted so badly to have his wand, or even his fists, to send them pounding down on Malfoy, to wipe away that irritating, false smile, to watch the last breath of his nemesis fade away to the staleness of the air.
Draco shrugged again. “You can try. But personally, I don’t think you’re going anyway except from hell, if you believe in things like that, which, doubtless you do, as you’re almost Muggle yourself. Now,” he pressed his hands together, flicking eyes once more to Crabbe and Goyle. “We would hate to leave Granger hanging around, wouldn’t we boys? It’s impolite to keep a lady waiting. So.” He flicked his wand, and Hermione toppled to the floor, her knees smacking against the tiles of the floor. “Let’s get down to business. The dirty whore is missing the attention.”
Crabbe and Goyle snickered and edged towards Hermione, their faces greedy.
“Don’t you dare!” Harry roared, but already they were on Hermione, and he could only turn away as she struggled and tried to hit out against them. Malfoy made himself comfortable, watching.
Suddenly an anger so overwhelming coursed though Harry, shaking him down to his soul. He remembered this anger, the wrath he had felt when Aunt Marge had sat musing over her food as she announced a cascade of insults about his parents. The heat was hot and dangerous, and it caused him to burn red in the face. The ropes began to sizzle, to melt against the fury, and in his entertainment, Malfoy didn’t notice.
Harry tore himself away from the chair and made a dive at Crabbe. The fat lummox turned round to gaze at him with faint surprise before the power of Harry’s anger sent him stumbling backwards. He cracked his head against the hard floor and groaned, then lay still as blood began to ooze from beneath his skull.
Goyle yelled out in loathing and aimed a punch at Harry’s face, who dodged to one side, sending Goyle sprawling forwards. He tripped over Hermione’s body and crashed to the floor next to his friend. Harry kicked him hard in the head, then bent to help Hermione up.
“Stay exactly where you are,” Malfoy growled, his voice as sharp as a knife. “If you move, I’ll kill the Mudblood.”
Harry scowled and pushed Hermione behind him. He could still hear her breathing, loud and panting, and that reassuring sound told him she was alive, was safe, for now. He glared at Malfoy, wishing that anger he had felt moments ago would return to him as strongly as the heat of the magic, but as usual, when Harry summoned it the most, it did not come. Draco’s wand was pointed straight at him, his hand steady and firm. He was drenched in hate, the bitterness of it causing callousness. Only determination steeled him now, held him up like a backbone. He sneered openly.
“Do you really think you can get away from me, Potter? Do you think you can escape?” His voice turned into a snarl. Malevolence emitted sparks of hatred in his eyes. “You may have defeated the Dark Lord, but I’ll make sure you don’t live a moment more to boast about it.”
Hermione clutched his hand tightly, her fear and will to live matching his own. Harry squeezed it, trying to reassure her. He’d get them out of this. Somehow. After everything they’d been through, he wasn’t about to end up dying in the hands of Draco Malfoy.
“Do you ever hate yourself, Malfoy?”
“What?” The boy snapped, his eyes flinty, face fierce.
Harry smiled. He remembered his earlier theory – if you have no weapon, use words. “Well, I mean, you’re a complete failure, aren’t you? Look at you . . .standing here, a murderer. Do you really think your parents would be proud? I mean, really? You betrayed your friends, ambushed us, tied us up and then attempted to kill us off one by one. That’s the mark of a coward.”
“Shut your mouth. It’s the mark of cunning. You have no idea what you’re talking about,” he retorted angrily.
Keep him talking. He felt Hermione sliding away from him, slipping into the cloak of shadows at the edge of the room. “Oh, you think so, do you? Or do you just want me to shut up because you know what I’m saying is true? You’re nothing. You shouldn’t even be alive. You’re the last of the Death Eaters. Pathetic. The others went down with their Lord, but you . . . the Ministry spared you, didn’t they? Because they thought you were weak, had been easily swayed, and you just went along with it . . .”
“I went along with it because it was logic. I twisted it. What would be the point in denying it? I had to have my revenge on you.”
“Because you hate us, or because you’re scared? You hate the fact that I’m the only one whose seen how cowardly you are, that you do have a weak spot . . . you couldn’t kill Albus Dumbledore, and you know I witnessed that. You want to prove you malevolence by killing us instead.”
“I don’t have to prove anything to you, Potter.”
“Then lower your wand.”
“What?” Draco’s smoky eyes narrowed. “You’re being ridiculous.”
Harry steeled himself to keep his attention focussed on Malfoy, not to slip away to see how Hermione was progressing. “No, I’m being sensible. This is not the right thing to do.”
“You’re morals have to effect on me, Potter.”
Draco’s face twisted into a snarl. He was confused. He didn’t understand what his enemy was going on about. He shook his head furiously, at the same time shaking away the cobwebs that had been inflicted on his mind, distracting him, neglecting the task that must be done.
“Whatever Potter. Go on about nothing if that’s what you want. I’ve had enough of this rubbish.” He drew back his wand, a smile lighting his lips once again, one that was hungry for death even if a little uncertain. “You can join your dear dead parents at last.” He snickered. “Avada –”
He never finished. His words were cut off short as Hermione slammed down her arm, the chipped piece of sharp, jagged tile she clutched in her hands denting into Malfoy’s head. His expression changed as the piercing agony reached hands towards him. The tile stuck out from his head, having sunk its deep blade-like point deep through the bone with the force of Hermione’s hate. His eyes clouded and then stared, empty and unblinking as they reflected Harry, then the blood began to trickle down his down his brow, over his neck, seeping through his robes. The purity of his blonde hair was strained and drenched in the scarlet condemning of it. His mouth moved slightly and then he fell forward, his body striking the floor with a crash. More of the broken tiles speared through him, and his body shuddered slightly, then grew still.
Hermione lifted her eyes from the body to stare deeply into Harry’s. The two held between them the knowledge and horror of their experience. The corpses splayed around them, blood seemed to be tracing its way across the floor to reach their feet – dark, thick puddles of it, blending together.
In the end, it didn’t matter what your descendants were. Blood was blood; people were people . . . there was nothing to define one from the other in the deep silent slumber of death.
There’s no destiny when everyone’s your enemy. The death of Draco Malfoy was not a saddened one. He chose his own path in life, following it right through until the end. He didn’t go down by himself; he went down with his friends, etched in blood and hate.
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