Chapter 19 : Apollyon Pringle
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Chapter Graphic: Seamusfan1
Beta Read By: Jessi_Rose and Bellas blanky
Title: Scarred for Life
Rating/Warnings: 15+ (mild violence)
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I heaved a sigh. Biting my tongue, I dipped my rag into the bucket of cleaning solution. I closed my eyes, opening the door to the toilets slowly. Running forward, I started to wash the mirror. One quick peek to find one dirty spot. I aimed my rag at the spot and scrubbed again. I took a deep breath, opened my eyes just enough, and was satisfied. I straightened up, opened my eyes completely, and cowered away.
It was an ugly sight. It was the reason I was here. It was why I had placed myself into the occupation of shame. Once a great wizard, I had prided myself in my looks and magical abilities. That was until…it happened.
An angry duel, a curse gone wrong. But since when did a curse ever go right? It was the time when there were few Aurors, because there were few Dark wizards. It was a happier time, a safer time. After the defeat of Grindelwald, and before the rise of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Before the War. Before the madness.
It was a dark wizard adoringly named Putus-Malum by his followers. He was the wizard that all wizards feared. Putus-Malum; the name, in Latin, meaning 'pure evil' and that's what we knew him as. Pure evil. Before He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, he was the top of the Dark Pyramid. He and his followers would have become more powerful, had it not been for me and my crew.
I was the head of the team. There were two crews in the Auror office, one chasing after Putus-Malum, and one going after all other dark wizards. I had been an Auror for several years, ever since I had left Hogwarts. When Putus-Malum rose up, I was next in line. I had two superiors above me, both killed by Putus-Malum. I had taken the post, sad for my fallen comrades, but ready to win the fight.
About the time that we were hot on Putus-Malum's tail, I had begun to reach out to women. I was lonely. The Daily Prophet, a new newspaper that was attempting to flourish, had offered an owl dating-service. It was supposed to be like having a pen pal; completely safe. I sent my name into the newspaper and was immediately owled a list of women and their bios. I looked them over, and after a few hours, decided to owl a woman named Anabelle. I still remember the first letter I wrote to her; simple, and laced with desperate desire to have a woman to love.
My name is Apollyon Pringle, and I understand you are interested in the owl dating service. Would you like to correspond with me for awhile? I am an Auror for the Ministry of Magic, and I would very much like to hear about you.
Once she got the note, we immediately became friends. When her beautiful tawny owl came to my window at work, I stopped what I was doing so that I could read her note, and from her notes, I could tell she was doing the same. Her parchment always smelled of lavender, and I imagined that as her perfume. It was a great experience, writing letters with her, because I felt like I was seeing straight to her soul.
After several months of correspondence, I knew that I was in love. Everything about what she wrote and said was beautiful. I knew I had to meet her in person, and ask her to marry me. I know that sounds quick, but I had never felt the same way about anyone, and I didn't want my chance to slip away. So, I set up a time, and a place. Dinner, at a quiet little café in Diagon Alley. We would meet on the steps of Gringotts the Wizarding bank and I would take her out. We arranged a date and time. I was on cloud nine; I started planning the wedding. The flowers would be lavender, because her parchment smelled of it, I assumed she smelled of it, and stalks of it were sent occasionally with a more sensitive letter. As I wrote the arrangements of our date on my calendar, one of the other Aurors came running.
"We've found him! We've found him!” He shouted. “He's at the site where they're building the stadium for the World Cup! The workers are watching him, but pretending not to see him, so that he doesn't get away!" My coat was on, my floo powder in hand.
"Let's go!" I yelled, thrusting powder into the giant fireplace big enough for all ten of us at once. Immediately, all other nine of the Aurors were by my side. Some had followed the shouting, some had been in the office with me.
"Quidditch World Cup!" we all yelled at once. As we spun past fireplaces, I thought about what he might be doing. Hundreds of wizards were expected to turn up at the World Cup. Perhaps he was tinkering with the structure of the stadium so it would collapse and kill all of the people at once? Whipping out my wand, I strode out of the fireplace. Immediately, streams of light flew from nowhere.
Nine streams of light flew around me, striking each and every one of my comrades. All were drawn into a duel, follower against Auror. I heard the distant 'pop's of apparating people. I was glad that I didn’t have to tell the workers to get out of the way.
"It's just me and you now." I jumped as I heard a low raspy voice behind me. Instantly, I knew that it was Putus-Malum. "Don't worry," he continued. "I won't kill you right away. After all, I want you to see your dear little friends die before you do. If it makes you feel better, we can duel before you die." He went silent. I knew that he was using nonverbal spells, luckily something I was good at.
Streaks of light flashed between us for what seemed like hours. That day, I used every counter-curse that I had ever learned. I even used some that I had made up. Smoke draped the air so quickly that one could only see when a curse was fired. Like an explosion, Putus-Malum and I were in the middle of it all. Light and screams flashed around us.
I heard a few bodies hit the ground, but I didn't want to know if they were good or evil, dead or alive. At that point in time, all that mattered was defeating the darkest wizard of the time. That was when it happened. My best friend, Andrew, hit the ground. I saw it from the corner of my eye. Immediately, my shield charm diminished. I turned to see if he was alive or not. I had known him since the first day at Hogwarts, we had met on the train. Since then, we had done everything together, been inseparable. Was it possible that I would now have to do something alone?
A curse was fired. It hit me in the temple, and I felt my skin start to melt. The now liquid skin streamed down my cheek, burning and melting all in its path. It was more pain than anyone could imagine. All I could think of was finishing what I started before I fainted or died. "Avada Kedavra!" I yelled, and after watching his limp body collide with the ground, I stopped hanging on. I let go.
Death was a beautiful place. Anabelle stood in a field of fresh lavender, it's sweet smell blanketed me in calmness and comfort. She had on a lavender colored dress, and a crown of lavender lay on her head. Just as I imagined, she was beautiful. I looked down into the pocket of my robes where I saw parchment letters and lavender. All of the letters from Anabelle, all of the months of post lay in my pocket. I cold read the last words of the latest letter. In beautiful script of hers,
I can't wait to meet you. I think I love you.
My face was throbbing, but there was no more hot skin. I reached up, weakly. There were a few lines down the side of my face. And then, because I fell, there were lines across my face as well, four thick, ugly lines. It was as if someone had taken four fingers and dragged them across my face. I could barely see the lavender in my pocket, from Anabelle's last letter, through the white haze that was the aftermath of a giant duel.
"Apollyon, Apollyon! Are you alright?" It was Andrew. So he was safe. "I'm going to take you to St. Mungo's. All of the followers have been captured, and Putus-Malum is dead. No need to worry.”
Andrew took me to the hospital, where I was cared for quickly. After the doctors did all that they could for my scarred tissue, Andrew gestured at my face.
"What happened?" He asked.
"You fell, and I had to see if you were alright. He cursed me. I was in so much pain that I wasn't thinking straight. I just wanted to kill him. And I guess I did." That's when the door flew open. It hit the wall with such force that there is a dent there still today. It was the Minister for Magic.
"You're fired. You were not supposed to kill him." He yelled with such anger in his voice, I started to speak but he cut me off. "I don't care if it was on purpose or not! That's it, you're done! Pack up! You're through!"
I packed up my things. The Daily Prophet that day said that Putus-Malum was gone, he had been killed, but accidentally. My name was not listed as the killer, or in the list of Aurors that had been involved. The Ministry just wanted me to disappear.
The day after I was out of the Ministry forever, I went to Diagon Alley, ring in pocket, bouquet in hand, hoping that she would see past the fact that I had no job, and no face. I had gone to every florist, Muggle and wizard alike, to find the best and purest lavender for her bouquet. Somehow I knew that lavender was our flower. All of the letters, all of the real lavender. I spent so much time that morning fussing about the bouquet. I suppose I wanted the flowers to draw her attention away from my face, but how wrong I was. I walked towards Gringotts Bank. That was when I saw her. She was wearing black dress robes with lavender colored trim, just as she had written she would. She was absolutely beautiful. I took a deep breath, stepping in front of her.
"Excuse me, Anabelle?" Shock quickly covered her face.
“Can I help you?” She asked in a disapproving tone before a look of comprehension came over her. "You're Apollyon?"
She nodded. "Your face. It's so, ugly and scarred."
"That happened in the fight with Putus-Malum the other day."
She winced. "You weren't there. I checked the list that was in the paper. Your name wasn't among the brave fighters."
I looked down, sadly. "That's because I am the one that killed him. I am the one who fired the last curse he ever saw. It's unforgivable, but I lost my mind in pain."
"Well, then I am through with you." She tugged a few lavender flowers from her beautiful curly hair. "My father was a brave Auror who died in the line of battle. He never killed anyone, not one. He should have been an example to you, but you ignored it. I can't date someone who ignores my father's nobility."
As I tried in vain to explain, she talked over me. "And besides, I can't be with someone who is ugly. I do have a reputation to keep up." She took one last piece of lavender from her hair, one last look at my face, sniffed, and walked away. Her last words to me were; "I've always loved lavender, and after you commented on it, I thought you were the one. But I guess I was wrong."
As cliché as it sounds, I dropped the bouquet, and all of the lavender flowers fell to the ground, breaking apart and flying all over. I sat down in the midst of them, right there on the steps of Gringotts Bank, staring at the ring in my hands. I hadn't even gotten the chance to ask her. I learned that day that letters, no matter how many, never show the true soul of a person. The world continued around me as I sat there, for hours. When I was done, I stood and Apparated to the village of Hogsmeade.
I walked to the gates of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. My mind was made up. I had to hide. Hide my scarred face, and reputation. That day, I told the Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore that I had been fired and the woman I thought I loved had dumped me for my nasty physical appearance. I told him that I needed to hide in the smallest possible job in the wizarding world. Students, professors, and the occasional parent would see the scarring, but they would get over it. Then children might even learn from my mistakes. Learn not to kill. Learn never to love. Perhaps the children would learn from me as I took care of their castle in shame.
And still today, I clean the school, too afraid of what people might say if I reappeared into society. It has never leaked what I have done, or whether I quit or was fired. I have heard some speculation that I was killed valiantly by Putus-Malum, but I have also heard that I went into hiding, too scared to face him for real. As for me, I would take the former. No one really knows. The students have never heard of me, and Albus Dumbledore is the only man besides myself who knows the whole story.
Today is the hardest day of my job. I clean all of the castle's mirrors once a week, always on Monday, during lessons or mealtimes. I can't bear to let the students watch me cower away from my own reflection. I clean the mirrors with my eyes closed, or looking the other way.
I feel like a coward, but every time I see my own ugly reflection, every time I see the scars, I am reminded. Reminded how I broke the Auror's code. Reminded how, in pain, I was irrational and killed a man. No matter how evil he was, I shouldn't have killed him. I am also reminded of how a woman could never love me. No one could ever love someone as ugly as I am. No woman could ever see past the scars. And so I clean the Hogwarts castle, in shame. In shame, for killing a man, and in shame for going unloved. I wait in hiding, because in more than one way, I have been scarred for life.
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