Chapter 17 : Epilogue
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Desire and Demise
The cell was dark and damp. It smelled of rotten flesh and waste. The stench was so overwhelming, he could taste it. It had a disgusting, sour flavor which coated his tongue. Every intake of breath brought another bit of bile sliding up his throat. Sometimes, when the putrid odor of the prison became unbearable, he would lean over and heave, hoping to rid himself of not only the taste, but also the memories.
Those were the hardest part of life at Azkaban. He could handle the rats. He could handle the rotten food. He could handle the lack of cleanliness. He could handle the loneliness. But the memories killed him. They were driving away any trace of sanity left in him.
It was the dementors that were to blame. Something about those terrible creatures provoked his suppressed memories into bursting to life, like angry blisters being popped, the pus squirting every which way without any control. Yes, the dementors were ruthless.
One of the fiends floated past his cell, its hood pulled loosely over its soul – if it could be called a soul. That terrible rattling sound its breathing made brought goose bumps to his skin and he began to rock back and forth, hugging his knees to his chest, willing the dementor to pass. It soon did, but the feeling of being sucked deeper and deeper into a black pit remained.
A loud, hopeless shriek suddenly leaked through the bars of his cell. It rattled around in his head and he brought his dirt-stained hands to his head. Shaking, shaking, shaking… he couldn’t get the sound out. It was still in there. It was making him sick.
This was a daily occurrence at Azkaban Prison. The screams of those in agony, the wails of the insane. Yet every day, without fail, he contracted the most painful migraines he had ever experienced. They made his entire body shake. They made him want to rip his hair out.
Pain. Stench. Memories.
He had to fight the memories. They wouldn’t consume him. They couldn’t.
A plate of something black and watery was sitting on the floor in front of him. Flies swarmed the mush, buzzing and buzzing and buzzing. Why wouldn’t they stop? He could shoo them away, but they’d be back. They were almost as bad as the dementors. Almost.
Buzz. Buzz. Buzzzz.
The mush tasted like iron. Like blood. He had once pondered the probability that this so-called food was actually the organs pulled from the prisoners who had died. It made sense. Lots of sense. Dying in Azkaban wasn’t like dying any other place. Dying in Azkaban meant your soul had been corrupted. It meant your mind had gone to a dark place and chosen death, a pleasant alternative. When this occurred, your body would turn black as night. No, blacker. So this black pile of mush before him was just as likely to be a diseased organ as it was to be rotten oatmeal. Either way, it was eat or die.
But death was inevitable. Eating only prolonged death. Maybe he shouldn’t eat.
He pushed the cracked bowl away from him and it toppled over. The black mush spilled out onto the cement. It ran in currents towards him, dirtying his prison robes. He smiled maniacally at the sight. A river of bloody organ.
Just then, his heart gave a throb. Another memory tugged at the poor muscle, straining it further. It beat in a rapid cadence, faster and faster until his head felt significantly lighter. Maybe he would lie down for a bit and sleep. Sleep, the only release in this desolate place. Sleep.
He lay down against his spilt meal. It squished against the weight of his body, soaking into the fabric of his robes. He felt the coldness against his skin and squirmed, trying to find a more comfortable position. But it was too late. The cold had already leaked into his bones. It slid through his body like sludge.
No matter. He was already half-way to unconsciousness, and now he wasn’t even sure if he felt cold. It might have just been a dream. A wonderful, terrible dream.
His eyelids squeezed shut. But they were no protection against the memories. They haunted him even in dreams. In nightmares. Nightmares of her. Nightmares of her eyes. Nightmares of her lips. Nightmares of her touch.
It had been five months since he had been in her presence, but not a day went by in which he did not see her face. That warm face was the only thing keeping him alive.
It was his hope, and his love for her, that sustained him.
One day he’d get out of this godforsaken place. One day he’d be a new man. One day… one day he’d be hers.
“Hermione,” he moaned piteously.
The world went black, and Draco Malfoy was lost to his nightmares.
Author’s Note: HE’S ALIVE! How on earth could I have a sequel if Draco was dead? Silly readers. You should’ve learned not to trust everything you see.
Anyway, it’s done! I can’t believe it. Two years, and I can finally run around the house screaming “I finished! I finished!” Thank you so much to my dedicated reviewers. There is really too many of you to list here, and I would feel terrible if I forgot anyone. Just know I really appreciated every single review I got. It’s because of you guys that I didn’t give up when writer’s block was suffocating me.
Please let me know what you thought of this story as a whole. Like I said, I love reviews. (; And keep an eye out for the sequel. I’ll update this story and put something in the summary when I start submitting the sequel.