Chapter 7 : Fallen Angels
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So many rivers run dry
Sometimes your Heaven is Hell and you don't know why
Aerosmith - Fallen Angels
The scene looked like one from an beautiful medieval cathedral, though elements of the iniquitous ruined the sacred and godly impression of the dome. The ceiling was magnificently embellished with gold and happy painted cherubs, although if you looked closely enough at their chubby faces you could distinguish something devilish to their smiles. The colored glass of the tall windows tinted the sunlight that filtered through different shades of red, ranging from scarlet and pale rose, giving the dusty floor the impression of being moist with shed blood. But worst of all these peculiarities was an air of unholiness in the vast room that would be enough for even the most wicked of men crumple and cry out for forgiveness.
Where the altar would have stood in a normal room, facing the walkway, stood a boy.
No, that wasn’t right: he was a boy no more. Though his face still bore undeniable attributes of the winsome and youthful, his body was shaped as an epitome of man and there was a maturity behind his blue eyes that would never find its way into the gaze of children. The flawless skin of his naked torso was as fair and pure as lily petals in spring; his hair, once so sleek and slimy-looking, was the color of white gold and looked as though it would be softer than the feathers of newborn chicks to touch.
Angels are supposed to manifest everything that is good and innocent, and, for once, Draco Malfoy seemed to do just that. He appeared fragile as porcelain, scared and lonely. Small droplets of sweat glittered on his temples, and his strong jaw was set.
Something was moving behind him, in the darkness. Something rose in the shadows, a few light footsteps sent an echo through the vast room and someone stepped into the light to be bathed in the sanguine sunlight.
Once she had been so unattractive, so unrefined and plain. Now, on the other hand, she was everything the schoolgirl Hermione had not been.
She had an air of confidence and sensuality that seemed to radiate from every part of her; every part, from her voluminous, chestnut curls to the malicious gleam in her raw-colored eyes. She moved with grace, deliberance, elegance as she approached Malfoy from behind.
The blond youth appeared to frightened to move, to frightened to turn, and remained instead completely still. His eyes was the only part of him which moved; they travelled over the room as though trying, and failing, to find a sanctuary within the ancient walls of the church.
Long, slender fingers moved over his body, the long, sharp nails leaving long, raw scratched upon his tender skin.
Malfoy shut his eyes, breathing fast, heart thundering away inside his ribcage.
Arms encircled him from behind as a female body pressed itself against his; long hair tickled his back and lusty lips traced invisible patterns upon his shoulder and towards his neck.
Malfoy’s breaths came in short, broken gasps.
Hermione smiled, her lips parting to reveal long, canine fangs. Then, at the speed of light, she struck.
The limp body of a fallen angel sank to the cold, stone floor.
The shriek cut through the cold air like a guillotine, echoing for several seconds between the tall buildings framing the street she was in.
Hermione was breathing fast, sitting upright and pressing her knees up against her chest as though searching for comfort in the body she occasionally lost control of to the curse. Something warm was trickling down her shoulder, and as Hermione touched the spot of bother she saw that her hand became drenched in deep red liquid.
Had it really just been a dream? Why, then, did it feel so painfully real to her?
She could still feel Malfoy’s body pressed against her own, his beating heart racing under her fingers and his veins pulsating against her lips through his alabaster skin, and each sick memory caused Hermione Granger to feel more disgusted with herself.
The dream had made the situation real to her as nothing else had; she had already lost control of her body, but slowly, surely, her own mind was becoming dangerous place to hide.
Hermione was about to cry out in agony, about to kick the trash-cans that surrounded and rip her useless hospital gown to sheds in anger, when the familiar sound of approaching footfalls reached her ears.
Hermione’s enhanced reflexes worked on top speed, and in less than a moment she was on her feet and ready to flee from the approaching someone about to round the corner. There was only one flaw in her simple plan: there was nowhere to flee.
As she spun around to run she faced nothing but a brick wall blocking the exit she had so desperately anticipated, and with eyes that glittered with unshed tears she stared onto the tall, cold, prison wall and the escape that wasn't found there.
The footsteps stopped, and a someone cast Hermione into shadows. She could see the outline of him overshadowing hers, and she didn't have to turn, didn't have to wait for his voice, to know the exact identity of the man behind her.
Her heart racing madly, her breath seemingly caught in her throat, she turned, slowly, and saw exactly what she had expected.
The youth from her dream was standing as a dark silhouette against the sun. Now, however, he resembled a devil rather than the opposite: he resembled a dark angel, sent from Hell to retrieve Hermione to her rightful place of dwelling now that she was a monster.
Memories from the night before, the beggar, the river; memories that Hermione had been able to hide from behind her dream seemed to flood her thoughts and the truth overwhelmed her once again.
“Stay away from me!”
Her shout shattered the fragile silence between the two former enemies, and Malfoy’s expression of leveled calmness and carelessness momentarily faltered.
Hermione stood frozen to the ground, watching as Malfoy dishonored her one request and took several steps in her direction. ‘Stop it,’ she hissed to herself, disgusted by the way her body reacted to the sight of Malfoy’s approaching contour. The way the sunlight seemed to illuminate all the right spots on his lean, yet muscular frame was maddening. She found herself yearning to be close to him again. ‘Not again; how could it be again? You were never close to him in the first place, and hopefully you never will be!’
She could feel her face flush under the chant of the voices inside of her and Malfoy seemed to sense the war fought inside of her.
“What’s wrong?” he asked her, and his voice was, for the first time in Hermione’s memory, hushed and brimful with worry and concern.
He took another step towards her, and Hermione backed away until her back collided with the rough brick surface of the wall behind her. “Stay away from me.” she repeated, imitating Malfoy and speaking in a low voice hardly above a whisper. It came out more like a growl than anything.
Malfoy cocked an eyebrow, seemingly regaining some of the Slytherin he had been. “Or else?”
“Or else...” Hermione whispered, as she watched Malfoy talking a few more, admittedly more tentative, steps towards her. Hermione realized for the first time how many feelings the angelic face of her arch-enemy could actually portray; she was so used to seeing it contorted in an expression of disgust, superiority or smugness. Now, however, she thought she could see worry, confusion, amusement, apprehension and a teaspoon of fear all lighting up his pale, pointed features. “Or else, I’ll kill you.” she finished.
Malfoy came to a halt, only three feet from where her frail and weakened body stood pressed against the wall. For a moment his face became even more expressive, and then it seemed to go blank, hidden behind a mask of mockery. “You’ll kill me?” he repeated, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “You wouldn’t have the guts.”
“Oh yeah?” Hermione spat, half to keep with tradition and counter him, as she had always done; half to buy time while she assembled a plan of escape. Her eyes wandered to the street beyond where Malfoy was standing, where occasionally muggles would pass carrying heavy shopping bags or screaming toddlers, unaware about the drama happening down the dull side street. Her eyes snapped back onto Malfoy as memories of the night before flooded Hermione’s mind; memories she had moments before been ashamed of, but now suddenly seemed worthy to brag and boast about. “I’ve done it before. Killed, I mean.” Her lips curved in a malevolent smile as she watched Malfoy momentarily loose face.
“What?” He said, now looking definitely disturbed. His eyebrows knitted. “I’m not sure I...”
“Last night,” Hermione said, and her voice once again dropped to a whisper. “There was a man... A beggar, a Muggle. He... he touched me, and I... I pushed him into the river.”
Lifted and threw him into the river, more like. A shudder went through Hermione’s body, shaking her down to her damaged spirit; what the hell had happened to her? Was she actually looking back at the murder she had committed with a part of her feeling proud of what she had done, glad that she had done it?
Malfoy seemed to have regained him composure with some difficulty, yet Hermione could see that he looked troubled through the small details of his apperance that she was astonished even registered in her messy mind. The tightness of his lips that seemed to drain them of blood. The restlessness of his fingers as they seemed to play an invisible piano over the pockets of his jeans. The way the gray of his eyes once again seemed to have given away to the blue behind it, making the orbs appear a silvery periwinkle.
“You have to come back to the hospital.” Malfoy said finally, looking directly into Hermione’s eyes as though daring her to contradict him. He made no attempts on hiding that his hand went for his wand, pulling the hawthorne stick up an inch or so to let it gleam in the sun.
“So you can put me in a cage and keep me there? I don’t think so.” Hermione said, giving a small, humorless laugh. Malfoy was now so close that she could hear him breathing, and she despised herself for letting her eyes search his neck for the spot where she had, in her dreams, let her teeth rip apart his flawless skin and sink down into his pulsating veins.
“Granger,” Malfoy said, and he let go of his wand, swept down and grabbed Hermione’s hand by the wrist, pulling her closer. “Listen to me. You’re bleeding, and-”
“Don’t-” Hermione said, wretching her hand out of his grasp, overcome with anger at the nerve of him and the bubbling hatred his touch had reinvoked in her. Eight years of intense loathing rushed through her body, awakening the animal inside. “-ever touch me.”
Malfoy actually shrank, but his eyes remained glued to hers as they widened in fear. “Your irises-” he started, but Hermione wasn’t interested in her own gaze or anything else that he could have to say. The spot where his skin had grazed hers was inflamed by his touch as though he had burned her skin with a red hot poker. The world seemed to be spinning, and all that was there was him and her. Looking at him made her body seem awake in a way it had never been before, and it was despicable.
“I hate you!” Hermione spat at him, and with those words still ringing between the houses that reached for the clouds she started running, intent not to let Malfoy ever catch up or sniff out the trail of her.
“Wait!” she heard Malfoy yell behind her, “Hermione, don’t-”
But it was too late.
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