Chapter 2 : The Loner
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Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of J.K. Rowling’s work or the Silent Hill universe.
Chapter Two The Loner
Draco didn’t want to go back to that damp, draughty lakeside cottage with the rotted wooden porch that he was renting. The Ministry’s owl could wait, and he couldn’t stand another reminder of his complete solitude. At least Mother and Father had a chateau in France.
He drove his non-descript ‘95 Honda through the cramped town of Brahms and parked in front of the pub. There, he sat on the back bumper and smoked a fag. The gutter was slick with rain, the narrow sidewalks crowded with a few tourists and passing groups of teenagers. This was the Muggle side of Brahms, and Draco knew that just beneath the sedate exterior rested an even more sedate wizarding community.
He’d popped into the only store, an inn with a adjoining room selling general magical items, his first day in town. Tired and still drained from his experiences in New York, Draco hadn’t found much of a welcome amongst the toothless old wizards that called the place home. They didn’t seem to like outsiders, or perhaps they had heard that he was a former Death-Eater. All of the Dark Lord’s acquitted supporters were required to register with Magical Law Enforcement, and Draco had had to transfer his information over in New York City, much to his distress.
Either way, he hadn’t much cause to mingle and make friends. And he hadn’t the stomach to answer any more questions. Draco would rather live the life of a loner than be ostracized. Being a recluse, at least, lent a bit of mystery to oneself, as he had learned the moment he entered the Muggle half of Brahms.
It reminded him of the many hamlets in England, without, perhaps, any drop of charm. There was a main street, of course, lined with storefronts that dated back to the 30s and 40s. The police station and town hall framed an unremarkable village square. The brazen local youth tended to congregate there on the stone benches and drink cheap vodka in the middle of the night.
In the quieter nooks of the town, Draco got a whiff hopeful tourism. Toluca Lake, a few miles from Brahms, boasted at least one thriving resort.
Surprisingly, Draco found the Muggles to be more inviting than his own kind. The old lady at the grocery store had invited him to a church picnic, and the kids lounging around the green had asked him to “hang” with them.
Even though he refused any offer to socialize, Draco knew that the Muggles were clueless when it came to his past, and, like a coward, he hid himself among them, as if hoping to erase the permanent stain branded on his soul. They wouldn’t ask why he couldn’t Apparate within five miles of the town or why he was required to check-in with the authorities if he needed to leave the state.
Now Draco was glad that he had learned to drive in England and had taken the Ministry’s proffered “Adjustment to Muggle Habits” class, as mortifying as both experiences had been.
By default, the Ministry was forcing him to live as a Muggle-and a more sinister punishment he could not have imagined.
Draco flicked the fag into the gutter and turned towards the pub. A radio belched an unpleasantly shrill song out into the street, and he pushed the glass door inwards with his shoulder.
Low-backed stools sat empty along the counter. He threw himself down in one near the door and waited for the waitress to take his order.
If possible, she looked even more pathetic than him, a sad young woman with thoughtful brown eyes mirroring fear and wariness. When she spoke, her voice was a smooth whisper, one that made Draco wish for simple things and more innocent times.
“What’ll you have?” She tossed her blonde hair, the texture of straw, over one shoulder.
“A beer.” He really wanted a firewhiskey or a sip of the wine his father kept down in their cool, stone cellar beneath the house.
The woman slid a brown bottle towards him and flipped off the cap with a opener she kept clipped to her belt.
Draco watched as the murky liquid foamed over and formed a thumb-sized puddle on the dark wood bar.
He took a swig, grimaced, and rolled the cool bottle between his palms.
“Are you here on vacation?” the waitress asked. The pub was empty, and she evidently felt obliged to make conversation.
“Not exactly.” Draco swallowed another mouthful and exhaled sharply through his pointed nose.
“Ah well, these are on the house anyway.” She dumped a bowl of peanuts next to his elbow.
Draco nodded his thanks.
Fortunately, a couple came through the door then, and the waitress went to get their orders.
Alone again, Draco rolled up the sleeves of his burgundy jumper, his eyes trailing to the faded blot pressed into his right forearm. His Dark Mark wasn’t quite as strong as it had been the day of his trial, when the Wizengamot had ordered him to hold his arm aloft for all to see, and the crowd glared at that ugly black serpent and skull.
The Daily Prophet reporters had snapped dozens of photos.
But the worst picture of all was the one they had plastered on the front page. Him shaking hands with Potter. The mighty hero proved to be as noble as he was brave.
Draco felt his hands tightening around the slippery bottle. It wasn’t fair. None of it was.
He’d heard that Mudblood Granger had gone back to Hogwarts to complete her studies. And almost all of the Weasley litter were awarded Orders of Merlin.
Crabbe’s family had been obliterated by the War. And Draco’s barely existed at all.
The Ministry was trying to white-wash things, trying to make it look as if the War had never happened. As always, they forgot to mention the families that had been pressed into the Dark Lord’s service. The families that had yearned for an ideal and then, finding themselves in too deep, could no longer escape.
For two years, Draco had been drowning, and even as his feet scraped the rocks below, he could not kick himself back to the surface.
The maelstrom had been just that powerful, just that relentless and unforgiving…
“Excuse me. You’re not eating those, right?”
A woman leaned against the stool beside him and tapped the bowl of peanuts.
Draco lifted his grey eyes. “No.”
She smiled what he reckoned was a flirtatious greeting and dropped her elbows onto the bar.
“Are you sure? I mean, you don’t mind, right?” Her clothes were ridiculous looking, a constricting pair of jeans and a sloppy pink tank-top. She had red polish on her nails and her sandy hair up in a bun.
Draco thought that everything about the woman looked contrived. Right down to her plastic gold and white purse.
She slipped her feet in and out of a pair of brown sandals.
He pushed the dish closer to the woman, if only to chase her away. “No, I don’t mind. Go ahead.”
“Alright, but you let me know if you want them back.” She pushed herself up and back from the bar, scooping up the dish and tripping back to her table…and boyfriend.
Draco exchanged tense looks with the bloke, a thinly muscled man who had a jaw of stubble and a blue cap on.
No worries, he thought as he turned back to his drink. The bird is almost as bad as that cop. He grinned a little at his own predicament. Maybe someday he’d be able to look back on this from within the confines of Malfoy Manor and laugh.
Some lot of time passed. Draco took sparing sips from the bottle, unable to adjust to the stout taste. Behind him, he heard a chair scrape against the floor and heavy footsteps echo to the back of the pub.
He kept his eyes bent on his bottle and didn’t look up until he heard the drawn-out yowl of the Muggle woman.
“Hey,” she called to him from her table. Her boyfriend was notably absent. “Hey, are you from Ireland?”
“England,” he said, glancing once over his shoulder.
“Oh my God, I’ve always wanted to go to London. What’s it like? Have you ever been to the Eiffel Tower?”
“I believe that’s in France.”
The woman rose and hurried back over to him. “Are you, like, an exchange student or something? Because no one ever comes to boring old Brahms, seriously. At least, I never would if I was from England.”
Draco waited a beat before replying. “I’m not a student, I live here. Well…I’ve just moved, that is to say.”
“Really!” she squealed and suddenly her hand dropped down onto his knee. “That’s just-”
Her boyfriend returned from the bathroom.
The woman scampered off as her companion’s face reddened, and he took two powerful strides towards them.
Draco half-rose, only to find the man towering over him, large hands braced on the back of his stool and the counter, trapping him.
“What’s your problem, man?” he barked, his breath hot and stinking in Draco’s face.
“Excuse me?” Draco replied, lifting a surprised eyebrow. He shifted, and in his pocket, he felt his wand bump against his leg. “I don’t know what you’re-”
“You’ve been eyeing my girlfriend all night.”
Draco snorted derisively.
“Frank, please,” the woman said.
The man shot her a baleful look. “Stay out of this, Brenda.”
“Listen.” Draco raised one of his hands, the other hovering near his pocket. “I want
nothing to do with you or your girlfriend. Back off.”
“Yeah.” Draco looked him straight in the eye, his jaw set.
Frank didn’t back down. “You’re saying my girlfriend was all over you then? Is that what you’re saying?”
“As a matter of fact,” Draco began, but was cut off as a fist soared his way.
He ducked, his bottle flying off the counter and shattering on the floor. Spilled beer drenched his trainers.
Without thinking, he reached for his wand and screamed, “Furnunculus!”
Frank reeled backwards, his hands grasping his face, which was now covered in boils.
“What the fuck?” Frank bellowed, his skin the colour of a rhinoceros’s hide.
Draco let a satisfied smile curl his lips, forgetting for a minute that the Ministry would be on to him already.
“Asshole!” Frank recovered rather quickly, hurtling towards his assailant with furious strength.
This time, Draco wasn’t quite so lucky. Frank’s weight brought them both to floor, the stool clattering onto its side as they tumbled about. A right hook to the jaw left Draco stunned. He fought to free his wand arm.
Frank flew up, crashing into the counter, his long arm toppling yet another stool.
The waitress rushed towards them, stopping a few fearful feet away with her hands over her mouth.
“He attacked my boyfriend!” Brenda screamed, pointing at Draco. “He attacked-”
Draco pointed his wand at her. “Langlock!”
She made a choking nose and frantically tried to claw at her tongue now glued to the top of her mouth.
Draco felt a lurch of panic, realizing exactly what he had done. He glanced once at the terrified waitress and then barrelled out into the street.
Frank’s enraged cries followed him to the gutter. “Jesus Christ, somebody call the cops!”
Author’s Note: I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and review so far. Your support means the world to me.
Special thanks goes out to my fabulous beta, Renfair, for all her skillful Brit-picking and Silent Hill expertise.
Please leave a review. Any and all feedback is tremendously helpful. Have a great week!
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