Chapter One - Death's Embrace
'Thus let me live, unheard, unknown;
Ignorance is a requisite of unimaginable splendour. It is, quite simply, bliss in its basest, crudest form, a treasure-cove that, when lost in the seas of wisdom, can never be rediscovered.
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.'
- Extract from 'Ode to Solitude' by Alexander Pope
I have searched for too long for that which can never be tangible. I have fallen on the doorsteps of too many deities, begging for a forgiving embrace, and a nudge into that stupor I pursue so longingly. But I know... I can never find a method to erase the damage I have caused, the consequences that have led me to this desolate wasteland of daily anguish, a place where every bloodstained sunset is a disappointment, and every sunrise an undeserved, unwanted mercy.
This world no longer tolerates my presence—I feel it in the spiteful tug of gravity on my burdened bones. I am no longer bound for this earth... and in my heart, I grapple onto some far-stretched hope that somewhere out there, there is a place for me, free of the earthly wrongs I have committed. For, surely, eliminating an item of no value, an item of negative worth—would that not be a chance at redemption?
As angels burn, even the damned must have hope.
Let me plunge myself into this ocean of demise! Let me clasp Life's fingers one last time, remembering not my end, but my blissful entrance into a cold, cold earth, before I welcome Death to embrace me in its final hold!
“Jensen, mind the table… No, not the rug either! Jensen!”Jensen’s mother shouted just as Jensen jumped off the dining table and tumbled down to the floor in a chaotic medley of somersaults and clumsy backflips. “That’s it. Out! Out now, right this instant!”
He looked up at her, her fierce eyes glowering intently, and down at the wooden spoon held in her hand, and suddenly decided that sunlight was not such a bad idea.
This was the usual routine. He followed some great urge to do something that, in the eyes of his mother, was unholy and—more importantly—an absolute pain in the rear, and he was given a ten-second grace period to evacuate the house before she rained all hell and fury upon him in the form of whatever she was holding at the time.
There was very little to do outside the house. He was eight years old, and most children his age had friends to play with on the playground, or on the vast expanse of hills and forest that bordered the village; for some odd reason, they had chosen to exclude him. Perhaps it was the way his knees and elbows jutted out awkwardly, or perhaps it was because he resembled a runty chipmunk, with eyes too abnormally huge for his face... Whatever the case, it didn't change the fact that he was friendless, and there were only so many times one could play hide-and-go-seek-yourself...
He looked towards the river and smiled, pushing his loneliness back into that crowded corner in his mind where he would usually push everything unwanted and unbearable into. A little skinny-dipping, he decided, might be refreshing in the unbearably sultriness of mid-summer noon.
Oblivious to the stares of the shocked neighbours, without a moment's hesitation, he stripped right down to his socks, and started running to the other, much quieter side of the field where the river divided cultivated farmland from the wild.
He plunged in, laughing merrily as the odd trout or reed tickled his ankles...
Suddenly, a chill trickled down his spine. He hadn't noticed it in the sunlight, but now that he was much, much closer, he could distinctly make out a patch of crimson within the clandestine waters.
He had never seen a red river before, and turning his head back and forth, he attempted to search for the source, pondering on cranberry trees bleeding juice, or a great wolf dying on a rock... It wasn't long before his eyes caught it: on a low-lying boulder a mere ten feet from him lay a body, spread-eagled and half-naked. It was distinctly human, its surrounding water most definitely a more brilliant hue...
Jensen stumbled out of the water, grateful that he had kept his boxers on, and clutched his mouth, afraid of any release of fear, or... could it be excitement? The boulders were hard to climb, slippery and promising certain death were one to fall of them, but years of curiosity and boredom-fuelled exploration of these regions made him nimble and extremely capable.
Red, everything was so red, like the summer fields filled with blossoming tulips... only it smelled like metal.
The first thing he noticed about the body was the hair—platinum blonde, as white as a dove, luminescent against the black stone.
This was enough, he decided. He had to tell someone, anyone; his mother had always told him that in case of an emergency, involving himself or anyone else in danger, the first thing he had to do was call for help, for an adult.
He quickly got up, looked back once over his shoulder, before hurrying back home...
"Mum! We gotta hurry! We gotta hurry!" Jensen shouted as he rushed into the house, grabbing onto his mother's apron.
"Jensen! Look what you've done! Another sodding mess! I'm to clean the damned rug again... Didn't I tell you to go play outside?" She shouted in dismay, staring at the muddy footprints.
"Mum, mum! A man in the river!" Jensen carried on, frantically pulling the apron until it came loose in his hands. "Emergency, emergency! There's so much red! I think he fell, Mum, or maybe he jumped... Why would anyone jump, Mum?"
"You're too young to be asking, Jensen Christopher McAlfairs! Now... are you sure? You know you sometimes imagine things that aren't really there..."
"Mum! You told me if there's an emergency, I have to come straight to you! I think he might be dead, Mum..."
Mrs. McAlfairs sighed, thrusting her heavy duty gloves back into the bucket. She followed her son to the river, despite her scepticism. She couldn't help thinking back to the pile of dirty clothing awaiting her back home, and prayed she would not lose control over her temperamental hand if it turned out to be another one of her son's delusions.
And then she saw him, the bloodred pool surrounding him and the head of silver resting awkwardly against the boulder. She swore, not bothering to cover Jensen's ears, and ran to the bleeding corpse, checking for a pulse.
It was faint, but still there. Rolling up her sleeves, Mrs. McAlfairs sent Jensen to call for the town doctor, promising him a peanut-butter cookie for a well-done job, and a sore bottom for a poor one...
"Hang on, Mister," she whispered, afraid to move him in case of any broken bones, "You hang on, now."
The sky was so clear! The grass so green... A sight he could never touch from within the curtained darkness of the Malfoy Manor. Five-year-old Draco rolled down the hill, the soft, velvety carpet of grass and tulips cushioning his fragile body. He yelled, laughing, something he hadn't been able to do through his father's lessons on composure and discipline.
Today was the first day his father had been out of the house long enough for him and his mother to finally break the equanimity, drink some lemonade (a drink too "Muggle" for his father's liking) and have some fun.
"Draco,” His mother murmured, lying down beside him. “My little baby, are you happy?”
“I wish everyday was like this!” He shouted aloud, giggling. She nodded and hugged him tightly before attacking his stomach with her tickling hands. He laughed again, unable to stop, and ran away as she chased him.
“WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING OUT HERE?”
All the world suddenly stopped. The stern voice, cold and furious, forced its way down his mouth, to his chest and immediately, Draco's lungs stopped functioning... He watched as his father's face of stone, carved horrifically into a menacing grimace, grow bigger and clearer...
"Lucius... we were just having a break," his mother tried to explain, standing between him and the sinister silhouette, "He grinds himself so hard to follow you, I just thought—"
Her words caught the swing of his father's arm, and Draco watched as she fell to the floor. He did not see the hand as he turned back to his father, but merely felt the sharp, thunderous sting across his cheek.
He could feel the tears well up, a scream at the back of his throat, but he kept it in, remembering what his father insisted on teaching him. "I'm sorry, Father," he stated, voice steady and devoid of the anger and hurt he felt. "It won't happen again."
Edited: 17 July 2009
Edited: 26 July 2009
Edited: 28 January 2010
Edited: 10 November 2011