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Trial by Fire by celticbard
Chapter 17 : Epilogue: The Brahms Courier
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 18


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Truly stunning chapter image by Ande @ TDA.

Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of Rowling’s work or the Silent Hill universe.

Epilogue: The Brahms Courier

Please, please forgive me
But I won’t be home again
Maybe someday you’ll look up, and barely conscious
You’ll say to no one, “isn’t something missing?” [1]


4 months later-France 

Draco awoke to the sound of his mother descending to the first floor of the chateau. The click-clack of her sensible low-heeled shoes on the stairs told him that his parents were planning a walk later in the day. They would ask him to come along and he would decline, unable to trust the simple beauty of the French countryside, the rolling hills that were dotted with foliage.

Leaves. Leaves the color of blood.

Mumbling to himself, he kicked off his blankets, shivering as the chilly autumn air touched his bare flesh. He’d taken to sleeping in his boxers lately, which really wasn’t a good idea, considering his nightmares brought his mother running into his room every night.

Shame colored Draco’s cheeks crimson. He didn’t much feel like a competent wizard with his parents hovering over him. They’d been overly cautious with him since St. Mungo’s had released him to their care three months ago.

But he’d rather not think about that now.

Draco found a pair of jeans and a wrinkled button down shirt on a chair by the windows. Dressing in the bright morning light, he could listen to his parents chatting down on the veranda below.

A house elf was bringing them tea and some fresh cheese Mother had bought from a local diary farmer last weekend.

“How was he last night?” Lucius Malfoy glanced at his wife over the rim of his china cup, his eyes obscured by steamy vapors.

“Better.” Narcissa smiled despite the darks circles that ringed her eyes. “He’s determined to wean himself off the sleeping draught, says he wishes to face the nightmares alone. Poor boy.”

“But he has not said anything yet?” Lucius put down his cup with an impatient clatter.

“No. And we’re not to push him. The Healers--”

“Oh, bother the Healers. Draco is our son, Narcissa. We deserve to know what happened to him at that…that place.”

“Silent Hill.”

Draco trembled when he heard his mother mention the name of the town. Whirling away from the window, he tripped on one of his shoes and tossed it angrily across the room. His parents were curious, and he couldn’t blame them for it. The Ministry had been considerably tight-lipped about his sudden return to Europe. They wanted to keep it out of the papers, just as the American government did. But in truth, it was a downright mess.

After escaping from Silent Hill, Draco had run into Brahms and all but thrown himself at the mercy of the Aurors who had been sent to find him. They took him straight into custody, but were shocked as he babbled out his story of the haunted town and Alessa Gillespie and…Cybil…

He begged them to believe him and predictably, the Aurors had laughed him off…until Officer Cybil Bennett was reported missing by the Brahms Police Department. The American Office for Magical Law Enforcement quickly launched an investigation and upon entering Silent Hill, encountered the last fragments of Alessa’s dying magic.

Draco was proven innocent as overwhelming evidence of the horrors in Silent Hill poured in. Those that had been counted as missing after the fire twenty years ago were discovered freshly killed. Draco himself confessed to killing Christabella, but was acquitted when it was shown that he had acted purely in self-defense in the face of being burned alive.

Alessa herself was not found, but her diary was confiscated from the basement of the hospital and sent to the highest offices of the American magical government were it was examined for traces of dark magic.

And finally, Cybil’s body was recovered in the collapsing church and passed on, with all care, to her mother. The official Muggle ruling was a freak car accident, and her wrecked squad car stood as a solid proof.

Draco, however, thought the excuse cheapened her heroism.

Needless to say, there was much embarrassment on the part of the American government who had unknowingly allowed a town to fall completely under dark magic. Further inquiries were launched to investigate the many burnings of the Flock.

Draco cooperated with the American officials and vowed to keep his story out of the papers. In exchange, he was returned to his parents in France after a brief stay at St. Mungo’s in order to mend his shattered nerves.

And now that the horror was over, he was faced with life once more.

Easier said than done, he thought sourly to himself, as he left his room to join his parents for breakfast. He would never completely heal. Never. Mother seemed to recognize that already, although Father was unsure. Draco understood why. Lucius Malfoy had expected to get his son back, but the young man who now inhabited the château was a pale, sickly creature, who was silent during the day and cried at night when nightmares struck.

He had changed, more than he could have ever imagined possible.

Hesitantly, he left the house and stepped out onto the veranda, squinting as the sun slanted in his eyes.

“Draco, you’re awake.” Father glanced up from his breakfast with a tight smile.

“Darling, come sit.” Mother beckoned him to the table with airy, graceful gestures.

Draco stumbled over to them and accepted the piece of toast that was put on his plate.

“Your father and I were considering a walk to the ruined abbey,” Mother said lightly as she poured his tea. “Won’t you join us?”

“Maybe,” Draco replied, speaking for the first time. He didn’t have the heart to deny her outright when she was so good to him.

And with that he bowed his head, just so he wouldn’t have to look at them and see their worry.

He couldn’t face their questions…not yet.

Mother made a soft noise in the back of her throat. Draco heard Father shift in his chair.

“Let the boy alone,” he whispered sternly.

“Lucius.”

“Let him alone.”

Draco shoved the toast in his mouth and chewed half-heartedly. He wasn’t at all hungry, but Mother would pout and complain if he didn’t accept food. At least once a day she would look at her son long and hard and comment on his weight loss.

Draco himself didn’t think he looked any different. Tired, maybe, but that was from the nightmares. He had, however, overheard Father comparing him to a “stalked deer” once.

When he finished his toast, Mother handed him another piece. This one was slightly burnt, and Draco gagged as the smell reached his nostrils.

Burning, burning.

Cybil, her skin, her face frozen by fire.

“Have some jam.” Mother handed him a small pot of strawberry preserves.

Draco shook his head. “I’m all right.”

He dared to look up at his parents. Father had brought a book of medieval poetry to the table and was flipping through it idly.

“I thought we could take a picnic lunch with us to the abbey,” he said in a strained voice.

“That would be lovely,” Mother commented.

Draco slapped some jam on his toast, jumping slightly when their house elf Libby trotted out onto the veranda with the post.

“Master, yous is wanting your paper,” she said, carefully handing Father a bundle which contained the Daily Prophet and several letters.

Mother sighed to herself. Their correspondence was dwindling these days as old friends and acquaintances so readily forsook them.

And despite his own turmoil, Draco realized how isolated his parents were in France and how it pained them to be cut off from the society they once enjoyed.

A pang of guilt assaulted him, and he resolved to be more attentive to their needs if possible.

Libby skirted around the table and moved back towards the kitchens, her neat tea towel dragging slightly on the stone floor of the veranda. Draco had always assumed that house elves were dumb creatures, industrious, but lacking any true intelligence or sensitivity.

Why, then, did Libby discreetly place a copy of the Brahms Courier into his lap?

“This is coming for yous, Master Draco,” the elf muttered and then hurried off into the house.

Draco glanced down at the paper, his stomach somersaulting as he saw Cybil’s picture on the cover. True, he had secretly been getting the Muggle newspaper for a month now, but usually it was delivered sometime in the afternoon by owl, when his parents were out.

“What’s that there?” Father asked over the front page of the Prophet.

“Paper from America,” Draco grumbled in response. “I had a subscription while I was over there…must’ve forgotten to cancel it.”

To his immense relief, Father accepted the explanation. Fifteen minutes later his parents rose from the table to freshen up before their walk. Draco, however, feigned hunger and stayed behind, slurping his tea.

Mother, of course, did not look convinced.

Once they had reentered the house, Draco unfolded the Courier and held it up to his eyes. The headline jumped out at him.

OFFICER BENNETT POSTHMOUSLY PROMOTED TO DETECTIVE

Brahms, West Virginia. Oct. 17. Yesterday afternoon, the Police Chief of Brahms announced his decision to promote the late Officer Cybil Bennett to detective. Officer Bennett was killed last July when she lost control of her squad car during a high-speed chase outside Silent Hill. She was pronounced dead on the scene and left behind her mother, the widowed Silvia Bennett. Her mother was on hand yesterday at the Police Station to accept her daughter’s promotion.
“Officer Bennett was an exemplary policewoman,” Police Chief Bradley commented during the ceremony. “We can only hope to honor her memory with the rank of detective, a promotion she most certainly deserved…”


Draco could no longer see the page. Tears blinded him and with difficulty, he swallowed a sob. Below the article was a picture of Cybil the day she had graduated from the Police Academy. Her mother was standing next to her, looking so proud…

“Draco.” A gentle hand lit on his shoulder.

He started, but did not put the paper down. Turning around, he looked into his mother’s eyes.

“Don’t let your Father see you reading a Muggle newspaper,” she said lightly.

Draco wiped furiously at his tears. “I won’t…sorry, I just…”

“Who is she?” Mother was staring at the picture of Cybil, a hint of maternal intuition darkening her glance. “You knew her, Draco.”

It was a statement, not a question. Draco nodded numbly. “She was a Muggle police officer.”

“Was?”

“She died, Mother…to save me. They burned her alive in Silent Hill. I couldn’t stop them. She’s…she’s dead.”

The tears fell, and he could no longer hide them. Mother squeezed his shoulder.

“Oh Draco.”

“She was a Muggle,” he continued hoarsely. “And she knew what I was. I didn’t ask her to help me, but she did. Mother, why did they have to kill her?”

“I wish I knew.” Mother touched the picture of Cybil with her fingertips.

“She was brave…she didn’t care what they did to her, those people. I…I can’t forget it.”

“And you never will,” Mother said. With the side of her soft hand, she brushed away her son’s tears.

“But she was a Muggle,” Draco said slowly. “I don’t understand. She was a Muggle!”

Mother knelt by his chair and took the paper from his hands. “Draco, listen to me now. I don’t know everything, I cannot explain what you witnessed…what happened to you in that town. I can only tell you that you must decide for yourself. Take from it what you will, or take nothing at all.”

Draco listened to her. He knew Silent Hill had changed him, but just how much was up to his conscience.

“I want to send flowers…to her grave,” he said at length.

Mother nodded. “Of course.”

It was then that Father returned, his walking stick in hand. “Is he coming with us?” he asked, indicating Draco.

“I think so.” Narcissa Malfoy smiled at her son.

“Yeah.” Draco stood, careful to tuck the Courier underneath his plate. “It might be nice.”

Mother wrapped an arm around him. “There are some of lovely late-blooming flowers along the way to the abbey,” she said. “We’ll help you find them.”


The End.




Author’s Note: Gah! It’s over. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Perhaps I shall do both.

I would like to thank everyone who stuck with this story. When I started it a year ago, I never imagined so many people would enjoy it…but you have happily proved me wrong. I would also like to thank my dedicated beta, Renfair, who not only helped me with this fic, but also worked on “Consumed”. Without her, I wouldn’t have gotten past chapter two.

Now, I do have some news for you. About a week ago, a vicious, persistent plot bunny clamped onto my brain and refused to let go. I know I said I wasn’t going to continue this story…but in order for the plot bunny to give me some peace, I might just have to. Here’s a tiny sneak peek.

When Draco Malfoy is accused of murdering Muggle police officer Cybil Bennett, he’s forced to return to the world that spawned his darkest nightmares. This time, however, instead of going it alone, he’s accompanied by the only person who believes he’s innocent…Auror Harry Potter.

What do you think? Would you like a sequel? 

Until then, if you’ve enjoyed “Trial by Fire” you might also like my other WIP “Willoway” which contains similar themes. Well, I’m afraid this is goodbye for now. Take care!

[1] Taken from “Missing” by Evanescence.


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