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Ashes and Dust by celticbard
Chapter 2 : Purgatory
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 10


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Fabulous chapter image by chocolat. @ TDA



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

Cast List: 

Draco Malfoy - Tom Felton
Lucius Malfoy - Jason Isaacs
Narcissa Malfoy - Helen McCrory
Hermione Granger - Emma Watson
Terry Brant - Michael Sheen


Chapter One Purgatory 

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
-- “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
 


Nine Months Later in France, April 2000



It was always the same. And nothing would ever change.

“Burn the witch! Burn the witch!”

Draco heard the chant even as his nightmare drifted into the space of his subconscious, sleep regaining control of a mind that was already shattered and couldn’t cope with the basics of reality. As he sank down, down, down, he felt the metal snake over his wrists. The Muggle handcuffs. Hard. Cold. He tried to move his hands apart but could only hold them at an uncomfortable parallel while the chains cut into his wrists.

And then he felt the key twist in the lock, releasing him.

“I trust you,” Cybil said. Her face was obscured by the fog that cloaked Silent Hill, a noxious mixture of poisonous gases and forgotten screams. Because everything, even the world, paid a debt to agony.

“You shouldn’t,” he replied.

Her smile was tight. Nervous. “We’re getting out of here, Draco. You and me.”

“No.” He hated to disagree with her, but it was the truth. The sickening truth. “Just me, Cybil. I’m…I’m sorry.”

But she didn’t seem to understand him. Her smile widened and widened and widened until it split her jaw in half and her flesh became ash. And there she was, a pile of charred bones at his feet. Dust.

Draco choked on the tears as the smell of burnt flesh invaded his sensitive nostrils. “I’m sorry, Cybil, so sorry.”

But it didn’t matter how many times he apologized. Because it would always be the same. And nothing would ever change.

Draco had never felt so powerless in his entire life. Useless. Helpless. He looked at the dust at his feet and his own, pale, empty hands and realized that his frailty was the only thing left.

When the darkness came for him, as it did every night, rushing through his brittle skin, into his narrow veins and rooting in the center of his brain, he panicked. He panicked because he knew fear, fear borne of primal instinct, the terror of one creature fleeing from another, away from hungry jaws.

And no matter where he ran, he couldn’t take Cybil with him. She would stay in Silent Hill, in that terrible, terrible place and stay there forever and forever.

Amen.

“Cybil,” Draco cried, even though he knew he was dreaming. “Cybil, I’m sorry. I couldn’t protect you. Cybil, I’m lost but I haven’t forgotten you. It’s the fire. Some day it will come for me too.”

“I know,” she said, her voice disembodied, lost, just like he was.

Sobbing, Draco would readily bear his flesh to the flames, because he knew that he deserved to be damned.

And Cybil didn’t. She never had.

Swimming in light, in smoke and ash, he kicked himself to the surface, kicked himself to the surface and gasped….


Awake. His eyes fluttered open, finding the moon-colored ceiling first and then the foot of his bed. He’d kicked off his sheets again and they lay in a pale bundle on the floor. Draco flew up off his pillow, feeling his flesh stick to the mattress as he moved. Sweat drenched his back and his neck and made his hair slick. Blindly, he reached for the glass of water on his bedside table, his fingers fumbling over his wand first. The cool glass cupped against his palm and he lifted it to his dry lips.

Empty.

“Damn,” he growled, throwing his legs over the side of the bed as he set the glass down. His bare chest rose and fell unevenly, keeping in time with the tortured rate of respiration his body had demanded while drifting through dreams.

Nightmares.

Sleep teased his eyes even now, in the midst of a painful adrenalin rush and for the thousandth time that month, he vowed to stop taking the sleeping potions. They made his mind weak, too weary and unable to properly fight off the nightmares that came and came again. Of course, he could easily admit to defeat and submit to his healer’s wishes, taking the Draught of the Living Death once a night before bedtime. But what was the point in masking his dreams? They were still there, weren’t they? Lurking below the surface. Waiting.

The very thought made his intestines twist. Draco grimaced and slid out of bed, his feet striking the floorboards with a tiny thud. It was late at night, late, late, late and he did not want to disturb his parents across the hall. They’d always been light sleepers, after all and his mother’s worries kept her awake half the time. Worries about him, about how he was coping and about all the things he wouldn’t tell her since he’d come back from America. But Draco had a good reason to keep silent.

He didn’t want her to end up with nightmares too.

Suffer in silence, he thought grimly. Like the dead. Like the damned. Don’t say a word.

And what could he tell his parents, really? They’d read the papers, hadn’t they? They knew the story, or at least as much as the American government would admit to. Draco himself had spilled his story over and over again to both American and British law enforcement officials, beefy men charged with handling the most dangerous cases of dark magic infestations. And the infestation in Silent Hill had been one of the worst in centuries, one that he, Draco Malfoy, had just accidentally stumbled onto.

Or perhaps not so accidentally, as the Auror in charge of his case had hinted at. After all, he had been an ex-Death Eater sentenced to involuntary exile in the U.S. Wasn’t it rather, hmm, ironic, that Draco had unintentionally unlocked a Pandora’s box of pent up dark magic in the small, abandoned town of Silent Hill, West Virginia?

No, it wasn’t, so far as Draco was concerned.

His experiences in Silent Hill had nothing to do with coincidence or fate or the settling of old debts. Or so he told himself every day, just to get by.

Bracing his arms against the edge of his bed, he leaned back and stretched his neck, ignoring the ache that traveled up his spine. He felt like skin and bones. Nothing but skin and bones.

And dust.

A light from the hall slithered under his bedroom door, footsteps treading lightly on the thin carpet. Draco started, his muscles coiling treacherously. In his mind, he pictured a little girl, her tiny, stockinged feet encased in ugly black school shoes and he could only catch sight of a single heel as she fled around the corner and into the fog. And he had been foolish, yes, foolish enough to chase after her.

But that was months ago, in a different place, in a world that may have very well been a nightmare. Now he was awake and breathing and shaking. His filigreed doorknob twisted, casting an oddly angular shadow on the floor.

Draco steadied himself as the lock clicked, expecting a monster.

But it was only the house elf, Libby, bringing him a cup of tea balanced carefully on an antique, silver tray.

He relaxed as she bustled into the room, feeling more than a little grateful for the small creature’s presence. Her bulbous eyes were always set in an thoughtful expression and she smiled even when Draco thought everyone in the world should be weeping.

Funny that he could find comfort in a mere house elf, but Draco hadn’t been himself lately. Or perhaps he had never been himself all along.

He tried not to over-think such things. Fate tempted him with too many questions as it was and for now, for this night, he was content to accept Libby’s company and her compassion.

“Libby is knowing you’d be awake, Master Draco,” the elf said as she put the tea tray down on his bedside table, her narrow shoulders heaving with a sigh. “Libby wishes yous would sleep better.”

“That makes two of us,” Draco grunted. He reached for the tiny sugar cubes Libby had arranged in a porcelain bowl and dropped two into his cup. “The tea helps, though. Thanks, Libby.”

He couldn’t believe he was thanking a house elf, but then again, stranger things had happened. Libby had quickly grown attuned to Draco’s nocturnal habits and she made sure to bring him tea or a glass of ice water whenever he roused from sleep, even though he had never requested her service.

And although he would never admit it, Draco appreciated her concern. Being alone, all alone, in the middle of the night, on the edge of a nightmare, was enough to break his spirit again.

And again.

He took the delicate china cup from Libby and sipped the tea, which was neither scalding nor lukewarm. The elf watched him, her great ears flopping a bit around her head as she sighed once more.

“Would Master Draco be liking a sandwich?” she asked. “Libby could make yous one. Yous never eat at dinner anymore…”

“I’m not hungry,” Draco said truthfully and he glanced down at his bare torso, noticing how his ribs stuck out against his skin.

Sometimes, when his parents were alone together and thought he was out of earshot, his mother would whisper that her son was wasting away and his father would frown stoically and suggest, perhaps, yes, perhaps it was just a phase.

Draco didn’t have the heart to contradict him. It wouldn’t do his family any good in the long run, anyway.

After he finished the tea and handed the cup to Libby, he sank back onto his bed, hoping, praying, that sleep might trickle past his guarded consciousness and lull him into a reprieve. A release from the endless dark.

Libby had her hand on the doorknob and she was working her way out of the room when a noise sounded from the parlor below.

Draco, always on the alert, sat bolt upright in bed and looked at the house elf. “Was that you, Libby?” he asked, a sinking feeling in his chest already telling him otherwise.

Libby shook her head. “No, Master Draco. Libby is not making any noise. But Libby did hear the front door close and-”

“Shhh!” Draco raised his hand to silence her. There were voices in the hall downstairs, a bevy of clipped, angry voices.

His spine stiffened, causing a chill to raise gooseflesh on his arms. Draco reached for his wand on the nightstand, one hand feeling for his jeans at the foot of his bed.

“Someone’s downstairs,” he said, slipping into his stale clothes. His white t-shirt snagged over his left ear and he yanked it viciously until it finally settled around his shoulders.

Libby was still shaking her head. “Libby doesn’t think yous should go downstairs, Master Draco,” she whimpered. “Libby wishes yous would stay-”

“Not now,” Draco growled roughly, pushing the house elf out of the way as he reached the door. The light creeping in from the corridor colored his toes yellow.

Leaving Libby in his room, Draco tiptoed out into the hall. The chateau his parents were renting was thin-walled and drafty, having a falsely aged look that made the place look poorly built and not entirely chic as the previous tenant had intended. Paint was applied lightly to the corridor walls, coloring them buttery gold during the day, but bone white at night, when the moon was at its highest. The carpet was neither plush nor vibrant, but a muted beige with spots of pink that made Draco think of cracked seashells. Each floorboard creaked as he crept past the bathroom and then his parents’ master suite. The door had been left open and the lamps were still lit, revealing the room to be empty. From the head of the staircase, he heard his father’s proud voice boom.

“Are you mad?” he cried. “It’s half past three in the morning. No, Draco is not going anywhere tonight. He isn’t well enough--”

“Our son is ill,” Narcissa Malfoy interrupted, her usually motherly tone tempered with frost. “The healers have advised us to keep him away from the public at this time…certainly you know what he’s been through.”

“I understand your concern, Mrs. Malfoy,” a fluttery, unfamiliar male voice responded. “But if we could only speak with Draco…just for a few minutes, it would certainly be a great help.”

“Out of the question,” his father replied curtly.

Draco felt an unwelcome sigh welling up within him. Poor Mother and Father. As if he hadn’t given them enough trouble already. And bloody hell, he loved them both like crazy…

He took a chance and slipped down the first few steps of the staircase, his sweaty hand squeaking along the polished banister. From where he stood, it was hard to see down into the foyer, but he did manage to catch sight of his parents, their straight backs blocking access to the staircase. There were two people standing opposite them in the doorway of the parlor. Squinting, Draco caught a glimpse of the dark hems of their traveling cloaks.

“I’m sorry for this, Mr. Malfoy,” the strange man said and Draco could tell right off, from the rather pleased tone of his voice, that the visitor wasn’t the least bit sincere. “But I really can’t discuss this matter with you. Draco is no longer a minor. You cannot answer for him anymore. Now, if you’d be so kind as to--”

Draco say his father’s right hand twitch convulsively and his heart leapt.

Enough. It was enough.

Quickly, he trotted down the stairs, stuffing his wand into his pocket as he went. “What’s going on?”

The company started, Narcissa whipping around to pin her only child with a saddened gaze.

“Oh, darling, we didn’t mean to wake you,” she said quietly, extending one hand to squeeze Draco’s wrist.

His father was more direct. “Go back to bed,” he said. “Just go back to bed, Draco.”

“Actually, I’d rather he didn’t.” The stranger was already bustling past his parents, reaching a long arm between them to shake Draco’s hand. “Good evening, young Mr. Malfoy. I’m Terry Brant, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Office of Wizengamot Administration Services. Sorry about the untimely hour. I was in bed myself when I got the call to scoot on over to France.” He smiled widely, showing every one of his teeth.

Draco stared at the lean, nervous little man. He had soft, curling brown hair and a big mouth and quick, clever dark eyes.

Instinctively, Draco decided he didn’t like him.

The woman standing behind him--and he assumed the cloaked figure was a woman, because she had sighed with feminine annoyance as soon as Brant stepped forward--kept her hood drawn about her face.

With a twist of his gut, Draco realized she was probably an Auror.

Not a good sign.

“What do you want?” He pulled his hand away from Brant’s, taking his place between his parents at the foot of the stairs.

“Yes, sorry.” Mr. Brant shook his head, as if he had, for a brief moment, entirely forgotten why he was darkening their doorway. From underneath his arm, he pulled a heavy, leather-bound folder, flipped the cover open and stuck his finger in the middle of a piece of suspicious looking parchment. “I have here a summons for your, Mr. Draco Malfoy, to appear in London for questioning regarding the death of the Muggle police office, Cybil Bennett. The Department of Magical Law Enforcement is trying to clear up a few details in relation to the Silent Hill case and we need your input, seeing as you’re our only, ahem, living witness.”

Without even having time to process Brant’s official gibberish, Draco recoiled, finding himself back on the deserted streets of Silent Hill and the leaden sky above was rent apart by the sudden scream of an air raid siren…

And then…and then….there were monsters everywhere. Real monsters.

His mother’s gentle touch brought reality crashing back and Draco felt her hand move up his arm to his shoulder, steadying him.

“We’d like to speak to our legal counsel before you drag us all the way to London,” she told Brant icily.

The little man nodded as she spoke. “Quite understandable. I’ll contact your barrister from my office at once, but I’m afraid I can’t do anything until Draco agrees to submit for questioning.”

“And what is there to know, exactly?” Draco found himself biting back. He was angry all of sudden. Completely insane with perfect rage.

It turned his blood to fire.

“Cybil Bennett is dead,” he spat. “She died trying to protect me from a bunch of purist fanatics, blood purity fanatics, isn’t that ironic? And do you want to know something, Mr. Brant, do you want to know how she died? Oh, I bet your supervisor spilled the details to you, made you giggle and get a little chill, like this was some type of bloody pulp fiction novel, right? Yeah, well, I don’t need to tell you then, but I’m going to. That Officer Bennett…she was burned to death, on a pyre, she was--”

“I believe immolated is the proper term,” the woman behind Brant replied, finally drawing back her hood.

Draco nearly groaned aloud when he recognized her features.

“My assistant,” Mr. Brant said hurriedly, “Hermione Granger.”

Hermione Granger glanced once at Brant and then turned her gaze to the Malfoys. “I think what Mr. Brant meant to say,” she continued, “is that Draco is being asked to return to London to readdress his possible involvement in Officer Bennett’s death. The British Department for Magical Law Enforcement was just contacted by the American authorities. It seems as though they are reopening their investigation and Draco may be listed as a possible suspect.”

“No.” This from Narcissa, who now had to cling to her son for support.

Lucius Malfoy set his jaw, nodding grimly.

But Draco found he could only laugh.

Brant stared at him, his clever eyes darkening and finally showing a hint of revulsion. Granger, however, only looked at the Malfoys with pity.

“This is mad,” Draco said, not realizing how manic his own voice sounded. “Completely mental. How could I possibly be a suspect in her death? I…I would have done anything to save her!”

Brant looked doubtful, but Hermione simply shook her head, showing more sincere concern than Draco would have ever thought possible.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t disclose any further details,” she said. “This is a very…sensitive case. But I assure you, Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy…and Draco, that I’ve been in contact with your barrister since the news was first delivered to the Ministry. There is no reason to worry just yet. Draco has already been proven innocent once, I don’t see why…”

“All that aside, Ms. Granger,” Brant broke in with grating cheerfulness, “If Draco does not agree to accompany us to London now, it may look bad for him if he is ever called before the Wizengamot. Non-compliance is a rather sticky issue for the court, I’m afraid.”

A flare of anger colored Granger’s face red for moment and Draco noticed her biet down on her lower lip, hard. “And taking that into account, Mr. Brant,” she said curtly, “You did forget to mention that Draco is not legally bound to accompany us to London just yet. The law provides him ample time to consult with his barrister and report to the Office of the Wizengamot within a week, as set down by the Bill of Wizarding Rights in 1865.”

“Quite right,” Brant said faintly and just like that, he was defeated.

“Fine,” Draco replied before his parents could say anything.

The carriage clock in the parlor chimed the hour. It was four AM.

Mr. Brant shook himself, jamming his folder underneath his arm and mustering a smile. “Well, thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy, for your time. If you have any further questions, feel free contact my office. I’m sure Ms. Granger would be happy to address your concerns.”

Granger nodded. “Certainly.”

“Have a pleasant evening, er, morning,” Brant corrected himself as he headed towards the door.

Granger was on his heels.

Once they were out of the chateau, Draco listened to them tramping through the garden. Brant, for all his cheery disposition, was remonstrating Granger loudly.

“You and I are going to have a talk,” he said shrilly before two harsh cracks ruptured the still dawn air.

Narcissa started at the sound, then sank onto the lowest step, her face ashen. “Oh Lucius,” she muttered.

Draco felt a shiver race up his spine. His mother’s voice was thick with tears.

“Don’t worry.” Lucius had folded his hands behind his back, his posture becoming almost military. “This is just bureaucratic nonsense. The Ministry can’t stand to leave us in peace. But this have nothing on us…and absolutely nothing on Draco. He didn’t have anything to do with that Muggle policewoman Bennis, Benning, whatever her name is.”

“Bennett, Father,” Draco corrected him immediately, surprised to find how harsh his voice was. “Her name was Cybil Bennett.”

And in the back of his mind, he thought he heard the fires stir once more, coming to claim him, he who had escaped when Cybil had suffered.

Suffered to save him.

It was always the same. And nothing would ever change.
 

 





Author’s Note: I would just like to assure my readers that this story will NOT contain a Dramione pairing. Of course, there is nothing wrong with dramione. This fic simply isn’t a romantic story. Hermione, I imagine, is quite sensitive to justice, including the miscarriage of it, which she senses is going on in Draco’s case. Therefore, her pity extends past any old grudges she might hold against the Malfoys, at least on the surface.

Well, I do hope you found this chapter enjoyable. I don’t know, I always find sequels/continuations harder to write. If you have a spare moment, please let me know what you think.

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read! Chapter Two is in the works and should be posted soon. Take care and be well!
 


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