Chapter 1 : Alone
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There was no chance of him being lost, however, he knew these streets too well for he had walked them too often. And as he walked, his mind roamed more freely than his feet ever could. How he wished it wouldn’t. It was always the same thoughts, the same images, the same sounds that came flooding back to him, night after night, when the silence was most prominent. Those thoughts of hooded figures, masked faces, dark magic and the screams. Always the screams.
The sky was black, no stars shone and the moon wasn’t visible. A light wind blew through the streets, lifting the litter and the leaves from the ground and supplying the only sounds that broke the silence. He closed his eyes, feeling the breeze against his face, ruffling his hair and cooling him.
No one roamed the streets at this time of night. The war may have been over but the fear still remained. It seeped through the streets like a dark, thick smoke, creeping through keyholes and cracks in the stone buildings. Draco, however, didn’t fear death, not anymore. Sometimes, in those darker hours he even thought death would be bliss compared to the Hell he lived in everyday, with the ever imposing guilt, the shame, the complete powerlessness.
At his trial they had found him not guilty. The blessed Potter had vouched for him and Draco managed to leave in a flurry of convenient truths. But there were some truths even Potter wouldn’t have been able to defend, truths that Draco had kept quiet. He lived with the memories of those distant truths daily and for him that was punishment enough. Every night he pictured clearly the screams from those innocents he tortured, their faces grimacing, their clothes drenched in sweat, the tears that filled their eyes. At first, Draco didn’t have the capability to bestow that dreaded pain on anyone, until anger at his own failings produced energy enough to leave even the toughest man with tear-stained cheeks.
Potter didn’t know that. Only a handful of people did and nearly all of them were dead.
Except Pansy. His life, his love and the only reason he carried his wand on these late wanderings. His everything. Pansy Parkinson had changed after the war and Draco couldn’t have loved her more. She had experienced grief and loss and had become only stronger for it. Her childish fear had been replaced by an almighty passion to live, and to live at any cost. She stood by his side when all else had fallen. She comforted him, she didn't let him hide his tears; and instead, wordlessly, she would wipe them for him, curl her fingers in his hair and whisper in his ear, her warm lips enticing him to her.
She was all he had and all he wanted. If it wasn’t for her he would walk those streets until the sun rose, until his feet could go no further and he collapsed from exhaustion. But like a moth to the flame, he was always drawn back to her, yet unlike the moth he was never burned, even when he deserved to be.
But he had failed her. He could never provide her with the companion she needed, despite her being so resilient for him. He wasn’t good enough. He was tainted, his mind dark, his heart darker. Draco knew that she had her darkness, that she was not pure and angelic, but Draco knew that she had yet to succumb to that darkness as he had. He would not be the one to pull her down with him, he wanted her to remain as she was to him - perfect.
And so he walked, almost every night the same, roaming the pitch black streets in the rain, the snow, the fog and the bitterest cold, feeling at one with the creatures of the night who roamed with him. This was where he belonged; in the night like the dark monster he felt.
She sat serenely, like a statue, her brown eyes fixed on the clock. Her hands lay neatly across her lap, one on top of the other, the paleness of them contrasting beautifully with the dark green velvet of her dress. Night time had fallen thick and dense around the Manor enclosing her inside. She showed no notice of this although she felt it; felt the great walls of darkness outside that seemed to lock her within.
A door opened downstairs and her eyes darted to the hallway in one quick, short movement making her pupils seem for just a moment, as nothing more than a blur. Draco entered the room where she sat, removing his coat with care before throwing it over the sofa and sitting in the plush velvet chair across from her.
He tried not to look at her, tried not to let her see the shame and sorrow in his eyes but he had always been weak, especially when it came to her. Just knowing that she sat so near, that he could reach out and touch her was enough to fill him with desire. And yet, a part of him was also aware of how near the door was, how easy it would be to escape, to be alone with his thoughts, to allow them to consume him as he always did. Only she prevented it. She didn’t say anything as their eyes met, the brown depths of her chocolate coloured eyes betraying nothing, not the slightest hint of emotion. He stood suddenly, unable to stand the silence anymore, his heart straining in his chest, aching for her sweet voice, her soft touch.
He moved to where she sat and stood in front of her. Slowly, savouring every second, he reached his hand out allowing his fingers to touch her chin, to trace along her jaw-line, feeling the warmth of her soft skin before he held her face in his hands, forcing her to look at him. But what he saw in those eyes was not what he wished to see; disappointment, regret and worst of all a look of resignation.
His hands dropped but still she looked up at him. “And so you return,” she said finally, quietly, her voice only audible to him.
He knelt in front of her, holding her gaze and placing his hands on her thighs. She glanced quickly down at them then back at him, only the slightest hint of a softness to her expression now.
“Yes,” he replied.
She stood and walked from him towards the window, leaving him kneeling in front of the armchair now, his arms hanging by his side. He watched her still, seeing only the back of her, now proving to be a familiar sight. He tried to memorise it all, to take a mental photograph, to record how her dark hair, sleek and straight, fell to just below her shoulders, how her dress fit snugly against her body, highlighting her thin waist.
“Why can’t you stand to be with me anymore?” she asked. Her voice remained quiet yet defiant, betraying not an ounce of the hurt that threatened to cripple her to a heap on the floor, but Draco knew of it, no matter how well she disguised it. “Why do you leave me here alone every night?”
He looked to the floor and sighed. He knew these questions had been plaguing her, knew that one day she would ask and he would have to answer them. But time now seemed irrelevant to him so that he never noticed how quickly it passed and how many hours Pansy had spent puzzling over those questions.
“I love you Pansy,” he whispered. It wasn’t an answer but it was a truth. One that he didn’t tell her enough but one she knew to be constant. She never doubted it, even though she doubted everything else.
She turned now to face him, the bitter smile on her lips now distorting her features. “And this is how you treat the woman you love?” she asked. With a small tinkling laugh she knelt beside him, running her hands through his blonde hair. “For years you have been a mystery to me Draco. At the beginning, I must admit, I did rather enjoy it. You were so enthralling, you kept me enraptured. But now,” she paused, the softness of her breath landing on his face, “you bore me.”
The harshness of her words cut through the air like a knife, seeming to land in his very chest, causing him to gasp despite himself. “Why do you say such things?” he asked. And as the words left his mouth, he heard how pathetic they sounded. Simpering and quivering in the air around them, it startled him and sent a flash of rage through his skin. Didn’t his father teach him better than that? “Don’t I keep you well?” he snapped, “Are you not wearing the finest clothes? Living in a home of luxury? Is this not good enough for precious Pansy?”
“No,” she shook her head, “it is not enough Draco.”
The spite in his words didn’t startle her; she had grown accustomed to it, something he berated himself for. She sighed now, leaning her head against his chest, listening to his quick heartbeat and he, completely hers, stroked her neck and closed his eyes knowing that this was where she belonged; in his arms, by his side. Forever.
“Is that what you think of me, after all this time? That I only enjoy the comforts and luxuries you provide?” she sighed heavily now, “I could still have this lavish lifestyle if I hadn’t come with you.”
He knew it was a petty accusation. Money meant nothing to Pansy Parkinson for she had always had it. She enjoyed receiving the gifts he lavished upon her, but they both knew it was a poor substitute for everything else he had promised her; love, stability, friendship, peace. Instead the world had moved on and he had held her close, clinging to the only thing that was familiar to him now until she too remained in the past. It was like they were stuck at the bottom of the well, too proud to shout for help as life raged on above them.
“I have failed you.” He finally voiced what he already knew, opening his eyes to the dullness of the room, the scattering of candles providing the only light.
She looked up at him then, her eyebrows furrowed, her dark hair tucked behind her ears. “You have only deserted me.”
“And is that any better?”
She touched his face now, her warm hand cupping his cheek, her weight pressed against him, so warm and familiar. A comfort. “No, I guess it isn’t. But as long as I shall live you know I will only ever love you. I think it’s why we find ourselves in this place, you know that my heart will always be yours not matter how cruel you are.”
He watched her closely, noting every movement of her mouth, every inflection in her voice, hearing her words as plainly as she spoke them and hating them. The bare honesty, the unapologetic truth.
She smiled sadly at him, and pulled him towards her so that his lips rested on the nape of her neck, his hands around the small of her back. She pressed her cheek to his, her warm breath in his ear sending shivers down his spine. “But what neither of us could have anticipated,” she whispered, “is the hatred that spawns from the feeling of neglect. As each day passes Draco, I fear I have begun to hate you more and more. So much so, that my hatred is equal now to my love for you.”
He closed his eyes tight, kissing her neck and twisting his hand in her hair. The words stung at him, each one of them more hurtful than the previous until he felt crippled with the pain. He daren’t open his eyes, it already felt like the room had become smaller somehow, the air thinner. A coldness had spread through his very bones and the warmth from her in his arms didn’t seem to penetrate it.
“Do you say this only to hurt me?” With baited breath he waited for her answer although he didn’t know which answer he wanted to hear. It seemed either reply would only prove to intensify his pain.
“Do you think me so cruel?”
No, he did not. He could not look her in the face, he did not want to see the truth in her eyes, and so he kept his face buried within the strands of her hair. Again he kissed her neck, feeling her shiver in his arms at the touch of his lips. He felt the smallest trace of pleasure at this. He kissed her neck again, then to her ear and along her jaw-line until he reached her lips, which he pressed against his own, hard and with passion. She kissed back with the same intensity, unable to break the chains that bound her heart so close to his, no matter how cold his had become.
He once again held her face in his hands, no longer kissing her as he leaned his forehead against hers. He closed his eyes, breathing deeply the smell of her, that floral smell that had always provided him comfort. Now, within this one night, everything had changed. Everything except his love for her, which still burned so strongly in his chest it pained him. He could never hate her, yet the woman he loved now loathed him. He had taken the only light in his life and dampened it until it too fell into the darkness, leaving him blundering along this path of selfishness with her no longer by his side.
And despite there being two of them in that room, he felt what he had always known would be inevitable. He was completely alone.