Chapter 14 : Unforgiving Fear
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(chapter image by Jeanie @ TDA)
Beams of sunlight filtered through the drapes casting shadows out, and waking the sleeping occupant of the room. Immediately, Elsa woke to find herself sore and disoriented. He head throbbed, her muscles ached, and she was certain something was sticking to her back and ribs. Slowly she lifted her arm to run her fingers over the fabric bandages around her torso.
It all came back to her then.
She remembered the whip tearing at her skin. Her throat raw from screaming. Her body protesting, all the while wondering if she was going to die; if anyone was going to find her.
Tears prickled her eyes as she tried to make sense of everything. The room was cooler than she remembered. The air wasn’t suffocating her. Her throat, no longer parched, remained sore. As her eyes scanned the room, she rested on a familiar bed. Blankets that held the smell of her soap. Seated next to her bed, her brother sat, ever vigilant in watching over her. Frightened at first, she knew she was safe.
He looked tired. His eyes were closed, though, she could tell he wasn’t sleeping. The steady rise and fall of his chest and the grip on his wand spoke otherwise. For the first time in her life, she wasn’t afraid of Dominic. No. She was grateful he sat watch over her.
“Is he dead?” she asked, her throat raw and sore; her voice nothing more than a groggy throaty whisper.
“You’ll kill him though?”
“Dominic...” she paused. “Promise me you’ll make him hurt. Don’t just kill him. Make him pay for what he did to me?”
“That’s the plan.”
“Get some rest, Elsa.”
She nodded and rolled over to see her father standing in the doorway. She didn’t try to hide the fact that she had just made her twin brother promise to commit murder. She didn’t care that her father knew. In fact, she was certain he would be right there with Dominic when the time came to kill the man that had hurt her. She only wished she knew his name.
Evander crossed the room and sat on the side of the bed. “How are you feeling?”
“Sore,” she admitted. “I...how’d you find me?”
“Damon made sure he had the help he needed to rescue you.” Though his words sounded nice, she could see the disgust in her father’s eyes. He no longer trusted the Averys as he once did. “I am sorry we couldn’t get to you sooner.”
Elsa sat up slowly and wrapped her arms around her father. Sobbing into his chest, she let him console her. She was glad to be home, safe and sound. But how had Damon managed to get away? How had he escaped in the first place to get help? She had so many questions and she was sure that they would go unanswered.
“You’re safe now. No one can hurt you now.” Evander reassured her, ever mindful of her back. “Your mother has requested Cordelia join us early for Christmas.”
“Will Sirius be with her?” Elsa asked, perking up to the idea that she’d be surrounded by her friends and family for Christmas.
“Not that I am aware of,” Evander said through pinched lips.
“Please?” Her question hung in the air. She knew her father disliked Sirius as much as any other pureblood did. Sirius went against everything they were ever taught. Made it clear he hated the evil that they sowed.
“What would you tell him if he found out about your request of Dominic?” Evander questioned, knowing his daughter would never want Sirius to know the truth.
She looked away from him. How was she supposed to ever confide in Sirius again when she had yet another secret that he would want to know? How was he ever going to trust her when she was out for blood? Grinding her teeth in aggravation, she turned to look at her father again. There, written on his face, was victory.
“When the time comes for Sirius to know I requested Dominic commit murder, he’ll hate me. Until that day, until I choose that day, he’ll never find out.”
“Are you sure?”
“I will see what I can do to arrange his arrival in a timely fashion. If you are lucky, Cordelia has not yet left Hogwarts and the two can arrive together.”
She watched Evander leave the room, all the while Dominic sat watching them. Never saying a word. It was unlike him. Dominic always had something to say where Sirius was concerned. Even as she looked over at him, she could see the vein at his temple pulsing angrily. His lips were pinched, and his eyes narrowed. Her brother was not happy in the least to have Sirius at the house.
“He’ll find out,” Dominic said, his voice cold with anger. “The sooner you tlel him the sooner you can rid yourself of such vermin.”
“And the sooner you kill the man who hurt me, the sooner I can be rid of you.”
Leaning back against her pillow she closed her eyes, feigning sleep. A gentle squeak of the chair beside her, and Dominic’s heavy footsteps across the room told her he had had enough of watching over her. Good riddance, she thought to herself. Dominic was a nuisance. He had his uses, like committing a crime she, herself, was not willing to commit. But that was all he was good for. She still hated him.
Unable to sleep, her back stiff from lying in bed, she threw back her covers and made her way across her room to her wardrobe. She didn’t know how many days she had left until Christmas but she sure as hell wasn’t going to lay around in bed moping. If she didn’t keep herself busy, she was going to go stark raving mad. Her every thought was on what had happened, or what would happen to her captor.
Everything she had in her wardrobe was hideous. Anger and rage awakened within her as she tore apart her clothes. Skirts and dresses flew over her head, jeans and shirts went flying, she emptied the wardrobe and sank to the floor. Sobbing, she tried hard not to feel weak and afraid. She’d been unable to protect herself, unable to stop the men from hurting her. How was she ever going to survive on her own if she couldn’t even defend herself now? Dominic had bested her in a duel once, he’d do it again.
Curled up on the floor, she lay there crying. She tried to remind herself she was stronger than this; that she had survived and letting the bastard win was not going to make matters any better. And she was letting him win. He was inside her mind. Taunting her, tormenting her. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw him – the handsome man seating at the head of a table. His voice silky smooth and promising her she would not be harmed. He was a snake, a vicious poisonous snake that could lie as easily as any pureblood she knew. She hated him. Yet, she feared him more than she feared her own brother.
“My goodness!” Marisol nearly shouted as she walked into Elsa’s room to find her in a heap on the floor, her clothes strewn across the room. “What on earth happened here?”
Ignoring her mother’s chiding, Elsa remained where she was. She’d never understand. Never get how afraid she was, or how weak she felt. She was a failure. Not fit to join her Ravenclaw housemates. She couldn’t cast a spell to save her life, that much was evident. And destroying her room had not helped her feel any better.
No one would understand what she felt like inside. She didn’t doubt that her friends would hate her if they ever knew what she had asked of Dominic. The only thing she did know was that no matter what, her family would be there for her. Would Damon? She wondered.
A knock at the door pulled Elsa from her thoughts. Damon stood in the doorway looking uncertain about entering. He looked afraid and dishevelled.
“May I come in?” he asked politely.
Elsa looked at her mother, who tutted and walked away leaving the two alone. She knew her mother probably didn’t like the idea that she was left alone with a boy in her room. Though, she didn’t care in the slightest.
He crossed the room and took a seat in front of her. They sat in silence. Neither wanting to say what the other was thinking; neither really wanting to know either. Did she hate him? Was she mad at him? She wasn’t sure what she thought when it came to Damon’s actions. In the end, he had saved her. Was that not enough? She didn’t know.
“How’d you get away?” Elsa asked.
“Do we have to talk about that?”
“I want to know. I think I deserve to know.”
“But now? You’ve only just woken up.”
Sighing, Damon thought about how best to answer her question. “You don’t need to know this. You need to get better first.”
“I think I do need to,” she explained.
“One day, I’ll tell you.”
“Who are you to decide what I do and don’t need to know?” She seethed. “Go away, Damon. Leave me alone.”
She crossed the room and stood at the window. Nobody knew what she was going through. The less she knew the more afraid she was. If only someone would tell her the truth. Maybe...she wondered. If she could get Sirius or Cordelia to find out what had happened, how Damon managed to escape they could tell her. Though, she wondered, was it really fair to ask them to tell her the truth when she had every intention of lying to them again?
Throwing open the drapes, her back screaming in pain, she stood basking in the morning sun. It didn’t chase away the fear or the cold that had settled in on her. It didn’t make her feel any better about being surrounded by people who didn’t get her. But it did make her feel better knowing that no one was going to hurt her so long as she was at home.
Cordelia and Sirius arrived shortly after lunch while Elsa was curled up in the parlour reading a book of spells. Closing her book, she smiled at her friends as Cordie threw her arms around her , nearly squeezing the life out of her. Elsa moved and patted the seat next to her for Sirius to sit, while Cordie took up the spot at her feet.
“You all right?” Cordie asked, concern seeping through her voice.
“I’m sore.” She admitted.
She wasn’t sure how much she could tell her friends. How much would they even understand? If she confided in them completely, would they hate her or think any less of her? Fear prickled the back of her throat, making it hard to breathe. Though Sirius draped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close, she wasn’t sure he truly understood.
He nodded to Cordie who stood up and left the room with some lame excuse that she wanted to unpack her things. Elsa knew it was all a ploy. Lying to Sirius was always harder than lying to Cordelia. They both knew it.
“How are you really doing?” Sirius asked, not relinquishing his hold on her.
“Terrified. Angry. Sad. Sore. Tired. You name it; I probably feel it right now.” She admitted. With the door closed, she felt for the first time, maybe she could be honest with Sirius. “I know they are keeping stuff from me, afraid it’ll only make things worse.”
Sirius said nothing for a while, just held her in his arms. “Did you stop to consider that maybe they aren’t ready to tell you? You almost died.” She could hear the strain in his voice, the worry and sadness that he had almost lost his friend.
“I need to know,” she added. “I don’t want to live my life afraid that he’ll be back. I need to know why he chose me. Why I had to suffer. Don’t you even wonder how Damon escaped unharmed and I didn’t?” Though, when she thought about it, she wasn’t even sure how much Sirius knew in the first place.
“If you’re asking why I haven’t hexed him into next week because he left you alone, the answer is pretty simple. I promised your father I wouldn’t. It was part of the agreement. If I wanted to spend time here, I had to agree not to cause any thing with Avery or your brother.”
It shouldn’t have surprised her that her father had made sure that Sirius, Damon and Dominic wouldn’t fight while they were all under his roof. If not for his own sanity, than for hers. She was still recovering, and she did want her best friends there with her. Sure she cared about Damon; he had saved her after all. But the more she thought about it, the more she wasn’t sure she trusted him. He wasn’t being completely honest with her and it pissed her off.
“Will you tell me if you find out?” She asked.
“If your promise not to keep anything from me anymore, I will,” Sirius said, and moved to look her in the eyes. “No more secrets, no more lies. If you want me to tell you, then you have to be completely honest with me.”
Looking away, she fought back a sudden wave of tears. How was she ever going to tell Sirius the truth? He was right. She couldn’t simply expect him to be honest with her when she could not do the same for him.
“I...” she sighed, “can we go for a walk? I feel constricted in here.”
He helped her stand, and waited until she regained her balance. Her back screamed in protest as she put one foot in front of the other. Though she had been told it was healing nicely, she knew it was a long road to recovery. Many of her muscles had been damaged. There was only so much magic could do; her body had to do the rest.
With each step forward, she mentally encouraged herself. Sweat coated her neck and arms from her labour, and only when she reached the door did she even consider turning back. It had taken her father’s help to get her down the stairs and into the parlour in the first place. Now she wanted to go for a walk? Was she mental?
“Why don’t we sit on the patio?” Sirius suggested, and she immediately agreed to the idea.
Though sitting hurt as much as walking did, she wasn’t about to complain. Everything she did caused more pain to burn through her back. She promised herself a pain potion when she had confided in Sirius. As afraid of the consequences as she was, she knew she couldn’t lie to him. One way or another, the truth would come out. Sirius would find out that she was no better than the rest of her family.
They sat together on a small wooden bench with flowers too stubborn to die, kept alive she was sure, by her mother’s magic. A cold north wind blew through the yard, causing her to shiver. Sirius drew her close, his arm wrapped around her shoulder. He was always so warm and smelled of fresh summer grass.
“Promise me, you won’t get mad this time and stop talking to me? If I confide in you, I need to know you’ll be there. You’ll be here for me. Because right now, I don’t think I can deal with any more.”
“I can’t promise I won’t be mad.” At least he was being honest with her.
She crossed her arms over her chest and sighed. This was progress wasn’t it? They were keeping an honest open friendship. That was what they both wanted. Though, even as she sat there, staring out across the year with its meticulously well kept yard, and undying flowers, she wasn’t sure if she should confide in him. Dominic was hardly known to keep a secret, especially one that could destroy her friendship with Sirius. It was precisely the thing he would do to be rid of the black sheep of the Black family.
“I don’t even know how to begin to tell you what I know I have to,” she admitted. “I know you’ll be mad. I know you’ll probably hate me, but you have to understand it’s been difficult these last few days. When I was kidnapped, I was pretty sure I was never going to see anyone I cared about again. I thought I was going to die.
“Then, things got worse. I didn’t think it was possible, but it did. Every time I heard footsteps heading to the room they kept me in, I wanted to die. I didn’t think I could take another whipping. When I woke up in my room, safe and sound, I had to know. I needed to know if he alive. I want him dead, Sirius. I can’t stop thinking about what he had done to me. I can’t stop thinking that he’ll find me, and when he does, there won’t be anyone to save me.
“So I made Dominic promise me that he won’t let that man live. That if he ever finds him, he’ll wish he’d never kidnapped me. I know it was wrong. I know it wasn’t the right way to handle my fear, but it’s the only way I’m certain I’ll be able to sleep at night.”
Silence fell over them, and she knew he was angry. Looking up at him, she could see the way his eye twitched in anger, the way his left hand clenched in a fist and the way blood rushed to his face. She hated seeing him so mad. That she had brought about such an emotion in him, made her feel even worse about what she had asked.
She didn’t want to push him. Afraid if she did, he’d burst. Rather, she sat there in the silence, listening to the wind howl around them as tiny tears picked their way down her cheeks. If she lost him, she wasn’t sure what she’d do with herself.
“How will killing him make anything better?” Sirius questioned, trying desperately hard to keep his voice calm and even. Though it only made her feel worse. “There are proper ways to dealing with people like him. That’s why we have laws, Elsa.”
“Laws he can afford to break. Sirius, he’s no different than any rich pureblood. He’ll buy his way out of trouble. And then he’ll come after me. I don’t want to feel like I’m looking over my shoulder all the time. I don’t want to be afraid of the shadows.”
“I won’t let anything happen to you.”
“Damon said the same thing, and look what happened,” she fumed, pushing herself away from Sirius. “You wanted the truth, now you know. Do with it what you will. I’m going to lie down.”
Hobbling on uncertain legs, Elsa carefully walked to the door and up the back stairs. It took time and effort to climb the stairs, putting one foot in front of the other until she was finally standing on the landing. Leaning on the wall, she stopped to catch her breath. Had she really expected her talk with Sirius to go any differently? Though, at least this time he hadn’t stormed off on her. He was still talking to her. Though, she wasn’t sure how long that would last.
The last leg to her room seemed the hardest. Her back was in agonizing pain, her legs burned with the effort of climbing the stairs and the very last thing she wanted to do was continue walking. Leaning on the wall for support, she picked her way down the hall, stopping when she heard voices coming from the guest bedroom.
“I’m not being cruel, Cordelia. If she knew what really happened, she’d hate me,” Damon whispered angrily. “I won’t lose her. Not when she’s finally made progress.”
“Then you need to tell her the truth. Trust her to know what to do with it. If you care about her so much, lying to her is not the way to show her.”
“I’m not lying to her. I’m just avoiding telling her the truth. If I tell her, she’ll run off to him and I’ll never have a chance at telling her how I really feel.”
“You’re a coward, Avery. If you think for one minute I’m going to let you break her heart, you can think again. If you don’t tell her, I will!” Cordelia shouted at him and stormed out of the room.
Thankfully her friend failed to notice her standing in the shadows of the house. What were they talking about? Obviously Cordelia had found out the information she had wanted in the first place. If she could just pry that knowledge out of her friend, then maybe she might find some closure on what had happened to her.
Stumbling off to her bedroom, she found her way to her bed. What was going on in her own house? Everyone seemed to be keeping some secret from her. Why? She wondered as she stared up at the stucco ceiling of her room. Were they all trying to protect her? Or was there some ulterior motive she wasn’t aware of? Like Damon’s belief that she would hate him and run off to Sirius.
Like that would ever happen.
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