Chapter 16 : An Unfinished Hell
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Rushing to the window, I’m peering through a blurred fog. It’s someone I don’t recognise, but his uniform tells me he’s from The Ministry of Magic. We’re saved!
Unlocking the window, I bring it up, screaming “Help!” Hail and lightning continues to thunder on the roof.... and it’s then that I realise, turning back to Ginny, “He can’t hear. He can’t hear us. If Malfoy opens the..... He’ll tell them to go away! We need to be in the corridor. Hang on.” Without really knowing what I’m doing, I’m retrieving a knife from a hook on the wall. I start destroying the door, watching impatiently as wood starts to fall away, dropping onto the floor. “Come ON!” It's so old.... the rest becomes cinders, and I reach through the gap, opening the latch from outside. Without looking back, I’m running, jumping, clambering through the corridor on my way to the porch.
“..... heard some disturbance, were called here.”
Straight away, I’m by Malfoy’s side, arms behind my back to hide the knife. “Yes! I’m so glad you’re....” That’s the point when the weapon starts moving, sliding from my reach – and then I feel it at the back of my neck.
“My friend has made a mistake,” Malfoy says, allowing the knife to make a slight nick in my skin. I don’t know if it’s bleeding, but I’m not going to check now. It’s then that I notice where his other arm is. He has it slung around my shoulders as if we’re just having a hug, able at the same time to disguise what he’s doing only inches from the Ministry worker’s nose. “He does like to prank, though I tell him not to. Isn’t that right, Tom?”
The knife is poised above my neck still, though it’s angled down. From this position, he could really do damage. He’s making me sound mad, but what else can I do? I have to play along.... “It is, yes. I like to – I don’t have much in my life. I – tend to get bored....”
“Well, you’ve just used up precious Ministry time.” The man is about to leave, when he points. “Wait a second, you’re Harr....”
“That’s quite sufficient. He’s not Harry Potter, gets told he looks like him all the time.” Then, Malfoy slams the door in his face.
I wait a minute, feeling the knife still at my neck. This is torture. I have to get back to Ginny, untie her. Why didn’t I cut her free when I had the chance? The wind whistles like a disgruntled banshee, as more rain crashes against the windows. Malfoy pauses for a moment, waiting until our surprise visitor has gone, and then hisses in my ear, “Did you send them?”
“No,” I answer. It’s a half truth. “When am I going to see Lily....”
“All in good time,” Malfoy answers, bringing the knife away. “You disobeyed my instructions, Potter. I told you to wait for me to return. Instead, you sought help. That doesn’t sound like something The Chosen One would do.”
“I never sent them.” Looking down, I’m racked with more guilt. “I asked someone to send them.”
Malfoy plays with the knife in his hands, now hovering it in front of me.“Ooh, big mistake.” He points in the direction of the kitchen. “Back with your wife, Potter – unless you really do never want to see your kids again.” He’s smiling so pleasantly, it’s horrible.
“Order me around if you want, Malfoy, but soon, I’m going to wipe that ugly smirk off your ugly face.” He doesn’t react, just continues smiling – pointing the way.
Pushing past him, I stride down the corridors and return to my wife. She’s looking miserable now – completely exhausted, without hope, able to find refuge in anything. I pull at her ropes, but it’s useless. You need a knife to cut into them. There must be another one in here. I can’t see any though, and I’m rifling through other drawers, in cupboards, everywhere I look.
“Malfoy is what happened,” I explain out of breath, “He means business, Ginny. We can’t upset him right now, we have to do what he says. He keeps telling me I have to stay here or we’ll never see our kids again. I don’t know if he’s just saying that or if he really means it, but I want to find out either way. I’m not risking their lives by assuming something.”
“I understand,” Ginny says, “I do, but what does he want from us in here? I’ve been trying to figure out what his game is. There’s no clues at all.”
“He likes that we don’t have any clues, it’s what he’s surviving off, this thrill, this chase....”
“What’s he chasing?”
“I don’t know.”
Twenty minutes pass, and I realise how hungry I am. I have to keep up my energy, so scour the fridge for some food. There’s nothing. Malfoy clearly thought ahead. Does he want to starve us? The thought makes sense, but I don’t relay my suspicions to Ginny, she’s worried enough as it is. It’s so frustrating, knowing that the door is open, but there’s no way I’m going to go anywhere until I know that our kids are safe. That’s why he’s banished us here, because his hold is too powerful, because he knows my weakness.....
A further ten minutes later, I’m starting to get restless. It’s definitely control he enjoys. I can almost see him outside the door, listening to nothing literal but hearing the anger, pain and sorrow spreading in the kitchen, trying to escape..... I’m hunting again for another knife, yet it seems the room only had one. It was almost as though Malfoy had thought I would get it and break free, giving him the opportunity to take it from me, as if he knew it would end up in his hands.
We’ve been played.
“I can’t take this anymore, Ginny. I’m going to go mad.”
“Maybe that’s what he’s trying to do,” Ginny surmises, “Think about it. What better way to make you vulnerable?”
“It’s not all about me!”
“You said yourself this was a plot to get you,” Ginny replies in a matter of fact way, “I’m only repeating your speculations!” She huffs, eyes strained. “Sorry, we can’t fight like this. That could be also what he wants, for us to have such a row that we end up divorcing.”
“I’m surprised you haven’t, in all honesty. I would divorce me.” I’m being truthful, but it comes across as mocking and Ginny looks away. “I didn’t mean it like that and you know I didn’t.”
“I don’t know what you mean anymore,” answers Ginny in such a cold voice that I turn submissive.
Although, I have no idea what I’m going to say which is lucky because the next moment Malfoy arrives, accompanied by my children. I’m so pleased to see them, but within thirty seconds, I can see that they’ve been crying – save for Lily. Kneeling down to James, I sigh. “Hello, you.” Not caring that Malfoy is there, I envelop my son in the world’s biggest hug and ruffle his hair. “Where’ve you been?” My tone is light, but fury is embedded underneath.
“We’ve been in the room next door,” James says, but he doesn’t look happy. “How could you?” Stepping back, he’s holding his sister’s hand. “How could you do that to Mum?”
It’s with a sinking, helpless feeling that I understand the reason Malfoy put us here – in this particular room. He’s leaning against the wall, the happiest I’ve ever seen him watching me subtly proclaim my guilt. How nasty. My kids had only been four metres away, over the other side of the wall.... and they would have heard everything.
Ginny’s realised what’s happened too and it’s clear from the devastated look on her face that she would have gone through anything, except this. It’s payback time, but not yet. I have to clear this up.
Albus turns away from me, walking to Malfoy. “You broke Mum’s heart. I don’t understand. Things were good at home, and then we went away and this happens. Dad, you’re different. I don’t think I love you anymore.”
This time, I don’t even have the energy to react. I can feel tears being released. I’ve never felt so vulnerable in all my life. My own son doesn’t think he loves me anymore. My own son doesn’t think he loves me anymore.
Lily steps forwards with a more accepting air. “Dad, what really went on while we were at school?” She’s gazing with such an inquisitive nature, and I’m reminded of how much she’s like my wife. “I’ve heard things – that you did – but that’s not you. There must have been a reason for them.”
“Listen,” I whisper, keeping a close eye on Malfoy. “Whatever happens, will you promise me something?”
“Yes,” Lily whispers, tracing her toe on the tiles.
More tears are collecting in my eyes now, still replaying what Albus said “I don’t think I love you anymore. “You’ll stay close to your brothers, you’ll keep them safe, you won’t run away, you’ll love your Mum. You’ll enjoy Hogwarts, have a brilliant education, get married to wonderful people....”
“We’re only thirteen!” Lily laughs. “I think you’re getting a bit ahead of yourself, Dad. You sound like you’re leaving us.”
“Harry,” Ginny says, realising what I mean. “No....”
“Listen to your husband, Mummy Weasley.” Malfoy speaks again. “However, it’s you I want to talk to for now, Lily.”
“Why?” she asks, innocence in her green eyes. “I’m alright here, thank you very much.”
I step in front. “You’re not going anywhere near her.”
Malfoy freezes, acts. It only takes one punch, and then I’m down. Through a black eye, I see him. He’s scooping my daughter up, running out the cottage into the stormy night, and laughing while he does. Ginny struggles in the ropes, crying. I stumble to my feet, and then bang open the door – running while ignoring my wife’s protesting shouts.
I can’t see him in the dark and my glasses condensate with more water. It’s hard to glimpse anything – let alone a moving figure dressed in black. Wow, Malfoy really knew what he was doing tonight right down to his camouflaging attire, but I don’t think he planned this..... wrongly assuming that all my children would now hate me. I concentrate on trying to squint, now getting ice in my eyes, the coldness shocking my face.
I keep moving, trudging through the long grass. I really wish I’d bought a change of clothes, these are soaked and it makes it difficult to manoeuvre. A hoody would have been good, not my work jacket – but I have to make do with what I have. Hail is now coming down on me like bullets. It hurts to do anything.
Malfoy’s going to try and put things in Lily’s head, I know he is – but he’ll need to find somewhere away from the weather first which means that unknowingly he’s leading me. It will have to be under a roof, in a barn, beneath a tree, a location so he doesn’t have to deal with the hail and trying to talk round a teenager as well. An hour ago, I would have almost danced in rejoice knowing that the lightning had stopped, but this couldn’t have happened at a more worrisome time. I take off my glasses, though the atmosphere is even blacker without them – and frown, frustrated that I have to compete with hail, half blindness, and cold.
The thunder is still rumbling, more distracting than ever. Why does it have to be so muddy here? I can’t move properly. And then it all makes sense. Oh my god. That’s why he ran out. He knew I would be struggling if I was away from the cottage, he knew I would be vulnerable, and he knew I would do anything to make sure Lily wasn’t harmed. He was one step ahead, he always had been.
He’s not going to harm Lily at all, I know that now, he just wants her to hate me like James and Albus supposedly do. I’ll fix that though – I will explain everything. I just have to get her back. That’s all, I’ve done worse than this. I think of the maze in fourth year. This feels a bit like it, only I know I’m not in a tournament here and there’s no choice to throw up red sparks with my wand if I’m under threat. Magic doesn’t even work. Where are they? I hear movement in the bushes next to me, but it’s only a rabbit. I watch it jump away, disappointed and even colder than I was before.
Malfoy might have run ahead for miles, or he might be just behind me. I could look for them all night – Maybe I should go back to the cottage, untie Ginny and snatch the kids? Again, I wonder why I didn’t release her when I had the chance. I know why though. Getting Lily back in my arms was the most important thing and then they can all leave together, but somehow, I just have a feeling that I won’t be going with them. Tonight, the way things are going, I think my life will end here, in these dark hills. The thought of death is almost welcome though – compared to living with what I’ve done.
It’s then that I see her – Lily, racing back to the hut. She’s escaped from Malfoy’s clutches.
“Well done, Lily. Your mother will be proud!” Malfoy’s shout echoes over the marsh.
Or not. They’ve had their chat, they were able to, but how – where did they go? Knowing that my kids are away from him, I start wading back through more grass, suddenly stopped by a huge puddle. It must be really deep because it stretches for about seven metres. I try and spot a bank, something to scramble and get across but no such landmarks are around me. This path is covered in mud. I didn’t walk up this far earlier, and I really wish I hadn’t now. I’m going to have to swim across, but what if reeds pull me down.....
Suddenly, I’m pushed face-down into the muddy puddle, and held there, hard. Panicking, I wonder what’s happened, kicking, screaming, noticing brown bubbles popping above. I’m going to drown, oxygen leaving my body. I feel my lungs start to collapse, gagging for air. It must be about a minute, before someone wrenches my head back, and I’m staring into Malfoy’s ecstatic, yet livid face.
“So, what else did you do with my wife, Potter?”
It takes me a minute to register what he’s said, spluttering and gulping. “We did lots of things.”
“What?” Malfoy snaps, now having snatched a handful of my hair and bending my head back so much I feel like it might break under the strain. “No?”
He shoves me under the puddle again, deeper this time. Whilst below the surface, I work out what I’m going to say. Everything. I’ll get away somehow – but for now – he deserves to know the truth, the whole truth. That is, if he pulls me up again and for a split second, I consider that he won’t. He might not be a killer, but it’s an easy way of doing it – at the same time, I don’t know if he knows this.... but drowning is my worst fear. This has been far too long now. Get me up, Malfoy. Get me out. Please. Please!
A minute later, I’m coughing, hopelessly, but back – relieved he wants to talk more. Taking in as much air as I can, I choke, “I borrowed from you, b – behind your back, five hundred and thirty galleons, plus, Astoria and I had sex – and the baby’s mine!” I’m stumbling, watching.
I almost think he’s going to cry, until a fist knocks me backward.
Trying to get up, I’m hit again, blood now dribbling from my lips. I jump at him and we tumble, rolling over the hill. I scramble to my feet, try and run back the way we came, and he deals a punch that this time knocks the wind out of me. My glasses fly off, right at Malfoy who throws them to the grass and – I leap to retrieve them, and he treads on my hands. I yelp, marks from his boots now on the back of my skin, marking his power, marking his hatred.
I’m coughing up blood now, doubling over and retching.
Malfoy doesn’t say anything, just hits me harder. If he doesn’t stop, I won’t be able to get up. This time, I punch him, and he topples not expecting it. We’re rolling again, it’s almost a grisly poetic scene, caught amongst the raging storm, hammering hail. If this was a scene in a movie I would be completely gripped, but it’s not. I need to make him stop or I’m going to faint. More blood scatters the grass, and now my nose is bleeding too. He’s twisting my arm, making me scream. I stagger to my feet for the hundredth time. He’s like a magic statue, as though he hasn’t been hit at all. We skid down the hill, and then I see it – the edge. I’m suspended, legs flying, reaching out for something to hold. It would only take one push and I’d be gone. Splat.
Malfoy grabs my hands. It feels like he’s going to help until I notice his expression.“Wow, Potter. Here we are – you hanging off a cliff and me – faced with a somewhat pressing decision.”
“Pull me up!”
“There’s the snag,” Malfoy says cooly. “Do I drop you to your death, knowing that your end is short and pain free or....”
“Pain free?” I almost laugh. “That won’t be pain free.”
“Oh, it will hurt for a moment,” Malfoy says airily, “....but then everything will be over.”
Nodding, I’m still clinging on. “Yes, that’s generally what happens when you die.”
“See? That’s not good enough for me. I would rather you live the rest of your life knowing that your family will never love you again, including Lily.” He frowns at my befuddlement. “Didn’t you know? Oh, of course you didn’t. Your daughter and I rehearsed that charming scene in the cottage and it worked. I got you out here.”
Malfoy digs his nails into my hands and it takes all my strength not to fall. “Oh I’m sorry. You believed she felt the same as her brothers? No. If I pull you up, your life will forever be tainted by the deeds you did, the choices you made, and I will forever be watching you suffer because of it.”
“One day I will. If you turn insane and forget everything, the pain will no longer be there. I’ll be waiting, and I’ll happily take a knife to your miserable little throat.”
“Do it now.”
Malfoy shakes his head. "I don't think so," pulls me up and with one last punch I’m unconscious.
I wake up to water splashing on my face, and notice that my wife is now untied, standing with our kids.
“See what I told you?” Malfoy hisses into my ear. “Look at your wife, Potter. You’ve destroyed her, and your poor children, they can’t even look at you. Every day you’ll know that you ruined their lives, and every day you’ll never escape from it, never escape from me.”
“Ginny, you have to love me like you used to,” I plead, sounding so weak. “I’ll do anything.”
“I can’t, Harry. See you back at Luna’s.” Her tone is emotionless, cold. “Come on, guys.” She leads James, Lily and Albus away who don’t once look back, walking down the hill with her.
I want to run after them, hold them close, but I know it’s not my place anymore. They don’t want me, I don’t want me either. I think about the knife back in the cottage, I could take my own life with it – but remember Malfoy. Now, he will always be watching.
I’ve been crying for hours, hitting the walls, replaying events. Nobody comes to my aid. Luna and Neville are out on a romantic stroll whilst Ginny is eating dinner by herself, having put the kids to bed – which she didn’t even let me do. We have to move from here – start a new life.... I can’t do this, I really am going to go mad. That’s exactly what he wants. He wants me to go so mad that I can’t cope, that he kills me. Luna is happy for us to live here, and Ginny agrees for a year at least. I’ve tried to be affectionate with her, but nothing is ever the same.
It’s then that I remember Astoria. She owled me just last night, apologising over and over. She just couldn’t keep the baby with everything that had happened. I understood, despite being completely against abortion. The pressure that Malfoy must have put on her would have been catastrophic, but I cry some more, over the lost life. I could have made everything better, but how? She also told me that her husband had gleefully admitted being the person who had talked Umbridge round to burning down our house and that he was the instigator behind me losing my job. It doesn’t even surprise me now. Everything that he said was planned.
“Harry Potter!” Luna’s whispered shout wakes me out of my reverie.
“What is it?” I walk downstairs, and take a minute to glance in the corridor mirror. I haven’t shaved for a week, a tiny moustache starting to grow. I look rugged, worn out. “Don’t wake the kids.....”
Luna smiles weakly and takes my arm, pointing to a green van. “It’s Draco Malfoy.”
“What about him?”
“He’s moved next door.”
Author's Note: I didn't mean to make this so depressing at the end, but it just sort of happened! When I come back to fanfic, I'll be writing something light I think. I need a bit of comedy! I hope you guys thought this was a fitting ending. I was originally going to have Malfoy try and kill Harry but I think he would want him to forever be tortured and you can see by the end that the experience has destroyed his life.
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