Chapter 1 : Reading The Picture
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One of my favorite days was a Tuesday in April. It was raining outside and the tulips on the window sill were drooping. We had Transfiguration and were turning top hats into roses. Ronald tried first, his hat just growing a stem. I tried, and, of course, got it right. Ilooked over and saw Malfoy's flowers. They were black. He didn't seem to be too phased by the fact that he got the spell wrong, and I was appalled. How could he have gotten the spell wrong? Had all my deducing been wrong. Was he really just a stupid follower with a thing for children's books? No that wasn't right. He knew what he was doing, hiding the truth from his peers. I laughed out loud and the people around me stared. He was pretending to look frustrated at the flowers and I laughed again. It's funny to watch someone lie. He looked up and saw me staring, and laughing. He put the flowers down on the table and kept his face stoic. I smiled to myself and ignored all the strange looks. Malfoy was caught in his act and he knew it. His wand movement was too fluid to be a mistake. The incantation was too pronounced.
The floor was extremely cold on my back. The Snatchers had thrown me in carelessly. Bellatrix was to be coming back for me after she was done with her other bidding. The pain from my previous torture was still lingering. My arm was numb and the blood was drying. I absolutley hate Bellatrix. I loved comparing people, especially family members. Draco was nothing like Bellatrix. When I saw her eyes, all I saw was evil. He had no evil left. I've seen it dripping out of his system the last time I saw him at school. I wasn't looked at with loathing. He didn't even look at anyone anymore. He saw through people, just stared. He was smart about it though. Unless you were studying him, you wouldn't notice him at all. He was using what I call the bystander techniques. The almost perfect spells, no glasses during the day, not gelled back hair, normal reactions to a clingy girlfriend. These all made him look normal to the outside world. When he used to look down at everyone, he was noticed by all houses, labeled and put on the bad list. He was considered a king in his own house, but not as of late. I watched his face when I was being tortured just enough to realize his innocence. He didn't even give us up to Bellatrix. I'm probably all wrong. It was more likely that he just couldn't wait for the war to be over. Yes that was it. I guess that's how everyone was feeling as of late. I was all alone in this big, empty room. That's how I'd been feeling lately. Big and empty. Harry, Ron and I still had each other, but even that relationship was watered-down. Everything could be related to this house. The Wizarding World, with all its captivating beauty was just a case for death now. The grandeur of the mansion was no more than a prison. I had heard Ron and Harry calling out from the dungeons. I saw house elf being killed off mercilessly. This house is the war.
I heard many things over the past couple of hours. Usually duels would be taking place in the rooms next to me. I could hear the kitchens in use, the clanging of locks opening, utensils hitting each other, and small murmurs of conversation. The last thing I heard was the slamming shut of what I assumed would be the main doors. A couple minutes later I heard the squeaking of gates, and then silence. I was alone. A grin formed on my face, realizing how stupid they were to leave me alone, until I tried to get up. There was a glass of water not two feet away. However, when I sat up I realized I could go no further. It was as if my tailbone was glued to the floor. My wand was locked in a golden case, also just out of reach. Typical Death Eaters, leaving such items in my sight but out of reach. I slumped back, trying to stretch out my back when the double doors slammed open and a few curse words streamed out of a young boys mouth. I watched him pace back and forth for a little bit while it was just him and I in the room. His hair was pushed off to the side and his brow furrowed in confusion. I wish I wouldn't smile but I did. he looked at me like I was crazy, which was probably true. I mean, I was smiling after torture. He came over and pushed my hair back behind my ear. His fingers were cold and rough. I grabbed his hand and he looked terrified. I felt the now textured skin. He looked into my eyes and I know we both were remembering the same thing.
It was really warm for a day in March, during my fifth year. I was sitting out under a tree, reading my book. It was during dinner and I wasn't that hungry. Of course, Harry and Ron were never ones to miss an eating opportunity. The commotion was too strangling for me to be around all the time, though. I cried every night before I went to bed after Cedric Diggory died. I would think of every one of my friends and family, praying they were safe. I felt lonely, Harry and Ron were the only ones who would understand. They had been in this position as many times as me. For Harry, it was definitely more.
Everyone else was in the Great Hall, or so I thought. I was just reading quietly, when I felt the presence of eyes on my neck. I turned around quickly and felt my neck. No one was there so I just kept reading. The sun was beginning to set and I watched it, putting a place-holder in my book. The horizon was purple and orange and yellow and red, all the beautiful warm colors. I loved sunsets. I was always so awe-inspired by artistry. I could never duplicate anything so beautiful. I have tried it before, believe me. But that's all my paintings ever looked like, a duplication. I could never create something like that on my own. Someone cleared their throat and asked if I would move over. I squinted from the sun and realized it was Malfoy. He looked so ragged, his shirt untucked, hair unkempt. I was wrong, there was another person who could probably understand how I feel. He let everyone think he was fine, too. I bet it was some sort of defense mechanism When you have emotions you don't know what to do with, hide them. That's how I had coped for these couple of months. I had started to feel the changes in the Wizarding World as of late. The Daily Prophet was smaller, the font bigger. No more news about crime was being printed. The Ministry was doing their very best to assure the public of safety, but I knew it wasn't working. I moved over silently, very surprised when he took a seat. He was watching me read, I could feel it. He tucked my hair behind my ear and his fingers trailed on my cheek. I turned abruptly,
"Is there something you need?"I said, near shouting. I was scared, but tried not to seem so.
"You are so intriguing, Granger."
"If you're looking for intriguing, find Luna." I stood and dusted off my skirt. He pulled me back down. I expected to find anger in his eyes, but no, only fear. I sat again.
"I need you to let Potter know he's not safe. Tell him not to trust what he thinks."
"What do you-," he yelled,
"I can't explain!" I was so scared, this was not normal.
"Just, let him know. And don't say I said anything." I was breathless,
"Of course." He caressed my cheek once more, holding my head in his hands.
"Beautiful," he whispered. I'm not sure I heard it, but I felt his words against my forehead. He kissed my forehead and then looked me in the eye.
"Don't you get hurt, stupid Gryffindor." He laughed quietly to himself. I wanted to laugh along, but it wasn't real. It was hollow, and his eyes held no joy.
"Stay safe bushy." With that he walked away, trying to put some swagger back into his walk. I had no idea what to make of that, so I just put it all away. The main thing was to make sure Harry didn't do something stupid.
I was still gripping Malfoy's hand, feeling the pads of his fingertips. I remember his voice that day, soft and lilting. I wanted to hear it again, to know I was not alone. They used to be much softer.
"It used to be much softer," I whispered, my voice raw.
"What?" he answered
"Your hands. They used to be so much softer."