Chapter 1 : Slowly Growing Cold
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I OWN NOTHING. Enjoy!
She waits. Albus always came; the sedative she is always ran itself dry eventually, and only she can let him fall under the lull of the drug again. It’s always something that had amuses her, and she always had to hide her smug smile as she realizes he is completely under her control.
Sinking against the cool wood of the door, she puts her head in her hands. Albus is coming. She’s sure of it. His eyes open and full of emotion: full of pain. It’s terrifying to see her own eyes staring back at her that way. But it’s worse when he leaves. Because they go back to being dull. Lifeless. At least the emeralds shine when he’s in pain.
As he comes, he always enters so smoothly, almost like a snake. There is no grace, though. Always hunched and tired, as if the pain is too great to bear. And the eyes never fail to haunt her. They always did. He holds hold onto something -- the table, the door, her -- as if crushing everything stops him from feeling.
Everyone once in a while, Albus wants to feel. He presses so close against her, his lips so rough against hers. It’s almost painful. But she is always in control. His fingers intertwine with her hair, his lips peppering her neck with kisses, but she is the one who holds the power. It isn’t even a game, a struggle for power; she is in complete control. It is perfect. They are perfect for each other. He is hers. And in a way, she is his.
But why isn’t he coming? He needs her. Albus always needs her. Before she knows it, tears stream down her face. Because no matter how much she tries to ignore it, Albus means something to her. It is the control. She needs control.
And now she is powerless.
Albus stares at the door. Surely she is there; she always is. Right? His hand reaches out, wanting so badly to open the door, to receive the numbness. Feeling is agonizing; it claws at his insides, it suffocates him, it sets his blood on fire. But something stops him. Sighing, he feels himself slide against the door, wincing when the back of his head connects with it. Albus can still feel the dried blood, and his mind flits to the afternoon.
He was walking back from his lesson, keeping his head down, trying to ignore the laughter and the jeers of the boys by the lake. Maybe they wouldn’t notice him today, he thought. Breathing raggedly from a mixture of fear and hope, Albus had seen the door to the Entrance Hall. He was so close. Suddenly, there was a yank on Albus’s neck, and the green and silver scarf became as tight as a noose. Albus smelt rancid breath as the boy’s nose became inches away from his.
“Where do you think you’re going, snake? I heard you destroyed our dormitory last night,” he sneered. Albus’s eyes flitted to the red and gold scarf that sat loosely around the boy’s neck. Within seconds, he seemed to multiply. There were five of them.
“You need to make up better excuses if you want to blatantly attack me,” Albus shot back quietly. He turned to walk away, but Albus was yanked back.
“No,” one of his cronies said. “Don’t you want to play, Potter?”
“He can’t even be called a Potter,” another joined in. Albus’s hand instinctively wrapped around his wand he braced himself for a fight. The one holding him saw, and before Albus could react he was thrown off his feet. There was a gash on his cheek, and warm blood slid down Albus’s face onto the snow.
“Look what you did,” one of them sneered. “You’ve marred the snow with your filthy blood.”
Of course, Albus didn’t reply. He just stood up quietly, his wand and arm limp at his side. But this time, when Albus saw the jet of light, he put up a shield.
The shield didn’t stop them from charging. As the wand was knocked out of his hand along with the air in his lungs, Albus saw a crowd start to gather. There was pity on some faces, interest on others, and disgust on a few. A lone figure remained by the Entrance Hall, leaning against a wall. It was the head boy, his own brother, just standing there, watching.
There was no time to dwell on the matter. Fuelled by the cheers and the crowd, Albus felt himself thrown through the air again, his head colliding with a tree. Black dots swam in front of his eyes, but he shakily stood up. The boys were advancing again, but Albus, even without a wand, set up a new shield, one that had stopped them entirely. It was their turn to fly backwards. Albus was about to cast a spell of his own when he saw a mass of fiery hair storm away from the scene, flanked by two others.
Albus just watched as she stormed up to his brother, gesturing wildly. Anger bubbled deep inside; he didn’t need help. Albus could fend for himself. But while he was distracted, he had let the shield die. And again, Albus collided with snow. But this time he wasn’t able to get up. Black was creeping into the edge of his vision.
“Fifty points from Gryffindor!” a voice boomed. Of course. It was James.
“What the hell, mate?” one of them protested, but as Albus slowly stood up, ignoring the spinning sensation, he saw the anger in James. A smile slowly crept up Al’s face, but he wasn’t exactly sure why. This wouldn’t change anything.
“Sixty points, then. You were dueling. And ten points from Slytherin,” James added, nodding at Albus. Then he turned to the crowd. “If you all don’t clear off right now, I’m taking ten points for each of you.” Immediately, they all scampered away. So did the Gryffindors, shooting James odd looks. Then he turned on his brother. “What the fuck, Albus? You can’t just let them walk all over you.”
Albus tried to focus his eyes into a glare, but there was a dull pounding in his head and he couldn’t exactly stay focused on his brother. “I’m fine,” he spat. James forced himself to look into Albus’s eyes. They were glassy, dazed. But still dead. Completely and utterly lifeless.
“I’m not going to be here to protect you next year,” he reminded Albus. They both knew it would just get worse then. “You need to take care of yourself.”
“I’m fine, James, I don’t need your damn pity anymore,” Albus found himself saying, as James focused everywhere but Albus’s eyes. He wasn’t able to take looking at them anymore. No one could. Not even her.
James ran his hand through his hair, sighing. “I don’t have the fucking time for this right now. Just go to the hospital wing, yeah?”
All he received was a snort in reply, before Albus limped off.
Now Albus tries to feel the back of his head. Wincing, Albus realizes he should have listened to his brother. He found he wasn’t able to focus properly all day, even though he skived off the rest of his classes. And James was only trying to help. But it’s always the same. The pity. And Albus can’t take it.
It is always the same. Every single member in his family looks at him as if he is some stray dog. An outcast. The worst part is that it’s true. He is the snake amongst the lions. His father told him almost six years ago that it didn’t matter, but he lied.
And Albus chose Slytherin. He had actually believed his father. Now, Albus can’t help but wonder what would have happened if he had chosen Gryffindor. What is life like on the other side? But Albus isn’t a Gryffindor. He isn’t brave; he can’t even confront a few schoolyard bullies. He is weak.
This is why he needs to be numb. Albus can’t handle the anger, the resentment, the pain. He needs her. And Albus hates to admit it. She is stuck up, annoying, whiny, controlling, sometimes downright cruel, and plain looking, but he needs her. She sucks all the feeling out of Albus’s soul, leaving him blissfully numb.
That’s when it hits Albus like a ton of bricks. She doesn’t care for him; she just loves controlling him. Albus does anything and everything for her. How many times had he written her essays or run around like an errand boy? Red enters Albus’s vision. How dareshe? She’s just like the rest of them. They always want something: a punch bag, a scapegoat, an outcast. And he’s just a piece in her game.
Motivated by his anger, Albus slams the door open. He ignores the pain from the feeling, the poison running through his veins like fire. Albus is sick of being used.
When the door flies open, the door she is sitting against, she is knocked into the wall. Hiding her smug smile, she scrambles to her feet. He is here. But when she stands up, with only a cheap pine table in between them, she knows something is horribly wrong. His eyes, so much like her own, are ablaze with fury. It terrifies her; she’s never seen anyone like this. There is blood caking half of his face.
“Albus?” she asks quietly, her voice catching in her throat. She has no control over this, whatever it is. That’s the scariest part; she has no clue how this will end.
“You’re just like the rest of them.” His voice is cold, harsh and unforgiving. A tear slips down her face, and her heart sinks into her stomach. How could he have known?
“Albus, I--” she tries to explain. Another tear; she can’t lose him. As sick as it is, he is all she has. Her last bit of control. If she loses that, she has no idea what will happen.
“NO!” he roars, and she feels relieved there is a table separating them. “How could you? I trusted you! I kissed you! And it meant nothing! Nothing! I was just another fucking game piece to you! Someone to control. Right? Right!”
She is terrified. Shaking with fear as she sees how terrifying those darkened eyes are. She prefers them lifeless. This, this is…
But before she has a chance to respond, his temper snaps. The cheap pine table comes hurtling towards her, and it takes all she has not to scream and duck. She hears a crash as it hit the wall in the tiny room. And then there is nothing standing between Albus and her. In an instant, he is there, inches away. His hands grab her wrists as she tries to run away. She struggles and fights, but his grip is strong. Slowly, she gives in as he holds her there.
“I’m sorry,” she sobs, collapsing. Albus is the only thing holding her up. “Please, I-“
“Love me?” Albus finishes, laughing bitterly. “You couldn’t love anyone. You only love yourself.” With that, he shoves her wrists away from him. And Albus slips back into the night without another word. She calls after him, pleading, begging for him to come back. But he never does. In the pitch-blackness, she sits there sobbing.
Because he is wrong. He means something to her. She has no idea what, but Albus Potter means something. Otherwise it shouldn’t hurt so much right now. It is agonizing; her lungs failing her and feeling like she had been stabbed in the stomach.
When the morning light starts to penetrate the room, she is still there. And she knows why he needed to feel numb. Feeling is just too much to bear.
Winter falls and comes again. They haven’t spoken since, but the anger is gone. The deadness is back, and now her eyes mirror his. They are both dead. There is no more James to protect Albus, and there is hardly a day that passed without a jinx or a bruise. He doesn’t fight back, though, not even with his wandless magic. He refuses to be the freak. So he just takes it. And worse, they are coming after her, too. Because they know. Somehow, they know what she and Albus had shared. What they still share; they are still in the game.
And she, every time their eyes meet in the hall, she doesn’t understand why she feels nothing. It terrifies her; is he right? Does Albus really mean nothing to her? Albus notices her dilemma, just as she notices how he winces, and how his shoulders are hunched as if the world defeated him. She knows it, because that sly, blank little smile always slides onto his face.
But the time they spent together is over. He never apologizes for the bruises left on her wrists, and she never has the courage to talk to him. And the blunt and painful truth is that neither one cared. She still feels pain when she sees him tortured, mostly because no one else gives a damn, but it isn’t that overwhelming pain she expects. Probably because he doesn’t care either.
So many times she sees Albus’s face in the crowd as the jinxes fly at her. He wears the same little smirk that he always does in front of her, as if she deserves everything. But she doesn’t. She had cared about him before. Right?
Today is no different. But there is something different, a glint of something in his eyes as he went through the motions. Her eyes are drawn to the ugly scar on his cheek, and she finds herself wondering if his parents know. Hers don’t.
On her way back to her common room, they find her. And leave her bruised and confused in the corridor. Sobbing, she walks to the room. When she gets there, she finds she isn’t alone. Albus is lying on the ground, blood pooling around his wrists. His eyes are open, calm and as dead as always. She knows she should rush over, try to save him, but somehow she finds herself frozen in place.
The pain she should feel isn’t there. She doesn’t care that he is dying; instead she feels kind of glad, calm almost. Albus’s eyes meet her for a second, and he tries to reach out to her, but she just turns and walks away, the image of his lifeless eyes stuck in her brain. And now they are no longer a matching set.
Albus Potter is finally gone. He is filth, a Slytherin; he means nothing. Not to anyone, and especially not to her. But most importantly, she finally wins their game; in his moment of death, he breaks, reaches out to her. And she walks away; she doesn’t have to pretend to care anymore.
Fighting back a smile, she never looks back.
A/N: I know I should be writing RTS. But RL has been hectic and so has my other site. And writer's block has been involved in the delay, too. I actually like this fic, however dark it is, and I really hope you guys review. :) Tell me what you think.
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