Chapter 1 : The Struggle
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This chapter is dedicated to Janice and Seth. You guys have great times together ahead of you. Have fun!
This is my first story! I hope you enjoy it.
Draco Malfoy sighed; the day had been a long one, most of his time spent pouring over tomes in the extensive St. Mungo's library. The attendant, which was, in fact, a very complex charm cast on an old chair which had fallen to pieces, had told him after many search phrases which Draco had jabbered incessantly to it that there were no books on the topics he was asking for. Nevertheless, Draco had spent his morning searching for a snippet of information on the disease, but none could be found. Finally, accepting the attendant's information, he slipped back into the ward, guilt and strain clouding his muddled mind.
Nodding a quick greeting to the nurse, he turned to face the pasty wall, running and rerunning the information in his head. He got bored quickly, feeling that with his current brain capacity being that of a cabbage there was no point in trying to think, let alone nitpick a tiny detail from a plethora of monotonous information, and focused on the mechanical beeps of the heart monitor charm.
He let it pulse into him, forming tunes and enthusing as to why it was made to be such a horrible sound that was far too much like a funeral dirge for his liking. It lulled him into a near sleeplike sense of relaxation, letting him forget about the stresses of the day.
It stopped. Widening his eyes to a point of almost pain, he whipped round.
“Nurse, check her vitals. Let’s hope that damn monitor charm just stopped working.” He said, controlling his voice as much as possible, trying not to let the stress show.
He watched as the nurse rushed forwards and placed a finger just under the patient’s jaw. That was all she was. A patient. The healer ran this through his mind on a loop. Just a patient. He ran a finger up the bridge of his lengthy nose, over his furrowed brow and over his forehead into his blond hair, using all his fingers to push it back.
He shifted his head slightly towards the nurse, pulling his hand out of his hair and trying to remain calm.
“Yes?” It came out strained, weak. He cursed himself.
“She’s dead, Healer.”
Draco felt all the air rush out of his lungs. He couldn’t breathe. He let himself slump into a chair. This shouldn’t have happened to her. She was defenceless. Innocent. The stress that had knotted up in his chest as he’d cared for the girl slid to the pit of his stomach, amassing into a dark, heavy ball, preventing any hope of breath. Guilt pangs racked through him. She was only a little older than… No. He couldn’t think of Scorpius right now. It couldn’t happen to him as well.
A noise from the hall made him aware that he needed to breathe. He steeled himself, opened his eyes, and dragged the air up through his nose. The nurse was watching him, uncertain, scared, and obviously shaken. He was new and in his early twenties, with one year left of healer training; this was his first death. Draco tried to tell him that it wasn’t his fault, but with his current mental capacity only allowing him to make basic movements, he gave what he hoped was a comforting, yet suitably sad smile, then focused on standing up and crossing the room to examine the girl. He walked slowly across the white and grey linoleum, his steps controlled. He stopped at the bed, resting his hands on the cold metal bar at the end. His wedding ring scraped against it.
The girl was small for six. Her blonde hair splayed around her head. Her face was calm; her eyes were open, pale and faded, but already scarred by the shocks of black liquid piercing into her iris. Dark blotches were blooming on her face, looking like bruises, and were surely developing all over her body by now.
She had finally succumbed; the curse, the disease, whatever it was, as Draco only knew that she’d been found unconscious by her parents in her room after going to Diagon alley for the day, had taken over. It was definitely magical, and seemed to be a sentient body, able to change form from solid to liquid, and possibly gas judging by the fact that the girl denied having consumed anything that day. It clumped together, growing out of her lungs and surrounding all her organs, eventually oozing up to her brain and down through to her hands and feet. It didn’t damage her much at first, just putting her into deep sleep. She woke up periodically throughout the two weeks in St. Mungo’s, and her parents had spoken to her on four occasions, discussing idle things with her. They knew she had an extremely small chance of pulling through, considering the doctors didn’t even know what it was, and it seemed to be highly capable of killing her, and so were trying to spend as much time with her as possible. St. Mungo’s had put Draco on the job as they knew that if anyone could help, it was him. All his attempts had been in vain, however, as nothing seemed to help. One time she woke up when he had been alone in the room. It was the hardest part of her treatment, before now, of the things he had to do.
She had asked him if she was going to die. After a pause, he had said that when she got out of hospital, she could play with his son, Scorpius. She smiled, content with his answer, and fell back into her coma.
Over the last day, the disease had started to hurt her, killing her from the inside out. She woke up from it, not comatose anymore and had told the night doctor that she was hurting, and it was pushing her out, trying to convey her feelings as well as she could with a six year old vocabulary. Healer Harper, the night doctor, told her to keep fighting; it was all they could do to see if it would stop attacking. Draco had come in around six in the morning to discuss with Dr Harper what to do with her. There were no spells or potions to stop it. All they could do was keep her strong by getting her to drink nutrient potions, and cast a charm over her so that each heartbeat was projected by a beeping noise.
Draco sighed. He left her bedside and turned towards the nurse, who, with the current shade of his skin, looked like he was trying to camouflage with the white cabinets behind him.
“Mr. Lynn, after you fill out the death forms, take the rest of the day off. Deaths are hard, especially your first.”
The nurse looked like he was going to burst into tears and pass out simultaneously. Draco patted his shoulder awkwardly before sweeping out of the room, glancing quickly at the dead girl.
Once outside of the private ward, Draco turned towards the nearby supply closet and slipped in, closing the door behind him. After muttering ‘Lumos’, he sat on an upturned bucket and breathed out heavily, massaging his temples. The girl was so young; she’d only been six. She’d barely lived. It could have easily been Scorpius, but it couldn’t, it really couldn’t. It couldn’t happen to Scorpius. He wouldn’t let it, because if it did, he’d probably go insane; he couldn’t lose his only son.
Draco groaned. He was going to have to tell her poor, poor parents. He was going to have to ruin their lives. Hopefully they would be able to pull themselves together in time to take care of their younger son, who had come to visit once or twice and had made his sister happier than ever. He remained in the supply cupboard for another ten minutes, muttering to himself and planning out his method to tell them of their loss.
“Mr. and Mrs. Gunner?” Draco asked, stepping into the drab waiting room as he straightened his tie, another fifteen minutes after he’d left the supply closet. He had had to calm himself down, and so took to memorising the players on the Appleby Arrows, his son’s favourite Quidditch team. Their names and positions were running through his head as if on a conveyor belt. His face was set carefully into a grave mask.
The couple were huddled together in a corner, their faces lined with worry and exhaustion, silently ignoring everyone else. Hope flashed across their faces as they looked up, a new energy filling their eyes before noticing the doctor’s expression.
“Do you mind if we step outside for a moment?” He held his hand towards the corridor. They hurried out of the door, gripping each other tightly. A hawk-like woman who had been sitting across from them sniffed and craned her head towards the door in what she had obviously hoped was a subtle fashion. Disgusted, Draco ran his wand over the door, saying ‘Muffliato’, and pronouncing it clearly so that the nosy old crone could understand what he was doing before closing the door, glaring at her with a repulsed expression he had practised often during his childhood through the glass. Satisfied with her look of outrage, he turned and followed the Gunners around the corner.
“Is she alright? Is our daughter alright? Have you found a way to heal her? Please tell me she’s alright!” Mrs Gunner begged, her tone bordering hysterical.
Draco took a deep breath, steadying himself.
“Well, get on with it, man!” Mr Gunner snapped.
“Your daughter. It took over her a few minutes ago. She’s… well, she’s dead sir. I’m very sorry for your loss. Would you like to see her? To say your goodbyes?” Draco cursed himself. His delivery of the news had been less than smooth. So much for his hurried practices.
Mrs. Gunner wailed. It was an animalistic sound, which ended as soon as it had started. Her face crumpled like a tin can as she turned to scream into Mr Gunner’s shoulder, who had gone pale and rigid, seeming to sink into himself. No emotion played on his face and he didn’t even acknowledge his wife’s shrieks of terror.
Draco looked at his feet politely. It wasn’t the first time he’d told someone of a loved one’s death, but the patient had never struck such a parallel with someone in his own life like this girl had. He wondered whether this would happen to him if anything were to happen to Scorpius. Would he become an emotionless carcass, too sucked into himself to care about his wife, the only thing in the world he cared about as much as his son? He felt his throat constricted and his eyes pricked with tears. He couldn’t ever lose his son; he wouldn’t forgive himself. He started to run the Arrows’ players through his head again.
Grimsby, Chaser, Left flank.
Park, Chaser, Centre flank.
Sanchez, Chaser, Right flank.
L. Cameron, Beater.
P. Cameron, Beater.
He was about to start on the second string players when Mr Gunner coughed. Draco let his eyes flicker back up to the couple, who were clinging onto each other. Draco was surprised that they had recovered so quickly but realised that they probably had been preparing themselves for the eventuality for a few days now. Mr Gunner hadn’t regained any of the colour in his face but had, at least, been able to provide his wife with some comfort, although she still looked like she was going to break down again.
“Can we see her, Healer Malfoy?” Mr Gunner asked, surprisingly calm and collected for a man who had just had the worst experience of his life. Draco felt a deep surge of respect for him.
“Of course, sir. Follow me.”
His voice was a little higher than usual. If Healer Kander heard him talk like this, he’d belittle Draco’s manhood for weeks. Not to mention everyone would think he openly cried after a patient died. Kander had a tendency to exaggerate stories, and be an arrogant prat in general. That was why Draco liked him.
Draco led the way, his brisk steps echoing through the empty corridors. At the ward, he stepped in to see Nurse Lynn sitting at the desk, scribbling on the form furiously. The girl was still on the bed, but her irises were now obsidian, and the bruises were far more pronounced, blooming all over her cheeks and throat in ominous tendrils.
“Oh!” Mrs Gunner gasped, holding her hand over her mouth.
She and her husband approached the bed warily.
“I’m very sorry, sir, ma’am, but I cannot permit you to touch your daughter as we don’t know what the disease can do. I… I really am very sorry.”
“I… my daughter… but doctor!” Mrs Gunner protested, but her husband shook his head.
“We don’t have to. It’s alright, really, Abigail, it’s going to be alright. We’ll make it somehow.” Mr Gunner said softly, wrapping his arm around her shoulder. He obviously was having trouble convincing himself of it along with his wife.
Mrs Gunner burst into tears again and Mr Gunner sat her down next to the bed, hugging her from behind so she couldn’t see that he was letting the tears fall.
Draco turned back towards Nurse Lynn, sitting next to him at the desk, angling himself completely away from the couple so they could have some privacy.
“Are you almost done with those forms?”
“Erm… yes, Healer. Could you check your wand to see when the monitor charm ended?”
“Alright.” Draco pulled his wand out of his pocket and said, quiet but clear,”Cantamen Hora Revelio.”
A flurry of a dull smoke-like substance poured out of his wand, which he had bought new after the war (He preferred his new Hazel and unicorn hair one anyway, it was more precise). The smoke flowed into an upright circle formation and silently solidified into a series of numbers around the edge of the round and a pair of arrows, which connected together at the middle; both pointed in near opposite directions. It was a floating clock, which was the most dismal and dry colour Draco had ever seen.
“Two thirty-six pm, Mr Lynn. On the dot.”
“Thanks.” He scribbled an extra line onto the form. ”Erm… Sir? Is it alright if I could leave now?”
“Yes, I don’t think we will have a need for you for anything else today. Good day.”
With a curt nod to the nurse, Draco turned to the form ahead of him, desperately trying to ignore the couple, who both seemed to be collapsing on the inside. He filled in the healer’s notes as slowly as he could, explaining in detail the process of Annie Gunner’s sickness and all the magical care they gave to her. Dragging a hand down the side of his face, he turned back to the Gunners and gazed at them for a moment before speaking.
“You’re welcome to stay with your daughter as long as you want, but afterwards come and see me in the waiting room. We need to discuss some things.”
They glanced at each other for a moment, each taking in the other’s expression, before Mrs Gunner made a small nod and her husband pivoted to face Draco.
“I think we’ve had enough time with Annie. We’ve been spending enough time with her for the last few days.”
It almost made Draco cry to realize that these parents had already accepted their daughter’s death before it had even happened.
“Healer Malfoy, would you very much mind if we just discussed whatever you wanted to discuss now, so we could get home and… tell our… our son?” Mr Gunner’s voice cracked as it dawned on him that he would have to tell their son that his sister was gone.
“Of course sir, ma’am.” Draco paused, running his fingers through his hair and adjusting his tie quickly. “We need to discuss your daughter’s body. I’m truly sorry too have to discuss this with you now, but we don’t know what was in her. We have to discuss body disposal with you.”
Mr Gunner paled again, but nodded, urging him to go on.
“We have three options; The first is a coffin that would cost fifty galleons, the second would be cremation, but inside a special capsule which would cost forty-five galleons, and the third… well…”
Draco glanced up at the couple, neither of whom seemed enthralled by the idea of paying almost fifty galleons.
“We would pay you ten galleons for us to use her body for research. It would be valuable information; it could prevent this from happening again. You could hold a memorial service, it would still put her soul to rest.”
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone ever again.” Mrs Gunner said, not more than a rasping whisper, but clear enough for her husband and Draco to hear.
“It probably is the best thing to do.” Said Mr Gunner, in a similar tone to his wife.
“I’ll leave you two to discuss it, yes? I’ll be right outside when you need me.”
“No, you don’t have to go, I think we’ve already made a decision.” Mr Gunner raised his eyebrows in question at Mrs Gunner, who nodded, a small smile playing on her lips; the first for a long time, Draco would wager.
“We’d like to leave her to the hospital. We wouldn’t want a disease like that wandering around without a cure.” Mrs Gunner said with a sad smile.
They were so brave. Even when they were wronged so badly and were hurt, they still acted for the greater good.
Unlike what he had done all those years ago, Draco reminded himself.
“Alright, thank you so much for this, really. It’ll help our research a huge amount. It’s very kind.” Draco tried to give them a smile, but it wouldn’t come.
“We’ll be going now. We have to get… to get home.” Mr Gunner seemed on the verge of tears again.
With a curt nod and a quiet ‘Thank you’ the Gunners were gone. Draco strode back over to the desk after watching the little girl for a second. At the corner there was a small pad of blue parchment with ‘↜14’ printed on the corner to note the ward number. Draco pulled out an auto-ink-quill from his breast pocket (he had taken inspiration from a muggle product and had cast a shaped protego charm along the lining of the pocket so his robes wouldn’t get smudged) and scribbled a quick note on the top sheet detailing the type of casing they would need to protect the girl’s body as they researched. He flicked his wand at the sheet and it hovered for a moment before folding itself up into a paper dart and zooming out of the door to the morgue.
After he’d submitted the paperwork, Draco walked down to reception to tell them he was leaving early. As he stepped out of the corridor, he noticed the woman at the reception with greying mousey hair and an orange top that was far too bright and ugly to be worn at a hospital. It wouldn’t exactly have helped any nauseous people feel better. He swallowed nervously before approaching the desk, straightening out his tie and trying to ignore the urge to run away.
“Afternoon, Bertha. Could you write a note for early leave for me?” Draco asked, straining to be as polite as possible.
“Ah, Healer Malfoy. Couldn’t survive a day of work? The family funds not keeping you rich enough? Oh, look at the dear, he only lasted till half past three.” Bertha smirked, making the wrinkly fat on her face spread and wobble in little globs. She looked even more frog-like than Umbridge when she smirked.
“And is there a reason other than ‘whiny, lazy slob without a work ethic’ that I can put on here?”
“Erm, I’ve had a death today. I don’t have the energy to treat another patient.” Draco ran his hand through his hair, trying to ignore how much Bertha Dwight bothered him.
“Oh dear, were you that bothered by all those deaths you caused in the war? Did you have to run off to go have a little nap in the middle?” Bertha said, leering at him with such malice in her eyes that Draco couldn’t look at her for a moment because he hated how much ill will she was directing at him.
People were watching now, some trying to be subtle, others staring openly. The man with a huge blue boil on his nose who was talking to a nurse tried to peer casually over the bulbous growth. They all wanted to watch the ex-Death Eater get taken down a couple pegs. As if he could get taken down any further.
“Whatever, Bertha. Just write down that I had a death, please.” He struggled to remain polite with the woman.
With a last poignant quirk of her eyebrow and twist of her mouth, the vulgarity of which making Draco's stomach twist into an unpleasant knot, she jotted down a note on a pad of blue parchment like in the wards. As she flicked her wand, Draco walked off, cheeks getting hot, trying not to squeak his shoes on the shiny floors and attract even more attention. He headed for the Healing room, muttering obscenities under his breath.
In the Healing room, he collected his briefcase from his locker and pulled off his robes, revealing a normal, if expensive looking, muggle suit. Tucking the robes into his locker, he poured himself some tea and sat in one of the comfier chairs far away from the few other healers who were enjoying their few minutes of freedom before they were called to another patient. As he took the first sip, Healer Kander clambered through the door and strode towards him.
Throwing himself into the chair nearest Draco, he flashed a grin as he made himself comfortable.
“Heinous bitch, isn’t she?” Kander said, cocking a dark eyebrow and grinning again.
“Who, Bertha? I hope she dies.”
Kander snorted. “I saw her whole little attack on you. A word of advice, don’t take style tips from her. Actually, if you did, she’d probably try and give you the worst articles of clothing she could find, which would be relatively decent.”
“I don’t see how this is funny. She just demeaned my past, which I openly admit is demeanable, but she did it in my workplace. I’ve worked for years to get a good reputation in here. Fat old skank.” He took another few sips of the tea.
“This was probably the best job she could get anyway. Hateful crabs like her don’t get good jobs. If she didn’t have it, she’d be at home yelling at kids and avada-ing small animals. You being here is, in fact, saving kids from being scarred for life and rescuing adorable animals. You should be proud.”
“I appreciate it Kander, but I really don’t feel like joking right now. I’ll see you tomorrow.” With a curt nod, Draco stood, setting his half empty tea on a coffee table, and left briskly.
Making sure he avoided the reception, he headed for the south apparition point. Few people ended their shift in the middle of the afternoon, so the apparition point was deserted. Draco pushed the powder blue door open and stepped through out into a damp roof space that was almost at ground level. It provided much appreciated light for some of the inner wards, leaking in through windows placed all the way up the walls to the proper roof. Peering up at the small square of light far above him, he thought desperately of his front yard back at the manor.
With a loud crack, he felt his stomach being hooked almost painfully as a dark sea of swirling energy erupted all around him. He spun, unable to take in a breath as it squeezed his head and chest. It ended soon enough, his feet finding the smooth inky stone of his front path.
The sky was a depressing ashy shade, spitting freezing drops of rain. Draco sniffed the air; it was damp and heavy, with a slight metallic edge. Typical England, Draco thought to himself, grimacing as an icy drop found its way down the collar of his shirt.
Draco turned to see his wife smiling at him quizzically from one of the herb beds.
“Why are you home so early? I thought you had the twelve hour shift? Is everything alright?” Astoria’s smile dropped off her face after noticing Draco’s grim demeanour.
“I’ll be fine dear, I just had a tough day. A patient died. I’m going to have a nap.” He sighed softly, imagining how the Gunners must have been welcomed when they came home, daughterless.
“Are you sure? I can come with you. Would you like anything to eat? A pepper-up potion, perhaps? Don’t worry darling, I’m sure you did all you could.” She placed the gardening tools she was holding on the grass and pulled Draco into a soft hug, which he couldn’t pull any warmth from, as much as he wanted to. Trying to read his expression, she pulled away, concern filling her eyes.
“I’m going to go finish collecting my Russroot; I need it to make my new perfume tomorrow. Shout if you need anything.”
Astoria ran a small business that she operated from the house. She made magical soaps and perfumes and other nice smelling things. Orders and Galleons were sent in and the products were sent out.
“Alright dear, have fun.” With a quick kiss on her cheek, he turned and left, feeling the strain of the day starting to pile up on him. He pushed the door open to be greeted with a sea of plastic toys filling the floor space of the front hall.
“Daddy!” A flash of blonde flew at his thigh. “Will you play with me?”
“Not right now, Scorp. I’m a bit tired. I’ll play with you later, okay?”
Draco lifted his son off his leg and pulled him up so their faces were at the same level and then pulled him into a tight hug. He wanted to be close to Scorpius. He let his son’s warm body wriggle into his shoulder. He never knew when something would happen to him.
“Daddy?” Scorpius said, snuggling into Draco’s shoulder. “Can we do the racecars for my birthday?”
Scorpius was referring to when they took the muggle car onto the motorway. He seemed to think he was driving the car and racing the other cars on the motorway.
“Yeah, Scorp, that sounds fun. Listen, I’ll play later, but I’m very tired, so I’m going to bed for a bit.” He smiled gently, hoping Scorpius wouldn’t kick up a fuss.
“Awww.” Scorpius pouted, fiddling with his fingers.
Draco placed him back down into the mess of toys. Ruffling Scorpius’ hair, which was so much like his own, he went up to his and Astoria’s room.
He sat on the side of their familiar green and black bed, and slipping his clothes off, he clambered under the covers.
His sleep had been fretful; he’d woken up several times, twisted in the sheets and too hot and sweaty to possibly be comfortable. His mind kept switching to memories of Annie Gunner; how short her life had been, how happy she was, how her parents had reacted. Not only was her family’s reaction worrying him, but how his own family would react if they lost Scorpius. Could he handle it? The anxiety was straining on his conscience enough that it felt like there was physical strain tightening around his skull.
The hate that the people in the reception at St Mungo’s had bothered him as well, and he was half nervous that he’d receive an owl informing him that no patients wanted to have him treat them anymore. The fact that they were still secretly uncomfortable with Draco not being in Azkaban and instead caring for people who had their lives in his hands was perfectly acceptable. It still aggravated him, though, as he’d shown his worth as a healer far more times than the average Healer five years older and had tried to keep his head down and live a normal life.
He pulled his eyes open again much later than when he had last woken. He felt a small pang of nausea as he shifted out of the bed, too uncomfortable to sleep anymore. Astoria was now in the bed, fast asleep, and it was dark outside. Wanting to cool down and ease the nausea, he padded out of the grand master bedroom, past Scorpius’ room, and down the corridor to the balcony. He unlatched the glass door as silently as he could and stepped out, closing it behind him.
Bitter gusts of wind pulled his thin cotton tee away from his chest, making him shiver. He gripped the ornate handrail, the lumping black paint providing enough traction for him to lean on it. Sighing, he finally let all the memories of the day wash over him and start to sink in.
The girl. Annie. She was so small when she died; so pale and fragile. She unintentionally caused more pain than Draco could imagine. The hollow ache in his chest sharpened whenever her death came to mind, as if while she slipped further into death, a bond between them pulled at all the organs in his chest, stretching and straining them, and hurting almost beyond belief. It brought tears to his eyes; the pain and the loss. He allowed them to slop over onto his face, hoping it would drain away some of the pain. But the pain stayed suspended in his chest like a jagged rock, scratching and stretching everything it could reach.
He watched the drops fall, facing the ground, following their clear brightness as they slowly were enveloped by the darkness below, one by one, drop by drop.
He missed her, as well. He thought it was silly, as he’d only taken care of her for two weeks and had only been in her presence while she was conscious for around seven hours, most of that today. He missed the occasional sighs she’d make, causing Nurse Lynn to panic and check her vitals before realising she was fine, and then blushing before returning to his notes for a class. He missed her sweet and calm demeanour whenever she woke up, often making idle conversation with him, describing a butterfly or asking whether she could play with Scorpius after she got out of the hospital, while Nurse Lynn ran for her parents. She was so sure that she would get out of the hospital, and with horror Draco realised he’d never let her.
Maybe it was his fault. The night healer had only been there to care for her; Draco himself was in charge of the research and method of treatment, but that, of course, had been nothing. Bitter disgust with himself poured into his brain. How could he have been so lazy? He must have been able to research harder. He hardly studied at all! They told him there were no books with the disease listed in it and he’d believed them. He’d bloody believed them. It was his fault; he was a worthless bastard, he didn’t deserve to get the hardest cases, as obviously he’d just end up killing the patient.
Maybe he should just throw himself over the ridiculous handrail headfirst onto the footpath far below, along with his tears. It would be far enough to kill him. He’d cried, he remembered.
How did he have a damn right to cry?
His anger and disgust at himself swelled and churned in his head. His grip tightened on the glossy lumps of the handrail, making his knuckles become even paler than he was before. He shivered in his t-shirt, desperate to get away from himself. It wasn’t as if anyone would actually care if he died. They’d probably be happy, seeing the ex-Death Eater gone from the world, anyway.
It would all go away after he went over. He wouldn’t have to deal with anything. Nothing at all. Everyone would be happier after a while.
But of course, he was a Slytherin, a sly voice injected into the back of his mind. A stupid, cowardly Slytherin. Of course he wouldn’t be able to do it. He couldn’t throw himself over the rail to smash on the tiles below. He’d never be a courageous enough. He was weak.
“Fucking weak!” He let the frustrated hiss slip out of his lips before he could stop it; the raw anger it contained, pulsing and painful, surprised him
That girl could have been alive if he hadn’t existed, hadn’t been so lazy to kill her. Those parents wouldn’t be having their hearts ripped and torn apart, never to be quite the same again. The brother wouldn’t be tossing, confused, in his bed, wondering why his sister had left him, oblivious and unable to understand why.
Astoria and Scorpius would be sad for awhile, yes, but they would come to realise that not only theirs, but everyone else’s, lives would be improved without him being there, without him infecting the world like a dark, choking shadow, plaguing people and places with upturned memories.
He wanted to do it. The murky infinity past the balcony was tantalising, calling to him, almost. It would be simple; a quick vault over the handrail would do it nicely. It wasn’t as daunting anymore. The image of himself, crushed and mangled, below the balcony, gave him a small jolt of remorse for the people who found him and had to clean him up along with an excitement which welled up in his chest. At least he could be finally of some use. Plant fertiliser. He grinned to himself, the sick, parasitical grimace sucking out his sanity. Fertilising plants was not quite the way he’d wanted to be remembered when he was younger.
He began to sob quietly through his horrific smile. He wasn’t sure why at first, but the disappointment in himself leaked through him, staining every part of him. He didn’t deserve to live. He was so, so ready to rid the world of him.
Letting the tears trace hot tracks down his cheeks, he smiled, tasting the salt. It was exhilarating, the feeling he got. It made him feel powerful, as if he could do anything, his imagination whipping through scenarios in his head, each more glorified and gory than the next. He was giddy with the excitement of finally doing something for the greater good. He took a ragged breath, realising with a twang of nostalgia that it would be one of the last he would take on earth. Adjusting his grip on the rail, he prepared to slip his leg over.
“Daddy?” A cautious voice broke Draco’s silence. “Daddy, what are you doing?”
“Oh!” He turned, so shocked for a moment that he was interrupted that he couldn’t think of anything else to say. What if Scorpius had arrived a moment later, in time to watch his father jump to his death? He felt the mad, excited feeling deflate, leaving him with a huge amount of shame, but without any drastically selfish conclusions. What had he almost done? The consequences he had far underestimated, the shame wearing him down. So stupid, he chastised himself.
“Hm?” Scorpius poked his thigh, gazing up at him wide eyes, an angelic innocence seeming to radiate from him.
“I… I… Well, erm, Scorpius, I couldn’t sleep. So I came to think out here for a while.” Smiling mischievously, he added, in an urgent whisper, “Don’t tell your mother.”
Scorpius cracked a small grin himself, excited to be in on his father’s secret.
“So, Scorpo. What’s up? Came here for a think as well?” Draco joked, the thought of Scorpius thinking what he had a few short minutes ago haunting him.
Scorpius giggled. “No, Daddy. Don’t be silly! Thinking is boring. I came to see you because I had a nightmare.” His grin faltered, leaving an insecure little boy grinding his toes into the floor.
“Oh, Scorpo. What was it about?” He asked, scooping his son up into his arms and beginning to carry him inside, shutting the balcony door behind him.
“Well, there was this evil ladybird, and it started chasing me because it wanted my sweetie! And I told it that the sweetie was mine, but he kept chasing me! He didn’t even say please!” With that, the troubling part of his tale told, Scorpius burst into tears, sobbing into Draco’s shoulder.
An hour later, Draco was sat on the side of his bed. After many new extraordinary plotlines of Scorpius’ dream were told, he had brought Scorpius into his and Astoria’s room, allowing him to share their bed as long as he was good. He changed quickly out of his clammy tee into another of an earthy brown before sliding into the bed next to his son, who was fast asleep.
He couldn’t say how long he watched Scorpius sleep, tracing the outline of his features with his eyes. After a while, his eyes flicked to Astoria’s face, tracing similar patterns. She smiled contentedly in her sleep, which he responded to gently, even though she would never know. Sighing, more content and less stressed than he had been in for a very long time, he decided to tell them something before he was sucked into sleep.
“You are the only reason I’m alive.” He whispered, surveying his small family unit one last time, and, smiling, he let himself lie back down on the downy pillows, ready to leave reality.
So. My first story!
A little dark. More than a little dark actually. :S
It was much darker than expected. I generally don’t like suicide contemplation fics. They’re too dramatic, too clichéd, whatever. I certainly never expected to write one!
I’m currently writing a humour novel, so I needed a little dark to balance out the light, if you can wipe off the cheese.
You see that little box down there? That irresistible little nugget? I would love, if you could be bothered, if you would write a teensy little review (Yes, we’ve all had a dilemma when you reach that box. The typical ‘laziness v. doing something you should do’ argument. )
Thanks for reading!