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Chapter 4 : Lonely
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Anaxandra sniffed, sitting up in bed. There were no other sounds aside from her breathing, no other people in the house aside from herself. She was truly alone for the first time in her life.
She really needed a strong cup of tea.
From the time it took to get herself dressed, go down the stairs, and walk down the short hallway—approximately three and a half minutes—her already dark mood took a sour turn.
“Don’t you have an office to be at?” she groaned.
“I have to tend to your well-being first,” Draco replied, never looking up from the Daily Prophet. He leaned against the counter, taking a short sip from his teacup. “Breakfast is on the table.”
A styrofoam box sat on the dining table, a plastic fork and knife lying next to it. Anaxandra opened it, revealing hash browns, an omelet, and bacon.
“Thank you,” she managed to say as affably as she could before taking a large bite out of her food.
“Look who learned their manners,” he pointed out, taking a quick glance at her before he went back to reading.
“I am a civil human being after all, Malfoy,” she replied, her mouth full of omelet.
“Says the woman eating as if her food will run away.”
She narrowed her eyes and scrunched her nose at the back of his thick, blonde head, shoveling another bite into her mouth.
“Just how long do I have to put up with you?” Anaxandra growled.
“So quick to be rid of me, Synder? And here I thought we were becoming the best of mates,” he said, folding his reading material and tucking it under his arm.
“Oh, grow up.”
Draco looked over at her and rolled his eyes. “I don’t know how long you’ll be here. It could be a few days or a few months, depending on what my boss says. Trust me, I don’t want to be here either.”
“I think we should establish some rules,” she suggested, tossing her plastic utensils in the bin.
Draco snorted and raised an eyebrow. “Rules?”
“Yes. Like you said, we could be here for months and there are a few things I want to get straight. I’ve come up with three conditions.”
“You know, for someone who is technically a prisoner, you're making an awful lot of demands."
She stood and walked in to the kitchen to make herself her own cup of tea, struggling to grab a teacup because of how high they were. Draco reached up to get her one, but she slapped his hand away. “I don’t need your help. Let’s start with that.”
Draco retracted his arm and went back to sipping his tea. “Alright, no need to be so testy.”
“I don’t expect us to be friends, so none of that ‘bonding’ bullshit will take place here.” Anaxandra wasn’t one for cursing, but the git wasn’t taking her seriously.
He shook his head in amusement. “I’m glad the feeling is mutual.”
“And the third condition,” she said, having finally grabbed a teacup and pouring in some hot water and tea leaves, “my room is my own personal space—”
“Where no boys are allowed,” he interrupted, mocking her. “And you’re telling me to grow up.”
“I’m being serious, Malfoy.”
“Synder, I don’t care to bother you while you’re in your room doing Merlin knows what,” he glanced at his watch, downed the rest of his tea, and grabbed his briefcase, “so long as you leave me in peace while I’m working down here.”
Anaxandra crossed her arms and looked at him sternly. “Fine.”
It was a dull autumn afternoon. The fallen leaves on the sidewalk ranged from deep red to bright yellow, and judging by the slight condensation on the windows, it was chilly outside. Anaxandra sat on her bed, hugged her knees to her chest and stared out of the window. The oversized knit sweater and leggings she was wearing were keeping her warm, seeing as the house didn’t have the best heating. Gray rain clouds formed in the distance when a tiny black bird landed on a branch just within her sight. It lingered, staring at her with its head cocked to the side as if analyzing her.
It had been two weeks since she had been found in those woods, cold and alone. It had been two weeks since she was taken to the Ministry and put in to protective custody, and if that wasn’t enough, the sight of that little bird reminded Anaxandra that it had been two weeks since she had even stepped outside. Here, she was trapped like a—well, the original saying is caged bird… But she wasn’t a bird: a small, weak thing that sang songs all day in hopes of raising its own spirits. No. That wasn’t how Anaxandra saw herself. She was not weak and she did not sing. She was an apex predator, a savage wolf… but when you strip away its freedom, its ability to hunt and prowl, and its pack, you take away what makes it a wolf and you are left with nothing but a mangy dog.
Surprisingly, Draco abided by her rules. It kept some sort of peace throughout the house and minimized the bickering. The third rule proved to be the most useful, along with her general detainment. It gave her time to think in a safe place while not having to worry about things like food and shelter. It was time she spent cultivating ways of trying to track down who killed her family, but she always hit the same dead end quickly. Her father and brother were the ones who knew all of the contacts and informants’ whereabouts, not her. She knew a few, but what if a few wasn't enough? These weren’t things that they had written down either, and even if they did it wouldn’t do her any good considering the current state of their home.
She thought long and hard about the next steps she needed to take, and there was one idea that had even the slightest chance of working. It wasn’t the brightest plan, but if she could get Draco to trust her enough to allow her access to records within the Ministry, then maybe she could track down the few informants she did have stashed away in her own personal knowledge. If she could lie well enough to her mother to convince her that it wasn’t her who had stepped in her garden and ruined her plants, then maybe she could lie her way through this as well. Again, this was a plan that had a very slim chance of working, seeing as her and Draco weren’t on the best of terms and the rules she had already laid out to him strictly stated that there would be no pleasantries exchanged, things could get complicated. Simply, the only obstacle in this plan was her.
The skies grew darker and droplets of water began panging against the window. The little bird did what Anaxandra longed for—it flew away.
Shivers crept up her spine as she felt the stillness of the room; stillness that meant she was alone. It had been what Anaxandra yearned for while being held here and yet it had become unsettling to her. She couldn’t take it anymore. She stood up and raced for her door, concluding that even Draco’s presence was more comfortable than the aching lonely of this room.
Upon entering the kitchen, Anaxandra saw a myriad of photographs, paperwork, and notes all littering the small dining table. Draco seemed to have fallen asleep and, by the looks of everything, he had been working tirelessly through the early morning—on his day off nonetheless. His head lay in his folded arms that rested upon the table; his breathing was steady and shallow. He twitched a bit. Watching as he would occasionally sigh, she felt something. It wasn’t her normal annoyance or anger towards him. She felt… the urge to make him coffee. Yes, because that's how normal people feel when they’ve spent two weeks with someone who fed them and kept them company, even though they annoyed them to no end. Not some sort of friendship or camaraderie, just the incessant urge to brew coffee.
The sound of the coffee cup meeting the table caused Draco to stir, his head wearily lifting to see the blurry swirl of steam swaying up and out of it. Anaxandra sat next to him and sipped from her own cup of tea.
“What time is it?” he asked, his voice cracking. He stretched his neck, and then proceeded to stretch his arms and back.
“About two in the afternoon,” she said quietly, taking another sip of her tea. “I made you some coffee, you should drink it.”
He reached for the mug, but then hesitated. “I see you’re trying to poison me.”
“Only with kindness.” The sweet tone in her voice was dripping with sarcasm.
Draco took a sip of coffee, his eyes slowly closing as he took another long drink before putting the mug down.
“Thank you,” he said, opening his eyes to look at her. “That is a damn good cup of coffee.”
Avoiding eye contact with him, she hastily looked over all the photographs on the table. “If you don’t mind me asking, what have you been working on all morning?”
Holding his coffee in one hand and a piece of paperwork in the other, Draco leaned back in his chair. “The same four cases I’ve been working for weeks now. I’ve been looking over the evidence, but I can’t find anything new.”
Anaxandra began examining the pictures herself, analyzing every photo carefully before one in particular caught her attention. She grabbed it and put it in front of her on the table. The picture was gruesome. A man was sprawled out on the floor of a forest, judging by the flora surrounding his body. There were deep lacerations in his chest area and chunks of flesh were missing from his neck and legs. Something didn’t seem quite right about the picture.
“Did they clean up the body in this picture?” she asked, turning the picture for Draco to see it clearly.
“No, they don’t touch the remains before photographing them and examining the scene, why?”
“It’s just… He has all these severe injuries. Wouldn’t you think there would be more blood?”
Draco was about to respond when Anaxandra’s stomach happened to growl very loudly.
She smiled. “It looks like doing your job for you really works up an appetite.”
“Real cheeky, aren’t you?” Draco sneered, putting his coat on and walking out the front door. “I’ll be back soon.”
The light drizzle of rain had grown into a heavy downpour. Anaxandra watched from the counter as raindrops crashed against the glass of the windows, and the trees outside slightly swayed. Her heart was racing. A smear of dark clouds and rain nearly flooded the streets. Pressing the palm of her hand against the window and feeling the vibrations of water smashing into the glass, she frowned. If there was anything she hated more, it was thunderstorms. Correction: if there was anything she hated more it was the fact that she was afraid of thunderstorms. Such a childish thing to be scared of and something her brother teased her for incessantly.
The wind was picking up and the trees outside shook violently. Leaves swirled around and smacked the window before flying off in to the tumultuous high-speed winds again. The low rumbles of an angry storm were in the distance when the lights in the house started flickering just slightly. As the flashes of lightning were becoming more frequent and the thunder began booming louder and louder, the scene outside began looking more like a smeared, gray watercolor painting.
Where in Merlin’s name was Draco?
The lights flickered off, and Anaxandra ran to the couch, letting out a whimper. The room was dark; she could have lit the fireplace for light, but she was too scared to move, let alone cast a spell. The lightning outside filled the room with bright light, but only for a moment. Anaxandra curled up in a ball, sank into the deepest part of the couch and stared at one spot on the floor of the living room, trying to steady her uneven breaths.
It was no more than two minutes of staring in one spot, the dividing line where the wooden floor of the kitchen met the soft carpet of the living room, that something caught Anaxandra’s eye. She went rigid, holding her breath. Without turning her head, her gaze shifted to the corner of the kitchen. The whole room was dark except for a few areas that were exposed to the lightning, but there was something about this corner of the room that made it so much darker…
The sound of the front door slamming open made her gasp. Anaxandra gripped her sweater so tightly with one hand that her knuckles went white, and her other hand was held over her mouth in surprise.
“Brilliant, the storm knocked out the lights. Lumos!” Draco walked in to the kitchen, his jumper dripping wet and making puddle on the floor. With his lit wand held up in one hand, he set the bag of food on the table and shook off his jumper. “Synder, this better be the best damn dinner you’ve ever had in your life after what I had to venture through to get it… Synder?”
He swept his gaze across the living area until his eyes settled on Anaxandra, sunk into the couch and clinging to her sweater for dear life. Another clap of thunder caused her to embarrassingly jump again.
“Are you afraid of the storm?” Draco asked in a surprised tone. “The brave Anaxandra Synder, Hunter extraordinaire, is scared of a little thunder?” He set the bag of food on the table, then his wand, to shake off his wet jacket.
“I’m not afraid,” Anaxandra declared, getting up from the couch and slowly walking over to the kitchen. The corner that was so dark was now just like any other corner of the kitchen. “I’m just…”
“Shaking with fear,” he said blatantly, an amused smirk playing on his face. "Now stop staring at the floor and come get this food."
Anaxandra narrowed her eyes at him and decided not to entertain him more by becoming angry. Instead, she grabbed the bag of food and opened the top box. Her nose scrunched in disgust at the food that, whatever it was, was tossed and mixed together in a rather disgusting looking mess.
“What is it?”
“Well, it was supposed to be a Cornish pasty. It wasn’t exactly a calm autumn breeze out there you know,” Draco replied, opening his own box, and finding the same tossed up mess.
Draco had lit a fire, and they sat down at opposite ends of the couch, slowly eating their food in silence. The fire was warm and welcoming. The storm still raged outside but Draco didn't complain about the flooding streets and Anaxandra didn't jump at the sound of thunder. There was a silent, but mutual feeling of presence between them. For the first time in weeks, neither of them felt alone.
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