Chapter 6 : Confession
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Anaxandra bolted up in bed, gasping for air. Beads of sweat clung to her forehead and her hands were trembling. Scrambling to turn the light on, she flipped the switch across the room to find nothing disturbed. She hugged herself for a moment and leaned her back against the door to feel the coolness of the wood through the sweat soaked fabric of her t-shirt, but the shaking wouldn’t stop. Gingerly, she touched her throat. It was like she could still feel those hands wrapped around her neck, squeezing until they were sure the life had left her. The clock read about four in the morning, but Anaxandra was in no rush to go back to sleep or even stay in her room.
The cool hardwood floors felt good on the bottoms of her feet, though she was looking forward to the soft carpet of the living room. It was a luxury Anaxandra never had the chance to enjoy before. There was no point in having a carpet when her father would come home and dirty it up with all the muck and mud from the forest. Anaxandra and her brother were no better about it, either. She could only imagine her mother’s face if she had to clean a carpet.
She anxiously turned the lights on and opened the cupboard with the teacups. Why did they have to be so damn high? She reached her hand up and watched as a cup, very shakily, floated towards her. A grunting noise snapped her concentration, and the teacup dropped straight down, smashing into bits on the floor.
“Oi, Synder! Bloody hell, do you know what time it is!” A very cranky Draco exclaimed from the couch, his eyes void of sleep.
Anaxandra jumped at the sound of his voice and spun around. “Oh, I bloody well know what time it is! What are you even doing here! Scaring me like that, are you mad!” her voice cracked; the yelling made her throat hurt even worse.
“That’s none of your concern,” he growled back in annoyance, dismissing her question. Staggering out of his makeshift bed he groaned. “What are you doing awake anyways?”
Her arms hung loosely at her side and she let her head fall back. She sighed, “Always with the questions! Do you ever let up?”
Picking up the pieces of broken porcelain, she binned them and grabbed another cup to continue making her tea. Her back was turned to him, but she could feel the vibration of the floor with each step he took. She stirred her tea furiously, to the point where it was starting to slightly spill on to the counter. No matter how hard she tried to steady herself, she couldn’t stop her hands from shaking.
“Synder, just tell me what’s wrong.”
She remained silent, concentrating on nothing more than stabilizing her shaking hands.
“Nothing is wrong,” she spat, keeping her eyes on her spilling tea. The cup was almost half empty. “Bugger…” she muttered under her breath, slamming the teaspoon down on the counter.
“Something is obviously wrong, or else you wouldn’t be spilling your tea all over the kitchen counter like a clumsy fool at four in the morning.” He grabbed a kitchen towel hanging from the cooker and started cleaning up the mess she was making.
“What does it matter? You hate me anyways. You probably get some sick pleasure from seeing me like this.”
It looked as if he almost winced, but it came as fast as it went. He continued to wipe up the spilled liquid. “I don’t necessarily like you, but I certainly don’t hate you, Synder. Sure, you’re difficult, stubborn, and it takes almost all of my willpower to not put a silencing charm on you sometimes,” Draco said, throwing the rag in the sink, “but I don’t hate you.”
There was a heavy pause. Anaxandra walked out of the kitchen and slowly made her way to the window at the other end of the room. Her eager gaze was drawn upward at what she thought was a star, but it was just the blinking light of a passing plane. The curve of a frown was becoming apparent on her face as she hung her head in disappointment. “I just…”
She just left her family for dead. She just wanted to cry. She just wanted her life back.
"I miss my family," she blurted out. She didn’t care about the stupid rules, about bonding, personal information, or any of that nonsense because right now, she was hurting.
A pain in her chest radiated from her heart and spread to her neck, giving her the sensation that she couldn't breathe. All of the effort she put into suppressing the memory was wasted as she began piecing it back together again. Just hearing those screams forced her to relive every painful moment over and over while she just stood motionless, still looking out the window.
“I had a fight with my parents that morning.” Her voice quivered and a lump formed in her throat. “And it was so insignificant and unimportant that I can’t even remember what we fought about. But I can remember the way the air smelled after it stopped raining. I remember going out hunting with my brother for that evening’s supper, and I even remember cutting my finger on my skinning knife, but if you had to ask me what we fought about, I couldn’t answer you truthfully.”
She turned around and sat on her end of the couch, her arms crossed tightly over her chest. There was a sour smile that played on her lips. “I was so angry, just completely furious at them over whatever it was, that I told them I hated them. I screamed and threw things like I was a child. I was so naïve and selfish that I never bothered to apologize.”
“Parents and children fight, it’s normal. You can’t punish yourself over that.” Draco tried catching her gaze again, but she made it a point to keep staring out the window.
She ran a hand through her hair and frowned. “They helped me escape that night and I just left them there. After everything I did that day, they helped me.”
"Because they loved you."
Anaxandra kept looking out the window, staring into nothing. “I should have went back to help them. I should have fought alongside them, but I just kept running like a coward. I should have died with them.”
Silence enveloped the room. She refused to look at him for fear of what expression was on his face—disgust, perhaps. Draco didn’t seem the kind to pity a coward. Maybe he was disappointed or confused at how she handled the situation. Nevertheless, Anaxandra didn’t want to look and find out. She was already ashamed of herself; no matter how many times she told herself she needed to survive for them, she knew it was just an excuse that hid the undeniable truth—she should have burned with everything else.
“You know, this was a mistake. I shouldn’t have told you anything in the first place.” Anaxandra stood up after a long silence and started for her room, her eyes plastered to the ground in embarrassment. She was silently praying for a dreamless sleep and for her shame to disappear by sunrise.
“Anaxandra,” Draco called after her. “I, uh… think I owe you an explanation as to why I’m sleeping here.”
“You don’t need to do that, Malfoy,” she protested, shaking her head. “It’s really none of my business.”
“I know I don’t, and I know it’s not, but as far as I’m concerned this is your home for now and I can’t just intrude—” Draco started to turn a light shade of pink, but was interrupted in the middle of his confession.
“Goodnight, Draco.” Anaxandra interrupted him. She knew if he told her the reason he was here, they would be even, but she needed him to owe her something.
Climbing in bed, Anaxandra couldn’t help but notice that something happened tonight. For a whole hour, she and Draco had a civil conversation and existed in the same room without tearing each other’s throats out. He never once said one smart-aleck remark, he didn’t interrupt her, and he didn’t insult her; he just listened. And the expression on his face wasn’t disgust, confusion, or surprise like Anaxandra thought it would be—it was concern.
The second rule had been more than bent; it had been completely shattered.
Lying on the couch, Draco stared at the pitch-black ceiling of the living room. The silence was eerie. He let what Anaxandra just told him sink in. It was such a personal thing to tell a complete stranger, but she spoke as if they were familiar with each other. Just as he closed his eyes, he realized that she let him into her world for a moment, and the most he was going to do was tell her why he was sleeping on the couch. He knew what he really wanted to say. He wanted to be able to sympathize with her, relate to her. Then again, how was he supposed to tell someone that was beginning to trust him that he knew what it was like to have the blood of others on his hands? How was he supposed to tell her that he was also a coward, and that he ran just like she did?
Probably because he wouldn't. He couldn't open up like she did. His walls were too thick, growing stronger with age.
It was for the best. She didn't need to know.
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