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Chapter 4 : Chapter Four
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I don’t know how long that little ray of sunshine had been peaking in through the gap in the curtains or how long I had been looking at it. Nor do I know how long it took me to become aware of it.
I had been dreaming that I was swimming. Or rather, floating. I remember the water as being cool under my skin, like silk almost. It was light too. It felt great to be there, underneath the sunlight clouds. Which was strange, since I hated the sea.
I yawned and rubbed my knuckles into my eyes, trying to rub away the sleep. I felt as thought my body felt completely slowed down. That one night of sleep was enough for me to completely fall in love with this bed and never leave. I arched my back slightly and groaned when it clicked. Not used to the soft mattress suddenly in place of my cold cell floor.
The room looked untouched, apart from the fact that I had made a point of messing up the bed in my sleep. The carpets looked freshly hovered, On the far right, next to the door stood two bookcases, stretching from the floor to ceiling, piled high with books, Muggle books. I had a mental note to snoop through them later. The curtains where closed so I had no idea which way this bedroom was facing.
I fought the urge to burrow myself deeper into the covers and tried to remember what I was meant to be doing today.
Oh yes, saving the world from a potential dark fat wizard.
The idea was so atrocious to me that I began to laugh, rolling over and putting the blanket over my head. I grinned. I was going mental. My body was shaking with silent sobs until I felt my eyes dampen. Nothing was even funny anymore and I didn’t even know what I was laughing at but it felt good to laugh so I carried on.
I finally managed to compose myself, deciding it was probably time to get up. I threw the covers off my head and sat up, swinging my legs over the side of the bed. The carpet felt soft and inviting under my bed, my legs wobbling under me slightly as I stood up. Normally, If I was at home, I would have started to make my bed and plump my pillows and draw my curtains. But now, I preferred to keep them closed, I almost felt safer that way, Merlin knows that was waiting for me on the other side. I preferred the bed unmade too, It seemed to give the room some life.
I strode over to the big mahogany wardrobe that stood on the other side of the room, deciding that walking around in rags all the time probably was not going to do me any good. I wrenched the heavy wardrobe doors open to find it full with pretty little flowery dresses hung on little satin hangers. She must have been old, the muggle who used to live here. The thought of randomly invading her home and sleeping in her bed and then wearing her clothes sounded slightly preposterous, but I couldn’t exactly ask for her permission now could I. I chose the most simplest thing I could find, A plain white knee length dress, that was surprisingly, my size. I took it off the hanger and walked off to a door that I presumed was the bathroom. I was glad to find that it was. I never thought that the sight of a bathroom would make me almost squeal with glee. The big corner bath and the double sinks and the marble floor made me inwardly giggle. Maybe it was the fact that seeing such a sight started to make me feel almost normal again, or maybe it was the fact that the bathroom resembled that at Hogwarts. I felt a little pang in my heart at the thought of Hogwarts and I realised that I missed it dearly. But I knew that I could not afford to reminisce about the past, for it was the past. I had to focus on now and the future for now was all I really had and if I didn’t work fast enough, my ‘now’ would eventually run out.
I couldn’t afford to think, over analyse things. That would lead me to waste time.
I draped the dress over the back of a chair that stood in one corner of the bathroom and then switched the shower on. Ever since I had gotten here, I had been meaning to avoid mirrors. I did not want to see what had become of my appearance after four months of not even looking at my refection once. But I could not help myself or suppress the greed that rose inside me when I spotted myself in the big mirror above the sinks. I longed to look more, maybe looking at myself would help me remind myself of who I really was. Help me get back to normal somehow. I stepped forward until my torso was pressed firmly against the marble countertop. It took me a second before I even recognized myself and I realised that, I didn’t look much different from what I last remembered. My skin was still that same olive hue it had always been and my eyes were still wide set and brown. My hair, though now tangled and rough, was still also a dark shade of brown. But whilst I was still the same, I was different too. My lips were cracked and stained red. The dark circles under my eyes gave the illusion that my whole face was being dragged into a sunken frown. My right eye seemed to be supporting a rather nasty looking bruise and even though it was only small and healing quickly, it still made me realise that nothing was normal. In fact, this was anything but normal. And even though the girl that looked back at me was the girl that I had always been, Inside, I was different.
Mirrors should really think before they reflect.
Water spat at my legs from the shower behind me and it pulled me out of my thoughts. Hastily, I pulled the measly piece of cloth I had been made to wear for the last four months, over my head and tossed it to a corner of the bathroom. My whole body was sore and that fact became even more magnified when I stepped underneath the shower and every inch of my skin protested under the hot water. But the stream relaxed my muscles as it made its way down past my shoulders and down my legs. Giving my limbs some life somehow. I leaned against the cool tiled walls of the shower, letting the droplets hit and settle on my skin.
I remembered what had happened now, everything that had taken place yesterday. I remembered the hooded figure and the pain of the cruciatus curse. I remembered the nauseating feeling off apparating. Twice. And I remembered Draco. I remembered the wet grass we had landed on and the way he had been so good with his words, choosing them carefully. A part of me still liked to believe that he was tricking me in some way, It helped me stay more alert. I realised, that this was the first time I had even thought about him since I had woken up, he must be here somewhere and I would have to face him soon, regardless of whether or not I wanted too. The warm droplets formed steam as I stood there without moving at all. What was I doing? Taking Draco’s word? Draco, the same person who had went against all of his friends to become a death eater and quite frankly I wasn’t sure if I believed in all that ‘people can be redeemed’ nonsense. What exactly was his motive apart from the one he had told me last night? There had to be one. Right? He was a death eater for crying out loud! How much clearer could it be!
My skin was burning from the mellow droplets morphing into sharp little blades of fire. There was no shampoo around, Just a small bar of soap lying on the edge of the bathtub. I picked it up and started lathering it up into my hair, wincing slightly every time my fingers would get caught in a tangle. I scrubbed my body too. Thinking that maybe if some odd miracle occurred, all the bruises that decorated my stomach and thighs would disappear with the more soap I used. But it only ended up irritating them more and making my skin go red and raw. Sighing, I washed off the last of the suds out of my hair and off my body. Watching the soapy water swirl down the drain.
I turned the water off.
The dress smelt exactly how I had imagined an old woman to smell. Dry parchment, rose water, medicine and a nip of whisky to wash down the meds. I sighed, what else did I expect? I rummaged through the drawers of one of the dressers to find many heavy floral perfumes and a half used bottle of Chanel No.5. The perfume evaporated to a dark amber and the label yellowed and peeling. I tried not to think too much of the fact that the perfume reminded me of my mother and how she would hold me tightly in her arms and the scent would fill up my nose and calm me down. I tried not to think of the fact that today is December the 3rd. Her 37th birthday. I still remembered her embrace and her song she hummed whilst she cooked and the way she brushed my hair. I wondered how long it would be till all I remembered of her was the blurry version of who she once was. She was so bright and so brave. Even at the end.
I couldn’t allow myself to think.
Sighing, I pushed myself from my sitting position in front of the dresser and stood up, my hair was still wet and slightly dripping and I made a mental note to ask Draco for his wand so I could dry it. I crossed the room and walked out of the door, feeling not at all ready to face the day.
Downstairs, the house seemed empty and if it wasn’t for the light whispering of parchment coming from the front room, I would have thought that I was alone. I didn’t however, go straight to where I knew Draco was. Instead, I went to the kitchen instead, the deep twisting and growling and protests of hunger coming from my stomach were getting too hard to ignore.
I washed and then boiled the kettle that I had seen on the stove yesterday and after five minutes of searching, I found old teabags stored away in a box at the back of a cupboard. I had no milk and no sugar. They would have to do. But I certainly wasn’t complaining. After months of eating left over soggy wheat biscuits and water that always tasted a bit like copper. This was a treat.
I washed a mug and made my tea. It was time to face Draco.
I found him, as I had suspected, In the front room. He was sitting at a table infront of a big window, His head bowed over an old dusty looking book. I stood there, leaning against the doorframe with my cup of tea. Every few seconds he would turn a page of the book and his frown would get deeper and one of his hands, that rested on the table, would form an even tighter fist. After many minutes of me watching him and him not realizing I was there, I decided to clear my throat.
Draco’s head flicked up and his eyes flashed menacingly for a second before he saw that it was only me, and he relaxed again. Although, not entirely. Draco Malfoy always looked on edge. This was the first time, I realized, that I had ever actaully looked at him properly. In day light anyway. Like me, his face showed signs of tiredness and there was a tinge of purple under his eyes. His hair was longer now than it had ever been before and it was falling over his forehead and into his eyes. It looked as though he had finally abolished his use of hair gel. The light caught his lips at a rare angle, highlighting their slight hairpin curve.
I looked away, my stomach tightning.
“You’re awake” He stated the obvious.
I nodded again.
“Good, well, we need to talk”
I raised my eyebrows, “About?”
Draco sighed, leaning back against his chair, “This isn’t an holiday you know, this whole thing,” He made a circle with one of his hands, “Is about finding ‘The Grail’ or whatever it is that you have a duty of protecting, we need to find it and then destroy it before Yaxley even has a chance to lift his fat arse from his chair”
“Draco, I...I can’t just tell you, I mean, I can tell you things, But you need to know-
“I need you to cooperate” His voice was so many things. Tired. Annoyed. Menacing. “Start by sitting down”
I obliged, taking a seat on one of the many couches in front of the fireplaces, adjusting myself to face him, “You need to know, that I was only ever told a few things about it. My parents didn’t live long enough to tell me what I needed to know. All I was told that I must protect it with my life. My mother said, that when the times to take it from where it is hidden, I must go back to where she was raised. There I will be told everything I need to know”
Draco’s face seemed to relax, “So we just need to go back to your mother’s home?”
“It’s not that simple” I took a deep breath, “My mother, for one, was raised in France. And if we are ever going to get anywhere near finding it, you need to know that this thing is not ‘The Grail’ that has been endured in literature and art and it definitely wasn’t present at the last supper and it isn’t the vessel that has been hunted since the time of King Arthur. It’s something completely different...And way more dangerous”
Draco’s frown deepened, “Dangerous?”
“Dangerous” I repeated, “Draco...It’s a stone. Not like the philosophers stone or the stone that makes the deathly hallows. This stone was said to be born from the breath of Asclepius. He was a one of the most powerful health deities of the Greek gods. Asclepius had two attributes. A snake and a staff. The staff or the ‘Rob of Asclepius’ was said to have be decorated with a large emerald snake, and the Stone, was split into two. Both of the pieces embedded deep as the snake’s eyes. It remains a big symbol of medicine today”
Draco looked confused, “I still don’t understand how any of this makes the stone dangerous”
“Just let me finish” I sighed, “Anyway, the staff was seen as a being able to heal anything. Any sickness, any death. Dead bodies that came in contact with the staff were known to rise. As if awoken from a deep sleep. the snakes, were known to come to life and slither around on the floor where all the sick people would lie. It would look them in the eye with its own stone ones and the sickness was said to literally step out of the affected body and walk away”
“Like the basilisk? Except it gave life, not take it away”
“Zeus killed Asclepius with a thunderbolt after he found out that Asclepius had raised someone from the dead and accepted gold for it. Though my mother always said that he was killed because well, he pissed off Hades. He was bringing too many people back from the dead and Hades thought that no more spirits would come to the underworld so he simply asked Zeus to remove him,” I stopped for breath, “ After Asclepius' death, Zeus placed his body among the stars as the constellation opiuchus which basically means "the Serpent Holder"
“So what you’re saying is that the stones are in the sky?” He laughed.
I looked at him,“For our sake, I hope not” I couldn't help but smile either.
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