Chapter 1 : Electrified Amber
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Electrified amber. That’s what he saw. The most wonderful mix of browns, golds, oranges and even a slight hint of violet mixed together with flecks of black. Swirls of amber colour swam before his eyes, overwhelming him, overpowering him, suffocating him. The swirls turned turbulent, violent slashes of angry oranges taking precedence, trying to scare him, trying to seduce him. And then a question. The quiet hum of a question in the chocolate brown that threatened to engulf everything.
He couldn’t help but stare into the bottomless depths. Depths that looked right past who he was, right past who he wanted to be and directly at everything he despised in himself. Those innocent eyes that knew so much yet knew so little. He blinked, looked away, submissive in his own right and daunting to her. To her he didn’t give in – on all accounts he still held her gaze, sneered in the same old manner. She didn’t see the surrender in his eyes. She never did; she probably never would.
She snapped at him, shattering something on the inside as she went. Every time it happened a little piece of him died, chipped away and was left discarded in the corridor where the latest encounter had taken place. He didn’t know why it had to be this way, and yet he was helpless to change it. Helpless to try. He could only dream of a day when she might look at him in some other way than she was now, the angry slashes of electrified gold speaking of her abhorrence, speaking volumes. He would never see her look at him the same way she did her precious Harry. All chocolate and honey, creamed in loving swirls and secret promises. No. That was something he would never experience.
And it killed him from the inside.
“Go back to your ‘Boy Who Should Never Have Lived’, Weasley.” He dismissed her coldly, a dull buzzing at the back of his head that he tried to blink away, tortured by the idea of stubby fingers on her velvet skin, touching her eruptive tresses, marring their colourful brilliance, sullying it with his touch. His disturbing green eyes clashing with her own demure yet husky amber electrified gaze.
He wanted to kill him. He wanted Harry gone forever, all temptation gone, taken away from her and erased from her mind. His eruptive redhead. His secret love, his own desire personified. But to do that would only ensure he could never touch her, never know her. He couldn’t jeopardize himself like that, wouldn’t sacrifice her happiness so.
“Shut the hell up, Malfoy!” she shouted back at him, her eyes dangerously close to his, drowning him in her gaze, fierce and hating all at once. He could drown in her sea of hate for hours and still not be satisfied. Never be satisfied. “Never speak of Harry like that! He is so much more than you ever could be. He is so much more than I could ever want.”
“How sweet,” he drawled, sneering at her in his trademark way, wincing inwardly. Cringing in his own cowardice. “Little Weasley has fallen in love with the poster child of goodness. The little cherub of light personified. Merlin forbid that I should ever laugh in the face of such a phenomenon.”
He couldn’t remember how long it had been anymore. His brain had stopped counting the amount of times that she tiptoed her lithe form across his mind, just out of his peripheral vision each day. He hadn’t seen her in months and yet he could still picture her smile, quirked to the side as she laughed at another of her brother’s antics perfectly, every visible dimple, freckle or spot imprinted into his memory.
His holidays were always hell, with a distant mother and a disappointed father. It didn’t matter, none of it did really. It wasn’t his life, he wasn’t allowed to live it. Destiny was predetermined, the sum of his entire being was all but planned, resting neatly in the palm of other people’s hands, other people’s whims. He was a pawn, not a knight. Naught more than a tool in a tailor’s shop, the means to an end.
He didn’t want to cling to the girl with such surety, such peace of mind, but he could not help it. Where everywhere else he was strong, in this one thing he was weak. Powerless. Devoid of any will whatsoever, and should he be asked to admit it he would have no choice but to confess. Such was the depth of his shortcoming.
She came then, as if drawn from his thoughts, fabricated by the pure need to look upon her. He saw her perfectly and knew then that it would never be enough. Nothing could ever be enough. Harried and cross, her glowing eyes were the first things he saw, searching the crowd in a frenzied fashion. She would never see him. He was tucked away in a small café on the side of Diagon Alley. No, she was too busy living to notice him over here in his squalid imitation of a life.
“Don’t even speak, Malfoy!” She held her hand up in front of her face as they walked closer towards each other.
“Whatever gave you the impression I wanted to speak to you, Weasel-breath?” he asked, pausing in front of her and raising an eyebrow in derision.
She glared up at him with her little amber eyes, electrifying every blood cell in his body and heating it up from the tepid temperature he was so accustomed to, barely enough to keep his heart pumping. He suppressed the need to wince at the onslaught of heat attacking his body, trying to make himself just keep on walking.
“What, no insults about my financial standing today, no verbal attacks about my family?”
For a moment he saw the flicker of doubt move across her face, so quick he may have imagined it. But her eyes betrayed her, never able to hide anything within their innocent depths. It was pain. It hurt.
He swallowed loudly, suddenly feeling sick to his gut. These, these quibbles they had, these arguments – they hurt her more than he’d thought. He hid behind them, finding solace in their malice, finding pain in their hostility, but taking comfort in their interaction. He needed them, but he hadn’t realized they affected her quite so much. These meaningless insults. He should have known.
And then he did something completely out of character. He shrugged. He relaxed his shoulders enough to lift them, drop them and sigh. He actually shrugged – a sign of nonchalance, not caring. He’d never shrugged before. And it looked as if it shook her bearings, too.
“Not today, Weasley,” he replied quietly. The civility in his voice was like another blow to the stomach. That could not have been his own voice, tight without the usual sarcasm and wit, surely? “Everyone needs a day off.”
Then he walked away. Afraid that he may have just betrayed everything that he was, everything he had tried to keep secret since before he could remember. Everything that could keep him under control.
“What do you want, Weasley?” He poured over his Potions textbook, trying in vain to block the strawberry scent of her shampoo that invaded his lungs as she lingered close. Too close.
“I want to talk to you.” She pulled a chair out and sat down stiffly, before resting her head upon her hand, revealing the lovely white column of her neck, so stark and beautiful. It moved from her finely molded chin down to her elegantly shaped neck, spreading out at the bottom to her collarbones and the white velvet that caressed the top of them. Then it went further, the sides moving to lovely shoulders hidden beneath black school robes – and not the only thing hidden beneath school robes, either. He swallowed hard.
“Say your piece then,” he snapped irritably. “I have homework to do.”
Again she seemed shock by the lack of insult or insinuation – just curt acknowledgment of her existence and it was more than enough to send her spiraling into confusion. He almost smiled wryly. Yes, he knew she existed. Most definitely.
“I just wanted to… well…” She faltered and he almost reached out to her. She’d never spoken to him in this way. He’d heard her, surely, but her tone was never used on him before. It was slightly more strained than that of what he’d heard her use with her Mudblood friend, or even Pitiful Potter for that matter, but it was still there.
He had trouble keeping himself from jumping to conclusions as he determined that she was concerned for him. That she actually cared enough, after everything he had done to prevent it or to disguise his own feelings, to push her away from him and squash any chance, to be concerned for him.
“You wanted to what, Weasley? This Potions homework won’t do itself.”
Ginny glared mulishly at him, angry that he had interrupted. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay,” she admitted, flushing slightly as she looked up at him. “You didn’t insult me like usual today… and though it was a nice change, I suppose, I was just worried… that maybe you were… ill, or something?”
“Ill?” he repeated, sounding amused. If it were a sickness, he thought, he would have found a cure for it by now.
“Yes, ill, Malfoy. I am neither illiterate nor deaf. I thought maybe you’d come down with something, or maybe you’d hit your head… it happens, you know. Would you like me to help you up to the Hosp—”
“I’m not ill, Weasley. Malfoy’s don’t get sick.”
“Of course not,” Ginny scoffed as she shook her head and obviously wondered what she’d been thinking to come over and try to converse with a Slytherin. As she moved to leave, her chair legs scraping along the floor, he grabbed her arm by impulse. He couldn’t stop himself and he almost regretted it as he felt the rush of heat as his blood vibrated.
“Is it that bad, Weasley?” he asked suddenly, quietly, taking in the consideration in the electrified amber eyes. “Is it so bad that I can be nice sometimes?”
She stopped moving, turning back to him and staring at him, shocked. She sank back into her chair, ignoring the fact that he was hanging onto her arm with a death grip. “Bad? No.”
“Then why? Why was it so shocking?” He couldn’t deny it. It was hurting. The idea that him being nice was such a shock. He knew it was ridiculous, he had fashioned his image on the very premise that he was heartless. The painless, horrible, aristocratic prat was a part he played and obviously played it skillfully. “Do I play the part too well?” he muttered, more to himself than to Ginny, but her eyes shot up to look at him with curiosity and he quickly realized his mistake. His eyes widened as his brain registered what he had said.
He dropped her arm as she made to touch it, perhaps to comfort him. Hastily he packed up his equipment, cursing his own stupidity. She knew! He didn’t even say goodbye as he exited the library hastily, ignoring the small call of ‘Draco’ escaping her lips and tearing something from him. He couldn’t let this happen, he couldn’t let her see. He’d promised himself. He was stronger than that.
He kept his promise. He hadn’t talked to her once since that night in the library. Had forced himself to ignore electrified amber as he went about his classes, his days, his life (if you could call it that). Only once had she tried to talk to him, making it easier, and perhaps even harder, to pretend she never existed. To pretend that nothing had happened in the library and to pretend that she had never got a glimpse of the real Draco Malfoy.
He carried on his days as it was meant to be – tormenting those less important than himself, denying himself the simplest of pleasures and obeying every order that was sent his way from his father.
School came and went. Exams much of the same. Soon he was home, in the big empty house with his mother and father and very few stimulating prospects for what his life was to become. He was to be initiated as a Death Eater the moment he left Hogwarts, the danger of bearing the mark whilst he remained under Dumbledore’s watchful eye was too great for the future right hand man of Lord Voldemort.
And that was what happened.
When he looked down upon the dark angry mark stained to his pale flesh like some kind of disease, it disgusted him. He’d never asked to be this person, he’d never asked to be anything other than Draco. And this wasn’t Draco. This was Malfoy, the Slytherin, the aristocrat, the spoilt child, the Death Eater. This was hell.
The attack, they told him, was to happen in her seventh year. The Dark Lord was quite through with Dumbledore’s coddling and was determined to prove it.
Tension was rife in the Wizarding world. Parents ushered their children from doorway to doorway, the skies were constantly overcast and dull, and the constant fear was like a bad smell in the air. Pungent and cloying, it clung to his clothes like a body odour.
Even the Weasleys, infamous for their happy outlook and chirpy humour, seemed notably more subdued. Arthur, particularly, looked out of sorts whenever Draco saw him at the Ministry whilst he accompanied his father. The looks of contempt sent his way had no effect, other than faint recognition of Ginny and her father’s likenesses. Their eyes, though. Their eyes were not the same.
An owl came. It was days later, perhaps, but it felt like years. ‘Seven days’, it said, and it wasn’t much but it was enough. It was the fastest seven days of his life, passing in an instant, as if he’d blinked and they’d simply disappeared.
He was sent in early, a liaison, under the pretense of visiting his old Head of House. Poor Severus, he had no idea. Draco had always understood him to be a trusted member of the Volderian movement, but apparently loyalties had been betrayed. He was not privy to the attack, and Draco’s visit he seemed to take as just that; a visit.
He should have felt victorious, he should have been proud. But he didn’t, and he wasn’t. He felt burdened, he felt guilty, he felt remorseful. Heck, he felt sacrificial.
He sat in respective calm as calamity erupted around him. Determined, he was, to finish the coffee his old Head of House had given him as the castle filled with black-robed, white-masked Death Eaters. He wasn’t going to do this on an empty stomach. Severus turned to look at him, his eyes sad and his shoulders slumped.
“It happens today,” the old Potions Master told him, rather than asked. Draco nodded.
He nodded again.
Draco sipped the last of the beverage and put the cup down, finally meeting Snape’s eyes. He would fight for only one thing, and despite everything, Severus knew he had nothing to fear from his past student. It was in his clouded grey eyes. He nodded and looked at Draco wistfully. And then he was gone.
Draco took one last deep breath, and followed.
He watched with calculating eyes as every student in the hall attempted to hide behind the staff table – except perhaps the Gryffindors, the foolhardy idiots. Few students stood side by side with teachers who could fight – despite all their measures, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was depressingly outnumbered.
He didn’t care for killing people. He didn’t care for inflicting pain. He shrugged as the first hex was thrown, followed by hundreds more. He didn’t care for watching Dumbledore fall to the floor either, and would play no part in his demise. Why, he didn’t even care for watching Harry die, as much as he hated the fellow student.
There was only one thing he really cared for, and the only reason he was present right now – making sure Ginny got out unscathed.
He searched frantically for electrified anger as the fighting became more widespread. What if she’s already…? He ran looking for her, dodging hexes and shouts of ‘Traitor!’ and other such obscenities. He didn’t care – the insults were like water off a duck’s back. He had only been traitorous for lack of anything else interesting to do, really.
And then she was there. An almost holy-like light from a high above window circled her as she lay over a fellow student, lost in the line of fire. He stayed where he was, watching silently as she raised her head and watched him.
Electrified amber wasn’t quite so sharp now – more like jaded amber. The innocence in those eyes, he concluded as she turned more fully to glare at him, was gone, replaced with something almost equally alluring. The glow of a woman. He still missed the innocence though, found himself suddenly wishing he could go back, return to that night in the library and redo it all. Maybe things would be different now? Maybe he wouldn’t be waiting for the life he was sick of playing already to be taken from him? Maybe it would be his arm she hung from and his eyes she smiled into?
But to her, this was his fault. Her anger was palpable and the electrified amber that he considered his was shooting sparks almost. She advanced upon him, every movement of her body screaming rage and betrayal. Then she slapped him. He didn’t care. The pain of her hand was nothing compared to the pain of her hate. He didn’t even flinch.
“You did this!” she screamed at him, electrified amber clouding with tears.
“I did.” He wasn’t going to deny it. He definitely did nothing to stop it.
“You admit it?”
“What else would you have me do?”
“I would have you die for what’s happening here today, Malfoy!”
He cocked his head to the side and had the audacity to look almost amused. “Ginny, it would have happened sometime. I’m only sorry you were here.”
“Why would you be sorry for that? I would have thought you’d be more sorry for dirtying your robes.” She gestured towards the large stain of blood that went down a whole arm and was still dripping to the floor ominously. She grimaced as she watched. He didn’t even acknowledge it was there.
“Draco!” He turned as he watched his father come up behind him, pointing his wand at her. Pointing his wand at the one thing that mattered to him. “Good job, boy. The Dark Lord will be proud of you.” He grinned sardonically at her. “He has unresolved issues with you, girl.” Lucius grabbed her harshly by the arm, dragging her along beside him, leaving Draco to do as he pleased. And he did.
He watched with surprise as his father’s lifeless figure slumped to the floor, his face no doubt covered in a shock not quite registered. His own wand was held in his hand, aimed at his father, who looked just as haughty and regal in death as he did in life.
She turned to look at him, shocked by his lack of emotion. “You… you killed your own father, Draco!” she said, he voice barely above a whisper. “Why did you do that?” she questioned as she stepped back towards him.
“He would have taken you to Voldemort.”
“So? Isn’t he your Master?”
“Not where you are concerned.”
She looked confused as he smiled at her, the first real smile to pass over him since he had been a small child. His smile was cut short, however, as he heard the shuffle and stumble, the muttered curse from a person whose voice he knew and recognized. Heard the intake of breath as he leaned in to plant a kiss upon satin lips. Heard the hiss of a wand being drawn from its sheath and the incantation of a Forbidden Curse.
As calm and as emotionless as he had always been he stepped in between Ginevra Weasley and the killing curse that was aimed at her from his own Aunt, Bellatrix, ignoring the pain as it hit him in the back and the scream from satin lips.
All he wanted to remember, as he gave his life this night, was the electrified amber that haunted him for most of his life. He could think of nothing better than to be haunted so in his afterlife, if there was one.