"Grief is not as heavy as guilt,
But it takes more away."
Murmurs and quiet shuffling of students that hurried past him, and occasional ghost that would lurk in the halls, that was all the boy could recall before he had been summoned to the gloomy classroom. It had been unnaturally cold outside and the dungeons could be chilly enough to freeze one's bones especially in the darker hours of the winter.
"You know why you are called I assume" a male voice rang out, sending shivers down the boy's spine. Even though he was intimidated, he knew that he could not show any emotions. After all, emotions were for the weak.
That's what he'd been taught. It had now turned into his mantra he repeated every time he thought his face would betray him. In this war, one small mistake, one wrong word, one observing eye that will catch the flinching of his hand, one second that he let his guard down, the blink of an eye at the wrong time, everything could become costly with its price so high that even death would look like mercy.
"Yes," he replied in an impassive voice "Who is it this time?"
"Ah, glad you asked" the figure responded with his back still turned towards the boy. "Well, we found this second year causing some trouble." That's when he noticed another figure that had her back pressed against the wall of the room. The only sound that indicated her presence in the room was the shallow breaths that could be heard. "What do you think shall be done?" the man continued.
"A punishment should be enough to make sure that this will not be repeated." the boy suggested, hoping his reply was satisfactory.
"Well, then" the voice came back as the cloaked figure drew his wand pointing it at the cowering girl who stared at him with wide eyes fearing what was coming in her way.
"Crucio" the older man said with evident pleasure in the words that left his mouth.
The ear-piercing scream could be heard throughout the corridors. The boy felt horrified as he saw the girl taking curse after cures that were sent her way.
The boy had heard many people now, asking for forgiveness, begging for mercy, screaming till their lungs collapsed but something about the girl in front of him shook him to the core and without realizing or understanding what was happening he shouted "Stop". it had been the last straw for him. He could not do this anymore. he could not act like he didn't care, act like he was fine with all the people he had seen being tortured, fine watching people go through hell just to face another one.
"Looks like you finally stepped forward to prove how pathetic you are." Amycus Carrow said finally turning to face the pale boy.
"Well, at least I'm not hiding behind a mask and loyally following whatever orders the dark lord says like a loyal puppy wanting to please his master." the boy retorted. It was a low blow, but all he hoped was that the man had not heard the uncertainty in his voice. he knew what was coming next, and he feared it. he was not brave; he was not courageous, he was not a Gryffindor like the girl that lay barely conscious on the floor behind the older man.
"Tch, tch," Carrow said as he took a slow step forward. As much as the boy hated it, he visibly flinched as he felt the man's cold gaze stop at him, observing his every breath, calculating his every move. "Look at me" the voice commanded
Slowly but surely, the boy looked up his grey eyes meeting the stone-cold glare. He knew that his face had betrayed him. The public façade that he had taken years to build had crumbled down just moments before when he had looked at the Gryffindor girls' green eyes begging for him to save her.
"You will be a fun one to break," said Amycus gleefully as he pointed his wand towards the boy.
Soon enough, the corridors were filled with screams, but now they were of a boy who was sure of his fate. In a place the boy had considered his home, the echoes of him calling out for help was all that was heard. Had it been mere minutes, or hours, or days, he did not know. Drowning in self-hatred and barely awake, he heard the last spell being cast. All he could comprehend was two words and a flash of green light that took all his pain away.
Draco Malfoy woke up in a cold sweat, His body tangled in the sheets too soft on his skin with his hand under the pillow clutching the wand that was kept there. Scanning his room that had suddenly become too green for his liking, and realizing that there was no immediate threat, he slightly loosened his grip on the hawthorn wooden stick. It had become a sort of routine for the frail boy.
Almost every time he fell asleep, he would wake up screaming and crying. Sleeping with his wand had become his habit. Even though people said that now there were very few things that could harm them, he doubted that he would ever sleep feeling safe again.
He had very little idea about what was happening in the world that lay beyond the closed doors of the manor. It had been nearly two months since the war, or had it been more? He was sure that everyone was celebrating the death of the most powerful Dark Wizard, but he couldn't bring himself to join them. he couldn't bring himself to look at the faces of the people who had each lost something in the war but were still hopeful for a better future. Not when he had lost all his hope of survival a long time ago.
He found himself standing in front of the doors that led to the library. He did not remember getting up from his bed or making his way towards one of the oldest rooms of the manor. Pushing open the cold door he stepped inside. The fire blazed to life as soon as his presence was detected, the orange flames trying to fill the room with whatever bit of warmth they could provide. The books scattered around the table looked untouched since the last time that he had visited. It had been the same day the ministry official had come to inform him about the fate of his parents. Even though his father had been sent to Azkaban for a lifetime, his mother was cleared of all charges and had been declared not guilty. She was free now. But he didn't know how long it had been since then. All his time had merged into a long black story and he could hardly differentiate if he was awake or if it was another nightmare. His mother had not come home since the hearing, she had not visited; she did not check up on him to see if he was okay, if he was still sane, if he was still alive. But he did not feel the anger, the disappointment, the hurt. He felt nothing when he heard that his father was as good as dead. He was way past feeling any emotions.
He ventured deeper into the library. It was not as comfortable, as grand, as safe as it had been before. It was one of the fewest places that he had felt protected once in his life. But now it was just another room that reminded him of what his life had once been, of what he had once been.
Pacing past the shelves of books that contained more knowledge that anyone could ever want, he stopped short when his eyes fell on a door that stood beside one of the racks that contained books older than the manor itself. He faintly remembered his father once warning him about the room near the back of the library.
As, a young kid, he had always wanted to keep his father happy and proud and so he had promised him to not go looking into the restricted room. But now years later, what was another promise in front of all the promises that had been broken.
Draco placed his hand on the brass handle and felt the familiar sting of magic in his veins. A blood lock. It was one of the highest protective systems. Most of the Malfoy family vaults had a similar charm upon them to make sure that no one would enter.
After a few seconds of waiting, he twisted the handle, and the door swung open quietly revealing a room no bigger than the average classroom back at Hogwarts with its walls lined with shelves which held stacks of books, notes, and artifacts. On the back wall of the room was a fireplace with the Malfoy crest on its mantel. He drew his wand and cast a few spells to make sure that nothing was an immediate danger. Walking over to one of the shelves, he went through the titles of the books that seemed to be as old as Salazar itself. While he was looking at a seemingly interesting book, from the corner of his eyes, he saw something glinting. Swiftly turning towards the faintly visible object he observed that it looked to be hastily thrown away to one of the darker corners of the room.
"Lumos" he whispered as he took a cautious step towards the golden piece of jewelry which looked cursed under the white light coming from the tip of his wand. he carefully levitated the golden locket and placed it gently on top of one of the closer shelves.
Making sure that it was not a portkey or jinxed, he felt himself let out a breath. Looking closely at the locket, he realized the close resemblance of it with a time-turner. It was small and sparkly but the hourglass was empty of sand.
He hesitantly picked up the locket by its long chain and held it at eye level observing it. Still holding it in his hand he walked over to the stacks of books trying to find a clue about the strange locket. After trying to decrypt a few books, he still had no clue about the perplexing adornment.
Making a restless decision he delicately touched the empty glass with his forefinger. After realizing that nothing happened, he traced his finger down the glass. As his finger came in contact with the golden halos that surrounded the locket he felt something prick his fingertip. "Ouch," he said surprised.
He hurriedly drew his hand back, but it was too late. His blood had touched the glass and looked like it was being absorbed into the small piece of jewelry. hi picked up the pendent bewildered trying to comprehend what was happening. Before he could even muster up a single thought, he felt as if someone was tugging him behind. He was unable to move as he witnessed his surroundings change.
The pages of the books opened before him turned back rapidly, closed with a soft thud and flew back to its original positions. The next second he stood near the library's front as it rearranged itself. Soon enough he had lost track of all the scenes that came before him and faded out. The last thing that he recalled before the darkness reached out to him was a mass of bodies scattered in the great hall.