Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 1500 words
Summary: There is no greater reward in any rivalry or war than to stand over the defeated, limp form of your enemy and exercise your right to have mercy.
Beta: imadra_blue and pikacharma
Note: In spirit, this is a songfic to Vermillion Part II by Slipknot. No lyrics were harmed in this production, except for the one that was swiped for the title and one of Draco's lines. >.> Originally posted in k_to_da_izzle.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
As I lie here, dying, I can see clearly the moment it all could have gone differently.
In my mind's eye, I stand in that bathroom, Myrtle's reassuring whispers still in my ears, and through my tears I see you, bathed in light from the hallway behind you. Your shock is starker now, much starker than it was then -- I can see you did not expect this. I can see your hesitation. If I could go back and change it, I would have simply confessed, because in that time, at that place, you were the only living soul who seemed to care.
I took your concern for pity and I simply would not have you pity me. I hate you too much. It's like a stain across my consciousness and you are like a malignant thing, a scar that never heals, always there to remind me of my own inadequacy. Even my failure as a Death Eater is your fault, as is my impending death. I hope you are happy, wherever you are, you unimaginable bastard.
I know that voice; I've hated it long enough. I haven't got the strength to turn around and hex you -- so I just stay still, hoping you will take me for dead and leave me alone. I can feel my fingernails digging into the earth beneath my hands -- curious, that your presence would give me the strength to do that. The smell of sulphur is thicker now, like a dam has burst somewhere in this hell.
"Hermione, he's alive."
You meddlesome fool. It takes all of me to turn around and glare at you, and then my breath is caught in my throat and my heart stops for a moment because you are so fucking beautiful. Your eyes shine with a terrible, grim light and your shoulders are set like you've got something to be proud of. Sunlight breaks through the dark clouds behind you and it is as though there is a nimbus surrounding you, staining the rancid air of the valley crimson.
It's over, I realise. The war is over; you have won it for them. You can afford to be benevolent towards the losers. There is no greater reward in any rivalry or war, I suppose, than to stand over the defeated, limp form of your enemy and exercise your right to have mercy.
I owe you now. It's the first thought with which I awaken every morning in the St. Mungo's bed. It's the first thought I have before drifting off to sleep. You didn't just stab me in the mind, you twisted the knife, and you will keep doing so my whole life, won't you?
It's always cold here, and no one ever comes to visit.
They say I will never fully recover from the curse. The nightmares will eventually become sporadic, and my hands won't shake as badly as they do now. Everything will get better with time, but they're careful to remind me that I'll never be the same again. As if I need these fools to tell me that. I used to spend my days thinking about the future, now I'm glad if I can get through one day without succumbing to the madness that lurks around the edges of my mind.
They let me have the Prophet after two months, and the first thing I see is you, grinning up at me from the front page, your arm around that red-headed girlfriend of yours. "Harry Potter to wed Ginny Weasley!" How perfectly sickening. You might as well have married your best friend; she certainly looks just like him. I think I can see a part of me reflected in your eyes; your smile is dutiful but vacant and I wonder what must be going through your mind.
I'm released three weeks later, and I'm not sure if it's because they truly think they've done everything they could or because my father's account has run out. I don't ask. I had been expecting to be sent to Azkaban, but all I get are blank looks. I was a pawn in the war, and no one cares about the story I might have to tell, not with Dolohov and Aunt Bellatrix in their clutches.
The Manor's emptiness is forbidding; it's always cold here, no matter how much wood burns uselessly in the fireplace. My parents are long gone, rotting beneath many inches of earth tainted with their late Dark Lord's blood. My friends have scattered to the winds like the leaves I see dancing outside the drawing room window. I'm going to go mad here, I know, but I stay because I have nowhere else to go.
I dream of black silk sheets shining with new blood, of miscast curses and lost opportunities. I dream of closed doors and iron bars, of dragon flame and the ocean's wrath. There is always an underlying sense of dread, like a Dementor is watching over me while I sleep, and I wake up sweating and panicked, my heart leaping into my throat at the merest sound.
The worst nightmares are those about you. You smile at me, and every time you do, it's like the sunshine bursting through the clouds on the day you found me. You walk through my dreams surrounded by your crimson nimbus, the scar on your forehead shining with ominous light, your eyes full of dark lust for everything that isn't yours already. I'm pinned beneath you, screaming in blissful rage as your fingers dig into my arms and you close your eyes and move.
Soon enough, I find myself never wanting to wake from my dreams, and I know there must be something seriously wrong with me. Perhaps I should never have left St. Mungo's in the first place. I watch the early snow cover the grounds outside in a fine film of white; I count down the days until your wedding. As days blur into weeks and I begin to lose grip on where my nightmares end and where reality begins, I realise that the only solution is for me to face you, to remind myself of who you really are.
It's not as easy to find you as I think it would be but eventually there I am, standing outside a nondescript door in a decrepit building in South London. It smells like old cabbages and cat piss, but before I begin to wonder if my informant had lied to me, the door swings open and there you are. There is no crimson light around you and no fire in your eyes; your T-shirt has holes in it and your hair looks like a bird's nest.
"Malfoy?" Your eyebrows are raised so high that your spectacles ride up the bridge of your nose a little. You take a small step backwards and frown. "How did you find me? What do you want?"
After having been silent for weeks, I finally find my voice. "You ask too many questions, Potter." I want to put my hand on your chest and feel your heartbeat, but instead I simply step over the threshold. I've suddenly forgotten what I came here for, because here you are, and I'm short of breath.
And then you say, "Malfoy?"
And then you--
Then I step closer and feel your heart beating against my chest.
"Malfoy?" It's a puff of breath against my cheek and the door's still open but I don't care, don't mind, don't feel. I press my lips to yours and taste you, and it's only an afterthought that your mouth opens under mine, your tongue finds mine, because I knew this would happen. I knew you would do this, I knew you would pull me closer and shift just so, just so my right thigh's between your legs.
You taste like what must have been your dinner and there's nothing dreamlike about any of this, about your hands tearing at my robes, your teeth closing around my bottom lip, not quite hard enough to draw blood, but hard enough to bring tears to my eyes. You push me into a tiny, cramped kitchen and then--
And then you--
And then you say, "Malfoy?"
I'm standing with my foot raised over your threshold, and it feels like I am between two worlds again -- I honestly don't know if I'm dreaming or if any of this is actually happening. All I need to make this real is one more reason to bring my foot down on your side of the door.
"Make up your mind, Malfoy," you say with a tired sort of frown. "Come in or get out, but make it quick. The door's causing a draught and I'm cold."
I step inside and shut the door behind me, then realise I've never felt more normal in my life.
I know what I want now; the rest is a matter of tactics.