Prompt Set: 100.3
Prompt: 81) Shiver
Word Count: 2,373
Summary: When life becomes nothing more than pain, when distress and destruction take over your life and you don't know where to turn sometimes a simple act of kindness can be the only thing that brings you back from the brink of self-destruction.
Warnings: Mild mentions of death & violence, talk of sex.
Notes: The chapter index can be found here.
All there was turned out to be silence. But silence could be more deafening than any sound. It left your mind to wander into places you never thought possible. It was the emptiness that made it possible to hear your own heart beating, to consider your darkest deeds and your most secret desires. It was all consuming and freeing but at the same time suffocating and could drag out the worst parts of you, trying to suffocate the best.
Sitting alone in a silent room you could contemplate your fate and your destiny and try to find out just how much of what you do in your life is predestined. And sitting there he wondered if it was fate that had given him this life or if it was the choices he had made. Could he have lived a different life thus far had he opted to make up his own mind about so many things? Or would he have ended up in this spot no matter what he had done? Was his life nothing more than this great plan that he hadn’t been privy to?
The paleness of his skin had been covered on his arm by the mark that screamed to the world what he was: a Death Eater. He supposed he hadn’t really had a choice in the matter considering who his parents were. But he wondered sometimes if his parents had been different would he have made the choice to become what he was? Or would he have been more accepting?
Kindness was something he had never been taught to show to people who weren’t like himself. He knew that there had to be some kindness in him- even Dumbledore had seen good somewhere in him despite all of his actions. And yet here he sat with the mark that said otherwise branded onto his skin and he couldn’t help but wonder if the faith in him had been misplaced. What good could possible reside in a person who had chosen to join a group that was intent on the destruction of another group of people? Surely that was the opposite of kindness, the opposite of good.
Somehow, even after all he had done to her, Granger had managed to forgive him for most of what he had done. He knew there was no like for him hidden deep inside of her but he knew there had been forgiveness. He couldn’t understand the desire she had to forgive him for what he had done, but he had been thankful that someone he had treated so badly was kind enough to overlook all of his short comings and consider him no longer her enemy.
Somewhere upstairs he was almost positive his parents were sleeping soundly, the acts they had taken not weighing on them as his own actions had. How they could find serenity despite what they had done to others was beyond him, but he found himself envying their ability to block out all the evil that had been done.
The sound of floorboards creaking drew his attention. He took in a slow breath, waiting for the distinct sound of one of his parents coming down the stairs. But no such sound came and he began to wonder if all that thinking had started to drive him insane. And if it had was there any way back to sanity?
Outside the wind suddenly began to pick up, sending the fresh snow against the windows almost hard enough to sound like pellets. Pulling his wand out of his pocket he waved it barely moving his lips. Sparks erupted in the fire place before flames overtook the wood sending warmth into the rapidly freezing room and casting an eerie glow.
Soon, with the sound of the wind and the crackling wood filling the room he found his silence to be fleeting. And though he should have been thankful that the silence that had driven him into enough deep thought to disturb him was gone he found himself craving it again. It seemed that only in that silence and that madness could he manage to find any peace of mind.
So without even bothering to put out the fire he had just set himself he climbed out of the chair he had taken to sitting in so often in the last few months and tugged on his coat, making his way out into the snow. The cold stung his face at first, a bitterness that he found oddly comforting. Closing the heavy door behind him and then sticking his hands into his pockets to protect them from the cold he began making his way across the property searching for a little clarity. He was hoping desperately that the cold would stimulate something inside of his brain and give him the answers he never seemed able to find. And though the odds of that weren’t all that good it was the only idea he had at the moment.
The wind whipped around him sending snowflakes against him like pellets. His skin reddened both from the assault of the snow and the cold air itself until he could no longer feel his face and his nose felt like it was frozen solid. He fought against the natural desire to go inside and seek warmth. His determination was one thing that couldn’t be shaken. He knew without a doubt that of all the things that had changed, of all the things he was no longer sure of, his own ability to do things was one of the few things he had to rely on now.
Gazing behind him the dim light of the fire glowed softly through the window. From the distance he had traveled it seemed so miniscule that if he hadn’t been aware of what it was then he never would have had a clue. Narrowing his eyes against the assault of the weather he glanced around the property, trying now to decide where it was he was heading off to. But the cold wasn’t helping him think more clearly. If anything it was making things worse. And within a short period of time his vision began to blur and he found himself falling into the blanket of snow.
He couldn’t help but shiver despite being back inside of a warm building with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. Even as he breathed in the warmth and pulled the blanket more firmly around himself the chill seemed to just grow stronger and stronger. He knew, however, that it was lucky he had been found. If he had been out in that snow for too long there would be no doubt that he would have frozen to death.
The wood crackled and hissed as the fire consumed it, sending sparks precariously close to the carpeting. But each and every time he thought the house itself was going to set on fire from the flames they seemed to die out just before hitting the ground. But the sparks had become hypnotizing and no matter how much his vision started to blur he couldn’t bring himself to look away.
He felt the arm reach around him and hold a mug out to him before he could refocus his eyes and actually see the arm. He mumbled a small thank you as he took the mug that had been offered to him and cradled the warmth between his frozen hands. The steam flowing above the fluid became his new fascination and even as he was taking a sip of it and the warmth was flowing down his throat he couldn’t take his eyes off of the steam itself.
“You’re lucky I found you,” she said as she sat down across from him. Her dark blue sweater was almost black in the dim light and as she crossed her legs he noticed she had on red socks. Red, thick socks that didn’t match the sweater in any way or form but looked like they kept her significantly warm. “You could have frozen to death out there, you know.”
“I know.” It was the first thing that he had said at all that night. He hadn’t been speaking a lot in the last few weeks but he hadn’t spoken at all that day mostly because he had been lost in his own thoughts. Even when he and his family had sat down at the dinner table to eat together he hadn’t spoken a single word. He had merely eaten in silence as his parents shared little stories about their days and their friends- at least the ones that hadn’t gone to Azkaban for their crimes.
“What were you doing out in that snow anyway?” Sliding closer to the edge of her chair she leaned forward, resting her arms on top of her knees and pressing her body weight onto it. Her hair fell over half of her face as she did this and she shook it away with little effort, eyes fixed intently on his face. “Didn’t you know how dangerous it could be to wander around in this cold?”
“I knew.” Of course he had known. Of all the things he was stupid wasn’t one of them. Cruel and a liar and vile he could admit to being but stupid he wasn’t. But the danger hadn’t really crossed his mind when he went out that night. All he had wanted was quiet and to think. And yet he hadn’t managed to find either. Just an extreme chill that wouldn’t seem to go away.
“You knew I was coming to check on you, didn’t you? I know I sent an owl.”
“Then maybe deep down you knew I’d find you out there if anything happened, hmm?” She smiled slightly, eyes shining in the firelight.
For the past month she had taken it upon herself to check on him every once and a while to be sure that he was doing okay. He wasn’t sure why she had opted to do so but he wasn’t about to turn away the company. Especially now that all he seemed to have was his parents- and now he couldn’t find any way to relate to them anymore. He still loved them no matter what they had done or what they were but he couldn’t seem to relate to them anymore.
So she would come to his home almost every other night to make sure that he was doing alright. Sometimes they would sit and speak; sometimes they would sit in silence. Many times she would talk and he would just listen to her. In truth he rarely knew what to even say to her, how to engage in a normal conversation with her. Normal conversation had never really been his forte.
Her smile was still there as she leaned back against her seat. “Would you like to spend the night here or go back home? You’re free to use the guest bedroom if you’d like it. The choice is yours. I don’t mind either way.”
He couldn’t answer her at first, merely sipping the hot tea she had given him in an effort to warm him from the inside. Now his gaze was fixed back onto the flames and the wood crackling in the fireplace. He was trying to think again, trying to make a decision.
“Draco?” He could hear her chair creak as she climbed out of it and padded her way across the floor in her thick red socks. Then she was crouching down in front of him and blocking his view of the fire, grasping his chin in her hand and forcing his gaze upon her face. He couldn’t help but flinch at the sudden contact and the feeling of her warm, warm fingers against his cold, pale skin. “Draco, what’s wrong? Are you feeling alright?”
“Fine,” he lied. But now he was transfixed on her eyes and found himself unable to look away from them no matter how hard he tried.
“You worry me sometimes, you know. You don’t take well enough care of yourself lately.”
“I’m fine.” The lie flowed off of his tongue like second nature. He truly as a natural born liar.
“No, you’re not. I know you’re not and so do you. You just don’t like to seem weak, do you? If you admitted you weren’t fine and that you needed help do you think that would make you weak? Everyone needs help sometimes, Draco. Every single person.”
He leaned back slightly, tugging his chin free from her grip but kept his eyes on hers as he took another sip of his tea. This wasn’t the first time she had given him this little speech. Maybe she thought if she repeated it enough she could drill it into his head. Like being that repetitive would make it easier for him accept he needed help and he was becoming too weak to take care of himself anymore.
“Draco, I want to help you, you know. I know you know I want to help you. You wouldn’t let me keep coming to talk to you if you didn’t. But I can’t help you if you won’t let me. You keep pushing me away, not letting me get inside of your world so I can find out how to help you. But I want to help you, Draco. I really do. You know that, right?”
“I know.” And he did know. And yet it wasn’t very comforting.
“Try to let me help you, Draco. Please?”
He nodded slightly then finished the rest of his drink in one quick, scorching gulp.
“Go sleep in the guest room, alright? Maybe you’ll feel better in the morning.”
He handed the mug back to her and stood slowly, keeping the blanket wrapped as tightly around him as he could, making his way out into the hall so he could try to sleep. Perhaps rest would make him feel better, would ease his mind and make him better able to think.
“Hmm?” He spun a bit quickly to look at her, nearly stumbling into the wall.
“You too, Granger.” And then he was down the hall and heading off to get some sleep and maybe find some clarity.