A/N; Chapter warnings for; violence, torture (Not explicit), character death. Explicit language, and disturbing themes. Proceed with caution.

This story is also (M/M) slash between the main two characters, which is the entirety of this story, if you happen to have any issues with this in 2020, please be cautioned now. Now without further ado, we welcome you on this journey of angst and pain.

Updates are every alternate Saturday. Next update Saturday, 11th April.

Enjoy xx

Elen and Tara


Chapter One; This Is How The World Ends

"This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper."

-T.S. ELIOT

...

As a child, one of the seldom things that Draco remembered indulging in without his parent's consent, was their marble floors. The dark stones contrasted their vast spacy halls and rooms quite nicely, complemented his mother's furniture, made the Manor cozier, somehow, despite their color, and coldness. Always impeccably clean.

Draco relished in them more than he ever did the moving portraits, valuable heirlooms, or his father's books. He wanted nothing more, as a child, than to take off his shoes and start skidding on the shiny, cooled floor in his socks.

He remembered sitting on the floor to play, just that once, the day he had gotten his new Quidditch action figures, because he wanted to see them walk, and the cool stones felt good against his skin. And so did the small clicking noises the figures made as they waddled in circles. There was no house-elf babysitting him at the time, he was six, perhaps seven, he felt proud of being old enough to be left alone.

His mother had seen though, she walked in on him eventually, sitting cross-legged on the ground, his clothes rumpled and his hair a mess as he gleefully leaned on his elbows to watch his toys play. She hadn't been pleased.

"You are a Malfoy, Draco," she had said curtly, her eyes narrowed in a way Draco had seen many times before. "Malfoys don't belong sprawled on the marble floor."

She had pulled him off the ground and taken him to the study, where she sat and intently watched him play, this time sullenly on the desk.

The memory passes him in an instant, a ghost of a vignette, and he blinks at the floor as if he's trying to blink away the blood. He can still smell it, the metallic tinge which had drenched the air, so strong he could taste it on his tongue. Salty, and metallic and filled with silent pain.

'Malfoys don't belong sprawled on the marble floor,' and yet she ended up there anyway, in the cruelest twist of fate. She ended up sprawled on her own marble floors, drenched in blood and writhing in pain. Draco could still see it, as if the image had been burned to the back of his eyelids. He could see the rivulets of red against his own bedroom floor, even though it didn't happen here at all. It happened in their main hall, just before their ballroom where Mother had thrown him a birthday party for his eleventh birthday, only a few short years ago.

His hands twitch by his sides and his chest heaves, slowly; he should stop thinking about this, he really should, but he cannot. The images cling to him, wrapped around his mind in their dark embrace, a stifling cloak.

His mother, lying on the floor, her hair drenched, no longer coiled in a graceful bun, and her face contorted in immense pain, the scene flashes before his eyes and then gets replaced by his mother again, young and firm, softly dragging him off the same floor, her jaw set and her head held up with pride.

He had watched, he hadn't done anything to stop it, he couldn't stop it even if he tried, Aunt Bella was known for her mean restraining charms, but he should have done something. Anything. It was his mother, being murdered, brutally torn apart before his eyes, and he should have done something.

He doesn't feel the sting of the slap, his head snaps to the left, and stays there, there's a sudden numbness upon his right cheek, a quiet kind of ringing in his ears, and his eyes shoot upwards, detaching themselves from the floor.

"Are you listening, Draco?" Aunt Bella's face is inches from his own, and he recoils back, but he can't go much further. Her hand is gripping his chin, nails digging in painfully. He doesn't answer. He wishes he could snap that bony wrist, the one which had flicked with such elegance as his mother twitched, her limbs flailing.

A sound escapes his throat. Small, and pathetic. His mother would have wrinkled her nose, and told him that Malfoys don't whimper; Draco has the urge to sneer at himself. Bellatrix's eyes narrow, almost as if she sees the thought in his head "Stop being a whimpering whelp, Draco," she snaps, reminding him now more than ever, that she used to be his mother's sister. Used to be.

"Are you listening?"

He meets her eyes.

"She was a traitor, don't you see?" Her hands tighten, and Draco vaguely wonders if he will have bruises later. She goes on, "She tried to betray the Dark Lord. Now, who would be foolish enough to try something like that?"

Draco tries to jerk away from her, but for such a frail-looking woman, for someone who has spent so many years in Azkaban, she is deceptively strong. Her fingers are cold, they remind him of the dementors that had swarmed Hogwarts in his third year. Not so funny now, he thinks. To make fun of Potter then; even though it's not a dementor he's facing, he almost wishes it were.

She leans in closer, and he can smell her reeking breath. The scent of rot and death clings to her like perfume, stifling, burning through his nostrils.

"She thought she could help take him down," she laughs, a high pitched, sharp sound. It hurts Draco's ears. "The Dark Lord, Draco," her eyes are intense, and their faces are almost touching now. He leans back, she continues, "The Dark Lord!" she barks out another short laugh, out of pure indignation and disbelief.

Draco wonders if she could feel him trembling beneath her hand. If she could see the undiluted hatred and raw terror in his eyes. She must have, he could feel it in every fiber of his being, how could she not see it?

She repeats, "Who could be foolish enough to do that?" finally leaning back, the grip on his chin never loosening.

Draco inhales sharply, and in a burst of courage, perhaps just as foolish as his mother, he yells, "SHE WAS YOUR SISTER!" His ears ring with the sheer loudness of his own voice, so loud it almost... almost drowns out his fear for a second. He's surprised by it, by that raw, raging emotion churning in his belly. He's never felt it before, he wants more of it, more of this little voice that whispers hatred and promises of revenge in his ears. Malfoys don't let their emotions get the better of themselves, but he is past caring.

His mother. HIS mother was dead.

The same hand holding his chin in place is the same hand responsible for his mother's death. It sickens him.

Bella regards him with the same cold eyes that regarded his mother a mere hour ago, as Bella stood over her, madness glinting in her eyes as she spewed curses and goaded them on with glee.

'You should be honored!' she'd said to Lucius, screeching each word with vigour. 'Honored that your treacherous wife is paying for her sins! Her name will not tarnish yours anymore, are you happy now, Lucius, are you?!'

His father had said nothing, he wasn't even looking at her, nor at his wife, and not the Dark Lord either, who was standing a few feet away, his arms crossed and his face twisted with sick amusement.

His mother's pain amused him, or more likely, Bella's fanatic antics did.

"She was no sister of mine," Bella hisses to him now, "A traitor! That's what she was!"

She surges forward again, seizing him against her chest, her eyes sternly glaring down at him. "I don't want to hear you say otherwise, do you hear me?" she says it with such ferocity that Draco feels the words being spat at him. Any other day, this would have outraged him, sent him off the rails, into an angry, spoiled rant, but he bears it now, doesn't reach up with his hand to wipe the spit off his face. He doesn't care. Or he is too scared. He can't tell.

"Lucius's brat better not make any more problems for our Lord, you saw him today Draco, didn't you? Do you think he would hesitate, even for a second, before cutting your pathetic being out of existence?" No, he won't. That was made very clear to him, and he won't forget it. He wouldn't be able to forget it even if he wanted to.

He's not hearing her anymore, he is hearing the words, but he's not processing the meaning, all he can see is his mother's body, finally prone but in no way content. She was dead. Draco didn't know that one could tell the difference between death and sleep so accurately, but he could have. His mother was a stiff, bleeding sack of flesh and bones and nothing more. She wasn't asleep, she was dead.

Had she been relieved? She'd screamed so loudly. Had she been relieved to finally escape, even if it was by means of death? He had been relieved; a small, tiny, shriveled up part of him had been relieved to finally hear her go silent. He would have gone insane if he had heard her scream any more. But mostly, he had been a lump of horror and denial.

"How could you?" His voice is a whisper this time, a stark contrast to his previous yelling. He sees Bella's eyes flash, and then- blinding agony. His mind blanks out. The pain rips through his body like lightning. Singeing each nerve ending, as if they're being severed with heated knives, it tips through the previous numb shock that had swaddled him in a safe cocoon of cold and empty ignorance.

It doesn't last long, not even long enough for him to start screaming properly, but at the same time, it lasts a lifetime. He's never felt this kind of pain before, never in his life had he thought this kind of suffering was even possible for the human body to endure. To feel and live through.

He's on the floor, not standing anymore, he sees the roof beneath narrowed slits, his body twitching occasionally as Bella finally points her wand to the floor, her face masked with indifference and mild disgust. Of course, she's disgusted, this kind of pain is nothing more than a mild sting to her.

She crouches by his face, her long nails grasping his disheveled hair with a stinging tug, she leans no further but pulls his head up to her mouth.

"You'll learn, Draco, won't you?" she's almost cooing, a sickening facade of affection and gentleness, and her fingers are twisting in his hair, and it should have hurt, but Draco cannot possibly compare the two pains, he's too far gone to care.

"You won't be like her; pathetic, useless, treacherous. You'll learn. Auntie Bella will teach you," she lets his head fall back against the ground with a distinguished thud and wipes her hands on her robes, stepping over him with a slight sneer.

With a sharp slash of her wand his door slams open, almost breaking off the hinges. Draco barely represses a flinch. She strides out, her robes billowing behind her in a whirl. He turns his head away and faces the roof again, noticing a very thin, faint crack in the corner.

He doesn't know how long he lays on the floor, staring at the crack, hypnotized by it, he has no concept of time and he cannot look out the window to form a haphazard guess, he doesn't want to, he could feed on the urge to just lay there, for eternity, not move, not talk, just exist...existing was proving to be strenuous enough by itself.

He's never been under that spell before. He'd seen others under it. He's seen it done on other people a few times. He knows what it can do, how it chases the sanity out of their minds, renders their limbs useless, the same way a dead body flails to a dancing jinx, but feeling it wasn't the same. It was not the same. His nerves, every fiber of his being coiled and screaming in agony.

It couldn't have been more than five seconds. This is what five seconds have done to him, and Draco had seen Muggles endure hours and hours of this, this summer alone. How did they endure it?

Because they couldn't do anything else.

The Crucio was gone, but the pain remained, serving as a warning, a sharp reminder, Bella's version of a slap on the wrist. Now with his mother gone Draco suspected that he will be receiving more than a few of those. The thought rises like a black cloud of terror and panic, of helplessness.

Merlin, he couldn't even imagine undergoing the curse one more time, not again, he has had enough of this curse to last him a lifetime; a dozen lifetimes. It was too much, he would die.

He is weak and pathetic, he knows that, he was raised like that, he wouldn't survive another thrashing. No matter how much he wills himself to be strong, to fight back, even as his own mother was killed before his eyes, he couldn't do anything, because the truth of the matter is... he's a coward.

And he'll always remain one.

He doesn't know how much time passes before he hears the door opening again. His eyes have fallen shut, and his breathing has evened out a little. But his limbs are still trembling. He can't stop it. He can't stop shaking.

He feels and hears his father's footsteps clicking against his bedroom floor, hears the door cringe as Lucius gently pushes the broken thing away. He's always been able to tell when it's his father, he always hears the third click, the sharp thud of his father's cane, oddly absent now as his father kneels before him, his hair in disarray and his own hands shaking. Draco had never seen them shake before. He hadn't seen a lot of things before today.

"She was too rough with you," Father mutters, his knees brushing against Draco's arm. Draco wants to retch.

He sees something shift in Father's eyes through narrowed lids. His muscles are still too sore for him to move. Lucius runs a hasty hand through his own hair, and gingerly clasps a hand around Draco's arm, his fingers feel cold and clammy through Draco's shirt.

"Come on," he says, coaxing Draco to sit up. "I'm calling a house-elf... To take care of you."

Draco feels like resisting him. "Father-" he wants to say more. Much more.

He wants to shout, and thrash, and spit at the hand holding his arm, hoisting him to his feet, he wants to curse his father and his father's father and his whole family, for allowing this, this disgrace, this invasion to happen in their own house, for watching and doing nothing as his Aunt murdered his mother, his father's wife, and then cast an unforgivable on him; but then he also wants to burrow his face into the man's chest and cry like a little boy as he had been allowed to do a few times in his childhood.

He feels as if he's short-circuiting, his mind shutting down in sparks and bangs. Suddenly he wishes that this was all a nasty dream. He hadn't thought of it before. But he wishes now.

'Just a dream. Please. ' he doesn't know who he's praying to. He doesn't care. He just wants this to end.

Lucius half carries him to his bed, not saying a thing as Draco grits his teeth and rides the dulled waves of pain with closed eyes. His sheets feel like heaven against his skin, soft and cool against the pins and needles stabbing him.

"I'm…" Lucius starts, but trails off, never finishing the rest of the sentence.

"I cannot stay," he says after a while and Draco finally peels his eyes open, just barely. It feels a lot harder than it should be. "I'm needed at the…" he hesitates for a beat, "Dark Lord's side."

"Mother," Draco says, yearning to see pain, guilt, something, flash in his father's eyes. He should be feeling something. His wife was dead. Mother was dead. He should be more than guilty, Father should be devastated. Father had loved Mother more than life itself. His mother had always said so.

'Your father only loves two people in this world, my dragon, you and me and nobody else. We're what matters to him," It had always made him feel special.

Lucius jumps away as if burned. Draco rejoices, if only for a second, in seeing the man flinch. He shouldn't be happy, he's devastated.

"Twinky," Father murmurs, the bed dipping momentarily as he stands once again. "Call her yourself,"

The man spares one last glance at his son and heads for the door.

"Don't…" he pauses, "Don't cause any trouble, Draco," his voice is so soft that Draco strains to hear it, he has never heard his father speak in that way. Hesitant, fidgeting.

He had never seen him grovel, and kiss another man's robes either.

So different from the confident hero he had built of the man in his head. Draco had spent his entire childhood worshiping a god that quivered at the sight of a monster.

Lucius leaves.

He is still in pain.

Draco doesn't call Twinky.