All Our Yesterdays
Disclaimer:Characters are not mine, or Flora's
Beta'd by: Calliandra and George Holt
Summary:A strong electrical storm, a mysterious death. Finding out who is the murderer is might be the key to all of Draco Malfoy's problems; or it might make him lose the only thing that has left - his life.
A/N:Well, this fic is originally written in Portuguese, and I'd like to thank Flora Fairfield, the author, for letting me translate it. And I also would like to thank my beta, Calliandra, who is helping me so much, and George, whose help is so precious...
It's rated R due to some violence and Draco's really dirty mouth, I just thought you should know.
I hope you enjoy the story!
Prologue - Blood, Rain and Death
Erick McDermontt was an old man. His hair was already white and the marks of the age were visible on his face - the wrinkles, the expression lines. His eyes couldn't see as before, but he stubbornly resisted going to a doctor. He didn't want to wear glasses. He was old, and thought it was too late to change anything in his life.
That day he had decided to go downtown. He needed to get his order of sheeps' ration. He had done that on Fridays, twice a month, for over ten years. He lived in a small town, practically a village, where changes weren't common, or wanted. His parents had lived in the same house he lived today - it wasn't huge or comfortable, but it was enough. It was his parents who had taught Erick to take care of the sheeps. His family had owned the small farm for centuries. Literally, for centuries. There was a time when he had thoughts about leaving, moving, trying a life somewhere else, but those thoughts had passed. No, in the end, Erick ended up doing exactly what everybody expected: those days of rebellion didn't last long.
Now, he lived alone. He never got married, he didn't have children, or brothers, or nephews or nieces. After his death, the farm would pass to another family's hands. Before then, however, he was taking care of everything. He had help from one of the boys from town who, God knows why, liked to hear the old man's stories, and used to work at the farm. In the clipping time, of course, he had to hire more people, but, other than that, there wasn't much to be done. It was a peaceful life, quiet, where every day seemed to take an eternity to pass.
At the end of that afternoon, while driving his old red truck-car through the desert road, Erick looked at the sky and saw it again: the clouds he feared since he put the ration in the car and left the city. There was a storm coming, and he rushed to get home before it. He needed to check and make sure that all the animals were safe and after that, check the windows and unplug all the electrical things in the house. He had many years of experience with storms like this, though, and they told him there wouldn't be enough time for preparations.
Before he arrived at the farm, the rain began to pour from the sky. In those desolate plains, the storms tended to be devastating. The water fell in thick sheets so strong that it was difficult for Erick to see the way. He was driving blind; the sky was dark as if it were night, and the world was lit in brief flashes by bolts of lightning. Maybe if he were a younger man -one who had never seen this phenomenon before- he might have been frightened, but, old as he was, Erick had witnessed such huge demonstrations of the force of nature many times before.
He didn't have his raincoat with him, so he couldn't avoid getting soaked after getting out of the car, where he parked in front of the door to the house. He took a quick look at the sheeps' shelter, and then, he risked a glance at the oak - the feared oak. It was that damn tree that gave him a bad reputation in the city. It rose imminent, right in the middle of his property, and even now, Erick had no idea of how it grew there. One day, in the morning, almost eleven years ago, he woke up and the tree simply was there. From night to day.
In a city where the changes are slow and gradual, having a tree that grows in less than twelve hours, which normally would take years, couldn't be a good thing. The oak was there, against all possibilities and explanations. Erick tried everything. A botanist came to study the phenomenon, lots of people came just to see it. The tree was examined in every possible way, and nobody found anything out of the ordinary with it. At least not until they tried to bring it down: manual saws, axes, and any cutting tool they used broke the minute it touched the wood. The electric saw simply blew up, wounding three people nearby, and, when they finally decided to use a tractor, it lost control, hitting the tree by its side instead of knocking it down and the driver died, thrown out of the seat. After this, they gave up. And Erick had to reconcile with the strange looks he still received in the city, even after so many years.
He tried to convince himself that, for every strange thing that happened around the oak, there was a rational explanation, but deep inside, he didn't believe that. There was something very weird, and very wrong. And the shivers he felt every time he looked at the tree didn't help. He avoided facing it, especially during a storm, when the devil seemed to free its demons to the world. But at the end of that afternoon his curiosity won over his fear, and Erick took a look in the oak's direction.
It happened at that exact moment. In a sinister synchronism, a lightning bolt struck the tree. It was an astounding vision; sky and earth connected during a quick flash of a twisted shining wire. Time seemed to freeze, and Erick withdrew, scared. The whole thing didn't last more than a heartbeat, but he stood a few seconds, motionless in the rain; all his tasks were forgotten while he waited for a reaction from the tree.
Slowly, his breathing returned to normal. The lightning had passed, and everything was alright in the world. Except, perhaps, for the tree in the middle of the meadow. It was cracked.
"Finally," Erick thought. Something was capable of destroying the damn oak. His body trembled with a shiver when he heard the sound of another thunder falling close. He knew it was madness. He knew he should get in and check the windows, and the outlets, and the sheep, but he couldn't make it. There was something more powerful acting there. Acting through him. Erick felt compelled to go to the tree. He needed to see the damage. Needed to know what happened.
It was at this moment that he saw her. The plain was once more illuminated by a flash of lightning. Erick's gaze was stuck on the tree. At first, there was nothing, and in the next moment, there she was. Delineated against the night, the silhouette of a woman. She seemed white, almost translucent, and was naked, standing still, erected, with her hands joined in front of her body, emanating a wave of almost concrete sadness. She looked like a ghost.
Erick knew he should turn around and run away. Every muscle in his body screamed at him to get inside the house, away from the mysteries of that tree. But he couldn't. Against his will, against his better instincts, he realized he was advancing toward the woman. He tried to tell himself that it was insane, that the oak had killed a man before, but he was deaf to the callings of his own conscience. He had to see it. Had to feel it.
The rain was falling heavily from the sky. The soil beneath his feet was now mud. It was difficult to walk, and to see. He didn't stop, though. Shortly after he had started walking, the world trembled with the sound of thunder. The meadow was illuminated by its lightning, but this time there was nothing more than a cracked tree planted in the earth. The woman was gone. He trembled.
He slowed down, but didn't stop. He needed to unmask that mystery once and for all. He needed to know what kind of apparition that was, what kind of ghost was scaring his sheeps at night. He lowered his head, to protect his tired
eyes from the water droplets that rained down harder and harder, and went ahead. He almost slipped on the soft mud once or twice, but he kept walking.
He passed through the fence and went up a small hill. The tree rose high, tall and foreboding. Beside it, was the place where the woman had appeared. Nothing was there.
The lightning had struck the oak at full force, practically breaking it in two. Erick walked a few more steps in the tree's direction and stumbled across something on the ground. Intrigued, he grabbed the object with trembling hands. It was a small piece of glass that definitively shouldn't have been there; he cut his finger on one of the sharp edges, and dropped it in surprise. The cut opened and bled, blood falling in drops onto the ground, joining the rain and mud. Erick didn't stop. "Only a few more steps," he repeated mentally. His legs unwillingly obeyed.
Just a few more innocent steps, he thought. Soon he reached the tree. And everything became clear. His scream raised through the night, among the rain and the thunders, above all the noises of the storm. A horrified scream.
Erick slid to the ground and knelt on the ground. There was sand coming out of the cracked tree, from the interior of its trunk. Sand. It wasn't a bright sand. It was gray, dark, and joined the water of rain and the mud and the blood. Sand. Erick extended his hand to touch it, but he couldn't. He felt his stomach churn. In all his life he had never seen such a scene. He stood up quickly and moved away only to fall on the ground again and vomit. Then, he managed to stand up and run. He ran back home. He slid in the slick mud and stumbled the whole the way, but he kept running and running until he arrived at the door and entered his house. Inside, he closed his eyes, trying to leave that terrible image outside. It was impossible. The image was seared in his mind and he would be pursued by it in his dreams until the day of his death.
Trembling, tired, soaking and scared to the bone, he extended his hand to the phone and dialed the number. He needed help. He needed the police. Because, on his property, inside of that damned tree, he had found the body of a woman. Naked, parched, and dead for a long time. A woman! For God's sake, a woman, buried in the sand, inside the oak. An image out of his worse nightmares, sent by a demon.
Erick was trembling. He couldn't speak on the phone. How could he tell that story? How could he say he finally figured out the secret of the mysterious oak? And how to say that it was worse than anything anyone could think of? Trembling, he used the wall as a support and slid to the floor, the phone firmly imprisoned against his chest. He closed his eyes and there she was: dead. Lost, without knowing what to do, or knowing if he was capable of doing anything, Erick stared at the white ceiling of his house, praying to all the saints he knew, trying to ignore the roars of the storm outside and the smell of death in the air. He couldn't. In that night, not all the prayers in the world would have been enough.