The image of a teenager, curled up
in a chair by the fireplace, is one you associate with reflection and
thoughtfulness. You see tranquil contemplation in the picture of a teenager
reading. Neither of these two mental images applies to the vision you see
before you. You now know, that the tranquillity becomes disquieting when there
is a deep frown firmly in place on the face of the one you are watching; that
the thoughtfulness seems to be unsettlingly like obsession when you see his grey
eyes so fixated on the heavy tome.
(From the way he looks at it, you expect that book to hold, at the very least, the answers to anything from the meaning of life to the origin of it, and that of the universe.) You may even be tempted to use verbs that denote fear when you see that his left arm, in which his wand rests, is poised (and that seems to be subconscious) to hex anyone to come close to him. Or is it when you see his right hand is gripping the armrests of the chair so tightly, his knuckles are white even against the pale shade of his skin, and his nails are digging into the chair's covering?
You also notice that the book–even if it is handwritten on thick vellum–is obviously not only extremely lengthy, it must also be a difficult read. Even though you know this boy is very bright, clearly he must have been reading for days already, as you see he is very close to finishing it.
It is worrisome to you that this boy is so absorbed by his book, as that is a side of him you've never seen before. You know him to be passive-actively (a word you made up trying to describe what he does) observing his surroundings, whatever else he may be doing, but apart from the subconscious readiness of his wand, you don't think he realizes he is a part of a world beyond that book on his lap.
Not like Draco Malfoy at all.
As you keep watching, Draco relinquishes his death grip on the armrest to turn page after page, but each time his hand returns to the exact spot it used to be. (The subconscious precision deepens your rapidly growing feeling of apprehension.) When there are no more pages left to turn, Draco shuts the book with a decisive snap and stands. He puts the book on the chair. Then he fastens his cloak (has it been there all along, you can't help but wonder).
He strides right past you on his
way out of the common room – you don't know whether to thank your genes for
blending in with the surroundings so well or whatever is on his mind for
distracting him. It is this, primarily, that makes you decide to follow him. You
think he looks extremely vulnerable at the moment, and you believe that
combined with the absentmindedness may get him in trouble.
He is headed out of the dungeons, through the Great Hall and out to the grounds. It strikes you as odd, because you know Draco isn't fond of the winter cold. You've known him for over five years and never once has he voluntarily gone outside in the chill of winter–Draco Malfoy only braves the discomforts of the cold if he's going to Hogsmeade.
You do notice that even though he's not going to Hogsmeade, Draco clearly does have a destination. He is not merely wandering the grounds.
There is nagging voice in the back of your head and it's telling you to go back to the castle. It's telling you that you don't want to know what Draco is going to do, that it doesn't matter where he is going (not to you) and that you should forget seeing this altogether. You know that it is common sense talking, but curiosity is holding your mind hostage. No matter if it did kill the cat (you are perfectly aware that you are not, in fact, a cat).
You're making sure to follow him at a distance, even if that means you can't see him so clearly (in truth, your eyesight is not much better than Harry Potter's–you are far too proud to wear your glasses regardless). You are doing this, since you have deduced so far that it would be in your best interest to remain unnoticed by this other Draco Malfoy. You're Slytherin, and that means you don't have to consider why you think so: the assumption is reason enough, better safe than sorry.
When Draco finally does stop, apparently having reached his destination, you are on the fringes of the Forbidden Forest. It is quiet here, but it is not yet out of bounds for students. Grateful for the cover the trees can provide, you sneak closer to him (you momentarily consider climbing up the very old tree to your right, but decide against it: it doesn't provide ample cover). You're ten metres away and don't dare come closer (in an hour, you will think it was the best decision you have ever made). It is then that you notice that Draco is speaking with someone. Whoever it is, he has black hair. You think it might be Harry Potter, but as your eyesight really is poor, you're not sure.
You try to be completely quiet, but
you're too anxious. Hoping neither of the two will see you, you try to listen
to what is being said. 'I never told anyone about what you did to me,' Draco
says, his voice clear and confident.
You wonder what the other did to Draco that was bad enough to keep quiet about, because Draco always tells someone. You wouldn't be surprised if Draco has actually told someone the sky was blue. There is no answer from the other student. (For a moment you are worried that, in the quiet, they will be able to hear the beating of your heart.)
Draco continues, in the same tone that implies a contained rage, 'For a few hours I toyed with the idea that …' Draco stops (you wonder if you've missed a part of the conversation, because you have no idea what he's talking about), takes a breath and goes on, 'then I remembered you were immune.'
You're certain that confusion is driving the anxiety away because your breathing slows. If you squint, you think you can make out a thin brown line in Draco's right hand. Is that his wand? But Draco is left-handed….
Draco places his left hand on the
chest of his companion (directly over the heart, if you're not mistaken–and you
know you aren't mistaken because your mother is Muggle and she's a surgeon).
You are, although you don't know it quite yet, about to find out what "with the
passion of a thousand suns" means in semi-literal terms. 'If I deserved what
you've done to me; you deserve what I am about to do
to you. You can carry, for all to see, a mark for what you have made me carry
on the inside. You'll have an image on your chest to show the black of your
heart,' and when he says it like that, you know you will be content not knowing
what transpired between these two. 'Burn,' Draco whispers, but the word
Frighteningly, it is almost like a spell and you see a trail of molten snow freeze over in the wake of the word. Then you realize why you thought it was a spell: there is a silver aura around Draco, and a golden trail travelling from his chest down his left arm. His left arm, the end of which, you suddenly remember… Draco's left hand rests upon that other boy's chest. You follow the golden trail and see a brilliant, searing light emanating from between Draco's spread fingers and around his hand.
You can feel your stomach protest, but you're rooted to the ground. It is over ten seconds later, when Draco retracts his arm and the other crumples to the ground. 'I needed to get that off my chest,' Draco quips.
For a moment
you wonder how a sixteen-year-old boy can be so cruel, but then you see him
almost collapsing, as well. Draco leans against a tree for support, then slides down the trunk until he is sitting with his
knees drawn. Compassion urges you to go to him, but common sense has recovered
its rightful place in command of your mind. As fast and as silently you can,
you sprint back to the castle, hurry through the Great Hall, narrowly avoid
several collisions in the corridors and storm into the Slytherin common room.
Your eyes are immediately drawn to the chair by the fireplace. The book is still there. You want to know what it is, so you approach the chair. Encyclopédie de races magiques: la culture vilen, it says in flowing script. You know enough French to know this is an old edition of the excellent encyclopaedias by the Le Blanc publishing house and that it is about the Veela culture. When you open it, you also know what it is you saw. Feu de Passion is the name the encyclopaedia gives to it; "Fire of passion", there is no mistaking it. Your French isn't quite good enough to understand the text, but you see the woman in the picture. There is the same silver aura around her you saw around your Housemate earlier, the same golden trail from her chest to her hand, and the same searing light coming from her outstretched left hand.
When you riffle through the book, you see the text is blotchy in some places. When you examine the blotches more closely, you see they are tearstains.
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling has invented the settings, characters and so forth. She, Warner Bros., several publishing houses worldwide and who knows what else, hold the rights to the Harry Potter-universe. I am just a fan fiction writer, who does not intend to infringe on copyright or make money by using someone else's creation.
Author's notes: This has been swirling around in my head for a while, now. I think I've finally found the way to write it. It is entirely clear to me what "transpired between these two". However, I think that, story wise, this approach works better. It leaves everything from the character observing to the identity of the person with whom Draco is talking to what happened between him and Draco up to the reader's interpretation.
Do tell me what you think about this, as I crave constructive criticism so that I can improve my writing.
Many thanks to you, reader, for