Chapter 15: Unfinished
All good things must come to an end, someone once said. Bad things have to reach an end as well. I suppose the great master of the quote forgot to mention that part.
Poor sandwich; it had reached its end prematurely. I never got a chance to find out whether it was good or bad.
"Damn it all. . ." I bit my bottom lip, flaring my nostrils at the piece of stale white bread now on the floor, peanut butter coated side down. "Unspreadable, useless food. . . I hate peanut butter."
Nevertheless, the dull-bladed knife went to my mouth like a lollypop. I licked the silver clean, very deliberately stabbing it back into the plastic jar with what I could only assume to be a wicked smirk on my face. I scraped another glob of the sweet substance out of the container and it fell off of the blade with a plop onto another waiting piece of cheap loaf bread. I didn't bother smearing it in, slapping yet another slice of white on top and picking the sandwich up. Without hesitation, I took a bite, following it with a satisfied nod before I tossed the remainder onto a stack of other peanut butter sandwiches on the kitchen's lone platter.
Four should be satisfactory, for the moment at least. I sat a bottle of water beside the sandwiches, then glanced back at the cupboard, sneering hatefully at a can of "Honey mustard flavor" Vienna sausages. I needed to get rid of those. I popped the top, pouring the cloned, strange smelling sausages into a bowl and wondering if they needed to be heated. Where was a house-elf when one needed one? Or a mum for that matter. . .
I sat the bowl beside the sandwiches.
My fingers were sticky, and I found myself looking down at my hands, distracted again by my palm. I scratched at the burnt skin, but the tough hide refused to peel. The scar would stay there, that was the way of magical ailments. Unlike the goose-egg sized lumps on my head, that marking would never heal.
A damn scar, an oval-shaped indention with a striking S swollen at its center: funny, really, that it would all end with a stupid scar. I think I've heard it called Karma before—if I understand the meaning fully, 'karma' just managed to give me an extra arse kicking at the ending. All those days spent poking fun at a scar, hating a scar, jealous of a scar. . .Merlin, I would never admitting that to that effing Potter, that I might have wished once-upon-a-time that I could have something like a scar that would tell the world how bloody important I was. But the point, all swearing aside, was that I never realized what a scar meant. It meant that someone couldn't always heal, but they could live, they could wear what was left over.
And it wasn't important at all. The scar, of course, not the continuing of one's life. Life was important, more so than I had realized when I'd bragged to my housemates about having the chance, dare I admit I said, privilege to take a man's.
My, how things change. . . But to hell with reflections—Malfoys did not reflect (perhaps that was one of those 'good things' ending).
I lifted the platter, glancing hungrily at the sandwiches as if the plate were a bed of half-dressed veelas. Control yourself, man!
"This is an addiction," I noted to the peanut butter, as the platter and I continued up the staircase. "A muggle addiction."
I reached the second floor, shaking my head at the observation. The first door was open, thankfully, because I did not fancy the idea of sitting down the food on a hallway that was currently occupied by an angry field mouse scolding me with a wrinkled nose.
"Are you awake yet?"
Coal black orbs appeared on the man's ashen face. Snape looked past me, glancing the green room, and then suddenly appearing to notice his position on the bed. The frantic actions quickly dissipated as the wizard collected himself, sitting up and straightening his black robes with a flourish.
"What. . . ah, yes. The cellar" he stated, glaring at me as if I were a disobedience child. His furrowed brow loosened. Snape had only regained consciousness once since the cellar incident, and he had been somewhat dazed at the time, cursing my bloodline, and spouting out nonsense about my underachievement as a potion's student. "Regulus. Is he gone?"
A mix of relief and frustration seemed to pass over his face. He glanced back up at me, staring into my eyes as if I had asked him a question instead of answering one.
"At least, I haven't seen him around. And the locket, it disintegrated," I added. "Do you remember it, what happened last night?"
"Of course, I remember!" he snapped. "You, Mr. Malfoy, directly disobeyed me. I specifically told you not to use. . ."
"Magic? Will you be taking off house points then, professor?" I attempted to sneer and failed. At his still expression, I held the platter out. "I made a bit of breakfast."
From the man's expression, I suspected that a second head may have just appeared on my shoulder. "Ah?"
The next sneer was successful. "The sausages are for you."
Snape gazed at them a moment, frowning, before deciding to ignore the unappealing distraction. "Yes, thoughtful . . . Are you feeling quite alright?" He glanced down at my burnt hand. "You were affected as well. . ."
"I was . . . tired, drained like. It felt like the life had been sucked out of me, more than the life maybe." I sat the platter down on the vanity and curled my hand into a fist to hide the mark. "Why did it do that? How did you break me from it?"
"Transference," Snape quickly answered. "You obviously activated Regulus's spell and my interference transferred its grasp from its intended source of power, from what I observed, your blood, and concentrated on the magic from my wand."
"Did you come up with that just now?" I shook my head. "Why would it matter if it used the magic in my blood or the magic from a wand? Why didn't you just let it have me?"
Snape's stare hardened. "Because you would have been killed if such a spell had progressed any further."
"But you lived. . ."
"That is where the transference came into play, I believe." Snape clasped his hands together, straightening as if preparing for a lecture.
"How do you know this? How can you know this?
"I knew Regulus very well in our youth," Snape answered, somewhat uneasily. He did not seem very willing to continue any exploration into his past, which made sense, considering that I had never heard the man discuss his own life. "I am very familiar with his various ideas on magical theory, as I was there to hear many of them first hand—that is why I realized the danger behind your actions almost immediately and attempted to stop you."
"But why would a spell be so dangerous, and why just for me?" I asked.
"I can only guess that Regulus must have initialized his original spell with a mixture of blood and controlled wand magic. Using magic without a wand as a catalyst leaves the wizard vulnerable but using blood, that which hosts the genetics of ones individual magic, wrecks havoc on a human body—a factor which has been documented for hundreds of years and that Regulus should have known would have fatal results."
Whether I succeed or not, this is goodbye. That was what Regulus had wrote, the final farewell, and that was what he had expected it to be, final.
"He knew he wouldn't make it through."
"Well the damned fool must have tried to live or the spell would have dissipated upon his departure—instead, he left the damned thing running for all of these years, all because he refused to give up his magic. Idiot. . ."
"Wait, what? Give up his magic?"
Give up that final piece. That must have been what Regulus met, his reason for still existing. He had not given everything that had been needed. He had meant to do good . . .But he hadn't been willing to give it his all in the end, his life, but not that which he deemed more than his life, that which he subconsciously would not allow to be robbed, his magic.
"Magic is found within the wizard, using a combination of different magicks with drain it to the point of nonexistence. A wizard would no longer be a wizard, essentially, but he would be alive. . ."
"I don't understand. It didn't drain me that much—I used magic directly after, and I used it again to get you upstairs. It didn't affect me. . ."
"Perhaps it did not affect your magic."
I hesitated, crossing my arms. "So, did it. . . Did it do something to you?"
Snape's brow furrowed as he turned, glancing the window seal where I'd sat his wand. He reached out, barely touching the wood with his fingertips. He closed his eyes in frustration before withdrawing his hand.
"It is as I suspected," he answered quietly.
"You mean, you're not a wizard anymore?"
He nodded slowly. "If my assumptions are correct . . . But who can tell if it is a permanent condition. We simply do not know enough about magical origin for me to know."
I took a seat on the opposite end of the bed.
"Silent at last?" Snape asked.
"What do you want me to say?" I snapped, suddenly angry at the wizard. "I didn't ask you to do that! I didn't ask you to interfere. Why did you jump in like that if you had the remotest idea of what would happen you? Does this have something to do with the agreement you had with my mother?"
Snape turned to me. "Explain to me, Mr. Malfoy, what exactly were you planning to do down there? Do you even realize what you've done—what side of the battle you're now fighting on?"
Shit! I had honestly been that stupid! I had been concentrating so hard on aiding Regulus that I had not even realized the consequences of my actions. I had just helped in dealing the Dark Lord a significant blow, and I had not even been aware that I was turning my back on all that I had tried to do over the past few years. On my family.
Yet, somehow, I didn't feel too bad about that. I didn't want to call a man my Lord. I didn't want to be forced to do dirty work, work that was below me. I didn't want to be a servant, but neither did I ever want to be associated with Potter's little fan group of do-gooders. And then there were my parents to consider.
"He's going to punish us, my family, isn't he?"
I didn't want to say kill. Saying that would make it true. I had no doubt of what Snape's answer would be. Of course, I was wrong. I was getting used to being wrong.
Snape frowned. "He already has."
I must have paled because the other man reached for my arm to stop me from the fit of panic that would have inevitably irrupted.
"Listen carefully to me, Draco. You have been missing from the wizarding community since the night we left. The Dark Lord did not arrange for you to come to this place. That was my doing. Albus Dumbledore asked me to find you a sanctuary, if all went as planned."
My eyes widened, and I stood again, attempting to digest the information Snape had just given me. Dumbledore asked. . . "Then you really are. . ."
"My loyalties to the Dark Lord slipped a very long time ago. The Dark Lord is still unaware that I am not acting on his orders.
My body seized, my eyes burning. I shook my head. "Explain to me what the fuck is going on," I hissed. "How could you be working for Dumbledore—he's dead, if you remember. You killed him."
Snape winced, as if some physical pain came from his reply. "He asked me to kill him. His reasons. . .are none of your concern. It is safer for you if you do not know the details of our arrangement." The man's expression hardened. "What you do need to know; however, is that the Dark Lord believes you have abandoned his ranks in fear of . . . punishment for your inability to complete the task he gave you. The Dark Lord has attempted to locate you, but you are not a priority, and he, in all honesty, doesn't not care."
"You idiot! He'll hurt my parents if I don't come forward! Do you think I'd let my mother be hurt like that? Oh, Salazar, he didn't. . . Did he do anything to her? Because I didn't show. . . If he did, I'll. . ."
"Desist, Mr. Malfoy!" Snape snapped. "Listen to me. Four days ago an article appeared in the Daily Prophet detailing the murder of Narcissa Malfoy by her recently escaped husband, Lucius Malfoy," Snape began. "Lucius, of course, confessed of the crime when he was recaptured. The Dark Lord has since abandoned the Malfoy family."
My blood ran cold. "What?"
"It was a lie, a lie that I generated and that your father believes to be true. The Dark Lord will not investigate far enough to learn of the memory charm that was cast on Lucius. Your mother is being held in a safe location. It would have been too great a risk to hide Lucius as well; however, he is perfectly safe in his current location. Since no body was discovered, there is also no chance of him being given the kiss."
"Safe as one can be. And Narcissa has been told that she will be reunited with her son, eventually."
"Then my mother knows about you? I can't believe she'd agree to this."
"Anything to save her son. She did not know about me until I brought her word that you were safe. She was willing to go along with anything after that."
I didn't like the wetness in my eyes. I didn't like hearing all of this. It wasn't the mystery I had been trying to solve; it was far away, away from this manor and Regulus. Things had been simpler when I was trying to reach the end of his story. But his was over now. Mine was the one being written.
I could have asked questions, mistrusted his information. Fought him for being what he was, a very good liar. I could have done many things. I could have apparated to the Dark Lord right then and there, confessed and hoped for mercy for turning in a spy.
"What happens now?"
The solemn atmosphere lifted. "Leave? Why the hell would I leave?"
"Because I must stay, and if I am to remain unseen I can not have another person performing magic in the vicinity."
"They can't track. . ."
"They can track. You know very well that there are always ways. I will remain here for now, and you must go."
"So, you're going to what? Live like a muggle?"
"For so long as it takes me to recover."
"Why should I leave then? I was here first! Go be a bloody muggle somewhere else," I spat. For some reason, I felt a deeper connection to this house than I had expected, and I didn't like the idea of leaving it, abandoning it.
"You must go. You cannot stay here. I saw you hand—do you not think others might see it. What would happen if the Dark Lord was to find out about such a mark on you? He would know. He would know what you did."
"And suddenly I would be worth the effort to hunt down," I concluded, my throat dry. If the Dark Lord knew, he would find me, no matter how far I hid. I glanced back up, my stomach dropping. "I can't run forever though. And my mother, she can't hide—not after you've told her that we would be reunited. And I don't know how the hell you're going to blend-in here."
"It isn't forever," Snape answered, "only until the war ends, Draco."
"But he'll win. Are you honestly expecting bloody Potter or Dumbledore's old groupies to be victorious? Here I was thinking you were a good liar."
"It doesn't matter what you believe, Draco. You only have one real choice in this."
I squeezed my fist, feeling my nails cut into my palm. A silence fell over the room, and I was aware of how hot my back felt, facing the window.
"Do you want a sandwich?"
Breakfast was enjoyable.
Snape told me to pack, a plain, small bag, and to only wear clothing that could be mistaken for that of muggles. I, too, would need to blend, for the time. Magic would be done sparingly and wizarding villages avoided. Muggle transportation would be nearly untraceable by those looking for me, so it was preferred. I didn't have a direction in sight, though I imagined I would be traveling west.
The glove on my hand felt tight, and it made my palm itch. I had found it upstairs. It was a short-cut quidditch glove made of a dark colored dragon skin that would not draw too much attention. I'd found it in the attic, in the trunk.
I'd found something else upstairs as well. It was a diary, but it was not the one I had read from earlier. From what I could gather, it was the one Regulus had mentioned from his childhood, the one he had been so careful with.
I sat down onto the front porch, dropping my bag in front of me. I flipped open the front of the green, wood-back diary, smiling at the first page. Two faces were smiling up at me from a photograph sloppily pasted to the back of the front cover. It was Regulus and Sirius, from their days of games and innocence. They were laughing up at me, Regulus with shoulders raised as his brother messed up his hair, mouthing 'Imp'. Obviously, the picture had been added before Regulus had received the speech from his father about hiding names and identities.
Sloppy, childish handwriting crossed the next page at a slant.
. . .Summer's my favorite time of year. I like it because my brother is home. I miss him when he's gone away to school. I guess he's really the only reason I like the summer house, otherwise I'd be scared here—I don't like ghosts much.
Today Sirius and I were playing hide and seek outside. I was counting when I thought I heard that older boy again, the one I saw here when I was little. Mum's always said not to be afraid of ghosts, but she also said that they couldn't touch you. It was strange, but I could have sworn the ghost touched my hand.
Maybe it was just Sirius fooling around. He likes to play pranks like that.
"You should be going," Severus said, stepping out from behind me. "It's nearly nightfall, and it will be difficult for you to find a ride on the roads if you wait much longer."
"I'm actually supposed to get in one of those . . . auto-mobiles with some strange muggle I've never met?" I asked for the third time, closing the diary.
"You have your wand if you need it," Snape replied. "The sooner you leave, the better."
I packed the book into my bag, slinging it onto my shoulder. "You'll get word to my mother then?"
"When it is safe."
For a moment, I actually considered saying those two poisonous words of gratification—humility was not a Malfoy's friend. And then I wondered if I was actually thankful of what Snape had done, of his interference. I still wasn't quite sure when I stepped away, walking off without a goodbye toward the little blue boat I had arrived in.
Good things, bad things, all things seem to come to end. But I find that hard to believe, really. It seemed to me that all things remain unfinished, stories on top of stories. Somehow my own story had met with Regulus's, and his was now continuing through mine, it seemed. I tried to guess, with half a heart, who would pick mine up, when the time came.
End Notes: Thank you readers! I really enjoyed writing for you. I hope you liked this long last chapter. If you have questions ask—be sure to tell what you thought. Thanks again.