Part 3 of The Light Inside. Read on!
Awkward could not even come close to describing family dinners with the Greengrasses. Yet that was how Astoria felt as she took in the scene; the four of them could not possibly be more in contrast with each other.
Selene Greengrass, though tall and substantially built, seemed so frail and meek, with a few dark strands framing her pale face.
Atlas Greengrass had once been a tall, proud, majestic man whose regal demeanor Astoria and Daphne had looked up to. Now, Astoria’s inebriated father reduced himself to a gibbering drunkard. Although he had always had a fierce, fanatic temper, the fall of Voldemort had left him prone to fits of rage that were truly terrifying.
His current object of frustration was Daphne – the rebellious one of the family. Daphne, Astoria knew, had taken many hits during the war, but the death of her fiancé, Adrian Pucey, had completely broken her. Astoria had hypothesized that Daphne’s tendency sleep around had stemmed from a subconscious need to replace the void he had left in her heart.
But it was also something the conservative Atlas despised, and he was making sure that Daphne knew it. As their conflicting voices began to rise, Astoria’s pulse began to beat faster. Debating whether or not to be a coward and flee back to her own home, she felt the blood drain pit of her face as she heard a sickening crack, and a glowing red handprint appear on her sister’s face.
A stunned silence rang over the room, as the three Greengrass women processed what had just happened. Time seemed to come to a standstill. No matter what the circumstance, Atlas had never, ever raised a hand in violence towards them – and this was an indicator of how far into his mind he had retreated. Realizing this, Daphne and Selene quickly scraped back their chairs and apparated away.
That left Astoria. Frightened and breathing heavily, she willed herself to move, strained with the force of her mental command, but she was frozen in place. Why wouldn’t her body move? Her vision began to cloud with panic, and she barely registered the sensation of being knocked to the floor as a tall figure loomed above her.
What happened? Who was he? She could not remember. All she could feel was a gripping pain, pain that shuddered and swept through her, pain that made her scream till her voice gave out. She heard voices, but she could make no sense of them. A trickle of something warm ran down her mouth, but she paid it no mind. A piece of wood dropped on the floor by her fingers, and instinct finally made her curl her hand around it and will herself somewhere else.
Flashes of green, all around him. A lime colored haze that he was floating in. Faint, distant noises, too far away for him to hear them clearly. Then another round of flashes, and this time he could make out the words that came with them.
Crucio. Morsemordre. Crucio. Imperio. Crucio. Sectumsempra. Crucio.
Draco could feel, with each fateful word, a ripple of pain stretch over his limply erect body. He could feel sorrow, and despair that shook his heart and threatened to engulf him. He could feel tears stream down his cheeks, both from pain and from other things.
He could smell the thick scent of fear all around him. He smelt something metallic, almost like copper, only he knew it was different. He could smell the effects of torture on the bodies around him, the unmistakable scents of death and destruction.
He could hear, with his every step, a crunching beneath his feet that could only come from bones. He could hear a symphony of choruses, crying out for help, for mercy. He could hear a low murmur, a whisper, a slithering sound that vibrated at the base of his skull.
He could taste a viscous, coppery red fluid as it filled his mouth and poured down the side of his jaw. He could taste a shimmering heat on his tongue, the aftereffects of concentrated magic. He could taste bile as it rose in his throat, racking him with the sensation of nausea.
He saw, all around him, the mangled corpses that had existed by the doing of someone’s hand. He saw faces, among them, but none he could recognize. But worst of all was the grotesquely mutilated, serpentine face that he could see hanging just in front of him, hissing his name in that all too familiar high, cold voice.
Draco awoke to the cool, slippery sheets of his massive bed, slick with sweat and panting heavily. Reaching for his wand, he apparated to the one place he knew would give him comfort. Feeling the silken sand between his toes, he began to shake off the haze of his nightmare, when he saw a body curled up against the wall of the cave.
“Tori,” he breathed. “Are you-”
She looked up at him. “I’m fine, Draco. At least, I am now.”
“You’re bleeding. Let me-”
She smiled – a thin one that did not reach her eyes. “It’s only a minor Splinch. I can take care of it.”
“What brought you here?”
“Family problems. Also, I think I’ll need to see a Healer pretty soon.” She held up a hand at his visible concern. ” I’m all right now. But earlier, I had a sort of panic attack. I was… frozen.”
“Tori, you’re one of the strongest people I know. What happened that scared you so much?”
“Run away with me,” Astoria said, avoiding his question. “I know about your nightmares, Draco. We could escape together. As for me, I can’t deal with Atlas anymore. I know he’s gone insane, so called father.” Astoria’s hate was palpable as she spat out that final word.
“Tori, what happened to you,” Draco ground out as he squatted down to her level. Despite her careless façade, he knew she was terrified. He wanted to know what had shaken her so badly, because the very thought, for some reason, aroused a fiercely protective anger within him. He wanted to make that person pay.
“Tell you what, Draco – run away with me. Only for a while, and then I’ll tell you everything.” “We’re adults, Draco!” she exclaimed, noting his hesitation, “We can’t exactly get into trouble!”
“But where would we go, Tori?”
“I have a cottage in France. Or anywhere. Wherever. I don’t care. I just-” She paused to take a deep, shuddering breath. “I can’t take it anymore Draco, I- My father- My sister- I- Please. Let’s escape together.”
Draco inhaled and exhaled once through his nose. An escape did sound wonderful… In France, he would be free from the stares, the fingers pointed, the whispers. He could be free of his past. He could forget, for a while at least, the troubles of being a Malfoy. He raised his head to meet Astoria’s expectant eyes and nodded.