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Annie
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A Thousand Words (ch 4)

Movies I need to see:
- The Notebook
- Kingdom of Heaven
- Mr and Mrs Smith
- King Arthur
- Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
- King Kong
- The Constant Gardener
- Dreamer
- Dirty Dancing
- Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
- A Tale of Two Cities (from 1989...)
- Brokeback Mountain
- Walk the Line
- Girl with a Pearl Earring

Movies I need to see again:
- Pearl Harbour
- HP and the Goblet of Fire
- Titanic
- Just Like Heaven
- Tuck Everlasting
- Pride and Prejudice (both versions)
- All three LotR movies
- The Last Samurai
- 13 Going on 30

Movies I need to see (in the future):
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
- Memoirs of a Geisha (2 days!)
- Poseidon
- Beowulf (both the one already out in Canada and the one coming out in 2007)
- December Boys
- Eragon
- Lady in the Water
- The DaVinci Code
- Superman Returns
- The Last Unicorn

Okay sorry, I needed to get that out. I need some sort of list I can refer to the next time I go to Best Buy to get DVDs. Anyway, I promised I'd post chapter four of ATW today or tomorrow, so I'll do it right now. Enjoy.

Title: A Thousand Words (ch 4)
Summary: Of missions, old friends, and troubled minds.



Chapter 4: Scars of the Past


Draco stalked past rows of cubicles, unable to keep the glower off his face. He barely noticed the curious looks shot his way as he swept across the Aurors’ office, which was for the better since they wouldn’t have improved his mood very much anyway.

Once Draco had slammed the door behind him, he slowed down his pace. His scowl faltered as he turned the handle of the door that led into the headquarters of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad (or, in other words, the cramped office the Hit Wizards had been shoved into), for he had just realised that he wasn’t quite sure why he was in such a bad mood.

It’s Hermione Granger, he told himself with a nod of assurance once he was inside his own private office situated at the back of the larger office. Just seeing her irritates the hell out of me.

And it was true. She was always looking at him in a puzzled sort of way, as if she were trying to figure him out. Nothing annoyed Draco more than people who tried to read him as if he were some sort of novel.

‘It’s impossible to figure me out,’ he muttered angrily to himself as he slumped down at his desk and began flipping through the day’s mail. He didn’t expect to find anything of interest, for he had no personal correspondents that might take the time to write to him, and he was right. All of the envelopes contained either business-related information from the Ministry or notes of thanks from wizarding families he had provided hard-to-brew potions for. There was nothing from his mysterious pen pal.

Draco inwardly scolded himself for feeling disappointed that he had not received a reply. There was no reason for him to be upset over something as trivial as a letter.

Besides, he reasoned, </i>she probably hasn’t even received my reply yet. And…and she’s a Muggle-born…</i>

Draco pulled a face, realising that the last thought had snuck into his mind without his noticing. He’d sworn he’d stop thinking that way; what was wrong with him?

Not knowing what else to do, Draco reached a hand into his pocket and removed the letter he had read the night before. He ran a finger across the seal. He had already broken it, of course, but the shape of a sleeping otter stamped into the white wax was still discernible.

For a few minutes, Draco amused himself with trying to figure out who in the Ministry might use an otter-shaped stamp. Then, he shrugged, stuffed the letter back into his pocket, and checked his watch. It was exactly noon, which meant he had plenty of time to go out and grab lunch before returning to the office.

Draco stood up and was just turning around when the door to his office burst open and two training Hit Wizards rushed in, both panting hard.

‘What’s wrong?’ asked Draco, his eyebrows knitted together.

‘Kingsley – you – Carrows sighted –’

As unintelligible as the sentence was, Draco understood immediately. His features hardened as he nodded and pushed past the two young wizards, his eyes determined and his brisk stride every bit as professional as his position required him to be.

Outside, Draco was immediately greeted by a frantic crowd of members of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad, all scrambling to grab their wands, their invisibility cloaks, and do last minute checks on their maps to make sure they knew where they were headed.

‘Malfoy!’

‘Where?’ said Draco sharply, turning around to face the Head of the office, Kingsley Shacklebolt.

‘Near the end of the Black Creek, hiding near the edge of the Whispering Woods,’ Kingsley narrated rapidly. ‘Listen, I need you to take my place on this one, Malfoy; I’ve nearly got Sawbridge and I don’t want to lose him. You know what to do, right?’

Draco quirked an eyebrow. ‘I can organise them, if that’s what you mean,’ he said quietly. ‘It’s been a while since I actually went, though…’

‘Just go,’ Kingsley urged before turning around and yelling to the distraught Hit Wizards, ‘Listen to Malfoy; he’s in charge!’

A wave of panic rose within Draco as he helplessly watched Kingsley hurry away towards the door that joined the Auror Headquarters and the headquarters of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad. His gaze warily swept the twenty or so witches and wizards awaiting his command before him and he gulped.

‘Braveheart, Jamison, Styron, over here with me! Wang, Ledger, I don’t want you two going – no, you’re staying behind, don’t argue – come on, the rest of you, let’s go –’

Draco steered the crowd of Hit Wizards into the small, closet-like room they used for apparating in and out. Once the door was closed behind them, Draco watched to make sure each of them had entirely disappeared before he closed his eyes, focused all his thoughts on a small clearing at the edge of the Whispering Woods, and disappeared from the room with a small pop.




‘Braveheart, take these for down the right path; Styron take those five and go left…the rest of you spread out…the two of them will have split up once they heard us coming…Jamison, come with me!’

No one dared disobey their new leader’s orders, and immediately scurried off in their assigned directions. Draco grabbed one of the younger Hit Witches, Kay Jamison, and dragged her with him into the shadows of the forest.

‘Listen, Jamison,’ whispered Draco once they were safely hidden, ‘I want you to trail after me…I’m pretty sure the brother, Amycus, came this way.’

Kay nodded fearfully and stared up at Draco with round eyes. ‘Why did you choose me? This is my first time on a mission, sir…’

‘Because I know you have more brains than the rest of them combined,’ replied Draco grimly, turning around and gesturing at Kay to follow him. ‘If we come across him, don’t make a sound. If you see that I’m in trouble, send up sparks – they’ll distract him – then stun him. Got it?’

Though she appeared to be terrified, the Hit Witch nodded and began to silently crawl after Draco.

Lumos,’ Draco whispered as the woods around them grew darker and darker. A thin beam of light burst from the tip of his wand. This Draco pointed at the floor of the forest and used to guide his way around ditches and dry branches as he silently continued on, his eyes alert for any sign of movement.

After many minutes of searching, Draco couldn’t help but start thinking that perhaps they were on the wrong trail. Perhaps the shadow he had seen earlier had not been Amycus, but his own imagination…

Indeed, Kay seemed to share his sentiments. After a while, she gathered the courage to tentatively murmur, ‘Do you think maybe you didn’t really see Amycus?’

‘Be quiet, Jamison, he could be –’

Draco’s harsh whisper was cut off by a shriek from Kay. In the split second following it, Draco had barely enough time to duck before a dark shape came hurtling out from behind a tree just in front of him.

Thinking quickly, Draco shoved Kay roughly into the shadows behind him as he sharply raised his wand to cast its light on the attacker: a short, squat wizard of uneven proportions with stringy, unkept hair and wild-looking eyes.

‘Amycus,’ said Draco, successfully keeping the fear that was causing his heart to thump fiercely against his ribcage out of his voice but unable to contain his disdain at his old associate’s appearance.

Amycus’ distorted features registered nothing but shock. ‘Draco?’ he croaked, his voice cracked and wheezy.

‘Long time no see,’ Draco sneered. His right hand held his wand steadily at the level of Amycus’ eyes while his left groped around in the darkness behind in, trying to make sure that Kay wasn’t in range of any curses the former Death Eater before him might throw.

‘What’re you doing here, kid? Blimey, you gave me a right scare; I thought you were one of them Ministry blokes coming to get me!’

Draco narrowed his eyes but did not reply. Instead, he continued to point his wand at a point directly between Amycus’ beady eyes while inwardly frantically trying to decide what to do. Should he call the other Hit Wizards for help? No, surely that would give Amycus time to run away.

‘Can you put the bloody light out? And who’re you here with, did you bring Narcissa?’

By the light of his wand, Draco could see Amycus looking around him eagerly as if trying to figure out where Draco’s deceased mother could be hiding. Draco grit his teeth. ‘There is no one here with me. I’m alone.’

‘Aw, come on Draco, don’t take the mickey with me. I heard someone scream earlier, I know I did…’

‘Don’t be thick, Amycus,’ Draco hissed, but he was suddenly overcome with panic. What if Amycus found Kay? No…no, he had to keep talking. ‘I would suspect all of your years hiding out in these woods would have an effect on your hearing.’

Amycus suddenly looked angry. ‘Aye, that’s right, all these years hiding out in the forest,’ he spat out. ‘Why weren’t you hiding out with me and Alecto, eh, why not? Where’d you run off to, kid?’

‘Where I’ve run off to is none of your business,’ said Draco through clenched teeth, trying to keep his voice calm and unaffected. Unfortunately, the fact that his wand hand was beginning to shake slightly betrayed his anger, and did not go by unnoticed by Amycus.

‘Did you join up with them good ones?’ Amycus jeered, bringing his face closer to Draco’s. ‘Last I heard, you refused to help Fenrir gather up the rest of us and start anew. Did you really refuse, Draco? Your old mentors?’

‘Greyback was never my mentor,’ said Draco, his disgust evident in his voice, ‘nor were you and Alecto. Where is she, anyway?’

‘Dunno,’ said Amycus with a toothless grin. Then, his grin fell, and his next words chilled Draco to the bone. ‘Dunno for the life of me where your little Ministry friends are either, but it looks like your pretty friend over there is hurt.’

Without thinking, Draco whipped around, thinking his worst fears had been confirmed and Kay had been injured. Only when he saw nothing behind him did he realise that there was no way Amycus could have known, and that he had been tricked. By then, it was too late – his wand had been snatched out of his hand and was now being pressed into Draco’s neck.

‘Smarter than you thought, eh?’ Amycus sneered, pressing the tip of Draco’s own wand deeper against Draco’s throat. ‘Never suspected ol’ Amycus would’ve tricked you like that, did you?’

‘Get your…grimy hands off…of my wand…’ Draco hissed as he felt himself being pushed up against the tree Amycus had jumped out from behind of. ‘Let go of me, Amycus!’

‘You’re with them now, aren’t you!’ exclaimed Amycus triumphantly, as if he couldn’t have hoped for something more marvelous in his wildest dreams. ‘You’re working to capture us, you’re trying to throw your old mates in jail! Ah, but Draco, you still haven’t changed…you’re still working under them Ministry officials’ power…Don’t you be thinking you’re on your own yet…’

Draco felt beads of sweat beginning to form along his hairline. He was cornered, wandless, and alone. Alone…save for Kay.

A tiny flame of hope burst into life in his chest as he remembered what he had told her earlier. Was she still watching him? Would she recall his words?

‘…and then we’ll cook you over a fire and split your body parts amongst the four of us…We haven’t had nice meat for a long time, did you know, Draco, did you know? Oh yes, and what better meat is there than that of them government…’

Goddamnit, Jamison, pay attention, pay attention! Draco thought furiously as Amycus’ wheezy giggles filled his ears.

Miraculously, at that moment, Draco’s prayers were answered. A shower of golden sparks burst up from behind him, illuminating the dark clearing briefly.

Amycus dropped the wand in shock, and Draco nimbly caught it before it hit the ground. Without a second’s thought, he shouted, ‘Stupefy!

At the same time Amycus’ body hit the ground with a muffled thump, the rest of the Hit Wizards came rushing into the clearing from the surrounding woods. One of them was using his wand to keep a stunned and unconscious Alector floating above the ground, and another two were supporting Kay (who looked as though she were about to faint) between them.

‘Good job,’ said Draco simply with a short nod to the squad. ‘Come on, let’s go back now. And Jamison – I’ll need to see you in my office when we return to the office.’




‘Make sure you pay attention next time, okay?’

Kay cringed noticeably and nodded timidly. Draco was instantly reminded of a young child being reprimanded by her father, and he couldn’t help but add in a softer tone of voice, ‘You did well, though. We can expect some great things from you soon enough.’

Kay mouth fell open and she stuttered, ‘W-what?’

Draco nodded. ‘You heard me.’ He hesitated, then decided against smiling at her. ‘You can leave now.’

With what appeared to be an immensely relieved nod, Kay turned around and all but ran out of Draco’s office.

Alone at last, Draco sighed tiredly and sat down heavily on his chair. His head was reeling with all that had just happened.

As Draco sat quietly in his office, Amycus’ taunting voice floated unwillingly into his mind. ‘Ah, but Draco, you still haven’t changed…you’re still working under them Ministry officials’ power…Don’t you be thinking you’re on your own yet…’

With a stifled grunt of frustration, Draco rested his chin on his hands and forced the thoughts out of his mind. It had simply been a cruel attempt to goad him.

Simply an attempt to goad him…

At that moment, Draco’s wandering gaze fell on the pile of mail he had flipped through earlier that day. Though it felt like it had been months ago that he was sitting in this office checking his day’s mail, it had, in reality, only been a few hours, so Draco was surprised to find that he had a new letter.

Reluctantly, he grabbed the letter and pulled it towards him. It was sealed with a familiar-looking stamp: one of a sleeping otter. A sleeping otter…

Then it came to him, so suddenly that he nearly hit himself on the head for not remembering earlier. It was the seal his pen pal used.

For the first time that day, Draco smiled. The memories that had just been distressing him dissolved away as he broke the white wax seal, unfolded the letter, and began to read it.

Dear Shadow,

Thank you for replying so quickly. I was ecstatic when I found that you'd sent your letter to me already; I didn’t think anyone else would devote much time or energy into this, but it’s a pleasant surprise to find that you are one of the few.

First of all, I finally decided on a name: Starlight. I got the idea from something I found today. Coincidentally, ‘Starlight’ sort of fits your name. I suppose if I think on it long enough, it fits me too. I'm really optimistic, and I like to focus on whatever bright spot I see on the horizon when it gets dark. So, add it all together, and you get the perfect name for me.

Secondly, I...well, secondly, I don't know why I'm writing this in list form. I'm really sorry; I tend to put everything in order, whether it's school supplies or letters to pen pals. That's another personality quirk of mine you might want to keep in mind. Anyway, I'm not entirely sure what to write to you. I feel like I've told you almost everything about me, even though I've only sent you one letter. But then again, there's always something new to learn about everyone, no matter the circumstances.

I'm not exactly thinking straight at the moment, though. I just...well, I don't know if you'd really care, but I feel like I’m drifting apart from the one person I love the most. You see, it seemed at first that our entirely different interests and beliefs could be put aside, but now I don’t know. I adore him, but he's always hovering over me and watching what I do – either that, or being entirely insensible about my devotion to my work. I feel like I can't even make my own choices without him fussing over them and complaining about them! I appreciate his efforts, I really do, but it’s gotten to the point where I feel like he thinks I’m incapable of living my own life without his guidance.

Oh dear, I'm so sorry; I didn't mean to go off on a rant like that. All of that last paragraph seemed to write itself out. See how easy this is? It's almost as if my putting the quill to the page brings it to life. All I have to do is let my thoughts flow, and the words magically appear. I'm sure that once you get the hang of it, it'll become easier for you to write to me. I suppose the best advice I could give to you is to forget that this is a requirement and instead, pretend that you're writing to yourself.

I'm truly sorry about both you and the boy you know. From what I read in your letter, neither of you seem too happy with your lives. I’ll take your advice, though. From now on, I'll go out of my way to not be too hard on him. Nevertheless…I wish I could say that I understand what he goes through. I can’t, though, because I've never experienced having parents who were less than kind to me. I’ve always had everything and everyone there for me, so I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live my life in solitude. From my point of view, it doesn't even seem possible that a parent could treat his or her child like that. I'm just so incredibly sorry about what you have to endure every day.

The more I write, I can’t help but notice how distinct the differences between us are. From the little that I know about you, I get the distinct feeling that we're polar opposites. Even our names – Shadow and Starlight – oppose each other. But then again, there's always the saying, ‘Opposites attract.’ If you've never heard it, don't worry; it's a Muggle saying.

Anyway, my Head is calling me over for a ‘mandatory meeting’ (we’ve had four of those in the last three days), so I’m going to have to end right here. I just thought of something for you to remember if you ever need comfort, though: Even when your shadow grows dark, I'll always be here to shine light on it. In other words (if you're not the poetic type of person), whenever you need me, just write me a letter.

Yours truly, Starlight


Even when Draco finished the letter, he found himself unwilling to put it down. He read it a second time, and then a third. Each his eyes scanned over the increasingly familiar words, the warm glow that had erupted within him after his first reading spread even further.

‘“Opposite attract,”’ Draco read out loud. To his embarrassment, he felt his cheeks turn warm as he murmured the words.

Attract? I hope she doesn’t mean…

Draco shook his head furiously. Of course she didn’t mean attract in that way.

Sighing, Draco traced the smooth, ridged surface of one of the long scars that ran down the sides of his face. The recollection of how he had received that scar and its brother threatened to surface, but Draco resolutely suppressed it by sullenly muttering to himself, ‘No one right in their mind would be attracted to this…’

Then, he picked up his wand, tapped the letter, and murmured, ‘Mutatio.’

With a soft swish, the parchment folded itself into a miniature crane. It flapped its paper wings twice before settling down on Draco’s desk.

Stuffing the crane into the same robes pocket the other letter resided in, Draco stood up, ran a hand through his hair, then left his office, the decision to finally go get lunch fixed firmly in his mind.

Note: Mutatio = Latin for change or transform. (Err...I think so at least.)



On a last note, I posted one of my stories that deals with sexual abuse (but not rape) on a fic site (won't mention which one) and one of the reviews I got read "Wow, that was really cute!! Good job!"

I found it slightly disturbing.

♥ Annie
Tags: a thousand words
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