Memoria Luxareo @tootytots1
Demons Tooth

Fog rolled in over the mountains and mist clung to the earth. It wrapped around the legs of the men stumbling in front of him. They'd been on the road for months and it showed in the dark circles surrounding every man's eyes and the downward slump of their shoulders. All of them had done terrible things; ripping homes apart and setting them alight, watching memories and beams fold in on themselves and be cast into the open air as plumes of thick black smoke. Women had been raped and beaten, their bodies, broken and bloody cast aside. Dirty fingers had reached out begging for help and they had been ignored. Ignored because there was no other choice. Bile rose in his throat like it always did when he thought too long on what he had seen; he swallowed it, ignoring the accusatory glances from the men, women and children that had been captured. They trundled along in carts, packed in like animals and locked away like criminals.

"HALT!" Aygust's rough voice shouted from the front, and the men and carts slowly came to a standstill. Edward sighed, making his way toward the front, his brown boots squelching in the mud.

"What is it?" A young lad asked as he matched pace with Edward, a light stubble growing on his chin. Edward had seen the boy many times during raids, his eyes wide and eager, desperate to impress.

"Not sure," He muttered, glancing about at the hills and the mountain rising up before them. They were supposed to be making their way home, all known locations of witches and wizards exhausted.

Aygust stood at the front, a large map gripped in his hands as he inspected it closely. The scarred puppet of Tharin's had been appointed the leader of their small party and had managed to keep his hands clean of all killing, sending other men to do his work for him. He had tried and failed to make Edward join in with the atrocity's, but he could see from the sneer on his face whenever he met Edwards gaze that he had not given up trying.

"Demons tooth. Halfway up, there's a cave. Its marked 'ere by Lord Morax himself."

Edward has seen the mountain, - affectionately named Demons tooth - it rose into the sky, tapering off to one point, its edges jagged with sharp rocks. The name definitely did its justice, the menacing peak having claimed the lives of many that had dared to climb it. There were whispers of treasure hidden somewhere within one of its caves and many adventures had fruitlessly made the perilous journey only to find that the mountain held nothing but death. The myth still remained though, making its rounds every few years. Some superstitious villagers suggested that the demon that lived in the mountain initiated the rumours, using the lure of treasure to bring victims right to his door. Edward never believed any of the stories, shrugging them off as fearful superstitions, wild imagined stories to voice around a fire, when darkness crept in on listeners shoulders and the terror made them shiver with fear. Now though - with the fog heavy in the air, only the base was visible and the peak was a menacing shadow, fuzzy around its edges as the clouds rolled and moved around it – he could almost believe the tales, imagining that the clouds were the breath of the demon, covering the path to it lair, waiting, leering in the depths of stone.

"Well, you can go then, ain't no one getting up that mountain in this weather." The man spat in the mud after he said this as if the action punctuated his words. Drops of spittle caught in his beard and rested there till he wiped them with the mad of his filthy hand. Edward glanced around the rest of the soldiers, the younger men looked fearful, the tales of the mountain no doubt running through their heads, the older soldiers, however, were shaking their heads, mouths turned down at the end grimly. The seasoned soldiers did not need to know the tales, attempting the peak any day was risky, attempting it with the fog so thick, was suicide.

"He's right," Edward cut in, interrupting Aygust before he could suitably admonish the soldier that had spoken out of turn, "we'll be blind up there."

"Silence, your fucking cowardice will deafen us all," Aygust spat, crumpling the map into a small ball, and jabbing his finger in Edwards' face, "this is the last location, we are doing it. Any man that doesn't, I slit his throat." There were murmurs among the men, but no one spoke up. Edward understood though Aygust had done little to lift a finger during the raids there was a certainty that he would follow through with his threats and make them as painful as possible.

Every step brought them closer to the mountain and deeper into the thick fog. Visibility was even worse than he imagined, hardly able to make out the men he could hear talking just in front of him. The footsteps seemed to echo strangely, sounding as though they were close one minute and far away the next. He thought then of leaving, he would melt away like a ghost and be far away from them before anyone knew he had gone. But Mina held him in place, her green eyes staring into his and begging him to come back to her, even as Tharin drew his blade across the delicately soft skin of her neck. He stared at the rock looming overhead and thought about dying. He'd thought about it a lot over the last month's, pondering the finality and freedom of it. If he were to die falling down the side of the mountain, shattering against the rocks, there would be no more to think about, no more to concern himself with.

The men gathered at the base, their movements slow and lethargic buying themselves time before they had to make the ascent. Edward understood their reluctance, he had faced the possibility of death many times and had somewhat made his peace with it, even so, his hands shook slightly as placed rope on the pile in front of him.

"We get so far up, anchor ourselves it. Got these?" The man that had spoken up earlier held metal pitons with hoops on the end. "Drive the little bitch into the rock, hard as you can. This goes you die." Many nodded, taking their own share and attaching them to their belts, but the young soldiers held back, their faces pale.

"All loose rock up there, double, triple check if you have to." As if hearing his words, there was the clatter of falling rocks somewhere within the fog, as if the mountain was taunting them, daring them to pit themselves against it, "anyone falls, don't care if it's your fucking Ma somehow dangling up there, you let them fall. Try and save 'em you'll fall too and then the ground will do the rest."

"Roke, they know enough. Get up that mountain." Aygust's voice came from somewhere behind them and the bearded man sighed, nodding his head to his companions. Edward followed the rest towards the face of the mountain, stabbing a piton into the face of it and levering himself up, finding a gash in the face to press his fingers into. Low down was always easier, grooves worked into the mountain that made the climb like walking up a steep set of stairs. Soon though it became treacherous; rocks giving way beneath his hands and feet, tumbling into the mist that swirled below, thee faint thumb of them hitting the ground the only thing to tell him the world still existed beyond the fog. Men had fallen, mainly the young soldiers, their faces panicked, arms flailing for purchase in the air. He thought seriously about joining them, just loosening his fingers and falling back. It would be like flying, he imagined. But even as he thought it, he found himself gripping tighter, throwing himself forward, muscles screaming in protest.

Eventually, his arm was flung over a ledge and fingers wrapped around it, quickly tugging him up and onto something solid, something flat. Edward glanced up and the mouth of the cave, more oval than round opened before him, its depth pitch black.

"Mouth of the demon." Someone muttered shaking their heads and Edward almost agreed with them, stalactites hung from its roof, looking like the sharp teeth of some great beast.

"Silence John, ain't no demon, just a cave," Roke assured him, clasping his hand around the young boy's shoulder.

"And that's worse." Edward murmured earning a laugh from the bearded man and a nod of agreement.

Caves were always worse, deep and dark and endlessly winding. Any man that got lost in a cave system was blessed by something quite divine if he ever saw daylight again.

"Aygust not make it up yet?" Edward asked, looking down into the fog below him, unable to see the bottom.

"He's not even climbed, the coward." The answer came as a wheeze from a man grasping onto the ledge. Edward rushed to help him, pulling him onto the ledge nodding once when the man thanked him, lying back on the ground to catch his breath.

"Not fucking climbed." Roke surged forward, his eyes the colour of flint. The man took a deep breath shaking his head, cheeks a bright scarlet, a sheen of sweat on his forehead.

"Says someone's got to stay with the prisoners."

"Well, what a cunt," Roke spat the expletive at the cave and it echoed throughout the tunnels, repeating over and over till it finally faded.

"We should not speak of Captain Aygust that way," John spoke up, trying his best to look brave. Roke laughed.

"He ain't no fucking captain, that there's a commander, do you see him looking after the ladies? No, he's fucking up 'ere with the rest of us. Now hold your tongue, or ill be cutting it out and shoving it up your arse."

"Rope?" Edward asked, tying his own rope from around his waist and securing it around a rock. At least with the pitons, the journey down would be less hazardous.

"Hardly got none. Damn fucker wanted so many people up the mountain we almost used it all." Edward cursed under his breath, pulling his torch off his back and handing it to Roke who lit it quickly. Quickly he tied the end of the remaining rope around his waist and groped the earth for a stone. His fingers closed around a flat piece of rock with a nasty point on the end.

"I'm going in, you feed the rope as far as it will go, tug it twice when its run out, I'll use this from then on."

"Shouldn't we – shouldn't we all go in?" John asked, peering past Edward into the depths of the cave.

"Your Ma birth you without brains, lad. That there's a fucking maze, you go in, ain't no guarantee of coming out."

"Wouldn't we find them faster?"

"And get lost faster." The man on the floor had caught his breath and was taking his own torch off his pack, pressing it into Edwards' hand. "The other goes out, use this." Edward nodded turning back to the entrance. Without so much of a word, he walked into the darkness, the rope passing been Roke rough fingers hissing in the quiet.

"It's you." A voice said in the darkness and Draco felt disorientated as his surroundings melted away, and was replaced by a small cavern. A woman stood by a small fire, her brown eyes glittering with recognition, her wand pointed at Edward's chest.

"You, Mina's friend. You're one of them?" He gestured to her wand, and Sonyea nodded, chuckling slightly.

"Yes, are you going to kill me, Commander?" Edward shook his head, stepping hesitantly into the cavern and dropping his torch at the entrance. It flickered behind him and cast his shadow giant like along the far wall. leaving his torch flickering on the ground behind him. After a moment's hesitation, Sonyea lowered her wand but get it gripped in her fingers.

"How did you find me? This cave system is extensive." Edward shrugged kneeling down by the fire and warming his hands, flicking a stone at her which Sonyea caught with ease. "Hmm, trial and error. Muggles never cease to amaze."

"Muggle?"

"No magic. Tis what we call you."

"Not sure how I feel about that." He grumbled, rubbing his hands together before holding his open palms over the flames.

"If it's anything like how I feel about you killing us, you can't like it very much." Edward sighed, lowering his head lifting himself up. He towered over the small woman though she did not step back, meeting his gaze defiantly.

"I…" He paused, knowing that his words would mean very little to her even if he had the right words to say. They were just hot air and excuses. "Have you…have you heard from Mina?" His voice shook as he asked the question, watching with shock as the small woman sighed, sinking into a chair.

"Yes, I have." Edward rushed forward, grabbing her shoulders in his large hands and lifting her up.

"Is she safe? Where is she?" He asked desperately, only stopping when he heard the madness of his voice echoing back at him from off the cave walls. He released his grip, slowly, stepping back.

"I'm - I'm sorry.' He muttered, covering his mouth, slumping into the wooden chair opposite Sonyea's. His vision blurred with tears.

"How do I know that I can trust you, Edward?" She muttered after a moment of silence. He laughed bitterly at her question, trust was such a strange concept to him now. He had always been able to trust himself, to trust his values, to trust his feelings. Now everything he knew, all his value, all his feeling seemed hazy and Mina was at the centre, always clear, always real. Always certain, He didn't even think he could trust himself.

"You can't, but Mina…" Sonyea tipped her head to one side, inspecting him down the length of her nose before she sniffed and stared into the fire.

"She is with Arden, but she is far from safe." Edward's heart hammered in panic.

"I don't understand, how could she not be safe. Arden is one of you is he not?" Sonyea wrung her hands uncomfortably, seating herself before him.

"We are in the middle of our own war. Arden wishes to eradicate all muggles whereas our – there are those that wish to go into hiding. No one war, no more bloodshed."

"I always thought he was a fool," Edward laughed bitterly, running his fingers through his hair.

"Always?"

"I met Arden when we were both very young, let's just say my attitude towards him may not have helped his view towards m…m…us." Edward pointed at himself, leaning closer to the fire.

"You're the boy from the woods." Edward looked up at her confused, eyes widening in recognition after a moment.

"The girl that Mina, that was you?"

"It was." Edward shook his head, letting his breath whistle through his teeth.

"I threatened you that day."

"You did."

"I'm…" Sonyea held up her hands stopping his words.

"The past is done now. But Mina is not safe now. I tried to get her to stay with me, but she refused."

"Why?"

"She feels she needs to help. I have been receiving information from her of Arden's plans so that I can pass them over to my superiors."

"And you just let her?"

"Have you met Mina? There is little anyone can do to stop her once she has got an idea in her head."

"You have your stick, why not use that." Edward gestured to her wand.

"You mean for me to cast a spell over her? It would be the same as holding a knife to her throat." Edward seemed to deflate. He would never wish for anyone to hold Mina against her will, but if they could keep her safe, keep her away from harm then he was almost willing to condone it.

"You need to leave this place, someone knows you're here, they sent men to find you, to kill you."

Sonyea lifted her wand, muttering a quick spell smirking in amusement when Edward jumped away from objects that were floating through the air and into a small bag that did not seem to alter in shape, not even when the bed squeezed itself in there.

"You mean to help me, Commander?"

"I need you to tell Mina something, for me," Edward answered, picking at the leather of his jacket.

"And what would that be?"

"You need to tell her to leave. Tharin is a far bigger threat than Arden will ever be."

"Tharin, you mean Tharin Morax?"

"He will not stop till all your kind are dead, whatever war you have between yourselves it is nothing compared to what hunts you." Sonyea paused, pressing her lips together as she examined the Commander.

"She told me that you rejected her? Why such concern?" He gave her pained look, pausing for a moment before speaking.

"Not all bravery looks the same."

Sonyea nodded kneeling to pick her bag from the floor. When she turned back her eyes widened.

"Edward, behind you." As soon as the words left Sonyea mouth, pain erupted across his back. His breath wheezed in his throat as his lungs refused to take in air. He turned quickly tugging his dagger from his belt, only just managing to block the second blow that threatened to stab him again. The assailant's knife was batted out of his hand easily, the grip loose and unpractised. Whoever was trying to kill him was a novice.

John stared at him with same wide-eyed fear he'd had when looking at the mouth of the cave as if he saw a demon shimmering where Edward stood. He had seen the fear so many times. Death always looked the same.

"Please, he said I had to…" His pleas gurgled into nothingness as Edward pushed his knife into John's guy and slid the sharp metal across, opening him up and watching him spill onto the floor. Blood spluttered from his mouth and dripped down his chin as he fell in a heap, eyes turning glassy. Death always looked the same

Edward's dagger fell out of his hands, knees giving way beneath him. The wound throbbed and he could taste the tang of blood on his tongue.

"Edward." Sonyea was kneeling over him, her delicate features fading in and out of focus, "Edward, stay with me, I'm going to help."

"You need to go," He muttered, trying to push her away, wincing as more pain lanced through him. Sonyea ignored him, muttering under her breath.

"You need to go." Black crept in around the edges of his vision, and all he wanted to do was sleep, to sleep and forget. Just before he slipped out of consciousness, he watched as men appeared around Sonyea, yanking her off his body, and then there was nothing.

"Malfoy?" Draco struggled for breath as he opened his eyes. Hermione stared down at him worried and, in spite of the pain he still felt lingering across his back, he had to bite back a smile.

"I swear that thing has got it in for me." He muttered, glancing at the bowl as it sunk it the floor.

"What happened?"

"Edward was stabbed." With great effort Draco sat up, groaning as his muscles screamed in protest.

"What?" Hermione shrieked, "Is he okay?"

"Oh, he's just peachy, I mean what's a bit of mild stabbing amongst colleagues." Hermione rolled her eyes.

''You know what I mean."

"Mina's mini friend, you know the one from the market?"

"Sonyea?" She asked her heart racing.

"Yeah that one, she was there, she was healing him." Hermione grabbed his arms, jolting his back and making him wince.

"Oh sorry...are you okay?" Draco nodded, trying hard not to blush at the connection, reminding himself that he was, in fact, a Malfoy and Malfoys did not blush, or fall in love with Mudbloods. "What happened? Did she heal him? Is she okay?"

"Could we try shrieking one question at a time, Granger? The head is willing, but the perforated eardrums, not so much."

"Well has she healed him?" Hermione bit out, crossing her arms in annoyance.

"I don't know. Edward blacked out." Hermione sat down, blowing a curly strand of hair out of her face. Draco watched as it fell back in place, his fingers itching to tuck it behind her ear. He shook his head, deciding it was time to move before he did something he would live to regret.

"Don't move yet, take your time," Hermione muttered, pushing him gently back onto the floor as he cried out.

"Careful Granger, this isn't the first time tonight you could almost be mistaken for caring."

"I just can't stand to hear you winging like a baby," She answered, smirking at him. Draco laughed, wincing when the action hurt.

"So, what happened to you in there, all nice things I'm guessing," Draco said, looking none too impressed.

"You sound jealous."

"Oh, just a lot." With a chuckle, Hermione relayed what had happened, and Draco watched with wonder as her eyes filled with tears at the mention of Sonyea and her unrequited love. He noticed these things more now; how deeply the Gryffindor felt things, how much she tried, how much she fought for what she believed in. He couldn't help but be in awe of it, even when he knew he probably shouldn't be.

When Hermione finished, she settled on the floor next to him, her leg pressed lightly against his own. He knew she must have noticed but she made no move to break the connection, and it made him unbelievably happy.

"Erm, Granger," He muttered, turning his head to look at her, "I think Tharin's men might have Sonyea."

"What?" Hermione shrieked. Draco winced, wishing he had waited till later to tell her.

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