After a year since it was done, an extension due to multiple ideas spinning in my head, and delays thanks to stupid writer's block, Draco and Aria's story has come to an end. Thanks to all the love, guys. I can't believe we reached the final chapter. I'm not ready to let them go, but I must.
Melissa, you are a beautiful human being-an incredible incredible friend. Despite the time it took to update and finish, I hope you loved this story.
"But monsters are always hungry,
and they're only a few steps behind
Big Bad Wolf: Part 6 (epilogue)
There was once a young man who was practically a prince in his own right. Born into a prestigious family whose wealth and influence dated back generations and was vastly endless. Bless with a sort of beauty that was believed to by handcraft by angels. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth and the world at his feet.
Any other story, the young man would be granted a wonderful ending. Inheriting his family's estate. Marrying into a good family that would increase his influence. Creating the next heir to the throne with a beautiful wife.
Things would have turned out that way. If it wasn't for his father, whose scheming and greed was the man's downfall.
His father betrayed a dark man. A very dangerous man whose cruelty was the muse of nightmares. He demanded his debt to be paid. When it wasn't, it was decided that the man was the perfect form of payment.
The young man went from being a princeling whose future was bright to a monstrous beast.
The night he was changed, the former princeling turned beast killed everyone present at the masquerade ball his parents threw in his honor. Kill. Too kind of a word. Slaughtered was better suited. Hardly anyone escaped from those teeth and claws.
Not the guests, not friends. Not even his father who tried reaching out to him, almost as if he was trying to reach for any trace of humanity that reminded in his son. Only to have that hand chopped off, then his arm, and then his whole body.
From that night on, bloodlust and brutality have been his sole companions through the nights, the weeks, the years-
"That must have been horrible."
The priest stopped halfway through his story. His light-blue eyes blinked several times, as if his mind was trying to walk back into reality.
Across from him, a young woman fidgeted with her cloak, her expression thoughtful. By her feet laid a woven basket, and to the side a large box.
He found her by the candle shrine, the front row of white candles lit. Her eyes stared at them without seeing anything, mind a thousand miles away.
"Who are you praying to, my dear?"
For a moment there was only silence. Sure that she wanted to be alone, he was about to move on until she spoke:
"Yours?" Sympathy settled onto his chest.
She shook her head once, eyes focused on the burning flames. "The Riddles. They were killed earlier tonight. Ripped apart." A single head shake. "By…by it."
His blood turned cold.
"What was done to them-" She broke into a shudder, wrapping her cloak tighter around herself, too horrified to say anything else.
He laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. She looked up at him, dark curls tumbling down her shoulders, bright eyes brimming with tears. Perhaps it was the tears. Perhaps it was the vivid color that stirred familiarity in his head. Perhaps it was just the nature of his profession. Perhaps it was all three, and the fact she, like him, was in need of a companion for the late night.
Whatever the reason, the high priest invited her into his office for tea. A tea meeting, which turned into storytime at her request. The story of the Big Bad Wolf.
He filled her cup with lemon tea and pushed a loaf of bread towards that hadn't been touched for the past half hour.
She took the tea, stealing a small sip but not the bread. Her hands wringed her cloak, her bemused expression unchanged. His eyes narrowed slightly as he surveyed her. When he first met her and she expressed her grief over the Riddles, he assumed she was a servant there. Or perhaps an admirer of the heir. The clothes hinted at the possibility with her simple but expensive black and silver dress trimmed with lace, with a woolen dark cloak to go with it.
"What do you mean, my dear?" the priest asked.
"What happened to him," she clarified. "The young man. What his father's sins cost him. What he was forced to do. He endured all of it alone." She shook her head. "I wouldn't be able to bear it."
He spotted a few tears rolling down her cheeks before she hastily wiped them away. "You shouldn't shed your tears for such a creature, my dear."
Any trace of humanity, he gently explained, any piece of the man he was had been destroyed long ago, starting with that very night. Followed by every night afterwards.
With every kill he made.
With every victim he took.
With every drop of innocent blood he shed.
"If I were to count those drops, the sheer number could make up an ocean. The beast," The priest shook his head. "It doesn't matter to him who the victim is. Whether man or woman. Saint or sinner. He kills any and all. In this village alone, he's taken dozens of lives. Hunters, tradesman, farmers. Our former butcher was left for dead by it." A sorrowful sigh escaped his lips as he shook his head, thinking back on the ruined man. "I think none have suffered greatly as he. Losing his arms, his legs, his tongue-and the better part of his mind. Then his son to the beast, and before that his daughter."
"His daughter?" she asked.
"The daughter of his wife's deceased sister," he clarified. "She and her husband were killed by thieves and the child was given to his family to care for."
"That must have been quite a handful, taking in another child."
He dismissed the claim with a gentle smile and firm head shake. "The bond of family knows no bound. I suppose in the beginning the kind sir and his wife were a bit…surprised by the new addition to their family, but they didn't object. They raised the girl, along with their son, and from what I've seen, they seemed to be quite a close family."
"Did you know her well? The girl I mean."
The priest leaned back in his chair, letting his mind wander. The small child clad in red with her wild black hair and thin frame. Always carrying a basket filled with food and supplies each time she tried to run. The flat look in her eyes whenever he sat her down and reminded her of the kindness her relatives have shown her by letting her stay with them. Reminding her the importance of family, and how they were the only ones she had. The faded bruises that flashed here and there as he escorted her back home.
"I'd like to believe that we were close. She did, after all, spent enough time in my church for the two of us to build a bond. She was a quiet girl. Very shy and peculiar, preferring to be alone. I can only recall a few times when I saw her smile." On one hand actually as he thought about it, the smiles often faint and fleeting. "She was also deeply troubled. Despite the kindness she was shown at home, she would still try to run away. I think those fantasy stories she was fond of reading were getting to her head. I would sit her down and talk to her. Reminded her that her mother, may her soul rest in peace, would be heartbroken seeing what she was doing. Reminded her that family is everything, and that she should be grateful to be included in one."
The young woman hummed thoughtfully as she finished her tea, pushing the cup towards him.
"One day she and her cousin were out collecting firewood in the woods when the beast appeared. The boy barely managed to escape. She, however, wasn't as fortunate."
Her hands, lying on her lap, curled into fists so tightly that the skin turned nearly turned white.
"All that was left of her was a piece of her cloak. A glimmer, no doubt, of the torture she was put through. However…" His eyes flickered back and forth, as if he were frightful of eavesdroppers. "I have a different theory."
She leaned forward, intrigued.
He met her through halfway. "The beast never ever lets his victims escape. The butcher is the only expectation, and his condition is so horrendous that some wonder if death would have been better. With the girl, though, given how young she was, how attractive she looked, the beast decided to keep her instead as some sort of pet. Kept her and ruined her in every way possible, inside and out."
Shivers crawled up her spine, expanding to her entire frame.
A grave nod. "Those who gaze into the eyes of the devil will find themselves burning from the inside out."
She took in a deep breath and uncurled her hands. She ran them over her face, through her hair. The gesture was so familiar, his breath halted.
No, the priest denounced, it couldn't be.
She wiped away the remnants of her tears and put on a small smile for him. She reached down for the box and pushed it towards him.
"I must make a confession, sir. I didn't come here to pay my respects for the Riddles. I also came to deliver this to you," Her smile grew a bit bigger. "A gift."
He smiled, delighted. Perhaps it was a new bible; he could always use another. Or a handcrafted cross, considering the weight. Or food, given the scent although it wasn't entirely pleasant. Or maybe-
The dead widened eyes of Lord Tom Riddle stared back at him, his face frozen forever in pain and fear, blood encrusted along the edge of his severed head.
Priest Dumbledore nearly fell out his seat, heart leaping to his throat.
It was truly a wonder he was able to recognize the man. The burn patches printed along his skin, ripe bruises from knuckles, slit cuts from knives, he was hardly recognizable.
"That was quite the story, sir," He glanced over at the girl. She smiled back at him, as if the severed head was a flower arrangement. "Riveting in fact. Although I couldn't help but think that it could use a few… adjustments." Her bright, cat-like eyes flickered above his head. "Don't you think so, my love?"
Claws dug into through the elder's shoulders, pinning him against his chair.
A young man smiled down at him, enjoying his stifled screams and gasps like music. On the surface, he appeared as a prince in fine clothes with his luminous skin, his handsome face, his hair so pale it shone white. But his claws, the dark laughter roaring in his eyes, revealed a creature that wasn't-couldn't be human.
"I agree," he answered. "I think the priest and I," Absolute cruelty shaped the smile he gifted him with. "Would be delighted to hear your interpretation."
The young woman's smile grew as she looked at him. She leaned back into her chair. "There are two sides to every story, sir. One spun from different mouths and rumors. Another that's entirely my own."
The day the girl was taken by the wolf, she said, wasn't the first time the two had met. In truth, it was earlier years back when the girl was nearly a child, living in her hellhole with monsters at every corner sucking her dry. Of her innocence, her dignity. When she first saw the creature caught in a hunter's trap, she could have left him to die or call for the hunters to finish off the job. Instead she did the unthinkable. She let him go.
"Because of all the monsters she'd face," she said. "He was the least evil of them all."
She didn't think much of what happened after he escaped, the time between then and there stretching into years. She convinced herself that it was nothing more than a dream. Until the day she came face to face with him, and he intended to claim a debt that was unknowingly made long ago.
The price? Her.
"She was so sure she was going to die. The moment he tackled her to the ground, she was sure of it. When she woken up in his fortress, she embraced the possibility. Accepted it. After all the pain she suffered at the hands of her so-called family, she wanted it to finally end. She was ready to die. Imagine her surprise when she learned otherwise. Her captor didn't take her because he wanted to kill her. Or harm and use her as so many others had. He took her because he recognized a trapped creature. Imagine her surprise when he soon became the only person in the world to understand the loneliness and pain she was in."
He tried to move, but the beast tightened his grip, crushing the bones underneath his palms.
"He cared for her while she was ill. He fed her, insisting she'd eat more and more, when he noticed how small she was. He taught her everything there was to know. Fighting, hunting. He let her be when her mood darkened. He comforted her when the memories were too vivid. Never asking for anything more. Never demanding payment. Distrust and hesitation between the two slowly melted into respect. Respect turned to fondness. Fondness then," Her eyes shifted over to his captor, their captor, her gaze softening. "deepened into love."
Love? With this monster? It couldn't be.
Yet, as she glanced up at the creature, there was…tenderness. Undeniable, unmistakable tenderness as the monster gazed at her as if she were the moon and stars.
One hand still trapping him, the beast forward and used the other to cup her face. His hand caressed her cheek, his finger tracing her lips. She leaned into his touch, covering her hand with his. Their gazes so loving, eyes so heated and focused on each other that he was sure if he wasn't there, they would have closed the small distance between them.
"My dear-Aria-" Dumbledore had to gain the upper hand. He needed to make her see reason. She needed to see how absurd this was.
Only she didn't care to listen. "That love was beyond anything either one could hope for. Dream of. Like a fairytale come to life."
The creature's smile was so loving, so humanlike that it was jarring.
"And from that love, they created things. To their enemies, something incredibly lethal. To and for each other, something beautiful. Profoundly," She kneeled down and pulled something out of the basket, swaddled in red. "unimaginably beautiful."
He feared it was another severed head or body part. He was almost sure of it. Until a tiny first broke free from the reddened wrap, causing a layer of it to fall.
A baby. A baby who shared her mother's likeness from her black curls to her tan skin. A yawn fluttered from her tiny lips. Gray, demonic eyes, the sole trait inherited from the beast, flickered over to him before they closed and she fell back asleep.
A baby. A child. One sired by the devil's beast.
"Aria…" He couldn't believe what was happening. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. "You-you-you reckless, naïve child! What have you done?! "
Two hands came down on him. One clutching his throat, crushing his windpipe. The other pressing against his mouth, caging in his screams.
"Sssh," the creature whispered in his ear, causing the hairs on his neck to stand straight. "The baby is sleeping."
If he were a lesser man, Dumbledore would have spit right into that smug face. He freed himself from his grasp and snarled, "You vile, unholy wretched thing-"
His head nearly flew off his neck by the great, sheer force that whipped across his face.
"By all means, keep talking," it insisted, the look on his face bloodthirsty. "It just gives me all the more reason to shatter," He grasped onto his throat and squeezed slow. Brutally, painfully slow like fruit, fragmenting bones, bleeding out the organ. "every bone in in your body."
His eyes slid over to her, then returned to him. He stood down, taking a step back.
Baffled, he looked over at her. Her attention was solely focused on the thing she cradled in her arms, rocking it back and forth as she played with the dark curls.
"Aria," He had to reach her. He owed it to the child he chose to care for. He owed it to her mother who was a devoted follower until she was led astray. He owed it the white robes and cross he don. "Listen to me. Whatever lies he spun, whatever poison he fed, you must renounce them. Forsaken this beast and all will be forgiven. Rid yourself of this blasphemous abomination he forced onto you-"
Swift as a whip, a knife plunged into his hand, pinning it to his desk. The monster sealed his mouth, holding in his screams.
"Insult my daughter again," she said calmly without turning away from the thing in her arms. "And the next one may go right between your eyes."
Another knife pinned to the other hand, twisted it in slowly like a nail. This time, his jaw was squeezed to muffle his pained cries.
"Third time won't come with a warning."
He grunted, struggling and failing to break free. The more he struggle, the tighter the grip. "He ruined you-"
"Wrong. He saved me. Revived me."
This had to be a nightmare. A horrible, horrible nightmare he needed to free himself from.
"The beast, as you so poetically called him, is no more than a simple being indulging in what he pleases and protecting what is his. Along with destroying anything that gets in his way or certain people that deserve it."
"No one deserves such a fate-"
"That's where you're wrong again, sir. I can think of a handful of people who do. Each who played a part in the young woman's suffering. Like the butcher who you so fondly spoke of that took pleasure in beating her senselessly for laughs. I figured it was only fitting that the same tools used to hurt her, including his disgusting tongue, should be taken off."
More so torn off.
"His son's best friend. My rapist who came into my room and raped me three years straight. I made sure every waking moment of his remaining life was just as horrific as all the pain he put me through."
There was nothing left of the boy except chewed, ripped remains and his fractured skull.
"The son himself, my dear cousin, who was the cause of most of my beatings. Who let his friend rape me while he stood outside the door. Who gladly threw me to the wolves without looking back. Only he forgot one thing," She leaned forward and smiled, baring her teeth. "He should checked to see if I'd make such an easy prey."
Dumbledore tried escaping but he was pulled back.
"I took immense pleasure showing him otherwise."
"I debated what I should do about my aunt. After all she turned a blind eye to the abuse. She played a great role in my near-death starvation and neglect. She…" Fury rolled into those green eyes like a storm. "She knew about the rape. Or at least suspected it. And did nothing. Said nothing. Except willing-quite happily in fact-to give me away to a stranger. I suppose in her mind, I was already a plaything to one psychopath. Might as well be one to another and gain profit from it."
But that-he didn't…Petunia Dursely was a woman who made sure she was seated front and center every Sunday service. She always gifted him a wide, bright smile. It wasn't possible…
"However with a failing business losing money everyday, being forced to sell most of her 'beloved' possessions to pay off debts, having a lunatic for a husband and a corpse for a son that seemed punishable enough. Even so," The fury that burned in her eyes cooled down into a smile. A dark, twisted smile that chilled his bones. "I couldn't resist stopping by and giving my dear aunt makeover. A little," She caught his eye and his veins turned to ice by the darkness, the cold amusement swirling in her gaze. "touch-up."
Her companion let out a malicious chuckle that explained just how hands-on the makeover had gone. And that he might have played part in it.
The baby stirred again, letting out a soft cry, squirming in its' mother's arms. With a little humming, it was soothed once again, and settled back into the basket gently.
"Sadly," she continued on. "I couldn't let Tom Riddle get away so easily. Not after all the despicable things he had done to other women before me. Not after the days he spent before my 'death' corning me every chance he had to whisper all the sick things he would do with me. To me. It shockingly wasn't that hard to sneak into his house. Just like it wasn't hard sneaking into his room and cutting him into pieces."
His body lit in mortification as he felt hot piss spreading across his lap, down his legs.
"As for the rest of the family?" She dismissed it with a simple shrug. "Collateral damage."
"Why-so-" It took multiple attempts for the priest to get the words across. "Why are you here then? It sounds like you have your happy ending."
Her smiling lips soured into a disappointed pout, as if he was overlooking a vital piece laid out in front of him. "You weren't paying attention. The young woman had a list of all those who were behind her suffering. Her monstrous relatives, her former rapist and future one, and you." The pout thinned into a tight line. "The high-holy, self-righteous priest."
She pulled out the left dagger nailing his hand and struck him across the face with the halt.
It took forever for the vivid red stars to clear from his vision. Even longer for the ringing to stop.
"Who knew right from the beginning how vile Petunia Dursley and her family were. Knew from day one about the abuse that was being done to the girl. Knew why and what she was running away from. Yet still had the nerve to throw her back to those monsters because he believed reluctant hospitality was something she should be grateful. Because he thought himself a God."
"Not true!" Dumbledore protested. "I was serving His will. I was helping you-"
His face met the wooden surface of his desk over and over again. Until his nose was ripe-swollen and broken. Until teeth were cracked, its fragments falling like snow. Until red dripped from the wounds, painting the desk in thick streaks. Only then did the beast pulled him back up, grip tight around his neck, and flung him against the chair.
"You were torturing me, along with them. In fact, Priest Dumbledore, I'd say you were the worst of them all."
His head was swimming in pain. He tried to speak, but there was too much tooth shards, too much blood blocking the words.
"You were no better than Draco's father," she declared. "So lost in your arrogance, so enthralled by your power, innocent children suffered and were remade into monsters."
He was only trying to help. He wanted her to stay good and obedient.
She rose from her chair and walked closer to his desk. The look in her eyes so calm, so chilling, fear gripped him by the heart and squeezed tight.
"I came here for several reasons. To tell the story, the true story of the Big Bad Wolf. To deliver Tom Riddle's head to show you the product of your arrogance. Most of all," She leaned in closer. "So my face will be the last thing you see before you die."
She stuffed a rose into his mouth, fully-bloomed and thorn-pricked.
At the exact moment she plunged a dagger deeply into his gut.
The creature of the night, the thing of nightmares, the former prince turned beast gazed down into the cot containing one of the few precious thing in his life.
From the second he felt her heartbeat fluttering inside her mother's womb, he loved her almost instantly. From the second she came into the world, she became his world. Six months in and the feeling only deepened. She was the spinning image of her mother from her dark curls, her golden skin, and the solemn aura that wrapped her like a cloak. One slight difference between the two was the cool gray eyes she inherited from him, carrying a sort of energy that spoke to him.
My dear Lyanna, he thought fondly with a smile, running a hand through her hair.
She proved once again what a unique baby she was, hardly stirring during their business with the priest. Heavily under her dreams or, perhaps like his mate, enthralled with keen instincts that called for silence.
Time would tell if she would be like him. He had no doubt, though, she'd grow up to be a fierce huntress like her mother. Until then, however, even long after then…
"I will protect you both." he vowed. He sealed the promise with a kiss bestowed on her forehead.
A shiver crawled up his skin as he felt a hand sliding up the back of his neck, soft lips following the path. He turned over to face the other center of his life. It never ceased to amaze him the look of love and trust that greeted every time he looked into those green eyes.
She smiled at him, and passed down the smile onto their daughter. She stroked her cheek and traced lips, which formed into a smile at the touch.
"Mama's girl." he muttered.
Lyanna leaned more into her hand.
"Is it strange that even after all this time, it doesn't seem real to me?" she questioned. "Her, us. It feels like a dream."
He wrapped his arms her and nuzzled against her back, kissing the nape of her neck. "Believe me, I know."
And he was thankful each day that it was a reality.
She turned over to him, her hands pressed against his chest, wickedness touching her smile as she looked at him. "Dear lover," she said. "What big ears you have." She playfully tugged at one of them.
He smirked in return. "The better to hear you with, my dear."
"Dear lover, what big eyes you have." Her hand moved from ear to face, slowly running her nail besides his left eye, down his cheek.
Heat charged the air between them as he edged them over to their bed. "The better to see you with, my dear."
She bit her lip as his nails raked through her dress, cutting through it like paper. Her nipples hardened from the cool air brushing against her skin, his warmth nuzzled against her. A gasp torn from her throat as he toyed with her nipple. His hand slide slower, teasing her center with a deliberate brush.
"Dear Lover," Little Red purred. "What big teeth you have."
He laid her across the bed like a virginal sacrifice. He cut through the remnants of her nightgown until she was bare before him. She gazed up at him, biting down on her lip, one hand playing her breast, the other slipping between her legs.
The perfect, beautiful entrée.
Eyes gleaming silver, teeth bare, nails sharp, the Big Bad Wolf said, "The better to eat you with, my dear."
He leaped onto the bed to collect his prize.