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Chapter 46: Pachelbel's Canon
The girl in the mirror was beautiful.
More than beautiful, really; she looked stunning, as if she were an angel. Her hair was long, now past her shoulders, and it was made into coffee-colored ringlets, some framing her face and some falling down her back. Her skin was pale, but it seemed to glow, and on her cheeks there was a light pink blush which prevented her from looking unhealthy. Her bright auburn eyes were surrounded by makeup, mostly done by charms, but it made her eyes look wide and piercing. Her nails were properly filed and clipped, a crimson polish on them, and she touched nothing in fear of smudging them and making the girl in the mirror less than perfect.
Because that's what she looked like. Perfect in her dress, which was a shade of tan, but was covered with embroiders of red roses, shimmering in the light. Perfect in the way she stood, taller in her appropriately colored heels, and without any slouching whatsoever, because slouching made the girl's flawlessness look sloppy. Perfect in every single way. She looked perfect.
The truth of the matter was, though, that despite how flawless Scarlett looked in the mirror, how perfect her appearance was, she was anything but.
Georgiana beamed up at Scarlett from where she was as she made the final adjustments to the dress. "You look amazing," she complimented, and Scarlett smiled, though there were knots in her stomach. "I'm happy you went for the Amortentia. Everything is perfect now."
"Except..." Georgiana wrinkled her nose. "That music. I don't like it."
Scarlett smiled, though now it was intended to distract her. "I like muggle music," she defended. "My sister listens to it; why can't you? I thought you liked following in her footsteps."
"The only footsteps I follow in are my own, thank you," Georgiana said. "It's just distracting. And whiny."
"If you say so," Scarlett muttered, and Georgiana smirked, shaking her head and looking over Scarlett's whole appearance. "Everyone's out there?" Scarlett asked suddenly, looking away from Georgiana and again to the reflection in the mirror. "Everybody? Waiting for me?"
"Yeah," Georgiana said. "A lot of people came." Her face soured suddenly, though she hid it by looking down and adjusting the bottom of Scarlett's dress. "Black came."
Scarlett swallowed and hoped she looked impassive. "Did he really."
Georgiana clamped her eyes shut in disgust. "Ugh," she groaned. "I told him to get the hell out. He and his friends wouldn't listen. They thought I was being funny."
"Are they going to stay?" Scarlett asked, attempting to be casual. "I don't want a fight to start out, you know."
"Oh, I wouldn't worry about them pranking you or something," said Georgiana, misunderstanding. "I know why they're here. They're not looking to hurt you."
"What then?" Scarlett asked confusedly.
"Open bar," Georgiana elaborated. "I wouldn't worry about it."
Her eyebrows furrowed suddenly. "Why are you worrying about it?" she wondered. "Look at you. You're wearing your wedding dress, ready to walk down the aisle and marry my brother and have me as your bridesmaid. Don't worry about Sirius Black, okay?"
But Scarlett couldn't not.
In fact, Sirius was mostly what she was worrying about right now. She still could not stomach that he was here, because now that she really thought about it why should he be subjected to this? Scarlett didn't want to be subjected to it, herself-- how could she imagine how Sirius felt?
She sighed, but Georgiana did not notice. "We're almost ready," Georgiana said. "Your dad is giving you away. The bridesmaids, besides me, are all ready. Everything is ready. Everyone is waiting."
"When you hear the wedding march," Georgiana instructed, "go outside, out the back. Your dad will be waiting for you. You'll walk down the stairs... and, then... you'll get married."
Georgiana suddenly smiled. "It's perfect, you know?" she said. "Absolutely perfect. I want my wedding to be here. So beautiful. The scenery... the only thing that it needs is you. Are you ready?"
Scarlett gulped. "As ready as ever," she repeated from earlier, and for a second she could have sworn Georgiana gave her an odd look.
"I have to go," Georgiana said. "I have to get in line, but remember-- wedding march and then you go."
Georgiana's sentence trailed off as she left the room, and Scarlett was left alone, her muggle music still playing in the background. Her fingers shaking, she flicked her wand and turned it off; she was left with silence.
Marriage. So close-- so unbearably close. There was no getting out of it anymore. Even though Tenereus had warned her not to make this mistake, to choose between Sirius and Theodore, she couldn't. She couldn't stand being without Sirius, who didn't need to know her history to know her soul, who she fancied so strongly that it was almost as if she loved him, but she couldn't be without Theodore, who was her friend for years, who was her security blanket, her rock, her partner in society.
And, because she couldn't make a choice, she was left with a beautiful wedding dress, ready to walk down the aisle, as the boy she wanted to be with watched.
Now, she was left with chaos. She could feel that coming closer, too.
Suddenly, she could hear the piano play from outside, and she took a deep, shuddering breath as she stared at herself. It was time for her to face what she had ignored for so long. It was time to fake a smile, retain some composure, and become an integrated member of the society that she didn't feel like she fit into anymore.
She took one last look at the girl in the mirror as she left the room to face her fate, and she could not help but loathe her.
The first thing that Scarlett saw as she walked down the aisle was Theodore.
There was no doubt in her mind that he looked stunning. His appearance was just as heavily influenced by Georgiana's perfectionism, and it had paid off in the end. He wore simple, elegant robes that contrasted with the snow on the ground; Scarlett could see why she had been physically attracted to him in the first place. His hair was carefully arranged, just as much as hers, parted slightly to the side and looking professionally done.
And his eyes: they looked at her so passionately, so lovingly, that Scarlett felt her stomach clench. Everyone in the audience, including Scarlett, could see just how much he adored her. Everybody could see that Theodore was hopelessly in love with her, and the thought made Scarlett feel so, so guilty, because she had not done the right thing. She had allowed someone so trusting, someone so flawless, to fall in love with her.
She knew that she did not deserve him; she had realized this too late.
Theodore looked at her without any suspicion, without any worry, because she had never given Theodore any reason to worry about her faithfulness. From the beginning she had lied to him. She had always made him believe that they loved each other equally. He looked like he trusted her, looked like he believed she was the most important person in the world. Guilt bit at her bones, twisting into her bloodstream, and if Scarlett hadn't been so concentrated on making everything perfect for Theodore to try and erase her wrongs she would have winced.
The second thing she saw was Sirius.
He was somewhere nearby the back, so she saw him just as she passed. He was only accompanied with Peter and Remus; she assumed that James and Lily were enjoying Christmas Eve together. He, too, looked attractive, though it was in a rugged sort of way. His long hair looked slightly haphazard, like he had woven his hand through it many, many times.
And his eyes... his eyes met hers for one second and her breath escaped her. It was a miracle that she kept moving down the aisle, because Sirius's eyes were so haunting that she couldn't bother to think about her footsteps.
His eyes were furious and depressed. They were lustful and jealous and loving and hating, all at once. He would have looked expressionless to anyone else but her, because she knew Sirius. She could feel his fury and his depression and his lust and jealousy all hit her because she cared so much for the boy. She could feel how he felt, and her guilt almost made her stumble, because, oh God, Sirius looked like he loved her and he trusted her, too.
And she did not deserve that, either. She did not deserve any of this. She did not deserve either of them. She didn't deserve anything but the very worst.
Somehow she kept moving. Somehow she walked towards Theodore, because embedded in her mind she knew that this was what had to be. However, even though she finally arrived next to Theodore and managed to control her trembling hands, she still saw Sirius's eyes burned in her mind.
"Ladies and gentlemen," the priest spoke. "We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two faithful souls..."
Scarlett could have scoffed if she felt more ironic, but at the moment she was terrified.
How could she be so stupid to allow this to happen? How could she have not stopped this before? Why hadn't she just told Theodore she was sorry? Everything would have been fixed. She could have been with Sirius, and, although she would have been at first met with distaste by her friends, they would understand in time.
But now she was caught. One hand was reaching to Sirius and the other was reaching to Theodore, and they were becoming farther and farther apart. She was torn and caught and so bloody stupid. So stupid and ignorant.
Sirius had been right. She did run away from her problems. She had known this, but, coward that she was, had not pursued the thought. Her curiosity had grown, her impulse had grown-- but, in a moment that required decision, she had shied away. She had pretended that a balance could exist between two things that could not mesh, would never mesh--
And here she was.
"Do you, Theodore Demetri, take Scarlett Alysha to be the one true love of your life, to live together in the covenant of marriage, to be faithful to her and to place her needs above your own, as long as you both shall live?"
She loved Theodore. She really did. But she did not love him in this way. If she had had more sense, this wedding would not be happening.
But Scarlett had been senseless.
"Of course," Theodore said quietly.
How could she hurt him?
"And do you, Scarlett Alysha, take Theodore Demetri to be the one true love of your life, to live together in the covenant of marriage, to be faithful to him and to place his needs above your own, as long as you both shall live?"
She could have sworn she heard Sirius catch his breath, but perhaps it was her imagination. Maybe it was her own breath that was suddenly gone, because if she said yes then she would be lying again. She would be lying to Theodore so expertly and so smoothly and, what was worse, he didn't suspect her at all.
She was not faithful. He was not the one true love of her life, and she sure as hell didn't place his needs above her own.
Regardless, though, she straightened her posture and looked Theodore in the eye, though it hurt her to do so. "I will," she murmured, just as quietly.
As the priest spoke again, asking them to exchange their vows, Scarlett felt sick.
Because she... she could feel in her heart that she loved Sirius. And she couldn't believe she had asked him to come to her wedding when she should have been aware how much it pained him. His pain pained her.
She was so selfish. So terrible.
"Scarlett, please hold Theodore's hands in yours, so that you may see the gift they are to you."
She obliged, though she was more focused on steadying her hands.
"These are the hands, young and strong and vibrant with love, that hold yours on your wedding day, as he promises to love you and commit to you all the days of his life."
Why would she do this to him? Why, why? How could she have ever believed that everything would work out in the end?
"These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness."
A lifetime of guilt. A lifetime of constantly wronging Theodore and constantly wronging Sirius.
"These are the hands that will tenderly lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into his eyes-- eyes filled fully with his overwhelming love for you."
They both loved her... so, so much. And she loved them both back, but it was an unfair love, where there was more take than give in her case. It was unfair because Sirius could never have her and Theodore would never have her.
He slipped a ring onto her finger then, and it was more beautiful than the ring he had given her in the forest.
Her head was spinning as she slipped one onto his and mumbled the words that were supposed to be so heartfelt. How could she have avoided this? Why did she want to avoid when the inevitable collision hurt far, far worse?
"Theodore and Scarlett, now that you have heard and spoken these words of love and marriage, now that you have expressed your love in declaring your vows to one another, and now that you have celebrated your union by giving each other these beautiful rings, it is with great joy that I declare you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride, and I present to you all Mr. and Mrs. Nott!"
Shuddering. Her heart beat at an irregular pace and she hardly mustered the energy to stand. She felt as if time was done, gone, and she was left with nothing. Emptiness, so unlike the fullness of love she was sure Theodore had, fell down upon her, and more than anything she wanted to run away.
But she couldn't run away anymore. There was no more time to run away. There was no more time to make a choice, and by choosing nothing Scarlett was sentencing herself in unimaginable ways. No more could she run away and avoid, because it was all right in front of her. She felt like she was looking in the mirror again, the perfect girl not a reassurance anymore but a nightmare. She looked wrong. So, so wrong, because she wasn't meant to be here but she wasn't supposed to not be here. This was her fate but it didn't fit for her anymore and the perfect girl in the mirror screamed and became inhuman, imperfect, and wrong.
Theodore Nott kissed Scarlett Devous then and the reflection cracked and the hourglass was empty and everything was gone, all gone, because at that moment Scarlett realized how terrible of a mistake she had made and how terrible the consequences were that resided now in her future.