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Chapter 1: The Art Of Ruin
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She tried her hardest not to stare. It had been years since she had laid her eyes upon him — years since her lips had last brushed along his. But he hadn’t changed one bit; hair was still ruffled at the edges.
“I’m sick of running,” she said, skipping the pointless and vain introductions. Tom nodded softly; his gaze not lingering from Minerva’s face. She knew that she looked weathered and war torn, but, after years of running, what did she expect? No one had told her that she was beautiful for years now. “I’m lost, Tom. Please, please help me,” Minerva pleaded, her heart breaking in two as nostalgic memories flooded back to hers in waves.
Tom sauntered forward, his eyes showing no emotion like they used to. “Help you?” He echoed. Minerva rubbed her shoulders subconsciously as she attempted to block out the cold, English breeze that flew from the opposite side of the moor. Nodding, Minerva allowed herself to be at the mercy of the infamous Tom Riddle. “Why did you come to me?” Tom finally asked, his gaze still fixated on Minerva’s face.
“I have no one else to go to,” Minerva chocked out; her long brown hair flying wildly around her face. “Please, Tom. You said you would always be there for me. What changed?”
“I changed,” he stated simply, placing his hands in his front pockets. “Surely you cannot hold that against me, Minerva? You left and I changed; for better or for worse.” Minerva winced visibly at Tom’s harsh and unvarnished words, but he didn’t seem phased. He spoke unsympathetically; the same feeling behind them as if he was casually saying, 'hello.’
“It seemed at least an age ago that we were together, maybe even two,” Minerva mused, taking an audacious step forward.
“Two years to the date,” he said automatically, almost as if he had been mentally counting the days since he had seen her. Tom took a step forward and gently rested his hand on Minerva’s waist. She didn’t shy away as most girls would, but instead, welcome his touch; she wanted his touch. She wanted him and she wanted him to want her. His hand curled around her back and strongly, he pulled Minerva against his body. His touch was invigorating and sent shocks through Minerva’s body — shocks that she had not felt in two years. Lifting her head, Minerva’s eyes found Tom’s and without uttering another word, the loveless couple kissed. Their kiss was hungry and needy; Minerva’s hands worked their way up Tom’s back while Tom’s hands wound a difficult web in her brown hair. When the couple broke apart they were breathless. Entwining their hands together, they stared at one another.
“We could be together,” Minerva stated after several moments of uninterrupted bliss. “Leave this life, Tom. This is simply not you. You are not evil, Tom,” Tom’s gaze hardened and he pushed her away.
“But I am, Minerva,” he sneered. “Think of all the things we could accomplish together. You and me against the world.” He kissed her again and started deep into her eyes.
“No, this isn’t right Tom.” Pushing away from him, Minerva raised her hands to her head and attempted to control her emotions. “This isn’t you.”
Smiling, Tom wrapped his fingers around her wrists and pulled her close again. “I could end you,” he whispered. Letting go of her wrists, Tom’s fingers walked up to her neck. “One break and you wouldn’t breathe anymore.”
Tears streaming down her face, Minerva placed her fingers on Tom’s chest. “Tom let me help you,” she whimpered, her skinny frame shaking with fear.
“Don’t call me that!” Tom roared, slapping her across the cheek. “You know my name McGonagall. Say it. Say my name!”
“Lord grant me strength,” she whispered, clutching her red cheek. She had witnessed Tom’s fury numerous times but she had never been on the receiving end before. Tears stinging her eyes, Minerva turned to Tom—his face distort with rage.
“Goodbye, Tom.” Then, spinning around on the spot, she vanished and returned to her endless running.
A cold chill filled her when she entered the house. It had been many months since Minerva had stepped foot into her childhood haunt and it still hadn’t changed. So many months had passed since her last visit, but nothing had changed. Her childhood haunt remained the same; toys still hanging on the walls, and — if she strained her ears — Minerva could faintly hear the drip, drop of the water falling from the ceiling. She had been running. Running for so long that her legs grew tired. Minerva had run away from everything; her friends, her family, her future, her love and no matter what she did, she couldn’t run from this anymore. She couldn’t run from the world. She had tried and she had failed.
Everyone had told her that her relationship with Tom was doomed from the start, but she refused to believe them; refused to say her love wasn’t true. Tom had treated her like a Princess, like someone worth fighting for, yet she had left him. To this day, Minerva could never say what truly led her to leave her perfect life; maybe she had seen what a monster Tom was really was, or maybe she had truly gone mad.
No thoughts ran through Minerva’s mind as she traced her fingers absentmindedly over her precious-childhood red velvet box. She couldn’t remember picking it off of the shelf or ridding the box of the dust that had collected on it, yet she must have, and closing her eyes momentarily, she allowed herself one last look into her memories; their first kiss by the Black Lake after an eventful Quidditch game, their first fight in the Forbidden Forest — their favourite haunt, even their first and last night together which had been in Minerva’s house while her parents were away.
Quickly, she snapped her eyes opened and forced her memories away, back into the collective velvet box.
‘My life,’ she thought, ‘my life is contained inside a red box.’
Allowing herself to look down at the box one last time, Minerva McGonagall knew that she had to do this; that is was the only way to end it, and that she couldn't move on with him haunting her life. She knew she had to do this; it was the only way to end it. She couldn’t move on with him in her life.
Rising to her feet, Minerva allowed the cold breeze to encircle her body. The cold didn’t bother her anymore; nothing did. Yes, Minerva had run, she cannot remember why, but she had, and now she was running again. Only this time, she wouldn’t know that she was running. With tears stinging her eyes, Minerva lifted the lid of the red box and allowed her memories to overflow, twisting and turning their way to the ground.
“It was always you,” Minerva whispered before obliterating her memories. “Always.”