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The Ides of March by patronus_charm
Chapter 1: A star riding through clouds.
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I watch you. I watch your swinging hair, your soft lips, the way you smile at some and not at all at others. I watch how your glance skims over me, dancing over to the yew tree instead, the blades of grass, the turrets of our home, of Hogwarts. They dance over almost everything, but never over me. Never have, never will.
You occupy the pages of my books, scribbled drawings of you here and there, the long flowing brown of your hair, the red and gold of your robes melded into it. Your name's curved onto the pages, so thickly I can see the days my quill was not quite sharp enough to etch everything out. Eleanor Gryffindor, glimmers your name. Entwined beneath is my very own, Helena Ravenclaw. Helena Ravenclaw sickeningly loyal to Eleanor Gryffindor. Sickeningly in love with Eleanor Gryffindor.
For it is a disease, strangling away at me so my thought and reason are obscured away and lust takes over. I know it is wrong, I have known it for a long time. I have studied the book well enough now to know it. I know what the word of God states on the subject. I shall burn in the fiery pits of hell for this sin, for this vice.
But I will do all of that to be with you, my Eleanor, my love.
With you, with you, with you. The words filter through my head endlessly. That’s how much I think of you, there is no limit to my love.
‘Pay attention, Helena,’ Mother screams at me when my thoughts fade onto you and my eyes flicker in and out of the world. As they often do that, she often screams. ‘Do your work. Listen. Oh the shame of having a daughter who lacks wisdom. What must everyone think?’
I am her only child, her only one. Not like Godric who has spawns of children, erupting out of everywhere. Not like Helga who says that the students are her children and she does not want a babe of her own body. Not even like Salazar, even he has two sons to act as heirs and a daughter to marry off at his choosing. Though I am not allowed to think about Salazar, Mother doesn’t like it.
Out of all the Founders' children, I am the sickly child. The lost child. The child whose mother never really wanted her.
Not like Eleanor, not like her at all.
She is the child most loved and adored by her parents. The child most loved and adored by my mother. The only one who doesn’t love and adore her the most is Helga who claims no favourites over us. But I love and adore Eleanor the most. She is meant to be loved and adored.
My father probably even preferred her to me even if he is only a faceless shadow in the back of my mind. Facts on him are always sparse so it is easy to guess his opinions.
‘He died shortly after you were born,’ Mother always tells me curtly, the sole thing she ever says about him.
Aunt Helga sometimes lets more out but that is only when the demons chase me in my sleep and she needs to silence my mournful wails. Even at seventeen years of age, tales of my father are the only thing which soothe me to sleep.
‘He was a charming man,’ she will sometimes say. ‘He made your mother smile a lot. He was the only one who ever could. He was witty too. He could almost match your mother in intellectual duels if that tells you something, Helena.’
‘Tell me more, Aunt Helga, please tell me more,’ I always say, clinging to the bottom of her skirts.
She will always sigh but give in anyhow. ‘He was a Muggleborn, someone with no magical background. There is nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with that at all, but I do believe it caused some rifts between Salazar and your mother. It’s why you aren’t allowed to speak of him. It only refreshes old wounds.’
‘What did he do, as a Muggleborn that is?’
Aunt Helga lets out a little laugh. ‘Muggleborns can have the same jobs as wizards and witches, but he did have a different one I suppose. He was interested in the Church, the Bible. He taught other people about them and turned them to the light. He was a very blessed man for that.’
Aunt Helga gave me my first Bible after that. Leather bound, loose threads and yellowing pages, I treasure it still. I learnt about everything from that book, about how I have fallen in with Lucifer, why I have fallen to him too, how my love for Eleanor is wrong despite it growing for each day that passes. Mother always snatches away my book when she sees it, she says it’s Muggle nonsense. I do not believe her. I think she is lying. Father thought its words were true so it must be.
You catch me one day; you catch me staring at you that is. It is Yuletide and most of the other students have returned home. Only the children of Gryffindor and I remain, a scant few others lurk about but we do not notice them too much.
I wander the halls, following you now and then, reading in the library or going to chapel in Hogsmeade, my usual pastimes. It is when I am doing the most innocent of these things, reading at the ash table in the library, when you chance upon me.
‘Helena,’ you sing out loud and clear. ‘Helena, wait, I must talk to you. I have to ask you something.’
I turn my head, taking in your beauty. The gown you wear is crimson bedecked with a festive gold trim. Your father’s colours are creeping up again, following you wherever you go. Reminding me of the division between you and I. That we may have to remain separate forever and ever. Forever does such have such a firm feel to it, that it can never be penetrated, broken down, but will always stand tall and proud while everyone writhers away in their melancholic mortality.
‘Yes, Eleanor,’ I reply softly, my voice, mind, body quite entranced by your beauty that it loses all its strength.
You walk forward, each leg stretching and then pausing as if an immense amount of thought and detail lies behind each move. The closer and closer your approach gets, the more and more spherical your movements become. Round and round you circulate, each orbit drawing you inwards.
‘Are you enjoying this, Helena?’ you tease me, a laugh tinkling on from your words. ‘Do you like being watched?’
‘I haven’t yet formed an opinion of it.’
Another laugh, another smile, another orbit.
‘You Ravenclaws, always speaking in metaphors, similes! Your language is so obscure we have to decipher each sentence you speak. Is it natural or do you Claws enjoy riddles so much you do it for amusement?’
A pause. You stare at me, your eyes being endless pools of depth and intrigue. No matter how often I gaze at them I will never know what truly lies behind them.
‘I don’t know. We often ponder how we formulate sentences, but for me it is a collection of words tumbling out of my mouth, nothing more, nothing less.’
I feel your eyes upon me as I talk. They trace me, follow me, wherever my own pair move, yours follow shortly after. One of my feet rocks back onto its heel, your left mirrors it. I scratch my right eye, you scratch your left. On and on this dance goes until you muster a laugh before strolling over and whispering in my ear.
‘Tonight, Helena. Meet me tonight. At the edge of the forest. Meet me there and I’ll explain everything.’
I do not have a chance to ask at what time precisely before you have swept out of the library and left me lost in the familiar winds of solitude. Your appearance almost feels like an apparition for it granted so many of my wishes. You spoke to me, you laughed with me, even teased me a little, but why? Why, why, why? Why would you choose me, strange, plain, lonesome, Helena?
Flickers of memory overwhelm me. You barely uttering a word to me for all the years we have lived together. The strange glances being the only thing I received. The gaggle of giggling girls, you always among them, following me through the corridors. The scurry to flee me when I approached. We never spoke, we never uttered a word, except for the simplest ones - good day, good night and thank you.
How could that have made you love me? How? How? How? How would that make you love me? My plain, placid character do me no credit, so what made you choose me? The more I think, the greater the problem grows. Only you can solve it.
I see your glow before I see you as I approach the forest. I sense your presence before I see it. You must be a thing of the stars, Eleanor, something beyond this realm, because why else could you enchant me so.
With each step I leave an ebony imprint in the ivory snow. I can see your pathway before me, the delicate stains in the snow, and I take care to walk around them, beside them. Then we can be together. Together. Together. Together. The word rings in my head. If Mother finds out we are together, she would lock me out so I could bring no more shame to the world. She is not overtly fond of abnormalities.
‘The most important and treasured thing you have beyond your mind is your reputation, Helena,’ she told me once. ‘Do not ever destroy it, because not even wit could save you then. I couldn’t save you then. You would be beyond any form of help. Do you understand?’
The warnings rings around with the words. Images of me burning with Lucifer, never being forgiven in the eyes of God, for not even Purgatory could save me if I fell to sin. I feel as if I am falling now, the world cascading down beside me as I walk closer to you. That if I tread any further I will be damned forever and ever, but I cannot resist, I cannot abstain, I have to be with you.
‘Helena, I am here,’ you say from the depths of black. I step forward a little and see you leant against the pile of stones, cloak heavily wrapped around you.
‘Eleanor,’ I whisper, my words so inadequate to your own that they seep grey into the air, staining it with my mumbles. ‘What do you want to explain?’
‘Come closer, the words cannot be heard by an outsider. Father would never forgive me if what I am about to say was listened to by an unworthy ear.’
I move forward so I am almost beside you. The air seems less bitter now, beside you. It grazed at me before, scrapping at me relentlessly. All is still now. All is still beside the copse of trees shielding us from the wind. All is still beside you.
‘I have seen you watching me. Watching me wherever I go. It is rather amusing to see you do that, endearing too.’
My fingers lace the embroidery on my dress. It is from the Flanders. Some of the finest wool around. It does not help now though. I am constrained within the material, my chest bound up tight, unable to beat freely. Unable to break through and chase for the hills at Eleanor’s accusations. I cannot face them. I cannot let the secret of them be known to all. It would ruin everything. It would ruin me.
‘There is no need to be afraid, Helena,’ you say softly, ‘Ease your heart. There is no need to fear a thing. Only I know this secret of yours because I watch you too. I watch every move you make. I watch the way you look away from me when you think I am watching you. I watch the way you scribble away on the parchment, always concealing it from others. I watch you do everything.’
Everything. Everything. Everything.
‘I find you...’ You pause and I do not dare look at you. Disgusting. Disturbed. Deranged. Any one of those words will be thrown at me, I know it, and I will be maimed forever when I find out you think of me in that way.
‘Enchanting,’ you finally finish, sighing as you do so. ‘You are very enchanting. You always do catch my eye, after all.’
The words cause the stars to be fired into the air, exploding all around us and decorating the earth in an ethereal white as the unexpected becomes a reality for once. The world itself is enchanting with the way it listens to one’s wishes and tries to make them occur. Life itself is enchanting with its miracles.
But what is more enchanting is that you do not hate me, that you did not use any of those three words to describe me. That you, perhaps, even like me. Being liked is always an enchanting thing for me as I do not often experience it.
As the sun rises in the dusky pink sky, I stroll towards Hogsmeade to attend the morning service and to pay my thanks to the Almighty for letting this happen. The light flickers across the fields, each beam shining brightly and shining so purely I cannot be mistaken for its origin. I cannot be mistaken for what it means.
I no longer dwell within the land of delusions, fear and confusion but in the land of dreams, hope and purity. I dwell in your land.
Author's Note: Hi and welcome to my latest story, a Founders slash with religious elements which means I have now written in every era and this is my first multi-chaptered slash story so whoo for new things! In my headcanon, I always imagined people being a bit more religious hence why Helena references it quite a bit. :)
The quote at the top of this chapter and the chapter title come from the amazing Virginia Woolf and page 39 of The Waves, Google Books edition, so all credit goes to her! I also need to thank Virginia Woolf again for acting as an inspiration to this story and her work guided me through this! ♥
I just need to edit the rest of The Ides of March as it's already written with ten chapters in total, so I should hopefully update every week or two! Thank you for reading this first chapter though, and if you have time, I would love to get some feedback on this as it's so different for me!
Chapter 2: Nothing thicker than a knife's blade.
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‘Helena, you have seemed so detached lately, you must be spending too much time outdoors because I do find the wind makes your thoughts all loose and discarded. You cannot formulate a single thought when they are like that, so stay inside, Helena. Stay inside and read the book about the magic of the Norse community. It is very informative and will aid your History of Magic studies greatly.’
‘Yes, Mother. I will go and fetch it now.’
‘Very good, Helena. Remember, do not forget to read every day. Your mind requires it for nourishment and only the fool forget that. You do not wish to be a fool, Helena, do you? An existence as a fool is a rather barren one after all.’
I nod and even allow a small smile to creep onto my face for nothing can harm, hurt or hinder me today. I met Eleanor in the rain whilst everyone else attended breakfast in the Great Hall. I met her in the rain, in the shadow of the Unicorn Lair whose residents understand the power of abstract ideas and how beauty can be found everywhere. There, we can be understood.
Streams of white bleed across the windows, bleaching them until the frame is no longer transparent. It is no longer translucent either, but an opaque, thick forming colour blocking out everything and one. Like my mind, I ponder. It wanders about, trying to focus upon a subject, a matter of interest, but the only thing which captivates it is you, dear Eleanor, all is lost to you.
‘The snow is building up for every hour that passes, is it not, Helena?’ Aunt Helga asks me, turning in her chair to face me. ‘I am beginning to fear that the students will not be able to return from their homes after Yuletide. But I always am a worrier, am I not, Helena?’
I indulge her with a rare smile of mine before speaking. ‘Yes, but the snow is rather thick so you have reason to worry, Aunt. I do hope that your plants will not be damaged as that would be a shame.’
‘I think they shall survive the night. They are considerably sturdier than us.’
I nod at her words before returning to my book. The words sprawled across the pages mean not a word to me, the streams of black float up and down, not sticking to the set lines but having a life of their own. It is my final Christmas Eve as a student here. It is my final one before my eighteenth year. My final one before all the unknowns begin.
Time flows before me, never-ending in its stream of numbers as each one flickers upwards and upwards, getting closer and closer to the Day of Judgement. Soon, my husband will be chosen for me and I will be forced to live a life of solitude, locked up in his house and the sole purpose of my life will be to respond his bidding. A rather dismal prospect if I do say so myself.
The idea of you, Eleanor, the owner of the sweetest and dearest heart, always disappears into the depths of the past at this point. The idea of you is forgotten as nothing can withstand the power of society, of upward wills and desires. I am simply a lump of clay, a blot in the landscape, ready to be faded out, moulded into something, whenever someone desires it. My own desires will never prevail.
‘Aunt Helga, may I ask you something?’ I say.
This is the reason for me following her after dinner. Alone and secluded in her private chamber, I can ask her anything that takes my fancy without fear of anyone entering and interrupting our talks. Anyone being a potential talker who could ruin everything for me if they listened to too much of this conversation.
‘Yes, dear, I had a feeling something was bothering you. You seemed so… so lost, I suppose, today. Tell me child, what is it?’
Her words surround me and provide the warmth my own mother’s tongue is expected to give out. Except Mother’s words are never ones of calm and patience but of barbs and bruises. If I listen too carefully, too much too, I will be forever bruised and beaten down by them. With Mother she is the lone victor, the wielder of the knife. She alone is the one who has decided who succeeds or fails, and she has clearly dealt her cards for me as Nike, the winged Goddess of Victory, does not fly by my side.
‘If one knows one is doing something wrong, something which could be considered as eternal admonition for the soul, would one carry on with it? Would one carry on with it because for once it gave them boundless joy and a meaning for their bleak existence? Would one carry on with it because it meant that when the sun shines and one finally knew the reason for its beams of light? Would one be allowed to carry on for all of that?’
‘That was quite some speech, Helena, dearest. Are you sure you are not better served by asking your mother these questions of morality and the sanctity of the spirit? My knowledge severely lacks the depth of your mother’s; surely, she could give you these answers?’
‘She could, Aunt Helga, she could. But she would not. She will believe, and say so accordingly, that my soul deserves to be damned if I do anything which will cause my reputation to fall into disrepair. She will not sympathise at all, she will just yell and cry and tell me that she will damn me even more. You do not understand, Aunt Helga, she will not help me.’
I watch Aunt Helga’s absorb my words for what they are. Her face tenses up so its transformed into a world of ditches and rivets, of tracks and holes as the wrinkles make her face take on a wild, beastly form almost. She is transformed and I begin to fear. Fear because when Helga is like this it only leads to outbursts between her and Mother.
‘You may find that help is easier to find if you did not insist on speaking in riddles and metaphors for every line of your speech, Helena, as that does make it a good deal harder to understand. However, I will try and address the matters at hand. I do believe that if the question of the afterlife is involved, one must heed great caution. I know your mother disapproves of these matters, a thing which caused a great deal many of the rifts between your father and her, but I do believe some truth does lie behind the idea of a life beyond this one.
‘So I will warn you now that whatever you are doing must be done with the image of Him in mind. Whatever you do must take concern for where you want to lead your later life. Your life is a gift, Helena, do not make it a damned one because you will have eternity to contemplate all the mistakes you make. Do what you know is right and nothing shall come to harm.’
A life of being damned. A life of being fallen. A life of sinning. I have been ignorant in the light of wisdom. I have been gluttonous in the light of self-surrender. I have been vanity in the light of the mirror.
I have fallen to the deadly sins. I will have to try and redeem myself.
You seek me out in my daily stroll of the grounds a few days after Christmas Day, when the festivities have finally begun to wind down. I see you, I sense you, I hear you, all of my sensors for Eleanor Gryffindor have remained on full alert but I block you out. I will not fall. I will not fail. I will not flounder. Loving you is not right, correct, proper, I know that and I shall remember that.
‘Helena, Helena, Helena,’ your voice chimes through the icicle filled air. No, I will not respond to your cries. I will not submit to your charm. I will repent and ask for forgiveness and hope that God finds it within his heart to grant me that.
That is all I can ask for as I am sinner who remains sinning.
‘Helena, why do you ignore me? Why do you ignore my cries and shouts? Helena, listen. Please.’
Your voice taunts and teases me. I run to the depths of the forest, trying to flee from the root of my joy, my lust, my desire. Aunt Helga is right. I must not think only of my life now, the life of the present but the one of the future too and what will happen to my soul there. I may even do Mother proud in my decision, Father too. He was a man of the cloth, he will understand my decision.
‘Helena, who has said that what we are doing is wrong? Who has warned you off of the path of what is right for us, what is virtuous for us? Helena, you must not listen to their poison, their venom. Helena, you have to see the world is a place of dual thoughts, meanings, perspectives. What may be wrong for them is right for us. Please accept that. Please don’t give in.’
I cannot listen. I cannot answer. I raise my hands to my ears and begin to whisper what Aunt Helga said to me. On and on the words go, floating around my mind. Providing me comfort in this time of isolation. For I am not alone when I say these words. I do not need you, Eleanor, however much my heart yearns, begs, cries for you. I will live on without, you, Eleanor. I will do that.
I think of your soul, your future too, though. I do not want it to perish away in the curls of charcoal where all the other sinners slumber.
I manage to evade your ethereal presence for the rest of the walk. I manage to evade it again whilst having supper, as I choose to isolate myself on the solitary Ravenclaw table and sup with a book by my side. It pleases Mother anyhow as I see she smiles down at me as I pull it out from beneath the table.
I do not, however, evade you during the stroll back from Aunt Helga’s chamber. We had been saying our evening prayers together as we both find that when they are said in the company of another they contain even more power than otherwise and the Lord may be more likely to answer our wishes then. As I bid her farewell and goodnight and secure the door shut behind myself, I see you then.
‘Helena, talk to me. I beseech you. Please do not turn from me again. I cannot bear it. I cannot bear being without you. Please, listen to what I have to say.’
I am lost. I cannot give in, I cannot, but the solid thump, thump, thump of heart does not slacken in its pace, only grows to be faster and faster for every second that I stand here. I want to listen to you. I want to be with you. However, I equally wish not to be damned.
‘You may speak. You may whisper the words which have been burdening you, but I will not turn. I will not see you for then my soul may be safe, may not be as damned. I cannot simply think of now, Eleanor, I must think of beyond that. I must think of the future of both of us.’
‘Helena, do not tell me that you honestly believe that we could be damned for what we may be about to do? Do not tell me that you think the words found within the Holy Book are the sincere truth? Do not tell me that is what you believe? For it is fool’s words, a trickster’s, a joke. Yes, there may be an Almighty Lord who will come to judge us one day but there is no evil, no sin, in what we’re doing. God gave us these feelings, he gave us these emotions, he gave the world you and I, so do not believe that what you feel is wrong. He made us like this.’
‘Aunt Helga said-'
‘What Aunt Helga said may be true for some,’ you say, swiftly cutting me off, ‘For murderers, for beggars and robbers, but not for us as it is only love we feel and is that really evil? Is caring for one another a crime? Answer me that, Helena, answer me truthfully, from your own heart, is that a crime?’
I pause, the words spinning round and round, so fast I almost feel nauseous. Round and round they go, an increase in tempo, a change of direction. One, two, three, one two, three, I count the rhythm in my head. God, love, sin. God, love sin. What do the words mean? What do they really mean?
‘I do not know, Eleanor. I do not know what is truth, what is false, what is a carnal crime or what is even a crime. I do not know a thing. I am a fool.’
‘I see…’ you murmur softly, your voice swirling off down the corridor, disappearing into the wisps of darkness. ‘I see how it is. I see what you’ve decided. I shall accept that then. I shall have to.’
‘But…’ I sigh, if I am to commit a carnal crime by uttering these words, so be it. ‘I do know that I love you.’
The words spill out of my tongue like the fumes of a potion spilling out into the air. Uncontrollable, untameable, they spill out. They continue to do so, running and running down the corridor as if the whole word will know my most intimate secret, the secret of my heart. They will know how I feel. All will. Even Him, up above.
‘You do, you really do…’
‘Yes, I do.’
And an ocean of calm washes over me. I feel as if I have been plunged into the lake and that my body has been wiped clean and I have been born again with a purer life, a purer mind, a purer heart. Happiness washes over the melancholy. This is what it is to be.
Author's Note: Sorry for taking ages to update, September was the craziest month ever for me in terms of school work and then October I had a load of personal issues to deal with, so the next chapter had to wait until November but I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless!
The quote at the top and in the title comes from page 421 of Selected Works of Virginia Woolf by Virginia Woolf, Google Books Edition, and again, thank you, Virginia Woolf, for being a massive inspiration!
If you have time, please review as I would love to know what you think, and thanks for reading! ♥
Chapter 3: Melancholy were the sounds.
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Existing. Living. Being. Existing is what I was in those bleak, sorrow tinged days when I was isolated from the world, knowing my feelings for you were wrong. Living is what I was before that and before you spoke to me, when I watched you from afar, admiring not trespassing, beyond existing but not being.
I am being now. I am a vision of what I want myself to be. I am what I am. The words echo around my head. I have self, a purpose. I am no longer a lone ego floating through the world in despair, but a living, breathing, existing being.
A being which beats for you, Eleanor, which hurls its heart out at the rocks so it can be slain for you. A being which accepts your soul as the holiest of holy. A being just for you, Eleanor.
‘It will have to be,’ Mother says slowly. ‘It is the only way to control her, the only way to make her give in. It will have to be.’
‘Are you sure, Rowena? Is that what you wish for your daughter? This man?’ Eleanor’s father, Godric, asks her. ‘Do you believe he is right for her after everything that we have heard about him? All of those rumours must have their roots in some truth.’
‘He will have to be acceptable for her. For who else will marry her given the rumours she attracts herself? She is not charming, she is not normal, she is not even pretty, so it is an achievement that I have secured a man of this standing to marry her. He is a baron, so of equal class to her own. I could not wish for better. She will soon learn that he will be good for her.’
I sigh as my eyes fall to the floor. I must hide my presence, hide the fact I stood here. It seems as if I am to be married. It seems as if I will be pulled away from dearest Eleanor again. It seems as if I will have no choice yet again. I can only be thankful for the fact that I now know what will happen to me, I have prior warning, and that itself is worth a lot.
Mother would have only divulged these details to me when I was standing before the Church and instead of being greeted by the usual congregation, I would have been greeted by guests for my own wedding. Silence has always been Mother’s preferred method for going about things. She always thinks that I lack the intellect to understand the greater the plan which will lead to the greater good for us all.
That is how it is with Mother. Secrets floating round and round until they have stained the air a steel blue, the colour of deception. When I look at Mother, that is the only colour I see. In her eyes, hands, face, lips, she only speaks when there is a deception to be said. All her words are lies to me.
Forever hidden by a guise, I wonder whether if I will ever know my own mother for her true self.
I see your hand curl around the note, the note revealing everything. The note revealing what your father and my mother have been plotting together in secret. The secret of my marriage. Me being bound to an unknown, to a man, to a thing, which will keep me forever. It is a strange thought, being with a man. A man. A man. A man. The word rings around my head.
That has always been something which has perplexed me.
Not a man, as I am half a man in a way, half of me is my father so I must be half a boy, half male. But since the moment of my birth those halves haven’t met or collided, they have been kept separate, apart. Girls have Herbology while boys have Potions, then they switch, never meeting in the corridors. Girls sit at the top end of the dining table, boys at the bottom. Girls conceal, boys reveal. On and on and on, I can list examples of my separate life from the other half.
Which is why it makes no sense.
Why keep us apart? Why keep us separate? I cannot live with someone if I do not know their habits. This is why they need to understand that finding love with another of the same skin, same temperament, same feeling is perhaps much more natural rather than finding love with a different skin, temperament, feeling. We already know what to expect from women whereas with men it is as if we are delving into a whole new world, a different system of thought. They are foreign beings to us.
You rise and nod your head to the left, our secret signal to go and talk. I nod mine to the right and follow you out of the room. We do not converse until we are safely secluded away on the third floor Charms corridor. It is still the Christmas holidays, so we do not fear of loiterers.
‘Helena, what does this mean? Are you sure of it? Are you certain?’ Your voice trembles, up, down, up, down, up, down, injecting fear into the air with each tremble. ‘I cannot bear to think of being without you. I cannot.’
‘It doesn’t mean a thing,’ I say slowly, resolving to believe these words as they pour out. ‘It doesn’t mean a thing. I may never even marry him. I do not want to marry him. He would be incomparable next to you, unlovable next to you, unimaginable next to you. You have to understand that. I will never love him, could never love him, this unknown man. He will mean nothing to me. I promise you that, Eleanor.’
‘The whole world was against us from the start,’ you say softly, moving in so your lips touch my ear. Each bit connecting together, merging together. ‘It will always be against people like us. Our reputation is against us. We cannot ever be together, Helena, never, ever. It would be impossible. We would be shunned, sent to hell if anyone found out. No one can ever find out about us, and I fear, in order for that to happen, you must marry.’
‘But no will find out, not ever. Do not think of that. Just to think of now, the present. If you think of that we will succeed, we will prevail. Do not think of failure.’
You and I can do this, Eleanor, I think to myself. We can fight these demons, this hell, this Devil, which cries out that we are on their side, that we are on the side of badness and treachery. We will show them though, show them we are floating along with a crowd of angels cheering us along the way.
‘Helena, my child, come here. I have some exciting news to tell you.’
Mother’s voice echoes across the room, her ability to carry it has always be a thing which has haunted me throughout my life for I have never been able to escape the shrills and shrieks of it. It is the eve before the students return to Hogwarts, the eve before the bliss that Eleanor and I have found will be ruined. The eve before the unknown appears.
I stumble forward, trying to recall the way Mother instructed me to walk. Heel, toe, heel, toe, my feet slide across the floor. Do not press too heavily on the floor, you look as if you’re in pain, not gliding as you should be, her warnings fly through my mind. Shoulders straight, neck tall, improve your posture girl, it is terrible. Pull, stretch, smile, her commands from years back still have their effect on me.
‘There, your walk has improved so much since I last observed it. You really are turning into a wonder, Helena. If you continue to use the spells I told you for your complexion, it should improve greatly and you may even be considered to be pretty. You could never be as magnificent as Godric’s eldest girl, Eleanor, but close enough to being adequate.’
I submit my head into a low and proud nod. I must always show my reverence and gratefulness to Mother for I would be nowhere without her wit, knowledge and creativity. I would be nothing without her independence, intellect and wisdom. Mother makes all the best in me. Mother knows that and I know that too.
‘As you know, you have almost completed your studies at Hogwarts and that we must find something to occupy yourself once your lessons have finished and I believe that I have found that something. I have found a husband for you, a very respected fellow, I should say. He is from the eastern coast of England, so though he may be a little different I think you will be very happy together. He is a baron, Baron Edmund Gelgoy in fact.’
‘But what of wit and intellect, won’t those two things disappear if I marry? I will be chained to my husband and forbidden from pursuing things. I would not be a true daughter of Rowena Ravenclaw, I would tarnish our name.’
‘Child, do you think I would have chosen a husband for you who did not value those qualities? I ensure you he thinks women need to be as well-bred as men and as well versed and cultured as them too. You will like him. I believe he will be good for you, a calming influence perhaps. He will arrive in a weeks’ time so you have a chance to acquaint yourself with him and grow to like him. Please do try that for my sake, Helena, because you may be surprised by what you come to feel for him.’
Eleanor’s words about concealing ourselves echo in my mind, they will guide me through.
‘I will, Mother, but only for you, not for him.’
‘You will do it for him too, Helena, and I do not wish to see you express this sort of impertinence when he is about. You may go now.’
I nod and run from the room.
It is the first day of lessons since everyone has returned from the Christmas break and I can already sense the difference. Your gazes make History of Magic the most riveting thing ever. I no longer doze off in the stroll from Herbology to Potions as I now hear your light chit chat drift through the air. I no longer do a lot of things because of you.
Even now, at dinner of the first day, I have something to occupy myself self with as I watch you chatting with your friends at the Gryffindor table, giving me secret smiles for each minute that passes. You have changed everything for me, Eleanor. I wonder if it’s the same with you, whether you have told your friends about us, what we do, what we feel for one another, what we talk about.
I have no friends.
Or no friends to talk about matters such as these with. I am acquainted with the Ravenclaws but could never spill secrets such as these to them. I have Aunt Helga but she is a friend to all and I do not think her reaction to this would be a pleasant one to witness.
All my real friends are fictive.
All my real friends are pieces of history, pieces of God, pieces of the Bible. I know their words, their minds well enough to be able to imagine conversations between us, I know what advice they would give to me. They are as real as your friends in a way, as real as any friends. They allow me to walk in the light which friendship sheds.
Author's Note: The quote at the top and the chapter title comes from page 42 of the Google Book edition of Jacob's Room by the wonderful Virginia Woolf! I hoped you liked this chapter and do you have any thoughts about what the Baron could mean for Eleanor and Helena (besides him killing Helena of course!), thank you for reading and if you have any time to spare, reviews would be much appreciated!
Merry Christmas Everyone! ♥
Chapter 4: Consider things like the stars.
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You name the place, I give the time and we arrive there for our secret talks, our secret walks.
In the light of the moon’s milky beams it feels as if anything is possible. It feels as if Selene, the woman of the moon, is waving down on us and praising our love. Letting us live this supposedly unacceptable life, letting us be our natural selves and not what we should be. Not what we ought to be.
We wander through the forest and meet the creatures who are on the stranger spectrum of normality. Creatures which we did not think existed until now. You tease them, stroke them. I, on the other hand, note their details and appearances, ready to be documented as soon as I return to my room. This is one of the few occasions where I show my mother’s traits.
The sun never appears in any of these secret meetings. The moon maiden is always our lone companion from the start to end. We do not need the sun and its joyous yellow. We do not need to be shown what is happiness or joy for we already know what it is.
‘The love of God is pure, is unrivalled by all other loves. It is often complicated, riddled with errors, trials and punishments, but you know that his love for you is always there. You know that in those times of hardships, he will be the one to provide you with solace and comfort. He will be there for you in spirit, mind and soul. He will always be there.’
The words slip into my mind as if they are an age old rhyme which I know by heart. I do in a way. I know that he speaks the truth. That God will be there for me when all others have failed. That I need not worry if I know he is there. It is why I am not bothered that I stand alone in Church, content with my thoughts and mind.
That is why it does not even bother me that you, Eleanor, are not by me or even in the Church at all. For you, even you with your unfaltering mind, beauty, wisdom, even with all of that, would fade into grey when placed next to him. His words transcend us all.
The service soon finishes after that brooding thought, and all the Hogwarts students gather together to be escorted back by Aunt Helga. Not me though, I must speak with the priest.
‘I will meet you at the castle, Aunt Helga,’ I say as she looks over at me. She gives me a small nod before returning to the crowd amassed around her and shooing them from the sacred space. I do not think that Godric Gryffindor or my mother, despite the fact her husband was a priest too, have ever set foot in here. Not at Christmas nor even at Easter, the most sacred day of the year.
It is their problem, their fault, their sin. They will be punished as they refuse to be forgiven for their wrongs. I will be safe. They are not.
‘Good day, Mistress Helena,’ one lady says to me, stepping out from the crowd gathered by the door. ‘I do hope your mother is in good health and spirits. I bid you to tell her young Joseph is quite well after that draught she gave him.’
‘I ensure you I will. She will be most glad to hear that is the case.’
The lady gives me a low nod and before I can move on I am confronted by an old, haggard-looking man.
‘Mistress Helena, please do tell your mother she is most welcome to use my roots of asphodel for potion making any time she wishes. She gave me the wisest advice about the lunar calendar and I must now repay her.’
‘I will, I will.’
The cries, greetings and requests continue to spurt out like blood from a fresh wound and I try and answer as best I can. Mother is always a prophet to them. An all knowing, all seeing, all being prophet who can gives them all of their wishes and desires, solving all their problems and evils. They do not realise that the Almighty God could do the same and probably a better job of it too. He is more deserving of their kind thoughts than she is after all.
Their cries slowly dissipate into the crisp January air, and soon it is only I and the priest left here. I must speak with him now. Save myself.
‘Father,’ I say softly, ambling over to him.‘May I have some advice about my spiritual journey. I feel as if have stumbled, fallen, from it and I seek help in finding it again.’
I shall not confess directly about you, Eleanor. As you say, you are not a sin. You cannot be as God gave me these feelings, these emotions, he alone causes my heart to swirl and grow like the tide of a current. He alone makes my heart dance the beat, beat, beat when I see you. He is the one who does this to me. Still, though, I feel as if I need to repent something.
The priest smiles and beckons me closer.
‘Speak now, and behold your sins before the eyes of God in the hope of redemption. Remember the Day of Judgement stands before us all. It is better to confess now and save your soul than leave it for later when the fiery pits of hell will stand before us.’
‘I will, Father, I will.’
‘Good child, now speak.’
‘Father, I believe I may have to go against my mother’s words. She wishes for me to marry a man I have never met, do not know a thing about, and I cannot. I have refused. I have tried to reason but she will not listen. She insists I meet him and attempt to like him so there can be some amicable feeling between us. However, I feel I cannot fall in love with him, let alone have friendly feeling towards him when I am in love with another.
‘It would be as if I was committing treason against my true love’s heart. As if I were painting my heart black as it did not care about the true red which fills me inside. It would be blasphemy, a crime, I could not do it. But she does not listen, understand. I cannot love someone whilst I love another so dearly. I will have no choice but to go against her word. This is not intentional sinning, merely necessary given the state of affairs.’
A silence draws up all of the air between us. Neither he nor I draw a breath, whisper a word while my confession of sin surrounds us, penetrates us, grips us in fear. I have gone against my mother, gone against the one thing which brought me into the world. It is as if I am going against him, the heavenly Father, as if I have no care for what he says. Who am I to know that the words my mother utters are not his. How am I not to know that? How? How? How?
‘What you speak of is one of the gravest sins, you speak of open and total refusal to your mother’s bidding. You refuse even though she has offered you a chance to grow and develop your feelings for this man. You have refused that and I am not sure what hope there is for you. I will pray for you, and hope you see that you are standing in the shadows of the world right now. Though I do not have much faith in that either. Now go, pray that you step away from this treacherous path, and you do what your mother says rather than cave to passion. Pray for salvation.’
I am lost. Lost in the world, room, thoughts, mind. I am lost to all now that God has lost faith in me. What am I without him? Nothing. What am I without her, my Eleanor? Nothing. Nothing with neither. Though when I have one I am denied from the other.
The murky claws of darkness are scraping at me. Pulling me in. Dissolving all that could be happy in my life. You are vanishing from my mind. You are vanishing from my thoughts. The letters of your name seem to be drifting away, up to the moon.
E – L – E – A – N – O – R.
There they go, one by one, in single procession. Each one leaving a finite trail of dust and sparks which are soon wiped away by the new dawn. The flick of the R still burns in my eyes, but soon that too will be gone. Gone. Gone. Gone.
Gone too is Helena Ravenclaw. Gone too I am, lost for all and forever.
Greens, browns, whites, and blues. All of the colours coagulate in my mind to form shapes, faces, people. All of them joining together to make a resemblance of reality. All of them blurring again as they try to focus in my mind. Nothing can focus here. Nothing can be real here, veridical. All is fake. All is lies.
Perhaps I am the Anti-Christ itself. Perhaps I am sin on earth. Perhaps I am what occupies the darkest of dark. Perhaps I am not a being, I am not living, existing. I am merely awake, alive, up here in my mind.
All the questions. All these questions. All. These. Questions.
Reality. Reality. Reality.
The word floats around my mind.
Perhaps this is a fictive reality. Perhaps you, Eleanor, you, the sweetest thing imaginable, perhaps you are not really a thing. Perhaps you are a dream, a delusion and that is the land I walk within now. It would explain why you always have an ethereal presence. Why though you say you are mine in mind, body, heart, spirit, it seems as if you are merely a cusp in my grasp, a thing which will never be in my grip.
One cry from you says we are not sin. Another from me says we are.
Other cries from the Bible, Aunt Helga and the Father incarnate say we are too and an admonition to all things good and pure. We will burn, burn, burn. Burn until even the white of our bones have faded to black and then we may have paid enough for our sin. Only then though.
But none of it seems to be the truth. None of it. Perhaps it’s because none of it is, none of it is reality. Then if that is true, I am not in reality.
Perhaps only God is and only in Death will I know what is and finally understand all the answers.
‘Helena? Are you alright?’ Mother calls out. ‘I have something to tell you. Edmund has arrived. Your betrothed is here. He wishes to meet with you, speak to you.’
Thud, thud, thud, voices murmur up above.
‘Can you hear me, Helena? Can you hear me?’
Stamp, stamp, stamp, a door swings open.
‘Helga, Helga, come quickly! Bring Godric, anyone! Helena has taken ill. She is not answering, responding. It is almost as if she is not here. Not on earth. She's gone! Gone!’
Bang, bang, bang, and a pounding heart returns and stands above me. All fades to black and I depart from here.
Author's Note: The quote at the top and the chapter title come from page 247 of Night and Day (Google Books edition) by the wonderful Virginia Woolf! I hope you liked this chapter and it was too philosophical/theological, any predictions or thoughts on this chapter would be fab, so if you had time to leave a review I would appreciate it a lot!
Thanks for reading! ♥
Chapter 5: Love makes one solitary.
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‘Helena, I am here. Can you hear me? It is I, Eleanor. Your love.’
Your soft words are like the voice of paradise speaking directly to me. I do not believe I have heard anything so sweet, so pure, so charming as this before.
‘Yes, I hear you, Eleanor. Mon cśur.’ The French wisps out of my mouth as I whisper back into the world. I can see a faint outline of you now. The blonde curls rimming your face like a crown resting upon your head. Nothing is defined, nothing is fixed, all is subjective to my sight, but I know you are still there.
‘Helena, get better. Get well again. I want you to be well again. I have so much to tell you. So much.’
I pull my head down into a nod before drifting off again. The art of getting well requires much work. So much, I cannot even think of you for too long.
‘I am glad to see you are feeling better,’ Aunt Helga says later. ‘Your temperature is much decreased and your cheeks are rosy once again. It is a joy to see this recovery, as I was most worried. I have been praying day and night that you would recover and be strong and well again. God must have heard these prayers and honoured them. He is a good man.’
‘Yes, he is and thank you, Aunt Helga. It means a lot that my name blessed your prayers for I know it doesn’t appear in many.’
‘Helena, I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Did you not see how carefully and tenderly Godric's eldest, Eleanor, cared for you? She was most upset when you were taken ill, almost inconsolable. She was by your bedside night and day, through dawn till dusk. It was only at her mother’s insistence that she took to her own bed just now, otherwise I do believe she would still be here.’
‘She was here for so long?’ I dare to ask.
‘Yes, but you know well how determined Sybil Gryffindor can be, so her daughter was all but thrown into bed. Sybil does not believe loitering around the Hospital Wing was a respectable thing for a girl of such high standing to be doing and had been telling her so every day. It was only after a week that Eleanor finally listened to her.’
Aunt Helga lets out a light chuckle before placing her hand against my face. The touch is so cool, so divine. It is almost as if peace is entering me.
‘Where is Mother? Has she not been to see me?’ I finally manage to whisper.
Aunt Helga sighs. Mother never seems to satisfy Aunt Helga even though they are meant to be bosom friends. All of their friendship is seemingly lost to the wind. All is different between them now. Perhaps my birth is what caused it, as I have never known them to be on particularly amicable terms.
‘She has been drifting in and out of the room, naturally,’ Aunt Helga says slowly, almost hesitantly. ‘She also receives the evening report at dinner, but I believe she has been too busy entertaining to come more often. I am certain she would have visited you more often if she had been able to.’
Thud, thud, thud goes my heart as it drops from my chest to the bottomless pits of earth. I often wonder if Mother loves me, and it is at times like this that I question her love the most. I wonder if she cares about me, wishes me well or whether she wishes that I would simply stay quiet, stay good, stay out of sight. I even wonder whether she wishes she even had me when I hear things such as this or whether she wishes that I died along with my father.
My father. The omnipresent figure lurking in the background of my life. I often think of him when I have these wonderings about Mother. Perhaps he would have made her nicer, kinder, warmer. Perhaps then we could have been a happy little family of three, him, Mother and me. Perhaps is a peculiar word though. When I use perhaps it feels as if everything lacks so much certainty that the use of that singular word gives me a few more fibres of hope to cling onto.
There is no point hoping for anything to do with Father though. He is firmly locked away in the life beyond ours, never to return, only to be joined. I am not even sure to what hand he died. Knowledge about him is only sparingly given away by her, as Mother believes that is best.
After a brief pause, I dare to ask Aunt Helga, ‘How did Father die?’
She fixes her eyes on me and sighs.
'Helena, you are weak, ill, resting. Now is not the best time to discuss matters such as these. Ask again another time.’
‘Please, Aunt Helga. I have never been told, but I should know as he was my father. He is found in my flesh and bone. Besides, death is the most natural thing in the world so to be denied knowledge of it could almost be considered as unnatural. Please, do tell me.’
Aunt Helga sighs again before leaning in close, her curly hair scratching at my face. ‘You must promise not to breathe a word of what I say to your mother or tell anyone about this as I fear she would not like it at all.’
‘Your father’s death is a mystery to us all. None of us know how exactly he died. You were a few months old at the most when his body showed up. He had been travelling, preaching to people further afield, so your mother hadn’t worried too much when he didn’t immediately return as that was quite normal for him. She only began to worry after he failed to show for your baptism. Knowing what a holy man he was, she began to search for him and a few weeks later they found him.
‘There were no markings on his body, it was bare as a new child entering the world, but we knew, we had a feeling who had done it. Salazar Slytherin had always despised your mother for the choice of her husband, a Muggleborn man. He thought they were vermin, a species beneath us and needed to be removed from the world. It was worse with your father, as he had chosen a Muggle profession, so the hatred Salazar had for him was even thicker. His threats and thoughts towards your father turned even more ferocious after he left Hogwarts. There were a few incidents too, nothing confirmed, but enough to raise suspicion. Salazar was always a cunning fellow like that, never out rightly accused of anything, but a suspected culprit many a time, so we shall never truly know if he did it or not, but we can presume so…’
Thud, thud, thud and my heart continues to fall. I cannot think or feel a thing. I cannot. I cannot. I cannot. It is too raw, too awful, too horrible for anything.
‘Thank you, Aunt Helga. Thank you for telling me.’
‘But remember, my dear, not a word to anyone. I do not want to imagine what your mother might do if she found out that you knew.’
‘Not a word, Aunt Helga. Not a word at all.’
Within a week I have returned to you, to normality, and our nightly meetings commence again. They serve as a distraction from the horror of my father’s death. Though my lips have stayed silent about it to you, as I must honour Aunt Helga’s promise. We meet by the edge of the forest and as we walk together I sense your excitement with the way you wring your arms back and forth.
‘Run with me, Helena. Run!’ you finally cry out, gripping hold of my hand and spinning me through the night air.
Hurry, hurry, hurry, I go. My legs bind and buckle under the pressure but do not fail me. It was not an illness of the physical sort that confined me to bed for those torturous days, it was a malady of the mind according to the matron. Her mutterings to Aunt Helga were badly concealed so I do not consider it as eavesdropping.
‘She is all out of sorts,’ the matron had said. ‘Too much blood is causing her to have delusions. It is what Hippocrates said himself. I would bleed her but Mistress Rowena forbids the practice even though it would elevate Mistress Helena’s spirits greatly. There is nothing else which can be done, so we must wait for the visions to calm.’
‘Yes, Mistress Rowena is of the opinion it is an illness of the mind too,’ Aunt Helga had replied. ‘Leave her be for now, it might be for the best.’
I wonder if others believe I had an illness of the mind. I wonder if you do. I wonder what you would do if you found out my mind is a deluded one. Would you let go of my hand and leave me to whirl alone through the night’s air? Would you cry out witch in front of Muggles and have me burnt at a stake? Or would you love me and my delusion?
Our dance through the air comes to a stop and you collapse onto the ground in a ball of laughter, and I follow you down in a more sombre fashion.
‘Oh Helena, how you have missed so much whilst you were taken ill! Why your very own betrothed has turned up and the whole school is in a ruckus, a chaos, because of him. He has most positively turned us all upside down, your Edmund… He is ever so witty and charming, I almost feel quite jealous of you...’
My heart begins to palpate. My fingers lock around the curls in your hair.
‘He could almost be considered handsome too, Helena. He has a rather strange jawline but that can be forgiven as the rest of his face more than makes up for it. He even seems to get on your mother which is no easy thing…’
All is black in my eyes. All is gone in my eyes. All is nothing in my eyes. I see what is happening. I see what my betrothed has begun to do. He has begun to steal you, my Eleanor, away from me. I see he wants you for himself. He wants to turn you to the path of sin. I see it. I see it is coming.
‘No, I shan’t allow it.’
‘Allow what, Helena? Allow what?’
‘Allow you to be drawn into his treacherous traps! I have been having bad omens about this man, and your words confirm them as facts. He is determined to ruin us, tear us apart. He is to be our ruin, Eleanor. He truly is.’
‘What do you mean? How on earth is he to be our ruin? I merely meant to say that he had been entertaining us greatly with his joking and laughter. That was all, not that he meant to steal me from you. I would never allow that to occur, Helena, my heart beats for you alone. Believe me on that and no other whispered words. I am yours and you are mine.’
Words. Words. Words. So many of them that as they stream before I find it hard to select the right one, the exact one. Each one has so many different meanings, interpretations, one never really knows if it is meant to be jabbing, jibing or joking. It seems as if you are lying, spilling out words with reckless abandon. I can trust no one. Liar is imprinted onto everyone’s face. Yours, Mother’s, maybe even Aunt Helga’s. You have concealed things from me at least once so how could I ever trust any of you?
‘Do not blank me out, Helena, answer me. See what toils I go through for your love? You always speak of God, of a higher meaning, of burning with the Devil for being with me. It is as if you are shamed by my presence, cannot really glory in it as you cannot take glory in your own. You do not love yourself, Helena. You are consumed with poison and hatred and wicked thoughts. You are not capable of loving, I believe. You only think and act on hatred, nothing else.’
Stab, stab, stab go her words at my heart, and my blood begins to spill out in a sickly flow of red and pool into a puddle of my despair. Why does Eleanor insist burdening our love with all of these trials and tribulations, why does she not accept it for what it is, why can she not do that? Why, why, why? Why am I always told I am at fault? I am not. I am certain of it.
‘I love you and I always will, but I cannot tolerate this interference with us,’ I say slowly. ‘I want to be with you for forever and ever until the world burns down to fire and we are in God’s paradise, his home, but it cannot happen if you are like this. If you do not heed caution in regards to Edmund I do not know what I shall do.’
You hiss at me, the sound slithering round and round me, as if it’s a snake curling round my neck and constricting my breath, my air, forever and ever. Finally, I will turn to a mottled blue and die a slow and painful death at the tightening of your voice and feeling. I will be dead at your hand, betrayed by a former lover.
‘Helena, I cannot deal with you when you are in this sort of state. Perhaps others are right about what they say about you, that you possess no sense of normality. That you live in a world which is guided by your own morals and nothing else. I love you, but not like this, not when you wander in this warped reality. I have to go, Helena.’
So my heart crumbles down into a thousand shards and shatters and will be forever lost in the world, forever broken, forever unfixable. I will never be able to unite my soul, my heart, my feeling after what you did to me. I will never be complete again after what you said. I am gone and the fault for that lies with you.
I love you, Eleanor, you are my sun, my earth, my moon, and yet you treat me as if I am mere bit of stardust floating around and around, easily replaceable. You treat me as if I should constantly be awe in awe of your presence, that I am beneath you. But Eleanor, I will always be here, I will always be waiting.
Waiting just for you.
A/N: The quote at the beginning of the chapter and the chapter come from page 27 of Mrs Dalloway (Google Books Edition) by Virginia Woolf ♥
So whoo, finally another chapter, it's the Easter holidays for me right now, so hopefully I'll get another chapter up during the holidays. Secrets were revealed about Helena's father and a rift with Eleanor which was most probably Helena's fault, so what did you think? Thanks for reading and if you had time I would love a review! ♥
Chapter 6: Tear me asunder.
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I am back to merely existing. The being was ripped away from me when you mentioned my betrothed, the living was torn apart from me with your words. Now I am a mere spectre floating around the world waiting to find my purpose.
I see you, watch you, feel you. All of my earlier activity now returned to me in the wake of your absence. Eleanor, Eleanor, Eleanor, my heart cries out as you pass me in the corridor, but my lips refuse to quiver to its will. I will remain forever silent like you are towards me, forever silent in my forever world of solitude.
You will go on living, I believe. You will have a life and go on living. You will marry a man and most probably be content with him. I was a mere experiment for you, a time of recklessness. I will always be alone, without someone by my side. I have known I am different for a while now. I fear I will never be content, as society does not wish happiness on people such as myself.
I will be locked into a world of self-imposed isolation, so not to anger the Almighty Father by loving a person of the same cut. I will never reach out to anyone. I cannot, will not. I will simply have to wait for your call. If it ever comes that is.
Mother delayed the meeting of my betrothed until I was fully recovered and well and now the time has come. The time for meeting the man I will be bound until one of us dies. I am not sure which death I wish to happen first, his or mine.
‘Helena, curtesy when you meet him,’ Mother shrieks at me. ‘Show him that you are willing to make an effort with this marriage and that you will try to be happy with him. Paying him small respects such as these will endear you to him and he will repay you later on for that. Remember, these next few weeks will shape the rest of your life. Do not ruin them.’
Nod, nod, nod at all of those requests. I cannot think of him when the one closest to my heart has forgotten me. The only attention I am currently receiving from Eleanor are dark looks, so I may as well endear myself to someone and be in someone’s heart for being in no one’s is a rather solemn prospect.
‘Smile, Helena. You can be rather pretty when you do, so please try and do that. Remember he is a great a Baron whose father has given significant monetary contributions to Hogwarts, so please do not anger him greatly. If we lose that money, there will be significant repercussions for the school.’
Mother opens the door and pushes me inside. Stumbling, I move across the floor without the supposed grace Mother has instilled within me. I am losing myself from within. I fall across the floor and into one of the unoccupied chairs and a loud cough, cough, cough announces that he is already here. Baron Edmund. My future husband. The person who tore apart Eleanor and I.
‘It is a pleasure to meet you, Mistress Helena,’ he says slowly, mulling over each word as if he can force more shame into them. ‘I have heard so much about you from others, so naturally I am very glad that I can finally be acquainted with you.’
My head bows down in an imperial fashion. I am showing reverence. I am paying him my respects. Nothing can go wrong. Though I do not dare look at Mother, who has huddled herself into the corner, she will be assessing and analysing every movement I make and that alone is enough to make me scared.
‘And it is a pleasure of my own to be acquainted with you,’ I answer smoothly, finally daring to look him in the eye and staring firmly at them to show I am not going to be submitted to his will like many others of my sex. I will not fall to his charm. I will not fall to his sneers and smiles. I will remain myself through and through no matter what it may cost me.
A stubbly chin, fine clothes and a light covering of brown hair on his head greet my eyes when I finally release them from the icy glare. Very predictable. Very normal. Well, predictable and normal for someone of a standing of a Baron. A small flicker of a smile on his face and reasonably good looks too, most girls would be pleased to see that this was their future husband.
But I suppose I am not most girls. I never have fitted in with the majority.
My heart still beats for you, Eleanor. My heart still yearns for your ethereal face and glow. Everything else pales in comparison when placed next to you. Especially the Baron for I cannot call him Edmund, that would be revealing too much of myself, letting myself go too greatly. I will not allow that to happen.
‘I have heard from your aunt Helga that you are a devout woman of the Church and attend its services regularly. You will be glad to hear that I am perhaps as equally devout as you are. In fact, I have been encouraging others within the wizarding community to follow Christ too, as so much can be learnt from him. I make it clear to them that they must stay well away from the Mudblood churches though, as they delude the truth, deny Christ was a sorcerer and instead suggest we ought to be burnt at the stake. No, there are plenty of wizarding churches which speak the real truth, the pure truth. They must go to those.’
Mudblood, Mudblood, Mudblood. The word spins around my mind. His view of non-magical people is not uncommon. I myself do find them a little peculiar, but I would have no have qualms about sharing a holy place with them. I am half a non-magical person too, a half-blood I suppose; my father magical in nature, non-magical in blood. Does this great, this noble, Baron know of that? I doubt it, knowing how much Mother wishes for this match to proceed.
‘It is good to hear you place so much importance in the Church,’ I finally say. ‘It is a shame when others do not.’
A slow and stilted answer. Mother will not be pleased, but it is all that I can muster for the moment.
‘I also hear that you value academia greatly,’ he says, smirking at me. ‘A natural result of being a daughter to the wisest witch in these lands. I myself was a Slytherin. I suppose a very fitting choice as I do think ambition is an undervalued characteristic. Without that, nothing is achievable.’
He is a talker then. A talker who likes to talk about himself a lot. The worst of all the kinds of talkers in my opinion. I am much more of a thinker, a thinker who thinks to themselves a lot too. The first sign of our incompatibility is already establishing itself.
‘Salazar Slytherin was always a fine wizard,’ he carries on. ‘Very talented, very wise too. He was a great man and a great leader of our house. It is a shame that he has now left as he was only around for my first year. I think you would have only been a baby then, Helena. It would have been inspiring to learn from him, as I agree with him on so many things.’
There are two points there which displease me. The first being how he reveres Salazar Slytherin, as I swear even Mother flinched at that part. If he knew why Salazar left, that he had a terrible and awful argument with my mother and the others, that he may have caused my father’s death, he would have closed his mouth long ago. The second being that he is eleven years older than me. Eleven years. He is ageing away at eight and twenty to my youthful seventeen years. I cannot marry an old man.
‘It was lovely for you to meet one another,’ Mother cuts in, clearly the remark about Slytherin was one too many for her. ‘But Helena must go and practice her charms work now. Good bye, Edmund.’
She gives him a small wave of her finger before pulling me from my chair and out of the room, as if I have been an impertinent little child who somehow caused those things about Salazar to be said. Then again, I always am to blame in Mother’s eyes.
Mother continues to pull me down the corridor, startling clusters of first and second years who have wakened early on this Sunday morn and huddles me into an empty classroom, far out of view from any possible eavesdroppers.
‘Do not say what he just said to anyone. Do you understand?’
‘Yes, Mother, but is what he said really that terrible? I mean, I have heard other students heap adoration upon Salazar and you do nothing about it then.’
Mother’s face pinches up before she sighs.
‘Do not say anything, Helena. Please, just listen to what I say and do that. It will all be for the best. I promise you that.’
‘Fine, I promise.’
Mother gives me a weak smile. ‘Good, now go and practice your charms, because that wasn’t just an excuse as they are of an appalling standard right now and need improving.’
‘Helena, may I speak with you?’ you call out to me, your faint cry breaking through the air. You have come back to me then I suppose.
‘Why? Why should I let you?’ I hiss at her, as my pace quickens round the lake. I will not allow my daily stroll to be ruined by her. Besides the February air is biting at my skin so it is an excuse to go in early. ‘Last time I allowed you to speak to me you broke my heart with no care, no compassion. Why should I let it happen again?’
‘What about my heart, Helena? What about that? Have you thought of that?’ you wail, your voice trembling painfully in the harsh wind. It almost sounds as if you will break out into tears. ‘You accused me of things that have no foundation, no truth behind. You brought this onto yourself. You wrap yourself up in so much fear and suspicion of everything thing and one I almost wonder if you could ever truly love behind the thick mask. I do love you, Helena. I never even thought it was possible to love someone so much, but if you continue to do this to me, my heart will not be able to sustain it.’
‘You love me…’ I answer, my voice close to faltering.
‘Yes, I do love you. But you need to stop being locked away in your world of paranoia and fear. It isn’t healthy, it isn’t good for you. You will end up losing control of your life if you let that occur. You will demonise everyone to please that fear of yours. Please, just listen to your heart.’
I nod slowly and watch you approach me, fighting through the fog which has swarmed up around us. It is acting as a cover for us, something to conceal our secret. We can be hidden under this blanket for ever and ever.
‘Thank you,’ you whisper, the breath of your tongue warming my swollen lips.
You step forward so there is not an inch between us and press your warm lips against my frozen one and I feel as if the world is colliding. Though we spoke of love, nothing compares to the joy, the pleasure of this. I feel as if we are one as you press your lips against mine and mine against yours. We are locked together, joined, in something special. I will love you for ever and always, I think.
‘See, I do love you, Helena,’ you finally whisper to me, breaking off a few moments later. ‘That is love, not only through our words but through our actions too.’
I cannot think, comprehend, understand love. It does not make sense to me. Before the kiss, I thought I loved Eleanor more than anything else in the world and I could not love her more but now our love seems to be changing, evolving, different. I love her even more than before, even more than I ever thought I could have and that idea scares me somewhat. This boundless feeling. The liberty of emotion.
‘Thank you,’ I whisper. ‘Thank you for doing that. It made me realise a lot.’
‘You are most welcome, but we must hasten. It is soon time for dinner and we cannot be caught missing from that.’
‘Yes, I agree.’
You grab my hand and run your fingers around and around in my palm, your touches now unafraid, fierce. ‘Always remember that I love you, Helena. Never forget that, I do not want us to be apart again. That was too much for me.’
‘I will. I always will.’
Our hands join as we slowly walk back up to the castle.
The Baron’s words float in and out of mind, none of them being retained by the many layers of my brain. None of them being locked away and treasured for later like yours are. He talks to me about books, God, religion, Hogwarts, the grounds, what his interests are, the issues he has opinions on. Sometimes he asks for my view on things.
I answer. Sometimes curtly, sometimes civilly, it is entirely dependent on how much attention Mother is paying us during these secret meetings. She nods approvingly now and then when a rare laugh may trickle out of my mouth or a smile appears on his face. She will delve into a book after these moments, thinking that as we pleased her, she will grant us a little more privacy.
She thinks we are falling in love though.
She is not far from it in a way, because when I laugh it is with the image of you in my mind. Your radiant and shining face makes me fall into peals of laughter, not his placid one. With each of those laughs or smiles I fall more in love with you than I was the second the before.
Edmund though, he is different. Slightly more amicable than before, slightly more approachable than before. He grows on me, but not enough for marriage, never enough when I place him in the same light as you. When he proposes marriage, as that day must not be all that far off, I fear my answer will anger him greatly.
Blades of darkness, the shadows of twilight, and all other dark imaginings have briefly flickered onto his face and given me a taste of his true nature. I point them out to Mother, but she bats away my accusations. She says they must all be in my mind. She says that I have wicked thoughts, nasty thoughts, about him.
She says that I am to blame for all the badness I see if I think like that.
Author's Note: The quote at the top comes from page 89 of the Google Books version of The Waves by Virginia Woolf so all credit to her! ♥
Sooooo, I'm moving to China for six months at the end of August, and I kind of want this story to be all wrapped and done before I go. As there are 4 more chapters after this one, it will be quite a squeeze to get it all done in time, so I most probably won't be answering reviews in that time but I just wanted to say thank you so much for them, as I still read them and love them all so I don't want any of you to think I'd forgotten them!
I hope you liked getting to meet Edmund though and I wonder if you had any predictions of what he's going to turn out like? Thanks for reading! ♥