Chapter 1 : Meet Me When It Rains
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She carried an antique, tattered umbrella. The handle was once polished wood, but now scratched—an old bat on a stick, is what it reminded him of. But still, she always used it, because she liked getting wet.
“But not too wet,” she would explain for the hundredth time, with a grin and a giant step into a puddle. That was why she had the umbrella—she always said it was the perfect medium between wet and dry.
Cleanliness and the dirt of sin.
She was Echo, my nymph, and we would hide under the umbrella in the dark. Sometimes we dared to touch in daylight, under the infinite canvas of gray sky. But always under the umbrella.
“Meet me when it rains,” she would whisper when James was not there.
And I would.
We would meet at the portrait of the Fat Lady. I would have James’s invisibility cloak; he left his trunk unlocked for Marauderly things. But not for something like this. Never for something like this. She would smile and laugh quietly and thrill herself with the idea of being caught by a wandering professor. And we stole into the night, the umbrella folded under her arm and our fingers tangled together like ivy.
Like the color of her eyes.
The rain tattered the silky sky into shreds and we would run across school grounds. We were Head Boy and Girl, and knew where professors patrolled and where they didn’t. Up went the umbrella, and she wound around me and danced the ballet like a gust of wind. Her breath in my hair was a gentle breeze and we would reach the forbidden forest.
Her laughter was my music.
She would barely mutter “Here, Remus,” before our fingers were at the buttons and dripping red hair and her smile was like a butterfly spreading.
There were no boundaries, no locks and keys. Everything was beautifully possible, and everything could have and did happen. We explored each other like two lost travelers, blindly seeking for anything.
“It’s cold,” we would say between the heavy breaths and hard kisses. But it was a beautiful chill.
So were the nights of our Seventh Year: fiery touch and rain and words that thrilled to the marrow. Some nights when sleep evaded me, I could hear the slow, sad songs of her violin from the girls’ dormitories, and I knew that it meant she and James were fighting.
She loved him.
But she needed me.
I knew that the bittersweet notes meant we would meet in the rain. I knew that it meant counting down the slow hours and sitting through James’s I-don’t-understand-her would be worth it. It was excruciating to hear my best friend in such turmoil about something I’d caused, but it was worth it.
Because when she and I touched under the rain we understood each other wholly and I saw her wings and she saw mine. She said they were the color of a Robin’s. Hers were always made of pearls and quartz, dripping over us like the silver raindrops.
It was nearly the end of term, and the raindrops were growing warmer, burning against our fiery skin. The rain ceased and spring melted into a burned summer. I saw less of her and that tattered umbrella. I would pray for the skies to open, left with only traces of her mouth on mine, the pale skin of her stomach and the rain, washing our naked bodies away.
At last it did rain. The night was dark, and I waited for her. The mud covered my bare feet, toes digging deeper into the earth. Becoming one.
Then I heard the sounds. I didn’t have to see more than what I did; a hole in the clouds revealed the moon and I saw a shining black umbrella, opened, dropped carelessly on the ground. Heard James shouting her name again.
How different it sounded when she said his name instead of mine.
They were meeting in the rain. Our rain.
I didn’t sleep that night. I dreamed, though. About the way things should have been. I dreamed that she would not marry James Potter. I dreamed that self-inflicted scars didn’t mar my face and body. That there was nothing wrong with me, and that I wasn’t putting her in danger merely by being near her.
I dreamed that I would never be standing at a funeral, staring at their graves. We congregate under a granite sky, Sirius and I, and the others who loved them.
But I didn’t just love her.
I burned for her.
The white lilies fall from Sirius’s limp hand and stop on her casket soundlessly, like a dove returning to its branch. Sirius’s hand finds my scarred shoulder and I still do not tell him or anyone else what I remember. Now is not the time. Never is the time.
We listen to the sounds of silence.
The gray skies are slit by God’s knife and a cursed rain begins to fall. Sirius stands with me for a moment longer, and hurries across the muddy grass, thinking that I do not notice any tears.
I watch their graves as my hand reaches down to the old, tattered umbrella at my side. They begin to shovel the dirt over them; two coffins, one grave. Watching the raindrops splatter over the grave, I open the torn umbrella over me.
So that way, I won’t get too wet.