Chapter 1 : Flower In The Fire
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“Why can’t you tell me?”
The room was dark except for the ring of light that surrounded the fire that was crackling in the hearth and the small patch of light that surrounded a solitary candle. There had originally been four lit candles in the silver candelabra that sat on the table at the end of the couch, but there was now only one that remained; fighting against the ever-looming darkness that threatened to envelope it. The other three candles were merely puddles of wax that no longer resembled the proud figures they had once been. Their flames had gone out; there was no wick left to burn.
“Because I don’t want to hurt you.” He murmured quietly in response. She wouldn’t have even heard him if he hadn’t been so close to her. The night was like a thick blanket around them that muffled all noise. It was suffocating.
The flame was suffocating. Without oxygen, it dies.
“You don’t want to hurt me!?” She cried incredulously, her voice echoing back to them as it hit the blackness that surrounded them. “What did you think this would do to me?”
He sniffed softly. “I don’t want to hurt you.” He repeated with his eyes cast downwards.
She put the back of her hand to her forehead. “I just . . . I wish . . .” She exhaled deeply and braced her hands on either side of the table; her breath caused the last flame to flicker and finally wink out without a fight. A small tendril of smoke curled up and away. She closed her eyes.
He took an unsteady step towards her and slowly reached out his hand. He wanted to touch her. He wanted to bridge the gap between them; the dark crevice that kept deepening and widening, but he dropped his hand. She was untouchable and that knowledge burned him. It hadn’t always been like this, but now, he didn’t want it any other way. “What do you wish?” He asked gently.
She tilted her head back, her eyes still closed, trying to stop the tears from leaking out. She took another deep breath.
Water cannot meet the flame.
“I wish. . .” She tried again. She tilted her head back down and opened her eyes. She turned around, bracing herself against the table. The dead silver and green candelabra teetered as she knocked the edge of the table with her hip and then grasped on to the edge. She met his eyes, her straight hair falling gently about her shoulders. “I wish you loved me half as much as you love her.” A painful but small smile twitched on her lips as she fought to hide her tears and her vision became blurry.
He was lost for words and could merely hang his head.
“Does your mother know?” She wondered, turning away from him again.
He swallowed the growing lump in his throat. “No.” He admitted. “I can’t tell her. She’ll tell father.”
She turned back around. “He’ll kill you, you know. He won’t have it. He won’t let you.”
“Is that what you want?” He asked in surprise, a bit angry and hurt at her blunt words.
She laughed, but there was no joy in the sound. “I could want so many things.” She picked up the dead candle stump and examined it. “I have little time to waste wanting things like that.”
“Is that all that keeps you from it?” He asked, feeling more hurt by the minute. “The past few years haven’t meant anything to you?”
“Sure they did.” She placed the candle back down and focused her attention on trying to peel the dried wax off her hands. “But you? Did they mean anything to you?”
He reached out and took her hands in his. “Of course they did.” She pulled her hands away.
“You’ve always been all words.” She laughed wryly. “You always say things . . . but you never mean them.”
He dropped his hands. “What do you mean by that?” He asked, offended.
She looked up and met his eyes. “How many years have we been friends?”
“Merlin . . . since we were born.” He said after a moment of thought.
“Exactly.” She turned and walked over to the hearth, hugging her arms to her body against the sudden cold she felt.
He stayed where he was, in the circle of dark that surrounded the light cast by the warm glow of the fire. The candle’s small wispy smoke had disappeared. “I don’t understand.” He said to the silhouette before him.
“I know.” She said sadly. “You never did.” She ran a hand through her long hair with a sigh. She turned back to face him. “Do you remember that day . . . must have been almost six years now . . . when you and I made a promise to each other?”
“We’ve made a lot of promises over the years.” He replied wearily, sitting down in the closest chair; still in the dark.
“This was important.” She insisted. “It was special . . . to me.” She trailed off, whispering the final words to herself.
There was no response.
“Do you remember the stream?”
“Your mother never wanted us to play in those woods behind the house.” She smiled as if the memory of defying such authority was a happy one and continued, oblivious of everything but the fire burning before her. “We really should have listened.” She knelt down on the hearth. “I didn’t even know I couldn’t swim until I fell in. . . but you . . . You saved me.” She was now reaching out towards the flames leaping merrily before her. “We couldn’t have been more than nine years old and you leapt into the water and pulled me out.” Her fingers were so close that her body was protesting but she kept reaching; grasping for the one thing that continued to evade her.
“Stop.” Her hand was pulled away from the flames which continued to crackle merrily; oblivious.
She looked up into his eyes and the tears began to fall again. He pulled her to him, to comfort her as he had so very many times before.
“You promised.” She whispered into his robe. “You promised me!”
“I haven’t gone back on my word.” He insisted. “And I never will.”
She sniffed. He would never understand. It was different for her.
He took her shoulders. “I will always love you.” He said strongly. “I always will.”
She pounded her fist against his chest. “You promised you’d always be there for me! To save me!”
He was still for a moment. Had he finally understood? Did he finally see how she felt about him?
“She’s waiting for me.” He said, disentangling himself from her arms. He tilted her chin up. “You’re like my sister. You know I will always be here for you. Nothing could change that.”
Fire . . .
Fire . . .
He reached the door. “Draco, wait.”
He turned and met her tormented gaze.
In that instant, she knew.
He was also consumed by the fire, and he knew how she felt.
He simply chose to ignore it.
“I’m sorry Pansy.” He said honestly as he left the room and the door shut behind him.
Pansy sank down the wall, staring into the flames. “What does Granger have that’s so special. . .?” She pulled her knees under her chin and let the tears come.