Rora walked forward along the wall, darkness making it difficult to see. As inexplicable as it was, she found herself strangely drawn to the wall, noises around her, of crickets and fireflies and hushed giggling wafting down from the Astronomy tower blended into an eerie silence.
She brushed her hand against the stone, and a sort of dizziness struck her, swirling like mist. Of course, even as she struggled to keep her balance, she became ever the more curious. It was as if something were pulling at her, something she couldn't quite explain, but knew, inexplicably, was her very destiny.
She touched rock after rock, and even though she couldn't move if she'd liked, she was getting slightly bored. She slowed down and stroked a bit of moss pensively, the dizziness still coming over her in waves. Something was wrong, she knew, but she couldn't place what.
A sharp pain in her side suddenly stopped all thoughts, replacing them with slight panic, and a desire to leave, now. The pain that was once just a pinprick was burning and becoming an invisible sword lodged in her side.
Rora held on to her side with one hand, holding the wall for support with the other. She tried to tear her hand off the rock but couldn't; staring feverishly out from under her long hair she saw what she'd known to be true. There was no one here, and no one would hear her, even if she had the strength to yell.
Between battling feelings of betrayal and confusion, Rora dropped to her knees on the wet grass and tried hard not to cry. Everything was spinning, she was blind and the world was dark.
“Rora? Rora, can you hear me?” Through waves of spinning white and black Rora heard a voice. Calling her name.
“Help me,” she all but whispered, and the pain in her side subsided, though the dizziness didn't. Even though the world was still spinning, she could dimly see a boy's face.
“Harry? Harry, everything's spinning, I can barely see. Harry!” The boy grasped under her arms and dragged her across the grass, until the dizziness was gone. He set her head in his lap and touched her hair gently.
“Are you okay?” He asked her, concern darkening his face.
“Yes, I—” She struggled to sit up, leaning on his shoulder. “I don't know what happened,” she gasped. “Didn't you feel it? The pain, and the dizziness? I couldn't tear myself away.”
“I didn't feel anything, Rora. Are you sure you're okay?” Even in the night, Rora could see his green eyes glitter, either with malice or tears unshed, Rora couldn't decide which.
“Yes, I am,” she said darkly, suddenly filled with anger. No matter what it was, and whether or not she knew what had caused it, the dizziness wasn't of her own making. “Why were you watching me?”
“I wasn't!” Harry protested.
“Then why are you here?!” Rora got to her feet, albeit unsteadily, but determined.
“You're lucky I was here, you could have died! I could have let you!”
A stony silence passed between the two. “So that's the way it is,” Rora remarked bitingly. “Lucky of me, right? You decided to do me a favor.” She turned and walked back to the castle as quickly as she could manage, sweat beading her forehead.
“See ya later Rora,” Harry whispered as he watched her slender figure retreating to the castle. He put his head in his hands, and stood there a long time before walking back to the castle himself. The hour was far past curfew, and he'd have to count his bloody stars no one would catch him.
Harry paused as he opened the front doors cautiously, glancing bitterly back at the stone wall, as if to blame it for all his troubles. The dim candlelight spilled out across the grass, the wall still looking innocent as ever.
♦ * ♦ * ♦ * ♦
“I just don't understand. What would cause that effect on me?” Rora was slumped in a stuffed chair by the fireplace in the Gryffindor common room. It was the next night, and the first time Rora had been able to tell anyone of her ordeal earlier.
Hermione and Parvati looked at their friend warily, neither of them speaking. Rora herself stared into the dancing flames dully. “It's like a big puzzle, but one with a few pieces missing. So no matter how hard you try to fit the other pieces in, they'll never fit.”
“Rora, are you sure—” Hermione started timidly, glancing up at Rora from her place on the rug.
“Yeah, yeah I am, Hermione,” Rora said irritatedly, her gaze still unwavering from the fireplace. Why was it that no one believed her? Even Harry, who had seen the whole thing, was having a hard time trusting her. She could understand, yes. Even with Dumbledore gone, Hogwarts still seemed the safest place in the world, though with Harry Potter there it was surely far from it.
It was true, if she were some random Gryffindor she would understand her friend's concern. But she'd known them for four years now! Was her word still so hard to trust?
“Well Aurora, you can't really expect us to believe this all so fast! It's . . . it's a lot to take. You feel okay though?” Rora met her friend's gaze coldly, then sighed. What was the use? She was tired.
“I guess you're right. I'm going to turn in, alright? See ya.” Parvati and Hermione nodded, and Rora headed for the stairs. People around her chatted and giggled, and a fourth year boy chased a girl around the room, finally catching her and planting a kiss directly on her lips. Standers-by whooped and cheered, and Rora paused to watch the girl blush deep red, her eyes glowing and her brown curls bouncing as she hugged the boy around the waist.
“That won't be them in a week,” Rora remarked cynically, mostly for her own benefit. A few people nearby frowned, but she just snorted. It was probably true, anyways. They'd never last it out. No one could in love. It was fickle; it never lasted. She had wholly convinced herself she was better off without it by the time she made it to the stairs.
Rora was about to climb the stairs when she heard lowered voices, voices she recognized. She stopped and held her breath.
“She's just so . . . clingy! And giggly and girly! I can't stand it anymore Harry, I really can't,” Rora heard Ron Weasley's voice coming from higher up on the boy's stairs. There was only one person he could be talking about, and that was his girlfriend, Lavender Brown. Rora listened closer, interested.
“Well, maybe you should just break up with her then . . .” She heard Harry's dismembered voice with a jolt-she'd made it a point to not so much as look at him all day. When he passed her in the hallway, or in the classes they had together, she'd avert her eyes. The first time he had tried to talk to her, but when she walked away he gave up.
“Hah! You're one to talk, Harry.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Aurora Murphy is what I mean, she and Cho . . .”
Rora's breath caught in her throat and she turned, clattering up the stairs as quickly as she could. She didn't care if either of them heard her, but she had heard enough.
What did Ron mean? Didn't Harry love Cho? Her heart leaped with hope, but it was instantly quelled by another thought. Harry probably thought she was too clingy. Was she clinging to a hope, then? Did he think she hadn't moved on? Well, she had moved on. He'd made sure of that.
(Not to mention, Ron was being a bit of a prying arse. He always had been, and that was that. It was crass of him to stick Cho Chang and Rora together in one sentence, let alone even imply there was a love triangle between the three of them. Whatever she felt for Harry, she wasn't going to get mental over it. She wasn't going to fight, she was sick of fighting. And that was that.)
What was it about this love thing, anyways? Was it hormones? Rora giggled darkly, pulling open her dormitory door and leaning against the wall. What ever it was, it seemed to have it out for not only her, but everyone at Hogwarts.
Shadows danced against the room, and Rora abandoned her post at the wall to light the small candle on her bedside table. The small room was bathed in a warm glow, and Rora could see that all four beds were empty. She knew where Hermione and Parvati were, and she realized that poor Lavender was probably still looking for her Ronniekins. Rora didn't much know why, since she'd always disliked the girl, but she felt sorry for her. Recalling to mind the conversation she'd just heard, Rora slipped on her too-short pajamas and sat, cross-legged, on her bed.
This was bad news for Lavender, to be sure, but what of Hermione? Would Ron soon be free again? Her mind dancing with the mischief and possibility, Rora lay back in her bed and pulled the heavy covers up to her chin. It probably depended on the advice Harry gave him, Rora realized sadly. It seemed, somehow, all their destinies went back to Him. Harry Potter, The Chosen One, The Boy Who Lived.
And the only person Rora had ever truly loved.