Chapter 1 : I will Not Forget You
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All dialogue in italics are the lyrics to the song, ‘I will not forget you,’ by the wonderful Sarah McLachlan.
The smell of roses drifted in through the open window, carried on the balmy breeze brought on by the warm summer night. Seated in a comfortable wicker chair in a darkened room, a young woman pulled back her hair, lifting the heavy mass of curls from her neck. She secured the bundle atop her head with a band, her hand passing across her forehead to wipe the sweat from her brow. She sighed, breathing deep the fragrance of the wild and rambling garden outside the room, glimpsed through the French doors thrown wide, a late addition to the Edwardian home. Through the gap she could see trailing arcs of bougainvillea, drooping heads of lavender and row upon row of roses. Thunder rumbled overhead, the distant sound promising relief from the stifling heat. Soon it would rain, and she would cross to the doors, stepping though onto the verandah, leaning her head against the turned timber columns, watching as the rain sprinkled gently onto the world below the heavens.
The sky darkened, throwing the woman’s indigo corner further into the depths of shadows. On the mantle above the fireplace, an antique clock ticked over the seconds as she sat waiting for the rain to come. Sweat beaded her body, glistening and catching glints of light bounding from the cream walls, cast from a dimly glowing floor lamp on the far side of the room. The first splatter hit the terra cotta fringed roof, followed by another against the leadlight windows of the old house.
With a small smile lighting her face, the woman climbed gracefully to her feet, lifting her body from the wicker chair. Barefoot, she crossed the space of the room, her feet tingling from the gentle caress of the Oriental rug covering the highly polished timber floor. She let her fingers trail along the long, delicate leaves of a house palm, set in a glazed black pot near the French doors. Another waft of heady perfume floated through the open doors, tinged with the scent of rain and rich, dampened earth. Onto the verandah she stepped, pushing the doors open further as she went, exposing the interior of her dark little sitting room to the wildness of nature outside. From her place against the verandah rail, she surveyed her garden. Splashes of colour meet her eyes. It was not yet night, but the gathered clouds overhead cast the world into a false blackness; allowing enough light to seep through to illuminate the garden.
More rain, gentle and delicate, patterned the garden and the woman sighed, lifting her face to the sky. She stretched out her hand, smiling sadly at the fragile touch of rain to her palm, the droplets beading against her skin. For a moment, she thought she heard a voice calling her name, a man’s voice, deep and coated in love and desire and she closed her eyes, knowing it to be nothing more than a figment of her imagination. Sighing, she turned back to the loneliness of the house, crossing the sitting room and pushing open the heavy timber door that led to the hallway. She debated with herself quickly, turning towards the grand staircase that littered the wall, the dark timber polished. As she ascended the stairs to the second floor of the house, her fingers trailed gently along the rose-patterned wallpaper, the pastel pink flower motif following her body as it moved upwards. There were no pictures on the walls, as one might expect to find. Nothing to show any sense of memory or of life within the walls of the house.
Upstairs, the woman let her body fall slowly and deliberately onto her bed, her eyes passing quickly over the left-hand side, vacant, cold and unforgiving. She lay on her back, her hair tumbling over the pillow, having come loose from its bindings. Another sigh escaped her lips; it seemed she was always sighing these days. Resolutely, she turned her eyes from the ceiling and the wrought iron working of her four-poster bed, rolling onto her side. Her fingers traced the empty space beside her body, delicate and probing, running over every crease and curve of the mattress and the bedspread beneath her hand. It had been a long time, yet her memories continued to haunt her, invading her sleep and plaguing her dreams. Sometimes she thought she could feel his lips touching her forehead gently, or feel his arms encircling her waist, her body pulled back against his as they stood and watched the sunset.
“I remember the nights I watched as you lay sleeping. Your body gripped by some far away dream,” she whispered to the bed, her fingers reaching the pillow. "Lost on some dark road I could not walk on." Rolling further onto her stomach, she lifted her arms, the pillow coming away from its permanent resting place to be pulled against her chest. She buried her nose against the softness, breathing deeply, hoping to catch a lingering hint of his scent. All she could smell were roses, the fragrance that constantly littered her house, her own hair and her clothing. The garden outside had grown wild in recent months. She had not felt the need or the desire to maintain it, letting it stretch and twist where it willed, shielding her from the world like some magical forest. But she knew, deep within her heart, that her prince would not be coming to cut away the thorns and take her in his arms.
Her mind returned to the man she so desperately wanted to hold once more. A man with a shock of tumbling dark hair and glittering green eyes. Those eyes had become sadder over time, and she recalled countless nights when she held him to her chest, rocking him back to sleep as he tried to shake the stickiness of nightmares from his skin. “I was so scared and so in love then, and so lost in all of you that I had seen.” The woman spoke the words sadly to the pillow in her arms, to the scent of roses and misery. The scent of grief and despair, and love.
Tossing the pillow aside with finality, she sat up and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, determined not to cry. Across the room, she caught sight of her reflection in the mirror that stood proud and intrusive above the dark timber dresser. The last time she had truly looked at her reflection he had been standing behind her, his eyes meeting hers in the glass, filled with promise and false lies. It had been the night before he left her. Dark, liquid eyes stared back at her now, accusations and misgiving painted in their chocolate depths. Her hair fell wild and untamed around her body, long and tangled like her heart. She bit her lip, the sharp shock of pain bringing a gasp from her throat. With a final glare at her pale and lifeless face, she climbed from the bed, not looking back at the empty space she longed to fill.
Outside, it continued to rain, heavier now, the droplets larger and filled with life. It tormented her, the rain, and she scowled at the stained-glass bay window in her bedroom, watching the water run along the outside of the glass, drawn towards the earth in a dance it could not prevent if it tried. Gravity comes to everything in the end, she thought as she turned and fled her room with its empty bed and staring eyes. Everything falls.
She pushed her way through the stuffiness of the house, opening windows and exterior doors, letting in the sound and scent of the rain, the fragrance of the flowers in the garden and letting her misery pour out into the world to drown. Wiping her face with her hands, unaware she had been silently crying, she threw open the main doors to the house, pausing only briefly before she tore outside, her feet carrying her down the steep flight of timber stairs and into the tangled web of her garden, feeling a strong desire to bath in the beauty of the rain.
“Why could I never hear in the darkness?” she said firmly to the rain, lifting her face as the water tickled her cheeks.
“No voice ever added fuel to the fire,” she cried, remembering how often she tried to help him, and how often she failed, finding herself doing all the talking and him just sitting in the darkness with his legs pulled up to his chest, a vacant look in his eyes. He had been constantly tormented by nightmares, by dreams of a past that she could not change.
She felt the rain soak through her clothes, and with a cry of despair, she pushed on into the garden, passing by rows of cornflowers, their blue heads falling under the weight of the water. The red petals of poppies mocked her for their colour, so bright and life-like in a world of surreal shadows. Geranium, dianthus, foxglove. The garden was filled with colour. It screamed at her, hurting her eyes, until she tore at her drenched hair and ran away.
“No light ever shone in the doorway,” she yelled to the sky, stopping beneath an arc of honeysuckle. Her fingers traced the delicate blossoms gently, the gold and cream seeming to glow in the preternatural darkness of the stormy afternoon. Mud coated her feet and calves, splattered in deep brown drops along her pearly skin.
“I desired only him,” she whispered to the flowers, their only answer the scent rising from their petals, and she breathed deeply, her head swimming with loss, as sweet and sickly as honey. Annoyed, she turned away from the honeysuckle, moving gingerly on through the wilderness. Past the magnolia tree, with its cream and violet flowers, and past the deep pink bougainvillea. Past the hydrangea, lilac and sweet pea. Pale yellow climbing rose wove its way along the trail, clinging valiantly to anything in its path.
The woman pushed her sodden hair back from her face, bending low and plucking the head of a Peruvian lily from its stem, lifting the delicate flower to her face, studying it as the rain fell down around her. He had planted them for her, a year before, carefully burying the bulbs beneath the earth, laughing as he grabbed her and wiped his dirt-stained fingers on her bare arms. As the plants had grown, she had come to view them as a symbol of their relationship, of the love they shared. She blinked, staring at the flower accusingly, feeling betrayed and torn in half.
“But if in some dream there was brightness,” she said calmly, curling her fingers violently around the lily, crushing it. She stood and stared at the remaining lilies sadly, watching as they tried to turn their heads away from her. She narrowed her eyes, planning on wrecking havoc on the plants, but at the last moment, she stilled her hand, turning away. “If in some memory some sort of sigh,” she whispered, hugging herself, wishing that he was still there with her.
She remembered how often they used to walk in the rain, rushing outside as the first drops fell, carefree and in love. He would grab her hands and swing her around, her vision blurring, his face swimming in and out of focus, the scent of roses in her heart and on her skin. They had made love out in the garden once, and as her eyes fell upon that very spot, in a sheltered space beneath the protective branches of the ancient trees, tears blurred her eyes, spilling down her cheeks and mingling with the rain that lay there.
Slowly, she knelt, her hands reaching out towards the earth, her body trembling with reminiscence and pain. “You came to life with the shadows of the night, holding me and loving me and tearing me apart,” she sobbed suddenly, letting her body fall to the ground, the rain dancing around her head. She wondered if she would drown in her tears, or the rain, and found she did not really care.
Crying, she lay beneath the trees, her arms splayed on the earth, her cheek pressed against the leaf-strewn ground, the scent of roses invading her mind. “I will not forget you,” she whispered through her sobs. “I will never let you go.”
As the rain fell around her, she laid still, her body moving occasionally as sobs rent the air. The sky sighed in response to her misery, the sound mocking and tormenting, and with a great effort, she heaved herself up, crawling to her feet and moving back towards the great house, the red brick walls seeming to rise from the wild landscape of the garden around her. She screwed up her face. Everything outside seemed to tease and ridicule, from the rain to the plants and the flowers to the very house itself. Blinking the water from her lashes, she slowly climbed the stairs, retreating inside once more, her feet trailing puddles of water across the floor. She moved automatically to the kitchen, reaching for her wand that lay discarded on the long wooden table. Flicking it behind her, her watery path dried and cleared, leaving the floor sparkling and dark once more. She repeated the process on her body, shivering as her skin, clothes and hair steamed and then dried. Her hair crackled with electricity, the curls wilder than before.
Her little escapade in the rain had calmed her emotions somewhat, and she set about fixing herself a drink of lemonade. Cradling the glass in her hand, the cool chill seeping into her skin, she returned to the sitting room, passing quickly through the house, not wanting to get caught up in the memory of him standing in a particular spot, not wanting to recall a look in his eyes, the softness of his mouth or the sparkle of his smile. Settling herself back in her wicker chair, she closed her eyes as the thunder continued to clash overhead, the sound vibrating through the house and creeping over her bones. Sipping her drink, she sighed, a contented sound brought on by the taste and freshness of the liquid as it cooled her insides and put out the raging fire in her heart. He had left her, as she always suspected her would. She had been a mere passing for him, yet at times she knew that he really did love her, but never as much as she loved him.
“I remember how you left in the morning at daybreak,” she spoke aloud, the sound of her voice echoing through the empty dark. “So silent you stole from my bed.” Not a trace of him remained for her to linger over. Even his scent had left the pillow beside her, jasmine, rose and honeysuckle floating through the open window, masking any evidence of his presence. She knew where he had gone. He had received a letter the day before, and although he tried to hide it from her, she had recognised the handwriting and the neat slant of the lettering. Dread had clenched in her stomach and she had waited, falling into a restless sleep that evening, knowing deep within herself that when she awoke, he would be gone. It had hurt, and for weeks, months perhaps, she could not remember, the house taunted her with memories and promises, whispers between the walls, between the sheets of the bed they had shared for a year.
Taking out her wand, she flicked it absentmindedly, watching as a battered old photo album flew across the room from the bookshelf that graced the far wall. It landed with purpose in her lap, and she set her drink down on the floor beside the chair, her fingers already flicking through the pages. Five pages in. four pictures down. A woman, with flaming red hair and a kind smile. A letter. A memory. An invitation.
“To go back to the one who you'd given your heart too,” she whispered mournfully, knowing that she could never hate the red-haired woman. She had not known about them. No one had. Their relationship had been kept a secret, for reasons she could not understand; reasons he insisted on. That is how she always knew he would not stay with her. “And I back to life that I dread,” she added, her voice louder and crackled with regret. Her eyes closed, shutting out the dark and the light that played through the window.
After he had left, she had gone to the seaside, shutting herself away from the world in a small cottage that her parents had owned. Cornwall. Inside that sandstone cabin of darkness, with the waves crashing on the shore in the distance, she had wailed against the beauty of the night, against the broken veins of love. No one knew where she was, and she was not even sure anyone came looking. They would never have expected her, with her strength and her intelligence, to run away and hide in a fishing village by the sea.
They had not known of her heartbreak, none of them, and there was nothing she could do. She could not tell them, because she could not begin to explain how it had happened in the first place. How she had fallen in love with her best friend, shared his bed, hidden their secret from the world, sat with him at family dinners and pretended there was nothing amiss. They knew he was staying with her, but in a house that size, no one suspected they were sharing such close quarters.
No one suspected that at night they lay naked, their limbs wrapped around each other, their mouths clinging, breaking apart, and moving forwards to cling again. His sweat on her skin, his breath in her mouth, in her lungs. His fingers tangled through her hair. Their bodies searching for some solace, an escape from the pain of the past. No one knew how much she loved him.
“So I ran like the wind to the water,” she said to the night, remembering propelling her body across the soft sand on the beach in Cornwall, submerging herself up to her knees in the waves. “I screamed at the edge of the world, 'all I ever wanted was you'.” Her voice had echoed across the emptiness, scaring nothing but a few lonely gulls resting on the sand, the birds taking flight, soaring away before her eyes, mocking her with their fast escape to freedom. “I threw all my rage at the dark waves, so powerful and unforgiving in their beauty,” she continued, wiping her eyes, feeling tears drip unwillingly onto her cheeks. “But all that came back was the tide.”
Her voice had dropped to a tiny whisper, so faint she could barely hear it herself, but that voice carried the power and longing of her thoughts into every corner of the house. It flew through rooms she had not entered for months, rooms where wilted flowers hung from vases against walls and on tables; rooms where dust collected thickly along every surface. Room that contained memories of him. Slowly, she climbed to her feet, pushing aside the photo album and letting it drop to the floor with a gentle thud.
For the second time that evening, she let her body drift towards the open French doors, breathing deeply, rain, roses and the earth filling her body. Outside on the verandah, she noticed the rain had stopped, but its smell lingered through the air. The night had grown sticky once more, the delicate cooling of the rain vanished, the air saturated with misery, loneliness and self-imposed exile. The sky had cleared, the stars winking at her, fragile lights in the distance. She fixed her eyes on one; one that he said shone as brightly as her.
“I will not forget you,” she whispered, closing her eyes and leaning her head against the timber column supporting the massive structure of the house. She hoped, although she knew it was nothing more than fancy, that he could, wherever he was, hear her voice deep within his heart and know how much she loved him. The darkness of the house at her back waited for her, waited to swallow her with memory, to drown her once more.
This was my first Harmione fic, so I’d really appreciate your thoughts on it. If you read, please review. Thank you. MajiKat xx
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