This was written for Elysium's 'Reflections' challenge. This was actually harder than I thought to write - there were times when I just wanted one word or a single line of dialogue, but had to resist.
I have based this piece loosely off the story of the Lovers, a card in the major arcana of the Tarot. I had not looked at my cards for a long time, but for some reason picked them up the other day, flipped over the Lovers card, and the idea for this fic grew. The story of the Lovers can also be linked to the story of Paris, who is presented with a choice between three Goddesses. He chooses Aphrodite, not understanding the dangerous and volatile power of love. She shows him Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, and on the strength of physical love, his actions spark the events of the Trojan War.
In this fic, Rose is a bit of a Paris, and Scorpius, her Helen.
Please remember to leave a review if you read. Thanks.
Arcanum For Elysium’s Reflections Challenge
Afternoon sun struggled through the clouds, the light filtering down, touching the earth and the smudged glass of the windowpane. Small droplets of rain still clung to the glass, their size diminishing as each second passed. Sighing, she turned from the window, her eyes surveying the room. She was the last to pack, as usual; her trunk lay open at the foot of her bed, clothes hanging out the edges, books, parchment and quills scattered randomly over the covers of the bed.
There was still time to visit the library before the train came to collect her and take her away from the only place she had ever called home. Her parents would be thrilled to see her, and her them, always missing each other when they were apart. But a close-knit family, the love her parents lavished on her at every opportunity, could not compare to the feeling of him.
Tall, blonde and lissom, a perfect sculpture of symmetry, his very presence haunted her thoughts and tormented her dreams. He was pure poetry, a cadenza in motion, his limbs an extraction from the finest artwork, his face one that immortal beings would weep over.
To her, he was faultlessness personified.
With her waking eyes she saw him everywhere – it was no longer a surprise, and she came to expect the phenomenon. Even the tiniest fleck of light bouncing through a window and hitting the wall reminded her of the way his hair moved under candlelight. The smell of parchment reminded her of the time she had sat close beside him, helping him with his homework. The fall of rain brought a memory of the time he had emerged from the courtyard, dripping with water, a smile of pure pleasure on his lips. It did not matter then that there was a girl on his arm.
He was her secret passion, her arcana, a dream that woke her in the depths of the night, sweating and panting and confused at herself. She had spent countless hours trying to convince herself she did not want him, yet whenever she saw him, logic and the knowledge he was wrong for her did not hold sway.
Perhaps there would be one last chance to see him, to let her eyes absorb his fluid grace, before they were torn apart. There were words that longed to pass her lips, sentiments she wanted so badly to whisper in his ear. It did not matter if he rejected her.
She had gone beyond that.
She passed students in the halls; all dressed casually, prepared to leave. They raised their eyebrows at her, still clad in her crisp school robes. Their eyes did not bother her. She cared little for them.
There was only one person’s eyes she wanted on her body and a sense of urgency filled her, her feet quickening in time with the beat of her heart, a tempo of dangerous exaltation. She wondered briefly how it was she had not died yet, her heart exploded in her chest.
She could not remain calm around him. There was no way to control that quickening, the burn that started in her belly and spread with alarming speed through her limbs, until the very core of her body, her heart, was screaming and on fire.
Just the thought of him caused her breath to shorten, her lungs to clench. At times, she shook herself, terrified she was losing her mind. She had tried to be strong, to ignore the flutters in her stomach, the nausea that flooded her insides. She was mortified that a boy had such a strong hold over her.
A boy who, for his part, was totally oblivious to the physical changes he wrought in her.
The library doors came into view, two large imposing beacons. The staccato rhythm of her heart increased. She could practically sense him she was so near. Perhaps, a part of her mind chided her, it was only memory and nothing real. He would be packing, preparing to return home to his family and the life that awaited him.
She stalled, her feet pausing before the doors, one hand lifted to touch the timber. The wood was smooth, polished and ornamental. She took a moment to breathe deeply, inhaling the scent of varnish and age into her lungs. Her eyes closed, his image jumping behind her lids, the devilish smile she so loved painted on his lips.
The moment passed and with a sigh, she stamped her foot, scattering the motes of desire from her brain. She had to be sensible about this. There was no use rushing in there, prostrating herself on the ground at his feet and murmuring gibberish.
This had to be smooth, medical. She had to appear to know what she was doing. His reputation among the girls left little to the imagination, and she, who had never had much of a boyfriend before, did not want to appear a pining, adoring girl with a silly crush.
It was much deeper than that. She needed him to understand that.
She loved him. Since fourth year when they had been stuck together working on an assignment, the feisty Gryffindor, so like her mother, had fallen for Scorpius Malfoy, the Prince of Wickedness, the heir apparent. He was his father’s image, her mother had often said; inside and out.
In the end, none of it mattered. None of the sly barbs he had set at her, whispered attacks that cut and wounded and left her bleeding and seething with rage. None of it, for she had always been able to recover, her own tongue as sharp and poison-coated as his, although she made sure never to unleash it without reason. For all he seemed to despise her, he was one of the only people who’s opinion mattered. In the end, the one sting she could not remove burrowed deep.
It twisted her, it changed her and it filled her with aching.
She had loved him continuously for three years, and now it was ending. Seventh year had drawn to a close, bringing with it a melancholy so deep she felt she could drown in it. No one could ever understand her infatuation with the Slytherin, so she had remained silent, locking away her feelings inside the deepest chasm of her heart.
With her eyes still closed, she took a step back, preparing to push the doors open. A hand closed over hers and she jumped, her eyes flying open in alarm.
He was standing there, his skin warm and like liquid on her flesh. Their eyes met, copper and water, and a lump rose in her throat. She could not speak. His beauty dazzled her eyes, her mouth ran dry and words failed her. They lingered on the tip of her tongue but she could not force them past her teeth.
He smiled a beatific smile. His lips curled at the corners, a small dimple jumping to the smooth skin of his cheek. She wanted so badly to run her fingers over it. The smile deepened as he slowly removed her hand from the door, drawing it down but not releasing it. His eyes posed a question and he inclined his golden head.
She had made her choice long ago, and whether it was the right choice, she did not know. It had led her to this moment.
In the space of a heartbeat, she nodded, her eyes glued to his face.
With her hand held firmly between his fingers, he led her down the hall, away from the safety of the library and into unknown territory. The last drops of moisture left her mouth as he paused before a nonchalant timber door, his face flicking messages at her. Although no expert in such matters, she could not mistake the hunger mingled with sadness in his blue eyes.
It was as if he too knew this would be their last moment, a mere snatch of time from years of history together, years of hating and plotting and cruel words. Memories spun before her eyes as he gently reached for the door. Her mind recalled the time he had almost kissed her, last year. He had been angry with her, holding her against the wall and scaring her with the fierceness in his gaze. His lips had paused inches from hers, his eyes scanning her face, his breath on her skin, before he had sighed, as if in pain. He had left her standing there, scarcely able to breathe, her heart hammering in her ears.
There had been other moments when she caught him staring at her, a sly smirk on his mouth, his eyes smouldering, rendering her incapable of thought and movement. She frequently turned to ash in his presence. The feeling of his leg pressed against hers as they worked side by side late at night in the library had kept her without sleep for a week. Sometimes he winked at her like he knew her thoughts, like he shared the secret she carried like a weight on her shoulders.
Scorpius paused, took a deep breath, and flung open the doorway to another world. The steady beating of her heart called to mind a war drum, and she knew that whatever transpired between them would remain a secret. Her parents would never understand; his parents would never understand.
The room beyond was devoid of furniture. A large thick rug, the colour of rubies, covered the floor, and she had the desire to remove her shoes and curl her toes in the fabric. A fire blazed, the heat filling the room, stifling yet oddly comforting.
He led her towards the fire, never taking his eyes from her face, reading her as he might read a book, looking for a signal to stop. None came and slowly, he relaxed, his face transforming, until she was certain his expression mirrored hers. Passions, regrets, and sorrows tainted his countenance. Emotion poured from him, flowing in waves through the tiny space that existed between them, and she drank him in.
His fingers lifted to touch her cheek, branding her with heat. Her heartbeat increased, pounding so quickly it almost ceased moving at all. Of course, he had touched her before, casually flicking a lock of her hair as he passed, or purposefully bumping into her in the halls, incurring a spark of her wrath. At those times, the ocean of his eyes twinkled, flecks of sunlight bouncing from the swell of his irises.
This time was different.
This time his eyes seared her, tearing a heated path right through her flesh. There was no playfulness now; just a roaring flame that scared her with its heat. Those eyes walked her flesh; a trail of scorch marks left behind in their wake. She was being devoured slowly, meticulously and with purpose, and she welcomed it. His fingertips were a hot iron, her cheek melting away like winter into spring.
She opened her mouth to speak, his name beginning to slide from her lips, but he silenced her, one long finger touching her mouth. She could not remember her own name, and in the moments that passed, when he stood and stared at her intensely, it seemed like they had been there forever and that small, heated room became the very core of her existence.
She lunged for him, driven by desire and a need to know. Her mind screamed questions at her, accusations for the nights spend without sleep, the trembling in her limbs and the desert in her mouth. Her mind urged her to discover if it were real.
Her arms went around his neck and her lips moulded themselves to his. She gasped for air, pulling him closer, pressing their bodies together. He held her to him, one hand resting between her shoulder blades, the other in the small of her back.
His kiss was measured and smooth, experienced, and she did not waste time thinking of the girls he had kissed before her. She melted into him like butter; his lips were her lips, his arms, his fingers, his breath, hers. The world had stopped spinning, gravity existing only in the turning of her head and heart. She had waited so long for this moment of ecstasy and anguish.
The kiss broke suddenly, both of them thirsty for air, panting, their breaths mingling. The scent of him infused her thoughts, made her dizzy and the aching in her heart increased until it bordered on pain. That small taste of him had not been enough. He lifted her arms from his neck and she felt a pang of regret, biting her lip at the thought it was over already. Her brow furrowed and she moved herself into him again. He shook his head, lifting her wrist, his eyes examining the delicate Muggle watch gleaming golden on her skin.
Urgency filled his face and she followed his gaze. They were running out of time. His hands were on her body suddenly, moving in smooth strokes down the curve of her waist, and back up, his fingers brushing her ribs through her robes. She repeated the gesture on him, rewarded with a sigh as he closed his eyes. She could feel the muscle, tight and lean, beneath the plain white shirt he wore.
She did not hesitate when he slowly unbuttoned her robes. The movement was too unhurried, and she batted his hands away, practically ripping open the fabric in her haste. He helped, pushing the robes from her shoulders where they pooled at her feet, black as night. Her hands moved of their own free will, reaching for the ends of his shirt as she tugged it over his head.
A sigh ran from her mouth and she stroked her fingers over him, the tips of her nails dipping into every curve and dent of flesh. She looked up at him through her lashes, finding his eyes on her face, expectant and serious. She nodded, and let him remove her shirt, leaving her standing more exposed than she had even been. Not even the girls in her dorm had seen her like that and for a moment she was embarrassed. She did not take her eyes off him as he reached out and touched her, filling her body with liquid heat, molten and dangerous.
Their mouths met again, clinging desperately. He was gentle, yet firm, guiding her yet letting her explore him on her own. His sigh was the sweetest thing she had ever heard and she stored the sound away in her memory for later recollecting.
She experienced a moment of panic when his weight covered her. He kissed at her throat, her head titling back involuntarily, giving him more access. His lips trailed along her skin, wet and warm, and the heat that flooded her body made her gasp.
She wanted nothing more than to remain in the moment forever, caught between his arms and the floor, held in place by the weight of his desire, and hers.
He held her tightly when she bit her lip, his mouth close to her ear, whispering words she could not comprehend but that comforted her nonetheless. The world dissolved. The world ceased to exist. It was only the two of them, suspended in heat and sweat and hushed voices. Time slowed, crawling along as they stripped away the years of hurt, him showing her that her hidden passion was not, as she had believed, all that different to his.
He showed that he wanted her, and she gave all she had to him without pause.
They moved together, a perfect harmony of flesh, her rhythm matching his, a blissful synergy.
When it was over, they lay in each other’s arms. No words were spoken. None needed to be said, although her heart burnt a deep hole in her chest, swollen, squeezed and delicate like glass. Under his hands, she felt fragile, not at all like herself. She felt breakable and light.
He pressed a kiss to her lips before he left her alone to collect her thoughts. As she dressed, she found she was crying, the tears dripping like water, sweet and moist on her cheeks.
The carriage ride to the train was filled with silence. Her friends could see the remainder of the tears on her face but they did not speak of it. Their eyes held questions that she refused to acknowledge. Three carriages back he sat and she resisted the urge to turn and look at him.
It was too terrible. The beauty of his face in her thoughts pierced her like a blade. The memory of the strength of his arms crushed her. She wondered how something so perfect could make her hurt so much.
The station drew nearer, the Hogwarts Express waiting, gleaming in the sunlight. The smell of earth filled her nostrils, rich and damp after the rain that had fallen for days without pause.
The sky had cried for her, for them, and as she boarded the train, tears built behind her eyes. She promised the sky she would weep in return, but not yet. Not until she was home and alone in the comfort of her room would she let her heart break open and bleed.
Her friends left her alone, sitting with her thoughts and dreams of him, staring through the glass to the world outside. Trees rushed past, the landscape swelled and shrank away, the natural world playing havoc with her emotions. Each rise of a hilltop reminded her of the curve of his shoulder; each dip into a lush green valley was the hollow of his throat. The ridges that stretched away into the distance were his limbs, strong and everlasting. The sun was his face, blinding her and hurting her with its preternatural beauty.
The girls who shared her compartment left after a while, her mercurial mood dampening their spirits. With a scowl and sigh, she was alone again, welcoming the solitude.
He found her not minutes from the station, sliding the door open and sitting beside her. His eyes were cast to the floor, his expression stony, his face carved of marble. She longed to touch his skin once more, to feel the marble become flesh. The enigma become a man.
They sat in silence, looking at one another. She could not guess what he was thinking for his face gave away nothing. She lifted her hand, glancing quickly at her watch.
They had moments left.
She jumped as his hand found hers, his fingers spreading and sliding between her own, the action natural and familiar. Electricity jolted her at the touch of his skin, and he frowned at her response, making to pull his hand free. Mortified at the thought of him leaving again, she gripped his fingers tightly, pulling him into her. The lines of their bodies matched and slowly she lowered her head to his shoulder, sliding against him like the missing piece of a jigsaw.
His lips touched her hair, the long strands wild and loose around her shoulders, chestnut shot through with auburn.
Her body sighed with pleasure, her blood singing at his nearness and her eyes dropped closed.
A kiss on her cheek woke her. Their hands were still entwined, their bodies still close. She titled her head and his lips found hers. His kiss was light, filled with words of promise.
Her parents were on the platform, their arms spread wide to welcome her back to them. She went into their embrace, but after having had his arms around her, it felt strangely empty. Lips touched her face, hands found her hair and she smiled. Her mother watched her curiously, instantly piercing the transparent façade. She shook her head. Questions could wait.
Her eyes looked for him as they walked away, her father pushing the trolley containing her trunk, and her life.
He was standing with his parents, his father tall and lean beside him, his mother slender as a reed, petite yet strong. A car door was held open for him, but before he slid into the backseat of the dark shiny car, he looked up.
She froze, her feet faltering, her parents chattering in the background. Sound sank away, time sank away until there was nothing but his eyes. He smiled.
A shutter fell over the ocean, and then he was gone, carrying her secrets with him.