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Blinded by foreverfleur
Chapter 21 : The Rose
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 20

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-- A/N --

Dearest Readers,

I am so incredibly sorry for the wait. I have been so busy this semester with class and extra-curriculars, unfortunately leaving me little time to write. To add insult to injury, I had a very difficult time finishing this chapter, because (as you will see), this latest addition is a very technical transition—vital to the coming excitement but nevertheless tricky to write. (Oh yes, let me emphasize that excitement is definitely on the way!)

My story is constantly heading in new directions (thanks to your continued support!) and can get exceptionally confusing at times. I hope that my thoughts and ideas have translated clearly into words, but if they haven’t please feel free to leave me questions and suggestions and I will do my best to clear up anything that is either inconsistent with the storyline or just too confusing.

I feel so horrible to have made you wait so long for an update and I thank you so much for your patience and support. That being said, I have included a slight re-cap for your reading convenience and I hope that this chapter lives up to your expectations.

I hope you enjoy this latest addition to Blinded and please don’t forget to review.

Yours always,


“What is the one thing holding them together?” Ron asked after a few moments of uncomfortable silence.

“Their growing affection for one another,” Pansy spat miserably.

“Well,” Ron began. “What if we forced them to see each other for who they truly are? The rebound-of-fate for some reason is liberating their inhibitions, allowing them to overlook even forget about their past, including their inherent hatred for one another. What if we brought the past back to them?”

“…so that they remembered why their relationship could never work in the first place?”

“Exactly, all that talk about earth, rain, wind and fire in Binns’ class the other day and we overlooked one of the vital elements that sometimes comes into play in the course of human interaction,” Ron recalled.

“Hope,” Pansy breathed.

“Early wizards and witches were never able to explain its existence because it had no solid basis like water or soil—but it was clear from the beginning that Hope had a power source of its own,” Ron recited from memory. “Why can’t I remember these things for exams?”

“Focus, Ron!” Pansy snapped.

“Right now, we can assume that Draco and Hermione are forming a relationship based on a false sense of hope. If we destroy this foundation by turning all of their hopes into doubts—POOF!” Ron waved his hands in imitation of the Muggle “magicians” Harry had told him so much about.

“We can break the rebound and the school is back to normal. Hermione no longer loves Draco and all is right in the world,” Pansy finished, releasing a well-earned sigh of relief.

“What do you think?” Ron questioned.

Pansy paused, wondering why she hadn’t contemplated their alliance earlier. “It’s worth a shot. At this point, desperate times call for desperate measures.”

“Agreed!” Ron nodded. “We really have nothing to lose.”

Chapter 21: The Rose.

Tightly woven, encasing an intricacy of simple beauty behind a veil of slight hesitation, the red petals were surprisingly soft and inviting to the touch of her coarse hands. Revolving it ever so slowly within the grasp of her finger tips so as not to disturb its priceless delicacy, Pansy examined every inch of the long-stemmed rose with a critical eye, as if challenging its apparent perfection.

In all honestly, it was what she was good at—finding flaws when there were none to be found.

Sitting on the edge of the cackling hearth completely mesmerized by the flower’s allure, she did not know what exactly intrigued her so, why she found herself drawn to such a clichéd token of romantic sentiment. She had stolen it from Professor Sprout’s classroom earlier in the day, originally out of pure Slytherin spite. Having lost several house points for her inability to identify the basic properties of Mimbulus Mimbletonia, Pansy felt the need to express her harbored resentment toward Professor Sprout through physical retaliation—which amounted to nothing more than her stealing a flower Professor Sprout would hardly miss, given her vast collection of more abnormal plant life.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Ron whispered into her ear, emerging decidedly from the shadows for the first time in the five minutes since, he had entered into the Room of Requirement.

Pansy jumped slightly at the sound of his voice on her neck, pricking her skin with a thorn. A trail of blood leaked from the tip of her finger, leaving a slight trace on the edge of the stem.

“Damn it, Weasley!” she said in muffled agitation, while cushioning the injured finger with her moist tongue in an effort to quell the bleeding. “When did you get here?”

“Just now,” he lied.

“I didn’t hear you come in,” she said, dismissing his rather obvious prevarication for flattery. On several occasions since the beginning of their alliance, she had caught him gaping at her for no apparent reason. She learned, however, to dismiss his odd behavior as just another reason why she was thankful she had not been sorted into Gryffindor House.

“Where did you get the rose?” he asked, in an attempt to avert an awkward silence.

“Sprout let me borrow it,” Pansy smirked.

“So, in other words, you swiped it from her desk when she wasn’t looking,” Ron sighed, dropping his books onto the table and collapsing into an armchair, directly across from her.

“Is my reputation really that bad that your mind immediately jumps to criminal action?” Pansy replied, engaging in their daily dose of useless but amusing banter.

“No, just a Slytherin,” was his reply.

“Ouch, that hurts Weasley,” she feigned softly.

“But seriously,” he began embedding a bit of gravity into the witty foundation of their conversation, “The last thing I would expect to see is you holding a muggle plant. It has no magical properties.”

“If it has no magical properties, why would Sprout keep it on her desk?” Pansy retorted, coming to a rather impassioned defense of the entrancing object. “For all we know, it’s exactly what we need to complete our plan.”

Ron scoffed at the ridiculous idea. “To complete our plan?” he repeated sardonically. “The only thing roses are good for is getting a good snog on Valentine’s Day.”

Pansy blushed profusely, angered by Ron’s audacious remarks. “Have you ever stopped to wonder why a single red rose is one of the most powerful symbols of love?”

Ron chuckled at her insinuation.

She rolled her eyes at his indifference. “No, of course you haven’t. Well if you would take a moment to stop thinking with what’s in your pants and use your head for a change…”

Ron shifted slightly in his chair at the accusation, but ultimately let her continue.

“…you might come to realize that the rose does have a power of its own,” she finished.

“What might that be, Einstein?” Ron probed defensively.

“Einstein? Ron, seriously where do you come up with these nicknames… they don’t even make any sense.”

Ron made like he was going to explain his thought process, but found it too difficult to engage the peculiarities of growing up with a muggle-obsessed father.

“Never mind! Will you just spare me the theatrics and just get to the point please,” he recovered. They had reached a frustrating point in their alliance to save Hogwarts from romantic turmoil; and, if she was serious about incorporating the rose into their plan, he was eager to hear what she had to say. They had nothing to lose; yet, over the past few weeks, they had lost a lot of time.

“Right. Well, the rose’s power lies in its ability to deceive.”

Ron stared disbelievingly at her, doing little to hide his skepticism. “Are we talking about the same thing here?” Ron said stubbornly. “You expect me to believe that this flower has the power to deceive! For Merlin’s sake, Pansy it can’t even think.”

“It doesn’t need to be able to think, Ron,” she said in exasperation. “You don’t believe me. Here take it,” Pansy said slyly, doing her best to conceal her ulterior motives.

“I don’t want—“ he began, pushing it away before Pansy forced it into his palm. “You know you’re right, Pansy. It seems to have some kind of dangerous hold over me… what am I to do but succumb to its treacherously soft petals.” He raised his hands mockingly into the air, exaggerating an already awful performance. “I can feel its power poisoning my blood—its beauty is worse than a killing curse I tell you,” he continued with little regard for his companion’s solemnity. “Little by little it, it consumes my—OUCH!” The theatrics came to a sharp halt. “Damn it! I’ve been pricked.”

“You see! Even you forgot there were thorns,” Pansy chimed in, taking advantage of the moment.

Ron fell silent, his sarcasm banished by insurmountable truth.

“So,” he started. “If it is as powerful as you say it is, what do you plan on doing with it?” he conceded.

She smiled at having finally won him over. “Don’t you see, it is the perfect object for us. It deceives—blinds if you will—with its beauty. A relationship we also see…”

“…with Hermione and Draco,” Ron finished, in understanding.

“Precisely. The rebound-of-fate has blinded Draco and Hermione into thinking they are in love that their love for one another is at all possible. The only difference is that unlike Hermione and Draco, the rose has the power to break its own magic with its thorns.”

Ron seemed lost and Pansy, without letting her impatience get the better of her, continued. Somehow in the past few weeks, she had conveniently taken over as the brains of the operation, leaving Ron, pretty much in the dark. He didn’t mind of course—he like women who took control leaving him to indulge in his slothful ways.

“See, their relationship is a beautiful thing,” she spat albeit with a hint of sarcasm, “but like the rose’s power, it is only temporary,” Pansy paused.

“So you are saying we have to somehow prick the rebound-of-fate and all will be well?” Ron tried.

“No. We have to get the rebound-of-fate to prick itself, to break its own deception, to reveal to Hermione and Draco the reality of their situation that their ‘relationship’ is not and never has been plausible,” Pansy said shrewdly. “Only then will Hogwarts return to normal, leaving Hermione and Draco to realize that we are soul mates.”

Ron raised his eyebrows and Pansy flushed red, realizing her mistake. “We are their soul mates—I mean,” she corrected, stressing the with so much force she nearly strained her vocal cords.

Ron smirked inwardly, believing it best to just ignore the mistake. “And we do all of that by sending them back to the past, as I suggested?” Ron asked, seeking confirmation.

“Yes, but to specific moments in the past,” Pansy concurred. “I have been looking at this rose for hours now and I just can’t shake the feeling that we are meant to use it in some way. So that got me thinking…”

“Oh no,” Ron mused, jokingly.

“Shut up, you git!” but Pansy couldn’t help but smile. “If the rose has the power to deceive the wizarding-mind with nothing but a mere glance, why not a wizard-made object.”

“The portkey!” Ron suggested, finally seeing where she was going.

“We have been working on developing a device that would send Hermione and Draco back to certain events in the past for weeks now and nothing has worked. We’ve only been able to go from one place to another, in one defined time. But, if we apply the Portus charm to the rose,” she said while brandishing the fallen flower forcefully in front of his face in an effort to supplement her argument with visual effect, “There may be enough elemental magic for the rose to deceive levels of time—to not only transport Hermione and Draco from one place to another but from one time to another. If we can get Hermione and Draco to the right moments in time we can in effect expose the rebound’s thorns.”

Ron was speechless. It was the most ridiculous idea he had ever heard, but said nothing because it was the only one they had. “It’s a stretch. You do realize that,” Ron said, massaging the tip of his bleeding finger.

“What great magic isn’t?” she posed, in an attempt to convince him.

“What makes you think it won’t backfire on us, sending them back to a different time than we originally intend?”

“It won’t backfire. We’ll tell the rose exactly where to take them. Plus, when love comes into play—nothing can go wrong,” she said with an assured confidence that belied her naïveté.

“Then only one question remains,” he started.

“Let’s have it then, Ron,” Pansy said, half-intrigued by what he had to say.

“If this whole thing relies on your apparent love, I ask you only this,” Ron looked directly into her eyes for the first time since he entered the room. “Are you sure you love Draco as much as you say?”

“Y-yes. What kind of question is that. Of course, I do,” she affirmed, overlooking her very slight, hardly traceable, ray of hesitation.

Stepping from the shower with her towel wrapped tightly around her damp skin, she closed her eyes and breathed in heavily, letting the warm steam pour into her lungs, erasing all traces of sleep from her overworked limbs.

Having fastened her towel around her bare body, sure that it would not fall, she reached up to release her bushy brown hair from the grasp of her hair clip. Relaxed and calmed by her moment of solitude, she paused before displacing the coat of steam painting the mirror’s surface with the palm of her bare hand.

Reaching up with her tired arm to expose the mirror’s reflective nature, Hermione sighed as her favorite part of her day came and went in under a second. A moment between worlds, the time it took her to step from the shower and reach the mirror was a moment where she could hide within the steam, free from herself and from it all—however much, she had grown to enjoy the companionship the rebound had forced upon her.

There was a loud knock on the door, and she jumped slightly within her skin. Having woken up more exhausted than usual, she had rewarded herself by taking an unusually long shower, making them relatively late for breakfast and the start of classes.

“I’m coming,” Hermione managed, speaking loudly so that that he could hear her through the thick walls of the bathroom.

She opened the door and walked out of the room, clad confidently in her bathrobe. She brushed against his chest, to let him know that she had finally finished.

Draco smirked more to himself than to her. I can’t wait for the day that I can see you walk out of that door, he whispered across her mind.

“That’ll be a great day,” she mused aloud, resisting the temptation to respond telepathically.

“Oh yeah?” he said, intrigue lining his words.

“Yeah! The day you can see me walk from the bathroom in my very sexy bathrobe,” she paused for effect watching him drool in the direction of her voice, “Will be the day that I’ll finally be free of you.” She laughed seeing his expression fall into a frown. The one thing she had learned to do, thanks to this whole experience, was to tease.

Then I hope that day never comes, he whispered through her mind.

His words swept her mind clean of everything but her growing affection for him, instinctively sending chills down her spine; she fell weak in the knees. She knew this was part of their morning routine, senseless banter built upon layers and layers of sarcasm and carefully hidden truth—a truth they both conveniently denied. Usually, she was good about obeying the rules of the game, staying on one side of the line they had both refused to cross, careful not to confuse wit with something more enticing.

Today, for some reason however, the fine line proved to be as fine as ever—her heart fighting against her chest daring to reach out to him while at the same time falling prey to her own fear.

She knew he was teasing but she was finding it increasingly difficult to deny his effect over her.

No one could make her feel the way he did and what scared her so, was the fact that he didn’t really have to say much to make her forget, to make her wish, to make her change her mind—he always said exactly what she wanted to hear at the exact moment she wanted to hear it. But since, the ball, the telepathic war in the dungeons that followed, and the night in the common room, they had chosen to leave a few things unspoken for, tacitly understood rather than out in the open.

She fell onto her bed, shielding her eyes with her red and gold comforter while falling back into the restless depths of her mind, forgetting that they were already very late for breakfast and class. After a seconds pause, she shivered with an unknown ecstasy, feeling his concerned hand stroke the exterior of her robe.

She looked up to see him sitting beside her. He had found his way from the bathroom door to her bedside in a matter of a few seconds. Adjusted though he was to his lack of sight, he was exceptionally aware of his surroundings this morning.

“Are you all right?” he asked. “Your voice seemed really stressed a moment ago, definitely not your usual—might I add—annoying self,” he chuckled, but was quick to change his tone noticing the tense gravity of her form. In a quick explanatory defense, he started, “I was only teasing before; I promise. Hermione, are you seriously okay?”

She didn’t understand why he cared so much. Yes, they had become friends, forced upon one another by sheer geographical proximity; yet, she couldn’t understand how over the past several weeks they had become more.

She wanted him, yes. But, she just couldn’t understand why, and it seemed all of her uncertainty had finally surfaced, extracted by the steam between worlds.

She snapped out of it, meeting his concern with feigned assurance. “Yes, sorry—I’m fine. I thi-think I was just in the bathroom too long, a little overwhelmed by the heat. I’ll be fine.”

He wasn’t convinced and she could tell by his momentary hesitation. Nevertheless, he returned to his side of the room to finish getting ready and she sighed softly with a bit of relief.

Turning the conversation away from its usual fanciful nature, Draco started on a more concrete topic: the Christmas Holiday. After much discussion, they had both come to the conclusion that it would be best if they didn’t have to separate from one another. Yes, they had grown to enjoy each other’s company but they had also made great strides in the past few weeks in solving the rebound-of-fate. They hadn’t made any physical progress, since the night of the ball and still found themselves to be bound to one another.

Instead, they had turned much of their attention to understanding the extent of their connection, hoping that it would lead to some kind of resolution. They knew from aspects as obvious as the telepathy that they were connected in more ways than the seven-foot restriction. What proved interesting were incidents as small as sensing what the other was feeling to actually tapping into one another’s capabilities in times of great emotional stress. They had experienced the latter twice, that they knew of offhand: the first time, on the quidditch pitch in Slytherin’s first match against Gryffindor, the second when Hermione almost destroyed the vial of Shrouding solution.

Given the progress they seemed to be making, they saw it only logical to spend the Christmas Holiday together. Hogwarts, of course was an option, given that the castle was open to anyone who wanted to stay.

Hermione didn’t like the idea of Christmas at Hogwarts, and she made that perfectly clear in her continued protests. She liked the family atmosphere and assured Draco that her family would love to have him spend the holidays with them.

But, Draco didn’t like the idea of spending two weeks in the Muggle world and proceeded to persuade Hermione to think about spending two weeks at the Malfoy manor.

“So, what do you think?” Draco asked.

“About what, exactly?” Hermione breathed, slipping on her robes over her carefully chosen outfit, of jeans and a t-shirt.

“About spending the Christmas Holidays at my house?” Draco pressed, albeit gently.

“Honestly?” she asked.

Draco could hear the intonation in her voice rise slightly, awaiting confirmation, which he gave her. “Yea, honestly.”

“I don’t like it. I don’t understand why you won’t even give the Muggle world a chance. It can be really fascinating and I know my dad will be a bit intimidating at first because you are a boy and you are physically bound to his only daughter but—Merlin—he is a dentist and can’t really do much about it now can he. Although he is pretty fierce with fluoride, so if I were you I would watch what I eat in the first couple of days…” she was rambling now and Draco knew it was only to avoid giving him a straight answer.

“But, if you come to my house, we could avoid the whole—what is it—fluoride situation; and, we’ll finally get a chance to talk with my mother,” he argued, stressing the latter part of his sentence. Hermione had to admit that Draco made a convincing case and she really had no reason not to go except for the small fact that his father hated her and the small problem that she was a muggleborn.

“Draco, I don’t think I can. As much as we need to see your mother to figure all of this out… your father…”

“…will be in Bulgaria for the Holidays on official ministry business. He isn’t expected back until the New Year, giving us plenty of time to enjoy the holidays, speak with my mother and return to Hogwarts, undetected.”

Hermione bit her lip, clearly uncomfortable with the proposal but failing to come up with a good argument against it. It seemed failsafe but she knew with her luck that something would inevitably go wrong.

Draco could hear her shifting underneath her apparently calm façade, and added, “I won’t let anything happen to you.”

She stood up to head down the stairs, protesting the whole situation with a disturbed silence.

“Look, I just don’t think this is a good idea,” she said a bit frustrated. “We can find another way to contact your mother.”

“You and I both know that there is going to be no other way to talk with my mother, uninhibited by my father. You’ve heard what he is capable of. If he gets wind of the fact that we are trying to get in contact with my mother for the very reasons he doesn’t want us to, he will make our lives more difficult than they already are.”

“Difficult? Is that what I am to you?”

He knew she was just looking to pick a fight, to avoid admitting that going to the Malfoy Manor for the Christmas Holidays was exactly what they needed to do. But, he was in no mood to give into her petty tactics.

“As of right now, yes difficult is exactly what you are!”

Hermione was thrown completely off guard by his comment, having expected him to give into her demands. In frustration, she grabbed her school bag, and with a slight huff, hurried down the stairs, leaving Draco to fend for himself.

“Oh real mature of you, Hermione,” Draco hollered at her back.

“I only complicate things right? I’m sure you can find your own way to the Great Hall!” Hermione yelled back.

Grabbing her wand, which was lying on the table next to the hearth, she made her way to the portrait hole, surprised that she could still see given that she had left Draco at the top of the stairs. Unfortunately, Draco proved more adept at finding his own way than she had originally expected and was right behind her in exiting the dormitory.

The portrait hole slammed shut and Draco, recording the swift pattern of her footsteps, quickly grabbed hold of her arm before she got away.

“Will you just stop and be reasonable, please? I know you are not really angry with me and I also know you are not thrilled by the idea of spending the Holidays at the Malfoy Manor, but can you please just consider the possibility? That is all I’m asking of you.” He could feel her harsh breathing subside slightly, and assumed that she had started to come to her senses.

Hermione watched Draco plead his case. Why did he have to be so irresistible? She began to wonder if for some reason she had woken up on the wrong side of the bed—the uncontrollable emotional side, but before she could respond to his plea, she noticed something lying in the middle of the corridor that in their haste they had completely overlooked.

She held her breath, looking over Draco’s shoulder in an attempt to get a better look. Something about the object had completely entranced her to a point that she had pushed Draco to the side and started for it.

“Look, we can talk about this more over lunch or something—Hermione, where are you going?” Draco asked, his fingers still tightly wound around her wrist. “Look, I’m not letting go of you until you agree to consider my proposal.”

Unfortunately his words fell to deaf ears for she was too distracted by the beautiful object to give him any kind of answer, leaving Draco to stumble over his own feet back towards the portrait hole behind her, holding onto her wrist in pure obstinacy.

A new aroma began mixing with Hermione’s usual fragrance and he immediately knew she was distracted by something tractable yet ephemeral, either on the floor or on the wall. Intrigued by her sudden fascination with whatever was emitting such a strong and novel fragrance, he asked, “Hermione, what is it?”

Before she could answer him, however, it was simply too late for questions. She had picked up the beautiful rose, only to find it had deceived her.

“See, I told you it would work,” Pansy affirmed complacently from within the dark cabinet. They had moved it there so that they could furtively watch Hermione and Draco find the rose, jump-starting their plan into motion. “The rose never goes unnoticed.”

“Yeah, well it almost did. You are just lucky they didn’t walk right passed it,” Ron chimed in.

“Will you shut it! I’m trying to enjoy the moment,” Pansy huffed in his direction.

“The moment?” Ron probed, turning his attention away from the corridor to Pansy’s shadow of a figure.

“Yeah,” she sneered, “The last moment of their naïve bliss—the last moment, Draco believes he is in love with her—the last moment, he is without me.”

“So you are positive then, that this isn’t going to backfire?” Ron said, while peeping through the crack in the cabinet door, watching Hermione kneel to the floor, entranced by the rose.

There was a slight breeze that flushed through the corridor, finding its way through the cracks in the wooden cabinet where Pansy and Ron were hiding.

It was Pansy’s turn to take her eyes away from the scene unfolding before their eyes. “I’m positive, Ron. If you charmed the rose to use the timeline of memories I chose from my penseive, like I told you to do before we left the Room of Requirement that night we formulated this entire plan, we should have no problems—the rose should know exactly where to take them. In fact, the rose should send them back to three distinct moments in time, all of which will remind Hermione and Draco—and more importantly the rebound—why they are not meant to be.”

Ron’s stomach churned. “Like you told me to do so? The night in the Room of Requirement?”

“Yes, like I told you do so. Why, what is the matter with you?” Pansy asked offhandedly

“Pansy,” Ron hesitated fearing the onset of nuclear wands, “You never told me to charm any part of that rose. In fact, we never really discussed how we were going to tell the rose where to send Hermione and Draco—a minor detail, I suppose, but with major conseque—”

“WHAT!?” Pansy cried, stepping forcefully through the cabinet door into the corridor, letting a rush of fresh air into her lungs; she was fuming with uncontrollable rage. “You mean to tell me that we never… the rose is just…a regular old…good for nothing… portkey…” Pansy stopped. Smirking she let her anger subside.

Pointing a finger at Ron, as if all-knowing, she continued, “Oh I see what this is, you are trying to freak me out on purpose. Ha ha, the joke is on Pansy. I get it, but you can stop now! You know you can never really deceive me.”

But Ron was shaking his head, his unwaveringly stern expression flooding her with a sudden wave of doubt.

“Ron,” she began, her voice shaking, “If we didn’t tell the rose where to take them,” she began, “and the rose was merely a Portkey—then…” she paused, taking a moment to a do a 360 in the middle of the now silent corridor. “Where could they have gone?”

Realizing for the first time that they were no longer in the confines of the dark cabinet, Ron looked over to where Hermione and Draco had been kneeling only seconds before. Panic flushed through his system, sending adrenaline through his chest when he realized that he was only in the company of Pansy.

He rushed over to the portrait hole where Pansy was now standing completely still, only to find a single red petal resting quietly in Hermione and Draco’s wake, the only trace that they had once stood bickering arm in arm just moments before.

“Pansy, they could be anywhere--in any time for that matter! And we have no way to bring them back!” he turned angrily on her, panic taking permanent residence in the pit of his stomach.

Pansy collapsed onto the floor. Disbelief etched across her face.

“Ron, I don't know what to say... I don't...” Pansy breathed shaking her head from side to side, ruminating over and over just how they could have made such a devastating mistake.

Dark clouds lined the horizon of her window, thundering above her with a rage rivaling her own. She breathed in the thick humid air, streaming in from the few cracks in the tainted glass. She loved watching the landscape change right before a storm, the rays from the sun slowly encased behind a veil of gray nothingness. The imminent rain was oddly comforting to her lonely self, as though in a moments notice, all could be washed away.

Narcissa sat down to watch the storm play out its course. Melting into the warm depths of an old green armchair, she turned to light a candle. In the absence of the sun, her room was oddly dark for the middle of the day.

The candle now burning, she turned her attention away from the storm for a mere second. In the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of a decrepit rose, placed delicately on the mantle next to a cropped picture of her, back when she was young, just a student at Hogwarts. Lifeless, colorless, like her, the rose still held a certain beauty that could not be explained.

Why she had kept it all of these years—no one could ever understand.

It’s beautiful, but not more than you.

His words crept slowly across her mind, a memory inviting her back to a time when she feared rather than reveled in storms, a time when she was alive rather than living.

She looked at the rose one last time before turning her attention back to the window; she sighed heavily. She had kept it all these years, because something in her had hoped he would come back—that he would return, realize, remember, forget.

Wiping a stray tear away from her cheek, Narcissa turned backed to the window, leaving the rose to blend into the darkness; and, with a blink of the eye, she welcomed a downpour of rain.

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