“We are all set. As soon as you are ready, my dear Merope, we shall be off,” cried Tom in a demeaning manner. He sat comfortingly atop one of the squared wooden chairs that my neat kitchen offered, his broad shoulders and attractive face being the first traits that really caught my eyes. I emerged almost immediately from my personal space, an old, peeling trunk of my older brother’s in hand, and a slight smile of gratitude gracing my thin lips.
“I think that I have everything that I need,” I assured. I set the carrying case down on the table and propped it open to reveal what I had dumped inside. A few spell books, several potion ingredients, and no more than ten varied accessories that I now had the ability to call my own were found inside. I only needed a few things to hold on to. I was not planning on ever coming back, rather, living my life in the arms of the only man that the love of my heart had seeped its way into.
I shut the trunk with little difficulty, pressed down the double latches, and turned to face my soon-to-be husband. He took the case from me without hesitation and reached protectively for my right arm.
“Let us head off then,” Tom declared.
The two of us zigzagged through the house and found our way out of the crooked door. The chilly night air caressed our lean bodies as the wind sounded through the pooling trees. Tom drew me in closer to his side- his obvious method of keeping my quarter arms and entire body a bit warmer- and immediately my heart palpitated to extremes. His amiable perfection was positively breathtaking. If I was reacting this severely to his charisma at such a young and innocent moment in life, it frightened me outmost to think of what his effects on me could entail in later years.
We stopped our paced walking when we reached the very horse that I could remember Tom riding from even my earliest of memories. Its appearance was similar to what I might have expected from my lengthy observations, but I must admit with eagerness that the aforementioned animal possessed features of true beauty this close up. The sun was beginning to set on the western horizon, and therefore the darkness that night offered was just beginning to settle in, but my eyes adjusted to the night like a second nature. The Slytherin in me, I suppose, but whatever its origin was, it did not matter. All that held importance in my mind and heart were the moments of time that I would spend with Tom- the years of happiness that would give me bragging rights in the afterlife.
“Ellard!” Tom demanded as he tried bluntly to rouse the horse that rested lazily in my front lawn. His leather reins were secured tightly on a rotting wooden post off to the side, but the vast area that was still open for roaming allowed the horse to lie down on the cold ground in a comfortable and drowsy position. Ellard appeared to be aged and tired, as well as beautiful with what I could make out of his hidden face. I wondered thoughtfully how old he was. “Rise! you lazy animal!”
I eyed the scene from behind Tom, noting how his methods to get the horse to follow his orders worked effectively. No more than a half a minute later, Ellard was curtly on each of his four legs, standing with a sturdy pose and carrying a somewhat dignified expression. He continued to appear aged and worn with years of work and discipline, but his façade of determination could work to be misleading to anyone taking in his looks.
“There, there, Ellard,” Tom cooed with delight. “Alright you are.”
I smiled effortlessly at his flying words of sweet encouragement.
“You ready? We should head off now before the skies begin to darken any further.”
“Yes, but one minute. I want to show you something,” I requested.
“Alright. What is it? I thought that you had everything ready.”
“Oh, I do, I do; I just wanted to show you my necklace. It has been in my family for years,” I replied with confidence.
I reached under the first layer of my dress and pull out the gold chain that I had worn for years. Holding it in my right hand a slight distance from my chest, I allowed Tom to finger it and note on its explicit craftsmanship.
“This is beautiful, love. You do not find jewelry like this very often. These snakes here, do you know what they mean? Do they have some form of resemblance with your ancestors or anything?
“I think so. Why?”
“No reason exactly. It is just that snakes are known as an evil of sorts; if there was some origin behind your possession of it, it would be quite interesting to find out where it began,” Tom explained.
“It would be, yes, but I do not know all that much about my past. My father, he favored my brother above me and shared all of our secrets with him. I was just there- working and cleaning while they enjoyed themselves.”
“What a terrible man. If I had known what a mess that you were in, I would have asked you to marry me years ago. But then again, I never thought that I would be so drawn to you. Like I said yesterday; it just hit me when I woke up. My mind told me that you were the one that I wanted to propose to but my heart was not so sure. But now I am. You are a beautiful woman, Merope. Even with a troubled and unclear past, I can promise you that you will not have to struggle with the future. I will take care of you for the rest of your life,” Tom promised.
I rolled my feet inward at his words. I did not know exactly how a love potion transformed your mind into believing that you were in love with someone who you never did love, but now things made a bit more sense. Your heart and mind clash, but you always end up following your mind when your heart’s feelings are shadowed by that of the higher power.
Tom’s pale eyes turned toward the overlapping skies and his movements progressed into a swift motion. “We should head out. It is about two and a half miles to my parent’s house and the breeze is starting to pick up.”
“Alright,” I agreed as I patted my chilled arms with my rounded palms.
“Give me your hands, dear. I will help you up,” Tom expressed courteously. I did as he requested and allowed Tom’s muscled palms to wrap around my wrists. Within seconds my long legs wrapped around the back of the horse. Tom reached for Ellard’s neck and pulled himself to sit in front of me.
“Hold on tight, Merope. I could not bear it if you fell and hurt yourself,” Tom instructed. I wrapped my lanky arms around his lean waist and pulled my cheek to his shoulder. He was so warm and protecting.
Tom ordered Ellard to begin the journey before any more time passed. Our connected bodies bounced up and down with the massive impact of the ground, but in unison we remained, content and pleased even with the freezing breeze settling around us.
But something about Ellard’s stepping was not convincing me of overall safety. We were swerving slightly from side to side and the repetitive bump occurring in his right step was unmistakably a limp. What was going on? Ellard was not hurt, was he?
“Tom,” I demanded with worry. “Is Ellard alright? He seems a bit unsteady.”
“He is fine. He is probably just sore; lying around in the grass all day probably did not do him any good, that is all,” Tom replied with confidence in his answer.
I fell quiet and dug my cheek harder into Tom’s shoulder blade. When facing forward, the wind stung my eyes and made them water in the corners. I did not want to be uncomfortable.
But before anything more on Tom’s or my own part could take place, we dipped toward the ground more ferociously than the previous takings and this time, we did not rise. My right ankle smashed to the ground and my entire body rolled over it. Slamming my eyes shut in fear, my right shoulder hit the ground and a stupor of question overcame my form.
“Merope!” Tom’s newly familiar voice bellowed out against the darkening night of freezing winds. I flung my eyelids open to full capacity and took in my surroundings. Lifting my head in shock, dizziness overcame my better senses and I struggled to see Tom’s nearing figure bend down by my side.
“Merope, my dear,” Tom cooed, trying to gain my apprehension. “Are you alright? Did you get hurt when we fell?” The worry etched in his voice disturbed my heart and I worked to open my eyes for the second time. With my head firmly on the base of Tom’s large palm, the dizziness slipped away nearly as quickly as it had began.
“Yes Merope, it is me. Are you hurt?” He repeated. “Do you think that you can stand up?”
“What happened?” I questioned, ignoring his recent inquires. I was not going to attempt to stand until I knew what event had just taken place.
“Ellard, he- he died. His heart gave out and he collapsed with us on him,” Tom answered with little emotion. I knew that his horse meant a lot to him. He had called him his own for the past decade and registering the fact that he was gone was going to be difficult.
“Really?” I asked, shocked at the truth.
“Yes. But are you hurt? Please, I need to know if you are alright.” Tom pleaded as his grip on my back and head tightened to my pleasure.
“Let me try to stand up,” I suggested. Tom nodded twice and stepped back to watch as I worked to rise to my feet. I planted my hands firmly onto the moist grass to provide a base for my effort at higher footing. But when I added pressure to my right foot, I felt the searing pain of a broken ankle produce salty tears in my cobalt eyes.
“It is your ankle. You most likely broke it,” Tom observed in worry.
I met Tom’s gaze and immediately he was by my side for the second time, my face resting lovingly in his large palms. “You are going to help me to get home. I know that you would not just leave me out here.”
“Of course. I am going to help you all your life, love. You can count on that.”
A/N: I hope that you enjoyed the third chapter. This one is short as well, but I hope that it holds you over for awhile. Thank you for reading. Please review.