Chapter 1 : Beetles and Butterflies
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There she was, all five-foot-five of that glorious figure, striding through the halls with a bounce in her step that few her age could pull of in such a pair of heels. The shoes had a personality all their own. They were glossy, golden pumps that no one else in the area would have dared to pair with the already bold magenta robes. Yet, she pulled it off as if she was wearing nothing more radical than some casual jeans and flip flops.
Not a single golden hair was out of place as it softly swayed behind her with the momentum from each step. Thick, bright red plastic frames instantly drew attention to her grey but vivid eyes. The bag that was slung over her shoulder could have concealed a dog with room to spare. Instead, it was filled with scribbles on napkins and receipts and ticket stubs, items a sensible adult would have thrown out without a second thought. But then, Rita Skeeter was a breed of her own.
Even as a young girl, Rita possessed an extraordinary gift of storytelling. Combined with the compassion her mother had taught her, Rita was able to use this gift to weave beautiful stories of the trials and triumphs of love at a young age. Most girls were tucked into bed with a bedtime story. But Rita would lie beside her single mother and tell her own bedtime stories.
With a goodnight kiss on the forehead after every "happily ever after," her mother would sweetly whisper in Rita’s ear, "And some day that will be you." Rita’s ready response was always, "And you, too, Mommy." Rita and her mother would lie back-to-back, the soles of their feet touching, and together they would count to three before her mother flicked the lights out with a single wave of the wand.
Until the age of seventeen, Rita still continued her nightly ritual with her mother, so long as she was not away at Hogwarts. But soon after, her life took its twisted turn. The dreams she had once harbored were clouded by the harsh realities Rita had grown to accept. Into the fire she threw her old parchments that housed the epic romances. Never more did she believe her mother when she was told she would find her own true love. Never more did she whisper it back.
Above all else, Rita had believed in the power of true love. No matter how hard she had tried to suppress these beliefs, she knew she could never fully eradicate the mark they had left on her soul. It was for this reason that she decided she would never part with her first love—storytelling—no matter what. And there came a time when she learned that more often than not, it came to the “no matter what.”
Fresh out of Hogwarts, she had earned her keep as an intern at the Daily Prophet, highly praised for her skillfully written articles and masterfully executed interviews by all on the staff. Yet, when she mentioned to an acquaintance her profession, she would get blank stares.
“Are you the one who does the pieces on the recent werewolf attacks? Those are scandalous!”
And she would have to politely respond by informing the witch or wizard that, no, she did not in fact have anything to do with those crafted articles. She wrote more sentimental pieces, tributes of sorts. A quick grunt or nod and nothing more was the response she would typically receive.
And thus, the beetle came to be. Rita Skeeter set the record for the shortest amount of time an intern spent before writing paid articles. Her readership was unprecedented. How soon she forgot her childhood dreams of love. How soon she thought she had it all.
"Would you object to my use of a Quick-Quotes Quill? It allows me to engage in a more intimate and casual conversation with you,” a Rita Skeeter in her mid-thirties asked in her polite, but somehow harsh, voice. It was a voice that few could refuse.
“Not at all! Not at all! You know, I’ve actually met the inventor of these lovely little creatures. I would tell you his true name, but he prefers to keep it private, only for his closer friends to know. He told me himself that he’s never seen anyone use a Quick-Quotes Quill like I do,” replied an uncommonly handsome man with gently tousled sandy blonde locks.
Rita had never encountered an interviewee so eager to have his interview sensationalized. She instantly marked Gilderoy Lockhart as the easiest prey she had ever set her eyes on.
“How charming! And what purpose would you ever have for the use of a Quick-Quotes Quill? Their most common use is for interviews.”
Lockhart seemed slightly put-off by the question, but made a fast recovery. “Why, of course, of course. I interview myself. Having found myself to be the best candidate to write books about magical me, I always begin each new novel by interviewing myself. I couldn’t possibly leave it up to another witch or wizard. It’s far too important a task to undertake. I know all the proper questions to ask. I’m the only one who can handle such a thing properly.” His response triggered a sly smile from Rita.
“Ah, I see. So shall I leave you and my Quill alone in this café for an hour or so?” she joked sarcastically. Rita was surprised by how naturally it came; she typically stuck rigidly to her article guidelines.
“And leave the company of such a fine, young, single woman? With my good looks, your empty seat would attract that witch over there. She looks far too similar to the hags I recently battled during this past holiday.”
“Now, when you say hags, do you mean that figuratively?”
“Why, no. True hags, they were! You should have seen the way they—”
“By defeating these so-called hags, do you wish to promote a message that promotes spousal abuse or the defamation of woman? Was it your original intent to prompt a series of devastating—” Rita was cut off in her own game.
“Now, pardon me for just a minute. These were true hags. I love women! Women love me. What good would I be doing if I tried to change that?”
“I see. Dear, if you don’t mind my asking, do you think this could be a calling out to your childhood days, when you would reject the many advances of the uglier girls in your class, even though there were no pretty ones interested in you? Did you perhaps resent those less fortunate in the beauty department because they seemed to associate themselves with you simply because you were a failure?”
She blinked a few times as she waited for his response, but all she saw was a blank stare. She realized that she was starting to get to him, and he was ready to crack. Something delicious was going to come out of this interview. What she didn’t realize was that it had nothing to do with Gilderoy’s past.
“Have you talked to my mother?” It was hardly the response she was expecting, although he had hit the nail on the head.
“We might have encountered each other in a café this past week, but it’s not a matter of importance.” She instinctively slipped him a wink, only seconds before questioning her motives. Had she fallen for the charm, when her mission had been to meet the man beneath it?
“Well, who could blame you for wanting to discover just a little bit more about me. If I was a budding reporter, I assure you I would have done the same. Don’t worry, I won’t tell any other A-list wizards about your little interview faux pas.”
“Just to clarify, I am in fact an award winning reporter, and not a budding reporter,” she proudly announced, her ego punctured by his insensitive choice of words.
“When I said budding, I was not referring to your writing skills, but rather to your blossoming beauty. A writer with your talents (and Quick-Quotes Quill) can surely write an extravagant article that glorifies my smile, hair, and otherworldly accomplishments within a few hours, and without an interview. Why, my fame is practically common knowledge.”
“I’m failing to see your point here.” Rita was slowly beginning to realize that her “easy target” was not quite as quick to succumb to her spotlight questions as she had once believed he would be. The tables had turned.
“Would you like to turn this interview into a date?” He was blunt. So blunt, in fact, that instead of sounding like a question, the tone of his voice instead implied that he was calling her out on hidden intensions.
“Excuse me?” Rita nearly choked on the coffee she was sipped and was forced to swallow some water quickly to clear her pipes.
“How rude of me! I shouldn’t have even asked. It’s probably embarrassing to be asked a question when the asker already knows the answer. What do you say we move this little ‘interview’ of hours to the park across the street?”
The woman with all of the questions suddenly found she had no answers. All she could do was muster up a nod as she questioned the new and unfamiliar feeling in her gut.
Five months into the relationship, their connection was stronger than ever. The more time that Rita spent with Gilderoy (or, as she liked to call him, simply “Roy”), the more famous she became as a writer. She was able to provide exclusive insight into the man that was the famous, beloved Lockhart. And, so long as their relationship was kept hidden from the public eye, her reporting seemed unbiased. She was critically acclaimed as the one reporter who could weasel a tear out of the toughest of interviewees.
Of course, unable to shake the habits that she had shaped since the age of seventeen, Rita still found time to snoop into the personal life that Lockhart kept hidden from her. She felt like the untrusting girlfriend, but she covered up this uneasy feeling by telling herself that she was instead the hard-hitting news reporter. A hard-hitting news reporter who was about to realize that she had found a love greater than writing, though she wouldn’t admit it.
“Fascinating, fascinating! And the Yeti never saw his step-brother again?” Rita was perched upon a library shelf, content to be witnessing her beloved Roy engaged in a riveting conversation with an unkempt and rugged wizard, bordering on disheveled. She amused herself with the thought that, if she were the interviewer, her Quick-Quotes Quill would have written something along the lines of:
Reeking of the torturous travels of his past year, Arnold displays an utter lack of basic human hygiene, most likely a behavior learned as he frolicked with the Yetis. His personal interactions with other humans border incivility.
Arnold, aged by his struggles with his captor, seems to have a romantic glimmer in his eye as he describes the Yeti’s fur. Undoubtedly, their relationship passed the level of hostage and Yeti, although his soul seems to be so traumatized by his inner conflictions that his body refuses to allow the thought to cross his mind. His eyes plead for a bittersweet reunion with his Yeti lover, yet society holds him back.
“No.” There was a long silent pause. “Just as I will never see the Yeti. After his step-brother left for the colder climate of the Alps, the Yeti was so heartbroken that he allowed me to be free. I think he felt that it would help to mend his broken heart.”
“Is that where your tale ends?” Lockhart had a nervous look about him. Wheras he was typically so very poised, he seemed to fidget about in his chair, uneasy and anxious.
“I’m afraid so. It’s tragic really.” Arnold reached for a handkerchief in order to wipe his moistened eye, and Rita felt a hint of sympathy for the wizard.
“I truly must agree. Although I’m familiar with one that is even more so.” Rita perked at the mention of a story more tragic and prepared herself for what she dreamt was a mystical tale of dangerous endeavors that only a storyteller like her true love could craft.
“I’m not sure I can really stand something more tragic than my year with the Yeti,” Arnold said. But Rita knew Gilderoy too well. She knew that once he had his mind on telling a personal anecdote, he would always follow through.
“I must apologize, but you’ll have to. This tragic tale is yours. Obliviate!” It was not the follow-through Rita had expected. The shock of witnessing such a horrific event caused her to rapidly transform back into her human form. No longer a tiny beetle, she caused the library shelves to crash down. Novels and loose parchment scattered the dark room as Rita found herself face-to-face with her lover.
The two who could never stop talking, who always cut each other off mid-conversation in order to get in a few words, were left breathless and dumbfounded. Gilderoy was conflicted between anger at his lover’s deception, and relief at no longer having to keep any secrets from her. The relief, though, slowly began to fade as he was reminded of her profession.
Rita was likewise conflicted. This was the story she had been waiting for. This would propel her to untold fame and riches. She would finally have the credit and respect of all readers and writers. She could finally touch on the fiction she had once hoped to publish. But deep in her heart, she knew that she was staring into the deep eyes of the one man whose reputation she was not willing to tarnish.
Gilderoy’s wand quivered in his hand, as his brain was commanding him to perform a memory charm on the witch who stood before him, and his heart held the hand steadily at his side instead. Rita’s mouth was perched in a half-open position, ready to speak, yet not ready to hear the words leave her lips.
Somehow, simultaneously, they both found the perfect words to say.
“So, that’s how you do it.” Neither said it in an accusing tone, for somehow both had realized they were equally at fault. Each with blackmail of identical weight on the other, they reached a silent agreement, and both relaxed.
“Your secret’s safe with me,” Rita whispered as she kissed him lightly on the cheek before apparating back to her flat where she took one of the most long and soothing bubble baths she had ever taken.
A great weight had been lifted, exposing her animagus form to Gilderoy, but it had also taken their relationship to greater heights and pressures. It was one of their last indulgences.
And so, we return to the image of an outwardly self-assured, demanding blonde, her hair perfectly curled, her lipstick smoothly applied, and not one single evenly mascara-coated lash out of place.
"Bloody hell! Is that who I think it is?" Ben whispered to Karen as Rita paraded through the main hall of St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.
"Well, technically speaking, I have no idea who you think it is. But, yeah. It’s the bitch herself.”
"Honey, are you seeing what I'm seeing?" The two had worked together at St. Mungo’s ushering patients and visitors to the proper rooms and tending to the technicalities of the hospital, for the past eleven or twelve years. They had seen it all.
It only took Karen one split second to take in the girl who was brushing past the window to understand what Ben had meant. "Oh, damn. She looks like she’s back in the game. Should we warn them?"
Rita’s articles and books had lost a great deal of readership after her publication of Harry’s biography. Not only had the wretched wizard taken excessive care in defaming her approach to journalism, but another witch, by the name of Pansy Parkinson, had recently risen as a commendable reporter, whose style was all-too-similar to Rita’s yellow journalism. The difference between the two was that Parkinson knew no bounds, and would reach even farther than Rita, fabricating many of her stories out of thin air, whereas Rita merely sensationalized the truth, or made crude assumptions based off of semi-truths.
Rita was in a slump, and though her job at the Daily Prophet would never be at stake, she mourned the day when a witch would say her name and it would not carry the same vibrant tone as it had in the past. Rita was treading the waters of a washed-up reporter. She was teetering on a rickety bridge of has-beens.
For Rita to appear so self-assured was certainly news to the St. Mungo’s staff. It was also a clue that they should be more than wary of her every move. When they had agreed to the interview, the staff had assumed that the Rita of late would appear, rather than a Rita who seemed to believe it was 1995.
"Warn them? And miss out on the fun? No way! Let's just see where this goes," Ben smirked. Karen had to agree with this approach.
"She’s going to have a field day with the staff."
"Karen, dear. From the looks of it, Wendy and Craig are going to be the ones who need comforting after this meeting, not the patients. She's sharp."
"You think they can hold her ground?" Ben simply smiled in response.
"That thing right there that walked by in those heels with that smile? Rock. Star. And she's ready to bring down the house."
Karen’s innocent smile returned to her face. "As long as it's not my house."
Wendy took one look at the girl through the window and instantly called Craig. "Mr. Proseco? It seems that Miss Skeeter is here. She's...impressive." By then, Rita had already reached the door and was entering the office. Wendy lowered her voice. "Do you need a moment before I send her in?"
"Do I seem like the type of person who needs a moment before I meet a woman?"
"Not at all, sir. She's just...well…she’s one-hundred percent." Was there any other way to describe it? Rita’s composure screamed “comeback” to the dot.
"And so am I, so quit acting like you’re not, and do your job. Send her in!" The violent click was audible through the receiver.
"Good morning!" chimed a harsh but irresistible voice. "I have an appointment. And you seem extremely anxious. I really hope me dropping in on such short notice isn't too much of a hassle." It all sounded rehearsed, as if purposely meant to sound like Rita was only mentioning it for the sake of propriety. The gentle voice and demeanor did not match the sassy exterior.
"You’re Miss Skeeter, I presume."
"Oh, please! Just call me Rita."
"Well, Rita, you have no need to feel like you are a burden at all to me or anyone else in this hospital. I assure you, one week's notice is far from short. And I can already tell that you will prove to be much more of a pleasure than a burden. It's the office's delight to have you here." Rita was already itching to have her hands on a quill. The squirming secretary was too much for her too handle. She was the perfect target to practice on.
"Then why do you seem so tense and nervous?" Wendy tried to avoid Rita’s inquisitive eyes and arched brows.
"Could I interest you in a glass of water it a cup of tea?"
"Neither sounds too interesting, but I wouldn't mind either one as a drink."
"Which do you prefer? Water or tea?" In reality, Rita’s mouth was far from dry. It was watering with anticipation. She hardly needed a beverage.
"Milk, please. Skim if you have it." She added a bright smile to her request.
"Watching your weight?" Instantly, Wendy regretted her question. It was meant more as a joke, since Rita was so fit, especially for a woman in her late forties, but she worried that her sarcasm would not be taken lightly.
"No, not watching it. There isn’t much to look at, is there? But skim tastes best."
"Alright then, one glass of skim milk coming right up." Wendy tried to leave in such a rush that it was clear she was feeling a high level of discomfort and in need of an escape.
"Oh, no!” Rita quickly added. “Sorry, but that's not what I meant. In the tea." It had not at all been her intention, but she was having far too good a time messing with the young and inexperienced witch.
"So then no milk?"
"Were you not listening, dear? Yes, milk. In the tea." Rita spoke slowly, as if to make sure that Wendy’s mind would not be burdened while processing her request.
"Of course,” said Wendy, no longer bothering to hide her irritation. She returned moments later with hot tea and milk.
"You know,” said Rita, even slower this time. “I meant to catch you before you left, but you were just too quick for me. I decided that I'm actually fine. I don’t need anything at all." Wendy’s eyes flared up, but she managed to crack a smile, just as Craig entered the room.
“So, what is it you wish to speak to me about?” he asked, eyeing her smooth legs. The expression on his face made it clear that he was impressed by the way that her outward appearance did not seem to correlate with her true age.
“Oh, I have no interest at all in speaking with you.” The words seemed to cut at Craig’s self-esteem like a knife through soft butter. It was all too easy.
“Where’s Lockhart?” She demanded, before he could respond. Wendy and Craig locked eyes for a moment, both confused and curious to see if the other knew something. Realizing that they had both been taken aback by the request, they were all too curious to refuse Rita. With an approving nod from Craig, Wendy led Rita into the ward where Lockhart was kept and tended to.
Rita instantly began to make herself comfortable. She placed all of her notebooks in an orderly pile upon a bed adjacent to Lockhart’s before sitting beside them. She pleasantly sighed as she reached into her oversized handbag to retrieve a rectangular golden case. With the whispering of the words, “Our little secret,” so quietly that it was inaudible to the other in the room, and the swish of her wand, the case opened to reveal a familiar acid-green quill.
She didn’t even bother to ask. Rita knew Lockhart well enough to know that he would never object to her use of the Quick-Quotes Quill, even if he was not his true self. She quickly sucked the tip of the quill, an action that brought the item to life and connected it to her thoughts, and set it on a crisp page of a fresh notebook, where it patiently hovered.
“You may leave, now.” She directed Wendy, whose presence she had forgotten upon entering the room. It seemed to be a few full minutes of silence between Rita and Gilderoy before either spoke.
Lockhart simply could not keep his eyes off of her, and a strange hazy look came over his face. His features all softened as his expression relaxed in her presence. He did not know why, but he suddenly felt at home.
Rita, although appearing to be in her element, was rigidly terrified within. She had nearly no idea where to begin, nor any notion of how much Gilderoy remembered. There had been reports that he was gradually recovering, and even found pleasure in responding to fan mail, although he could not have known why he was receiving it.
Rita felt at a loss for words, knowing the most intimate details of their previous relationship, and fearing that he remembered none. Her original intentions for the interview began to fade away.
She had come to produce an in depth look at Lockhart’s life in St. Mungo’s, a heartbreaking tale of a fallen hero as well as a commentary on the staff treatment of patients. She had hoped that her knowledge of Gilderoy’s inner quirks would allow her to snake memories out of his head and convince him to dish dirt on the caretakers. A sliver of optimism from her childhood days had her wishing that she would somehow be able to bring the real Gilderoy back. She foolishly had a title planned in anticipation: “My Miracle at Mungo’s: How I Unlocked Lockhart.”
Instead, she was faced by the brutal reality of the situation. Lockhart couldn’t even place her in his mind.
“I’m hungry,” Gilderoy said, rather matter-of-factly.
“Well, then, I suppose I could fix you something. I would rather not call on an attendant. What are you used to?” She was frightened by his childlike manner. Here she was, Rita Skeeter, famed journalist, asking her former lover what his food preferences were in the hospital ward. It stung that she barely knew him any more.
“This room.” Rita felt pangs rooted deep in her heart as she realized how true Lockhart’s statement was. He had been in the ward for nearly ten years.
“I would assume so, my dear,” She replied tenderly. “But, as far as food goes, do you still have the same preferences? Oh! That’s an angle I never considered! Sweetheart? Do you think the accident changed the foods you like?” She now found a bubbling curiosity within her, all too keen on knowing if he was possibly not too dissimilar from the man she had loved. Would he still melt in her arms at the mention of chocolate frogs? Would he still spit in disgust if she offered him Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans? Would he glow at a compliment on his lilac robes?
“Accident? I’m not sure what you’re talking about. But I’ve always been partial to seven-legged octopus!” This was news to Rita, so she instantly wrote it off in her mind as an effect of his boggled mind.
“At the very least, your humor is intact. That’s important to note,” she tried to reason, almost speaking to herself.
“Do you think it’s funny?” Gilderoy demanded, indignantly.
“Surely you were jesting?”
“Why would I be? It’s succulence is second to none, and it’s far more rare than the six-legged octopus. Would you make me some?” Rita was at a loss for words.
"The only thing I've ever successfully made in the kitchen is a mess. And several little fires. How about a picnic?" A new approach was forming in her mind. She was desperate to reach out and touch a part of the old Roy she knew, no matter how distant. She would do everything in her power to bring up words that would have evoked powerful images of their relationship in his mind.
It almost pained her to mention a picnic. Memories flooded her. She was overwhelmed by visions of fall leaves, clouding the park with an aura of warmth and comfort, as she and Gilderoy playfully courted while snacking on sandwiches. It was their first true date, spent lost in the muggle world where an encounter with prying witch and wizard eyes would be far less likely. It was simple and pure.
“A picnic for dinner? That wouldn’t taste very good at all! The straw from the basket would get stuck in my teeth!” The lunatic who had replaced the man she knew was beginning to depress Rita far more than she could have imagined. It took all of her strength not to break down in tears, for she had thought that no memory could have been as powerful as that day at the park.
“I was suggesting that instead of a cooked meal, we eat something simpler, like sandwiches.” Perhaps, she had thought, the more specific image of sandwiches would help his mind to sort itself out.
“What could be more simple than a seven-legged octopus?” It was hopeless.
“An eight-legged octopus, Gilderoy,” replied Rita, ready to concede to the fact that her mission was futile and that any other attempts would be fruitless.
“No, no, no! It would be far too fatty. I like them lean.”
“Chicken is lean. How about a nice chicken salad?” The suggestion had been an honest one, meant to provide an alternative to the impossible and horrendous octopus meal that Gilderoy seemed so intent on consuming.
“Salad?” A strange mixture of emotions came across Lockhart’s face. He seemed at once to be repulsed and infatuated by the idea of salad.
“Yes, how about it?” Rita was unsure where Gilderoy was headed with his questioning of the salad. She was careful not to deter him from his thoughts.
“I had a salad once.”
That moment, a scene began to play in Rita’s head. It was as if it had been yesterday. The last time she had seen Lockhart. How hard she had tried, to suppress those memories. She loathed the thought of revisiting them, but yearned to bring Gilderoy to relive them as well.
“I’m fairly certain you’ve had a salad more than once.” She couldn’t be sure that he was thinking of the same salad she was thinking of.
“I remember this salad. It was very pretty.” At this point, Rita was more sure of herself than ever before in her life. She trusted her instincts to navigate her through this new territory.
“The salad was pretty? Or the waitress?”
There had been a fight, an appalling fight, that had ended a lusty relationship. To say that it was the waitress that did it would be to ignore all of the tensions that had boiled and brewed since the day at Arnold’s house.
“The date.” Rita blushed at his compliment. She had looked exquisite in a tight red backless dress, and he had looked equally charming, sporting a tuxedo that had a James Bond flair to it. They stood out as a magnificent couple, drawing questioning looks from the surrounding tables. The blissfully ignorant muggles could sense an importance to their presence, but attributed it to the assumption that the couple must be celebrities.
“How much do you remember?” Rita realized that, for the moment, Lockhart was conscious that he was remembering a significant event, and conscious that for so long, he had lost this memory.
“Not an awful lot, to be perfectly frank. But enough to remember that I don’t like Ceasar salad. Not one bit. It causes horrible arguments!” So he had remembered everything.
“Flirty waitresses and boyfriends with wandering eyes cause horrible arguments.”
This comment seemed to have been the spark that snapped Gilderoy into a dreamlike state. As if his mind were a tape, he began to play back the memory word for word. And Rita, not wanting to ruin the moment, and knowing the conversation by heart, played along.
“Oh, please, Rita! I was only asking if she could grind me a little pepper! I can ask her to come back to our table right now so that I can clarify it. I’m sure she didn’t think it was an innuendo! You’re just jealous of my success!” This had been their most common argument of late.
“I’ll have you know that your success is no concern of mine! I have success of my own. I’m a talented writer, and my career isn’t even at it’s peak yet.”
“Your success depends on my success.”
“I barely write about you.”
“Oh, really? I seem to remember a certain two or three articles written by a certain someone by the name of Rita Skeeter that provided deep insights into my personal life in the past and present that won several awards in journalism at the Quillies this past spring.”
“Written by my quill.”
“And brought to the light by my name!”
“Your name? You believe that your name in the titles did more than my name as the author? You are just as conceited as every other journalist portrays you to be.”
“Perhaps, but not without reason. Tell me you wouldn’t jump at the chance to add my name to yours. We both know that’s why we’re here.”
“Don’t you dare tell me I’m in this for the name! I love you!”
“Rita Skeeter, infamous destroyer of dreams, capable of love?”
“Unlike you, you worthless, lying, greasy, slime!”
“Such terms of endearment, coming from a beetle.”
“Roy, we’re making a scene!”
“Isn’t that what you’re all about? Marry me, Rita. I’ll give you what you’re after, if you’re so in love.”
“No? No!? So there is no love behind your lies.”
“They weren’t lies, Roy. Every word that comes from my mouth or my quill is far more full of truth than any that has come from yours. Don’t think I can’t see that you don’t love me back.”
“Are you too caught up in your world of pre-conceived drama, too obsessed with uncovering the lives of others, that you’re blind to the truth in your own life when it’s pure? Rita, I love you, too. I don’t know why we’re fighting anymore.”
“But I do. Maybe you could use one of your world-class memory charms to change my mind and force me to forget this whole evening. But, as for now, I do remember why we’re fighting."
"Enlighten me, Rita."
"I’ll always love you, Roy. But you’ll always love yourself. Goodnight.”
And she had left.
And she had regretted it the instant she stepped out of the restaurant.
And she had been too proud to return.
And she had never seen him again.
“But, madam reporter, it’s only afternoon.” She snapped out of her reverie, drowned in the guilt that nostalgia always seemed to bring her.
“You told me “Goodnight,” but it’s only afternoon. I’m not ready for bed! I won’t go to sleep!”
The moment had gone by so quickly that she found herself wishing she had relished it while it lasted.
“You don’t have to go to sleep. It’s all right,” she promised.
“Will you make me some dinner?”
“I’ll try my hardest. An octopus, right? With seven legs?” Rita had surrendered to the present situation.
“You’re a silly woman! For some reason, I’m craving a salad. Could you make me one?”
“It would be my pleasure.”
Rita started to stride out of the ward to find an attendant to make the two of them salads, but she was stopped by Lockhart’s stirring.
She snapped around, her heart thumping to the same rhythm as the Hogwarts Express.
“I always wondered why you weren’t a butterfly.”
Rita returned to his bed and gave him a light peck on the cheek, afraid that he might forget her in an instant.
"But I am. Ever since the day we promised to keep it as our little secret."
Author’s Note: I’d love to hear your thoughts on this piece, as I know that it’s radically different. It’s also what I would consider to be my first true romance, so I’m interested to hear opinions on it and thoughts on my dialogue. (I’ve never had so much of it before!) After writing, I have several mixed feelings. Part of me wants to expand this into a short story or novella. Another part of me wants to keep it as a one-shot, but add an ending I’ve thought of. Let me know if you’d like an update if I add more.
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