Chapter 1 : The Wind Changed
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The sound of the rain on the window panes pleased him. Flaring his nostrils slightly, he sniffed the air, the smell of wet mud cloying to his senses. A grimace stained his lips, successfully disguising the smile that was forbidden to surface.
He rarely offered me a smile. Such a thing would have broken the façade he had carefully crafted; something painstakingly polished throughout a lifetime. The caretaker did not value emotions nearly as much as his pride. Hopelessly English, the only place I could enter were his eyes. I often wondered what is was those eyes had seen that plagued him, what it was that he hid from the world. Perhaps I was one of the few who bothered to find out.
Oh, don’t get me wrong; I was unsuccessful. He was not such a man that I could ply with drink and asking him to share his thoughts was treason. How are you tonight, Argus was too probing, yet saying good evening seemed too impersonal. Possibly eye-contact and a smile every night was indecent, but I was not one to ignore a customer. Years of the same job rendered me bored, the same greedy glance worn into my aging body; a stubborn routine firing my need for change.
Argus epitomised the exact opposite of what I yearned for; man had remained constant throughout his life and I was not the one to change that. Two wars left him unchanged; who was I to interfere? Refreshingly, he neither liked me nor desired me. I needed the indifference, it was enjoyable to have no effect on someone; I could be me without worrying about the consequences. Our relationship involved the daily exchange of sickles for butterbeer and in that way, he perhaps found out more about me than any of my regulars ever had. Boyfriends had come and gone without me letting my guard down. My attempts to unravel him rebounded upon me.
Maybe to him I was just the barmaid, kindly letting him and the rain inside. As my palm flared against the rough wood of the door, our eyes met. For a second, I saw more than the grimace on his face, more than anyone had dared to see before.
How are you tonight, Argus?
What was it about the rain that captured his smile? Locked away in his eyes, trapped in a war-beaten heart. A pause on the threshold and I saw the smile trace his lips. Was it the weather, a mundane subject even amongst the Argus Filches of the world, or had something changed about him? Narrowing my eyes, I considered that the only thing different about him was my perspective.
Rain drizzled his hair and crooked nose. Perhaps he was pleased to see me, perhaps it didn’t matter; perhaps had he not let his smile escape I wouldn’t have grazed his cheek with my lips and welcomed him inside. His expression barely changed, though I expected it was nice to feel welcome for once.
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