Chapter 1 : Prologue
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17th May 2020: Molly
I never wanted this. When I followed him into this life, I didn't think it would be this way. He promised me things wouldn't change. He'd taken my hand in his, he'd kissed me and pulled me close and told me that he would always be there with me, every step of the way. He said he could support us. How did I not see it? How did he blind me into thinking this was ever going to work?
As all those thoughts flew around my head, making it twirl and spin, a strange laughter overcame me. His laughter. Distorted and echoing around my mind, curling its way into my blood, clawing at every inch of me. A scream bubbled in my throat. It pressed against the back of my tongue, hot and painful. Covering my mouth with a shaking hand, I coughed it away as quietly as I could. I had to do this swiftly. I only had minutes, maybe even seconds. I flicked my wand at the wardrobe but it was shaking in my hand. The clothes ripped away with such force that the hangers rattled together, cacophonic. I cringed, casting a panicked glance to the door. It was ajar so I could hear him coming. Nothing. I exhaled quietly, shoving the clothes into my open suitcase and zipping it shut. So close. I cast a charm on the case to lighten it and shrunk it down to half its size. The drop from the first floor was small – it was an old cottage, he had to bend down to move about. I would land in the back garden, on the patio. I could sneak to the side of the house and creep through the hedge to get out. Then I'd be on open road and I could find the nearest pub and call for a taxi to take me home. Money would be no object.
I crossed the room delicately, taking time not to step on the creaking floorboards beneath the plush carpet. My toes clenched as a clink from downstairs swam up towards me, then a low hum – he was cooking. I'd be safe. I slipped the pair of battered old trainers onto my feet, cold with my anxiety, and made my way gently to the window. I shoved the handle up and pushed it, looking down worriedly. It looked bigger now, the fall. There was no time to think of it. I levitated the suitcase from the window, not even concerning myself with any Muggles that might have been around in the fields behind the house, and released a breath as it landed quietly on the ground.
I think I half expected what happened next. Sod's law, perhaps? Or had my breath of relief come out as a squeal? I wasn't sure. I wasn’t sure of anything anymore. The only thing I knew was that he was behind me, so I inhaled, glanced to the sky and turned, face to face with him.
"I didn't think you'd really go," he said, his face unreadable. "I watched you packing up but I didn't think you were…I…" I didn't query how he'd seen me. His magic was advanced enough for him to have conjured a distraction downstairs.
"I can't stay. I can't."
"Why not?" He asked the question whilst knowing the answer. He stepped towards me. I covered the flinch well. "Hey." He was a foot away now and reached out to touch my cheek. I let him, moving towards him. "I…if you want to go, go. You just have to promise me that you won't tell them where I am. That's all I ask."
I glanced up at him, at his dark brown hair falling into his eyes, which glinted in the dying sunlight and felt my heart pressing into my rib cage, dying to jump out and give itself to him fully. I cautiously lifted a hand to press to my chest, looking back to the floor. My fingers darted up and down the chain of my necklace, the base of my palm digging into my chest to silence the unbearable thudding of my heart against my body.
"Or you could stay. It'll be better. I promise. I'll make it better."
He sounded lost. At a loss. Is there even a difference between them? I closed my eyes. Looking at him would only make it harder. I took a sharp breath and it chimed through the empty room. How could I make this decision? It wasn't a matter of one being more important than the other. It was a matter of happiness. The only problem with that was deciding who was going to be happy in the end. Who was I going to please? I opened my eyes and looked back up to him. He'd stepped a few paces back, stood in the centre of the room, just looking at me.
"What's it going to be?"