Red everywhere – it spilled from her mouth, trickling like a valley stream onto the hard stone floor. It ran from her chest, rivulets spiralling wild dances to a colder place. Her usually vibrantly fiery hair crackled with drying blood, matting into chunks. The bruise on her pale cheek stood out, already changing from harsh red to sickening purple.
This wasn’t happening.
She breathed harshly, forcing her lungs to stay working while she waited.
She was waiting for me.
Below her, lying broken, a tribute to her wounds, was her wand. The once shiny, bright wood had chipped and splintered in the battle, attacking her accidently, causing her pain as she tried to fight off the people who wished her dead.
I’d seen it all, held captive, and now they made me watch her die, laughing at my screams and attempts to break free. Everything felt numb; somehow, the pain of watching her writhe far out stretching even the worst of spells they threw at me.
Everything was quiet to my ears, a distant whisper compared to every noise she made as she slowly gave in.
Her chest heaved, anticipating the moment her ragged breaths stopped tearing through her lips and her heart stopped its unsteady stumbling.
I tried to beg, I tried to make them angry, I tried everything I thought might make them stop.
They just jeered, ashamed to admit they knew it was wrong. That they were wrong. I struggled harder against the arms pinning me down, keeping my sights on my love.
Bright red sparks lit up the house, and the aggressors shifted, unnerved. They were only told to find me and keep me. No one told them a backup plan for a second wave of fighters.
I heard the roars of betrayed thousands. How could a small band of men do so much? How could they reinstate the horror of the past?
It was my fault. All my fault. I couldn’t save her. She was going to die and it was all my fault. I could barely love her without the problems our society posed, how was I to know how to save a damned girl? She sold her soul to me without even knowing, and paid the price when ghosts of a sickening past surfaced within my family, ripping holes in what was previously a well respected facade.
And here was the greatest hole, the ultimate path of destruction. Leading the former Death Eaters against your own grandson, against everything his life stood for.
The realisation I loved her stung them more than anything. A Pureblood and a filthy blood traitor. I was really the filthy one – agreeing with grandfather when I knew he was just being one of the lowest kinds on this planet, a filthy racist.
My own grandfather led an attack on me.
The bitterest taste reached my mouth, turning sour when I saw him. He watched Rose convulse with a look of sick satisfaction on his face, basking in the glory of her demise.
Footsteps pounded up the stairs, rushing towards us.
My grandfather walked decisively to Rose’s side, forcing her mouth open and pouring a small vial of pale, opalescent liquid into her mouth. Then with a turn and a snap, Lucius left, leaving his hired cronies to tidy up. They panicked, dropping me and running around blindly, trying to find the wands they’d foolishly thrown down.
I started to edge closer to Rose as she spluttered, choking on the poison she’d been fed and the blood filling her lungs. One of the masked torturers picked up his wand and shot a curse at me wildly, shattering the glass lamp. It exploded over Rose, and she screamed in earnest, not caring anymore about making noise.
The footsteps got closer to us, stampeding through the endless corridors. I wanted to cry out, to let them know where we were, but my jaw had locked and I could barely manage a noise, let alone one that would have any effect.
The attackers were disappearing into thin air, leaving only me and Rose in the room.
As quickly as I could manage, I crawled over to her, dragging myself across the floor and cutting a trail in the dust.
Nearing her, I reached out and touched her face. She turned her head and rested her bloody cheek in my hand, opening her eyes and smiling at me.
I didn’t deserve that smile. I deserved to be where she was, lying on the cold marble dying, instead of merely having scrapes and bruises.
She spat out blood that gathered in her mouth, turning her head so she didn’t get me and wiping her mouth on the back of her hand.
I drew my wand from my pocket, and began healing her wounds. The cuts that dissected her face and neck puckered under the magic, forming rough scars.
It was ruining her. I ruined her.
Her breathing hitched as I stroked her hair, feeling the bumps left by the times they threw her across the room because she had pride.
The rip in her jeans fixed itself as the gaping wound beneath it bubbled, growing new skin to replace the cells scraped off her thighs by a curse aimed at her stomach.
Her lungs protested feebly as I aimed the wand at them, and she clutched at her chest, breathing fast and shallow. A quiet rattling noise permeated her every breath, and as she moved slightly she winced. She hated to show pain.
None the less, tears were streaking down her face. They made rough tracks across the smudges of blood, and stung where they touched the burn that rushed up her jaw. I could tell, she gritted her teeth as not to sob.
The footsteps were now much closer, almost by us.
Rose’s hand found mine, and she gripped it hard, pulling me closer to her. I lay down fully, holding her close.
I kissed her forehead, and she closed her eyes, content. Her breathing slowed and I could feel her heartbeat thumping in a sedate way. She sighed, and fell still. I held her closer, refusing to let her go.
By the next day, there was nothing left. No screams. No tears. No more waking up with my arms wrapped around her waist.
I’d never tell her I loved her again. I worked so hard to keep her, and she was snatched from my grasp.
What was there left?
I walked slowly through the night, bearing the chill. I could push it off – just for her. A low wind whistled through the trees, disturbing the silence that had descended to smother my life since she left it.
Down a narrow path trodden into the woods, a small gate blocked the entrance to the most important place I’d ever known.
The shining marble of her gravestone stood out brighter than I remembered, like her blood my hands.
Kneeling down, I kissed her name. It was the closest I got to her, now.
Falling back, I placed a single crimson rose on the earth below her name.
“I’m sorry, Rose, so, so sorry,” I breathed. I doubt she even heard me.