Chapter 1 : stardust
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They always said he was a sucker for playing the hero.
Dinner was burning away on the stove, and he leaned against the wall with his eyes shut. His cigarette hung limp in his fingers and his stereo was blaring away. The city below him was buzzing; cars honked, people yapped away on their cell phones – but he was used to the noise. He longed for the noise. Silence bothered him like nothing else.
Above the noise, he heard his window open and close. Automatically, his eyes opened and he took a drag from the cigarette. Should he have been alarmed that a woman was climbing through his window from the fire escape? Probably.
The woman held a single finger to her lips, her eyes darting around his small apartment. By her feet, lay a large black bag. He tried to avert his eyes from the wand that lingered in her hands.
He didn't cross the room, but remained against the wall, watching her.
Her skin was pale, almost sickly, and it seemed like her eyes were too big for her face. They were a soft violet color, framed by wisps of blonde hair. She was cloaked in black and he vaguely noticed the earsplitting cries of sirens in the background.
She dropped the wand and crossed the room in three long steps. Soon, a spotlight was being moved along the fire escape. She wrapped her arms around his neck, turned to give the window a final look before pushing her lips onto his.
Her sultry perfume mingled with the scent of tobacco. It was oddly intoxicating and for a moment, he felt lightheaded. All the noise seemed to be drowned out; there was silence – terrifying, hated silence. The cigarette dropped from his fingers in shock.
Men dressed in black-robes flooded the fire escape. Lights were flashing and people were yelling and all he could focus on was her lips being molded onto his.
At first, it had been a soft kiss that slowly turned passionate. Her long fingers wound themselves in his dark hair; her body was pressed against his. He had a vague recollection of his dinner burning on the stove.
He moved away from her, swiftly removing the pan from the burner and groaned. He dumped what was left of the edible food into the sink.
The woman was still standing there. Her eyes searched his face for any signs of deceit and when she found none, she moved to wrap her arms around his body, leaning her face into his back.
"Help me." She whispered. "Won't you help me?"
Her name had been flowery; something that didn't seem to suit her. After her charade into his apartment, it seemed as though she'd never leave.
"I don't have any other place to go," she would tell him when he asked her when she was leaving. A smile would play around her lips as she leaned against the counter, her eyes shining. "Won't you help me?"
It seemed that 'no' was not a word in his vocabulary.
Every morning, he was greeted with a kiss on the cheek as she nestled her golden head in the space between his neck and shoulder. Her long hair would try to suffocate him as he pried himself from bed. She would remain wrapped in the sheets, watching him with curious eyes.
It formed a pattern – they became more than just roommates. His friends found it odd that he'd pursue a relationship with this kind of a girl – a girl that, to be honest, he knew nothing about. They wondered why he'd accept this sort of person so willingly – a girl who had crawled through his window and had somehow wormed her way into his heart.
A few weeks turned into a couple months; a couple months turned into four, five years.
She was so much like him. She played her music loudly, often drowning out the competing sounds of the city. When she was angry, she would scream and shout and break things. When she was sad, she sobbed loudly and threw tantrums.
She was a girl who got whatever she wanted, with whatever means necessary.
He'd return home, drop his keys onto the dining table and see her lounging about on his couch. Her hair would cover the majority of the pillows, shielding her turned face from his gaze. He'd notice a new painting on the wall; a new rug in the bedroom.
And he'd never ask her where she had gotten these things.
At times, she was gone for long periods of time. He'd wait up for her, his eyes drooping shut as the clock chimed; three chimes, four chimes, five chimes – she still wasn't home.
When he'd come home in a few days, she'd be there again. She'd greet him with a kiss, her arms snaking around his body in a tight embrace. He'd try not to notice the new enchanted chandelier hanging above the living room, or the Van Gogh painting that was hanging above the toilet in the bathroom.
One night, after she had returned from wherever she would disappear to, they were laying in bed. He stared out the window and with a single hand, pointed out a brilliant star.
"I want it." She cried out, suddenly, clambering out of bed to press her cheek against the cool window pane. "I want it. Get it for me."
And he had calmly explained to her that such a feat was impossible.
She looked so ridiculous, standing there in one of his old shirts with her hair hanging past her knees and her brow furrowed in annoyance that he smiled.
"I really want that star," she whined. "It's so beautiful."
He agreed. The star was beautiful, but he wasn't talking about the one hanging in the sky. The girl shone with a light that rival that of the star.
"Can't you reach up into the sky and pluck it out from its web?" She returned to the bed, her long legs folding under her as she clutched his hands in her own. "Can't you string it onto a necklace and give it to me?" She was so innocent, her words so strange that he couldn't help but chuckle.
The pattern changed quicker than he had anticipated. She was gone for longer and longer periods of time. Sometimes, she'd return home with a bandaged arm or a broken finger. There was a new bed, golden tapestries that hung from the ceiling and a Monet hanging in the living room.
A Persian rug sat in front of his ancient fireplace; it looked quite out of place with his outdated and shabby looking furniture.
But, she remained the same. She was quick to smile and quick to throw a tantrum. He'd return home to see her throwing her perfume bottle at the wall; the scent would quickly fill the apartment. There were times that she would grow angry or frustrated with him – he was too apathetic; he didn't love her; he never paid her enough attention – and would destroy one of the rooms in her fury.
And he'd sit there, watching her storm about, shouting and throwing things. He'd wrap his arms around her, assure her of his love and she'd stop screaming. She'd focus her large eyes on his face and scan it for lies and when she found none, she'd kiss him.
At first, he had been surprised at her shouting about love. Was this love? Or was this not just a random relationship that had spawned from spontaneity? She had grown to be a part of his life and he liked her being there. When she smiled, or when she threw one of her tantrums, his heart would flutter or his stomach would do flip-flops; he had never met a girl like this.
She called him her hero, crooning on about how he had saved her that one night and how he had given her a place to call home – had given her someone to love.
He liked it when she called him her hero. He liked being the hero. He liked the way her perfume and his cigarette smoke intertwined around the apartment – it was a peculiar smell, something that he had grown accustomed to. It was inviting and she called it romantic.
He went to bed with his hand clutching hers, her body pressed against his in slumber.
And when she was gone, he felt alone and he rejoiced in her return. She'd smile at him, as though nothing had happened.
But, he knew. He didn't want to admit that he knew, but he did. This girl, she was a thief. Every morning, he'd open the newspaper and read an article about how a painting was stolen from whatever museum it was at. He'd flip the page and see an image of the painting – it'd be the same painting that was currently hanging above his toilet.
Whatever she wanted, she got and he couldn't say no. He couldn't bring it up with her, or ask her to stop. He couldn't complain or whine, the way she did. He couldn't even muster up annoyance and turn that into blinding anger.
He loved her too much. As much as his friends complained about her sketchy behavior and the appearance of random objects – he couldn't do it.
She loved these material items. She loved the Van Gogh, and the Monet and the crystal chandelier. She loved the Egyptian cotton sheets and the tapestries with real gold woven into them. And whatever she loved, he loved too.
But one afternoon, he had come home early to find that she wasn't there. There was a knock at the door and a burly looking man asked if he could come in. His dark eyes scanned the room, taking in the chandelier and the painting.
He asked how long they have had the Monet.
"For years," was the reply, "we found it in an old flea market. You know how duplicates are everywhere."
The lies slipped from his mouth so easily and the detective just raised an eyebrow and scribbled down something on the pad of paper.
He asked if the Persian rug had cost much.
"Too much, if you ask me, for such a cheap knock-off; my girl really loves these things, so she's always picking them up when she comes home from work."
The lies grew more and more complex – the Van Gogh was his grandfather's work; he had painted it over a family portrait, which deemed it practically worthless. The sheets were taken from a hotel and he really apologized for even accidentally taking them. The tapestry was a dime a dozen at the nearest store.
The man soon excused himself and left the apartment.
A few hours later, the girl returned. She was crying and she threw her arms around him. She sobbed on and on and on until she hiccupped her apologies.
"You're my hero," she cried out, clutching the end of her shirt in worry. "You're my absolute hero."
And he was too wrapped up in her compliments to question her about her whereabouts, or to ask her about the objects that had somehow found their way into his – no, their – home.
"I love you." She insisted, her lips finding his in a rush of sudden passion. "I love you – that stupid man, he doesn't know what he's looking for. He doesn't know what he's saying."
Even though he loved her, a part of him knew that eventually, the truth would emerge. Eventually, she'd have to pay for what she had done.
But for now, he didn't care. He would have given his life for her – this girl, this stray that had wandered into his home by mistake.
That night, the star came out again and he pointed it out to the girl. She cuddled against him, her cheek cool against his chest.
"Do you still want it?" he asked her, a smile forming on his lips.
"Yes," she replied, "I really want it. You'll get it for me, won't you? You'll be absolutely lovely and get it for me."
"Sure." And they had fallen asleep like that – him, holding her in his arms, her perfume overtaking any other smells as the night worn on and became morning.
She had been acting strangely. The periods of absence stretched into an entire month before she returned. The detective had been back too, with more questions about the girl and her past.
"He didn't ask very much, did he?" her hands wrung themselves worriedly on the end of her shirt as she leaned against the counter. He was making dinner and he assured her that everything would be fine. "But, what if it isn't?" she questioned cryptically. "What if nothing is fine? What if everything changes?"
Again, he reassured her that he'd protect her. He reassured her that he'd be her hero and he'd keep her safe.
She glanced hesitantly at him before shielding that expression with a smile.
"I know you will."
A week past and he had saved enough of his salary to purchase a lovely necklace. The pendent had a sparkling diamond; it resembled the star that she had wanted so much. He was going to surprise her. He was going to come home early, whip it out of his pocket and she'd squeal and smile and everything was going to be lovely.
The door opened and he was struck by the absence of a scent. He stepped into the empty apartment and the jewelry box in his hand fell and clattered to the floor.
The apartment was bare. There was nothing left in it, save for his old coffee table and a few dining chairs. The Monet was gone and so was the Van Gogh and everything else she had brought with her.
He couldn't help but feel as though his heart had been pulled from his chest and stomped on. Tears rushed to his eyes before he could control them and he fell onto his knees.
There was a crumpled note, enchanted to hang from the ceiling above his head. He reached up and with limp fingers, unfurled the parchment.
I couldn't help myself, she had written with a quivering hand.
She had come into his life so abruptly – an alley cat crawling through his window – and she had left with equal abruptness.
He knelt there for what felt like eternity, until there was a knock on the door. He hoped it was her. He hoped that this had been all a big misunderstanding and she'd return to him; he hoped that she'd rush into his arms and everything would be normal again.
Two men in black cloaks walked into the room when he opened the door. They held out wands, and looked at each other.
"You, Muggle, have been exposed to unlawful uses of Magic and therefore, your memory is to be erased. You will not remember us, nor will you remember anything that has happened previously." The one on the right held out the wand and pressed it to his temple.
Whiteness. Blinding, painful whiteness.
He blinked his eyes, managed to open one. He was in a bedroom with dark blue walls and smooth wooden floors. He vaguely recognized it as his own. The sun was up, and he realized that he was late for work. He clambered out of bed, dressed and flew out the door.
He waited for the bus, yawned and looked across the street.
A girl was watching him. She had eyes that were too big for her face and long blonde hair that fell past her knees. She was wearing a necklace with a single, shining pendent that shone brightly in the sunlight.
She looked vaguely familiar.
The bus stopped in front of him and he climbed aboard.
He looked back at her, but the woman was no longer there. He blinked a few times and rubbed his eyes. Maybe his eyes were playing tricks on him.
Authors Note: Just uh, a really random one-shot. I wrote it for JaneTwilight's The Unhealthy Relationships Challenge. I really hope it makes sense. I probably need to go fix a few things! I hope you liked it, nonetheless.
Please stop by and leave reviews. ♥
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