And thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth. — Pablo Neruda
It was actually Hestia’s fault that Ryan and her sister met.
Hera had been working to be an Auror as a second year intern back then. She had always been brilliant at Defense so it hadn’t been a big surprise that after completing Auror training, Hera had landed one of the three Auror internships the Ministry offered every two years. It was a huge accomplishment, something that was rare and celebrated and that meant something.
Only Hera never saw it that way. Whenever they had talked about work, she had always said brightly, “It’s going really well, of course, but it’s really just a stopgap.”
“A stopgap,” Hestia had replied, incredulous. Her sister had used being an Auror as a stopgap. Sometimes Hestia still couldn’t wrap her mind around it.
“You know, until I meet Him.”
Then Hestia had always laughed at how obtuse her sister was being.
“You may well laugh, Hestia. But I’m sure it’ll happen sometime soon!” After she said that Hera had always sighed in a self-satisfied way that Hestia could never understand while looking off into the distance, toward some future Hestia could never see. “Yes. Once I get married, everything will fall into place.”
And Hestia had always thought it was such a waste. A waste of talent, of a good brain, a waste of time and money. It was such a waste of her sister to throw herself away on some man when she could do so much better for herself and for the Wizarding world.
A year had passed since Hestia had started working at the Department of Mysteries and she was comfortably established there with her research on protection magic. The department was a strange one, with everyone pretty much keeping to themselves and their research, but that was what Hestia found she liked most about it. She and Ryan had fit together very easily. They were natural partners and sometimes Ryan would look at her in this way and her spine would tingle and Hestia would think that maybe, just maybe…
That was the first time she had ever felt almost perfectly content and Hestia thought she really should have known that it all would stop eventually, somehow.
The two sisters had been on their way back from getting lunch one day from Dei Panini’s, the best sandwich place around, when Hera had said in a low voice, “Oh wow, he’s cute. Hestia, look.”
Hestia hadn’t found this unusual at all. Hera spent most of her time outside of work looking for Him. She had also decided years ago that He was going to be very handsome, so actually this kind of thing happened a lot. Hestia had never really been one to ‘man-hunt’ as a hobby and she tended to ignore Hera when she got like this. Men had never been her strong suit.
“Bloody hell. He’s really cute. Come on, you’ve got to see this guy. Oh my God. He’s walking over here. Does my hair look alright?”
Hestia had frowned slightly. That was strange. While she wasn’t exactly vain, Hera had always known she was completely beautiful and never needed to be told how good she looked. This man had to have been practically god-like to make her ask. Hestia had given in and looked over, and seen that it was Ryan walking towards them. He had waved at her.
“He’s waving,” Hera had whispered almost frantically as he came closer. “Why is he waving at us?”
“Because I know him. That’s Ryan, my partner from work.”
“Your partner? You never told me he looked like that, Hestia. You have to introduce me.”
Hestia had sighed.
“Oh come on. Please?”
She looked at her sister’s pleading face and relented. Turning back at Ryan, she saw him flash a bright smile at Hera, probably taking in her pretty heart-shaped face, before saying, “Alright there, Hestia?”
While she had introduced them, Hestia imagined Ryan seeing the two of them together for the first time and noticing how different they were. Even though Hera was older, Hestia was several inches taller and gangly, almost like a teenager and her dark hair had always hung a little limply past her shoulders no matter what she had tried to do with it. Hera’s hair was a shiny caramel color and her smiles always reached her eyes.
Hestia had watched them talk and decided that it all made sense. Hera was exactly the kind of girl Ryan should be with. Men like him needed stunningly beautiful women with bubbly personalities, who owned cookbooks and a feminine wardrobe.
They needed Susie Homemaker, not Eugenia Bookworm.
Besides, the Eugenias of the world were always perfectly happy being married to the library. They never needed anyone else to be content.
Hestia had pushed the idea of slipping into a cold bed with only a book for company away, surprised by the hollow feeling that had settled somewhere over her ribcage. Being alone had never bothered her before now.
Somewhere in the back of her mind, she realized that was a lie she had been telling herself for years. Secretly, she had always had an idea in her mind, this image of her future, and there had always been someone else in the picture.
But Hestia watched Ryan casually ask her sister out to dinner, Hera’s eyes shining and Ryan’s lips spread wide into a smile and felt the inevitability of things settle around them in a sparkling cloud. A tiny part of her soul collapsed in on itself like an old crumbling building. There was a sort of destined quality to that moment and it made her insides ache with loneliness.
Then, carefully, quietly, Hestia folded up the picture she had made of her and Ryan together, happy and whole, into a tiny piece of emotional origami and shoved it as far back into her heart as it would go.
That picture was for Hera. She was the one who had always wanted it, Hestia told herself. It wasn’t for her.
A/N: And so Hestia's troubles begin. What do you guys think? Are Ryan and Hera more suited for each other than Hestia and Ryan?
Thanks to my loverly beta, Rachel (PeguinsWillReinSupreme) and to Miranda (FannyPrice) and Jakes (George Whitman) for putting up with my SUPANGST.
Disclaimer: The Potterverse is the property of the wonderful J. K. Rowling. I own nothing you recognize.
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