Chapter 1 : Embrace
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The teachers at my old school, my muggle school, would have never let anyone toss food around like they were. Even though they were boys, with their typical appetites and immaturity, I thought theyíd still be nervous for the first day of classes. I know I was. I hummed to myself, not taking my eyes off the fight. The only blond chucked a block of cheese halfheartedly, but it found a mark. He grinned, and ducked as the target threw some back. It hit a passing Slytherin. Iím sure you can figure out that the next minute, the food fight was quickly progressing into much more than a little fun, and more into chaos. A biscuit flew onto my cheek, and I turned and glared; it had hurt. I saw the person who was responsible, but heíd already turned his back on me. No apology? How rude. I later learnt that his name was Fred.
I first learnt about it in my first year. It had passed by in a blur. There was so much to learn, so many things to wonder about. Iíd concentrated on my studies all year around, and each time I did some magic, it still astounded me. It still seemed like a dream, an unbelievable wish made true. To think that one day, I could fix anything that got broken, that Iíd be able to apparate from one place to anotherÖ it amazed me. I absorbed everything in, and paid little attention to my classmates. I could fit in with my roommates, and they welcomed me, and though I felt perfectly comfortable with them, I could accept that they werenít really my friends.
They were nice though. They offered to include me in everything, and I declined them often, simply because I preferred to start the essays earlier, and to do some extra reading of the fascinating books in the library. Finding out I was a witch had opened another world for me. Another world of possibilities. And I wanted to find out everything about it. My roommates let me in on their chats frequently, and one day, they told me that Fred had a crush on me. I was surprised, flattered, and awfully curious. I later learnt that my friends had misheard the information.
I first saw him for something different in my second year. Iíd never paid special attention to anybody. But he caught my eye. I never paid special attention to anybody, but I still knew everyoneís names, and I knew the type of people they were. He was part of the type that I called lucky. He had a wonderful family, so many relatives that looked up to him, and a few that he could look up to. He had a big circle of friends, that included not only his roommates, but others in our year who werenít in our house, and he had acquaintances with all sorts of people in years above and below. He didnít have to study too hard to succeed; it wasnít hard for him to master the spells and write the essays. He had the skill out in the air too. He was a quidditch player, and a good one too. He had a lot I didnít have. Probably the only thing I had was a loving family, albeit a small one, and the ability to finish schoolwork easily. I only studied so much because I loved to. The magical world was still so vast to me, and I loved learning. I threw myself into study because I enjoyed it.
And I know what he enjoyed. He enjoyed everything. Fred enjoyed life. And I saw the smile on his face when he was in the air. I saw him on his broom. I saw a first year alongside him, and I saw him patiently teaching the boy his moves. Teaching him how to throw the quaffle properly, and how to catch it too. Teaching him tactics. I watched this all through my window. Iíd taken to sometimes glancing into the clouds while I was reading a book, or when I was thinking. It had been a surprise to see him helping someone so willingly, even if I was pretty sure he was the type that didnít offer help, but would help if others asked for it. I later learnt that he had offered to help.
I first liked him in my third year. The like that comes with wanting to be more than just a classmate. Or just a friend, a stage I wasnít even up to. I was confused, but I knew I did. He seemed to do everything right. His character appeared everywhere in books. They were popular, but they always did something bad or wrong. He was good. He was more popular than the children of Harry Potter. But James and Albus had no hard feelings, and seemed to embrace it. They and Fred were good friends, and nobody disliked him. By now, Iíve read all about the Final Battle, but I find it surprising that even the Slytherins did not dislike him. The rivalry of Slytherin with the other houses had lessened and dwindled down through the twenty years or so.
Regardless, he was simply interesting. I didn't do anything different, but he occupied my thoughts a lot more. His brown hair was flopped onto his head, but it suited him. The brown eyes, his charming qualitiesÖ I couldnít quite explain what it was, but he was genuinely a good person. I had yet to find a flaw, though perhaps it could have been that he never sought anyone. He never noticed the ones that didnít come up to him. He didnít ever come up and talk to me. Rather, he waited for the acquaintances to talk to him. He was perfectly polite and conversational, just never too social. In class, I couldnít help glancing over more than I used to, but I doubt anybody saw, and each time it was the same. I later learnt that he had noticed me, but felt no need to talk to me.
I first changed in my fourth year. The books still held interest, but the urge to read them was falling short. Each time I lost a little less interest, and soon, I felt like doing something different. I stopped reading so many books. I showed more interest into my roommates, and I loved that I could bond with them so easily. We all studied together, and hung out a lot more. It was a lovely feeling to help others with the work that I found so easy. It was lovely to be able to express myself in ways other than writing.
I talked more. I spoke aloud my opinions. In class, I asked more questions. I answered more questions. I used to be quite a shy and quiet person, but ready to switch personalities at a notice when it was needed. I spent more time out of my shell, and I surprised myself by liking it. I changed myself in more ways than that. I got my hair cut, and I tried experimenting with not wearing jeans. I grew up. Emotionally. I later learnt the growth had been physical too.
I first started imagining in my fifth year. Iím the type of person that never focuses on the past or the future, instead, I focus simply on the present. But for once, I started thinking about what my life meant. What I wanted to do, what I should do, what I could do. There were so many options, so many roads to take. Some roads would lead me to disaster, and others would lead me to success. The decisions were already dangling in front of me, but I still had a few years until I had to make the choice.
Iíve never been much of a creative person. I was decidedly bad at art at muggle school, and my fiction writing in English had never been something I was proud of. But I started imagining a life with someone else. Who would it be? I knew one person I wanted right now, but I could live without him, even though I was curious to know what it would be like. I imagined us talking together. Would we understand each other, like they always do in stories? I could picture it, but I didnít know if it would ever come true. I hoped that if it did, weíd talk about things like this. Iíd talk about this. Iíd talk about the biscuit in the first year, what Iíd heard in the second year. Heíd tell me he was sorry for the biscuit, and that my friends hadnít misheard that heíd liked me. I later learnt my scenario would come true.
I first dated him in my sixth year. He started talking to me in class, surprising me along the way, and I responded. We talked more, started talking outside the classroom. Talked in the corridors, in the common room. And one day, we were talking at Hogsmeade, just us two, and alone. Nobody had been surprised, apparently it had been obvious to everyone except for our oblivious selves. I almost found that comical, but I was really just glad to be given this chance.
We connected. Thereís no other way to explain it. He seemed to know what I was thinking, and we finished each otherís sentences like weíd known each other forever. He was a perfect gentleman, and he treated me like I was perfect. I was happy. He made me happy. I hope I made him happy too. I later learnt that I did.
I first loved him in my seventh year. The study for the tests at the end of the year was occupying us, but strangely, we worked better together. Everyone was filled with stress and worry, but we all got through it okay. I find it hard to remember everything we worked so hard to memorise. I know the spells, but some donít come much into use these days, and I am glad and grateful. I can only imagine how people lived in the past, surrounded by fear.
We learnt even more about each other. We had to study, but we talked about each other too. We still went around with our friends, but we were closer together. We talked about our favourite colours, our favourite memories, our favourite subjects, our favourite animals. My favourite colour was green, the colour of earth. My favourite memory was the time when Fred was in the quidditch fields, happy and helping. My favourite subject was Charms, and my favourite animal was the unicorn. Fredís favourite colour was red, him being a spirited Gryffindor, his favourite memory was the food fight on the first day of class; he did remember hitting me, but he said someone else had hit him and he'd had to retaliate. He apologised for the biscuit though, and we laughed and I forgave him easily. His favourite subject was Quidditch, though I constantly told him it wasnít a subject. He was too embarrassed to tell me his favourite animal. But our guessing game was fun, and I was never close. I later learnt his favourite animal were chickens, and even after I found out it was because they reminded him of his childhood at his grandparent's Burrow, it was still funny and I teased him for it.
I first moved in with him three years after we left Hogwarts. Weíd both been busy, and though we didnít see each other as much as weíd had during Hogwarts, we both still loved each other. Our jobs occupied us too. He spent most of his time in one place, and I in another. It was hard to keep it working, but now that I look back on us, it was easy. I have lost touch with so many of my friends. My muggle friends. I was young then, but I remember. And I had still been friends with them, and gone out with them in the holidays, but after the seventh year, it was a blur. I had to find myself a job, and I did find one. Then, it was only right to find a new place too, I was over-age and it was time for me to really start living my own life.
His place, our place, is lovely. Itís bigger than mine, and situated on a silent road. At night, the stars shine brightly, and in the morning, the sun rises through our windows first. Every day was similar, yet it brought new things, and new experiences. We had the usual arguments, but they were always brushed aside by logic, compromises, and solutions. I later learnt heíd let me win most of the arguments, because thatís the type of person that Fred was; not lucky anymore, but loving.
I first got engaged to him on our fifth anniversary. I hadnít expected it, because I had never wondered what would happen next in our relationship. It was something I simply didnít ponder over. I enjoyed every moment as it came, and I still felt young enough not to have to worry about the future. I loved him, and I would embrace spending the rest of my life with him. He had done it the proper, traditional way. On the knee, and a lovely ring. It was beautiful. I didnít know how much he had spent on it, but it didnít matter. He had spent it on me. I wondered if heíd had his mother, or his cousins help him. He probably had.
It had been in a restaurant. He was a good actor, or at the very least, good at covering up his feelings. He wasnít nervous, or I certainly didnít spot it. It seemed to me like just another dinner date. The restaurant was one we had been to a few times. It became my favourite restaurant since then, and the waiters recognised us every time we ate there. It was after the dessert. We usually splurged on these dinners together, and I still remember faintly how good the slice of cake had been. After weíd both finished, I was about to stand up. He held my hand and stood up himself. He knelt down and faced me. He proposed. I later learnt he had spent months deciding how to do it.
I first married him thirteen years after I first saw him. Itís a good thing I'm not superstitious. A drastic person would have thought our relationship was doomed for disaster. It wasnít though, so there was nothing to worry about. The wedding had been everything Iíd hoped for. The memory of it makes me smile. And that reminds me about the joy of being happy. Of seeing someone else open their lips and laugh. Seeing the glee light up on their face. Seeing eyes sparkle and rosy cheeks.
I didnít want a big event, and it wasnít. But there were still a lot of people there. Fredís whole family had turned out for the event. His many cousins, his parents, his grandparents. My one cousin, my parents, my grandparents. Weíre united now. So I suppose it's now our cousins, our parents, our grandparents. His friends, my friends, our friends. The day we got married, thirteen became my new favourite number. It marked two events. The first day I saw him, and the thirteen years later that I married him. I later learnt that Fredís favourite number had always been thirteen.
I first had a baby when it felt right. The time was never decided upon. Yet it wasnít a spur of the moment. One day, it simply felt like time. And we didnít hesitate. I couldnít wait for when Iíd have a child. I was slightly frightened by giving birth. It was supposed to be a painful process, but one that was ultimately rewarding.
I don't know what I expected, but I struggled through it, and came out triumphant. It's a messy memory, and I donít dwell on it too long, only focusing on the happy ending. It was a girl. And we named her Holly, because she was almost holy. She was our daughter, and I knew I wanted to take care of her for the rest of my life. She seemed so small, so fragile. But as time flew past, so did she; she grew. At times, I can remember her playing in her cot with the soft toys, and I waited for her to grow up enough to join school, for her to have some friends to play with. I later learnt that she would not be alone for that much longer; she would soon dote on a younger sister.
I first felt alone many years later. I could accept it, but it was hard. To think there was no one there to hold me when I needed, or no one there to console me when I had questions. I had my children, and my grandchildren, and they were a comfort. But they were not Fred. They were good though. They gave me gifts, they talked to me, they did everything right. But they all had each other, and they had me, and I had them, but I did not have Fred. I was still warmed though; I was not cold from being alone. The fires were still lit and the lights were still on. The woolly socks he wore still hung on the washing line, and no matter the weather, I let them sway there. I had taken to wearing socks in winter. It was a nice way to remember.
You would think life would go on slowly then. Plodding along everyday, just waiting for the end. But I was a stoic person, I had always been. The time felt endless, but it felt right. Each day brought me one step closer to him. I donít want to sound like I was waiting it out, resigned to my fate and simply willing to watch it happen. Because I wasnít like that. I knew that such was the way of life. And I knew that I could do nothing to change it. Life could not be changed. I also knew that someday, I would not be able to finish this story. There would be no one left to write it down. I later learnt that the story would continue, but not on paper. It would continue to live on in the hearts of our family, and in the thoughts of our friends.
Itís true that everyday you learn something. Today, right now, I can finally tell that my time has come, and so I step forward and embrace it.
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by B Mac