She is still young. Not time to die just yet. She brushes her hair with one hundred strokes every morning and night, darkly glowing against the silver back of the brush. It keeps the follicles strong, the hair glossy, and it falls over her shoulder like a cloud across the moon.
She dresses methodically. Pulls the stockings up her legs – still slender, not yet engorged with varicose veins and corpulent fat; clips the bra around at the back – breasts not yet drooping, still high and swollen with youth; fits the black trench coat tightly around her body – still lithe, still firm and slim and desirable. She runs her finger around the back of the shoe, easing her foot into the black heel.
She applies makeup carefully, like armour. The touch of foundation barely needed on her smooth skin, mascara licking her eyelashes into thick dusky barriers over her eyes. Red lipstick slicked on like a covering of blood, roll the lips together, blot, reapply, dust with powder, coat with a fine layer of gloss. She knows the motions like she knows the words to a song.
Finally, when she is ready, she takes a cigarette from the battered packet, puts it between her promiscuous lips, and lights it, bathing her face in a golden glow. The calming sensation of the smoke seething in her lungs fills her, and she finds the courage to step out of the door.
She knows where she is going, has been there many times before. She tips her head back as she walks in the exact middle of the deserted street, imagining she can see the stars beyond the red backlight of London. Her heels tap time on the stone.
She knows he will be waiting. She likes to play this game, leaving it as long as she can before the tension of knowing his antagonism awaits her becomes too much, and she hastens on.
The light above the door is flickering. He must be furious. She knocks on the door, blood rising with anticipation to her face, making her heart pound and her lips tremble with expectancy.
He doesn’t answer. She waits for minutes on end. There are no footsteps, no sounds at all. She tries the door. It is open.
She steps inside, knowing, feeling, that this is one of his games. There are no lights on. She wishes for a second that she’d brought her wand, never mind that she hasn’t touched it in years. Her hand closes around the knife in her pocket, lying quiescent next to her Muggle phone, the flat keys, and the photo she’s had in there for more than five years.
“You don’t want to do that.” His voice comes in a whisper from the dark, full of heat, burning her skin. She jumps and nearly screams.
“And you definitely don’t want to scream,” he continues, low like a purr, but rough like a snarl.
She inches her hand away from the knife in her pocket.
“Take your coat off,” he says.
She relaxes. It’s just one of his games after all, just one of the things he does to make himself powerful. She unbuttons her coat slowly, half-smiling, and drops it on the floor. It makes no noise against the cold tiles.
Somewhere outside a light comes on, casting a dim yellow glow through the house. She can see his outline now, as he can see her, standing there semi-naked. His white-blonde hair makes a halo of light around his head.
She knows that in a moment he will step forward, as in control as he always is, and the kisses he pushes upon her will be hot and furious and passionate, and that once he’s pinned her down and taken what he needs from her he will delight in hearing his name fall from her lips again and again like a dripping tap, revel in making the marks on her flesh in the heat of desire and passion, and that late at night he will do as he always promises and she will scream into the stifling darkness.
He steps forward and then she finds out that she knows nothing about him, and never did, and never will.
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