Chapter 22 : Martin
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Chapter 22. Martin
So this is how it feels, Martin thought bitterly to himself as he stared at the situation before him. Hermione, the love of his life, was kissing that blond man from her work.
He could feel himself falling to pieces, but he still didn't move.
Finally, he understood why people called it heartbroken. It was a suitable name, because it really did feel that way.
Should he get angry? Was he supposed to waltz over to them and beat the living daylights out of the man kissing the woman he loved?
The more he thought about it, the more did his frustration grow and expand.
He at least had to make his prescence known somehow. And he knew it was silly, but he actually started by faux-coughing.
When neither of the them heard him, however, this was enough to tip him over to the dark side.
With a booming roar, Martin threw himself at the blond man, ripping his face from Hermione's before throwing his fist hard against the man's perfectly shaped nose.
The blow caught the other man off guard, giving Martin one more opportunity to give him another thrashing. And so he did by punching the blonde in the kidney with all the force he mustered.
«Draco!» Hermione shrieked and ran over to the man as he stumbled backwards, hunched over with one hand clutching his side.
Martin didn't really realise that Hermione was more occupied with this 'Draco' than with him, all he knew was that he wanted to smash the man's brains in.
«Straighten up!» Martin yelled and started pushing Draco violently, almost causing him to fall. After being pushed a few times, and forced to walk backwards in the process, Draco's brain suddenly snapped into action and he began fighting back. He was the taller of the two, the most muscular, but that didn't stop Martin from throwing himself at him with great force.
«Stop it!» he could hear Hermione yelling from the side, trying to keep up with the two men who were punching, pushing and Lord knows what else.
Everything felt as though it was in fast-forward, so very fast, but it also seemed as if time was standing sill. Martin, being new to this feeling, took a note of that.
Martin wasn't used to fighting, but the other man obviously was, so when Martin's breath was wheezing out of him and sweat was dripping from his forehead, the other man didn't seem affected at all.
All of a sudden Martin realised that they had been fighting their way closer and closer to the forest that was located next to the church, and he was filled with renewed hope. Martin had grown up in in those woods, playing cowboy and indians with the other boys in the neighbourhood. Little did he know that he was in for a rude awakening.
The man called Draco suddenly drew a piece of wood out from the pocket of his coat and pointed it at Martin.
What the hell? he thought just before the man yelled a word he'd never heard before while flicking the stick at Martin, and with that he felt his whole body stiffen. With frightened eyes, he fell over to the ground, only able to see straight up into the treetops.
«Why the hell did you do that, Malfoy?!» Martin heard Hermione scream, her voice was ragged and uneasy. Her face appeared above him, and she looked down at him with concern.
Martin was starting to panic now that he fully realised that he was paralyzed. He couldn't move a single limb, and his eyes were darting from one side to another. He wanted to scream at Hermione to help him, demand for her to tell him what was going on.
«What would you expect me to do?!» The other man had a very deep voice, and his angry tone actually sent shivers through Martin's frozen spine. «It was either this or me beating the lad up! What would you want me to do?!»
Hermione put her hand on top of Martin's chest.
«Relax, Martin. You're fine,» she said in a low voice, obviously having a hard time calming herself down. «This won't last long -»
«Hell yes, it will!» Draco, the blonde's voice interrupted Hermione. «I won't undo the jinx until that mental person calms the fuck down!»
«You're really going to let him lie here all scared just because he reacted violently when he saw the two of us kissing?!» Hermione shot a look at what Martin could only assume was this other man. He was standing out of Martin's sight, and it was making him uncomfortable. «He doesn't understand that this isn't permanent!»
«...Blasted muggles..» Martin heard the dark voice mumble. «They're so bloody dramatic.»
«How would you feel if you had no idea that there existed anything like magic, and then one day, out of the blue, poof! Someone suddenly pointed a stick at you and your entire body froze up?»
No reply. Only silence.
Martin looked confused up at Hermione, and she looked apologetic back at him.
«I'm so sorry you had to find out like this, Martin,» she began, and he felt more bewildered than ever. «I tried to tell you many times, but-»
«Oh, sweet Salazar.» The man suddenly leaned over to Martin on the opposite side of where Hermione was located, and he could finally see the man's face. It was bruised and there was a cut above his left eye that kept gushing blood, this made Martin feel a bit smug, and he wanted to smile. «Hey, muggle-chap!» Martin looked angrily up at the blond man, and he wished he could smack him again. Martin didn't particularly enjoy being called names, especially if he didn't know what they meant. «What she's trying to say is that she's a witch. Yes, a witch. And if you don't believe me, then let me prove it to you.»
«What are you doing?!» Hermione hissed as this Draco left Martin's sight again. «You can't-»
But obviously, Draco wasn't going to listen.
All of a sudden Martin felt himself being lifted into the air, and he wanted to scream, but realised again that he couldn't. His body floated upwards and then he was tilted so it looked as though he was standing on the air itself.
What the fuck?! he yelled in his head, and wanted more than anything to be able to scream it out loud.
Martin looked at what this Draco was showing him. It was that same piece of wood he'd flickered at him just before he froze up.
«This, my dear muggle friend, is a wand. I can do magic with it. Like this,» he spoke slowly as though explaining simple math to a small-minded child. This angered Martin, he was a sodding lawyer, and most certainly not small-minded - but he had to admit that he was utterly captivated. Draco flicked his 'wand' at Martin, and he was suddenly turned upside down, with another he was thrown from side to side.
«Draco Malfoy!» Hermione screeched. «Stop that!»
This time he did listen.
«Sorry, mate,» he said and turned Martin the right side up. «Got a little carried away there.»
«Now, release him,» she commanded in her most threatening voice, and Martin was surprised to see a little bit of fear in Draco's eyes as she said it. How anyone could be afraid of sweet, innocent and harmless Hermione, was beyond him. «I'm not telling you twice.»
Draco looked over at Martin, the two of them locking eyes. «Are you ready?»
Martin wanted to nod, or blink, or anything, but he couldn't. Instead he tried to convey the message by staring intently back at the man with the stick. Sorry, 'wand.'
«Alright.» He pointed his wand at Martin's floating body, and without saying anything he was lowered back onto the ground. Only seconds later he felt that he could move again. He didn't though. He was still lying there on the ground, trying to make sense out of what had just happened.
«Martin?» Hermione knelt down beside him. «A-Are you okay? Please say something.»
«I-I..» He tried to put together a coherent sentence, but he was nowhere near successful.
«I'm sorry for not telling you sooner,» she whispered and cupped his face with her small, warm hand. «I wanted to, I just... I just didn't know how. And I'll answer anything, any question you have. You just have to ask.»
«Who is he, and why were you kissing him?»
Martin couldn't care less about Hermione being a witch or whatever it was; he loved her, and nothing would change that. What he wanted to know was why she was kissing another man on their wedding day.
«Allow me to introduce myself - I'm Draco Malfoy,» Draco Malfoy stepped over to Martin and reached out his hand. Martin actually took it and after shaking, Draco helped him into a seated position. «And I'm in love with Hermione.»
«What?» Martin looked from Draco to Hermione and then back. «What is this?»
«Wow. He seems more confused about this than when I had him upside down floating in air,» Draco smiled at Hermione, but she only replied by slapping his arm hard.
«Hermione?» Hermione met Martin's eyes, and he saw how they were filling with tears. «And do you love him?»
She nodded slowly, as if that would somehow spare his feelings.
Well, it didn't.
«Have you been seeing this man behind my back?» he whispered, emotion clear in his tone, and he looked at Hermione with hauting eyes.
Another nod. Could that woman ever answer a question verbally?!
Martin got to his feet in one swift motion and began pacing back and forth.
«I'm so sorry, Martin,» Hermione said in a raw voice, but Martin didn't listen. «I've just been so torn between the two of you, because I love you both so much-»
«How could you do this to me?» Martin asked in a strained voice, stopping in his tracks in order to give her a desperate look.
«I never meant to hurt you-»
«That's a load of shit, and you know it.» This came out as more of a sneer, and Martin began pacing again. «You could have told me that you were-»
«But I didn't want to lose you! I cared about you too much.» Martin stopped again, now staring at the crying woman in front of him. «I-I couldn't choose.»
For a moment that lasted longer than time itself, Martin stood there facing Hermione, not saying anything. None of them did.
«All right,» Martin choked out, cleared his throat, and took a deep breath. He knew what he had to do. «Hermione,» he began, trying to keep his voice steady, «I only have the strength to say this once, so listen...»
There was a moment of silence, but this one didn's last long. Martin still wanted to drag it out as long as he could, though, because what he was saying next would change his life forever.
«You say that you can't decide. That it's too difficult to choose because you care too much about the both of us...But,» he drew a long, shaky breath. Now he was only a second away from shattering his own self. «But if you ever were really in love with me-»
«No, Hermione, listen,» he interrupted, closing his eyes as he did. «If you were ever really in love with me, you wouldn't have fallen in love with him. It's that simple.» But even though the logic was simple, it was undoubtedly the most difficult thing he would ever say. «So... Even though it's destroying me to say it... I'm deciding this for you.»
«What are you saying?» she whispered, and Martin opened his eyes just as another tear fell down her cheek. Oh, how he wanted to dry it away. To take her in his arms and demand that she leave this other man.
But... This was the only right thing to do.
Martin turned to Draco with his head lifted in an attempt of looking strong, though he probably looked weaker than ever.
«Treat her right.»
«I will.» Draco seemed to understand, and there was respect shining in his shockingly blue eyes.
«You will be a great mother.» Martin didn't even try to control his voice as he said this to Hermione. It was beyond painful to have heard his fiance, the love of his life, saying that she was pregnant with this other man's child. He'd heard the blond man asking if she was, and when she answered, Martin had simply blacked out. And he hadn't remembered it until this very moment. Strange how the mind works, isn't it?
«You heard that?» Hermione muttered in a strained whisper and didn't care about drying away the tears that were falling in rivers down her face.
«Yes.» Martin was very quiet for a while, just looking from Hermione to Draco, trying to make sense of it all. Well, maybe it didn't make sense, and maybe it never would. The imoprtant thing right now was that Martin got the chance to say what he needed to before... He let the thought hang in the air unfinished, unthought. «I-I truly wish that you'll be happy.»
«Martin, you make it sound like this is goodbye forever. It doesn't have to be-»
«This is goodbye forever, my dear,» Martin said in a clear, but tender, way and gently grazed Hermione's cheek soothingly with his fingers. «Because I'm about to ask your lover for a favour.» He looked over at Draco and locked eyes with him. «Which I presume he'll agree to, since I'm sacrificing everything for his and your happiness.» They stared at each other for a loaded second. «Right?»
«You owe me.» Martin ignored Hemione's pleas, and was talking only to Draco.
Draco nodded slowly, finding new respect for the man for every passing second. «Anything you want.»
Martin didn't have to think.
«I want to forget.»
«What makes you think that I-»
«Don't give me that,» Martin snorted. He was dead serious. «You say you can do magic with that stick. I've experienced it first-hand. You paralyzed me, lifted me into thin air and turned me upside down with just a flick of it. So there's no way in hell I'm going to believe that that's all you can do.»
Draco sighed, clearly uncomfortable with the situation. He looked over at Hermione who was shaking her head desperately, then back at Martin.
«Are you sure you want to do this? You want to forget -» Draco cast Hermione another glance. «- everything?»
«Please, Martin.» Hermione stepped over to him, tripping slightly on her long, white dress, grabbed Martin's hand and her eyes pleaded him to change his mind. «Just wait until tomorrow, sleep on it, and-»
«Don't you understand, Hermione?» Martin asked her, putting his hand on top of hers and gave it a squeeze before lowering his voice. «You are the love of my life. The one and only-»
«Then why do this?» she choked out, her face grimacing in agony.
«Because if I don't remember to have met you, then I never have to feel the pain of losing you.»
This made Hermione break down in a fit of sobs, and she stepped away only to lean her back against the nearest tree.
«I'm sure,» Martin said firmly to Draco.
«All right,» he answered in a whisper, positioning his wand at Martin's chest. «If there's anything you want to say, or do...» Draco swallowed hard, «..then this is your moment.»
Martin thought for a while, but he knew what he wanted at the second Draco uttered the words. He just had to take a few controlled breaths before doing it. So after spending some time listening to his own heartbeats, he turned to Hermione who was still pressing her back against the tree.
His steps made low noises as he stepped on twigs and leaves, and he savoured the sound, knowing it would be some of the last he'd hear before he'd forget it ever happened. Hermione stared at him as he approached her, and when he was so close he could feel the tremble of her body on his own, he leaned down with his hands on either side of her face, and kissed her tenderly on the mouth.
«I love you,» he whispered against her soft lips. Needing to say it one last time.
Eternity was passing. An eternity would soon be forgotten. So, with his hands on her, he used his last moments to remember what would soon be lost forever.
The library was quiet, the silence only interrupted by the low buzzing of conversations being whispered, and the hypnotizing sound of people turning a page in their books. Martin was standing in the 'Classics' section, a little annoyed by the fact that he'd actually listened to his female, literary student friend, and was now on the prowl again for another Jane Austen-novel. He didn't like them. Any of them. But, once again, he'd been persuaded (and a little blackmailed) by this one persistent friend to read another one. So he was now searching, half-heartedly, after 'Mansfield Park', but the title seemed to vanish in the sea of books on the shelf.
While dragging his feet as he absentmindedly read each title, he crashed into someone.
«Sorry,» he muttered without looking.
And there it was. He'd finally found the sodding book. But when his hand closed around its edges, this other person was also quickly trying to snag it away.
«Excuse me, but I think that I had this fir-» he began in a low voice, and turned around to show this person his most intimidating lawyer-face. Instead, his mouth dropped open, and he literally gulped.
«I would disagree.» The person who had rendered him speechless was indeed a woman. And beautiful was a description too bleak for this creature. There was something almost magical about her, and her brown eyes seemed to exude a charisma that was almost tangible. «My hand was on it before yours, ergo, I had it before you.»
All Martin could do was stare at her, and when he also realised that their hands were actually touching, he had to battle the urge to break down in a fit of giggles.
«I'll take that as a sign of tacit compliance,» she said smugly and ripped the book off the shelf and out of his hand. Since they were no longer touching, he found it easier to navigate through his own head.
«I beg your pardon,» he muttered at the creature as she walked away, and stumbled after her. «You can't just-»
«Take the book? Yes. I can. You just saw me do it.»
«But, as you can see, you haven't gotten away with it, considering the fact that I'm following you in pursuit of the book.»
«You had your moment to get it, to offer a fair discussion about your right to claim it, but it's over now. I got it, and I'll keep it. The end.»
«This isn't logical at all, you know,» he tried to reason, but was actually quite amused. This woman had the uncanny ability to both humour and annoy him.
«All flies are dinner in the eyes of the toad.» The woman threw him a brief smile as she sat down in the oldest, most ragged piece of furniture in the room, and pulled her feet up while opening the book.
«What?» he muttered, and then furrowed his brows in suspicion. Maybe the woman was a loon?
«It depends on the eye of the viewer, doesn't it? I mean... Nobody can ever be completely fair because we all have a different perspective on things, like the toad. To him, flies are delicious, to us they're a nuisance, and should be squished as soon as possible.»
Martin thought about that for a minute. When he couldn't come up with any reply to her strange (but true) statement, he sat down in the chair opposite her with a sigh.
The girl had already delved into the book. He could see her mellow, golden eyes darting from one line to the other as she read them.
Martin realised that he was, in fact, staring, and quickly tried to act as nonchalant as possible. The creature didn't bite, and instead she sighed as she lifted her eyes from the pages of her book. Obviously, she was curious about him as well, so after putting a stray curl behind her ear, she parted her lips before starting a legitimate conversation.
«Do you enjoy her work?»
«Oh, God, no.»
She squinted her eyes at him. «Then why were you so intent on getting her novel?»
«A friend is forcing me to read her work.»
«And why, if I may ask, do you not like them?»
«They're lacking in depth, and there's no sense of reality in any of them – as in a strange, superficial dream. And the books' only message is of how important it is to find a rich husband, and that just isn't enough to keep me entertained, I'm afraid.»
«No sense of reality?» The creature grit her teeth. «The importance of finding a husband was their reality. Jane Austen wrote about the issues of her time, so don't come here and trample all over them just because you're not enlightened enough to know that, boy.»
«Boy?» Martin's eyebrows shot up. «I'm probably several years older than you are. What are you, eightteen?»
«Twenty one,» she replied, nose in the air, before quietly adding to herself: «...almost.» And then turned to glower at Martin again. «But in literary years I'm vastly more mature than you are, obviously.»
There was no way around it now. Martin was completely won over by this wonderful, little beast, and even though she was furiously arguing with him, all he could do was just stare at her. She was so radiant, so passionate.
«- so falsely believe that Jane Austen's novels are lacking in depth, then you are sorely mistaken, and here's why-»
«I'm sorry to interrupt you, but...» Martin began, now grinning. She wasn't pleased with being cut off mid-insult, and let out an annoyed growl to prove it. «Would you be interested in continuing this heated discussion over some coffee?»
The girl looked utterly dumbfounded, and blinked her eyes for several seconds. Slowly, it dawned on her that she had to respond.
«A-Alright,» she stuttered, but suddenly remembered that Martin'd had the atrocity to cut her off just a second ago. «But don't interrupt me ever again. There will be consequences,» she added the last words with a mischievous smile playing on her lips.
«I'll promise, if you tell me your name.»
«Hermione,» she said as she got up, and held out her hand for Martin to take.
They shook hands for a moment. His fingers wrapped around her petite, warm ones.
«Then, Hermione,» he began, and smiled, «I promise not to interrupt you again.»
He had fallen in love with her that same day. And just as Martin was about to delve into another memory, he heard a voice behind him.
And then it was gone.
Yes, completely different, but what do you think?
This is not the end of the story, by the way, there's still a few chappies left, so don't despair just yet.
And how do you feel about Martin forever being out of the picture?
Thank you for reading, my darlings,
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