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Chapter 1 : Not for Always
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As said in the story summary, this is an entry for Puttylil's 'Always' Challenge, and it is also and entry for WoodrowRynne's 'Unnamed' Challenge where the point of the game is not to name any characters whatsoever, but feel free to guess who they are!
This one-shot was also inspired by my own challenge, The Birthday Massacre Challenge, and was based off the lyrics in the summary: "I'm not what you want, you said what I never could."
I hope you like it. Please R&R.
She stood in the doorway, gazing numbly at the bedroom they had shared for the past three years.
On his side, everything was orderly and pristine. The floor and furniture were clean of dirty clothes, the papers on his desk were always neatly stacked, and everything in his closet had been ironed to a crease-free perfection and hung with care, business casual attire on the left and formal wear on the right. Nothing was ever out of place.
Her side of the room was the exact opposite. Clothes she’d worn this past week were strewn all over the place: on the floor, on the chair, on the lamp. Her closet was even worse. She didn’t bother with keeping things neat or organizing her garments by category or color. She didn’t need to. Even when her half was in complete chaos, she still knew exactly where she had left each and every item.
It had always irked him, the disarray that was her side of the room. She smiled sadly, remembering the way he used to scowl every time he would enter and see the newest mess she had made. But it was just her way, and he knew he couldn’t change her.
She sighed and leaned her forehead against the doorframe. She had saved this room for last, knowing it would all become real once she started packing her most intimate possessions.
She had never believed this day would ever come.
The day he would really and truly leave her.
Finally, she pulled out her suitcases and began packing up her wardrobe.
Some of the garments she had moved into the flat with, others she had bought since then, and subsequently there was the special few that he had bought her, whether it was for her birthday, Christmas, a gala he had invited her to, or simply a random gift with which he chose to surprise her. While she loved the items he had given her, she left them on their hangers. She didn’t want anything that reminded her of him.
It was going to be hard enough letting him go, having mementos everywhere would only make it worse.
They had been walking home from a party. Their friends were always throwing parties. It had seemed like an ordinary night; it had never occurred to her that anything was wrong.
Until he said those eight words that had started it all.
“I don’t think I can do this anymore.”
She looked over at him, a confused look on her face.
“Do what?” she asked, not understanding. “Go to parties?”
“No,” he retorted with a scowl. When he didn’t continue, she turned to look at him more closely. He appeared to be pondering how to say whatever it was that was on his mind.
She waited patiently, knowing it was always best not to rush him, to let him take his time choosing the right words to use.
Lately, she’d noticed how he was much more pensive than usual. There always seemed to be something on his mind. Something she couldn’t read in his unfathomable grey eyes. And every now and then, it seemed he just might share his thoughts with her. He’d open his mouth as if to speak, and she’d wait for him to do so, but then he would always close it, continuing with his silent contemplations.
He sighed, loudly.
“I don’t want to be with you anymore,” he finally said, sighing tiredly as if it had taken all of his energy to say those few words; a single sentence.
She was positive her heart had even stopped beating in those first few seconds.
“You what?” she finally gasped.
She felt as if her heart had just collapsed.
She could not imagine a world without him in it.
He sighed again, this time more sadly.
“Babe…” he trailed off, reaching for her. But she quickly stepped away.
She reminisced about their years together as she took her time folding each garment she would keep and, as a way of saying goodbye, giving a fond, final touch to each item she would leave behind.
They had always been an on-and-off sort of couple since fourth year when he asked her to be his date to the Yule Ball. Ever since then they had broken up and gotten back together on a regular basis. Up until their sixth year that is, when he slowly started shutting her out. She’d had no idea what was going on back then, but it all became clear after the Headmaster's death. He had only pulled away from her because he was afraid. Afraid of what he had to do. Afraid of being discovered. Afraid of failing. Afraid of losing his family. And he’d had every right to be afraid.
After the war, they had both returned to Hogwarts to finish their schooling. When they started dating again, she had never questioned him about their sixth year. She didn't think she had the right to or that it was even appropriate after everything that had happened. The last thing she wanted to do was bring up bad memories. She was just happy to have him back. Sure, they still fought a lot, but they always made up in the end. It had never been her intention to leave him for good.
But recently, they hadn’t fought in months. Not once. She had thought that they had finally made it, that they would always be together.
That was how it was supposed to go. How could he end it?
“Babe, please don’t be like that.”
“Well, how am I supposed to be?” she demanded as the rage rose in her chest. “Am I supposed to take the fact that you’re breaking up with me well?” she shrieked, refusing to be calm.
“I didn’t say that,” he replied coolly. “But I thought you would take it better than this.”
“Oh, really?” she asked, becoming angrier by the second. “You haven’t seen anything yet.”
“I’m just trying to be honest here,” he snapped, clearly not grasping how much his words had hurt her.
She scowled. “Now you want be honest? How long have you been lying to me then?” she hissed. “How long have you been leading me on? Letting me believe that everything was fine when it wasn’t?”
He looked to the ground, causing his pale blonde hair to fall into his eyes. “A few months now,” he answered guiltily.
“A few months?!” she exclaimed.
“I ignored it at first, thinking it would pass,” he started. “But it didn’t and I can’t lie to you anymore.”
She glared at him. He wasn’t telling her this because he couldn’t stand the thought of lying to her. She knew him and there wasn’t a sentimental bone in his entire body. He was telling her because he couldn’t stand the idea of being with her anymore.
“Ignored what?” she asked, crossing her arms over her chest, choosing the defiant stance. She wanted to hear him say it, and she’d wait all night until he finally told her the truth.
“Don’t make me say it…” he trailed off as his stare turned frosty, but she stood her ground. Anyone else would likely cower and retreat when they saw that icy glare cross his features—his cold eyes, sharp cheekbones, and pointed chin could easily scare off just about anyone—but not her.
How could she have been so wrong?
She had always believed they would end up together. Ever since they were kids. They’d known each other forever. Before Hogwarts. Before everything. Their parents used to set play-dates for them when they were just toddlers!
Sure, she knew what everyone thought of her. Arrogant. Gold-digger. Coward. Traitor. Yes, she had done some terrible things in her life. She wasn’t proud of it. During her school days, she had been cruel to just about everyone. Except him. She had loved him before she even knew what love was. She didn’t care about his money or reputation; she only cared about him. The Wizarding World could believe whatever they wanted, but when it came down to it that was the cold, hard truth.
She loved him.
She had always loved him.
And after spending her entire life devoted to him, after every night she went to sleep dreaming of marrying him, of having children with him, of growing old with him—the only boy she had ever loved—he didn’t want her.
A tear escaped and ran down her cheek at the thought. She couldn’t believe it was really over. A part of her wanted to curl up in a ball and cry all over again, but she had already done that more times than she could count over the last few days. He would be back tomorrow and if she intended to be gone by then, she certainly couldn’t stop now. She had to keep going.
“I want to hear you say it,” she stated matter-of-factly. She never gave in before and she sure as hell wasn’t going to start now.
Either he would say it, or they would stand there all night.
He sighed again.
She tapped her foot impatiently, shaking her head. She swore talking to him was often like talking to a child. Sometimes she wondered, after everything they’d been through, if he had really ever matured at all since their school days; it was like dealing with that whiny, spoiled brat all over again.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” he finally started after what seemed like an eternity, but was probably no more than a few unpleasant minutes. “It’s time I started settling down.”
She stared at him, surprised, but, at the same time, not. Both of them having come from old-fashioned, pureblooded families, it was their duty to continue their families’ lines. But they were only twenty-three; they still had plenty of time before they needed to start working on a building a family.
And she wanted to build hers with him.
“So?” she asked, confused. “Don’t you think I want that as well?”
He froze, a slight panicky look entering his eyes. “No, I didn’t mean it like that—”
“Well then how did you mean it?” she pressed.
That pondering look entered his eyes again as he tried to come up with the best way to put what he needed to say.
“It’s just that I don’t want to do that… with you,” he finally spat it out, defeated; there was no pleasant way to say something so brutal.
As she finished folding the last piece of clothing and stuffed it into a suitcase, she started on the dresser. In the top two drawers, she had kept all of her intimates, stockings, socks, and other things. The two bottom drawers consisted of his socks and undergarments. The top of the dresser was, for the most part, covered with all of her make-up, jewelry, and other beauty products and accessories, but there were also a few things of his that he kept neatly separated from, what he called, her “frivolous nonsense.”
Normally, packing was something a pureblooded witch would do by magic. Everything could easily be packed into her suitcases in a matter of minutes. She could have been out of this apartment the very night he broke up with her. But she didn't like that. She may be a slob, but she packed every single item with care. It was one of the few things she enjoyed doing the muggle way. It gave her time to think or to dream, but right now there was nothing to dream about. She had no idea what she was going to do now that they were over. It had never occurred to her to make a plan in case they didn't work out. She had always believed they would.
Slowly, she moved from the first drawer to the second, diligently taking the time to properly fold each item and neatly place it into the current suitcase so that they wouldn’t wrinkle.
After that, she moved onto all of her things on top of dresser as she pulled out a smaller suitcase.
Halfway through, she came across a necklace.
This one particular necklace had been her favorite out of all the jewelry he had ever bestowed upon her. It was a silver pendant in the shape of a heart. In the center was set the most beautiful emerald she had ever seen, also cut into the shape of a heart. Diamonds surrounded the gem, outlining it. When he had first clasped the pendant’s chain at the back of her neck and turned to gaze upon it as it rested inches above her breasts, he smiled and told her how it made her green eyes all the more striking.
She sighed at the memory. He had always known exactly what to say.
Instead of leaving it on the dresser, she quietly gathered the necklace into one hand and placed it in the pocket of her robes.
This one item she would keep.
She stood there, frozen in place. For a moment, she forgot to breathe as her world suddenly began to shatter around her.
“What?” she asked, shocked. She didn’t understand. They had been together for six years now. How could he not want to be with her? To marry her? To have children with her?
Unlike him, she had never imagined her future with anyone else.
He was her everything.
He was her entire world.
“I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with you,” he continued, looking haggard.
“That’s impossible,” she sputtered, unable to comprehend what he was saying. She couldn’t believe this was happening. “We were supposed to be together forever.”
That was the plan. That had always been the plan. How could he all of a sudden not want that?
It didn’t make any sense.
“You’re not what I want!” he shouted in exacerbation and then winced at the sound of his own voice; he didn’t mean to yell at her. But it was too late. The damage was done.
Tears began to form in her eyes, and she forced down the first sobs as they immediately began to climb up her throat.
She’d never felt so rejected in her whole life.
How could he not want her?
They were meant to be together. Even though they’d broken up and gotten back together more times than she could count. Even though they fought all the time. They were supposed to be together.
She had never doubted that.
“You don’t mean that,” she finally said, straightening up with disbelief etched across her face.
“Yes, I do,” he replied solemnly. “It’s over. For real. We’re not getting back together this time.”
“But we always get back together,” she stated, incredulous. “It’s what we do. It’s who we are. You’ve left so many times, but you always come back. Because you know that I’m the only girl who gets you. The only one who will ever get you. We belong together!”
“Not anymore,” he declared, sounding tired. “I’m done with playing games. I need something real.”
“Something real?” she questioned in disbelief. “I am real! I’m the realest thing you’re ever going to get!”
He shook his head at her sadly.
“You can keep the flat,” he stated, changing the subject in hopes that it would put an end to this conversation. “I’ll move out.”
“No,” she replied harshly as reality finally hit her with full force; they were really over. “I’ll move out. Take a short, impromptu vacation or go stay with your mother for a few days; I’ll be gone by the time you return.”
“You don’t have to do that—” he started, but she quickly raised her hand to stop him.
“If we’re over for good then I don’t want anything that’ll remind me of you, and that includes the flat. I’ll return home alone tonight—I don’t care where the hell you sleep—and when you return on Wednesday, I’ll be gone.”
He watched her gravely for a few seconds and then finally nodded in consent.
“I’m sorry it had to be this way,” he offered, trying to be sympathetic.
“Save it,” she said as she turned away from him and continued on her way back to the flat. “I don’t want your pity.”
Thinking on the entire situation, if she was honest with herself—really and truly honest—she knew this day would eventually come.
As much as they tried, their love for each other had ended a long time ago. And over the last few months they had begun to drift apart.
He had merely said the words that she never could, because it was so hard for her to let him go.
He was her friend, her lover, her crutch. He was the person with whom she was most comfortable. He was the only person with whom she thought she could share anything, even her most deepest, darkest secrets. She came to him for advice, for support, or simply for a shoulder to cry on when she was upset. He was her everything. He always would be.
She had been holding on to him simply for the mere fact that she didn’t know how to let him go.
She didn’t know who else to turn to, or who would take his place now that he was gone. Letting him go and learning to live without him was going to be the hardest thing she would ever have to do. But she knew she had to do it.
She certainly couldn’t give up on her life. She wasn’t one to sit around all day and cry because things didn’t go her way. She had a successful job that she loved, she had money of her own, and she had family and friends to lean on for support. She would make it through this. She was determined to.
With everything finally packed, she pulled out her wand and magically shrunk all of her luggage and carefully placed each miniature suitcase into her purse. Then, after taking one final look around the room—not just to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anything, but also as a way of mentally saying goodbye to the room they had shared and to the life she had known—she slowly turned around to leave.
Before she could take another step though, she suddenly came face to face with the very person she had just mustered up the courage to say to goodbye to.
“Hey,” he finally spoke. He stood awkwardly with his hands in his pockets, looking down at his feet the moment they made eye contact.
She stared at him, surprised; it wasn’t like him to be shy. “What are you doing here?” she asked, confused. “You weren’t supposed to return until tomorrow.”
“I wanted to see you before you left,” he replied with a shrug.
“Why?” she pressed, annoyed. “Breaking up with me wasn’t good enough for you? Now, you want to shove it in my face by escorting me out of the building?” She could feel her eyes filling up with tears again and the last thing she wanted to do was cry in front of him a second time over this break-up.
“No, of course not,” he countered in bewilderment, his anxiousness quickly dissipating. “I just wanted to see you.”
She scoffed, not believing that for one second.
“Just because I don’t want to be with you does not mean that I don’t still care about you,” he continued. “We’ve known each other our whole lives; I just wanted to make sure that you’re okay, to make sure that you have a plan.”
“Please,” she snorted. “You know I’m not the type who plans,” she practically spat out the word as if it was the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard. “Not to mention, I’ve been too busy packing to bother. I’ll just stay with friends until I figure things out and find a place of my own.”
“I don’t know why you didn’t just use magic,” he stated in annoyance. “You would have been done in a matter of seconds.”
“I don’t need magic to do every single little thing for me,” she snapped. “Unlike you, I wasn’t completely spoiled as a child. I’m actually capable of doing things without a wand.”
“But it’s so tedious and time-consuming,” he argued.
She rolled her eyes, “That doesn’t bother me.”
He shook his head in bewilderment.
He really never did understand her; not her messiness, not her packing, not her hopes and dreams.
If he did, he wouldn’t have led her on this long. He would have put a stop to it long before he could break her heart.
But he didn’t.
She had to accept that maybe there was a reason he had broken up with her. Maybe she was supposed to find someone else, someone who understood her and accepted her for all that she was. Someone who wouldn’t complain even if he didn’t like the way she lived.
She had to hold her head high and push through until she found someone who truly loved her for her. Someone who, once meeting her, couldn’t imagine life with anyone else.
She gave the blond man in front of her a curt nod, “Goodbye.” And with that, she quietly made her leave of the bedroom and out of the flat.
Maybe they really weren’t meant to be.
For a time, yes. But not forever.
Not for always.
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