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Chapter 1 : a place where butterflies hide
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She stands in the place where all things once began.
She has never felt more young doing so and for what it’s worth, she is seventeen years old and this world will someday be hers. There will always be enough time for her to dream while she is standing here, the soft brown earth slowly molding itself around her feet. And she wonders what to say, how to string words together to encompass the months together and the years apart.
A wind rustles through, ejecting small butterflies into the sky from the plum tree brooding over her. The bulbous plums wobble as they flutter away, taking shelter among the fields of crocuses and lavender. This world is one of color – the amber sky, forewarning pandering clouds among the brilliancy of a sunset. Far beyond her small world of lavender and crocuses looms the billowing lake, stroking cool air her way.
She stares at the plum tree; it is a waterfall of splattered green, ebbing with small blots of darkness. When she looks above, all she can see is the plums hanging too far beyond her reach.
She puts one hand to the trunk. Its unknowable ridges grate under her white palms, gifting her clods of dirt. Somewhere there are the letters they once carved in, overtaken by the whimsy of a moment together. There are two letters hidden somewhere under the tree’s skin. Two letters and four moments when she learned to love.
“It’s a nice place.”
“Yeah, isn’t it?” Her voice was bubbling over into laughter. “It’s got a lovely view.”
He gave a huff as he sat down, tossing his bag onto the ground. “How’d you find it?”
She sat beside him, her bony legs tucked under her. “I got lost. I went around the wrong end of the Black Lake.”
“You got lost?” His laugh was warm and reassuring. “You’ve got no sense of direction.”
“Whatever,” she pouted.
There is a little universe among the ridges. Small canyons and valleys that the rainwater must scale before dripping onto the tangled roots.
“Do you think you’ll win, though?”
“Maybe,” he shrugged, the honey in his eyes dancing. “What do you reckon?”
“You could, maybe.” She ticked off her fingers. “I heard Oliver Wood’s entering. And Camilla Jordan – and she’s smart, so you’ve got a bit of competition – ”
He cut her off by draping his arm around her shoulders. “All right, don’t get too optimistic. You’re my girlfriend, you’re supposed to cheer me on.”
There was a pause while he took her hand and pressed it against the side of his face.
“Good luck Ced,” she said immediately, smiling.
The air splays her raven hair in a hundred different directions, whispering undecipherable secrets into her skin, healing her, reminding her what it is to be empty and full all the same time.
“I’m exhausted,” he admitted, leaning against the trunk. “Everything’s sore.”
She stood on tip-toe to kiss him. His lips were scratched and he was still dripping wet from the lake water, but the same swoop of excitement was always there. “You did brilliantly.”
Her fingers nudge something and a small chip of wood peels off.
Here, time stops.
The dusk sky revolved around them as they walked. He kicked the dirt, still trying to ease his nerves.
“Don’t be so anxious,” she murmured. “You’re going to be fine. I know you’ll win.”
He turned to face her, his shoulders still hunched with tension. Everything about him had grown familiar in these past months with him. The kind lines of his face, the broad figure, the slight lankiness that he had yet to outgrow. “I still feel nervous about all of this.”
She took his hand, interlacing their fingers. Behind them, long shafts of orange and yellow light swathed the grounds. “Well, don’t be.”
In a strange way, they were never more than ordinary.
They had never promised each other grandiose things like everlasting love. He made her laugh, she made him smile and things were only ever that simple in the few short months they had.
She had never expected them to marry someday. He had never told her things like ‘I love you’ or tried reading poetry or scaling a wall to climb up to her. She had never imagined him proposing to her. He had never thought of a family with her.
But, she thinks, he created something out of nothing. He gave her a reason to love the world a little more. All the laughter under sunlit skies and between crowded hallways – it still meant something.
She begins walking away from the tree, her gaze falling across the neatly patterned rows of the lavender fields. It is a place lost to their memories, frequented by nothing but birds and butterflies since their lost afternoons here. It is a small plot of land bordered by white crocuses and yellow irises and promising her a place to remember.
Two years have passed since then and have taken away her tears with them.
To everybody, he will forever remain the Boy Who Died. To her, he will be the first. The first she learned to lose.
But she has no more room left to cry. Tomorrow, she leaves Hogwarts. Tomorrow, a scarlet train will pull her away for the last time. She is seventeen and life is abounding with all the things she has never experienced.
She walks between the rows of lavender, feeling the wind pick up once more. The lavender ripples and crocuses flutter like windchimes. Birds twitter, scarpering over patches of wild berries. A few butterflies sense opportunity and take to the sky, flitting out of sight.
Within moments, night penetrates the sunset, spreading like fallen ink on the smooth orange fabric. The remaining butterflies have swooped away to where butterflies hide at night. Unseen crickets harmonize and she listens quietly, still unsure of how to break the silence.
Finally when stars speckle the sky, she knows it’s time to leave.
So she spares a backwards glance and everything – the tree, the flowers – remain perfectly still, emblazoned into her memory alongside him. In her mind, he will be where the butterflies hide, alongside perfumed lavender and skies filled with stars. The least she can do, she thinks, is give him back the same beauty he once gave her.
She stumbles over the lavender as she walks off, lightly humming to herself a tune that she thought she had long forgotten.
Author's Note: This arose from another random writing session. I adore writing Cho, so I'd love to know your thoughts.
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