Chapter 1 : Damsel in Distress
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Ron and Harry hadn't come back with me, I was all alone. Of course they didn't need to, they had gotten the career they wanted handed to them because of the war. Aurors. I rolled my eyes and let them fade away in my mind, things weren't so good between us these days. It wasn't for their lack of trying I guess I had just changed too much for them to handle. I was too sick of being the know-it-all, the bookworm, the mudblood..
Sighing I thought back to the first day of the school year, it hadn't taken long for Malfoy to notice my presence nor for him to notice my friends hadn't returned with me. I was all alone and he made sure I knew it, constantly trying to corner me to make me feel worse about the situation I was in, always reminding me that my best friends had left me. Of course I knew I was being selfish, they were taking their courses in a different location, I hadn't really been paying attention when they told me exactly where it was yet I still felt so deserted.
Schooling had never really been important to either of them but too me it was everything, I had to admit it still was. I still wanted to be the best, I still wanted to let useless knowledge sink into my brain, I still wanted that feeling of satisfaction when I got a test back with a great grade... I just didn't want that to be ALL I wanted.
Another streak of lightning lit the sky in a chain reaction, it dissappeared into the trees of the Dark Forest and I found myself needing a walk. Standing up from the edge of the window where I had been seated I made my way through the girls dormitory and down the stairs that led to the common room. It was packed with faceless people, I didn't notice my name being called nor did I notice the worried look that lined Ginny Weasly's face. I kept going only stopping for a second to open the portrait door.
The pitter patter of my shoes echoed in my ears as I made my way down the stone corridor. It was well past curfew, almost eleven thirty at night but I didn't care. I was a prefect after all, I just had to say I was doing some rounds.
My feet took me down too the entrance hall and I paused at the door. I just wanted to be away from everything, to let the rain wash away the memories from the war, the distress I felt at the ending of my relationship with Ron who had said he needed to focus on his career. I was just a distraction apparantly. I needed to find solice in the trees, to be one with nature I guess you could say.
Unsure about breaking the rules, it was not something that I normally did, I was a good girl after all, Hermione Granger, smartest girl of her year, the golden girl and all that yet I still reached my hand out and pulled at the abnormaly large door that not too long ago had been blown off it's hinges, rubble surrounding it. It's amazing what magic could fix I thought to myself as I made my way down the stone steps and onto the green grass.
It was chilly out, rain splashed against my face and for a moment I just stood there, eyes searching the sky for answers to no particular question, the moonlight bathing me in a soft glow. My hair was already soaked, droplets of water running down my shirt and quickly drenching my grey t-shirt and bra. I shivered at the contact, the wind brushing against my skin coldly, almost in warning;
I stared stubbornly ahead, I didn't care if I got sick, I just need the space from real life, space from the war, everywhere I looked in the castle a memory surfaced and I was tired of it. I just wanted to lead a normal life.
My hair stuck to my forhead as my feet took me to the edge of the forest, it looked dark and foreboding but surprisingly fear did not well inside me, confident I moved closer and was about to enter completely into the darkness when I heard a voice behind me.
My heartbeat raced as I turned around, infront of me stood Blaise Zabini, a boy I had never even spoken to before, his hair also plastered to his face, blue eyes sparkling with curiousity and a small smirk playing at his lips.
'Granger?' He asked slowly.. 'Did you hear me?'
'No' I stated flatly, a look of shock lined his features but just as soon as it was there it had vanished.
'What are you doing out here this late? The weather is horrendous.'He asked, his forehead wrinkling with a frown.
'I fancied a walk..' I started, mumbling 'obviously' underneath my breath.
'A walk in the cold? In the rain? What could possibly motivate you to do such a thing?'
I looked down at my shoes, I had sunk a little in the mud the rain had created, self consiously I put my arms around my body, I hadn't realized that I had forgotten a robe nor that I was only wearing a pair of sleeping shorts under my grey t-shirt which was now shamelessly clinging to my curves, accenting the swell of my breasts.
'I just needed to..' I started, looking up from the mud and into his penetrating gaze and instantly my words died in my throat.. I had never before in my life seen such beautiful eyes, it was dark out but I could see the light specks of green that flecked those perfect blue eyes. Heat rushed inside me and I turned my head away trying to hide the blush that rose to my cheeks.
'To get away?' He finished for me, the question dancing on the end of his tongue.
'Yes' I breathed, shame filling me at the thought that I had almost done something completely wreckless just to feel something again.
He didn't say anything, just looked at me some more, understanding etched on his face. 'You should go inside, Granger. Your half naked and it's getting colder out here.' He replied, giving me a short nod before turning around and making his way back across the grounds toward the castle.
I watched him leave, the moonlight shining against his back, his dark hair glowing in it. I felt an odd sense of sadness at his departure. I couldn't quite put my finger on it but I hadn't felt as empty with him there. That was strange.
Lightning flashed through the sky once more and I slowly made my way back through the grounds as well, the rain had started to let up but the air still held that damp chill. I brushed my hair from my forehead and once again fell into the memories that had taken place here not even a year ago. Regrets filled my mind and once again I felt like I was drowning. How long could I go through this?
Days and nights passed in a blur, this morning I found myself staring at my reflection in the bathroom mirror, I felt so plain. Of course I never really cared about my looks but as I glanced at my self I noticed all the imperfections of my face. My nose was slightly too large, my once passionate chocolate brown eyes were now dull and empty with a darker shade of skin circling them, my skin had a pale tinge too it from my sleepless nights and my lips looked like they were permenantly held in a frown.
Stepping back I let my eyes trail over my body, I had definately blossomed and developed in all the right places but my skin was stretched tightly over my bones from the lack of appetite I had. In fact I had sat in the Headmistress' office more than once because of not eating enough, obviously I should start listening to her more from my appearance's sake.
I turned around sadly, my eyes catching on the white skin that held the scar on my arm. 'Mudblood' glared up at me, a constant reminder of the manor, of the war. Things would never change. That's who I was. I was just a mudblood in the eyes of most of the wizarding world, no matter how much work I did nor how much I tried to do well by everyone that would never change. I was just filth under their shoes.
I felt the burning in my eyes as tears surface, shutting them desperately I cursed myself, I had promised myself months ago that I wouldn't cry anymore. It was a weak thing to do. Sighing I left the bathroom and made my way down to the great hall, it was rather empty this early in the morning and I let myself share a weak smile with the hall, it was as empty as I on the inside.
I dropped onto the bench and subconciously scooped some food onto my plate, I would eat today I decided. I needed the nourishment. Slowly I buttered a roll and brought it to my lips, my face flinching in disgust at the smell, closing my eyes I opened my mouth and took a small bite and forced myself to chew.
I looked around the hall distracted by the people that groggily made their way to their house tables and began plating their food. It was only a couple seconds later when brown eyes met blue and the heat began to flood into my body again. There he was again, sitting at the Slytherin table next to ferret boy his eyes blazing into mine a frown on his face.
I quirked an eyebrow and went back to eating the miniscule amount that I was able to stomach and stood quickly and rushed out of the hall heading for the library. It was Saturday which meant I could spend the entire day doing as I wished, away from all the students.
'Hermione?' Came a tentitive voice behind me.
Slowly I turned around noticing that the voice belonged to Ginny. 'Hey Gin' I replied, it was easier to pretend nothing was wrong, answering a bunch of questions seemed like the worst possible situation at the moment especially when all I wanted to do was dive into a book and lose myself and my surroundings.
'Are you alright.. you've been a little.. withdrawn lately?' The redhead asked, concern etched into her eyes.
I sighed, Ginny had always been a good friend to me and I appreciated her very much but this wasn't something I could talk to her about, in fact it was something I wasn't able to talk to anyone about. It was a memory that haunted me and they would never look at me the same if they knew. It was my burden to carry and mine alone. I looked her in the eye once more and let a small smile play on my lips. I had gotten better at acting. 'I'm fine Ginny, just stressed about NEWTS and all..' I replied, waving my hand nonchalantly
Ginny gave me a genuine smile, I had obviously been convincing. 'Your going to get the best scores out of everyone, Hermione. Don't stress yourself out so much!' She replied lightly. 'And start eating more!' She added before enveloping me in a hug.
I grimaced at the touch, but thanked her nontheless and made my way to the library. The halls were empty, everyone was still at breakfast thankfully. Pushing open the door to the library I made my way in, Madame Pince clicked her tounge in frustration when she saw me, she had tried pushing me out to 'get sun or do something young adults normally do' yesterday but I hadn't listened. I just ignored her and kept reading, today would be the same I expected.
Dropping my bookbag on the table in the back corner which had become my favorite because of its seclusion I let myself sink into the chair and stared at my hands for a moment. What had I become? Why couldn't I let this go? Giving myself a self-pitying sigh I stood up and walked to one of the bookshelves. My fingers grazed each book as I walked down the aisle, all I had to do was choose a book and it would take me to another place. A place far away from here. If it wasn't for my education which was important to me I would have left long ago.
'What does a book have that the real world doesn't?' A voice said from the shadows.
I nearly jumped out of my skin, I hadn't even heard his footsteps leading up to me, I had obviously been in my own little world. I glanced over at Zabini as he stepped out of the shadows and my flesh started to heat up once more, I didn't quite understand why that always happened when his eyes were on mine but I wasn't sure if I liked it. I looked at his face and for the first time was able to take in everything but his eyes, his tanned skin and slightly thin lips... snapping out of it I looked back into his eyes and saw he was waiting for a reply.
'A book offers.. forgiveness' I said, shocking myself at my honesty.
'What would you possibly need to be forgiven for? Your hard working, you helped save the world, you really don't have a bad bone in you, Granger.' He said softly.
'You'd be mistaken thinking that' I replied, grabbing a book off the shelf and storming away. I don't know what had made me so angry, maybe it was the way he had assumed that I was completely innocent, maybe it was the way that my heart raced faster when he spoke, I really didn't know but I did know that I needed to get away from him. My thoughts were not coherent in his presence and that could be dangerous, he was a Slytherin after all.
'Granger!' He shouted making me speed up. 'Hey! Wait!'
'What?' I snapped, heat flooding my veins although again I couldn't tell whether it was anger or.. I really didn't know. I was confused and that frustrated me which made my brain hurt because obviously I tried to over annalyze everything about the situation.
'What did I say? I didn't mean to offend you..'He said, his eyes shining with honesty.
'I'm sorry.. ' I muttered.
'What's going on with you Granger? Since you've been back you've been different, I can see it clearly. You're not the same girl you once were... ' He replied and when I didn't answer he continued. 'I've been watching you, you know? You rarely smile and when you do it's not a real one, you're barely eating and your dropping weight at a rapid pace, I can tell your barely sleeping and I hear your roomates whisper about the nightmares you have at night..' His voice seemed to trail away.
I did the only thing I knew how anymore and I plastered a fake smile on my face, knowing very well he would see right through it but tried anyway. 'It's just the NEWTS, Zabini. Don't worry about me.' I said kindly and walked away.
A warm hand grabbed me around the wrist and turned me around, I was incredibly close to him and that's all I could focus on, I realized just how tall he was when I stared straight ahead and saw his neck. He smelt like spice and leather and I had to admit I really liked it. I let my eyes flutter closed hoping beyond everything that he would just drop it and leave but he didn't. I knew he wouldn't. There was something incredibly different about Blaise Zabini from the rest of the Slytherins. He seemed almost genuine in his concerns.
'I am worried. I don't know why and I can't explain it but watching you slowly kill yourself is not something that I really enjoy doing.' He said lightly.
'Then don't' I replied bluntly, tugging my hand free of his grasp. I gave him one last glare and grabbed my bookbag and ran out of the library. I heard his frustrated growl but refused to look back.
My shoes slapped against the stone and my chest began to burn as I struggled to get oxygen into my body, I had ran faster than I expect and soon the bright sun shone down on me from the sky. It was surprisingly warm out for October and not a storm cloud in sight. Stopping for a moment to catch my breath I let my eyes wander the courtyard, there were a couple students out here but not enough that made me feel like I needed to leave which I was thankful for, the sun had given me a warmth that I had been missing for quite a while and I decided that sitting in the grass would be a nice way to spend a couple hours.
Letting my shoes slip off I put my bare feet on the grass, I loved that feeling. The feeling of blades of grass in between your toes, the fresh scent of nature swimming around you. It really was a beautiful sight. Even through everything that had happened that was one thing that I could always appreciate - nature. Nature didn't start wars or purposely try to hurt someone, it was beautiful and made her smile despite the inner turmoil sinking within her.
'It's nice to see you smile for once' Came that silky voice I had just ran from. Groaning I looked up at the tall dark boy standing in front of me, scratch that I thought, he was definitly a man. A gorgeous, gorgeous man i admitted to myself in frustration.
'What do you want, Zabini?' I asked gruffly, getting frustrated that he was everywhere when all I wanted was silence and to be alone. 'Are you following me?' I asked suspiciously, her eyes narrowing.
'Yes' He replied simply, a smirk tugging at his lips.
'Why?' I asked meekly. Why couldn't he just leave me alone?
'Would it be so hard to believe that I care, Hermione?' He asked, his use of my first name not going unnoticed.
'Of course it would, Zabini. You're a slytherin, aren't I just dirt under your shoe? I'm just a mudblood, not worthy of your company!' I spat, anger flashing through me so fast it made my head spin. I knew it wasn't right to blame him for my frustration with myself, nor to assume that he was just like Malfoy and the rest of his slimy family but I couldn't help it, I had turned cynical and sarcastic, I really didn't like it but it had become a habit, and habits are hard to break.
He stared at me, his lovely blue eyes staring at me in shock, shaking his head he looked me in the eye and spoke softly. 'Not all of us are like that Hermione, not all of us share the Malfoy's view on muggleborns, you know' His voice sounded sad and ashamed.
'I've been marked a mudblood and that's all I think about when it comes to Slytherins' I said gruffly, ashamed myself at my outburst.
'..Marked?' He asked cautiously 'How does one become marked that term?'
My eyes became dull once more and I just reached out my arm and pulled out my sleeve up exposing the slander that had been carved into my arm. I looked up and my eyes met his, sadness and repulsiveness lingering there and mingling. I pulled my arm away and yanked down my sleeve once more, the silence was defening. I don't really know why I had showed him, I hadn't shown anyone before not even Harry or Ron and I hated myself instantly. I had let this man see something that nobody else had seen and the repulse that shot through his eyes made my heart hurt.
'I'm sorry' I muttered, I wasn't really sure why I was apologizing but I felt the need to. I had obviously disgusted him and that was not something I wanted to do, I don't know what it was about him but when he was around I felt like I couldn't get enough of his gaze or his voice which is why I kept running away from him I suppose.
'Why are you sorry, Hermione?' He asked, dropping to the ground to sit beside me on the grass. 'You are not a mudblood. You are a brave and intelligent muggleborn who deserves a lot of respect' He added.
'Why are you being so nice to me?' I asked, drawing my knees up to my chin and peeking a look at him.
He looked thoughtful for a moment before he answered. 'To be honest, I don't know. I've never hated you, any of you actually, I'm a Slytherin yes but I was never one for the whole 'Slytherins are the only people that should be in this school, to hell with muggleborns and half-bloods' He mimicked, his head rocking side to side as he spoke. 'I don't like being told what to do or who I can talk to so I just chose to be on the sidelines. I've always respected you but lately.. I can't really get you out of my head, your always in my mind and I hate seeing you like this. So frail and meek. You're a strong woman, Hermione. You deserve better than what your doing to yourself' He finished strongly, his eyes searching hers for some kind of emotion.
I had an inner battle with myself at that moment and before I had really decided what to do I spoke the three words that I had been dying to tell someone, hoping that someone would understand. 'I killed someone;' I turned my head to look him full in the face, fear itching inside my stomach.
'Why?' He asked after a moment of silence.
'It's hard to explain.. ' I said quietly. 'It was Rudolphus Lestrange.. during the war we had all agreed not to use unforgiveables, to capture as many as we could to send back to Azkaban... He got the better of me when I wasn't looking' I whispered, barely audible and he had to lean a bit closer to actually hear me. Tears streaked silently down my face as I continued. 'I tried to get him off of me.. I really did.. I was so scared and he just wouldn't let me go!'
'Didn't anyone else help you?' Blaise asked quietly, scared he would upset the witch in front of him.
'We.. we were to far away.. he had dragged me closer to the forest, I can still remember the feeling of his breath on my neck.. his hands on my body' I said. 'He held my hands above my head..' I paused for a moment, I wasn't sure if I could finish telling him my story but I had to admit that it felt good to get it out of my system, for someone else to know what had happened. 'He..'
'He raped you.. didn't he?' Blaise asked, his voice quivering in what I thought was disgust at first but when I looked into his eyes I realized it was anger. I didn't need to answer his question, he saw it in my eyes.
I looked back down at my hands and let the relief wash over me at his words. 'He deserved to die, Hermione. That isn't your fault. It was a war, you were protecting yourself, any sane person would have done the same in your position.' He said strongly, wrapping his arm around me and pushing me to his chest. That was all it took before my silent tears tearned into choked sobs.
I could feel his hand on my back, rubbing up and down my spine in a soothing way. I was surprised when I felt him gently kiss my forehead and I looked up at him. He gave me a small smile and another kiss on the head. 'It will be okay Hermione, don't worry.' He said 'If you keep doing this to yourself your letting him win, you need to be strong, to let the real you come back out of the shell it's hiding in. I can help you if you want, it's going to take time and patience but I will be there for you.' He added, giving me a reassuring smile.
'You're right' I said, sitting up. 'I don't want to let him win. I don't want him to kill me from beyond the grave, I want to be strong again, Blaise. I really do.'
'Well' He said with a smile tugging on his lips. 'The best way to do that is to start with actually eating a full meal. You'll feel better' He replied. My stomach growled in responce and we both started laughing. It felt weird to hear my own laughter echoing in my ears but it was a great feeling and I had the mysterious man in front of me to thank for that.
'Thank you, Blaise' I whispered, leaning my head on his chest once more and breathing in his scent.
'Don't thank me yet, we still have a lot of work to do, witch!' He said jokingly giving me a featherlight kiss on the cheek and jumping up. He had a lot of energy, I could tell, I just hoped some of it would rub off on me as I let out a yawn that I tried to stiffle.
'That meal I was talking about will give you some energy! Which is perfect because it just so happens to be lunch time!' He added happily holding out his hand for me to take which I gladly did, I enjoyed the feeling of his soft palm in mine.
I expected him to let go when I had stood but he didn't instead he gave me a small smile and led me back to the entrance hall. When we reached the doors we gave each other a small smile. I wasn't sure what was happening or what they were going to do, surely they wouldn't walk in hand in hand, that would still cause an uproar from the houses because of who they were. I didn't have to worry though when he stopped her just outside the great hall.
'I'm going to go to the Slytherin table and listen to all the boring gossip they tend to spread but I will tell you now if I do not see you eat a full plate of food I will come over there and hex you into oblivion!' He laughed and I basked in the sound of it, he had a throaty deep chuckle that made my insides melt. I couldn't deny it, I loved his laugh.
I threw my hands in the air in mock surrender. 'Yes sir!' I replied with a small smirk enjoying the laughter that danced in his eyes. We gave each other another smile before walking into the great hall and sitting down for lunch.
I kept to my word and scooped a lot of food onto my plate, a little bit of everything and when I looked over at the man who had helped me so much in the past couple hours I laughed at his raised eyebrow. I grabbed a small sandwich and took a large bite out of it sending him a smirk which he responded to with a wide smile and a bit of laughter.
'You look much better today, 'Mione' Ginny exclaimed happily, giving me a small hug and a toothy grin.
'I feel much better' I replied and for once I was sincere. I gave her a smile and continued to eat all the food on my plate till it was clean and when I looked up again I was staring directly into the eyes I had begun to love so much. Literally. Blaise Zabini had left the Slytherin table and was now sitting across from me.
'I see you cleaned your plate!' He laughed.
I looked around, the entire hall was silent, teachers and students alike stared at us with open shock. I let out a little chuckle and looked back at Blaise who was doing what I just had, looking around. 'For Merlins sake people! The war is over! Don't look so shocked!' He yelled causing everyone to look down at their plates.
I looked up at the head table and noticed the small smile playing on Professor McGonagall's lips, I gave her a weak smile and looked back at Blaise. 'Well.. this is a surprise' I said to which he just cocked his head to the side and popped a grape in his mouth.
The weeks flew by quickly after that day, each day I found myself smiling a little more and because of Blaise's obsession with me eating a healthy meal three times a day I had started to gain some of my weight back. I was actually starting to be happy, I spent more and more time with him saving some time for Ginny of course who was ecstatic that I wasn't ignoring her anymore. Things were starting to go back to normal, I was blaming myself less and less for what had happened during the war, something Blaise had shown me how to do.
He believed in me, he befriended me and slowly it was turning into something else. When we walked anywhere we usually held hands, he always gave me small kisses on the forehead and cheek but nothing more than that. I think he didn't want to scare me which I was thankful for because I was still a little jumpy around men, not him anymore which made me incredibly happy but I didn't want things to move too fast, the thought sent shivers down my spine.
I was lost in my own world when I heard his voice call me from behind. I turned around and a smile fell across my lips. I gave him a hug and lingered in his arms, I felt protected and safe when I was with him, like nothing else mattered in the world.
'Can I talk to you for a moment?'He asked, a nervous fluttering started in my stomach and I must have looked worried for he hastily added that it wasn't anything bad and gave me a shy smile.
'Sure' I replied with a smile of my own and followed him into an empty classroom.
'Hermione..'He started, he was playing with his hands and looking at his feet. 'The past month has been fantastic, I've really enjoyed spending time with you..' He trailed off, he seemed nervous..
'..but?' I asked, he had said it was nothing bad but I couldn't help feel worried. He was what had brought me back, he had taught me to be myself again I wouldn't be able to take it if he left me.
'No buts' He said with a smile. 'I was wondering.. if.. ifyouwouldbemygirlfriend' He rushed out, I looked at him confused, I really hadn't understood a word he had said.
He sighed and looked me in the eyes, I had never seen him nervous before, he was always so confident. 'Will you be my girlfriend?' He asked and I understood him perfectly this time, nervousness crept over me and I bit my lower lip. 'We don't have to do anything that would make you uncomfortable' He said quickly, his voice sounding stronger and I looked up into his eyes. 'All I know is that I can't stand it when I'm not around you, I love the feeling of you in my arms, your the reason I get up in the morning, Hermione Granger'
I felt a sudden warmth swell inside of me, I felt the exact same way around him, my thoughts tumbled inside my head screaming at me to answer him and I did just that. I looked at him and gave him the biggest smile I could muster 'I would love to Blaise Zabini'
Relief swelled inside of him, he had been sure she was going to turn him down, so sure he was going to be rejected but she had said yes. She had made him happier than he had ever been before. He looked down into her eyes, the same eyes that had been empty and emotionless a month ago that were now flooded with warmth and excitement and he slowly brought his head down to her level, never taking his eyes off of her.
I watched as his face came closer and I expected to feel the rush of fear that I was sure was supposed to be there but it wasn't and that was all I needed to close the gap and press my lips against his. I wrapped my arms around his neck and played with his silky smooth hair pulling away to lean my forehead against his.
'Thank you' I whispered, pulling back to look him in the eyes. 'Thank you so much, Blaise'
'For what?' He asked curiously, playing with a lock of my hair gently.
'For being you. For being there for me. For saving me from the darkness I would have drowned in by now'
'You don't need to thank me Hermione, it's been all you. You're the one that has mustered up the courage to forgive yourself, you're the one who has stayed strong throught this process.' He told me proudly. 'You're the one who has made me completely and utterly fall in love with you' He added in a whisper, searching my face for a reaction.
Surprised I looked at him and searched for a sign that he was joking or even lying but I couldn't find one. 'What a coincidence, Mr.Zabini' I replied smoothly 'I just so happened to have fallen in love with you as well.'
I had surprised even myself with that confession but Blaise stood there with a smile so big I'm surprised it fit on his face before he leaned down and gave me another passionate kiss and put his arms around me and lifted me in the air, spinning me around.
'You just made me the happiest man in the world'
I gave him shy smile. 'It's the least I could do' I said 'You saved me'
For the first time in my life I was in love, in love with a man that loved me back, that appreciated me and would never hurt me. I knew all of these things and that just made me love him more. Soon people stopped staring at us, we weren't the top news anymore. Ginny had accepted Blaise as soon as she found out that he was the reason I had started to heal and with Blaise's encouragement I had told her what had happened during the war, to my surprise she wasn't angry or disgusted she had been sad, sad that she hadn't been there to help me, sad that I hadn't told her about it in the first place and sad that she hadn't realized that was the real reason I had been so anti-social.
I looked around once more, no longer did I see memories from the war hidden everywhere around the castle, instead I saw new memories that Blaise, Ginny and I had made. Things were looking great for me, I didn't have an ounce of sadness left in me, there really was no space with how much happiness and love swirled around inside my body just ready to burst.
I had been healed. Blaise truly was my knight in shining armor and I was his damsel in distress. Or at least I was.