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Chapter 1 : The Ending Is Only the Beginning
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Though the Potterverse is J.K. Rowling’s, I hope you enjoy what I’ve done with this small part of it!
This is the end, but it’s only the beginning.
Melinda Plinkett loitered on the Grand Staircase of Hogwarts, passing time by conjuring birds and butterflies with her wand. They flitted about her head in a swirl of explosive pinks, greens, purples, and blues, sometimes alighting on the bewitching pink flower that perched jauntily in her long brown hair. As the clock struck four, she looked up and Vanished her whimsical creations. Albus Potter didn’t approve of such frivolity, and he was never late for their meetings.
Sure enough, he turned the corner just after she Vanished the last rogue butterfly. He presented himself in his usual regal manner, back straight, head high. The afternoon sunlight streaming in from the tall windows highlighted his glossy black hair and glinted off his horn-rimmed glasses. He had never looked so perfect, and she had never been so unhappy to see him.
This is it, she thought as she stood to meet his stiff embrace with as much warmth as she possibly could muster. She smiled sadly, though he couldn’t see her face, and whispered her greeting into his shoulder. “Hello, Albus.”
When the dashing Slytherin had asked the eccentric Ravenclaw to Hogsmeade nearly a year and eight months ago, for Valentine’s Day of fourth year, they set the gossips chattering. He was her first boyfriend and her first kiss. He fell for her, hard, and she fell for him harder. During O.W.L. year, while many relationships were wracked with stormy arguments caused by exam stress, Albus and Melinda continued to be the perfect couple. Their relationship was a fairy tale, and everything was perfect.
Until now, that is.
Albus kissed her forehead and smoothly ended the embrace. “Hello. You said you wanted to speak to me?”
His brilliant green eyes bore into her soft blue ones, but they were no longer friendly. Where she once saw loving acceptance, she now saw cold calculation.
Nervously twirling her fingers in her long brown hair, (A rather bad habit, he thought), she sighed. “Yes. I would like to talk about us.”
“Our fight last night. It set me to thinking.”
The beginning of sixth year had brought turmoil to their relationship. These days, it seemed like they had nothing pleasant to say to each other. They disagreed on everything, from her fascination with flora and fauna to his obsession with making the right connections in the Ministry. They couldn’t even agree on Quidditch teams or homework anymore. The fights heated up and became more frequent, starting out with one small insult and growing into an unfriendly competition to see who could ignore whom the longest. Every other week, a new problem arose to dampen their sputtering flames for each other. But they had always worked things out in the past.
Albus considered this time to be no different. “I thought a lot, too,” he answered. “And I want us both to forget about it. It wasn’t any big deal, was it?”
Melinda knew it was a lie. He never thought about their fights now because they were so numerous. He had a busy schedule. It had become all too easy for him to give her a quick apology and a passionate kiss in an abandoned corridor before hurrying away to his next appointment.
She refused to let him do that to her again.
“Actually, Albus, it was.” As his expression changed to a disapproving frown, she almost regretted her words, but there was no way to turn back now. “These fights have taken a toll on our relationship. I know that, and so do you.”
He said nothing, but his eyes sternly warned her not to go on. She disobeyed him.
“I think it’s unfair to both of us that we can’t find common ground. Our styles have changed, our interests have grown apart. You can’t stand the flowers I wear in my hair, and I can’t understand why.” She paused, straightening her enormous pink flower out of nervous habit rather than its need to be adjusted.
Albus saw where her train of thought was heading, and he decided to quash her doubts on the spot. “Dear, dear Melinda.” He shook his head, chuckling humorlessly. “I’m not going to break up with you because of the flowers. But there are some things that I will never understand, and those ridiculous botanical headdresses are only the beginning. As I said last night, if you were to wear smaller flowers, our problems would be solved. You would draw less attention to yourself, and we would both be happier.”
Her eyes flashed slightly as they met his. “Even now, you still won’t believe that I don’t wear these flowers for attention. For the love of Merlin, how many times have I told you that I wear them solely for the pleasure of myself?! You can’t accept me as I am anymore, and I can’t accept your unacceptance!” She realized how angry and childish she sounded (was “unacceptance even a word?), and tried to regain some composure.
In a calmer tone, she continued. “This is what I mean, Albus. We can’t see eye to eye on anything, regardless of the topic. We can’t keep doing this to ourselves.”
In those last moments, he found himself scrambling to save the crumbling world they had cherished for so long. “We can work it out, Melinda. We can do it for each other.”
Even he was not convinced by his too-bright smile. It was fake, it was all fake, and they both knew it was fake. His Slytherin deception was his last defense, and he knew she could see right through it. She was a Ravenclaw, for crying out loud! And she knew him all too well. She wasn’t stupid.
As her face softened, he had a moment of relief. She believed him, for once. Everything would be fine.
But instead of muttering another worn-out apology and a promise to ‘try harder next time,’ she took his hand. “No, Albus. It’s too late for us. We can’t save something that isn’t there anymore. It isn’t your fault, and it isn’t mine. It’s just a fact. We don’t belong together anymore.” In spite of her brave face, her eyes were bright with the promise of tears. “I’m sorry.”
He was too late to save their world, and at that moment, he found that he just didn’t care. “So this is how it ends. A quick hug, a quick kiss, and then… No looking back. This is what you wanted all along, isn’t it?”
Before she could deny the accusation, he drew her into another stiff embrace that she barely had a chance to return. He lifted her chin with his index finger and kissed her lips faster and lighter than a butterfly alighting on a flower. Her lips tasted of regret and heartache, but his heart was turned to stone.
One last kiss that sparked no emotion, one last embrace that ended before it began. This is what they were reduced to, and though they were both relieved, it hurt like nothing had ever hurt before.
His face was impassive, unsympathetic, but there was sadness behind his words. “This is goodbye, Plinkett. Don’t expect us to be friends.”
She knew his pain, and felt sorry for wounding his pride. “Yes, Albus. I wouldn’t expect that at all.”
As he stalked away from a year and eight months of happiness, he almost felt bad for her—almost—but he thought that it was no fault of his own.
As she watched him carry his bruised pride away from her, her heart went out to him, but she knew it was for the best.
They couldn’t know that their thoughts, in this melancholy moment, were somehow exactly the same:
Better to be happy alone than miserable together.
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