Chapter 4 : The Stuff of Dreams
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Red bricks fell apart; yellowing wallpaper peeled in long, thin strips. The furniture, when touched, disintegrated with a puff of moldy dust.
Where light and happiness once dwelled, darkness and melancholy now festered.
It was no longer suitable to inhabit; as it slowly descended into ruin, it was condemned by those who peeked at it through their curtain windows.
She met him there in a dream, caught between the place where she was going and the place from which she had come. His face was like a melody, soured by age but sweetened by the time that had passed.
He found her there by accident, unable to destroy the thoughts that his mind kept dredging up to disturb his slumber. Her eyes were like old sapphires, scratched on the surface but sparkling underneath.
They glanced at each other and looked away, trying to ignore each other, to escape from the prison that had once held them for so long. But the doors caved in, and there was no way out. They had no choice but to meet once more.
Her defenses fell first. She never meant any harm to him, but her actions had wounded him just as much as his words had wounded her. Ignoring the snow of plaster from the ceiling, she glided over to where he stood by the piano.
His back was turned. He never asked for this to happen. He refused to break; he could not break, for it would again mark him as a coward. A man who could not stand on his own rules. It was simple enough to ignore the delicate tap on his shoulder.
But he could not ignore her words.
“I’m sorry I hurt you.” It was only a whisper, but her voice echoed loudly in his ears. “I’m sorry it had to end this way. I’m sorry that we changed and I’m sorry for the pain it caused.”
Even in dreams, she was apologizing. He hated her for that, hated that she was brave enough to admit when she was wrong. But that time, she was right. He was wrong, he made all the worst mistakes, and he now knew the consequences of those mistakes.
There was nothing else for him to do. He spun around quickly—too quickly, pushing the abused piano closer to the gaping hole in the floor. She stepped back at his sudden action, and he felt that sense of control run through his veins, just like the old days. It was weaker now, stale, more a memory than a true feeling. It was gone before he was fully aware that it had come. He no longer controlled her, and maybe he never did.
His barriers crumbled and came crashing down with the moldy oil paintings on the fading pink walls. He seemed to shrink before her eyes.
“No, Melinda. It wasn’t your fault then, and it isn’t your fault now. I made a choice, a long time ago, to hide the truth and spin a web of lies. I selfishly kept my secrets locked in a box in my chest, and I hurt the ones I loved when I threw away the key. I should have let you out of your cage when I knew it was time, so that you could fly free. But you were my prize, and I wanted you for myself. You set yourself free to fly high in the skies, but I am still chained to the memory of what I am and what I did to you. There is no heart that could forgive me, no antidote to relieve me of my disease. I am a coward, and I let this house fall into ruin.”
He hung his head. A silver tear fell from his eye. She took his hand. Her voice was kind.
“You are not a coward, Albus. You were my hero, my everything. You saved me from solitude. And you are brave to admit your mistakes. However, this house no longer matters to me. I cherish the memories that were made inside, but it’s time for us to let go.”
He looked up. There were tears in her eyes, but they were not sad. He squeezed her hand.
“Thank you, Melinda, but I’m trapped. You saved me from myself, but now you’re gone. How do we let go?”
Their lips did not move, but a voice rushed through the corridors. A voice of two souls that were once entwined.
“Relish the memories, forgive the hurt. Show no malice, cause no harm. Never forget what you have learned.”
Their forms shimmered in the gloomy room, and the house fell to the ground.
A year had passed. Albus Potter and Melinda Plinkett were well into their seventh year at Hogwarts, but neither could forget what had happened between them. It was always following them, lurking around corners, hiding under beds. The guilt.
Midnight. The last stroke of the clock awoke them from a particularly unusual dream. They both felt a sudden urge to go to the place where their ending began.
The Grand Staircase. They arrived at the same time, she at the top of the stairs, he at the bottom. He grasped the banister tightly when he saw her there.
“Hello, Albus,” she called down to him, her voice as sweet as it ever was.
Words came too quickly at this time of night. He answered the question that she had not asked. “I had a strange dream.”
She laughed. The sound sparkled in the darkness. “What a coincidence. I did, too. What did you dream about?”
“You.” Why couldn’t he ignore her? Why couldn’t he walk away?
Again, that infuriating laugh. “How odd. I dreamed of you, too.”
“You apologized to me.” Why couldn’t he stop talking?!
“That I did. And you admitted your mistakes to me.”
She took a few steps down, and he took a few steps up. He felt drawn to her, as if there was something that needed to be settled between them.
“I’m sorry, Albus. For all the things I did wrong, and for all the heartache that we had.”
He pushed his cowardice away for a moment, focusing on the deed he had to do. “No. I’m sorry, Melinda. I tried to control you, and that was wrong.”
As they spoke, they closed the gap between them until there was only one more step. Simultaneously, they took that step, standing side-by-side in the middle of the staircase. He looked at her, squinting to see her expression through the darkness. She was smiling.
He held out his hand. “Let’s promise each other that we’ll do the things that the dream asked.”
Her eyebrows lifted in surprise, but she was pleased. She accepted his handshake. “I promise. It may have ended between us, but we don’t have to end it badly.”
“Truer words were never spoken.”
Time has passed, and they have grown older, but they have not forgotten their promise. A spark was kindled that night—not a flame of love or romance, but a tiny ember of understanding. That night, they accepted their fate and parted ways. There was no need for further communication. Understanding was enough.
Equilibrium has been reached, and their spheres of interaction—separate, but still somehow similar—are all the better for it.
Dreams can be more powerful than grudges, if only we act upon them. The magic within us all, hidden only until it is needed, can repair even the most dreadful of actions.
Author’s Note: Wow… I can’t believe that this is the last chapter of my very first FINISHED story!! I’m so excited that I was able to do this, but I wouldn’t have been able to do it at all if it weren’t for a few people:
Here’s to LyrisLovegood, who created the challenge and reviewed every chapter. That was quite lovely of you!!
Here’s to StormThief17, who reviewed when I requested and was ever-so-fantabulous when she did.
You guys are lovely, and so are the rest of you who read and reviewed this!! : )