Chapter 1 : radiance
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She had this effect on him, this thing that she would do to him without even trying. He didn’t even think she was aware that she was doing it to him at all. Her brilliance simply blinded him, made him lose every trace of his thoughts. She was like a summer’s breeze, scattering all his mental capacities to the distant areas of the planet.
That was his problem. She made his mind stop working, and he always wound up acting like a bigger prat than usual. That was why she hated him. It was her fault, really. Her fault that she was a thousand shades of perfection.
It’s not like he hadn’t tried to tell her. But now he was just tired, so very tired of the constant rejection. He was tired, so he gave up. Not on her - never on her. He just gave up on being the one who would have her forever. But he would never give up on his love for her.
He always drove her insane. She couldn’t take it anymore, the way he would just sit there, all suave with his devil-may-care attitude. She swore he was doing it on purpose. He did everything on purpose. He even breathed on purpose. To get under her skin, most likely. It was just the way he was. And she knew that he was doing this on purpose as well - he was doing it to get to her, payback for rejecting him all those years ago.
He knew. He had to know. He had to know that she had finally decided to give in to him. She was making it so obvious for him; he’d have to be completely blind not to see it. Of course, he did have those glasses...
But regardless, she had reached her limit. Even Peter knew how she felt about him, for Godric’s sake. Peter, who had taken three weeks to figure out that Dorcas Meadowes fancied him after she’d kissed him at Christmas.
It was ridiculous. Simply ridiculous. If he didn’t know by now, she didn’t know what she’d have to do to get him to understand. Maybe if she wrote it on that bloody Quaffle he’d actually see it. He always was prattling on about Quidditch, after all.
Maybe she could even fling it at his face. He’d be hard pressed to be oblivious to that.
She was always completely oblivious to his presence.
Today, for example. He watched as she floated by him, chattering loudly with all of her friends, completely unaware that he was standing not twenty metres away, unable to tear his eyes from her. The breeze had caught her hair, whipping it gently around the nape of her neck, the sun gleaming off of her brilliant red locks. Although he couldn’t see it from where he was, he knew that her emerald eyes were dancing with gaiety at the prospect of another day in the village.
He knew exactly the way the flecks of darker green would catch the light. The way her eyelids would flutter when she tossed her head back and laughed. He knew the trace of freckles over the bridge of her nose, the shape of her eyes, the light scar on her cheek.
He had her completely memorised, etched forever in his head. He needed to have every detail saved so he could always remember her. He knew that after this year was over he would never see her again. Not really. Maybe once in passing in Diagon Alley, or possibly at the Order if they both decided to join. But never again would he be this close to her, to her radiance and glow.
He sighed heavily and took a seat on the grassy hillside that sloped down towards the lake. All around him people whirled, a multicoloured mass of images and sounds. The world swirled without pause, yet he felt stuck.
He was alone.
He didn’t deal well with loneliness. He had this need to be noticed, he needed to be seen. But right then, sitting on that hill, he felt invisible. Although his fellow classmates bumped into him, said hello, asked politely what he planned to do in Hogsmeade, it didn’t matter.
None of it mattered. All he really wanted was to be seen by her. And for some reason, she was the only one who couldn’t see him. No, not couldn’t.
Wouldn’t. She wouldn’t. She would ignore him until the end of time - or at least until her patience gave out - and then she would scream at him until her face turned red and her voice was shot.
He longed for those moments. Those moments when she would whip around, pure fury written across her face, and pierce him with those eyes. Those dazzling, brilliant eyes. In those moments, he didn’t care about how much she disliked him, because it meant that she acknowledged his existence.
His eyes lingered on her as she forced her way through the crowd. Even though the world was just a meaningless palette of colour around him, she stood out in sharp focus. Her mouth opened; she was yelling something. He strained his ears to hear her voice, no matter what she was saying.
“Potter!” That was the word she was shouting above the hub. “Potter!”
Now she was waving furiously at someone, probably at some git with a crush on her -
His heart froze in his chest, then resumed at double its pace, blood pounding furiously through his veins, throbbing in his head. His name was Potter. She was waving at him.
She stepped daintily towards him, slicing through the crowd like a queen. The world parted for her, the people revolved around her; she was the sun. He felt the electricity fill his veins as she grew closer and closer.
She set his world on fire.
He made her blood boil.
She tapped her foot impatiently as she glared down at him, temper shortening with every minute. She didn’t know how it was possible for one person to be so completely infuriating.
And he wasn’t even doing anything! That was the kicker. All it took was for him to lounge lazily on the hill, glasses slipping down his nose, hair just as messy as the day she had met him.
She quite simply didn’t know how he did it. It was almost an art form, the way he was able to aggravate her. She supposed he must practise it in whatever spare time he had.
How someone could be so infuriating by simply doing nothing was beyond her. But he had achieved it.
That was really it though, wasn’t it? The fact that he was doing nothing. That’s what was driving her crazy. She wished he would just stop being so... nonchalant. It was irritating. She wanted him to watch her around like he used to. Call her Evans. Blow something up to get her attention. When he acted like that, she at least knew that she existed in his world.
She wondered what it was like in there, in his head. Did she even matter to him anymore? Or was she just another remote pinprick of light, one of the thousands of distant stars in his galaxy?
She pulled him into her orbit. He was drawn to her, and willingly so. Maybe it hadn’t started out that way; maybe she hadn’t always been magnetic to him. Come to think of it, though, he had always been a bit intrigued by her.
She was different. Always had been. Not just because she didn't notice him like the others did. No, he could have handled that. He could have ignored it, even. It was more this drive that she had - this desire to prove herself, push herself - that fascinated him. When it seemed like everyone else was just skimming along in school, he would find her asleep in the common room at three in the morning, head dropped on top of a book.
He could sit there and study her for ages, mesmerised by her presence. And when he was done, he would organise her books for her because he knew - he knew - that she would be a complete mess in the morning. She could barely function enough to breathe properly when she woke, forget gathering up all her things for class.
But he never told her what he did. She always thought it was the house elves.
Maybe it was because she hadn’t told him. She hadn’t told him that she was entranced by him. She hadn’t told him that when they worked on the Prefect timetables together she could never truly focus because he was so near.
Sometimes she simply etched meaningless lines of nothing into the parchment because she was so absorbed by his presence.
She told herself it was silly. It was a childish crush, nothing more. Yes, she was attracted to him, and she’d have been foolish not to be. But that was only skin deep, and she was smarter than that. She tried to convince herself that he was nothing more than a good-looking young boy - no, not a boy. A man.
He was a man now.
It was hard to believe that they had come so far. Seven years. All gone like that.
Yes, he was a young man. And she wasn’t a little girl anymore. She was an adult, poised on the precipice, about to take the plunge into the dangerous world outside of school. And this crush, it was just... idiotic.
Nonsensical. That’s what it was.
She really shouldn’t have let herself be affected by him. It distracted her. He distracted her. And distractions weren’t good.
Not when there was a war going on. Not when there were people dying every day. Not when everything was so filled with pain, so filled with suffering. No, she needed to say focused. Her time at the castle was ticking to an end. Soon she would be out there and she couldn’t be distracted.
Distraction could be deadly.
She was such a beautiful distraction.
He could spend hours gazing at her, searching every line on her face, every colour illuminated in her eyes.
She didn’t realise how beautiful she was.
He didn’t realise how irritating he was.
This was just like him, really.
She stood there, hands on her hips, foot tapping impatiently, giving herself to him, and he did nothing.
He just sat there.
And it infuriated her.
Honestly. There she was, practically serving herself up on a silver platter - ugh. He had done it before; it wasn’t like he didn’t know what to say or how to phrase it. All she wanted was for him to say those seven simple words, like he had to so many other girls before.
Will you go to Hogsmeade with me?
It really wasn’t that difficult. Seven words. That’s all it would take.
And yet, there he sat, lounging lazily on the hillside, glancing up at her through half-closed eyes as the breeze ruffled through his hair, voice aggravatingly silent. And, to top it all off -
“Can I help you with something?”
He thought she was about to burst a vessel from the look on her face. He never really understood why he bothered her so much. He just... did. He didn’t even mean to anymore, but it was like everything about him made her chafe.
So much for suave.
Well, at least he still had handsome. At least he hoped he did.
He could never really tell with her. She never gave him the slightest inclination that she found him - gasp - attractive. It was weird. And he didn’t like it.
“Well?” he demanded suddenly.
Hell, he was angry. She had no right to stand there, glaring at him like he’d done something wrong. He didn’t even bug her anymore. He left her alone, just like she wanted. And now she had the nerve - the gall - the Gryffindor recklessness - to stand there and act like he should be -
“Potter,” she said flatly, “as far as I know, you are venturing down into Hogsmeade today. So, it only seems fitting that we - er - spend the day in each other’s company. You know, as Head Boy and Girl.”
“Why Evans, I thought you'd never ask.”
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