It’s funny what sticks with you after people are gone.
She wants to remember red lipstick and long pale cigarettes. Puckered lips. Breathing in death, trading it for the life within your lungs because youth is like that: reckless and stupid. Chasing after laughter like a child after a bubble. She wants to remember the murmur of her voice and the way she used to climb into bed with her in the middle of the night, slipping underneath the covers with ice-cold toes and whiskey for breath. She wants to remember nights covered in whispered confessions with the moonlight painting youth across their hollow bones. She wants to remember the good.
Instead, she remembers her splitting smile, blood coating her perfect teeth.
Good things come in threes, but so do bad things. Victoire met her end on her second bad thing. Supposedly, the world forgot to count that day. She claimed love was just another ill-disguised evil and broke the soft resonating ticker of social inheritance coming full circle through a thirst for books and equations, and traded empty bottles for engagement rings. Said it was better to make life humble instead of the other way around.
It takes her until eighteen to figure out what Victoire meant.
The static of the radio nearly drowns out her low breathing as she pushes against the damp wall, muscles pulled taut. The yellowing wallpaper shreds from its bindings with a muted rip, a tear slowly eating into the flowery paper. With controlled precise, the tall girl pulls the cover off the wall. A slow smile spreads across her lips as she eyes the bare surface. It’s taken her the entire day to clean just this room, but the end-result assures her that her efforts will bear fruit.
The soft sonata of Madame Bletchley fills the room and hurriedly, she switches the station of the battered radio. Silence fills the room briefly, so astute that her breath catches in the back of her throat.
Victoire had loved that song.
It is too soon, much too soon for reminiscence. The shadow of her sister has barely eased to dust and the seasons have not yet passed her by in nearly enough circles for Victoire to be remembered with adoration. Her death still only calls for silences and the broken sounds of fragmented people drifting into nothing.
Outside, the rain has been coming down for weeks. It’s left the skies thick with mist and the road leading away from her newly acquired home seeping with liquid and impossible to pass. She has been stuck here for days, months - years. Time has ceased to hold any meaning and now all she can commit to are these four walls of this foreign place she has dubbed home. It had been Victoire's. There is nothing in her life she owns, which hasn’t been her big sister’s beforehand.
If she commits this house to her body, surely in return it will commit her mind?
September is slowly dwindling downhill and the hollow hole of absence is one she has yet to fill. The 1st passed her much too easily with the greetings of a distant friend she has yet to disregard. She ignores the pang of longing as the month slowly ebbs away with the sunlight, replaced by a new sheet of paper and a cold that inches itself closer and closer to her body. In the dark it is like winter, with the perturbing feeling of a storm coming.
She tries to forget the warmth of a school whose distance is more than just the miles dividing them. She walks the vacant hallways, her steps seemingly walking before her, tracing lost memories of people she never knew. She walks on until she too will pace those mirrored steps.
She has dedicated a wall in her honour. It’s been painted sunshine-yellow with wilted green at its foot. Across every acre of it there are postcards from each corner of the world scattered in a mess of Victoire. Pictures of the highest mountains, the deepest valleys and the driest deserts all lined up in kaleidoscope parades. It’ll be the closest she’ll ever get to seeing anything across this wide ocean.
Victoire’s loopy scribble calls to her and she traces the r’s
with tenderness. She’s done them the same way as her. Those are the waves of the past that keep pressing her forward. It’s the slightest hint that there is at least some similarity between the genius sister and her.
Thunder rattles the windows, stealing her attention once more. She presses a small hand against the cold window, eyeing the water snaking down in mournful tears. Victoire never lived in the house, yet she can feel the ghost of her playing in the corners. Over a decade has passed since anyone has vacated the crumbling lodge, but the photographs of their grandparents still adorn the walls. The faces are unfamiliar but she recognizes the button noses and wide cheeks in the glass-reflections. It’s like a wave from the past and she takes comfort in this.
A lightening splits the sky in two, shedding light upon her surroundings. Night has fallen without her noticing. Lately, time has passed with much ease, a trait she still cannot quite forgive.
Something else comes with the time, something she’ll never forgive.
She has not heard him thread behind her, nor has she ever heard her name fall from his tender lips. She doesn’t even know how he’s entered the house she’s been living in ever since graduation. The dread that should surely fill her wavers, but she’s been numb for six months so emotions tend to lack in strength. She tries to muster a tinker of thrill, chasing after it like a frustrated thespian. She fails, like most things. It’s doubtful, even to her, how much damage he could generate. Honour-roll students have never really had much artistic flow to them.
She studies his reflection in the window, keeping her back turned on him. It’s one last weak defence against his tall form. He looks the same, but she hasn’t seen his face for three years, so assessments are kind of blurry. She didn’t even know he knew her name.
Of course everyone knows his name. She tries to brush off the memory of his wide grin, arms fawning over both the House cup and the Quidditch cup. She had just been fifteen then, but Victoire, who shared his birth year, had made sure she never forgot her competition.
They had both been geniuses. Both Head boy and girl, both meant for something more. Each took their different paths. At twenty-one, Scorpius is a world renowned Herbologist with every opportunity at his feet. At twenty-one, the only ones who see Victoire’s beauty are the worms crippling in the mould Scorpius so eagerly studies.
“Do you usually greet visitors with your back turned?”
“I don’t remember inviting you in,” she breathes to the spatter of the rain, the sharp hint of paint and powder stinging her eyes. “It seems you managed that all by yourself.”
There is a shift and a murmur and then Scorpius’s voice comes out closer to her left, nearly falling away to the gentle sound of the rain. The radio is silent, yet she cannot remember ever turning it off.
“Please turn around, Dominique.”
She turns, readying to set the Malfoy bloke straight. What meets her eyes halts her. Scorpius drinks in her face, a smile playing on the corner of his lip. She’s dimly aware that her breath is shallow in her chest. Some moments pass between them, one after another, until all she can hear is the skidding patter of liquid raging against her home. Scorpius's eyes are wide.
“You look just like your sister.”
An exhale pushes through her chest, releasing a breath she didn’t know she had been holding.
“That’s a lie
It is not until then that she notices the long stream of crystalized air that forms with each exhale he makes and the pale, flickering silhouette of him. It slowly registers with her that the house is warm. Astounded, she eyes the form of Scorpius Malfoy.
“You’re – you’re –“
She reaches out a quivering hand to touch his face, mesmerized by the moonlight shine to his steel eyes. He reaches a velvet-clouded hand up to linger by her palm, his eyes aglow as he finishes the sentence for her.