Chapter 12 : The Horror
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Chapter image by Naala @ TDA!
A brunette girl helps me to my feet.
“Are you alright?” she asks urgently, brushing the dirt from my knees and hands where I realize I must have been crouched in the dirt.
“Yeah,” I say shakily, clearing my head a little. The pounding and the sense of wicked has retreated: my mind is my own once again.
“That was awful,” the girl says sympathetically. “Here, why don’t you walk back up to the castle with me? My friends have gone ahead with Hagrid- he’s taking Katie to the hospital.”
“I don’t know: she touched something, it was wrapped in that brown paper, its what they were fighting over. Whatever it was must have been cursed.” The girl bites her lip. “Do you know why it affected you so much?”
“No, I was just, er, shocked,” I reply, not really sure what to tell her. I think I know which girl this is, but regardless I need her to lean on for the walk back up to the castle: my legs are too shaky on their own.
The girl is quiet as we walk. Once in the Entrance Hall, she excuses herself, saying she needs to check on her friends. No sooner has her bushy hair disappeared than Draco Malfoy storms in grandly, face a bit red from the cold, bringing in a draft from the fall wind.
He passes me and bumps into my shoulder, hard.
“Fraternizing with filth, are we now, Greengrass?” He calls over his shoulder. “Just wait until my Master hears about this.”
A cold shudder passes through my body, even though I’m sure Malfoy is bluffing. And then the tears are flowing: weakly, like a child, I clumsily run to the stairs.
Still crying, I duck behind the sad suit of armor and through the false wall. Wiping my eyes earnestly, I tumble more than walk into the secret room.
Boot is there, back from Hogsmeade, tucked up with a book in the windowsill. Through my fear I cannot help but appreciate how casually handsome he is. He is wearing jeans and a blue pullover which looks like it would be soft to touch.
“Tor,” he says, startled. “Hey… what’s wrong? What happened?”
I sob even harder as I tell him about what I witnessed: the Gryffindor girl floating eerily up into the air, her horrible silent scream. I tell him how I sensed her mind, felt it invade my own, as if the wicked power which possessed her was trying to penetrate myself as well.
“I feel as if I’ve felt true evil,” I tell him. “I’ve never felt something like that before.” I meet his blue eyes, a part of my mind thinking what a freak I must seem like to him, always so calm. I only leave out Malfoy’s threat.
Boot listens. He’s the perfect confidant: non-judgmental, sympathetic, silent. When I am finished he pulls me over to his perch, the window sill, and seats me upon it like I am a delicate child.
“These are dark times,” he says the familiar words to me. “We should be glad it didn’t turn out any worse. Poor Katie… but she’s not dead, right? She’ll survive.” A rueful smile tugs at his face. “She’ll live so we can whup her ass in Quidditch later.”
Though I could have never thought it possible, I smile back at him. He pulls himself up onto the window seat across from me, so we are each leaning against the cool stone walls, facing each other. From here, I have a splendid view of the lake, the grounds. Down by the forest, Hagrid is playing fetch with his great dog, throwing what looks like a small log.
“Tell me about something,” I blurt out to Boot. My knees are pulled up to my chest. If I leaned them a little to the right, we would be touching.
He- the boy- Boot smiles at me.
“You’re a demanding one today, Feisty,” he says, returning to a teasing voice.
“Please,” I respond, resisting the urge to poke him with my wand. “I need to be distracted. Read me a poem about the revolution, or read me something you’ve written. I know its silly, but please.”
He thinks for a moment.
“Imagine the lord of the sun,” he recites smoothly. “And the lord of the moon. He is the lord of the light. He is primitive, yes, but mighty, as large as the planets yet as small that he could perch upon a blade of grass. With his brothers and sisters, he rules the cosmos.”
I lean my head back against the stone wall, letting the soothing sound of the words fill me with light and peace.
“He is a leader, the god of light and movement. But he knows. They all do, though some are too thick to realize it.”
“Uh, what do they know?”
“That they are destined to fall. For a new power is coming out of the current one, a power so new and mighty that was born to beat them down. The lord of the light is no more.”
“But light is still here.” I say, confused about the meaning of this myth.
“Yes,” Boot concedes, “but the lord is beaten down and nothing but his legacy to maintain.”
“Who is he?” I ask, missing the point of this story but fascinated by his way with words.
Boot grins. “He is Hyperion. He’s a Titan.”
“A Titan,” I repeat.
“Yes. My mother loves Greek mythology. So she picked Hyperion for my middle name, for the fallen Titan whose light still shines. She liked to make up stories about the first Hyperion: as if he was some hero, when really he was just a rather thick primitive deity who never did anything remarkable. Honestly, I’d have preferred being called Zeus.”
I laugh out loud. “That’s a ridiculous name.” I try it on my tongue. “Terry Hyperion Boot. Ha!”
Boot shrugs. “Otherwise, my name would be as boring as they come. If I was a girl, I would have been named Aphrodite or worse.”
“I think I have a cousin called Aphrodite.”
“You crazy purebloods! Oh, another funny thing about the Titans: they originally destroyed their own father to rule the cosmos, then were in turn vanquished by their offspring. So really, what goes around comes around.”
“Fair enough. I’d be pretty mad at my kids if they defeated me for the family fortune or something.”
“Its not quite the entire cosmos, but I guess still something to play for.” He grins cheekily and absently twirls his wand, making it spew out little flames.
“Stop that,” I laugh, grabbing his wand hand to keep it steady. For a moment, my cold, winter-chilled hand is wrapped around his skin, and my laugh ends itself abruptly. I am nervous and want to run away. But nothing could tear me away from this place, this boy, in this moment when I need him. Leanne Briar, currently crying in Dumbledore’s office, is forgotten. Malfoy, sliming about in the dungeons, matters not.
We stare at each other but its anything but awkward. Boot is the first to pull away, settling his wand arm down. I am pleased to see that he has blushed a light pink.
“I should go,” I fumble, unsure how to deal with this silent staring contest, this tense moment of light and possibility. “I should.. check, er-”
I turn around, and he is there, in front of me, so close. He laughs a little and his sweet breath, smelling of mint gum, and like delicious, warm boy and Madame Malkin’s softening laundry detergent.
Boot is only a few inches taller than me, and his hand gently reaches for me, his fingers grazing my face. I am frozen like no magic could hold me, eyes fixed upon his blue gaze, his slightly upturned lips, his floppy fringe. Hesitantly, I reach up and brush it away from his eyelashes.
He tilts my head up towards his face.
“Don’t move,” he whispers to me. As if I would if I could. “I think you’re amazing,” he says, and I have been told not to move, but my traitorous body does of its own accord, leaning towards him, urging itself forward to touch him.
His lips lower slowly, too slowly, and gently brush against my own. It’s a half-kiss, a promise kiss, testing the waters. Every nerve of my body tenses with excitement. His lips are closer to mine, pressing down so slowly on my bottom lip, then increasing in pressure. Like a cut, like a snap, a wall is broken, and my body is pressed against his, my back against the wall, pushing against him as if every body part could touch. I bury my fingers in his hair, tipping my head back, his hand stroking the soft area between my ear and hairline.
This is what it means to be kissed. Boot’s body is lean but solid, slim but strong. Each time one of us begins to pull back the other one pulls them back in. His hand finds mine and holds it tight.
How long has it been? Hours? Years? Seconds? Before we pull back from each other. I realize in embarrassment that I am perched up against the wall, feet arched in an effort to get closer to him. Boot pulls back and ruffles his own hair in comfortable awkwardness.
I laugh. “Wow.”
“Wow,” he agrees, breathlessly placing a careful, slow kiss on my lips. He moves on to each cheek, to my nose, to my neck, soft tender kisses that leave me wanting more.
Now that we have kissed, I feel I know him. Terry Hyperion Boot. I want to know him, to know everything about him.
“What are your parents’ names?” I murmur, as his hand grazes my waist, chastely running over my body as if to make sure I’m all in one piece.
He laughs, and the sound echoes against my ribs. “Christy and Terrance. Terrance the First. You have siblings?”
“One. Bratty elder sister.” I lean in to touch his neck, run my fingers along his collarbone.
“Ah, right,” he says. “Daphne.”
I don’t want to talk about Daphne.
“Two younger brothers. Thomas and Andrew, each with more embarrassing middle names than the last.” Never before has anyone smiled to me like that. I could get used to this.
“Are they at Hogwarts yet?” I ask. I always wish I had younger siblings to play with, instead of a bossy elder sister. I would have been kind to them.
“Well, they go to private school near London. Tom’s in Year Eight and Andy is in Year Six. They’re pretty great…” He stops at my expression. “What’s wrong, Greengrass?”
In that moment I realize the truth about this boy, this handsome, wonderful person I’ve been kissing, and its as if all the warmth of the past few minutes has drained from the world as truth flushes through my body.
“So they’re…” I let him finish the sentence.
“Muggles. Yeah.” He smiles quizzically. “I’m Muggleborn… I thought you knew? Does it matter?”
Inside I feel as if something has wearily died inside of me, has given up.
“I have to go,” I mutter, detangling myself from him. My body protests, but I reprimand it and pull away. “I have to go.”
“Astoria…” he is puzzled and hurt. “What’s wrong? Surely it doesn’t matter?” He sounds a little panicked, but also angry.
Without another word, I run through the false wall, nearly crashing into the sad suit of armor and startling some passing first years.
“Out of my way,” I snarl at them. I feel a thousand times worse than when I entered the hidden room, running from Goyle. I am a fool. I may be a pureblood, of the house of Yaxley and the service of the Dark Lord, but I am the most foolish of witches. I can hardly imagine facing down my friends and other Slytherins if they knew I had befriended, had kissed… a Mudblood. I feel angry tears tearing at my eyes, giving me a headache.
Mudblood. I repeat the chant in my head as penance, imagining each syllable like an anvil to my treacherous mind. Mudblood.
“PETRIFIED!” I scream at the wall hiding Slytherin House, and throw myself into the Common Room. Thankfully, everyone seems to be still out at Hogsmeade. I throw myself into my four poster bed, but instead of hurrying to the sink to wash my mouth out with soap, as a proper girl from Slytherin should, I wrap myself in my blanket and think of him. Terry Hyperion Boot. His warm laugh, his smooth words. His merry blue eyes and his warm chest, his soft lips and his careful hands. With these warm thoughts dancing about my head I fall asleep, not caring it’s the middle of the day, enraptured and enraged.
A/N: They finally kissed!!! Well, you readers knew he would be a Muggleborn, but give Tor a break, it’s a pretty nasty shock for her. I would LOVE to hear what you think of this chapter and the story, so please review!!!!!
PS. I do not own Greek mythology. Anything Potter-world related belongs to JK Rowling!!!
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