Chapter 1 : mystify.
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for monica (MC_HK). merry christmas my beautiful brain twin. i hope you’re ready for the fluff! xx
‘although you are biased,
i love your advice.
your comebacks are quick,
and probably have to do with your insecurities.’
—A Beautiful Mess, Jason Mraz
Equality and Equity in the Magical Community – AND2.330.
Chipped nails dance across peeling spines, tracking the wrinkled lines and faded writing—they are aged books. Books that belong to another time, and they smell like they should. Like leather and parchment and wise. A part of her wants to take them all home—could she read them by the week’s end?—but there are hundreds lining the shelves of the library, and she only came here for one.
“You’re in the wrong section.”
The voice startles her, and she drops the parchment she was holding in her hand. She watches as it flutters down to the red carpet, slowly, as if it is suspended in time—as if it does not want to touch the floor at all.
She looks coolly up at the intruder. “What do you want?”
He smirks, sweeping down and snatching her paper off the ground. Grey eyes sweep across her curved script, and with a small nod, he turns and stalks down the corridor.
When he realises she is not following, he pauses. “Do you want this book or not?”
She does not answer, pursing her lips and following. She is exactly three paces behind him, watching closely as he walks—he steps, she steps, he steps, she steps. She is careful to keep her distance when he stops.
Third shelf, second book to the end. It is big, heavy, and he pulls it out, passing it over to her. She blows the dust off it. Magical Equality – WEN5.009.
“This isn’t what I wanted,” she says, annoyance creeping into her voice.
“This one is better,” he replies simply.
She borrows the book anyway. She’s partly curious to see if he is right—though more curious to see if he is wrong.
He is not. Two days have passed and she enters through the towering oak doors of the library, closing the gap between herself and the reception in the space of a second. He sits there, elbow propped on the table, glass of Firewhiskey in one hand. The other is holding a book. It is open at page 154. Postmodernism, Magic and Truth reads the cover.
She slams the down tomb in her hand on the desk. He looks up, amused.
“And?” he asks.
“It was sufficient,” she sniffs, refusing to let him bask in the small victory. Then the question: “Why are you here?”
He turns back to his book, taking a leisurely sip from his glass before answering. “My father owns more than half these books.”
“I didn’t know you liked reading,” she says, words dripping in cynical amusement.
“You don’t know me at all,” he counters. He sounds bored of the conversation already.
She is unrelenting. “Reading requires an open mind. Something I know you do not have.”
He smirks at that. “Maybe I just have nothing better to do.”
Huh. She cannot think of a reply. Her brown eyes travel across the desk he sits behind—papers, quills and miscellaneous objects litter the surface. A small pile of books sits to his right, subjects ranging from history to religion to spells to potions...
“I’m looking for a book on dark curses and spells,” she says eventually, breaking the cool silence and looking back to him.
He doesn’t look up. “There is no such thing.”
She blinks, taken aback by his absolute tone. “What?” is about all she can ask.
“There is no such thing,” he repeats, turning to the next page in his book. 155. His voice has taken on a testy edge. “It is not the spells or curses that are ‘dark’, but the wizards and witches that use them.”
She laughs. She can’t help it. “You, of all people, should know that that is not true,” she says. She’s hit her target—he looks up then, grey eyes impassive as he regards her. “You’re telling me that spells like the Avada curse are not dark? Its soul intention is to take the life of a person—it serves no other purpose!”
“Yet it would not exist if it weren’t for the person who created it, would it?” he counters, almost instantly. “It is a tool—would you take my wand for killing a man, or would you take me?”
She ponders this for a moment. “Perhaps both,” she muses aloud.
He observes her curiously for a beat, before turning and opening the draw to his right. It’s a small book he pulls out—its spine is peeling away, and the lettering has completely faded. It is so aged it almost crumbles in his hands.
He holds it out to her. “You’ll find this interesting,” he states, matter-of-factly. “My great-great grandfather’s,” he adds, flustered to address its importance.
She takes it from him carefully, hugging it tightly to her chest to keep it safe. The huge expanse of the library has closed in on them, and she feels like she is in a slip—too close. They are too close. His grey eyes hold hers, glittering in the low candlelight.
“I’ll have it back by tomorrow.”
He nods at her words, and the illusion is shattered like broken glass. She is back in the library, a world away from him. His chair squeaks as he turns to his book, shutting her out completely.
It is the afternoon, the next day, and she finds him at the very back of the library, carefully placing his tombs in their correct places. He glances over when she pokes her head around the aisle, a small smile tugging the corners of his mouth.
“What did you think?” he asks, turning back to the shelf.
She makes her way down the small corridor, once again hugging his ancestor’s book to her chest. She is blushing slightly, though she is not quite sure why. Her heart beats unevenly in her chest—thud, thud thud ... thud. She takes a deep breath, smelling the dust and parchment and leather and sandalwood and spice and whiskey...
Her heart stops.
“I read it twice,” she admits.
A short bark of laughter escapes his mouth. He stops what he is doing and turns, ruffling his blonde hair with one hand. He is close—she can feel his presence—the warmth, the smell of him. The small breeze as he shifts from foot to foot.
“What did you think about William Westmere’s comments on art and its tie to magic?” he asks, voice filled with genuine curiosity.
“That ‘all art must have a creator, just as all magic must have a controller’?” She grins. “I loved it. But I have to say, page fifty-four...” She opens the book, and he slides up to her, grey eyes following the chipped red nail that tracks down the page to the quote she is looking for.
She does not notice her hair brushing against his cheek, or the rare smile that settles onto his face at the contact.
Six weeks pass, and she has been at the library every night, just after his closing time. They sit cross-legged on the floor, book after book open in front of them, words dancing in the candlelight and drifting to the ceiling as they speak. All they do is talk—about anything and everything. Politics, magic, Voldemort, work, friends, equality, equity, history, culture, theology, Muggles—she cannot keep pace with the amount of information they exchange. Each night, she goes home and lies in her bed, mind racing a million miles an hour. She is a better worker—her vocabulary is almost impeccable. She feels in contact with the world around her like never before.
Sometimes, they argue. Raised voices echo down the library, shouting over one another to be heard. But that topic is quickly dropped for one more informative—“There is no use talking if opinions aren’t shared,” he said one night, after an awkward apology.
He is efficient. She appreciates that.
When he smiles, her heart is out-of-time. Irregular. A loud thudding with no rhythm or beat or reason.
She walks in on a summer eve, just as the night is starting to set. The library is closed, but he gave her a key just under a month ago, so she enters with no trouble. She sweeps to the reception desk.
“What are we—” she stops, staring at the floor space behind him. “What are you doing?”
Empty. Where there would be their usual piles of books scattered across the carpet, ready for the night, it is empty. She is confused and slightly hurt—did she waste her time coming all this way just to hear he has other plans?
And who else would he be seeing?
He stands behind the desk, tapping his foot lightly, and follows her gaze. “I thought we could do something different tonight,” he says.
He does not elaborate, circling around the desk and leading her back outside into the twilight. The street is closing—the flower shop opposite has pulled down its industrial roller doors, and the crowd that usually crawls along the avenue has dissipated. They are alone.
She follows him through the small community, and he asks how her day is and how work went. She talks about the prospect of a promotion, and he says that he cannot believe she has not received one earlier.
She floats the rest of the way.
Eventually he stops just outside a small Italian restaurant and leads her inside. Music plays loudly, and they sit, ordering their food and some wine.
When their dinner arrives, it is on pretty little plates. She barely notices, though. They talk and talk and talk, and it goes cold. Inedible. Before she feels the night has even started, the music stops, the tablecloths are stripped off tables, and they are the only ones left in the restaurant, save for the staff.
“Maybe we should go,” he suggests, noting the glares the manager is throwing their way. She laughs, and he pays for both their dinners, despite her protest.
When they step outside, the night is cool on her burning cheeks. Her heart is haphazard—thud...thud thud thud.
They both apparate outside her small cottage house.
She opens the gate, asking, “Do you want to come inside for a drink?”
The light from the street lamp is dull, but she can see he is instantly uncomfortable at the question, ruffling his hair and looking to her neighbour’s house to avoid eye contact.
“A man should not enter into a woman’s house alone,” he mumbles.
She raises an eyebrow. “What age are you living in?” she asks, laughing. “It’s just two friends having tea.”
He coughs, shoving a hand into his pocket and pulling out his wand. He walks to her neighbour’s fence, taking a rose from a wild bush with a swift swipe of his wand.
“Maybe this will tell you why I’m uncomfortable with the idea,” he says, walking up to her. He holds out the rose. The fresh, delicate smell fills her nostrils.
She takes it, holding it at the flower’s base. The petals are a deep blood red, and they feel like satin on her fingertips. Its beauty surprises her—she sees that rose bush every day—it is wild and ugly and cuts her if she walks too close.
But this does not feel like a rose from the same bush. This rose is different. It is Draco’s rose, and now it is hers.
She looks up, a small smile dancing across her face. “I’m still inviting you in,” she says. “And I would really like it if you joined me.”
He does not reply. Not with words. Not with gestures. His head dips, and his lips brush against her own—brief, but the contact is an electric shock, passing from her mouth and shooting to the tips of her hands, to the tips of her toes. She is on fire—she is a feverish, dancing light in the cool of the night.
He pulls apart, hand reaching up to brush a stray lock of brown hair that has fallen into her eyes. He smiles—a rare, crooked smile—and when he speaks, his voice is husky. Deep.
“I would really like that too, Granger.”
she breathes in deeply. the smell of books fills her lungs—old and wise. like leather and dust and whiskey and spice and sandalwood.
and her heart beats unevenly. thud, thud, thud ...
A/N: Cheesy enough? This corniness surprised even myself ... Thank you for reading it all the way through, though! Hopefully it wasn’t too painful :)
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