Chapter 1 : Living Irony
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Divination. If only I had gleaned an iota of talent from the discipline, then perhaps I would have known that it would turn out like this.
But had I known, and had I had the strength, I probably would have killed myself long ago.
Before either of us fell in too deep. Before he could come to me, calling my name, seducing me with only a glance.
God, he had been so clueless to the effect he had on me! But watching him, stuttering as if a school boy, as he struggled to explain his feelings that night...
It was funny, how it had all almost worked out. I had been studying that night, unable to sleep. The war had reached my parents home that day, leaving my brothers dead in it's wake.
I would miss them all. Even Percy. And had been silently thanking God that Ron, Charlie,and Bill had not been home that day, fresh tears lingering on my face from the mourning I was still doing for the dead.
My body had sunk despairingly into the warm, uncomforting fabric of the common room's couch that night, and I had scarcely heard his footsteps before my eyes fell upon him. He, whose very presence had brought about the deaths of my family... All of my rage had come out as I very nearly screamed, struggling to strike out as he held my arms to my sides, and somehow I came to be in his comforting arms, my lips locked against his passionately, the shockwaves reverberating through us both.
Even now, I can still taste him, and in the still dawn hours, while the world still slept, I could almost feel his arms wrapped tightly about my waist, caressing my skin so delicately.
If only I could feel him solidly againt myself once more...
He had always said that it did not due to dwell on dreams and forget to live... Those words... I had heard them so many times from so many people... Dumbledore included...
But sometimes things are easier said then done.
I threw open the shades, letting the dying hues of late afternoon spill upon the crimson carpeting. But even the sunlight could not warm my aching soul.
He had held me there that first night, wiping the lingering tears from my face, enveloping me tightly in his arms as he whispered soothing comforts. The penetrating shadows of the common room barely afforded us the seclusion we both desired, but as the dying hearth's light illuminated our faces, sending shadows dancing across us as we stood, taking in each other's features longingly, we found it to be seclusion enough.
How long had I waited for him to hold me thus? The years had been short in number, but not in longing.
I hadn't expected him to be there that night, not after his graduation. No one ever was. The passwords were long since changed, new rules in place due to the growing casualties of the war. The castle was rumored to be impenetrable, and added security patroled the permiters like guard dogs.
But then again the rules had never really applied to him, had they?
Until that night infatuation had run deep within my soul. But when he had asked for my help, I finally realized that he saw me as a person. And not just any person, but as an able bodied woman with a strong mind and heart.
It meant the world to me, to no longer live in my brothers' shadows, and it was then that the first seeds of love were planted within me.
And the risks... Instead of arranging a safe meeting spot, he had risked all to come to me that night. He had feared that due to my recent losses and despair, that I would not come.
So he came to me. The security could have mistaken his dark figure for anyone, but he had still come, stealthily sneaking onto the grounds.
On his departure I finally understood what it was to fret, for I truly feared to never see him again. But being who he was, he disappeared without a trace, no one save the two of us knowing of our midnight rendezvous.
And then it happened... The choice.
The time came for a decision to be made. One for the war, for we had discovered a weakness in our enemy, who until now, had had none.
That weakness was me.
The arguments.... He fought tooth and nail against my decision, and in the end we nearly lost each other because of it.
I had made the decision to willingly give myself to the enemy.
I had become a spy.
Our meetings lessened after that. We had never before been graced with frequency, not with the circumstances as they were. But Gods.... I hated the seperation...
Nearly a year passed before I found myself back in his arms, the pain my decision had caused vanished with the heat of our passion, all other matters suddenly trivial during that one glorious night when I gave myself to him.
If only he had not come to me that night... If only we had ended it before it had all began... Then perhaps at the sight of his broken and battered body my heart would not have screamed so loudly.
Yet I regret nothing. Even had I naught the pleasure of his innumerable kisses, my sould would still have died that day.
But our torrid love affair... Those secret rendezvous during my last few months of formal education... The small home we purchased in secret, the standing remnant of a love never come to fruition... It all made his parting so much harder to bear.
I know many say, 'It is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.' And after everything, I do agree. But it still makes the losing part no less wicked or easier to bear. On the contrary, had we never loved at all, then I would not awaken in the middle of the night, imagining the feel of his body besides mine. I would not turn listlessly in my slumber, reaching for the imprint of his body, or be haunted by the memory of tingles down my spine as he nuzzled his lips against my neck.
Every day is a living irony. Or perhaps it is better described as a living hell.
You should see the way my brothers look at me. It's funny really... They were always so overprotective of me. No one was good enough for me, not for their Gin Gin. Not even he could have lived up to their insurmountable standards.
But now... Now that he's gone and all hopes of a future with him, they tread about me as if on broken glass. It's as if they know how I longed to scream that day, as I stood there, chalk white and broken.
I can tell in the way they observe me, as if studying me, as if trying to discern if I'm alright. I'm strong, and would like to think that I hide my pain pretty well. Not because I'm too proud to admit weakness, but because I don't want them to worry. I love my brothers, however foolish they have been in the past. And I would hate to see them hurting simply from seeing me break.
I used to pray as we lay there each night, curled so securely within each other's arms, that whatever fate befell him, would befall me. I couldn't imagine a world without him. My life without him. Hell...I still can't, and I've been living this nightmare for the past 6 months.
Why haven't I taken my own life? I often wonder this. Thinking these thoughts I undid my robe, letting it fall to expose my naked shoulders. I placed a bare foot tentatively into the hot stream of water, steam rising about my shivering self as I relished the feel of water pouring upon me, the razor so temptingly within reach.
I never have come close to actually doing it. How could I? To do so would be cowardly, and the only thought worse than a life without him, would be to lose him. To really lose him. I may have lost him physically, but if I were to stoop so low as to commit such a cowardly, unredeemable act as that, he would never forgive me. He'd disapprove, and would not want that. Somehow I know this, and that Gyffindor courage within me keeps me going.
It keeps me going because I am stronger than that.
I am not like the cowardly Creevy brothers. Yes... They showed their true colors before the final battle.
They showed their colors by taking their own lives.
They hadn't been alone. Many had taken their own lives that day, too fearful to choose a side.
Which brings me back to that damnable Gryffindor courage. It's kept me from sharing my pain with any other save for him.
Now when I let go, I do it not to a cold tombstone, but to the sky, letting him know as I speak into the cold, cruel empty nights that while I suffer, that I have not forgotten him.
Somewhere he knows my pain, and in a way, I believe he lessens it.
I swear I can almost feel him there besides me as I bathe, rubbing my shoulders as I wash myself, his breath tracing across the back of my neck, shivers tingling throughout me. I closed my eyes, letting the warmth of the water soothe my aching soul, feeling his hands as if they were really there, lingering on my shoulders, traversing down my arms as he rubbed them, warming me to my inner core. I choked back the dry sob threatening me, opening my eyes as cold, unforgiving chills racke me.
Even the warm steam can no longer offer me any comfort from this hell of an icy existence in which I live.
What a pathetic façade I live! Dear sweet irony, where was the kindness of the world! I hated it, hated it more than anything for what it had done to him. For what it had done to me! To our cause!
It had torn our love apart on the eve of it's fruition. On the eve of victory! And it had plummeted us survivors into a world of darkness. It was a miracle we still had functional things like running water and grocery stores with the incompetent imbeciles now in charge. The same imbeciles I was now forced to live and work with. I was so often forced to look them in the eye, to smile congenially while pretending I cared about how the business of restructuring the world was going.
HA! I hated the signs at work. The ones proclaiming that we were working to build a better tomorrow. Didn't they see!? A better tomorrow had been in our grasp, and then with one foul swoop and a flash of green light he had fallen, taking that hope with him, condemning us all to eternal hell on Earth.
My abdominal muscles ached painfully from the constant sobs that plagued my body, and I quickly turned the slick metal knob, stemming the onslaught of water upon my face. There was no longer a need for the shower to mask my tears, for they were gone, dried out. My eyes would undoubtedly be red, but when he got home, the one I was forced to live with, him and his naivety would never know whom I was truly crying over. For our love had been a secret love.
No one who walked upon this Earth now knew of it, save for I. And I alone bore the misery as night after lonely night, I found myself slinking my legs beneath our tear stained sheets, fruitlessly hoping to brush against his warm skin.
He used to do that you know. Late at night if he awoke, he would stretch his legs out to touch mine ever so lightly, as if to reassure himself I were still there. He was so careful about it, his toes brushing against mine so gently, like he feared to wake me. He never did either, but in those last few months we had together, when everything in the world around us was going to hell, I had hardly slept. I always lay there, staring at his silhouetted form, bathed in the shadows of the night, wishing for a better tomorrow that would never come, hoping that it would not be the last time I would lie next to him thus.
Now when I reached out my legs I meet cold, unforgiving skin. The man next to me does not radiate the heat of a lover, but that of a bored man whose unrequited love will never be known.
At least not with me.
I would never love him. In fact, I hated him. I only put up with this charade because my love would want me to. I know now that I am the last hope. No one is left save for I, and I alone survived because of our secrecy. Had the world known of our love, the current administration would have executed me, just as they had done the others.
Execution without trial. How unjust.
I stood before the mirror, wiping the condensation from it. Before me an image of pale skin, contrasted by fiery red hair stared back, revealing the freckled face of the only one left to fight for the cause.
It's all up to me now. I would wait patiently, calmly, secretly, always looking for that one opening into which I could slip my love's final request.
"Finish what I began."
A final tear slipped from my eye, hanging on my long lashes before falling to traverse it's way down my cheek. It would be the last sign of despair I would show for the day, for the damnable one, the one who had taken him from me, and then had had the audacity to take me as his bride, would be arriving home shortly.
My bitter laugh echoed off the tiled walls of our expansive bathroom. Every inch of this home was so elegant, so perfectly decorated, so fit for the entertaining we never did. And still, amidst all this splendor, I knew it would never feel like the true home I deserved. The one we should have had, with the children we so oft spoke about running about, their laughter filling the walls.
Instead I was now the wife of my true love's murderer, locked inside this empty shell he presumed to call a home.
Sometimes I wonder how he could have left me in the first place. To me he had always been the invincible one. The untouchable one. The one that defied death daily. The one who had been my own personal hero. My love for him had escalated from a piddling school girl crush to the full out, uncontainable love affair it had become.
It's funny really, because at one time I had hated him. I really, truly, loathed him. How could I not when he not only denied my affections, but acted as if I barely existed at all? Hell, he had nearly gotten me killed once. I could have hated him for that alone, but yet I could not. Even when I had been the invisible one. The one standing in the background, barely noticed by anyone, lest alone him, the one I looked up to.
I once asked him what went through his mind the first time he laid eyes upon me. He said I had looked like a fiery angel, red hair blowing slightly in the wind, smooth, creamy skin rivaling the purest of fresh snow falls, totally out of reach. As his feelings grew he admitted to denying them, afraid of rejection, for if he had me for but a moment, he was sure that none could compare to me thereafter, condemning himself to a life of misery without.
His unanticipated confession had been so out of character for him, considering what a private man he was. Yet that was the effect I had on him, he seemed to open up to me as he had to no other, and I had reveled in his nighttime confessions.
I visit his tomb, but not nearly often enough. It has become a sort of tourist attraction for visiting witches and wizards, so it's a bit hard to find privacy there. The last time I was there I left flowers, pink ones. He would have hated that, which is probably why I did it. Just so I could recall, for the briefest of moments, that sour faced expression he would make when he ran into someone like Draco Malfoy.
Gods, even when Malfoy switched sides those two still fought. How they had managed that is still beyond me. It's not like they came into much contact after that happened.
Throwing on the revealing bathrobe my husband had bought me only last week, I headed downstairs. Sure, I could hide from him, but what was the point? He'd find me upstairs, cowering away in our room, lost in some unforseen grief he could never fully understand. He'd believe I was mourning his friends. Yes, his friends, not mine. The man was that arrogant! Arrogant enough to believe that he and I had always shared the same friends. Of course, my previous job as a spy would have given him that impression wouldn't it?
I suppose I did a decent job of it, considering the man had married me the second the war was over. Too bad it was not him I had wanted to marry.
At least my love had been proud. He had reluctantly come that first night to ask me to spy for the cause. And I, in my naivety, had agreed. Not knowing that one day our side would lose, and the other would embrace me as a war hero, believing I had been fighting for them, not against them.
I suppressed another bitter laugh as the sound of the fool's voice drifted in, just outside the door, as he began the complicated procedure necessary to unlock our front door. The man was so paranoid, obsessed with security and protecting me, his little vixen. He was so intent on keeping the world out, to keep us both safe from any lingering foes.
Little did he know that his most dangerous enemy lay just inside his front door.
The door swung open, revealing his tall form, and I went to him, plastering that deceptive smile he so loved across my face. His face lit up at the sight of my barely clad form, the bag he had been carrying fell to the floor, forgotten as he picked me up in his arms, spinning me around without a care in the world.
How I hated his touch, the kisses he now bestowed so eagerly across my face, the way his fingers caressed my skin as if I were the most delicate of flowers... Each touch felt like acid burning into my skin, each kiss like the bite of a rabid wolf, tearing the flesh from my bones, each caress like the vindictive slap I deserved for being with him.
He deserved naught to touch me, for he had taken everything I had ever desired and worked for, in that one fatal swoop that had left my love lying bleeding and broken upon the ground.
And when I had cried, he had had the audacity to think it was out of happiness at our victory.
His strong arms that any other girl would now swoon for enveloped me, and I allowed our ascent to begin to our lavishly ornamented master bedroom. I would allow him to desecrate my body yet again tonight, for one day my love would be avenged. For when the time was right to usurp the present authority at the Ministry, I would make my move.
And finally, he would be the one to lay cold and lifeless upon the ground, dead from the poison I intended to slip him.
It was with this thought in mind that I allowed him to open our bedroom's door. And as Harry lay me onto the silk sheets, pulling loose the straps of my robe, I called Harry's name seductively, closing my eyes, another name unspoken upon my lips.
Tom. Tom Riddle.