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Chapter 3 : Melancholy were the sounds.
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Existing. Living. Being. Existing is what I was in those bleak, sorrow tinged days when I was isolated from the world, knowing my feelings for you were wrong. Living is what I was before that and before you spoke to me, when I watched you from afar, admiring not trespassing, beyond existing but not being.
I am being now. I am a vision of what I want myself to be. I am what I am. The words echo around my head. I have self, a purpose. I am no longer a lone ego floating through the world in despair, but a living, breathing, existing being.
A being which beats for you, Eleanor, which hurls its heart out at the rocks so it can be slain for you. A being which accepts your soul as the holiest of holy. A being just for you, Eleanor.
‘It will have to be,’ Mother says slowly. ‘It is the only way to control her, the only way to make her give in. It will have to be.’
‘Are you sure, Rowena? Is that what you wish for your daughter? This man?’ Eleanor’s father, Godric, asks her. ‘Do you believe he is right for her after everything that we have heard about him? All of those rumours must have their roots in some truth.’
‘He will have to be acceptable for her. For who else will marry her given the rumours she attracts herself? She is not charming, she is not normal, she is not even pretty, so it is an achievement that I have secured a man of this standing to marry her. He is a baron, so of equal class to her own. I could not wish for better. She will soon learn that he will be good for her.’
I sigh as my eyes fall to the floor. I must hide my presence, hide the fact I stood here. It seems as if I am to be married. It seems as if I will be pulled away from dearest Eleanor again. It seems as if I will have no choice yet again. I can only be thankful for the fact that I now know what will happen to me, I have prior warning, and that itself is worth a lot.
Mother would have only divulged these details to me when I was standing before the Church and instead of being greeted by the usual congregation, I would have been greeted by guests for my own wedding. Silence has always been Mother’s preferred method for going about things. She always thinks that I lack the intellect to understand the greater the plan which will lead to the greater good for us all.
That is how it is with Mother. Secrets floating round and round until they have stained the air a steel blue, the colour of deception. When I look at Mother, that is the only colour I see. In her eyes, hands, face, lips, she only speaks when there is a deception to be said. All her words are lies to me.
Forever hidden by a guise, I wonder whether if I will ever know my own mother for her true self.
I see your hand curl around the note, the note revealing everything. The note revealing what your father and my mother have been plotting together in secret. The secret of my marriage. Me being bound to an unknown, to a man, to a thing, which will keep me forever. It is a strange thought, being with a man. A man. A man. A man. The word rings around my head.
That has always been something which has perplexed me.
Not a man, as I am half a man in a way, half of me is my father so I must be half a boy, half male. But since the moment of my birth those halves haven’t met or collided, they have been kept separate, apart. Girls have Herbology while boys have Potions, then they switch, never meeting in the corridors. Girls sit at the top end of the dining table, boys at the bottom. Girls conceal, boys reveal. On and on and on, I can list examples of my separate life from the other half.
Which is why it makes no sense.
Why keep us apart? Why keep us separate? I cannot live with someone if I do not know their habits. This is why they need to understand that finding love with another of the same skin, same temperament, same feeling is perhaps much more natural rather than finding love with a different skin, temperament, feeling. We already know what to expect from women whereas with men it is as if we are delving into a whole new world, a different system of thought. They are foreign beings to us.
You rise and nod your head to the left, our secret signal to go and talk. I nod mine to the right and follow you out of the room. We do not converse until we are safely secluded away on the third floor Charms corridor. It is still the Christmas holidays, so we do not fear of loiterers.
‘Helena, what does this mean? Are you sure of it? Are you certain?’ Your voice trembles, up, down, up, down, up, down, injecting fear into the air with each tremble. ‘I cannot bear to think of being without you. I cannot.’
‘It doesn’t mean a thing,’ I say slowly, resolving to believe these words as they pour out. ‘It doesn’t mean a thing. I may never even marry him. I do not want to marry him. He would be incomparable next to you, unlovable next to you, unimaginable next to you. You have to understand that. I will never love him, could never love him, this unknown man. He will mean nothing to me. I promise you that, Eleanor.’
‘The whole world was against us from the start,’ you say softly, moving in so your lips touch my ear. Each bit connecting together, merging together. ‘It will always be against people like us. Our reputation is against us. We cannot ever be together, Helena, never, ever. It would be impossible. We would be shunned, sent to hell if anyone found out. No one can ever find out about us, and I fear, in order for that to happen, you must marry.’
‘But no will find out, not ever. Do not think of that. Just to think of now, the present. If you think of that we will succeed, we will prevail. Do not think of failure.’
You and I can do this, Eleanor, I think to myself. We can fight these demons, this hell, this Devil, which cries out that we are on their side, that we are on the side of badness and treachery. We will show them though, show them we are floating along with a crowd of angels cheering us along the way.
‘Helena, my child, come here. I have some exciting news to tell you.’
Mother’s voice echoes across the room, her ability to carry it has always be a thing which has haunted me throughout my life for I have never been able to escape the shrills and shrieks of it. It is the eve before the students return to Hogwarts, the eve before the bliss that Eleanor and I have found will be ruined. The eve before the unknown appears.
I stumble forward, trying to recall the way Mother instructed me to walk. Heel, toe, heel, toe, my feet slide across the floor. Do not press too heavily on the floor, you look as if you’re in pain, not gliding as you should be, her warnings fly through my mind. Shoulders straight, neck tall, improve your posture girl, it is terrible. Pull, stretch, smile, her commands from years back still have their effect on me.
‘There, your walk has improved so much since I last observed it. You really are turning into a wonder, Helena. If you continue to use the spells I told you for your complexion, it should improve greatly and you may even be considered to be pretty. You could never be as magnificent as Godric’s eldest girl, Eleanor, but close enough to being adequate.’
I submit my head into a low and proud nod. I must always show my reverence and gratefulness to Mother for I would be nowhere without her wit, knowledge and creativity. I would be nothing without her independence, intellect and wisdom. Mother makes all the best in me. Mother knows that and I know that too.
‘As you know, you have almost completed your studies at Hogwarts and that we must find something to occupy yourself once your lessons have finished and I believe that I have found that something. I have found a husband for you, a very respected fellow, I should say. He is from the eastern coast of England, so though he may be a little different I think you will be very happy together. He is a baron, Baron Edmund Gelgoy in fact.’
‘But what of wit and intellect, won’t those two things disappear if I marry? I will be chained to my husband and forbidden from pursuing things. I would not be a true daughter of Rowena Ravenclaw, I would tarnish our name.’
‘Child, do you think I would have chosen a husband for you who did not value those qualities? I ensure you he thinks women need to be as well-bred as men and as well versed and cultured as them too. You will like him. I believe he will be good for you, a calming influence perhaps. He will arrive in a weeks’ time so you have a chance to acquaint yourself with him and grow to like him. Please do try that for my sake, Helena, because you may be surprised by what you come to feel for him.’
Eleanor’s words about concealing ourselves echo in my mind, they will guide me through.
‘I will, Mother, but only for you, not for him.’
‘You will do it for him too, Helena, and I do not wish to see you express this sort of impertinence when he is about. You may go now.’
I nod and run from the room.
It is the first day of lessons since everyone has returned from the Christmas break and I can already sense the difference. Your gazes make History of Magic the most riveting thing ever. I no longer doze off in the stroll from Herbology to Potions as I now hear your light chit chat drift through the air. I no longer do a lot of things because of you.
Even now, at dinner of the first day, I have something to occupy myself self with as I watch you chatting with your friends at the Gryffindor table, giving me secret smiles for each minute that passes. You have changed everything for me, Eleanor. I wonder if it’s the same with you, whether you have told your friends about us, what we do, what we feel for one another, what we talk about.
I have no friends.
Or no friends to talk about matters such as these with. I am acquainted with the Ravenclaws but could never spill secrets such as these to them. I have Aunt Helga but she is a friend to all and I do not think her reaction to this would be a pleasant one to witness.
All my real friends are fictive.
All my real friends are pieces of history, pieces of God, pieces of the Bible. I know their words, their minds well enough to be able to imagine conversations between us, I know what advice they would give to me. They are as real as your friends in a way, as real as any friends. They allow me to walk in the light which friendship sheds.
Author's Note: The quote at the top and the chapter title comes from page 42 of the Google Book edition of Jacob's Room by the wonderful Virginia Woolf! I hoped you liked this chapter and do you have any thoughts about what the Baron could mean for Eleanor and Helena (besides him killing Helena of course!), thank you for reading and if you have any time to spare, reviews would be much appreciated!
Merry Christmas Everyone! ♥
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