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Chapter 6 : Tear me asunder.
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I am back to merely existing. The being was ripped away from me when you mentioned my betrothed, the living was torn apart from me with your words. Now I am a mere spectre floating around the world waiting to find my purpose.
I see you, watch you, feel you. All of my earlier activity now returned to me in the wake of your absence. Eleanor, Eleanor, Eleanor, my heart cries out as you pass me in the corridor, but my lips refuse to quiver to its will. I will remain forever silent like you are towards me, forever silent in my forever world of solitude.
You will go on living, I believe. You will have a life and go on living. You will marry a man and most probably be content with him. I was a mere experiment for you, a time of recklessness. I will always be alone, without someone by my side. I have known I am different for a while now. I fear I will never be content, as society does not wish happiness on people such as myself.
I will be locked into a world of self-imposed isolation, so not to anger the Almighty Father by loving a person of the same cut. I will never reach out to anyone. I cannot, will not. I will simply have to wait for your call. If it ever comes that is.
Mother delayed the meeting of my betrothed until I was fully recovered and well and now the time has come. The time for meeting the man I will be bound until one of us dies. I am not sure which death I wish to happen first, his or mine.
‘Helena, curtesy when you meet him,’ Mother shrieks at me. ‘Show him that you are willing to make an effort with this marriage and that you will try to be happy with him. Paying him small respects such as these will endear you to him and he will repay you later on for that. Remember, these next few weeks will shape the rest of your life. Do not ruin them.’
Nod, nod, nod at all of those requests. I cannot think of him when the one closest to my heart has forgotten me. The only attention I am currently receiving from Eleanor are dark looks, so I may as well endear myself to someone and be in someone’s heart for being in no one’s is a rather solemn prospect.
‘Smile, Helena. You can be rather pretty when you do, so please try and do that. Remember he is a great a Baron whose father has given significant monetary contributions to Hogwarts, so please do not anger him greatly. If we lose that money, there will be significant repercussions for the school.’
Mother opens the door and pushes me inside. Stumbling, I move across the floor without the supposed grace Mother has instilled within me. I am losing myself from within. I fall across the floor and into one of the unoccupied chairs and a loud cough, cough, cough announces that he is already here. Baron Edmund. My future husband. The person who tore apart Eleanor and I.
‘It is a pleasure to meet you, Mistress Helena,’ he says slowly, mulling over each word as if he can force more shame into them. ‘I have heard so much about you from others, so naturally I am very glad that I can finally be acquainted with you.’
My head bows down in an imperial fashion. I am showing reverence. I am paying him my respects. Nothing can go wrong. Though I do not dare look at Mother, who has huddled herself into the corner, she will be assessing and analysing every movement I make and that alone is enough to make me scared.
‘And it is a pleasure of my own to be acquainted with you,’ I answer smoothly, finally daring to look him in the eye and staring firmly at them to show I am not going to be submitted to his will like many others of my sex. I will not fall to his charm. I will not fall to his sneers and smiles. I will remain myself through and through no matter what it may cost me.
A stubbly chin, fine clothes and a light covering of brown hair on his head greet my eyes when I finally release them from the icy glare. Very predictable. Very normal. Well, predictable and normal for someone of a standing of a Baron. A small flicker of a smile on his face and reasonably good looks too, most girls would be pleased to see that this was their future husband.
But I suppose I am not most girls. I never have fitted in with the majority.
My heart still beats for you, Eleanor. My heart still yearns for your ethereal face and glow. Everything else pales in comparison when placed next to you. Especially the Baron for I cannot call him Edmund, that would be revealing too much of myself, letting myself go too greatly. I will not allow that to happen.
‘I have heard from your aunt Helga that you are a devout woman of the Church and attend its services regularly. You will be glad to hear that I am perhaps as equally devout as you are. In fact, I have been encouraging others within the wizarding community to follow Christ too, as so much can be learnt from him. I make it clear to them that they must stay well away from the Mudblood churches though, as they delude the truth, deny Christ was a sorcerer and instead suggest we ought to be burnt at the stake. No, there are plenty of wizarding churches which speak the real truth, the pure truth. They must go to those.’
Mudblood, Mudblood, Mudblood. The word spins around my mind. His view of non-magical people is not uncommon. I myself do find them a little peculiar, but I would have no have qualms about sharing a holy place with them. I am half a non-magical person too, a half-blood I suppose; my father magical in nature, non-magical in blood. Does this great, this noble, Baron know of that? I doubt it, knowing how much Mother wishes for this match to proceed.
‘It is good to hear you place so much importance in the Church,’ I finally say. ‘It is a shame when others do not.’
A slow and stilted answer. Mother will not be pleased, but it is all that I can muster for the moment.
‘I also hear that you value academia greatly,’ he says, smirking at me. ‘A natural result of being a daughter to the wisest witch in these lands. I myself was a Slytherin. I suppose a very fitting choice as I do think ambition is an undervalued characteristic. Without that, nothing is achievable.’
He is a talker then. A talker who likes to talk about himself a lot. The worst of all the kinds of talkers in my opinion. I am much more of a thinker, a thinker who thinks to themselves a lot too. The first sign of our incompatibility is already establishing itself.
‘Salazar Slytherin was always a fine wizard,’ he carries on. ‘Very talented, very wise too. He was a great man and a great leader of our house. It is a shame that he has now left as he was only around for my first year. I think you would have only been a baby then, Helena. It would have been inspiring to learn from him, as I agree with him on so many things.’
There are two points there which displease me. The first being how he reveres Salazar Slytherin, as I swear even Mother flinched at that part. If he knew why Salazar left, that he had a terrible and awful argument with my mother and the others, that he may have caused my father’s death, he would have closed his mouth long ago. The second being that he is eleven years older than me. Eleven years. He is ageing away at eight and twenty to my youthful seventeen years. I cannot marry an old man.
‘It was lovely for you to meet one another,’ Mother cuts in, clearly the remark about Slytherin was one too many for her. ‘But Helena must go and practice her charms work now. Good bye, Edmund.’
She gives him a small wave of her finger before pulling me from my chair and out of the room, as if I have been an impertinent little child who somehow caused those things about Salazar to be said. Then again, I always am to blame in Mother’s eyes.
Mother continues to pull me down the corridor, startling clusters of first and second years who have wakened early on this Sunday morn and huddles me into an empty classroom, far out of view from any possible eavesdroppers.
‘Do not say what he just said to anyone. Do you understand?’
‘Yes, Mother, but is what he said really that terrible? I mean, I have heard other students heap adoration upon Salazar and you do nothing about it then.’
Mother’s face pinches up before she sighs.
‘Do not say anything, Helena. Please, just listen to what I say and do that. It will all be for the best. I promise you that.’
‘Fine, I promise.’
Mother gives me a weak smile. ‘Good, now go and practice your charms, because that wasn’t just an excuse as they are of an appalling standard right now and need improving.’
‘Helena, may I speak with you?’ you call out to me, your faint cry breaking through the air. You have come back to me then I suppose.
‘Why? Why should I let you?’ I hiss at her, as my pace quickens round the lake. I will not allow my daily stroll to be ruined by her. Besides the February air is biting at my skin so it is an excuse to go in early. ‘Last time I allowed you to speak to me you broke my heart with no care, no compassion. Why should I let it happen again?’
‘What about my heart, Helena? What about that? Have you thought of that?’ you wail, your voice trembling painfully in the harsh wind. It almost sounds as if you will break out into tears. ‘You accused me of things that have no foundation, no truth behind. You brought this onto yourself. You wrap yourself up in so much fear and suspicion of everything thing and one I almost wonder if you could ever truly love behind the thick mask. I do love you, Helena. I never even thought it was possible to love someone so much, but if you continue to do this to me, my heart will not be able to sustain it.’
‘You love me…’ I answer, my voice close to faltering.
‘Yes, I do love you. But you need to stop being locked away in your world of paranoia and fear. It isn’t healthy, it isn’t good for you. You will end up losing control of your life if you let that occur. You will demonise everyone to please that fear of yours. Please, just listen to your heart.’
I nod slowly and watch you approach me, fighting through the fog which has swarmed up around us. It is acting as a cover for us, something to conceal our secret. We can be hidden under this blanket for ever and ever.
‘Thank you,’ you whisper, the breath of your tongue warming my swollen lips.
You step forward so there is not an inch between us and press your warm lips against my frozen one and I feel as if the world is colliding. Though we spoke of love, nothing compares to the joy, the pleasure of this. I feel as if we are one as you press your lips against mine and mine against yours. We are locked together, joined, in something special. I will love you for ever and always, I think.
‘See, I do love you, Helena,’ you finally whisper to me, breaking off a few moments later. ‘That is love, not only through our words but through our actions too.’
I cannot think, comprehend, understand love. It does not make sense to me. Before the kiss, I thought I loved Eleanor more than anything else in the world and I could not love her more but now our love seems to be changing, evolving, different. I love her even more than before, even more than I ever thought I could have and that idea scares me somewhat. This boundless feeling. The liberty of emotion.
‘Thank you,’ I whisper. ‘Thank you for doing that. It made me realise a lot.’
‘You are most welcome, but we must hasten. It is soon time for dinner and we cannot be caught missing from that.’
‘Yes, I agree.’
You grab my hand and run your fingers around and around in my palm, your touches now unafraid, fierce. ‘Always remember that I love you, Helena. Never forget that, I do not want us to be apart again. That was too much for me.’
‘I will. I always will.’
Our hands join as we slowly walk back up to the castle.
The Baron’s words float in and out of mind, none of them being retained by the many layers of my brain. None of them being locked away and treasured for later like yours are. He talks to me about books, God, religion, Hogwarts, the grounds, what his interests are, the issues he has opinions on. Sometimes he asks for my view on things.
I answer. Sometimes curtly, sometimes civilly, it is entirely dependent on how much attention Mother is paying us during these secret meetings. She nods approvingly now and then when a rare laugh may trickle out of my mouth or a smile appears on his face. She will delve into a book after these moments, thinking that as we pleased her, she will grant us a little more privacy.
She thinks we are falling in love though.
She is not far from it in a way, because when I laugh it is with the image of you in my mind. Your radiant and shining face makes me fall into peals of laughter, not his placid one. With each of those laughs or smiles I fall more in love with you than I was the second the before.
Edmund though, he is different. Slightly more amicable than before, slightly more approachable than before. He grows on me, but not enough for marriage, never enough when I place him in the same light as you. When he proposes marriage, as that day must not be all that far off, I fear my answer will anger him greatly.
Blades of darkness, the shadows of twilight, and all other dark imaginings have briefly flickered onto his face and given me a taste of his true nature. I point them out to Mother, but she bats away my accusations. She says they must all be in my mind. She says that I have wicked thoughts, nasty thoughts, about him.
She says that I am to blame for all the badness I see if I think like that.
Author's Note: The quote at the top comes from page 89 of the Google Books version of The Waves by Virginia Woolf so all credit to her! ♥
Sooooo, I'm moving to China for six months at the end of August, and I kind of want this story to be all wrapped and done before I go. As there are 4 more chapters after this one, it will be quite a squeeze to get it all done in time, so I most probably won't be answering reviews in that time but I just wanted to say thank you so much for them, as I still read them and love them all so I don't want any of you to think I'd forgotten them!
I hope you liked getting to meet Edmund though and I wonder if you had any predictions of what he's going to turn out like? Thanks for reading! ♥
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