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By Sunrise by manno_malfoy
Chapter 1: .
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I look at you across the room, and you retaliate with a smile that makes my heart quiver.
“He has feelings for me,” I would think to myself. “It isn't all in my head.”
The room is brimming with people talking war over tea and biscuits, arguing about politics and the ‘right way to do things’. And I shrink in shame, wrapping my arms around myself, feeling vapid and stupid that this was the thought consuming me amid such a critical situation.
This was never the kind of woman I intended to be.
One minute I think, “He has feelings for me. He must.” And the next I see you looking at him, with this cautious sort of joy as though you still can't come to fully grasp that he was here, alive in the same room with you, sharing the same air and making jokes as though the years had not withered him away. You look at him in reprimand when he suggests something particularly precarious as though the years of trauma had not instilled any sense of caution in him. You look at him like you might lose him at any second, you look at him like you want to contain him because you had already drunk too much of (and drowned in) the bitterness of losing him once before. It was not a cup you wanted to go back to --not that sorrow is anyone’s cup of tea, and it showed on your face.
Perhaps it was not obvious to everyone else as it was to me. But then again, it was unlikely that anyone else was watching you as closely as I was. Except perhaps him, in his nonchalant and unobtrusive way.
“He's the only friend he has left. He’s lost everyone else,” I would tell myself when I watch the comfortable exchanges between the two of you.
And I would go home and try to drown everything out with alcohol. I pour myself a glass and instruct myself, “I will not lose myself in the process of attaining you. I will not be the woman who pines tirelessly for a man who will never see her.” And it sounds convincing as I down the first half of the bottle of Firewhiskey.
As I begin to pander into the second half, my thoughts begin to get muddled, and I begin to see traces of you as I inhale another glass. There was the book you lent me on metamorphagi and other shape-shifters. And there was the scarf you forgot (and that I failed to return) the day I invited you over to see my extensive book collection about transfiguration and metamorphagi after we spent hours talking about the topic.
I could never tell if it was out of interest in me or if it was purely out of your interest in the technicalities of it all.
“The fact that you can transform at will… it’s such an intriguing phenomenon,” you started one night. We had only met a few times by then and this was possibly the first time we were talking alone.
“I don't know. Sometimes, I’m so used to it and it's just this thing I've always had and have always been able to do, you know? But sometimes I wonder if should maybe be doing more with it, pushing it to its limits.”
“You are training to be a an auror, aren't you?”
When I nodded in confirmation, you went on, “Well, that’s going to be a huge advantage for you. You will get to use this… for more, as you've said.”
I think of that moment and I see myself flushed with nerves but occasionally emboldened by your seemingly genuine interest in me. I think of the many moments that came after that, all the implications that were not followed by actions, all the contradictions that nearly drove me to question everything about my life. And in my intoxication, I think I see a glimmer of you taunting me in the final sip of the golden liquid wobbling in the glass under my haphazard grip.
I throw away the empty bottle and I resolve, “By sunrise, I will be over you. By the next exhale, my chest will not ache with longing and envy. By sundown, I will be done with this agony.”
But you direct as much as a word at me, and I am drawn back into this exhausting cycle, like a planet to its orbit, circling around but never really going anywhere. Always in the vicinity, always almost there, but never quite within reach.
I go to bed feeling disgusted with myself and the state I have let myself sink to. I pull a bin next to the bed, anticipating a night of torment as a consequence of all of the alcohol I had consumed. I tell myself that I deserve it and that I was wholly responsible for my misery. After all, I could have put an end to the questions that were consuming me by simply confronting you about your feelings or by confessing mine.
I toss and turn in bed, entangling myself in the sheets as I replay all the signs in my head.
But then again, anything could be a sign if you are delusional enough, if you’re desperate enough.
It could have meant anything. What was a glance next to the profound looks of understanding you exchanged with him? How could a comment about my hair compare to you just standing there in the kitchen in silence watching him make a cup of tea as if he were making art (or as if he himself were art)? And what was a quick visit to my place to see a bookcase next to the way you two huddled in a corner the previous night, your hand around his wrist, as you whispered something to him and looked at him coaxingly, and how he conceded with a nod like there was nothing else he could physically do?
I have enough time to run to the loo to throw up. I welcome the feeling of emptiness that follows. The fact that the only resolution in mind for a few minutes was to suppress the nausea that was festering in my belly brought me solace. Anything felt better than wondering if my feelings for you were reciprocated because when I sit down with myself in a better state of mind, all I could see are the obstacles and how farfetched my desires were.
It isn't long before the thought of you latches onto me again, and I curse you out loud, deeming you wholly responsible for my derangement.
I promise myself yet again, “By sunrise, I will be over you. By the next exhale, my chest will not ache with longing and envy. By sundown, I will be done with this agony.” It was almost a prayer by then to whatever deity that would deign to come to my aid and rid me of this struggle.
I keep saying it until I start to fall asleep with my head leaning against the bathroom’s door as the colours gradually slipped out of my world.