The fire danced and flicked casting a brilliant orange glow around the empty common room. Despite the heat there was a chill in the air and in an attempt to ward it off Demi tugged her robes tighter around her shoulders. "I miss you," a deep voice called from behind. Suddenly she was crying. Hot, heavy tears spilling down her cheeks. She felt the cushions shift as someone sat beside her and then the hair on her neck stood on end as someone's hand found her own. "I miss you," he said again. Slowly, she turned her eyes towards him. "I miss you Demi."
"Ephraim," she sighed, feeling slightly dazed.
But he was moving, sliding his arms around her and pulling her on top of him. "I miss you." His fingers played in her hair and she heard herself moan. "Why did you leave? Why won't you come to me?"
"I didn't leave," she cried. "I didn't."
His hands were traveling down her back, gripping her firmly. "You did. You left me."
Demi tried to shake her head to assure him that she didn't, would never, but nothing wanted to function. "You left me," she whispered, blinking away the tears that seemed to be clouding her vision. "I'm alone. You left me."
"I love you."
An unexpected wave of anger overtook her and she was desperately trying to free herself from his hold. YOU LEFT ME! But the words caught in her throat. HOW COULD YOU!? I NEEDED YOU! Her tongue was burning, tingling with pent up emotion. YOU WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO GO! WE WERE GOING HOME! HOW COULD YOU LEAVE ME!?
His lips brushed her cheek, her chin. "I miss you Demi." She felt nothing now, not anger, not despair, nothing but pure lust. There was a need building in her stomach. It was growing, spreading, encompassing her body. "Come with me."
They were in the astronomy tower. The stars were twinkling against the velvety sky. Her fingers spread out and her heart soared at the familiar feeling of Ephraim's old quilt. "Demi..." He was reaching out to her and pulling her underneath, tangling his legs with hers. "I love you."
Heat, mesmerizing heat. His fingers were on her breasts. His mouth was on her neck. She couldn't breathe. "I love you."
She blinked and was suddenly freezing. There was snow falling around her, sticking to the tops of tall sicklewood trees and clinging to the frozen surface of the lake. "What if you die?" Her voice was weak, shaky.
"I'll write you every day."
"What if you die?" Demi turned around in time to spot him before the scenery changed yet again. Now she was standing before a solemn Newt McGinnis and listening as Professor McGonagall spoke in would-be-soothing-tones. "Ephraim?" she asked, her eyes darting around the room frantically. "Ephraim?"
"I'm here," he replied not moving from his position in the corner. She made to move towards him but found that her feet were stuck to the spot. "I'm here," he repeated, smiling.
"I'm sorry to have to tell you this..." McGonagall sighed.
Demi's throat seized up and she choked hard on a sob. "No. Ephraim tell them. Tell them you're alive." But he only smiled. "Ephraim, please."
"Mr. Bennett... He... There was a battle early yesterday morning. It's only now coming to an end."
"Please," she begged, feeling her knees give way. She stared up at him from the floor. "Ephraim please! You're alive! Tell them!"
"I'm here," he whispered, his smile beginning to fade.
"I’m afraid," McGonagall added. "I'm afraid Mr. Bennett didn't make it." She felt a violent lurch in her gut and struggled to contain the bile rising up in her throat. "He fought valiantly."
Demi fell forward onto her hands. "Ephraim, please tell them!" she wailed. "Tell them you're alive!" He stepped back further into the shadows and fear overtook her. "NO, YOU CAN'T LEAVE! I'M BEGGING YOU! TELL THEM!"
"I miss you Demi," he said, his smile now gone completely.
Her shoulders shook and her limbs seemed to turn to jelly. This wasn't happening, it wasn't. He wasn't gone. He wouldn't leave. He promised...
She turned back and urged herself to speak. "Please, he's here! Just there!" But she couldn't point and they obviously hadn't heard. A sob arose from somewhere deep inside, rocking her core and searing her lungs. "PLEASE!"
Ephraim was slipping back, disappearing. "I love you."
She wanted to reach out to him, to grab his shoulders and yank him down into a tight hug. She wanted to hold him and never let go, but her body was useless. "Don't leave me," she cried between shallow breaths. "Don't leave me. Please."
He looked old, tired. This wasn't the Ephraim she had known. "I love you."
Somehow, Demi was able to raise her hands, but just as she was outstretching her arms Newt grabbed her, tightly wrapping his own arms around her and pulling her back up. She fought him, tried to wriggle free, but he wouldn't budge. Her eyes remained fixed on Ephraim and his fading figure. "Come back," she moaned.
Darkness swept over the room ridding her of any sight. The pressure of her friend's grasp eased and Demi felt herself falling. It was a pleasant sensation. She felt free, at peace. She fell for some time, dropped without worry or fear, but as she neared the bottom there was a drastic change in the air and something brushed her shoulder. The contact caused a jolt not unlike that of electricity to course through her veins. And then she was screaming, screaming for help, screaming from pain, screaming just to scream. It was hot and prickly and unbearable and she wanted to die. She was melting from the inside out. Her skin was boiling on her bones. It was too much and too little. She wanted to die but death was very far away.
She stopped suddenly and although Demi knew she'd hit the ground, there was no crunch or thud to announce it. There was nothing except the cool, soft ground. No pain, no sorrow, no emotion.
She lay still, waiting until finally she began to hear it - a soft murmuring off in the distance. She listened intently as it became more clear. It was two people... Yes, two people talking.
Demi wanted to hear more but it was becoming hard to listen, to focus on the words. What had started as a slight tapping noise had grown to a loud, dull knock that was echoing hard in her ears.
Rolling over, a dim light met her eyes. "Demi?" She didn't recognize the voice. "Demi?" She opened her mouth to reply...
A/N: Please review. You're thoughts and suggestions help me to perfect my writing. I'll take the good and the bad! Be kind, review mine.
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