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I wasn’t sure if it was real, this feeling. If he would just break away, leave, close up and return to his hard shell. Impenetrable. Unbreakable.
“Just, just leave me alone!”
The cold mask would settle over his face again, eyes – something precious, like diamonds; sharp – freeze over. Like icy winds blowing over my own features, imprisoning them, capturing in an ice-cold cell.
“I, I’m sorry...I can’t.”
Moments of humanity, understanding – even affection would sometimes show. Sometimes crack the mask. Offering a glimpse of the person inside, hiding.
“No! Not again!” Writhing in his sleep, I had tried to offer comfort, smooth back his hair from his feverish forehead, move away the covers he seemed to be wrenching at. He had woken up, eyes, beautiful eyes, wild and staring. They had focused on me, and hatred had formed, as clear and sharp as a lash of a whip on my back. I had drawn away, huddled back down in my own bed. Frightened. Not of him, but of me. And the way his anger had made me feel.
I would try, try again and again to draw him out. I succeeded, sometimes, but then it was as if he realised, and enclosed himself again behind high walls.
A game of Quidditch; muddy from a fall, messy from the harsh wind, sweaty from the flying. My team had won, ecstatic – overjoyed, reeling with victory. Drunk from the rush, and the alcohol someone had put in my hand, I had found him. Alone, in our dormitory. In a corner, knees drawn up to his chest. Head in his hands. I had sat, collapsed – what’s the difference? – next to him, on the floor.
“Hey...” A drunken slur.
“You’re drunk.” He had stated, looking at me with blank eyes.
“It’s a party.” I replied, as if that explained everything – even the sensation in my stomach, right at the bottom, when he gave me his small, twisted half-smile.
So I had leant forward, crashing my mouth against his in a painful collision of thoughts, feelings, senses. For one minute – one, glorious, wonderful minute – he responded. His mouth opened in a gasp against mine, hands fisting themselves in my hair, tugging, crushing my face to his. Then his teeth were on my jaw, my throat, my collarbone, desperate fingers brushed down to my shirt, grabbing and pulling until it was just a heap on the floor – unimportant.
I melted into him, trying to give some sense that I was just as in control as he was – but we both knew, know, that he always has, and always will, be the master. My own hands reached eagerly for him, but he was already retreating back, away from me and the promise I held.
It’s always the way. He opens up, lets me in, like we both, so desperately crave, then shakes his head and him, the wild, passionate side of him, collapses, loses will to carry on.
“You could at least try and act a little excited.” I pouted, folding my arms in mock annoyance. Always fake though – any anger seems to automatically dissipate around him.
He doesn’t reply.
Our friendship is strange. He never puts any effort into it – it’s all me. Still, it was barely accepted my family – his were worse. His mother and father seemed not to mind, tolerated it, but it was his grandfather who had the final say in everything, in his own mind even. I sighed in resignation, “I’m captain of the team! Isn’t it great?”
He had turned to me, the soft breeze lifting strands of his hair – the mountains looming, grey, ominous, behind him. “That’s great, really it is.” A ghost of a smile. I couldn’t help it. I hugged him tightly, pouring my happiness into his cold, unresponsive form. His arms moved up, wrapped around my until I couldn’t draw back, even if I had wanted to. I felt his warm breath on my hair and his lips pressing against it.
But, like before, he drew away, too soon, too quickly. He pushed me back, away from him, roughly.
The Falling Snow
Christmas – my family was suffocating me, choking every breath out of my body. I slipped away and met him in a muggle park. We sat on a bench, inches between us. Not talking. But I didn’t mind. It was comforting, in a way.
“I got you a present.”
“You did?” I shouldn’t have sounded so surprised, but I couldn’t help it. He isn’t a gift-giving sort of person.
“Yes. We’re friends, aren’t we?”
Were we? I didn’t know anymore.
A small, neatly wrapped thing, soft. I tore it open eagerly, more excited about his than any of the presents parents, siblings and grandparents had given to me that morning. A shirt. A Quidditch shirt from my favourite team.
Instantly I threw my arms around him.
Then, a first, he kissed me.
It was different to his others. Soft, gentle, caring.
He disaparated a second later, not giving me time to give him my gift. A notebook with an enchanted lock. It seemed silly all of a sudden.
It was term again, and he was colder than ever. Barely spared me a glance, let alone a hug. Things I treasured more than I probably should.
“Was your grandfather any better?”
Those were the only words we spoke for the entire train journey. I could have other friends – I could have hordes of people just desperate to be my friend. But I didn’t. Instead I chose him. Didn’t he see this? Didn’t he know I could leave whenever I wanted?
I think he did.
But he also knew I never would.
Exams came and went – we barely had a conversation – barely had any time for each other anymore. But it wasn’t me – he was re-doubling his efforts to push me away.
I wouldn’t go.
“Hello,” A girl, pretty, with brown hair, curled, and a large, pink mouth, said to me, twirling a lock of hair around a long fingernail.
“Hi.” I was distracted – he was walking down the corridor towards us.
“So I was wondering, if you, erm, maybe, you know, want to, like, come to Hogsmeade with me this weekend?” She flushed, heat creeping up her neck. She chewed on one of the full bottom lips nervously. My gaze had barely left him as he walked, that lithe, feline stride of his.
I looked down at her. “Er, sorry, no. I’ve got work to do.”
“Oh, ok. Maybe some other time.” She walked away, face downcast. She’s upset. I knew how that felt. Suddenly his gaze was on me. Angry. He wanted me to go out with the girl. To forget about him; leave him alone in his miserable life. I would never, could never do that. And he knows it.
If I did leave, get a life of my own, he would die. Shrivel up inside. Maybe even hate his life so much, he’d end it himself. That thought alone is enough for me to refuse dozens of admirers – nothing could make me leave his side.
“Please – he’ll hurt you if you stay – go now!” He was standing on his doorstep – Christmas again – a mottled, purplish bruise swelling, forcing one of his beautiful eyes half-closed.
I could feel anger boiling up inside me, bubbling; begging, howling to be let free.
“Is he here?” I gritted out.
“Yes, but-” His pale hair shone as he moved forwards, pushing me back, the dull light from the street, filtering through the snow and glimmering in his eyes.
“Move. I’ll kill him.”
“No! Albus – don’t – I couldn’t bear it if he hurt you too.”
I looked at him, cheeks white and face taut with worry. “Yo...you do care,” I said in a wondering tone, staring at him.
He laughed a bit, weak and rough, “Of course I do, you idiot.”
I kissed him.
He jerked back, shoving me away from him forcefully, “Go,” He whispered, before he shut the door. Leaving me standing in the cold snow.
Blood, dark and wet and slippery on my hand as I reached out to steady him. He looked at me, pain in his eyes, and I knew it wasn’t just from his injuries – it was the thought that I would see him like this; so weak.
“I, I’m fine.” He made a feeble attempt to push me away. He’d gone home, for the weekend; his grandfather – the man I hated most in the entire world – claiming he needed him. He had returned like this.
“No, you’re not.” I slid my arm under his, taking his weight, but he refused, insisted on walking for himself. “For Merlin’s sake! Let me help you, for once!”
He collapsed into me, unconscious. Horror flooded me. I’d never been the one in charge; it’d always been him taking the initiative, controlling everything. I hated it, seeing him like this. It wasn’t natural.
I sit outside the infirmary, head in my hands. No one’s in there with him. His parents are coming as quickly as they can. True. His grandfather is desperately worried; can’t bear the thought of his precious grandson in pain. False.
“Matron, we’re here – our son...?” Mrs Malfoy leaves the question hanging, as if she can’t bear to consider the possible answers. Mr Malfoy grips her elbow tightly. The senior Mr Malfoy is behind them, one leather-encased hand draped over the sliver-topped cane with elegant disinterest.
I look up. Glare furiously.
How I want that man dead.
Mrs Malfoy hurries inside, but Mr Malfoy pauses by the door and glances down at me.
“Albus, isn’t it? Potter’s son?” I nod silently. “You’re my son’s friend.” It isn’t a question. “Thank you.” Then he follows his wife.
Long silver hair tied back, away from the cruel planes of his face, Mr Lucius Malfoy leans over me as he passes, “Yes, thank you.”
Barely half an hour later Lucius Malfoy re-emerges as whirls down the hall with one sneering glance at me. Two hours after that they both come out.
“He’s alright.” They leave.
I slip in, hurry, to his bedside. He’s so pale. Deathly.
“Albus.” He’s awake. His hand on my cheek fleetingly, but the cold touch lingers. “You’re here.”
He smiles, but then winces from the swelling. I squeeze his fingers.
Strange, how something so simple, so small, can be so beautiful. The white petal lands in his hair and he brushes it out irritably. I pick it up, smooth out the dent caused by his rough touch.
“What’s the point?” He asks, nodding at the petal.
“I don’t know.”
He watches me for a bit, then takes it from me, holds it up and lets the wind carry it away. We watch it go.
Our families don’t like it, not that we expected them to go into spasms of joy. Surprisingly, his parents are more accepting than mine. I don’t think my brother will speak to me again. My sister might. Father probably. I can’t tell with Mother.
“Don’t you regret it? Any of it?”
“No, why should I?”
“I just thought you might.” We lapse into silence. He rolls onto his back and watches the clouds. “Ireland is peaceful.”
“And safe.” I look down at him, to see his gaze on me. I lean down and kiss Scorpius Malfoy.
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