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“Meet me under the rose arch,” she said it once, her brown eyes dancing in a challenge.

I'd never been the kind to back away from a challenge.

I found her the next morning, standing beneath the roses. A petal fluttered down, and her long, slender fingers caught the fragile thing gently. She was beautiful, but I told myself I didn't notice.

We talked, taunting each other so that a passerby would believe we hated one another. That was what was expected of us. But I could see the way she giggled under her breath, and I hope she comprehended that I didn't mean the spoken insults. Halfblood had always been a term of endearment.

When the day ended, she said, “Meet me under the rose arch.”

Every day, I would.

We were, had always been, what we had never been meant to be. Friends where our parents had been enemies. But we were young and we did not care, as long as they did not know.

Under the rose arch, we were safe. We were free to be friends, to slowly drift into something more, to end each meeting with “Meet me under the rose arch”.

We never meant for it to happen, but one moment, she was ranting passionately, her curls whipping about, and the next she was in my arms. I don't remember how she got there, but I remember her lips brushing over mine. I remember the drum of her heart against my chest, and the smell of her skin mixing with that of the roses.

I remember her pulling away, saying, “We can't do this.”

She didn't say, “Meet me under the rose arch” that night or the next day. And I missed her, like part of my heart was gone.

When I saw her in the hall, I called, “Halfblood.” When she froze, I brought my lips to her ear. “Meet me at the rose arch.” I did not know if she would, but all that night, I prayed.

The sight of her beneath the roses made my heart race with joy. From that time, we continued to meet, but not as friends, as something we never should have been. I was too lost in her to care and she in me.

She would whisper, “If they ever found out...” She would never finish. We both already knew.

One day, she whispered against my lips, “I can't keep this hidden anymore.”

I begged her not to tell them, but she wouldn’t listen.

Last night I got her owl. The letter read nothing more than, “Meet me under the rose arch.”

I came. I will always come.

Today, she stands beneath the rose arch, petals in her hair, a suitcase in her hand, and tears on her cheeks. She does not say a word, but kisses me and holds me tight. Then, with her suitcase in one hand and her hand in the other, I lead her from the rose arch and into the unknown.




Author's note: I found this lovely gem on my computer and decided I liked it too much not to share it. So encouraged by the Every Word Counts challenge, I decided to post it. It's an unusual ship for me, but I quite liked it. Hope you did too.

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