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seven.



It’s impossible to breathe, it’s damn slow, there are sparks from cigarettes leaving ring-worm molds in the film of her lungs, things are slow, there are eyes watching, the ceiling crackles with electricity, the ceiling fan is hanging from a wire, she thinks it’s going to fall, things are collecting on the blades and spouting off, like dust and pollen from the ceiling plants. There are no ceiling plants but the texture of it is like leaves, and they’re wet at curling, this place is old and haunted, there are ghosts everywhere, some of them walk in coldness and some of them glide in it. Things are trembling, things are trembling in the centers of things, there are little circle pockets and divots and hills in her firewhisky and the inside notch of her elbow is looking like a piece of glass combed from the sand on the sea shore, glittering in those haggard lines.

It’s the pain of impossible finds. That’s it. That’s all. And the light coming in through that window and its blinds which Astoria thinks have never seen proper daylight, not in Diagon Alley, not here, not here, is tragic. It’s all quite sad. She knows why but isn’t going to say because that voice is all a word has to make it real. Not charts, not letters, not words someone said onetime. She’s trying to believe this and thinks she believes it until she considers the light again, dull and flecked with yellow sun-drenched snow.

It’s not because he’s gone but now that he is she can think about the way he put his hand or foot or at least a finger into the center of whatever was spinning and it stopped, and she found herself alive and buzzing with a real-feeling pulse, and she had believed in things. It’s the pain of impossible finds that martyrs simplicity. It died for a good cause, for that spark and ripple, for the just-offbeat, shared rhythm of their hearts held apart only by construct, by what was safe for the human mind, human body, tiny things. Life is damn boring.

Astoria considers the story of her life when she lies here looking at the ceiling fan and watching the light sprint across the wall, or spit, one of the two, probably, but she doesn’t know and she doesn’t care and part of her is wondering if Hogwarts isn’t where she should have been all along, it’s better probably, maybe, well she doesn’t know, than lying on a mattress with one’s head lounging off the end and by now she’s reasonably sure, she can’t see toowell for the wild curls in her eyes, the crown of it is resting on the floor. The carpet of course is dirty and looks like a forest, or what she’s seen of the top of forests from the seventh floor, from the astronomy tower, once from Ravenclaw tower during the battle there. Astoria also considers the humour of it; it’d never quite struck her as humourous, but surely it was that parents so steeped in the habit of well-behaved children that the couldn’t know what it meant to cut someone off, or else it was the humour that gold was so like breathing and blood to them that it couldn’t possibly be part of that, and she feels the strange simultaneous bubble-up and press-down compress of laughter on her spine, her chest, the solar plexus, the third chakra.

Astoria is watching things, here eyelashes are never going to touch again, she is going to wait here at the door cross-legged with her neck folded over into the back of itself for him to come back and she wonders but knows it isn’t true, he’s not leaving this little world of togetherness they’ve forged into unkindness together, together, like hands with ten fingers, one hand with ten fingers, maybe, or two ice cubes that start being one ice cube after they have had enough time together or, better, she thinks now, watching the snow pelt her window through the golden blinds, the heavy moss-coloured curtains, or moth-coloured perhaps, when two snowflakes stop being special and start melting into just water, which is everywhere and in everything like Astoria, and Draco.

Astoria will swear she isn’t drunk but Hannah will know better, Astoria thinks, Hannah has something and Astoria doesn’t know if it is but she thinks it’s probably that life is never moving slowly to Hannah that somehow Neville, she remembers Neville, Astoria does, the boy who scared and surprised them all and the one who most of all of them, more than Harry or her own pity made her cry--word gets around to everyone but the ones who need it, he didn’t know how close he was--somehow Hannah and Neville, well, they’re never together around each other, Neville working at the school--the damn school! oh, she should have had that tea--but they’re those people who’ve figured it out, the ones who they write the textbooks for, the ones who aren’t the hopeless or lost or clueless or besotted but the ones who can.

Astoria is lying back on her bed now, her head is no longer touching the floor, she is patting her cheeks and things are spinning, not the ceiling fan--now that she notices this it is entirely out of place, a ceiling fan in a magical room--it’s spinning to fill time. I think time is the only thing keeping me and this bed apart right now, Astoria is thinking, poking the linens, pulling at the lip of her woolen sock, snapping it back against her calf, thinking she should pull on some trousers, thinking she should head out into the snow, which will be cold and will make outlines disappear. How hard would breathing be if outlines were gone? What of lungs, what of the heart, that seed of electricity, that impossible organ, that all-taker all-denier, you come in you go out, but you can come back again, that all-taker, denier, no, the all-denier, taker, because you can come back again.

Astoria sits up in bed with a hand over her heart--she feels her boundaries, the palm tree of the inside of her hand pressed against the coastline of her chest, her wool caught in-between, and some hair, some wild curls, there too, but more than that the seed, bigger, strangely, than all its roots and leaves, than the veins and arteries and the little baskets of capillaries, yes, she knows what they look like and she’s seen them all in books, in pictures--so there must be something small in the heart, smaller than the heart, more untouchable but just as spreadable, and she knows where he’s gone, she thinks, laying back down and keeping her hand pressed over her jumpers, her hair, her heart--because goodness is a seed, it starts in the heart and spreads its leaves through the body like electricity.

He’s gone to do good. Make good. To get it outside of his body, a bit, she thinks, smiling at this, like germinating. We’re all growing up.

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