So here it is...tentively titled Breathe Me, since that is the song I listened to over and over and over again while writing it.
The first time you notice him in that way is the day you trip on your robes and he catches you before you fall. Throwing your head back, you laugh without thinking before thanking him politely the way your mother taught you. Releasing your grip on him, you tuck your hand into the crook of Pru's arm and without a second thought, continue to walk to your next class.
Imagine your surprise when after a minute he calls your name behind you. Slowly you turn and he's walking towards you, a vision in silver and green. The first shock came quickly when you realized he knew your name. The second comes right on top of the first as he looks down at you with a slight smile and offers to carry your bag to your next class. Pru drops your arm and fades into the background as you accept.
You’re flattered by his attention and the beginnings of a crush churn deep inside. He’s older than you, taller than you, and has the oddest colored eyes you've ever seen. You find yourself thinking of his silverish eyes at the most inopportune moments, sketching them with your quill, usually when you should be studying or paying attention in class.
Suddenly, he’s everywhere. Every where you turn, you see him or a flash of his white blond hair. Looking up from your meal, he’s staring at you from across the Great Hall. The rumbling din of hundreds of students talking and laughing fades until it's just you and him, separated by wooden tables. He catches you completely off guard and your hand flutters upward to tuck a strand of hair behind your ear.
Blushing much deeper then you ever have in your entire life, you glance down at your hands for a moment before looking up again to return his smile with a shy one of your own. You have no idea what it means when you look to his left and your brother is staring at you with a look much like horror on his face. It's enough to send your jumbled emotions into a tailspin and you jump up from the table and hide in the library until the flush of your cheeks subsides. Walking through the stacks in the library, you do what you always do in time of crisis. Running your hands over the uneven backs of the shelved books, you seek solace in their written words. Has he always been there, near you and you never noticed before?
Your separate houses usually take great care not to fraternize, but the more you speak with him, the more he seems willing to forget past rivalries for you. Overwhelmed at his attentions, you decide to take a chance. Your friends are concerned when you say yes to his request to accompany him to Hogsmeade. You find it easy to put aside their warnings.
How can they know how what it is between the two of you?
They will never understand the way you feel when he looks at you. Or the tingle you feel throughout your body the first time his fingers entwine with yours when walking across the school grounds towards the village. How can they understand how special you feel when you tremble in the cool autumn air and he slips his scarf from his shoulders and winds it around your neck, his fingers vibrating against your skin as they brush against your neck. Would they ever understand how soft and velvet-like his lips are the first time you allow him to kiss you?
You're so nervous when he stops next to an ancient oak and stares down at you with an intensity you've never encountered before. Your breath catches in your throat when he leans down and then comes back up to look you directly in the eyes before pressing his lips to yours. His hands reach up and tangle in your hair at the back of your neck, and your knees grow weak with this amazing sensation you're feeling for the first time in your life. You sigh as he tilts your head back so he can open his mouth over yours and it's so deliciously soft, the feeling of his tongue touching yours for the very first time.
You think it sweet the way he claims you with his kiss. How he growls your name as he nuzzles your neck, swearing you will belong to him forever, and never to anyone else.
And for a short time it's fine, wonderful even and you wonder if this is how love feels. There’s a flush of pride in your chest whenever you catch sight of his white blond hair, heads above all of your school mates. He's your boyfriend. A Slytherin and a Gryffindor are together! You're amazed at how secure you feel when your small hand is tucked into his. You belong to him, you whisper to yourself, pulling your book up to hide your mouth so you can secretly smile in delight.
The first tingling of worry comes not soon after when your brother asks you to walk with him one evening after supper. He wants to speak to you about your relationship with his house-mate. You know you have to ask Abraxas if he minds first because if he comes looking for you and you are no where to be found there will be a row. Making Abraxas happy has become your ultimate goal as his girlfriend, so of course you want to avoid an argument with him at all costs.
You know he can be nasty, never before to you, but why tempt his temper?
When you hear these words fall from your mouth and your own brother looks on you with pity, you wonder about this subservient girl you’re becoming. He purses his lips together in a grim line and tells you to forget it as he stalks away.
Then comes the day Abraxas grabs your wrist and grinds your bones together just because you have an important assignment to research in the library and you will not be able to spend any time with him that evening. When you cry out, he drops your arm like it burns and immediately afterwards, he is quick to perform the healing charm and so sweet in his apologies to you. You rub your wrist, even though it no longer hurts and watch him enter the Great Hall without you.
This damage you fear is only the beginning.
You feel a slice of terror unlike any other when Henry sits with you in your carrel that evening. The weight of unknown eyes settles in your chest as you look up into Henry’s hazel eyes, so full of concern for you.
What if Abraxas is watching you? Haven't you heard him time and time again speak of an invisibility cloak? What if he followed you here and is watching right this very minute? What if he sees Henry sitting beside you and he misconstrues what it means? What if he thinks you’re playing him for a fool? Of cheating on him? He’s already accused you of not loving him the way he loves you.
Henry is speaking to you now, but you hear no sound as your heart begins to beat frantically and sweat breaks out along your brow. Your breath catches in your throat and without speaking, you pick up your books, running back to your room in Gryffindor Tower, ignoring the concerned looks from your dorm mates as you pass through the common room and up the stairs. Pru tries to speak with you as you crawl into your bed and pull the curtains, as does Ophelia, your other dorm mate, but you pay them no mind as you stare at the velvet curtains around your bed. Under his Invisibility Cloak, Abraxas can be everywhere and you'll never know he was watching you.
Later, Pru comes back into the room and pulls the drapes open and you know she has spoken with Henry. The words she’s speaking are true, you know they are, but you love him you remind yourself, and he loves you. It's so easy for you to deny the hurt, the pain, swearing the bruises on your wrist are from your own clumsiness, not from his hand or wand. As long as they believe your lies, nothing else matters, so you ignore your best friend’s questions and eventually, she goes away.
This is no sudden shift of personality with him, you realize one evening as you stare out over the darkened grounds of the castle. You're blessedly alone in a forgotten alcove at the top of Gryffindor tower, silently nursing a bruise on your thigh from where he has kicked you. He has always had this capability for cruelty; you’ve seen it first hand yourself since your first year.
But never before was it towards you. Even before he noticed you, his viciousness was always reserved for the Muggle-borns in school. You never condoned his treatment, but you never stood up for them either. Now, as your breath hisses through your teeth as you gently feel your sore spot, you feel no shame at never crossing him before. Besides, in his own words, you're a pure-blood, sister of Gabriel Thornwood, and daughter of a Ministry Head, even if you are a bloody Gryffindor.
Lately though to your horror, you notice he seems to be targeting Henry who is also a pure-blood more and more. This makes you feel sad and frightened because Henry has never backed down from Abraxas and if the two of them were to duel...
You desperately try to put it out of your mind so you begin to wonder if he did see the two of you in the library that evening, even though you were only sitting beside Henry for a moment or two. His jealousy over you becomes unbearable quickly and you find yourself constantly defending every action, every movement you make without Abraxas at your side during the day.
You become increasingly quiet and withdrawn as you realize rational thought and the excuses you continuingly make are mentally wearing you down. Never before have you feared him in the way you’re beginning to. When he reaches for you now, you have to remind yourself not to flinch away from his touch. Could he hex you if you anger him enough? Use an Unforgivable? You innocently hoped that by being with you, his feelings and behavior towards your fellow Gryffindors and Muggle-borns would change.
A rare spring day in March finds you outside and sitting with him on a blanket, enjoying the warm breeze and break from classes. You have your back to him because you're having trouble lately looking at him face to face. So far he hasn't noticed, he's too wrapped up in his own house politics at the moment. He's playing with your hair as you notice your friends walk across the grounds towards the lake.
A longing for them overtakes you and you drown out Abraxas's droning about your life together in Malfoy Manor after Hogwarts. He's waxing on and on about the plans of someone named Voldemort and how he'll once again restore the heirarchy of the pure-blood within the Wizarding world. You find it increasingly hard to concentrate on him and have to fight the urge to slap his hand away from your hair as the shadows behind you friends disappear from your view.
When your relationship with him seriously begins to deteriorate, you deny it harder to your friends then to yourself. You know it isn’t right for him to push you into the wall that way, but he is so much stronger then you. So when the bruises began to show, and become too large to cover with charms you know it’s time to say enough.
The mechanics of how and when begin to haunt your every thought. Where can you go once it’s over? The castle is only so large, and he’s a friend of your brother’s. Who would Gabriel believe? He the one who has to share a house with him after all. Should you approach a teacher? Your Head of House? Would they be able to protect you from his wrath?
You learn the hard way he will never allow you to end it on your terms the day you finally gather the courage to say good-bye. No sooner are the words 'break up' out of your mouth before he waves his wand at you in a slashing motion. Suddenly, you find yourself falling backwards and with stab of pain and betrayal as you hit the ground hard you realize he has thrown you down the stairs.
Broken and battered you lay there, listening to his footsteps fade, crying silently in pain until Harvey and Henry come upon you by accident a short time later. Henry stays by your side while Harvey runs for the nurse. He stays with you the entire time, holding your hand while Madam Klink administers the potion to fix your broken bones and then scolds you to be more careful on the stairs.
It should have ended there. You should never have had to see him again.
You promised yourself that allowing him to hurt you again was no longer an option. When Henry leaves for bed later that evening after securing a promise from you to sleep, he creeps into the hospital wing and apologizes for hurting you.
He seems so heartbroken, and the tears on his face seem genuine as he lays his head on your stomach. He tells you he loves you, is the only one who loves you and no one would, could ever love you the way he does, but you just made him so angry when you said you wanted to end the relationship. How could you do that to him? If only you didn’t make him angry then he wouldn’t have to hurt you so.
Your fingers itch to comb through his silk hair, to calm him, to tell him you understand why you made him so mad, and that you’re sorry, it will never happen again. It would have been so easy for you to forgive him, to allow him to gather you in his arms once again. But from somewhere deep inside, you draw the courage to remain aloof and cold towards him. Your hands stay clenched at your sides and your eyes fixed firmly on the ceiling as the discomfort of your healing bones send waves of liquid fire through your body. Only later do you realize your burst of courage is in part because you still feel Henry’s hand holding tightly onto yours as he did when the pain caused you to sob onto his shoulder uncontrollably.
The names Abraxas calls you when you fail to respond are nothing he has ever called you before. You huddle against the metal bedstead, your arms and knees pulled tightly to your body for protection. You’re frightened to death of the abruptness and savageness of his attack. How can he say he loves you with one breath and threaten to kill you if you don’t stay with him in the other?
When Gabriel enters the wing and finds him with his wand pushing into the soft skin under your chin, your only thoughts are that the time for you to die has come. Tears gather at the corner of your eyes and slide down your cheeks to pool in the hollow at your throat. It isn’t fair. You’re only fifteen years old.
Your brother reacts quickly and with alacrity, disarming him with a spell that sends him flying backwards away from you. Gabriel stalks him furiously, hitting him with Unforgivable after Unforgivable until Abraxas crawls from the room, moaning his revenge.
You cry in your brother’s arms as he gently admonishes you for not coming to him sooner. You worry about him returning to his common room, fearing retribution from Abraxas. ‘Never you mind,’ he tells you in a whisper. ‘I have an important friend who will keep Abraxas at bay,’ and the way he says it sounds wooden, dead, but your too tired to think any more of it.
You’re so cold and your brother is so warm and you beg him to stay with you like he used to when you were a little girl. ‘Just for tonight, to be sure Abraxas doesn’t return,’ he promises as he crawls into the bed behind you and wraps his arms around you. With the weight of his arm on your hip, you slip into sleep almost immediately.
Slowly and finally, you begin to revel in a freedom you never realized was lost. Missing your friends terribly, you realize just how much of a prat you were. How very easily you forgot the camaraderie shared with Prudence, Harvey and Henry. The four of you have been inseparable since your first year when Harvey accidentally knocked Prudence off the boat with a wayward spell as it glided against the lake, bringing you to Hogwarts for the first time. Only a quick-thinking spell from the eleven year old named Henry sitting next to you saved her. You remember looking at him in awe that he knew spells already and you’ll never forget the way he smiled and crossed his eyes at you. You and Pru were sure it was guilt that made them include the two of you in their adventures, after discovering you were all in the same house. But before long, it became normal to always see the four of you together.
At least it had been normal until Abraxas.
You feel so incredibly stupid and humiliated when you finally gather the courage to approach your friends again. Henry comes over when he sees you fidgeting at the foot of the marble stairs and takes your hand, leading you to the Gryffindor table and your friends in the Great Hall. Henry and Harvey forgive easily. Pru takes a bit longer to come around.
For the first time, you look up at Henry across from you and you see something in his eyes you've only begun to recognize and have never seen from him before. A flush creeps up your neck so you look down at your hands, only looking up again when you feel the heavy weight of another's stare on you.
Abraxas is watching your every move and his eyes convey a message to you as if he were standing on the table and shouting it to the enchanted ceiling of the Great Hall.
How foolish you are to think this is over. You belong to me. You will always belong to me...
To be continued…