Stardust

By Ekai Ungson

DISCLAIMER: Harry Potter the Series and everything connected to it copyright J.K. Rowling. Characters used without permission.

A/N: For my second act, I think I'll write angst Draco x Ginny.

For Alli.

*

I don't believe in love at first sight. I'm not falling for you, but one step forward, and you might fall for me.

*

The boy watched the fire crackle and snap in the grate, watched it dance and sway to the whispers of air. Fire, he deduced, did only what it wanted, and adhered only to its desires. It could rise as high or as low as at it wanted, could burn without mercy if it chose, or stay pacified and warm the beings who sought it.

Fire had been forbidden to Man by the gods in the first place, because nobody could ever control fire. Fire was not something easily manipulated. Nevertheless, it had been bestowed to them by a Being who thought that the mortals could use it wisely.

You did not control fire. Fire controlled you.

Tonight, the flames would manifest themselves in the spirit of a girl and he would be useless in the face of such burning heat.

He did love her.

Love was also a dangerous thing, something mortals couldn't control. Like flames, it adhered to nothing but its own desires and compromised for nothing, absolutely nothing. The resistance of it was exacted with due punishment. Many men had died for love. They still did. Many men had grown mad for love. They still did.

How did he come to be this way?

It was hard to see that far back, even though it had been barely two months since he first began this… what would he call this? Forget that. He didn't know for two months and it was too late for formalities. All he knew was that the past two months had been the best and worst of his life combined.

*

He found her in one of the most heartbreaking places in the world to be, a place devoid of warmth and light, sitting in the middle of a shifting world. Alone. He had found her in mourning.

How did he manage to find her? Simple. It was because people like him were the ones used to seeing in the murky blackness. People like him were the ones at home in the darkness. It was, put simply, a way of life.

He had to admit that finding her in that place was something he did not expect at all. He opened his mouth for a cutting remark at the same moment she chose to open her eyes from sobbing. He stopped short, mesmerized by the picture she made in the middle of the floor, and the words were lost entirely.

He had seen everything from his perch across the Hall. He had been blessed with the ability of keen observation, which he used to extract entertainment from the Gryffindor table.

Tonight, the Gryffindors looked like their usual barbaric selves, except for the fact that one girl seemed more flat than usual. She was the one he had always relegated to the background as nobody of importance, but today, the sheer absence of life in her was clear. It made her stand out.

Finally, after dinner, she stayed to the back of the throng, her stance indicating that she did not want to be seen. It was of some interest to him that she held up for that long even though it was evident that she was not feeling all right.

He was also curious as to why he didn't feel like making fun of the girl, boisterously laughing at her idiotic predicament, which, usually, he loved, especially where Gryffindors were concerned.

He went back to the matter at hand. The girl had resumed sobbing and he had two options. He could leave, or he could stay. He looked the girl over from head to toe. Took one look at her shivering form and was compelled, inexplicably, to stay.

He then caught that thought before it lost itself in his mind and, angry for some unknown reason, raised a foot to turn and walk away.

Instead, a force acted and he found himself taking a step forward.

That was all it took.

*

'I love you.' I never wanted to hear those words again. I never wanted to hear those worn-out words, that when they are not blunt, are sharpened on a lying-stone. When do they pierce the skin? When they are true or when they are false?

*

She had come.

He looked up from the fireplace and met her eyes in the dim light. "Do you know," he began, "that all this started because I took a step forward?"

She stared at him, confused. "What are you talking about?"

"I took one infinitesimal step forward," he said. "And you did the rest."

"What did I do?" she asked, taking a step towards him. He raised a hand to stop her because he knew that once she touched him everything else would just be bloody shot to hell. He couldn't afford that tonight. He wouldn't stand for it anymore.

"You did everything," he said. "Everything to make me who I am now—"

"You haven't changed a bit and you know it well. You're as nasty as ever and as malevolent and calculating and cold. What did I do to you?"

He smirked, but it came out weak and insignificant. "You don't know anything."

"Enlighten me, if you will, then," she said, taking a seat in the chair opposite him.

He stared at her. Stared at her from head to toe the way he did that first night and every other night after that. He stared at her because he had to know what had captivated him, what had imprisoned him forever. He had never found it. She raised an eyebrow and he began to talk.

"Do you know about love?" he asked.

She looked at him and did not answer. She knew when he began asking rhetorical questions.

"I was engineered to be someone who would not, could not love," he continued. "Want, maybe, and lust, yes, but not love. Love is too profound and clean and clear. Love cannot exist in where I come from.

"I did not know what this 'love' was. Everybody seemed to be talking about it, and I didn't understand what all the fuss was about. I didn't understand how people could covet something that made them act like first-class fools and make prats of themselves trying.

"Romance. That was it. Only the right boy, only the right girl, and feeling will be yours. They closed me against such nonsense. But then you had to come along.

"You had to stay in that hidden crack in the wall and cry your soul out. You had to open your eyes to see me standing there. You had to be..

"At first I thought I could use you. Use you as a tool against that precious one of yours, that one you hold dear. I thought I could control you to my contours, mold you into something pliable and easily influenced. I never expected, never expected—

"This. This was what I never expected. I—" he breathed loudly and began again. "I never expected to be the one falling into a trap of my own fashion."

And it was true, he had gone through things he never would've imagined happening to him. He never expected that he would fall into her eyes, grasp for her hands, seek her arms for solace. He never expected to feel so whole. He never expected to feel so much want. He never expected.

Never expected to love.

"I love you, you know," he said, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. She stared. "I loved you. Love you. And when I was with you, I felt a happiness I couldn't fathom. A happiness so pure it burned through me because I didn't deserve it.

"I thought I could control you. I thought I could use you. But it ended up the other way, you controlled me, and you used me, I don't know why." Or maybe he did but he refused to admit it. He had again finished second next to Potter.

"When you came to me, I felt so much more than that which I was. I felt so much more of myself. But when you left, when you left, I felt like I was drained of everything I had inside. I had nothing in me.

"You took me out. You took everything and in exchange for that wholeness you gave me I let you."

"Draco."

He started violently. "Don't you 'Draco' me now. Don't even try it. I'm not falling for it again."

She persisted. "Draco, why?"

"Why?" he repeated. "Why?" He began to laugh. A hollow, empty laugh. "With you, you, of all people, I was myself."

She searched his eyes for explanations but he had guarded those against her, too. "Nothing was expected of me. Nothing was wanted or demanded of me. All I was with you was falling and powerless, with no control over myself. I was completely subjected to you."

"You stayed because of that?"

"I stayed because of that," he agreed. "I stayed even though I knew you were still mooning over your Great Knight. I stayed even though I knew you were using me from your own spite. And," he smiled an empty smile, "you remember, I love you."

She winced. "Don't say that."

"It's true, though. There were no lies in this affair of ours from the beginning," he spat. "You never lied about the fact that it was Potter you wanted. I never lied to you about my desire to use you. No lies, and here's truth, I love you."

"Stop it, please," she pleaded. "It's not like that."

"Maybe for you, but not for me," he said.

They stayed like that for a long time. He turned to look back at the fire and couldn't help but compare it to her. He stared at the fire and imagined her in the middle of the flames, dancing.

She broke the silence. "It's getting late."

"So go," he said, his eyes not leaving the fire.

She stood up and turned to stare at him. "Draco, what will happen tomorrow?"

He looked at her. "We never worried about those things before," he replied, "and we're not about to worry about them now."

When he had finished speaking she left the room, leaving him alone with his fire.

Outside, the night air was chilly. She wrapped her cloak about her tighter to keep warm and looked out the window, where outside, the stars had exploded and turned to stardust, covering the fields with pinpricks of silver light.

She did not know that inside the room she just left, a young man's heart had exploded as well into tiny pieces of platinum radiance.

"I love you," she whispered into the night, feeling it in her tongue and letting it slide off into the darkness, caught by the stars. She walked away and didn't hear.

"I love you," he whispered, his head bowed and his fists clenched.

He knew it was the last time he would ever say the words.

--Fin

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A/N: eep! *runs* XD

OOC Draco, I know I know and I take full responsibility. Please don't kill me. It's asking for a sequel but I don't know… Maybe when I figure out how Ginny will feel. .