Disclaimer: Not Jo Rowling, don't own it.


I

Once there was a boy and there was a girl and they met on a train.

She was looking for a run away toad and he had dirt on his nose, and they hatehatehated each other.

He had too many freckles and he talked with his mouth full. Her hair was too big, and her brain even bigger, and she looked at him with eyes that simply said 'I'm-better-than-you-and-don't-you-forget-it'.

She walked out of the compartment and down the corridor, and the boy turned to his friend and said, "Barking that one." and tried to forget her.

II

He had her in all his classes and she always had to sit two chairs away from him, distracting him with all that hair and the sudden motion of her hand shooting up when she knew the answer, which was often since she knew every answer to every question. She might as well go home, he thought, since there was probably no room left inside that head of hers for anything else.

But he was silly boy who didn't know much beyond what he was told (or felt or liked) and he had no way of knowing that going home for her meant ignoring who she was all together.

There was still room inside his head.

III

He called her a nightmare and she cried and then he saved her.

It was the sort of thing he'd become known for when it came to her, the constant cycle of hurting and mending and hurting again.

He didn't save her alone of course, because there was a troll in the girl's lavatory and he was quite simply not the hero of the story.

Later that night, before going up to bed, she went over to where he played chess with his friend, the one who was the Real Hero on the grander scale of things, and said "Good night.", though she meant to say something more akin to 'thank you'.

And he nodded and said "See you in the morning." because 'I'm sorry' never could form on his tongue.

IV

They fought and often.

Long rows that would play out in whatever corner of the castle they happened to be in.

It was something new for them, to twitter away about whatever caught their fancy, to push and always receive a push back.

So they would snap and bicker until they were red in the face and then there was quiet which would slip away when he did something else to upset her (it seemed as though it was always his fault according to her, though he'd argue otherwise and then it was back to square one).And the other boy would sigh and push up his glasses and stay very quiet until they were done.

It was a skill he'd perfect in the coming years.

V

He complained about her.

"She's always nagging me about every bloody thing!"

She really did. It seemed as though she was always there to tell him off for ignoring his sister, or to remind him to do his homework, or to say that sweets would rot his teeth and that he ate far too many as it was. She was always there, always talking, always, always, always.

And then one day she wasn't there and he found the silence deafening.

VI

She had this cat, and it hated him.

A brute of a cat, with a flat face and great yellow eyes that followed him whenever he came near her.

He told her so once and she scoffed though her eyes were smiling and said he was being silly.

"He doesn't like me." He said, trying very hard not to sound as though the stupid thing was getting to him.

"And why would that be?" She asked in the same sort of voice his mother used whenever she wasn't expecting a good explanation.

"Because," he began slowly, eyes narrowing as she knelt to pick up the fur ball that lay purring at her feet. "I was here first."

VII

They fought that year, because of that cat and a few other things and when she wasn't there that time it was really more a matter of them both being undeniably stupid.

He told anyone who would listen that he was in the right and all she needed to do was admit to it. And he didn't miss her, nope, not a single bit.

Not when there was a game and she wasn't there asking which ball was which, or in the library when she didn't sit next to him but instead sat two tables away with that one git from Potions.

Later she hugged him, sobbing, and he patted her head terrified.

She really was barking, he thought, unsure of what to do because she there again and everything would be alright now except for the fact that somewhere inside of him, his stomach was doing flip flops.

He half expected her to pull away and ask why his heart was beating so loudly.

VIII

She was a girl.

And in a way he always knew, because it was obvious and even he wasn't that stupid.

But there was always a part of him, a part that came into the being around the same time he realized that she looked nice with her hair pulled up and that the summersaults in his stomach might ever well be connected to her smiling in his general direction, which blatantly refused to accept it.

Because she could be a girl without needing to be a girl and he'd really much rather have it stay that way for a long, long, time.

But she was never in the business of doing things as he wanted, so one day she turned on him and said 'I'm a girl.' (Though in a much longer and confusing way as was her fashion) and he would just have to put up with it, ball date and all.

But then he was never in the business of doing things as she wanted and decided he'd refuse (for no particular reason he was willing to admit).

IX

There was something straining about being on the brink of everything.

The constant ripples of anticipation that filled the air, the sweaty palms and worry-knotted thoughts. They sat in his bed room, on his borrowed bed, the gloom of the house pressing down on them more than they would ever admit.

He couldn't remember ever being alone with her for so long and the thought depressed him more than it did anything else.

She sighed; leaning back, rested her head on his pillow, and stared up at him. The silence tired him, but he couldn't find the right words (and they simply needed to be right else the world would shatter and he didn't really need another thing to be blamed for).

"He'll be fine." She said and he thought if anyone can hold the world together even as it broke, it was probably her.

X

He half expected an epiphany.

A flash of understanding triggered by randomness that made him realize what it was he wanted.

He was a rash boy after all (or so she always told him) and it would have only been fitting to have such a thing dawn on him.

It didn't.

It came to him slowly, over seconds and minutes and hours that slipped into yearly pools of evidence he couldn't neglect or ignore.

But he made a mess of things (he always did) and she disappeared once more from his side and that time might every well have been the worse because there was a war raging outside the castle walls and nothing was certain.

He set things right again though (he always did) and she cried again, in the common room this time rather than the girls' lavatory.

That time he held her and wasn't nearly so terrified.

XI

There was wedding that summer.

Not their own of course, they were still quite young, still new to everything. They had a task to carry out and a Hero to help, and an Evil to vanquish.

But they chose to take up the opportunity to enjoy themselves as it would probably be the last time in a long while. She stood and claimed he owed her a dance and he protested because he just didn't dance, not thinking too highly of the Chosen One when he pushed him onto the dance floor, laughing all the while.

So they danced, clumsily at first, because his mum was standing just over there, staring, and his brothers were probably all having a good laugh at him behind his back. The music slowed and she stepped closer and smiled up at him gently, her hand on his shoulder.

They swayed to the music and when it stopped he lead her away from the music and prying eyes, to the bending willow tree at the edge of the party and kissed her.

He wanted to burn that kiss into his memory.

XII

Once there was a man and there was a woman, and they loved one another.

END


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