Disclaimer: I don't own HP, if I did, there'd be a conundrum and they'd not be nearly as popular.
A/N: This is NOT a romantic piece. For those that thought so.
And Their Palms Never Touched
I – Water:
She'd never been swimming before, despite that all her brothers knew how to, and, upon a quiet promise to herself, she decided to teach herself. A promise, having been made a year prior, that'd begun to nag her mind that second year of Hogwarts.
Having stayed awake late that night, perched on her tiptoes the whole time because of her roommate's delicacy in sleeping, she'd eventually ventured out. Her hand, having crept into her youngest brother's trunk, swiped an old pair of swim-trunks.
They were ratty.
They were large.
They were even held up tight with worn, leather belt.
She didn't care.
She'd made this promise to herself. And she was going to be good to it.
Wearing black bandages, to cover her small, albeit swelling breasts, she'd easily slipped from the Lion's Den. The stolen goods rustled as she walked, but her keen life in the school had made the Portraits found of her, so they warned, whispered, and protected.
At one point she stalled, from a whispered hiss of warning, and listened intently to the slightly limping footstep of an approaching teacher. Professor Lupin. She liked him. He was a good man. He helped her. Hot chocolate didn't banish demons of a notebook, despite that it was damned good.
He helped her: to rid the nightmares, the ghost-like touches of him, his false promises.
He helped her: feel whole again.
She'd do anything for him.
But she let him pass. This was her business. He had obligations as a Professor, as it were, to keep students in bed and especially in the school at night. Obligations. She let him pass.
Moving on, his trick step vanishing, she slipped outside easily. The ground was wet on her feet, preparing her for the plunge into the water, and she moved swiftly.
She toed the temperature.
It was irreversible, so it didn't matter.
She climbed in, making careful progress to wade up to her calves, and then watched the rippling ink of the water. Beautiful. She'd gathered the concept from bushy-haired friends and identical brothers.
Always move your legs. Your arms.
Simplicity. She could almost imagine a friend's hands gripping the cups of her armpits as she waded to the tips of her toes. A few shaky breaths and she pushed off.
Her legs pumped into sloshing overdrive, her arms moved like paddling dogs, and consistently she bobbed up and down in the water, drinking down gulps of inky lake water in the process. Despite her fear, despite her panic, the water controlled her lovingly.
It milked its way about her body passionately, licking behind her knees seductively, and the world swarm itself into a sort of blur. Giving her a reality of her own.
Arms flapping to the side, listlessly, not really swimming, but not really drowning either, she occasionally wriggled her toes through the water, giggling secretly against the tickling swish the feel shivered through her.
As time past, confidence grew cockily, she waded farther forward until her feet no longer purchased the muddy bottom, and more vigorously her body worked itself. The feel of the cold water was wonderful, the freedom it gave her doubly so, and she was free.
Not of Tom.
Not of Harry.
Not to her family.
Not of Sirius Black, the murderer.
Not even of the Dementors.
She was fear to be the normal twelve-year-old.
Then, upon fluke more than karma, the giant squid's tentacle, in a yawn lap of oblivious, rose from the water, arching, and flopped down…upon her. Flailing, caught beneath his flushing currents and thundering weight, she crashed to the bottom with a strangling of affixation.
Spine creasing to the moisture of the mud of the lake's bowel, eyes wild and wide, she watched the flowing world above her as the tentacle, still oblivious, swam back to the surface.
Eased into the seductive swaying of the watery world, still thriving in her own blurred world, she failed to register her failing. Wincing against the murkiness of the water, determined to be her own savior from the bottom of the lake, she made to pump her arms.
They failed her.
They flailed, idiotically, but gave her no momentum, and her world, caving in from the strangulation of stale oxygen, broke her commonsense in using her legs to propel upwards…
Like a swishing apparatus of pure darkness. Swooping forward, legs kicking with an agility she longed to have in the water, he swooped her up, arms encircling her tightly. Then, steadily, resignedly, she felt herself being pulled up.
She hadn't saved herself.
She'd been rescued.
Breaking the surface, with burning gasps on both parts, she slumped down a bit as his beating legs kept them aloft. After a moment, she realized they were moving forward. Closer and closer to the shore where she could purchase grounding.
Past the shore.
Onto solid earth.
Dropped onto her knees, the black apparatus still panting, she shook her head like the dog she same as. "Miss Weasley," the apparatus spoke. She looked up meekly. "Come, up with you."
She stood up, self-conscious of her swimming trunks, and trailed behind his long strides miserably. He led her all the way up to the Lion's Den. Wordlessly. Before The Fat Lady, who looked bewildered and disproving in one go, he turned to her.
"Detention, Miss Weasley," he stated thickly. "For sheer stupidity."
"Just wanted to learnt to swim," she murmured, voice hard. She would learn.
He lifted an eyebrow, considering her, and then turned. "Detention," he restated. "Saturday, eight, Miss Weasley, before the Lake."
"Yes, Potions Master." She always called him. She knew he knew she called him that. He never said anything.
"Bring proper attire," he added as he swept off. "I need to collect some herbs from the Lake's bottom—you will be joining me."
She would learn.
II – Air:
She liked to climb, to get as high as she could, to escape the others, and find a comforting isolation. It'd been Bill's fault. He'd made her a promise. A promise to take her rock climbing. She hadn't even needed to nag him about it or awaken him from his 'dipsomaniac tendencies.'
He just took her.
She'd never really escaped the thrill.
Now, months later, she climbed anything and everything.
That's how she got herself atop the highest point of Hogwarts. She couldn't help but love the view. There was something about it that was almost, almost, better than flying. Almost.
Shifting on the tiles of the tower, humoring the idea of herself looking a bit like a gargoyle so high up and so hunched over, she toyed with the hem of her pants. If caught, she'd get into trouble. Always did.
Professor McGonagall disliked her incredibly so at times.
Not that she cared. McGonagall had always been off-put that she'd run to Remus rather than herself for comfort. Remus…She missed him, dearly, and felt slightly guilty that she hadn't finished composing that letter she'd began writing him over the summer.
He'd written her two, never questioning why she hadn't responded yet, and her stomach still churned guiltily. She wished he were still at Hogwarts. Potions Master had let his 'ailment' slip. She was angry with the man, so severely that she called him Professor to his face, and he looked genuinely surprised.
Not many understood the 'Potions Master' address-ment. Not even her truthfully.
But she was a Weasley, she had red-hair even, and she made her temper known in the most subtle, hurtful ways. Her identical brothers wore off on her more than her youngest.
Shifting a bit, on the tiles—or where they shingles? She couldn't be sure—she gasped as suddenly the nameless things slid out from beneath her. Squealing, albeit quietly, she flipped onto her stomach, fingers clawing out feverishly to grasp something not slick, before flying out into the air.
Stuck, only briefly, in mid-air, she gulped down a terrified breath before plummeting.
Crying out—softly though—she struggled to compose herself and control her little magic. She fought to save herself. To catch herself in a swarm of cushioning or drifting magic. Her fingers trembling, let slip the stick of wood that meant life and death, and she felt her stomach rise into her throat as the glinting blades of grass rose up ominously.
This is bad.
The phrased, laughed out by Bill in their rock-climbing lesson, echoed through her ears dryly. 'It's not the fall that kills you; it's the sudden stop at the end.'
The tall and posh school whipped through her blurred reality, turning her over into a tumbling world of her own, and she choked back a sob as she fought to save herself. Struggling vainly to be her own savior through means that which don't work well any normal time.
Fingers, digging into palms, cracked the skin and trickles of blood could be see escaping into the air. Her fall outstripped them.
Closer and closer she came.
And only one life she had to loose!
Then, with a strangled cry of despair, she grabbed her face to keep from seeing the inevitable, and tensed as she instinctively knew how close she was…
Arms, strong but quick to slacken under her thudding weight, captured her tightly before sprawling backwards under the force. Collapsed into the chest of her savior, shivering and sniffling, she cracked open a crisp eye to examine the silky glass that pretended to pillow the hard Earth.
Finally, having recaptured her breath alongside her savior, she was maneuvered off the chest and with doleful eyes she peered slightly upwards…
It was the black apparatus.
"Miss Weasley." His breath, having come back at a ridiculously fast rate, steadied itself on sheer annoyance. "Must I even tell you the rules you just broke?"
She raised an eyebrow. Honestly, Potions Master and Bushy-Haired friend needed to work out their priorities.
Sighing, as if the mere sight of her was more exasperating than saving her life, he disentangled himself from her and rose. "Miss Weasley," he stated again, hand offered to help her out. Grasping it, at the wrist, gratefully, she glanced about the empty Court Yard.
"Detention," she said for him.
"Yes, for breaking the rule—Hogwarts Students are not to die on Campus."
He walked off, leaving the humored girl in his wake, but didn't miss the "Yes, Potions Master," in his wake. Watching him disappear, wondering how he…
Frowning, she glanced at her hands, watched the crisp coils of blood streaming then, and the glanced up.
Twice he'd saved her. Twice he rescued her before she could rescue herself.
A villain he was, when he did that.
A savior he was, when he did that.
No one saw her fall. No one saw him save her. She never told because he never said a thing. Instead she continued onward, accepting of the fact, but avoiding that particular tower for the time being.
II – Fire:
The flames danced and licked the sky, swirling through the evening dusk beautifully, and their roots tore down ruthlessly in their destruction. All around Masked People ran, hollering out wails of despair and profanities, and watery jets fired the ends of wands.
For miles and miles the flames could be seen.
Groups, injured from the crumpling building, huddled together with large, disbelieving eyes. There was no winning of the fire. It was too enhanced. Too rooted. It was bent on total destruction and their flimsy water spells could do nothing.
Their 'Lair of Evil', their home, was coming down in ruins, and a few, acknowledging the importance of the loss, stripped off their 'Eating' masks, placing them over their hearts, and bowed their heads.
From her perch, one foot propped up nonchalantly on the stonewall, she watched. Her emotions, opposite of grief and anguish, weren't of pleasure and laughter. Her face was netted in vindictive mirth.
She watched the fire, darkly, and scorned the 'Eaters' as they mourned.
The irony of life, however, reached its peak before her very eyes—that very night. As, called from the muggle town below, the fire squad raced up. They, muggles, joined in the fray with larger, harder, more powerful streams of water.
Where Wizards failed, Muggles were winning.
She knew they didn't know. She knew that had they known it wouldn't have matter.
They were trained to put out fires. Even if putting out fires meant saving lives of those out to destroy their very existence. She even knew that none of the 'Eaters' but a fair few, if even that, would realize that the 'creatures' they thought themselves superior to had saved a good many of their lives.
Evilness was blind that way.
Evilness was ungrateful that way.
She looked away from the irony, eventually, and smirked a smirk at the man staring at her. Straight at her. Through her. With glowing red eyes. The Lord. The Dark Lord.
Her smile, splayed across her freckly features, was that of a well-written obituary, and rising a A.D.H.D boy's camera, she took a picture. A picture that captured the pure humiliation of an evilness.
She was revenged.
It was sweet. Very, very sweet.
Condemning, yes, but sweet. Very, very sweet.
Red-Eyes stepped forward, howling in anger, and she whipped out her wand. Her mouth, chanting out a Latin phrase, was whisked from the surroundings, leaving the words to echo themselves.
She stumbled backwards, startled.
The forced compression of the instant transportation made her woozy.
Shaking her head, eyes gleaming, she stared about the office of the Headmaster. Said man himself observing her with twinkling eyes.
Glancing back, curious, she watched the black apparatus move. "Miss Weasley," he stated. She was starting realize he was formal. Very formal. He always said her name properly after saving her life.
"Potions Master," she returned.
"Ginny," Dumbledore interjected, kindly. "That was a foolish thing to do."
"Indeed," she agreed. "But I enjoyed it, greatly." Yes, yes, she knew she would make a great Death Eater.
Dumbledore tutted his tongue. He would get nowhere. He knew it.
"Miss Weasley," the black apparatus repeated.
"Detention," she filled in.
"As usual," he turned, to leave. "Do not forget, report to the Defense room," he departed.
"Yes, Potions Master," she smirked. He was proud. He was DADA Professor. She let him be proud. It was worth being proud for. "Headmaster," she turned to the aged man. "I've a picture you'll enjoy."
She gave him the camera. He nodded, gravely, but the twinkle wasn't lost.
Miles away, in the wake of her destructive nature, shimmering words that writhed and looked like serpents, rested in the sky above a burned building. Muggles looked confused, Death Eaters took offense.
A Red-Eyed Lord growled.
For Sirius Black.
Her thoughts, however, were for Remus. Remus and his grief.
IV – Earth:
She loved to dance in the aftermath of the rain. She didn't care that she was a week from seventeen, and that she was to face a graduation of school and maturity, she loved to dance in the mud.
To spin, to twirl, to wriggle her toes and create slurps.
The garden, outback of The Burrow, was a wonderful place with unknown terrain. The flowers, randomly placed each week, made the walking garden a touch of land that no one could map.
She loved it.
To dance about the damp flowers that sagged and gleamed. To drag her feet to make swollen lines of soon to cave-in trails. She felt free. To let loose what little magic she contained, to let it wash over her fingers and into a rhythm of pulsations, and to dance with it.
To tango. To waltz. To foxtrot.
Here she didn't miss Harry. Here she didn't regret the never-ending war. Here she didn't feel alone without Remus's lack of happiness but perfuse understanding.
She was free.
Free to dance among the ugly and beautiful. Allowed to trample the weeds and to leap the roses. Ever breath of the soggy air was wonderfully sharp in her chest, making her lungs feel exquisite, and she once again existed in her own blurred reality.
She contained no worries and no self-imagines.
She cared naught what the others thought of her as she danced through the garden, even though she knew they were watching, and she dismissed the smile that she knew played her mother's face as she too watched. Watched with a content realization that her quiet daughter wasn't all that lost and lonely.
She just slid and skidded and danced and leapt and, even inwardly, laughed.
Her cheeks her flushed, her scarred soul was exposed, but she didn't stop.
She moved farther and farther into the garden, toward the back, where she could instinctively escape exposure, and fiddled with the idea of sliding down to the creek and swim.
Moving, gracefully, happily, she slipped about the edge of the drop off before tripping. Startled, gasping with a yank from reality to reality, she flailed—
A hand grabbed her.
Jerking around, wondering who'd ventured out this far into the backyard, she gulped down a dry swallow at the sight of the black apparatus. At the sight of Dumbledore's murderer.
Yanking her arm free, eyes flashing, she took a menacing step forward. Her wand lay forgotten in her room. He retreated a step. She smirked triumphantly. Aggravated, he stepped forward.
She snarled. A nasty word escaped her lips. His hand flew, to hit her face, but froze. Her hand, having been raised instinctively to block it, hovered centimeters before it. Their palms didn't touch.
She stepped forward, driving him back, palms didn't touch.
He stepped forward, driving her back, palms didn't touch.
They fell into a haphazard game of Dance. She wanted by, to escape into her home, report that he was out there, and he didn't want her to. Somewhere, deep, she didn't either.
"Miss Weasley," he finally stated.
"Professor," she replied. "You killed Dumbledore."
"I'm well aware." A few more steps forward, on her part, palms never touching.
An aggressive step forward. "They'll kill you, the Order," her eyes flickered to the half-buried Burrow.
"I know." A step to the side, working her way in a subtle circle.
"Then why'd you come?" A countering step, inhibiting the circle, and palms come perilously close to touching.
A retreated step. Palms safe.
"Don't you wonder?" he stepped forward again.
Gritting her teeth, not to be driven backwards, she thrust a step forward. "I wouldn't've asked otherwise."
"Not about me coming." Step forward.
She frowned. Faked a step to the left then twirled to the right. They separated to arm's length, fingertips end. Her breath hitched. "How?"
"How what?" he demanded, tempting the call to capture her hand, roll her back to him. Palms don't touch though.
An offhand step backwards as he moved to the side. "How did you know where to be?" her voice escaped breathlessly. "To save me."
"Three times," he stated slowly. "And now you ask me."
She moved to the left. He to the right. The black apparatus isn't willing to run yet. "I…I…" She'd just never thought about it before.
Two movements. Palms don't touch.
"You never wondered," he filled in for her. A resigned nod. "Then I shall never tell."
A step forward, she didn't move. The beating heat of the palms can be felt as only millimeters of space rested between them. "Very well…" she stepped back.
Her foot hit the edge, bringing her backwards, and the black apparatus isn't quick enough to catch her. She fell, quickly, down the drop off with the pouring of mud sliding after her.
Stalling up finally, body trapped in an eroded crevice, she struggled to regain her body, to escape her holding, before throwing up her arms wildly to shield her face from the avalanche of mud that'd followed her down.
Covered over, feeling smothered and piled, she found her face uselessly exposed as her arms trapped themselves to the side from the thickness. Gurgling, aware of the mud gushing into her mouth, into her nostrils, she fought and writhed to be her own savior.
Her wild magic, too caked over to work, bubbled uselessly at her fingertips and slowly she began to choke from affixation. Something she hadn't felt since her near drowning five years ago. In the water.
There and Now, here.
Trapped between Never and Always.
Lungs burning, eyes hazing over, she wriggled a bit, coughed a hack only to lodge more mud down, and began to drift…
The black apparatuscame, again, but she didn't see him. Only felt him.
His hands, strong and sturdy, snatched her shoulders from the mud and hauled her up forcefully. Then, with a plush of magic into her face—something unkindly done from his urgency—she was unclogged.
Panting, wheezing, she hunched over with burning eyes as he shifted his nicely polished shoes in the mud.
"You're not going to let me die?"
"I promised I wouldn't."
He didn't respond. He just straightened up. "Farewell, Miss Weasley."
"You won't tell me?"
"Not even how you knew to come today?"
"That would be telling you the secret."
"I'm almost seventeen. In a week."
"Congratulations," his tone is dull. "Farewell. For the last time."
"Won't save my life again?"
"You've used up all the elements," he inclined his head, stepping backwards.
"Farewell, Potions Master."
He disappeared from sight.
The War still raged on. Red-Eyed Lord still thrived. Dumbledore's death was never validated. The black apparatus lived in more secrets.
And their palms never touched.