A/N: YAY!! This chapter's so sweet and romantic that ooohh my gooood it's lovely. Well. I think so. –SQUEE- I love it. LOL, some people thought that it was finished last chapter. Nooo. –scoff- I like my happy endings. I really like the quote that I used at the top of this chapter – it's from Moulin Rouge. :D
Listen To: The Scientist by Coldplay. Or Love Is The End by Keane. Or something equally fluffy.
Disclaimer: Don't own it.
Chapter Thirty-Eight: Illusion
All quiet. Then, Fionn softly: "Tom. …She's not coming back, is she?"
Tom dragged in a deep, short breath, becoming immobilised with the level of pain that abruptly set him aflame. Eyes tightly closed. Chest tensed with trying not to breathe. Breathing hurt. Moving hurt. Everything hurt. He jerked into a standing position, his hands balled into fists that dug his nails deep into his palms. "No." He forced the words out. "No, she's not."
That was the last time he ever spoke of her.
You cannot know true happiness
Until you have learned
What it is to love
And be loved in return
Life went on.
NEWTs mocks came back. Had top marks on everything except History of Magic. Didn't matter. Hated History of Magic anyway.
Sat on the edge of unmade bed, staring blankly forwards. Could hear Fionn downstairs, moving around. Talking. Probably some of her friends with her. Shouting to him, "HEY, TOM! GO TO BREAKFAST OR ELSE!"
"Oh, and Tom?" He turned his head back slightly towards her to show that he was listening to what she was saying. "Happy 1959," her voice said happily from behind him.
"Hell yeah!" she exclaimed, sounding relieved that finally someone grasped what she'd been trying to say for quite some time… whatever it was. Also annoyance in her voice, that no-one else had realised in the first place. "One big old misunderstanding – understatement! This is the worst misunderstanding ever! Because the fact is that people have to understand that I don't feel anything for Tom."
It wasn't helped by still having her crushed against him, her fingers curled into his hair, her eyes so close to his eyes that he could only see hazel – green and gold and brown – she was so devastatingly beautiful that the only thing stopping him from kissing her again was the shock of it all. She let go of him, and twisted her gaze away from him. "Er." Her voice was shaky. "Goodnight, Tom."
"Goodnight, Tom," she said, already drifting towards a peaceful sleep. He sighed, watching the flutter of her cinnamon eyelashes with every movement she made in her dreams. In her slumber, she twitched slightly, pushing the side of her face into his shoulder, the top of her head tucked under his chin, her red hair tickling his jaw.
His lip curled.
He hated that name.
Faint click of portrait-hole closing. Gone.
An omnipresent ache. Didn't change much. Could be because he hadn't eaten in … a while. Didn't matter. Wasn't hungry. Looked across at the clock. Breakfast now. Could go and get food. Didn't want to.
Stood. Dressed. Shaved. Brushed hair. Got cloak and shoes. Picked up schoolbag. Went downstairs. Common room empty. Left, ignoring what Robin the Rich had to say.
Didn't go down to the Great Hall for breakfast as Fionn had said. Went straight to first class – Arithmancy - walking slowly, taking the long route. Could say to Fionn that was late for class and couldn't have breakfast.
Arrived by classroom just as others in lesson began heading in. Followed line of seventh-years. Found seat. Sat down. Studied.
Life went on.
Next class – Potions. Packed up bags. Was held behind by Professor Wiskunde to talk about taking an advanced Arithmancy course after leaving school.
"I'll consider it, sir." Wouldn't consider it. Sounded like some of the most boring crap he had ever heard.
"Let me know your decision as soon as possible," Wiskunde said with a fake smile.
Put schoolbag on shoulder. Left class. Didn't like Arithmancy. Despised Wiskunde. No need for extra study.
Immediately, he froze.
He knew that voice. A voice that haunted six weeks of dreams, of what could have been – and six weeks of nightmares… of what was.
Don't turn. Don't. It's not her. It'll hurt. It'll-
Some hundred metres away, at the other end of the corridor… was her. She was just standing there, not doing anything, just standing – and yet she was so breathtakingly beautiful it hurt.
Vaguely, in the back of his mind, Tom knew that he needed to look away, he needed to leave, before he opened himself again, and then whoever this person was casting such a perfect enchantment illusion of Ginevra would have the satisfaction of seeing him break down…
And yet he couldn't look away.
The image of Ginevra bit her lip, almost as if fighting back tears – well, he thought, that part of the illusion is wrong, because Ginevra would never cry for no reason – and then she ran towards him, fighting through the crowd.
Tom watched without breathing as she came closer and closer, running as fast as her short legs could carry her forwards, and then she was directly in front of him, and she flung her arms tightly around his neck and kissed him hard.
It was so perfect that it was getting to the point where it was all going to boil over and it was going to be agonising – this illusion was brilliant – the smell of apples that he'd been longing for, a six-week despair – the sweet, powerful taste – the long, vibrant red hair – the bold, round eyes – the spray of untidy freckles - the warmth of her small body crushed against his –
And then he gasped against her mouth as reality hit him.
It wasn't an illusion.
He took her in his arms, lifting her higher, his hands pressed against the small of her back, her fingers tangling in the shorter hair at the back of his neck, his eyes closed in what could only be described as pure bliss-
He couldn't breathe, but it didn't matter, nothing mattered – she was here – but then she broke away, dragging in air, tears in her eyes, and instead buried her face into his shoulder, hugging him so tightly that it would have hurt, were he not now invincible.
"What are you – why – I don't – you said – the letter – it-"
Lightly, Tom set her back on solid ground, but not letting go of her, not trusting whatever higher power existed that she wouldn't just disappear.
"I know, I know, and I'm so sorry, but I'm here now and I'm never going to leave…" she whispered, hugging him desperately. Against the side of his neck, he could feel her short eyelashes flutter, and he could feel the tears threatening them.
Hartwin and Philips came sprinting down from the other end of the hallway, and Tom had to fight the urge just to hold her and never let go – to keep her for himself – to pick her up and run away where it could just be him and her and no-one else, forever.
Ginevra turned briefly to see them, and grinned, but then her expression became soft and serious; she looked back up into Tom's face. "Tom?"
He'd forgotten how perfect his name sounded when she said it. He could only nod, staring into her eyes and watching the million colours of green, brown, gold, beauty – swirling around, chaotic, peaceful.
She seemed to be hesitating, and then said gently, "I was just wondering… are you… are you in love with me?"
In an instant, he was paralysed. Everything emotion in his body had swelled to an inconsolable happiness when he saw, and now… now… he didn't know. He could hear his heartbeat in his ears. He struggled to breathe, but nothing was coming out. Nothing was working. Everything had been shut down in this all-consuming, blinding panic.
It was everything he'd always been terrified of.
It was everything he'd ever dreamed of.
It was the chance that he'd been able to make possible.
It was the destruction of everything he knew.
It was losing her all over again.
It was winning her and keeping her forever.
It was loving her.
Tell her. Tell her you love her.
His throat was extremely tight, extremely dehydrated, his chest heaving as he tried to breathe, a dry feeling as though he was going to be sick filing his mouth-
"I – I think so," he blurted out, his stomach clenched so tightly that he thought that he was just going to cave in and collapse. "I – yes."
Ginevra sighed, sounding relieved, and she pushed her face into the side of his neck, breathing deeply. "Good," she murmured. "Because otherwise telling you that I love you too could have been really awkward."
A nervous laugh broke out of him. "What?"
Because he could have sworn he heard an 'I love you too' somewhere in that sentence, but that couldn't be right… could it?
"You heard what I said."
'Because otherwise telling you that I love you too could have been really awkward'.
'Telling you that I love you too'.
'I love you'.
Tom's breath rushed out very quickly, the tightness in his stomach easing. "Yes…" he mumbled, holding her and never wanting to let go, kissing her hair, breathing in that smell of apples, smiling. "I did."
Then, too soon, much too soon, she was torn away to be embraced tightly by her best friends. He didn't mind. It didn't matter if she wasn't in his arms… she loved him.
Still, he held onto her wrist, feeling her pulse throb underneath his fingers. That heart… was, for some reason, his.
She looked up at him in surprise, biting her lip in a shy curiosity, biting back her smile as he pressed his lips to the inside her wrist. "I love you," he whispered against her faintly-freckled skin, and then let go, straightening up.
The strongest smile that he'd ever allowed to be revealed past his protective shield in public flickered onto his lips.
It was the most perfect, most beautiful, happiest illusion that he'd ever had fill his brain – and the rest of him, taking over everything in this moment. She was here. She was back. She was never leaving. She loved him.
And the best part was that it wasn't even an illusion.
-SOB- I love it. He's so fluffy that he's like a duckling. Aw. What a messed up comparison. Well, Fast-Forward should be coming very soon – in a week, at most, two days, at least – but not immediately, because I still need to sort out the plot. But it's coming! I'm so excited! YAY. By the way, just curious, did anyone notice in this chapter, at the start, that he was moving towards Voldemort-ness before she came back? Like, how he hated his name. Just wondering.
Major thanks to:
storm-brain – for making the world's sexiest Rewind trailer on Youtube!
MadeNew – for writing up Press Play from Tom's POV for me!
Everyone who's read this far, and who hasn't thought it was terrible; everyone who's reviewed; everyone who's pestered me for updates on a daily basis. :D
The likes of MGMT, Sarah McLachlan, Rascal Flatts, Coldplay, Paramore, Keane, Delerium, Eisley, Elliot Minor, The Gaslight Anthem, Relient K, and other artists or bands whose music is too amazing for words.
My band. We've written at least two Tom-Ginny based songs. XD We really need to get lives. I don't know why I had to put that up here.
P.S. I Love You, The Notebook, Moulin Rouge, A Walk To Remember, My Girl, The Duchess, the music video of Stupid, and all the other films that I've stolen ideas from.
Oh yeah! J.K Rowling. Thanks, you. :D
And now? We wait for Fast-Forward. …Have fun. I hope that the suspense eats you.
WOW! What's 60 minus 23? I can't count. Because however much that is, that's how many days it took me to write, edit and finish posting ALL of Backtrack. I'm pretty amazing, if I say so myself.
THIRTY-SEVEN! I GOT IT! Thirty-seven days.
Oh my God, I'm pathetic. It took me like ten minutes to work out 60 minus 23. I'm supposed to be choosing to Maths at Sixth-Form… with like square roots and pi and stuff. I'm going to be crap.