Title: Another Feather Falling Off My Wings
Summary: "Each story is the same; she is Hermione and he is Ron, and they always die too young." / A reincarnation story. One-shot, for Fire the Canon.
Prompt: Advent Calendar challenge- RonHermione, "You're my favourite thing in love."
Day: Three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Recipient: Fire the Canon
Notes: This has been playing on my mind for so long, and I thought it was absolutely perfect for this prompt and for Fire the Canon as part of my December Advent Calendar challenge. It's a little chaotic, but it's supposed to be; isn't love, after all? I sincerely hope you enjoy!
'The other day when someone asked me, "Are you living your dream?" I honestly had to think.' - Colbie Caillat, What Means The Most.
The first time, he is reckless and she is young, and they have the whole world balancing on their fingertips.
They don't know if this is the first time, really; it's as far back as they can remember. It's a time of raw magic, untamed and without wands, and castles being built towards the sky. He is foolish and she is stubborn, but still, they go down in history as something more, and never really know why.
"I don't believe in destiny," she sniffs, braiding back her hair, keeping it out of her face as she pours over another book. "We make our own future."
"What a sad view," he comments, tapping his newly-fashioned wand against his leg. "To think nothing is ever written in the stars."
"I've no use for reading the stars anyway," she tells him proudly, knocking over the crystal ball that sits in the counter. It shatters on the floor, and with a sigh, she whispers a piece of mangled Latin. It pieces itself together, like magic.
"We shan't keep Helga waiting; you know how she suffers so alone with Salazar. Like children." He doesn't say that they are children; they are seventeen and they are reckless and she must accept that.
"Indeed," he agrees, and he watches Rowena leave with wide eyes and a tragic smile. It falls suddenly. "Wait!"
Rowena turns and raises an eyebrow at him.
"You're my favourite thing in love," he says honestly, and she sighs again. Her fingers twitch at her sides and she thinks of images of other lives she might've led (did lead?) and visions of the same boy, the same phrase, and that same smile.
She shakes her head.
"Honestly, Godric. Sentimentality is not your strong point." But still, she smiles, and she allows him to take her hand. A feather falls off her wings, and her future begins again.
"Jonathon, what on earth are you doing?" Anastasia turns with a shriek, closing her book of runes, and hiding her wand between the pages. "I suppose my parents let you in. Don't you know it's rude to creep up on women?"
"I just wondered if you wanted to go dancing tonight," Jonathon asks with smirk. "Ma'am."
"Oh, you're immature." She sighs. "And finally you ask me before someone else does. Like Vikram. Vikram at least had the decency to ask for my hand in advance." Anastasia threads in her earrings, dangling to her collarbone. Her dress is dotted and ruffled and undoubtedly Muggle.
"Yes, yes, I know, Vicky is perfect," Jonathon grumbles. "And I know for a fact that you're alone tonight. No Vikram. No Michael. No David. And I know for a fact that I'm more than willing to accompany you."
"Let us not let a lady wander the streets alone, is that it? It's 1937, Jonathon, and we're thirteen now; surely you've progressed beyond this?"
"No," he replies slowly, leaning against the doorway and looking at her intensely. "I just want to dance with you."
"Oh." Anastasia blushes and hides behind her curled hair. His blue eyes dance and he smiles at her kindly, before offering a hand. She takes it without thinking and definitely does not gasp when definite sparks fly through her fingertips as soon as they meet his.
"You're my favourite thing in love," he says, as though quoting something, someone, and she blinks. Anastasia doesn't even reach for her wand once they leave through the door.
That is the night they die.
And the cycle begins again.
"Margot, please," Charlie begs her, pulling away with a strangled sigh. He lifts his bag higher on his shoulder and bows his head. "I have to leave, you know that."
"But, please, Susie needs you. I need you. How could you leave us?" Margot asks, standing in the doorway to her home with her daughter balanced on her hip. She looks him in the eyes. "I thought you were a better man than this."
"No," he says fiercely, stepping forwards and gripping her hand tightly. "No, Margot. That isn't fair. It's for Susie-"
"I've lost my daughter before and I won't do it again!" Margot screams at him, and Charlie flounders, stepping back and off the stone step.
"Margot - Margot, you didn't have-"
"Her name was Helena," she sobs, "and you forgot. You always forget, and sometimes I do too, but I remember now, Charlie, and I remember that bad things happen when one of us leaves without the other."
"I don't understand," he whispers, and behind him, a siren screeches. His army regulation boots, shining brightly, too brightly, smile up at him.
"You are so brave." Susie looks on with wide blue eyes and matted hair. "In every lifetime, you go to battle and sometimes you win and sometimes you don't, but you never come back. Do you remember that? You never came back, Charlie."
"We have to do this. For - for our country, Margot. It's a world war. You can't expect me to-"
"No. But I can hope," Margot tells him honestly, and she strokes her daughter's head lightly. "I hope and I hope and no good ever comes of it."
"I'll come back. You'll see. You're my favourite thing in love," Charlie says, but his eyebrows have knitted together in worry; he thinks of sleepless nights where Margot mutters about witches and wizards and things that can't exist. He always asks her about it in the morning, but she never remembers.
She never remembers.
"Okay," she murmurs, and he kisses her forehead softly, before running towards the other men, with guns held over their shoulders and shadows under their eyes. They don't make it to the border.
It turns out Margot was right.
"Daniel!" She shouts, stopping him mid-tangent. "For God's sake, Daniel, just leave me alone."
"No, Clara," he replies easily, sitting on her desk and thumbing through one of the many volumes that are scattered across the room. He's wearing all black (he says it's a style he's never seen before and he wants to try it out) and glittery black eyeliner frames his sparkling blue eyes. Surrounding them. Imprisoning them.
Clara shakes her head.
"You're my favourite thing in love," he murmurs, reading from the book with a small smile. She ignores him.
"You shouldn't dress like that, you know," Clara tells Daniel smartly, smoothing down her skirt. "If Miss Lowry catches you like that, she'll have a fit. It's against school regulations."
"School regulations," he mimics. "Honestly. It's so Muggle."
"Oh, never mind," Daniel sighs. He swings his legs restlessly. "Do you believe in magic?"
"Of course not," Clara primly answers, standing up, and closing the lid of the desk next to her. Their year eight maths class is just about to begin, with a test, for heaven's sake, and Daniel was distracting her all of yesterday with David Bowie songs.
"Well, no." For some reason, her mind flits to Daniel, and the odd, extremely numerous Macmillans, with their cloaks and their confusion and even the fact they board at a school somewhere, but Daniel doesn't.
"I don't know if I do either," he mutters, tapping a rhythm on his knee, humming a song she hasn't heard before - something about a cauldron?
"But you like all of that stuff," Clara tells him, confused. He's always liked crystal balls and card readings, and sometimes, he even guesses right, especially when he reads her palm, or her tea leaves, which is quite ridiculous. "Why, just yesterday you were telling me how Queen, that new band, are really undercover wiz-"
"Stop it, Clara!"
Daniel is standing up now, hovering over her with a wild look in his eyes.
"What's wrong?" She walks over to him quickly, placing a hand on his arm. He scrunches his eyes tight shut, as though he's in pain. He gasps then, and his eyes open, bright and confusing and blurry. Why are they blurry?
Clara looks down through her tears. The blood spreads through her school shirt, scarlet against the snow white. She turns, and a woman with matted black hair and a catlike grin stands over her, a knife in one hand and a stick in the other.
"Pureblood squibs are just as bad as these worthless animals, ducky," she cackles with a grin. She raises the stick and there is one flash of green light, then another, then nothing at all.
"Jane, honestly," her mother tells her, smoothing back her hair and hiding the novel under the table. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do with you."
"But I like books," Jane protests, and her mother shushes her loudly, looking around the servants' quarters fearfully. She breathes a sigh of relief when it is confirmed as empty.
"Don't you let any of The Family hear you say that," she says, smoothing down her apron. "You're not supposed to be able to read." With a flick of her wand, Jane's hair is pinned back into a bun and secured into a white hat. "Now, go tend to little Master Sirius."
"But Master Sirius doesn't talk, Mother," Jane tells her softly, her small feet shuffling against the wooden floorboards as she takes the porcelain cup of tea from her mother. "Master Sirius is ill."
"And that is why you must stay with him."
"He's a whole year younger than me," her daughter whispers secretively, leaning close and pressing a kiss to her mother's cheek.
Jane walks carefully up the stairs, not daring to make too much of a noise and wake Mistress Isla, who is more panicked now, what with her Muggle consort, Bob Hitchens. She knocks on one of the old oak doors.
The young boy, only eight years old (and a whole year younger than Jane herself), is pale and unmoving on the end. She likes Master Sirius; he doesn't talk much, but he watches her and he has a kind smile. He doesn't kick her or boss her around like the other members of The Family, with capital letters and all.
Master Sirius isn't watching her now, nor is he smiling.
"Master Sirius, I've bought you herbal tea, as Mistress Black requested." Jane places the tea on the nightstand, next to a piece of paper with 'You're my favourite thing in love' written on it in Mistress Isla's slanted handwriting. She presses a hand to Master Sirius' head. It is cold. "Master Sirius?"
Cautiously, and with a shaking hand, she reaches down and grasps his wrist, pale and thin and still too cold. Jane waits and she waits, but she still feels no pulse.
Master Sirius is still silent. She screams.
"William!" She calls, and she grabs his hand. "William, you shouldn't do this. It isn't right."
"Right?" He retorts. "Marietta, no part of this is right. They were supposed to be my family! My friends! And they deserted me. Now they want me to - want me to-"
His head drops and he slides down the wall and slumps at the bottom, knees pressed against the cold kitchen tiles. A clock chimes above him, but he ignores it. Marietta smoothes her comforting fingers against his forehead, and he whimpers.
"I shan't do it," William tells her honestly, and quietly. "I shan't look them in the eyes and agree to go back to that hell hole I grew up in. The hell hole I was kicked out of when I was eleven."
Marietta sighs softly, and presses a kiss against his cheek.
"I understand," she tells him, and she does, all too well, because she has seen the horrors of the Wizarding World and she has turned her back on it with a smile. She has no place amongst servants and purebloods, curses and unforgivable spells.
Marietta has accepted that. William has not.
"They're prejudiced, love. They can't understand."
But she is reckless and he is young, too young, so they can't understand either.
"We had to work so hard, Etta," he mutters, pressing a hand against the cool tile, just slightly; hanging on by his fingertips. "We're only fifteen. We can't expect to survive here, not in this Muggle world we don't know about-"
"We know enough about it and nothing more shall be said about the matter," Marietta snaps sternly. "We get looked after, even if it's without magic. We don't need magic."
"You're right," William says, breathing a sigh of relief. His family can accept that he won't go home, he won't marry some rich witch with powerful enough genes to override his - his - lack of magic. He won't carry on the name.
William writes them a letter, in basic script and cheap parchment. He doesn't get a reply; well, not a written one at any case.
After all, if their workhouse crumbles while Marietta and William are still in it, it is only coincidence.
"Honestly, Howard, can't you control yourself?" Esmeralda sighs and turns another page. Her eyes are heavy and her feet are tired, but she still stands, ram-rod straight, as Howard catches up with her once more.
"You have to believe me, Esme," he begs, and she begins walking again as her eyes scan across the page, taking in the handwritten wonders of Romeo and Juliet and love at first sight. Howard's black hair comes into view and she stiffens.
She closes her book with a snap!
"How could I, Howard?" She turns towards him angrily, gesturing with her free hand. "It's illogical, impossible even!"
"Nothing's impossible, Esme, you know that," Howard tells her quietly, and she thinks of glimpses of a castle in Scotland that made her think of balls and magic. She thinks of busy London and glances at people in stranger clothes than she, bustling about shops that don't exist.
"Coincidences," Esmeralda mumbles heartily. "A combination of wild imaginations and too much wine."
"You don't drink."
"And how would you know?" She retorts, flustered and scared and just a little in love. "You don't know me! We met one month ago, at the Aronstein Ball. We have conversed a grand total of thirteen times. You cannot know me."
"Your middle name is Jean. You dislike your hair. You read fantasy novels but hide them in the covers of your Latin books. You always try to make your mother and father happy and you believe more in magic than you care to admit. And you always feel as if you're forgetting something. Someone."
"How could you know that?" Esme whispers.
"Because I do know you! I know you as Rowena and Margot and Clara and Marietta and Jane and Anastasia and the girls you've been and the ones you have yet to be. I know Esmeralda. You're my favourite thing in love."
"But you're Howard. Just Howard. And I am Esme. Once one dies, one is accepted by the Lord and returned to the gates of heaven, in the afterlife. One isn't - one isn't reincarnated."
"No," Howard agrees with a small smile. "But we are."
Esme just cries.
"Rebecca, you need to stay here," Michael pleads with her, hugging her tightly and curling her hair around her fingers.
"When have I ever done that?" Rebecca retorts, tearing herself away and grabbing the gun she keeps in her bedside table (because she knows that's where Michael keeps his wand). "In what lifetime have I ever been able to let everyone else do the dirty work?"
"That's irrelevant. And where did you get that gun?"
Rebecca smirks and ties her hair into a ponytail. He laughs.
"You really are my favourite thing in love, you know," he says to her, grabbing round the waist, and closing the front door with a flick of his wand. She smiles back at him, still in awe and wonder of the magic he's showed her and the magic she remembers.
"You tell me that every time," Rebecca murmurs, flicking off the safety catch on her gun and putting on her hat, sighing at the chaos she calls her bookcase. "Even if you don't remember. Why?"
"Guess it's an instinct thing."
He smiles at her, but it falls quickly. "The second world war's been over for ten years now, and Grindelwald's in prison. I don't understand why all these rebellions keep happening," Michael grumbles, and he opens the door with a piece of Latin she's still deciphering.
"Into the breach?" He asks her. She takes his hand, the other still holding her gun, and follows him into the night.
I'd like to tell you that they come back.
But I mustn't tell lies.
They don't know how many lives they have lived; it could be a thousand, for all they know; a thousand faces and a thousand stories and just one ending.
Sometimes they remember; most of the time, they forget. They take different names and similar faces, exact eyes and nondescript smiles; but they are still the same. She reads books and he slays dragons; he is open and she is tired.
Each story is the same; she is Hermione and he is Ron, and they always die too young.
But one lifetime, in a time like ours, Hermione and Ron (Rowena and Godric, Anastasia and Jonathon, Margot and Charlie, Clara and Daniel, Jane and Sirius, Marietta and William, Esmeralda and Howard, Rebecca and Michael, and all those people they never got a chance to be) go out to battle, one last time.
And they come back.
They are tired and hungry and beaten and bruised, but they are alive; they are breathing and bleeding and they've never been happier.
Because in that one moment, she dies of heartbreak; she forgets her wand; he dies on the battlefield; he just can't save her; she watches him on his deathbed; the walls crumble around them; and they don't come back.
Just in that moment, they remember; they remember being witches and wizards, Muggle and Squibs. They remember fighting and they remember dying, side by side, as they have always done.
And then they live. Their future begins. The cycle ends.
Because this is a different life, another tale. This is a story of blue eyes and open books; it is of magic and mystery, Ron and Hermione and flying too close to the sun.
She reads books, and he slays dragons; he is reckless and she is young. But this time, they fall together.