Our love is doomed. I've always known it, yet no matter how often I vow to break it off, I find another way to justify our affair. It is an endless circle: we love each other, but we can never be together. Our passion is intense, but if we make a single misstep the consequences will be dire. I should not—cannot risk it. There is no chance for us. We are too different.

When we met, I was on the rebound. I had had another love—Constance—but I was forced from her side. Everything is about money, you see. Quite a few Galleons exchanged hands, and then I found myself here. I am a desirable parti, you see. That is why I was thrust into another woman's arms, almost against my will. How humiliating—to be bought and sold like a House Elf. Of course, I am fond of my new woman. Indeed, the moment she'd walked in the door—the moment I first saw her—I was drawn to her. I share her bed often enough.

However, in the end, ours is a strictly financial arrangement, though I'm not sure she realizes it. Indeed, I am fond of her. She loves me, cares for me, and treats me well. She provides me with everything I need to survive in these hard times. Yes, I'll watch out for that woman. I'll protect her from any trouble. It is my duty.

But I can't love her. Not this way. Not the way I love the other one.

I still remember the first time I saw my beloved. Dark, soft hair. Big, green eyes. A perfect, pert nose. I remember the way her pupils dilated when we looked at each other. At that moment, time stopped. In that instant, I realized that she felt the same thing I did. A mere second, and I forgot about Constance. I even forgot the chains that bind me to the woman who paid for my—services. There was no one but her—with her tawny beauty and light, graceful step—and there never will be. Not for me.

But she, too, is taken. She belongs to another man, and she rarely escapes his arms. When she does, it isn't for long. Back then, whenever she could slip away, we would meet in secret. There are lots of empty rooms in this castle—many of them romantic, filled with candlelight and the scent of ink, parchment, and children. In those days, we'd just sit side by side in silence. We'd perch for hours, gazing out the windows at the lake that sparkled below. Together, we'd watch birds swoop over the hills. We'd see their freedom and ponder the fruitlessness of our passion.

Then, I found a place where we could be safe—alone and together—with no fear of discovery. I found the knot, you see, at the base of the Whomping Willow. Just one touch and the tunnel of love opens. As soon as I could, I showed her what I'd discovered—where that pathway leads. Certainly, the Shrieking Shack is not a romantic place—not like those empty rooms with their candles and the warm, beautiful patches of light that filter through ancient leaded windows.

But the Shrieking Shack is ours—a hideaway that few others know and fewer care to visit. It is the only place we can express our passion. It is also where we finally consummated our affair. It is where we first experienced ecstasy. Although I push away the guilt—the knowledge of the probable consequences of our actions—I cannot resist returning again and again. To be with her. To be next to her. I cannot restrain myself—especially after a few cold nights spent curled up next to that other female—the one who bought me like chattel.

In those long, dark hours, my mind wanders to my lover's soft, silky hair. To its intoxicating scent. I recall the way she shivers when I rub my rough, dark whiskers against her cheek. I remember the taste of her. The way she mewls as I work my way down her body. The way she reciprocates. Despite our vows, we inevitably return to our little hideaway, the place we first expressed our love in the physical sense.

Oh, the pleasures we've shared . . . even telling you about them now makes me warm and . . . uncomfortable.

I pray we are never discovered. I fear for us. Her man would not take kindly to it if she came home pregnant. And it's worse than that, for I have the gift of magic and she does not. Yet although I have this gift, I am only a Half-Blood. If our love bears fruit, then the little ones might not be magical. I don't know if I could bear it. In our world, Squibs are treated worse than Muggles. Our people—our hateful people—are filled with prejudice. I cannot bear to think of what they might do to our little darlings . . . if they are not like me.

I have tried to explain all this to my lover, but she doesn't understand the magnitude of the problem. She has eyes only for me, and it's dangerous. Someday, her man will notice that she's wandered off. Someday, he will lock her away. Someday, I will be forced from her side. No matter how often I tell her how hopeless our situation is, she does not—or will not—understand why I will have to leave this castle. Why it is inevitable that I go, while she remains behind.

There are times I think that we don't speak the same language.

Yet night after night, we meet here. Night after after night, we tumble together on that filthy old mattress. And night after night, she awakens in terror, convinced that there are rats and giant snakes and other . . . creatures . . . crawling over our prone, satiated bodies. If they came near her, I'd kill them, I swear I would. I'd kill any creature that tried to harm my beloved.

But her fears always prove to be nightmares.

Perhaps she does understand when I tell her that our love is hopeless. Perhaps that is why she has those dreams—dreams that make her twitch and kick and scrabble against an invisible foe, scratching me in the night. I wonder who that enemy is—that man, who could shut her up in some dungeon, or me, who put her in an impossible position. Compromised her. Made her feel passion and pleasure that she'd never felt before, despite her name. After all, her man is an impotent fool. Everyone knows that, and they mock him behind his back.

Tomorrow, I will end this tragedy. I will find a way to escape her intoxicating scent. I will learn to go the other direction when I see her coming down the hallway. I will force myself give her the cut direct—to turn tail and run. I will flee from her. I will find a hideaway where she can never follow. Where she will be powerless to find me—no matter how sharp her emerald eyes may be.

But I don't want to. Merlin, I don't want to. If only we could stay here, in our snug-yet-filthy hideaway. No rats, no snakes, no disapproving witches and wizards looking down on us. If only our nightly waltz could end, if only we could escape this painful spiral—the parting and the coming together (and oh, oh, the coming together . . . how I will miss it when I am gone!).

Even now, as we lay together nose to nose, limbs tangled, I can hear the lark's song. Doubtless, she will pretend it is the nightingale, but I know better. I can admit the truth. I can hear the notes that are hanging in the air. It is not a love-song. It is a dirge, and it is playing for us. It's over now. It must be over now. If nothing else will end our suffering, than death will have to do.

This is a cruel world. There is no room for our love. Not for us.

Not for a cat and a Kneazle.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This was originally written for the Shakespeare Challenge (Romeo and Juliet). Reviews—and especially constructive criticism—are warmly welcomed.

SHOUTOUTS: Thank you to Cookies-and-Ink and Montley for reviewing and favoriting!

52 WEEK CHALLENGE: Week Five (compulsory prompts: endless, spiraling).

DISCLAIMER: The Harry Potter universe and all canon characters belong to J.K. Rowling, not me.