Disclaimer: leylinjan = not JKR.
A.N.: For the Ultimate Pairing Drabble Competition.
I originally wanted to make this one darker, and from Riddle's POV, but then I saw that all the other entries were quite fluffy, so I decided to make it more neutral... O_o.
"Ellen had said that her mother was afraid of the ocean, that it was too cold and too big. The sky was, too, thought Annemarie. The whole world was: too cold, too big. And too cruel. "
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
I kept count over the years.
During the first few months I didn't really notice you, always in the background, but you had a certain presence that became only stronger over time.
After Christmas in first year – you and I were the only ones staying then – I started counting.
You were always expressionless.
It was a game, at first. A secret game, the only one I participated in, and I was the only participant. At first, I also counted the sneers and smirks, the frowns, the rare signs of surprise. But what I was really waiting for, I never saw.
'Why won't you smile? I imagine your smile could lit alight the whole world… no matter how cold.'
When were third years, I could not keep count anymore with just my hands.
It made me feel happy, somehow. Because it was already more than a game, even though I didn't realize it yet.
But you did not smile.
I continued to keep count anyway, not even knowing, why anymore. Even though I had nearly given up on seeing you –
I wondered whether the mask you always seemed to wear around us was a permanent one.
That possibility saddened me.
And I had an inkling… but I did not dwell on it. It would not have done any good. That, I knew already.
They didn't see, not really. None of them did. Not even your housemates saw your mask for what it was.
But they also didn't keep count.
Only I did.
And I noticed the patterns, the repetitions, the seemingly natural but not quite expressions.
I didn't understand why you did it, but I must admit that by then your reasons didn't really matter to me anymore.
I continued to look, although I had given up on counting. By then, I didn't pretend anymore – at least not to myself – that I had just looked because of the game. I didn't even pretend that I was only waiting for you to smile…
When I saw it, I first thought I had only imagined it. I pressed my eyelids together, turned away, and quickly rubbed my eyes. Then I carefully turned my head back.
You were still there. Sitting in the armchair by the window in the history section. Your favourite place in the library, I knew. The place where no one ever went, except for those allowed to speak to you, of which there were few.
And me, of course. I had been there from the very beginning, and you tolerated me, I suppose. Not that I had ever asked. You didn't hold a casual conversation with Tom Riddle.
But there you were, looking at the ring that was glinting in the afternoon sun. It seemed ancient, but this was the first time I saw it on you.
You were smiling.
Coldly, secretly, bitterly, triumphant.
But I didn't care. My heart soared like never before.
I was hopelessly in
For all the good it would do.