He was staring at her again. She knew it without needing to look over her shoulder to catch his eyes upon her. She could feel it through the dense air that hung static over the classroom, and the feverish scratching of quill against parchment from all around her that blended into a single omnipotent hum that she sensed lacked his, and the shade of watery autumn light that came in splintered through the drapes and told her beware.

That Tonks boy looks at you funny, you know?

Yes, she knew, and she didn't appreciate being told.

You shouldn't let him act so familiar, Anna.

Everyone was familiar with her. That's what she had been bred for.

You know he's a Mudblood, don't you?

She turned back to the parchment before her and raised her quill and scribbled out something she would not recall once the exam was over. Don't you worry about that, her mother told each of her daughters at one time or another. That boy will take care of you.

She would tell him not to stare, she resolved with herself as her eyes turned to the clock on the wall. He ought not to be allowed to do so.

But he never stopped, and she never told him to, because in the months that followed much of her mind was devoted to planning routes in her life that would prevent her path from overlapping with his.

Months and years of avoidance was the first commitment she ever made and the first thing she was to ever fail at, because allowing him to stare was careless, but allowing him to touch her was treason.

You're going to regret it, her father's voice said it her ear.

'I don't care,' she replied.

There was no room for regret. Not in this world; not in this life. There was only living, and she wanted to begin to do so.

'We're like Romeo and Juliet,' he would tell her one day.

'What does that mean?'

'I don't know.'

It was things like this that confirmed for what she already knew, which was that they couldn't sustain it. They inhabited realities worlds apart from each other, and they had brought them into unceremonious collision when he had reached for her hand in the darkness in those frozen weeks of winter in the depths of the castle.

They were wasting time, and she told him so, and he told her she was wrong.

'I like being with you, so how is it a waste?'

'Because this isn't going to last.'

'Nobody lasts. Either you die or you leave each other. We don't have to do either just now.'

'You're going to get yourself into trouble.'

'I thought you told me I already had?'

Could you regret something you were still in the process of doing? She didn't know, and she waited to find out, but she never did, because her treason never ended. Was it treason if committing the act endured for a lifetime?

She waited to tire of him. She would meet him on the edge of the lake and anticipate the ire that never came.

It will be dull this time. I'll hate him this time.

She lived and breathed in sin. She wondered if lungs could sustain life when they were breathing with such a weight upon them. Where did the weight come from? What was the imperishable lump in her throat composed of? It wasn't guilt and it wasn't fear and she was sure it couldn't be love.

'What do you think you're doing?' she asked him when he caught her wrist.

'I'm going to kiss you, your prat.'


'Why not?'

'Because I feel like I should tell you that.'

'But do you want me to?'

She didn't need to answer.

'You know that I'm in love you,' he told her one day.

'You're such a child,' she replied. 'You're so young.'

'I'm two months older than you.'

'Yes, but you don't know how the world works.'

'Tell me, then.'

'Things like this don't last,' she informed him. 'We're still in school.'

'Aren't you engaged?'

'That's different.'


'That wasn't up to me.'

'And you think that makes it better?'

'It doesn't make it anything. It's just the truth.'

Could a body sustain such disquiet? Could a heart and lungs still pump and could a mind still tick and blood still pulse with a head so full of trepidations demanding remedy more pressing than the incessant ins and out of a body? Did her cells know that the ache inside her pained her more than any wound or blow she had sustained in her short, sorry life?

'I don't know if we should be doing this,' he said.

'Have you finally realised that?'

'It's not about your family.'

'Then what's it about?'

'It's about the fact that I think we've started something we can't finish.'

When she remembered those days, years later, she remembered sun in the sky that blinded her and soft breezes and Ted being beautiful – more beautiful than she knew possible, with laughter on his lips and moonlight in his hair and sunburn on his forehead.

'I don't want to finish it,' she replied.

A/N: Thank you so much for reading! More to come in exchange for reviews xxx