Title: My Heart Was a Bruised Object
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 24 June 2009
Fandom: Harry Potter
Word Count: 1209
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Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and places belong to JK Rowling. No infringement or monetary gain intended.
Note: The characters are well above the legal age of consent. As for the ending, I would leave that up to interpretation. Enjoy the story.
My first kiss was under a row of maple trees and it tasted of autumn and late evening chill, with just a little hint of cotton candy. Though, truth be told, that would simply be something I wished it was. My first kiss was under a rain of spells and it tasted of blood and smoke, with just a little hint of death. The bittersweet taste of it and the feel of her slightly trembling lips, as if she were about to reciprocate, haunted me for days.
And she slapped me right after. Or again, I wished that was what she had done. Instead, she pushed me away and rubbed at her lips; like she could somehow get rid of that little bit of me I left on her.
It - the action, her look, my crumbling heart - stung and rubbed raw the wrong way. “I’m sorry,” I remembered saying, my lips tugged on ends to form something that should resemble a smile. “It was a joke,” I continued in a whisper. Of course it was not a joke. We were under a hail of attacks and under the impression that it was about to be our last moment on good ol’ earth. Of course it was not a joke, but she did not need to know that.
“Of course,” Tonks agreed a little too readily, like it would somehow make it true, before disappearing afterwards. The last clear image I had of her was her quickly retreating back and the pile of rubble that exploded in her wake: it was beautiful, like the red hair she had sported that night - like fireworks in a black, black night sky.
“You don’t understand,” Tonks had insisted. Her eyes were the deep blue of cobalt that night, and I remembered they took my breath away. Obviously they had taken any coherent thought I had left already. I had promised to be good to my heart and left Tonks well alone, but the brutal reminder of mortality during those days made the need to feel her alive overcome every other need of mine.
We were pushed into a niche, hoping to be forgotten people in a forgotten building. If only it worked out like that. I breathed her (and the smell of a stranger, but it was Tonks and she was a new person every single night) in and cherished our proximity. The heat of her skin seemed to permeate mine (through the thickness of our coats and her gloves and my naked fingers felt like chips of ice as they traced the angles of her cheekbones) and I felt like burning in the English winter.
It was nearly five minutes before she finally pushed me away. Again, but she always allowed me some time to take her in, a part of me hoped she took the time to take me in as well. This time I did not say sorry, but I did tell her, “You don’t understand either.” It was an unfinished sentence and I left her with a meaningful look. Her gaze on my back felt heavy on my shoulders.
It was a beautiful night. I could see the moon in the sky and I could see the silhouette of my first love in a restless dream.
It was a few months after the kiss and our surprise encounter that I ran into Tonks once more. We had different responsibilities in the War and so we rarely met each other and knowing that she had taken some time away from the frontline for my twentieth birthday was definitely cause for a celebration.
“Happy birthday, Gabrielle,” she whispered, careful at keeping her distance from me. It was not like I would be pouncing on her at the smallest hint of an opening. Or maybe I would, if she were to give me a chance opening. She had in her hands a bouquet of yellow roses, which I accepted with all the grace my upbringing had pounded into me. It was a little strange to see such a vibrant sign of life in an otherwise dreary environment. It was however my choice to use my Healer training to contribute to the War effort as I could. It was also a good way of making sure who was alive and who was not.
“I’m twenty now,” I told her, looking straight into her eyes. The colour of the roses burned themselves into my memories. I did not bother with thanks, the way I held her hands captive with both of mine as I also kept a death grip on the bouquet should be telling enough.
“You’re still too young,” Tonks told me, offering a painful smile as she took her hands back. It did not matter that she was dishing me what Remus Lupin had dished her a few years back. The hurt in my chest was of the present and I thought the roses looked especially beautiful bathed in tears.
Happy birthday, Gabrielle.
My heart was a bruised object and I seemed to disregard the state it was in. After all, if I were to care even the slightest bit, I would have stopped this pursuit of an impossible love. Impossible. Improbable. There was a time, only a few months ago, when I could have been able to tell the difference between the two more distinctly than I could now.
But again I came to offer my heart on a silver platter.
“Tonks,” I whispered softly, letting my fingers just ghost over her hand.
“I must look horrible,” she told me in an unusually small voice. Her smile forced its way through a coagulated mess of blood and unidentifiable matter. Her eyes, which I liked to think I was very familiar with, were nearly dead in their weakness. If not for the familiar heat, I would almost not recognise her.
“No,” I told her fiercely, refusing to let my tears fall, “you still take my breath away.” And she did. The first time I fell in love with her, she had looked like an unfortunate cross between a pig and a crow.
Maybe Tonks was confused by the loss of blood, maybe she wanted to do some last-minute charity, but as the Healers came rushing to work on her, she surged up while pulling me down suddenly and pressed her lips haphazardly against what I presumed she expected to be my lips. Her teeth clashed against the corner of my mouth and I tasted blood on the tip of my tongue, death was a strong side taste and I felt a burn in my chest like nothing I had ever felt before. I felt another sorry coming forth and my tears started falling like every single time I had come into close contact with the woman of my dreams.
“You’re still too young,” Tonks whispered and fire trailed across my cheeks where her lips brushed mine as she fell back. It was a rendition of a moment I understood all too well, but this time she kept my hands pressed against her heart and the moment before she lost all consciousness, I thought I felt her heart skip a beat as her eyes fell on me.
Wake up, Tonks.