It was easy to fall back into the old ways of things, walking to classes with an entourage beside me, scribbling notes and drawing snakes in the margins of my assignments. Sometimes I imagined them coming to life, crawling right off the paper and into my arms, where they would whisper that I was meant for so, so much more.
The second week back at Hogwarts, I found myself walking alone along the edge of the beach. With the water pressing gently against the shore and the sky seemingly so endless, it was hard to remember when things had been so bad.
It hadnt been long since the time of the Dark Lord. Sometimes I wondered if there was still some piece of him left in this world. Some final trick he left in his wake. If he had figured out a way to defy death one last time.
"You're looking inquisitive."
The voice beside me caused me to jump, but I was quick to regain my composure. When I dared to look up, it was into the soft brown eyes of Maddox Gregory, who was staring right back at me.
I forced my pale lips up into a smile. "And you, Maddox, should know better than to creep up upon a lady."
His hand went up to run through his golden hair, so unintentionally disarranged. Oh, he would be my downfall. "I was unaware that you counted, miss," he went on in the faux formal talk. "For, I fear you more than most men."
I wasnt sure how to take those words, whether he meant them or not. In the end I only held his gaze a moment longer before letting my eyes wander back to the surface of the lake. We'd fallen in step beside each other, our black robes fluttering a little in the steady autumn breeze.
We might have pressed on in silence for a good ten minutes, though it was the comfortable sort that I barely noticed. We'd reached the place where the sand at last met the grass, when Maddox came to a sudden stop,. His outstretched hands took my own in their grasp, fingers intertwined. I did my best to ignore the shivers running up my spine.
"I meant what I said before," he told me softly. Even in such a gentle tone, there was a harshness to his words. "You, Guinevere Hart, bloody terrify me."
I opened my mouth, ready to reply with something rather rude and vindictive, but Maddox didnt give me the chance.
"What I mean to say is, I've never met anyone who's infected me quite like you. You're all I've thought about, all I've desired since..." He trailed off, almost seeming to go somewhere else entirely. I waited nervously for him to return. My own head was spinning at what he'd said to me. All I've desired...
"I seem to have some sort of sickness," he said then, with an ironic sort of grin. "I cant keep you out of my head."And then he was leaning in, and I was pressing my body closer to him. Maddox's arms slipped around my waist as I tilted my head back. My lips hung only centimeters away from his-
-and everything went black.