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Phoenix Rising
A Harry Potter RPG
The Promise 
10th-Oct-2006 08:10 pm
intense
The candles flicker and sputter in the warm breeze as the waves lap onto the shore, leaving frothy fans of lacy foam as they recede. I glance around, making sure that there aren’t any Muggles (or anyone for that matter) on this crescent-shaped, sheltered area of the beach and then bend down and enchant the candles so that they won’t blow out. It’s a little spell that Oliver showed me.

I wanted to do something special for Padma. After everything that happened in the labyrinth, the excitement of Lav and Oliver’s wedding, and celebrating with friends, I thought we needed some time alone. In particular, time spent not talking about Horcruxes, the Order, Lucius, or worrying about what’s going on in England right now.

Padma has a vague impression that Snape was somehow there when the Horcrux was destroyed by Hera’s phantoms. I can’t say either way as I don’t remember what happened, but as time passes she seems to grow increasingly unsure of what exactly transpired. I believe her, but I can’t reason out why or how Snape could be there – we never saw him with the other Death Eaters. In fact, nobody’s seen or heard of him since he disappeared all those years ago. The last time I ever laid eyes on him was when he and Draco were fleeing Hogwarts the night Dumbledore was murdered. Furthermore, it makes no sense to me that if he was there, why he’d just stand by and let his fellow comrade, Mulciber, be turned into a phantom (not that he didn’t deserve it). But I shouldn’t even attempt to understand the inner workings of the criminal mind – I’ve seen enough to know that it’s a dark and twisted place.

Let it go. It’s over. Finally, a small voice repeats again.

It is over. My father’s notebook is destroyed along with all of his DoM research, including the proper Horcrux-bonding ritual. The two remaining ancient Horcruxes are gone. And now Lucius can’t get his hands on any of it.

I pause and gaze out at the rows of rolling waves emerging out of the flat pane of deep water caressing the horizon. So many things have changed this past year; it’s hard to believe that it’s all been real: reconnecting with long old friends like Lavender and Parvati who I thought I’d lost forever; finding new friendships with Justin, Oliver, Neville, Susan, Ernie, and crazy Luna; overcoming past misunderstandings with Ron; meeting Padma.

Smiling, I let her name run through my head. Padma. Her name means lotus in Sanskrit. The lotus flower is a strong symbol of triumph and reawakening. The flower rises out of the muddy bottom of relatively stagnant water and slowly fights its way to the surface where it blooms and flourishes into something beautiful. I think there couldn’t be a more appropriate name for her especially after everything she’s been through this past year with Diego and then our relationship.

I suppose that this year has been a reawakening for me as well: returning to the wizarding world, rediscovering magic, finally letting the past rest, finding Padma. All of those things don’t seem as insignificant when lined up next to each other.

Ever since I stopped working at the Ministry, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and I’m ready to start back on the path that I left after Zara’s death. I’ve been looking casually into art schools. I’ve mentioned this in passing to Padma, but she doesn’t know that from Hope’s prompting, I put in an application to a Magical Art Institute in Paris at the last minute and got my acceptance owl this morning – the heavy parchment is still in my pocket. To be honest, I was flabbergasted because I really didn’t expect to get accepted. It was such an unlikely scenario that I had filed it away in the back of my head and then promptly forgot about it with all of the recent drama.

The windows of villa that Padma and I have rented for the next couple of weeks glow in the growing twilight. From where I stand, it’s framed between the boughs of a couple of fig trees and looks like something out of a fairy tale. Padma’s shadow passes in front of one of the windows and then she appears at the front door. The breeze is running through her hair. She’s puts her hand up to her forehead and begins to scan the beach below. It feels like home.

Home. Funny how I could be thousands of miles away from home, yet it feels like I’m there. Things just seem so much more real and focused when she is around….

I blink as realization hits. If I moved to Paris, I’d have to be prepared to be away from her for a long while. I couldn’t ask her to move – there’s nothing for her in France. Her family is in London. Her job is in London. Her friends are in London.

Watching her, I understand that some things are more important than a degree. Love doesn’t come around that often and second chances only happen once. Perhaps I could go back to studying Muggle Art instead at Byam Shaw in London. It’s not so different. Magical Art can be pretty pretentious. And who is really interested in wand sparks anyway?

The letter in my pocket makes a crinkling sound. I pull it out and without glancing at it, shove it to the bottom of the picnic basket before turning to jog up to the villa to fetch Padma. This is her night. There are plenty of things to celebrate, I remind myself as I plaster a smile to my face. I decide that I’ll just mention Paris in passing because I’ve vowed that there won’t be any more secrets between us.
 
10th-Oct-2006 08:18 pm (UTC)
Dean’s disappeared again. I’ve searched the villa and scanned the beach, but he hasn’t turned up anywhere. If I wasn’t completely confident he knows better than to run off without telling me again, I’d be worried. Still, you never know when a Death Eater that escaped will turn up and cause trouble.

“Padma!”

I run to the door and smack Dean in the arm before he can get out another word. “Don’t disappear like that again! My nerves are still a little shot.”

He gives me a goofy grin and grabs my hand. “Trust me.”

“What?” I ask as he pulls me out the door. “Where are we going?”

“It’s a surprise.”

Dean takes me down the path towards the beach, my curiosity increasing with every step. Dean’s not one to plan big surprises, so I’m not sure what to expect. I think he’s been working on this all day though, as it would explain how quiet he’s been. I had just assumed he had been thinking about things a lot, like I’ve been.

“Dean,” I gasp as I see the blanket set up on the beach surrounded by candles. “It’s beautiful.” He doesn’t say anything as he leads me to the blanket and helps me sit down. He sits down beside me before reaching behind us and pulling out a picnic basket. “When did you do all this?” I ask, slightly in awe.

“Doesn’t matter,” he shrugs. “I wanted to do something nice for you, to, you know, make up for the whole running off thing and getting you involved in this whole Horcrux mess.”

I lean over and kiss him gently. “You didn’t have to do anything. Being together is enough.”

“I wanted to,” he replies, kissing me again. He opens the basket and pulls out a plate of biscuits and two bottles of Butterbeer. “Not gourmet, but good.”

“Wonderful,” I smile before taking a bite. “Honestly, Dean, this is wonderful.” I lean against him and he puts his arm over my shoulders.

“You deserve wonderful.” He pauses and sighs before adding, “Not the prat I’ve been lately.”

“Let’s not think about anything bad tonight,” I reply. “Let’s just enjoy the beach, the food, and the company.” We sit in silence for a few minutes, both lost in our own thoughts. I can’t get my mind off how weird it’s going to be to go home after everything we’ve been through. I feel so different, yet nothing at home has changed. It’ll be like we’re going back in time or something; the same job that keeps me working long hours, the same empty apartment, and the same routine that I’ve gotten used to lately. It’s not that it is a bad routine; it just feels a little empty.

10th-Oct-2006 08:19 pm (UTC)
“I have something I want to talk to you about,” Dean says after we’ve finished dinner just as the sun begins to disappear on the horizon. The sky is a brilliant shade of red and purple, and for some reason it makes me think about the dress I wore when Dean did my portrait.

“What is it?” I ask, resting my head against his shoulder and kicking my sandals off.

He pauses for a long while and then says, “There’s an opportunity for me to study art in Paris…” His voice trails off and I can feel him looking at me for any kind of response, but I can’t bring myself to take my eyes off the sunset. “I want you to know that I love you, and would do anything to be with you. I wanted you to know that I’ve thought about our relationship…”

My heart drops to my stomach as Dean continues to talk. He’s leaving. I love Dean, but there isn’t anyway I could ask him not to go study in France for me, and I don’t think it would be my place to invite myself to go with him. I want what’s best for him, and if we’re meant to be together things will work out.

“When are you going?” I interrupt, digging my toes into the warm sand. A chill sweeps through my body and I shiver.

Dean stops mid-sentence. “What?”

“When are you leaving?” I repeat.

“For where?”

I take a deep breath and exhale the words: “For Paris.”

Dean turns me toward him, his hands warm on my shoulders. “Padma, haven’t you been listening to what I’ve been saying?” His voice is quiet and unaccusatory, but I can’t bear look at him. Instead, I watch my fingers fiddle with the corner of the blanket. He runs his hands down my arms and stills my fidgeting by taking my hands in his. “I’m not going to Paris. I’m staying in London with you.” I look up to find his eyes locked on mine, his face earnest.

I want to hug him and tell him that staying in London for me is the right choice, but it would be the wrong thing to do. “I love you, Dean, but you have to go to France,” I finally say, pulling my hands away. “I would hate myself forever if you gave up this opportunity because of me.”

“All I care about right now is being with you,” he argues.

“Dean, we’re not even living together,” I sigh, looking back to the water and toy with a piece of my hair. “We’d still be able to see each other … you just wouldn’t be across the hall anymore. It’d be different if you’d moved into Parvati’s old room, but this won’t be too much of a change. We’ll make it work.” I’m lying through my teeth, but I have to try to convince him to go. It’s what’s best for his career.
10th-Oct-2006 08:22 pm (UTC)
“We’d still be able to see each other….” she pauses and draws a breath, “you just wouldn’t be across the hall anymore.…”

She’s making this sound like me being across the hall has been a huge accident.

Padma isn’t looking at me again. She only does that when she’s upset, not angry upset, but sad or hurt upset. I thought that she’d be happy that I’m not going to Paris, that I’d rather be with her, and that I want our relationship to be more serious, not sad or hurt or….

She begins to twirl a curl around her fingers.

….nervous.

“…it’d be different if you’d moved into Parvati’s old room, but this won’t be too much of a change. We’ll make it work,” she finishes.

“What do you mean, ‘It’d be different if I’d moved into Parvati’s old room’?” I ask slowly.

“Well, it just would,” Padma says vaguely, hugging her legs with her arms. “Living together makes things different.

“No, that’s not what I meant; you’re making it sound like we’d talked about me moving into Parvati’s room before.”

“Because we did.” The undertones of hurt lie under her words. Maybe she senses that I’m about to say something because she adds hastily, “Well, that’s not technically true. We didn’t really talk about it because you never said anything. I asked you during our portrait-drawing session … and I figured that it was your way of letting me down without turning me down straight out so I just let it go. I mean, who wants to be outright rejected and….”

Merlin! What?

Despite the fact that Padma is still talking like she does when she’s nervous, I can’t help but start chuckling. I cover my face with my hands and shake my head.

“What’s so funny?”

“All this time I’ve been wondering … wanting to ask you about moving in together, not knowing how you felt about it.” I flop backwards onto the blanket. “And this whole time you’ve been thinking that I didn’t want to.” This is bordering on the line between the insanely hilarious and unbelievably stupid.

Padma’s face pops into view as she leans over, her hair spiraling down toward me. “Dean, are you serious?” she asks, her eyes wide.

I look up at her and say sheepishly, “I was really nervous during our portrait session and … uh … I don’t think I heard you. I was distracted.”

Padma freezes.

“It’s not that I don’t listen to you!” I blurt out. “And I do want to, you know, cohabitate and all –”

Then her mouth curls into a small grin and she beings to giggle. My eyes catch hers and we both lose our composure. Soon both of us are laughing, our voices echoing down the deserted beach. Later when we’ve managed to calm down and night has descended, I pull my eyes away from the stars and glance down at the head nestled on my shoulder and ask, “Why do we keep having these miscommunications?”

Padma props her chin on my chest and looks up at me, her eyes twinkling in the candlelight. “It’s because you don’t listen,” she says playfully.

“Come again?” I ask, cupping my hand over my ear. She reaches up at bats my hand away then yelps when I roll over so she’s beneath me. “I was because I was just too busy thinking about how amazing a certain witch was, how much I loved her, and how much I wanted to spend more time with her,” I tell her.

Padma beams. I lean down and give her a kiss. “Padma, will you move in with me?” I say against her lips.

Her arms move up my back and I feel her smile. “I think I would love Paris,” she whispers back.

I pull away. “No, we should stay in London. You have a job and your family –”

She shakes her head as that determined gleam fires up in her eyes. “You need to go to France, so I’m coming with you.”

Then we both blurt out at the same time:

“I’m staying in London.”

“But I want to go to Paris.”
10th-Oct-2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
We stare at each other. Then I snort and drop my head onto her shoulder. “OK, well, I guess this is going to make living together difficult.” Her shoulders begin to shake with silent laughter. “We need to be saved from ourselves,” I groan and roll onto my side, feigning desperation.

Padma touches my face and I turn my head to find her looking at me seriously. “Dean, I think I just really want a change. I enjoy my job, but I miss doing more active research. I want to get back into ancient texts again like what I was working on in Egypt, only without the parts involving Dark Magic and Lucius Malfoy,” she smiles as her hand drift to the back of my neck and she pulls me toward her. “This is my choice. This is what I want.” Her eyes are honest.

Something inside of me breaks open and I know that I could never deny her anything. I grin like an idiot. “I would love nothing more than for us to move to Paris together.”

She kisses me and I lose my breath. The night sky is still whirling crazily as she snuggles into my shoulder and I wrap the blanket around her.

“So we’re going to France. And I’m quitting my job!” Padma wiggles excitedly and then adds with a little laugh, “This is so unlike me! Parvati’s not going to believe it!” She turns toward me, her face flushed and eyes dancing. “Let’s go to Thailand! Then I could tell Parvati. I’m quitting my job anyway … and it would be just for a visit, but we could maybe do a little traveling, too. I’m sure Olga and Tav could make us a couple of Portkeys….”

I smile and my heart fills as Padma continues to babble in that adorable way only she can. I let her words wash over me and as the dome of stars above us wink and shimmer as the candles burn down, allowing the night to cocoon us in darkness. I silently thank the powers that be for bringing us together, for giving both of us a second chance. I lean down and brush my lips against hers.

“What’s that for?” she asks.

“It’s a promise for our next adventure,” I say quietly.

Padma squeezes my hand. “And a promise that we’ll be together.”

I smile and tighten my arms around her. That’s the important thing. A thin line of light streaks across the sky and I make my wish, knowing in my heart that it’ll come true.
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