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& set this house on fire

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I.

Jumping to her feet, cheering loudly for Slytherin as realisation creeps in: she’d rather see the Quaffle stopped than the Snitch caught.
She claps harder.


II.

The game under darkness: everything below is a blur, everything above an expanding ceiling. New heights, new hopes. Anything seems possible.
He doesn’t notice her.


III.
He’s a mess after practice. His Prefect badge haphazardly placed. An afterthought? She doesn’t know. She tells herself she doesn’t actually care.
Why would she?


IV.
She looks pretty. The worrying part is he doesn’t notice until he’s thinking it. Thoughts like that shouldn’t be associated with her.
She’s a Slytherin.


V.
Her heart is conflicted but her expectations are high. Should she care that he’s beneath her status?
The people within her social group say ‘yes’.


VI.
He isn’t expecting the rumours when they start. The situation amuses him, but the Slytherin table is silent and judging.
He doesn’t stifle his laugh.


VII.
The situation is humourless to her. The accusatory glares keep her silent and distant. She shouldn’t have said anything.
Detrimental results from a hypothetical statement.


VIII.
He takes precautions against confronting his feelings. He prolongs the procrastination until the rest of Gryffindor have decided for him: the rumours are false.
Right?


IX.
Things return to a semblance of its former normality; the tension is tolerable. People talk, the Houses compete.
It’s as if nothing at all happened.


X.
Clouds drift away, the rain dries out, a conscious effort is made to deny acknowledgement of past events. She wonders if...
Not knowing is torment.


XI.
He stays late after practice. The wind drowns out most noise and his pounding heart eliminates the rest.
Up here none of his problems exist.


XII.
She’s aware she goes unnoticed, but isn’t insulted. The patterns he traces across the sky soothe her.
She imagines a coherency to the nonsensical designs.


XIII.
The patterns say something about his future that he refuses to address, too afraid to analyse the story unfolding.
Slipping over one another, lazily entwining.


XIV.
Every hitch of a breath, every stutter over a word, every increased heartbeat could be a warning sign.
She’ll make a note of it all.


XV.
On most days he claims apathy. He’s altering the truth but people are too distracted to take note of it.
One girl is paying attention.


XVI.
He sees her before he notices her, but when he notices her, he stops. Her sudden closeness lets him register that he’s moved.
Albeit belatedly.


XVII.
There are theories she’s had, things she’s wondered. She knows that such private moments are rare.
Now is an apt time to test those theories.


XVIII.
Something’s in the air. The whole castle is brimming with this new secret. Most of the student population collectively roil against it.
Dynamics begin shifting.


XIX.
Should he feel guilty or liberated? He can’t decide. So he does both, with apathy set as his default.
Sweet lies constructed with ersatz happiness.


XX.
Rumours stampede over staircases, unprompted but constantly changing. Houses built from sugarcubes eventually dissolve; they can only withstand so much.
She steps around the puddles.


XXI.
History says: this is the enemy, know her well. But not that well. He’s conflicted, building up boundaries just to knock them down.
Limits disappear.


XXII.
When things get physical it always ends in one of two ways. It’s not violent until someone is bleeding.
She’s never considered a third option.


XXIII.
The bruises don’t mean anything to him, not in the way people assume. He’s received worse from friendly matches.
They tell him to just leave.


XXIV.
She catches people watching her. Seeing the scars they think ‘torments’ and imagine insanity. They can’t appreciate the genius of their relationship.
She’s not surprised.


XXV.
It gets to the point where they are unaware of their actions. Scratching and biting and pinching until they’re satisfied.
He’s numb to it all.


XXVI.
She has mixed feelings when she’s not around him. When they’re together every nothing-fight drives him further away.
It’s a cycle they can’t break.


XXVII.
They get back together when the rage dissipates and the sensation of drowning fades along with it. People warn them it’s dangerous.
They don’t listen.


XXVIII.
Despite limitless aims, he shows restraint. As things speed up he holds at his current position.
In time he’ll get where he needs to be.


XXIX.
Scepticism doesn’t suit him, neither does absolute optimism. He claims it’s realism but she doesn’t believe him.
Still, they both know there’s no real rush.


XXX.
His patience leads him to a zugzwang. If there is a bright side, he’s not seeing it.
How much longer can they keep this up?


XXXI.
With no endgame in sight, precise movements turn sloppy. She throws away the rulebook and rearranges the stars.
She decides what the patterns will be.


XXXII.

Each well-timed glare is another lie. With a standing ovation the blindfolded Houses cheer.
Every version is altered, but it always ends in flames.