i’m like the rain
If she was going to break her friend’s heart, she was going to do it herself, not let time take care of it.
The steady staccato of the rain drumming down on the fabric of the red umbrella was meant to soothe her. There was a beat to it, something that she could count just as easily as if it was music – one, two, three, and four. Still, when the rhythm of the raindrops matched the beat of her heart, she could hardly let herself relax.
The smallest of facts functioned as triggers. Last week it had been because someone had complimented how chaste she was. Yesterday it was because someone had been wearing a bracelet with an awfully familiar infinity sign. And today? The barista had had green eyes in the same exact shade as Chastity’s.
There was really no way to escape her, nor how she felt.
Tatiana heaved a sighed and leaned against the brick wall of the café, her raincoat squeaking from the water that ran in rivulets off the ends of her umbrella. It had been almost exactly one month since sixth year had ended, since she’d known that she was her friend’s greatest desire, and she still wasn’t sure how she was to proceed from here forward. There was no such thing as ‘letting someone down easily’, as much as she wished there was.
So instead she ran. If there was one thing that the brunette was good at, it was running from her problems.
There was movement from the corner of her eye, and then a figure stepped out of the café, lifting a black umbrella to shield herself from the rain. Tatiana stifled a groan – of all the coffee shops in wizarding London, all of the places she could have been at this particular time, she’d had to choose this one.
She mustered her brightest smile and turned to the side. “Hey, Chas!”
The other wasn’t so cheerful. “You’re avoiding me.”
“I’m doing no such thing.”
“You haven’t written since school ended. Usually I see you at least once during the summer.” Uncomfortably, Chastity leaned against the wall beside her friend, her posture with the umbrella mimicking Tatiana’s exactly. There was a stiff pause for a few seconds, and then she added, “We’re beyond the point of pretending that what happened didn’t happen.”
“Yeah,” the beater breathed in agreement.
There was another pause, this one just as tense as the first, before Chastity asked, her gaze level on the street in front of them, “So are we going to talk about this? You like to talk.”
“I don’t really want to talk about this,” Tatiana attempted.
She was cut off. “You know, if you don’t feel the same way or just want me to drop it, you can just say so.” Chastity turned, about to enter the café again, when there was suddenly a slender hand on the crook of her arm, pulling her back.
“Wait.” Tatiana regretted it already, but it needed to be said. If she was going to break her friend’s heart, she was going to do it herself, not let time take care of it. “Fine. Let’s talk. But not here.” She shot a shifty glance toward the café, uncomfortable with having this conversation right beside the glass, where if she cried, everyone inside could see her.
Chastity paused and then nodded, relenting finally, and the brunette released her before she began to walk to the left, getting a bit away from the main street as the redhead followed. The alley beside the café was isolated, just perfect for this sort of discussion – well, Tatiana thought that there was nowhere in the universe perfect for a discussion like this, but it wasn’t public, which was all she could want for right now.
The rain continued steadily, her boots splashing through puddles on the sidewalk until she turned around to face her friend, eyes not averted for once.
“Chas,” she bit her lip, “You’re my best friend. You know that, right?”
The redhead gave her only a shallow nod, nothing changing in her eyes (was that hope in her gaze? Was it dread?)
“But –“ and here she sighed, and Chastity did not flinch but remained stoic, her gaze locked on the other, the black umbrella above her shading her face so it appeared several shades darker.
Before Tatiana could get the words out, there was a splash at the other end of the alley, and a thick, faintly delighted voice was greeting them. “Ladies! What lovely jewelry you have.”
Her heart sank. This was wizarding London; she could expect muggers here, of course, but somehow the fact that they were magical made things even worse than she could stand. It was bad enough that humans were capable of this, but witches and wizards, her own population could do the same as well, and she hastily took a step back. Chastity turned but didn’t move.
“We haven’t got any jewelry,” Tatiana called back, hoping fervently that they’d believe her.
“Then what’s that?” The man didn’t believe them. He stepped closer, pointing at the bracelet on Tatiana’s wrist. Chastity glanced sideways, and then her gaze darted up to meet Tatty’s in shock at the sight of the infinity symbol, the familiar bracelet from years ago.
Tatiana didn’t respond and instead pulled her wrist back, stuffing her hand into her pocket and fumbling for her wand. She was seventeen now, but still a student – she couldn’t use magic outside of Hogwarts. Instead, she took a step closer to her friend, their umbrellas bumping over their heads.
The man stepped closer, and now the two took a step back in unison. It continued in this vein until suddenly the wet bricks of the alley wall were behind the two, and there was nowhere left to go. The man grinned as he noticed this, and he stepped closer – so close, that the taller witch shrunk away from him. He reached out savagely and ripped the bracelet from her wrist.
“Don’t.” The word was spoken from the side, Chastity suddenly and unexpectedly savage. “Get the hell out of here unless you want to regret it.”
The man laughed. “And what are you going to do about it?”
And if Tatiana was rule-minded, then Chastity thought with only safety in mind. She whipped her wand out and pointed it at the man. “Don’t think that I won’t do it,” she hissed. “Because I will. I swear to Godric that I’ll do it.”
Almost lazily, the man flicked his wand, already bored with them having put up a fight. The redhead gasped, and there was suddenly blood blossoming across her front, staining her white shirt with crimson that was very much unlike the red of her hair. Tatiana was too shocked by her friend to notice that the mugger turn and ran, eager to escape the crime scene.
“Chas,” she clutched onto the witch, who fell sideways. Slowly, Tatiana lowered her friend down, her umbrella slipping from her grip as she did so. The ground was slick with rain. At one point, the petrichor that emanated from the ground soothed her, but right now, she was all too occupied with the growing stain across her friend’s front. “Oh, Rowena. Okay. Alright. I’m going to go get help from the barista or someone in the café.”
She made to get up, but her friend’s hand grabbed her arm and she couldn’t. “He took your bracelet,” Chastity murmured.
Tatiana shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. You’ll get me another one, won’t you?” She tried for a smile, but it was shaky. Her lips quivered.
Chastity reached out with the other hand, sliding the bracelet off of her own wrist. “You can have mine.” She placed it in Tatiana’s grasp, but the dark-haired girl shook her head.
“Chastity. I can’t. I need to get you help.”
“There’s no use.” The redhead placed a hand to her stomach. “It’s the Cutting Curse. I’m going to bleed out here.”
She seemed to sense her friend’s tears a split second before they fell, because she turned abruptly and tugged at Tatiana’s arms before the taller witch could bury her face in them to cry. “It’s okay. I’ll get to see Violet again. It’s been ages, anyway.”
Tatiana shook her head fervently, but Chastity wasn’t done. “You never told me,” she shifted, wincing in discomfort, and the brunette grabbed her hand, hoping it would offer relief in some form. If nothing else, perhaps it was just companionship. “What were you going to tell me?”
If she wasn’t so scared, the brunette might have laughed. Instead, she shook her head wearily. “Now’s not really the time.”
The brunette paused, catching her lower lip between her teeth. Chastity plowed forward, albeit a bit hesitantly – although whether it was from the fact that her energy was draining or merely because she was apprehensive about the answer, Tatiana didn’t know. “Do you love me?”
“Yes.” The reaction was immediate, no hesitation or thought involved in what was so obviously a fact.
Chastity smiled and closed her eyes. Her hand in Tatiana’s went limp. It was still raining, and the brunette wasn’t sure if she was crying of if it was merely the rain running in streams down her face, but she swiped at it with her free hand and added in a whisper to her friend’s lifeless body, “Just not the way that you love me.”