Breaking It Off
The waves were breaking just a few yards beyond the shoreline. Hard crashes were followed by turbulent churning, the dark turning into white, though only for a moment. Gusts of wind picked up the foamy mist and whipped it onto the sand, into her hair, against her cheeks, turning them red with the brute cold of it. And it was just as she wanted it to be, just as it should be. For the turmoil of the stormy shore matched her frantic and jumbled emotions, the shock,the betrayal, the grief. At least it did at first. As always, the steady rhythm of the sea calmed her and allowed her to ponder. Her mind, at first full of disordered thoughts muddling any sense of coherence, slowly began seeking routes to clarity.
It had happened that way before, she thought to herself as she licked the salty spray off her lips and breathed deeply. Her pulse was already slowing, her breathing less ragged. She could come here in the worst of states and the ocean would talk sense into her. It was as if she'd reaped the benefits of an hour on the therapist's couch, a ridiculously expensive proposition in this town, without spending a cent and without speaking to anyone.
Her thoughts were immediately drawn back to him, the cause of her present state, the reason for her pain. She'd stood by him for years, hoping against hope, but he hadn't changed. He'd done this to her before and she'd stayed, always finding excuses for him. His cruel words and the venom with which he'd say them could always be explained somehow. His coldness and distance could be rationalized. It was his childhood, his father, the way he'd been treated by schoolmates. Those things had made him what he was now. And always, she'd found reason to continue believing that he was better than that, that much of it was a facade, self-preservation. She knew there was something else entirely beneath it. She had truly believed that his words and actions would reveal their hypocrisy in time. She had seen glimpses of honor and loyalty, of steadiness and commitment. He was hard working, a perfectionist, and drove himself as he drove others. He scorned laziness and reviled cheats. Those qualities had, indeed, all been there. They had teased her, fooling her into believing that there was more...most of all, that there could someday be love.
She clung to the book she'd brought with her, her arms wrapped around it tightly, hugging it to her body. The images in it were all she had left of him now. And even with all the pain he'd caused, it was difficult to let go. Her breath caught, and the moisture that pricked at her eyes wasn't from the wind. This time had been different. This time it had gone beyond mere cruelty. This time it was horrifying betrayal, loathsome beyond belief, monstrous. She could no longer look at him as a man. He was now a monster, lower on the evolutionary scale than mere beasts, for at least they killed for sustenance.
Could there be anything more to it than mere evil? Could there somehow be a higher purpose, a master plan of which she knew not? She laughed... a mirthless, callous cackle directed at her own weakness. Even now, after what he'd done, she was seeking to justify him. Well...she could allow that no longer. It was over. She was done with him. She had to be or he would suck her into his world, now seemingly devoid of any possible redemption.
Her fingers loosened their grip. Her arms fell limply to her sides as she finally accepted this. The book dropped onto its back in the wet sand, its pages blowing in the wind as if being turned by an unseen hand. She walked away. And her shiny new copy of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince sank further and deeper into the wet sand as each new wave washed across it. It was there her memories of the Potions Master would lie, as she slowly returned to her home, ready to begin again, ready to pin her hopes on the next ravaged character...ready to believe again.
I didn't plan on writing this for the Quill. This started as a writing group exercise - take 5 random words: hypocrisy, muddling, evolutionary, cent, routes and write a story. It was cathartic for me, however, as I have tended to give Professor Snape the benefit of the doubt since the beginning. And now? Not sure... Thanks to my writing group - Il Fluf Familia - you're all great and I'm learning a lot. And thanks to Mr Flying Fingers and my wonderful beta Suburban House Elf who encouraged me to post it. Hope you had fun reading it.