A Time For Mirrors
Salinas stood in front of a full-length mirror, fresh from a shower, combing her long, thick, jet hair. The fluffy white towel she had wrapped firmly around herself was starting to loosen its hold around her body; but, as she was secluded in this room, she did not care. The room smelled of the Indian sandalwood incense that was still smouldering on the corner table, and the warm wind of the evening blew through the open window, creating enough circulation to offset the intense humidity that was permeating the castle, making the walls shine with dampness.
Tacked to the mirror were pictures; moving, like always, in and out of their frames. There was one of herself with Aubrey and Eve; waving and smiling as they stood near a triangular, peaky building. Salinas sighed. It seemed like millenia since the three of them had spent the entire summer vacation together, exploring the island they called home every school year like tourists.
But it was only a year ago. And now they were divided up by the loyalties of this new place. Aubrey's entire House had rallied against her consorting with Salinas outside of class; and while Aubrey was by no means a pushover, the increased desire to stay incognito had relegated their friendship to daily letters and hushed conversations in class, much to the ire of Professor Snape. Eve, although not bound by any sort of traditional animosity, was nevertheless in another House as well, and their friendship was suffering from it.
Which left Salinas feeling immensely alone; isolated. She'd never felt so homesick in her entire life. Her absence from Burgeo had created such a huge void within her heart that there were days when she just wanted to leave Hogwarts and go back.
Today was one of those days.
She sighed, putting down her comb. She just wanted to not be the new kid anymore. Even though most of Gryffindor knew and liked her, and she was passing school with flying colours, she was still new. And she hated it. She sat down on her bed, in front of the large mirror, and stared at herself.
Fleetingly, she wondered where Jeimu was; then she remembered that it was Easter holidays. Salinas had gone to London with her roommate for one day-- the red jewel gracing her tongue was evidence of that-- but Salinas had returned to the castle, alone. She ran this piercing between her teeth idly, fuming with repressed emotion.
Another sigh. She flopped back onto her bed, still staring at herself in the mirror. She wanted someone to talk to. But Eve was indisposed and Aubrey was holed up in Slytherin house. Her mind wandered, wondering who else she could confide in.
A sudden knock at the door made her jump. She rose, clutching her towel about her, and went to answer it.
"Hey, Sal," Harry said, looking immensely amused when he saw her. She glared at him silently, then stepped back to let him in. "What's the matter?" he said, regarding her with a softly inquisitive gaze.
She looked at him, then bowed her head. "Too many t'ings," she said quietly. "It's just that . . . well, I'm glad yer here."
He reached out and touched her arm sympathetically. "Don't be cryptic," he whispered. "Tell me."
Salinas closed her eyes and bit her lip. She was fighting it off; she had been fighting it off all afternoon, but now that he was here she just could not bottle anything up anymore. The tears started, picking at the corners of her eyes, and she threw her arms around Harry, who embraced her in return.
"I just. . . I don't know what t'do," she said, sniffling. "I wants to go home so bad I can taste it, but doing that means I'd have to leave you, and --"
"Shh." He motioned her toward her bed, where they sat down. "My God, Sal, I had no idea you were this homesick." He lifted his hand to her face and very gently wiped away her tears.
She smiled slightly. "Neither did I," she said, "'til today. It was like it hit me over th' head; like I realized all at once that I'd never graduate from Burgeo, that I'd never play Quidditch again. I means, once I leaves here, I'm done."
Harry nodded, still surveying her with his green eyes. He learned something new about Salinas every day, it seemed; and now it was becoming apparent that they were both learning something: that she had a limit. Harry had never seen Salinas get highly emotional like this before, and it pained him.
He kissed her gently. "Look, you know you're here to be kept safe, and once this year is over, you can go back."
Shuddering with another sob, she nodded, holding his hand tightly. Salinas wasn't reassured; she hadn't touched on the real issue. She cast around for something, anything to answer the nagging doubt within her. "Are you with me because I'm the new thing?" she asked, shocked at her own frankness.
Harry gaped. "No," he said, "no, I'm not. Sal, stop being so paranoid. I'm with you because I. . . well, I mean, I. . ."
Salinas tilted her head, watching him blush as he finally eked it out. "I'm with you because I think I just might love you." He looked at his knees.
Still wet-haired and towel-clad, she stared. "What did you just say?" she asked. It had to have been a dream or a fantasy or something, she thought, he couldn't be in love with her - even though she knew that the feeling was mutual.
"I said I love you," Harry whispered, barely audible.
She embraced him and smiled. "I," she said with an emphasis, "love you, alright?"
He looked exuberant; as though she'd made his day. Salinas smiled impishly. "So now that we've straightened everything out. . ." She looked at him, breathless all of a sudden, in awe of his handsome features. It was as though a light had been thrown on in her psyche; that all she could focus on was him.
Silently, without another word, he lay her down, enveloped her in his arms and kissed her - gently at first, but as time went on, that same light burned brighter within them both; and soon enough they were staring at each other, short of breath, reeling from what they had just experienced.
Salinas cast her gaze over to the mirror. There they were, red in the face, she still in a wet towel, he resting his forehead on hers, smiling placidly. She looked back at Harry and reached out to him, tracing his jawline with her fingers. A sense of complete serenity befell the two of them as they rested there.
His lips travelled to hers again, and she could feel his stirring emotions as though they existed outside of himself; like an aura - and she returned what he gave her. There was nothing in their consciousness except the thrilling awareness of each other. She sighed contentedly, and he smiled at her, unconsciously and effortlessly trailing his fingers over her body, loosening her garment until it finally fell away. He looked at her, eyes strangely glazed. "Sal," he said hoarsely, "do you want - "
She looked up at him, telling him in a glance that yes, without hesitation, this was what she wanted. "Please," she whispered, nodding.
He needed no further prompting. Soon enough he was inside her, pressing his strong, lean body to hers, and once again, it was as though the air she was breathing was full of his spirit - that their minds were interconnected. She felt lighter than air; and the light that smouldered inside their hearts grew into a blinding blaze of emotion. She felt no need to cry out, to even breathe. She felt as though she could live off this sensation of being forever. He enshrouded her protectively as she arced her back, inhaling sharply, as everything peaked, then ceased to be more than ebbing waves receding from a distant shore.
The connection she'd felt was still there, even as he now lay beside her, exhausted, his skin gleaming with perspiration, untidy hair all over the place, green eyes darker, more mature in their bearing. She lay her head on his chest, tired, but smiling.
Harry embraced her once more; and Salinas watched him from the large mirror as he fell asleep. She doubted if there was anything about her that he didn't know now.
Um. Well. Yeah.