She was twenty-five and he was seven
when she told him a secret
that wasn’t a secret at all.

‘You are a wizard, Tom Riddle.’

Nothingness carried her away before
his very eyes, inches at a time, dust
taken by a breeze.

***

She was twenty-five and he was
fourteen when she told him an answer
to the secret question he hid from
everyone.

‘I can tell you about immortality, if
you just wait.’

Like smoke, she swirled into nothing
and was gone.

***

She was twenty-five and he was sixteen
when she asked if he had killed anyone.

‘Not yet,’ he said.

Her sad, amber gaze was the last to disappear.

***

She was twenty-five and he was twenty-one
when she appeared during office hours
and she would only stay for seven minutes
— he had counted the time before and
the time before that — seven and no more.

‘This is the Ministry of Magic,’ she said with surprise.

He nearly asked where she expected
him to be before he was alone again.

***

She was twenty-five, just like him,
when she saw him reading about
Horcruxes in his half-empty flat.

‘Tell me,’ he said from where
he watched her on the floor,
cross-legged and shirtless.
‘Tell me how to live forever.’

Pointing to the book he held as her own
fingers faded, she said, ‘Not like that.’

***

She was twenty-five and he was twenty-eight
when she found him at the New Year’s Eve Ball,
surreptitiously smoking cigarettes in the crisp night.

‘Not all of us have as much as time as you do,’
he whispered in her ear.

A shiver ran through her just as a laugh did
and then she was gone from the balcony of Malfoy Manor.

***

She was twenty-five and he was thirty-four,
numbers that weren’t divisible by
seven — but still added up that way —
when she straddled him in bed.

Between breaths and kisses, his heart
drumming from a curious panic and the
new, delicious vulnerability of his
naked body against hers, he asked,
‘How do I live forever?’

‘Oh, Tom,’ she said as something cool
and sharp slid between his ribs. Her
voice was nearly kind. ‘You don’t.’

***

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