Title: Stop
Word Count: 462

Time is different when he is with her. It doesn’t speed up, or slow down, or anything like that; it simply stops, pauses, halts for who even knows how long, while they break every rule they ever set for themselves.

It’s the rule-breaking, as always. The venturing into an eternally grey, morally ambiguous area where time moves neither here nor there.

He doesn’t know how or why it got to be this way, except that it did, and he does. It’s his fault, it must be. His fault, for being weak, or young, or impossible. For being himself. He hates himself for it, but he also –

It’s the way she feels – her body, her lips, her breathing – that gets him. He knows they are not right together, because it is impossible not to know that. They have known it from the beginning, and they are reminded of it every single time, yet every single time they come back.

When time just stops, the way it does for them, it is more difficult than either of them can handle. How to not take advantage of it? How to not live always in the grey, when the black and the white are so much harder to survive?

The lies flow too easily from his lips. I had to go the long way to avoid Filch. I got stuck talking to Slughorn. I made a stop in the kitchens. They believe him, no matter what, because why wouldn’t they? There is nothing not to believe when he says it like that, so convincingly, with his nonchalant shrug and his casual tone. Not even they can tell he is lying, and one day it will be terrible, but now it is only terrible in the abstract, and in his conscience.

“We can’t keep doing this,” she says, for the thousandth time, between mismatched kisses.

“I know,” he says, but they are in a time that does not exist, a vacuum of unmentionable desire that they can only just free themselves of when the time returns.

Once, finally, he responds with, “We have to stop,” and breaks off their kiss before it even begins.

She looks at him with appraising eyes, not necessarily hurt or angry, just observing. She seems to find something, something that answers her unasked question, and she nods.

“It’s just--” he starts.

“I know.”

“It’s wrong.”

“I know.”

“It was never right, you know, not once.”

“No, it wasn’t.”

He turns away from her. “Then why did we do it?”

She places a hand on his shoulder. “Because we let ourselves believe it was all right.”

“But it’s--”

“I know it is.”

He faces her again. “I’m sorry,” he says, and then he leaves, and that is the end.
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