Ruby Slippers Wake

He just left—his sharp words and tears weave tendril-like in the air. He screamed of betrayal, of lunacy, of irreality. But he is the one who believes in the irreality, the lunacy of their "love." He's the one who refused to understand that I've done nothing but try and save him from himself—from them. All of this is the doing of those other two—those despicable… things… lurking in the shadows, looming over me, closing ranks around him in some parody of concern. They sent murderous looks my way as he screamed at me. They slithered at his heels as he left, hissing at me in anger for daring to wrest from their greedy little coils what they think is theirs.

It's so hard to know where to begin. I mean, there really isn't an end or a beginning to this story. Perhaps the best place to start is by telling you what you must know—what you must understand before you read any more. I never intended for things to end the way they have. Things have just gotten so far out of control. I need someone to understand—I need him to understand, which is why I'm writing to you. I'm sure once you read this, you'll see why you must print it. There could be no greater love story than the tale I'm about to tell. Such tragedy. The stuff of fairy stories brought to life in painful brilliance. Everything I did, everything I'm about to do, is because I love him.

You must know that he is my ruby slipper—my cypripedim rubra—the most rare, most magical of the ladyslipper orchids. Almost impossible to find, it flourishes in dank, subterranean bogs in regal solitude—an electric burst of color in a dark, lifeless place. To fall upon a ruby slipper is an arresting sight—to be graced with such a favor is akin to bathing in the favor of the gods.

The first time he smiled at me—the first time we connected through our shared pain, our linked prophetic fate—I knew what it was like to bathe in such splendor. To think, we were only school children at the time. Now, we work together as grown men. But, still, I am awed by him, my love, my slipper. The fact that I am not charismatic, overly smart or attractive makes it all even sweeter. I bumble through the day at a mild, pleasant pace, tending to my plants and my students. No one sees me—except when I drop my books, or forget the password to the professor's lounge. But, he has always seen me—all of me—and he's never shunned me. He has protected me, cared for me, loved me. He has always graced me with his favor, encapsulated in that shy, furtive smile of his. That's how I know what I'm doing is right.

Six months ago, I found the perfect ruby slipper. I happened upon it in a small boggy glade concealed by wicked vines. It had a two-inch diameter blossom as round and firm as his bee-stung lips, intricately veined with deep bursts of red as true as his loyalty and grace, a fissure down the front that cleaved it thus allowing for a glorious unfurling, and a luminously green, leafless stalk as lithe and smooth as my slipper's body. My plan was to propagate that lone ruby slipper over and over and over until I could grow enough of them to shower him with the petal-soft red cups as I worshiped him and his body. How I long to worship him—show him the devotion, the reverence that a slipper of his caliber deserves.

I dream of calling him my slipper as I thrust into him in a steady, unfailing pace. Of holding him protectively to me as he sobs after a nightmare or confrontation with one of them. Of pulling him to me after a long day in the greenhouse, pleased to see that crooked little smile of his and that piercing gaze of his, as he allows me to guide him into my arms. He acts as though he can take care of himself, that he's resilient, that he's happy. But, I know it's a lie. It has to be. It has to be. He needs me—only me.

But, something happened before I could make enough of those beautiful flowers with which to shower him. My slipper and that overgrown boggart flew at each other in a rage, as they often did. But, this time, the confrontation ended with moans of filthy lust and despicable sin. It left my slipper, my ruby lipped flower, bruised and scratched and spoiled. I was furious. Not with my flower, of course. He couldn't have known—he was too innocent. That greasy haired provocateur ripped his innocence from him—not because he loved him, but because he could. He ensnared him—played tricks on my slipper's delicate mind. There can be no other explanation for how my flower allowed himself to be trapped. And now that blond has cocked up the mix—preening over my slipper, enticing him with his gentle, hypnotic sway. Showering him with little trinkets and compliments and tender gestures. There are murmurs and stirrings of how happy he is, how in love he is. Much discourse in the professor's lounge is dedicated to how much brighter his smile is, how there is a gleam in his eye that had gone missing for a time. Low whispers and lascivious chuckles accompany retellings of the bite marks and scratches that scream of torrid nights, the intense gazes they trade, the giddy happiness that explodes across my slipper's face when he thinks the older one loves him. He doesn't, you know. That greasy haired, vitriolic, supercilious bastard could never love him. He's too course with him—his bruising, overbearing manner is far too harsh for my tender, delicate slipper. Why can't he see that? Why must he force me to show him in this way?

Once I realized that my slipper was not in love, that he'd been ensnared by that vicious snake of a keeper, my plan for the ruby slipper changed. The thing most don't know about the ruby slipper is that its magical properties are limitless and its infusion undetectable. Potion Masters don't bother with them because they are too unpredictable—too difficult to find—unreliable, they say. Therefore, the power is left to us—the ones that coax life and death from the silent living things. The ruby slipper's petals, in the hands of one skilled in my art, can be used to brew glory; to put a stopper in death; to give one his greatest desire. Take that, you foul, broken snake.

There is a special infusion made from ruby slipper petals that causes the drinker to do the thing that he is most wont to do but wouldn't normally. It is this infusion that I decide upon after realizing that I must show my flower with whom he's involved himself. I seized upon the violence, the cruelty that is so tightly knotted in my slipper's keeper. I seized upon the fact that there was no way he could love. I seized upon all of this as I worked steadily to achieve my goal.

It took no time at all to prepare the infusion. I slipped it into his tea, if you can believe that. He'd gotten lazy since the second war—not nearly as paranoid as before. Added to that, he refused to acknowledge my presence. It was so easy. A simple spell muttered over the infusion to make him think that my slipper was betraying him, a quick turn of the wrist into his teacup while he conversed mildly with the Headmistress, and my trap was set. It killed me that this would end badly for my slipper, that he would have to be the one to bear his keeper's wrath. But, he would survive—I knew this. I would be there to make sure. I would hold his hand until he woke, nurse him back to health until he was strong, hold him close until he felt secure. This was the only way. This was the only way I could make him see.

With giddy anticipation I watched as the keeper drank his tea, watched as he became even more morose, more vitriolic, more unhinged as the infusion worked through him. I gasped with delight as his burning glare darted between my flower and the fair-haired snake to his right. It had been a good choice, I thought, to make the keeper think the blond had sidled into his garden and plundered. My slipper's keeper stood and curled his fists as his chest heaved. I closed my eyes, waiting for the wails to fall from my flower's tongue. But, they didn't. Instead, an anguished, "Why?" ghosted across the room, before the keeper fled, closely followed by my slipper and the blond.

I waited the night near the hospital wing, sure that at any moment my flower's beautiful, broken body would be brought in. But, he never came. I searched the grounds until daybreak, sure that he'd been left for dead. But, I never found him. Instead, I found the three of them—the three of them—smiling and flirting with each other the next morning at breakfast. How had he beaten the infusion? How had the greasy bat done it? And, now, the blond had ensnared my slipper as well. Red tincture from the ruby slippers in my hands ran down my wrists as I strangled them in my fists at the sight before me.

That was three months ago. It's only gotten worse. The others are delighted with this ridiculous farce shared by the three. Strange bedfellows, indeed. I know they're hurting him, using him. They keep him away from me. It's the only excuse for why my love has avoided taking tea with me as regularly as before. I saw abrasions across his skin yesterday—clearly from a stinging hex. I asked him about them—sure he would tell me the truth. But, he didn't. He lied. My flower lied. To me. He said he'd gotten them from a third-year whose overzealous hex practice had missed the mark. It was far too convenient an excuse.

That's when I made the decision to tell him—to make him face the truth. I took him by the arm and made him sit. He tried to pull away, but I wouldn't let go. He had to hear the truth. I started telling him everything—how those Slytherin interlopers were using him, how he was nothing but a whore to them. His eyes widened. He looked scared. He turned his head and called for someone, I think. I saw his mouth moving, but refused to listen—I had to say all of this now. I HAD too. I pulled harder, grasped tighter as he twisted and turned and tried to pull away. I told him how they were despoiling him, ruining him, tainting him, but he wouldn't listen. So, I said it louder. It wasn't until a blond blur came into view and pain exploded in my jaw that I stopped talking. Before I could get up and save my flower from them, the blond snake gathered him in his arms while the other one slithered across the room like a shot and yanked my face close to his. His stale, fetid breath caused me to gag as he berated me and threatened me—said ridiculous things like my slipper was tired of my "strange" behavior, that I was making him uncomfortable, that I needed to stop stalking him. What was this idiot talking about? Stalking him? I haven't been stalking him. I take care of him. I look out for him, I say. I love him, I yell. He's mine, I scream.

The stone of the floor is far less forgiving than I thought it might be. But, then again, I was dropped several feet. My slipper's keeper let me go when I announced the truth. He recoiled and hastened to my flower's side. I was sad to see how pale and anxious he'd gone. I tried to reassure him—tried to tell him that I was fine. But, it was as if he wasn't listening. I call to him but he shook his head and turned away. The two snakes wrapped themselves around him and bundled him out of the Great Hall. I was confident he'd come around. He just needed a few moments to think. I was sure of it. I decided to send a note.

And, he did. Come around, I mean. Tonight. Only, it didn't go the way I was sure it would. They still have him bamboozled, I see. The way he railed against me! The way he tore my parchment into small bits and threw them into the air in a snarling rage. I wonder if he truly read my note? All he seems to want to discuss is the infusion I slipped to his keeper. He wants to know why I would do this to him. He wants to know why I would do this to the other two. He says he thought we were friends, that he thought he could trust me. I don't understand. Why doesn't he understand that I've done this all for him? That I love him? That those filthy snakes don't love him? They are his betrayers—not me. Why doesn't he understand that they will be his undoing, his ruin—not me? He won't listen to me, though. He slaps his hands on my worktable when I try to talk sense into him. I watch as the force from his anger causes my bowl of ruby slippers to tip. I watch them tumble into the dirt, obscured in shadow. Sullied, now. Like him. Like my love. He still doesn't understand. He's forced my hand, it seems. I'm going to have to do this. It's time to prove to him that what I say is true.

They've left and I'm all alone. I look around my greenhouse. My gaze rest fondly here and there—remembered experiences, particularly beautiful plants. My eyes catch on my cherished ruby slipper. It is still electric even in this less foreboding context. My fingers brush across the full red lips of the cup, fat and sprawling, heavy from its weight. I imagine it's my slipper's lips I'm brushing against. I imagine his soft sigh, the gentle puff of air he releases as I coax his lips apart.

I open my eyes. The ruby slipper is on the cusp of full bloom—just like my love, my beautiful, godly flower. I've tried coaxing him every way I know how. Well, every way except one.

There is another infusion of ruby slippers that I know quite well. It's rather obscure and devilishly insidious. When ingested, it kills. But, that's a small sacrifice for the outcome. You see, my flower will find out soon enough that it's me he truly loves. Once I die, he will feel my love flow to him and it will make the scales fall from his eyes. It will be painful for him to realize that I'm gone, of course. But, the pain will only last an instant. Because I know he truly loves me, he'll die too—that's the point of the infusion. It binds true love together for eternity. I can protect him and love him and make him mine over and over and over. And, there will always be ruby slippers spilling over him, forever and ever and ever—always reminding him with their crimson cups how much he belongs to me.

My tea's ready. This is the end of this part of the story. I'm ready for the next adventure with my beautiful slipper, my love. My life.



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