forty-nine

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REGULUS HAD BEEN ECSTATIC. Ever since she told him that she wanted to destroy Horcruxes with him, he hadn't seemed to stop smiling.

Though, as each day passed and his smile widened, Celestia quietened. She got away with it for a couple days by saying she was on her period; and it worked because she was surrounded by men, and none of them wanted to deal with a moody teenage girl in the middle of a war.

Christmas was approaching, and it was approaching fast. Her nightmares had returned in full-force, and by some turn of luck, she'd been able to keep it from Theo. It became a nightly routine for her to cast the Muffilato Charm on her room before she went to bed. Though, she has no doubt that Theo had begun to get suspicious.

It is through sheer will that Celestia wakes up with a scream in her throat and tears running down her face, and still manages to appear normal in time for her training sessions with Theo. Regulus had begun to watch them most mornings, which always threw her off her game.

For the past week, they had been discussing what exactly their game plan was going to be. Did they destroy all the Horcruxes at the same time? Or destroy them as they found them? The decision was split half-and-half.

Salazar Slytherin's locket had disappeared since she'd had her breakdown, though she knew Theo had it kept somewhere safe. Now, every time their eyes connected, she was reminded of her tearful confession and his proposition to run away.

With her nights filled with the torments of her past, and her days tracing against the idea of fleeing with him, she wanted to do nothing more than play damsel in distress and let him steal her away. In fact, she feared if he asked again, she wouldn't be able to deny him.

It was on Christmas morning that she awoke sobbing, hands placed at the base of her throat, gasps being ripped from her mouth. As soon as she was able to calm herself down, she curled herself around a pillow. She was so fucking tired, and she couldn't seem to even escape in sleep.

Before Theo woke up, she had a long shower. She stayed under the spray till her skin went red and the puffiness around her eyes disappeared. And when she opened the bathroom door, dressed formally for lunch, she smiled at Theo like it was any other day.

She wore a beige turtleneck paired with a pleated black skirt that fell to her mid-thigh, where she wore a pair of black tights. It had his breath catching in his throat. His eyes trailed over her body, lingering for a second too long on her curves. When he reached her face, he could tell she was exhausted, and yet she was still gorgeous.

"Ready for your first Christmas with your uncle?" he asked.

She sighed; the noise ripe with more than just pre-Christmas nerves. "Yeah. Are you ready to watch me, Draco, and Regulus fumble around in a horrible family reunion?"

He smiled and approached her, grasping her face and pressing a kiss to her head. "Stay here. I have something to give you, but I should shower first."

"You got me a present?" she wondered, spinning around when he continued into the bathroom.

"Of course I did," he grinned.

Then, he promptly shut the door in her face. She stared at the closed door in a daze, hearing the shower turn on and the shuffling of clothes. Realising that he stood naked with only a thin wall separating them, she spun away with a blush on her cheeks.

They had visited a quaint, entirely Muggle-inhabited town a couple days earlier to gather what they could for their impromptu Christmas lunch. No doubt there would be no turkey, no Yorkshire puddings, no roast potatoes; it would be their first proper meal they'd had in months and made by a ton of pureblood wizards.

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