Our first kiss happened five months after we first met, two after we'd started dating, three days since our first fight, and half a day after we made up.
The sky was a stream of bright orange, its facade only obscured by wispy clouds that floated past cheerfully.
Funny how these details could pierce the foggy mist of time after a singular spectacular event.
The kiss itself, although it did have that hungry desperate collision of lips, was more of mouth to mouth resuscitation. Quite literally, I'd lost my breath. I could feel his thin lips against mine as he tried to pump air into my lungs.
His gentle hand was pressed against my hip, and the sensation would have sent tingles up my spine if I were only fully conscious.
To be honest, I don't remember much of what had transpired. A loud bang in the air—the sound reminded me more of firecrackers than that of a gunshot—sent me falling down onto the pavement, and then the kiss. Fancy your first kiss as an attempt to resuscitate life back into your limp form. I wish I could say it worked.
When the blazing sirens approached, a crowd had gathered around me. My vision traveled in and out of focus. The sensation felt more like a balancing act than anything else. I lingered at the fringe of life, death teasing next to me. Or maybe it was the other way around? Maybe both life and death were taunting me. Yes, that made much more sense. That's how it felt.
The crowd felt like the audience to my final act, as if i were an acrobat with toes gripping a rope five floors from the ground. I would cross the expanse safely, and they would all clap for me. I'd bow, and go on with my life.
But I was not an acrobat, and my feet were not as nimble. That's the thing about life, there was no safety net. Thus it was, that I fell down, down, down to the place of no return.
I felt his familiar strong hands put pressure on my chest, and I heard him calling out to me.
"Please, wake up," he called. His eyes glistened behind thick rimmed glasses. His eyesight was so poor. I suppose that was part of the reason he was leaning in so close. "Elle, come on, stay with me."
I did try to respond, mind you, but my mouth was uncooperative. My tongue was limp in my mouth, immobile and dry. "Remember our plans, Elle?” The red blood on the sidewalk matched the red stain on my lips. “We were supposed to grow old together. Don't leave me, Elle."
His hands left my side as paramedics struggled to calm him down. A manicured finger took my non-existent pulse. There wasn't much to do at this point. By the time the police came, it was the body bag for me.
Death's hands came next. Cold and clammy, his bony fingers pried myself from my dead form, smiled and tipped his funny tophat. Death was fashionable even at this late hour. There was an open top carriage parked off the curb behind him, and he waved me towards it.
I nodded, but continued to hover over my lifeless figure. He—my kisser—had his head bowed now. His uncharacteristically steady hand was shaking my soft shoulder. The paramedics were still trying to move him away. I should have been besides myself with grief, what me being dead and all, but all I could think about was how cruddy the sidewalk seemed to look with my blood seeping into the crevices of the pavement.
I could no longer hear him call.
We were supposed to grow old together, him and me. We both liked funny tasting lattes because our childhood was coffee-free. We both wanted a farm by the sand and the sea. We both wanted smart kids who would make the world a better place. We both wanted to live. Of course, it was foolish to think we'd ever had control over the way the river flows.
"What will happen next?" I asked Death who had removed his hat and allowed the slight wind to ruffle his hair. I never imagined Death to own a thick mop of hair. I always assumed he was bald.
"I don't know," he replied, the gentle lines bordering his mouth moving as he spoke. "I'm just the carriage driver."
"Is it always a carriage?" I asked, as the pair of horses neighed intuitively. They probably knew we were talking about them.
"No," Death said. "Rarely as of late."
"And I can't go back?"
"No," Death said. "Only forward."
So with one last look, I said a silent goodbye to the man I would have grown old with. I put one bare foot in front of another, avoiding the red pool of blood that had formed around my body, alighted the carriage, and allowed Death to drive me yonder.
Friday violin lessons were fast becoming something of a routine. Mr L would ring the doorbell at precisely ten o’clock, Mom or Dad (depending on who was present at the given time) would brew him coffee while he tuned the instrument, and I would go over this weeks lesson, pretending to comprehend the notes on the page.
This week, Mr L produces a melancholy snippet after tuning my violin, allowing a sorrowful longing to rise up the living room’s high ceiling. His shoes were flat against the stone tiles, but his soul was floating up with the music.
Satisfied with the tune, he hands me the violin and picks up his cup of coffee.
“What’s his name?”
He meant my violin.
I hadn’t even considered its gender.
“Yes,” Mr L said scandalized, his mouth agape. “He must have a name.”
And why shouldn’t it—he? An instrument, after all, has a soul to its sound. It could emit feelings that were beyond verbal expression. Why shouldn’t it—he—have a name?
“I’ll give you a minute to think,” Mr L took another sip of coffee.
My mind did an uncomfortable free-fall through a rabbit hole of ideas (yes, that’s a thing…a little quirk of mine) until it collided with one too imposing to avoid. Hamish came to mind. There was no explanation—the time for justifications had yet to come—just a name.
“Hamish,” I said decisively—although why I was so decisive was beyond me.
“Hamish?” Mr L repeated, allowing the name to linger on his lips.
“Yes,” I nodded, casting a fond glance at my violin. “Hamish.”
Only four days later did I come up with an origin story.
Late last December, during Christmas break, I became so enamored with Hamish Macbeth—an entirely fictional character.
How could I not have been?
Hamish Macbeth was unambitious and timid, and at some point, my pursuit of this hobby fits into that characterization. Do I expect to play in a great concert hall in front of a crowd of people? No. Not at all. Do I plan to religiously work at the violin for three hours straight every single day? No. Does it mean this cannot be an extraordinary experience? No.
In fact, it may just work the other way around.
A drastic change in character rarely happens all at once. Instead, it goes about like an ant climbing a hill—it doesn’t even see the top. It just keeps climbing, and climbing, and climbing until finally, it arrives at the peak.
I don’t know where this journey shall take me, but I do think Hamish and I will come across an unexpected adventure. Maybe we’re already on it.
Every February, the university I go to requires us to step out of our mini kingdoms and explore the vast yonder that lay beyond our walls. Alternative class day, also called LEAP day is a day in the middle of university week when the student government (or student organizations) offers interesting classes as a break from the routine of school.
This year, my older brother and I decided to try our hand at Latte Art–partly because the venue was near our front doorstep, but also because the experience sounded chic and artsy.
I myself enjoy tea more than coffee. In fact, I rarely drink the stuff! New experiences, however, are more often than not about stepping out of your comfort zone, so step out I did!
The class began at nine in the morning, and we left the house ten minutes before nine.
Fortunately, we arrived on time.
The Commune cafe was situated at a busy corner street near our place, and I wondered how we could have been so unaware of the shop. After inquiring after our host Miss Ros, I found out that the coffee shop opened around April of last year, which just shows how often I go out (aka sparingly...almost never).
After a brief background lesson on the origin of coffee and the different sorts of coffee, our class of twenty-six was ready to get on with the latte art.
Telly makes the entire process look so easy, but between the grinding of the beans, the pressing of the grind, the making of the espresso, the steaming of the milk, and the pouring of the cup, latte art required more skill than it let on.
There are three methods to making latte art (at least, two of which we've been taught). The first is called free pouring, the second etching and the third 3D madness.
Free pouring, Mr Barista (I am so poor with names, I am so sorry!) tells us, is the more skillful of the three. Those white hearts that take shape amidst the brown of the coffee? That's what this is. There are other designs, of course–ferns, leaves, butterflies–all driven by the imagination.
Etching uses this metal screwdriver like instrument that is used like a pen to put in the more detailed portions of the design (for example, the eyes of a cat, or the swivels of a swirl).
3D art is, as the name implies, 3D. It pops out of the coffee surface, like a rubber duck on the water (which I bet they can do for you). The milk foam used for this method is much less airy, and does not sink as fast as the foam used in the other two methods, from what we were taught.
Given our numbers, not every person was able to give latte art a go, but after Mr Barista gave us an amazing demo, my brother (among a few other fine people we met) were able to give it a go.
He eagerly steamed the whole milk, and poured it into the freshly brewed espresso. His resulting latte art was a big brown blotch on the cup, and to be honest, it didn't look like anything artsy. Mr Barista, fortunately, had a few tricks up his sleeve. With the foam, he drew a cross and four dots atop the brown blotch, and used a metal sort of pen to etch at the foam, leaving an elegant swirling pattern across the coffee's foamy surface.
Overall, this is arguably the most fun I've had in an alternative class. I got to experience a very different sort of class, meet new people (special shout-out to Cherry and Max with whom my brother and I had a lovely conversation) and got to drink great looking lattes!
Here are some photos I took of the experience.
In the Deathly Hallows, Hermione Jean Granger married Ronald Bilius Weasley and they raised two wonderful children named Rose and Hugo.
Seven years after Queen JK Rowling published the book—along with the highly controversial epilogue, by the way—the Queen stirs the waters of the Wizarding World. A few days ago, JK Rowling reveals in a (leaked) interview conducted by Emma Watson (the actress who played Hermione, in case you’ve been living under a rock) that the Hermione and Ron pairing was the Queen’s form of wish fulfillment and they would have needed relationship councelling. In other words, loosely translated, Ron and Hermione shouldn't have happened. Harry and Hermione should have. In tumblr (or boating) terms, the ship has begun to sunk. The canon is weak.
I confess that in the pages after the epilogue (the blank ones, if you were wondering), I wondered if Hermione would get her happily ever after. She’s the most brilliant witch of her age, after all, and I’ve emotionally invested my own happiness in hers. Seven years later, I’ve come to realize a plethora of things that Hermione was bound to have known when she married Ron.
This is my defense of their pairing.
Although I understand that there are multiple ways to write out the Epilogue, ending with Hermione with Harry or Ron or even Draco, I like Ron with the heroine precisely because their relationship seems to be the most accurate depiction of a romantic, real-world sort of love.
Don’t shoot at me just yet! Let me explain.
When the pair first meet, Ron says she is unbearable. Hermione was indeed unbearable. She was this bossy know-it-all kid who nobody wanted to be friends with. To top it all off, she had this mane of bushy hair and big teeth. At this point of the story, she was not the Belle of the ball.
Ron, on the other hand, is dirt poor and has a list of sibling legends to live up to. Poor kid. It's never great to enter school under someone's shadow.
Then Ron and Harry save Hermione from the Troll in the girl’s bathroom, and a friendship is born. (Granted, she wouldn’t have been there if Ron’s mean comment hadn’t made her cry.)
Fast forward a few years later: Hermione goes to the Yule Ball with Victor Krum. They’re fourteen and Ron’s got the emotional range of a teaspoon. He doesn’t understand his own feelings about Hermione, who has bloomed into this red rose in a garden of white ones.
They’ve both changed, surely. Ron is evermore aware of Harry’s hero image, and he finds himself inferior. He's gotten more keen to prove himself as a person. On a side note, can’t we all relate to this? Isn’t there someone whose once made us feel like we might as well be trolls next to him?
Hermione’s changed as well. She’s a girl who has gone through/ is going through puberty! It’s that period in a woman’s life when one’s social status is defined by how pretty they look or how well they dress. So what does Hermione do? She sticks with Harry and Ron, and ditches Sleekeasy’s hair potion after the ball. One night of fun and attention is great, but she says that it’s too much of a bother to do everyday. She’s not your average beauty queen.
Another two years later, and a rift forms between the pair. They just can’t seem to get along. So much so that Harry has had to hang out with them separately, so it couldn’t have been easy…
Here I come to a speed bump in the Harry/Hermione pairing. Harry commented that spending time with Hermione involved much of the library and not much talking. Yes, they’re great friends, and yes, Hermione understands him shockingly well, but if Harry wasn’t too keen on how he spent his time with Hermione, then how could they get married and have kids? Sometimes, to know if a couple would work out, I find it useful to look at whether or not they can be comfortable with the silence between them. Was Harry really comfortable? Or just highly tolerant?
But there’s another thing about the Harry/Hermione pairing that bugs me. It’s so logical. It made sense that Hermione, the brightest witch of her age, would end up with Harry Potter. It made sense! Often however, relationships based on love do not make sense at all. Well, there’s a little sense, (i.e. don't marry a psychopath just marry a high-functioning sociopath) which is why although I adore the idea of Draco/Hermione, it’s probably not going to happen.
Which leads me to the Deathly Hallows. At some point during the hunt for the Seven Horcruxes, Ron ups and leaves.
But he comes back.
His return made me come to love the Ron/Hermione pairing. Relationships (the ones that last) will be bumpy. Sooner or later. When one allows another human being to be that intimate with himself, some ugly skeletons are going to just topple out of the closet. It’s inevitable. Ron and Hermione fought incessantly. He was always jealous. She was always seen to be superior (note I didn’t say she was superior). How could this relationship have worked out?
Ron came back.
They may have needed a thousand counseling sessions together, but this is why they would have worked.
It would have been so much easier to leave, but he stayed.
Lastly, there is a nineteen year lull between the last battle and the epilogue.
After the War, when both characters killed a horcrux each, mind you, Ron and Hermione spend a year apart when the latter goes back to Hogwarts to finish her education.
I’ll assume they change over that year. Wouldn’t you?
What else happened within those nineteen years?
Before their marriage?
Ron’s brother died in the War. He became an Auror—what he always wanted to be. His family (because of the joke shop) wasn’t poor anymore. He claimed (later in life) that his greatest achievement was being featured on a chocolate card. Note: not defeating a horcrux, not being an Auror, not even being friends with the Harry Potter. I find it safe to assume that he’s finally secure with himself as Ron Weasley.
Hermione went back to school. She fought for House Elf Rights as a Ministry worker—she did what she believed to be right, not what people expected her to do. She had income and beauty and brains. She didn’t have to keep seeing Ron. Isn’t this the kind of woman who would marry someone she loved even if it was beyond logical reason? For God’s sake, this was the teenager who made piles of socks in an attempt to free house elves!
And then, eventually, they got married.
I don’t think their story was a perfect happily ever after. I assume they get into a few rows every week…But does that mean that they aren’t a great couple? Not to me.
To me, a marriage is building a life with someone—not just being perfect together—and sometimes, building a life gets messy. Your hands get splintered, your feet get blistered, your eyes grow weary of looking to the future. But realistically, one doesn’t always find and marry Harry Potter. Realistically, one has a Ron Weasley—an imperfect person to love.
That, to me, is the beauty of Ron and Hermione.
I think it’s much more romantic to build a life with an imperfect man with the emotional range of a teaspoon.
But that’s just me.