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Chapter 2: Shading Simplicity
She is, he notes with that jolt of comprehension that comes hand in hand with enlightenment, a mark of beautiful simplicity. Just a dot on the map of the past, present, maybe even future but around her everyone else blurs into insignificance; dots made of white, hers a scarlet cross. X marks the spot.
His flat is a mess; an explosion of colour because that is what defines his life, and higgledy-piggledy furniture marks a flash of yesterday against the vibrancy of tomorrow. Past and present breaking into parts, into shreds around him and the future is what keeps him going. The prospect of another hour. The promise of another day, another month, year. He fought for a future and he will not forget it. Not yet, at least. Too fresh in his mind, the nights and nights of damp cellars and shackled hands and the screams at night of faceless people in the midst of it all make his hands grow cold and his brain shut down. The future makes it disappear.
And in it, in the mess that leads to the prospect of freedom, she stands – a solitary thing of beauty amongst a thousand problems. For him, dreams had become reality and reality was here, now. Assurance of another meeting, of hosting her, of drawing her over and over until it became more than just perfection; until it became necessity.
“Sorry about the mess,” he says, the urge to tidy overpowering him. First impressions made but second, third, fourth to come and slowly they are setting in the centre of his first floor bedsit. He fiddles with the hem of a pink t-shirt strewn over the sofa and moves it onto the arm of the seat carefully. With his foot, he shoves a pair of battered trainers out of sight. She shakes her head, smiling a smile that makes his cheeks ache.
“Don’t worry. My sister’s the same.”
She looks around, tugging on the strap of her handbag awkwardly. Gone is the confidence of their first encounter in a heated moment of broken lust in the dusty confines of neutral territory. Now, she cannot find the words that had made her so strong when author first met artist. She cannot form a sentence as bold as her request for him to draw her, for him to complete what was until then nothing more than a dream. Now, she finds herself melting once again into a coffee shop dreamer, a yesterday wish, determination of tomorrow fading into the light of later.
“So, er, how are we going to, you know – ?”
“Well,” he says, coming closer to her now, walking past and around and staring from her to the sofa to the kitchen wall to her again, “I think you should sit down.” He takes out his wand and the array of clothes, half-finished sketches and pens fly to the floor. She sits primly and against the worn material, she looks brand new. “No, stand up.”
She stands but before her knees have even straightened, he shakes his head and with confidence that only the presence of someone that makes his heart feel independent from his body can give him, takes his hand in hers.
Twisting, twining, he dances her around the flat. Tiny though it is, she feels as light as the feather of her quill, light as the paper he has clutched in his free hand as he stops and starts them to the irregular beat of the silent song that both hear so loudly in the quiet between their bodies. Against him, flush through doorways, apart in the freedom of a room, she sees herself a princess. The ounce of near perfection in her blood flushes against her cheeks and he catches her eye so fleetingly and yet so completely that she squeezes his hand to stop herself from falling into something she can’t comprehend. Something she never believed she’d comprehend let alone with him.
She is Daphne, after all. She is everything he should hate and he everything that stands against her. He is Dean. He is nothing but an unpaid artist, working in a bookstore; she a Ministry worker who dreams of something more, something bigger, something solid and true and real. She dreams of love but that isn’t this. Love is abstract but this, this is concrete. This is there, and it is electric currents and butterflies trapped in her stomach and the loss of her train of thought; that is all too strong, all too real to be love.
His hand gone, emptiness falls. She sits herself on a kitchen stool, arms crossed over her chest, pulling on her necklace and watching him seat himself opposite her. In all his concentration, lines and shading and broken pencils, he looks different. Seriousness met with the feeling that only youth can have of complete confidence, complete assuredness of his own ability. Apprehension gone, she lets her arms drop to her lap.
He looks up.
Sketchbook gone, it is lips on lips and hands in hands and an eruption of everything she knows into the open. It is beauty. It is knowledge. It is the break of attraction into love. It is gold leaf print and fresh blue ink and clean white parchment, and above all that, it is theirs.
A/N: I know this is meant to be complete but I wrote this chapter as an entry for the first round of the TGS Writathon, where the prompt was to use the quote “I think you should sit down” and the concept of using it as an artist’s words rather than to deliver news was really appealing, so this happened.
I know the style is different – I had to make it more accessible to people who hadn’t read the story before, and also make it read like a one-shot rather than a chapter to fill the criteria – but I couldn’t just leave it on my desktop.
Any new readers, the style gets more consistent with the first in the next three chapters, I promise. This is just an exception ^_^