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Chapter 1: The Sky Thief
Disclaimer: Only the incredibly cheesy plot and Say are mine!
She sits at the window table, the café's lights trembling behind her. Fingers fiddle with necklace, neck and chain rubbing uncomfortably. Her coffee sits on the flat surface, untouched. Waiting.
The bell chimes, and in walks a figure. Her eyes glance up, but look down. Disappointed. Not him. He's not coming, and her eyes blink quickly. How could she have been so stupid?
Suddenly, she wants to throw the coffee, watch the windows splatter with hot liquid, wishing it were something more corrosive. Settles for crumbling the napkin instead.
It's always like this. It's always the bitter feeling of loss when she has nothing in her possession. He is his own person. He is not hers.
Across the room is the boy who had walked in, oblivious to wide eyes, hoping, then upset. He orders his usual, smiling at the thought of this quaint muggle place. The radio echoes in the background, and his fingers drum the familiar tune.
It's too late, too early for anyone else to be here; the café had only opened a half hour ago, and today is no day for early risers and workers. As he waits for his coffee, he spots a single figure.
Curious, that someone else would come so soon - and before himself! He accepts the steaming cup and bagged scone, before making his way to the occupied table.
She looks up at his joking tone, unblemished by yawns or scruffiness of the morning.
"You could call it that."
He doesn't know her, nor she him; they are two strangers sharing an early morning. Somehow, at this point in her life, it's perfectly acceptable.
"You come here a lot then?"
"Every day. Haven't seen you here before."
She shrugs and glances away from his startling green eyes.
"Don't usually stay very long. I come when they open."
Her mouth quirks at his inquiries, the continued short sentences. The disappointment and embarrassment ebbs slightly.
"Waiting for someone."
He lifts an eyebrow and glances around the shop.
"They aren't coming."
"Not your fault."
He laughs then, and she's struck by how it tumbles through the air. It's a shame, she thinks, that she has to go.
Starting to stand, she grabs her purse.
"Work awaits," she offers apologetically.
"On this day? Isn't it some holiday?"
"Not for me."
He grins. "Nor me. I'm Albus, by the way."
She blinks up at him. "Saoirse."
She walks away, and he swigs his coffee.
Time and time again he reflects on her smile, her voice, the way it lilted when she said her name. It's funny, how someone can steal your sky when you weren't aware you had one in the first place. A poorly written joke.
He's at the café again, and his pulse quickens every time he remembers: she could walk in here at any given moment. After all, is it not inevitable? To meet here once, yet never see each other again seems like a preposterous idea.
His coffee's growing cold, so he sneaks his wand from his bag, slyly waving it under the table; he hates cold beverages.
"What are you doing?"
He panics at first, at the curious voice, but sees it's her. His mind races - not from worry or the formation of excuses, but from something not-quite-so-concrete.
"Pretending I'm a wizard," he says, knowing she can see his wand.
She's slightly surprised at his answer, but doesn't think too much of it. Without an invitation, she slides into the seat across from him.
"I was bored."
"Are you still?"
"I don't think so."
And she smiles.
For once she's confident, okay with not knowing before leaping. She takes the jump, sitting down, talking, entering untracked territory. It's almost an adrenaline rush.
"Do you think there's a correlation between gum and pedophiles?"
He smirks in amusement.
"Absolutely. Question is, how did you find out?"
Her eyes sparkle.
"When I think of gum, I think of bubble gum. Bubble gum implies a cute little girl with a balloon. So if you're an adult chewing bubble gum, then you must have some creepy fascination with kids."
"That makes no logical sense."
"And asking about the core values of a dragon did?"
"It was a valid question!" he protests, laughing.
"I think stars are beautiful," he tells her as they sit on a roof.
She has no idea where they are, or how they got there - the day is a mix of blended adventures and odd conversation topics.
He passes her the wine, waiting for her response.
Quiet, she stares at the sky for a moment.
"In their own way, they are pretty. But their metaphorical meaning's a load of bollocks."
"'Wishing on a star'? That implies that stars can help us, change us, tell us things. They can't. They're a false representation of hope. All they do is just sit there, looking pretty."
"Maybe stars are more trustworthy than they appear."
"They're stars, not living things."
"How do you know?"
"Science isn't everything."
A skeptical brow is raised, but she looks once more at the stars, contemplating.
"Are you happy?"
"Now? Or in general?"
As she speaks, she realizes that it's true. For once, she can say absolutely that she's happy. It's making her euphoric to think that.
"Are you? Happy?"
He turns toward her, catching her eye glinting in the starlight.
"I think I am."
"You do realize I don't know anything about you?"
She's laying next to him, staring at the sky. The night has turned to day, and below their roof, the city is waking.
"You know my name."
"And your drink choice."
"What do you want to know?"
She sits up, flicks her hair out of her eyes.
"Tell me anything."
He screws up his eyes in thought.
"I don't know if I have a purpose."
"That's silly. Everyone has a purpose."
"What's mine, then?"
"Just because we have purposes doesn't mean we have to know them. It's all about finding yourself, growing into your purpose. You can't have a purpose if you're not ready for it."
"I guess. It's just...it seems everyone in my family has it all figured out, and then there's me."
"Figuring it out is where the fun is."
"You're awfully deep this morning."
"It's a talent."
"So what about you?"
"What about me?"
"Tell me something."
"I've always wanted to learn to play the bagpipes."
"Yeah. It's seems fun."
He laughs and rolls his eyes.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Really? 'Cause it sounds like you were implying something."
He chuckles again, and pulls her into a hug.
"You're an odd girl, Say."
"Back atcha, Al."
"I've never fallen in love."
They're sitting back at their table, the café bustling with brunch customers.
She looks up at this, and he shrugs in response, taking a sip of coffee.
"I thought I had. It's never actually love, just a hope that it is."
"I've had a few girlfriends, but they were either psycho or just dating me because they wanted my money or family name."
She shakes her head.
"Sometimes I'm ashamed to be human. People can be so shallow."
"You never know. I bet tigers can be shallow too!"
He ruffles his hair, and smiles weakly.
"They're my favorite animal."
"I like pigeons," she responds.
"Pigeons? Why on earth would you like pigeons?"
"They're always being negated and looked down on. It's not their fault they like being fed! So does half the male population!"
He laughs loudly, ignoring the looks from other lunch-goers.
"So am I a pigeon?"
She looks at him speculatively.
"You could be. You eat, you're cute, I like you. You're a pigeon."
His face lights up.
"I like you too. Guess that makes you a tiger."
Her giggles flutter out of her mouth.
"What a pair we make!"
She stares at her empty mug, sitting in the park and waiting. He's coming, she knows; he's not like the others. The sky's cloudy today, and she fervently hopes it's not a sign.
They've never tried to define this. In the two months, they've become friends. And...more. It sounds juvenile, but it's not; it's a relationship that's not defined, that's not the expected. Neither of them want another cliché.
She looks up, as always.
"How was your day?"
She wrinkles her nose.
"I really wish I could find another job. I mean, I love writing, but everyone's so uptight and rude!"
"I know what you mean. I feel like I only got a government job because of my dad."
She reaches for his hand, unashamed at the contact.
He bites his lip, and clutches her tiny fingers.
"We're figuring our lives out, right?"
"Can you cook?
"A bit," he says, a joking smile on his face.
"Will you cook me something?"
"I don't know. If you ask nicely."
She pouts and flutters her eyelashes dramatically.
"Pleeease Al? Cook me some yummy food? My growling stomach desires it!"
His cheeks redden slightly and he chuckles.
Her hands clap together like a little child's, and he is overwhelmed by the desire to take care of her, to love her. But she doesn't deserve a liar, a secret keeper.
"That was delicious!"
She deftly shimmies the napkin across her lips, leaving a faint trace of red. A wine glass is in her hand, and her breath smells faintly of chicken and vegetables.
"You are now my personal chef."
"As you wish."
He lowers his head obediently, and sees her smile.
"Could I kiss you?"
He lifts his eyes up in surprise, and (dare he think it?) love.
"You could, if you wanted. But...?"
Her eyes flash disappointedly.
"Would this mean that we'd be, something different?"
"We're friends aren't we? Couldn't we be both friends and lovers?"
Her face is hesitant and pink now, and he longs to kiss the pain away.
"Say, I want to. But, there's something you don't know."
"You're a serial killer? A prince? Head of the mafia?"
"Yes to all of those."
"What's it then?"
He inhales shakily. Kissing her could change everything, telling her could change anything. But she's his sky, and worth the risk.
"I'm a wizard."
He reaches for his wand, and she eyes it cautiously, as if expecting him to try and hurt her, or himself. But then sparks fly, and her mouth drops open.
It's the first time he's heard her swear, and it's remarkable how polite her light voice can make it sound. His greater concern, though, is the feelings behind the "shit".
"That's so cool!"
Well. That's unexpected.
"Can I kiss you?"
His laugh rumbles inside his chest, and he lifts their entwined hands on top of the cafe's table.
"Do you still have to ask?"
She bites her lip hesitantly.
"What is it?"
"Did you mean what you said last night?"
"About me loving you? About wanting to be yours forever?"
"Every single word."
Her eyes twinkle.
He paces nervously across the room. It's marvelous that the café owners have agreed to it all, the baked goods, the lights, the setting, the coffee. And yet, something's missing.
Of course, that something - the love of his life - will be here soon, but it's the aftermath that scares him. Say loves Al, Al loves Say, but she's not one for normal, happy endings. So what will she say? Heh. What will Say say?
He allows for a small smile at the pun, but then returns to panicking. What if she wants to remain as she is? Travel the world, meet new people, without him by her side?
The bell rings, and she steps in. Blinking quickly, she looks around, seeing only Al, and the table by the window. There's two coffee cups, and her favorite scones.
"It's empty today?"
He ruffles his hair.
He strides toward her quickly, and grabs her hands.
"I love you. And I know you're the kind of girl with independence and awesomeness and you hate romantic movies and throw things at the screen, but I want you in my life, even if it's too cliché for you. Will you marry me?"
She's gaping, and he winces at the shortness and hurriedness of the speech. Will it be enough?
It's said so quietly he almost misses it.
"Yes, Al. Screw a fairy tale ending. I never wanted it, but that doesn't mean I don't want you."
"Yes, Al. Believe it or not, I love you too."
His fist is pumping, and his nerves feel on fire, but he doesn't care and suddenly they are kissing and he can taste coffee and chocolate on her lips and he realizes that she's right. This isn't a happy ending.
It's a real one.