Chapter 1 : Isla Black
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Thanks so much to my lovely beta, Lizzy (confusedlover) for her simply amazing editing skills! This would not be what it is without her expertise.
Chapter One: Isla Black
Universal and ever-changing; with every second there goes a moment you cannot take back. It becomes lost forever in the pages of our minds, hidden behind vivid stills of the present and distant memories of times long past. In the little nooks and crannies of our mind these moments fade. Never can one gain that second back, or this one, or the next one, or even the next million after it. Perhaps that’s why it’s simultaneously so reverently feared and desired; once gone, it becomes unattainable.
Time is the inevitable transition between moments and the moments themselves. It flows from second to second, minute through minute, hour to hour, day to day, year to year.
It’s unstoppable and fearless; time can develop a burden or erase a once cherished memory forever. It can break a heart, heal old wounds, change seasons, break a child’s first toy and yet it is still openly revered by all of its victims.
Time is unsuppressed ambition coming and going as frequently as the ebb of the tide. People fear elapsing time more then death itself.
Myself above all others. For as time creeps onward, it brings me closer to what I cannot face.
I stare at my ruffled reflection in the old, spotted mirror, vainly searching my features for some sign of courage or hope. My blonde hair, twisted up in a loose bun, has come half undone in my anxiety. I blink my eyes rapidly to quell the salty tears, but they stream unceasingly down my face. My eyes run frantically over the room, trying to find some source of distraction. The heavy, red velvet curtains allow only a thin slant of natural light to fall into the small room. The rest of the room – the rustic desk and chair before me, the two oil paintings on the opposite wall, peeling from age and the old, yellowing couch on the left divider – are lit by a single, flickering candle.
I come to the sudden realization that I cannot do this.
My fingers fumble and slip with the narrow zipper of my dress – my wedding dress, to be more exact. My breath comes in short, unmeasured gasps and soon I find myself clutching a wooden straight-backed chair for support, my zipper the last thing on my mind. I begin to shake hysterically and it takes all my effort to remain upright.
I squeeze my glassy eyes shut as tight as humanly possible and begin the age-old tactic of counting slowly in my mind to clear my head. I love him, I do. And I do, but it isn’t my dear Robert who I’m in such a state for. It is more… more intricate than that. My parents are staunch purebloods, you see, and Bob Hitchins is no wizard. He isn’t even a Squib - although that would probably be worse for them. He is a Muggle rather, who had no prior knowledge of a wizarding race until I came along. And as much as I detest my parents, I cannot help but want to please them and make them proud of me. And this? This is the exact opposite of being a deferential child – by marrying a Muggle I am effectively ruining them and the Black family name. Isla Black will be no more.
I never thought that it would hurt as much as it does, but, God, does it ever kill.
A soft knock at the door startles me and I nearly trip over my gown in an effort to face the door. “Isla, are you okay?” a concerned female voice drifts through the door. I let out a low sigh of relief as I realize it is Alice Hitchens, my dear friend and Robert’s sister.
“Um, hello,” I manage to respond lamely to the solid oak door. I will it open with my mind, needing Alice to come in and assure me that I am doing the right thing, and that, in time, my parents will come to forgive me.
Only, as much as I try to convince myself of it, the more unlikely it seems, until now it feels like a silly childish desire.
“Isla? Are you okay?” she repeats more urgently. She sounds worried, my head barely registers, but I will not let her see me like this.
“Fine, I’m fine,” I squeak before finally finding myself overcome with grief. I fall over, landing hard with a resounding thump on the worn fabric of a rather dull coloured rug. I lie there, with absolutely no desire to move or respond to the frantic shouts from Alice as she bangs on the door and vies anxiously for my attention. Alice, like Bob, doesn’t have an ounce of magic in her body and, as the door is locked, she is trapped on the opposite side until I ensue otherwise.
I hear a voice – my old beau Ryan from my Hogwarts days? – and the click of a lock. A rather large shadow soon falls over me, and without looking up I know who it is; Robert Hitchins, my soon-to-be husband and the sweetest man alive.
“Isla?” he asks softly. I cannot detect any emotion in his gruffly voice. He’s always been good at trivial tricks like masking his voice. Being a Muggle, I suppose, he must make do with what he has.
But I, as usual, digress.
I make no movement or sound in response. My mind seems to have lost all related functions. Is this shock? Is this normal for a bride this close to her wedding ceremony? Or am I such a pathetic fool that I let thoughts of my family, who never really even ever cared for me, wreck the happiest day of my life? Robert should be the only person in my thoughts right now. This shouldn’t be happening. I am ruining everything.
Is Robert having doubts, too? He isn’t speaking; he just stands there, his dark eyes regarding me quietly. I lack even the slight strength it takes to tilt my head forty five degrees to catch his expression. Oh, must I ruin everything? Why do I always seem to do stupid things like this?
The floor seems to mimic my current state and stubbornly refuses to warm beneath my crumpled body. I shiver noticeably and a thin jacket is placed over my shoulders. My eyes flicker upward and I realize that Robert is kneeling calmly beside me. “Isla?” he tries again. His demeanor is calm, but it is his eyes that seem to operate my resolute mind. They are pleading with me, and I am compelled to make him happy again. When he is anything but content I feel this irrevocable itch to make him smile.
“Family,” I whisper. He nods, understanding.
“Are you okay? Do you need anything?” he presses with concern. If anyone else were so adamant to help me, I would have shown them a piece of my mind. But it’s different with him.
I shake my head. Words seem a far-fetched task. Sentences seem genius.
“Do you—do you want to call off the wedding?”
This got my blood flowing. “No,” I whisper fervently. Again he nods. I am so lucky to have him. If our positions were reversed (highly unlikely) what were the chances I’d stick around? I hate myself for it, but he is more loyal then I could ever be.
He moves closer to me and arranges himself so that my head rests comfortably on his lap. His fingers move through my hair, and it immediately triggers a sort of peace within me. I close my eyes and allow myself to succumb to his touch, to forget my parents and my family. This is what I want and he’s who I need. I don’t need people who thought little or nothing of me all of my life. Robert has held my hand through everything and here I am letting him down.
It hurt like hell to know how disappointing I was.
My brothers and my sister and my parents are my blood; my own flesh and bone. If we had anything in common, it would only be that already existent ‘bond’ and nothing more. But Robert, Robert has always been there for me. He didn’t run when I told him I was a witch, or that my parents were eccentric, old fashioned people who would undoubtedly disapprove of him. If anything, it made him love me more.
A slight smile graces my lips as these thoughts dawn on me. Roberts loves me. He loves me despite everything. He loves me even now, even though I made a complete mess of this day – our day. He’s here, cradling my head in his lap and trying to make me feel better. He loves me despite my family, my failings, and my tendency to make a mess of everything that should be otherwise.
I figure it’s about time to clean this mess up. I think, though, that I’ll need a lot more than a floppy mop and bucket.
“Robert?” I whisper. He smiles down at me, untroubled. Oh, he is too good to me. What have I ever done to deserve him? At that moment, he strokes my face with such adoration and love in his eyes that I am convinced that he doesn’t care that I’m hedged between what I am raised to believe and what I want out of life. He understands and, above all else, knows that, in the end, I’ll find my way back to him.
Maybe I won’t need a mop here. Maybe all I need is a little love.
So, right then and there, I sit up and kiss him. And he kisses back so tenderly, softly and lovingly, that I feel all my worries about my family dissipate, at least for the time being. All that exists in my mind is Robert.
We pull away, and I’m hit by the full throttle of our passion. He will stand by me through thick and thin, and though it is inevitable that we’ll have our disagreements, it is also inevitable that we’ll find each other in the end. We all have flaws and imperfections that make us human, and the desire for our parents adoration is one of them. Robert never hammers out my flaws, though, he accepts them, embraces them, even. Best of all, he sees the potential in everything.
And that's probably what I love best about him.
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