Chapter 1 : and by a simple twist of fate, he knew love.
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A/N: Written in response of Girldetective85’s How Love Has Changed Me – challenge. I did my best to stick to the guidelines and I really hope I managed. Edited by lovely Krys/stargazer over at TDP. And lastly: beware (this story is very different from what I've written and not only because the character's are original ones, but because... well, I'm sure you'll see.)
The vivid memory of her still haunts you daily. Her brilliant eyes, reflecting the glimmering diamonds of the night sky, which are set in an oval face with delicate features and smooth, ivory skin, along with peach-coloured lips are all imprinted in your entire being and as much as you’ve tried to prevent it, as much as you ever will be able to prevent it, she is to stay as a part of you. She lingers in your presence as a ghost that is by no means able to rest.
It is ironic. Life is ironic, unpredictable, and cruel. Whatever happened to happily ever after? you had wondered gloomily. It is ironic that the one person you held dear to your heart is not meant for you at all. It tears at your soul – if you even possess one – and tears at your heart – if that one still beats within you.
Your surroundings are dull, grey and somber. The flat in which you’re in is barely furnished, smells of molding nourishment and would disgust a person who has a care in the world. The shadows are lengthening and settling, while the darkness descends rapidly. You have no wish to pluck up the maple wand by your side to switch a light on. What do you need light for? you wonder. She took it all with her.
Yes, she still haunts you. You wish she would breathe the air in the atmosphere; seeing as she constantly drains you of your air. You wish she wouldn’t take your common sense away. I will turn mad. Yes, you will probably turn mad. She was your daily visitor, your constant companion. Now, she still is a daily visitor, but she is too far away for you to touch and feel. She will become your murderer.
If you could only see her, touch and feel her. Life would have a meaning.
He observed himself in the mirror and told himself he didn’t care of what he saw. Deeply set eyes – dark and penetrating – with a low brow, broad jaw, sharp features and his hair, dark and unkempt. What was there to do but accept? he finally concluded and with incredible force, threw his punch and crashed with the greasy mirror. Stunned at the sudden urge, he drew back his hand and began to remove the shards of glass fastened to his knuckles by scarlet blood.
“Bloody hell,” he swore, looked for his wand and upon finding it, muttered spells to clean and seal the wounds.
Another day of another week of another month came. The lazy summer days passed him by and while he didn’t really give a damn of the sun shining outside his windows or the general light-hearted moods of his neighbors and passersby in the street that made their presence known by cheering and laughing at sudden intervals, he did care of the fact that his flat with the gray walls, which could actually repel light, became a well functioning oven one couldn’t turn off when one desired. It bothered him since he as good as was chained to his flat and rarely went out.
One early day in the middle of July, when the heat was unbearable, he exited his one-room sized flat and slammed the door shut with annoyance for nature mocking him. He took leave to a nearby park where he would sit in the shadows and look displeased, knowing the wanderers would glance at him, pity him and walk by him.
Walking with long and threatening strides and bent shoulders, he passed suspicious shops and homeless people that hung in entrance ways, trying desperately to shield themselves from the scalding ball of fire. The cobbled, narrow streets and worn buildings never drew his attention, as they once would’ve done; they were now a part of him, as much as he hated to admit it.
Upon entering a much busier and louder street, after ten or so minutes, he was hindered by someone walking into him. He noticed that the girl had looked over her shoulder just before colliding into him. It was, to his surprise, a petite frame of a young woman he came to hold menacingly in his arms, preventing her from knocking him over. He looked down at her with eyes shooting lighting bolts and she stared back with an uneasy gaze.
“Watch where you’re going, will you?” he growled and as if her skin beneath his fingertips burned him, he let go of her and took a step back.
The woman, he noticed, was very beautiful, almost ethereal and very clean. She just gave him an apologetic smile, although he could see she wanted to make him pay for his rudeness. She regained her composure, and without a word, swept past him without a backward glance and soon after, she was forgotten.
The days, in which his flat was unbearably warm, the tall and worn man left the place he called home and strolled the fifteen minutes to the park and sat beneath a particularly old beech tree, trying to enjoy the summer days as much as possible. On several occasions he would repeatedly see the young woman with her shining black-blue hair and clear blue eyes. He had, quite unconsciously, begun to use his inspective eyes and observed her on the days she passed the park and took her seat on the bench by the Japanese cherry trees. And as the days went by, a change drew nearer and nearer, a change that would come and enhance their general curiosity with life.
One day, on the same spot in which he had accidentally held her with anger and growled in her face, they suddenly stopped in front of each other, almost on the verge of colliding once again. So, there they stood - his tall frame like a black pillar in contrast of her more down-to-earth built of a body. He towered over her, his eyes stern, but his face was, on the other hand, passive. There was no anger visible in his features. Once again he noticed how she kept looking over her shoulder and wondered what there was to it. He reckoned that was the reason for this woman colliding with people.
“If you keep looking over your shoulder, the chance of bumping into someone will be large, I tell you,” he said in his hoarse, unused voice. She heard him perfectly clear to his immense relief.
She just smiled, her expression a bit surprised and lenient. There was no awkwardness in the air, nothing hanging over them like a cloud.
With those words, they walked by each other, no longer two random individuals walking on the same ground in the wide world. He was the man in black, she the woman with the backward glances.
And suddenly, it didn’t matter if he was dead or not. Suddenly, he had reason just to exit what he called home. With his usual shabby and unkempt appearance, he walked to the colorful park, sat beneath the same tree and waited. And of course, she would appear, sit and bathe her curvy and petite figure in the sun, and then disappear.
Finally, when he least expected it, the change came and swept them in the unpredictable winds of life. She was walking in his direction, her eyes fixed shyly upon his figure, following the pavement. Without realising it, he noticed how her black hair colour deepened in the light, how the wind gently ran through it, how she closed her eyes for a brief second whenever the rays of the sun broke through the foliage of the trees. When she reached the bench, the one she always sat on, she passed without looking at it. Her eyes were on the ground now, her feet taking her to him.
And so, she came, pointed vaguely to the seat beside him, indicating to sit down, as though there was nowhere else to be seated and he hummed in response, immediately on his guard.
It was a rather windy day and more often than not he was mesmerised by her flowery scent and drifted reluctantly off to a slumber. Quite suddenly, he realised what was happening and he shook his head; with his features hard as steel and with a dissatisfied humph. Then he would turn away from her unknowing figure, her head leant back comfortably and at ease. Not a word was exchanged that day. Nor the next day, or the one after that. Still, she would sit serenely by the same tree, sometimes with pastries that she kindly offered without words to the man beside her, ones which he declined. But with each time, he would turn her offer down with less rudeness and the woman would smile to herself in a far-away manner.
The pace of whatever was happening was slow and the monstrous man often pondered the inexplicable act of the woman that took her seat by him, silent as a lioness before taking the lethal leap and as patient as a proud heron. He wanted to hear her voice; was it soft and melodious?
He was not to find out for weeks, for the sun was obscured by heavy, grey clouds, having lingered stubbornly for days on end. When one day the rain dried and the clouds dispersed to allow the sun and its rays dominate the forget-me-not blue skies, he hurried off to the park, suddenly resolute on hearing the young woman speak, even if he himself had to commence small-talk.
She was already there, sitting on blanket with an ugly shade of orange with flowers on it, head leant tiredly back against the steady trunk with a piece of paper in her right hand. Not wanting to seem desperate, he slowed his pace down and greeted her with a not so sensible gruff. The corners of her lips curled pleasantly and she opened her eyes, purple bags beneath them, observing as he took his seat. He gazed at everything but her, his courage and determination having turned into vapor. He wondered why she was smiling.
Then, from out of nowhere, as if she was struck by an idea, she turned to her notepad, scribbled in a hurry, tore the piece of paper off and stretched out her hand with it at his direction. He looked up, his deep set eyes enquiring, while she urged him with looks to take the slip of note. He could only receive it in utter astonishment.
He was puzzled, wondering why she didn’t speak. The note had a question on it:
Who are you?
He had to turn it, looking for more, but soon accepted that it only said that. The letters were small, the writing crumpled. He thought harder than ever, frowning. He could not recall the last time he’d thought as much. Who am I?
“I am no one,” he said then and looked at her with wide eyes. She tilted her head, amazed and delighted at receiving a reply.
She reached out her hand toward him and he knew instantly it was for the piece of paper. His heart still skipped a beat – he concluded that her intelligent eyes were the reason – while she took her time to scribble something on it to soon return it again.
I’m no one too it said and he dared gaze at her. Not being the sensitive kind of person, he stated without thinking, “You’re mute,” and she nodded, not really caring at his obvious insensitivity. She wrote again.
Do you have a name?
“Not really, no.”
Me neither then. But I’m curious. Will you talk to me?
“About what?” he raised his bewildered gaze and saw a good-natured smile at the corner of her lips.
About yourself. If you want. Why you’re here. We could start there.
“Because, the flat in which I reside in is as good as an oven. Why are you here?”
I like it here. It’s peaceful.
Will you not apologize for being rude and scaring me that day?
“I didn’t know I scared you.” His tone had a hint of remorse.
She scribbled. You did.
And before they both knew the word of it, they could be seen wandering down streets, strolling through parks, she with an ice-cream in hand, he with his hands buried deep in his pockets. Sometimes they were looking in different directions, but to a careful observer they were enjoying the sensation of not being alone in the world. They could also be seen sitting on benches, her head leant against his shoulder with her eyes closed, tiredness having overtaken her, while he looked a tad bit uncomfortable.
At times, he would walk beside her with his patched up clothes and she beside him in her colorful tunics and worn jeans. Sometimes she could be seen scribbling rapidly on a little note-pad, her tongue without doubt pressing against her teeth in concentration. Nobody ever said it was easy writing and walking at the same time, she would say.
They were sauntering down a quiet and random London street, passing restaurants and hotels, when she asked him who he was. He didn’t respond, so she went back to writing.
It puzzles me. I don’t have a voice, yet I’m much more talkative. Isn’t it ironic?
He looked at it, then at her, not knowing what to say. He thought hard.
“You’re curious,” he concluded and before she could say something, he added, “and I’ve always had problems with pointless chatter.”
I’m sorry you find it pointless; she wrote down quickly and showed it with a frown.
“No need to apologize,” he said smugly. He glanced at her and her displeased expression, not being able to resist the urge of grinning.
But that would usually settle a conversation: an insensitive remark from his side.
Then a particular, quite important day of their history took its place. The summer days were now being numbered, the shadows were lengthening a minute earlier, the buzzing of the insects grew less frequent and the flowers on the flowerbeds withered.
The man, in the same odd assortment of clothes, although much cleaner and the woman, with a glowing light about her, were sitting on an iron bench, the one she had sat on at the very beginning of the frequent visits to the park. As it was more often than not, silence existed between them and wanting to break it – or shred it to pieces more like – she was bold enough to ask her companion of who he, at least, had been. His eyes shifted from the slip of paper to her clear and deep eyes, void of judgment and pity, instead filled with genuine curiosity and compassion.
Tell me the story of who you were, it said on the wrinkled piece of paper in black ink, the words waking feelings and repressed memories.
“I... It’s hard to tell this story. I think there’s a big chance you running away at what I’m about to reveal...” Could he tell her about the Wizarding World?
“Not even if I tell you I’m a wizard?” He didn’t know it could, but this time, the silence feel tangible between them, tense and ominous. Her eyes were wide and incredulous, not sure if she wanted to smile it off or actually believe him. She directed her attention to her notepad.
Then, tell me the story from the beginning. Where...Well, where wizards come from.
“You’re not running away?”
And he spoke like he had never spoken before; recounted the tale of the wizards and witches with accuracy, then recounted his own past without beautifying life, yet giving vivid descriptions of what used to be him, a boy with the world at his feet. His eyes were unconnected, seeing things he hoped for her sake she would never experience. He told her of the first war, then the second war, how he had escaped death; how he had left the life he knew and had loved. The harshness of which he told his story tore at her heartstrings, but not even for a second did she waver under his tormented gaze, nor allow tears spring to her eyes, not allowing any sobs to overtake her. She was not there to pity, only to listen.
“Long time ago... I barely even recognize myself,” he finished lamely and immediately, as if an epiphany took its place within her, her mouth formed as if uttering a vague “Oh!” she scribbled down something.
I think you’re still there. You must dare look deeper within you and face whatever it is you fear.
At the sight of the words, his face was lit by a bemused smile, repeating the two sentences inside his mind. “So, are you going to run away?” he asked then, remembering the topic prior to his tale. He looked into her pale face, silently admiring her while she wrote.
No. But the sooner you can prove it, the better, it said and he shrugged, secretly feeling relieved that she was not yet leaving him.
“You’ll just have to wait and see. Will you able to tell me about you, then?” and he was genuinely curious. It felt wonderful. To feel how he slowly but steadily regained feelings he had deliberately pushed away in the hours of solitude.
There was some scribbling.
Another day, it said, black on white.
"And will you tell me why you keep looking over your shoulder?" he added and he could see how she was caught off guard.
I will, she promised after a brief moment and then she brushed her lips swiftly upon his uneven skin and left him stunned.
But the day never came and she never got the chance to tell him her story. The early autumn day began with the usual promenade to the park, his spirits high, though stomach a little uneasy. When he arrived the park lacked visitors and he could see why. It was wet everywhere, even though the heavy clouds had vanished during the early hours of dawn. He walked over to the bench, disregarded the fact that his robes were soaking with the thousand, glittering drops that hadn’t yet dried off and waited.
Waited... and waited... and waited...
She never came.
He tried to convince himself that he wasn’t disappointed, but his spirits fell as fast as they’d come and his stomach clenched unpleasantly. He was sure there was a reasonable explanation and didn’t linger at the thought, but rose to his feet and reluctantly headed for home.
There, he would find no comfort, nothing to draw his mind off the ghosts of his past which lurked in the shadows. He would find darkness and silence, nothing like the one between him and her, and he would curse the day he was born.
The days without her grew frequent, because he did not see her again. And with each passing one, he realised what she had done to him – brought him slowly back to life. But it was all quiet now. He slowly secluded himself from his surroundings, didn’t take that walk to the park, knowing he would be disappointed in seeing the bench forsaken.
It was ironic. Life was ironic and unpredictable and cruel. Whatever happened to happily ever after? he wondered gloomily. It was ironic that the one person he held dear to his heart was not meant for him to all. It tore at his soul – if he even possessed one – and tore at his heart – if that one still beat within him.
His surroundings were dull, grey and somber. The flat in which he’s in was barely furnished, smelled of molding nourishment and would disgust a person who had a care in the world. The shadows were lengthening and settling, while the darkness descended rapidly. He didn’t have the will to pluck up the maple wand by his side to switch a light on. What do I need light for? he wondered. She had taken it all with her.
It happened suddenly. The storms of autumn raged outside his dirty windows, and the sun barely made an appearance during the short days of November. It happened on one of those days that he received what he was waiting for. It was in the form of a letter, lying unthreatening upon his worn floor, beckoning him. His dark eyes were wide; his heart had stopped beating; his fingers trembled with anticipation. Would it say that she had realised what kind of person he was and couldn’t spend time with him? That she couldn’t meddle with types like him? Couldn’t be with a murderer?
He reached for it and grabbed it with a muscular hand. He turned it over and peered with a mixture of hope and worry at the rather familiar writing. The only difference he noticed was that she seemed to have taken her time writing his address upon the envelope. His name wasn’t there. The known sensation of regret filled him.
Hungrily, he tore open the letter and scanned it with hurry. He read something that made his face clouded by utter anguish and he let out a heart-wrenching moan, retreating to the one and only armchair in the place.
He flattened the piece of paper which was adorned with expensive ink, now meaning to read it thoroughly, from starting point to finish line.
"Dearest friend," it read.
“If this ever reaches you, it means but one thing – I’m finally sleeping peacefully in the earth. I’ve known for quite some time that my time alive was numbered and all those first days at the park were for me to say goodbye and while I was at it, enjoying the beauty life had to offer. I’d accepted my fate, waiting for death to take me away with an ease at heart.
“And then you came along with a troubled soul and wounded heart. All I can say is that it was wrong of me to even reach out, but I can’t say that I regret it. You made, in your own odd way, life’s general taste a little less bitter. I’m truly sorry for not confiding in you – though I still wonder if it would change you, knowing I was dying – but you had enough to deal with all the same and I didn’t want to put extra weight on those broad shoulders of yours. And also, because quite suddenly, I was afraid.
“I told you I would tell my story: I can begin by telling you that my life hasn’t been filled with actual magic and moving staircases in an ancient school somewhere unknown. No, the only school I knew was the boarding school southeast from here. I was born here, Greenwich, London, where I was raised by my hard-working mother. I wasn’t born mute. I simply came to lose the words at the age of seventeen. They slipped away and I felt it. The fact that I was dying was made known two years later. Four months after that, I met you.
“That’s my story in less than a hundred and fifty words. Frankly, there isn’t much more to it. I’ve loved, I’ve lost, I’ve suffered and I‘ve laughed. I have lived.
“And now, I urge you to do the same. I know it’s always easier said than done, but try and let go of those demons that blacken your soul. It’s the past now and there’s no way we can change it. We just have to learn to live with our past, not allow it to consume us. It has done nobody good. Cherish life, because we don’t know if it comes again. Personally, I do hope there’s some kind of afterlife where I one day will be able to meet you again. And if that moment ever comes, I’d love to know your name. I’m sure it defines that wonderful yet mysterious man I came to know by that beech tree.
“Let go and live. Isn’t life too short to do otherwise?
“I miss you. And I’m sorry.
“Elizabeth...” he muttered, disturbing the silence, his eyes watery and his heart shattered. He read it again, remembering, looking back for anything that might have indicated that she was dying, leaving, fading... and it hit him with an indescribable force, turned his insides with sorrow and regret. He remembered the tiredness, the paleness of her skin as the summer reached its end. Will I see you again? he enquired but there was no answer. Would there ever be?
Restless days swept by, and the first snow of the year came and went and all the while, the man thought and remembered and tried to forget. He wanted to forget everything, being tired of the constant suffering, the never ending sorrow of his soul. He put away her crumpled letter, forgot her words, and forgot her face.
Spring came, the flowers blossomed and the air was crisp and full of promise of a better year than the last. Reluctantly he came to think of the fact that it couldn’t be a better year than the last, because there was no longer anyone to share it with, and that made him look for the letter.
He found it, stared at it a second through his tangled fringe and then put it safely in his pocket. The man took a look around at what was his home. He took deep breaths, tried to live for the moment. He felt how everything that had kept tormenting him over the years oozed out of his body and he felt lighter than he ever had. He ran his hand through his messy hair and lowered his face, looking after something unknown to him within himself. A question. He needed reassurance. Can I lead a better life? Can I be the one she knew I could be?
He raised his gaze. Looked around. Everything looked the same way, but it seemed as if he was observing it with new eyes. I’m the same. Am I? He turned to the door, opened it with speed and shut it behind him, locking it with a motion of his wand. He practically ran down the stairs, wanting to feel the air hit gently against his cheek. Wanting to reawaken the vague feeling of her lips against his skin.
He entered the street with hurry, looked to his left and right to be sure no passing cars would ran him over, hurried over to the streets he knew by heart and would take him to the place where he knew he could let everything go. He came to the busy street he had first met her – he knew he looked nothing like he had that day, even though he had buried himself within him as deep as one ever had. But everything was still leaving him.
His legs seemed to be working on their own accord, while his thoughts ran wildly inside his head. He turned a corner, and there, across the street, was the park in bloom. Not as beautiful as it’d been the previous summer – nothing would ever be as beautiful as it had been that summer – but not dead. The buds growing, being nurtured by the sun and its comforting blaze, flowers adorning the even, green lawns. His pounding heart was loud in his ears. Panting, he crossed the street and headed to the well-known tree. Upon reaching it, he simply glanced at it with a mixture of bitterness and fondness, and then took his seat by it. He remembered how it felt having her beside him. With a deep breath, he reached for the letter, opened it and began to read with a serene expression on his face. Had she seen him then she would have seen the person he was to become.
He read it, savoured her words, and printed them into his memory, knowing that the only way to keep her alive now was to listen to her. Was to take her advice and live.
It was humorous – that by a simple twist of fate, he would never get his happily ever after. But he smiled when he realised that she had. And that was quite enough for him.
Some people move our souls to dance.
They awaken us to new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom.
Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon.
They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts,
and we are never ever the same.
by Flavia Weedn
A/N: Perhaps you now understand my concern with this. The characters, for one, if they're believable at all. The idea of love sweeping them off their feet that fast. The dialogue?! Says it all. And also, there is no reason behind the switch of POV's at the beginning. I simply like writing from different point of views. Anyway, I wanted something different and I hope you've liked different. Either way, let me know in a review. Thanks for reading.