AN: Major thank you to decoded
.@TDA for the breathlesly beautiful image here.
Epilogue – Here, where all things come to the close...
‘Though here at journey's end I lie, in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high, beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun, and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done, nor bid the Stars farewell.’ - J.R.R. Tolkien
The lonesome figure that walked in the midst of the falling snow resembled a ghost gliding with difficulty through the clouds... maybe a soul that had lost its way to heaven. The wind was not powerful enough to interfere with the slow, almost lazy gait of the falling snow. It was not biting either. It flew just hard enough to pull the snowflakes with it a an amorous dance older than time itself. And the dancing snowflakes enjoyed their singular life from their birthing moment to their death on the ground, accumulated as sisters again.
But some of them fell on the woman's pale face, which was now so cold that most of the snowflakes did not even melt anymore. Some fell on the trail of blood that she had left behind with every step - and as if shamed by the vibrant red of it, the snowflakes hurried to cover it, to appease the scream of its violence against their white innocence.
The woman kept walking even though it seemed that putting one foot in front of the other was all she could do. Her feet weighted ten tones each and she was tired… so tired
. Even her bones ached. All the suffering, the pain and the heartache were now gone. All she could feel was a strange numbness and a desire to sleep profoundly.
If I could just lay down somewhere. Find myself again…somewhere…
Her thoughts were whispers in her mind, careless because she hardly had strength left to even think. The fire in her was extinguished, the fight in her dead, her spirit gone. Too much pain and suffering had taken everything that made her who she had once been.
Now she was but an empty shell, truly a ghost of herself.
But even in her current condition, even with her body broken and in the icy grip of the snow and pain, she could spear a though for herself... and how much she despised what she had become. Hatred such as she had never known spiked for her own flesh and blood, for everything she was. If she could untangle herself from her own body, she would certainly kill herself and even enjoy it.
Those were the ways the war had changed her: the violence of her days had molded her mind and reason into shapes she had never thought possible. She had become what she despised, what she had never tolerated. She had become someone who had shed blood… a killer…
But she had done it for the people she loved, so she did not regret it.
She could not.
Every life she had taken was another breath that was spared for the people she loved. And she wept for the destruction of her soul, for shattering it over, because she knew that she would do it again. She was sorry for it all… but she would do it again.
No, it was something else that was plaguing her thoughts now: the fact that, despite everything she had been naturally inclined to believe in, despite her abhorrence for violence, she had learned to feel a little tinge of self-righteousness when she ended the life of the wicked. Even in the beginning, when the thought of taking a life weighted on her conscience like a ton of bricks threatening to crush her, the sole comfort for her sins had been that at least nobody else would suffer by the hands of those whose lives she took.
All the blood that will never wash away… All the blood… on my hands…
She had a stubborn streak in her now, a persistent belief that never left her alone, that clashed with her cowardly nature, with her distaste for confrontations; a relentless idea that made up for the bravery she lacked: those who cannot protect themselves deserve someone fighting for them. Nobody deserves to suffer at the hands of wicked men.
This idea was why she gladdened when she could take out one more root of evil in this world: because someone, somewhere would live a day longer because of that.
It was the kind of idea her mother would have come up with. It was the rule he
lived his life by.
Oh, if I could just see you, just once. If I could tell you just one more time how
desperately I am in love with you.
People like her mother and him
– they were born with that kind of thoughts in their heads, they nursed it, acted on it.
Not her though.
She had never felt that way, nor had she been able to understand the logic of people that did. People that claimed they were paws at the hands of a greater force, that they were doing a greater good. Self preservation had always been very important to her and that particular notion of life clashed violently with it. It was the kind of ideal she had never
had, the very thing that she despised actually.
And yet I would die a thousand deaths if that would earn me your forgiveness…
She had always thought that fighting for a better world, for the greater good - or whatever way you chose to put it - was such a self serving notion to have. She had always thought that arrogance and an inflated sense of self was what generally led people to think of themselves as protectors, as heroes.
She had never believed in it … until that belief was beaten into her by life and all the experiences she had had with pain, by all the times she
had been the one suffering at the hands of wicked men and had been pulled out of it by people that shared this idea she once ridiculed. That
was how she had learned to live by it as well, even though she was neither brave nor strong.
She had learned that sometimes just being willing to step up is enough. Because someone, somewhere, might be suffering. Because even one wand more, even at the mediocre hands of one such as herself, could make the difference. She had learned to fight for something, even though the blood and death was all around and nothing she ever did was enough to stop it, to change it. She had learned to accept the despair this brought and realize that it did not mean that it was all useless.
She had learned to kill, to hate.
She had learned to let herself go, leave everything behind and change at the hands of violence, become something she had never seen herself as, something that at times terrified her, haunted her nightmares.
The frightening abyss that started staring back at me through my own eyes… The terrifying hiss of that tiny voice in my head: ‘monster…’
In the midst of all the darkness, she had learned to forgive – the others and herself.
Forgive, or go insane…
She had learned love …
Love… Oh my love, my love, I am so sorry,
so sorry… but I do love you… I love you I love you I love you I lov…
That same belief that she had learned to live by was also why she would have been glad to take her own life. But she had too much hatred for herself to simply end her own pain in such a selfish way. Deep inside her she knew that she deserved every ounce of this suffering. She had earned it, every drop of it.
That was why she had fought her way out of that trap down in the valley. That was why she had refused to let herself bleed to death, why she had the strength to keep walking even though by experience, she knew that the wound on her chest and leg were deep enough to be fatal if not cured fast and well.
And even if they hadn’t been, she knew by now that she was going to die anyway: the poison had done its job. She had been coughing blood for days, her insides were liquefying.
There was no escape… She was walking to her death, yes, but she would not make it easy for herself. She knew that she deserved no relief.
None would be sorry. None would mourn. She was forgotten by the world and despised by those that remembered her. But she did not blame them for their loathing. She had been the undoing of every single person she loved... how could she blame them for spurning her? How, when she loathed her own skin more than they ever would?
The next step she took finally proved to be the one her body refused to take. Her knees failed her, her once powerful limbs now frail as glass.
Catch me… Where are you?
Impossibly, again she fell.
On the snow, on her own condemnation.
The frosty bite of the cold on her cheeks scorched out of her even that little warmth that had been left. Never had she known hell to be so cold. Never had she felt a slower death. Now she understood why most of the Aurors she knew and the soldiers of the Order said that they preferred death on a battlefield, in a duel. It was usually guaranteed to be quick and if you were lucky, painless as well.
Not like this slow loss of consciousness that left you time to think about your own demise.
But she did none of that. In her last moment, as her blood seeped into the snow and burned it red, she didn’t spare a single thought for herself.
Because I found you. I locked you here, in my heart…in my heart…
Instead she focused with all her might on the memories of a lifetimes ago, on the familiar faces that she had once called family and others she had loved with all the strength her soul could muster. She offered them her last moments of life and her last prayers, not thinking of redemption but bent on doing something right, just once more, for the last time.
I am not afraid anymore… I’m not… I’d die for you now. You have made me brave…
She knew she deserved none of their forgiveness, but she still asked for their ear as she let go of her last breath. It was not shame she felt now, not regret.
Your love changed me, your smile saved me…
She had not the strength for it anymore.
Her memories came back to her. Memories long forgotten of a lifetime ago, when she had been a different person. Now they seemed like the photographs from someone elses life. But it had been her
life. It had been lived. All that time, such happy memories and pained memories. Her life had been a turmoil, a storm and she had been in the eye of it... but her life had been lived. And she remembered exactly when it had started.
And with who...
My hearts whispers of you: I love, I love, I love…
Only that deep love was left, that like a warm blanket encased her as she slowly started to fall into a sleep such as she had not known for a long time. A peaceful sleep that lulled every pain out of her. Childhood sleep.
And warmth of love.
It was a good way to die… there in the snow, as she saw herself again, from the first day she started feeling her life for the first time.
AN: I'd like to take this chance to apologise sincerely to those reviewrs whose words were lost, because i had to delete a couple of chapters. I've saved all my reviews on my computer, so just because it's not there doesnt mean I dont have it. I know it sounds conrny but it's true: I cherish every word, so please don't be mad or hurt.