Chapter 2 : Chapter 2
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It’s funny, this sort of odd, hollow I carry inside me now that I don’t have you. Every time I see you, whether it be at family dinner, holding Victoire’s hand, or whether we make occasional eye contact, it sends my heart racing. This huge part of me wants to run and jump into your arms like I used to do for so long. For so long, your arms were the only place I felt safe and accepted. I don’t know where to turn now, but I know I can’t be there.
And I was right. Within 2 weeks of our “breakup,” you proposed to Victoire. It was creative and elaborate and perfect, just like everything she’s always wanted. It looks well on her, engagement. Her eyes now shine with excitement and her body emits a glow that makes her look even more lovely than she usually does, if that’s even possible. It would have been wonderful if the man that made her feel this way was not you, the same man that I loved. Not loved, love. I still love you.
When I think of it, the way we fell together was awkward and unexpected, as these things usually are. You were, after all, my older cousin’s boyfriend. But still, so often, I felt that I connected to you better than anyone else. In my family I was always the outcast, the odd one out. Everyone expected me to be loud and fun loving like my brothers, but I was so different.
Inside, I was so fragile. Even more so than Victoire, maybe, but I never showed it. I simply smiled and went on. But you were the only one who noticed that behind my forced smiles were a pain that the others could not see. You were the only one who took the time to really understand me and know me. Maybe that’s why I felt so safe in your arms, because you allowed me to be completely vulnerable and open with you.
I think it’s strange how you’re with Victoire, but somehow it does make sense. You’re so honest and real. You hate facades and fakeness, and yet, Victoire is the queen of that. But also, she is weak, and she needs you. Is it because a part of you feels bad leaving her alone? I don’t know.
I don’t think I can ever forget your boyish smile. You wiggled your way into my heart with a grin, a smirk, a certain charm that no one else possessed. Is it horrible that the only man I’ve ever loved also happens to belong to another? I don’t know what that says about me, but then again, I’m a broken person. With you was the only time I felt whole and alive.
Do you remember the time we danced in the fountain? You were humming “Fly Me to the Moon,” and we were dancing and laughing like it wasn’t anyone’s business. Children were giggling and pointing to us, the crazy ones, but we didn’t pay them any mind. Do you remember the time Victoire was in France and you were staying with us? Late in the night, you snuck into my room and dragged me out to the roof. We sat there, not speaking, but simply enjoying each others’ company. We didn’t need words; all I needed was the sensation of your arms around me, your heart beating, and the smell that was undeniably you. I wonder if you’ve ever shared that kind of moment with her.
But I can’t be selfish. I can’t continue being the other woman. I can’t tear apart my cousin’s happiness. And your happiness. Sometimes I want to convince myself that you don’t really love her. You’re just with her because that’s what everyone expects. But then I see the way you look at her, your eyes wide with awe, and I know that you do indeed love her. You love her because she’s a lovely creature, almost as lovely as you are.
The morning of your wedding, I go through the preparations numbly. I smile as I help Victoire with her hair. I laugh when Dom complains about how uncomfortable her dress is. I admire the decorations with the others. I nod in agreement when Molly proclaims that you and Victoire are perfect together. I do it wonderfully, playing the part of the joyous cousin. But still, my heart is bleeding all over the floor. Anyone who looks closely enough can see that there’s pain seeping out of my cracks.
But then again, I am a wonderful actress.
The procession is beautiful. Victoire looks like an angel floating down the aisle; she’s perfect in every way. You would have been stupid to let her go. She’s truly stunning, it would have been foolish to ever think about picking me over her. Once, only once did I let my gaze linger on you just a moment too long. Still, that brief moment we did share was electrifying. I know you felt it too by the way you swallowed hard and turned your attention so adamantly back to your bride.
Later, at the reception, I laugh and joke and dance with everyone else. All my male cousins tell me how beautiful I look, little Lily all grown up. But it all means nothing because I want to hear it from you. But I’m fine. At least, I pretend to be fine. I have to be fine.
I have to be because you’re a married man now. You now belong to her, the beautiful goddess that is Victoire. I can’t keep a part of you for myself. I have to let you be hers, completely. I have no business being with a married man, even if that man is you, the man I love. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know if I’ll ever love someone like I love you. I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving you. But I have to let you go, Teddy. I have to.
A/N: Again, I'd love to hear what you thought!