Chapter 1 : the child of time
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It is a glistening morning. The sun reaches down through the broken sky, lifting a shroud of mist from the fields. Languidly, the world emerges from its airy cocoon. It is a fragile thing of beauty, which, at its birth, is prone to a particular twisting of the truth. Yet it is a new thing, this uncovered world. It is not a corpse, shriveled and dry, is not mummified by the horror that once scented the air. There is hope in the land beneath the haze: trees that hint at green, flowers struggling to rise again from their tombs.
This delicate dawn reminds her of him. He, who always spoke of the future, perhaps because it was all he had. The present was merely transitory for him, a respite before he ascended to his destiny. The future rose before him, stairs that he could climb forever, that would help him remake the world as he willed.
She had loved him for his future though not as much as she loved his present. There, they were equals, both with potentials not yet met. Her life was not yet ossified; she might one day expand it for him.
A shadow smothered the sun, and she saw him turn out of the mist. He reached for her, arms gliding over hers, sheltering her from what was new and unknowable. He loves you, the wind whispered in her ear, soothing the pain separation had brought her.
She looked up into his face, and saw his smile. It was what had first drawn her to him. His smile did not speak of the future, as his eyes did; it was an expression of joy that could only form in the present. It was subtle doubt: what if the years did not progress with the expected brilliance?
She would have given him her soul. For months, she had been shedding bits of it like tears, preparing for this final gift. With any other, she would have been afraid to speak of love, but she knew that in his hands, her heart would fare better than in her body. There was no need to talk of trust for it hung in the air around them, its diaphanous threads binding them closer. Neither could escape this gossamer, woven cage, leaving it for the sharp angles of betrayal.
It had been in a watery dream that she had first realized her love for him. Her ears had been filled with the intoxicating siren calls of monsters. She had floated, surrounded by curtains of seaweed and hair that clouded her vision even as she saw the truth. Her love and his were one and the same. In the murky lake, they mixed yet in the dream she knew that transformation had only been fixed by the water. It had been forged in a fiery hell guarded by dragons and now it solidified in these dark depths of dreams and monsters.
They had glowing evenings, dancing through faceless admirers in spangled ballrooms. She had been elevated by him. No longer did she hide in the shadow cast by his brilliancy: now her own small light was magnified to encompass their world. He had made her a better person. There was no room left for the petty emotions that had once poisoned her blood. He was the antidote to bitterness and jealousy that she had always sought.
She wished she could say she knew it was going to collapse, but she had never guessed. She had been a child, unable to think of consequences because she had let her world become too bright. It was only as she waited in those stands did she realize. The crowd, packed tightly together to observe this final battle, lent her their thoughts and with this collective knowledge, she saw the truth of a game gone too far. While he struggled for triumph in the maze, she had her own labyrinth to navigate. Madness licked at her brain, the child of desperation. The serpent of her uneasiness wormed its way through the throng, leaving its seeds of doubt behind to take root in their minds.
Time was mutable. Those six months together had been shorter than this eternity of uncertainty. Every moment of joy now had a twin of discontent. They coagulated and the heavy mass of clotted thoughts suffocated her, sheer weight threatening to break their welded love. The poison of this substance—fear—burrowed into her last reserves of hope. She would not last much longer without seeing his face unharmed.
When the torture ended, and her veil of demons lifted, all she could see was death. He was as perfect as she had wished, but the future in his eyes had died along with his body.
After, everyone called it such a shock. Yet she did not feel the sudden vitality that astonishment brings. Her grief was numbing and cloying, trying to smother her spirit. If there had been no love, she would have called it an addiction, to him, to what he represented. Yet their love had been forged in fire, set in cool waters. Even his death had not broken this creation. Instead, it was her faith that had been shattered like false jewels. How could she have ever thought that anything so pure could withstand such darkness?
At night, she had thrown the fragments of her faith up as an offering to the stars. Yet the stars had shied away from the shards and let them tear at the fabric of the heavens. As the sky broke, it sounded like his death, wrenching though the established, altering the absolute, tearing holes for the uncertain universe to leak through.
But uncertainty was not same as darkness. It was an expanse of possibilities, of fluidity. The future had not closed for her when he had died and the sky had broken.
The cloud drifts away from the sun and in her arms, he changes. His smile is frozen and all its warmth is lost because now he does not smile just for her. It no longer tells her of his current joy—for him, nothing can be current now—but rather it speaks of past expression and of a former moment she can no longer remember. His eyes which once prophesized what was to come now reflect his final horrors: the green in them flickers and ebbs as he waits for the death that already claimed him. He is now a child of time, a figment of the past: a memory.
And they never lived in the past.
It is a glistening morning. The sun reaches down through the broken sky, lifting a shroud of mist from the fields. There is hope beneath the fog. This is the rebirth that he said would come.
She feels naked, standing there without his arms to shelter her. But as the wind brushes through her hair, she no longer hears it speaking of love, love, for there cannot be love without two. She cannot give her heart to the dead; there are no betrayals to promise against for he is frozen.
Her breath clouds the air, yet around her spring dares to emerge. The air is still; the birds cry freedom.
He always spoke of the future, perhaps because it was all he had. Now the future is all she wants.
Written for TheProphecy's Find Your Style Challenge and long_live_luna_bellatrix's Repetition Challenge.