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Chapter 86 : Reopening a Wound
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She had, truthfully, not assumed that her presence would be missed. Considering the situation she had so narrowly evaded (and the situation she had been fortunate to walk into), her absence wasn't her highest priority. Scarlett hadn't thought that anyone would care that she had been gone, hoping they'd be too caught up in the wedding nonsense to even notice.
However, Scarlett returned to the Devous Manor with three people wondering where she had been.
The first was Regulus; as soon as she stepped through the front door to the foyer, he was in her face, asking her where she'd gone. A surge of pity struck her when she realized Regulus looked as though he had been pacing the manor for hours, but once she'd hugged him and assured him that she had been in safe hands he relaxed considerably. "Don't do that again," he said, squeezing her tightly and then promising that he would be spending the next hour with the remaining alcohol from the wedding.
Once Regulus left, Scarlett next saw her sister, Priscilla, standing quietly on the stairwell. Knowing intrinsically that Priscilla was aware of where she had been, Scarlett smiled at her; Priscilla smiled back, nodded once, and then went up the stairs, her footsteps quiet and her presence fleeting.
And then... Scarlett turned her head. He had been quiet, leaning against the wall, but he had still been there, waiting for her. His eyes were dark; he didn't look worried or happy like the other two did. He looked as if he had been caught up in their history, so deep in thought about their previous relationship that it took him a while before he reacted to the Scarlett that was in front of him.
Theodore looked at her as if he had never seen her before, so Scarlett was shocked when he approached her, cautiously, and embraced her, his hands resting on her back and hers awkwardly on his chest. She didn't like that he hugged her; it felt too robotic and brought back memories of when they had been together. Which of course brought back the memories of being with Sirius in the outlook...which of course reminded her of that horrible, horrible night where everything had fallen apart.
She much preferred to focus on her future—what she had decided for her future—then to dwell in the past. Being so close to Theodore was reopening a wound.
He didn't seem comfortable with the hug either, but when the hug broke he still remained close, as if he was trying to replicate what they had in October. "I need to talk to you," he said. "Is there somewhere that we could go?"
Scarlett hadn't sat on the front steps of the Devous Manor since her sister had prophesized that she would lose everything.
It seemed extremely ironic to Scarlett, then, to be sitting with Theodore there, for he had been the first thing she had lost. It also felt surreal; Scarlett hadn't spoken to Theodore, really spoken to him, since the New Year, and to see him how he was now...not quite as he had been before she had hurt him, but treating her without anger...was unnerving.
She had definitely missed Theodore since their fight, but she felt as though Theodore had been lost in the past, along with the days when she had mindlessly gone along with what the Death Eaters wanted. Since she had become aware of what Voldemort was doing to her, her life seemed divided into two parts: the world without his possession and the world with it. Theodore hadn't been a major part of the life she lived in now, so she couldn't help but feel nervous when he had said he wanted to talk to her.
Scarlett exhaled, pulling her knees closer to her body. "Theodore?" she asked. "What was it that you wanted to talk to me about?"
"I missed you," he said, but his statement sounded confused. "It's been hard. I just wanted...I don't know. I just wanted to see what it would be like. To talk to you again."
"Well, we're talking," said Scarlett; what else could she say? "How is Ambrose?"
"We broke up tonight," Theodore said; his voice was surprisingly devoid of emotion. It was as if their break-up was a recited fact rather than a painful memory.
"I'm sorry," she replied. "What happened?"
Theodore looked down at his hands. "It just didn't feel right," he said. "I don't know. She wasn't happy with me and I wasn't really too thrilled with her either."
"Should make Georgiana happy."
He smiled, but the smile faded as quickly as Scarlett had noticed it. "Yes," he agreed. "She thought it was a good wedding present."
There was an awkward pause as they both thought about marriage; Scarlett observed that Theodore still had his ring, inscribed with Always and Forever, on his finger. "Is Georgiana happy?" she asked.
"She's relatively happy. I think it probably hurt her more than she let on. About Remus, I mean."
An awkward silence threatened them again, lurking on the horizon, but as Scarlett realized that there was no need to continue fighting with Theodore she decided to say the words she'd been wanting to say ever since their fight but couldn't find the right moment to. "Theo," she said, and his name opened up the gateway, "I thought about what I did to you all the time. I hated that I hadn't been honest with you the entire way. You never deserved to be hurt, and I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I wish that I had been strong enough to make the right decisions, and I wasn't, and I never wanted to lose you. We've been friends for so long. It was horrible not to have you there with me. I hated that you hated me and I hated myself too."
Scarlett looked over at Theodore's face. He didn't look changed from what she had said, but as Scarlett looked closer there were things she noticed. How his eyes looked at the ring on his finger. How, for the smallest of moments, his breath quickened, like he couldn't believe the conversation was happening.
Those small changes were the only indication that Theodore had been thinking about what Scarlett had said, and without his response Scarlett continued. "It doesn't have to be tense, and I know I'm asking for a lot," Scarlett said. "Things won't ever be the same and I don't think they should ever be the same. You and I have both changed, a lot. But I would love to have you back in my life, Theo. Really."
Theodore didn't say anything once more, but he moved his hand slowly towards his pocket, retrieving something: the ring that she had thrown at him. Without a word, he handed it to her. "Have you been carrying this around?" Scarlett said quietly.
Finally, he spoke. "Yes," he said; he sounded embarrassed. "I didn't want to throw it out or anything. I was kind of hoping..." He trailed off, looking ahead, even though the night was so dark they could barely see each other. "That you'd take it back...One day. I'd never...say that to myself, though. I just always had the feeling that it... wasn't over, between us."
Scarlett felt a jolt at his words; that wasn't what she meant when she said she wanted him in her life. "Theodore," she said, trying to end the train of thought before he got carried away, but he didn't pay attention.
"It won't be the same, you're right—"
"It doesn't have to be," he said, his voice gaining energy as he spoke, enlightened by his idea—
"I just want you to be there again," he continued. "I know you made a mistake, but we can try—to start over, things were so much easier—"
"I still love Sirius."
The four words that Scarlett spoke stopped Theodore abruptly, the fantasy that he had been conjuring dissipating in a moment. "What?" he said, in disbelief.
"I still love him, Theo," she said. "I never stopped."
It was a punch to her stomach to have to hurt him, again, but she knew that it was better to be honest than dishonest. She remembered the last time she had been dishonest with Theodore. "I love you, but I don't love you in the same way I love Sirius," she said. "I'm sorry. I meant everything I said but I don't want you to get the wrong idea."
"What?" Theodore repeated; he looked so disappointed.
"I can't change who I am," Scarlett said firmly. "What I did to you was wrong, but I can't just get back together with you because that's not how I feel. You used to be my best friend, Theodore, and—"
"Stop, please," he said, rubbing his temples, and Scarlett did, her face reddening. When he opened his eyes again, they were desperate. "Please," he said once more, though his tone had changed to mirror his eyes. "Scarlett, I don't like what's happening to me." He began to speak faster. "When I see people, they don't—mean anything. And when I think about after school, what I'm going to do, it just doesn't matter. I feel like since the New Year I have become an entirely different person—this ugly person—and it's taking me over, and none of that was happening, I wasn't that way, before I saw you with Sirius."
Scarlett knew what it felt like to become unrecognizable to one's self, but she knew, just as Theodore had to, that there was nothing that she could do for him. "It's been hard, Theodore, since we broke up. It's been so hard." She remembered Sirius and Tenereus as she spoke again. "Just because it's been hard for both of us doesn't mean the solution is to go back to how what we were doing before. We can't keep going back. We have to move forward."
"You know you can't be with Sirius," Theodore said, trying to contain his bitterness. "We bound. You made—the Unbreakable Vow—that you would love me." He sounded so dire. "You can't even be with him, Scarlett, or you'll die. So why don't you just—"
"Come on," she said, and even though her voice was quiet Theodore stopped talking immediately. "Theodore. You... cannot fixate on the past. You know that if we got back together that I would always love Sirius. You wouldn't be able to find your happiness with that. I know that I wouldn't." She took a deep breath. "And I do love you. I know I expected too much, wanting to be friends with you. But I hoped that maybe we could try to."
"Well, we can't," said Theodore shortly. "But you can keep the ring for the memory. I don't want it anymore."
Scarlett looked down at the ring as the entirety of what he said hit her; the possibility, however small, that there was of a resolution between them had entirely gone away. "I'm sorry," she said. "I know that you will find your happiness one day, Theodore. Just not with me."
He stood up. "Why him, Scarlett?" he asked, sadly. "I never treated you badly. We got along. I thought that we would always be together. I felt so lucky. If you loved me as much as you say you did, then why did you fall in love with someone else?"
She remembered those times that she had been with Theodore, how she had promised to stay with him. Although things were remarkably different than they had been when she had made that promise, it hurt her to know that there was no way she could honor what she had said to Theodore. He could never be her friend; she could never be his lover.
The answer to Theodore's question came so easily to her. All she had to do was remember those times that she had been with Sirius. They argued more than she and Theodore ever did; they had known each other, really known each other, for a shorter period of time than Theodore and Scarlett ever had. When they had met, their beliefs had been completely different.
Everything said that Scarlett and Sirius, technically, shouldn't have been together. He was a Gryffindor, she was a Slytherin. With those House titles came the personality traits they embodied; while Sirius was hotheaded, passionate and reckless, Scarlett was calculating and favored reason over emotion.
It hadn't mattered.
So, when Scarlett tried to answer Theodore's question, she knew exactly what to say. "I don't know. I don't think there is any one reason why. I think that it just... happens. I don't know why, exactly, I fell in love with him...but it never mattered why or how. No matter why—I just know that I did."
Theodore took her words in. "Okay," he said, and then he walked away from her, just as he had that night she had been discovered.
However, while Theodore was the one to walk away again, Scarlett didn't feel the same. When Theodore had walked away from her before, she had felt helpless and lost, overwhelmed by a situation that she had tried so desperately to avoid only to find that she couldn't avoid the inevitable.
Now, however, Scarlett watched Theodore walk away with satisfaction. It wasn't happy satisfaction, by any means. It hadn't been the easiest option she could have taken, but as she watched him enter the Devous Manor to leave her alone she knew that it had been her only true option, the only option she would have been happy with.
After a period of contemplation, Scarlett stood up herself. The night had been whirlwind; she had talked to two people that she had wanted to talk to for so long, to let all of the things that had built up within her to come out. Both had been prominent people in her past, but now she knew that only one would be a component of her future. If she had been fixated on the past, this would have troubled her terribly, the idea to be without Theodore. Ages ago she would have felt that being without Theodore was impossible.
Now she knew better. She took one last look at the nighttime sky; under it she had reconciled with Sirius and forever lost Theodore. Most importantly, she had made a choice regarding her future, a choice all her own, one that Theodore or Sirius couldn't take hold of.
It was troubling to leave the past behind, those traces of familiarity that she would never have again. But, like she had told Theodore, the only option was to move forward. Scarlett was moving forward with Sirius and moving ever closer to that final confrontation she knew existed between her and Voldemort. Looking away from the night sky, she couldn't help but smile...for, with her ties to the past resolved, she could finally look forward to her future. To a new tomorrow.
A ship that hurdles towards the shore caught by a ship in the night; love saves one who needs it so tomorrows are bright.
A/N: AHH GUYS! I love you so much! :) So I really like this chapter. Again it is one of those... ending a loose string kinda chapter, resolving a conflict if you will. I think I really like this chapter for a lot of reasons. I think that it is extremely representative of character growth and I like that a lot! I also think that it is just... well, I really like Theodore. I think I have the hots for him simply because I always imagined him as James Marsden, who is the best actor OF ALL TIME (I DON'T KNOW HOW HE IS THE OTHER MAN IN THE NOTEBOOK. I'D EASILY PICK HIM IN SUSPENDERS) Anyways, I love to hear from you and thank you for reading :)
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