|Picking Up The Shattered Pieces
Author: DissectingPomegranates PM
*Sequel to An Unstoppable Force Meets An Immovable Object* Bad news arrives, the floodgates are opened and someone returns with good intentionsRated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Angst - C. Hardbroom & A. Cackle - Chapters: 18 - Words: 62,313 - Reviews: 82 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 01-01-13 - Published: 01-05-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7714416
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: So this was much easier than the last chapter. And you'll have to pardon the chops and changes between flashbacks and characters!
Also, did do my own research about drug withdrawal (as well as other things but not a liberty to disclose) so this is my variation, the only thing I've suffered is a bad hangover so can't relate however I do know of the nauseating feeling of a migraine! Again tried to stick to a realm of believability, go into details and attempt to branch my descriptions...everything within taste so I don't have to bump the fic rating!
Me muse is the ever constant Black Swan soundtrack...I *heart* it all and you've guessed it's always on for Shattered Pieces and on repeat! LOL
I'd like to thanks absolutely everyone for taking the time to read and review and have been following this since the very beginning. Has been an utter pleasure *bows* from the bottom of my heart (and without getting mushy) Thank You x
Chapter Eleven: The Path Is Anything But Smooth
There was laughter.
The sound was music to her mother and father's ears, the precious sound that emanated from their daughter as she giggled full heartedly. She was so happy, excited as her parent's finished singing 'happy birthday' and presented her with a glorious cake.
White icing crystallized and encased the moist vanilla sponge while the silver glittering candles stood proudly on top joined in company with a tiny figurine. The small plastic ballerina poised forever in the fifth position, her white ballet shoes embedded in the sweet icing which complimented her pale pink tutu. Her tiny hands curved high above her head, set in the perfect pose.
Her chocolate brown eyes never left the tiny woman that stood on her cake, her heart skipped several beats. Constance wanted to be just like her.
"Make a wish then blow out all the candles, sweetie."
Constance paused for a moment, her eyes entranced by the delicious cake that was inches away from her grasp. The warmth and glow of the candles caressed her youthful skin, her eyes watched as the small flames danced and flickered upon their wicks, desperate to maintain their existence then she closed her eyes.
Her heart's desire and the want for the wish to come true, excited her, the prospect that once she extinguished the flames from the candles that her wish would in deed come true. Her dimples contagiously infected her parents as both of them smiles deliriously, sharing and basking in their daughter's happiness.
The small flames were extinguished, transformed into grey puffs of smoke that slowly faded out of existence.
Amelia carefully surveyed the desk.
Her eyes were relentless, paranoid that she may have inadvertently disturbed something. She had to ensure that nothing was out of place.
Everything was back in its rightful place, nothing appeared out of the ordinary but the fear of being discovered or raising any suspicions from the counselor now began to haunt her. She would not give Zelda any more ammunition.
One final inspection of the desk and surrounding furniture, Amelia reluctantly backed out of the room and gently closed the door behind her, never to purposely venture or further breech the privacy of the counselor's room or documents.
Her mind had been exposed to a barrage of toxic images which all featured her poor Constance and the scribbled notes from a psychotherapist. The words so cold and clinical similar to the pictures that she was subjected to. Amelia did everything in her power to prevent herself from fleeing back to her room, to show Constance in love and affection but even her love for her adoptive daughter would never be enough to erase the damage already inflicted. Her mothering instincts threatened but logic dictated that she could not risk exposing her self, there was no going back now.
Too late, she knew everything.
The delicate balance of trust that pivoted precariously between Zelda and Constance had been broken, disturbed by Amelia but in the back of her mind, convinced herself that she had been forced to do this. All Zelda's fault, she had pushed Amelia's hand in the matter and now she knew of the tormented past. It would be a secret she would take to the grave.
She glanced at her still shaking wrist, at her watch. There was still enough time before she would return to her rightful place.
Zelda looked around and found a book, perched on the bedside table and felt the weight of it.
"Easy reading." She murmured and thumbed the pages before stopping at a random chapter
She found herself transported into the fictional world of Amelia's book and for a moment, forgot where she was. Constance slowly opened her eyes.
Zelda had been plucked from the green countryside, from the draughty old castle and was now in the middle of a crowd. Strangers all seemed to tower over her small stature and bumped clumsily into her, not taking any notice of her. She was part of the crowd now witnessing a fellow sister, likely if traced back it could easily be her ancestor.
She cringed, automatically covering her mouth and nose as the stench of death and decay overwhelmed and assaulted her senses. There was a low drumming noise, the crowd were growing restless and all began to chant, all demanding the same. Their anger and mounting hatred directed towards a long figure, Zelda cowered.
"And now we shall begin, the purification...our town will be free of the devil and all her wickedness."
Zelda slowly allowed her eyes to look upward and gasped.
The executioner advanced slowly towards the condemned woman, who pleaded for her life but her begging and sobs for mercy were ignored. Faced with her impending mortality, she struggled pathetically against the ropes that bound her to the stake only fraying away her fragile skin with the friction.
The unforgiving rope bound her wrists tightly together and fastened painfully above her head as were her ankles restrained, more rope tied around her thin waist. Her watering eyes looked into the crowd for sympathy only to receive vile words thrown at her. Then, her eyes fell onto Zelda, she silently pleaded for help.
The mass surrounding the base of the stake, ignited. The crackle of fire erupted, quickly consuming everything within its path, leaving no mercy and soulless reaching for her.
Zelda pushed against the crowd, they parted slightly but just as she reached the stake, the heat rendered her breathless and multiple hands grabbed her struggling body.
"NO! Let me go." She cried
She looked up at the condemned woman and saw Constance staring back at her. The fire grew and soon the smoke obscured her vision "Let me go...Constance! Constance, No!" She screamed
Zelda gasped loudly and let the book tumble from her grasp. The book landed on the floor with a loud smack, the front cover facing upwards. She shook her head and massaged her temples. It must have been a dream.
Staring back from the ground was the colourful, front cover of 'Hansel and Gretel' and far contrast from the vision or dream that she just witnessed.
Constance was now sitting upright in bed, her posture perfect. Her hair draped lazily over her shoulders, her face creased by the harsh cotton material of the pillow cover, having always slept on the soft silk in her own bed. Her eyes blazing with anger but her features betrayed her, still tired.
"Oh Constance!" panicked Zelda briefly, thinking that she had disturbed her "How are you?" she regained her composure, the bizarre daydream now fading away into forgetfulness
Constance remained still and silent but continued to glare. Her darkened eyes pierced the younger witch, taking aim at her soul. The look of fury as her eyes with strict investigation was able to unnerve her. Zelda found herself fidgeting with her hands, unsure what to say or do.
"Constance..." she attempted again but was abruptly interrupted
Her hand raised sharply and stopped any further pathetic pleas to make futile conversation regarding her state of mind and health. Her eyes burrowed deep, to intimidate and stir an uncomfortable feeling, resonating deep within her stomach.
Butterflies fluttered helplessly, trapped and longed to escape as did Zelda long to escape the manic eyes of Constance.
"How dare you!" she finally uttered, in disgust and contempt
Zelda gasped and struggled to find any words to question.
"You condescending imbecile...how dare you try to understand! To understand my pain, my suffering." She growled
Constance always had the ability to strip and render the most confident and well established witches and wizards. The words only acted like a powerful blow to Zelda, a reminder that she was an outsider, meddling in the past and attempting to understand the deeply complex potions mistress.
Zelda trembled, unsure what to expect next and chose to remain silent.
"What you have read is meaningless! I have survived...why should you care? All of a sudden, you want to help? I do not take kindly, the pity for others" she paused, briefly closing her eyes then her voice changed "No-one cares...even I hate me."
Zelda resisted the urge to reach out for her hand "I do apologise, I have clearly over stepped my boundaries but...I had to know! So I enlisted help. I investigated and..."
"I need no-one's help...your pity or sympathy. Stop sifting through the dregs of the past...you will never understand, never."
"I only want to help, can't you see? So blinded, so controlling of everything...why not let me or even Amelia help? Do you think yourself impervious? No-one is immune...everyone needs help at some point in their lives. It takes more courage that you'll ever know to be honest."
Her voice lowered, dangerously "Get out of my sight." She threatened
Zelda swallowed. Her eyes wide but something pricked her conscious mind. She relaxed back into the chair, proving a point with her body language "I cannot do that." She bravely replied
Amelia found herself standing in front of another closed door, the moral debate continued to erode.
To enter or simply leave?
'No, this has to be done.' She thought
She tugged on the cool iron metal door handle and pushed against the heavy door, slowly revealing another room, another domain that she should not be entering.
The moonlight flooded the bedroom with its eerie, nightly glow, casting a variety of twisted and contorted monstrous shadows projected against the uneven stone walls. Each darkened monster had been waiting and daring for someone to enter.
Her foot lightly kicked something. She found a candle and effortless brought a tiny flame to life, mothering the candle, shielding it against the wicked surroundings, the flame slowly grew and flourished now battling against the shadows of the night, melting away the demons and now brought warmth to the room which had previously lacked.
So clinical and emotionless.
Carefully, she picked a safe path through the littered battlefield of destruction.
So much chaos and destruction.
Amelia wondered why or what had brought this on? What had caused Constance to practically destroy her own room and the little possession that she owned? Then, a fearful memory flickered as she remembered the scene that had unfolded and been the sole witness, as the potion lab was destroyed. The sound of glass smashing still echoed within her ears.
She rolled up the sleeves of her cardigan and pushed aside the memory of the potion lab, she was about to right a wrong.
Somewhere in the night, a lone clock chimed and indicated the time.
Moonlight and a full moon dominated the sky.
Beyond the surroundings and protective wall of the academy, a hungry owl hooted loudly from a tree before taking flight into the sky, on the hunt for food while crickets chirped noisily from the nearby lake. It was the beginning of the symphony of the night, usually not witnessed by anyone as they would have succumbed to sleep, hours ago.
A late summer breeze swirled throughout the corridors. The warm air was filed with the calming scents of the forest and flowers that had been blossoming and basking in the sunshine throughout the day.
The pain, it returned.
It slammed into her like the force that brutally ended her family and happiness all too prematurely. Her body and mind suddenly tormented by the relentless burning as each microscopic nerve ending crippled and exploded, sending wave upon endless wave of debilitating and consuming agony throughout her weakened body.
Her body relapsed into the waiting talons of the all devouring pain that racked her body, pitting her neglected figure through hell, once again. Muscles spasmed out of control, rendering every movement beyond words to describe, suddenly feeling like a china doll, as fragile as glass and any sudden movement would shatter her self.
Each panicked breath for life intensified the cripple agony. Her mind overwhelmed and began to fail, unable to cope with the suffering attempted to correct and maintain balance or some order, to slow down her panicked breathing, anything to prevent further antagonizing the pain.
A strangled scream rippled through her throat, the sound itself created vibrations. Her vocal cords protested, sending a surge of new pain. Her throat burned as the contents of her stomach scorched the fragile and unprotected cells of her throat and mouth.
'Someone, please make it stop.' The only coherent thought amongst the chaos of pain
She was positive that Death, himself was ready to greet her, to take her away from the pain, to escape the suffering and reunite her with her family.
The blackness engulfed her entire vision, her mind unable to cope with the prolonged torture. Now, she was free. Finally free of everything.
She was anything but free!
Instead of soaring high into the heavens, she fell. Free falling into the deepest, darkest and most deprived parts of her subconscious mind. It would only be a matter of time before the vultures finished circling her, would strip her of everything, picked clean to the bone.
Hell would once again be relived.
With her eyes closed, she seemed peaceful. Anyone would safely assume that she was resting, calmly and loathed to disturb her. Secretly, she was already begging and pleading for anyone to wake her, to allow her to escape nightmare after nightmare.
'Time for bed, little one.'
'But daddy! I'm not sleepy!' she complained despite the fact she was busy rubbing her tired eyes
Lawrence glanced over at his wife, who simply shook her head while a small innocent smile crept over her features. Constance had her father wrapped around her little finger, occasionally Cynthia glance over at them, watching them from over the rim of her glasses which sat on the edge of her nose.
'How about a bedtime story?' he suggested?
Constance shook her head, adamant to her own way 'I don't want a story.'
Cynthia chuckled softly and mockingly waved a finger at her husband, he should have known better! Their daughter may only be seven years old but se firmly put her father in his place and was fast on her way to becoming the little madam of the house.
'But, I'm fantastic at telling bedtime stories.' He voiced with over the top enthusiasm
'No daddy! Sing the song...my song.' She protested
He scratched his chin 'Oh! I'm not sure about that...I should check with your mother...'
Cynthia continued with her knitting 'Well, she had been a good girl, today.'
'Please daddy! Please, please, please!' about to burst with excitement
'Okay, Constance. Cuddle in but after the song...it's your bedtime.'
Her chubby little hands cupped her mouth to muffle any noise of laughter before grabbing her faithful blanket, inseparable since her birth and snuggled into the crook of his arm, patiently waiting for him to begin.
He cleared his throat and smile, still marveling at sight of his daughter. Lawrence found it difficult to accept that Constance had already been part of their lives for the last seven years and yet he could not imagine a time when she had not been.
Everyday was a blessing, like a dream, he was encased in a bubble and afraid that at any given time or moment that the bubble would burst and shatter his happiness.
It had been love at first sight with Cynthia now his wife and soul mate. Their wedding had been perfect, the day they became one. After marriage, saving up the money to buy their own home and finally settled into work, it was the perfect time to begin a family, a shared dream.
But the path to happiness for Lawrence and Cynthia Hardbroom was difficult. Both felt like failure, unable to provide the other with a child. A baby born would symbolize their undying love for each other and after years of heartbreak, countless appointments with specialists, their dream was shattered. Every hope to ever conceive diminished.
Their world came crashing down.
They both grieved for the child they would never have and their family remained incomplete but their love for each other was strong, never faltered, growing stronger with each passing day but they each yearned for something, to fill the empty void.
They moved on with their lives, continuing to go about their normal and usual routine that was until Constance Abigail Hardbroom arrived into their lives. It was either by miracle or divine intervention but neither Lawrence nor Cynthia dared to question the unknown forces, both still blissful that they had been blessed with a child of their own.
'Daddy, you're not singing!' complained Constance, snapping her father from his daydream
Then he began
'You are my sunshine...my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey,' he sang softy and playfully pinched her nose
'You'll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away,' he continued as Constance yawned
'I'll always love you and make you happy, please don't take my sunshine away.'
Everything was fully restored to former place and glory, all the possessions that had been destroyed had been granted a second lease of life.
She inspected her hard work and stifled a yawn, having used a marginal amount of energy to help, in the smallest way possible. Any signs of destruction disappeared, the room now returned to a state of sadness, devoid of anything personal or signs that someone actually resided here, the black silky sheets that lay untouched and in pristine condition was the only indication that someone stayed within the room.
Something glistened in the moonlight, twinkled softy for attention. She raised an eyebrow. Her knees protested as she reached down and scooped the object into her hand. Amelia gasped and fumbled for anything to suppose her struggling legs.
She collapsed into a chair, her legs suddenly weakened and unable to hold her own weight. She looked carefully at the offending object. Another reminder that the headmistress knew virtually nothing of her deputy, her life before entering the grounds although it had not been for a lack of trying on Amelia's part but she was destined to be forever shut out.
Cradled in the palm of her hand, was at first, an anonymous piece of jewellery. A plain gold band now safely concealed in the pocket of her grey cardigan.
Time was getting on and Amelia, stilled tired decided to quickly make a cup of tea and return to her own bedroom, where she hoped that Constance would be safe. As, she paddled along a windowless corridor, her hand drifted into her pocket for the ring and shook her head, in disbelief.
'Edward and Constance.' She thought, repeating the words that was engraved in the metal of the ring
Now, her mind was in an array of random thoughts, pondering the mystery of this man, his identity and impact that he once had in Constance' life.
Her body withered, struggling against the crippling weight. Her brow frowned, jaw clenched rigidly as her fingers gripped threatening onto the cotton material of the bed.
Zelda slowly stood from the chair, finding the strength and energy having survived the acid drenched, tongue lashing from Constance before being struck down by a seemingly invisible force, recaptured and trapped in her own shell of pain after a fleeting moment of sanity. Something pulled at Zelda, as she heard the older witch moan. A part of her knew and feared that the worst was yet to happen.
She resisted the urge to reach out and touch the wounded witch, knowing that her touch could spark and inflict more pain.
Constance Abigail Hardbroom suddenly grew up. Her loving parents had been cruelly taken away from her, robbed from their warm, protective arms. Never to hear their voices or see them, only a few treasured pictures and memories, clutched onto, never wanting to forget them.
She abandoned her dreams, realizing that they only created a painful reminder that she had caused their deaths. She had always wanted to be a ballerina, obsessed with practicing her graceful movements while balancing school work. Her parents only to happy to drive her to and from auditions, practice and ballet shows, that is what killed them.
Her dream was to be enchanted while sitting in the best seats of the theater and watch the performance and story unfold before her very eyes. That wish came true on her birthday or rather an early present from her parents on the grounds that her report card was perfect, it always was but it was an extra push.
Her birthday present was three tickets for herself and her parents to watch the mystical and tragic love story of a princess trapped in the from of a elegant white swan but the prince is cruelly lured under a spell of deception and falls in love with the evil twin.
Throughout the entire performance, she was hypnotized, unable to removed her eyes from the stage for fear of missing the tiniest of details despite knowing and loving the ballet. Her parents sat contently as their teenage daughter remained a statue until the very end.
Now, all because of her selfishness, fate had decided to test the family's strength but only one passed the test, she survived the carnage of the car crash and now all alone.
She numbly stood beside her aunt and uncle as both wooden coffins were committed to the ground, resting peacefully side by side, as husband and wife and soul mates. A part of her wanted to follow her parents, to have died so that she did not have to continue alone, with the guilt and anguish. Constance could not face anything associated with ballet, she had to put distance between her now trivial childhood dream and severe all ties with the past. Hard but it was the only way, she did not want to talk about how she witnessed her lifeless parents in the accident and emergency department. How pale they now looked and how she was partly responsible for their departure from this realm into another.
Oscar and Evangeline Hardbroom had made pitiful attempts to help the sulky teenager but after time, they hoped that she would eventually open up to them. They were a childless couple, having opted for careers and a lifestyle rather than burden themselves with a fussy child and yet fate had thrust Constance into the care, an alien concept for all of them.
They worked hard, trying to be successful in their fields of research and architecture, to ensure their names would be etched and engrained in their separate fields that their legacy would live on, so all the time, dedication and sacrifices would not be in vain.
They were delighted when Constance presented them with a brochure for further education, something they held dear to their hearts and what was more, it was an all girl boarding school which had a reputation for producing the best and brilliant academic witches in the entire country. What also played in their favour was that the college was located on the other side of the country. Granted they loved their niece but they had never been interested in children of their own nor had a maternal bone within their body but education was high on the agenda and they did want the best for their niece.
Amelia made the slow ascent, grasping tightly onto the banister. She paused and inhaled deeply, fighting away like light headed feeling as blood pulsated loudly within her ears.
She rounded the corner, finding the younger witch braced against the door. A hand clasped over her face, her chest heaved as she panted.
"Zelda...whatever is the matter?" she asked softly, considering the numerous times they clashed in opinions "Is everything alright with Constance?"
"Constance...is as well as can be expected. However...I'm a different story." Whispered Zelda on the verge of tears
"Heavens...you're shivering!" stated Amelia, genuinely concerned but felt a pang of guilt
"Maybe it's just the events over the last couple of days...perhaps a few hours of rest..." her voice trailed as if seeking permission from the headmistress
"Oh! But of course...I shall...be here, should you want to talk." She offered
Zelda smiled weakly and headed back to her room while Amelia watched as she disappeared around the corner. Slowly, she collected herself and entered her bedroom. Her eyes immediately found Constance and involuntarily watered
Awkwardly, she shuffled around the bed and resumed her position, back in the chair by the bedside.
"There, there." Soothed Amelia, brushing the hair away from her porcelain like face