Disclaimer: Thank you to Joss Wheden for all his wonderful characters, they remain his in entirety. The OC, however, is all mine.
This story has mature content. It has also been censored (chapter 2 onwards) for publication on this site. For any who are interested in the uncensored version I have begun to publish it on Archive of Our Own.
The party, the close proximity of these obnoxious, pretentious people, with their pompous attitudes and ignorant, opinionated points of view, has suddenly become claustrophobic. And, he has gone.
Closing the front door to the residence I step towards the street and into the cool London night air, shrugging my coat a little closer around my shoulders to ward off the cold. The muted sounds of the party recede as I make my way down the front steps to the footpath in front of the town house. A light fog meanders lazily through the streets of London. Faint voices and laughter travel with muffled footsteps, carried by the fog from nearby streets. Its tendrils curl languidly around the street lamp at the end of the street creating an eerie glowing halo of light.
Moving towards the hazy pool of light at the base of the lamppost I listen in vain for any indication of which way he could have gone. The hurtful, callous remarks of his so-called friends still ring in my ears. "…You know they call him William the Bloody, because of his bloody awful poetry."
The woman he confessed his love to, the cruelest of them all. "…I could never love you. You are beneath me."
I could see his heart breaking as mine broke for him. But, he only had eyes for Cecily. He had walked right by where I stood at the party without a second glance. I shook my head gently. How does he not know me? Recognise me?
Closing my eyes I hold my breath, listening to the night. As the breeze shifts momentarily I hear hurried footfalls moving away from the street; away from me. A chill runs through me making me pull my coat closer around my shoulders as the cold night air tries to creep under its warm folds. Turning towards the sounds I hurry after them, trying not to draw too much attention to myself. To hurry any more would cause a scene and a well-meaning passer-by offering assistance to a seemingly distressed woman on her own would only hinder my progress. I can ignore the sneering glares of those taking offense at my unseemly haste. Actually, I take pleasure in their offense. A sarcastic smile creeps onto my face at the thought, raising one corner of my lips. My smile is quickly erased as I round the corner of the street to see a trail of torn paper littering the cobblestones; a trail that will lead me straight to William.
I catch a glimpse of a young man, hunched forward in his haste, rounding the next corner. He bumps into the dark-haired, broodingly handsome young man walking with an ebony-haired woman and a slender, pretty blonde woman travelling in the opposite direction. William says something to the man as he hurries on. I can't hear what he says but I hear the anguished sob that accompanies it. My heart breaks anew at the sound.
I stop briefly to pick up one of the scraps of paper. It's the poetry William had written for Cecily; the bitch that rejected him. She doesn't deserve him. How could she see his loyalty, his goodness and his love so ready to be given, through her high society, aristocratic ideals? William is nothing to her. He doesn't fit her perceived values. I know his goodness, his ability to love. I've experienced it. Even if he doesn't remember now, he will. He has to…. He will, as soon as I talk to him.
William disappears around the corner and a cold dread suddenly weighs heavy in the pit of my stomach. The dark-haired woman pauses momentarily, and while her two companion continue on, moving up the street towards me, she turns to follow William. As my heart races I compel my legs to work, hurrying after William and the woman. The couple stroll on, speaking quietly to one another, paying me no heed as I hurry past them.
By the time I reach the corner the street before me is empty. Where have they gone? Panic starts to take hold turning my limbs to lead. Why was that woman following William?…And, where are they!?
After a few more steps I remember the alley that leads to the stables towards the end of the street.
"William", I whisper, as I run towards the entrance to the alleyway. The alley is empty. Do I continue to the stables? Or has William rushed on to who-knows-where? If I stay too long in the wrong place I may lose him. I take a couple of steps further into the alley moving towards the stables. A woman's sing-song voice with a cockney accent floats from within.
Creeping as stealthily as my petty-coated skirt will allow I move closer to hear what she's saying. " …Something….effulgent. Do you want it?"
What the hell? How could she have known he'd used that word in his poetry? I hadn't seen her stop to pick any of the strewn pieces of paper up. Disturbing thoughts surfaced. Was she telepathic? Or clairvoyant? His sudden cries of pain break my reverie. What is she doing to him? I rush towards the door, not sure what I can do… if… I can do anything. I only know I have to try. He's my William! He hasn't even had a chance to know me, know us, and what we have.
As I rush forward I feel like I'm suddenly weightless, flying. My feet no longer touch the ground. Before I can comprehend what is happening I'm pulled back against a solid cold mass while a large cold hand presses against my mouth, stifling the scream building in my throat. A male voice murmurs in my ear, "My, you are a feisty one." A low chuckle emanates from my captor's throat at my desperate but futile struggles. He doesn't flinch as my flailing legs and boots make contact with his shins. His grip tightens over my mouth and nose and I struggle to breath.
"Best not to disturb the two love-birds." The Irish lilt is clear in the man's quiet voice.
"It's a delicate process, being one's maker. It can so easily go wrong. We don't want any mistakes now, do we?"
Do we? What does he mean…one's maker? Isn't she killing William?
My vision is blurring, stars burst in front of my eyes as the world around me turns red and then quickly fades to black. I struggle futilely to draw air into my lungs which burn like they contain live coals. The panic is overwhelming. I'm going to die! My own finger nails dig into the skin on my cheeks as I try desperately to prize this cold man's fingers away from my face. As my strength fades the man's voice brings me back briefly from the black abyss, " Rest now, my precious. Tomorrow is not for the faint-hearted." Even in my semi-conscious state a chill quakes my entire body. The voice is malicious, evil.
Before I can fathom what his words mean the abyss reclaims me.