The Long Goodbye

By Isis Malfoy

Rating: G

Pairing: ::smirk:: it should be obvious to anyone who knows me

Warning: I've been assured that even if you're not familiar with the characters involved in their unmentioned incarnations, it needs a tissue. So those of you who have an attachment to dear old wizard and his right hand, you might want a box.

A/N: I wrote this piece first for a project for a writing workshop I was doing. Since this scenario was already in my head for the obvious characters I simply made it vague so the instructor wouldn't beat me for a not so original concept. But I loved the piece so I thought I'd share it. Enjoy

            He was lying in their large four poster bed as she watched him. An old man, wasting away, practically lost among the dark green velvet covers. She could hear his gasping, wheezing breath from her place at the doorway and her heart sank.

            The woman remembered how, just a week ago (it seemed like so much longer now) he'd been sitting at his desk, full of life, exuding power. His hair had been silver then, not the dull grey it was now. She had loved to run her fingers through the soft strands and tease him about how quickly and completely the youthful auburn color had abandoned him, while her hair had clung stubbornly to its raven black.

            She hated the way his hair looked now, not auburn waves, not silver silk, but coarse knotted grey. There tears pricking at the back of her eyes as she recalled the twin silver streaks she'd found by her temples this morning. Sitting at her vanity, she had immediately begun to look forward to her husband's teasing with delight. She was barely able to contain her anticipation of the sparkle that seemed to take residence in his eyes. It was almost an instinctive reaction and it faded seconds later, he was too ill to tease her. He didn't have the energy to summon any kind of sparkle to his eyes.

            Those eyes…that was another thing she hated about what he was going through. She'd fallen in love with his eyes first. Clear, crystal blue; they had showed every emotion, every thought in their endless depths. Now, they swirled in endless opaque confusion. Sometimes those eyes, eyes that had watched her since they'd met sixty-nine years ago, would look at her without recognition and she could barely keep the tears from falling before she left.

            When the woman wasn't in the room however, the tears came out in unstoppable, gut-wrenching sobs. Her whole body would shake until she was sure there could be no more tears, no sadness, nothing at all really, left inside her. But there always was. There was always more. Their love had been endless for a lifetime together, and so now, deep in her heart she knew, her grief would be just as unfathomable. 

            The wheezing got worse and she shook herself back to the present, back to their bedroom, back to his frail body and opaque eyes. He was watching her, and she realized with a start that she was crying. She wiped the salty droplets away briskly, reminding herself that she had to be strong. She kept the tears at bay when he held out a shaking hand. She did not cry as she crossed to his side, or as she took his hand, or as she settled on the bed next to him.

            But when he used his last bit of strength to pull her into his embrace; when he whispered "I love you, my dear" with his last ragged breath, she couldn't contain the flood anymore. She buried her head in his shoulder, staining the cotton white robe. She sobbed at the unfairness, at the loneliness overwhelming her, at the bitter sweet memories of happier times.

            She ran her fingers through his hair, trying to ease his pain, trying to comfort herself. Her fingers tangled in one of the knots.