My Only Love Sprung from My Only Hate
Chapter Seven: Ghosts
One by one, they fell from the sky. Fragments of ivory drifted gracefully in the frigid wind as they descended to earth.
He held out his hand and caught one, its cold essence kissing his hand. He watched as the snowflake melted slowly and was nothing more than a drop of water. More and more snowflakes fell upon him, clinging to his white hair and the black fabric of his long scarf.
Although it was cold, he was numb to it. He just watched the lazy movements of the ocean waves as they repetitively washed over the smooth pebbles that made up the shore.
Winter brought much more than freezing temperatures and snowfall. It brought back much, much more than that. Memories would resurface, ones that he would rather not think about but couldn't help to. No matter how much he wanted to, he could never forget about the past.
A soft voice that he was so familiar with brought him back to his senses. Standing a few feet away from him was Raven. Even though it was indisputably frigid, she didn't have her hood on, which was fine by him. He never told her, but he always liked seeing her face.
"Good morning, Raven," he greeted her.
"...you okay?" she asked, the concern for him evident. The fact that she was worried about him made him want to smile, but that feeling was outweighed by his guilt of bothering her with his detached behavior.
"Yes, I'm fine."
Her round, dark eyes studied him incredulously, as if she saw through his lie.
"Really, I'm all right. I just feel a bit tired."
He hated lying to her, but he hated making her worry about him even more.
"You should get some rest, then."
He shook his head. "No, I'm fine. Besides, we need to practice your spell casting."
"We can do that some other time," she said defiantly. "If you're tired, you need to go to bed."
"Please do not worry about me, Raven. I fear that I could not rest even if I wanted to. I would much rather help you perfect your spells."
To eliminate any doubts she might have, Rorek walked away from the beach and headed towards the castle, expecting the empath to follow him, which she did after a moment's hesitation.
Although she did not bring up the matter again, he felt terrible about lying to her.
Raven was sure that it was very well the middle of December. The plummeting temperatures and the frequent snowfall were proof of that. Although she wasn't exactly sure, she suspected that the holidays were approaching. Perhaps another couple of weeks or so, she estimated.
She could just picture Beast Boy raving on and on about presents and decorating the tower for the occasion. Cyborg would already be thinking about a great dinner; she knew that tofu could hardly suffice as a meal for the gargantuan Titan. Starfire, after remembering the Earth customs of Christmas, would be shopping for presents for everyone and possibly making one of her Tamaran dishes for them to share, which Raven was certain that Beast Boy and Cyborg would be sure to avoid like the plague.
The holidays even had an effect on their strict leader. Robin would be more lenient, and he wouldn't be bossing around the others to train as much.
Her eyes left the aged print of the thick spell book she had in her hands, and they fell upon the window. Frost clouded the surface, but she could still see the snow. There was probably a blizzard outside; she could tell by the way the wind was howling relentlessly and how steady the snow was falling.
In spite of herself, she sighed. Raven would be lying if she said that she didn't miss them. Even if life was hectic and she could hardly get a moment's peace at the tower, she still missed her friends. There were times that Beast Boy and Cyborg's pranks and mindless games would grate her nerves, and Starfire's attempts of getting her to socialize like a normal teenage girl were irritating, but that was just the way they were. She couldn't hate them for being themselves, and she was so used to the daily chaos that would ensue at the tower. There were even some occasions when she found her friends' antics to be quite amusing.
She knew that she would be in for a nightmare when she got back. They would all start flipping out in their own individual ways, and they would force her into an interrogation afterwards.
The reason she didn't so much as call them was because she was afraid. After what happened the night that Rorek freed himself from the book, she was wary of her powers. It was quite possible that she could have given in to the feelings of raw hatred. She could have unleashed hell upon the city, and her friends would be victims because she wouldn't be able to control the darkness that she tried so hard to suppress. In addition to that, she had a feeling that one phone call would not be enough to explain everything to them; they would be fussing and asking her countless questions before she could start to give them the answers they wanted.
Raven decided that now wasn't the time to go back; she couldn't take that risk. However, she would have a lot to tell them when she returned. She still didn't know how she was going to even begin to explain about Rorek...
The book rested in her lap as her thoughts wandered to him. He had been acting differently the past week. He didn't talk as much and he always had a distant look in his eyes while she was practicing her spells. Even at meal times, he was unusually quiet. When he wasn't mentoring her or eating, he spent a great deal of time at the beach. Even if it was snowing and the air was much colder, she would see him looking out to the ocean as if he was yearning for something that he had lost long ago.
She didn't have to see his face to know something was bothering him; the sorrow in his eyes told her everything.
She heard footsteps outside of her room. She assumed that it was Rorek coming back from one of his walks.
However, she listened closely. The footsteps didn't sound like Rorek's at all. The wizard's armor weighed him down, causing his footsteps to be heavy. These sounded small and light, almost like a child's...
Raven put aside the spell book and stood up from her bed. She opened the door of her room just enough for her to head to peek out into the hallway.
"Hello?" she called out. "Is that you, Rorek?"
The footsteps were the only thing that she heard. She received no verbal answer, but she could still hear those footsteps.
And the most puzzling thing about it all was that she didn't see anyone walking.
Too curious to go back into her room, she decided to follow the footsteps in hopes that she would find the source. Relying on her hearing since vision was useless, Raven ran from hallway to hallway, the footsteps echoing in her ears. One path led to another, one corridor revealed one more. Even if she wanted to go back, she wouldn't know how: she was too lost in this maze to find her way.
The shadows taunted her from the walls as she passed more and more closed doors. The footsteps were close, yet she couldn't walk fast enough to catch up. It was very frustrating, but Raven continued to follow after them. These hallways couldn't go on forever; those footsteps had to stop eventually.
As soon as she thought about it, silence reverberated in the hallways. Other than the shrieks of the winter wind outside, she heard nothing else. Raven went around another corner, and she found that the corridor finally stopped, and there was a door at the end.
This was where she heard the footsteps last, she knew it. But there was no one here.
"How can that be?" she asked out loud. She knew what she heard, someone was walking these hallways and it wasn't Rorek.
All of a sudden, she heard humming. It sounded like a woman's voice and it was faint, but it was there. It was coming from the other side of that door, and Raven could sense an unfamiliar presence from the room.
Before she could even approach the door, she felt a hand settling firmly on her shoulder. She let out a scream of fright and she whirled around to meet the questioning azure eyes of a certain white-haired wizard.
"Raven?" he addressed her.
Her heart stopped pounding in her chest and she regained her composure. "You scared me."
One look at Rorek told her that he went outside, yet again. Bits of snow still clung to his black scarf and bodysuit, and she could see a few entangled in his platinum hair. His eyes looked very weary, and traces of the cold winter air emanated from him and sent chills down her back.
"Forgive me, I did not mean to," he replied apologetically.
"It's okay," she said.
"If you don't mind me asking, what are you doing here at this part of the castle?"
"I thought I heard something," she quickly answered, trying to keep her voice as steady and monotone as possible. "And while I was trying to find it, I got lost."
"You should not be wandering around so late at night," he chided lightly. "Had I been asleep, I wouldn't have been able to help you back to your room."
"But you weren't asleep, were you?"
"That is not the case, Raven. You should not be walking aimlessly in the hallways."
"I wasn't 'walking aimlessly'," she retorted with a slight edge to her voice. "I told you, I thought I heard something—"
"Then you should have gotten me," he snapped, an uncharacteristic hint of solemnity in his tone.
"I'm not a child."
"For someone who makes such a claim, you are certainly acting like a child."
"How could you say that?" she questioned, her eyes glaring at him. "You're the one who started this argument, not me."
"I AM NOT ARGUING WITH YOU!" Rorek shouted.
Raven's irritation gave way to bewilderment. Rorek was usually so good-tempered. Now, his eyes were glaring icily at her, and his hands were clenched into fists at his sides, as if he were going to strike something.
She had never seen him this way. And she didn't like to, either.
"I am merely stating a fact!" he continued. "You shouldn't be wandering around the castle! You could have gotten lost, and I would not have been able to find you until the next morning!"
"Stop yelling at me!" she retaliated. "Why are you acting this way?"
"Because of your carelessness!" he shouted back. "You might have injured yourself and I would not have known!"
"I told you," she seethed through gritted teeth. "I am not a child! I don't need supervision!"
"If you did get lost, I wouldn't be able to find you! Don't you understand, Raven?! I don't want anything to happen to you! I don't want to lose you...!"
Rorek trailed off, the fury in his eyes slowly fading. Raven, despite her anger, was blushing at his words. The wizard's head hung low, his bangs obscuring his face from her. She saw that his hands were resting limply against his sides now.
He looked up at her; the sorrow that she had noticed earlier clouded the crystal blue pools of his eyes. He looked saddened and desperate, like he was carrying great wounds that would never heal.
"I...I am sorry," he mumbled, all anger drained from his voice. "I...I just..."
Rorek didn't bother to continue his sentence, but he turned around and walked down the hallway. She followed him slowly, and neither of them said a word.
The way he looked at her...the emotion in his voice...what caused him to go from yelling at her to apologizing? Was she the cause of it all?
She stared at his back as they continued to walk. He wouldn't even face her now. She had a feeling that if she asked him all these questions, she wouldn't be getting any answers.
He stopped at the door to her room several moments after. Raven said nothing as she opened the door, and she was just about to close it until he spoke again.
His voice was so soft, almost inaudible. The way he spoke her name was desperate...almost pleading. It pulled at her heartstrings, and gave her reason to listen to what he had to say.
He struggled with the words, and then he just gave up. He hurriedly walked away from her, and she was dumbfounded by his abrupt manner.
After she closed the door, Raven threw herself onto her bed. If that was how he wanted to be, then she'll let him. If he wanted to be complicated, if he wanted to not tell her anything, then why should she care?
Her eyes began to well up with tears, but she refused to shed them. He will not get to her. She won't cry ever again, that was something she promised herself.
Still, the emotional night left her in a state of misery. She hugged her pillow tightly against her until she fell asleep.
A few days have passed, and she wasn't speaking to him. He hadn't seen her either, not even at meal times. When he went to the kitchen, there was a plate of food for him on the table, but it wasn't the same.
She was probably angry at him, and he couldn't blame her. He had the indecency to lose his temper and yell at her. He knew she was offended by his words, possibly even hurt. And when he tried to explain himself, when he tried to tell her everything he had been holding back from her...his efforts ended in failure.
And he was too much of a coward to attempt to talk to her again.
Whenever he thought about her, there was a sharp pain in his chest. It was quick and swift, like it was inflicted upon him by an invisible hand. Her soft voice and those deep amethyst eyes of hers lingered in his mind, and made him realize her absence all the more.
It hurt to think about her, but he couldn't help it. The worst thing about it was that the pain would simply not go away.
He coughed heavily, his breath forming a small cloud of heat in the cold air. He cleared his throat and rubbed his hands together. Even if it was turning out to be a harsh winter, he found himself at this beach every day and every night.
Until he was able to forget the pain, until he was able to let go of the past...he couldn't find peace within the castle walls. The only place that he was at ease was at this beach, or so he liked to believe.
He wanted to tell Raven, but he decided against it. He didn't want to put that burden on her shoulders. He didn't want to share his sorrow with her.
Or else she would never smile again, and he would never be able to forgive himself.
As he watched the undulations of the seemingly endless ocean, he still felt that pain. It hurt that he hadn't seen her since their argument.
But it hurt even more knowing that she wasn't right there with him.
She shouldn't be here. Rorek would be furious if he knew that she was here. But if the jerk wouldn't even talk to her, then why should she care? She was angry at him. And if he didn't want to communicate, then two can play at that game.
Raven stood before the door at the dead end of the hallway where she had argued with the young wizard. Since he was being so repressive, she decided to answer her questions on her own.
She wanted to know why he was so temperamental that night. And the way he looked at her, the grief that swirled in his eyes had bothered her so much to the point that she couldn't even meditate.
Although she didn't admit it and even if she was technically angry at him, Raven was worried about Rorek. If he wouldn't talk about it, then she would have to take matters in her own hands.
She didn't sense anything on the other side of the room that sparked interest, and the humming that she heard a few days ago was seemingly nonexistent. Taking a deep breath, Raven grabbed the iron handle of the door and pushed it open.
She stepped into a dark, spacious room. The smell of dust hung in the air, and she could tell that this chamber hadn't been occupied for quite some time. Velvet curtains covered the length of the grand window, and there was an ancient fireplace on one side of the room. A queen-sized bed was settled against a wall, its sheets a creamy white and lined with aged lace. A dresser stood against another wall, and a large mirror hung above it.
Raven saw something on the edge of the dresser, and she went over to inspect it. She found an old, rectangular box, and with her curiosity motivating her, she opened the lid.
A gentle tune began to play softly, its beautiful melody both haunting and mesmerizing her. It sounded so serene, but for some reason, she felt sad listening to it. Each note tore at her, and weighed her heart down with an inexplicable sorrow.
She wasn't familiar with this kind of sadness. She felt like she lost something very dear to her, something that she couldn't get back if she tried. But what was it? Why was she feeling this way when she had no reason to?
Raven's eyes left the music box and to the mirror above the dresser. Her heart nearly stopped and she was deaf to the melody that continued to play.
What she saw was not her face. It was someone else's.
Curls of silver blonde hair hung above a pair of sea green eyes, and the rest was tied into a long plait down the back. The reflection possessed porcelain white skin and pink lips. Those eyes looked at her from an oval-shaped face, and she could have sworn that the ends of the lips were lifted in a small smile.
Raven blinked, and when she did she saw herself staring back at her from the mirror. The tune from the music box was now accompanied with the soft humming of a young woman, and she spun around to find the person that was in this room. She could sense something now, she just couldn't see it!
The humming faded away, but she could hear footsteps. The same ones that she heard before. Shutting the music box, she rushed out of the room and followed the footsteps as quickly as she could like she did once before.
She took a few moments to realize that the hallways were becoming familiar. Her chase was bringing her to the entrance of the castle. Her run altered to more of a glide, her feet hovering past the ground as she struggled to keep up.
When she hugged one last corner, she saw a flash of white passing through the castle doors. She opened them and continued her chase. She saw a figure in white running down the path and heading toward the beach, and she followed suit.
She glided down the winding path, and ended up on the pebble-strewn beach. There, the first person she saw was Rorek. His back was to her, and as always, his eyes were fixated on the ocean.
The second person she saw, however, gave her reason to be shocked.
A small boy of around eight or nine years old stood on the shore. His head was crowned with unruly silver white hair that fell to his shoulders, and like Rorek, his back was to her.
"Raven?" the wizard addressed her, but he might as well be talking to a rock. In her bewilderment, she didn't hear him.
The empath ignored him and approached the boy that stood at the water's edge. She knelt down to get a better look at him, her heart pounding wildly in her chest.
His eyes were crystal blue, just like Rorek's. Sorrow was etched in the features of his round face, and she could see the tears that stained his pale cheeks. He was shivering uncontrollably, and he was doing his best to keep his sobs from escaping his throat.
"They're gone...they're not coming back..." she heard him mumble. "I am alone now. I will always be alone..."
She was about to place her hand on his shoulder, but something pulled her up to her feet.
"Raven, what is wrong?!"
Rorek's voice brought her to her senses, and she found that his hands were clasped firmly around her arms.
"Rorek, don't you see him?"
Utter bewilderment crossed his eyes. "See who?"
"Him!" she said exasperatedly. "That boy, he's right there!" she pointed in the direction of the child, who seemed oblivious to them for he continued to stare at the ocean.
"Raven, there is no one there," Rorek replied.
"What are you talking about? He's right next to me, can't you see—"
Another look at the boy made her realize something: he looked exactly like Rorek would if he was a child. But...that couldn't be, could it? Rorek is alive, she knew it, he was right there in front of her.
How could she be seeing his ghost if Rorek was alive? He couldn't be dead...she refused to believe that he was dead...
She brought her hands up to his face and slowly pulled down his scarf, revealing the rest of his face. His features were slightly feminine, but she found him to be handsome nonetheless. His eyes went wide at her uncharacteristic gesture, and he was motionless as her palms cupped the sides of his face.
"Rorek...you're real, aren't you?" she asked him, her voice soft with emotion. "You're with me right now at this very moment. You're not going to disappear, right?"
She waited anxiously for his answer. Whether he was a ghost or not, she didn't care. All she knew was that she didn't want to lose Rorek.
Raven felt his hand caressing her cheek, and she looked up to see his azure eyes gazing into hers.
"I'm not going to disappear," he told her in a tone that filled her with a joy that she hadn't felt before. "You will never be alone, Raven. I promise."
His lips formed a gentle smile, and she returned it with one of her own. However, her relief was short-lived when his body suddenly shook with violent coughs, and he collapsed onto the ground without warning.
As she tried to support him, images flashed through her mind. A young girl with silver-blonde hair was smiling as she sat by her window with a music box on her lap...and older woman with golden hair was crying in the comfort of a dark room...the blood red sun setting behind the trees of a shadow-infested forest...heaps of ashes piled on the pure white mounds of snow...
Her concern for the wizard outweighing the strange sensation, she pushed the images aside for now. There was something wrong with Rorek, and that was reason enough for her to think of nothing else.
Her voice stirred him from unconsciousness, and he opened his eyes to meet her dark ones. She looked extremely concerned for him, and he felt the all too familiar pang of guilt for making her feel that way.
"How are you feeling?"
"I am all right," he answered, managing a small smile.
"You're burning up," she said, placing a moist towel on his forehead. "I guess that's what happens when you spend so much time out in the cold."
"I apologize for troubling you—"
"Don't," she cut him off. "You're always apologizing for something, Rorek."
"I feel that I must," he stated assertively. "I have been terrible to you as of late."
Raven looked away from him. "It's not like I made it any better..."
"Still, I should not have yelled at you that night. Forgive me, but I just didn't want you to get hurt."
She raised an eyebrow at him. "Why would I get hurt?"
"I'm not sure," he confessed, "I don't want anything to ever happen to you, Raven..."
An awkward silence settled between them. He had so much to tell her, but he didn't want to. He was afraid of how she would take it. He was afraid of how she would react. There was no need to impart her with his past, so he felt that he shouldn't bother her.
"Rorek...if you have something to say, then say it."
He stared at her, and he knew that she could sense his doubt.
"You've been acting differently the past week. I want to know what's bothering you. No lies, no denial. Something is wrong, and I want to know what it is. So tell me."
He could always trust her to be so straightforward. He saw the solemnity in her eyes, and he knew that it would be useless to reassure her that nothing was wrong.
Rorek would have to tell her. If that was what she truly wanted, then he had to do it. He didn't want her to worry about him more than she was now.
"Very well, then. The reason for my behavior is simply this, Raven: my mother and sister died on this day."
Yes, yes I know...bad time for a cliffhanger, but I'm not as nearly as bad as Rhea Hiryuu (just kidding btw, love her story, be sure to check it out if you're a Mal/Rae/Ror fan!). I didn't want to cram everything into one chapter like last time, so that's why I ended it where it is. Please don't hate me, I promise that I will get the next chapter up as soon as I can.
Well, I guess I have a few reviews to answer.
Treefroggy: I think I answered your question in the beginning of the fic. Another reason is that I just didn't feel right having Raven call the team up to tell her that's she's safe. It would be kind of awkward to me. Thanks by the way for your reviews! I'm glad that you like it.
Kagomeandinuyasha4ever: Hehe, I enjoyed writing the part where Emma gave Rorek a hard time, and don't worry: there shall be fluff!
SinFire99: Yes, I know that the last chapter was very long. That's why I'm dividing this one! Sorry if Emma got on your nerves, but I couldn't resist writing about her.
Darthmatt005: Very sorry to hear about your accident, and I hope that you get better. I'm glad that this story is one of your favorites, and I'll be sure to continue to write it.
Seeing how it's almost 2AM, I shall shut up now. Thanks so much for all your awesome reviews, and I promise that I'll have the next one up ASAP. Expect it to center around a certain white-haired wizard yet again.