Inspired by Katie's "The End". (Valmontmerteuil, for everybody who goes to read it now. Which you should.) Yes, this is a sympathy for Annette story. RARE for me, so don't get used to it. NO, this is not an Annette/Sebastian story. I would rather gauge my eyeballs out using a disposable spork.

Le Déchirement Final

The first time she got her heart broken, it felt like the little boy had stomped on her heart, breaking it into a thousand tiny pieces that would never be put back together. She was five years old, and he was the cutest boy in kindergarten. That should've been a tip-off to her family that she shouldn't be left to her own devices around pretty boys. However, he preferred bugs and baseballs to Annette, and he fled in a hurry, off towards the lush greens of the playgrounds, leaving the tiny blonde in tears. Her solace had been with her mother, a kind and golden woman who reassured her that boys were icky, and always would be. But it didn't matter, because she would always be loved.

When Trevor stopped "understanding", it hurt her. Deeply. Just ask the scars in strange places, or the leftover tears. Annette had really thought that she and Trevor would be together forever. He was handsome and intelligent and caring, and as if he could get any more perfect, he was totally supportive of her decision to remain chaste until marriage. He had nothing for baseball or bugs, but he loved art, classical music and poetry. And she loved him. But one night, he came to her after a frat party, and he was a little drunk, a little high, a little horny and a little impatient. Their beautiful relationship was over with as much as a "Frigid bitch!" Again, her mother had been there to comfort her, repeating words that would be cliché from anyone else, but from a mother, it meant so much more—it doesn't matter, because she would always be loved.

It was a slow and painful process, her mother's cancer. It ate away at her day after day, but she kept fighting. She lost her hair, most of her weight, her coloring, and her energy, but she never lost faith. The entire Hargrove family was a religious one. Mr. Hargrove was a headmaster at a catholic academy, Mrs. Hargrove ran just about every Church function there was to run, and Annette stood tall on her pedestal, a paradigm of chastity and virtue. No one in the family had lost faith. Maybe that's why it was so painful when it was stripped from them.

It had started out as an ordinary day that came to a screeching halt with a phone call in the middle of class.

"I'm sorry professor! I didn't realize the phone was on, you can confiscate it if you want, I'm so sorry—"she had babbled, turning bright red and handing the cellular phone over to her teacher without even a glance at the screen. Raising a thin eyebrow, her teacher had checked the caller I.D.

"You'd better take this, Annette. It's your father," she had said sympathetically. Everyone in the community seemed to know that it went without saying that Mrs. Hargrove was going to lose her battle. It had been too long, and too hard, and too far uphill. And now all the teacher could feel was pain in her heart at powerlessly watching the events unfold.

She sat alone in the bland hallway, putrid colored linoleum lining the long corridor, thighs stuck to the vinyl seat, her tears stubbornly refusing to fall. Annette sat alone, staring at the opposite wall, wondering that if she sat there long enough, the world would pass her by. She could sit in that corridor, invisibly, for all of eternity, and she would never have to feel again.

Her father never knew her as well as he thought he did. Her mother could always recognize the problem in an instant, but her father was either too trusting, too oblivious, or too naïve to see what his daughter really needed. He sat inside the room, holding her hand as the warm drained from it, waiting patiently for the bomb to drop, silent tears streaming down his own cheeks.

Annette wasn't alone for long. From nowhere it seemed, a kindly matron was seated next to her, but mercifully said nothing. They sat in silence, and Annette tried again to let time leave her behind. It wouldn't even be so bad if this sympathetic woman got left behind with her. It was better when you felt nothing.

"What are you doing here, honey?" she turned to her and asked.

"My mother is slipping away," Annette croaked into the silence of the hallway. It was a numb kind of emptiness that filled her as she said these words, unable to even muster the slightest moisture to her pretty blue eyes. She could have been talking about the weather or the habits of grasshoppers, so dry and casual was her tone. But she wasn't. It wasn't insects or partly cloudy—it was her mother. It was her end.

"What are you doing out here then?" the nurse continued softly, but there was a hint of incredulousness hidden between her warm tones.

"Because I… I can't watch," she choked, feeling a lump rising in her throat.

"Honey, love is watching someone die."

Looking back, Annette Hargrove would never remember what she said next, or where the matron had gone. Her next recollection was of her mother's cold hand in her own, and the whispered words of "You will always be loved," followed by the drooping of her eyelids and the relaxing of her expression.

She cried that night. Her heart was shattered. But once again, she wasn't alone. All through the night, her father had stayed up, and they had laughed and cried and spoke together. And before he went to bed, he had kissed her on the forehead and said, "I do love you sweetie."

Sebastian Valmont was different. Or at least, that's what she told herself. He was more intelligent and far more cultured than Trevor, and better looking than any man she had ever seen. This is a boy who will love me unconditionally, because that's how I feel about him, she had told herself. Longing for him caused her to disregard everything she knew as fact. Sebastian didn't have an interest in baseball or bugs, and while he was learned in the fields of literature and art, his true expertise lied closer to sex and drugs. And Annette thought, in a moment of common sense blinded by lust, that maybe this was what she needed this time. She needed a boy to change, who had broken so many hearts that he would be tired of it by the time he got to her. She was right, half-way. He didn't want to break her heart… but his own heart wasn't his to give.

"This isn't working for me," he had said, gently detaching her from his lips. These lips were what she watched during his speech, wondering where they had been before, and if she even wanted to know, and if they would taste as wonderful each time, and if she would be the last girl to ever kiss them. His girlfriend, his wife, his soul mate. But his soul had already recognized its counterpoint in another, and the girl was nothing like Annette.

"Yeah, me neither," she had grinned, moving forward to recapture his lips with hers. Sternly glancing at her, then carefully avoiding her eyes for the rest of the time, he delivered the most heart-wrenching soliloquy that she had ever received. Her heart plummeted, yet she could feel it pounding in her throat. She wanted to scream, she wanted to cry, she wanted to die, she wanted to stand still and let the world leave again. She wanted to not hear his next words.

"The truth is, there's someone else I love. And she's amazing. You could never compare to her," Sebastian had said. Her first instinct was to scream at him that that was a lie, but from the look in his deep eyes, she knew that it wasn't. He was in love, but it wasn't with her, and the pain she felt was worse than Trevor and the boy from kindergarten combined. She had given him her most precious gift, yet she was just another fuck. There was someone else.

He was gone now. The most gorgeous, most intelligent, most ruthless boy she had ever known, and he had slipped through her fingers, just like everything else she had ever cherished. He was gone to the one he truly loved, and she was probably just as gorgeous, just as intelligent, and just as ruthless, and she sat alone, poised on the bed with tears that refused to fall and joints that refused to move. Frozen in the room, but not in time, because the digital clock would never let her forget that the moments kept going, and her pain kept increasing, and any moment now, she would break.

The last time she got her heart broken, she had lost New York's best catch. He had left her for someone better, someone that he truly loved, and she had been left with nothing. Her father had his job, and she had no one. The last time she got her heart broken, she had called out for some comfort, for some company, and an echoing silence was her reply. The last time she had gotten her heart broken, her father's sleeping pills were in her palm and her mother's words were in her head, and all she could do was curse them both for being liars.

Love is watching someone die.

All her life, she had been reassured that she would always be loved. With a bitter swallow of a tablet and much more, she realized the irony in all of this.

"Huh, mom? I will always be loved? Then who's going to watch me die?" she let out an anguished scream to her ceiling, before collapsing on the bed. The last time she got her heart broken was that night. It was also the last night her heart would beat.

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I don't usually do Annette stories, but I was feeling oddly inspired to do this one. And since she didn't get Sebastian in the end, I don't feel guilty about it lol.

Katie- thank you, for all sorts of things.

y-x- hahaha, I got your review for Duplicity like a minute after I finished this story. I'm sorry, this isn't BtB. But I promise, I'll update soon. Actually, e-mail me later. A spoiler might be in store… muah ha ha!