So, yeah. You guys have forced me to continue this story. (Haha, kidding)
At any rate, here's Part III. Enjoy if it's possible.
Whoo, special thanks again to Rachael (tyco622 to all of those on this website who want to read a really well-written HarryGinny oneshot), who beta'd and saved from catastrophe yet another one of my works. Love you, Rachael!
As childish as always, he'd thought it would be easy.
As naïve as always, he'd thought that what they had would only develop.
As stupid as always, he was wrong.
She stared oftentimes into space, seeming as if she was falling from reality, as if she was trying to escape the world around her. When in the hospital, her eyes never moved from the window, and she never shifted once to glance at him, never offered even the weakest of smiles to try to lie for herself and say she was okay. And she wasn't, of that he was sure. She was detached, aloof, and all the other pretty words used in their English class to describe being set apart, to describe running from the world and its surroundings.
But he could find not even in the smallest section of his heart will to blame her for her actions. Her very life had been turned upside down, to say in the smallest, most insincere description of her situation (and yet the only way he knew how to describe it). He couldn't fully comprehend it, after all.
The only wish he had was not for her to love him, but for her to not look so lifeless, so ready to die.
She wouldn't even let him touch her shoulder, the thought of any physical contact making her cringe and shy away, under her sheets and away from the world.
He'd given up on even weak smiles by now.
But he kept coming. The passing week, when she was dispatched from the hospital wing wrapped up and in a sling, the graduation he never (same as she), went to, on and on and on he kept coming, being there for her, no matter the countless times she slammed the door in his face, the wild yet apologetic look present in her fear-filled eyes.
Still, he was human, and he often collapsed on his knees in frustration and anger at the base of the willow tree, fingers digging, digging, digging into the earth, cries stuck in his throat and teeth gritted so tight.
He'd wanted her to open her eyes, to give a little laugh and reassure him with a smile, to say "I love you" and mean it, so they could be happy. But she hadn't turned those blue, blue, soulful, sorrowful, beautiful eyes on him once – unless she meant to slam the door without a word in dismissal to his arrival. He hadn't seen her smile in an eternity or two, hadn't heard her laugh in so much longer. And those "I love you"-s, those displays of affection he'd never wanted before, were now not even a possibility, because she looked at him as if she didn't recognize him, as if she thought he'd hurt her.
How could she?
He could she betray him? How could she turn her back on him? How could she stand there and peer back at him as if he were nothing to her, had never been anything to her, as if his very presence made her skin crawl? How could she regard him as though he were less than dirt?
How…how could she…how could she not love him…when she'd promised – oh, she'd promised – to be there?
H-how could she have changed? People…didn't change. She'd said that. People didn't change!
Especially not the girl with the darker-than-sky blue eyes, those rainstorm and thunderstorm and cloudy-blue eyes that were as gentle as a sun shower and kind as a summer breeze. Not the girl with the rosy red lips that quirked up in mirth when a friend said a joke or he stumbled over his feet when only she was around. Not the girl with the russet-colored hair that caressed her beautiful pale skin, that moved her hands in such an achingly sweet gesture over his cheek when he was fighting the urge to scream and tear things apart because his mother had been so selfish as to die and leave him with his bastard of a father. Not the girl whose heart was so full of love that it was unfathomable that that love could just disappear like wisps of smoke, seeming never to be there at all.
No. He refused to believe it. He refused to lose her again. Because he couldn't stand to lose her again.
She was everything he had now. All that he wanted. Maybe all that he'd ever wanted.
She couldn't just disappear.
He was agitated, though. And it was because he knew that every time she shut the door, every time he listened hard and caught her muffled sobs as he collapsed against the wooden barrier, that he wasn't getting through to her, wasn't helping her any. He wasn't helping by just staring at the chipped paint, by running his fingers along the coarse surface, by leaning his forehead against the door. He wasn't helping by closing his eyes and wishing to God – where was he now, that higher being? – that she would open the door, drop all the barriers, and let herself be held in his arms so that he could whisper all that he wanted to say into her ears.
But instead he was just standing there like an idiot, able to do nothing more than wish for her to come back to him.
"Kairi" was always on his lips, as he went through his days, as he was startled back into himself when he saw her sometimes sitting alone on the bleachers – wrapped in that goddamn sweatshirt of beatings and bad memories – at the store picking half-heartedly meals for herself – and only herself – in the streets walking with her head down, eyes on the sidewalk, arms crossed defensively over her chest. And he wanted to call out to her, wanted to take her wrist and swing her around to face him, to grin as wide as he could and try to coax that beautiful sunshine of a smile – the only, only sunshine he saw in the now bleak days he suffered by cause of her misery – back onto her face. But he refrained because she would push him away and run, run, run far away from him, and his heart would shred if that happened.
His eyes burned constantly as he forced himself to remove his gaze from her.
He admitted himself to the hospital, too, in the middle of the third week, having broken his fingers upon slamming his fist in frustration into a wall.
But the pain distracted him from the constant agony his heart felt whenever she even so much as invaded his thoughts, and so it wasn't so bad, he decided.
"Kairi, Kairi, Kairi" he murmured, eyes softened in a kind of sadness, not fondness. All he thought of was her, not of Riku, who kept calling to make sure he was all right enough – meaning not depressed enough – that he was there to pick up the phone. No, he didn't think of his friend, his longest, oldest, closest friend, whom he hurt so much because he hurt so much, only being selfish and shoving that life behind him. He was so caught up in her, so afraid she would disappear between his fingertips that he forgot, forgot everything, and kept on showing up at her doorstep, stomping his dignity under his feet on her welcome mat – that shouldn't have been there because people weren't so welcome there – as he begged her to open the door.
He was practically on his knees, begging her to open her heart to him once more.
Riku was disgusted.
"I'll be her dog."
Riku pinched the bridge of his nose, shaking his head pitifully as Sora tried to brush past him, desperate for her. But he caught his arm, held him back – while still standing in his same spot – and shook his head.
"Give her space."
"She had all the space she needed when she left me," he said, meaning to sound angry but instead sounding weak.
"She needs more."
"Well I need her!" he shouted, tears again falling from his eyes as he turned away shame-facedly, appalled that he was crying in front of his best friend against whom he'd always tried to beat and become stronger. And he pulled his arm away half-heartedly, letting both in turn fall to his sides as he stared wretchedly at the cracked sidewalk, the cracks in his heart far more defined, and much, much deeper than those beneath his sneakers.
"Give her time. The funeral is in a few days. Go there then. But stop being so pathetic."
"I am pathetic," he murmured.
"You are if you keep acting like this."
Sora flicked his eyes to his friend, his oldest friend, his closest friend, who merely scowled back, disappointed. And he turned, silver hair catching the sun he'd only just realized was out, before he strolled easily back down the sidewalk, headed not towards his house but to the school.
Casting a quick glance over his shoulder, heart twisting at the thought of leaving her be, he clenched his fists at his sides and jogged loyally after Riku, down the street, and to the willow tree…
…the only place where he could think.
And the days passed, each one passing by him as he returned to the willow tree, shaded under the leaves as the heat made him shift in discomfort. Still, the sun wasn't there for him, she wasn't there with him, and so happiness wasn't there in him, and he gazed at the swaying trees with half-lidded eyes glinting with pain. Drowsy, he dozed off those days, waking to the cooler twilight, back stiff and still oddly calm.
The leaves brushed at him every time he stood and left, bidding him good-bye.
It was, indeed, the only connection he really still had with her. And half the time – or most of the time – he dreamed that she'd be there, standing before him, as he thought he remembered her, smile on her face and hair stirred by a breeze into her eyes.
He just wasn't sure if that happiness was a memory of her anymore…or just wishful thinking.
He avoided the wake. What was it to him, anyway, other than stiff, old relatives that didn't give a damn about Kairi as they paid half-hearted respects and monotonous "Our Father"-s to a corpse? But he did stroll the sidewalks that night, hands shoved in his pockets as he thought of her, always of her, forever of her.
And how he so missed her.
Riku went with him to the church – so stuffy and hot – the day of the funeral, shifting with a scowl on his face and muttering about "goddamn suits" and "goddamn ties". Sora inclined his head, smiling quite a bit, glad to know his own discomfort in wearing the heat-attracting attire didn't go unshared by others. And he didn't feel any pang of guilt that he was being disrespectful, because he was not there for the bastard but for his daughter…whom that man didn't deserve, that was for sure.
He was sure, while suffering in quiet agony as Riku kept sighing in agitation, that her eyes drifted to his once. His smile, though small, didn't slip once from his face and even a while after that.
Jackets were discarded in the back of a truck and shirts were un-tucked, sleeves pushed back, as they stood side-by-side at the back of the crowd, all walking solemnly to the designated burial area. Kairi, chin held high, jaw clenched tight, walked with a firm resolve, heading the crowd. And his eyes never did leave her, his heart pounding always and ever quickly in his chest.
All he thought of was Kairi, how brave she was, how strong she was, how amazing she was to withstand the monster's wrath as murmurs were said over his lowering casket, and then of how he wanted to spit on his grave as crowds of people cleared until maybe two or three besides Kairi, Riku, and he remained. And then they left – and Riku, too, exchanging a hesitant look between them before walking off. And Sora walked forward, exaggeratedly dragging his steps so he managed to kick dirt into the hole, and stopped beside her.
Silence was heavy between the two.
And he wanted, wanted so, so badly, to be able to say anything redeeming at all to her ears, to show her that "Look? He's there. He's gone. And he'll never come back to hurt you." But he turned his head further away from her, suffering over how much he couldn't help her, how useless he was to her.
"See that?" she murmured softly, after a long, long, long time of nothingness between them. And her voice was so beautiful, so soft without her ragged tears, that he wanted to hold her and reassure himself that she wasn't as fragile and breakable as she sounded.
"His coffin," he drawled, lip curling in a kind of hollow satisfaction.
"Soon six feet of dirt and a mile's distance will separate me from that man, and I'll be free."
"You've been free since he died," he accused, tasting bitterness on his tongue.
"Never felt it," she murmured.
"And it's different now."
He turned his head curiously, wanting to know how, how she got this logic because it was no different now that he was buried than when he had died, but his body tensed up at the tears on her cheeks. How could she be crying over him of all people, a monster who hadn't appreciated her kindness?
No, no, no! He wouldn't stand it, wouldn't stand for it anymore!
Angrily he moved in front of her, cutting off her sight of his tombstone, of his grave, of everything that represented the death of him, and took her face in his hands, staring into those rainstorm eyes and trying to find the life in them again. Her face paled in horror at his touch, and she cringed, eyes shutting tightly and barring his attempt at finding happiness there. And he was shaking now, frustrated, scared, feeling her slip through his fingertips like water, sliding away, her light and her shine and her love and her laugh all floating away and leaving him cold.
"Come back," he pleaded brokenly, and she opened her eyes, startled.
Choking back a sob, he touched his lips softly against hers, dropping his hands from her face and giving up. If she ran, he wouldn't stop her, because if she didn't even care now that she was killing him on the inside she would never again be the girl he fell for so long ago when she ran to the willow tree. She wouldn't be Kairi, and he wouldn't be whole without Kairi.
He just couldn't shake the fact that the kiss tasted like tears and blood and cold and bitter memories, all of which stained her lips and stained her heart so darkly.
She pulled away first, but long time had passed, and choked out his name, mouth still barely inches from his. And he wanted to kiss her again, to force her to see that she was cared for, but he pulled away, eyes closed, and bowed his head further, feeling his body shake with a violent tremor.
He'd heard an apology in her voice. He didn't want to watch her leave him.
Soft like the wisp of a willow, a touch so light and fair he thought he'd dreamt it, and he let his eyes snap open and found himself looking into eyes with a smile, the ghost of a memory cracking so his mind could fill with this new image of her. He laughed against tears, taking her face in his, and leaned his forehead shakily against hers, not knowing what to say, what else to do. And her hand remained on his cheek, her apologies flowing and sticking together in a long stream of tears and gasps and whines as she tried, oh how she tried, to make him forgive her.
But he'd forgiven her so, so long ago, under their willow tree.
He let one hand fall as he still cradled her face, murmuring declarations of loyalty, of promise, of hope, of happiness. He never said love, though, afraid that she might shy from him, afraid that she would crumble under the very pressure of such a strange concept and retreat within herself again, away from him.
He knew the burden of discovering love all at once. He'd take his time to show her, with kisses on the forehead, kisses on the cheek, and soft murmurs to fill her ears with imitations of hope until she saw it for herself. He would fill her broken heart and piece it back together, no matter how many years the puzzle took to be completed.
All she needed to do was accept the invitation to that kind of life.
And as she leaned closer, eyes shyly meeting his in a kind of greeting, a kind of friendship, she introducing herself over again – and yet for the very first time – with her eyes and her manner, she slipped her hand into his, intertwining their fingers, and gave a soft smile.
And that was declaration enough for him.
"Sora," played on her lips, and she smiled a little wider, blushing with the way his name danced on her tongue. "Sora," she kept saying, over and over and over, seeming so innocent, so young, so true…
…and he knew, for certain, that he wanted to show her the sun.
Epilogue intended. (Unless no one wants it)