A/N: Thank GuardianKysra that this was posted. I actually didn't think it was 'finished' and I sent it to her to read as a kind of punishment for teasing me about something else because it was one of the saddest things I've ever written. But she said, "YOU HAVE TO POST THIS" like that, in caps, so ((shrug)) I figure, why not. But, there you go. Fair Warning: THIS IS SAD. (Like you couldn't have picked THAT up from the title of the thing?)
Warning: CHARACTER DEATH
Disclaimer: Don't own Teen Titans and don't own the poem. Full disclaimer as to the poem is at the bottom.
Thanks: To Kysra, both for insisting I post it and for the title.
"The art of losing isn't hard to master..."
- One Art, Elizabeth Bishop
No one had expected the dark empath to approach the podium. She never spoke except when absolutely necessary in the best of situations, so it wasn't even considered by anyone that she might, of her own accord, rise to speak on such a dark and dreary day as this. But, upon consideration, those that were familiar with her particular strengths, namely her ability to hold her emotions in check, figured that she would be the best person to speak on such a grim occasion. A glance at the remaining members of the team showed at best, a tenuous grasp of their emotions on the face of the oldest and pain, plain as day on the face of the youngest. He wasn't crying, but the Alien was. Only the Dark Witch remained neutral, her eyes dry, her expression as outwardly unemotional as ever it was.
Of course, she would be the one to speak...the others probably wouldn't be able to get through two sentences before breaking.
The entire congregation, silent as a matter of course, became as still as a painting upon her approach, not even their breathing could be heard. She carried with her a scrap of paper, which she held in her composed, pale hands. The folds of her cloak had been pushed back behind her shoulders, so that for the first time that anyone could remember, she didn't appear to be trying to hide inside it's depths.
"Each person in this city has been touched by the life that has left us..." she began, her voice carrying over and across the wide expanse of church. "Each and every life here owes something to the man we lay to rest today." The silence of the crowd was broken by choked sobs, but no one moved to see where from. "Each of you, I'm certain, has words that would be appropriate to speak here today, words that tell of his heroism, his heart, his kindness and his courage..." she paused and her eyes found the faces of her teammates in the front row...her teammates and friends. "...we..." she paused again, and something flickered behind her stoicism...something alive and broken. She swallowed visibly and, straightening her shoulders, looked out at the crowd again, "...who lived with him, who shared our days with him, who depended on him...he gave us something more...he gave us each other; family, and we... do not..." she exhaled and that living thing that on someone else might be emotion was there again, fighting to emerge, but she straightened her shoulders and it was gone, pushed back behind walls of stone, "...we have no words of our own...or, maybe it is more accurate to say we have too many words...and cannot chose among them..."
She looked down at the podium, her eyes fixing on the words on the paper there, but she was not seeing them...she was fighting for control, mentally chanting her mantra, promising her emotions they would have time to mourn later, promising them anything if they would only help her get through this...
"So we borrow the words of W. H. Auden," she spoke, nearly a whisper, nearly emotional. "To state for us, what we cannot find the words to state for ourselves..." she took a deep breath and glanced from the paper to the crowd, barely blinking as the camera flashed, but noting how the camera man wiped a tear from his own eyes. She looked back at her friends, her family, and in their eyes, she found the strength to continue. She nodded, almost imperceptibly, and looked at the paper, trying to ignore the way her hand shook...just a little.
"Stop all the clocks," she spoke, her voice clear and stoic, "cut off the telephone," she continued. "Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone," she looked out amongst the crowd, seeing faces she recognized vaguely from other moments: the Mayor was there, the commissioner, various other public figures, but the faces she was interested in were the faces of the children that wept openly, the mothers that held them close. "Silence the pianos," she continued, not really needing the words on the paper in front of her; she knew the poem. "and with muffled drum..." she stopped, and had to swallow to keep her voice from breaking. She couldn't say the next words. But she would. She inhaled and felt the tightness in her chest give just enough, "Bring out the..." she stumbled a little, but continued without further pause, "...coffin," she looked out into the crowd, "let the mourners come."
It wasn't fair, she knew it. It wasn't fair. She had always known life was unfair and that she was never likely to get a break, but this was beyond bearing. In her mind, she remembered a conversation they'd had, like so many others:
"You know these are the risks we take, it's part of the job description," Robin said, trying to inject humor into the stark reality of his statement.
"Would you say the same thing if had been me that was almost killed?" she asked stoically.
It took him a while to admit that he wouldn't.
Her voice was tight and no longer as unemotional as she prided herself on having, but she wouldn't stop anymore. She would finish them. She promised it to the others that she'd do this and she had picked the poem. She looked up and out at the brilliant sun outside and wished it was raining, she hated to think of the day being this bright and full of spring when her heart felt as if it were Winter, "Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead," she continued when she looked back at the crowd, "Scribbling on the sky the message..." she stopped again, lowering her head for a moment, fighting back the wave of emotions, both her own and from her friends, "He is Dead," she whispered. The church was so incredibly silent that each and every person present heard her regardless. She raised her head to face them again, "Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves," she continued, "Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves." She glanced at the rows of police in full dress uniform waiting to offer their respects and almost laughed at the fact that they were in fact, wearing black gloves.
The next part was the hardest...the next verses the most meaningful and she was suddenly unsure she had the strength to speak them. She looked for the eyes of her friends and found new arrivals seated alongside them. The Titans East had joined them and their expressions were as meaningful as those of her own Titans.
"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you," she had admitted one casual day, the way she usually admitted things of great depth and importance: unexpectedly.
"That's an exaggeration," he argued charmingly.
"No," she insisted. "It's not...No one has ever understood me the way you do and if it weren't' for you, no one would've ever accepted me the way they have...it's because of you I've grown..." She had rarely said so much about her own feelings and emotions in a week of admissions put together, so he had understood the meaning of her words and hadn't tried to dismiss them.
"I could say the same about what you mean to me..."
She drew her strength from their presence and their encouragement, but she knew it would be pointless to try and remain emotionless. "He was my North," she spoke through the lump in her throat, her voice tight and unlike her at all, "my South," she continued somehow, "my East and West," she admitted, blinking rapidly to stop the tears, "My working week and my Sunday rest," she took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, "My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;" she felt the tears sting her eyes and when she blinked this time, they overflowed, running down her cheeks, "I thought that love would last forever:" her voice broke and she had to stop again, closing her eyes, "I was wrong." When she opened her eyes again, they were filled with emotion: anger. Not the all consuming rage that was her father's legacy, but the kind of anger that could only ever come out of love, "The stars are not wanted now;" she said angrily, "put out every one," she demanded, "Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun," she told them. "Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;" she blinked and more tears made their way down her cheeks.
"For nothing now can ever come to any good," she whispered.
Notes: The poem that Raven reads is called "Funeral Blues" by W.H. Auden.
A/N: Just a one-shot people, not going to go anywhere else. Although...this might end up being part of what you might call my "Poetic Series". None of them have anything to do with one another except that they were all inspired by poetry.
The Poetic Series So Far
(I'll put up links as soon as I can get them)
1. Refusal-- Story ID 2800809
2. Interpretations – Story ID 3042207
3. Memoriam: Which is this one
4. Beacon – Story ID (to be posted)