Atonement

By Seniya

Victory

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

White Flag by Dido

She had always known that this would happen. And believe me, this sentence is spoken with neither mock superiority nor arrogance. There is little to brag about this sort of knowing in any case—truly, the only sensation to be derived is absolute misery. And she is who suffers most of all despite her foresight, for although she knew, and had always known, somewhere along the line he had managed to convince her otherwise, lulled her into this security.

Now it was all that she could do to forestall the tears that were burning the backs of her eyes. Will had told herself that she needed to be strong, brave—for him, for if he awoke to find her sobbing, it would somehow disintegrate his remaining morale.

It was different in Meridian. On earth, hospitals were clean, busy and secluded. Patients were locked away, safely in their beds; they were connected to machines that only reassured the individual's health. And then the doctors would come, they, with their charts and tests and tables would explain it all in words that few could understand, but that everyone could appreciate. However, here there was no such comfort for the ailing. The physician's cottage was a dank, dark place, filled with jars of livers and bowls of mashed weeds and herbs. He, unlike the doctors of earth refused to explain to her Caleb's condition and obviously because she was a woman, he thought that she should leave his room immediately, and idea he repeated each time he came into her sight.

Her stubbornness did not set well with him, and in fact, his opinion of her seriously worsened when several of her earth friends, and even her Majesty, Queen Elyon herself, came to crowd his precious cottage, all ignoring his requests for the man's loneliness.

"How do you expect him to heal if there are constantly five of you hovering about his bedside!" Of course, the Queen herself wasn't included in this. He neglected to mention the several other visitors, including a light fingered Passling and many a limping solider, since he considered those to be even worse than the present company. "And you," he hissed, pointing a lone, aged finger a Will's small form, "perhaps if you'd cease your simpering…"

"Perhaps if you'd cease yours we could leave." A dark skinned one snapped at him. Taranee, who was undeniably upset that Will had had to come here and endure this man's presence for three long days, had decidedly left her patience at the door. "Really, can't you see that she's upset enough as it is!"

"She isn't his wife! This is improper! Your highness, you must understand that I was instructed to give this boy the best care, and I find it impossible with her here. She refuses to leave, for three days…and I…"

Elyon, who had been alerted by Cornelia only this morning to this same situation, although it had been worded more along the lines that Will was running herself ragged by Caleb's bedside, straightened her back and walked towards him with all of her queenly glory. "Sir, I trust that you can understand that we are only here to ensure of friend's own health. We mean you no disrespect, and hopefully, we can convince Wilma that leaving him be is in everyone's best interests." Her use of the royal plural was not to be ignored, and soon the physician found himself nodding silently to his sovereign.

"But still…your Majesty…you see they are unwed, and without a chaperone…well…"

Elyon brushed this aside with a wave of her hand, "you see…" She stammered for a moment, lost in a sea of excuses that all seemed too ridiculous to utilize. "They are betrothed…" she fibbed, "and she is quite…smitten…" With a slight incline of her head she urged the man outside and unwilling to disobey his lady Queen he obeyed immediately.

……………………………

"Will…" Hay Lin tried first, crouching low next to the woe be gone armchair that the red head was currently curled up in, "Caleb wouldn't want you to worry like this…" Her deep brown eyes were shiny with tears although none grazed her cheeks and when she spoke, her husky voice trembled. "He…wouldn't want me to worry…I'll worry more if I can't see him."

"What Hay Lin means is," Brushing the small brunette aside, Cornelia swooped down in front of Will, her face stern, her voice unrelenting, "of course you're worried." She spared a short glance towards the other room where Caleb was being kept, "but you'll make yourself sick if you don't eat, if you don't sleep." She pressed a hot mug into her hands; it was a while before Will wrapped her fingers about it. "Don't drive yourself crazy, he'll be fine."

"I'm scared Cornelia." Will admitted, allowing the first two fat tears to burn along her cheeks. The blonde bit her lip, for a moment recalling the bitter sensations that had plagued her for well over a year when this same small girl had thumbed her nose to all the rules of friendship and started dating her ex—but that had been over three years ago, now she'd come to appreciate the sweetness that these two seemed to share—sometimes, she could even feel jealous.

Upon seeing Cornelia's hesitance, Irma pulled the blonde away. "But you see Billy…the worst is over!" It didn't matter that her usually jovial tone seemed forced somehow, that she too had spent the last few days more worried about the fact that Will was refusing to eat, sleep or go to her classes. "Come on now…they're just being nice, but I'll tell you the truth. You look like hell…and I don't care how much Caleb says he loves you, I know that few people could stand to see their girlfriend when she looks like this."

"Irma…" Taranee hissed, but Will's quiet, sideways smile ceased the whispers. Now, it was Taranee who shook her head, nearly dissolving into giggles at the undoubted fact that Irma could practically convince Will to do anything. All four girls watched as Will clamoured to her unsteady legs, but it was Hay Lin who wrapped a cautious hand around her friend's waist, happily leading her towards the open door.

……………………………

They, all five, stayed with her for the remainder of the day, forcing food down her throat and even going so far as to force her into one of the luxurious palace beds. She fell asleep almost immediately.

Fully convinced that Will would certainly attempt to return to Caleb's side when she felt that no one was watching, the girls posted watch outside of the door, waiting for her to try something, or at least for Elyon to rally together a more formal guard.

"I hate seeing her like this…I don't even think that she'll try anything, she's fast asleep."

"She's tired." Cornelia answered Hay Lin's speculation before she returned her gaze to the magnificent domed ceiling above them. "I thought that you were exaggerating when you said that she wasn't sleeping but…"

"What are we complaining about? If this was in a Vance Michael Justin flick it'd be the single most romantic moment…" Irma feigned a wide grin, it slid off her face however at the stern look that Taranee was offering her.

"This is why you broke up isn't it Cornelia?" A slow hush fell over the foursome as the normally timid Taranee phrased the question that had been tormenting the group for years. "Because of the separation."

The blonde twisted her lips as though she'd rather remain silent on the topic, but after the gazes on her face refused to subside, she answered, "no, it was because…we weren't working out."

"That's not how I remember it." Irma snorted.

"Well you weren't there!"

"You cussed the boy out for weeks, and then when he and Will got together you started saying that they wouldn't last…and…"

"I…I was different then." And she had been. She'd thought that she'd been in love with him, and quite frankly, she hadn't a clue on how to behave when she suddenly wasn't anymore. Irma didn't understand that. "You don't have any idea what that was like for me, so don't try to judge me!"

"Don't!" Hay Lin interjected, throwing Taranee a reproachful glare before facing Irma, "we're here for Will…there's no reason for us to bring…"

"I think that they should break up." Taranee said flatly.

"Well, sadly this a couple not a ménage à trios and so your opinion counts for precious little."

"I'm not saying it to be mean. Think about it Irma. And just look at Will, she can't handle this. And…and what's she going to do in a few years when she graduates from college? She's planning on being a vet…and what? She'll just come and live here?"

"I'm sure that Will can be a vet here." The tiny Asian girl piped up, only to have her optimism discarded completely.

"This relationship was cute for a teenaged thing, but come on guys…Will's going to be by his sickbed for the rest of her life."

"She loves him, and he loves her…and…" Finding that there was really no justification for this relationship, Irma paused mid-sentence to re-evaluate the options. Was love enough? Either way someone would be heartbroken…Will really wasn't meant for this side of battle. Cornelia, well Cornelia could handle this, admittedly, she thought with her head…Will…Will thought with her heart, only her heart. "They broke up once before over something like this…I…I figured that they worked it out somehow."

"Look, the fact is that Will is nineteen years old. She is not a child, and she knows what's best for her. She isn't a puppet and if she feels as though this relationship isn't good for her, then she'll leave. We don't need to discuss them." And with a regal toss of her silky blonde tresses, she stalked off to find Elyon.

"As much as I hate to admit it…Cornflake's right. Will can take care of herself."

Taranee didn't object, hesitant to be cast once again in the role of antagonist. But she did stare at the closed bedroom door for a long while, thinking about the three long days that Will had refused food and rest, just because she was convinced that he'd panic if he awoke to find her missing. She didn't know what was best for her; because her opinion was currently blurred by her emotions. She had no doubts in her mind that Will would do what Caleb asked, and if he wanted to be in Meridian, then that's where she'd be. She'd give up her dreams, her friends, her family, all for him.

It was just who she was.

……………………………

Will awoke after a mere four hours of sleep, although by the time that she deserted the comfort of the heavy silk covers of one of the castle beds, the moon was already halfway up in the sky.

She decided then that she would go to Caleb again…she'd slept enough, and she couldn't eat in any case…and he'd awaken soon, she knew it. And when he looked about for the first time in days, she wanted him to see a familiar face, and not the dark, ominous room. He'd fret over her she knew, he'd tell her to go to bed, tell her not to worry. And a small smile touched her lips as she considered it. He was always fretting over her, he was so blasted protective—she found it endearing.

He was other things too. He was kind—he always found the time for her and her often ridiculous stories of her day—and he was patient, he'd never pressured her into anything, regardless of how his eyes clouded over each time she refused to admit her feelings to him, he'd never forced her. And he loved her. He'd told her so years ago…and he'd repeated it nearly every time she'd been in his presence since.

And she—God how she wanted to love him back! But how could she? When she didn't even know what this love was supposed to feel like? She'd only been with one other person in all of her life…and a pre-pubescent fling hardly qualified as experience.

But he'd—she staggered against the rough stonewall to think. He'd almost died three days ago—he'd have gone to his grave believing that she never cared, that she didn't love him. But she did! More than she could voice, she'd given him her body without second guessing it. She'd relished in the way in which his hands caressed her, how his lips worshipped her—how his voice made her feel safe, and heavenly and…loved.

She did love him. She realized. She'd been in love with him for nearly all the time that she'd known him—and she'd been waiting for more. For what? For the heavens to rip apart and God himself to whisper it into her ear. She loved him! For everything! For making her feel as though his world revolved about her—for convincing her that she was perfect, for listening to her when she ranted for nearly an hour about the fact that her dorm mate always ate her food.

What more could she ask for? What else could she want?

With her heart filled to the point of overflowing, and her mind, soul and body alert, alive and excited, Will sprinted into the open hallway, casually ignoring the frustrated and then confused murmurs from the men posted outside her door. She had to tell him.

……………………………

When the physician awakened to find her again, rapping against her chamber door, head uncovered, mind you, he wasn't the least bit pleased. Nor did he feel particularly inspired to allow her back into his space, not when she'd all but humiliated in front of her majesty!

She, however, would have none of it. Persuading him with words rather than tears, and then finally when reasoning wouldn't work, she brushed him aside hurriedly and strode effortlessly towards the adjoining room.

Half of the palace guard was sent to look for her although; truly it wasn't a difficult task. There was only one place that she could be. And soon the poor doctor had another forty so men trampling all over his precious haven, dislodging his instruments and prodding at his potions. "Get out! Get out!" He seethed, for the most part going unnoticed.

Will had fallen to Caleb's side, brushing his disorderly hair with shaking hands before smiling assuredly at his restful face. He was beautiful when he slept, she thought. He wasn't nearly as hard or masculine, really, when he was like this she could imagine the small boy that he'd once been.

"Caleb." Her mouth was dry, her tongue heavy, and unaware of the growing audience behind her, she began the small monologue that she had planned. "I love you." And it was as though a heavy, tiresome burden had been taken off her chest, she smiled with blatant relief. "Did you hear me? I said I love you. Even though you're the single most infuriating, nerve wracking man that I've ever known…I…"

Breathing heavily, she watched, transfixed as his eyes began to flutter, and then slowly, remarkably came to settle on her face. She stared for a long while, unsure of what to do or say, and so she remained speechless until those hazy jade orbs settled on her mouth. "Will, it's late. What are you doing here?"

What else would he say? Swallowing back the sorrow, the fear and the relief, she grinned at him. "Kiss me." And she pressed her lips down hard against his, while outside the crowd began to shift uncomfortably in the darkness.

Jacobin, the head of this guard, (although he had sulked for an entire thirty minutes at being reduced to a mere babysitter) turned to the others with an evasive look on his face, "I think that she'll be all right here."

They all agreed, and in one solemn shadow they began the short trudge to the castle walls.

……………………………

Author: Well that's it. The end of Atonement. It began with Caleb realizing that he loved Will, so I thought it fitting that it should end with Will's realization. These stories are linked, although they aren't in any sort of real order. I don't really recall the exact order for all of them but I think that Nervous would be the first and Date would be the last. Written, I think is the only one that isn't related at all.

I guess that my favourite would be Breakfast or Life. I dunno. Some are better than others, but I do hope that you've enjoyed them all. There is one for each letter of the alphabet, kind of a reprieve for the atrocious second season.

Disclaimer: I disclaim any ownership of WITCH or any of its original characters.

Well, I hope you enjoy your Potter guys. I'm in Barbados for right now, and the book is coming out at 7 tonight Barbadian time, so I'll probably finish tomorrow night, or if it sucks like the last two, Sunday morning.

In any case, thank you for reading. And a review, even a two worded one, would be really, really nice. :)