A/N: Here there be spoilers for TSFT! Anyway, this is my first time writing anything for A Great and Terrible Beauty, but it's not my first time writing fanfiction. That said, I hope you'll stick with me while I get a feel for the characters. And if you make it to the end of this chapter, don't forget to review. :)
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters (except Amelia), nor do I own 'Hope is the thing with the feathers' by Emily Dickinson, which is where the title came from.
When I turn to my left, there he is. He is simply standing, waiting for me. I hurry toward him, covering the ground between us faster than I thought possible. As I reach him, his face breaks into a smile, and I let out a breath I was unaware I'd been holding. It's been so long since I've seen him and my eyes take in every inch of him.
"Gemma," he murmurs softly, reverently.
I say nothing; I simply wrap my arms around him. Maybe, I can't help but think, maybe if I hold on tightly enough he won't be taken from me again.
"I miss you," he says, his voice muffled against my hair.
"I miss you more," I reply childishly, and I can feel, rather than see, him smile.
Neither of us says
anything more; we simply stand in our embrace in the middle of the
garden. If anyone is around us, I'm completely oblivious. Minutes
and hours and days lose all meaning, and I feel as if I could stay
there forever until he says, "Gemma, it's time for you to leave."
Minutes and hours and days lose all meaning, and I feel as if I could stay there forever until he says, "Gemma, it's time for you to leave."
I know he is right, but it doesn't make it any easier. Reluctantly I let my hands drop and step backward. I look up at him and smile slightly, although I think it might seem more grimace than grin. "Will I see you again?" I ask.
"Silly Gemma," he says, his mouth turning up at the corners, "of course you will."
And just like that, Kartik is gone. And just like that, my eyes spring open and bright, unfeeling sunlight greets me.
"Good morning, Gemma," a soft voice calls, reminding me that I'm back in the real world and not in my dreams any longer.
"Morning, Amelia," I return, although my voice sounds nowhere as cheery as hers. Amelia always seems to be up before I am, and I can't help but dislike her for it, just a little. I suppose she's nice enough, and at the university I've certainly met worse, but she's no Fee or Ann.
I climb out of bed and after changing out of my nightclothes, Amelia asks if I'd like to join her for breakfast downstairs before classes. When I decline, she only seems to mind slightly. "Well, I'll see you later then, Gemma," she says, and leaves our small room with a smile and a wave.
Once her annoyingly straight blonde hair is out of sight and the door is closed, I sit on the edge of my bed, lost in my own thoughts. My dream of Kartik is the first I've had in over a month. Though I saw him often after first coming to New York, he has disappeared in recent weeks.
I wish I knew what it all meant, but I haven't a clue, no matter how much I try to pretend I do. I wish I could speak with Fee or Ann, but with them not being at the same school, let alone same continent, it is quite impossible. I suppose I could write a letter, but I doubt it would do much to help.
Frowning slightly, I stand and walk over to the chest that holds all my belongings. I kneel down and open its heavy lid, my hand reaching inside. Tucked safely away from Amelia's prying eyes, underneath skirts and stockings, is a scrap of red cloth. I pull it out carefully and run the worn fabric between my fingers.
Thoughts of hugging Kartik, of him being near me again, flood my mind once more. With these memories, comes the question that has haunted me since the final battle in the realms: is he gone forever?
I stand up again; it must be almost time for classes. I tuck the red cloth into the waist of my skirt, needing the comfort of it as I had once before, and close the trunk.
As I leave the room, the answer to my lingering question floats in my mind. Logically, my head tells me that Kartik is gone – that I won't see him until it I die and must move on.
Unfortunately, pure rational thought has never quite been my strong point, and my heart continues to wonder if there's a way to bring him back. If there is, I will find it, I promise myself.
And it is this oath that follows me quietly throughout the rest of the day.