NB: I don't own these characters, they belong to Alison Croggon

NB: I don't own these characters, they belong to Alison Croggon…(weeps)

Hauntings

Once again, Cadvan dreamt of Maerad. He saw her again in her many moods, like a sky; her frown as she concentrated on some book, her small, secretive smile, her face crumpled in misery or flushed with anger, her eyes sparkling with childish excitement or dull with primitive fear.

Her self glowing with irrepressible, unstoppable power, both bigger and stronger and smaller and softer at the same time. Her self in its true place, far away from him, unreachable.

Her expression when she though nobody was looking at her - a static yet mecurial look in her eyes, a mixture of uncertainty and tenderness and loss and courage. He saw that expression more vividly than all because it was the one he most liked. It was the essential Maerad. It wasn't Elednor. It wasn't the One. It was Maerad.

But then that expression dissolved into the last look he had seen in her eyes - pure fear. He once again saw the naked fear in her eyes as she kneeled on that unsteady road, watching as he was torn away from her and the sky above rumbled with falling rocks. He saw her white face, glimmering swiftly away into nothing as darkness swept its barrier between then, and felt her hand fall away from his.

And then he woke, as he had on those nights before, and realised that he was slathered in sweat, his fingers digging tightly into the satin sheets, his chest heaving and his breath sounding laboured and painful. He was alone again, still in that darkness.

Still in that darkness...

He eventually released his hold on the sheets clumped up in his hands, because he was holding on so tightly that his knuckles felt like they were going to break out of their sockets and through his skin.

He closed his eyes, going back into the blackness of his mind, which was more comforting than the darkness outside because Maerad still existed in it. And it was not truly darkness if she was there.

He focused on that single image of Maerad he so liked, her face amongst a crowd of others, private and grave and beautiful. He could hear her voice in his ears, talking nonsense, just nonsense, but still in her own, deep voice. He could smell her hair, feel her hand in his, taste her sweat on his lips. He could see her more vividly than if she was actually there before him. He could see her enter the room he was lying in, could hear her steady footsteps on the soft carpet, could feel the bed go down slightly when she sat on the end of it, the sheets and cover slipping down in response to the new pressure.

She was there, he thought. She was actually there, with him.

And then he opened his eyes and the world went black and empty again. The bottom of the bed was unoccupied. Maerad was not in the room.

But of course she was not, he realised suddenly. It was impossible for her to be there. He was in Murask, she was lost in the wilderness. She would not be there, no matter how hard he wished for it.

He sat up abruptly, then got out of bed and walked to the open window in the room that looked over Murask's main square.

He wished he wasn't in Murask. It made the visions all that little bit worse. Because Maerad had actually been here, her presence had actually graced that square, her feet had touched those cobbles. They did not anymore, but they had - and that was all that mattered.

He could see her if he stared hard enough into the dim street. He could see her walking along the cobbles in her steady, quiet stride, her thin body swaying, her black hair fluttering in an unfelt breeze. She was still here, if not in body then in spirit. But she could not see him.

She thought he was dead.

Cadvan felt himself grip at the window frame, panic overriding him.

He was gone in her mind. He no longer existed in any form. She did not see him as he saw her. She had abandoned him without meaning to or knowing she was doing it.

And he was left with these hauntings.

A swish of dark hair at the corner of his eyes, white figures in the night, every waking moment spent alert, waiting for her to appear again.

He could not live like this.

He would go mad.

He had to find her.

Because is he did not, if they stayed apart...

He looked back into his mind. She was there, perched on the bed, whispering to him almost tauntingly, her presence filling the room.

If they stayed apart, the hauntings would get him.

And then he truly would be lost.

So he had to find her.

He would find her.

He had to...

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