What if Emily insisted Briony was too young to search for the twins alone, and demanded that Leon search with her, and Robbie was forced to search with Cecilia?
"Cecilia, you come with me," Leon demanded, Cecilia looked at Robbie. She was torn between what she had to do and what she wanted to do. Robbie looked at her with a pained expression; she could still feel his beads of sweat on her hands.
"Leon, are you mad? You go with Briony," Emily Tallis replied, shaking her head impatiently. The darkness outside worried her, the twins had a well-known fear of the dark and she was afraid they were gone forever. "Cecilia and Robbie can search together."
Robbie was still in shock to be perfectly honest. He couldn't feel his body properly; he felt like he was observing his actions, not instructing them. He felt intoxicated, but not with alcohol. Cecilia walked ahead sternly, holding out torchlight and shouting the twins' names desperately, rubbing her shoulders. "I have a mind to smack them both when we find them!" She called to Robbie furiously, "It's bloody freezing!"
"Is it?" Robbie asked; he couldn't feel any kind of temperature. He felt himself getting light-headed and dizzy, but he couldn't stop. Cecilia was already ahead, heading down towards the lake. She looked beautiful underneath the moonlight. Her skin looked softer and her hair was beautifully reflected. He wanted to kiss her again, feel her lips touch his again. He had never been so happy in his life.
"Robbie, come on!" Cecilia called; walking backwards, as she noticed Robbie seemed to be swaying worryingly as he walked. "What's wrong?"
"We need to talk Cee," he said, sitting down on the grass. His eyesight had given up on him, everything looked as if he was spinning around. "We need to talk about what happened."
"Now?" She asked, shaking her head, looking around her. The atmosphere around her was dead and she could only hear the crickets. "We'll talk later, we have to find the twins."
"No, I can't!" He snapped; Cecilia looked at him worriedly, shocked by him raising his voice. "I can't move, not until I know what's going on. I can't ignore the tension."
"Neither can I Robbie, but for God's sake!" She moaned, sitting down next to him, stroking his cheek softly. "I don't know what to say. I'm still trying to figure out what happened myself."
"Briony, you're awfully quiet," Leon remarked, as he and Briony both walked towards the fountain, praying that they wouldn't have to go much further. The air was cold; the country was like a desert that day. "I'm sure we'll have time for your play, I wouldn't worry."
"Do you really think I'm that shallow?" Briony demanded, her voice echoing throughout the vast space. She wasn't concerned about the play at all; Cecilia had been left alone with Robbie in the darkness, where she was at full risk. He had already attacked her in the library, what if she never made it through the night? Robbie could be attacking her at that moment, covering her mouth with his hand, playing out his sickening thoughts. Briony couldn't even think of the twins. They would show up, Cecilia might not.
"Alright, I'm sorry little sis," he replied, holding up his hands jokingly, as if the whole matter was a hoot. If he only knew what evil and twisted actions she had witnessed. If only he could have seen the power Robbie had over their sister: so much power that he could force her to degrade herself to ruin her innocence. "I'm sure the twins will be fine."
"I know," she nodded, pulling her few strands of her over her face, to hide the obvious fact that she was lying. "They're children, I expected this." Leon laughed a little and shook his head, taking out a cigarette from his tuxedo jacket and lit it up, his face becoming more colourful in the candlelight.
"Briony, you seem on edge, what's wrong?" He asked, completely out of the blue, looking at her, like he was trying to see through to her soul. Briony disguised her expression; she wanted to tell him. The urge inside her to tell him was like a fire burning inside her, it was agonising to ignore it.
Leon couldn't ignore his sister's clear distress. She had seemed hostile all night, and the way she had snapped at Robbie was completely out of character. He had always known that she had an adolescent infatuation with the housekeeper's son. She wouldn't hear of anyone speaking badly about him. Briony also loved her Mother to pieces and everyone knew her subtle rivalry with Lola, so why would she defend her?
"Nothing's wrong!" She replied defensively, walking further ahead, the moonlight making her look almost ghostly in the night. "You wouldn't understand."
"Understand what?" Leon asked, catching up with her, pulling her arm until she was looking him in the eye. Her eyes were sparkling with tears and she was beginning to shake worriedly, as if she had seen a ghost. "Little sis, please talk to me."
Briony didn't see that she had a choice. Her guard had let her down and she had unveiled her fears completely: both physically and emotionally. The fire inside her had been released and was spreading onto Leon, and soon everyone would be burning.
"It's Cecilia," she began.
"What do you mean you need to figure out what just happened?" Robbie asked Cecilia, still trying to absorb everything. "I think it's bloody obvious what happened."
"I know Robbie! I know what just happened!" Cecilia hissed, hearing her Mother and Paul Marshall's raised voices nearby. She couldn't understand why he was dwelling so much on it when there were clearly other things to worry about. Cecilia knew what happened in the library was anything but meaningless. She knew that Robbie was the man she wanted to marry, but she couldn't bring herself to admit it to anyone other than him. In her mind she knew she was a shallow-minded pig, but to Cecilia, her affluent lifestyle meant everything, and she didn't know if she could admit to being in love with a frog trying to be a prince.
"Do you love me?" Robbie asked, sensing that there was something wrong. He hadn't read much love stories in his time, but Juliet surely didn't runaway from Romeo when he confessed his love for her. What worried him most was when she was silent for a few minutes and turned her back on him.
"I-I don't know," Cecilia replied silently, her voice cold like the night. "I think I just wanted to be reckless." Robbie looked away from her, and tried to disguise the small tear coming down his cheek. He didn't want to admit it, but he predicted something like this would happen. It was not often his dreams came true, apart from Cecilia's Father paying him through college. He knew that his tryst with Cecilia would probably be a mistake. She was clearly meant for Paul Marshall, not a pauper like him, she deserved a prince. He could try and deny the social differences and the obvious controversy that would arise if she married him, but it was as natural as nature itself.
"I'm glad I helped with your experiment," he said quietly, standing up. He began walking away; surprisingly his legs could carry him.
"Wait, Robbie, we have to look for the twins," Cecilia told him coldly, her expression as frozen as ice, not even his clear heartbreak would melt her attitude, so he pretended it was fine. He pretended everything was fine. "Please don't be so petty."
"We'd clearly work best alone," he replied, storming off, taking out a cigarette, but he dropped it due to the fact that he was shaking so much. He didn't look behind him. He feared he would turn to stone if he looked at her again.
Cecilia began walking after Robbie disappeared into the fog. She wouldn't sit and cry. She had done the right thing. She had to marry someone who was as affluent as her. Just because she loved Robbie Turner didn't mean they belonged together. His Father had abandoned him, what made her so sure he would stay with her? Oh what was the point? Robbie Turner didn't have a bad bone in his body. He was the person Cecilia aspired to be: the higher self. He wasn't a social experiment. Robbie could never mean so little to her. It was done though. As harsh as it was, she needed t move on and that was precisely what she would do.
"No, surely not," Leon gasped after Briony had finished telling him what she had saw at the fountain and about the note, and about the incident in the library. "It can't be!" Briony sat on the edge of the fountain, where Cecilia had been almost nude just hours before. She felt as numb as the rock she sat on. Her words had left her breathless for once. A part of her wanted to take it all back, but this hadn't been typed on her typewriter, this was real. Leon knew now, it wasn't all in her head. A grown man knew, not just her and Lola. She had someone else to depend on. She wasn't insane.
"Yes it is Leon!" She protested, her lips trembling, either with the cold, or everything that had happened. Leon stood beside her, frozen in shock. It was hard to believe; Cecilia was their sister, and her welfare meant everything to them both. "I saw it! I'm not lying!"
"I'm not saying you are, but perhaps it isn't what it seems," he said, but he didn't sound like he believed it. He was chalk white now. "I mean Robbie-"
"He was violating her I swear," she told him again, her lips stiffening as she repeated it. "She was trapped, and he wrote her the note about her-"
"I know, you've mentioned the note," Leon said quickly, holding up his hand to stop her saying that awful word. Briony was far too young to know about anything so vulgar. It must have been Robbie. Someone in his class would know all about that, and with him being so close to Briony – yes, it all made sense. Her hostility! She was being hostile towards Robbie for a reason, and the reason was Cecilia. Leon didn't want to believe it, but it had to be true. Briony didn't lie, not about things that serious. If Robbie Turner had hurt Cecilia, she wouldn't lie about it.
"What are we going to do Leon?" Briony asked worriedly, a loose tear streaming down her cheek. "What if he hurts Cecilia so much, we can't help her?"
"I'll alert Mother as soon as we find the twins," he told her, wiping her stray tear away, kissing her cheek. "Cecilia will tell us what happened, and that's when we'll take legal action."
"Do you promise?" She asked him sternly, standing up again. "You have to promise me that's what you'll do Leon. I love Cecilia."
"Little Sis, I love her too," he told her honestly, whispering to her. "I will kill Robbie Turner if I must."
"PIERRE! JACKSON!" It was Robbie's loud voice; there was no doubt about it. Briony saw the look of pure rage in Leon's eyes and watched with her heart pounding, as he stormed in his direction. She grabbed her flashlight and chased after him, she didn't want Leon to kill him. She wanted Robbie to suffer a fate worse than death.
Robbie was still in shock, but he concealed it as he searched for the twins. His problems were bad, but he put himself in the shoes of two little boys emerging from a broken home, out in the dark, and suddenly his problems didn't seem so bad. Cecilia was not far behind him, he could feel it, but he didn't acknowledge her presence. He never wanted to acknowledge her presence again, well not for a while anyway.
Suddenly he saw Leon marching in his direction, looking like a wild animal about to attack. "You filthy animal!" He raged, punching Robbie in the face, his nose immediately breaking. "What did you do to Cecilia?!" Robbie looked up at him, but he was about to strike, so he blocked his arm and tried to understand why he was being attacked.
"I did nothing to her!" He protested, pushing Leon away, wiping his nose, only to find a lot of blood on his wrist. His shirt was stained. His mother would want some explaining. "I did nothing wrong Leon!"
"Briony read your note, and observed you…violating her in the library!" Leon yelled furiously, his fists clenched, like he would attack at any minute. Briony ran forward, and the moment Robbie looked into her eyes, he knew she had told Leon everything. She immediately looked away from him, as if she felt guilty. Cecilia followed in hot pursuit, stepping forward with her flashlight.
"Leon! Robbie! What is going on?" She demanded furiously, flashing her light onto both their faces, gasping at Robbie's broken nose. "What happened?!"
"Cee, don't be frightened! He won't hurt you! Briony told me everything!" Leon told her, glaring at Robbie with disgust.
Cecilia looked at Briony, who only stared at the ground. She could hear the lake nearby and wished she could wash away the whole situation. She should tell the truth; admit that Robbie done no more wrong than to write a stupid note he didn't mean to write. She should do that, and she knew so. Robbie looked at her pleadingly, begging her not to condemn him and hurt him more than she already had. Leon looked at him like he was an animal not fit to be around them. She had to be honest, even if Robbie was only a frog.
"Shh! It'll only last a few minutes if you shut up!"
Everyone heard the cold tone of Paul Marshall's voice and Cecilia led the way as they quickly ran through some bushes. Cecilia shone her flashlight onto what seemed like an empty area, but she was not prepared for what her flashlight revealed.
Briony looked in disgust at what Cecilia's flashlight had shown them. She felt the urge to vomit, and stab Paul Marshall a million times even if she went to jail for the rest of her life. Lola looked so helpless, like Cecilia had. There were two bad men in their house that day, and not one person knew. Had evil invented its own subtle power to hide from the world around it?
"Sick bastard!" Robbie yelled in disgust and fury, lunging himself at Paul Marshall. Paul was immediately stunned as Robbie pounced on him. Lola was automatically freed, and crawled a few feet away as Robbie began laying into him, not thinking as he threw his punches and dollop of spit. Cecilia and Briony both rushed to Lola's side, Cecilia taking the shocked young girl into her arms, and Briony taking her hand, anything to at least offer some support. Leon joined Robbie in punishing Paul Marshall for what they had all witnessed.
"It isn't what it looks like!" Paul cried desperately, his cries oozing with blood coloured saliva. "Lola, tell them!"
"We saw everything!" Robbie yelled at him, now he was the animal. He wanted Paul Marshall dead for being in the same room as any of the Tallis family. It was sickening to think he had been so polite to him earlier. He looked at Lola, who was buried in Cecilia's arms. She would no longer have her innocence. He had stolen something precious away from her and for that he deserved to die.
Leon watched in horror as Paul Marshall sneakily tripped Robbie up. Robbie didn't just fall onto the grass, he tripped and his head clashed with a large rock lying on the grass. It all happened in slow motion. There was a loud crack as Robbie's head banged against the hard rock, and immediately his eyes closed. Leon didn't know what to do. Everything seemed so blurry. He couldn't hear anything but his own heartbeat. Robbie surely deserved to be suffering, but so did Paul Marshall, yet he couldn't bring himself to finish Robbie's work. He focused on Robbie lying unconscious, trying to work out what to do.
"Leon, please, it's all a misunderstanding," Paul insisted, his voice as smooth as ever, holding out his hand for help he clearly shouldn't have. Leon then turned away from Robbie and looked at Paul. Paul didn't look upset in the slightest; he only looked upset that he had gotten caught. Leon didn't think, he looked at Lola, who was heaving with her heavy sobs, and began kicking Paul Marshall fiercely. He didn't think; he just did it. He kicked him so many times. He didn't feel anything. He only felt like he wasn't kicking him hard enough.
"Leon! You'll kill him!" Cecilia took his arm, forcing him to look at Paul. He was unconscious, and there were splotches of red all over his body. He immediately flopped to the ground in complete shock.
"Robbie!" Cecilia rushed to Robbie's head, cradling his head, which was almost completely matted with blood. She watched as her green dress was splashed with blood, but she didn't care. She felt tears spill down her cheeks as she hugged him tightly. "Please wake up! Please wake up! Come back to me, please!" She looked over to see Briony and Lola watching her suspiciously, but Lola was soon crumbling into tears. Leon just sat looking at the motionless body of Marshall. He wasn't dead, sadly, but at least he could be prosecuted.
Cecilia was in complete shock. She couldn't absorb what had just happened, and she felt like she was dreaming. She prayed that she would wake up any second, and it would be morning. This couldn't be happening. Robbie couldn't be dying! He didn't move, his lips oozed with blood, and his eyes remained closed. She kissed his lips softly, bursting into tears as she did, and she finally had to admit the truth, whether he was conscious or not.
"I love you, please come back, come back to me," she hissed in his ear, kissing it softly. She held him tightly, praying for a miracle.
"Cee, what are you doing?" Leon asked her angrily, sitting next to her, trying to pull Robbie's lifeless body away from her, but she pushed him away.
"I love him Leon!" She insisted, "He never hurt me. We made love, and he wrote that note for a joke, he never meant it! And now he's dying! I love him Leon, and he's dying!"
"I'm not dead," a weak voice choked. Cecilia looked to see Robbie's eyes opening. She gasped; he was alive! He wasn't dead! He wasn't dead!
"Robbie!" She exclaimed, quickly kissing his lips in relief and because she was still afraid. Her mouth tasted of blood, and her make up was running down her face, but Robbie still stared at her like she was immaculate.
"I heard you," he smiled, cupping her chin with his hand, stroking her face softly, just to ensure that he hadn't died and gone to heaven. She looked sincere, and she cradled him in her arms like he actually meant something to her. It was really happening. It was all real for once.
Briony crawled over to Robbie and Cecilia and looked at Robbie. She couldn't say the words; she was speechless for once. She only grabbed his hand, and looked deep into his eyes, hoping he would understand. She kissed his hand, and wiped the blood with her dress, tears streaming down her cheeks. She was wrong, and she couldn't admit it. She looked at him and Cecilia, and realised that they were in love. Fairytales did exist; the princess really had fallen in love with the pauper, and the prince was the villain. The world wasn't so pessimistic. Evil hadn't completely won yet. Robbie and Cecilia were in love.
"I'm so sorry Robbie," Leon said quietly, tapping his shoulder. Robbie shook his hand and nodded understandably. And then he looked to Briony, and this time she looked straight back at him, her lips trembling.
"It's okay," he told her, smiling at her. "I forgive you." She felt relieved when he said that. It was as if she was tied up and she was suffocating because of her own ways, and he had just set her free. She kissed his hand again.
"What the hell is going on here?" Emily Tallis asked in shock, the twins clutching both her hands. They looked like they were going to cry, especially when they saw their own sister crying in Briony's arms and Robbie and Paul Marshall surrounded by blood. Emily was mortified when she was Paul Marshall lying unconscious. There was a lot of explaining to do.