a flame burning down
non-linear

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my life before you
I was a flame burning down
I was burning out

- the light in me, brandon heath

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One second, she is there. The next, she is gone.

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He doesn't know what to think- how to feel- as he reads her last words to them, a tidbit of what they meant to her. He folds the letter up as her brother makes his way up the stairs, red-faced and looking as if he'd rather be with her up there, now.

"Mum wants to read the letter," the brother says, extending a pale hand.

He finds his face distorting, as if he's going to cry again, but he hands the letter to her brother anyway. "I hope you enjoy it," he tells the boy sarcastically, burying his head in his hands.

Honestly, she was a lovely girl, always so full of life and optimistic. She was barely fifteen when Death took her for its own. She'd never had her first kiss, and it made him feel sick- he could have given it to her, but he'd been selfish and wanted to save it for his wedding day. He'd always imagined himself marrying her, but now- now there was no way that anything of the like was possible.

Angrily, he threw his quill across the room. It landed in the fireplace and he watched it burn.

Maybe she would be resurrected from the ashes.

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He's stuck at the table, listening to her family discuss what to write on her gravestone, as if it's a trivial matter, like what shirt her father will wear for work the next day. He can think of a thousand suggestions for what to write on her gravestone- of how she will be missed by everyone, of how she was the perfect example for everyone to look up to, of how he loved her more than anyone and feels a hole- an empty void- now that she's gone. But he keeps quiet, picks at his food, because he knows that in her household it won't be appreciated.

They'd never really accepted that he could be friends with her. They pretended that he was something other than what he was- a boy who truly loved her.

He supposed if the tears that wouldn't stop falling didn't convince them, he didn't know what would.

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The fog falls over him like a cloud, covering him like a thick blanket. He doesn't know what to do, what to say. It seems so disrespectful to even be there, for some reason. But he falls to his knees anyway.

His fingers trace the letters of her name, one by one. They spell out something he knows that he'll never find again- love, real and true love. Sighing, he manages to pull himself away from the grave, remembering happier days- days when the sun shone and they walked around outside, discussing life and how to live it.

She knew what she wanted in life. She knew where she was going. She wanted to have leave a legacy, to have everyone keep her alive in memory when she was gone. It was as if she knew she was going to die.

He remembered her words exactly: "You know, you're going to keep me alive when I'm gone."

At the time, he'd just laughed and pretended that she was going to be around for ages, pretended that she was eternal. He'd been young and innocent and thought that everything would continue on like it had been, that things would stay perfect.

But now, she wasn't alive anymore- her body was under the ground, buried beneath layers of dirt. However, he knew that she was wrong about one thing.

She wasn't gone. As long as people kept her memory alive, she would never really be gone.

He could almost feel her lingering in the air around him.

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At one time, he had been happy. At one time, they had been happy.

At one time, things had been sunshine and warmth; he'd only ever been able to feel warmth when he was around her. Now, it is as if he's been hit by the Dementors- all the warmth is gone, and he is a pillar of ice like he had been before he met her.

He's not the same person he'd been before he met her; yet, he is not the same person he had been when she was alive. He finds it strange, how things change in the blink of an eye.

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"She's dead," he chokes out, one of her cousins, a boy with dark brown hair. Usually, the two of them don't get along, but he can sacrifice for now.

"Who's dead?" he demands, and when the boy doesn't respond, he shakes him by his shoulders. "Who's dead?"

"Her," he says through the tears that threaten to overwhelm him. "Your girlfriend."

Then the boy, her cousin, is gone, before he can demand to know what happened, before he can demand for the boy to tell him that this is all a prank, that it's fake and not real. All he can feel in that moment is crippling pain- he knows that this is the moment that his life will be forever altered.

It can't be possible. He doesn't understand how a girl, once so full of life, can lose it all so quickly.

But it's over- she's gone, and he's left to pick up the pieces.

The pain he feels is worse than any physical pain he's ever felt before.

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He reads over her letter once again, the words piercing his heart with every letter that she wrote. The letters swirl in that way that's so her that it's unbelievable.

I was selfish to become close to you. I had the feeling that I was going to die- I don't know whether it was Divination class or maybe, had I grown older, I would have become a Seer. Either way, I knew I was going to die, but I let you fall in love with me anyway. I loved you, too, no doubt about it. But I don't want you to suffer…

His tears stain the paper. He can't imagine how she could think like that. He doesn't know why she would think that it's selfish to get to know someone, because he knows it would only hurt worse if he hadn't known her at all.

It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all, he thinks absently, clutching her letter in his hands.

It feels like it is his last tie to her, and as he lets it slip back onto the table, it feels as if she's slipping away as well.

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"She knew how to love," someone says at her funeral.

As he looks at her body, peaceful even in death, he knows that is true. Her red hair billows around her pale, beautiful face, and he can only think of how lovely she was.

She loved almost everyone that she met, and she was sweet to everyone she met as well. She never had a harsh word for anyone. Even though she apparently knew she was dying, she was positive, optimistic, and always believed that her life was going to get better.

And as he looks into the coffin, he thinks of how sad it was that it never did.

Beside her peaceful body, he lays a single red rose- beautiful in its own right- and tries not to think about how much the flower reminds him of her.

"I love you," he whispers to her body, and he wonders if she can hear him.

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He finds himself staring at a rose bush outside of her house. For a moment, he just stands there and stares before he extends a hand to rest on the flowers. "Rose."

He pulls one off, fingers it. He almost doesn't notice when his hand catches on one of the thorns and a droplet of blood comes flowing out. It's almost like having her back, because she always smelled of roses, ironically enough.

With most things that remind him of her, he has the desire to stomp on them and basically obliviate them. But this flower, he thinks, is different. It has a certain beauty to it.

He decides to take it to her funeral and give it to her then. Somewhere deep inside, he knows that she would have loved it.

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With her, he felt like he was on fire- like he was invincible.

Now he feels like his flame is burning down.

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Dear Rose, he writes on a single tissue that he's pulled out of his pocket, I love you. I miss you. There's honestly so much that I could say, but I just don't know how. You changed my life, though I don't know if you know how much. I wish you were here. Love, Scorpius.

He stares at the words- so incriminating in their own right, so unfair, especially the sight of their names so close in proximity when they cannot be. Then he shreds the tissue up into little pieces and lets the pieces float away on the wind.

He hopes that somehow, the pieces of the letter will make their way to her.

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Things can change in the blink of an eye.

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A/N: This is in fond memory of Evelyn. She was only on the forum for a few months, but she had a special place in our hearts. I love you, Evelyn, and I know you're in a better place now!

This is also for my NextGen fanatics- I love you guys and I'm here if you ever need to talk.