I read the book literally two days after it came out. I was so psyched. And then it ended and I HAD to write a fic.
But no plot bunnies came.
So I had a dream last night and it told me to write this lovely oneshot. That's all.
Her eyes slide open; glassy, vacant. She slips from beneath Her covers and Her socked feet hit the hardwood floor of Her room with a muted thud. She pads out of the room, not even pausing as She picks up the Sharpie from the bedside table.
She moves through the halls on auto-pilot, Her steps emotionless, and rightfully so. She pulls open the door of Ridley's room, not bothering to disguise the squeak. Ridley, thankfully, doesn't stir. She drops to her knees and glides the pink shag carpet from the trap door. She tugs it open—Lord knows that squeaks, too—and falls into the dim light, landing gracefully on the invisible stairs.
A lantern is burning on the desk, but instead of Macon, who She had come to see, She finds Liv. Red eyed, messy haired Liv. The blonde has a book splayed out before her, flipping anxiously through it. She stops and looks up at Her, her eyes wide and scared and scarred.
Lena gives the other girl five words. "I can't feel him anymore."
Lena looks like a zombie. Liv had honestly never seen someone so haunted, so broken. Hollow.
So she offers to drive.
Liv knows where they're going anyway.
They take the hurst, and piloting it through the dark proves to be a challenge. Liv is glad for the distraction. Lena is quiet the entire ride, eyes trained straight ahead, like she's seeing something more than the darkness that pressed at the borders of the headlamps. Green and gold and nightfall.
What does Lena mean? I can't feel him anymore. Liv knows. She just doesn't want to.
The hurst pulls off into the sodden soil of the field below the water tower. The headlights illuminate Ethan's car and one that Liv has never seen before. If you squinted, one could see a clump of people at the base of the water tower. They cast a shadow that climbs up the legs of the water tower like inky spiders.
Liv turns the car off and looks at Lena, who's face is as uniform as ever.
Despite the butterflies in her stomach, Liv gets out of the car.
Her insides feel warm and cold at the same time, like She iss being pulled out of an oven and into a blizzard. Shutters course through Her and She does Her best to disguise it from Liv. She pulls the Sharpie from the pocket of Her sleep pants and opens and closes it methodically. She doesn't want to get out of the car. She has to.
She tries Kelting one more time. It was all She had done the entire ride over, yelled at Him in Her thoughts.
Ethan, I'm here.
She pulls Herself out of the car and stands there with the door open for a second. She sees a hulking dark figure—Macon, no doubt—stand and walk Her way. In his wake he reveals what the small crowd is marveling over.
She's drawn forward like a fly to a lamp.
Her walking accelerates to running to sprinting and she doesn't stop, even when Macon intercepts Her. She's only two feet from Him. Does He know? Does He care?
She screams at Him. "Ethan!"
Amma looks up at her, tears shining in her deep brown eyes. She's knelt beside His head. Tracks of tears shine like candle light on her cheeks.
She beats at Macon until he lets go, and She falls to His side, mumbling His name like a prayer. Somehow tears have bubbled up and She's crying his name now, grabbing His shoulders and shaking them.
"Stop fooling around, get up you selfish idiot!"
"I know you're in there, you can't hide your heart beat."
She lays Her head on His chest, listening for the thud of His heart. Nothing comes.
She stares off into the distance, trying to recall their last words to each other. She couldn't remember, oh God, what were they?
"Damnit!" She sobs, leaving Her head on His chest. Soft hands grip Her shoulders and pull Her back from Him, but She wrestles away, clinging to His body.
Think, Lena, think. Last words…
She can only remember one thing.
She picks up His palm, sniffing and pulling the Sharpie from Her pocket. In shaky hand, she scrawls:
I will always love you.
She lets them carry Her away.
Car accident. Just like his mama. Everyone was crowded around the little plot in His Perpetual Garden of Peace. Despite the recent damage to the cemetery, the family insists Ethan be buried next to his mother. All of the people who didn't know Ethan stand closest to the casket, save Amma, Marian and Mr. Wate. Link stands in the back, his arm protectively wrapped around Lena. He's wearing a too-small tuxedo, which would have made her laugh on any other occasion. She leans into his side.
Liv stands to the side, John Breed holding her hand. Ryan hugs Ridley's surprisingly covered leg. The rest of the Ravenwood family observes the proceedings from several feet back.
Lena is wearing her charm necklace. She had found it that morning, laid out on her desk. She didn't know where it came from, but she felt it was fitting to wear it.
Mr. Wate gets up and says a few words, and Link tenses when he mentions Ethan's "ability to choose the best people". Lena looks up at him to see a pained expression, one that shakes her to the core. A tear roles down his cheek and she catches it with her finger, the presses her face into his chest to hide her own watery eyes. They hug for a really long time.
Things don't get better.
Eventually, Lena breaks. Only this time, no one is willing to pick up the pieces.