Gossamer hands reach out to stroke her cheeks and she's almost leaning into their touch. How bad would it really be to just give in? To just fall into the numbness that's been threatening to cocoon her for years now? To just slide into the nothing and let those fingers touch her skin, to see those eyes once more? To be tangible to the people she's loved? To smile with the people that have loved her?

She wakes in a start, bolting upright, breaking rugged as she clutches desperately to her sheets, holding to the silk linens for dear life. She tries to regulate her breathing, attempting in vain to cease her hyperventilating, but etched on the back of her eyelids as her eyes fluttered closed are their tattooed stoic faces. The eerie silence of her solitude begins to flood and drown and suffocate her and she tightens her grip on the sheets, teeth sinking into her bottom lip. Sweet, liquid diamonds plop onto her whitened knuckles, but she moves not to dry away the tears.

Because, if she is being honest with herself, the pain is too much and the fickle desire to be strong is fading away, eclipsed by the sickening truth that there is no one to wipe away her tears. No one to pull her into an embrace and their fingers down her tawny tresses. Because, if she is being honest with herself, there is no one left to be strong for.

There is a fleeting memory of a braveness she once took pride in. But that's all it is, fleeting, this recollection slipping through the gaps in her interlocked fingers. All that remains is an echoing void, the courage dwindling, withering, malnourished by the fear and emptiness that is all too consuming. The overbearing loneliness.

And she's there, swaddled in the blankets, sobbing, choking on the memories. It's too much, it's all too much, and each heartbeat brings a new face to mind. The faces that left her company and marooned her in this desolation, enclosing her in this seclusion, this heartache. She wants to give in to their calls, to simply close her eyes and remember.

But with the alluring temptation comes a knowledge. A knowledge that whispers to her that should she slip into the reveries, it will only hurt later. It will only bring a deplorable pain when she awakens to find them gone, to find herself alone, to find another cold, loveless night. Frozen fingers of bitterness cradle her fragile heart and she is lulled to sleep with the spectral lingering of loneliness.

And then she is dancing, twirling as the snowy fabric sways at her ankles. She is alone, but this is not new. This is not astonishing. Rather, this is the expected mundane. But as she spins inward, closing her eyes, a hand catches her own.

Her eyes flutter open in shock and her emerald eyes meet a painstakingly familiar caramel. He smiles that signature carefree grin of his, but he is translucent and his fingers gossamer against hers. She blinks and meets his younger self, wearing girl's clothes that she once placed him into. A young boy whom she had cradled on his darkest nights and sung melodies to chase away the nightmares. A young boy who had seen so much pain when he left, a young boy that she held dear. She has missed this boy and his quirky, errant curl and his zany laugh and contagious happiness. Their fingers part and she is gliding across the floor.

This time it is a soft, reserved smile that greets her, but kind blue eyes. She can't quite touch this ghostly being, but she clings to his memory. She is a child once more, a reverie of her nearly forgotten adventures. His chocolate waves are tossed in the gentle breeze and she recalls meeting him all those years ago. He leaves, and with him, her youth. Then there is an irksome character that catches her hand, but she misses him all the same. He flashes a toothy grin at her, fangs and all, dipping his top hat and blinking those heinous, mythic eyes.

She is older, her brunette hair cascading down her back, and she almost chokes on the tears. Grasping her hand as best as he can with his phantom hand, he pulls her close and she gazes into those indigo eyes, dulled by the diaphanous glean veiling him from her. She is twisting, twirling, dancing, hurting more than ever. This man she once loved, here to taunt her. He looks down at her through his spectacles and gives a delicate smile before she can blink away the tears.

To fill his absence is a pair of mischievous scarlet eyes, a bitter smirk, and dearly missed face that is an acrimonious stab to her barely functioning heart. She finally allows the tears to surface.

He lifts a transparent hand, but cannot catch her falling tears, cannot truly touch her.

And she is dancing alone once more, a pale flower tucked behind her ear, jade eyes watery. She feels an emptiness resonating inside and clutches at her chest. As if every dance partner, every treasured one, had taken a piece of her heart with them as they abandoned her. At this revelation, she drops to her knees, the abstruse music of hushed solitude ringing in her ears.

Staring down at her with apathetic glances are the faces of those who came into her life, those she loved, those who touched her heart, and those who took it with them as they departed.

There is nothing left, no one left, only the suffocating silence, the overbearing solitude. There is no one left. Subsequently, there is no one left to be strong for.

So she buries her head into her hands and weeps.

Because there is no escape. No avoidance. No liberation from this seclusion.

They whisper her name. "Elizaveta," they mummer. "Our dearest Elizaveta." They reach out for her with cadaverous fingers, but they cannot touch, they cannot embrace this broken girl. She is far too gone, and they are too far elsewhere.

Elizaveta Héderváry is of the lonely.

A.N. So this is another prize piece for arlechinna-rosa. She requested a song-fic for the song The Lonely by Christina Perri. It's absolutely gorgeous and you all should go check it out. NOW.

So. Hey.

The characters that Hungary danced with in chronological order: Italy (and the person mentioned leaving is HRE), Lithuania, Romania, Austria, Prussia.

Anywhoodles, I really like how this piece came out. Yay. And news! I have a new story coming out! It's called "απομεινάρια ενός μύθου" or rather, it will be as it's not yet. And I still need to work on "wonderstruck" which if any of you are fans of PruLiech, AusHun, or classic BTT madness, you might want to check out. ;)

Requests, as always, will be taken. ^^

Also: Special thanks to my darling beta, Vitula Joy. You're so wonderful and I can't thank you enough. Notice the lack of grammatical and conventional errors? It's all her.

xLayne