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  • Beqanna

    version 22: awakening

    COTY

    GHAUL -- Year 209

    QOTY

    "(souls are not meant to live more than once — death was not meant to be temporary, and she is so sure that every time her heart starts to beat again that irreversible damage is further inflicted)" -- Anonya, written by Colby


    [private]  break these bones until they're better; for laura
    #1

    She can feel the creeping cold of the coming winter, the way it makes her body weary and her limbs feel heavy. It is still hard sometimes to accept that this body is hers now, these legs that look like slender branches, this skin that will never be soft or warm again. At night, in the dwindling moments where she can still find sleep, she still dreams of being a girl. Of the old body a shade of soft ash and crimson dapples, of an inner warmth and a thrumming pulse and the sound of her own heartbeat.

    Sometimes the heartbeat is all she dreams about.

    This body is quiet except for the rustle of leaf and flower - though now her flowers have turned to rosy apples in her hair, and soon they will rot and fall and stain the bark of her skin with their putrid sweet juices. She has not decided yet if this shames her, if it is as repulsive as she initially thought it was, or if perhaps she is just growing used to these new truths. But she knows this quiet body scares her, that it is so hard to lay still in the silence of deep night and wonder what it is to live and die. To be lost in these mortal worries and have no bump-bump in her chest to call her back, no gentle hush of breath in her lungs.

    There is only ever the quiet, so how does she know she lives?
    Sometimes it feels like there is nothing inside her.

    She is just like the quiet trees, tall and solitary, a universe within itself. Just like every flower yearning for the sun and summer showers, like every blade of grass swaying gold and brown in the autumn noon. Alive, and so quiet. Unnoticed.

    Except, she can hear them. She has never told anyone, never shared this secret or spoken it aloud for worry of what others might think. For fear of others finding her even more strange. She can feel the sorrow of a world during fall, the silent dread of winter months and waiting death. She can feel the heartbreak of the oak when her boughs fill with too much snow and her branches break and die beneath its weight. But she can feel the delight of the white silk seeds when they float free of a dandelion stem, too.

    The world is quiet to everyone but her, and she wonders, if she is like these things, is anyone listening to her quiet joys and sorrows?

    She rises from the grass in her patch of autumn sunshine, and she can feel the weight of the apples bobbing heavily in their tangle at the crest of her neck, hear the hum of bees buzzing amongst the ripe fruit. But her gentle focus is elsewhere, following the sad song of a cluster of wild violets as they brace against the cold. She can feel that hopeless yearning for more summer and more sunshine, more life where there is none left. She pauses to nose a branch aside with such gentle care, letting more sunshine slip through to her patch of violets as the bees continue to bumble gently through a mane of leaf and twig.

    linnea

    these wildfires grow and grow until a brand new world takes shape

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    #2

    how do I learn my dreams to mold, to lay them bare in the morning cold?

    He had been lost and then found.

    Found and then lost again.

    Although perhaps lost is not the right word for it. Can you be lost if you are the one to cast your boat out to sea? Can you be lost if you had purposefully slipped back into the fog and silence?

    Because he had—he had.

    He had gladly loosened his hold on this world and let himself fall beneath the waves. And he is glad, in some ways, that he had. Glad that he had missed the way his parents had torn apart. Glad that he missed the way his sister turned so savage—taking a kingdom and then turning her teeth on her supposed lover.

    Glad to have missed the cruelty that seemed to define his family.

    It did not leave him without the scars, but it did leave him molded by something else entirely. Molded by the howling winds and the yawning canyons. Molded by a loneliness that etched into his very bones. He became made in the image of his shadow, cast in the iron of his empty world.

    Still, he thought of her. Of the girl who had watched him fall through the portal. Of the girl made of vine and branch who had greeted him when he came back. He thought of the sweet sadness in her eyes. Of the way she made his chest ache as a young boy and the way he carried it with him now like a bruise.

    Even as he found his way back into the world of Beqanna, he feels the weight of it. Thinks of her even as he thinks of her magician of a mother, of his own tigress mother, the dragon who sired him. All of them swirling around in the back of his mind. The animosity between their families. The hurt—always the hurt.

    It feels like a dream that he sees her and he inhales sharply at the sight of her.

    He lifts a leg as if to step forward and then steps backward instead, letting the shadows reach dark fingers forward to curl around his legs, his chest, his neck. It obscures the iridescence of him but does not hide it completely. Does not shield the silver gleam of his hooded eyes as he watches her rise.

    Part of him wants to go to her. To ask if she remembers him. If she has thought of him the same way that he has thought of her, but the rust of years spent alone holds him captive, roots him to the ground. Instead, he reaches down and brushes his nose against a pile of leaves by his hooves. They come alive before him, bumping against one another, crackling and moving. He nods his head at them and the begin to tumble forward, half on their own accord and half carried by the wind as they move to dance around her feet.

    And he simply watches.

    nikolaus

    if they’re still out there then the chasm grows
    ( for all you know, for all you’ve known )

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    #3

    She knows the way eyes feel when they settle on the bark of her dark uneven body, can remember the way it felt when once upon a yesterday, the hairs along her slender spine stood on end. So she waits a beat before she looks up, giving those eyes the chance to move on because she can of course understand the urge to stare. She is strange by any standard, odd by any definition. But the feeling doesn't pass, and finally she lifts those shy petal pink eyes to find him. But the sight of him is like a lightning strike to her chest, and she is so sure that if she is brave enough to look down, she’ll find a hollowed mess of splinters gaping back up at her. 

    He is the boy from her childhood, the one she died to protect - would die for again one hundred times over even knowing what it is she becomes. He is the silver of every star in every sky, he is the raw ore buried in glimpses behind dark coal stone. He is the smoky black of half-night and the absence of light, he is the blue of sapphires she has never seen and never has to because she knows without a doubt that he is brighter. 

    He is Nikolaus.
    He is the boy that will forever hold the heart that no longer exists inside her chest.
    He is home.

    So it is a wonder that she does not immediately know him when she looks up from her sad violets and the song they break her heart with. That this flash of silver jolts something locked inside her memory - a kind of guarded recognition, but it isn’t this face half concealed by shadow and fully grown. Her mind remembers a boy with gentler features and an easier smile, with laughter on his lips and in the ore of his eyes. She knows him, but not this version of him. Not the man he became without her, and somehow it is too jarring to reconcile.

    Yet.

    Something inside her is a tide to the pull of his moon, and she cannot take her eyes off of him for fear of falling away into an oblivion without this new gravity. She takes a single step towards him, and then pauses again when the leaves rise and find a new life she cannot detect, a new depth she cannot feel. She watches, blinking those pale eyes like pink tourmaline, fighting tears that will never fall for memories she is so afraid to take hold of.

    But she knows, she knows.

    There is such pain as she reaches down to touch the dancing autumn leaves, letting them brush across the bark of her nose, his sudden appearance restoring an old ache inside her chest. To be touched, held. To feel a warmth long since stolen, a warmth gifted away for a far better cause. Her face lifts again to find him, and there is pain and relief in every knot and whorl as she closes her eyes to hold the perfect memories of him inside where they will always be kept safe. “You look very much like a ghost I once knew.”

    linnea

    these wildfires grow and grow until a brand new world takes shape

    Reply
    #4

    how do I learn my dreams to mold, to lay them bare in the morning cold?

    He had not expected the pain—so fresh and visceral as it sears across his chest. He hadn’t expected to feel this fresh ache in his bones as she looks at him and he is trapped in the memories of them. Growing up and hiding a friendship away in secret. Never understanding why they came from two sides of the same war. Laughing and running around and being free in a way that feels impossible now—forever lost.

    He finds himself trapped in the memory of being locked on the other side of portals.

    Of seeing death claim her.

    Of having the ice claim him.

    He remembers his mother bringing him home and doing her best to stitch his body back together. Of the way Linnea had been born anew into this beautiful body of bark and leaves. How she had looked so different from the young girl he had known and yet still so mesmerizing—still herself.

    How she had comforted him as the pain came over him in waves.

    The memories are painful and comforting in the same breath. It makes the distance between them hurt all the more until he is gritting his teeth, the muscle jumping in his jaw, the skin stretched tight over the grooves of it. He watches as the leaves continue their dance, swirling up around the slender bark of her legs and then falling to the ground, the magic he had gifted them with drained from them completely.

    Her words catch him on the edges of the hooks and he glances back up, silvery gaze mercurial. “Maybe I am,” his voice is huskier than the last time she heard it, rusted with disuse. There is still something of the boy that she had known though and it shows in a quick glimpse across his face, a shadow of humor.

    “A ghost that’s still allergic, I’m afraid.”

    A flash of white teeth and then nothing as the curtain flutters closed over his expression once more.

    nikolaus

    if they’re still out there then the chasm grows
    ( for all you know, for all you’ve known )

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