Lorcan looks confused and shocked when she touches his hand and Lucinda almost jerks her touch back but the warmth from his hand is comforting. It grounds her and doesn’t let her head stray to thoughts of flying and falling and feeling the wind against her cheeks. She’s much too cold as it is, as though the weeks of travelling through forests and pitching camp in inns and paying with whatever little muggle money she had (a small part of her curls her lips at the thought of muggles and muggle money, but that part is buried under memories of her mother telling her about prejudice and her father rolling his eyes in the background) for a hot cup of tea. Camping isn’t altogether unpleasant, though when she left, she was grief stricken and confused, stumbling around and scraping her knees on harden barks of trees. Perhaps when she went camping again, she would be better. That alone is enough for her to smile a bit brighter, the muscles of her cheeks sore from the foreign gesture.
“Oh.” she says lightly, but takes the washcloth anyway, thoughts about being inappropriate and unwelcome leaving her head as she focused on the task at hand. It’s easier to immerse herself in work, cleaning the cuts and pulling him closer to the sink, easier to fall back into the old Lucinda as she fusses over the bits of porcelain nudged into his hands. But the blood has gone and besides the bit earlier, nothing else seeps out from the cuts, even as she presses and removes the pieces of porcelain. She worries about smaller pieces being stuck inside and she chances a worried look at him, a small frown tugging at her lips.
It isn’t a sad frown, more disapproving than anything, and her brow is furrowed.
But her frown slowly eases into a relaxed look when he mentions the wolves and her head ducks back down to wet the cloth and dab at his hand. He may heal quickly, but it would do no good to get his hand dirty either way. She wants to frown at him, ask him how long it has been since he washed his hands. I hope you wash your hands before you eat, is at the tip of her tongue but the words get caught in her throat when he mentions someone moving around in the house. It makes her wonder if he hasn’t been on the upper floors and she wants to ask him. “We can go out.” she says instead, setting the cloth down and giving him a small smile, the corners of her mouth lifting only slightly.
She tries not to panic about what he said. Was…Was she haunting the house? Just the thought of it sent a shiver down her spine. Lucinda liked Saoirse, though she wasn’t sure what the Ravenclaw girl thought of her, but ghosts and ghouls just didn’t mix with her. She wondered where she would sleep. Surely not down here with Lorcan. Maybe she could sleep on the floor and he could sleep on the couch. They could take turns if he wants to be the gentleman. Lucinda wasn’t a delicate damsel and she had slept on roots in her journey here; a hard floor wasn’t going to give her nightmares. “Maybe I can go to the town nearby.” she says absentmindedly, pressing a kiss to the palm of his hand without much thought before releasing her grip on him. “Get some cheese.” She had noted some bread on the table earlier. Some cheese soup and warm bread would be lovely for dinner.
It doesn’t hurt, when she pushes and pulls his skin apart, extracting pieces of porcelain. He studies her as she works, wondering if it was so easy to just focus on what was in front of her. More importantly, he wonders what she’s thinking. What could she be thinking that is so different from him? Watching her work, it does set something in him, that..she’s comfortable, working like this, and that she doesn’t look as fragile, and skittish. He tugs his lips to one side as she wets the washcloth again and puts it against his skin.
His entire mood lifts, as she says she can go out too. She didn’t want to sleep, nor be alone. This is good, to Lorcan. They could go outside, and…he could show her around? Yes, yes, he thinks to himself, that will be good. Though not the tree, definitely not the tree. Though around the house, yes, and to the edge of the forest. We, we, can go out. He forgets for a while, that it shouldn’t be ‘Lucinda and Lorcan’ we, and another we, because, we is more important than anything.
We is not I, and ‘we’ is not alone.
Smiling more than he has this entire meeting, he nods. “Okay, we can go out.” He repeats slowly, feeling all of the pain, and the sadness fade away. Surely, this is only temporary, but at the moment, it feels good. He looks at her, smiling, but she’s not smiling back, not really. She had, but that wasn’t a real smile. He doesn’t quite understand. They were not alone, and that is good enough for him. For the time being, of course.
Then she says that she, she alone can go to the town, and his smile falls. The town was a nice place, yes, happily magic among the muggles, but it is weird, thinking of Lucinda going there. “Okay, that’s good.” He nods again, watching her kiss his palm. At least he’d felt that. It calls something back, something that she’d said, or he had said. He chuckles to himself, softly. “Cheese, cool. Cool, cool, cool.” He mutters and walks away from her. “We can go whenever you’d like, really. It’s still light outside, so everything is open. I think there is a bloke down in town who does cheese, but I really don’t remember.” He shrugs absently, pushing his chair back in.
Graduation was more of a Eulogy in his opinion. Or, he had wished it was more of the former. Graduation was supposed to be the best time, and it wasn’t. It was the worst time. He wasn’t even happy that he would leave this place. He often thought of begging to stay. Just so he wouldn’t have to face the castle alone.
Alone, because…he shook his head, looking down at the ground. It wouldn’t do to think of those things, it had happened, that’s what everyone had said. Move on, that’s what some others had said crudely when they thought that he wasn’t listening. They didn’t know that he had incredible hearing.
He held the picture, the picture in his hands, before crumpling it up. Not to ruin it, just so that it was closer to him. Balled up in his tight fist felt better than a flat sheet that was accessible to the wind. He wondered again, if it was his fault. If any of it, was his fault. Though he stopped himself again, no, bad thoughts led to worse thoughts in his mind. And, try as he might, nearly everything led to a bad thought. He looked up, looking for a friendly face in the sea of ecstatic graduates. People who he’d spent the last seven years with, people that would get to go home, and celebrate over the summer.
Lorcan doesn’t know what his summer would be like, if he even had a summer. There were…things to do, places to go, and stuff to bring along. He had tried looking in the woods again for her, but to no avail. So now he sits in the courtyard, with a balled up picture in his hand. He tried to look…alive, normal almost. But people seemed to excuse his behaviour. He frowned, and looked up, seeing someone walking forward. And, the small semblance of a smile worked it’s way onto his face, because it was his best friend coming his way.
She finds rage all consuming him. (It’s easy, she’s learned, to find her sadness turning into hatred, and then fuelling into fury). It wrapped her bones in sinews that feels all too familiar, and yet strange too. Funny, she thinks now, how growing cold inside had somehow made it so much easier to find herself letting the anger coursing through her veins boil and stew inside.
(They, Lorcan calls them.
They were her parents.
They were dead.)
Saoirse turns at her heels, giving her brother one last look before her hands find the jagged edge of the map. Her nails digging deep into dry parchment, scratching. For a moment, she hesitates and in her mind she remembers the a brief flickering memory - one of her mother standing beside her as she tacked the map against the wall and asked her then where is home, Saoirse? Her eyes drift to Ireland. Empty Ireland; away from Britain, sitting in the sea with barren lands and colder winds.
Lorcan won’t like it when she tears down the map from the mall. But the dead must remain dead. And things like the map must be kept hidden, buried away. She takes a deep breath and in one swift move she pulls at the map from the wall, the parchment crumpling in her grasp.
Lorcan watches her closely, and hopes that she listens. Though she never listens, not to him, and she seems set on doing this. The look she gives him, is cold, and angry, and he doesn’t know what to do. “Don’t,” She has her hands on the sides, and she’s going to tear it, to rip it off the wall, and that wall…he doesn’t know what that wall looks like without the map there. Perhaps when he was smaller he’d known, but that wall, covered with the map, it fits, and it’s natural.
Don’t, don’t, he stands up quickly, trying to get her to look at him, but she’s looking at the map, as if conflicted. “Please, don’t. It’s supposed to be there.” He sounds like a child, pleading with her over a stupid map, but it was their parents, and it’s theirs now and it’s not fair.
The crumpling of parchment blares like sirens in his ears, magnified making him wince at the sound. He looks down, at the ground, shoulders curved inward as if he’s afraid of being struck. Like she’d throw the map at him. He doesn’t want to look up, to see the wall barren.
Swallowing heavily, he balls his fists, unspeakable sorrow comes over him. It churns in his chest, through his heart, and manifests itself into anger, anger, directed at his sister, and he’s scared, because he’s never been angry at her before. Yes, for stupid things, but he had told her not to, and she did it anyway. He blinks rapidly, standing stone still, and clenches his jaw. “Why did you do that?” He asks quietly, not sure he wants to know the answer. “You shouldn’t have.” He wants to yell at her, and make her feel bad for what she’s done. Their father would’ve been cross, and told her to put it back, though Lorcan is her brother, and not her father.
He finds himself backing away, “You shouldn’t have done that, Shershie.” And turns on his heels, wolves close behind him. He runs out of the house, not wanting to be there. He doesn’t want to yell at her, but so much of him does, it’s frightening. It’s toxic, the very air he was breathing inside the house, turned to ash in his mouth. He wanted it to be a good homecoming, and they would…well, he didn’t know, but it was all ruined, and he doesn’t know what to do. The only thing he does know, is that he can’t take out his anger on her, even if it’s caused by her.
Lorcan’s hand is bleeding, red against pale skin, that much she can see from the corner of her eye. Her fingers itch to go to him, to fuss over him just for the shake of fussing over someone, but she can’t move, can’t breath because he doesn’t need her. Lorcan isn’t her little brother, he isn’t a child anymore and if anything, he would probably push her away if she tried to help. No one needs you anymore, her head supplies and it echoes through her body and makes her shiver. She doesn’t realize she’s crying until she chances a glance at him and the cool air tickles the tear tracks down her cheeks.
No, he says and it’s dead, dead like her brother, dead like her father (oh God, how she hated him, but she loved him all the same and it was too much, too much), dead. But Lorcan is alive and Lucinda wonders how someone so alive, how someone who was bleeding, could sound so dead. She doesn’t feel anything, doesn’t feel any better but she doesn’t feel any worse. Perhaps this is the worse she could feel, the shaking and the gasping and the urge to feel wanted, the need to have a purpose. Pitiful, and the voice in her head sounded like her stepmother, spiteful and haughty. She wants to smack it away, the voice, but she can’t move so instead she sinks back into the hard wooden chair, head ducked down so low that her neck starts to ache.
The pain is uncomfortable now, nothing like the heat against her fingers from the tea, and she wants to look up but something stops her. Embarrassment, perhaps, fear. No, he says again and again and she wants to slap him. She understood, did he have to tell her again? Did he have to remind her that there was no one that required her assistance, no one that needed her to be the roots? Lorcan would never do that, she thinks to herself. Lorcan is too good and too lovely to do something as mean as that and it’s the worry that makes her look up. Something is wrong and even though she’s shaking and scared, she’s still worried.
It looks like he’s in pain, like he’s confused and she wants to reach out but she can’t, suddenly self conscious and doubting her friendship, her whatever it was she had with Lorcan. Her lips part to ask if he is alright. Nothing comes out but a cough and she feels weak and tired, more tired than she had ever been before. Sleeping looked like a very good idea, sleeping and sleeping and never really waking. But there’s something suddenly in Lorcan’s eyes that remind her of that boy she met in school, the tinge of confusion in his furrowed brows that used to make her laugh because she knew something that he didn’t. It wasn’t never a malicious laugh, never meant to mock. To tease, maybe and she starts to calm down, taking jerky inhalations of breath that cool her body. “Lorcan.”
She wants to smile but she isn’t sure, so she gets up, nervously, from her chair and inches forward until there are only three steps between them, approaching him like she would approach a scared animal. She still feels weak, still feels tired but she needs to be strong now. Be strong for him, and it fills her with an odd feeling that makes her want to laugh. She manages a smile for him though, not much else. She doesn’t know what to do. A wild part of her wants to kiss him, soft and sweet and just give and let him know how much she cared without really saying anything.
“Can…Can I?” She holds a hand out, hesitant, wondering if it was alright for her to tend to the bleeding. “Lorcan, you’re bleeding.” she says, as though he doesn’t know. Maybe he doesn’t, but she tries not to think about that. Her fingers graze the back of his hand lightly before her eyes dart up to stare at him.
He had said no, and yet, she stands before him. There’s something in him that wants to embrace her, to hold onto something. Though he’s learned that something human, something that can move of it’s own volition, something like Lucinda, can leave, and never come back. That alone makes him stop and stare at her.
What does she want, exactly?
She says his name, and doesn’t want it to be his name anymore. It’s dead, dead, dead. Like he should be, he should’ve died when he was five, along with their parents. It’s a cruel fate that they should be gone, and that…she should leave as well. Alone, he is now.
Alone, and he wants to wallow in it, but he’s never been very good at it. Whenever misfortune had happened to him in the past, he’s looked on, he’s looked past it, for her sake. Only for his sister, he didn’t let her see him cry after the funeral, or even before. When…when he saw her, the last time, he hadn’t cried either. At the time, it didn’t seem like the right thing to do. And now, in front of this girl, nothing seems like the right thing to do. What was he supposed to do, what did she expect of him? She wasn’t his sister, nor would she ever be as close to him as that.
No one could take that away.
Though Lucinda smiles at him, and even though it shouldn’t be there…broken people don’t smile, it’s nice. Nice, and bright, and full of light. Lorcan doesn’t smile in return though, and he fears he’s forgotten how, though hadn’t he before? He had, but he can’t right now. She’s so close, to him. So close, but not so at the same time. They’re so far apart from each other, even when in close proximity.
Now she asks him something, but he doesn’t understand. Can she what? Can she what? Those are the only words that she seems to be able to form, and it just makes him furrow his brow. ‘Lorcan you’re bleeding’ and he raises his hand, not too keen on believing her, but there is his palm, and there are the small cuts. His lips twerk as if he is smiling, “Oh, I am…” He stares at his hand, then feels her hand on his other one and freezes.
Looking back at her, he meets her eyes with an intensity, confused and utterly lost as to what is happening. He keeps calm, through everything despite his addled mind, and shakes his head, “I’m a, I’m a fast healer.” He scrunches up his face and turns away from her, digging out a washcloth from a drawer. “Here, if you want.” She seems to be itching to do something, but this something, it was touching his hand, and even though that unsettles him, he looks at her, and sees her need to do something. To help, in someway, and she, she’s his friend, right? Friends help friends, so in a way…he’d be helping her. And she’d think…that she’s helping him.
“I’ve got to…” He trails off, looking out the window, “After, we can go outside, the wolves…they like to go, outside, I mean. It’s nice.” He speaks quietly, almost like he doesn’t mean to talk at all. Maybe she wants to go to sleep…”Or, or, you can sleep, and we’ll all leave, so it’s nice and quiet. T-The house creaks though, a lot. Sometimes… it sounds like there’s someone in here.” He gives a sad bout of laughter, and grins, “Moving around, especially on the second floor.” He looks up fearfully, but shakes his head and shrugs, “But there isn’t anyone.” He says all of this while he holds out his hand for her to clean. It’s almost as if by talking he’s letting himself focus on something else, but the words, the rambling he’s doing, is almost invasive, she doesn’t need to know these things.
She’s still, unmoving and averting her gaze from her brother. There’s a firmness in Lorcan’s voice that makes her flinch. It’s unfamiliar and it tightens her chest and, with her fist in a ball, digs and scratches her nails into her skin.
What did she want to do? Her mind draws a blank. Nothing. Perhaps, if her memory doesn’t fail her, she could still find the library and she could stay there forever; inhale the scent of old books, dry paper, and dust. Maybe she could open the window and let the sea salt air enter the room when it becomes too suffocating. Let the sun seep through the mossy glass window. Let the birds sing.
All this, she thinks - all this she wanted to do without Lorcan’s company.
From the corner of her eyes, she could still see the map and the four pins tacked on it. Perhaps, a part of them will always remain in Romania. The small parts of them that died with their parents. Lorcan, she thinks, had to be the older brother who held on to her hand during their parents’ funeral; be the mother and the father too, when she couldn’t sleep at night, when she wanted her hair braided the way their mother used to. (It tangled and twisted and knotted, instead) And her - something and it’s been eating her alive from the inside out for years.
“Why do you want to keep it, Lorcan?” she snaps.
The map is a reminder of what they had lost and Saoirse would rather see it tear down and burn into ashes until it was no more.
“Take it down,” she retorts back. “Or I will do it myself.” The threat is sharp and she means for it jab at her brother until he complies with her.
Her voice is quick back at him. Why? Why, she asks, and he looks up at her, almost dumbfounded. It was their parents, they had made it for them, it was their past. A million and one reasons stick out to him, but none of them he can verbalize. He looks at his sister, changed though she is, so is he. He won’t be so easily swayed.
He’s upset, looking at her, at her as she demands that he takes it down. He doesn’t want to fight with her, no, never that, nor does he want their homecoming to be marred with a fight. But this, this he will not stand for,. This was their parents map, their map, it was a part of their family…Is a part of their family.
“Because it’s ours, and they…they liked it.” Underneath her gaze, he can’t help but feel childish, and small, even though he well towers over her. He’s done everything his entire life on behalf of his sister, he’s always done everything she’s asked. Not this.
“No, and no you won’t. It’s not- It’s not…” It’s difficult for him to speak up, to stand up to her, for this map. A ratty old thing, in reality, but it meant something, and still means something. It was a reminder of what they had lost, but also of what they had. They should keep it in memory of their parents, shouldn’t they? That was the right thing to do, he felt.
“I’m…the oldest, okay? I don’t want it to come down.” He looks at her, not all too authoritative.
I didn’t. Lorcan doesn’t go into detail, doesn’t explain what he means and Lucinda is left puzzling over the true meaning of his wors. It was never like this before. Lorcan was simpler then, almost childlike and fun. He lost his sister, she reminded herself, you can’t expect him to be the same. A small part of her is almost disappointed. She ran away from home to look for him, to look for some familiarity that would settle the uneasiness she felt in her stomach, but what she found was someone entirely different, a different person who looked like Lorcan but was nothing like the boy she remembered. You didn’t, what? she wanted to asked.
You didn’t give up?
But she knew better. She knew there was something wrong with him, something inside that wasn’t the same. For all that she had been through, Lucinda knew she was essentially still Lucinda Talkalot. She would force herself to smile for her friends and eventually the lies would turn into truth. She would hide her tears and determinedly glare at anyone who brought her family up. She knew she could survive London and it’s pureblood society. But still, she left for someone whom she thought was dead until a few weeks ago. Someone who didn’t look for her, who didn’t care.
Her fingers were idly brushing against the heat of the cup, moving away when it got too painful but then returning for a while. Pain was good, it calmed her, grounded her. If she didn’t want something to hold onto, Lucinda would have hopped onto her broom and flew and flew until she dropped from her broom. (A small part of her is alright with that fate, but she can’t, she can’t because she’s a coward.)
The glass shatters and she glanced up, eyes staring at Lorcan as he got up to clean it. Her head instinctively turns to look for a small figure, a skinny boy hiding behind the couches, playing hide-and-seek. She knew he hated loud noises, she knew he would run to her and she waited for the impact of his bony elbows kneading into her side but it never came. He’s gone, she thought to herself, no one needs you anymore. And somehow, that hurts the most. The feeling of not being needed. It makes her suck in a deep breath and she starts to gasp for air, digging her nails into the table. “Am I…” She’s almost afraid to ask.
What are you to him, her thoughts hiss poison into her head and she visibly shakes. “Am I needed here, Lorcan?” Tell me yes, tell me no. She doesn’t know what she wants. She wants to stay but somehow the thought of pretending, of going home is appealing. Staying would mean getting hurt but she wants him, wants to protect him, she wants to help and she curses the day she started caring for him, starting caring for someone who was so lovely and so different. Someone who isn’t her, who isn’t corrupted, who hasn’t stolen and lied and pointed her wand with malicious attempt.
Wrapping up the glass in his hand, he dumps it in the sink. It doesn’t bother him that some of the glass has prodded his skin. It doesn’t register in his mind that he’s even bleeding. All he sees is the shattered glass lying in the sink, and the girl at their kitchen table, with their mug, and their tea, sitting in one of their chairs.
It should’ve been ours. He thinks. His and Saoirse, the only reason he even wanted to come back. What was he even doing here? I have nowhere else to go. He says back to the thought. What was he if he didn’t have this castle? A homeless orphan boy with two large wolves, and a dead family. If his family was a tree, it’d be a bare one, without leaves in the dead of winter.
He turns about to see her breathing heavily, and he almost doesn’t care. He doesn’t want to care, because she’ll just end up dying eventually if he does. Everyone that he’s ever cared about has died, and that wasn’t fair to Lucinda, who didn’t bear the cursed last name D’Eath. She’s shaking, and tries to say something, but it doesn’t come out quite right. He’s still avoiding eye contact, as he eyes the sink, hands clenching the counter top. The question, the question bores itself into his mind. Needed, he didn’t need anyone any more, all he needed was himself, and come to think of it, he didn’t much need himself anymore.
There is nothing for her here, nothing that a broken boy could give a broken girl besides a broken home. There was nothing that he could do, the pieces they both brought made a puzzle that ended in disaster, and sorrow. He can see it clearly, as he stares into the sink. Much like the glass, it can fall, and shatter. The lines are so clearly defined, no glue, no life holding anything together.
“No.” He says, looking back at her, looking into her eyes. It would be so much easier for him, he could go back into his cot and sleep, and sleep, and she could go home, if there was one waiting for her. One that belongs to her, for this belongs to him, with all of his ghosts. He doesn’t want her’s to join them.
All he can see is darkness, if she leaves, he’ll go back, and he didn’t know when he’d wake up. Maybe he’ll try to sleep until he dreams of his family, and his sister, until they’re the only thing he can see at all, and the castle and the wolves forgotten, just a memory. The last piece of his family was him, he was the missing D’Eath, the only one alive, who lived among them, but could not see them. He looks away from her, and mutters, “No, no, no.” Over and over and over again, until it amplifies, as a response to itself. He’s saying no to himself, then back again until the room spins.
He doesn’t want to think these things, this darkness, it has a hold over him, and he doesn’t want it, and it’s scary, so very scary. Though for the first time, there seems like there’s light, the light to pull him out shines dimly in the distance, like a tunnel in the ground, but he’s looking up, up, and up again. Into the very depths of the sky itself. To the very core of the earth burning hot, moving sunlight, like lava from the top of a snow-capped mountain.
Everything makes sense, but it’s too much, he looks back at her wide-eyed, brows furrowed. She’d asked a question, but he can’t remember what it was. Needed, she needed something, and he’d said no, and that wasn’t him, that was the darkness, and he swears he’s going mad. The darkness isn’t a thing, but it feels as though there are hands at his feet and at his neck, but there’s Lucinda in front of him, and he can’t just fall over. He feels his head go light, but he can’t go, he has to stay, for a little while longer, because she’s shattered, but she’s also light, and she’s not needed here, but she’s the only one that’s come. When all others have left, or gone away, she’s the one that’s here now, and that’s what he has to focus on. He looks at her, cold, and travel-worn, and he feels terrible, for all of what’s happened to her. She’s a good person, she doesn’t deserve this, he thinks, though bad things always happened to good people in his life. Or, he’s the bad person.
He’s the bad person, and he’s afraid, but he just looks at her, and shakes his head, and tries to speak but no words come until finally, “St- you can still stay.”
Lorcan is a child. Ridiculous, Saoirse thought, of how her brother could think of the dead as something other what it is. The dead is dead. Not sleeping. Like their parents - her eyes dart back to the map, to the four figures that have remained static for more than a decade - they were dead. Just dead. But she resigns, bites her tongue, and in silence, agrees with Lorcan. Sleeping or dead, she too didn’t want to to venture deeper into the castle. But she would never say it out loud.
She turns to look at Lorcan; sees a smile on his face but she can’t tell if it’s a nervous smile or something more eager.
Her gaze returns to the map and she traces the outline carefully. Is it theirs to touch? The Old Bat had always made sure they didn’t touch anything in her house. She had slapped Saoirse’s hand before for trying to reach out to touch a small statue on top of the mantle. Her hands twitch in a brief moment of hesitation as she juggles with the idea of putting the four pieces back to where they all belong.
(Which of the pieces should she move anyway? Only two or all four? Her parents lie in the crypts; it’s only her and Lorcan. Uncertainty sits heavily on her chest, twisting her insides with contempt and bottled fury)
Instead, Saoirse remains still and looks back to Lorcan. “It’s stupid,” she says, her fist turning into a ball. Tensed. Contrived. “That map is stupid. Put it down.” Sneering, she turns away from the map and continues, “Why would we even need to clean the kitchen? No one’s used it. I’m sure it’s clean enough.” Or gathering dust.
Another blunt statement is like another blunt knife to the chest, and more importantly, the heart. Though what did he really expect? For her to be all happy now that they’re home? Yes, he thinks. He had thought that this would solve everything, that Saoirse would be happy. He only did it because she belonged at home, she didn’t have any real memories of it, not like Lorcan did. And it was as much her’s as it was his.
So why was she rejecting it? Calling it a dead place, and that the map of all things should be erased. “No. I won’t.” He says firmly, he’d never take it down, it should stay there, no matter how much it hurt.
“It’s not stupid, and it’s staying.” He looks at the map and not his sister, as if committing it to memory. Saoirse might just take it down anyway. She shuts down his idea of cleaning the kitchen, and this isn’t going as he had planned.
He had imagined, when he was younger that they’d come home, and make this place their real home again, the two of them, for their parents. They would’ve liked it, they would’ve wanted them to. “We have to do something,” He shrugs, not saying anything more. He doesn’t want to be shot down again by her. “What do you think we should- or, do you want to do?” Maybe asking her what she herself wanted was the key. Though he was afraid that she’d answer, and he wouldn’t like that. Then again, he’s discovering that he doesn’t quite like much of what she says.
Saoirse hesitates as she sets the suitcase down on the floor; her shoulders easing now that it’s free from the weight. Summer is too excitable and yet still, he remains just a few feet ahead waiting for her to follow him into the living room.
This is home, she thinks to herself as she musters the will to finally take a step forward. Home. A place that theirs. Truly, truly theirs. It’s a reminder that somehow, stepping into this dead, stone castle should make her feel better immediately. Like a sudden rush of warmth and lightness that she and not felt in a while.
It doesn’t. Not even a little.
The house had died the same day their parents were buried deep into the ground. And just the same, it buried itself in years of abandonment. It’s been dead for years; or perhaps just still and unchanged after all this time, waiting patiently for their return. Lorcan is the only life within it. Him and the wolves.
Stepping into the living room, a memory resurfaces. It’s dim and faint but it’s there. Everything had been untouched; from the book lying on the floor by the couch that she had left the night before when her father had whisked her off to bed to the map on the wall. The colour faded; the pieces still in Romania.
“Nothing’s changed,” she mutters, hands trailing carefully over the edge of the furniture. Louder this time, she almost spits the words with her tone grim and blunt as it had always been, “This place is dead.”
Her words are harsh and unwarranted. They make him cringe unknowingly, and his body temperature sears instantly before returning. No, it wasn’t dead, he thinks, it was just...”It’s asleep.” He says, looking back at her. “It’s not dead.” He says quieter, “It’s not.” He never wants to call something dead, because of that fear, that he’d had at Hogwarts, the fear of the word that all of the people in the Hospital Wing had been afraid to tell him, and he just…didn’t like that word.
Things didn’t die, they just went to sleep.
“We just have to…wake it up, yeah?” He raises his eyebrows, looking back at her with a worried eye. He wonders if they should move their pieces back home, even….theirs, their mum and da. Should they touch such things? His palms sweat as he turns to her, “We don’t have to see the whole house. I-I don’t even want to yet, do you? We can sleep in the living room until we feel like it.” It’s too much too soon, he can’t go romping through the house waking up the ghosts.
He goes over to pick up both of their suitcases and puts them by the wall, out of the way. Sitting on the couch, he clasps his hands together and then apart, and together again. “We could clean the kitchen first, if you want. And, put the pieces back home, but you always liked doing that, so you can if you want.” He offers her a nervous smile while the wolves ran about, sniffing nearly everything.
It’s not how she remembers it.
The castle is cold and empty, sitting on top of a lonely, green hill. The walls are marred by shadows at night, in the late afternoons, in the early morning - that quiet time before dawn when light seeps through the thin curtain hanging by the window. The floor creaks with dead weight and a dead sound. The stone walls are aged, weathered by the cool Irish weather brought in by the sea.
Saorise remembers the warmth; of the sun spilling across the marbled stone floors, tainted with hues of purples and reds and blues and greens she had traced the outlines with the tips of her fingers. She remembers the laughter from her mother’s smile. Her daughter, the painter. Making art from cold stained marble and the midsummer sun.
They’re just echoes, now. Distant, somehow. She could barely hear them. Not when she only hears the yelp and the whine of Grey Wind from nearby, claws clattering against the floor as he rushed down the hallway. Lorcan too had been much enthused with their homecoming. Home, he said. Finally, home. Together - as they had always said they would; as Saoirse knew her brother had always planned for it to be.
She stands by the doorway for a few moments, waits until Summer tugs her robes as though to tell her to come inside. When she walks in, she’s cautious. Wary. Careful somehow as though she’s tracing within the lines of memories she couldn’t grasp.
(There’s no Nymeria. Nymeria had gone and left and remained lost somewhere in the woods; running towards the moon as if that’ll help her find her brothers)
“Lorcan,” she stands in the foyer, calling out her brother’s name. In her hands, she holds a suitcase. Reluctantly her grip tightens, unable to set it down on the floor next to her. Unable to let go just yet. “Where - where do I put my things?”
As much as he’s afraid of stepping back into the castle; their home, he knows he has to be positive, for his sister’s sake. And really, it’s all too easy, for him to be the first through the door, Grey Wind right behind his heels. Though, how long it had actually taken him to open the door, well, he’d lost track. He had to have made some story up, though now he can’t remember what it was.
It’s like a punch in the chest when he enters the main of the house, and sees the kitchen, and the living room. The long corridor, and the staircase. It’s all here, like an old photograph, like someone had frozen it. He drops his bags without thought, making Grey Wind yelp at the sound. It’s a harsh sound, long, lingering. It echoes about the house like an alarm, eluding to an unwanted guest.
He looks behind him, seeing his sister linger in the doorway. She’s here, and everything’s alright. This is what he’s been looking forward to his whole life. When they wouldn’t have to live with the bat, and they’d be together, with no one to bother them anymore. Home, he thinks, then says it softly under his breath, “Home, I’m home.” He’s afraid that it’s all a dream, that if he closes his eyes he’ll wake up at Hogwarts, or his aunt’s home. “We’re home.” He says, voice stronger. “We’re home.” He says to Grey Wind, and he knows his sister can’t hear him.
She’s too far, not even in the house yet. She can come in when she likes. He leaves his suitcase forgotten in the foyer, and steps forward, towards the kitchen. Everything was as he remembered, as if…nothing happened. Part of him wants to mess it up, to throw everything around, so it would reflect what had happened. The house should be outraged, it should moan and creak and break at the loss, but it stayed, stone still and silent as he nears the old wooden table.
He hears his sister call for him, and backs up, coming into her sights, “Saoirse?” He answers back, looking at her hands, knuckles white, gripping the suitcase handle. “You…can put them where you like, next to mine right there is fine for now.” He didn’t want to say she had to put them anywhere, least of all her room. Even he wasn’t too excited to venture deeper, to where the ghosts dwelt.
“Come here, look.” He says softly, walking towards the living room, where the map was. “It’s still here. It’s…all here.” His voice decays into a whisper, startled by the exact meaning of that. He looks at the map, not sure if his sister would want to. Where the castle stood, in Ireland, not one piece was there. Though everyone remained in Romania. They should be home with them, he wants to move their pieces, all of their pieces back home, where they belonged.