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"Anniversary" Empty "Anniversary"

Post by Sokai on Thu May 07, 2009 11:36 pm

The gravestone was so old it was just a hunk of rock, pitted, weathered and crumbling. It was so old that it barely seemed like a gravemarker any longer, the name deeply cut into the rock was long since worn away. The gravestone's ruin didn't bother Verse Swiftblade at all. A part of her found it fitting as she had never liked the stone much in the first place. His grave was empty, after all, and she found the idea of marking a lie silly, though she understood why the others had insisted on it at the time of his death. She had to admit to herself, however, that this thought was at least a little hypocritical; in the centuries following her first husband's death, she still visited this lie every single year on their anniversary.

His ashes were long since gone, dumped into the cold ocean from the ragged cliffs of his birthplace ages ago. She'd watched them whiped away in the furious winds, carried out of sight and out of mind. It had been hard to reconcile the idea of his body devolved into that rough sack of ashes, those few larger chunks of bone. Verse had never even liked the idea of cremation, but that was just one of the many things she and her first husband disagreed on.

So many years later, she found a similarity in the gray of the gravestone to the chalk grey of his long-gone ashes, and it brought a slight wry curve to her lips. She wondered how long it would take for the gravestone to crumble into dust light enough to be borne away on the winds, no lie left any more for her to spend their anniversary staring at and thinking. The idea was an idea of freedom and sorrow so wrenching she had to catch her breath despite the crooked grin on her lips.

Verse caught her breath and the scent of nothingness came with it. There was a feeling beyond the sorrow that came with the scent, one of a gentle, almost polite inquiry and ribbon of comfort. The Gift could be quite soft with her, just like the man who wielded it - or let it wield him.

"I'll just be a bit longer," she said in reply, unable to move her gaze from the hunk of stone.

"You should take your time," Reven answered, his tone lacking the boredom she usually heard. It filled with something that it took her a moment to recognize: cautious respect.

It was a tone so unfamiliar in Reven's voice that it actually made her laugh, that same sardonic amusement that she felt ripple through her when she thought of the lie of the gravestone and her husband's ashes falling away from her forever. Verse didn't hide from the fact that her heart hurt, deeply and starkly.

"Ah, should I? I've taken enough of it. I'm into the ninth century of coming here, you know." Her tone was light, jovial, but she was well aware he wasn't fooled. The Gift Reven had given her was like a conductor between them, long winding ribbons and chains of power and emotion, a bond stronger and deeper then blood. His Gift left runes on her skin and marks on her soul.

He took his time to reply. That was one of the things she appreciated in the man and one of the things she disliked, he never had a errant reaction, never a stray motion. Every action was considered, everything he did he first held and examined. Sometimes Verse had to work to figure where the control ended and the man started.

"You yourself told me that each being takes their own time to cope with themselves, correct?" He knew it was correct, but he was also as aware as she was that she needed to talk, needed words to pull herself from drowning in memory and reflection. She felt a rush of gratitude and it warmed the Gift between them.

"Aye, it's true, but...tell me. You've never grieved, have you?" She knew he hadn't, she knew he couldn't, but at this point in their...whatever it was they had, words were greatly superfluous anyway. But at the moment she desperately needed them to thrive, though he did not.

"No," came his simple answer and she knew his hair hanging about his face in spires was, at that exact moment, the same shade of gray as the lying gravestone, of her husband's ashes floating away.

"It's all shite that they tell you, about grieving. That time eases the pain, that it stops. Sure, maybe it abates now and again, but on the whole, when you think of it it hurts just as deeply as the moment he died, half a world and a crossbow bolt in the throat away."

"It sounds distracting."

Verse laughed outright at Reven's comment, finally able to move her eyes away from the where the name had once been carved and was now perfectly worn away. "No more distracting than the moment we fell in love."

Reven paused again, lengthily, and Verse waited patiently, feeling his Gift reaching out to her. It was to comfort her, in it's own way, in Reven's own way. Sometimes she had to work to figure where the Gift ended and the man started.

"There's very little divide between love and grief," was Reven's reply when it finally came, that and his Gift's reach. She could feel the Gift's warmth like waves across her skin and across her soul.

"No. And neither really ever stops. I couldn't fall out of love with him even when Galvan put a chain on my heart for the ages." Her voice was soft, mercurial joviality gone for weary acknowledgment.

"That's the source of your lack of control?" Reven asked, the Gift giving a hint of real curiosity. "Your distraction?"

She had to pause and reflect - it crossed her mind that maybe Reven wasn't the worst influence she could have - and nodded slowly. "I suppose it is, at that. The love and the grief, for so long...maybe 'tis a form of madness? If I let the power overwhelm, if I give myself into the pleasure and the fury of it, that storm and my heart become one. The pain is pleasure, the grief is love, and all's lost in the thunder."

Something about this touched Reven and he parted his lips to say something, but no words came forth. The Gift rippled and twisted sharply, sharp enough to make Verse inhale tightly as she felt it pluck at her very being. She felt the way the Gift flooded Reven, how for a moment it wielded him instead of the reverse. The Gift corrected Reven, padlocked and gated whatever her words had brought to bare. Sometimes she had to work not to cry for where the man ended and the Gift overrode.

In the deep silence the Gift's machinations made of the graveyard, a man who couldn't die very suddenly asserted himself, vibrant and wholly his own man. Verse smiled without sorrow for the first time that day as the breeze brought the scent of leather and whetting oil.

"Or maybe you were mad before the grief and the love, kitten, and the storm's trying to free you," ventured the voice of Galvan Swiftblade, just as calm as Reven's but touched with the same sardonic amusement Verse herself displayed earlier.

Galvan walked from the shadows of the huge evergreens surrounding the graveyard to his wife's side, moving past the Dimensional Lord without a care or glance. He took her hand tightly, and she grasped him as if there was a storm that would tear them apart. Verse looked to her husband with a gentle smile. He brushed a lock of hair from her rune marked cheek and murmured low, "I'd never miss this. You know you aren't the only one loving and grieving."

Verse didn't need words any longer, not with Galvan's presence. She slipped her arms around his warm body and clung to him while he clutched her close. There was nothing gray about Galvan Swiftblade, nothing crumbling, nothing ruined, and nothing falling away from her. She felt the Gift and the man wielding it compose themselves and vanish. Though they never left her, they gave her privacy, leaving her to the centuries old grief and to the centuries old love.

The Swiftblades held each other in the graveyard until the shadows of the evergreens grew so long they were no longer shadows and night fell pitch black around them.

"Happy anniversary, kitten," Galvan murmured into Verse's ear. The pain in his voice was familiar.

"I miss him," she whispered, matching him pain for pain. Galvan rest his forehead to her's, the strength of their embrace never wavering.

"So do I. You were right. Neither the love or the grief ever stops. But you aren't alone with it. You never will be."

"Pet," was all Verse could murmur before they kissed. It was either kisses or tears.

The night wind picked up, carrying flakes of the crumbling gravestone along with it.

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