Merlin's Academy for Excellence
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     Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)

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    Amerix Skye
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    PostSubject: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Fri Feb 05, 2016 3:09 am

    "Bye, see you tomorrow!" Amerix greeted cheerfully as she stripped off her apron and gathered her sling bag, waving to the girl taking the next shift. As soon as she exited the ice cream parlour, however, her smile vanished and was replaced by that ever constant grim expression she wore when she didn't have to pretend that everything was alright. A quick glance at her watch told her it was a little past eight at night and she should be heading back to the dorms. But that was the last place on Earth she wanted to be.

    It was easy in the day. Smile. Nod. Be cheerful. Act like her parents weren't murdered. Act like she wasn't consumed with the need for revenge. In the day, everything was normal. But once the sun set, once she was alone in her room, the demons came out to play. In the darkness and in the quiet, her mind was a playground for thoughts. And what tormentors her own brain could be. She had not a single second to think about anything else and it was beginning to affect everything else in her life. Her grades were dropping faster than gravity could pull them down. She was relying more and more on the sleeping pills. No. She couldn't go back to the hell hole that was her room.

    Her footsteps led her out of Diagon Alley and into Avalon. She didn't know where she was going. All she knew was that she had to delay going back to campus for as long as possible. Tiqvah would be okay by herself. She had enough food and water and knew which door to use is she ever needed to go out. Amerix needed time to herself. For now. She passed by a few shops, not interested in what they had and not feeling the need to enter into any of them. She had just made up her mind to go to the beach and enjoy the fullness of fall when a shop caught her eye. Amerix paused in her walk and stared at the musical instruments in the display window.

    Without thinking, she'd pushed the door open and walked inside, the smell of wood assaulting her nose not unpleasantly. On the far wall, she spotted rows of violins hanging, waiting for masterful fingers to coax out a melody. She couldn't remember the last time she played her violin. It was sitting in her closet collecting dust. She certainly hadn't felt like producing music after that horrific night. Music used to make her happy. But the things she most enjoyed doing in life no longer appealed to her. Visions of her dead parents drowning in their blood robbed her of all sense of the pleasures in life.

    Sighing, she reached up and took down one violin, running her fingers over the gleaming wood and feeling tears gather in the back of her eyes. She caught sight of a bow lying nearby and picked it up with trembling hands. Excruciatingly slowly, she lifted the violin to her shoulder and tested to see if it was in tune. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and began playing Meditation from Thais by Massenet.

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    Gabriel Long
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    PostSubject: Re: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Tue May 10, 2016 8:27 pm

    The place was amazing, and Gabriel had to fight his excitement so he didn't go around with a ridiculous grin on his face. He had systematically explored the castle that was to be his home upon arrival, and it had indeed become home, although the excitement never really faded. It was a weekend, and not wanting to spend his time indoors, he decided to go out. Gabriel looked at a map and planned out the most efficient route, although which shops he entered and which he didn't would be left up to chance; if he liked the look of a shop or felt like going in, he'd enter, and if he didn't, he'd pass by.

    Flexibility with a schedule was the perfect combination, and, slipping his wand in one pocket and his hand phone in the other, Gabriel started out. The first few hours were uneventful, stopping briefly for a meal at one of the cafes before continuing on his path.

    One shop in particular caught his attention, though, and his steps slowed down as he glanced at the name. Dominic Maestro's. His heart gave a queer little jolt and a tinge of sadness entered his being as it did every time he saw it. His brother had loved that musician; more often than not, Gabriel's gifts to Brenton had been either albums or fan merchandise. Gab had been planning on taking him to an actual concert for his 10th birthday; how could the ex-Gryffindor have known it would've been too late by then?

    Unable to help it, Gabriel found himself heading towards that shop, although he himself played nothing other than sport; he was not musically inclined. It wasn't the first time he'd been drawn to it, and it probably wouldn't have been the last. Stepping inside, the first thing that caught his attention was the sound of violins, and his eyebrows creased slightly. If anything, he had expected the shop to be playing music by the man it was named after, not something that appeared to be classical. But, a few moments later, he realised that it wasn't a recording - someone was playing, and that someone appeared to be a witch around his age.

    Watching for a short while, he waited till she was finished before offering her a smile. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to seem like a stalker, but you're a really good player," he said, genuine in his compliment. Sticking out a hand casually, he added, "Gabriel."


    Last edited by Gabriel Long on Thu Jun 23, 2016 8:20 am; edited 1 time in total
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    PostSubject: Re: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Wed May 11, 2016 2:33 am

    She lost herself in the music, closing her eyes and trusting her fingers to move, pouring every emotion she could not name into the piece, letting it speak on her behalf. Music was a language that spoke when all other words failed. It gave meaning to emotions so deep no other language on earth could describe it. All her anger, her fear, her sadness, and her loss flowed from her soul into the song and it spoke what she did not have the courage to say. Every bar, every phrase, told a story, a scene of that horrible night she'd been a part of as the image of her parent's dead body haunted her memory.

    Her bow hovered over the strings as the last strains of the song echoed in the air, almost as if they were reluctant to leave the violin and end the piece. She opened her eyes and found that she'd shed a few tears. Then she heard the voice that broke the sacred silence. She lifted the violin from her shoulders but didn't turn around to face him and instead took a minute to calm herself from the riot of emotions, discreetly wiping the tears from her cheeks and composing herself. Keeping the instrument clutched tightly in her hands, she pasted a smile on her face and turned around, hoping that whoever it was that was there wouldn't notice her mood or if he did, wouldn't call her out on it. She was sure though, that if he was an instinctive person, he would see the haunted look in her eyes.

    "Thanks," she replied softly. Her won playing had surprised her; she'd never been able to express that much emotion required from the piece before. But after what happened, it became the perfect outlet to express herself. Her eyes dropped from his face just long enough for her to swallow the lump in her throat before looking back up at the Asian. She didn't recognise him but didn't expect herself to. She'd been living in a haze of sleeping pills, increasing the dosage each time it wasn't enough for her. "Amerix," she responded when he gave his name, transferring the violin and bow to her other hand before taking his lightly.

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    PostSubject: Re: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Sun May 15, 2016 9:13 pm

    The witch hesitated before turning, something Gabriel noticed but decided not to mention. Something wasn't right, though, but what exactly, he wasn't sure. As she finally turned, he read the smile on her face as faked, although he couldn't really explain how he knew; it was just something that was a fact, just like one couldn't explain how water tastes. Experience, he thought to himself, providing the answer for his own question moments later. But he said none of this aloud, instead returning the smile with one of his own - genuine and warm - and nodding at her name.

    The handshake lasted but a moment before he retracted. Physical touch was okay, he supposed, although neither parents were really affectionate in that sense. It was probably culture, and since he grew up both in America as well as spending a vast majority of his time in Hong Kong, he was used to both sides of the issue. Personally, though, long contact with people of the opposite gender made him uncomfortable, with Janine being an exception alongside family.

    Conversation with people was easy; meaningless casual talk even more so. But Gabriel was not interested in that. He wanted to be an auror because he had a genuine care for people, and also because he wanted to make a damn difference in the world. And one thing he knew for certain was that things like that started small, with one person; the world was not changed as a whole, but with individuals, one at a time.

    But how to approach the situation? She didn't know anything about him other than his name, and the only thing he knew was that she was named Amerix and she was hurting. About what, though, he wouldn't even begin to try and guess. Everyone had ghosts and everyone had their secrets and demons, and no two were identical.

    Risks were not something he took without calculation. "How long have you played the violin?" he asked, buying time with small talk while he debated inwardly.

    It wasn't till a few moments later - after she had answered the question - that he gently said, "Are you okay?" He paused, then offered a dry smile, indicating it was a rhetorical question. "No, you're not, are you." It was a statement, and his tone showed as much, but he waited for her to answer.
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    PostSubject: Re: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Thu Jun 23, 2016 3:44 am

    Making new acquaintances had never been Amerix's forte. In fact, she shied away from meeting new people and socialising. Oh, she wasn't unsociable; she could talk and chat if she felt comfortable with a person. With new people, it was different. She was always on the guard to make sure she did not say wrong things and her brain was constantly working to keep the conversation going. Activities like these were not pleasant to her, which was why it was unsurprising that she had to few friends.

    But with Gabriel, it was...different. He had a friendly, casual aura that put her slightly more at ease than she would normally be. No doubt, conversing with him wouldn't be as stressful a situation as it would have been with another person. At his question, her smile turned wistful and sad. She turned her gaze to the instrument in her hands and ran her fingers gently over the strings, the polished wood shining up at her. "Since I was old enough to hold it up. Papa and Mama dearly loved music. But I haven't played. Not since..." she trailed off, unable to say it out loud. Making it audible only made it more real and though she did not feel threatened by Gabriel, he was still a stranger to her.

    Her eyes slid to his at his question. Many people asked that question. And many more did not do so in sincerity. It was merely a way to show false concern, a phrase that lost meaning the more it was abused, a few words said only because it was polite to do so. She'd had the question posed to her so many times, she'd lost count of the number of smiles, nods and "I'm fines" she'd dished out in response. But coming from Gabriel, Amerix felt as if he meant it. Torn between giving him her standard answer and telling him everything, she was silent for a moment until he spoke again.

    His words startled her. Many people must have made that observation. She'd lost a ton of weight and looked like she needed a month's worth of sleep but no one had ever said it out before. They'd all just accepted her answer, furthering her assumptions that they did not meant the question in the first place. It wasn't like she wanted them to mean it. In truth, she sometimes found herself wishing that they did not prod further. But Gabriel's presence made her miss having someone to talk to, made her realise that she needed someone to talk to.

    "No, I'm not," she said quietly, her gaze again turned away from him and her fingers fiddling nervously with the violin though not making any sound. "I've not been for a long time."

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    PostSubject: Re: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Thu Jun 23, 2016 5:49 am

    Gabriel waited, watching how she interacted with the instrument in her hands; he was listening, but not just to her words, no. He was listening to what she didn't say, as well as what she did versus what she spoke. And now, there was no denying his initial assumptions were right - there was something off about her, as though no longer able to pretend. It was a feeling he understood far too well, and something that he knew meant she was probably at the lowest part she could be in whatever she was facing.

    But he said nothing as she spoke, instead nodding and letting the meaning of what she said register. He mulled over her words, wondering where she had been going with the last two. To bring it up or to wait? Gabriel debated the options internally, wanting to hear her out, but also not wanting to push past comfort zones, especially since she was a stranger.

    Then again, councellors and therapists were just that, and something about her body posture told him that he had already crossed whatever social lines had existed simply by being there. Still, though, he maintained the silence, simply waiting and allowing her the time to think. When her eyes met his, Gabriel refused to look away, instead holding it with a sense of serene calmness, as though perfectly normal to confront a stranger about their problems in the middle of a music store.

    She broke it first, and he did not miss the way her fingers carassed the instrument in her hand. Fiddling, a sign of uncomfort, and as much as he hated making others feel that way, Gabriel forced himself to ignore it. For the greater good, he told himself, an old cliche that he would never speak out loud but told himself often enough in his mind. Finally, she spoke, admitting what he already knew, and he nodded. It was obvious; anyone with eyes could see that much. It was a question of whether they cared enough to ask, and loved enough to hurt to heal, for answering was never an easy or painless thing.

    Words, Gabriel. Say something, he told himself, realising this was now the time for him to speak. For a moment more, he ran though things in his mind, treading as carefully as he could. Then, with a gentle smile, he softly asked, "Because of the reason you stopped playing?" He paused, jerked his head back a little in the universal sign of 'let's go' and added, "There's a quiet pub nearby. We could grab a drink and just sit until you're ready to talk." He left no option as to if she spoke, but rather, when. It was what Janina did for him, and it was what he was going to try and do for this witch before him.
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    PostSubject: Re: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Thu Jun 23, 2016 6:39 am

    None of her friends or acquaintances knew about that night. Except Haley, of course. But Amerix never talked about it to anyone. Not even Haley. Talking made it more real and she wasn't prepared to deal with the emotions that came with it. The unconscious realm was enough to deal with. The sleeping pills were barely doing their job of chasing the nightmares away and she found herself increasing the dosage each night she woke up in a cold sweat, gasping for air. She didn't need to deal with it in the conscious realm as well. But the cliche said that talking about someone made on feel better. Amerix didn't know how true that would be.

    She did not know what she wanted to see in his eyes as she looked at him but she found it anyway. He didn't make a big deal out of her words and behaviour. He didn't apologise and try to hug her and tell her that everything was going to be alright. He just stood there, steady and calm. Like an anchor in a storm. Her dad was like that. The memory made her blink back to the present situation. Right, talking to a stranger. The pills had a tendency to do that to her, make her lose track of her current environment.

    After her reply, Amerix expected the usual response of "Oh, I'm so sorry!" or "Do you want to talk about it?" or the more direct "What happened?" But Gabriel surprised her again by not responding the usual way. Again her eyes met his as she tried to decipher his reasons for wanting to talk with her. Most people would have just left her alone by now. It was almost as if he'd done this kind of thing before. He knew all the right things to say.

    Gabriel wasn't done with his bag of surprises though and Amerix was stunned at his offer to go to a pub. Was he seriously inviting a stranger he'd just met, who was so obviously depressed, to have a drink with him in a pub? Who did that? She nodded, not knowing why she was agreeing so such an insane idea. "Do you make it a habit to invite female strangers to a pub for a drink?" she asked as she gently placed the violin back in it's place. A short laugh escaping her throat as she spoke though it lacked humour. She hadn't laughed in so long that she'd forgotten how.

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    PostSubject: Re: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Thu Jun 23, 2016 7:07 am

    Spontaniety. Gabriel didn't like it. In fact, he despised it more than anything else in the world. Make a plan and stick to it. That was what he always told himself, and it was what he lived by. His plan for the day had been to explore the town and, if he was lucky, make a friend or two from the University. But never in his wildest dreams would he have ever imagined he would be standing in a music shop, asking some random female for a drink because she was hurting, in an effort to help. There was something almost poetic about breaking his 'stick to the plan' rule to help someone who was - like he had been - stuck in a cloud of ... well, life, when it was breaking that rule that caused his own 'cloud of life'.

    It's not really diverging from the plan, he consoled himself, trying to avoid the panic that would settle in every time he tried to do something like that. I said I'd go to shops and make friends. I never said I wouldn't help someone in need, right? Right.

    Her words, therefore, were ones that struck a chord. Habit. It echoed in his mind, and he shook his head - both in an answer and to clear it - before smiling. He couldn't help but notice the dry laughter, but chose not to comment, instead letting out a very slight (but genuine) chuckle. "I don't do things on the fly," he told her, simply. "My girlfriend, however, would." Pausing for a moment, he considered his words. It had multiple purposes. Firstly, to assure the female before him - Amerix, he reminded himself - that his intentions were not to take advantage of her in any way. Secondly, he was telling her that she shouldn't even consider taking advantage of him; that he was taken.

    Waiting for her to be ready, Gabriel went over what he wanted to say next. He didn't want to sound creepy, but he couldn't just leave the explanation at that; it wasn't sufficient in any way. Allowing a few more moments of silence, he led her to the door, opening it for her without much of a second thought and allowing her to pass first. Then, moving so he was keeping pace beside her, he continued. "I do know, however, that some things can only be said after some liquid courage, and I don't mean a potion."

    Grinning slightly at her, he went on. "Besides, this isn't something to be discussed standing up. When we do, it's easier if we're both already seated, rather than have to find somewhere to sit." He spoke casually, as if commenting on the weather or something equally as trivial, but making sure he didn't use words like "if". He knew more than anyone that, given the option, clouds of life were never discussed. It was only when people sat down and waited until you did speak that it was brought to light.
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    PostSubject: Re: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Thu Jun 23, 2016 7:58 am

    At the shake of his head, Amerix smiled a little. It looked like they were both heading into uncharted waters, doing things they wouldn't normally do and for a second she wondered why he would step out of his comfort zone for her. She wasn't worth his effort or his time. She wasn't worth anyone's effort or time. But his offer made it sound like there was no other argument to be made.

    When Gabriel mentioned a girlfriend, Amerix wasn't surprised. A caring guy like him would snag a girl pretty easily. But he hadn't needed to mention it. Amerix had no intention of dating any time soon or even go looking for a romantic relationship. She had too much to handle in her life right now. But it was good to know that his reasons - though she wasn't entirely sure of them yet - wasn't to play the pity card and flirt her out of her pants. Not that it would have worked anyway.

    She smiled as best as she could. "She must really complement you then," she commented. She had a handful of friend back home who were in relationships. Some of the couples had quite opposite personalities but somehow managed to get along well. It quite puzzled her sometimes but then she'd never been in a relationship so who was she to judge?

    She murmured a 'thank you' to him as he held the door open for her. Such politeness was almost extinct and it wasn't surprising that he had a girlfriend. With such manners as that, any girl could respect him. She listened as he talked nodding her head every now and then to show that she hadn't zoned out. She didn't plan on having any drinks with alcohol though. It didn't sit well with the sleeping pills she took, a lesson she learned the hard way. As he continued talking, she became more and more puzzled. Never had she met someone who could so casually talk about discussing personal topic. And he did it all in a way that still showed his concern.

    She didn't miss his usage of the terms when instead of if. He sounded so sure that she would spill her guts to him when even her best friend didn't know the extent of her depression. "You sound as if you've done this before," she said as they approached the pub. She entered, relieved to find that besides and old couple, a lone man, and staff, the pub was empty.

    She picked a table in the corner that would give them privacy and placed an order for a hot coffee. She wasn't sure where to start, having never done this before so she settled for some casual talk. It would be weird after all to abruptly tell him that her parents were dead. Hoping her social skills hadn't sunk to unreachable depths, she began. "You come here often?"

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    PostSubject: Re: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Thu Jun 23, 2016 8:28 am

    The comment on Janina made him smile softly to himself. She did way more than just complement him; she was That is to say, everything that he needed, she was. Everything he wanted, she was. Everything he never deserved, she was. But there was no way to convey this to anyone, let alone someone who he had just met - and, besides, it wasn't the time - and so he simply smiled and nodded. "Janina's my best friend," he told Amerix. "We have been since Hogwarts." It wasn't enough to convey everything that Janina was, but it was all he could say about it.

    He shrugged off the thank you. It was just what one did, and doing what was necessary never required thanks; you didn't get a 'thank you' for drinking water or eating, so why should you for opening a door? Gabriel never understood it, though Janina had tried to explain it to him a few times before. Still, he knew how to play the pleasantries game, and he did so well.

    The question wasn't one that he didn't see coming, but it still caught him off guard; Gabriel didn't know how yet to reply, and so he bought time by opening the door and allowing her to pick a table. They ordered - a butterbeer for himself and a coffee for the witch - and settled down before he gave her a half-grin and a shrug. "Yes, I've done this before; Janina sat with me for weeks before I said anything." Letting out a chuckle, he gave Amerix a knowing look. "Too many people told me 'if'. Too many people asked, but didn't want to know. Too many people chose not to see. Janina didn't. She saw. She said 'when', and she didn't ask. She told."

    He paused, his grin sobering up to a genuine and understanding smile. Looking her in the eyes, he gave another shrug, and simply said, "I saw."

    Small talk was something he expected. After all, it wasn't easy to let anyone in, especially not a stranger. Again, the irony made him smile a little as he nodded. "Every so often. It's not the best, but it's got decent drinks and food." Small talk, however, was also not something Gabriel was particularly good at, and so there was a slight lull as the drinks arrived, during which he watched the witch carefully.

    Finally, he knew he had to do something, much like the way Janina had done for him. The only difference was, she knew him inside out, and he knew nuts about the person opposite him. Nevertheless, he said, starting out in that casual tone, "Ever seen a champagne bottle popped? It's actually not as easy as it looks. The 'pop' you hear is years of gas sealed inside escaping." He let a few moments pass, and then lowered his tone to a gentle one. "It's hardest to start, you know. The rest is easy."

    Gabriel took a breath. He knew what he was asking was...probably the most difficult thing the witch would do, but also the best. "What were you saying, Amerix? Not since...?" he prompted, tone very soft and gentle.
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    PostSubject: Re: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Mon Jun 27, 2016 7:40 am

    Amerix couldn't help the smile that curved her lips when Gabriel spoke of his girlfriend. It gave her hope. Hope that love was possible, hope that even though the world seemed to be going insane, two people could find each other to navigate the dark waters together. She wasn't sure, but she thought she detected fondness in Gabriel's voice as he talked about Janina and it felt like a breath of fresh air after being underwater for ages. There was hope.

    "High school sweethearts then," Amerix murmured, a distant look in her eyes as she recalled her Beauxbaton days. The memories weren't very pleasant and she forced them away. "I've heard that love blooms the strongest between a couple when they're best friends first." Amerix could only dream of such a thing happening to her. Who would want her when she was so broken, when she barely knew herself, when she could barely keep herself alive? "She must be very nice," Amerix continued, though her voice had softened considerably since she was talking to herself more than to the man with her.

    To say she was surprised would be an understatement. She replayed his words in her head just to make sure she understood it correctly. Did he mean that...no, it couldn't be. And yet what if he did mean...but that wasn't possible. Or was it? She never thought that her parents would be brutally murdered in their own home, and yet it happened. It could be equally possible that Gabriel went through the same thing, or rather, something similar. Perhaps that's why he knew all the right words to say; he knew what it felt like to lose a loved on so tragically. His next words confirmed it. She matched his chuckle with a dry humourless chuckle of her own, nodding her head in agreement. "True. But it's not their fault when they ask sincerely and you lie your way out so smoothly even those who know you best are fooled," she commented, her finger tracing patterns on the table as she talked. "But for the people you described...they probably don't know how to handle the situation." She paused for a while and met his eyes before letting them drop again. "Merlin knows how many times I've turned a blind eye to someone hurting because I didn't know what to say or do."

    At the two short words he said, Amerix looked up and held his gaze. "Yeah. You did, didn't you," she stated, a corner of her lips tilted up in a half-smile. Her mind flew back to the words he'd spoken about Janina, how she saw and did something about it. She sounded like a very special person and if given the chance, Amerix would've like to get acquainted with her. It wasn't in her nature to want to meet new people but Janina sounded different.

    She nodded her head at his response to her question and felt relieved when their drinks arrived. She had no clue what to say next and sipping the coffee gave her an excuse not to speak. When Gabriel suddenly brought up champagne though, all the self-restraint in the world couldn't keep her eyebrow from rising in surprise. What? What does champagne have to do with any...oh.. Her thoughts halted when he explained himself. That was the best start she'd ever heard someone use to get the ball rolling. He must be a master at conversations. I should probably learn from him.

    But he was speaking again and Amerix turned her attention to him. She felt her body stiffen at his questions but a few tense seconds later, she deflated like a balloon, life draining out of her body. Her gaze stuck to the brown liquid in her cup, around which her fingers held a tight grip. She blinked, once, twice, thrice. How was one supposed to describe that nightmare? No words could ever paint an accurate picture of how she felt, what she'd seen. But she had to try. "Not since..I.." she began, then stopped to run her tongue over her chapped lips. Taking a breath, she tried again. "Not since two weeks ago."

    Those five words sliced a hole through her barricade and the emotions came crashing out. Tears streamed down her face and she struggled to breathe through the sobs that shook her body. She'd cried when she found the bodies, cried when she'd related the story to her best friend and a few nights after the incident. Then her tears dried up and there was only numbness. She hadn't let herself cry again but speaking the words broke her resolve. Both her hands buried themselves in her hair as she bent her head down, not wanting Gabriel to see her looking so pathetic. "They're..gone..gone, Gabriel," she choked out. "They're never...never..coming back. Ever." She took a few deep breaths in an effort to get herself together. "Papa and Mama are never coming back," she whispered. It was the first time she'd said it and reality hit her so hard she thought she would collapse under the weight. She tried to put up a brave front, tried to wipe her tears away, but they flowed out faster than she could brush them off.


    [[OOC: I didn't expect it to be this long :0 ]]




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    PostSubject: Re: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Wed Jun 29, 2016 4:39 am

    He couldn't stop the smile on his face when Amerix brought up the topic of love, mind already going back to the first time he discovered he had emotions for the witch. It had been so long ago, so distant, that it took him a few moments. It had been that way, too; he hadn't realised he thought of her as anything more than a friend until he woke up one day and they were just there. When or how they crept up on him, Gabriel could never be sure. Biting back the words, he simply nodded when Amerix commented on Janina's 'niceness'. Merlin knew if he started talking about his girlfriend he'd never stop, and this was not the right time for that.

    But that didn't mean he wasn't thinking it. Janina was... everything. He couldn't imagine a life without his best friend, and he couldn't picture not having her around.

    The conversation was going somewhere, at the very least. Hypothetical people, hypothetical situations, and yet both of them knew they were talking about themselves. "Can you really do that, though? If you know someone well enough, I'm sure you'd know when they were lying," he replied. "And, sometimes, it's best not to push. People need time, and they need space, too, but not forever. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is let them come to terms with their situation by themselves before stepping in." He paused, eyes glinting in a way that said he knew what she was getting at, and then added, "But sometimes, the best thing you can do is not allow them to drown, even if it that means they hate you for it."

    He nodded, understanding where she was coming from. Approaching someone hurting was always a tough situation, because there was that awkwardness of not knowing how to adequately react. What if you said something wrong? What if you ended up hurting them more? It was unpredictable, and therefore something Gabriel did not enjoy.

    But, just because he didn't enjoy it, didn't mean he didn't do it. Good sometimes meant doing things you didn't like or want to. "I think the only thing you need[i] to do is be there," he started, shrugging a little. "Although, you're right - it is always daunting, and not easy."

    He had done his part. It was all up to her. If she chose to stay silent, though, Gabriel didn't know what he was gonna do; he was, quite literally, out of moves. After all, that was all Janina had done for [i]him,
    and it wasn't as though this was his strong point, having just followed what had worked for him all those years ago. But, apparently, Janina's tactic was not just suited towards him, and he was the firsthand witness to the start of the dam breaking.

    In all honesty, Gabriel did not know quite how to react. It was one thing to be concerned and wanting to help; it was another altogether to actually see someone breaking down. This... Well, this wasn't something he knew how to handle, but there was nobody else around, and the one person he trusted to not break Amerix more - Janina - was not there. So, not allowing his slight discomfort to peek through, Gabriel got up and very quietly moved to sit beside the witch, placing one hand on her back gently as he allowed her to cry.

    Her words didn't make sense at first, though Gabriel didn't mind not understanding - as long as she got it out, whatever it was - but then she clarified, and he felt his heart give a lurch. In any other situation, he would have figured they had done a runner and left the poor witch by herself. But there was something about the familiar way with which she referred to them that suggested they were close. And, with the way she said gone, he knew. Be it his past or sheer intuition, Gabriel knew what she was saying when she spoke that one word, and he felt anger mixing with disgust and sadness.

    "Don't fight," he murmured as he watched. He didn't try and offer words of condolences, or of revenge. He had been there, too. He knew what it was like, and even though he wanted nothing more than to stop the hurt of the witch, he knew it was something she had to learn to cope with - cope, because it never truly went away. Not with something as serious as murder. "Ride it out, but never fight. You'll only gamble away your sanity that way," he continued, telling her what he wished he knew back then. It had been a tough journey recovering from that.
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    Amerix Skye
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    PostSubject: Re: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Sun Jul 03, 2016 7:57 am

    Amerix scoffed at his question and the sentence that followed, a hard and short chuckle escaping her lips. "If you know someone well enough, it's easier to lie to them. You know exactly what to say and how to behave to make them believe it's the truth," she replied. She didn't give a verbal response to what he said next, merely nodding her head to show she'd heard his words. It was easier said than done. Gauging the right time to step in was difficult and knowing how to broach the subject to the person was even harder. Getting them to open up instead of rebuffing you was nigh impossible if the person wasn't ready to speak about it.

    She smiled wryly. "Hard to do when the person doesn't want you there, don't you think?" In the aftermath of the murder, Haley was always there for her. She didn't say empty platitudes, didn't push Amerix to talk; she was just there. But Amerix didn't want her there at the time. No, she'd wanted to be alone. Merlin knew the hours Haley spent sitting outside the room Amerix locked herself into. Her best friend wanted to help but Amerix didn't want to be helped.

    It was different now. She was exhausted under the burden and ached for it to be lifted off her shoulders.

    She didn't realise Gabriel moved until she felt his hand on her. Not expecting it, she flinched away at first but relaxed when she knew it was him. She hadn't been touched by another human in such a comforting manner since coming back to the academy and she realised she missed the strength a simple touch could induce. She wanted to laugh at the situation she found herself in - crying in front of a stranger and being comforted by said stranger. Never in a million years would she dream of something like this happening. But she was too busy crying to laugh.

    His words only made her tears fall faster. I can't gamble away what I don't have. She didn't say the words aloud though. He must already think her an insane blubbering idiot. Merlin, could he embarrass herself any more? She didn't know how long her sobs lasted but when they abated and left her breathing in short hard gasps, she didn't meet his eyes. "I'm sorry," she whispered, apologising for making such a scene. "I'm sorry, I just..I just don't know what to do." She paused for a while, trying to get her breath back as a few stray tears dripped down her cheeks. "I can't any more. I can't." Merlin, she wasn't even making sense to herself. She just wanted the hurt to stop, wanted the grey clouds suffocating her to disappear, wanted the load lifted off her shoulder. She couldn't go on like this.

    _________________________________________________________
    All credits for this incredible Sig goes to the amazing Alley!

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    PostSubject: Re: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Tue Jul 05, 2016 3:35 am

    Her words made sense, but from his personal experience, it was the opposite: if people knew you well enough, no matter how well you phrased it, they saw past your defences. It was one of the reasons he never got close to anyone - or, at least, he tried not to let that happen. Janina had not been intentional, but he would have had it no other way.

    Choosing to nod and let the subject go - this was not the time to debate such a thing - Gabriel instead shrugged at her question. "Hard, perhaps, but not impossible."

    He watched and waited as she broke, the dam giving way after Merlin knew how many days or weeks of trying to fight. After all, he had been there.

    He remembered it all, too.

    The darkness overwhelming his senses so that all he saw and felt was the nothingness of oblivion, as though he couldn't feel anything anymore - and, in a way, he couldn't. Each and every moment that felt simultaneously like forever and seconds; it dragged out into moments that he could only recognise as they flew by, time playing tricks on his fragile mind. The desperation that tore away at his insides, the hurt so tangible it was almost as though he could taste it if he dared to open his mouth. But he couldn't. He couldn't do anything, no matter how hard he tried.

    Each movement felt like carrying a tonne of bricks, each breath like he had swallowed a gulp of water, each morning he awoke like a stab in his heart; why had he survived when he had failed to protect his brother?

    If Gabriel was going to be honest, there were still mornings like that. When he woke up to sunshine or snow or rain, and birds chirped and he had plans to meet with friends and he felt safe and loved, it would be crushed with a simple phrase that only he uttered to himself: [/i] How dare he be alive?

    But he pushed past those days, past those emotions, each and every single time. Because, if there had been one thing he had learnt through all of this, it was how to survive.

    "Amerix," he said, softly, having reached the conclusion of his flashbacks, "You're alive. It's as simple as that. That's all that matters. You're not at fault. Mourn, yes, and cry for the days they will never have - but don't you dare use that as an excuse to not live. You're alive. Take as much time as you need to come to terms with that, but at the end of the day, there's nothing you can do to change that fact."

    At the apology, he shook his head. "No," he told her. He made his tone firm but gentle. "Never apologise. Don't you see? You're already winning the battle." Her words were so familiar, hitting so close to home; it was as though she was reciting him from his time in this place of despair. "Don't, then. If you can't, don't. Let someone else do it for you until you can," he said, not explicitly offering himself but leaving his statement open enough for her to know that he was.

    It was all he knew to do in that moment.
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    PostSubject: Re: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Fri Jul 08, 2016 6:01 am

    Amerix nodded noncommittally at Gabriel's response. "Perhaps," she conceded. He was quite the optimist and she wasn't about to change that. This world was negative and pessimistic enough and needed all the light it could get. She wouldn't be the person to snuff out the brightly burning one in front of her. If he thought it was possible to get through to someone who refused help, she'd let him keep thinking that. Perhaps it was possible but Amerix sincerely doubted it.

    The cry, though embarrassing, was something Amerix needed. She'd held it in for too long, letting the wound fester, letting the pressure build up until she couldn't hold it in any more until she erupted spectacularly like a volcano. Only instead of lava, it was tears, tears through which tension and heartache flowed out of her body, tears that carried her sorrows and desperation. Though spent from the sobs and more than a little out of breath, it was necessary.

    She shook her head at his words. "No. No. No. It is my fault. Don't you see?" Amerix cried out. "I should've been there with them, I shouldn't have gone out, I could've helped, called for help, done something, if I'd stayed, if I'd been better I could've stopped him." The rational, logical part of her told her that if both her parents, highly skilled and trained Aurors, could not have stopped the guy, there was nothing she could've done. But the part of her stricken with grief reminded her that while her parents were fighting for their lives, she'd been out having a good time with her best friend. The guilt piled on and kept her in its clutches as guilt often did, condemning her, dragging her down, eating away her soul.

    "Winning the battle?" Amerix scoffed, wiping away the traces the tears left on her cheeks. "More like losing the war." The last thing she felt right now was a champion. She felt like she was losing, losing everything in life. She lost her parents, lost her grades, lost herself. No, she was definitely not a winner. She never was.

    His last statement shocked her into silence. Was he offering to be that someone for her? It sounded like it. "I can't," she whispered. "It wouldn't be fair to let someone carry my burden for me." She wouldn't drag him down with her. No, he deserved to enjoy life, not be weighed down by her problems. In fact, she shouldn't have told him anything at all, shouldn't have agreed to come to the pub with him.

    "I'm sorry," she sniffed as she apologised again. "I have to go." She stood up and grabbed her bag, ready to leave the pub.

    _________________________________________________________
    All credits for this incredible Sig goes to the amazing Alley!

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    PostSubject: Re: Cimmerian Shade (OPEN)   Fri Jul 08, 2016 6:34 am

    "No. No. No. It is my fault. Don't you see?"

    That, Gabriel knew, was the grief speaking, and he did nothing to correct it - not yet. In time, when she had cried all the tears she could cry and she had let go of the hurt, he could begin to speak the truth to her - but not now. Not when she believed it too strongly to listen to reason, and not when the hurt was more painful than anything physical could ever be. So, he said nothing, instead letting her cry and listening to each word she said - spoken or not.

    "Basically," he started, when she was done, "You wish you had been killed alongside them?" It was phrased as a question, even though it wasn't, really. He figured this was how she felt based on what she had said, but he wanted to hear her say it. In fact, he would argue that she needed to say it, to admit to what she was really feeling. As long as she denied the truth - as long as she hid behind the wall of pain and hurt and never admitted what she was really thinking - she would never be able to start healing. "Or do you really believe you're experienced enough to stop a killer?" he went on. It was hard to push buttons like that - it went against everything he thought was right - but part of him knew he had to get her to open up, to let it out.

    It was the realigning of bones before the cast was set, the fire that allowed buds to bloom, the disinfecting of a wound. It hurt, yes, but without this there would be no mending. As ironic as it was, sometimes things needed to be broken - gently and carefully, yes, but broken nevertheless - before they could be put back together.

    Gabriel knew exactly what it felt like to be alive and yet not live. It had taken him years and many long, painful nights to learn this lesson. Phrasing his words carefully, he said, "The war is life, Amerix. You're here. You're alive. This is a battle. It doesn't seem it, and it won't for a while, but I promise you that in a few years you'll realise this is true."

    Again, her words felt like home; he knew exactly what she meant, and his heart ached for her. What he went through was hell, and he wouldn't wish it on his worst enemy, let alone someone his age. Before he had a chance to reply, though, she was up on her feet and moving away. Reflexes taking over, he got up quickly, stepping out towards her. Reaching forward, he very gently grabbed her arm, tight enough that she couldn't pull away easily, but not so hard as to appear threatening. "What you call burden some call an honour," he told her, also softly.

    Taking a deep breath, he copied the words his therapist had told him the first session, the one Janina had made him promise to visit; it wasn't kind words, but it had jolted him back into reality long enough to realise he did need the help. "Do you think yourself so great that nobody can share in your sorrows? Trust those who have carried the same weight to be able to help you with yours. It's not a burden for those accustomed to it."

    Letting her arm go, he added, "Sit back down, Amerix. You're not done yet."
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