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Home seemed darker than he remembered it. Lonlier. He trudged around the house, day in and day out, only leaving for his jobs or to grab groceries. Half of them went uneaten. He couldn't shake the habit of cooking for two. When he cooked at all, he cooked too much. Couldn't bring himself to eat the leftovers, either. Just put them in the fridge, all wrapped up, as if Logan might come home and grab a bite to eat at any moment. At least then he could pretend, just a little, that maybe Logan might come back.
In the distance, something toppled over.
Silveus stood and turned toward the sound. [i Not again,] he thought, dread seeping into his soul. He already knew what it would be. What had fallen.
Before he could stop himself, he was already moving. Drawn toward it, ever toward his misery. Deeper into the house. Past the empty sitting room. He couldn't bear to enter the room anymore. It felt alive with the past, the shadows flickering as though someone else was in the room with him. The room teased him with the possibility that Logan was there, just out of sight, the flickering shadows his quiet movements.
Onward. Deeper. Past the dining room, where Logan's chair was always pulled out a little, even though he knew he'd pushed it back in last night. Past the clock that only chimed on the hour of his death, down to the second. Past the piano he heard playing itself at midnight, as though Logan were up late practicing again, though he knew if he went to take a look, there would be no one on the seat and the keys would be still. Over the wood floor that creaked whenever he didn't look, as if Logan were walking down the hallway and about to turn the corner.
The house was alive, and it was alive with Logan's ghost.
At last, he arrived at the studio. It had once been his sanctuary, but now, it felt more like his asylum. Near the door, his old works were cluttered, turning bright, sunny faces to greet him. Portraits in bright slashes of warm colors, orange sunsets and golden sunrises, a dog leaping into a river, water trickling down a leaf. Further in. The landscapes darkened, purples and blacks dominating the color scheme. The setting sun became an explosion, a deadly ball of heat and light and fire that burned anything it touched but failed to pierce the night. Smudged portraits in muted blues and blacks turned sorrowful eyes toward the viewer, watched him as he waded deeper in, deeper yet.
Familiar shapes were gone. This far back, the paintings were slashes of black and gray on backgrounds of pitch, half-seen grotesque shapes, unknowable creatures glimpsed for only a moment. Inhuman. Unreal. What portraits there were, were distorted. Eyes drooped from faces. Features were scrambled, the nose a little too high, the ears off-center. Heads contorted into necks. Jaws gnawed, teeth glistened. Landscapes danced with half-seen figures, such that there was nothing when he looked directly at the painting, but horrible monsters when he turned his head.
And in the very back of the room, one painting laid face-down.
Silveus knelt. Reached out.
A loud sound ricocheted through the house. He jumped, missing his grip on the painting. Distracted, Silveus craned his neck over his shoulder. What was that? The sound came again, high-pitched and grating, a keening note that wore at his ears like nails on a blackboard.
The bell. The doorbell. The sound was soft once again, familiar. Silveus stood and started for the door. He had a guest.
Behind him, the painting laid face-down, forgotten.
With a faded smile, Silveus answered the door. Logan stood there, that easy smile on his face.
No. It was another man. The man from the funeral, the one with the passing resemblance to his husband.
"Can I help you?" he asked politely, trying not to sound tired. He was done with it all. The well-wishers, the nosy neighbors, all the people who'd never spoken to him before who suddenly thought they knew exactly how to fix him. But there was nothing to be fixed. No way to fill in the void in his life. [i Just leave me in peace,] he thought, annoyed.
[center “Ensure he reaches home safely.” It was an order, not a request on Faustus’ part. “I must remain here until it is done.”
The younger warlock nodded, hurrying off, however discretely, to stick with Silveus until he returned home.
In the meantime, they would take care of arrangements here. In fact, it seemed to take no time at all, to move Logan and to gather the coven. This was something they had done so many times before. Goodbyes were always more like ‘catch you around’. The dead never really left where they were from.
The drive had been awful, though. Several hours there because he had arrived by car. Flying was too bothersome. He wasn’t a fan of being trapped in such space with mortals thousands of miles above the ground. Teleportation was easier. However, having anyone question how he’d come and gone was not an option, so it was the lengthy process of driving for him.
In the following days, meetings had been held, arrangements made, and as the hours slid by, Faustus already knew it would be happening.
Silveus would be unable to hide from them. As much as Logan may have tried to shield him from such things, they would find him. Beings who would seek to siphon off his magick. Half-bloods were vulnerable to that sort of thing. Especially when they didn’t belong to a coven. And there was no Logan to protect him from that.
They would lurk, always at the edge of his vision, or showing themselves in the place of mortals. Just a glimpse into the ugly depths of their souls. Enough to make their presence known. Those sorts of nasties always got more bold when it came to a derenseless halfling.
Already, two had followed him home, lingering on the property, waiting for the magick to fade. Less threatening entities would have made themselves right at home, offering whispers to coax him out of the walls.
Magick could be so ugly sometimes. And even knowing this, Faustus has to wonder if it was truly better to bring him into all of this. There was a chance he would reject their world, and there was no telling how that would end. He definitely couldn’t just leave him to those vultures, though. It would be a painful demise to say the very least. One that always ended with madness, and it would mean breaking his word.
“The boy. You will fetch him?”
“Take care to see Harriott before you go. She wanted a word before you set off to fetch him. And the album you requested.”
“Thank you.” He respectfully inclined his head, rounding the table where she happily consumed her breakfast to cross over into a hall and seek out Harriott in the parlour. She was nestled in a large armchair that faces their hearth, swathed in fur for added warmth.
“Here, as requested. Be sure to bring it back, yes?”
“No, I planned to bury it.” He rolled his eyes, lifting it from her delicate palms.
“You know the library would simply call it back, silly. Now off you go.”
“Where’s Mags? And Ingram?”
“Off with Briar and Drake.”
“Typical.” He tucked the time beneath one arm and made his way for the door, eyes rolling as he crossed the threshold. It would be a much shorter trip this time, and just as he’d thought it He was before their door.
Well... Silveus’ door. Logan no longer lived here. Or anywhere, for that matter. He rang the bell and patiently waited, unsure of what to expect. How badly had they plagued him? Had the games already begun? Was he paranoid enough to not answer the door yet? All of those potentialities sounded horrid. Hopefully, he was right on time.]
He couldn't bear to watch the man as he spoke. He looked so much like Logan that it hurt, an ache deep in his chest. Instead, Silveus cast his eyes down and watched the rain splatter into the mud.
Meaningless. The offer was meaningless. No one would be waiting for him when he got home. No one would share his bed, or wake him up with the scent of hot coffee, or whisper those stupid little secret jokes in his ear when he was sad. They would come and they would linger and they would make noise, try to make him smile, try to help, but then they would move on. Go back to their lives. Forget. And he would be left alone with his pain. Alone again, like he'd always feared he would be. He'd grow old alone in the house where they should have grown old together.
"Thank you," he murmured again, because it was a kind gesture, however meaningless.
Somewhere he could go. He laughed, just once, mirthless and cold. "No, I do not have that kind of money. There is nowhere I can afford to go." It was simple. Logical. True. An easy answer. He shook his head. There was nowhere else he wanted to go. He wanted to go home and pretend as if Logan might walk in the door any moment. At the same moment, he dreaded going home. The empty house. The dark windows. He could already picture it, because he had seen it so many times now, dark and cold without anyone there to welcome him back. He wanted to flee, but he couldn't. Logan had tied him to this place.
He stared into the hole as the rain pounded down. The crowd dispersed. The earth in the depths became mud. He didn't want to leave. It felt as though he was losing Logan all over again. This was so final, this grave, this goodbye. Being here meant acknowledging that the man was gone, that he was never coming back.
He wiped his face, just once. Then he turned on his heel and strode away. Had to keep moving. Had to move along. If he stayed a moment longer, he'd never leave at all.
He was barely aware of the man at his shoulder or the umbrella over his head. Fleeting details didn't matter. Nothing mattered, except that Logan was gone. Nothing could ever matter again.
[center This poor man. He could literally smell the grief rolling off of him. It was bitter and... mildly scented of woodlands. Different from cemetery mud. Faustus wasn’t sure how to place it. The longer they lingered there at the grave side, watching as flowers were tossed into the pit, he couldn’t help but acknowledge that this would not be Logan’s final resting place. He would be taken back to his true home and properly committed to the earth. By their rituals and rites, it had to be done.
Still, they had afforded his husband the funeral he deserved. The closure he would need. It was only fair, considering he had never signed up for this.
Minutes passed, silence filled by a symphony of raindrops as they met the scattered leaves of boughs above and the resistant panels of umbrellas, one of which hovered above Silveus a moment later as it began to pick up from a light drizzle.
“We are here for you... you will not be alone going forward.”
Just permitting the marriage had meant they had shared in Logan’s commitment to this half-blooded soul. He couldn’t have stopped his brother, though - none of them could have, so the best option had been to embrace the two. Not that Faustus had ever felt ill will or dislike toward Silveus, but they had certainly needed to keep their distance for obvious reasons. To a degree, anyway.
The way in which they conducted their lives vastly contrasted the one that he and Logan had led. They lived openly, without fear of mortals or persecution.
Logan has preferred to keep Silveus away from all of that, however, and who could blame him? Perhaps he feared the potential unrest the presence of a half-blood would cause. How ironic that now they would be responsible for him in his brother’s stead.
“Are you planning to stay at the house for now, or... is there somewhere you can go after this to collect yourself?”
Faustus was conscious of his tone, and he kept it low but even. It was as close to gentle as he could manage. Death was something that did not sadden them so much. It was simply a transition, an ascension into another form beyond this temporal realm.
He had not once shed a tear for his brother because he was very much of the kind that he was able to convene with him at any point, as he so pleased. But mortals were so attached to that which was palpable, and they had not the resources for such rituals. Nor the capacity. Another difference that very much set them apart.
A number of family members and friends had come and go in those moments to say goodbye and to offer comfort. Some came with hugs and kisses, and others were just words of comfort. Whether they helped or not was another story, but at the very least Silveus would know he would not be forsaken in wake of this tragedy.
Already, now that Logan had been lowered into his... temporary rest place... the crowd was thinning. Faustus, of course, dutifully remained, very much a sight as he towered, umbrella still in hand, attending the widowed.
He only wished there was more he could say.]
He felt nothing.
The rain poured down. It plopped in puddles, soaked into the muddy ground, stuck his shoulders as a thousand tiny blows. Silveus stared into the rough-hewn hole and the puddle that grew in its depths. He stared at the dirt, and the grass, and the way water bounced as it absorbed into the puddles, and everything but the black box in the depths of the hole.
The first thing he'd felt was rage. How could they? How could the conductor be so careless? He'd wanted to [i do] something. Fix it, somehow. Make someone else hurt as much as he hurt.
It wouldn't bring him back.
He'd cried. That night, when he was all alone, when his friends had left and there was no one there to support him. That first night, the first time being alone in years, he'd cried. The pillow grew damp, but his bed stayed empty.
He hadn't cried in the morgue, when he'd had to stand there and identify the body. It was surreal, looking down at that broken, burned mess and having to pick apart the pieces; the diamond earring, the dumb tattoo. A part of him hadn't acknowledged it as his husband's body. It wasn't. There was no face. No broad chest, no strong arms that held him at night, no long legs with just a little to much hair. Just a mess of charred flesh and the pieces. The bits.
It wasn't Logan. It couldn't be.
He'd dreamed, that night, that Logan had come back to him. He'd slammed open the bedroom door like he'd used to.
"You'll break the wall," he'd complained, and Logan had smiled that big, warm smile that lit up the whole room.
Syllables spilled from his lips like diamonds, shining and bright and meaningless. He couldn't understand what Logan said, but he knew it was a joke, and he smiled anyways. He'd patted the bed beside him, but when he'd looked up, Logan was gone.
It was hard. Everything was hard. He wanted to sell the house, but Logan had worked so hard to buy it. He wanted to leave this town, but Logan had begged him to move here. He wanted to escape, but it felt like leaving behind Logan, and he couldn't. How could he?
He felt numb. He felt nothing. His soul had frozen without Logan there to keep him warm.
Heels clicked. Silveus looked up. He didn't recognize the man, but that wasn't a surprise. Most people at the funeral were Logan's friends and family. Silveus's family had abandoned him the moment he'd decided to marry a man. Not that he minded. They'd never been close. He had friends, here to support him, but not as many as Logan's friends and family. Logan had been so involved in the town--well, of course he had. That was half the reason he'd wanted to move here, right? The community. The family. And Silveus's family didn't want him, so why not try and join Logan's?
"Thank you," he murmured.
This man looked a lot like Logan. He looked away. Glanced back. Was he related to Logan? It was possible. A brother, perhaps? He didn't look much like Logan. His jaw was narrower, his face more angular... but there was something about his eyes, about the way he moved and walked, that was so very Logan.
Silveus turned back to the grave. That ragged hole in the ground. This was it. This was the end. He'd only had a few years. So few years. It felt like only a moment since Logan walked into his life. He breathed out and closed his eyes. If only it could have lasted forever.
[center Why did it always seems to rain on funeral days? It was like the heavens just knew to set the mood and so the flood commenced. Clearly didn’t have much consideration for the loved ones or the grave diggers. It was easy to imagine, already, the number of sinking heels and disgruntled mourners making their way through the grounds for the burial, but they weren’t there yet.
It was kind of ironic - this kind of affair was really for mortals. This wasn’t the kind of ceremony that would really take place, but for appearances, it was totally necessary. After all, when you chose to live amongst mortals, you had to cater to their fragile sense of reality. If only they knew the truth. Like the fact that a third of the congregation was comprised of immortals simply paying respects.
It really hadn’t been something they typically did, but this was a special exception. Especially for one so valued - so esteemed. Even if in the end he had appeared to turn his back on his heritage - on an entire world - in favour of love.
There was little one wouldn’t do for love, though. Who could blame him? Besides, you know, everyone.
Well, Faustus didn’t really count. He believed in making decisions for yourself and being willing to live with them. Logan had been willing to accept the consequences, and this is what they looked like. Not that he would be telling anyone here about that.
Thinking on it, the events leading up to this must have given him plenty of warning as to what was to come. Yet, he’d carried on as per usual - at least, based upon what Faustus had seen - and had opted to live each of his very last days to the fullest. Right up until the end. Defiant, some would say. Admirable, though, in the eyes of some.
Faustus was of no opinion. It wasn’t his place to have one at this point in time. He had duties to fulfil. Brother or no brother.
Donning his best, he cautiously approached Logan’s husband - now widowed - to pay his respects. His heels clicked at regularly interval with every step, long legs closing the distance easily as he cleared the main aisle.
“My condolences. I’m terribly sorry for your loss.”
Sorry for his loss and so much more. He could only imagine the shock come the days to follow, but he would be close - keeping an eye until the proper time.
This was something that could no longer go unaddressed, and he would heed a final request from someone as dear as Logan. He would not let this one be lost - without guidance. That made for a short life. It was the very least he could do. Even if keeping promises were seldom ever so easy in such matters.
Still, to go in such a terrible way... collateral damage was one thing, but to derail an entire train car? Perhaps the price of avoiding fate was high in these cases. At least he had been given some years with his beloved before this. Faustus sure as hell hoped it was worth it.
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