The Practice of Letting Go - Page 2

The Practice of Letting Go

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closed Re: The Practice of Letting Go

Post by Jack Dyllan on Sat Jul 30, 2016 8:41 am

She could feel her heart pumping, could feel her breath coming in and out of her nose, feel the flare of her nostrils, feel the twitch in her fingers, the clenching in her jaw, her entire body beginning to turn to steel in preparation and then-

Cool slid down her and she felt all of these muscles relax and her eyes flicker, the intensity leaving them. This wasn't Jack giving up. This was much scarier. This was a skill she had picked up from a friend, a skill she had developed much too late in life because of her tendency to be unabashedly, unapologetically herself. But sometimes it was good to step away from self when destruction was imminent.

And wouldn't you know it if Jack almost looked polite in her quiet regard of Ari now.

It probably wasn't fair, but now that she saw the path that this conversation was headed, she knew he would be able to deal with a little verbal roughing-up. "I was a kid, too," she said, her voice eerily calm, not at all like her. She tilted her head, suddenly looking much older than a wee twenty three. "And I had to go deal with that mess all on my own."

And it had been horrible. Had Jack kept her penchant for being over the top, she would show him the scars. A knife wound here, and another for good measure. She would describe Chase's face when she died, show him the marbled effect on her forearms that the glass cuts left when she threw Vito and herself out a window in the hopes of killing him, and maybe herself too. He didn't know about the emotional banishment she had placed on Vito, how she felt the connection loosen, how she felt him die even though she wasn't there, and how it had taken apart of herself.

She didn't tell him because if he would have bothered to stick around, he would have known.

But she let him continue. She heard his apologies, she heard his regret, and damn if she couldn't see it. It might have been enough to loosen her tight heart and allow her to reach out, to comfort in the way she had learned ever since she began rescuing the kids the world forgot. She could have told him that too late would have been never, as he had obviously settled for the latter, but what use would that do? It was as much use as apologizing for the actions of someone he no longer was.

Aye, and there's the rub.

And then he was done, and he looked almost deflated and part of her twinged with regret to know she could not reinflate him. But she knew that. She knew that from Nemo, if not a million others. Try as she might, and she was typically stubborn enough to try, she could not give someone what they would not give themselves.

"But you're right," she said, her voice still even, calm, almost kind. As kind as Jack got without having to really try for it. "It was years ago. It was a different time. You were a kid. You're someone completely different now." She paused. "And so am I."

She wondered if he had caught up yet.

She cleared her throat and looked at the curry, almost looking regretful and abandoning such a thoughtful dish. She scooted her chair out. "Ari, I can't tell you why I came, what I was hoping for. And I'm sorry if this is really confusing and all but..." And she almost smiled. In fact, you know what, reader, she did. Just a little. "I did."

She stood. "It looked great, sorry to leave you with leftovers. I just think I should go now."

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closed Re: The Practice of Letting Go

Post by Ariel Damian Greyback on Sat Jul 30, 2016 6:53 pm

Had Ariel Greyback possessed a time turner, he knew exactly how many times he would have turned it and where he would have made it taken him. I know, reader, that we have already spoken about Ariel and time turners but it does bear repeating because he’s only now worked out where he’d go and which moment in time he’d pick.

Reader, he’d choose the day he’d met Jack. Properly, at least. Of course, he’d always known her in a roundabout sort of way. But, back when he’d thought it was funny to call her by her given name rather than her preferred because it annoyed her – back when that sort of thing was funny, when annoying girls who were bearing burdens he didn’t have the first clue about was amusing in some way or another.

He’d decided he’d catch his younger self on the way to Potions class on the fateful morning. He’d haul the swarthy little brat into the nearest broom cupboard and tell him with to mind her. To stand by her. That’s what he’d tell the young werewolf. Stand by Jack. Perhaps he wouldn’t even say her name. Maybe he’d let the idiot boy work it out on his own and maybe he’d hang out just to see the lightbulb go off and the dots connect. Then he’d retire to the sort of rosy future he’d dreamed about – the sort of future he should have admitting to wanting with her a long time ago, before he’d let her walk out.

And are you going to let her go again? Are you that much of an idiot?

There were two voices then, rattling in the back of his mind. Ollie’s and Alice’s; both of them together, wanting the best for him. In spite of their hopes, he often neglected to heed their advice and instead accepted the love he thought he deserved – which was none, for the record, reader. And as she stood, looking ready to go, her piece said and his dying like ash in his mouth, he realized she would be out of the door again, out of his life, and all he would have was a cold and empty house, and leftovers. Even the dogs had each other, madly in love as they were. He’d be alone.

For the love of God, Ari, do something!

Launching himself to his feet, the chair skidding out behind him, Ariel threw himself around the table, knocking it and sending the wine sloshing out of the glasses and onto the wood. He knew Alice would mind, and Ollie too, probably, but in that moment he couldn’t think straight enough to care. He all but flew to to her side, taking the liberty of curling his fingers around her wrist.

“Don’t go,” he said with more force than he had thought he had in him – especially where she was concerned. He’d once had poetic thoughts that loving her was like being a butterfly catcher unable to get his net untangled so he couldn’t catch her. But, it was okay and worth letting her go so that he could watch her fly. Only, the reason he let her fly on her own was because he was too scared to be a butterfly himself, and fly with her. But Ariel was no poet, not really, even if a leather-bound book full to bursting of his handwriting would attest to the opposite.

“Please,” he breathed. “Don’t go. Jack. I… I can’t just let you walk out of my life again. I mean, I … if …” he let out a sigh, his brows furrowing as he tried to construct the sentence in a way that explained how he felt but also somehow retained him his dignity. This sort of thing didn’t really, though, did it? “If you look at me but you don’t … if you don’t feel anything then … then go, I won’t keep you, but … if you do … oh, for fuck sake…” he groaned and shoved his hand into the pocket of his jeans, drawing out a galleon which he threw in the direction of the kitchen counters. It landed, with magical assistance, of course, in the swear jar which was fit to bursting – mostly Ariel’s contributions unless Alice had a particularly bad day.

“Jack… I’m going to say this now because I don’t think I ever will if I don’t do it now. I love you, alright? I always have. Probably, in some small, stupid, teenage way, since the day I met you. I didn’t lie when I said I regretted it because I can’t lie to you about something like that for that very reason. I just … look. I know this is a messed up situation but all I know I can’t do is let you walk out of that door and out of my life yet again. I … oh, Merlin, please punch me for what is going to come out of my mouth but, for the record, Ollie would be proud. Jack … you were – are – always what was good about my life. You were what made everything seem worthwhile because I was always aiming to be the bloke you deserved and I was … I was never, ever that man. I’m not under any illusion that I am now and you’ve … you’ve got no reason to try but I … Merlin, Jack, I need you. I can’t … I’m not sure if I can lose you again. Unless, you know, you say so.”
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closed Re: The Practice of Letting Go

Post by Jack Dyllan on Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:48 pm

She felt empowered. Wow. Jack didn't think she was someone who needed anymore empowerment, having rejected nearly every claim that society said she had to be. As a woman, she was not graceful, nor feminine, nor beautiful, nor maternal. As a civil servant, she was not moral, nor was she professional, nor did she ever follow the rules. As a muggleborn, she refused to acknowledge her rightful place, refused to do anything but embrace the magic world that was just as much hers as it was anyone's. But as of late, she had been letting what felt like everyone (though it was a select crowd to anyone looking in) in on the secret that she was at a loss, that she really didn't know what she was doing.

Deciding that she did not have to be on display for everyone was a magnificent choice. She didn't have to reveal anything. Being brutally honest didn't mean slicing up parts of herself and serving it like pie in the hopes of satiating other people. She had refused the world everything but herself, and it was nice to take that away too.

So that was why Albus wore his mask.

She stood and turned for the door, knowing this was the right decision. Knowing that this meant walking out on a very viable alternative to loneliness, but that still wasn't reason enough. Was that all she had been looking for? A cure to loneliness? That was hardly fair to everyone else. That was hardly fair to herself.

She had been saying it for years but now it struck her in a way that made enough sense to become an undeniable truth : she did not need anyone. Starting today, the word need was out of her vocabulary, save for food, drink, and shelter. All the rest was extra. And right now, she could pass on extra.

So imagine the crashing sensation when this train of thought was dragged from its tracks, a commotion behind her causing her to turn in preparation - for what, she didn't know, but she would be ready. He caught her wrist and spoke in a tone that caused an eyebrow to lift challengingly. Because no one told her what to do.

He amended with a please, and she firmly extracted her wrist, but turned to face him, her face harder than before but just as unreadable. And she listened. She listened to what Ariel Greyback had to say, and she remembered who he had been - a cocky, smart ass of a Slytherin with an affliction running him into the ground and a father taking away his joy - and though she could see traces, she knew that no one stayed the same for long. Every day, cells were replaced in the body, magical currents died and were reborn. Every day was different, and if you could find someone you could keep up with, that was fantastic. But time didn't stop and they had been apart for a long time. She didn't really know this version of Ariel.

And from the sounds of it, he might never have known her.

It was all said. Her eyes remained trained on him, even through the L-word, even as the lonely seventeen year old inside her who felt so alone and so abandoned perked up at the thought that her uncertain suspicions had been correct, she had not been a fool to think he cared.

But she wasn't seventeen anymore, and neither was he.

She reached out and took his hands, quietly leading him back to his chair. She didn't have to tell him to sit for him to deflate into his chair, and, breaking all of her rules about staying in a position that was attack-ready, Jack kneeled next to him, placing a hand on his knee and looked up into his eyes.

"Ariel," she said, and her voice was not soft, because Jack was not a soft woman. But it was understanding, because the traces of empathy cursed to her by creating a monster that fed off of emotional energy had never truly left her. "I've missed you, a lot. And when I look at you, I remember red and green dots, and komboloi beads, and an impromptu Christmas, and I remember the person who dared to take me on and try to kiss me." She smiled, because these were fond memories, even if they were tinted with confusion and abandonment and fear. "I didn't really have friends in Hogwarts. And after I blew it with Chase and Andrew, I figured I was done. But you were there, in your own, rude-ass ways."

And then the smile changed, and there was something dark in her expression. "I'm going to tell you something that I've tried explaining before, but no one has ever seemed to believe it. But you need to know this. You need to hear me and understand this and not argue it. Okay?"

She waited, because she meant it.

Her green eyes met his and there was something old in them, something dangerous, and if ever anyone were to understand why she had originally been drawn into working with dragons, this look would be evidence number one.

"I am not good," she said. Her voice was firm, as though tone alone could convince him. "I don't know where you or anyone else got that notion. Okay? You might not have any illusions about yourself, but the idea that I can be your beacon of light, your path to salvation? It's bullshit."

And she stood, because this was something she wished she could repeat. She wished she could summon Nemo, and Albus, and Chase and Andrew, maybe even Vito would have enjoyed the speech. Because here it was. Here was the truth about Jack Dyllan that she alone was cursed to see and bear witness to, unable to explain herself without drawing out undeserved platitudes or, worse, false agreements. It started here.

"You were onto something with Vito, Ari," she said. "I'm not saying this out of resignation or self-loathing, but out of clarity, out of hindsight. "I'm not going to bore you with the reasons, because I'm not here to negotiate, I'm no lawyer. But I know one thing more than I know anything else. I cannot save you. I cannot be the one good thing in your life, Ari."

She paused. "And, frankly, I don't want to be. Not for anyone. I refuse to condemn anyone to a life in which the best thing about it is another flawed human. That's not a life, Ariel. That's a disaster waiting to destroy everyone involved. I've been the Savior, I've been the protector, and I've failed, and no one was better for it. I'm not qualified and I don't want the job."

She ran a hand through her hair, shaking her head. "You know, life is really lonely. It is. I don't think I've ever met someone who didn't wear some brand of loneliness in their bones. It's hard to be lonely, and yes, it's important to band together. Having people with you to help combat that loneliness might be the only way to survive. But loneliness alone isn't enough of a reason to give myself away entirely to anyone, especially someone who doesn't know me like they thought they did."

Ow. That hurt her, and she was the one saying it. So the second the moment landed, she continued. "What I can be is a friend. An ally. Once whatever emotions need to resolve are resolved, if you still have room in your life for someone who brings more problems than solutions, who is just as unhappy and flawed, I can be here. It's been awhile since I had someone who can keep out with my drinking, and I can help you cut down on your leftovers." And though her tone was certain, there was a certain lightness to her words as she continued, as though she were freeing them both, "But that's all I have to give anyone now. Maybe ever. I don't know." She shrugged. "But I'm just a person, Ari. It'd be kind of nice to start getting treated that way."

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closed Re: The Practice of Letting Go

Post by Ariel Damian Greyback on Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:05 pm

The werewolf had changed his mind – he wanted to suck back everything he’d said and keep it where he’d been keeping it all this time and never let those feelings out. Ever. He sat as he was bid, closing his eyes briefly, as though to hide from the rejection that was bound to come, only to reopen them, sensing it was foolish to conceal what was left of his soul. The rest of it was born out, laid out before her in crumpled pieces. He wanted to take his pieces, apologise, and then retreat to some sort of dark hole somewhere. Maybe the Black Forest? He’d not seen Fenrir in a while. That’d be a worthy place to rediscover … whatever or whoever he was.

He decided not to argue – though mainly only because he didn’t think he could cope with words, anyway, let alone argumentative ones. He had nothing left to say, now. All he could do was listen. There was nothing left to do – other than breathe, perhaps. Inexplicably, though, he found himself nodding, agreeing with her. He’d put too much on her, he knew that. He’d wrapped her in rose-coating and then all he saw was, like all people, what he wanted to see. He wondered, sometimes, if everything was as wonderful as it looked from the outside for Ollie and Alice – his only real example of a functioning relationship. How did they just work? Then again, individually he considered them anomalies so two anomalies probably worked well. And they were happy. Merlin.

He winced. He didn’t know whether it was the words in themselves or the fact that they were so accurate. Regardless, they made his heart ache a little bit. Too much time had passed, hadn’t it? Too much had changed about them. He glanced down and twisted his left wrist a little, peeking at the Azkaban numbers that were etched into his wrist which, if he pulled down his shirt a little, had their twin on his torso. Everything had changed about them.

And what did he want, really? Was it Jack? Or was it some sort of reprieve? A do-over. A chance to take back the disarray his life had become. He was being dramatic when he’d said she was the only good in his life. Perhaps she wasn’t that, but she was something. The person he recognised as being the last he had been with while he still considered his life compact and sturdy. Enduring. Something palpably familiar, harking back to a time that was different. A time he could call his.

So could he do friendship? Could he look at himself in the mirror and say ‘this is it for me’ and look at her and accept that that was it for her, too.

“Alright,” he voiced aloud, the sound hollow. “Yeah. Alright. But, I do reserve the right to disagree with you for agreeing with me,” his brows furrowed briefly and he inclined his head from side to side, as though going over the words, checking they made sense. “Yup,” he nodded after a moment, popping the ‘p’. “And I … I … I don’t think I’ll have that problem. Treating you like a person. After all, you always saw the person in me – even if, now more than ever… there’s not much of the person left. You might be magic to me, but you never stopped being human."
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closed Re: The Practice of Letting Go

Post by Jack Dyllan on Sat Jul 30, 2016 9:33 pm

Jack had released herself from the burden of expecting something. She wanted to just take in whatever he said and leave with it. If it was his continued efforts to convince her that, no, she was what he had made her, she would smile sadly and part with him until the day he actually saw her, not some conjured image. If he lashed out in anger, sapped of a hope he had unfairly placed on her shoulders, she could do nothing but swear he was mistaken.

They met gazes and she could see the let down, but that had always been there, hadn't it? She would give Ariel that the world had always dangled what he wanted out of his reach. Health, confidence, normality, simplicity. But she knew what happened if he reached out and she let herself go. He would see what she was after convincing himself he needed the other version of her. And the sweet taste of companionship would turn to ash, turn bitter in his mouth, as it had for so many others. And he would have to leave, time wasted, hopes dashed, reality altered.

People needed to stop basing the success of a relationship on time and whether or not it remained. Because, for two people who had never had anyone and had kept up their guards, they had let each other in and taught the other what it was to share apart of your load. And she would be damned if that wasn't a fantastic accomplishment.

Even without expectation, she found a prickle of curiousity, an internal loosening from relief.  Jack, knowing she needed for no one, could have gone away from this with his hatred or his anger or his disappointment. But, though she had not said it in as many words, she did care for him, and loved him in a way that would always be reserved just for him. He was her first... person. Her first person who saw more, even if he saw what wasn't there. Her life was riddled with evidence of his importance, and to have that sealed with some semblance of okay would be ideal.

Yeah. Alright.

Her chin twitched, letting her lips purse into a restrained, but genuine ghost of a smile. His condition also caused her a similar expression, but both sorted out the contradictions at about the same time, nodding.

His words would have been enough to undo her had she not faced herself and her life with the clarity she now had. Her lips buckled, that smile that held back the painful release of finally feeling understood, and she reached out, hand finding his, squeezing in solidarity.

Let them have this one moment, world. A moment where they let the past slip away from them without anger and without regret, with just the small sadness that it was over, but the small consolation that it had happened. Let them hold a small lifeline that had once been their only. Let them live in a moment where they didn't have to sort out what came next, or miss what came before, but just stay and enjoy the fact that they had converged. For one brief moment in the large scale of time, let the two kids mourn their childhood as they faced the murky future. Let them, for this one second, be okay.

"Thank you."

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