Chapter information


Written by


Release date

29th July, 2013

Word count




Notes: Uhh.... I need ice-cream...


She feels the familiar tug; that soft pull that should she allow it, would lead her to where she wanted to be. She doesn't allow it, for what purpose would there be, following it, but to have the one tiny part of herself that isn't hers to have, broken? She can think of no reason, and so she smiles and laughs, blossoming into a young lady while inside she withers, each touch and gentle caress from him to another slowly wearing her down.

She does what she has learnt to do, what she has taught herself to do. She faces it; she faces him. She feels her own heart skyrocket, drowning out the low, sad, apologetic sound of his. He cannot reciprocate, and she is left feeling bereft, her lungs full of water and her stomach full of dirt.

She does not notice the looks others give her. She does not feel their smiles or hear their praises. She hears only him, smells his scent and feels his hand on her head in a pat, a friendly gesture that has her heart aching. Too soon, he is gone, and too soon is she alone again.

The laughter is no longer forced, as she cannot bring herself to make the sound. Her mouth is too heavy to lift up; the light that was in her eyes has fallen, blown out. She is darkness, just as she is in darkness. No-one notices, for there is no-one to notice, and so she travels alone to convince herself that there is happiness around, that there is life and freedom to be had.

She has never felt so trapped, the endless loop threatening to continue on forever.

She is older, by far, when she finally returns. He is there, with the woman she could never hope to be, never hope to hate. He is happy, she is happy. His family of three are together, and she gently caresses her own chest as though to hold the pieces of her heart together. It's too late, for they are just dust in her hands, so fine not even she can bend them back together.

Her hand roams down to her stomach, the taut skin belying ulterior intentions. He doesn't know; neither of them, not the one she had hoped nor the one she gave into.

She stands, awkwardly now, as his blood and lover exit, leaving the two friends alone. He hugs her, and says her name, but she cannot bring herself to return it. It's been years now—how can he accept her back so easily? Will he, after he discovers her truth, her secret?

He pulls away, and she is left without his warmth.

She feels the question, and takes a shuddering breath. Should she so ask, she knows he would promise her to remain quiet. Should she so ask, she knows he would promise to listen. But then what? Would she be able to tell him? Would he judge her, reject her?

Would he help? Would he offer his home and treat her the way she had hoped—believed—that the other one would? Or would he run away, abandon her, just as the last one? The indecision passes across her face, and he speaks up.

Where did you go? Why have you come back?

She quivers, a hand running across her belly once more. He looks at the action, and confusion passes. She has changed, her face leaner and hair darker, but neither are negatives on her royal visage.

C-can I stay here a while? she questions, and he nods dumbly, not trusting himself to speak. She seems to know, as she offers a soft punch and a small smile; not entirely genuine.

Toph curses herself for not telling him then, but as she feels his heartbeat slow, before accelerating, she knows he knows. She knows he wonders who, and why. But, as he approaches her and wraps her into another hug—this one infinitely more intimate—and she sinks into his chest, she knows he won't leave her. He won't abandon her.

Congratulations, he whispers, eliciting a teary laugh. Toph breaks free and once more hugs herself.

Thanks, Snoozles. I made it myself, she replies, and his short bark of laughter appeases the feeling in her chest once more. Thank you.

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