Raven II

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23. He Had Gone

ARIA-

I hadn’t even realized I was crying until I pulled away from his chest. His shirt sat wet from my tears and wrinkled from how tight I held him. Though, I kept my eyes level with his chest, refusing to look at him first.

What if he was too different? What if I was too different? I felt as if I’d shrunk, all the confidence I had gained these past few months just fell away and stripped from me. Once again, I was that young girl that seeked refuge in his arms and his eyes.

“Aria.” His gruff voice broke my destructive thoughts, and I shivered when I felt his fingers underneath my chin. The pressure against my skin forced me to look up and straight into his eyes.

I couldn’t breath.

His eyes roamed my face, his fingers moved from my chin to my cheeks, they followed the curves of my eyebrows, and fell gently again on my lips. “Are you real?” He whispered.

It was then that I saw the hesitance behind his eyes. He wasn’t convinced this was real. He looked as if he had aged centuries, a sadness clouding his mind. I looked up, catching sight of his dark, black hair that had grown quite a length, ending almost at his shoulders.

The familiar scars on his face brought more memories to the front of my mind, and suddenly the feeling of his arms around me reminded me of the nights we spent together, twisted together, fighting each other.

How I missed that.

He moved his hand down until his palm laid flat against my chest and he leaned down, softly placing his forehead on mine. I could feel his heartbeat, and I knew he seeked mine with his hand plastered on my skin.

He inhaled deeply, “You smell different.” He whispered, opening his eyes as he pulled back again.

I couldn’t help but chuckle, “You look different.” I whispered back.

There was a twitch in his eyes and a twitch in my heart. It’s as if we both realized, at the same time, how much we have been apart. How much we had missed of each other. There were wrinkles on his face that I did not recognize, and I wondered what faces he made to put them there.

Hadn’t it only been 3 years?

His hand cupped my cheek, his thumb moving and caressing my earlobe while his eyes rebelliously took a peak at my lips.

I could see the shuddering breath he took as his lips trembled, and I couldn’t judge. I had been waiting for the caress of his lips on mine since I had left. And much more now that he stood in front of me again.

Mindlessly I traced my fingers on his lips, my chest instantly reacting to the memories I thought I had forgotten. My breaths grew louder, deeper and much more labored.

He leaned in, his lips only breaths away from mine when I suddenly looked away. Internally, I frowned, not understanding the instinct of my body. But it made sense when I turned to look behind me, to send an apologetic look to Jakko only to find that he was not there.

He had gone.

And, again, for an entirely different reason, I could not breath.

I held in the painful whimper I felt clawing at my throat. Like a part of me had left, leaving my heart an empty shell. Was he really so much a part of me that it hurt when I could not look at him?

“Umm...” Dastan cleared his throat, awkwardly unwrapping his arms from my waist, though he held onto my hand tightly, “Ready to go home?” He whispered.

Home.

What an odd word, it seemed that once it was all I held on to. And now, it had no meaning. I had no home, I belonged nowhere. Still, I did not want to disappoint him and I blindly nodded, accepting his pull when he began to walk to the exit of the cave.

Emi stood, still, where I had left her, with a pitiful, almost questioning gaze. Her eyebrows formed a soft frown on her face and I could tell she had a million questions to ask.

I hoped she wouldn’t, for I could hardly even think of an answer. Even for myself. I smiled at her, begging her to forget what she had seen, how I had reacted, how Jakko and I had been.

It was Dastan and I now, and I had no where to turn back to. It was all in the past.

Still I could not help but look back one more time, hoping he had made a magical appearance. But no, where he hadstood was still empty and I wondered if that void could ever be filled again.
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