As I lay on my bed after a hard day of training my dad came into my room.
"Is everything alright, Tobias?"
I continued to stare up at the ceiling. "Yeah, I guess so."
"Doesn't sound like it." He came over and sat on the end of the bed. "Is it the training?"
I shook my head. "Not really, though it can be physically draining at times."
My dad was silent as he looked at me. After a while he spoke. "It's Remus, isn't it?"
I sat up and looked at my dad. "What's wrong with him? We were going on fine, becoming friends and stuff and then suddenly….he just decides to avoid me and ignore my attempts of contacting him. It's like he can't bare the sight of me anymore. Have I done something wrong?"
My dad looked out the window that was next to my bed and his eyes glazed over as if his mind wandered off somewhere before they focused again and he looked back at me.
"I don't exactly know but it's possible that he's trying to deal with something at the moment and needs space. Anyway, you should get ready soon. The poetry reading will start at 9:30 and we still need to have dinner. Did you finish your poem for it?"
"Yeah, I did though I don't think it'll be any good."
My dad chuckled. "That's what everyone says about their first poem. I'll get dinner ready."
Once he left the room I took out the poem I had written and read over it. There wasn't anything I wanted to change but I knew it wasn't perfect. I just hoped it didn't reveal too much but I hoped it was just enough. I put it away and went to help with dinner.
Everyone sat in the clearing in front of the gazebo listening to those who had written poems. We all watched and clapped as their work was said aloud for everyone to hear. When Remus stood up to read out a poem he had written I was a little surprised. I didn't think he would be much of a poet. I decided to listen closely as he read out his poem.
"I lie awake each night trying to make sense of how I feel
I think of how you would react if I told you how I felt
Let alone show you.
I'm afraid of what could go wrong
Never of what could go right
I keep to myself and distance myself
In hope that with what I feel
Will either start making sense
Or eventually go away.
But as each day passes the feelings get stronger
I become confused and frustrated
I never thought I would fall for someone so much
In such a short amount of time.
You most likely know that I'm talking about you
Through this poem and its
One of the only ways
Where I can pick up the courage
And say something
And so as I stand here
My fear of your rejection grows
Stronger and stronger
To the point where I feel as if
I won't be able to stand any longer
That my knees will buckle and give way
Understand that I do this
In hope that you'll get an idea of how I feel
And that I don't mean to hurt you."
He stood there for a few seconds or so as everyone clapped before going to sit down at the back of the crowd. Everyone waited for the next person to go up and as it became apparent that no one was willing to go up just yet I decided to read out the poem I had written.
"Ok, so my poem is called Guiding Light. I hope you enjoy it." I cleared my throat before I started.
"Being away from you
Would feel like a nightmare
I would not be able to stand it
Especially when this world
Feels so strange to me
And I don't want to experience it
Without you by my side.
So please, stay with me
Be my guiding light
In this dark world
And show me the safest passage
Out of this nightmare
And into my dream reality
Where the two of us
Can be together with
Those that we love
And care about most
So stay with me
Be my guiding light
In this dark world
And I know I'll be
Safe and happy as long as
You stay by my side."
As applause spread through the tribe I noticed Remus was leaving the clearing. Without trying to run while in full few of everyone I followed him. As soon as everyone was out of sight I started running as fast and quietly as I could. I kept enough distance between the two of us so that Remus wouldn't notice me but it got to a point where I had lost track of where he went. Once I found him again he was sitting down with his back against a tree. I noticed that it was the clearing that I usually went to when I had time to myself and had nothing else to do. I slowly walked up to him so I wouldn't startle him and sat down next to him. He didn't say a word but neither did he get up and leave.
"Your poem was good Remus. It was probably better than mine."
Remus looked at me. "What do you want?"
We looked at each other for a bit. I sighed and looked away from him as I picked a daisy from amongst the grass.
"What do I want? What do you think I want?"
Remus kept silent.
"What I want is for you to stop avoiding me Remus. There is no shame in the way you feel. Why couldn't you tell me how you felt despite the fact there was the possibility of rejection? If you don't take a few small risks then things won't become certain."
"Can't you just leave me be? I came here to be away from everyone and to be left alone."
"But you can't keep avoiding me forever. You have to face the way you feel and don't keep it all bottled up. I am here for you Remus. Tell me how you feel despite the fact that it's mostly got everything to do with me."
He glared at me and kept silent.
"Remus, are you going to say anything?"
Remus suddenly stood up and I thought he was going to leave the clearing so I slowly stood and got ready to chase after him again if I had to.
"Tobias…do you have any idea what it feels like to fall in love with someone you just met and not know how it would turn out if you confessed to them everything that you felt about them? Do you know what it's like to doubt those feelings….to end up feeling confused and not knowing what you should or shouldn't do?" He turned to me. "Do you know what it's like to tell everyone that you're fine when inside you just feel like screaming out and letting the whole world how you feel?"
I stood there silently not knowing how to reply.
"Well I do Tobias. And it hurts not saying anything about how I feel about you. I was scared and I still am."
I stood there looking at Remus. "I…I'm sorry. I guess we shouldn't have started hanging out…"
"Don't be sorry. I'm the one who should be sorry, for not telling you any sooner. For avoiding you for so long." A tear rolled down his cheek and I resisted the urge to wipe it off. "Now I stand here with the opportunity to tell you how I feel and I don't know how to put it all into words. So if I can't tell you then I may as well show you."
I was about to say something when Remus walked up to me and kissed me on the lips. Time seemed to stop and it felt like a dream. He wrapped an arm around me and placed a hand on my cheek. My heart started racing as I placed my hands on his hips and started to kiss back. We then pulled away from each other, both of us blushing and a little lost for words.
"Remus…now that I know how you feel towards me…..can I ask you something?"
He awkwardly shrugged. "I guess so."
I was a little hesitant at first. "I…uh…I just…..wanted to know if you would like to go out with me?"
He gave me a blank look before smiling. "After what just happened? Of course I would."
Right then and there I felt like the happiest guy in the world. I suddenly hugged him almost knocking him back. He laughed, hugged me back and kissed me. That night we ended up sitting down in the clearing and talked most of the night away. We started cuddling and watching the stars through the treetops. Before we knew it we were asleep with our arms wrapped around each other and my head on his shoulder with his head leaning on mine.
A bone chilling scream woke us up. I sat up with the hairs on my arms standing on end. We both got up and ran towards the source of the scream. We ended up in front of my grandfather's house and there was a small group gathered around somebody lying on the ground. I tried to get closer to see what had happened. As I got closer to the group, people started to notice that I was present and started backing away to allow me through. What I saw shocked me. Kneeling on the ground was Sarah with tears streaming down her face. Sprawled in front of her was the one person I did not expect. My grandfather. I knelt down on the ground opposite Sarah as I felt tears threatening to spill down my cheeks. Through the sobbing Sarah tried to explain what had happened.
"I don't know what really happened. I came to see if he needed any help and…I found him like this. At first I thought he was dead but…but I checked for a pulse and to see if he was still breathing. Both his pulse and his breathing are weak."
She broke out crying again. With tears in my eyes I turned to the group.
"Has anyone contacted Abigail?" I got no reply. "Somebody answer me please."
One person shook their head and spoke up. "Not that I know of."
I stood up and looked at them straight in the eye. Tears streamed down my face and my jaw was clenched tightly due to frustration.
"Contact her. Tell her my grandfather is in need of her medicinal expertise. Tell her that we will be there shortly with my grandfather and that I want him to be treated as soon as possible. Now somebody help me with getting him on my back once I've changed."
And so people rushed to try and help me. In a matter of minutes I had changed into my griffin form, my grandfather was on my back and I was on my way to Abigail's with Remus. Once we arrived we found Abigail outside her front door and she had the look of worry on her face. She rushed to help Remus get my grandfather off my back and into her house. Once I changed back to my human form I followed them inside. My grandfather was already on one of the spare beds and Remus was lighting a fire to heat up the kettle that was hanging over it. Abigail was rummaging through her glass jars and small wooden containers of which held different herbs. She already had a few in an old fashioned mortar and pestle. Once she had all the herbs she needed, she ground them up into a type of paste. I knelt at the end of the bed of which my grandfather lay on.
"Do you know what's wrong with him Abigail?"
"He has been poisoned, Toby. I must act quickly to try and slow down the spread of the poisoning. I had to take out the black stinger too."
Abigail nodded and came over to the bed with bandages and the paste. "It was the work of the Solamian's. Only they have a stinger of which they usually apply with a mix of their own blood and the poison of choice. Though knowing them, Hemlock is commonly used, so I'm hoping this will help."
I continued to sit at the end of the bed, tears still rolling down my face. Abigail applied the paste and bandages to my grandfather's neck before getting a mug ready for a cup of tea. Once Remus had lit the fire he came over and sat next to me. He put an arm around my shoulders and gently turned my face towards him.
"Everything will be fine Toby." His voice trembled a little. He wiped the tears off my face. "Your grandfather is a fighter. He'll get through this."
I broke out crying again and Remus held me in his arms. It was a while before I had stopped crying and just after I did my grandfather seemed to wake up just long enough to drink about half a mug of chamomile tea. He then went back to rest saying that he felt weak. And so day after day I visited my grandfather. Most days Remus came with me, other days I went alone. I wanted to be there for my grandfather and to be the first to know if anything changed. Eventually there came a day where Remus came to Abigail's while I sat beside my grandfather.
"Toby, come with me."
"Just come. Please."
I reluctantly got up and followed Remus. He led me outside and headed towards the clearing with the gazebo. He sat me down on the two-seater chair. He looked at me.
"Tobias, I'm getting worried about you. All you do is sit next to your grandfather and watch over him for most of the day. You've hardly eaten and you've lost some weight because of it. I don't want you to become unhealthy because of the attack on your grandfather."
I knew he was right. I wasn't doing anyone any good by staying my grandfather's side. I stared into the trees. Then something odd happened. I was contacted by my grandfather of whom I thought was too weak to do much.
"They know…..They come…."
"What did you say?"
I turned to Remus not realising that I had whispered the words of which my grandfather had said.
"They know…..They come…."
I got up and ran back to Abigail's with Remus on my heels. I burst into the house and knelt beside my grandfather.
"Alistair, what do you mean? They know what? How long until they get here? Alistair! Please! Answer me!" I begged and begged for my grandfather to answer me, to show some sign that he had heard me. Abigail came up behind me and checked his pulse.
"He's gone, Tobias. There's nothing you can do."
She placed a hand on my shoulder briefly before leaving to give me and Remus some privacy. I felt a hole in my life appear….a hole that my grandfather had filled in the short time that I had known him. I didn't know if I wanted to cry or scream. I felt Remus place an arm around my shoulders. I pushed his arm away from me.
"Don't touch me."
Remus looked at me and gently cupped my face in one hand.
"I said don't touch me." I growled and looked at Remus fiercely.
"Toby, I'm sorry that he's gone. He really was a great leader."
"I don't care!" I stood up and went over to the door. "I don't care if he was a great leader! He left me before I got to know him properly! Just like my grandmother! Just like my mother!" Tears rolled down my face in streams, blurring my vision. "Can't anyone stay long enough for me to be able to talk to them? To get to know them? I had questions I wanted answered but no one has been able to because they've all been busy and you damn well avoided me for a good week or two! All because you didn't know how to tell me how you felt and because you were afraid I would reject you! Never have I felt so alone! You can go and burn in hell for all I goddamn care!"
I stormed out of Abigail's house and headed back to the gazebo. Remus had followed me out of the house and called out to me. I didn't look back; I completely ignored Remus and everyone who tried talking to me. I just wanted to be left alone. I sat on the steps of the gazebo for hours and as I had finally calmed down my father came towards me and stood a few feet in front of me.
"Abigail told me what happened after Alistair passed away. She heard everything you said to Remus." He paused for a bit. "She ended up holding him in her arms as he cried. He felt rejected. You shouldn't have reacted the way you did. All he was trying to do was be supportive. He's afraid that what you two may have had may never be there anymore."
I kept silent and kept my tear-filled gaze on the ground but my father never looked away from me.
"I want you to apologise to Remus at the earliest convenience. Also the funeral will be held tomorrow. I expect you to be there. It'll be held just after lunch."
My father then left me sitting on the gazebo steps. I looked up and watched him as he went. I suddenly felt bad for how I had treated Remus and fresh tears rolled down my face. I then headed to my dad's and just lay on my bed as I tried to think of a way to apologise to Remus. I soon fell asleep.
It was dark and I was flying leisurely through the night. The breeze ruffled my feathers and fur and everything seemed to be fine. I then heard something whistle past me. I let out a cry of surprise. Again I heard the whistle and something hit me. I cried out in pain and started falling. I could see something protruding from my chest. I hit the ground with enough force to break a few bones.
I suddenly woke and sat up with my heart racing. I could feel sweat dripping down my face. It was only a dream, nothing to be scared of. I lay back down and tried to get back to sleep.