In response to: exhero's "get-together angst/lime request" on fic_on_demand.
She'd taken the small, leather-bound books out of their hiding places, every single one of them, and brought them with her in a cloth sack to a lonely corner of the house shaded by towering trees.
She'd kept the diaries since she was a little girl. She still remembered the little thrill she'd gotten whenever she smoothed out a brand new notebook, its pages white and pristine, as if heralding yet another chapter in her life, waiting for a pen to mark down new adventures and blossoming feelings. She'd felt so grown up every time she'd finished writing to the last page.
Squatting down, she shook the books out onto the ground. Some of them were yellow by now, and one or two were downright brown. How many years had passed? How many sleepless nights and hot—or happy—tears had she cried into these pages? Agonizing minutes and hours and days and weeks of a girl's grief and anger, and then a teenager's confusion, splotched with indecisions of hate and self and love.
She willed herself to remember their faces. With each passing day, it was more and more difficult to remember Ed. He was slipping through her fingers like sand in the wind, and it hurt that the clearest memory she had of him was of listening to his voice, boisterous and obstinate and strangely childish. And because she couldn't see Al without thinking of Ed, and because she had to fight herself not to blame Al for Ed's disappearance, she'd chosen not to see Al at all. And that hurt too.
She closed her eyes and reached for her pocket...only to realize that she'd not brought the matchbox with her.
“I can help you with that.”
The smell of him, and the sense of his presence, solid and comfortingly adult, was so familiar by now that she didn't even jump at the sound of his voice. She heard the words and processed their meaning a second later. Hesitation immediately seized her, so that her fingers fumbled, and she cursed softly under her breath.
“...You don't have to forget them.”
The memory, of the ghost of his touch, hot and firm, sliding down between her collarbones, his other hand bare of glove—warm and human—pulling her to him under harshly whispered promises that everything would be alright...she shuddered minutely despite herself, and made herself open her eyes to look at him. “That wouldn't be fair to you.”
He was silent for a long moment, but she already knew what he was going to say. Life isn't fair. In the same way that he'd given her so much, and been gracious enough not to push her for an answer, while all she'd been able to give in return were wordless nights in the dark; that hadn't been fair to him, either, and she'd let herself do it anyway.
So she tried for a smile instead; it came out shaky, and the sudden cold in her veins warred with a heat that rose in her cheeks and in her blood. “Would you burn these for me? Please?”
He glanced at her face, then stepped closer and really gazed at her, his one visible eye troubled. In the set of his shoulders, she could already read the readiness to do as she said, the readiness to take her into his arms after that. He would protect her, let the world fade away around them if she so wished, as he'd promised.
She reached out, slowly, willing her hands not to tremble, and then she clasped his face, stumbled more than stepped into his embrace. Take me away.
Take me away from all of this.
Distantly, she knew he was sliding on the glove. His free hand came to rest on the top of her head, stroking back stray tendrils. She heard him snap his fingers, and then heard the faint crackle as her memories began to smolder and burn behind her.