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 The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)

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Ceyal Kalhoun
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PostSubject: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:50 pm

His third year at Hogwarts was coming to a close. So far, it had been an interesting journey, different from what he'd always known. The wizarding and Muggle worlds were do different from each other but Ceyal couldn't say that he hadn't enjoyed it. It was a welcome change, and though he wasn't used to the wizarding ways of doing things yet, he was learning.

The only thing he didn't like was being away from Esther. He received weekly correspondence from Mr. and Mrs. Brown, but that wasn't enough for him. He wanted to hold her in his arms and know for sure that she was alright. At least he would have the summer holidays to spend with her.

With his History of Magic essay done, Ceyal grabbed his harmonica, and whistled for Hope. The husky jumped off his bed and stayed right at his heels as he made his way down to the lake. It was one of the places - besides the library - that Ceyal frequented, mainly because it gave him silence. That, including the absence of other human beings, made it very appealing to him.  

As usual, he was the only human in sight and he headed towards his favourite spot, a large grey rock the perfect distance from the water. He sat himself down and watched for a while as Hope went sniffing amongst the bushes. She brought a branch for him, urging him to play fetch with her. He obliged, a rare smile curving his lips in the slightest bit as he sent the branch flying over and over again. When Hope tired out, she lay down with a huff at his feet and Ceyal gave the dog a rub behind the ears.

Taking his harmonica out, he blew a tune in time with the rhythm of the water against the shore, enjoying his solitude and the peace of nature as his mind ventured - like it always did - to the past.
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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Thu Aug 03, 2017 6:55 am

TW: Rape, depression, etc.

Fifteen was a weird age.

Sometimes, Brooke felt so very, very old, experiences no 30 year old should have gone through, let alone someone her age, swarming in her memories. The flashbacks didn't happen quite as often anymore, but there were still some triggering things. One of those things had been a conversation she'd overheard while passing by a group of students; they were talking about some homework they had, a report on some war, and had mentioned rape. Without quite knowing what happened, her throat caught and she found her mind going back to that day.

So she did what she had been taught to do and turned, quickly, making her way out from the crowds. Her plans to meet up with a friend from her house was long forgotten, but Brooke knew that she wouldn't mind. They all understood if she didn't show up it was because she needed time alone to sort through whatever it was that cropped up.

Leaving the castle, she started down the path to the lake. Cassie had told her to find two or three places of solitude that she could go to whenever she needed to calm down and for that reason alone. So, Brooke had explored the castle and found just that -- one was in a small nook in the owlery, the other was behind one of the Greenhouses, and the last as a rock, some distance away from the lake.

It was to this last one that she headed to now. By the time she neared it, her mind had cleared somewhat, but there were still the lingering traces of panic that clamped her heart and made her stomach churn.

"I'm safe. I'm safe," she muttered to herself. "Nothing can hurt me here." Just to prove her point, she slipped out her wand and focused on Carissa's face and laugh when Colby made a funny face, her parents watching with huge grins. "Expecto patronum," she muttered. Cassie had made her practise it over and over and over until she could produce a corporal one, and Brooke watched with dim satisfaction as the dolphin danced momentarily in the air. It wasn't so much the spell that helped, she'd only recently realised, but the practice behind the ability to produce it -- it was the focus on a happy memory that helped. She let the dolphin swim through the air, leading the way, for a few more seconds before she ended the spell; she had arrived.

It was only now that she heard the music and turned, eyes wide that someone else was there -- not because she was worried or wanted to be alone, but because she hadn't meant to show off or be seen. It was a Ravenclaw in the same year; she recognised him from around school, although they'd never really talked much before.

"Mind if I sit?" she asked, straight to the point as always, nodding at the ground. "I won't bother you or anything, I promise. This is just the place I come to when I need to..." She searched for the right word, pausing momentarily. "...to find peace. But I can go somewhere else if you'd rather be alone."
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Ceyal Kalhoun
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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:35 am

The last notes of the harmonica hung in the air before floating away on the slight breeze that filtered through the trees. Ceyal listened to the silence for a minute before putting the instrument to his lips and beginning a new song. This time instead of playing one that already existed, he composed one, a lullaby for Esther. The melody told the story of sunshine dancing on the waves of the lake, it spoke of timid creatures hiding in the trees, it spoke of the whisper in the breeze. It spoke of peace.

He hadn't yet fully finished the song when something bright caught his eyes. He shot a glance at Hope to see that her ears had twitched but she hadn't bothered getting up or moving her head. He was in no danger. His gaze returned to whatever it was, and what he saw made his lips part in surprise. It was a patronus, a dolphin, glinting silvery blue and swimming through the air. Where'd it come from? Whomever it belonged to had to be very skilled.

He stared at it for a while then put the harmonica back to his lips, wanting to capture the beauty of the dolphin and put it in song. He'd only gotten a few notes out when the dolphin disappeared and was replaced by a voice. His dark eyes turned to the source and landed on a witch with the most fascinating eyes. There was a story behind them, he could tell, just like there was one in his. Eyes spoke of things a soul and mouth wanted to but could not form in words.

He inclined his head to the empty space near him as a silent answer to her question. Though he did not particularly like company, he understood what it was like to crave peace. Growing up in a tumultous household, it was an elusive but necessary thing. It was something he'd been trying to find his whole life but it stubbornly remained out of his grasp. Horror was too strong and peace too fleeting.

It was very apt to phrase it as 'finding peace'. It was a constant search for something he had never experienced and would probably never find, in this life or the next.

Hope did her thing, sniffing the girl out and seeking attention from the newcomer. He'd seen the girl around and knew that her name was Brooke. He recalled that she'd disappeared for a year, but that was all he knew about her.
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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:51 am

She was grateful for the 'permission' to join him, and she slid her wand back into her pocket before sitting, raising one knee up and leaving the other leg straight. Part of her wanted to say 'hi', so make conversation and possibly a new friend, but most of her wanted solitude, even if it was beside someone else, and so she said nothing, instead shooting him a smile. She let her gaze move out towards the lake before a wet nose startled her and pulled her out of her thoughts seconds later.

She turned her head to regard the dog, a smile growing. "Hey," she murmured, reaching out to pet its head. A quick glance told her the gender of the dog, and she let out a laugh as she forced her head onto Brooke's lap. "Hey girl, what's your name, hmm?" she asked, her tone the typical high tone it took on around dogs.

Scratching behind the dog's ear, Brooke let her mind wander.

Her daughter would turn four months in a few days, and Brooke was itching to be there on that day. It was a Saturday, and the last her parents had said, they were going to floo over to Hogsmeade so that Brooke would be able to see Carissa. Once more, she was filled with love at the thought of her family. Imperfect in so many ways and yet so perfect at the end of it all.

Her mind turned to the male sitting next to her. Ravenclaw, if she wasn't mistaken. He'd been seen around classes, before her year off, but she'd never talked to him. She'd been too busy with her friends and talking to those who initiated conversations with her to go after those who seemed to enjoy being alone -- at least, that was before she realised how much solitude helped her cope. A whole new world opened up to her and she began not just noticing those who preferred to be alone but wondering the reason behind it.

Ceyal.

That was his name. It was unusual, and not one that she had heard before. It suited him, somehow, although she couldn't say why. But true to her word, she wasn't going to say anything or speak; if he wanted to talk, he'd initiate.

A sudden flash. A face in her mind. A familiar sensation of falling, falling, falling, and she was back on the floor of the wooden cabin. Why now? Why here? she chided herself mentally, but it was no use, and her breath caught as she squeezed her eyes shut. She knew exactly what it was -- a panic attack, triggered by nothing. They were getting less and less frequent, but they still happened at random times. PTSD, she was told, and while she was almost better, almost didn't mean completely.

In. Out. In. Out. She focused on her breathing, forcing herself to take slow and steady breaths. Her hands were squeezed into fits by her side, her nails digging into her palm. They would leave a mark for a day or so, but nothing permanent. Luckily, there were no tears this time round, and all Brooke could do was ride it out. Minutes passed by as the anxiety and panic slowly faded to numbness, and as soon as she had gotten control of her emotions and feelings, she opened her eyes.

Only then did she remember she wasn't entirely alone, and her eyes widened as she turned to look at Ceyal. Had he noticed? While she'd never seen herself having one, she knew that sometimes she made strangled cries, and sometimes she stopped breathing and gasped for air when she next did. She didn't know when she did either, for in the moment all she knew was the panic and fear. Her eyes found him, and she waited, not knowing what else to do or say.
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Ceyal Kalhoun
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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Thu Aug 03, 2017 12:11 pm

Ceyal eyed her from the corner of his eyes as she seated herself. She had to be a pretty powerful witch to be able to summon a patronus. He may not be entirely familiar with the wizarding world yet but he did know that it took skill to be able to produce the charm, much less a corporeal one like Brooke had done. There were not many people Ceyal respected in the world but his regard for a girl grew the tiniest bit.

He cringed a little when she addressed Hope in a different tone of voice. He never understood why people had to change their voices around babies, dogs, or animals in general. Why? You could talk to them normally they'd still respond. There was no necessecity to alter one's voice at all.

"Hope," he said, breaking the silence. "Her name is Hope." Another thing he disliked was when people called Hope 'girl'. She wasn't a girl, she was a dog, a dog who meant the world to him and was deserving of a name and not just 'girl'. To be fair, Brooke had indirectly asked for her name.

He watched as Hope soaked up the attention Brooke was giving her, enjoying the silence as he thought back to the time he'd found Hope. Esther was fast asleep and he'd taken a walk, needing to be alone for a while. He'd heard a soft sort of crying noise and went to investigate, finding a puppy with a broken leg. That was the start of the only friendship Ceyal ever had and he cherished it. "Hope" seemed to be the only fitting name to give her at that point in both their lives.

A low whine broke him out of his reveried and his eyes refocused on the dog and Brooke. The former had laid her head firmly in Brooke's lap, whining quietly as her deep brown eyes gazed upward at the human. Ceyal frowned. Hope only ever did that when she was comforting someone, namely, him.

His gaze travelled upward to see Brooke, her eyes closed as she tried to steayd her breath. He knew what was happening. She was having a panic attack of sorts. While he'd never had a full blown panic attack, more than once, he'd woken up in a cold sweat in the grip of terror. The nightmares happened almost every night and Hope was always there to help him through it. He'd hug her tight as he breathed through the pangs of fear.

He waited, letting Brooke calm herself down, keeping his eyes on her to make sure that she didn't need medical aid. People did not get panic attacks for no reason. There was always something that triggered it, some past experience in which panic made its home. Brooke, up till now, had seemed like such a normal girl. When he saw her in classes or with her friends, he didn't think there was anything much beyond what she portrayed.

Her eyes opened and met his. Although he disliked socialising to the point that he would do everything in his power to avoid speaking unless absolutely necessary, he knew that this was not the time for silence. He understood hurt, he understood pain, he understood distress. He understood. And he had to say something. Mr. and Mrs. Brown had done so much for him after his beloved mother passed away. The least he could do was be there for someone else who needed it.

Hope herself was showing her concern by licking Brooke's hands and fingers, the same way she always did for him.

"Are you alright?" It was a sincere question, not the kind that people threw around to seem polite when they really didn't want to know if you were doing okay.

He wouldn't ask about what caused the panic attack because then, he was obligated to share his part of the story. Nobody knew who he was and he wanted to keep it that way.

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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Thu Aug 03, 2017 12:51 pm

Her hand automatically went to the dog's -- Hope's, she distantly recalled him saying, just before the attack happened -- head, telling her without words that she was now okay. Balto often did the same, although he was still too playful to accompany her to school. A few more lessons, though, and he'd have his cert, proving that he was qualified as an emotional support dog, and she'd be able to take him with her everywhere.

As she turned, she found Ceyal looking at her. Damn. How would she explain it away? It was difficult to begin to articulate it, why someone of fifteen would act that way. She had a few go-to lies, of course, but she hated using them; still, not everyone took kindly to her saying she had PTSD, and she knew why the lies were important -- wrong, perhaps, but important and necessary nevertheless. But as she met his eyes, the lies died on her lips.

There was something akin to understanding in his look, something that said 'I know', and know intimately, not the fake kind where you'd read one or two articles on a subject. It was a look that said he knew exactly what it was like because he had those, too, and been through it and still went through it. It was a look that said she'd found someone who, like her, was a survivor of things so horrible they couldn't be spoken about to anyone but those who Understood. Interesting, how she couldn't talk about her past without making others uncomfortable.

If he Understood, she wouldn't -- couldn't -- lie.

The question came, as they always did. What's wrong? Are you okay? What happened? You alright? There were so many variations of it that she was certain she'd heard it all. She'd learnt, therefore, to distinguish between those who meant it and those who were asking because it was the 'right thing' to do and not because they cared. Ceyal was the former, and a smile touched her features as she raised a shoulder in a shrug.

"No." She let her shoulder drop. "But I will be." A pause. A wider smile as she decided to not hold back. It was so rare to find someone who Understood, after all. "In time, I suppose. That's what my parents say; they mean well, but honestly, they have it wrong. My therapist was more blunt, which I appreciate. 'Brooke', she said to me, 'I've never fed you bullshit before and I never will -- some people live with PTSD their whole life. If you're one of those people, you'll learn to live with it.'"

She'd mimicked Cassie's voice as she quoted her, and then let out a laugh when she finished. "It sounded much more comforting when she said it, I swear." There was another pause and then, genuinely, seriously, Brooke added, "Are you? Alright, I mean."
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Ceyal Kalhoun
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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Thu Aug 03, 2017 2:00 pm

He waited for her to answer, wondering what she would say. Would she - like him - shrug and nod then put up a wall of silence nobody dared to penetrate? He would understand if she did that. They'd just met and it wasn't common behaviour to show one's demons to someone you barely knew. He'd asked the question to let her know that he cared and would listen if she wanted to talk. But if she didn't that was alright too.

Merlin knew that he'd kept his silence for days after his mother passed. Questions that could be answered with a yes or no was done with a nod or shake of the head. Oftentimes, he'd ignore the question altogether and stare at the person until they felt so uncomfortable they never approached him again.

But Mrs. Brown had got through to him merely just by tucking him into bed and staying outside his bedroom door as he sobbed through the night. He'd refused to let her in but she always stayed right at the door and the knowledge that she was there helped him go back to sleep. It was that persistence that helped him break his silence even when the first words out of his lips to her were, "I like your cake." Mrs. Brown had taken it in stride, not making a big deal out of his speech.

After that, he spoke more easily. Of course, there were days where he just needed to be in his bubble but when he was comfortable, he'd venture out of his den and take a sniff of the fragrance of kindness that Mrs. Brown offerend before going back into hiding.

The only person he spoke regularly to was Esther.

Brooke answered and Ceyal responded with a nod, keeping his eyes on her as she continued to talk about her parents and therapist. It always did annoy it when people said, "You will heal with time". He found that statement rather untrue, at least for him. Time didn't erase what happened in the past. Nothing could erase what happened in the past.

Brooke revealed that she had PTSD and Ceyal wasn't surprised. There was a reason she had a panic attack. While he didn't have PTSD, he knew what it was like when the memories threatened to suffocate him.

Her laugh was beautiful. That she could laugh after having gone through something so traumatising that it left her with PTSD amazed him. He couldn't recall the last time he laughed. He always had reason to smile when he was with Esther, but apart from that nothing else ever gave him cause to laugh.

She returned the question and he paused, not quite expecting it. He was tempted to give his usual response of a shrug but she'd been honest with him and he felt compelled to do the same. Besides, he had a feeling that she was different. If she could go through whatever she did and still be capable of laughter, she wasn't like anybody else he'd ever met, and his instincs weren't usually wrong.

"No." He let the word hang in the air for a while, tearing his eyes away from hers and letting his gaze drift to the lake. "And I won't be."
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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Thu Aug 03, 2017 2:28 pm

The no didn't take her by surprise. Ceyal, from what she remembered, was a loner, and those were usually that for a reason. Besides, he'd been sitting in solitude with a dog for company, staring at the lake. How 'alright' could he be? But she said nothing yet, waiting for him to add more -- if he was going to. He did, and the words made a wry smile tug at her lips.

Hadn't she thought the exact same thing? Hadn't that been the only thing on her mind as she cried herself to sleep, only to wake up hours later screaming? And hadn't Cassie simply said "You're wrong"? She'd been right, of course, and Brooke was here, not dead.

"Eh," she said, lightly. A moment later, she went on. "If there's one absolute statement I stand by is that absolute statements are usually always wrong." She grinned. "Of course, that means I could be wrong about that, but it's a chance I'm willing to take." She paused to put her arms around Hope and give the dog a short, fleeting hug, and then let go and resumed her scratching. "It might seem like you won't ever get better, but it does, eventually. Never back to the way it was before, of course, and it would be stupid to think it could ever be the same. If not better, different, and I've always been one to say that different is better than staying the same."

Absentmindedly, she stopped patting Hope and brought her hands together, gently feeling the scars on her wrists. She'd been given the option to hide them with spells and potions, and for many months she did, until Cassie. Now she left them visible to anyone who had eyes, but not for them -- it was for her, a reminder of all she'd been through and all she could survive. A nudge made her return her attention to the dog with a chuckle and a soft, "Alright, alright, you impatient thing."

She, too, turned to look at the lake, watching the sky reflecting across the still water, only tiny ripples breaking the illusion. Long moments passed, during which she said nothing, enjoying the light breeze and the view. One day, she would have to show Carissa all of this in person. Time passed, although how much Brooke couldn't say, before she turned back to him.

"You're wrong, you know," she said, so quietly he could ignore it if he wanted to. A short pause, another laugh. "I suppose it's our way of giving the demons of our lives one large middle finger. Surviving despite all they've thrown at us, I mean. Making it. Others'll never really understand, of course. How could they? But from one survivor to another, you'll make it." She shrugged. "Or you won't. Either way, give 'em hell."
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Ceyal Kalhoun
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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:15 pm

He'd never admitted it before, never said out loud that he wasn't alright. Whenever people asked him that question - or some other variation of it - he'd always just answer in the affirmative or ignore them altogether. It was easier than saying 'no' and having to deal with everything that came after. People didn't know how to respond when you said you weren't alright. To Mrs. Brown, he'd never lie and when she asked that question, he chose to turn his head away instead. It was his way of telling her that he wasn't alright without having to say it out loud. Because saying out loud made it real.

But he'd fooled himself into thinking he was alright, into thinking that there was nothing wrong, that perhaps ignoring everything would make it go away. Saying it out loud to Brooke, made him realise that in reality, he wasn't alright. And he believed what he'd said, that he would never be alright. How was he supposed to be alright when every night he dreamed of his father beating him and his mother up? How was he supposed to be alright when the knowledge that he had a sister somewhere out there - and he might never find her -  haunted him? How was he supposed to be alright when he was the cause of his father's death?

The man deserved to die, but Ceyal didn't want blood on his hands. Nobody knew about that day and he certainly didn't want Brooke to know. How'd she react if she knew she was speaking to a murderer? Sure, she might be one-of-a-kind and not like everybody else. But he didn't think that she take the news very well if he revealed the way his father had perished.

She spoke and he listened, the tiniest of smiles curving his once passive expression when she wasn't awkward at his admission that he wasn't alright. Most people always expect a 'yes' to the question that when they received the opposite, they didn't quite know what to say. But Brooke had a lot to say and while he didn't completely agree with her, her words made sense. Until she got to one part. Never back to the way it was before, of course... Never back to the way it was before? He didn't want to go back to the way it was before. That meant his father still an abusive drunkard, that meant his mother still suffered under his hand, that meant his sister thrown out into the world at three months old.

There was no happiness in before. There never was happiness. It just was. The only time in his life that he was remotely happy was when Arnold was dead and they came to London from New York. Loveen struggled to make ends meet as she worked odd jobs to put food in his mouth, but they had each other and that was more than enough. Even then, it didn't stay that way. The only before he wanted was one with his mother alive and Elouise with them. But that had never existed and so that could never be.

He didn't say anything in response. There was nothing to say. It was too long and dark a story to tell and he wasn't ready to let her take a peek into tumultous soul. She might drown in what she stepped into.

Movement caught his eyes, and he glanced at her in time to catch her fiddling with her hands to which his gaze travelled. Almost immediately, he noticed the scars that were there and his eyes widened in surprise. He knew she'd been through a lot from what she'd told him. But to have gone to the point of cutting herself, it must have been something really really bad. He'd never thought of harming himself, but then again, everybody responded differently to situations in their life.

Before he could think about it, the words were out of his lips. "You cut yourself." It wasn't a question. It was a statement. Realising what he'd said, he apologised. Another thing he hated was nosy people who just wouldn't leave him alone when he wanted to be. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..." Out of words, he used his hands to motion to hers.

She was silent for a while and he was content to leave it like that, the both of them enjoying the peace that nature offered. Then she spoke again, so softly that he almost didn't catch it. He understood where she was coming from and agreed with her. Living life, and not just surving, was like an 'in your face' to the darkness that haunted a person. But his own darkness he could live with. He'd lived with it for so long that it just became normal to him. It was something else that disturbed him far more than his own demons.

He made an assenting noise at the back to his throat, saying that he ageed with what she'd said. "My demons I can live with," he said, turning his eyes back to hers. Could she see the haunted look in them? "But I will never be truly alright until I know where my sister is." He paused, thinking about Elouise. There was a chance that she'd been picked up and adopted into a loving family. But what were the chances of that happening? There were hundreds and hundreds of orphans all around the world. What were the chances that one baby in a hundred would be adopted and brought up in a good environment?

"My demons I can live with and fight," he continued. "I don't care if I make it or not. I care whether she makes it. Whether she survives." It was the most he had revealed to someone. Not even Mr. or Mrs. Brown knew that he had another sister besides Esther.
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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:52 pm

TW: Cutting, attempted suicide.

He didn't reply, not that she expected him to. Not many people knew what to say in response to... well, her as a person. She'd had many one-way conversations before, and those never fully turned out well. It was stupid, really; they asked questions and then couldn't handle what she said. True, sometimes she liked to give more details than necessary, if only to mess with them -- she had to maintain some degree of fun in her life, after all -- but still. Why ask if you didn't mean it? That was something she'd never understand.

His question didn't exactly catch her off guard; with her scars on display, it was obviously a point of interest to others. Still, his sudden voicing out startled her, and she turned to flash him a smile, waving away the apology. "If I minded, I would have accepted their offer to hide it," she said. She gently touched the marks on either of her wrists, almost fondly, and then returned to petting Hope.

"No, I don't. I mean, I didn't, sort of," she said, her tone only matter-of-fact; it was her past, and it didn't change whether or not she wanted it to. The best she could do now was embrace it, and embrace it fully. Why bother hiding? She wasn't embrassed. It had been a mistake, sure, and she regretted it, of course, but she wasn't embrassed about it. There was no point in feeling shame for something you did a long time ago when you weren't in your best state of mind. "It wasn't the type of self-harming that I think you mean. It was more... well, two precise cuts at the veins."

She turned her free hand towards him so that, if he chose, he could take a closer look and see that she was right; there weren't repeated lines that came with a repetitive cutting habit. "I tried to kill myself," she clarified. "Luckily, dad's an auror and when he heard the water splashing out of the tub, his insticts kicked in, and then he did the same to the door. Luckily second, mum's a healer, so she knew what to do to stop bleeding. Luckily third, I didn't have enough strength to do the right wrist, and missed the artery."

Luckily fourth, I didn't kill my baby, she thought. That was just a tad too private for a first meeting, though, considering she'd have to go into detail about how she came to have a baby, and that meant reliving the rape, and while she was okay with sharing it, she'd just gone through a panic attack. Right now, she didn't want to think about it. And so she focused on Hope instead, and Ceyal, and the lake.

There was something about his eyes that said whatever he was admitting was something that he'd stuggled with long and hard. She didn't comment on it, instead taking his words in. His sister? Were they separated at birth? Whatever the case, she could understand, even if not fully. The last statement, though, she could relate to entirely.

"I know the feeling," she said, softly. Perhaps it was a different circumstance, but it was true nevertheless. For a long time, the only reason she ate and fought to not give up was for the unborn baby in her stomach, and then when Carissa was born, the baby that depended on her for survival. Her life suddenly had meaning again the moment she held her baby in her arms.

There was a short lull, and then, she said, "So we'll find your sister." She shrugged. "I mean, you know she exists, so that's a good start. Do you know her name or what she looks like? It'll be hard, of course, but not impossible. I mean, seven-ish billion people in the world, yea, but you know she's a she, so that cuts it down. And you know her age -- you do, right? -- so that cuts it down further. That leaves, what, a few million? That's a workable number, isn't it? We could do something with that, can't we?"
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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Fri Aug 04, 2017 9:17 am

Ceyal waited anxiously after his apology, unsure if he’d insulted Brooke by pointing out her scars. He wasn't usually concerned about what people thought but in the few minutes that they’d conversed, he felt that they’d formed an odd bond of sorts fused from an unexpected understanding of the other person and he found himself not wanting to offend her. She was the only person in the whole school with whom he’d spoken more than a few words with and revealed the most of himself to. Nobody got close enough to him to know even the name of his dog, much less take a glimpse into his past.

But her answer left him at it. She had made peace with her scars and so didn't want to hide it. Except for the one running down from the corner of his right eye to the middle of his cheek, the rest of his scars were hidden beneath his clothes. Underneath his hoodie lay faint puckered lines, reminders of the cruelty man was capable of. He couldn't help the one on his face, but the rest he hid it with clothes as best as he could. Showing them only invited people to ask what had happened and he wasn't keen on sharing.

But Brooke wasn't done. Two precise cuts at the veins. That meant...she tried to kill herself. Ceyal's gaze jumped from her wrists to her eyes, searching the beautiful depths to see if she was speaking the truth. Suicide was no laughing matter and more than once, he'd come across ignorant people who thought it was something to joke around about.

But all he could see in her eyes were honesty. She was the exact opposite him. Where he was a closed book, unwilling to share the broken pieces of himself to anyone, she was open. It wasn't everyday that he met someone willing to share that they had attempted suicide. It just wasn't something you told someone when you first met them.

"That's a lot of luck," he commented dryly, then paused as he thought of what to say next. He wouldn't apologise and say that he was sorry to hear that. She'd gone through tragic things and apologising was what everyone did to seem polite. She'd walked down the road and come out alive, victorious. There was nothing to be sorry in that. Her scars told a story, one of strength and triumph.

"You're blessed to have such caring parents," he said instead. He wouldn't ask what made her suicidal. She could share if she wanted to but he wasn't going to pry.

At her reply to him sharing about Elouise, he raised a cynical eyebrow. "You have a sister somewhere in the world who you're trying to find?" he scoffed lightly. Of course, he knew that she identified with the feeling and not with his particular situation but he doubted that she could truly understand how devastating it was to know that someone you loved was somewhere out in the world and you could never find them because you didn't even know what they looked like.

The next sentence out of her mouth put his guard up. This was why he didn't like sharing things with others. They always tried to make it their business, meddling in things that they had no clue about. Either that or they tried to dig for more information to gossip about. Which was what Brooke was doing.

He was just about to get up and walk away when she went on. And on and on. It became pretty obvious that she meant no harm. In fact, her word vomit amused him and a smile twitched at the corner of his lips which he allowed to grow into a small grin as he shook his head lightly.

He remained silent for a while after she finished speaking, turning his eyes back to the water. "We'll never find her," he finally said. "She was three months old. She'd be six now." A baby changed a lot and the only thing that would be recognisable was her eyes. There was also the necklace on which Loveen had carved her name, but items could be easily lost or stolen. "And she was last in New York. I've tried calling all the orphanages and hospitals but nothing turned up." He paused for a while, taking a deep breath to rein in his emotions. "A girl changes a lot from three months to six years."

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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Fri Aug 04, 2017 9:50 am

His comment made her laugh, part because it had been funny, part because he was right, and part out of relief that he wasn't one of Those People. They tended to make a big deal out of it, offering words of comfort or advice, freaking out and saying things like 'but you seem so happy'. To those, she merely smiled and nodded, saying nothing but seething inside. They meant well, she was sure, but how ignorant could people be? Very, apparently.

"Yea, I suppose," she replied, during the short pause. "But isn't that what life is? A series of 'luckilies' that brought you here alive instead of dead. I mean, luckily when I was born the umbilical cord didn't cut off my circulation and kill me -- that almost happened with my older brother, apparently. Luckily I didn't, say, fall down the stairs when I came out of the castle and break my neck just now. Luckily a, oh, I don't know, dementor didn't come swooping in and kiss us both."

She laughed once more. She did that -- laugh -- a lot; it was better than not having any emotions at all, and as long as she could feel the urge to laugh she knew she would be alright. "Luck, no luck, I'm still here. A second chance, a new beginning, that whole bullshit that people say." She flashed him a grin. "Scars tell a story. Some better than others, but as my therapist said -- shit happens. Might as well put it to good use and throw it at idiots. If nothing else, it'll make you laugh. So, I tell people my story and laugh when they get flustered -- not you, of course. I told you cos you're like me. A survivor. I don't bullshit those like us. I mean, that is what you're not asking, right? Why I told you."

This didn't technically needed to be said; she didn't need to give any reasons as to why she'd shared the story with him, or why she was so open. But she wanted to. He deserved an answer. After all, like she said, she didn't lie to other survivors. There was strength in numbers, strength in sharing stories and life, and she didn't mind the openness with someone who understood.

His next comment made her smile. "Yea, I am," she said, simply. There was more to say, but her mind had taken her back to the day of the adoption, when she'd first met who would eventually become 'mum' and 'dad'. She was blessed. There was no doubt about that. "I wonder if they knew what they were getting into when they chose me," she added, dryly, indicating her wrists with a light grin to show she was kidding.

At his statement, she shook her head, a wry smile on her lips. "No, not that. I meant the whole only dealing with life and demons for someone else. Having them be the reason you fight, because you couldn't give a crap if you live or die, but they have to. They're an innocent. They don't deserve any of it -- not that we did, either, mind, but it's different when it's someone else. They have to make it, because you don't want them to have to go through anything remotely similar to what you've experienced -- and you'd do anything to make that a reality." She paused, mind no longer on his sister but her daughter. "Yea, that I get."

Nodding at the information, she joked, "Now what did I tell you about absolutes?" She frowned a little, mulling over what he'd said. "So, America. Hospitals and orphanages are a good start." But she knew that not everyone who ended up on the street as either babies or children ended up going there; she would know, after all. She didn't voice this. Why offer more pessimism? "Have you tried homeless shelters or police stations? I know people from the system. They might know people in the US who know people who work there. New York, you said, right?"
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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:33 am

Her words brought another smile to his lips. This was a strange feeling, smiling at someone other than Esther. The whole thing was strange. He never spoke more than two or three words to anyone in school and here he was having a whole conversation with Brooke. she had a good sense of humour and he supposed that was what got her through the tough times.

He was the complete opposite. Not that he didn't have a sense of humour, but it wasn't his coping mechanism. His was music and silence. It was a paradox, but in music, he could express his emotions and thoughts; it was an outlet for him. And in silence he could sort through his thoughts, make sense of his life and the mess that it was.

He wouldn't call himself lucky. He was alive yes, but he hadn't attributed that to luck. It was more of a dogged determination to stay alive. He could still recall the instances where his mother had to nurse his wounds as he lay bleeding and bruised on the bed. That hadn't been luck.

There were times when he wished he was dead instead of alive, when he wished that his father had killed him off instead of leaving him floating between life and death. But his will to live for his mother was greater than his need of relief from the hell he'd lived through. He wouldn't let her live with Arnold on her own. He had to be there for her and that was what kept him fighting to stay alive.

A half chuckle escaped his mouth. It wasn't laughter but more of a throaty sound that hinted at laughter. "Your theparist sounds like an amazing person," he said. He'd never been to a therapist but in his head, they were always the kinds of people who tried to identify with you and understand what you were going through, but never could really do that because they'd never walked in your shoes. They'd sprout advice that they thought would help but in reality, didn't do much at all. Brooke's therapist, however, sounded quite the opposite. "That's good advice," he continued. "I'll keep that in mind when s*** happens."

He wasn't surprised that she'd managed to perceive he'd been wondering why she was telling him all of this. He was quiet for a moment, unsure of how to phrase his next words. "It just surprised me, that's all," he finally said, shrugging his shoulders, "that you're so open and honest with someone you barely know." He'd never shared anything about himself before Brooke, but she made it easy for him to talk and it helped that she understood as well.

"A caring person with a big heart for people that's what they got," he said matter-of-factly. Then it hit him the way she'd phrased her words. "Chose you?" Was she adopted? That had to be the only explanation for it.

He nodded, acknowledging her words. She understood more than he gave her credit for and that impressed him as well as told him that there was way more to her story than she'd shared. It was exactly the way he felt towards Elouise and Esther. He never wanted them to experience what he had. Elouise he could not help, but Esther he could protect and cherish. He wanted her to be a kid without a care in the world, without having to look over her shoulder wondering if she was going to get beaten that night. And he'd do anything to give her the childhood she deserved.

"Not many people get that," he replied. "I live for my mum and my siblings and Mr. and Mrs. Brown." He would not let his mother die in vain. She'd suffered for him; it was only fair that he lived for her. Mr. and Mrs. Brown took him and Esther in when no one would and was going to live his life in gratitude of that. He couldn't repay them monetarily, but he could be the best person he could for them.

"I'm not going to say no to help," he began slowly, "but I wouldn't get my hopes up. She could be anywhere in the world. She's got nothing that identifies her." He took a deep breath. He had to tell Brooke to help her see how impossible this was going to be. "Arnold dumped her in an alleyway without a birth certificate or anything else that identifies her. Knowing her name wouldn't help. It could've been easily changed. What would you tell your 'people'? That you're looking for a six year old girl and you don't know her name or what she looks like?"

He'd gotten rather angry by this point, his voice raised and harsh, not at Brooke because he knew she was trying to help, but at the injustice of the world. A little girl did not deserve to be thrown out of the streets like that.
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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:13 am

She grinned. "Yea, Cassie's great. Saved my life, quite literally, I think." Brooke let out a soft chuckle. "I was refusing to eat, and all the therapists they had come see me were full of the same bullcrap -- I'm sure you know what I mean. Cassie came in, told me the truth without mincing words. I liked her from the start. I only need to see her once a month, now."

The statement made her smile. "What's the point of hiding?" she asked. It was a genuine question, too, not a rhetorical one. "I mean, this is who I was, not who I am. It shaped me, perhaps for the worse, perhaps for the better -- who really knows, right? -- but it's not who I am anymore. I am... me. And that's a definition only I can give. So, why should I hide? Why should I lie and make up stories? So others don't see me as broken?" She scoffed. "Why the hell not? There's nothing wrong with being broken, or having been put back together by people who loved you too much to let you stay that way. My scars aren't hidden, visible or not. I'm not gonna hide. That doesn't work. Trust me, I've tried."

The compliment made her raise an eyebrow. He was being serious, she could tell, but she'd never dealt well with those, and she hid it behind a somewhat awkward 'eh'. Luckily, his next question gave her something else to focus on, and she nodded, glad for the change of subject, even if at the expence of her wrong word choice.

"I was adopted," she explained. "I was seven. It's... a long story, really." She left it at that. If he wanted to know, she'd tell, but not many people did.

His statement made her curious, and after debating it inwardly for a couple of seconds, she asked, "Mr. and Mrs. Brown?"

Then, to give him an out should he not wish to talk about that, she said, "I live for my parents, my brother, myself, and..." She faltered, here. Only her closest friends knew about Carissa; it was something that was close to her heart, the memories still too raw and painful for her to openly share about like she did with the other things. But he'd been so raw and honest with her, she couldn't not be the same. So, with a deep breath, she said, "...and my daughter. Carissa. She's only a few months old, and the light of my life."

She took in the words, the name given, and swallowed. She understood what it was like to not dare hope, because sometimes hope hurt more than admitting defeat, but he was wrong. He was so very wrong, and Brooke had to say something.

"I would say exactly that, actually. A three month year old girl dumed in an alleyway five and a half years ago. If you have the exact date, that helps, too, cos it can be narrowed down to a timeframe -- that's what I'm told, anyway. If you know her eye colour or hair colour, that could also help," she replied, matter-of-fact despite his angry tone. She'd learnt a long time ago to distinguish between the type of anger directed at her and not, memories of a life that was no longer her own. That, more than anything, was why she had hope for his search -- because she'd lived it.

And while this part of her life was usually deeply private -- there were some things one didn't share at all -- she found a need to. Not because she wanted pity or to show off her survival skills, but because she needed him to know it wasn't hopeless. "It's not hard to trace, suprisingly enough. I mean, if you trace back my adoption, you'll find the foster homes I was in, and if you trace that back, you'll learn the name of the cop that found me on the street, and if you trace that back, you'll find the names of the drug addicts that rasied me, and that all leads to which alley I was found in." She smiled. "Extremely difficult, perhaps, but not impossible."

"With your permission, of course, I'd like to write to them. There's no harm in trying, after all. The worse that can happen is a 'I'm sorry, we found nothing'. The best? Her," she added.
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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Sat Aug 05, 2017 6:17 am

Ceyal nodded, the news that she was still seeing a therapist not surprising him. She seemed so put together even after whatever horrors she’d gone through, so bad that it made her want to kill herself. He couldn't even begin to imagine the story behind Brooke, what had made and shaped her to become the woman that was sitting with him. Of course, he never doubted that she could've healed on her is with the help of her family, but he knew that it was always good to have someone who gave you a firm but loving kick and told you to get your head out of your butt. Her therapist seemed to be that kind of person.

“Truth is good,” he said, “though many don't like to hear it or admit that they need it.” He’d had to face the truth early on, the truth that his father could never be capable of love, the truth that there was so much injustice in the world, the truth that his mother was dead and it was now his responsibility to take care of his sister. Truth could be a hard pill to swallow, but once done, they could do something about it.

At Brooke’s speech about hiding, Ceyal merely shrugged. He knew what she was saying and he’d be the first person to admit that his past had shaped who he had become today. Merlin only knew how he would have turned out given a loving father. He’d probably be vastly different from the taciturn cynical man he was now. But that wasn’t his main reason for not being open.

“No, there’s nothing wrong with being broken,” he agreed, “but when all people want is to be nosy and find out everything there is to know about you, not because they’re concerned or because they care but because they’re looking for fodder for gossip, then I’m rather not inclined to share anything.” He paused for a while, making eye contact with the witch. “I don’t hide from the truth or what made me who I am today. I seldom do. But I’ll be damned if I talk about myself to people who neither care or who are only going to give me pity.”

It was the most he’d had ever said in one go, but he felt strongly about this subject. His most visible scar was the one on his face and when questioned constantly about that, he could tell when people wanted to know just for the sake of wanting to know or if they truly cared about what happened to him. So far he’d not met anyone in the latter category until Brooke. Most people just wanted to know for their curiosity or to gossip about it and he would not let them gossip about his past. There was a reason why he kept his mouth shut and was known as the guy who never spoke.

Her words confirmed his conclusion. She was adopted and that she was adopted into a loving family was very lucky indeed. Most orphans bounced from one foster home to another, not really finding a stable foundation on which to grow.

“It always is,” he responded with a wry smile at her comment about it being a long story. “I’ve got time.” He’d given her an opening if she felt inclined to share but if not, that was perfectly fine as well. He wasn’t going to put her on the spot and outright ask her about it. Not only would that be rude, but he hated it when people did that to him.

He really wanted to know her story though. Perhaps because there was a longing in him, a desperate desire to know that he would turn out alright too, a glimpse of hope that he dare not believe in before it.

He nodded. “Mr. and Mrs. Brown.” He shifted his gaze to the water, a fond look entering his normally hard eyes. “He found me wandering the streets carrying Esther, asking anybody who would listen for help.” He closed his eyes, feeling tears in the back of this throat. He’d never spoken of his mother’s death before. Mr. and Mrs. Brown already knew about it and there had never been a need to talk about it. But his mother deserved to be remembered, to be saluted for the life she’d lived and sacrificed for her children.

“Mum was deathly sick with pneumonia,” he continued after taking a deep breath. “By the time Mr. Brown found me, it was too late to save her.” He remembered clutching his mother’s hand as Mr. Brown did everything in his power to keep life in Loveen’s body. She had been slipping in and out of consciousness and the last word she’d breathed out was his name, Ethan. Though her lips said his name, her eyes were on Esther and he knew that she was asking him to take care of her. “They took me in after that and I owe my life to them.” The elderly couple hadn’t adopted the two kids, but to Ceyal, it made no difference. They’d taken care of Esther and him like they had their own children, who’d all grown up and married.

The mention of a daughter shocked him. It was the last thing he expected her to say, but the only evidence that he’d been surprised was the raising of one eyebrow. To have a child meant only two things - she was married, or she had been raped. Given that she was fifteen the latter seemed more likely. Raped. He could not even begin to imagine what that had been like for her. His regard for her grew a thousand fold. To have gone through that and come out victorious made her very special. It spoke of a certain kind of strength in her and he found himself in full respect of her.

A soft smile curved his lips. “Carissa. That’s a beautiful name,” he commented. He would not ask about the rape. That was something personal and painful and he would not be one of those people who went “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that!” or even “Oh my gosh, you have a baby? How did that happen?” She’d hesitated to tell him, he’d seen that and he appreciated the trust she’d put in him.

“I thank you for trusting me enough to share that,” he continued quietly. He paused a moment before saying, “Yeah, Esther’s four now and she brings so much joy. It’s amazing to watch a baby grow. Babies and children in themselves are miracles.”

He listened as Brooke tried to convince him that the search wouldn’t be impossible. Eye colour wasn’t a problem. Elouise had the most stunning hazel eyes. But hair colour could change as a child grew, so could a hundred other factors. But Brooke didn’t stop there. She went on to speak about her adoption and...drug addicts? Before she was adopted, she had been raised by drug addicts? Was there no end to the depth of this woman?
“You’ve got quite a story,” he said. “And yes, you can go ahead and write to them. I’m not going to reject any chance there is of finding Elouise, no matter how slim or impossible it may seem. She has hazel eyes and as a baby, light brown hair. Thank you.”

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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Sat Aug 05, 2017 7:03 am

There was nothing to say to his reply, and so she merely nodded and smiled. He was right; truth was difficult to handle at best, even by those who weren't facing a hard truth. There was just something about it that made people run and hide, as though there was something to lose by knowing what wasn't a lie. It was stupid, although she understood it. Sometimes, a fantasy world where everything was good and nothing could hurt you was safer and less painful that what was really out there -- and she would know. But she'd learnt, the hard way, that in the end the fantasy ended up hurting you even more. If you lived in a make-belief world, sooner or later it would crumble and leave you with nothing. It was, therefore, much better in the long run to face what was real, and adjust to that.

She smiled at his statement. That was something she, too, had to handle. How many people in the hospital -- healers, staff, and whatnot -- would peep into her room when they thought she was asleep to get a glimpse of the girl who refused to eat? How often had she heard them whisper among themselves, when they thought she wasn't listening? And when she'd come back to school after being absent for a year, how frequently did she have to deal with the stares from fellow students?

"Let them gossip," she said, with a shrug, although it was clear she was talking more about herself than him. It was a personal decision each person would have to make. "Their stories can be somewhat amusing, if you choose to look at it that way, I've found. Apparently I disappeared for a year to get married, or because I was expelled. Amazing, huh?" She chuckled.

"If they ask, I'll tell. You're wrong there -- they do care. They care about not being left out, and of not knowing. They don't care about us, of course, but care they do. I'm with you on the pity thing, though; it's as though they're trying to make themselves feel better, not you. 'Oh no you tired to kill yourself and I don't like the idea, so I'll pamper you with words and make myself feel good about myself for being kind'." Brooke laughed at her own joke. "I suppose I'm the opposite. I tell people most things -- not all; some are private, after all -- if they ask, if only to see them falter and stutter as they figure out how to deal with the information."

The offer made her hesitate for a moment as she tried to figure out the intent behind his words. Many people said the same thing -- I've got time; I'm here if you want to; I don't mind listening -- but for different reasons. There were those that were merely curious, wanting to know what could possess a fourteen year old to slit her wrists. Others were just saying the polite thing, trained by parents or peers or society to be nice, and their offer was nothing more than meaningless words they recited.

The last group, though, were the people who meant it. And this was where it got tricky. Some meant it, but upon hearing it, freaked out and isolated themselves, not knowing how to react to hearing such horrors. Their intentions had been pure, but they were too soft, too unbroken, too innocent, to handle such information as her story. They would panic, as though the story changed who she was, made her different in some way rather than being the thing that shaped her and made her what she was. These people never understood that, and she would hardly ever talk to them again, because the look in their eyes and the way they held themselves around her would change -- and she hated that.

Then there were the ones who, whether or not they Understood, let the information do nothing other than inform. These were the ones she liked telling, but they were also the rarest of them all. In another life, Brooke knew she wouldn't have been one of these; it was only because she hated it that she didn't do it to others. The temptation to was always there, though, and so she didn't blame those who were in any of the previous categories.

Ceyal, though... He was different. He'd already shown he Understood, and the bits and pieces she'd gotten from him showed that he, too, had a story. She flashed him a smile. "I do, too," she said, moving her eyes to the scar on his face. She'd wanted to ask many times, but held herself back because she didn't know him, and it was rude to ask. While she herself didn't mind, it wasn't the same for many. That, at least, she understood. "My wrists aren't the only part of me to have scars," she added. "Each has a story, some messier than others. I'll bet yours has a story, too."

The information about his mothers' death brought a deep sadness to Brooke. While she never lost anyone close to her before, and she couldn't fully know that sort of pain, she could imagine it. "I'm sorry," she said when he'd finished. Those two words and nothing more. Many people said those, she was sure, but there was a deeper meaning to her tone that would speak far more than she'd said. She could only hope Ceyal heard it and understood.

"It means 'beloved'," she said. "I want her to grow up knowing she was wanted and loved." Even if not planned, she added, mentally. But she didn't voice that out. It was not the right time; the wound of her rape was still there, even if scabbed over.

The thanks she waved away mentally; she never knew how to respond to those. Instead, she broke into a grin at the mention of his sister. "I hear that's a fantastic age! Carissa's just begun to sit up, although only for split seconds at a time. Mum sent me a video yesterday," she said. "What age did she start crawling and walking? Mum and dad adopted both my brother and I, so they never dealt with the baby stage."

Brooke nodded, tactfully (or perhaps obviously; she was never sure) avoiding the comment about her story. Everyone's story was 'quite' one. They were just 'quite' in different ways. "Do you know the exact or rough date she would've been left? That also helps; the police keep records," she added, slipping out her phone and quickly making a note of the details. "I'll let you know when they reply. It could be a while; it took them months when I asked for me. Of course, that was out of curiosity, so they took their time." She shrugged, smiling. "And don't mention it; it's not hard to send an email -- unless you're a Pureblood, of course. Then it's gosh-near impossible."
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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:51 pm

A corner of his mouth quirked up in a half-smile. Yes, it could be amusing the things that they came up with. He remembered how the other students had gossiped when Brooke disappeared. He never believed any of their words, because it was gossip. He didn't have any problem with people talking about him. Countless time he heard whispers whenever he'd walk pass a group of students. They'd be comtemplating why he never talked, why he always had such a thunderous or sullen expression on his face and on and on. If they kept their speculation to him, he couldn't careless. But it was when they started talking about his family that he cared.

More than once, he'd had to rein himself in because he heared his mother labelled 'whore', 'drug addict', or 'insane'. He'd chosen to walk away instead of engaging in a fist fight; he would not turn into his father. That didn't mean that he let it go unpunished. Instead of getting physical, he used his brains and came up with different ways to 'punish' them. He'd take pieces of their clothes, shoes - or makeup, for girls - and hide them somewhere around the castle. If they could find it, kudos to them. If not, they'd forever wonder where their possesssions had gone.

He snorted. "And apparently, I'm mute and mentally insane." He paused for a moment then continued. "I don't mind so much what they say about me. I mind when they begin to slander my family. I will not tolerate that." He knew that he could not stop everyone from talking bad about his family, there there would always be ignorant jerks in the world, but he'd do what he could.

Brooke had a point. Those people did care. They wanted to keep in the loop, they didn't want to miss out on knowing everything about everything. He hadn't thought of it like that but her point was valid and shifted his perspective a little. Of course, this didn't mean that he'd tell them everything just to satisfy their need of not missing out, but it helped him understand better.

And she had a good sense of humour. It was almost impossible to keep the grin off his face at the way she said things. He knew that deep down, buried somewhere beneath the hurt and anger he had humour too. It just needed some coaxing and the right person to bring it out to the light of day. "Spot on there," he agreed with her. She'd perfectly captured the reactions of people.

Her wrists aren't the only part to have scars? What does she mean by that? he wondered, but decided to forgo asking about it. She'd already shared a lot with him, more than he ever expected anyone to. The rest of her story could wait. Perhaps somewhere in the future, he'd find out eventually. In the most unexpected - but perhaps fitting - way, they'd become friends. Acquaintance wasn't the word for it. Acquaintances didn't understand each other on such a deep level. They were friends, Ceyal decided. In all his years, he never thought he could call someone a friend and it gave him some hope, a reason to keep on living.

His lips turned into a wry smile as Brooke turned the tables on him, sort of - but not quite - indirectly asking for his story. And he could remember it well. Arnold had, yet again, gambled away a large sum of money and came home in a black and drunken mood. Of course, nothing was to his satisfaction and he'd taken it out on Ceyal in the form of a glass bottle across his face. It had taken him a few days to recover from that, not that Arnold cared.

Lost in his memories, Ceyal picked up a flat pebble from the ground, sending it skipping over the surface of the lake. If only life could be as idyllic as this, as serene as the wind in the trees and the clouds floating across the sky. But then there would be no depth, no purpose beyond existing. He just had to learn how to take the good with the bad and turn the bad into good. Somehow.

"That it does," he said slowly, breaking the silence and returning to the topic at hand. "That it does," he murmurred softly to himself. "This tells the story of a man who does not deserve to be called a father, and how he decided that his son's face would make a good target for smashing glass bottles," he continued, touching his fingers to the scar lightly before sending another pebble across the water. "And the story of how the son did his damnest not to let the man hurt his mother." He would not boast of the many times he'd taken his mother's place. There was no joy or pride to be found in that, merely terror and anguish.

She spoke two words, words which coming from anyone else, he would've resented. Hers wasn't said with pity or with the false politeness that other people were so prone to using. This stemmed from something deeper, an understanding between two people who had been through hell and lived to tell their story, and he appreciated it.

He nodded at her explanation. "That's important," he commented. Names meant a lot, he would know. It was the whole reason he went by his middle name instead of his first name. There was just too much pain associated with his first name. Starting at Hogwarts gave him a new start and with that, he wanted a new identity.

"It is!" he replied with a small smile. "She's learning how to negotiate to get what she wants and is quite the talker. She started crawling at around six months and walking not long after that." He and his mother had to baby-proof their tiny apartment, making sure that there were no sharp corners Esther could hurt herself on. She had been a curious baby, touching and opening everything she could get her hands on.


"November sixteen, twenty fifteen," he said. He remembered the exact day vividly; he'd probably never forget it. It had been his seventh birthday when Arnold came back after a year long absence. Without his abuse, Loveen had managed to carry Elouise to term, but Arnold had insisted that she had an affair. He'd taken the infant out and dumped her somewhere. It was one of the reasons why he hated his birthday. Bad things just seemed to happen.

"Then I'm glad I'm not a Pureblood," he responded lightly.

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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:24 am

TW: Abuse, scars, religion(?)

His snort made her smile; making others laugh was something she enjoyed doing. There was already so much hatred and anger in the world already. His continuation, however, made her nod. That she understood. So far, not many had said anything nasty about her or her family -- Colby was, after all, in the same school as her, and people knew who he was -- but she could imagine it. Instead of saying anything, though, she nodded. "I'd probably hex them," she admitted with a shrug. "I don't condone violence, but I will hex you if you diss those I love." Pausing, she tilted her head. "At least, I think I will. Knowing me, I would probably just tell them off." Then, with a grin, she added, "You're surprisingly talkative and coherent for a mute psycho."

She returned his grin. Now that she was thinking about it, Brooke realised she never really seen him smiling before. It wasn't that she was constantly looking out for him, of course, so it was entirely possible she just missed each time he did smile or laugh, and she didn't spend much time speculating on it. She was the opposite; she hardly ever didn't smile at something, even if it was nothing much at all. There was just something about being alive that she (now) treasured.

At first, Ceyal didn't answer her question, and she wondered if she pushed too far, asked for too much. He didn't seem upset, though, and for just a moment longer she held off apologising. If it became more evident later that she'd offended him, she'd apologise and make amends. For now, she simply waited, watching as he skipped the stone. That was something she'd never managed to do, despite Colby trying to teach her multiple times.

Finally, he started speaking, and she turned towards him, taking her eyes off the lake and the ever-expanding ripples from his stone. Her heart sank. She hadn't once imagined it had a nice story, nor that it was caused by anything unintentional -- he was too much a survivor for it to be that case -- but it still horrified her. It wasn't that a parent could do that sort of thing; she'd been abandoned at birth, so she knew that not all parents were good or nice or kind. It wasn't that abuse took place; that had happened enough times to her for her to be shocked by the mention of it happening. It was simply that it happened.

She let her eyes take in the scar, wondering how they managed to explain that away. Abuse victims hardly ever spoke out against the abuser, for different reasons, and lies to cover hurt was something she knew all too well. His last sentence made even more sense. He'd taken the beatings and whatnot in place of his mother. That had never happened to her -- she'd always been the brunt of it -- but she understood. She'd go through it all again if it meant someone she cared about didn't have to.

For a moment after he finished, she sat in silence. There were no words; all she could do was show she understood. Instead, after contemplating it a little, she turned, shifting position so her back was towards him. Then, carefully, she lifted her shirt up to show him her skin. She knew what he would see; lining her back were multitudes of scars, the reason she always wore a one-piece modest swimsuit at the beach or at the pool. They were of different sizes and width, some round and some long, obviously from a whip. She let her shirt remain up for a few seconds, then tugged it back down and returned her gaze to him.

"I was in the muggle system for a long while. I was a young witch in and out of homes of religious people while my abilities were just starting to present themselves." She gave him a sad sort of look. "Witches, it seems, are not treated well by those sort of people. If you need advice on how to exorcise demons from children, though, I know almost all the ways." Then, her eyes lit up a little as she slipped out her wand and aimed it at a rock the size of her fist nearby. "However, I can't attest to their success. Avifors." There was a bright blue light and then the rock exploded into a flock of birds. They took to the sky, flying away at once, and Brooke grinned as she watched them, stowing her wand as she did. "I'd like to see them see that. They'd have a heart attack, probably."

She nodded at his explanation. "Six months, huh? That gives me another couple or so with her before the chaos begins." Grinning to show she was actually looking forward to 'chaos', Brooke let her mind go to Carissa for just a while longer. How nice it would be when she could talk and walk! It was something to look forward to, a rainbow out of a storm, flowers in the dull pavement of life. And it was a reason to keep going.

Typing down the date, she nodded, then hesitated before holding her phone out to him. "Do you have a phone? I mean, I could text you if there's any update if we're not in school. It would be faster than owl, in any case." There was nothing wrong, in her eyes, with asking someone she'd just met for their number.

She grinned at his reply. "I don't actually know what I am. The whole abandoned at birth, don't know my parents thing, after all. For all we know, I am a Pureblood! Wouldn't that be odd?"


[[OOC: She pulled up only the back of her shirt, so the front remained down, and to just below her bra strap, so he'd only have seen the skin on her back and a little of her side and the scars there.]]
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Ceyal Kalhoun
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Birthday : 2007-11-16
Join date : 2017-07-14

PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:25 pm

Ceyal gave Brooke a glance over when she mentioned hexing. He didn't think that she was the type to retaliate in that manner but kudos to her for that. "And you'd probably do a good job of putting them in their place," he responded.

"You're surprisingly talkative and coherent for a mute psycho."

Ceyal was actually rather surprised that he'd revealed so much to Brooke, someone he barely knew before. In his three years at Hogwarts, he'd kept his lips sealed about both his past and his family; nobody knew anything about him. But Brooke was different, he supposed, in the sense that she'd been through so much and understood much more than anybody else in this school could. He had willing shared all that he had and did not have any regrets about it.

When Brooke remained silent after he finished talking, Ceyal thought for a moment that perhaps he'd scared her off somehow. But that didn't make sense. She'd both been raped and suicidal and he didn't think that she scared easily. But then movement caught his eye and he turned his gaze from the lake to the woman beside him, eyebrows rising in slight surprise as she lifted her shirt.

There, across her back were scars, scars that were definitely from a whip. He would know; he had the same across his own back. Was that what she meant when she said that her wrists weren't the only place to have scars? And how in the world did she get these?

Without thinking, he'd reached out, mindlessly tracing one of the longer scars with his finger. This woman had been through so much, so much more than he could ever imagine. He knew what it felt like to have a whip slicing his flesh open, to have the stinging pain last for days, so bad that he could not sleep on his back. He knew the pain she must have felt, but coupled together with everything else she'd been through, he could only respect and admire her for having come out a survivor.

She pulled her shirt back down, but his gaze still remained on her back as he tried to process what he'd seen. What in the world could explain that? Then Brooke began talking and he lifed his eyes to hers. Her words made sense to him; he knew that not many people took kindly to magic or witches and wizards. He could only thank Merlin that his mother had been accepting of him, though not fully understanding what was really going on. "I'm sorry," he repeated her words. No one should have to go through any of that. But the both of them did.

"Probably," he grinned, eyes following the flight of the birds. "And I don't think I would call the doctors or healers either."

"Oh, yes. Chaos," he said, smirking a little. "But it's probably the best time of their life." He couldn't wait for the holidays to come when he could go back to the Browns' home and see Esther. He received letters from them twice a week - since they didn't quite know how to operate technology - but there was nothing like seeing Esther in person. He still remembered the time when she'd been an infant and the way she would grab onto his finger with her tiny fist, eyes staring up at his as she giggled and squirmed. Babies grew so fast.

At the question, he nodded, rattling off his phone number. He had a feeling that they would become good friends, perhaps his only friend in the school.

"Well, if that ever happens, you'd be the first Pureblood I like," he responded. "And the most Muggle-fied one too!"
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PostSubject: Re: The Persistence of Memory (Brooke)   Sun Aug 20, 2017 4:22 am

For just a moment, she stiffened at the touch; she had not been expecting that. Most people gasped, some were curious, others clueless. But she supposed if what Ceyal had been talking about earlier had been the bare minimum of what he'd experienced, he'd recognize exactly what those marks were; he probably had some of his own. She relaxed into his gentle touch, knowing exactly which one he was touching; she knew them all, remembered the feel of each one and why she'd been given them.

"A plant was wilting," she said, not knowing why she was doing so; she normally kept these stories private. They were close to her, a part of her, and only her parents and Cassie knew them. Why she was sharing them with a stranger, she did not know. Still, it felt... right, somehow, as though she was meant to be here and he was meant to be there and they were meant to share secrets. Fate was not something Brooke believed in, and yet it was the exact word she would choose if asked to describe what was going on.

"It was a bouquet of roses someone had given her. She said she was sad they were dying, because she loved roses. I wanted to make her happy and do something right for once, so I walked over and touched one of them, told it to grow..." She gave a rueful laugh. "One lash to 'startle the demon awake', and three days starvation to make me so weak it won't want me as a host." She let out a scoff. "They loved me, of course, and it hurt them more than it hurt me to have to turn to such methods. After all, the demon would protect me from pain, since I was his host, so no harm done."

The apology meant more from him than others. He understood, and what he was saying was so much more than the typical 'sorrys' she got. It wasn't said to make themselves feel better, or because they didn't know what else to say, and so she smiled at him, adding nothing to his statement. They would both know what they other meant without words there to jumble things up.

There was a pause, and then, softly, Brooke said, "I would. Why continue the cycle? If one kills a killer, doesn't that make them a killer, too? Who'll kill them? Another killer? What makes it right in one case and wrong in another?" She paused, gently shaking her head, answering her own question. "Nothing. So if you hurt an abuser, you're still someone who's caused hurt, even if they deserve it. I'd call a healer. Save them using the magic they tried so hard to put out. I call that justice."

She smiled at the thought of Carissa, nodding. "I'll make sure of it," she said, her tone more than just an absent minded promise; she was saying she'd give her daughter everything that she herself hadn't experienced -- safety, a home, and a childhood. Pausing, she added, "Everything we didn't have."

Brooke let out a laugh at his statement. "You probably just haven't met the right Pureblood, I guess. I'm sure there are some out there who don't have sticks up their ass. I mean, there has to be, right?"
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