When we’ve taken the kids to the train. When we’re alone once more. I’ll do it then.
I don’t really want to. But I’ve promised myself I’d do it. That I’d do it as soon as the kids were gone. I don’t want to. And at the same time, I do. Because I love you so much.
I lay in the dark as I watch you as you move around, following the familiar pattern perfected over twenty years of living in this house together. Robes in the wardrobe, watch on the dresser, clothes in the hamper, pyjamas from the second drawer. I try to commit every detail to memory: the lines of your face, the flex of your muscles, the movements of your hands, the light reflecting in your glasses as you turn to walk into the en-suite bathroom.
I will miss you so much, longing already tearing at my heart even as you’re still here. I can’t even imagine how it will feel tomorrow.
I try not to think about it as I listen to the water rinsing the long workday from your body. The sound is soothing but does nothing to dampen the wistfulness occupying my heart.
Maybe I should have seen it coming. Maybe we all should have. Yet, none of us did. But looking back now, there’s no doubt about it. The signs were everywhere, have been for years. Decades. If only you’d known what to look for. Hindsight is a cruel companion.
I don’t even know if you’ve realised it yourself yet. Realised that you love him. I have. I could see it in your eyes as we waited on the platform together. Waited for our kids to come home for Christmas. You looked at him as you once used to look at me. With fondness, yearning, desire. With so much love and want you might as well have announced your feelings by Sonorus. You’ve never been good at hiding your emotions; that’s one of the things I’ve always loved most about you.
You could barely tear your eyes away as you watched him over my brother’s shoulder, incapable of following the conversation flowing all around you. And when he met your gaze I could have sworn the air was buzzing from the magic the two of you emitted.
You may not know it yet, but I do. You love him. You love him so much.
And he loves you.
Surely, you must have noticed that. Or are you that oblivious? That unassuming? Unlike you, he’s always been good at hiding his emotions. And when even I could notice the warmth in his silver-grey eyes—
You will never go to him as long as you have me. May it be from obligation, loyalty or plain stubbornness. You may even persuade yourself that you’re staying out of love, affection, or family bliss. Maybe I don’t want you to go either. Maybe I want you to stay.
But I can’t let you stay here. Not when your Happily Ever After awaits you somewhere else. With someone else. With him. I love you too much. Love you too much to deny you the happiness you deserve. The chance to love somebody as much as I love you.
“Sorry, did I wake you?” Your voice is soft as you enter the room and turn down the light.
“No,” I say, not really managing to keep my voice steady. I keep my eyes on the ceiling, trying my best to rein in my emotions.
There’s a dip in the mattress as you sit down and lay your wand on your bedside table. A waft of cool air reaches my body as you lift the duvet and climb into bed beside me. The sound of your glasses being folded and laid beside your wand.
The routine is familiar, comforting, and it’d be so easy to just give in. To hold off the inevitable for just another day. Another week. Another month. Another—
But I know I can’t. I’ll do what’s right.
The ceiling is white. Spotless. I blink back the tears burning behind my eyelids. I promised myself I wouldn’t— not tonight.
“Yeah” I breathe, even though I’m not. How could I be?
You reach out your hand to caress my cheek, willing me to turn around and look at you. I don’t want to, don’t know if I can manage it without breaking down. A hand on my shoulder, turning me over, making it impossible to resist.
The concern in your eyes is so sincere, I can almost believe you still love me, that you still want me like that. I close my eyes, letting myself pretend it’s true. Just one last time.
Your arm wraps around my waist and I can feel the warmth of your hand on my back as you pull me into your embrace. A swarm of emotions wring my aching heart when you place a soft kiss on my forehead.
“I know it’s not easy — letting go.” Your words nearly break me apart. “But they’ll be back before you know it.”
I couldn’t use my voice even if I wanted to, knowing it’d come out hoarse and broken. So I nod and burrow my face against your chest, your familiar scent soothing me as I struggle to breathe evenly to keep the tears at bay.
It’s irrational to mourn the loss of you while you’re still here. I’ll have plenty of time to do that later. I should savour this moment, lay down my heart, but that’ll only make it harder to let go.
Your heart beats slow and steady against my forehead, measuring the seconds, minutes, hours until morning will inevitably come. When I hear your breathing even out, I let the tears come.
Tomorrow, I’ll do what’s right.
When the kids are back in Scotland. When I have no more excuses to keep you to myself. To keep you away from your destiny. Your Happily Ever After.
Tomorrow. Just give me till then.
Tomorrow, I’ll set you free.