Alastair’s fingers flew so quickly over the keys, music in the motion itself. Thomas might have wanted to tap his foot to the melody or nod his head, but couldn’t find himself able to move, captivated completely. He let his thoughts wander instead, back to the dreams of his youth. Dreams no longer. Alastair beside him, smiling warmly at him, Alastair caressing his face, Alastair carding his hands through his hair, Alastair picking up his hand and kissing along the knuckles, Alastair’s long fingers flipping the pages of well-worn novels, Alastair happy, Alastair loved, Alastair loving him.
The present was perfect, a gift he hadn’t expected. The Angels above could not come up with better blessings. If that moment had stretched on forever, Thomas would not have envied himself the loss of life or death, believing himself to be in heaven all along. The music crested, and his heart swelled with it, full of love for the man bringing him such contentment. This wasn’t simple happiness, or even joyous bliss. It was comfort, and satisfaction, and home. It was a memory that would remain, forever stitched into his very being.
The sounds began to fade, the piece coming to an end…
And the silence threatens to swallow him whole.
He paces the room. He can’t hear his own footsteps, or the shriek of the curtains on the curtain rod when he yanks them open, or the sound of his breathing in the stillness. Or maybe he can, and just can’t tell anymore. Matthew had said it was shock. That had been two weeks ago. He’s been fading in and out of this feeling the whole time. He can’t bring himself to want it to stop. But then, he can’t bring himself to want anything. Even his decision to come here hadn’t been entirely conscious, solely an escape.
The light of the setting sun filters in through his windows and dances along the walls. The patterns remind him of art and fire and life. Alastair had looked warm in the Sun, a burnished God, meant to have everything and forever. But Alastair was only mortal. A star in a sea of candles, but stars die too.
At least the numbness allows him to remember Alastair without the burden of emotion.
He remembers the flash of claws, and the immeasurable sacrifice, and the horrified screams of a sister. He remembers the moment reality dropped from under his feet, letting him fall through thick, suffocating broth. He remembers the funeral pyre going up in flames, making the world glow in its beautiful devastation. Sona’s body had flickered and swayed with the flames before she collapsed in a silent heap, clutching her baby tightly to her chest.
He’d gone back home, and dreamt of things he could never have. He had thought he understood hopelessness from his time at the academy, prancing about after the object of his affections, guarding his secret. Back then however, there had still been the chance of a smile or a pat on the back, no matter how little love behind the gesture. Now there was nothing but memories of dreams that had once come true.
Everywhere he went, and everything he saw reminded him of Alastair. Sometimes, he wished the reminders dug deeper, deep enough to make him hurt. Mostly, he let himself breathe.
“Oh come on Thomas! It’s not that bad”, Alastair said with a laugh. They were on one of the night patrols, and the stench of demon here was pretty bad. Thomas had his handkerchief pressed up against his face, while the other boy walked calmly on.
“It’s disgusting!” he groaned, but followed. They found the demon soon enough, when it practically leapt right into Alastair’s blade. The thing wasn’t anything unusual, and may not even have had anything to do with Lilith. Unfortunately, it did put up a bit of a struggle. Thomas made sure to breathe through his mouth and managed not to gag as they whirled around, seraph blades flashing. It didn’t take long before the demon crumpled into non-existence, and the two shadowhunters were covered in sticky ichor.
Alastair picked up Thomas’ previously discarded hanky and wiped his own face, before holding it out to Thomas. When he reached for it, the other boy grabbed his hand and pulled him closer, and began to wipe the ichor off himself. Alastair brushed his thumb over his tattoo and smiled, and setting be damned, that felt like the most romantic thing in the world.
Where did his compass point once home was gone? Towards the memory of it, or to nothing? Sometimes, he wanted to claw it right off his arm.
He couldn’t stay there any longer. He couldn’t walk in the streets without thinking of Alastair, couldn’t pick up a book, or meet his friends, or go to clave meetings. He had to leave. If he wanted to feel anything at all, he had to get out of there. Go somewhere he could heal, or possibly forget. So he’d chosen to come here. If one could call it a choice.
His friends had asked him to stay, as had his parents, but they’d come around in the end. The Scholomance seemed the perfect place for him to come to. It is cold and secluded, and the rigorous timetables hardly give anyone time to think or dream or regret. But it also brings into focus just how lonely he is now. There is freedom in not having anyone around to worry about, but it is not what he ever wanted for himself. This is never how he imagined living his life.
He picks up a glass and throws it against the wall, the sound of it shattering bringing him so close to tipping off the tightrope he’s walking. He hurries to pick up the pieces. This was the only way he could imagine himself going on. Here he’d be forced to wake up every monotonous morning, and accomplish every pointless task. Maybe someday, it would feel like living.
A piece of glass slices his palm. Later, he will claim it was an accident. The sting of it breaches the fog in his head, and he’s falling. Maybe there are tears slipping down his face as he muffles his cries. Maybe he wants to scream the words that have plagued him for days. Here, where there is no one to hear or try to comfort him, he could. But no matter how loud he shouts, he cannot hear himself.
So he carves the words into wood. I did not choose this life. A cry for help? A lament? A promise.