The Sugar Quill
Author: Mieko Belle  Story: Hurts to Breathe  Chapter: Default
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~Hurts To Breathe~

My mother always used to say to me that there's an intended person for each of us, and we'll find them if we only look hard enough. I remember sitting on the living room floor with my back to her knees as she braided my hair, or curled it, or plaited it, or simply played with it as we watched television, and Petunia and Daddy would be on the sofa at the other side of the room, and every time Mum said it, Daddy would look at her and give us both a small, quirky sort of smile and say, "Not true, Catherine. There are three people for me, and they're all right here."

I've never been the sort of person to get squeamish at the thought or sight of my parents kissing. They did it a lot, and it warmed me right through to know that the two people who'd given me life were so deeply in love that they couldn't bear to spend any more time apart than their jobs necessitated. They never needed to say it or anything. It was there in their eyes and the closeness of their embraces and the tense way they held their shoulders when the other was slightly late home from work. They needed each other in order to survive, and to me that was the most beautiful thing in the world.

All little girls dream of a love that deep, I suppose, the sort of love that saturates fairy tales and wakes up sleeping princesses from cursed sleep, and it was bliss beyond compare to see the love in reality. But the years passed, and Daddy suddenly became seriously ill with some sort of disease. I hated them for not telling me exactly what was wrong with him. I could tell they all thought nine was too young to understand. Well, they were wrong. I completely understood the part that was important. I understood that Daddy was dying. I could tell by the way the light in Mum's eyes began to dim. She never sang any more. You'd have loved her voice, Jamie. She sang like an angel and danced like a summer breeze, but after Daddy died she couldn't -- because she wasn't alive any more.

Don't look sceptical. You know what I mean. She was alive, but she wasn't living.

That's when the thought of soulmates began to frighten me. I mean, it's been ten years, and Mum still cries herself to sleep most nights because it hurts to breathe without Daddy's chest moving in unison next to hers. She's only thirty-nine and she has this marvellous, natural beauty like a woman from a Waterhouse painting, but she'd never even contemplate going out with another man.

Yes, there is a point to all this, and I'm trying to get there. Tell me, Jamie, do you think there's truth in the notion that we each have a soulmate?

Oh, my love... don't cry! Please, I never meant to make you cry. Here, let me... Jamie, don't shy away from me. You don't have to be ashamed of crying. And... are you listening to me, James? Never be ashamed of loving, okay?

Of course I know. How could I not have noticed? I watch you all the time. I can't help it, there's something about you that makes me feel truly alive, like I'm flying even when my feet are on the ground. It's okay to love and it's okay to be sad. I can see the look in your eyes. It's like the emptiness I see in Mum's eyes every time I visit her. I know, dear heart. You're not your intended's intended, and it hurts. I know, because I feel the same way.

It's a messed-up world, isn't it? I don't know who organises these things, but they've done a really shoddy job on our little group. Sirius and... and Remus are intended for each other. That much is obvious to anyone who sees them... hush, darling, please, please stop crying... but I believe Remus is your intended as well. And you're mine.

How do I know you're mine? I just do, in the same way you ache for Remus's lips on your neck and the touch of his bare skin against one side of you and fresh bedsheets on the other. Believe me, my heart, I've cried more than enough tears for the both of us. If you calm yourself, I have more to say.

That's better. Now, listen to this. I believe in the idea of soulmates, but that doesn't mean we have to live by Fate's twisted mockery of rules. It's just unfair, Jamie, and I know you agree with me on this one. I believe -- and please hear me out -- that one can have a full, happy life without one's soulmate. Think of all the people who never even get to meet the other half of themselves. We've been extraordinarily lucky -- or unlucky, as I suppose we should really see it.

Look at Frank Longbottom and Rose Maguire. They're in love, but I don't believe they're soulmates. I don't know what it is, I just don't sense that spark that was there between my parents, that Remus shares with Sirius. Still, they're engaged, aren't they? They're going to get married and have a family and live their lives with someone they love. And maybe they won't stay together forever. They might divorce, or one might go off and have an affair with someone, or a whole string of affairs with a whole string of someones -- ah! That was nearly a smile! They might part in the future, but until then they'll be as happy as they know how to be, and that'll be enough for them.

Darling, I'm sure those who know the perfection a soulmate can bring to everything will find it harder to go on with life alone and fall in love, but you see, Jamie... the point I'm trying to make is that...

Oh, I don't know. I'm being selfish and I'm sorry, but you must understand that a true lover wants the object of their affections to be happy, right? That's why you didn't make a fuss when Remus told you he wanted to be with Sirius. You love him, Jamie, with every single atom of your being, and you do belong to him, but he doesn't belong to you. It's the same between us. I believe you're mine. I love you. I know I'll never make you happy enough, but I love you beyond the power of speech and actions, and if there's even the slightest chance that you'll be happy with me, despite our not being soulmates, then we should take it.

If you accept me, I'll ask no questions and expect no promises. I won't demand declarations of undying love. Any times you come home late with alcohol on your breath and coral-pink lipstick on your shirt collar or the ghost of another man's aftershave clinging to your clothes, I'll look the other way until you've brushed your teeth and changed for bed. And if you ever say another name there when you should be crying Lily, I'll just hold you tighter. I'll pull your face down so your forehead rests on mine and I can look into the sapphire eyes that have haunted my dreams since we first met, and when the tears form and drip onto my face, I'll accept them and kiss the tracks from your cheeks and take as much of your aching sorrow into myself as possible, because, dear, it hurts so much to breathe without you that pain is a blessing.

It'll never be perfect, but I think I can make you smile. And don't you think that just might be worth it?


The love you lost with his skin so fair is free with the wind in his butterscotch hair ... I feel afraid and I call your name. I love your voice and your dance insane. I hear your words and I know your pain, your head in your hands and his kiss on the lips of another, your eyes to the ground and the world spinning round forever, asleep in the sand with the ocean washing over...

-- Adapted from 'Dream Brother' by Jeff Buckley


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