|Continuation of Underfoot
||[Sep. 22nd, 2004|02:43 pm]
Mad blood purists gotta stick together, yeah?
This ficlet is all out of order, and I apologise for that. I posted the beginning a week or so ago. This post is the end to the story, but there's also a middle part I'm considering writing.
Pansy likes it when it snows. She waits until the snow has piled on the window-panes, leaving small circles of glass, portholes that only reveal the endless sea of snow beyond, and goes outside.
Pansy does not dress warmly for the cold. Her cloak is thin and when the wind blows, the cold creeps in and sends a shiver through her thin frame. It does not bother Pansy to stand outside and shiver, because she has always liked to match, inside and out, and so if her heart is frozen she would quite like the rest of her to match its quality.
Sometimes Pansy returns to the manor with flushed cheeks and scarf askew; sometimes it is the blue-lipped wonder who enters with icicles in her hair and on her cheeks. If they see her, Pansy’s parents make no comment. There is a fire in the fireplace if she is cold. Pansy trudges up the long arc of stair and lies motionless on her bed until the warmth begins to sink into her skin and her fingers begin to tingle painfully. She shakes it off and wanders back to bed, dreams of snowflakes falling in an avalanche to cover her in their whiteness, and she wakes tangled under dark sheets and wrenches herself free.
Pansy sometimes wanders into the wood and shouts out names in the darkest of hollows. The words seem to shatter the icy stillness, but there is neither mark nor sight of the broken pieces; she cannot pick them up and put them back together. Pansy shouts out riddle and loses it to the silence. She returns home that night and sits as far as she can from the noisy fireplace, which is hissing and spitting out curses, accusations, blasphemies as it blazes up. The shadows of too many things dance in the empty room, empty of everything but Pansy, and she leaves; she cannot bear any more shadows. She sits in the parlour and gazes out at the falling snow. Perhaps tonight it will cover the manor and leave nothing, not a trace, only a darkness to the surface of the snow, a strange manor-shaped shadow like a rough figure on a map, the hint of something long submerged and lost to the world.
It is without a doubt that Pansy hates the fire. She refuses to stoke it, watches it grimly, yet she is fascinated as the embers cough and gasp their last. Her eyes are drawn continually to its flickering light and no matter how long she spends in the snow, it is always here that she returns. She is afraid to get close to it, she has learnt her lesson: not to play with fire and she will abide by it.
Two weeks and Pansy watches the fire go out for the last time, takes a dustpan and sweeps the ashes into a pile. She murmurs a word and the ashes rise, rain grey into a glass bottle. She stoppers it and walks down the stairs, past the dining room where her parents are having the afternoon tea, past the coat closet without pausing, out the door, which she does not bother to close. The frigid air bites and claws at Pansy but her frozen hands do not relinquish their hold on the bottle. She walks until the manor is a dull dark blur in the distance, walks until the whirling snowflakes are caught in her eyelashes and her hair is wet and stringy with melted snow, and her hands are now so frozen they are clenched and she cannot move her fingers, not very much at all, but at last she works her thumb and middle finger until she has prised the cork from the lid, and flings it away. The wind howls: ashes fly everywhere, out into the great expanse; Pansy is painted grey, a grey dirty snow-girl of icicle and dead fire and at last she succumbs to the bitter pull and settles herself on the ground amongst the speckled spatters of a diary long lost and she cannot get it back; Pansy thinks she will lie here forever and dream of whiter worlds until these ashes reforge and piece together; she knows they will; they must. And she’ll just wait here in this swirling snow and ash until they do. O yes, she’ll wait.
She has already pulled the covers tight: a seamless sheet, covered in a velvet blanket of snow. She is buried asleep.
They’ll find her in the spring.