Title: Tarnished
Author: Savage Midnight
Email: [email protected]
Website:
Summary: For Briony Feronia, death is the answer.
Authors notes: This is only the first part of Tarnished. I'll be posting the second part later. [ ] signify a dream scene.

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Death.

It's inevitable. We all fall to the same darkness and all hopes of eternity fade with the silent screams of those who still grasp on to life.

For Briony Feronia death was an answer. The answer to a silent pray she never realised she had been chanting. A pray that had been left unanswered by a God that didn't exist. Life did not provide the answers, only the questions. Questions that was slowly drowning her every second she lived.

And now as she stood tall and proud atop of the church, the wind whipping against her cheek painfully, she knew the answer lay here. Her dark, bleak eyes that had once been filled with emotion, stared down at the ground that lay thousands of metres below her. She had felt once. Oh, she had not been happy for so long but at least she had felt. Anger, hate, sadness, desperation. Such negative feelings but they had kept her alive. Had been a reminder that she was human.

Not anymore.

Now she was broken, a shell of what she used to be. She no longer felt. There was nothing there...not even a lingering sadness for the life she had lost so painfully. There was no hate for the one person that had done this to her, no love for the friends she was leaving behind.

Emotion made you weak, that's what he had taught her.

Slowly, the feelings she had once taken for granted had been drowned underneath spiteful words and unmerciful acts of violence. He had not only turned her heart cold but made her a new one, carved from ice and steel that no one or nothing could penetrate. And it was that very heart -the one that gave her life - that was preventing her from living. The heart he had crafted was now a heart not even he could hurt. There was nothing left to hurt. No pain she had not already endured.

It had all lead up to this. This one moment, this one place, this one ending.

Death. It was inevitable.

For all the journey's she had travelled, all the paths she had followed it would only take one step to change everything. Her own fate lay in her own hands now, not in the God's.

It was ironic that she was here, stood atop the church she had visited so many times before. The same church that she had prayed to God to help her. And the same God that had failed her.

It was ironic, that this would the place where it would all end. The place were so many of her beliefs had been rooted, the same beliefs that had been destroyed and tarnished by him. It was here that she would find her answer at last.

She looked up once more towards the moon, basking in the glow it cast. This was how it should be. A witch, dying in the light of the full moon. As a child that dream had always appeared when darkness fell and sleep arose. Oh, how that dream had seemed so far away then, so innocent...

[ She watched as the dark clouds parted to reveal the light, silvery moon that shone brightly through her window. She smiled contently as her eyes fluttered shut and her breathing slowed.

It didn't take long before the white, damp mist curled around her feet and lifted her up into the same dark sky she admired each night. She travelled silently, her breath held as she stared in awe at the stars that passed her by. She knew where she was headed. It was the same almost every night.

She watched as the small clearing came into view, the high, thin trees swaying gently in the light breeze. Then she was falling, sailing through the air towards the ground. The fresh taste of the wind in her mouth made her smile as she landed softly on the dark green grass below her.

She glanced around the clearing already knowing he was here. Her eyes skimmed the dark trees, searching the swaying shadows for him but she knew she would not find him until he was ready.

The wind was beginning to pick up as it blew her long, dark locks into her eyes. Her night gown bellowed around her legs but instead of running for cover under one of the trees she simply laughed.

She closed her eyes against the wind and opened up her arms, feeling the cool air rush around her, wrapping her in it's strength. She felt the grass sway wildly beneath her bare feet, felt her hair whipping behind her. She opened her arms further and lifted her chin higher up towards the sky in a proud gesture. She welcomed the wind and it's energy. It revived her...made her stronger. She was a witch and the elements were her life.

She stood like that for several moments, her eyes closed and her face a mask of serenity. She did not move even when she felt the familiar strong arms wrap around her small waist. The wind had died down to a gentle breeze again and no sound could be heard in the clearing. No sound except her own light breathing and the soft thumping of her heart.

She let her arms fall so her hands rested upon his. She felt his warmth envelope her as they both stood silently on the cool grass.

She did not move until she felt his soft, gentle lips touch her pale neck. It was only then that she turned in his arms to face him. She stared into the face that she knew all to well with features she had memorised from their first meeting. Dark brown hair with tan coloured tendrils running through it that fell into his eyes. Eyes which were a warm, liquid brown circled with a golden, honey colour. A long, elegant nose and high, defined cheekbones. And those lips, oh, those lips. Soft and full and sensuous.

The same lips that came down to brush against hers in the lightest of touches.

She sighed against him and lifted her arms to run her hands through his hair. His arms tightened around her as he kissed her with a passion that made her dizzy and light headed. The moon glowed brightly above them, it's silvery light beaming down into the clearing where they stood, locked in a passionate but deadly embrace.

It was not long before those sweet, innocent kisses began to turn desperate. So hot and so cold all at once that it made Briony shiver. She knew now, knew this was it. She felt him pull back slightly, his lips barely touching hers. A small whimper escaped her and tears pricked her eyes.

"It's time," he whispered against her lips. She nodded her head silently and moved forward to give him one last lingering kiss. She gazed into his dark orbs, brown meeting green before her lips curled slightly in a sad smile.

"I love you," she said softly. She released him and pulled her dark locks aside to reveal her long, elegant neck. She watched as the gold of his eyes suddenly flared as his gaze settled on her exposed flesh. He moved forward, his arms never moving from around her waist. He nuzzled the skin tenderly, placing light kisses down the column of her neck.

"I love you Briony," her murmured as his long, ivory teeth sank into the warm flesh. She gasped as his fangs penetrated the skin but she soon relaxed as his mouth moved gently against hers and his hands moved reassuringly over her back. She felt her life being drained from her but now she was no longer scared. Her body was strangely warm and a look of contentment slipped across her face.

As she stood at the edge of death, her body dying but her mind more alive than it had ever been, she knew this was how it was supposed to be.

That night Briony Rose Feronia died underneath a full moon in the arms of her soul mate. ]

Yes, that was how the dream went. She died each time but always with a smile on her face. Always dying in the name of love. It was so completely romantic, so completely innocent that for years she had believed that it would be the way she would die.

Now, as she gazed at the moon that seemed to cling to the sparkling sky above her she knew that this was no longer a dream. This was a nightmare turned reality. As a witch the moon always played a big part in her life. It was her source, her energy, her strength and now...it would be her weakness. She would die here but not in the name of love.

No, never in the name of love. It was love that had driven her here, love that had forced her to travel this path, love that had left her cold and bare.

But she would not die for love.

She would die knowing that she loved someone who did not love her back. She would die knowing that she was not loved and not cared for. And it was that lack of love that had brought her here...to the top of the church.

While her dream had been romantic it had been nothing but fantasy. There was no romance here. She was not dying to save someone she loved, she was not dying with her soulmate...she was dying because she was alone. She was dying because she was empty...broken.

I'm not dying, she thought. I'm already dead.

And she was right. Her soul had long ago been broken, buried under shattered hopes and bitter tears.

All because of him, the one, her soulmate.

The one person that was supposed to understand her completely and love her without doubt. The one that was supposed to stand by her side and hold her hand when things got tough, wipe away her tears when things got painful and kiss away her fears when she got scared.

Not him. He didn't kiss away her fears, it was his kisses that she feared. When things got tough it was because of him, when things got painful it was only him twisting the knife further into her back.

And each time she had let him. She was not strong like people believed, she had fallen so quickly. With one simple kiss, one caress of his fingers on her cheek and she had been doomed.

The day that she discovered they were soul mates was the day she had truly died.

For no matter what he did, no matter how many people he hurt, how many times he had caused her pain, she still loved him. Oh, she was no fool. She knew he didn't love her but it was something she could not help. The soul mate connection had drawn them in, wrapped her in false hopes that maybe one day he would love her. But he was stronger than her, he refused to give in. Instead of loving her like he should have he spent his days tormenting her, manipulating her whenever he pleased. Slowly he had tried to break her down...and he had succeeded.

And it had all led up to this. She knew she could not continue living, knowing that the only love she would ever know would not be her own.

The worst kind of loneliness is to love someone who did not love you back.

It was a loneliness she could not bare. A weight on her shoulders that she could no longer carry. She was not strong, not physically or emotionally. There was only one way to end it, to put a stop to the torment and the bitter loneliness.

Death was the answer.

She dragged her eyes away from the glowing orb and looked once more at the ground beneath her. She took a deep breath and opened her arms wide, feeling the wind wrap around her. Her hair whipped behind her and her eyes closed.

Just like my dream.

The thought was bitter sweet and she found herself smiling sadly. Though that small gesture dominated her bleak, pale face she could not find it within herself to feel any sadness. There was no anger for the one person that had destroyed a once innocent dream.

"Innocence is a little overrated, don't you think?"

The dark, cold voice washed over her senses causing her to shiver slightly. She knew that voice all to well. It haunted her, followed her wherever she went. It was that voice that had whispered promises of death to her.

Not long ago that sound had always caused her heart to constrict with fear.

Not now.

Now there was no fear, no pain...just a void.

Slowly she let her arms fall back down to her sides and opened her eyes slightly. Her body turned gracefully towards the voice...towards him.

He stood just a few metres away from her, his brown hair, tainted with tan coloured streaks, danced gently with the wind. At first glance he was beautiful. The image of perfection, the man that every girl dreamed about. But though he looked like an angel he was far from being one.

He was beautiful, he was a monster...and he knew it.

"What would you know of innocence?" she questioned softly, her dark hair blowing wildly behind her. She watched, motionless as his lips curled up into a small, secretive smile.

"I know that it is rare. There are very few who are truly innocent. Each and everyone of us are tainted, some more than others. If everyone were innocent evil would not exist."

He moved gracefully towards her, his elegant body sailing through the wind.

Before she could speak cool hands were holding her own.

He was not only beautiful...he was fast. And that made him deadly.

"Where innocence dies, evil is born," he whispered, his breath playing along her lips. She stared up at him from beneath lowered lashes and found herself locked in those liquid brown eyes that seemed more cold than warm.

"Where evil dies, strength is born," she retorted, her voice hard and clipped.

"Maybe so. But if this is true, where is your fire, my Rose? Suicide is not exactly a good representation of strength."

And she simply replied, "My evil is not yet dead."

He remained silent, his hands still holding hers. His fingers moved gently across her cool skin causing her head to whirl with confusion.

He was never gentle.

She could barely handle him when he was cruel, when he was playing with her and hurting her but not when he was being gentle.

"Why are you doing this, my Rose? Why are you giving up so quickly?" His voice was soft now, barely a whisper. But she knew, under that softness lay ice...and death. His voice was a weapon and the words he often spoke cut much deeper than any knife.

"I gave up a long time ago. I gave up when you destroyed me." She struggled to keep her voice steady but still it shook with a fierce anger that seemed to bloom within her.

No, I do not feel anger anymore, she thought. I'm past that, I'm past feeling.

But she knew that wasn't true. She may not fear him anymore but she could never help feeling anger and bitterness towards him.

She gazed into his eyes, burning the truth of her words there. There was a time when she could barely look at his face without trembling like a little child but now she had lost that innocence. Now she no longer cared.

She tensed as he moved further towards her so his mouth was beside her ear.

"Do you really think I'm going to let you top yourself when it's my sanity that stands in the balance?" he hissed, his grip on her hands tightening. She whimpered softly but forced herself not to cry out.

"This doesn't involve you. My death will not effect you in any way," she replied firmly, closing her eyes against the pain that radiated up her arm.

"Dear girl, I may be many things but one thing I am not is a fool. I know what happens to someone when their soulmate dies. They tend to lose their grip on reality and my sanity is something I'm not prepared to give up just yet. Do you understand me?" She flinched as his vicious voice resounded in her head turning her whole body cold.

"Perfectly," she responded softly. "But that only happens when the soulmates actually love each other. Something we lack in our own...relationship. You don't love me nor do you need me so there's no reason for you to worry. It's not like you'll miss me, is it?"

He pulled back slightly, giving her a full view of his face which remained blank and passive.

"And what, my Rose, gave you the idea that I don't love you?" Her head snapped up to meet his eyes and she noticed that he was serious. There was no hint of amusement in his eyes that now seemed more warm, more surreal than moments before.

She laughed. A short, hollow laugh that bordered on hysterical.

"What have you done to prove otherwise?" she asked. "What reason have you given me to believe any differently?" She was serious now. She pulled back from his grip, her face hard and her eyes cold once again. The wind had grown stronger since he'd been here but she hardly noticed.

"You come to my town, kill my family, my friends. You hunt me down, follow me everywhere and use me as you please. You torture me, take away everything I care about. You hurt me, your own soulmate and you dare to ask me why I feel you don't love me? That's not love, that's cruelty."

She stopped, gasping for breath as he stood silently in front of her. She bowed her head, her fists clenched at her sides.

"You don't know what love is," she whispered.

"Don't presume to know something you don't understand," he replied softly. "Love is not easy. It's not pure and good like you seem to think. It's harsh, cruel and unfair. The world hurts, what makes you think love is any better?" he questioned, his voice brusque and clipped.

"If you truly loved me you'd let me go," she said, raising her head again. "You'd walk away right now and leave me to die in peace."

She walked slowly towards him until they were almost touching. He stared down at her, his dark eyes blazing against his pale skin.

She was so close she could feel his breath on her face, the slow beating of his heart.

"Please, Adrian," she begged. "Let me die."