PIECE OF MY HEART
Willow jerked awake still screaming, her cheeks wet with tears. She struggled to sit up, the covers tangled around her legs. Sitting bolt upright, kicking the covers away, needing to be free, she took in a couple of shaky breaths, struggling to calm herself. Pulling her legs up to her chest she wrapped her arms around her knees, needing to feel solid, in control, though what she really needed was to not be alone. She could feel the tears starting again, and unable to stop herself she allowed herself five minutes to break down, sobbing her heart out, the memories still fresh in her mind, her heart still pounding against her ribs, feeling like it was trying to break free.
She knew it was stupid to be so terrified of a dream, logically she knew that she was safe and that the dreams weren’t real, they couldn’t be. She was used to getting the occasionally precognitive dream of the future, but this was most definitely in the past, and the past had no bearing on her life. she kept wracking her brains trying to think where the visuals for the dream had come from, had she watched anything that might have triggered them, read anything so nasty? But she knew the answer was no, she knew that the reason for her nightmares was less mystical and more emotional. She still felt betrayed by both her coven, her family and Zagan.
Her coven had lied to her, controlled her and when she didn’t toe the line, bound her and forced her to begin a new life away from everything she had ever known and loved. Her family hadn’t stood up for her, not wanting to anger the coven elders or lose their position within their community. Willow had been left with no one and nothing that meant anything to her except her babies. Sure, she had made some friends since, but she still felt like an outsider, not supernatural enough to be part of the community, and too supernatural for the mundane world. She was a floater, someone that hovered on the outskirts of both societies without a place in either of them. Then she had met Zagan, someone that she had honestly thought cared for her and saw her as something special. How wrong had she been? The only good thing to come out of knowing Zagan was Myst… Myst, how she needed her friend.
Just thinking about the Dragon had calmed her enough to uncurl herself from her foetal ball of misery and pick up her phone. She sent a quick text, praying that her friend would be awake, or at the very least not pissed off at her for waking her up. A reply hit her phone almost instantly telling her to come over.
Hoisting a cat up under each arm she closed her eyes, gathering the energy of the earth around her as she travelled to the Dragon. She wasn’t surprised to find her friend sitting up in bed, any sane person would be, but she almost started crying again when she saw that the covers were already pulled back in invitation, the pillows plumped in preparation.
Wills put the squirming cats down on the floor, knowing they were allowed the run of the house and would be safe, then slid into the bed beside her friend.
“What’s wrong, Witchy one?”
“Can’t I just want to spend some time with my best friend?”
“At 3:30 in the morning? I know you didn’t get up at this time through choice since you say that mornings are the devils time.”
Wills sighed, rolling onto her side to face her friend.
“I’ve been having the weirdest dreams for the past month.”
“Weird good, or weird bad? I’m leaning towards the latter.”
“Bad dreams, nightmares really.”
Wills proceeded to tell the Dragon all about the nightmares that had been plaguing her sleep time, ones that felt so much more real than normal. She dreamt of death, of betrayal, and of a handsome man that seemed to haunt her thoughts both day and night.
Myst listened intently, not interrupting, letting Wills get it all out, though her face showed her concern for her friend.
“It seemed so real,” Wills concluded, finally winding down, feeling lighter now that she had shared her burden.
She expected her friend to tell her to stop being silly, that it was all a figment of her imagination and to settle back to sleep. But she didn’t. Myst had sat up while Wills had been talking, and now her head was in her hands as if devastated.
“I was afraid of this.”
Willow could barely hear her friend, her voice muffled by her hands, but she caught the meaning of the words. Myst knew something about the dreams, something that she had been worrying about but never warned her of. Her eyes narrowed at her friend, unable to help but think the worst.
“What were you afraid of? What’s happening to me? If you know something, you have to tell me.”
Her friend was silent for a long time, so long that Wills thought there was a possibility that the Dragon had gone back to sleep sitting up.
“I had a feeling that there was more to you than you let on.”
Wills frowned, what the hell was she talking about? There was nothing more to her, she hid nothing, she was a what you see is what you get, kind of person.
Myst sighed and got up, leaving the room without a word. Wills was tempted to follow her but, in the end, stayed put. She heard the dragon rummaging around in the attic above, shoving things around for a few moments before she reappeared in the doorway, her hands behind her back, obviously hiding something.
“You have the choice, Witchy, find out the truth now, or let it go, but once you make the choice it cannot be undone. You have to be sure.”
At first Wills thought Myst was joking, that she’s suddenly burst out laughing and hand her a bar of chocolate or something, but her face stayed the same, utterly serious. There was no need to think about the question, if there was answers to be had, no matter how hard they might be to hear, Wills wanted to hear them.
“I’m sure. I need to know what’s going on in my head.”
Myst nodded, revealing a book from behind her back. It was old, really old, the kind you’d see in a museum or library collection somewhere.
“The dream was real; I know because I was there.”
Myst offered the book which Wills automatically accepted. It was cool to the touch, but warmed in her hands, a comforting presence that felt like it belonged with her.
“You have some reading to do, Witchy.”
“Why are you bothering me again, Dragon?” Zagan glared at the one being that was always stupid, or stubborn, enough to summon him without offering a thing in return. “Do you have a death wish this early in the morning?”
“Let’s just cut to the chase, OK? I know we’ve never really liked each other that much, but we’ve always been civil because of her memory.”
He nodded his agreement, not saying anything. He’d found that people were more inclined to offer information if he kept silent.
“You need to go to Willow. I’ve tried to draw her away from you, as I’m sure you have, but it’s too late. She knows.”
The Dragons words hit him like a punch to the gut. He’d known it, deep down inside, in the place where his last shreds of hope resided, but he had refused to let himself believe. The pain was still there along with the knowledge that he had been weak. Again.
“Is she OK?”
“Find out for yourself, but I’m warning you,” Myst stepped closer, anger and worry clear in her eyes, “if you hurt this one, I will find a way to end you. It might take me fifty lifetimes, but I’ll do it. I won’t lose another friend. I can’t go through that again.”
Zagan stepped back, tamping down his instinctual urge to strike her down. His voice when he spoke was barely above a whisper, but he knew she heard him just fine.
“Neither can I.”
Wills was fuming, a mood not improved by the fact that, upon walking into her living room, she was confronted by the sight of her cat, her traitorous cat, curled up on the lap of the man that she couldn’t stop thinking about. And the little bitch was purring. Figured.
She had continued to dream of a man, dream of a woods where she practiced magic away from her village. She could feel love for the man but couldn’t see his face clearly, she heard his name, Uru. She saw death, felt the pain of the fire consuming the women’s body as if it were her own, heard her crying out for her friend, and her lover, who never came. She knew the friend was the last thing the woman saw, pushing her way through the crowd, screaming her name as her spirit left her body. She recognised that friend as her own.
Willow had always known that she had lived before, she had vague memories of them when in meditation that got stronger now and then. She was used to feeling connections to places she had never been and people she had never met, but she had never expected something this deep.
She marched over to the couch, grabbed the cat out of his lap, tossing her gently aside, ignoring her hiss of protest, and conjured the book into her hands.
Uncaring as to how delicate and rare the thing was, she slammed it down, open at the relevant page, onto his now vacant lap, feeling a small, petty glee when he winced as the spine made contact with a sensitive area. She waited until he’d scanned the page, hands on her hips, eyes blazing with fury.
“Why didn’t you tell me? Did I not deserve to know?” she demanded.
His eyes closed briefly, hiding the silvery gaze that she knew as well as her own. From the first moment she had stared into those amazing eyes she had felt like she had done so a thousand times, so familiar had they felt. And now she knew why, they were the same eyes her past self had looked into.
“I wasn’t sure. You’re so different from my Claudia,” he smiled at the memory. “But then, you always are”
“Always? As in more than once? More than one lifetime?”
Zagan nodded, carefully setting the book aside then held out his hand to her, palm up in offering. She refused to look at the hand, refused to take it no matter how much she wanted to. He didn’t seem to hold it against her though.
“Every lifetime I’ve been there, not always in a romantic way, but in your life. And you’ve been so special in every one of them.”
She couldn’t quite believe what he was saying, couldn’t quite get her head around his words, every lifetime?
“Every one? How many are we talking? Three? Four? More?”
“Ten,” his voice was quiet, but it seemed to echo around the silent room. “Ten that I know of.”
“Ten!” she screeched, slapping at his hand when he offered it to her again.
“Come to me, Witch.”
“No! You don’t get to touch me. You were an arsehole to me, you fucked me and dumped me.”
“I know, and I’m sorry.”
He caught her flailing hand in his, pulling her down onto his lap. His arms wrapped around her, cradling her to his chest. She couldn’t resist him, his arms felt like home. She inhaled deeply, breathing in that smell that was so unique to him. Unable to help herself she turned her head to look at him, his lips meeting hers in a gentle kiss.
The second his lips touched hers she felt something shift in her mind, like she could almost hear an audible click. It was then that the memories flooded over her. The tears she had been holding onto so tightly broke free, and she sobbed against his chest, the knowledge and pain as fresh now as it was then. She saw it all again, her dreams, but this time she knew that she was the woman, she knew what had led up to that moment, and what had happened after.
“I loved you, I loved you so much, with all my heart, with everything I was. And I died, they killed me for being with you.” She clung to him like he was her lifeline in a stormy sea, her one solid bit of sanity left in a world that had been turned upside down. She was a Witch, of course she believed in fate, but this was all too much for her brain to process.
“I heard you when you left, I wasn’t asleep. You promised you’d come back,” she didn’t mean to accuse him or blame him for anything that had happened before or after, it just popped out.
She felt rather than heard him sigh, felt his palm cupping her chin, his thumb brushing away her tears as he lifted her face to look at her, brushing his lips softly over hers. “I know.”
She could feel his emotions through their bond, knew that it was hurting him too. That was the last thing she had ever wanted to do, she never wanted to be the reason that he felt pain such as this. She tried to pull herself together, her tears gradually slowing as he held her. She heard his words break through the haze of emotions as he finally spoke, giving her the explanation that she so desperately needed.
“I couldn’t get away. I didn’t want to leave you. But it always happens, every time. We meet, we get close, you die. Every fucking time. So, I started staying away, watching you but not getting close and that seemed to help. But it’s rather hard to resist you, my beautiful Witch. Always so beautiful. No matter your hair, your face, your height, your race. You are always so beautiful to me. And I’m selfish, I could never stay away.”
She sniffed, wiping her eyes on her sleeve before she dared to look at him. “You did this time. You didn’t even know me.”
He shook his head, giving her one of his rare but dazzling smiles that kicked her right in the gut.
“No baby, I just hadn’t found you yet.”
Zagan pulled the Witch closer, his arms tightening around her smaller body as it nestled against his. They had talked long into the night, there had been tears and there had been heated words, but eventually they had come to an agreement.
He hadn’t told her all of her lifetimes, truth be told he likely didn’t even know them all, she was an anomaly in his world, a soul so pure and true, so powerful and full of love, that she transcended all natural laws of the spirit world.
Soul mates were supposed to find each other, they were supposed to live out their lives together once they had both reincarnated, unfortunately for them, he never did, because he never died. Only she did. And so, she was doomed to keep coming back, death after death, lifetime after lifetime, with no ending in sight.
He hadn’t wanted to stay, he had wanted her to be safe, to live out her life without him for as long as it was destined to be, hence why he hadn’t looked for her this time. He should have known that he couldn’t cheat fate, and once again she had barrelled into his life and turned it upside down.
He had told her that they couldn’t be together, that he wouldn’t risk her again, but she had shot his protests down in flames, pointing out that she was an adult, and unlike every other time, she knew who he was and what she was to him. She was going into it not as a wide-eyed innocent virgin girl, but as a woman in her own right, a powerful Witch who could make up her own mind.
She had asked him if anything was different this time, and much as he wanted to lie, he couldn’t, he never could. He had confessed that they had never bonded before, that she had never had access to his powers before, and not just that, but unless something managed to kill him, which was pretty much impossible, she had his immortality too.
Dare he allow himself to hope? Dare he allow himself to believe her when she said that she knew, just knew that it would be different this time because it already was? He wanted to, so fucking badly, but his heart beat out a warning. She was so much more this time, more vibrant, more powerful... just more everything. Losing her really would be the thing to tip him over the edge into the insanity that had threatened to consume him since the first time he had lost her.
Each time it was different, each time she as different, and each time he lost another little piece of his heart, another little bit of his soul died with her. He couldn’t take it again. He should leave.
He shifted as if to move but the Witch moved with him, rolling closer, draping her luscious self across his chest, one leg flinging itself over both of his. Trapped. He was trapped and there was nothing he could do about it. Once again, he was a slave to fate.
He bent his head, dropping a little kiss into her fragrant hair, breathing in her unique scent of vanilla and something fresh and fruity. She was the most precious thing in his world, the only thing he had left after a lifetime of losses.
He made a silent vow to her, then and there, that he would do everything in his power to protect her, to keep her from harm and upset. He would have to keep her a secret, keep her away form Ereshkigal and her minions, for if that bitch ever got wind of the fact that his Witch was back, she would never rest until she had destroyed them both.
He sighed, looking down at the face that had haunted his dreams for the past month. Even in sleep she had a determined frown in her face, a subtle wrinkling of her forehead, a tilt to her eyebrows and a stubborn set to her jaw. His lips twitched in a tiny, barely there hint of a smile as he felt the first spark of hope alight within his chest. If anyone could do it, if anyone could break their endless cycle of heartache, it would be her.
She was putting her trust into him, now he had to do the same for her.
Closing his eyes, he allowed his breathing to steady, allowed himself to be lulled by the steady thump of her heart against his chest and her gentle breaths against his skin, falling asleep with someone for the first time in forever.