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 To Repel Ghosts (Brooke)

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Elouise Kalhoun

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PostSubject: Re: To Repel Ghosts (Brooke)   Wed Aug 23, 2017 11:52 pm

Elouise watched Brooke carefully, her body tensed, ready to spring up and run away if necessary. The older girl was not making any sense to Elouise and it was starting to frighten her. What was she going on about? She'd been so understanding before. Now, Elouise wasn't so sure.

But as she watched her, she saw her taking deep breaths, what Elouise always did to help her calm down. Was Brooke frigtened? That only ever happened when Elouise was terrified or had a nightmare. Brooke definitely couldn't have had a nightmare because she was awake. The only possiblity left was that she was scared of something. Maybe that's why she could be so understanding; she knew what terror was like. So many people were eager to know fear because they'd never known terror.

Elouise waited. Sometimes, the only thing to do was to wait until it passed. When finally Brooke spoke, she repeated herself telling Elouise her name again. But she didn't stop there; she told the story of her father and her mother and a brother, and how she was put on the streets. Elouise knew nothing about all of this. She didn't even know what a mother, father, brother, or sister was. Desire had to teach her in one of their English lessons. Children naturally knew what those things were, having been born into a normal family, but Elouise had to learn it. It took her a few days to understand the concept and Desire had to explain it in various ways, but she understood that in one family, there was a mother and a father, and they were married. If they had more than one child, the boy was called a brother and the girl was called a sister. Together, they were called a family.

Of course, that begged the question of who her family was. She'd asked Desire of course, but never got an answer mainly because Desire didn't know. On the day she was taken away by the strange man - whose name she'd learned was Professor Blake, but to her, he was the strange man - Desire had given her the necklace with the engraving of her name. Unfurling one hand from around her knee, Elouise brought it up to the chain that rested around her neck and the heart-shaped pendant on which her name was engraved.

She had a brother? Elouise didn't know how she felt about that. What was a brother supposed to be like? Did that mean she had family? And what was family like? All she knew of family was with the ladies at Duncan's place. But none of them she could call a mother or a sister. What did it mean to have a brother?

Brooke went on, talking about how she and her apparent brother tried searching for her. But Brooke started crying and that made Elouise worried. People didn't cry for no reason. Elouise had cried that first time Duncan locked her in the cupboard with the insects. She'd cried the first time he put her in that tiny dog cage and she hadn't been able to move. She'd cried when he'd made her sit and stand in positions that she didn't want to. But as time passed, tears left her and she'd just numbly do whatever was required of her.

She glanced at the phone and the picture of who Brooke said was her brother, but the only thing she could think to say was, "Don't cry." Maybe if she answered the question, Brooke might not be so sad. "I've been with Duncan and Desire. And there was Star, Destiny, Candi, Angel, and Delight. We all lived at Dark Nights of Delight."

She'd only named the ladies who lived at the place. There were a few others who came and used it for business but they did not live there. When Elouise had asked about it, she'd been informed that those ladies were free but the ones who stayed there belonged to Duncan. She only knew the name of the place because Desire had taught her how to read and though her reading skills were equivalent to that of a seven year old, she'd sounded out the words that were engraved on top of the bar.

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Brooke Walker

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PostSubject: Re: To Repel Ghosts (Brooke)   Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:36 am

Gently, softly, Brooke let out a laugh at the comfort Elouise was giving. "Oh, Elouise," she said, almost fondly. "I'm not crying because I'm upset. I'm crying because we've found you. After all these years, we've found you. You're alive." She smiled, wiping away a few more that trickled down. "I'm crying because I'm happy.

Brooke filed the names away. Those names... they did not sound right, did not sound like proper names. Not with so many of them having such similar sounding ones. And then there was the name of the place. A blaze of anger flashed deep inside her. A brothel? Already she was composing an SOS text in her mind to the cop who rescued her off the streets. She'd visited him one summer with Ceyal. They'd started corresponding once she'd found out he had no idea what happened to her once he'd done the right thing and put her in foster care; he hadn't known what horrors had laid in store. How could he? He spent majority of the time apologizing, not that Brooke needed that.

As calmly as she could, Brooke said, "I've never heard of it. Where is it?" But now was not the time to interrogate her; Brooke would find out the more important details later. Instead, she was silently rejoicing. After all these years of looking and there she was. Worse for the wear, and probably exhausted from her years doing Merlin knows what, but alive. And as long as there was life, there was hope; Elouise could make it through, just as Brooke herself had done, and just as Ceyal had, too. Her family was there; she would make it. Had to make it.

And Ceyal! What would he think? How would he react? There were so many conflicting emotions inside her, but she knew she had to remain calm and not react, although she wanted to scream with pure joy. If she'd been alone, she probably would've grabbed Ceyal by the hands and started dancing; but she wasn't with him. She was alone with his sister -- his sister -- and they were strangers. Instead, Brooke let out another laugh. "Your brother... He'll spontaneously combust when he finds out. Oh, I do want to see his reaction." She flashed Elouise a sly grin. "If you're up to it, I have somewhat of a plan..."

When the agreement eventually came, Brooke told her the plan, trying her best not to keep the excitement and glee from her tone. Once more, she waited for agreement -- because, she knew, consent was everything; from what Elouise had said, there hadn't been much of that in her life and Brooke wanted the younger girl to know that now, here, she had complete control over her own life -- before turning on her phone again. The glare of the screen was cut somewhat by the night shift mode, but Brooke still had to squint as she tapped on her messages and brought up Ceyal's name.

They had an arrangement, the both of them, once it had been discovered that they could actively mute (or unmute) people. At night (or during classes), they would leave their phones on with everyone except the other muted. If nightmares or demons haunted them, they would text the other but a location -- kitchen, black lake, forest, art classroom -- and the other would show up, no matter what. No questions would be asked or raised about the cause. It was a promise; it was an understanding; it was love.

And Brooke, for the first and probably last time, was breaking the sacredness of this by texting in a non-emergency. But she was certain he would forgive her; he probably wouldn't even be angry.

Astronomy tower, she texted. She waited. It took less than a minute for him to read the text; as usual, no reply was given, but she knew he'd be up and on the way. She nodded to Elouise, flashing her a grin, and then stood, quickly moving to the door. Brooke stepped through, closing it slightly behind her, and waited for Ceyal to show. Time seemed to slow, the seconds stretching endlessly. She knew only a short while had passed, but the pounding of her heart made it feel like an eternity.

Finally -- and although it had only been a few minutes, it had taken far too long -- he showed, concern on his face turning into confusion as he saw her there. "Ceyal, I'm alright, but-" she said, internally chastising herself for the excitement that seeped through. She took a breath to calm herself and started again. "Ceyal, I need you to stay calm. Don't panic, don't react. There are shadows and demons about." It was a phrase he would understand; she often referred to the memories and flashbacks as those two things. "Just... Just stay calm, alright?" She paused here, looking intently into his eyes to make sure he'd internalized and understood.

And then, the smile she'd been fighting back finally breaking into a grin so wide her cheeks ached, she took another deep breath, reaching forward to take his hand into hers.

"I've found Elouise."


[[OOC: I hope the GM is okay; if not lemme know and I'll edit. Smile]]

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Elouise Kalhoun

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PostSubject: Re: To Repel Ghosts (Brooke)   Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:07 pm

Brooke was crying because she was happy? Elouise had only ever known people to cry when they were sad or scared. She had only ever cried when she was sad or terrified, and thinking about it now, she couldn't remember when she was last happy. Perhaps before that fateful day when Duncan dragged her off from Desire and forced her to dance. There had been a time before then where she was happy - she was sure of that - but she could not remember what it felt like to be happy.

Elouise shrugged in response to her next question, lifting and dropping one shoulder. She had one geography lesson with Desire who had somehow managed to procure a map of the world and had taught her the names of continents and countries. She had, of course, asked where they were and had been informed that they lived in Ireland, in the city of Dublin. That had raised the question of cities and what Dublin was like, which in turn led to her asking to go out. She was then informed that she wasn't allowed outside of the building. Naturally, she'd asked why and that was the first time she learned the name 'Duncan'.

"Dublin. In Ireland which is to the west of the United Kingdom, on the European continent," she said. She couldn't get any more specific than that, at least, in her reasonings. She'd only learned such things as street names after she was brought out of Duncan's place, and even then, she'd gone past them too quickly to read them. She didn't know why Brooke wanted to know all this, but she'd asked for it and Elouise didn't want to disappoint the only person who didn't back away from her like she was a strange creature. "But you shouldn't go," she added in a whisper. Nobody should go; it wasn't a nice place at all.

There was the phrase again. Your brother. She still didn't know how she felt about that. Not only was the concept of family so foreign to her that she couldn't quite comprehend it, but brother meant that it was a guy and Elouise wasn't too fond of the male gender. Duncan was a guy and he was a monster, as was the guy who'd assaulted her and all the other men who watched her dance. But Professor Blake was a guy and though she didn't know what he'd done to Duncan in that room that made him let her go, he was nice and kind. Surely if Brooke was friends with him, her brother couldn't be that bad, right?

She nodded, agreeing to Brooke's plan, only because she would be there too. Elouise had vowed never to be alone with a guy ever again, if she had a choice. It wasn't a guarantee that she would be safe - the man had attacked her in a roomful of people, after all - but it was a measure she could take.

From her corner, she watched as Brooke tapped away on the phone, also something that Elouise did not understand the mechanisms of. How was it possible that a person could send a message to another person through something they held in their hands? There was no connection at all between the two phones.

When Brooke got up, Elouise almost asked her to stay, not wanting to be alone with a man, but she realised that she was probably waiting for her brother, Ceyal, Brooke had said his name was. What did he look like? What would he be like? What was she supposed to say? She found it hard enough to talk with people her own age, much more a guy who was seventeen.

With bated breath, she waited until Brooke returned with Ceyal. Her eyes landed on her brother and in them she saw tears swimming. Was he sad too? Or happy? She was expecting panic or terror, but looking at him ,she felt all the puzzle pieces fall into place, a hole in her heart that she hadn't realised was there until it was filled.

Was that what family was?

She unfurled from her fetal position, standing up with her hands clutched together in front of her, waiting for him or Brooke to say something.

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Ceyal Kalhoun

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PostSubject: Re: To Repel Ghosts (Brooke)   Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:01 pm

The beeping phone roused Ceyal. There could only be one person messaging him at this hour of the night. Brooke. They'd come up with a system that worked well and though a normal boyfriend might find it highly irritating to be woken up at all hours of the night, Ceyal could hardly be classified as 'normal'. And while the reason behind the messages wasn't something that was good - because that meant that the darkness had gotten the better of them for a moment - Ceyal took every opportunity he could to spend time with Brooke. They didn't even need to speak sometimes, understanding the other so deeply that words didn't need to be spoken. They might exchange a few words, but Ceyal was more than content to just hold Brooke and reassure both himself and her, that they were okay.

He reached to the bedside table, reading the message on the lock screen to check the location before scrambling out of bed and throwing on a t-shirt. As he left the room, he grabbed a jacket as a second thought. If she was on the parapet and not in the tower room, she might be cold.

He sprinted down the corridors, Hope at his heels, and wound his way up the stairs as concern built in him. But she was standing there, looking fine. Before he could ask what was wrong, she spoke, telling him that she was alright. But... there was always a but. Her words didn't make it any better. When someone says not to panic and to stay calm, there was usually reason to panic.

"What's going on?" he asked. "You're worrying me." The text was not for nothing, he knew that. Something had to be going on for Brooke to have woken him up in the middle of the night with a text of a location. There were shadows and demons about. He knew exactly what she meant, but if not her shadows and demons, whose?

He met her gaze, summoning the inner strength he knew he had and on which he'd called upon many times before. Shadows and demons came in various forms and whether hers or someone else's he'd fight them to the death.

She smiled then, that breathtaking smile that always made him wonder what she'd seen in him that made her agree to date him. He closed his fingers around hers, giving them a gentle squeeze. Whatever it was, they would be facing it together.

Then she said the three words that he'd been wanting to hear for a darned long time. At first they didn't register, but the meaning followed and his eyes widened in disbelief. If Brooke hadn't been holding his hand, he didn't know what he would've done. But that light touch was his anchor, grounding him to reality even as he felt himself soaring to the high heavens.

"You...you've...what?" he stammered, shock evident in his eyes. She would not joke about something she knew was so dear to him, and she definitely wouldn't have used their texting arrangement on a mere joke. She was serious; he knew that. But his brain refused to comprehend that there was truth to her words. They'd been searching for Elouise for years and Brooke was always the one to encourage him to never give up hope. If it wasn't for her, he didn't know if he'd would've made it this far.

"We missed the sorting ceremony, Ceyal. We missed it and... well. You're not the only muggleborn in the family. She's outside. I found her fighting shadows. She's outside," Brooke continued.

Outside. Fighting shadows. The words rang in his mind. Elouise, the girl he and Brooke had been searching for, was outside. She was here, here in Hogwarts. After years and years of calling and visiting hospitals, orphanages, even churches, she'd come to them and Brooke had found her. But...fighting shadows. That term wasn't used lightly between them. What had even happened to his sister?

Tears swam in his eyes, and he pulled Brooke to him, hugging her tightly, needing her strength and steadiness. He would not face his sister while feeling as if a thousand seas where tossing him about. "Oh, Merlin. Oh, Merlin," he muttered.

When he'd sufficiently composed himself, he dropped a kiss on Brooke's forehead before taking a deep breathe and stepping out. He saw her immediately, a skinny figure clothed in a nightdress. She'd been three months old the last time he saw her and he could not believe that he was looking at her now. Her eyes were exactly as he remembered them to be, a mesmerising mixture of green, brown, and gold, but in them he saw hurt and pain, the shadows and demons lurking in what once sparkled with curiousity and joy.

"Elouise," he said, his voice cracking slightly with emotion. He walked forward slowly, not wanting to startle her and knowing that whatever haunted her could very well come back. He hadn't yet let go of Brooke.

"I'm Ceyal," he continued, taking another step closer. She looked so frail, so vulnerable and helpless that all he wanted to do was take her in his arms and protect her from the world, but the world had gotten to her before he had and left its scars all over her. There was nothing he could do now but be there for her and mend what could be mended.

He didn't know what else to say, never having actually planned it out beforehand. He couldn't hug her for fear that he would scare her off. He definitely could not begin with, "how have you been?" or "nice to meet you". The only thing left to say was, "Hello." And that's exaclty what he said. They were family, and yet strangers. He would have to start at the beginning.

"Hello," she answered in a whisper so soft that he barely caught it.

She paused for a while, but he could tell that she wanted to say something else, and so he waited.

"You're my brother?" Her hazel gaze met his dark brown ones.

"Yes, I'm your brother."

"What's a brother?" was her next question.

He was not expecting that. How did one answer that question? Did she mean it literally or in the sense of the role of a brother? He glanced at Brooke, silently asking for some help.


[[OOC: The last parts sound like a one-shot. Sorry :/ ]]

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Brooke Walker

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PostSubject: Re: To Repel Ghosts (Brooke)   Sat Aug 26, 2017 4:40 pm

Dublin. Brooke didn't explicitly know anyone there -- she'd been raised on the streets of London -- but she was certain her people would have their people. The warning only confirmed what Brooke feared; it wasn't a legal establishment, nor was it a nice one. "I won't," she told the girl, smiling gently. "I'm going to get some good people to go help the others you mentioned, if they need help. Make sure they're safe and not being hurt, that sort of thing." There would be a trial, no doubt, for the person in charge (Brooke would make it her personal mission to see to it, no matter what) but would that mean Elouise would need to testify? Brooke had known what she was doing -- known the risks -- when she'd done it. It wasn't right to ask a child to do it; a child shouldn't need to. But they would cross that bridge when they -- and it would definitely be a they, now Elouise was home and family was whole -- reached it.

As she expected, Ceyal met her there, anxiety in his posture. She could see the questions in his eyes before he spoke them, and all she could do was repeat what had been in her mind since she made the connection.

Ceyal's reaction brought tears to her eyes once more, and she furiously blinked them away. Crying could be kept for later. Right now, they had Elouise to take care of. The hug Brooke returned with all she had in her, allowing the emotions she couldn't express with words to be felt through the touch, the squeeze, the way her heart beat against his and the way she felt his breath playing with her hair as he kissed her. She smiled into his chest. Brooke stepped back when he let go, knowing, somehow, that he wanted her with him. It was a private moment, family meeting family, and a part of her wondered if it was right for her to be intruding -- but she was reminded by the weight and warmth of Ceyal's hand in her own that she, too, was now family. One day, they'd get married. Perhaps she was a bit young for it, and people scoffed at her certainty -- they were, after all, still in school and life had a way of ruining things -- but Brooke knew, intrinsically, that there would be no other for her. It was Ceyal or it was nobody; she loved him and he loved her.

But she said nothing, allowing Ceyal the moment with his sister, squeezing his hand with all she had, telling him she was there. And then the question came and she felt his eyes on her before she turned to catch it, holding his gaze firmly. She smiled, gently, encouragingly, letting a moment pass. He had no answer, no way to begin, and Brooke nodded once, barely a dip, telling him she understood and she had it from here.

"A brother..." She faltered for a moment, her mind going not to Ceyal in that moment but Colby and her parents. "A brother can be a few things. A brother is, by birth, someone who shares the same mother or father or both. In your case, it's both." She paused, smiling gently at Elouise, her grip tightening around Ceyal's hand, squeezing it both to reassure him and herself. "But a brother can be so much more than that. A brother is someone who loves you, unconditionally, for no other reason than they're family. A brother looks after you, and protects you. I'm adopted; my brother isn't mine by blood. He was also adopted. He looks after me. He teases me a lot, but I also tease him and..." Brooke tried to find the words and failed. Colby was her best friend, someone to confide in, someone to trust. How could she explain that to someone who probably never knew anything but abuse, from the way she acted? What had Aurelia told her, again, when Brooke had first arrived there?

"He's home," she said; the words were etched in her mind forever. We'll never hurt you. We love you; you're ours. Brooke smiled, glanced at Ceyal, and then back to Elouise. "He'll never hurt me and he'll never abuse me like those other men have. Ceyal's your brother. I'm..." Again, she let her eyes flicker to Ceyal. His girlfriend, she wanted to say. But now was not the time; this was not the place. "I'm his best friend. And we'll never hurt you. We'll protect you; we'll keep you safe. That's what it means, Elouise -- that you're loved and wanted forever."

There was so much more, of course. Apologies to be mads, guilt to be destroyed (she knew, instinctively, that Ceyal would blame himself in part for what happened), and shadows to bring to the light. There would need to be healing, and forgiveness, and love -- but she was certain there would be plenty of the last. How could there not? Love had driven their search, kept the hope kindled when nothing else would and it seemed too bleak for any sane person to continue, and had brought, finally, Elouise to them. It would take time, but Brooke was certain that they would be alright in the end.

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Elouise Kalhoun

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PostSubject: Re: To Repel Ghosts (Brooke)   Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:29 pm

Elouise nodded at Brooke's words. Maybe if she could help the rest of them, she would be able to see Desire again. She didn't think that one girl could do anything against Duncan but Elouise would hold on to any hope that she could be reunited with Desire. She wasn't as close to the other women but she knew that most of them weren't happy to be working for Duncan. She'd questioned the whole thing before, why they were there if they were unhappy, why didn't they just stop working if it wasn't what they wanted.

Star had explained it to her using one of her soft toys. Her teddy bear belonged to her and therefore she could do anything she wanted with it; it only did what she wanted. In the same manner, the women belonged to Duncan and could only do what he told them to, even if they didn't like it. She'd been around four or five then and had accepted the explanation. She'd only truly understood what it meant when Duncan started putting her to work. There was no such thing as free will.

Now, free from Duncan, she was still getting used to the idea that she had a voice, an opinion, her own emotions to feel and thoughts to think. She almost didn't know what to do with such freedom. It almost overwhelmed her to know that she was her own person, no longer subjected to Duncan's whims and fancies.

Looking her brother in the eyes, Elouise tried to decide how she felt. There was the hint of fear, something she could identify so easily just because she was so acquainted with it. She'd just about come to terms with the fact that she lived a new life with a new name, and now out of the blue, she was told that she had a brother. Perhaps it was the fear of the unknown, the fear of not knowing what would happen next, what having was supposed to mean. Or just maybe, it was because it was too much change all at once to deal with. It almost felt as if her life was spiralling out of control.

But beyond the fear, there was curiousity. She'd always wanted to know her family, who they were and what they were like. Family was part of a person's identity and for so long, she'd gone without it. Perhaps her brother could tell her more about her parents and give her an idea of who she was supposed to be.

He said her name and Elouise recognised the look in his eyes. It was the same look that Desire had given her before. Was it love? It was the only thing that could describe it. Surely he could not be bad if he had love in his eyes. A few words were exchanged and then she blurted out a question that had been burning in her mind. Her brother looked to Brooke. Did he not know what a brother was? Or perhaps he had no words to describe it.

Her gaze landed on Brooke as she began speaking. The first part of her answer she already knew. Her question had been misunderstood. Just as she was about to rephrase it, Brooke spoke again. She detailed what a brother was supposed to be and it sounded amazing, but when Brooke went on to say that her brother was home, Elouise's eyebrows creased a little. Home, as she understood it, was a place where people lived. How then could a person be a home? If Brooke meant the feeling associated with home, Elouise didn't think that could be very pleasant. Home to her was the helplessness every time Duncan made her do something she didn't want to, it was the terror as she waited for his next angry outburst, it was the shame as she showed her body to the hungry eyes that wanted more of her. But it was also the safety she found in Desire's arms, the joy she found in learning whatever Desire managed to teach her, and the understanding they'd forged that they were not alone in their pain. Was that home?

Elouise heard a promise in Brooke's next words. She sounded so sure that Ceyal would never hurt her. 'Like those other men have' sounded as if Brooke had been hurt by men before. Did she too know what if felt like to be at the mercy of men? To know that nothing she did could stop them from doing whatever they wanted and to give up fighting altogether because there was no use?

Her eyes jumped back to Ceyal, then to the hands that joined him to Brooke. Elouise wasn't entirely sure - so naive and clueless she was about social interactions - but something told her that the two of them were more than best friends. She'd seen best friends around Hogwarts before. In silence she'd observed the way people behaved around each other and that wasn't how best friends behaved. But she didn't bring it up, not knowing how to. Instead, she focused on the second half if Brooke's words.

"Promise?" she asked, meeting Brooke's eyes then Ceyal's. She knew how fragile a promise was and how easily people broke them, but she also knew deep down, that a promise was not something either Brooke or Ceyal took lightly. If they gave her a promise, she was sure that they would keep it.

"I promise," Ceyal responded. He paused for a while then asked a question that he knew could either end disastrously or joyfully. "May I give you a hug?" It was a question that could end up hurting him. Still, he knew he needed to give her a choice because although all he wanted to do was just envelope her in a hug, it could end up doing more damage than good. He had no idea what Elouise had gone through, the pain that she'd suffered at the hands of monsters.

There was a long pause as Elouise debated the question. A hug meant physical contact and a hug with Ceyal meant physical contact with a male, something that Elouise shunned. But he was he brother and he'd just promised not to hurt her. And Brooke was there. It could be bad, right? She bit the inside of her lip, her fingers fidgeting by her side as she made her decision. "Only if I can pet the dog," she replied, nodding a little.

"Of course!" With a slight grin, Ceyal let go of Brooke's hand as he lowered himself to his knees and very gently wrapped his arms around the skinny frame of his sister and felt her hands go around his neck. He could not help the tears that escaped his eyes as finally did something he had only dreamed of before this. Elouise was here with him. What seemed to only exist in his distant imagination was now birthed in reality. "I love you," he whispered into her ear. She didn't say anything back but he didn't mind. All that mattered was that she knew she was loved and that she was safe.

He held one arm out for Brooke to join with Hope getting in a few licks here and there. The road from here, he knew, would not be smooth. There were ghosts and monsters to conquer, questions to be answered, and relationships to be forged. It would be a slow process and they would only go at a pace Elouise was comfortable with, but they were together and that was enough for Ceyal.

_________________________________________________

HARRY POTTER || 11 || RAVENCLAW
Silent tears hold the loudest pain.
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