Monday, 30 January 2012

| Short Story - Holding On and Letting Go | Parts 1-5


Holding On and Letting Go 

INDEX

Part 1 - Dawn  
Part 2 - A Warning Sign 
 Part 3 - Cracks in the Pavement 
 Part 4 - All Good Things 
Part 5 - Holding On and Letting Go 

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Part 1 - Dawn
Dawn settled on the city as Khushi walked up slowly to her window, dropping the towel she was using to dry off her damp hair. She threw open the glass slides, allowing the cool morning breeze to caress her face, breathing in deeply she took it all in. The smell of Delhi before the dust settled during the day, it smelled of damp mud from the light rain last night, she loved that smell. It reminded her of her childhood, when she would sit out in front of her house with her Jiji in the mud after it had rained, they would dance and play when it was pouring down on them, and when it stopped, they would splash around in the little pools of water and sticky mud until their parents would call them back inside to clean up.

"Khushi, betiya, how many times have we told you to not play out in the rain for so long? You'll get a cold" her mother used to lovingly say as she dried her hair after her shower.

Looking sadly over at the towel she had just dropped on the chair next to her she frowned, her mother was gone, carried away with the wind, snatched away from her. She wouldn't be back to offer little moments of love and give her advice that she could pass on to her kids someday.
She sighed with a heavy heart, always hating when she started the day with a sad thought, she did think it was appropriate however, because she had been feeling down ever since she had found out about Shyam.
She looked down at her own ring finger, empty, as she had removed the little circle of gold and thrown it back at him, in response to all the betrayal and mistrust. The light buzzing in her temple became more rigorous as she thought of Arnav. She couldn't blame him for getting engaged, he may have announced it first, but she had gotten engaged first. She didn't have a right to question him. She looked up at the skyline that had started to slowly show signs of light, she didn't have a right either way, whether she was engaged or not.
She smiled at her silly thoughts, even if there wasn't all that there was between them, he still wouldn't be hers. He would never belong to a middle class girl, a girl with no respect and no class as he had put it, a girl that would go to any lengths for a bit of money.

There was no point in reminding herself of all the harsh words he had spoken to her, they only made her heart burn with more sadness, knowing that she would just have to bury her dreams before they even had a chance to see the light.

"Buaji! Ammaji ! I'm going to the Raizada mansion!" she called back into the house as she stepped outside.

"So early?" Bua called from within her room watching outside as the sun had only begun to rise "Hai Nandikissor! I know Anjali ji asked you to come over yesterday but you are being so irresponsible! It's hardly even the morning yet, get back in here and leave whe.."  she rounded out through her door to see a flash of bright red and Khushi whipped around the door.
"When will this girl learn?" she said, slapping her forehead. She felt guilty for what she had done to Khushi so she let her leave, maybe she should lay off her for a few days, she deserved that much.

She was thinking of him the entire way towards his house, lost in the thoughts of what those eyes could do to her, they could stop her in her tracks and melt her entire being in a matter of seconds. She needed to gather control of herself and remember that she couldn't let herself get carried away like she had in the past. They had broken off their engagement, and Lavanya had left for London after a sad goodbye, but that didn't mean that she was free. In fact, she felt worse now, knowing that there was no barrier to keep her emotions in check.

She stopped near the gate to the mansion and held her head in her hands as it began to throb. She had never had a headache like that before, it felt like her brain was bruised and whichever way she would turn, it would smack painfully against her skull. Holding her head in one hand she made her way up the stairs and to the front door.


___________________

I'll leave early, and get out of here before Di has a chance to call her to come over and help out, he thought, stopping momentarily by the mirror in his room. Did he really want to avoid her? His mind told him yes, that he should leave and not have to deal with seeing her. But he knew deep inside that he had craved those eyes since the day of Akash and Payals engagement. He still hadn't found out why she had been so upset, and she refused to talk to him about it.
He contemplated for a while before finally deciding that he would stay home. It didn't make sense to go in to work when he didn't have much to do, and his family would want him home too, well, that is what he told himself anyway.

He changed into his casual wear, pulling on a dark blue sweater and quietly made his way down to the kitchen knowing that everyone would be asleep. The sound of someone crashing into one of the vases out by the front door reached him through the long corridor. He rushed out down the corridor before they had a chance to ring the doorbell and wake everyone up.

She was standing bent over a green glass vase holding it in place with a shocked expression on her face. Red clothes stuck tightly against her pale skin as her face started to match its colour from embarrassment of what she had just done.

"You!?" he exclaimed, looking down at her.
She looked up at him and blinked furiously to get rid of the striking pain against her temple.
He hated it when she talked non stop, but he hated it a thousand times more when she didn't, and kept hidden from him what was going through her mind.
"What are you doing?" he roughly asked.

"I..urm..came to see Anjali ji" she boldly stammered.

Seeing her act so nonchalant made him angry, angry that she wasn't acting like it affected her, and angry that she hadnt said anything when she had thought he was getting engaged to Lavanya. Why had she not said anything? Why had she not told him how much it had hurt her, how much she didn't want it to happen. Anger at all that she was hiding from him bubbled within him as she stared up at him.

"What the hell is wrong with you Khushi Kumari Gupta? Do you know what time it is? Do you think everyone just sits around and waits for you to come? Because you are so important? Because everyone here cares about when and where you turn up? Well, you are wrong, I don't care, NOBODY cares" he said through clenched teeth.

She looked up in shock and let herself absorb his words, reminding herself who she was speaking to she tried not to get upset.
"Ill, just go then" she slowly said, not being able to think straight through her head ache and Arnav standing right in front of her, she turned around.

He closed his eyes and bit his tongue, regretting his words. He should think clearly before he speaks. That anger was going to land him in messy situations.
"Wait" he said, as she began to walk down the stairs "Just, come inside, and wait for Di to wake up" he said, not looking her in the eyes.
She understood that to be an apology but still walked past him in a huff, letting him know that he had been rude.

As he walked back up the corridor to find her awkwardly standing by a pillar he spoke up.
"Don't just stand there like an.." he bit his tongue again, trying not to sound rude despite the cold look in his eyes, hiding all his emotion at having seen her.

She interrupted him before he got the chance to say anything to insult her even more.
"Okay I know you are much smarter than me and you always know what to do, am I standing here or you? They are my feet, my legs, my body. It is none of your business where I stand or wait for that matter. I know you are such a big business man, and you manage a company so big that my family looks like a grain of sand to you, but you still don't know how to talk to people" she panted, leaning back off the pillar and taking a step towards him "Yes yes I know, this is your house, but I've told you before that the fact that this his your house comes with the right of you getting to apologise with every other right you get."

Arnav stood aghast, opening his mouth to retaliate only to be interrupted by her again.
"I know you won't apologise, I know that you think my status isn't worth apologising to, and I don't care if you do or not, but I am not going to stand back and not let you know when I think you are wrong, and right now, you are" she huffed, breathing heavily as he furiously took a few steps to close the distance between them.

"Shut up, shut up, shut up!" he shouted, with every step he took, forgetting in his rage to be quiet.
"Just because no one here shows you your place doesn't mean you get to speak to me that way, understand? You are in my house, and here are my rules, don't you dare speak to me like that again"

"What are you going to do if I do?" she whispered strongly against his skin, now only inches from his face feeling her heart begin to race.

"Don't provoke me Khushi, you know very well all the things that I could do to shut you up right now, Ive told you this before and don't make me repeat myself again, I haven't even started misbehaving with you so don't push your boundaries, stay where your status and your respect lets you" he said to her a rage, anger evident in his eyes.

Khushi opened her mouth to speak again but thought the better of it, there was no use arguing with him when they were back full circle to him picking at her status again. She thought back for the second time that morning as her head continued to bang against her skull, to the things he thought of her, a girl with no respect and no class as he had put it, a girl that would go to any lengths for a bit of money.

She held back the tears as he turned around and began walking away from her towards the kitchen, regretting his words with every passing moment. He wanted to turn around and say sorry, say that he hadn't meant a word that he had said, and that he said things like that on impulse, and that he would try to change, for her.

But something wasn't right, it was like that feeling he got in the pit of his stomach whenever she was close by, except that feeling made him feel lighter and relaxed. Somehow like it was all going to be okay. It was different this time. It was dread clawing away at his insides.

He turned around before leaving the room to see Khushi standing weakly in the centre of the room where he had left her. A single  trickle of blood coloured as vibrantly as her dress slowly seeping down her skin from below her nose.
He stopped dead in his tracks and watched wide eyed as her beautiful gleaming eyes lulled back in her head as she fell, losing consciousness before she harshly hit the ground. 

Part 2 - A Warning Sign


She could smell the settled dust as she breathed in sharply and she knew who was there before she had even opened her eyes.  When she did, the emotions still overcame her like she had not been expecting it.

Tears of both sadness and joy filled up in her eyes as she saw the beautiful woman standing before her. How long she had yearned to see her, feel that glow from her presence and look into those warm eyes that made her feel like she was in the safest place the world had to offer.
"Amma?" she called out into the silence, to receive a warm smile in return. Khushi's heart almost jumped out of her chest as tears began to flow down her face.

How long she had waited, how long she had cried herself to sleep in hopes of seeing her mother again. How she had waited for what seemed like a lifetime on the night she had found out that they were gone, hoping with all her heart and strength that they would walk through the door, back to their house, back to her, because she didn't believe that they would leave her behind.

"Amma" she cried again, taking a step towards the figure in front of her.

"Khushi" her mother whispered through the mist.
Khushi clung on to her chest from the overwhelming wave of emotions that hit her from having heard her voice after all these years. She started crying as she took a few steps forward.

"Amma" she said again, voice breaking not knowing what the right words were to say"I...I've missed you, Amma, please don't leave me again, please stay" she pleaded, as she saw her begin to fade away.

"Khushi, we miss you too and I love you, please remember that, and remember that you are strong."

"We? Babuji? What do you mean? Amma please Amma, I don't want to be strong without you" she asked the fading figure, starting to break down in sobs from her desperateness as she tried to close the gap between them.

"Take care of yourself, remember not to play out in the rain for too long, you'll get a cold" she said slowly through a weak but heart warming smile.

She started to disappear as Khushi began to shout out "NO! Amma! Amma NO! Dont, please please don't leave me" she begged, starting to feel a familiar faint buzz begin to appear in her head.

Before she knew it, her eyes had fluttered open to find herself in his arms as he carried her towards a large building.

25 minutes ago ...

"Khushi!" he shouted, watching as she hit the ground.
It scared him, more than he could put into words to see her fall and not be able to catch her. It put fear in his heart because he couldn't save her like he had done every time before. Why had he not been able to hold on to her before she collided with the cold floor beneath? He put aside his thoughts as he knelt down beside her and lightly shook her.

"Khushi?  Dammit Khushi are you allright?" he asked fearfully, watching as the line of blood dripping from her nose made its way along her cheek and towards her ear.
He swiftly secured one arm behind her back and another under her knees before pulling her up towards him as he stood up and made his way out the door.

He placed her in the seat next to his, cupping her face in his hand and lightly shaking her in a final attempt to regain her consciousness before starting up the car and driving as fast as the streets of Delhi would allow him towards the hospital. He was glad that it was so early in the morning and that there was no traffic.

Finally pulling up at the emergency doors he effortlessly picked her up again in his strong arms and watched as the dried blood against her skin clung to his sweater as she rested her head on him.

"A..Arnavji?" she whispered, looking up at him after having managed to open her eyes.

He looked down at her and felt his heart swell with joy at seeing her okay.

"Where is she?" she asked, confusing Arnav.

"Who Khushi?"

"Amma, where is Amma" Khushi asked, holding on to the pain through her temples again by clutching at his clothing. He hated seeing her like this, her pain was his pain. Wanting to rid her of it as soon as possible her burst through the hospital doors and called out for the doctors.
A young looking man wearing a white coat registered his presence and asked Arnav to wait for a while.

Arnav stepped up to him and let the arm under Khushi's knees drop so he was holding her tightly against him with one arm before reaching out to grab the man's collar and pushing him against the wall.
"You get me a doctor, and you do it right this second" he said, voice dangerously low as he choked the man in front of him "If anything happens to her, I swear to God I'll.."

"O..o..okay sir, jusss give m..me a second" the man stammered, clutching at his restricted throat and running to get a doctor when Arnav had reluctantly let go of him.

He wrapped his second arm around her as she nuzzled her face against his chest.
"We're at the hospital, you're going to be okay" he whispered into her ear, as she lightly nodded against him to let him know she heard him.

__________________

He waited by the door to her room, looking out through the window at the sun that was now fully out in the morning sky. He shouldn't have said what he had to her in the morning. The buzz of his phone in his pocket brought him out of his thoughts and he picked up to find his sister on the line.

"Chote! You promised no work!" she complained before he even had the time to say hello.

"I'm not at work Di, Im at.." he looked through the window to her room where she was sitting on a white covered bed talking to the doctor that had checked up on her, she seemed fine, weak, but fine. Thinking that there was no need to worry his sister, he swallowed his words. "No, I meant I am at work, Di, look I'll be home soon okay" he said, before abruptly hanging up on her.

He wanted to go in to the room, but the doctor had told him to wait outside, so he did. Jaw clenched, staring in at her blank eyes until she nodded at the doctor and came outside.
He reached out for her when she came through the door.

"I'm fine" she said, refusing his help.

When she started walking away, he quickly caught up with her.

"You sure?" he asked concerned, looking at her as she consciously wiped away at any blood she thought might still be stuck to her skin.

He wasn't sure if she heard him because she didn't reply as she continued to rush down the corridors in the hospital.

"Khushi!" he panted, moving to stand in front of her and turn around so he was blocking her path.
"Where are you going? I'll drop you home" he offered, only to watch her shake her head.

"I can get home myself" she said, stepping around him.

He stood confused for a moment, not understanding what was going on.

"Look, I'm sorry about this morning" he called out behind him knowing that she had stopped "You were right, I was wrong" he took in a deep breath "I shouldn't have shouted at you like that"

She looked back at him for a moment as he turned around and decided that she couldn't do this anymore, not now. Clutching at the colourful bag draped around her shoulder she started to walk away again, down the last corridor and reception hall until she was out of the main doors leading in.
She contemplated as she dragged her brightly coloured shoes through the damp dust as the severity of the situation slowly began to dawn on her.
What was she going to do?

Before she knew it a white SUV had pulled up right in front of her and Arnav stepped out of the other side and opened the door to the passenger seat.

"Sit inside Khushi" he said, looking intently at her.

"I told you I'm fine, I'll get home" she said stubbornly, starting to step around him again only to have him lightly place his hand on her waist and hold her in place.

"Please?" he said softly. Khushi tried not to look at his eyes because she knew she would be a goner once she had, but his voice was enough to melt her heart. The way he had said please, she knew he felt guilty about the morning, but she did not want his pity.

Her mind was racing with a million thoughts, what had happened, how she had been feeling strange since the morning, and then how she had seen her mother. All amplified by the warm hand pressed against her waist, she almost felt her mind give up as her heart gave in to him.

"Fine" she said, still not looking him in the eye as she settled in the seat.

They drove in silence for the whole ride to her home, the cool morning breeze cooled her skin as she rested her head against the slightly lowered window. He looked over at her worried a few times, opening his mouth and finding that he didn't have the right words, to close it again.

When he finally pulled up at her house he looked over at her starting to unbuckle her seat belt.
"What did the doctor say?" he said, giving up to the itch in his mind that had made him want to ask that question from the moment she had stepped out of the hospital room .
She looked in his eyes as her mind raced. She felt the blood rise up in her cheeks as he looked at her. His ruggedly handsome face was etched with concern for her, but she knew how that concern could turn to anger in mere seconds, she had seen it happen before, yet everytime he spoke to her in a soft voice, she could feel him steal another part of her heart.
She wasn't going to let him have that kind of control over her, not anymore.

She stepped out of the car and turned around to face him, looking into the eyes that made her breath catch, she lied through her teeth.
"He said everything was fine"

Precap

"Were you supposed to go see Anjali ji this morning?" Payal called, causing Khushi to look up from the statue she was staring at.

"Huh? Anjali ji? Yes, yes I was meant to go see her but.." Khushi started.

"She called, she said there is no need for you to come over because she got everything arranged, she just wanted your help in picking some things out for the party she is throwing me and Aakash tomorrow!" Payal chimed, excitement evident in her voice "Can you believe this? I only just got engaged to him and another party, Khushi, help me pick out something to wear, Aakash is going to be there!" she jumped, pulling Khushi up out of the chair.

Arnav is going to be there - she thought.


Part 3 - Cracks in the Pavement
She shook from guilt as she lied straight to his face, staring right into those eyes that she somehow knew would trust her every word.
She turned on her heel and walked up the narrow road before he got a chance to change her mind, hearing the engine of his car rev up once she was inside.

Walking in through the wooden door she looked over at her Buaji who was surprisingly calm considering how Khushi had left her that morning. She watched her mother and sister fuss over cooking in the kitchen and her Babuji watch all the commotion from within the confines of his wheelchair. The tears pricked away at her eyes and she ran to her room, locking the door behind her and breaking down in tears at all that had gone wrong.

What felt like hours later found Khushi finally unlocking the door to the room she had stayed undisturbed in all afternoon to wash her face rid of all the tear marks, glad that the colour of her dress matched that of the drops of blood that had stained it, camouflaging the cause of  her pain. She took up the seat in front of her Devi Maiyya, and for the first time in her life, found that she had no words to say.

"Were you supposed to go see Anjali ji this morning?" Payal called, causing Khushi to look up from the statue she had been staring at.

"Huh? Anjali ji? Yes, yes I was meant to go see her but.." Khushi started.

"She called, she said there is no need for you to come over because she got everything arranged, she just wanted your help in picking some things out for the party she is throwing me and Aakash tomorrow!" Payal chimed, excitement evident in her voice "Can you believe this? I only just got engaged to him and another party, Khushi, help me pick out something to wear, Aakash is going to be there!" she jumped, pulling Khushi up out of the chair.

Arnav is going to be there - she thought, letting Payal drag her out of her misery as she thought of her family and how she would do anything to keep them happy. Happy and safe.

___________________
 Please do listen as you go alongSmile


 Looking at herself through the lights in the mirror she felt like she was watching the image of someone else. Everything had felt so different ever since the morning before. Every moment seemed extraordinary, every second so uncertain, everything she had taken for granted seemed to stand out to her, caught like dust through a ray of light, every single speck blinded her with its shine.
"My sister is beautiful" Payal said, sneaking up behind Khushi and placing her hands on her shoulders, admiring Khushi in a green and red anarkali dress with a decorated neckline. It dipped low under her neck and looped around her narrow back, flashing her pale skin with her hair tied up in a loose bun with messy curls of soft hair falling around her face.
She looked divine. He caught her eyes as she walked in, eyes so big and bright, adorned with dark eyeshadow that made their honey colour stand out like glowing lanterns through the darkness. He did not know how anyone could manage to look so tempting and innocent at the same time. Her dress swayed below her with every step she took towards him, making him forget how he had spent two whole days distracted by her thoughts because he was now distracted by her.

He could still feel that dread, ever since he had walked away from her yesterday morning that feeling had been looming around him, unable to shake it off even after hearing she was okay from her, he realised that something was definitely wrong.

He watched her as she greeted his family and smiled. Fake and elastic, it stretched across her face but didn't reach her eyes.
She darted out of his sight before he even had the chance to say anything, towards the masses of people gathered in the sitting area, where the loud music beat against their ears. He followed her footsteps to find her standing in the corner of the room, but every time he found he tried to approach her, she either rushed away, or he was interrupted by a guest who he would brush off politely.
About an hour later he found that he was slowly losing his patience, all he wanted to do was talk to her. Why was she always so distant and unreachable? He scanned the room for her slight frame to no avail. He had been too distracted with his most recent greeter that he had not noticed her slip out of the room, but he knew exactly where she was and he swiftly excused himself and walked towards his bedroom.

He took each step up the stairs slowly, thinking of her. He had done so much and he hated to think about it because it reminded him of all the wrong he had done. She didnt deserve it, not one bit. She was just an innocent girl, so young, so naive. She had so much of the world to see, so much living yet to do, and he had only taken advantage of her inexperience. Laughed at her because of it. He realised now  how wrong he had been. He realised how, somehow, Khushi knew so so little, but yet, so much more than he ever would.

She was there, like he knew she would be.

Her dress was arranged in a circle around her as she crossed her legs next to the poolside, one end of the gold border of the fabric dipping slightly in to the water near her feet. She had her face buried in her hands and he tried to reach out for her but stopped when he heard the sound of her murmuring to herself.

"Be happy, be happy, be happy, be happy" she chanted into her palms "You can do this Khushi Kumari Gupta, nothing is certain, just be happy, be happy, be happy" she continued, suddenly stopping when she felt his presence behind her.

She turned around to meet his eyes and made no effort to move, and he waited for her to acknowledge his presence somehow, but she only stared up at him, prompting him to settle himself down on the cold floor next to her, watching her skin glow through the faint light of the tiny bulbs draped around the trees.

"What is wrong Khushi?" he asked, watching her try to back away from him.

She didn't think she had it in her to do it again. To look into the eyes that kept her heart and lie again, so she looked away, at anything but him "Nothing, nothing is wrong."

Arnav could feel his temper rising, why was she so adamant on hiding things from him? He wanted to share her worry. Here he was, opening his arms out for her, and all she was doing was looking away.
"Khushi.." he started, only to have her abruptly stand up and he followed her motion.

"I said I'm fine" she said harshly, contradicting her words by holding her head which had started to buzz from the rush of blood to her head. She shouldn't have stood up so quickly.

He reached out for her shoulder to have her take a step back avoiding his touch, she didn't want to melt, not right now, not when she was feeling so vulnerable already. She wanted to be that strong Khushi Kumari Gupta that her mother had spoken of.

That was the last straw. He stepped forward and grabbed on to her shoulders roughly.
"Khushi what is wrong, don't look me in the eye and lie to me, you don't look happy, even a fool can tell that, talk to me dammit" he scowled in anger.She stared into his eyes, taking in his soul, not knowing what to say next. She knew she didn't have it in her to lie again, so she remained quiet only to have him roughly shake her again.

"Tell me Khushi" he shouted.
He watched her eyes quiver from shock and saw a glimmer of deep red begin to appear on her skin under her nose again, scaring the wits out of him. She quickly wiped away at the warm blood streaking it across her face and finally speaking up with a voice no more than an accusation.
"Tell you? Why? Tell me why I should? So you can help me?" she said sarcastically"Like all the other times you have done before? Or so that you can show me my place, tell me that I should always keep my status in mind, is that why I should tell you?" she added, staring at him as he eased his grip on her shoulders and slowly let go.
"So that you can drop me from a first story office, or kick me out of your home? Or throw dirt all over me and leave me in the middle of the road, TWICE" she almost screamed "So that you can leave me in a cold room in the dark and so that you can tell me how you don't care? How you don't care whether I exist or not, or whether I get engaged or don't get engaged" she finished, chest heaving from the air she was taking in after her rant. She knew it was wrong of her, she wasn't bitter about all of those things, not at all. They had been long forgotten in the moments of his affection and care. But she was angry at the world for having to make her forget all those moments, frustrated at how helpless she was, and he was there for her to let her vent it all out, and so she did.

He watched her face scramble up in regret of the words she had just spoken and for once in his life he wasn't angry, only worried. Worried at what could have made her so upset in the first place and worried that a trickle of red had begun to reappear under her nose again.

He softly held on to her shoulders, supporting her weight as she continued to breathe heavily and blink foggily. She could make out his eyes, marred by concern for her before the entire image in front of her eyes went hazy and faded out into black.

She couldn't see anything, but she felt the warmth of his body colliding with hers as he held her up with his arms wrapped around her.

"Khushi" he asked softly, feeling the softness of her hair pressed up under his chin and watching as her eyes fluttered open a few seconds after she had fallen against him.

She looked up at him with drowsy eyes and corrected herself, using his shoulders to help herself lean up.
"I'm fine" she whispered.
Arnav felt the rage build up inside of him at her refusal to open up to him as he clenched his jaw and held her wrist to stop her from moving away "You are not fine!"he almost shouted "This is not what I call fine, you are coming with me to the doctor now, and I am staying with you in the room, I don't care what you say, I am NOT having this" turning on his heel only to have her rip her wrist out of his light grip.
"NO! I said No, just let me be" she shouted at him, tears running down her face at how much she just wanted to fall in to his arms, running past him through the doors to his room.

He waited for a few seconds, shocked at her reaction then followed her footsteps back down the corridor and stairs into the hall where everyone was swaying along with the music. He searched the room for her, scanning high and low and every face to find her missing again. Maybe he had missed her? He went through his house, cursing himself for wanting to buy such a big place and walked down the corridors calling out for her. He couldn't find her anywhere, every room, every hallway, every open space, found her missing.

She heard him call out her name and sniffled in a sob, crying into her scarf. She had headed out to the hall only to turn around knowing that he would follow her there, and she couldn't face him so she had run to the store room and sat on the cold floor, hearing his footsteps outside as he called her name.
It was dark in the room, but she was more scared for the man outside than the lack of light. It had scared her for so long, ever since her parents had left her. But today, she realised there were things that were so much more fearful than a bit of darkness. Like losing the one you love.
She cried harder every time he called out for her, feeling her heart tear into a thousand little pieces with his voice.
Why was it that when everything was perfect, she always found an excuse to get in the way. And now, when it was all falling apart, like a puzzle with a thousand missing pieces, she realised she would give anything in the world to go back to before, back to those little imperfections that had made the world feel so safe. It was all gone, ripped out from under her.
She wanted him, and she knew she could never have him, but at the same time, she felt another feeling clawing away at her insides, the feeling of wanting to share her life with him, and she didn't know which side would win.


Part 4 - All Good Things
She cursed silently in a whisper at not being able to find a mirror in the storeroom. The tear streaks across her face felt sticky as they merged with her makeup, leaving a trail of shimmer behind that she knew would be visible. She didn't want to have to explain anything to anyone. She had kept it a secret, and she wanted it to stay that way. There was no need to worry everyone, so the doctor had said that it was pretty much a sure case, but the results of her scans and tests were not back yet, nothing was definitive. She roughly wiped away at where she thought her tears were and sniffed a few times before boldly stepping out of the door. Arnav had stopped calling out for her and she had waited until the sound of him pacing the corridors had died out and then, she had waited some more, until she was absolutely sure he would have gone back.
She tried to avoid his angry glare as he stared right at her when she walked back in to the dim lighted hallway. She gathered her dress tightly in her clutched fists and rushed towards her family standing by the door in an attempt to avoid him. He stood, jaw clenched, wanting to hold her close and find out what was wrong so that he could fix it, but she didn't give him the opportunity. They waited by the door, the cold December breeze making its way through the open door behind them, as Payal and Aakash finally strode in, smiling at eachother shyly.The families said their goodbyes and Khushi watched as everyone left, rooted to the spot after having made the mistake of looking into Arnavs eyes. He held her frozen with his intense gaze that was pleading with her to let him in.

"Chote, make sure you close the door, its freezing outside" Anjali called as she walked away, unheard by the two heated bodies they had left behind.
Khushi snapped her eyes away from him, fuming at having given in and tried to take a step back only to find herself being held in place by her shoulders, sending a strike of warmth through her against the cold wind that sent her heart racing.

"Khushi.." he breathed, reaching up to cup her face with his hand, and use his thumb to gently wipe at the few specks of dried blood still clinging to her cheeks.

She stood mesmerised by his eyes filled with worry as he concentrated on removing any disruptions to her usually flawless skin. Feeling herself heat up she swiftly turned around, letting loose a single long strand of wavy hair from her messy bun. He held on to her arm as she reached out for the door.

"Wait" he ordered, slowly wiggling out of his blazer and bending to place it on her shoulders. She resisted lightly at first, but gave into his angry glare, letting him wrap her in his warmth. She could smell his perfume, sending her mind into a haze.


"It's cold outside"  he muttered, not managing to get any more out before she ran out through the door, shutting it behind her with a loud bang.

____________________

It had been days since then, Arnav thought back to the moment, counting on his fingers. 9 days, he finished, it had been 9 days and he had not managed to contact her through all of it. He had called everyday to have her not answer his calls. Towards the last few days she had turned her phone off because he couldn't even dial her number any more. He threw his phone in anger against the floor, hearing the loud crack as its screen shattered into pieces, remnants of his anger after having reached a dead tone for what seemed like the thousandth time.
It had been two days after the party when he had called up the doctor that had seen her, and asked about her condition.
The doctor had asked what his relation was to the patient. Family? Relative? Friend?
His hesitation in that one moment had been enough to convince the doctor that he was nothing more than a concerned external spectator, legally, he had no obligation to tell him.

"Mr. Raizada, I know you have done much for this hospital and I am very grateful to you for it, but that does not give me, or you for that matter, the right to breach patient confidentiality. The patient we are speaking of, Khushi that is, has asked to keep her health information private and I am bound by law to abide to that, I am sorry."

A flustered Arnav had tried his best business man techniques to get it out of him and had ended up resorting to sheer desperation when the doctor refused outright.
"Please, doctor, listen, can you at least tell me if there is something wrong or if she is okay"
"I am sorry Mr. Raizada, like I have mentioned before, multiple times" he emphasised, making his irritation clear "I cannot share a patient's health records with you, now, I have patients waiting to see me, if there isn't anything else?"

"No, No nothing else" he sighed, listening as the tone dropped.

On the fourth, fifth and seventh days he had driven up to her house and waited outside with bated breath for her to step out so her could see her, he knew that would be motivation enough for him to go and speak to her, but he had not been able to, for fear of lack of words. She would ask him why he cared. She would ask him to give her a reason to tell him like she had done before and the thought of that scared him because he knew how much he was at fault. But to acknowledge his wrong, and even worse, to acknowledge that she knew of all his wrong, was so difficult for him to take. He wanted to be perfect for her, not this broken and scarred man. Not someone that could steal her blissful happiness in less than a moment.
And he wanted nothing but happiness for her.

He furiously walked down the stairs, hearing as his sister ordered Om Prakash to go check on Khushi at the Gupta residence. Arnav almost tripped as he flew down the stairs down to his sisters side "Why? What happened" he panted, causing a confused Om Prakash and Anjali to orientate themselves towards him.

"Chote? You are up?" she asked.

Arnav brushed off her comment "What happened?" he pressed on "to Khushi?"

Anjali was slightly confused by his concern but told him anyway "I asked her to come over yesterday to help out with some things for the wedding and she didn't turn up, so I was just sending Om Prakash over to see if everything is okay, she sounded a bit bothered over the phone so I was going to send over this box of Jaleb.." she said, interrupted by Arnav who had already shot halfway down the corridor.

"It's okay Di, Ill go, I was uh.. going that way anyway" he rushed, heading out of the door.

"What? Where?" Anjali asked confused, watching as Arnav left "Oh wait, at least take the sweets" she called out to an empty corridor, finally slapping her forehead in frustration and walking away.

He drove like a maniac, not paying attention to the car as his mind switched onto autopilot and he pulled up outside her house earlier than he had imagined. Looking into the window to her room he contemplated what he was going to do. Taking decisions quickly had not been working out for him lately. He sat in his car for a while, watching her room until he saw the unmistakable flash of her shadown run across the wall next to the window. The image had an unexpected effect on him, setting fear in his heart. He realised he couldn't do it. He was too afraid of what she would think, because he cared now. It wasn't like with everyone else. He cared what she thought of him and as he thought back to the poolside 9 days ago he remembered her listing all the wrong he had done and hit the accelerator. He stared straight ahead as he drove away, not being able to look elsewhere.
When he got home he ran up to his room, ripping off the sweater he was wearing he threw it on the bed. Pacing, furiously, he realised he could not take it anymore. He couldn't take his own cowardice, he couldn't take the separation from her, not knowing if she was okay. He picked the glass on his bedside table up and threw it against the wall, watching as it shattered against the green paint, followed by a photo frame and his laptop that had been innocently lying on his bed. It wasn't enough, he was fuming from all the frustration as he walked up to the sliding doors that led into the poolside, ripping the curtains out of their holds as he exited, finally kicking at  any pot he saw and ripping at any leaf and stem in sight, until his garden lay in pieces.
He regretted it once he was done, like he regretted everything else he normally did out of anger, slowly resorting to picking up the broken pieces of clay. At least fixing up his garden was easier than fixing Khushi.
_____________________

She breathed in deeply, taking in the intoxicating smell of his perfume. The smell that she had familiarised with every moment ever spent close to him and near him, in his arms, where she felt she belonged. She closed her eyes and breathed in again, letting herself get lost in it, letting her mind take her back to all those moments.
She felt the moisture on the fabric before she realised she was crying, gently sobbing into the soft material she lifted her skin off it and picked up the phone that she had dropped on the floor after having spoken to the doctor.
She went through her contacts and heaved in a large breath of air as his number appeared under Laad Governer, she smiled at herself, letting the tears run down her face as she thought of all her silly moments. At least she had spent so much time with him, laughing and crying, even if she couldn't have him, she still had those moments. She would have to make them enough.

Hearing his voice when he picked up made her realise that no amount would ever be enough with him.

He had picked up the phone in a rush, holding the broken screen against his ear he tried to call out to the person on the line, running his hand through his hair at the state he had made of his room and the poolside.

He could recognise her silence placed within the silence of millions.

 "Khushi?" he called out.
She nervously cleared her throat and held back her tears at the sound of his voice.
"I..need to talk to you" she said, trying her hardest to keep her voice in check.

Arnav dropped the few pieces of clay he was still holding and grabbed a pull on sweater as he started to walk out of the door, greeted by his grandmother inquiring about the entire ruckus. He ignored her, only nodding to let her know that he was doing something important.


"What is it Khushi?" he eagerly asked, glad to have heard her voice after so long, it was like he could breathe again.


She turned around in her room, watching her sister walk past her their room. For some reason she wanted to tell only him. She told herself it was because she couldn't do it alone, because she needed someone to know, someone to share it with, because she was too scared. But she also knew deep inside that anyone could have done that for her. It was a different reason why she was telling him, and she didn't want to think of it like that, because it made her feel selfish and greedy. She wanted him to know because she wanted him to help her, she wanted him to be there for her, and most of all, she wanted him to be there with her to make all the moments in the world to remember after she couldn't have them anymore.
She wanted him, and she didn't care what would come in between that, she would try her hardest, even if it was only for a little while.

She hesitated for a long moment, hoping that she wouldn't regret what she was about to do "Not here, and not at your house either, I need to talk to you alone, can you come by the woods behind the temple near your house? And please promise not to tell anyone?"

Arnav stopped in his tracks for a moment, feeling the dread creep up inside him again as he heard the sky above them call out in thunder and lightning. A storm was on its way.

"Allright, I'll be there Khushi, but be there as quickly as you can, it looks like it is going to pour down soon."

She nodded against the phone and he smiled knowing how she was responding, he thought the better of telling her that people couldn't hear nods over the phone and climbed into his car as she grabbed her bag and headed out of the door under the grey sky.

Please do listen as you guys read, it really sets the mood x


He watched her shivering form make its way through the sparse trees by the edge of the woods, the temple visible in the distance as she approached him, wearing the same dark red she had the day she had first collapsed. With every step she took she felt the weight on her chest increase. This wasn't right. No matter how much she wanted to, she couldn't dump this all on him. She looked up at him, watching his eyes full of fear and took a swift 180 degree turn before she was even a few metres close to him. She couldn't do this.

He jumped off of the tree he was leaning on and rushed over to her, blocking her path.

"Khushi? Don't walk away, tell me, please tell me what is wrong" he begged, making sure to keep his voice soft. The image of her had sent his heart plummeting. Her already fragile frame had lost more weight which he had thought impossible at first. She still had that gleam in her eyes, the gleam that told him his Khushi lived beneath that skin, but it was partly masked by the sullenness of her skin draped around her bones. She was shivering through the mildly cold weather like they were standing in an ice storm and she flinched as small droplets of water began to hit her paleness, drained of all their usual cheerful colour as the water hit her like it was bruising her soft skin.
 "No No" she shook her head, trying to get away "I should go, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have called you" she breathed into the moist air, starting to cry.
"Khushi, please, please don't cry, please, look even if you don't want to tell me, I want to know okay, just let me know."

"You are going to hate me if I tell you."

"I could never hate you" he replied back seriously, looking at her as she looked down at the floor and tried to wriggle out of his grip around her elbows.
He waited as she gulped in for air, starting to choke on her tears and then finally calm down, never easing his steady supportive grip on her.

"No.."
"Khushi!" he warned, squeezing his hands slightly.

She took in a deep breath, deciding that she was going to do it, and deal with the consequences later "I..when I fell the other day.. the doctor" she struggled as Arnav froze hearing all the words he didn't want to hear "I shouldnt.." she tried, only to find herself held firmly in place by him, she looked up into his eyes and realised she had been wrong to ever lie to him. He cared, so much more than he would ever let on, and she could tell from the way he was looking at her then.

"I lied to you then other day" she said slowly, stopping for air as the sky above them shook from thunder "when I told you everything was okay."
She watched his eyes shake, slowly beginning to fill up with moisture at her pain like they had when he had first apologised to her. She hadn't been looking at him from so close then, she hated seeing him like this.

She waited, watching as rain began to pour on them from the sky above, washing out what would have been his tears. She wished it well for ridding his sign of pain, so at least she didn't have to watch him cry.

She stood resolute. Knowing that whatever happened next didn't matter, because he was here right now, holding on to her and that meant to world to her.

"Cancer" looking up at him again, shaking him to the core "I have cancer" she said slowly, as though trying to convince herself of it too, blinking through the rain seeping through her lashes, watching his expression show that of disbelief. He kept his grip on her strong and took an unbelieving hearty breath "No" he almost laughed "No you are kidding me."

"The doctor called me today, he said the results of the scans and blood tests are back, I have cancer" she said again.
"No" Arnav repeated, watching her as he slowly let go and turned around, running his hands through his hair.

He turned back around to face her, taking in deep breaths.
"So, so what does, th..that m..mean exactly, so you, what I mean is, I d..dont.. what now?" he stuttered, finding it hard to string coherent thoughts together.

"Nothing now" she said, surprised by his question.

"No, I mean, what, I don't understand" he asked her, his mind racing at a million miles per hour, what was going on?

"What do you mean blood tests, why, why did, why did you have blood tests" he managed, running his shaking hands across his wet face and neck, not knowing what to do.

She froze at his question, not wanting to answer it, but finding that it wasn't that scary. Not when he was there with her.

"Leukaemia" she whispered softly, voice strong, unwavering.
"It's leukaemia" she said again, watching sadly as his face almost broke right in front of her.
He looked around, tears running out of his eyes masked completely now by the rain pouring down hardly all around them.

He tried to keep himself composed, knowing that he was breaking down bit by bit inside and it was getting harder and harder to not just fall apart, he wouldn't let the whole reality of the situation dawn on him, he wouldn't be able to bear it.
"So, there are treatments right? I mean, this is okay, this isn't a big deal right" he asked fearfully, looking at her pleading for her to not say what he knew she would.

She shook her head "Treatments, to help with it, not to cure it."

Arnav nodded strongly, all of it pretence for her sake. He couldn't be breaking down, not right now, not when she needed him so much.

"To help with it" he nodded confidently, not daring to ask the question they both knew was hanging between them.

"You want to ask how long right" she smiled up at him, her heart breaking as she watched him slowly fall apart into a million little pieces right before her eyes. She shouldn't have done this, he didn't deserve it.

He shook his head, hiding his intention "No, No I don't want to know" he said, not knowing himself if he was lying or not. He looked up at her, taking the image of her in, suddenly terrified that he wouldn't be able to see her like this forever.

"What options are there?" he asked, trying to distract himself from the thought of her leaving him.
Khushi shook her head again "There is no point, I thought about it, and I decided that I can't do that to my family" she said, looking up at a confused Arnav.
"You know, it's so expensive, and I don't want to put that kind of strain on them, not when it won't do that much anyway and.." she pressed on, interrupted by an infuriated Arnav holding on to her by the shoulders, roughly, yet gently, taking care not to hurt her.
"ARE YOU CRAZY KHUSHI?" he shouted through the hissing rain. How could she even think that way? How could she even consider refusing treatment when he was there for her. Didnt she know that he would do anything for her? Sell his company, throw away all his wealth, all of it, just to know that she would be okay. How could she not even come to him for help. He suddenly felt a strong surge of loathe. He hated himself for making her feel that way, for not making her feel like she was worth it, for making her feel like he didn't care.

He looked into her eyes, watching the droplets of water make their way down her skin, he dropped his hands down to around her waist and bent down to pull her into a close hug, burying his head in her neck and holding on to her like his life depended on it. She could feel him shaking against her, shocked, down to the core by what she had told him.

"Khushi.. I don't know what... you know I would give anyth.."
Khushi shook her head again, interrupting his slow speech as she smiled against his hair.
"I don't want your money, I couldn't do that, I don't want to. I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to feel bad, or pity me, I just wanted you to know, I needed it" she sadly looked down at his closed eyes pressed against the crook in her neck and lifted him up by the shoulders, so he was standing in front of her, broken.

"I ..I can't.." he started, interrupted by Khushi placing her cold hand against him warm and wet cheek.
She smiled through feeling her skin against his, it felt so good. It felt perfect.
"I just wanted you to know" she said, looking up at Arnav  who started shaking his head miserably as he held onto her hand on his cheek in both of his.
"It's okay, It's not such a big deal, people...people die all the time" she tried to laugh, failing as Arnav shook his head more vigorously, lost for words, warming her freezing hand up with his.

"It's really going to be okay, I mean, my parents... and yours? I can meet them, and hey.. it was going to happen one day right" she said smiling, resisting against her voice cracking and breaking down in tears.

She watched him hold her hand close to his cheek, finally kissing it with his wet lips. Holding a piece of her close to him. The image broke her heart. She shouldnt have done this. It wasn't worth seeing him like this, even if he would have found out at some point. The relief of having told him and the pain at his state stood conflicting her emotions in her mind.

"Im sorry" she finally cried, watching him still shake his head and hold her hand against his lips, crying softly into her skin.
She gently pulled her hand away from him, watching as he looked terrified of her moving away.
"I told you, you would hate me if I told you" she said, sending him a single small smile before stepping around him and walking away through the trees, feeling more weighed down than she had felt when walking towards him.

"I could never hate you" he whispered, frozen against the rain, after a long moment.
He looked up and she was gone.


Part 5 - Holding On and Letting Go
Khushi stood holding onto the soft dark material in her hands, feeling the touch of it against her skin. The smell of him still lingered on the fabric, she didn't want to give it back, even though she knew she should. Placing it on her table she looked at her sister sleeping soundly and made her way over to the window, throwing out its panels and feeling the cold morning breeze whip against her skin. It made her feel alive.

The dark clouds in the air had loomed on the whole city so it looked a hazy grey, setting out an array of colours against the rising sun.

It had been a week since she had told him and then that was it. He hadn't called, he hadn't come to see her, he had just gone. The thought of him not caring flashed across her mind. It made her heart sink so deep down inside of her that she felt it would stop beating. The thought of him not being affected by her existence hurt her so much more than she had ever imagined.
She thought back to how he had looked when she had told him and the thought wiped all others from her mind. What was she thinking? He did not look like someone who didn't care. Not one bit.
She closed the window on the sun and turned to look at her phone on the table set in her room. As if it understood how much she wanted it to ring, it went off. Sending a happy buzz of familiar music through her ears she jumped forwards to accept the call before it woke her sister up.

"Hello?" she eagerly asked, disappointed when she heard Anjali's voice reply.

"Khushi?"

"Ji, Anjali ji" she said, feeling dejected.

"Khushi, I know this must feel very strange of me to ask, but I only say this because you seem to be the only person that can say certain things to him and make him listen" she sighed, as Khushi told her she would do whatever Anjali asked of her.

"It's Arnav" she said slowly as Khushi took in a sharp breath "He is acting so strange, its scaring everyone. He hardly eats anything and spends all day locked in his room or out in the garden alone. We don't know what to do, he won't talk to any of us. Last week he completely ruined his room and the poolside, throwing things around and breaking them. I just, don't know what to do, and I know it might be useless, but could you at least come over and try and talk to him about it? Find out what is wrong? We are all really worried"

He cared, she thought. First feeling elated and then as though someone had roughly shot her down to the ground again. She didn't want him to suffer, that wasn't why she told him. So he wasn't talking to her because he was going through it alone. She couldn't imagine what Arnav was feeling, so she agreed to Anjali's favour because if there was one thing she wanted most in the world, it was happiness for Arnav. She wasn't sure whether her presence would bring happiness or the opposite, but she thought it was at least worth a try. She owed him at least that much.

Changing into a deep purple and silver anarkali dress she snuck a look of herself in the mirror before she left. It felt so trivial, caring about the way she looked. She found it amazing how she even still thought about something like that. Her hair, fell in layers around her face, still flowing till her lower back, she decided she wanted to do something different with it and it now fanned around her face and waved perfectly down her back in cascades of shortened hair. Her eyes, outlined by kohl, stood out against her pale skin, their honey colour bringing warmth to her face that her sullenness had stolen.

She stepped out of the rickshaw under the gloomy sky and handed money over to the driver, not bothering to wait for him to give her back the change she walked up to the main gate leading in to the mansion. The guard at the front gate stopped her in her tracks.

"Khushi ji, no one is home."

"What? But Anjali ji called me to come and talk to.."

"Anjali ji, Nani, Mami and Mama have all left, you just missed them. They said they were going shopping for Aakash ji's wedding, you can go and wait inside, but I'm pretty sure the front door is locked."

"What about Arnav?" she asked.

The guard turned around, bending over to look at the pathway leading behind the mansion.
"He might be at the other end of the back garden, you could try there, he has a set of keys."

Khushi whipped around the guard not bothering to tell him that it was Arnav she wanted to speak to and not the house.
_________________

The pain inside his chest made him want to scream out loud, scream at the world and to the God that he didn't think existed. How could they do this to her? To someone so beautiful, to someone so innocent. She deserved all the happiness the world had to offer, not this. Not a life spent living dreading of what was to come. Waiting for it all to end and living each day not knowing whether tomorrow was certain. Not knowing whether she had another day to spend with the ones she loved, to bask in the beauty of the world, to take it all in. To live.

He had spent the last week living as though he was the one dying, because it felt like he was. He didn't want to breathe, he didn't want his heart to keep on beating. He just wanted to hold her close, and keep her with him, no matter what he had to give up. Everytime he thought about the look in her eyes when she had told him, he felt another piece of him die. He had never felt more guilty for all the things he had done to her. Never felt so much regret for all the harsh words spoken. What if those where all the moments he could ever have with her? So much of it was painful, he didn't want that. He looked up at the tree ahead of him, facing the faint mist through the air as the clouds began to lightly sprinkle down on them and he decided that he wouldn't let it be that way. He wouldn't let her go just like that. He wouldn't.

___________________

She saw him, back turned to her, facing the trees ahead of him. He was wearing a dark blue pull on jumper, tugging tightly around his handsome frame. She blushed, looking down at her feet as she made her way through the grass, the wetness of dew spraying slightly against her skin as she moved.

"Arnav?" she tentatively asked, surprise at how calm she sounded.

He froze, still looking straight ahead. He had seen her a lot this week, images of her flashed across his mind every time he shut his eyes, haunting him with every breath he took.

He lifted his hand off the tree he had been holding himself up against and turned to face the cause of the voice that sent a warm and yet terrifying shiver down his back.

Here is the song for this update, on which the story is written, it is quite fitting ^_^ Please do listen :)


He thought he would be able to face her. He thought he had given himself enough time to deal with it. He thought he would be able to make himself understand, make himself accept that she wasn't eternal. He thought he would be able to smile for her sake. He thought he would be able to make it all better.

Khushi standing in front of him made him realise. He had thought wrong.

Feeling a heart wrenching moan escape from within his chest he took the steps towards her in a rush, wrapping his arms around her, making sure she was there, real, safe and alive. Still with him.
Hearing the sky cry out above them reminded him of a week ago and he suddenly realised that he needed to be strong for her, even if it killed him.

Sniffing slightly he lifted his head and looked into her eyes, leaving a shocked Khushi staring up at a man she had never seen before. This was a side of him that he kept hidden from the world, hidden from his loved ones and any one else that could take advantage of it. But here he was, opening all his old wounds for her. She sent him a small smile in response to his nod.

"Anjali ji has been complaining about you" Khushi said slowly "she called me."

Arnav nodded in acknowledgement again, trying to find his voice.

"You ruined your room? And your garden?" she asked, unsure of what to make of the situation.

Arnav let out a throaty laugh "that was before you told me you had ca.." he stopped midway through the word, realising that he hated it so much he couldn't bear to have it on his tongue.

He shook his head, as though removing those memories from his mind and rested his hands atop her shoulders, not making the mistake placing any weight on her because from the looks of it, any sort of strain would have her knees buckling. Somehow, she still managed to look so beautiful, standing out in a deep purple dress, he felt his heart start to beat rapidly.

"I wanted to see you, and it had been days, you never answered my calls" he accused, watching as she flushed red.

"I drove to your house to see you, and then, I turned back around, came home, and let out my anger on my room and my garden"

Khushi sighed and couldn't help but smile "Was that the anger you were going to take out on me?"

Arnav watched her every movement, trying his hardest to keep the pain from showing. Lifting his hand he brushed lightly at a strand of her shortened hair framing her face.
"It's different" he murmured, tucking her hair behind her ear.

"I know, I wanted a change so..." she said, waving her hand about.

"Are you okay?" she asked finally, having watched him stand still as stone.

He shook his head lightly, unable to bear that she was there, watching out for him.

Khushi saw the defeat in his eyes when she had asked that question, but she realised that he was one of the strongest people she knew. He would be okay, no matter what happened. He had to be, because she wouldn't be able to take it if he wouldn't.

"You will be" she said reassuringly, picking her hand up slowly and poking lightly at his cheek teasingly. He felt a knot constrict his throat at the gesture. She turned and his heart skipped a beat as she took a step away from him so he held out for her hand, gripping her lightly by the wrist and pulling her strongly back towards him. She went flying towards him, colliding strongly against his chest as he held her firmly in place with a hand around the small of her back. 

"You are not going that easily" he breathed "I spoke to your doctor" Arnav watched as Khushi looked on, confused.
"He told me about your condition and about all the risks and treatments"

Khushi's mouth gaped open, surprised at what he was saying and her cheeks flushed a deep red from the feel of his hand against her back, holding her close.

"Khushi, you don't have to let it be, the treatments available are good, there is hope, you can't give up" he said, a sad but hopeful smile creeping its way up to his lips, to show her it wasn't all lost.

She looked down sadly and shook her head as a few beads of moisture from above hit her skin.
"I... I told you already, you shouldn't have gone through all the trouble, it's just, way too expensive, and it's not like it'll fix me and I don't want to..." she began, starting to struggle against his hold but he only pulled her closer, almost letting his anger get the better of him again.

"Khushi Kumari Gupta, don't you dare even think that for a second, don't you dare. I don't care what you have to say, you are getting treatment, you are going to fight this, for as long as you can, and I..." he stopped, taking in a deep breath as she lifted her eyes to his, snatching his heart away for a moment "I... I am going to be there... all the way Khushi, and I don't care what you have to say, this is not your decision"

Khushi stubbornly shook her head as it started to rain lightly on her and Arnav, it seemed the whole world had stopped for them.
"I can't take, I won't take your money, I don't want that from you, I couldn't do it, even if I wanted to" she insisted, looking into his sad eyes.

"Dammit Khushi, don't you understand?" he asked, as droplets of rain ran onto her eyelashes and she blinked, ridding them of her eyes.

"I don't want all of this, all of this money, if that means you won't be here."

Khushi stopped breathing, her chest had given away, her lungs died out. She thought her mind was playing some horrible trick on her as she watched the man that she had all those feelings for throw his heart her way. She didn't know what to do with herself. She couldn't do that to him could she? Be with him, only to leave.

"I... don't know what to sa..." she stuttered.

"Then don't say anything, Khushi" he smiled at the burden he felt lifted off his chest "I love you Khushi, and I want to help, I am going to, whether you like it or not, and I don't care how long we have, I want you now, and for however long you will stay with me" he wrapped his second arm around her back and leaned in closer to her "I don't even know why I was stupid enough to not tell you this earlier, but I've loved you for longer than I even know and just, stay with me, I need you to stay with me and fight this thing. I won't let you give up. Not even for a second."

He leant in gently, pondering for a moment and pressed his lips against the corner of hers, kissing the soft skin of her cheek, only lightly brushing her coldness. He never thought touching someone could feel like that.

Her heart swelled with an emotion she had never felt before, and she took in a deep breath after having held hers for so long, feeding her heart with oxygen. All her worries were gone, all her fears, so insignificant.

"You mean it?" she asked, hoping with all her heart that this wasn't some unkind game of his, she couldn't believe her ears. His beaming nod sent her flying around his neck. She laughed against him, forgetting everything.

Pulling away she watched him as he laughed out loudly against the dripping of rain, he was laughing so wonderfully, it made her swell with joy. It was a rare day when Arnav Singh Raizada really laughed like that. It was beautiful, she thought, how nothing else even seemed to matter. They were together, and that was enough to battle anything.

She flicked the wet hair on his forehead away, tracing her fingers around his face before stopping at his ear "How did you find out? I mean, how did you get the hospital to tell you?" she asked curiously.

Arnav held onto her waist and lifted her up, beginning to walk towards the house through the rain before he answered, smiling as he did.

"I told the doctor I would kill him if he didn't tell me... I said I would send assassins over"

Khushi laughed against his chest, burying her head into his neck as he effortlessly walked back through the gardens and into the back door of the house, gently placing her down in the kitchen.

He watched her for a sad moment, realising how much her weightlessness scared him, finally deciding that it didn't matter that she was ill. It didn't affect the way he felt about her, not even for a second, and he shouldn't let her feel any different.

He pulled her back by the shoulder, interrupting her as she began to drain the wetness of her clothes.

He ran his fingers through her soft hair, pushing it all over to one side.

"What do you want to do?" he asked "We'll do whatever you want to" he said, as Khushi smiled slowly at him, ridding herself of any sadness she felt at thinking that this all would end too soon, whenever it would be, she knew it would be too soon.

She looked up at him for a long moment "I want to make a list" she said, holding on to Arnavs hand, who entwined his fingers with hers "I mean, that's what they do in the movies right?" she cheekily said, giggling, but he didn't miss the sadness in her voice, he bit back at the clump in his throat.

He pulled her closer by the hand, feeling her damp clothes against his "Then I want to help. What's number 1 on this list of yours Khushi Kumari Gupta?"

She grinned at him, realising that she would never be able to show him just how much she loved him, because no amount of words would ever be enough. Thinking for a moment, she let her breathing slow down, pressed up against his chest, she looked down shyly.

"Falling in love" she said "but I think I can check that one off already."

Arnav laughed as he kissed her on the cheek, placing his lips against her wet skin three times along her jaw, from her ear to the corner of her mouth, hovering over her lips.

He could feel her trembling lips lightly against his "And number 2?"

Khushi thought for a second, thinking about the things she wanted the most, finally speaking up against his lips "To get married" she whispered, looking away embarrassed at speaking her mind.

She felt his smiling lips against hers "You can check that one off too" he said, before crushing his lips to hers, hearing her gasp in a rapid breath before holding on to him. He pulled her closer, feeling himself lose his mind at the sensation of her against him. His hand against her back pushed her closer in towards him, feeling her.

She pulled away quicker than he had hoped, still in shock.
"What? You really mean it?" she gasped, losing control at the throbbing in her lips where he had touched her.

He nodded slowly and rested his forehead against hers, realising that he probably could not stop himself if he kissed her again, ignoring the dangerously bright colour she had turned.

"And what's number 3?" he asked, trying to distract them both from the air around them that had suddenly grown very hot.

She was panting heavily and caught a glimpse of the rain running along the window through to the garden. She watched Arnav rest against her, with his eyes closed and she thought of her mother. She suddenly felt so strange, like life was never what she had expected it to be. Like she had never, in a million years thought that she would be where she was. She thought back to her 8 year old self, her mother drying her damp hair carefully. She tried to breathe and ignore the feeling of sadness, pushing it away. She had Arnav. That would bring her a lifetime of happiness.

"I want to play in the rain, for so long that I get a cold."


Arnavs eyelids opened, watching her tear filled eyes and he swiftly held on to her hand and pulled her behind him.


"What are you doing?" she asked, surprised by the sudden movement.

"You love me?" he asked, not sure if this all was real and watching her nod twice.

"You trust me then?" She took a little longer to nod, which made him smile, pulling her in front of himself, he walked her back out in to the rain in the large garden under the hazel sky and then ran with her, holding her hand and watching as she first watched him in admiration and slowly let go. Turning through the rain she let herself feel every droplet, smiling as she thought of her mother, laughing as she thought of Arnav.
She loved him with all her heart, and he was there with her.  Holding on to him she pulled him along with her, dancing and twirling under his arm as the rain washed away every single sadness that she had ever felt, all her pain, all her worries, all her fear, vanished. She didn't care about the cold, or the wetness, all that mattered was him.

He watched her turn beneath his arm, the sound of her laughter ringing through the rain and out towards the sky, the image of her smile so close.
He held on to her. He held on to her happiness in those few seconds. Those few moments seemed enough for an eternity, and somehow, not sufficient for even a single second. 
He was going to hold on to the way he was feeling in that instance even though he knew there would come a time when he would have to let go. Let go of her and all the happiness and pain that came with her. But he would keep it all buried, deep in his heart and never let it fade, no matter how much of his heart she stole, he would always remember, because the memories of what only seemed like fleeting moments, were all he was going to have left one day...


I kind of left it open ended, as you see, with a bit of a heavy heart, but I wanted it to be realistic! People can live years and years with leukaemia, and I leave it to you to decide how long she lives with it, personally, I like to think Arnav gives her the best treatment to keep her doing well for years, and they live happily for all the time they have. You can make what you want of it. I just felt conflicted between what would be realistic and what I could bear to do with ArHi because I love them so... and I really apologise to anyone that was disappointed!
Anyway, thank you all you lovely readers, the journey for this SS has been great. Take it as a welcome gift for 2012 from me. I hope you all have a brilliant year. Love Hayley




15 comments:

  1. Read all the parts. sad but loved it.

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    1. I know, it felt awfully sad to write as well, I am glad you liked it though :)

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  2. Loved it Hayley !
    read it the 2nd time.
    This SS has been of the most beautiful piece of writing i've read so far.
    I wish this never has ended :'), yet do write more !
    Eagerly waiting ... tehe.

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    1. Thank you Hilly ! I am really pleased that you liked it enough to read twice ! Lol, I am really happy it ended, because I wouldn't have been able to write about their separation !

      Thanks for the comment, I will come up with more stuff soon :)

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  3. That was sad but beautiful short story...glad u left it open ended! Don't want a read sad endings, enough in real life!

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    1. I know, I am glad I left it open ended too, I would have had way too much of a heavy heart leaving it with a sad closed end, I love Arnav and Khushi too much for that... but if I ever feel angry enough at the show I might just go evil and write an evil story, mwahahahaa

      urm, getting carried away there, thanks for your comment :) x

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  4. That was so beautiful, my heart feels so constricted now with all the emotion, such a beautifully poignant tale

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    1. Thank you my dear, reading this story again overwhelms me with emotions sometimes too, glad I could make you feel the same :)

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  5. This was so nicely written! I really am speechless.
    You are a brilliant writer!

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  6. Wow Haley......
    I can't put into the words how beautifully u write....
    This ss is so heart wrenching and there are some ss/ff which really touched my heart this Holding and Letting Go is one of them........
    I am still in to the story and can't come out I mean It was just awesome and felt like reality....
    You are just mind-blowing writer....
    God Bless You...and Love U..Keep writing
    Sari.love (IF)

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  7. i cried...!! can't say more than this..

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  8. I have no words to describe how i feel after reading ur story... having lost loved ones i know the pain one goes through...
    u portrayed their feelings so well.... simply loved ur story....!

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  9. so beautiful ... I just have no words right now to explain how I am feeling

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