Tuesday, 7 February 2012

| FanFic - Tearing Ourselves Apart | Parts 1 - 15


Banner by 18shabbo


Hello Everyone ! this is Ccuteaangel, or for those of you who know me from India Forums - Hayley. This is the first ever Fanfic I have ever written !
This post contains parts 1 to 15, here is the link to Parts 16-29
Intro : This story, is based slightly ahead of the show. Shyam's truth has already been revealed to Arnav and Khushi, and Arnav decided to marry Khushi to keep the news away from his sister. Shyam now works distant from home and hardly ever returns because of them. Khushi and Arnavs relationship is very strained as Arnav thinks Khushi tried to ruin his sisters life. Please do note that it has not been very long since the wedding, all shall be explained, I hope you do enjoy it !
Leave by likes and comments to let me know what you think :)


Part 1

Khushi woke up that morning with butterflies in her stomach. Seven, she counted, it had been seven days since she had gotten married. She pried open her eyelids and just stared at the ceiling for a while. She shuffled in her sheets slightly and she hit a line of pillows to her left. She sighed, how did she ever end up like this? Married, to a man that despised her, hated her guts, hated her existence. She rose out of bed and walked up to her dressing table where she watched herself in the mirror.

Arnav was in the bathroom and he heard movement in the room so he knew she was awake. He groaned lowly, he didn't want to have to face her. He knew somewhere deep inside that the Khushi he knew would never do that to his Di, but whether she had been involved or not, she was a part of everything that could have torn apart his sisters life, and he was reminded of that everytime he saw her. So he did what he found easiest, resorted to rudeness and ignorance. Decided to treat her as badly as he could muster, to keep the feelings he had for her at bay. He had been rushed into this marriage. He wasn't ready, and now, he wasn't sure he would ever be. He walked out to find a hesitant Khushi stroking the skin at her cheeks.
She was beautiful, the fact that it was 8 in the morning and she had just woken up from a sleepless night did not phase her beauty in any way.
"Arnavji, Good morning" she piped.
He walked straight past her into the corridor, not missing the look of hurt in her eyes as he did so.
"Hmph!, so what? He may hate me, but that does not mean I abandon my wifely duties, he may not love me, or care for me, but everyone else thinks this is a real relationship, so I guess thats my cue too" she rambled as she jumped up and headed into the bathroom to freshen up.

Twenty minutes later and Khushi was walking up the stairs by the poolside with a fresh tray of breakfast
"Arnavji! Arnavji!" she called. "Where is he?"
She roamed around the house for a while, searching every room, even ones that she knew he was not in. She ended up walking into the storeroom and placing the tray of cold French toast and waffles on a shelf. She heaved a heavy box to the edge of the room and sat on it.
"He left, already" she put her head in her hands "Urgh! What do I do with this breakfast? Arnav sure isn't making it easy to fake this relationship!"
Deciding to leave the tray to collect later when no one was around she left, dragging her feet as a sign of her disappointment. She wasn't only trying to make this relationship work for everyone to see. This was her marriage, hadn't her mother always taught her about this sacred bond? She wanted it to be real, there was no going back for her, no going back for them.

It was seven o clock later that day and Khushi was sitting on the edge of her bed staring out into space, lost in thought when she heard the door creak open behind her. She turned to find her husband loosening his tie and looking in no mood for a conversation. But when did he ever, she may as well try to fix this, this relationship that they had. She wasn't even sure she could call it that.
"You missed breakfast this morning"
He looked up, surprised that she had spoken up. They didn't talk much, he stayed late at work, she usually woke up after he did, even though he knew she tried to beat him to it.
"I do not care for breakfast"
"Yes, you may not, but your stomach sure feels differently" she joked, bubbly was one thing she definitely was, and it normally let her get away with more than others "And the French toast and waffles and glass of orange juice felt very lonely packed up on a tray in the storeroom for half a day, you know how much they enjoy the company of Mr Arnav Singh Raizada's stomach, anyway, it cant be goo.."
"Are you done?" he interrupted.
"Well, not really, if you hadn't noticed I was still.."
"I meant are you done saying things that I really do not care about, you can stop this act Khushi" he continued, voice rising in volume and strain with every word he spoke.
"What do you mean?"
"You know what I mean, you may be my wife by paper, but no way are you related to me in this world, so stop this nonsense" He could tell he had hurt her with those words as her eyes filled up with tears. He wanted to take it back, but he was afraid of where that would lead them.
She had almost backed down, let it go. But she thought of the old Khushi Kumari Gupta, and she knew that she had to fight back.
"It may not be for you, but this is a marriage for me" she wimpered as her voice shook from vulnerability "this is my marriage, I did this for you, I did this for Anjali ji"
"Don't you dare bring her into this" he shouted
"Why not!?" she yelled back, refusing to back down "how can I not?" she paused slightly as he ripped off his tie and closed the gap between them in three long strides. She was not one to be intimidated however "you know it Arnav, and I know it, we did this for her, and you married me! You said you would make it all ok! I thought you meant that for me too! What about my life? What about my dreams? Are you going to refuse to act civil with your own wif.."
He grabbed her by the arm and held on tightly, "Do not call yourself my wife"he spoke with a low voice, which made it ever the more frightening "You are nothing to me, understood that, nothing. Do not speak of my sister, do not speak of your life, because you gave that away the second you decided to involve yourself in anything to do with that man that calls himself my sisters husband, I did not promise you happiness, do you not get that" he said, shaking her roughly as the tears in her eyes brimmed over the top and ran down her face " I promised to make it all okay" he paused "for my Di, you were foolish to think it had anything to do with you, you were just in the way, an obstacle to her happiness so stop thinking I have any feelings for you, you are nothing, nothing to the world, nothing to me"
Khushi was shaking uncontrollably in his grip now. His hand around her arm was sending shooting pain from her elbow to her shoulder but she didn't want him to let go. It hurt horribly, but she wasn't sure if she could keep herself standing if he let her go.
That was the end of her courage for the day, he had told her how he really felt, she had had doubts in her mind, maybe he did care for her, maybe she could make this work. But all of that had been taken away by the selfish man standing before her. She felt cold and distant, and she was still shaking from head to toe.
He could see the pain in her eyes. What had he done? He was hurt, he was angry, he didn't know how to deal with Shyam without seeing his sister get hurt and he needed to release that pain, and Khushi was the only one he could take it out on. He suddenly realised how tightly he was holding her, it reminded him of the day, not so long ago, when he had held her arms in a guesthouse that was falling to ground. Ironic how that was now how he would describe their relationship; falling.
He suddenly let go of her arm and simultaneously stepped back to get away from the pain he could feel emanating from her,as soon as he had however he retracted his movement and jumped forwards as he watched her crumple to the ground, too late to catch her, his heart breaking along with a new set of her tears. 
She sat on her knees which were too weak to hold her up. Sprawled on the ground, she felt weak and pathetic. She wanted to stand up to him, like she had in the past, but he could say the most hurtful things, and she could see no way out. She was trapped, as was he, in this web of doubt and misunderstanding, and they were both too weak to get through it, for now.





Part 2
She sat on the floor next to the bed where she had been standing so confidently less than a few minutes ago, shaking with fear and shock, choking in large gulps of air. Why did she feel like she was suffocating, she tried to calm her nerves, told herself to breathe, slowly, steadily. It did no good. Her hitched sobs were getting in the way of breathing and breathing required control, that was something she had very little of.
He watched her struggle to breathe, and he realised that he could not stand there and watch her like this. It was messing with his head. It was breaking his heart. He turned with the thought of getting her a glass of water and gave himself a mental punch for being the cause of her pain.
As he walked back he could feel a clot restricting his throat, it was clawing at him, threatening to break his cool and calm demeanour. He rushed back to find the bathroom door to the right shut closed and an empty room.
He deserved this guilt. He had ruined her life and he was going to have to live with that.

The next morning he changed his shirt while watching her sleep, her face still blotchy and swollen from all the hours of crying last night, and still beautiful. He had fallen asleep late yesterday, alone in his bed next to the barrier that separated them, to the sound of her sobs in the bathroom. He would make things better eventually he thought, he had married her after all. But he needed her to think that he did not care for her before he started behaving normally. He needed her to hate him, as much as he needed to hate her. He did not notice when she had crept back into bed, but it must have been much later than him, by the looks of how deeply she slept now.
He looked over at her once more before he left, this was a girl he could see himself falling in love with, and that is what made it all the worse.




Part 3
The following evening found Khushi and Anjali sitting in the kitchen playing around with flowers and cards. Nani had just gone upstairs and Anjali sat in an elaborate gold and white sarhi that hugged her figure very well. She looked like the angel that she was.
"Do you know what time he is coming?" Anjali asked Khushi. She had worried about how quiet she had been that day.
"No, he forgot to tell me this morning" she replied back, with no hint of emotion.
"Oh well, I'm sure he will be here soon, you know, he likes to be involved with arranging things for tomorrow, even though he tells people he doesn't care for birthdays, Chote has always been his Di's little boy, he likes to go all out, you know, this one year, before I was married to Shyam ji.."Anjali continued her stories of how much her little brother did for her, birthday or no birthday, not noticing her sister in law cringe at the use of her husband's name.

The thought of him, sending her back to three weeks ago.

Arnav, Khushi and Shyam stood outside the venue in the garden of one of La's extravagant parties, unmoving, unblinking. Despite the hundreds of little bulbs that surrounded them, darkness loomed between them . Arnav could not believe his own ears when Khushi had come running into him the day before with outrageous stories about his brother in law planning to marry her of which she had also recently been enlightened. He had been cheating his sister, his wonderful sister, the sister that meant to world to him. He had shouted at Khushi, because she had been the only thing next to him that day and he had really needed to vent his anger. But now Shyam was here, and Khushi was too. He walked over from where he stood near Khushi to face Shyam, and without thinking twice, landed a punch right at the centre of his face.
"You filthy, son of a.."
 Shyam had looked up, clutching his face, at the man speaking to him, Khushi stepped back with fear, and he did it again. And again. And again. Punch after punch, hitting Shyam square in the jaw countless times. He had never felt that way before, a ripple of rage was piercing through him and it blinded him.
Khushi ran up to him, crying, both from fear and pain.
"Stop!, Arnav! Stop, please, thats enough!" she watched for a few seconds longer as he didn't respond and continued throwing punches.
She finally lunged herself at his arm and tugged as hard as she could "Leave him alone, arnav. ARNAV!" her voice finally making him turn.
He noticed then that he was holding a bloody Shyam by the collar, who by the looks of it, hadn't even gotten past the shock of what was happening. Of course, he didn't know that Arnav and Khushi had learnt his secret. He didn't know that they knew he was crazy for her, and would go to any lengths to get her.
"He isn't worth it" she spat at him. The venom in her words clear from her tone.
Shyam finally registered a look of recognition. So they knew.
"You!" Arnav shook the bleeding man he was holding upright "If it wasn't for my sister, I would kill you right now, remember that" he made no attempt to lower his voice"You are a lucky bas***d considering you haven't gotten married to anyone yet"
"Not anyone - Khushi" he chimed. Regretting saying it as soon as he had. The last thing he needed for them to know was that he was in love with her, and her specifically. He did not want anyone else, he did not want to cheat Anjali for the heck of it,  he wanted HER.
"WHAT?" Arnav shouted, more than furious that he had dared to speak "What the hell are you saying?"
"I didn't cheat on Rani Sahiba, I didn't mean to, but this girl"he looked over at Khushi whose eyes had flown wide open from disbelief, this was not happening, he could not turn this on her.
Before she knew what she was doing, she stepped forward and backhanded him across the face.
"Don't you dare put this on me" she shook as she spoke, from anger now.
Her hands flew up to cover her mouth a few seconds later as she realised what she had just done. Rage really does blind you she thought, and she was angry enough to regret having stopped Arnav beating the life out of this pathetic man.
"she tricked me, she tried to win me over, its the money she wants, these kind of girls will do anyth" he continued.
Arnav had heard enough, he wanted to kill this man, but could not even imagine what would happen to his sister if she ever found out.
"Shut your mouth" he managed, as Shyam complied and stopped speaking immediately "I am doing this for my sister, because for some crazy reason you make her happy, now you listen to me, this is not a second chance. You have lost that right. If I ever see you so much as speak to another woman other than my sister, I swear to you, I will FINISH you" he let go of Shyams collar at the last words and shoved him to the ground. It was taking all of his strength to not choke him to death. He hoped and prayed to the God he didn't believe in, that he wouldn't regret not having done so.

Khushi was worried that celebrating his sisters birthday would remind him of all the pain she had caused their family. So she excused herself from the kitchen, where they had been making sweets and decorations for the next day to take a quick shower and clean away the guilt she felt. She realised as she soaped her hair that she shouldnt feel that way. She had done nothing wrong, nothing wrong what so ever. Shyam was scum. She had been collateral damage, not the main target. He would have gone for any girl she consoled herself, she just happened to be the one he had set his eyes on. 
Arnav arrived not long after, but he hung around the lounge because he knew Khushi would be in their room and he really didn't have the guts to face her after last nights fight. He wasn't one for saying sorry. It hadn't come to him easily about a month ago when he had apologised to Khushi for the first time ever, and he sure as hell knew it would not come easy to him now.

He was so absorbed in thought of her that he did not notice her walk past the lounge towards the kitchen.
"Oi pati sarhi" Mami exclaimed, watching Khushi walk in with her wet hair flying all over the place.
Khushi was surprised to see her there as she thought Anjali would have still been in the kitchen.
"Your husband came home. Where have you been?"
"I..I was just, showe.. I mean, Im sorry, I didn't realise, whats wrong anyway"
"Nothing is wrong, I just had to stay behind and make your husband a cup of chai seeing as Jai Prakas is off from work till tomorrow evening"
Khushi stood, surprised that her Mami, who had never lifted a finger would go to such lengths. Apparently the shock came across her face
"hey, hello hi bye bye, do not look so shocked, I wouldn't raise a single precious finger but what can I do, Anjali and Nani just left to attend the ceremony over at the Delhi hall, and Mama and me are also leaving, bye bye" she finished, walking over to the door where her husband had just appeared.
"Hmmm, Do not know what is wrong with these youths, Nani knows these people so well yet Chote is refusing to go, gives a bad impression you know" she unnecessarily added, not missing the opportunity to talk about someone.

Khushi gave her Mami a small smile which disappeared as soon as she heard the door slam behind them and the car engine start. She walked over to the tray of tea and picked it up, starting towards the lounge where he sat.
On her way over, the door bell rang and she would have gone over had she not have had both hands occupied. She placed the tray on the table behind Arnav who was still lost in thought and had not even noticed her yet. She sighed as she walked back to get an extra teacup and  a plate full of jalebi's. She smiled at the thought of a piece of the old Khushi coming back to her and she reminded herself that she was still little old Khushi, no one could change that.
The doorbell rang again. She had filled up her tea from the kitchen and was just starting to climb up the stairs to avoid having to sit next to him in the lounge.
"Are you going to get that? Or just leave whoever is out there to stand there for eternity" she said, loud enough to snap Arnav out of his trance.
He looked over his shoulder to where she was standing, wet hair leaving a trail of droplets behind her as she walked, then at the tray of tea beside him. How had he not noticed that?
Khushi sighed as the doorbell rang again and Arnav watched the tea by his side instead of moving.
She walked the length of the corridor and he kept his eyes on her as she did.
"Yes yes, just a second" she said as she opened the door.

The teacup, tea, plate and jalebi's she had been holding all came crashing down to the ground as Khushi's hands lost focus. No, this could not be happening ...



Part 4

Khushi stood transfixed, for only a second too long. The man standing before her was probably the last person on earth she would ever want to see. She blinked, and a cold shiver ran down her spine as she watched his lips curve into a slight smile.
"Sh..Shyamm...ji" she stuttered, unable to look at him in the eye. Her eyes were stinging, as was her right hand, but she was too preoccupied to notice. Unable to stand in front of him for much longer Khushi dropped to the ground to pick up the mess she had left from her shock.
She rummaged around in the sticky hot mess of Jalebis and tea, grabbing at any piece of ceramic she could find as she mumbled something incoherent under her breath. She did not know how to react, or what to do with herself.

Shyam watched Khushi with a glint in his eye. He was still obsessed with her and it mattered not to him that her look upon seeing him was one of very unhappy shock. He could not help himself from smiling. He watched her fumble on the ground, the pieces of broken teacups cutting away at her hands leaving little droplets of blood in their wake which mixed in with the spilled tea forming dreamy swirls. He wanted to hold those hands, he wanted to hold her.
He bent down to stop her as she seemed unaware of the harm she was causing herself when he found an arm blocking his way.

Arnav had bolted from his seat when he had heard the sound of breaking glass. His temper had flared when he saw Shyam watching Khushi, a menacing smile plastered across his face as she was looking down at the mess she had made. How dare he smile at her? He was angry at what Shyam did to his sister, but more than anything right now, he felt a strong urge to protect Khushi. Covering the corridor in less than a second he lunged forward putting his arm on the door, right between Shyam and Khushi and he watched Shyam retract his outstretched arm.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
"Its Rani Sahiba's birthday tomorrow, how could I miss it? I mean, I am still her husband"
Arnav was confused now more than anything, Shyams casualness was bothering him. Here was him and Khushi, living each day with pain because of what this man had done, and he was roaming free of a guilty conscience.
"Di isn't home, so I don't see any reason why you should be either, Delhi is a big place, you seemed to be able to avoid her for weeks at a time and I never heard you complain so why don't you find something worthwhile to do and come back when she gets back."
"Arnav ji, if we want things to go back to the way they were, then we both must make a compromise" Shyam pleaded, he had just seen Khushi after 3 weeks, he didn't want to leave now.
"Things don't need to go back to the way they were, and my compromise is that you are still alive. Dont make me change my mind. Like I said, come back when Di is home, there is no need for you to be here otherwise" he declared, slamming the door in Shyams face.

He looked back to where Khushi was kneeling. Her right hand was patching up raw and swollen and there were cuts everywhere on her palms. She had a cluster of broken pieces in her hands and she was still reaching out for more, only to drop a few of what she was holding and start all over again.

Arnav placed his hand over Khushi's arm which she had clutched close to her stomach. The rattling of glass pieces in her hands stopped suddenly as his hand controlled her shaking.
"Leave it"
"I just, I don't know why, I didn't mean to drop them, I just..I just" she could feel her voice starting to break so she stopped talking. She didn't want him to think she was afraid of Shyam, even if she was. She got up with the few pieces she was still holding and walked towards the kitchen where she dumped it all in the bin.
Arnav sighed, as he picked up what Khushi had left and headed after her.

After throwing away the remaining glass shards Arnav walked over to where Khushi stood, looking for a wipe.
"Khushi, go upstairs and clean up, Ill fix the mess"
"No no, its a blue cloth, I just need to find where Jai Prakash put it" She reached out to open the second drawer as for the second time Arnav reached out to hold Khushi's arm.
"You have spilled tea all over yourself, go upstairs and change, Ill grab the first aid box from the store room, you shouldn't have cut yourself"
"I didn't cut myself" Khushi replied, unsure of what he was talking about.
Arnav responded by looking down at the hand he was clutching, Khushi's eyes followed where he was looking and found dozens of little cuts lining her hands.
"Oh.." was her only immediate response.
"We'll clean the mess up later, just go upstairs for now" he asked, in a much softer tone than before.
Khushi nodded and waited for Arnav to release her arm, after which she headed up the stairs to change her clothes which were now plastered against she skin where she had soaked them.

Arnav grabbed an ice pack from the freezer before he walked around the house to the store room where he looked around for the fist aid kit. Having finally spotted it on the top shelf towards the front he ran back to his room to find Khushi wearing a deep blue dress, sitting with one leg crossed beneath her on the bed, staring at her hands. He walked over and started bandaging up her cuts, placing the ice pack on her burns. He felt comfort in imagining that he was patching up every wound he had ever caused her. As he was finishing up, he watched her. She had not moved for a while and was still staring at her hands when he had finished.

It was only tomorrow night, he thought to himself as he headed back to the store room. Anjali's birthday was tomorrow night, after which Shyam could leave and not be questioned too much. He made a mental note to watch out for Khushi, there was no doubt she would feel very uncomfortable in his presence.
 _________________


The next morning Khushi awakened to find Arnav sitting on the balcony reading a newspaper. She blinked a few times to focus her gaze and make sure it was him she was seeing through the crack in the curtains. It reassured her that he still cared enough to stay a while because Shyam was in the  house. She jumped over the bed, immediately in a better mood and fixed herself up. When she came out of the bathroom she found Arnav walking in though the balcony door. He looked up at her, then at her bandaged hands and finally found the small smile on her face. It warmed his heart.  Without saying a word they both headed down towards the kitchen, walking closer to each other than usual and finally found the dining room.

Anjali was bent over Shyams chair, speaking to him about something. She was smiling, as was he.
Khushi felt Arnav tense up beside her and she knew it was hard for him to watch this. So she decided she was going to be mature, it would help no one to run away like a scared cat every time she saw Shyam. Yesterday she had been completely shocked, that was the reason she gave herself for reacting the way she had. She didn't want to give Shyam the satisfaction of knowing that he affected her in any kind of way. So she walked over to the table and sat four seats along from him, trying to keep her distance without making it too obvious.

Arnav was slightly shocked by Khushi, but followed her around the table and took up the seat next to her, three seats away from Shyam. He wanted to keep himself between them.
Normally, this would be when Khushi would start fussing over giving everyone food, but she just sat quietly. Arnav thought this was because of Shyam, and could see Nani's face becoming slightly curious. He then noticed Khushi nervously twirling her bandanged hands under the table cover.
Arnav sighed to himself, so thats why she didn't want to serve everyone.
"Khushi is a little under the weather" he announced, so nobody would be suspicious.
He saw Nani's head nod slightly at his explanation and felt Khushi turn towards him with surprise.  

"What happened Khushi Ji?" Anjali asked "you were completely fine last night"
Khushi could feel Shyams gaze on her, and she saw Arnav clench his fists at where Shyam was looking. She had promised to make this easier on him.
"Nothing, just feeling a bit light headed, Ill be fine after breakfast, How was the wedding last night" she tried, desperately wanting to change the subject.

 ____________________


Khushi had run to her room as soon as Arnav had left for work and decided to stay there till she knew he was back for sure. Its just one night, one night. One night. She reassured herself.
Looking up at the clock she found it was six thirty. Anjali's party would be starting soon. She changed into a deep pink sari with bronze metallic beads sown into it. Anjali had picked it out for her and she stood admiring herself in the mirror. It did look good on her, better than what she normally wore anyway. She curled her hair loosely so it fell in soft curls down her back and applied light make-up that complimented her features.
It was quarter past seven now, guests would be arriving any minute. She didn't want to head down alone. Shyam would be there.

She sat on the stool in front of her dresser, catching a glimpse of the tux that Jai Prakash had ironed out for Arnav on their bed, before turning out to stare at the moon that had begun to appear outside.

 ____________________


Arnav hurried home, cursing under his breath for being held back longer than he had wanted because of his meeting. He glanced at his watch as he hurried through the hallway - seven thirty. He took off his coat and tie before reaching the door of his room, planning to change as quickly as possible so he could get this night over with. He hurridly opened the door but stopped in his tracks at the sight in front of him.

If he were to ever define beauty. This would be it.
She was angelic, perfect from every angle. Just perfect. Her cheeks were glowing with the light that shone on her face, her lips, a perfect shade of pink, glistening in the light. Her hair, so soft, curving around her body that was wrapped in a gorgeous sari, only second in beauty to its wearer.
If he was to pick a fault with what he saw, they would be her eyes. They were sad, and as beautiful in their sadness as they were, Arnav wanted nothing more in the world than to rid her of that sadness. He wanted to see her smile, he wanted to see her eyes full of joy, joy that he had brought to them.
He gulped, swallowing a lump in his throat that threatened to choke him. His hand slipped off of the door handle as he slowly realised that he really was falling in love.



Part 5
2 weeks. It is funny how your life can change in the shortest amount of time. It took two weeks for everything to change, two weeks is nothing. How did this happen? Out of the 6 billion people in the world how did this happen to me? My life was mine, so familiar, so wonderful. Now it felt uncomfortable. Distant. Like it didn't belong to me, like I was living somebody elses dream.

Well that she was.

Lavanya had had her heart set out on marrying Arnav, but it had been for all the wrong reasons. She had found a partner in Arnav that accepted her for all her faults and all her shortcomings, they fit eachother, they provided eachother with what they needed. It was a relationship of convenience, but it wasn't defined by love. When Arnav said it was over, that he couldn't deal with it anymore, Lavanya was more than happy to comply. She didn't want the same things anymore, she wanted someone who would settle down with her, someone who loved her for her.

Khushi thought about that as she pondered on how her life was hardly hers anymore. Wasnt her relationship a relationship of convenience as well? A way to avoid confronting Anjali Di? Whatever it was, it definitely was not defined by love.
"I am Khushi Kumari Gupta" she said, suddenly straightening out her back and blinking "There is no need to get depressed, I can handle this, this is nothing! Remember what Payal jiji used to say? Khushi, you can do anything you set your heart to, reach for the stars and Amma and Bauji will help you get there" 

He snapped out of his trance as he heard her speak to herself, cautiously looking around the room to confirm that she was really alone. He composed himself before walking in and grabbing his tux off the bed walking straight into the bathroom, not looking back at the woman who caused him to lose sight of reality.
He took a while in the bathroom, not because he was having difficulty dressing himself, but because he was trying his best to slow down his heart rate.
"This isn't me falling for her, that is just stupid, this is Khushi, Khushi Kumari Gupta, the girl that drives me mad" he said to himself ' drives me mad for all the right reasons ' he silently thought, blocking it out from his conscience.

Arnav walked out of the bathroom and glanced over at Khushi who was looking over at him. They didn't need to exchange words. He knew she had waited because Shyam was downstairs and she knew he had expected her to.

"Ji, I urm, I wanted to talk to you ... about yesterday"
Arnav had just been about to start walking out the door when she spoke. He was surprised at how composed Khushi was at times, how forgiving.   It was not more than two days ago that he had shouted at her how she meant nothing to him at all and she was giving him a clear opportunity to walk past that.
His only response was to look at her.
"I just didn't mean to, well what Im trying to say is, and its hard to explain, its just the situation was weird, and I didn't, well, I couldn't, no, thats not the best way to put it, I wanted to ..."
Arnav watched her silently struggle to find the right words.
"Spit it out"
She flinched, not expecting him to speak since she assumed he had gone into silent mode.
"Look, Arnav ji, I just wanted you to know that I really am fine, I am stronger than I look, and I didn't react appropriately yesterday, and Im not proud of it, I was just shocked, but I don't want you to think that I need your help all the time, this must be really hard on you too" she ended.
Arnav stood still, he didn't know a way to react to what she had just said without revealing too much emotion for her. So he just nodded and walked over to the door, opening it and indicating that she should walk out first.

"Always a gentleman" Khushi slyly remarked, feeling like she needed to compensate for the extra tension Shyams presence had dropped on them.

"Always such a lady" he added sarcastically as Khushi tripped over her dress and did a funny movement trying to correct herself.

She turned and gave him an extremely sarcastic smile "Always the joker" she had to have the last word.

That little interaction reminded them both of the type of relationship they had before they had found out about Shyam, back and forth bickering.

It gave Khushi hope, and she remembered that this was the man that had made her heart beat faster every time she stepped within a metre of him. She had lost that feeling the past few weeks, too preoccupied with what was happening to her life.
It gave Arnav worry, as he remembered that this was the woman that took his breath away at times, and made him laugh like the world held no sorrow and no pain.
 She didn't want to lose this opportunity; it was an extreme rarity for them to have a conversation.
"How was work?" she asked.
"Fine"
"Did you have a good breakfast?"
"It was fine"
"What about lunch?"
"Fine"
"And the drive back home?" she continued, refusing to give up so early.
He looked over at her, and decided that he should just let go of the pretence of being angry at her all the time.
"Fine"
She was racking her brain, trying to think of another casual question, he sure wasn't making this easy.

"There was alot of traffic"

Khushi stopped dead in her tracks. Did he just try and be civil with her? That was new, and unexpected. She quickly regained her senses and caught up with him, she didn't want to let this moment go by. Arnav flinched as he felt his protective wall begin to crumble.

"Urm yes, traffic in Delhi is bad" was all she could manage.

They walked in silence down the stairs , and headed down to hall where they could hear voices of guests that had begun to arrive.

"It isn't that bad in Lucknow" she finally continued.
"What isn't?" he asked confused.
"Traffic" she added casually "in Lucknow, isn't as bad as in Delhi"

"You know what else is better in Lucknow? The Jale.." Khushis tongue caught in her mouth and Arnav followed her line of vision from her face where he had been watching her in amusement to Shyams figure standing next to Anjali outside their room.

They both cursed themselves for taking the longer route via Anjalis room towards the main hall.

"What happened here? Its all bruised, you must have hit yourself so hard!"Anjali fussed over her husbands face which had the slighlest traces of old bruises "and here, there is another cut! What happened to you!?"

"Nothing Rani Sahiba, listen, today is your special day, I will tell you the stories of my slip and trips another time, guests are waiting" Shyam mused.

Khushi's stomach turned at the sickly sweetness of his voice. He used to talk like that with her. It made her shiver, which did not go unnoticed by Arnav. They both knew where the marks on his face had come from.

2 weeks, Khushi thought, it had taken 2 weeks to change her life forever. But the moment that did all of the damage had been a singularity. A single fleeting moment which Khushi thought she could not forget in all her life, even if she tried her best to.

A little taste of the next chapter which includes a flashback :

Arnav stood in the light of a thousand dancing bulbs that were drowning him in their happiness. He had never been this confused before, he did not know what to do, or what to say, so much depended on him.

"Marry me"

Khushi looked up from where she was sitting in the hollow of a large willow tree, her tear stricken face meeting that of the man that stood before her.

"What?"

"I said"... "Marry me"


Part 6
They stood in silence as they watched Shyam wipe the blood from the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand. He didn't look sorry, or remorseful, or even fearful that his life could fall apart at the revelation of the truth. He was angry. He had seen Khushi slip out of his reach in mere seconds, and that did not make him a happy man. He thought about hitting Arnav back, he knew he was strong enough to inflict pain, but the look on Arnavs face told him all he needed to know; that he should leave. He stumbled off of the ground where his brother-in-law had thrown him just seconds before and with a final indefinable look back at Khushi, he walked out the gardens to catch the first form of transport he saw.


This left Khushi and Arnav in an icy silence.
He was confused.
She was lost.

"Arnav ji?" she reluctantly spoke. If it was one thing Khushi did not like about Arnav, or her relationship with him, was that she could never tell how he would react. His emotions would always catch her off guard. It is why she never knew how to react to him.
This was one of those times.
Arnav, without a second look back at Khushi starting walking. Away from the hall behind them, away from his life, away from her. He needed to think because he felt so helpless. All his life he had talked about how he would protect his Di from anything. But now, he could tell her and tear her heart into bits, or not tell her, let her live in pretence of happiness with a man that did not deserve the smallest part of her.
He didn't even realise that he had reached the end of the large garden at this point nor did he pay attention to the ringing of the anklet behind him. Surrounded by the largest trees that were decorated in lights, he stopped and looked around him. The trees seemed so wise, with all the answers, and the knowledge hidden behind their many layers of bark. He held his head with his hands and clenched his teeth to stop himself from screaming in rage.

As Khushi watched Arnav struggle to get his bearings she walked over and placed her hand on his shoulders. She would have flinched if he had reacted with a jerk, but it scared her more than anything that he did not even react to her touch. She felt as though he was breaking, and it hurt her as well. She tried to turn him around to no avail  "Arnav ji, please"

"What" he said, barely more than a whisper "What do you expect me to do, fix this?" he turned around, face less than a few inches away from her

"I can't fix this"


His voice was one of despair, like he was asking her to forgive him for not being able to get her out of this mess. "I don't expect you to do anything; I just need to hear that you're going to be okay"

"Di, my Di, Khushi, she is my Di"
"I know" she whispered back.
"What am I going to do?" he said, covering his face with his hands.

Khushi grabbed his hands in surprise, staring at his knuckles that were bleeding profusely "You hurt yourself!"
Arnav didn't react, lost in thought of what he should be doing to get things back to normal. He was supposed to protect his sister, but he didn't have a clear way out. Whatever he chose, he would have to hurt her in some way. He noticed the stinging in his hands when Khushi tied a piece of her scarf around them. The dark green cloth soothed his pain and he watched her work with as much concentration as the situation would allow, finally tying the knot around his second hand.

"I wish I could help you, I know this must be hard" Khushi finally said.

Arnavs eyes flickered with anger "You know how this feels?" he said, more angry than before.
Khushi took a step back, there he went again, on his wild swing of emotions. She took another step back as he continued to stare at her, only to find that he covered her two small steps in single large one and cornered her back into a tree.

"This isn't helping anyone" she said, annoyed that he was taking this out on her, she only wanted to help, did he not understand that.
"This is all your fault Khushi Kumari Gupta" he declared as her mouth flew open in shock "What!?"
"If you had never come into my life, this never would have happened, you just can't stay away from me, I TOLD YOU TO GET AWAY FROM ME" he shouted, leaning in on her.
"Girls like you..."
"Girls like me what?" she chimed in "Are you going to talk about my status and my respect again? Are you going to tell me that I am worth nothing because believe me if you are, there is no point because I have heard it enough, this is not what this is about, and you know that"
"Don't tell me how I feel!" he shouted, punching the tree behind her shoulder.

Khushi jumped out of her skin as she thought he was about to hit her. She quickly regained her composure; she knew he would never hit her. But then again, she never really was the best judge of what he was capable of, including making her heart beat faster than anything else.
As quickly as she had tried to hide it, it had not been quick enough, because Arnav saw her reaction and backed out of where he was standing. This was not a moment to lose his cool. This was not her fault he told himself.

He looked up to find Khushi's tearing eyes staring up at him.
"Im sorry" was all she could manage.

He closed his eyes, she was right, making her feel guilty about what was happening would not help anyone. It was Shyam who had to pay, not Khushi.
He opened his eyes to find Khushi now sitting at the foot of the tree, sobbing into her hands which were tucked into her knees. He stepped back and just thought for what seemed like an eternity.

He wanted his Di safe.
He wanted Shyam to pay.

Arnav stood in between the trees in the light of a thousand dancing bulbs that were drowning him in their happiness and Khushi continued to sob. Two people, in way over their heads.
He did not know what to do, or what to say, so much depended on him.
"Marry me"
Khushi looked up from where she was sitting in the hollow of a large willow tree, her tear stricken face meeting that of the man that stood before her. He had spoken without thinking, but once the words were out, he felt a new confidence.
"What?"
She was sure she had not heard him right, how would that help anything?
"I said"..."Marry me"

"You haven't gone crazy have you? How is me marrying you going to help anything?"
Arnav felt he did not have the time nor the strength to explain every single motive of his, even the ones that he failed to recognise.
"No one will marry you" he said "What will your family say when they find out that you said no to Shyam, what will you tell them, they have probably spread the news already. Are you going to let people know that you almost married an already married man, what will that do to your family?" he continued. He knew that was her weak spot.

She opened her mouth and then closed it again, she hadn't thought of it like that.
"I don't care about what people say"
"Yes, but I'm sure your family do"
That made her go quiet.
"Look, Nani wants me married, you know she likes you, and you need someone to marry"
He waited and got no response from her so he continued.
"How can you be sure Shyam won't leave you alone? If you are married he can't do anything, if you are married into the same family that provides his living then he won't come after you or your family, he won't say anything to Di" the more he explained it, the more he realised how flawed this solution was, it worked for them now, but in the long run?
He could tell Khushi was thinking the same thing. She thought very highly of marriage, but she was trapped, any fool could see that. She had not moved from where she was sitting, the stars reflected in her eyes, their light was causing the tear tracks down her face to sparkle. Marks of her sorrow.

"Yes"

Arnav was surprised to hear her speak "What?" he asked.

"Yes, I'll marry you"

That had been the moment when everything changed
______________________


Shaking her head to forget things of the past Khushi came back to reality where Arnav was almost shaking from anger at the sight of his sister and brother in law by the door. Khushi grabbed hold of his arm and pulled on him, dragging him down the hallway.
He let her carry him away.

Khushi cleared her throat "Jalebis"
Arnav waited for her to say something to substantiate the single word she had just uttered and he got confused when she didn't.
"Jalebi's what?" he asked, losing all sign of his anger.
"Are better in Lucknow than in Delhi" she continued as though it was the most normal thing to think "you really need to start keeping up in conversation"

Arnav rolled his eyes as they continued walking down the hallway away from Anjali and Shyam, who was watching them, with Khushi's hand on Arnav's arm. The thought of them together, of Arnav with his Khushi was something he could not bear.
"Rani Sahiba.." he smiled at his wife " I just have to make a single phone call" he raised his hand to her shoulder as she began to protest "it won't take long" he added.
"Ok but please hurry, guests are waiting and I don't want to go downstairs without you" she said "who are you calling by the way?" she asked, curious.

"It's a surprise, trust me, you will love it" he said, a sly smile spreading across his face from ear to ear.




Part 7
The hall was alight with colours, lights, music and chatter from guests. Khushi looked around her with her mouth wide open, at the great ceiling with chandeliers that where throwing off hazy pink light coupled with  tiny off white bulbs that grew of off every surface possible. She had stayed in her room all day and hadn't seen how they had transformed the hall into something out of a fairytale. She was still holding on to Arnavs arm, a fact of which she was very aware.
He had spoken to her today, the thought of which made her smile. He chose to speak to her, maybe things were going to be all right after all. It would take time for sure, but at least he didn't hate her like she had come to think.

He shook off her hand as they reached the room "Khushi, I'm going to get us a few drinks"

She beamed at him, smiling more than necessary at such a gesture.

"Are you going to tell me what you want?"

"Lemonade" she smiled

He gave his ' what a weird girl ' look and walked off towards the table with the drinks as Khushi looked around her to find her family.
 Reaching the table Arnav grabbed a glass of lemonade and white wine, he felt like he needed some to get through the night. As he was about to leave he saw a stack of Jalebi's at the side of the table and without thinking picked one out, placing it on a plate. He turned around to see Khushi scanning the room looking for someone. Her beauty took his breath away and he fearfully put the plate of Jalebi's down. What was he thinking?

Suddenly he saw Khushi's eyes open slightly and watched as she hastily turned towards him, hair flying across her face and crossed the hall over to where he stood. He stood stunned for a while in her beauty as she approached him. He wanted to touch her skin, how soft it was and feel the silkiness of her hair as it shone in the light. He snapped out of it just as she got to him and quickly pushed the plate he had recently filled swiftly with his hand, watching it fall into the bin beside the table before holding out the lemonade to Khushi's face.

She walked around the glass and stood beside him, looking a little worried.
"What is it, what happened?" he asked, wishing he hadn't as soon as the words were out. What was he doing? Why should he care if she looked worried? He looked at his outstretched hand that was now holding out a glass of lemonade to no one in particular. He put the glass down angrily on the table behind him, frustrated at himself.

She turned and picked up the glass as soon as he had placed it down and just pointed with her head towards the top of the stairs where Shyam and Anjali were now walking in
"That's whats happened"
Arnav groaned as he saw them and turned away to look outside the window where he could see Khushi's reflection as she turned to look at him worryingly. She reached out for his shoulder but thought better of it and retracted her hand slowly. She looked down before turning back to watch Shyam and Anjali being greeted by guests. As she was just taking a sip of her drink she saw Shyam meet her eyes, causing her to choke slightly and put her drink down to walk around Arnav so that she was now standing between Arnav and the window.

He looked up at her, where she still had an upset face but held his tongue in asking what had happened. She watched him expectantly, but gave up when he refused to speak.
"Amma, Babuji and Jiji are not here"

"Maybe because you didn't listen to what they had to say, hid the truth from them, said no to marriage, and then married me"
Arnav could be mean sometimes, but Khushi's mouth flew open in shock at how blunt he had just been. How much she was distanced from her family upset her alot, Jiji was the only one she really kept in contact with, and that too was on the phone when no one else was home. And now Arnav was telling her that it was her fault her family didn't want much to do with her.

"I'm going to the bathroom" she said in a huff, slipping past him and heading down the hall.

He grabbed her wrist before she had a chance to get away and desperately tried to whisper the words he knew he meant, he had never meant to hurt her, he had just gotten used to behaving like that, but his pride took over and he only let go of her hand to watch her reflection walk away from him. He closed his eyes in frustration.

"I'm sorry" he whispered to himself after a few seconds, annoyed at his lack of courage at being unable to say them when she was around.

"Say sorry to your liver" piped up a voice behind him that made him jump, splashing the drink from the cup he was holding onto the floor as Khushi reached out for his glass of white wine and swapped him for her lemonade ignoring his feeble protests.
She headed back down the hall towards the bathroom, placing the glass down on her way.

He was both surprised and amused by her, a small smile crept on his face but it disappeared as soon as he saw Shyams reflection looking towards the corridor where Khushi had just disappeared seconds before. He remained still, watching him for a while as he mingled with guests and stayed beside his sister. After a while he decided that he needed to calm down, Shyam was his Di's husband, and as much as that killed him, he would have to deal with that.
______________________

Twenty minutes later found Arnav still holding a full glass of lemonade watching guests and making small talk with a few people that made the effort with him.
"Waiting for your wife?" came his sister's voice as she stood next to him

"Chote, God gave both of partners that seem to always leave" she said cheekily, hoping to get an emotional response from her brother. It had not slipped her mind that Khushi and Arnav were not exactly behaving like your normal pair of newlyweds.
He smiled so that his words wouldn't appear too harsh "Where has your husband gone off to?"
"I don't know, somewhere" she said, having a quick look around the room. Arnav followed suit, searching every corner of the decorated hall, he looked down at the cup he was holding ' why wasn't she back yet?
"Are you going to watch it down your stomach?" Anjali joked.
"Di, I have something to do" he turned back to her "I'll come back soon"

Arnav followed Khushi's steps down the corridor to the left to find it empty, and decided to try going up to their room. He walked back through the hall, searching for Shyam as well, who he could not find. His palms were beginning to get sweaty as he searched frantically in every room he passed.

Finally reaching their bedroom he pushed through the door calling out her name.
"Khushi!" he looked in the bathroom, still empty.
He continued searching around the upper floor, worrying where she could possibly be.

On his way past the outdoor pool and garden, he saw a flicker of pink and bronze and stopped dead in his tracks. She was standing by the pool, staring up at the stars again, like she had been earlier that evening. Arnav admired her; he knew she believed her parents had become stars after they had died. He thought it was a beautiful thought, just as beautiful as her.

He wiped his free palm down on his tux and opened the door to join her. She didn't respond to his presence so he just stood there, waiting for her to do something.

"Do you really think it's my fault?"
There was a slight pause as Arnav wondered what she meant.
"That your parents didn't come today?"

"No, not that"

"Khushi, I shouldn't have said what I did. Your family doesn't hate you, you know that better than I do, there is no need to get so upset over that, you've been gone for about half an hour, I started...I mean people started to ask questions"

"No, no that either"

"What? People asking questions?"

She looked down at him from the sky "Tssskk, you don't listen to me at all"

"You speak nonsense that's why" he retaliated.

"I mean with Anjali Di"

Arnav was slightly lost again, keeping up with this girl was beyond difficult, so he waited for her to continue.

"With everything" she finally said, noting that Arnav wasn't exactly sure what she meant.
His look of confusion did not falter, making Khushi shake her hands in frustration.

"I mean with him, you know, Shyam and Anjali Di"
Arnav stood still.
"Do you really think it's my fault"

Arnav didn't respond. If he told her that he thought she had nothing to do it, he feared she would think that they were okay, that they could be fine with eachother. He wasn't ready to accept that, especially with the kind of effect she had on him. Arnav wasn't always left speechless, but he just stood, staring at her, in silence.

"Arnav ji" she pleaded "please just tell me the truth" She walked up to him so she was now standing very close to him. He could feel the heat from her body warming him up, "just tell me what you think".
Her eyes were begging him to talk to her, to tell her what he thought of her, of their relationship, and what he wanted for her. And he wanted nothing more than to tell her, calm her fears and say that everything was going to be all right -but something was stopping him.

The sound of the door opening behind him snapped him out of his trance as he watched Khushi fall back to reality as well. They had just been standing there, so close, staring into each other's eyes.
 Arnav turned around to find his Di and unfortunately her husband step outside.

"What are you doing here?" Anjali asked, confused at why he chose to leave the party.
Khushi stepped out from behind Arnav where she had been out of view "We were just about to come back"

Anjali smiled, with the intention of teasing them about this later. This kind of an opportunity with them was rare.
"I was just" Arnav started, handing over the glass in his hand that he had long forgotten about "giving Khushi her drink" he held it out to her, and when she just stared back at him, confused, he lifted her hand with his own and put the cup in hers. Their reactions at the jolt of current that had passed through the both of them when they had touched went unnoticed by Anjali, but not by Shyam. His face stiffened at the sight of them.

"Well if you don't mind interrupting the romance, please do come downstairs, my party is fun you know" Anjali giggled. When Arnav and Khushi just stood still she added "And, did you both know, my husband has a surprise for me, and he may have let it slip that you guys might be involved in it too!" unaware of the effect of those words on those that stood beside her.

Shyam did not look pleased at what his wife had just mentioned, this is not the way he wanted them to find out, he was hoping it would catch them off guard, so that they did not have time to question themselves, or him. He just smiled, ever so well at faking sweetness "Rani Sahiba, how many times have I told you to keep a secret - it is supposed to be a surprise"

"I am just too excited, sorry" she added, clutching her ears to emphasise her feelings.
"Okay, come down soon" she said to the both of them, holding Shyam by the shoulder and directing him back towards the party.

"Surprise? And him? That cannot be good" Khushi said, as soon as they were out of earshot.

"He wouldn't plan something stupid and get Di involved, he is too much of a coward" Arnav said angrily, leaving her and their unshared feelings by the poolside as he following his sister and brother-in-law back to the party.

Khushi stood outside for a few moments longer. Anger boiling up inside her for what Shyam was doing to her husband, she felt protective of him. Even though she sometimes felt he did not care for her, she wanted him happy. Seeing him sad, made her sad.
"Was it not bad enough for him to steal his sister? Then ruin his life with guilt of the choices he has made? Devi Mayya, please protect us from what he is planning, knowing Shyam, it is probably only for his benefit" she prayed quickly and ran back to the party, knowing that the anger she was feeling was probably going to make her do something stupid.

She walked back into the beautifully decorated hall, tripping twice on her sari, to see that Arnav had taken up his previous position by the window, except that he was now looking into the hall rather than out of it. She smiled to see that he had not picked up another glass of wine. At least her presence had some benefit around here.
Looking around the room, hoping to scan the hall once again for her family, she saw Shyam holding Anjali's shoulders as she whispered something to him and he nodded, heading towards the kitchen a few seconds later. This was her chance, she thought, as she headed after him.

Arnav would not have noticed that Khushi had walked back in had he not always felt her around him. His heart started beating faster and he knew she must be back, finally spotting her at the same place at which they had walked in, as beautiful as ever, with a small smile on her face. He wondered what the reason for her happiness was, maybe she had finally spotted her family? He followed her line of vision to see Shyam, and looked back at her to see that the smile was now gone.
He watched her think, he could tell she was making a decision in her head, and it was probably a bad one knowing that she was angry. That was Khushi for you, thinking with her heart and never with her head.




Part 8

He lifted himself off of the window where he had been leaning when he watched her walk after Shyam into the corridor that led towards the kitchen

"What is this girl thinking?" He let himself a minute of calm before the anger took over, and he furiously followed their steps.

 _____________________

"What do you think you are doing?" she angrily asked, surprised at her own courage "Have you not done enough?"
Khushi stood fuming in the middle of the kitchen, shaking from the anger she felt towards the man in front of her. This was her plan? She thought to herself. Oh great job Khushi Kumari Gupta, just walking up to him and asking him to stop, great going there, really a genius at planning you are.

Shyam looked up from where he was standing next to Anjali's birthday cake which she had asked for him to bring out, and smiled to see who was standing before him "Khushi ji, aap?"

The sound of her name from his lips suddenly drained the anger away from her as she realised what she had just put herself into. Her and Shyam, alone. She shook the thought of everything that could go wrong from her mind, she didn't know how far Shyam would go, she didn't know if he had changed yet, if he would at all. To be honest, she had never known the real Shyam. What she knew of him had all been a facade. Thinking of how uncertain she was, she mentally slammed herself for walking all the way after him. What could she possibly accomplish? That is when she thought of Arnav. This man was torturing him, it needed to stop.

"What is this nonsense, what are you planning?" she repeated.

Shyam walked over from where he was standing so that there was now only a few feet between him and Khushi, he could smell her perfume.

"What are you talking about Khushi ji?"

Him saying her name made her shiver "You know what I am talking about, this surprise that you have talked about with Anjali ji? What is it you want from us, just leave us alone!"

"Khushi ji its Anj.."


"Stop" she interrupted "Dont say my name, don't you dare say my name" she realised how weird that must have sounded, but she couldn't hear him say it, it chilled her to the bone. She thought that maybe she was being unfair, he was Anjali's husband, he couldn't just ignore them and they lived in the same house!

"Khushi ji its Anjali's birthday" he continued, ignoring her protest "It is just a present for her, you can't expect me to turn up empty handed now can you?"

Lie after lie after lie. Didnt this man tire out? "Why are you involving us? We've had enough of you! You have ruined our lives already, Arnav ji has warned you, and he won't hesitate to get rid of you if he must, so just keep away from us"

"So now you think that man dictates what I do? You think I am scared of him?"

The sudden change in his tone made Khushi flinch and take a small step back as he started moving towards her. From anyone else's point of view Shyam just looked as though he wanted to talk to Khushi and was moving towards her, but Khushi had learnt her lesson. This man was not to be trusted.
As he took his third step and Khushi hit the wall behind her, she contemplated screaming out for help. That could have dire consequences if she were to explain why she had screamed, but it was better to be safe than anything else.

"Stay away from me" she warned, staying strong "and Arnav ji, just leave us alone, stop whatever you have planned, we want nothing to do with it, your relationship is with your wife, not with us"

"Us? So both of you are in this together now?" he asked, sounding enraged at her use of the word "Why did you marry him Khushi ji? What does he give you that any other man can't?" - That I can't he added to himself.

"This is nonsense, what are you talking about? My personal life has absolutely nothing to do with you"


"You are not happy are you Khushi ji?"
 She cringed again at the sound of her name as he took another step towards her, he was way too close for comfort now, she didn't even like being in the same room as him.

How dare he question her life, how dare he say she wasn't happy. He had put her in this situation, it was his entire fault.

"It will all be okay Khushi ji, I promise I will make it all okay" with that he stepped up towards her so that there was hardly a gap between them. That is when Khushi lost it, she opened her mouth to scream as loud as she possibly could when she found that he had covered her mouth with his hand.

His touch disgusted her, how had things escalated to this in less than a minute? What was going on? Her mind was screaming at her to get away. Instinctively she threw her hands up to his chest and heaved as much as her fragile form would let her. Shyam rocked back from the force but it didn't push him completely off of her.

"Don't make so much noise Khushi ji" he said, a menacing glint in his eyes "What will people say?"

She thought of Anjali as she pushed at Shyam again, hoping that she wasn't overreacting, finally pulling his hand off of her mouth,


"Get off of me" was all she could manage through her struggle. She didn't like feeling helpless, she wished she was stronger, but she knew she couldn't get him off. It made her angry, it filled her eyes up with tears to the brim, she would not let them fall, and she would not give him that satisfaction. 





Part 9
Just when she thought she could not take anymore, she closed her eyes and felt Shyam being distanced from her. What was he doing?

As Arnav walked in to the kitchen he saw a desperate Khushi trying to push Shyam away from her. It took less than a moment for him to register the situation. She looked so weak and fragile behind him, cornered like a defenceless little girl, he was holding one hand over her mouth and another around her wrists as she struggled to break free. Rage blinded him as he lunged for Shyams collar and tore him away from her. He stumbled backwards as a fuming Arnav stepped between him and Khushi who still had her eyes closed and was breathing heavily against the wall.

Arnav stepped up to Shyam again and shoved him so that he fell backwards. He didn't need words, he had given this man a warning, which he had ignored and he was not in a forgiving mood. How dare he touch her? Arnav didn't know how best to inflict as much pain on him as possible for what he had just done, or attempted to.
As he fell backwards, Shyam grabbed at the counter to stop himself from falling, instead he managed to place his weight on the corner of the tray that held the cake and it came crashing to the ground.

The noise caused Khushi's eyes to flutter open and the scene that met her eyes was very unfamiliar to the one that she had closed them to. She quickly walked over to Arnav, placing a shaking hand on his shoulder, this was not a time to relive the moments just over three weeks ago when he had first found out about Shyam. She knew he was about to hit him again, but the voice behind them made them all freeze.

"Oh no!" What happened here?" Anjali exclaimed, reaching up to cover her mouth with her hand. She was looking at her birthday cake which now lay flattened against the floor.

Shyam's scared eyes darted between the three of them. Nobody spoke for a while, which prompted Khushi to at least attempt to control the situation before it got any worse.
"Shyam ji tripped and the cake fell"

Arnav was still furiously looking at Shyam, which Anjali misinterpreted.
"It's okay, it's only a cake, we can order one quickly from some place that is still open, Chote?" she asked, when he did not respond "Chote, there is no need to be so angry, I never really liked cake anyway."

"I'll go and order one now" he said, thinking of his sister.
This was her birthday, there was no need to make things worse. He gave Shyam a warning look and turned to leave, roughly grabbing Khushi's arm as he did.
There was no way he was leaving her in the same room with him. They left as Anjali began to fuss over the state of Shyams clothes which had cake sprayed on them.

He dragged her along behind him as they circled around the hall, avoiding all the guests.
"What do you think you were doing, have you gone crazy? I ask you to do one thing, I asked you to stay away from him, but you are stupid eno.."

"You didn't"

"I didn't what?" he angrily asked, still dragging her behind him and opening the door that led them outside to the garden.

"You never asked me to stay away from him"

That shut him up for a while, she was right. He had been thinking it all day, but he had not said that to her. They walked through the damp grass,
"It should have been obvious, what were you thinking? Can you not even do one thing right? It is Di's birthday, ONE DAY dammit" he continued as he finally stopped and swung her around to face him.

The wetness on her cheeks made him stop speaking. He was doing it again, breaking her heart without meaning to. She must have been scared.

"I just wanted him to stop, doing what he was doing. I could tell it was hurting you, I didn't want him to"

"You have no right to worry about me"

She looked down, and that is when he noticed that he was gripping her arm too tightly, he immediately let go.
"Stay here" he said as he walked back into the house to tell his assistant to call any bakery he could find that was still open. It was almost ten o clock, most of them would be closed by now.

Khushi waited outside, she was tired of it all. She missed being care free Khushi Kumari Gupta, not Khushi Singh Raizada, having to live with a husband who didn't care for her and a crazy brother-in-law that was obsessed with her. She sat down on the ground, burying her back in a tree, not caring that it would leave marks on her gorgeous sari, she was just too tired of it all.
_____________________

Arnav stood fuming just inside the doors that led to the garden.
"It better be here in the next 20 minutes" he ordered, at the poor man at the other end of the line.
He was about to step outside when he decided to take a minute to calm down, if he saw her, it would bring back the image of what he saw when he stepped into the kitchen. He clenched his jaw and fists. What the hell was his brother-in-law doing, how dare he touch Khushi, his Khushi.

A few minutes later he walked out to find Khushi sitting at the foot of a large tree where he had left her, surrounded by little dim lights making the image in front of him seem very familiar. Her head was buried in her hands just like it had been the day he had asked her to marry him.
He had asked her. He thought.  
This was on him, it wasn't right to make her suffer just because she made him feel unlike anything else before. Seeing how Khushi and Shyam behaved with each other only reaffirmed his thoughts that Khushi could not have been in on the plan to ruin his sister's life. She was just an innocent girl, caught in unfortunate circumstances.

"I'm sorry" she whispered. Arnav looked at her with a pained expression. He didn't even know she had realised he was back.

"I'm just making things more difficult, I promise I didn't mean to"

Arnav sighed, his shoulders drooping slightly "With you, nothing that you mean to do ever ends up happening"

She shuffled her face closer into her hands at his words. Arnav walked around her, making sure not to step on the tail of her sari that was sprawled on the ground around her feet. He slid his back down the tree so that he was now sitting on the ground right next to her, he could feel her breathing as he tried to control his own.

His proximity surprised her as she looked up to find him much closer than expected "I know you didn't mean to, but you need to stay away from him. Can you do that for me?"

Khushi just nodded like a small child being told what to do. He was treating her a bit like a wife, it felt unusual to her. His expression calmed and a small smile crept over Khushi's face slowly spreading out wider.

"What?" he questioned.

She just shook her head, not planning on sharing until she started to giggle. She covered her mouth trying not to make too much noise as she continued to laugh harder.

"Did you have something to drink?" Arnav asked confused.

She shook her head in response again as she now struggled to breath; she was almost rolling on the ground, in fits of laughter, gasping in for air when she could. Arnav watched her as his own lips started to curl into a small smile. Her laughter was so free-spirited, he hadn't seen her like this before, it was mesmerising.
"Khushi?" he cautiously asked as she still giggled fiercely, placing his hand on her shaking shoulder.

"Shh...sh..ya...aaa..aa..aaa...amm..shay...m" was all he could make from inbetween her fits.
"Shyam what?" he asked, even more confused, what could be so funny about him.

She sensed him stiffening up beside her so she tried her best to calm down before continuing.
"The cakeee, falling on him, and his.. faa.aa... aahhh" she cried, holding her stomach from the pain of laughing so much "hiss.. his faceee.was..sooo...so.. funny...aaahh"

Arnav thought back to the moment, clouded by his own anger, he had failed to see the humour as Shyams eyes bulged with cake splattered all over him, and his look of betrayal when Khushi had promptly blamed it on his tripping. He smiled slowly looking over at Khushi who was trying to control herself now, she could find happiness in the darkest places, he thought. It was wondrous.

She calmed down after a while and leaned against the tree again, her shoulder slightly brushing Arnav's.
"Ahh, it is really beautiful out tonight" she said, finally wiping her eyes and looking out at the stars above them.

"You've been looking at the stars a lot today" he murmured, glad that she was back to normal.

"You've been looking at me looking at the stars?" she joked, bumping his shoulder, but then taking it back with her eyes when he didn't look too comfortable. Too soon - she thought.

"They are so beautiful; they just seem to shine forever"

So do you -he thought.

"That one" she pointed at a particularly bright star "is my dad, and that one" now pointing at a star with a faint pink haze "that one is my mum, well I'd like to think that anyway"

They could hear the guests inside, a while later as they chanted a merry Happy Birthday song but neither of them wanted to go back. Khushi stared up at the stars and Arnav saw them reflected back in her eyes as he gazed at her.
Hours passed like minutes.
After what seemed like a long enough time, Khushi's eyes started to close and she rested her head against something warm next to her, falling into the most comfortable sleep she had had in a long time.

He let her sleep against him for a few minutes, before he tried to lightly shake her awake
"Khushi" he whispered into her ear, his lips brushing against her silky locks. His warm breath made Khushi shiver with the cold that surrounded the rest of her but she stayed asleep. So he carried her back inside, with his hands buckled under her knees and her back. She was so small, so fragile, her head rested against his chest as he made his way through the dark house. Everyone was gone; all the lights were switched off. It was just the both of them.

After he gently placed her down on their bed he lightly brushed the few strands of hair from her face, staring at her grace as the moonlight hit her face from all the right angles.
"You don't need to be sorry" he said, gathering up the courage knowing that she was asleep "that should be me, I should be sorry, and I am"
He traced his hands down her cheek and jawline and without thinking followed her skin down her neck feeling her pulse, her life, and along her arms till he reached her fingertips. Her skin was so soft, so smooth, it felt like it was made for him to caress.
"I'm sorry for getting angry at you tonight, and for shouting at you the other day, I'm sorry for a lot of things, I am sorry for it all. Forgive me?"
When he got no response he followed her fingertips, onto her bare stomach where her hand lay, tracing circles around her naval. She shifted in her sleep, scratching her skin, where he had been touching her, making Arnav jump up from where he was kneeling next to the bed. What had he been doing?
He angrily changed and before going to bed he made sure to reinforce the line of pillows that separated them even though the back of his mind told him that a few pillows wouldn't keep his feelings at bay.
He fell asleep with the image of her starry eyes on his mind.




Part 10
She awoke with the image of his worried face looking down at her.


Her hand felt warm and comfortable, so she snuggled closer to it to find that she hit something solid. Opening her eyes, she saw that she was leaning against their pillow barrier with her hand reaching out over it so that it was holding on to Arnav's arm. She jolted awake and sat up in the bed praying that he hadn't seen that.


Arnav woke up from the movement "What, what happened" he stuttered, half asleep.
"Nothing, nothing, go back to sleep" Khushi replied, who was now curled into a ball near her pillow from embarrassment.
Arnav snapped open his eyes, surprised at how she was sitting, confusing it for her being upset over something.


"Khushi are you okay?" he asked, sitting up quickly and looking at her. Her hair was just as beautiful as the night before, except that it was a bit messy which made her look irresistible. Her sari, now crumpled and worn out still complemented her skin and body perfectly and the reminders of her make-up made her look effortless.
"Yes, please go back to bed"she whimpered. It was embarrassing enough that she had been sleeping with her arm around him, but she now realised that she never remembered getting into bed either.


When he continued to stare at her, she grabbed the blanket that was now at the foot of their bed and threw it over to him as she scrambled to rush to the bathroom and shower "Back to bed."


He was too tired to argue or worry too much considering she looked perfectly fine so he covered his eyes with the blanket and was back asleep within seconds.


________________________
Khushi was downstairs preparing a tray of breakfast for Arnav again with a smile on her face when she heard someone walk down the corridor.
"Arnavji!" she called, hoping she heard him.


BANG, the front door shut close.


"Oh" was all she could say, looking back at a half prepared tray with a bit of disappointment before carrying it up to her room so she could have it herself. She had skipped dinner the night before and her stomach wasn't letting her forget it.


On her way up to her room she saw Anjali walking out of her room.
"Good morning Di"


"Khushi ji" she looked up surprised that Khushi was awake so early.


"Where are you going?" Khushi asked, looking at the bags near Anjali's feet.


"Oh, Shyam was just leaving..."


Khushi stopped listening as she heard those words, Shyam was leaving. She could go back to trying to fix her relationship with Arnav and stop having to worry about him. She hastily mumbled an excuse to go back to her room so that she could avoid having to see Shyam.


_______________________

Arnav spent the whole day at work staring at his phone, wondering if he should call and check on her. Shyam was still home, he had left because he wasn't sure he could face her after what he had done last night, tracing her cool skin with his warm fingertips. What if she had felt him? He shook the thought from his head.
"What is wrong with you Arnav" he scolded himself.


In the evening he rushed home to see her, to check if she was okay. Walking through the house he had felt her absence downstairs and through the hallways, and was surprised to see his room empty. "Khushi!" he called.


"Yes, Arnav ji?" came a voice from the balcony.
He softened up, he wasn't expecting a response and what should he say now? 
"Are you okay?"

"Why wouldn't I be?" she replied, confused at his question "You know, normal people ask others how their day went, how they have been, what they have been up to? You know, normal questions"



It hit a nerve how she was behaving so nonchalant when he was trying to be serious with her.
"Khushi, look, it's not that I care, I thought maybe you would be worried because of him"


"Who?"


Arnav snapped up with anger, what was wrong with her. Here he was trying to show his concern.


"Khushi, I am not in the mood for jokes, you may not understand how to be serious but that does not mea..."


"Ohh" she said, slapping her forehead "You are talking about Shyam? Sorry sorry sorry, I thought you knew he left"


"Well, like I said, alot of things that you think ar... wait. What? He's gone"


"Yes, gone" she repeated as she walked up to him and grabbed his coat to take off. Arnav was still surprised at what she had said and so did not take notice as she slipped his jacket off and rounded up to loosen his tie. As her cold fingers brushed his warm neck he suddenly realised what she was doing.


"I got it" was all he was able to say as he grabbed his tie, prying it away from her fingers and walking in to the bathroom.


Khushi plopped on to the bed behind her "Devi Mayya, please don't tell me he has gone back to being a Rakhshaas again, cant he even have a normal conversation" she prayed, opening her eyes again, they flew open from shock as she saw him watching her through a gap in the door. She awkwardly looked around her, finding nothing worthy of an excuse and went running out of the door as fast as she could.
______________________


Arnav decided to go to bed before she came back into the room, he wasn't really tired but he didn't know how to act around her anymore, so he was delaying the inevitable.


Khushi looked around at the spotless kitchen that she had spent the last 3 hours organising and cleaning. Jai Prakash had looked on in surprise as she had refused to allow him to help. She needed to be busy so that it didn't look obvious that she was avoiding her husband, what was this weird feeling?. She jumped at the sight of dust next to the stove and rushed to clean it, only to find that her eyes were playing tricks on her. There was nothing she could do here anymore; she had to face him at some point.


Slowly opening the door to her bedroom she found Arnav sound asleep snoring lightly.
"He must be really tired"
She tip toed across the room, trying very hard not to wake him when she notice that he still had his socks on.
"Amma ji always said socks off before bed" she whispered, holding her finger in her mouth, thinking what the best next move was.
He didn't look like he was going to wake up any time soon so she crept up to him and took off his socks, leaving them in a pile next to the bed as she looked up at him.


If Arnav Singh Raizada was many things, handsome was definitely one of them. His jaw locked perfectly with the rest of his features, everything so perfectly arranged, no wonder women would flaunt themselves at him. He had it all. The looks, the riches, everything girls like 'that' wanted.


"And he is stuck with me" she wondered aloud. She was surprised that she felt that way, self conscience and even more surprised that she was sitting by his bed thinking about how handsome her husband was - well, if you could call him that.


Her clothes were dusty and her hair felt heavy after several hours of cleaning and lifting pots with flour, dough and spices.
"A quick shower is what I need" she yawned, heading out to the bathroom before slipping under the blanket to join Arnav in a soundless sleep.
She opened her eyes to find that it was morning, with a few rays of light piercing through the gap in the curtains. Arnav was gone, she didn't have to look to know. Feeling her day take a turn for the worse Khushi slumped up and went to freshen up in the bathroom. Black. She was going to wear black today, just because she never did, and she felt like she had woken up on the wrong side of the bed. Arnav was gone. She always liked to see him once before he left, even if it was just watching him sleep when she woke in the early hours of the morning, to know that he was okay, but he had just gone.
"This reflects my mood perfectly" she said to herself, staring at her reflection in the mirror whose paleness was intensified by the black shalwar kameez she wore. It was still stunning, with silver thread work around the sleeves and hem, it looked like something off of a fashion page. She fixed her scarf snugly around her neck and tied her hair in a messy pony tail high on her head, having given up her constant plaits after she had gotten married.


Arnav sat at his office table looking down at his workers below him. She used to be one of them, running around in her colourful dresses, unphased by the hate towards her from everyone else. She was so strong and positive, he smiled at the thought of her, thinking of earlier that morning when he had woken up thinking he had dew droplets on his face only to find Khushi sleeping like an angel near him, her wet hair sprawled on her pillow, flicking dampness at him when she turned. He looked down at his phone, thinking of calling her as he had done the day before. Lost in thought for a few minutes, he snapped out of it as his assistant asked him to check his emails for the presentation forwarded to him. Angry at himself for zoning out for so long, he looked down at his phone which had Khushi's number on display as he had been about to call her and he promptly shut his phone off. No distractions.
"Stop thinking about her man" he tried to motivate himself.
_________________________


Her long hair swayed behind her in its band as she made her way down to the breakfast table.


"Khushiji"


Khushi froze as she heard the voice behind her. She could recognise that voice anywhere, it gave her a run of chills down her spine. Closing her eyes without having turned around she starting chanting
"Please no Devi Mayya,, not again, please no, please no, no, no, no"


The hand that touched her on her shoulder made her eyes fly open in rage, she had not forgotten the last time she had heard that voice so she turned around pushing the hand off of her shoulder roughly as she rounded off to face Shyam.


"Dont touch me" she almost screamed, jumping a step back as she met his eyes.
"Again?" she accused.


Shyam just looked on at her, glowing in darkness, she looked amazing, like always. His eyes following her made her feel extremely uncomfortable as Khushi started shaking from the anger building up inside her. This much hate was new to her, she had never felt about anyone like this.


"Why are you doing this? I told you once, leave us alone"


"Us, Khushi ji, again?" he mimicked "why are you lying to yourself?"


"What do you mean?" she asked, outraged that he was playing her again.


"Khushiji, he is not good enough for you"


Khushi laughed out forcibly "Oh, and what you are" she mockingly retaliated, not realising what she was saying
"He is a thousand, no, a million times better than you, you don't even deserve a second look" she spat, trying to scar him as he had done her. He had a wife! What was he doing?


He was clearly hurt by her words, but he was deluding himself, she is just angry he thought, she doesn't mean any of it, she wants me, just like I want her, like I need her.


He smiled "So you are happy with him?" he mused, having seen the way they behaved with each other, cold and distant. Not like any other married couple, he knew his brother-in-law hadn't touched her yet.


"So much happier than I would have been had I said yes to you a few weeks ago, you are sick you know that? Absolutely SICK, I don't want to see your face so just LEAVE" she shouted, and with that she backed quickly out of the corridor as she watched Shyams face twist in anger.


Why was he back? He was supposed to have gone, why was he still here? A shaking Khushi made her way down to the breakfast table where she was met by the rest of her family, and she averted her eyes when Shyam walked in to the room, taking care to avoid him as much as possible.


"Khushi ji, I have some exciting news" Anjali chimed, as Khushi looked up from where she was sitting to see Shyam and Anjali smiling at her as the rest of the family looked on "I wanted Chote to be here too so I could tell you both at the same time but I can't hold it in!"


Khushi hesitantly smiled, knowing that this was probably what Shyam had come up with. She made sure to look at Anjlai, and only her as she was still embarrassed by her outburst at Shyam earlier.
"Yes, Arnav ji doesn't like surprises" she managed, trying to make a point of it.


Anjali looked over at Shyam with a smile on her face before turning back to Khushi "Shyams present to me this year is a week's trip to a hillstation"

(pick any pretty,snowy area, I don't know India well, sorry everyone)


Khushi tried her hardest to not allow her face to drop, she could sense what was coming.


"Guess who he also booked a room for?"


Khushi closed her eyes as Anjali's were still open from excitement.
"You and Arnavji !!"

Khushi's stomach dropped. God no! She faked a smile to Anjali as she continued rambling on about how much fun it would be for both pairs, as the family joined in and Shyam talked about the five star hotel he had booked and how much he had planned it, looking over at Khushi and finding her anxiety amusing.
She swiftly dimissed herself from the table a few minutes later, there was no way Arnav was going to agree to this. Nervously glancing at the clock, she decided she should call Arnav and talk to him about his. Whats more is that she wanted to mention how Shyam was behaving with her. Wasnt the whole point of letting Shyam off the hook that he was going to change, accept his mistakes, and regret them. Not continue his pursuit of her. Arnav needed to know that Shyam did not look like he was going to change any time soon and it was not safe to have Anjali around him. Khushi knew how much Arnav loved his Di. If anything were to happen to her...


Once, twice, thrice ... five times ... ten times.
His phone went straight to voicemail every time she called, and with every failing beep Khushi could feel her heart drop lower and lower. She needed to talk to him, seeing Shyam all of a sudden that morning had been a blow to her. She had thought he was gone, for a long time, not just a single day.


An hour later found Khushi still sitting next to her phone, dialling his number every few minutes. At this point she had almost forgotten what she was even calling about. She just wanted to hear his voice, why wasn't he picking up.
"What if he is deliberately rejecting my calls" she sighed, she was upset now and she could feel her throat tingling as her eyes threatened to start watering. It was more frustration than anything else.


"Khushi ji? Are you okay" asked a concerned Anjali who had walked in to find a worried Khushi.


"Y..yes Anjali Ji" she replied at the unexpected visitor.


Anjali upon seeing that Khushi was glum walked over to her and started to pull her towards the door
"C'mon Khushi ji, its time to go shopping for our trip"


"Whh..what?" Khushi replied, she hadnt had the heart to tell Anjali that they were not going to go, she didn't have a reasonable excuse. She needed Arnav, thinking about him again her face dropped.


"Look Khushi ji, I don't know why you are so upset, but a bit of shopping for lots of beautiful things might turn that frown upside down" she continued, as jolly as ever, as she dragged Khushi along behind her, leaving her phone, and her memories of Arnav sitting firmly back in their bedroom.


They spent the next few hours roaming the streets of Delhi, shopping their worries away. Anjali picked out a few very expensive and very beautiful dresses that she forced Khushi to buy. She was a part of their family now, their money was her money, she didn't have to feel bad about anything, she explained to her.
_________________________


Arnav walked back from his last meeting, settling himself in his chair and sighing as he looked at the time. 7 o clock. He would have to head home soon, she was home. He had been thinking about her all day, those eyes, those lips. Pulling his phone out of the front drawer of his desk and turning it on he jumped at the 27 missed calls he had received from his wife's number. Immediately pressing the call button he tried to reach her, cursing himself each second for turning his phone off. After his third attempt he threw on his coat and marched hurriedly out of his office building. He kept calling on his way, even forgetting to switch to his bluetooth headset as he began to drive away. Starting to panic he called his home number and froze as he heard a familiar voice at the end of the line.


"Hello?" came Shyams voice, piercing Arnavs feeling of worry and replacing it with anger.


He threw his phone sideways a second later and a heard a loud crack as it hit the window and fell to the bottom of the car. He didn't care what was happening, or whether Shyam was involved.

 He was going to kill him.




Part 11
Arnav  was driving as fast as the streets and traffic of Delhi would allow him when he heard his phone ringing, its sound muffled by the carpet on which it lay, a large crack breaking through its screen. Dammit - he thought, as he realised he would have to replace it again. He saw a flashing image of his sisters picture as her number appeared on the screen. Khushi had taken the liberty of assigning pictures to everyone in his contact book when she would get bored.

He thought of both his wife and sister as he slammed his foot on the brakes. He needed a solution, killing Shyam, as much as he hated it, was not the best one. Lost in thought, he closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on breathing and not breaking something else when he heard a tap and giggle by the window. Almost jumping out of his skin he opened his eyes to see his sisters smiling face standing outside his car. Khushi, was a few steps behind her, looking as though she could not be less interested that they had just caught her husband on the way home from their shopping trip.
"Chote, how lucky are we?" Anjali exclaimed through the window "we've just been shopping for our trip and we have so many HEAVY bags" making an exaggerated face "and now you've come, with this lovely spaaacioous car"

Arnavs eyes averted to Khushi as he took the bags from his sisters hands and placed them in the boot, when he was about to do the same to Khushi she snatched her hand away from him, muttering only "27!" angrily at him as she did.
Following having slammed the door to the boot close, Khushi rounded up to the back of the car and promptly placed herself in the back seat, taking care not to look into his eyes when he sat back in the car and watched her rather than the road on the entire drive home.

"What's this?" Anjali exclaimed, picking up the half broken phone from next to her feet as she was about to step out of the car. Khushi looked at the screen and then back at Arnav who was lost for words.
"He was so angry that he smashed his phone? And here was me thinking he might care just a bit"

"Khushiji, did you say something" Anjali asked, still clutching the cracked phone in her hand.
"Nothing of any importance to anyone" she huffed, indicating Arnav as she did.
With that, she hurried back inside, not even noticing Shyam sitting in the lounge and climbed the stairs to her room.

Arnav followed, only pausing for a second as he saw his brother-in-law sitting casually reading a newspaper in the lounge, he still didn't know what had happened to make Khushi behave like this.

"You're wearing black" he managed, after standing by the door for a few awkward seconds watching Khushi fidget around with what looked like almost a tonne of fabric.

"So" she snapped

"You never wear black" he claimed, closing his eyes as he realised that this is not what he was meant to be saying.

"Oh, so you acknowledge that I exist?" she sarcastically added.

"Khushi.."

"27!" she interrupted, angrily picking up a deep blue sweater and walking over to Arnav "27 calls, and you didn't pick up ONCE, and then you pretend like nothing has happened, you are never there, what's the point"

"The point to what"

Khushi's eyes flared in anger as she realised he was being the same distant, unresponsive man she had come to know. "Sorry, I forgot, you don't like to pay attention to anything that goes on with me, so here!" she said, shoving the sweater into Arnavs chest "pay attention to your holiday, which we are apparently having with your sister and her respectable husband!"

Arnav had had enough, he grabbed Khushi's arm that was holding the sweater to him and pulled her around so that he had her back up against the wall. The image facing his eyes threw him back to when he had saved her from a falling building, clutching on to her arm he quickly let go as he remembered the consequences from last time.

Khushi caught her breath from being cornered against the wall, she had forgotten who she had been talking to.

"What the hell are you talking about" Arnav asked, in a softer tone this time.

"Shyam, wants to take us all away for a week, he says its his birthday present to Anjali, but"

"but what?"

"Something still isn't right about him"

"Oh wow, genius interpretation there" he sarcastically commented, remembering  the night from earlier that week when Shyam had cornered Khushi in the kitchen.

"No, I really mean it"

"I know you do" he sighed, looking over at Khushi who was now nervously watching him "Did he say or do anything else?" he asked concerned.

Khushi thought, mightily quickly for the few second break she took from speaking. Yes, yes he follows me around, he corners me, he talks to me unnecessarily and something about him screams danger to me. He hasn't let me go, I can feel him holding on to something that never existed, he thinks he has something to do with me, like it's his responsibility to see where I end up, whether I am happy. But it's not even what I want, it's like he wants me to be happy with what he wants, he can't see reality, its blurred everything for him. I used to think maybe he was just a cheating scumbag and I had been the one he found to target, but now it seems like more. So much more. When I see him enter a room, I feel like walking out, when I see his eyes watch me, my instincts scream RUN.

"No" was all she said though, as she looked into her husband's worried deep brown eyes, he didn't need more torture. He just needed to know that Shyam wasn't safe, the extra detail was unnecessary.

"A holiday? What the hell is wrong with him?" Arnav thought "maybe he really wants to fix things"

"I doubt so, something isn't right about him Arnavji"

"Do you have any solutions?" He asked and continued when she just stared back at him "well, then stop throwing things at me, and I have told you before, stay away from this whole Shyam business, it has nothing to do with you" and with that he walked out of their room to talk to his sister.

Khushi sat in silence as she heard Arnav argue with an upset Anjali and a surprisingly quiet Shyam about how a trip was ridiculous at this time of year, there was no way he could get out of work, and he didn't want to go. The only point when Shyam interjected was when he suggested that Khushi could still come, why take the trip away from her? Anjali had agreed, but Arnav had put his foot down, staring angrily at Shyam as he clenched his jaw and said that Khushi would not want to go if he didn't.

A half an hour later, he came back into the room where Khushi was sitting crouched on the bed, having put away all of the things she had bought, he didn't say anything, just went to change and then turned the light off before dozing off to sleep with Khushi sitting, unstirred where she had been when he had first walked in.

It took a while for her eyes to adjust to the darkness, but when they did, she could make out the features of his face from the dim moonlight that filtered through the curtains. She felt a bit out of it, nothing was how she had hoped it would be, she didn't like the idea of Anjali being close to Shyam. Khushi loved Anjali, she was like an older sister to her, who loved her more than the rest of them would allow. She didn't want to see Anjali hurt.

"Arnav" she whispered, hoping to hear his voice.
"Arnav" she tried again, no response. "He is always so tired coming back from work"
Khushi slowly lowered herself onto her pillow, but found that she could not see Arnav's face, and she needed that strength, she felt afraid of the dark if she thought of loneliness so she removed the top pillow from the line that separated them and stared at him before she went to sleep.

Arnav woke up to find that his nose felt itchy, he scrunched it up, hoping to get rid of the tingly sensation and he froze when he felt something brush against it. Cautiously and very slowly opening his eyes, he found that Khushi's nose was brushing up against his and their faces lay less than a few inches apart. He didn't jump, or slip away. He just froze.
Her beauty astounded him, as always, but there was more of it today. He cared for her, and he finally found that he was admitting it to himself. She was so fragile, and he wanted to be there for her. Her words had hurt him yesterday. Whats the point. There was a point, a point to it all, and maybe he didn't yet know all that that included, he just knew that there was a point and that was enough for him.
Slowly raising his hand, he brushed away the few pieces of fly away hair that threatened to scratch at her skin. After a few minutes Khushi stirred in her sleep and opened her eyes to find Arnav staring at her from a point that was way beyond her normal comfort zone.
Her reaction was the same as his. Still.

Arnav didn't know what to do with himself so he just watched as she froze and then slowly started to look around the room, looking for some sort of explanation of why he was so close to her, and then she hesitantly, and what appeared to be reluctantly backed away.

"Urm, I.. I mean you..do you..are you.. work?" she mumbled, all in a rush.

Arnav sat up, aware of her reaction.
"Yeah, I have a really important meeting today, I should probably head out early and try and sort a few things out" he said, stringing together the few pieces of logic fluttering around in his brain.

"Ok"

On his way out he saw Anjali and Om Prakash loading luggage into a car. "What is this? This many bags?" he asked.

"Oh, Chote! Glad you are up, I am heading out with your Ji-ja ji, we thought not to delay too much before the heavy snowfall there and we don't want blocked roads, so we decided to head out earlier than planned"

"Oh" was all he said.

"Suuure you don't want to come with?" she cheekily asked.

Arnav stood firm after a few whines from his sister, he was adamant on not going, and as much as he loved his sister, she was not going to change his mind.
After her convincing session was over and she had given up, Arnav gave his sister a quick hug
 "Have fun and stay safe" he said, emphasising the latter.

"You too" she replied.

__________________________

Khushi sat staring at her outstretched fingers. 9, she counted. It had been 9 hours since she had last seen Arnav. What had happened that morning? They had never been so close. Well apart from the few times he had shouted at her in rage and almost bitten her head off. He had looked caring and loving this morning. Everything she had always asked for in a husband. Despite all her sorrows and grief's, she wondered what was so special about him, making her feel that sometimes this nightmare was more of a dream.

She snapped out of her little day dream when she heard her phone ring inside. Standing up from the poolside where she had had her legs dipped in the warm water she made her way inside. It was Anjali. She picked up the phone to hear a frantic voice reach her ears.

"Hello.. hello?"
"Anjali ji"
"Khushi ji, is that you"
"Yes, yes it's me, whats wrong Di?"
"Khushi I need you to get Arnav, now!"
"Anjali ji what is the matter, is everything all right"
"No" she almost cried "Nothing is all right, I need you to get Arnav, Khushi ji, as quickly as you can, please hurry Khushi"
"Anjali ji, please tell me what is wrong, I can call someone for you" she replied, worried as ever upon hearing the tone of her sister-in-law who sounded on the brink of tears.
"No Khushi, I need Chote, get Chote"
"Anja" beep. The tone dropped dead. "Anjali ji?" Khushi frantically redialled her number to find that there was no response.

"Oh Devi Mayya" she chanted "Please, keep Anjali ji safe, please" she pleaded as she tried dialling Arnavs number multiple times.
Throwing her phone down in frustration after she didn't get a response she went to grab her bag and picked her phone up on the way out. Trying to call both her husband and sister-in-law in turns as she headed out the door.


Part 12
Khushi tutted in frustration. Neither of them were picking up the phone.

"Please hurry" she ushered at the rickshaw driver. She would have taken the car but she decided that a rickshaw would probably get through the traffic quicker, and she was in a hurry.

"C'mon Arnav ji! Pick up "she pleaded at her phone.

It took her just over a half an hour to get to Arnavs office block. It was around five o clock now and traffic wasn't helping anyone. Walking around the building threw her into a fit of reminiscence. She had worked here, under Arnav, and he had been cruel to her, both of them, as stubborn as ever had fought as much as they could at their stance. They weren't so different now.
He was still ruthless, and she was still plain old Chamkili.

"Urgh I cannot believe I am back here!" she sighed to herself as she hurried up the steps. She almost shouted in frustration at the receptionist who refused to believe that she was Arnav's wife.

"You used to work here, I remember you, you both hated each other, I know this is just some sort of plot to ruin him" she revealed, making up a list of elaborate plans Khushi could potentially be carrying out in her head.

Khushi was getting frustrated "Please, you have to listen to me, I am his wife, and I need to speak to him, it is urgent, a family emergency"

"He has a very important meeting today, and he has asked us to not send any one in to see him"

"You think you need to tell me that?" she furiously presented "he told me about it this morning, WHEN HE WOKE UP NEXT TO ME, IN OUR ROOM"  and with that she stared to walk inside, ignoring the protesting receptionist who was sure she had just lost her job.

"Arnav Ji!" she called, as she walked into the main office area, it was almost deserted and that surprised her. Normally there would be a bunch of rushing workers, fearing for their jobs and their lives, working like ants. Realising that she didn't have all the time in the world to begin a search she called his number again. No response.

"27!" she shouted, as she looked at the number of times she had called him since earlier that afternoon "I HATE THIS NUMBER"

"Why are you shouting?"came a very familiar voice.

Khushi soothed down immediately and rounded up to face her husband who had a surprised expression on his face along with a few files in his hands. The look on his face sent Khushi into fits of anger again. He looked angry? After what she had just been through?

"Arrrghh you are impossible" she cried "look, look at this" she reeled, bringing her phone up to his face which clearly showed how many times she had just dialled his number and he had not picked up
"Oh" was all he said, quickly bringing his hands to his pockets, searching for his phone.
"I must've left it in my office drawer" before he had even finished his sentence, Khushi had sprinted up to his office, grabbed the already replaced, gleaming phone and rushed back to his side.

"We need to go."

"What the? I have to get this presentation ready. Have you lost your mind?"

"Arnav ji" she stammered.

"What?"

"You are not going to like this" she continued, cautious of his reaction.

"Spit it out already" he asked, annoyed now although he was glad to see her.

"Anjali ji called, she sounded really upset, and she told me to tell you that she needed you, she was almost crying, I'm really worried, I think she wants you to go get her, thats what it sounded like anyway"

The files Arnav were holding dropped from his hands as he grabbed Khushi's shoulders and shook her "You are telling me this NOW" he said furiously.

Khushi had not expected this to turn on her "I.. I tried calling" she managed, speaking through the pain in her arms.

"You should have called the office, told them to pass on the message" he looked down at her hand and took his phone from her.

"Ive..Ive tried her number, she won't p..pick up" Khushi said as she watched Arnav fiddle with his phone.

"Dammit Khushi, you can't do anything right" he said, grabbing her by the arm and dragging her out behind him towards the parking lot.

Khushi would have spoken up, it was only her nature. But she decided to let his one go. Arnav had more on his mind than just upsetting his wife, Anjali could be in real trouble. If Khushi had become so attached to this caring woman in just a few months, she could not even imagine the dread he must be feeling right now.

"Reschedule my meeting for tomorrow" he barked.

"Wh..what?" Khushi stammered, now sitting in the passenger seat as Arnav rounded up to take his seat. He looked angrily at her, and pointed at his ear where he had put in his headset.

"Oh"

"What do you mean this is an important meeting, you think I don't know that? Listen to me, you get paid to do your job so if I ask you to reschedule a meeting just bloody reschedule it" he shouted, throwing his headset in frustration behind him. That was the second thing he had broken in two days. He was going to have to start insuring everything he bought to avoid the hassle.

"I don't have time to drop you off anywhere" he shot at Khushi.

"We're driving there now? It will take us hours!"

"How many times must I tell you to keep your mouth shut when you do not have any better ideas, what do you suggest we do?" he angrily commented as he started the car.

Khushi just kept quiet, and they sat in silence for a while as Arnav drove recklessly fast, the only thing on his mind, his sister.

Twenty minutes later Khushi took out her phone and began dialling Arnjali's number again to no avail. She spent the next hour dialling her number every five minutes.

"She is not going to pick up, will you stop that racket" he said, annoyed at Khushi fidgeting with the charm on her phone.

"Do you have any better ideas?" she threw back at him, mimicking his response from earlier.

Minutes turned to hours as they drove in absolute silence. Somewhere after the third hour Khushi jumped as she heard her phone ring in her lap. Anjali.

She reacted like lightning "Hello? Di?" she almost shouted into the phone.
"Khushi ji? Where are you"
"Anjali ji, are you okay?"
"Where are you Khushi ji"
"I'm on my way there... we should be there in a few hours. Are you okay Anjali ji?"

"Give me the phone" Arnav insisted.
"Shhh" Khushi replied. "Anjali ji please let us know.."
"Who do you mean we? Is Chote with you?"
"Yes, yes, do you want to speak to him?"
"No, no I'm allright. I'm perfectly fine except that I am staying in a beautiful room, in a beautiful place and I am missing my brother and his dear wife"

Khushi froze. She was dead for sure. Arnav was still looking over at her impatiently, expecting her to hand over the phone any second. How could she have been this stupid. No, she thought to herself. Anjali was definitely not sounding allright when she called, this isn't a misunderstanding, Anjali did this on purpose! She gulped. She was in trouble now.
"Phone me when you get close so I can give you the directions"
"Anj.." the phone cut. Great.

Arnav was still looking at Khushi, despite the fact that he was driving.
"What is it? Is she okay, give me the phone DAMMIT"
"She turned it off" Khushi quietly replied.

"Is she okay?"
"Ahhh, urrmmm"
"Khushi!"
"Yes, she sounds calm now"
"What do you mean by that?"
Khushi stammered as she tried to think of what to say. If she told him Anjali was perfectly fine, he would go crazy thinking she just made him reschedule a very important meeting and leave work.
"She didn't say, I think you should talk to her yourself" is all she managed in the end.

As they continued to drive Khushi got more and more nervous. Playing with her fingers, she didn't know what to do so she ended up just staring out of the window, watching the scenery change slowly from towns to dreary forests that got cooler and cooler as they ascended. It slowly morphed, like watching the seasons pass, into beautiful snow covered trees. She had been so mesmerised by it all that she had not noticed her husband becoming more and more agitated in the seat next to her. When it started to snow Khushi started to smile. She loved snow, she seldom had the chance to enjoy it.

"WOW" she spoke up for the first time in hours as it started to snow heavily and she saw snowflakes hit the car window and melt away.

"You can think about that at a time like this?"

"Like what?"

"Di is out there, with that man and..." he stopped as they approached barriers in front of them and Arnav punched the steering wheel "What the hell"

Jumping out of the car he began to argue with the man that stood next to the block of concrete, they weren't letting people drive up during the storm because there had been road works and it was dangerous. Arnav looked like he might kill someone so Khushi said a small prayer to help her life and jumped out of the car to tell Arnav what she knew.

He felt a small tug on his sleeve and turned to find Khushi shivering in the snow"Get back in the car"
"I have to tell you something"
"Khushi, get back in the car, it can wait"
"No, listen to me" she protested. He turned annoyed at her persistence. "Anjali ji is fine, you don't need to worry so much, we can just head back"
"What do you mean" he asked through clenched teeth. Khushi could see his anger rising.
"Look, its not my fault, she wanted us to come up, so she called and she pretended to be in trouble"
"When did you find out?"
Khushi took a breath of cold air, she didn't want him to ask that.
"Eaar..lier"
"What?" he almost shouted "when she called? 2 HOURS AGO?"

Khushi flinched from his loudness "S..s..sorry, we..we should just go b..back"

"I'm sorry, but the storm tonight is very strong, the roads are blocked almost up to around 3 miles back, you should find a place to stay un till then"

Arnav did not take his eyes off Khushi as the man spoke. He was angry and he tried to control his breathing so that he did not take it out on her. Grabbing her arm he put her in the car and turned around to drive back. About 2 miles later they hit another barrier. So he turned around again.

"Driving in circles is not going to help anyone" she chimed.
"SHUTUP! This is all your fault, so just keep quiet"

"That is not fair, I have been quiet for almost 4 hours now, and this is not my fault, this is all your fault" she returned, not really thinking.
Arnav hit the brakes hard, leaving Khushi flying towards the windscreen. He held his arm out just before she hurt herself and she leaned against him, slowing herself down. He angrily grabbed her arm that was gripping his and placed it back by her side, leaning over her now so that they were very close, still clutching her arm tightly. He could see his breath fog up the window immediately behind Khushi.

Her breathing became ragged as she struggled to control her senses. He was close to her now, too close, like he had been this morning when they had both woken up. Just when he leaned in closer, so that his lips were barely centimetres away from hers, Khushi's breath hitched and she felt the door behind her give away as Arnav opened it. He held on to her so that she didn't fall back.
"There" he said, looking behind her.

"Huh?"

"A place to stay"


[THIS WAS THE SONG I WAS LISTENING TO WHEN I WROTE THIS PART SO I WOULD LOVE IF YOU GOT THE SAME FEELING AS I DID, PLEASE DO LISTEN TO IT IF YOU LIKE]

 Khushi turned around to see a glum little cottage sitting on the highest point of an uphill a few hundred metres past the road. It was surrounded by bare trees that looked heavenly alight in the sun hitting the purest snow. She quickly regained her composure and slid out of the car through the gap between the car and Arnavs arms.

They walked up to the cottage, shivering slightly as they had not come prepared for this weather and found that it was empty. The lock on the door was broken and it looked quite run down. Khushi could not have been happier, although she was slightly cold she loved the trees around her, it was all so beautiful.
Arnav, on the contrary was not too pleased. Walking into the cottage he started to complain, where are the bed sheets, the pillows, the towels? How was he to survive here for a whole night? Khushi's jolliness annoyed him yet at the same time he found it mesmerising. She walked up to the empty fireplace, running her hand along its cobbled lining.

"It's so beautiful" she murmured.
Arnav rolled his eyes "I'm getting my phone from the car, there must be a power outlet here somewhere" he complained.
Khushi giggled to herself as she wondered how funny it would be when he returned to find there were no power lines running to the place. Suddenly remembering that he had a reason to be angry with her she ran out after him, she didn't need an even more pissed off Arnav.

Arnav was about to go to the car when he thought he should check for sockets before he made a fool of himself. He turned around to see Khushi standing by the door looking inwards as a clump of snow fell from the roof of the thatched cottage on to her shoulder and watched as she froze and contemplated.

She turned around smiling "So you want to play that game?" she smirked, picking up a handful of snow and squeezing it together.
Arnav didn't have enough time to react before he saw a ball of snow flying towards him, hitting him square in the chest "What the..?"
Khushi started laughing as Arnav just stared on, what was wrong with her. He didn't have anything to change into. Khushi's laughter stopped as another piece of snow fell onto her head from the roof.

Her smile disappeared "Oh" she could see Arnav begin to shake, whether it was from cold or anger she could not tell but she did not want to take the risk so she marched over to him and held her ears "sorry, sorry Im so so sorry, I .. I saw the... and I thought... wrong... I thought wrong.. hmm" when he did not react she picked up another clump of snow and placed it in his hands "hit me back, make it even then" she ordered.

"Are you crazy? Why would I do something like that?"
"I don't mind, it's just snow, I feel bad, I ruined your suit"
Arnav dropped the snow he was holding and turned around "You're being stupid"
He began to walk away and stopped when another snowball hit his back and he heard her giggle.
"Snowball fighting is natural, if you decide not to hit me back, that is your choice"

Arnav smiled at her childlike behaviour. He wouldn't let her see it though. Turning around he picked up some snow "You really want me to throw this at you?"

"If you can get me" she teased.
He lazily threw the snowball and watched as she dodged it quickly and hit him back with one. "Thats three to zero now" she shouted, smiling up to her eyes, forgetting all the worries in the world.

Arnav watched her, he liked her better this way he realised, when she was happy, and smiling and having fun. Picking up another snow ball he ran after her throwing it at her so that it hit her square in the back. "Aaahh, it is so cold" she screamed, throwing one back "Four and only one to you" she counted.
Arnav laughed out "You really think you can beat me at this?"
"I know I can beat you at this" she replied.

He ran after her, throwing snowball after snowball till she was almost dripping wet. They were both shivering as she threw them back at him. He was standing near her when he threw another one and the force of it threw her backwards so she held on to his arm dragging him down with her. She landed softly in the snow with him falling on top of her, laughing as they did and stopping as soon as they realised how close they were.
He stared right into her eyes, they were both shivering. She let her arms drop down to her sides in the snow as his heavy breathing warmed her.
"You win" she whispered lightly.

He watched her lips move, angel like against the snow, damp hair sprawled beneath her and he felt himself being drawn in. He forgot about their circumstances, he forgot what had got them there, all they had been through, all that was still between them, all the hate, the confusion, the misunderstandings, he forgot everything as he leaned in towards her and pressed his lips against hers.



Part 13
This was the song I was listening to when I wrote it, have a listen if you want as you read.





They lay in the cold, white snow, lips pressed against eachothers. Khushi had gasped and closed her eyes from the shock of his touch and she lay still, shivering slightly from the cold and clutching at the snow beneath her as he brought his hand up to cup her face. Her hands were freezing and they felt almost painful at her sides.


Her lips felt soft as his felt warm.


Snowflakes landed on her face, melting against her warmer skin and running down her face. He felt her breathing heavily beneath him, the life within her causing her chest to rise up and down, his hand had found its way to her hair where it was entangled in its silkiness.

The moment was bliss.

Arnav had never thought that kissing someone could be this wonderful. He had never wanted someone so badly before in his life. He kept his lips locked with hers, holding his weight up slightly on his elbow so as to not crush her as she slowly raised her hands to put one around his neck and bury the other in his hair, pulling at it lightly, and ruffling up his usually neat hairstyle, his touch was taking over her.

The cool touch of her fingers against his neck drove him crazy as he started to kiss her more intensely, needing her, as though the ground beneath them would give away if he let go.

When she felt like she could not breathe anymore she felt his lips let go of hers and she almost whimpered, craving for him to touch her like that again. Cautiously and slowly, she opened her eyes to see that Arnav was still only a few centimetres away from her, eyes closed, breathing heavily so she could feel his warmth on her cheeks. His jaw was clenched and he slowly brought his head down so that his forehead was now resting on hers, shivering at the cool touch of her skin against his as the storm around them pushed on.

It took all his self control to not kiss her again, but he stopped himself. Khushi saw that her hands were around his neck and in his hair so she slowly let them drop back down to her sides into the snow, her cheeks growing a rosy shade of pink from both the cold and embarrassment. The loss of her touch caused Arnavs eyes to flow open.

She was looking at him, so innocent and beautiful, with eyes wide open.

"Khushi" he said, amazed at his own ability to speak through the wild mix of emotions that were running through his body.

"Ji" she breathed, after a long pause.

He closed his eyes, with his forehead still leaning against hers. What did you say after a moment like that? He was still breathless and fighting against the urge to touch her again.

"Are you cold?" he asked, with his lips brushing against hers as he spoke.

"Huh?" Khushi managed, glancing around to remember where she had been. Her eyes fluttered as some of the snow from the storm threatened to fall in her eyes. She felt then the wetness beneath her as she lay in the snow which had drenched her dress.

"I think so"

"You think you're cold? Don't you think you could make a decision?"

It amazed her that he still had it in him to say something rude, after what they had just experienced. But there was something very different about his tone this time, it was kind.
"Aaah..cho" she softly sneezed, the tip of her cold nose still in contact with Arnavs. He opened his eyes again and slowly lifted himself off of her, hating the loss of contact and sitting up in the snow, looking lost in thought before standing up slowly and walking back to the car to grab his phone charger.

Khushi didn't move as he left, sneezing again in the few seconds after he had gone. Wait a minute, did he just kiss her and walk away? Her legs felt non existant, she wanted to get up and go into the cottage because she was freezing down to her bones, but she couldn't move. So she just lay in the snow, staring up at the sky that was pouring down on her softly.

This man was going to drive her crazy.

Little did she know that less than a hundred meters away, Arnav stood, leaning with his arms on the hood of his car to support his weight. Trying to control his breathing, he gulped in for air, struggling to take it in as he could almost feel his legs turning to jelly. He wanted to run back to her and kiss her senseless, and he found holding back the hardest thing in the world.

This woman was going to drive him crazy.





Part 14
After a while taking in the cold air around him and controlling his heart rate, Arnav decided he needed to get back. Twirling the lead of his phone charger in his hand, he headed back out towards the little cottage.

On his way he saw that Khushi was still lying in the same spot as where she had been when he had kissed her, not making an effort to move at all. He didn't want to face her because he had no idea how he should act, but he realised that she would get ill laying out in the snow for too long so he walked over to her and awkwardly held his hand out which she reluctantly took and allowed him to support her weight as she stood up.

"They're just legs, you can control them, c'mon Khushi, you can do this" she chanted to herself as she very slowly made her way up to the cottage, Arnav quickly moving in front of her avoiding eye contact.
He shouldn't have lost control like that, he wondered what she was thinking as he heard her struggle through the snow behind him.

Walking in behind him she saw that he had positioned himself in the only single sofa that was placed next to the fireplace. It looked so soft and comfy, but it was taken up so she sat down on the bed, crossing her knees and using her scarf to cover herself as she started to shiver from the cold that she had just begun to feel.

He watched for a while, not speaking up because he knew he could do nothing to fix the cold she was feeling. There was hardly anything in the room.
Suddenly she looked up to see him staring at her in the eyes, and feeling her cheeks begin to burn she hastily looked away again. Great, now she couldn't even look her husband in the eyes.

Arnav thought he was about to lose his mind as her cheeks flushed with colour and she bit down on her lips. The same lips that he had furiously kissed not long ago. He stood up with the intention of walking over to her when he heard an awful song start ringing from behind him.

Khushi jumped from the sound of her ringtone and ran over to the table behind where Arnav was standing to pick her phone up. It was Anjali again, calling to ask where they were, they should be close now, where they lost.

"No" she coughed, clearing her throat as she had not used it in a while "No, Anjali ji, we aren't lost, we got caught up in the storm, they've closed off the roads, you are lucky you got through."

"Are you guys okay? Oh Gosh, I feel so bad, I shouldn't have made you come."

"We're okay Anjali ji, we found a small cottage for the night and we'll leave in the morning when the roads clear up."
Khushi shuddered as she saw Arnav walk over to her, holding his hand out, demanding to speak to his sister without actually using words.

"Di, Arnavji wants to speak to you."

She almost choked on the other side of the line "No, no Khushi ji, I'm allright, I know he will be cross with me, I will speak to him when he gets here, hopefully when he isn't as angry as I think he is now. He does crazy stuff when he is angry or frustrated."

Khushi thought back to their kiss out in the snow "Yeah, I know."

"I'm putting the phone down now, goodbye Khushi."

As she heard the flat tone, she looked up at Arnav and shook her head to indicate that she wasn't on the line any more, and she shivered again.

He looked at her, thought for a second and decided that he couldn't just let her freeze to death.
"We should get the fire running."

Khushi looked over to the almost empty fireplace to hide her cheeks from his view and saw a little run down box of matches lying on the floor next to it "We are going to need something to burn" looking around the room to find nothing"some dry wood maybe?" she gulped, not knowing how to act.

"Excuse me?"

"Dry wood" she repeated, wondering why he was confused.

"Arnav Singh Raizada, collecting dry wood?" he said incredulously, when she didn't show the reaction he had expected he sighed "Fine, I'll see what I can do."

Khushi looked up in shock as he started to walk towards the door "And leave me alone?" she exclaimed "Here? In the dark?"

Arnav pointed at a lantern behind her which looked like it could offer no more than a faint glow in the corner of the room. Khushi looked back at him, not persuaded at all by his feeble attempt at comforting her.

"I'll come with you."

Arnav only looked at her and decided against arguing, he didn't have the heart to. He would be lying if he said he didn't want her to.
The sky looked dark outside apart from the full moon that reflected light in all its glory across the white snow that reflected it right back into the atmosphere, casting an eery glow on the ground. The stars were unusually bright and Khushi almost jumped from excitement, her love for the stars was something he was very aware of.

"WOW ! Look how many of them there are" she exclaimed as he only nodded in response.

On their way past the cottage into the woods Khushi and Arnav both looked at the small dent in the snow where they had shared a moment just under an hour ago causing Khushi to go bright red again, she was glad he wasn't looking. It was still snowing, but Arnavs presence around her made her feel strangely warm, and safe.

"It sure is cold"

Arnav kept his eyes in front of him, not wanting to turn around and reveal his face to her as he was sure she would see right through him that way. If he spoke, his voice would be calm, reassuring, and he couldn't let her feel that part of him, so he kept speaking as limited as possible as she talked about how soft the snow was, how beautiful the sky was, how scary the woods looked, like something out of a movie, her feet were cold, sinking in the snow, her shoes weren't fit for this kind of walking, everything was wet, why was everything wet?

"Its snowing, of course it is going to be wet" he shot at her, attempting his best rude voice.

They collected a few pieces of stray wood in silence, finding it difficult to find anything even remotely dry in this weather and the darkness. "This is useless"Khushi expressed after a long time searching with only a scarce supply of burning material at their hands.

Arnav turned around to look at her "So go back then."

She only looked at him crossly "I am not going back alone."

"So then stop complaining."

She was angry that he had gone back to being same old Arnav again. He had kissed her, so softly, in the snow, like he loved her, like he was in love with her. And then he went back to pretending she was just a nuisance in his life again. The thought hurt a lot more seeing as she felt that she really did care for him now, more than their relationship would allow. She wanted him to want her. But wanting Arnav to feel something was hopeless she decided. She waited for a few minutes to see if he would say anything to make her think it was worthwhile, but when he just continued walking ahead of her, trying to look for wood, she dropped whatever little she had collected and turned on her heel angrily, trying to put as much distance between him and her as possible.

It was unfair, she had been thrown into this marriage just like he had. At first, she knew he blamed her, but after seeing Shyam surely he should have found out that she didn't have anything to do with it? What had happened to his sister had not been her fault. So why was he so cold?

She rethought that, thinking of their kiss. Not just cold. Hot and cold. She slowly raised her fingers to her lips, tracing where he had touched her. She had never been kissed before, not by anyone, not on the lips anyway. She didn't feel angry that he had done it, quite the contrary, but now she was just confused.

"Oh" she whimpered, bringing her hands to her head, all this thinking was giving her a headache, normally she would just speak it all out. Looking around her, she dropped her arms in surprise. Where was she? She had just been marching aimlessly and now all around her she saw the same white woods, spreading out as far as she could see. Just what I needed ' she thought, as she started to quickly run around and find her way back.

He had been thinking so deeply about the way that she felt under him that it took him a while to notice that she was being awfully silent. Turning around to see no one, he called out for her to hear silence in response. "Shit."
He followed his footsteps in the snow that were rapidly being covered in a fresh layer the storm was bringing to find a small pile of wood where her footsteps stopped. He mentally cursed himself for not paying attention to her, he tried walking back to the cabin which he found in no time seeing as they had been wandering in circles. Taking a moment to compose himself and remind himself to control his anger he stepped inside to find it empty. "Khushi!"

He dropped the wood on the floor in front of the fireplace and looked around for her from the front of the cottage. She was no where to be seen, and he couldn't see any footprints back. An image of a shivering Khushi flashed his mind as he remembered that she didn't even have a sweater on. He waited for a minute, praying that she would walk in any moment but he began to worry when she didn't.

With one last convincing look back into the cottage he ran out into the night to find her.


Part 15
He called her name out to no avail, hearing his own voice sink into the snow beneath him and quiet out, hearing nothing back. He didn't know whether she might have headed back to the cottage, but going back was not a risk he was going to take because she might be out there, and he couldn't waste any more time than he had. "Khushi! Where is this girl"

As he shivered through his suit that was wet from the snow he thought of her, she could not have gone far, she was already so tired from searching for wood. Leaning his painfully cold fingers against a tree to his side he stopped to take it all in. He couldn't see more than a few meters ahead of him through the blizzard but he pushed on, hoping he would find her.

He had had enough of himself, he hated the guilt he felt when something happened to her because of him. There was only one person that had ever made him feel that way, and that was his sister. This was new to him.

"Khushi!"

"Ar..rna..v" she whispered through her frozen lips, she tried calling out louder as she heard him getting closer to her but breathing in was so painful, she could hardly make a sound. "A...rnav...ji" she tried again, no louder than before. She was slumped with her back against a tree, her arms fallen by her side, paralysed by the cold as every muscle in her body shook.
She had wandered around in what had felt like circles for so long that her bones had given up on her, the thin material draped around her was clinging to her skin from the wetness and the storm blew at it, piercing her like knives. She wanted his warmth. She closed her eyes as a single cold tear made its way down her face and felt like it froze to her skin.

Thats when he saw her, lying almost lifeless against a tree. If it wasn't for her fragile form shuddering as she tried to breathe in, he would have mistaken her for dead, with the blood drained from under her skin and her lips flushed of all colour.
His legs shook as he ran over to her, worried that she wasn't able to breathe, taking her hand in his. It was ice cold.

"Khushi!"
The warmth from his hands caused her eyes to flutter open. Her only reaction was a small smile.
"Dammit Khushi" he spoke softly, with a voice that almost broke. He was so relieved that he had found her, he would have searched all night through the storm and cold had he not.

"I..lo..s...sss...t ...mm..m..my...w..a...aay" she shuddered, trying to use her arms to sit up straight.

"You're freezing" he murmured, raising his hand and touching her cheek where he lightly stroked it and brushed off the snowflakes from her skin that were stealing her warmth. She was safe, that is all that mattered to him.

"I...I...was..wal..lkkking...i..in...circless" she took a second to take a sharp breath in "I..didnt  ... me..me.mmea an.. to...so..sorryyy"

"Shhh" he whispered as she continued to chatter through the cold, this was his fault, for not looking out for her, for letting his barrier get in the way of keeping her safe. He grabbed her arm and looped it around his neck, placing his arms under her back and knees and picking her up with ease.
She was constantly whispering something incoherent through her shivering as he walked back the way he had come, feeling the coolness from her skin radiate through his clothes where she was touching him.

He pushed up against the door to the cottage and gently placed her on the bed before going back to use the matches to light the flimsy lantern in the corner and gather what little firewood they had collected to set it alight, shaking from cold as he did. The heat and light from the fireplace felt heavenly. He looked back to see Khushi desperately trying to warm herself up with her hands, but she was getting no where.

She was surprised when he lifted her up again, she had a headache from the cold and had her eyes shut close. He sat down on the single armchair, having placed it nearer to the fire and let Khushi lie across him with her head rested on his shoulder and the rest of her across his lap. He watched her quickly fall asleep as the heat gradually brought the colour back into her skin, and eventually her lips stopped quivering.

He let his eyes drop too, resting his head softly on hers as she lay in his arms.




I was playing this song when I wrote this part, it sets the mood so do listen to it if you can !

He was standing in front of her, with a smile on his face. Wow ' she thought, Arnav Singh Raizada smiling? And that too at me?
She walked up to him, feeling different and elated "What is it?"

"I was just thinking about how much I love you" he said.
Khushi stopped in her tracks, did she just hear him right? She froze for a moment, and then the look of shock disappeared from her face and changed into one of happiness, a broad smile stretching across her face.

She ran the remaining distance between them and lunged herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck, feeling his warmth, feeling his heart beat under his chest. He held on to her weight around her waist as she lifted herself up to his ears and whispered "I think I love you too."

He laughed, from his soul, as he twirled her around, her feet brushing the stems at her side "You think so?" he whispered in her ear as her hair flew around them.

She only smiled and looked up at him as he slowly placed her down, still holding on to her waist.

Poppies, in the largest field she had ever seen, surrounded them as she stared up at her husband's face. It started to rain through the sunshine, only very slightly, so that she could feel the water droplets lingering in the air around them.

I could live like this forever.

He took one hand away from her waist and bent to his left to pick up a particularly bright poppy, holding it back out to Khushi so that its petals grazed both of their faces. She released his neck and grabbed the poppy in both hands. It was so soft, so beautiful.

"Thank you"

"You like it?"

"I love it!"

Arnav looked at her smirking "So you can say you love a poppy, but you can't say it to the man who gave it to you"

She looked down at the flower "Maybe the man hasn't earned it yet" she joked, looking up and almost stopped breathing from dread.

Shyam.
Standing with his arm around her waist. She screamed and pushed him away, dropping the poppy to the ground as she did. What was going on? The air felt humid and suffocating and the clouds seemed to cover every ray of sunshine that had warmed her heart just a second ago. He looked angrily at her as he raised his arm, holding something "You have done me wrong Khushi ji."

A gun shot rang through the air. Khushi felt the pain before she heard the shot, gripping her chest. The pain was deep inside, it was thawing at her heart, ripping it to pieces. Looking down she saw that her hazel coloured dress bore no marks. It was still a pure single colour, matching her eyes and so she waited till the pain seeped away.

Looking up she saw Shyam standing with a gun pointed straight at her, smoke swirling from its barrel. The poppy Arnav had handed her was floating in the air just above her hands, about a foot away from her. She reached out for it, seeing that it was wet with something that matched its own colour.

As soon as she touched it, it started to drip with blood, shrivelling at the corners staining her fingers with the warm fluid.

She felt him behind her even though he was silent still. Turning around she saw Arnav, standing strong with a smile on his face.
Shyam was gone.
Khushi took a few steps to close the distance between them. She didn't know what was going on, she wanted him close to her.

It started pouring out from his chest, soaking through his white button down shirt under his suit jacket but he showed no reaction, he just stood until his front was drenched in blood.
Suddenly he was so far away. Khushi screamed his name as she ran towards him, the pain in her chest was back, it was different this time. It was the pain of loss.
Darkness loomed around her as she sprinted, the voice of his ragged irregular breathing loud in her ears. She wasn't getting any closer.

"Khushi, I love you" he whispered, still smiling as she ran with all her strength, finally falling to the ground.

"NO!" she screamed, over and over again as she watched him collapse, breathless as she kept on running, crying through her shouts and trying to get to him. She could hear him breathing, so loudly, like a drum right next to her ears against the eery silence of everything else.

It stopped.
And then he was gone.
She dropped to the ground,
Surrounded by poppies.
Defeated.
It was all gone.
Her life was over.

It was all silence.



Hello Guys :) That is the first half of this story for you ! I really hope you liked it and will read on further as well. Here is the link to Post # 2 with Parts 16 - 29 Please do leave likes and comments below to let me know what you thought of it. All types of criticism are welcome. Love Love, Hayley <3



Banner by Ammie-

17 comments:

  1. Please please please continue this story!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello anonymous :) I will get the rest of it up as soon as I find the time to compile it :) Thanks for the comment xx

      Delete
  2. Yes very good! You should continue this great story

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Anonymous number 2 ! Thanks for the comment, I am glad you liked the story, I will get part 2 up when I can :)

      Delete
  3. Lovedddddddd this!! You should def continue!! I am like desperate to read more!!! Lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, glad you liked it ! I will put it all up on my blog when I get the time, editing the text out to make it look okay takes FOREVER, so sorry about the wait dear :)

      Delete
  4. All. . . I can Say. . .
    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. OMG, my heart just sank :( Please continue soon!!! And it was very good. You've done great job with your fanfics :D Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Iqra, sorry about being lazy but will try and get the next parts up on my blog soon, the editing on here is such a nightmare, it takes forever !

      Delete
  6. OMG OMG please please continue U said u would so please PLLZZZZ update the Part 2

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh gosh, yes I did didn't I, I'll start putting it together now ! Sorry about the incredibly long wait !!

      Delete
  7. LOL I just started part 1 today and I read parts 1 to 15 all in one go. Love the story and you write superbly :) Love Arnav and Khushi in the show and in your story =D

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow this was awesome. You sure have a flair for writing, plz don't stop ever and a personal request plz don't stop writing on Arshi even though the show has ended now. I know its weird but the old episodes and these beautiful stories r my only solace and i can't imagine myself without theses atleast in near future :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is awesome story..I was searching for some fanfics on google and came across ur story. As i started reading it, i culdnt stop myself from reading on n on...Completed it in one day..awesome story..
    IF: Nooro

    ReplyDelete
  10. “I have met matins five (5) months ago and I felt since the very first moment this
    is the love of my life. The first month he was indifferent to the situation even I
    felt he was behind all women except me. I asked myself: Does he know that I exist?
    I was feeling terrible about this because deep in my mind I knew he was the right
    person for me. My friend, Julia told me: There is this africa aduga he can help
    me. I was skeptical at the beginning to be honest because I never believe in these
    types of things. I decided to contact aduga and he was very sweet, and he knew also
    that matins was meant to be my soul mate. he sent me a Love Spell that worked in
    3days he invited me to dinner, then to the disco, then to the theater…..now he is
    just mine!! Thank you so much!!! this is the email of the spell caster
    adugasolutiontemple@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete

Hello :) Please do drop by a comment and like, I love them :)