Jake Morent

Ghosts of the Past

11 posts in this topic

(Continued from here

 

Jake ran, light feet padding on the forest floor...a stamina inside him that was unbreakable as he followed his friend. He had chased after her as fast as he could, but she hadn't stopped - probably hadn't even seen him - as she headed not towards the school but the forest. He had lost sight of her now. He didn't know where she had gone to. But his feet carried him all the same, taking steps that he'd taken many times before, going towards the place where somewhere in his heart he knew that he would find her. Deeper and deeper the boy went, away from people, away from noise, away from tournaments and anything that could harm them.

 

Grace had been crying when she'd ended up back in the stands...she'd needed to be held in her mother's arms. It had been hard to see his friend like that...so hurting and broken. It hurt Jake when she cried...maybe sometimes frightened him deep down. She was as strong as anybody he knew, but sometimes he knew she felt things as strongly as he did. Maybe they were a lot alike that way. But what she had felt when Silas had looked at her was something different. It was the sight of that that had scared Jake the most. He hadn't had to be up close to know. It was something that was burned into his brain.

 

Maybe because he'd seen her cry, but as long as Jake had ever known her...through all they'd been through...he'd never seen Grace run away.

 

Jake slowed down as he got closer to the bowtruckle grove where they had spent so many peaceful afternoons last year, and continued silently. Birds chirped, the wind whistled...and sobs sounded through the spring breeze. As he got closer, peering through the trees, he saw her. She was sitting there...huddled down in tears...looking as small as Jake had ever seen her. He remembered standing, holding a stuffed lion in a dark common room, staring at a broken girl sniffling on a couch as she stared down at scars the school had given her. Jake stepped closer towards the clearing. His foot broke a tree branch. 

 

Grace spun up, her face panicked, and then in a flash Jake was looking at the point of her wand. The boy stood, unmoving...a small figure with big eyes that met hers and didn't look away. 


Edited by Jake Morent

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Grace's flight had been instinctual. It was not the 'Run, Hide, Fight' drill she'd been taught as a child, but more primal. There was no strategy to it. She was frightened and she ran. 

 

As she ran, bursts of recent memory flashed into her mind overlaid with other far more violent memories that she had long repressed. She ran in Diagon Alley and they cut her down. She ran in Hogsmeade but the evil found her just the same. Blood. Blood and Fire. That wasn't now. Part of her brain knew it wasn't now, but another part told her to run just the same. She couldn't look at Silas. She couldn't face him. It was impossible to resolve the Silas she knew with the new information she'd just experienced. She wouldn't do it. She refused. 

 

Gradually the forest became tangible around her. For a moment this became a trigger for new fears, but the voices didn't come. It was only forest, dark and forbidden, but the home to kindly creatures as well. And so it was that she found her feet taking her to the bowtruckle grove where she has spent so much time with Jake during their internship. The Wiggentrees. She would be safe if only she got to the Wiggentrees.

 

Once there, Grace collapsed. She lay down in the sweet detritus of the forest floor and wept. She knew nothing else until a breaking branch alerted her of another's presence. Grace spun into action, drawing her wand as she leapt to her feet.

 

For a moment they both stood there silently. Grace staring at Jake down the length of her wand. Jake staring back at her. Eventually Grace sat down hard, her wand still in her hand. 

 

"T-tell me it's you," she said weakly, all the fight drained from her. Evil Silas was one thing, but Grace didn't want to live in a world where such things as evil Jakes existed. 


Edited by Grace Foster

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The silent standoff lasted but a moment. Though Grace’s wand pointed at him, ready to blast, Jake didn't flinch. He only stared at her, unblinking, until the wand was lowered and she sat down on the forest floor. In seconds, he was knelt in front of her.

 

"It's me....O'course it's me...” Jake obliged quietly. “Who else could I be…?” he asked, not understanding.

 

He would give anything to know what she was looking at – what those wild eyes had thought they saw. Jake sensed that it was something that only Grace COULD see – a struggle through which nobody else could help her. Whatever she was grappling with it was something far worse than losing a game, or even the betrayal of a friend. She was locked in some personal hell, and he didn’t know how to get her out.

 

Jake moved slowly, so as not to further prod her frazzled nerves. Little by little, he reached out, still meeting her eyes. Delicately, he took Grace's hands in his. They were cold…he squeezed them gently.

 

“Grace…” the small boy said softly, his voice practically a whisper, his eyes a silent plea. “Grace…What’s wrong…?”

 


Edited by Jake Morent

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"It's me....O'course it's me...Who else could I be…?”

 

That was just it though. Anyone could be anyone. Grace knew all too well the various means one could use to disguise one's appearance. Then there were the glamours. This person might not look like Jake at all. It could be Grace who had been altered to think so. She could be confounded. Or perhaps Jake was here after all, but he was being controlled. For didn't it make some sense that Silas was being controlled? He could have been under the imperious curse. Hadn't that been used in a Tri-Wizard championship once? Grace seemed to recall it had been, but the circumstance was very different. Who would benefit from Silas attacking Grace? No one, unless it was Silas.

 

But why anyone would choose to control Jake now Grace couldn't imagine. It certainly looked and sounded like Jake. As he crept closer Grace shuddered, but he was so slow and careful, so much like Jake trying to win over a wild animal, that when  he slowly extended his hand she took it.

 

Jake squeezed her hand and the panic subsided, at least a little.

 

“Grace…Grace…What’s wrong…?”

 

'Silas," Grace answered immediately. "Silas is all wrong. He--- Did you see him? He hurt me Jake. It was--it was like he was someone else."

 

 

 

 


Edited by Grace Foster

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It hurt to see the fear in Grace's eyes when she looked at him...the way she shuddered when he came close. She was afraid of HIM...of all people. How could she be...? The weariness in his friend's eyes made Jake want to cry too, but he wouldn't. He'd be strong. He didn't let go of her hands...so familiar to the touch. It was weird with the two of them...Sometimes they didn't even HAVE to speak. Sometimes they just knew what the other one was thinking. When Jake was afraid...when he was hurting...he'd only need to meet her eyes for a second. 'I need you,' Jake's eyes would flash. Grace would squeeze his hand: 'I'm here.' 

 

Grace always knew what Jake was thinking when he needed her. He hoped she would know now too...now when she needed him. Maybe silent language could let her know more than any words could. Jake's touch was delicate, his thumb gently brushing her knuckles. He gave her hands one more squeeze...to let her know that it was him. To let her know...'I'm here.'

 

"Silas is all wrong. He--- Did you see him? He hurt me Jake. It was--it was like he was someone else."

 

"Someone...else...?" 

 

Jake thought about it. He had sensed it a long time ago...that Silas maybe had the capacity to hurt. There had sometimes been a coldness in the older boy that Jake had seen - something that nobody else ever seemed to - that had been hard for Jake to forget. But then there'd be warmth as well...The boy who talked of hunting down criminals one day with his steely gray eyes was the same boy who wrapped Jake in a flag and told him to stay strong...who had talked to Jake on the mirror when he was at his most frightened and told him that they would be ok. All of those were Silas. But this wasn't. Because maybe Silas would hurt somebody but he'd never hurt his friends. The Silas that Grace had told about didn't sound like Silas at all. Not the same Silas that watched over his team no matter what...and would do the same for his friends. 

 

Maybe Grace was right...maybe it was some impostor. Jake hoped so. If it was...then Silas hadn't betrayed them. Betrayed Team Death Tower and everything it stood for...by betraying the people that mattered most just to win a game. Betrayed Grace...and hurt her. But if he wasn't Silas...

 

"I know...I saw him, I...I was so confused...'cause it...it wasn't something he'd ever do. But...but who was he then?" Jake asked, feeling a chill run through his body. "I mean...if he wasn't Silas....then...who? When you um...when you went to him...what did he...I mean...well, um...What did you see...?" Jake asked her quietly. 

 

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Grace grew uncomfortable as Jake expanded on what she'd said.

 

"I didn't say he was someone else, only that he was acting like someone else," Grace corrected.

 

"I dunno..." As her panic subsided Grace began to doubt what she had seen. Clearly she had over-reacted. She didn't know why she thought of Death Eaters for instance. That was such a long time ago, and had nothing to do with this. She didn't see any reason to dwell on it. She thought she had moved on.

 

"Well, you heard what me mam said," Grace said quietly. "She said Silas just wanted to win." She frowned with the effort of crediting it. Although clearly the task was designed with cut-throat competitors in mind. Why be so surprised that someone actually followed through on the competition as it was intended?

 

"I guess it was easy to trick me," Grace said after a pause. "He said...something about how I couldn't have known that leaving you would... you know, get you eliminated.  Only I shoulda known. I felt... Well, I was upset..." Grace closed her eyes. She could still see flashes of what had happened. Silas, so serious and comforting. His chest, as she laid her head against him. The twisted smile on his lips as she cried out in pain. His face over her. Those eyes, so cold, and unnatural. Grace shuddered, jerking her hand away from Jake.

 

She opened her eyes then, and seeing the look on Jake's face, apologized. "It's not you," she reassured him. "It's just...it's just so strange. He reassured me. Then he hugged me. Then he just grabbed me. He said.." Grace bit her lip. "He said it would all be over soon. I tried to get away then, but he already had me." Grace demonstrated by grasping a hand through her tangled hair. "And when I cried he, just..kinda... shushed me. You shoulda seen his eyes, Jake. I don't--- I just don't understand--- even if he was just trying to win...those eyes. I've never seen anything like it."

 

Except she had. Just not on the face of someone she loved. 

 

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Jake shook his head...wanting to win just didn't explain it. He knew Grace's mum had said that stuff...but he still didn't believe it. Who would go that far just to win? Who would hurt their friends? Maybe somebody would...but Silas wouldn't. 

 

But his attention was taken by the realization once again of how hard Grace had taken it when he had been eliminated. Jake suddenly felt ashamed...it wasn't like he couldn't be left on his own...but he had kinda proved that maybe he couldn't, hadn't he? It wasn't fair that Grace was blaming herself about it. If he had just stayed put then she wouldn't have gotten upset.

 

"It wasn't your fault, ya know...with me," Jake said quietly. "Really it wasn't. I told ya it wasn't. It was nobody's...just maybe mine I guess..." he admitted shyly. "I shouldn'ta gone so close to Poseidon....er....I mean um, the kraken,.." he corrected bashfully. "But he didn't do it on purpose either - really. "

 

But Jake saw something come over her again, as she closed her eyes and thought of what had happened next. Suddenly, her hand jerked away. Feeling a pang he looked up, and she noticed it...he could tell. But it wasn't him she was afraid of. It was something else. He listened to her speak of Silas's eyes, and the way that he had looked at her. The things he had said. Jake hadn't been close enough to see - it'd been Mrs. Foster who held the omnioculars - and then Silas had been too far...but he felt chills all the same from the look in Grace's eyes, as she talked about one of her best friends with a fear that just couldn't make sense.  

 

It sounded like something out of a nightmare...or a scary story. But it was the fear in Grace's voice that painted the picture more than mere words could. Jake pictured Silas's face changing as he grabbed her, ready to kill. Jake moved closer to her, afraid to reach out in case he startled her again. "What did they look like...?" Jake asked her breathlessly.

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Grace frowned when Jake tried to convince her that it hadn't been her fault he'd been eliminated. She still felt guilty, no matter what he said, and might have argued had Jake not let something else slip.

 

"You named it?" For the first time since the trauma Grace smiled. "Oh Jake!" she exclaimed. "Only you would take the time to name that thing." 

 

She shuddered though when the subject turned quickly back to Silas.

 

"I don't know! He looked like Silas!" Grace snapped. It wasn't true, but she was growing weary of Jake's persistence in making her relive that moment. Despite her wishes, the images cycled through her mind again, and she had no choice but to think about it. She pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes, taking deep breaths until the moment passed.

 

"At the beginning..." she said, as if there hadn't been a break in their conversation. "He was...well like his dad, actually...but yeah. That's normal. Afterward though..." Grace screwed up her face as though it pained her. "Silas, but not Silas. I was fighting hard. He was just...calm. Cold. Like it was...a game, I guess, and he was winning. Then in the stands....bored, maybe? And...I don't know how else to say it. Evil. Just...evil."

 

"Can we please not do this?" Grace burst out. "I just can't any more. I can't."

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Jake stared, startled when Grace's tone changed and she snapped at him. What had he done wrong…? But when Grace’s hands went to her eyes, and her breaths began to deepen, Jake had the horrible realization. He was causing her pain.

 

He had been so caught up in finding out what had happened that he hadn't thought about how the questions were affecting Grace, or how hard it was for her to answer. He had been an idiot...and he was making it worse. It had been so hard NOT to ask...because what Grace was dealing with had been Silas, because it had all made so little sense, and because Jake was confused too. But he had been so busy trying to make sense of it that he hadn’t realized how much pain he was putting her through. Pain and fear…

 

Jake knew fear. It was something that he understood more than anything. And he could hear his friend’s voice dripping with it. There was still so much that Jake didn’t understand. It felt like there was something she still wasn’t telling...but he couldn’t ask about it. Not anymore. He just wished he knew how to help her. Wished he knew how to make it all go away.

 

He didn't know if there was anything to fear or not...but he knew that it never mattered if the monsters were real. The fear was always real. That was all that mattered.  


"Can we please not do this? I just can't any more. I can't."

 

The wave of guilt crashed into Jake and made his heart sink. He didn't have any more words to give...but he didn't need any. He scooted beside his friend. He looked her over sadly and wrapped his arms around her. “I’m sorry….” the boy mumbled quietly, hugging her and not letting go. “I’m sorry Grace…”

 

Jake went quiet…for a moment, the only sound was that of their breathing. The two of them were still damp, but Jake didn't care. “It’s okay though…you’re okay. ’Cause he’s not here. It’s just us,” Jake said. “It’s just us…and the wiggentrees and the bowtruckles…and nobody can hurt us when we’re here. Nobody,” he said. The truckle grove was sacred ground for the boy…a place where the childish innocence of safety could still survive.  

 

 

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Grace hunched her shoulders as Jake moved closer, but as he hugged her, any walls that she had attempted to build came down. She clung to Jake, hiding her face against his damp shoulder. Grace shook her head weakly as he apologized but she couldn't form the words to tell him there was no need. Instead she let herself be held and comforted, as she had so often comforted Jake in the past.

 

Minutes passed, but Jake didn't rush her or press her to speak again. Gradually Grace grew calmer, and eventually ventured to speak.

 

"I guess it's over by now," she said quietly. After another pause she added, "I'm sorry I made you miss the end, by being so...dumb, I guess." 

She sat up enough so that she could see Jake's face again and he could look at hers.

 

"You know it wasn't about my not winning, right?" she asked. "I mean, sure, I wanted to be a champion, but I never woulda bawled like a baby just 'cause I lost. It wasn't that."

 

 


Edited by Grace Foster

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When Grace had taken off running from the stands, Jake had looked to her mum...because he didn't know how to help her, and he didn't know what to do. When he had finally come upon her, weeping in the woods, he had worried the same. But as soon as Grace clung to him and buried her face inside his shoulder, there was no more thinking. "Shh...Its okay...it's okay...." Jake said softly, hugging her close...tilting his head to rest on hers. With a lump in his throat he rubbed her arm, his touch gentle, and held her like she had always held him. 

 

It took her a while to calm down...but soon Grace was relaxing - her grip loosening, and her breaths slowing. Still Jake didn't let go. Not until she finally answered him and began to sit up again. Was she feeling better...? Jake studied her face, meeting her eyes. She looked better...sounded better. Jake felt an overwhelming relief. 

 

"I know..." Jake answered. He had questions on his lips once more...but this time he didn't ask them. "I guess...I don't know totally why...but...I knew it wasn't that. And you're not dumb, ya know. I don't care if I miss it. The tournament got dumb...'cause it wanted us to fight each other," Jake said, feeling free to express his distaste, here where nobody could hear. "But it's not like ya need a tournament to be a champion anyways, Grace," Jake said, with a shrug. "You already are." 

 

Jake looked around and sighed. The breeze blowing through the trees made him shiver. Grace was probably cold too. She had FELT cold when he hugged her. Jake waved his wand slowly, delicately flicking it as he tried his luck at a drying charm - a spell he'd practiced but not yet mastered...It wasn't perfect, but the air around them did get warmer. Jake shimmied closer beside his friend until their shoulders touched. In the silence, he took the chance to look around at where they were. 

 

'It's been so long since we've come here..." Jake said quietly, pulling his knees in and resting his arms upon them. "I missed it. It was always nice here...ya know? Quiet and everything...And nobody here, just us. Well us and the truckles I mean," he corrected. Absentmindedly, the boy let his hand drift down to the grass - palm facing up in case any of their bowtruckle friends came to see them. " 'Member when we had that picnic all day with just us and them? The day we played wizard chess….um, and I got that rash you-know-where,” Jake blushed. “That part wasn’t so good,” he giggled. 

 

He didn’t really know why he was talking. It just felt like what he should do. Think of happier times...until the darkness and the cold washed away - Grace's tears with it. And if he could make her laugh again - see her smile - then that would be even better.

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