Under the Blue
Pairings: TBA ((in other words, read and find out))
Spoilers: General BtVS/AtS/HP
Rated: G, at least for now.
Disclaimer: Joss has all the rights to BtVS. J.K. Rowling is responsible for Harry Potter. All lyrics from Fiona Apple.
Distribution: Ask and you shall receive.
need fuel -- to take flight --
and there's too much going on
but it's calm under the waves
in the blue of my oblivion
I’ve grown up listening to my mother’s stories, told during that magical time when the world became hazy and fuzzy, and everything but her ceased to exist. I would fall asleep listening to the sound of her voice, my dreams full of vampires and demons and good triumphing over evil, of places and people and scenes of sunshine and happiness I only usually saw briefly once a year, if I was lucky. My father had never liked America, my mother’s homeland, and in our house my father’s word has always been law.
Tonight is my first night back in this house in almost a year, and will be one of the last, ever. I can hear my mother’s footsteps echo through the house as she climbs the staircase, coming to tuck me in, as she has every night in my memory, regardless of how old I was. It’s a sound I want to savour, to file away for later, along with the feelings of anticipation and contentment that always accompany it. No matter how my day had been, or what I knew tomorrow held in store, this is the one thing that never changed. If I was in the house, she’d come to tuck me in. I’d listen to her heels clicking on the polished wood floor as I fidgeted in bed, waiting for her to come and soothe me with a goodnight kiss. She’d recite a story from her memory, the words flowing off her tongue like liquid silk, before kissing me softly and pulling up the covers. Her scent always lingered in my room after she’d left, and I fell asleep with it all around me, every night. She smells like her garden, soil and grass and flowers, and strawberries and rain, with traces of my father’s cologne and her own perfume. I could pick my mother out of a crowd by scent alone, even if all the other women were wearing the exact same perfume as her. I probably couldn’t pick my father. In a crowd of people I’d have to look, to call for him, or to try and pick up the traces of my mother around him.
Needless to say, my father never came to those late-night moments with my mother, and I know tonight will be no different. He’s always been distant, and I shouldn’t expect it to be any different now. When I was younger, and my parents were my entire world, I never thought it was out of the ordinary. It was just…my dad. It was a part of him, like the constant trips away and never-ending paperwork, and for all I knew every other dad was the same. I managed to hold onto that mentality for the first decade or so of my life, but as I entered adolescence, my grip loosened. For the first time, I was given an objective look at other families – members of my own extended one, ironically enough. Don’t get me wrong, I was never what you’d call sheltered; Mum wouldn’t even hear of her daughter growing up ignorant of the world. Yet somehow, miraculously, I managed to ignore the fact that my friends and cousins interacted with their fathers on a regular basis. It’s amazing how humans can ignore what’s right under their noses in favour of their best interests.
When I was 12, Mum insisted that we visit her family in America for my cousin’s birth. I was extremely excited, and not just because I was seeing my family again; this event was so important, Mum had convinced Dad to come along. He’d never really gotten along with Mum’s family, so any trips to their vicinity were generally severely limited. I was so excited, in fact, that it took several days for reality to seep through the cracks of my enthusiasm. It did, however, because I was older, and more able to recognise the differences in our families. With my father there, the previously small differences became that much more pronounced.
While Grandpa and all my uncles took time off work and spend it with both their family and us, my father continued to work almost non-stop, even from the other side of the world. I remember the frequent picnics that we had that summer. They were all very similar, but one in particular stands out in my memory. It didn’t start of shockingly different, and it didn’t end any different, but I remember it just the same. It was the first one we had, and I remember sitting by myself on the grass, not far from my quiet father, watching as my mum caught up with my aunts and my cousins played with their dad’s, throwing Frisbee’s and kicking balls. Grandpa had his legs stretched before him on the grass, reading another one of his musty books, and Nan was sprawled next to him, studying one of her strange occultist books. He glanced up and caught my eye, and then he smiled at me strangely, almost sadly, his eyes a mixture of what I now recognise as pity, love, outrage on my and mum’s behalf, and a tinge of hopelessness and helplessness. The look didn’t last look, perhaps a few seconds, but it left me feeling strange in a way I was too young to recognise. Grandpa quickly flicked his eyes away, pulling his glasses from his nose and cleaning them roughly; it’s a nervous habit he still hasn’t lost. I looked across the picnic blanket at that, at my own father, deeply involved in the contracts and papers spread around him. I haven’t genuinely enjoyed holiday in America since, either with or without my father, because on that trip, when my fingers slipped around my safe, secure world and reality began to filter through, I had a clear, unobstructed view of how a family should be, and how mine was. Mine was found wanting.
After that, my awareness was sharper. I began to notice differences between my father and myself that I’d never really seen before, or tries not to. It made me hunger for similarities, and sure enough, if I looked hard enough, I could see glimpses of my mother in me. The set of my jaw, the outline of my eyes. But my father… we were almost polar opposites. Long, untameable jet-black hair against shiny, impeccable white blonde locks. Bright green eyes, hidden behind glasses these days, in the place of clear, flawless blue ones. Pale skin, freckled beyond belief, not clear and slightly bronze-tinted. Taller than he would’ve been at my age, although that could very easily be my mother’s genes. Our mannerisms and demeanours are about as alike as our looks. Since the age of 13, when I starting really noticing all these details, I’ve felt almost completely disconnected from my own father.
And now, my first night home in a little over a year, the last one for Merlin knows how long, and my father is yet to say anything more emotional than “Would you pass the salt, please?”
But I’m sure he loves me, even if he doesn’t show it. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting my grandfather; I know how much worse things could be. I realise now that my father stays detached for a reason; if he isn’t really there, he can’t hurt me the way his father hurt him. He refuses to make his father’s mistakes again, and if nothing else, I admire him for that. So my family isn’t ideal. Bar the affection of a father, I want for almost nothing. I have money and at least one doting parent. I don’t fear for my mother’s safety and sanity when she’s left alone with my father, as I do for my grandmother, and this is for many reasons. For one, I know Mum wouldn’t allow any man to control her, not even Dad, and I know he’d never think to try. I’m neither blind nor stupid. I see the glances my father sends my mothers way when he thinks no one is looking. I’ve born accidental witness to small moments, uncensored for public viewing, where my father’s real character emerges from the cold, hard, emotionless exterior I’m used to. My father loves my mother deeply, and although it’s not a normal type of love, it’s the only way he knows how. He would follow her through hell or high water; of that much I’m sure.
After all, she’s a Summers woman, and my father’s name is Draco, not Lucius.