END OF THE OPERA
Charles crouched over Diana, holding her limp in his arms.
Another explosion erupted behind him, and crouched more over her, feeling the heat wave and pieces of concrete spattering off of him.
His scarlet overcoat smoked as the heat settled, and he looked down at her face.
It was pale, her eyelids shut. Her lips were limp and she had a peace about her face. A moment before she was in agony from the bullet-wound. Now she was as calm as if she were merely sleeping.
A dagger pierced Charles' heart as he knew she would never wake up. Her body was in such shock that it closed off so it could heal itself. But it was so battered that it would never have the energy to bring her back.
She was gone.
Charles felt a lump build in his throat as he pressed her head into his chest, his chin on her soft brown hair. His eyes shut hard as hot tears spilled out. She was dead, and it was his fault. She had only ever tried to befriend him, to be sweet, kind, generous. But he had always turned her away.
Finally, when he had turned around and wanted to be kind to her, she was snatched away from him. If only he had no been so selfish, she might have lived.
Charles held back his urge to cry, knowing he was being watched.
They were watching him.
They had killed her, and would kill him shortly after they found he felt for her. It was capital offence to feel anything for anyone, and he knew it. It would be obvious by his holding her now that they would consider him a criminal, no longer a Soldier.
So it didn't matter what he did anymore.
He threw all these thoughts aside, he just didn't care anymore.
So what if they wanted to kill him? So what if they wanted to bomb the whole burning opera house he was in, to make sure he was dead, and all evidence of their being there?
Charles didn't care about anything except the enormous painful fact that he had lost her.
A big, icy black hole was in his chest, and it was sucking the life out of him. Only she could fill that hole, he knew it now. But it was too late.
He buckled over her, putting his head past hers, looking down over her shoulder at the floor as he was overcome with sorrow. He shook as tears sputtered from his face. She was gone. And she wasn't coming back.
Everything flashed through his mind, that he remembered of her. Her cheerful conversation, he little jokes to liven him up, her kindness towards him especially when he would try to avoid her. He had saved her life before, and she was determined to be his friend. But he had never had any such thing as a friend, not in years, and he didn't want her. But she kept trying, and he couldn't forget the sparkle of her eyes, that cute little smile that was always there, even if she wasn't feeling like chatting. She had her personal problems, with her mother and family difficulties, but she laid them aside when he was around.
But now, when he has begun to see the light. When he was starting to understand how beautiful life is when you enjoy the people in it, and you fill your head and heart with colour, he turned and saw her as the great light from which he felt encouraged. She was always so colourful. She was everything.
The cold, cruel voice echoed through his ears, above the crackling of the fire about him. He was in the third story of an opera house that was burning to the ground, and the man in front of him acted as if they were calmly in the park together.
By that eerie calmness, it was more than obvious that it was one of the Others.
Charles tightened his grip on Diana's shoulder. It was limp. He wanted to remove his glove to feel her cold skin, as if perhaps his touching it would bring warmth to her, do some good to her...but he didn't want to let her go, not for a moment.
Charles opened his eyes. They stung. He couldn't keep ignoring the Other. He turned up. It was Leonard. Of course it was Leonard.
Charles spoke through his teeth. “What?”
Leonard's clean-shaved face and blond hair combed back showed no sign of sympathy. He clearly could not care.
“Charles. Your conduct is insupportable.” Leonard said, in the usual smooth voice.
“You...you have no idea what she was to me.” said Charles, turning back down to look at the face. She looked more like a porcelain doll than ever now.
Leonard clucked his tongue. “Come, come now.” he said. “She is one human among billions of others. We have to leave now, so this place can fall neatly down.”
“I'm not going anywhere,” said Charles.
Leonard paused for a moment, obviously annoyed. “Drop the dead body, Charles. It is time to leave.”
Charles' muscles tightened. He could smell the smoke from his singed clothes. The expensive coats and frills and buckles of his noble clothing would go up in ashes along with him and the rest of this place before he would leave her.
“She's not dead.” said Charles coldly.
Leonard reached into his golden coat, pulling out a shimmering flintlock, covered with carvings of ivy and skulls.
“Then I'll put a neat hole in her head and be done with it,” said Leonard.
Charles laid the body gently down on the floor, as if he were submitting to Leonard.
“Don't worry,” he whispered in her ear. “I will get us out of here.”
“What did you--” Leonard began to say, but before he knew it, Charles was standing in front of him, and he had a searing pain through his middle. He looked down to see Charles had plunged his long dagger to the hilt into his stomach.
Leonard couldn't believe it. Had Charles gone mad? “Charles,” he murmured, his eyes wide, blood foaming at his mouth. “You are finished. You have turned against us?”
“You are finished.” whispered Charles. “I am no longer one with your cult. I am free.”
Charles shoved away the heavy body. He looked down at it darkly as he heard the door beind pushed open and two other Cult Soldiers walked in.
They looked at the unmoving lady, then at the dead Leonard, then at the tall shape of Charles.
“Has Leonard been slain?” asked one of them quickly.
“Yes,” said Charles.
“By whom?” asked the other, as they entered.
Charles snapped out his flintlock from his belt and fired a bullet through the first man's forehead. He fell back against the wall. His friend pulled up his blunderbuss to blow Charles' head off, but Charles swung his fist out, knocking it aside, hitting Leonard's hand with his boot heel, sending Leonard's pistol flipping into the air. Charles snatched it from the air and in a flash of fire and smoke sent the second Cult Soldier across the room with a pierced heart.
He heard the sound of many more coming from the corridor; they could hear the gunshots.
Charles bent down and picked up Diana; she was light as a pillow, putting her over his shoulder. He kicked the blunderbuss up and held it with his free hand, pointing it at the door.
The door burst open, a group of about five face looking in on him, ready to gun him down.
Charles squeezed the trigger and blew two of them down, the recoil sending the blunderbuss flying out of his hand. The men shouted in pain and shock, the front two collapsing dead. Charles whipped out his glittering sabre and rushed at them, holding Diana tightly on his shoulder. He was probably going to die, but he had only one thing to live for anymore. To break free from the hell he was in, break free into the freedom of open air and live his life the way Diana Linderstone had been encouraging him to for so long. He would fight, and die if need be, but he would never be the same man again.