spirit_of_vitriol: (trapped (Hollow Art))
Flavia de Luce ([personal profile] spirit_of_vitriol) wrote2015-04-19 03:37 pm
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a framed and frozen moment, so far from perfection

In the past week, Flavia had made enough of her own observations into the vision stones--purely, of course, in the interest of science--to begin a rough classification system.

There were the good: what had to be her very own laboratory, with her in a lab coat, running tests and making notes; a much older Flavia (is that what Harriet might've looked like, if she'd ever grown old? she'd wondered) dressed in a sweeping gown and sitting on a dais as a tuxedoed gentleman spoke about her illustrious career, before the audience rose almost as one, applauding as the man at the podium turned, holding out a medal; herself as a teenager, in robes and a mortarboard now, addressing the crowd as Darrow High valedictorian.

There were the bittersweet: a train pulling to a stop at the station, a foot still clad in a climber's boot (though no less graceful for it) alighting on the platform as a woman both unknown and wholly familiar to Flavia stepped into a new world; watching Ophelia in a pure white gown practically floating down the aisle, eager to shed her mantle as Flavia's sister in favor of Madame Prouvaire (or was that Dieter, of all people, waiting up there by the priest?); a glimpse of her room in Dimera looking terribly empty, boxes and bags stacked in the hallway and Father waiting stiffly by the door to take her home with him.

There were the unexplainable: a pair of children, asking some unseen entity when Mummy would be home; Flavia as an adult, clad all in black and standing watch as a sandy-haired man (was that Gavroche?) put his ear to a vault door, fiddling with the combination dial; a beaker full of something strange and glowing, spilling onto her hand--and her eyes sparking, moments later, with vast, equally strange power.

All of them provoked their own set of questions, filled in details of what her future might hold, or what she hoped might never come to pass. But even the most disappointing of the things she'd seen are things she'd prefer, compared to the sight in front of her now.

"Dogger! Dogger, help me!" she hears herself scream, her voice whipped away to nothingness by the howl of the winter air. Somehow, she's on the roof of Buckshaw, in the middle of a snowstorm. There's another figure there with her--not Dogger, she realizes, someone more slender, a woman she's never seen--someone struggling to free themselves from the chimneypot. The woman practically snarls as the Flavia in the vision leaps over her and lands clumsily in a snowbank. This Flavia waits, summoning her strength, before dashing into motion again, running along the roof towards the door to the stairs. Just before she can hurl herself into the warm golden light of safety, another person arrives, equally unknown and equally as menacing.

Flavia skids to a stop, her feet sliding for purchase on the roof tiles for a long minute, before she regains control and reverses course, dashing back the way she'd come. The figure in the doorway follows behind, its tread more careful but still fast enough to close the gap between them, until--

"Val!" the woman stuck to the chimney (and she is stuck, Flavia can see now--glued in place by some substance) cries. "Get me out of this!" The man--Val--stops, turning his head slowly towards her. Using his distraction to her own benefit, Flavia scrambles onto another of the chimneypots. Val takes a step towards the woman, only to trip and fall over something buried in the snow.

It's almost a triumphant moment, until he gets up again, clutching a pole Flavia recognizes as part of Buckshaw's wireless aerial, its ends now broken into sharp and jagged points.

"Prod her! Knock her down!" the woman shouted. She could almost see the cords straining in the woman's neck as she screamed--whether from excitement or fury, Flavia didn't know. "Do it, Val!"

With a last look at the woman, Val resumed his trudge towards the chimney Flavia clung to. She could hear ragged, frightened gasping--coming from inside the vision as well as right where she sat on the Petros Park grass, transfixed. Val got within pole length of her and stopped, jabbing out and entangling the end of the pole in Flavia's sweater. "No! Please!" Flavia says, broken and pitiful, speared like a fish on a hook. One hard shove, and she's falling, tumbling off the chimney and onto the ground, Val using the pole to keep her at a distance and himself free of her wildly flailing feet and fists. Dragging her ever closer to the edge of the roof.

A moment passed, the two of them standing on the battlements. Maybe Val was summoning the courage--or the cowardice--to toss her over the edge. Maybe whatever hold the unknown woman had on him was breaking; Flavia dared to hope that he'd bring them, quite literally, back from the brink at the last minute. Before he could do anything, she sees herself twist round, disentangling the pole from where it had lodged in her sweater.

Val jerks backward, in surprise or out of a desperate attempt to regain control, Flavia's not certain; whatever the reason, it's his last, most fatal error. His foot slips on the gutter, sending him shooting, flailing off the roof. A minute later, Flavia hears a crunching thud. If there'd been time, she might've cheered to hear it--but before she can say a word, she sees herself slipping just as Val had, sliding closer and closer to the roof's edge.

Her feet slip out from under her. One pale hand reaches out, grabbing the leaded gutter. For one breathless moment, her fingers find purchase, a grip so tight, she can see the beds of her nails go stark white. Then the gutter, old and brittled by cold, crumbles; she goes plummeting downward.

With a shriek, Flavia flings the stone sphere from her lap, sending it rolling across the grass. The sun may be shining; there may be flowers in bloom just steps away, but all she can feel is sickening, terrifying cold.

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