broken arrow

by renegadekarma

One heart could only break so many times.

That was what Tatiana constantly told herself.


 

One heart could only break so many times.

That was what Tatiana constantly told herself. The more she repeated it, the more it had to be true. She could will this phrase into existence if she tried hard enough. Yet still, repetition hadn’t prepared for this. Nothing had prepared her for this.

“I love you.”

She snapped.

“No, you don’t, Will. You can’t love, and you wouldn’t love me even if you could.” Tatiana curled herself into a ball on the armchair as if she could somehow shield herself. For once, his words weren’t an attack, but she felt just as hurt as if they were.

The boy blinked onyx eyes at her, perplexed. Once, she would have given anything to hear these words fall from his lips, and he knew it. When that had stopped, neither of them knew, but it had come to a point where this was dreaded rather than eagerly anticipated. “Yes, I do,” he tried, but she shook her head at him.

“I don’t know who you’re kidding. If you actually did, you know, feel that way about me, you wouldn’t have dated Quincy. You wouldn’t have broken my heart when I was fourteen. And you certainly wouldn’t have expected me to just go and jump into your arms or something when I heard that,” she shook her head at him quickly, retreating farther inward.

He blinked at her again. Seventeen years old meant that they had lost most of their innocence but were naïve enough to believe that things like love lasted. She didn’t know who either of them were fooling. “But—“ he began, and she cut him off.

“Do you remember what you told me on that train station before that Christmas in fourth year?”

A pause. “Yes.”

“Then how could you love anyone?”

He ran a hand through his wiry black hair, glancing away suddenly as if ashamed. “I don’t know,” he admitted after a moment. “But I didn’t know back then. I know now.”

“Don’t you think that you’ve broken my heart enough?” She was on the verge of tears. “I don’t want you to lie to me anymore.”

“I’m not.”

“You are.”

Silence.

“I don’t want to hurt you again,” he spoke up weakly.

“I won’t let you,” Tatiana replied simply.

He turned toward her, his armchair beside hers, and reached out. She flinched away from his fingers and he retracted his hand suddenly.

“Grief is still the price we pay for love,” she observed.

“It doesn’t have to be,” Will replied uncertainly.

Tatiana scoffed. “And you tell me that I read too many romance novels. What happened to me just ‘fancying the idea of love’ instead of you? You were right.”

Irritation flared in his dark eyes. “Now you’re the one pushing me away.” He huffed, turning back suddenly and away from her. “Just because I said things once doesn’t mean that they’re still valid now. I’ve changed, and so have you.”

“And that’s why things wouldn’t work. I’m not naïve anymore. I know when I’m being lied to.”

“I’m not lying to you!”

“Then you’re lying to yourself. You don’t love me. You’re just love the idea of being in love with me.”

Dark eyes sought hers sadly. “So you don’t feel the same?”

Tatiana let out a breath, irritated and upset and conflicted all at once. Yes, she was in love with him. No, she refused to tell him. Not when she still believed he didn’t understand what love entailed. “No,” she breathed out after a moment. “Please, Will. Just go. I just really need some space right now.”

He rose abruptly, took a step forward, and half turned toward her. “But I love you,” he added again after a moment as if he believed the same thing; that repeating something over and over made it true.

She thought briefly of broken trust, of heartbreak and betrayal and of encasing her heart in ice so no one would ever burn her again. “That’s not enough,” Tatiana replied.

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