Character: Ruby (Gen)
Summary: Ruby once was human, and the passing of centuries spent in darkness cannot help her to forget it.
Author's Notes: Written during a 60_minute_fics session on "Fables," for spn_xx, Challenge #11 using the quote below, and for my switch_25 challenge ("Salt").
Than that you should remember and be sad."
- "Remember" by Christina Rossetti
She did it all for love.
As crazy as it seemed afterward, when her life—her very soul—was taken from her, in the beginning it was a simple matter of love.
A young woman of fourteen years, she was of the wrong station and appearance to draw the notice of Charles Westingbrook. He always greeted her politely, but she was only the tailor's daughter who answered the door when he stopped at their business, a slip of a girl fetching fabric from the storeroom at her father's request.
The apothecary's potions failed to turn Charles' eyes her way, those eyes as blue as a summer sky, eyes she searched for in her dreams. A five-month of days she waited, and received no more from Charles than the gracious remove that had long been the pattern of his attentions to her.
Widow Paltrey, it was whispered, knew of secret ways to bind a man's love and hold it true. Cecily did all that the widow told her, performed strange rituals requiring soil and herbs and hair, spoke words in unfamiliar tongues.
For a season, Charles was hers.
More precious than jewels, he called her, a ruby of his own with her dark red hair and star-bright eyes.
But when the last of the hollyhocks faded, he was gone. Then, before the first frost dusted the earth, so was she.
A foolish girl unprepared for her fate, she had wandered the breadths of the Devil's own realm until the faceless creatures found her. She would have chosen eternal solitude at that point to avoid joining them, if such a thing were possible.
Tempting. Tormenting. Taking—this was to be her work now. Walking the earth again in borrowed form, she committed acts more unspeakable than any she could have imagined.
Her rebellions were small.
She held onto her name—the one Charles had bestowed upon her—in remembrance of who she'd been and what her choices had cost her. It was rarely spoken, but the flame of it lived on inside her, still uniquely her own.
Certain memories, whether hers or those of the people whose skin concealed her, survived through centuries. She didn't speak of them, but sometimes she saw that same knowledge in one of her own kind, a certain shred of humanity, a reluctance to destroy those who were ignorant rather than evil.
She became stronger; not just in the way of demons, but in her willingness to navigate the precipice of the authority she served. Ruthlessness came more easily to her as she grew hardened, but some aspect of herself stayed with her, preserved like a flower that still rose to bloom between the rocky crevices of the desert.
In the world of the living, she saw glimpses of such deep and abiding love that she almost remembered why she had thought it worth the sacrifice herself. Caught by a sudden blue gaze, she remembered Charles and how much she missed him still in this eternity of enduring darkness. Hearing the laughter of a rose-cheeked baby held in the safety of loving arms, she remembered how little she had lived herself
The others of her kind, the demon hordes, remembered nothing. Focused wholly on the brimstone path, they marched to their orders and dreamed only of a coming surge toward the End of Days.
Ruby was different enough to know that the purpose lay in living, not in death. A gift so wonderful and brief was not given that it might be destroyed by her kind or any other. She would collect her due of souls but she would not turn or tempt, not if she could avoid it. With one foot in both worlds, she belonged to neither. There was no peace or safe harbor to be found, not even within the most secret recesses of herself.
Hundreds of human years had passed, but the changes in speech and style meant nothing. She was battle-honed and clever, quick to adapt to the situation at hand. The details were buried by the larger transformation, for it was that which had haunted her from the beginning.
Even now, Ruby avoided mirrors when she could, unprepared for the stranger's face looking back at her and unwilling to risk the truth so easily revealed by the terrible blackness in those soul-dead eyes.
Far better to let it all fall away, all she once was and could no longer be.
But she had only herself to cling to anymore, that and the certainty of that gossamer thread of memory being the only thing binding her to that lonely mission to help shift the course of Fate.
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