lassarina: (Sarah: Memories)
[personal profile] lassarina posting in [community profile] rose_in_winter
Characters: Sarah
Rating: G
Contains: Some spoilers for backstory
Wordcount: 1145
Notes: Written for [community profile] genprompt_bingo, prompt "Ghosts and Hauntings"
Betas: none
Summary: Sarah returns to Tosca with no memory of why she lived there, and finds nothing but ghosts in what used to be her home.

The mansion is even larger than it seemed from the other side of the village.

She takes a cautious step into the courtyard, but no one from the village calls out a challenge. Indeed, they all seemed to think that she belongs here. They called her by a name she does not know—though she has grown used to not knowing who she is—and pressed gifts upon her, food and fabric and tallow candles finer than those she sees in the lanterns that serve as street lights. They asked dozens of questions that she had no answers to, but that did not seem to trouble them. She thanked them, and they bowed, and gestured her on toward the mansion.

Sarah.. She rolls the name around inside her head, but it sets off no chime of recognition, nor sense of belonging. Neither does the mansion; it is massive and beautiful, clearly designed and built with care, but she does not recognize it. Some part of her mind identifies three architectural styles that combine to make the unique blend that is this building, but she does not know when she studied architecture.

She crosses the courtyard. The door springs open as she approaches, with a warm feeling of welcome reaching out to wrap around her, fire and earth energy carried on a gentle caress of the breeze. A spell, she thinks, and wonders why she knows exactly how to replicate it, without even considering the problem.

She wonders a lot of things, these days. Did she always? She doesn't know.

The foyer is lovely in its simplicity. She catches sight of herself in a mirror hung on the wall, and studies the face she does not know. Her hair is lank around her face from travel; she will need to wash it. No dark circles mar her eyes, though; she seems to need very little sleep or food if she does not wish to need them. That makes her strange.

She does not want to be strange. She wants to know who she is.

She glances down the hall, and sees a door open with the word Library inscribed over it in smooth looping script unlike any she has seen on her travels. She goes to it, feeling for the first time a faint tug of recognition.

She gasps when she sees the massive shelves, stuffed to groaning with volumes of all shapes and sizes. She could get lost in here.

She could find herself here.

She crosses the floor with quick, confident steps, and reaches for the drawer in the large desk that sits in the center of the room. Her fingers curl into the pull as though it was sized just for them.

The journal lies slightly askew, its leather cover worn, and corners blunted.

She pulls it out and brushes aside a child's doll—what is that doing on her desk?—Her desk? She pauses, but the doll and the memory are like a glimmer of lightning, gone before she truly catches sight of them.

The opening page has a name, Sarah Sisulart, and two dates. The first, she does not know; the second is just two months ago. Oh, how embarrassing it had been to ask the date, with the year, when she awoke, but the kindly woman tending her had chalked it up to a concussion. She could have told her that it was no such thing, for magic healed those away like they'd never been, but she'd kept her voice sealed.

She turns the page, and a lovingly colored sketch leaps out at her. A child, four or five years of age, bright and winsome with red hair like her own. Lirum is written beneath it, in a smooth handwriting that her fingers know and a careful childish print.

She looks up at the doll, and wonders why a sob rises in her throat.

She starts to turn the pages, and memory flickers at the edges of her awareness like the first crackling of a fire on a winter evening. She remembers writing these words, though not always the events they describe. She sits on the floor and conjures a tiny ball of firelight to read by, as the afternoon sun is fading, and pages frantically through the journal, reading about a life she does not recall, with a husband and a child she doesn't know. She was a prolific writer, recording all kinds of minutiae, but she is grateful to her past self. She can find herself here. She reads faster, until she comes to the last entry.

We are going to the seaside tomorrow. Lirum is so excited to pick wildflowers, and Kaim is going to teach her to swim. I will begin a new journal there.

Her firelight flickers, and for a moment she thinks she smells the sea—

Lirum. Falling. Screaming. Her little girl, torn from her, broken on the rocks and dying I failed her she's dead she's gone Lirum Lirum lirumlirumlirumlirum LIRUM!

She gropes blindly for the doll and cradles it to her chest, but of course there is no scent on it, scents don't last that long, even here there is nothing of her daughter but empty memories. How could she forget? How could she not know? She sobs and clutches the doll to her chest, trying to call up a memory, any memory, that isn't her daughter's death, but nothing comes, only an endless scream and a tumble onto the rocks, before they could even reach out to catch her.

She's not sure how long she sits on the floor. It could be minutes, or days. An immortal body—yes, she was immortal, outside the time of this world—does not need sleep or food if she does not remember to have those things. She gets stiffly to her feet, the doll still cradled close like an infant, and looks around.

There is a mirror on the wall. Kaim hung them all, she remembers now, to brighten the house, so that sunlight and candlelight would be reflected and multiplied.

Mirrors can remember what they've seen.

She walks to the mirror and lays her right hand against it, her left wrapped around the doll. She will be the conduit. She will bring the memory of her daughter out of this mirror, out of every mirror in the house, until Lirum is returned to her, until she can remember everything about her daughter, from her scent to her laugh to the warmth of her skin.

Her face is bone-white in the mirror, her hair a tangled mess around it.

She erases her face and conjures her daughter's instead, seizing at the echoes of memory to weave a new song.


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