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Prologue

The clouds were crying softly as they stared down at the dark, gloomy procession of people. The only sounds were coming from the gentle patter of rain drops bouncing off black umbrellas and muffled sobs barely contained. The moist ground squelched beneath the shifting feet of the only person whose face was an emotionless mask. Roarke's dark hair was dripping, and his black suit soaked. The handle of an unused, black umbrella was clutched in his right hand. Not once did he move to open it and shield himself from the storm. He could only stare blankly at the casket his sister's dead body laid in.

"We are gathered here to say farewell to Emily and commit her into the hands of God." The priest's commanding, yet gentle voice rose above the rain and sniffling. A broken sob and a wet cough sounded during the momentary silence following the priest's words as if people were re-realizing her death.

The priest continued to speak, but Roarke wasn't listening. He was recalling Em's laugh, and her voice. The smile that would light up her face when something made her happy. The way she would call him over to see what she had colored. The way she would giggle when she called him "Rory" or "Orkie" because she was the only one who was allowed to. The way her chestnut colored hair would bounce as she skipped through a store. All the simple things that she would never be able to do again.

"In the Name of God, the merciful Father, we commit the body of Emily to the peace of the grave." Roarke pulled out of his thoughts to watch as the polished wood casket was gingerly lowered into the ground. He heard his mother start sobbing again and his father whisper soft words to her in a calming manner, but he didn't turn to offer his own condolences.

He watched as his parents moved forward as if pulled by strings and said their goodbyes to their daughter. They each dropped a handful of dirt into the hole that was beginning to look more and more like an all-consuming abyss. His blue eyes stayed glued to the six-foot hole as his parents returned to their original position, imagining how it might gape and stretch to absorb everyone's sorrow.

A hand settled on his shoulder and he turned to see the priest give a reassuring smile before gently pushing him forward. Looking towards his mother and father once more all he could see were grief-stricken faces stained with tears. He had to be strong for them. With a steady stride he stepped up the the hole in the ground that had become Emily's grave. He knelt and scooped up a wet handful of dirt, holding his hand over the tiny casket.

"Be happy, Em." He whispered quietly to himself before taking a deep breath and slowly uncurling his fingers. The dirt fell between his fingers and mingled with the rain before settling on the wooden box that seemed to far away too be real anymore. Standing, he dropped his eyes to the ground and dutifully took up his post by his parents.

People came up one after another offering their condolences and saying how Emily had such a wonderful life. How she brightened their day. And how they would miss her. After the first few people Roarke tuned them all out; he didn't need to hear it because he knew the effect Emily had on people. Instead, he nodded politely when they glanced at him with pitying looks and watched his mother as she tried not to fall apart every time someone said "Emily."

Once everyone had gone, the Walsh family was left to their own devices. Somehow, they managed to thank the priest, gather their belongings, and get home relatively quickly. The silence that haunted their car ride followed them inside their house as they each went about dishing out food for themselves. Thankfully, family and friends had been considerate enough to shower them with gifts of food, knowing that grief would hinder their abilities to function properly.

His parents disappeared with plates of food that were likely to be left untouched and left Roarke by himself. He preferred it that way, but after the loss of his sister a strange sense of abandonment latched onto his heart as he heard his parents' door click shut. He decided to ignore it as he followed their example and locked himself in his own room. He was drained; both body and mind felt numb. He didn't want to move anymore so he dropped onto his bed and let everything that had happened wash over him. His sister was dead. He sighed and settled for staring at the ceiling until it disappeared and Em's face replaced it. He watched with the hint of a smile on his face as the fake Emily grinned and laughed. His hand moved on his own accord, reaching out to touch the person that was forever gone to him, smile fading to a frown as he realized what he was doing. The limb flopped back to the mattress with a light thump and he turned onto his side. Ignoring the lamp that was still flicked on and his blurred vision, Roarke curled up and huddled the blanket over his head, trying to block out images of his sister as he waited for sleep to drag him under.





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