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If Only, If only
If only there were solely joyous tales in the world to tell, but alas. Frankly I don’t care for those kind. The kind that ends tragically for those involved. To me they serve no purpose other than to depress. And that's not what I'm here for. This avoidance is one of the reasons I entered into my profession at all. I don’t see the harm in utilizing my talents in an attempt to improve the lives of others, even if it brings but a sliver of happiness.
Even so, I suppose I must admit that the unhappy tales draw the most attention. Those have a bit more flare and fire, the kind you don’t usually expect to occur. Every cry has a passion behind it, every sadness has a reason. I've had some time off, I may be staying here for the night. So that’s why I’ve chosen to take my time to bring this one up instead. I fear I’d lose your attention if I went on about a time I helped someone else and this led them to later turn out pretty-much-okay in the end.
Roger had been smitten with Annabeth from childhood, but I wouldn’t be here telling you this if she loved him back. She knew, but both were aware if he ever admitted this fact neither would look at each other the same again. This hadn’t halted the longing always present, this nagging sense within both of them that he required something that she didn’t share whenever they encountered one another. The both of them kept this to themselves for years, assuming only hurt could result from prompting it. That is, until Annabeth reached the age where her parents expected her to marry.
From what I hear she used to be an independent girl. There was no particular reason she held no quest for romance when she was young but as she grew older and witnessed others, as I seem to recall how she put it, emotionally exhausting themselves from the usually futile effort of courtship she outright resented it. This hadn’t kept her from being a warm and outgoing person, merely an unobtainable one. This only made the boys want to win her more. By this time Roger had convinced himself he of all people could never realistically win over someone so sought after. To a certain extent, he was right. She may have ignored the wishes of her parents and kept this attitude up for the rest of her life, but, again, the following could not have happened if she had. No, instead her heart was not made of stone and she attended the weddings of her many friends. One after the other she stood next to them as they married. Their happiness radiated off of them and nearly burnt Annabeth internally. This was not a drive to gain another person but some form of happiness to gain. Suddenly she not only wanted what they had but yearned for it more than anything else in existence.
There was a still moment where she looked at Roger, seeing his care for her present in his eyes. He was there nearby almost her whole life. He had a good moral standing, would treat her right and respect her. She had found the person she was searching for.
And yet she still didn’t love him.
It was around this time I ran through Annabeth’s town and she came to me directly with a request. You should have seen it, she cut straight through the crowd just to inform me of her plight. So of course I sympathized. I’d remember her now even if this hadn’t led to a disaster. Not because of her loveliness, of which she had much of indeed, and not for the item she asked for, the most common in my inventory, but by how utterly perplexed she was by not falling in love with this boy. I warned her, as I do with all customers, of the risk involved with what she was asking for. If she chose to go through with this there would be no possibility of any sort of reversal. She said to me “You say that as if this is a bad decision. There is clearly something wrong with my heart. How can you expect me not to fix it?”
Very shortly after we parted ways she invited Roger over to her house. Being as drawn to Annabeth as he was, he looked forward to this visit. Of course there was the chance that he would become one of the many that have come and gone on the doorstep of Annabeth’s heart, but she was practically a resident in his. He had more of a personal history than those others who chased after her. Poor guy.
When they were together she became honest with him. Honest of the pressure from her family of her marriage, how she oh so wanted it anyhow. He would be absolutely perfect “But…”
But. Always BUT. Even so, Roger sipped the drink she gave him and internally prepared for rejection. Maybe, sadly, even anticipated it. Even as this lovely lady who possessed his heart sat across from him went on complimenting him he couldn’t help but come out of her lips in ways that drove him to feel uncomfortable. It would come out in ways like “You’re the perfect guy. I know can’t find anyone better.” “My parents will hate me if I don’t settle down soon.” “You deserve me. I’m so selfish.”
Or it’s possible that feeling may have been a warning sign for the oncoming situation. But he couldn’t have possibly deduced what Annabeth had planned. She then took out what she bought from me.
I'm recalling this story from different sources, mostly from outside of the situation, so I'm unsure just what made him recognize what she had so quickly. I'm actually curious. Perhaps it was the unique color or the liquid or heart shape of the bottle. Whatever it may have been caused him to jump out of his chair and smack Annabeth’s hand after she put it to her lips, the bottle shattering to the floor. But not before a portion of the potion slipped behind her tongue. She looked at him, right into his eyes, hoping for something unimaginably wondrous to overcome her. Instead there was still nothing. Her heart pumped nothing but blood. I imagine she was cross with me at this point, think of me as a cheap con, as some tend to do. Yeah yeah. It just hadn’t reached her stomach yet. He tried to convince her that drinking a love potion wasn’t necessary (even though it was much too late).
She began to explain her reasons to him, anger rising, until she stopped suddenly in the middle of a sentence. Her heart had begun pounding so strongly in her chest she could hear it. A fever came over her. For a moment this frightened her. She said “I don’t-”
But the potion absorbed into her bloodstream before she could finish. A rush of powerful emotions seized the whole of her. Annabeth was unable to control it. Once she looked back up at Roger, resistance was only a word.
When her hand tried to lovingly touch his face, he backed away. He had always envisioned Annabeth loving him, but not like this. She only drew closer, telling him that this wasn’t wrong. She bought the potion. It would be horrid if this was done against her will, but this very much is what they both wanted. This tempted Roger. Not just because what she said made complete sense, but for as long as he had known her Roger had never seen her smile this much. There must have been a consequence, something he had yet to see, but, always but, he loved that smile so much he had to kiss it.
I sincerely hope Roger does not place the blame on my head for what happened afterward. But even before those unfortunate events he could not be rid of that nagging sense inside. Even after they became engaged he couldn’t shake this thought that there must to be a consequence to this luck. He had expected Annabeth to change entirely, but her personality remained. When she was with her friends it was as if nothing had changed. It was only when she came into Roger’s presence something about her became tender. Asking if this was moral would wound her. Diminishing her happiness would hurt him equally as much.
One day he and Annabeth were in their living room when he asked her to close the window. Instantly she hopped up from where she sat to do so and rushed back to his side. Roger couldn’t help but notice the immediacy of her response. So he says to her “Annabeth, why don’t you make some tea?” and she does so without protest. When she came back she smiled and rested her head on his shoulder. Then he asked “Would you jump out the top window?” At first this made her giggle but he looked at her seriously. After about a moment of silence she walked up the stairs. Roger quickly followed Annabeth and grabbed her before could make it to a window. She laughed and hugged him, saying “I knew you’d never hurt me.”
So, yes, by this point it’s clear to me why Roger asked me for a remedy the next time I came into town. I told him there isn’t one. Come to think of it, it’s not something I get asked often. Perhaps I should be more concerned. But keeping on track, Roger started to inform me of the whole situation. “I still love her, but Annabeth doesn’t act the same when she’s around me. She never stops telling me how much she loves me.” Remembering that girl but not yet knowing the whole story, I couldn’t understand what the problem was. I asked him what was wrong with any of that.
“I don’t know, what I mean is…if you truly love someone, is there any need to say it?” He left with two items from me that day.
The rest I know of what happened comes in vague pieces. I haven’t seen either Roger or Annabeth since then. A stranger told me that the day before the two were to be married the neighbors heard a ruckus from their house. Lots of thumping and crashing but worst of all, sobbing. At first no one bothered to check on what was happening in there. Annabeth was left home alone because of those ridiculous superstitions where it’s bad luck for the couple to see each other before the wedding. Maybe they assumed it was pre-wedding nerves or some private matter that wasn’t any of their business. Makes me glad I don’t stay in one place anymore with those kinds of neighbors. But what finally got them to react was when they heard a hard and heavy thunk and then nothing at all.
Roger was nowhere to be found. By the time some of the townsfolk managed to break through the front Annabeth had collapsed on the floor of the living room. They tried to wake her up but she would not move at all. They all assumed she was dead until they realized she had faint breathing. There were two bottles placed on the table nearby, with a note under each of them. One bottle was the same shape and color as the one Annabeth bought, and the note said “This will prevent the hurt”. It was unopened. The other, a square one with the cap screwed off, read “This will stop everything.” She must have thought it was poison.
Annabeth had no control over her heart, not even of when it stopped.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve been back to that town. If the inhabitants there ever saw me come through they’d come up begging me to cure that poor girl. It’s not that I don’t wish to. She’s caught herself in a very tangled situation, and I imagine attempting to undo it would trap her even further. There’s nothing I can do. And I don’t like admitting that one bit.
See, this is why I don’t enjoy telling these kinds of tales. Once they are said and done all the receiver can say is If only Roger had done this or If only Annabeth said that. Not to mention that one of my love potions is still in that town. I don’t like the idea of it being passed around to cause more trouble and craft more heartaches such as this one. And here I am rambling about it. But, hey, at the very least they’re memorable. So, for now at least, I’ll leave it there and move along. And perhaps on a quiet night when there is nothing to say I will return with something more rewarding.