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She noticed it first when she was fifteen. It was a big hockey game, and Madeline had been so busy with practice and the team that she sometimes didn’t come home until late, and she was always distracted, wound up. Three times she kicked Amelia out of her room, and even got in a fight with the Belorussian girl down the street. Needless to say, everyone was happy when the game finally came around. They got to the rink early so Maddie had time to get ready with the team.Read more... )
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He thought for sure he was losing his mind. He’d wake up out in the woods with blood on his hands, or curled in a corner of his house, as if he was afraid something was going to get him. No one knew where he was, he’d made sure to hide well, so well his people couldn’t seek him out.

But he knew where they were. He could feel them dying, fighting, burning.

It wasn’t like the pain he’d felt in the Revolutionary war or the war of 1812. Nothing like when he’d fought against Arthur and Matt. When it wasn’t his people killing his own people. That he’d been able to take. It hadn’t ached like this.

He could hear their yells and cries, echoes in his head that got louder with each passing day.

He wanted  to go deaf.

Never in Alfred’s life had he so longed for silence. For numbness.

The pain he felt now was worse then the burn in 1812 when Matthew burnt his white house down in retaliation- it was worse then when he held Arthur at gun point and demanded his freedom all the while hating himself for hurting someone he’d cared so much about. He woke up bleeding and burned and so badly broken that some days he didn’t move.

Some days, he fought with himself. Yelling at himself for picking sides, and day to day the side he chose changed. Was he with the North or the South? He couldn’t say. But he yelled at himself, hurt himself, he couldn’t tell half of the time if the injuries inflicted on him were from battles being fought by his people, or during the brief blackouts he suffered alone in his cabin, waking up with the iron poker from the fireplace in one hand, red hot, and a vicious burn on his skin, or a bloody knife and words etched into skin in vibrant wet red letters.

Matt was the one that found him. Half way through the war, his brother came down and looked for him- found him the same way he’d always been able too. That bond as children they’d had before they were split up, before Spain and England and France and all the others had seen their lands. When they were alone, just them.

He showed up at the cabin one day to find Al laying on the floor, clothes soaked in blood, and looking battered, muttering to himself about freedom and slavery and goddamned fucking yanks and fucking greedy southerners. And god, did it hurt. Matt cleaned him up, and wrapped his wounds, and not once did Al snap out of it to see he was there. The American hissed like a rabid cat and whined like a kicked dog, threw insults at people that weren’t there and when he did finally realize and react to Matthew’s presence, it was only to lash out.

He yelled and screamed and cried until his throat hurt and the salt from his tears burned down his face. And Matthew waited, listened and stayed still, until Alfred dissolved into apologies and weak insults.

By the next day, Matthew was gone, and Alfred was lost to voices and images and didn’t know if his brother had been an illusion or not. He didn’t hear from him again, though he thought for sure he’d seen blue-violet eyes and felt that gentle touch between blood red stains and blistering burnt skin that filled his dreams and bombarded him every time he closed his eyes.
Alfred had lost his mind. From 1861 to 1865, he lived in a constant state of confusion and violence and self destruction. And when it ended, he was pale and weak and scarred. But he smiled and laughed and tried to forget those years and the horror that they’d created and hoped it would never happen again.

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