Wow .. what a story .. I just stumbled on it .. just want to know is Arnav lying somewhere unconscious and his soul trapped in this room .. may be in waiting for his soulmate khushi
A/N - Just wanted to thank you all for the lovely reviews and likes and support. Any kind/form of feedback really encourages me and makes me happy :)
Chapter 10 - Ties
The next two days Payal was by Khushi's side the entire time. She would cook Khushi's meals, help her out of the bed and in the evenings, take her for walks. Arnav noticed that Payal's fear of him was gone. She was comfortable in the house, walking around doing chores. It was like her aversion of this flat never happened.
He was glad that she had gotten over her fear. At least Khushi had a human friend helping her out.
He did want to sit by Khushi's side and talk to her. However due to Payal's continuous presence for the past couple of days, he could only get by a few lines: "How are you now?" or "Are you doing fine?" or "Do you need anything?" She would reply a "yes" or "no" before Payal barged in the room.
He had tried to leave the house again but the invisible barrier was back in place, solid as before. The act that night had taken a toll on his energy and he didn't feel strong enough to break the barrier again. He would try, some other day, once he felt replenished enough.
The sky outside was getting darker, he observed. From the balcony he could see the distant figures of Payal and Khushi, sitting on a park bench, animatedly discussing something. He wished he could get some alone time with her.
"Is something the matter?" Payal asked.
They had been sitting in the park for a couple of hours now. Khushi was twirling a broken piece of stem in her fingers. She hadn't gotten a chance to talk to Arnav about that night - more importantly how he could come out of the house in which he had been trapped for so long. So many things, like her being able to hear him, talk to him, had been pestering her mind since that night. Surprisingly she always used to brush the issue away before, because it was supernatural, not something she or he was well versed in. But ever since the night of the Shyam incident, it was tugging her mind, restlessly.
"Khushi," Payal's voice drove her out of her thoughts, "Is everything fine?"
"Mmhmm," Khushi nodded, "It's just a work thing." She lied, "It's about this new book we are publishing. Something has been bugging me about it."
"What?" Payal did seem interested.
Khushi had been itching to talk to someone so much. She seized the opportunity, "The novel is about a girl and a," she wanted to say 'ghost' but feared that Payal could figure it out so she changed some details, "a young girl and a fairy."
"Well," Khushi pursed her lips, thinking about what she would modify so as not to make Payal suspicious. Arranging her thoughts, she continued, "So this girl moves in a castle with her father and siblings and there is a fairy trapped in the castle - cursed by a witch. The fairy can't leave and no one can hear or see her."
Khushi spoke for the next few minutes, telling her and Arnav's story, altering a few details here and there. "I don't seem to understand why can no one else hear the fairy save for the girl and how was the fairy able to leave the castle the day the girl's life was in danger?"
"How does the author conclude?" Payal asked.
"Ermm..." Khushi fumbled, "He leaves it as an open ending... like the reader can make their own interpretation."
"Oh. Okay," Payal furrowed her eyebrows and spoke after a few moments. "Well, my take on it would be the fairy has tethered herself to the girl."
Khushi gave her a confused look.
"See," Payal explained, "the first time the girl thinks she heard the fairy was when the fairy was apologizing to her for breaking her late mother's pearl necklace?"
"Yeah." Khushi had modified the event when Arnav had broken her parent's crystal glass - something which, she held very dear. That was the night, Arnav whispered a "sorry" and she thought she had heard something.
"That was a start, of sorts. That was the first time the fairy had earnestly felt any emotion for a human." Payal explained.
Khushi silently nodded, urging Payal to go on.
Payal continued, "The next time when the girl can hear her is when the fairy is massively apologetic about causing the girl to fall off the staircase. She had unintentionally hurt her and then saved her too. That's another moment where the fairy, who had till then been aloof of humans, had shown care and concern for one."
Khushi put her fingers on her lips, brows furrowed deep in thought. It was when Arnav had tried to frighten Khushi to make her leave, which backfired and caused her to fall unconscious. He had then texted Payal for help. He had told her how worried and anxious he was when he thought he had injured her gravely.
"That... makes sense," Khushi commented, softly, correlating the incidents.
Payal was now speaking excitedly, "And then the girl and the fairy begin to talk, the more they talk, get to know one another, care for one another, the deeper the bond grows. And the day the fairy could leave the castle was to save the girl as she dangled from the cliff; it was a life or death situation."
The night of the Shyam incident, Khushi reflected. That was the night she was in mortal peril and Arnav somehow, could break out of his confines and save her.
"Because the fairy had, most probably unknowingly tethered herself to the girl, she could break free of the curse and leave the palace!" Payal concluded, "It's one of those unspoken, unknown connection - they don't seem to be aware of it, but it ties them."
Khushi mulled over Payal's words. Of course it was just a guess-work, but what if it was true? What if that was what had truly happened between her and Arnav?
"Thanks Payal... I never really thought about it." Khushi's eyes lit up like she had an epiphany.
After Khushi came back from her walk, by late evening; Payal did not accompany her. It was a welcome sight for Arnav. He had wanted to spend some time alone with her. It did cross his mind that Payal could be behind her and might come up any moment.
"I thanked Payal for her help and told her I was back to normal now, so she won't be coming in tonight," Khushi announced quelling his fear, as if she could read his mind.
"I think we need to talk," she added, "about that night. How did you... get out of here? I thought you were trapped."
"I was," Arnav responded, "I still am."
"That night, when I saw you being taken..." Arnav's voice trembled. Khushi's forehead crinkled. Arnav assumed she must have realized how bitter an experience it was for him.
He regained his voice and continued, "I was sick with worry and anger and frustration. I used everything that I had, that I could muster and just pushed through the barrier. The moment I was out, I sensed where you were and rushed to you."
Khushi placed her fingertips on her lips, "Hmmm... Can I try something?"
"Sure," Arnav replied, eager to know what was in her mind.
Khushi opened the main door of the flat and crossed the threshold, stopping at the landing.
Arnav arched his eyebrow. She wanted him to follow her out. "Khushi," he began to voice his protest.
"Please," she breathed the word softly.
Slowly he walked to the main door, and stood below the doorframe, facing her. He took a deep breath and raised his foot. He hovered his foot over the threshold for an instant before sticking it out. The foot slid through, like there was no barrier.
Arnav gaped, looking from one foot, inside the house to the other, firmly placed outside on the doormat. With astonishment, he crossed the threshold. He was out! Without having to expend any energy, without having to focus.
Khushi, who couldn't see him, waited with bated breath. Arnav, after getting a hold on himself, spoke, "I am... out."
She clasped a hand over her mouth, "It worked! This is... this is... extraordinary." He could see her eyes glisten up.
"How is this happening?" Arnav asked, ecstatic and bewildered at the same time.
She beamed, "I have somewhat of a guess, Payal helped me figure it out. But don't you want to go out first?"
Arnav had been ecstatic at being able to leave the apartment. After months of being trapped in the four-walls, this was heaven to him. He had spent a good hour just walking around the neighborhood with Khushi by his side - feeling the rough bark of the trees and the cold ridges of the green leaves below his fingers, running his hand over the bricked walls of the alley, the surface of the wooden benches -everything that he used to see from the balcony.
They had settled on a bench in a park nearby. It was late at night and baring the watchman, there was no one in the vicinity.
"I have never felt so free," Arnav exclaimed, craning his neck up and gazing at the night sky. He pressed his back on the cold metal of the bench and closed his eyes. "Thank you."
"I am the one who should be thanking you," Khushi stated, "You saved me. Twice."
"The first time I was the one who put you in danger, I guess we can count that one out," he grinned, referring to the time when he scared her so much that she had fainted.
A giggle spilled from her throat, "Okay, once then."
Arnav ran a hand through his hair; the air around him was warm - it was a balmy June night. The air would be warmer for him, given that he was colder than an average human.
"Would you stand up and walk?" she requested.
"To where?" he asked, curious.
"Just walk straight." She was being mysterious.
Arnav obliged. He strode a few feet away from her when he felt a resistance around him. He tried to move harder but he couldn't. It was similar to the barrier that he used to feel in the house.
Turning to face her, he announced, "I can only walk till here, say a dozen feet from you."
Her mouth rounded into an 'o.' What was she getting at? She stood up from the bench and walked closer to him. He felt the resistance behind him mitigate. He backed away slowly, in surprise. The closer she came to him, the further he could go. What was happening?
He let Khushi walk up to where he was standing, in the middle of the park. She stopped when she was directly in front of him. She raised her eyes to look at him, now that she was aware he was taller than her.
"You... we..." she mumbled, in amazement, "...Are tied."
Arnav's face crinkled, unsure, "What?"
"Somehow," Khushi explained, "I don't know how, but you have... bonded with me. You have shown care and concern and sympathy," and 'affection', she wanted to add, but resisted, "for me. That is why I can hear you. That is why you could leave the house for me."
Arnav reflected on what she said and thought back to all the times there was a development in their interaction. The first time he had genuinely felt bad for her and apologized, the time when he had caused her to fall unconscious and had been so worried and distraught, the times when she touched his hand and face, the time when she had been in real threat and he was furious, a hot white rage had burned in him.
He had never felt such strong emotions for any human - only her. And that is why this was happening.
Khushi bit her lip, "It's like an invisible string which ties us."
"So, I can go wherever you are? I can be in your vicinity when you are out of the house, like an invisible barrier is around me and you are at the center of it," Arnav voiced his thoughts aloud, trying to understand this inexplicable bond that he had formed with her.
She nodded, a smile curving her lips. He reiterated, just to be sure of what she was inferring and what had actually happened. "So if I am with you, I can go where ever you go... till some distance around you? That's why I could leave the house tonight, because of you."
"It's... crazy!" Khushi replied, amazed at what she had discovered, "But that's the crux of what it is."
"That... literally makes you the center of my existence," his voice quavered - like his sun, around which his entirety revolved. He didn't notice Khushi tremble slightly when he spoke.
Arnav felt his eyes moisten. This was surreal. This was extraordinary. Not able to hold his tears anymore, he wrapped his arms around her, engulfing the tiny Khushi in his long arms.
For months he had tried to get out, to be free. After repeated failures, he had given up all hope. Till she walked in - A girl whom he'd dismissed as someone who he could get rid off in a week - this small, seemingly inconsequential girl who was now his salvation.
Khushi shifted a little in his grip, he realized he had been holding her tightly. "Sorry," he muttered and stepped back. "I just... can't believe," he mumbled fragments of sentences, "Thank you."
"Stop thanking me," she responded, "I didn't do anything. In fact you are the one who saved me... and I am very grateful to you."
"You have thanked me many times," Arnav wiped his dampened cheeks. He had never felt tears in his eyes before. This was new.
"Not properly," Khushi almost whispered and Arnav looked at her.
She lifted her hands towards his face, trying to find it. When her palms made contact with his cheeks, she lightly cupped her hands. Arnav watched in astonishment as she stood on her tiptoes and brought her face closer to his. She lightly placed her lips on his right cheek, just adjacent to her fingers.
The contact of her lips on his skin made Arnav tremble. He closed his eyes as her soft, warm lips lingered on his skin. If he turned his face slightly, their lips would brush. It took a lot of restraint on his part to not move, not even an inch.
"Thank you," she whispered. Her breath was warm on his skin and it made his heart beat faster.
She receded and without saying anything, started walking back to the house.
Arnav placed a finger on his cheek where she had just kissed him. The skin underneath his finger was warm - as was his heart. As she walked away, he felt a resistance grow behind him, almost pushing him ahead, in her direction.
Something very strange was stirring in him, strange but wonderful.
Topic started by ErisedWitch45
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