A few weeks later
"....We now return to you your faithful servants, Greyson and Lucinda Collins...." The preacher's words faded as they reached Petrova's ears. She glanced down at the two roses in her gloved hands and silently let a few more tears escape. Today just seemed so surreal to her. She had risen early, her mind giving her a sense of false hope... that the explosion had never happened, that her parents would arrive home, safe and sound, and they would be together again. But Petrova knew the truth: that her parents weren't coming home. They were never coming home to her.
She felt Lily take her hand, giving it a small squeeze. Casting the other woman a brief sideways glance, she noticed her head was bowed in prayer with the others. Petrova closed her eyes and copied them. She knew she shouldn't be angry with God, but there was a part of her that didn't understand why this had to happen to her. Why did my parents have to die? It cried out. Why did you take them from me? She grasped Lily's hand tighter, graciously accepting the comfort the gesture provided. The prayer concluded with a dull chorus of "amen." People gathered small flower boquets in their hands and Petrova led them to the headstone of her parent's grave. Slowly she bent forward -as forward as the corset under her dress would allow- and carefully placed the roses on the damp ground. "Goodybe." She whispered.
Hours passed, and yet Ren Castiel still stood at the same bridge, in the same spot, like a statue. He pulled out the paper he'd bought earlier from his coat and read the headline.
TRAGIC EXPLOSION CLAIMS NEARLY 100 LIVES.
He had no desire to read the article, it was the black and white photograph that captured his attention. It was a truly devastating image, depicting a train bursting into flames, black smoke towering above it in thick, dark clouds. Thunder rumbled in the distance, drawing Ren back to reality. He tucked the paper neatly inside his coat, shoving his hands into the pockets. His fingers encountered a crumpled piece of paper and he pulled it out, frowning as he smoothed out the wrinkles. It was his ticket for the train. His ticket to freedom. With a sigh, he tossed it over the bridge, into the dark river below. He had to accept the fact that he was still trapped by the past he wished nothing more than to forget.
Harry braced himself, anticipating a raging fire to sweep through the train.
The passengers, however, weren't convinced. In just a matter or moments, the corridor of the train flooded with bodies and the sound of their frantic shouts and cries. Harry joined them, moving silently as they headed for the exit. He had just stepped off the train when a tiny spark evolved into a towering sea of inferno. Then, above the roar of the fire and panicked voices, Harry heard a second sound: a high pitched children's wail. With a surge of undaunted bravery, Harry leapt back on board, his eyes immediately assaulted by the heavy smoke. He pulled the collar of his shirt up over his nose to act as a filter between his sense and the pollution.
He kept his eyes open, despite their protests, and his ears searched wildly to locate the source of the child's cry.
A few compartments behind the one he had previously occupied, Harry spotted a small, humanoid shape curled against the door frame. Harry rushed towards the figure, avoiding broken glass, shattered doors and other debris. He was close enough to observe the physicality of the child. The boy was no more than six or seven, with a shock of ginger hair and a smothering of freckles across his nose. His wide, blue eyes gazed up at Harry, pleading and full of questions.
"Come on." Harry said, bending down. "I'll get you out of here."
With the faith only a child could possess, the boy reached out to Harry. A minor explosion from up ahead caused the boy to whimper and return to the security of his door frame.
"We need to go." Harry couldn't hide the urgency in his voice. "Come on now, quickly."
The child stood and rushed to the comfort and safety Harry's arms provided. Hoisting the boy up, Harry turned around and fought his way through falling beams, and choking smoke to the exit once again.
An exultation of joy alerted Harry that the boy's parents had seen their son alive. He was immediately submerged in a tangle of arms and tears and voices saying, "Thank you. Oh, thank you," and "God bless you, son."
"We need to leave." Harry coughed. "The station isn't safe. The train-"
The train, at that moment, was engulfed in a fireball as the result of an explosion that easily put the first one to shame. A searing, white hot pain shot through Harry's knee. Too stunned to cry out, he grasped his knee and sank to the station's soot covered floor. Bright dots danced across his vision as his hand encountered a shard of metal that protruded from the back of his knee. His gaze blurred as a figure approached him, the white dots burning brighter….
Harold Bane woke with a start, surprised to see the dull gray light in his chamber. It was daylight, sheltered by the heavy clouds of an approaching storm. As his body woke from a deep, medicated slumber, Harry noticed that the pain in his leg had lessened, but still burned like a flickering flame. His eyes fell on a slender piece of elegant mahoghany, arched to a slight curve at the top. A cane. He slid off the bed and hit the floor with a low thud as his leg buckled beneath him. Groaning as the pain increased, he crawled towards the cane, grabbed it, and slowly pulled himself to his feet. He had just barely caught his breath when a maid rushed into the room. "Oh! Master Bane! Are you alright?"
"Yes." He answered, not looking at her. His attention was on the cane that beared the weight of his permanently injured leg. He knew if he were to let go of it, he'd crumple onto the wooden floor again. He couldn't function properly without it. This was his life now.
Even during the darkest of times, hope can always be found. And it will be, as Petrova, Harry, and Ren all come to the same realization: life does and will go on.