The cycle of time is constant. Events that have come to pass, that will come to pass, that must come to pass if time is to continue and mankind is too flourish. There are those however, that resent the tyranny of such a destiny and will do anything to break rule over them.
The day Gwyneth Leodegrance’s life changed was no different to the rest of the days that had gone before it that summer, except that it was the day before Arthur’s sixteenth birthday. It was warm, they’d spent the day at Arthur’s house and the gang were playing football. Kay had taken the goal, Laurence and Arthur viciously tackling one another. Morten, Arthur’s half brother, was hanging back slightly attempting to avoid the flailing limbs and powerful kicks looking for an opportunity to take the ball from them and score. Gwyneth herself was sitting on the curb legs stretched out half watching, amused, and half listening to Laurence’s younger sister, Evelyn. The girl was two years younger than the rest of them at only fourteen and Gwyneth was trying to take an older sister role for her. Goodness knows, she needed a better role model than Laurence!
“Hey Gwen?” came the shy voice of Eve. Gwyneth glanced over at her. Large worried eyes stared up at her.
“What do you do when you like someone?” she asked, hand pulling at her t-shirt hem. Gwyneth idly pushed her hands away from doing so.
“I don’t know, it depends on who you like Eve,” she said, kindly. Eve frowned in thought, hands returning to tugging at her clothing.
“What did you do when you realized you liked Arthur?” she asked, looking at him as he was shoved to the pavement by Laurence, pretense of football abandoned, they began wrestling.
“He asked me,” she said, shortly. Relationships were not her strong point. Relationship advice, especially not. Eve glanced down again and was quiet.
“What if they’ll never ask you?” she asked, quietly. Her tone bore a trace of sorrow and Gwen turned to her properly, giving Eve her full attention.
“Who is it?” she asked gently. Eve opened her mouth to answer and then a bang. Flesh hitting metal and the screech of tires as a car shot down the street. She turned at a scream of horror from Karine and a yell from Ambrose, her eyes seeking what had caused it. A green car disappearing down the street at an insane speed and her friend gathering around a fallen person lying prone… not just any person, Arthur. She felt like she’d been hit, all the air had deserted her lungs and her mind wouldn’t process anything. Everything was focused on Arthur lying there in the road. Not moving, lifeless. She staggered to her feet as Karine rushed past her, followed by Ambrose…
“Sir, Ma’am, we a nearly there,” came a quiet voice. She glanced up, torn from her memories. Next to her her father looked equally distant. He nodded, swallowing hard. He glanced to her and they shared a look of father to daughter.
“Never gets easier,” he said quietly. Gwen nodded, not trusting herself to speak. She still missed Arthur, killed by a hit and run driver in a senseless accident two years ago. This was the anniversary of his death and the yearly memorial had come round once again. Last year had been hard, she’d hoped this year would be easier but it hadn’t been, it couldn’t be really. They may have been young but Gwen could say without hesitation that Arthur was the love of her life. It was as hard as ever to face that Arthur was gone. It just felt so wrong, like the world itself had changed with his loss. The car pulled up and her father’s chauffeur opened the door for them to exit. They had pulled up near a small church, hidden away in a grove of trees. It was a beautiful and peaceful place, before she had gone to university she had come here sometimes. When the stress of exams had gotten to much, or when she had missed the old gang and their antics. She’d sit by Arthur’s grave and tell him about how she was struggling in Maths again or some other tidbit. Then she’d wish aloud that he was here, to help her get through it all. Even though he was worse at school work than her.
In the time she spent by his grave she remembered his laid back attitude, how he’d brush of work right up until the deadline. She remembered when she was worried about something he’d drag her out to hang out with their friends until the problem didn’t seem that bad anymore.
Another thing she missed dearly. After Arthur died they had drifted apart. Kay went to a college specialising in Business. Laurence and Eve had moved, having been entrusted to a new guardian. Even Morten was very distant, spending more time with his mother and stepfather. Although she had heard through her father that Ambrose had him interning at Drake Industries now that he was the only Drake heir.
They walked through the cast iron gate of the church. Both her and her father in silence. Up ahead, Ambrose was greeting the guests.
“Good afternoon Kingsley, Gwenyth. I’m glad you could make it,” he said, in a sombre tone. Her father took his hand an shook it firmly.
“You know we wouldn’t miss it Ambrose. I was very fond of Arthur. So was Gwen,” he said. Gwen was surprised to hear the slight tremor in his voice. Ambrose nodded and once again thanked them for coming and the directed them into the church.
Here they met Karine, dressed in black and looking tearful, guiding people to their seats. She smiled at them weakly.
“Oh Kingsley, Gwen. Thank you for coming. I really appreciate it. I know Arthur would too if he were here,” she said, pulling a handkerchief from her jacket pocket. She dabbed her eyes. Gwen felt sorry for her. She’d lost her only son that day. Without warning, Karine through her arms around Gwen and held her tight.
“Mrs. Drake…,” she murmured, embarrassed at the show of affection. Karine let her go, but kept her hands on her shoulders.
“Look at you. You’ve grown so much. You really must come by and visit more often Gwen. I hope Kingsley doesn’t mind me saying but you were… are like a daughter too me. You were Arthur’s girlfriend and I’ve no doubt he’d have married you. You’re always welcome at my door,”
Gwen felt the ball of emotion in her throat threaten to well up into tears. She sniffed and looked at her shoes, trying her best not to cry.
“Thanks Mrs. D,” she whispered. Karine sniffed and let her go. Gwen was almost grateful when she directed them to her seats. They sat down, Gwen still fighting tears and her father still curiously silent. The low murmuring in the Church died as the Vicar stood in pulpit.
“Welcome everyone. I would like to thank you all for coming. Today we have gathered here to honour the memory of Arthur Drake. A young man who was kind, generous and loving,”
The vicar continued on but, like last time and the time before Gwen found herself tuning out. The vicars words sounded hollow to her. Impersonal. Instead she distracted herself by examining who had attended. A whole host of Ambrose’s business friends and associates. Including Hector Knight and his son Kay. Grief that was still raw showed plainly on both the Knight’s faces.
Hector had raised Arthur until Ambrose had tracked him down shortly before he turned 14. In many ways Arthur had been Hector’s son and Kay’s brother. Her gaze moved on. It found the Lot family, much too her surprise. Moira had been married to Arthur’s father when he’d had the affair with Karine that would eventually lead to Arthur’s birth.
He’d let Moira pregnant and penniless. She’d married a wealthy banker named Jude Lot. They’d had four sons together. Jude had given them all silly names. Her father had disapproved, she knew that much. Her gaze moved on, more people she didn’t know and finally… her heart leapt.
Laurence. His sister Eve as well with the looks of it. They were sitting with a middle aged man she couldn’t identify, perhaps their new guardian?
She turned back to the front. The Vicar was finishing his speech and asking them to pull out the hymn books. The next hour or so passed with prayers and speeches and hymns. At one point, her father had placed his hand over hers and had smiled at her. Perhaps he’d sensed her discomfort with the service. She’d turned away, not wanting him too see how much the gesture had meant.
The service ended and Gwen was almost happy to be out of the church and into the fresh air. Her father placed his hand upon her shoulder.
“Well you be okay?” he asked quietly. She nodded. Even though that was the opposite of what she felt. Small groups were forming. The church grounds were filled with low murmuring. Gwen leant against the church wall and screwed her eyes shut.
It had been two years. Why did this still affect her so much? Why did she always feel so guilty? Why couldn’t she move on from Arthur? She had moved on everywhere else in her life, she’d gone to university even.
Her eyes snapped open.
“Laurence… hey…,” she said. Her voice failing her. They stared at each other awkwardly.
“Long time no see…,” he said, rubbing the the back of his neck. He didn’t meet her eyes. Gwen didn’t really want him too.
“Yeah… I’ve been busy with… university and stuff,” she found herself saying. Laurence chuckled nervously and smiled.
“Oh that’s great. You got into uni? Which one?” he asked, he seemed genuinely interested.
“Winchester. The University of Winchester. I’m studying Sociology there,” she explained. Laurence laughed again.
“Oh man, what a coincidence! Me and Eve just moved to Winchester,”
“What!?” she found herself saying, louder than she intended. Several nearby people turned to see the source of commotion. She flushed and shuffled her feet. Laurence seemed surprised by the horror in her voice but nevertheless he offered an explanation.
“Eve just got this new sponsorship for her swimming. We moved there so we had access to the facilities they built recently,”
Eve had always been good at swimming, Gwen recalled. It had surprised no one when she started winning races but even Gwen had to admit she didn’t think Gwen was up to the standard of national and international competitions but judging by what she heard on the news she’d was definitely up to the challenge. Gwen sighed.
“How is Eve doing?” she asked, wanting to change the subject.
“She’s fine. Good. Enjoying being in the spotlight. Look Gwen, I…,”
Gwen cut him off with a flick of her hand.
“No. I know what you’re going to say and no. Let’s not get into it,” she said. Laurence looked at the floor. Gwen looked across at the gathering. Some groups were beginning to split up as their participants headed home. She spotted her father deep in conversation with Ambrose.
“I’m sorry,” said Laurence, finally. Gwen stared at him.
“I’m sorry for everything. Hurting you, the way I acted like a massive jerk at Arthur’s funeral. I was stupid and angry. I took it out on you,”
Gwen blinked back tears.
“I… I don’t know what to say. I never thought I’d see the day Laurence du Lac apologises for being a giant blockhead,” she responded, softening her words so Laurence would know she didn’t mean to hurt him with them. He grinned at her a little.
“So maybe I could get your number and we could go for a drink. Talk about old times, y’know?” he asked. Gwen hesitated before making her answer.
“Sure. Give me your number and I’ll call you when I’m back in Winchester,” she said. They traded info and chatted a while before they were approached by the man Gwen had noted earlier.
“Ah Laurence, here you are. I had started to suspect you’d escaped,” he said, smiling. Laurence grinned in response.
“Gwen this is Martin, he’s our legal guardian,” Laurence said, stepping back to allow Martin closer. Gwen smiled at him at shook his hand when Martin held it out.
“Hello Gwen, are you Kingsley’s daughter? I’m Martin Sylvestris. I got landed with Laurence and Eve, for my sins,” laughed Martin. Gwen couldn’t help thinking that his happiness was a bit out of place at a memorial service but too her knowledge he hadn’t known Arthur. It still hit her a bit disrepectful though.
“Oh Laurence, I almost forgot Eve was looking for you,” Martin said. Laurence sighed and rolled his eyes.
“Okay, sure, I’ll go find her,” he groaned before jogging off.
“We’re leaving soon Laurence. Wait by the car okay?” Martin called after him. Laurence waved his hand in response.
“Good kids. Can be handful sometimes,” said Martin. Gwen just laughed nervously. Martin was odd. Even for an old business associate of Laurence’s father. The stood in silence for a while, watching the assembled people. Even more were drifting away now.
“You were close to Arthur?” Martin asked suddenly. Gwen blinked.
“Um yes, we were dating when… when the accident happened. I was there,” she said, looking at the ground. Martin sighed.
“It wasn’t an accident Gwen,” he sounded almost frustrated, angry. Gwen stared at him. Martin stared back. Gwen clenched her fists.
“It was an accident. A stupid, stupid accident,” she said slowly. Martin turned away, a look that Gwen couldn’t quite decipher on his face.
“A hit and run. With a stolen car. The driver swerved to hit Arthur. He was going at sixty miles an hour, far too fast for a sleepy neighbourhood like Arthur’s,” he said. Gwen felt her eyes widen.
“How do you know that?” she asked quietly. After the accident she’d wanted to believe in it being a massive conspiracy. She couldn’t believe that a mere accident had taken Arthur away from her. It had been painful coming to terms that it had just been a stupid accident.
Yet, Ambrose had sworn them all to secrecy regarding the details. She doubted even Laurence would go against that and tell this man. Martin looked at her and smirked. An actual smirk.
“I’m closer to the Drake family than you know. Ambrose believes someone killed Arthur on purpose. He’s spent a lot of money trying to find out who,” stated Martin. Gwen struggled to keep her breathing under control.
“Hey Martin, you coming or am I driving us back?” Laurence yelled from the gates of the church yard. The yard was all but empty now. Just her father and the Drake’s finishing their conversation judging by the hand shaking going on.
“Ah, my cue to leave. Goodbye, Gwenyth Leodegrance,” Martin said, walking away. He passed her father with a nod. Gwen stared as he went, unable to remove her eyes from the strange man who’d shattered her tenous belief in the circumstances surrounding Arthur’s death.
“Hey Gwenno, are you ready to go?” asked her father as he reached her. She nodded, unable to quite gather her thoughts to answer him properly. She was glad he mistook her shock for grief. She didn’t want to answer questions as to what had shocked her at the moment.
Later, when they arrived home Gwen asked her father about who Martin Sylvestris was and what he did. He father had grimaced at the name.
“Damn hippy,” he’d muttered at first, which had made her even more curious about him.
“He’s an architect. He specialises in eco-housing and the stuff. Renewable energy. Ambrose adores as he helped him and Luther out of a tight spot back when they’d just taken over the company,”
And that was all she’d gotten out of her father. Still she wondered just who he was? How’d he know about Arthur’s accident? What “favour” had he done for Ambrose?