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Hi, everyone! Remember me? Yeah, I'm alive! And about this chapter, I only can say that I need to rush to the Edmund's planet already (Interstellar fans will know what I mean :D).
Two more days passed peacefully in the hospital, nothing eventful happening and Ranveer's condition recovering well. The doctors suggested they were satisfied with the results he was giving and they needed no more assurances that his well being was on the right path and soon he would be able to lead a normal life. The days in the hospital had indeed broken him, but family's support and care would ensure his recovery well now.
However, the fear that Ishani's heart foreboded did not yet come to any conclusion: Was all of it just an illusion caused by the happenings or there was something she was missing out even now? That could wait though and she needed to look after her family before.
If in all the matters Ishani was truly unhappy was because of Ranveer's coldness towards her, but she made herself understand what he had gone through both mentally and emotionally since last couple of months and the treatment truly worked as a means to break him, so it was better he was given time to understand everything. But she hated that he hadn't talked to her since last two days at all!
The doctors recommended for the radiation therapy, citing it was essential for the next 4 months so that the cancer cells could truly be destroyed and Ranveer would once again be free of the pain. But as expected, he denied it. Why, no one knew.
"Kaki, I will manage it," Ishani said to a panicking Amba who let her go to Ranveer and have the much needed conversation with him. Ishani entered his ward as all felt ridiculously empty: the room, its ambiance; the life within it seemed to have been drained out. She sighed. Her eyes tracing Ranveer who lay there, his face turned away from hers. She sat beside him, and took his hand in hers which managed to get him out of his thoughts and bring his attention towards her.
"What's wrong, Ranveer?" she asked him softly while his eyes bore into hers deeply. "Why don't you listen to what the doctors are saying? They want you to get well. That's it. Please try to understand." She wondered if he would answer her at all or not, but to her pleasant, surprise he did.
"I want to go home," he answered in a shallow voice. "Can you please do that for me?"
"What!" Ishani started. "But, no... You can't right now. Ranveer, you need to get better before returning home... it's not possible now."
He smiled. "I can't expect a slightest thing from anyone, right? Maa, Baba, you, Puneet. All are same." He turned his back to her while Ishani felt at unease and moved closer to him.
She placed her hand on Ranveer's shoulder who did not respond to her touch, and lay with his back on her side. "This demand is so stupid and childish, Ranveer. We cannot do anything in this case... not until the doctors agree themselves."
He turned to her, his eyes gleaming lightly in the soft glow of the room. "Go, and talk to them," he said.
"They wouldn't agree."
"I don't have to stay in the hospital for the treatment anymore," he said. "The rest can easily be followed at home. Don't you think so?"
Ishani shook her head. Ranveer and his stubbornness.
What scheme did Ranveer apply in front of the doctors, Ishani could not tell, but the result was what he exactly had wanted. As soon as doctor Gregson emerged from Ranveer's ward, he had a warm smile on his face and he called Ishani to his cabin. Upon arriving there, he mentioned to her that Ranveer could be discharged from the hospital in the next two days but there would be some side-effects of the treatment that would fade away gradually but might bother them in the initial days of his discharge. Rest, he assured, would be handled by the doctors of the hospital themselves.
Ishani assured him she would take care of her Ranveer properly.
"You must be happy now," she said to Ranveer as he sat there in the room, staring out of the door blankly. Ishani still visited him regularly but his behavior did not change. More than anything, it remained resolute as long as she was with him. The feeling of hopelessness not yet left her, but the life returning in Ranveer's eyes gave her strength as well. He was her strength after all!
"When can I leave?" he asked, speaking for the first time since she came to him this evening.
"Tomorrow evening," she smiled. "I'm so happy, Ranveer... finally... everything will be alright!" Her eyes shone as she looked at him, and she could tell his features lightened as she spoke, but he said nothing else.
"Ishani, can I stay alone for some time?" he asked, and Ishani's speech came to an abrupt end. He somewhere meant to make himself look rude, but failed terribly at the attempt.
"Of course," she said, standing up, and smiling broadly as if his rudeness had not dampened her spirit at all. "The doctors said you'll be needing some proper rest and checkups before they discharge you."
Ishani walked towards the exit of the room, but before exiting the threshold, she turned back and planted a surprised kiss on his forehead. She ruffled his hair as he stared at her, shocked, before getting out of the moment. Ishani smiled. He tried making appear things as if nothing had happened but that look on his face said suggested otherwise.
"You can never change, Mr. Vaghela!" she whispered, getting out of the ward.
"It's better if you stay for two more days, bhaiya," Ishani said, looking at Sharman. "We'll be leaving tomorrow, and I'll need you and Pratiek right now..."
Sharman smiled at his sister. "Ishani," he said, "the worst has passed and you and Ranveer both have survived through this. You think there's anything worse that can happen? Worst has gone! And there's something important back at home too."
Ishani noticed a blush on his face.
"She?" Ishani teased. "Oh, now I understand...well, two more days, please? What's her name?"
"Samira," Sharman answered. "And you are the first person to know about this."
Ishani's face gleamed with happiness and she smiled. "Congrats, bhaiya! But could you stay for one more day only? For Ranveer and me? I'm sure he will be glad to see you and Pratiek stay here."
Before Sharman could say anything more, Pratiek entered the scene, panting.
"What happened, Pratiek? Are you alright?" Ishani asked.
"She's right, Sharman bhai," he said. "And I have cancelled our flight tickets. We'll be leaving the day after tomorrow. Do you think it's alright to leave all of it like this? Leave our sister alone?"
Sharman chuckled. "Ah, so you've grown up as well."
"Why do you people treat me like a baby all the time? I'm not so anymore," Pratiek cried and Sharman and Ishani laughed.
"Of course you're not!" Sharman said, and turned to Ishani. "Ishani, I think one more day wouldn't do any harm. We will leave once Ranveer goes safely home tomorrow."
"Thank you, bhaiya!"
Sharman and Pratiek left, leaving Ishani in her thoughts. She saw Kailash and Amba off who reluctantly left that day, given their son was doing now better and they could talk to him as well, but due to their own health issues and old age, Ishani made sure they took proper rest. Matters between her cousins and Amba were not yet resolved, for she still refused to listen to them, or even Ishani, for that matter.
"For how long can you carry this grudge, Amba?" her husband asked her, to which she only answered she didn't need sympathy of anyone who were once the cause of her son's miseries. Their fake concerns were not a matter of concern for her, and she would rather keep him away from them from now on.
Ishani's thoughts went back to her mother and all the events that had taken place before she left that day. Sharman and Pratiek did not know much about why her behavior had changed, but it was now clear that her mother knew about the incidents that occurred after her and now was very much aware of everything; and so were her entire family. But the truth was, no one cared even now. Were Amba's calculations right about her family?
"They don't even care about you, Ishani, how do you expect them to bother with anyone else?" she had said last night and Ishani could not help but wonder if it was true.
Did her mother really know about Ranveer's condition when she had last met him?
Ishani shivered as the cold air rushed towards her cruelly. The question hitting her with an insane coldness. Her mother didn't believe in love, but had she turned so cold hearted that...? Ishani dared not think, and in her heart, prayed she was wrong. But was she?
The only one who had really asked about her and Ranveer was Gauri, and was happy for her.
"I knew you both loved each other," she had said on phone a day before. "Since your message about the incidents of that day in our house, and breakup with Chirag... I felt I'm happy for you both, and will pray no other villain enters your love story anymore. You two have seen enough already!"
Ishani had giggled at this. "Our story probably wouldn't exist without villains," she had said, amused.
"It's rare you get what you love, Ishani," she advised, before disconnecting the call. "And never ever let him go."
How could she let him go?
The next day arrived quickly, the formalities done by Ishani and Puneet already made the process easier to discharge Ranveer out of the hospital.
"Don't strain yourself physically anything, Mr. Ranveer, for atleast next 3 weeks," Mr. Gregson said before signing the papers, and smiled. "You still aren't allowed to speak too much, and it will be better if you do avoid that as well. And for the rest, as you have been told, you must follow that."
Ranveer kept quiet, without giving any idea to what his thoughts really were, and Ishani herself found it harder to conceive them as she looked at him.
"I would like to talk to Miss Ishani now," the doctor said and Puneet escorted Ranveer out of the room, leaving Ishani now with the doctor.
And when only she remained there in the cabin, the doctor took out the rest of the reports and handed them over to Ishani.
"They're the final reports of his treatment in our hospital. We're both glad and surprised by how well he has done since past few days... and now I'm also glad to say that he can be discharged from here." He smiled.
"Doctor, he's completely fine, is he not?" Ishani said, fidgeting the bracelet in her wrist listlessly and looking at the doctor in anticipation.
"Well, yes..." he started reluctantly, but fell silent for a while before speaking again. "There are bound to remain some symptoms of pineoblastoma even after his surgery. As I told you, cancer cells never truly die, and can recur after few months and sometimes after years, so the patients have to be already careful. And sometimes there will be some fits of unusualness as well, but they will fade away with time."
"What about the rest of the treatment you had recommended, Mr. Gregson?"
"No, no, don't worry about that! He can visit us thrice a week for the rest of the checkups. Anything else?"
She wanted to ask something more, but wondered if it was the right time or the doctors would really bother with the information since something always remained hidden from her eyes about which she was thoroughly clueless, but pondering at the situation, she chose to stay silent. "No, nothing now. Thank you." She smiled and left.
By the evening things were arranged and Ishaani, holding Ranveer's hand in hers, brought him out of his ward and headed to the ground floor. He wore a deep blue shirt and black jeans while Ishani donned a simple white salwar-kameez, her hairs set loose on her shoulders. They kept silent, only their brushing fingers against each other doing the talking, making their hearts beat irregularly. Ranveer suddenly halted as they came towards the elevator, his expressions unreadable, and looked at her. Was he afraid? She could not guess.
"Let's go," she said, noticing him looking at her while he, slightly twisting his lips in a smile, slowly sidled beside her like a child. His stiff features softened a little as they reached down and headed towards the car that awaited them on the front gate. Amba and Kailash already waited there, while Puneet followed her and Ranveer behind. Sharman and Pratiek stood next to Amba and Kailash as they all beamed at their sight. Ranveer, unintentionally, squeezed Ishani's hand while she tightened her grip on his. I'll never leave you. As a reaction to her attempt, he winced and before anything else could be said, Amba took Ranveer in her arms, thanking God, and kissing his forehead while Kailash greeted him jovially. Sharman and Pratiek waved a hello from the distance while Ranveer only looked at Ishani, his eyes questioning and lost. She nodded her head, but nothing else was said.
"Sir, please..." Puneet gestured Ranveer and Ishani to the car as they settled on their respective seats, and he on the front one next to the driver's one. Kailash, Amba, Pratiek and Devarsh followed them in the next one. Ishani saw Ranveer lean back as he sighed, but did not look at her. What were his thoughts, she longed to know.
The car began its journey to RV mansion and Ishani felt her own heart flutter suddenly. So much had happened in these days and neither she nor Ranveer knew where to go from this place... what their future had written and where their life led from this destination. Despite everything, she knew she wanted to spend her life with him, and he had to know that. He couldn't torture her silently for whatever the reason he was doing do.
The journey back home was almost silent, only Puneet often speaking, asking if everything was alright with Ranveer and at his approval, falling silent.
Ishani too leaned back, watching out of the window as her life played once again in front of her eyes, fond memories returning back and providing a richly needed solace. The wave of nostalgia suddenly hit her, crashing against her vulnerable senses and somewhere drawing a soft smile upon her face. Her fingers accidently touched Ranveer's and she was jolted out of her thoughts and looked at him only to find him Staring at her already, but aloofness in his features more evident than ever.
She smiled at him and felt his eyes glisten with pain as he looked away. He retracted his hand away from hers and gulped.
"Everything will be alright, Ranveer," she said, smiling softly. His looks did not change.
Around 9 in the evening they reached the RV Mansion and, despite his fierce protests, Ranveer was rushed to his room to take rest.
"Your dinner will be sent to you right away," Amba told him, and Pratiek led him to his room. Ranveer could tell he was awed to see the things and, smiled.
"Wow, Ranveer! This is all yours!"
Ranveer smiled lightly and continued to walk. "Yes," he answered, without further elaboration.
"This is amazing! Ishani was always right about you..." he continued but fell silent seeing change in Ranveer's pained expressions. "Come, you shouldn't stress so much, Ranveer. Otherwise Ishani will murder me."
Pratiek, not knowing the way to his room, followed Ranveer and after dropping him safely there, he turned when Ranveer's voice suddenly stopped him.
"Pratiek, please tell Sharman and... Ishani to stay here tonight," he said slowly.
"No, Ranveer..." Pratiek protested but fell silent at the look in Ranveer's eyes. Who really stood in front of the glaring gaze of RV's? "All right, I'll tell Sharman bhai and he'll have better to say. And it's so kind of you, Ranveer... after whatever we did to you... you still..."
"Come on, Pratiek. I don't like this nervous boy that you are. I like that foodie Pratiek that loves to talk about food and only food! In these days, you've devolved yourself way too much... you look so weak!"
Pratiek chuckled nervously. Did Ranveer really joke? A positive revelation, indeed. "Yeah, and now Devarsh won't call me Motu and Ruchika will also accept my proposal. Isn't that amazing?"
Ranveer smiled. "Definitely!"
As Ranveer began to talk properly, Pratiek sat beside him, talking about the old times, both avoiding the matters regarding their last meeting. Certainly it wasn't the right time to talk about that... not when Ranveer had forgiven them all and held no grudges or hatred for them anymore. How time passed neither knew.
"Pratiek, what are you doing here?" Ishani's voice abruptly brought their conversation to an end, her hands full of a tray of food, their aroma making it harder for Pratiek to wait any longer. "Go, and have your dinner now. I'm sure your tummy is grumbling terribly for hours since your mouth has been silent for too long."
Ishani did not realize instantly, but suddenly Ranveer laughed at her remark and waved at Pratiek, wishing him the good night.
She looked at him now and sat beside him. "What happened?"
"Ishani, you're sometimes too much! Scared the poor soul for no reason," he said, laughing.
Ishani raised her eyebrows. "And what is it that makes you laugh?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "Just the way you said it, kind of reminded me of..."
He hesitated, but at Ishani's glare cleared his throat. "Well, of... Sunny Deol."
"What?" Ishani shrieked, her eyes glaring into his deeply while he cowered hesitantly.
"Now, look... you are..." he said and laughed softly again. Ishani could not help but join in the laughter.
"I love it when you laugh like this," she said, while Ranveer's smile faltered immediately. "I have waited for so long to see single smile on your face... and it seems an entire era has passed since I last saw you laugh."
He looked down and his lips curved in small smile that Ishani did not like.
"I wish this smile reaches your eyes too," she whispered. "Now, have something for dinner, Ranveer."
"I'm not hungry," he protested.
"You are no superhuman either," Ishani snapped. "Plus, there's nothing you wouldn't like. I made mushrooms for you!"
"Ishani, I don't--" he said, but she interrupted him.
"I know you are not very fond of them, but they're good for your health!" Ishani served him the dinner.
"What about you?" he asked.
"I'll have my share once you are done. And I'm not hungry either."
"Of course! You are the robot," Ranveer said and laughed again. Ishani glared at him but her expressions turned into those of fondness as their eyes met.
"Keep smiling." She sighed. "I'm happy you are back, Ranveer."
"So am I," he replied, his voice lost.
Ranveer insisted her for dinner that Ishani denied again and again, but at his insistence had to give in. After they finished their dinner, one of the servants cleared the room and Ishani and Ranveer thanked him, while he bowed politely and left.
"So." Ishani turned to look at Ranveer. "It's time you do sleep now. The day has been a tiring one especially for you."
"You suffered so much, Ishani," Ranveer said, looking at the window and continuing as if he had not heard her at all. His voice was low. "You didn't have to go through any of this... you deserve better. You always have."
"And what would you have done had you been at my place?" she asked, her voice kind but stern.
Ranveer smiled guiltily and looked at her. "You know better."
"So do you."
He kept quiet.
"I only want to ask one thing," Ishani said after a while, and looking at him, found he was already staring at her. "Why did you not talk to me in the hospital these days? You felt so distant... just like when we had met months ago here in London. I hated that."
He hesitated a little. "I... just... didn't think..."
"That you will never make it after all that happened?"
Ranveer withdrew his gaze away while Ishani moved closer to him, her palms finding their way to the either side of his cheeks. "Look at me, Ranveer," she whispered slowly. "What is it? What's wrong?" She could feel his warm breath falling on her face softly as he looked at her again.
"Nothing," he managed to say, feeling his eyes glide down to her lips. Somehow, he looked up as her teary eyes met his and he felt his heart skip in his chest. How could he feel the same after all those years?
Ishani brought her face closer to him and their foreheads touched, their eyes closed, their breaths erratic, their hearts insanely vulnerable and souls yearning for a comfort nowhere else but found only in each others' arms. He felt her head nestle on his chest, soft sobs leaving her lips and his fingertips finding their way to her hair, tucking the strands back behind her ear. He wrapped his arms around her as she moved incredibly closer to him as if the slightest distance between them would tear them unbearably apart for worse. He slowly tried retracting his arms away but they seemed to be resisting themselves and would not budge away, instead, he found them circle around her waist tightly. How could one fight against their deepest desires anyway?
"Ishani?" he said softly, caressing her back while she only nodded. "You, too, are tired. Go and take some rest. It's already late."
She looked at him once again, her eyes glistening with tears, and her grip on his shirt stronger than ever. "Why does it not feel all right, Ranveer? Why everything feels so incomplete... so lost?"
"Everything will be alright," he answered, and a reluctant smile passed through his lips. Why did his smile not look real? Why his touches felt restraining themselves even now? What was wrong with him? Ishani could only question herself and none of them would be answered.
"As long as you have with me, everything itself will be alright," she said confidently, stressing on each word, while she felt him shudder. "We'll never part now..." She needed not say anything more. He smiled as her own lips curved into one.
"What amuses you so much all the time?"
"You." She smiled. Either it was the effect of the night and her drowsiness or something was actually different about him, but she could not deny that in the blue shirt he wore, he looked incredibly handsome. She wondered how he would react if she told him this but that blush on his face would be worth an attempt.
"You look great," she whispered in his ear, while he, surprised, looked at her as if she had something he had never heard before. A mischievous smile crossed her face while Ranveer smiled shyly.
"Don't be so stupid, Ishani," he answered. "Lack of sleep and rest has really gotten in your brain. You do truly need some sleep."
Ishani truly did as a soft yawn left her lips and she smiled; and reluctantly separating herself from him, and sluggishly stood up. To her surprise, the sky appeared blanketed in the thick dark clouds, no star visible in the least, and the air dense. The garden below was a heaven.
"It's so different today," she said, looking back at him, and he smiled.
"It indeed is," he agreed. "But there's something more..." He looked at her as if to find his answer but she shrugged her shoulders and began drawing the curtains back into their place.
"In case it rains at night, it won't bother you," she said, and tucked the blanket upto him. For a moment there was a strong urge to kiss his forehead, but the way he behaved recently these days, she chose resist it and turned back to leave.
"Ishani..." She heard him say and she looked back. "Can you stay for a more while, please?" Butterflies suddenly danced in her belly, and she, trying to hide her insane excitement, sat back beside him. To keep the nervousness at bay, she breathed deeply, and wondered if he noticed any of her antics and what would he think of them. "Are you all right?" His voice surprised her and she opened her eyes.
"Yes. Sometimes... things go beyond your abilities and you can't do anything about them. That's what is happening to me," she confessed, and smiled nervously.
He sat up, leaning his back on the pillow and looked into her eyes intensely. "I want to thank you for everything you did for me... Maa told me everything that happened when I wasn't there. She really likes you. And I'm sorry for my behavior all this time in the hospital. I never meant to..." His voice faltered as her eyes glared at him.
Ishani raised her eyebrows as another set of thoughts blurred her vision. Since when the things were to be so formal between them? While in her thoughts, she felt him lean towards her and gently plant a kiss on her forehead, his hands cupping her cheeks. Her eye involuntarily closed as he lingered his lips there for a while before slightly retracting them back. Ishani blinked lightly, the dancing butterflies now more agitated than ever, her heart racing wildly while a blush crept over her face when she found him staring at her, his eyes ablaze with a passion she had never witnessed before. It felt frightening.
What kind of storm was approaching them now?
"Ranveer--" she tried to say something, her eyes staring intently into his, but words melted in her mouth as she saw him leaning closer towards her until the distance between them was blurred with the sounds of their breaths; and in a while, she felt his lips gently collide with hers, as her own descended into his, softly, tenderly and her grip on his neck involuntarily tightening slightly harder. Suddenly the sound of the rainfall began reaching their ears as if the long remaining bondage of longing between the heaven and the earth had been shattered, and eventually the heaven had decided to kiss the earth, making her his own with all the passion he could muster in that moment. Ishani held onto Ranveer closely and tightly, their hearts beating fiercely against their chests as the kiss grew deeper and deeper. Tears slowly rolled down her cheeks as a sweet pain stung her heart, but she did not stop. She did not want to. And nor did he. The rain fell harder outside as he deepened the kiss, tasting her lips intensely, softly until they could not breathe. One last time Ranveer left a peck on her lips before they separated and Ishani looked at the floor, a wide smile on her lips, her cheeks red.
She withdrew her arms away from him and then embraced him tightly as if living all the lost moments in the shadow of misery in that one moment. As if there might not be a tomorrow. He responded, wrapping his arm around her tightly, and lovingly caressing her back, and rested his head on her shoulder. The rain had subsided, leaving behind the fragrant breeze of the night.
"I want to sleep, Ranveer," she said, without stirring or getting up, while he only smiled, tucking her hair back once again.
"I know you are tired," he whispered in her ears, but she did not respond back. "Ishani?"
She kept quiet, her light snores now reaching him quietly as her body slumped against his.
He smiled as he saw her now. She had fallen asleep in his arms.
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