DISCLAIMER: "Peaky Blinders", its story and all its characters belong to Steven Knight and BBC. Only the original characters included here and their story that is not directly related to the plot of the series are mine. This fanfiction was written for entertainment purposes and I do not receive any financial benefit from it.

A/N: Welcome to my first Peaky Blinders fanfiction! English is not my first language so, if you find some grammar mistakes, please let me know in the comments. It will help me to improve my english writing. Thanks for reading!


PROLOGUE


"If you fall in love, you will put her in danger and before you know it, she will be dead."

The sermon aunt Polly had given him not too long ago replayed in his mind like a broken vinyl and chased him like a ghost through the faded alleys of Small Heath. Tommy quickened his pace and when he exhaled, his breath condensed in the freezing night air and rose into the starry sky.

Sooner or later it was going to happen. Sooner or later, she would pay the price of having loved a man like him. It had happened to Grace before, but sadly for Tommy, having experienced such a loss did not mean he could bear another one. He was in denial: she wasn't dead. Couldn't be dead because he had protected her as best he could. Tommy didn't want to accept that she was gone because by doing so he would be taking his share of the blame.

He turned a corner and at the end of the greyish street he identified a crowd in gloom. The dying yellow lantern in front of the old brick house barely lit their heads in wool caps and scarves. It was easy to identify the slender figure of Polly in her ermine fur coat and how she wrapped her arms around a shattered Ada, trembling and victim of a pain-filled cry.

"Where is she?" Tommy asked the question desperately and breathlessly, but all he got for an answer was silence.

Polly looked at him questioningly as Ada uncovered her face and turned her attention to him. He witnessed his sister's eyes twinkle with anger and the expression of defeat was transformed into one of irrepressible hatred.

Tommy didn't see the first slap coming but was able to stop the second one on time by grabbing Ada by the right wrist. The woman used her available hand to punch him in the chest as she shouted insults and sobbed. Aunt Polly approached the scene and tried to stop Ada without doing much effort, revealing that she was in complete agreement with her niece's reaction.

"She's dead!" Ada shouted. Her face was red and soaked with tears. "You killed her! You, Tommy! You killed her!"

"She can't be", in his thought, Tommy didn't believe his sister's words.

"I want to see her," he demanded and turned his attention to the facade in front of him. The wooden door was half-closed.

"What for?" Now it was Polly who spoke to him and she did it with a frown. Ada had lost herself again in her aunt's embrace. "Do you think your sister would be like this if her friend were alive? Do you think you can resurrect her?" Polly didn't even give him time to process her words. "She's dead, Thomas. It was the fascists who pulled the trigger but it was you who indirectly put that bullet in her head. I warned you and I warned her. Neither of you listened to me. I thought you two would be less stupid. I was wrong.

"I want to see her," he repeated and witnessed Polly squinting at him, confused.

"Oh, Lord," her aunt exclaimed in a worried sigh. "You are devastated, don't you? You don't believe me."

" No, I don't believe you", Tommy answered in his mind but something had broken inside him. Something had changed since he received that call and went to the darkest corner of the city that saw him born. Something had left his soul when he caught a glimpse of Ada in that state, and a familiar old feeling of dread began to run through his body. It was the realization, the awareness that the nightmare had ceased to be a distant dream and had become a reality. If he had to be honest with himself, he knew that she had died from the moment Polly called him, but only then did his heart begin to assimilate it.

He swallowed and it seemed to his throat as if he were swallowing sand. His eyes watered and burned from the heat of the tears which he did not bother to contain. Long time ago, in France, he had learned that men also cry.

"I need to see her."

"And what will you do when you see her?" Polly looked troubled and suddenly took him by the arm as if she wanted to comfort him too. "You will do something crazy, I know. Tommy, you don't need to see that. It does us no good. Go back home".

"Tell me, what the fuck am I going to do at home?" The words came out of his mouth with something that ranged from anger to pain. "Will I have a whiskey? Will I sit in front of my bloody stove while I know she's in there, lying on the cold floor, dead because of me?"

Ada, hearing him say that, increased the sadness of her crying. People had begun to disperse as soon as they had seen him arrive and there was hardly anyone left under the lantern. The night was even colder than before.

"You have a wife and two children waiting for you at home," Polly reminded him. "Go home, and when you arrive, go to your children's room and kiss each one. Then lie down on your bed next to Lizzie, wake her up and tell her you love her. Lie to her and pretend that this never happened."

"Pretend she never existed." Those were the words that her aunt wanted to transmit but that she could not pronounce in front of Ada without risking that his sister would be the victim of a violent outburst again.

Tommy wiped his tears on the overcoat sleeve and looked in his pocket for the cigarette case. He raised his eyes to the clear sky and placed the tobacco on the lips. For as long as he could remember, the Birmingham sky had rarely been so clean, so overflowing with stars. With a lighter he lit his cigarette and turned away, but not before looking one last time towards the wooden door. An impulse charged with vehemence cried out for him to enter the brick house, but he managed to dispel that thought when he remembered the fateful night when Grace had died in his arms: that image had been etched in his mind and would be there, eating away his soul until the day the heart gave its last beat. He knew that he could not bear another similar image without finally falling into the abyss of madness.

Polly was right: At home, a wife and two children were waiting for him. He couldn't afford to give in to insanity, not yet. Tommy would avenge the death of the woman he now left lying on the frozen ground, in a dark house in the most inhospitable corner of the city. That would be the way he would have to apologize and redeem himself for not having known how to protect her well enough.

"Sorry." Tommy apologized in a whisper and he knew she had heard him.