Her slender, graceful hands grip the balcony railing at the High Elders’ castle in frustration as she contemplates how it’s even possible that she’s managed to fail in life after death. Her son has followed in his father’s footsteps, precisely how everyone had assumed it would happen. They were right. He is an Alaris after all. But though a small part of her refuses to let this be the end, she still feels repentant now that things have gotten to the point where they are. She’d done everything she thought she could do to give him a way out. To protect him from the relentless Darkness that lives inside him. Even given her life.
Still, everything she’d fought so hard for was a complete failure.
“Because of your son," he snarls from behind her, "the prophecy may be lost forever. And instead of doing something about it, you’re out here sulking like a youngling.”
He'd followed her. Most likely to give her yet another tongue lashing, she supposed. But she was so tired of the back and forth, of fighting with him. They’d gotten along just fine in the past. Well, as much as they could when they’d only had brief interaction with one another.
Reluctantly, she turns to the handsome former king of Summer, his face etched in its usual frown, his expressive brown eyes so very worried, so disappointed in her. Well, he can get in line with the others. All of the High Elders that think she has some type of power here, some type of control over her son.
She’d just claimed she’d needed a break just to get away from the High Elders’ Council. They were asking for far too much…or far too little if they’d known what she was willing to risk.
Still, she’d given enough. She didn’t have much more to give but her very existence. Maybe they can take the guilt. She had that in abundance. She’d give anything for that feeling to go away. Or maybe she deserved to die for good this time. It was her family causing the issues in the realm when all was said and done. Her disgusting brother. Her...son. All because of what they were. Because of what lineage lay dormant in their blood.
Her greatest secret.
Her unwelcomed visitor’s golden blond hair blows in the eternal warm breeze of Elysium. His face used to be one of power and regality. His sacrifices were so like her own. A father for his daughter, and a mother for her son. Now, as she looks upon that face, she can't help but to feel sorry for him. Sorry that she didn't have the chance to raise her son to be the kind of male that respected the one female he so very clearly loves.
Unable to look at him in the eyes for much longer, her gaze drifts to the sky, to the bright sun that shines simultaneously with the brilliance of the stars. It’s bizarre how the climate in Elysium seems to consist of all Houses of the Elite Courts rolled into one, Spring, Summer, Winter, Autumn. Though strange, Elysium is breathtaking. Something out of the humans’ fairy tales, but far more than anyone could have envisioned. They live in the clouds with God himself, though she's not met him yet. And up here is a mystical haven filled with magical beings that delegate from above even in the afterlife.
“You have nothing to say? Still, nothing to contribute?”
Oh, if he’d only known.
She gives a subtle jerk of her head at his last words, attempting to compose herself as she smooths her wind-blown black hair behind her pointed ears.
All of it—all of it had gotten so damn out of hand at the last Druid and Elder Council meeting. So detrimental to the very existence of their former realm. The realm they’d belonged to for a time when they’d both relied on oxygen to exist—the lives of those who presently reside in the realm resting on the backs of two Coraniaid that oppose their love for one another like they're holding up shields against enemy lines. She still manages to feel as if it’s all her fault. The guilt settles deep within her as it consistently does. She is a mother, and two out of three of her own have chosen the Darkness. First her daughter, now her son. What does that say about her mothering capabilities? Why couldn't the two of them resist Darkness's lure like her firstborn twin?
If she weren’t so wary of the repercussions, she’d have proposed to the Elders that her interference, though illicit, was pressing. She’d have let go of the trepidation and liability that seizes her. Insisted that the responsibility to reach out to her nefarious son was her burden to bear. She needed to inform him that the existence of their home lies in the union between her son and his true mate. She should be permitted to speak to him and get him to see reason. Let him know it's time to get rid of his guilt and his anger at feeling less than those around him. But she’s not allowed to interfere. Especially her, being lower than an Elder. It’s frustrating.
How similar she and her son were in their thought process? Outcasts who never fit in, too powerful to belong in one category over another.
"You don't get to feel sorry for yourself," her best bud's mate says now. And it’s like he glimpsed exactly what she was feeling. "You don't get to stay silent when my daughter—"
"I know! I—" She pauses to wipe the wayward tear that slides down her cheek. "My son is hurting your daughter. And I'm so very sorry! He's...he's losing himself."
He reaches out to grab hold of her wrist when she bows her head in shame.
"Then let's do something! Help me do something about this," he quietly demands. “Help the Elders take action against the darkness.”
There’s only one way to help and the Elders won’t like it. It’s forbidden.
He stares into her green eyes, a softer look this time. One that offers comradery instead of their usual rivalry. They could be family one day, through union. It's time they started acting like it.
"My mate made a lot of mistakes," he offers. "Did a lot wrong to me, our daughters. But I forgave her because I love her, even in death. It is the same with you and your mate, I'm sure. Despite their transgressions, I'm not opposed to believing that Cassien and Luna can forgive as well."
"When Autumn arrives—" he starts.
"You heard the High Elders! When Autumn arrives, it will prove that my son has done the unforgivable."
"No, Giselle." Mikael breathes fervently. "It will prove that the prophecy is being fulfilled, just as we predicted. And it's time we take our rightful place and decide what role we're going to play."
It’s exactly what she’d needed to hear. She’d known the role she’d play for some time now. Could she sway him, get him to make the sacrifice with her?
Giselle confronts Mikael determinedly. It’s now or never. They’d have to break the most pertinent law and take the punishment when it came.
“What if I told you there was one more player that may shift the battle to come in our favor,” she whispers covertly. “and it would call for us to allow a certain white-haired Nymph to step in?”