Elethor kissed my forehead lightly as I lay in his arms, relishing the feel of his fingers lazily trailing up and down my spine. My eyes were closed and his heartbeat echoed in my ear louder somehow with my lack of sight. I loved it, I loved this moment and most importantly I loved him. We lay nestled in each other’s arms among our discarded clothing, still and silent a slight breeze from the abyss playing along our skin. He broke the silence first…
“Do you want to talk about him?” he asked, and I knew only one man that he could or would speak of at a time like this.
“He is a good man.” I said simply then after a pause went on to say, “He was there, when I woke in the infirmary with a shattered memory. He was patient and kind and took me for who I was and I grew to love him after a time. He took care of me.” Elethor held me tighter and tipped my chin with gentle fingers so that I would look at him.
“Do not think me upset with you Sirona, I could never be that. I understand, you thought me dead, you mourned and you grieved and you moved on…” I stopped him cold, my fingers against his lips.
“No. Never that, I never moved on Elethor, I tried but I couldn’t.” And I told him what Fenin had told me. He held me tighter than even before and kissed me deeply when I was through, before settling me against his shoulder in silence again. When he spoke, his voice trembled with emotion which he had never been good at expressing aloud, even a thousand years ago.
“I never took a lover; I couldn’t do that to anyone, knowing that even if I made love to them it would always be you I would be seeing, wanting… needing.” He cuddled me closer and we lay still for a long time.
“I am not looking forward to telling him… but I will, before anything else goes further.” I held to him for long moments when the flutter of feather and the light tread of landing reached us. We stiffened, his arms locking me to his body his hands gone icy against my back as he called upon his magic. I could not see pressed against his chest as I was but I let out a breath I hadn’t known I was holding when he relaxed and his hands grew warm against my skin once more. I turned cautiously to see his friend Billy at the entrance to the cavern. He cast his eyes to the floor and quickly turned away to allow us the illusion of privacy. Elethor reluctantly let me go and we dressed.
Most of the buttons to my blouse were missing and so I made do by overlapping the front as tight as I could and tucking the ends into the waistband of my skirt. I tried very hard not to be sad, knowing that our time was short and all ready to an end with one another, and it was as if Elethor read my mind, gathering me to his chest and holding me gently speaking softly into my ear for his words were meant only for me.
“The fifth day of every month at the dark of Elysea my keairrah, I will be waiting for you. If my duty calls me away you will find a letter beneath the boulder to your right. I will look for word from you if you are not able to come.” He kissed my temple then and took a step back, sorrow and regret etched into the lines of his face.
“Elethor!” I stopped him before he could take wing. He looked at me standing forlorn with my staff and waited expectantly. “I love you.” I said and put all the feeling I could behind the words. He smiled and nodded at Billy, who looked decidedly distressed and they both took wing, disappearing into the Abyss.
I stood in the cavern and prayed for a long time, for strength and for guidance but it seemed Aion was not listening today for I felt neither as I took wing myself and wheeled toward Roah. I flew carefully, and Aion’s grace was with me after all for I encountered no one. I touched down lightly and arms crossed over the ruin of my blouse took a teleport to Teminon, then to Verteron then to Sanctum where I moved swiftly through the night darkened streets toward home.
I slipped through the front door to our dwelling and shut it quietly and firmly behind me, resting my forehead against the satiny Ulmus wood for a bit. The creaking of one of our galley chairs caused me to turn to face the darkened room and Aalairius who now leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees, large hands clasped together as he considered me with his light gray eyes, brow furrowed.
“Where were you this time Sirona?” he asked taking in my disheveled appearance. “The truth this time, no lies.” He added.
“The abyss,” I said with my lips tingling with dread.
“Who is he?” he asked standing in one fluid motion, eyes narrowing as they shrewdly ticked down the front of my torn blouse, stopping at each missing button. I closed my eyes and felt my heart sink, and I told him the truth, all of it.
“His name is Elethor, or rather Elethor is alive, and not lost in the Cataclysm as I first thought…” I went on to tell him everything, how it had been Elethor that had saved me from my captors, and cared for me and how he had made certain I was returned to Elysea. I spoke swiftly and kept my eyes closed out of cowardice, afraid to see his face, of what he would think of me… when I opened them he stood so close, bare inches from my front a look of pure incendiary rage veiling his features. I swallowed hard, and for the very first time ever I feared Aalairius, the man who had cared for me for the last two years, who had held me gently when I cried, and kissed me gently when I smiled and made love to me so softly the times in between. It should not have surprised me what he did then, though I admit that it did.
His hand was a blur as it swung up and out. I tasted copper as the back of it connected with my jaw, the entirety of my face going numb from hairline to chin with the shock of the blow. It was so sudden and so fierce it knocked me to the floor, the tears welling in my eyes and spilling crystalline down my face before my mind caught up to the pain. I looked up at him from my prone position on the floor but he would not look at me, his voice when it came was low and angry and reminded me of the distant sound of thunder of an impending storm.
“Get out. Get your things, and leave my house and never come back, I don’t have room for a whore under my roof. You have an hour, you had better be gone before I return or I will end you.” He looked at me then and the anger that shone from his face terrified me. “Do you understand me?” he asked “I will end you.” And with that final threat he yanked open the door and stepped through, slamming it behind him. I hugged my knees to my chest and let out a choking scream of a sob and wept my bitter angst onto my skirted knees.
I had deserved every bit of what he said, every bit. When I had managed control of myself again, shoving all the hurt and tears away in a box that I locked and shoved to the core of my being where it remained barely contained, I rose numbly, and coldly began shoving my things away in my cube and a spare trunk. I took my armor, my weapons, and my clothes and a bag of kinah I had managed to save, and when I looked back at the home I had shared with Aalairius, the man I had loved, the man that I still loved I felt empty.
I hauled the trunk before me and left, marching purposefully through the late night streets, worrying my swollen lower lip between my teeth as I moved deeper into the city. I had no place to go, but one… and I prayed to Aion that his light be merciful and that I be taken in. I reached my destination as the tears began to flow again and took a deep breath and knocked. The door to Ailsie’s home opened, a rectangle of golden firelight spilling out into the street illuminating me. She looked startled for a moment and then her shoulders sank and I burst into sobs. She reached out and hugged me and spoke her peace.
“Oh Sirona… Aion told you to love them both, but he never said they had to love you back did he?”
I cried into my friend’s shoulder my trunk forgotten at my feet and cursed myself. I loved them both, so much, so very much… but I had been so short sighted and taken their love in return for granted… Ailsie was right, neither of them had to love me back and though Elethor did, he was a world away from me and now, I doubted Aalairius ever could or would love me back again. In that moment I wished ardently that he had seen fit to end me, in fact I wished it very much.
I prayed then. Aion save me from myself...