April 7, 2014

In Which Vera Is Spared

February 12, 1185

It was back.

Only a month Asalaye had been gone, and already, that horrid color was back.

She was a grown woman--old enough to understand death as well as most living ever did. Aside from that, she ought to have been used to this by now. What did it say about her that she wasn't? Why was each time more unbearable than the last?

The quick succession didn't help.

Lucien and Morgan both slept soundly. Talking always helped--and that was the only way she'd ever been able to justify letting others in on the awful secret--but she couldn't wake them. It was selfish enough, burdening them when they were awake and unoccupied. As a child, at least, she could have run to her father at any hour and he would have comforted her, but an adult couldn't get away with that.

Nor did she care to discover in her hour of need that whoever she'd gone to wake was they for whom the color called.

Who was it this time? Surely not one of her siblings, or her parents, her children, anyone else too near and dear. This was a weaker signal than the one that had come for Asalaye. Another sibling-in-law? The only sibling-in-law with whom she might have been closer than she'd been with Asalaye was Xeta. But surely it might have been a little stronger than this had it been Lettie or Falidor or Isidro...

It hardly mattered. If she'd met them twice in her life, she'd still feel it. She'd still have to live with having known, but not knowing who, not being able to stop it. Somehow, it still felt like fault.


Vera choked. The voice was near and far at once, in her head more likely than not. She hadn't heard that voice since she was a little girl, Raia clinging to her hand as she pulled her from the bedside, their parents in need of one last minute alone.

"It's all right, sweetie."

Someone's arm wrapped around her shoulders. It wasn't Lucien's touch, she knew that--nor did she think it was Morgan's. Too faint, too familiar. "Mama?"

"It's all right."

It was impossible. But she could see the silken fingers brushing tears from her eyes. She could see the blue velvet gown, the red curls. The ring she knew for a fact lay six feet beneath her father's castle pressed against her arm through her sleeve. "It's all right, sweetie."

"Mama?" Her mother, nearly eighteen years dead. Had the color come for her? She thought she'd knew if she was dead. But she was too awake to be dreaming. She was either dead or delusional. "How are you here?"

"I can't stay long."

But... how? That didn't answer how. "Mama..."

"It'll be all right, baby."

What would be all right? Vera closed her eyes. The inside of her eyelids was the same as ever, little flashes of light on the dull red backdrop. "What do you mean?"



She opened her eyes and found herself, once again, alone. Her mother was gone.

But she'd taken the color with her.



Van said...

I actually had outtakes for once.


Rachael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Penelope said...

Ach, I just feel awful for Vera. But if anything, maybe Alina's visit will remind her that she never really loses the people that she loves.

Winter said...

Interesting that Alina turned up here - and that she could take the color away. For Vera's sake, I'm glad she did. I wonder if taking the color away also took the impending death away?

Van said...

Pen: It's true that seeing her mother could ease some of Vera's death-related anxieties. The person who's about to die is more on the friend-of-the-family level than someone Vera's actually close to, but she's bound to be shook up regardless.

Winter: Alas, the dead can't stop death. :( But Alina can make things a little easier on her daughter, for now.