I look down at my hands, hands that should be marked for all of eternity. But instead of markings I see through my skin, through the billowing folds of the stark white dress I have worn since the day of my death and down to the wooden boards of the floor beneath my bare feet. The boards are more real than I am. I am simply a spirit, my demon is gone and for the first time in a long time I can breathe without the darkness inside suffocating me. It's a nice feeling, to be free. If only it was under better circumstances...
I look up from the floor to where a man sits in a large chair. His hair is long and dark, his eyes black and shadowed with markings of his own. Elias, the man I have given up paradise for, has his hand wrapped around a bottle. He is drunk, very drunk. It has been this way for a long time, yet I can do nothing but watch, I have watched him drown himself in alcohol and cannot even speak to him, let him know that he is ruining himself and that I am here.
I wonder, not for the first time, what Darius meant by, 'Evil Forces are at work' It has been a year or more since I've watched over Elias and, while he clearly needs me as I need him, there have been no 'evil forces' save for the alcohol and his temper that has become horrible.
I give a frustrated sigh and stride to the desk, my hand shooting out and knocking the bottle from his hand. It flies across the room and shatters against the wall. He is too drunk to notice and simply stands, staggering to the door adjacent to the desk. I follow him, passing through the door he has slammed shut as if it wasn't ever there. I watch him remove his shirt and boots before collapsing onto the bed. He crawls under the covers and I smile, despite the shadows of insomnia visible beneath his markings, despite the disheveled hair, he is still as handsome as he was the day we met.
Perhaps, with time, I'll be able to forget all the torturous masters and mistresses I was bound to, maybe I'll be able to heal with time even though that's all I've had for so long. But I don't think I'll ever be able to forget the moment I was pulled out of hells fiery embrace and into Elias's cold arms. The moment our eyes met I felt like he could see into me, could see the lives I've ruined and the blood I've spilt and didn't give a damn, I was his and no one could do a damn thing about it, not even me.
The days when he talked about Elle becoming his were the days I began to notice a change in myself. I became easily angry when my temper was usually concealed beneath a mysterious, calm, mask. I remember the look in his eyes after I slaughtered one of his crewmen. It was a look of pure pride and ferocity. He kissed me after that, and I can still feel the sweet pressure of his lips on my own.
I cross to the bed and lay beside him. This is my favorite time of all, for when he sleeps, that is when I can touch him. I pull him closer gently and stroke his hair. His face that had just been twisted bitterly now relaxes and I can see a shadow of a smile on his face. Perhaps this is my punishment, damned to hold the one you love but never get touched in return. But then again, I've been damned for so long it hardly bothers me so long as I can see his face and feel the warmth of his skin. It does not matter to me if he is awake or dreaming, let me hold him and I am content.
I lay with him all night, after the sun comes up and well into the afternoon. His eyes open and my skin becomes transparent again, I can no longer touch him until night again. I stay on the bed and watch him sit up, holding his head as a hangover hits. I wish I could crawl over and hug him, kiss the pain away as I do every time he is this way. The headache must dim into a dull throbbing because he stands and makes it to the bathroom, I could follow him but I do not, instead I stay where I am and look out to sea through the window. The ship is rocking and I let it lull me, and sooth my aching heart.
When Elias returns he is clad in a towel and dripping wet. I curse and yell in my mind at the heavens for not allowing me to touch the magnificence that is his mortal body. I watch the rivulets of water drip down his chest and stomach before looking away. Luckily for me he redresses and exits the room, and I follow with a sigh out onto the deck of the ship.
He crosses to the exact spot where he first kissed me and I hold my breath, hoping he won't remember. But he does, and I can see the pained expression on his face when he realizes where he is. It quickly disappears and he turns to address the crewmen who scramble back.
"Where are we?!" he demands, and a short, portly man answers. "W-we're 3 miles off the coast captain. "
Elias nods and it seems the group of gathered crewmen deflates as though they had been holding their breath. Elias sighs and turns back around, going back and standing at another spot looking out to sea. His knuckles are white as he grips the railing and I stand beside him, I place my hand on top of his and even though he has no realization or sense that I am there, even though he cannot feel it, his shoulders relax and I can see some of the tension on his face drain away. I miss him.
When I wake up I roll over and open my eyes, the bed beside me is empty and I sit up, clutching the sheets to my chest. A yawn escapes me and I swing my feet to the floor, stand, and grab my robe from the side of the bed, throwing it on before leaving and walking out. I poke my head into Ari's room. The bed is empty and I turn, trotting down the stairs and into the kitchen, where I find a note on the table. Opening it I begin to read,
Sorry, Ari woke me up and insisted on going to see Grace and Yousery. I didn't want to wake you up so when you read this, we'll be in the stables.
Mias. Scrawled under his name in a child's hand writing was 'Ari'-
I smile at this and set the note down, going about making breakfast which I'm sure they haven't had yet. I make pancakes (Mias's favorite) and blueberry pancakes (Ari's favorite) then set them aside to serve when we return. I go upstairs and dress, pulling on my coat and shoes when I come back to the door before leaving.
The air is crisp and chilly; it blows my hair back as I follow the path to the stables. When I arrive I find Mias and Ari there. Mias is sitting on a stool, leaning his head into his hand as Ari stands behind him, braiding flowers into his hair. Grace looks down at him from her stall with as much of a smug look as a horse can give. Yousery, on the other hand, his look is almost a horses mirror image of Mias's as, he too, like grace and Mias, has flowers in his mane. I laugh as I walk in, shutting the doors behind me. He looks at me through his fingers.
"Leave me alone, woman." He groans.
I turn to Ari. "You've done a good job, sweetie." I tell her and she giggles.
"Doesn't Daddy just look so pretty?"
I try hard to suppress my laughter again. "The prettiest."
Mias groans again and I sigh. "How about you braid Mommy's hair with flowers?"
She nods and claps her hands. Mias gets off the stool as soon as he can and I replace him. While he goes over and pats Yousery's side sympathetically. "I know how you feel my friend."
I hear Grace's snort and smile. "Oh calm down, you both look pretty." I say and they both give me a glare.
I sit there for a while and when Ari is done she comes around and hops onto my lap. "Mommy?" she says and I look down.
"What is it darling?" she leans into my embrace. "Can we go see uncle Abernos?"
I look at Mias and he shrugs. "I've got nothing on my plate today."
Looking back at Ari I nod. "Sure."
She squeals. "Yay!"
I stand, bringing her with me in my arms, heading for Grace's stall. "Mommy! Wait!"
I stop and look at her. "What is it, Ari?"
She looks at me with sparkling eyes. "Can I ride with Daddy and Yousery this time?"
Her tongue stumbles over Yousery's name and it's so cute I smile, looking over at Mias I see he is melting already. He nods and I let Ari down.
She waits eagerly as he readies Yousery for the ride and when he has he turns and takes Ari into his arms and sits her on the big, dark horse's back. He takes the reins and I take Grace's, and we lead the horses out of the stables.
Duncan looked out at the kingdom below through the window, frowning. He snapped his fingers and a moment later the door opened, in walked two forms, their faces and bodies hidden behind long black cloaks.
"You have each had enough time to get used to your bodies. Now is the time. Go. Find them. Destroy them by any means possible."
The cloaked figures grinned from beneath their hoods, sharp teeth glinting in the light.
"Yess massster." They hissed in union, their voices un-human.
Duncan laughed. "Go." And they did, their footsteps were deadly silent and swift as they went.