I swallowed thickly, taking in a deep breath and letting it out slowly. My eyes strafted over the crowd in front of me. I straightened up, my posture impeccable, even under the heaviness of the golden jeweled crown and the thick blanket that was the cloak. Men, women and children alike kneeled before me, their heads cast down. Mothers pulled their children's faces down when they looked up to gape at me, and I smiled down at them gently. My dress made a light sound in the grass that it brushed over, my bare feet taking in the lovely feel of the silken soil and rough stones the same.
"Madame Lurah deFevre," a raspy voice said, voice ringing through the ceremony. I halted, eyes sweeping back to straight in front of me, where the gray-eyed man, chin tilted up and eyebrows curiously lilted, eyed me. I pursed my lips, inhaling through my mouth to expand my chest and make me seem more suitable as a ruler. I tilted my chin up as well when his eyes flashed, my eyebrows twitching in a nervous display. His smile was a mere trick of the light, but reassuring nonetheless.
"Do you hereby accept the power of a sorceress, given unto you at birth and honed by our late High Queen, as your birthright?" he spoke with the regality and controlled ferocity of the panther sitting beside him, golden eyes trained on me. As long as I didn't make eye contact with the fearsome beast, it would be fine. I stood up straighter as the words left my mouth.
"I accept the power of the sorceress, given unto me at birth and honed by the late High Queen, as my birthright. I claim the throne as my lawful right and I take upon myself all the responsibilities that shall come with it," I said. There was no waver in my voice and the gray-eyed man nodded slightly, striding forward and handing me the scepter. It was cold against my flesh.
"I present to you now your new High Queen, Lurah deFevre!" he called, his voice booming through the open plains. I felt a shiver run through my body as he knelt as well, calling, "All hail the Queen!"
"Lu! Oi, Lurah, c'mere a second!" Gerard hollered. I jumped, looking over my shoulder at my older brother. He shot me a half-grin. "Mumma wants you."
I creased a bookmark in my book and set it down, walking over to him."What does she want me for?" I asked.
"For what does she want me," Gerard corrected, "And I'm not sure. She wouldn't say."
I frowned, my eyebrows pulling together. I wasn't exactly our mother's greatest prize; I hadn't inherited the family's bright blue eyes or beautiful blonde hair. I was the black sheep in our family, my bright green eyes and blindingly white hair marking me as the only different one.
"How soon does she want me?" I asked. He smiled sheepishly and I exhaled slowly, nodding. She wanted me ASAP. I sighed, shrugging off my windbreaker and shivering as the chilly finger of March scraped its nail down my spine. I arched my back, twisting around so it cracked viciously. Then I extended my wings, wincing a bit as my left one got caught on the fabric of my tank top. Gerard helped it free, stroking the gold-fringed wings tenderly and with a smile. I extended my wings just a bit, then stretched them out to their full 10-and-a-half-foot span, feeling the muscles let loose when I folded them back to a comfortable length. He blew me a teasing kiss.
"Tell Mumma I went to go see Stacy, will you?" Gerard asked. I nodded.
"Sure." He grinned, waving me away and walking in the opposite direction. I smiled, waving back as I lifted off into the air. My hair immediately streamed backwards, the curls flailing in a desperate attempt to stay clear of the slicing wind coming at my face. A longer piece got caught in my mouth and I spat it out, moving my tongue around in my mouth to get the taste of my shampoo to vanish. Gross.
My eyes strafted the foggy skies for our small home, resigned to my fate. My talks with my mother rarely went well; more commonly than not, they ended in lots of yelling and some tears and not a lot of productivity. She wanted me to be a bit more...Normal. I wasn't like the rest of the world. I was different, really different. Not the good different, but the weird different, the kind that didn't help you make friends and encouraged a really shy personality. Having white hair was one thing, but having avian wings was quite another.
"Mm, there you are," I mused, spotting our little cottage. I angled down, spiralling slowly down from my perfect little hole in the atmosphere. I alighted on the ground, folding my wings back in and throwing my windbreaker back over my shoulders. On second thought, I took it off, draping it over my forearm as I opened the door slowly. "Mumma?"
"Lurah, come here, come here. We have something to talk about," my mother called, popping her head out from the kitchen and motioning me over. I closed the door softly behind myself, hanging my coat by the hood on a rack by the door. I walked slowly into the kitchen, preparing myself for a long speech.
My mother turned around when she heard my footsteps, electric blue eyes flashing as long blond hair in a ponytail at the end swung around, landing neatly on her back. I was normally amused by the elasticity of her hair, but today looked worse and worse to mention it. She looked exhausted and upset at best.
"Sit down, dear," she sighed, bringing a hand up to rub beside her left eye. I cautiously took a seat, keeping my eyes on her. She nodded, smiling sadly at me. She tucked her lower lip into her mouth, biting down on it and looking off to one side.
"What's wrong?" I asked suspiciously. Normally she skipped straight past pleasantries, but today she was acting almost considerate. It was bizarre. Not that anything about my life wasn't bizarre, but this was out of my ordinary. Very, very much out of my ordinary.
"Well, Lurah..." She shook her head, grabbing a stray chair and sinking down into it. "We've been keeping secrets since you were little. The truth is, Lurah, you're a witch. Just like me. Just like your brother." She made a face. "Well...Gerard is a wizard, but, oh, you get what I mean," she sighed. She ran her fingers through her hair, smiling and nodding, eyes filling with tears. They spilled down her face and she quickly wiped them away.
I was a what?
"Mumma, that's....That's fantastic," I started. "How did you not tell me before?" I asked standing up, a smile spreading across my face. This was just like a movie or a novel or something like that. Not that this was a novel or a movie, this was real life. This was really happening to me.
"Lurah, stop," she said, shaking her head and standing as well, "You can't tell anyone. I shouldn't have told you today and I shouldn't have told Gerard when I did." I looked at her, my eyebrows pulling tightly together.
"Why? Why would you keep this a secret? Mumma, this is fantastic. This is the best thing that's happened since...Since..." At a loss for words, I spread my wings a bit. "Since these starting growing in."
"No, Lurah, no, no, no," my mother said, tears filling her eyes again. She shook her head, grabbing my shoulders and bringing me down to her height. "Lurah, you have to understand. This is not something we can talk about. Ever."
"But why?" I was desperate. Everything that made me, me...was wrong. It was different, it was shunned, it was terrible. This was finally something that could help me overcome my obstacles, and she was telling me to hide it.
"Lurah, you've got to understand." Her voice was nothing short of pleading as she pulled up her sleeve, showing me her left forearm. "We've been marked. We're being hunted."