Chapter 12: Glimmer Of Hope
Ra’venna enters the Prince’s chamber without knocking.
Helio is standing before the mirror as two pages fasten a red and silver cape to his shoulders. “It is considered respectful to knock.” He drawls without looking at her. Ra’venna wonders if he realizes how much like his brother he sounded. It’s the first time she’s seen any resemblance-other than a physical one-between Helio and his family. “Good morning, anyway.” He doesn’t realize it.
Ra’venna mutters a greeting.
Ra’venna perches herself on his desk, swinging his crossed legs as she watches the pages crown the Dragon Prince. He dismisses them and they flee the room. She smirks, amused by their fear of both the prince and her.
She turns her attention back to Helio. “Do your parents still suspect a noble?”
“Yes, they think the ‘incidents’ are that of a disloyal noble. They haven’t found anything of course. Terdar vouched for Lord Haemir.” He growls.
Helio turns around. He raises a brow at the Fairy seated on his desk like it’s a throne. She shrugs. His mind conjures an image of her splayed out beneath him on the desk, her bare body gleaming int he moonlight as he sinks into her.
Helio chases away the image. He runs his tongue over the roof of his now dry mouth. What is it about her that conjures these fantasies?
He stares at her cloaked face. He hates not being able to see her face, her eyes. His hand twitches. He gives in and tentatively pushes the hood down. Ra’venna doesn’t jerk away or slap his hand away. She watches him with cautious, daring eyes. The corners of his mouth lift. He draws his hand back, letting it brush her cheek.
Flaring heat engulfs her cheek where Helio’s hand meets her cheek. It is a side effect of Helio sharing his blood with her. Every time their skin makes contact it feels like they are being embraced by fire.
It is not unpleasant, quite the opposite in fact, it is reminiscent of being embraced by the sun. She is tempted to lean into the embrace. She hates it, craving his touch, his warmth. A part of her longs to be wrapped in his arms and the rest of her is repulsed by the thought. In addition, she has noted a constant pull between them. If she strays too far from his side her soul cries out for his. Ra’venna hates the way it makes her feel like a beast on a leash.
The strange heat lingers on Helio’s hand. He too has been feeling the effect of the bond; the constant longing and heat. Helio scolds himself for enjoying it.
He gazes down at her. The soft sunlight splits around her dark form like a halo. She looks immaculate in the light. He will never understand why she insists on hiding in the dark. The only thing missing is her wings, concealed beneath her signature cloak.
“Why do you hide your wings?” His words are as soft as the sheets he sleeps on. “Are you ashamed of them?” Ra’venna’s eyes widen.
“No!” She exclaims, startling Helio. She takes a deep breath. “No, of course not, never.” She tilts her head back. She doesn’t owe Helio an explanation, but the tug at her soul disagrees. She wouldn’t be able to bite back an answer if she tried.
“I have always had a fear, perhaps an irrational one, that someone could cut off my wings.” Tears weld up in her eyes. She diverts her gaze to the wall to hide them. “That someone could strip me of my freedom.” She pauses. “That is not the only reason though. My wings are personal, intimate and I want only those I love most to set eyes upon them.”
The confession shocks ever her. She’s never dared to utter those thoughts before, not to K’marie, not to Ryorata. She can’t bare to raise her head, to meet his eyes.
Helio uses his index finger to raise her chin, igniting their skin. His face is blank, but behind his eyes dances a myriad of emotions. He runs his thumb over the silver ink on her cheek. “That is the bravest thing I have ever heard.” Ra’venna’s weld up emotion spills over in the form of a single tear. It passes over the ink beneath her eyes only to be intercepted by Helio’s thumb. He swipes the water droplet away.
“Is this why you remain alone?” He asks, softly.
“Death has been my only friend for so long. It came to me as a child and has remained by my side. I find solace in death as you find it in life.”
Helio strokes her cheek. Ra’venna can sense the anger rolling off him. It isn’t directed at her. It’s as if he is angry at everything that has harmed her, at death itself.
She covers his hand with her own; the fire travels up her arm. “Helio, I have no illusions. I know my story will not end happily and I am fine with that.” The heat of their bond steadies her.
“Your story is not over yet. Until it is you will not know the ending.” He tells her. She gives him a half-smile.
“You know you’re not as terrible as I thought you would be.” She teases. Helio’s grin turns to laughter.
“Neither are you.” He retorts. Ra’venna removes her hand and his falls to his side. She tucks loose strands of hair behind her ear.
He steps away from her. “You seem different.” She observes.
“My parents are restoring me as Crown Prince.” Helio slides the katana into his belt.
“I thought you had no interest in the throne.” She tries to keep her voice neutral, but her repulsion is clear. Hurt passes over Helio’s face. The strands of their blood bond tugs at her soul. Ra’venna has to look away to keep from caving into the feeling.
“I don’t-I don’t want to be like my parents or my brother. I think that...perhaps I can do some good on the throne, that I can rectify my family’s transgressions.”
“Some things cannot be fixed.” She hisses.
“I know. But I have to try or what am I?” Ra’venna’s gaze softens.
He is nothing like Solus or Apollonis or Terdar. His heart is pure and his intentions noble.
“I think you would make a great Emperor, Helio.”