Chapter 24: Forbidden Love
Terdar waits outside the closed doors of the throne room. He informed his parents that he had something of urgency to speak with them about. He paces in front of the elaborate silver doors, his hands clasped behind his back.
He’s been devising a way to separate the two of them, but this...this is just too perfect. To find them interlocked in such a intimate embrace, to find them kissing, is more than enough ammunition. If she were a Dragon, his parents would probably approve, but she is a Fairy. Shalquims are expected to live up to a certain standard and mating with those below them is a violation of that. Fairies are beneath them, just as Griffins, Thunderbirds, Elves, and every other species is. They are above them all. Entos created them first. They are his favorite. They are the favorites of all the gods.
The doors open. Terdar smirks. Finally. He enters the room. His parents are seated on their respective thrones. His mother sits as still and strait as a general and his father leans on his arm, bored of the tedious business he must attend to. He is a conqueror, anything that is not directly apart of that, is unimportant to him.
Terdar bows to his parents. “What is it Terdar?” Solus questions, both bored and impatient. He has no time for his youngest son’s childish tricks.
“I have learned of something that might interest you, father, mother.” He replies.
“Out with it, my son.” Apollonis barks. She tightens her hands into fists. Terdar swallows hard.
“Of course mother. Last night I witnessed Helioson and Ra’venna kissing.” Solus straightens, his face contorts with rage. He clenches his fists, slamming them onto the chair arms. Apollonis’s face hardens, but does not betray one specific emotion.
“Retrieve Helioson. Now!” The Emperor bellows. His voice reverberates off the walls. Terdar jumps, but maintains his composure.
Still he is proud. Now they will see. Helioson is not the perfect son. He is not the Silver Prince. Terdar is. Terdar is worthy of becoming the next Emperor. He is worthy of the Empire they have worked so hard to amass. He bows and departs from the room.
Ra’venna rolls onto her side. The covers of her bed are disheveled as is her hair and nightclothes. The sun is coming over the horizon and sleep has still not come to greet her. Her mind is far too active to pacify. Thoughts and emotions are swirling within her. All of them have a singular focus point: Helios. He says she is an infuriating creature, but so is he.
There’s a knock at her door. Ra’venna sighs and gets out of bed. She staggers towards the door way, trying to brush off the tiredness and last night’s alcohol. She opens the door to see Helios standing outside, clothed in royal garbs. He raises an eyebrow at her appearance.
“This is certainly a reverse of roles.” He states, smirking. Ra’venna rolls her eyes.
“A change of pace is good.” She retorts. He chuckles. The light, pleasant sound fills her ears. Ra’venna is awakened by the sound. “I’m going to get dressed.” She shuts the door in his face. She pauses, listening for retreating footsteps, but none come. She sighs heavily. He is not making this easy.
“Oh brother, how wonderful to see you this morning.” Helios lifts his head. Terdar is strolling towards him, his hands clasped behind his back and a smirk across his face. He looks uncharacteristically victorious. It disturbs Helios.
“What do you want Terdar?” Helios asks. His voice holds nothing, but annoyance and contempt. He steps away from the wall, beside Ra’venna’s door.
“It is not what I want brother, it is what our beloved parents want. They wish to speak with you in the throne room. Alone.” He glances past Helios at the door, that conceals Ra’venna. The smirk on his face widens. Helios doesn’t like this one bit. He is far too smug. Helios brushes past him, pausing when they are shoulder to shoulder.
“Listen well brother, whatever you are planning, it will not work.” He warns. Terdar turns his head to meet Helios’s gaze.
“We shall see.”
Helios walks to the throne room, his mind wondering as to what his parents need to speak with him about. Could it be Fulor? Have they decided to accelerate their plans? Or is it about Sowhait? Have they decided how they will move forward? By the time Helios reaches the throne room doors his head hurts.
The guards open the doors for him. Helios makes his way across the room, his boots clicking against the smooth, polished floor. He stops before the stairs. His parents are seated on their thrones, neither of them look happy. In fact they look furious. Helios tenses.
“My son,” Solus drawls. Helios can tell by his tone he is beyond enraged. “We have been told some...disturbing information and we would like to inquire about its truthfulness.” Helios glances from his father to his mother, whose expression mirrors Solus’s.
“What information?” Solus opens his mouth to speak, but Apollonis beats him to it.
“About you and the mercenary. That you were together, embracing, kissing.” Helios turns as rigid as a dead body. If they know about last night, do they know of their blood bond.
“Spare us. Your face betrays you.” Solus intercedes. “What is your relationship with her?” Helios doesn’t speak. What can he say? His parents know of their relationship, if he was to tell them the truth they would kill Ra’venna and if he was to lie, he would betray both her and himself.
“I love her.” He declares, raising his head proudly. His voice holds only honesty. He won’t lie about how he feels. He can lie about their blood bond. He can lie about his brother and his plans, but he cannot lie about his feelings. If he does he will lose himself to his lies and forget what truth is. He loves her. He has for a while, even without realizing.
“Break it off.” Apollonis orders coldly. Helios’s eyes widen. He expected his father to order such a thing, but not his mother.
“What?” He breathes.
“She has no status, which could be overlooked on the account of her skill, but she is not a Dragon. That can not be overlooked. We do not stray from our species. We must keep our bloodline pure. Break it off or she will be dealt with.” Apollonis orders.
Helios staggers backwards, his mouth agape in horror. He won’t. He can live with committing a lot of sins, but he will not break her heart. He worked hard to gain her trust and her love. He won’t shatter the promise he made himself. He won’t hurt her. He needs her.
“No. I won’t. And you won’t touch her. If you kill her I will leave and never return. You will have to pass the throne Terdar, and we all know, he will allow your Empire to crumble.” Helios growls. If he was ever a prince, this is the moment. His commands are final and fierce. His parents recoil, surprised by their son’s outburst. Helios is usually calm and level-headed. While others rage, he remains in control.
“Fine, my son, have your...entanglement with the Fairy. It will not last. And you will not marry her, under any circumstance.” Solus caves. He disapproves heavily of his son’s relationship with the Fairy, but he does not want Helios to leave again. Driving them apart will drive Helios away. That will leave Solus and Apollonis no choice but to abdicate the throne to Terdar. He is not fit for leadership.
On the other side of the silver doors is Ra’venna, hearing every word.
Helios does not see Ra’venna for the rest of the day. He returns to her chambers after their meeting, but she’s not there. He searches the entire West Wing, but finds no trace of her. Panic seizes him. Could she have left? Did he scare her away? Helios shakes the thoughts from his head. She wouldn’t leave. He is called to duty before he can search the rest of the palace for her.
By the time Helios is freed from his duties it is after dark. With no other idea where to begin searching he retreats to the outside sanctuary where he and Ra’venna shared their first kiss. It appears it was her idea as well. She stands, her back to him, her head tilted to the sky.
“Love and war are far too similar aren’t they?” She begins, hearing his silent footsteps. Her eyes don’t stray from the sky. “Both require great sacrifice and both end in tragedy.” The last part she speaks in a whisper. He stops only a handful of steps away from her.
“You heard everything, didn’t you.” She nods. Helios wants to grab her shoulder and spin her around so he can look her into the eye. He wants to know what she’s feeling. He wants to hear something in her voice, besides emptiness.
“Helios, you don’t want me.” She says. She finally turns to face him, her eyes brimming with unshed tears. “I’m not good. I’m darkness. I’m a monster. I’m unlovable.” She turns away from him for a moment, so he doesn’t see the tears threatening to spill over. Helios shakes his head. He grabs ahold of her her upper arms and draws her to him.
“I don’t believe that. We all have darkness. I accept you. I accept your crimes, your flaws, and your past. I don’t care what anyone says. I want you. I love you.” Her head snaps back up at his final words. Love. That word has been foreign to her for so long. She loved once. If was nothing like her feelings for Helios, it was less deep, less powerful. Perhaps it wasn’t love at all, but it was the closest thing to it that she has ever experienced.
Love is different for Fairies as it is for other species. To other species love is an accepted part of life, but its not important or revered. For Fairies, love is all that matters. Love is life. To Fairies there is no greater crime than to force or obstruct love. There were few Fairies in Etrien that did not have a magnificent love story. Her parents had one. Those stories of love met everything to her as a child.
After the Quvanians came though, they destroyed everything and she was left to survive on her own. She had to shut down the unnecessarily parts of herself. Love was one of them. Love was a weakness, something that would slow her down. When she finally allowed herself to love again, her fears were proven true. He tried to keep her there, caged. She fled and emptied herself of the ability to love.
Until Helios. He came blazing into her life, like a stray comet. He slithered his way past her defenses. He made his way through her walls to her stone heart. He shattered the stone. Part of it was due to the blood bond. Ra’venna doesn’t try to deny that, but not all of it. Even before the bond, he captured her, intrigued her. There was something in him that made it to the deepest parts of her.
Now a powerful emotion fills her, whenever she thinks of him, whenever she sees him. It is everything her parents described to her. It is the feeling of elation at the sight of them, of entrancement. The racing of the heart and the fluttering of the stomach. The desire to hold them close, to ensure their safety. The desire to never the horrors of the world touch them or the horrors of one’s own soul. That is but a fraction of what she feels for Helios.
She doesn’t want to hurt him, but anyone that has ever gotten close to her has suffered for it, whether physically or mentally. Because she loves him so deeply she does not want him to suffer the same fate.
Helios can feel her every emotion. Between them and the looks that pass over her face he can read her every thought. For all her skill and confidence on the battlefield, she is broken. She has convinced herself that her only value lies in destroying and killing. He lifts his hand from her arm and places it under her chin, raising it, until her eyes connect with his.
“You hide in the dark because you are afraid of the light.” Helios starts. Ra’venna jerks away from him.
“I am not afraid of anything.” She hisses. Fury fills her eyes. He ignores it.
“Yes, you are. You’re afraid of being happy. You’re afraid that there is goodness in the world and most of all you are afraid to love.” She looks away, her violet curls falling from behind her ears. There is no argument to be made. His every word rings true. Helios tucks her fallen curls behind her ear, revealing her face. “You are so afraid that if you let yourself take the chance, that if you love, someone will come and take it from you again.”
Ra’venna gulps, a stray tear trickles down her cheek. That is all the confirmation Helios needs. He lifts his finger to capture the tear. She doesn’t flinch away. He embraces her face with his fiery hands, rubbing small, gentle circles. She closes her eyes and leans into his touch, relishing in the heat and comfort.
As the tears fade, she laughs. Helios stares at her strangely. She shakes her head. “It’s nothing. I just realized...I’m happy. I almost forgot what that feels like.” He smiles. That is the greatest praise he could ever receive.
“One day, you will have to share your stories of Etrien with me. I would like to know what it was like before...” She nods.
“One day.” Ra’venna promises. She places her hand over Helios’s and gives it a short squeeze. He draw her to him, wrapping his enflamed arms around her waist, below her wings. Ra’venna coils hers around his neck, her hands entangled in his hair.
“I could have fallen in love with anyone and I fell in love with the mercenary hired to kill me.” He mumbles, drawing circles on her back. Pleasurable shivers run up her back and down to her leg. “Why?”
“You have good taste.” Ra’venna suggests, with a smirk.
“Maybe it was your charming personality.” He counters sarcastically.
“Or maybe you realized you wouldn’t survive without me.” Helios chuckles.
“I will never admit to that.”
“Dragons and their egos.” She muses with a sly smile. The smile drop from his mouth and his face turns serious.
“You are amazing, in the most destructive way, and I love you.” Ra’venna lowers her gaze from his face, to his robe. Her hands falling with her eyes. She rubs her thumb up and down the fine material.
“Love...love is different for Fairies. To say ‘I love you’ is a powerful declaration. I don’t know if what I feel for you is love yet, but I do know I cannot imagine my life without you. You are the piece I didn’t even know was missing.” She whispers, smiling. A soberness washes over her. She remembers why they’re here in the first place, what’s in play. “I may never get the chance to utter those words.” She adds. Helios shakes his head.
“We will get plenty of chances I promise you.” She raises her head and presses her lips to his, allowing the wildfire to consume them both. Ra’venna pulls away all too soon for Helios’s taste.
“Let’s watch the stars.” His eyes don’t leave her face. He strokes her cheek with his finger.
“I don’t need to look to the sky to see the stars, all I have to do is gaze into your eyes and I can see the entire universe.” He captures her lips in a passion-filled kiss, robbing them both of their breaths.
When he pulls away, they both lie down on the tile and stare into the star filled sky, talking. Eventually exhaustion consumes Ra’venna and she falls asleep. Helios removes his robe and drapes it over her body, pulling her close to him. He soon falls asleep.