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A v a r i c e | T h i r t e e n

T h i r t e e n

❝Death is hard;

it’ll tear you apart.❞

I HAD BEEN LATE, BUT I did end up going to Lilith’s cabin. After apologizing profusely and explain myself to her, Lilith forgave me and told me that from now on I didn’t have to worry about getting to her house at a specific time, although she would like to be made aware when I did plan to come.

Our visit was short as she went over being a seer with me again, making sure I was paying attention this time. Afterwards, I told her I probably wouldn’t be able to come over tomorrow because Mother was going to freak out over a ball.

My assumptions were correct, unfortunately.

Mother woke me up early in the morning, put some porridge in me, and then took me shopping all around the kingdom for a dress and shoes and jewelry. Margaret and Melinda tagged along to help, and Mother was absolutely having a field day.

We first stopped at the dress shop in our own town to see what they offered. I would have to get it custom fit, of course, but we could look at the designs and such.

The twins and Mother were extremely, unbearably hyper for this ball. I didn’t understand why. Well, maybe I did. It was hosted by the royals after all, but other than that it wasn’t such a big deal. There were many balls throughout the years, yet my mother went nuts for this one.

Our town’s dress shop was full and could not provide me with a dress, so we went to the next town over to search theirs. “Something blue,” my mother told the workers there. She turned to me and the twins. “It’ll make your eyes shine,” she explained to me. I rolled said eyes.

Although I wasn’t happy about shopping the entire day, I did want to look...nice for the ball. All the blue fabric this shop had was awful, so we looked for other colors. I was forced to try on a green dress that had weird feathers in the back and strange embroidery around my waist. It covered everything from toe to the middle of my neck.

My mother loved it, and I was certain Father would too for its modesty, but I refused to wear it. Mother pouted at first, then shrugged. After trying on a few more, we discovered this shop was not the one that held my future dress.

So, we went to the next town.

Here there were a few promising choices. There was a blue one, just as my mother loved, a cream colored dress with gold embroidery, and then a red one. I loved the red one. It was beautifully crafted and already well-fitted so we wouldn’t have to pay much for that. It wasn’t the usual style dresses we had seen as of late. If I wore it, it would hang off my shoulders, exposing them, a part of my back, and my collarbone.

But it was positively beautiful, and it looked amazing on me. The twins agreed with this, but my mother wouldn’t have it. In spite of her, I wouldn’t get the blue one, so we tried on the cream one again.

That was when I saw him and he saw me.

“Who is that man looking at you?” Melinda questioned, following my eyes to see him herself. I didn’t answer at first.

“A man is looking?” my mother excitedly stood up from the resting chair she’d been sitting in and looked around as if he would just pop out at her.

Melinda nodded in his direction. Mother’s face fell the moment she spotted him. “Oh. Him.” She said nastily, and turned away. “I wonder why he’s in this town.” She mused to herself, tilting her head to the side.

I wasn’t really paying attention to her. He was motioning me over to him. “Would you give us a moment?” I asked no one in particular and got down from the platform I’d been standing on, lifting up my dress. My mother gasped unappreciatively while Melinda and Margaret giggled and whispered to each other.

“What are you doing here?” I questioned. This particular dress shop was also a footwear shop, so it wasn’t really weird that men were in here. I was just surprised to see him here.

He ignored my question. “You look lovely,” he said, his eyes raking over me. He smiled. “So you are attending the ball, I presume?”

I blinked. “I, well, yes. I am.” I stuttered over my words. “Why?” I hated having him see me like this, like I was an average mother-following little girl. It was belittling to know he had the upper hand in this situation.

He shrugged and turned away, stepping forward. He was in line for a shoe repair. I followed, stepping to the side. “No reason.”

I stared at him. He was lying. He knew that I knew he was lying, too. There was a smirk playing on his lips this entire time, and it was really beginning to bug me. “Why did you call me over?” I asked him seriously.

“I didn’t call you over.”

I rolled my eyes. “Alright...why did you wave me over, then?”

His face got serious too, luckily. I hated it when he acted all cocky. It drove me crazy. He faced me, meeting my eyes with his own. “I wanted to tell you that I’ve talked to the king, and he has set a date for Marquise Trill’s burning.” My skin prickled like pinpoint needles and a shiver ran down my spine.

“When will it be?” I asked meekly. I tried staying stronger, but just the idea of Marquise Trill burning at the stake was unsettling to me. I knew she deserved it. She was the witch, the creator of the lycanthropes. She had risked her life for one. But still, I remembered all the good times and memories I shared with her. It would be hard to watch.

“During the ball,” Cain told me with a forlorn face.

I could feel myself blanch. I stumbled backwards a bit. “The ball?” I repeated. Cain nodded. “I...why? Why at the ball?” It was sickening. “They’re going to throw a party and burn her then?” I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea. Everything about it seemed all wrong. I couldn’t dance and drink and enjoy myself while knowing Marquise Trill later in the night was to die.

“I tried telling the king that too, Cerise, honestly. But his mind is set. He says it would be a perfect time. The adults of his kingdom would be gathered in one spot to...be rid of her.” Cain shook his head. “I can’t get him to change his mind.”

“When will it be announced?” I asked.

“I’m not sure. Probably soon, though. I wanted to tell you first. I know you were close to her and the Trills. I thought maybe you could tell them so they didn’t have to read about it in a letter.” Cain sighed and ran a hand agitatedly through his dark hair. “I’m sorry, Cerise. I wish there were another way. You know that this has to happen though, right?”

I nodded. “Yes. I wasn’t prepared for the day to come so soon, though. I can’t get out of going to the ball, either. Mother would throw a fit.”

Cain cocked a smile. “It looks like she’s throwing a fit right now.” He nodded behind me. I glanced back to see Mother glaring at us with all her might. I rolled my eyes and turned back around to face Cain.

“Will you be going to the ball?” I asked.

Cain shrugged and nodded. “I’ll stay in town for a few more weeks, and then I’ve got to go back home.”

I frowned at him. “Where is home, exactly?”

Cain paused. “I suppose nowhere, really. Just wherever there’s lycanthrope problems.” He smiled at me. “I’ll see you at the ball then.”

I nodded. We said farewells and I turned and went back to where my mother was standing, crossed arms and tight-faced. Melinda and Margaret were still giggling. I ignored the obvious, and announced, “I’ll take this dress.”

We bought shoes and jewelry to go along with the dress before heading back home. Melinda and Margaret kept bothering me with questions about Cain, but I ignored them for the most part, just giving them one-worded answers. I was too busy in my thoughts to properly pay attention to what they were saying.

He thought I should tell the Trills. But how was I supposed to do that? Walk into their house and say, “I know you were all excited to go to the ball, but your mother is going to die there”? There was no proper way to do it, truthfully.

Cain was right, though. I should tell them. I didn’t want them to first learn about it from reading it on a card or hearing it from somebody else. It would break them even more. I needed to tell them, I just didn’t know how.

Because they were on the way, we dropped Melinda and Margaret off first before heading back home. Mother could tell something was bothering me, but she didn’t ask about that something until we had reached home.

There, I told her what Cain had said.

Mother clucked her tongue pityingly while she made me something to eat. “That’s horrible,” she said sincerely. “I’m sorry, honey. I know you really liked her.” She patted my back and brushed my hair away from my face, looking me in the eyes. “Do you want me to be there? When you tell them?”

Even though Mother could be unbearable, she was still my mother. I was thankful that I had her in my life, truthfully. I shook my head and smiled. “I’ll be okay, thank you.”

We ate dinner together and then parted ways. She went to knit and think and I went to my bedroom to get some rest. I could’ve gone to Lilith’s, but after what Mother had said I didn’t want to betray her tonight.

I went to bed and thought of how I was going to break the sad news to the Trills.

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