Four days. It's been four days.
I wiped the fog from the mirror and opened my towel to observe the multitude of bruises and scratches that had now begun to fade. One rather deep cut near my ribs was bound to leave a scar and will always remind me of the battle that we endured and the sacrifices that were made.
I didn't even realize that tears were escaping my eyes until Ethan spun me around and lovingly kissed all of my tears away. It had been 4 days since the fight of our lives. We lost a few good warriors and the kingdom itself took on some damage, but the pain of losing Fabienne had been too much for me.
For the first day, I hid out in my room and Ethan kept watch over me the best way he knew how. I refused to eat and he let it slide, but only for a day. On the second day I cried and screamed until I lost my voice and he just held me when I had nothing else to give. On the third day, I allowed the anger to take over. I kept replaying those events over and over again. What could I have done differently to save her? I gave myself completely over to Lafwa inside my room and she destroyed everything. Again, Ethan cleaned up my mess, gently removed the splinters imbedded in my skin, and held me through my tears and nightmares.
But today is a new day. Today I have accepted that I can't bring her back. No matter what scenario I replay in my head, there was nothing I could have done to change it. She sacrificed herself because she loved us and she wanted us to love. I know this because she visited me in my dreams last night.
I stood alone in a field of hibiscus. A warm breeze hugged me gently as I traced my fingers over the beautiful petals. I tensed as I heard the padding of paws headed my direction. In the distance I could see a grey wolf chasing a girl who looked to be in her teens. I attempted to shift into my wolf when I heard the girl scream, but froze in my steps, releasing a breath when she began to laugh as the wolf pounced on her.
I walked over to them as the wolf shifted into a tall, slender, dark skinned young man who appeared to be about her age.
"Oh my Goddess, I thought you were being attacked!" I placed my hand on my chest as they both began to laugh at me.
The girl stepped forward, placing her warm hand on my arm. "Princess, I'm never in danger when I'm with my mate." I felt my jaw drop as the realization hit me that this young girl was Fabienne. I dropped to my knees and started to cry uncontrollably into her dress while she lightly caressed my hair.
"Eva, mwen cherie, my darling," she lifted my head so that I could look her in the eyes. "This is my mate, Gerardo. And he is my reward from the Moon Goddess for my sacrifice."
The young wolf took my hand and kissed it swiftly as Fabienne swatted him away with another girlish giggle. She cupped my face, feathering a kiss on my cheek, and nodded with happy tears in her eyes. She gave me a final hug as her mate began to give chase again.
I woke up to the lingering melody of her laugh on the wind. That dream let me know that she was happy and that the Moon Goddess was pleased with her sacrifice and granted her an eternal afterlife with the love that she never got to enjoy.
I melted into Ethan's warm embrace as he backed me towards the bed. I hissed slightly as he lifted me to lay me down. Noticing my discomfort, he kissed me tenderly and held me close as I told him about my dream before falling into a deep, dreamless sleep.
I slept for what felt like days, but in reality had only been a few hours when Lena and Romi burst into my room with tearful eyes and smiling faces. Instinctively, I reached out for Ethan, only to find his side of the bed empty and cold. That didn't last long, as the girls quickly embraced me with their comforting warmth. Somehow I instantly knew that Fabienne had visited them too.
We stayed that way for a while until Stacey and Tam joined our hug fest. I couldn't help but apologize for sulking when I should have been celebrating our victory, but until I knew that Fabienne was ok, I just couldn't move on.
Of course it was Lena who broke our comfortable silence.
"So, um...Augustin..." she spoke with a hint of sadness, but an obvious blush on her chocolate brown cheeks.
My eyes nearly bucked from my head when realization hit me of what I've missed while in my stupor. "Mezanmi, oh my god! Lena! He's your mate!" I grab her shoulders and shake her slightly.
She gives another small smile. "Yea, and it's just so awkward knowing who and what he is...no offense to him being your brother, Romi. Obviously there's a pull there, but every time I see him or he tries to approach me, I tuck tail and run. Literally. Like how can I accept a mate who wanted to destroy our family and everything we love?"
"Oh Lena!" I embrace her while mentally kicking myself for not being there for her. "Even I can admit that none of what happened was totally his fault. And that man literally tried to sacrifice himself for you, so I'd say that that definitely warrants a chance and at the very least a conversation." All of the girls express their agreement with a show of nods.
The smile on her face grew. "I'll talk to him tonight, but first things first! The reason that we're all here is because Ethan said that you were feeling better. Soooooo...get dressed and we're gonna celebrate!" There was a glint of mischief in her eyes as the others cheered her on. Seeing the hesitation in my eyes, she spoke again. "And before you try to decline, we're not leaving the kingdom, just this depressing ass space that used to be your bedroom. Now put on something cute! Dinner starts in an hour."
I fiddled with the small box in my pocket for what seemed like the thousandth time in the last four days. It might seem strange to some, but Eva allowing me to not only see her at her lowest, but also granting me the opportunity to love her and take care of her in that state, just solidified that I wanted to go the extra step and make my mate my wife.
The girls weren't the only ones to dream of Fabienne. While they saw her youthful and in love, Augustin, Michel and myself dreamed of her just as she was when she was still with us mere days ago. It's funny how the girls got reassurance that she was fine and happy, while we got threatened to be haunted if we mistreated them in any way. One thing these women are gonna do is stick together; even from beyond the grave.
As soon as Eva fell asleep, I raced from the room to gather everyone together. Sitting in the room, staring at me, was everyone she holds near and dear to her heart. I couldn't just ask her father for her hand in marriage, I needed to ask her family. Thank goodness the answer was a resounding yes.
Now as I wait impatiently for the dinner we planned to start and for her to descend the stairs into her unknown future, I can't help but think back on our whirlwind romance. How could the Moon Goddess think so highly of me that she would bless me with this amazing, firecracker of a woman? Yes, she's a little crazy and when she's really tired she snores like an old man, but she's mine and I love her.
I love her.
I hear her laugh before I see her, and it washes any nervousness I was feeling away. She rounds the corner with her girls, wearing a stunning deep purple dress, that unfortunately won't make it through the night. Her eyes fall on me and everything else in the world fades away and I throw all of my plans out of the window.
I swiftly grab her hand and briskly begin to walk towards her courtyard. When she's not moving fast enough for me, I pause and hoist her up bridal style, to finish my trek. After I finally placed her on the ground, she looks at me as if I've lost my mind before noticing all of the fairy lights and candles.
"What did you do?! It's so beautiful!" She smiled brightly as she thrust herself in my arms.
"Eva, I have something to say to you, but I really need you to just listen so that I can get it all out, ok?" She raises her eyebrow, but nods her consent.
"Meeting you was something I could have never imagined. We both had these stubborn images of one another set in in our minds before we formally met, but we knew that we needed each to fulfill a prophecy. But who could have guessed that the princess I was convinced was going to be a bratty pain in my ass, would turn out to be my beautiful, loving, feisty, kickass of a warrior, perfect mate?" My heart melted even more when she lightly chuckled, wiping away at her tears.
"We haven't known each other very long, but the way of the wolf connected us instantly. But beyond that, even if we were just humans, I know that I would have still loved you from the moment I first saw you. You are beautiful, strong, kind and smart. You came into my pack shaking shit up in the best possible way and the people love you for it. Joining you on the battlefield gave me new insight on what you are willing to do for the people you love and I want to be able to stand next to you like that every step of the way. I don't want to ramble too much..." I pull the black velvet box from my pocket and get on one knee.
The shock on her face is all the encouragement that I need to keep going. "Baby, I know that we've claimed and marked each other to be mated for life, but I want to go one extra step and ask you to be my wife. Eva Marie Jean Pierre, will you continue to make me the happiest wolf alive and become my wi—"
She pounced on me before I could even finish the question, but her sweet and tender kiss was all the yes that I needed.
Thunderous cheering tore us away from our love bubble as our family and friends joined us in courtyard. I slipped the ring on her finger and marveled at how truly perfect it was. I whispered a thank you to Romilis, wherever it is he may be.
King Marcelin and Queen Delphine were the first to approach us with their congratulations. He cupped her cheek with tear filled eyes, while her mom hugged me tightly.
"I want to give you two an early wedding gift. As you know, the time for you to take the throne is coming quickly." He grabbed the hand I wasn't holding and rubbed her knuckles lovingly. "Your mother and I have discussed it and we've decided that we can grant you a ten year extension. Basically because your old man has still got it," he laughed at his own joke, earning an eye roll from Eva and the queen. "On your ten year wedding anniversary, I expect you two, and however many grandkids the Moon Goddess sees fit to grant us, to be back here to accept the throne and begin your reign as queen."
My girl literally squealed as she jumped up and with excitement before jumping in my arms again. "I'm gonna be Luna after all!" I couldn't contain the joy of knowing that my mate and my bride will stand beside me for the next ten years as my luna.
As I take a step back relish in the moment, I can't help but think about Fabienne's sacrifice. She gave her life so that the love blooming in and out of this space can flourish. There's seasoned love amongst the couples who have been mated for years. And then there is plenty of new love taking root to grow into something strong.
I glance at Michel and Romi swaying slowly to the music. I see Lena and Augustin finally having a real conversation for the first time. It may take some time, but I have high hopes for those two.
Then I look to my heart in human form. The woman who is the strength, honor and glue holding us all together. I can't even fathom what life would be like without her. I sip my drink as I smile and look towards the future.
My future with the Pride of the Lalune.