Marilla Hali Conway
It’s been a slow and agonizing road to get Sereia’s trust back as I mend my broken heart that aches for her. She’s in as much pain as I am. Seeing our family in such a state broke me. Now every time I see Ascelin I can’t help but feel guilt for choosing love over them. I didn’t know they lived but yet I chose a vampire over their memory or at least it feels that way. It shouldn’t be.
I’ve opened to Sereia about everything including him since seeing them yet she still fears trusting me and that hurts. I broke her to a point where she can no longer trust me. I wish I could change that. I wish I could travel back into a time where we weren’t both in so much pain. A time when we were so close and inseparable. I miss those times and crave for them.
I know she’s trying as am I but it just doesn’t seem like enough. I still believe she’ll leave me and she believes I would forget her and abandon her. We need each other but can’t get past this, It’s harder than expected. And it shouldn’t be.
We were invincible. Indestructible. We were one. Nothing could tear or break us apart. It was always us against the world and now it seems one thing could break us forever and our people will die. Bearing that over our conscience is terrible but the truth. A terrible truth we are so desperately trying to fight from. We don’t want it to be true but doubt plagues us both.
We know each other maybe even better than we know ourselves. We can recognize each other’s souls and be there for one another. We used to be able to heal each other’s pain and now we just seem to be there and grant support. That’s something friends do. Soulmates are different. She’s different and it tears me apart we’ve grown to friends.
“My pearl,” Ascelin says behind me. I look up to see him behind me in the mirror. My hands gripping the marble vanity tight before slapping my tears away and turning to him. I will not be honest with him or share anything of myself until he’ the same way with me. I want everything especially if I chose him over my family and might just have condemned them to death.
“What do you need?” I ask coldly refusing to show any emotion. I can’t be the only one to be open and honest in this relationship. I need to know I can trust him and he’ll love me. I need to know he won’t kill my people if I come out to him but I can’t know if he doesn’t show me the darkness within him. How can I know what he’s capable of if I don’t know that side of him?
“Why were tears staining your beauty?” He inquires and I shake my head. If he isn’t going to share everything about himself with me then I am not sharing a thing. I will gladly choose Sereia over him, not because I don’t love him but because I can’t survive without her and although he’s getting to that point I don’t want to. I don’t want to fall and reveal myself to him only to discover he’s a monster and not be able to stay away.
I belong to the sea. He belongs on land. I’m a true queen and I’m giving everything for him and he still refuses to be transparent with me. He still continues to lie to me and I don’t want to love him as much as I do Sereia if he isn’t planning to love me the same way. I can’t.
“No,” I answer him. I refuse to give him anything when he won’t give me everything. I’m a queen and my people have to come first now. I don’t want this to be a mistake but his silence breaks me. “Unless you plan to share everything with me, you are getting nothing from me. I want to know every aspect of you including the darkness. How can I trust you if I don’t know who you are and like it or not the darkness is still part of it!”
“I don’t want to...”
“You’ve said it plenty of times but I am not willing to love you as much as I do her if I don’t know you. I’m so desperately trying to convince myself that loving you and being your forever love isn’t a mistake on my part but you aren’t helping. You don’t trust me or love me as much as you say otherwise you would allow me to know everything there is about you. That’s what happens when two people love each other. They share everything!”
“I do love you dammit. Why won’t you understand that I’m trying to protect the light inside you? I don’t want to lose you once you see the darkness, you thought me a monster and kept me at bay. I don’t want to lose you to it!”
“I’m sorry about that but my previous encounters with vampires were poor. I didn’t know better and I would love to think my love for you helped move us past that but apparently, it hasn’t. I was grieving and lashing out. You just happened to be my punching bag and I’m sorry for that. I really am but you won’t know until you do and you are already losing me,” I answer him, tears flooding out his eyes. I will not relent on this.
I would if it was just about me but it wasn’t. My family and Sereia’s lives were also at stake. I want to trust Ascelin with my secrets and believe in him. I want to tell him who and what I am. Everything. But I can’t if he could hurt them. I don’t know him fully and can’t risk it even if it breaks me to keep quiet when every cell in my body wants to share everything. I just can’t believe he doesn’t feel the same way. Is he like the rest?
“Now what do you need?” I ask him once more. He sighs reading that this conversation will get us nowhere. I’m sorry but no. I need to know better. I’ve already hurt Sereia. I can’t hurt her or anyone else.
“The royal family of the water fairies will be attending tonight at dinner. Please if you could be cordial to them, she’ll be attending as well,” he interrupts me before I have time to answer and I smile. I’ll have her by my side.
“I won’t guarantee it but I will do my best. Now if you excuse me, I’ll go see her. I’ll be with her until dinner. Feel free to keep secrets and conspire behind me,” I spit before walking out of the bathroom. I’m done with him and giving me half-answers.
I walk out of the room and sense for my soulmate. Our souls are waning even further from each other but I can still feel her. Even if it’s faint, I still can and will do everything in my power to restore it. She deserves that much as do I. We’ve been in each other’s lives forever and I’m not just about to let it all mean nothing over one mistake. I would restore our connection or die trying.
I make my way to the room she has to share with the wolf and where I tend to stay to keep her safe. I only feel safe if I’m with her. I feel closer to my family and the water when in her arms as does she. It helps keep both our nightmares at bay. Our bond being on the path to being restored.
“Did they tell you about the dinner with the water fairies tonight?” Sereia asks me as soon as she sees me and I nod.
“I’m tempted to not go. You know how much I despise them especially seeing how they’ve taken credit for the water spirits doing. They thrive on false beliefs while the true ones are being slaughtered and taken captive,” I inform her and she nods.
“I know about as much as I like witches,” she answers.
“They believe themselves superior to everyone not to mention that’s where the false prophecy originated from,” I add and she nods. “Why do you suppose they want us there?”
“To see if we’re water fairies. They really are clueless to it so let’s keep it that way,” she warns me and I nod. “Trouble in paradise?”
“I want to believe that choosing love wasn’t a mistake even if it was at a time of grief but he makes it hard by not sharing every aspect of himself with me and it hurts,” I tell her taking a seat on the bed.
“He’s not me Marilla,” she offers and I shake my head.
“I’m not asking him to be. I just want him to be honest with me so that I can know if he truly is the one and will love me as I am. What I am and you know the water shapes my being. I can’t understand if he’ll place out people in danger if I go to him. I don’t want that. I won’t be able to handle it. I don’t want to love him as much as you if could hurt us...”
I break into tears and a second later she’s wrapping her arms around me granting me comfort. She’s doing her best to understand me and not judge Ascelin without meeting him despite it being hard on her. But he isn’t making it easy for us and it appears she was right about them all along.
“I know it hurts and I’m really hoping I am wrong about them. I’m hoping I’m wrong because I don’t want him to break your heart,” she whispers to me as she holds me tighter. It hurts, all of it. My brother and father. The other merfolk. My betrayal to Leith. Breaking Sereia. Ascelin refusing to be honest. Everything. It hurts so much.
We spend an endless amount of time holding each other as we both begin to collapse and trusting the other one to catch her. It helps restore what once was. It mitigates the pain and gives us hope that we can restore this. A knock on the door interrupts us hours later as we reminisce over our past in the sea. The good times no one could or can take.
“Come on in,” Sereia says giggling. A true smile on her lips. One that she was enjoying herself and seeming to heal. The door opens to reveal a beautiful woman with dirty blonde hair and mystique caramel eyes. Not as profound as Sereia’s or mine but right there. She was beautiful and breathtaking. She bore scars all around her but she held herself with grace.
Behind her was another woman. She had beautiful, golden brown locks and beautiful stormy gray eyes. She had an aura of power around her and she reminded me of Roul so I could only guess she was related to him. They both bore cordial smiles.
“Did you lose something?” Sereia rudely inquires and as a force of habit, I hit her playful and scolded her with a stern gaze.
“Be nice or I’m drowning you,” I play with her.
“Go ahead try we all know I’m a faster swimmer,” she fires back and I look at her offended feeling slightly like old times again.
“Because you like to cheat,” I shoot back.
“Sure I do, don’t be such a sore loser, and let’s go test that theory of yours,” she challenges me and I nod as a signal to do so.
“Unfortunately it won’t be at this instant seeing as we have to get you both ready for dinner with the water fairy royals,” stormy eyes says coldly as her friend bores her eyes into mine. She doesn’t seem to like me and I don’t know why. It’s odd.
“Seems you got saved,” Sereia utters and I bore my eyes into her. She knows I hate them and would take them out if I could. But I can’t use the water for such anger, it just isn’t the way. I learned that the hard way and it almost cost us both our lives.
“The only reason I am not answering you back how you deserve is that I need to save my restraint,” I tell her and she smiles.
“Okay don’t get your kelp all twisted,” she answers chuckling.
“First of all, rude! Second of all, I will hurt you,” I add playfully.
“Your mother would kill you,” she teases me and I arch my eyebrow at her.
“And your mother would kill us both,” I say and she meditates it before nodding.
“Alright true and you win for now. Alright, what’s for dinner, so you know?” Sereia inquires and I roll my eyes.
“It isn’t Thursday,” I tease her and she pouts at me.
“It better be or someone might just die,” she responds hangry. Thursday nights when both our mothers cooked endless amounts of seafood we wouldn’t quite finish until we became mermaids. I smile at her as we both recall old times.
“Just wait and every day will be Thursday,” I offer her. and she smiles. “We’ll prove everyone wrong and show them who we are,” I add and she smiles one of those soulmate smiles. She believed the same thing I did and that warmed my heart.
“I trust and believe in you always,” she speaks to me and I nod. We are getting somewhere with recent actions and words. We’re both placing everything into this so we can save our families and our people. Together.
“We swim together, we die together,” we say in unison before embracing in a hug as the other two women stare at us in confusion. Sereia and I roll our eyes together before laughing about it.
“Alright let’s get ready for this stupid dinner,” I say resigned and they nod although they didn’t seem to like my tone. Or my adjective. Sereia understands but I can’t expect two wolves to do so. It takes a lot to know me. And only one person can until now. I’m only transparent with those that are the same with me. I refuse it otherwise.
They get us dressed, dolled up, and looking like sheer fakes. Nothing of what we ourselves are used to. They dress me in an emerald floor dress. It remarks on my curves while very much hiding them. Even the cleavage is light. It is sequin like and with tulle everywhere. It hurts my sensitive skin. I much rather prefer satin to silk. It is strapless with a heart-shaped neckline. All sparkly and kinda vulgar in my taste.
Sereia is dressed in a velvet purple ballgown with golden designs all around making it lose elegance. The flow was wrong and all puffed out. Long sleeves with an even lost neckline than mine. Sereia looked furious as did I. These dresses didn’t fit us. It wasn’t our type and it seemed a lot of trouble for someone I don’t even like. I am not dressing up for them, let them be damned.
“Marilla it is...”
“Nope, I am so not wearing this dress,” I tell her after they’ve finished getting us ready and left us alone in the room.
“Play along for now so we can discover more,” she contradicts me and I falter. I bear no choice. It just makes my skin itch and hurts my eyes with so many jewels and how uncomfortable it is. It fits me a little too loose. None of this would have happened with Leith. He would have dressed me in turquoise fitted dresses that brought out both my appeal and aura of a queen. He wouldn’t have dressed me in this atrocious dress that was uncomfortable.
“Love you my love but...”
“Please, we need to know more and see if we can figure out who knows where they are, I’m almost done finishing up with the map detailing all their camps and prisons. It won’t be long before we can escape and we get to discover if the fairies are with them. Or if the Royal family is at least. We already discovered Roul isn’t and that I killed four hunters, not innocents. Please for me.”
“Fine but only because of you and you will need to hold me back. You know how much I dislike them especially after one of them broke my brother’s heart,” I tell her and she nods. Sighing and pouting I leave her bedroom when she points to the door. She has to wait on Roul isn’t it just dandy. I descend from the stairs into the greeting room to find them all there already.
Ascelin, the two women who helped us get ready, and Calista. The Royal Lineage of the Water Fairies and an older couple. All dressed in boring clothing and so last centuries ago. Ascelin locks eyes with me immediately and stands to come to greet me. I offer him the hand which he takes to place a kiss on it like a gentleman. One that lies, that is. I restrain myself from rolling my eyes at him.
“My pearl let me introduce you to the Asherah family. The King and his two daughters. His queen and three sons couldn’t make it tonight,” Ascelin introduces me and I do my best to be cordial remembering it’s for the good of my people but overall for family. My family.
“Nice to make your acquaintance,” I say tuning into my inner queen and bowing my head, only a little bit, as a sign of respect.
“Likewise, Ascelin speaks in high regards of you,” the King says and I nod. “And you look lovely tonight as I’m sure your well aware,” he speculates and I smile giving nothing away.
“Thank you, I prefer silk and satin dresses to be sincere. A short time span led to this but I’m glad it’s to your liking at least,” I say with my best fake smile.
“Glad to know I’m not the only one who dislikes a whole lot of that,” one of his daughters says as she gestures to my dress and I laugh. I keep my brother’s face in mind. His cry for help and my promise to do so. I smile at her.
“Not at all,” I answer her. “My soulmate is actually the same way and occasionally even wears velvet. I guess it depends greatly on the occasion and your companion to the evening but softer fabrics are the way to go,” I offer and she smiles at me. She actually pleases me. I like her. Which is odd because I don’t like fairies especially the water fairies.
“I’m glad to meet someone who agrees with my tastes, no one back home seems to understand. My name is Lorelei and this is my older sister Edlin. Pleased to meet you,” she says bowing towards me as if she could feel my power. Odd... unless...
“Likewise. Marilla,” I tell her and she looks slightly surprised before brushing past it. I turn to her sister and see a pendant from the sea around her neck. They were made in the deepest parts of the Ocean Blue by merfolk for their significant others. I should know. I got mine with Leith. He bore a necklace similar to mine.
“Odd name for a human. If I recall correctly it means by the sea as well as shining sea,” Edlin inquires and I nod.
“It does actually my mother was a huge marine biologist and had a love for the Ocean unlike anything else always speaking of its secrets but being a water fairy you should know them all,” I say laughing with a sense of lightness.
“One would say I do,” she answers caught off guard.
“So have you ever reached the bottom of the Ocean Floor? How is it like in the deepest waters of the Ocean Blue? Tell me do cities exist beneath the water?” I ask with curiosity leaving her speechless. I am not stupid.
“When is Roul coming down, really I find it a little disrespectful that he isn’t already down here already,” the King quickly shifts the conversation but two can play at that game.
“He had a last-minute meeting but shouldn’t be long now,” the older man in the room says and I smile at Edlin.
“So, tell me Edlin where did you get your necklace from, it’s quite beautiful and seems awfully familiar to me,” I inquire with a cordial and ample smile.
“It was a gift from one of my suitors,” she answers with a deceiving smile that I see-through. It isn’t glowing for her and it seems to follow Lorelei. It’s odd and our necklaces are sacred. It isn’t hers but it looks oddly familiar.
“For some reason, I don’t believe you,” I tell her coldly while looking at Lorelei from the corner of my eyes and she lowers her gaze as if not being to maintain it. “It’s yours, isn’t it?” I ask her turning to face her and she looks away.
“Well, my sister gave it to me,” Edlin quickly answers for her but I don’t believe her. It doesn’t seem to be the case.
“You know some creatures have a tradition with necklaces only gifting them to their greatest love. The necklace is made specifically for that person and even bears magic to protect its true love from harm,” I inform her of my tradition.
“Is that where yours comes from?” She asks with sarcasm laced in her voice. I smile at her as sweetly as I can before answering.
“A gift from someone very dear and something beautiful about them is that if it’s stolen and worn by someone else it...”
“Will burn like hell and scar you for the rest of your days,” Sereia finishes for me as she comes in with Roul and walks to my side.
“Missed you,” I tell her and she nods.
“As did I,” she says placing an arm around my shoulders and holding me tight. “So indulge me in something to prove you are its real owner,” Sereia says shrugging her shoulders slightly.
“And if I don’t?”
“I can rip it off your neck,” she whispers and I smile.
“You wouldn’t like that, her father is in defense and taught her how to hold her ground,” I add and she looks skeptically at us.
“Is that a threat?” The king inquires and Sereia shakes her head.
“No, a promise. Which is why I offered another option unless she isn’t the real owner and in some places, it is punishable by death. The magic in them is quite strong. I’m just foretelling,” she adds and I smile.
“Do the damn thing Edlin would you, I wouldn’t want that thing to hurt you,” the king tells her after meditating on it. She nods and I smile.
“So what is this thing you want me to do?”
“Simple unclasp the necklace from your neck and place it on that table,” Sereia guides her and she looks skeptical at us both but does as we say.
“And now what?”
“You both call for it,” Sereia tells her.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Just say mine and it shall come forth, as simple as that,” I answer her.
“Alright fine,” Edlin answers. “Mine,” she calls for the necklace but it stays in place. “Necklace come here,” she calls again but it doesn’t move. “This is just stupid,” she says making an attempt to go get it but Sereia stops her.
“Call for it,” I tell Lorelei and she looks uncertain until Sereia nods her way. Breathing in before parting her lips.
“My love come to me,” she calls and the necklace rises from the table to quickly wrap around her neck glowing at her. My heart stops as I see the glow it emits. She’s pregnant with a Merman’s child. The glow calling to me. My brother’s child.