Time changes you but experiences above you control do even more. The loneliness I'd experienced and the constant inner battle that had torn me apart. Had forged me back together with nothing more than hate inside had been awful. Now I must explain all this to my family.
"Sisi. I am sorry that I couldn't help you." My mum says reaching a hand over the table to put over my own. Her skin slightly more tanned than mine. Her dark hair the same as my own. Her eyes look into mine with tears brimming but also anger.
Explaining everything whilst they had sat patiently listening to everything I've done. Not just on earth but leaving the palace hadn't been a choice. I'd wanted to kill them along with the rest of my family. I had blamed her and dad for my name believing it had some major connection to what I was. I told them about killing Theodore who she had known and actually been friends with years ago. I explain that Theo had set me free and that the archangel his grandfather had been working along side Lilith to gain control of hell.
"We'll bring our army together and take them down. We've known about the rebellions for sometime but haven't acted with them being under the radar. We will have it all further investigated into now." Dad stands up moving around the table. When he comes to my side he looks down at my hounds. "How did you manage to domesticate them? The dark forest isn't known for domestic animals."
"They found me. When I needed. This is Unity." I stroke her head at my right. "This is Misery, the boss of them. They are mates and they have been by my side through everything."
Dad slowly moves around them both as they watch him with dark eyes. I smile at his hesitation. Standing up and moving to him. He wraps his arms around my shoulders and I put my head to his chest locking my hands around his back. Hugging my dad. How I hadn't believed this would ever happen again. This moment means more than anything else. I cannot help but weep into his chest. I hear mum get up from her chair. Feel her embrace wrap around me. Being in my parents embrace again makes my heart fill. It brings home a new feeling of complete. Though I know so much is to come. I've found myself again and now I can build. I can be free of the curse and move forwards.
I don't have to carry my wings like weights to punish myself. I can be proud when I stretch them out, in their dark glory of beauty. I can let them slip away and feel the release against my back muscles. I can sleep at night without the tormenting visions that would have plagued me of murdering my parents.
I hadn't known how my day would go coming home. I'd known it was what I needed to do. I hadn't expected it to finish with my father carrying my exhausted form to bed. Not in my hut in the dark forest. Not even in the untouched rooms that have been left exactly as I abandoned them. Instead I was placed onto my parents bed. I feel asleep with my mother stroking my hair and my fathers bicep for a pillow. I am no child but to these I will always be theirs and I needed this more than I'd known.
I wake up alone in the bed. For a moment I am disorientated to where I am. Light from the sun that is created by hell fire thunders through the open window. I look around and see my parents room. Slightly changed from the black and reds to a wall of teal and the rest being a warm beige. There huge bed that would fit all five of us in when we were kids. Me and Mari waking up Eros before tiptoeing into the room and climbing on the bed. Waking them had always been fun. Mum always took longer to wake in the morning but dad would always wake with a grimace, which is his usual version of a smile.
"You are awake." Mum says smiling at me as she comes back in from their closet. "I don't want to overwhelm you Sisi but I want you to have the option. We are holding a meeting today. We will be explaining everything that has happened to you. It is only for the closest of family and those that live within the palace walls. I got a dress out for you encase you'd like to come but also some trousers and a top encase you wanted to wait here until we returned."
She places the choices down on the bed. Watching me but with no expectation. She is trying to be considerate of giving me a choice and I appreciate that. This is my story though and I have to be there to say it.
"I want to be involved. I will be the one to tell my story." I say climbing from the bed. Mum smiles and I see her beam with pride. Her soul is dented in so many places. They look more like wounds though, the time she went to heaven because of dad. These things are the grey area I couldn't see before. Only the dark. "I'll be ready in half an hour. I've not had a decent shower in a long time."
"It didn't sound as though Theo was too concerned by that." She winks at me.
I cannot explain to mum everything just yet. Not that my heart might belong to another. That I felt it when I wasn't mature and need to know for sure. Having two soulmates is unheard of but is it possible? Or is this just a bond between me and Theo because our lives were meant to meet and be entwined to one another even if just for a time. Mum and especially dad will not be happy if my suspicions are true. Matters will be complicated but I cannot hide away from that. Not anymore.
"Theo was a good angel." Is all I can respond before going into their en-suite. When I climb out and look at myself in the mirror I'm shocked. This is not the person I've seen over the past few years. Gone are the dark circles that sit beneath my eyes. The hollow drained look that my red eyes held before is no more. The chapped lips that had stung to be stretched at time are healed and perfect once more.
I stand at the mirror looking at the rose tint that sits across my cheeks. The dark cluster of my lashes that seem more alive, the way my red eyes shine like they could be seen even in the darkest of caves. My rounds lips have a dark pink rouse to them. The dress is perfect for me. A skater dress that hugs my waist and breasts but blows out over my hips and ends above my knee. Strapless and leaving my shoulders, arms and collarbone bare. I reach up running my hand over my neck. The tight feeling of a collar dragging me is gone. Somehow my neck feels like it was left bruised and yet nothing is there. My hair is thrown up into a messy ponytail with stray curls falling around my face.
"Sisi. You look beyond beautiful. More than I've ever seen." Mum comes behind me putting her hands on my arms and I don't flinch. I welcome her warm touch. She smiles at me in the mirror. Does she see how long it's been since I've looked like myself? Felt like myself? I feel like I could cry a river of tears at seeing me again. "This belongs to you."
I turn and watch her take my old thorn crown from inside of a box. Have they kept it all this time? I feel like I'm back but not the same person. Distance, loneliness and a challenge has changed me. I'm no longer the young demon still aging I once was. This person in the mirror is who I will look like forever and with change comes decisions. Ones I need to make for myself.
"It doesn't. Not anymore." I reply, turning away from the mirror.
"Sisi. The things you did …"
I raise a hand calmly stopping her from speaking. "This isn't about my guilt mum. Of course it is still there even if I had no control. This is because I'm not the person I once was. I do not want to be a queen. When all of this is over I don't want that."
"Is this about Theo?"
"Yes and no. I will make another decision for someone else. Only for myself. If I ever wanted anything with Theo I could not be a queen here but I don't know if I want him. I know that I don't want to be a queen. Or a princess. I want to be Sisi. Your daughter who forges her own path. I may not have trained in a long time but I would like you to treat me fairly, if I pass, I'd like to command our armies for a time. For these battles to come."
"Your dad will not want this."
"I know. Which is why I'm asking you. If I prove myself capable not only to fight and lead but to be the best. There will be no choice but for him to accept this."
I already know I can gain favour with my abilities from everyone else. The guards will not be able to handle the power I now accept that runs through me. Acceptance was key. I'd been fighting for so long to lock it away and I was wrong. Accepting is setting yourself free but I couldn't have done that without Theo's guidance.
"I will do what I can. If you are the best, which I have never doubted. Your father will have no stand against you." She places the crown back in the box and closes it with a ending thud. "This belongs to you though. Not to represent a princess or my child because you are all of those things without it. It belongs to you because you once wore it so proudly and now, now you need no crown to be proud and that is even more of a queen. I know you don't want it and I will never push you to accept it. Mari gone, you stepping down. Eros will rule in time."
"He'll be out of control for a while but I know he will do well."
"Yes he will. Any of you would have but you girls have chosen different paths and I will hold your hands on them."
"Thanks mum." I hug her. We linger until the knock at the door from one of her guards is heard. The meeting is about to begin and it is time for me to tell my closest that I've not seen in what feels like eternity why. It is time to give them answers and also declare a war against our own kind. "Ready."
I sit at the head of the table between my parents. I'd heard the shocked intake of breath when I'd walked into the room. Even noticed some of my cousins or distant 'relatives' not recognise me for a minute. Eros is beside dad and the rest sit down. Dad begins with a short introduction welcoming me home. I cannot meet his eyes far down the table even as I feel them burning through me. Not now. Now is time for me to explain to everyone. Later is time to find out why my heart flutters and my cheeks burn beneath his intense look.
When I stand and speak everyone is silent they make no sound. No wind. Not even the flick of a feather or a clearing of throat is heard throughout my speech. Eyes widen at points and other they look furious flashing to a similar red that mine permanently remain.
My true uncle and aunt, Caine my mums twin and Jesse his wife, their children, uncles and aunts that are not by blood but close to my mother Zurie and Blade and their horde of children, ranging just above my age to way below. Damon an uncle again not by blood and his wife Jade. The sub princes who fathered my dad and non blood uncles, my grandfather Asmodeus at the far end. Neo, the non uncle who is hilarious and one of the most renowned bachelors of hell. Runner up, Armand. The man I cannot bring myself to look at. The man who has never felt like an uncle to me, a protector, a guardian but never an uncle. Not even as a child. He sits beside his father Lucifer who has to be one of my favourite sub princes. Even over my grandfather Belial.
"Such treachery by Lilith will be punished with death." Asmodeus the once feared king of demons. My grandfather on my mothers side stands up. His black wings almost identical to mine but in size, which his are much large flick out intimidatingly. "How dare anyone harm my grandchild."
"Dad." Mum stands up putting a hand to my shoulder so I sit down again. "Sisi has a plan and I think it's best if we follow that. It might sound partially crazy but I think she's right. We have no way of identifying all the rebels but this way. We do."
"I hate to agree when it is my grandchild at risk but I do agree. We can simultaneously take down the rebels and Lilith. Everyone take today and the night to think of your questions. For now. Fuck off so I can see my granddaughter." Asmodeus demands and I cannot help but smile. His blunt expression had sounded almost evil but that wasn't intended. It's just his tone is harsh and aggressive. I guess you have to be as the ruler of demons for as long as he was.
Maybe he is the only one who can truly understand loneliness. In fact my mother had only been born because he had tried to get revenge against a woman he had loved and tormented at every cost. When mum and Caine had nearly been killed it was him who had come to the rescue and saved every hybrid that there was as well. Allowing them all into hell. The majority of those filtering from the room now. I see Armand looking at me but I ignore him and push down any feelings that want to surface. Mum and dad hug me before leaving. Eros swats my hair but I see him smiling brightly that I'm home. It's granddad that wraps me in a hug and sits down talking to me for hours about revenge, about loneliness. About living again because everything about it is amazing. We share, we laugh and I even cry again. You'd think I was bored of crying by now. But it still feels so alien. So new. So refreshing to let it all out without fear I'm going to kill someone.
"I have some things to do. Tomorrow we will meet again and that one won't be as easy. Now you want to be apart of the war rather than a dictator. Be prepared to argue for the stand points you find important." Asmodeus kisses my forehead before smiling at me again and leaving. I sit at the vast table. My hearts aches with how full it now is. Everyone. I'm home with everyone I care about.
"Sisi." Some part of me had been expecting it. Yet his mature voice washes over me like a blanket on a cold night.
I turn around to see Armand. The man who had been my blanket throughout my childhood. My protector and now that I'm looking at him through adult eyes, free of a bubble of rage. I see him. I feel him.