“Just remember, Leila, I will support whatever decision you make. I am yours, regardless.”
Leila smiled over at him and squeezed his hand instead of answering. Really Nikoli was nervous. If she chose to make them human, he wouldn’t know what to do with himself. Vampirism didn’t seem like it would suit her either. He supposed it was better than the alternative, not being together. That, though, was the only way that she could keep her powers. No other option allowed for her magic to remain intact. Nikoli’s heart hurt for her, for them. He wanted the decision to be hers, solely, because her happiness was more important to him than his own. As long as he was with her, he knew he would be okay. If she chose to walk away from him, however, he might as well be dead. He didn’t want to live without her by his side.
“Have you made a decision, my lovely?” Gabriel’s booming, almost godlike voice overwhelmed their senses once more.
Nikoli felt rather stupefied, but Leila seemed to be handling it like a champ this time. In fact, she barely looked dazed at all. He was proud to be standing beside such a strong woman. He felt power rolling off of her in waves, making him feel safe and calm in a way he hadn’t felt in such a long time. It was rather humbling. It was a very weird sensation for him that he immediately tried to shake off. Leila let go of his hand and he felt the loss almost like it was a punch in the gut. All these emotions were new to him. He had tried for so long to cut them off and block them, but around her he couldn’t help himself.
“You two really are rather adorable, you know. I can feel how much you love each other. It would be a shame to separate you two.” Once more, Gabriel chuckled at some private joke.
‘What is this guy’s deal?’ Nikoli thought, disgusted.
“I just enjoy life to the fullest, Nikoli. Any other questions?” Nikoli raised his eyebrows in surprise. He had forgotten that the Elders were all powerful and could read anyone’s thoughts. Gabriel was staring hard at Leila, possibly trying to read her thoughts. He seemed to be having difficulties, however.
“I am impressed, my lady. You have learned how to conceal your thoughts. It’s been awhile since I have encountered someone with such a remarkable ability. It must run in your family, like with your ancestor, Abagail. Now she was a real treat. It was a shame what happened to her. Dying of a broken heart and all.”
Leila seemed slightly caught off guard, but recovered quickly, gritting her teeth. All this time she had not said even one word. It was so strange not to hear her talk. She seemed to be concentrating intently on something, probably in hiding her thoughts from such a powerful being like Gabriel. She licked her lips and smiled a familiar smile. It was akin to the smile he saw on her grandmother, long ago. It was a mysterious smile. Like she knew a big secret and wasn’t going to share it with anyone.
“I choose humanity. I will give up my powers to start a new life with Nikoli.” It was so silent outside that you could in theory hear a pin drop from a mile away.
Gabriel narrowed his eyes, anger flashing briefly in his brilliant eyes. It seemed like this was not the answer he was expecting to hear, “Are you sure, my lovely? You cannot reverse this decision. Your powers will be gone.”
Leila simply smiled that Mona Lisa smile at him, not shaken even a little bit, “I am sure.”
Nikoli felt sad, knowing that her magic was soon to be taken away forever. He felt like he should say something. Before he could open his mouth, Leila shook her head at him, giving him a look that told him not to interfere. He didn’t understand. Why would she choose to give up her heritage? Her magic? He frowned, conflicted, but complied. He had to keep reminding himself that this was her choice. He had told her he’d support her decision and he needed to honor his promise. Gabriel turned his attention to Nikoli, having witnessed their silent argument. He grinned broadly, rubbing his fingers along his chin.
“Do you have nothing to say, son? You are alright with going back to humanity? No more speed, healing, mind reading abilities?”
Nikoli swallowed audibly, but stood up straighter and raised his chin up, wearing his pride like a banner on his forehead.
“No sir. I respect her decision and am happy that we will remain together. As humans.”
He added the last part hastily, cursing himself for appearing weak.
Gabriel chuckled and shrugged his shoulders, “If you say so.”
Returning his gaze once more to Leila, he pointed to the amulet wry amusement written all over his face.
“You have made your choice. The amulet must be destroyed. Your last act as a witch.”
Nikoli gasped, not expecting him to say such a thing.
“That is a family heirloom. How can you ask such a thing? Is it not bad enough that you are taking her magic?” Leila looked at him sullenly and sighed.
She looked simultaneously sad and annoyed with him, which further puzzled him.
“I already knew this was coming, Nik. It’s alright. It’s just a necklace.”
She screwed up her mouth and took off the necklace, cradling it in her hands, then kissing the heart of the amulet to say goodbye before placing it gently on the ground. She was teary-eyed as she did this and Nikoli’s heart broke in two. Inhaling deeply, eyes closed tightly, she drew the magical energy out of the necklace with her hands until her entire body glowed. Trembling with effort, her hands shook as she opened her eyes and screamed, forcing the power back into her precious amulet all at once. It glowed and shuddered, cracking and shattering as it rose into the air. Finally, it exploded into a million pieces that glittered and fell like fiery violet-silver embers upon them all. They disappeared before they reached the ground. Leila cried out and collapsed into Nikoli’s waiting arms, sobbing.