Days Of Bliss Within My Dreams
by Darth Stitch

Disclaimer:Trinity Blood was created by Yoshida Sunao (R.I.P.) and is now an anime directed by Tomohiro Hirata and produced by the studio GONZO. I make no money off this – only picking up where Yoshida-sensei left off. Lyrics appearing in the fifth ficlet are from Josh Groban's lovely song "So She Dances."

AUTHOR'S WARNINGS: Trinity Blood is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the Roman Catholic Church/the Vatican is portrayed as a military power as well as a spiritual one. The series also strongly implies major and controversial changes in the Church, such as women being bishops and cardinals as well as romantic relationships and quite possibly marriage between members of the clergy. If this disturbs you, do not read any further.

Ficlet six is most definitely NOT for children. Out of the pool, kids! Those of you who know my writing style and have seen my slash fics know I don't write explicitly but this is close enough.

The following is a set of Alternate Universe ficlets where I've played merry hell with canon elements. So yeah, now's the time to leave canon at the door. NOT part of the Milk Tea series.

Offer up these tears,
The words of a new love.
Thank you, days of bliss within my dreams.
I thank the fact that we met here.
For eternity.

- translated from "Requiem" by Lisa, Trinity Blood OST

One (A Prologue)

This is the story that we know – that the vampires, the Methuselah, came to Earth after Armageddon raged and in its destructive path, remade the world anew. They were led by three of the four Night Lords – Cain, Abel and Seth – and though many had seen the destruction and death wrought about by the dark angel Abel, it was Cain that everyone really feared. All acknowledged that it was Cain who truly led the Methuselah, who sought to create a "New Human Empire" where the Methuselah reigned supreme.

Lilith Sahl was the only Night Lord who chose to take the side of the humans of Earth, dubbed now as the "Terrans" by the Methuselah. Now known as the Naia Sancta or the Black Saint, Lilith knew, as the Night Lords did, that both Terrans and Methuselah were still human. And yet she believed that it would be better to bring both sides together through peace and understanding, rather than war and conquest.

It was Lilith who first touched the heart of Abel, Cain's fierce and bitter twin, and sought to calm his rage against the Terrans. It was Lilith who reached out to little Seth and reminded her of their true purpose – to use their powers to protect and defend all humans – Methuselah or Terran.

This is where the story changes.

Lilith saw into Cain's heart and sought to fill the emptiness in his soul. And so, though she loved Abel truly, she chose his fair and golden twin and she and Cain were wed, Emperor and Empress of the New Human Empire, where both Methuselah and Terran could live in peace and harmony.

It was not the first time someone would choose Cain over Abel Nightlord. From the beginning of their existence in the laboratories that created them, everyone always chose to love and adore Cain, the bright and charismatic twin instead of Abel, who was sullen and withdrawn, never seeing either twin for what they truly were.

Abel knew that this would always be his fate and so he chose to keep his silence, for his twin's own happiness, which he valued above his own. For love of Lilith, he chose the path she showed him and protected both Terrans and Methuselah faithfully as their Prince, though they feared his fierce temper and icy demeanor.

His youngest sister Seth, beloved Imperial Princess, was the only one who saw things as they were and did her best to comfort her older brother, only to see him retreat even more and more from the world, choosing to only let everyone see the terrible, dark-winged Crusnik. His battles were not truly over, for not all Methuselah chose to take allegiance to the New Human Empire's benevolent Emperor and Empress and there were those who still believed that they should rule supreme over the Terrans who were fit to be mere cattle at best.

And so Abel chose to lose himself in fighting and war, often leaving the Empire for places far away, to flee the eternal bliss of the two people he loved most of all…

Two (Esther)

Bishop Laura had taught her to be brave.

The little girl, who was not much more than four years old, tried to be very still and very quiet, tucked behind an enormous statue of Saint Michael the Archangel, hidden safely in the shadow of his wings. The vampires had come into the Church and Bishop Laura and the other priests and nuns were fighting them. Bishop Laura had told her to close her eyes and to hide her face into her hands.

You must not look, the Bishop told her. You must be very good and very brave. You must pray to God that you will be safe. Do you understand, little Esther?

Esther was good. Esther was brave. She would not look.

But she could hear the screams of agony and pain and the vampires' laughter. And she prayed that Bishop Laura would be safe.

But then, clawed hands pulled her out of her hiding place and Esther saw.

Bishop Laura, lying on the floor, her face white and still and her throat torn out.

Esther screamed.

"Let that child go and perhaps, I will let you live," rasped the dark-winged angel who suddenly appeared in their midst.

"I will obey no orders from a traitorous Night Lord," jeered the vampire who held Esther. She squirmed in his grasp, little feet kicking. The dark angel was indeed frightening to look at, with his blood-red eyes, his fangs and claws and that wickedly sharp scythe he held in his hands. And yet strangely enough, she found reassurance in those terrible eyes and she knew that she would be safe.

And then, Esther had an idea.

She bit, as hard as she could, into the arm of the vampire who held her. He yelped and let her drop to the floor and it was all the dark angel was waiting for. The dark angel swept in and the vampire fell in pieces on the ground and so followed all the rest of his fellows.

And when it was over, Esther somehow managed to stand up on wobbly knees and run to the dark angel, clinging tight to his leg.

The angel was startled at her touch and gently, he pried away her tiny hands and knelt to regard her. The red haze had faded from the angel's eyes, leaving them a cool winter blue and now she could see the kindness there. And so she threw himself into his arms, burying her head in his neck and she cried.

Esther was only four and she had already tried her best to be brave and good. It was hard, so very hard, now that Bishop Laura was gone.

The angel had stood still at first, as if unused to that kind of contact but then, he lifted her up and held her close.

"Don't cry, little one," he said, making his harsh voice sound as soft and as soothing as he could. "I will protect you. I will always be on your side."

Three (Seth)

The little girl was not speaking.

The doctors had looked over her carefully. Other than a few minor cuts and bruises, Esther Blanchett was not truly harmed. But she would not talk and she would barely eat. She had difficulty sleeping, often waking up screaming from nightmares. But other than that sound, she could not or would not say a single word.

Finally, they turned to their beloved Princess Seth, whose inclinations had always lain towards healing. Seth had gone to see the little girl, who had just woken herself screaming from another nightmare. Seth had tried to calm her, to reassure her that all was well but the child only gazed up at the youngest Crusnik with tearful dark blue eyes.

Seth smiled comfortingly. "It's the monsters, isn't it? They come get you when you close your eyes."

Esther nodded mutely.

"You are safe, you know. No one will harm you here, Esther. Do you believe me?"

Esther whimpered softly and rubbed at her eyes with tiny fists.

This happened to Seth, sometimes, when all of a sudden, everything was bright and crystal clear to her. Sometimes, knowing the truth hurt terribly. But sometimes, it was a joyful, shining thing.

Today was one of those better days. And with that realization, Seth had a very good idea.

The Imperial Princess bent down and gently drew Esther into her arms. Seth still looked like a very young girl of thirteen or fourteen but Esther was tiny for her age and Seth could carry her easily. The two of them went off together, into the Imperial Palace, in the private apartments reserved for the Nightlords.

They went into the gardens where Seth's older brother Abel could normally be found, gazing up at the night sky.

Abel looked as he always had these days; the Crusnik nanomachines were very active in his blood for Abel was almost always in the midst of battle. It had sharpened his features, gave his pale skin a bluish tint, his eyes a shade somewhere between crimson and their normal blue and of course, those claws and fangs. He looked fearsome and wild, the stuff of nightmares.

Except perhaps for one little girl.

Seth, naturally, was used to her brother's appearance, though she wished he would look otherwise. Not many people made the effort to look beneath the surface. She had a feeling Esther would see Abel as clearly as she did though.

Abel, of course, had sensed them coming and had turned to face them. He was rather taken aback at the presence of the little girl. But before he could say a word, Seth beat him to it:

"Look, Esther, this is my older brother Abel. You remember him, don't you?"

Esther nodded, staring up at a bemused Abel with wonder in her eyes.

"He'll keep the monsters away, right?" Seth said cheerfully.

Esther nodded again, more vigorously.

"Seth, what is the meaning of this?" Abel managed to find his wits and speak and Seth tried not to show her surprise and delight as she heard her brother's true voice for the very first time in so many centuries, undistorted by the nanomachines.

Seth gave him her most darling little-girl look. "Exactly what I said, big brother. She can't sleep, she can't eat and she won't or can't talk because the monsters will come and get her. Esther here is afraid of the monsters but you scared them away and you'll do that again, won't you?"

Abel blinked and then, very carefully, he bent down so he could look Esther in the eye. "I would think she'd be more afraid of me."

Esther shook her head.

The change started, as always, with his eyes. The blood-red was slowly giving way again to that clear icy blue. Very gently, he reached out with one clawed finger and stroked Esther's cheek, careful not to scratch the delicate skin.

"Not afraid of me at all, hmm?"

Esther shook her head more emphatically.

His skin was losing its bluish tint and the fangs disappeared completely. Abel gave her one of his rare, sweet smiles. "I think I made you a promise, kitten."

Esther smiled shyly back and nodded.

"Now what was that promise again…oh! I did promise to protect you, right?"

Esther nodded again, those dark blue eyes beginning to sparkle.

"And that I'll always be on your side. I do believe those were the terms, yes?"

Esther giggled and it was the sweetest sound they had ever heard. The child reached out for Abel and this time, the hands that gently took her from Seth's arms were normal, human hands.

And for the first time in all these long centuries, Seth beheld the true face of her beloved older brother. The one who had always protected her, made her laugh, kept her safe, just as he was doing now for Esther.

Seth wanted to weep for joy.

But of course, she kept her mischievous little-girl smile.

"And my brother Abel always keeps his promises."

"You're not going to let me live this down anytime, are you, brat?" Abel asked her ruefully as Esther, just like Seth had been at her age, became quite fascinated with Abel's silver hair, one small finger stroking one stray silvery lock that lay over Abel's shoulder.

Seth snickered softly.

And then, Esther spoke for the very first time since she was brought to the Imperial capital. "Pretty."

Seth's snickers grew louder.

"Now if you're not going to eat," Abel told Esther conversationally, as if the child speaking for the first time was of no earth-shattering import at all, "You have to feed me."

Esther's eyes grew wide.

"It better not be milk tea with thirteen sugars," Seth said, rolling her eyes. "You're not supposed to give her diabetes, Abel!"

"Now I like chocolate," Abel said, ignoring his sister. "Seth likes it too. You suppose if we run really, really, really fast, we'll get to the chocolate and finish it before she does?"


Abel threw his sister a mischievous grin and ran off with a cheerfully squealing Esther over his shoulder, Seth hot on their heels.

Four (Caterina)

Caterina Sforza, Cardinal Prince of the Roman Catholic Church, took a deep breath, calming herself.

This was to be an important day, the day her dear late father had worked for all his life as the Pope. This was the first step that the Church would be taking in making peace with the Tzara Methuselute, the Great Empire where the ones that her brother Francesco had damned as demonic vampires dwelled.

But Caterina had had enough of the hate and the superstition and the myths of terror that had kept all of them from seeing the truth. The "vampires" were simply human, as they were human, if albeit different because of the bacilli that had changed their bodies. Still, these were not the undead who rose from their unquiet graves feasting on human blood.

Ion Fortuna, Count of Memphis, the young Imperial envoy to the Vatican, had said it best: "Faugh! As if we would become like beasts and bite people's necks! Foolishness!"

Ion had helped very much to dissuade the notion of the Methuselah as ravening monsters. He looked around the age of the current Pope, Alessandro, who was Caterina's youngest brother. The Count carried himself with an easy grace and self-confidence that the young Pope admired very much. It also helped that Ion had once saved the Pope's life from an assassination attempt by vampire extremists – that horrible Rosen Kruez Orden – and it forged an unassailable bond of friendship between them.

Ion had proven what Caterina had long said in the Vatican Council – that the Methuselahs were simply human and capable of great good, not just evil. Ordinary Terrans had in their own history, terrible tyrants who committed deeds far more monstrous than the so-called "vampires" today. Had the Terrans of centuries ago recognized this, perhaps the Armaggeddon might have been averted.

Or that last terrible war might never have happened if the Terrans had not been so greedy for immortality, as Caterina's father had once taught her.

Today, the Prince of the Tzara Methuselute, Abel Nightlord himself, would come to the Vatican. The Cardinal had heard many stories about this particular man – a Crusnik, far more powerful than the Methuselahs themselves. He was fierce and absolutely terrifying in battle. His hatred of Terrans had been legendary, until the Empress Lilith made him see the error of his ways.

Caterina wondered why he was sent, when the Empress was known to be much closer to the Church and the Princess Seth was also known to be more kindly inclined to Terrans. Even the Methuselahs themselves feared him though Ion had once said that he would trust their Prince to always watch over and protect them. And that Ion would follow his Prince into hell and back again, should it be commanded of him.

"Sometimes, even we of the glorious Methuselah are unable to see clearly," said Ion cryptically.

Caterina found herself pondering those words when she passed by a chapel and heard singing.

It was a man's voice, a glorious soaring tenor, singing an ancient hymn of prayer. He was joined by a child's clear, sweet voice, blending perfectly in harmony.

Caterina thought that perhaps this was how angels sang in heaven.

She saw a man, standing close to the altar, dressed in severe black. Long silver hair was caught by a simple onyx clasp in a low ponytail. A little red-haired girl in a dark blue dress stood next to him, holding on to his hand. Caterina thought that perhaps this was a priest with a young orphan in his charge – often the orphans in the care of the Church were dressed like the novices preparing for the nunnery.

And then, the man and the child finished their song. The little girl noticed her first and tugged at her companion to get his attention. When the man turned around, Caterina realized that this was no priest but a visitor from the Empire. It was true that his costume was less elaborate than those of the Imperials that Caterina had seen but the color and fabric were rich and the long black robes were edged with fine gold tracery. The child too was simply but elegantly dressed.

And then, she found herself snared by eyes the color of a lake in winter and abruptly realized who the man was.

Those remarkable eyes crinkled a little with amusement. "I am sorry if we disturbed the peace of your chapel. Esther here," and at that, he bent down and gently took the small child into his arms, "has been trying to teach me this song for the longest time."

"I like it when you sing," said the little girl – Esther – happily. "And it's my favorite song."

"It is lovely," said Caterina, finally finding the wit to speak. "Where did you learn it, little one?"

"Bishop Laura taught me." The happiness abruptly faded from the child's dark blue eyes; she threw her arms around the man's neck and cuddled close. Caterina suddenly regretted asking that question.

The name was familiar – Caterina remembered a report of a rogue vampire attack at the St. Matthias Church in Istvan which was repelled by the man standing before her now. He had been too late to save the Bishop but he had been able to save the orphans and the novices under her care. It was one of the many reasons why this meeting was taking place today.

Caterina also did not miss the way he gently held Esther close now, stroking her back comfortingly. The shadows seemed to play tricks on her for she had the distinct impression of great black wings stretching from the man's back, folding protectively over the child.

"What Bishop Laura taught you, little one, is a prayer," Caterina told her gently. Her heart ached for the girl; she too knew how it felt to watch a loved one die horribly. "And when one sings that prayer, it will go straight to heaven."

The child brightened considerably. "Will Bishop Laura hear it from there?"

"Why, I'm very sure she would!" And then, an imp of mischief suddenly possessed her. "Especially with such wonderful singers as the two of you!"

Esther giggled and blushed prettily.

The man cocked his head to one side quizzically and wryly asked, "Would your God heed the prayers of one such as I, my Lady Cardinal?"

Caterina Sforza raised her chin, looked Abel Nightlord straight in the eye and then turned her gaze to the precious burden in his arms meaningfully. "I would think that He has already answered those prayers with great joy, my Lord Prince."

Five (Abel)

You don't believe in fairy tales.

At least, you don't believe in the sugary, happily-ever-after ones. When you were seven, your favorite book was the rare edition of Grimm's Grimmest that Cain had given you on your birthday. The other children were raised on the regurgitated pap of Sleeping Beauty being waked by true love's kiss or some other such rot.

(Lilith would not let him read the stories to Seth when she came to join them, believing it would give the little girl nightmares. But Seth was never afraid and read the book herself. Sometimes, at night, she would creep into his room, book in hand and ask him to read one of the stories and she would make up her own endings when he was done. Often, he liked her endings better.)

You know the older, truer tales, the ones with all the blood and the gore and where happily-ever-after was just a joke or you are left wondering how happy Sleeping Beauty could be, for example, when her prince's mother is a wicked troll who would eat her own grandchildren. The monster isn't under the bed; he's out there already and you see him when you look in the mirror.

("I'm not afraid of you," Esther had told him once, when she had finally seen him at what he thought was his very worst, incited to rage and reveling in the destruction of a traitorous kidnapper who had tried to take the child in his care. Esther called out his name in a strangled sob; her voice alone snapping him out of his murderous fury.)

You had thought it best, at the last, when you had finally sent Esther away. The kidnappers' plot had revealed the child's true identity – a Princess of the Terran kingdom of Albion, of all things – and so her kin, who had been searching for her all this time, finally came to take her home.

("But this is my home!" Esther had cried. She was just six years old – all she had ever known was the Bishop who had first taken her in and raised her and then there was him, unworthy though he was.)

In your heart, you had hoped for Esther having her own happy ending for there is nothing that she deserves more. Your life is wrought with danger and strife, part of it borne by circumstance, part of it wrought by your own nature. Seth would tell you otherwise but she is your sister and the love between you has always been there and she forgives you everything, even when you think you don't deserve it.

(He remembers Seth's startled look as he had found himself suddenly reverting back to his old self as she introduces Esther to him and tells the child he would protect her. It is a story of the kind Seth has always been good at and he tries not to think too much of the tears of happiness Seth tries to hide when he finally, consciously, allowed the Crusnik nanomachines to rest for the first time in years…)

You have always been the dark one, the wrathful one – Cain had been the one who seemed to be touched by the light, though you know full well your twin's shadow self. It is only the reflection of your own, after all, though Cain prefers to hide this and you never would. Perhaps this is the true reason why Lilith chose Cain over you… not that you have hated/loved her for it, at least, not for a long time now.

(When he had first seen his sister as a two year old child, she had smiled up at him and toddled over to him immediately, demanding that he take her into his arms with an imperious "Up!" The other scientists had fully expected her to be drawn to Cain, as everyone else had been but Lilith had only smiled and told both twins that they must care for and watch over their little sister.)

Esther's life has been a fairy tale, with the kind of ending Seth might have thought up of. The little orphan, who was taken in by a kindly monster, only to turn out to be the lost Princess of a mighty kingdom, reunited now with her loving grandmother and siblings. You think of that in the first few nights she was gone, when you wake up remembering how she cried when the Terrans from Albion finally came to take her away.

(Cardinal Caterina had alluded that Esther was the answer to his prayers. It was something a woman or man of the cloth might have said, an empty meaningless platitude. Often, he would find himself remembering the Cardinal's words when he was in the midst of patiently answering a small five year old's many questions, trying not to laugh at the peculiar and often true insights she drew from his answers. Or when he would sing Esther back to sleep from yet another nightmare, sitting on the side of her bed, only to find that he could not quite get up, the trailing strands of his long silvery hair clutched in her small hands.)

Now it has been many years since that day.

("Don't cry, little one," he had said to the frightened child, making his harsh voice sound as soft and as soothing as he could. "I will protect you. I will always be on your side.")

You made her a promise once and Seth has always said that you keep your promises (damn her…bless her). It is that promise that finally draws you to Albion, albeit you are here to represent the Empire on the occasion of the Princess Esther's eighteenth birthday. Of course, it is to be a grand ball and many fine young men will be vying for her heart and hand in marriage. The news feeds have been filled with gossip about her and the handsome young son of the Duke of Germanicus – wasn't his name Diether or Dietrich?

A waltz when she walks in the room
She pulls back the hair from her face
She turns to the window to sway in the moonlight
Even her shadow has grace…

Like in those other fairy tales that you have so despised as a boy, Esther will, of course, choose her fair Prince and have her happy ending. You only hope that she will think kindly of the monster who had once watched over her. You come to the ball because you want your last memory of her to be something different than the tear-stained face of the child who had been your dear friend.

A waltz for the girl out of reach
She lifts her hands up to the sky
She moves with the music
The song is her lover
The melody's making her cry…

Your first sight of Esther makes you catch your breath.

So she dances…in and out of the crowd like a glance
This romance is from afar calling me silently…

Oh but she has grown up, your little Esther, into a strikingly beautiful young woman. Her red hair frames a delicate little face, devoid now of its round childish curves. But her dark blue eyes are still the eyes that you remember, though they seem wistful and reflective tonight, rather than happy.

A waltz for the chance I should take
But how will I know where to start?
She's spinning between constellations and dreams
Her rhythm is my beating heart…

You think to draw back – this glimpse is enough, more than enough for you. The sudden, abrupt change from child to this young woman-stranger has caught you off balance. There are too many thoughts spinning through your mind right now and the sudden rush of strong emotion is unwelcome and unsettling. But your feet are moving seemingly of their own volition and you are walking towards her. And before you can sternly pull yourself together, you are caught by her gaze as she finally sees you, the dawn of recognition and joy in those blue depths reeling you in.

"Hello, Abel."

So she dances…in and out of the crowd like a glance
This romance is from afar calling me silently
I can't keep on watching forever
I give up this view just to tell her…

What else can you do but raise her hand to your lips for a kiss and ask her to dance?

When I close my eyes I can see
The spotlights are bright on you and me

And you are utterly blinded by her brilliant smile when she answers "Yes."

(There is no more room for thought in that precious brief eternity as they dance together, moving perfectly in step with each other. Her face is incandescent as the two of them carefully rebuild the ties that were broken while they were apart and create something new and infinitely more precious. Truly, she is no longer the child he once cared for. He holds her gently in his arms and suddenly, he knows that he will no longer let her go.)

We've got the floor
And you're in my arms
How could I ask for more?

Six (An Interlude – Abel & Esther)

Desire can be cruel; it can be capricious.

It caught Abel by surprise, unwelcome and unwanted. Esther had been a child when he first knew her but they had been apart for more than twelve years. It is a blink of an eye for an immortal like him. But it is an eternity for her and she is no longer that child but a woman grown. And like all women, she is a mystery to him, one that beguiles and enchants him. The old heartbreak over Lilith has been forgotten and now healed – how long could he pine over a love that can never be and was never returned? Esther has chosen him and he cannot deny her that choice – not anymore.

Esther has always known she loves him, her dark angel, her protector and guardian. When she had been little, she had not understood why he sent her away to these kind strangers who were her blood kin. Now, with the years having passed between them, she now understands and the innocent love she had felt for him as a child has grown and changed. She looks at him and that innocence falls from her sight – the immortal Prince of the Methuselah, beautiful and unchanging.

What right had she to love him, surrounded as he was by the women of his kind but not kindred, eternally as beautiful and alluring, and he utterly dangerous beyond belief?

What right had he to love her, his pure and innocent Terran princess, who would never know darkness and death, the taste of blood on her lips, staining her skin?

But desire is relentless and unforgiving; it has them both in its grasp and would never let go.

His first kiss completes her awakening, the gentle press of his lips upon hers unbearably sweet, an unfamiliar but not unwelcome heat coursing through her body.

The first tentative touch of her fingers upon his cheek enflames him. Her hands thread through his silver hair, as always strangely fascinated by it and he is caught by her, willingly, now and for all time.

He whispers her name against her throat, savoring the sweet scent of her and the softness of her skin under his touch. He lets hands and lips guide him down, learning the secret places of her body, making her arch and moan beneath him. He can hear her pulse racing and an alien impulse rises within him, a want… a need to taste of her blood, to claim her as his own utterly.

Without his conscious command, the Crusnik nanomachines come to life, lending back that feral wildness to his features, violet eyes now ablaze with passion rather than rage. His fangs press against the pulse that beats wildly at her throat and Esther whispers his name and presses him closer.

It is that final act of absolute trust that destroys and remakes him. In that first taste of her blood upon his tongue, he is as much hers as she is his.

Seven (Lilith)

It is the laughter that catches her attention.

Lilith hasn't heard Abel laugh like that, a sound so free and joyful, in ages. She is walking in her beloved gardens, under a full moon and a clear sky filled with stars. The scent of roses is in the air and she breathes it in deeply – she has always taken much delight in nights like these.

Lilith doesn't see Abel yet but she is quite sure he is with Esther now. The two of them are seldom apart, each quite reluctant to have the other out of sight. It has been ten years since the fairytale wedding of the Prince of the Tzara Methuselute to the Princess of the Kingdom of Albion but their love seems to be as fresh and new as on the day they made their vows.

Abel always did keep his promises.

It was easy to say that Abel and Esther represented the joining together of the two worlds, two peoples – the Methuselahs and the Terrans – in peace and love. That has always been Lilith's dream.

And yet, this dream fades to merest insignificance when Lilith first saw Abel without that perpetual shadow of sadness in his eyes.

Lilith knows herself to be the source of that hidden sorrow. There had been a choice to be made; lives in the balance, an entire world at stake. Lilith had loved Abel, truly. But in the end, she had chosen Cain.

"Of course, you must choose Cain over Abel," Seth had said to her then. "Everyone always has; everyone always will." It was the first time Seth had spoken to her with that bitter edge to her tone. Seth, who had loved Lilith as a mother. Seth, who dearly loved her older brother.

There has always been a delicate balance of power between the Nightlord twins. Cain has always been the outgoing, charismatic one, drawing everyone to him. But Abel, if he chose, had a beguiling charm that was more irresistible than Cain's. Abel may have been feared for his icy temper and his ferocity in battle but every one of the men and women who served under his command would follow him to the ends of the earth if he asked.

Still, in the end, Lilith Sahl had chosen Cain.

It is in her nature to nurture and heal. Abel had needed her but she saw that Cain needed her more. The older twin hid his own discontent and bitterness well, usually letting Abel be the reflection of his own rage. So Lilith reached out to Cain, hoping against hope that he would respond.

And Cain did.

Lilith does not like to think how close Abel came to breaking, caught between his romantic love for her and his brotherly love for his twin. She knows this is the true reason why Abel often traveled away from the Empire, almost losing himself in his endless battles against their enemies. From the moment Lilith made her choice known, Abel had respected it, kept his distance, showed merely brotherly affection.

But she would see his eyes, glimpse the truth in them and always, always, she could not bear to see it.

Lilith wonders why Cain, who perhaps as his twin should know Abel best, seems unaware of his brother's pain. And then, she is selfishly thankful to whatever benevolent power that leaves him blind. To be loved by Cain Nightlord is to be utterly possessed by him and Cain would never tolerate a rival for his affections, even if that rival were to be his own brother.

Lilith cannot unmake her choice.

She can hear Abel's and Esther's voices now, though even with her enhanced hearing, she still cannot yet make out what they are saying. Abel sounds playful and teasing; Esther has that tone of fond exasperation that one could not help but develop within five minutes in his presence.

Lilith knows she must bless Esther for lifting that sorrow from Abel's heart, giving all of them back that gentle, too-sensitive boy they had known and loved from long ago.

Lilith finally sees them but something makes her step back into the shadows. Her knees are strangely weak and she must sit down on one of the marble benches. She can see them clearly now but they do not see her.

Esther has stopped and has reached up a hand to caress her husband's cheek. Her lips move but what she has told him becomes all too obvious as Abel's eyes widen and his hand gently, wonderingly presses against her belly.

The meaning is clear and Lilith is suddenly startled by the burning in her eyes and the sudden tears. She must think of her husband, Cain, who has given her what he has never given to anyone – the keys to his soul, the secrets of his heart – his complete and absolute trust.

In the end, Lilith has chosen Cain and she does, truly, love him.

She knows she must be happy for Abel and Esther. In his exuberance, he sweeps Esther up for a kiss and once again, his laughter rings out in the garden.

And yet, as Lilith watches them both, it seems that icy fingers are slowly, cruelly, wrapping around her heart.

- end -

End Notes: Evil? Who, me? Hey, Sith Lord…er…Lady here!

I've always been fascinated by the "other" Abel – the guy who lurks behind the featherbrain. We don't get a chance to see him often but he's there and he ain't all that nice. I wondered what it might have been to see a world ruled by all of the Nightlords, if Lilith Sahl had just been a little more different, if the choices she made were not quite the same.

And what kind of person would our Abel have been? And of course, what about Esther? And everyone else?

Maybe I'll write more in this universe or in this same theme much later. It's something to think about. Now, back to the Milk Tea Series!

As always, your reviews are much appreciated!