Alone in the Shadows

I know I should be able to understand it all. After all how can you expect someone to wait on you? One year? Five years? Ten years if you are the luckiest bastard in the world.

But it has to have been almost fifteen years since I saw him last. I guess I shouldn't have been upset when I saw the ring on his mantel, but it was like a knife found its way into my heart.

Just because I haven't been the most lucky when I comes to love, I had always assumed that so was He. But apparently not, he found Susan alright, hell he even proposed to her.

Long story short, he has moved on and I have not. Ain't life great?

I brought this all on myself, and I've realized and accepted that. It was my choice to run away from the fire that killed Justin, it was my choice to run from the White Council…And it was my choice to leave Harry to think that I was dead.

Did I expect a warm welcome when I showed up out of the blue after damn near twenty years; no I hadn't. But I held onto the faintest glimmer of that very possibility.

A cold tear ran down my cheek as I continued to make my along the well trodden path of Faerie. This place was so familiar to me; I've spent a lot of time here; trying to get up the nerve to go see him, if only for a moment. But I've never been able to gather the courage to do it.

I wiped the tear away before it could fall to the ground. I'm not one to dwell on old emotions and painful ones at that, but this just hit below the belt. I told him to move on, hoping that he would see what stood in front of him. I didn't have to come back; it would have been easier if I didn't, but in my own guarded way I put myself out there; and nothing.

I shouldn't have gotten my hopes of.

Again, I was alone, just me and the Summer forest. Even my footsteps made a defeated crunch in the grass.

I hate feeling this way, it makes me feel weak, it makes me feel hopeless, and worst of all it makes me feel too human. I don't want to be weak anymore, that's why I force myself to be completely nonchalant. The only time I ever allow my façade to break is when I know I'm alone.

"I'm alone now." I muttered, meaning it in every conceivable way.

I wandered aimlessly off the path desperately searching for some place to sit and cry. Not to wallow in self pity, just a spot where I could cry it all out and move on.

It didn't take long, because tonight I just wasn't that choosy on where to be alone. I figured that there aren't going to be many people or sentient beings at this time of night. I know it's a risk, but right now it's a risk I'm willing to take.

I set my staff down, slumping heavily against a moss-covered tree, and just let the tears fall.

I stayed there and cried like a baby for what had to be at least an hour. When I was finally finished and wiped the last tear from my cheek, I felt worst than before. My eyes burned, my head pounded, my mouth was dry, and my heart still hurt.

"I thought I heard someone over here." A soft voice said coming closer to me.

"Sorry," I murmured wiping another tear from the corner of my eye, "I didn't think anyone else was around."

"It's okay, really." The voice said walking into the dimly lit circle around me. "I was just passing through, I'm sorry to have bothered you."

The dim figure skirted the edges of my vision, quickly walking away.

"Wait," I called quietly into the darkness, "Don't go." It came out more of a question than a statement.

The quiet rustling of footsteps on grass stopped, "I was kinda hoping you would say that." With that the kind voice walked closer to me, before finally taking a seat next to me. Her words were filled almost completely with relief, like she needed someone to talk to.

"I'm Elaine," I offered hesitantly.

"Nice to meet you, I'm Lily." She said warmly offering her hand to me.

"Of course you are. Figures I'd run into the new Summer Lady tonight." I said a little more sharply than I intended.

"If you don't want me to stay now…I'll…I'll understand." Lily said shifting her weight to get up.

"I'm sorry," I said quickly, "I didn't mean it like that."

"Oh, what did you mean then?" She asked in a hushed voice, sounding like she was on the verge of her own tears.

"I…I don't know…less bitter. I don't hold anything against you, but Aurora was a very dear friend…and" I trailed off as I felt a new set of tears fill my eyes.

"It's okay," she said kindly, placing a reassuring hand on my knee. "You don't have to explain anything."

"But I do." I said gently placing my hand on top of hers. "This week's just been a little too much to handle." I looked away again, watching the moon come over the tops of the great trees. Desperately trying not to start crying.

"I know what that feels like." Lily began turning her hand over, bringing her palm to mine. "A week ago I was wondering what Choice I should make, I'd never been to Faerie, and life wasn't really that complicated. And now…"

"You're the new Summer Lady, and now your life's really complicated." I said interrupting her still facing away from her. And with that simple sentence, my walls were back up.

"Yes," she replied even softer than before, lowering her head.

I never looked away from the moon, but I soon found myself interlocking my fingers into hers. We sat there for a long while completely still; I slowly turned my head away from rising moon looking down at the shorter woman sitting next to me.

Her head was still lowered eyes unfocused on the grass beneath her; I could see where the tears had trailed down her cheek. They probably matched my own.

To her credit Lily hadn't made a sound this entire time, and judging by the tears that continued to fall from her eyes she'd have reason to. My heart sank a little watching how much pain she was in, and knowing that it was somewhat my fault.

Instinctively I removed my hand from hers, eliciting a small whimper of protest, but it didn't last long, especially when I wrapped the same arm around her narrow shoulders.

Without ever looking up; the smaller form folded neatly into my side, leaning her head against my shoulder. "You'll get through this." I whispered into her ear.

The younger girl snaked her arms around me, pulling me closer as she began to sob. Here I came here to cry myself and I end up comforting a creature with more power than I can even dream of.

She continued to sob for another ten minutes, but eventually they lightened up, so too did her death grip around my ribs. I kept a tight grip around her shoulders, drawing her closer to me as I closed my eyes. One of her hands found my free hand and interlocked her fingers in mine.

I smiled a little at the contact; it felt good to be this close to another person again, even if the other person in this instance was Fae royalty.

Another ten minutes passed, quickly this time. Lily shifted from my side into sitting position leaving her hand in mine, but releasing her other arm from my back. I slid my arm down from her shoulders to her back.

"I'm sorry." Lily said, breaking the silence around us.

I gave a rueful half giggle, looking down at her "For what, you haven't done anything to me."

"I know…but…I feel like this all started because of me…" Lily said, hiding her face behind her snow white hair.

"Lily, what Aurora did to you, to her mother, to everyone, that's not your responsibility. You didn't ask for it, and you didn't want it." I whispered, brushing some of the hair out of her face.

"If it wasn't for me then Aurora…"

"Would have found someone else." I said cutting her off, trying to reassure her, and through her reassure myself. "She used both of us for her own gain."

"You too?" She breathed; looking up at me, eyes glistening with tears.

"I wouldn't have done any of what I did…but…I didn't have much of a choice." I replied tightening my grip on her hand.

"How many did you owe her?" Lilly asked, shutting her eyes again.

"More than I'd like to remember." I replied, looking back up the starry sky.

"So now that I'm the new Lady does that mean you owe me the favors?" She asked cracking a smile for the first time.

"I don't know," I shrugged, "I wouldn't think so." I kept my voice cool and nonchalant, looks like the old me is back again.

She giggled again, it sounded sweet and innocent. I don't remember Aurora's being like that in all the time I knew her. "Well, we can try. I order you to slap yourself."

I slapped myself; not because I had to, but to make Lily feel better. I guess sometimes I don't have to be selfish.

Lily gave another short giggle, "Thanks…I think I'm better now."

"You're welcome, Lily." I said giving her an around the shoulder hug. She hugged back, burying her head in my neck. A moment later she pulled back, lingering for just a moment; before settling in next to me.

Another silence settled around us, this one was much more comfortable than the others. I stared back at the moon which had continued to climb up into the heavens while unfamiliar constellations danced around it. Lily's head turned upwards as well, but I could sense that her gaze wasn't resting on the moon like mine.

It was resting on me. Her clear eyes were staring directly at mine.

I turned away from the white light of moon and looked down at the white haired girl. Her eyes were a torrent of emotion. Fear mixed with regret, regret mixed with excitement, excitement mixed with yearning. For what? The other emotions I could understand, the fear, the regret, even the excitement, but I couldn't understand the want, the desire, and the longing in her eyes.

She ripped her eyes away from mine before I could truly register what was going on. Lily's eyes where once again glued to the ground, and my eyes were glued to her face. Even in the silvery light cast from the moon there was a slight red tinge to her cheeks.

Once again I moved my eyes back to the moon, and again I felt Lily's gaze burning into my face. Again I looked down at her and again her eyes made a nose dive to the ground.

I repeated the process once more to make sure I wasn't imagining things, when it happened again my confusion came straight to the forefront. Not just confused at what Lily was doing, but also why I cared why she was doing it. Most of all I was confused as to why I was completely comfortable around her.

Twenty minutes ago I was sure it was almost a big sister/little sister thing…but now…now it's something else. Just something that I can in no way put my finger on.

It's almost romantic…but that can't be right. Less than an hour ago I sat down here to grieve for Harry…No; I'm transferring my feelings for Harry to Lily. That's it, it has to be.

And strangely that realization didn't make me feel better or any differently. I still felt deeply attracted to the new Summer Lady. Did I feel this way about Aurora?

No of course not, she was friend; a very good friend, but nothing more. And when I was around her, it felt nothing like this.

This last time I looked down at Lily I kept my gaze locked on her delicate features masked behind her silver hair that fell to the side of her face. An unconscious smile tugged at the sides of my mouth.

"Does my breath smell?" I joked, squeezing the hand I'd forgotten I was still holding.

"No…" she started shyly "why…why would you think that?" Lily shifted her head so that her hair completely hid her face from me.

"Because every time I look up you do, and every time look down at you, you look straight down to the ground." I said matter-of-factly, letting my nonchalance carry me through what would otherwise be an awkward conversation.

"You noticed?" Lily said dejectedly more of a question than a statement. "Are you upset?"

"Why would I be upset?" I asked gently tilting her face to meet mine.

"Because I think…that…that you're…beautiful…I can't stop looking at you…and I didn't want you to know." She tried looking away, but didn't resist when my hand held firm.

"What if I said that I…thought the same?" I offered feeling my shell begin to crack.

Instantly her eyes lit up like a child's on Christmas, but she said nothing. Her free arm reached up and gently cupped my face with surety that I hadn't yet seen from her. I mirrored her actions, brushing some hair away from her cheek.

She looked longingly into my eyes, the fear and the regret had melted from her cool eyes. There was only excitement and yearning left in them when her lips brushed against mine in a tender kiss.

A/N: Don't worry; I haven't abandoned Someone by my Side. I just had this idea and needed to get it out. Now I'm going back to work on Someone by my Side. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed.