Author's Note: For those of you who have not read The Demon's Lexicon, I recommend you do immediately. It's an amazing book, and I personally loved it. Of course, all credit for this one-shot goes to Sarah Rees Brennan, the fantastic author of this series. The characters nor the setting do not belong to me at all; they are hers, I have merely rented them for a brief period of time.
This one-shot sort of takes place after Mae and Jaime get home after the entire fiasco. Warning—there may be a bit of spoilers inside, so don't read if you don't want to ruin the book.
"Yeah, Mom, I dyed my hair pink." Are you colorblind or something? Can you not see the pinkness from the roots of my hair, down to the tips? Oh, the things I want to tell you, but can't. You're way behind the times. I got it done months ago, when I was hanging at dad's.
"What brought this on?"
I don't speak. What am I going to say to you—that it was you, who told me I wasn't girly enough, so I did it as a statement that I can have a girly color? Even though I hat pink, even though I'm a feminist and a gypsy at heart and I believe in music and bangles and New World religions and—
"Well, if you don't want to explain, you can go to your room, young lady."
Oh, the things you don't understand.
You never cared, Mom, never. You just wanted me to be the perfect little rich daughter, get a perfectly mediocre education, and marry the perfect little rich man. Actually, you never really wanted me to be born.
I get that. You know what I hate you for? Making the same mistake twice.
Yeah, Jamie. I'm pissed because of Jamie. What in the world possessed you to have another child?
I love Jamie. I love him enough to give my life for him. That's the problem, Mom, you never loved him. You never loved any of us. You loved yourself, and you liked to show us off to your rich friends when we were the perfect children, but you never wanted to have to deal with us.
So I became Jamie's surrogate mother. And I've gone through hell to keep him alive.
When I stand here before you again, I am reminded of the first time you saw me with pink hair—the shock, the disgust, the hatred that flashed through your eyes before you could cover it up with that emotionless mask of yours. You berated me with a cool discontent in your voice, then sent me to my room, like I wasn't worth your time anymore.
It's with the same cold dismissal that you're looking at us now.
I want to scream, What the hell is wrong with you, woman? You're supposed to care about us. You're supposed to worry when we nearly die.
But, of course, to you, we haven't nearly died. We just ran away on a pleasure trip to London.
"Where have you been?"
I don't answer you. It's not an act of defiance as much as one of respect. I know I can't open my mouth without screaming at you, and beside me, Jamie senses it too. He opens his mouth to speak for us, and instantly, I'm overcome with guilt. He should never have to speak for me, never have to protect me. I'm the one who's supposed to protect him.
Actually, you're the one who's supposed to protect him, but you never did that particularly well. You never cared.
"London. Some of Mae's friends were at this music and arts conference, and they had some extra tickets. Mae figured it would be a nice experience, broaden our horizons." His voice shakes a little at the end, when you turn your glare on him, and once again, I want to scream at you. You're supposed to be our mother, for God's sake. We shouldn't have to lie to you.
I don't want to lie to you. I don't want to hold it in anymore.
I killed a man, Mom. I thrust the knife underneath his ribs, and his heart stopped, and I used the blood to save my brother. I killed a man.
And the blood wasn't pink, it was red. It was a furious crimson, that could not be diluted by anything. Even as it spread across the floor, it remained a steady, thick red.
Sometimes I wonder how much I remember is real, and how much is just the nightmares.
"Mae, you're grounded for a month!"
I should be sentenced for life. I'm a murderer.
I nod abruptly, and move past you towards my room. I can't stand being in your presence any longer. You…you disgust me. You and your self-righteous ideals, your uncaring decisions, your hypocritical actions. I want nothing more to do with you.
Yet as I pass, I could swear I hear you whisper, "Thank you."
I stop to stare at you, and sure enough, you blush. Not a lot, but your cheeks tinge pink. Not red, but soft, delicate pink.
I raise one eyebrow.
"For keeping him safe."
I nod perfunctorily, then make my way past you.
The unsaid meaning is just as clear: when I could not.
And somehow, I feel a bit better.