Author's Notes: "Arcana" was my submission for the "In the Closet Contest." It won second place for femslash in the judges voting. To see other entries, check out the ItC profile at bit(dot)ly/intheclosetcontest.
1. hidden, secret, private
2. intimate, personal, confidential
01. BLINDING LIGHT
She is light—so pure, that sometimes I feel I must shade my eyes from her brightness. Wherever her leather-sandaled feet venture, shadows flee, and laughter reigns. Her heart, still though it may be beneath her breast, sees only goodness, for she is only goodness in this den of vampire thieves and hungry lion men.
My husband Aro knows of my feelings. How can he not, when his every touch unveils to him my history, my every thought? There are no secrets between my mate and me. He does not hide his anger over my inexplicable desire for his sister, though he is also aware that my infatuation is beyond my control; it is perhaps this fact that annoys him most. I imagine that his gift often confronts him with love and lust for his much happier sibling.
In the close confines of Velathri, where we live and rule together, I try to ignore Didyme for the sake of my bond with Aro. She is Marcus' wife, I tell myself. She is kind and good to everyone. Her laughter and smiles to you mean nothing.
But in the depths of my heart, they mean everything. I greedily watch and wait for them, and each time she smiles at me, something inside my spirit grows. I know it to be love, as much as lust. Didyme has taught me that one can fervently love multiple souls at the same time.
When my husband touches me, whether with the tender hands of a man or the clenching fingers of a vampire ruler, I am in love with him, my eyes only for him. And yet, as soon as his fingers release me, it is Didyme I see—her long black hair, which she plaits into braids; the sky blue dresses she wears; the way her hips move as she dances with her husband beneath a harvest moon.
Sometimes I convince myself that she returns my feelings, that I see her staring at me from across the room while her hand is enfolded in Marcus'. Even if this is the case, what might come of it? Though vampire mating is eternal and unbreakable, it is not unusual for our kind to have other meaningful relationships. Would this be something she might desire? Would Marcus allow it? Would Aro?
For now, I desire from a distance, craving her light like a wildflower reaching for the sun.
Cali, the name I've used for Sulpicia/Aro's surname, is an Italian family name of Greek origins. It comes from a Greek word meaning "beautiful," and one site suggests that "the first bearer was a man of exceptional beauty." He must have been a vampire, of course.