Disclaimer: Wicked Lovely is all Melissa Marr. Despite wishing that it was mine.
The words get lodged in her throat and her tongue sticks to the roof of her mouth. The silence gets deafening and she envies the careless elegance of the dance of the Summer Girls; the way they twirl and sway in dizzying circles to the ever present music. She wished she'd picked differently; loved him a little less. But she cannot change her destiny; it's too late to turn back.
The steady chill pierces her until it's like shards of glass in her veins, beneath the skin that once glowed so brightly with the sunlight, the sunshine—him.
Despite standing mere feet away, Keenan seems not to notice her. She stands there and grips the wooden staff tightly in her hands as she waits for her body, once frail and weak, to grow accustomed to the chill.
She stands there and shivers, and he stares unblinkingly at a spot behind her head.
Finally, he closes his eyes and turns on his heel.
She wants to call after him, beg him to stay. But she can't.
She chose this. She deserves it. She deserves the chill, the endless, almost unbearable chill that comes with Beira's curse. The chill that wraps around her, soon to become her only companion until the next girl, so foolish in her love, takes the staff—or becomes the Summer Queen.
Donia knows better than to hope for the latter, so she sits in her cottage with Sasha and hopes that someone comes along soon. Someone who cannot resist the allure of Keenan's love, his sunshine, his passion and his promise.
Someone like her.
She is torn between wanting Aislinn to be the Summer Queen—she loves Keenan, after all, and giving him up after trying so hard would probably kill her—and wanting Aislinn to be the Winter Queen's chill's next bearer—she wants to live, to be free.
So she does what she is to do, and tells Aislinn not to throw it all away for a folly of a love. It's futile; once Aislinn's been picked, there is nothing Donia can do to stop the course of action.
"Love is a fickle little thing, Sasha," she whispers, toying idly with the wolf's fur. "You either give in to it, or it consumes you.
"Or you, like me, give in and get consumed."
She tries to remember being mortal, like Aislinn, only not like Aislinn; without the Sight and without hesitation. She fails.
There is nothing there but an eternity of Keenan. Of copper hair, and burning kisses, searing touches and being drunk on sunshine.
She thinks it's funny, in the end, that all she wanted was to be mortal again. (But when it boils down, she just wants Keenan back.)
She resents the beautiful girl, who once upon a time danced the night away to music no one else but she and her sunshine-boy heard, who dared to turn her cheek to the sunshine, who dared to love.
She resents how easily that girl once laughed, and once imagined a future where was his Queen and he, her King.
She wishes that stupid, stupid, stupid girl; that stupid, stupid, stupid Donia would just grow up.
She hates every girl to come after her—like Eliza, with her golden plaits and charming smile, who follows Keenan without falter and draws his sunshine out of hiding again.
But hating Aislinn is almost impossible; the girl sees, really sees, what Keenan is and she makes the choice. The choice Donia hadn't considered. She makes the choice to be free.
She cannot hate Aislinn, who doesn't know it yet, but will command the sunlight and bring the sparkle back into Keenan's eyes.
She doesn't know it yet, but she cannot hate the one who brings her back her life.
She puts the staff under the tree, and thinks, finally, that this might just be it. It's all over for her, either way.
Either Aislinn is the one, and she and Keenan rule the Summer Court, then Beira kills Donia—at least the suffering will be over—or she isn't and she becomes the next one, the next girl who felt too much and is put to bear the chill until the next one comes along.
Aislinn takes the staff and Donia's eyes slide closed.
The fey all know that Aislinn is the one, every single face in the crowd sees nothing but their new queen, the one who will set them all free.
And maybe, somewhere, Donia knows it too.
That's why she runs.
Beira's anger is her familiar, and she almost shocks herself when the tension in her body simply melts away as Beira's foot connects with her face.
Like loving Keenan, only less gory.
Inches from death—but not death, just a shade ... a shade of the old her, a seemingly ill placed tint of some white or some black, something in the middle, being but only so—she sees his face, the tears that freeze and melt on his lashes before rolling down his cheeks.
She thinks that even in grief he is an angry sort of beautiful, almost too real, too rough and too exotic to truly experience.
But why should he be saddened?
"Don't cry, Keenan," she tries to whisper, but the ice has frozen her voice but not yet her heart and the words hurt where they can't free themselves from her soul.
She eyes close around the image of Aislinn and Keenan and she thinks that maybe the fey will be a happy sort of people after she's gone.
She doesn't think they'll save her, not her—maybe Seth. His (mortal) life is worth more anyways.
She opens her eyes, and she suddenly, blindingly and entirely, knows why she is still alive. The chill is still inside her, apart of her, and is now all of her. She is nothing but cold, but it's a familiar kind of cold and a kind of cold she greets like an old friend.
Beira's time has passed. A new Winter Queen must step forth.
She listens to the hag as she says the words that seal Donia's fate. And this time, when the choices are laid bare in front of her, she picks the right one. She takes the staff again, the staff that wouldn't have fit Aislinn anyways—too crude and used, and touched and tainted to ever belong in Aislinn's warm grip; to ever belong in any grip but hers, Donia's.
It's always been her. Always.
She brushes her silvery curtain of hair from her face and stands. She moves to Beira's body and finally, finally draws the cold into her.
It feels like home. A glorious, welcoming sort of home.
It makes her senses feel alive and within an instant she knows this is finally why she was picked, centuries ago.
So much more than a Summer Girl, but not exactly a Summer Queen. Useful, somehow, in her quiet dignity.
She doesn't expect Aislinn to continue to break the rules, long after the game is over, but she does. She chooses the mortal over Keenan.
She chooses Seth, with his steel walls and steel bars and the ink marring his skin, over Keenan, the sun hitting the river where she first dances, truly dances, perfectly and casting that glow of perfect.
Aislinn is handed the sunset, sunrise and sunshine all in one, and turns it down for a mere mortal who is too lowly to even deserve a metaphor.
(She'd given him one from ages ago, anyways, and) it fits him perfectly; steel.
Seth is like steel, a strange sort of comfort in the revelry that he was untouchable yet totally ordinary. He was raw, and rough around the edges.
She remembers his touch, nothing short of platonic, but a touch nonetheless. Mind you, a simple kiss on the back of her hand. But he touched her, like none of the fey—except him, he was always that exception, Keenan—had dared.
"He loves you, you know."
She almost falls to her knees when Aislinn tells her, drawing for the chill to keep herself upright. She breathes out a little puff of air, tinged with the chill, snowflakes floating delicately to join the thin film on the floor.
She doesn't thing that she and Keenan can ever be, not after everything.
But they can.
And like fire and ice, they combine explosively.
And, maybe, in the end, she's not so consumed after all.
It's sort of reckless and foolish and a little bit scary, but in the end it's all Donia.
I'm not back. Not really. This is just a peace offering of sorts. It's a sort of, 'remember me when I'm away' kind of thing. It's September 29th, and "Tropical Storm" Nicole has been developing over Jamaica, turning into a full-fledged hurricane. I started 'Wicked Lovely' by Melissa Marr at 3:38am by flashlight, and finished little after 8:00pm. I wrote this on the 40 minutes worth of battery I found on my laptop when I booted up. Didn't check it once. So, you won't get this until sometime in October, the latest, because, really, the system out here sucks; we won't have electricity until Saturday, the earliest, they say—despite the storm being said to be loooong gone by tomorrow afternoon. (Edit: Oct. 10th: so we got back electricity, but really, I couldn't bear it. Not til now. Plus, my laptop's being a little piece of cow dung ... So, this is it. Here you go.)
Now, the proper Author's Note:
I read the book Wicked Lovely. And I sort of felt Donia, above even Aislinn or Keenan. Or even Beira. Donia. She shone in that hopelessly broken sort of way. I loved it. Perhaps writing one for Beira too, if my battery—and uninhibited mind—let me.