I don't own the Seven Realms Series.

-o-o-o-o-o-R-o-o-o-o-o-

It wasn't fair.

A child-like statement, something spoken with a pout and stiffly crossed arms. It isn't fair, Mommy! He took my cookie!

If you were young, it was usually answered with a sigh, a reprimand, and another cookie. The bitter irony was that it was so hard to appreciate such a second chance, being so immature. But the older you were, the more serious the solution seemed to be, and the fewer options you seemed to have. Consequences built up like salt encrusting a wound.

When there was no second chance, the old proverb was dealt out with a cutting edge.

Life isn't fair. Deal with it. Many times, he'd have been the one to say it.

(not fair)

(not right)

(not ready)

Han wasn't prepared. Growing up on the streets hardened you, made you expect anything and everything. And he did.

(that wasn't the problem)

Fighting was an instinct to Han, only second to talking his way out of things. He had so many masks; keeping track of them all was confusing for him. But Han managed. He always did. When you're not given a choice, you have to.

But this time, it wasn't about anything.

It was about magic.

(deception, cold and high)

Han had never had much experience with it; sorcery was beyond him. A higher power, a higher calling. A street rat like him, casting curses and bleeding sparks? Han would have laughed at such idiocy awhile ago.

(lights flickering)

And then everything changed. No. That wasn't it.

Everything burned.

(one more question to keep)

His family wasn't in ruins. No. They were dead, through his mistakes, his stupid fascination and blatant carelessness. Han could only pray they were still whole up above, draped in white with halos of sunlight. Perhaps Mari could finally be the little girl she'd never had the chance to be.

(a second chanceā€¦or just an end)

Han could picture his mother at peace. It was difficult, but if he squinted, he could see a faint trace of her smile. So rare and precious. Han treasured the image, even if it wasn't real.

(dreaming days fulfilled)

Hope was both his salvation and his damnation. So hard to give, but so easy to lose.

If his family's passing weren't enough, fate had a 'blessing' to force upon him.

Some damn blessing.

All he had now was a gift he couldn't control, guilt and sorrow, and a warped destiny. And he wasn't sure of anything anymore: who to trust, where to go, what to believe. Though they were ordinary questions, they were hard to answer.

(where your loyalties lie)

Where did you go when your life was a lie? How was he supposed to know that the silver cuffs on his wrists were shackles? That he would be offered a choice that backhanded him: to stay imprisoned from magic forever, or to fight for the very people who had chained him since birth?

Han never wanted to be controlled in any way, even if the cuffs just restrained his natural magic. He'd never needed magic before, and he could survive fine without it. But Han needed to be free, of anything that had a hold on him. And if that meant making a deal to the death, so be it.

He didn't have anything to hold him down anymore.

(and it's killing him)

Han Alister wasn't hoping for a second chance. Not anymore.

(green and gold haze)

Nor was he wishing for an easy way out; though even death had to hold some relief.

(better times, better days)

He owed it to his mother and Mari to fight for what he had, shattered as it was.

(and what's worth waiting for?)

He was hoping for a little bit of hope.

-o-o-o-o-o-R-o-o-o-o-o-

The next book comes out in 14 days, I believe, so I thought I'd celebrate with an angsty oneshot. This category doesn't have enough Fanfiction as it is.