"Rest your weary heart…"
There was dead silence in the atrium. It was broken after a moment by hurried footsteps. Chelsea appeared, sandy locks dangling over her eyes, her pale face an ashy white. She hovered over to the side of her master, glancing nervously from his stricken face to Aro's. "My lord, I—I am sorry. I tried to—"
"Chelsei," her master interrupted. It was a very old name. Not the one she was known by. His intonation of the word brought back to her memories of different countries, different tongues. Salty-sweet memories, with seashells ripening in Grecian waters.
His voice shook, but it rang with authority. She drew back, and the shadows swallowed her.
Another voice spoke then, shaking just as much as his.
"Amata…" Didyme breathed. Beloved.
Marcus looked as if he were about to fall. Didyme's hands stretched out, her voice cracking painfully. "My love?"
Their hands met; or rather, her hands embraced his, pulling his stricken body closer. The imposing vampire crumpled, losing several feet in height as he melted into his wife's body, his head falling gently against her shoulder. A soft, yet heart-wrenching sound filled the atrium.
"Don't cry, my love," she whispered into his hair. "Please, please don't cry—"
"Didyme," he rasped.
"I'm here, my love, my dearest. I'm here."
Aro watched them silently, saying nothing. His face seemed to be closing up on itself. Demetri gave him a respectful, yet fleeting glance.
Aro cleared his throat. An unnecessary action. "Demetri…"
The curly-haired vampire sidled closer. "Yes, Master?"
"The chambers… in the left wing. Tidy them up for your mistress."
"The left wing?" Demetri hesitated, trying to be polite, discreet, and questioning all at once. "They are not suitable."
"Then I suggest you make them so. Need I repeat myself?"
"No, Master. It shall be done. At once." Demetri bowed, exiting the atrium's doors in a confused whirl of thought. He thanked the heavens for this task. One more second, and the Master would surely have asked for his hand, divining his most recent thoughts of Mistress Didyme.
God's blood, but can I help it? he thought desperately. He found two lesser coven members, and the three of them quickly set about restoring the chambers so dear to their third master's heart.
Aro stood for a long time in the atrium. He never moved, even when the light from above faded, changing the shades in his hair from burnt umber to deepest black. The door creaked gently behind him, but he paid no mind. The nervous coven member flitted about the room, lighting its candles before leaving just as quickly, her hair a bright whiplash in the darkness.
Aro then did something quite unconventional.
He sat down, in the center of the floor, where the red and white marble met in a star-shaped design. It was not meant to be shaped thus. The bloody fool aiding them with its structure had miscalculated his measurements, leading to a desperate design to make all the pieces come together smoothly. Which led to his unfortunate demise.
It was very beautiful, though. Genuine stars twinkled in the glass of ceiling, trying to send more of their pure light through. But only candlelight prevailed, and Aro could care less about the beauty of the atrium. It could all burn up… and him with it.
He ran rough fingers through his hair. His eyes, devoid of crimson, barely reflected the candlelight.
Such a fool. Such a bloody, damn, thoughtless, old fool.
Why hadn't he conceived this, her return? Thought of it, even? Where was his precious control now; his knowledge of what to do and when?
Why in heaven's name has she returned to me?!
He looked up suddenly, startled to see a figure standing in the doorway. The scent of flowers reached his nostrils. He panicked for a moment, shifting as if to rise to his feet, when he took another moment to inhale the faint scent. It was not her.
"Darling," he breathed. "What are you doing here?"
He could feel her smile, even without looking. "My dearest Aro. Surely I am the one to be asking you that?"
"Don't talk back to me." His tone was more jesting than firm. He felt weakened, suddenly, feeling his long years. "Why have you left your chambers?"
"Corin is not far," she hummed. Her delicate hands fluttered. "And my duty lies with the one before me, not languishing on a pile of velvet cushions."
The tension pulled a little tighter, until finally he broke. "Come to me."
She came, nestling into him like a sleek, expensive cat.
"Talk to me," she whispered.
"There is nothing to tell."
"You are a bad liar, my dark one."
"On the contrary, I am an excellent liar."
"Not to me. You can hide nothing from me."
His groan was very soft, but she heard it easily. Her hands smoothed a familiar path down his cheek, lingering on his jaw. "Boreíte na mou peíte…"
"Óchi," he breathed, reverting to her favorite tongue. He lowered his head briefly to embrace her mouth."Giatí écho kánei polý kakó." ("No, I have done much evil.")
"Kardiá mou. My heart." She kissed the shadow beneath his left earlobe. "We are evil by nature. You have always known this. What's done is done."
"The past is repeating itself," he said. "She has come back."
"Who, my heart?"
He told her, not knowing what to expect.
She exhibited no shock, merely quiet surprise. Somehow, this had the effect of calming him. He let her run her fingers through his hair, with much more gentleness than he had done previously. She let the silence soothe him before speaking.
"'The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.'"
"Socrates," he murmured.
She laughed softly. "This is not a guessing game, darling. Did you hear what I said?"
"Yes… You are saying I cannot know what the future holds."
"I am also saying that you should be patient. Rest your weary heart, and wait awhile."
He looked up from where his head leaned on her shoulder. "Love…"
"I am sorry I failed you."
Her beautiful eyes faltered. "You have failed me? How?"
"By depriving you of a sister—"
She waved his words aside. "No, Aro. I refuse to think of it that way."
"I despise myself…" he said softly.
He toyed with a bit of lace on her dress. It reminded her of days gone by, when she imagined tinier hands doing the same. She spoke again, and her voice was even gentler. "Aro, these are unkind thoughts. They do you an injustice."
She paused, listening to the sound of his tears gathering. Bleeding her dead heart dry.
"It tortures me," he said. "It tortures me, 'Picia."
She took a deep breath. "Find a way to make it right. Then you will find relief."
She smiled, and it was the smile he had fallen in love with.
"Find a way to make it right," she whispered, dropping her dark head to rest against his.
I am so sorry for the delay, my dears. Blame it on stress and crippling writer's block. But I have a strong urge to write again, and have come up with quite a few ideas. Please review! It means the world to me. :)