down all your darkest roads
I would have followed all the way
to the graveyard.”
He is again the last thing she saw, and she knows – hopes – that he will again be the first thing. He had touched her cheek before she left, with a promise of returning. He had to have known she would cling to that, and despite everything that tells her not to, she trusts him. She trusts him in the most obscure, intangible way possible – in a way that she couldn't describe if she wanted.
It is different this time, though. Different because the sockets do not have a chance to heal, different because somehow this dark seems infinitely darker. The skin that edges the rocks remain irritated, constantly burning, and throbbing. It did not help that the rocks occasionally morphed; to ruby or emerald, onyx and marble. With every change, it sent a sharp, shooting pain clear down her spine, the kind that made her grit her teeth.
She used to heal it when the pain became too much until she realized without the pain of that, it left an opening for an entirely different kind of pain. That without the ache of her injuries all she could focus on was what had happened in Hyaline. She hated how every night it was Atrox's voice that haunted her; she hated that she could not stop replaying everything that had happened, that it made pretending to be okay sleeping next to Illum impossible.
She cannot recall the last time she was so entirely broken that not even reckless romance was enough to distract her.
After the birth of the twins she began to steal away for more and more moments of solitude. She always returned to Taiga, and was never gone for days at a time, but it was not uncommon for her to disappear for hours in the day. She was thankful that Illum was an attentive father; that she did not have to worry about their girls, though anyone that has ever met her would know that wouldn't stop her.
She was too good at running away from things to stop now. Not once she finally had something to actually run from, even if every part of her wants to run back towards it, back to Hyaline, back to him.
The day is lingering into evening, and she only knows because she can feel the way the temperature drops. It had been an unusually warm spring day, and she is standing on a familiar knoll. She knows, without having to see, that the horizon would be beginning to pale. That the sun was low, that beginning of a sunset was promised in the sky. The cool air causes her to tremble, and she brings her pale wings closer to her sides.
It's the sound of footfalls nearby that causes her to turn her head (a habit that she never broke, not even the last time), the wind stirring the pristine white of her forelock to reveal a single piece of obsidian where an eye should have been. She does not say anything, but lets the silence hang between herself and the stranger, letting them decide if they will fill it.