“All this time . . .” All this time she’d been fearful of the Ruby Queen because she knew she couldn’t fight back. She hadn’t the magic for it.
Or so she’d thought.
Lyra held out the gloves and Gwyn took them. She felt numb all over, as though she were nothing more than one of the queen’s tiny marionette dolls. She had a wooden head that was too solid for thought. Strings she didn’t control lifted one hand while her other slid the glove onto it.
The change was instantaneous.
A horrible emptiness the size of a pea nestled itself in the very center of her heart. It grew a little larger with each breath. The gloved hand—her left—was separate in its cocoon of silk. Her right hand touched all the life swirling around them, but her left hand felt nothing.
That’s what was at her center. Nothing.
Unable to bear it any longer, she ripped the glove off. The hole in her heart disappeared before she’d finished drawing her breath.
She looked at Lyra, her mind a tangle of unanswered riddles. “Why?” she asked.
“Only the queen can tell you that,” Lyra said, her face soft with sympathy.
“Did you know?”
Lyra shrugged. “I told you, I only suspected.”
“But you didn’t say anything.” The hole was back, but clawing at a different place in her heart. She’d loved and trusted Lyra like a sister, and—
Lyra took her hand and pressed a blade of grass into it. “When you spin a dream, you know it’s a dream, except for when you don’t. It would have been cruel to promise hope when I wasn’t certain that was mine to give.”
“You should have told me.” Gwyn’s face went hot and her eyes burned with tears she refused to let fall, but they came anyway. She was so stupid. Why hadn’t she seen? She ought to have.
“Nearly every plant begins as a seed, but not every seed becomes a plant. To give you hope when you live there,” Lyra shuddered, “it would have destroyed you if I’d been wrong.”
Gwyn opened her mouth to argue, but the seed of truth in Lyra’s voice stopped her. Her heart didn’t stop hurting, but her anger turned cold and drained out of her.
“I want to stay here.” She’d never had the courage to say that out loud before, and for some reason, that only made the wish weigh heavier.
An unreadable look passed over Lyra’s face so quickly, Gwyn almost thought she’d imagined it. “If I thought you could come, I would have stolen you away from that horrible queen long ago. But I can’t. You’re bound to the Garden with a binding more powerful than I could ever hope to break.”
. . . TO BE CONTINUED . . .
© 2015 by Danyelle Leafty. All rights reserved.
The problem with unasked questions is that they so very often go on to become unanswered riddles. Also, true friends–the kind you can rely on to tell you the truth and to keep your hope burning true–are as rare as purple unicorns, and should be cherished. 🙂
Join me next Tuesday as the binding asserts itself. And though Gwyn isn’t strong enough to break it–yet!–neither is she as powerless as she was before.
If this is your first time visiting, check out the first installment of this episode. Feel free to gather round the hearth and read the other stories that are going on too. The more the merrier!
If you like, feel free to join me tomorrow as we follow the adventures of a certain Queen of the Nearly Dead Fae in training. 🙂