It’s like drowning. Pulling water into her lungs with every desperate attempt at an inhale and cold right down to her bones, freezing her from the inside out.
She shouldn’t be doing this.
But it’s just one last time.
She lingers in the basement of her house like a ghost, like the same ghost who lingers on the stairs and watches and doesn’t bother to tell her that this is a mistake. He doesn’t need to. She already knows that it is, that she’s broken enough. She faces the wall where the runes are inscribed, lingering there, scorched into the stone. Her hand raises slowly and she moves her wrist to her lips, sinking her teeth into flesh and tearing, not even wincing as she breaks the skin – though strangely, for once it hurts. She trembles for a moment, flexing her fingertips as the blood trails downward into the centre of her palm and rolling from her fingertips, dripping onto the floor below.
One last time.
I want to see him one last time. I need to. So I can move on. So I can be happy. Be brave.
She raised that hand, prepared to smudge her bloodied palm against the wall when she heard it. That lullaby, the french accent dripping with ice. As if every hair stood up on the back of her neck, she clenched her hand into a fist and turned on her heel where the spirit stood.
Her mother was a sight like always, living up to her name; long dark hair and bright blue eyes, swathed in silks and barefoot, her poise regal and as old as she was. Her hands were clasped together as her lips tugged up in a cruel smile, no hint of love in those hues. The Empress. A force to be reckoned with. And she was back?
“Mother.” Kaede murmured, her hands nervously tugging at her skirt. She shouldn’t be here. Not here. Suddenly, she felt very, very unsafe. Empress slowly closed in like a lioness stalking her prey, circling around the little telepath. She waited until she was close, her presence suffocating like a dark cloud before leaning in, her voice barely above a whisper.
“It’s good to be back, Anastasia.”