Wednesday, April 10, 2013

1.24 - A Time for Celebrations

 “Today is the day,” Illdrid said while embracing her sister. “James is waiting for me. I’ll just drop my things off and meet you at the chapel.”

 Shae nodded solemnly. It felt like she had swallowed a jar of bees. “Are we doing the right thing?” she asked, her voice barely a whisper.

 Illdrid chuckled. “Of course, we are. No regrets, dear sister. We have come full circle and are back with the men that we fell in love with. They might not have always been worthy of that love, but we are now older and wiser and prepared to fully enjoy the remainder of our lives. How are the children taking it?”

 Shae smiled. “Aoife is, of course, thrilled that I’m finally marrying her father. The twins seem more wrapped up in their own love lives. But they’ve expressed how happy they are that I’m happy. So I guess that’s all that matters."

When Shae arrived at the chapel, Derek was already inside, leaning against a wall. His arms were crossed over his chest. He smiled when he looked and saw her, but there was something solemn about the way he looked at her that made Shae bite her lower lip in worry. “Are you sure you want to be saddled with an old sack of bones like me?” she asked with a sad stab at humor, but she couldn’t hide the tremor in her voice that he might possibly walk away from their wedding.

Derek uncrossed his arms and pulled Shae into a tender embrace. After kissing her forehead, he replied. “The only thing I am uncertain about is whether or not I deserve you. I hope I’ve atoned for my past mistakes. But sometimes, I am not so sure.” With a smile, he brightened and touched his nose to Shae’s. “But today is not a day for dwelling. Today we finally celebrate our love.”

And what a celebration it was. To Shae, it was a blur of smiling faces and congratulations. She remembered seeing Evandrus sobbing at one point during the ceremony. She had never pegged him as a romantic, but it seems she had been wrong.

She remembered the brief uncertainty she felt as she took her place beside Derek at the altar. Was this really what he wanted? Could he have been lying to her. But she took a deep breath a trudged on, with Derek’s words about celebrating their love echoing in her mind.

She remembered seeing Aoife and her wife dabbing at tears, even as they smiled joyfully at each other.

She remembered the rice raining down on her as she walked back down the aisle, this time arm in arm with her new husband.

But most of all, she remembered the look in Derek’s eyes as they said their vows. They held the promise of forever, even as she felt the heaviness of her advanced age weighing down on her. They might not have much time left, but she was determined to spend every last moment basking in the happiness of his love.

Shae had decided she would be too tired for any sort of a reception or honeymoon, so when the wedding ended, she gathered her new husband and her two children and went home. When she opened the door, she noticed a few glaring differences. First, there was luggage lined up and stacked in a neat little pile beside the door. While she took in this new development, she heard the soft mewing of a cat and the enthusiastic panting of a dog. Her eyes widened as she was greeted by the small housepets. Before she could react, she saw from the corner of her eye, a large wedding cake atop a small wooden table in the kitchen. Shae gasped and felt tears stinging her eyes as she whirled to face her grinning husband. “How?” she stammered. “When?”

“Your sister dropped off the key this morning. I made the call to the moving men once I knew you were safely in the chapel. They brought everything over during the ceremony. I hope you don’t mind.” Derek replied, glancing down at his wife sheepishly.

“It’s lovely!” she exclaimed as she threw herself into his arms. When Derek released her from his embrace, she walked over to the cake and just stared at it. She couldn’t imagine destroying something so beautiful.

Diarmuid groaned and rolled his eyes. “Come on, mom. We don’t have all day. Prom is tonight. Let’s have some cake!”

Shae ruffled his hair. “Go ahead, son. Help yourself.” She walked into Aoife’s old bedroom. The moving men had placed the pet beds and toys in there. She ran her fingertips across the dresser, stopping to hover over each picture, each memory. Aofie’s prom crown and formal photo with Kari were still there, and Shae struggled to hold back tears as she thought about her children all growing up. Soon the twins would graduate and leave the nest. And she’d be alone. She wiped furiously at her eyes and shook her head. No, not alone. She’d have Derek. She’d have the love of her life. She took a deep breath and repeated to herself the words he’d spoken earlier. Today was a day for celebration.
 Diarmuid had this idea in his mind about how perfect prom would be. The girls would arrive. He'd sweep LaShawn off her feet, help her into the waiting limo, and they would dance the night away to meaningful songs on the romantically lit, perfectly decorated gymnasium floor. Just like in all the Hollywood movies. But things never seem to go as planned.

The girls arrived at the same time, both wearing the same dresses they had worn to the wedding. Diarmuid didn't know if it was the soft, evening light or just the anticipation of the night ahead, but he found himself unable to form words. Gone was his usual self-assured charm, and LaShawn was just standing there, staring, waiting for the words to come.

Elisedd wasn't faring much better. He reached out and grasped Keli's hand, pumping it up and down like a car jack. His hands were sweaty and Keli was looking at him as if he'd just lost his mind.

The teens walked single file to the waiting limo. The girls climbed inside before either of the boys could rush around and hold open the door. Diarmuid groaned to himself. The dance hadn't even begun yet, and the night was already a disaster.

The gymnasium was brightly lit, and a DJ was playing watered down versions of the latest hits. The dance floor was deserted; all of the kids stood in small groups around the perimeter of the room. Diarmuid began walking toward a relatively secluded spot by the bleachers, but LaShawn grabbed him by the hand. "Where do you think you're going?" she accused, but her eyes were filled with laughter. "This is prom. We're here to dance. I couldn't give two craps what our idiotic classmates are doing. You. Me. We're dancing."

Diarmuid felt himself grinning as he sketched a mock bow, "Lead the way, my lady."

Elisedd looked in panic at Keli, but mustered the courage to ask, "Would you also like to dance?"

Keli giggled. "Come on, El. It's me. Let's go get some punch and watch from the bleachers. I'm sure D and LaShawn just started a trend, so we'll have plenty of silly dance moves to laugh at."

Elisedd smiled, finally feeling himself relax and stood near the bleachers. Keli stood to his left, taking small glances up at him. He caught her, and their eyes locked. Should he kiss her? Is it what she would want? Her eyelids were half lowered. The corners of her lips were quirked up flirtatiously. Elisedd felt himself leaning towards her, prepared to take that first step.

"Well, well, well. What do we have here?" a mocking voice jeered at them. Elisedd took his eyes off of Keli to see three jocks from Diarmuid's track team glaring at him with crossed arms. "Is this freak bothering you, Keli?"

Keli's brows furrowed with fury. "No, Rudy. You're the one who is bothering me. He is my date. Now run along, please."

"Yea? What's he got that I don't? Is it that pixie dust that gets you all tingly at night?" Rudy asked, moving closer. His buddies twittered with grunts of laughter. Elisedd felt himself rooted to the spot, trying to run through his mind for an appropriate spell to scare the jerks off. But before he could calculate the correct movements, he looked up and saw Diarmuid approaching. Mentally, he tried to will his brother to turn around, but all attempts to breach a connection were futile.

Diarmuid looped his arms around two of the jocks and plastered on his signature lopsided grin, but his eyes glittered with a cold, hard fury. “Seems like we’re all having a good time over here. I thought I’d join the party.” His right leg was crossed over his left, and to the untrained eye, he looked completely at ease.

Rudy spun around and narrowed his eyes at Diarmuid. “What do you want, D?” Rudy sneered as he puffed out his chest.

Diarmuid arched an eyebrow, his grin still firmly in place. He stepped away from his two team mates to clap Rudy on the back. “I just wanted to congratulate you on getting into Eltham State. I hear you were first pick for their track program. Got a scholarship and everything. Must have been some honor.”

Rudy cocked his head to the side, carefully regarding Diarmuid, unsure of his motives. “Yea, so?” he asked.

Diarmuid took a step closer, their noses practically touching. His smile was gone. His face was a blank mask, stony and unmoving. He dropped his voice to a lethal whisper. “I’d hate for coach to find out about the stuff you keep in your locker. He’d be obligated to tell the university. Your scholarship would evaporate. It would be a damn shame for them to lose their star freshman.”

Rudy’s eyebrows shot up, almost imperceptibly. But then he smiled and shrugged his shoulders. He held Diarmuid’s gaze, never blinking. “Tell coach whatever you want. You’ve just given me enough time to get rid of my stash.”

With that, Diarmuid’s grin returned, still not reaching his eyes. He leaned closer, so Rudy could feel his hot breath against his ear and whispered, “I’m willing to bet there’s still some in your system. You willing to risk a drug test?”

“Whatever dude,” Rudyy exclaimed, throwing his arms up in exasperation. His two friends glanced at each other, unsure how to proceed. “Let’s go,” Rudy snarled as he stormed past them. They bumbled along behind him, never once looking back.

Diarmuid smirked at his brother, “No worries, El. I got your back.” He sauntered back to LaShawn, who was standing with her arms crossed on the other side of the room. She certainly didn’t look very happy. Maybe she missed his heroic actions and was upset about it?

“What did you do that for?” she demanded, her jaw set firmly and her arms wildly emphasizing each angry syllable.

Diarmuid was genuinely bewildered. “What do you mean? Elisedd was in trouble.”

LaShawn put her hands on her hips and shook her head. “You couldn’t let him fight his own battle? You certainly didn’t do him any favors. Now, he looks like a fool in front of Keli. And don’t think those idiot teammates of your are finished with him. The second you’re not around, they’re going to give him hell. Maybe if you had put aside your ego for one minute, you’d have realized this.” LaShawn bit her lip, contemplating her next move, before whirling around and stomping away.

Keli put her hand on Elisedd’s arm, but he could practically feel the pity seeping into his skin, so he shook it off. “I need some air,” he said, his voice low and sullen. Keli just nodded, her brows furrowed in concern. She wanted to tell him that none of this was his fault. That she had just wanted to have a good night and those jocks meant nothing to her. But none of the words felt right on her lips, so she just let him walk away.

In the hallway, he slumped against the lockers. He sank to the floor and bowed his head in his hands. He kept running through his mind the point where everything had gone wrong. Could have. Should have. Would have. If only he had Diarmuid’s smooth charm. If only he were a quick thinker. He could have used one of his fae spells that he had learned – like that time he’d made that woman sick so they could play darts. It had been an empowering feeling. But when he really needed to use the powers, he had failed. A quick burst of footsteps broke him out of his dejected thoughts, and he looked up to see his tormentors quickly approaching.

“Hey, freak!” Rudy shouted. “You better tell your brother to back off, or your little girlfriend will become my very special friend.” Rudy knelt, hovering above Elisedd as he held him against the locker. “Do you understand?” Rudy spat in Elisedd’s face as his friend laughed and jeered behind him. “I will destroy her. When I am finished with her, she will be in so much pain, she won’t be able to walk.”

Elisedd felt a cold, dark fury overtake him as he shot to his feet, pushing Rudy to sprawl on his back. With the flick of Elisedd’s wrist, Rudy’s friends began to levitate, flailing their arms and legs trying to return to solid ground. They whimpered in unison, crying out to be put down. Elisedd didn’t take his eyes off Rudy, who was back and on his feet and charging toward him. Elisedd felt the stronger teen’s body collide against his, bones rattling together, but he managed to stay on his feet. He pushed back with a strength he didn’t realize he possessed, and watched Rudy stumble backwards. Elisedd drew himself up, his feet leaving the ground, consumed with the raw power of his heritage.  With another flick of his wrist, Rudy’s face began to turn red. The skin began to burn, forming swollen, angry blisters. Rudy howled in pain as smoke began billowing from his ears. He tried to cover them, to stop the steam from pouring out, but the skin on his palms began to sweat and boil. His two friends got up, and ran screaming down the hall. Elisedd remained, hovering over his bully until his screams subsided. “These effects are temporary. You’ll eventually return to normal. But if you ever bother me again, if you ever go near Keli again, I will make sure that you are permanently disfigured. Do you understand?”

 Elisedd watched the teen’s head bob silently up and down with a grim sense of satisfaction. Never before had he inflicted such pain on another person. Never had he imagined it would feel so good, that he could feel so powerful. He shook his head, trying to return his pulse to normal, as he walked solemnly back to the gymnasium. Keli had joined LaShawn and Diarmuid, and they were all talking animatedly, completely oblivious to the battle Elisedd had just waged in the hallway. He pasted on a smile and approached them. With a newfound sense of confidence, he grasped Keli’s hand and asked if he could, please, have this dance. As he watched her face light up, he realized that this was his prom, that this was his life, and he had the power to control its outcome.

- - -- - -

Ugh, finally! This chapter killed me. I had it all written out and saved as a draft, and then Blogger ate it. After much freaking out, I managed to rewrite it, but it just...wasn't quite the same. Still, I think it turned out alright. I'm pretty happy with the pictures. another chapter or so, the second generation will be taking over. And boy do I have some plans for Diarmuid. :D