Monday, March 6, 2017

Chapter 17, Kiss Me While I Sleep

***WARNING!!! My stories often contain strong language, sensitive issues, and, at times, other content that could be construed as offensive. Beliefs and viewpoints of characters are not necessarily the beliefs and viewpoints the Author holds in true life.***
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Mother wasted no time in contacting Lenora, who agreed to come at once. Mother explained the situation to her over the phone and when Lenora arrived, I could see she'd been crying. I pulled her in for a tight hug, rubbing her back in a sisterly fashion. "Oh, Lenora! Don't cry. Please don't." I was what Mother called a sympathy crier, so seeing how upset Lenora was made my own eyes well up.

"Alina, ye poor dear! Ye and Robin have been through so much already. I feel partially responsible for this. It was me ye were so upset about, and that contributed to the mistake ye made with your potions. I'll do what I can to make it right." She gave me a firm squeeze, then pulled back to kiss my cheek.



We both dried our eyes at the same time, and I smiled weakly at the gesture. Lenora was the sister I had always wanted, and we were so close that our movements often mirrored the other's. My smile coaxed a small one from her and I reached out to hug her again. "You are not to blame in the slightest. You were taken against your will and had no control over what happened. I'm just so thankful I have my beautiful sister back; that was all I wanted. I'm so glad you're here now, Lenora. I know beyond anything that Robin will come for me, but I am a little frightened all the same. This is a vexing situation."



"I know sweetheart. Just think about what the end result will be and that will keep ye going. We'll fix this, Alina. We will."



I was about to reply when goosebumps arose on my skin. A breeze originating from seemingly nowhere ruffled my hair. In the spot next to my mother where nobody stood one moment ago was now occupied by an enchantingly beautiful woman I thought never to meet. Instantly, I sank to one knee and bowed my head, touching my forehead to my other knee. Hearing movements near me, I sensed the others, save Mother, were doing the same.

"May I present Ariadne Dreamweaver, Mistress of Dreams and Exultant High Goddess of All Witches," Mother said in her strong, clear voice.



"You may all rise." I had never heard Ariadne's voice before and didn't know what to expect. What came from her sounded like all the songs of Heaven combined into one exquisitely harmonious symphony that left me longing to hear more. Her voice was filled to overflowing with warmth and love that tears immediately sprang to my eyes.

"She is so beautiful," I whispered, clutching Robin's hand and climbing to my feet.



"As are you, my dear." Ariadne embraced me and then placed a motherly kiss on my forehead. "Your courage and bravery are to be commended. To undertake such a daunting task regardless of the possible dangers is admirable. You most certainly are your mother's daughter."

"Oh my gracious!" I gasped, feeling my cheeks flame. "I-I do not know what to say at such high praise. My mother is...well, there is no one like her."

"Simply say, 'Thank you, Ariadne,'" the goddess said, mirth lighting up her eyes.



"Thank you, Ariadne," I managed.

"Now that wasn't so hard, was it?" she asked, tinkling melody all but dripping from that magnificent voice.

I chuckled and grinned dazedly. "No...no, it wasn't. I knew you would be lovely but I didn't expect you to be so...loving. I mean, I have heard stories, but..." I blushed, fearing I sounded like an utter fool.



"Wait until you see me on a bad day You might change your mind." Laughter lit up her face even more, if that were even possible. Then, she became serious and studied me. "Your mother is, indeed, an extraordinarily unique person and is my best friend in all the worlds. I value her judgement in many, many things, for she is a goddess second only to me. You have made her proud, this I know to be true. All of you have, and so, that makes me proud and very willing to assist you in this mission. What has been done here is a travesty and is certainly a blatant disregard to the code of conduct in which I have helped to lay the foundation of as soon as time began. Now, I shall greet everyone in turn and then, we will get down to business."

Everyone was treated to a warm embrace and loving words from Ariadne. When everyone got ample time with her, she turned to bestow a benevolent smile on all of us. "I have told Mathilda this many times and now, I am saying it to all of you. I genuinely have a soft spot for this family, and from here on out, you may feel free to summon me if you are in need of me. I will be visiting all of you individually, for there are a lot of things to say and rewards to reap. For now, let us cross this great hurtle that now stands in the way of Robin and Alina, yes?"



We all nodded and Ariadne continued. "I will go to the spirit world and clear the way for Liam and Silvan's arrival. Just to add some extra protection, I have called upon Kai to lend his aid. The more assistance we can take advantage of, the better off we will be."

I saw Lenora smile and I guessed she was thinking about the time Kai came to her while she was held captive. Her next words confirmed it. "Tyrone will be sorry he missed seeing Kai again."

"Kai will pay him a visit later, dear Lenora. Do not worry," Ariadne replied. "After all, you know he, too, has a soft spot for your family and for you."

She grinned and waved her hand, which signaled Ariadne to go on. "Right. Now then, Mathilda will know when it is safe to signal Liam to take Silvan."

Aurora gulped and hugged Silvan's arm. "Come back to me, Silvan. I need ye and so does Tara."

Lenora was hugging Liam as if he would disappear the next second. "Don't ye get lost, Grandda. I would not want to lose ye again."



"They will both return. I will see to it," Ariadne said. "I will leave you now and look in on you later. Mathilda will take over from here and I will see to things in the spirit realm. Blessings to you all and may the light of victory be with you this night."



With that, she was gone. Mother was all business as she began her instructions. "It is best we do this in one of the larger bedrooms so Lenora, Aurora, and I will have ample space to move as we need. Robin, it's going to be like last time. Alina will have passed by the time I ask you to place her on the bed. Alina, as soon as we're situated, I'll give you the potion to stop your life processes. It will take a few minutes to activate. I'm sorry, child, but you're going to feel rather ill as it moves through your system. Remember, we are trying to recreate the original circumstances as accurately as possible."

"I...I need to hold her. I need to hold her so...so she won't be afraid when..." Robin swayed slightly, his complexion a sick, milky color. Now that this was upon us, the reality of our situation was settling in.

I slid my arms around his waist and lay my head against his chest, listening to the strong, steady beating of his heart. "I will come back with you. I promised, remember?" I whispered. It filled me with sorrow to see him so unnerved.



He wrapped me in a fierce embrace, his breath tickling my ear as he whispered to me. He kept saying, "I love you, Alina," repeating it again and again, and it broke my heart. It took a lot to shake my Robin, this I knew, but witnessing my death and having to do it again brought him to the very edge. Once this night was over, I hoped we would be very old before one of us would have to watch the other die again.

Solemnly and silently, we climbed the stairs and entered a large second floor bedroom. Mother fished in her beg and brought out a shimmery black potion that looked like the very death it held. Putting it on one of the bedside tables, she said, "You'll drink this five minutes after Liam leaves with Silvan."

I smiled weakly at Mother. "It will be worth it in the end. I reckon this is a good time to pluck up as much courage as I can." I sighed and situated myself in Robin's arms. "Promise me one thing, my love."

"Anything, Alina. You just name it," Robin said fervently.

I heard a soft swoosh and knew that Liam had left with Silvan. Five minutes from now, I would be at death's door. "After I am gone...after it happens, talk to me as you did last time. I heard you and that kept me close to you. Tell me of our life together and remind me of what we mean to each other."

"I promise! Oh, Alina, I promise." His voice cracked, and I knew he was fighting back a sob.

"And Robin?"

"What, love?" he whispered into my hair.

"After I've gone and before you come to me...kiss me while I sleep. Wilt thou do that for me, Milord?"

He couldn't hold back the sob this time. His chest heaved and when he replied, "I will," his voice was barely a whisper.

It was the longest five minutes I had ever experienced, and I surmised that Robin felt the same. I remained in his arms, both trying to give and receive comfort. We both jumped when Mother said softly, "It's time, sweetheart. You need to drink the potion now."

I picked up the bottle of black death, willing my hand to remain steady. "Well, down the hutch," I said, offering a tremulous smile.

Another sob seized Robin, and I saw the glimmering tracks of tears as they traced their way down his cheeks. "Oh, Alina! It's hatch...not hutch."

"Well, bugger all," I chuckled softly while brushing the tears from my Robin's cheeks. "Mayhap one day, I'll get these things correct."

I kissed Robin, looked into bis eyes, and raised the vial. "Here is hoping it tastes better than it looks." I upended it and threw back the contents like an expert whiskey drinker, wrinkling my nose as it traveled down to my stomach. "Correction. It tastes worse than it looks."




Almost immediately, I began to feel it starting to work. The room spun about me, my lungs seized up, and I grew terribly weak. My knees gave way and Robin had to support all my weight.


Robin's POV



"I've got you, Alina. I won't let you fall. I've got you." Helplessness crashed over me as I clutched my Alina close. I wanted to howl at the moon, to ask why this was happening again. My worst nightmare was coming to pass yet again right before my eyes. Alina was dying in front of me.

"I know. You have never let me fall," she whispered in between shallow breaths. She always had such unshakable faith in me. Even now as her life ebbed away, it was unwavering.

I kissed her softly and then brushed her beautiful hair from the angelic face I loved so desperately. "Do you know how much I love you?"



"Yes...but tell me...again," she rasped. "I...never tire...of hearing it."



"I love you to the farthest reaches of the universe and back again, Alina. Every beat of my heart is for you. Every breath I take is because of you, my Alina. I love you from a piece of my soul I never knew existed until the first time I laid eyes on you. You are my beautiful Alina, and no matter what happens, you always will be. If I lose you, I will lose the biggest part of myself."

"Such lovely words. How fortunate I am, for not even my wildest of imaginings could have ever dreamed up the happiness and love I feel for you." The effort it took her to voice these words so strongly taxed her. She was now gasping for every breath and fighting to remain conscious. "It's...getting...hard...to talk, Robin. i-I'm...so tired."

"Then don't talk, love. I can gibber-jabber enough for the both of us." I caressed her cheek and kissed her eyes closed. "Hush now and rest your head."

"We will have...a good life together," she whispered. With a soft, fluttering sigh, she put her head against my chest.

"Oh, Alina! We already have a good life together," I said through a tight throat. Her life was now only the barest of a wisp.

"Then...we will have...a better one...when all of this...is done."

"Shhh, Alina. Don't talk anymore," I pleaded. To see her struggling so just to breathe nearly undid me. I wanted to shout, to curse, to demand the sky to open and take me instead of the most beautiful, precious person who ever lived.



She didn't talk anymore. Instead, her hands twitched, and she breathed out one final sigh. Alina's life slipped away with that last expulsion of air, and I, once again, held her lifeless form. Once again, she left me and once again, my heart was torn to shreds from the unbearable grief her absence meant. Great racking sobs engulfed me, and I felt the black cloud of despair ascend heavily on me "Oh, Alina...Alina!" I cried her name in desolation and waited for the world to implode and crush me.
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Author's Note: Mentioned but not pictured is Kai, the Great Alpha Wolf. Thank you to Shafer249 for allowing me to use him and his offspring as my need for them arises.

Thank you to Blamsart for making me some special poses I requested.

Just as a little side note, I'm sorry about the clipping Alina's hair was doing in some of the pictures. I couldn't do anything about that short of putting a different hairstyle on her but I didn't want to do that. I tried to hide it as best I could, but not all of it could be avoided.