Letting Go & Moving Forward
Everything was hazy. The room was spinning around her, even when she closed her eyes.
Maeve sat on the floor in her living room, staring at the empty fireplace as she brought the bottle up to her lips, gulping down more of the liquid that burned down her throat. She sputtered slightly and weaved, turning her head to look at the coffee table.
She had started with a glass but graduated to just drinking straight from the bottle when it took too long to pour and she kept missing the glass anyway. She snorted in laughter.
"Like mother, like daughter," she sang to the empty apartment, looking around and taking in the dark enclosing around her. She hadn't bothered turning on any of the lights as the sun started going down, preferring to sit in the impending darkness. "Dark like my soul," she mused before taking another drink.
At least now all the thoughts that had been causing her head to ache and spin earlier were dulled. This was better, she decided. Better than worrying and thinking in circles. Than coming to terms with the fact that her father was some sort of sadistic faery - no, had been a fucking Dark King.
Or the fact that she was somehow destined to be some sort of dark, evil faery queen.
She snorted again, finding the thought more amusing that it should be. Her mother would be thrilled, she was sure. Or perhaps she should tell her mother's doctors that she believed in faeries too. Maybe they would lock her up with her mother and she could spend the rest of her days in a drug-induced haze not thinking about faeries or Dark Courts or Summer Courts. Or Niall.
She frowned as her thoughts latched onto him and she could see his face in her mind. How gentle and kind he was. Him telling her that she wasn't a monster. That nothing in her past was her fault.
"That's a big fat lie," she stated once again to the empty apartment. She took another drink.
She slowly swung her head around, seeing two Aislinns walk into the apartment, flipping on lights. She winced and hissed in pain as the light blinded her slightly. She had been sitting in the dark for a long time, it seemed.
"Oh my god, are you okay?"
Maeve blinked her eyes open, seeing her cousin rush over to her, dropping down on the floor in front of her. A balmy, summer heat wafted off her and wrapped around Maeve like a warm blanket. She wondered why she had been afraid of Aislinn the first time she saw her as the Summer Queen.
"I'm fine," she slurred, still weaving from side to side.
"You're drunk," Aislinn stated.
"Ding, ding, ding! You get a prize!" Maeve shouted with a laugh. Aislinn frowned as she looked at the mostly empty bottle in Maeve's hand and sighed. She then grabbed it, pulling it from Maeve's hand and then standing. "Hey… I wasn't done with that!"
"I think you've had enough," Aislinn said, putting the bottle on the counter and starting up the coffee pot. Maeve blinked a few times, trying to focus on the bottle. If she was quick, she could probably get over there and grab it before Aislinn took it away again. She reached out, bracing herself on the coffee table and then pushing herself up, faltering slightly as she tried to remain standing.
Aislinn was at her side, helping her to sit on the couch before she toppled over.
"Just… sit down, okay?" Aislinn said, her face full of worry. Once Maeve was settled, she handed her a bottle of water. "Drink this."
Maeve shot her a dirty look but did as instructed. Aislinn went back into the kitchen and started pulling mugs from the cabinet as Maeve heard the coffee pot begin to brew.
"I'm fine," she stated again. Aislinn just gave her another worried look. "Seriously. So, my father is some dark, bastard monster faery. And your king is some bastard who turns unsuspecting women into faeries. And I'm… I'm…"
She stopped speaking as tears welled up in her eyes again. Fuck. This was why she had gotten drunk. So, she didn't have to feel anything right now. She didn't want to feel a goddamn thing. She quickly wiped her eyes, trying to stop the tears, but they just kept coming. Stupid, fucking tears that wouldn't listen to her.
"It's okay. Just… let it out," Aislinn said softly. Maeve looked over, seeing her seated next to her on the couch, holding out a mug of steaming coffee. "It's a lot for anyone to process."
Maeve took the mug and sipped it, blinking to try and stem the tears, but finally just giving up.
"What do I do?" she asked forlornly as she looked back at Aislinn. "Tell me what to do."
Aislinn took a deep breath and slowly let it out.
"I can't tell you what to do," she answered. "That's something that you have to figure out for yourself."
"But… but you know more about all this than I do. Just tell me," Maeve begged. "I'll do it. No questions asked." Aislinn shook her head.
"For better or worse, this has to be your decision, Maeve," she said softly. "After everything else that's been taken from you… I won't take this away." Maeve just blinked as she stared at her. "The best advice I can give is to… follow your heart." Maeve laughed.
"A lot of good that does. Every time I've done that before, someone got hurt," she said. "And… the last time… Chris died. Because of me."
"I'm so fucking tired of everyone saying it wasn't my fault! You weren't there! It was my fault!" Maeve shouted. "I got him into the argument! I distracted him!" She shook her head. "Maybe Irial's right… I need to accept who I am. That this is who I am. A goddamn monster."
"You're not a monster," Aislinn said firmly. Maeve turned, meeting her eyes and finding it was a bit easier to focus on her now. At least there weren't two Aislinns anymore. "And you can't convince me otherwise. You're a survivor, Maeve. Not a monster."
"But I hurt people," she said softly.
"No. You've been put through some difficult things, but that's not because of who you are," Aislinn said. "You're not a monster. You have a choice. You always have a choice. And the Maeve I know, would choose not to be a monster." Maeve swallowed.
"But what if I can't fight it? What if it's my nature to be… evil?" she asked softly. Aislinn threw her arms around her cousin, pulling her closer and transferring as much of her warmth and sunshine to her as she could.
"You're not evil. I don't think you have it in you to be evil," she replied.
"But you heard him… I'm supposed to be some Dark Queen. Isn't that evil?" Maeve asked.
"Do you think Niall is evil?" Aislinn asked. Maeve thought a moment.
"No… but I don't know everything about him. What if he is?" she asked. Aislinn pulled back, looking into Maeve's eyes.
"You have a choice. You can be the Dark Queen, or not. And if you do choose that, you can choose what kind of queen you want to be," she said firmly.
"Did you have a choice?" Maeve asked. "To become the Summer Queen? Did you get to choose?"
"I did," Aislinn said. "I mean, there was a time when I felt like I didn't, but then I realized… I could accept my role as Summer Queen on my own terms. And I did." Maeve just stared at her. "And you can do the same. If that's what you want." Maeve looked down at the coffee mug in her hands. "What do you want to do?"
Maeve shrugged, laughing wearily.
"I don't know," she said, still not looking at Aislinn. "I mean… part of me wants to run away. Take the money, get Mom and just… go somewhere far away where I can start over. Forget about all… this. I can dance again… maybe join a new company… Leave faeries in the dust…"
"If that's what you want, I can help," Aislinn said. Maeve looked at her again. Aislinn offered her a small smile. "I mean, I'll miss you like crazy, but I'll help you get out of here and disappear if that's what you want to do."
"And what if I choose to be the Dark Queen?" Maeve asked.
"I'd accept that as well. As long as it's what you want to do," Aislinn said. Maeve frowned, looking back down at her mug.
"I don't know what I want," she confessed. "I mean… even despite… everything… I still feel… I don't want to run away from Niall. But I'm not sure that I'm ready to take on something as big as ruling a court with him. I don't know anything about the Dark Court. Never even been there…"
Aislinn reached over and took her hand, squeezing it.
"Yea, I'm sure there's a lot to think over," she replied. "But I want you to know, no matter what you choose, I'm still here for you." Maeve looked over at her. "You're family and I won't abandon you. Ever." Maeve offered her a wobbly smile.
"Sometimes I wonder why I came back. If I had just stayed in the city… I could have stayed out of all of this," Maeve said. "Gone on living my life without faery courts and… all this bullshit."
"Yea, but you can't change that now," Aislinn said sadly. Maeve nodded.
"I can't," she admitted. "And the other part of me keeps thinking that I couldn't avoid this forever… eventually it would have caught up to me. I would have come back here… gotten mixed up in this regardless."
"Like I said, you're not alone. Not anymore. You've got me," Aislinn said. She took a deep breath. "And you've got Seth… Niall. We're all here for you however you want us to be." Maeve nodded. "But Maeve… I think it's time to let go of the past."
"Not so easy," Maeve replied.
"I know, but… you can't move forward, decide what you truly want until you make peace with everything that's happened so far. And I know you're tired of hearing it, but it doesn't make it any less true… What's happened - it's not your fault," Aislinn said firmly. Maeve took a deep breath and slowly let it out.
"All I can promise is to work on it," she said, looking over at her cousin.
"That's good enough for me," Aislinn said with a smile. "Now… it's been a long, crazy day. You could probably stand to get some sleep. Don't make any decisions right now." Maeve yawned.
"Yea, you're probably right. I'm in no condition to be making any life-altering decisions right now," she said.
"And you're probably going to have a nasty hangover in the morning," Aislinn added.
"Yea," Maeve said.
"Finish up the water, take some Tylenol and go to bed. I'll stay until then. Or the whole night, if you want," Aislinn said.
"I should be okay," Maeve said. She sat up and put the coffee mug on the table, then turned and hugged Aislinn. "Thanks for everything, Ash."
"Like I said, that's what family is for."
Maeve tossed and turned for what felt like hours before finally settling into an uneasy slumber. With the amount of alcohol in her system, she had hoped to pass out as soon as her head hit the pillow, but just like a peace of mind, it seemed sleep was also elusive.
Finally, after waking up for what felt like the 100th time, she tossed her comforter off and got up, making her way downstairs, angry that she couldn't even sleep. She didn't intend to go for the bottle of whisky, instead settling on pacing around the living room until her mind or legs gave out - whatever happened first.
Despite her lack of sleep, Maeve found her thoughts somewhat clearer. Maybe because she had managed to sober up a fair bit. But they were still churning around in her head.
Did she stay? Did she run? Did she accept her fate as this Dark Queen? Did she choose Niall? Did she choose the Summer Court with Ash? Did she choose no court? Did she forgive her father for abandoning her and her mother? Did she forgive herself for what happened to Christopher?
Maeve took a deep breath and slowly exhaled, closing her eyes. She repeated the action a few more times, trying to calm all the thoughts running around in her mind. At the very least so she could try and get some sleep. She knew that she didn't need to make any sort of decision on anything right this minute, but she couldn't help the sense of urgency that had fallen on her.
That she needed to figure everything out right now.
She opened her eyes, looking at the large windows in the living room. She walked over to them and looked down to the dark street, seeing the various faeries gathered about. She saw Niall's guards standing at one end of the street, those from the Summer Court at the other. She half expected to see her father there, but he was nowhere in sight.
Perhaps he had run off again. Though part of her didn't think he would. He had said to call when she was ready to speak to him again.
I do love you, Maeve…
Mauve began to pace in front of the windows, her brow furrowed. She finally knew who her father was. He had been the Dark King when she was conceived. He had done everything he thought was right to protect her. Regretted causing her any undue pain. He hadn't known that her mother would turn out the way she had. Seemed genuinely surprised. Perhaps her mother had always been that way and it wasn't truly his fault.
You don't have to be afraid of what you are…
You're not the only one with darkness in you…
Maeve stopped as she thought about Niall. In such a short time, she had grown inexplicably close to him. And now, the thought of possibly running away, never seeing him again, brought a piercing pain to her heart.
She didn't understand it. Wondered if she should even attempt to understand it. Nothing made sense anymore, so why bother? She looked over at the photographs of Christopher. She had thought they were meant to be. That they would spend the rest of their lives together. And then he was taken away from her in an instant.
You need to let go of the past…
You need to accept who you are…
Maeve walked over to the photographs, reaching out to touch his face. Would he have believed her if she had told him the truth? Would he have accepted her? Maeve would never know, but she couldn't stop from wondering. What kind of life would they have had together if he had lived? It would have been happy, she thought. But would it have been complete? Or would something in her have always felt like something was missing?
Maeve closed her eyes, going back to that day. Waking up in the hospital in unbearable pain. Listening as the doctor told her that Christopher hadn't survived, went through a detailed explanation of what she would face over the following months. The skin grafts. The surgeries. The physical therapy that wouldn't guarantee that she'd be able to dance again.
The long line of visitors from the dance company that eventually trickled down and then stopped when she either refused to talk or instead lashed out, wanting someone else to feel the pain coursing through her.
Looking back up at the photograph, she realized that no amount of self-loathing was going to bring him back. And forever was too long to feel sorry for herself.
What's more, she knew deep down in her heart that Christopher wouldn't want her to live like that. He had been full of so much life and light. He wouldn't want her to feel like her life was over at 23. He'd want her to embrace her potential to the fullest.
Maeve gasped softly as a single tear fell down her cheek.
"I have to let you go," she whispered, looking at his face. "We weren't meant to be… but it's okay. It's going to be okay."
And for the first time since the accident, she truly felt like that statement was true.
Maeve stepped back away from the photograph and looked down at the necklace that she had put back on out of habit. She knew now that she wore it out of fear. Used it as a crutch to hide what she truly was rather than accepting it. Embracing it.
Reaching up, she undid the clasp, closing her eyes as she pulled it off and let it drop to the ground. She took a deep, cleansing breath, finally letting go of the anger, the pain. The fear.
Maeve could feel something stirring inside her. While it was at first slightly frightening, she took a few more deep breaths, keeping her heart rate steady. When she opened her eyes, she felt different. She wasn't sure if it was real or just something in her head, but part of her knew that she had taken the first step forward.
She had held onto the past for far too long. She no longer cared to place the blame somewhere. That wouldn't change anything. But what Maeve could control was where things went from here. And she was determined to go forward living her life on her own terms rather than blaming things on fate or her nature.
And along with that, she knew that she had to accept that she was no longer human. Had never been fully human to begin with. And no matter how fast or how far she ran, she couldn't run from that.
This was who she was. She held the power to determine her fate.
An excitement began to grow inside her as Maeve began to smile, feeling slightly giddy. She hadn't felt this good in a long time. Her thoughts then turned to Niall. She wanted to tell him. Right now.
Her eyes widened in shock. Of all people, that's who she wanted to talk to right now. Not Aislinn. Or her so-called father. Or Seth. It was Niall.
And she knew why.
Beyond all the cosmic destiny bullshit, she knew deep down inside that she wanted to be with him. That it was more than just a fate thing or pure lust. She wanted to be with him. She chose to be with him. They were a matching pair. He could understand her. Understand the darkness inside her, help her to embrace it. As she settled on the thought, it was as if everything else settled down as well. Her thoughts stopped spinning. Her worries about what came next, if she was truly ready for this, died away.
All that was left was strong resolution.
This was right. This was the direction she wanted to go. Run full-speed ahead in. She had never been more sure about anything in her life.
This was who she was. The Dark Queen. Niall's partner.
She needed to tell him. Now.