I entered the tent and Aaron and Olivia were already seated by his bedside. I sat beside them and Caleb looked over and smiled at me.
“We’ll leave you,” Olivia said softly, and they stood up. I swallowed and placed my hand on his.
“You look sad, Little One,” he said. “But you’ve had a great victory.” I smiled.
“You can’t die,” I said simply, “I refuse to allow it. I order you to live.” He smiled.
“I will try then,” he said, “Your Majesty,” he kissed my hand. “Oh my darling girl, how I’ve loved having you as mine.”
“Caleb, how can I do it without you?” I said.
“Trust the others,” he said, “they will guide you.” Not as he would have though. He hugged me. “Aaron said you spared Brayton.”
“Yes,” I whispered, “as you said to.” He smiled. “He showed me things. Visions.” He swallowed.
“In the smoke?” He said. I nodded. “An old trick, my love, you’re stronger than that.”
“I broke the spell,” I whispered. He nodded. “Caleb, my father,” I inhaled, “Olivia and my father.”
“No, love,” he shook his head, “no, it wasn’t what he thinks, it wasn’t what anyone thought. Ask her, she’ll tell you.” I nodded. “I am so proud of you, Lisette.”
“May I still be Lisette sometimes?” I asked him softly. A child’s question, what I’d asked him when he first told me who I was when I was seven.
“And Aaron must do whatever you say,” he smiled. I began crying and Olivia came back in. “Hello Livvie.”
“Caleb,” she whispered. “You’re a liar, you know, you promised to stay with me always.” He grinned.
“Forgive me then,” he whispered. “I love you.” She pressed her forehead to his and I felt his life leave him. We both stood quietly for a few moments.
“I can leave, if you’d like,” I finally said. She looked at me.
“No,” she said and stretched her hand out to me, “no stay with me.” I nodded and knelt with her beside him. “My Caleb,” she said softly. I looked at her, thinking of the scream I’d heard in my vision, her screaming my father’s name as he ran to his death.
“Where’s Aaron?” I asked.
“He went to see Athena,” she said softly. “That’s for the best, I think.” I nodded.
“I need to do something.” I said. She looked at me.
“Lisette,” she said, her voice changed, “you need to be very careful.” I nodded and went back to my tent. Tristan was waiting for me. I smiled and ran into his arms.
“It’s over?” He whispered. I nodded and pressed my face against his chest. “I’m sorry, Lisette, I will miss him.” He kissed me. “Do you want to be alone?”
“No,” I said softly, “I want you with me.” I was lying but I wasn’t unhappy that Tristan was here. His arms and his kisses were comforting, but not as comforting as sitting with Aaron and Olivia and lighting candles and whispering the names of the counts and countesses of Pantona asking them to accept Caleb into the ether. I went to the cot and lay down and he lay down with me. I curled into the space in between us. “Did Marina fix you?”
“She did,” he whispered, “she’s afraid you’ll blame her, for the Count.” I looked up at him. “Understand Lisette, this is new to her, she doesn’t know you,” he sighed, “she doesn’t know what this means for her.”
“I don’t want to talk about Marina,” I whispered and kissed him. He nodded and pulled me close. We lay there in silence, kissing, touching, until we inevitably made love.
We both knew what it was, the end of something. After, I pressed my forehead to his.
“I have to tell you something,” I whispered. He nodded. “I had a vision today.”
“A dream?” He asked. I shook my head.
“No, it was different,” I sighed, “but I Saw, well,” I sighed, “I love you, but you know,” he drew back, “you see I’ve had visions and Dreams about the prince of Phania for a long time, and I saw him so clearly today.”
“I see,” he said softly, “so before, that was what? You trying to forget it?”
“No,” I shook my head, “only, well, I don’t know what it means, and I,” I sighed, “I have to find out is all, he’s coming here, I don’t know when, but he is, and for us,” he kissed me again. “And while I figure that out I think I need, well, time, and space.” He pushed my hair off my face.
“You’re sending me away then?” He whispered. I closed my eyes.
“When I’m with you, there’s only you,” I explained, “I breath you in, I feel you, and I can’t have that and figure out what all this is.”
“What changed, in the past hour?” He asked softly.
“Caleb,” I admitted. He nodded. “He was supposed to help me with all of this, I wasn’t supposed to do it alone, I was counting on,” I choked on the tears.
“I understand,” he said, wiping my eyes, “Lisette, really,” I nodded, “but you aren’t alone, my love, you’ll never be alone, I’ll always be here.” I smiled. “Do you want me to go?”
“For now,” I whispered. He nodded stood up and left, I fell back against the pillows, and tried to sleep, but I could hear cheers and songs throughout the camp.
All Hail The Girl Queen! A few voices echoed. That had been what Caleb and Anselm had jokingly called me. I cried until I fell asleep.