In a small room at the back of the keep, Tindomiel worked quietly, lighting the candles and placing cushions on the rug before the stone platform. On its cold hard surface, she had draped rich cloth and a soft pillow. They had laid Celebsilmare out, carefully arranging her hair and gown. She stepped back and took a final look. It had taken considerable effort to hide the damage done to her body, but Tindomiel finally felt comfortable with the woman’s appearance. Elian’s choice of the fine silver dress allowed her to cover the worst of it. Taking a long piece of blue silk, she covered the body and bowed. She left the room without another word.
Lilybeth entered. Her whole body was taught in an effort not to start shaking. Her hand gently moved over her swollen belly as she inched closer to the space laid before her. She closed her eyes, tears already beginning to fall. Taking a deep breath and then another, she opened her eyes and approached. She sat on the cushions and slowly brought her hand forward. Pulling back the covering made it real. Her mother was gone. For a moment all she could do was stare, her whole being trying to find a way for this to be a lie.
She reached out, gently taking her mother’s hand in her own. The pale blue skin that once matched hers had lost its beautiful glow. She placed the hand against her cheek, like her mother had done so often. Closing her eyes, she shivered, tears breaking free. She didn’t notice the two men that had come to stand in the back of the room. Both of them bore the same silver hair, the same face, though one was lined with the care of ages and the other, the ravages of becoming an Illidari.
Placing Celebsilmare’s hand back down along her side, she entwined their fingers. This would be the last time she held her mother’s hand. She placed her other hand over it, wrapping it around. “Mother…Min’da…I am so sorry. This is my fault. If I could have just…Come back to me, please,” she sobbed her way through the words.
The demon hunter, Forosuul, started to step forward, to say something, but he was stopped by Kalithil’s hand on his chest. Kalithil gave him a knowing look and shook his head. Forosuul sank against the wall, feeling the weight of his own guilt bearing down. His grandfather placed a hand on his shoulder and didn’t say a word. He simply watched his mate as she navigated her grief.
“Mother, I wish you could be here. I need you. You should be here as your grandchildren enter this world. I don’t know if I can do this without you.” Her voice was quiet, lost. She shook her head. “You didn’t deserve this. You did nothing wrong. Mother, I miss you.” She sat, holding on to her mother’s hand, tears seeming to come without end.
A voice echoed in her mind. It was soft, gentle as it had always been in life. The memory of words spoken months before, but become all the more powerful now. “The Silverthorn have always been the right people, my daughter. Noble and kind, loyal to anyone pledged to their House. When I joined them as their retainer, I knew I had found a home. For you to have become one with Kalithil is more than I could have ever dreamed for you. Love him with all that you are. Love your children, as they will. There is nothing more I could ever want for you.”
Lilybeth worked herself up onto the platform, curling up beside her mother and crying herself to sleep. She never felt herself being gathered up and taken to bed. She didn’t see the love in the eyes of the man carrying her. When she would wake in the morning, she would be surrounded by those she now called her family.