"I'll take my leave now," Selene said, her head bowed respectively towards the now young, Latina woman.
"Wait, my child. Come sit with me," the Queen spoke, patting her hand gently on the sofa besides her.
Selene smiled softly at the woman, yet it didn't reach her eyes. The last two hundred as been hard on her. The betrayal of her apprentice was not a surprise in the end. She had watched Henry struggle and pull away from the Kingdom. From the Queen. From all of them. Selene had thought that if she gave him time to mature and learn their customs he would find his way back. She had been wrong.
But, Selene has suffered from far worse in her long life, Henry was but a tiny blimp compared to everything else. She missed another one far too much.
"I appreciate your offer, but I'm afraid I have to decline. Perhaps on another day."
"You are going to visit her, aren't you?"
Selene hesitated at the door. Because here back was to the Queen, Selene allowed herself to close her eyes. She hated dwelling on the past. It did nothing to change it.
"No. I'm not."
"Oh?" The Queen asked with a skeptical tone. Selene could practically see her raising an eyebrow as she spoke.
"No. Going to her grave will do nothing to bring her back. There's no point."
"You loved her, didn't you? You miss her even now. You don't have to be so strong my child."
Selene turned and glanced back at the Queen. Her brown eyes called out for her. She wanted Selene to lay her sorrows on her so Selene wouldn't have to carry them alone. But Selene would never burden her Queen like that. Her problems were for her and her alone.
"Strength is all I have left."
Selene left after that. There was nothing more to be said. The Queen couldn't even deny it. It was truly the only thing that kept her going. Her strength. That's how she's survived all these years and that's how she'll always survive.
Selene would not go to Arielle's grave. She hated seeing that unforgiving stone and knowing her body lay nothing but dust underneath. That was not how Selene remembered her. Arielle had been alive. She had been stubborn but kind. Loving. Arielle had brought light into her world of darkness. So, Selene came up with a new way to remember her. A better way.
Hanging in her room, was a painting of Arielle. One so lifelike, that sometimes, she expected the girl to come bouncing out of it. It was Arielle leaning against her coffin, smiling widely as if she had the most exciting thing to share with Selene. A scene Selene often came about. Arielle used to lean against her coffin almost every night and wait for her to return. Her smile would practically split her face and her eyes would burn like black fire. Arielle would jump from foot to foot because she could hardly wait to tell Selene about how much better she was in training or how she was just genuinely happy to see Selene.
This is how Selene will remember her. Bright. Living. And when Selene felt weak, she would simply gaze upon the painting, and slowly gather all the strength she needed to move forward.
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