Chapter 13: Twins and Sorrow

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I'm feeling pretty proud of myself.
Keeping on top of my updates...kinda.

Amyways (gods I'm hilarious) this is a shorter one, I apologize, but I'm already started on the next chapter.

Onward!

                    ----- Sophie -----

Sophie took a shaky breath. She pinched the bridge of her nose and squeezed her eyes shut.

It was over. She had done it. Fitz didn't hate her. Keefe was fine. Edaline was okay. Biana did amazing. Della was great.

And then there were the twins.

Sophie knew she had to talk to them. In fact, they were behind her, after her line of bodyguards.

But she dreaded how it would go.

Linh was so, so special to Sophie. She wanted to make things right, amend whatever rips had been torn during that day in Atlantis.

And she had to do it now.

Abruptly, she whirled around, startling Flori, who had been directly behind her. Flori quickly recovered, seeming to know what Sophie was up to. She slid to the right, allowing Sophie to slip past.

And then...she was facing two pairs of silvery eyes––the Song twins.

She sucked in a quick breath, wringing her hands in front of her, but pushing on. "Okay. Wow. This...this is a lot. Uh," she glanced at Tam, "I'm so glad you're okay. And I'm really sorry it took so long. I know it must've been really hard," she laughed nervously, "in fact I know first-hand. Anyways, let me know if you need anything." Sophie internally cringed. Why did she sound like she was greeting him in a hotel room? I'll get you some extra towels while I'm at it. She shuddered.

But Tam gave her the warmest smile she had ever seen on his face. "Sophie, thank you. Thank you for getting me out of there, and thank you for giving everything you had to keep my sister here."

Sophie glanced down to where Tam was holding Linh's hand and her heart swelled.

"Thank you for keeping her safe when I couldn't." He reached out and touched her shoulder lightly, and Sophie tried her hardest not to flinch. Tam was not a touchy feely kind of guy.

Which is why it meant so much to Sophie.

"Your welcome," she whispered, pride filling her heart.

Now...the hard part.

"Linh, I––"

Sophie's next few words were muffled as Linh threw herself on Sophie in a tight hug, knocking the air out of her lungs.

"I'm so sorry!" Linh gushed.

Sophie brushed away the shock and hugged back. "There's no reason to be."

Linh sniffled and tightened her grip. "Yes there is. I didn't listen to you, and I hurt you, and I said so many things I didn't mean. And then I left you to deal with the mess I left behind, only to put yourself in danger, and then you go and tell me there's nothing to be sorry for. Well, I'm more sorry than I've ever been, and I'm going to make it up to you." She choked down a sob. "I hope you can forgive me."

Despite herself, Sophie grinned. "You're already forgiven."

Linh pulled back with a sad smile, tears still welling in her eyes. "Thank you," she whispered.

Sophie nodded.

Before they could continue their conversation, someone from the head of the group called out to her.

Reluctantly, Sophie excused herself, giving Linh's hand one last squeeze and smiling at Tam.

Sandor (who she was still dreading having to talk to) led her to the front of the small assembly, where she faced the Council.

"We are heading to a more private place to discuss the happenings," Oralie explained when Sophie began walking next to her.

Sophie nodded, grateful for Oralie's help.

A few moments of comfortable silence passed between the two before Oralie turned to face Sophie.

"Kenric would be so proud."

Sophie's eyes widened, and she made a slight choking noise in her throat. "Huh––?"

"Kenric. He would've loved to be here now, congratulating you."

Sophie clenched her teeth to hold back a wave of tears. "Oh, Oralie." She reached for her hand. "If he were here, he'd tell you what a great job you're doing. How far you've come."

Oralie wiped at her eyes. "Then I guess he'd be proud of the both of us." She laughed, but it came out choked and slightly broken.

Sophie smiled with sympathy. "Yeah."

Sophie realized then that Orlalie had no one to talk to about the great loss of Kenric, even if his death wasn't as recent as it had once been.

"I miss him," Oralie whispered, and Sophie's heart shattered.

She brought the councilor's hand up so that she held it with both hands. "And you have every right. He loved you, and you are allowed to mourn his death."

Oralie nodded sadly. "You're right."

Sophie nodded, determined now. "Anytime you want to talk, come to me. Or Edaline. I'm sure she's up for it."

Oralie once again nodded, slowly this time, no wonder thinking about how she was getting all this support from a child. "Yes. Yes, I think I will do that."

Sophie smiled. "Good for you."

"Councillor Oralie!" Alina huffed from the front. "A word."

Oralie sighed with contempt, so that only Sophie could see. Then she shrugged, squared her shoulders, and shot Sophie a grim smile before leaving.

Sophie watched her go, pleased with how open Oralie was starting to be with her. Oralie had always been one of the nicer Councillors, most of the time siding with Sophie.

But their relationship was opening a new door. A personal one.

Sophie glanced up to where the Tribunal Hall loomed over the group's head's.

Here we go, she thought.

Not that she had any reason to be afraid of sorting things out with the council.

But she was about done with tribunals.

They'd been there every step of the way, and Sophie simply wanted to step over them.

Unfortunately, it seemed they were unavoidable.

So, she took a deep breath, held her head high, and stumbled through the large entryway. Because their group was so small, and it wasn't necessarily a tribunal, more of a meeting-to-discuss, all of them––including the council––sat in the seats of the audience.

As Sophie took her seat and readied for a long upcoming hour, a gentle, encouraging voice rang in her head.

I'll be waiting.

Sophie smiled.

Maybe not so long.

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