"I hope you donít mind, dear, but, I brought you a house warming present." Darius found himself listening intently to the voice of the woman who had purchased him. He wondered if the daughter was as boringly Mortal as the mother. When the voice came, it was a sweet sound to his ears.
"Thanks, Mum. You really didnít have to bring me anything." Darius trembled with an excitement he could barely contain. He knew that voice. He had heard it before. Many times he had listened to the little smartass explain this and that to her friends, and upon occasion, even his son.
Celeste Swansong! Of course! That was why the other ladyís unruly curls and flashing eyes had seemed so familiar! Darius silently thanked the powers that be for the mercy they had seen fit to show upon him. Surely, Miss Swansong would be able to see my face in the mirror and would know how to reach Krystov. Then, he would know freedom again! "Nonsense," her mother chirped happily. "This mirror will look stunning above the mantle."
"Oh..." Darius could hear a vague sense of disappointment in Celesteís voice. "You brought a mirror?"
Mrs Swansong turned and regarded her daughter for a moment. "Yes, well, it is a beautiful antique, and I just thought that it would look lovely here."
Celeste sighed and returned her attention to the book in her hands. "I am sure you are right mother." Her voice dropped lower, making it impossible for Darius to hear her soft mumble. Suddenly, Darius was almost blinded as the wrapping paper was torn away from him. Stepping forward, he looked out to gage his new surroundings. Actually, he was quite impressed by what he saw.
Celesteís mother had seen fit to place him in a room that was obviously a cozy little library. A warm fire burned in the hearth below him, and an easy chair rested a few feet away from it. A desk was at the far side of the room. There were several books stacked upon it.
Hesitantly, Darius stepped up to the mirrorís edge and gazed out into the room. Celeste sat in the easy chair, running her hand along the page of her book, oblivious to the mirror. He observed her intently for a few moments. For some reason, although her fingers seemed to be following the words, her eyes did not seem focused on the page.
However, it wasnít until her mother spoke that the reason for her strange behavior dawned on him. "Just because you have lost your eyesight, does not mean that your guests have. Your friends might appreciate something that is pleasing to the eye here." She smiled as she moved to kiss Celesteís cheek. "And besides... this is not a permanent situation. You will regain your eyesight one day."
Celeste huffed a sound of discontent and snapped the book closed before turning towards her mother. "You have been saying that since the final battle, but there has been no change! Mum, I love you," her voice had risen at first, but softened as she addressed the older woman softly, "but I am never going to regain my sight. Itís been two years. Iím all right the way I am. Iím even fairly content. At least I havenít lost my memory, like Krystov, or my arm, like Justin. Or even my life..." she paused for a moment to sigh regretfully, "like Nathaniel."
Darius drew a sharp breath at the mention of Krystov. Lost his memory? But that would mean... Darius took a deep breath to try and calm himself. That is why he never came back to free me. Someone spelled my son. Concern made him want to ask her a million questions. Was he recovering? Did he still have the manor? Was he happy?
Celesteís mother shook her head and rose to her full height. "I was told they never found his body. For all we know, Nathaniel isnít dead. Youíll see! Heíll come back one of these days."
Dariusí attention was drawn back to Celeste when she violently tossed the book sheíd been holding in her motherís direction. "Mother! Nathaniel has been gone for two years! Krystov canít remember anything that happened before the blast that hit The Shadow and Nathaniel as they dueled."
She stopped and took a ragged breath before continuing in a gentler tone, "If it hadnít been for Justin holding him back when it hit, he more than likely would have lost his life, too!"
Grace Swansong slumped slightly and looked away from the sightless girl. "I know what is said, Celeste. But I also know that if you cannot cling to some semblance of hope, then you might as well have died along with the others that lost their lives that day." Tears flooded the older womanís eyes. "Sometimes, I think you wish you had."
Without another word, Grace turned and exited her daughterís home, leaving Celeste standing alone in the center of the room. Darius worked hard to calm his racing heart. Krystov had been injured in one of the worst ways. Leaning against the glass of the mirror, he turned to stare at the witch that could not see him even if he was visible to witches and wizards.
Watching as she bent to begin searching for her discarded book, he spoke to himself; for he doubted there was any chance that she could hear him. "Well, at least he isnít dead."
A startled gasp came from the young woman who had been kneeling on the carpet. His eyes turned back to see her grasping her magic and turning in slow circles, as if searching for an intruder in the dark. "Whoís here?"