a shadow will overthrow it

Trigger Warning: death themes


She passes a full month in agony, alone.

It is impossible not to think of him. She thinks of him when her eyes flutter open in the mornings, to the watery light seeping through the drapes, to the memory of his hands cupped around her face. She thinks of him as she dresses, so often choosing green. She thinks of him when she takes her meals, sometimes with others in Mordred’s court but more often alone, lost to the fixations of her own mind. Orestes chides her for it, tires of the relentless melancholy that slips into their psychic bond like a sad song playing in the next room. They become poor neighbors, constantly at odds.

Electra does not care what her familiar thinks. She could not stop thinking of Jack if she tried.

And she has tried. It should be easier, now that he does not stand before her. It is not easier. Somehow her longing only increases with each interminable week, festering like an untended wound. Her heart aches with it, heavy with some invisible weight.

She does not know that he watches her. If she had known, it might have brought her some comfort – that despite her inability to conjure him, he had still somehow conjured her. That he could feel her magic’s steady pulse, working in the background and the space between them. Perhaps she would have spoken to him, or to the empty room in hopes he’d hear.

Perhaps, if she had, it would not have become his prison.

But she is silent as she prepares herself for sleep, arms upraised above her head to free her hair from their complicated braids, scattering golden hairpins on the vanity before her. Her dark robe is loose around her body, tied imprecisely with a sash around her waist. The emerald she had used to tempt him hangs against her sternum, just above her breasts – she has taken to wearing it constantly. It is a poor symbol for him. She thinks of this as it catches her eye in the mirror, glinting in the candlelight, reminding her of that failed attempt to distract him from his misbegotten quest. It is a better emblem of her own regret.

In the sharpness of her remorse, she does not feel her magic swell and snag against him. But she feels it a moment later, thickening the air with an anticipatory weight, as if lightning were about to strike.

“Jack,” she breathes, her rare smile so brilliant it illuminates her face. The relief in her voice makes his name nearly break on a sob. But she is controlled, even in her joy – has been conditioned to keep a tight rein on herself, never letting her heart run too far ahead of her. As she turns toward him, her hands move to straighten the robe around her chest. “I was worried I might never see you again,” she begins, but falters when she sees his face.

His posture is all wrong; his expression is all wrong. His words are even worse.

For a moment she can only sit dumbly, a frown tightening around her lips, her eyes, as she attempts to process his accusations. Electra is barely familiar with dogs, but even without an encyclopedic knowledge of fairy idioms, it is clear that the comparison is meant to be scathing.

“I have no subjects.” It is the most meaningless correction, barely brushing the surface of what was wrong with his statements. What has she done, to deserve his scorn? She has waited for him, pined for him like a silly child, thought of little else but him in the weeks since their last meeting. And while it is true she has tried to call to him, has been reaching for him with her magic as if reaching through an insensate void, praying she might somehow seize upon a thread strong enough to pull, it has been useless effort. She does not know why they are connected now, and not before.

“I cannot summon you. I no longer know how. And I have never asked you for loyalty, much less tested it. I have asked nothing of you–” but here she stops, because there is one thing she asked of him. Her lips part around the breath she draws, sharp and sudden, as if he struck her. Then they shut again, form a hard line. Her eyes spark that fire for which she had been named.

“You didn’t stop,” she hisses, standing abruptly. The robe sinks under its own weight, drawn tight and low over her shoulders, resisting the force of the fists clenched beneath her breasts. There is a room’s length between them, but it feels like an uncrossable chasm in that moment – a distance of miles, not strides. He had not stopped; he had kept looking. Against her pleas, against her warnings, against her wishes. She’d begged him, confided in him, and here he stood spiteful and defiant, as if he had a right to know. As if he had a right. “I made only one request. Was one too much?”

She takes a single step towards him, thinks better of it. Her posture is so stiff she may as well have been carved from marble. Perhaps that would have made her more like the goddesses he compared her to.


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