Jay pulled his shirt on.
Maelin smiled and ran her fingers through his rumpled up hair, trying to smooth it down.
“It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. Isellta won’t care what my hair looks like.”
“I know, but I love how it feels.”
He closed his eyes.
“I love how you feel.”
“Can’t we just stay in here a little longer? Can’t we just hide our heads and pretend that nothing is happening?”
“Is that what you really want to do?”
He opened his eyes. “Yes.”
She shook her head. “You love Isellta too much to abandon him when he needs you the most.”
“Come on, sweetheart. We’re both adequately dressed. Let’s pick up our shoes and get out of here.”
Jay held her hand as they headed back to their bedroom. There was a simple understanding between them. He didn’t talk and she didn’t push her peace dragon magic at him.
“Not all grief is bad, Mael Yinga. Sometimes—” Her father sat on her bed. “—it is a good thing. Sometimes it is needed. But there are times when it needs to be put under control.”
“How will I know which time is which?”
“Instincts. You are not a full peace dragon, but you still have the instincts of one. You will know when the time is right to step in with your magic.”
When Isellta dies, I will have to step back. That is the right time for grief. It is expected. It is natural. It would be unhealthy for him to not cry.
Jay kept his head facing forward. He said nothing.
He just kept walking.
They stopped at his bedroom door.
I’m not ready for this.
He squeezed her hand. “I’m not ready.”
She said nothing. She simply waited.
“Maybe I’m. Maybe. Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe we still have one more day with him. Maybe one more night. It’s possible.” He looked at her. “Right?”
“Good.” Jay opened the door and entered the room. He tensed up as soon as he saw Preyuna standing beside Isellta’s bed. “You.” He released Maelin’s hand and marched over to the fey queen. “Get out. Now.”
She looked up at him.
The sadness on her face took the guard by surprise. He took a step back. “What?” His chest tightened. “Is…is he—-”
“He’s still alive, guard, but he will be dead by the end of tonight.”
Jay’s arms flailed out as he tried to find something, anything, to grab onto. “Wha?”
“If you don’t believe me, look at him. Just look at him.”
Jay followed her direction. He felt like someone had punched him in the gut and knocked him hard in the middle of his back. He grabbed onto the mattress and bowed his head.
Isellta’s color was gone. Even his hair color was more white than blond. He struggled to breathe in between convulsions.
“What do I do? What can I do? There has to be something I can do. I need to do something. I have to do something. I can’t do nothing.”
“Stupid guard. He’s dying. This is what it looks like when a fey is dying.” Her voice softened. “Trust me. I know.”
Jay cried out and dropped to his knees. “Oh, God! Oh.”
“I’m sorry. There’s nothing either of us can do but let him go.”