“Isellta?” Maelin stopped beside him. “Do you want to come with me?”
He shook his head. “I want to stay with Jay.”
She smiled. “I can’t blame you. If I were given the same choice, I’d stay with him too.”
Isellta flapped his wings.
“I’ll be back.”
Jay gave the monitors a quick look before walking over to Maelin. “Be careful.”
She kissed him. “I will. Good luck.”
“Better luck to you.”
She smiled and left the room.
Isellta looked up at Jay. He noticed the subtle change in the guard’s expression as Maelin left.
He’s disappointed that she’s leaving him. No. It’s more than that. He wishes that he could go with her, but he can’t because of me.
“If it weren’t for you, I would be respected. No one would see me the way they do now…as the mother of a half-fey.”
Isellta twisted his fingers. “But I’m not half. I’m whole.”
“Show me one fey in our schie a kehn who believes that.”
“Da does.” he said softly.
“He doesn’t count.” Her expression hardened. “I’ll be glad when our schie a kehn sends you away.”
His wings flared out. “What? They wouldn’t. Da won’t let them.” His fingers went still. “You won’t let them?” He ended the sentence with a hopeful lilt.
Her expression did not change. “Like I said, I’ll be glad to send you away.”
Isellta drew his shoulders forward.
Momma, do you miss me? Do you ever think about me?
Or are you still glad that I’m gone?
Jay rumpled up Isellta’s hair. “It’s just you and me again, kid.”
“I’m sorry, Jay.”
Isellta sighed. “If you don’t want to stay with me…if you’d rather go with Maelin—-”
“Hey.” Jay crouched. “Look at me, kid.”
“I’m right where I want to be. I’m here with you.” Jay smiled. “And you’re alive. You’re awake. Isellta, you don’t know how much that means to me. To see you look at me. To talk to you and have you talk back to me. To see you smile. To see your wings flap.”
Jay shifted his weight. “Yeah, I wanna go with her to protect her. But it’s okay. I’m okay, kid. Don’t go beating yourself up. I’m fine with staying behind with you. I want to help you find Robin. I want to see your reaction when you finally see him.”
Isellta hugged him.
I don’t deserve his kindness. But if I said that out loud, he’d disagree. I know he would.
Momma would say that I was right. She’d say a worthless waste of space like me doesn’t deserve anything good.
Jay would tell her that she’s wrong.
Who would be right?