A few years came and went in which Evadna grew quite attached to her home with Lord Albin. She grew and excelled at her craft, and her friendship with Lord Albin deepened and strengthened into a formidable bond, clearly visible to all. They were inseparable, running about the manor like regular scamps getting into all sorts of predicaments. Jaxon was often the only voice of reason when the two of them made plans to create havoc of one sort or another. Yet in the end, Jaxon often went along with them, however reluctantly.
Tragedy visited their happy existence one summer day, when Mallory was brought low by a severe illness. Days passed and Mallory’s health only declined. A week later, Evadna had to face the dawning reality that Mallory might not actually survive this. Evadna’s mother had been sent for, in the likelihood that this was really good-bye, but before Evadna’s mother could reach them, Mallory slipped away about midday.
In a fog, Evadna watched as Mallory’s dead body was taken away to prepare for burial. Numbly, she let herself be guided along to one place after another, dimly following orders. She couldn’t process what had just happened. She couldn’t believe the evidence of her eyes. Mallory could not be gone, she would live forever.
Lord Albin, now seventeen years of age, found her curled up by her favorite tree, staring unseeingly at the land before her. Quietly, he sat beside her and stared in the same direction she was looking in. They stayed like that for awhile, each lost in their own thoughts, until Evadna broke the silence.
“She said something strange to me the other day.”
Lord Albin watched her, remaining silent.
“She said love isn’t everything. When I asked her what she meant, she gave me that look.” Evadna turned her eyes on Lord Albin finally. “You know the one.”
“I do,” he said, thinking that her eyes had never looked so dark and deep as they did right now.
“Then she said that I would soon find out.”
Lord Albin shrugged his shoulders, reaching out to take her hand. “It’s Mallory, Eva. She always spoke that way. I wouldn’t let it bother you.”
Evadna stared into his face as if trying to discern something she wanted an answer to, then glanced down at her hand that he held. She was so much darker than him, her hands so much smaller. She found the contrast startling at times.
“What am I going to do?” she whispered.
“Stay with me,” he stated simply, but with an undercurrent in his voice that made her curious.
“But what about my magic? Who will train me now?”
“Father will find someone.”
Shaking her head, Evadna half-smiled. “You make it sound easy.”
“It is easy. You’re just trying to put female emotions into the mix.”
Evadna punched him in the shoulder good-naturedly. “There’s nothing wrong with being female.”
“I didn’t say there was. But it does muddle your thinking sometimes.”
Normally, Evadna would take this opportunity to jump into a lively, ridiculous debate on the merits of female emotions in daily decision-making, but she was too tired. Instead, she smiled and changed the subject.
“When do you think my mom will arrive?”
“Depends on the weather, the speed at which she travels, and the obstacles she might face in getting here.”
“Just in time for the funeral.”
“Yes, just in time.”