It was still the early hours of the morning, the sun hadn’t yet risen, but the compound was bustling. Apparently there was no rest to be had until Alanthra was avenged. Delilah knew only a handful of the fairies here, they had been her teachers and instructors at the East Fairy Academy. Now they were war-chiefs, thrown into the thick of it like the rest of the fairies of Alanthra.
“Christianna,” one of Delilah’s former instructors intercepted them just before they got back to the compound. “Everyone has gathered in the main tent. They’re only waiting on us.”
Thus far, there had been no word from the Capitol. The council had decided to retreat within their city, abandoning the rest of Alanthra to fend for themselves. He led Christianna away, leaving Delilah with yet another choice: Join the meeting with her people, or go straight to Jeffrey’s aid. Maybe once Jeffrey was safe she could join the fight, but how long would it take to free Alanthra again? How could she ever picture herself and Jeffrey being happy while there was a war going on? It broke her heart to think of her home and the comforts that she knew destroyed by an outsider such as the Dark Master. She ran to the stone garden where Jeffrey’s stone form was still standing. She fell to her knees at the base of his statue and sobbed. She felt the bulge in her pocket and remembered her Fae would not stay frozen forever. If she was going to try and save Jeffrey, now was the time. Delilah climbed onto the stone base that displayed Jeffrey as if he’d always been made of stone, and looked into his hollow gaze. She finally decided that hesitating wasn’t going to get her very far, even though she was nervous about performing Ceremonia Vitae for the first time hoping she’d succeed. She pushed all thoughts of failure out of her head and closed her eyes in concentration. She repeated the instructions Ginger had given her and placed both other hands over her heart. She thought about Jeffrey, and the want to save him, for him to be free from this disease. She felt something inside her start to stir, the familiar tugging feeling that she had experienced many times over the past few hours. It was just like Ginger had described it, it seemed as if a part of her was ripped from her body and transferred to someone else. ‘It was Jeffrey’ Delilah reminded herself and kept going, her strength draining from her every second. She brought her hands, which were glowing a soft purple, and placed them against Jeffrey’s chest. She didn’t think Ceremonia Vitae would take so much out of her. She fell to her knees at Jeffrey’s feet then fell to the ground unconscious.
Jeffrey took in a deep breath as if breathing for the first time. The gasp was enough to stir up some butterflies resting on a nearby peony bush. He stumbled forward before realizing he was a good two feet from the ground. He landed hard on his knees, the cold earth soaking into his jeans. With his vision blurry, his location remained a mystery. Was he still in the foothills of the Southern Mountains? The air certainly felt like mountain air, but not like where the Dark Master dwelt. This air smelt fresh and felt wet against his cheeks. Then he realized how great he felt, despite his lack of visibility. The condition that most stone fairies have had always taken a toll on him, but the serum the Dark Master had concocted has always suppressed the symptoms. But now it felt like the symptoms were gone altogether. His eyes began to refocus and Jeffrey caught sight of a figure of a girl lain across the garden path.
“Delilah?” Jeffrey asked in disbelief.
But how could it be? The last time he saw her, she told him to leave and that she never wanted to see him again. He had broken her trust when he told her he worked for the Dark Master, but hadn’t explained why very well at all. Which is why, on his way back to the Dark Master’s lair, he turned around and started back to Delilah. He knew full well that his stone powers would overtake him before he could reach Delilah, but he’d wanted to show her that he chose her over being used by the Dark Master in return for that temporary relief from his condition. And now her she lay, unconscious. He could only imagine that was his fault. He gathered her up in his arms so that she could rest against his chest, hoping she’d be okay. It was a long few minutes before she began to stir. Jeffrey gently sat her up and brushed some of her hair behind her ear.
“Delilah.” He could only manage a whisper.
Delilah’s eyes fluttered behind her eyelids, her senses coming back to her. Her eyes opened slightly enough to see Jeffrey’s smiling face, a look she remembered seeing on a rare occasion.
“It worked didn’t it? Tell me you’re really there.” Delilah said with difficulty.
“I’m really here Delilah. Here, I’ll prove it to you.” Jeffrey replied and grabbed Delilah’s hand, placing it against his cheek.
Delilah felt that heat had returned to his cheeks, and ran her fingers through his long hair where the dew now clung to it. Tears returned to Delilah’s eyes, and Jeffrey held her closer and tighter while she wept.
“I thought I’d never see you again.” Jeffrey said.
“I know.” Delilah said, wiping some tears from her eyes. “And I didn’t want to just see you everyday.” She wrapped her hand gently around his neck and drew him into a warm kiss.
He held her there for a moment before pulling away. “I suppose that means you forgive me.”
“Yes, I do. I love you Jeffrey.”
Jeffrey smiled again in the same genuine way that told Delilah he loved her too. He pulled her close and kissed her again. The sun had just began to rise up over the surrounding mountains, and they both wished this moment could last forever, but when Delilah filled him in on all that had happened since the Dark Master took over he knew this was a fight he had to be a part of. He was filled with the need for justice against the man he once called father.