A Demon's Regret
Lola froze at my touch, and the young black and white cat flicked his ears back in disapproval. The moment seemed to last for an eternity. At last, she pulled the music-making wires from her ears, and looked about until she saw me behind her. Her eyes sprung wide and she blinked, dropping her book to the floor.
I smiled feebly, terrified, unsure what to say. The others had been so much easier, but not this. Not my nightingale.
She returned my smile, and her eyes began to water, as did mine. But what she finally said cut right to the point. She shook her head, “Andy… how are you here? Are you alright?”
I forced a wide grin. “Will you not embrace me, after so long?”
Lola stood and walked to me slowly before hugging me firmly about the waist. I could sense her conflict, her fear, and, devastatingly, a small ray of hope. I closed my eyes and wrapped my arms around her, allowing myself just a moment of happy reunion before I pressed on. I was careful not to damage either the roses or bones.
She pulled back and led me by the hand to sit next to her on the divan. “Now, Andy. Talk.” I should have expected her to be so straightforward. She never had been one to prevaricate.
I set Lola’s bones on the table, and held out the roses to her. “I swore to you that I would keep these safe for you. I have never forgotten that promise. Please take them; they are yours. I have also brought the bones from your wings. They belong with you.”
She accepted the roses carefully. Her eyes brimmed with unshed tears as she went to put them somewhere before returning, her composure fully regained. She tilted her head to the side with a small smile, “You haven’t answered my questions.”
I ran my hands through my hair, needing the soothing feel of the strands against my claws. “I am here solely with the intervention of the Creator. It’s a long story, my n…” I swallowed the pet name that had come so easily, unbidden, to my lips. It was wrong, now that I was in love with another woman.
I scowled, more ashamed for all I’d done than ever before. Lola waited patiently, her dark, brown eyes searching mine. “I want you to know that, the moment I leapt from my window, I regretted it.”
Not wanting her to get the wrong idea, as I felt her flicker of hope gain strength, I rushed ahead awkwardly. “Lols, I know what love is, now. I do love you, but not as you love me. I love you like family, like one loves a friend.”
She pressed her lips together firmly and nodded just slightly, but I could taste the acrid flavor of her inner, emotional reaction. It was the most terrible thing I could remember ever tasting. “I’m so sorry! Apologies aren’t enough, I know, but I’ve come to beg your forgiveness for my terrible treatment-“
Lola cocked her head. “-What? But why?Y ou only did exactly as expected. I knew what would happen, you did not deceive me.”
A bleak despair gripped my throat in spiny fingers. “Because, of thousands, perhaps millions of women, you were the most unworthy of such a terrible fate. My hubris and lack of empathy led me to disregard your welfare; I thought only of myself, until it was far too late.”
She smiled softly at me. “Still, you have yet to fully answer my questions. Can you tell me how and why you are here? I hadn’t anticipated ever seeing you again.”
I stupidly hadn’t thought through what to tell her of (Y/N). I wanted so much to avoid hurting her any further. I shifted in my seat, uncomfortable in the extreme with the harvest I had sown and was now reaping.
I swallowed. “I…”
Lola angled her head to the side again and raised an eyebrow slightly, “You’re in love, aren’t you?”
I took her delicate hands in my cumbersome clawed ones, panicking. “Please, I am so sorry for what I’ve done! If I could take it back, I would.”
Lola smiled gently and pulled her hands from mine. I didn’t miss the flicker in her gaze, or the taste of her pained envy. “It’s alright; I’m happy for you. Tell me all about it, Andy.”
My shoulders drooped. The weight of my deeds had finally become too great to bear. I should rot in the Pits for this, not –
The fluffy, young, black and white cat surprised me by leaping gracefully onto my lap from the floor. Grateful, I gave him a pet between his tufted ears, and he began to purr.
Lola beamed happily, “That’s Vlad. He seems to have taken a liking to you.”
I smiled, taking in the moment of simple happiness. I could taste the love Lola had for the young fellow. He started making little muffins on my thigh.
Her grin widened. “Isn’t he handsome?”
I admired his glossy coat, neither excessively long nor short. “He has beautiful, green eyes, and impressively tufted ears.”
Lola nodded, the proud parent. I sighed, realizing that I could only fawn over Vlad for so long. I absently continued petting him, for reassurance, as I talked. “You’re right, Lols. Of course you are. I fell in love with a woman I am in a contract with.” She raised a questioning eyebrow, doubtless wondering how I could still be in a contract if I wasn’t by (Y/N)’s side.
I chewed at my lips for a moment before continuing. “I’ve just learned that I am the trueborn son of Lucifer and a human woman. It’s why he has always favored me so. After my youth at home, my memories were hidden, so I could become a demon, and not be an outcast. It was my choice.”
She wasn’t nearly as surprised as I had figured she would be, and motioned for me to go on. “My father saw that I was in an unfavorable situation, feeling as I did for my mark, and spoke to the Allfather on my behalf. They made an agreement.”
I scratched at Vlad’s head, to gather my courage. “As atonement, I must beg forgiveness from each of the still living women that I have under contract-“
I was surprised when Lola interrupted me. “-But you’ll starve! Are you-“
I raised a hand. “-My grandfather has kept my belly full. You are the very last, I have already seen all the others.”
Before she could speak, I soldiered ahead. “Lola, our contract is now broken. You can love again, find someone noble and deserving of your affections. It’s what I wish for you, after I have caused you, above of all, so much suffering.”
Lola smiled sadly. “If it makes you feel less guilt-ridden, I have had a few intervals of sweetness in my exile. I have come across a handful of compelling, almost lovable humans. I have come to understand that special thing that makes humans the most precious of Tetragrammatons’s creatures. Now that I know you have a human mother, I understand that this trace of humanity was precisely what made me love you in the first place.”
I shook my head. “The only things that can assuage my guilt in the slightest are your forgiveness for how I have wronged you, and seeing you happy.”
I cleared my throat, and Vlad leapt from my lap, instinctively sensing that the moment was meant to be private. “Lola, do you forgive me?” During the entirety of this insane quest, never had I cared so greatly for the answer to that question.
She looked at me as though it were the silliest question in the world, merriment in her eyes. “Of course.”
My vision flared, filled with a glare so bright it surpassed mere light. My eyes watered, but I couldn’t close them, couldn’t move or hear a single sound. I panicked and tried to cry out, but my lungs wouldn’t obey. Then, as quickly as the change had started, normalcy was restored, leaving me panting, terrified, and disoriented.
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