I was sitting on the sofa, close enough to Aria to admire the smell of her hair, just talking. She reached up and touched my cut lip lightly.
“Y’all better stop pissin’ people off – you’re pretty cut up!”
I smiled and rubbed my forehead – I rarely ever felt like I needed any rest, but since I smashed the Soulsphere it was as if something was dragging me back into darkness, making me tired. I looked up and laughed at something Aria said, when suddenly my eyes were drawn from her face and focused on two figures appearing out of nowhere behind her.
I stood abruptly, knocking my glass to the floor. The blood spread and soaked into the floorboards. I saw Kyoshiro approaching me, and he was holding her hand. I thought it must have been one of my memories but then Kyoshiro spoke and everyone around me gasped at his presence. If he was there then Clara really must be too.
“Sylvester, I met someone you should talk to.”
Clara was more beautiful than I ever remembered her before. Her black hair tumbled over her white shoulders and she raised her icy grey eyes to meet mine. There was a golden glow around her – she was, after all, a Pureblood, and in the realm of God all angels shone. I stumbled towards her and threw myself at her feet.
“Rise, my Sylvester.”
I did as she commanded and gazed horrified into her devastating, striking eyes.
Then I caught sight of two red marks on her pale neck. The only imperfection – and they were left by me. She nodded serenely. “Yes – they are yours. A reminder of what can become of those you spurn. I am deeply sorry.”
“No!” I burst out. “No, Clara – you have nothing to apologise for – I can never forgive myself, and it is I who needs to apologise.”
She laughed and closed her eyes. “Returning me to heaven is not something you should apologise for.” She pressed her forehead to mine, like she had always done in life. She was cold, but still very real.
I had never felt so alive since I had died.
“How are you here?”
“Kyoshiro – a friend of yours – brought me to you. We can see everything from heaven – and you are in need of great help.”
I held her to me and whispered over and over my apologies. “You have no idea how long I have waited to see you to let you know how I feel.”
“I know. Every time you think of me I feel it. But lately I believe you have thought less of me…” She trailed off, her eyes settling on Aria across the room.
“Her name is Aria.”
“A talented girl I believe.” She met my eyes again. I was still in awe at her beauty. “And you have to move on somehow.”
“No – I won’t have you leave me again!”
She shot me a warning look. “Sylvester – I belong in heaven now. You have a duty to remain here. I won’t hear of you trying to kill yourself any longer.”
I was bound to obey her so I promised. “I have one question.”
“Heaven – can I ever get there? I believed we, all of us, were damned. And after what I have done I don’t feel I deserve to reside there for eternity.” I felt a lump rising in my throat and I choked back tears. “Can I ever be forgiven?”
“Sylvester! The very fact that you feel guilt, and have asked for forgiveness means that you can be.” She kissed my forehead lightly. “And you will be, in time.”
Just then Kyoshiro arrived at my side – it seemed too soon for him to take her back. But instead of taking her away he explained to me what exactly I had done when I destroyed the Soulsphere. Without giving any of us much chance to disagree, he condensed his soul and suddenly I held the Soulsphere in my hand again. He had sacrificed his soul for my happiness, and for that I would be forever in his debt. “Thank you.” I whispered and the Soulsphere glowed.
Harmony approached, her cheeks were tear stained but she seemed determined. “Could I go with you, I'd like to help collect the souls. In my experience you need a small team for something like this.”
I wanted to laugh but nothing came out. All of those souls – thousands of them – I had released them all. And now they were all after me. I merely nodded at Harmony – for once I didn’t think I could do this alone.
I turned back to Clara – every time I saw her she took my breath away. “Clara…”
“I will watch over you.” She drew me into a hug and whispered in my ear, “I can never resent those I have created. You are a gift to the world – and I will not let you become someone you aren’t. When I met you you were a sweet child. I see now that you have become a man.”
I drew back and took in the sight of her face. She made to take a step back but I snatched her to me and kissed her. This would be the last time. “Are you happy?”
“I am.” She assured me, and then she smiled. Her whole face lit up when she smiled and the room became bright as she returned to heaven. It was blinding, like when the Soulsphere had been destroyed, and I reluctantly shielded my eyes. When I opened them Clara was gone and a dull red sofa was in her place, spilled blood seeping into the rug.
Aria grabbed my arms and shook me. “Sylvester – hey, Sylvester – come here.” She spoke gently and I fell into her arms. “It’ll be ok, shh. Everything will be alright.”