It was safe to say that Bob’s revelation had left me a little more than stunned.
The pieces started to come together in my head – the times she would unwittingly give me a compliment, and carefully retract or dismiss it. How she was always a little protective of me, always trying to include me with her group of friends. What she’d told me about her relationship with Eversio. How angry she’d been when she thought I’d been sleeping with Cupid. I’d attributed it all to friendliness. If it had been from a guy, I probably would have seen it differently.
I continued to go through rounds of shock. That she had been afraid to tell me, that I hadn’t seen it earlier, that the closest I’d gotten to an admission was a half-hearted joke at her deathbed. More than that, I had no idea how I felt about it.
I was sad, that was for sure. That I could have given the impression that I would have hated her for saying something. That we never had the chance to talk about it while she was alive. Even…that I’d never see what could have been.
I kept the news to myself. Myrrh’s blonde hair and blue eyes became even more startling and emotionally disruptive than before.
I just had to make it through a few more days.
“To peace, to renewal, and to hope for both our nations for eons to come!”
Everyone cheered at Lucifer’s toast and promptly took a swig from their glasses.
We were sitting at a gigantic dinner table in the main hall, eating together as a show of diplomacy and friendship. This was the last official day of negotiations. Everything had been battled out and printed, and all that remained were a few signatures for the sake of formality and ceremony.
Lucifer had given a rousing speech about the suffering of both nations, of the misunderstanding that had horrible consequences and of a vision of cooperation and strong ties between Hell and Purgatory. He was a born speaker. His words and expressions boomed out over us but addressed every individual. Lucifer could bring a room to tears or war with a few sentences.
I ate, and smiled and cheered as I had to. I watched Lucifer sign treaties with his swirling script, laughing and drinking. I watched a table full of camaraderie for as long as was polite, before ducking out of the hall and making my way to the roof.
It was oddly reminiscent of the roof of the castle in Hell. I sat at its edge, letting my feet dangle in the air and staring out at the landscape spread out beneath me.
The moon was out, and I stared at it, blinking.
A short time ago being on Earth would have been enough to make me cry with joy. I could probably have tried to find some way back home, but it seemed incredibly pointless.
I had no place there anymore. I didn’t know if I had a place anywhere.
I looked down and remembered the feeling of falling, of falling from the endless stairs to Hell, of falling from the castle after grappling with an assassin, of jumping after Eversio.
“I wouldn’t recommend jumping.”
I turned my head to see Myrrh standing a few yards back, her hair turned silver in the moonlight.
“I wouldn’t jump. Lucifer owns me until the end of time. Regardless of whether or not I’m dead.” I replied, “Shouldn’t you be down there, drinking or something?”
“They bore me. Could I join you, Zara?”
“Sure, why not.” I offered, scooting over.
She sat beside me and gazed out at the world.
“You did it.” She said simply, “You kept two hungry dogs from tearing each other’s throats out.”
“I guess. I had enough blood on my hands that I had to.”
“What’s on your mind?”
I blinked, glancing at her in mock surprise.
“No hiding with you, is there?” I asked, sighing.
“Not in the least.”
I looked at her, searching for words.
“Have you…ever realized that you could never be with someone, and just…wondered what it would be like if you could?”
She studied me for a second, holding out a hand.
I took it, uncertain of what was happening. Myrrh squeezed my hand, and I watched in shock as her features morphed into Manara’s.
“Now you can.” Myrrh-Manara smiled, amused by my stunned expression.
She stood, guiding me by the hand away from the edge.
Before I could ask any questions she pulled me close and kissed me. Or maybe I kissed her. I could feel the warmth of her body against mine in the cold and empty night. It felt good. But it also felt wrong.
I untangled myself from her, shaking my head.
“I’m sorry, Myrrh. This is…I can’t use you like this. You might think this is part of your job but I’m not going to…impose myself on you just because I outrank you.”
She brushed her hair out of her face, shaking her head like I had.
“This isn’t like that. I want this.”
I didn’t respond so she continued, her features morphing back.
“Me. I’ve never met anyone like you. You respect me as an equal, when most treat me like an animal. You have little to no interest in the simplistic and hedonistic wants of the residents of Hell, and of Earth. You don’t let your vices control you. You don’t have any…false pretenses.”
As I watched, her hair suddenly became jet-black and her eyes began changing colour.
“It’s time I told you the truth.” She sighed, “My name isn’t Myrrh.”