It didn't take long for Lillian to cry herself to sleep. Over the last month, she had become a dear friend and I hurt for her. My anger for Elder Donne, while still there, was now pushed below. Being constantly angry towards him would get me absolutely nowhere.
We stayed in the attic until my father found us about half an hour later. Lillian was curled up in a ball on the floor, her head in my lap, and the painting pressed against her chest. I was running my fingers through her hair, brainstorming different ways to get green in the castle when he cleared his throat. I smiled.
"I didn't mean to upset her," he said quietly, leaning against a tower of boxes and staring at her sadly.
"It wasn't you," I promised and grimaced. "It's Elder Donne. He's not been very... understanding of her race." I glared at the floor. "He's only letting her eat two meals a day."
My father gaped at me. "Surely elves need more than that!"
"Yes," I said. "When it comes to nourishment, they're much like humans except they don't eat meat as often. She needs three meals, Father." I shook my head. "One painting isn't enough, either. We need to get more green in here."
"Elder Donne has already said he won't allow it," he said and I glared at him, my fangs extended.
"I don't give a fuck what Elder Donne allows and doesn't allow. I'm getting green in this castle even if it means being punished. He's taking too much from her as it is."
He sighed and looked at the sleeping elf in my lap. He rubbed his chin.
"Did you tell her about the gardens?"
I nodded. "She panicked. She thought you were showing her as if that's what they always look like. When she wakes up and we get more than just a brownie in her, we'll take her to them."
"That sounds like a good idea. But, as much as I hate to say this, we can't budge on the meals. We can make them large, though, if that will help her."
I sighed, willing my fangs to retreat again.
"I don't like this, Father. I don't like this one bit."
"Your mother and I don't, either," he said.
"Why didn't you tell me you were the union of the humans and vampires?" I asked, getting a little more comfortable. "I knew she was a mute but not that."
"It's like I said," he answered. "It wasn't important before. When Elder Donne came back from the session and told us you had been chosen, we both agreed it was time to tell you. I love your mother more than anything in my life. I don't care if she was a human or if she is a mute."
I nodded thoughtfully, my hand coming to rest on Lillian's shoulder.
"Why did you turn her?"
"She asked me," he whispered and I looked at him in shock. "She has a painful past, dear son. When we fell in love, I didn't want to live a day without her. The feeling was mutual."
"How did you know? Did you read her mind?"
"No. We have built a way to communicate with each other over time," he explained. "You and Lillian will do the same."
Before I could answer, Lillian woke up. She rubbed her eyes and my father smiled kindly at her.
"Hello," he said. "Are you feeling better?" She just nodded. "We were thinking we'd get you some lunch then go to the gardens. I'd love to see your gift in action."
She smiled sheepishly as I helped her stand up.
"I haven't used it much," she said as we walked back downstairs.
I stopped a servant and handed him the painting.
"Please put this in my bedchambers."
"Yes, Prince Roan."
I nodded and we went to the dining room. My mother and Lethan were already there. Shortly after, Elder Donne walked in and I glared at him. Lillian didn't look at him, though. She kept her eyes fixed on her plate. She ate quickly which didn't surprise me since she didn't get breakfast.
"So, Prince Roan," Elder Donne began and I gripped my fork. "Today you have a list of duties and-"
"I'm going to the gardens first," I interrupted and he glared at me briefly. I knew he was holding back in front of my parents. "We will meet you in my office once we are done there."
"Very well," he said and glanced at Lillian before returning to his meal.
Lillian looked uncomfortable as we entered the greenhouse. Her lower lip quivered at the sight of the dead plants. She walked to the closest one and I watched as she ran a finger down one of the dead leaves. She whispered something in her native tongue. I watched, fascinated, as her hand glowed green and the glow surrounded the dead plant. She smiled as the plant slowly revived.
There was a tinkling noise and the plant looked like it had just sprouted.
"Oh, that's wonderful!" my father cried, walking over with my mother. "How is it possible?"
Lillian caressed the leaves of the next plant, whispering those words again.
"Each elf was blessed by Adelpha with the ability to heal her plant life," Lillian explained. "We can heal any plant but it takes some time and practice. I can only heal two plants a day."
"Because I was a hunter," she answered. "If I had chosen to be a plant healer, then I would have communed with Adelpha to receive her blessings to do more than two. My friend, Tilly, was a plant healer."
I wrinkled my nose. "Not the one who was eating with that Trevor?"
She laughed a little. "No. That one was Opal."
My mother looked at my father and made a few gestures. He nodded and looked to Lillian again.
"Faith wants to know who Adelpha is."
"She is the Mother of all elves," Lillian explained, accepting my arm as we left. "She created elves and everything in our realm. She is our goddess," she said with a small smile. "Do you have anything like that in the human realm?"
I was surprised that Lillian spoke to my mother as if she could speak. It made me feel better, too. It showed that Lillian was more interested in my mother than making fun of her or being scared of her. I didn't know the answer so I paid attention to my mother's gestures. I couldn't understand them but my father did without a problem.
"He is called God," he told her and Lillian nodded. "He created all things in the human realm and seeks a relationship with each human. He is a kind and loving creator."
She nodded slowly. "He sounds like Adelpha."
"You are very open to different gods," my father observed.
"I've always been interested in other cultures," she said.
We paused outside of my study and I glared at the door.
"Would you like to sit with me or spend time with my parents?" I asked though I knew the answer.
Lillian glanced at the door then my parents.
"Your parents," she said softly.
"I understand," I said, feeling the guilt coming from her. I kissed her cheek. "I'll find you when I'm done in here."
She nodded and took my father's other arm at his prompting. I waited until they were down the hall then walked in. Elder Donne was waiting for me and I glared at him, slamming the door shut behind me. I sat down at my desk and leaned back.
"You speak of my duties but I know that's not your real desire," I said bluntly. "What do you want?"
"I know you are planning on bringing green into this castle," he said quietly. "You will not."
"Yes I will," I argued. "She needs it or she will go insane."
"This isn't about what she wants or needs," Elder Donne snapped. "This is about her duty as a woman!"
I leaned forward and put my elbows on my desk.
"Tell me: how do you think the elves would respond should they find out what you're doing to Lillian?"
He scoffed. "They won't find out. I forbid you to tell them."
"Oh, I won't," I said in a dangerously quiet voice. "But I can't stop Lillian or my parents from speaking. And you certainly can't stop her. She may have accepted this arrangement, but she is an elf, not a vampire. She does not have to obey all your commands."
"What do you want?" he snapped.
I pointed at him. "You will bring green in here. And you will definitely let her continue to commune with her goddess."
"No," he said immediately. "She will commune with Caricus from now on."
"Are you insane?" I hissed. "She's an elf, Donne. Caricus will not accept her. Surely even you are smart enough to understand that."
Elder Donne's fangs extended as he stood up. He crossed his arms as I stood, too.
"She may have green," he said. "But she is not to commune with her goddess. Besides, there is not a statue in our realm."
I glared at him. "You're going to regret these decisions, Elder Donne," I said.