Unlike Griff, I couldn’t see the future. I knew my mother was fading, but I never expected her to go so suddenly, like a flower wilting overnight.
My aunt and grandparents’ grief was difficult to watch.
I was fortunate to have Griff and Lani. I couldn’t imagine ever losing either one of them…
But my father…who did he have? His pain was too raw for me to be able to gaze upon it for long.
She was my mother, and yet…I felt like her loss belonged to him most of all. I didn’t know how to talk to him, to comfort him. I didn’t think I could help.
As in life, he rarely left her side…
Clem came much later…and she wasn’t alone. I knew that fae–but the words he spoke to her now were as soft and gentle as rose petals.
I wanted to talk to her. I did. But as with my father, I didn’t know how. So she left, and we grieved separately.
Griff, Lani and I all had interests and obligations of our own, but we agreed that although we each might be alone on occasion, we’d ensure that no one would ever be lonely. When Lani was with her family, he made sure to stay with me…
Griff was strong. Stronger than me. But he could be gentle when the situation called for it.
And less gentle when it didn’t. “I’ll kiss you because Lani can’t right now,” he said. “And you need it, I guess.”
I laughed. It felt good to laugh. “You’re too kind, my prince.”
His lips weren’t as soft as Lani’s, but I enjoyed them all the same.
But when I got to spend some time alone with Lani, I only wanted to show her my smiling face. Not because I didn’t want her to see my pain, but because it helped, seeing her happy and carefree. So much of her shyness around us had dissipated over the years…
I was grateful, because her bare skin was the perfect canvas.
“It tickles,” she said. “It’s hard to sit still…”
“I’m almost finished, my love,” I promised.
“There’s a couple like us in this story,” Lani said. “Well, not a couple, because there are three, and two of them are women, but…they all love each other.”
“I’ll have to read it myself,” I said. “Or you could read it to me while I bathe…”
“…I thought you said fae can’t bathe alone or they’ll turn into flower petals and fly away at the first breeze.”
“That does sound like something I’d say.”
But she was always very forgiving when I kissed her–or maybe she only forgot why she was scolding me in the first place.
“I should use you as my canvas for every painting.”
“But then they won’t last forever,” she protested, “and I love the beautiful things you paint.”
She never believed me when I told her how beautiful she was, thinking me a flirt.
“I’m sad Griff is elsewhere today,” I said, “but that doesn’t mean I won’t take full advantage of our time alone together…”
But my favorite times were when all three of us were together. My cares always seemed to melt away…
…Even if my loves didn’t always appreciate my sense of humor or wilder romantic overtures.
But we always appreciated each other.
It was only natural to make our bond official, even if it made us an oddity among the fae…
My prince and husband; my lovely, tender-hearted wife…
I married them both, envisioning an ever-blooming daisy chain instead of cool metal bonds that constricted too tightly.
Life is a cycle. Vibrant blooms withered, only for new life to replace them once more.
And three blossoms sprouted from two life-granting seeds…
Our poor, slender wife, carrying both husbands’ three babies at once; she wouldn’t let me paint her then, even if I’d thought she never looked more beautiful.
But she let me paint her after they were born, if they’d sit still long enough for me to capture them.
It didn’t matter how much they moved, because I’d forever see them in my mind’s eye. Each one was etched upon my heart, regardless of who sired them.
Griff was a more nervous father than I, though he tried to hide it in front of Lani.
“I see a garden,” he said, “but I don’t know what it means. My visions are usually clearer…like watching dumb human TV, not weird symbolic stuff or whatever.”
“We’re surrounded by beautiful gardens, Griff. We’re fae.”
“But our kids are more. I want to know what the future holds for them, I guess.” He looked over at them, where they played under Lani’s intent supervision. “I see a garden cast in shadow… One corner is completely charred, but then it storms and a single green sprout pushes its way through the wet ashes.”
He took a deep breath. “Another has two beautiful flowers wrapped around each other, so tightly it’s like they’re choking each other, until one flower finally dies–but then a new flower blooms nearby. And in the other, there’s a little bird trying to find a seed that rolled out of the garden, but it’s too far away and the bird keeps crying…”
“That’s enough, Griff.”
“But what if it means something terrible? What if it’s something we can fix if we know about it?”
“We’re parents, not prophets–even you, my prince, who sees glimpses of the future. Let’s enjoy this time we have with them now. A fae king and a vampire queen, her human sister and a fae duke…if our parents had listened to the warnings, we never would’ve been born.”
“But your mother–”
“My mother loved who she loved, despite the consequences. I think we should grant our children the same right. They’ll make their own mistakes, in love and in life. We can only be there for them when they do.”
Yes, I’d treasure this time with our children…
And tend to this beautiful garden, with such precious blooms.
The future would come, as it always did, but I would live in the present with the ones I loved.