Daniel was no longer having seizures, but he was confined to bed rest until he could stand without falling back down. As I didn’t have anything to do on Friday, I decided to leave Reality to stay with him during his recovery, leaving Kaya to her own devices. For the past few days, Daniel’s room was occupying the space that was my room, another piece of Delirium occupying Reality. Only this one have me a large headache. It was helpful when I was busy and needed to check in on Daniel without blacking out, but now all it gave me was a giant pain in the neck.
On Friday, I woke up in Daniel’s chambers, and when I opened the door, I saw the ostentatious hallways that was the palace. Trusting that the time I spent in Delirium wouldn’t be too long in Reality, I spent ten days in Delirium with Daniel.
I became used to having Jhaq and Noah as companions for this duration. When Daniel was asleep, I sometimes helped Jhaq with reading. She practised often and was now able to understand some poems, though I usually had to read them first in case she decided to show them to little Ray.
I slowly learnt to trust Noah, against my better judgement. My reasoning was that he had loved Kaya and supported her after her death, and anyone who was sympathetic with a traitor must have a decent reason for doing so. Besides that, he was willing to talk of things at court, and talk about Kaya when she was a child. He was able to satisfy some of my curiosity, though he still had boundaries, just like anyone else did.
When Daniel was considered competent to work from bed, I became used to servants coming in and delivering messages to him. They no longer did double takes at the sight of me, one even bowed when they entered and encountered me sitting by Daniel’s side as he slept. I was responsible for taking messages when he was unconscious. Most of them were queries as to when he would recover, but there were some requests for him to look into something suspicious around the Lake of Ghosts after he was better. I kept that one in mind, just in case I felt like tagging along.
Daniel’s bandage was removed and replaced with a black eyepatch, like Noah had told me would happen. He complained of the strangeness of only having one eye on a regular basis, and how he wouldn’t be able to react properly now that his peripheral vision was disabled on his right. He was embarrassed about taking his eyepatch off, so he kept it on even when he was sleeping. He probably took it off when he was helped down to where the hot steam was to bathe, but according to Jhaq, he usually did that when I was catching up on rest.
I shouldn’t have been entirely surprised to see Christan raise his admittedly beautiful head again. Daniel was still bedridden, and he was asleep when Christan quietly came in.
“What are you doing here?” I demanded.
Christan put his finger to his lips as he closed the door behind him. “No one knows I’m here,” he explained.
“Should they?” My left hand started burning again, and I didn’t even care that Daniel was sleeping next to me. I would light this prick on fire if I had to, no questions asked.
“I don’t want to hurt either of you,” he told me. “I…may I sit down?”
I didn’t answer him. “As you wish,” he sighed. “I understand why you hate me so.”
I didn’t respond to that either. Daniel suddenly cried out, and I immediately grabbed his hand. “Cat,” he hissed.
“It’s alright,” I told him. “It was just a dream, that’s all Daniel.”
“Argh…” He let out a shudder and his left eye squeezed close. He was still wearing the eyepatch, the vain man.
“Relax now,” I told him. “Do you want to go back to sleep?”
“Sleep…yes…” he murmured. His eye blinked open and gazed up at me. He lifted the hand he was holding to his lips, and kissed the fingers. “You should sleep too, you know,” he told me. “You look drained.”
“I’m fine,” I insisted. “I’ll go to bed soon, I promise.”
“Good girl.” Even drowsy and exhausted, Daniel’s tone still managed to sound as dry as a bone. His hand slowly drifted down to his chest and he fell asleep once more.
I was gently removing my hand from his when Christan spoke. “Tell me about him,” Christan asked quietly.
“You’re lucky he didn’t see you,” I told him.
“Cat…I…” I turned to face him. “I want you to know that I am ashamed of what I had done. Not only what I had done to Daniel, but to you as well, most of all. You…” His face was scarlet, but he didn’t stop. “I called you a dear friend, and then I treated you like a dog. I know you can’t forgive me, but just know that I will never do anything like that again. To anyone.”
I hesitated before giving him a nod of acknowledgement. “Thankyou,” I said.
Christan tentatively walked to the end of Daniel’s bed. “Thommand would’ve banned me from coming here,” he confided in me. “He told me to act like the whole thing never happened. But that…wasn’t right. It did happen, and Daniel is proof of it.” We both watched Daniel’s sleeping face. “I’m curious,” he started.
“Mercy.” Christan was frowning. “Everyone knows who you are, Cat Madigan. What you’ve done hasn’t gone unnoticed.”
Here we go again. “I want to understand why some people die at your hand, while others are left alive,” he said. “Why you let me live.”
I hadn’t thought much over that, much to my surprise. I chose to spend more time considering why I killed at all, but I soon realised that he was right. “I…I don’t know.” I held my hand in front of me. The letters aren’t glowing right now, all that’s there are the dark scarlet carvings. “I…I suppose it has to do with loyalty. Of a sort,” I amended. “It has to do with my state of mind as well. In a blink of an eye, you don’t see that you have another option, you just focus on your instinct.”
I realised how awful that sounded. “It’s not always my instinct to kill,” I informed him. “But in that moment, when Daniel or I have been hurt by them…anger takes over, and I don’t see anything else.”
“What’s the difference between them and I though?”
“I think it’s the Cat Madigan,” I said. “You came to my world, remember?”
“I thought you two were the same.”
“No…” I told him sadly. “I’m weak in Reality. Daniel would tell you differently, but that’s the truth. When I’m in Reality, I can’t let many people know about your world, so I conceal my actions. So I can’t fight back in Reality, at least not with my physical body.” I remembered that day I murdered that Fury in the brothel, when I broke away completely and snapped every bone in her body. “Using…that though, is difficult. I can’t control her as easily.”
“The shadow,” he told me. “That’s your shadow.”
“I…yes…that’s what it is.” I closed my eyes. “I hate it when I come here. Every time, I feel like I’m becoming some sort of monster. I shouldn’t be able to kill like I do. But I can. I’m losing my humanity, and that means something to me.”
I knelt down on the floor beside Daniel’s bed. “He’s the only thing keeping me human,” I told Christan. “The only reason I can live with myself.”
“How did you two meet?” Christan asked. “When did this start?”
“I…was fourteen at the time. Or fifteen, I’m not sure actually. No, I was fifteen. I was being attacked. Strangled, to be exact. Then suddenly, it stopped. And he was there.”
“You must’ve been frightened.”
“Of course I was. But not of him.” I thought back. “He wasn’t like them. He didn’t make any move to touch me, and I decided he was safe.”
“He wasn’t your guardian though,” Christan pointed out.
“That was Kaya,” I confirmed. “I could see Kaya, so it made more sense that she take care of me instead of Daniel. I still saw him though, of course. He was often with Kaya. He was annoyed with me though. Like I said, I’m weak in Reality, and I had trouble fighting off the Shadows there. So he didn’t have time for me unless he needed something. He was an ass.”
He laughed at that. “He wasn’t that bad though,” I added. “A couple of times, after bad attacks, he’d stay with me and help me sleep. And then when he found out about my parents, he stayed with me all night.” I smiled slightly. “He insists that he didn’t cry, but I know that it wasn’t me. I didn’t cry in front of others, well, not when I wasn’t in physical agony.”
“Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration,” I admitted. “Still, I could count on one hand the number of people whom I trusted enough to cry in front of for no reason.”
“Then Kaya died,” I sighed. Well, not exactly, but I don’t tell him that. “He was devastated, you know that.” Christan nodded. “So was I. But I…” I changed my mind at the last second. “I…I managed to get past it,” I lied. “I made myself focus on helping Daniel recover. It was difficult, but I managed to do it, somehow.”
“But then, after he recovered, I started having nightmares. I kept dreaming about Kaya dying, again and again. I thought it was me though, and I knew that I was going to die.
“Then the dreams got really bad. I could feel everything she felt, from the ice beneath her feet to the sudden shock of her heart stopping. And I couldn’t take it anymore. So…” What I was confiding in him was more than I trusted to some of my close friends, but I continued anyway.
“One night, I tried to drown myself,” I said quietly. “I held my head underwater until I started dreaming. But then I realised something.”
“And that was?”
“I was the stupidest person alive,” I said. “I would let myself die because of my visions, because I was frightened of a figment of my imagination. So I got my head out of the water, somehow.”
“Daniel came immediately. He was furious at first, but I was too out of it to care, I just wanted the pain inside my head to stop. I didn’t speak to him for a few days, not really. I couldn’t speak about it to anyone. I tried to get help from my friend, and she had a panic attack. She made it clear after that incident that I shouldn’t tell her these things, even if they were killing me, because she would be hurt too. So I kept it inside, along with everything else.
“I don’t remember when I started self harming, but I hated myself for doing it. I just wanted some way to get my pain out, and that seemed like the only option. Soon after, Daniel caught me, and I expected him to be angry. Instead, he took the razor from me, and let me cry on his shoulder.” I paused. “It was good to cry,” I added. “Before, I felt so cold on the inside, and I couldn’t do anything to get rid of it.”
“Anyway, after that, Daniel changed. Before, he was saying that I was weak, though never to my face. But then he took me under his wing. He didn’t treat me like an invisible person, he explained things to me, and he took my opinions seriously. And he stopped discouraging me when it came to fighting off the shadows. In return, I stopped being timid about everything, and I warmed up to him more. And I developed more a thick skin when it came to…what happened to me.”
“He cares about you deeply,” Christan observed. “He’s devoted to you and your safety, I know he is.”
I smiled softly. “When I changed, so did Daniel,” I said. “When I opened up to him, he relaxed a lot around more around me, and he stopped being so serious.” I laughed a little. “He teased me a lot too. But it wasn’t mean hearted, like other people are. He just did it to get me to stop being a sulk.” I looked down at Daniel. “He’s not perfect. But he’s the best man I know.”
“You love him.”
That statement made my heart stop. “You do,” Christan told me. “I should’ve seen it before, but I was blind. Now I can see the truth. He has your heart.”
“No, we’re not like that!” I flashed around in horror. “No, I don’t.”
“You do,” he repeated. “If he hadn’t survived your blood, how would’ve you felt? Tell me that.”
“I believe you should leave now,” I told him coldly. “You’ve overstayed your welcome enough.”
“So you don’t deny it.”
He closed the door behind him, and I realised I was shaking. It made no sense to me why I was shaking, and I felt anger at Christan for making me feel that way.
Romantic feelings would always be pushed to the back of my mind when it came to people. Because no one would want to love a depressive schizophrenic, particularly one who is a total fuck up. It didn’t stop me from growing attachments to people though, which may or may not contribute to my emotional instability.
My ideal ‘romance’ wasn’t the type involving mushiness and flowers and stuff. To me, it’s more simple than that. I haven’t ever fallen in love, but I think that it would happen when I finally let myself trust them inexplicably.
Hence why I have classified myself as Forever Alone. Because after everything’s that happened to me, I don’t think I can let myself trust anyone that much. Besides, they all leave in the end. People always do. The only person who has stuck by me this far has been-
Oh god no.