Apollo blinked as the sunlight had flooded into the room. He had desperately wanted to go back to sleep, but he needed to get up. He was avoiding Ethan, but he didn’t want the kids to catch on, even though he was positive they’d already had. The kids were getting up for school now and since Ethan never woke up before noon, Apollo needed to usher the kids off to school and then lock himself away by his computer. It was sad, he had hoped things wouldn’t get this strained. Apollo was angry, honestly. He would never lie about his family, it helped define who he was. Groaning, he stood up.
Once the teens were out of the house, he was able to crawl back onto his couch. He hadn’t realized how tired he really was. Just as he was about to shut his eyes, he heard a voice call out to him. “Apollo…this is killing me.”
“Go away, I don’t want to talk to you,” Apollo mumbled. “I’m trying to sleep.”
“Please…please talk to me. I feel so damn alone, I need you more than ever,” Ethan begged.
“You did this to yourself.” Apollo rolled over to face the back of the couch. “You shouldn’t have lied to me. I feel like our whole marriage is a lie.”
“Our marriage is based on love. If there’s anything I’m sure of is that I’m in love with you. I kept this to myself for so long because I was afraid of losing you, but by lying, that’s exactly what I did and I can’t take it. Being away from you is slowly killing me. I don’t want to leave your side, ever,” Ethan confessed. “I want to tell you about my family…everything.”
Apollo had since sat up. Looking over at Ethan, he motioned him to the couch. “It took you long enough. If we’re going to move past this I need for you to trust me. ”
[From this point on, the chapter will be told in first person from Ethan’s point of view.]
“It was a sunny day, like every other day in Moonlight Falls. The weather…it never changed. It didn’t rain or snow, we never got winter…everything was just comfortable. Other than aging, nothing really changed. We were always being scrutinized by Damian, but to my family, it never mattered. Damian couldn’t touch us if he tried…” I watched as Apollo leaned into my arm. He was getting comfortable, rightfully so, this was going to be a long story. “My father is Lucas Nai, keeper of all of the magic in Moonlight Falls. The person whose been helping Frost…helping us.” I could feel Apollo’s chest heave with the gulp he had just taken. I could tell that he wanted to say something, but he held it in and ushered for me to continue. “I’ll just start from the beginning, I really want you to understand what I’m about to tell you.” I stroked his hair to calm myself down. “My dad married his apprentice, my mother, and together they had me and my brother, Dax. I miss him so much…” It was my turn to gulp. I swallowed hard before I continued.
“Boys, do you know why you’re in the lair?” My father asked. Dax and I squirmed under his gaze. The lair meant magic lessons or serious talks. Neither of which was particularly exciting especially because my dad was a stickler for perfection.
“You want to talk to us in private?” Dax guessed.
“Exactly.” Dad nodded. “I wanted to discuss with you boys my resignation as representative of magic.”
“Resignation?” I asked in disbelief. “Why? You’ve basically achieved immortality. You’ll be young forever, you’ve mastered all of the spells us mages can learn,you’re living everyone’s dream.”
“There are ways to stop me,” My father said simply. “I can be killed and I can stop drinking the potion that freezes my internal clock.”
“Why would you do that?” Dax questioned. “You’ve achieved perfection in the world of magic. You’re the only one who can watch over and take care of the mages. Without you, don’t you think Damian will take advantage and try to conquer us?”
“I won’t be leaving Moonlight Falls. I’ll still be here, but I’ll be passing my job onto one of you boys. I think that when you boys turn 18, you’ll be able to fully grasp the full capabilities of your powers. I’ll of course be here every step of the way.”
“Until you wilt away and die,” I said accusingly. “You’ll get older! Why…why do you want to do that to yourself?”
“I’ve been around for a thousand years,” He told us. “I didn’t have a father who was able to tell me how to do all of this like you have me. My dad was a witch, but a very bad one. He couldn’t discover the young again potion and so he lived a normally short life. I studied and studied, and it wasn’t until the other mages turned to me and asked me to lead them that I took this position. In order to keep them safe, I developed the elusive young again potion and I’ve been using it ever since. I’ve been sharing it with your mother because, I don’t think I could ever live without her. Both of us, we’ve been discussing things, and we just don’t want to cheat death any longer. It’s utterly depressing, living forever when the others around you are not. Most vampires and fairies aren’t immortal. As they aged, I didn’t and slowly all of my friends had died. I had lost many more people than you’d ever understand. I don’t want to watch you guys grow older than me. I want you to live your life, and for me to live mine.”
“I understand dad,” Dax said. “It must have been tough.”
I looked up at him. “You really trust one of us to take control of this?”
“I do.” He nodded. “You’re not obligated to take the position if you don’t want the responsibility. Once you’re in charge, you can do things your way but please keep in mind that all of the witches in Moonlight Falls are counting on you. Of course I won’t step down until one of you are ready to assume position but it is something for you to keep in mind.”
I initially didn’t think that I wanted the position. It was a lot of pressure. I’d essentially be protecting all of the witches in Moonlight Falls. Their biggest threat was Damian, and he was no walk in the park. Destroying his rule was going to take an immense amount of force and I didn’t think I’d ever be ready to face him head on. As time progressed, I realized that I did have the potential to be a good mage like my father. I studied and studied his book of alchemy, creating potions and learning spells. All with the encouragement from my imaginary friend, Rickie. I had received a doll from my father. I never expected to get so attached to it. Rickie had a personality of his own, literally. He would sit by me and talk to me when I was in the lair. It was with his help that I discovered Imaginarium Metamorphium. If drank by one of these imaginary friend dolls, they’d turn real. They’d for the most part look human, act human and sound human. I was more than thrilled to see Rickie come to life before my very eyes. Still, he often chose to revert to doll form around my parents. He didn’t want them to know that he existed.
“Why did you want to meet in the bushes like this?” I chuckled at my best friend. He was being ridiculous. Hiding in the bushes was for children…or stalkers, neither of which I was. That moment became emblazoned in my memory. It was my first kiss. Rickie hadn’t acknowledged my question, instead he had tackled me to the ground and pushed his lips against mine forcefully. At the time, it wasn’t something I was looking for, but it felt nice, and so I graciously returned the kiss, begging for more from him. I remember running my hands through his hair and laughing. We joked about how great my imagination was. Things couldn’t get better, not even if we tried. Or so I thought.
After a few minutes of making out, Rickie rolled himself off of me. He looked at me with these sad eyes and he just began to cry…like, hysterically. I was so confused, I didn’t know what to do. I remember that conversation clearly.
“I’m sorry,” I breathed. “Did I do something wrong?” I leaned over to touch him, and he didn’t flinch. He let me lean my hands on his shoulders.
“Not you…it’s Dax,” He sobbed.
“What did he do?” I asked in fear. “Did he hurt you?”
“No…” He shook his head. “I saw him, he was practicing magic with your dad. They’re having private lessons behind your back!”
“I don’t see how that’s a bad thing,” I sighed. “I thought it was something much worse.”
“It’s terrible, he’s betraying you! Can’t you see that he wants to take over Moonlight Falls and get rid of you!?”
“Calm down, you’re getting hysterical. It’s not like that. He’s an over achiever, he’s always practicing his magic,” I told the rainbow boy.
He placed his hand on my thigh. “I promise you, I’m not lying. I get the feeling that something bad is going to happen. He’s trying to betray you.”
“If it means that much to you I’ll check it out, but I’m sure that Dax isn’t doing anything like that,” I confirmed. Rickie nodded meekly and cuddled into my arms which I had opened graciously for him.
I decided to give Rickie the benefit of the doubt. After our passionate makeout session in the bushes, I headed towards the lair. He was a great kisser, which was probably why I found his irrational points so irresistible and….believable. Just as Rickie said, my brother and dad had been practicing magic. I stopped midway on the stairs when I saw my mother sitting in the rocking chair watching on idly. I was confused for a couple of reasons. Mom never came into the lair. She said she had enough of the small cramped space when she first met my father so many years ago. Second, she didn’t want us practicing magic. It was weird, her married to the keeper of magic, and a witch herself. She thought it was dangerous, and she said it’s hurt her more than anything in the world if either Dax or I got hurt. Of course dad had a way of persuading her…I’m starting to think it’s all in the lips. Anyway, shrinking back quietly, I hesitated. I didn’t want to draw my mother’s attention, and I didn’t want to interrupt my father either. So, I just stood there and watched them for a little while.
“You’ve improved greatly,” My father commented. “In no time you’ll be keeper of magic.”
“Me?” Dax questioned. “What about Ethan?”
My father let out a small sigh. “He’s busy with other…things. Imaginary things. I don’t quite understand it myself, but he seems too preoccupied to be worrying about something like this.”
I gulped. He knew about Rickie. We were careful to keep it a secret, but I guess he saw through it. He was all knowing and all powerful after all. I was embarrassed to say the least and I wondered why he hadn’t approached me yet. Not only was Rickie my imaginary friend…he was a boy. When you’re a teenager, both of those things can be very terrifying. I turned my attention back to the conversation, long enough to hear my father basically handing the position over to my brother. I was angry because I was really trying and I felt like my father hadn’t been giving me a fair chance, and Dax hadn’t stood up for me either. I was livid, and when you’re like that, you begin to believe everything, and so I fell for Rickie’s claims.
My next steps were irrational and I regret everything that had happened that night. I didn’t give myself time to think about anything, instead I thought I’d take matters into my own hands and deal with my brother head on. I was going to talk to him, but I wanted his cooperation without my mother or father jumping in. I invited Rickie along and I told Dax to meet me by the cemetery because I wanted to practice the zombification ritual. Getting him there was easy, he had always been so trusting of me.
“What is this about?” Dax frowned, watching me trudge in with my purple haired companion.
“I want to know why you’re trying to stop me from becoming the Keeper. It’s not fair that you have to act secretive with dad in order to get an advantage,” I said.
I could see him frown. “So you know about our secret meetings then?”
“Of course he does,” Rickie said indignantly. He crossed his arms over his chest. “You think you’re smarter than you actually are. Ethan has me as his private spy.”
“I wouldn’t say spy,” I corrected.
“Then what would you say…lover?” Dax demanded. “You must know that dad and I know about your imaginary friend. Well guess what? He’s irrelevant. he shouldn’t be waltzing in here talking a big game, he has nothing to do with us and dad. If you want to talk about the position of Keeper then let’s discuss it without this interference.”
I turned around to ask Rickie if he could give us a minute, but instead of a kind face, I was greeted with one filled with rage. He inched closer to Dax, holding his fists up. “Ethan doesn’t need YOU, actually. He’s fine with me. I would never stab him in the back like you and your pathetic father. Ethn and I are going to leave Moonlight Falls and get married.”
“My brother isn’t going anywhere with you…” Dax growled. He held his wand up and aimed it at the boy. “You’re nothing but a leech. Leave my brother and our family alone.” He pointed the wand towards Rickie, hitting him with the toadification spell.
I was angry. Despite everything that Rickie had just said to my brother, I thought I was in love with him. I wasn’t thinking…I didn’t mean to…I took out my wand and aimed it at my brother. I shot a fireball at him. I didn’t even give him time to react. Before he had realized it, he was on the floor crumbled to the ground. I stood above his body, fuming.
“Don’t be so stupid. I’m not a child, I can do whatever Ii want,” I shouted. “I am not yours and dad’s little pet. I will go with Rickie wherever he wants because I love him and he wouldn’t betray him.” I expected my brother to yell back. Instead, he was motionless. He didn’t move a muscle.
“Dax?” I kneeled by his body and began to shake him. His clothes were tattered in the front and his face was covered in the dirt that was on the ground. “Dax?” I called again, this time shaking his body. There was still no movement. I placed my hand over his heart and felt no beats. Gasping, I fell backwards.
“Oh my god…” I held my hand over my mouth. “Dax…wake up!” I shouted as if it’d snap him out of some sort of trance. But it wasn’t a trance. He was dead, and I had been the one to kill him. I threw my arms over his body and began to sob. I thought he would have been able to deflect it, but there wasn’t anytime for him to react and I was so close to his body that my flames burned him from the inside out. Tears began to fall from my eyes as I watched him lay there on the floor. “Please, no. I didn’t mean it. Please. Please!”
I felt a hand on my shoulder. “We need to go. Just leave the body to me, I’ll deal with it.”
Whirling around, I aimed my fist at the source of the voice. “You asshole! This is your fault!”
“Hey!” Rickie yelled. “Stop it.”
“No…no…this is your fault!” I sobbed. “He’s dead because of you. You started all of this!”
He blinked and smirked. “I didn’t kill Dax. You did.”
“You…” I growled. “You’re sick.”
“He was threatening me, and so you stepped in. It shows where your loyalty lies. My offer is still open, let’s run away. No one will ever find out about this. You’ll be in the clear.”
I shoved him out of my way as I passed him. I didn’t know what to do. Out of my fright, I left both Rickie and Dax there and ran home.