Luna’s wedding would have to be postponed.
Natsuki’s father would probably come to pick up her body to bury with the rest of their family. Mizuki might give up her position as Guardian to go with him.
The other Guardians would see them off.
Because she died within the palace, an extensive investigation was organized. Because she died beside me, I was confined to my proper rooms for safety, in case the attack was meant for me.
Ellen spent most of her time keeping me company. If she fell asleep, I put her in my bed and snuck out to visit Peran’s memorial. I was often alone in the courtyard, but on a few occasions, I would have a visitor.
“The guards are saying you’re cursed.” Skyler informed me one night. “First Peran, now Natsuki.”
“Then they should disband the Guardians.” I replied. The moon was full and bright, shining a spotlight on the memorial. Moonflowers fanned out, soaking in the light. It all looked mystical and enticing.
“The king won’t allow that.” Skyler blew some stray leaves off the path. “He’s more worried about you now. There have been two attempts on your life within the season.”
I clenched my hands into fists at my sides. “Natsuki didn’t die in an attack.” I corrected. “Don’t compare her death with Peran’s.”
“She’ll be missed just as much.” Skyler continued to blow leaves around the yard. “The gardeners all loved her. I heard rumors that she had many admirers.”
“All Guardians have admirers. It’s an admirable position.”
Skyler sighed. “It was. Now, all we get is pity.”
We stood in silence, watching the leaves dance. Skyler had perfect control. In combat, the wind was like knives on his arms. In peace, it carried secrets to his ears.
“Mizuki will be staying until the investigation is finished.” He said eventually. “Then she’s going home for a time.” He bowed, then left.
I grit my teeth and watched frost form under my feet. The cold was listening to me, obeying me. But like a child, it didn’t understand everything. It made Natsuki go away when I told her to leave.
I didn’t mean it. I told the frost. I didn’t want her dead. I didn’t bother wishing she was still alive. If wishing could do anything, Peran would be back at my side.
I reached into my pocket and ran my fingers over his band. In a way, it was good people were spreading rumors. If they thought being a Guardian was liable to get them killed, they wouldn’t try to take Peran’s band away from me.
The frost spread along the path in front of me, parting around the memorial. My frost would never spread over Peran. He was the only thing that warmed my heart.
A thick layer of ice covered the small pond to my left, and I took the few steps to it and looked down. The ice was smooth and clear, reflecting like a glass mirror.
My face was still my own, but my hair was covered in frost, turning from brown to white as it fell down my back. Snowflakes clung to my dress, bright ice standing in contrast to deep green and rich gold.
At first, the frost scared me. It spread at a mere thought and clung to me like brambles.
But now, it felt right. Now, I could show everyone how I felt. Mizuki’s laugh could ripple calm waters and fire reacted to Seraphina’s shock or anger. Now, I was like them.
I held out my hand above the frozen pond, palm up. “Ice.” I whispered. A small bead of ice formed on my palm, slowly growing wider. Holes split in the disc, forming geometric designs. Spires shot out from the edges, then fanned out. As I watched, a crystalline snowflake took shape across my hand.
“A frozen heart,” I murmured to myself. “is still a thing of beauty.”
A slight movement of material against my leg caught me off guard. There was no breeze, and the movement originated from slightly below my waist. I spun around, knocking some’s arm away with my already outstretched hand.
Seraphina screamed in pain and fell to her knees, clutching her hand to her chest.
“What were you doing?” I asked. I wasn’t surprised that she’d snuck up on me. Seraphina was like a phantom when she wanted to be. What did surprise me was that she’d tried to use those talents on me.
Seraphina look up at me, her face still contorted in pain, but also showing disbelief. “Your father…”
I understood immediately. Seraphina, on my father’s orders, had tried to silently slip Peran’s band out of my pocket. Anger flooded my veins with more ice, but I kept my face neutral. “What did he have planned?”
Seraphina reached out a hand toward my feet. “Lucia, before that…” she winced. “Please…”
I looked down. A hand lay in front of my left foot. The clean cut was still bleeding, but ice had started to inch in around it. Looking back at Seraphina, I saw a large red stain over her abdomen. She was holding her arm against it, but she was missing a hand.