“The Darkness didn’t lie,” Scherezade sighed, “you think I’d be any less alone if I was still hanging around the two of you? Pretending to smile and not shatter every time I saw you dancing with no music the way we did? Every time I saw her pressing her ear to her your heart the way I did?” She had already seen that on the Fortressa. She knew those would not be the only times. She had hurt so badly that she had broken both her hands in the attempt to make her inner pain turn just physical, and it hadn’t worked. “I was alone the moment you both deemed me disposable.” How could he not understand it? Why did he insist on sticking to the surface level of it? She became alone the moment he and Katrine had finalized the deal between them, and she was the one to pay the price for it all. With them or without them in the same room, she was alone. At least this way she didn’t have to be around and see it all, all the time.
Scherezade stumbled back, almost losing her balance. No, it wasn’t the residue of alcohol in her body now. Gerwald didn’t just tell her what Katrine had offered, he went on and on, continued, did he even realize what he was saying? She stare at him in horror, unable to stop the new wave of pain that washed over her with every passing moment.
“I was going to offer you to rule Endelaan with me…” she whispered, “I was going to… On Coruscant, when I told you I wanted to invite you and Alwine and Varick to Endelaan. And you told me you just wanted to keep things simple!”
She wanted to scream. She wanted to yell. She wanted to throw something, both at him and at herself. Was that it? Was part of why she was disposable because she’d actually listened to him?!
“I wanted to offer you to rule Endelaan with me that night,” she was no longer whispering. She couldn’t whisper anymore. The pain bubbled inside of her, she could almost taste it as something more tangible than mere raw emotions, “I was going to make the offer after inviting you to Endelaan, but you said you wanted to keep things simple and when the time was right!” But the time was never going to be right. It was never meant to be right. Because it had always been Katrine. Scherezade was breathing hard now. Too hard. Was she wheezing? She wasn’t sure. She didn’t care. “And I though… I wanted to respect your wishes, to wait for when the time was right. And you know what I feared then, Gerwald? What I truly feared? I feared that if I offered that night and you would say yes, and then once you were there you’d change your mind and somehow feel trapped! That was what I feared! You feeling trapped! So I listened to you, and we changed subjects, but I was still thinking about it, and I knew without a doubt that I wanted you to come and see it anyway, and after you’d made your unbiased opinion about it, I would let you know the offer exists. And then I thought more about it, and I realized that offering to share a crown was one of the easiest things in the ‘verse, but that if you’d love me the way that I loved you, I would give the crown up with a joyful heart and without any regrets. Because I don’t love you as a future king, and I don’t love you for this or other potential, I love you not because of what you are but because of who you are, the man that had just come off from Stewjon and was looking for his way in the galaxy, to learn it, to taste it, to explore it, and I didn’t want that love to come with bribery, and I thought we could do that together, that we could learn and grow together and I even-“
NO! She stopped herself there. She was not going to tell him about the plans for the fifth clan. She was not going to tell them she’d already dedicated a huge amount of the forests of Endelaan for them. That she had figured out how, once they had children, they would grow up surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of others who were just like them. She was not. It would be too cruel. He would either want the blueprints, and she would not be able to tell him no, and she’d just be left alone again while he and Katrine gained yet another thing at her expense, or he wouldn’t ask for it at all, and she wouldn’t offer, and she’d be even more hated than she already was.
“I was trying to support the relations between your families…” Scherezade whispered again, “I tried to give you pointers on how to handle it that night… There were things I didn’t give you an opinion about because I was worried it’d come off as standing between you when I never wanted that, when I never wanted to keep Lupine away from Lupine…” And it had bit her in the ass. “You really think Katrine would’ve denied any of what you just said you wanted if you didn’t wish to rule with her?” Because Katrine wouldn’t have. Katrine cared about the future of the Lupines. Which was part of why this made no sense. If they had children together… Those children would grow up knowing there was only one Lupine family left, made up of the remains of two. Were both of them so blind that they hadn’t seen it?
“I wasn’t in the future she came from either,” she whispered again, “I’m in no one’s future.”
“Katrine would not have broken,” she repeated herself from earlier in the conversation, “but if you’re so certain she would have, that both of us would have, you should have just vanished into oblivion altogether. Instead you made me disposable. And now you want me to be the one to go to her, because apparently it’s not enough that I’m the one that ends up with nothing on every direction, I also need to come crawling back, because after you abandoned you siblings, and then had the chance to fetch them because I offered to give you everything you needed for that to happen and all you had to do was just show up, you chose instead to go fruck Katrine and disappear on me entirely, without even leaving a message, now you’re preaching that family is everything? Now? Do you truly think that if I hadn’t said what I’d said that night, we would be sisters in more than cold and dry name? How can you preach about family being everything now after what you’ve done to your siblings, twice? After what you’ve started between me and Katrine? Stop holding me to a higher standard than you hold either yourself or Katrine when all I’m allowed to be is the disposable one!”
This time, she did scream, and turn around. “Not even once did you stop to ask if you could help. If there was anything you could do. If I needed something. Not even once, not in this conversation, not when I came out of the Darkness.” She wanted to Force Scream, she wanted to make everything around them shake and break with the strength of the pain that she couldn’t stop from growing inside her. But she couldn’t. Because it’d hurt Gerwald’s ears. Because she was so stupid, and weak, and pathetic.
Scherezade turned around, looking at Gerwald. “How can you say you love me when even all through this conversation you never once even referred to me as myself? Everything you’ve said, all of it, always within the scope of either you or Katrine, like I can’t just exist, like-“
Wet eyes blinked, realizing what she had just said.
“I just can’t exist…” No, it made sense. It made perfect sense. She had fought for him, fought to keep her promise for him. She’d found a way to give his species the future Katrine never could even though Katrine thought she could rule all the eight or nine existing Lupines as a queen for some reason, she had been willing to offer him a crown, and a life so long he could choose when enough was enough. She hadn’t been just willing to give him everything, she had given him everything that was possible in the time that they had together, and that everything had extended to the siblings she had never met. She’d endured years of torture in the Darkness and made it back to him, holding on to her promise.
And it still wasn’t enough. She was still not good enough. In all of this, not even in the moments after she’d come out of the Darkness, not once had he embraced her, checked if she was okay, or expressed any concern for her. Because she didn’t offer a crown in a race she didn’t know she was a part of, because she couldn’t change into a wolf even though that was something that was easily taken care of, because… Because…
“I’m just everyone’s pin cushion, aren’t I?” she asked, though the question wasn’t directed at Gerwald.
No speech. No long monologue. A simple truth.
Scherezade closed her eyes, letting the last of the tears escape. That was the point, wasn’t it? She couldn’t just exist. Not even the woman who claimed to be her sister or the man who claimed to love her could let her do that. It was staring her right in the face. Because if she could do all she could, if she had so much to give, if all of that didn’t matter outside of the scope of her needing to go beg for forgiveness by the very people who had broken her… The conclusion was staring her right in the face.
Scherezade deWinter had no place in this galaxy.
“I was right,” she said at last, “it’s the hard moments that define us. All I ever wanted was for you to love me the way that I love you. Instead I almost died, and it took me years to come back, only to learn that I’m not enough, and that I’m supposed to go back to those who betrayed me because that’s the only way to heal the things that I wasn’t the one to break, merely the first one to accept they were broken.”
What else was there left to say? They would not agree. He wouldn’t hug her. He wouldn’t ask if there was anything he could do to make her less miserable. He would still insist on talking to her in the scope of Katrine, still pretend like family suddenly mattered even though he broke his own and has chosen the one who had broken three families herself. But everyone else could be forgiven. For her, there was only punishment for not being sound of mind, for not healing fast enough, for not offering a crown fast enough, for just… For not being good enough, no matter what she tried to do. He would rule with Katrine over the remains of two Lupine families and call himself King or Emperor or whatever, and the person paying the price of blood and pain for that to happen would be Scherezade, while he and Katrine lived and frolicked happily ever after.
He was right. She was childish. Childish in her nativity about everything, childish in her unwillingness to run back with her tail between her legs and apologize to those who had broken her, apologize for being broken. Apologize for who she was, even though Gerwald had told her… It didn’t matter anymore.
They had both been there when she came out of the Darkness. And they had both broken her after that. They should have just let her die.
The tears were running freely down her face now. She wished she could stop them. She wished she could be all tough and cold, and emotionless about it all. But no, she was the stupid childish person, wasn’t she?
What else was there left to say?
“Goodbye, Gerwald,” she breathed his name. A last time. A final time, before Scherezade deWinter ceased to exist.
She wished she could have a last kiss to take with her. Be in his embrace for the last time, surrounded by that smell that meant safety. Just one last time. But he wouldn’t even come near her on his own. Maybe he wasn’t allowed to, now that he was with Katrine. Maybe he simply didn’t care to. It didn’t really matter though, did it?
But her legs refused to move. Scherezade sighed. Her stupid legs, thinking there might be a chance. But they’d danced this dance before. This was the part where he said more things to break her further. This was the part where he’d find, whether because he meant to or not, some part of her that hadn’t been throughfully shattered yet, and hit it with a sledgehammer.