Chapter 7: The Sacrifice

I turned so quickly, I clumsily knocked a chair over with my wings. Eladari stood on the threshold to the room the Seven and I stood in, her mouth hanging in a gape. She slowly turned her gaze from the Seven to me. I could see the tears prick her eyes like a pin pricks the skin to cause the blood to flow.

"Eladari, I –"

She shook her head with a mournful gentle smile on her face. She reminded me so much of Lavinia. Only, when I met Lavinia, her smile was desperate and pleading. Eladari was different because I was different in the parallel situation.

She moistened her lips. "You're going back, aren't you." It wasn't a question. She couldn't hide the accusing pang of pain in her voice, though in her eyes I could see she didn't want me to hear it. She felt guilty, but guilty of what?

I shook my head gently and stepped towards her, my eyes watering up, this time, with crystal tears. I cupped her face gently, ignoring the Seven, who watched me intently.

"Eladari," I breathed, bowing my head so it touched hers.

She closed her sapphire eyes. "You have to go?"

I nodded. "I'm sorry. I wish I could stay. I want to stay."

In the background, I heard one of the goddesses (I think it was Septma) say, "You could stay. Under one condition."

"You cede your wings," Una proclaimed, "as well as your immortality forever. You will are never to be allowed into the Higher Fields again, only the Lower Fields. If you cede these things, you will live the mortal life, without our interference.

I closed my eyes, forcing back the tears. Everything has its price, doesn't it?

Closing my arms around Eladari, I buried my face in the crook of her neck, breathing in her mortal, femininescent. To be with her, without the fear of the gods. Ah, that sounded better than the Elysian Fields themselves. To enjoy life for what it was with the woman I loved, who loved me just as much. To be with her for eternity, even after death in the Lower Fields.

But, to give up my wings? To cede all means of being an angel, of being who I was meant to be? My teeth sank into my lower lip to stop the pain. I couldn't give that up just willingly. The angel was part of me, no matter if I was mortal, without the wings of a dove. The yearning to fly, the need to be with my Brothers and Sisters, would be agony all over again. The loss would eventually drive me mad, knowing I would never feel the pleasure of flying, of being who I was born to be.

Oh, don't get me wrong about the thousands of years I suffered as a fallen angel being torture, but knowing that I would never be able to fly again? That was hard to accept. At least when I was fallen, I held onto the hope that one day I would fly again high in the sky with the birds in the Fields. But if I ceded them this time, it would be for good.

At was at odds with myself. I wanted so much to be with Eladari, but could I live the lie of knowing I was forever mortal?

I choked back a sob. But if I made this decision, it wouldn't just be for me, it would for Eladari too. I knew, as I looked deep into those never-ending pools of sapphire, wanting, yearning, hoping that she needed me as much as I needed her. Maybe more.

Nothing is without a price. Everything has an outlay that demands pay. Some things just cost more than others.

"Caden," I heard Eladari whispered against my shirt.

I raised my head and stared down at her. Her image wavered in my watery eyes. "I promised to help you back on your feet. I promised to teach you all the sorcery you needed to keep you safe. I promised that no harm would ever come to you. And," I gave a watery smile, "you promised me that you'd teach me manners."

Eladari choked on a hiccup, making a sound between a laugh and sob. Tears poured harder down her cheeks. "I did, didn't I?" she asked despondently, wiping futile at her tears with the tips of her fingers.

"I need you just as much as you need me," I whispered.

She shook her head, lowering her gaze. "But, that's just it. You'll stay because I need you."

I swallowed. "I think love you, Eladari." My mind said I couldn't fall in love in such short time, but my heart knew what it wanted.

She smiled, laying her hand over my heart. "I care a lot for you, too. That's why I'm absolving you of your promises to me."

I gaped at her. "Eladari," I started.

She stopped me with a finger against my lips, turning her head to the side, as if unsure of her own strength. "That's why I'm telling you to go. You don't belong here, in this realm. You belong up there, in the Elysian Fields. You're an angel whether you acknowledge that fact or not. It will always be angelic blood that runs through your veins."

I shook my head, cradling her face in my hands. "But I couldn't imagine my life without you. I made a mistake by walking away from Lavinia and my child. I won't make that mistake again."

"You're not walking away, Caden," she chided gently, like we were having a just a regular everyday argument. "I'm – I'm telling you to go. I don't want to responsible for holding you back, preventing you from who you were supposed to be."

I bowed my head against the stubborn woman I loved. "You're sure, deore?"

She nodded and kissed my check chastely. "I'm sure. If I," she choked on her words, sobbing. "If I wasn't sure, why would I tell you you're absolved of the promises?"

I gave a halfhearted chuckle. "I'll always love you, Eladari."

"You'll always be the man I love most, no matter what happens. And, well see each other again, some day," she added with a ghost of a smile.

"Yes, we will, won't we?"

"Will you remember me what I find you?"

I gathered her up in my arms and kissed her full on the lips. "I'll spend every moment of my life watching over you, looking for you in the Lower Fields when you move on from this life."

She kissed me back. "Then I'll teach you some real manners."

I laughed and stepped away. I could feel the tension from the Seven rising. They wanted to leave real soon. As in now.

With one last kiss, I turned to go. But before I left, I unhitched the necklace from around my neck, the necklace bearing the symbol in Elysian for life, and hung it around her neck.

"So you won't forget me," I teased gently. "I'll be waiting for you."

With a sob, she nodded. "Hopefully you'll have learned some manners by then, right?"

"Hopefully."

Suddenly, the Seven stood in a circle formation, hands clasped. The seven colors of the rainbow converged into one ray of light shooting high into the Fields above. And one by one, they disappeared until only one was left, Una. She was waiting for me to leave so she could close the gate into the Higher Fields. Once, a man in the alleyway of a city told me there was enough time in the world for everything. I guess he was right. Enough time to fall in love. Enough time to break two hearts still beating as one. And now, it was time to go home again.

And as I threw myself into the air, flying up into the Fields. And just before I entered the Fields, I looked down at Eladari and her world below with one last mournful smile full of the joyous memories I'll cherish for life beyond eternity.