* * *
Stunned, I sat still on the steed’s back and stared up into the moonlight that my brother had said was full of music. How she sang for him, whispered to him and told him secrets, he’d said to me. That she loved him, and would exist in his blood. I turned to look at my nephew, and could not help but weep to see his beatific face.
“Your father loved your mother,” I said quietly.
“He was a fool to do so,” he answered back plainly. “If she was not the madwoman she is now, she must have at least shown a hint of it,” he said, his voice quiet and without rancor.
“She told him she was the physical incarnation of the moon’s heavenly light,” I said, and it sounded juvenile and small as it came aloud from my lips, and I blushed hot with shame for my poor brother, who had been deceived so easily, because he had wanted to be. His flesh had failed his mind, and then his mind had failed his flesh. “She loved him, in return. She wept when he fell,” I said. “She put to death the archer who killed him,” I told the son of my beloved brother.
“But it was her war that killed him,” he said, still looking up at the moon. “And the true Autumn Queen is full of rage for his loss,” he murmured. “Can’t you hear it?” he wondered, reaching to tap the side of my head. “Can’t you hear her grief?”
“I can’t hear her at all,” I said sadly. “She’s never sung for me. What does she sound like?” I asked him, caught up in his tales of madness.
He wrapped his arms around me, then and kept his cheek pressed to mine. He began to sway atop the steed, as though moving in time to the music only he could hear. “Listen,” he whispered. “Listen to her.”
I struggled to find the music, opened myself to the thought of it, begged in my heart for it to fill me…
…but nothing happened.
My brother’s son, as though sensing my failure, rubbed my back and said, “Don’t worry, Elodie. She comes to us all, eventually. Here. Let me guide the horse. You hold to me and rest. I’ll take us where we need to go.”
I thought briefly to ask him where that was, and then decided that so long as the place held a rudimentary bed and had a bit of food, I didn’t care.
* * *