Manipulating shadows wasn’t easy. As more and more humans denounced magic and all the beings with it, the more shadows there were. Bits and pieces of human emotion still clung to all that discarded magic and he had to concentrate to tap into that.
Concentrating was difficult with a constant burning light chasing away the shadows that he was just starting to call out.
“You’re doing it again,” he grumbled, opening his eyes to glare at his twin sister. He and Belladonna didn’t look much like twins and their magic wasn’t much alike at all either.
“I don’t mean to Oli! I swear.” She pouted from her perch in the branches above him. While he worked on his shadows, she was working on controlling her power over sunlight. It wasn’t her only affinity, just as shadows wasn’t his, but they were the ones that they had the most trouble with.
His gift over shadows came as a two in one with empathy. Without it, he would have wondered if Belladonna was just messing with him again. Last time she had gotten bored, she had given up on controlling how much glowing she did just to screw with him. This time she seemed to be as frustrated as he was.
Though Faeries could work all sorts of magic, each one had a special strength for a certain type; their affinity. Both he and his sister had two affinities on top of their family born strength of poisons. Belladonna worked best with sunlight and with manipulating storms while he was an empath with the ability to manipulate blood just as easily as he coaxed a flower to grow.
The ability to make things poisonous came from their mother surprisingly enough, as she was a noblewoman of the lighter courts and that was considered a darker power. Their father was a noble of the darker courts. It was an arranged pair, one that broke apart once the twins had been born, but the twins split their time between both their parents and the two courts.
Well, Belladonna did. Oleander preferred to spend his time in the lighter courts avoiding his mother at all costs. Amaryllis hated him and everything that he stood for in her life; the proof she had laid with a dark faerie, that he was her offspring, had her aristocratic features and blue eyes, and that he didn’t have the golden hair and brightness that Belladonna did.
“Oli?” Belladonna’s voice broke him from his bitter thoughts and he realized that he had drawn shadows to him and they had begun to creep up his legs in a protective shell. He’d done it once or twice on accident, even used the shadows to travel, but it was a cold and strange experience. “What were you thinking about?”
Waving the shadows away, he refused to look up at his sister. There was no way that he was going to answer that, not when she was their mother’s favorite. He couldn’t help but wonder if she was telling their mother things or if their mother was beginning to turn his sister against him.
“Was it about Mother?”
His lips curled up into a sneer. Of course she could guess it. Getting up from the log, he glared up at her again. “Drop it.” Knowing she wouldn’t so long as he stayed, he started back to their father’s dwelling.
“But Oli!” She leapt gracefully from the branches and dashed after him. He knew that she wasn’t focusing on controlling her power again when he could smell scorched earth. The heat of the sunlight that powered her inner glow left dark burns in the ground in the shape of her feet. “What did mother do? Did she hurt you again? She did, didn’t she? Why didn’t you tell me?”
His refusal to answer her questions only led to her making assumptions. Unfortunately, she was right. Their mother did hurt him again and he could remember the pain in his shoulder as clear as day even though it had healed days ago.
“Oleander! Talk to me!” Her demands were starting to grate on his nerves and he tried walking faster. Maybe she’d drop the subject if he got to their Father’s sooner.
Oleander pulled up short when his sister darted forward and cut off his path. He was already a few inches taller than her and he used that to his advantage by tilting his chin up defiantly. Her eyes narrowed and swirled with varying shades of green and gold specs. With neither of them budging, they were stuck.
“Tell me why you didn’t say anything.” She broke the silence first, putting her hands on her hips.
“It’s none of your business.” It wasn’t the answer she wanted and he was surprised that she controlled her anger enough to keep from lunging at him in frustration.
“You’re my brother, of course it’s my business.”
“You’re older than me by two minutes, stop acting like its two years.” He looked around at the trees around them, pretending to admire the beauty of their low, tilted trunks and cradle like branches. They were still very much children by Faerie standards, she didn’t have to act like he was her responsibility.
“Oleander.” The huff wasn’t needed to tell him that her patience was wearing out. Her emotions were more obvious than her glow.
“Belladonna.” At this point they usually ended up laughing and dropping whatever they had been arguing about. But this argument had been building up for a while. He’d been dodging this for days now.
She was always so pushy after a visit to their mother. Either wanting to see his wounds or to drag him around for so called fun while he just wanted to be left alone to heal and work out his frustrations.
“What did I do that you won’t talk to me?” He glanced down in alarm when he heard the sniffle. Belladonna’s eyes were welling up with tears, a mix of frustration and sadness if his empathy was right, and he didn’t know what the hell to do. “Do you still think I enjoy seeing you hurt?”
She wasn’t the crying type, not unless something really upset her and that wasn’t what he meant to do. He just didn’t want to talk to her about his feelings; she was good enough at guessing them. Telling her that the thoughts of mother turning her against still bugged him was a sure fire way to make her cry.
“Don’t cry,” he grumbled, though his annoyance was quickly crumbling when her eyes only got more watery. Tears were not his thing and they probably never would be. “Please don’t cry.”
It didn’t help to say please, not that it ever did when Belladonna got emotional. Instead he was left floundering while his sister made a horrible attempt at holding back her tears. He wasn’t sure if he was supposed to hold her like their father did when she got upset or if he was supposed to do something silly to get her to stop. Fixing it was going to be hard since that usually meant he had someone to hit but he was the one who had upset her this time.
“What did you say to your sister?” His back stiffened and he looked hopelessly up at his father. Kian was so much better with dealing with emotional females.
“I didn’t say anything!”
“That’s the problem!” Belladonna pointed out, letting their father wrap his arms around her shoulders. Oleander ran his hand through his hair; he just wasn’t going to win. “He won’t talk to me! He’s being moody and broody and I just wanted to know why he was upset.”
“Ah,” A small smile spread across his father’s face and Oleander became wary. Why was he smiling? “Don’t take it personally sunspot; males at his age are always moody and upset.”
Throwing his hands up into the air, he brushed past the pair and headed for their father’s home. His sister’s giggles were worth the joke at his expense but he wasn’t quite out of the woods yet. Belladonna dragging their father into meant he was going to have to explain himself to his father instead.
A smile tugged at his lips when his father’s deep laughter joined his sisters infectious giggling. It wasn’t all bad; his mother couldn’t take these moments away from him; no matter how much she tried.