A/N: This is a fic that’s way too close to my heart, but I appreciate comments and criticism all the same. Have you ever felt like you needed to get the words out or else you would die? This is my moment. Ah…no particular trigger warnings. Just me and my words, and hopefully it’s enough. Some days I feel like it’s all I’ve got.
Summary: Sometimes Lu forgets how to be a person. And there are times when her only source of comfort is the long-dead.
There are times when the ice in her veins feels too thick. Luciela's palms itch then, all the way to her fingertips with no way to release her nervous energy. There are moments when she feels like huddling in a corner of her bed, folding in on herself until she fades into the baseboards of the dormitory floor.
She wonders if there is anything wrong with her, but in the end it's all just white noise. It is times like these when Luciela is hypersensitive to being the Ice Queen. She feels her sub-zero temperature blood converting itself into crystallized fragments of blue and white, the pain so constant that she's already numb. She thinks about Judith, how the little Genius pricked needles into her soft, white skin. How Judith was surprised when Lu's blood wouldn't thaw, not normally. Luciela herself felt strange, seeing the thick red liquid. She's been cold for so long that she wouldn't be surprised if her blood was blue and white, complete with cracked patterns like the ice.
"Are you all right?" The whispers of a voice reach her ears, and she looks up, sees D's outline in the darkness of her bedroom. Minutely, she shakes her head. "...I...don't know." It takes awhile for the words to form, her breath creating puffs of hot air. Her mind feels sluggish, picking out the words as gently as sweet strawberries. There are times when only the dead can offer solace, and this is why she can’t bring herself to let D go. He’s too important to her; she’s too attached to his unassuming, friendly nature. He allows her to be herself, withdrawn and silent until she chooses to call out to him, to approach.
She wonders if that’s why she wanted to buy the penthouse for a year, despite having enough funds to have a vacation house built to the west of Redfern manor.
"Do you want to talk about it?" D is kind and gentle, curious about Lu and her emotions, how she expressed herself when they were alone. He has his own worries, but for now he wants to make sure his friend is all right.
Lu wouldn't be surprised if he just stopped visiting, if he left one day. "...maybe later. Please stay with me."
D floats down, down to her bed, until he's sitting next to her. He's transparent, but the cold fog encasing Luciela enables her to see his slight form. It's strangely enough to steady her, she feels, like he's her port in a crazy storm. Luciela's thoughts are messy and slide every which way, but D gives her time to sort it all out. Just knowing he was there, that strange presence of hot and cold made all the difference.
“....Some days I just...forget how to be a person.” she confides in him, her voice reedy soft in the expanse of her bedroom. Somewhere in the hallway a maid scurries to and fro, holding out a tray full of warm snacks and hot chocolate, the soft clinking noise echoing through the kitchen as she empties the cups in the sink. Lu just knew that would get a scolding later for not eating, but she hadn't wanted anything. Her hunger was muted, like the lazy landscape full of fresh fallen snow.
She hears a slight chuckle from her dorm mate, before he says, “Nothing wrong with that.” It diffuses the bundle of nerves in her heart, thaws away the cold. And slowly, beneath her veins, she feels the ice start to melt, start to thin out until she feels calmer, and falls asleep.
There are days when going to school is far too difficult for Lu, her small body unable to handle all the noise from outside. Her head aches from the sharp beam of sunlight that streaks across her face; the light makes her blue eyes shine, sparkles are trapped beneath the iris. It hurts, Lu thinks, as her maid prepares a bath for their Ice Queen.
Today is one of those days, the air itself collapsing into her lungs. The ice has frozen over again, and Lu finds herself shaking. Her skin feels prickly and too warm for the bath, but she doesn’t want to hurt the maid that’s scrubbing her skin. “My lady,” Lu hears the maid, but says nothing. The pinpricks that Judith made on her left shoulder is still there, still healing. They weren’t particularly painful, and Judith seemed pleased and interested enough to know why the blood wasn’t congealing despite the temperature.
“I’m okay. Blood donations. For school.” The maid doesn’t reply and cards her fingers through Lu’s white hair, pausing to lather it up with shampoo. The bathtub is hot and scalding, the Ice Queen’s skin flushed pink. It was the only way her powers would ever thaw out long enough for her to feel like a normal girl, taking a bath. She remembers moments when the maids hadn’t gotten it hot enough—and how when Lu sat in the tub, it froze around her, and that made her cry. The tears would freeze up on their way down her cheeks, until she was a frozen mass of ice and disappointment.
There are days when Lu’s heart feels too big for her chest, times when it beats so loud she feels like it will just outright stop. She allows the maid to dress her up, fluff her hair, and she opens the door of the penthouse. It feels like it weighs more than it should, and her steps are heavy as she walks towards the elevator. She prays Michael won’t be there to pick her up.
It’s too hard to be a person, this morning.
Luciela receives a text from Michael, telling her that he’s sorry but he has to go ahead of her—she thumbs back a reply that it’s okay. That she’s okay, and that she’ll see him later when she goes home. It gets easier to breathe now that she’s alone, headphones firmly in place. Before she knew it, she’s in the school gardens, where she sees Esther crouching down, taking care of some lavender plants.
Esther’s fingers are long, smooth and supple. Pianist’s hands, Lu thinks, as she looks down at the other girl, her blonde hair shining platinum in the bright sunlight. The seasons are shifting now, it’s getting less cold but Lu is still in a pale pink coat, buttoned up to her neck. The lavender plants are bright purple and there’s a ghost of a smile on Esther’s gloss-slicked lips.
“What are you doing here?” Esther’s voice pulls Lu back from her own mind, and she looks up. The other girl looks tired, lethargic even—slightly defeated, as if she just wants to get this conversation over with. Lu feels too sensitive to offer a witty remark today, and instead walks up to Esther and wraps her cold arms around Esther’s tiny waist, half-expecting the other to push away.
“What’s with you today?” Esther asked Lu, unsure how to feel about all this. After Lu had expressed that dressing Esther up was only out of pity, the blonde was even more confused than ever, choosing to stick with Claudia whenever Lu wasn’t terrorizing her with various outfits, determined to make Esther look like some kind of frilly fashion doll. Lu presses herself against Esther, the warmth a pleasant sensation to her cold. Gradually Lu’s thoughts come to a standstill, and her mind feels like slush. She’s glad Esther hasn’t pushed her away yet, hasn’t told her how much she hates Lu.
“Nothing much. I just needed to feel warm.” The smaller girl looks up at Esther, looks up into eyes full of wary disbelief. Somehow there’s a tiny flicker of sincerity in the tiny girl, though Esther feels like it’s some kind of trick. When nothing happens, the Divine registers that Lu’s shaking, and hears Kami-sama’s voice telling her to be still. Without meaning to, Esther’s thin arms snake around the smaller girl and pull her close like a mother would. Esther notes how Lu’s temperature has gone from freezing to slightly cold, and it was as if she were hugging a small ice pack, instead of a refrigerator ready to blast her with ice cubes at a moment’s notice.
The air around them is thick and heavy with words, but Lu can’t bring herself to say anything. Esther waits, standing there and absently her manicured hands pet strands of Lu’s hair. The Divine contemplates on scratching the little girl, but there’s something vulnerable about her today, far from her usual pompous attitude around the hallways. Esther supposes that Lu is different according to whoever she’s in front of—and normally she’s with Michael.
The Ice Queen feels The Divine’s hands tangled in her hair and wonders if Esther will wrap those fingers around her own throat, feels Esther’s breath hot on her neck. But she stays, and blessedly Esther does nothing, simply waits for Lu’s shaking to subside. “It’s been months, hasn’t it?” Lu finds herself saying, the words hanging in the air. Esther rests her chin on Lu’s head, on the mop of glossy white hair. Lu smells like milk and honey, a pleasant contrast to her cold personality. “It has.” The other girl replies quietly, months of awkwardness stretched between them.
They stay that way, until the bell rings and Lu gently starts squirming, pushing the other girl away. “If things had been different…” Luciela starts to say, before she shakes her head and smiles, a bittersweet rose amidst the lavender plants. “…I’ll see you around.” Without another word, Lu starts walking, leaving Esther feeling very confused about the entire thing.
Esther’s phone beeps, and there’s a single message from Lu.
Message: I think you’d look pretty with sprigs of lavender in your hair.
When school has finished and the sun is setting, Luciela stays behind, watching through the window as the sky turns into a mess of pink and orange, streaked with lavender. She looks outside, towards the buildings and wonders what her life would have been like if the betrayal never happened in Denmark. She closes her eyes and listens to the wind whistling through the trees, and sighs. That was a life she’d never be able to see. She can’t imagine living in the cold towers, unable to imagine a world where sunshine filtered through greenery twice a year.
Lu thinks about Ciel’s sharp cheekbones, his blue eyes and his easy smile. How he accepted her, despite her inability to care about anyone other than herself—and how easily he gave her affection, the sort that her mother neglected to give. Lu’s family wasn’t very affectionate, and the most love her mother was able to give Lu was through a look of warmth. Ice Queens weren’t meant to thaw, and why would she be any different? Where else would she draw her own powers from, if not from the ice wrapped around her heart? And yet, thanks to her bodyguard’s care, the heir to the Chilliarch throne felt warmer day by day—until the attack.
The Ice Queen thinks about Michael, and how she can’t comprehend how he can give her friendship and affection so openly, so readily. He understands that she comes from a family of sharp wit and silent gazes, soft smiles and weighed words. Raising her two hands, Luciela imagines for a moment that her Stradivarius is there.
Sometimes, all she has is the music.
For a moment, she could almost hear the strings bending to her will, playing Ave Maria.