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The Violin's Song: A Behind the Veil Segment

The vacant clearing in the woods behind Skyelar's house was no longer vacant. The trees that had perished from rot and old age were given new Life, and bloomed the bright orange and yellow foliage of autumn. With the change of the seasons, Skyelar was in love. The cooler Kentucky weather made it easier to go outside and tend to her garden. The freshly revived leaves that fell from the trees in their annual cycle of demise and re-birth made for a colorful and surprisingly soft cushion on which to sit.

Now more than ever, Skyelar documented every little magical thing she did. If magic was fluid, she certainly did not want to lose track of anything she had gained. Her ability to focus and separate herself from the world had come in handy over the last four months since her family insisted on outcasting her. Again. Although she was obligated to attend events such as church and the occasional family birthday celebration, Skyelar found it easier to just seclude herself from the rest of the Jerichos. Particularly today.

The air around her was more crisp and clean than usual. It flowed through her body and rejuvenated her with each inhale. In her purple yoga pants and a black off-the-shoulder sweater, Skyelar walked, barefoot, across her backyard to the trees she revived months before. It had been no easy feat. Skyelar had used her magic to grow a few flowers here and there, but even that was not perfect. Some of them died in spite of the aid of her magic. With Elias' help, however, Skyelar learned how to channel her magic and breathe new Life into the nature around her. The leaves crunched beneath her feet, a sound that was almost as orchestral as the music she heard in the distance. Glancing down at the ground, Skyelar shook her head with a smirk.

She only half-hoped to be alone today, but not everyone received that memo. Her father treated her to breakfast, which she enjoyed. It was always a pleasure to get to spend Time with Nole alone. Their bond was special and strong. Even when they disagreed, Nole's understanding and open-mindedness served as a valuable lesson for Skyelar to control her own temper. However, when Peyton tried to take her out to lunch, Skyelar's temper flared and the lunch was ruined with the both of them storming out, going their separate ways. Clearly, there was still some resentment for the way Skyelar broke up with Aezra.

Approaching the tall trees, Skyelar grinned at the sight. Her smiled spread so wide that her cheeks nearly covered her eyes. She felt like a fool, but did not care at that moment. Elias sat at a small table forged from tree roots that were brought to the surface. The chairs were made of soft ivy and flowers, and the crickets and birds around her chirped soft back-up instrumentals to the song being expertly played on a violin. She stopped before she reached the table and folded her arms as she shook her head. Elias stood in front of her, violin held firmly under his chin, playing a soft melodic tune to entice her to come closer.

"Happy birthday," he grinned. "I know you wanted to have Time to yourself today, but I didn't know what else to get you."

Skyelar giggled, feeling the heat rise to the surface of her cheeks, turning them a light shade of pink. She hoped it was not noticeable in the fading sunlight. "This is beautiful. Thank you."

Elias waved his hand over the violin and it continued playing the tune even as he leaned it upright against the tree. Walking toward Skyelar, he engulfed her in a warm embrace and kissed the top of her head. Skyelar pressed her body into his, inhaling his scent, feeling the warmth of his kiss rain over her body from the top of her head down to her toes. It electrified every nerve within her, and she just wanted to devour him.

"I didn't know you played the violin," Skyelar said when he finally released her from his intoxicating embrace.

Elias shrugged. "When you've lived as long as I have, you pick up a few instruments here and there. Piano, guitar, harp--"

"You can play the harp?" Skyelar gawked in wonder.

"I can, but the violin's my favorite. There's something about it's song that's so..." Elias tilted her head towards him and stared into her soft grey eyes. "Hauntingly beautiful."

Skyelar cast her eyes to the ground, nervous over the flutter in her stomach. He couldn't stare at her that way. Those piercing green eyes--a glimpse of summer in the thick of fall--they bored a hole straight into her heart, reading her every emotion. She wanted nothing more than for him to kiss her; that would be the best birthday gift of all. But patience was a virtue, and Skyelar knew it was still too soon. Even after spending nearly every waking moment together for five months, Skyelar knew she was not ready to dive into another relationship. She was finally starting to rekindle the flame that burned within. If she could keep that alive for a little while without much effort, Skyelar was confident she could survive another relationship without losing herself again.

"Come on," Elias said, taking her hand to lead her to the tree root table. "Come eat before it gets cold."

She followed him and sat on the plush flower chair, still grinning from ear to ear. It was such a silly thing, but she liked it. The simplicity of sharing a moment with Elias among the trees that he helped her revive with her magic. It was more like a celebration of how far she'd come in a short Time than anything for her birthday, but she would take it. Skyelar never was keen on making a fuss over her birthday anyway. Her mother had never tried very hard to celebrate it with her; Peyton always seemed to forget, which meant her father was the only one who was steadfast. Every year, he treated her to breakfast, bought her a small present, and let her enjoy the rest of her day without making a big commotion about it. This year, he bought her a new bible.

Cutting the deliciously seasoned chicken with her fork and knife, Skyelar closed her eyes and moaned softly. Was there anything Elias Luck couldn't do? He was a wizard with his magic, a patient mentor to her, and one Hell of a cook! She could really get to used to him hanging around to serenade her and feed her, if he let her. Looking up at him, she nodded and greedily took another bite without saying a word. The silence between them was light as the crickets and birds stopped chirping and they were left only with the sound of the violin. The song it played as it leaned against the tree entered her heart, lifting it until she wondered if she could fly. It sounded like a song of longing, and Skyelar felt that in her core.

"What song is it playing?" Skyelar asked, putting down her fork to sip her wine.

Elias hesitated to answer, taking a sip of his own wine to help gather his thoughts. "It's actually playing whatever's in my heart."

Skyelar stared at him, studying him for a moment as she leaned her elbows on the table with her chin resting on her clasped fingers. Was he embarrassed? A slight color came into his cheeks and it made her eyes smile. Elias Luck did not get embarrassed very often, so she considered this a rare treat. Whatever that song was in his heart, Skyelar could tell it carried a weight heavier than he might have been willing to admit he was carrying.

"It's a silly trick of magic," Elias said, suddenly waving himself off. "I can make it play whatever you want, if you don't like it."

"No, please." Skyelar's eyes widened and she shook her head. "I love this. It's like I can feel what you want to say through the music."

"Oh, really?" Elias leaned forward, mirroring her pose. "You think your magic is that strong that you can tell what I'm feeling?"

"To an extent," Skyelar shrugged. "You think you're so mysterious, but I'm pretty close to figuring you out."

The violin suddenly added a bouncing note amid the carefully slow-tuned song. It gave it a slight sense of urgency, as if it was chasing after a lover as she sped away on a midnight train. Skyelar winked, catching the change, and leaned back in her chair.

"Since it's your birthday," Elias chuckled, continuing to lean forward, "I suppose I can let you think you have me all figured out. Consider it my gift."

Skyelar laughed and it harmonized with the violin's song, carrying her laugh through the trees. She rose from the table and sauntered over to him. As much as she knew she was not ready for a relationship at this point in Time, that did not mean she couldn't have a little fun. Although the song being played was beautiful, she sensed its sadness and longing. It was the same sadness and longing that filled her heart most days. If she could change that song for just a moment, just one night, perhaps they would both be more ready than they thought for the next step in their quickly blooming relationship.

Sliding between Elias and the table, Skyelar leaned against the tree roots for balance. Elias leaned backward slightly, staring at her in glossy-eyed wonder with his hands holding her hips. The grey clouds in her eyes were darkening as the song in the air enticed her to dance. Carefully, Skyelar put her arms around Elias' neck and leaned forward. The violin's tempo went into a crescendo, and it encouraged her. She felt his fingers tighten around her hips as she hovered over his face, just a breath away from kissing him. She could have leaned forward then and devoured him as the dessert she so craved. She could have tempted him to tumble with her amid the brightly colored fall leaves.

But Skyelar froze in that position, hovering over Elias as she felt the impending doom approach them. She had two options: bring them into Focus to ignore the unwanted guests or deal with whatever drama was about to ensue.

"I'd vote for the former," Elias smirked, reading her thoughts. "They'll get the hint."

"As tempting as it is," Skyelar sighed, leaning back again, "it's probably better to scare them off myself."

The music fell in a decrescendo of sadness and mourning. In that moment, Skyelar's heart bled a little for what she almost had. This intrusion better be worthwhile or she might lose her temper. Skyelar did not even turn to look at her sister as she approached. She was just thankful Peyton was alone. Oh, she felt the other person with her on the main road, but there was no way Skyelar was allowing him passage.

"Wow, so this is where the music is coming from," Peyton smiled as she approached.

"What can I do for you, Peyton?" Skyelar wondered with a heavy sigh.

"Skye, please don't be upset. I wanted to come by and apologize for this afternoon." Peyton held out a small glittering black gift bag. "I let my personal feelings get in the way of what's important about today: you."

Skyelar rose from the table and walked toward her sister, taking the bag from her outstretched hand. Digging through the tissue paper, Skyelar removed a small, leatherbound notebook. A journal. It was not a grand gesture of apology, but it was something. Skyelar smiled because she knew Peyton had listened to at least one thing she said before their argument. It was touching.

"Thank you, Peyton. This is really sweet."

"I know you're going through a lot right now," Peyton said, "so I figured you could add this to your collection of magical thoughts or potions or whatever it is you do."

"Well, thank you. Even if you have no idea what I do with magic." Skyelar laughed and put the journal back in the bag. The silence between the sisters was thick and heavy as both of them tried to discern how to bring up the one subject that caused the most ruffled feathers.

"I'm sorry I interrupted your dinner," Peyton said, dancing around it. "I just...I thought that maybe...You know, if you talked to him..."

"God, here we go again!" Skyelar exclaimed, throwing the bag in the ground at Peyton's feet. "You can't just come in here and wish me a happy birthday with no strings attached. You have to have an alterior motive."

Elias rose from his chair to come toward them, the violin music echoing the worry in his heart. "What's going on? Peyton, did you bring Aezra here?"

"Well, no, not here, exactly," Peyton replied sheepishly. "He can't get passed the magic, so he's waiting on the side of the road."

"Why?" Skyelar demanded, her eyes darkening, slowly bringing clouds overhead to cast out the sun sooner than it should have been. "Why would you bring him here? It's been five months. I'm happy. I stand by what I did."

"But it's been five months," Peyton reasoned. "You've clearly changed, and I think he has, too. He wants to talk to you--"

Skyelar's phone buzzed in her pocket. Pulling it out, she scoffed at Aezra's name appearing on her screen. With an angry swipe of her finger, she answered, determined to put an end to this. "Go away, Aezra. I don't want to see you."

"Skye, please," Aezra begged on the other line. "Just let me come in and we can talk. I've had a lot of Time to think about what happened."

"So have I. So, no. You are not welcome here. You never will be again. And quit roping my sister into your sick games."

Peyton huffed and narrowed her eyes. "He is not roping me into anything..."

"Shut up." Skyelar held a hand up to silence her sister. "Aezra, go home. And leave Peyton out of whatever future schemes you have planned. You will not do to her what you did to me."

"All I ever did was love you, Skye," Aezra whined. "Wait. What's that music? Is that a violin? Skye, please don't fall for Elias' shit. I know him--"

"You don't know anything anymore. I'm hanging up now."

"Skye, wait--"

Skyelar pressed the red button on her phone to end the call before Aezra could say anymore. He immediately tried calling back, but she ignored him. "Peyton, you should go."

"Oh, come on, Skye," Peyton begged. "Just hear him out. I didn't come here to fight with you again. I just want to make sure you're doing the right thing. He was so good for you. For us."

"If you like him so much, then you date him!" Skyelar turned to walk away from her in an effort to preserve what little peace remained between them. "Now, please leave. I'd like to enjoy what's left of my birthday without you."

"Skyelar, you're being ridiculous."

Skyelar rounded on the ball of her bare foot and turned her dark eyes on her sister. Thunder clapped overhead and the wind howled, drowning out whatever else Peyton might have wanted to say. "You have thirty seconds to get out of my sight before I send you away myself."

To prove her point, Skyelar tossed the gift bag she carried back toward her sister, snapping her fingers to set it on fire before it reached Peyton's feet. Peyton yelped and stomped the flame out as Elias rushed to Skyelar, standing between the sisters in an effort to calm the raging storm before she did something worse than set a present ablaze. It was still an issue that Skyelar had, carrying her emotions in the atmosphere. She knew Elias wanted her to break that habit of releasing her anger and fear into the weather, but Skyelar enjoyed it. The strength she felt from it, fueled her and she knew she could inflict serious pain if she really wanted to. It was the one thing she could control while she was brainwashed by Aezra. It was the one piece of herself that Skyelar never lost.

"Skye, you don't want to hurt your sister," Elias reasoned. "She's leaving now. Aren't you, Peyton?"

Peyton lifted her hands in the air and slapped them against her thighs. "I guess I have to if she's going to be a pouty bitch about this. So, when you're ready to grow up and talk like an adult, come find me."

As Peyton walked away, Skyelar allowed the storm to pass. Elias rubbed his hands up and down her arms, stretching out her fingers so they were no longer in fists. Skyelar's phone buzzed in her hand. Lifting it to see what she already knew, Skyelar tossed her phone onto the round with a growl of agitation. Elias turned her head gently toward him so they could look in each other's eyes. All at once, the storm blew away with the wind, calming the woods around them.

Without even trying, Skyelar brought Elias into the safety of her Focus. In that bubble, it was just the two of them and the faint, muffled sound of his violin playing a worried, sad tune for her. Blinking slowly, Skyelar grumbled when tears fell down her face. She was so happy ten minutes ago. Hell, she was so happy for the last five months. Why did Aezra have such power over her emotions after she severed ties with him? She hated him so much for everything he had done to her, the Life he had taken from her. Yet, she still allowed him the ability to get to her. To annoy her and aggravate her when he called. She would have to keep working to move forward from that. Hopefully, that was something Elias could teach her. For now, though, Skyelar leaned forward into Elias' embrace and let a few tears fall onto his shirt.

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