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Of Fairy Tales and Ever After

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When she's sixteen years old, Vanessa finds her past and loses it, at the same time.

She's not entirely human. Her powers came for a reason. That reason's sort of life-threatening. That reason's also soul-threatening.

Her mother's her mother, her father was her father, but Catty is her sister though separate bloodlines run through their veins. She finds friends who will be like sisters. She loses sisters who become something less, something more, something locked away by dimensional walls, something floating free between the air and smog in the harbor.

Her entire life was stitched and woven years before her birth. The Atrox wanted her because of her bravery, and had the Fates weave her life into precise patterns. She was brave, because of the life the Fates wove her at the darkness's behest, to shape her into the woman it saw all those lonely centuries past. (How very circular.) But she made herself too, with every path chosen. She'll make herself again. She'll weave her own destiny under the moonlight.

She's going to die. She's going to live. She's going to live without precious memories of fairy tales and bittersweet partings.

She's going to die young. She's going to grow up.

Vanessa stands by the harbor, her fates balanced in one hand, and thinks how the mutually exclusive all happened. There is no impossible, only improbable reality.

Because it's never about cowardice or bravery, but who she wants to be. Because it's about those who become something else and those who stay behind, and those who are left behind by one choice or another, and she can leave Michael and her mother, or leave Jimena and the memory of Catty's sacrifice, but only one group needs her any longer.

Because she can hold tight onto what she was born for under the divine will, the duty both moon and darkness wove into her flesh and blood, and step out into the empty unknown, this life unraveling until she walks under moonlight and shadows, a burst of incorporeal memory among glittering stars; or she can choose the life she made for herself, days of forcing herself to let her words out again and again, the nights of singing onstage until she's drunk with excitement, with a boy who understands her, anchors her, and she can grow up and find a family and live and change the world too, maybe.

Either way, the girl she is now will die tonight. Under her savior and bane, her divine mother's eye, midnight rushes closer.

She's not ready to choose. She has to choose.

For Vanessa, there was only one ever after to her fairy tale, so she makes her choice.

It's simple, in the end. She's going to live.