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Elyon

[The Thorn]: Chapter One

Title: The Thorn
Summary: Sequel to 'The Rose'. Nearly stripped of their powers, Elyon and Phobos work as both allies and enemies to retrieve the Heart of Meridian from Nerissa. 
Pairing(s): Elyon/Phobos
Warnings: incest
Fandom: W.I.T.C.H.


The Thorn

Chapter One

-o-


"I…" Elyon feels like she's drowning. First that…with her brother, and now this. She feels drained, weak, and she knows that the mage- whoever she really is- is telling the truth. "How?"

The old woman smiles at her, looking like the witch from one of the nastier fairy tales. "You really shouldn't accept gifts from strangers, princess. And you should certainly never return them." The necklace swings in her hand, the jewel catching the light.

"So you played both of us for fools," Phobos surmises, death in his voice, and Elyon is relieved despite herself, desperate for her brother to take control of the situation as she can't.

"Yes, and now I have two fools to dispose of."

Phobos moves before she can, blocking the lightning which comes from the old woman's hand. The next shot flashes a second later, arcing straight towards Elyon, and she holds her hands up, expecting to die, because surely Phobos won't save her…

But a shield of magic forms in her hands, diverting the lightning. Relief mixes with adrenaline, and Elyon gasps. So she's been drained, but not entirely. That's something, right?

Phobos glances down at her. "Take the defensive," he commands, and then he's off, trading blows with the old woman.

Elyon follows, her flight a little unsteady with lack of practice, and she focuses on shielding him. The thought that she's protecting Phobos, and why is she doing something so stupid, flashes through her mind, but it breaks like glass against a million other concerns. There's no time to think in a fight, not really, and her bones ache as the old woman's powers strike against her shields.

They're overpowered, the Heart of Meridian suddenly their enemy, and Elyon doesn't let herself think about how this battle could end.

One of her shields breaks, and Phobos' arm is hit. It hangs uselessly, burns already showing on his hand.

Black fire eats at the old woman's flesh, and Elyon gasps, her attempt to rebuild their shield forgotten. Her brother never taught her this sort of magic.

The fire is dispelled a moment later, but the woman's skin is burned straight through in places- slick, bleeding muscle shows in patches, the upper layer of skin gone. Elyon is sure that she's going to be sick.

The woman vanishes into some sort of portal, and Elyon collapses to the ground, gasping for breath.

Deep breaths, deep breaths… She is not going to be sick right in front of her brother. "You okay?" she asks when the nausea goes down.

Phobos lands more gracefully, and footsteps approach her. "Your games are wasted now, dear sister. The ruse is up."

Treacherous tears form in Elyon's eyes. She probably shouldn't feel guilty for betraying Phobos, but she does. "I'm sorry," she says, again, knowing that it can never be enough.

"I have no patience for failure or betrayal, sister. Be grateful that I have use for you."

Weaker than him now, and exhausted from battle, Elyon knows that there's no point in trying to fight back or escape.

-o-

Lying in her old bed, dusk seeping in through the window, Elyon gives in to the childish hope that when she wakes up, everything will be different. She won't have slept with her brother, she won't have betrayed him, she won't have lost the Heart of Meridian for both of them… She'll be back in her prison of roses where she belongs.

Wait, no, that's not right. She'll be back in her bed on earth, ready to go to school and be lied to by her friends and be comforted by Cedric, who's lying to her, too…

God, when was the last time her life was normal? Was it ever normal? Or were there just the times when she believed all the lies everyone told her? Her parents, her friends, Cedric, her brother…

Well, Phobos doesn't lie to her anymore, who knows why. And maybe that's why she's developed these odd feelings about him. For all that they're enemies, these past few years have been the only ones in which she wasn't lied to. It's a relief, in a way, to know that this confusing mix of care and hate is at least real. So much of her life hasn't been.

Phobos hates her, but he can't bring himself to kill her. She's sure of it, sees it in his eyes when he looks at her, filled with disgust as they are. Disgust at her. She'd never have thought that her brother, evil as he is, would have reason to look at someone else that way. But he kind of does.

She wishes she hadn't done it, even as she knows that she'd do it all over again, given a chance. The people of Meridian deserve a real leader, not a tyrant.

So when did doing the right thing become so…so wrong?

-o-

Her brother was the one who sealed the doors, locking her in, so when they open she knows it's him even before she looks.

The disgust is gone from his eyes- they're back to the old mocking calm, the eyes of a man who knows he can control everyone and everything around him like puppets. Well, it could be worse. At least he's sort of back to normal. "I trust you slept well, sister?"

"Yeah right," she mutters, and things are definitely on their way back to normal, for he responds with that narrowing of his eyes he always gives when he thinks her speech is particularly ill-bred. "So, uh…"

"My attempts to scry the sorceress have not met with success, but she is sure to attack again once she is recovered."

"So you'll steal the heart back from her." Elyon wishes she had an idea of how to steal it first, but she still feels too worn out to have any hope.

Phobos nods. "And you, dear sister, are security."

"Security?"

Her brother's face is full of distaste. "The sorceress is far more powerful than either of us. If one is slain, it falls to the other to ensure that the heart is returned to the hands of an Escanor."

So loyalty to the family he hates is her savior. That's…Elyon really isn't sure how to feel about that. "I can't fight her like you can, though," she points out.

"And we shall be working to rectify that."

Elyon just stares at him, dumbstruck. He'd taught her magic before, but never anything that she might be able to use against him. After she betrayed him, now her brother decides to give her power over him?

"So…who are you, and what have you done with my brother?"

Phobos ignores that. "You have been assigned a maid. She will be here shortly to prepare you and escort you to the throne room. Be sure not to be late."

Before Elyon can say that she can't tell the time in Meridian, he's gone.

Her maid arrives what must be a few minutes later, and, though she seems nervous, not saying a word, she helps Elyon through breakfast and dressing, for some reason choosing a white gown rather than a robe for her. Elyon isn't in the mood to agonize over clothes, so she goes along with it. Not really knowing how to do it with magic, Elyon lets her do her hair in its three braids. She has the stupid thought that it doesn't look as good as when Phobos does it, and tries to quash it.

In the hallways people look at her in shock, and some have hope shining in their eyes. Elyon squirms guiltily. She wants to, but she doesn't know that she can free them. Her last attempt to defeat her brother ended pretty disastrously, after all.

Elyon cracks one of the doors to the throne room open, peeking in. For a moment she flashes back to the old days, and expects to see it full of light and roses, with her brother there to indulge her, and Cedric there to fake interest before going off to work.

But instead the throne room is that odd mix of dark and light, monstrous plants next to pleasant plants with deadly purpose. And Cedric is there, but he seems to be arguing with Phobos- well, the kind of arguing you do when you're the most trusted general of a tyrant and still can't really oppose him, anyway.

"Are you certain of this, my king?" Cedric asks, and it's weird to hear him calling Phobos anything other than prince. "The princess may be weak, but she also possesses the ability to take your rightful power from you. And the rebels…"

"Will not have access to her. Let them hope- it won't do them any good." Phobos' voice is dismissive. "However, Cedric, we have a common enemy, and my sister shall be useful in the coming battles."

"Do you know the identity of this enemy?"

Phobos looks at Cedric, probably considering what to tell him. "A sorceress who commands the fifth element. It is difficult to be certain after all this time, but I believe I have faced her before…on Zamballa."

Apparently that means something to Cedric, because he nods.

"Now, the security needs to be seen to- guards will do little to keep her out. We will need to locate wards capable of holding against her power."

"I will see to it, my king," Cedric murmurs, bowing.

Before he can turn around and see her, Elyon knocks and opens the door. "Um, hi."

"Ah, Princess Elyon." Cedric turns to smirk at her, and his voice is a hiss.

Elyon stares back at him coldly. She might not be as powerful as before, but she can still take him. "Cedric."

"So cold," Phobos says, unprejudiced in his mocking. "I do hope we can all work together while our fair land is at risk."

'Evil plants,' she mouths at him, and now he's smirking, too. But it's at her joke, so that's all right.

"Of course, Highness," Cedric says, but he's looking at Elyon, and instead of derision, he just seems confused. Or contemplative. Cedric does angry contemplative, but nothing so vulnerable as confused.

And this is the world she's stuck in, now. She holds back a sigh. At least her relationship with her brother has taught her something about intrigue. "So, brother, you said you recognize that sorceress?"

"Perhaps. If it is her, age has certainly not been kind."

So much for straight answers. What was it he'd said? "Fifth element…"

Her brother smirks as the answer lights in her eyes. "The Guardians are difficult foes to forget."

Elyon wonders how she can get in touch with her Guardians. She knows she's transparent, but it's not like it's hard to guess her thoughts on that count. A part of her is scared of seeing them again, though, after everything that's happened. Everything she's done…

Her hands clench the trailing sleeves of her gown, marring the pretty white silk. White… Belatedly, she realizes what a slight from her brother it is, having her dressed in white. Mocking the purity which she gave to him and let him destroy. Or destroyed herself. She's not sure who's more at fault here.

Phobos is watching her knowingly, and she wants to avert her eyes, but that would show weakness, so instead she meets him head-on, ignoring the red she knows is forming in her cheeks. She can't help being embarrassed, but she can help being weak.

Finally Phobos releases her and says to Cedric, "See about those wards. I want them in place and tested before the sorceress is recovered enough to make another attempt."

Again Cedric bows, and then leaves the throne room. Elyon thinks it's probably for the best- she doesn't know how to feel about Cedric now that they're enemies. How much of his friendship with her was a lie? She should probably assume all of it, just to be on the safe side.

Phobos doesn't seem inclined to say anything yet, so Elyon wanders the gardens, making sure to steer clear of the rose bushes. Roses are definitely her least favorite flowers.

"Cedric doesn't know about the heart, does he? He thinks she's after something else."

Her brother doesn't reply, which makes her think she's hit the mark. Elyon realizes that she's just stumbled on a weapon against him, and she knows with as much surety that she's not going to use it against him.

"The Heart of Meridian is bound to the Escanor line- only one of our number may take the heart without the permission of its current holder. Now that the sorceress has been given the heart," Phobos looks at her mildly, which is scarier than if he'd just glared, "She will seek to eliminate us and secure the heart as hers permanently. She will attack again, and that will be our chance to retrieve it."

Our. It's weird, to hear that word coming from her brother. He never counts himself in with anyone, so why is he doing it now? All he has to do is lock her up again and use her as bait, not…whatever it is he's doing. Preparing her to fight alongside him, he'd said, but why would he do that?

Hours later, exhausted from their 'training' (Phobos' word for it- hers it 'torture'), Elyon gets it. The sorceress stole most of her power, but the jewel must not have had enough time to absorb all of it- she's about equal in power to Phobos now. He probably can't imprison her anymore- she'd be able to hold him off for at least long enough to escape. And he's not strong enough to face the sorceress alone, so he needs her help.

Their eyes meet, understanding passing between them. They need each other for now, but it's not a true alliance- it's a race to determine who can steal the heart back faster.

Chapter Two

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