The blood on the map slowly began to trail around the North America continent, going zigzag every few seconds which was starting to make Malva go crazy at the mere sight of it. Her icy blue hues was trying her very best to keep up with the updates but it kept going around and it was slowly frustrating the Aspect of Magic. It was granted that Malva Ailward was never the most patient when it comes to anything, but her tolerance still had its own level that she still hasn't played with the top. She's been spending her entire day trying to track where Octavia and Vladimir might have gone to before all of this. Before she could even pinpoint any actual location, the trail of blood stopped and the map burned itself, which caused her to step back slightly and groaned out in distress. “What the hell, this is like my 6th map I've used today.” she grumbled to herself and averted her eyes away from the burning map and to a dozen more maps rolled up, standing idly by at the corner of her bed.

To say she was stressed would be an understatement, because she wouldn't even be surprised if she grew crazy because of this one thing. As she watched the map slowly burned itself to ashes on the table, she sighed and massaged her temple before lowering her touch to the bridge of her nose and mumbled a few words of profanities under her breath. Thankfully the fire didn't eat up her mahogany desk, just the map. Which was weird. But since they live in a highly questionable supernatural world, nothing comes as a surprise anymore. Malva decided to do one more try before giving up for today. Yes, for today. She threw the ashes into her dustbin and spread a map on the table.

Taking the silver dagger she usually used for her ritualistic spells and ceremonies, the brunette Ailward made a clean cut on her right palm before letting the blood drip on the map for a while. Slowly inhaling the air inside her room, she wrapped a cloth around her palm, which had unfortunately suffered at least 6 times, from her attempts to conduct a locator spell using blood magic to find out where their two finest guards could have been during their mission. Octavia didn't remember anything and she couldn't get anything that would truly help her with this search, so it was up to Malva to see if she can retrace their steps back. Though her attempts were always futile since her first try. Closing her eyes briefly, she mumbled the spell and fluttered them open once she finished. The blood once again trailed to another continent, this time the same as her first try; Middle East.

Without thinking much of it, due to her repressed state, the map caught on fire, but this time it came from the frustrated Ailward Aspect. She threw the map into the dustbin, leaving it to burn to all its might and plopped herself on the bed, covering her face with one of the pillows. It wasn't until a few minutes later that she jolted back up to sitting position, and mumbled one name and rushed to exit her room to god knows where. Really, that was just her going to get some coffee in the kitchen because her head couldn't take the pressure without coffee to aid her day.

What the Aspect of Magic did not expect to find was a rather particular blonde sitting by the greenhouse while she was halfway pouring herself a cup. She got herself another cup and poured the same amount before she make her way to the location. Pushing the glass door to the greenhouse, she pursed her lips slightly and frowned softly. She hated seeing her so sad. “I planted those carnations a while back.” She stood by the corner, with two mugs in both hands. She was itching to offer the drink, two reasons why; Octavia looks like she's in need of one, and her right palm was still wounded due to her reckless action earlier. Malva took a seat next to the nephilim on the bench and offered her one. “You look like you need coffee.. And someone to talk to.” Her tone was soft, which wasn't always used around, but when Malva cares, she shows them. 

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Octavia always remembered being able to describe herself as strong. Strong was who she was at her core, she had always been the one able to stand steadfast in the face of danger, the one who looked death in the eye and told it to go to hell. And since coming back to Evermore and finally telling her truth on what happened that fateful night, that was exactly what she was trying to be, strong. The blonde Nephilim couldn’t afford to break down in front of her family, she was a mother, she had two children to take care of and she had to be strong for them. Especially Gabriel who had lost his last real parent.

But being strong for everyone else definitely took a toll on Octavia, she felt it like a bunch of bricks loaded onto her shoulders that she just kept adding to in the name of what was best for everyone else. But inside her mind was a very dark place right now, a mix of self-doubt and pain like she had never felt before. Octavia had lost her forever and she wasn’t taking it well and even her polite smiles and telling everyone she was fine wasn’t always enough to hide it.

There was still so little she knew about what happened to Vlad that night, all she remembered was blacking out and him being gone. She had felt the moment he died through the ring she wore on her left hand but there was nothing she could have done, it was like she had been trapped in a pitch black room with no windows or doors, all she could do was scream and shout into the void. And when she finally regained consciousness, time had passed. She had spent weeks cutting herself off from her connections to the rest of the Ailward, in her grief and confusion she had needed time to herself to process. She knew she couldn’t go home in that state.

And now she had finally come home and she still felt as alone as ever, she had lost her love story and while she knew she had to go on, she guessed she had somewhat lost the will to want to. Right now the only reason she was here at all was because her family was here and they were all she had left. The blonde sighed softly leaning a hand against her face, she often came out to sit on the step by the greenhouse because for the most part it was out of view and she didn’t have to worry about putting on a fake smile or pretending she wasn’t going through the harshest pain she had ever experienced.

The was why she was a little taken aback when she heard the door to the glass structure and the voice commented on the flowers that the green-eyed Nephilim had been staring at for the past hour or so “They’re pretty” she commented doing her best to keep her voice from wavering, it wasn’t much use though. There were people she could hold herself together for but the aspects, they knew her better, she had seen the look of horror in their eyes that day when she returned and it hadn’t left. They knew what all this was doing to her. Octavia took a long breath before she took the mug Malva offered and gave her a weak attempt at a smile “I didn’t think I’d ever be able to say that I hate the thought of forever” she commented as she lifted the cup to her lips and took a long drink “But forever now means never getting to see him again” more than anything she just missed him so much, Vlad was always the one who brightened her life and him being gone, it opened the door to a lot of darkness.

Malva wasn't emotionless, no matter how often she would always put them in a dormant area in her head, there's never a moment where she's truly detached from them. At least there would be one of two remaining behind, the ones she'd eventually focus on. She didn't choose not wanting to feel anything, but how can she allow herself to feel the luxury of emotions alone when she knew the calamities that could come running after if she messed up? No matter how big of a risk taker she is, that's one she couldn't amount to. Lately, it's been spilling though. One by one decided to make an appearance despite the incident 400 years ago, and she couldn't find the strength in her to push it away and make way for another room once more. Perhaps she missed how it felt to feel genuinely. Like for an instance, now.

Seeing Octavia this sad made her upset in ways she never thought was possible for her. Malva could feel her heart breaking at the mere sight of seeing the nephilim surround herself with the dark clouds. This is by far the saddest and somewhat detached she's seen her in, and for someone whom the Aspect of Magic remembered to be a kind and bright soul, it really tainted her memory. There was a small gap in between them, and she could only give a tight lipped smile when the flaxen haired female took the other cup of coffee she offered earlier. Averting her gaze to the blooming carnations that Octavia seemed to be staring at earlier, she placed her coffee on the table next to her after taking a quick sip. “Do you know what carnations stand for? What they mean and what kind of symbolism did they represent?” she asked, deciding to take this slow as it was possible for them both.

There was no point in rushing everything even though they were under the circumstances to be doing so. They didn't know what happened and they were kept in dark about everything that occurred. Malva would lie if she said it doesn't stress her out. So many occurrences happened for the past few months, and it was too good to be coincidences. She could sense nature itself feeling pesky when she was checking out ancestral magic, which caused her to be uneasy seeing as the latest full moon would come by around March 20th. That was only in 20 more days give or take. Celestial events that would infuse magical attachments, it worries her to no end.

Hearing that the other female talked about Vladimir caused an ache inside her. The two of them had been their earliest guards that stood with them for over a millennium long, and it's safe to say that they were all family. If they felt the absence leaving an impact on them on the personal side, what more of Octavia who had been his wife? And what of Illiana and Gabriel? The Russian born brunette couldn't fathom the pain and emptiness they would've suffered. However much she wanted to speak about that, she couldn't bring herself to do it. Mal didn't want her to cry or be upset no longer, all of that eventually messes up with your head. So she only placed a soft reassuring hold on her shoulder. “Forever doesn't sound as appealing as it once was, does it?”

A part of her wondered if she would be able to get a glimpse of whatever that happened if she went inside her head, but even Malva couldn't handle her own memory lane, much less the angel child's. Deciding against it, she would resort to a much more calmer method. “I hope you know we're all here for you, O. Things are tense these days and people might be a lot more busier than ever, but that doesn't mean we have no time to spare at all.”

Octavia wasn’t sure if coming back here would make her feel better or worse about the whole thing and honestly she was still unsure, being around her family reminded her that she had a purpose and being around those people did make her feel brighter and happier but she also couldn’t grieve properly because she had to be strong for everyone else which was doing all kinds of screwed up things to her mind. Staring at the flowers absentmindedly was helping her to clear her head though plus the fresh air was appreciated “I have no idea” Octavia admitted, her slightly glossed over eyes still watching the blooms as they swayed in the wind a little, she was glad it was starting to get warmer and that spring was here, she glanced at the brunette for a second “Enlighten me” the green-eyed Nephilim smiled, distractions were welcome right now.

The guard wasn’t foolish enough to think that her troubles truly mattered in the grand scheme of things, the whole of the Ailward faction would feel Vladimir’s death, because he was the single longest serving member and a valued mentor and teacher in the Ailward community, but someone would come along to fill those shoes, Venetus would choose a new personal guard and the world would keep spinning. It was only her world that felt like it was slowly grinding to a halt and she knew she had to deal with that or risk being left behind.

“No” Octavia responded as she leaned into the gentle touch Malva put onto her shoulder, the blonde wasn’t sure how she could even face the idea of forever now, before she had been excited because it meant more adventures and stories to tell but now all she could see was a future filled with missing him. And she knew she was probably just being depressive right now and maybe one day she would wake up and begin to feel a bit better but right now it just hurt “It makes you wonder what the big plan is” Octavia commented as she looked up towards the sky for a moment, why did the gods choose to make people live for so long and why did they take people away “I keep asking that question but I know I won’t get an answer” she admitted with a shrug, she was angry at the world right now.

The most frustrating part about it all though was not knowing what happened and not being able to do anything about it, Octavia would have felt better about if she had someone to blame but all she had instead were questions that weren’t going to be answered, her memories were a blank hole, like she had had them ripped from her skull and every time she tried to think back to that night she just came down with a migraine “The problem is I can’t ask you to be, because the only way we find out the truth is by every one of you being on your game when it comes to figuring all this out” she had no doubt that if anyone was going to figure out what happened it would be the aspects.

Making small talks were nowhere near what Malva is good at, it wasn't her forte but it didn't mean she was truly bad at it. She just didn't have enough practice to last herself a good spot is all. But with Octavia, someone so close that's family for her, it should be easy. Emphasis on the should be. Malva couldn't even sort her own head and emotions in one place, so she had no place in judging others nor did she have a spot to calm someone else by saying everything's okay, because let's be real, the Aspect of Magic is a very natural pessimist, but she's also a realist. Octavia is smart, and it doesn't take a brainer to know things were not going to be okay after this. They will have to pick up a few pieces and resume everything in building it back up, the foundation they lost 2 years ago. That's the only thing she can assure of.

So she took the chance to elaborate more about the particular delicate flower, carnations, which was by far her favorite flower compared to others. Picking favorites were never her best decision since she's quite indecisive, and the Russian born woman loves her plants, no kidding. It was why she had a special space that compartmentalize her own in the greenhouse. Flowers and rare herbal plants were everywhere there, mostly used by herself for her alchemy tendencies. From the corner of her eyes, she saw a few patches of gypsophila aka baby's breath. A flower doesn't pure and fragile, she says it represents one's purity and innocence. One touched and messed with, the light would fade much like dandelions.

“Carnations vary from different colors and meanings respectively. Some would come as positive as it could, whilst the other part dwells deeper in the dark pits. Personally it became my favorite because of how real and raw it is. It could serve as gifts for both the living and dead. A perfect balance. White symbolises pure love and good luck, light red symbolizes admiration, while dark red represents deep love and affection. Purple carnations imply capriciousness, and pink carnations carry the greatest significance, they say it's a mother's undying love,” she explained intricately, trying to surmise it into one simplified version. “Some people think the name was derived from Greek which meant incarnation. That's what I was taught when I was a child, at least. The purple carnations.. It's usually a flower of death, one of those in the funeral hierarchy. Sometimes people accompany a white one with it too, since it gives good luck to the souls on the other side.”

It reminded her of the old days where she would always decorate the entire place with a variety of flowers hanging by the pillars and every corner, so serve as a meaning far more than just a simple decoration. She always hung around purple carnations though, and she wasn't sure if it was just the color enthralling her. Purple was a hard color to come by, even before. Malva also had a big love for chrysanthemums and lilies, flowers associated with both brightness and death itself, which paled in comparison sometimes, but leading the same meaning when it comes to her. When she saw her gaze into the slightly dimmed but still bright sky, she hummed to herself. “I question it too, sometimes. Occasionally a lot more than I should.” Since the person she is today was basically born from the gods’ will, she shouldn't have questioned them but she couldn't help but to ponder.

“You ask because you want an answer. But the worst part is also knowing you won't receive one but you asked anyway.” Hope, such a powerful tool. It was prevalent enough to push one to a breaking point or rejuvenate them. “I ask too many questions sometimes.. It's becoming slightly detrimental to my health even.” Let's not leave it to Malva Ailward to talk about mental health, she can be a doctor and she'd still wear the hypocritical suit when it involves herself. “I tried.. My best to get back on my game but unfortunately, even I can't promise anything fruition because I'm not on my feet these days,” she mumbled softly, the tip of her fingers circling the rim of the mug as her sapphire hues pierce the black color of the coffee. “I can't even work the simplest spells, it's.. Frustrating. I feel like it's only pushing me to take a break on this path and resort to another that might break me.” Upon saying those words, she raised her free hand up, the bandage loosening a bit around it, with a small amount of blood tainting the once white bandage.

“Maybe what we need is rest.. But that doesn't even make sense.”

Octavia couldn’t say she’d ever really paid all that much attention to flowers, they were pretty sure, but they were just something that was there for her, not something she had ever studied or even really wanted, Vlad had bought her flowers once and she’d put them in a vase but they had died pretty quickly and she moved on. She supposed flowers in the ground was better though, at least these ones would regrow every year and bring happiness to people over and over again “They’re very simply” Octavia commented as she reached out to touch one of the blooms gently with her index finger “I never really took the time to look at flowers, always so busy” her voice sounded a little spaced out, the way it did all the time lately, like she was talking about also somewhere else entirely at the same time. “Purple has always been my favorite color though” she pondered with a tilt of her head, did that mean she felt connected to death somehow, she glanced over to Malva with a puzzled expression.

She had no doubt that the aspects questioned why, how could they not question why considering all the responsibilities they held, she didn’t think she’d be able to if she was them anyway. She’d always had a great amount of respect for the aspects, seeing everything they gave up in the name of serving the world and still managing to live their lives to some degree, it was an example for everyone to follow. Octavia joined the guard of her own accord because she had been inspired by the work the aspects did and still to this day that feeling remained, even though she had lost nearly everything, she still found these people to be like home for her “Sometimes I wonder if it makes me a bad person to ask but, I’m not the kind of person who can just accept things for what they are and move on” she was a fighter that way, if there was something she could do about something then she would, the problem was, in this case, she had already tried everything she could think of and so accepting was the only move she had left.

The green-eyed Nephilim turned her gaze towards Malva and watched her as she talked, it was clear that the aspect was going through a lot too, Octavia wasn’t blind to see that everyone here was hurting too, that was why she was doing her best to keep it together and keep a distance from everyone when she showed her grief, no one needed that extra level of stress right now. The blonde widened her eyes a little when the aspect of magic spoke about going down a dark path though, Octavia had been around long enough to know what happened when Malva got too close to dark magic, she blonde shook her head sharply “Absolutely not, that’s not the solution and you know that” okay Octavia tended to act a bit like the mother of the guard, she was a take charge and don’t do anything stupid kind of girl but this was more than that, she was feeling damaged and she wasn’t sure how she would survive losing more family or friends “There’s no way that turning to dark magic will end anyway but you going insane Mal” her gaze was unwavering filled with reason which hadn’t been there before.

The Nephilim guard gave a long frustrated breath, the problems and drama never seemed to end, she never got a break from it because she was always too worried about someone else getting hurt and she had been right to worry because she had lost her soulmate because of it. Realizing she had gone totally momma bear on the aspect her expression softened again “Sorry, I just can’t afford to lose anyone else right now” each of the aspects felt like a close friend to her now considering she had spent almost as long as they had served the cause.

Malva doesn't usually pay attention to other things that couldn't take her mind off, because in a way, she only viewed those able to take her mind off worth it all. Petty probably, but what does she care. Flowers had been her way to escape the world, where she would be able to surround herself away from the life she had now. She didn't hate her life, she's here because she chose it after all. But it would be a lie if she said it wasn't beginning to be tiring and hectic everywhere else. Lately, everything seemed so busy, the elements included. One turned to two and two turned to three. It was a surprise she was still holding on, knowing just how easy it was to sway Malva. “Perhaps you should some time off.. You know, to sort yourself out. A physical cannot cope without a strong mental, O” she chided softly, her fingers finding itself threading her blonde locks. She remembered braiding their hair often once upon a time ago. That's how long the Ivakovs and Dimitreus had been with them, it hurts to see them like this. When did all of that small but meaningful gestures stopped between them?

And why did it stop?

Malva had no idea. It was dismissed as easily as an adult would say ‘time' whenever someone asked why they stopped growing up or why they stopped playing. The time they spent together as one family had decreased and lessen throughout the years, and she couldn't find the strength in her to give a reason why. It hits too close to home, she thought. The Aspect of Magic hummed and allowed her blue optics to fall on the flower that Octavia touched, where it then slowly bloomed a lot more, the colors protruding from the hues, every melanin popping out from their covers. The purple tinge looked even more beautiful, if that was possible. She smiled at the action, it was one of those moments when she reconnected with nature and enabled the surge of magic in her her, when they actually worked. Mal remembered this is one of her first attempts to connect with her magic as a child, centuries ago. It was nostalgic, beautiful but just as painful.

“You're talking to me, who's color given is purple. Believe me, I've been studying what that color meant throughout the centuries… they represent so much, you would be surprised. The color purple is often associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and ambition. That's what people knew of it, but they forgot it is also a color palette of creativity, wisdom, dignity, grandeur, devotion, peace, pride, mystery, independence, and magic” Perhaps it was why she was entrusted this color to begin with. “Purple combines the stability, between the fire and water, the light and the dark. Though it is also the color of mourning in some places” Only Octavia could actually prompt her to speak so deeply about such topics, to carry her own in the conversation with ease. The nephilim always exuded that calming air that she couldn't help but to bask in. Admittedly, she is an angel child.

To many others, Octavia served as a mother figure, she wasn't excluded from the lot. There were times when Aurelia took the spot and it seemed only fair for them sisters to be sharing the title. “You're not greedy. Even if you are, sometimes you can't be too selfless, it'll take a toll on you. There's only so much a person can handle. You're a fighter, you will find a way eventually… I wish I could say everything's going to fine but you and I both know that's not where this path will take us. No point in dwelling around make believe fictitious things” It was almost upsetting to see how little of hope she had left to spark the light in her but that's how reality was. Each year, it dimmed rather than being lit up. The sad thing was that everything Octavia said was true, there was no way she would survive the trip down without resulting in herself spiraling downwards to insanity. “This is where you ask if the choice is yours or not. I have a choice to make, but both ends wouldn't bring the same outcome. Hope tricks you like a double edged sword, shouldn't I make the most while I could?”

Pointing to the purple carnation that bloomed rapidly earlier, she then made a circular motion to the entire patch. “You see that? Only one bloomed but not the rest. That's probably the easiest form of light magic someone could do, and I can't even manage. It's no wonder why I couldn't achieve what I wanted now, it never goes up to 100% or even 80%. I'll be lucky if it reaches 50%...” she sighed heavily, showing how this is clearly messing with her right now, especially when it wasn't the time where she should be slacking with what's happening. “I miss it when you go momma bear on me, you know. I'll never admit it, but I do miss being treated like just Malva” She used to see expectations as part of the challenge, and she was as ambitious as one could get. Unfortunately, it was no longer the same. “I think we should reserve one day and have some therapy going on.. Everyone's so repressed, it's beginning to affect the mood” And that's coming from her.

Octavia shook her head at the suggestion of time off, time off had been so much worse for her, it just meant more and more time thinking about everything she had lost and the pain she was feeling, the Nephilim much preferred the approach of keeping herself busy so that she didn’t have too long to dwell on what-ifs and whys “No time off is going to make me feel any better about this” she admitted with a sad smile “I’d rather feel like I still have purpose than sit around and wonder where I fit in” and perhaps it was true that the guard didn’t need her but at this point she felt as though she needed it, it was one of the only things she had left to cling on to. The blonde was a little surprised as she felt the aspects fingers against her hair but she didn’t recoil and allowed a soft smile to cross her lips, they had always been close, the Ailwards and the Dimitreu’s, like a strange disjointed family.

Back when she had first joined the guard they had all been relatively young and naive, full of ideals and wants for the world and they had paved the way to greatness. She had met many lifelong friends on the Isle of Skye, every guard became a friend to her, someone she could rely on because everyone there had one mission and one ideal, to make the world a better place and while the aspects were the ones leading those changes, Octavia had always stood behind them, leading the charge wherever they went. The blonde gasped a little as she watched the flower she had touched bloom wide and bright and her green eyes glanced back over to Malva with a childlike smile for just a few seconds. She had always found beauty in the aspect of magic’s abilities and seeing what she was capable of.

O leaned her hand against her cheek as she just listened to Malva talk, the aspect always had a way with words that made everything sound so much more beautiful and bright than it probably actually was, she always seemed to be one that got caught up in the little details and the hidden meanings behind everything. Octavia had always been more of the straightforward type, the one who saw something and only saw its face value but it did amaze her, hearing how much the other woman could get out of a simple color “You know I’ve always been a little jealous of your imagination, you always seem to see so much more than what is in front of you” which was a very high compliment, the Nephilim was fascinated by the way that Mal’s mind seemed to work.

Octavia nodded, when she had decided to finally come home and face the truth, she had accepted that she had to keep fighting, Vlad would have never forgiven her for letting the world stop spinning because of his death and it felt wrong to his memory not to return to the place she knew was her home. Her children were here and they needed her now more than ever. Octavia had to be strong for them “The last thing I can do is give up” she admitted with a shrug of her shoulders “The moment I give up is the day that they truly win and that is why I will fight until my dying breath” she would fight for him and she would fight for her family and she would fight for the Ailward cause and anyone who got in her way be damned. “And you’re not giving up either okay, you didn’t live this long and achieve this much just to send yourself off the deep end now” they would find a way to tackle this unknown force, just as they had done in the past and while there were already casualties, she’d do anything to prevent another.

The Nephilim's brow did furrow as she looked at the flower and then back over to Malva for a moment, she was right, her powers did seem to be dwindling, the blonde reached her arm around the aspect’s shoulder and pulled her in closer for a moment “Don’t blame yourself, it’s probably all the pressure you’re putting on yourself, you need to clear what’s in here” Octavia pressed her index finger against Mal’s temple and nodded a little “I will always go momma bear on you, I don’t think I have an off switch” she laughed, she had been a mom for so many years now it just felt like second nature to her, she was naturally protective of all those she let in, didn’t matter if they were younger or older than her. When Malva suggested therapy O laughed a little “Somehow I feel like that would end in a massive argument” she shook her head at the very thought of it all.

“But if you need to talk, you know, get things out in the open, you know I’m not afraid of the truth” and honestly some distractions from her own misery were greatly welcomed right now because the less she had to think about the pain, the better.

When she saw the refusal from the nephilim regarding the suggestion she laid out earlier, Malva wasn't surprised. It was expected. Even her alone, wouldn't dare take a break, much less someone who's considered one of the finest guards in their faction. It was not something that would go through without a problem on either sides, even when they do need one, but at the end of the day, neither one of them could actually find it in them to go through with it. There was no point in refusing that. “Thought so. I don't think we know what rest actually means. Though Tia has been telling me to get out more and explore the whims of my own self, to stop moping in my room and actually go out other than the kitchen or the greenhouse.” But for the Aspect of Magic, stepping out of the manor is a big deal for her, she doesn't like going out for so many reasons that she couldn't even begin to try and comprehend them properly.

She remembered the first time she met Octavia, it was just a little over a few years after they received their first batch of guards, one of them who would end up to be the blonde's lovable husband and father to Gabriel and Illiana. Vladimir was always so calm, even the Russian born Aspect envied that about him. He always had this charm to him that she couldn't pinpoint, but they were all so close, up to a degree only they would know and nobody else. Perhaps it was the very reason why they didn't dare to actually go around to be so close with the other guards other than the Ivakovs and Dimitreus. O was a breath of fresh air, and Malva was just a little over a hundred years old, still so fragile and unsure of the world, yet ready to take on the challenges presented before her.

Malva did snicker in response to her comment earlier. “Imagination, I'd say so. I read a lot, you know that. I probably picked up something from them, knowing how old-fashioned I am. That kind of gal you'll find while on a boring run to an apothecary. That, or I just want to see more of the world than what it is.” Surprisingly it does accentuate another part of her, a stark contrast to her free-spirited persona once upon a time ago. Her appearance had always had a youthful air to it despite her mature physical, and thanks to a few ways of clothing, she appeared more older. But seeing the multiple kinds of braids knotted in her hair, it was clear the Aspect of Magic wanted to remain that about her. It was one of the only things from the past that she held on until today, the only teaching from her mother that she didn't thoroughly despise.

“Such a fighter” she mused, a small smile riding up her lips as she took a hold of the blonde's hair and separated the strands into three parts. Her hands automatically began knotting them up, braiding them into what seemed to be one of the french braids. Malva loved braiding, there hasn't been one female in the guard that she hasn't braided, except the new ones. Back then, where vikings still roamed the earth, their braids were so significant and harder to mold, so she took pride in them, especially for someone who hailed from the Eastern Isles of Kievan Rus’. “I'm not giving up.. If anything, I wanted to keep going.. Because I owe the world that much. I owe myself that.” It's not going to be easy, but is anything really easy?

Humming in response to what the nephilim said, she chuckled softly. “Somehow that sounds so normal..” Admittedly, they had more than enough share of their family arguments, hell even her and Ven didn't always kick off the good start. Always bickering and bantering, it's almost never-ending. “I always need to talk, honestly.. My head always gets so constricted, I swear I'm always hearing voices, and I'm telling you I'm most definitely not going crazy. Sometimes it whispers stuff.. Disturbing ones.”

Octavia wasn’t the kind of person who could sit around and do nothing, it agitated her and made her feel like she was neglecting the things she was responsible for, it’s why she never really stopped, from the moment she realized Vladimir was dead she had spent weeks trying to find a way to save him and then eventually she had resigned to the simple fact that she wasn’t going to be able to. Part of her didn’t want to come upon that realization but then she remembered all the people who were relying on her, the people who needed her to come home. “We’d never get rest anyway, even if my body wasn’t doing anything, there is literally nothing that can be done to stop this” she reached up and touched the side of her temple and sighed softly “Tia’s probably right though, doing something to distract yourself is probably a good thing” she had been trying to do that when the darker thoughts seeped in.

Octavia still remembered the first day she had spent on the Isle of Skye, Vladimir had saved her from a pretty nasty Dragonkin attack and she had decided to follow him back to meet the organization he spoke of. She had been worried that she might not be able to enter the Isle but her worries were calmed when she found herself on its shores. She remembered meeting the aspects and being enthralled by them and what they did, it didn’t take her long at all to decide that she wanted to stay, that she wanted to defeat the Dragonkin the right way, in the name of balance and what was right. She always felt like she belonged there, even when she felt alone in the rest of the world.

Octavia smiled softly, she had always been a straight cut kind of person, what you saw was what you got, she didn’t really delve into the depths of creativity, she was more about what she could see and touch, preferring fighting over drawing “I can picture that” O commented with a nod of her head, Mal had always been more of a head in the clouds type, often you had to try and bring her down from whatever cloud she was on in that moment “Things must be pretty different than reality in that head of yours” she hoped what she saw was better, because the reality of life seemed to be losing people and constantly feeling pain.

“It’s all I really know how to do” the blonde admitted with a shrug, when she had come to Skye she had truly believed her sister was dead, she had lost most of the Nephilim she was fighting in the war alongside, including her parents, all she had was fighting and feeling angry at the world. Joining the Ailward cause had given her purpose, along with the companionship and later love she found with Vladimir but at her heart, she was still that girl who would fight with every breath she had. Octavia didn’t even comment on the fact that the brunette was messing with her hair, she was used to Mal’s ways by now and honestly she was just enjoying the chance to think about anything other than loss “You have to keep going the right way, you’re no used to us without that beautiful brain” the blonde commented as she tapped her finger lightly against Mal’s temple.

Octavia nodded when Mal said it sounded normal “We are a family at the end of the day” she commented with a slight nod of her head, while they may be lesser in number now, every member of the Ailward cause was her family, people she wanted to protect with everything she had. “Then talk” the green-eyed Nephilim prompted “Rant about whatever you want, leave no detail out” she nodded gently, the blonde wasn’t sure there was anything she could do to make it better but sometimes just saying it out loud was enough to make you acknowledge it and begin to move forward “What does it tell you?” she asked as though it was the most normal thing ever to hear, of course, O was concerned but she couldn’t help with what she didn’t know and the last thing she wanted to do was judge.

Malva knew, she wasn't the best liar, some people could see straight through her most of time, but what kept her on her toes was the fact that she doesn't falter even after being called out on it. Just because she's not good at it, doesn't mean she would abandon it and leave it in the dust. You can tell her that you know she's lying and she would still proceed with it, simply because she wouldn't allow herself to give a damn. So to dig in, that's the hard part. You can prod her all you want but if she doesn't want to tell, then it’s living in question marks.

Staring at the nephilim by her side had awakened the past memories though, all the nostalgia crept in like the beach waves. The news of Vladimir's death had shocked everyone in the faction and even she still wondered how that happened. Only a few was up at par with him, and those people wouldn't dare harm him. It's not like saying Octavia would harm her own husband, so there's no logic in that. It also reminded of how free-spirited she was once, in a time that felt so long ago. The world hasn't hardened her that much back then, she could still move forward without having it drag her back, so different from the person she is today. There was no denying that Malva felt conflicted with her current stance now, since she's a lot more unstable than before. But for the sake of others, moving on is a must.

“We won't get them probably.. But that doesn't stop us from wanting or wishing, no?” There's plenty of things the Aspect of Magic would wish for, yet they could step nowhere near her. Not now, at least. There was something about Octavia that bothers her, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. Something seemed to look over her and Malva wasn't sure if it was just her imagination or not, though she did decide against asking the nephilim about it. It's probably just her thinking too much into it. Mal didn't have a tendency to do that. “I've been out and about, if not the hospital, I'm here in the greenhouse reading or tending to the plants. It's the only thing I can think of that's not magic these days” she mumbled audibly, halting momentarily as she knotted the braid twice more. “Which is ironic because I remember saying I will never stop thinking about magic.. And now I'm forced to stop, it's kinda upsetting.” The small pout made an appearance, which is such a rarity since sulking is never her area.

But with Octavia, she feels like she could complain and sulk, like a child would do to their mother at the end of the day. For someone who had a rather painful memory about both maternal and paternal relations, Mal leans a lot in finding comfort in maternal figures, like Octavia and Aurelia respectively. Both of the sisters exude different energy, which really completes the other either would lack – they were a perfect combination. Her fingers found the last strand and wrapped it around to end the braid, without any usage of hair ties, it's not like they ever had those back then and it's a nuisance. When Octavia came to the Isle of Skye, Malva remembered sneaking a peek from her balcony, staring at the blonde who would then be someone she trusted in the future. She was filled with curiosity since she's never met another nephilim that wasn't Argent.

She was eternally fascinated with the blonde but would keep her distance, until a few years came to pass. No one would have pegged Mal to be shy, but it's surprising to see how much one's character can develop and change over the centuries. “Yeah, it's a bit different in here.. Nothing is exactly like the reality, I feel like I can create an entirely new universe if I had the ability to,” she murmured silently, brushing the stray strands away from her vision as she made sure the braid stayed neat. “everything was a lot more peaceful in there..” She did sign up for this, but she never thought a time would come when she would often argue with her own siblings; the very people she gave her life for, once upon a time ago. When O tapped her temple, she chuckled and scoffed before humming in delight as her eyes wandered over the braid she did earlier. “It's a little chaotic in here, you sure you want a bit of that staying?” she jested.

A playful scowl came surfacing, as Malva crossed her arms in response to the blonde's remark. “But ouch, are you saying I'm nothing more than a brain in the organization? I'm hurt, O. Like I can do a lot more than just think of things, you know..” Admittedly, Mal was a mentally induced person, everything rooted from there, she wasn't a physical person and the only reason she knew how to defend herself was because her brothers and guards like Octavia, and Aurelia kept pestering her to at least know the basics. What an unfortunate event for her head to be slightly damaged, when it's always been her weapon from the beginning. “I never knew what I did to deserve a family like this.. I didn't have good memories about family, so gaining one is like a whole eye-opener” she mused softly, she didn't have many friends and didn't even know she had relatives living far away until it was too late. It seems that she's always late.

How she wished it was that easy to talk about it. Despite knowing how close knitted they are with one another, especially after what they've been through together as a family and faction, Malva hated to talk about her problems because she didn't want others to see her in a different light. Contrary to other people's beliefs, Mal actually cared what people think. But O was right, she needs to let it out if she doesn't want to explode at the end of the day. Closing her eyes briefly before fluttering it back open, she leaned against the bench and exhaled deeply. “I don't sleep a lot.. But when I do, sometimes I get dreams. Well, they're more to nightmares. I know it's normal for people to get them, but mine works in no particular sequence order.” Fiddling with the helm of her cardigan, she stared at the carnations on the side.

“The weird thing about it, is that it feels a lot more like a memory rather than hallucination. And when I try to steer clear, there would be voices dragging me back, pleas and cries of help mostly. Like they're tortured souls. But every time I tried to go back, I'd go back to the blank room where there's literally no door,” she frowned slightly, furrowing her eyebrows together to form a creased look. “it's weird. Whenever I try to delve back, it would never take me to the same thing again. It never repeats, but you can just feel like there's a significance to it. I'm not going crazy, right?”

Octavia didn’t really know how she was dealing with Vlad’s death, she just kinda was, it wasn’t that it didn’t hurt, because it hurt beyond what she could put into words and she missed him so much, there had been many times this week alone that she’d woken up alone in the bed and burst into tears from the emptiness she felt when he wasn’t there in reaching distance. But in the day she was holding things together okay, she felt like she had to, her daughter and son had just lost their father and they needed her to be strong for them. One thing she had done was buy herself some time before she came home to just catch her breath and grieve over the reality she now faced. It had still changed the Nephilim though, greatly.

“I guess it’s only natural to want answers, trying to make sense of reality is exhausting” the green-eyed female shrugged softly, she had tried and failed many times, sometimes she thought she was close to finding her purpose or how things were supposed to go and then it would feel like the rug was pulled out from under her and she needed to start back over again from scratch. One thing Octavia had always been good at was dealing with loss though, she’d done it many times over, with her sister, her parents and other people that came and left in her life too. She was lucky enough to get Aurelia back but others weren’t so “Keeping busy is good, the last thing anyone wants is to dwell” she commented with a shrug of her shoulders, immortals could be seriously broody when they wanted to be. It did make the blonde pause when she mentioned stopping thinking about magic though, that felt foreign so Octavia in so many ways. She reached up to tap her fingers gently against Mal’s cheek “It’ll pass” she assured with a slight nod.

The guard was a very good listener, always had been, she wasn’t the type to say much unless you got her riled up, she often kept her thoughts and feelings to herself but she did take in what others had to say well, she liked to think that was what made her a good senior member of the guard, someone people could bring their problems to and feel like they were listened to, but sometimes listening could also be exhausting and came with information overload. When Mal was done with the braid the Nephilim couldn’t help lifting her hand to run over the smoothly arranged hair and smiling, it had been a long time since she’d wore her hair in any style that wasn’t down or in a messy bun if she was honest.

The two of them had been friendly over the years, though Octavia had that same tendency with most of the people she saw on a daily basis in the castle, she was a mom first and that showed from her caring nature to the way that she wasn’t fazed by a lot of things that bothered others “What I wouldn’t give for that to be a reality” she commented as she rubbed a gentle circle against Malva’s back, they all dreamed a world better than this one though, that was why they got up and did the things they did every day after all. Octavia wouldn’t have stayed with the Ailward cause for so long if she didn’t wholly believe in it and she did even now, she would never blame Vlad’s death on the cause, he had made his choice to live this life, the same choice she had made, it could have easily been her instead of him “What’s life without a little chaos?” O asked with a raised brow, of course, she’d much rather some quiet but she rarely got the things she wanted.

Octavia arched a questioning brow towards Malva when she commented on the way she had described her mind “There are much worse things than being called smart Mal” she jested back with a shake of her head “If we were good at everything then we wouldn’t have the need for anyone else” Octavia wasn’t exactly the broadest thinking, she rarely came up with ideas that could be considered groundbreaking or out of the box but she was good at fighting and caring for others “And there isn’t shame in needing a guard either” she scolded with a slightly judgy look because she knew what the aspects were like when it came to pushing away their need for protection, she didn’t need to remind anyone what would happen if one of the aspects were to be seriously hurt. “Everyone deserves happiness” she blonde commented with a shrug “Or everyone who puts good out into the world anyway” whoever had killed her husband, however, deserved to rot in hell.

The Nephilim was actually pretty sure she would have been a psychologist or something if she was just an average person in today’s society, the way that the mind worked had always been interesting to her and hearing people talk about things was interesting to her too, she liked the idea that she might be able to help people just by getting the truth out from them and helping them to handle the things they were going through. Perhaps that’s why she was handling her own problems better than she expected to. That didn’t mean she wasn’t sad though, it just meant she knew how to deal with the sadness better than most.

The blonde could see the way Malva was fidgeting which told her that she was nervous to say what she was saying, the blonde stayed quiet and listened, making notes of the different things she heard in her mind as the aspect talked “Dreams rarely happen in a way that makes sense” the guard affirmed with a nod of her head, she’d never been able to make much sense of her own, nor been able to control the topics she dreamed about in any way. But then the brunette started to mention supernatural elements to it which had her more worried, she knew by now that the aspects could often have premonitions and visions of sorts, she’d seen a few happen herself “That sounds to me like you feel like you need to help someone but you have no idea where to start helping” she commented her rationale from what she heard with a nod of her head. When Mal asked if she was going crazy the guard’s expression softened “I think your mind is probably trying to tell you something, that’s completely natural, especially for someone as gifted as you are” she nodded softly “Have you tried any meditation?” Octavia asked raising a brow, not everyone believed in its ability to help but she always found her thoughts came to her better she when rid herself of conflicting energy.

Malva could distinctly remember when Octavia came back on the exact same day and time where they decided to hold a meeting regarding the issue, with sorrowful look marring her beautiful angelic features, one even the Aspect of Magic could not forget. How empty and internally distraught she looked. The look of someone who's known loss but continued to be at the receiving end again and again. Someone most of them could relate to, and they could, because they're a family. The death of Vladimir Dimitreu will never be forgotten from their memories, and to be honest, Mal wasn't sure anyone wanted to forget about it and move on. Not after what they've been through together, not after this.

The thought of someone powerful enough to incapacitate the male worries her, and she knew while they were not all invincible, it should've taken heavy measures to incarcerate them, much less deliver the killing blow. It should be someone with equal experience and ability to do that, or at least the party had it been more than one individual. It was still a serious topic to talk about, so she never tried to pry it off Octavia, talking about your deceased husband is not something she would wish upon anyone.

She nodded in agreement to her statement, yes living the life of having to comprehend the reality was tiring. “Sometimes I just wish things are not so confusing. Like, if there’s a problem, there will be that one solution to it instead of having so many options to choose from. But I understand that in life, it requires balance, and being unpredictable and chaotic seemed to be the game.” Anyone could see the exhaustion flashing across her face that was once filled with hope and dreams. Perhaps it was the age, or maybe Malva was just slowly growing tired and acting her age after being in service of the world for long.

Biting her bottom lip in distress, the Russian born female let out a heaved sigh, one hand running through her dark locks, pushing them back a few times as she leaned against the railing of the bench. “But it also made me feel like I'm running away from my problems. Is that normal? I've lived for a long time focusing on one thing and the other, trying to grow more mature.. But I can't help but to think I'm still just a kid. No amount of years would amount to change that about me. And because of it, I'm scared. If I'll make mistakes again. I can't afford making mistakes, right?” How pitiful she sounded, the contemplation accentuating her words made Malva looked smaller and shrink, and she was already a petite person. Never had she felt so discouraged, everyone always saw her with her pride inflating, but with a few close friends, she managed to allow that raw side to come out, especially with Octavia, she didn't feel like she needed to hide anything. Besides, it was better to relate and have the nephilim encourage her to take the angel child's mind off the current situation.

“I feel torn. I feel guilty that I even thought about leaving you guys..” she drawled, the hesitancy in her indicating that she knew the other female would understand what she meant by ‘leaving them', after all the Aspects live to serve. If they don't do that, there's no actual reason to keep them around since they were supposed to be alive until today, in the first place. The braid the nephilim sported made her smile slightly however, because it brought nostalgia, the good kind she decided to focus on. “True, we need a little bit chaos sometimes, even when it's burdensome. At least it's real. Better than to trust our hallucinations blindly.” It has come to that point where she was sure neither of them could focus on the life they led nowadays, as it seemed everything was slowly falling into place, one piece after another spread out in the world, awaiting their arrival to pick it up to piece them back to complete the puzzle again. What's a normal life?

She shook her head at the jest the blonde send her way, rolling her shoulders briefly before clicking her tongue. “It's not really the matter of pride when it comes to needing guards, not gonna lie there. We wouldn't accept you guys if we didn't care or if we didn't need you. It's just that-,” a pregnant pause filled the air, and the Aspect of Magic sn*****ed. “I can't believe I'm in loss for words. Let's put it this way, we've been on our own for a while. Until you guys came, one day. And I guess the dependency just got tampered for a little while.. And I know most of us didn't want to burden you. You joined with clear conscience and pure intentions, bravely putting your lives on the line to help us shape the world, it's still overwhelming you know.. Until today.” She wished everyone else, especially the younger and newer ones can see that. They're not the most open bunch, yes, but they care for every single one of them like their own because in truth, they were. After the tragedy at the Isle of Skye, it was more prominent.

“I don't know about the others for sure, but I just don't want to put my problems on you guys. You have enough” she muttered, still feeling bitter from the falling out she had with Tatiana. Malva felt utterly betrayed even though she was a big contributor to their battered relationship. Hearing her speak about happiness made her uneasy, don't get her wrong, it's a good topic, but not one for her. “Don't tell anyone, not that I think you would because then I'll hunt you down,” she joked, replacing the dry humor with a hum instead. “Would it be bad if I say I'm not happy? Not right now, at least?” She's always loved talking to Octavia, the serenity she offered was different. Mal could easily talk to Argent, but Argent was her sister and as the slightly older one and the title, it felt harder for her to speak about her personal feelings because she knew how worried the Aspect of Light would be.

When it came down to them about her current sleeping problems, she fluttered her eyes closed for a brief while, as soon as her eyes was opened, a wry laugh escaped her. “Help someone? I can't even help myself right now, O. Hell I can't even do a decent locator spell, no- not just that, I can't even let a flower bloom” she exclaimed aggravatedly. To say she was frustrated would be a vast understatement. But she should've known, with great power comes great responsibilities. “I can't even close my eyes and nap for 5 minutes, and I haven't even tried to seek out a psychologist because they don't know the extent of what's in here,” she tapped her head, pouting softly. “So meditation doesn't work.. At least not the last time I tried.”


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