She knew it was wrong. How many times had she told herself that it was utterly and inexplicably wrong? More times than she could count to. Yet there she was, the now slightly flaxen haired Aspect of Magic was standing her ground on venturing off to the city of Argolis. Malva had placed all hands on deck upon deciding that she shall go off to Greece to search for any other possible answers she could be provided with, regarding the fall and destruction of their home, Isle of Skye. How could the Russian born woman forget about it? How could any one of them forget what happened? There was no way she could push it aside without investigating about it. Only, she knew she had to push the matter aside for a while as she got down and resolved other problems on her plate.

It has been at least an hour since she had let her eyes linger on the the red ruby pendant that laid prettily on the table not far off from where she stood. Malva leant against the wall of her room and crossed her arms in contempt. She wasn’t sure what to do with the petty little trinket that she has had in her possession for almost four centuries now. For such a small thing, it held a certain aura to it and it wasn’t at all near pleasantries. It held all the dark energy she harnessed for some particular missions back in the days. Sometimes, in order to best the darkness, was to overtake it using the lesser known method. One it doesn’t expect you to go for. Life did have a tendency at wanting the most twisted for everything.

Shaking her head at her own herself, she grabbed the pendant and tossed it into the drawer before closing it furiously and sat on her bed, her sapphire hues never leaving the mahogany wooden table. It didn't last as long as she thought it would though, seeing as Malva went back to grab it and pushed it inside her purse. It wasn’t as if she could avert her attention so easily without any reason to do so despite giving herself one very solid one. Which was to forget about the past and move ahead in her life. But it’s always easier said than done, per usual. The pendant might look fancy and pretty, but it was gleaming in a very malevolent light. And if there was anything Mal knew from centuries of dwelling around magic, it’s that she doesn’t go well surrounding herself with so much dark energy as it tempts her. But she needed it for this journey.

But after what Octavia told her that day, she couldn't forget about it. This is something she needed to do, she convinced herself to do it. Her touch with magic in general had been cut off, albeit not fully, but it doesn't feel like how it was supposed to feel and if Malva couldn't cope or adapt to those changes, then what's the point? Especially with the chaos incited as of late, things were hectic and it was slowly overwhelming the purple dragon to the brink of insanity. Mal had rummaged through her closet yesterday to find one particular book she kept locked away until she realized she didn't bring it with her. Keeping it in the manor should have been the safest choice but not to Malva, that book was way too important to just be laying around so she had kept it somewhere else in 1698. 

Mal didn't pack much, she literally only put enough clothes to last for a few weeks because the Citadel had their own clothes to be worn and they can venture to Athens if they want. Her hair was a lighter shade of brown and it was slightly longer, the Aspect of Magic stared at her reflection in the mirror before making her way downstairs with her luggage, to wait for Octavia at the living room. This trip wouldn't be anywhere near a luxurious vacation to Greece, yeah people know they'll stay at a hotel in Athens but Mal was going on a pilgrimage to Mycenae Citadel located in Argolis which would take all the attention away. She perched one arm on the couch and allowed her white persian ragdoll cat, Seraphire, nestle in her lap. 

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He laughed softly when she spoke in horror about the idea of having mustard colored hair, he had to admit it would be pretty entertaining to see how she looked with it “Perhaps, you’d definitely be rocking that scary witch kind of vibe” he commented and smirked, personally her preferred her with her brunette hair, it would feel a little jarring to see her with something different after that was all he had known. He tilted his head because of the almost guilty way she reacted to him pointing out what happened with the celestials “There isn’t much that escapes my attention” he commented and allowed a wry smile to cross his lips.

He did know that for them to do something so drastic there must have been something that happened, even though he disagreed with some of the things that happened within the Ailward faction, he knew how their systems were, everything was calculated and justified first “I’m not going to even try and fathom how people would be able to predict a time traveler” it honestly made his head hurt just thinking about it. Any diviner with any sense knew better than to mess with time, it always ended up in pain and no one came out from it unscathed. “No wonder you’re in so much pain...a destroyed timeline is...practically lethal to balance” he was finding it difficult to watch so instead his focus remained on her, reminding him she was real and what he was seeing wasn’t real, it was a mere memory.

“So you couldn’t let it happen again” he could understand the rationale, if a being’s death could cause such catastrophic damage to the timeline then locking them up would prevent them from dying and therefore protect integrity at the same time. It was smart, though a little cold for the usually peace preaching faction “I’m guessing they didn’t think it very well then” he could see it being bad from all sides, especially considering he had been their prisoner before. It was harder to keep him contained though “Not to mention it doesn’t stop more of them showing up” now he found it kind of amusing that he had made it so one of them slipped their grasp.

“Like I said, I know pretty much everything, I like to keep tabs on the world around me, especially when it comes to other species” you had to stay ahead of the curve in case anyone decided to come along and take issue with you, he was cunning and quick, able to stay in the know and stay under the radar unless he made his presence known. Before long this particular memory ended and it faded to black once more, he breathed a sigh of relief and paused for a moment.

A chuckle escaped her when he pointed out that she would still rock the scary witch vibes with the hair, “Is every obnoxious hair color considered crazy these days?” She has never been a flaxen-haired person, not even blond, so she never knew much about it. Malva has always been an auburn-haired lady since young, and she never bothered to dye her hair into a much lighter color, if anything she dimmed it down. “Even without that hair color, people already say I’m a scary witch, so I wonder how much of that would change.” Of course, she had an inkling that Sebastian would know what goes on in the animal kingdom, the cages aren’t rattled for no reason every few years. But still, she does feel somewhat embarrassed about it.

“Don’t” she shook her head, until today she had no idea how they were able to predict a time traveler, and it was best she didn’t think about it because at the end of the day, it just gives her a major headache. “I think most of us gave up on trying to work out how that works…” She swore she winced because the moment he talked about the timeline being destroyed, Mal could feel the same thing she felt back then, it was almost an injury you could still feel during the rain. “Yeah, it was scary and it was just terrible…” Maybe that’s why she was so pissed off, anger mixed with pain never works well, and it was that combination that she had to work herself through. “No, of course not, if I was suddenly locked up for something that I didn’t even do, I’d be pissed and resentful too so I can understand where they’re coming from. I don’t ask them to understand where we’re coming from in return but we’re not the villains here… sometimes our organization, they’re more anti-hero if you look at it. Because we’re definitely not saints.” And she knows that, god she understood that from the get-go.

The Aspect of Magic grumbled when he reminded her how it didn’t stop more of them from showing up, “No, not exactly. My spell was only to wipe out the memories of knowledge of their existence, not their existence as a whole. I don’t have that power and I thank god every day that I don’t. It’s unnatural… and even the memory wiping spell alone had been heavy, much less that.” It didn’t leave her unscathed, that’s what she could say. But it had to be done. “There were a few more that fell after the year gap, but we couldn’t find them either.” She reckoned they were good at hiding, good for them. “Which is honestly good for them, if they could outrun us, then they should be able to outrun the hunters.” That’s the whole purpose of it in the first place so she couldn’t find a reason to worry. Once the memory ended, she realized they were to move to the next which made her scrunch her face because she also had no idea what a worse memory would be.

The scene shifted and they were now in front of a house that’s very familiar to the Aspect. Oh. “Was this really top 3… wow…” The house was here in Evermore and she remembered visiting a few times. But with Sebastian here, it does make her feel red because it’s connected to her heartbreak, the pain of her heart being let down once again. “I can’t believe heartbreak ranks top 3…” She was knocking on the door rapidly, calling out the name earnestly, a name she never thought she'd hear again honestly, "Ben, open up before I break this door open.." and the door was opened, revealing the person she thought would take care of her, the human general. 

He tilted his head a little “I think it takes a little crazy to wanna stand out that much in a crowd” he agreed but grinned slightly, not that he didn’t find it admirable or attractive though “Besides, when has normal ever been your style” she had always been pretty set on being different and he found that charming, there was no one quite like Malva Ailward, she was the kind of person who stuck out in people’s minds, made you remember her for one reason or another. “True” he commented and chuckled “Hey maybe I should go blond too, I fit the bill as well” he smirked slightly, he’d always had dark hair, it was hard to imagine what any other color would look like on him.

He shook his head almost in disbelief, even those surrounded in magic like them struggled to comprehend everything going on around them in the world, it was ever-expanding and changing and you could never truly guess what the world was going to throw your way next. Like fallen stars and beings that were half angel, half-demon, it was never-ending “I feel like there is always going to be a next new species...magic seems to be boundless that way” who knew what might come next. “It must have been hard...I know your people don’t make any decisions without considering all of the options” and to take a move so drastic meant they were really scared by what happened.

“A memory spell is...dangerous…” he commented in a knowing voice, he’d performed a few of his own on individuals and small groups but something of that scale would pretty much drain the average diviner for months, he could only imagine the toll it had taken on her. “I guess they learned to get even better at running that before” he mused and shrugged, of course he knew more about it than he was letting on but he didn’t see the need to reveal how closely he had been following her people’s movements. Mostly because it gave away how badly he had just wanted to see her.

As the scene shifted again, Sebastian looked around for a moment, realizing they weren’t in the usual manor setting or even somewhere notable, just a regular house. He frowned for a moment wondering how it could have such significance to her but he didn’t say it out loud. “Heartbreak?” he questioned in surprise as the two of them moved a little closer towards the door. He parted his lips as the male came into view. He was tall, with a clean cut expression and sharp blue eyes, the complete opposite of the diviner. He looked down for a moment, was that her type?

She wouldn't consider herself to be eccentric or obnoxious enough to rock such a color, not now or ever. Mal can be pretty uptight sometimes. And for a good reason too. "Are you trying to tell me I'm not normal?" She narrowed her hues and scoffed, well, she wasn't really normal in any sense but when he put it that way, it did trigger her sensitivity. "But I'll take that as a compliment that I give lasting impressions to people, thank you very much." She was tempted to ruffle his hair but refrained herself from doing so, Mal realized she was being way too comfortable with him, when she told herself she shouldn't. It was easier said than done, though. Sebastian has always maintained a lasting impression on her, and the feelings she had for him, ones she still has, it was not easy to keep them below the surface. "Blond would make you stand out even more than you already have." 

Sometimes she wished magic wouldn't be so complex, but the world keeps churning out one new thing after the other, god knows who would keep record of that. "It's hard to make decisions in general, much less good ones." They didn't always have it easy but when people keep pointing fingers at them, not knowing how hard it was to maintain that type of performance over the centuries, it was hard to stay still and keep a straight face. A memory spell is dangerous, she knew that too, but she had to find the fastest way possible to carry it out. "I was desperate, Bash… I knew the risks but I had to make sure it happens, there were too many at play that time." They were vulnerable, she couldn't imagine what would happen if she had delayed it a little bit longer to give their enemies an opening at their tear. 

She looked up to him when he said the celestials learned to get better at running, that was a peculiar thing to say "Yeah, they did." They kinda have to, selfish people keep hunting them down, so they have to take care of themselves. She stole a look at him for a bit when Ben came out, she would be lying if she said she didn't miss him, but everything was the same. The moment Mal fell for someone, they'd grab hold of her heart only to leave after. What's the point of falling in love again if this is what's going to happen? She watched as the scene unfold before them, was that how she looked? Was she that sad when she came to see him? The scene shifted to fast forward, where she was trying to beg him for his help, for him not to leave her alone in the city. But her pleas, no matter how pitiful it was, went to deaf ears. "I don't think he wanted to leave but he had to…" she mumbled. She saw the way there were tears brimming in her eyes as the door closed on her.

He chuckled and shrugged his shoulders slightly “I don’t think normal has ever been in your realm, Malva Ailward” he teased and smiled slightly, he didn’t see that as a bad thing, all of the aspects were chosen because they defied the norms of society, it seemed pointless to change that identity now right? “It is a compliment” he muttered under his breath, she was the kind of person you could never forget about, even if you desperately wanted to. He ran a hand through his hair as he thought about how he might look with blond hair “I think I’d probably try to punch the guy in the mirror” he confessed and chuckled slightly, too big of a change.

He nodded when she said it was like a minefield to make the right and good decisions “All we can do is the best with the information we’s not like we can see the future right?” she chuckled, even diviners as powerful as them didn’t dare to touch anything related to time because they knew how sensitive it could be, he could imagine the panic that was involved in handling that situation “You did what you had to do, no point kicking yourself over it now” he didn’t believe in holding onto regrets like that, if you made a mistake it was better to learn from it and move on than to dwell over it. He had to admit it did something to him when she called him by that nickname, he bit his lip “You’re lucky it didn’t backfire on you” he pointed out, but it definitely put into perspective how desperate she must have been.

Sebastian’s gaze was fixated on the other male, he knew he couldn’t see him, he knew it was a memory he couldn’t influence or change but he couldn’t stop himself, it bothered him seeing someone else giving her that look, the soft one that covered up every emotion. As the scene unfolded he found himself getting more and more conflicted, it was awful to see the ways she was so heartbroken by losing someone she trusted...perhaps even loved. But he couldn’t stop his fists twitching at his sides in jealousy. He knew if she had ever begged him that way he wouldn’t have been able to close the door, no matter how strong he told himself he was. “It had better have been important” he commented in a gruff tone, he really had no idea what would come next after these three.

She was glad he could somewhat brighten the mood a bit because Malva has never really been good at that, not now nor ever. The Ailward Aspect can be quite pessimistic to the point she thought it's just something that has been ingrained in her since a long time ago. Definitely not since birth considering how different the circumstances once were. But somehow along the way, she changed. A lot. "Well at least leave me a recording of you trying to punch yourself in the mirror, that would make a really good footage" she quipped dryly, much like him, she hasn't really moved past the bleaching part, Malva always ever seemed to keep her hair dark. Aside from a brief glamour, she has never donned the blonde look. 

"I wish we could tap into a little bit of precognition though… that would be so helpful?" With so many things at play here, she didn't want to make a mistake, because it wouldn't just affect her. "One of the worst thing about being an Aspect is that whatever you do, it doesn't just come back to you so we can't even use the freedom of choice, freedom of consequences thing without feeling guilty." How she wished things could've been simpler. "I'm not kicking myself over it" she muttered under her breath "It's more of a reflection." No regrets on what she did, more on what she could've done. She pressed her lips together because there were plenty that backfired on her, but not that one thankfully. The scene didn't last long but it sure was impacted considering it left a dent in the Aspect of Magic's heart. 

She noticed Sebastian didn't seem too happy and she might have hoped it wasn't just the tedious process but because he was affected by it too. Soon the scene shifted into the 4th memory, an English village in the 15th century. "God I really do have a thing with betrayals, don't I?" She was with her former personal guard, walking alongside the road while a festival was going on, with another taller male accompanying them. "All my friends end up betraying me. It sucks" Perhaps there is a reason why she should just give up in that department. "Let's play a guessing game, can you guess what he did?" Even when her former guard left the scene, the two of them looked cozy, it was hard to believe he could ever betray her. 

He laughed a little when she said to record himself punching himself in the mirror “Well I think that would kinda defeat the whole doing it out of surprise thing, you’d have to be there to believe it” he commented and shook his head in amusement at the very thought of it. He was glad they’d managed to stay semi-positive throughout all of this because he wasn’t sure how his sanity would hold up if not. Experiencing her memories like this was exhausting for him and they weren’t even his own memories. She had been through so much in her life and according to the way the list worked, the worst was still to come.

“You say that but I really don’t think you do, knowing something will happen in the future and there is nothing you can do to prevent it? That sort of thing will crush you from the inside” he commented and shook his head slightly. “From what I gather, freedom is one of the first things that needs to be sacrificed to be an aspect” he looked down for a moment, that’s what made being so strongly attached to one so complicated, knowing you could never be first in their eyes. “Reflecting means there are things you think could have gone differently” he pointed out with a stern look in her direction but he didn’t hold it for too long because it seemed like she had been through enough reliving the heartbreak she had been through.

There wasn’t too much time for him to process the scene and the way it made him feel because as quickly as the last scene ended, the next one began. Suddenly they were back in the past once more, he could tell by the way she was dressed and the style of the buildings around them. He pulled a face when she said this was another attributed to betrayal and he glanced over at her, wondering what could have ranked at number two “Did he...steal something from you?” he questioned curiously, this was one she had never talked about with him, he didn’t even recognize the male figure she was walking alongside.

“Ugh… I feel like I’m trudging through the mud in knee-high leather boots, it feels so… weird and uneasy” much like how one would feel if they were to walk with wet socks. Just like that. “Bold of you to assume I haven’t been crushed from the inside and out already, more times than I count if we’re being honest.” Betrayal and her being heartbroken is not new to the Aspect of Magic, if anything it’s something she should be expecting, every 5 to 7 working days. “Well things could have gone differently, it’s just not in it for our current situation that time, even I know that. I’m not a coward who won’t admit her faults, Sebastian.” She didn’t want to be perceived as someone who was unaware of her own faults and flaws.

But Mal did feel a pang in her heart when he said freedom was something they all sacrificed the moment they picked up that mantle because that’s the truth. He couldn’t be the first in her eye, no matter how badly she wanted him to. She wished she didn’t have to recall these bitter memories because the one with the human general might’ve seemed mild compared to the others before this but to Malva, heartbreak is something you can’t get over easily. But this one, oh she remembered why it hurts much worse compared to earlier. “Steal? You’re pretty spot on with that… he did steal from me, I never thought I’d be betrayed by the person I really trusted.” It was clear her eyes were filled with sorrow while the memory she had is her smiling and laughing, even though it wasn’t often.

“Remember how we used to hunt grimoires together? Collect all these magical items? I had a special section in the Archives storing said things… but that specific section doesn’t contain my grimoires… my very own personal spellbook, a whole magical encyclopedia. I used to separate those scrolls and books, leaving them in places all over the earth so that other diviners would find them and make good use of them, gain new knowledge. I didn’t think a close friend of mine would fool me by replacing something genuine with a fake and sell them to the highest bidder in the black market.”

He looked over at her for a moment wondering how she came up with something so oddly specific but then shook it odd because she was Malva, quirky was basically her defining trait. “Haven’t we all?” he asked when she said she had been crushed many times before “Life is harsh, for an immortal it’s prolonged” it could build up in time and he was sure there was plenty she wished she could forget. But that made him wonder what could possibly be worse than all the hurt and betrayal she’d walked through with him already “I have a fair few regrets of my own” he commented in a quiet voice, even someone like him racked them up.

He noticed the way she reacted when he spoke about her freedom which made him wonder for a moment how much she must yearn for it. He pondered what she would do with it should she be granted the opportunity to do whatever she wanted, would she see the world? Settle down with someone and start a family? He stared at her for a moment while he thought about it, he honestly wasn’t sure what she would choose. “It must have been a shock for you” he commented in a soft voice, considering how she seemed so happy and carefree in the memory he could only imagine how blind-sighted she must have been.

He listened to her as she talked, not paying too much attention to the memory because he was honestly exhausted experiencing it all like this, it felt easier to process it all by listening to her explain it. When she said someone had taken her spellbook and sold it for a profit though that made him angry because he knew how precious those spells were to her “What a piece of work” he commented and shook his head in an angry manner “How did you find out?” he questioned curiously, considering they must have at least tried to cover their tracks right?

She huffed and let out a groan when he said life for an immortal is just prolonged which is true because god knows how much she has been hurt before and though she desperately hoped for it to be something she could just pass as time goes by, it didn’t get better. “Can someone who wants to suffer take my streak because I would appreciate some break” as soon as those words came out from her, Mal looked above as if she was talking to the ones in charge. “I could use a vacation, all of us could, honestly…” she grumbled, she wanted one, preferably something that could last more than 7 days. 

“Who am I kidding, I can’t even go 7 minutes without someone causing trouble halfway across the continent…” She looked up at him when he said he had regrets too, god she wanted to ask what they were, maybe hoping that their broken relationship would be one of them. “That’s an understatement, I didn’t understand anything.” And everything was pushed onto her without giving her time to adjust properly. They didn’t exactly get much guidance if she was being honest. 

Mal noticed the other male fuming once he heard she went through such an ordeal which made her press her lips into a thin line, that was her fault too. She should not have trusted someone so quickly like that but in her defense, they’ve been friends for a while. “I noticed when I realized the anachronisms occurring were a bit too frequent and they all held the same signature which led to me investigating it. Guess what I found when I realized the signature was familiar because it was mine.” Since they were her spell books, all the ideas, and inspiration she received generally flowed from her own magic. 

To document a spell still required a tremendous amount of magic. “The calling was the diviner’s own signature but the base of it still had remnants of mine so it wasn’t hard to crack down on it. That’s when I started recounting the steps and see if those books I ‘placed’ at were still under the use of another. And turns out they were holding a fake one, a rather convincing one. That’s around the same time I started sending some guards to go and get it back but not every attempt was successful and those that were, I placed them in the Archives.”

He chuckled softly when she said she wanted someone to volunteer to take over her suffering “I’m sure if it worked like that, someone would be willing to shoulder some of the burden” god knows if he could do that small thing for her and ease some of her pain, he probably would, even if it meant being hurt himself. “You know if we worked hard enough on it, I’m sure we could figure out how to extend that timer you’ve got ticking on separation” it would take some powerful magic but they were no ordinary diviners.

He chuckled softly, it was always so complicated with her and her kind and god knows he had told himself time and time again that things would be so much easier for him if he didn’t keep letting her in. But how could he help himself? There was no way he could ever deny that she had gotten under his skin and there was no shaking her. Seeing the way she looked at him when he mentioned regrets he bit his lip softly as though to confirm that she was the center of a fair few of them.

The way she recounted the story so methodically told him that she had done everything she could to distance herself emotionally from what happened and he couldn’t say he could blame her given how difficult it must have been to go through something like that “There are far easier ways to make profit from magic than stealing spells…what a twisted person” he murmured softly, though he couldn’t say he was surprised, black markets existed because everyone wanted to capitalize on magic, despite having no idea how dangerous the things they were playing with were.

As the memory faded away, they were left with just the two of them for a moment, he turned to face her and pressed his lips into a firm line before opening his mouth to speak “Do I dare ask what could be worse than…all that?” he questioned in a voice that was softer than he would usually speak.

“Well it sucks that it doesn’t work like that” she exclaimed sarcastically, but seriously if the world was more advanced and they had one of those techy things taking over as a whole dialysis machine, what a better place it would be. She raised her eyebrows in curiosity when he said they should think about the separation the Ailwards got going on, he’s not wrong, with a few tweaks and overnight shifts, they may just be able to find something that’ll work, at least temporarily, which is more than enough knowing them. “That would require us doing a few nights and a lot of brainstorming, you know I can’t do it alone” 

Mal hasn’t been able to hold her stability for a few centuries now and it has definitely gotten worse over the years, this is why someone who holds this mantle should not stay for long, because they simply don’t have the mental capacity to stick with it. “God knows my sanity is already dwindling, the last thing I wanna do is do something reckless on my own…” Which, unfortunately, she does have an affinity for. What was that look, she thought, it was like he was trying to tell her that she was right to think she’s the center of a few of said regrets. 

“I mean… if you knew you had a friend who also happens to have plenty of resources when it comes to magic, wouldn’t you capitalize on that too? Assuming you’re bad?” She can’t say she’s surprised, he wasn’t the first to betray her and god knows he won’t be the last either. It doesn’t mean she had to stay there and take all the hits though. She couldn’t even stare at him longer than a few seconds because it was time for the biggest obstacle of all. When the door opened, it was as if they were hit by a blizzard, and at the center of that, was the citadel. She already knew what was gonna happen but she didn’t want to do it while he’s there so she refused to move any further, her feet were glued to the ground. 

Malva remembered it vividly, it was winter so the snow was already sticking to the ground. “I can’t do this… not this one, I thought I could but I can’t.” She shook her head and covered her face briefly, “I can’t…” The scene before her was taunting her but she refused to let it win hence why she didn’t move at all.

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