Disclaimer: Don't own and never will.
AN: Part of this owes a considerable part to the fanfiction author CraftyMaelyss and her fic The Forsaken Queen AU Book 2: Pseudo Heir.
AN2: I actually looked up emotional abuse quotes to help me with this and have, on occasion, borrowed or used real world examples to help with that aspect, so possible trigger warnings for my readers.
AN3: Theena's memories are in italics like this.
Theena stared at the memorial stone in silence.
The family crypt was dark, save for the small candle sitting at her feet and shadows flickered in the light.
Why she was here, she honestly couldn't say. In the fifteen years since Kalus had...gone, Theena had never once come here. Normally, when she couldn't sleep like this, she went to Solon's memorial, a large statue that was larger than life and remembered the good days when he was still alive. Why her feet had carried her here instead was a mystery to her.
Theena continued to stare at the memorial stone in silence. Somewhere in the background, she could hear owls hooting.
If Theena had a say in the matter, there would be no memorial stone. Nothing whatsoever. She could think of no other traitor in the history of the Enchanted Kingdom who had one. But...Kameo had insisted. Insisted that she had destroyed Thorn. Insisted that she deserved to be remembered.
She ran her fingers over the memorial stone and sighed.
"Hello Kalus," she said in a low voice, looking away from the stone. "It's been...too long since you left and yet, not long enough." Tears began rolling down her cheeks. "You betrayed our family, our kingdom and our people. Your own flesh and blood. How could you-" Theena suddenly stumbled back as a powerful memory flashed through her mind.
"The one thing that is mine and mine alone, my birthright, the one thing that I have slaved for my entire life, and you're just giving it away without even any warning!?" Kalus screamed, tears running down her cheeks.
"Kalus," Theena growled warningly, but Kalus continued to scream.
"Kameo, Kameo, it's always Kameo!" she said, her voice becoming more and more hysterical, her hair actually crackling with magic. "Everything I do, everything I've tried to be and it's just usurped by-by-by this little thief!" She looked like she wanted to say more. Probably something about Kameo's actual parentage, but she held back.
"Kalus, I-" Kameo began uncertainly, her hand reaching towards her sister and Kalus knocked it away.
"Stay away from me!" she screamed at Kameo. "Don't you dare pretend that you care." She turned and glared at Theena. "Father would never have done something like this. He loved me and you never have!" She added with a hiss and Theena visibly stepped back.
Fuming, Kalus stormed out of the room.
Theena winced at the memory. It was bad enough being reminded of Solon every time she looked at Kalus without having his name thrown in her face. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, willing away the tears building up in her eyes. Kameo was a good queen and her ability to use the Elemental Warriors was unmatched. She had defeated Thorn and his armies. (Theena refused to believe that Kalus had played any part in defeating Thorn.)
"Kalus...I did the right thing...your sister is a good queen. And...you…" The words died in her throat as another memory assaulted her.
"Mother, what does this me-"
"Not now Kalus," Theena said as she leaned back on the throne. Tears began to well up in Kalus's eyes and her lower lip began to quiver.
"I said not now Kalus!" Theena snapped and Kalus recoiled. It was bad enough the Solon was gone, without Kalus's face reminding her all the time.
"Mummy...please…" Theena could hear the wobble in her daughter's voice. She could see Kalus's hand reaching towards her and she slapped it away.
"I SAID NOT NOW!" she said angrily and Kalus looked at her with disappointment and sadness, her eyes watering. Then without another word, she fled the room.
Theena sighed and shook her head. She wasn't sure why that particular incident came to mind. She was grieving after all and it hurt so badly to see Kalus there, looking so much like Solon that she just didn't want to deal with her. It wasn't like the palace had no servants or tutors to answer the young princess, or even family such as her Aunt Lenya. She was hardly being negligent, she just needed...time to grieve.
The door to the Elemental Room was sitting open.
It was only slightly open. Barely a crack really. Easy to miss and had Theena not stopped there to think about...well important and painful memories, she would have missed it. With a flash of anger, Theena stormed into the room.
Standing in front of the Element of Power was Kalus. She was entranced as she stared, her hand reaching towards it. A sort of blue-green mist with stars reaching towards her in turn. It was as though the Element of Power were responding to her. In its glow, Kalus looked so much like Solon that it actually hurt.
Theena felt a surge of anger. How dare Kalus be here! She stormed up to the stand, wholly unnoticed by Kalus. Before she could even think, she slapped Kalus across the face.
For a moment, Kalus stared at her with a look of hurt and confusion, before turning and running out of the room.
Turning back to the Element of Power, Theena noted that it was silent once more.
Theena shook her head with a frown. The Element of Power was a very important magical artifact, not some mere trinket or toy! It was a part of Solon's legacy and a legacy of all the rulers of the Enchanted Kingdom. If she had damaged it, then the future of the whole kingdom could be at stake and her very future! Yes, she was young, but she should have known better!
Theena was holding Kalus in her arms. She was one, maybe two years old and already her red hair was already reaching her shoulders. Theena smiled adoringly at her daughter and they leaned closer to the Element of Power. The jewel glowed and Kalus reached her small hand towards it.
"This Kalus," Theena said as they leaned closer, "is called the Element of Power and one day, you will use it to help protect the Enchanted Kingdom.
Kalus didn't say anything, but that was no surprise. She was simply entranced by the Element of Power, which glowed brighter and more beautifully as she reached towards it.
"Look Solon," she cooed. "It already knows her. She's going to be a great queen some day."
"The best," Solon said with a smile.
A strange mixture of sadness and happiness washed over her. They had been so happy then. Why did it have to go so wrong?
Her crying began to intensify. How dare her mind bring up these memories! She would exoricise them when she had the chance. Surely the mind healers could find something to remove them. It had been over a decade. Surely she should be over this? Kalus didn't deserve her tears, she-
Theena smiled tiredly at her newborn baby girl and smiled. Already she could see the sharp spark of intelligence in her eyes as she looked up at her mother.
"I love you," she said as tears of happiness threatened to fall from her eyes. At her bedside, Solon gazed lovingly at them both. "I'll always love you."
Theena shook her head once more. How could she have known the person that Kalus would grow up to become? What she did was unforgivable. How could she turn on her own family like that, on the people who loved her? What kind of monster did that? Solon would have been ashamed of her. And to think that she was his daughter!
"Why doesn't mummy love me anymore?" Kalus asked her Aunt Lenya, her voice wobbling slightly and Theena stopped where she was. They couldn't see her where they were and Theena couldn't see them, but she could imagine that Kalus was sitting on Lenya's lap.
"Oh sweetie," she heard Lenya say, "of course she loves you. Whatever made you think that she doesn't?"
"Mummy won't even look at me," Kalus said and Theena recoiled slightly. It was hardly Theena's fault that she couldn't bear to see Solon's features looking at her. And she had a new baby to look after and a kingdom to rule over.
"Oh sweetie, your mother just has...limitations. It's not easy for her losing your daddy and with you looking so much like him."
"But she always has time for Kameo," Kalus said in a whiny voice. "She has time to hug her and play with her and-and-and I miss daddy so much that it hurts-" she began to cry and Theena felt a surge of anger. She stormed into the room, where she could see Lenya hugging Kalus. Grabbing Kalus by the arm, she yanked her hard out of the hug. Kalus let out a cry of pain and even Lenya looked shocked. She brought her face in front of Kalus and for a moment, Kalus's tear streaked face was hopeful.
"You're supposed to be a princess. A queen in training. Act like it," she hissed angrily and Kalus recoiled. "Stop crying! Queen's and princesses have to be strong or they will die!"
"Theena…" Lenya began, her hand reaching tentatively towards her and Theena glared at her.
"And you," she said with such venom that even Lenya recoiled slightly. "I will not have you trying to take my place as a parent."
"I am sorry Theena," Lenya said and Theena stormed off. In the corner of her eye, she could see Kalus kneeling on the floor looking emotionally distraught. Lenya looked like she wanted to say something, but she remained silent, not even moving to comfort Kalus.
Theena resisted the urge to sigh. She was right. She knew that she was. A queen had no business showing weakness in public. A queen, a ruler, needs to project confidence wherever they go. Tears were not acceptable in front of others, ever. It was a harsh lesson that Kalus needed to learn. It was for her own good, wasn't it? She had to learn it. Her future depended on it. Better that she learn this at a young age than when she was older. (Theena ignored the little voice at the back of her mind that told her that Kalus was a young child of six or seven at the time.)
It was true that Theena had cried privately about Solon and it was true that Lenya would hardly judge.
No it was just an important lesson that she needed to learn. She was a princess, a queen in the making (that you took away, a voice in her head reminded her.)
Theena's tears were falling freely now. She needed to stop. A queen, even a former one, had no business crying like this in public, but somehow she couldn't stop. It was like a flood of emotions and memories leaking through. Feelings and memories that Kalus DIDN'T deserve!
Still, she continued to cry.
"A memorial for Kalus!?" Theena asked angrily. "Have you lost your mind!? She was the one who freed Thorn, tortured her own family, betrayed us all and was responsible for countless elf deaths!"
"She defeated Thorn," Kameo shot back, her face determined. "She made a few mistakes-"
"Mistakes that almost destroyed the entire kingdom!" Theena practically shouted and Kameo recoiled slightly, before giving Theena a stony look.
"She was your daughter," Kameo said, her voice hardening. "And we might not have been related by blood, she was my sister."
"She is no daughter of mine," Theena hissed and Kameo frowned.
"Mother, this is not healthy," she said firmly. "Kalus was my sister and the rightful heir to the throne. Let me mourn her."
"Then mourn her privately! You are a queen and a queen does not publicly show grief or weakness. Especially not for a traitor!"
"Maybe that's why she snapped," Kameo said quietly and Theena recoiled slightly. "She had a breakdown. Several. She even wondered if you ever loved her."
"Don't be ridi-"
"Mother, you ignored her for YEARS!" Kameo continued, her voice growing stronger and she pulled out a small, deep red book. "She wrote about it in her diary. She-" Kameo paused and shook her head. "When you started training me to use the Element of Power, she was left to learn by herself. When you ignored her achievements, she buried her feelings and made excuses. Mother, this went on for YEARS and I...I didn't notice." She paused and shook her head. "You should read it," she said, holding the book out. Theena slapped it away.
"I have no interest in the words of a traitor," she hissed and stormed out.
Theena shook her head and sighed. Why had she rejected the idea of reading Kalus's diary? She knew that she had done nothing wrong. It was true that she had neglected Kalus's training with the Element of Power, but by that time Theena had already decided to pass it on to Kameo anyway. Training Kalus would have been a futile gesture, And both Theena and the Mystic agreed. Telling Kalus about the change would have created too much unnecessary drama.
The book was still there of course. Kameo had warded the book after Theena had tried destroying it and Theena had no intention of exhausting herself trying to break those wards.
Theena looked up from the papers she was reading to see her little girl standing beside her looking up. She smiled.
"What is it Kalus?" she asked gently and Kalus looked nervous.
"I...I had a nightmare again," she said Theena pulled her young daughter into a hug.
"Was that the nightmare where Daddy didn't come home?" she asked and Kalus nodded. She hugged her daughter.
"Mummy, I had a nightmare where I lost you," Kalus added and Theena hugged Kalus again.
"I'm not going anywhere," she said with a smile. "I'm your mother. Mums are supposed to be there for their kids. Always."
Theena frowned at the memory. She had still been there for Kalus, hadn't she? She just had to gain control of her own grief before anything else. She had a kingdom to run and a baby to care for and it wasn't like Kalus had no-one. Theena had seen to her needs, her health, her schooling, to feeding and clothing her. It wasn't like she had just abandoned her child on the streets or thrown her out of the building. She had just...needed time. You didn't heal an injury by leaning into it. You let it rest and recover. That's all she was doing. And when you didn't have the luxury of recovering, you avoided doing as much damage as possible until you could.
Queens had no business allowing their emotions to show, especially in times of turmoil. The Enchanted Kingdom was on edge at the time. Solon had vanished without a trace and his daughter was far too young to rule. People were worried. They needed leadership and Theena had to step up to the task.
And so, she had brushed aside her own feelings and took on the role of a queen, of a leader. She had kept the kingdom safe, reassured her subjects and had brought stability and prosperity to the Enchanted Kingdom. Kalus knew that. She grew up being groomed to be the next queen.
A queen that she was never going to be.
Theena stood up.
She still had no idea why she had come here. Even fifteen years later, the wounds she had left still hurt and it made no sense to keep opening them. Desperately drying her eyes, she walked out of the crypt.
AN: Well...so much for being a short drabble.
There's a hell of a lot to unpack with Theena. She hasn't acknowledged the harm that she did to Kalus. (Or at least, doesn't want to) and although she's working towards it, I didn't want her to make the leap just yet.
Also, Theena's excuses and reasoning is something that she's been doing for YEARS. That's not going to disappear overnight.