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This article, Melancholy of the Flowers (Wiki Contest: February 2013), is property of Leafwhisker.

Disclaimer: I don't own PJO.

For the contest.

Because being depressing is what I do best. -LeafwhiskerStipulevibrissa 23:55, February 1, 2013 (UTC)

Note: It may be helpful to look over these pages before you read.

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Her hair was black as it always was, but she had decided to let it grow past her shoulders. Her skin was pale from the absence of sunlight and under her eyes dark circles had charcoaled themselves in. Her clothes were wrinkled and she had not bothered to wash her hair for some time. Her light brown eyes only lead to dark places as opposed to the warmth of the sun they usually gave.

This was the first time she left the Eirene cabin in weeks.

It was near lunch when Susanna made her way to the dinning pavilion. The other campers turned their heads in astonishment when she walked by them. She offered them smiles devoid of warmth which they did not accept, and only gapped at her form as she walked passed them without waiting for comments. Instead of her usual white or blue, she wore black. Her shorts were smudged with grass stains and some of the color in her tank top had begun to fade over time. One of her four necklaces was missing.

When she neared the tables, many campers were already there, and when one turned around (a son of Apollo), he just stared at her with a face reminiscent of a fish out of water. The other campers, noticing his confusion, turned around to see her standing there with a faint frown on her face. She didn't want any attention right now, especially from the other campers.

She ignored the mass of surprised people and took her seat at the Eirene table. Her hands clenched the edges of the table and her fingertips collected splinters, causing a small volume of blood to accumulate at her fingertips. But she did not seem to notice the pain until a nymph – with the grace of a ballet dancer – came to her table and placed a bowl of salad and a plate with a sandwich next to her.

She noticed the salad contained olives, and she dared to remember that her mother always put olives in her salads.

Although it was the warmer month of July, Susanna felt the chill of fall on her bare arms.

Her hands gripped the edges of the table once more and managed to calm herself before the tears escaped from her eyes, but, sensing this obscure tranquility would not last, she took both the salad and sandwich in hand and tossed them both into the flames of the barbecue pit. She did not bother to thank Eirene; she was past any time of thanks.

With her back to the other campers, she allowed two tears to escape; one from each eye. After all, if they were equal maybe they would stop begging for attention. But she had misjudged and soon enough she would not be able to stop the tears from falling; she could not cry in front of everyone. They already thought her weak. They didn't understand. Not yet. But they would eventually.

And, suddenly, as if the clouds parted to reveal the bright sun to lighten the path, she understood what Lazarus had gone through. The pain, the anger, it all made sense. Why hadn't she realized it before? He knew. He always knew, and he had bore the pain longer than her. So why had she shut him out like everyone else? She had been grateful at first for the lack of company, that was true, but now she felt oh so cold inside. Perhaps those weeks left detached hadn't been quite what she needed. And now, in a way, she was paying the price.

The bowl and plate slipped from her hands when her grip loosened, and they fell to the pavement with a crash. Her knees gave way and she fell to the ground; the skin on her knees split from the ground and fragments of the plate but she didn't notice. She was too far away to notice anything now. Too wrapped up in her guilt and despair and fear that somehow he would disappear as quickly as her mother had.

Deep down, she knew he would never abandon her. He was like a prince in that respect, but he refused to fight and had his own share of flaws. Lazarus's life was a tragedy, maybe a little more so than hers, and she couldn't help but laugh at the fact that they had forgotten everything for only a fraction of a second when their world began to fall apart.

She was sitting at the shore of the lake when he sat next to her silently. After the incident at lunch she had asked him to leave her be (she was lying when she said she needed to be alone, but only partly) and he left only a kiss on her forehead before he disappeared for the remainder of the day. The way his eyes looked (sad yet understanding) made her want to run back to him, but she couldn't.

Her fingers traced shapes in the grainy sand as she watched the sunset against the lake. Like everything else, it seemed to be missing the warmth it usually gave off. The wind blew her hair behind her and caused goosebumps to form on her arms. It stung her wounded knees – she had refused ambrosia and nectar out of stupidity – and she winced at the sudden pain.

His hand found hers, perhaps subconsciously, but she did not lace her fingers with his. But she wanted to.

At last, the silence was broken.

“Regina.” His voice was soft and pleading. Reassuring. His pet name for her never bothered her, in fact she was found it endearing, but right now she deemed the use of the word inappropriate; she did not feel like a queen.

Or maybe he wasn't trying to make her feel better. Perhaps he was simply reminding her of the days when they were simple children who found joy in the most insignificant of things.

She didn't know which was worse.

“I understand.” he continued, but she held the impression that this was all he wanted to say, at least for now. More words would follow when the time came but she wasn't sure exactly when.

After a few minutes of only the wind and waves against the shore to provide a distraction, she answered him. “I know. I know and I'm sorry.” She didn't know what else to say, or maybe she simply refused to say anything else. It was probably both.

Her fingers dug into the sand but she withdrew them when she remembered it wasn't stable enough to hold onto. She wanted to remember the days when she and her mother were laughing and smiling, but she was afraid to remember those days; she didn't want to reopen the wounds. But she would have to remember eventually.

She heard her ragged breathes before she could feel the tears on her face. They grew in numbers and the stream showed no signs of slowing down. She tried to swallow but found it impossible. She covered her face with her hands as her sobs grew louder, but that did nothing to muffle the sound. She felt his arms wrap around her frame and finally gave in to the comfort he provided. His lips pressed against her temple as sobs continued to shake her body. When she finally calmed down, she decided to speak.

“When I was younger, before I came to Camp Half-Blood, she would help me make snowmen when it was cold enough.” She managed to smile despite the grief this caused her. “Then she would make me hot chocolate when we came back inside, and occasionally I would help her make sugar cookies.” She stopped when the tears started to stream down her face again. She couldn't do this. It was too painful.

When she made the decision to finally leave the solitude of her cabin, she made it on the assumption that she had no more tears left to cry. But apparently she was wrong, and the pain felt worse than before.

She leaned her head against his chest as he rubbed circles on her back in an effort to comfort her. “It gets better, after a while.” he murmured. As the water caressed the shoreline, she decided that they looked like two lovers who were constantly reaching for each other, but could never quite hold the grip. Maybe she and Lazarus were like that in a way because something or another kept tearing them apart. First his father's death, now her adoptive mother's. She understood why Lazarus hated Hades for so long – and still does. You would want someone to blame. You would need someone to blame.

“Does it really?” she asked. She was wary because she knew he still hurt. After all those years, they were still his parents, and they were still dead.

“Not really.” he admitted. “But you learn how to accept it.”

She nodded because she understood what he was trying to say, but she doubted she would ever be able to accept her adoptive mother's death. Lazarus hadn't truly accepted his parents' deaths, otherwise he would have learned to hate Hades less.

The sun had almost vanished from the sky now, and the temperature of the sky was growing colder. Soon the harpies would be out looking for stray campers who were out after curfew. Normally, Susanna would have been in her cabin hours ago reading a book in Ancient Greek or listening to music, but things had long since ceased being normal ever since she heard the news her mother had passed away. She knew it was inevitable, the cancer her mother had was particularly deadly, but she ignored the truth for so long.

“What was she like, your mother?” she asked. At first, she was afraid his body would tense up and he would ignore her question, so she immediately regretted saying it, but, to her surprise (and relief) he answered her.

“I don't remember her very well, but from what my father had told me she was a kind woman.” She looked up and saw a small smile painted on his face though she could see the sadness displayed in his eyes. His hands dropped to the sand and, in an act to reassure him, she took them and laced her fingers with his.

She might have been mourning, but he had been lost for so much longer.

“The day she died...” He stopped and closed his eyes. She could feel the pain radiate off of him, and she felt so helpless. With a start, she realized that must have been how he felt when she was locked away in the Eirene cabin all those weeks.

When he opened his eyes again, he continued where he left off. “We were walking across street to the candy shop because I had begged her for some chocolate. My father was working—naturally—and the next thing I knew a giant hound was in front of us. She was frantic; kept saying that she didn't have anything to offer, or she had payed her debt. I can't quite remember. Then she was dead and the hound was gone, and the only thing I was left with was claw marks on my back from where the monster had attacked me.” He closed his eyes and gripped her hands tightly, and when she looked up at his face she could see the tears escape from his eyes. She should have said something, but she didn't know what else to say, so she simply leaned against him and tried not to cry.

“She...she would have liked to have met you.” His voice stopped and he smiled down at her sadly. Susanna felt a pang of guilt knowing that her adoptive mother had met Lazarus, while his mother never got the chance to meet her. She wondered if Lazarus ever felt bitter about that.

“She's in Elysium. I can tell.” he added, and she got the feeling that he wasn't talking about his own mother.

She wore four necklaces the next day.

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