The sun rose bright, and the light streamed through the cracks in Valkyrie's curtains. She blinked and pulled the duvet up over her head, curling up into a ball. She didn't want the day to come, because if the day came, she would have to wake up. Waking up meant remembering. Remembering Melencholia, remembering Skulduggery's bones fall from their joints, his soul gone. She remembered the hurt and the pain and the loss, she remembered getting Melencholia to think about Skulduggery and making her touch him. She remembered the hope that had filled her, only to be doused when nothing happened. Skulduggery remained dead, and Melencholia laughed, the sharp sound ringing through the empty space and cutting into Valkyrie like knives. The White Cleaver had appeared and grabbed Melencholia, and she had been dragged off. But Valkyrie didn't care. She didn't care what happened to Melencholia, or to anyone. She fell to her knees beside the bones of her best friend, tears starting to well up in her eyes.
"Skulduggery?" Her voice cracked, "Skulduggery come on, stop messing it's not funny anymore. Skulduggery? Please don't- don't be dead. You can't be. Please." The tears dripped down her cheeks and she hung her head, picking up his jacket and holding it tightly like a security blanket. His skull stared up at her from where it lay, and she noticed there was nothing there. For the first time, Valkyrie saw a skeleton. He had always been so much more, even though he had no eyes to show emotion, she could always tell he was there, she could see /him/, not the skeleton. But that's all he was now, a skeleton. She shivered and pulled Skulduggery's jacket on. It felt like being hugged and she wrapped her arms around herself tightly, fresh tears coming to the surface. He was gone. Skulduggery was gone. She thought back to the time they had first met, the jokes they shared, the adventures, the petulance, the childish behaviour... And she smiled despite herself.
It had been a month since Skulduggery had died, and the wound was still fresh. Lying in bed was all she seemed to do nowadays, but she got up and shuffled to her CD player. Skulduggery's will had been read out a week after his death. He'd left her a CD, with one single song on it. She didn't know the song at first, but listened to it intently until she learnt the words by heart. She pressed play, got back into bed, and fell asleep again listening to "Me and Mrs Jones."
Skulduggery picked up Gordon's echo stone and it pulsed, a hologram of Gordon shimmering up from it. Gordon blinked a few times and squinted up at the figure of Skulduggery looming over him in the shadowy room.
"Skulduggery?" He whispered, shocked, "but you're... You're... You're dead!"
Skulduggery hushed him and Gordon pressed his lips together, trying not to talk.
"I am, already dead, but I'm guessing the dead you mean is... Different."
Gordon sank back into his armchair and stared at Skulduggery as he stood, completely alive. Well, as alive as a skeleton could be. Something dawned on Gordon as he looked at Skulduggery.
"Valkyrie..." He murmured, "Valkyrie! What about Valkyrie? Have you told her, Skulduggery?"
"No." Skulduggery answered, sounding ashamed.
"What!" Gordon exploded, "Skulduggery! Tell her! You have to tell her! She's distraught without you! You know, she's been here every day, and she talks to me and she /cries/ Skulduggery. Because she misses you! You have to tell her now!"
"I can't tell her!" Skulduggery shouted, and Gordon just looked at him. Skulduggery sagged against a bookcase and covered his face with gloved hands, frustrated. "I can't tell her." He repeated, "I want to, believe me, I want to, but I can't. Not now. Not after she's been this upset and after me hurting her like this. If I went back, if I told her, who knows what she'd do?"
"The White Cleaver got Melencholia to release all the souls she had and... Well..." He gestured to himself.
"But WHY didn't you tell Valkyrie?" Gordon persisted, "surely she should know you're alive?"
Skulduggery sighed sadly, "It's for her own good."
"Gordon!" Skulduggery shouted, " stop judging me before you've heard the whole story!"
Gordon looked ashamed and remained quiet.
"Right..." Skulduggery said, "It's for her own good, Gordon, she almost got killed down in those caves! I know she's almost been killed a lot, but this went too far. Because of me and my stupid arrogance, your niece could be dead right now, so in answer to your question, I'm not going to tell her. It's better to let her grieve in whatever way she chooses, rather than to tell her and have her come back into her old life. I won't watch her get hurt again Gordon, I won't." And with that, Skulduggery turned and disappeared into the shadows. Gordon's hologram flickered and just before it retracted into the echo stone, he heard a strange noise come from the corner of the room. He heard a sob.