I couldn’t feel anything. It was like every part of my body was detached but nothing was wrong. It was a surreal experience. I couldn’t feel anything physically, but my mind was awake. It was alert. It was only within itself, thinking about everything that went down a while ago. How long before I could wake up? I didn’t know.
I had to let my mind protect me.
I didn’t know that such an experience was possible.
I couldn’t feel any movement around me, like someone had cut off my senses and shut my connection to the outside world. I could only feel myself, my body, my thoughts. It was okay. I was patient, and very aware of what was going on – within me. I remembered everything, although I suspected that that wouldn’t be the case when I woke up.
I just wanted to wake up and assure everyone else that I was fine; I was sure that everyone was worried. I was glad that Xena was fine and he hadn’t killed her. I didn’t know how I would live without that girl.
I was trying to reach out to someone, anyone who could talk to me, get me out of this despair, this hollow feeling. Nothing was wrong but something was missing. I needed human contact. Or any species, really.
And then something poked inside my consciousness. If my mind and body were in a bubble, suspended in limbo, something was nudging me from one side. I had a choice about whether I wanted to let that in. Was it a person? A werewolf? An object? I had no idea. But I was lonely, and frankly bored. I had to see what it was. I struggled a little, feeling around my bubble, not understanding what I was doing but going around simply on instinct.
I said softly, a careful whisper, ‘Hello?’
And suddenly I wasn’t in my bubble anymore. I wasn’t suspended in nothing but darkness. I was in a room, standing on my feet, not able to feel anything except a rush that rose from these alien surroundings.
It was a brightly lit room, but not so bright that I had to adjust my eyes from the darkness. I gave a thought to the possibility that this might be a hallucination, seeing as I Jeff had hit my head, hard. But something told me that this wasn’t a hallucination, or even a dream. This may not be a physical realm, but it was definitely happening, and it was real even if it was inside my head.
Finally understood what Dumbledore was talking about.
“Hello?” I tried again, moving forward. I couldn’t feel my steps either. Or the room temperature on my skin. It looked like a drawing room, with a couch facing a plain wall, some bedside tables, a lamp, a main door, and two other doors. A couple of steps were leading up from one end, disappearing into darkness. I decided to wait a minute before venturing. Where to go? The stairs? The main door? Try one of the other two doors?
Before I could decide, one of the doors – the sliding one, opened. A young man and a girl got out of the kitchen, a large tub of ice-cream in her hand, while he was holding two spoons, and the lid of the bowl. I vaguely read the flavor; peach mango.
Then they noticed me. Then she dropped the ice-cream and he jumped. I watched them from where I stood, assessing if they were a threat. They watched me with something akin to disbelief, and then…hope.
The girl gathered herself first and moved towards me. I immediately stepped back, flinching. She froze too, realizing her mistake. The guy snapped out of his daze as well, and then the first thing he did was reach for the ice-cream tub, which had miraculously fallen straight down, not spilling anything.
“Tasmin.” He told her, and I figured that that was her name. She turned around, her wide brown eyes looking forth between the guy and me. Not once did I speak, watching their interaction with all my focus. If they were a threat; there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
Tasmin stayed right where she was as the guy walked next to her and handed her the ice-cream.
“Hi.” He told me, watching me for any reaction I could give him.
“Hi.” I told him. Their reaction was priceless. They both looked at each other and let out a happy shriek, which startled me, and I stepped back again. I had no idea what was going on.
“Sorry.” Tasmin said immediately, and I felt a small wave of relief. My gut told me that they weren’t a threat. I decided to be bolder.
“It’s fine.” I told them. I could see that they could barely contain their glee. I gave them a questioning look and they tried their best to be normal.
“Do you know where you are?” She asked me and I shook my head. “Why don’t you tell me?”
“You’re at home.” She told me and I had to smile at that. The young man playfully hit her head, “Yeah because she knows where your home is, stupid.”
She turned red, as if she was worried that I would think she was stupid.
“You’re in Greece, Mykonos.” The boy told me, and it was my turn to be surprised.
“I’m Jura. This is Tasmin.” He introduced himself and so I did the same. “I’m Flora.” I told them, not giving away more information than needed.
“You’re the Luna Queen?” The girl squealed in excitement and I decided to deny it. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
His face fell, but it jumped back up in a second. “It’s okay. We won’t hurt you. We have been waiting to meet you since so long! Ever since we found out about you being a Nihl – and the Luna Queen. We need you to help us.” He spoke so quickly it was hard to keep up. As if his time was limited.
Or was my time limited?
I nodded, slowly, “Did you summon me here?” I asked and the girl nodded nervously, exchanging a glance with Jura. I nodded. “Is that your power? You can summon people?”
She nodded once more, but then began to blabber nervously, “I can summon them, but it takes a while, and multiple tries – and sometimes it doesn’t even work. It’s why I took so long to even find out that I had this power. And maybe it was all just dreams. But you’re not a dream, right? This is you, the luna queen, right? Cause honestly I just had a picture of you to work with and I had never done that before and-“
Jura kept a hand on her shoulder, and she stopped babbling. He then looked at her lovingly and pushed a spoon and the ice-cream into her hands. “Calm down.” He told her. She nodded, and then without hesitation opened the tub and started eating it right there, standing. I had to suppress a smile at her antics. This was childish. Suddenly, I felt old, mature. Like this title and position had made me age several years. I welcomed the confidence.
“How old are you?” I asked, looking at Tasmin and she blushed at the attention. “I’m seventeen, and this is Jura – “She didn’t realize that she was introducing him again, “ -and he’s nineteen. We’re in the middle of a bit of a situation, and we would like your help. In fact, we’d love your help. Cause you see, we’re all Nihls and we’re being hunted and you’re the only one right now that can help us. You and King Reece – I uh – I mean Alpha King Reece.” She finished.
“So, there are other Nihls.” I muttered, in a daze. They looked at me funny.
“What are you talking about? Didn’t you get any of our messages?” Jura asked me and I gave him a quizzical look.
“We sent you so many – with your best friend’s brother – Jeff. He was supposed to help us out. But we haven’t heard from him in a while. He said that we should all gather here at my house and you would come visit us but it’s been a day and you hadn’t so we didn’t know what to do-“
“Hang on!” I cut off her rant, fear pooling through me like an emptying water tank. “Jeff is the enemy!” I told them, and all the color drained out of their faces. “What? But, no he said that he would get you here! He has been so helpful! Helping us find our strengths and locating other Nihls! How-“
“It’s a trap, “ I realized, cutting Jura this time. Their eyes widened in realization as betrayal hit and I found myself wanting to protect these kids more than anything. “Does he know you guys are here?”
Both of them shook their head, “No, we told him we would meet him at another location when I summoned him again. But I’ve been trying to summon him since a while and he hasn’t responded, I can’t even feel him.” She told me quickly and I shook my head. It wasn’t enough. Their meeting point wouldn’t be far from here and they’d probably be out looking for their hideout.
“Don’t worry, your other Nihls will meet them soon. We found their hideout you know? It’s only a matter of time before their secret society isn’t a secret anymore.”
I took a step forward, my hands raising to Tasmin’s shoulder. It passed right through her, but the alarm in my actions was evident. “Get out of here!” I yelled, making sure they heard me loud and clear.
They gave me a wide look, Jura turned and ran right out the main door.
A wave of urgency hit all of us and I realized that for her to start helping him, she would have to cut this connection. “Reach me again when you’re safe. I’m going to help you!!” I told her and she nodded.
“Don’t trust anyone.” I warned her and she nodded, gulping. I saw her face contort and consciously made my voice softer. “It’s okay. You’ll be safe. Jeff is with us, probably chained somewhere if not already dead.” I told her but her expression only worsened.
“What did he do?”
“He tried to kill me.” She blanched, and for the second time today the ice-cream she was clutching fell from her hands, face down this time.
“He can’t hurt you, but his followers might. Get out of here and stay safe.” I told her and she nodded.
She turned around and I could feel myself being pulled away. “You’ll be fine! Just stick together.” I told her and she stopped midway and turned around.
“I can already tell that you will be a good Queen to them.” She told me, and I smiled.
“I’ll come for you. I promise I will come for you.”
And then I was gone.
My eyes opened, my chest heaving heavy sighs as I struggled to breathe. A large, warm hand was placed on my chest and it gently pushed me back in the covers.
“Flora, calm down, you’re okay!” Reece’s voice was like music to my ears. I tried to breathe steadily, following his instructions. He was standing in front of me, a disheveled mess, along with Noori.
A minute later, he lunged forward and engulfed me in the warmest hug. I could feel myself melting into him, sighing in contentment. “Reece! Let her breathe!” Noori’s warning made him leave me and I frowned.
I tried to speak but no sound came out.
“You need to rest your throat – and you need some water. Try to relax.” Noori instructed and I nodded, looking around now.
“Oh, thank god you’re awake I was so worried!” Reece gushed, settling for holding my hand. I managed to give him a weak smile as Noori got over a glass of water with a straw. He bent forward and lifted me up, making me sit straight. I greedily drank the water.
“How long?” I croaked, wincing at the sound of my own voice. Reece on the other hand looked like it was the most wonderful thing in the world.
“One day.” Reece told me with a narrow gaze, and I nodded.
“Dead. But you don’t need to worry about all that right now, you just relax and get better.” He commanded but I shook my head.
“Xena? Everyone else?”
“Everyone’s fine.” His replies were curt as he pulled his chair closer to me, practically looming over me.
Noori hovered around, checking my pulse, looking all over and stuff like that.
“How do you feel?”
How did I feel?
“I feel fine.” I told him truthfully and he nodded, but his eyes were still wandering all around.
I raised an arm and said, “Reece, I feel fine. In fact, I feel great.” I told him, trying not to wince as I moved around a little. Reece caught it immediately, but only narrowed his eyes in concern.
“How bad is it?” I asked them after a minute of silence and Noori excused herself. Reece took in a deep breath.
“That bad, huh?” I winced, wondering if Jeff had done any permanent damage. The events of the night were a blur after he had knocked me out.
“No! N-o it’s not the worst. Everything is healing as it should, and it’ll just leave scars.” He told me, but I could tell that there was still something on his mind.
Reece’s heartbeat raised, running faster and he ran a frustrated hand through his hair as he opened to speak up. I braced myself.
“The – umm. You had lost too much blood. You weren’t healing as fast because you’re human. Well, you’re a Nihl but that means you don’t exactly have our werewolf healing abilities. Even if you are marked, you get some strength and some healing powers but it’s never as quick as if you were a full-fledged werewolf-“
“Right, yeah. I – I didn’t have a choice! I was trying to do what was fair to you and I didn’t even know if it was possible to do this to a Nihl – Fuck, I didn’t even know that Nihls still existed until a week ago there was so much hanging in the balance I couldn’t –“
“I gave you some of my blood.” He told me and I nodded, wondering what that meant.
“Okaay? Is that supposed to give me powers?” I asked, shifting a little, wondering why he was behaving so neurotic over this.
“No, Flora – fuck!” He took a deep breath, “You’re going to become a werewolf now.”
“Oh. OH.” I repeated myself, and then left my mouth open.
In front of me, Reece began to rant again, getting up to pace back and forth as he spoke. “I’m so sorry – I know, I know you should have had a choice, you know? It’s a tough lifestyle and not everyone wants it and being human is great – but I didn’t have a choice! Noori didn’t think you’d make it, and even if you did, you’d lost so much blood that there was likely to be permanent lasting damage and I couldn’t take that chance. It was a risk I had to take even though I have no idea how your Nihl body would react to it. But I swear, everything looks fine, looks normal even. I had Noori run like a million tests – she’s watching you like a hawk right now for any signs of something going wrong, but I just had to, you know? I just- “
“Reece.” I repeated for the third time and he stopped completely. My head was hurting from following his pacing. “I’m so-“
“Thank you, for saving my life.” I cut his apology and took control of the conversation. Everything was making sense now. He looked at me with wide, hopeful eyes. Eyes that had seemed like their light was returning back to them now.
“You- you’re okay?” He asked me and I nodded, smiling at him. Sure, it was going to be a big change, and I didn’t know if I wanted to be one, but I understood that he didn’t have a choice.
“Yes, I’m okay but will you please stop pacing and come sit here next to me?”
He came immediately, and I raised a hand and pet him on the head, “Good doggy.” I giggled and Reece gave me a crooked smile, full of adoration.
“I will coach you through the entire thing. I will try to make the transition as easy as possible for you.” He promised and I nodded, “I know, babe.”
“So, anything else I should know?” I asked him and he shook his head. Nothing important. We’re tracking down his other followers – we got a lot of information off of him.”
“Is he…alive?” I asked with a gulp and Reece’s hand immediately came on mine, “He will never, ever get near you again. Ever. I will never let that happen.” He swore at me. I believed him. “I know, it’s okay shhh.” I told him and he squeezed my hand more tightly. I gave him an assuring squeeze in return.
“So, why is it not healing as fast? The last time I healed overnight – after the rogue invasion – so what’s taking so long?” I asked him, wondering and Reece sighed.
“There’s more damage to your body. I am so sorry I didn’t get to you before! But you helped me. We think you used your powers to help me get mine. Sienna, Hank and I. It was like we stepped into the room and all the effects of the silver wore off. I could fight him in my wolf form and get to you in time. And I could give you my blood that helped save you at the end of the day. So technically, you saved yourself.” He told me in a rush, and I nodded, but I didn’t think that I’d done anything.
“I don’t know about that, Reece. I mean he had drugged me with something. I don’t think I could concentrate enough to do anything. Maybe you’re just stronger than you think.” I told him and he let out a short laugh.
“Or maybe, Flora, you’re stronger than you think.” His tone left no room for argument. I decided that it didn’t matter.
“So, how long does Noori think it’ll be till I’m back to normal?” I asked him, feeling the restless need to stretch my legs. Reece frowned, before carefully answering, “I’m not sure, a week?” I rolled my eyes knowing it was probably a day more, but he was just being his protective self. I decided not to argue.
“Now, will you go and shower? I wouldn’t touch you with a ten-foot pole.” I teased, but my eyes conveyed the message; I was fine, and he had to take care of himself as well.
Reece gave me a hesitant frown that I matched with my own firm one. Then with a sigh, he nodded. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” He told me and I nodded.
“I’ll send someone to keep you company till then.” He told me and I shook his head. “Naah, it’s fine. I’m a little drowsy, I might just hit the hay.” I told him, knowing that staying up was taking efforts, and I was already drained. He helped me lean back into the mattress and raised the covers up.
“Goodnight. I’ll be back soon.” He told me, and then leaned in to give me a swift kiss on my forehead. I smiled, content, feeling a warm blanket of safety engulf me.
I woke up a few hours later, hungry as hell, and a pressing sensation to pee. There was nobody in the room, but that was fine. I felt well – rested and decided it was time to test my limits.
With some effort, I sat up on the bed, and pushed the covers away. I was wearing pajamas and a loose t-shirt. I didn’t have to ask who’s they were. My feet touched the cold ground and it helped jolt me awake. Taking a deep breath, I pulled myself off the bed, breathing normally. There was pain, but the drugs were doing a good job of keeping some of it away.
I was careful to not make any harsh moves and walked slowly to the bathroom.
It was the large mirror in the spacious bathroom that made me freeze on my way out. I didn’t recognize the girl in the mirror – she looked like someone had beat the fight out of her and left her for the dead. I moved closer to the mirror, placing a hand on the glass as if to check whether the girl in the mirror would mimic me.
I shut my eyes, trying to remember what had happened. I’d been knocked out. I remembered talking to Xena when I came back about. Wanting something to jog my memory, I lowered my hands to the hem of my shirt and tried to raise it a little. The horrible scabs from something sharp were all over my skin, almost in a neat pattern, above my belly button. I raised it a little more to discover other cuts just above the first line. My sides were already beginning to protest at the stretch with my raising arms, but I didn’t stop. I raised the t-shirt above my head, and let it fall to the floor next to me. The stretching caused some stitches to pull, making me wince.
And then everything hit me. Silent tears rolled down my cheeks as I remembered the torture, his crazy eyes as he enjoyed getting information out of me. The pain, oh the pain. The screaming, the gleaming knife. More tears flowed down, and I couldn’t make it stop. I couldn’t feel safe.
The door to the washroom opened and I let out a startled scream. “Flora! Why are you out-“
Reece took one look at me and broke off mid-sentence. He walked closer to me, his hands raised out to the side in a display of innocence and I watched him through blurry tears. “Flora, shhh, oh baby. It’s okay. You’re safe now. Flora oh you shouldn’t have gone alone.” He told me softly, but his words landed on deaf ears as I only cried harder.
Abandoning his slow approach, Reece walked straight up to me and put his hand on my shoulder. I stood right where I was, watching him, trying to make heads or tails of my feelings. “Fuck, your stitches opened!” He told me and I looked down to see that he was right – a few of them had opened.
“I promise, you are safe now, baby. Everything will be okay. Oh, I’m so fucking sorry you had to go through that. I am so so sorry, my Queen.” He told me, his hand running assuring circles on my shoulders and his touch soothed me. My tears ebbed and he breathed a little easier.
“It’s going to take a while, but you’ll be okay.” He promised me and I nodded. “You will get over this and live without looking over your shoulder. You will get through this.” He promised me and I nodded again. “And you will never feel like this again, I will not allow it.” He continued and I could only keep nodding, afraid that if I started speaking then I’d break into a new round of sobs again.
“Flora, you’re fine. You’re a strong woman. I’m right here, every step of the way. I’m never leaving your side – we will get you over this. You will be fine. You will heal – both physically and otherwise.” He continued and I nodded again, my feelings of being overwhelmed ebbing a little.
Reece moved forward and put his arms around my shoulders, careful to not touch the open wounds on my front. He gave me several kisses on my cheek, and I felt better. I felt safer. I didn’t know how I would get over this, but I knew that with them on my side I would manage.
He picked me up easily and placed me back on the bed. Then he went and fetched the t-shirt I’d discarded on the bathroom floor and came out again. “Did they open because you raised your hands?” He asked, pointing at my stitches and I nodded.
Reece’s eyes got the dazed look as he mindlinked someone and I felt myself grow conscious at the state of my undress.
“Noori is coming back to patch you up, and she’s getting you one of those tie – up hospital gowns.” He told me and I frowned at the thought of that. “A shirt would be fine – yours.” I bargained and Reece gave it a thought before he nodded.
“Also – we have some news. We found out from Jeff that there are other Nihls out there.” Reece told me and my eyes widened in realization.
“Tasmin!” I cried out in alarm sitting up. Reece’s hand immediately restrained my movement.
“Flora? What’s wrong?”
“We have to find Tasmin and Jura!” I sputtered.