Taming a Killer

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(ch 17) When You See Double (Aria)

<Aria>

They had reached the doors to the school, and already Aria wanted to run back to where she had come from. When Molly had gripped her, screaming with tears in her eyes she knew something was wrong. It had taken her an extra moment to realise that it had to do with her.

She hadn’t noticed what had happened right away and thought the splash in the water had nothing to do with her. Molly had seen him fall though, and now they were all here and he was not!

‘You don’t understand!’ Aria griped, yanking at her hair in worry. ‘Gabriel doesn’t know how to swim!’

Giovanni was crying, and although the two had been fighting, Johnny had his arm around him, calming him. If she was honest with herself, what comfort could anyone get if Gabriel was dead? She wouldn’t allow more of her children to die. Aria already had to deal with that fourteen years ago and it wasn’t going to happen again.

When the Dorm Manager that had escorted them looked away; Aria made a dash for the doors. Vernon grabbed her sleeve stopping her before she could leave. When she looked at him, she saw his eyes were wet too. ‘Mummy, you can’t run down there like that, you don’t know how to get there and you can get lost or hurt!’

Aria wiped her eyes and bent down so she was at Vernon’s level. She wiped at his eyes and hugged him. Giovanni, seeing this, ran to her too joining in on the hug.

‘Madam Rossi,’ a male voice rang out. Aria looked at the man and stood up to meet the hand he extended. ‘Yes, I am her.’ She replied, keeping her voice as steady as she could. The man had shoulder length greying hair, and a short grey beard that clung to his face. He had icy blue eyes that almost looked grey and had a haunting look to them even though they were smiling.

‘Professor Martin has called ahead and told me what happened. It seems this is a system that we will need to change. It never happened before that someone fell into the water at any time. It begs my apologies that it has occurred to you and your family.’

Aria didn’t reply. An apology wasn’t enough. She was trusting this school to keep her family safe and this was what happens?

‘Unfortunately, this train cannot stop whilst it is heading to the school. It needs to keep a steady speed so that it can handle going up the hills to reach us here.’

Aria zoned him out. She needed to figure out what to do. As much as she hated to admit it, Vernon was right. She had no clue how to get back down to the lake without getting lost.

‘For now, why don’t you take your family and wait in my office. We have some things we need to take care of before the boys and young lady can get sorted and go to their dorms. I am also aware that you have finished travelling a long distance over a great deal of time. So I will organise where you can all rest for the night and we can take care of proceedings tomorrow.’

This was too much for her to deal with. She didn’t understand how he could be so calm when she needed to know about her child!

‘-an investigation near the lake and a crew to find your son.’

‘I’m sorry, Deputy Headmaster.’ Aria paused. Had he mentioned his name? ‘Ah, I didn’t hear what you said, my mind is clouded with worry.’

‘That’s quite alright, Madam. I said that we have already sent down some staff that will do an investigation for you. They will go to the lake and try to find your son.’

‘Alright, and I’m sorry, Deputy, I didn’t get your name?’

‘Henry Campbell, madam.’ He inclined his head to her politely. ‘Someone will send refreshments up to my office. There are also some comfortable sofas if anyone needs to have a lie down. I will meet you there shortly. In the meantime, I myself will investigate and see what I can do. But first, let me escort you to my office so you do not get lost.’

Now this was a better attitude, Aria mused. Had he read her mind?

With another sigh, Aria shuffled her feet and followed the Deputy up the grand staircase. The children went along with her and they walked for a while down various corridors. Finally, after about ten minutes, they arrived at the man’s office. Aria hoped the kids could enjoy the view, but for her, despite the beautiful layout, it was impossible.

Like he promised, the food came quickly, and though Hayden and Molly ate, none of her own seemed to have an appetite. The idea of eating herself didn’t tempt her, either. It killed her that she couldn’t run out and search by herself.

Also true to his word, the Deputy had been going in and on whilst speaking on the phone. The professors that had gone to check on Gabriel had left, and by then she could only pray. She wanted to have a son to take care of, not one that she would need to bury.

After what felt like hours, but must not have been too long if the sun outside was any sign, the Deputy returned. The smile of relief plastered on his face made Aria jump up in expectation of good news.

‘A student found your son. He’s conscious and recovering in the Medical Wing as we speak.’

‘Please, direct me.’ Aria said this carefully. Demanding would likely get her nowhere.

If Aria had been looking, she would have seen the scowl on Hayden’s face upon hearing the news. The expression disappeared quickly, however, and the poker face Hayden always had resurfaced.

‘Yes, Madam Rossi, please come with me. Your children and the Wilson’s are free to remain here or come along.’

Immediately, everyone from the Rossi family stood up. Molly, not one to remain behind, bounced next to Vernon and took his hand. Hayden shrugged his shoulders and took a seat on the couch. ‘I’ll stay here.’

Nobody argued with him, all keen on seeing Gabriel’s condition.

When Aria finally put her eyes on Gabriel and saw him smile at her, she broke down into tears.

The children sat around his bed, looked up at her in curiosity, though did not interrupt her.

‘Is the child that saved my son here?’ Aria asked, after hugging Gabriel to her chest and kissing his forehead, much to his disgruntlement.

‘No,’ a boy that looked like an angel reincarnate answered her politely. ‘They called her to the Headmistress soon after we came here.’

Giovanni hugged Gabriel too, but didn’t kiss him like she did. Gabriel fondly hugged him back, muttering that he was fine. Aria knew this wasn’t the case. He was pale, his eyes glassy, and his body shaking the slightest bit. Johnny and Vernon had stayed back respectfully, and she hoped no one thought this was weird. She understood though; they had only recently joined the family.

‘Why don’t we all give Mrs Rossi some privacy with her son?’ the woman wearing the nurse’s coat addressed the children.

Everyone got up. ‘Why don’t you give the new kids a tour, Mr Novikov, Miss Newton?’

The children agreed and beckoned her kids towards the door. With eagre voices, the children raved about the schools and the many floors and corridors.

When she was alone with Gabriel, she allowed herself to calm down. She stroked his hair in a relaxing way, murmuring words of love to him as she did. Same as when he was a child, Gabriel’s eyes fluttered closed from her affections. Within minutes, he was asleep. She pulled the extra covers over him and kept carding her fingers through his hair long after he had slept.

‘Why don’t you get some food now?’ the woman from earlier had returned. Aria took the time to notice her surroundings with her heart finally calm.

‘What is your name, Madam?’ Aria asked softly. ‘I would like to thank you properly.’

‘Emma Torrie, Madam. I am the nurse here, so I tend all the children that come and need my help.’

Madam Torrie had removed her nurse’s cap and closed some lights for Gabriel, who was her only patient. She had curly white hair the dropped to her shoulders. Her chocolate brown eyes were warm and welcoming. Aria thought it perfect for students who may have been wary of hospitals.

For the first time since the incident, Aria noticed her stomach growl and agreed with the Matron.

‘I’m unable to leave my post because I have to supervise any patients. However, if you follow the main staircase path, it will lead you towards the Great Hall. The kitchen is right next to the Great Hall. If you get lost, you may come across a student that has remained here for the holidays.’

Aria thanked her and stepped away from Gabriel after giving him another kiss on his forehead.

Finding her way around the school was more difficult than Aria anticipated. Aside from the obvious main staircase, there were so many distractions around her. Almost getting lost just from looking around her at the wonderful decor. When she had gone down three floors, Aria noticed Giovanni a few feet away with a girl she had never seen before. She was almost near the ground floor, so perhaps this was someone he had met.

‘Giovanni?’ She called to him, wondering where Johnny and Vernon had gone. When he had found time to change his clothes? Giovanni ignored her, as if she wasn’t even there. Frowning, Aria came closer, but aside from glancing at her, he continued talking to the girl. He didn’t so much as acknowledge her. Why was he acting like this?

‘Giovanni? Why are you being like this? Are you angry with me?’

She was right next to him now, and this time she could notice there were more freckles on his face than Giovanni had. His hair was longer, and the style differed from Giovanni’s. He was even thinner than her son, who was so skinny, she always tried to feed him extra. This was not Giovanni.

A terrible feeling crept across Aria’s heart as she stared at the boy.

‘I’m sorry. You look exactly like my son. I don’t understand. Why do you look exactly like my son?’ Aria had to grip the wall as a sudden flashback hit. She crumpled to her knees as the visions assaulted her. She was back in the year 2007.

‘You’re pregnant!’ Her doctor announced happily when she had come in to the office. Mark had joined her for this visit, which was unusual. Not denying she wanted the company, she didn’t complain. ‘And guess what? It’s triplets!’

The problems had begun after that. It had always irritated Mark, and he never helped her when her belly grew as each month passed. He refused to go to any appointments after that first one. Aria had to lock her pain and heartbreak away to a dark corner of her heart. She never spoke about it.

Her pregnancy only lasted thirty-three weeks. Her babies were ready to join the world of the living! Aria couldn’t contain her happiness! Mark had even shockingly wanted to join her in the hospital for the delivery.

Her pain became excruciating once the labour started. The pain was so consistent and continuous she had passed out soon after her water broke. When she had regained consciousness, the doctor had a look of regret on his face, and she immediately expected bad news. ‘Please…’ She began to cry, and the doctor looked away from her, unable to face her. ‘Please!’ she screamed. ‘Are my babies okay?’ The doctor refused to meet her gaze but said clearly, ‘I’m sorry. Only one of your children survived from the three.’ She forced herself not to pass out from the news. Only one of her babies had survived? She wanted to still see them! She wanted to kiss them and love them and show them how much she wanted them and raise them… ‘Where are my babies, please! I want to at least bury them. I want to say goodbye to them!’ The doctor looked even more uncomfortable as she said that. ‘I’m really sorry, madam. Your husband has already taken care of the funeral services with the hospital.’

The surgeon had left her then, and she saw her remaining son in a bassinet basket beside her bed.

Sobbing, Aria clutched him in her arms and vowed to protect him for the rest of her life.

Aria was wailing. Her cries echoed in the almost vacant corridor she was in. The boy she had thought was Giovanni had hovered down to her level, holding a hand to her shoulder. He was saying something, but she couldn’t comprehend it.

The boy helped her to sit against the wall, and both he and the girl crouched down next to her. The girl was patting her head as if she were a child and the girl the adult. It almost made her sob again.

‘I’m sorry if this is an invasive question.’ Aria spoke quietly now, her voice shuddering and lip trembling. ‘But do you know when your birthday is? And were you adopted?’

The boy paled, and the girl stopped patting her head.

‘Not that this is a concern of yours, but yes, we are adopted.’

‘We?’ Aria asked, her voice raising an octave. She realised they hadn’t answered her about their age. ‘Let me ask you this instead.’

She changed her tactic, staring at them so seriously, they both focused on her like laser beams. ‘Are you twins? And is your birthday May 1st, 2007?’

The children in front of her fell back as if punched. What little colour they had left drained from their face.

‘How do you know that?’ the girl asked, standing up and clutching the wall of the corridor like Aria had. Her brother joined her, staring suspiciously at Aria. He hovered in front of his sister protectively, shielding her completely from view.

Aria laughed giddily, feeling half crazed. It was a hollow sound, mixed with both joy and sorrow.

‘I know this,’ Aria said, clutching at her chest, ‘because I gave birth to you. I’m your mother.’

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