5 - Daytime on the Nocturne
“Are you coming to bed?” Lorcan asked, fighting a yawn.
“Yes, I’ve just got to finish up out here first.” Grace answered, picking up a length of rope to finish up after sunrise.
“Don’t be too late.” Lorcan told her, kissing her cheek and heading inside. Grace smiled and watched him go before she finished up. She was tired, it had been a long night after the meeting at Pirate Academy.
As she had finished and was walking towards the cabin she shared with Lorcan, she heard the captain’s voice from down the hall.
“Grace, could I speak to you please?” He asked politely, but leaving no room for her to make a mistake, this request was in fact an order.
“Of course, captain.” Grace answered, walking towards him. He held open the door to his cabin for her as she entered. She saw the familiar sight of the table full of maps and globes and lamps.
“Tea?” He asked, holding a cup up to her. She saw that it was empty, and the kettle was on the floor next to the table.
“No thanks, captain.” She answered, shaking her head politely.
“As you wish.” He said, taking a seat by the fire and gesturing for her to do the same. He remained silent as he poured himself a cup of tea and set it on the table to cool.
“Captain, not that I mind your company, but Lorcan’s waiting for me in our cabin, and I don’t want to keep him waiting if I can help it.” Grace said awkwardly.
“Of course.” The captain nodded.
“So, what did you want to see me about?” Grace asked.
“You knew about Connor’s being alive.” The captain stated. Grace sighed.
“I did.” She answered, waiting for the captain to speak again.
“Why did you not say anything? The two of you fooled even Mosh Zu and myself. Why would you keep such a thing to yourself?” The captain continued.
“I had to. It wasn’t my secret to share. If there’s one thing Connor and I had learned from our lives in Crescent Moon Bay it was how to keep each other’s secrets.” Grace sighed, accepting the captain’s offering of tea. Even though she had declined his original offer, he’d known she would want a cup anyway.
“And that’s all very well, but this was not a simple secret like those you kept as children. This was literally a life or death secret.” The captain said sternly.
“You say this as if secrets is a new concept to you; as if you hadn’t kept many life or death secrets from Connor and I in the first place. I’d have thought you’d have been proud, Captain, that we were able to keep a secret so large from you, after all those years.” Grace said, she hadn’t meant her words to be harsh, but she knew the moment they were out that she should not have said them, and regretted them instantly, especially as the captain made his reply.
“It’s true, I did keep secrets from you and Connor, but I had good reason, and thus far I have not seen an appropriate reason why you would keep the secret of Connor’s life.” The captain answered.
“Would you have wanted to look for him?” Grace asked.
“Of course.” The captain answered simply.
“There is your reason. If he had even said ‘hello’ to you, or anyone that he knew, including me, he would not have completed the expulsion of his dhampir gene, and you know as well as I did that he wanted nothing more than to stop being a dhampir.” Grace said, letting a bit of a temper slip into her voice.
“And if you’d explained this you know I would have resented and I would not have gone looking for Connor. Besides you heard him tonight, he was out of my quadrant, I would not have been permitted.” The captain answered calmingly.
“That’s beside the point. If I’d told you, you’d have told the Pirate Federation and even if you could have convinced all the other ships not to go looking for him, there is still one ship who would have. No matter what.” Grace told him, taking a sip of her tea.
“The Tiger.” The captain nodded.
“We’d have had to restrain Jasmine to stop her looking for him, and then we’d have had Jacoby to deal with, and he’d have been a whole separate issue.” Grace continued.
“True.” The captain nodded again, allowing Grace time to explain everything.
“And Connor, if he’d found out that I’d told anyone he may not have wanted to come back. He’d had it planned out since it first happened. His being made captain, and finding a fiancé changed his plans slightly, but he did more or less exactly what he’d told me he would. If I’d told anyone he’d not have had the leverage he needed to bridge the gap that had grown between him and the rest. He’d not have been able to make the demands he did so easily with so much support. He’d have been met with more hatred than we had towards Sidorio. He could not have handled it. He’d have disappeared again, for good this time. And even I wouldn’t have been able to find him. The longer he was away the less I could sense him, and I believe that the only reason I kept as much a hold on him as I still have is because we’re flesh and blood, but I couldn’t risk losing him for good. You’ve no idea the hours of sleep I lost debating whether or not I should tell anyone. You’ve no idea the pain it caused me not to. But it was either everyone else, or my family. And I’d already lost my parents; I was not going to give up Connor.” Grace finished slightly out of breath, but she felt as though a huge weight had just been lifted off her chest. The room was silent for a time and she took the opportunity to contemplate how good it felt to finally tell someone everything she had been keeping for the last seven years.Finally, after quite a few minutes had passed, the captain said, “I hadn’t realized the risks involved.” And finished his tea.
“What took you so long?” Lorcan asked drowsily when Grace finally returned to their cabin almost an hour later.
“The captain wanted to speak to me.” Grace answered. She saw that Connor was asleep on her’s and Lorcan’s bed with a book by his side.
“What about?” Lorcan asked, pushing his long hair out of his face.
“My knowing about Connor’s being alive.” Grace answered.
“I see.” Lorcan said, trying to shake himself out of the drowsiness.
“But it doesn’t matter. We spoke about it and he doesn’t mind. He understands.” Grace said, closing Connor’s book and picking him up gingerly.
“Grace.” Lorcan said as she returned from her son’s room.
“Yes?” Grace asked, starting to clean the cabin. She hated to see it messy.
“I wanted to marry you seven years ago.” He said, coming behind her and stopping her hands and turning her to face him.
“I wanted to marry you long before that.” Grace answered. Lorcan could see now how tired she was, but he was determined to speak this through.
“I want to marry you soon. As soon as we possibly can be wed.” Lorcan told her.
“I leave in two days’ time for Sanctuary,” Grace told him.
“Then we shall be wed in one day’s time.” Lorcan answered.
“We have Connor to worry about; both of them. And I don’t want to get married and have to leave the next day; I want a proper honeymoon.” Grace said.
“Then when? When would you agree to a wedding? In another three months’ time?” Lorcan asked, walking away from her.
“We’ve waited seven years, we can wait a few more months.” Grace answered.
“Why? I love you. I’ve loved you for twenty-one years now. Why won’t you let me marry you?” Lorcan pleaded.
“See that’s the creepy part. I still don’t know all that much about your past, and you knew my mother before even my father was in the picture.” Grace countered, opening a drawer.
“I’ve told you everything you’ve asked.” Lorcan answered.
“How did you die and who turned you?” Grace asked, pulling a fake bottom out of the drawer and hiding the book – the Way of the Dhampir – inside. Lorcan sighed heavily.
“Not that.” Lorcan answered.
“I love you Lorcan, but that’s a huge part of your past. And you won’t let me in. Until you do it’s going to be very hard to marry you.” Grace replaced the fake bottom over the book and continued cleaning. This had been an argument they’d had many times before, and it was one of the only reasons that Grace had been able to put the wedding off for so long.
“That part is not a part of my past I ever want to speak of. Those were bad times, Grace, very bad times.” Lorcan told her. He averted his eyes and hid his face from hers.
“I thought you could tell me anything.” Grace whispered. She should have felt hurt, but she was so used to this answer that it did not phase her now.
“I can, Grace! You know I can!” Lorcan turned back towards her with a shocked expression.
“Then why not this?” She asked.
“I don’t want to tell you simply so you can have another story in your diary. I don’t want something so wrong to be written down.” Lorcan answered.
“Then I will not write it down! I love you Lorcan! Do you really understand that? I love you with every part of me, but I don’t want to marry you if you won’t share with me one of the most important pieces of yourself. If you want me not to keep a record of it I won’t, but please Lorcan! Tell me what happened! Tell me why you are even less willing to tell me now than you were when we met.” Grace whispered. This was the first time she had voiced her feelings that he was more hesitant to tell her about his past than he had been, and she had been wondering for years.
“It matters not how I died; it was a cold winter in Ireland, and we had not the means to get through it. But how I turned—” He faded off and his eyes went stony, as if he had just been hit over the head with a hard object. “It was a woman. The funeral had not even finished yet. She did not care for my mother or my sister – only me. I had been a sailor for years, so the funeral was at sea. She ripped the top off my coffin and turned me, and then threw me and my coffin back into the ocean. I doubt she expected me to survive the change. I know only that it was a woman because of the lock of hair I found myself holding when I awoke at the bottom of the ocean. The sea currents had brought me to the Southern quadrant, and I awoke with a terrible blood lust. I swam for three days and three nights before I found land. I knew not where I was, only that I needed sustenance. The first town I stumbled into I massacred. That was the first and last time I killed for bloodlust. The last person I attacked was a child – no more than twelve years of age. She was a beautiful child. I walked towards her, having just murdered her parents, guardian, and younger brother. She had bright green eyes and dark brown hair – much like yours, Grace – and she was crying. Her skin was pale and her lips were red. Her cheeks were stained with tears that continued to flow like a waterfall from her eyes, yet she made no sound.
“She was sitting curled in a ball in one corner of the large room, and her eyes were shining in the moonlight. I wanted to kill her. I could hear the beating of her heart, feel it. I could smell how delicious she would taste through the cut on her hand. I could almost taste it. It was enough to make my mouth water. No one would be able to stop me, for no one was left alive in the town. I grabbed her shoulders and lifted her to her feet and she stopped crying. She wiped her eyes and held her chin high. She did not speak English – she spoke Tuvaluan. She looked me in the eyes and said, in her language, ‘even if you kill me, I will die happy.’ And I hesitated.” Lorcan paused.
“What happened next?” Grace asked. She had sat him on the bed and was sitting next to him. She could see how much of a struggle it was for him to tell his story.
“I lifted her bleeding hand and licked the blood. I continued until it bled no more. And then I left. I turned and walked away. I left the house, and heard her sigh with relief. When I had closed the front door, I set it on fire. I waited outside the house and heard her screams. That was the deciding moment of my entire existence. I knew that I could either continue massacring villages like that one, or I could change. Needless to say I chose the latter. It took many weeks. I had taken so much blood in one night that I did not want to stop when Mosh Zu found me. I fought back. I’d make it without a taste for a week, and then go after one of the donors. I was delirious for most of the process. Eventually the captain came to visit me. He told me that the donors were afraid of me and that Mosh Zu did not want me at Sanctuary if I could not control myself. So the captain told me to come with him. He was the one who helped me change. He did not even invite me to a feast until he saw the fire of hunger leave my eyes and I did not fight to feed.” He paused again, and Grace could sense that his tense muscles were loosening slightly as his story progressed.
“And how long did that take?” Grace asked softly.
“Three months. I was starving, but I refused to feed. The captain brought me back to Sanctuary and Mosh Zu helped me through the rest.” Lorcan finished and took a deep breath. He’d never told his story to anyone before, he hadn’t even talked about it with the captain or Mosh Zu, who had both been there.
“The girl,” Grace hesitated and continued, “You said she looked like me?” Grace took a breath.
“Yes. And the woman who turned me, I never noticed before, I never knew who it was, her hair, the lock, it resembles Lady Lola’s a lot. I never noticed, but I kept the lock of hair for years, and I only discarded it in the hall of discards when I took you to Mosh Zu for the first time when you dropped bathing Connor.” Lorcan told her, putting his hand on her upper thigh. Grace stood up and stopped breathing for a minute.
“You- You kept the lock of hair?” Grace couldn’t remember how to breathe. She was so shell-shocked she could hardly think. “And you- She looked like me- and you burned her house down?” Grace walked across the cabin and held onto the vanity. She turned her head toward the porthole and saw that it was well past noon. She knew that she would have to leave at nightfall for Sanctuary.
“Grace, you’re the one who wanted to know.” Lorcan said, coming up behind her and trying to soothe her. She took a deep breath and tried to collect her thoughts.
“How sure are you that it was Lola’s hair?” Grace asked.
“Fairly certain,” Lorcan said, and upon seeing Grace’s face added, “But it doesn’t mean anything! Nothing changes!”
“Everything changes. You’re raising the son of the woman who turned you into a vampire, who married the biological father of your fiancé.” Grace paused and turned to face her fiancé. “Lola will want her child back, it’s only a matter of time. And she thought that Connor was dead, but once she finds out he isn’t – and she will find out – she will want her son back and she will come to find him. And when she sees you, she will remember. That isn’t something someone forgets easily. It’s like giving birth, or watching your father die, or your brother, or the first time you take a life. You never forget that and you never forget the face of the person. Never.”
“Grace-” Lorcan tried to think of something to say, but coming up short.
“We should get some sleep. There’s a busy night tonight and I leave at nightfall.” Grace told him, changing finally from her crew clothes to her night dress.
“I thought you had two days.” Lorcan said, more than a little confused.
“It will take a day to get there and I want to spend some time with Connor before I do. And I want Connor to spend some time with his nephew.” Grace answered.
“So, you’re planning to take Connor with you?” Lorcan asked.
“I don’t know, but Connor’s timing was impeccable, and I wanted them to spend some time together.” Grace answered. She went to the adjoining bathroom to brush her teeth.
“Would you be taking Connor on to Sanctuary with you? Or would you be leaving him with your brother?” Lorcan asked.
Grace took a minute to finish brushing her teeth before answering, “I don’t know, I trust my brother, but I don’t know how much he’s changed in seven years, and I don’t know what his crew or fiancé are like. And I don’t really want to take Connor to Sanctuary with me, because I’ll be leaving him alone a lot, and I really don’t want to have to do that.”
“Grace, what’s really wrong?” Lorcan asked, grabbing her elbows as she walked by him again.
“I don’t like it one bit. The fact that Lola may have been the one who turned you into a vampire. I don’t like it; and the fact that she has no doubt been biding her time for seven years, trying to find out exactly what happened to her son, scares me more so. What if she finds out that we have him and she comes for him, and decides she wants to take you back too?” Grace answered. She paused and took a deep breath, trying to think clearly. “She will recognize you, and she will know immediately that our son is, in reality, hers. Then she will try to take one or both of you, out of spite for me, because I did not want the life she offered me.” Grace finished. Something dawned on Lorcan and he let go of her and took a small step back.
“Grace, how is it that you would know that one would remember something like that? You’ve never turned anyone, or killed anyone, or anything of the sort. How would you know how unforgettable it was?” Lorcan asked, slightly put-off.
“I watched my father die, Lorcan. I watched friends – both mine and my brother’s – die in battle for something that was far beyond them at the time. I have healed hundreds of the most horrifying injuries imaginable. And yes, I have killed. Maybe not in battle – for there was always someone to do that in my stead – but I have killed. I remember every single detail of it. As did Connor the first time he killed. And I remember Lola’s face when I held her child – my child – for the first time as she realized he had been stolen. These are not things easily forgotten. These are the things that can and will never be forgotten.” Grace answered. She got into bed and turned off the light.
As Lorcan climbed into bed after her he contemplated this. When had his fiancé taken a life? Why had she not told him about it before now? What had happened to force her to kill? Had she killed a human, or sent a vampire to oblivion? The questions would not stop and he found himself confused, tired and worried.
As he was about to fall asleep he realized that there was one issue that they had not settled, that absolutely could not wait.
“Grace,” Lorcan said quietly.
“Yes?” She answered, sounding drowsy.
“Will you be taking Connor after all?” Lorcan asked. There was silence for a minute and he suspected that Grace was un-willing to answer, so he added, “I think you should. He’s never been off the ship apart from last night, and it could be good for him to spend time with his uncle, and learn what it is you do three months a year.”
“Then yes. I think I will.” Grace answered. Lorcan closed his eyes again and then felt his fiancé’s hand across his chest.He realized that this would be the first time in seven years that he would not have his son at all times by his side.