In Dreaming Reality

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Claim or be claimed?

I sat pouting in my room, trying to come up with ideas of how to get Vincent and I out of here. There was always the option of bribing Prince Charles who seemed to have taken over command of my father’s kingdom since the last time I had been here-- but what to bribe him with? Me? He did want me-- I had seen it on his face-- but even if I bribed him, did Charles even know how to get through the veil between this alternate reality and the over to get Vincent back to where he belonged? I’d already tried the obvious way of getting out of here… pulling on the door-- but it was locked. I mean I guess I could tie bed sheets together and leap into the courtyard below, but then it was a matter of be being on the outside of the castle and Vincent locked in the dungeons below-- and I wasn’t leaving without him.

A part of me thought… this is what Topher wanted, he wanted me-- and now it seemed his doppelganger Charles might end up with me-- so in the end I don’t get what I want but forced into the life someone else had chosen for me. Hell or Fairy-tale Realm… not much of a choice. I’d pick being pampered over ever seeing Topher again-- even if it meant I had to send away the person I wanted to be with most, Vincent. After lying on the bed staring at the canopied ceiling for what felt like forever I pushed myself off the bed and paced -- which got out some of my pent up irritation, but it also made me realize how small the room was starting to feel now that I couldn’t leave. I paused before the mirror staring at the reflection of a girl I didn’t even recognize. There were thoughts in the violet eyes that hadn’t been there before-- a smirk on my lips that I couldn’t quite remember acquiring and in my heart a heat that was bend on destroying anyone in my way. I wasn’t a princess-- I was a warrior… who might like a little pampering now and then.

There were questions in my head that screamed at me. Why was Charles calling the shots in my father’s kingdom? Where were my biological parents, the King and Queen? Why did Vincent end up coming here with me at all? None of this should be possible. Would Charles take the bribe-- me? Why I always end up in the Fairlands at the worst possible time?

Emotionally drained, I walked to the window and fell onto the window seat. If everything here was a parallel of my real life in the alternate universe, did I have a sister here too? And if I did-- why hadn’t I met her yet? I closed my eyes, leaning my head against the cool window pane. Below I could hear the knights parrying back and forth-- swords clashing as they practiced under the hot sun-- and every time their swords clashed I thought of Vincent stowed in the prison below and a reminder that I was a prisoner in what was supposed to be my own home.

“Princess Genevieve…” I whispered to the empty room. I sat at the window for an hour before realizing that I was still in the stupid red dress-- or what was left of it. Standing I made my way to the wardrobe-- and tried to pick something simple to wear, which was tricky, since I had to lace the stupid corset myself and button up a row of buttons, all in the back… And if that wasn’t bad enough I had to fix my hair without the aid of a curling iron or straightener… I hadn’t realized how helpful those annoying maids or even Nanny had been in assisting with this process. When I was finally appropriately dressed for this strange annoying world, I stared at my reflection in the mirror again, and yet again I didn’t even recognize the girl staring back at me. I’d pulled my brown hair back into a loose French Braid leaving my crown tattoo visible for the first time in ages. My skin looked paler than usual against the dark green dress I had chosen to put on; might have something to do with the fact that I had experienced a major blood loss the night before but that wasn’t what looked the most changed about me -- it the way I held myself. I had never had the confidence that Claire had exuded, it had always been beyond my reach-- and yet now, I saw it in me. I stood straighter-- looked more determined than ever-- like a warrior dressed in a princess dress. Was it all part of a dream, my dream? And if this was a dream, and yet I belonged here-- was I even real? Alive? I was after all part of this Fae world… was I even human?

“I’m not human.” My heart thudded in my chest, and I wanted to cry. I had never admitted this to myself, not even when I had confirmed that the King and Queen of this realm were my birth parents. It felt strange and yet right to finally say it out loud. “Topher is whatever he and Mark is or are, and Vincent, Marissa, Sebastian and Kiera are all Vampires… they’re not human.” It hurt my brain. “My life is a lie.”

I was still standing there when a knock sounded at the door.

“Come in.” I made my lips move as my voice came out in a small squeak.

The door swung inward and Charles entered, he stared at me and I him through the reflection in the mirror.

“So.” His voice broke the silence.

“So.” I replied.

“It seems you discovered the secret I was trying to explain to you when we last met.” Charles stepped towards me.

“I did.”

“And yet--” Charles took another step towards me. “I find you here with one of the demon spawn.”

“So it would seem.”

“My dear princess; I must admit I am a little overwhelmed and out of my depth where you are concerned.”

He was standing just behind me. I could feel his body heat-- close enough to reach out, but he didn’t.

“I am afraid my dear prince--” What was I afraid of? “I do not understand why I return home to find you in command of my parents kingdom.”

“Ahh, it was given to me as a wedding present.”

My heart thudded in my chest.

“But we aren’t married.”

“Everything can be set up as easily as before. Do not worry my love-- your timing is as always impeccable-- I have already given the order, preparations are already underway.”

There were no words in my mind, in my mouth, in my heart that could express how I was feeling.

“You still want me as your wife?”

“But of course! You and I have been fated-- since time began!” He raised his hand to put it on my shoulder-- but quickly redrew it. “I have sent your parents to stay with my own. This front-- this land, our land-- has faced the worst of it. And the veil between worlds is shredding. It must be stopped. Too many have come through.”

“They are coming through?”

“Yes.”

I shivered, so Vampires were here in the Fairlands… perhaps that was how Vincent ended up here with me. The veil was falling apart-- but why? Why now?

“Charles.”

“Yes my love?”

“If I marry you-- will you let Vincent go back to the other world?”

Charles laughed.

“And why would I do that?”

“Because I am choosing you!”

“There is no choice. You are mine.” He paused. “And besides-- I don’t know how to send him back there-- but I do know how to get rid of him.”

I felt my temperature drop. He was planning on killing him. I should have known this whole time.

“If we can not evade the darkness do not fear-- we will begin my backup plan.”

“And what is that, dare I ask?”

“When the veil is at its thinnest-- during the summer solstice-- we will begin the mass exodus to your world and begin anew. We will survive.”

“What?” I spun to face Charles. “You can’t be serious! You mean to empty all the Fairlands into my world? They would be overrun!”

Charles grasped my shoulders, and pulled me towards himself-- our faces were inches apart.

“It is not your world my love. This-- this is your world; and I will do anything to save it.” He pulled me in close and pressed his lips against mine. “And tonight-- you shall become my wife.” Charles released me and I stepped as far away from him as the room would allow.

“How can you be so callous? Don’t you see that I don’t love you?”

“Love grows. It may not always be present in the beginning, but you will come to love me, as I still love you.” Charles turned to walk out of the room. “When Nanny returns she will ready you for the ceremony my bride.”

Life sprung back into my shocked limbs, I scanned the room with my eyes, looking for anything that would help me get out of here. I spotted a book on the window ledge-- without thinking I grabbed it and ran up behind Charles as he put his hand on the knob and slammed it down hard over his head. He stood still for a moment then crumpled down in a heap on the floor.

“Sorry, not sorry.” I shouted over his unconscious body.

I dragged Charles across the floor and rolled him under my bed. Hopefully he would be out for a while-- at least long enough for me to see Vincent-- after that… I had no plan. I walked over to the door shaking. Charles must have had some sort of signal to communicate with the Knights outside my door for when he would be done talking to me-- but what? Every moment I was trapped in this room was another minute that I wasn’t where I wanted to be or in the right world...I thought for a moment, what if Charles hadn’t been very smart, and just told them he would knock? I mean it wasn’t as if he was assuming I would try to get away from him-- he probably thought I would crumble like a weak thing and accept my fate-- well this Princess had other ideas.

The warrior in me was almost giddy with glee as I knocked on the door and it swung open. It was the victory in the small things. I didn’t have much time-- no telling how long Charles would remain unconscious. I curtsied and smiled at the knights on guard then quickly walked out of my room. I’m sure that beneath the suit of armour the knights at my door were probably shocked, but they stood there for a moment staring into my room before running in.

“Find the Prince!”

Once they had gone into my room, I pulled the door shut and locked them in-- pulling the key out of the door and grasping it in my hand I ran down the curved stairs with no one watching me-- unless you counted the firelight coming from the wall sconce lamps. I ran down into the front foyer-- completely out of breath. If only I could run like Vincent-- then I wouldn’t be so tired. I looked around, it felt too empty. Charles seemed to have dismissed all the courtiers and most of the servants-- even though I didn’t belong here, my heart felt a twinge of sadness that this castle felt so dead comparatively to when I had been here last time. I grasped my sides and tried to slow my breathing. There were two huge doors in this room-- one to the throne room, the other to the courtyard… I looked around again-- there had to be a way to the dungeon somewhere in this room. As my eyes desperately scanned the hall I saw something that seemed a little odd-- the mirror on one of the walls was crooked. I walked over to it and noticed that there was a breeze coming from below-- could it be? My fingers barely fit in the crevice between the wall and the mirror-- but I hooked my fingers in the small space and pulled towards myself, and it swung open, revealing a passageway into a dark corridor. I hated the darkness-- but I was willing to risk it if it meant finding Vincent. I took a deep breath and ran into the darkness.

Behind me I heard knights shouting. I was running out of time. At the bottom of the stairs there was a door-- it was now or never. I pushed it open and horrible smells reached my nose. I gagged-- not sure if I could actually do this-- there was the sound of feet in the passageway. Pushing my legs forward I went into the Dungeon. It was lighter here than the passageway-- there were lamps on the left wall, and cells on the right. I didn’t know which way to go.

Listen my little bird.”

I closed my eyes and heard from the hall on the right murmurs of what could be a conversation. I prayed I was right then again took off-- as the dungeon door flew open and the hall began to fill with knights.

“Capture the Princess! Do not harm her! Then find the Prince!”

So they hadn’t found where I had stashed Charles! It didn’t matter… soon he would be conscious and come after me. I came skidding to a stop when I found two knights blocking my path with their swords drawn-- and there were so many running down the hall behind me. I had to do something, and I had to do it now.

“No one must pass through here Princess.” Came a muffled voice from beneath the suit of armour.

There was nothing I could do. Why had I come? I should just have just accepted me fate… and that Vincent was going to die. Tears fell down my face-- unbidden and frustrating-- nope I really did look like a weak princess..

“Can’t I just say goodbye?”

The two knights looked at one another, and I think they shrugged, it was hard to tell with all that armour, they sheathed their swords and stepped aside. The rest of the knights chasing me had caught up.

“Halt Princess!”

I looked over my shoulder, the group of knights blurry from beneath my tears.

“Hey-- let the girl say goodbye. Then you can take her back to her room.”

The dungeon hall went silent-- knights standing at attention, but none moved to stop me. I inched my way past the two knights in front of me. I scanned the cells desperate to see Vincent.

“Little bird?”

A chill went down my spine. I ran to the fourth cell beyond the guards, and peered in. Vincent was lying on the ground, topless covered in gashes where he must have been whipped. I dropped to my knees and wept.

“Why-- Vincent? Why didn’t you fight back?”

“Couldn’t. Now with you trapped somewhere…”

“Vincent, I don’t know what to do.”

Vincent crawled to the cell bars and took my hand. I had never imagined that I would ever see him this weak.

“Hush, hush...It’s okay.”

“Why are you still bleeding? I thought you healed faster.”

“I need to feed. It seems that in this strange place I have less powers and what normally passes for a week is gone in a few hours.”

No wonder Prince Charles’s was so concerned with getting rid of the Vampires from the Fairlands-- if they needed to feed every few hours-- people would disappear so quickly. I suddenly understood his rage.

“What are we going to do?”

“Do you trust me?”

I nodded.

“You need to wake up-- please little bird.” Vincent pulled himself to his knees and took my hands. “Remember what you told me? This place-- it’s linked to your dreams.”

“But Vincent… I wasn’t dreaming.. I mean I’m not dreaming.”

“Come closer.”

I leaned in, Vincent’s face was so close to mine.

“I believe you about everything.”

“MOVE!” My heart jumped. Charles was coming, and he sounded so angry.

I started to turn my face away-- to see how close Charles was to us. Vincent cupped my face with his hands.

“Don’t look.” I stared into Vincent’s eyes-- they were widening and narrowing. I shivered.

“Don’t be afraid.” I told him. I would rather die here than marry Prince Charles.

Vincent turned my face and put his lips on my neck. I squeezed my eyes shut and nothing happened, nothing other than the world going dark. I opened my eyes to my shock I was on my bed kneeling next to Vincent.

“What--What? What the heck?” I shouted.

I jumped off my bed and rand to the window-- it was dark outside still but I was definitely back in my world-- there were no knights, just trees and grass and a perfect starry night sky.

“Told you, you were dreaming.” Vincent stood and joined me at the window, wrapping his cold arms around me.

I wanted to kiss him then-- but to my horror my door flew open--

“Gen? You okay?”

Light spilled into my room. Vincent flew into the shadows of my room, as Anna walked in.

“Um yeah-- I’m fine.”

“Really-- you were screaming bloody murder.”

“Oh yeah-- I mean I’m fine now. I had a really bad dream.”

Anna yawned. I stared at her in the darkness-- she looked so pale. I wondered if she would ever look healthy again. She nodded.

“Go back to sleep Anna.”

“See you in the morning?”

“Maybe.” I whispered. Anna made her way out of my room, shutting me back in the darkness, only this time I wasn’t afraid-- I wasn’t alone.

“Vincent?”

Vincent stepped out of the shadow, and came to stand beside me.

“I should go.” There was a worried look on Vincent’s face. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Sleepy well, my little bird.” He kissed the top of my head then disappeared out my window.

I made my way back to my bed and lay there for a few minutes my heart pounding in my chest. Now that Vincent had left I was afraid to shut my eyes, afraid of where it might take me and that I wouldn’t be able to get back; but my eyelids became heavier and heavier and I felt sleep taking over my body- so I ceased resisting and gave in to unconsciousness, but I did not dream again that night.

I was amazed at my capacity to accept all these bizarre things in my world and before I knew it weeks slipped by. Days blurred in happy colours-- in a routine I actually enjoyed unlike my routine in the first half of the year. I was free-- for the most part to live as I wished. I was a free bird-- and I did fly; in Vincent’s arms.

Vincent and I spent all our free time together. My parents hadn’t met him-- but that was kind of on purpose. While I saw the softer sides of Vincent; I knew that all my parents would see was the goth looking, leather clad, biker that he appeared to be. I knew that Mike and Angela would not be receptive to the idea of me and Vincent being an item. Luckily for me, Angela’s baking business had taken off the ground and now she had a rented space in which she was working and staff! Mike was away a lot working on some legal case in New York and Anna? Anna was never around-- and while I was concerned; I was still pissed at her for so many reasons.

Vincent and I avoided most public places-- I never told him how terrified of Topher I was. I hadn’t dreamed of hell in a while but I knew it was something I would eventually have to deal with. The seer’s words echoed in my mind-- Vincent was my saviour and slaughterer. That I needed to die to break the curse or the mark? I missed Plumanara, but Nameless had started to grow on me. At Nameless there was safety in the shadows-- and I could still dance. It didn’t feel safe, but outside of the realm of Topher’s reach.

Discovering Topher and Mark were from a prominent family of The Fallen, who are the Guard--was interesting. It felt like all the pieces of the puzzle was falling together, though what the mark was-- Vincent had not explained, but seemed to skirt the issue of. Vincent did tell me they used to be the Royal Guard of the Purebloods, but then there was a war-- the Purebloods had won this war and severely punished The Fallen for their rebellion by making them Protectors and splitting them up. There had to be one Protector in every town and city to keep peace. Fallen can make themselves invisible if they want but since I am a Fae, I can still see them even if they are trying to hide. For now I am going to count that as a plus-- since that means Topher can’t sneak up on me. Then Vincent told me they read by way of pictographs-- the ancient language of the Pharaohs-- perhaps one of the most ancient languages of all times. The Fallen not only read this way-- they mark their bodies with the symbols to give them extra strength, speed and healing abilities. This was what I had seen all those nights ago in the alley behind Plumanra. The more marks a Fallen bore, the older that meant they were.

Creepity--creep. It made me think though-- did Vampires do the same thing? They all had a tattoos of some sort. When I asked though, Vincent just laughed. All Pureblood Vampires are born with tattoos-- and sometimes a mixed blood would have one too, dependant on how diluted their bloodline had become. It was weird. I knew it could happen though-- I mean I had apparently been born with a crown tattoo behind my ear… If I saw the tattoos clearly and they weren’t moving-- then it was because it was a tat that the Vampire had actually gone and gotten done at a tattoo parlour. Well that was good to know.

Topher had been the guard at the school for a long time apparently, and hadn’t even planned on coming back last fall only--

“He met you.”

It made me shiver slightly… how long was a long time? When I asked Vincent he laughed.

“One thing you will find in my world; everyone stops aging at the end of their teen years, and that is where they stay for the rest of their days.”

I asked if Fallen are also immortal, apparently they aren’t. Only Vampires were immortal, but The Fallen, Werewolves and Witches lived exceptionally long lives. The Fallen live the longest-- mainly because they are direct descendants of fallen angels, hence their name, The Fallen. That last bit still freaks me out-- but it makes perfect sense. Topher had wanted to be good--but he was and could only be capable of evil. I saw the hell from my nightmare and I knew that it was true. Anna was going out with Mark-- what did that mean for her? Did I tell her? Should I tell her? She probably wouldn’t believe me, I barely believed me these days.

At Acroft I was admired and feared. I think. I mean I hope. I was an oddity-- as was Vincent. People would stare at us as we walked by. I say ‘people’ lightly, because I found out from Vincent that most of the students at Acroft High were actually Vampires, Witches, or Warlocks. There was the occasional Shape Shifter student, one or two Fallen, and then and only then the rest were normal human children, but we were the minority. Parents of these supernatural beings would generally keep their kids at home with tutors to train them how to keep their secrets and how to live until they were thirteen-- and for the most part able to control their non-human impulses. Acroft was one of thirteen schools in the world that helped introduce these supernatural creatures to regular ‘human’ life; which was why they did accept human students at all. Everything that Marissa had told me about Acroft last August finally made sense. The whole operation was a cover-- a very convincing creepy cover.

My classes went well, and thanks to some extra studying with Vincent on how courses were structured and why certain topics were laid out in the manners they were, my grades soared. I finally understood why I was taking Socials a History of Mankind, it made sense, especially since everyone in my class was a Vampire, and my professor-- Mr. Flimheart was a shape shifter. It was weird to think of Mr. Flimheart as a non-human, but it did explain his eyes and why they looked so different-- like two green marbles.

Kiera still didn’t talk to me; which made me sad. I did like her, and I did want to be her friend. In fact she eventually switched to Dr. Gristman’s night class-- which I thought was going a bit far to avoid me, and apparently quite dangerous for her too since all the other night class students were Pureblood Vampires and they hated mixed bloods which is what Kiera and Seb were. Mina and Lexi talked to me whenever Vincent wasn’t around, which was nice but wasn’t often, and they were my only other female friends. The Flagstone boys--were Violet’s brothers which was crazy to me; they all avoided me-- and gave Vincent the oddest looks like the couldn’t handle seeing him with me. Marissa texted me quite often but still wouldn’t talk to me in person. I think she was finally coming around to the fact that I was no longer with Topher and was with her brother. I hoped that we could be friends the way we used to. I missed her and Sebastian’s company.

Outside of school and us hanging out I had no idea how Vincent was actually doing-- since his father had put a price on Vincent’s head. So far we hadn’t run into any issues there, but it was inevitable. Vincent had moved out of the house-- gotten an apartment in some obscure part of town, and was avoiding his coven, his family. The future was really uncertain; but I took that in stride and decided to make the most of each minute that we had. Vincent spent most of his time at my house-- I was terrified for him, that each time I saw home might be the last. Every day after school I would try to make him stay at my house for as long as possible, since I knew for a fact he would be safe there since the only other member of his family invited into my house was Marissa; but he was so stubborn-- well, most of the time. I still didn’t know if he truly cared about me, or he just like sucking my blood and not having to find a new ‘donor’ every time. I on the other hand was completely addicted to him, everything about him made me tingle and smile and be alive. At the same time I was becoming more aware to the fact that if he did really love me or care about me he would eventually have to turn me… and I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that-- or if he would even want to have me at his side for all eternity-- if either of us made it through this alive.

One Friday night in May I was busy getting ready to hang out with Vincent; when I heard the doorbell. No one was home but me-- Vincent had left me at home a few hours ago to go ‘get a surprise’ ready. Normally when I had heard the doorbell or even someone knocking recently, I had jumped but I was feeling especially good right now, having just been fed on, and having that airy light feeling in my head. I heedlessly made my way downstairs in my newest bright blue dress and white high heels. I shook my head letting the few hanging curls bounce against my cheek. I grinned thinking stupidly that it was probably Vincent at the door and pulled it open-- which looking back made no sense. Vincent never used the front door--he usually jumped in my window or let himself in-- so instead of seeing Vincent, I saw Topher, he was frowning. All the fears that I had been ignoring flooded my body. I tried to slam the door in his face, but he pushed his way into the house, and then shut the door behind him.

I crossed my arms over my chest.

“What on earth do you want?” I growled at him, almost feeling vicious.

Topher looked me up and down his eyebrow twitching.

“Don’t you look nice tonight. Going somewhere?”

My eyes narrowed.

“Maybe.” I hissed. “But it isn’t any of your business.”

Topher took a threatening step towards me.

“Actually it is.”

I stepped backwards.

“I told the little stinker, that if he ever touched you again, he would pay. Why can’t you get it through your thick skull. You belong to me!” His eyes fluttered to my neck where I could almost feel the most recent bite marks in my neck burning under his stare. His frown deepened to a glare. “How dare he touch you.” He whispered. “You’re mine.”

I swallowed.

“I’m not yours Topher.”

“You don’t even get it do you? Either you come with me now of your own free will or I’ll take you by force. No more mister nice guy…”

“This was you being ‘nice’? Look, I know what I am doing Topher, it’s my life-- now please leave.”

Topher laughed darkly.

“The only way to escape me now is in death; you have no idea what you are doing, you never have, and if I can help it-- you never will.”

I was suddenly very afraid; I had never imagined Topher as a person who would intentionally hurt someone. Even when he had been my ‘boyfriend’ he had only and always been my protector. I cleared my throat. Where was Vincent? What was taking him so long...

“So are you going to kill me then, is this what it has come to?” I looked into his face and it changed in an instant from rage to sadness.

“I would never hurt you.” He whispered. “I will only and always protect you, which in this case might seem confusing to you, but I swear I only have your best interest at heart. You will see that once we are one.”

I shook my head.

“No Topher. No, you don’t. If you truly had my best interest at heart you would leave me alone, because I love Vincent.” Wow, I hadn’t meant to say that out loud.

Topher’s face darkened; and he strode over to me, and pulling me to him, he shook me, looking furious.

His muscles quivered, and his chest which I had always admired rippled under his shirt. Then there was a ripping sound, and out from behind him burst these huge black wings-- I mean they were huge, they were taller than Topher and really wide, and seemed to be covered in little black feathers.

“When will you ever learn to understand? You were made for me, and I will not let anyone else have you.” There was a jealous way to how he spoke, it worried me. Something Marissa said, something the seer had mentioned something important…

I was trembling. Topher let go of one of my arms and tore the remaining shreds of his shirt from his body. His chest was covered in the swirling pictograph tattoos and his skin had taken on an eerie glow.

“I am going to take you somewhere you will be safe; safe from-- HIM.” He spat. “And safe from yourself.” Cradling me in his arms Topher spun around and flung my front door open, then jumped and spread his wings in the dark night sky and flew. This sensation was stranger that’s feeling like I was flying in Vincent’s arms. I wanted to scream I wanted to yell, but I was in so much shock and had lost so much blood recently-- I passed out in his arms, the cool night wind flying over me, the reality of what Vincent had told me sinking in... They were fallen angels… Descendants of fallen angels? I shuddered, and hoped that Vincent was somewhere safe.

When I came to, Topher was walking his wings fluttering softly, I was still in his arms only I noticed he was walking through a graveyard, toward what looked like an abandoned Cathedral. I didn’t know what to think; but the harder I stared at the Cathedral I saw that it wasn’t abandoned after all, nor was it half as broken down as I had thought it looked from far away. Close up I could see statues of angels on either side of the huge double doors, and marble steps leading up to the doors. Topher jumped up the steps and pushed open the doors.

The Cathedral was empty and it looked like it needed to be repaired-- dust floated in the air and white sheets covered the wooden pews-- but the floor looked dusted and swept. Topher walked down the aisle toward where the pulpit should’ve been; but when we got closer I noticed that the wooden pulpit was moved off to one side and that Topher bent down and pressed on a tile which revealed a hidden passageway down into the dark. I was seriously not pumped. I had had my fill of dark creepy spaces underground. Topher descended down a flight of stairs the floor closing above us once we had gone down the stairs. The air felt close down here-- no ventilation-- and the smell of bare earth reached my nose. Claustrophobia closed in on me as I saw how narrow the passageways were; there were several people scuttling around, they all looked similar to Topher or Mark-- and I wondered if these were his family members. Topher and I walked by unnoticed, and soon we left the more crowded halls and rooms behind us. If I had been more coherent and come of my own accord and not dragged by a crazy son of a bitch; I might have commented on the marble floors or the stunning statues, but as it was I didn’t care-- I wished I was anywhere else but here. Did Vincent know where I was? Where was he? I should have never answered the damn door…

Leaving the main passageways we entered what looked like an ancient looking library where half the room had been converted into a study or laboratory. For a moment I thought that there was no one else in the room besides us, and I half meant to give Topher a piece of my mind once I could form words again, but that’s when I saw a man sitting on a tall over stuffed leather chair bent over a book.

“So you have returned.” The man said and straightened. His hair was deep brown his eyes hidden in the shadows, but from what I could see of his facial features I could see that he looked like Topher. I thought perhaps he was part of Topher’s family perhaps another of Topher’s brothers, he seemed to have a lot and I wasn’t really in the mood to meet--

“Father.” Topher said and inclined his head respectfully.

I gasped. Father? No! I had to get out of here; everything in me screamed ‘get away,’ but I was still encased in Topher’s arms. The man Topher called father stepped forward to look at me.

“What is it you wish, son?” The man intoned his hands folded behind his back.

Topher hesitated.

“Father… this is my scarlet woman.”

“Ahh, you have finally chosen a mate.”

Topher’s face contorted for the briefest of seconds.

“Good, good. I thought perhaps you might. You have become lonely since my beautiful Cassandra passed. Mark has chosen for himself as well…”

Cassandra? Cassandra Pirot? -- the girl who had gone missing? She was dead?

“Yes.”

“You do not need my permission.”

“That is not why I am here.”

“Then speak.”

“This girl-- my girl… she has become enamoured with another.”

“Ahhh-- you did not move fast enough--”

“No Father-- he is a Vampire.”

The man’s face darkened.

“They know better to involve themselves in the matters of The Fallen. Who is it?”

“Vincent Steinheart.”

“A Pureblood?”

“Yes.”

“And what do you wish me to do?”

“I want you to wipe her memory. I want to start anew-- I want her to choose me as Cassandra chose you.”

“This is a dangerous process-- are you certain?”

“Yes.”

“Why not just take her?”

“She will hate me, and I can not live with that.”

“Very well. Put her on the table and we will begin.”

“Thank you Father.”

His father sighed.

“Do not thank me until it is done.”

“This will restore balance.”

“I am sure you think that Topher-- but it is not for you to decide.”

“Even though it may start a war between the covens?”

“We shall see-- regardless of this girl causing a war-- a war is brewing. Our numbers are growing-- soon it will be time.”

Topher put me on the table under a bright lab light, he strapped my arms and legs down and terror more than I could imagine filled me. I wanted to scream but I felt like I had no strength left, I didn’t even put up a fight to get away. Topher stepped away from the table as his father approached it. Reaching out a hand over my head Topher’s father said softly;

“I supposed I should introduce myself, I am Lucas.” He smiled down at me, and I shivered. Lucas’ eyes were bright red, his skin was white, and his wings a deep black, fluttering as he breathed. I saw the weeping angels from Doctor Who in my mind, they had nothing on this guy. “I have been called many things in your day.” He whispered as he gently brushed the hair off my forehead. “Some have been good-- others have been bad, even though I have been in my time both--” He looked over a Topher, who had moved into the back of the room and begun to pace. “Perhaps you should leave until this is over.”

“I am fine Father.”

“As long as you are sure.”

Topher’s face contorted in frustration. He punched the wall and it shuddered under the weight of his fist.

“I am sure.” He hissed.

“Very well.” Lucas cleared his throat. “Now stay calm-- this shouldn’t hurt a bit.” Lucas’ large warm hand clamped down on my forehead, I felt a flood of heat in the front of my head.

Flashes of light blinded me-- images of the last several months; meeting Marissa and Sebastian, dancing at Plumanara, meeting Kiera, what happened at Nameless, meeting Vincent at Gustos… Vincent biting me, my deepest thoughts when I was alone in my room, the Fairlands-- both my dreams and reality… and then the night of the car accident, and then he pulled his hand back. I could no longer see-- everything was dark, my eyes burning as they were still catching reverberating echoes of flashes of light in my head.

“I cannot do this.” Lucas hissed at Topher. “He loves her, and she loves him.”

Topher growled.

“But you must. If I am not to have her neither can he.” He hissed back. “Besides, you know what will happen if you do not put a stop to this now-- If they find out that you are still alive, it will not bode well for us Father. It will turn into a genocide of the entire night world.”

There were a few moments of silence and then a grunt.

“Still it is not wise.” Lucas said slowly.

“Yet you know it is necessary.” Topher replied.

After what seemed like an eternity, Lucas mumbled;

“So be it.”

My heart was pounding, Vincent loved me? I wasn’t just a walking blood bank? I wanted to scream and jump up and down for happiness, but then there was the hot hand on my forehead and the images were being pulled from my brain. I knew they would be gone if I didn’t fight, and I had a sense of panic fly through me. I mustn’t lose the memories I had-- they were important-- the Fairlands, Topher and the truth about him and his family, Marissa, Kiera, Sebastian...Annabelle, the truth about Acroft High and Vincent-- I must not forget that he loved me. I fought, with every fibre in my being I strained against the bright light that was flashing inside my skull, but I wasn’t as strong as Lucas-- in the end he pulled the very last picture from my mind as everything went blank.

I awoke completely refreshed in my room; with someone shaking me.

“Wake up Gen! Like seriously, why are you sleeping in-- don’t you have to get to school early? Gah, you are so frustrating!”

I opened my eyes, and looked up at a girl who looked oddly familiar.

“Do I know you?” I muttered blinking a few times at the blond girl standing over me.

Her jaw dropped.

“What are you on Gen? Like OMG, I am sooo telling mom and dad, this is all Vincent’s fault isn’t it?!? I knew he was weird but seriously? I’m your freaking sister! How on earth could you forget me?”

I pulled myself up into a sitting position.

“I have a headache.” I mumbled.

“Yeah I’m sure you do.” The blond girl snapped as she spun around. “I am giving you at least five minutes, if you aren’t ready to go by then, well-- find your own ride to school.”

As the blond girl flitted out the room I thought of how annoying she was. I pulled myself out of bed and went to stand in front of the wardrobe mirror; I didn’t recognize the girl I saw reflected there. She was pretty, I mean I was pretty. I frowned, and the girl in the mirror mimicked me. I pulled the wardrobe door open. Was this what I wore? I blinked and sighed, I guess this was going to have to be good enough. I pulled out one of the bright red dresses, and tugged the extremely tight and exposing dress on over my creamy white skin; I pulled on some adorable thigh high boots, and closed the wardrobe so I could see how the outfit looked in the mirror.

“Hi, there good looking.” I winked at myself.

I found the bathroom and spent a few minutes on my hair and makeup-- the bathroom was practically exploding with makeup; which was the best! Once I liked how I looked I grabbed a little black shrug from the bedroom and put it on, and turned to get the full effect in the wardrobe mirror. Stunning. I picked up a red clutch from the dresser and after plumping my lips with some lipstick I found in the clutch I headed out the door and down the stairs. The blond girl was waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs hand on her hips and foot tapping the ground-- when she heard me coming she looked up and her jaw fell open when she saw me.

“Something wrong?” I asked.

The girl blinked a few times.

“You cut this out Gen; seriously or I will tell mom and dad. What in heaven’s name are you wearing?”

I shrugged.

“A dress.” I muttered.

“Sure it is, and I am the queen of the universe.” She hissed back sarcastically. “I thought you didn’t like to dress like the ‘queen of skank’!

I rolled my eyes and ignored her; choosing instead heading out the front door. The blond girl followed me-- cursing under her breath. On the driveway there was a grey car. I headed towards it-- followed by the annoying girl. We got into a grey car and the girl backed out of a long driveway. The blond didn’t look too pleased with me, but I didn’t know who the hell she was-- so why on earth did she have any right to tell me what to do?! We pulled up to a rod iron black gate with a sign over it in bright gold letters; Acroft High School. The blond girl opened the car window and scanned a little white card and the gates inwardly swung open.

We drove into the school and the girl parked the car in the first parking lot. She sat for a moment at then looked at me.

“I don’t know what--but something’s not right with you Gen. Your eyes look-- vacant; like there’s no body home, or at least nobody who recognizes me. I’m scared for you. If you’re on drugs you can tell me-- I could get you help.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about; but then again I also don’t know who you are.” I pushed open the door of the car and stepped out, leaving the annoying blond behind me.

It was a beautiful late spring day; the air was warm on my skin, so warm that I almost shed my black shrug right then and there-- almost. I meandered my way towards the school and ran into a few students. I waved and was slightly confused when I saw the way that the students treated me; they looked at me with hatred and awe, fear and respect. I grinned, and danced into the school, good-- if they wanted to treat me like a queen then they could.

I didn’t really know where I was going. I let my feet guide me, they took me up a staircase, and down a dark hallway and paused for a moment before a slightly open door-- was this where I was supposed to be? I shrugged, who cares-- I was on top of the world-- the queen bee and that was all that mattered. I could go wherever I wanted and be whoever I wanted to be. I entered the almost empty classroom, I say almost empty because there was this hunk in leather sitting at the desk closest to the door. I dropped my clutch on the table. It made a thumping noise which seemed to echo through the empty room. I smirked. The boy turned to look at me-- I say boy lightly. This guy sitting here beside me was no boy-- he was a yummy looking man-- who was staring at me like he knew me. Great. Another person who I couldn’t remember. I stared back unafraid and undeterred, as his eyes seared into mine.

“What happened to you?” He whispered, softly, so softly-- like he was caressing me with his voice.

I liked the way that he spoke to me-- I opened my mouth, but no words came out. I wanted to sound suave but how can you do that if you can’t remember who you were even talking to. He reached across the space dividing us and gripped my chin with his cold hands, and brought my face close to his so his eyes were inches away from my own.

“Who am I?” He asked me, his pupils narrowing and widening, like cats eyes-- I thought for some strange reason…had I thought this before?

I liked being this close to him. Whoever this guy was; he was dangerous. I could feel danger and excitement, passion and fury oozing off him; that and something lurking behind the surface; drawing me like a moth to the flame. Had I had this thought before? I felt the world of the classroom fade away and he was all that existed-- in this moment it was just him and I.

“Who are you?” I repeated rather quietly. “You are mine.” I said it possessively, and I meant it.

At that moment just beyond the circle of my vision came a crash-- I was suddenly very aware we were in the classroom again as my universe expanded beyond myself and this guy-- my guy. He, well the hottie-- sprang into action faster then should have been possible. He threw himself over me, creating a wall between my body and whatever had just exploded, hurling us both at the classroom wall; as time sped up I felt the cold slab of the wall bruising me and something like needles hitting my skin. I blinked as ‘hottie’ pulled himself up from the ground and spun around. I couldn’t see much from the floor; only that a window on the other side of the room had been shattered-- and a part of me wondered what could have shattered the thick glass. I raised myself to my knees and peeked just over the top of the desk; from this view I could see what had shattered the window. Where the window had once been there was a girl perched on the windowsill, looking for all the world like a cat about to pounce. The girl looked to be about maybe fourteen or slightly older, I tried not to stare at her but she looked like she was related to ‘hottie’.

“Hi big brother.” She said with a wicked grin. “Daddy sent me to check in on you, and to send you a message. He’s coming home-- and you’re out of time. Turn yourself in now and you will be spared the rod. You know how this works Vince, my clever-- but oh so stupid brother.”

“Soph.”

“Oh, don’t ‘Soph,’ me. I’ve already had to grow up without one sibling-- don’t make me have to live without you too.”

“If you could only listen to me--”

“Like you listened to Marissa?”

“This is different Sophia.”

“Not from where I am standing.”

“I didn’t plan this.”

“I know. Papa knows.”

“Doesn’t that change anything?”

“Nope.”

“You’re just like me aren’t you.”

“Yes, expect the you that actually followed the law.” She jumped from the window ledge and walked around the desks her high heeled boots crunching on broken glass. “Is that her?” The girl’s eyes narrowed to slits.

“Soph. Please.”

“Vincent.” Her head turned at an odd angle. “She’s not much to look at.”

“She’s also not human.”

“So you would want me to believe-- but I can smell her from here. She smells like them.”

“She’s Fae!”

“Then why are her eyes so human?”

“She’s from an alternate universe, that’s why.”

“Suh garbage! As if I could ever believe that.”

“I’ve been there.”

“Poppycock.”

“I swear it.”

“I’ll tell Papa your crazy story-- but like me he will see through your lies.”

“When will he be home?”

The girl grinned.

“Wouldn’t you like to know!” She laughed. “I just wouldn’t want to be you in about forty minutes.” Then she spun and jumped back out the broken window-- disappearing in a cloud, leaving me and-- Vincent-- That must be his name....it sounded so right; alone in the classroom.

There was a panic in the air that hadn’t been there before-- was I panicking or was it someone else? I didn’t have much time to ponder the emotions that washed over me. Vincent spun on his heels rushing to where I was; he picked me up from where I was crouching behind the desk and threw me over his shoulders.

“I’m so sorry about this Gen. We’ve got to go-- I have to keep you safe.” Vincent’s body was cool under my warm body-- I could still feel blood oozing from my scrapes. “Hang on, my little bird.”

Why did that sound so familiar?

Vincent took off with me in his arms-- he raced down the narrow hallway, down a flight of stairs and out of the building. People were just beginning to gather on the school grounds. Vincent wove between them as if they were merely part of one giant maze and we had to get out-- people backed away from us in fear as we fled. Outside the the air no longer felt warm, it felt dangerous and cold-- it even looked like storm clouds were racing towards this very spot as we flew through the parking lot.

“Is it supposed to look like that?” I whispered.

Vincent skidded to a stop and looked up at the sky.

“Damn it. He’s coming-- we’re running out of time!”

Vincent placed me in front of himself on a motorbike and kicked it into gear; we left the lot speeding down the long drive so fast I was afraid we might hit the gate and become ‘gate kill.’ At the last minute Vincent held out his arm scanning the pass for the gate, not stopping for it to open but continuing to kick the bike into a higher gear-- we slid through the barely open gate and took off into the city. I had no memories, I had no fear-- and I had a feeling that everything was shifting; and that Vincent was the key to my future.

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