Chapter 34 - Bond
Alena awoke with the feeling that she just had the oddest dream. Something drove her to dress quickly with a sense of urgency she could not shake, and she left the room so quickly she forgot to take a weapon.
The castle was empty, and she could sense the absence of the Crone as if a veil had lifted. Alena knew where Rowan’s room was, and she made her way there with no thought of Marcus. She rushed through the door without knocking, only to falter to a standstill.
Rowan’s clothes still hung over the chairs to dry, the water she should have used to wash remained untouched in the basin, while she slept naked under a thick blanket. Her exposed neck revealed two tiny lines of dried blood, but the puncture marks no longer marred her skin.
Alena sat down when her legs grew numb from shock. It hadn’t been a dream; she realized as she pulled her hands through her hair and sighed.
Rowan woke to stare at her with the oddest expression. Alena could feel the way their souls connected. She knew what it was, but for Rowan, this was a first. She was never part of a coven, never had a physical connection to someone that was even more prominent, and undeniable than the bond of family.
“It wasn’t a dream was it?” Alena asked, and Rowan touched her neck. Her fingers hesitated when they came in contact with the dried blood. Alena took the wet cloth, wrung it out and passed it to Rowan.
“Wipe the blood away,” she instructed with practical acceptance. Now that her brain had time to consider the situation, she could feel the differences in her body; the power, the strength, and the responsibility of their new gifts. Rowan handed back the wet cloth, and Alena rose to her feet to walk to the mirror. Her tension didn’t ease when her gaze landed on her bloodied neck.
“We have to tell him,” Alena saw her lips forming the words as if her face belonged to someone else and Rowan sat bolt upright.
“No, Ariana said no, and he won’t understand. You broke your bond to him by accepting her gift. She cast a spell to hide the knowledge from his mind. You have betrayed him, Alena. You chose another Sire, and you broke your allegiance,” Rowan reminded her. Alena saw her reaction on the glossy surface as the consequences became obvious. A betrayal like this would mean her death, no matter her bloodline. She sat back down, and her brain felt as if it were on fire.
“You’re sitting on my pants,” Rowan pointed out. Alena handed it to Rowan without being aware of what she did.
“You don’t understand,” Alena said, and Rowan shook her head. Both of them had betrayed Marcus.
“I understand, Alena,” Rowan stressed the words as she picked the rest of her clothes up from the floor, where they fell unheeded as Alena sat down.
“We had a choice didn’t we?” Rowan reminded, and Alena lowered her head to the back of the chair as her panic eased.
“Yes,” Alena agreed.
“We chose?” Rowan asked, and Alena took a deep breath.
“Yes, we chose,” Alena couldn’t deny the truth.
“It’s what you always wanted, and Victor wouldn’t give you,” Rowan noted, and Alena looked vulnerable but also angry at herself. Rowan walked over and bent till they were eye level.
“I don’t want to die just because Victor made me a lesser creature,” Rowan’s words hurt Alena, but they hurt Rowan too.
“Marcus would sacrifice me in a moment, and he would never have allowed you to give me a fighting chance. Not that you would have wanted to do such a thing or could do it, and I could not blame you. She understood your feelings, and in doing this, she sacrificed something of herself to us both. Me more than you,” Rowan explained.
“When I was sick, I could taste the strength in you and even then I understood that it was a strength I would never have. It was just something I accepted as you accepted that I am less than you. I still am, but not so much,” Rowan finished getting dressed. She packed up her few belongings; aware of their well-worn state, and that they were not the same quality as Alena’s things, but they were hers.
“I’m sorry,” Alena said as she watched Rowan, allowing herself to see her sister for the first time without letting her emotions and insecurities color her perception.
“For what? We’re truly sisters now, and I cannot make you accept or reject that,” Rowan made her way to the door, and she took a deep breath as she turned to Alena. Their eyes met.
“Marcus...” She began, and Alena stood.
“Must not know,” Alena agreed, and Rowan smiled.
“I was about to suggest we find him. I think we’ve been asleep for a long time and he might not be feeling well,” Rowan teased, and Alena grinned. She let go of the tight rein she had on her emotions all of her life. It felt so odd, so wrong and so right.
“If he knew Ariana’s true face, he’d see the resemblance,” Alena reminded, and Rowan shook her head.
“She wouldn’t reveal herself to him. She’d show him only what he would expect to see,” Rowan corrected Alena, and they were quiet as they made their way down the hall, they both needed time to think, and to get used to the changes in them.
“She’s left,” Alena said when they reached their destination.
“I know,” Rowan answered. It felt as if some part of her soul was missing. A loss that hurt.
They found Marcus naked in a bed of furs, covered and asleep. They struggled to wake him, and when he awoke, he wasn’t quite himself.
“What?” He moaned. Rowan touched him by accident at the same moment Alena did, and they both almost let go. The images floating into their heads were just a little gross, now that they knew who Ariana was.
“I had the strangest dreams,” Marcus complained, and Alena handed him a wet towel to wipe his face.
“We all did,” Rowan said, and Alena had the hardest time keeping her face straight or affording Marcus the respect he expected, but he didn’t notice.
“The Oracle has left, and we need to go,” Rowan informed him. His strength returned in leaps and bounds, and Alena found it odd that she could still feel his bond, but it lacked something essential as if lost its power over her.
“We will fetch the horses while you get dressed,” Alena decided, expecting annoyance at her bossiness. He only nodded with weary lethargy, sensing something strange, but not being able to put his finger on it. He never noticed how amused they were or the slight bit of mockery in them both.
“Rough sleep?” Alena could not help asking, and Rowan nearly grinned.
He breathed in, and his breath hitched. He became pale as something struck him as odd. The sheets were rumpled. He was naked; the room had a familiar and distinct smell to it. Half of it was something intoxicating but intertwined with the strange scent of a female witch and maybe a vampire, but definitely immortal.
His eyes blazed as he realized it hadn’t been a dream. A witch seduced him. His body became tense, and the women were out the door before he could formulate any questions, not in fear of him, but because they could not help their reaction to his stunned, mortified anger.