“Grandmother, the raids are starting again.” Nora’s voice called out to our grandmother while dust and small rocks fell on our heads. This was our normal, the dirt of the small basement room where we’ve lived for the last sixteen years was always crumbling. We would spend hours rebuilding only for another raid to occur.
“I know sweet girl, we will take stock of it tonight and build again tomorrow. For now, get some sleep, you’ll need it.” Our grandmother’s voice lulled us both back to our bed. We pulled the covers over our shoulders and faced each other before drifting off to sleep, as we did most nights.
I awoke to the sounds of a howling wolf and another few shakes to the bunker. Sitting up slowly I took a good look around the dark room and waited for Nora to wake up with me. When we shared the same bed it was easy for me to know if she was awake or not but now she was an arm’s length away and I couldn’t see that great in the pitch blackness of the bunker.
Normally our kind has great night vision but when there was absolutely no light, not even the tiniest sliver of it, we couldn’t see at all. Over the years, growing up, we figured out tricks and fun things to do to find each other in the blackness but those weren’t used during raids.
“Ella?” I heard my sister’s voice just over the rumble of the destruction above us.
“I’m here Nora, crawl over to my side,” I asked her and she felt her way over. When the touch of her hand met mine I pulled her closer. We cuddled on the small mattress together while I whispered sweet words to her as the basement room shook with another frightening boom.
We listened to the rumbles until they stopped. Neither of us would be able to get any more sleep tonight and when my eyes moved over to where our grandmother would probably be sleeping, I wondered how she could stay asleep through this noise. I may not be able to see her clearly, or really at all, but I knew she was still down here with us. She would never leave us behind. Not like our parents.
“Ella?” Her voice was muffled against my arm while I held her tightly as the last of the noise began to die.
“Yes, Nora?” I replied
“What do you think they’re doing right now?” I hated this question. She would ask me the same question at least once a month and I never had a good answer for her. Especially one that was the truth. But I told her what she wanted to hear so she would stop asking about them.
“I think they’re just waking up and making breakfast for each other. Maybe father reads the newspaper out loud while mother cut up a few grapefruits for the two of them to go with their eggs. Maybe after breakfast, they go for a run through the trees that are just behind their cottage.” I weaved her a lovely story about what our parents might be doing if they weren’t dead.
Only grandmother and I knew the truth.
I felt Nora relax into the mattress and I fell back against the dirty wall while she stayed curled up in my arms. I could feel her breathing even out and as I listened to her heartbeat slow I knew she had fallen asleep.
Minutes passed by before the low glow of a light came from the other side of the room where our grandmother was sleeping.
“I don’t know why you tell her that bullshit story.” Our grandmother, the sweetest woman we knew, had one of the foulest mouths I’ve ever heard.
“It makes her feel better and now she’s asleep, I don’t see the harm in it,” I whispered while gently getting out from under Nora’s sleeping body while laying her down on the small mattress. I silently crawled over the cold basement floor towards my grandmother who was sitting up on her own bed and patting a spot for me to come sit with her.
“She should know the truth but I think it would do more harm than good. She thinks they’re dead and so shall they be.” I nodded my head to make my point but she only rolled her eyes.
“The only reason you don’t want to tell her is that she’ll leave the basement and go after them. They aren’t dead, they’re traitors.” She spat and crossed her arms. My grandmother wasn’t their number one fan and I might be right alongside her, even though I never remembered meeting them.
“What were they really like?” I asked in a whisper.
“My son was a good kid, then he met your mother, his mate, and things changed. They got pregnant with the two of you and I thought I was going to see them finally settle down and be grown-ups. But the power the former king held was too much.” She didn’t like to talk about her son and his mate and I didn’t blame her. They abandoned us for something better.
“Why did the king want them?” I asked her this question before and never got a straight answer but I could tell she was giving in little by little.
“There are things I wish I could hide from the two of you forever but I know that won’t be the case for too much longer. Your sister and you are sixteen and secrets don’t stay hidden forever.” This is the furthest I’ve gotten with her and our parents.
“The king recruited them the first time he came here. He was looking for something and burned us down trying to find it. They left with him that night and when she fell pregnant my son’s mate came crawling back with the two of you bundled in her arms. She left shortly after that and I haven’t seen them since.” My grandmother was a strong woman, having to keep all of these secrets to herself while taking care of the two of us.
“I’m sorry they just left you with a pair of twins and then never came back. You’ve done a great job with us, even when the visions started. I know why we live down here and one day the war will end and we will get out of here.” I smiled up at her but her face didn’t seem like it was thinking the same thing I was.
“I know you’ve shared what the two of you have seen but the war won’t end until the lands are scorched and the new king kills all of us. Ella?”
“Yes, grandmother?” I met her eyes this time and while her hand rested on my shoulder I could feel the energy shift in the room.
“If anything happens to me you must swear to take your sister and run away from here. You run and never look back. Promise me.” Her stern eyes worried me but I knew it was for the best of us. She always looked after us and anything she told me I knew was in our best interest.
“I promise” I held her hand when a moan from the other side of the room brought us out of our conversation.
“Nora?” I called out to her and when another moan almost groan responded instead I knew she was having a vision. I quickly dropped my grandmother’s hand and went to her. She wouldn’t be able to see the vision clearly without my help.
Getting to the mattress I pulled Nora’s hands into my own and made sure she was sitting up completely before we began.
“It hurts,” She whimpered as her head rolled from side to side.
“It know Nora, I’ll make the pain go away. I promise.” Our fingers laced together and her energy spread to me as the vision touched my mind. I held onto the promise I swore to our grandmother, I would get us out of here if anything happened to her. Until then, I would watch every vision she gave me and help her with all the pain because she couldn’t be her without me and I couldn’t be me without her.
Even our wolf was shared. She took the brunt of the visions but I had the pleasure of breaking my bones for our wolf. Even though I haven’t shifted since my first one when I was thirteen, I know she’s still there. Our wolf brings a comfort to me that I’ve never felt before and would never feel again. Trying to convey something like that to Nora isn’t easy. Aside from my first shift, she’s only seen our wolf in her visions.
And just like then, I would dive deep under the waves of her mind with her. Hand in hand, I would take her pain whenever possible.