Hak’vo stared down at me his eyes gleaming with delight. “Well if it isn’t the brat that convinced Nicodemus to weasel out of our deal. You are forcing me to move my horde to a different location.”
I wanted to argue- the cocky response on the tip of my tongue. Instead my gaze went back to the painting hanging high on a stone wall that was covered with several others- others I recognized as places inside Rose’s home. Hak’vo saw my wandering gaze and quickly picked me up by the scruff of my neck from the floor with ease.
“You will not touch my collection.” He hissed. “You have caused enough damage in my life you little insect.”
I kicked my legs at him struggling- my feet an inch off the ground making him laugh. Growling I narrowed my eyes and spit in his face.
(Now for anyone who hasn’t ever encountered a dragon- I am going to warn you right now. Never. Ever. Spit in their face- let alone their eyes.) He threw me against the opposite wall- my back hitting the door knob. Pain radiated up my spine- I would have a bruise as the walls shook with his roar. There before me was a red dragon, his glowing yellow eyes molten.
I ran out of the door- my hand burning as I slammed the heavy oak door closed running as far as I could from him. He wouldn’t kill me in front of others. Nicodemus would have his head. If he was still alive that was... I had betrayed him. Now he was likely the only one that could help me. He was the only one that had ever been able to put that beast into his place.
The longer I was gone the longer Rose would think I abandoned her. I had to find him- especially if he was moving his horde. If he moved his horde before I found Nicodemus I may never see her again. The wet paint on my cloths was likely staining carpets- but I was beyond caring.
I had abandoned her because I was angry with a vision that hadn’t even happened. In it I hadn’t seen her face- but I had easily said the word love. She loved me.
No one had ever loved me.
Why hadn’t I seen it before? Why had I been focused on the rejection. Her face had put it all in perspective. I lost them both- Ian the patient and caring that consented to us being fated and Rose- beautiful artistic funny Rose.
As soon as I reached Nicodemus’ door I knocked furiously. Despite knowing where his room was I had never visited it- but this was life or death. An angry red eye greeted me before fading quickly to brown and a rumbled Nicodemus greeted me by swinging the door open.
I bee-lined for this bed wringing my hands- nearly sighing in relief as I sat. Between the pain of falling on the floor, the door knob and the tedious several days of these stupid vines my body felt like it was screaming with pain. Here I was asking for help- and I was likely to cause of him dying any moment. I had to come clean- beg for help. Instead?
I burst into tears.
“Raven-” Nicodemus said cautiously rubbing his neck as he walked forward. His tone made me want to cry more. In the brief time I had known him he was like a weird father figure.
“I know I’m sorry I just didn’t know where else to go. I lost them, I lost-” My hands shook before I looked up at him, my eyes pleading. He was ruffed- grumpy and oddly looked kind of like well... like a vampire woken mid day. Normally he looked so un-vampire-like.
“Raven I need you to slow down and explain things calmly I don’t understand you when you’re crying and talking in broken sentences.” He yawned before walking over slowly to pick up a discarded shirt on the floor throwing it back on and rubbing his eyes. Nicodemus never had anything out of place. I shook off the thought and continued trying to keep my voice even as I came clean.
“The witch here isn’t a nice one- she’s here to kill everyone one master. Sh-she sent me to go find my destined one to remove this curse. B-but it was a mistake. I was pushed out. Now Hak’vo won’t give me the painting and is threatening to burn his collection.” A small lie- I technically pushed myself out; but it had been an accident. I had just been so angry that the magic just fueled the spell.
He began to rub the bridge of his nose in annoyance similar to when he tried to tell me to stop harassing Monica. “Raven the man is a dragon, why where you messing with anything in his horde to begin with- you and I both know he collects rare paintings and even has the actual Mona Lisa among many others with more magical properties lost in time including those that had been in the great library of Alexandria and a few from Atlantis it’s self. So why in the living hell are you bothering him?”
“Please you don’t understand- my fated one is in one of those paintings. I have to go back in. You have to help me.” I begged as my eyes welled up in tears once more. “I spent a month in there and I-. Don’t you know what it’s like finally finding the one you’re finally supposed to be with? It’s life or death for me but it’s-” I couldn’t even think of what else to say- instead I looked down at my hands feeling hopeless.
After a beat of Nicodemus looking at me he whispered a few words of understanding.
“So much more?”
His words made my heart wrench. I couldn’t give up trying- so I looked up once more my words desperate and pleading. “Please I’ll tell you everything you want to know about the witch- she’s a plague among our kind. I just need to get back. I’m sorry I didn’t put the barrier back up I know you’re probably furious and she’s made a mess of things but I can redeem myself I just-”
“Raven.” His hand went up stopping me short as he roared my name. “I will help you but you need to calm down.” The last words coming out gentler.
I jumped slightly looking at him wide eyed and speechless. He had never raised his voice at me. With another yawn he walked over to his dresser and pulled open a drawer lifting a false bottom to pull out a tube sealed in gold and jewels. What was in it?
“Give him this- in exchange for nothing less than the collection you need. Word the verbal contract very VERY carefully. You don’t want to try and leave any loose ends with dragons. Time also clearly works differently in whatever painting you went into so please try and be back by the time the Fey arrive. If he decides to be an arrogant ass- which he will be. Threaten to burn it. Should do the trick.”
He tossed it into my hands startling me- I inspected it for a moment before I looked up- he had walked over to the wall near the fireplace leaning against it.
“T-thank you. But Nicodemus-” I pausing when the door open, whoh seriously cool. A secret passage- guess he did have some tricks up his sleeve despite being a pretty lame excuse for a vampire. “The witch-”
“My beloved with will be just fine- no go.” He growled, my eyes went wide but then a small smile filled my face as I finally understood. Nicodemus got laid.
“Beloved huh?” I said slyly wiggling my brows and grinning.
He shook his head at me ignoring the question as he dissipated into the wall’s secret door. Clutching the jeweled tube I quickly opened it to see it’s contents. I had to know what I was bartering after all.
Inside was a small very old very tattered painting with a golden dragon on it. This was what he wanted? My brows furrowed as I ran my thumb over it.
There wasn’t a vision. There wasn’t even a full ripple of magic just a sudden knowledge in a way that my gift had never given me before. This was Hak’vo's mate.