The drive to the Danvers Household was a relatively short one. Audra was awake, yes, but still tired.
Halfway through the drive, she reached over and taken one of Colton’s hands as he drove, relaxed into the seat.
He didn’t let her hand go, and instead lifted her hand to his lips, brushing a light kiss across her knuckles, and lowered it, keeping his other hand on the wheel so that he could continue holding her hand.
Audra smiled gently at him, leaning her head back against the seat. “Thank you, Colt."
He smiled softly at her, returning his eyes to the road a moment later. “You’re very welcome, Auds.”
She couldn’t help thinking that she was the luckiest girl alive to have him in her life as she practically melted upon hearing him call her by her new nickname.
Wait a minute. I’ve never acted this way before. What is it that I’m- oh no. She felt nunb inside. Oh no. Holy stars I am not in love with this boy. We’ve barely known each other for a couple months! It’s only a few days into December, he asked me out at the end of October, and now I’ve developed feelings for him, of all things!
“Denial is the clencher,” she heard her older brother say in a sing-song tone of voice.
The other voices in her head broke into laughter.
“Audie’s in love~” her family chorused. Then more laughter rang through her mind.
“Alright, alright, that’s enough. Don’t be too rough on her. It’s a big step,” came her mother’s soothing voice.
“But she’s not even going to last much longer. If we couldn’t convince her to do the vow, what’s makes you think the human can?”
“Ladon, that is enough. It’s her decision.”
As her heart and mind wrestled with each other, as well as her family, Colton pulled into the driveway of his large house. Once the car was in park, he stepped outside, walked around to her side of the car, and helped her out.
He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and led her up to the front door, where he knocked.
The door opened, and an older woman, possibly in her mid-forties, stepped outside. She had the same rusty red hair as Colton, only it fell past her shoulders, with fair skin and hazel eyes. She wore a simple white blouse and a pair of skinny black jeans, holdinv her head high and proud.
“Why, hello there. You’re Audra, I presume?” she asked, her voice clear and calm.
For some reason, Audra felt the need to present herself better. There was something different about this woman…
She straightened her back and held her head high, like she was, squaring her shoulders. “I am.”
The woman smiled kindly at her, and she felt as if a burden had been lifted off her shoulders.
“I’m Mrs. Danvers, Colton’s mom. Please, come inside.” She opened the door wider for them, and Colton helped her inside and to a rather comfortable chair in a simple yet elegantly decorated living room.
“I’ve just got to go do a few chores real quick. I’ll grab a blanket or something for you so that you stop shivering.” He smiled sweetly at her, leaned forward and kissed her, then straightened and left the room.
Mrs. Danvers moved over and sat on the couch off to the side of the chair Audra was in. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Audra. I’ve heard so much about you.” She shook her hand, then moved all of her rusty red hair to the side, revealing a strange looking birthmark just below her eye.
Almost immediately, Audra felt her freckles glow, and the birthmark glowed in response.
She gasped as she recognized the constellation the birthmark was shaped in. Mrs. Danvers was equally surprised.
“You’re a star. Mrs. Danvers, you’re from the constellation Lyra,” Audra said in a hushed whisper.
“Yes. And you’re from the constellation Hydra.” Her raised brows furrowed. “But… what’s wrong with your skin? Unless you’re a Sol-”
She shook her head. ”Luna Pollentius Hydra. I’m the last daughter of the Moon Hydra. And you’re a Sol Cithara: a Sun Lyre.”
She hesitated, then nodded. “My name is Calliope. I managed to run away from Civitas Solis years ago… I am terribly sorry for your loss.” She paused, then, “Aren’t you supposed to have-”
Audra sighed. “I’m supposed to have a more coffee colored skin. But I have a condition.” She shakily removed her gloves. “My mother… She was a ferrum addicta - an iron addict. Luckily none of my brother’s had the same problems, but when she died giving birth to me- Well, all that iron had to go somewhere. So it went to my hands. It’s drained my color, made me look human, and weakened me. I don’t have much time left. And… unfortunately, your son knows about voto ad atrium maius. My step-sister, Ersa of the Hercules constellation, told him just this morning.”
Her eyes widened and she covered her mouth. “Oh my goodness. Audra, I am so sorry…”
She shook her head a little. “It’s… harder to accept it, but it’s alright. I just wish he didn’t know about the vow. Does… Does he know he’s a star?”
“He has no idea that he’s a half-star…” Calliope sighed, looking down into her lap.
Audra gaped at her. “He’s a half-star?" She pursed her lips. “Actually, that makes way more sense than I thought it would… His voice is just so… powerful.”
“He has the loveliest voice…” She smiled faintly as she looked up at her. “If you want… you have my permission to take the vow with him. Just- don’t let him know that he’s half of a star. He doesn’t have a mark, but the fact that he even has an ability is enough for him to be taken away. I don’t want to lose my only son. Please Audra. He can’t know that the only way it’ll work is if he’s got star blood running through him. His father knows, but we can’t tell him.”
Audra’s fists clenched. “He is your son. He deserves to know.” She took a deep breath, then slowly let it back out a few moments later. “But… if it really means that much to you, Calliope, then I won’t tell him. For now. But something like this shouldn’t be kept from him.”
Calliope sighed, but she nodded her agreement. “Alright.” After another couple moments, she asked, “So… Can you summon the Luna Pollentius Hydra? Or…”
Audra bit her lip. “I… it’s difficult to explain… but when my mother died, she became the first head of my Hydra. As far as I know, I’m the only one who could summon it before.”
“Audra, you know full well that you’re the reincarnated Hydra,” her father’s voice chimed in.
“Oh, another annoying thing about that, is that I can hear my dead relatives because they’re now the other heads of the Hydra,” she added, directing it towards her father. “You were also the idiot who married Ersa’s mom, knowing full well that Ersa’s the reincarnated Hercules. Oh yeah. Smart move on that one, pops. ’Oh! I’ll get married to a pompous rich woman with a daughter who is the reincarnated Hercules. That’ll blow over well, considering that Hercules killed Hydra as one of his twelve labors!?′ I can’t believe you sometimes, dad.”
“You… are the reincarnated Hydra? And you can also talk to your dead relatives?” Calliope asked, looking for some clarification.
Audra sighed, and nodded,slipping her gloves on and trying not to grimace in pain. “I can talk to my dead friends and family, since their souls sought me out and became Hydra heads. Equinox D. killed them to try getting to me. At least… that’s what my brother Ladon said.”
Calliope nodded. “I see… I am very sorry to hear that. I’ve read that it’s a difficult burden.”
She opened her mouth to respond, then shut it as Colton neared them, a blanket in his hands. “Alright. This should be much warmer, Auds.” He gently removed the coat from her shoulders, and draped the blanket over her before lifting her up in his arms to sit down where she was, setting her in his lap and holding her closer to himself, running a hand over her hair.
Calliope merely smiled at the two of them, standing a few moments later. “My husband had to leave for a business trip this morning, so it’ll just be the three of us. I’ll put everything on the table. Welcome to the family, Audra.” And with that, she left.
Colton watched his mother leave, then turned his attention to Audra. “You two seemed to get along well.”
She nodded, smiling a little at him before resting her head against his chest, relaxing. “More than you know. We have a lot in common.”
He nodded and seemed to leave the matter there. “I… I want you to stick around, Audra. I don’t want you to go. Why can’t we take the vow?”
“Because I don’t want to bind you to me eternally.” She went silent for a minute, then, hardly believing herself, nodded. “But, if that’s something you’re willing to do… then we can take the vow in two days after school on Wednesday.”
His eyes widened. “Really? We can take the vow? There aren’t any… human-star complications?”
Audra couldn’t help but think about how much she liked that he was considering how things might be for her since she was a star. I really do love this boy, don’t I?
“Yep. We tried telling you earlier, but…”
“Oh, shut up Ladon,” she told him, thankfully not saying it out loud.
Ladon merely laughed. She missed that laugh.
“No, there’s no human-star complications. Promise.”
Colton let out a sigh of relief and pressed a kiss to her forehead, her cheek, and then, finally, her lips, lingering there for a few seconds before pulling away, their foreheads touching. He was smiling. “You don’t know how relieved I am to hear that,” he murmured. “I’ve been so scared…”
Audra sat up straighter and wrapped her arms around him. She pulled away and wrapped the blanket around her again. “We would do it tonight, but it has to be on specific days. Like the fifth of December.”
He nodded. “Then after we take the vow I can take you prom dress shopping,” he said with a smile. “I’ll get you whatever dress you want. With shoes and accessories to match.”
“And you’ll have a tuxedo to match my outfit, with your rusty red hair as messy as it is now.”
Colton shook his head, smiling. “Nah. I’m styling it for sure.”
“You style your hair, and I’ll come mess it up.”
He laughed. “We’ll see about that, Auds.”
Audra laughed with him. After a couple minutes, she noticed that he had stopped laughing, and managed to stop as well, looking at him with her brows furrowed.
“Why’d you stop laughing?” she asked him.
He stared at her for a few more moments. “I think the question is why haven’t I heard you laughing before? Not like that, anyway.”
“Do you not like my laugh?” she asked hesitantly.
He shook his head as he leaned forward a bit, just enough to gently brush his lips against hers. “I don’t think I can not like anything about you,” he murmured when he pulled away, looking into her eyes.
She felt her face flush a bit, which was a rare sight for him to see.
“Oh my gosh. You’re so cute,” he said, voice barely above a whisper as he kissed her again, slipping a hand behind her head.
“Dinner’s ready!” Calliope called from the next room. “You two better not be messing around in there!”
Colton pulled away from her, his face turning bright red in embarrassment. “We were just talking, mom!”
Audra laughed, pressing herself closer to Colton as he stood, carrying her to the table.
The three of them had a lovely meal. Calliope told Audra many stories of when Colton was a child, almost all of them causing him to get embarrassed and mumble an excuse like, “I thought it was a stick,” as he averted his gaze from Audra.
When they’d finished, Colton helped her up to his room, where he set her down on his bed before looking through his dresser for some clothes she could borrow for the night. He ended up pulling out a large, light grey shirt with a pair of black basketball shorts.
“I’m sorry. That’s all I have, and I don’t know if my mom’s stuff will fit or not,” he said as he handed her the clothes. “I can go sleep on the couch. You take the bed.” He smiled at her, then left the room so she could change.
Audra looked down at the clothes, then stood and quickly changed, tucking the shirt into the shorts before tightening them so they would fit. “I look like a Hobbit in these,” she laughed as she opened the door.
Colton laughed. “No you don’t! You look so cute.”
She flushed a bit and looked down, shaking a hand through her hair. “Oh, um… thanks.” She looked up at him with a shy smile. “Also, I don’t want you to sleep on the couch. The bed is big enough.”
He looked down, rubbing the back of his neck. “I don’t know…”
“Come on. Please?” She pouted, begging him with her eyes.
He looked up at her and smiled a little bit. “Alright, alright. I’ll go get changed and shower.” He walked inside the room to grab a change of clothes, then kissed her forehead before going into the bathroom.
Audra smiled to herself as she walked over to the bed again, climbing under the covers and laying down. She was asleep within minutes.
What seemed like seconds later, she woke up as something wrapped around her waist, something pressing against her back. She held her breath, her eyes widening as she froze.
She waited for a few moments before turning her head to look at what was touching her. She found Colton, his forehead pressed to her back, and his arms wrapped around her waist.
She let out a sigh of relief as she carefully slid down the bed so that his head was closer to her head.
He adjusted himself a little bit, groaning as his brows furrowed.
“Hey, shh…” Audra whispered soothingly. She turned in his arms so that she was looking into his sleeping face, and gently brushed some strands of hair out of his face. “You’re okay, Colt.”
He relaxed a bit, moving closer to her.
She smiled a bit at him, tilting her head up and kissing his forehead, then closed her eyes and relaxed, falling back asleep just a few seconds later to her family singing a lullaby in her head.