Colton awoke with a pounding headache. His arms, which he knew were chained above his head, fell just then, and he had to catch himself before he hit the floor. His eyes were closed, jaw clenched, and he rubbed a hand over a spot on the back of his head where he must’ve been hit, fighting back the headache, but to no avail.
After several more minutes, he forced himself to his feet. It was then that he heard the sound of people fighting. He opened his eyes, squinting at the light filling what looked to be the back of a grey van. What was he doing in there?
Everything came rushing back to him. Audra had died, and Ersa kidnapped him. What secret had she been talking about? What was his mother hiding? What did that have to do with possibly saving Audra?
His thoughts were interrupted, however, when he heard a familiar voice.
"GIVE HIM BACK!"
His heart skipped a few beats. He couldn't have heard Audra's voice, right? She was gone.
He forced himself to move to the open doors, putting a hand on the open door and leaning against it. After a moment, he looked outside, and his jaw dropped when he saw Audra.
There were a few bloody cuts on her face from what he could see, but the silver veins on her arms were gone. And her skin had changed, too. Her golden freckles were glowing. There was a look of intense rage in her eyes. He didn't know what to think about the hundreds of glowing, light blue snake heads surrounding her and fighting what looked like Ersa in glowing bronze light.
Colton carefully stepped out of the van before he started towards Audra. He had to make sure she was really there. He had to feel her, touch her hands. His walking turned into a speed walk, then a full-on sprint, starting to feel tears piling up in the corners of his eyes.
Audra turned to face him, the intensity of her eyes softening as he saw them brim with tears. The snake heads around her formed a path to her, protecting him from Ersa's attacks as he ran to her, her arms open wide.
Once he got to her, he just about tackled her in a hug, holding her as close as he dared. He pressed a kiss to her temple, forehead, cheek and then, finally, her lips, lingering for a few seconds before pulling away and burying his face in the crook of her neck, shaking from how hard he was crying and tangling a hand in her soft, floating hair.
Audra held onto him tightly, running a hand up and down his back as she calmed him down. He could tell by the shaking of her voice that she was trying to refrain from crying.
The snake heads closed around the two of them, blocking out the sounds of the outside world.
The two of them stood there for a few minutes, bronze light bouncing off the snake heads and bursting like fireworks as they were deflected. They just stood there, holding each other tightly to themselves, silent.
Once Colton had calmed down enough, he pulled away from her just enough to see her face. He reached up and gently caressed her cheek, stroking a thumb across her cheek to brush away her tears.
"I can't believe any of this…" he murmured. "I thought… I thought you were…" He shook his head a little and leaned forward, their foreheads touching.
Audra nodded slightly, lifting her hand to lightly run her fingers through his hair. "I know. I'm sorry. I should've told you more about the vow…"
He shook his head a little, lightly running his hands up and down her arms. "I don't care that you didn't tell me. I just wanted you to stay."
"I still should've told you.' She took a deep breath, then smiled faintly. "Your hair is so soft… I can feel it now. I couldn't before."
He smiled, even managed a small shaky laugh. "I'm so glad you're okay…"
She reached up and brushed a gentle thumb across his lips, that faint smile still on her face. "I'm glad she didn't hurt you too badly. I got so angry at the thought of her taking you away…" Her jaw clenched in anger. After a couple moments, the backs of her fingers brushed across his cheek, running then through his hair lightly before resting her hand on his cheek. "I couldn't let her take you away."
Colton leaned his head against her hand, lightly placing his own hand on top of it and closed his eyes. "I'm okay, Auds. She didn't hurt me too badly," he murmured. He took a deep breath, slowly letting it out opening his eyes momentarily before leaning forward and kissing her, pulling away a couple seconds later. "Let's just go home. Please. I just want to spend the rest of the day with you. I don't want to worry about anything else."
Audra nodded, lowering her hand and lacing her fingers with his. She smiled softly. "Of course. Whatever you want, Colt."
She moved so that she was in between Ersa and Colton, gently pressing his hand before the Hydra heads parted, allowing access to where Ersa was hurling the last bit of her energy at them.
Ersa was livid when she saw Colton standing behind Audra. But she was too weak and drained to make any move to retrieve him.
"Give it back! Give it back to us! I SWEAR, if I have to kill you to-"
Audra stiffened, and her jaw rippled. "I will NOT! Now back down, Ersa, for I've beaten you. You are completely out of energy, while mine is still abundant. You stand no chance against me. Your men cower in fear behind you. There is no support or anyone to back you against me."
Ersa forced out a laugh, too weak to stand. She sat on her knees, an arm wrapped around her stomach. She looked like crap.
"Does your boyfriend even know what he is?"
Colton's brows furrowed a bit as he looked down at Audra, who had paled. He felt a small spark of anger inside of his chest.
"Auds, what's she talking about? What does she mean by that?" he asked slowly, trying to keep his voice from shaking.
Audra looked over at him, eyes wide and her coffee colored skin pale. After a few moments, she opened her mouth to speak, eyes welling with tears, but was cut off.
"Oh. My gods!" Once she looked at their faces, Ersa laughed maniacally. "This is priceless! It doesn't even know it's a half-star!"
"Colton isn't an 'IT!' HE is a HE!" Audra shouted back, her voice shaking. "How DARE you call him otherwise!"
Ersa just kept on laughing.
Colton stood there for several more seconds in shock, his anger slowly growing. Finally, he turned to Audra, still loosely holding onto her hand.
"I'm a HALF-STAR?!" he shouted, unable to keep himself from blowing up in anger. "And you knew, didn't you?! How could you do this to me?! I thought-"
"Colton! Please! I promised your mother-" she started, paleing even further.
"My mother is a star?!" He took a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself. It didn't work.
"Yes." That was her response. A simple, quiet 'yes.' She couldn't look him in the eyes.
Colton let go of her hand, then, and took a couple steps back. "I trusted you," he said, his voice deadly quiet. "I supported you, did everything I could possibly do to keep you here, and you don't trust me enough to tell me that I'm half a star. How long have you known?"
Audra took her time in responding. The Hydra heads slowly faded into her, and her hair fell around her shoulders. After another minute of tense silence, she finally spoke. "Ever since you brought me to your house. I found out when you'd gone elsewhere to get a blanket. Your mother was of the constellation-"
"I don't want to hear it." He took a few more steps back. A minute or so passed, and then he said quietly, "I don't want to see you for awhile. Stay away from me."
Audra lifted her head to look at him with wide eyes. He noticed then that she'd started crying again. She started teaching an arm out to him, then recoiled, almost as if she was in pain from that simple action. Her bottom lip quivered, and in that second, he felt a pang of guilt.
Ersa started laughing again. She passed out from exhaustion moments later.
Colton couldn't take it anymore. He turned and started running away, ignoring Audra's pleading for him to stay, crying out for him to stop. He almost did when she called his name, but he kept running without looking back.