Blood and War

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Chapter 19 - Revelations

Catherine missed Dillon when he was not there. It made her uneasy to admit this even to herself as she scrubbed the floors with unnecessary vigor.

The dark of the hall could not hide her from her thoughts as it hid her from her tormentors. How could a vampire miss a human in such a way? It was not natural. Was it?

She liked Helga because Helga treated her like a person and not a thing. Even crusty old Sam was getting under her skin. Was humanity catching in some way or was she really not vampire enough?

On the other hand, measuring by the example of her own kin and their easy betrayal of her, maybe not being vampire enough was not so bad.

At least with these humans, she had absolutely no delusions. If they thought they had cause to do so, they would turn on her in an instant. Perhaps not all of them but most of them anyway.

Dillon’s arrival in the courtyard with his men interrupted Catherine’s bitter thoughts. She absently listened to their tired sighs and ribald jokes.

Her ears strained for only one voice. His business had unmistakably gone well, she concluded, as she heard him speak to Sam.

She heard Dillon dismiss his men to their rest and she listened to him find his way to his rooms, while she cleaned his floors in the dark.

Catherine was the hostess in her father’s house. She would have been the one who greeted Eduardo and welcomed the men home if she hadn’t also been out with them.

There was an ache in her chest for the life she knew and a burning hollowness in the wake of this new life. A life she did not belong to and a fate she resented.

* * *

Helga inspected the floor with a small frown marring the, still unlined, features of her face. The floor was perhaps actually clean for the first time since the building was constructed.

Even the men noticed and took off their muddied boots outside the doors, a miracle bar none. The rushes were clean. The walls were scrubbed. The windows sparkled. Their pet vampire surely managed to guide her frustrations well.

This was not the end result of dedication or even a ploy to show how useful she could be. Only one thing could drive a person to such intensive, unrelenting labor. The heart. The one thing the mind could not escape. No matter the effort expended in trying to do so.

It was hard not to treat Catherine like the lady she so unmistakably was. It was difficult not to cower before the power of her personality and her air of command.

It was almost impossible to treat her like a slave and even tougher to give her chores which she, surely, must see as a humiliation.

It would be easier if Catherine were human. Perhaps. It wasn’t as if any of them were used to vampires or had any experience with them.

Catherine’s pride and the danger you could sense even when she was calm or peaceful, made everyone uneasy around her.

Some feared her with a mindless fear which would not be eased. Helga did her best to not bring the vampire into contact with them, which was not always possible.

Catherine could do nothing about it. She could not change her race, ingrained breeding or lifelong conditioning.

Sometimes her anger flashed, and the violence was like a presence in the room, but Catherine never let go of herself. She never relaxed in their presence, too aware of herself and the danger she posed to them.

Her very control made her seem more inhuman, and even as Helga found herself grateful for it, she understood that it wasn’t a good thing. Not in the long run. It was a strain no creature could bear indefinitely.

Catherine bottled up everything inside of herself, and she did it all of her life. At some point, she would lose control of the pent up frustration and grief.

The devastation Catherine could cause was unthinkable. Helga would wager good money on the fact that Catherine would never be able to forgive herself if she harmed or killed, someone she liked or even someone who could not defend themselves against her.

Helga, with all that she saw and knew in her life, would never have imagined herself pitying a vampire. Then again, Catherine was different. It was perhaps her uniqueness which made it all so much harder on her.

* * *

Catherine hurried into the armory and froze in her steps. It was not the first time in her life she saw a man without his shirt.

Vampires were not as shy about their bodies as humans, but it was the first time in her life the sight of a man’s skin brought her whole world to a crashing halt. She almost forgot to breathe.

“Catherine, I’ve been waiting for you,” Dillon spotted her, and she had to force herself to move as she struggled to swallow away the dryness of her throat. She had denied her own urges for far too long if a human could make her feel like this, she decided.

“Bring me that sword, yes that one and the one next to it,” Dillon commanded, and she obeyed his directions. She handed him the swords, and he weighed both, wielding them comfortably with both his hands.

“I think this one is much more your weight,” he gave her the heavier blade, and she just stared at it. Catherine was instantly suspicious, despite having no reason to be suspicious of him.

“My men at arms are on patrol. I need a sparring partner,” he explained, while he observed her. She held the weapon away from her.

There was fear in her very manner and a touch of suspicion as if she thought this some test or trap. He understood her caution. Life had abused her of the notion of easy trust.

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