The child was tucked in his bed, her tiny and bruised body was covered by his quilt and she was snoring softly. Orion had taken care to feed her before, had made her sit in a chair and fed her a bowl of chicken soup, spoon by small, agonizingly slow spoon. He didn't understand why, but Neeyah stirred something within him.
"Are you sure you want to keep her here?" Lord Damien asked him from where he stood. They had all arrived at Orion's house, he had stubbornly refused to let the child out of his sight. Orion wanted to keep her safe. Safe where he could be the one to protect her.
"Yes. At least till we find out about her parents and hand her over." he walked over to the side of the bed and crouched down before the kid. Her sleeping form was calm and collected, unlike how she had been when she was awake. Even when she had been rescued from that cottage, although she had been grateful for the help, Neeyah was wary. She should be. Orio wanted to strangle the person who could hurt child like this, to kill the fucker who had hurt her so badly. He too once had a child, a sweet, curiously innocent three year old. She was dead now, had been for centuries.
Was that why he felt this obsession to look after her?
Orion reached out and feather lightly stroked her cheek. Her bruises would heal faster than humans, she was a werewolf, he knew that. It would help in the healing process.
"We must find her family. And not just to hand her over." She was unusual. Even Orion acknowledged it. From her grey hair and silver eyes to even the way she behaved and talked, she was nothing like an ordinary four year old. Trapped in a body a child, she was mature and with a good conscience. Orion recalled how the child had profusely thanked him, then apologized in a way too formal for herself.
The child was so much grown in terms of her mentality that Orion felt a pang of guilt in his heart. A child must behave and think like a child. Maturing before age was just a pity, a result of a harsh life.
He couldn't ignore the possibility of her being the white wolf. The last Goddess had indeed been reaching the end of her life.
"That we must. I think you should reconsider. Mayhap keeping her at the palace would be a better alternative to keeping her here. She would be better protected there." Elle suggested. She was sitting on the lounge, having changed into a gown provided by Orion's maid. She felt way better now, but questions kept dancing around in her curious mind. She, and the others, had reached the conclusion that the child had shown her the vision. She had simply reached out for help.
"We also need to find that filthy attacker." She didn't bother hiding her disgust or her irk in her voice.
"Our officers will rake the area. And about keeping her here, I was wondering if we should hand her over to the wolves. If she is the white wolf then we will get them off our backs. If not, even so she is a wolf, they will care for her better than us." Lord Damien walked over to the small cabinet kept beside the wall and pulled out a bottle of clear liquid from it. Sitting beside Elle, he broke the seal and drank from it.
"I beg to differ, milord." his Elle spoke from beside him. The vodka burned on it's way down and Damien wondered how Elle's blood would feel if he was ever to take from her.
"Why so, darling?" he asked for her opinion because she was the least impulsive when outside the battlefield. And her insight would be pretty useful.
"Wolves always stay in a pack, but that cottage, assuming it was owned by her family, was pretty isolated. As if they were outcasts. Mutts hold grudges milord, even against the children. If her family was indeed thrown out, they would not accept her, or worse, they might instead harm her."
A growl from Orion concluded her statement.
"She is not going there. I will only hand her to her parents, no one else!!" He declared and even as he did that, he had possessively placed a hand on the child's shoulder.
Damien was in an unsolvable dilemma. Orion was unpredictable at the most when Neeyah was concerned. He was nothing like his usual careless self when that child was involved, in his place was an always alert, protective warrior mystic who would enslave the reaper for grounding Neeyah to him. Taking the child away without his consent was not an option. Orion was capable of things which were better not aroused.
On the other hand, Elle too had a point. what if she was indeed a cast out? Wolves killed their rouges, even the innocents and the children. She would be killed the moment they saw her and recognized as the rogue that she was. Even if Damien was to sent Neeyah away somewhere, where would that be? Mayhap the orphanage? But with it's current issues, even that place wasn't safe.
Damien sighed and took a large gulp from the bottle. As his head lightened a little, he wanted Elle closer to him than she was at the moment. Without a thought he pulled her to him and placed his arm around her shoulders, caressing her arm with his fingers. She tried to slip away from him, to move where she was previously seated, with considerable distance between them.
He wouldn't have it that way.
With a rough grip on her arm, this time he pulled her in his lap and held her there with an arm around her waist, painfully holding her down to him.
"I think we should move her to the castle, and you are invited too. that way, when she wakes up we can question her in the presence of all three of us. And the castle is probably the most secure place to be found in the empire.
Damien frowned as she squirmed on his lap, more at the way she was heating up. She had a mild fever, perhaps from all the injury and recovering. Maybe also from the trauma of the child's abduction and finding her in the woods?
"Shhhh," he whispered in her ear, " I don't want to deal with your tantrums right now, we'll see about it when we reach the castle. Right now, behave." Damien kissed the shell of her ear and felt that she had more than a mild fever. She would be heating up soon. It had started.
Elle gripped her gown, her palms curling into fists on her lap. He could tell she was seething, but he was the king. He wanted her on his lap so there she would sit. He felt something close to remorse at that thought, a stab of guilt in the ungiving heart that never warmed up. It didn't feel right, to dominate her like he did with his conquests, without a care for her will.
Elle's elbow to his chest had him wheezing. He lost his breath and his hold loosened as pain made it impossible to breathe. She stood up and faced him, her fists still clenched. No words were uttered, just plain anger and clear disappointment spoke through her eyes.
He didn't like that. It was a startling thought when he realized that he didn't want her like that, as an obedient sweetheart agreeing and heeding to all his demands. He dominating her will would never be an option, her hard iron of a heart would never comply.
When he sat up straighter after a second, she had moved to the chair in the other corner, the hurt radiating off her was a suffocating cacoon around him.
Damien didn't want to have his way with her, he wanted her to let him have his way with her. Wanted her to desire for the closeness, and that anger in her eyes, he wanted to breathe it away, on her skin, like a lover would. Wanted to kiss her into oblivion just so she would forget why she was upset with him in the first place.
He wanted her more than just a temporary partner whom he never cared for, whom he often discarded once his sex needs were quenched.
It was a rather hateful and hurting realization to know that he sought in her what he once shared with Amara. That he was too far gone to not be affected by her silence and her cold shoulder, or the hurt she hid behind her strong, unyielding eyes.
For the first time since he had buried his Amara, he felt a need to apologize. To justify himself as a person rather than his actions. To cajole her into submission rather than forcing her.
Amara's ghost breathed a guilt evoking sigh behind him.