Despite his dramatic exit earlier in the evening, Sean’s own worry did not let him stay away from Claire for any more than a few hours, and even those were unbearably long for him. He had hoped that by his refusal to stay there and watch her go through with her plans, that maybe she would come to her senses and not go through with them at all. However, after the first few hours since he had left the room, and still had not heard anything on the matter, his panic set in even more firmly.
Rather than ‘not going through with it,’ Claire actually had taken the opposite approach: ‘Getting it over with as quickly as possible,’ especially since she knew that she could very well need that entire night to train Aidan in how to safely feed, assuming she even made it to that point, at all.
When Sean gave into his fears over his stubbornness, he did move back to the room quickly only a few hours after having left it. Though upon opening that door again, his motions were halted immediately by the scene before him. Inside that luxurious bedroom, he found Fiona dropped limply into a chair near the bed, her long locks haphazardly fallen from the tight knot they had been wrapped in upon her arrival. She was now unconscious, and much paler than she had been when he had last seen her. Two separate trails of blood, originating from the puncture wounds in her neck, now drifted together into one stream, staining the front of the dark blue dress she had arrived in that night.
As disheartening as that sight was, it was the bed near Fiona’s resting place that was what truly drew Sean’s attention. Atop that bed, Aidan clung desperately to Claire, his arms around her thin waist, his head laying against her neck as he held her tightly, looking more than distraught by the whole of the night’s events. Claire herself also appeared to be unconscious while lying there beneath his grip, which caused even more panic to envelope Sean, before his keen eyesight finally detected the way her fingers weakly tangled in Aidan’s dark curls as he continued to hold her tight against him.
Seeing that tiny motion of her pale fingers was enough to finally return Sean’s wits to him, as he found his voice at last, speaking hoarsely to the one of the three who somehow seemed to be in the best condition at that point, “Aidan…”
Caught inside his own head at that point in time, Aidan seemed startled by the sound of Sean’s voice as he then forced himself to lift his head and turn his eyes toward the doorway, where Sean still stood.
“Sean.” Aidan croaked the word more than spoke it as he forced himself to gently relinquish his grip on Claire and carefully push himself up from the bed next to her. Though, when he did move from her at last is when Claire’s own injuries were made apparent.
There, below where he had been resting his head against her pale neck, there were another set of matching, still unhealed fang marks, along with her own trail of blood seeping over the swell of her breasts above the corset she wore that night.
Sean’s eyes immediately moved from Aidan back to Claire as he caught sight of that trail of red contrasting so startlingly against her snow-colored flesh. Though Aidan soon forced more of his own words, “She’s still alive Sean. I didn’t kill her.” he assured in a whisper as he managed to take a slow, sad step away from the bed before turning his eyes worriedly to his own wife, “I haven’t checked to see, yet if…” though he didn’t manage to finish the sentence.
“Your wife’s also alive, though barely.” Sean managed in the continued whisper, his own eyes not able to move from Claire, themselves, “Take Fiona to Griffyn.” Sean swallowed a bit as he allowed himself to move closer to where Claire remained unmoving atop the bed, barely conscious, herself, “Tell him she needs to forget. He’ll know what that means.”
“But what about Claire?” Aidan managed.
“Go. Now.” Sean repeated more firmly, his eyes never once moving from his own wife throughout his instructions.
Aidan simply nodded, knowing not to prod Sean for even one more moment at that particular point in time. He then moved to gently lift Fiona’s tiny and limp frame into his arms and nodded once more back at where Sean paid no heed to him, before Aidan finally moved to carry the other woman from the room, as instructed.
The raise in Sean’s voice on his last order to Aidan did cause the slightest bit of awareness to seep into Claire’s mind as she turned her head ever so slightly towards the sound of that voice, forcing her eyes to weakly open once more, “Sean.” she managed, the name nearly dying in her throat before she forced it out.
His own voice shook more than a bit as he moved closer, “Claire, please don’t try and move too much.” he whispered.
“I’m….I’m fine.” she forced more words as she attempted to sit up in the bed, the weakness in her voice belying her words almost as much as the way her entire body trembled weakly in the effort it even took to sit up, a clear sign that nearly all of what blood she had had in her system was very nearly gone now.
“No, you’re not Claire.” he whispered as he moved to the bed next to her, trying not to jostle her obviously weakened body any more as he did, “He took so much from you, you’re not even healing, let alone, barely able to move, at all. You are not fine, by any means.” he scolded through his own building tears as he took her limp hand in his own.
“I did though…I stopped him, before he killed me.” she managed, “But Fiona…he went for her and…I tried to pull him off her, before he… but I was just so….” her voice trailed off, not even able, then to form the tears that were obvious in her own voice.
“She’s alive too, Claire, though barely, and still unconscious, but alive.” Sean attempted to quell her unspoken fears as he squeezed her hand once more.
“She is?” she attempted a weak smile, though even forming it seemed to take more effort than she could muster right then, as keeping herself conscious at all seemed to be draining what was left of all that strength she normally would have had.
“God, Claire.” he whispered, though only shook his head rather than adding any more to his statement. Instead he simply moved closer, tearing his wrist with his own fangs once more, as he had done before, those fifteen years ago, to bring her back from that death that she was so close to once again this night.
“Sean…” she managed as he moved his wrist to her lips.
“Drink, Claire. You’re not healing…You have to.”
She simply turned her eyes to his, then closed them for the briefest moment, against those still unformed tears, before giving in, and finally drinking deeply from his vein, letting his blood bring her back to their world, once again.
When they awoke at the next night’s sunset, Claire was in much better condition than she had been the previous night. She smiled weakly back at Sean, who remained silent as she changed out of the blood stained clothing she had still been wearing as she had fallen asleep next to him that morning. After his eyes unwaveringly watched as she disrobed and then dressed herself again in another beautiful crushed velvet gown with the corset built in, Sean finally pulled his eyes from her long enough to rise from the bed as well, just as she finished tying the bodice shut.
“I was so out of it last night, I don’t even know…is Aidan all right?” she asked Sean softly as he moved from the bed at last.
“He was doing a lot better than either you, or his wife.” Sean replied, though he did so while forcing all emotions out his voice. “I’m sure Griffyn wants to see us now.” he added with brevity as he simply nodded to her before moving to the door once again.
Claire looked down sadly at the way in which he spoke in such a monotone, despite the emotion of the previous night, but she said nothing as she simply sighed and forced herself to move through the door behind him in silence.
When they did reach Griffyn’s throne, he barely acknowledged their arrival as he remained in his seat, sipping at a chalice of red liquid. As he allowed another sip, he finally moved his eyes over to them a few moments after their arrival, speaking up at last, “I see you both managed to remain in one piece.” was his only greeting.
Claire was the one who spoke up first, though quietly, “Is Aidan well, also?”
Griffyn just smirked at her concern, but allowed a response, “He just left.”
“Left?” she repeated.
“To go back to court.” Griffyn surprisingly provided her with further information, though emotionlessly, as he always seemed to speak.
“Already?” she asked with obvious surprise.
“You got him through the frenzy, sloppily as it was, you still did your duty as his sire. Now he’s on his own.” Griffyn stated, unconcerned.
“But there’s so much more he still has to learn…” she argued, though easily checked herself, considering her audience.
Griffyn just shook his head with another smirk, “The point was to have a member of my clan remain at court, and that’s where he’s going. End of story.” he added with the slightest shrug.
“And us?” Sean finally interrupted.
“Yes, you.” Griffyn stated thoughtfully as he took another sip, “That is the question now, isn’t it?”
Sean took that opportunity to speak once again, “Well, if you somehow haven’t already planned out the next decade of our lives,” he began, though forced himself to stifle the bitterness his tone had adopted throughout the sentence, “I have a suggestion.”
Griffyn just shook his head at both Sean’s words and tone, “The two of you are just full of suggestions and plans, aren’t you?”
“Not as many as we had, when we first arrived here.” Sean replied coolly, then moved on, “Over the last decade though, there were some nights that I didn’t need to be present, as the king was in meetings or such, so I had time to explore this new home of ours.”
“And?” Griffyn returned with only a slight curiosity peeking through his tone.
“Spending a decade in the employ of the royal family has provided me with a bit more resources than I had upon my arrival here. And there is a growing town not more than an hour’s ride from here. In that town is a very small theatre that I would like to purchase.”
Griffyn raised a brow at Sean’s request as Claire looked over at him with more than a bit of her own surprise, being the first time she had heard Sean speak of these plans, not that she had had much contact with him at all over the last several years.
“Would you now?” Griffyn returned.
“I now have the experience I would need to provide entertainment fit for the masses, and the building itself has an unused top floor, which could be made into a home, of sorts, at least for the time being.” Sean continued plainly.
“And the obvious question here, is what do I have to gain by pushing through the purchase of a property for someone whose real name, or identity, or birth date, should never be attached to any documents of any kind?”
Sean sighed, though expected such a question, “A percentage of all the profits we make, not to mention drawing more people to the town, therefore adding to your own resources, of a certain sort.” Sean provided his answer.
Griffyn narrowed his eyes as he thought on the proposal, “You still are both greatly indebted to me, so expect that percentage to be very large, indeed. And do not think I won’t call on you again for other favors.”
“I would expect no less.” Sean returned with a slight bow of his head.
Sean then left Griffyn to make whatever arrangements would need to be made, Claire moving quickly to keep up with Sean’s own pace as he left the room.
“A theatre?” she spoke up as she continued following him, “And he’s going along with it?” she added with an attempt at a smile, “This is like our dreams are coming true, finally.” she added with another smile.
That was when Sean finally stopped his forward motion to look back down at her, offering a response at last, “So, this makes you happy, then?”
“It sounds perfect, Sean, of course it makes me happy…” seeing that he had still not returned her own smile, “If it makes you happy, too, that is.” she had to add a little warily, in regards to the darkness that still remained in his mood.
Sean just scoffed, “So, now you worry about my happiness?” he stated, the words and tone both stunning her with their harshness.
Claire just shook her head, trying to find some response, “I’ve always cared about your happiness, Sean.” she whispered, though weakly.
“Oh, except for last night, right?” he returned with remaining bitterness.
Claire sighed as she cast her eyes downwards before replying, “You know that I did that so that we could be together. I don’t know how many more ways I can say it, Sean.”
Sean shook his head back down at her, “I begged you not to go through with it, and you did it anyway. And you very nearly died, very, very nearly died because of it!” he added in an even harder tone, “How would that have ever made me happy, Claire?” he growled the question back at her, but could say no more as he just turned and moved down the hall away from her once more.