Ravyn's Nights - Book 1

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Chapter 52

~1672~

Sean and Claire had now spent nearly fifty years there in London, running that little theatre and making it more and more successful with each passing decade. Of course, this was after they had slowly managed to pull themselves over the stumbling block that was the night Claire went against Sean’s wishes and embraced her first childe, and former lover, Aidan Tudor. Once Sean finally managed to forgive her for putting herself in such mortal danger that night, the two easily became a near unstoppable force pursuing their love for the arts and turning their theatre into something that made them proud, and made their Prince even richer.

Of course, there were other obstacles that came with spending six decades in the same home, in the same city, but these they also managed to traverse. One of the obvious problems was not letting any humans get too close, or get to know them too well, or see them too often. Such a problem was made more difficult by the fact of there being crowds of humans there under their roof on more nights than not. In order to counteract the fact that they were often surrounded by strangers, they put certain fail safes into action.

Firstly, they installed their blood bound servants as theatre managers, switching them out every five to ten years, and letting those ‘managers’ assume the guise of having the full authority of each and every theatre operation. When, in actuality, nothing was done without getting Sean’s or Claire’s express approval before any business-related action was taken.

At the same time, neither Sean nor Claire wanted to fall back into their old prison of having to stay completely hidden from the world. After all, that was the reason they ultimately decided to come to a place like London in the first place. They did manage to find ways to keep from becoming prisoners of their own success, though. The main way was by still being involved in various theatre operations, other than just ownership and handling of any profits. For example, Sean was responsible for the writing of most every piece of prose or music that had ever been performed on their stage, while Claire was responsible for all aspects involving the makeup or costume of the performers. Of course, even being involved in only minor portions of the operation, precautions still needed to be taken, aside from just the blood bound servants being the public faces of the theatre.

One of their precautions was that they never had any production run for more than two weeks, at the most. Therefore, the number of patrons as well as actors that were in their presence for very long would be limited and soon replaced as soon as the next production started. Though, this did have an adverse effect on their profits for any particularly successful shows that could have run for months or even years, it was a price they were willing to pay to keep their existences secret. Of course, Griffyn also was unhappy with them limiting their profits in such a way. However, as the Prince, Griffyn’s number one concern, above all others, was to uphold the Masquerade for all his subjects, so it was a price he had to be willing to pay as well.

Those sixty years since leaving English court seemed almost too good to be true to either of them on most nights. Though they were thankful to have those six decades of success and happiness, together, both Sean and Claire never allowed themselves to become completely comfortable or complacent in their new lives. Both knew that there would inevitably be some obstacle or another they would have to overcome sooner or later.

On this night, it came in the form of an obstacle they had thought they had overcome already. It was a quiet night in the theatre as Claire worked backstage on the costumes for the next production, which they hadn’t even started the casting for as of yet. Sean was upstairs in their personal living quarters, making last minute changes to a musical number for the next show they were planning.

Claire’s fingers stopped their reworking of a particularly stubborn stitch as her heightened senses caught the sound of boots crunching in the London snow on the street in front of the theatre. Though it was a busy street, the hour is what made the sound stand out, as it was already nearing eleven p.m. As she turned at the sound of the footsteps nearing the theatre doors, she let the costume slip from her fingers as she got an even stranger sensation then. Though she had no inkling of who was approaching the theatre house that night, she couldn’t help shaking some sense of the familiar as the knock came at the front doors.

The odd feeling was one that she could only compare to when Sean returned after a rare trip away from their home. However, since Sean was already there in their home, the feeling did do well to throw her more than a bit. She then attempted to brush the feeling away and compose herself long enough to solve the mystery of who indeed was at their doors that night after all, as she moved slowly through the stage doors, and across the theatre itself to go and discover who this odd visitor may have been.

When she passed by the last row of seats and under the arch that led to the lobby and ticket booth, she decided to play it safe before moving to greet her visitor. Though most of her mental powers had fallen into disuse of late, she still managed to once again call upon her aura-seeing ability, which even worked through walls, in much the way an animal’s night vision would warn them of any predators or prey through miles of woodland.

As she adjusted her vision to see the visitor’s aura through the door, she then easily discovered that she had not one, but two visitors that night. And even more strangely than that, one of those two was indeed a fellow Kindred. She swallowed a bit as her mind easily returned to that sense of familiarity she had gotten as soon as she became aware of this visitor’s presence at all. Not easily able to think of any Kindred who might want to pose a threat to her or Sean, she decided, or at least hoped, that it was more likely to be an ally than a foe.

On that thought, she squared her shoulders and moved the remaining distance across the lobby to open the doors to whoever it may be. As the door creaked open, she was more than a little caught by being greeted by the smiling face of none other than the childe she had made sixty years ago. Though Aidan smiled as though glad to see her once more, her own thoughts immediately went to the fact that making the childe who now stood before her nearly cost her her husband, as well as her very life.

As an added blow to her composure, she was also struck by the presence of his chosen companion that night. The human female he was with didn’t look much older than nineteen, if that, and she was easily one of the most strikingly beautiful women Claire had ever laid eyes on. Due to her very nature, Claire was struck into silence for several long moments, not even hearing Aidan’s greeting as her eyes moved from her childe to his beautiful companion.

“Claire?” Aidan stated more loudly, as though he had to repeat the name more than once before gaining her attention, which she finally pulled back to him after several long moments “Or is it Margaret now?” he had to add with another smile once he finally had her attention.

“Margaret?” she repeated, obviously still a bit shaken by both of her visitors and not immediately registering his meaning behind calling her by another name.

‘Isn’t that the name you took when you rewrote history about twelve years back?” he smiled again, seeming to speak with a healthy dose of admiration that went beyond that he already felt for a woman who had already been both his sire and his lover in decades past.

‘Rewrote history?” Claire returned quietly, still trying to compose herself in the face of that past coming back to haunt her, as well as trying to ignore the distracting beauty of the young woman who stood shivering a bit in the winter night next to Aidan.

“You were the first woman who was ever allowed on stage” the young woman piped up at last, also sharing her own admiration with the stunning smile she graced on Claire, “I’d say that’s pretty huge” she added for weight. Her enthusiasm made it even more obvious that she spoke with no trace of the British accent possessed by Aidan and nearly everyone else Claire had met in her seventy years on English soil.

Claire was caught again by the statement. It somehow hadn’t occurred to her that twelve years after the strange events that led to her aforementioned accomplishment, a girl who had to have been a mere child at the time, would be so affected by it. On that thought, Claire then allowed her own smile.

“Most people don’t still recognize me, or remember that” she said softly. Though she had always thought that that had been a good thing, considering her and Sean’s need for anonymity. At the time, her arm had to nearly be twisted to get her to even go up on that stage at all. Though she had always loved the arts, Sean was the one much more comfortable with performing, as she was just content to bask in the glow of his talent for nearly a century now. Nearly a century. That thought did well to catch her as well, as the eighty-six years she and Sean had been together had never ever felt that long to either of them.

“You’re shivering dear” Aidan turned his attention to the young woman as he moved to place an arm around her, despite the fact that he had no real body heat with which to warm her. The gesture itself was merely an act of chivalry ingrained in him after spending years trying to live down his father’s illegitimacy in the court.

“How rude of me” Claire said apologetically as she moved back from the doorway, “Please, come in.”

“So, is it Margaret now?” Aidan asked after Claire politely led them to one of the sofas that dotted the sides of the lobby.

“That was mainly a stage name” she stated as she looked down, only taking a seat after her companions did first. “Sean and I were never really sure how well my appearance on the stage would be taken, so we took that precaution before the show ever was released to the public” she explained quietly.

“Well, it was obviously taken well. You have a fan right here” Aidan smiled as he gestured to the woman whose shivering had finally begun to subside.

Claire looked down again, almost as though to blush, though of course, she could do no such thing “You’re embarrassing me” she smiled, “Should I be worried you’re going to ask for an autograph next?” she added lightheartedly.

“I would love one” the girl beamed over at her.

“Really?” Claire asked, her smile remaining, nervous thought it was.

“Yes really” the girl returned as she moved to the ticket booth and picked up a program that still remained there from the last production.

Claire looked down again as she moved to take the quill from the nearby guest book, “Who should I make it out to then?” she asked, not able to stop her nervous laugh at getting such recognition and admiration.

“My name’s Awsha.”

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