When Awsha did return to the theatre again the next night she was not accompanied by either Haven or Aidan for a change. However, the atmosphere there that night was much more somber than it had been in decades. Sean and Claire were both in mourning over the news of Ana’s and Chantarell’s deaths, though each chose to cope separately. After all, Claire had lost her closest friend, as well as the first person she had ever trusted enough to be intimate with, outside of her marriage, that was. While for Sean, what he had lost was the very last tie to any mortal family he had ever known at all, as well as the sister who he had literally given his life to save all those years ago. Though this time, neither he nor his sire was able to save that sister or her mother.
Claire stayed upstairs trying to force her mind to focus on the costumes for the next production, while Sean took a spot atop the stage writing and rewriting scenes as none were to his liking on that particular night. When Awsha did enter the theatre, he barely cast a glance her way, as he just continued to scribble out his own words over and over again, trying desperately to hold his grief in check, especially now that she was there in his presence once again.
“You’ve seemed happier” was her quiet greeting as she slowly approached the stage through the darkened rows of seats. However, despite the quietness of her voice, there was more confidence to it as well that night.
Sean pushed emotion out of his own voice before returning her greeting, while still not yet letting himself even look up to take in her beauty on that particular night, “Haven brought ill news from the new world last night. It’s made it somewhat hard to be jovial right now” Sean stated simply, though so quietly he would not have been surprised if her hearing hadn’t caught all of his words. But somehow he didn’t want to bother repeating them even if she had asked him to.
“About your sister’s death?” she spoke quietly as she moved up the steps to the stage where he was still seated, pages of script spread about him.
Her knowledge of that event did do well to stall his hand from its scribbling for a moment, though he still wouldn’t let himself look up to take in her appearance that night. It was almost as though he was afraid that seeing her beauty would make him forget his grief, and he did not want to let go of that sadness that quickly; Chantarell deserved more reverence than that.
As Sean made no verbal response or even looked up at her, Awsha paused only another moment before then moving to take a seat a few feet in front of him as well, despite the long skirt that hiked its way up over her boots and to her bare knees as she did.
Sean swallowed again as her new location made it impossible for him not to notice the exposure of pale skin below the now much higher hemline. Though he still refused to make eye contact or even speak any more words at that moment.
Awsha was quiet as she watched him for a few more moments before finally speaking up again, “I know there’s no way to replace your sister and what she may have meant to you, but if it’s any comfort at all,” another pause to brace herself, “Haven’s made you a new one” she confessed in a quiet voice, but through a smile nonetheless.
With those words, Sean’s eyes did immediately snap up to her face at last, the surprise and confusion apparent on his equally beautiful features “what did you say?” he asked shakily. Though before she even could verbally answer his question, her aura told him the truth of her words.
Awsha continued to wear her smile as she looked down only briefly before speaking again “that’s why I’ve been so scarce in recent nights. He embraced me” she repeated as her smile widened, “I’m like you now” she couldn’t help adding joyfully.
Sean was at a loss for words for another moment before finally settling on “I didn’t realize you had been with him so long.”
“A few months” she smiled as she answered, though Sean’s face showed more than a bit of shock at her answer, “why? How long did you know him before he embraced you?”
“Me? Fifteen years” he admitted, “and my sister, and her mother, they’d been with him since the 1560s, and he never…” he just shook his head and attempted to force a smile rather than finish the sentence.
“Well, I’m glad he didn’t wait that long” Awsha smiled once more, “now I no longer have to feel like an outsider here, with you. We’re the same now” she repeated once more.
As the months progressed, Sean and Awsha grew increasingly closer during all their late nights rehearsing until each and every line, step, or note was perfect. As she had officially become his muse, Sean began giving Awsha increasingly larger roles in each consecutive production.
Then, that autumn Sean had written a particularly risqué play, and could see no other actress playing the female lead. Hence, it was given to Awsha without any others even being considered for it. Then, two nights before the play was to open, the male lead mysteriously went missing and sent the entire cast and crew into a bit of a panic, as there was no one else who knew the role or could play it nearly as well as that young actor, except perhaps Sean, himself.
Claire looked on with much more worry than Awsha seemed to have as Sean spent the whole of the night before the opening trying to find a replacement. When the last actor was auditioned, it was already nearly dawn, and still no adequate replacement had been found. As the last exhausted actor left the theatre slightly before dawn, Sean slumped down into a seat in the row in front of where his wife and his muse both sat watching the night’s rehearsals with two completely opposite reactions. Claire was obviously worried that the show would have to be cancelled after weeks of work and expenses. While Awsha, on the other hand, seemed to have not a worry in the world as she allowed a little smile as the last actor flubbed the scene and left in disappointment.
“You don’t seem particularly worried about the possibility that your very first starring role may be in a play we now have to cancel” Claire couldn’t stop herself from pointing out when she saw a look that almost resembled contentment on Awsha’s beautiful face. And of course Claire was unable to hide her animosity for the young woman at that point, especially after spending months watching Sean fawn over the now seemingly permanent addition to their previously contented lives there.
“Don’t be so dramatic, Claire. You’re not the actress anymore, after all” she had to add with another small smile before adding “and we don’t have to cancel the play. There is still one person who can play the role, and play it perfectly” she stated confidently.
That was when Sean and Claire both looked back at her still smiling face, “You don’t mean…” Claire began as she turned her eyes toward Sean as a non-verbal ending for her question.
“Who better to play the role to perfection than the man who wrote it and taught it to our now missing lead actor?” Awsha stated simply.
Sean forced his expression to remain blank while attempting to find a fitting response in the last few moments they still had until dawn would put an abrupt end to the discussion for all of them. Though, Claire had better luck at loosening her tongue, “we have to be extremely careful about letting ourselves be seen in public much at all, let alone on a stage in front of a crowded room. All of us” she added as she pointedly looked back at Awsha.
“You were on stage for one production, twelve years ago, and as you said yourself, no one even remembers you. One night surely won’t be that detrimental. Right Sean?” she asked, turning that sugary sweet smile back to him as she spoke.
When opening night did happen, it turned out that ‘detrimental’ was more than an understatement. It was true that Sean was perfect in the role, and a thousand times more beautiful and talented than even the man who was originally cast. There was also the fact that he and Awsha’s chemistry was nearly tangible, even before the final scene. Then came that final scene at last, the one Claire had been dreading ever since finding out that Sean would be the one in it with Awsha that night.
It was their love scene of course, and it was beyond memorable. The scene involved the male character taking the female while she wore a long skirt so that the sex would only be implied of course. In order to still make it believable though, Awsha’s costume included an undergarment intended to look as much like bare flesh as possible to those seated nearest the stage.
However, when the scene began, Sean moved to lift her skirt, only to find that a certain piece of her costume had been dispensed with that night. Only those closest would even be able to note that something was missing, and only if they expected it enough to even look that closely. More than a little thrown by the discovery, Sean nonetheless had to force his composure to remain as he quickly improvised to cover the mistake before anyone could notice it. The scene itself was supposed to involve him taking her up against the wall. Though instead, upon seeing what he now saw, he rewrote the scene in his head on the spot, and moved to set her atop the nearby table, her back to the audience rather than the side view that had originally been intended in the script.
Awsha couldn’t help smiling against him as he readjusted their positioning while using every bit of willpower to continue the scene. As he delivered the kisses to her neck that were penned in the script, she whispered against his ear, “Now they can’t see you either” and with that she moved her hands to his pants and began undoing those as well, knowing her motions would remain hidden from anyone who wasn’t standing at the side of the stage or behind it.
As her hands pulled Sean from his trousers, he immediately could feel that she had indeed made herself ready to do a lot more than just pretend to make love to him. Feeling that wetness as she pulled his hips to hers, Sean’s long held desire for her took over as he allowed himself to bring his own body to life as well, making no move to stop her as she used her hand to slide him inside her and then continued with the most convincing stage performance of either of their lives.
Though as the scene continued, there in front of hundreds of eyes, even their acting ability fell short as their mutual pleasure became very real. So real, in fact, that murmurs began rising from the front row and quickly worked their way back through the rest of the auditorium as many patrons began getting increasingly suspicious of what exactly was happening up there.
From her spot behind the stage, Claire’s shock finally made way enough for her to order the crew to dim the lights and lower the curtains. After all, it was the final scene, and now it was most likely going to be the last scene ever performed on that stage after that particular night.
As soon as the lights went down, the crowd started shuffling loudly out of the theatre with more than a few shocked conversations going on amongst them. Sean and Awsha were finally startled out of their passionate lovemaking once that curtain fell and they finally moved apart and begun reordering their clothing, whilst Claire could be heard backstage, very loudly ordering each and every member of the cast and crew to go home immediately.
“What the hell were you thinking?” was Claire’s furious greeting as she stormed onto the stage a moment after ordering everyone else home.
“We were just doing the scene” Awsha feigned innocence while still pulling her long skirts back down around her ankles.
“You’re not that good of an actress” Claire spat back, her attention centering on Sean, awaiting his explanation.
“It wasn’t exactly planned” was the only response Sean could manage at that point.
“Is that seriously your excuse?” Claire nearly hissed.
“Can I just ask a question?” Awsha interrupted, still feigning that innocent tone.
“You’re still here?” Claire glared back at her.
Ignoring Claire’s rage, Awsha continued with her question “why is it fine for you to fornicate with Aidan, and all your ghouls, but this isn’t?”
Claire let out a sound of disbelief that matched her anger at that point “as if I even need to justify that?” she scoffed, though continued “whatever we may or may not have done with other lovers, it was never as unacceptable as this was!”
Sean continued to look down, refusing to contribute much to either side of the conversation right then. Though Awsha did continue “I’d think this would be a million times more acceptable. After all, I am one of you now.”
Claire shook her head with disbelief again, and even Sean seemed a bit perplexed by that being the only response Awsha took away from this entire scenario. Through gritted teeth, Claire continued onwards, “This is not about whether you’re an acceptable match or not! This is about drawing that kind of attention to us! Have you not one inkling of what you’ve really done here, either of you?” she exclaimed even more loudly, as her eyes moved to Sean as well, her patience for any part of this night completely gone at that point.
“Couldn’t have said it better myself, Claire” a male voice startled them all from where he had quietly made his way from his previously held balcony seat to now join them there on the darkened and now curtained stage.
At once, all their eyes turned to the owner of the voice, who was none other than their Prince, Griffyn.