Ravyn's Nights - Book 2

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Chapter 11

Months passed and brought a new year and a new spring. They still had not made much progress with their pursuit of this alleged serpent, but Awsha still being out of commission at least gave them some peace. It was one of the first nights of spring when Claire left her and Sean’s room at slightly past two a.m. to enjoy a nighttime swim in the warm ocean. Sean had just moved to place that night’s chosen implements of pain back into the metal chest in their room, though he had not eaten yet for the night, so his wounds were still not completely healed. He winced slightly as he closed the chest, one of the multiple slices across his rib cage reminding him that he really should have eaten before Erica and the servants had retired for the night and he and Claire’s encounter had started.

Just as he finished locking the chest back up, now currently only dressed in his trousers, the bedroom door opened slowly. In the doorway was a now seven year old and rather sleepy looking Erica “What are you doing up?” he asked her with a smile.

“Can’t sleep. It’s too noisy” she responded as she padded into the room, doll in hand.

“Noisy?” he asked with surprise, as he had become an expert at quietly enduring the pain he asked Claire to inflict on him most nights, considering there were sleeping mortals in the home during their encounters.

Before she could offer a response, Erica’s eyes widened as she moved close enough to spy the bloody slices that were much more slowly healing due to his lack of nourishment that night.

Sean looked down worriedly as he noted the movement of her eyes “it’s ok. I just cut myself, they’re not very deep” he tried to assure her as she moved ever so slowly closer, her dark eyes still on his injuries “now what did you mean about it being too noisy?”

But Erica’s eyes only widened further as his flesh did slowly start to heal. After all, Sean still had enough blood in his system from the night before to heal, just at a slower rate than the normal instantaneous healing most Kindred normally enjoyed.

“You’re magic” she said in awe as she watched the wounds disappear before her eyes.

Sean swallowed a bit, finally coming face to face with one of those worries, surprised it had taken two years to manifest “well, Claire and I are a bit different than most people” he attempted, then moved to gently place a hand on her shoulder “but the important thing to remember is that even though we’re a little different, and we don’t want other people knowing that; we would still never hurt you. You know that right?” he added softly.

“Like you hurt the other lady?” she asked, her words throwing him more than a bit.

“I’m sorry, what?” he asked, obviously quite thrown by that statement.

“The other really pretty lady. The one who used to live with uncle Haven; Awsha” Erica returned softly.

Sean was taken further aback by a few other kinds of shock at those words “who exactly told you that I hurt Awsha?” he asked, his voice breaking a bit. Though, Erica’s only response was to look down at the floor, not offering any answer “you have to understand, Erica honey” a pause “Awsha tried to hurt Claire. I was just protecting Claire. Just like I always plan to protect you too. You understand that, right?”

“So, Awsha was bad? Like the people who hurt my family?” Erica finally asked after another moment.

“Awsha was just really upset at me one night. And she knows I love Claire, so she tried to hurt Claire because she was mad at me. And that’s why I hurt her. So she couldn’t hurt Claire again” he attempted to explain as best he could.

There was another long moment of silence before Erica spoke again “will she hurt anyone else if I make her mad?”

Sean was caught again by that “No sweetie, she’s not here anymore” he told her what was close enough to the truth, seeing as Awsha was as close to dead as possible, although even he didn’t technically know where Haven had left her actual body.

“Are you sure?” Erica asked warily.

“Why? You didn’t actually see Awsha anywhere, did you?” he asked, trying to keep the panic out of his voice.

“See her? No” Erica stated in another tiny whisper.

“Then why would you think she’s still here?” he had to know.

Erica was quiet for another moment before speaking again “I’m sleepy” she stated softly before turning out of his gentle grip on her shoulder and quickly heading back down the hall toward her own room.

When Claire returned to the house the hour was nearing three. Inside, she found Sean in the living room drumming his nails against the end table as if plagued by unspoken worries once again “I was gone less than an hour” Claire attempted her greeting as she moved toward where he sat “don’t tell me another catastrophe happened in that short of time” she dared, trying to keep her tone light.

“Just a few bits of parental strife” he replied with a sigh, though still appeared quite distracted by his thoughts.

“Parental?” Claire repeated as she sat down next to him “I thought she was in bed” she stated as she glanced back toward the hallway.

“She couldn’t sleep, came into our room shortly after you left” Sean informed “and, strife number one: she saw me heal” he added as he finally allowed his gaze to turn her way.

“Ok…not great. But not completely world-ending I hope” she responded, feeling a bit of guilt at agreeing to give Sean that pain he had wanted that night, even though she knew that he couldn’t have healed as quickly after not eating beforehand like he usually did.

“She thinks we’re magic now” he added with an attempt at a smile “I assured her that different we may be, we still would never hurt her” that’s when his voice dropped.

“Ok, that sounds like you somewhat dodged that issue” Claire stated, though her tone was questioning, as Sean still looked troubled.

“When I promised that we wouldn’t hurt her, she very eloquently asked me about ‘hurting Awsha’” he explained his distraction of the evening.

Claire was a bit caught by that, just as Sean had been “who in the world would have told her about that?”

“Exactly what I’m trying to figure out” he told her with a shrug “I asked Erica who told her that, and she didn’t answer” a slight sigh “I attempted to explain that I only hurt Awsha because she got mad at me and hurt you” he retold the conversation.

“Who told her aside, did that seem to make her feel any better?” Claire replied with her own worry.

“Not really” Sean shook his head “Erica asked me if Awsha would hurt anyone else if she made her mad too.”

“What?” Claire asked a little loudly.

“Exactly” Sean stated in the same furtive tone.

“Why would she think…? I mean…” Claire just shook her head.

“All the same questions I had” Sean returned plainly.

“This is officially strange” Claire stated the obvious “why would she ever say that, or know or think that Awsha is still a threat?”

“Again, all the same questions I have” Sean shrugged again.

“You don’t think…” Claire didn’t want to put that sentence to words.

“That Haven lied to us?” Sean forced himself to ask that unspoken question, though it pained him to do so.

“But, he wouldn’t do that. Would he?” Claire asked, desperately not wanting to believe that scenario herself.

“Every fiber of my being tells me that he wouldn’t lie to us, especially about something this serious. Plus, Awsha’s just as dangerous to him. It wouldn’t make any sense if he woke her up and was just hiding her somewhere. As if it would even be that easy to hide anyone from our kind” Sean stated all the arguments against Haven’s possible betrayal. Though there was still the tiniest sliver of doubt in his eyes.

“So, what’s an alternate explanation?” Claire asked, obviously trying to come up with one in her own mind too.

“I mean maybe she had a dream about Awsha or something, and got confused, but…” Sean just ended his theory there.

“But how could a dream let her know about what you did to Awsha the night she attacked me?” Claire replied.

“Unless someone else actually did tell her about that night. But why would they even?” Sean asked, though the question was fairly rhetorical.

“So, either someone is trying to turn our not-daughter against us, or…” Claire shook her head.

“Or?” Sean pressed.

“Or maybe she’s psychic” Claire allowed, though quite quietly.

Sean just let out a scoff “Please, not another one of those” he stated, though more in a mumble.

“Plus I think it would be pretty damn coincidental if the only human in the group here actually did have that ability. Wouldn’t it?” Claire asked for reassurance.

“So, we have another enemy or a new psychic” he just shook his head “I really don’t think I like either of those ideas but…” he then had a thought “You’ve looked at Minna’s aura, right?”

Claire’s brow furrowed “yes, but not sure what that has to do with anything.”

“No, I just mean, you’ve seen how it flashes and changes all the time. It’s all over the place” Sean attempted to further explain.

“Well she is a little…. Different” Claire settled on.

“Yes, I know that” he attempted another smile “I just mean that if Erica had some kind of psychic ability, wouldn’t hers look like that too?”

Claire then sighed in resignation as she couldn’t refute his observation. Just to be sure though, she readjusted her vision once more as she looked back in the direction of Erica’s room “nope, no crazy light show” she admitted quietly a moment later.

“So, someone else told her about my confrontation with Awsha then. Who the hell would want to make our own… who would want to make Erica distrustful or afraid of us?” he corrected as he struggled for the answer.

“Awsha” Claire stated with further resignation.

“Yes, that’s the only answer I can come up with too. But obviously, there must be someone else doing this” he reiterated as he shook his head again. This mystery was definitely getting to both of them at this point.

Claire then sighed again as she moved to lay down on the couch next to him, letting her head come to rest on his leg “it’s been 104 years. Can’t we have one easy night?” she sighed sadly.

“I guess the universe doesn’t want us to get bored” Sean attempted a smirk as his hand instinctively wrapped itself in her long beautiful locks again.

“I think I’d prefer some boredom once in a while” Claire added with another soft sigh.

Sean was quiet for another long moment as they sat together, his hand gently caressing her hair, before he finally emboldened himself enough to make his next suggestion “I think we may need to use some, less than benevolent” he decided on “methods in order to figure out who is plotting to turn the little one against us.”

That was when Claire rolled onto her back to look up at him “what methods would those be?” she asked a little worriedly.

“You know how Haven has insinuated that he can read thoughts?” Sean broached the subject, which caused Claire to tense a bit.

“But if, for some crazy reason, Haven actually is the one hiding Awsha’s actual state from us…” Claire worried.

“I honestly don’t think he is. But, just in case, I wasn’t really suggesting we ask Haven to read the others’ minds” he said more quietly.

“Then what are you suggesting?” Claire asked as she finally moved to sit up next to him once again.

Sean swallowed a moment before answering “I could probably do it. If I tried hard enough” he added more quietly, though Claire’s immediate tension was not unnoticed by him.

Without giving him a chance to question that tension of hers, Claire quickly spoke up “but would you really wanna violate someone’s mind like that. I mean, seeing their feelings, that’s one thing. But every one of their deepest thoughts? Would you really want to do that?” she asked with a bit of shock.

Trying not to respond to Claire’s very obvious fear that he could indeed train his mind to rip out all the secrets of another’s, Sean attempted to offer what little assurance he could “I know it’s not a pleasant solution, Claire. But if one of our peers is trying to take away Erica’s trust and love from us, wouldn’t that be worth it to stop it from happening?”

Claire stood as she turned away, gnawing at a nail “but we don’t even know if that’s really what’s going on here” she argued, though weakly.

“Which is why I’m even contemplating resorting to such a thing” he reiterated.

“But, digging secrets out of someone else’s head, Sean?” she shook her head, almost panicked by the thought “you could see things inside people’s heads that you don’t wanna see; That you could never unsee. Do you really wanna open yourself up to that?” she pleaded, trying her hardest to get him to reconsider training his mind to ever master that terrifying ability.

“But if seeing inside another’s head could help us save our…. Save a child” Sean forced himself to restate “it would be worth it, wouldn’t it?” he pleaded, wishing upon wish that Claire herself, human though she was at the time, could have somehow saw inside his own head and saw what would have happened that night when she accidentally tasted his blood. If she had been able to do that, or if he had been able to admit what he had become just a little earlier than he did, then so much would have been so very different for both of them; for all three of them.

Though Claire could offer no more words as she rushed from the room. All she knew then was that she would rather die than have him know that she had let him kill their own child all those years ago. She couldn’t bear the thought of him ever discovering the greatest sin of her entire life, human and Kindred years included. If he could rip that one horrible memory out of her head, she knew that he would never be able to forgive her; just as she’d never been able to forgive herself.

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