“Haven! Wait!” Awsha called after his departing form. At last there was a trace of what sounded like real fear in her voice rather than the usual arrogance, anger and smugness.
The rest of the Kindred present just shook their heads as she hurried to follow him through the door of his study. Deeming the celebration to be over, they slowly dissipated taking their respective companions with them. Claire sighed as the door of the study shut behind Awsha, and decided to go back to the cellar where Erica was still recovering from the dual assault on both her psyche as well as her physical being now as well.
“You have fifty-five minutes” was Haven’s only response as Awsha entered the room behind him.
“You can’t banish me” she pleaded, her voice breaking as he took his seat.
“I believe I just did” was his only response, busying himself with the papers atop his desk rather than looking back up at her.
“I can’t leave your territory. There is nothing outside of your territory for miles and miles. And after that, there’s just war and lack of shelter. I can’t go back east. I can’t do it” she continued.
“Then I guess you have a problem. If you don’t follow my orders, we’ll have to get rid of you in another much more permanent way. Your choice” he stated with a force to his tone that didn’t quite make it to his features.
“Haven, please. I’m your childe.”
“You’ve played that card too many times already Awsha. It won’t work anymore” he told her in the same monotone, forced though it was.
“Please, just give me a chance to prove that you can trust me again” Awsha was nearly begging at this point.
“I’ve given you countless chances. And you’ve proven that you cannot be trusted, again and again.”
“There has to be something, anything I can do to prove that I can be. I can’t be out there alone, Haven, please” she continued, biting back tears.
Haven just shook his head sadly in the face of her pleas “at this point, Awsha, there would only be one thing you could ever do to make any of us to trust you ever again.”
“Name it” she immediately responded with the slightest trace of hope, as well as wariness.
Haven sighed and watched her for a moment, noting the desperation in her eyes to not be thrown out into such an unbearably cruel world to fend for herself. Finally Haven stood and approached her. With one more sigh, almost seeming pained that this was his last resort, Haven moved to tear a gash in his wrist and hold it out to her, the answer clear.
Awsha let out a slight gasp and looked up at him once more “you want to bind me to you?” she swallowed a bit.
“It’s the only choice you’ve left us, Awsha. It’s either take your chances out there alone, disobey me and force us to give you Final Death, or submit your will to me completely. There are no other options left for you. Choose one, and choose it now” he ordered, though gently as he continued to hold his bleeding wrist out for her to willingly take, if she truly would.
“You would do this to me?” she whispered, her voice breaking once more.
“You’ve done this to yourself, Awsha” he whispered back regretfully. Then finally, through tears that matched those that Haven also forced back, Awsha finally moved to take that first sip that would surrender her ever so strong will to him at last.
Awsha was kept under constant supervision for the following two nights that it would take for Haven to fully bind her to him. Once that was done, they all attempted to relax a bit in light of one of the two threats being eradicated. But none of those involved could forget the other lurking threat of this serpent, nor could they ever let themselves assume that they had finally managed to stop Minna’s prophecy from coming to pass. It was true that Awsha would never kill Haven now for as long as that bond were in place; however, if the bond were ever allowed to dissipate, it was almost guaranteed that Haven would probably be her very first target. Then there was the even bigger fear that Awsha wasn’t the daughter from the prophecy after all. And if that were the case, then that led to an entirely new problem of trying to determine the accurate interpretation and who it was referring to, before any dark fate did come to pass.
As Claire and Sean curled into their covers and each other’s arms shortly before dawn, it was obvious that Claire was deep in thought “care to share?” Sean whispered as he placed a soft kiss upon her neck.
“Share what?” she asked as she gently traced her fingers over where his arms encircled her waist from behind.
“What deep thoughts have you so quiet?” Sean returned, with a small smile against her pale neck.
Claire sighed as she looked at the clock, knowing sunrise was nearly upon them “for a minute I was worried that maybe the daughter who murders the father wasn’t actually Awsha. I mean, she was in torpor and she was pouring her poison into Erica’s head. For a moment, I thought that maybe…” she simply shook her head.
“That maybe Erica was the daughter?” Sean returned in surprise.
“But it has to be Awsha” Claire insisted “she said that after the daughter murders the father, then you will be Prince. It had to be Haven that is the father being murdered, in order for this murder to make you Prince at all” she insisted more firmly as she rolled onto her back to look up at him.
“Well, that seems like a logical conclusion” Sean had to agree.
“But that means that this, what we’re doing now…what he’s doing now” she corrected “that it won’t last. Someday the bond will wear off and that starts all those other horrible things” she admitted worriedly.
“Well hopefully ‘someday’ is a long way off” Sean told her as he gently kissed her forehead. But before both could say more, the sun rose outside and forced them right back into that other kind of darkness once again.
When it was time for the next council meeting, Sean headed into the living room to make his way over to Haven’s home, only to be sidetracked by Erica hurrying to stop him before he exited the home “Sean, wait. Are you going to Haven’s?” she asked him warily. Though her voice shook a bit as Sean slowly turned to look back in her direction, neither of them having had much in the way of a conversation since Awsha had tried playing her little game with them.
“There’s a meeting” Sean offered, though couldn’t quite manage to look directly at her, even though her apparel was much more conservative now than it had been on a certain other night of late.
“Can I come with you?” she asked shyly.
“To the meeting?” Sean returned, only looking up at her ever so briefly.
“I just wanted to see what came in on the boats this evening, and Claire doesn’t want me going out alone after dark” she added more quietly.
“You’d either have to stay there for the whole meeting or find someone else to walk back with you” Sean stated, though there was so much distance in his tone, the words were barely audible.
After a long moment, Erica let out a sad sigh “what can I do to fix this?” she asked in a whisper.
That did do well to bring Sean’s ice blue eyes up to her face at last “Fix what?” he forced himself to ask.
“The fact that you can’t even look at me anymore” she returned, the tears threatening to be released from those deep pools of brown.
“Erica…I…” though Sean also found himself at a loss for another long moment “it’s just really difficult for me. I mean, I used to look at you as nothing but a little girl who I wanted to protect. And then I didn’t protect you well enough, and because of that Awsha tried to force me to see you in a very different way. It’s an adjustment, I guess” he admitted sadly.
“I admit that I wanna know things, and feel things. And it’s hard not to see how beautiful you are every time I look at you” she confessed “but I would never do that to Claire. Please tell me you understand that. That both of you understand that” she added as she wiped at her eyes, casting them downwards once again.
“Like you said, you’re growing up, and the only males you’re around much are me and Luke. And it’s not your fault that you can’t help seeing me, like that. It’s sort of…it happens to most people that are near us. Remember, we’re different. And maybe a little bit magic too” he had to add with a small smile.
She allowed the smallest smile, short-lived though it was “I just can’t help certain…thoughts” she decided on, “and I know the kind of things you and Claire do when you think I’m asleep” she admitted with a blush “and it just makes me even more curious. I mean, I can’t help imagining what’s really going on in there. But that doesn’t mean that I would ever….” She attempted to assure him again.
Though Sean simply smiled and cut her off “it just means that you are becoming a young woman. Of course you’re going to be curious and want to know things. It happens to the best of us” he assured with another small smile.
“I just don’t want you to think that… and when you wouldn’t even look at me…” she attempted, failing to force either thought to completion.
“Like I said, I’m adjusting to you becoming an adult, just like you are. And, neither of us is immune to making a few missteps. We’re both kind of new at this” he smiled again.
“So, you don’t hate me?”
“Never” he promised as he reached out to offer her a hug.
“Are you sure you wanna hug me, considering?” she asked with embarrassment.
“Just try and stop me” he chuckled as he moved to pull her to him in a tight embrace as he gently placed a kiss on top of her head “and don’t you ever accuse me of hating you again… or ever wear that nightgown again” he had to add, which did cause Erica to let out another loud, embarrassed laugh as their hug ended.
“Is that your first real parental order?” she asked as she smiled up at him.
“Better late than never, right?” he allowed his own chuckle as he tussled her long black curls.
“You messed up my hair” she complained with a wrinkle of her nose as she moved her hands up to push the strands back into place.
“Come on you” he chuckled again as he gestured for her to follow him over to Haven’s as she had asked to do at the beginning of their conversation.
Once Sean disappeared into the meeting room with his Kindred peers, Erica went about looking through the boxes that arrived that day. Though she couldn’t help constantly turning her brown eyes back toward the stairs that led to the second floor. As she was halfway through searching the third box of cargo for anything that caught her fancy, that’s when her whole body tensed as the stairs creaked behind her.
“Great, is it my night to babysit?” Awsha greeted her as she stepped down off the stairs.
“Why, you planning on leaving me on the cellar floor unconscious again?” Erica returned roughly.
After Erica’s near brush with death at the fangs of this woman, Claire had the task of trying to explain their existences to Erica, if for no other reason than the girl’s own safety at this point. Of course, she had to still compel her to never spill that secret, but in the long run, it was decided that she would be much safer if she knew exactly what she was dealing with around her on a nightly basis. Once the shock passed, Erica’s years of being looked after by these strange creatures did calm her enough to accept the truth about them, as strange as it truly was.
“The night is young” Awsha barked back smartly, as all she did truly have now was a bark instead of a bite.
“You tried to kill me and Claire both” Erica shot back, having much more confidence now that she knew of the recent events that led to this newly de-fanged version of the woman who had tormented her mentally for almost her entire childhood.
"Oh, are you writing my memoirs? How flattering” Awsha mumbled back as she also began looking through one of the boxes out of pure boredom.
“You messed with my head for eight years” Erica continued accusingly.
“Are you trying to flatter me?” Awsha returned, attempting to sound blasé, though she refused to let her eyes come up to see the anger on the girl’s face. That was when Erica boldly stepped forward and knocked a piece of clothing from Awsha’s hands to gain the woman’s attention once and for all “You’re really trying to push the limits of this bond, aren’t you, little girl?” Awsha growled back.
“You will listen and understand” Erica stated coldly “you tried to make me seduce the man who is the closest thing to a father I’ve ever had. Do you have any idea how demented that is?”
Awsha simply scoffed as she looked down at the girl “well, if you would have been better at it, you’d probably be thanking me right now. Feeling Sean inside you would have put you in a much better mood. Trust me on that one” she added with another wry laugh.
“What is wrong with you? Seriously?” Erica asked her in disbelief.
“Well you better hope you don’t live to find out. Which you probably won’t. There are so many terrible things that could kill you poor little mortals. Just ask your family. Oh wait, you can’t” she added callously before leaving the girl behind with those words, which was honestly the only thing she even could do anymore, and even that took a bit of will as she knew Haven would not approve. Though she was more than determined to try and find any way at all to regain her own will, if there even was any way to be found.