Ravyn's Nights - Book 2

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Chapter 40

When Haven awoke the next evening, he sadly cast a glance down the hall toward Awsha’s room before heading for the stairs with a sigh. He was just about to head into his study to try and be alone with his thoughts when he turned his eyes toward the door of the studio that Sean had spent so much time in during the times when he had lived under Haven’s roof. Moving to the door, Haven once again found Sean in the room. Inside, Sean was tossing various forgotten pieces of his art into a large box, barely acknowledging Haven’s presence even though he had sensed it as always.

“Did you stay here today?” Haven asked after waiting a moment for Sean to turn from his task, which he did not.

“Didn’t have anywhere else to bother going” was Sean’s mumbled response as he continued haphazardly throwing paintings and prose into the box, not seeming to be overly worried about damaging any of them.

“Don’t tell me your house fell into a hole again” Haven asked wryly, despite the obvious darkness that came to mind at that memory.

“You want me to leave or something?” Sean returned, though still did not bother looking back.

“You do realize that your behavior does at times make it very difficult for me to avoid doing things I know you don’t like me doing?” Haven returned as he narrowed his eyes at his eldest childe.

“Whatever Haven” Sean mumbled as he continued filling the box with even more force to his motions.

Haven just shook his head a moment, curbing the urge that he had just threatened to indulge, for now “You never even stayed around after telling me what had happened with Awsha last night” he began.

“I told my Prince when there was a threat to him. I did my duty. And I left” Sean added plainly.

Haven shook his head at the lack of emotion that colored each of Sean’s responses, while being belied by the force of his tossing away all the remnants of various parts of his past life “You’re not even curious as to what’s to be done with your little sister now?”

“Well, did you kill her?” Sean stated with another surprising lack of emotion.

“That’s usually not the first course of action I generally take. Which I’m pretty sure you already knew” Haven returned, continuing to narrow his eyes at Sean, and finding it ever more difficult to keep from reaching into his mind on his own.

“No kidding” Sean returned in a mumble.

“That’s usually not the first course of action any of our clan take. Which I’m also sure you know” Haven added pointedly.

“Yeah, and look how great our lives now are thanks to us all trying so hard to keep all that fucking humanity” Sean added coolly.

Haven was a bit caught by that but forced a response “so you’re not curious to know what’s become of Awsha at all?” he asked, continuing to watch Sean ever more carefully then.

“If she’s not dead, or soon to be dead, then there’s nothing to say. At least nothing you’d want to hear” Sean added more quietly.

Haven allowed another concerned sigh “are you saying that you truly believe that killing one of our own is the course of action we should actually be taking?” he had to know if that was indeed Sean’s opinion.

“I’m saying that if you would have let me kill her forty-seven years ago; none of this shit storm would even be happening right now” Sean told him bluntly, his eyes finally moving back to his sire at that statement.

Haven swallowed a bit, averting his own eyes then “I’m not sure what I can honestly say to that, Sean.”

“If what you say is anything other than ‘yeah you’re right. That bitch should be dead.’ Then it’s nothing I want to hear either” Sean finished plainly as he retrieved the box and pushed past Haven and out of the room.

It took a long moment for Haven to compose himself in the eyes of Sean’s coldness, but finally forced his feet to follow his childe into the main room. There, he found Sean stoking the flames of the fireplace before tossing that entire box of his artwork and other creations into those flames.

“Sean, what are you…?” Haven began; though his voice trailed off instead. Though seeing that Sean offered no response, simply staring at the flames as they devoured all those creations that represented so much of his soul; Haven couldn’t help feeling his heart break for the childe that was in such pain right then. Haven took one more moment to try and force his own emotions back “is this your rather dramatic way of telling me that I’ve lost both of my childer; in the same night at that?” he had to ask.

Sean’s pause was only momentary before he spoke “Depends on your definition of lost, I suppose. We’re both still technically alive after all, aren’t we?” he added bitterly.

Haven took another moment to further compose himself “well, even though you never asked; I will tell you what has become of Awsha” he seemed to brace himself as he moved on “the reason I prefer the blood bond to the mental bond is because the blood bond can be ended, obviously” he had to add “and I always wanted to give any of those bound to me the chance to be free again, if they ever truly wanted it. It’s not only stronger, but it’s a lot less damaging; or at least less permanent” he corrected.

“Yes. And thanks to that impermanence, now she’s bound to the serpent instead of you. Another great decision that came with letting her live” Sean added, still staring into the flames.

Haven forced himself to continue “though the blood bond would be stronger, she’d never submit to it again since he’s claimed her mind now. Not that she being bound to me again would really matter; since she did break that bond once already, after all” Haven tacked on.

“I’m not sure…is this you trying to defend keeping her alive. Because you’re missing the mark a bit if that’s the case” Sean replied, only casting Haven a brief glance.

Haven closed his eyes a moment before continuing “this is me explaining to you my current course of action pertaining to Awsha.”

“What course of action would that be?” Sean asked as he looked around the room “doesn’t really appear that you’re doing much of anything from here.”

Haven shook his head again in the face of that continuing coldness that was coloring each of Sean’s reactions “if you recall, you did disappear last night before finding out what decision I ended up making, at least for now” he added more quietly.

“Fine, Haven. Tell me what this new temporary solution is that will most likely come back to bite us all again in another five, ten, twenty, whatever years” Sean replied flatly.

“Well, I thought about banishment, of course. But with Taylor’s abilities, I doubt that would do even a bit of good” Haven began “I even thought about trying to overwrite the mental bond she has to this Baron, but as we still don’t know exactly how old and powerful he is; that also may not have quite worked out” Haven sighed again as Sean just watched him with the same emotionless expression “I thought about putting a stake in her heart, but we already know that being in torpor didn’t quite stop her from sewing continued chaos before” he admitted.

“So, is this just a list of things that aren’t going to work?” Sean interrupted impatiently.

Trying to ignore Sean’s obvious hostility, Haven continued “torpor would be the best bet, honestly; but as I said…” Haven then sighed once more, “so I had to find a way to put her in a sort of torpor, but still shut her mind down so she couldn’t continue to carry out Baron’s will through mental attacks like those she used upon sweet Erica.”

Moving quickly past the reminder of what had been done to Erica, Sean spoke again “And there’s actually a way to shut down another Kindred’s mind?” Sean asked skeptically.

“Not a way that I myself can do” Haven stated, though quietly.

Sean just scoffed “so then why bother even mentioning it?”

Haven sighed once more “because Minna can do it; did do it” he admitted, though in a near whisper.

Another brief crack before Sean responded “Minna can actually shut down the mind of other Kindred like that?” Sean stated, though his voice was nearly as quiet.

“She can do worse too. But I’m hoping that catatonia will be sufficient enough” Haven returned, though his eyes were still down in an obvious sign that it did hurt him to punish his own childe in such a way; even though she had done more than enough to warrant such a drastic response.

“And how long will this even last?” Sean had to know.

“Until I tell her to give Awsha’s mind back to her again” Haven confessed, though his voice was ragged with his own regret.

Sean swallowed once more as he studied his sire for another moment “You said she could do worse too? Worse how?” Sean had to know.

“Minna can do things to others’ minds that…” Haven took a moment, not sure he wanted to share the facts of how truly damaging a Malkavian could be. However, if Sean was to be Prince someday, he needed to know about all of the weapons in the arsenal that he would inherit, no matter how devastating.

“Like what?” Sean pressed in response to Haven’s lengthy pause.

“She can actually drive someone to delusion, or even total insanity. She could even lobotomize someone, with only her mind, if she had to. And I’m really hoping she’ll never have to do either of those things to Awsha… or anyone else for that matter” Haven added as he looked down again, away from Sean’s eyes widening at those pieces of information.

“The insane girl can do shit like that?” Sean repeated in a bit of shock.

“If she has to” Haven repeated again in the same quiet tone. But he then made an obvious attempt at bracing himself to move on through the conversation “so now that you know what I’ve been forced to do to your little sister, will you now please tell me what’s been done to you?” Haven questioned, the force returning to his voice at last.

Sean looked down only a moment “done to me?” was the only response he allowed.

“There’s something very wrong, Sean. Will you tell me or force me to dig out those answers again?” Haven asked, though his voice was gentle despite his words.

Sean closed his eyes a moment, as though steeling himself to try and make it through admitting to those answers at all “when I thought Claire had slept with Aidan” he swallowed a bit, “I asked the real Claire if it was her way of getting even with me… for Awsha” he finished, though his voice became a choked whisper on the final two words.

Haven looked down once more before speaking “and that’s the reason why you’re acting as though life truly means nothing to you anymore?”

“Without Claire, life really does have no meaning. She’s always been the only meaning at all in my life. And now that I’ve lost her… there’s nothing else left” Sean finished as he forced back more of those tears, proving that pain was the one thing that was definitely still left.

When Claire had awoken that evening, it was to find her bed empty. Though she couldn’t honestly say she was surprised that Sean had not returned to their home since his confession, unplanned though it had been. She sighed softly as she moved her fingers to his pillow, only to have them tickled by a long blonde hair she found there. Of course that just caused her to sniffle again.

It wasn’t much later that Aidan appeared in her bedroom doorway once again, still wearing his own sad expression which only deepened when he found her still distractedly caressing Sean’s pillow “he didn’t come back for the day?” Aidan asked quietly, though having only been awake for a few minutes, he already knew that answer when he saw her there alone in the room still.

“I’m hoping he stayed with Haven… sort of” she added.

“Sort of?” Aidan couldn’t help catching that as he watched her from his place leaning upon the doorframe.

“I don’t want to think about him choosing to be in the same house as Awsha, instead of me. But if he didn’t stay there… I’m afraid to think of what that could mean, either” she managed, voice broken by emotion.

“You don’t think he would have….?” Aidan didn’t quite finish that sentence, instead choosing to move closer to the bed.

“He always said he couldn’t live without me” she attempted to scoff, but the sound came out as something much sadder.

“Did he even give you an explanation for what he did, Claire? If any were possible, even?” he asked, trying to push away thoughts of Sean entertaining the idea of going out to meet the sun again for the first time in a century and a half.

“He said it happened because he thought he had lost me. And he didn’t want to be part of his own life, if I wasn’t included” she sighed softly “that’s the short version, anyway” she added, her pools of green still on the bed throughout every word she tried to force through her lips.

“I feel I’ve definitely missed a few things around here” Aidan stated, more to himself, before moving on “when was the last time you even ate, Claire?” she just shrugged indifferently, not offering any answer “did you eat last night before you came upstairs, and…?” he didn’t bother rehashing the facts she already knew.

“No” Claire offered as her only simple response.

Aidan sighed again as he moved to a spot next to her bed “so you haven’t eaten for two days? And you’ve been in here staining your pillow completely red with tears for those two days?” he reiterated the facts pointedly.

“The last time I ate was before your ship got here” Claire swallowed slightly “when Sean and I fed on each other. That was the last time” she added, her voice shaking again at the memory.

“So, if he was feeding on you at the same time” Aidan began while trying not to imagine how intense the passion of that interaction would have truly been; considering what he knew about the pleasure of either side of the Kiss, himself “then it’s really closer to three days, as you and him didn’t actually get any…nourishment…from that” he decided on, despite knowing what they did get from it. Though, Claire offered no response, obviously still buried deep in her thoughts “Claire, you do need to eat” he added with what force he could manage “I’ll go get the servants.”

But just as he turned to head out of the room again, Claire finally spoke “have you eaten?”

A little caught by the question, he turned back “this morning before the sunrise” he offered.

“Come back” Claire stated softly.

Aidan narrowed his eyes at her request, but nevertheless moved to a place standing next to where she was seated on the bed “you do have to eat though, Claire” he stressed.

Without words, she simply reached for his wrist and coaxed him into a seat on the bed next to her. She finally let her eyes move to see the questioning look he still wore. One more moment and she used what strength still remained to her at all to lean into his arms and sink her fangs into his neck, allowing them both to drown in that pleasure, hoping that maybe she would never have to come up for air again. As she didn’t think she had the strength to even try to, honestly.

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