When Karin arrived at Haven’s home not much later, she found her Prince and Minna both waiting for her on the sofa as she stepped through the door “does she have to be here, really?” Karin asked him with a sigh.
“Yes” Haven said simply, then gestured to the chair, “sit won’t you, Karin” he added pointedly, to which she only sighed and obeyed, knowing she was treading very dangerous water already “so, did you get rid of your little blonde playmate?”
“Yes. If she wants to uphold the illusion, she has to let Freya be dead” Karin agreed quietly as she watched where Minna held her in that same dark, threatening gaze.
“And what exactly does she think happened?”
“Minna’s psychic, so she knew Freya was Taylor and attacked her” Karin offered the shortened version of the story she had fed Taylor not that much earlier.
“Hmm, lovely” Haven just shook his head “Minna may take your mind even without me telling her too now” he added plainly.
Karin then looked down in fear “so is that what you’re going to do then?”
“Well, that would be the wisest choice. However it would even further endanger Minna, as I’m sure Taylor wouldn’t settle for simply staking her this time” Haven admitted, keeping his eyes glued to his childe who wore the guise of his lover, which did serve to continue to keep his anger fresh.
“So, what are you going to do with me?” Karin asked quietly, still not able to turn her eyes to him.
“As I’m not too keen on sacrificing Minna if it can be avoided” he began “there is only one other option, which I’m only considering at all since you have been here for a decade now and haven’t honestly caused any more of your old variety of trouble. Quite an impressive feat for one such as you, I must say” Haven added.
“The point was to make you fall in love with me. I couldn’t do that if I kept doing… other things” Karin settled on.
“Quite true” he surprisingly agreed, “you have indeed been on your best behavior for an entire decade, even if it all was because you had an ulterior motive. You still managed to do it. You still managed to curb all of those childish and selfish games of yours for quite some time” he restated.
“I had to make you fall in love with me” she repeated in the same quiet, almost regretful tone.
“So I’d make you heir?” he finished for her.
“I could never make Sean fall in love with me, so it had to be you. And I could never make you fall in love with the real me; so I had to become somebody else” she supplied sadly.
“You are aware that you could’ve become somebody else without all the theatrics and deception supplied by the little Ravnos. You’ve proven that you are capable of becoming a different person, even if you had to tell yourself that it’s all part of an illusion” Haven stated, his tone calm still.
“I could have never become this person if I was still the real me” Karin whispered “if I was still me, that’s all any of you would have ever saw. You never would’ve trusted me or wanted to be near me, or loved me” she finished sadly.
“The fact remains that this person has always been inside you. You could just never show her to us until you hid from us first” Haven stated in the same soft tone.
Karin looked down again, her voice breaking “you almost sound like you don’t hate me.”
“I do hate what Baron’s done to you. Because I know that his desires will always pull you back to doing those horrible things. No matter how hard you’ve tried to become someone else; he’s still always going to be able to use you to do his bidding as long as you have this bond to him” Haven stated softly.
“So there’s just no hope at all then, is there?” Karin asked with a sniffle.
Haven was quiet a long moment as he thought on his response “I can try” he stated simply.
“Try what?” Karin asked, choking on the words as she looked back up at him.
Without answering, he moved to a place next to where she sat and caught her in that hypnotic gaze of his “The bond you had to Baron is not real. It is not what you truly desire to be. You have no more love for him or bond to him anywhere in your heart. He is pure viciousness and you want nothing to do with him ever. Nor do you have any desire to carry out a single one of his plans any longer” he paused only a moment “but, you will pretend that he still has some hold over you. You will stay here and make him believe that you are doing his bidding. But you are not. You are only letting him believe that you are” he finished his attempt at deprogramming and reprogramming her, hoping upon hope that his mental abilities did surpass Baron’s after all. Though, only time would truly give him that answer; and a deadly one it may still be.
As Haven moved back from her, Karin seemed to come out of that seeming trance with a shake of her head as she looked up at him “so, I’m some sort of double agent now?” she asked warily.
“That has yet to be determined I suppose. You’ll understand if I keep you under very close watch for at least a while” he stated softly.
Karin allowed a slight sigh before speaking again “So I guess our four years as lovers is over now, too?”
Haven raised a brow at that being the first concern she voiced “well, if I were to suddenly stop being your lover, that would appear a bit suspicious, now wouldn’t it?”
“So, we’re just pretending that nothing has changed?” Karin asked skeptically.
“Of course one thing has changed hopefully” Haven denied.
“What’s that?” Karin asked.
“That you’ll never do what he wants you to do if and when I were to ever announce choosing you as a new heir” Haven told her plainly.
“You would still even consider making me your heir?”
“That really depends on you. It always has” Haven finished simply.
“But how can you trust me at all?” Karin stammered.
“I’m going to trust you as far as I’ve trusted you since taking you into my bed” Haven offered “and hopefully, someday we can celebrate Baron’s death together, and if that day comes; I’ll know for sure that I can trust you then.”
“And if that day doesn’t come?” she managed.
“Then you’ll be waiting a very long time to get that throne, won’t you?” he told her wryly.
Karin swallowed again “you’re not really ever going to make me heir until Baron’s dead, are you?”
“If you truly want to be my heir, then Baron’s death is something you should want just as badly. Call it bonding us through a common goal. You help me to defeat Baron, and I will make you my heir once and for all” Haven promised her “so all you have to decide is whose word you trust more and whose world you want to live in; your sire’s or your serpent’s” and with that he left the room.
When Taylor stormed back into Baron’s home that night, he was already waiting for her on his sofa with a none too pleased expression on his dark features “care to explain to me what exactly happened tonight” he asked as his dark eyes moved to the bloody hole in her dress.
“That crazy little fucking Malkavian staked me!” Taylor growled as she took a seat next to him.
“And does this mean that our little game is over now?” Baron asked her coldly as he moved to take another sip from a quickly expiring young lady who had been lying against the arm of the couch while bleeding from the two fang marks he had already left in her neck earlier.
“No, luckily Haven was too busy trying to get crazy girl under control to notice us” Taylor answered in the same grumble.
“So now it’s all up to Awsha?” he sighed with discontent as he pushed the girl’s body to the floor as his servants rushed to remove it from his sight.
“Well, the good thing here is that Haven was already talking about the possibility of considering her for heir someday. That was right before all the fun began with crazy girl.”
“So perhaps Awsha isn’t quite so useless?” Baron returned thoughtfully.
“Yet to be decided. She’s definitely faltered once or twice though” Taylor had to inform.
“Then I suppose we need to keep an eye on her” he stated plainly.
“So I need to come up with a whole new identity and just hope that Haven doesn’t find yet another new arrival suspiciously timed?” Taylor replied worriedly.
“Looks like you have your work cut out for you” Baron smirked as he moved to stand.
“And what exactly are you doing while Awsha and I do all the real work?” Taylor couldn’t stop herself from asking as she also stood. But in another moment, he whirled around on her, slapping her hard enough to send her tiny frame flying across the room as the blood ran from her lip.
“I’m letting you live. That’s what” he nearly hissed as he moved toward her as she struggled to try to get back to her feet.
“Without me, the game’s over, Baron” she replied with the last little bit of defiance she could muster.
“Then I’ll just find a replacement for you too” he growled as he roughly gripped her arm and pulled her to him “but in the meantime, I only need you alive, not in one piece” he growled as he forcefully dragged her from the room with him.
After Claire’s and Sean’s discussion earlier, he had made his way above deck to confer with the crew, and she was now the one who remained in their quarters deep in thought. When Aidan poked his head into the cabin, he found her there lying on the bed staring up the ceiling, her own hand twirling in her long locks.
“Oh dear it’s finally happened” he greeted her with a smirk as she stepped inside “you and Sean really have become one person, haven’t you?” he teased.
“If only” Claire mumbled in response to her and Sean’s last discussion.
“All right. You apparently need a hug” Aidan threatened as he moved in the next moment to get onto the bed with her, crawling on top of her and squeezing her in his arms, which did at least produce a slight giggle from her. At the feel of her underneath his body and the memories that came with that, Aidan couldn’t help daring to move to gently place a few kisses over her neck and downwards over the swell of her breasts above that night’s corset.
“That’s a little more than a hug, Aidan” she scolded, though didn’t really move out of his embrace either.
“Yes, yes, I know” he returned impatiently as he rolled off of her to lay back next to her instead “I’m keenly aware of the months you spent explaining to me about that strange code of conduct you and Sean have somehow developed; about mortals being ok to take to bed, but not other Kindred because….” He then looked over at her with a shake of his head “remind me of the ‘because’ part again.”
“Awsha” was her simple explanation.
“Oh yes, her” he wrinkled his nose a bit “I do hope you realize that Awsha and I are slightly different people, yes?” he had to remind her.
“I know, but… It’s just easier to say ‘no Kindred’ than to have to determine which are as horrible as her” Claire attempted to excuse her rather odd take on the matter which she honestly knew did not account for the many subtleties of her various Kindred peers, but she held to it nonetheless.
“My dear sire. You do know that confining yourself to an eternity of only making love with mortals outside of your marriage bed, might become problematic as they do tend to have expiration dates; and of course there’s the fact that if they ever get close enough to become our lovers we either have to embrace them, bind them, or erase their memories” he sighed “see, problematic.”
“So you’re saying I should only sleep with other Kindred?” she asked as she looked over at him with a raised brow.
“If I say yes, does that mean I get to be the second one after all?” he teased.
“You got to sleep with me plenty, Aidan” she reminded.
He then turned to place another kiss over her lips “but I do have so much more stamina now” he had to tease again.
“And it turned out so well when you allegedly made love to me and Sean walked in that time, didn’t it?” she reminded him.
“Different you” he smirked, “and slightly different circumstances” he added.
“Well now I’m going to be stuck on a ship with you and your husband and a bunch of blood bound sailors, for a year or more. It could get rather frustrating for your poor childe” he told her with an obvious attempt at garnering sympathy.
Claire just shook her head up at him “yes, I’ve forgotten that we don’t even need sex” she told him sarcastically.
“I may not need it. But I still quite enjoy it” he added with another smirk.
She just laughed again at his pleading tone “I somehow think you’ll survive.”
He then moved to lie on his back once again with another frustrated sigh “you know, if you would have told me that embracing me meant I’d never get to make love to you again…” he just shook his head.
“Please” she scoffed with another small laugh.
“Well, Sean doesn’t seem to have the same hang ups about taking his fellow fang-bearers to bed… and he did look rather fetching tonight” Aidan teased.
“And he did quite enjoy the times we made love with another member of your royal family” she couldn’t help replying.
Aidan let out another laugh then “I heard rumors about you and James II but I somehow thought it was just you who had become his lover” he stated with interest.
“Nope, Sean actually tried that bit of royalty before I even did” she admitted with another smile.
“Hmm” Aidan stated thoughtfully “maybe I will go try to seduce your pretty husband” he teased again.
“Well you know he already likes you so much; so good luck with that” she giggled again.
“I’m nothing if not determined” he chuckled back at her before moving to leave the cabin once more as she allowed another laugh, slight though it was.