Nikoli sighed. Loudly, wishing that they hadn’t been interrupted. He really wanted to talk to her. Not that he wasn’t curious, but he was not interested in hearing what the probable fraud had to say. Not in the slightest. Leila furrowed her brows together, in frustration with his lax attitude he assumed. He mouthed the words “sorry” to her and tried to relax. He wasn’t scared of the old lady. Not in the least little bit. He just didn’t have high hopes that she would say anything helpful. She didn’t look like the type of woman who took any crap from anyone. He respected her for that, but he still didn’t want to let her know that. Before even knowing anything about him, she already seemed to be prejudiced towards his kind.
He cleared his throat impatiently and sat back against the soft couch cushions. Leila looked just as uncomfortable as him, if not more so. The old lady smirked and blew out her last puff from the pipe. The scent was overpowering his senses and making him feel slightly woozy.
“It’s laced with Vervain, in case you were wondering why you felt strange,” he nodded slowly at her, slightly impressed, “I knew you were coming. I wasn’t sure if you would decide to try anything however. My visions aren’t always crystal clear.”
Nikoli scoffed, then grinned, nodding at her. Like Vervain would stop him if he really wanted to do something. She was a very frail, fragile, small statured woman. It wouldn’t take much to overpower her if the need arose.
Leila blinked, confusion contorting her features, “Vervain? What’s that? What does it do, exactly?”
He silently scolded himself. He was being grouchy. Vervain did that to him. It made him human temporarily, in a manner of speaking. The old gypsy woman grinned as she leaned forward towards Leila, seeming to take too much pleasure in explaining in detail what Vervain meant.
“It stuns the vampire’s senses, my dear. Making them less of a nuisance. I could give you some, just in case, if you’d like?” Her voice rose towards the end of the sentence, giving away to Nikoli how much joy she took from trying to put Nikoli in his place.
Leila shook her head once, nervously glancing at Nikoli. “Oh for cripes sake! I have done nothing to you and yet you torment me so. Why? Can’t we just call a truce?”
His words caused a low chuckle to start in her stomach, bubbling up through her throat and out of her pruny mouth.
“As if i’d fall for that!” she was wiping amused tears from her eyes that were threatening to run down her wrinkled, weathered cheeks, “Your kind are a terrible breed who causes nothing but trouble. I’ve seen flashes of what lies in your memories. You are no angel. There are things in your past that I am very certain you would not want the someone like her to know, am I right?”
The old woman tilted her head towards Leila, as if she was a small child who had no understanding of what was happening. This angered Nikoli and he had to clench his fists and count his breaths to stamp out the rage boiling up inside of him.
“There are things I have done in my past that I am not proud of, yes. I would even go so far as to say I am ashamed of some of them, but that does not give you the right to judge me. I am not like the others. I have tried, so hard, to change over the years. I do not need your approval. The only opinion that matters to me, is Leila’s. If it’s all the same to you, please just answer her damn questions, so we can leave!”
She seemed taken aback and even cringed away from him a little, seeming to shrink back in her oak rocking chair. Her face paled slightly and she licked her lips, nodding curtly to signal that she would not purposely antagonize him any further. Nikoli huffed and looked away from her, to touch Leila’s soft, burgundy mane of hair in an attempt to comfort them both as well as show how protective he was of her.
“As you know, the necklace you are wearing was your grandmother’s protective amulet that was supposed to go to your mother, but instead found it’s way to you. I’m sure you understand the reasoning behind this, yes?” Leila nodded silently in agreement.
The Vervain was making it hard for him to hear as well as he usually did. Is this what human ears hear? What a shame…
“What you don’t know, Leila, is that it is also what connects you to Nikoli. Although you have always felt a pull toward him, just as he has for you, it is not what it appears to be.”
Stop speaking in riddles, woman! She winced at what he shouted in his head. Her eyes flickered towards him, briefly, but he saw the acknowledgement there in her mocha eyes that she could, in fact, hear his thoughts.
She sighed in frustration and spoke directly to him this time, “Do you mind? I want to get this over with as much as you do.”
His eyebrows raised at that and he pursed his lips, nodding his apology. He had a hard time controlling his thoughts. Instead, he decided to simply focus on what she was saying. Leila glanced between the two of them, lips parted as if she were going to say something, but she closed her mouth quickly instead.
After an awkward silence, she opened her mouth to try again, “What do you mean, exactly?”
The old woman shot a knowing look once more at Nikoli and then turned her undivided attention back to Leila.
“You are connected because of your bloodline. It was your ancestor who created the first vampire because she wanted him to suffer for not loving her the way she thought she should be loved. Her love for the first vampire, Enoch, drove her mad.”
“You mean Abagail?”
The old woman’s eyes warmed in appreciation as she glanced at Nikoli, “Ah. I see he has told you a little something about the prophecy. That’s good.”
“Yes. A little.”
“Only true love can break the curse for this….this man. If he were to ever betray you, however, and you said something impulsive, something damning to him, he could die. Your love wouldn’t be the only sacrifice to save him, to make him human. You would have to give up your heritage, your gift, your magic.” Nikoli was pretty certain that his jaw hit the floor just then.
Leila glanced at him in surprise, her eyes searching his face. He couldn’t bear to look at her just then.
“Did you know this when you met me? That I could turn you human? Is this why you started dating me?” Her voice oozed contempt just then, most likely taking his silence for a yes and she seemed to be choosing her words very carefully.
“No. I didn’t I swear,” Nikoli ran his fingers through his hair, a pleading look in his eyes, “I mean, I had heard the legends, but I didn’t believe them and I didn’t know it was you.”
It wasn’t worth the risk of losing her, just to satisfy his own selfish desires. Besides, he wasn’t one to stand in the way of someone’s destiny. He suspected that Leila was meant to do great things. He just wished he had cared enough back in the day to read more about that legend. However, knowing what would happen kind of took the fun and mystery out of life. He couldn’t bear it if fate got in the way of his growing affection for this Witch. Knowing could prove to be torturous. Thanks, but no thanks was the first defensive thought that came to mind.
“I don’t believe you.”
“He is telling the truth, my dear,” Sharon said reluctantly and patted Leila’s hand, “Vervain also is a truth serum for vampires. Neat trick, no?” She smirked, obviously enjoying messing with his life.
“Please wait for me outside…” Leila spoke calmly, eyeing him warily, the bags under her eyes dark and ominous.
“As you wish.” Nikoli complied, wanting to crawl into a hole out of exhaustion from the whole debacle.
As Nikoli sat on the bench outside he started thinking back on Leila’s grandmother. He remembered that she had graciously let him search her property without a fight. In fact, she was quite pleasant and had even carried on a conversation with him about what he was searching for. She had denied any knowledge of a vial of ashes and Nikoli had believed her, not sensing any trace of a lie. He felt remarkably at ease with this strange, happy go lucky woman and after spending roughly a half an hour with her he decided to let her live. He hadn’t really thought anything of the the time, but he remembered that she was wearing the exact same amulet that Leila currently wore around her neck.
“I hate waiting. I wonder what they’re talking about…” He muttered to himself, trailing off as he tried to concentrate on what they were saying to no avail.
He was unable to hear more than a fuzzy background noise when he tried to focus on their voices, which unfortunately resulted in a searing headache.
“Ach. Stupid Vervain!” He was too preoccupied with cradling his head in his hands and rubbing his temples to notice the cloaked figure lurking across the street, hidden amongst the trees, watching him in silent contemplation.