Chapter 10 – Part 2

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Chapter 10 – Part 2


Chapter 10



– Kether. The Hierophant prepares the Candidate.
The Vision of the Ineluctable Destiny.1


“Unavoidably, subtly, almost unnoticed, the chains that bind me grow ever stronger,
heavier and certainly unbreakable.
The promise that I may one day return to what I used to be slowly fades away,
and my new me is molded step by step, pain by pain, smile by smile ...”




Part 2

A screeching sound woke me up and I sat on my bed with a startle, still uncertain about which planet I belonged to. My sight took a few moments to became focused again and only then did I realize that the horrible sound was actually my detestable alarm clock’s command, ordering me to wake up. With a curse I pressed the white button to silence it and sighed in relief.

Lea was lying beside me, knees pulled against his chest as he curled into a ball, hands clasped against his ears and silver eyes wide open. I laughed lightly and he seemed to relax, his eyes still wide with fear.

“Morning,” I greeted him and he grimaced bitterly, kneeling on the bed.

“That thing is horrible!” he stated, staring at the alarm clock with a menacing look. “When I’m in a cat’s form it’s bearable, because I can muffle the sound a bit by bending my ears backwards. But in this form its plain torture! Why do you have to make that thing shout every morning, Mari?” he asked, genuinely curious, and I smiled noticing that it was the first time he’d said my name.

“It’s so that I can wake up in time and don’t get late for school.” I tussled his hair.

“And is it so important to obey those kinds of things?”

“Of course. If I don’t arrive in time, I get a minus for punctuality, which is like being punished,” I tried to explain.

“That’s so stupid. You Humans, who can choose to do whatever you want, spend your time creating rules you have to obey,” he retorted and I couldn’t help smile as I understood what he meant. Lea went back to bed, curling up like a cat, and I hurriedly got dressed. If possible I wanted to leave home without having to run into Gabriel, should he decide to stop by the house before going to school. I knew I had to talk to him, that it was inevitable. But I couldn’t help wishing I could avoid him for a few more days.

I was in the bathroom, trying to give some measure of order to my constantly disheveled hair, when the air all around me suddenly became heavier. The brush fell through my stiff fingers and I saw as my own expression changed to a mask of fear. Without thinking twice I ran back to my room, closing the door behind me. Lea was sitting on the bed, knees pulled against his chest, as he rocked himself back and forth, looking as terrified as I was.

“He’s back, isn’t he?” I whispered and he nodded silently.

I’d never noticed before, since I’d never been away from him for so long. How the whole environment around us changed when he was present, becoming heavier and tenser. The air felt denser and harder to breathe.

I took a deep breath, silently commanding my heart to calm down, and focused my attention on the frightened child before my eyes. Walking up to him, I caressed his soft hair and made myself smile when he looked up, his silver eyes haunted by fear.

“Everything’s going to be all right,” I guaranteed, but it wasn’t enough to convince him.

“Maybe … maybe he thinks I’m dead. Maybe it was better if I had really died. Maybe he’s still angry with me. If Master wished for me to die, then I want to be dead. I don’t want him to get angry when he finds out I’m still alive.” I hugged him, muffling his broken voice, and felt him shiver. Lea’s fear was different from mine. What he feared wasn’t his fury, or even pain, or death. What he feared the most was disappointing him, even if that meant he should be dead.

“Stop thinking like that!” I commanded as his anguish left a bitter taste in my mouth. “It’s like I’ve told you. He didn’t want to kill you! And what happened ... it’s in the past! If I’m not angry with you, he has no right to be!” He seemed to calm down a little, though his expression was sad and heavy when he pulled away from me.

“I’ll change form. I don’t want him to get mad because I look like this.”

Always afraid he’ll get mad, I thought angrily, but decided not to counter him. As before, his body started to glow and began shrinking, almost as if folding over himself, until it disappeared inside the sweatshirt that rested almost empty on my bed. A soft movement told me where he was and I helped him out from under the clothes that covered his small black body.

The kitten kept his head lowered, his ears sagging, and I smiled as I picked him up.

“Let’s go downstairs together,” I decided, holding him against my chest, and gave him my most confident look when he stared at me inquisitively.

When I left the room, I’d already decided I’d be brave enough to face him, for Lea’s sake if nothing else. I wasn’t about to allow him to hurt that child any further! And if I was the reason behind all that mess, then it was time to put an end to it. Even armed with my full resolve, my legs started shaking as soon as I reached the base of the stairs, my heart drumming in my ears, leaving me half deaf, my breath becoming ragged as I walked towards the living room door.

I forgot to breathe when I saw him materialize a brown shirt out of thin air and he turned to face me, as if my crazed heartbeat had announced my arrival beforehand. Amongst the incredible perfect white that covered his sculptural torso, something caught my eye. In the middle of his chest, a bit to the left, a red symbol contrasted heavily with his white skin; the mark of our Contract.

His pained expression caught me by surprise, but it was so fleeting that I wondered if I’d it seen right. His gaze dropped to the kitten, safely held in my arms, and a red glow took over his black eyes. I felt the poor animal shiver and held him protectively.

“Stop … Stop it,” I managed to say, searching for my voice that had suddenly escaped me, and his reddish stare turned towards to me. Involuntarily I took a step back. He was terrifying, more terrifying than all that my mind was able to grasp, and I felt lost, devoured by darkness.

Lea fought to free himself from my arms, pulling me out of that state of pure terror, and I recalled the decision I’d made just a few moments ago. I held the kitten, standing straight, refusing to allow him to escape, and raised my head to face him.

“I don’t want you to hurt him anymore!” I stated, unflinching from that burning gaze, and it was his turn to look surprised.

“Do you know what you’re saying?” he asked me in his soft, velvet tone, and I nodded firmly. “Do you know what he is?” I nodded again. “And that he tried to kill you?” His voice rose in a crescendo and now even the glass windows shuddered, threatening to break. My knees buckled, unable to hold me standing any further, my chest hurting, my mind spiraling filled with fear and darkness. I hid my face against Lea’s soft fur and forced myself to breathe. The only coherent thought that crossed my mind was that I was probably going to die, the air refusing to fill my chest, my eyes stinging painfully.

“Mariane ...” That magical word in his melodic voice echoed inside my head, releasing me from the darkness that had held me prisoner, and I managed to look up at him. His face, which just moments ago had been a terrifying mask of pure fury, was back to being inhumanly beautiful and calm. His eyes had also changed color, and were now a dark purple that somehow looked regretful and sad. “Mariane, I understand,” he told me softly, but the pain remained, the same pain I remembered seeing there before he’d made me lose consciousness, before everything had become even more messed up. “Suileabhan!” His voice was nothing but a whisper, but the order implicitly echoed across the whole room, making me jump. I knew now where I’d heard that name before, in that exact same tone. I’d heard it in my dream that suddenly became too real. The small cat in my arms raised his head immediately.

“No! Enough!” I demanded, raising my voice above my fear. “Stop hurting him!”

He looked surprised again but only briefly, before his expression became harder.

“Does that mean you’ve forgiven him?” he asked me softly, although the pressure in his tone was almost tangible. I looked down at Lea, who once more lowered his head, and felt as if my answer held the power of a magical evocation.

“I’ve forgiven him!” I replied and Lea looked at me with bright, incredulous eyes. I smiled softly and raised my head to face him once again, making use of all my strength.

“I can’t forgive,” he told me dryly and my heart sank as I felt Lea shiver. I knew all too well that those words hurt him more than any injury, and I couldn’t help feel sorry for that child. “I ... don’t know how,” he added and I faced him once again, trying to decipher his words. So it wasn’t that he didn’t want to forgive him. He simply didn’t know how to do it? Gabriel looked away with a slow movement of his head, and stared out the window. And, somehow, I suddenly saw him as Lea did — a terrifying, frightening creature, but, at the same time, a very lonely existence. “However, if that’s what you wish, I won’t punish him any further.” For a moment, surprise filled my thoughts. Lea’s pointy ears rose hopefully and I frowned, making use of all my courage to be able to clearly say what I wanted.

“If you’ll do as I wish, and you don’t know how to forgive, I want you to forget what happened! I want you to act just like before!” I held my breath once more, as the statue began to move once again. It was easy to forget that he was able to move when he stood still like that. His violet eyes turned back to me, as if to measure the truth of my words. Lea was also staring at me. And I was painfully aware that I’d just asked for a favor, which, when dealing with him, normally meant there was a price to pay.

“Why?” he finally asked.

“Because he did what he did for you! Because he worries about you. And because you’re important to him,” I answered. “You’re as important to him as he is important to you.” I dared add in a last act of courage and he stood silent, observing me for a moment.

“Very well, then,” he finally conceded, releasing me from his intense gaze, going back to putting on his brown shirt that had stayed forgotten in one of his hands. “If that’s what you wish, so be it.” And then he disappeared leaving a thin rain of small black stars in his place.

I stared blankly at where he’d stood just moments ago. I’d seen him disappear a few times before, but it still amazed me.

I felt the kitten I still held start to grow, gaining weight, and looked down to see as his shinning body changed shapes. The small boy that appeared before me was sobbing bitterly, rubbing his eyes as tears fell down his cheeks. I smiled and hugged his naked body, kissing his black hair.

“See? Everything went fine. Don’t cry.”

He tried to do as I told him, but just couldn’t stop, his small shoulders shaking like dried leaves in the wind. Only then I understood the tension he’d been in all that time, and how important Gabriel really was to him. I felt even happier for having been brave enough to face him and held him in my arms, rocking him gently until he calmed down and stopped crying.

“Everything’s fine,” I reassured, drying his tears. “And no more tears. There’s no more reason to cry, right?” He seemed embarrassed and nodded. Then I suddenly remembered something else. I was most certainly completely late! “Crap! I have to go!” I announced jumping to my feet or at least tried. But my still shaky legs refused to obey and I fell back on the floor. Lea looked at me with a worried expression and I made myself smile. “I’m really clumsy sometimes,” I told him as an excuse, but he didn’t pay attention to my words, hugging me, his small arms surrounding my neck. I sat very still, surprised and kind of suspicious, and my heart jumped a beat when he sighed softly against my ear.

“Thank you,” he said in a low voice and his soft lips touched my cheek.

A gentle breeze surrounded us and I reflexively closed my eyes for a split second. I felt slightly dizzy and, when I opened them again I wasn’t at home anymore. I blinked in disbelief as I gathered my thoughts. I was outside now, sitting on green grass, hidden behind a wall of lush bushes.

It took me a few minutes to realize what had happened. I was there, but so were my books, and my handbag, and even the coat I’d planned to wear that day. The sound of laughter told me I wasn’t alone and I stood up, this time more carefully, to take in my surroundings as I fought back that unpleasant sensation of dizziness. It wasn’t hard to conclude I was at school and that the voices I heard belonged to my classmates as they walked to class.


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