Blood of the Pure – Chapter 27

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Blood of the Pure – Chapter 27

 

Chapter 27

 

PAZ

– The Marriage of Yod and He. The common Tibetan Symbol. The Seer identifies himself with it.1

 

“And, even surrounded by despair, the joy that fills me inflates my being and feeds my life ...
However, I know all too well that reality is quite different, and that what I now feel are nothing but cruel,
passing illusions of a life pulled away from its Destiny.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

"What are you doing there, sitting on the floor?”

I raised my head and blinked, not knowing if I was dreaming or awake. Gabriel was right in front of me, sitting on my bed, as if he’d been watching me for quite some time. His face was an indecipherable mask, his velvet tone sounding dry and restrained.

I wondered how long he’d been sitting there. I had the feeling I’d fallen asleep. I looked out the window in search of a time reference, but the day outside was still bright.

I shrugged, answering his questions. I didn’t want to talk, or think, certain that the sound of my own voice would bring everything back, breaking the quietness and stillness inside me. If I could stay like this, I felt I could pretend I still had my eyes closed, forgetting myself so I wouldn’t be able to feel.

“Until when are you planing to stay there?” he insisted and I watched him in silence.

Although his expression seemed serene and indifferent, something in his eyes and in the way he spoke told me otherwise.

My lack of response seemed to worsen his bad mood, and a small frown marked the perfect skin of his forehead.

“You still smell like him!” he accused me, dryly, and the wave of pain that washed over me, together with how ridiculous everything really was, left me on the brink of despair; and so I laughed, knowing I could never cry.

Gabriel sat in silence, watching me with his serious expression until my laughter started to die out. My throat hurt, as though I’d been screaming for hours, and I faced him, running a cold, moist hand over my scalding face.

“Did you know he told me the exact same thing?” I asked and my voice sounded harsh and broken. I smiled sarcastically and rested my head on my hand. “He also told me I smelled like you, and searched for you like a mad man, as if you could be hiding in my shadow.” Gabriel seemed to try to control his bad temper and closed his hands into tight fists over his legs.

“Sigweardiel told me what happened,” he confessed.

“And?” He looked away and frowned.

“That pain that consumes you ... annoys me!” I smiled briefly at his comment, lost between pain, and sadness, and happiness. “Seeing you there, because of him, makes me want to do something drastic, something that would replace him inside you.”

“You want even my pain to be because of you? I thought you wanted me to smile,” I argued and he seemed to struggle with the idea.

“And I do. But if that’s not possible, then I’d rather that even in pain you’ll think only of me,” he told me roughly.

“Michael is important to me,” I declared in a small voice and saw him clench his teeth. “He’s the reason why you’re here.”

“That means ...” His voice broke, hesitantly, and I forced myself to stop being a coward, at least in front of him.

“That I love him, yes,” I completed and the air around us became heavier, showing just how much those words had enraged him. “It hurts me to know that I hurt him. I feel sad, knowing that I’m the reason of his sadness. He used to be so bright, and now ... and I feel like it was me, who stole his light.”

“Then is it because of the Contract? Is that the reason why you’re here, and not there? With him?” he asked in an icy murmur, refusing to look at me, and that sharp pain pierced my chest again.

“No, not anymore,” I whispered, but it looked like he didn’t hear me.

“If you want to be with him, just go!” he told me, raising his voice, and the glass of the windows shook as if about to break.

Gabriel took a deep breath, resting his forehead on the tips of his fingers and seemed to focus on controlling the intensity of his presence that, even from where he sat, already had me shivering.

The shadow his bent body had become left a bitter taste in my mouth. I felt him alone again, and that idea was like a dagger piercing my heart. Because, in the end, he was always alone, even when surrounded by those who knew him, like Lea and Alexander. Constantly restraining himself, constantly tying himself up from the inside out, in a dark place where no one could ever reach him, for hundreds of years.

I stood up, using the wall behind me for support, and went to him in slow steps, waiting, at any moment, for a more brusque reaction. And yet he didn’t even move, and I couldn’t help thinking how much he looked like a Human on the brink of despair.

I recalled other moments when I’d wished I could hug him and comfort him. Back then I couldn’t even get close to him, my own existence rejecting his. But now everything had changed.

I slid my fingers between his soft, dark hair and he seemed even quieter. Although I couldn’t stop trembling, I pulled him close, until his head was against my stomach, surprised at how easily he allowed my hand to guide him, and took a deep breath.

“I’m exactly where I want to be,” I said without a shadow of a doubt, and that certainty actually made me feel more relaxed. “And the Contract ... the Contract is the only thing that binds us together, and the reason why you’re here. And if I don’t want it to be fulfilled, it’s because you would probably leave afterwards,” I added, drawing small, soft circles with the tips of my fingers on his head.

“And what if you had to choose?” he asked, his velvet voice sounding muffled, and I was instantly frozen in place.

It wasn’t as if I hadn’t asked myself that same question, certain that he would end up asking it, but until that point, I was yet to reach an acceptable answer.

“That is impossible for me,” I confessed openly.

“Because I’m not Human?

I thought about it for a moment. I couldn’t deny the weight that that had, and how much the differences between us pulled us apart. But I still wasn’t sure it would be any easier to choose if he were just another one of my classmates.

“I don’t know.” He raised his head, making me release him from my touch, and I was dazed, for a moment, lost in the perfection of his face. “Are you angry? Annoyed? Sad?”

“Happy ... because you’re here.”

I smiled at his answer, and touched his face, sliding my fingers over his soft, cold skin. He closed his eyes, like I’d seen him do to feel the rain, and I traced the perfect lines of his face, as if I were the one molding that perfect statue. The complete absence of any imperfections made his skin totally inhuman and, if it weren’t for the electrical sensation that tingled in my fingers, I could have sworn that there was no life inside him.

I drew his ears, lost in their anatomical perfection, and traced the thin cords that were the muscles of his neck, detecting a light slow, beating rhythm from far away.

“Your skin ... is so strange,” I murmured, noticing that the texture was always the same, and Gabriel smiled, opening his eyes to look at me.

“Strange is the feeling of your touch.”

I immediately pulled my hands away, suddenly aware of what I’d just done, and he laughed.

“It’s only because I’ve been curious about it for a long time now!” I claimed in my defense, completely flustered. “I didn’t mean anything special!”

“But it was special ... for me. I don’t remember anyone ever touching me, unless they were trying to destroy me.” I faced him seriously, knowing that he was referring to the other Deiwos, and he smiled again. “Ah, except Lea, of course.”

“And other Humans?” I asked and immediately condemned the true source of that question, hurriedly trying to disguise it. “I mean, everyone at school, they didn’t have any problems being close to you, unlike me, who can’t stop shaking.”

“Mostly coerced cold and distant touches that want more than they’re willing to give. Yes, I’ve had plenty of those,” he said. “But, when left on their own, Humans tend to avoid me, just as much as I avoid them. They’re too frail and complicated.”

I stood silent, avoiding saying anything else for fear that I’d end up saying what I didn’t want to say.

“Before Lea came to me, there were times when I spent my days in the Human world. I was young and in search of something that could fill the emptiness inside me, something that would pose a challenge, since everyone seemed to fear me and, for that reason, avoid me. At least Humans, when properly influenced, can even treat me as their equal. And here no one knew who I was, and I could easily play with their stupidity and innocence. Two words and a smile were enough to make them forget their own primal instincts, and they would walk and talk with me, completely oblivious of my true nature. I even ended up spending a couple of Human lives here, helping ones and harming others, as if the world were no more than a huge doll house. And, obviously, I had many lovers, whom I freely manipulated according to my desires, using them as pawns in my games. However, none of the ones I allowed to touch me lasted for long.”

Once more I felt him expecting a reaction from me, as if what he’d just told me was just another test to my persistence.

“Although to them such actions could be seen as expressions of affection, I always felt as if something, somehow inferior to me, had just touched me,” he explained. “And the way they always lost themselves in my arms, always wanting more, unable to think, trying to find new ways to seduce me, it made me want to kill them, certain that afterwards I’d be able to enjoy some blessed quiet moments.”

I stood silent, my heart beating hard against my chest, and raised one hand to touch the lips that so coldly had spoken those words. The warmth from his breath touched my fingertips, contrasting with the cold of his skin. I still remembered the feeling of the gentle kiss he’d given me the night before and, even after hearing what he’d just said, I still couldn’t help wanting to feel it again.

However, the words I’d been restraining since before were still persistently tumbling around in my brain, and I hated myself even more for not being able to contain them.

“But not Steph,” I muttered and he seemed surprised for an instant, pulling away from my touch.

“You shouldn’t say things like that, Mariane. Not when I’m trying this hard to behave,” he grunted, but I wasn’t up to letting him escape my question, since I’d had been shameless enough to bring it up in the first place.

“She was different,” I insisted and Gabriel sighed.

“Of course she was. She was important to you.”

“Is that all?” I pressed on and he seemed amused.

“That’s all. In truth I never even raised a single finger to touch her. And besides, if she were an important existence to me, I wouldn’t be here with you.” My heart responded automatically to his words.

“Because I’m important to you,” I tried, looking for a confirmation, and his expression became almost grave.

“Yes.”

Inexplicably, his soft whisper brought pain to my chest, even though he’d just said what I’d been wanting to hear, and I found myself unable to believe his words.

“Prove it,” I demanded and was immediately silent. Those words, those were the same words Michael had said to me, what he had asked of me. Something, anything more concrete than mere beautiful words. Something that I’d been unable to give him.

I was pulled to a side by my blouse, which startled me and dragged me away from my bleak thoughts, and I lost my balance, ending up sitting on his leg. The cold fingers that touched my face made me jump, since I hadn’t realized how close we were. And I blinked, still trying to make sense of what had just happened.

“What did I just tell you? About the things you shouldn’t say?” he asked in a deep voice that left me completely dazed, and his crooked smile was all the warning I got before he pulled me again by my cotton blouse, making me fall backwards.

I lost my breath somewhere before hitting the soft quilt of my bed and watched in panic when he leaned over me. My hands flexed nervously and all my trembling muscles became stiff.

Gabriel smiled again, this time that amused smile of his that so many times had annoyed me in the past, and placed an elbow right beside my shoulder, resting his head on his hand to look at me.

“So? What kind of proof are we requiring?” he asked me jokingly, and my heart almost jumped out of my chest. My legs were still hanging over his and, although he didn’t touch me otherwise, I still couldn’t move a single strand of hair. “Mariane, are you afraid of me?”

I don’t know if it was the power of my name in his voice, or the implications of that question. But somehow I was able to break through the cold fear that blocked my mind and relax a bit.

I raised a hand that wouldn’t stop shaking, almost thankful that that was my normal state when he was this close to me. The nervousness burning my stomach would have made me shiver anyway, which would have been even more embarrassing.

I touched his face as he watched me completely motionless and smiled. And then, as if my touch had the power to bring statues back to life, I saw him move slowly, leaning over me, until his lips touched my forehead. I lost my breath at the soft electric touch of his skin and heard him sigh.

“This is torture,” he muttered, but instead of pulling away, his lips slid down my face, caressing my skin, kissing me softly, making me gasp for air at every new touch.

The tips of his cold fingers slid trembling over my neck and the notion that he could probably feel the thunder that was my heartbeat made me even more nervous. As if he’d read my thoughts I heard him chuckle, and his lips touched my skin right below the curve of my chin.

I shuddered when he kissed me and my heart jumped when his kiss became more intense, unlike the other feather-like kisses he’d given me where he barely touched me. His mouth was opening and closing over my throat, his teeth occasionally scraping my skin, and my body caught on fire, as I dug my hands in his hair to keep him close. I opened my mouth, searching for words that my mind refused to formulate and my gasping breath became embarrassingly audible.

“Nyx,” I murmured, trying not to be swallowed by his intensity, and his cold fingers traced my clavicle, making me tingle at the contrast of his icy cold skin and his molting hot breath.

Gabriel raised his head to look at me, releasing me form his incandescent kiss, and I was lost in the feverish glow of his eyes. His fingers slid down my chest, making the small buttons open at his passage, and stopped as he found the band of my bra, softly caressing the skin there, leaving me breathless. It was only when his cold hand slid under my blouse that I was finally able to react, and with a trembling hand I held his with all my strength, making it stop.

I realized his feverish gaze was gone and his lips were softly kissing my bare chest. I pushed him back by one of his shoulders, even though I knew I would never be strong enough to do it, and the embarrassing moan that escaped my lips made me bite my tongue. His kiss was piercing me, as if he could really touch my heart, or even kiss my Soul. And my antagonist hand lost its strength and determination, freeing his and allowing his fingers to resume tracing lines of ice over my scalding skin.

I felt completely lost, certainly unable to resist him, and, although I did long for his touch, the pain inside me made me sob. I knew I would be his right then, if he so wished, and I would be his of my own free will. And yet, fear coursed through my veins every time I wondered what would happen next, when he looked back at me and finally understood that, in the end, I was just as uninteresting as any other Human he’d met. Maybe he’d kill me then, and death didn’t sound all that bad. But, if he were to simply leave me behind, like how he’d done with Steph ...

Despair took over me and, since I couldn’t push him away, I threw my arms around him and held him with all my strength.

“Nyx! Stop. Please stop!” I sobbed, trying to coordinate my gasping breathing with words, and, at the sudden forced contact of my embrace, he pulled immediately away, supporting his weight on his hands; and I was sure he would be standing on the far side of my room if I had let go of his neck.

We were silent for a moment, my lonely sobs echoing all around us, and still I wouldn’t let go, knowing that if I did he’d go somewhere far away from me, just so I could calm down.

Finally his lips touched my cheek in a light kiss, which unexpectedly made me relax and, when I opened my eyes, his worried expression surprised me so much I even forgot to sob. He smiled, seeing I’d regained my self-control and I couldn’t help blush.

“I’m sorry, it was never my int ...” I placed a hand over his lips, silencing those words, and looked harshly at him.

“Don’t be! I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for anything!” I told him and he kissed my fingers, making me instinctively recoil my hand.

Gabriel laughed at my embarrassment and took a deep breath.

“Really, I amaze myself ... with this my new found ability to resist you, even when I want you this much,” he declared and I caressed his skin only for the pleasure of feeling its strange, fresh texture beneath my hands. “I guess that I really don’t want you to cry or suffer because of me, after all. I just wish time could stop. But since I know it can’t be done, I wonder, how long will I be allowed to stay by your side? And, if I do stay by your side, how long will you be able to bear my presence, knowing I’m straying you away from your destined path?”

“I'm the same. I also wonder how long you will find me ... interesting,” I confessed, using the word he so much appreciated. “I’m sure that there are many other Gaalgha out there, many much more attractive than I am. I ask myself what right do I have to keep you here, when staying here puts you in danger. Besides, time will pass for me, and I will grow old, but you, you will always be like this, inhumanely beautiful.”

“Even if you die, I will never allow you to leave! And if you do return to this world, I will look for you everywhere! And I will find you!” He spoke with such conviction that I couldn’t help laugh. It sounded like one of those promises that children make when they still believe effort and willpower will solve everything.

I rose on my elbows and kissed him. I hadn’t planned to do it, and I didn’t think about it in that moment. But the rigid statue that he immediately became made me uncomfortably aware of my actions.

“I was about to say I’m sorry, but since I was just angry with you for saying it ...” I mumbled, averting my gaze, too aware of the awkwardness of the entire situation,  and I wish I could hide in some deep hole.

“Do it again.” I looked at him in disbelief and was mesmerized by the intensity of his gaze. I had been sure he’d just rejected me, and yet ... “Kiss me, Mariane.”

His warm breath caressed my face with each word and I didn’t know how to refuse him, even if I wanted to. I pressed my lips against his in a soft and painfully innocent kiss that wasn’t more than a touch of lips against lips, but that still made me blush up to my ears.

I pulled back, still apprehensive, and saw him opening his eyes, as if he’d just woken from a dream, and waited expectantly for his reaction. His soft laughter was disturbing, and embarrassing, and I felt my temperature rise.

“You kiss like a child,” he told me critically, and I buried my face in the quilt, refusing to keep looking at him.

“You were the one who asked me to kiss you!” I grunted and he laughed again.

“Yes. And I must confess you didn’t disappoint me one bit. It was exactly what I’d expected from you,” he went on and I gave him an angry look.

“Well, I’m so sorry for my lack of experience! But at least I’m not afraid to touch you, unlike someone I know! And I’m sure you could feel my kiss, unlike the one you gave me yesterday,” I retorted and his smile became colder.

“True, I’m afraid to touch you, because your body is too frail. But that’s not why I won’t kiss you.” I waited for him to explain and Gabriel sighed. “If I really kiss you you’ll probably get addicted to me. And I will never be able to resist you if you throw yourself at me.”

It was my turn to laugh. Of course I still remembered what he’d said about that. But really! Didn’t he notice just how ridiculous it sounded when he said it like that?

“Addicted to you?” I repeated, still laughing, and took a deep breath.

“I really like hearing you laugh like that near me,” he said with a delighted smile. “When I hear you laugh like that I’m certain that you’re not pretending, and that those tremors really don’t correspond to your feelings.”

“So silly,” I grumbled. How he could still be hanging on those kinds of insecurity, after all we’d said and done, baffled me. “Just kiss me, Nyx,” I asked, just like he’d done, but he didn’t comply, looking at me with a serious expression, ending up sighing.

“Mari, didn’t you hear a single word of what I just said?” he asked me with a patient tone and I nodded. “And?”

“If I do get addicted to you, you have my permission to do with me as you please,” I allowed, as if I were signing a term of responsibility, and he frowned.

“But it won’t be you! It will be the same as controlling your feelings!” he complained almost childishly and I couldn’t help smile, happily surprised.

“Oh, I see. I didn’t know that that was so important to you,” I confessed and he looked even angrier. “Okay then, you can tie me up and leave me here until I break out of my hangover, or whatever.”

“You never take anything seriously.”

“Yes I do. In fact, I’m taking this really seriously.”

“All for one kiss?”

“Your kiss,” I added and blushed again as his eyes seemed to glow.

Gabriel leaned over me and I shivered when his breath touched my skin.

“I promise I’ll tie you up,” he whispered, his lips caressing mine with each word, and he kissed me softly, just like he’d done before.

I tried not to lose myself on the electric feeling of his skin, and tangled my fingers in his hair, looking for a more real contact. I felt as he hesitated for an instant, almost as if my initiative had caught him off guard, but when I thought he was going to pull away again, his mouth took over mine with such intensity that it sent my heart into a frenzy.

His lips dragged mine, that didn’t know how to keep up with him, and his mouth invaded my mouth time and time again, as if it were a territory he’d decided to conquer. I was completely breathless at the slow but intense rhythm with which he repeatedly joined us together and I felt dizzy, almost about to faint.

When he lazily pulled back, almost as if he were reluctant to do it, I had to fight ferociously against the impulse of using the hand that still caressed his hair to just keep him there, or better yet, to just pull him back to me.

I looked up at him, still gasping for air, certain that he was watching me carefully, and unwillingly released him from my touch, smiling as I noticed that his pale lips had finally gained some color.

“It would seem I’m immune to you,” I bragged, and he pulled back a bit more, taking a deep breath.

“I’m not,” he declared, surprising me, but, before I could question him, the door of my room was suddenly opened, making me jump at the sound of a small bell.

I sat up, still dizzy, blushing even deeper, and noticed that he was staring at us with a frighteningly serious expression.

“Lea,” I started, but he ignored me and marched straight to Gabriel.

“What did you do to her?” he demanded in such an angry tone of accusation that I was beyond stunned. “You promised you wouldn’t touch her!” His once-tender voice sounded threateningly dangerous, and I tried to explain it once more.

“Lea ...”

“Answer me!” he shouted over my voice and my gaze turned to Gabriel, afraid of what he might do, but he was still lying on his side, just as he’d been, looking at Lea as if he couldn’t even see him.

As he didn’t answer him, Lea seemed to get even angrier, the hair on the back of his head starting to stand as his silver eyes glowed coldly, and I hurriedly grabbed him by his hand, and pulled him to me before he could do something really stupid.

“I’m okay, Lea!” I told him, holding his childish face between my hands so that he had to look at me, and his sorrowful expression was enough to tell me he didn’t believe me for a second. “I’m really all right!” I insisted and he raised his small hand to gently touch my face in a comfort.

“I’m sorry. I should’ve stayed closer,” he lamented with a sad look that seriously frustrated me.

“Leabhan, you should really hear what she’s trying to say,” Gabriel whispered softly and Lea’s angry gaze shot immediately towards him with pure hostility.

“I know what I saw!” he claimed once more in that grown-up tone, and I blushed again. “And I thought you said you didn’t want to make her do anything!”

“Lea, he didn’t. He didn’t make me do anything,” I told him and his face was suddenly taken by an incredulous expression of surprise.

“He ... didn’t?” I just shook my head and Gabriel stretched and yawned lazily. “Mari ...” He whispered my name still in disbelief, as if trying to process what I’d just told him. “Does that mean ... you like ... him?” he asked.

“Yes. I do,” I admitted, too aware of Gabriel, staring at me, but Lea was still doubtful.

“Really? I mean, you really like him?”

I recalled Lea’s nature, his true origin, and smiled. “Yes.”

A surprisingly huge smile brightened his entire face and he hugged me, his small arms wrapping around my neck.

“That’s great, Mari! Now I’m not the only one!” he told me, laughing, and I felt relieved that he would accept all that mess so easily. I hadn’t known what to do if he’d been opposed to the idea of Gabriel and me together. And so an already embarrassing situation had just become even more embarrassing! “I also like you very much!” he said, looking at me with that bright smile of his, and I lined a few disarrayed strands of his hair.

“I like you too,” I replied and his mischievous smile was all the warning I got, although I could never be fast enough to react in time. With a sudden inhuman strength, Lea’s small hands pulled me closer and he kissed my lips, just like he’d done when we’d established our agreement.

“Suileabhan!!” The thunder of that voice made my stomach squirm and, in the next instant, Lea was no longer standing in front of me but tangled in Gabriel’s arms, which threatened to strangle him to death. The child laughed, kicking the air while trying to free himself, and I looked at the both of them, still wondering if Gabriel was joking or serious. “How dare you? Only I can kiss Mari!” he stated full of conviction, baffling me with his ability to say something like that out loud and with such a straight face.

“But I was the one who kissed her first!” Lea countered, still laughing, and Gabriel looked at me stunned.

“What!”

“We made an agreement,” I explained, amused at the persistent way Gabriel kept holding onto him, although Lea was kicking and waving his arms all over the place.

“What agreement?”

“It’s a secret! It’s a secret, right, Mari?” Lea said, his childish voice filling the room and I smiled.

“That’s right.” Gabriel pulled Lea by the collar of his sweater as if he really were a cat and looked at him, threateningly.

“What agreement?” he inquired. “That she may hide things from me, there’s nothing I can do. But, you ...?” Lea seemed to calm down and took a deep breath, tired from all that laughing. “So?” he insisted and, with a quick movement, Lea licked his face.

“Master, are you angry at me?” he murmured and Gabriel frowned.

“Don’t change the subject!”

“But ... I said all those things,” Lea went on in a shy, regretfull voice, and Gabriel ended up sighing.

“I’m not angry at you, Suileabhan. I know Mari is important to you and that you were only trying to protect her.”

“I’m so glad!” Lea said with a bright smile back on his face.

“But what the heck is going on here?” Alexander’s demanding voice made me jump to my feet, and only then did I notice the undone buttons of my blouse. In an immediate gesture, I turned my back to the door and re-buttoned them as fast as I could. “I send the cat to call you and all I hear is screaming and laughter.”

I ran my hands over my face to make sure everything was as it should be, and then I saw Jonathan, standing right behind Alexander, staring fixedly at me, which Alexander seemed to notice.

“Jonathan was too worried about your burnt roast and literally massacred me into using Magic to make it eatable again,” Alexander declared and the boy took a step back, lowering his head, obviously embarrassed. “Since we agreed no powers in the house so not to draw too much attention, and since he wouldn’t shut up, we went shopping and tried to duplicate your recipe.” I blinked in complete disbelief. “Of course, neither of us is that experienced in kitchen matters, but by the looks of things it doesn’t seem all that bad.”

“And I was coming to tell you that lunch is ready,” Lea added, still smiling, and Gabriel stood up with his usual slow movements, carrying Lea under his arm as if he were no more than a sack of potatoes. Lea squealed and laughed again, kicking the air, but Gabriel just went on, as if he couldn’t even feel him.

“Let’s go then,” he simply said, but his violet eyes looked amused, even pleased, at the sound of Lea’s laughter.

Alexander stepped to the side to let him through, and followed him, poking the ‘cat’ and nagging him, telling him that he did look like a sack of potatoes.

I was finally able to stop trembling and walked to the door, warning myself that the truce would be brief. And then noticed that Jonathan had stayed behind, waiting for me.

I smiled awkwardly, remembering that no matter what I did he had always refused to talk to me all that time, and looked for something smart to say.

“Thank you. You really didn’t have to worry about it,” I pointed out, but he looked at me with an intimidating expression.

“Mariane, if you are thinking about running away, now is the time! You should do it while you still can,” he added in a whisper. The smile that up till then had stubbornly persisted on my lips withered away. “Your Guardian is about to wake up. And when he does, the life you now know, all this, will be over,” he said without the shadow of a doubt and turned to walk away towards the stairs, leaving me behind still confused about what I’d just heard.

I just couldn’t understand how, just seconds ago, I’d felt so happy and fulfilled, and now those simple words had stolen it all away, leaving me cold and empty.

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