Sky, by Golden Ceres
The train was completely empty, a rare blessing. Usually using any type of public transportation could be a nightmare. Far too many people in a very small space. Those who have ever had a near drowning experience can attest. I was not like other people. It all started when I was four years old and was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. While that is not very rare is not what I am talking about. But it was the catalyst for what happened much latter.
Because to save my life, my parents had the bright idea to conceive a saviour sibling to be my bone marrow donor. I vaguely remember being happy about it, despite all the discomfort I was in. I wanted someone to play with. My brother Jeremy was born when I was five and getting worse. Much worse. It was the stem cells in his umbilical cord that saved my life and placed me in a long remission. We were happy for a while, and I had a little brother.
Then at twelve I relapsed. This time they had to get Jeremyís stem cells via a far more invasive and painful procedure. Jeremy never complained. I think it would have been better if he had thrown a tantrum over it. But little Jer never showed much emotion. He was only seven and his acting skills rivalled those of an Oscar winner. His Ďdonationí made my illness better and I have been in remission ever since, but I had a much bigger problem. A brother who had every reason to hate and resent me.
I tried asking him several times if he hated me. Jeremy merely gazed blankly at me and not a single muscle in his face twitched to betray sentiment. I started wishing and pray for a way to know what he truly felt about me. I love my brother, he is the reason I am still alive but what if he hated me? I wanted to be able to fix it, but to do that I had to know for sure.
Then Ďití started. At first if felt like a stretch in perception. I could analyse peopleís expression much better than I had before. I could see the anxiety in my motherís face every time a bruise appeared on my skin or I became feverish. The worry in my fatherís voice when he spoke of his work. Later I learned that there had been talk of downsizing in his company. But Jeremy remained just as blank as ever. I kept wishing for more and more. Whatever is in charge of such things complied. And for the first time I truly realised the worst thing than wishes not coming true was when they did.
One morning I woke up feeling like I was drowning. Waves of something surrounded me. It was suffocating and overwhelming. It came in three flavours. Trying to investigate them I left the sanctuary of my room and went down. Both my parents and Jeremy were in the kitchen having breakfast. Waves upon waves of emotion poured from them. The more intense wave of it was from my brother. I had trouble distinguishing between emotions at first. It took me months to tell hatred from love and everything in between took years.
To make a long story short, my brother Jeremy did not hate me. He hated our parents, with a passion too. They constantly made Jer feel bad about being reluctant to undergo surgeries for my sake. To his credit while there was some resentment toward me he realised that I would have done anything to spare him such pain. Jeremy had overheard one conversation between me and mom after the relapse when I asked her if I could just make do with chemo and medication. Mom had been unwilling to take the risk and no amount of pleading from me would change her mind.
As much as a relief that was, I had a broken family in my hands plus I was about to go to high school. With students who knew that I had had cancer and I would know just what they felt about me. As a result, I only had one friend during my four year high school career. Luna. She is quirky and unique enough to be ostracised herself. But unlike most in her position she did not mind. And she is perceptive enough to have inkling on my Ďspecial abilityí. Needless to say that I never told anyone. I did not want to give yet another reason for my parents to worry. Plus Jeremy was finally getting the attention he needed at home and did not want to take that away from him.
But as much as I love Luna, her mother is a bitch. Last evening I went over at her house for a sleepover, and also to make some college applications with her. We are seniors already. Lunaís mother Stella is the type that was cheerleader at high school and that was the biggest achievement of her life. As thus she deeply resents that her daughter is not the most popular girl in school. Little does she care that both Luna and myself have been in the honour roll for four years straight.
We were doing fine after completing the applications. This mostly involved discussing books and wondering about the future. Luna is not certain what she wants to do with her life, but it will involve mathematics somehow. The girl is obsessed with numbers. And good with them too. During one particular rant from Luna on how our math teacher was completely useless, Ms. Martini woke up from the noise and came to yell at us. She let out several gems that are better not repeated. But among them was that I the leukemia girl had completely ruined Lunaís social chances and that was the reason she was not invited in the wild parties some of our school mates threw. Actually we had gone to parties several times but had been quickly disgusted by what went on there. I much more than her but that was not the point.
Not that it mattered to Luna. She quickly began yelling right back at her mother about her dead end job and inability to get a decent boyfriend. While the family discussion went on I grabbed by coat and bag and beat a hasty retreat, in five in the morning. Lucky that the train station was close to their apartment and that the place was totally empty. Lack of sleep did not help matters when I tried to tune peopleís emotions out. I thought it would be yet another ordinary Saturday.
I could not have been more wrong. As I got off the train I caught sight of him. And felt him through my other sense. My first impulse was to duck back into the train and get as far away from him as it was humanly possible. I was too slow to get my legs to obey me and the train left. And he was staring at me, very, very intently while killing intent and something else just as frightening poured from his very being.
Swallowing thickly I looked around for an avenue of escape, or at least witnesses. I usually prayed for lack of people. And it got answered just at the worst time possible. I urged my brain to find a way to get out of this situation alive. This man, this unbelievably beautiful man only ten paces in front of me was someone with strong urges to kill. And I apparently evoked something in him. I had not heard of a serial killer in Seattle recently, let alone targeting girls my age. But that could only mean that he was careful to target victims that would not be missed.
First order of business, I was to move away from the rails. With my back to them I was far too vulnerable. Making slow movements I walked around him, keeping a wide berth. I felt a wave of confusion and had to keep from rolling my eyes. Obviously Mr. Super Gorgeous killer was not used to be afforded the same caution one would give to a venomous snake. I silently thanked whatever had given me my other sense. If I did not have it..
So far he merely turned around and kept staring at me entranced. He was rather tall and built like a champion of bow flex. I hoped he would not chase me down until I got out in the street. Running fast had never been my forte. And I was wearing heels too. I mostly wore heeled shoes but I promised myself that if I got out of this situation alive I would start to wear running shoes much more often. Apparently their usefulness was not merely limited to gym class.
" You donít have to be afraid of me." He finally spoke with a divine voice that so many singers would have given at least a limb to possess.
" I donít?" I asked, mostly to keep him talking and distracted while I inched toward the exit. He inched closer to me.
" Yes, I would never harm you." The worst thing was that he sounded very sincere, but due to that surface killer intent and the intense tsunami like feeling that poured out I could not tell if he really meant it. Usually it was much easier to catch all emotions down to the most subtle nuance but I had never met someone that felt so very strongly.
" I donít understand why you are so frightened; your heartbeat is so fast. Are you a witch perhaps?"
" Witch!" I gasped out, not knowing whenever to be astonished or insulted. Witch of all things. And how on earth could he hear my heartbeat? Noticing that I was close to the exit I gathered all my strength and tried to bolt.
I barely took one step when I found myself unable to move. Something seemed to be wrapped around me and held me immobile. I glared accusingly at him. He had to have something to do with my sudden inability to move. And I had not forgotten the witch comment. To my surprise he flinched and looked and felt guilty.
" Forgive me love, but I have to explain first. I canít let you go." He spoke.
" You appear to have witchcraft yourself. It is telling you that I am different from everyone you have met?"
I nodded slowly. Whatever he was doing did not allow for much movement. I could barely wiggle and move my fingers.
" Your witchcraft is right. I am a vampire." He announced and I scoffed.
" There is no such thing as vampires!" I spat out, very annoyed at him.
" Just because you have murderous urges and an ability it does not make you some creature of myth."
He smiled, showing off a set of very even and sharp looking teeth. In a blink he closed the distance between us and stood very close to me. I renewed my struggles to get free. It was utterly futile.
" My name is Hadrian, what is your name?" He asked. Due to the closeness I noticed his golden eyes and the scent. It reminded me vaguely of hyacinths and lilacs. But while I really like the scent of both flowers, on him it made me shudder. It seemed like gilt on the poisonous but splendid lily. And if he really was what he claimed it would be yet another tool to lure prey. I hoped I was not prey.
" Ciel." I answered, mostly due to ingrained habit, and hope that he would not hurt me if I was polite. Or eat me, if he was being truthful about being a vampire. Judging from the alien emotion and the preternatural speed and grace he had just displayed I was inclined to believe his claim.
" Ciel." He repeated my name like a prayer. And he kept looking at me like that. I started analysing the other feeling, which now I noticed was even stronger than the killing intent. If anything the killing intent had gone down considerably. Just barely there on the surface, more like an ingrained tick rather than something he was currently focused on. It happened sometimes, one of my teachers was constantly aggravated as her natural state, and it was present in the waves she issued even when she was feeling tranquil. The other feeling was far, far more there.
Again it had the strength of a tsunami. And it was deep and very primal. But so intense I had trouble identifying it. What emotion was this creature feeling so strongly? I had not been so baffled ever since my power first manifested. Back when I could not tell love from hate. That made the proverbial light bulb light up in my head.
" You are in love." I stated simply, gazing at the vampire, Hadrian, with wide eyes. I looked around, confirming that it was just us in the wide space.
He smiled gently. And reached to brush an errant lock of hair away from my face. I flinched, being unused to strangers touching me. And it magnified my ability. If his emotions had been overwhelming before, they left me breathless now. Luckily the skin contact was very brief, and his skin had a really strange texture. Much like smooth marble and very cold too. Weird did not even begin to describe this day, maybe I was having a very vivid dream and I would soon wake up. But no such luck.
" Yes, vampires fall in love at first sight."
Huh, no shit Sherlock. I had already realised that.
" And how long does this love at first sight last?" It could not be long, as little foundation as it had. It had been something similar with Lunaís parents and her father had not even stayed enough to see her being born. Actually he had not stayed long enough for Ms. Martin to show a baby bump. Maybe I could convince him to just get over it and look for someone else. His next words dashed my hopes.
" For all eternity." He simply responded.
I made a noise that was a combination of astonishment and dismay. I had just turned eighteen goddamn it. I did not feel old enough to know what to do with my life. And I most certainly did not want to deal with Mister eternally in love with me. My parents would freak out. Taking a deep breath I began to let him down gently.
" I guess that is how it works for your species. You are a separate species, right?" He nodded in response.
" It does not work that way for humans, by extension me."
He did not let me continue.
" You could become a vampire yourself..."
" But you just said that you are a separate species." I interrupted, being unable to grasp how oneís species could change.
" I am, but I was born a human and turned at the age of twenty one. Vampires are made, not born."
Vampires are made, not born. That simple statement rendered me speechless. And a small twisted spark of hope arose.
" Would becoming a vampire cure leukemia?" I asked him, praying that he would say yes. If he did, Jeremy would never have to suffer any more unnecessary surgeries for my sake. He looked utterly alarmed, much more so than my own parents had been when I relapsed at twelve.
" Yes, it cures everything." He said with much convincing.
" The Golden Coven has turned people with terminal illnesses and they were all fully cured. I donít smell illness on you, is it someone else who is sick?"
The intense love feeling was now augmented with worry and denial. But he smell comment raised my eyebrows.
" You are able to smell that?" I blurted out.
He nodded and explained about all the vampire advantages. Super strength, speed, enhanced senses, eternal life, no need to sleep (lucky that, I had not had a good nightís sleep ever since my ability manifested), perfect recall and extra brain space to list a few. As interesting as it was I was getting a bit cramped staying still.
" Can you release me please? I wonít run away from you."
To my surprise he complied immediately. Of course I had to stumble and almost fall. Would have fallen if he had not caught me immediately and steadied me. I noticed that he held my arms very delicately. Super strength. But it was surprisingly easy to push his hands away. I guessed he must have allowed that, given the reluctance and disappointment that I felt pouring from him.
I stretched a bit and looked for a place to seat. Locating it was easy but before I could get on it and ask Hadrian more questions we were interrupted. By a teleporting bald man that oozed killer intent. Much more than Hadrian had. And the teleporter was blurry too. Could this day get any worse?
Hadrian must have sensed him, because he twirled around and landed on a very predatory looking crouch. If that was not enough he snarled horribly at the other vampire.
" Step away from the human!" Boomed the other vampire as he imitated Hadrianís posture.
I was officially beyond freaked out. There was one thing to meet a vampire that could supernaturally hold people still. That was conceivable if only just barely so, but one that teleported for godís sake? For the first time in my life I followed through with my first instinct rather than evaluate the situation and think things through. I run toward the exit as fast as I could.
Unfortunately I was still wearing two inch heeled booties and the lack of sleep was catching up with me. As a result I did not really watch were I was going. It was no surprise that once I reached the stairs my heel got caught and before everything went black I heard Hadrian screaming my name.
Hadrian was unable to prevent Ciel from hitting her head against the wall, but he prevented her from falling down the stairs and possibly breaking bones. He once again thanked fate for giving him his force field witchcraft. It made it possible for him to save his mate. His mate. He had finally found her and the blasted Golden Coven had to go and interfere. Hadrian had followed their laws immediately and had stopped hunting people. And even before that he had only picked of suspicious, shifty types whenever possible.
Gathering his mate in his arms he called up his force field tightly around him. Even if the teleporter could pop through it Hadrian should still be able to bludgeon him with the field. And get at least one hit.
The teleporter must have gathered his intentions because he raised his hands in a seemingly peaceful gesture that could be converted into a brutal hit in an instant.
" I am Razi of the Golden Coven." The teleporter introduced himself.
" Our psychic saw you trap the human."
" The human is my mate and her name is Ciel."
The other vampire blinked.
" Ciel." He conceded.
" The Golden Coven can help with explaining things to her." Razi continued.
" I was explaining things to Ciel and it was going well when your sudden arrival frightened her." Snarled Hadrian.
" Calm down. She is not hurt."
" She is unconscious!"
" There is a doctor about two hours run from here. Maybe a bit more if you will be carrying her."
Hadrian thought fast. He could not run with Ciel, Razi would be more than able to keep up. And he had not tested how effective his witchcraft was against the other vampire. And the comment about the psychic was disturbing. While Ciel did not smell of serious internal bleeding, the blow to the head should be seen as soon as possible. The Golden Coven was well disposed toward humans so she should not be in danger from them. Besides they were better equipped to explain things in detail to her. His creator and his father had told him much when he had last contacted them.
Making his decision he nodded to the other vampire. Both walked out with a publicly acceptable pace just in case someone caught sight of them. Still carrying an unconscious girl was not exactly publicly acceptable but thankfully due to the early hour there were no humans around. Once the two vampires had gotten under cover they sprinted at impossible speed. Hadrian made sure to keep his power gathered in its full ten feet range around himself and Ciel. Razi was five feet out of his range. Most likely on purpose. Both his creator Justina and his father Philippe reported that they could feel a thick vibration in the air when he used his power around them. Other vampires he had not bothered ask, and had not shown it to anyone he left alive. Hadrian had barely managed to get his father free of the Volturi clutches, and had cared very little to end among them.
The best thing the Golden Coven had done was to destroy that monster Chelsea. She had cut his father away from his parents, wife and friends. A family destroyed just so the Volturi could have his invisibility power. But she had failed when it came to him. Hadrian had just been conceived when his father had been snatched and turned. The accursed web witch had not known of him since his father had not. Luckily Philippeís craving for a son and heir had not been diminished either by her meddling or the haze of turning.
It had been hard cornering his father away from the rest of the guard. His invisibility had made him valuable. Far too valuable, Aro had been in the habit of keeping his father close. Mostly as a bodyguard to complement Renata. But sometimes he had to be sent in espionage missions. It was during one of those that Hadrian managed to corner Philippe. The situation that unfolded resembled that with Ciel. He had to hold both of them trapped with his power as he explained.
Cielís heartbeat and breathing was regular. But the unconsciousness was worrying. If there were any complications he would turn her on the spot, regardless of what the new upstart regime and that slip of a chit that called herself empress might think.
" We are getting close." Spoke Razi. True to his word, the entrance of a tunnel appeared soon after. Razi went first since they could not stay side by side while Hadrian had his force field at full range. Besides it was not like Hadrian would risk starting a fight while holding his fragile mate in his arms.
Razi came to a stop before a door. Hadrian heard a hum of machines inside and the soft voices of two vampires speaking. Razi held the door open for him. Hadrian reduced the force field so he would be able to go through door without smashing the frame and parts of the wall. He had done that often enough in the first decade after his change. Justina of course had found it hilarious and would not let him live it down even after more than eight hundred years.
The room was spacious but sparsely furnished. It had several machines that resembled the ones in some of the shows Justina watched whenever she had a residence with modern amenities. He had always found them a waste of time. Besides books were a better medium of information.
The two vampires in the room were a blond male and a dark haired female. From the way they gazed at each other he realised that they were a mated pair.
" Hello, I am Dr. Carlisle Cullen." The blond male greeted Hadrian, trying to look as non threatening as possible. A hard feat in a vampire, but the blond male managed it somehow. Hadrian ignored the greeting and opted for gently placing Ciel on the bed.
" What happened to her?" Asked the physician as he moved closer. Hadrian kept close watch on the otherís movements.
" Your teleporter frightened her and she tried to run down the staircase in order to escape from him but tripped, hitting her head in the wall. I managed to prevent her from falling down the stairs but she was still knocked unconscious and has not woken up for almost two hours."
The doctor bent over Ciel and instinctively Hadrian wrapped his force field around her. A low, menacing hiss erupted from his throat.
" I mean her no harm." Calmly stated the doctor. Hadrian removed the force field but kept watching the other vampire very carefully.
" She is safe here." Stated the female, the doctorís mate. She made certain to stay in Hadrianís peripheral vision. Razi had already left. Good, the witch could prove troublesome. The mated pair did not seem to have powers. They just did not have that natural arrogance and superior bearing that most witches could not help but develop.
Meanwhile the physician had finished his examination.
" The blow to the head did no damage. But there seems to be some sleep deprivation. She is merely catching up with the rest she misses. There is a light sprain in her left ankle but if she takes care not to stress it in the next few days it will be alright."
Most of the tension left Hadrianís body. He used his field to move one chair toward himself so he could sit by Cielís bedside and keep watch on her. The doctor had already removed her footwear and was wrapping some stretchy material around Cielís left ankle.
Ciel seemed to be a restless sleeper. Surprisingly she had been fine while he held her. Now she was moving around a bit, but did not seem particularly distressed. Suddenly she stilled abruptly and a frown appeared on her forehead.
The door opened and a slightly plump female vampire with a wide grin entered the room.
" I heard from Dwi and Razi that we have a new witch in here?"
The doctorís mate went very rigid and Ciel started to thrash about. Hadrian reached to smooth away her hair, hoping it would calm her. That was why he missed it when the newcomer sprinted forward and got hold of Cielís wrist.
Ciel let out a scream the likes of which Hadrian had only heard from people in the process of turning. Enraged his snarled at the female and gathered all his power. At the sound of his rage she let go of his mate and raised her hands in order to placate him. It did not matter, she had to pay.
" Look I.." She did not get to finish. A force field with the strength of a vampire hit her and sent her flying toward the opposing wall. The wall cracked but Hadrian did not cease his assault. He kept bludgeoning her until the wall gave out and she was thrown clear. The female was smart since once out of range she ran off. Hadrian turned to the other female in the room. The doctor was once again attending Ciel, trying to soothe her and checking her vitals.
" What is your name?" He asked her; after all asking for information went smoother when one knew something of the informer.
As he predicted she smiled.
" I am Esme Cullen, Carlisleís mate."
She had a very maternal presence and brought forth the fuzzy memories he had of his own mother before she had died of some fever years before he turned. He forced them down.
" What did that female do to my mate?"
Esmeís soft looking features hardened.
" She is Adelaide, a witch that copies the powers of the witches she touches. Ciel must be a witch."
Hadrian nodded in affirmation.
" What does she do?" Asked Esme, curious. Hadrian sighed.
" I am not certain, but she was able to tell that I was not human immediately."
" She is an empath." Came a gleeful call from a way back.
" Just receives, does not affect like Jasper does. But still so delicious! Like aromatic fruity white wine."
Hadrian smothered the urge to chase her down and rip her to pieces. The knowledge that Ciel needed him and that Adelaide could copy powers by touch was enough to force down the ingrained instinct.
" You are a witch too?" Asked Esme once they heard the swoosh that signified that Adelaide had beat a quick retreat. Hadrian nodded but did not speak further to elaborate. Instead he sat back again on the chair he had appropriated before.
The first thing Ciel felt when she regained her consciousness was the love tsunami she had become familiar with at the train station. The second was her headache. Just as she opened her eyes a small paper cup contain what looked like two Tylenol tablets and a glass of water was thrust in her direction. She looked up to see Hadrian and became aware of two other presences in the room.
At first glance she noticed the same impossible and beautiful perfection that Hadrian and the teleporter sported on their faces as well. But what they were lacking was the killing instinct that the first two vampires she had met had. The man practically did not have any that she could detect. Instead he had a torrent of compassion and goodwill that immediately put her at ease. The woman had barely a trace of killing intent and just as much compassion as the man. Impressive, she had never came across people capable of so much kindness and consideration. The Woods twins came close but not quite at the level of these two. And aimed at a complete stranger too. It was quite humbling. Maybe Mother Teresa would have felt the same as this blond man. Alas the good nun had died long before Ciel had become an empath.
Situation assessed she grabbed the headache tablets and the water. While drinking she realised that she was really thirsty and hungry too.
" Where am I?"
" In the Golden Coven capital in Forks." Answered Hadrian.
" What!" Exclaimed Ciel. " That is hours away from Seattle!"
" You were knocked unconscious when Razi frightened you. And Dr. Cullen is the one that deals with such situations."
Ciel realised that the teleporter had a name, but was not certain which one was Dr. Cullen. She looked at the two of them in question. The woman laughed lightly, and it sounded like small crystal chimes. The man smiled gently.
" I am Dr. Carlisle Cullen and this is my wife Esme." He responded to her unasked question.
" You damaged your ankle so avoid moving it too rigorously. But other than that is there any medical condition or allergies that I should be aware of while you are in my care?"
Ciel sighed deeply.
" Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, currently in remission for six years." She hated repeating that every time she had to see a medical practitioner.
" Also mildly allergic to penicillin."
As it always happened compassion poured from the doctor and the woman. His wife and mate judging from their emotions toward each other. Same love tsunami but not directed at her. Luckily here was no pity from them. There was a distinction between compassion and pity. Compassion was selfless and she could live with it. Pity was more based on the fact that the ones who felt it felt fortunate over whoever they pitied and it was just as uncomfortable for her to be on the receiving end as it was with hatred. Hadrian of course emanated panic and urgency. Ciel turned at him.
" How deadly is this illness?" He asked Carlisle. Ciel sat up on the bed, careful not to jostle her ankle.
" The survival rate is eighty percent of all cases. It is fundamental that it is caught soon." Carlisle explained distractingly then he turned to Ciel.
" Winter, Ciel Winter. You can call me Ciel anyway." The girl responded trying not to smile as the Bond movies she had watched flashed in her mind.
" Ciel then." Smiled the doctor. " When did the leukemia appear first?
" When I was four." There was a strangled noise from Hadrian and Esmeís hand flew to her throat. Horror poured from all three vampires. Carlisle asked her a few more questions regarding the types of treatment that had been used and about the relapse. When it came to the subject of Jeremy the good doctor wanted to ask something but was filled with hesitation. Much to Cielís relief he did not ask. The creation of saviour siblings was an ongoing ethical debate and she was very torn on the subject.
" What time is it?" She asked once the medical inquiries were out of the way.
" Seven thirty one." Answered Esme with a very brief look at her watch.
" Ah, good. My family would have been worried if it was after noon."
All three vampires went very, very still and guilt poured from them. Ciel glanced at them in confused suspicion.
" Seven thirty two in the afternoon by now, you were asleep for thirteen hours and forty three minutes." Answered Hadrian carefully.
Ciel let out a small scream that startled everyone.
" Did it occur to any of you to call my family and let them know that I would be late?" She yelled out in frustration.
A tall, blond and leonine looking tall man zipped into the room immediately as Ciel was frantically trying to get up and look for her cell phone. Unnatural emotion poured from him and headed toward Ciel. She darted away trying to avoid it, heedless of her throbbing ankle.
" Stop doing that!" She called in alarm. The leonine vampire did not listen, yet another wave of unnatural emotion washed over her. Ciel got hold of the glass from before and hurled it in the direction of the newcomer.
It struck him smack on the face, but the glass shattered to little pieces and did no discernable damage to the vampire. But it got him to stop doing whatever he was doing. Ciel let out a breath of relief and noticed that the glass fragments that had been thrown in her direction were on the floor, in a four feet radius away from her. She looked at Hadrian; from the nod she gathered that it was his handiwork.
" So vampires are invulnerable in superman style. Do you have a kryptonite as well?" She was vaguely hopeful. The vampire she had thrown the glass at gave a small involuntary snort. He was also feeling some annoyance at her refusal of his Ďhelpí. Ciel glared at him.
" Donít do that again! It feels unnatural and wrong."
Shock emanated from him now.
" I was trying to help." He muttered defensibly feeling both slightly abashed but also defiant.
" I appreciate your initiative but feeling like I am being drenched in sewage and pawed is not very helpful to me. But I guess is the thought is that counts, as long as you donít do it again please."
" Sewage?" Repeated the leonine vampire, looking utterly baffled and Ciel detected that he was quite offended.
" It might be helpful and soothing to others, but my own power does not like it. Not one bit."
Hoping that he could receive as well as send Ciel strongly recalled the sensation he had caused while focusing on him. More shock from him. He sighed.
" My apologies maam." Said the vampire while inclining his head and feeling chastised and genuinely sorry. Ciel wondered if he was from the South, there was a bit of the characteristic drawl in his voice. Ciel observed him a bit through her inner sense. On the surface he had four different flavours and a bit deeper was his emotional outpour. It was stronger than the others. But had she not known that he was sort of like her she would have thought he had dissociative identities. But the other streams matched Hadrian, Carlisle, Esme and the other one surprisingly matched hers. She focused on it; it was eerie, much like looking in a mirror when having never seen one before.
" Apology accepted." She said simply and a little belatedly as she looked around. Locating her handbag she smiled.
As she was digging for her phone she felt curiosity from the leonine vampire and looked at him, silently permitting him to ask.
" Can you affect others emotions as well?"
" No." Responded Ciel somewhat sharply as she looked at all the missed calls and messages.
" I got my power because I wanted to understand not manipulate others."
She looked at everyone around and then at her phone.
" Would you mind leaving for a while? I need to talk in private."
Carlisle, Esme and the other nodded and immediately skipped out. Hadrian hovered until she looked at him archly. With a lot of reluctance he left the room as well. But she could sense him nearby still. Ciel sighed but let it be.
She hit Jeremyís number first. He must be going out of his mind with worry and was stuck with only their parents for company.
" Jer? Is me.."
That was all she got out.
" Ciel? Oh thank God! Where are you? Are you ok?"
" Yes Jer, I am fine. What is going on there?"
There was a small pause then Jer started to talk.
" Luna called after you left to know if you got back home all right. Your phone was of. You know how mom is. She started to call everyone you know after you were not back in an hour. They even called the police but since you are eighteen already a missing person report canít be done unless you have gone missing for at least twenty four hours."
" Where are you?" Insisted Jeremy, unwilling to let himself be distracted.
" There is a situation, a really weird situation. When I get back I will explain everything so donít worry."
Another pause, this one longer and Jeremy spoke again.
" Ciel?" He began with a small voice.
" Something weird is happening with me."
Ciel smiled a bit, Jeremy must have realised and ceased with being in denial.
" Look sweetie if it is about you liking boys instead of girls is not weird, but perfectly natural. Is just a preference, like preferring chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla."
Now she was glad she had asked the others to leave, it was not a subject to be discussed while in the company of strangers. In fact it would be a very bad idea to discuss it while their parents listened. Her mother might not bother much but their father would throw a fit. He was far too preoccupied with appearances when it was promotion time.
" How do you even know about that? I never told you or even hinted anything of the sort!" He sputtered indignantly. Jeremy had not but she could feel everything he felt so she knew even before he did.
" Never mind. I think I know now. And is not that! Is weird like how you always know exactly what other people are thinking!"
Ciel almost dropped her phone in astonishment.
" You can tell what people are thinking?" She gapped.
" No!" Came Jeremyís impatient reply.
" You are the one that does that. I make people feel what I am feeling."
Ciel gapped a bit.
" How did that happen?" She finally asked.
Jeremy let out a long sigh.
" Well it started after they were being obnoxious and yelling at me like it was my fault you could not be found. I also was worried about you and I started wishing that they would know what I felt. At first I did not realise when mom and dad began getting hysteric. I thought that I was being paranoid or something and hysterics are very much like mom anyway whenever one of us gets a scratch or something. Then I began doing it to dad too. And you know dad is not likely to lose his cool. But dad too was flailing around like a headless chicken after a while. Then when the Luna came over I made her panic too. Luna does not panic! I kind of freaked out which only made things worse and closed myself in my room. Please come back soon!"
His pleading voice almost undid Ciel. She digested the information. It was quite a situation.
" Iíll be there as soon as possible Jer."
With that Jer mumbled something about being hungry and needing to grab a snack from the kitchen and ended the conversation. Ciel called for the vampires to come back again. Quickly they complied and the room was once again full. Esme had a tray with a sandwich and a bottle of water. Ciel accepted it gratefully and ate as decorously as she could given her appetite.
" Can I leave?" She asked tentatively and distrustfully after she was done eating and was typing a short message to Luna.
" Of course!" Exclaimed Esme as if it was never an issue.
" You are not a prisoner." Added Carlisle.
" But there is the issue of explaining everything to your family."
Ciel almost groaned. She wanted to prevent her parents finding out but could not come up with a credible reason for her absence. Maybe she should not have been so well behaved. If she had pulled a few stunts before she could justify it easier.
" Huh, that will be a hassle. Dad is really sceptic and mom tends go along with what he thinks in situations like this one. I have been able to tell their emotions for more than four years now and they donít suspect a thing."
Carlisle began explaining about his granddaughter Elspeth and her power of fast communication that had the added benefit of sounding truthful.
" I would like to have Elspeth send me one of these summaries. Hadrian explained some but I was still surprised at Jasperís invulnerability. But I donít think my parents will accept to come here."
" Since it is not far, Elspeth can come to your home." Gently added Esme.
" That would be alright with them I guess, but could Jasper as well came along. They might need to be calmed down."
The other empath nodded and she felt some gratification from him. He was also happy that she had acknowledged the usefulness of his power. Ciel could not help but feel amused and refrained from rolling her eyes at him.
Her Imperial Highness Princess Elspeth Cullen was a very interesting girl, decided Ciel. First the petite redhead had send quite a lot of information directly right into her brain. Also she was of a very cheerful disposition. But there was a numb wrongness in the hybrid whenever she mentioned her parents. Usually there was an outpouring of affection mixed with resentment or annoyance whenever someone talked of parents. Elspeth felt nothing other than a sense of obligation, respect and some strange guilt at not loving them, which was quite strange until she got an explanation about the witch called Chelsea and what she had done for millennia. There were streams of hatred from Hadrian every time Chelsea and other Volturi were mentioned. Curious, but she could ask him some other time.
Jasperís affection for Elspeth also felt fake and wrong. Like he viewed himself like her uncle but not quite succeeding. It was similar in his affection for Esme and Carlisle. Still other than her emotional discrepancies and the slavishly devoted werewolf on whom she was rather dependent on, Elspeth had an incredibly useful power. Even after nearly three hours of driving Ciel was still mulling the provided information over. And the princess had given her a lot of pamphlets too.
Ciel was in a car with Carlisle, Esme and Hadrian. Carlisle was driving. The princess had taken another car with her werewolf and two other werewolf bodyguards, both of them girls to prevent any unimprinted male wolf from imprinting on her and exacerbating the situation. The jealousy and killer intent from Hadrian when Carlisle mentioned that frightened her a little. The knowledge of imprinting had left her a little flabbergasted. Particularly the part on that wolves could imprint on toddlers.
" Vampires do not mate on children do they?" She asked Hadrian after she finished typing the fourth message to Luna and her mother (who apparently was hovering over Lunaís shoulder while she typed), assuring them that yes she was safe and was coming back. Hadrianís beautiful face showed utter disgust and it poured freely from him along with a bit of defensiveness. The princess had blasted him with information too, and he was glancing at the pamphlets too. He was extremely interested in the pamphlet that detailed the service of the egg bank for female turnees. And was that longing for a child? Ciel decided not to comment on it.
" Of course we do not! The youngest mate my two thousand year old creator Justina heard of was fifteen and the vampire who mated on her was turned at sixteen himself. An old friend of Justina was asked to turn the girl since her mate was uncertain of his control."
The mention of the name Justina gave rise to some brotherly affection and also exasperation. Ciel had often felt similar waves from Jeremy. A little brother, big sister dynamic there. To her surprise she felt relief and promptly berated herself for it.
" Small comfort. But how does the mate thing even work? Elspeth did not send me the mechanism behind it. From what she did send it works at first sight and the vampire is often confused. Also that Chelsea person could not affect it and she could mess around with everything else. What makes certain that the mates are compatible in the first place? Do mates ever get sick of each other?"
Hadrian made to speak but Carlisle beat him to it.
" No Ciel, that would be impossible." He said with a loving glance at Esme, who returned it. The love tsunami exploded full force between the two of them. Ciel rolled her eyes at all the mushiness but it was rather cute in a weird way.
" But is sounds like brainwashing. You just meet a complete stranger and bam, he or she is the most important person in the universe. It does not make sense! And I can actually tell how mated vampires feel so I do not have the luxury of denial."
" Luxury of denial?" Inquired Hadrian.
Ciel glanced at him, she was almost used to the love tsunami that poured from him and enveloped her by now. In fact was very pleasant and she feared that she might even become addicted to it. It was like a dense, pleasantly tingling and continuously flowing wave that felt just right. Much like being in a Jacuzzi where the water was just the right temperature and pressure and it even had all the right essential oils and bath salts added to it. It felt inexhaustible too. She knew beyond doubt that it would never stop and it was really tempting to just accept it without thinking it through first.
" Yes, I would dearly love to convince myself that you are just lying and that the mating bond is impossible. But since I can sense what you feel is rather impossible, I always tend to rely more on my other sense before anything else."
She scrunched her brows in concentration.
" I think that is why I did not duck back in the train. First I thought that my legs just did not obey because I was afraid. I think now that I picked up on the love tsunami thing along with the killing intent and was both afraid but also confused."
Hadrian flinched a bit.
" I am sorry for frightening you."
And on cue, deep sincere regret poured from him. Even if she had been holding a grudge, Ciel would have been unable to hold on to it.
" What would you have done if I had gotten back on the train?"
She asked while looking at him intently, almost daring him to lie. Hadrian cleared his throat, Ciel raised an eyebrow, thanks to Elspethís summary she knew that vampires did not need to do that.
" I would have chased after the train. It took me about four seconds to realise what had happened. I have no idea how some complete idiots can go on for hours and days and not realise that they have mated."
There was some silent consternation from Carlisle and Esme. It had a very defensive paternal/maternal undertone to it. Ciel smiled a bit.
" Let me guess? Someone you know took a long time to realise it?"
Esmeís lips quirked in a fond smile.
" Yes, our son Edward. It took him about a week, but there also was the complication of Bella being his singer."
She added the last one with a side along glance at Hadrian. Whose eyes widened and emanated utter shock.
" His mate was his singer? Just how many people did the emperor murder to deserve that." There was incredulity and a bit of contempt in his tone when he said emperor. Ciel was alarmed at the causal mention of murder. The summary gave her the answer and she felt rather queasy. She looked at Hadrianís solid golden eyes and let out a breath.
Now Esme was slightly angry and she turned on her seat to look at the back better. She glared at Hadrian who raised an eyebrow. Ciel laid her hand on her arm and his posture relaxed considerably. For further distraction she asked what a singer was. The explanation left her feeling even more queasy. And she confirmed that no, Hadrian had never chanced upon one.
The ride was silent after that. Except when Ciel asked Carlisle to stop by a bakery. She needed to get a cherry pie for Jeremy. It was the best way to cheer up her baby brother whenever he was upset even though it made her mother twitch at all the preservatives and other unhealthy stuff. And the day had been a tough one. In fact she could do with some herself but they did not have any more peach pie in the bakery.
Jeremy and Luna had been in the lookout for her arrival. As soon as she got out of the car they shoot out and ambushed her with hugs and concerned questions. They also were very puzzled and suspicious of the company. And Luna also happened to mirror Jeremyís feelings to an intriguing degree. Soon enough everyone started to feel puzzlement and suspicion. Jasper was startled.
" Jer, everything is fine. Donít worry I have it under control." As it almost always was, at her words Jeremy started to calm down. Good thing she had practice with her brotherís emotions. She debated if she should have Elspeth blast them both with the summary but decided that Jeremy deserved to hear it from her first. Luna too. Ciel looked at Elspeth. The princess radiated inquisitiveness.
" I would prefer to explain to Jer and Luna myself, in private. But you can work your magic with my parents."
There were mixed feelings from everyone but Ciel did not bother to do a careful reading. She instead ushered everyone inside the house. Her mother rushed to greet her and was taken aback by all the extra people. Ciel hugged her and reassured that she was doing fine then started to head toward the stairs. Stating that she needed to talk to Jeremy and Luna first Ciel got hold of their arms and ushered them upstairs to her room. She heard her motherís voice loudly demanding an explanation but also offering refreshment for the unexpected guests. But she was Elspethís headache.
Explaining the crazy day to Jeremy and Luna was surprisingly easy. Everything just came pouring out. From the confession of her gift that was met with realisation from both of them and even a forehead smack from Luna, to meeting Hadrian. Jeremy listened while nibbling on his pie and radiating contentedness which was eerily mirrored in Luna and displacing her own emotions to a some degree. She confirmed that he did have a power and was met with realisation and acceptance on his part. Also he seemed unable to be in the same room with their parents without affecting them. And he was prone to feeling negative emotions in their presence.
" What are you going to do about Hadrian?" He asked out of the blue.
" I donít know." She replied.
" You should not make any decisions right now." Stated Luna with conviction and worry.
" Maybe we should let this princess give summaries to us too." Said Jer, feeling intrigued and rather curious. At first Ciel felt a small wave of unease from Luna but she became intrigued soon as well. Ciel swallowed and made to say something and put it tactfully as not to alarm Jeremy. But they got up, practically running and went down. She chased them but due to her sprained ankle by the time she got to them Elspeth was already waving her hand toward them.
" Damn it Luna. You are being affected by Jer!" She called out in frustration.
" Language Ciel!" Sternly bit out her father.
Ciel complied but mostly because she wanted to read him. He was in a state of shock and a bit of anger, his worldview had just been shattered. Also whenever he glanced at Hadrian he felt sheer terror. Then he focused on her. There was confusion, he felt that he did not know her and something else much to Cielís surprise.
" Envy? You are envious? Why?" The astonishment made her blurt it out before she could stop herself. Her father gazed sharply at her. Now there was resentment.
" You could have mentioned that you had such a useful ability."
Ciel rolled her eyes. Of course, his job. There was nothing more important to him than his career and advancement opportunities. His ambition had no end, despite the fact that he headed the marketing sector in his company. But she supposed he could climb even higher.
" What could I have said? Hey dad, I woke up today and I can tell what you are feeling, and by the way are we having scrambled eggs today?"
Disgust and the sensation of a horrid chewing and swallowing poured from Jeremy at the mention of eggs, and got projected in everyone in the room, rather confusing the vampires and startling Elspeth. Who looked at Jer very intently, Jasper followed suit. Ciel recalled how much Jeremy hated eggs, she was not much of fan of them either due to feeling his disgust every time Jer ate them. But their dad insisted that everyone should eat them often due to their nutrition value. Their mom made them for breakfast every other day as a result. Jeremy usually dumped his portion on Cielís plate and grabbed something else. Mostly blueberry waffles, which he adored.
" That would have gone well." Cielís voice dripped with such sarcasm and derision that Bill took a step back feeling surprised. Ciel was the polite one usually.
" I would have been shipped to a therapist before I could even get it out and said therapist would have done his best to make me believe that it was my imagination and I did not actually have a gift. And quite likely I would have been doped up on some vile medication."
She had hit the nail right in the head. Her father tried to open his mouth and deny but she raised her eyebrows in blatant disbelief and nothing came out. Ciel sought out her mother and saw that she was feeling envious too, while looking at Esme. It was both for her beauty and the devotion that Carlisle radiated. Ciel briefly recalled her fatherís numerous affairs. She rubbed her temples. Also Poppy was feeling worried and rather resentful of Hadrian. And rather protective toward Ciel.
" Jeremy might need some training." She said to Elspeth. Much to her relief the princess nodded as she glanced at Jeremy and felt apprehension. Thankfully Jer was feeling rather amused at the moment. Most likely just mulling the information and hearing her snark at her father, the same went for Luna. But she was also slightly agitated.
" You mentioned that I was being affected by Jer?" She asked a little distractively.
" You were initially uneasy about having Elspeth shoot information in your brain. But Jer was ok with it. When his feelings changed so did yours."
Everyone glanced at Jeremy who looked sulky.
" I did not do it on purpose!"
" I know Jer, but you need to learn how to control it." Soothed Ciel.
" Addy could help him with that." Piped up Elspeth. Bill bit out a curse and poured rage and defiance.
" It is bad enough that one of my children got tangled with you lot! Jeremy is still a minor and he can learn to handle it on his own like Ciel did!"
" Cielís gift is different Mr. Winter." Tried to reason Carlisle with a soothing voice. While it generated admiration from Poppy and even Jeremy it only made Bill angrier.
" I wonít be told what to do in my own house about my own son!" He practically screamed, making Jeremy agitated.
" Jer, deep breath!" Said Ciel before he could start projecting and Jeremy obeyed immediately in an effort to calm himself. Bill on the other hand radiated smugness and looked at the vampires superiorly.
" See! Everything is under control. My daughter can handle it."
Not for the first time, Ciel had to force down the urge to hit her own father. But it was not the time to start another argument. It was late and she was tired. Jeremy was feeling exhausted as well. After some more words Elspeth just handed her a form for turning. The hopefulness that radiated from Hadrian was really hard to ignore.
" As for this." She started, waving at the forms at him.
" You will have to stay far enough that I wonít feel you."
Her words caused utter dismay. Ciel once again rubbed her temples.
" Why?" He asked, voice full of misery.
" Because!" Ciel forced out a little harshly. " I canít make such a permanent, irreversible and not to mention eternal decision while I am high on your mating bond. Or get too acclimated and possibly even addicted to it."
Now his feelings took a more selfish and carefully calculating tone. Ciel glared.
" I can tell exactly what you are feeling! And donít even thing about scheming to use it to influence me or I am boarding the first plane with a seat available!"
Abashment, but also some panic and wilfulness. And some hatred toward the Golden Coven members.
" They have not done anything to you and most certainly do not deserve it. Carlisle and Esme in particular."
Hadrian wanted to say something but decided not to. Ciel switched her attention to Jeremy because she did not want to examine the maelstrom of conflicting emotions that were pouring from Hadrian. He seemed willing to follow her wishes, or more accurately to obey her for now. But it was likely that he would do something impulsive and stupid.
The vampires, hybrid and werewolves left. Hadrian convinced her to let him stay in the area and he promised that he would stay out of her range. As it turned out it was around just below two hundred feet, Hadrian informed her over the phone. She did not sense him as she fell asleep. In the morning when she woke up she could not sense him either. So he could be trusted somewhat. And given her troubled dreams, he could not have gotten in range while she was asleep. It would be impossible to have restless sleep while surrounded by that much love.
The turning forms were right over her vanity. A stark reminder. Ignoring the forms for now she went through with her usual morning routine before going down for breakfast.
A very strange scene awaited her in the kitchen. Jeremy was eating scrambled eggs without coaxing and her parents looked disgusted. There was a undertone of malicious glee from her brother, but surprisingly he was only projecting his disgust on their parents. Ciel guessed that he was due a bit of revenge about the eggs and said nothing. Her mother informed her that her car had came back from the mechanic yesterday but she had forgotten to mention it. They were all avoiding any mention of anything supernatural. Her father left, a bit quicker than it was usual for him and he was desperate to get back to an environment that he had full control over. Ciel briefly pitied his coworkers and especially is subordinates. He also mentioned that he might work late. Poppy went really tense and cold at that. Ciel wondered if some new attractive secretary had caught his attention.
Once he had left Poppy started talking about going to the hairdresser after dropping Jeremy off at his school. Ciel tuned her chatter out. Her emotions were another thing. There was a longing for quite a lot of conflicting things but also rage and hurt. Similar to what she felt every time evidence of Billís infidelities showed up. Ciel swallowed, last time her mother had been close to homicidal. And now she was getting there as well. Ciel drained her glass of orange juice in one go.
" Are you just going to the hairdresser mom?"
Poppy blinked at her. Neither Ciel or Jeremy interrupted her usual breakfast chatter.
" Because you might want to stop at your spa afterwards and get a nice, relaxing, calming massage." Added Ciel blithely. Poppy swallowed and Ciel felt her unease and discomfort. Also a bit of embarrassment. Being caught while evidently fantasising about murdering your husbandís mistress would be rather mortifying for someone as conscious of appearances as her mother was.
" I will do that." Murmured Poppy, just slightly ashamed. But not about what she had wanted to do, but rather at being caught. Much like the times Jeremy had gotten to her chocolate stash. But fortunately the homicidal urge had abated. Behaviour tends dramatically improve when someone watches.
Ciel smiled with relief.
" Also mom, call my school and tell them that I am not feeling well and I am staying home."
Poppy startled and looked at the window, most likely trying to check if Hadrian was visible. Mixed feeling emanated from her, reluctance, regret, embarrassment and a hint of fear. Also what Ciel could most charitably identify as anticipation of lewdness.
" Is not like that, I am merely taking my Senior Skip Day a little earlier than is traditional. Definitely no fooling around with him. Not only he is a stranger and I am not quick to jump in the sack, but there is a whole slew of secondary problems due to what he is."
There was some disbelief and even a flash of desire, which intensified as Poppy obviously thought of Hadrian. Ciel almost choked at that and had to refill her glass with juice. Poppy immediately became embarrassed.
" I will call your school." She promised earnestly.
" It was much easier when I did not know about you." Was an afterthought that came out without her meaning to blurt it out. There was a bit of guilt and worry and a lot of uneasiness.
" That is part of why I did not tell you mom. It does make things very awkward."
Jeremy or course did not leave the moment slide without adding his two cents.
" Lusting after your future son in law?" He taunted.
" Rather crass of you, mommy dearest."
Poppy flushed with anger at the disrespect. Ciel cleared her throat.
" Given his looks is only natural Jer. And he is not her son in law. I have not made a decision so lets not get over ourselves."
To her surprise Jeremy was disappointed. Quite a bit it fact. She looked at him questioningly.
" Canít you keep him? He is really nice." Pouted Jer.
" How do you know that? You did not even talk to him last night."
Jeremy pursed his lips, looking rather sheepish. Similar waves that she had felt every time she can caught him up to mischief poured out.
" Jeremy Nicholas Winter!" She warned. Jer gulped.
" Well, I woke up early and went looking for him. To make sure that he is ok for my sister and all. Once I found him near the small park behind the house we started to talk. Do you know that he can levitate people around with his force field?"
" Levitate?" blurted out both Ciel and Poppy. Jeremy nodded, happiness pouring out of him and some fondness as well. Surprisingly it did not project in Poppy.
" Yes, only ten feet up though. But it was really fun. I felt like superman!"
Ciel began lecturing him about being careful around vampires. She stressed the importance of not having broken skin and bleeding around them in particular. Also that coming across them while they were in hunting mode could be deadly. Jeremy became bored and she stopped, realising that he too had been given a summary. Instead she asked Poppy to make the call to her school. Poppy sighed and pulled out her cell phone. She had a short conversation with the counsellor and had to reassure him several times that it was nothing serious and that yes, Ciel had had a blood test done just a month ago and yes everything was good. She was merely feeling a bit under the weather, that was all. After that Jeremy and Poppy left. Ciel hoped Poppy had gotten over Jeremyís teasing of her. Their arguments could get legendary.
Ciel was standing over the kitchen island with the pamphlets, the turning forms and her laptop. She was surfing the Golden Coven website. And adding a few entries in her private project. But she was nowhere closer to making a decision. The benefits were obvious and the drawbacks were not extreme enough to make her decide not to. Exasperated she just closed the laptop.
"Hadrian, if you can hear me, come in." She practically yelled, uncertain of how good his hearing was.
She barely finished speaking when he materialised in front of her. Ciel yelped a bit. And the tsunami poured on her again. She sighed in contentment before frowning at her reaction.
" What do you know about Marcus?" Ciel asked him.
Hadrian blinked, feeling confused and a little bit jealous.
" Don't be ridiculous. Married men are not my cup of tea besides he is covered in scars judging from the summary. I need to know about him because he is the only vampire I know that has a power that allows him to perceive the mating bond and who lost his mate on top of it."
Hadrian now was concerned and ashamed. He sat in front of her.
" I only know what my father told me of him. I have never met Marcus in person or any other Volturi other than my father."
Ciel inquired about his father. Hadrian told her everything. His father Philippe had just gotten married when Eleazar had noticed his talent of hiding in plain sight and making others not notice him. The talent scout had informed his superiors who had immediately arrived in their land and snatched Philippe as he was practicing his archery in private. Chelsea had sniped his relationships and Aro had bitten him. Upon finishing turning Philippe had developed the power to turn himself completely invisible. Marcus himself had been practically catatonic for how long Philippe had been with the guard. Hadrian was unaware how the ancient vampire was faring now that his mate Didyme had been resurrected.
" It is a very useful ability. Father does not just become invisible to the eyes. His scent also disappears and he can't be heard as he moves. It is quite unnerving but thankfully my force field can still block him."
" He was part of the guard for almost three hundred years before I managed to get him alone and tell him who I was. While Chelsea was a force to be reckoned with in certain situations she did fail. When she had sniped him, I had just been conceived, not even my mother was aware that she was pregnant. And she did not bother to cut of his longing for a son, or most likely she could not. When we met he was more than willing to drop the guard and be with me."
He loved his father the way a son should. Ciel could not help but compare it with what poured out of Jeremy when he was around Bill. She could not remember if she had ever felt love from Jeremy in regard to their father. But she supposed that Jer must have loved their parents once to hate them so much now. And how different Philippe sounded from her own father. Philippe had abandoned a high position in vampire hierarchy for the opportunity to be with his son. Ciel doubted that Bill would chose her and Jeremy over his career.
" Also there is another problem with my power in regards to you." She started a little carefully. Hadrian was attentive. In fact he was utterly focused on her.
" It is very likely that I could become addicted to your presence to the degree that being away from you could cause withdrawal symptoms. I wonder if Jasper has felt similar effects when away from his mate."
" He did not appear particularly distressed last evening when he came here with us."
Ciel nodded. Jasper had done a good job in keeping her father from throwing a fit and reacting with violence.
" Yes, but I am more sensitive than he is. Or at least that was the impression I got when I read him. And turning would heighten my gift. I wish there was a way to find out exactly how I would react!"
" Actually there is." Started Hadrian, the slight alarm lessening a bit.
" Alice, Jasper's mate is a precog. I talked to her over the phone for about fourteen minutes at two thirty seven in the morning. She does some predicting for vampires that have mated on humans in order to warn them of actions that would make the human mate reject them."
Ciel was baffled for about a second before she found the information in the summary that Elspeth had given her.
" Could you call her?" She got out.
Hadrian's phone rang. He looked at the screen and handed it to her. Ciel took it. And noticed the name, Alice Whitlock on caller id.
" I guess your power is exactly as advertised." She spoke dryly after accepting the call. Crystalline laughter answered her.
" Yes it does!" Came a perky exited voice through the device. Ciel imagined someone petite and bouncy, skipping around as she spoke.
" Make your decision and I will send you the vision."
Ciel complied, deciding that she would turn and mate on Hadrian. And that she would move out of her range to see how his absence would affect her. Instantaneously images flashed in her mind. Herself as a vampire. Ciel paused briefly in admiration. Then came some images featuring her and Hadrian that made her blush. Then with some disappointment she took off in order to get out of range. Jeremy was in the designated spot and with him was a slim female vampire with a bob cut and a feline smile. The three started to play cards. Ciel appeared to be neutral in mood for the most part but she did laugh at something that Jeremy said. Also Ciel had bright red newborn eyes and made no predatory lunge toward her brother.
" That was sweet!" Exclaimed Alice over the phone. Hadrian seemed to have gotten the vision too because he was smiling faintly while emanating emotions that Ciel pointedly ignored.
" Alice? Do you make it a habit of looking in on people?" Asked Ciel. Not very thrilled that some parts of the vision had been witnessed by the precog. And that the precog was within range of the telepath emperor. More laughter from the other end of the phone call.
" No, don't worry. Besides nothing shocked me! Also Ciel?"
Ciel hoped that her face was not resembling a tomato.
" Yes Alice?"
" Wear something yellow today."
Ciel frowned at the unusual request.
" I look atrocious in yellow!" She objected, a little annoyed.
" Exactly." Said Alice seriously but her voice turned playful again. " Hadrian will still think you look marvellous so don't worry in that regard."
Ciel sputtered and decided to wear green or red, flattering colors for her just to be contrary.
" I saw that!" Exclaimed Alice. " Wear yellow, I am not being mean."
Ciel sighed and assured the precog that she would follow the instruction. Also she asked if it would be possible for her to talk to Marcus and Jasper. Alice promised that Jasper would be happy to talk to her and that she would see about Marcus before saying goodbye and terminating the call. Remembering the instruction Ciel sighed as she glanced at her pretty red blouse and went upstairs to change into a yellow one. The only one she had in fact, her aunt Marigold really had no taste. Her mother, for all her faults at least had impeccable taste in almost everything decorative.
As expected the color made her look sickly. And gave credence of the lie that Poppy had told the counsellor over the phone. Of course when she went down a little reluctantly, Hadrian was no less besotted. If anything, it increased the tenderness and protectiveness of the mating bond.
Waiting outside of his mate's empathic range was quite agonizing. But he needed her to trust him so he complied with her wishes. Doubt plagued him but Ciel had looked rather tempted at the idea of immortality. And the only family member she appeared truly attached to was her younger brother. Her body language toward her parents had shown a great deal of veiled disdain. Hadrian had also taken careful note of young Jeremy's hateful glares at his parents while he thought no one was looking. Maybe once Ciel was safe to be around humans after turning, Jeremy would be willing to live with them.
As for his own family Hadrian only managed to reach his creator, Justina. She was in New York, chatting up some university professor in order to sate her insatiable craving for knowledge. She was delighted that he had found his mate and decided that would set her affairs in order on the other coast and get on a plane as soon as possible. Hadrian was relieved, having Justina around would make things easier. Judging by the bookshelves full of books that only bore Ciel's scent, his mate and his creator would get along famously.
His father could not be reached. It was not surprising. Philippe still was not very comfortable with technology and had a bad habit of accidentally breaking his cell phones. Also he was not at the house outside of Paris. Hadrian was mildly miffed but left a message on the answering machine. That would teach Philippe to take off without a word. His father would be rather annoyed that Justina got to know Hadrian's mate before him. But then Philippe's reclusive habits were how he had gotten his invisibility power.
His phone calls done he listens as Ciel's parents talk. It reveals quite a lot about them. Hadrian takes note that the father in particular is selfish, shallow and preoccupied with appearances. The mother is worried and uncomfortable with all the changes. Mr. Winter also sounds rather jealous of Ciel's and Jeremy's powers. But for some reason he seems to value Ciel's power more. Obviously unable to see how versatile Jeremy's power can be. While Ciel can't be fooled even by the most skilled actor or con man, Jeremy could easily learn to deeply influence people and change their perceptions. Hadrian thinks of how the boy could project his obvious fondness of his sister in other people. Making others fond of Ciel as well and unwilling to do her harm. And that is only the tip of the iceberg on what Jeremy could learn to do. It that some unreasonable favourism, wonders Hadrian. It would explain why Jeremy detests his parents and why Ciel is so protective and attentive of him.
When he hears and smells Jeremy approach he does his best to be as welcoming as possible. It is not hard, the boy is what matters the most to his mate. Having him on his side would be a great boon. After some conversation Jeremy reveals himself to be a pleasant, delightful child. Also Hadrian can't forget that he also is the reason his mate is alive. For the first time Hadrian delights in 'flying' someone around with his force field. Unfortunately when he hears Mrs. Winter wake up, Jeremy has to return to his home. The boy looks disappointment and casts a dark glare in the direction of the house.
" I bet she is going to prepare eggs again." The child spits out bitterly. Disgust radiating from him. Hadrian is reminded of eating an animal for the first time. Also wondering if this is what Ciel feels around everyone. Then he smiles mischievously at Jeremy.
" You could project your feelings into your parents while you eat. That would give them a taste of their own medicine."
A devious grin lights up Jeremy's face before he boy calls Hadrian a genius and practically skips to the house. Before Ciel wakes up the family meal is silent. The parents make distressed sounds once in a while as Jeremy slowly and deliberately chews. When is mate goes down he catches a flash of amusement in her face while gazing at her through the window, before it is quickly masked and she moves out of sight. He is disappointed but he can still hear her beloved voice.
The departure of the father makes the mother talkative, until Ciel makes her request. Mrs. Winter's heartbeat becomes quicker. Ciel's quickly follows, before she disabuses her mother of her notions before the woman can even say a word. Hadrian once again marvels at Ciel's witchcraft and thanks fate that the copy witch never crossed her path before. The short encounter while Ciel was asleep in the Forks was bad enough. That scream still echoed inside his head. He wondered how he would have handled it if the painless turning had not been an option. Hadrian might have even brokered a deal with the Volturi just to spare her that.
He feels utterly elated when Ciel invites him inside. Her questions about Marcus alarm him a bit. When his father bothered to talk of the Volturi he barely had anything to say of Marcus. Mostly because Marcus did nothing except sit on his throne staring vacantly into space and feed when the thirst became too intense. He rarely spoke, preferring to communicate through Aro. Once a year though Marcus whispered Didyme's name in a broken voice. Even Philippe who had a hard time sympathising with strangers due to having been sniped prior to turning felt sorry for the ancient widower.
He wondered how his father and Ciel would get along. While Philippe was a good father to him, he was somewhat cold and indifferent to most others. Hadrian was uncertain how Ciel would react to him. She had seemed rather impressed with Carlisle Cullen who was regarded as unnatural by some due his capacity to forgive and care for others. If Carlisle was presented as a vampire father figure then Philippe could come up short in comparison. Maybe he should have them communicate over the phone before Ciel met him so there would be some basis to start a relationship even if Philippe's emotions made a less than stellar first impression.
" What are you scheming now?" Ciel asks looking both slightly amused but also a bit apprehensive.
" Merely thinking about my father."
His mate raises an eyebrow but says nothing, opting for plucking grapes from the stem. She does not consume any of them. It seems like a nervous habit. And she is a little fidgety. He looks around for a safe conversation subject and his eyes come to stop on one framed photograph. It has been taken in front of an old looking house, at least by American standards. In the center is an elderly gentleman with downy white hair that somewhat resembles his mate's father. On both sides of him are Ciel and Jeremy, both smiling happily. The photo stands out because it is the only one in which Ciel and Jeremy grin quite so widely. In the other recent pictures they both either look solemn or smile minutely. Pictures that date back a few years are more cheerful. It seems that recently there has been unhappiness in the household. That did not sit well with him. Ciel should not be unhappy.
" Is that your grandfather?" He asks pointing at the frame.
Ciel blinks and squints in the direction his digit indicates. Hadrian reminds himself that she does not have his eyes. He is about to apologise when she giggles suddenly. Such a lovely sound.
" Yes, that is Grandpa William. My only living grandparent."
There is slight sadness in her tone.
" Grandma Melissa, his wife died of breast cancer when I was two. She did not tell anyone that she was sick until it could not be hidden anymore. It was caught late anyway and she decided that she wanted to spend as much quality time with her family and have them suffer latter rather than sooner."
Ciel sighed and pushed away the plate with grapes.
" It was a horrible blow to both dad and grandpa. Dad was rather close to her since according to grandpa she spoiled him rotten. Mostly due to the fact that he was the only child she did not miscarriage or was stillborn. Grandpa is still angry with himself for not noticing that she was sick and angry with her for keeping it a secret. And he hates secrets in general. At least secrets he is not on into."
Ciel jolted as if struck by something and smacked herself in the forehead.
" I have to tell him or he will never forgive me! How could I have forgotten!"
Hadrian blinked as his mate got up abruptly and hissed in pain when due to her sprained ankle.
" Can you drive?" She asked with an unhappy tone. At his nod she seemed somewhat relieved but still muttered an oath under her breath that involved Razi doing something extremely physically challenging even for a vampire if not outright impossible. Hadrian chuckled before going to fetch the car keys. It was a fairly long drive, mostly because Ciel insisted that he followed the speed limit to the letter. Even on empty streets, since her grandfather's home was fairly isolated from civilisation. In fact it was a marvellous place for a small coven to live.
Ciel got out of the car, she walked a bit carefully but when Hadrian tried to help her he received a glare before he could even act. It was fascinating, every action anticipated and virtually eliminated the possibility of having serious arguments and having to apologise after making a serious gaffe. There was no chance Ciel would be bewildered or hurt by his behaviour if she knew the reasons behind it.
The house was slightly smaller than the one Ciel lived on but if had more character. His mate smiled wryly, obviously sensing his curiosity and interest.
" It was build about 112 years ago by my great great grandfather Charles Winter as a gift to his new bride Sabina. He also purchased most of the land you can see around. About four generations of Winters have lived here. Until of course, my mother was not very happy about the lack of modern amenities that are in every modern house. The house has been renovated but still it does not have that new house conveniences. Grandpa likes it well enough, and prefers to live here despite having a room of his own in our home."
Hadrian followed her as she knocked, despite having a key. Most likely she was doing it not to startle her grandfather. It took 3 minutes and 54 seconds for the elderly man to make his way from the attic to the front door. But once he managed to give them entrance he was delighted to see his granddaughter even if he was somewhat wary of Hadrian.
" I'm glad you could come sweetheart. But what is the matter? Should you not be in school? And who is this?"
Ciel's heartbeat jumped up and she cleared her throat.
" Something happened and I thought that you should know. This is Hadrian. Hadrian, my grandfather William Winter."
Hadrian smiled charmingly and held out a hand.
" Delighted Mr. Winter."
The elderly human shook the offered hand but there was a frown in his face.
" Just Hadrian? Do you have a last name?" He asked as he let the two of them inside.
" Hadrian Deveraux." He replied, slightly distracted with the style of the furnishings. Ciel smiled knowingly.
" Mom did over the house for grandpa. So it is similar to our house as a result."
Hadrian had to admit, Poppy Winter did have excellent taste and style.
" Roman given name and fairly unusual too, French surname." Intoned Ciel's grandfather with narrowed eyes.
" I was born and spent my early life in Provence. And my grandfather and father were rather taken with roman history." Hadrian answered the subtle request for more information with a polite smile. To his surprise Mr. Winter smiled faintly.
" Yes, lovely Provence. I spent my honeymoon there. Melissa loved the place and we returned several times."
His mate coughed and looked vaguely disgusted and mortified. Hadrian recalled that she could feel her grandfather's emotions with high precision. He held out his hand so she could focus on him instead. With a breath of relief and a grateful smile she took his hand. The exchange had not gone unnoticed.
" I suppose this is your beau, Ciel?"
" It is complicated." Replied his mate.
" Can we go to your study grandpa? This may take awhile."
His eyes narrowing even further, William Winter led them to his study. The only place in the house that Hadrian had seen that did not bear any hint of Poppy's touch. In fact it reminded him of the study of an old intellectual that Justina had been in the habit of calling on during the fall and winter of 1901. He had had to play the role of older brother and chaperone to her. Mr. Winter looked at them expectantly.
" Grandpa, you might want to sit for this one."
The elderly gentleman gave Hadrian a suspicious glare but complied with Ciel's request. She then turned to Hadrian.
" On the room next door there is a large green marble table. Can you be a dear bring it here?"
Hadrian left the room at beyond human speed but not quite that much. He heard William vaguely protest that he could pull a muscle and that it could only be lifted by two or three strong men together. And even so it barely moved. Hadrian lifted it with only one hand. When he brought it in the study he heard the sharp intake of breath from William and his heartbeat rise dramatically. Then the elderly human asked his granddaughter to fill him a glass with whiskey and walked up to where Hadrian had placed the table. Ciel gave him a few more instructions so it would be in just the perfect place. Once Hadrian was done, William gave the table a solid push, his frail arms straining, but the marble creation did not budge. Ciel took the opportunity to place a couple of vases and old books on it in a pleasing pattern. It seemed that she had picked up her mother's passion to some degree.
Taking a large gulp from his drink and a few moments of silence William demanded an explanation. Ciel pulled out the pamphlets and turning forms. William was told of 'things' and hardly showed any disbelief. There was a deep frown when Ciel explained about her witchcraft and the reasons she had kept it a secret from everyone. Hadrian recalled William's dislike of secrets and was apprehensive. But the old man did not comment on it. In fact his first comment astounded Hadrian.
" Can I sign up for it? Or am I too old?"
Hadrian noticed a small, triumphant smile on his mate's lovely face before it was smoothed away before William could notice. Then she handed him one of the turning forms. That solved the mystery to why she had asked him to stop in front of a photocopier establishment. William then started to enumerate the discomforts and limitations of his old age. Which were galling to someone that in his youth could have become a professional athlete. His vision had in particular been impaired. And they confirmed that people turned at old age were as able bodied as those who had been turned young. Hadrian in fact had several second hand accounts on that. And a first hand one, in 1799 Justina had been attacked by a nomad that appeared to have been turned at a very advanced age. The blighter had been highly skilled too. Hadrian had to step in and help Justina out after she had been smashed to bits and the other vampire was about to pull out a flint stone. Something that had never happened to her before, since as due to her age Justina was extremely skilled in combat. The only thing he and his father had on her was their witchcrafts.
He of course did not mention that the nomad had died, and by his own flint stone to boot. Neither Ciel or William would be much interested in that. Ciel gave him a look that he deciphered that she was aware that he was hiding something but having the summary on her head, she was able to draw the appropriate conclusions and not ask. William listened patiently to their stories. But when he learned that Ciel was skipping class he frowned and asked her to go back and attend the rest of her lessons. She looked like she wanted to disagree but sighed and promised to get back to it.
" If we leave now I can make it by lunch and attend the rest of the classes."
She murmured with a glance at her watch. Hadrian resigned himself to several hours without her.
Ciel sat in her English class after having reassured Mr. Delancy that she was feeling fine and that she was certain that she would not prefer to go back home and rest. Rubbing her temples while Mr. Delancy's back was turned she carefully scanned the room. On her right side, Luna was rather curious and felt expectant, most likely waiting to ambush her after class. About two desks behind her was Kathryn Moore, as always full of hatred for Ciel and most likely glaring daggers at her. Ciel risked a glance and confirmed it. She had yet to determine why the other girl was so hostile towards her. She had stopped caring about the reasons a long time ago since Kathryn had not exactly acted on her hatred (other than a few subtle put downs that received comebacks); and Ciel did not think it wise to ask. It might exacerbate the situation, whatever it was. And it was fairly common in high school for someone to hate another without an apparent reason.
The rest of the class were mostly bored, a few were feeling sorry that she was ill but also a little annoyed that the teachers gave her such leave. Lisa Woods, the school's goody two shoes, was feeling compassion on pair with Esme and seemed hopeful about something. Rafaela Lopez was rather worried and anxious but that had been her natural state for the last months so Ciel did not pay much attention. Plus Rafaela was a very private person and Ciel had always felt vaguely guilty for having access to her emotions. Mr. Delancy like always was feeling uncomfortable due to all the staring he got from the female population. Ciel had to fight a giggle. As attractive she may had found him before he did not hold a candle to Hadrian or any other vampire. She could feel him in the fringes of her range, it seemed that he had opted to stay in the parking lot rather than explore the area like she had proposed.
" Today we will start with Romeo and Juliet." Announced Mr. Delancy and pulled out books from a box and started to distribute them. Ciel's attention was caught by the shift in Luna's emotions. Amusement and a bit of worry as well. She even stuck a glance at her best friend. Luna just gave a little shrug and shot a quick, impish smile when she noticed.
" Do we have to do such a stupid story?" Irritably bit our Sean Tyler. He was the son of her mother's best friend Miranda Tyler, who lived across the street from them. The only reason Miranda had not been there to console her mother when she went missing for hours was because the Tyler family had gone to Victoria for the weekend. Sean was also a childhood friend of hers and dinner party companion, even if they did not interact much at school due to different interests. Ciel had him secretly nicknamed the Moody Pessimist. Luna's amusement grew, she had always found Sean's interruptions hilarious. Particularly since it made their teacher's eye twitch with repressed anger. Luna had an irrational dislike for Mr. Delancy, who bore some resemblance to the pictures of her absent father that Ms. Martini still kept. Much to Luna's disdain.
" And why do you think it is a stupid story, Mr. Tyler?" Mr. Delancy said in a calm tone, but he was boiling inside. It was not the first time Sean disagreed with working on a particular literary work. Sean gave a snort of disgust.
" First of all the Juliet girl is only fourteen! And the two of them fall in love, get married and commit suicide over each other in the space of three days. News flash, that does not happen in real life!"
He puffed out to say more but was interrupted by Luna starting to laugh uncontrollably. Ciel bit her lip, trying not to follow suit.
" Ms. Martini, if you can't control yourself it might be better if you go outside." Warned Mr Delancy with some peevishness having long caught on that Luna was not well inclined toward him. But then Luna did not go out of her way to hide it.
" Sorry sir." Choked out Luna before repossessing herself and shaking her long blonde hair in a gesture that caught several boys' attention. She shot a smug smirk at Sean.
" You know Sean, about twenty four hours ago I might have agreed with you. But now I know that you know nothing."
That remark merited perplexment from most of the class. But no one commented, not even Sean. He just settled himself on his desk and eyed his text with petulance. Feeling somewhat vindictive, Mr. Delancy made him read out Romeo's lines. And in an effort to make her feel better, he told Ciel to read Juliet's lines. Luna of course found this amusing and passed her a note wondering if Hadrian would be jealous and how worried should Sean be. Of course Kathryn saw her pass the note and alerted the teacher. But to the snitch's fury Mr. Delancy merely confiscated the note and threw it in the can, after a short and half hearted admonishment. Usually he tended to read the notes out loud in a sarcastic tone, something that had often befallen Kathryn and her friends. But then again it was very uncommon for Ciel and Luna to pass notes.
Once the bell rung, Luna barely gave Ciel enough time to get her belongings before dragging her off to have a private conversation. And reproach her for not calling and letting her know that she was skipping so she would have as well.
" So have you made a decision?" Asked Luna after Ciel told her about her conversation with her grandfather.
" I think I should file my application." Replied Ciel with a bit of discomfort and when Luna seemed about to protest she added.
" Signing the form is not final, I could change my mind up until I get injected with the venom. But it will be better if the form has been already filed. So in case there is an emergency Hadrian will be able to turn me without risking being send into another dimension and being suspected of causing the emergency. I might decide that I want some more time as human but I definitely don't want to die."
Luna raised an eyebrow at that.
" Would he?" She asked with a bit of a harsh tone. " Would he cause an emergency?"
Ciel sensed a flash of rage and hurt from Hadrian's direction.
" No." She answered with conviction. " He is incapable of it. And he did prevent a possible emergency when I almost fell down the stairs at the train station. Razi is mated himself so I don't think he would have tried to prevent Hadrian from taking a bite in such a situation."
Relief from both Hadrian and Luna. Ciel hoped that no one could see him, since that would be really hard to explain. Her next class took her to the other side of school where he could not follow without being accosted by a school official. It was slightly odd not to feel him anymore. Unfortunately the other class was Math and Kathryn was in the class as well. For some reason she was feeling smug and there was a malicious calculativeness to her that worried Ciel. And for some reason it was directed at her.
After solving a horde of equations and feeling Luna's content over it the bell finally rung. Signifying that they could finally leave. Ciel first got the Physics homework from Jackson Brown, since it was one class she did not share with Luna or even Sean and headed for her locker. It was in the same general area as Kathryn's. In the way, she and Luna came across her and her two friends. Ciel stopped to look at them with narrowed, suspicious eyes. Kathryn was planning something against her and Ciel wanted to be prepared.
Getting back to the parking lot while trying to guess Kathryn's intentions made Ciel wish she had telepathy like the Emperor rather than empathy. But once she got into sight of her car and Hadrian Ciel realised just what Kathryn's plan had been. The other girl was there, trying to chat up Hadrian while posing sexily. The vampire was steadfastly ignoring her and the spectacle, feeling utterly bored. Until a sudden breeze brought Ciel's scent to him and he turned around, smiling and his mate bond pouring out endless love. Which was quite soothing for her to sense after hours of whiny, petty teenagers. Plus watching Kathryn's face fall comically brought a smile.
Ciel focused on Kathryn, and was not surprised to find out that she was completely smitten with Hadrian, a little hurt that he had ignored her and that she disliked Ciel more than ever. When Hadrian took Ciel's book bag and opened the car door for her there was a spike of jealousy. Ciel smiled sweetly at her classmate.
" Have a good day Kathryn."
The glare she received made Ciel grateful that Kathryn could not shoot death rays out of her eyes. She wondered if there was a witch with that kind of power. Probably not or Elspeth would have included it in the summary. It was not something the hybrid princess would leave out. She told the truth completely, even when it was tactless to do so.
" Also it is a very bad idea to rummage thought Mr. Delancy's trash can. Who knows what kind of germs you can catch there."
Kathryn was startled and embarrassed. Hadrian stopped in his attempt to open the driver's door.
" Rummaging in trash cans?" He asked incredulously, giving Kathryn a perplexed stare.
" I was curious about what Luna Martini wrote to her." Defensively sputtered the girl while blushing furiously, feeling extremely embarrassed. There was some gladness that Hadrian was paying attention to her.
" I thought Americans were respectful of privacy." Wryly commented Hadrian in a rather disapproving tone that made Kathryn blush even more.
" Not really." Laughed Ciel. " We are shameless gossips as she sheer number of sleazy magazines attests."
Hadrian smiled fondly at her. Maybe a little too fondly because Ciel felt a sharp spike of jealousy from Kathryn.
" Well, you are not mon adore."
Ciel blinked at the French endearment and regretted taking Spanish instead of French. Kathryn had apparently taken French since the streams of her emotions got even stronger.
" It would hardly be fair if I gossiped." She said simply while trying not to blush.
Hadrian started the car and they left the parking lot. From the side mirror Ciel could see Kathryn, still rooted on the spot. She wondered how long it would be until the entire school knew of Hadrian.
Hadrian made a stop by Jeremy's school at his mate's request. The two educational establishments were only about three blocks away. And many of the students attending Ciel's high school had attended Jeremy's junior high before. They got out to a very strange scene.
Poppy, Jeremy and a man in a rather overly crisp suit were arguing in front of the entrance. What was strange was the protective hold Poppy had on Jeremy and the somewhat fierce expression on her perfectly groomed, lovely face. Hadrian saw his mate frown and look intensely at the two arguing adults. She appeared to have stumbled on a puzzle she could not solve.
" Jeremy has never missed completing an assignment, I closely follow my children's academic progress. You are blowing this one time occurrence way out of proportion Mr. Moore."
Hadrian noticed the teacher, Mr. Moore's face go stony when Poppy said 'my children' and his mate went utterly still as her eyes widened in surprise and looked intently at the middle aged man.
" The problem Mrs. Winter is that your son would not say why he did not complete it."
Poppy's flawlessly rouged lips curled in a sneer.
" Did not occur to you that Jeremy merely forgot and since he is an honour roll student it embarrassed him to admit it?" There was obvious pride in her voice at the honour roll part. Maybe Hadrian had misjudged Poppy, her shallowness seemed to be a front for the most part. And it was becoming clearer that she dearly loved both her children.
" Or that he was embarrassed to have forgotten it in the first place? You should have taken classes in child psychology while you completed your college diploma, I did and my university degree was architecture."
Hadrian raised an eyebrow in surprise at yet another depth revealed, but before he could even ask his mate answered in a low whisper that was inaudible to human ears. And barely audible to her own ears as well.
" She did study architecture along with interior design on the side. She partly owns an interior design agency but only works part time ever since I was born. But has not actually done any architecture work, judging by her boredom and irritation when she talks about it she lost interest in it during school but saw it through rather than give up."
Poppy caught sight of them and smiled brightly.
" Ciel darling, Hadrian good thing you are here. I have to talk to the principal so please take Jeremy home. Supper is warm in the oven. Ciel can you put it on the table? Start without me, it may take me a while."
With that she briskly ushered Jeremy toward them and glared at the teacher. Ciel looked from one to another.
" I can do that mom, but we will talk once you get home."
Poppy sighed and rubbed her temple.
" Of course, it is a long story, but I expect that you will agree with me in the end."
With that they took their leave. Jeremy was sullen and projecting. He was also scribbling on a leather bound book on the backseat. He grumbled a couple times for Hadrian to drive more smoothly. Hadrian obliged, mostly so he would not get zapped with irritation.
" Do you know what that was about?" Hadrian asked his mate.
Ciel frowned and bit her lip.
" It was strange, but Mr. Moore and mom know each other for somewhere and it was not pleasant for either of them. Mom is irked and disdainful at him and there seemed to be quite a lot of protectiveness toward Jeremy. Like she wanted to protect him from Mr. Moore."
" She is damn late." Hissed out Jeremy, not scribbling anymore. But then knowing about what people truly felt was more interesting.
" Anyway. Mr. Moore is extremely resentful toward mom, and hates her with a passion. If I did not know any better I would have thought that mom killed someone dear to him."
Ciel bit her lip in hesitation as Jeremy snorted.
" Mom would be capable of murder. Remember the 'accident' that secretary had last year on that birthday party at dad's work? Dad needed stitches too. But not as much as that woman."
Hadrian heard the quotation marks on Jeremy's voice and saw the blood drain from his mate's face.
" No one died thankfully or suffered any maiming. Now back to Mr. Moore. For some reason he hates the both of us too, not just mom."
Jeremy snorted again.
" I was already aware that Moore the Bastard hates me. But why you? Did he teach you as well or something?"
Ciel shook her head in negative.
" I was never in his class and I don't remember seeing him when I attended. He must have taken the job after I went to high school."
" Lucky you."
With that Jeremy did not deem them interesting anymore because he got back to scribbling. Something occurred to Hadrian.
" The girl that was trying to have a conversation with me in the parking lot is called Kathryn Moore."
Ciel smacked her knee.
" Or course. Whatever is going on between mom and Mr. Moore, Kathryn is aware of it. That is why she hates me so much."
Hadrian made a sharp turn that merited exclaims of surprise from the two siblings.
" Hadrian calm down."
He focused on her and tried to forget the disagreeable girl in the parking lot. He recalled the subtle and perplexing remarks that she made and saw them in a new light. From their interaction he gathered that the girl and his mate were not friends but did not expect it to be hatred due to what seemed a feud of families.
Again called Ciel.
" You are not doing anything to her. She had never actually acted on it and is free to hate whoever she wants."
" If she lays a hand on you!" He hissed ferociously, making Jeremy drop his scribble book.
" She will get suspended or even expelled. You are not going to harm her or anyone else."
The rest of the drive was silent and they arrived at the Winter home without problems. In front of the house was a surprise though. Justina had arrived and smiled hugely when she saw them. His creator was almost giddy. But then it did not happen every day that someone found his mate. Jeremy looked confused but Ciel smiled faintly after taking a step back. Most likely recognizing her from the vision Alice had sent them. Ciel looked rather tense most likely due to feeling the surface killer instinct from Justina. Maybe calling her so soon had not been a wise idea.
" You must be Justina. Hadrian's creator. He told me about you."
The vampire woman smiled like a cat before carefully shaking the offered hand. Ciel flinched minutely when Justina's cold hand touched hers.
" I am very happy to meet you and could not be gladder that Hadrian will not be mopping about being lonely anymore."
Ciel looked at Hadrian with a sceptical raised eyebrow.
" Lonely? Really?"
He supposed she had not caught that. But then once he found her, his earlier feelings of loneliness virtually flew away. To shift the focus from himself he pointed out Jeremy to Justina.
" This is Jeremy, Ciel's younger brother and recently manifested witch."
Justina smiled and addressed Jeremy directly.
" Hello young man, it is good to see you. How old are you?"
The boy startled a bit and Ciel gave Justina an odd look. Like another puzzle she needed to solve.
" Thirteen." He answered simply before his stomach growled and he flushed a bit in embarrassment. Jeremy projected the feeling and Justina looked very confused. Hadrian was certain that the confusion was because his shameless creator had no concept of embarrassment unless is something that she caused to others. Ciel ushered them all in the kitchen and expressed some puzzlement over the amount of food that Poppy had prepared.
" I guess she must have forgotten that you can't eat."
She gave two bottles of water to Hadrian and Justina since it offended her hostess sensibilities to leave two guests without some sort of refreshment. The extra food got put to good use because just as Ciel was about to sit down the doorbell rang. It was Luna and William.
" Hi grandpa!" Greeted Jeremy and practically bounced toward the old man, hugging him tightly. Ciel and Luna exchanged a few significant glances before the other girl sat down. Hadrian noticed that she had a somewhat large bag with her and pondered on the significance of it. But everyone gathered around the table and conversation focused mostly on turning procedures. William had already been to the capital to hand in his turning form. He had even met Princess Elspeth and seemed quite delighted with her.
" I wonder if all hybrids are that charming." He added with a bit of a significant tone that made Ciel roll her eyes.
" It is a little early to be fishing for great grandchildren, grandpa."
It did not discourage William and he persisted, being closely heard by everyone in the dinning room.
" Maybe not now but you might want to keep it in mind. Elspeth mentioned that her aunt Rosalie is running the egg bank at the capital."
" I guess hybrids do not inherit genetic illnesses."
William smiled so she added in a hurry.
" Not now, in a few years maybe."
The awkward silence that ensued was broken by Luna.
" How long would it take for the application to go through?"
Justina was the one to answer her since Ciel merely looked at Luna in puzzlement and a bit of worry.
" It depends. Mates, witches and the terminally ill are given priority. Those with a supernatural contact like a vampire family member or a friend come next. People that just happened to find out are at the bottom unless they develop a witchcraft or a likely to develop one after turning. If Ciel is already a vampire by the time you apply it would take about six months, much less if you agree to carry a hybrid."
Luna frowned at the mention of carrying a hybrid. It was dangerous and very uncomfortable despite the care and technology available. Hadrian had talked to Carlisle in regard to hybrids. The older ones were the progeny of the vampire Joham, and there had been quite a lot of causalities to pave the way for their existence. Carlisle had mentioned it mostly because due to his medical examination he had concluded that a hybrid pregnancy would be a very bad idea for Ciel. The short but vivid description of what the mother suffered had left Hadrian shuddering and he could not reproach Luna for being wary about it. Hadrian heard a car arrive and the clicks of Poppy's heels.
" Your mother is here."
He told Ciel. His mate got up and filled up a plate for her mother. As soon as she was done with that Poppy arrived in the dining room looking a bit tired but resigned. Even Jeremy was not impolite enough to interrupt her for the story between her and Mr. Moore while the woman ate. But he did project impatience and curiosity. Once she was done, Poppy delicately wiped her lips with a napkin and looked at everyone around. Her gaze lingered on Justina and she pursed her lips in displeasure.
" Young lady, this will be a family matter. I would prefer not to have a stranger within the earshot. So if you will be as kind as to leave until you are called I would be very grateful."
Justina raised a eyebrow.
" I am over two thousand years old, Madam Winter."
" Physically you are younger than me missy. And you are frozen in the age of turning if I am not mistaken."
Justina smiled and started to rise slowly.
" That is true enough. Does Hadrian count as family?"
" He is marrying my daughter."
Replied Poppy with some misgiving and a air of finality making Ciel drop her fork.
Poppy fixed her daughter with a determined glare.
" You are going to get yourself on a white dress and exchange rings with him on a lovely ceremony. The mating bond might be good enough for vampires but is not good enough for me. You are my only daughter and you will marry properly."
" You just want to organize a wedding!"
Accused Ciel, gray eyes flashing. Poppy shrugged.
" Of course I do. Don't worry sweetheart, I will take care of everything. You will only have to show up on the loveliest dress we manage to find."
Ciel sighed, most likely feeling the determination.
" At least one year from now."
She grumbled and Poppy smiled in satisfaction. Jeremy was glaring.
" Enough with stupid weddings. What is the deal with Moore the Bastard?"
Poppy rubbed her temples.
" About seven years ago Kevin Moore's youngest daughter Karina was diagnosed with leukemia, a type that has more fatalities than the one Ciel got. The doctors suggested bone marrow transplant but none of her relatives had a leukocyte antigen that matched hers sufficiently. Kevin Moore had also done a vasectomy after the birth of his third child since they apparently could not afford to send more children to college. So when Karina got sick they were stumped. They also had some silly religious concerns about in vitro fertilization and creating a human life for the purpose of saving someone else. This when their child was dying." She spat out with some derision.
Poppy took a sip of water.
" While Kevin wallowed on is conscience his daughter kept getting worse. The donor bank did not have a viable match for her either. Then a cousin of theirs who was a nurse decided to interfere."
Ciel interrupted her and asked pointedly.
" Was a nurse?"
Poppy's grey eyes, which were much like Ciel and Jeremy's frosted over.
" I ensured that that interfering pestilence lost her job in the hospital and was never again hired as a nurse."
Ciel actually gaped in astonishment, Hadrian watched his mate rather than future mother in law. Poppy was keeping a very accomplished poker face.
" That nurse took the liberty of looking over patient records. She found Ciel's records and noticed that Jeremy was a suitable match for Karina Moore. She proceeded to run to the rest of the Moore household and give them the news. Kevin and his wife Kim accosted me as I was going to go see Ciel in the intensive care unit after the transplant. And I had just talked to Jeremy over the phone, and he was crying because his hip hurt from the stem cell extraction."
Poppy's nostrils flared in rage and Ciel let out a slightly gasp.
" Those wretches practically demanded Jeremy's stem cells!"
Everyone around blinked and looked at Jeremy, who looked frightened.
" I refused and when they started to get hysterical and rude I called for security. It did not end there. They found our phone number and kept leaving messages and calling every five minutes. We had to change the number. Kevin tried to accost me and Bill as we left for work several times. Bill called the police and a restraining order was issued. They kept sending letters but it was useless. I would have never subjected Jeremy to that for the sake of a stranger!"
Poppy took a few calming breaths. Everyone kept looking stupefied.
" It was a horrible time. There was the danger that Ciel's body would reject the donation. I am afraid I was rather sharp and even cruel with them. But they should just have gotten the vasectomy reversed and conceived a saviour sibling. Not demand such a thing from people that did not owe anything to them."
Everyone was silent and since Poppy retired in her study, Hadrian assumed that she did not want to talk more on the matter and called Justina to tell her that she could come back. The Winter siblings were particularly subdued. Hadrian made sure to sit near Ciel. Justina got immersed on Ciel's book collection, drawing a smile from the empath.
Ciel finished her home work on record time. Mostly due to the fact that Hadrian kept giving her hints with her algebra assignments. Her mind kept going back to Mr. Moore and his family. Poppy had not mentioned if the child has survived, but judging by the pity her mother had felt when talking of her, Ciel was inclined to think that she had not. Her mom did not feel any guilt, she was just glad that her own children were alive and well. And two donations in a short time would have advisedly affected Jer's health. Ciel could not fault her mother's decision to refuse. But she did feel sorry the other girl had died.
She could feel Poppy in the study, completely focused on something that demanded all her attention. All the previous feelings of anger and unease had evaporated. Instead she appeared to be content. Ciel poked her head inside the study and noticed several architectural sketches. And also drawings of room design. Recalling her mother's joy at the idea of a wedding, Ciel withdrew quietly, not wanting to bring attention to herself. Or she would be there all day, having to give input.
One thing drew her attention. A bright yellow folder on her mother's desk. It was remarkable because Poppy hated shades of bright yellow and everything else in the room was in shades of pewter and sky blue. Ciel wondered what was on it for a few moments before being distracted by Hadrian and Justina's game of speed chess. Speed chess in the sense that they were playing inhumanly fast. Their movements a blur to human eyes and the games were over in a few seconds before starting anew. Only their emotions of triumph or petulance indicated who had won or lost. Justina seemed to win more often, and she was not a graceful winner since she often gloated. Negating the need for witchcraft.
Then Hadrian's cell phone rang. It was his father Philippe, who had been part of the Volturi guard and had the power of invisibility. After exchanging a few words with his son, Philippe asked to talk to her. Ciel accepted the phone with a bit of hesitation.
" Hello." She said, glad that her voice did not tremble.
" Good evening dear child. Do you happen to have a computer connected to the internet so we may see each other over a camera?"
Philippe had a smooth, kindly voice. Ciel smiled, feeling at ease. She headed on her room and loaded her laptop. Following the instructions she got on skype and responded to the call from Philippe.
The vampire that appeared on the screen looked very similar to Hadrian. She would have guessed that they were brothers. They seemed to be the same age too and Ciel had trouble believing that they were father and son. Fathers in her perspective had to look a lot older than their children. Philippe was smiling kindly and his eyes were a reassuring bright gold.
Their conversation was awkward at first. Ciel had never found herself in such a situation. But Philippe was quite charming and both a good initiator and listener. He asked about her life, likes and dislikes. They discussed their respective witchcraft. Philippe was impressed with the accuracy and range she had as a human. His own witchcraft was something special itself. Philippe did not just become invisible, he also could not be heard as he moved or smelled.
" Aro could still read me if I poked him while invisible." He elaborated while looking vaguely annoyed but had a slightly fond smile that disturbed Ciel for a bit. Then she remembered Chelsea and that Philippe had never been deprogrammed by Elspeth.
" The best thing was that the little abomination Jane could not torture me if she could not see me. I smashed her to gravel once!" He boasted, a smug and proud grin on his face.
Ciel did not know much of Jane but what she knew reassured her that the former immortal teenager had deserved it and more. Her brother was still alive.
" Alec is still around, he anesthetises people during turning." She remarked of hand, wanting to change the conversation to a subject more pleasant than the Volturi torture device. Philippe's eyes widened and a fearsome expression appeared on his face.
" Hadrian!" He called loudly and Ciel's mate was there in a flash. To Ciel's surprise he radiated deep concern and a hint of fear.
" Damnation father." He said in a soft voice. Ciel looked at him in confusion. Hadrian sighed and spoke to explain.
" Father and Jane deeply hated each other. Jane did not like it when her power failed and father is rather prone to holding grudges. When he first arrived as a newborn she used her power on him, 'just so he would know who he was dealing with'. Father then realized that she could not affect him if she could not see him and returned the favour by smashing her to bits when he had full control of his power."
Philippe harrumphed and muttered something inaudible to Ciel that drew an incredulous stare from Hadrian.
" Alec was utterly and pathetically devoted to his monster of a sister." Continued the narrative Philippe with a hint of disgust.
" If Chelsea and Aro had not assured me of the opposite I would have believed that he was her mate, they were that attached to each other. Alec took grave offense when I smashed the little horror even though she had attacked me first and completely unprovoked. I got into the habit of ripping of Jane's arms once in a while when she was particularly obnoxious. But was careful to only do it when Alec was not nearby. His power would affect me."
While an interesting anecdote Ciel failed to see the point of it. Or why it had both of them so worried. Her expression must have shown that because Hadrian sat on one of the edge of her bed.
" Alec could try and take it out on you."
Ciel gulped, more than a little worried.
" I am not turning without the benefit of anaesthesia." She stated with more conviction than she felt.
" So you better find another way of getting around this problem."
Hadrian radiated alarm while Philippe chuckled.
" Adelaide, the copy witch can copy Alec when you turn." That was good enough for Ciel.
" Still, I find it worrisome that the empress would keep such a symbol of the old rule about." Interjected Philippe. Ciel looked at him questioningly. Hadrian's father elaborated.
" Every time Aro had to confront or face covens he would keep Jane and Alec about. Flaunting them, praising their power, calling them the jewels of his guard. It was rather annoying."
The last sentence was said with a slightly miffed tone. Despite the fact that her power did not work though an electronic connection it worried Ciel. Once Philippe would arrive in Washington state she would insist that he get deprogrammed by Elspeth. The wrong numbness of the destructive part of Chelsea's power was truly repulsive. Ciel did not want to experience what the illusory part would feel like. Jasper's manipulative power had been bad enough. And Jasper was a good person from what she had seen. He adored his mate, not that was much to evaluate on since every vampire was impossibly devoted to their mate. But Jasper had volunteered to be made again to care for the people he had been sniped from. Also Carlisle and Esme loved him dearly.
It might be better to approach the subject of deprogramming later and as delicately as possible. From what Hadrian had said, Philippe was highly paranoid and distrustful. It would take quite a bit of coaxing for him to submit to have subjected to the magic of a stranger.
" When are you coming here?" Asked Hadrian his father.
" I am trying to buy back some of our old lands in Provence. Unfortunately an annoying human female seems determined to up my price. The current owners are torn on the subject."
There was so much vehemence in his voice that Ciel was glad for the woman's sake that the vampire regime had changed to the current, more compassionate one.
" I am working with intimidating the owners into submission and digging up dirt on the woman."
Ciel wanted to object but she abruptly recalled that her own father used similar business tactics. She adjusted her face to perfect neutrality in an effort to afford Hadrian's father the same courtesy she afforded her own father.
" Your own father has not killed anyone." A snide voice in her head made herself heard. Ciel ignored it and tried to be charitable. Elspeth had given her the full scope of what it was like to be a vampire. The predatory instincts were close to impossible to overcome. The only one that had succeeded from moment one was the saint like Carlisle. But would be unfair to ask anyone to live up to that paragon of goodness. Still it would have been easier for her own conscience if Hadrian had discovered his conscience before the new laws had been established. The conversation eventually got to an end but Philippe extracted a promise from her that she would call him again tomorrow. Ciel readily agreed.
She thought that would have been the last surprise of the day. Until a dejected and desperate Luna entered her room and politely asked Hadrian to leave for a while. Hadrian complied after a nod from Ciel. The empath looked at her friend who looked ready to burst into tears. Before Luna had radiated careful neutrality, Ciel had thought it a little off, but she had been more focused on Justina's killer instinct and her mother's mixed feelings. Her best friend had escaped notice, but then she could only keep track of the emotions of only so many people at the same time. Ciel hoped that would be easier with an improved vampire brain. Still she felt like smacking herself for not noticing Luna's emotional turmoil before.
" What happened?" She asked, cutting to the chase. Luna's emotions told her that something was seriously wrong.
Hadrian listened to his mate and best friend talk. Luna's problem was agitating him. To Ciel, who loved the other girl and could feel her emotions it would be far worse. He spoke to Justina on a pitch inaudible to human ears and both of them left the house after telling Poppy that they were going hunting. Ciel's mother barely even heard them, being immersed on her work and humming happily to herself. Ciel did not sense their intentions either, mostly due to being completely focused on her best friend.
A few hours later and a reproachful phone call from Alice they both returned. Ciel, Jeremy and Luna were asleep. William, Bill and Poppy were still awake and seated around the dinning room table. Bill's eyes lingered on Justina, making his wife give a groan of disgust. William pursed his lips in disappointment.
"Do we have to discuss this now?" Complained Bill with visible irritation.
"Is late and I am tired."
Poppy drummed her fingers on the polished surface of the table.
"You forget that our daughter can sense our emotions while she is awake. And I don't want to distress her."
"Actually." Started Hadrian and all three humans turned to look at him.
"Ciel can perceive the emotions of others even while asleep."
Poppy started to rub her temples and glared at her husband. Who recoiled slightly and looked confused. Then she recollected herself and smiled chillingly.
" So when you brought that harlot home while I was visiting Lily before the holidays, Ciel did get a full blast of that!" Hadrian recalled that Lily Lloyd was Poppy's younger and still unmarried sister that lived in San Francisco. The other aunt, was called Marigold Daniels and she lived in Bainbridge Island with her husband and no children, northeast of Seattle. She was the eldest of the sisters, and for some reason she seemed to irritate Ciel, judging by the clipped tone and tense muscles when his mate spoke of her older aunt. Hadrian wondered how Ciel had escaped being named after a flower.
Bill turned an interesting shade of green and looked at the ceiling. Hadrian made a disgusted face at Bill before turning to Poppy.
" Ciel cant remember exactly what she receives from her empathic channel while asleep but it does affect her sleep quality. So is very likely she had disturbing nightmares on that night."
" Is this woman the one you tried to kill at the Christmas party?" Mildly asked Hadrian.
Poppy spared him a glance and imperiously raised an eyebrow.
" You are hardly in a position to cast stones at me."
Hadrian wisely shut up and Justina once again left at Poppy's request for privacy after sniggering a bit at Poppy's quip. Hadrian threw her the keys of his apartment and hoped that she would not try and crack the password to his computer. Or mess up his stuff.
" Is she gone?" Asked Poppy looking at him. Hadrian nodded after listening for about a second. Then he took a seat that placed him right in front of Poppy. Since she seemed the one that was going to do most of the talking.
" Ok, everyone." She started.
" Ciel is going to be a vampire and all that comes with it. William had handed in an application too. Jeremy might decide to turn after he is old enough."
Bill did not let her continue.
" Why is dad turning? And what reason has Jeremy to become a vampire? Is not like he is on remission and can relapse at any time!"
Hadrian did not dignify that with a response, especially given the tension he could see on Poppy's frame.
" I don't know Bill, why wouldn't our son want to live forever and have superpowers?"
" Because once turned he will be impulsive, out of control and be prone to irrational first sight eternal insanity!" That was rather insulting.
Poppy gripped the table's edge so hard that her knuckles turned white. He hoped she did not get a splinter and bleed. He was able to control himself but increased bloodlust would not be nice for Ciel to feel.
" As long as he will be happy, who are you to begrudge him immortality? Also he will be eternally loyal to his mate."
" I am his father and he will listen to me!"
Hadrian thought he should intervene. Both spouses had risen from their chairs and where in very aggressive stances. But he was not sure how much authority and leave he had on the household. Luckily someone else chose to intervene.
" Enough!" Roared William. Bill and Poppy jerked as if stung and sat back down.
William looked hard at his own child first.
" Bill, you can't decide on Jeremy's behalf. He is his own person and he has a better head in his shoulders than you at same age. Besides he is only thirteen and it will be several years before he is old enough to turn."
When he looked at Poppy his eyes were softer.
" You might want to recall that Ciel can sense your emotions and that you are causing her distress."
Poppy relaxed visibly. Hadrian listened for his mate's breathing and heartbeat. Since everything was in norm he assumed that she was mostly picking up on his mate bond. He did not tell them that, since they could start arguing again and actually start to distress Ciel's sleep. William's reminder did shut up the married couple and even though his son seemed to be itching to ask questions. Slowly they all decided to go to bed. As she was going up the stairs Poppy called to him.
" There is a computer in the study. The password is Ciel's and Jeremy's names with the vowels capitalized."
A kind offer, but Hadrian recognized between the lines. Stay out of my daughter's room. Not that he would, it might startle Ciel. Instead he started looking through Poppy's photo albums. As he was smiling at pictures of a tiny Ciel chasing a toddler Jeremy his phone rang. It was an unknown number. Hadrian answered anyhow.
" Greetings." Said another vampire on the other end.
" My name is Marcus. Alice informed me that your mate wanted to talk to me?"
Everything that he knew of Marcus flashed in Hadrian's mind.
" Yes, her witchcraft allows her to perceive the mating bond and she is worried of the possibility of addiction."
And what would happen if Hadrian got himself killed, but he did not mention that to Marcus. It would open wounds in the other vampire, and Hadrian was not that cruel. Ciel was better equipped to ask that in a tactful manner that would cause far less pain.
" Right now she is asleep, but we will come to hand her turning papers sometime this or next week."
There was a second of silence.
" I am not particularly busy. But I would appreciate to have a warning before your arrival."
Hadrian readily agreed, having already memorised Marcus's number. He hoped that what Marcus had to say would not change Ciel's mind about turning. Hadrian would use the time before to reassure her that he was very difficult to kill. Much more so than poor Didyme and been. His father called latter, mostly to express his irritation at the slowness of the negotiations to buy back their ancestral lands. It had been a pet obsession of Philippe for several centuries. Before the fall of Volterra he had not dared to repossess them due to concerns of being detected by the Volturi and suffering the consequences of his desertion. That useless lump Caius had been furious in particular. But then again that particular Volturi had had a chronic case of witch envy. His opposition to have Alec administer painless turning was proof to that. Jane was possibly the only witch in history to have benefited from the pain of turning.
The night went by with him listening to Ciel's heartbeat and looking at pictures of her in various stages of life. The pictures from the times she had been sick and fighting for her life did make him want to rip his own eyes out. But he saw them through, if Ciel could handle to live through it he could handle the second hand account of her suffering. Poppy was the first to wake and descend in the kitchen to prepare food for her family.
" Do you need any help?" Hadrian asked his mate's mother.
The woman glared at him with a ferocity that took him slightly aback. He could hear her heard beat faster, see her muscles tense and how her fist clenched. Then her eyes flashed to the ceiling and she took a deep breath. That was not a good sign. Poppy had not shown any strong emotion toward him before. And he had not observed Ciel pay any undue attention to her mother. But then again Ciel might not particularly care that her mother actively disliked him. Hadrian wondered if she merely did not care of her mother's opinion or if she did not deem him important enough for her. He closed his eyes and tried not to let the pain that the thought had caused show on his face.
And told himself that she seemed to like having him around. At least she had not asked him to leave. Yet. Whispered a snide voice in his mind. Maybe she is just afraid to say it out loud. Hadrian screamed at the voice of his insecurity to shut up inside his head and opened his eyes. Only one second had elapsed for him. And not time at all for Poppy.
" I rather doubt you would be of any use in the kitchen, but you could go to the grocery store about a block away and fetch some blueberries for Jeremy."
Hadrian smiled and nodded.
" Anything for Ciel?"
Poppy's lips pursed.
" Raspberries for her. And some fresh mint."
Hadrian took off like a flash, smiling at the gasp he heard. He easily found the store and got what he needed. The cashier, most irritatingly tried to make eyes at him. Hadrian ignored her and once out he threw the receipt, where she had written a phone number, on the nearest trash can. Poppy did not thank him, she just took the purchases and started to work with them. She seemed to be making separate things for everyone. There were three portions of mushroom and sun dried tomato omelettes. Blueberry pancakes sprinkled with fresh blueberries and honey. And also raspberry pancakes in a larger quantity that the pancakes, decorated much in the same way. Feeling his eyes on her Poppy looked up and explained.
" Myself, Bill and William rather like having eggs for breakfast. But Jeremy apparently loathes eggs. And I doubt Ciel likes them that much after sensing his emotions for years. And blueberries and cherries are his favourite foods. Cherries are not in season now and I am not going to feed him preserves with tons of chemicals and harmful additions in them. Both Ciel and Luna like raspberries. Has cooking been demystified to you yet?"
Now he knew how to make an omelette and pancakes if it came to that but was not going to explain that to her. Poppy was obviously spoiling for a fight. Hadrian supposed that having a vampire with an unclean record mated on her daughter was taking a toll on her nerves. Hopefully she would get over it soon. And he had the impression that she did want her daughter to become a vampire, to prevent the possibility of another relapse. But that did not mean that she wanted him to be the cause of it.
William was the first to wake and descend down for breakfast. Hadrian noticed him grip the railings a little too often and too much. Also he seemed slightly hesitant in his step. Maybe he should subtly hint to the elderly man to stay around his family in case there was an accident. Ciel would be devastated if something happened to her beloved grandfather.
" Good morning Poppy. Hadrian."
With that he sat down to enjoy his breakfast. Poppy also brought out some mint tea. William smiled broadly at that. Bill was the one down next, and he did not greet anyone, just glared sullenly at everything. Then Jeremy, Luna and finally Ciel. Hadrian shifted his body in her direction, ready to sprint to her at a fraction of a second. Ciel looked half asleep but due to her empathy she looked in his direction. Poppy noticed too, because her heartbeat became furious and her breathing hitched. Ciel stopped looking in his direction.
" Nothing important dear, just some annoyance at work."
Ciel raised her eyebrows, fully awake now.
" Mom, it's useless to lie to me unless you start taking acting lessons from Meryl Steep."
Poppy had the grace to look down. Bill perked up.
" You can tell when people are lying?" He demanded archly. Ciel's lips thinned.
" I can make a very good guess due to their emotions. Like guilt for lying in the first place, fear of being caught and general unease or anxiety. It took me a few years practice, and it was a rather interesting study of human nature. But someone that is a master actor and is not emotionally bothered by lying would fool me. And it depends how familiar I am with someone's emotional range. So complete strangers would be harder that neighbours. Family and close friends are the easier."
Then Ciel went still.
" No!" She addressed her father.
" Absolutely no!"
She seemed distressed and Hadrian was at her side in a flash.
" I'm not going to do whatever that is. And think of something else. I can't eat while choking on a wave of greed."
Bill's eyes were not on his daughter but on Hadrian.
" Stop scarring him Hadrian. Fear is not pleasant to have around either."
To achieve that Hadrian left the room altogether. He could still hear and he would go back if Bill distressed her again. His mate's father did not say anything. But her brother did.
" Honestly dad, trying to turn your daughter into a corporate spy?"
Jeremy's voice was very scornful and he projected said scorn, hitting Hadrian with it too. Good lad, maybe that would deter Bill for while. Hadrian checked his messages. There was one from work, asking if he was feeling better. He had called them while on the capital and told them that he had come down with flu. Carlisle had looked a bit amused at that. Soon he would have to get back to work at least for a few days until he could negotiate working from home. Hadrian had no desire to spend eight hours on a cubicle processing statistics when he could be with his mate. Or at least shorten his work hours so he could go and pick her up from school every day. That might be better, since it would at least keep him occupied on the hours he had to spend away from her.
He heard her approach.
" Something the matter?" She asked him. An article that he had read five months ago flashed in Hadrian's mind. Sometimes humans were rather put off from a show of excessive possessiveness early in courtship. Almost panicking he borrowed Poppy's earlier response.
" Work." He replied laconically and saw her smile.
" I'm sure." She said sardonically and then headed upstairs, laughing lightly. It was the most joyful sound he had ever heard.