A/N: So I lost any sort of writing desire in the last couple of months. I'm working to bring it back, considering I have the sequel to this fic mostly plotted out already. Thanks for bearing with me!


Chapter Ten:

I woke up in a one-bed hotel room. My father was sleeping on the couch. My head was throbbing, but I was definitely alive. Surely the afterlife wouldn't be so… normal?

I wasn't sure what to think. How had I gotten here? Why was I still alive? Had it all been a dream?

"Zizi?" my father asked groggily, sitting up. Overcome with happiness, I raced from the bed to the couch to give him a big hug, ignoring the pain I was in. "Oh, my poor dear girl, you had quite the nightmare, didn't you? I'm so sorry, poppet. I tried waking you, but you were out cold."

I cuddled up to him. He is probably the single most cuddly creature on the planet. "I guess so. What happened to me? Did the house burn down or did I dream that?"

He sounded quite sad as he nuzzled the side of my face. I thought his voice sounded rather damp, but convinced myself I was imagining things. I'd never seen him cry, so why would he start now? "No, you remember correctly. You got home after your evening with your friends, and you went inside the house, you ridiculous thing. When the fire-fighters found you, you'd passed out from smoke inhalation and had a large piece of the roof land on your head. That's why you must feel so sore, and you poor thing, you're all bruised up. I think Lower Tadfield must have cursed you, dear heart."

Huh. I wasn't sure whether or not to believe him at the time, considering if my recollection was correct, then I had no business not being dead. But I certainly didn't recall going into the house, and I wasn't burnt at all. I didn't know what to think, so I just curled up. "I agree. This place is definitely cursed."


When I went back to school, the whole building seemed to know what had happened and I was being questioned regularly about my misadventures. Did I think I was crazy or stupid for running into a burning building (neither, considering I didn't remember doing it)? What was it like living out of a hotel room (not terribly comfortable)? Did I need any extra clothes (no, thanks to insurance and my father's emergency bank account)? Was I feeling ridiculous for having had numerous huge injuries inflicted on me twice (yes, vehemently so)?

The only person who wasn't at all interested in my story was Anthony, because he wasn't in school. In fact, he missed the entire week.

Now wondering what was going on even more so, after school on Friday I drove out to the vampire's mansion, slightly anxious. My main worry was the idea that perhaps the Volturi had located some measure of proof and attacked. What if Anthony was dead? The closer I got to the mansion, the more convinced I was that I would encounter some sort of horrific scene of the massacred coven, and at one time I almost became too anxious to keep going. Certainly Satan being gone wouldn't be an awful fate - well, except for Adam - and I'd never met Beelzebub so I wouldn't mourn him, but Adramelech was kind and Belial was Anthony's father and who knew about Asmodeus, and what would I do if Anthony was dead because of me?

My thoughts raced until I drove up to the pristine scene of the coven's home, perfectly unscathed. That was a slight relief, but it was enough of one to prompt me out of my car and to ring their doorbell.

Anthony answered, and his face - well, given those sunglasses, what I could see of his face - looked unimpressed. "Yeah?"

I scowled at that. What a rude and peculiar greeting! "Really? I get my house burnt down, kidnapped, and nearly killed, and all you can say is 'yeah?' Why have you been avoiding me?"

As I talked, his eyebrows slowly rose until they reached his hairline. "You remember?"

That threw me off my tirade. "I take it I'm not supposed to?"

His answer was a surprising display of affection - a full and strong hug. Sunlight was filtering through the trees and the clouds, turning his skin into diamonds as beams passed. "That's Death's power. He can wipe someone's memories."

Oh, so it was a metaphorical death. I supposed that made sense, considering all vampires were killing machines so being able to kill didn't seem too out of the ordinary. "Well, I don't think it worked, although I have no idea how I got home."

"For all their power, they're not into open warfare - well, except for War obviously. Anyway, they're old and very cautious, so I wouldn't be surprised if they decided to not risk killing you in case word got out. They have no problem kidnapping tourists and bleeding them dry, declaring them victims of slave trades, but to actually take someone from another coven's territory… Even if we didn't know you - even though Satan doesn't give a rat's arse about you, he'd still be pretty ticked."

I considered that even as I started blushing, since the hug was still ongoing. "But the entire point was to prove that you did know me."

He was silent for a few seconds. "Oh, I get it. They wanted to prove that someone spilled the beans to a human."

"Right, to provoke a fight."

"There's a difference between violating our territorial rights and punishing our transgressions."

I, for one, was equal parts relieved and disappointed. First, it was obvious he'd been worried, which was flattering, and if he had actually shown up in my honour it would have proven beyond a doubt we had a liaison. That being said, I had assumed he would have made some attempt at a rescue. I suppose he was too lazy. Or, possibly, just very out of the loop. Regardless, I suppose it worked out for the best.

Even if a lot of questions were left unanswered, which simply bothered me.

"Well, you may want to run now," he advised, still not letting me go. "Adramelech is home, and prom is coming up. Believe it or not, I have about as much desire to go as you do, and if he catches you, it's almost a guarantee."

I blushed at the idea. For some reason, not only had I barely been accepting that I was going to have to go to prom, but it definitely hadn't occurred to me that Anthony would be my date. Although, considering he still wasn't letting me go… Well, the whole thing was awfully flattering. Unless, of course, he decided to make himself my personal bodyguard, in which case I was going to be more irked than flattered. Oh well, cross that bridge when I come to it and all that.

I sighed. "I may as well accept that fate. After being nearly killed, I find I don't have the energy to fight going to a stupid dance. Although... do you mind if I think out loud?"

"Nope."

"Frankly I find it very hard to believe that they would order my kidnapping, wipe my memory, and then return me safe and sound. There has to be something more to it. Also, what were you doing while I was being carted across the continent? I'd been kidnapped to implicate you, you know."

"Well..." He looked terribly uncomfortable and finally let me go, running his fingers through his hair. "Mysteries abound. You may never know the truth. It's an exciting time."

"What?"

"I wanted to save you but they wouldn't let me!" exclaimed Adramelech, having apparently appeared out of nowhere. "It would have been incredibly dramatic! But you, dear girl, I have a feeling you're a trouble magnet and considering you're still wearing polyester, I feel like my work with you will never be done."

"All my clothes are gone," I pointed out. For the second time this year, I was kidnapped.


Epilogue:

So yes, I went to prom. But you don't care about that, do you? It was lovely and adorably awkward. The dress fit nicely, although considerable makeup was needed to make me look presentable. Adam and Pepper went as dates, which I had to admit I was jealous about but also proud of Adam for not needing my help to ask her; or, now that I think about it, I'm sure she asked him.

Despite the situation with the vampires raising more questions than it answered, my father and I had to move back to London with my uncles due to the fact that we no longer had a house. Neither of us were particularly interested in moving back to Lower Tadfield, thankfully, although part of me felt like leaving without getting my questions answered was simply a cop-out.

I should have known better than to assume that bad luck and the paranormal wouldn't follow me.