Sean hit the ground for what felt like the thousandth time that afternoon. His muscles no longer seemed to be obeying the orders of his brain and he ended up in a heap on the mat. He was definitely going to need to sleep on his stomach tonight.
"Sean, I've told you a hundred times: Keep your feet tucked." Kelly HAD said it a hundred times, but it was a lot to remember: 'Tuck your head. Push off with your rear leg. Allow your body to rock forward into the roll across from shoulder to the hip. Keep your feet tucked during the roll. Come out of the roll hands up turning to face the direction the roll was begun.'
Sean didn't move from the mat. He was NOT getting up, only to fall back down once again. The servants would have to carry him out.
"Just one good one, and then we can stop for the day." It was easy for Kelly to say 'just on more', she hadn't done the first few hundred. Kelly put her hands on her hips.
"Come, Sean. Let's not forget whose idea this was in the first place." Sean groaned. When he'd asked Kelly if they could spend their last few weeks before he went back to school on martial arts training, this wasn't what he'd had in mind.
It had all started a week ago when Kelly had taken him to see a movie for the first time in his life. His father considered film vulgar entertainment for the lower classes and his mother wasn't interested in spending time with Sean that didn't involve intelligence gathering or grooming him into Philippe's idea of a perfect prince.
When Kelly had invited him to come with her to see an action movie, Sean had suggested they keep the outing a secret from his father. The Grimm had vehemently refused, saying that she couldn't possibly kept secrets from Philippe. In that moment he'd found it hard to believe she was the same woman who had flatly lied to the prince for him on the night they met. Kelly was different than she'd been two months ago.
Most of the time the changes were imperceptible, but whenever the Prince was in the room, or even mentioned, Kelly turned in someone he barely recognized. Her eyes dilated, and a dreamy smile crept over her face. If the Prince spoke, she listened as if there was no one else in the room. Kelly's head seemed to nod in agreement with everything he said. Sean didn't like it, but he tried his best to ignore it.
Sitting in a cinema for the first time in his life it was easy to forget his worries about Kelly's strange new behavior. Sharing a bowl of popcorn with Kelly as they watched actors kick and punch their way across the silver screen felt like a scene in someone else's life. For those few hours of blissful escape nothing existed outside that movie theater; not his father, not his mother, and not his brother. When the credits rolled Kelly had had to practically drag him out of his seat. Sean doubted he would ever see another performer in the whole of his life that would bring him more joy than Jackie Chan had that day.
The second he and Kelly had emerged from the building Sean had begged Kelly train him the basics of the martial arts. She had agreed, and he'd been thrilled. Unfortunately the lessons hadn't been quite what he had imagined.
"I don't see what rolling on the ground has to do with martial arts." Sean had thought he'd be learning kicks and punches, not summersaults
"You're learning how to protect yourself when you fall-" Kelly stopped mid-sentence and put her hand over her mouth. Without warning she sprinted off the mat with at a breakneck speed, grabbed the wastebasket by the door and vomited into it. Sean struggled to sit up; watching with a combination of concern and disgust as she finished, put the basket down and walked over to her water bottle.
"Are you alright?" Kelly smiled weakly as she took a swig of water.
"I'm fine." She didn't look fine. Her skin had taken on a greenish hue.
"I'll get the servants to call a doctor." Sean pushed himself to his feet, but Kelly motioned for him to stop.
"Sean, I'm not sick."
"You just threw up." People vomited for a reason. Something was wrong with Kelly, and Sean would see she was taken care of. He had promised to protect her, after all.
"Yes, but I'm not sick, I'm-" Kelly stared intently at him for a few seconds, then sighed, "Sean, would you sit down please? I have to tell you something. I was going to tell your father first, but this concerns you too," Kelly waited until Sean had lowered himself back down on the floor before announcing, "You're going to be a big brother." Sean's mouth dropped open.
"I don't understand." A big brother? Him? Did that mean that Kelly was…
"I'm pregnant, Sean." Her words were like a detonating bomb, destroying Sean's world in a single instant. The blood drained from his face and he heard ringing in his ears. It was the end of everything.
He didn't move as Kelly scooted over to sit beside him.
"I know this must be a big shock, but I love Philippe and he loves me and we're all going to really happy together. Whoever's in here, I know they're going to love you as much as I do." The last sentence somehow penetrated his inner turmoil.
"You love me?" The word felt strange on his tongue. 'Love' wasn't a term used by members of his family, as least not in reference to one another. 'Love' was a weakness to be exploited in others, not something felt by or for Royalty. Sean thought back to his mother's words to him, 'we aren't loveable.' Yet Kelly said she loved him and Kelly didn't lie.
"Of course I do. You don't think I'd take just anyone to see The Young Master with me do you?" Kelly tentatively reached out an arm and draped it over Sean's shoulders. She didn't seem to mind he was smelly and sweaty from his lesson. The Grimm squeezed his shoulder and something inside Sean broke. He leaned into her chest and started to cry.
Sean wept for everything he'd suffered at the hands of his family. He wept for kind words never spoken and embraces never given. Sean sobbed for the life that would never be his. He sobbed for fairytales and Jackie Chan. Sean cried for Kelly. He cried the mother he'd always wanted, the friend he'd always wished for, and the protector he'd always needed. Kelly rubbed Sean's back in small circles as his tears wet her shirt.
"Everything is going to be alright. It won't be like it is with Eric. You're going to love having a baby brother." Sean had trouble believing that. Brothers were threats and rivals. Yet this brother would come from Kelly. He would be a piece of her and Sean didn't think he could hate any part of Kelly.
"How do you know it's going to be a boy?"
"I have an instinct. My dad calls it 'Grimm Gut'. It's sort of like a sixth sense I get maybe once or twice a year. In less than eight months you're going to have a little brother. You'll look after him and one day he'll look after you. He might be the size of a peanut now, but one day he might be a Grimm." Kelly smiled and put a hand over her stomach. She seemed so calm and happy. She had no idea the kind of danger she was in. Sean had to warn her. He'd promised to protect her and now he also had someone new to look out for.
"Don't tell him." Kelly looked up at him, confused, "Prince Philippe. You can't tell him about the baby."
"Sean, you know I can't lie to him." The irony of the statement was enough to make Sean's head explode.
"He lies to you! All he's ever done is lie to you!" It was a dam had broken inside of Sean and the truth came flooding out. It was both liberating and terrifying.
"Sean-" He cut her off before she could even bring her defense of the prince.
"He's married." His tutor froze and then slowly shook her head.
"No, he's divorced. He got divorced years ago. You know that." Sean knew alright. He knew every lie his father had spewed, because he'd been forced to recite them a hundred times before he'd been permitted to meet Kelly. He's practiced the story again and again and again, because Philippe had made it clear that mistakes would not be tolerated.
"No, Kelly. The Princess and the Princess are still married." According to Nicole the alliance had been arranged when Philippe was 20 and Victoria was 18. After discovering the existence of an attractive female Grimm in his canton, Philippe had sent Victoria for an extended their house in Tuscany. Victoria had been less than pleased, but Sean was more than happy to see her go.
"I know this is difficult because of your mother-"
"Victoria is not my mother. That's just one more thing he lied to you about. The prince and my mother were never married. I'm a bastard. Please believe me." Sean didn't know what he'd do if he couldn't convince her. If she went to Philippe everything that mattered to him would die.
"I can't. Sean, I love him." Kelly seemed so helpless and small. The woman before him only looked like the Grimm he had met two months ago. Something had weakened her. No, someone had weakened her, and Sean knew exactly who that someone was.
"No, you don't. You're just under a spell." Sean had suspected his mother's handiwork ever since the day Eric had attacked him. Nicole had mentioned adjusting Kelly's 'doses' and Sean had doubted Nicole would be proscribing Kelly medicine.
"What?" Sean felt a rush of guilt at the look of betrayal on Kelly's face. He should have warned her sooner. He'd told himself that it wouldn't do any good, that Kelly was safer not knowing, but deep down Sean just didn't want to reveal to Kelly how he knew. His mother's words still echoed in his head, 'She wouldn't hesitant to cut off your head if she knew what you were.' He didn't want her to look at him and see a monster.
"Philippe has a Hexenbiest working for him. I think he's been dosing you since the first time you came here for dinner." Nicole had implied Kelly's 'treatment' was ongoing. Sean knew Kelly and the Prince had dinner at the Chateau at least once a week. The concoction was probably added to her food.
"That's impossible. For a spell like that, the hexenbiest would need blood and I haven't-" Kelly stopped mid-sentence as though a horrible thought occurred to her.
"The night I first meet Philippe I'd been hunting. I was knocked out and I woke up here. He could have taken some while I was unconscious. I was in such bad shape, I wouldn't have noticed. Oh my God. Sean, why didn't you tell me?" Sean cringed at the question, even though he'd been expecting it.
"I didn't tell you at first because my father ordered me not to. You were a stranger and Philippe is my father. Later, I wanted to tell you, but I also didn't want to lose you."
"What do you mean?" Sean took a deep breath. The moment he'd been dreading had arrived.
"I'm not just an ordinary bastard. I'm what the Verrat would call an 'abomination.'" Unnatural half-bred, that's what they would call him as they tried to wipe him from the face of the Earth.
"Who are the Verrat and why would they call you that?" There was so much that Kelly didn't know about his world.
"I'll show you, but you have to promise you won't hate me."
"Sean, nothing could make me hate you." Sean prayed that was true as he woged and exposed his Wesen face. He trained his eyes on the mat, afraid to look at Kelly's face. He could stand a lot, but he couldn't stand to see Kelly look at him with loathing or disgust.
"I'm half Hexenbiest. Only the Prince, Eric, my mother, and you know the truth." Suddenly he felt warm fingers under his chin, gentle pressed upward so his face would be looking into Kelly's. He saw her eyes and there was no hatred there, only confusion.
"Why is it a secret?"
"If the Verrat knew I existed they'd kill me and my mother." Kelly gasped softly.
"The Verrat consider mixing bloodlines of different species to be a violation of the natural order. The fact that my father is Royalty makes it much worse. Royal blood is pure and must remain pure at any cost. That's why you can't tell the Prince about the baby. You can't tell anyone."
A child who was half Royal and half Grimm would be even more of a target than a half Royal, half Hexenbiest. Hexenbiests were powerful Wesen, but still only Wesen. If Kelly's child inherited her Grimm legacy, he would be an enormous threat. A half-Royal, half Grimm would be extremely powerful, powerful enough to create huge ripples in the Wesen world. It wasn't something the stability-loving Verrat would tolerate.
"You think Philippe would kill me?" Sean shrugged. His father was impossible to understand and even harder to predict.
"I think he would turn you over in second if he thought there was something in it for him." She would have to leave Europe; the prince had too many connections here. She'd need to flee back to the United States and go into hiding. Philippe had spent too much time cultivating her as an asset to let her go without a fight.
"I already told him I was going to meet him for dinner. I said I had something I wanted to talk to him about." That couldn't happen. Even though Kelly knew she was being betrayed, she was still under the influence of Nicole's spell. Its effects appeared more prominent the closer she was to the prince, so Sean needed to make sure Kelly stayed as far away from him as possible.
"You can't go." Kelly nodded in assent.
"I'll write him a note telling him I'm sick." Sean glanced at the waste basket. It shouldn't be too difficult to convince Philippe Kelly was unwell with evidence so readily available.
"I'll do it. Just go back to your apartment and rest." Sean needed some time to think of a plan. Getting Kelly and his unborn brother to safety wouldn't be easy, but he would succeed. He had to.
Kelly walked to the door of Gym before turning back to look at him.
"I don't want to leave you here." He knew she wasn't just talking about exiting this room without him. Sean felt like someone was squeezing his heart, but he tried his best to ignore it. This wasn't the time to dwell, not when there was still so much to be done. He summoned a half smile to his face and shrugged.
"I live here."
Author's note: Congratulations to everyone who correctly predicted Sean and Nick were half-brothers! Sorry for the delay. I couldn't decide which chapter I wanted to write next. I'm happy I choose this one; it was scene that the rest of the story grew from. Please review!