I'm so sorry for the ridiculously long delay on this chapter; I've been so, so busy but I've finally had the chance to write it. Parts aren't as I envisioned (eg the penultimate scene) but I hope you enjoy!
Myrnin regrets his actions the next morning as he wakes up in his laboratory covered in blood, the remnants of his meal of the night before still lying on the floor; he immediately begins to clear up, fearing that Claire will be in the building within a few more minutes, until he remembers.
The broom in his hand drops to the floor with a clatter as he recalls what happened yesterday, what happened to cause him to give up his lack of hunting: he kissed Claire, she kissed him back, and then she left—forever. She told him that she's never going back, and he doesn't think that he can cope with this.
It seems quiet—too quiet for Myrnin's sensitive ears; Claire's been a constant noise during her time here, because those short hours she has departed his laboratory, he's been able to imagine her heartbeat, to recreate her standing behind the fire in his mind. Now, the heartbeat's gone forever (because he's not going to go into the town during the day, and she won't come here at night as there's no reason for someone in her position to do so) and it's only going to make him crave the hunt even more.
These past months, he's managed to go without blood for as long as his body has been able to cope, not wanting to take so much from the humans because of Claire, and even then, it's been sparing amounts of blood from each person, never enough for them to notice. They've never been harmed (permanently, at least), and if he thinks that they may have even a slight indication that something's happened to them, he uses his 'power' in order to wipe their memories. The short visits Amelie has made upon Saturday evenings, remaining until the Sunday, every week since Claire's arrival have reminded him that this isn't the way he's used to acting—she's been surprised every visit to realise that Claire is still alive, though Myrnin knows that Amelie does her best to hide that shock—and yet he's reverted back to his old way of life seamlessly.
But not quite—even now, he's wracked with guilt about what he did last night, about how he betrayed Claire's trust because she's trusted him with her life, and there's nothing more she could trust him with. And yet he's a vampire, someone who ought never to be trusted with something so precious, particularly the life of someone as vibrant and brilliant as Claire…yet she's given him it for so long. And all he's done is sacrifice the trust she's unwittingly put in him; he doesn't know if he's ever going to regain it.
Sighing, Myrnin bends over to pick up the corpse from the floor, moving it into his old storage location for such things; he'll remove it tonight in the dead of night, when every single person in the town is asleep.
All he can hope is that Amelie will come soon, in order to alleviate the growing weight of loneliness that's already pressing upon his shoulders…
"Aren't you hungry?"
Shane's voice jerks Claire from her reverie, and she looks up from her plate to see Shane staring at her. It's only now that she realises she's been staring at her food for an immeasurable period of time, long enough for Shane to realise her attention is elsewhere.
"I…no," she says quietly, and as her eyes meet Shane's, she sees a glimmer of delight shoot through his. It takes a while for her to understand why; every woman in his family has lost their appetite when pregnant. It's something he told her last week, when she first started to give up on eating, and it's haunted her ever since because whilst he's getting more and more excited about a baby that doesn't exist (how could she let herself get pregnant in this sort of situation?) she's unable to rid herself of a man she left behind.
She hasn't visited Myrnin in eight days now, and every single second has broken her apart a little bit more than before. Every time she looks at the clock and thinks, I should be in the lab at the minute, her heart feels as though it's a little closer to beating its last beat. All she wants is to be with Myrnin, to bury her head in science and never leave his side again…but she can't. She chose Shane over him, chose her marriage and what's right over what she wants, because that's what she's been raised to do: please others and ensure that she acts respectably at all times. That's her purpose—that, and to produce a male heir.
Shane looks at her again and reaches across the table to take her hand. His eyes are kind, gentle, and each second that their eyes are locked together makes Claire want to run away from him even more—but she can't. Of course she can't. "Everything will be fine," he promises her, but each word feels as though he's stabbing her in the chest. "If you would like, I can summon the doctor from the town to see if you are well?" he asks, and as he speaks, Claire can hear the perking up of his voice, and just how much he wants this.
"If you feel that it's advisable, then yes," she agrees, barely restraining herself from sighing; she doesn't want this, not at all. "For the current time, I think I'll go for a walk in the garden. I'll see you at lunch."
With this, Claire walks out of the room, setting her napkin down on one of the tables as she does so, Shane saying nothing as she departs. She heads down the ridiculously long corridor to reach the main door, which is opened for her by one of the servants, before taking steps onto the slightly damp lawn. It sprawls out for acres around her, and for a few moments, Claire lifts her head to the sky and breathes in deeply. What she first thinks is dampness from the wind turns out to be tears, she soon discovers as she lifts her hand to her face; she's crying because she has no idea what she's doing and why she's still here when all she wants is to go to Myrnin and be with him.
At least, that's what she thinks she wants.
Whether she really does or not, she decides, can only be ascertained by staying away from him for a longer period of time, no matter how much it hurts.
"Old friend, why are you so upset?"
This question alerts Myrnin to his friend's arrival, and he turns to look at her with a sheepish expression. Every piece of glassware in his laboratory has been smashed beyond recognition, the majority of it fine dust upon the floor, and for a moment he forgets why.
"Amelie, you have returned to me!" he almost sings out, moving swiftly across the room to stand before the woman entering his home. "I have missed you so very greatly, I cannot begin to put into words how much I require your presence at the current moment—"
She cuts him off. "I know there are seven dead, and they have all died within the past eight days, Myrnin," Amelie says sharply, and Myrnin's sheepish gaze suddenly becomes more so. "This place has been a safe respite for you for a short while; why have you suddenly decided to threaten your cover and risk exposure? It makes no sense; you haven't killed—save for the one child—in years…why now?"
Myrnin sinks slowly to his knees, and reaches for Amelie's hand, which she gives him willingly. "I…I couldn't resist. The pain…it…I cannot function already, Amelie, and it has only been weeks since—" he cuts himself off as quickly as possible, but he knows that Amelie's razor sharp mind will have already connected the pieces of information and the unfamiliar scent to conclude…
"You have fallen in love." Amelie says it slowly, without anger or insult in her tone; she merely states it. "And not only with anyone, but with a human…one who has left you. Why did she leave you? Did she discover what you are; is our secret compromised?"
He shakes his head vigorously, lifting his head to look at Amelie, his eyes filling with tears. "No, no, she has no idea about what a…monster I am," he whispers. "She…she is married."
There's no need for him to say any more; Amelie's expression softens even further, and she uses her hand to pull Myrnin to his feet, resting her other hand on his shoulder in a act of condolence. "I am truly sorry, Myrnin," she murmurs. "It perhaps was not to be…why did you become involved with her anyway, if she is married? I have never known you to do such a thing before."
Myrnin makes an effort to wipe his eyes as he looks at Amelie, before responding. "I…we were not romantically involved…not until the very end, when we shared a kiss—and she left immediately afterwards," he tells Amelie, who nods in what he presumes to be an understanding manner. "I was teaching her science; she is one of the brightest people I have ever met, including myself though I hope you will pardon my boasting, and she wanted to learn more. Her husband has basically forbidden her to do such a thing…so I merely wanted to fulfil her wishes. I didn't mean to fall for her, I truly didn't…it was a mistake."
Amelie smiles ever so slightly, a smile laced with melancholy and regret. "It never happens how you desire it to, does it?" she says, her eyes filling with sadness. "It's never the intention to fall in love, particularly when the person has so many issues that love between you and them can never be feasible. But you must move on, Myrnin, and in a way which doesn't draw attention to…to what you are." Her voice becomes firmer now as she discusses their safety; this region is somewhere she has particularly liked for decades, but if they were known as what they are—vampires—then she would never be able to return. Folklore passed down through families in this neighbourhood is believed, and her face would be tied in with the story forever more.
He nods, reaching for Amelie's hand once more. "I…I understand. I cannot—I refuse to—leave without closure, however. I will remain here until something significant occurs in her life which could change anything ever happening, and when it happens, I shall return with you to London—or wherever you decide to move to. I will not leave your side again, not until we settle somewhere for the rest of eternity." Myrnin's promise is truthful, though he knows that there is a stubborn undertone that Amelie will be able to hear; he refuses to leave until he knows that Claire will never come to him again. In this situation, that proof would be a child, something which would rip his heart to pieces—but if it happens, it happens. And he will leave.
Amelie stares at Myrnin for a few, immeasurable moments, before slowly nodding her head. "I agree with this logic. There is always a chance that she may change her mind, and I do not want you to hurt forever because you don't know if she does or not. But you must be careful, Myrnin, you must be." Her voice is urgent, worried almost, and Myrnin smiles a wry smile.
"I always am careful, my dear," he replies, noting the sudden change in his friend's expression. "Well, I am when I want to be. Now come, sit, you have had a long journey and I suppose you shall be returning tomorrow night."
Shane's out, the maids are in the other rooms cleaning and, for the first time in twenty hours, Claire is completely alone. The first thing she does is check that she is alone—the servants here are too quiet, too scared to speak in her presence, so she never knows if they're lingering or not without looking—before slipping into her bedroom and removing a book from the bookcase. It's hollowed out inside, with many of her science notes stored inside of it, and Claire merely stares at the top piece of paper for almost a minute, the anticipation far too great for her to deal with. She's missed this, missed being able to read her notes about experiments he made her do and what the conclusions she drew from them are. All she yearns for is to go back, to learn about science forever—or as long as forever can be for someone with a limited life span—and to see him, the man she could see herself growing old and grey with.
For almost thirty minutes, Claire reads through the pages of scrawled notes she made in his laboratory—she cannot use his name, even in her mind, for to do that would be to allow the wall she's built around it to come tumbling down—until she decides that it's now too risky to continue to do it. So she slips the book back onto the shelf, a little happier now that she's revised everything she still can remember with crystal clear clarity, because it's science…and this science is better than none at all, isn't it?
(She thinks so anyway.)
(It doesn't stop her still wanting him, though.)
Amelie leaves the following evening, returning to her home in London and the man she currently feels slightly attracted to—how, Myrnin has never asked, though he partially would like to know now. He wants to know whether his love for Claire is fleeting, like Amelie's love for every man in her life has been, or whether it's a lasting love, one that will continue long into the lifespan of probably Claire's great-great grandchildren.
"Amelie," Myrnin begins cautiously as he fastens the clasp around her neck to secure her cloak to her body.
"Yes?" she questions, her eyes narrowing as she attempts to read his face. "What do you want to know about me now, my friend?"
"How deeply do you feel attracted to this John fellow?" he asks, coming out with it straight away; with matters of the heart, he has never been good at making his words flowery and disguising his point behind metaphors and fancy literary devices.
Amelie smiles slightly, lifting her hand to touch Myrnin's cheek softly before moving one of the curls lining his face so that she can see into both of his eyes. "I…not very much," she admits, and Myrnin feels a crushing pain that he doesn't quite understand. "However, I can see in your face that you love this girl very much, and that is the sort of love I want to find. I want someone to love like you love this girl, and so I shall continue with my flings and dalliances with knights, and you shall…you shall be fine, Myrnin, for whatever happens is fate. It is destined to happen, and I shall be very surprised if she does not turn up at your door within weeks, begging you to understand why she acted the way she did."
Myrnin regrets Amelie making this promise the moment the words leave her lips, because it fills him with hope—hope that he knows is futile, almost certainly never going to be fulfilled. Yet it lifts him for the moment, and somehow he manages to plaster a smile upon his lips as he moves in to press a kiss to Amelie's cheek.
"You are right, I hope," he comments, squeezing Amelie's other hand. "I do hope that you enjoy yourself until our next meeting, Amelie. I shall miss you greatly, as I always do; when this lifespan is over, I feel that we ought to take a holiday somewhere exotic, perhaps find a spring where we can swim once more."
"I would very much like that," Amelie replies, removing herself from Myrnin's grasp. "But to return to London before sunrise, I must depart now. Be careful, Myrnin; I do not want you to lose yourself and all control you possess."
Before he can say another word, she's gone, flitting from the laboratory through the now open door into the night as silently as she arrived, mere days ago. As soon as she's gone, Myrnin feels the hope she filled him with falter, as though only Amelie's presence kept him whole…and he knows that before the morrow is out, he will have hunted.
He will have killed—again.
Because, in Myrnin's eyes, hope is something that only aims to destroy, not to build confidence; it can never be a good thing to have more than an ounce of hope.
Otherwise, you can be destroyed.
It takes another week before Claire crumbles.
Every day, she's read her notes, analysing everything until there is nothing left to analyse but the components of the paper she used to write her notes, and even that doesn't take too long to work out. She's bored, restless, and takes to walking around the garden, reciting lines of the periodic table in the hope that repetition will aid her in learning things to the point that they roll off her tongue without any prompting whatsoever.
Shane thinks that this is a good sign that she's pregnant, something he's even come out and directly said, and the doctor who visited seems to think that she's pregnant, too. Claire knows that she isn't, though; she's keeping quiet about what she knows has happened and definitely proves her lack of pregnancy, because it keeps Shane happy whilst she figures out what she wants from her life…and who she wants it with.
As she walks through the grass and trees, Claire's heart feels as though it's about to break into pieces as she makes her decision; does she go with him for love, for science, for everything she's ever wanted…or, for propriety's sake, for doing what's right for her and her family, does she stay with Shane, as she has done for weeks now? She made the decision to come back here for some reason; there must be something that draws her back here…but no. Claire thinks more and more about it, and she realises just how much she considers this home to be a prison; it's lavishly furnished, she's treated like a princess and she has everything she wants (besides science, of course) but it's still a prison. Now that she's 'pregnant', Shane doesn't seem to want her going out anywhere without him, and even then, the only place she seems to be able to get to without a fuss is church—and she doesn't even particularly believe in the ideologies of the church.
All she seems to feel nowadays is depressed; whereas before she would leap for joy and bound around with insatiable energy, nowadays she can barely gather the strength to move from one side of the room to the other. She doesn't want to do anything, doesn't want to go anywhere or interact with anyone other than the one man she has questions for. Even rereading the notes she made weeks ago cause her to think things through in a new way and consider theories in a slightly different manner, leaving her with questions which nobody can answer…nobody but a man who she cannot see. It's this knowledge that depresses her the most: the knowledge that she can have all the questions in the world, and yet never get them answered…because she has chosen to be loyal to Shane above everything.
But now…now she can't take it any more.
It's not just the questions; it's the aching yearn her heart has to see Myrnin again that has Claire waking up from the stupor this house has had her in. It's this desire to see him that has her walking swiftly from the far side of the orchard back to the house to change into appropriate gear to walk to the village in, as well as to inform Shane where she's going—to visit the old woman, to ensure that she is still relatively happy following her apparent 'acceptance' of her child's death—and within less than ten minutes, Claire's on her way to Myrnin. She's missed him more than she can put into words, and those final moments with Shane—he gave her a pound and told her to be careful—she knows will, hopefully, be the last she ever shares with him. It's a cruel, evil thing to do, to leave him without even telling him where she's going and why, but it's all she can do; it was a spur of the moment decision, the physical need to see Myrnin taking precedence over telling Shane that she loves someone more than him, and therefore her actions need to be equally spontaneous.
As Claire near sprints down the road towards the town, she recites possible ways to tell Myrnin how she feels in her mind, each one less appropriate and cheesier than the last.
Little does she know what she's going to find when she arrives in the laboratory.
As Claire approaches the street down which the laboratory lies, she falters in her progress; does she really want to do this? Her confidence breaks into pieces as she nears the end of the street, her feet clattering upon the cobbles, and for a moment, she considers running away. He doesn't know that she's here, doesn't know that she's merely twenty metres from his door; she could escape, run back to a boring but safe life with Shane without Myrnin ever knowing how she really feels. She couldn't tell him how she feels and then leave him again; that would be too mean. As of now, however, he doesn't know…so she could leave and just break her own heart in the process.
Her feet are moving her towards the door already, though, and as she nears the laboratory enough that she can see the cracks in the wooden door, she knows that it's too late. There's no way that she's going back.
Slowly, Claire pushes the door to, knowing that there's no point in knocking as Myrnin never answers the door. She's the only person who enters anyway, she thinks…or so she thought anyway…
There's a woman's cloak on the side as she peeks in.
It takes a moment or two for Claire, still standing in the doorway to the laboratory, to allow her eyes to acclimatise to the darkness inside the building…but once she does, she regrets allowing herself to do it.
Her feet move her forwards of their own accord, down the steps and into the room with the huge, now apparently cracked wooden table in the middle, but her eyes are focused on the man to the right hand side of the table, with a woman in his arms…
…and his mouth at her throat.
"Myrnin?" Claire gasps quietly, not sure what she's seeing—one thing she knows for sure though, is that he doesn't care about her enough if he's moving on with another woman so soon after she left him—but she wants to know what it is. "What are you…oh my god!" she shrieks out, unable to help herself as Myrnin's head lifts and turns to face her.
Rather than his usual brown eyes, the irises are crimson red, but more pressing than that are the fangs protruding from his upper gums, dripping with blood. The blood, Claire presumes, is from the woman's throat, and all Claire can do is stagger backwards until she's leaning against the wooden table.
She doesn't understand; how can Myrnin, the lovely, kind-hearted, gentle man she's known for weeks, be this…this monster? How can he be a mythical creature she didn't believe existed, someone who snatches lives from others in order to be able to live forever, be the man who's taught her so much and expected nothing in return? He wouldn't hurt her—he would have done that already, if he was going to—so how can this be the same man?
"Claire," Myrnin says very slowly, turning his head back to face her; only then does she realise that she lost sight of his fangs, though the image is burnt into her mind for the rest of her life. "Claire, I'm not going to hurt you." He takes a step towards her, the woman in his arms, but Claire shuffles around the table so that it's between her and him, her stomach pressing into the side of it.
"You're a vampire," she whispers, barely able to get the words out. Myrnin merely nods in confirmation. "Oh my god, I can't believe…oh god, what, how?" she cries out, more to herself than to Myrnin, though he takes it upon himself to give her a sort of answer.
"It's a long story," he begins, stopping in his tracks as he realises that Claire doesn't want to go near him. "Claire…I'm sorry. I didn't want you to know…" he trails off as Claire laughs a cold, harsh laugh.
"I came here to tell you that I love you and that I want to be with you; how could you avoid it then?" she snaps, anger coursing through her veins, overriding the fear that threatens to turn her body to ice. "You…oh god…" she trails off this time, her face turning ice cold as she understands something. "It was you who killed the child. It was you, just like you're killing that woman there. You drank…oh god…you drank their blood and then you dumped the body for their mother to find. You killed an innocent child!"
He doesn't deny it, and that's what destroys Claire completely. He doesn't deny that he hurt the child who has been her cover to come visit Myrnin for all these weeks, and it makes her feel dizzy and light-headed. This is the one place she feels completely safe…and yet now, she doesn't know if she can be safe here or not.
(In her heart, she knows the answer is that she will always be safe here, but her head doesn't understand this logic, what with Myrnin being a vampire.)
"She isn't dead," is all he says as he makes reference to the woman in his arms. "I have…problems, Claire. I'm sorry. I never meant to kill anyone, truly. It was never my intention, and each death haunts me as I sleep; I mean this absolutely—Claire!" Myrnin breaks off suddenly as he notices Claire's expression turning blank.
He sets the woman he was feeding from down on the ground before flashing across the room to catch Claire before she falls. Myrnin can tell that she's unconscious—from the shock of the discovery, he presumes—and the moments she rests in his arms are the most heavenly he has ever experienced thus far on Earth. But rather than continue to hold her close, now she knows what he is, he sets her down gently on the one bed in the laboratory, pushing a piece of hair back from her face as he stares at her.
"I wanted to tell you why I became this," he murmurs, taking a step back. "It will have to wait until you awaken—if you want to listen, that is."
And with that, he moves away, picking up the unconscious woman on the floor along with her possessions, taking her back to where he found her—sans her memory of him, of course.
Now, all he has to do is wait until Claire comes around so that they can discuss—if she will—what he is…and just what she meant when she referred to loving him.
(As he sits next to Claire, Myrnin dares think that perhaps, Amelie was right…perhaps he was right to have a glimmer of hope inside of him.)
Sleep doesn't bring peace to Claire. Perhaps due to the reason she fell unconscious, perhaps due to what news she has to work through, she can't rest peacefully. Though outwardly she seems still, inside, she's a wreck, unable to comprehend what she discovered about the man she loves.
He's not a man; he's someone who could quite easily hurt her, someone who's unnatural and should probably have died decades before she was even born. But, the other side of her brain is quick to point out, she's been alone with him in here for weeks, and he's never so much as even hinted that he wants to do anything to her. He's been kind, charming…and Claire realises, in the few moments of rationality sleep brings her, she doesn't care what he is. Myrnin isn't a man in the traditional sense, but that's probably how he knows so much—that's the reason she was drawn to him, in a sense, because of the knowledge time has brought him, along with the wisdom and kindness developed along the way.
She hates everything his kind is: he's a murderer; he's a life destroyer; he doesn't regret how his actions impact others, she thinks…and yet he's still Myrnin. He's still the sensitive, funny man she fell in love with, still the man who's taught her more than she ever dreamed of knowing and is capable of teaching her so much more—but until when? When will she stop learning about science? When he kills her? Or when she dies of old age, her love preserved as he is now?
It's in this moment that Claire realises that she isn't scared of what Myrnin is—well, not really—but rather the more pressing issue: she's scared of the future. There are other issues as well, such as why he became what he is, but more importantly, she's wondering about what will happen if she stays with him.
(It's not an issue of if; she already knows that if she wasn't going to stay, she would have ran before fainting. At first she turned her back—and that's not something you do when you're fearful of something.)
Suddenly, Claire's eyes snap open. She's awake.
"Claire." She hears her name spoken softly, and turns her head to see him sitting there by her side. There's nothing but fear in his eyes, and that makes Claire want to laugh, because surely it should be the other way around; she should be scared of him.
"I…can I have some water?" she asks quietly, realising that her throat feels bone dry. How long she's been unconscious she doesn't know, but the darkness in the laboratory gives her the impression that it's at least early evening—later than she's ever been here before.
Myrnin's expression changes slightly, as though he's questioning why she's asking for water rather than running away or demanding questions, but he nods slowly before disappearing. One minute he's there, the next he's gone; it seems to Claire that now she knows what he is, now she has to make a decision, he doesn't want to leave her with the false impression that he's a normal human being.
"Here you go," he says quietly, suddenly appearing at Claire's side with a beaker of water in one hand. "Would you like to move to the chaise lounge in the corner, if you are not…comfortable with your current seat?" he questions, and Claire realises, for the first time, that she's lying on a bed. She presumes that it's his bed—as there would be no reason for him to have two—but it doesn't make her feel uncomfortable, as lying in Shane's bed for the first time did. But for the type of conversation they're going to have, she decides that perhaps the bed isn't the correct location.
"I think that to have a conversation, it would be the best idea to move," Claire replies quietly, after taking a sip of water from the beaker Myrnin handed her. "I'm fine, honestly," she adds as Myrnin moves to assist her sliding from the bed.
A look of hurt flashes across his face, so fast that Claire barely has chance to see it, and it sends stabbing pains through her chest. She doesn't want to hurt him, not when she loves him so dearly, but sometimes it may be unavoidable.
Within minutes, they're seated on the chaise lounge, merely two feet between them, and if she needs any more confirmation that she wants to be with him, this is it. She doesn't feel fear that he's a vampire, not really, but there is one thing—
"Where's the woman?" she asks quickly, her eyes darting around the room as though he's left the body somewhere for her to find. "Did you…?" she trails off, unable to finish her sentence, though she maintains eye contact with Myrnin. She needs to know if he's telling the truth.
"I took her from here and returned her to the public house in which I found her, with no recollection of our meeting," is Myrnin's response, which Claire believes to be true. "She isn't hurt…I never became this to hurt people, Claire…I abhor killing, despise myself a little more for every life I have ever taken."
Claire frowns. "But don't you need to kill people to…stay alive?" she wants to know more about the mechanics of this vampire-thing before she gets onto her pressing questions, but she can feel herself growing impatient at the delay in knowledge.
Myrnin shakes his head, a slight smile upon his lips. "At first, it is hard to avoid it—the need to feed is too strong—but with age comes control, control enough to take only what you need, only when you need it." A slight laugh escapes his lips, and Claire feels her expression turning slightly quizzical. "I never expected to ever have this conversation with anyone, least alone you, my little Claire."
His responses aren't enough for Claire; she has so, so many more questions for him, but she can't hold in her greatest issue any longer. "Why did you become this?" she asks, and the smile upon Myrnin's face fades away into careful neutrality.
"As a child, I became an apprentice to a wizard who was a practised alchemist—he taught me the basics of what I now know—who was…this. He showed me the virtues of turning; the limitless time, the ability to adapt ideas with new discoveries, to understand why the world is as it is. He made me only see the positives to this life, never mentioned the things which interest most when they turn, and it is for that reason I became a vampire." Myrnin blinks slowly and moves the hair from his face, a suddenly despondent expression upon it. "I became this because I wanted to learn forever, Claire, to never have to cease learning and developing my ideas. I never wanted these, never wanted this to happen…never wanted to have people fear what I am." Tears begin to drip down his cheeks, and Claire gasps in a mixture of shock and horror as the fangs she saw earlier drop down from his gums as he speaks, and his eyes flash into a reddish colour.
Myrnin's entire frame begins to shake with the tears shed from his eyes, and every part of Claire aches; she doesn't want him to be in pain, to suffer because of what he is.
(She understands his reasons…and would even make the same decision as him.)
"It's alright," she says hesitantly, not sure whether he wants her to approach him. "Myrnin…I still…I need you, no matter what you are. Please don't cry; it only makes me sad, too," she continues, reaching out slowly to place one hand gingerly upon his shoulder.
Before she knows what's happening, Myrnin's moved and his arms are wrapping around her, pulling their bodies close together. "You have no idea what your words mean to me," he murmurs in her ear, and Claire would be lying if she said she wasn't relieved to feel his fangs are no longer present. "But…I can't. My dear, I cannot take you from the human world to be with me, someone who doesn't deserve you, when there is someone human you can be happy—to an extent—with. I cannot grow old with you; I cannot die with you…and I don't want you to be alone in the next world."
His words crush Claire, because that was exactly what she was hoping he wouldn't say; she was hoping he would have a suggestion that could override the problem—other than the obvious, or what is obvious to Claire at least. "I can't be without you, Myrnin; these two weeks nearly tore me apart. I can't go back to him, I can't," she cries out.
For a moment, she realises how strange this situation is; within a matter of hours, she's gone from discovering he's a vampire and being disgusted, to begging to stay with him now that he's telling her it isn't the best idea.
"Hush, my Claire," Myrnin whispers, his lips pressing against her ear; he's stopped crying, Claire can tell. "I at least think you ought to try going back to him, even though I don't particularly like the sound of him. Please, Claire, try to live a life without me. You should know that whilst I swear I would never deliberately hurt you…there would always be a chance. At least with Shane, you would never fear living to see another dawn."
Somehow, Claire struggles in Myrnin's arms to turn to face him—she thinks he gives her some help, but she ignores that—and begins to pound her fist against his chest, tears streaming down her cheeks.
"No!" she screams, choking on a sob caught in her throat. "You can't make me go back, can't make me go back to someone I don't love just because you could hurt me! If I tell Shane how I love someone else, how I adore science more than I can tolerate him, he'll hurt me then—I can guarantee it." Claire stops moving her fist and leaves it on Myrnin's chest, confirming what she thought before; he has no beating heart. "Please tell me you love me."
Myrnin's unreadable expression softens into something she can understand—love—and he moves to press his lips to her forehead softly. "I love you," he says against her skin, before moving his head back once more. "That's why I'm telling you to leave now. Leave because you deserve to have a life free from fear and pain, from running and regret. I can give you nothing but danger—and that isn't a way to live life."
Claire shakes her head again, more and more vigorously, and she throws herself into his chest; he doesn't move an inch. "Can…I can't do that," she whispers. "But what if…what if I go back for a little while, and see if I can handle it? And if I can't, you'll still be here for me to come back to."
"Yes," he replies, far too quickly, and somewhere deep down inside, Claire knows that it's a lie. "Let's make that agreement; I'll be here for you to come back to if you can't manage to stay there…please know that I'm only doing this because I love you; I want you to live a life worthy of you, to experience everything a woman ought to—children, happiness, old age, a life of security. I don't want you to turn out…regretting what choice you make."
Slowly, Claire wipes the tears from her eyes and looks up at Myrnin, finding herself laughing slightly. "You know that I'm doing this because I love you and I respect what your opinion is," she whispers, lifting a hand to run it through Myrnin's bouncy hair. "And no matter what happens, I will love you more than anyone else in this world—forever, or however long of that I get to experience."
Before she can move away, he's kissing her, and she's kissing him back, and everything's exactly how she wanted it to be; she's happy beyond belief, in the arms of the man she loves…and then it's suddenly ripped away from her. His lips are gone from hers, his arms are no longer wrapped around her; he's let her go.
He's letting her walk away.
Somehow, Claire staggers to an upright position, her eyes never leaving Myrnin's as she does so. She walks slowly towards the door, her eyes locked on his frame when she no longer can make out his eyes from the rest of his face, and when she's at the door and he has been absorbed by the dark shadows, she still tries to imagine that she can see him.
This isn't the last time that she'll see him…she hopes.
As she walks away down the cobbled street, she has to suppress the tears which threaten to consume her, and she attempts to regain her composure for the questions Shane will have for her when she finally makes it home.
(She's scared because she doesn't believe that Myrnin will still even be there tomorrow let alone in the future.)
When she makes it into the house, it's in darkness; the only hint of light, save for that from the moon, is peeking out from under the door to Shane's study, the room she never goes in.
"Come in, Claire," he shouts as she attempts to pass it silently, and Claire knows from just the tone of his voice that this isn't going to be good. She wants to run out from the house now and return to Myrnin, telling him it was impossible to try, but that would be lying; she hasn't given Shane a chance yet.
Tentatively, Claire pushes the door open and stands in the doorway, her hair hanging down from its bun in straggles, her dress damp from the cold air outside. She looks a mess whereas Shane is his usual, pristine self, dressed in a suit even though it must be bedtime now.
"Where have you been?"
Shane's voice is now quiet and deadly, an undertone to it that sounds sinister, and Claire flinches backwards.
"Don't tell me another lie," he continues, as though she hadn't even attempted to speak. "I know that you haven't been helping the Humphries woman; I sent Jasper down there earlier and she said that you come in every now and then to bring food, and then you leave almost immediately. You have been lying to me, Claire…and I dislike liars."
Claire swallows slightly as she takes steps into the study, deciding it's not the best idea to linger in the doorway; the servants could hear, and that isn't something she particularly wants to happen.
Moving closer, however, causes her face to drain of blood and makes her feel as though her heart's stopped as she looks at what's on the table.
The notes she made with Myrnin.
"I…I'm sorry," she whispers, looking at the desk and the stacks of paper all covered in her handwriting rather than Shane. "I didn't mean to hurt you or break your trust, but…but I need science. It's hard to explain; perhaps I've been born in the wrong era, as it's frowned on for my gender to have an interest in it, but I love it…and if I have it, there's nothing I won't do with you." The words spill out, and Claire realises that this is (perhaps) a compromise Myrnin considered before, his brain having reached it faster than hers: if she has science, she can be with Shane, for science is what brought Myrnin and herself together, so it should be enough to keep her with Shane. "If…if you let me learn about science and the things I've adored since childhood, there is literally nothing I will not do for you, Shane."
She lifts her eyes slowly to lock in on Shane's, and soon wishes she hadn't. There's a burning rage in his eyes that she hasn't seen before, and Claire finds herself frozen to the spot, petrified of the man she calls her husband.
"You filthy whore," he snarls at her, and Claire worries for a second that he knows about Myrnin—but he can't. He can't know of her feelings for the vampire Myrnin, at least, only that she's been learning from someone else. "I cannot believe that you, someone born into a high family, would be such a harlot and go into a man's home alone—yes, I have spoken to someone who confirms you have visited the man at the end of the street—and emerge with science knowledge. How did you pay him—sexually? Did you give him what ought to be mine and mine alone?"
As he speaks, Shane moves across the room, closing the gap between him and Claire, and his hand reaches out to slap her cheek, hard. Claire gasps in pain and shock, her eye watering immediately as the sting courses through her body; she never thought that Shane would hurt her.
"He wanted nothing—not like you," she spits at him, anger rising through her. Myrnin told her that she would be safe here, safer than with him, but he was wrong; he would never hurt her for learning, not like Shane. "He taught me because he wanted someone else to know about science…he didn't want sex!"
Shane growls slightly, a feral noise that makes Claire's mind immediately think to vampire and therefore Myrnin, and for this reason, she isn't prepared when Shane shoves her roughly against the wall, pressing his body against hers.
"He didn't want sex—or you managed to avoid it—or perhaps you're lying to me now as well; you've gotten good at that, haven't you, Claire?" he growls in her ear, and Claire realises just what he means to do. "I think you've liked the feel of him against your skin, and that's why you won't touch me anymore…so let's see just what you make of this, then."
"No!" Claire screams as his hands move to the corset at the back of her dress, attempting to loosen it off so he can rip it off of her body. "You can't do this, you can't!" she continues, fighting to get away from Shane as hard as she can—but nothing seems to work.
"You've enjoyed him for so long, so now it's my turn to experience what tricks he's taught you in the bedroom," Shane continues, now ripping at Claire's dress to take it off. One sleeve is ripped clean off, and part of the bodice hangs open, exposing her stomach to the cold air in the room, but Claire doesn't stop fighting. "I'm going to enjoy this more than the first time—you know why."
Claire almost gives up; she squeezes her eyes shut and her body stops attempting to get away as Shane stops ripping her dress and moves his hands to undo his trousers. It would be easier to let him do this; he would forgive her eventually, and at least it could mean she would have the child he so desperately wants…even though it would be sacrificing everything she's ever believed in.
So when Shane's hands are at his waist, she lifts her left knee and gets him inbetween his legs, causing him to groan in pain and stumble backwards.
"I never loved you," Claire snarls as she runs towards the door. "I love him—Myrnin—though I've never been with him because of you; I didn't want to hurt you like that. But he…he's a proper man; he would never do what you just tried to do to me because he respects me. That's something you don't understand. Goodbye, Shane. I'll never see you again, and I'm happy about that."
Before he even manages to stand straight upright, she's gone, running from the room and then the house as fast as she can, desperate to get to Myrnin and to rest in his arms, in order to hope that everything can, perhaps, work out the way she wants in the end.
When she arrives, the laboratory is in darkness, with not even a candle lit to illuminate the place slightly. She supposes that the slight light coming through the open door is enough for his eyes—she never asked about what's different as a vampire, but she thinks that she has enough time to ask him these questions now—but it isn't for her, and as she walks down the stairs into the room, she falls.
"Ow!" she cries out, her ankle twisting and causing her to crash to the ground heavily. She's landed on her ankle, too, and she doesn't feel as though she can get up. "Myrnin?"
She hears movement and there's a sound of a match lighting and a flicker of light before the wick of a candle catches fire, creating a glow bright enough for Claire to see the face of the man she wants…and the signs of someone moving.
Everything on the table has gone, perhaps into one of the boxes that are on the floor next to her, and betrayal spreads through her body. "You're leaving." She says it as a statement, fighting to keep the tears back as Myrnin moves towards her.
He bends over and lifts her with one hand into his arm, before setting her down carefully upon the floor; he looks tired to Claire, and sad—sad that she's back.
"You know why I have to leave—I can't be here if you're going to be with him; it wouldn't be fair on you—what is that on your face?" Myrnin's tone changes as he notices Claire's cheek, suddenly becoming urgent and concerned.
As coolly as possible, Claire shrugs, though the movement causes her to need to hold onto Myrnin for support; her ankle still doesn't seem to be strong enough to support her. "He found my notes and slapped me…before he tried to…he tried to…oh…!" she can't help but burst into tears as she tries to explain what happened in those final moments in the study, but by the way that Myrnin's gaze turns thunderous as he looks at her ripped dress, Claire knows he understands her unspoken message.
"I was wrong," he whispers quietly as he pulls her into his arms. "I'm a monster, but I would never do that to you, not for loving something. I am so, so sorry, Claire, for sending you back; you have to believe that I thought it was in your best interests to be with a human and live life, rather than with me." As he lifts all of her weight into his arms, Claire can feel the steady stream of tears cascade from his eyes down her back, dampening the heavy material of her dress. He's crying, too.
"You're not a monster," she whispers, and from the stiffness of his back, she can tell that she's surprised him. "I can tell you don't want to kill or hurt; you just want to love and to learn…and that isn't what a monster does. Yes, you've hurt and killed before, and you could kill again, but you regret it—and that's what marks you out as being someone worthy of love, of living life with happiness to guide you to your next decision. That isn't what makes you someone who feels they should hide away and never be happy."
Claire leans backwards as far as Myrnin's arms will allow her, so that she can see his face. "I love you," she says. "And I want to be with you—forever." She knows the connotations of this word, knows what it means to Myrnin, and she doesn't care.
She knows nothing about the process, knows nothing about what she'll be like if this happens; all she knows is that she will have eternity to be with Myrnin and to learn from him—and with him.
Myrnin shakes his head. "I'm not taking your humanity from you; you may change your mind. I will be with you, but I can't…I can't do that to you."
Without any planning whatsoever, Claire leans forwards and presses her lips to Myrnin's, just as she did weeks ago—but this time, she knows that this is what she wants, and there's nothing to stop her doing it. Myrnin kisses her back, pulling her body as close to his as possible, and for the first time, Claire feels completely able to relax; she finally has the chance to be happy.
"I'm never going to want anything more than science and you," she whispers against his chest as soon as they break apart from one another. "So please, Myrnin; if you want to make me happy, this is the way."
"You want to learn forever," he states. "As do I. And who am I to stop you living forever to do this?"
His lips press against her neck before his fangs burst through her skin, and Claire knows that if she regretted her decision, this would be the moment, as the excruciating pain of losing her life begins.
But she regrets nothing—because now, she has the chance to be with Myrnin forever.
I'd really appreciate it if you review if you've read this, and if anyone has any requests for me to write in the future, I'll definitely consider them!