Everyone had settled into bed. Everyone except for Pepper who couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling welling up inside of her. He was coming, she knew it. Coming back to such an obvious location…shaking her head, she wished she had the courage to deter Alistair from this place. But she couldn’t. She had to do what she had to do. Because she loved Alistair so much, she had to hurt him. A soft knock on the glass balcony door, caused her to jump. It was Damian, he had said he’d find her when the time was right. She really wished she hadn’t made that deal with Damian, because when you make a deal with the headmaster you hand away your soul. Or, in her case, the fragments that were left of it. The fragments that hadn’t been grasped and ripped from her by Cora when she brought her to life. Pepper clung so helplessly to Alistair because he was the only thing that connected to her old life. She loved him, but they’d never truly be connected. Not again, no matter how much they cared about each other. That truth was obvious, given Alistair had forgotten about their three year long affair behind Aria’s back. How did one who promised to love another person so much, forget about it so quickly? Because, the connection was gone, and they’d never get it back. But, that wouldn’t stop her from protecting him, even if she had to hurt him in the process. Even if her love would never be returned, she needed to keep Alistair safe, no matter what the cost.
“Why do you look so shocked?” Damian’s smirk was bitter. “Let me in, we had a deal. I told you I’d come back for you.”
Cautiously, Pepper pulled open the door. “Please be quiet. The babies are sleeping.”
Peering over at the two cribs that leaned against the wall, Damian raised a brow. “Which one is mine?”
Pulling her arms over her chest, she sighed. “Charlotte, Charlotte is the one that shows much more promise. Adeline resembles your daughter too much. Charlotte is going to have her father’s tenacity. I can tell.” They weren’t her children to give, but she was more their mother than Aria. Aria never looked at the girls, she always scrunched her nose up in disgust. She’d much rather lay in bed with Alistair all day than play with her children. Her own flesh and blood! Charlotte would be fine with Damian, she’d be trained like a real vampire. He’d treat her as his own daughter, and give her more attention and resources than Aria ever could. Besides, Alistair didn’t know how to raise a vampire… No, there was no use justifying her promise to Damian. He’d raise her as evil as he was. There’d be no way to escape that. But, she desperately hoped that Alistair would be able to stop him before he could take Charlotte or do any damage to her morality. She knew that Alistair would never forgive her for what she was doing, but she HAD to do it, Damian left her with no choice! Pepper had always been intuitive to children, she was an imaginary friend, it’s what they did. She was able to sense things about the children that not even their parents could at that age. it’s how she knew that Charlotte was stronger. Adeline would withdraw into herself when the pressure hit, she’d stand no chance against Damian.
“What a pitiful group of witches,” Damian said. “I’m standing right in front of them and they don’t even notice.”
“They’re exhausted,” Pepper explained. “Escaping from your daughter isn’t easy.”
“Isn’t it?” He asked. “All they did was leave after Lucas talked to Aria. She hasn’t even gone after Alistair or the children either. It doesn’t get easier than this.” Pepper didn’t know what to say. She felt horrible. Why wasn’t she even trying to stop this man? He wanted to hurt Alistair, the one and only man she’d ever love, and she was letting him. She wasn’t strong enough to stop him, and she was so afraid. Afraid of the outcome if she didn’t let him hurt Alistair. Sure, he’d take Charlotte, but it’d only hurt Alistair emotionally. It was better than what Damian had planned otherwise. She couldn’t let him destroy her one true love. She just couldn’t! “I’ll be coming back soon for Charlotte. When she’s old enough for it to destroy her father,” Damian said. “I was thinking when she was a little girl, but what if I waited until she was older? Eighteen maybe? When Alistair raised her and attached hmself to her. You know the value of connection, Pepper.”
“No!” She said quickly. “You can’t do that, it’s just cruel! Please, reconsider.”
“Are you having second thoughts?” Damian lightly touched Pepper’s face. “You can’t back out now. You made me a promise, and those who break their promises to me suffer a worse fate than death. I’ll start with Charlotte, then Adeline, then I’ll destroy Alistair’s heart and then, when he hates you, I’ll kill him so you can live the rest of your miserable life alone and bound to that wench of a woman Cora. Do you want that?”
“No,” She whispered. “I’ll do as you say, please. Just don’t hurt him.”
“Very well.” He smirked. “Make sure you’re a part of Alistair’s life. Raise Charlotte in preperation for the day that I come to get her. She’ll be raised as a purebred vampire should. The other one will be a filthy halfbreed and suffer the consequences of time. That is all I have to say on this matter.” Before Pepper could say anything, Damian had disappeared. Vanished, into thin air. She slumped down on the floor and cried until she fell asleep. The witches hadn’t so much as stirred, and it made her feel so utterly alone.
Days had passed since Pepper’s run in with Damian. She hadn’t said a word to anyone about it and tried her hardest not to seem like she was shaken up by the entire situation. Even more, she distanced herself from Alistair and Adeline, choosing only to take care of Charlotte. She had made sure the child was strong and healthy, and she would stay that way until Damian came to claim what was his. Declan on the other hand, always picked up Pepper’s slack without realizing it. His natural instinct was to take care of those around him, so rocking Adeline in his arms was natural to him. He remembered when Sienna was that small and it always brought a smile to his face. Until he thought about the hard cold truth behind why he had to step up and take care of his sister. Damian Woods. Now, they had to worry about Aria as well, and he couldn’t keep Altiere’s accusatory voice quiet in his head. He couldn’t help but wonder what Aria’s true intention was. It wasn’t like the group was really hidden, she’d be able to find them easily if she wanted to. Declan wanted to leave, but he decided against his original plan. It wasn’t easy traveling with two babies, and he knew that Damian was witholding from attacking just yet. He didn’t know why, or what the two vampires had planned, but it was obvious that both were capable of destroying Alistair Gray at any moment.
“Aww, Decky, what a cute baby,” Altiere cooed in Declan’s head.
“You hate Alistair but like his kids?” Declan mumbled.
“Well duh, they’re only full bred vampires because of me you know! Those are my kids. When I’m free I’d like to take Adeline with me and train her.”
“To hell you’re taking another man’s kid,” Declan answered.
“Another man’s kid? They’re my kids too. Technically. Besides, Adeline is such a gem. I mean, look at her, she’s even captured your heart! Imagine, the two of us as parents to that beautiful little girl!”
“Leave me alone and don’t ever suggest anything like that again. I’m not interested in ANY relationships, especially not parenting my best friend’s kids,” Declan said.
“You might want to lower your voice. They can’t hear me, but they can hear you!” Altiere snickered. “Besides, don’t pretend like you don’t swing my way. You were always a sucker for true love huh? I remember you sued to say that you couldn’t wait to meet your soulmate, it didn’t matter what they were, a vampire, witch, werewolf, human…as long as you loved them and they were good. I take it you mean gender as well, huh? I know exactly what you’re thinking all the time Declan, and you need to reign in your emotions.”
“Leave me alone,” Declan muttered. “Get out of my head. If you want to bother Alistair, do it on your own time. I have people that I care about that need to be protected.”
“So you’re all high and mighty now? I wish you were that confident when I was alive, it’d be a hell of a lot easier. Maybe I’d be headmaster instead of Damian.”
“You’d be a hell of a worse one than Damian is now,” Declan said. “We don’t need any ruler. We need a government formed with the collective interest of the people in mind. Maybe like a council.”
“I leave for a few days and you’re talking to yourself now?” A voice asked.
Declan jumped backwards. “You scared the crap outta me Lucas! What the heck?”
“Sorry, sorry. I let myself in. I hope you don’t mind,” He answered.
“Well no, this is technically your house but-” Declan shook his head. “I thought you were talking to the guardians. It’s been days. What happened?”
“I took the time train. Traveling through time like that isn’t in an instant, it takes literal time from the rider. Hence, the few days time difference. One day, when you’re ready to take over I’ll explain to you about time traveling and everything involved with that.”
“Since when did everything become so complicated?” Declan asked. He held Adeline close to his chest.
“Things have always been complicated. You just never had to worry about that side because you hadn’t found someone who you’d give up anything to protect,” Lucas said.
“I’ve always had Sienna to take care of. I’d die for her,” Declan said.
“That isn’t what I mean. I guess, I was talking about Alistair. You’ve never had a friend, someone who came into your life of their own choosing, one that isn’t attached to you by blood or obligation and has truly touched your life.I can see you’re taking it even more seriously now.” Lucas pointed to the little girl in his arms. “Everything is different when there’s someone like that in your life. You know that if you mess up, you’ll not only be hurting him, but his kids as well, and that’s why it’s so complicated now. There’s more at stake.”
Declan nodded solemnly. “Yeah, that’s exactly it. I couldn’t say it better myself.” He readjusted his hat before speaking again. “How did it go? Is time going to be turned back?”
“Would you honestly want it to?” Lucas crossed his arms over his chest. “If time was turned back, there’s be no babies and your friendship with Alistair might not have ever reached this point.”
Sighing, Declan shook his head. “These babies are so precious, and I care so much about them. But at the same time, so many people are hurting. Sienna is devestated because Patrick is dead. Kat and Miles are with Damian, Hayden and Robin ran…what else is left? Alistair can’t remember anything, and that Pepper girl seems so skittish. Nobody is okay because of the time distortion, except for these angels.”
Lucas sighed, ready to explain the cold truth, that time would never be turned back for Alistair when he heard a loud ringing noise and saw a frantic Sienna, waving her arms wildly. “Fire, it’s a fire!”
Declan thrust Adeline into his sister’s arms. “Here, take her outside now! Get a safe distance from the flames, Lucas and I will deal with this!”
Alistair ran inside of the room, “Where is my daughter?”
“There, take Charlotte outside, we need to get them out now!” Sienna said. Alistair turned to Declan who shot him a quick reassuring nod. He’d hope it’d be enough to relieve Alister. He and Lucas would handle everything.
The pair made sure everyone was out of the buidling before attempting to put the flames out. “They’re never ending, what is this?” Declan breathed.
“It’s a vampire spell,” Lucas said. “It’s called the eternal flame. It’ll burn and engulf anything in it’s path until the user stops it. It cannot be put out. I have no doubt in my mind that Damian did this. He was waiting for an opportune time. Guess now is it.”
“Why now!?” Declan exclaimed. “Why has he been hiding?”
“I have no idea son, but for now, we need to leave this before we get caught in the fire. There is no way to put out these flames and we’ll burn alive.” Lucas grabbed him by his shirt and thrusted him in front of the door. “There’s so much that I have to tell you, so I can’t have you dying on me.”
“Right.” Declan nodded and reached for the doorknob. “You better follow me. No heroics, or anything. I’m not ready to take over just yet.”
“Of course not,” Lucas laughed despite the danger they were in. “I won’t abandon anymore people.”
Declan had just stepped foot outside when Sienna approached him. “You’re safe, thank the Watcher!”
“Of course he is,” Lucas smiled. “I’d never let your brother die.”
“Dec, please hold her,” Alistair passed Adeline into his arms. “She won’t stop crying. I got Charlotte to calm down but-” He shook his head. “I’m not good at this parenting thing like you are.”
“You will be,” Declan said softly. “You just need time. Sometimes certain circumstances force you to grow up.”
Nodding, Alistair held Charlotte close to his chest. “I feel you, a hundred percent. I think it comes with being a Gray too. Always forced to move on and grow up before it’s time.”
“About that,” Declan said. “We should tell Sienna the truth now. I was waiting until Lucas got back.”
“What truth?” She frowned. “You’ve been lying to me?”
Declan slowly rocked the little girl in his arms until she quieted down. “Yes, but because I wanted to wait until you were calm. A few days ago and you’d have been irate. I don’t want you blaming anything on Alistair. It isn’t his fault.”
“What happened?” She eyed the boy suspiciously. “Just tell me.” They explained everything to Sienna who only let out a small nod. “Ok, I believe you. This really sucks, but I believe you.”
Alistair flinched. “I’m sorry!”
“For what?” She frowned.
“Don’t apologize, it isn’t your fault,” Declan said.
“I need to get this off my chest.” Alistair handed his daughter to Lucas. “How does it feel to be a great grandfather?”
“We’ll talk about your children later, go ahead and speak to Sienna,” Lucas said.
“Sienna, I’m sorry,” I repeated. She hadn’t flinched or moved at all actually. Just what was she thinking?
“For lying to me?” She asked. “Or do you think I blame you for what happened to Patrick?”
“If it wasn’t for me speeding up time, Patrick might still be here. Damian was looking for me!” I cried. “You can’t expect me not to put the blame on myself for that!”
“It wasn’t your intention, nor was it in your control. All you did was speed up time, Damian still would have come after you. It’s not anything to be blamed on you, but on the headmaster. Do you finally understand why I wanted to leave so bad? Your human speculation would have been nothing compared to what we go through on a daily basis with that monster. He took my parents, and now the love of my life. He has to be stopped before he takes my brother!”
“I won’t let that happen,” I said firmly. “He has given up too much to help me. I refuse to let Damian take him too. I’ll make this up to you, Sienna. I promise.”
“There’s nothing to make up,” She saidquietly. “It’s not like you can turn back time.”
“That’s actually what Lucas went to check,” I answered her.
“You don’t really want to do that do you?” She bit her lip as she watched me. That’s when it dawned on me. My girls. They’d disappear if time was turned back three years. I’d relive my life and chances are, I’d never come in to contact with Aria again. I had become so attached to these little angels in just a few short days. They were mine, and every little giggle, burp, cry, amazed me to no end. How could that have been created because of me? Sure, I was young, but who cares? No life deserves to be taken away.
“No,” I answere dhonestly. “I love the girls too much. I just wish there wasn’t so much trouble because of me. Patrick-”
“Would have given his life up to protect any one of us,” Sienna said sadly. “He would have done it whether you were here or not, in any situation. He thinks of us all as his family Alistair. Nobody messes with his family. He’d do it all over again.”
I leaned over to wipe the stray tear that had fallen from her eye. “He was an amazing man. I’m so sorry.”
“I know,” She mumbled back, hugging me tightly. “That’s why we can’t let him get away with this. Don’t let Patrick’s life be in vain. We need to make Moonlight Falls a better place. No more running, we stand together and fight.”
“Can we really do that?” I whispered as she laid her head on my chest. “That fire, it was him, wasn’t it?”
“Probably, he wants you dead.” She sniffled. “I care too much about you to let him take you from me or Dec, or those girls. We need to do something. I believe in you, Lucas and my brother. I’ll do whatever it takes to make things better and get Miles and Kat back.”
“Me too,” I agreed, feeling the fire burn inside of me. Just like in my favorite manga, I’d get the power up and win this fight. Damian would die, even if I had to die to end his terrible reign. The people of Moonlight Falls had suffered long enough.