“Alright everyone, gather round,” Declan said. “This is today’s plan-” He stopped when he saw Adeline. “You’re in your pajamas?”
“Her costume is here.” I held up the bag. “Someone stayed up all night.”
“Sorry.” She rubbed her eyes. “I was reading. I got to the good part.”
“So innocent.” Charlotte rolled her eyes.
“Woah now,” Declan began. “Innocent is good. Stay innocent, dear.”
“I agree,” I added.
“For you daddy,” She looked at me. “I’ll do anything.”
“Now, we stay together-” Declan was cut off again, this time by me.
“Actually, Alistair met a girl in class who is also here, so he wanted to go hang out with her. You know how that is,” I said.
“Ahh, alright. But don’t do anything dangerous, alright?” Declan asked. “I don’t want you to get hurt.”
Alistair feigned shock. “Are you worried about me?”
“Yeah, yeah kid. Just go before I change my mind and embarass you in front of this girl.”
I pulled Alistair to the side. “This is our big chance.” I fished in my pocket for the enchanted key. “There is only ONE of these in existence. Do NOT lose it.”
“Everyone will think you’re an irresponsible keeper.” Alistair beamed. “I’ll be fine. Just tell me what to do.”
“Make sure that no one sees you,” I said. “And I mean NO ONE. If Damian finds out, we’re all in some serious trouble. Just hold the key up. There isn’t a door knob on the vault or anything. It’ll open up, and you can search the room. Please don’t touch anything that looks like it can be dangerous. ONLY look for paperwork, got it?”
“Yeah, I got it.” He grinned. “This is exciting!”
“Please,” I begged. “Be careful. This is really just as dangerous as Imaginationland. There is always someone watching trying to get rid of us. We’re Grays, so keep that in mind.”
“I promise,” He said. “I’ll be careful. I’ll look for the papers and then I’ll be out.”
“One more thing,” I said. “Check in the first draw. There was some paperwork that I was supposed to get, but never had the chance.”
He nodded. “I’ll be back, alright?”
I bit my lip, hoping this was the right thing to do. “Daddy!” Charlotte waved her arms wildly. “Come ON! Ade already changed into her costume.”
Alistair shooed me off and I ran over to the group. “Wow, a burglar?” I mused. “Terrifying.”
“I just like the mask.” She grinned.
“Dibs on holding daddy’s hand when we walk inside!” Charlotte slipped her hand in mine. “It’s really scary in there, but I’ll protect you, okay?”
I felt another hand grab mine from the other side. It was Declan. “Hey.” He grinned. “You scared?”
“Of what, a haunted house?” I asked. “Nonsense.”
“Can we all walk in together?” Adeline murmured.
“You’re a purebreed,” Charlotte said. “And you’re afraid of some haunted house.”
“Sweetie,” I kneeled by her. “Everything in there is fake. You can’t get hurt.”
“Well,” Declan began. “You can’t get hurt, usually. There’s friendly ghosts in there, but they’re real.”
I gulped. “You’re joking right?”
“Come on, dad!” Charlotte looked at Declan. “Let’s get him in there before he changes his mind!”
Alistair didn’t know why he was so nervous. In this form, no one could see him. But, he hated it nonetheless. it felt so uncomfortable. He rather stay a human and be recognized. He held the key up and as he was told, the door opened. He was thankful that there weren’t any flashing lights. Inside, was a simple set up. A desk and a few bookshelves. Not even a computer, or a desk lamp. The first order of business was to check the draw. He searched each draw, only to find things like paperclips and pencils. No documents. He’d have to tell Alistair that. Maybe Declan had retreived it prior? Shaking his head, he headed over to the bookshelves. The titles were mundane and filled with spells and history. None of which concerned him. He was able to thumb through all of the books in a relatively fast paced, that’s how miniscule the room was. Sighing in defeat, Alistair left and looked for his uncle to report his findings.
“You’re still in imaginary friend form?” I asked.
“Wait, you can see me?” Alistair asked.
“Yesh, I guess, I can.” I laughed. “That’s strange.”
“No, I think it’s because we’re related. It has to do with the blood, and also your magic.” He sat down next to me.
“You’re not going to change back?” I asked.
“Nope.” He smirked. “I always wanted to do this. Now you’re going to look like you’re crazy.”
“Gee, thanks buddy.” I rolled my eyes. “So, did you find anything?”
He frowned. It was adorable. In this form at least. “No! Nothing, not even your documents. There was just a desk and some bookshelves. It took me only ten minutes to go through each of them, and even then it was just your standard history books.”
“I should have known,” I said. “It would not be that easy to open the vault.”
“You knew?” He asked. “And you wasted my time. Thanks.”
“No no, relax.” I rolled my eyes. “I thought that since I was the keeper it may have let you through. But I guess not. I do recall Declan saying something about the keepeers opening the door. It’s a regular room for whoever else tries to open it. The room changes for each keeper. The room for the mages is different from the room for the vampires.”
“So you have to do it then,” Alistair said.
“I can’t do it without Declan there,” I lowered my voice as I saw him approaching. “The last time, I had a vision. I don’t know if that still happens or not. Today is not a good day for that.”
Alistair frowned once again. “We’re never going to find out, are we?”
“If itt is my story, like you say it is,” I began. “Then I don’t want to know the ending. Time is the worst thing you can go against. Trust me, I know better than anyone else.”
“Yeah but-” He stopped when he noticed my grimace. “If you think this is best then I’ll stop.”
I rubbed my temple. “Thank you, Al. Really, thank you.”
I watched Alistair leave to a corner where he could change back without being noticed. I stood up to approach Declan, not noticing he was right in front of me. “Falling for me?” He smirked, catching me.
“Wow, you uh- when did you- what?”
He chuckled. “So I leave you breathless too, huh?”
“You’re an idiot.” I leaned up and kissed him, which he gladly returned. “Where are the kids?”
“At the food court. For a moment only, I swear I didn’t leave them alone,” He said.
“Al is there.” I pointed to the girls. “I think they want to give us some alone time.”
“Do they now?” He grinned. “That’s perfect because I wanted to talk to you.”
“Yeah, about what?” I asked.
“How much I love you and your family.”
“You always sound like you’re in the honeymoon phase when you get all romantic.” I grinned. “It’s cheesy, but cute.”
He held me by my waist. “I actually want to talk about something serious. Seeing your dads together the other day has made me start thinking. I want that kind of relationship for us. Your dad, despite being powerless stopped what he was doing, the life he was living to see his husband, and help him through his hard time. Alistair, can that be us?”
“Of course,” I murmured, looking into his eyes. “I thought that went without saying.”
“You’ll be here for me, forever?” He asked, a hint of doubt in his voice.
“You don’t believe me?” I asked suddenly. It hurt more than you’d know. He didn’t trust me?
“It’s not you. Please don’t look at me like that. Seriously, it isn’t!” He pulled me close. “It’s me. It’s always been me. Everytime I get close to somwone, they leave. I’m always having to be the one to be strong, how do you think that makes me feel? I smile but I’m really broken inside. First, my dad…Damian took him from me. My mother left me and I haven’t heard from her ever since. Altiere and I used each other, Patrick and I got into a huge fight. Then, Lucas died. Al, you, Sienna and the girls are all I have left. When you left, I thought you wouldn’t return. I know it’s stupid, I just didn’t know what to hink. I’ve never felt this way before.”
“Declan, you know that I love you. I’d never dream about leaving you,” I replied. “I can’t live without you.”
He dropped to one knee, and my heart sped up like a teenage girl on her first date. “Since we’re on the same page, want to make it official?”
“What do you think?” I asked.
“I want to hear you say it.” He smirked. That cocky smirked that I loved so much.
“Yes, Declan Gage. I’ll marry you.” He slid the ring on my finger and then kissed me passionately. “The girls are going to be thrilled. But, it’s not like they don’t call you dad anyway.”
He smiled, rubbing my back lovingly. “This way feels more permanent, and settled. Like, I’m not leaving.”
“Would you have ever left?” I mused. “I mean, you raised my girls for me while I was gone. You didn’t have to do that.”
“I love you and your kids, our kids. Our girls.” He shut his eyes. “This is incredible. I have my own family now.”
“You’ve always had me,” I murmured against him. “And you always will.”
“Trick or treat,” Adeline said.
“Wow, nice costume,” The neighbor said. “You two are twins?”
“What gave it away, the blue hair?” Charlotte asked sarcastically.
“Be nice,” I coaxed. “Or, I’m going to take the candy away.”
“No fair!” Charlotte whined. “You have to take Ade’s away too then.”
“No he doesn’t,” Alistair said. “She isn’t being mean.”
“I apologize,” I told the the neighbor.
He shrugged. “Kids will be kids.”
Time passed quickly from that point on. Even more quickly, it felt, than the time distortions. But, I lived through those precious moments and I loved every minute of them. A lot of things happened since then. Declan and I had a private wedding. Nothing too extravagant, just my dads(who decided to stay in Moonlight Falls! Rickie hasn’t come for dad yet, so I assume our deal with the guardians is an unspoken one) the girls, Alistair and Sienna. Alistair visited his parents every other weekend with the help of Ethan’s time machine. He made a few good friends in school. Charlotte and Adeline quickly grew up. In no time they were teenagers, starting high school. With Altiere’s encouragement, Declan and I enrolled them in a private school just for vampires. Who knew that those existed? Both girls are doing extremely well, but studying comes more naturally to Adeline than Charlotte. Charlotte would much rather be socializing than at home with a few books. Adeline on the other hand had fewer friends and preffered to cuddle up on the couch with a book. Astra and Millie both aged up as well. They’re inseparable. Astra and Millie are both enrolled in a normal school with a mix of supernaturals…humans are still a rare sight here. Astra is enrolled in an after school program to help her grasp her studies. SHe still has a hard time focusing, and she’s developed a stutter. It usually only comes out when she’s nervous, so she’s usually able to conttol it. Millie is extremely protective of her sister. I found that out when I got a call from the girl’s principal telling me that Millie was suspended. Three days for blasting another student with an ice spell. When I asked her why, she told me that someone was making fun of Astra’s stutter. Because of this, Astra barely has any friends and most of Millie’s are only there because they fear her. At least, thats what I assume. Things are never quite calm with the Gray family. Altiere is getting even more pushy with the whole “heir” thing as the girls get close to eighteen. I don’t know if I’m ready to give Adeline up to him, or if I even want to. (Of course I don’t). In fact, today, today was the day that I had recieved a beautifully penned letter from the guardians. It read, simply, “We’re watching.” Cryptic, but I knew what it meant. It would be time for me to offer one of my children up, really soon. Would I be able to do it? If I wanted to protect my father, I had to.
“Very well, Zodiac,” Angel’s velvety voice spoke. “You’ve done your task. Welcome to the guardians.”
“What am I to do now, lady fae?” Zodiac asked. “I’m here to do your bidding.”
“Now that you’ve proven yourself as a viable companion,” She began. “I have a very important task for you. I need you to watch one little girl, she’s a Gray.”
“The chosen family?” He mused. “This ought to be fun. You’re trusting me with something this important?”
Angel smirked. “You’ve seen what happens to those who fail, correct?”
“Xerxes was an idiot,” Zodiac answered. “He deserved what he got.”
“His problem was that his loyalty to the guardians came second to him. He spent more time focusing on the wish bank rather than little Alistair Gray. Look at what happened. Vampire children. He’s even closer to Damian than he was before.”
“That was Emit’s doing, was it not?” Zodiac asked.
“Xerxes was in charge of this generation. He was to keep an eye on Alistair, instead he allowed several time distortions to happen as well as visions and the like. He should NOT have abandoned him in Moonlight Falls. Frost Bite did not do that with Apollo. Even so, Emit’s walking on a thin line as well. Does his loyalty lie with his family or the guardians? Relationship ties seem to severe the ultimate ending. We have one goal in mind, and it has to be accomplished.”
“What a shame,” Zodiac said. “He was the best genie around.”
“Is it?” She asked. “He had to be disposed of, to set an example for the others.”
Zodiac shrugged. “I had no problem destroying him. The look on his face was priceless. He knew exactly who was after him.”
“And so do the others.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “I trust you with this little girl. She’s the one who will carry the Grays to where they have to be.”
“Understood.” He nodded. “And the vampires?”
“Leave those girls to me, personally. If Altiere thinks that he’s going to swoop in and take Damian’s spot from under him, he’s lost it. Purebreed vampire or not, we don’t need her, another one with that wretched Woods blood, ruling over the people. I’ll make sure that everything goes as planned.”
“I’ll start right away. What was her name?” He asked.
“The info is in your new office. I’ve left Xerxes’ belongings. Take what you want and dispose of the rest.” She stretched her arms out. “This time I’ll have to take care of things.”