AN: This was written using speech to text and I edited what I could. Sorry for any mistakes!
Leon placed his suitcase on his bed and began to unpack his things. This was supposed to be the break of the century. He was planning on sleepovers with Braylen, breakfast dates with Graciela and going to the movies with Pax, Camilla, Harmony, and Wolf. “Owww!” Lance whined, his hand flying up to his ears. “You’re hurting my ears, big brother.”
“Oh. Sorry little man.” Leon laughed a little and ruffled his hair. “I missed you.”
“Are you staying here for good?” Lance asked, looking up at his brother.
“For a few months, and then I have to go back,” Leon said with a frown. “But, don’t worry. It’s all to save the world, okay?”
“So, you’re a superhero…” Lance pumped his fist into the air. “That’s so cool! Wait, why don’t you look happy?”
“I am,” Leon assured his brother. “Don’t worry about me.”
“It’s because Graciela isn’t here right?” Lance asked. “Gross, she’s just a girl.”
“Trust me, kiddo. You won’t be saying that when you’re older and you fall in love,” Leon said. “One day some girl is going to make you want to do crazy things, and you’re totally going to do it too.”
“Am not! No stupid girl is going to make me do something like that. ” Lance placed his hands on his hips. “Nuh-uh.”
“You haven’t met your special girl yet.” Leon winked. “I saw her, and she’s really pretty. She has the nicest hair and a pretty smile. Trust me, when you’re older you’re going to be smitten. You’ll think back, ‘Wow Leon is so smart! He was totally right! and then you’ll invite me to your wedding right?”
“Gross! Stop that!” Lance stuck his tongue out. “Mooooom!” Lance shouted. “Leon says I’m going to marry some random girl I’ve never met yet!”
“Leon!” She called up the stairs. “I know they taught you not to use your powers out of the academy. Stop right now! Do you know how dangerous it is?”
Leon glared at his little brother. “Stop that, I’m going to get in trouble now.”
“Power? You have a power? I was joking about the super hero thing. What’s your power?”
“I’ve got to go talk to mom now!” Leon patted his brother’s head before running out of the room.
“Leon Sikes get down here THIS INSTANT- Oh.” His mother scrunched her nose up at him. “What are you doing?”
“All I said was that I knew who he was going to marry when he grew up, because he said Graciela was just some girl.”
“We need to talk about that…” She bit her lip. “Your father and I haven’t been completely honest about who you are and why you have the abilities that you do when no one else in the family does.”
“You’ve been lying to me?” Leon asked. “What? Why?”
“To protect you, and to protect Graciela,” His mother said. “I’m quite a fan of you both, but we need to discuss some things.” She walked towards the stairs. “Lance! Do some reading tonight. Don’t argue with me, we need to talk to your brother!”
“Fine!” Lance called out, but he seemed less than thrilled with the idea.
“What? No, ‘Hey Leon. How’s school going?’ ” Leon frowned. “Missed you guys too.”
“We missed you more than you’ll ever know,” She replied shaking her head. “Do not even joke like that.” She gave him a stern look. “Our circumstances are different. We don’t get to play around all the time. We need to be serious too.”
Leon took a step back, placing his hands up in front of him. “I know that you guys love me. I’m not taking anything lightly. Sometimes though, you need to learn how to smile. I know that what I am affects the entire family, but don’t burden yourself with my problem. This is my duty to fulfill, not yours or dad’s or even Lances.”
“You are our son honey. Everything you do affects us because we love and care about you. Nothing you say is going to make us back away. Which is why I need to tell you something about my family. You don’t get your ability from your father, it is from my side of the family.” She led Leon to the living room where his father had already been seated with a cup of coffee in his hand. “Honey, Leon is ready to talk.”
Leon’s dad raised a brow. “Is he ready to talk? Or, are you impatient Myra? Leave the boy alone, he just got here. I’m sure he wants to settle in.”
“No. As much as I would like to relax, I know that I do not have that luxury. The minute I got my first vision, was the minute that my life stopped being normal. I’m aware that this ability does not take breaks. I have to be focused at all times. So, please just tell me what it is you need me to know.” Leon took a seat on the couch next to his father, and his mother followed suit.
“Very well then. I’m going to let your mother take over from here then, considering it is her family secret.”
“There’s something that I need you to know honey.” Leon’s mother grabbed his hands tightly, and willed him to match her gaze. “From the very moment that you were born, you were bonded to Graciela Gray. Even though she was miles apart from you, the divines touched you both. It is stated that the two of you meet, in order to fulfill the prophecy that I know you’ve already seen.”
“Mom, I’ve already heard this a million times at the academy. You don’t have to reiterate it. I know what you’re trying to say, but it isn’t true. It isn’t some undeniable force that brings Gracie and I together. It’s just me and her. I love her.”
“I’m not saying that at all,” his mother replied. “I would do no such thing as turn love into something monotonous and forced. As you can see, your father and I are an unlikely pair. The vampires don’t take kindly to him marrying a human. But you see, us Sikes have always wanted something that we weren’t supposed to have. Or rather, what people tell us we shouldn’t have.”
“Son,” his father placed a hand on Leon’s shoulder. “The last name that you take is not mine. It is your mother’s, and it is a sacred one. My lineage has always been a destructive one. My family has always wanted to keep people out, so I am unwilling to be represented by them. Yet the Sikes are strong-willed and commendable people who throw caution to the wind and chase what they love. They have been kind enough, through your mother, to allow me to take their name.”
Leon nodded his head, letting the information seep in. He’d always felt as if his father strayed away from other vampires, even though he was a prominent member of the clan board. He had remembered fondly the moment Lance was born a human, because it was one of the few times he saw his father genuinely smile. “I understand why you don’t want me hanging out with the vampires from our clan.”
“Our sect, is an ugly one. I have wanted nothing more than for you to embrace where you come from, but that is not a possibility in Fortitude. This place was founded on the ideals of exclusivity and isolation. You do not know the true history of our home,” His father said.
“It’s a very long tale that encompasses a lot of different people but I will tell you what I can. Your great ancestor’s name was Lapis Sikes, and he was son of a merchant. It is to my understanding that his father had taken out a loan from a wealthy noble and died before he could pay it back. Therefore, Lapis had to take over the debt and sold himself into indentured servitude. While he was working for this wealthy man, he met a beautiful woman by the name of Chastity Lilly. From the journal that he had once written in, it seemed as if Chastity was one of the most beautiful women in the world. He’d eyes only for her, but he spoke a lot about forbidden love. He could not have her, because she was the daughter of his boss and he had nothing to offer her. Not an influential last name, nor any money at all.”
“But, true love conquered right?” Leon asked hopefully.
“Myra,” Her husband began. “Let him read their words. If you tell him what happened as a story, it will always just be a story. He will not understand the magnitude of their actions, until he reads it for himself. Do you remember how shaken to your core you were when you read those diary entries?”
“Yes, I do.” Myra nodded her head sadly. “Your father is right Leon. Read those words, and you will begin to understand what it truly means to be in love. I am not going to tell you what you have to do with your ability. You already hear that at the Academy. Instead, I want to talk to about your emotions. You do not need to bury them because of some job you were given at birth. Life is short to let others dictate what you are supposed to do.”
“Because you have a particular mission, no – burden, does not mean that you need to live your life for another person. You must live your life the way that you want to. That is all your mother is getting at.”
“Graciela is not a burden. I’m not living my life to protect her from the darkness so that our world will not collapse. I am living my life for her because I cannot imagine mine without her. Every single day, I wake up and I feel a pressure on my chest. I begin to think of her face and every bandage that I put on my heart begins to rip open. I cannot stop thinking about her. That is not a bond. A bond is a connection we feel when we are together. But, we are apart and I still feel like she’s the most important thing to me. I’ve tried everything, I even thought about asking out my friend Angelica because I know she has a crush on me.” Leon took a deep breath. “I know I’m only 17 years old, but I’ve already been forced to grow up. So, why can I have these grown-up feelings for her? Why does everyone insist upon telling me that what I feel for her is just simply a duty that I have? Because if our fated bond was so strong, would she be mature enough to tear herself away from me and realize that Maric was what was best for her?”
“That was honestly the most mature thing I think I’ve ever heard you say,” his father said with pride in his voice. “Maybe you are learning something from the Academy. But then again, maybe it’s because you’re a Sikes. Just like your mother and even Lapis before you, you choose to fight against what others are telling you is wrong. You are willing to give your all for this girl, even if that means allowing her to slip from your grasp. That is love, not just a simple bond.”
“The bond from the divines,” Myra began, “is not what everyone inks it is. Honestly, when I say that the divines touched you both what I mean to say is that it is stated that the two of you meet. There’s nothing in the seer’s tale that says that you two fall in love. It simply tells the story of how the darkness ends. That is it, for how can a simple vision encompass the emotions of another person? Especially a person who at the time was not even born yet… For those who say that seer’s tales are the definite truth, I implore them to think about who is writing these books. There is a person with a pen in his hand scribbling these notes down and last I checked no human or supernatural is completely mistake free. If you love Graciela, then who are we to argue against that?”
“Son, if you feel as if Graciela is your destiny, play no more games. Do not push her away with childish behavior because you think she will be better off. Do not allow some other boy to come in and comfort her the way that you want to. If you truly love her passed the bond that you have been instilled with, then you need to prove it to her. You don’t have to convince us, you have to convince her that you love her.’’
“How can I do that?” Leon asked, dipping his head down. “She’s all the way in Moonlight Falls. She doesn’t even want me to contact her, because she says it’s dangerous. So, am I just supposed to wait here until we have to go to the underworld and I save her life? Where does the “I love you” fall in there?”
Myra stood up and walked over to the bookshelf. Hidden in plain sight was Lapis’ journal. She handed her son the worn book and smiled. “I’m sure that after reading what Lapis said about his one true love, and reading about how their story ended, it will point you in the right direction. I know better than anyone else that I cannot tell you what to do. You’re old enough to know now that whatever decision you make, has to be yours. Otherwise you’re really just doing what the world wants. We Sikes don’t do that. We do what we feel is right for us, no matter what anyone says about it.”
Leon held the book against his heart and nodded. “Sometimes, life isn’t so easy is it? I knew that we would never be able to just sit outside under the stars and talk, or walk on the beach together holding hands. But, what I didn’t know was that accepting that was going to hurt so much.”
His parents stood and hugged him tightly. “No matter what happens, we love you,” his mother said.
“And we’re so proud of you,” His father added. “You’ve grown into quite a fine individual.”