[TRIGGER WARNINGS: MENTAL ABUSE/TORTURE
Songs: Arwen’s Vigil, Michael Meets Mozart, Can’t Help Falling in Love – The Piano Guys]
As the Hound and Sheriff bore down upon her, Lucy clung tightly to her father’s side. She had been warned that she was in danger while with him at this “Court” thing, but she had never thought this was going to be the sort of danger they were talking about. A strange woman, thin and waif-like, stood on stage, drawing everyone’s attention to the newspapers reporting the fire she had started and the finding of her mother’s body. She had tried to make herself small, but then she had been pointed out…and now things were going wrong. Very, very wrong.
The woman with half a face, who had once tried to be so nice to her, was bearing down more and more; her originally calm tones growing more and more dangerous with each passing moment. Lucy clung tighter, as her father tried to convince them to take him with her. Neither side seemed willing to back down, which Lucy was grateful for. Her father began to argue semantics and job roles and the discussion turned for a short time, before the woman on stage (a Prince?) got involved again.
She felt something sharp and painful in her head, pushing her to leave his side and she pushed whatever it was away forcefully.
She whimpered to her father. “They’re in my head. Dad, they’re in my head.”
Apparently changing tactic, she then felt something else, something fuzzier: softer, warmer take the place of the sharp sensation, telling her to go to the Prince’s side; that she wanted to go to the Prince.
Frightened, she tried to push it away once more, and as she finally managed to, she turned to her father and whimpered again “Please don’t let them take me. Please don’t let me go…”
Her father suddenly tensed, and Lucy saw the woman with half a face pulling a knife away from a bleeding cut in her arm. She heard her father telling the woman that she “didn’t need to do that” and found herself being pulled away by her. Lucy lashed out, both angry and frightened, hitting the woman across the face. In return, she was pushed forcefully, and landed on the cold wooden floor, her sore burns, only just beginning to heal, tearing open, and causing her to scream out in pain. As she was pulled upwards, once again by the woman with half a face, she caught a glimpse of her father, stood in the same position he had been in when she was pulled away, his eyes betraying a mix of pain, sorrow, anger, frustration and betrayal.
They took her up to the stage, and then beyond, to a small back room; no windows, lights or anything, just darkness and a chair. The woman pushed her again, and Lucy found herself back on the floor, the dust and dirt attaching itself firmly to her wounds, and she screamed again. She was left on the floor as more voices echoed from outside, and forcing herself not to cry; steeling her determination, she shakily pushed herself from the floor and saw two women step into the room, the door snapping shut behind them.
“Get up, girl.” A voice from the darkness commanded, its owner hidden.
Setting her jaw, obstinately, she obeyed their command. Pushing herself up, she grimaced as she rose, standing, shakily, in front of whoever stood in front of her.
A bony, cold hand reached towards her face and gripped her jaw cruelly. She knew she was being scrutinised, but how and why exactly was a mystery. Her eyes glared in the general direction of the hand, searching for any trace of an outline she could use to focus her gaze.
“Hm.” The voice murmured, dismissively. “Petulant. Dismissive. Uncouth. Ugh.” It continued, disdainfully. “The Prince will be disappointed.”
The door opened gently, and the figure of another woman, bathed in half-light, entered. Lucy caught the shadows of the two women in front of her and set her gaze. The door snapped shut again, and the Prince’s voice echoed around the room.
“Come, Lucy, we are not your enemies.” She said softly and melodically, her voice containing an almost songlike beauty. “We are friends; allies. We just want to help.” She continued. “Sit, you’re safe here.” She added, the hint of a command in her voice. Lucy shifted uncomfortably and sat.
“I want my father.” She replied, her voice wavering but persistent. “Let me see him.” The Prince chuckled gently. “Such determination in such a small child.” She responded, running a finger down Lucy’s cheek. Lucy shuddered and shifted herself away. “How sweet. You can see your father in a while. I promise. And princes never break their promises.” She said, with some force. Lucy looked at her uncertainly. She didn’t want to believe this person, no matter what she said, but she seemed so honest, so…truthful.
“But before you can see him,” the Prince continued, “I need you to help us. There are lots of questions about what happened yesterday; and we need to fix the damage. But only you can help us, as you’re the only one who knows exactly what happened at home.” She said, measuredly.
“And then I can go back?” Lucy asked, unwilling to trust this woman, but knowing she had almost no choice.
“Of course!” Replied the Prince, warmly. “That’s all we need from you.”
Lucy paused for a second, trying to figure out what her father would do in this situation, but she was uncertain. Would he tell her to tell them everything and get it out of the way? Or would he tell her to stay quiet as these people were untrustworthy? Thinking hard, she decided he would probably tell her to just say everything she could so that no harm befell her.
“Okay.” She said, after a time. “Okay. You want to know what happened…so…” she took a deep breath, not really wanting to think too much on how she had killed her mother. “…so I’ll tell you.” She sat, small and insignificant compared to the three vampires stood above her. She told them everything she could remember: finding her father, speaking to him (she kept her feelings of elation and happiness to herself) and then how things changed when vampires were mentioned; how he wanted to meet up with her mum, and how he persisted. She told them of Misty, of how she didn’t bleed and it freaked her out, how they came to be stood at the house, and then the fight. She recounted as much of the fight as she could, how her father tried to keep things calm while her mother flew into a rage, how she wanted to protect him from her mum and so put herself in danger, how her father had snapped as she was hurt and the claws that grew. And how he turned into a bird and flew off…leaving her…leaving her…
She broke down at this point. She had kept herself contained and measured throughout her tale, but…she couldn’t…she just couldn’t bring herself to continue.
“It’s okay.” Said the Prince, cupping Lucy’s face gently with her hands. “It’s okay. Come now, what happened?”
Lucy felt an overwhelming urge to tell her everything, to explain exactly what happened. She smiled, her tear-stained face brightening as the Prince spoke…but something felt strange. This wasn’t right. Her mind rebelled and forced whatever strange tricks she was using away. Lucy stood up and threw the chair across the room.
“NO!” She shouted, backing away. “NO! You CAN’T MAKE ME tell you.” Like a wounded, captured animal, she hunched herself up, her back against the wall. She was primed to fight if she needed to.
“Sit” a voice in her head commanded. She felt herself slide down the wall into a sitting position. She panicked; what was happening?!
“Now, that was unnecessary, wasn’t it?” she heard the Prince say. The bony woman lead her back to the chair the third woman had picked back up. She found herself struggling to fight back. The third woman bound her to the chair with rope. “We want to help, but I need to know what happened, Lucy. And if you can’t tell us, then I need to find a way of unlocking your ability to do so. We are your friends.” She continued.
“Friends…wouldn’t…do…this…” Lucy said, fighting the fuzziness in her head as she spoke.
“They would if it made things better.” The Prince gently retorted. “Now. Tell me what happened.”
There was someone else in her head. There was someone else watching her thoughts. She could feel it, yet she was powerless to fight it. In her mind’s eye she saw flickers of memories pass; her first day of school, nervously stood at the gates with her mother, holding her hand. Being bullied for being from “un famille monoparental” in the school playground by her classmates. Strange men and women stood at the door having arguments with her mother…The stream of consciousness paused for a second.
“Interesting.” She heard in her head. “We shall return to this one…”
The memories continued to flicker; moving to England in the very early morning, her mother rushing her from their home in Concarneau to the port and over to Dover. Starting school in England and feeling lost and alone with no-one to talk to. More strange men and women. Searching on the internet for “Lucan” secretly, in her room, and phone calls…so many phone calls. Finding a person who knew a person who knew a person who knew someone who might be her father. Meeting a strange woman who let her into “her father’s” room. Her father…so many recent memories of her father. And then the Prince found the one she was looking for. The fight.
The memory played almost exactly as Lucy had said: Her mother spouting off about vampires hunting them down for eight years, about keeping Lucy safe, almost wanting a reason to start attacking. Her father trying to explain and talk but being caught off-guard. Lucy taking the hit for her father as she screamed for the two of them to stop. Her father’s resolve snapping as he launched himself at her mother and made two giant gashes across her face, arms and upper torso, and then flying away as a robin.
“Stop there…please…stop.” Whispered Lucy out loud.
The scene continued. As the bird flew out, Lucy looked at her mother’s bleeding, battered body, and her face set into the one the Prince and her cronies had seen only recently. She pulled herself from the floor, the burns weeping and bleeding, every step causing a sharp inhalation of breath and tears to come to her eyes. She walked into the kitchen, slowly, in agony.
“St…op…” She pleaded to the room, feeling her eyes well with tears. “Please…”
Lucy opened a drawer and grabbed a steel. With too much finesse for a girl of her age, she opened her flick knife and sharpened it. Her mother’s ragged breaths were loud and clear, and her heart panged as she prepared herself for her next action.
“Stop!” She cried, her voice filled with pain and desperation. “No more, please, no more!”
Stepping back into the living room with the knife behind her back, her eyes met her mother’s, and she fought the knot of guilt and dread building in her stomach. She forced herself to remember how her mother had begun the fight, how she had caused the whole, terrible scenario she had found herself in.
“Lu…cy…” Whispered her mother, her eyes pleading with her. “Get…help…”
Lucy gulped, her thumb running along the cold, metal handle of the knife. She knelt down next to her mother and hugged her.
Lucy began to sob, her heart breaking once more. “Please…” she feebly asked, her voice soulless; empty.
She released her mother and looked down on her.
“I am help, mum.” She replied quietly; sorrowfully.
She pulled the knife across her mother’s face with speed and force, the scalpel sharpness of the blade feeling like it was cutting through butter rather than flesh and muscle.
In what seemed like slow-motion, her mother’s body fell to the floor, motionless; her eyes unseeing, her mouth half-open in shock.
Lucy sat there, staring at nothing in particular, until the sirens in the distance jolted her back to reality. She took some of the flashbangs and placed them around the house – near curtains, sofas, anything that had fabric or paper that might catch light. Using toilet and kitchen paper, she made fuses attached to the items so that if the flashbang itself didn’t set the items on fire, the paper would at least catch and smoulder. As she returned to the living room, she hesitated, and then placed four around her mother’s body. She then started in the bedrooms upstairs and went, room by room, setting the house alight, hoping it would hinder the police’s investigation. Only when she was sure all were lit or had gone off, she left the house by the back door, locked it and went from garden to garden, waving her way through the back alleys, searching her father’s home out, not daring to look back as the sirens converged.
The stream of consciousness ended, and Lucy was shaking, as the three women stood around her, the Prince staring into her eyes, or maybe her soul through them.
“You’ve got what you wanted…now stop…please…stop…” said Lucy, devoid of emotion, her face blotchy and tear-streaked; her forehead covered in sweat.
“Not quite” replied the Prince without moving her lips, her voice still echoing in her head. “What about those people at your door?”
Up flashed her memories again, and Lucy gritted her teeth. Out came the snippets of memory she had. None lasted long as her mother always locked her away when the people came. But there were snippets of conversation she had overheard. “Daughter”, “beneficial”, “could be so much more” and “kindred spirits” were words that kept cropping up, until one meeting in Concarneau. “Renée est une femme compréhensive, elle ne vous empêche pas de voir votre fille” said a woman to her mother. "Nous voulons ce qui est mieux pour Lucille aussi, et nous pouvons leur donnera l’occasion d’être grand avec la fondation de la rose. C’est un école magnifique.”
Suddenly, the fog and fuzz in her brain disappeared and the Prince stepped back. The darkness in the room seemed lesser, but Lucy presumed this was due to how long she had been in there.
“They found you, and they brought you to us…” She murmured. “How interesting.” She looked at the woman with bony hands. “Ma’am, I’d suggest contacting Renée. Let her know l’énfant rénegat has surfaced after her brief disappearance. But tell her nous soyons déçus. The child is not as we expected.” She turned to face Lucy with disgust and disdain. “The daughter of a filthy savage is not what we were promised. Nous avons été trahis par la France!” She cried, wrathfully. The woman with bony hands nodded, but then responded.
“France will not like this. Be prepared for backlash should you make such a rash move, Eleanor. I will do so, but only as you are Prince. Do not expect me to do your dirty work for you in future.” She said, curtly. As she turned to move away, Eleanor grabbed her arm, gently.
“Please don’t leave yet, Madam Rose. We still have business to attend to.” She replied, gesturing to Lucy.
Lucy looked at the third woman, a bystander for all intents and purposes, and she looked down. She seemed to be here purely as an observer…but Lucy wondered what for.
Eleanor looked down at Lucy and grinned, wide and cruel. “There will be more, there are always more to come hunting, and they will return to find you. I can promise you this. And as for us?” She asked rhetorically, looking at her accomplices. “We will break you. And we will make you into what you should be; what kindred society needs you to be. We will make you truly strong, child, and find what you have lost.”
As Lucy went to retort, struggling against her bonds, she felt that fuzziness again, and try as she may she could not fight it. Her energy, her strength of will, and her determination were drained. Eleanor forced her way through her weak mental protestations and went straight back to the memory of the fight.
“Is this what you are?” The voice in her head asked. “A beast that maims and kills, no finesse or strategy, just blind panic and fear? You could be so much more than this, and yet you choose to side with your father and his ilk; beasts and monsters? A girl as bright and powerful and strong as you, could be so much more than a mindless animal. Let us find your finesse, child, build you into someone strong and powerful without the need of such crass, cruel tools. Let us help you; let us show you your misguidances and misjudgements. Let us show you how to wield true power and strength.”
It seemed to make sense, it seemed to be logical…she wanted to…join…
And then the fight started again.
And then it stopped. Suddenly, like the power being cut halfway through a movie. The heavy fuzziness once again lifted, and…the scene in front of her was crazy. People fighting and wolves and…
Helena stood behind her, and a robin perched on her shoulder.
She smiled, emotionally distraught and exhausted.
Her father was here, and had brought Helena too.
And in that single moment, she was certain of her safety.