2.10: Wanted, 1 Guardian

Posted: February 14, 2011 by MaskedGuardian in Mage: The Awakening, Perrin
Tags: ,

“I’m so sorry for your loss.”

The parade of strangers passed by her slowly.  She stood, uncomfortable in too-tight black patent shoes, itchy black woollen dress and tights, desperate to get away.  Her grandmother hadn’t let her wear black to her parent’s funeral.  She had said that the colour was inappropriate for children.  Children… she had protested that.  She was almost fourteen.  She wasn’t a child anymore.

Her grandmother wasn’t here to complain now.

She had found her in her bed on Tuesday morning.

Still.

Cold.

She shook her head to clear it of the images.  Blinking the tears from her eyes, she straightened up her shoulders and faced the next mourner in the line.  She was the last one of her family left.  She didn’t want to let them see her cry.  She just wasn’t certain if she could keep up the veneer of strength for much longer.

“I was so sorry to hear about what happened…”

The handsome man took her hand in both of his and pressed it firmly, looking straight into her eyes and smiling gently.  His hands were… warm… comforting. He met her reddened eyes without fear of the pain he would find within them and there was sympathy there, but no pity.  His gaze just made her feel… calm… as if she was with a great friend and had nothing to worry about.  She knew him – or at least it certainly felt like that.  Did she?  She tried to think.  Where had she met this man before?

He reminded her, she thought, of a man that James had introduced her to when he had first taken her to services.  What had his name been?  She was sure James had said but she couldn’t recall it now.  That man had been handsome too, as handsome as this man, but when she tried to remember his features it just evoked images of Cary Grant and Clark Gable and Bogart and all the other beautiful movie stars her grandmother had loved.

The handsome stranger… no, she knew him, she was certain… let go of her hand.  The pain came flooding back through her heart so suddenly she thought it might stop.  She gasped, a wall of emotion slamming through the calm that the stranger had evoked, so much, too much, so that she wanted to grasp his hand again.  He turned away just as her fingers flexed, her hand reaching out for nothing.  She winced.  This time she could not stop the hot tears from welling up in her eyes and spilling over.  She had to get away from this, all the spouted platitudes and pitying looks.  The handsome man was talking to the next lady in line, distracting her, and he blocked the path of the others there to offer their condolences.  He turned his head slightly and nodded at her – as if he both knew what she was planning and approved of it – in on the plan and even helping her with it.

She slipped off into the crowd, wandered, until she found herself sitting on the cold marble floor behind her grandmother’s coffin, hot forehead resting against the smooth polished wood.  As the sounds of the mourners in the church started to die down – after all, without the orphan there was nobody to pay respects to – the echo of her huge gulping sobs began to ring around the ornate building.  She tried to stifle them, stuffing her hand against her mouth desperately, but they were free now and pushing them back down was impossible.

When the familiar arm of James slipped around her shoulders, comforting, holding her against him, she could only sob more and cling to him.

“It’ll be okay, Bunny.  I promise.  I’ll be here for you as long as you need it,” he said finally as she managed to get some control of herself, “We can run away.  You and me.  I can take care of you.  I won’t let them take you.”

“Wh… wh… who?”

“The social services people.  They’re waiting for you.  But we can go out the side door now and they’ll never…”

“No.  No, James.  We can’t.  You… you’d better leave.  I have… to do this.”

He nodded and didn’t argue.  He knew her well enough by now to recognise the stubborn set to her jaw that indicated she wouldn’t easily change her mind.  Instead he stood silently, reaching out a hand to help her up before walking down the central aisle of the church and leaving her behind.  She smoothed out the wrinkles in her woollen dress and pulled a crumpled tissue from up her sleeve.  She gave her face a half-hearted wipe.

There were only three people left in the church.  They stood at the entranceway.  One woman, blonde hair pulled in to a neat ponytail, wearing a conservative navy-blue suit and a severe look on her face.  Her companion was a plain looking man with an equally unhappy look upon his face and they were both deep in hushed discussion with the handsome stranger.  She couldn’t hear what they were saying.  The woman looked angrier as the conversation continued, glancing at her from time to time.  But then she nodded, and smiled, and seemed to relax a little, the anger leeching from her face.  The handsome stranger produced a folder of papers and handed them over.  The woman didn’t even look at them but she shook the stranger’s hand before her and her companion left without another glance at the teenager in the aisle.  The handsome stranger waited as she walked down the aisle and came to a stop a few feet away from him.

“Who are you?”

“My name is Edgar Lifton.  I am your court appointed guardian.  I’m here to take you home.”

“You… you’re going to let me go home?”

He shook his head and for a moment she thought she saw the sympathy in his eyes flicker towards pity.  “No.  Your old home is… gone now.  I’m here to take you to your new home.”

“But… I… please…”

“It will be okay.  You’ll be happy there.  I promise.”

She believed him.

His promise was given with simple… honesty.

He took her hand again and he smiled and her heart felt… calm… again and for the first time all day she understood the… peace… in the silence of the church.

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Comments
  1. neilcamcork says:

    Oooh, that Malphas!

  2. devy says:

    And yet another family death. We seem to be on a roll here.

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