Story by T.Charters copyright (C) 2017. firstname.lastname@example.org
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All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, Gods or Demons, living, dead or imaginary is purely coincidental.
Amanda nodded silently.
"You don't have to do this," Jane repeated once more. She was more than a little angry with her mother and father as well as Bob for even proposing it. She couldn't believe that he of all people would have even considered this.
"If not me, then who?" Amanda inquired. She turned and sort of half smiled. "He really does need to be stopped," she said. She didn't sound that convincing. She smiled again and tried to joke. "What's the worst thing that could happen?" she asked.
"You mean other than him escaping in the palace and killing everyone," Jane suggested, "or you having another breakdown then hiding beneath your pillow." She wasn't sure which would be worse.
Amanda briefly grinned. She chuckled sadly. "Remember that do you," she said.
Jane nodded. "How could I forget," she replied. She took hold of Amanda's hand and squeezed it tightly. "I'd only known you for the shortest time and even then I couldn't bear to lose you. You mean everything to me. I couldn't live without you. I wouldn't want to."
They hugged for a long moment.
In the end Amanda sat back. She became a bit more serious. "I'll make a pact with you," she said. "I promise that when all of this is over it'll just be you and me, no one else. But until then...," she said sadly.
"This is the new us," Jane completed.
Amanda nodded. "How hard can it be?" she said.
In the morning both Amanda and Jane woke to another knock on the door.
They groaned, rolled over and stared.
It was Saturday and Amanda had been hoping to sleep in far longer than this. She was exhausted. After a long moment she reluctantly threw back the covers then slowly sat up. She sighed and yawned. She felt like she hadn't slept at all. Her mind was still reeling from the events of the previous day.
"No," Jane moaned as she pulled Amanda back down on top of her. "Just ignore it," she said.
"Can we do that?" Amanda asked.
Jane grinned. "Why can't we?" she inquired. "I'm the Crown Princess and you're the Princess Consort. Surely we're allowed to have some time alone together."
Amanda smiled and rather comically cocked her head to one side. "What happened to this being the new us?" she asked a little more seriously, remembering the conversation from the previous evening.
Jane smirked. "I didn't mean in here," she said while rightly sounding completely selfish.
Amanda chuckled. She certainly wasn't going to argue.
Jane pulled the blankets back over the top of them then they cuddled together. They hugged and kissed then slowly feel asleep in each others arms.
When they woke for a second time there was a rhythmic tapping coming from the foot of the bed.
Both Amanda and Jane looked up and stared.
The Queen was standing at the foot of the bed idly tapping her foot on the floor. She didn't really look angry, rather she appeared mildly amused. "I have never before been ignored in such a way," she said her arms crossed. "It was a unique experience."
Amanda and Jane glanced at each other.
"Err um," Amanda said uncertainly, "glad to help?"
Pop sniggered then promptly laughed out loud. He was quietly sitting on a chair to one side of the room.
The Queen raised an eyebrow and glared at him. "About Damian," she began to explain.
Amanda immediately tensed up.
"NO!" Jane demanded. "Stop this! We don't need to know and we don't want to know. Not in here!" She squeezed Amanda's hand beneath the blankets. She'd felt Amanda instantly become more rigid at the merest mention of that monster's name. "We'll both be there when he is brought in," she said, "but until then we'd like to forget it."
The Queen nodded. "As you wish," she replied. She sounded rather impressed that Jane had been so forceful and in control.
There was another knock on the door. It slowly opened and Marc stepped into the room. He immediately stopped and stared. "Oh, I'm sorry," he stammered while both looking and sounding completely embarrassed. "I never expected your Highnesses to still be resting." He bowed respectfully then retreated toward the door.
Amanda chuckled and called to him. "Come in," she said, "join party." Thankfully both her and Jane were still wearing their pyjamas. Had they have been less tired and a little more frisky during the night that might not have been the case.
Marc frowned not understanding the meaning. He quickly stepped over then handed Amanda her phone. "There is a message," he explained.
Amanda glanced at the phone. She brought the message up onto the display. "It's from David," she revealed.
Pop quickly stood up then stepped closer. "Has he found anything?" he asked seriously.
Amanda nodded. "I think so," she whispered in reply. She stared. She really hadn't expected that David would find anything at all, instead he had sent her a list of company names with one that clearly stood out over all the others.
"How can you be sure?" the Queen asked.
"The name," Amanda replied as she looked up. She appeared more than a little upset.
Allegra had been anything but subtle. Anyone who knew anything about what had happened would recognise the name immediately. Like Amanda they would probably be horrified.
"What is it?" Pop inquired, frowning.
Amanda glanced over at Jane. She tenderly squeezed her hand. "Elandra's Tears," she replied.
The Queen immediately turned to Marc. "Go!" she commanded. "Clear it out, shut it down. Make sure there is nothing left to find."
By midday Marc had returned. During the morning Amanda had felt a little uncertain without him close by. She trusted the man he'd left in his place, but she had grown accustomed to Marc's presence and she always felt safer with him around.
"There was little left," he explained, as they all crowded into the Queen's study. "I'd say it was abandoned about the same time that the Crown Princess escaped."
The Queen nodded seriously. "So what now?" she asked.
"The Watch will keep an eye on the building and advise us if anyone returns," Marc replied.
"And the other matter?" Pop inquired rather gravely.
Marc glanced at Amanda. He looked truly sorry. "He has been collected," he advised, "and those he turned placed under the care of The Watch. They suggest that they should be able to find safe places for all of them."
"You mean Damian, don't you?" Jane inquired. She sounded annoyed and glared at her father before turning to Amanda. She felt like their feelings were being ignored. "Are you okay with that?" she asked.
Amanda nodded. "You?" she said. The discussion was as much about the both of them.
Jane shrugged. "Same," she replied. She didn't believe that anything was really going to change until Damian and Allegra were both gone for good.
Amanda turned to Marc. "When will he be here?" she asked sounding far more in control than she felt. She had wanted to ask Marc how he had and the others had coped with the sunlight but for the moment she let that question drop.
"Given his extreme reluctance to accompany us," Marc responded diplomatically, "and the possibly that he will most certainly try something during the journey, I would estimate several days at least. I would be unwilling to have him moved in a way which would endanger others."
Amanda nodded once more. "And tonight?" she asked, cheering up a little.
Pop frowned though the Queen seemed to know what Amanda was hinting at.
Jane glanced up and smiled.
"The Ambassador's residence is not that far from here," Marc explained, "I would suggest that we just walk."
"Through the streets?" Jane blurted out excitedly.
Amanda smiled herself. It seemed like it would be something of an adventure.
Marc nodded. "We will take extra security for the journey of course," he added reassuringly with a little of Jane's rather infectious excitement creeping into his own voice, "but you should both be prepared for some extra attention."
Amanda called to Romana who was waiting patiently in the throne room outside. "What time do we need to be there?" she asked.
"Ambassador Grent suggested about six p.m.," she related bowing to everyone as she stepped into the room. "It will only be a small gathering," she explained, "just close family and a few of Meshia's friends."
"Then I would suggest we leave about five," Marc advised.
"Why so early?" Jane asked.
Marc grinned. "I suspect that we shall probably be delayed on the way there," he replied. He obviously knew more than he was letting on.
Jane frowned. She clearly didn't completely understand.
The Queen smiled. "Enjoy yourselves tonight," she said sounding genuinely pleased and happy for them. "Give the Ambassador, his family and Meshia my best."
"You and Pop would be welcome to come as well," Amanda suggested.
Pop smiled and nodded graciously. "Tonight is for you young people," he replied while jokingly putting on some geriatric tone.
Amanda smirked. She didn't think Pop looked that old, though with vampires she knew it was almost impossible to be sure of anything. Of all of them only Amanda looked the age she really was. She was twenty-three but none of the others came close. Pop and the Queen were close to two-thousand, Jane about fifteen-hundred and Marc a little younger still. Even Romana was far older than she appeared. She had been taken and turned when just an infant as a playmate for a noble family's daughter. When the daughter had grown and moved away Romana have been given to the palace as payment to the crown. Her life had been relatively easy without much of the pain and hurt suffered by others like her. She had an insatiable curiosity and positive outlook which even Allegra's brutality had only briefly diminished. Just like Amanda she was not bound to a sire but thankfully she had no memory of her real family or life before.
"Is there anything else I'm needed for today?" Amanda asked as they stepped from the room.
Romana shook her head. "No Milady," she replied. "Your next appointment isn't until Monday morning with the staff."
"So no one needs to speak with me?" Amanda inquired. She sounded surprised.
Romana again shook her head. "Not at the present," she responded.
Amanda smiled. "Then you're free to go," she said happily. "Enjoy the rest of the weekend."
"Thank you Milady," Romana replied. "If you don't mind I'm going to go and help in the kitchen for a while."
"You don't have to," Amanda suggested.
"I know," Romana replied quite brightly, "but I like to help. They're my friends."
Amanda nodded. She could understand that. "Well, enjoy yourself," she said, "but do get at least a little rest."
"Do you think Amanda will ever forgive you?" Jessica asked. She sounded a little uncertain herself. She'd hoped that Amanda might have been there when she finally met her real sister for the first time. She didn't want to imagine what it might be like to never see Amanda again. In the past few weeks she'd seen Amanda far less than ever before.
Bob slowly nodded. "Eventually," he replied. "Amanda may not like it," he said rather seriously, "but even she would agree that this Damian needed to be stopped. The world will certainly be a better place without him."
"So you're saying that Allegra actually did something good?"
"In a round about sort of way, yes," Bob reluctantly agreed, "though that clearly wasn't her intention."
"Do you think we've seen the last of her?" Jessica asked.
Bob quickly shook his head. "No," he replied. "I just hope we're ready when she finally returns."
"You think it'll be that bad?"
"No!" Bob repeated. "It'll be worse!"
After Amanda and Jane had left the Queen dropped into her chair. She looked deeply frustrated and disappointed at the same moment.
Pop frowned at her. "What's the matter?" he asked sounding concerned.
The Queen slowly looked up. "The Council has demanded that Amanda present herself to them," she explained, "so that they can question her to determine her true motives, and decide whether she is fit to rule at Jane's side. They seem to think that a mixed-blood is not worthy."
Pop stared. "How dare they," he said angrily. "They have no right to demand such a thing."
"Apparently they've been led to believe that as an elevated human she can't be trusted. They claim her motives will always lie elsewhere."
"Allegra?" Pop suggested while shaking his head.
The Queen nodded unhappily.
"Are you going to refuse?" Pop asked.
"I'm not sure that I should," the Queen replied. She sounded torn, uncertain. "If Amanda can convince the Council that she is not to be feared then it will only weaken Allegra position even further."
"Have you told her?"
The Queen shook her head. "Tomorrow," she said. "I didn't want to worry her tonight. Tonight they can have some fun together." She seemed truly worried. "Do you believe Amanda could do it?" she asked. "Could she convince the Council?"
Pop quickly nodded. "Without a doubt," he replied.
In the evening Amanda and Jane left the palace to walk to the Ambassador's house for Meshia's birthday. Neither of them had ever walked on the streets outside the palace before but they realised immediately that it was going to be a very different experience. Marc had organised extra security as he'd promised. There were three guards walking in front and another three behind while Marc and another remained close at hand. Even before the main gates at the front of the palace were opened onlookers had begun to gather and wave excitedly.
Marc lent closer to Amanda and Jane. "Are you ready for this?" he asked.
Jane stared. She finally understood what Marc had been hinting at. She squared her shoulders. "Let's do it," she said.
For a time they stood and talked and greeted everyone they could. It was fun. Eventually Marc whispered in their ears and suggested they needed to start moving if they were ever going to make it to the Ambassador's place on time.
Amanda thought that Marc and the guards had done an incredible job of keeping everyone back without it seeming like they were being kept away. Without them she believed they would have been swamped and unable to move at all. She never once felt unsafe or uncomfortable or heard a single person say anything belittling or unkind. The whole experience did nothing to remind her of her time as a human. For the first time she was actually glad to no longer be part of that world.
The Ambassador's house was relatively close as Marc had previously advised. Unhindered it would have been a very quick walk indeed. Like the palace it was set a little back from the street with a tall iron fence surrounding it on all sides. At the gates Amanda and Jane waved to everyone then stepped inside.
They were excited and well aware that they themselves were both a surprise and gift from Grent to his daughter, but even so they'd also organised their own present as an extra treat.
Grent was waiting at the door. He'd clearly been watching as they'd slowly made their way from the palace. He was beaming with pride. "Your Highnesses," he said while bowing with his usual exaggerated flourish. "Welcome." He led them inside. "Meshia and her friends are in the next room," he advised, whispering a little, "none of them know you were coming so they're not expecting you at all."
Amanda smiled. "I assume there will be screaming?" she said jokingly.
Grent chuckled. "I'd be expecting it," he replied.
When he pushed open the door Meshia and her friends looked up and stared. For the briefest moment they just sat there as a stunned silence fell on the room.
Seconds later their screams were deafening.
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