Chapter Nine

The snow had fallen while she slept. As she stood at the entrance of the cave, she looked out at a winter wonderland. Every surface was covered in glistening white. It was beautiful, peaceful. It made her forget about the outside world, here she was one with nature.

She was just about to head back in to the cave when she noticed a figure slowly plodding through the snow in her direction. She stood there for a long moment just watching as the figure grew larger, the closer they got.

She was still standing there when he stopped right before her. She said nothing but looked up in to his golden eyes while he stared back down at her.

“Did you find your peace?” He asked, his voice calm and steady, and so very familiar. Tears began to gather in her eyes as she shook her head.

“It’s too cold to be out here,” He continued on as he looked around at all the snow. “At least when you used to come here before, you were prepared. This time you came with nothing.”

Mia’s heart broke hearing his words. She had hoped, hoped that he would have been spared the awakening. But she should have known better. Emily would have ensured that his memories would have awoken as well. After all, she wasn’t after Nick. She wanted Kai.

“Come home with me,” He said as he held his hand out to her. She stared down at his palm before looking back up at him and shaking her head.

“I can’t,” She said as she took a step back away from him.

“Mia,” He said, his eyes never once leaving hers, “Please come home. “

“I can’t. I can’t go back there, I can’t be the woman you remember.”

“I’m not asking you to be,” He said as he took a step towards her, reaching out to her but stopped when he saw her cringing from his touch. He let his hand fall to his side with a long sigh, “Mia, neither of us are the people we used to be. This life has shaped us too much to be the same as we once were.”

“It’s not this life,” Mia said softly as she turned to look at the ground at her feet.

“Mia, I know you, I know who you are, I know what type of person you are, nothing you have done, could ever make me change my mind about you.” He said earnestly, yet he didn’t move any closer to her, instead he held his ground although it was obvious it took a lot for him to do so. His two hands at his sides were clenched in fists, yet he didn’t move any closer to her, and for that, she was grateful.

“That’s not why I can’t go back,” She told him, still refusing to meet his gaze, “It’s not about who I was, it’s about who I could be.”

“You’re still stuck in your father’s shadow,” He said, she could hear the frown in his voice.

“I’m not stuck,” She argued, “I’m just realistic. I massacred my own Clan, Nick, every one of them. I lost myself and when I came back, I was covered in blood holding a beating heart in my hand. I did that to the people I chose as my own. I did that to the people I promised to protect. They were mines and I killed them all.”

“Mia,” Nick said shaking his head, “You aren’t to blame for that. You did what you had to do. They came after us. They killed all the villagers, not even sparing the children, to gain enough power to kill us both. If you hadn’t killed them, they would have killed you. They didn’t come to ask you to come back, they came to kill the both of us to ensure their reign. They knew you would stop them. You owe them no loyalty because they gave you none.”

“It was my fault. I didn’t teach them right. I didn’t teach them to respect life. I taught them to take and keep taking. I taught them that nothing else mattered by their supremacy. I made them the way they were,” She practically screamed, her voice echoing through the cave.

“You were not the only one to make that mistake. Look at the five clans. All of you only taught what you knew. How could you expect to teach them something you yourself didn’t understand. I knew who you were, I knew what you were when we first met, but that didn’t change how I felt about you. Not then, and not now.”

“But it changes how I feel about myself. I’m not safe to be around. Look at what I did to my own clan, who’s to say that I won’t do that to Sarah or Ronan. They have no protection from me, no way to stop me. I could lose myself and this time when I come to I’ll be holding Sarah’s heart.”

“I know you Mia Dragos, I know everything about you and when I say that you have nothing to fear I’m telling you the truth. In all of your many years, this is the first time you have made any real connection with somebody. This is the first time you have trusted enough to make friends, true friends. I have always known that I am safe with you and Sarah and Ronan know the same.”

“But you’re not,” Mia said, finally looking him in the eye. “You have no idea what it was like when my father walked the earth. You heard about him, but you never met him. By the time you were born, he was already a memory. You have no idea the strength of his power. They use to say he was a god, and the truth was, he was probably as close as any human will ever get. The things he could do, the things he was capable of, they were beyond imagine.”

“When I was young, I once saw my father raise someone from the dead. The person hadn’t just died, they had been dead for a couple of days before they brought him to my father. He had been a village leader, a good man, a strong man who was much loved. But he had been killed when he had been trying to protect his village from marauders. He’s life had been the only one lost. He’s people knew they would be doomed without, so they came to my father.”

“My father took one look at the man and judged him worthy. He simply lay his hands over the man’s head and told him to live. I had seen my father do many amazing things, but I had never seen him do something so powerful before. I watch in awe as the man’s eyes opened as he sat up as if he hadn’t been wounded at all.”

“I had been so surprised that I didn’t notice at first that the four men who had brought him had fallen to the ground, their eyes empty, their bodies still. They had paid with their lives for the leader to be resurrected. I had been horrified when I realized they were dead. But my father just stood there and told the man kindly that they should return to his village, they were awaiting his arrival.”

“The man saw the dead bodies and he cried. I watched as he just sat there crying. I felt sorry for him, I felt his pain but my father just stood there watching him. After a while, he turned away and led me away. He explain that there was a price for magic, the stronger the magic, the greater the price. That was the first time I truly understood that magic was not the answer all for everything. There was a dark side to magic and there was always a price that needed to be paid.”

“When my mother died, my father went mad. Here was a man powerful enough to bring a man back from the dead and he could do nothing to save his wife. Nothing he did, nothing he tried was enough to bring my mother back. We watched as the madness claimed him. We watched as all sanity left him and all that was left was the desire for revenge against the people who had taken the one thing from him that had mattered the most.”

“My sisters and I didn’t understand what was going on at first. Our father was a kind man, a good man. He had never once lifted a hand against another person because he knew just how great his powers were and what he could do with them. So we didn’t understand when he stood up, leaving our mother’s body on the cold floor and headed out the floor.”

“We didn’t understand until we heard the screams. We ran out to watch as our father tore through the men who had come to attack us. He literally ripped their bodies apart. Even when all of them were gone, his desire for revenge was still not appeased. Instead he turned to the path that led down the mountains and towards the village the men had come from.”

“We still couldn’t believe what he had done. We could only stare at the bloody mess splattered across the front yard of the castle we lived in. When we saw the fires and heard the screams, we realized then, where he had gone and what he had gone to do. We rushed down to the village as fast as we could. These people had never done anything to desire this. It was only the group of men that had come to harm us. These people were afraid of us because they didn’t know us, they saw what we could do and they were afraid. But not all of them were bad. Some of them believed in us, some of them were kind to us, some of them we called friends. But in his madness, our father remembered none of this. He tore through the village killing every man, women and child who crossed his path.”

“My sisters and I foolishly thought as you did. That our father couldn’t possibly hurt us, we were his daughters, his own flesh and blood, born from his beloved wife. But in his madness, we were no different from anyone else. I watched as his killed my sister, his youngest daughter as she tried to plead with him to stop, that the people didn’t deserve it. She was still pleading with him when he burst her heart. She fell the ground dead, her empty eyes staring straight ahead. She had been alive just a moment ago and now she was dead.”

“We tried to stop him, together this time. We saw what he had done to our sister and we knew now that he didn’t see any of us. We tried to shield the villagers, we told them to run, we tried to hold him off. But it was hopeless. It was like trying to stop of force of nature. I remembered the last thing I saw before everything went dark, it was the look in his eyes as he took my life. There was nothing there, no love, no hate, just complete and utter madness. He saw nothing around him, we were nothing to him.”

“So you see, it won’t matter who you are, if I were to lose myself like my father, then I will kill you all,” Mia said as she took another step back from him.

“I don’t believe that,” he argued as he took a step towards her. She took a step back, retreating in to the cave. With each step she took back he took one forward. This time he wasn’t letting her escape. This time he wouldn’t let her get away. He reached out, his movement as quick as his lightning as his hand wrapped around her wrist. “I don’t believe that for a second. You are not your father. You have never been like your father. Even in your madness, even when your powers have consumed you, you are always aware of those you love.”

“You don’t know that. You can’t say that. I could kill you all,” she argued, shaking her head and struggling to free her wrist from his grasp. But he held on to. With on quick yank, she tumbled in to his chest and quickly his arms wrapped around her.

“I know you, I have always known you. I recognized you for what you were that first day I saw you standing beneath the tree, hidden in the shadows as I was brought before your sister. I saw you and I knew that you were meant for me and me alone. You were the other half of my soul, the other half of me. And I saw you realize it as well,” He told her, pressing his forehead against her own.

“Even reborn with no memories of my past, when I saw you that night in the forest I knew I would be safe with you. That no matter what happened, you would keep my safe. I gave you my blood because I believed in you,” His said, his voice soft and steady, “I know you Mia, in this life or the next, I will always know you. You are not your father and you will never be. You have the one thing he doesn’t, you have people who love you and who will do anything to keep you from turning in to the monster you think you are.”

“It’s not that easy,” Mia said.

“It’s never that easy. I know that. But don’t you understand? It doesn’t matter to me. It has never mattered to me. All that matters to me is you, it’s all that’s ever mattered since the first moment I saw you. I don’t care what you say or what you do, my place is by your side. So if you choose to be your stubborn self and hide out here in the cold drafty cave, then I will stay with. It won’t be as comfortable as the house we left behind, but it doesn’t matter to me, as long as your there with me,” He told her, as he cradled her face between his hands as he forced her to look in his eyes.

“Argue you all you want, but you know me as well as I know you and you know that I am just as stubborn as you are. So know this now, no matter where you go, no matter where you try to hide, I will find you and I will follow you everywhere you go,” He told her before bringing his lips down against her own in a fierce kiss that took possession of her lips. She was so surprised at first that she did nothing but stand frozen in his grasp.

But if it was one thing that Kai knew how to do, it was to stir her heart. She tried to resist him. She tried to break away, but he held her tightly and he kissed her as if this was their last kiss. She tried not to respond, not to give in. But this was Kai. He knew her better than anyone and he knew just how to make her react.

He bit down on her bottom lip hard enough to draw blood, surprising her, so much so that she forgot for a moment what she was trying to do. She tasted the blood on her lips and she felt the buzz of power shimmer throughout her veins. She felt her magic respond as the air around them suddenly became charged and sparks of light to life around them.

Ada hadn’t been wrong when she said sex with a blood magic male was intense and explosive. But it had always been that way with Kai as well. He knew what she was and he accepted every part of her. He knew what turned her on and what drove her higher. He knew that a little blood shed could awaken the euphoria that always came with blood magic. And he knew it was enough to cloud her mind that she would stop resisting.

She cursed him silent as slowly the original euphoria began to fade slightly to find herself curled around Nick, one arm wrapped tightly around his neck, the other wrapped around his waist, holding him tightly to her. Their lips danced with another, one advancing while the other retreated. When she was in his arms, she could forget everything else and he knew it. He had used it against her multiple times but she had never gotten mad at him for it because it always brought her back to herself, back to him when she had been drifting towards the darkness. It had always reminded her just where she belonged, in his arms.

“This doesn’t change a thing,” She breathed against his lips, before taking them once again in a deep kiss.

“It’s not meant to,” He said breathlessly, as he pulled back enough so that he could look down at her. He ran his thumb against her bottom lip where the bite had already healed, “I’ve waited forever to find you again. It’s enough for now just to hold you, to touch you and to kiss you. We can deal with the rest later. For now, I just want you in my arms.”

She stared up at him a long moment, her dark gray eyes meeting his golden ones. In that moment, she wanted to remember the pain of her heart breaking, she wanted to remember the absolute despair of losing him, but she couldn’t. Not when he held her like this. Not when her lips were raw from his thorough kissing. Not when she could feel his heart beating against her chest. He was alive, he was here with her, and he felt for her the exact same way she felt for him.

“This life, or the next life, it doesn’t matter. I will always be by your side,” He promised before brushing a gentle kiss against her lips.

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” Mia said softly as she rested her head against his chest and closed her eyes. She listened to the steady sound of his heart beat. Alive, she told herself, he was alive. He was here with her and he was alive. She lost him once, but she swore she wouldn’t lose him again.

Even if he ended up hating her, even if he cursed her until her very last breath, she didn’t care. She would protect him, she would willing sacrifice a thousand lives to save his. She would cross that boundary in to soul magic and she would sacrifice a soul to protect him.

Her father would come, of that there was no doubt, and she would do everything in her power to ensure that he was protected. Even if she became the evil monster her sister had become before her, she would do it. Not for the world, not even for her friends, but for Nick and Nick alone. He was her world. He was her everything. If it meant descending in to the darkness to save him, she would gladly walk down that dark and thorny path. To ensure that he survived this battle, she would risk even his love, just as long as he survived. That was all that mattered to her.

Wrapping her arms tightly around his waist, she held on as tightly as she could. She would protect him. She would let no one hurt him. If it meant sacrificing her own soul, she would gladly give it. For without him, she was nothing.

She decided then and there, she would become the woman she needed to be to protect him and to protect the ones he loved. She would protect this world that he lived in. She would find a way to destroy her father before he awoke. She would ensure that he never walked this earth again. She would protect the man she loved this time. She would not fail again.

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