The final episode of 1841 and a direct continuation of yesterday’s episode: The Cover of Darkness
Charlotte and Bran have a frank talk about damsels and danger.
London – 1841
I slid the manor’s sash window up and climbed inside. My foot crunched a fragment of charred bone on the leaf green carpet, vampires had a tendency to go to pieces when they died. Bran was standing in the middle of the chaos of tipped and broken furniture. His fangs extended and he was breathing heavily, his fury was a palpable pressure in the air.
I climbed over a toppled table grabbed his face and kissed him deeply. He lifted me and found an upright piece of furniture to perch me on, I wasn’t going to complain there a foot height difference. His fang nicked my lip and drew blood.
He broke away and touched his forehead to mine. ‘You’re not angry?’
‘Bloody furious but relief you’re alright wins.’ I caressed his face and blood and ash clumped on my fingers.
‘I shouldn’t have lied to you but I couldn’t leave them to hurt more people,’ he said, lisping slightly. ‘You were right. Some people don’t stop unless somebody stops them.’
My hands slid over his chest, leaving a trail of blood across his waistcoat. ‘On this occasion I’ll let you off with a stiff warning, only because I hadn’t arrived at a solution that didn’t involve pain and probable death.’ I touched my thumb to one of his fangs. ‘As you’re already dragging yourself over hot coals, we’ll deem it punishment enough for a first infraction.’
‘You could’ve thought of something, if it’d let you,’ he murmured.
‘Other than returning another day better prepared, I had nothing. It would’ve been pain and probable death for someone else.’ I sighted. ‘A moral quandary to be sure.’
‘I still should’ve told you.’
‘You slayed the monster and saved the town,’ I said. ‘I’m proud of you, through my cloud of “you could’ve got yourself killed” annoyance.’ Saying things like that must’ve been how Bran felt most of the time, I had a tendency to go looking for ‘you could’ve been killed’ trouble.
He ran his fingers though my hair, no doubt leaving a trail of gunk. ‘I couldn’t leave them killing people. I needed to stop them.’
I wondered if he was talking to me or himself. He didn’t have to explain permanently stopping murderers to me. I’d clocked up a few as a vigilante but Bran had a far more developed sense of guilt then I did.
‘I couldn’t leave them here when I could stop them,’ he said.
I grinned and kissed him again. He broke away and frowned at me.
‘Do I need to point out that you just said you knew you could stop them? You wouldn’t have said that a few years ago.’
‘You know what I mean,’ he said.
I smiled but said nothing, it wasn’t me who didn’t know what he meant. I’d been telling him for years he was stronger than he thought.
‘What are you smiling at now?’ he asked.
‘The man I love.’ I traced his lips with one filthy thumb. ‘Though, naturally, I will have to pummel your balls if you ever pull that trick again. I’m not a damsel that needs protecting.’
He kissed me and I wrapped my arms around him. He really needed to initiate kisses more often, but saving the day was a start, I supposed.
‘No,’ he whispered. ‘Never a damsel.’
‘Teams plan, together.’ I said. ‘Though when I say “together” I do mean mostly me.’
He chuckled. ‘This really isn’t the time to find that funny.’
‘That will be your brain processing that it’s still alive. Bit like being drunk. You’ll get used to it.’ I unlaced myself from him, hoped down off the sideboard and righted the nearest chair.
Most of the furniture was still in one piece and the bits that hadn’t faired so well wouldn’t look out of place amongst the kindling. As for the ash on the carpets I didn’t know what to do about that. I’d never killed a vampire on carpet before.
‘Charlotte…’ he said and set a heavy table back on its feet with no effort.
‘I didn’t think I could win. I just knew I couldn’t let them hurt you.’
‘We can work on that,’ I replied and paused to flick blood and ash off my hands. ‘We’re going to have fun, chuckaboo.’
‘The idea of “fun” sounds ominous,’ he replied.
‘Oh, it is.’
Off to 1842…