Lot experiences something new.
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London – 1844
I had no idea how people with non-magical memories coped.
There I was on my knees with the murderer’s hand around my throat, in front of me the skyline I’d lived amongst since I arrived in London was hazy shapes. Behind me was darkness. I could trace the memory right back to the murderer approaching me from behind but I couldn’t see their face, only the vague shape of them, as if they were sucking up my magic as soon as they entered the circle of my perception.
I ran the image back and forth and it flickered, sometimes disappearing then reappearing for seconds. The silhouette was taller than me, possibly hooded, or perhaps it was the shape of loose hair, at a distance there was an outline of legs striding but it told me nothing. I stepped close to them, it made no improvement, beneath their hood was darkness.
Their hand around my neck was a hand-shaped void, as if my brain knew a hand should be there and what shape it should be but that was all. I’d never known the like.
It was logical I couldn’t remember, my enhanced memory was powered by magic and the murderer had drained my power. It didn’t make it less annoying, I was going to have to do actual detecting to figure out who’d attacked me.
‘Found Muma,’ Edward shouted, his voice echoed as if he was at the end of a tunnel.
A weight hit me in the chest. I jerked from my memory library, my stomach lurched at going from vertical to horizontal. Edward was lying on my chest giving me a bear hug.
Mary marched in. ‘You can’t find Mummy. Mummy wasn’t playing.’
‘Found you,’ Edward said, snuggling into my chest.
I gave him a hug. ‘Yes, you did.’ Having been yanked out of my library my brain was having trouble catching up.
‘Didn’t,’ Mary said and climbed onto the bed. ‘Mummy wasn’t hiding.’
I wondered how Edward had got onto the bed, I’d thought it was too high for him.
‘Muma not with Papa. Muma not with Dada,’ Edward said. ‘Muma hiding.’
‘S’not how it works.’ Mary started bouncing, making the bed creak. ‘Mummy isn’t always with them, they’re with her ‘cause she’s the boss of them,’ she said as if this was obvious to anyone. ‘And Mummy wasn’t playing. Tell him, Mummy. He keeps finding everyone and they’re not hiding.’
I chuckled. ‘Maybe you should do the finding and show him how it’s done.’
‘Boys are silly.’ She landed sitting on the bed. ‘Babby is lucky he’s cuddly.’
Edward’s knee digging into my ribcage and his wooden wolf in my neck disputed his cuddliness.
‘Are you going to let me up?’ I asked.
‘No,’ he said. ‘Should cuddle Woolly when you nap.’
I side-eyed the tangle on wool perched on the bedside cabinet staring at me.
‘Mummy wasn’t napping, she was doing her memory magic,’ Mary declared. ‘And Mummy doesn’t need to cuddle a toy, she cuddles Pappy. They do growed-up cuddles.’
I stared at her.
‘What’s “growed-up cuddles”?’ Edward asked.
‘S’where Mummy snuggles Pappy’s back and you have to jump on them to get between.’
I sighed. I could’ve pointed out she would’ve found a reason to jump on us if we were on opposite sides of the bed but my brain hadn’t caught up enough for that rabbit hole.
Edward giggled. ‘I liked jumping.’
I sat up, still holding him, and got off the bed before he could demonstrate his jumping.
‘Me too,’ Mary shouted and jumped on my back. Had I been human she would’ve knocked me on my face.
I ended up carrying them downstairs with Mary wrapped around my back and Edward in one of my arms, trying to make Rawr eat me.
Bran was in the library helping Merry pin a picture to a bookcase. At the rate the children were drawing pictures it was going to get difficult to take books off the shelves. Merry was quite the budding artist, her colour choices might sometimes be unexpected but you could always tell what the picture was. The one they were sticking up was of Millie reading a book.
‘Pretty picture,’ Mary said and I crouched down so she could get off my back. ‘Draw me, Merry.’
Bran set Merry down and the two of them hurried to the reading table where her drawing things were laid out.
‘Any luck?’ Bran asked.
I shook my head.
‘I had luck, Papa,’ Edward said, brandishing Rawr at Bran. ‘Found Muma, she’s not good at hiding.’
‘I’ll have to improve,’ I said. ‘Or maybe you’re just very good at finding people.’
He thought about this, sucking Rawr’s nose as he did. ‘I am. I found Papa too and Miss Ronni.’
‘That’s amazing,’ I said.
He peeked over my shoulder and stuck his tongue out at Mary but she was too busy deciding on an appropriate portrait pose to notice.
Bran passed me a letter with the seal already broken, it was addressed to him summoning me before the new Coven Master, Tomas. I screwed it up. Despite not being a Coven vampire I still had to obey the summons but if they thought addressing it to my husband was acceptable they’d be surprised.
‘Not unexpected,’ I said.
‘Muma ‘spect me to be ‘mazing,’ Edward said and squeezed my neck.
‘Because you are,’ I kissed his cheek. ‘Are you going to draw us a picture of Mary too?’
‘Yes,’ he announced.
I put him down. He scrambled up onto the chair beside Merry and she gave him a piece of paper and a pencil, not her best ones as he kept chewing them.
‘What’re you going to do?’ Bran asked quietly in Irish, still standing as if he was admiring Merry’s picture.
‘I’m going to go see what he wants,’ I replied in the same. ‘The letter says at my convenience. I don’t find it convenient. I’m not going to hop to just because he’s got a penis.’
Bran made a vague sound and chewed his thumb. ‘I’m surprised we haven’t heard anything from The Council.’
‘I knocked the fella down but I didn’t violate any rules.’ I turned to face him. ‘Read the rule book, Bran. There’s so few female vampires there’s no rules governing us.’
He raised his eyebrows.
‘Every rule specifies a man.’
He opened his mouth then thought for a moment. ‘They can’t use man as a collective because man means human and we’re not human.’ The furrows on his forehead deepened in his surprise. ‘I never thought of that.’
‘Fairly sure no-one else did either,’ I said and tapped the end of his nose.
He grinned. ‘You are devious.’
‘They have no idea.’ I kissed him softly.
‘Stop kissing, it’s disgusting,’ Mary shouted. ‘You made my pose go wrong. Got to start again.’
Bran pressed his lips together to smother a laugh.
‘Yes, Mary,’ I replied.
Read more episodes of Nine Shillings or read Lot’s first adventure Victorian Mistress on the Weekly Serial page.