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Shadowed by the Moon (Part 2)

Chapter 2

Father did not find out about my escape the night before. Not that I expected him to. He preferred not to think of me, because it brought him the chills. Most of the servants stayed away from me as well. Why is it that that man did not? No! I would not think of him. It would bring nothing but trouble, for the both of us.

I read most of the day, as I often did. My collection was only what I could get from the servants or pestering father, which I often regretted. He would look at me with cold eyes filled with fear, regret and rage. I often had nightmares of those eyes. Of when he would finally snap and have me killed. Would my mother even care? Probably not, I was not even worth the trouble to take care of herself, but instead to leave me with the loathsome man she seduced.

Slowly it grew dark, the full moon shone brightly again tonight. I looked out at the forest. Something in me compelled me to go. Before I was even conscience of making the decision I was already making my way down the wall. Why? This would surely end in tragedy. If I was going to die I might as well actually live for once in my life, a voice in my head retorted. I liked the thought, it was comforting. It made my will stronger as I set out through the forest. The trees positively glowed in the moonlight, but it really didn’t matter to me, I could see as well in the dark as I could in the light. Proof of the abomination I was.

As I came to the spot I had met him the night before, my feet slowed. What if it was a trap? And he as some other men would jump out from behind the trees and drag me off to be burned at the stake for witchcraft? But then I thought of his eyes, no, he would not do that. But neither was I sure he would be here. I didn’t tell him I would be coming at all.

Just when I had convinced myself this little adventure was a silly goose chase, a voice called out from behind me,
“I didn’t think you’d come.” I whirled around to see that same man standing in the shadows. He reminded me of a predator watching its prey. His face was hard, his amber eyes wary, and speculative. Why? I was just the same as I had been the night before. If I spoke, would his eyes soften again? No. I’m sure they would become cruel. He stepped closer, and closer still, until he was only a few steps away from me. My breathing was quiet but my heart raced.
His face suddenly lost its hardness, his gleaming yellow eyes held only awe in them. I stared back at him. Why was it that he was suddenly gentle again? Was it my proximity? I did not like that thought.
“And yet here you stand.” The corners of his mouth lifted into a small smile. My heart leapt at it. Why, was I acting so strangely? I had been near people before, the servants and such. Granted I had never been near someone my age, or at least close to my age for surely he was at least five years older than I, but that didn’t explain why I wanted him to stand even closer to me.
His lips pursed, oh they looked very soft, and he said, “And you still refuse to speak, Aster.” A thrill ran through me when he said my name. I had never heard anyone say it like that before. Well, no one ever said it, maybe that made me seem too human for their tastes. But he said it with such care, as if it was I who he cared for. And that same awe, as if he couldn’t believe what was standing right in front of him. I suddenly wished for him to say it again.
This strange high made me, giddy, and daring. “And your name?” my voice even sounded strange to me, I seldom used it, preferring silence. Again a tremor shook his frame, but his eyes never strayed from mine, they did grow curious as the awe intensified. Why was he shaking? His hands were curled into tight fists as if he resisted striking something. Normally that would frighten me, but his eyes looked so kind, as if he was looking at his lover asleep next to him. Where did that thought come from?
“My name,” he smile widened, it really was a lovely smile, “is Orrick.” Orrick, it was such a wonderful name, strong, like I’m sure he was. I wondered what it meant. I mouthed it a few times, not trusting that he wouldn’t hear it if I whispered. He took another step closer, if I was to put out my hand I could touch his face.
He seemed to be thinking the same thing, for he put his hand up, as if to stroke my face, despite the veil. No! Fear coursed through me. Surely if he touched me he would see what I truly was. I took a quick step back, his hand stayed in the air, puzzlement crossed his face and what I could only guess as annoyance.
“Still no touching your face? What about your hand, may I touch that?” He held out his own hand, palm up so I might place mine in his. He had large hands, they looked rough from labor and time outdoors. I clutched my gloved hand to my chest. I guess the question was did I trust him? Trust him not to run, or be frightened. I looked into his eyes, they were soft, hopeful, yet not demanding. He was allowing me to choose. Slowly, I placed my hand on his. I shook a bit but let out a held breath when he didn’t immediately run. He did flinch, I looked at him puzzled, and admittedly afraid.
“Sorry, it’s the wind.” He mumbled. He was lying. That much I could tell, but at the moment I didn’t care. He scowled at the glove that still encased my hand. “May I remove it?” he asked, his other hand starting to pull at the tip of one of the fingers. What would it be like to touch him? I shook my head vigorously and tried to snatch my hand away but his enclosed around mine.
“Alright” he soothed, his thumb gently stroking the top of mine. It felt lovely, even with the glove. But I was still too cowardly to let him really touch me. “Tell me, Aster,” would I ever get tired of hearing him say my name? “is there anything you will tell me?” I shook my head, his lips pursed, his thumb still stroking my hand, “Anything at all? Why you wear so much black? Or a veil? For I truly cannot believe you are unattractive enough to hide your face.” Unattractive? Was I unattractive? I certainly didn’t think I was beautiful. My skin was too white and my hair too fair, I was like some hideous phantom. Especially compared to him, with his warm brown hair, skin reflecting one who has spent much time outdoors and stunning yellow eyes. Mine are an eerie dark blue, reminiscent of the night sky, which left all who had seen them with chills.
But my veil was not meant to cover me because I might be seen as unattractive, but because I was meant to be nothing more than I shadow. But also because without being covered I make people uneasy. I was too foreign, unnatural.
I wanted to answer him though, maybe if I did he’d smile. I very much wanted to see that. “I hide who I am.” My voice was quiet, no need to be loud when that would surely tempt fate. I watched him carefully, but he did not convulse this time. His hand, the one not holding mine, shook with effort, though.
“Do you?” aw, that smile. I felt it warm every part of me. “And who are you?” I shook my head, no need for him to know I am unwanted. Would that make him sad? “Silence again?” he sighed. Suddenly he was gripping my hand harder, “How about a deal? If you answer one of my questions fully, and I promise not to ask about who you are again, then I will not try to touch your face anymore.”
Well, that would make it easier. And honestly I wanted to speak to him, I was simply afraid to. But if he wanted to hear my voice so badly then surely he can not think me too terrible. I nodded. A smile broke out on his lips, it was so delighted my breath caught in my throat. If he was that happy to hear I would answer his question then maybe my answer would not be so hard to give.
“Why will you not let me touch your skin?” he stared at me intently. Of course he would ask another difficult question. I shook my head, not that question. “No, we had a deal,” his face became harder, “And if you do not honor your word I will remove that veil this instant.” His voice was sharp and I flinched. He was threatening me? If I did not comply he’d threaten me. I started to shake. I did not want to see him as physically dangerous but if necessary I would.




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