This fic is loosely based on Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series. While it is not necessary to have read that series, here is some background information that may be helpful while reading:
Daemon. In this universe, a human’s soul is manifested as a separate entity. That manifestation, the daemon, takes the form of an animal – either real or imaginary – that possesses both human intelligence and the power of speech. A daemon is most often the opposite gender of its human. Certain rules of etiquette surround touching another person’s daemon: the practice is almost strictly taboo; however, certain exceptions are made. One of those is between lovers, as the touching of one’s daemon makes the human vulnerable. Although a daemon can move independently of its human, they share a strong metaphysical bond. If the two separate more than a few yards, they experience a reaction called “pulling,” which can result in physical, mental, and emotional distress. This bond is so strong that one cannot survive without the other.
The Magisterium. This universe is governed by an institution known as the Magisterium. It is an oppressive organization that controls by guarding secrets. The Magisterium consists of smaller groups of councils and lesser courts.
Memories are a fickle thing. Some fade in time, only vague outlines remain after awhile. Then there are the ones that are ingrained within the mind forever.
Stiles will always remember the day his mother died.
At the age of eleven, Stiles couldn’t stay still. He had endless amounts of energy and rarely spent time inside no matter what the weather was like. That day stood out in his mind because it had been snowing. He remembered being bundled up tight, his mother kissing his nose as she pulled a warm knitted hat over his ears, pushing it back so that he would be able to see. She wrapped him up tight in a newly made scarf full of her favorite colors, maroon and gold. It was soft to the touch against his skin. Stiles watched her, with her sleeves rolled up to her elbows, as she tugged on his gloves. Her arms were covered in remarkable tattoos inked in red. The symbols snaked up her arms and crawled down her back. She called it her curse, rarely speaking about it to him. His father didn’t talk about it either, avoiding Stiles’ questions. Stiles liked them, he thought they were beautiful. He liked tracing them as she read bedtime stories that were full of past heroes and adventures. He reached a finger out, trailing it over her forearm.
“Don’t roam far, Stiles,” she scolded. “No woods today.”
“Alright,” Stiles said, fidgeting while she buttoned his warmest coat, lined with fur to keep him warm. Stiles watched his daemon, Adara, bounce around the room as a rabbit, just as eager as he was to get outside. Adara had yet to settle, which was not uncommon. Stiles hadn’t reached puberty so it was perfectly normal that one moment Adara would be a rabbit, then within the blink of an eye she would be a mouse small enough to fit in his coat pocket.
Adara hated to be carried, though. She would rather run up ahead of Stiles, then circle back around as she waited for him to catch up to her. She was impatient much like he was. She fed off of his nervous energy, expelling it by excitedly hopping around the room, waiting for Stiles to be ready to go out into the cold. His mother’s daemon, Kartal, a marmot, sat by her side, eyeing Adara as if she was annoying him. Stiles stuck his tongue out at Kartal as his mother retied his boots.
“Tongue in your mouth, Stiles,” she grinned, then shooed him out the door. It was one of the last things she had ever said to him.
Stiles had been making a snow castle at the edge of the woods when the men arrived. Adara was the first to notice them approaching.
“Stiles,” she keened, running around him, then circling up his leg as a ferret, clinging to him as she dug her way into the hood of his coat, her fur brushing against his neck. “Someone is approaching the house.”
Stiles, ever curious, forgot about his half-made castle and made his way back to the house. He was almost to the back door when he heard shouting. His father wasn’t home, he was out on patrol. Wide eyed, Stiles ran around to the front of the house to the vehicles the intruders had rode in on. Stiles pulled out his pocket knife, which he always had on him. His attention turned back towards the house as he heard a scream - Kartal’s. It sounded as if someone had grabbed him. Stiles winced, thinking about the pain of someone touching his daemon. Stiles shuddered, thinking about his mother, thinking about the men inside his house. Stiles stabbed a wheel of the truck, puncturing it.
He then scrambled, making his way to the back of the house, climbing the stones he knew so well up to his room. He always left the window unlatched so he could come and go as he pleased. He rolled onto the floor, gasping for air, listening.
“I’m not going anywhere with you,” his mother spat. There was a smack and a gasp. Stiles’ blood boiled. They had hit his mother.
“You couldn’t hide forever, Moira,” a man’s voice said, clearly unamused. Stiles tugged his gloves and hat off, along with the scarf. He needed to be able to move easier. Adara popped into a sparrow, flying around the room until she perched on the banister out in the hallway.
“I wasn’t hiding,” Moira panted, her voice carrying up the stairs. Stiles walked out slowly, his knife in his hand. “You’ll have to kill me before I’ll go with you. I will never be compliant.” His heart was beating in his throat, because he knew she was speaking the truth. His mother was going to die.
Stiles ran into his parent’s bedroom, pulling out the box underneath their bed where he knew that his dad kept his weapons. The box was locked, of course. The key in his mother’s jewelry box. Stiles stumbled, almost falling as he tripped on Adara. He glared at her, but didn’t say a word. If either of them so much as spoke they would be found. He knew how well noise carried in the house. He opened the box carefully, minding the noise it made as it squeaked open. A knife with a serrated edge caught his eye. He had used it a few times with his father after he came back from hunting.
Stiles took the knife in his hand, pocketing his smaller, insignificant one. There was a gun as well, but Stiles knew he couldn’t use it. Calmly, Stiles stood up, then walked down the stairs. They were in the kitchen, at the back of the house. Stiles was careful to skip over the two stairs that creaked if you stepped on them. With his back flat against the wall, he listened and waited.
“Knock her out, we don’t have time for this,” another man said impatiently. Stiles paid attention, trying to count how many men there were. One came into view with his back turned towards Stiles. He was huge, bigger than his father. Stiles gulped. The man’s daemon sat on his shoulder, a crow.
Stiles hated crows.
It turned his vile head towards him, squawking like the tattle tale it was. Stiles ran forward, slashing the man’s leg. The knife cut cleanly, blood spilling onto the hardwood floor. It set off a chain reaction. Gunfire and screaming filled his ears. Someone grabbed him around his middle, hoisting him into the air. Stiles flailed, kicking until he knocked the assailant square between the legs. His daemon, a vicious viper, snapped at Stiles, but his reflexes saved him by slicing its head off. The man wailed at the death of his daemon, being disconnected from his soul as it burst into dust, golden and bright. The man dropped to the ground, good as dead. Stiles turned towards his mother, screaming as he saw her on the ground, blood surrounding her. She was shot. Stiles slid to the ground, grabbing hold of her hands, slick with blood where she had pressed her palm to the wound.
“Stiles,” she whispered, breathless. “You can’t let them find you, to know about you.” Stiles knit his brow together, confused. Moira gasped for breath, wincing in pain. “One got away, he can’t know-”
“Mom,” Stiles wailed, tears falling freely down his frost bitten cheeks. “He won’t, he won’t go anywhere, but you can’t die.”
“Sweetheart,” she said as a hand reached up and touched his cheek. “You were so brave.”
Stiles closed his eyes, his hands on her arms. Her arm dropped, then, the spark inside of her going out. Stiles opened his eyes, darting over her body, shaking her. Beside her, Kartal faded away, as if he was only smoke.
“Mom,” he begged. “Mom, wake up.” She didn’t, though. Stiles knelt by her, shaking with anger.
And then he gasped. He felt warmth spreading through his body, tingling, followed by pain. Searing pain. Stiles screamed, his fists tightening around the fabric of his mother’s dress as he bent forward. He opened his eyes, his chest heaving from the feel of it. His mother’s tattoos were glowing. Stiles had never seen anything like it. He pushed himself off of his mother’s body, slipping on her blood as he tried to back away.
Dust. Gold dust trailed slowly from her body to his. Stiles panted, wiping at it as it touched his skin. It burned him. Stiles squirmed, swatting at it as best as he could, panicked. It hurt, it felt like he was touching fire, like he was rolling around in it. Stiles grit his teeth, tears of agony bursting from his eyes.
Stiles blacked out from the pain.
He woke up to Adara licking his cheek. She was a fox, her paws bloodied from sitting in the puddle of blood that surrounded them. Stiles’ eyes shot open, his body sore and irritated. His mother lay still, lifeless. Stiles was covered in her blood. Stiles shook as he tried to get up.
“Addie, that man-” Stiles began to say, when he heard footsteps. Stiles looked around for his father’s knife, a sharp twinge in his back making him squeak.
“She had an heir,” a man’s voice rang out. Stiles gulped as his fingers gripped tightly to the hilt. “Perfect.”
“Stay away from me,” Stiles growled.
“Are you the little shit who slashed my tire?” Stiles glared at him. The man’s eyes went from Stiles, to his mother, then back at Stiles again. “Has the transfer already happened?” He asked. Stiles’ jaw set tight as the man grinned at him. “You’re mine now.” The man reached for Stiles, gripping his hand that held the knife, squeezing it until it dropped to the ground. Stiles screamed as the man pushed him to the ground, shoving his coat out of the way. Stiles kicked and flailed his arms as he was stripped down. Stiles managed to get away, crawling across the ground.
His freedom was short lived, though, because the assailant grabbed his leg, pulling him back. Stiles dragged his nails across the man’s arm, breaking the skin. He was back handed and immediately curled into a ball, his own hands coming up to his face, cupping his cheek. The man ripped Stiles’ sweater and shirt with his father’s knife, then laughed triumphantly.
“Perfection,” the man exclaimed smugly. “A mere child as the Alethiometer.” Stiles’ entire body shook as he was picked up off of the bloodied floor. “You are mine, now.”
“You put my son down, now,” his father bellowed. Stiles burst into tears at the sound of his father’s voice. The man had Stiles by his stomach, his arms and legs draped towards the floor. His face stung, his back ached, and he was covered in his mother’s blood. His father had a gun aimed at the assailant.
“You cannot hide from the Magisterium,” the man said with a smirk. “We will stop at nothing-”
Stiles dropped to the floor as the man was shot dead with a bullet to the head. Stiles looked up to find his father shaking his head at the sight before his eyes.
The next thing he knew, Stiles was being wrapped up in a blanket, his father holding him close. Stiles wept, his bloodied hands wrapping around his father’s neck. It was then that he noticed his arms: they were covered in his mother’s tattoos. The symbols scrolled up his arms in intricate designs and patterns. Stiles looked at his mother’s body, seeing bare skin.
Stiles bit his lip, burying his face against his father’s chest. It seemed as though Stiles now held his mother’s curse.