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Before the Fire

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Lisa headed out towards the gardens.

The gardens were one of her favourite places in the castle, second only to the library and laboratories. The gardens were filled with night blooming plants, subtly scenting the air with a soft sweetness that always made her smile. She had been surprised when she first found the gardens, they had been an unexpected delight.

When she first ventured to the castle, she had an idea in her mind of what it would be like, dark mostly, oppressive, dangerous. She had been amazed at the light inside and had marvelled at the lamps that did not require a flame to bring light. She had been pleased that her suspicion of ‘secret knowledge’ had proven true but had not expected the library to be so well maintained and organised. But it was the gardens most of all that surprised her, they were beautiful, delicate and not something one would expect to come across in a castle known for striking terror into the hearts of men.

She walked slowly along the winding path, admiring the well-manicured plants, the half-hidden statues and letting the cool air clear her head. She dodged as a small flock of fairies swarmed through the garden, laughing with voices, not unlike tiny bells. She’d never been able to understand them, but she’d become very fond of them. Without their healing magic, she never would have survived her pregnancy, a human body could not contain a half vampire infant, not without taking a lethal amount of damage in the process. The fairies had stopped that damage from killing her and their son and her labour had been blissfully short thanks to them.

She waved as they circled around her before swarming off the path into the trees. One of them caught itself in her hair and she took a moment to untangle her before moving on.
She was heading towards the fountain in the centre of the gardens, it was one of the best places she had found where she could just think. She wasn’t sure if it was the cool air, the pleasant smell, or the sound of the water that did it, but whenever she had hit something of a mental block half an hour out here left her feeling revitalised and ready to try again.

She caught a glimpse of black ahead of her on the path, moving too quickly for her to be certain but she suspected her husband was joining her. He often appeared in places where she was, even when she hadn’t planned to be there, it was like he knew her mind before she did.

She had heard the stories about him when she was younger, everyone had. Stories telling of how cruel he was, how bloodthirsty and merciless. She had been frightened, everyone had, but then she had met him and things had been different from the stories. There were still days when she was surprised by just how different. She’d been most shocked by how funny he was, she certainly hadn’t expected funny when she came to the castle. But he made her laugh in a way that no one ever had before, his humour was childish from hiding her books on ridiculously high shelves to hiding in shadows to make her jump. His laugh was infectious, and she’d taken to exaggerating her responses to his humour to hear it more often.

She was almost to the fountain when she heard a scream, she recognised it instantly as her son and her blood ran cold. She was running before she realised and reached the fountain in moments. Her panic was misplaced however and vanished the moment she arrived to witness her husband holding her son by his ankles over the fountain.

“You’re going in,” Vlad said firmly. Adrian tried to speak but couldn’t seem to stop laughing to convince his father to let him go. Lisa watched as Adrian was lowered until his hair touched the water before being lifted up high again, only to be lowered once more.

“If you drop him,” she said over the raucous laughter of their son.

“I’m not going to drop him,” Vlad muttered without looking at her.

“You can deal with it when he gets a cold,” Lisa approached and sat on the fountain side.

“I won’t get a cold,” Adrian said reaching for his mother, still upside down.

“Nope,” Vlad said lowering him down to the water again, this time getting his hair wet. Adrian laughed again while renewing his struggles.

“What did he do to deserve a dunking?” Lisa asked. Her husband sighed and turned slightly showing her his back which was sopping wet. “I see.”

“I will have revenge,” Vlad said, his tone serious despite the smile on his face.

“His blood is going to be rushing to his head,” Lisa said.

“He’s fine, woman,” Vlad turned to face her. “He’s just going to be very wet in a minute.”

“Nooo!” Adrian howled, still laughing. His struggles increased to the point where he managed to free one of his ankles. His freed leg kicked wildly hitting his father’s other wrist causing him to drop the boy completely.

“Fantastic,” Lisa sighed as her now drenched son splashed his way around the fountain.

“Look how happy he is now,” Vlad sat next to her.

“I can see that,” Lisa said. “I swear I don’t know who the biggest child is you or him.”

“Well I’m obviously bigger,” Vlad smirked. Lisa opened her mouth to retort when small soaked arms appeared around her husband’s shoulders and pulled suddenly.

Vlad fell backwards.

The splash and cry of indignation were large and loud enough that Lisa suspected people in the neighbouring villages would have heard it. Her husband roared to his feet, absolutely drenched, hair plastered to his forehead.

“That’s it!” he bellowed, looking at Adrian. “I’d run if I were you, boy.” Adrian squealed with delighted laughter and proceeded to flee to the other side of the fountain, his father in hot pursuit.

“Yes, because I’m sure our three-foot son managed to overpower and pull you into the fountain,” Lisa stood ringing out her damp skirts. “I swear, two children not one.” She watched for a moment as the two roughhoused in the fountain, unable to stop her smile. “When you decide you’ve had enough of being wet let me know and we’ll have dinner.”

She headed back towards the library, leaving her husband and son to their game.

End Chapter One

Authoress Note: Thank you for reading, please review, I’d love to hear what you think of the chapter.
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