For the 27th day of my writing challenge, Natasha gave me the topic of patience. Patience is something I personally have always struggled with, and I think Emmeline agrees with me!
(If you are joining Emmeline’s story today, welcome! It might help for you to begin here.)
Patience is not one of my virtues. J R Manawa.
Big Ben rung midnight as Emmeline and Charon found themselves back above ground, still covered in blood. Emmeline had tried to wipe it off, but it was absolutely everywhere.
“Tell me again why you can’t use magic to clean it off?” she asked, as they stumbled out onto Westminster road. She turned to look at him and was surprised to see how drained of colour he appeared once they were out under the street light.
His face was sober, “I told you no. It doesn’t work like that. Manipulating appearance and changing things is possible, but un-making something, even something as simple as a bit of blood, just isn’t possible.” He fell silent for a moment. “If he had even touched you, Emmeline, if he had merely brushed against your flesh, you would not have made it out,” The statement burst out of his mouth before he could stop it.
“Hey, it’s okay,” Emmeline put a hand on his shoulder.
“You don’t realise how close you were to death,” he said.
“Well, it didn’t happen. Not yet.”
He nodded, though the expression on his face said a thousand words.
“Would you honestly be upset if I didn’t make it?” she asked suddenly.
“My father died to keep you alive,” he said.
She shook her head. “That was not what I was asking,” she said, but didn’t press him any more. She wasn’t even absolutely sure why she had asked in the first place, nor why she expected him to feel any kind of emotion toward her.
As they walked up the road to Westminster Bridge, Emmeline considered new question. “How could you bring something like that through the gate?” she asked him. “Could you imagine if it had gotten free?”
Charon nodded soberly, “I’ve seen it happen, twice in the history of your world, but we should not talk of it. There are legends and fairy tales which keep the story alive well enough,”
“But why?” Emmeline repeated.
Charon shrugged helplessly, “I’ve been motivated by so many different events at different times in my life. Most of the reasons I was motivated to do certain things in the past are no longer relevant, nor are they things I would wish to speak of.”
Emmeline had to leave it at that.
They were halfway across Westminster bridge, caught between the illuminated face of Big Ben, and the multi-colour wheel of the London eye, when a black cab pulled up beside them.
“I’d recognise your hair anywhere, miss,” said the driver as he wound down the window.
Emmeline smiled, despite how she felt. She gave the driver her address. “I don’t care what you think, Charon, right now I just want to go home.”
It wasn’t until they had driven up past parliament square that Charon decided to speak. “I care about you Emmeline,” he said.
Emmeline didn’t know what to say. She turned to look at him, hesitated to speak, and then looked away again.
“When I thought the eater had you–” he began, and then stopped.
“I don’t want to die, Charon,” she said, still looking straight ahead, watching the lights of Victoria station as they passed by. She was angry with herself that she could feel tears welling up hot in her eyes.
“I believe we can beat him, but we have to be patient. We have to be patient and wait for the right moment. I believe if we can choose that moment instead of waiting for him, then we may have a chance.”
Emmeline still wasn’t looking at him, she wasn’t in the mood for talking tactics. He reached out to touch her hand and get her attention, but she pulled away and crossed her arms. “Patience is not one of my virtues.”
They fell back to silence after that, all the way past Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch, and along to Lancaster gate where the cab turned off. As they got close, she asked the cab driver to go straight by the house and on up to the end of the road to let them off instead. The lights were off and it did not look like anyone was there, so Emmeline and Charon walked back down the road, and Emmeline let them in with the key her grandfather had kept buried under the third pot plant on the right in case of emergencies. Inside, the entrance way and the hall to the living room was lined with rubbish bags. It appeared that Poppy, Thomas and Gulliver had finished cleaning up before they’d called the police. The pieces of broken furniture and destroyed items that were too large for the rubbish bags had been laid against the wall in the living room. On the kitchen bench a note had been left.
Emmeline, please just let us know you are okay.
It was written in Poppy’s oversized scrawl. Emmeline finally broke down into tears as she read it.
“The less they know, and the less they believe, the safer they are,” Charon said after she had wiped her eyes, and more of the blood, off her face.
She nodded. He was right, and she knew it. She put the note down and headed for the stairs, “You can use the shower after me,” she told him.