She Dies at the End (November Snow #1) (46 page)

BOOK: She Dies at the End (November Snow #1)
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The erstwhile king returned to the basement.  When his children reported that they had gotten everything they could out of the assassin, Ilyn said, “You’re lucky we are the ones who found you.  Luka would not have been this generous.”  And without another word or hint of hesitation, Ilyn staked the hired killer and turned to leave without so much as a backward glance.  “See if Neil has a shopvac for the ash, will you?  I’d hate to leave him a mess,” he said absently as he climbed the stairs.  Forster’s remains slowly settled to the floor.

It was awfully quiet in the garden as William dug the grave.  His movements were sure and rhythmic, with the ease born of repeated practice.  Greg came out to pay his respects before going hunting for November’s first meal.  He was glad to have an excuse to miss the burial.  Even though he knew she’d be rising soon, it would have been painful to see her disappear beneath the dirt.  Even after a few centuries as a vampire, Greg had not grown comfortable with the death of innocents.  He silently promised November that he would help her adjust to her new life.  His own first years had been difficult.

Neither did Hazel stay to see the psychic put to ground.  She could not bear the look on Ilyn’s face, so she accompanied Greg on the hunt.  

Zinnia cried quietly.  As vampires and fairies left no bodies, she had never been to a burial.  Fairies had a memorial ceremony, but in all the craziness, there hadn’t yet been time to mourn her mother.  So she wept for Amandier as well as for November.  

Once she came outside, Savita simply sat, silent and exhausted and sad.  

Ilyn sat by November with his eyes closed, keeping his thoughts to himself, looking like a statue, too wrung out to even bother keeping up the pretence of breathing.  It had been a long time since he had buried someone he cared about.  William, it had been.  That poor young man had been bloody, too, cut to pieces in a pointless battle over a worthless patch of dirt.  Savita, though, she had been whole.  Some plague or other had been draining her life when he drained her blood and replaced it with his own.  

He thought of his human wife and child, dead for so many centuries.  As long as it had been, he could still remember the taste of his tears and the smoke as he put them on the pyre.  He had tried to throw himself into the flames; relatives had struggled to pull him away as he screamed for his family.  The widower had been 19 years old then, when his hair had started coming in gray.

William finished digging.  “It’s nearly dawn, Father.”  He was trying his best to be gentle as he hurried Ilyn along, but gentleness did not come easily to him.

The ancient vampire roused himself.  He moved slowly, gently lifting November’s body and placing it carefully into the grave.  He straightened her dress.  He finally closed her eyes.  She looked so small.  Zinnia threw a flower into the grave, her face stained with streaks of blue.  Ilyn demanded the shovel from his son and began filling in the hole; he changed his mind and joined November in the ground over William’s protests.  Now there was no need for relatives to pull him away from the fire; this time there was no reason he could not accompany her into death.  

He looked at November one more time as William began to bury them.  He closed his eyes and curled protectively around the girl, hoping that she wouldn’t be afraid when she woke up in the dark earth.

The sun rose.  The dead slept.  The living waited, standing guard as the sun rose high and warmed the earth and the seed within it.  The living waited, as the sun descended and the air grew cold.  And when the sun finally set, the seed sprouted and the dead stirred.  Two pale hands burst out of the ground, clutching one another, their fingers intertwined.  Life rose from lifelessness: a miracle.  A curse.

 

BOOK: She Dies at the End (November Snow #1)
3.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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